Sunday, November 6, 2011

Matt’s Week in Dork! (10/30/11-11/5/11)

    This turned out to be a pretty good week in dork.  Mostly because of two movie events, of a sort.  And I’ve been getting some quality reading time in. 

Robot Stories:  Four short stories involving robots, sometimes only in the most broad way.  The first story about a bad mother and her robot child felt like a bad episode of the new Outer Limits.  The second, about a woman trying to come to terms with her son’s coma, is interesting and well acted, but feels out of place.  The third, about a new piece of office equipment is cute, even if it doesn’t cover any new ground.  And the final story about an artist who isn’t sure he wants immortality is probably the best and most challenging of the stories, and helps raise the whole piece up a notch.  Overall, it feels like science fiction written by someone who doesn’t really like science fiction, which is odd, because Greg Pak has gone on to become a fairly well respected voice in comics, many featuring science fiction.

    So, on Monday night (Halloween), Brad, Lisa (in a rockin’ Fantastic Mr. Fox, Ash costume), and I took another journey to the AFI Silver to see a triple-shot of Vincent Price movies.  A great way to celebrate the holiday.

The Raven:  Gooftastic, silly fun, The Raven has three greats, Peter Lorre, Vincent Price, and Boris Karloff.  It also has a very young (and absolutely terrible) Jack Nicholson.  Very cheesy humor, but worth watching to see a lot of plays on the genre.

The Tingler:  Vincent Price is fantastic in the fun, creepy crime/horror film from the master showman William Castle.  Castle was like Ed Wood, if Ed Wood had had any talent whatsoever.  He loved his gimmicks, and this film was no different.  They originally had buzzers in the seats to give people a fright.  The tingler itself is actually kind of terrifying in a William S. Burroughs sort of way.  And there is a great cast of side characters that really help make the movie a lot of fun.  If you enjoy 50s horror, you’ve got to see this.

The Masque of the Red Death:  Vincent Price is a brutish monster, ruling over a bunch of groveling sycophants.  And, as a plague rages outside, Price becomes obsessed with corrupting an innocent young woman, who is just trying to save her lover and her father.  Lots of bad behavior.

    And I was so excited to come home on Tuesday to the first disk of the second season of Bored to Death.  Dang, I love that show, but man, it’s hard to deal with there being so little of it.  Always leaves me wanting more.

Singin’ in the Rain:  Great songs, excellent dancing, good story, and it’s darned funny.  Totally worthy of its classic status, this is a must for musical fans, and should be perfectly enjoyable for all but the most jaded of other viewers.  And the Broadway bit with Cyd Charisse…Wow.  That dame could sure make a fella rethink his stance on bad girls.

Red Faction: Origins:  The surprise isn’t that this movie is bad.  The surprise is that it isn’t really all that bad.  It’s an OK made-for-TV sci-fi time waster.  The cast is passable, if not very good.  The story is watchable if not especially interesting.  And the effects are decent, if not particularly stunning.  The one really good thing I can say about it is that it made me want to watch Battlestar Galactica again (not really sure why).

    On Friday night, Brad and Lisa helped me ring in my annual event, HestFest, for it’s twelfth year.  The madness started with a couple monstrously long movies, which Brad was more able to handle than myself.  We had themed food, created by Lisa, including Touch of De-Evil-ed Eggs, Soylent Green Pesto Pizza, Julius Caesar Salad, and Ben-Hurshey Kiss Brownies.  I ate a lot.  Like, a LOT.  What follows are the films we watched over the almost 48 hour excursion.  Brad should have at least one more movie, because I couldn’t stay awake as well as he.

Ben-Hur:  Heston stars in a LOOOOOOOONG movie.  There are stunning moments, and grand scope.  But there are also sections that drag and drag.  Many of the supporting characters simply aren’t that interesting.  Though the sea battles and the chariot race are undoubtedly exciting and well staged, the film itself is far, far too long and bloated.  And after the film’s climax, there’s another hour of runtime.  Ugh.

The Ten Commandments:  Yowzah.  Another LONG Heston movie.  The man sure knew how to be in them.  Sadly, it takes more than half the film’s generous runtime before it really gets going, and that early lull is longer than many standard films.  Cool effects and gorgeous sets don’t save the movie from being desperately in need of the editor’s knife.  And the smug attitude of Moses after his first visit with the burning bush gets to be a bit much.  Also, honestly, it’s hard to get behind saving the Hebrews in the desert when they keep going bad as soon as Moses looks away.  With little prompting, they’re ready to rape and murder.  Yikes.  Not one of my favorites.

The Crucifer of Blood:  There’s no getting around it.  Charlton Heston is an awkward choice to play Sherlock Holmes.  And, this is hardly a great adaptation.  But, it’s watchable and not too bad.  It’s relatively well put together, but forgettable.

The Omega Man:  One of my favorite Heston films, this is, to say the least, a loose adaptation of I Am Legend.  Lots of great scenes, great lines, and great music.  I love a good apocalyptic movie, and this is one of the more enjoyable.

Touch of Evil:  Orson Welles is a monster.  And a heck of a fine film director.  He and Heston play well off each other, wills of iron.  Welles the corrupt, good old boy.  Heston the good cop and loving husband.  A beautiful, dark, brutal, and occasionally grimly funny film, it’s a must see.

Treasure Island:  Far better than its made for TV nature led me to expect, this adaptation of the novel is quite entertaining, thrilling in the classic way, and filled with great actors.  One of the better standard adaptations of the work that I’ve seen.  Check it out.

Major Dundee:  Heston is a military man with a hankerin’ to get some killing done in this semi-classic western.  An excellent supporting cast backs him up on his journey to Mexico, where he fights Indians and French, as well as his own people.  Lots of good performances and lots of good moments.  Not an amazing film by any stretch, but solid.

    Also, back on Sunday, my friend Ben and I started watching From the Earth to the Moon, which is an excellent show so far.  A great cast and some pretty darned good effects help.  I’m loving all this early days of space stuff, but man does it make me angry that America lost its nerve after Challenger.  I feel like we’re too coddled now, to over-protective of ourselves and our fellows.  Gone are the days of chance and risk takers.  Gone are the days of crazy adventure.  I hope they can come back.  I don’t know how it’ll happen.

    I finally got back to and finished Habibi.  What a beautiful book.  The story is crazy, and does not go at all the way I’d have expected.  And Craig Thompson must be commended for the amount of work that went into the whole project, from research through planning and execution.

    After this week, I could really use some downtime, but sadly, that’s not happening anytime soon.  But in good (?) news, I have lost 20lbs in the last six or so months.


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