Sunday, June 22, 2014

Matt’s Week in Dork! (6/15/14-6/21/14)


    Looking at this week, it probably looks like I didn’t accomplish much, Dork Life or otherwise.  And that’s not far off.  But I was busy, in my way.  I had a moment of inspiration and started laying the groundwork for a book (don’t know if it’ll go anywhere), then had an epiphany about an old story I never finished, that recharged in my interest in it.  We’ll see if anything comes of it.  But it was a good feeling, if nothing else.


Dagon:  Why name this Dagon?  It’s an adaptation of The Shadow Over Innsmouth, not Dagon.  They’re two different (though somewhat related) stories.  Anyway, the film has some good bits thrown in, but is mostly uninspired.  The Shadow Over Innsmouth is probably the most obvious Lovecraft story to adapt to the screen, yet this is the only time I know of that it’s been attempted.  And failed.  There are worse Lovecraft adaptations.  But thankfully, there are better, too.


The Machine:  Painfully middle of the road, this movie had all the parts it needed to be really good, but not the will.  Punches were pulled, not just in terms of its made-for-TV level of violence and sex, but in its fear of pushing the concepts into new or challenging directions.  Lots of cool stuff is introduced, but none is followed through with any depth.  With low budget film, there is little excuse for making the plot progression bland.  So, this one is a failure.


Trouble in Paradise:  Ernst Lubitsch knew comedy.  Cheeky, dryly witty, occasionally raunchy, and constantly charming, this film isn’t quite as much fun as Design for Living, but it’s close.  Miriam Hopkins and Herbert Marshal are absolutely adorable together.  The dialog is quick and surprising.  Very much a must see.  And it’s pre-Code, so its mind is fully in the gutter, and wonderfully so.  And stalwart goofball Edward Everett Horton makes an obligatory appearance, with his usual put-upon antics and double-takes.


The Tales of Hoffmann:  Did I just trip the proverbial balls?  Imagine that crazy-ass dream sequence from The Red Shoes was turned into a feature length opera/ballet.  Yeah.  If I believed in gods, this would be against their laws.  There are lots of beautiful (and no small number of terrifying) sequences.  But I think the whole thing is so divorced from sanity as to be difficult to sit through.


Wild Strawberries:  I don’t know if it’s weird for this film to have been made by a young man, or obvious.  I think there comes a time in many a man’s life, certainly in that of the writer, when they discover and are nearly overwhelmed with nostalgia.  Perhaps it’s the realization of mortality making memories and experiences more important?  I don’t know.  But I’ve been in a place where I could have made this film (if I were a talented filmmaker), so in spite of it being about an old man’s life, perhaps it is a young man’s film.  It’s Bergman, so I’m sure there have been Film Studies papers written on the subject, and critical discussions far more profound than anything I can muster.  What I can say is that I enjoyed the heck out of the movie.  Victor Sjostrom is a charming old fellow, and manages to play kindly, sad, resigned, yet full of wonder and joy, making a rounded and complicated character.  Ingrid Thulin as his daughter-in-law is captivating.  She’s like staring at the ocean, seeing ripples on the surface, but knowing there’s chaos just beneath.  The movie is packed with emotional moments, taking you from amusement to sadness, to joy and back.  It’s cute.  It’s touching.  It’s a darned fine film.  And it’s yet another reminder that while Bergman did a few ART! films, with dense symbolism and what have you, he also made a lot of movies that are just about life, and are as relatable and watchable as can be.


    Brad and I headed over to the Mosaic Center to watch The Rover at The Angelica.  That’s when we found out that NOTHING is open before 11AM there on a Saturday.  The whole area was packed with people, yet there were maybe like three shops open, and the only restaurant we found was a Panera Bread.  It reminded me of when my friend and I went in to DC a month or so back and for blocks couldn’t find a place that opened on Saturday.  There are people running around with money to burn, and nobody to take it.  Weird.  How do shops not open by 9AM?  10 at the outside?


The Rover:  This movie shoots you in the stomach and leaves you in the desert to die.  In the burning heat of the Australian Outback, ten years after civilization collapsed, some desperate men cross paths with the wrong man.  There isn’t a lot of plot.  There’s not a lot of talking or character development.  There is a grinding, crushing sense of desperation and doom.  This is a vision of society winding down, of the world drying up, and the people turning to dust.  The slow apocalypse.  The dying of the light.  Guy Pearce is absolutely terrifying in this film.  It’s nice to see him in something good, and allowed to do his thing.  It’s been a while.  I feel like this movie would be a good companion to Mad Max.  It feels like it’s set in that same dying civilization, the same world of the rules rolling back, of people turning into animals.  And co-Dork Brad’s feeling that it’s the spiritual sequel to The Proposition sounds about right, too.


    That’s pretty much it.

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-Matt

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