Sunday, January 12, 2014

Matt’s Week in Dork! (1/5/14-1/11/14)

    Didn’t get a heck of a lot of movie watching done this week.  I’ve been trying to catch up on some reading and planning for the upcoming return to gaming, and I’ve just been danged tired.  Trying to sleep hasn’t been working out too well.  I did get around to solidifying my list of Cinematic Resolutions for 2014.

The Wolf of Wall Street: There are like eight things on earth that interest me less than Wall Street and stock exchanges, so this movie had an uphill battle to rope me in.  Still, the popping style, funny dialog, and solid performances had me smiling and laughing.  Considering Lawrence of Arabia is one of my all time favorite films, and I only watch the extended versions of the Lord of the Rings, this may be an odd statement.  But the biggest problem I think I had was that the movie was just too long.  It wasn’t boring.  Not really.  Though the second half did drag at times.  But I feel like I got the point, like the message was delivered, but then it just kept going and going and going.  I don’t think, as some critics have said, that this movie is morally bankrupt.  I didn’t feel like the filmmakers were saying this sort of thing was good.  Only that it happens; it happened.  And yes, rich people get away with stuff all the time because they’re rich.  That’s just the way it is.  But within 24 hours of watching the movie, most of it had faded from my memory.  It's something I've seen, and something I enjoyed while watching, but not something that left any kind of mark on me.

Clerks II:  I really, really, really love Rosario Dawson in this.  She’s so danged cute and funny.  The rest of the movie?  Pure Kevin Smith.  If that sounds good to you, you should like this film.  I have to admit, after a few years of trying really hard to be one of the cool kids who liked Kevin Smith films, I realized I don’t.  I enjoyed Mallrats the one time I saw it, but never felt the need to watch it again.  And Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back came out while I was working in a theater, so it holds some kind of place in my heart (I may have even taken a lady friend to it, which might account for the positive vibes).  Otherwise, blah.  He’s still running through the same gags, the same obnoxious half-assed social commentary, the same bunch of dick jokes.  The nerd humor feels forced by this point, almost like self parody.  And shoehorning his wife into the film was…um…weird.  Really weird.  Creepy weird.  It just didn’t work for me.  But then, neither did Clerks or Chasing Amy.  I never felt connected to the 90s and Kevin Smith never left them.  (edit: Upon reflection, I think I’ve figured out one of the things that bothers me about Smith’s work.  He subscribes to that particular 90s brand of pseudo-feminism in which women are ALWAYS right and men are ALWAYS wrong, and if a man doesn’t immediately change any and every aspect of himself to fit what a woman wants, he’s an asshole, and part of the Patriarchy [a shadowy conspiracy that seems an awful lot like the Nazi version of the Jews, running everything from behind some horrible penis curtain].  This is just a half baked theory right now, but I think I might be onto something.)

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Gamera VS. Guiron:  “It’s a planet.”  This one is pretty darned good.  The Gamera movies are more kid friendly (read: shoddy) kaiju movies, and their American releases had some epically bad dubbing.  All the stuff with young Richard Burton cracks me up.  And the ending piano bar thing with eventual host Mike is priceless and weird.  Perhaps not in the upper echelons of the series, but a darned fine entry, none the less.

Raiders of the Lost Ark:  Straight up, one of the best danged movies ever made, and one of the very top action films.  It’s also the film I can trace a great deal of me back to.  At the core of my interests, my loves, and my way of looking at the world, there is Raiders.  Karen Allen was one of my very first crushes, and became a template for the tough, black haired ladies I’ve always found myself falling for.  Indiana Jones became the model for my ideal self (one never achieved).  History, geography, religion, archeology, and fighting Nazi bastards became essential thoughts for young Matt, and paved the way for my life to come.  It’s beautifully shot, tense, funny, action packed, and sweeping.  It’s a true homage to the serials and adventure films and fiction of the 30s and 40s, and a great way to spend an evening.

47 Ronin:  If I were 13 and had never seen any movies about samurai, or any Asian fantasy films, this would probably have been pretty cool.  A good springboard movie for me to get into other, better films.  Unfortunately, I’m nearing 40 and I’ve seen everything in this film done before in much, much better films.  I was hoping for a Pirates of the Caribbean type action fantasy film with a Japanese style.  In stead, I got a made for TV, slow paced retread, with little passion and less excitement.  I liked the look and feel of the film, but the script and the acting were not so good.  And shooting digital made everything look cheap, like soap operas.  Still, it wasn’t awful, just dull.  It should have been much, much better.

    I finally got around to listening to Kate Nash’s new album, Girl Talk.  It’s more polished than her previous work, and very catchy.  She’s talking about the same stuff, bad relationships mostly.  But some of her poor London girl charm is missing, due to that polished, studio sound.  And there’s a weird undercurrent of feminism lip-service, like she’s trying to set herself up as some kind of crusader.  But that feels a bit half-hearted.  Whatever the case, the album is pretty good, and fans of her earlier work should enjoy it.

Despicable Me 2:  I didn’t love the first film, but I enjoyed it just fine.  This second movie is more of the same.  It’s funny, occasionally very funny, and cute.  But at the end of the day, not something I’ll be thinking back on too much.  If you enjoyed the first one, by all means, check this out.

Images:  I guess this film captures the point of view of someone who’s completely insane, but that doesn’t really make for a particularly watchable movie.  There’s little to latch your brain onto, so very little to understand or follow.  Every scene and shot is unreliable, so what does anything matter.  In that classically 70s way, everyone is absolutely awful and emotionally bankrupt.  Just unpleasant.

We Are What We Are:  Writer/director Jim Mickle and frequent collaborator, actor/writer Nick Damici have put together another entertaining, atmosphere rich, modern horror film.  I watched Mulberry Street on a whim, and was shocked that such a silly premise turned out to be such a moody and watchable film.  Stakeland, their follow-up was equally as moody, and also quite entertaining.  And now with We Are What We Are, a remake of a Mexican horror film from a couple years back, they’ve cemented their place as high quality-low budget film makers to watch.  This movie looks better than many big budget Hollywood films, has excellent acting, and a good slow-burn pace.  Mickle isn’t re-inventing the wheel here.  He’s not breaking new ground or making movies that will change the way you think about film.  But he’s making good horror movies.  And that makes him a rare breed these days.  Horror has been a near dead genre since the late 80s, and now I’m starting to feel like there’s still potential in it.

    That’s about it for this week.  A lot of things in life are kind of on hold for a bit right now.  My holiday horror isn’t quite over yet.  Soon.


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