Sunday, September 22, 2013

Matt’s Week in Dork! (9/15/13-9/21/13)

I'm no flat tire. How 'bout a Gin Rickey?

    Trying to fit some reading and some writing in, but mostly just working and recovering from working.  Got a little cycling in.  Otherwise, mostly just stared at my walls.

Riddick:  “It matches your nipples.”  This movie is not horrible, and that’s about all I wanted from it.  I really enjoyed Pitch Black, and while I kinda enjoy Chronicles of Riddick, it never quite worked for me, seeing how it seems to take place in a totally different style of science fiction universe.  This third film feels more like Pitch Black in style, though it holds over some elements of the more fanciful Chronicles.  It starts as a Robinson Crusoe story, with Riddick left for dead on a hostile world, learning to live and thrive in the environment.  This is the best part of the movie, and I was a little sad to see him push the button that would summon more characters and shift the tone.  From that point on, it began to smell more and more of Pitch Black rehash, though it still wasn’t bad.  The dialog is frequently awkward (though nothing tops ‘you keep what you kill’ and a dozen other idiocies from Chronicles’ Necromongers).  As a science fiction movie?  This is pretty crappy.  As a fun, silly adventure film in space, this is exactly what I was looking for.  Again, if movies like this, After Earth, Oblivion, etc. were just more common, I’d be a bit harsher on them.  But as it is, big-idea, out there science fiction is still all too rare.

Beyond the Rocks:  I’m always happy to hear about movies thought lost that are rediscovered and recovered.  But, while the fact of its recovery is good, the movie itself is so-so.  A fairly bland romantic film with little to make it stand out.  Apparently, putting two big names in one feature (here, Valentino and Gloria Swanson) was unusual.  Sadly, neither seems to be especially energetic or interesting.  I’m assuming Valentino is better elsewhere, because as far as silent actors go, he did not impress in this film, and I know ladies went nuts for him once upon a time.

The Delicious Little Devil:  Not much to this short film.  It’s mildly amusing.  But it’s also pretty darned forgettable.

The Bad and the Beautiful:  Kirk Douglas’s eyes should be registered as deadly weapons.  The man can hate-stare so intently it makes women pregnant and men into women (who subsequently discover they are pregnant).  The rest of the cast is quite good.  I especially like Walter Pidgeon and Barry Sullivan (who was also awesome in the recently viewed Tension).  But it’s Douglas’s movie, and he’s a mad genius who takes no guff.  Hollywood is skewered from the inside by this expose sort of movie.  But it makes all the dirty backstage dealings seem sort of charming and exciting, anyway.  Gloria Grahame shows up briefly (somehow earning an Oscar for the part, which isn't much more than a glorified cameo) as a conniving, luxury hungry wife, and she’s quite good.

    Friday night, we all gathered at Robert’s place for a Barbeque and graphic novel club meeting.  We discussed Astonishing X-Men volumes revolving around the marriage of Northstar and his idiot boyfriend Kyle.  I was unable to read the whole assigned work for various reasons.  But as far as I made it, it was bloody awful.  I have come to hate the X-Men (and the Avengers right along side).  Just dreadful writing and awful characters.  Enough of this status quo maintaining mandated garbage.

Looks like Kyle read this garbage.

Valley of the Dragons:  I had never heard of this particular adaptation of a Jules Verne story, and I guess I can understand why.  It’s not especially interesting.  Still, I do love lost world stories.  And a lost world that is also on the Moon?  Cool.  Two big problems present themselves, however.  I don’t like when real animals are used as ‘dinosaurs.’  Partly, because they look terrible.  But mostly because I don’t like that so often it is clear that the animal was being mistreated to get the shot right.  No, I don’t think lizards have a great deal of mental capacity, nor are the self aware.  But needlessly causing pain to an animal, even to reptiles or insects seems barbaric and lacing in a degree of class.  The second problem is Rodan.  Yes, Rodan.  The giant kaiju from Japan seems to be flying around this moonscape.  I guess they had access to the footage and thought nobody would notice?  But I noticed.  Getting past that, the story of two rivals forced to work together on a hostile world is pretty good, and their adventures with the local population are nice.  The Neanderthals and whatever the heck the albino things were (Morlocks?) are especially disgusting.  Worth a watch if you’re into this sort of film, but not one to expend a great deal of effort tracking down.

    Saturday found me feeling pretty crappy, my weeks of not sleeping and stress finally catching up with me.  Some kind of cold or something.  Oh, boy.  I started going through my various con acquisitions and other sundry things that have been piling up of late.  In doing so, I read through three comics I got from local artist/writer Andy K.  Mind Games is a pretty gross little horror short.  The Secret Origin of John Elway is nuts.  And Neon Super Gladiator has a cool feel.  His stuff reminds me of something that might have been on Liquid Television back in the 90s.  Weird and uncomfortable.  I also read Jennifer Hachigian’s Pocket Editor Two, which she gave me because she liked my shirt (“Arthur Turing Fought Nazis With Science”).  It plays on that old video game thing with “All your base are belong to us” but manages to correct the grammar.  I flipped through super-nice guy Alex Fine’s Il Brutto, which re-imagines various movie characters as played by Charles Bronson.  And lastly, I looked through Sam Wolk’s Alpha Beasts and Alpha Bots, two collections of 26 drawings, each based on a letter (T is for Twiki, J is for Jersey Devil, etc.).  Quite cool.  I still have more stuff to get to, and some prints to frame.

    When I got home Friday night, I had a package waiting for me.  I keep forgetting that I’m a patron of the arts.  My old high school chum Serena Andrews is a musician and artist, and has a project she’s working on that involves a tour and a book.  I got some perks for my donation to the project, including a CD of music by Serena, which I listened to on Saturday afternoon.  Buried somewhere in the attic of my mother’s house is a cassette of Serena's music she put out back in the mid 90s.  I always liked her stuff, and still do.  It has a Tori Amos/Regina Spektor kind of thing going, with a bit of Kate Bush and Laurie Anderson.  All good in my book.

    And late Saturday night I picked up and finished the very short, but fun book Bright Young Things by Alison Maloney.  It’s a hand book for Roaring 20s living, with phrases, cocktails, party plans, and fashion, mixed with historic notes and cultural gossip of the time.  The book doesn’t go into a great deal of depth, but I think it would be a handy guide to have while reading fiction of the time (like The Great Gatsby), or history texts (like Flapper), or for those inclined, playing period roleplaying games (like Call of Cthulhu).  If you're looking for a sweet biscuit for barney-making, and you need to know if the bank's closed, this book ain't banana oil.  It's the elephant's instep, see.


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