I don’t know about you, but I was a teeny bit disappointed there was no apocalypse. I had already mapped out which houses on the block to raid, our weapons were ready, food and water stocked, and plenty of crafts to keep me occupied. Then…nothing. Not even a small town taken over by zombies! No aliens or meteors coming from space, no leather-clad gangs roaming on motorcycles, no worldwide plague, no solar flares or mega-storms, volcanoes or mutants.
To console ourselves, Hubby and I watched a string of post-apocalyptic movies, so we could at least survive the wasteland vicariously. We stumbled upon an absolute GEM of a movie, called “The Bed Sitting Room” (in Britain that would be like a studio apartment, I believe).
The movie is from 1969, and it was completely amazing, and not in a terrible B-movie way. The settings are truly post-apocalyptic, and the story is weird and funny. It’s not a serious, Mad Max style apocalypse; more like Monty Python, but still incredibly well done. You will even recognize Veruca Salt’s father amongst the cast. It’s on instant on Netflix, so you really have no excuse not to watch it.
I’m aware there has been a big stink up going on regarding Netflix recently announced price increases. I know for a lot of people it will mean a huge (percentage-wise) increase over what they are currently paying (somewhere around an additional $6 per month). I don’t think Netflix is being very bright about this whole thing, but it is still WAY BETTER and cheaper than cable. And it’s the only thing in my mail box other than junk mail, and I get excited when I see one of those little red envelopes. So that’s my take on the whole thing.
The envelope that showed up yesterday contained “Whip It”, a movie that was filmed and set here in Austin. That in and of itself makes me want to watch it. It stars and was directed by Drew Barrymore, and it also stars Ellen Page, Juliette Lewis, and Jimmy Fallon among many others. Ellen Page’s character, Bliss, lives in a small town near Austin, and secretly attends her first Texas Roller Derby match. When it’s over, she is convinced to try out, and of course makes it onto the team, the Hurl Scouts.
Roller Derby is a big deal here in Austin, and I have been to a few matches myself. I freaking love it, and apparently so does Drew Barrymore, which is another reason I was excited about this movie. Overall, it was a good movie. It had funny parts, although it could have been funnier, and there were a few parts that seemed like “Well, this is how a movie plot should go, right?”
One easy improvement to the whole plot would have been to leave out the Bliss’s boyfriend plot line. It went nowhere, and was generally a distraction from the good parts of the story. All the cheesy, chagrin-inducing moments occurred in that part of the movie. It was a constant montage of “look how cute and goofy we are together! We sit near Austin landmarks!”
Other than that, it was a good movie. On the Clever Chick scale it gets a “I won’t be buying it, but it was worth watching”. Drew Barrymore’s character is hilarious and I wish she’d been in it more. And yes, there are lots of Austin landmarks for you to point out and shriek to your friends and/or spouse about. I totally did that.
– That Clever Chick
I love Netflix, not just because it gives me an endless supply of movies and TV shows, but because it suggests things I might like. One of those suggestions was Hogfather.
This movie is set in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. He has written a whole series of books set there, and this movie was made from one of them. This movie is set on the night of Hogswatch, which is similar to our Christmas Eve. Someone is trying to destroy Hogswatch, and Death’s granddaughter has to try and save it.
I think the best way to describe the series, is a fantasy series, with lots of humor thrown in. Kind of like the land of Narnia, but with clever, funny bits woven throughout. If you’re a fan of Terry Pratchett, or Douglas Adams you’ll enjoy this.
If you’ve already seen this one, or you trust my advice so much that you’ll watch anything I tell you, another Discworld movie is available. Horray! It’s called The Color of Magic, and it stars Sean Astin and Tim Curry.
Sean Astin plays Discworld’s first tourist, and he teams up with the most terrible wizard on the Disc and has hilarious and ridiculous adventures. They even explore beyond the Disc! Tim Curry is actually good in this, rather than horribly distracting as he can be sometimes.
There are some animated movies of Discworld available on Netflix as well. I didn’t find those to be as entertaining, but Hubby enjoyed them. I plan on finding some of the Discworld books so I can immerse myself in all the humor and detail. I’ll let you know how they are. On the Clever Chick Scale, these both get a “I will recommend these to friends, and eagerly await new ones”.
I was privelidged enough last weekend to spend time with my dear friend Black, of Two Tokens, and his family. I have a lot in common with all of them, including their awesome 8 year old, Lil’ K (you can pick a new nickname if you don’t like that one).
While I was there, we spread out on the couch to watch movies. Through the magic of netflix, we picked some random movies, one of which was awesome, the other of which was terrible. This got us discussing how you can tell if a movie is bad from the outset. The rules (so far) are these:
1) If the movie has super long credits, it’s probably bad. According to Mrs.Black (again, you can choose a different nickname), if it’s a good movie, they want to get you right into it, rather than have you sit around watching credits.
2) If there’s gratuitous nudity early in the movie, it’s probably terrible. My reasoning is that the creators are hoping viewers will say, “Ooh, boobs!! Let’s stick it out to see if there are more boobs later!”
Both movies we watched this weekend followed these simple rules.
First up: Dance of the Dead. Zombies at prom??? Yes, please!! Awesome premise, and fortunately, awesome movie! It did break a couple rules of zombie movies, but the mistakes were forgivable. So, how it followed the rules:
1) Super short credits. I don’t even know if the actors names were listed.
2) The only nudity in the movie is about halfway through, and it’s just a male zombie’s bum. That means this movie has substance, rather than gimmicks.
The plot is great. The town is near a nuclear power plant, which doesn’t bode well for anyone. Of course, since it’s a zombie movie, the dead start to rise, but it happens to be on the night of the school prom. This whole movie is filled with humor, great acting, characters, and plot reveals. I loved it. On the Clever Chick scale it gets a “I’ll recommend it to tons of my friends, and watch it repeatedly”. It’s not on the level of Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland, but it is damn close.
Next victim: The Funhouse. This movie came out in 1981, and just from the tagline “Pay to get in; Pray to get out!” I was severely tempted to watch it. Let’s get right to how it violated the rules of good movies, and just human decency.
1) I swear, 10% of this movie is credits. When you start seeing “Best Boy – Kyle Furthham” and “Dolly Grip – Toby Westhover”, you know it’s going to be bad.
2) Boobs in the first 2-4 minutes. And it was creepy. The actress is about to get into the shower, so you think to yourself, “I bet they’re going to show her nude”, but she looks like a twelve year old. I’m not kidding. We all thought the same thing. I think it’s because she had her hair down, and a big, fluffy, pink robe on, and a fairly youthful face, but it was disturbing.
Any time movies start using nudity as a crutch, you know it’s going to be missing in the plot arena, and this movie was no exception. At one point, we realized there were only 24 minutes left in the movie, and anything interesting had yet to happen.
There were several plot points that were never resolved, or referred back to. For example, they make a point of having the main actress stop and stare at several carnival barkers, who are all played by the same actor, but then nothing happens with that. They basically took a bunch of random occurrences set in a carnival and called it a movie. On the Clever Chick Scale this gets a “It’s so bad, you can’t even laugh at it. Save yourself 2 hours and avoid, avoid, avoid”.
I love movies, and I love cheesy, hokey, attempting-to-be-scary movies, but this one is inexcusable in its awfulness.
Even though the Rapture obviously did not occur this weekend, (was there ever any doubt?) I thought I’d do a rapture post. It’s a movie AND book review, in one! Ooh-la-la!
First things first: how to out-live zombies. Max Brooks is (un)dead serious about his subject matter, and 100% practical. This book is written as a completely serious guide to survive zombie hordes. He even has historical accounts of when zombies rose in the past, what causes them, and how to survive beyond the complete extinction of humanity. It was very practical and useful. I am presently building a 10-foot-high cinderblock wall around my home, as per his instructions (not literally). On the Clever Chick Scale this earns a “I will keep it on my shelf, possibly loan it out, but probably not re-read it”.
The Last Man on Earth, starring Vincent Price, is based on the novel “I am Legend”. After having seen this one, and the Will Smith version, I really want to read that book. For an older movie (it’s from 1964), the plot moves at a decent pace, and the acting is good. There’s a twist at the end that I thought was genius, and of course it’s Vincent Price, so creepy-awesomeness just exudes from it. On the Clever Chick Scale this gets a “I probably won’t rewatch it, but I would recommend it to friends”. Plus, it’s on instant on Netflix, which is always a bonus.
Well, I hope everyone had fun at the “apocalypse”, and didn’t do any long-term credit damage, or anything. Save that for December 2012.
Hubby and I followed one of those internet rabbit holes that pop up sometimes, and discovered this movie. I was watching an Arcade Fire music video, My Body is a Cage, on you tube, and another video of theirs, Intervention, popped up, and Hubby clicked on it.
This video is the song set to the 1925 silent movie “Battleship Potemkin”. You may be familiar with the famous “Odessa Staircase” scene, where the Russian soldiers are marching down seemingly-endless stairs massacring civilians. A mother is shot on the stairs, and as she falls down, dead, she accidentally pushes her baby in its carraige down the steps. We then decided to read about the movie on wikipedia, which had a section called “In Popular Culture”. That section lists other movies and things that have referenced it.
That’s how we stumbled upon the movie “The Trotsky”. It’s about a high school senior who believes he’s the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky. After holding a hunger strike and trying to unionize his father’s factory, he is forced to attend public school. He then decides the students deserve to have a union so that the school system has to actually educate them, rather than functioning like a prison system.
Hubby and I both really liked it. It was very funny and clever. The way the main character, Leon, rebels against the school system and administration is very smart, and I wish I’d had as much motivation when I was in high school. Rather than just whining about how stupid the dress code is when some people can’t even read at a functional level, he addresses the contradictions inherent in the school system. Students are expected to be as responsible as adults, and yet also to do as they’re told, like children.
If I had watched this in high school, I would seriously have tried to stage a walk-out at some point (possibly). We really enjoyed this movie, and some of the one-liners are classics. If you know anything about the history of the Communist movement, it has a whole other level of humor as well. On the Clever Chick scale, this gets a “I will quote it, probably watch it again, and recommend it to friends, but it’s for a niche audience”.
Westworld is kind of an odd movie. It’s about a resort people can go to, and choose between a vacation in Romanworld, Medievalworld, or Westworld. It’s basically a giant Live Action Role Playing (LARP) game, with robots for the guests to interact with. It stars Yul Brynner as a cowboy, which is my favorite role to see him in. He is a robot cowboy though.
I’m going to tell you right now, do not google the movie trailer on this one. That trailer gives away everything! I try very hard to avoid spoilers, but that was apparently not a consideration back in 1973. Basically, the story follows James, James Brolin and his friend through Westworld. They get to live old-west style, including riding horses, bar fights, and shoot outs.
Considering the age of this movie, the special effects are really spectacular. They hold up remarkably well, and Yul Brynner is menacing as all get-out. There’s very little in this movie that makes you think, “Well, it was the 70’s. We should cut them some slack”.
One interesting fact I found on IMDb’s Westworld page, is that it was written and directed by Michael Crichton (yes, the Jurassic Park guy). This guy obviously uses the Stephen King method of writing, only instead of in every story something normally inocuous becomes frightening, his single plot line is “There’s a huge technological inovation that somehow goes horribly awry”. Seriously, name one book of his that’s not like that.
Guess what else the wonderful Internet Movie Database has shown me?? (God, I love that site). There’s a remake in the works!! I have ceased to be surprised by Hollywood’s constant cannibalization of itself. I can’t even keep track of all the remakes enough to be outraged about them! And that gem of a human being Russell Crowe is rumored to be a part of it. I hardly even want to waste the energy to shake my head in disgust. The only thing that would make it cool would be if Josh Brolin was in it, but I doubt that’ll happen. I think I’ll have to google every movie from now on just to make sure whether or not it’s a remake. Is there no creativity left in the world!??!
Last year for New Year’s, Hubby and I had the idea to watch all of the AFI top 100 movies this year. Somehow, we’ve only watched a few, though they have been pretty good, for the most part. Yesterday we finally watched Auntie Mame, which has been in our Netflix queue this whole time.
Some older movies can be kind of stiff, or even unintelligible just due to the passage of time. This movie was actually really funny and entertaining the whole way through. It’s longer than most current movies, but there weren’t any boring parts. Some of the effects were a bit campy, but that’s to be expected. Hubby and I both laughed frequently, and completely enjoyed it. Like Bridge on the River Kwai I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe these old movies aren’t as stuffy and boring as I always thought? We’ll see. I still don’t like Citizen Kane.
This movie, Once Upon a Time in the West, is an iconic spaghetti western, with a compelling story. It stars Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda, and was directed by Sergio Leone. Much like other classics, like The Magnificent Seven, this is a tale of justice, and the whole story is completely entrancing. The musical score is haunting, and very distinctive, and I absolutely love it. It adds so much more dimension to the film.
I know what you’re probably thinking. I don’t seem like the type to enjoy westerns. I do love a good spaghetti western though. This one has that perfect blend of style, story, and characters. There are no weak parts. The entire execution is fantastic, and this is spaghetti western at its best.
With spaghetti westerns and B-movies, you kind of have to filter out the good ones. Fortunately, you guys have me to do all the leg work. See how much I love you little minions? I’m willing to sit on my couch, crafting and watching movie after movie, just so you know what to watch. I accept appreciation in the form of gifts and cash.
Spaghetti westerns and B-movies are low budget, mass produced movies, which is why they can be so hit-or-miss. There are definitely some jewels out there (like obviously The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly series), and this is one of them. Once you have seen it (because this link contains **SPOILERS**), check out this music video someone made from the movie and Arcade Fire’s “My Body is a Cage”. It’s phenomenal (my link tool isn’t working right now, so here’s the address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pyp34v6Lmcc )
Look, one blog post leading to at least TWO HOURS of entertainment. You’re welcome, minions!
In honor of today being the fifth of November, I’m going to write a movie review of one of my favorite movies, “V for Vendetta”. For those of you who don’t know, V is based on a comic book set in the dystopian future of Great Britain. The movie is apparently somewhat tamer than the comic, but of course the comic doesn’t have Natalie Portman, so we’ll call it a draw.
If you have not seen this movie yet, go find someone who is a casual acquaintance, who probably doesn’t like you very much and has limited understanding of social mores, and get them to slap you. A friend would be too gentle for this situation.
Natalie Portman gives a damn fine performance, crying her giant doe eyes out, and/or looking bad ass the whole time. This movie has the perfect mixture of dark foreboding, some form of twisted romance, and vengeance. The director has gone to fantastic lengths to maintain the mystery of the characters, which goes against the trend in Hollywood. And by “trend” I mean “Mafia-like persuasion from studio executives who know nothing about making good movies”.
Hugo Weaving completely kills this role, but you never even think about the fact that he’s under that mask. Everyone in the movie fulfills their roles in ways most movies only shadow. There is not a single weak spot in the cast, sets, costumes, effects, design, lighting, directing, or any other part of the film making process. Even the marketing department was on board, and didn’t give away the entire plot in the trailers, like most tend to do. I constantly re-love this movie anytime I see it. Today is the fifth of November, the day the movie is centered around, so GO WATCH IT RIGHT NOW!!
In honor of Halloween, I decided to post my top 5 favorite zombie movies. I would love to post my costume, and stuff like that, but I don’t want to reveal it before the big moment. Zombie movies are some of my favorites, and if you haven’t seen any of the ones I’m about list, never admit it to anyone. You should be pretty embarrassed.
Zombieland – This movie is hysterical, and I don’t think it got nearly enough notice when it came out. Bill Murray cameos, and it is one of the funniest scenes of any movie in the past couple of years.
Planet Terror – This movie came out as a double feature with Death Proof, by Austin’s precious Quentin Tarantino. Planet Terror is ridiculous, over-the-top, and epic.
Dawn of the Dead – George A. Romero is the god father of zombie movies. I prefer the 2004 version that he wrote, rather than directed. This one is serious, how-the-hell-will-we-survive-this zombie mayhem. Corn syrup explosions abound!
28 Days Later – I love this one because the characters are really practical, and to encourages people to plan ahead for a zombie apocalypse. I think that’s an important lesson to learn.
Shaun of the Dead – This is not only, my very favorite zombie movie, this is one of my favorite movies ever. It is hilarious, clever, and makes me laugh every time I see it.
If watching all those movies made you paranoid, you can always check out the zombie survival guide. It will definitely cheer you up, if nothing else.