Sunday, May 25, 2014

Matt’s Week in Dork! (5/18/14-5/24/14)

    Another good week.  Work has been rough, but life has been good.  That makes a huge difference.  I’ve been listening to a bunch of new music lately, but haven’t been able to concentrate on it as much as I need to.  Sometime coming up, I’ll be doing a new “What I’m Listening To” post.  Some good stuff.  Been reading a lot, too.  Should have some more to say on that soon, too.  I’m so glad I’ve got a long weekend.  I need it.

Too much Prog Rock?

Godzilla VS. Megaguirus:  There are some bits of this one I really enjoy, and I like the sort of evil Mothra creature.  But for the most part, this one is another mild dud, featuring so-so characters.  The various stages that lead up to Megaguirus are disgusting.

Black Orpheus:  An absolutely gorgeous film adaptation of the Greek myth, this vibrantly colorful movie is a treat for the eyes.  It’s also crammed full of music and dance.  It really takes its time and creates a mad world of joy, danger, life and death.  Breno Mello is a likable cad.  Marpessa Dawn is stunning.  Orpheus’s descent into the Underworld is pretty wild.

    Monday night, Paul, Ben, Brad, Lisa and I all headed out to the Alamo to watch Big Trouble in Little China.  Brad and I saw it some time ago on the big screen (I don’t remember where/when) and it was an OK showing.  But for whatever reason, I was really into it Monday night, and it was a great time.  Ben wasn’t so into the film, and I think he might think the lot of us are nuts for loving it.  But dang it, I do love it so.  I also enjoy how much Lisa loves it.  She’s like a tiger defending her cub.  Awesome.


Big Trouble in Little China:  “We really shook the Pillars of Heaven, didn’t we, Wang?”  My second favorite film of all time.  It’s an amazing conjunction of Kurt Russell, John Carpenter, Chinese mythology, and the mid 80s.  It’s got a crackerjack script, with tons and tons of stuff to catch on re-watch.  In fact, for a long time, I used to say I saw something new every time I watched the film (and that’s a LOT of darned viewings, let me tell you).  Seeing it on the big screen this time around, it proved to be true, as I (and oddly Brad noticed the same thing for the first time) saw David Lo Pan’s blade like fingernails extending during his transformation from the little basket case on wheels to the ten-foot-tall roadblock.  What I didn’t realize during my many viewings of the film as a lad was something that dawned on me about 10 or 12 years ago.  Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) is the bumbling comic side-kick.  You think, sitting down to watch an 80s action movie starring Russell, that he’s the hero.  And we do spend much of the film seeing the mad world of Chinatown through his eyes.  But Wang is the hero, here.  Wang is the guy on the quest, the warrior who much triumph over evil.  Jack is his idiot buddy who gets into trouble left and right, who delivers the jokes and takes the falls.  And Russell is such a sport about it, looking like a moron, mugging for the camera and taking pratfalls that would make Bruce Campbell proud.  I also realized on this viewing, that Gracie Law was probably supposed to be played by a Chinese actress, which would have made a heck of a lot more sense for a lot of reasons.  A wonderful films.  Nearly thirty years on and it’s still bringing me a lot of pure joy.

    On Wednesday night, I headed in to DC and met up with Rebecca to check out Coming Attractions Trailer Night with the DC Film Society.  It was an interesting little event, with free giveaways and a chance to vote on the most interesting trailers (which I gather gets passed on to powers that be).  I got a copy of Donkey Skin out of it, which is cool, because I’ve been wanting to see that film for some time.  And free stuff is awesome.  The two film critics?  Well, I’m always a bit taken aback by film critics who don’t seem to enjoy watching movies.  Both seemed to hate everything (though one liked Ted, I think).  It was like listening to hipsters yammer on about how everything you like is stupid.  If it had explosions or action, it was too actiony.  If it didn’t, it was boring.  OK.  They do prove that anyone can do the job, so maybe one day someone will pay me to do it.  That would be swell.

The Railway Man:  A fine film, well made and well acted.  It deals with the scars of war, the horrors that haunt people who have been through terrible things.  And it looks at the human cost of human villainy, on both the victim and the perpetrator.  Colin Firth is typically excellent.  I have mixed feelings on the horrors portrayed in the film.  On the one hand, I don’t feel like I need to be subjected to the absolutely disgusting things done to folks by the Japanese during this time.  On the other hand, I don’t know that what was shown would have made the extremely broken man depicted by Firth.  Does that make sense?  I’m not sure what would have been better.  I don’t think violence needed to be explicit.  Perhaps it would have been more effective if what torture was shown, particularly during the final interrogation hadn’t been shown, had been more hints and glimpses?  I don’t know.  I think back to Lawrence of Arabia, when Lawrence is captured by the Turks.  We don’t see what happens to him, but that, combined with his attitude shift, lets us know that it was some inhuman stuff.  Anyway, the movie is quite good, and well worth seeing.  I don’t think it’s great, and I think it could have been.  It would be a good companion to The Bridge on the River Kwai.

    I had a crazy week, involving a lot of traveling around the region, and a lot of late nights and early mornings.  So, when Friday afternoon came along and I got home from work, I was looking forward to plopping down on the couch with a glass of wine and some dinner, and a movie or two.  No sooner had my clothes hit the floor than I got a text from Brad.  “Wanna go see Cold in July at E Street at 9:30 tonight?”  Perhaps the sane answer would have been no.  With little thought, I responded in the affirmative, and so found myself heading in to DC once again.

Cold in July:  Want some brutal, ugly neo-Noir?  Try this.  It’s 1989, and after a home invasion puts a nervous schlub in the spotlight, a vengeful ex-con comes a’calling.  Where the movie goes from there?  You’ll never suspect.  You can’t blame this one for being ‘too predictable.’  Michael C. Hall is good as the doofy, horrible haired bumbler.  Sam Shepard wowed me as the deadly old criminal.  And I was shocked to find myself loving Don Johnson.  Could it be time?  Could Old Man Johnson become someone I look forward to seeing in films?  Time will tell.  Co-writer and Jim Mickle regular Nick Damici shows up for a quick supporting role as a local sheriff.  This film starts dark.  Then it kind of lightens up.  Then it goes really, really, unsettlingly dark.  The music and the look of the film are very 80s, but the black heart feels like it comes out of the nastiest of Hard Boiled Pulp Fiction.

Grand Piano:  De Palma wishes he could get this close to Hitchcock.  No, the movie isn’t all that great.  But it’s pretty good, and does a better job of doing De Palma’s derivative wannabe Hitch than De Palma ever did.  The acting is fine.  The tension is good.  The way it all plays out?  Well, sometimes that ain’t so good.  I liked it.  It’s interesting.  It’s not anything to get all worked up about, but if it’s on and you’re not busy, it’s worth watching.

Kenneth Anger: Volume I:  This collection of avant-garde short films from the 40s and 50s is an interesting glimpse into the underground, independent, ‘art’ film world of that time.  However, I didn’t find these films particularly interesting or inspiring.  Puce Moment is probably my favorite.  Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome had some good stuff, but went on for WAY too long and became extremely repetitive.  The others were kind of meh.  I much prefer the work of Maya Deren, whose surreal short films create a lot more atmosphere and emotion.  Many of these Anger films seem cobbled together, or like technical experiments.

Raze:  Ugh.  Zoe Bell.  What are you doing?  Why won’t you let me love you?  You’re so funny and charming, so tough and fit.  You seem like a cool lady, and you sure as heck seem capable of being one massively badass action heroine.  Yet, time and again, you star in shoddy, hollow films with awful scripts.  Raze is yet another potentially interesting idea turned to crap (see Angel of Death or Bitch Slap).  A secret society kidnaps women, trying to create warrior women?  OK.  Groovy idea.  Maybe it’ll have a touch of Cabin in the Woods’s modernization of paganism?  Maybe.  However in execution, this is just crap.  The acting is a mixed bag, where most of the nuts are rotten.  The action is boring (super, super boring).  The way the film plays out is obvious, bordering on insulting (it’s on the insulting side of that border).  I wanted to like it.  I wanted to take something away from it.  I still really, really want to like Zoe Bell and look forward to seeing her in films.  But I didn’t.  I don’t.  I’m sad.

    Another week down.  Looks like some of my Summer Anticipation movies are going to be difficult to see.  Tracks doesn’t seem to be playing anywhere.  We’ll see.


Sure is raining cats and dogs...

No comments:

Post a Comment