Sunday, February 2, 2014
Matt’s Week in Dork! (1/26/14-2/1/14)
Heck of a week for this here Dork. Sunday started with something of a bang, when I finally assembled a handful of friends for a tabletop roleplaying game. It’s been so danged long since last I gamed, and the first gathering was mostly logistics, explanations, and finally making characters. But it was good, none the less.
Sunday evening, Lisa, Brad, and I headed out to the Alamo to see City Lights, my first experience with Charlie Chaplin. I know. How could I have lived this long, loved classics, and enjoyed so many silent films and not seen Charlie Chaplin? I don’t know. But there it is. City lights isn’t the movie I picked to be my cinematic resolution (that was The Gold Rush). But I had it on good authority that it was very good.
City Lights: My first experience with Charlie Chaplin, this silent comedy is extremely charming. After a lifetime of seeing imitators, it’s really something to see the original, and he’s so much better. The film is very funny, with plenty of physical comedy, but also a lot of situational laughs. The entire boxing sequence, from the first moments in the locker through the fight and its aftermath had me laughing. But I think my favorite moment in the film is the nude statue in the window bit. So danged funny. I’m looking forward to watching more Chaplin in the near future.
I, Frankenstein: I re-dub thee: I, Exposition. When reading books on writing screenplays, I think the creators of this film got things mixed up. Instead of ‘show, don’t tell’ they must have read ‘tell, don’t show.’ In a generic European city, where it’s always dark and there appears to be maybe ten or twelve normal humans, mostly riding in a single subway car, there’s a secret war that’s been going on for hundreds of years, between demons and gargoyles. Didn’t catch that? Don’t worry. Every character will explain it in excruciating detail to every other character a half dozen times. They’ll also repeatedly explain how demons ‘descend’ and gargoyles ‘ascend.’ And they’ll go over Adam (aka Frankenstein’s Monster), his origin, his nature, and his power…again and again and again (he’s strong, he’s got no soul, he wasn’t created by God…seriously, they’ll tell you about it every five minutes). The script for the film is absolutely awful. Half way through I couldn’t shake off how much it felt like something Chris Claremont would have written around the time he was doing X-Men. Stilted dialog, ham-fisted exposition, and ‘probably sounds cool to a twelve year old’ tough-guy dialog. If you watch it with friends, and give it the ol’ Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment, it’s lots of fun. Otherwise, I have a strong feeling it’s just super dull.
Killer Snakes: Willard with snakes. That’s pretty much it. A dirty little perv can’t catch a break, because he’s a spaz and a creeper. So he kills people with snakes. And then with lizards for some reason. The lizards seemed out of character. It would be like Leatherface using a gun. It’s not that he can’t. I’m not trying to limit his options. It just seems…I don’t know, like he’s not sincere about the whole thing. Stick with the snakes, man. It’s your thing. Anyway, the movie sucks.
The Ghost: “Anything yes…Not that.” The creepy, bulgy, fish eyes of Barbara Steele lurk in the shadows as her invalid husband clings to life. There’s the usual philandering and naughty doings. And it’s all dubbed very poorly. Typical ghost-revenge movie stuff.
Dead Eyes of London: Those evil blind people are up to no good…gropingly, clumsily up to no good. Pretty standard horror stuff, with a big blind murderer and some hints at old family badness. A few twists and turns and the story plays out in much the way you expect. Still, it’s very well shot and drips with atmosphere (almost literally, as the fog machines seemed to be cranked to 11). Worth a watch if it’s on, if not an extra effort.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2: In recent years, there have been a few genuinely surprising kids movies, films far better than what one expects. Pixar’s secret of not trying to pass off crap because kids don’t care has started to catch on. The first Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was one such surprise, and even more unexpected was how good the follow-up is. It’s laugh out loud funny, a good story, and visually impressive. The voice work is good and the script is excellent. And they managed to create a good sequel without just rehashing the first one.
I don’t know if I’ve written much about this on the blog before, but I wrote a script for a short film, an idea I’ve been kicking around for many years (since before I left Maine). Through luck and timing, I found someone looking for a new project, and willing to read my script. A few re-writes later, and we’re ready to move on it. On Saturday, Satnam (the director) and Torsten (the actor) stopped by the apartment for a read-through of the script. It was really something. I’m still riding a high from hearing words I wrote spoken by someone who knows how to act. I had a similar thing the first time I saw a comic script realized by an artist. Very cool. I’m very excited for the actual filming and for seeing it all completed.
The Singing Ringing Tree: “Now you don’t look quite so ugly.” A German production of one of the less well known (seemingly) Grimm Brothers story, this is thankfully narrated by a BBC fellow, as it isn’t re-dubbed or subtitled. It’s very fanciful and very staged, but charming in its way. It feels like a mix of Beauty and the Beast, Hans My Hedgehog, and little bits and pieces of some other stories. But a lot of these fairy tales seem to mix and match moments, themes, and characters. More so when they’re made into films. I really like this one, in spite of its obvious technical limitations.
So, a good week. Scheduling the next game meeting was challenging, but we seem to have gotten it figured out. Between that, getting the movie together, and a bunch of social plans, I’m gonna be a busy bee for a time.