Sunday, January 26, 2014

Matt’s Week in Dork! (1/19/14-1/25/14)

    Not a lot of movies this week, but some good dork life living.  Finished a book, listened to some tunes, and did a bunch of reading and worrying in preparation for hosting my first role playing game in a very, very long time (with one very brief exception 3 years ago).

Airplane:  Some of the humor of this film is lost now, due primarily to the world changing.  It’s not shocking to hear some of the topics addressed in such a frank way.  But in spite of some of that inevitable aging any comedy that dares to tackle current events or cultural trends is going to go through, it’s still quite funny, and some jokes appear to be timeless.  It’s so absurd, but so well delivered.  And every danged line Peter Graves delivers is pure gold.

    Sunday night, Lisa, Brad, and myself headed out to the Alamo Drafthouse to see an early favorite of mine, Brazil.  It was really something seeing the film on the big screen, and the first time really watching it in a several years.  What a wild movie, and it must have been pretty darned out there when it hit theaters.

Brazil:  One of those films that was so important to impressionable young Matt, Brazil captures that faded dream of a retro-future Utopia so beautifully.  Terry Gilliam tries his hands at Orwell, through the lens of Kafka, and the results are amazing.  It’s funny, it’s unsettling, it’s horribly dark and on occasion, downright mean.  And it’s full of fantastic performances.  Even the repair men are great.  The script is funny.  The world creation is phenomenal.  The music is great.  A classic, all around.

Snow Queen:  Ten minutes in, I checked the runtime and my heart sank.  Three boring hours.  Boring, boring, boring hours.  Made in Canada.  Made for TV.  Dullsville.  Acting sucks.  Directing is lifeless.  Script is crap.

In the Mirror of Maya Deren:  This documentary, as surface as one expects from less than two hours, does serve as an overview of the woman and her art.  Plenty of interviews with people who knew and worked with her, combined with some footage from her films lets you get something of a sense of Deren, a strange and passionate person who broke a lot of rules, and not just the obvious one of being a woman filmmaker in the 40s.  Her work exudes the dream logic I’ve come to love in later David Lynch, as well as the late Euro-trash cinema wunderkind Jean Rollin.  Can I tell you what a lot of her films mean?  No.  Not remotely.  But they capture a mood.  As a jumping off point, I think this film works very well.  I kind of wish I’d seen it 15 or 20 years ago, when I was interested in voodoo.  Deren did a great deal of research and filming, and even wrote a book on the subject, which apparently gets high praise.  A woman ahead of her time, her work is something film fans should seek out.

    On Friday night, I finished Cleopatra.  An excellent, accessible look into the late Egyptian world and the beginnings of the Roman Empire we tend to think of when we think of Ancient Rome.  It reads like a novel, while having lots of insight and context.

The Flame and the Arrow:  “We’re civilized and the art of civilization is doing natural things in an unnatural way.  I’m just a little more civilized than other men.”  Medieval adventure with heaping piles of high-flying gymnastics.  Burt Lancaster can’t seem to stop doing crazy circus tricks with his outlaw buddies, as they face off against a typically stuffy historic adventure movie foe.  The girls are pretty, the guys are dashing, the villains are pompous.  And the sets look pretty good.  Hardly a game changing classic, it bares more than a passing resemblance to any number of other Technicolor action films of its time.  But it’s fast paced and filled with fun, colorful characters.  And that’s pretty good in my book.

    Saturday night we had our 20th meeting of our graphic novel club, hosted by Brad and Lisa.  This time around we read Sailor Twain, which while lauded by critics, turned out not to wow most of us in the group.  A couple people hated it, one person really liked it, and most of us felt very mixed.  It’s no wonder I stalled while writing my review for it nearly a month ago.  I’ll have to go back and try to finish it.


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