Saturday, June 28, 2014

Movie – Zebrahead (1992)

Zebrahead is a small independent film that made somewhat of a splash when it came out, but then was pretty much forgotten over the next couple of decades.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I even came across a reference to it, so if you’ve never heard of this movie you’re probably in good company.  It features some good performances by the young stars (Michael Rappaport and N’Bushe Wright), both in their first feature films.  It also features three dimensional portrayals of teenagers – something that is rare in movies.  It is the combination of the lead actors and the naturalistic presentation of teenagers that make this film worth seeking out.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Movie – The Crying Game (1992)

The film The Crying Game actually represents something unique in all my movie-watching experiences.  (No, it’s not the twist, for those who have already seen it.)  It’s that I specifically went to see this movie in the theater before it got spoiled for me.  It may be hard nowadays to imagine a time when every single film wasn’t already spoiled well in advance with social media reporting casting and storylines well before the movie is even released, but this was the way it was in 1992.  You could actually go see a movie not knowing anything more about it than what you saw in the trailer, if you even saw that.

The Crying Game was a little different in that it was making news for the fact that it had a fantastic twist in it that supposedly you wouldn’t see coming.  I decided I’d rent it right away when it came out on VHS tape, but then it went and got nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture.  (It would eventually win for Best Original Screenplay.)  I knew there was little chance of it having that kind of attention being paid to it by the press and it not getting spoiled for me.  I decided on a pre-emptive strike: I’d go see it in the theater.  To this day that is still the only time where the primary reason I bought a movie ticket was to see a movie I knew would be spoiled for me if I didn’t see it as soon as possible.  And you know what?  It was well worth it. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

He Emerges from the Depths

I’ve been away for a while working on my book.  Now that I’m returning I might get a reaction like this…

But if I do I hope to eventually win you back.

My genealogical supplement is now in the proofing stage with the printer.  I’ve still got some small things to do with it, but I’m waiting on a couple companies to get back to me first.  In the meantime I’ve got some bandwidth back and I’m going to start making posts again. 

I was in the middle of a category on interracial relationships when I had to stop to concentrate on my book.  I’ve also been putting in quite a few hours at work, so getting the book to this point took me even longer than I had been expecting.

Anyway, next up are three separate posts for movies from 1992.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

May Movie Status

I saw 10 new movies in the month of May, plus I re-watched two films.  My movie watching has been much lower the last few months as I’ve started a new job and as I’ve been working on my book – a 15 year supplemental update to my 1999 Parkman genealogy.

I am semi-actively working on the following lists: Oscar Best Picture Nominees, the six 101 [Genre] Films You Must See Before You Die lists, and They Shoot Pictures Don’t They.  All of these different lists can be seen by clicking on the names of them.  They link to my Lists from Chip posts on them.

Here are the 10 new movies I saw in May.  Highlighted films are ones to which I would give at least three stars out of five.

Oscar Nominees (0):

101 Genre (0):

TSPDT (3): The Hour of the Furnaces (1968), The Party (1968), In Vanda’s Room (2000)

Other Movies (7): Trance (2013), The Stranger Within (2013), The Decoy Bride (2011), The Vow (2012), Straight from the Heart (2003), Grown Ups 2 (2013), Planes (2013)

Rewatches (2): The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Project X (2012)

I saw so few films this month that I will just write a bit about each.

Trance – Gets a little too tricky for its own good.  There’s not really much suspense about who’s playing who, but there is about the reasons why.  This is the kind of movie where you need to pay attention, so put down the phone while you are watching it.  3 stars

The Stranger Within – Made for TV movie I stumbled upon while switching channels.  I liked the concept: former Amish woman banned from her religious life returns a dozen years later as the newly appointed sheriff and immediately has to solve a murder that looks very familiar.  Ultimately, there’s not quite enough “there” there to recommend it.  2.5 stars

The Decoy Bride – Harmless piece of fluff with a number of characters all running around on a remote island in Scotland.  The cast has some people that might attract notice (i.e. Kelly MacDonald, Alice Eve, and David Tennant).  I was in the right mood for it when I watched it.  3 stars

The Hour of the Furnaces - Four hours of propaganda badly disguised as a documentary. The Argentinean filmmakers hate, well, just about everything. From Europe, to the U.S., to the "sluts" living openly in sin in the late 60s, to trade with other countries, to the current and most former governments, to "neo-colonialism", to, well, you get the idea.  The only thing that they express a liking for is the former fascist dictator Juan Peron and they openly call for the viewers to rise up, overthrow the government, and return Peron to power.  1 star

The Vow – Another one I stumbled upon while switching channels.  I caught it just as the gorgeous Rachel McAdams was waking up in the hospital with no memory of the last several years, including her husband.  I had somehow gotten the impression this was just another Nicholas Sparks tearjerker, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it actually had some substance to it and it kept my interest.  I stuck around after it ended as the channel immediately started showing it again.  I watched the opening 20-30 minutes I had missed.  3 stars

Straight from the Heart – I was in the mood for something brainless and heartwarming so I flipped to the Hallmark channel.  This movie was showing.  It hits all the clichés of a romance movie – immediate dislike masking their attraction, a man’s man who’s hiding an inner emotional loss, the driven career woman who needs to learn to unclench, etc.  I just didn’t feel much chemistry between the two leads.  2.5 stars

Grown Ups 2 – I was one of the few people who liked the first film.  Instead of playing the moronic teenager in a man’s body like he usually does to appeal to his core audience – moronic teenagers – Sandler had played a middle aged man and it hit close to home.  The second film, though, is more obviously just thrown together to repeat the fun of making the first one for all of them.  2.5 stars

The Party – It might as well have been another Pink Panther movie with director Blake Edwards and star Peter Sellers playing a bumbling idiot who ruins the lives of everyone around him.  The only difference is that Sellers plays a man from India instead of one from France.  If I had seen it when I was eight years old I probably would have been laughing my ass off.  Nowadays, this shtick from Sellers has worn thin a long time ago.  2 stars

In Vanda’s Room – Three hours of two sisters smoking crack and having incoherent conversations, all while their neighborhood is periodically being demolished.  (The film tries to pretend it’s a documentary, but it’s not.)  There are some interesting camera shots in the film…of ugly things.  If that’s your cup of tea then check this out, otherwise avoid it like, well, like you would real crack addicts in condemned neighborhoods.  1 star

Planes – This probably would have been a direct to video Disney sequel like they do with many of their films, but it was following a couple of Pixar films, so it made a brief appearance in theaters.  Of course, those two films (Cars and Cars 2) are generally considered among the worst Pixar has produced.  So, a quasi-direct to video Disney sort-of sequel to two not great Pixar films?  The results are predictable – okay at best and not good enough to recommend.  2.5 stars