Sunday, October 13, 2013

Matt’s Week in Dork! (10/6/13-10/12/13)

    Not a whole heck of a lot going on.  I did read Godzilla: The Half-Century War.  Otherwise, just having my spirit crushed.

Jesse James:  Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda are fine in this perfectly OK film version of the classic American outlaw tale.  Pushed too far by railroad men, two brothers fight back…then keep fighting until they become full fledged bandits.  A nice supporting cast helps, but at the end of the day, it’s only an OK movie.  Not bad, but not amazing.

The Return of Frank James:  Henry Fonda reprises his role as Frank James in this sequel to the previous year’s Jesse James.  It too is fine, but nothing special.  If anything, this revenge movie is far too nice, too much of what TV would become.  And the Clem character?  Holy crap does he suck.  Gene Tierney made her big screen debut as a plucky girl-reporter.  Sadly, she’s not very good.  She’s cute enough, and it’s not like she’s terrible or anything.  Just not memorable.  Sort of like rest of the film.  Director Fritz Lang seems to have brought none of his visual flare along with him.

Dinosaur Valley Girls:  You may not expect it, but this movie is garbage.  Sadly, it’s not all that fun either.  I like dinosaurs.  I like dames.  Dinosaurs and dames have made a great combination many times before.  But cavegirls and fake boobs don’t work.  Also, writing is always a plus.  Good writing even more so.

My Young Auntie:  I’m generally not a fan of Hong Kong comedy (or any non-English language comedy).  I find there tends to be too much cultural specific stuff for me to engage in the humor.  And humor is such a monumentally subjective thing, that is very, very difficult to translate.  So, imagine my shock when I found myself enjoying the heck out of this story of a pretty young woman battling expectations and greedy relatives.  The fighting is top notch Shaw Bros. stuff, too.  I’d recommend watching it with the dubbing, as that adds to the amusement.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home:  The first Star Trek film I saw on the big screen is still one of my favorites.  It’s goofy fun, with lots of great lines.  And it’s probably the best film where it comes to giving all the characters moments to shine, especially McCoy and Scotty.  Considering this is one of the most successful films in the series, it’s frustrating that no other movie has imitated it, instead opting for rehashing Wrath of Khan’s formula.  Where are the dilemmas that need solving?  Where is the fun?  No, it’s darkness, war, and the villain that needs to be punched into submission.  Cut it out, Star Trek producers/writers.  It’s time to recapture some of the lighthearted and hopeful spirit of Star Trek IV.

Doctor Who: The Curse of Fenric:  One of the best Sylvester McCoy stories, this one has some good bits, and some interesting ideas.  But it’s still only OK.  As I near the end of McCoy’s run, and of the original Doctor Who series in general, I can absolutely see what it was canceled.  From the last season of Colin Baker on, the writing seems to have gone down the toilet.  Occasional bright spots serve to highlight the overall drop in quality.  And unfortunately, a lot of the worst aspects of this era seem to have been held over into the new series, especially the Stephen Moffat era.

Frankenstein The True Story:  This 3 hour, made for TV adaptation of the classic novel is pretty good.  It’s not as ‘faithful’ to the source material as I’d been led to believe, but it’s still probably the best adaptation of the book.  I have yet to see a film that treats the monster right, but this one seems to have done a better job of capturing the irresponsibility of Victor.  The thing about the original Shelley novel that I always liked is it didn’t actually condemn the science, so much as the lack of responsibility on the part of the scientist.  Adam was not evil, but was driven to do evil by circumstances created and exacerbated by his creator, Victor Frankenstein.  He is an immensely powerful child, given no direction or love by his parent.  This movie does not really get into that aspect of things as much as I’d have liked.  Still, it’s pretty good, and it’s worth seeking out.

    I tried a new wine that I ended up really enjoying.  Dearly Beloved: I Thee Red.  It’s mellow and went with the seared chicken and spicy rice I had for dinner.  I’m not much of a wine guy, so I’m trying out some various types to see if I can develop some kind of appreciation of it.

Human Desire:  Director Fritz Lang, stars Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame reunite a year after making the amazing film The Big Heat to craft another twisted Noir tale of love and betrayal.  Unfortunately, lightening did not strike twice, and this film is nowhere near as tense, brutal, or compelling as The Big Heat.  It’s not bad, but it’s not especially good, either.  Ford is fine, though he seems a bit out of place as a blue-collar rail worker.  Grahame is fine, too, if a bit shrill.

    So, I’ve had access to cable TV for a few months; the first time since moving to Virginia six years ago.  And generally speaking, it sucks total ass.  But TCM is a pretty cool channel, and on Saturday it gave me a chance to see a couple science fiction films I’d never seen, It Came from Outer Space and The World, The Flesh and the Devil.  TCM, the AFI Silver and to a lesser degree the Alamo Drafthouse have all combined create a kind of ambient noise of classic cinema that has me feeling pretty good about movies, even as I suffer through a dreadful year of film.  Plus, I’ve been catching a bunch of other older films through various other means recently.  It’s been quite nice.

It Came from Outer Space:  In tune with a lot of 50s sci-fi films, this has plenty of heavy-handed moralizing.  The acting is fine and the film looks good.  But the story is meh.  The creature is kind of cool, and I like the way seeing it seems to drive people temporarily mad, like something out of Lovecraft.  The ending is pretty cool; and somewhat unusual for its time.

The World, The Flesh and the Devil:  Harry Belafonte is working underground when something really bad happens.  Finally climbing up into the sun again, he finds himself alone in a desolate New York City.  The first half hour or so is carried completely by Belafonte, and there are moments that remind me of the early part of The Omega Man, making me wonder if this served as something of an inspiration (beyond the novel I Am Legend, obviously).  This certainly covers some similar ground, though without any supernatural/plague element.  When he meets a woman, things become more complicated, and suddenly the racial tensions ramp up.  This becomes even more intense when another man, a white man, arrives on the scene.  How much of their pre-nuke baggage will they hold on to, how much can they cast off?  Once the conflict becomes a three-way, it becomes quite odd, building to a rather strange ending that can’t be accused of being typical.  Good use of early morning New York to create a lifeless world.

Thunder Birds:  On the home front, some young men need to learn the ins and outs of flying.  And of course, along the way, catch the eye of a lovely young lady.  Gene Tierney is that lady, and by Odin’s beard, she’s gorgeous.  From her extremely sexy reveal through her search for love.  Goodness.  The movie is an interesting look into the Wartime attitudes about various things, including people from other countries, romance, and stockings.  By no means a great classic, it’s still quite entertaining.

    That’s about it.  I’ve spent a lot of time staring at the wall this week.  It’s been a rough go.

Get it done!


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