Sunday, October 6, 2013

Matt’s Week in Dork! (9/29/13-10/5/13)

    I feel a bit better about this particular week in dork, if only because I was able to be really lazy on Sunday and watch a bunch of movies, something I haven’t been able to do in a while.  I needed the rest, though it turned out not to be enough.  Not too much else going on, except that for about two hours, the Godzilla trailer was out there on the internet, and it looked good.  Not sure why it was taken down; that seems silly.

    On Sunday morning, I watched a few episodes of the serial killer TV series Hannibal.  Is it great?  No.  Honestly, it’s not even all that good.  But it’s watchable fluff.  For a show from one of the major networks, it’s shockingly adult, and I don’t just mean about the gore.  I mean, it’s not something a child or an illiterate feeb could follow with ease, making it at least better than ER, Big Bang Theory, or dozens (hundreds?…thousands?) of other similar crappy shows.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec:  “Who allowed you to shoot at science?”   Certainly, it is no great distinction, but this is Luc Besson’s best film since The Fifth Element.  It has a nice blend of his usual quirky humor, French sensibilities, and old timey adventure.  A plucky gal reporter travels the globe having crazy adventures, but her current quest involves a mummy, a mad scientist, an intellectual mummy, and a pterodactyl, all part of a puzzle that will save her infirmed sister.  Like most Besson films, it’s quirky and occasionally annoying, but unlike a lot of his more recent work, it’s fun enough to still be mildly enjoyable.  I’d have loved it as a kid, and I think that’s its best audience, with just enough potty humor and macabre to really rope ‘em in.  And who knows, maybe this will lead them to reading the comics and other books that inspire this sort of thing.  It also features possibly the only not terrible score by Eric Serra I’ve heard, so there’s something.

Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance:  The first film was an interesting take on the classic samurai film, with a swordswoman on a bloody quest for revenge.  This second film feels like an afterthought, with little of particular interest.  It’s fine I guess.  But I wouldn’t bother seeking it out.

The Brotherhood of Satan:  Another on a long list of 70s films about Satanists, this one has some cool bits, but like most of the others, it’s ultimately quite boring.  Lots of long, quiet shots, and sudden surreal action.  Lots of good character actors.  Worth checking out as a companion to The Devil’s Rain or Race With the Devil.  Just don’t go in looking for a classic.

The 70s, man.

Priest:  “I am the bringer of the tide.”  This movie is hardly genius, but it’s visually interesting and fairly fun.  It’s the sort of weird science fiction film that shouldn’t be so rare, where the filmmakers use modern technology to present something a bit different.  At the time, it was the closest thing to a Judge Dredd film (or Mutant Chronicles) I had seen.  Of course, now Dredd exists and that isn’t the case anymore.  Still, it’s an enjoyable little romp, and at least the vampires are monsters, not romantic heroes.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir:  “As for me morals, I lived a man’s life, and I’m not ashamed of it.”  A gorgeous widow moves into a beautiful old haunted house, the dwelling place of an old sea captain’s ghost.  She’s brassy and he’s cantankerous.  It doesn’t take long for sparks to fly.  It’s a very cute romance, and the actors both have a great deal of fun with it.

Sundown:  Gene Tierney is the adventurous lady of dubious background who gets mixed up with some bloody business in Africa.  Gun running, conscientious objectors, and hidden bases.  This is no classic. It’s a pretty forgettable espionage adventure film, but watchable.  If you’re looking for movies to supplement your Indiana Jones love, you can throw this on the list, but don’t make the extra effort if it’s not readily available.

Godzilla Raids Again:  The English dubbed/edited version of this film is a mess, but a funny one.  The Japanese version is more serious, though not nearly as good as the original film, or as interesting and strange as the later entries in the series would become.  It’s worth a watch for fans of the series, and does have some good bits, but it’s forgettable.

Son of Fury:  Tyrone Power is full of haughty, baby-faced rage with just enough charm to be likable.  Gene Tierney is only slightly more Polynesian than I am (read: 0%), but OH MY GOODNESS does she look amazing in her Hollywood island garb.  Mmmmm.  It’s a fun movie, and I really enjoy John Carradine’s supporting role.

Slaves in Bondage:  One of those ‘morality pictures’ that were so popular in the day.  Basically, just an excuse to show women in various stages of undress, doing various forms of naughty business…all in the name of educating people on the dangers of free love, drink, and any sort of fun.  The acting is markedly dreadful, with exceptionally awkward dialog.  It’s terrible fun.

Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.:  One of the better new Godzilla films, this one builds on a lot of what’s gone before, taking the whole ‘Godzilla’s bones’ thing to its obvious, Mothra infused conclusion.  The characters are OK, and the call-backs to classic films are well done.  There’s some genuine emotional stuff, and a good ending.  Plus, some crazy action.  I’m generally not as into these post-1985 films as I am the original run, but this is certainly a good entry.

Glen and Randa:  What if Adam and Eve were from Brooklyn…and morons?  In this post-atomic war story about a couple of naïve young people wandering around being stupid, we’re subjected to some strange images and weird behavior.  Not a good film, but an interesting low budget exercise.  It’s full of all that post-hippie disillusionment and self-hatred that has infected most science fiction since the 60s.  There are some good scenes.  Worth checking out, but don’t expect much.  Kind of like Idaho Transfer.  This has an X rating, but it's from a time before X meant 'porn.'  At worst, it should have an R.  There's nudity and a bit of awkward sexuality, but nothing to push it any higher than an R, for sure.

The Misfits:  Wow.  This is an absolutely brutal portrait of a bunch of broken people on a booze fueled journey into hell.  The film is uncomfortable and painful, and the characters all way past their breaking point.  It’s fascinating, really.  I’m still no Monroe fan, nor am I much of a Gable fan.  But they’re both oddly compelling here.  It’s some stark, strange stuff.  Melodrama of high order.  It has a lurking menace to it, something about the music or the lighting, I don’t know.  But through the whole movie, I really wasn’t sure how dark they were gonna go, how brutal it was gonna be.  And, coming out around the time the Hayes codes were breaking down made the possibilities just that much more.  Remembered now as the final film of Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable, it is worth seeing past that ignominious distinction to see the film as it is, part of a changing tide of film as Hollywood began to shake the dust and cobwebs off.

Whirlpool:  Not an amazing Noir by any means, this does feature an especially fun and sleazy performance by Jose Ferrer.  I tuned in because of my building Gene Tierney obsession, but her role, while central to the film, was uninteresting.  You could have replaced her with any passable starlet of the time and nobody would have noticed.

    I’ve got multiple books going right now, not making a lot of progress in any of them.  Heck, I’ve even got a working CD player again, so I’m back to listening to audio books while I make my breakfast, which means I picked back up where I left off with a Cleopatra biography I was listening to last year.

    Seeing that trailer (now taken down, but no doubt coming out again soon) for the new Godzilla recharged my Kaiju engines again.  Not that they were all that run down.  And it worked out, because Tokyo S.O.S. had just come to me through NetFlix.  So, I’m gonna give Half Century War another read and do a review of that soon.  Darned fine comic series.


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