Sunday, July 28, 2013

Matt’s Week in Dork! (7/21/13-7/27/13)

    A slow start, but a nice finish.  Good week.

Red 2:  Not quite as cute or charming as the first film, this sequel still dishes out morbid humor and silly action aplenty.  Everyone seems to be having a good time, and they sure go to a lot of nice places.  But the tension never quite ratchets up, and the plot feels a bit too meandering.  Still, not a bad sequel and worth watching if you enjoyed the first film.

MST3K: The Incredible Melting Man:  “Don’t shoot!  I’m Ted Nelson!”  One of my favorite episodes, Mike and the Bots rip into a truly dreadful movie.  Another ‘guy goes into space and comes back a monster’ movie.  It’s great.  They’re all on fire as they unload with both barrels.

Your Highness:  “Just punch the top and twist it.”  A very, very crass fantasy film about a crappy prince and his dashing brother on a quest to rescue a pretty girl from a devil wizard, it‘s often uncomfortably funny.  Pot smoking, butt sexing, and all kinds of goofing.  Great actors team up with not so great actors to abuse decency.  And I love it.

Night Passage:  Jimmy used to be bad, but now he just wants to play the accordion and maybe work for the railroad.  But he’s got a history and history has a way of creeping up on you.  There’s nothing especially amazing about this Western, but it’s solid and well made.  Nice character actors and a good action resolution.  Worth checking out.

River of No Return:  I just don’t go for Marilyn Monroe, and that’s a large part of what this movie is pushing.  She’s charming enough, I guess.  And Robert Mitchum is nicely terse.  Their adventure together doesn’t break a lot of new ground, but it’s good clean fun.  That is, until the attempted rape (“I didn‘t mean it.”  What?!).  The blue-screen work, though.  She ain’t so good.  Overall, a good but not great Western.

    I read the current issue of the magazine Classic Images, because it had an extensive article on one of my new favorite classic actresses, Ruth Chatterton.  Annoyingly, many of the movies the article picked out as being especially good are not on NetFlix and are going to require deeper searching and perhaps pocket digging.  There was also a good write-up on the recently deceased character actor R.G. Armstrong.  It prompted me to queue up a few more of his films, and kept my Western thing alive (I’ve been on a bit of a Western kick lately…though I’m not gonna try to do an official month or anything).

Queen Christina:  “Must we live for the dead.”  A bawdy tale of a tomboy queen who loves her country, desires peace, and wants to love on her own terms.  But duty drives.  Garbo exudes life, lusty and joyous.  The sequence at the inn, with the shared room, the discovery, and the aftermath are totally worth the price of admission.  And my goodness, somehow she makes eating grapes look like the most intensely sexually charged act.  It felt like something too intimate to be watching.  Crazy.  Though the overall movie isn’t amazing, it’s a very fun film.  I wish there was more to the third act, I guess.  I don’t know.  Events just sort of happen and then it’s over, without much heart.  But the first two thirds of the film are great.

    Friday night we ended up using a kind of fill-in book for our graphic novel club, Locke & Key, which was pretty last minute and surprisingly seemed to win everyone over.  This marks only the second time (I think), where everyone was in agreement and happy with the book (the first was Blacksad).

Bridget Jones’s Diary:  “Oh f*%$ I love Keats.”  A cute romantic comedy about several broken people struggling through love.  There’s nothing especially new or interesting, but the cast is charming and there are some good bits.  I appreciate the liberal F-bomb dropping.  One thing that is perhaps a bit disturbing is that Jones is supposed to be/feel fat.  I remember a lot was made of Renee Zellweger putting on weight for the role.  But she looks perfectly normal.  Not plump.  Just normal.  If she were any thinner, she’d look weird.

Disgusting. She must be an almost healthy weight. For shame.

Nick Carter: Master Detective:  A short, fairly uneventful mystery about saboteurs at an aviation plant, this is more fun as a time capsule of a paranoid era when all foreign people were trying to destroy America.  Vague, unnamed organizations with evil on the mind and limitless resources and personnel have infiltrated…well everything.  Nobody can be trusted…except maybe old, creepy beekeepers.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone:  “Nope…You’re a dude.”  There are some very funny bits in this mostly by the numbers comedy.  Nothing especially shocking or new, but an OK outing for all the cast, who seem to be having a fun time.  Jim Carry hams it up, as usual, and I could have dealt with about 60% less of his character.  Otherwise it was fine.

    On Saturday night, Lisa, Brad, and I headed to the AFI Silver to see Phantasm and Phantasm II (yeah, I’ve seen Phantasm II on the big screen…I can honestly say I never expected that to be a thing I could say).  The first film was presented by local celebrity movie presenter and commentator Count Gore De Vol.  Much fun was had.

Phantasm:  It doesn’t get a heck of a lot weirder than Phantasm.  Not just because it’s a horror movie that’s really a science fiction movie…maybe.  Not just because it features rabid jawas, flying spheres with drills and blades, a stripper-hooker who might also be a cold hating Tall Man, a giggling old seer, a kick-ass ice cream man, and a tuning fork dimensional gateway.  No, not just for those things.  It’s also so jarringly edited and aggressively scored that it never lets you rest, never lets you get your bearing, and never lets you in on quite what the hell is going on.  And it’s great.  The music is completely over the top, the acting ranging from stiff to wooden, and the story…well, it’s complicated.  But somehow, it all works when it really has no right to.  I’ve mentioned this before, but if the stars are right, Cthulhu walks the Earth, and we have become as the Old Ones (read: a shift in reality big enough to put me in control of a Hollywood motion picture), Phantasm is one of the properties I would absolutely love to get my grubby little hands on (along with Hellraiser and The Creature from the Black Lagoon).  Reggie, man.  Reggie.

Phantasm II:  The sequel has some issues, but is still quite cool.  Part of the charm of this series is its rampant continuity confusion, and this film has it aplenty.  But the wacky editing is gone, making the film less uncomfortable and challenging.  The idea of the Tall Man and his dwarfs is expanded a bit, and the hints of a greater, growing disaster facing the world begin to drop (laying the groundwork for III and IV).  Reggie takes up the mantle of badassery.  And the music continues to be a major part of the experience.  Overall, not as good as the first film, though it is more professionally made and of more consistent quality.

Reggie's makin' friends.

    That’s about it.  Still listening to a bunch of Prog Rock.  Still poking at the Bible and trying to get more reading in.


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