Not much in the way of movie viewing this Week in Dork, but I had a lot of fun and got a lot done. So there’s that. It all started with a journey in to DC with Rebecca, where we checked out Andrew Greene and the Peacherine Ragtime Society Orchestra. Turns out the Kennedy Center does a free show every evening, and Sunday night it was some Ragtime and Charlie Chaplin.
One A.M.: Charlie Chaplin does his Drunk bit, as a wealthy guy trying to get to bed. I would say the whole thing goes on a bit too long, even with a run time of 24 minutes. But some of the stunts and gags are quite impressive, and a few of the laughs come from deep in the belly. It’s an odd complaint, but this probably should have been about 4 or 5 minutes shorter, and would have been a better piece. Still fun, though.
Altered States: I’ve been hearing about this movie (rarely anything positive) for a long time, and nearly seeing in for nearly as long. So, I finally sat down to watch it, and…I liked it. It’s part of that 70s post-hippie, utopian idealist, scientific failure subgenre I enjoy so much (see also; Rabid, Beyond the Black Rainbow, Idaho Transfer, the middle seasons of Lost, etc.). William Hurt shows uncharacteristic amounts of emotion (ironically, playing an emotionally distant character). Bob Balaban is enjoyable. The effects are a mixed bag, but they get the job done. I can’t say that I loved it, but I certainly enjoyed it.
She’s the Man: Getting past the fact that at no point would anyone with functioning eyes or ears mistake Amanda Bynes for a guy, this is a pretty standard, kinda bland teen comedy with echoes of Shakespeare. Young Channing Tatum displays some genuine charm with his physical comedy, even if emoting isn’t his strong suit. Plus, isn’t it like a law (since 1972) that a girl who wants to play on a sports team is allowed to try out?
Step Up: Typical of low budget teen films, this story of a Channing Tatum from the wrong side of the tracks and a girl from a privileged upbringing is moderately sweet, and lacking in any surprises. Beat for beat, it follows the path you know it will in all the ways you expect. But in that, it has its own dumb charm. The streets and the halls of higher education must come together to save the world of dance!
On Friday night, Ben and I sat down to another 70s classic. I’ve been in the mood to crack back into some Blaxploitation lately. And you can never go wrong (well…) with Fred Williamson.
Hell Up in Harlem: Low budget, and sometimes ill made, but darned fun. This sequel to the Godfather retelling Black Caesar is filled with crazy angles, wildly moving camera work, and NO SECOND TAKES. So much fun, so silly, so low budget and over the top.
On Saturday, we headed in to the National Book Festival. This was my first time attending it for my own edification, and it was pretty cool. Like Baltimore Comic-Con, but for book nerds. It was held in the Convention Center, which was MUCH better than having it on the Mall. We saw Sandra Day O’Connor and her brother H. Alan Day. H. Alan Day has written a book about rescuing wild mustangs, which was cool. Lynn Sherr talked about her biography of Sally Ride, which was fascinating, and hit me hard in my science organ. Eric H. Cline talked about his book 1177 B.C., which made me really want to read it.
I ended up with some time on my hands while in the City on Saturday night. I was going to do some reading or something, but instead I thought I’d do some prep work for some stories or something. Ended up actually writing a short story, which was surprising and gratifying. A good day, and a nice end to a good week.
-Matthew J. Constantine