Coming back to the world after a genuine vacation…Ugh.
Howard the Duck: What can I say? I love this movie. Yeah, it’s got some awkward dialog and acting. Yeah, it’s weird as hell. Yeah, it’s super goofy. But it’s so wonderfully 80s. I just can’t get enough.
Game of Thrones Season 3: The third season is more of the same. If you’ve liked the previous two, you should like this one. It does feel slightly more on task this season. There was a point at the beginning of season 2, where even I, nudity aficionado that I am, was wishing everyone would just put their danged clothes back on and get on with the story. Season 3, while heartily dosed with naked flesh, doesn’t let it get in the way of telling the tale. A fine show, and some seriously good fantasy. I keep going back to my thought that this is a chronicle of the events that happened in the next Age of Men, after the King’s return in the Lord of the Rings. Anyway, good show.
Redline: While it has more style and panache than 90% of the anime you’re likely to see, Redline will still feel just as familiar. People who aren’t bored to tears by the handful of recycled plots/characters/designs that you find in anime should find plenty to enjoy. I am not one of those people, so I found the whole thing pretty dullsville. If it wasn’t for the attempted, pseudo-Heavy Metal magazine vibe, there’s be nothing to make it stand out.
Hercules: This is not a good movie. The script is bad. The usually charming Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a bit bland. The effects aren’t good. That said, I mildly enjoyed watching it. I liked several of the supporting characters/actors, particularly Ian McShane. I liked the idea of how the mythology was used, even if I didn’t always actually like it. I like the idea that people, so indoctrinated in their supernatural worldview, would see the supernatural first, and reality a distant second. Actually, that very thing is quite common today. I was frustrated by the way Atalanta was used. A supreme badass in the myths, and a member of Jason’s crack team of heroes, she is written like a token female in this film, and dressed in what looks like ancient Greek fashionable work-out gear. Now, the costumes in these films are never going to fly in modern film, with everyone being so prudish. If they were going for accuracy, there’d be a lot more male nudity, and a lot more nudity in general. But her costume stood out in a way I found off-putting. It looked extra wrong. Anyway, this is better (by far) than The Legend of Hercules, but not as good as most of the other Greek myth related films of recent years (Clash and Wrath of the Titans, Immortals, 300, etc.). Well, it’s better than 300: Rise of an Empire. But then, most things are.
Friday night, I headed into DC where I enjoyed a Lincoln Assassination walking tour. Another of those events in US history it seems like we hear about all the time, but hear very little detail of the affair. The tour had many interesting factoids I was completely unaware of, and it was cool to walk to the various locations where the events took place.
The Trap: Richard Widmark bastards his way around the high desert as a mob lawyer roped into doing what he doesn’t want. Tensions run high, blood will spill, and Widmark will stare hatred as fierce as he fires bullets. Lee J. Cobb is extra sleazy, with his squinky eyed smarm. I feel like this is a forgotten classic. Fans of Noir especially should like the mean characters and vile dialog. Worth tracking down.
Vera: I can’t say that I loved this movie, but it was certainly interesting. It’s a heck of a weird movie, with lots of images and not much talking. It suffers a bit from the lack of budget, but then if it had a much bigger budget, they’d have probably had trouble getting such a strange film made. It feels a bit like a horror movie, and a lot like a particularly strange fantasy film.
I read Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites. It’s the selection for the next graphic novel club meeting. I wasn’t blown away, but it was definitely the best thing we’ve read in a while.
The Tiger Woman: Perils of the Darkest Jungle: Though she does get knocked out and tied up a lot, The Tiger Woman is a shockingly tough lady for the time this movie serial was produced. Though women wielding their strength weren’t all that unusual in pre-Code movies, by the 40s, they certainly were. So this Tarzan knock-off stands out. Linda Stirling isn’t a great actress (few in this serial are), but she trades jabs and kicks with the roughest of them.
Though getting back into the swing of things is always difficult, the week had some bright spots. Also, as the Dreamlands crowd-funded film made the needed money, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Dreamlands, and about some of that trippy, psychedelic 70s fantasy music. Iron Butterfly, Caravan, David Bowie, and more. Good stuff.
-Matthew J. Constantine