Sunday, September 21, 2014

Matt’s Week in Dork! (9/14/14-9/20/14)

    Not much in the way of Dork living this week.  Just watched a few movies and zoned out a lot.

The Smiling Ghost:  A goofy comic caper in the style that would go on to influence Scooby-Doo, this bit of fluff is enjoyable, with some fun performances.  But it also features some of that old timey racism that is so bloody awkward.

Borgman:  There’s about 75% of an awesomely weird movie here.  The missing 25% is the kicker, though.  While I’m all for films that don’t explain themselves, I still need enough to work out an explanation for myself.  Things are left so vague, there are simply too many ways to look at the events for my taste.  Sadly, the one that seems most popular (that Borgman is the devil) is the lamest.  Perhaps he is an alp, a sort of nightmare faerie.  This could have been so good.  But like the recent film Thale, it doesn’t have enough to build its mystery upon.

Destroy All Monsters:  Aliens and stock footage attack the world in this mid-level Godzilla film.  It’s more fun to watch than its almost clip-show reliance on previously filmed material would suggest.  The human characters and the aliens are fun.

Hector and the Search for Happiness:  “Whoever said money can’t buy you happiness? …Fuck you!”  When the movie started off, I was enjoying it.  I liked the cast and I don’t have a problem with obvious, uplifting plots.  Heck, I enjoyed the heck out of the Pollyannaish film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  But somewhere in the middle of this movie (right around the kidnapping in Africa), it all goes wrong.  From that point on, the message becomes not just obvious, but condescending and wrong-headed.  In a way, it reminded me of Life of Pi, which you may remember I was not the biggest fan (it was my worst film of 2012).  The last twenty minutes of the film are kind of insufferable, in spite of a wacky Christopher Plummer performance.

Castle of Blood:  Barbara Steele bug-eyes her way through another black and while horror film with delusions of Hammer.  The look of the film is good, but the story kind of dull.  And the resolution doesn’t hold interest especially well.  I guess it wouldn’t be uncharacteristically crass of me to say, the film continues to promise lots of skin, and never delivers (apparently there is a version that does feature nudity...this wasn't it), which doesn’t help.

    On Friday night, I finished up Andre Norton’s Secret of the Lost Race, a fun Golden Age science fiction novel.  I love her early work, full as it is of that 50s/60s wide open universe storytelling.  Not hampered so much by the later 60s/70s doom and gloom.

The Juniper Tree:  The Brothers Grimm get the indie film treatment in this black and white Bjork vehicle.  The accented English was a surprise.  I figured the film would be subtitled.  It looks pretty good, but feels too long.  As a thirty or forty minute short in a lager Grimm anthology film, it might have worked better.  Not bad, but not especially captivating.

Blonde Venus:  Marlene Dietrich heads an excellent cast in this film about a woman who tries to help her sick husband, only to succumb to the charms of other men.  Following the story arc is crazy.  But it’s a pretty good story, giving Dietrich plenty of material to sink her teeth into.  And very, very young Cary Grant is devilishly charming as the film’s almost villain.

    On Saturday, I caught two of the three silent comedies on my resolutions list.  I’m hoping to get The General in by the end of this next week.

The Gold Rush:  One more of my cinematic resolutions down.  When my resolution list was made, I had never seen a Charlie Chaplin film.  Since making the list, I’ve seen two; this is my third.  Unfortunately, it’s also the weakest.  There are some very good bits and gags.  But the overall story is only meh, and the very good bits are few and far between.  Still, the actors are charming and some of the comedy bits are impressive.

Safety Last!:  Famous for its stunts, this comedy is pretty typical of the 20s, with a poor kid going off to the big city to make his bucks, only to fail and try to make people think he didn’t.  Expected comic hijinks ensue.  The stunts are impressive and Harold Lloyd is good.  But the star of the film is obviously the big building climb and all the associated stunts and gags.

    And that’s about it.  Like I said, not much Dork living.  I know I’ve got a couple things coming right up though.  And I sure as heck have a bunch of reading to do.  Oh, and Lisa came up with the idea of doing a 30 Day Sketch Challenge.  I’ve been having fun defacing things with illustrations.

-Matthew J. Constantine

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