Monday, July 9, 2012

Catching Up On Movies

We didn't have anything planned for this past weekend so we did this thing where we would go out in the morning (usually for breakfast-okay for breakfast) then retreat from the heat/humidity for the afternoon in the cave we have created in our living room, and then went back out for the evening, we lived like some sort of urban lizards. What can I say, heat and humidity can be a deadly (duh) combination. But it allowed me/us to see a few movies, and hence, they have piled up waiting to be looked at:

21 Jump Street (2012) (35/50 movies)
People were right about this one: this was way funnier than 1) I thought it was going to be and 2) it had any right to be. And Channing Tatum as a bro out of his element in a new High School world actually ended up working out pretty well. And it worked well both as a spoof on police movies but also on high school ones, which is no mean feat. Bonus points for using Ice Cube, again good here, as the angry, black police captain AND using "Straight Outta Compton" at one point.

Inside Deep Throat (2005) (36/50 movies)
Whoa this wasn't a documentary about Watergate!? Just kidding, I knew what I was getting into. Obviously this is about the stir cause by the release of porn movie, "Deep Throat" that caused such a stir at the time, gaining mainstream notoriety (to the point where even Johnny Carson and Bob Hope were joking about it) causing censorship trials and so on. The movie delves into not only it's release, but also the making of it, the principals involved, and then branches out into issues of censorship, feminism, and so on and so forth. It really is a pretty fascinating documentary. What is sort of depressing, and this is a cliche I know, but how things change and yet how much they REALLY stay the same as far as how people view say individual rights, personal freedom, and censorship, and how those battles are still faced and waged in quite the same ways.

Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983) (37/50)
I remember seeing the box for this video back in the VHS days at the video store. Look at that poster: "High Noon at the End of The Universe"!? I can't believe it took me so long to watch this. If I had seen it when I was 8, I mean it would have still been unfavorably compared to Return Of The Jedi, but seeing it when I am 35 I am struck by three things: 1) Jared Syn, the bad guy here is played by Michael Preston who played Pappagallo in The Road Warrior-his agent must have had post apocalyptic movies in his rolodex just waiting for him, 2) This whole movie was obviously filmed in one canyon in California (Ah, my research tells me it's Bronson Canyon in California-you've seen it in other things before) The post apocalyptic world is made up of about a half mile of said Canyon, and 3) I forget wha the third was, maybe that Richard Moll was in it as some sort of mutant warrior king? At any rate, it's a good enough time waster on a Saturday afternoon, there isn't much more you can expect from a sic-fi cheapie from 1983 that was originally made in 3-D. It made me think of something I might catch on a Sunday afternoon in middle or high school in WPIX from New York. Which isn't always such a glowing recommendation.
Here is another shot of the cinematic wonder:

Magic Mike (2012) (38/50 movies)
What can I say? If your main reason for seeing this is to check out some beefcake then I don't think you'd walk away disappointed. But, I feel like with sort of thing to make it really entertaining it has to really go campy, Showgirls-style or be really gritty. Magic Mike is neither, and when the plot kicks in it's fairly boring boilerplate. Which is too bad because there is some good stuff here, the dancing being one but also I have to mention Matthew McConnaughey as the club owner/leader of the band of strippers (head dancer?). This is the part, well if it wasn't for Wooderson, he was born to play. It's like Wooderson grew up, moved for Florida and got really interested in body sculpting. The man has a large bust of his head (and a huge painting of himself in his house), he hangs around after work doing the books in his bathrobe. There could have been something fun and interesting here, but then the plot gets in the way and I couldn't care less about whether Channing Tatum gets with the boring girl that can't act or finally gets his furniture making business on track. Although Channing Tatum is definitely believable as a dude-bro with a heart of gold. And, obviously, he can dance. Know what was weird though? I've noticed that none of the advertising says that this is a Steven Soderbergh movie. But it doesn't matter, it could have been directed by anyone, besides a few spots, it definitely doesn't have the Soderbergh visual flair.

The other weird thing was that one of the 5 dancers at the club was Kevin Nash, a professional wrestler. I guess it's not so weird on second thought, professional wrestling has got to be a cousin to male dancing/stripping

The Beasts Of The Southern Wild (2012) (39/50
Now this one is going to stick with me for a while, and I feel like I am going to have to take some time to wrap my head around it. I will say this though: it is a pretty remarkable movie, a feature debut even, and if there is one movie that I can say is definitely "one of a kind" it's this one. It takes place in an area of Louisiana called The Bathtub, and follows HushpuppyQuvenzhan√© Walli also making an amazing debut.  The People of the Bathtub live in trailers mounted above ground to fight the rising tides, and eat food culled from the animals that live alongside them, or pulled from the ocean, or taken from a seemingly endless supply of canned goods, most of which look aged and beaten, and some of which were never intended for humans in the first place. In school Hushpuppy learns about ancient beasts that might be reawakened if the ice caps melt and the waters rise once again. The people of The Bathtub are fiercely independent, and celebrates life to the fullest (unlike those "beyond the levees") . All these things in the movie coexist with each other (you see icecaps melting, and you see these enormous creatures), and things happened but aren't really explained, but the movie isn't really in the question-answering business or the explaining business. Hushpuppy is the narrator, so for me I took it as a look inside her head most of the time as she explains the story as she feels and sees it, extraordinary circumstances and all, even though real life events might be playing out, I mean, it's open to question if The Bathtub even exists. But it looks amazing, the last shot is one of the year's best, and it definitely does not hold your hand, it will let you decide what you've just seen. Which in this day and age, in and of itself is pretty interesting. It might not be for every taste but it's definitely something different and worth checking out.

Spanking The Monkey (1994) (40/50 movies)

Talk about a movie frozen in time. For whatever reason I had never seen David O. Russell's super darkly comic debut before. But this movie feels like such an artifact of independent cinema in the 90's, I enjoyed watching it for just that reason. I am surprised I didn't see this in college, because it FEELS to me like something I would have watched in college. A wonderfully weird Jeremy Davies (whose always wonderfully weird) plays a kid who is trapped at home, a place he definitely doesn't want to be he should be at an internship in Washington for the Surgeon General, taking care of convalescing mother after she broke her leg. Of course everyone in his family is nuts, particularly his father, and it's about that and dealing with being back in his small town which he obviously hated and wanted to get away with (at one point I noted it was Danbury, and hoped it was Danbury, Connecticut, because that would be so perfect)...anyway, I won't give away the sensationalistic hook to this whole thing, but, yeah it feels like the start, which it was for David O. Russell where he would go on, to me, what felt like a real hot streak. 


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