Saturday, April 21, 2018
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Caught these folks again the other night and - as always - had a great time. They played tunes from across their career but leaned heavily on the new, very strong album. The only song I was unfamiliar with was the Lin-Manuel Miranda penned Ben Franklin's Song which was cut from Hamilton. He thought it was the perfect track for The Decemebrists - and he was right!
Many F-Bombs are dropped in Ben Franklin's Song. If you know Ben's life that won't be much of a surprise.
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Adapted from a novel by Jeff VanderMeer by director Alex Garland (EX MACHINA) the film channels Tarkovsky's classics SOLARIS (1972) and STALKER (1979) but finds a new way to get to the same questions. This tale's answers are surprising as well with the main character's motivations twisting in an interesting direction by the third act. This is not a perfect film but it is thoughtful, intelligent speculative fiction that stands well beside ARRIVAL (2016) proving that cerebral science fiction filmmaking isn't dead yet, even if it only shows its head on rare occasions.
At the other end of current cinema science fiction we have a film that is built around giant robots beating the crap out of each other.
PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING (2018) should not have been as enjoyable as it turned out to be. As a sequel it should be a weaker version of the original movie running the surviving characters through their paces while introducing some cardboard new faces to take the place of the hearty souls that perished in the last story. So, how did this movie manage to surprise me? It refuses to copy and paste the first film. Yes, it brings the next generation of Jeager controllers on board giving us the fresh, young faces to pilot the robots but it makes a couple of sharp turns with the new characters. The story has advanced ten years so the holdovers are the same but different. In fact, some of the changes to them are both logical and horrible turning the third act of this story in an interesting direction. I won't spoil things but I was impressed with how this continuation grows the storyline in smart ways giving the
Pacific Rim title an even more understood
importance. And they did it all without subverting the victory of the first
movie! I love it.
ANNIHILATION (2018) - 8
IT CAME FROM ANOTHER WORLD! (2007) - 6
NAKED...YOU DIE (1969) - 7 (rewatch)
CAVE WOMEN ON MARS (2008)- 5
MY FORBIDDEN PAST (1951) - 7 (
drama with Mitchum) New Orleans
DARK HARVEST (1992) - 2 (shot on video mess)
THESEUS AND THE MINOTAUR (2017) - 4 (no budget fantasy tries hard)
THE SAGA OF HEMP BROWN (1958) - 6 (standard western made good by cast)
DIMENSION 5 (1966) - 3 (terrible, cheap SF spy tale)
THE MYSTERIOUS MAGICIAN (1964) - 7 (a.k.a. DER HEXER - fun krimi)
THE SCARLET CLAW (1944) - 7 (rewatch) (creepy Sherlock tale)
LIFE (2017) - 7 (good ALIEN clone)
DAUGHTER OF DRACULA (1972) -6 (Jess Franco vampire film)
NIGHT SCHOOL (1981) - 6 (not bad slasher)
CRY WOLF (1947) - 7 (Flynn & Stanwyck in mystery melodrama)
ROUGH NIGHT IN
(1967) - 7 (solid western with Peppard and Dean Martin) JERICHO
ISLAND CLAWS (1980)- 5 (well done but let down by FX)
THE NICE GUYS (2015) - 8 (rewatch)
PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING (2018) - 8
Friday, April 13, 2018
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Sadly, this excellent series is not well known in the United States as it was only broadcast briefly in the early 1980's and only in a few cities. It's deadly serious tone combined with the typical British SF television low budget look made it a difficult sell here, I suppose. But it is exactly that tone and look that attracted me initially as I was already used to the feel of Doctor Who of the period. It was the smart scripts and sharp dialog that kept me coming back for more. I would eventually spend lots of time over the years digging through magazines and books trying to learn more about the show. It was years before I was able to see all the episodes and by then I could quote some scenes perfectly.
But I know I'm part of a small cult on this one. Just not enough people know of the show and I fear that far too many others would not have the ability to forgive it for the problems that it's low budget necessitated. The leap required for the willing suspension of disbelief might be impossible for those that didn't catch the show in a less CGI-filled time. Oh, well.
If you're interested enough to see what all the fuss was once about the entire series seems to be available on YouTube. Below are the first three episodes that set the story in place and introduces the first central cast. My hope is to find another fan of the series and do a 40th Anniversary podcast about Blake and his band of rebels and miscreants. Fingers crossed!
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Well, without me realizing it, those types of theaters had finally sprung up in my town but I only wish I'd known about it beforehand.
My girlfriend and I were going to see the
Rim sequel (which, by the way, turned out to be much better than
it had any right to be). Because of a previous appointment we ended up going to
a theater that's usually a little out of our way and not one that we attend
frequently. While buying our tickets we were confronted with the fact that we
had to choose our seats. We'd been confused because a couple right in front of
us trying to purchase tickets to another movie had left without going inside. We quickly discerned why. For the screening of the
movie we wanted to see there were only two
seats still available that were actually right next to each other. All other
seats in the theater were singles meaning that we were the last couple in
attendance that could sit together. If we had been unable to get seats right
next to each other my anger would have been off the charts and I doubt we would
have gone to see the film. Even without that barring our rare chance to go to
the movies I was still peeved that things could be so poorly managed as to turn
away customers in such a stupid way. After buying our tickets and realizing
just how irritating I expected this experience was going to be we proceeded into
the cinema and learned very quickly that it was only the first problem we would
One of the larger problems with going out to see movies is that you have to do so in a room with a bunch of strangers. Ordinarily this isn't a big deal but on occasion you end up accidentally seated near idiots. In general I'll inform overly talkative folks that they are not in their living rooms and no one else cares about what they have to say. That approach works fine with most simpleminded dimwits but not always. In such cases you have to get up and move away from the brain-dead word vomiting dolt. You see where this is going, don't you?
Yes - Problem number two with this new type of theater seating is that if you end up seated next to babbling morons you cannot simply get up and move to another seat. You have bought one particular seat and one particular seat only. In most cases - as in ours - there are no other seats to move to. You are screwed! You're going to sit next to that chattering dullard or whining child or clueless cretin for the entire film. Period. So, I had to endure sitting next to a dunce who had to give me and all around her an intermittent recap of the action onscreen. So my enjoyment of the film was sporadically disrupted by such trenchant exclamations as "Oh! Look at that! He slid in there!" or "He ain't going in there!" or "He's the bad guy!!" There is not a room in Hell hot enough for this level of transgression.
Needless to say, I spent the entire running time of the film trying to suppress my desire to strangle this moronic chair barnacle. That I am not in jail currently speaks volumes about my strength of will. Or my fear of prison.
To sum up - I'm not sure I'm going to enjoy the move toward fewer but more comfortable seats in theaters. The downsides are many more than I had anticipated and the intelligence level of movie going crowds show no sign of improving. I'll have to be much more choosy in the future and, although I'm sad to say it, there are places I will no longer patronize. I have to be able to move far enough away from the idiots to enjoy the film. Time to go back to the Drive-In!
Friday, April 06, 2018
THE SHADOW is one of those films that I still think is a mess of good and sloppy elements that combine into a memorable but frustrating whole. It could have been a classic but the director (in my opinion) is too careless of tone and is convinced that camera movement connotates excitement. But others disagree including Agnes Morehead. Or is it Michael Schlesinger? Hard to tell!