Monday, December 5, 2011

Brad's Week in Dork! (11/27-12/3)

Man, oh man.  I really packed it in this week.  Work has been eating up a lot of time...or at least traveling back and forth from work has been taking up a lot of time.  But it's allowed me to crank out some iPhone digital viewing and I've been sneaking into the nearby movie theater at every opportunity.  The big shocker this week was Martin Scorsese's Hugo.  Saw that with the wife on Date Night and I came out of theater with a serious movie high.  I'm still tinkering with my year's best list, but it looks like Hugo has shot right to the top.  That's kinda amazing considering I wasn't even that interested in seeing the movie in the first place.  Anyway, if you haven't seen it yet than you should do yourself a favor and get your butt in the theater.  The 3D was fantastic but I don't know if it was necessary.

After the film, I went straight to the bookstore and bought Brian Selznick's novel as well as his film companion.  And the film also lead me to watching the short silent film of pioneer George Milies.  A lot of them are readily available on YouTube.  Check 'em out.

I also finally broke into the Alien Saga Egg set my wife bought me last Christmas.  I don't know why it took me so long to check out these blus, but I can say with full confidence that it was totally worth the wait.  Especially, Ridley Scott's original--that movie is GORGEOUS!  Parts 1 & 2 lead right into David Fincher's underrated third film and now I've decided to follow The Auteur Cast's latest Fincher series watching the movies along with Rudie Obias and West Anthony.  So far it's been a lot of fun.  Really looking forward to the Zodiac episode.

And, finally, since last week's The Muppets my wife has gone Jim Henson crazy.  I came home from work one day and she had purchased every available season of The Muppet Show as well as The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, Muppets Take Manhattan, The Muppet Treasure Island, and The Muppet Christmas Carol.  That's a whole lotta Muppets.  I never really grew up with the show but I've enjoyed the half dozen episodes we've watched of it so far.  The humor is definitely dated and I don't always "get it."


The Descendants:  If you've seen an Alexander Payne film (Sideways, About Schmidt, Election) than you know what you're gonna get with The Descendents, a heartfelt--sometimes heartbreaking melodrama with small bursts of odd situational humor. George Clooney delivers an extremely effective sympathetic performance as the cuckold husband dealing with his wife's coma as well as his two young & wild daughters and I'm ready to toss him an Oscar. And, it's great to see Robert Forester knock out such a strong, complicated character in just a few short scenes--he provides the film's strongest laugh as well as the most tortured image.

Rock 'N' Roll High School:  "People say your music is loud and destructive and lethal to mice, but I think you're the Beethovens of our time." A completely batshit surrealist micro-musical in which The Ramones' #1 Fan, PJ Soles channels her insane fandom and unleashes her joy upon Vince Lombardi High School much to the horror of despot principle Mary Woronov. One of my favorite Roger Corman productions, the film is littered with your favorite Cormonites like Woronov, Paul Bartel, Dick Miller, Don Steele, and Clint Howard. And, yeah, some seriously great music. But the film lives cuz of PJ Soles and her uncontainable glee for her favorite boy band.

The Muppet Movie:  The origin of The Muppets revealed! See how your favorite variety show came together packed to the gills with meta jokes and celebrity cameos. Kermit the Frog leaves his swamp after a chance encounter with Dom DeLuise to chase his dream of entertaining millions; along the way he gathers Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Miss Piggy, etc into his fold. Jim Henson wizardry in full effect, the jokes hit best depending on your level of Muppet obsession.

The Great Muppet Caper:  It's wonderful how this film treats The Muppets as actors in a London set Caper film. Kermit, Fozzie, & Gonzo are not-so-crack reporters who stumble into dashing Charles Grodin's diabolical diamond heist scheme. Typically peppered with celebrity cameos (of the British variety this time out), the film succeeds in some serious chuckles but fails to grasp that extra bar of genius on display in either the original film or this year's stellar outing.

In Time:  Fun, but forgettable. Ask me next year what this film was about and I'll probably only be able to give you the slightest of plot synopsis. The time as currency sci-fi concept could have been incredibly interesting, but the movie uses it as a runofthemill Bonnie & Clyde romancer/actioner. Timberlake is so-so and Seyfried is so-so even more if that's possible. Cillian Murphy as the Time Keeper cop is the most interesting, but his arc is eventually fact, most of the characters are wasted. Matthew Bomer, Olivia Wilde, Vincent Kartheiser--there are so many places this film could have gone but it's just cheap non-consequential gunplay. Bummer.

Alien:  I'm guessing I've seen Ridley Scott's Alien 50...60 times. I was ten years old the first time I saw it. I don't remember much about that first viewing other than complete and utter awe for the world created around the chest birthed alien slasher creature. At 32, that's still what I'm obsessed with. HR. Giger's beastie is impressive as all hell, but what really makes Alien work is the crew and it's ship, The Nostromo. The sets constructed for this film are outstanding! From the hospital white walls of the dining room to the wet industrial bowels of the ship. Similar to John Carpenter's The Thing, the crew of Space Truckers feels like a genuine collection of a working family. Tom Skerritt, Yaphet Koto, John Hurt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, Ian Holm, and Sigourney Weaver. These guys know each other. Love each other. Hate each other. I love how Weaver slowly transforms into the lead of the picture. And let's not forget the true villain of the picture, Mother & The Company! Alien is a blue collar, sci-fi slasher conspiracy classic!

Forbidden World:  A cheapie Roger Corman Alien knockoff that might not have the name cast or even a particularly interesting "character actor" cast, but it's loaded up with gore, slime, random/pointless nudity, and gooey obnoxious creature designs. Fox Harris as the cancerous mad scientist Dr. Cal steals the show whenever he hacks his way onscreen in that blood splattered smock. Drags in the middle for sure, but it goes for it in a way that New World Productions only can and you gotta love how it tries to out-do its A-Picture predecessors with guttertrash thinking.

Race With The Devil:  Dirt Bike salesmen Warren Oates and Peter Fonda probably regret dragging their wives along on this nightmarish Winnebago road trip when a cult of virgin sacrificing satanists set their slightly ominous smocked hoards upon them. Similar to a lot of these 70s era Satan movies, Race With The Devil doesn't really succeed on its plot or villain. The enjoyment comes from the angry performances from the two leads and the crackerjack car crashes that litter the country roads. Director Jack Starrett (The Losers! Slaughter!) knows how to stage action--shotguns, explosions, low bridges.

Starcrash:  Christopher Plummer Screaming: "Imperial Battleship! Halt The Flow Of Time!" Super Cheesy, but Super FUN! Italian Star Wars ripoff by way of Roger Corman's B Movie Madhouse New World Pictures. With the help of a redneck robot, a princely David Hasselhoff, and Marjoe Gortner's lightsabering white fro acrobat the preternaturally busty Caroline Munro battles her way through amazons on horseback, chintzy stop-motion robots, mutant troglodytes, and the maniac Joe Spinell. Best watched with a group of MST3K-like minded friends, StarCrash is ridiculous amounts of bad movie fun well worth Shout Factory's blu ray price tag.

Aliens:  So if I've seen Alien 50 or 60 times than I've seen Aliens at least 100 times. I remember being a kid and watching this film two, sometimes three times in a row. Play. Rewind. Play. Rewind. Play. I've watched it so many times now that it's actually hard to even understand how this film affected me on those first dozen viewings or so. As it is now, I recognize that Aliens is a seriously kickass action movie reinvention of Ridley Scott's Old Dark House original, and the cast of Space Marine Supreme Badasses is as nearly perfect as the original film's Space Truckers. And this was the film that really transformed Sigourney Weaver into the butch, flamethrower-power loader super heroine of the franchise. And it's cool. But it's not as good as the original. It's great. It's maybe even flawless, but it doesn't reach those primordial parts of my primitive brain like that first film. And I've seen it too damn much. But Bishop will always be my synthetic.

Hugo:  Are you ready for this? Hugo is Martin Scorsese's best film in the last 20 years. Bam. Done. Wrapped up in this kid's adventure film is a beautiful love letter to cinema and I want to grab all my family members, friends, and coworkers to see it so that they'll have a proper understanding of why I love movies as much as I do. Orphan Hugo Cabret lives in the walls of the Paris Train Station, stealing from the local shops he grabs the attention of Ben Kingsley's toymaker and Sasha Baron Cohen's railroad inspector. Here Hugo will discover the clockwork secret to his father's automaton and his purpose within the machine of man. Great performances from all involved, but the true star of the film is Scorsese's Love Affair with Film and his mastery over it. I was emotionally rocked by Hugo, and in a way that I'm not even sure I've experienced in a movie theater. Highest recommendation.

30 Minutes or Less:  A mildly amusing comedy caper that's also a mildly disappointing Zombieland followup for director Ruben Fleischer. For whatever reason, I find Aziz Ansari and Danny McBride endlessly humorous and Micahel Pena's pimp assassin is a scene stealer, but the laughs are barely chuckles and as the credits rolled I knew I will have no recollection of this flick come next year. Fun, but not enough.

Bellflower:  It's not a bad movie. But I hated it. Or, I hated all the character involved to the point where I hated the movie. A bunch of young assholes being assholes to each other. Hurry up and kill yourselves already. That's a pretty harsh review of the film. Again, I'm impressed by Evan Glodell's direction, his craftsmanship, and even his acting. But at the end of the day that don't matter cuz I hated the characters. Sure, it's fun to reference Road Warrior all day long but meh.

Alien 3:  Aliens was always going to be a hard act to follow. And Damn, opening the third film up with offscreen deaths for some of your favorite characters...that's just gonna infuriate. But time has been kind to Alien 3. What we are left with is a bleak, claustrophobic, and horrific sendoff (sadly, one more film would follow) to Ellen Ripley and her demon nightmare. The dog born Alien is a fantastic puppet and I dig the yellow & windy look of the film; a damn fine freshman effort from David Fincher. And the cast is a top notch collection of British heavies. Plus Charles S Dutton. The man reeducates with the best of them.

Seven:  Seven still has power. "What's in the box?!?!?" But the film is more than just its shocker ending. I love Morgan Freeman's seen-it-all-hate-it-all detective and I love how you know everything about Brad Pitt's eager beaver cop the second you see him jaunting up the stairs in his cheap suits. As a pair it's all very buddy cop movie except the film is soaked with director David Fincher's melancholy and dread. Actors like R. Lee Ermey, Kevin Spacey, and Leland Orser give quintessential performances. Two films into his cinematic career, Fincher hadn't quite shaken the music video vibe, but he sure made one helluva brilliant serial killer flick and the promise of the even more brilliant Zodiac was placed here first.


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