Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Back in 1996, the very first list of 25 movies included This Is Spinal Tap, which showed they were off to a good start, but this year they've continued that trend. Fast Times at Ridgemont High and The Rocky Horror Picture Show are great and deserving choices, as is Mom and Dad. Lest you should think I'm implying RHPS is a "great film", I'm not, but it (and its cult following) is undeniably significant and influential in the history of film and belongs on the list every bit as much as The Music Man, plus it's way more fun than The freaking Music Man.
Mom and Dad is a fantastic choice. The most influential of all the "personal hygeine" explotation films, it's one of the most successful independent films of all time (take that, Blair Witch Project) and toured the country for years. It's a low-budget sexploitation film, but was always shown to single-gender adult audiences as an educational film about the importance of having frank and informative dicussions with your teenaged children about sex. Because it usually included some nude shots and/or graphic footage of a live birth, depending upon how much the exhibitor could get away with in each town, audiences got their share of shock and tittilation but without the guilt of having seen a "dirty movie", because it was educational, you see. Little booklets about the film's subject matter (sex! but it's educational!) were also sold at the screenings, ensuring more cash flowed to the exhibitor. Joe Bob Briggs' excellent book Profoundly Disturbing : The Shocking Movies that Changed History has a chapter on Mom and Dad that tells the complete story of this film's strange history. I wish some enterprising soul would put the film on DVD. There are umpteen versions of Reefer Madness out there; shouldn't we be able to see Mom and Dad too?
I once took several different medicines to treat a cold and didn't realize that each of them contained a big dose of acetaminophen. I wound up vomiting blood. So be careful, unless you've always wanted to puke blood or try your luck at a liver transplant.
Friday, December 16, 2005
"In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway American dream
At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected
and steppin' out over the line"
About 15 years ago a similar movement started and failed to have the song declared the new state anthem. Robert Wuhl did a routine on comic relief about it, questioning the wisdom of having an anthem that mentions suicide in the second line. And of course, it gets better:
"Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we're young
'Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run"
Hey youse guys, let's get the frig out of New Jersey before we end up spineless and dead! At this point, Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer" seems like a more appropriate choice, doesn't it?
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Thursday, December 08, 2005
There's a precedent of showing new musicals, as we had Chicago at BNaT 4 (awesome!) and The Phantom of the Opera last year (sucked!), so I suspect we'll see The Producers. There are rumors that we'll get a super-early cut of the new Superman, but I'm doubtful about that. It's still six months from release, and if it's awful or something I doubt they want to generate negative buzz (well, MORE negative buzz) this early in the game. Some folks think we'll get Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, and it wouldn't surprise me, but I hope I can figure out what's going on since I didn't see Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance.
Tim League usually gets the 4AM wake-up slot to show some effed-up exploitation goodness, so there's no telling what he'll pull out of his sleeve this year. I hope for an encore of the short Christmas on Monkey Island every year, but so far no dice. I'm sure we'll see the Stunt Rock trailer a few times, though.
Two of my favorites from last year were old movies, Blonde Venus (pre-Hayes Code Marlene Dietrich -- wow!) and Miss Sadie Thompson (Rita Hayworth in a sweaty tropical climate in the lushest, most perfect 3-D presentation you could ever hope to see. THAT'S what 3-D should be used for!). I hope we get another couple of gorgeous, glossy ones like that this year.
There's usually some gore flick that I have little interest in, though occasionally they turn out to be good. I hope we're light on those this year; a little of that goes a long way with me. Also, I hope against hope that we won't get stuck with a pirate movie. Yeah, you heard me. I hate pirate stories. I just don't get the appeal. I'm ocean-averse anyway.
The thing I'm looking forward to the most: the Alamo Drafthouse's Shroomwich. I going to have at least two during the fest. It's juicy, marinated portobello mushroom topped with sundried tomato pesto and gooey goat cheese on crusty bread. I just checked the online menu for the Drafthouse and I don't see it listed. Come on, they had it in September! Oh, I'm going to be so depressed if they don't have it. I hope the online menu is just old, because the Shroomwich is heaven in a basket.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
45. Amazing Spider-Man #526
46. Batgirl #70
47. Batman Gotham Knights #71
48. Battle Pope Color #4
49. Black Widow 2 #3
50. Captain America #12
51. Catwoman #49
52. Daredevil #79
53. Down #1
54. Ex Machina #16
55. Flash #228
56. Jack Cross #4
57. JSA Classified #5
58. Punisher vs Bullseye #1
59. Robin #144
60. Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein #1 (awesomely weird!)
61. Seven Soldiers: Zatanna #4
62. Ultimate X-Men #65
63. Vigilante #3
64. Young Avengers #9
That's 10 for DC, 7 for Marvel, and 3 for "I'm Not Sure" (Down, Jack Cross and Battle Pope).
Actually, my birthday was Sunday, the 27th. My department at work celebrated my birthday today though. They took me to lunch at The Olive Garden and then we went back to the office and had a cake one of my co-workers baked. It was lemon with choclate icing. Delicious! Thanks, Myrna!
Monday, November 21, 2005
18. Green Arrow #56
19. JLA #122
20. Supergirl #3
21. Birds of Prey #88
22. Nightwing #114
23. Fantastic Four #532
24. Books of Doom #1 of 6
25. Marvel Knights Spider-Man #20
26. DMZ #1
27. Legends of the Dark Knight #197
28. The Pulse #12
29. Gotham Central #37
30. Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #2
31. Hawkman #46
32. Action Comics #833
33. Firestorm #19
34. All-Star Superman #1
35. Ultimate Spider-Man #86
36. Green Lantern #5
37. Manhunter #16
38. Batman and the Monster Men #1
39. Captain Atom: Armageddon #2 of 9
40. X-Men: Deadly Genesis #1 of 6
41. Batman: Journey into Knight #4
42. The Thing #1
43. Infinite Crisis #2 of 7
44. Teen Titans #29
18 for DC, 9 for Marvel. I should have the list from November 23rd up soon.
You are Wonder Woman
|You are a beautiful princess|
with great strength of character.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
1. JSA #79
2. Ultimate Spider-man #85
3. Outsiders #30
4. Powers #14
5. Vigilante #2 of 6
6. Jonah Hex #1
7. House of M #8 of 8
8. Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer #1 of 4
9. The Punisher #27
10. Supreme Power: Nighthawk #3 of 6
11. Desolation Jones #4
12. Marvel Team-Up #14
13. Superman #223
14. Firestorm #18
15. Detective Comics #813
16. Justice League Unlimited #15
17. Batman: Gotham County Line #2 of 3
I also got the latest volume of collected Twisted Toyfare Theaters. I don't normally read Firestorm but it's an Infinite Crisis tie-in this month. I'm numbering the rest of the titles because at the end of the month I want to add them up and see how many books I'm getting every month. So this week it's 11 for DC (which includes WildStorm) and 6 for Marvel.
I'm glad House of M (or as we were calling it last night, House of 'Meh')is wrapping up, because it's derailing some of the few remaining Marvel titles I read and generally leaving me cold. Oh, and when Scarlet Witch said "No more mutants", she left 198 mutants in the world. I guess it's true: women suck at math. At least this crap hasn't leaked into the Ultimate books.
I'm also reading back issues when I can. Last week I finished John Ostrander's Suicide Squad series from the late '80s/early '90s, and now I'm trying to start Mike Grell's volume of Green Arrow, which started in the late '80s and ran into the late '90s. So I imagine I'll be seeing all the same ads again that were in Suicide Squad...
Among the returning shows we're watching are Arrested Development (which is new to us but we've caught up via DVD), Lost, Veronica Mars, and Smallville. I think that's it. Wow. We'll watch The Shield when that starts up again early next year and I'm willing to give 24 a shot, but it's on probation. Last season was both stupid AND boring, so if it doesn't get better I'm not going to waste my time.
As for the new shows, we tried out several but the only ones I'm still watching are these:
My Name Is Earl (aka Touched by a Redneck): I've been a fan of Jason Lee's ever since I saw Chasing Amy, so I'm glad to see him in a good, successful show. It's one of my favorites, and is probably the most uplifting TV show since, uh, I can't think of another one. It's sweet and funny and frequently quotable.
The Office: It comes on after My Name Is Earl, but that's not a big factor since we always TiVo everything. This show is growing on me. It's very funny but sometimes brings back painful memories of jobs I used to have and totally hated. I never got into the British version, but maybe I didn't give it enough of a chance.
Kitchen Confidential: All three or four episodes that have aired so far have been pretty entertaining. Whenever it comes on again, the TiVo will get it for me. Its lead-in is Arrested Development, which you should be watching.
Bones: I'd hesitate to call it "good", but I still plan to watch the episode that's sitting on the TiVo from this week. My best review of the show is " It's no more retarded than CSI!" On the plus side, David Boreanaz is cute and sometimes shirtless. Yay!
I think that's all of them. We tried several other new shows like Reunion and Supernatural, but I didn't stick with them. Reunion was just kinda average and then the second episode was pre-empted for hurricane coverage, and I found I didn't care that much. Supernatural was like a dumbed-down X-Files, and instead of fine-ass David Duchovny you have Jensen Eckles, who provided last season's Smallville with a massive charisma vaccuum. On the plus side, it has a good classic rock soundtrack. On the minus side, I already have a radio. I watched two episodes and then quit. My husband watched another one or two, but didn't care enough to continue.
Shows of which I watched part of the pilot but gave up before I sprained my eyeballs from rolling them so much: Invasion and Prison Break.
Before the storm hit we decided our gauge for the storm's strength would be the half-empty 20 oz bottle of A&W Root Beer that someone had thrown on top of the covered parking area our balcony overlooks. When it blew off, that would indicate windyness. Guess what? The bottle was still there when the whole storm was over. It didn't even roll over the corrogated tin roof. It was finally washed away by a thunderstorm a couple of weeks ago, proving that a normal Houston thunderstorm is more intense than the edges of a major hurricane.
Anyway, I haven't posted because I've just been extremely busy with work stuff. We also got bogged down with a lot of exhaustion and generally feeling under the weather and so we've slacked way off on watching a movie every night. New Fall TV started though, which has given us plenty to do. We're still keeping up the Dream Journal for movies and stuff, but we haven't written it down every time we watched My Name Is Earl. Which is awesome. You need to be watching it.
I'll log the Dream Journal stuff here to get caught up. I'll also talk about the TV shows I like, because I'm self-indulgent and obsessed with pop culture. Gee, maybe I should start listing all the comics I read every week too. I loves me some lists of stuff.
Friday, September 23, 2005
It's nice to have a rational, sedate, responsible newscast like the one on KHOU, Channel 11 in Houston. Their meteorologist is Dr. Neil Frank, who is an internationally recognized authority on hurricanes, going all the way back to Hurricane Carla in 1961. He doesn't try to freak you out or boost their ratings through hysteria. They leave that to Channel 2, whose coverage ("Worse Than Katrina!!!") should be subject to criminal prosecution for inciting riot.
I really hope the power stays on. I'm such a wuss; I really like my air conditioning, TV and internet. It was 100 degrees outside yesterday! That's unusually hot for the first day of fall. We watched the entire first season of Arrested Development over the past two days (BRILLAINT!), so I'd also like to keep the DVD player and TiVo in commission as long as possible. And by that I mean for the rest of my life.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Um, in case you haven't heard, Houston has a hurricane headed right for it. By last night you couldn't buy bottled water, batteries or plywood anywhere, and some filling stations are actually out of gas. We now have emergency rations of Cheetos, pretzels, Pop Tarts, Powerade and Arizona Diet Green Tea with Ginseng. I love the stuff, and it now comes in gallon-size bottles. I'm all stocked up.
I think they're going to let us off work Friday, which is probably for the best. Most schools will be closed and the roads will be flooded, so it's safest for folks to stay home. Also, my company relies heavily on shipping with UPS, which already has stopped bringing most packages into the area, or at least the southeastern quadrant. If we can't ship things, we might as well not be here.
We don't have a lot of hatches to batten down at the apartment, but I hope the sliding glass door stays in one piece. Otherwise yikes.
People are seriously freaking out here. We haven't had a major hurricane in town in a long time, so I think it's a combination of post-Katrina panic and bored people wanting a bunch of excitement. It's like a snow day here. The past couple of years have really fostered an "ohgodohgod we're all gonna die!" mentality in general, so people have all this pent-up fear and are looking for a way to blow off some steam. If the worst they do is buy up a crapload of bottled water and batteries, we'll be okay.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
An excerpt from #14: Bruce Lee vs. EVERYONE ELSE WHO HAS EVER LIVED IN OR THOUGHT ABOUT CHINA, Enter the Dragon
"If anybody tells you that someone can beat Bruce Lee in a fight, tell them they are wrong. They are. Van Damme can't beat Bruce Lee. Neither could Jet Li, Tony Jaa, or Hulk Hogan. "But Superman could beat Bruce Lee!" No, he couldn't. Superman would fly at Bruce, Bruce would go WATAAAAAAAAAAAA, and Superman would fall down. The only two people who can beat Bruce Lee in a fight are Batman and Captain America, and that is indisputable realism and comic fact."
Any already awesome fight countdown that includes Scout Finch dressed as a giant ham is a must-read.
--link found on X-Entertainment
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
Henry Rollins: Shock & Awe (2004) -- we saw this tour live and it was awesome.
Donovan's Brain -- see Nancy Davis (later Reagan) fight an evil brain!
Before Sunset (2004) -- sequel to Before Sunrise. I loved this.
Be Cool (2005)
Killing Zoe (1994)
Fraternity Vacation (1985)
The Last American Virgin (1982)
Gleaming the Cube (1988) -- I'm confused by the plot of this movie. Who were the bad guys shipping guns to in Vietnam? If they were sending them to the folks you would expect to be labeled as "bad guys" in a 1988 action movie, wouldn't they be sending them to the Vietnamese government? We lost, remember? That's like me moving to Mexico and then shipping guns to the U.S. Army. WTF? Either way, it has Tony Hawk and "Gator", who was the subject of the documentary I mentioned here, doing stunt skating.
Serenity (2005) -- again I say GO SEE IT.
9 1/2 Weeks (1986) -- way better than I thought it would be, and totally not a porno.
Streets of Fire (1984) -- it's billed as "A Rock and Roll Fable", but that's only because it defies true description. The main villain is shirtless Willem Dafoe in pleather bib overalls. The way this movie is, I wasn't sure if the thonged dancer in the biker bar a really femme guy, or a kinda butch gal. A little research tells me she's a woman, Marine Jahan, best known as Jennifer Beals' dancing double in Flashdance. It was the lack of hips and the supershort haircut that threw me. This movie has a bizarre soundtrack (in a good way). I bought it before I saw the movie because we saw one of the videos on VH1 Classic one night and I recognized it as a Jim Steinman song. I'd never heard it, but you know Jim Steinman when you hear him. The video was mostly clips from the movie featuring a great many exploding cars and motorcycles, so we knew we had to check it out. The movie was directed by Walter Hill, who had a hit right before this with 48 Hrs.
Purple Rain (1984) -- what a weird movie! I hadn't seen it before. The only likable character is Morris Day's sidekick Jerome. That said, I've always loved the soundtrack (but where are the awesome songs by The Time? "Jungle Love"? "The Bird"?). Regardless, when the elevator tries to bring you down, go crazy.
Waiting for Guffman (1996)
Desperately Seeking Susan (1984) -- it was a weekend of '80s rocker movies!
The Final Countdown (1980) -- the most frustratingly terrible movie I've seen all year. Who knew a perfectly decent movie could be wholly destroyed by its last 10 minutes? Watch it with someone you hate!
The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1971) -- Do you like Hammer horror starring Peter Cushing as Van Helsing? Do you like Shaw Brothers kung fu movies? This movie is both of those. I'm serious. Watch it with someone you love who is also cool. Make sure you get the one called The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, not the chopped up version released as The Seven Brothers Meet Dracula.
Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke
They Live by Night (1949) -- we TiVoed this off TCM. It's a good, little-seen movie about two young lovers/criminals on the run. Kinda heavy stuff for 1949.
Riding Giants (2004) -- I have a deep and abiding love of surfing documentaries. This makes a nice double feature with Step into Liquid. It also goes extremely well with Hawaiian pizza.
The rest of the movies we've seen have been during QT6, Quentin Tarantino's film festival currently being held in Austin. We had to come home to work so we're skipping a few days, but we're going back this weekend. I'll list all those flicks later, as they require more detail.
"This business truly is Pandora’s Box. All you have to do is kick yourself in the tail and go fill it up!"
Today I am extra glad to have knowledge of literature, mythology, and you know, COMMON FREAKING KNOWLEDGE. I immediately took it to my department head, who also chuckled at it and then changed the sentence. Now it no longer asserts that our business is a giant box o' evil that we should be trying to fill with more evil.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
My husband informs me that he checked out this wrestling school back when he was thinking about maybe being a wrestler and he thought it seemed fairly seedy and fly-by-night. Also, he says the guy the article refers to as Tugboat Taylor was also briefly known as the Shockmaster. Very, very briefly. Please read this item about the Shockmaster, entitled "Worst Entrance Ever", from Wrestlecrap. It's hilarious and has lovely visual aids to help illustrate said hilarity. X-Entertainment also has a funny story that includes a bit on ol' SM, so here's a link to that as well.
I also seem to have gotten hits from people searching for info on Bryan Abrams of Color Me Badd, but I can't figure out how they got here through the links they did. I've tried searching it (from German Yahoo!) but I didn't find me. Somebody else searched for "San Angelo Weight Watchers". I hope they eventually found what they were looking for.
You can also find me if you search for "Hlodnik", which was a Vile Recipe I posted back in February 2004. Icky!
Friday, September 02, 2005
The premise of the article is that the columnist, called The Infiltrator, gets himself booked on a public access TV show where they interview people who had transformative religious experiences. He pretends to be a speed metal guitarist who used to be in a drug-using, headbanging, non-churchgoing speed metal band but after a stint in rehab got religion and turned to playing speed metal for Jesus.
Some of the best lines:
"After much consideration, I decide to name my fictional Christian metal band Pray-er (rhymes with Slayer). The reason: It allows me to get indignant when people mispronounce it. ("It's not Prayer, it's Pray-er!")"
"'Wait, the Lord called you 'dude'?!'"
But if you read the article for no other reason, read it for the original lyrics he wrote and introduces thusly:
"I pull out a piece of paper and begin reciting, in classic Dio tradition, the genre of metal that's all Dungeons & Dragons-y and full of juvenile, execrable junior high school poetry. It's my original Christian-metal composition,'Crush Satan's Skull!'"
He's not kidding about the Dio-ness. The song has "sin goblins", for crying out loud. And a winged horse named Malachi. Like a rainbow in the dark.
One of the guys in our group had never seen Firefly before, but he loved the movie and borrowed our DVD set immediately after the movie because he was dying for more. It's great how satisfying the movie is for new viewers, and yet it doesn't spend a ton of time repeating stuff fans already know. In the space of two hours, they establish a somewhat complicated setting and maybe ten major characters and make everyone understand and care about all of it. They even manage to deal with complex and very relevant political themes without being heavyhanded about it.
The movie is funny and sad and exciting and suspenseful and all the things you want it to be. I laughed, I cried, I was thrilled to see Good triumph over Fox Broadcasting. I can't wait to see it again when it opens September 30th, and I'm going to make everyone I know come see it with me. This movie has a chance to be very successful commercially and hopefully they'll get to do a whole series of movies. I think the cast is signed for three, and I'll be sad if they don't do at least that many. GO SEE IT. And AVOID SPOILERS.
Attached to the print we saw was a trailer for Doom, starring The Rock. That trailer got almost as positive a reaction as the movie did. It looks like a total blast, and it seems to be filmed largely as a first-person shooter just like the game, so you're looking down the barrel of a gun/chainsaw/whatever while monsters occasionally jump out right in front of you. I think it will be a lot of fun, but I don't want to sit to close to the screen. I don't like scary things jumping out at me.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
We're still watching 5-6 movies a week, so my at-home posting time is short as well. Tonight we have passes to a special advance screening of Serenity, so I'm extra super pumped about that. It's weird; I haven't seen any references to the screening on any Browncoat sites, so I don't think it's a normal public screening. We got passes that specifically say "Retailer" on them, so I think this audience may be targeted specifically for maximum word-of-mouth promotion at geek hotspots.
I bet this movie will be much better than last night's home video selection, Gleaming the Cube. More on that as time permits.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Trent, from Swingers, performs an exorcism
The execution is only okay, but the concept tickles me to no end.
"You know it's not so much me as it is the priestly garb I'm wearing. She's a freaky baby that is digging the outfit. I'm performing an exorcism in Georgetown, so guys like me gotta kick it old-school."
As a woman who did more than her share of time in Catholic churches, I'm digging the mental image on Vince Vaughn in a priest outfit too, baby.
Monday, August 29, 2005
Friday, August 26, 2005
He apparently released a solo album in 2001, but I'm guessing it didn't rake in the kind of fat cash you need to not work in a tire store. His ex-wife said that he "long ago spent all the money he made during his Color Me Badd days: 'He has nothing to show for it, except the ASCAP publishing he co-owns with other members of the group.'" For the sake of his kid, somebody needs to make a commercial or something that uses "I Want to Sex You Up" to sell paper towels or something. They could change it to "I Want to Soak You Up" and then maybe his kid could get some damn child support.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Monday night we watched 1969's Astro Zombies, a movie which made almost no sense at all. It was co-written and produced by Wayne Rogers, who played Trapper John on MASH. The other writer-producer also directed, and that was Ted V. Mikels, who also directed The Girl in Gold Boots (which you probably saw on MST3K if you saw it at all) and a whole slew of movies like The Corpse Grinders and Blood Orgy of the She Devils. You know how some movies pad their running time with unnecessary scenes of driving from place to place, or people dancing? This movie has several really egregious examples of this. I didn't mind looking out a car window at 1969 Los Angeles as seen from the freeway for a few minutes, and I laughed at the totally gratuitous dance by a naked woman covered in body paint that lasted at least two minutes, which is a very long time in Movie World. However, the gold medal in Time Killing goes to the scene in which two men convince a woman (it truly doesn't matter who they are or how they know each other) that she needs to allow herself to be bait for the monster. No, I'm sorry, the Astro Zombie. They spend a few minutes trying to talk her into it, and ultimately she decides to go ahead and do it. Then, the Big Scene: she sits, waiting for the Astro Zombie to come after her so the guys can kill it. She waits, the guys wait. Eventually...NOTHING HAPPENS. The Astro Zombie never shows and they just shrug it off like "oh well, I guess that didn't work." End of scene! Totally pointless! These scenes in no way contributed to the overall "plot". They didn't affect the rest of the story in the slightest, nor did the provide any insight into the characters. WTF?! Poor John Carradine slogs through his scenes the best he can, providing tons of exposition that in no way improves the movie. In the end, there is a brief burst of cheap gore effects, and then the movie's just over. If you love horrible movies, this one doesn't disappoint.
Last night I watched Sideways, which was such a big deal last winter. I thought it was a nice character piece and it made me want to drink a bunch of wine, but I still don't care about learning about wine and I'm not sure it lived up to the hype. It shouldn't have to though; the hype isn't relevant to the actual movie. It was deservedly well-reviewed, and I'd be thrilled to pieces if I wrote a movie like that. So I guess it was Really Good but not Totally Awesome.
Hmm, now maybe I'll have to invent my own ratings scale...
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Bill Murray is so awesome. He could've just been "that guy from Ghostbusters" for his whole career, but I'm glad it didn't turn out that way. I loved him in Ed Wood too, but then I adore that whole movie.
Thursday night we watched Top Secret. When I was about nine I was friends with a girl who liked that movie and talked about it a lot, but I never saw it until this week and I wasn't overly impressed with it. Maybe it would've been better if I was nine. The thing I enjoyed the most was all the extremely dated references, especially to things that don't exist anymore, like Montgomery Ward and East Germany. Also, Val Kilmer was like 12 in that movie. What happened to him anyway? He's practically disappeared from movies.
Friday night we watched Cradle Will Rock, which was pretty good. They don't make very many rabble-rousing "Union Yes!" movies anymore, but I guess it's not surprising that if someone was going to make one, it would be Tim Robbins. I'm beginning to suspect he's kind of liberal. The movie is a somewhat fictionalized account of a production of a very pro-labor musical called The Cradle Will Rock that was nearly put on in 1937 by the Federal Theater Project, which was part of the WPA. The Project was shut down by Congress when it was suspected that they had been infiltrated by Communists, and the government sent armed guards to shut down the play. Fortunately, the play's producers were John Houseman and some guy named Orson Welles, who wasn't a big fan of people telling him what he couldn't do and who was about 21 at the time, so he hadn't yet taken on Hearst and lost. The show did go on, performed in an ultimate act of guerrilla theater, and if the true story is anything like how it is in the movie, I'm surprised the incident isn't common knowledge. Oh, Bill Murray is in this movie too. Everyone is in this movie. Tenacious D is in there too.
After that we watched The Last Temptation of Christ, which I guess makes Friday night "Movies My Parents Would Hate Night". Hey, those are usually the best movies. This movie really knocked me out. I understand why some people were upset by it, because those particular people really enjoy being upset by things and really don't enjoy people asking questions or trying to have an intelligent discussion about the fragile, spun-sugar web of beliefs they've constructed and built their lives on. In Catholic school they drill it into your head that Jesus was supposed to be both fully God and fully human (good ol' 200% Jesus, the kids in his neighborhood surely called him), but then they totally freak if you suggest that he might have had human thoughts and impulses.
Long before the movie was released back in 1988, there was a huge controversy about its content and my parents received countless newsletters about how horrible and blasphemous it was. I was fascinated by all of it and read everything I could about it. My parents were so proud of me because I was such a good citizen, staying informed about the things Hollywood and Universal Pictures and that awful Martin Scorsese fellow were saying, but really it was my first exposure to anything that even mentioned ideas that were outside my parents' fundamentalist beliefs. Those crappy newsletters weren't a very good information source, but in a roundabout way they pointed me toward good discussions elsewhere. I got to read some interviews with Scorsese and Willem Dafoe discussing their feelings about the material and it started me on the path toward not inheriting my parents' uninformed, reactionary dumbassitude. Thanks, poorly Xeroxed newsletters!
After all this time, I still hadn't seen the movie. I figured I'd like it, but I didn't realize how effective it really is and how the elements that really should have been controversial were never mentioned by the film's opponents, probably because none of them ever bothered to see it. Now if I ever meet Martin Scorsese, I'll go nuts gushing over this movie and I'll probably totally forget until later that I also really like Goodfellas. The DVD is a Criterion edition, so there's a commentary track and other goodies on there too. I won't have time to watch it before we have to return the DVD, but it's on my "To Buy" list now anyway. Note: Bill Murray is not in Last Temptation, presumably because he was busy being in Scrooged.
Saturday afternoon I watched Bend It Like Beckham while I folded a mountain of laundry. It's a cute movie, sort of similar to My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It has a great soundtrack, as does Sky High, which we just saw tonight. Good times, good times.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Frankenstein Created Woman (1967) -- Hammer horror weirdness! Peter Cushing manages to scientifically verify something about the soul, and how it exists after death and apparently can be transferred into holding areas and other bodies. And sometimes you can put two souls in the same body. So sometimes the guy soul sharing a girl body with the girl's soul can take over and seduce and murder people he wants revenge on. Oh, weird English horror movies! I love how you just end when enough major characters are dead!
Elf (2003) -- if you hate Chrstmas movies where it's very important for families to love each other and resurrect the True Spirit of Christmas, this isn't the movie for you. It's a very uncynical children's movie, and I did like it but it's extremely sweet, like maple syrup and M&Ms on spaghetti. I'll say this though: it's probably the first post-9/11 children's film to demonize the NYPD (in this case, the Central Park Rangers mounted patrol). And I mean literally demonize, as they were presented much like the Ringwraiths from LotR. Bizarre!
The Boston Strangler (1968) -- I wasn't familiar with this movie, so I didn't really know what to expect from a true crime story starring Tony Curtis as the Boston Strangler. You know what? It's worth watching. Good performances and interesting direction, including a lot of split-screen stuff that was used to good effect. This sure as hell isn't Pillow Talk. When it was released the studio apparently promoted it like an exploitation film, but it doesn't really play like one today.
The Brother from Another Planet (1984) -- our TiVo picked up this early John Sayles film from the time just after he got to stop writing scripts for Jaws ripoffs like Pirahna and Alligator and was allowed to start making his interesting character pieces. Sure, the lead character (Joe Morton) is a mute, 3-toed alien, but most of the film just follows him around New York City as he meets different people and they have very one-sided conversations with him. It's also fun for pointing at actors in small parts and saying, "Hey, it's Fisher Stevens! Hey, it's David Straithairn! Hey, it's the grandma from Family Matters!" Gather up your friends who enjoy offbeat indies and make them watch this.
Monday, August 15, 2005
Carnival of Souls (1962) -- again, with Mike Nelson commentary. I really dug this movie. How can you go wrong with an emotionally disconnected athiest church organist who is compelled to visit a long-abandoned Mormon amusement park?
Double Indemnity (1944) -- I read the novel years ago and I'm pretty sure the ending is different, but I can't remember exactly what happens. It's always weird to see Fred MacMurray as a killer with a tendency to refer to women as "baby". He's equally evil in The Apartment, but in a different way.
Autofocus (2002) -- well, that couldn't have been any more depressing. Greg Kinnear is really good in this, and it's too bad people don't give him more credit for his acting ability. I know, I remember him as the Talk Soup Guy too. When I was a kid, my parents mentioned to me several times that one of my mom's college roommates (from the Dallas area, where he did dinner theater) went out with Bob Crane a few times. There's no way they have any clue about what he was into or they probably wouldn't think that was something to brag about, especially to a little kid. Yikes.
Blacula (1972) -- this was better than I thought it would be, with an unsurprisingly awesome soundtrack. Now we have to rent Scream, Blacula, Scream with Pam Grier, the Queen of All Women.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) -- dude, I nearly choked to death laughing at the rumble scene. How did I never hear about that? Completely unexpected. And the rest of the movie was funny too.
We also spent an evening watching my new DVD set of Carmen Electra's Aerobic Striptease. Stop laughing; it's good, not-boring exercise! And in case you're wondering, she doesn't get naked in the videos. I've always wanted to be healthier and a better dancer, so this is probably my only chance to realize that dream in one shot. I realize that at best, I'll probably end up with all the natural dancing mojo of Napoleon Dynamite.
It seems like we watched other movies too, but I'll be danged if I can remember what right now. It was a really weird week. We did finish watching all the episodes of Lost from last year, so we're geared up for the season premier September 21st.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Batman Begins (2005)
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (MST3K)
'Manos': The Hands of Fate (MST3K)
Maryjane (1968) -- starring 1960s teen idol Fabian, this movie is awesomely weird and not what I thought it would be AT ALL.
Roller Boogie (1979)
Earth vs the Flying Saucers (1956)
The Manster (1962) -- apparently made for Japanese TV; short, bizarre, and racier than you'd think.
The Last Seduction (1994)
Better Luck Tomorrow (2002)
Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
Ankle Biters (2002) -- vampire little people, ultra low budget.
Alone in the Dark (2005) -- the worst movie I've ever seen starring Tara Reid as a scientist. Hey, she was wearing glasses!
Obviously, this was an organized Bad Movie Night.
Little Cigars (1973) -- crime caper starring Angel Tompkins and a cast of more little people. Midgetsploitation!
Watch the Skies (2005) -- Turner Classic Movies documentary about alien invasion movies. Started out good and then turned into a shameless plug for Speilberg's latest offering, which I haven't seen and can't get excited about.
The Wasp Woman (1960) -- a Roger Corman classic.
Fantastic 4 (2005)
The Thing from Another World (1951)
Forbidden Planet (1957)
The Long Good Friday (1980)
Your Friends and Neighbors (1998)
Man of La Mancha (1972)
My Bodyguard (1980) -- do you like Adam Baldwin, who played Jayne on Firefly? This was his first movie. It also features a very young Matt Dillon and Joan Cusack. This is a prototype for '80s teen movies, down to being set and shot in Chicago, but with '70s movie pacing, sensibility and brains.
The Hellcats (MST3K) -- try inferring the plot of this biker movie
Dodgeball (2004) -- "So what are you dying of that's keeping you from the finals?" "Right now it feels a little bit like... shame."
Reefer Madness (1936) -- DVD with Mike Nelson commentary
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Die, Monster, Die! (1965) -- starring Boris Karloff and Oakley Court, the house where a bunch of Hammer horror flicks and The Rocky Horror Picture Show were shot. I didn't know that about the movie until the house appeared in the movie, and then I exclaimed, "Hey! I've been there!" And so Meredith and I have. Their website has a little bit of information on Oakley Court's history, including the fact that it is believed to have been the British headquarters of the French resistance during World War II. Now it's a fancy hotel, hardly creepy at all. You should probably avoid the basement anyway. By the way, the title of this movie is VERY misleading.
Wedding Crashers (2005) -- raunchy, politically incorrect, and very funny. Refreshing to see a movie like this; I'm about PG-13ed to death.
Old School (2003) -- another spot of raunchy fun
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) -- saw it at the Alamo Drafthouse Village in Austin. What can I say; I was in the mood and hadn't seen it in years.
Bad News Bears (2005)
Punk: Attitude -- a documentary from IFC about the history of punk rock.
Breathless (1983) -- American remake of Godard's influential film. This movie was clearly an inspiration for True Romance and, I'd argue, certain elements of the Butch & Fabiana segment of Pulp Fiction. A surprising amount of naked Richard Gere in this movie, if you're into that sort of thing.
Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator (2002) -- documentary on a skateboarding legend who pulled a spectacular crash-and-burn. This is one of the few movies I've ever seen where the subject quits drugs, gets a whole lotta religion, and THEN rapes and murders a girl. Sad, compelling, and the place to go if you never invited Vision Street Wear into your life and want to see what you missed.
July 30: Eegah! (MST3K)
Starsky & Hutch (2004)
The Bad News Bears (1976)
And that's where we came in. I notice we rarely if ever watch anything on a Wednesday. That's Lost and Veronica Mars night, so we're busy.
Ranch isn't my favorite, but a friend who works in an Austin restaurant says sorority girls from University of Texas will drown absolutely any kind of food in it. Gross. Even I think that's nasty, and I'm a huge fan of dipping sauces. I've found lowfat ranch usually tastes ok, but I have never tasted a fat-free ranch that wasn't repulsive. This makes sense now that I've read the article and learned that one of the main ingredients in real ranch dressing is fat. Mmm, delicious fat!
What's your favorite salad dressing? I like Caesar, with or without anchovies.
Thanks to Pop Culture Junk Mail (which uses the same template as this site, but I HAD IT FIRST! Just me and surely tens of thousands of others!) for the link.
Friday, August 05, 2005
Last night we watched House on Haunted Hill with Vincent Price. We'd seen it before but this version is the new DVD with commentary by Mike Nelson from Mystery Science Theater 3000. (Do I really need to type that out? Most folks reading this are likely to know what MST3K means.) It's a fun, silly movie, a William Castle classic starring Price and as Nelson points out, the guy from TV's The Big Valley and Robert Mitchum's sister. The commentary was the reason we picked up this DVD and Carnival of Souls; they're in the Off Color Films series from Legend Films that also includes Reefer Madness. We rented that one a few weeks back and had some good laughs from that. Sometimes a goofy, 85-minute movie is the best medicine for a stressful day. You know, instead of pot, which is stinky and far less legal.
Off Color Films does colorized versions of their movies, but they're creatively colorized so they're just enhancing the picture a little without pretending this is the color the filmmakers always intended and they totally would've shot in color if the poor saps had been able to do so, a la Ted Turner. All the DVDs have the option of watching the film in the original black and white. It defaults to color when the commentary track is on, or you can select the colorized version for normal viewing. They have fun with the colors; in Reefer Madness, the puffs of smoke coming from the teenaged dope fiends are tinted in a variety of non-standard smoke hues, like green and pink. Each disc contains a short video on how they acheive their colorization, but I haven't watched it yet.
We'll probably see Carnival of Souls this weekend sometime, and they still have Reefer Madness and the remake of Night of the Living Dead for sale, but we haven't snagged those yet. Technically, House on Haunted Hill won't be released for another month, but you can order one autographed by Mike Nelson and have it shipped now. I don't profit from any of this, but their product has my free endorsement.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
It's wild how much I can see in these satellite photos. I went to a Catholic school for kindergarten and 1st grade, and I can see that the huge field behind the playground there isn't a field anymore. There's a big building there now, and from their website, it looks like it's now a youth center. I'm pretty sure I was able to identify the Weinerschnitzel that was near our house. It was easy to find McGill Elementary, the best school I ever attended, and to identify the restaurants across the street -- Pizza Hut and a Mexican place called Henry's Diner -- that used to taunt us with their delicious smells during outdoor P.E. classes. There was also a Dunkin' Donuts, but I think it's gone now. Yes, I was always obsessed with food.
1. I didn't recognize former terrible Robin Chris O'Donnell at first. I think it was the lack of being surrounded by a crappy movie that threw me off.
2. John Lithgow has resurrected his character from Footloose, but now he's tragic and has a moustache. He's also only seven years older than Liam Neeson. I had to look up the difference, but I knew it was pretty close. Doesn't really matter, but that sort of thing always tickles me.
3. It will always and forever amuse me to see Tim Curry play prudish characters, because even as a little kid watching him in Annie: The Movie, I felt like he exuded dangerous-but-appealing sexuality, kept barely under the surface if at all. I didn't really know what that meant when I was seven, but I felt it anyway. I just thought of it as "Teehee I have a little crush on him, and I don't know why since his character is openly sleazy." Now he's pushing 60 and I still have that thing for him, even though I'm pretty sure I'm not his type, chromosomally-speaking.
4. Liam Neeson is extra hot.
5. Whenever I see Laura Linney, I still think of her in the made-for-TV adaptation of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City. Same thing for Thomas Gibson, aka Greg from Dharma & Greg.
It's amazing to think how much Kinsey's research and reports affected America's ideas and attitudes about sex, and yet I look around and I don't think we were affected nearly enough. I suppose progress takes time, and it seems like a two steps forward, one step back sort of process.
Hooray, we like having new TV shows to watch. We got hooked on Veronica Mars this season too so we have plenty to look forward to this fall. Hopefully Smallville will not have another season of Sucksville now that they're not stuck with that high school dynamic and they can just go to college, which involves a lot of skipping class in favor of catching matinees if I recall my university days correctly.
All this and we're still trying to watch bunches of movies. More on that in a bit. Or above, if you're not reading this as soon as I post.
Monday, August 01, 2005
Last night we started with Starsky & Hutch, which was funnier than I thought it would be. I'll watch anything with Vince Vaughn in it, and I've been pretty happy with the "Frat Pack" movies of the last five years or so. It's good to see Juliette Lewis working, even in small parts. She had a funny bit at the beginning of Old School too. More on some of the Frat Pack movies later; we've watched several recently and probably have a few more in our near future because Vince Vaughn = super hot. Yeah, I'm 13.
I mentioned the remake of The Bad News Bears in the post below. It's a fun movie. We saw it last week when we were in Austin and I just saw the original last night after Starsky & Hutch and the remake is very faithful, maybe better in some ways. Hubby says it benefits quite a bit from modern pacing, which is true but I can't really fault a 1976 movie for feeling like it was made when it was. It made me sort of sad that Tatum O'Neal's career didn't really go anywhere when she grew up. I think I'm going to have to rent Paper Moon too.
I think the major improvement is in the Coach Buttermaker character. He's fleshed out a little more in the remake, which I like. Billy Bob Thornton is a little less of an Old Man than Walter Matthau (who was born approximately 68 years old) and his character is a little more involving here. The original functions just fine without it, but sometimes there's room for improvement. It's also good to see kids in a modern movie who aren't just cute little Dakota Fanning-style moppets, kids who talk like the kids did when I was growing up (i.e. lots of name-calling and naughty words). Somewhere along the line the movies lost that, and they seem less realistic for it. We never talked that way around (most) adults, but when it was kids-only everybody was trying out to be a junior Eddie Murphy. You know, back when he was funny and raunchy and not the star of god-awful "family" movies.
The link above goes to a news story entitled "Low-Carb Pioneer Atkins Files Chapter 11", to which I say: ha ha, suckers. Sounds like most of the folks who thought that Atkins crap was a good idea have migrated back into the world of recreational bacon-ingesting and have stopped pretending it's a health plan. Too bad, I figured it would solve the Social Security crisis when half the country did a quick die-off from heart attacks.
I'm kidding of curse. I'm glad people are giving up Atkins because it's incredibly unhealthy and being alive and healthy is a very good thing. Stupid-ass diet fads.
Oh, the headline on this post is a quote from Richard Linklater's remake of The Bad News Bears, where this time the heavy kid who plays catcher is on Atkins, with predictably non-existent results. See the post above for more on the movie.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
I am Karrin Murphy.
I head up one of the most thankless jobs in Law Enforcement. Half the department thinks I'm just crazy. The other's simply convinced I'm dangerous. They all think I'm due for an early retirement. And they've all been wrong longer than they'd like.
It's my job to protect the people who can't protect themselves. I'm never one of them. Me and the boys in Special Investigations stand between the rest of Chicago and the darkness, armed only with our guns and our determination.
If you threaten one of them, or anyone I am sworn to protect, I will end you, no matter how many limbs and fangs you have, no matter how many bullets bounce off your scaly hide. I will find a way.