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There Are No Walls in the House of Jearl Below are 10 entries, after skipping 10 most recent ones in the "Infernal Jeer" journal:

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May 18th, 2014
11:07 am

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Mystery DVD #242
Rock of Ages

In the 1980s, Los Angeles' famed Sunset Strip is pulsing to a beat that attracts waitress Sherrie and busboy Drew, who fall in love and chase fame while working at the Bourbon Room, a club catering to rock royalty like Stacee Jaxx.

They just don't give a crap, the blurb writers. They are keeping the cast entirely out of the blurb and letting the premise stand on its own for your film-selection needs. A bold gambit with a hint of sabotage.

All-singing, all-dancing, all rock story of love and fame and also rock. A young woman named Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough) rides an overnight cross-country bus, with the clothes on her back and a stack of beloved rock-and-roll albums. She suddenly bursts into "Sister Christian" by Night Ranger. Instead of organizing a defenestration, her fellow riders join in, in approving harmony, and we watch the bus leave Oklahoma towards a mashup with "Living in Paradise." As if the camera were saying, "Yeah, that just happened. I hope you like arena rock." Newly arrived in LA, Sherrie's precious rock artifacts are stolen, right in front of the Bourbon Room, which fortunately has both an opening for a waitress, and a friendly singer/busboy named Drew (Diego Boneta), and they hit it off, because you know what, she's just a small town girl, and he is a city boy, possibly born and raised in South Detroit. Honestly you had better like some arena rock if you’re going to watch this.

Meanwhile Los Angeles Mayor Whitford (Byran Cranston) is pleased to announce his wife Patricia's (Catherine Zeta-Jones) plan to clean up the strip, starting with that filthy pit of loud music and sexy feelings, The Bourbon Room, launchpad of the career of Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise), who is, coincidentally, set to relaunch his career with a solo tour. Stage set for much rock, and many sexy emotions.

On the one hand, it's like a really expensive cast got together and decided to make a two-hour long episode of Glee, for fun. On the other, it's a pretty fantastic episode of Glee, and the fun they had is contagious. Everyone's singing their own parts. Tom Cruise clearly worked his ass off, as well as his abs, oozing around in leather pants like the spawn of David Lee Roth and Steven Tyler. Russell Brand plays a sort of Liverpudlian homunculus in the service of Alec Baldwin, puffy club-owner and Rock Bro. They rock out to some Joan Jett, it's all so sincere and uncanny, and somehow becomes great.

There are a million plot threads, and they make it work. There's the love story of Sherrie and Drew, their individually degrading and triumphant trajectories towards fame. There's the fate of the Bourbon Room, which depends on Stacee Jaxx showing up sober but can't be prepared for the scumminess of his manager. There's the Rolling Stone reporter who tries to make Jaxx admit he’s a sellout, only to be dragged into the vortex of his sex-god magnetism. There is the arrival of the boy band unto the earth. Let us not forget Mary J. Blige's turn as a benevolent strip club owner. I am truly astonished that they got all of this stuff to mesh together, even knowing that they did it through abuse of the consciousness-distorting power of mashups. So many mashups. So much Journey.

The Church Ladies' clean-up-the-Strip plot is played very camp, as if they are training for some terrible future world without John Waters in it. Please never leave us, John Waters. But if you must, know that the spirit of camp will live on in Bryan Cranston getting spanked in a vestibule while Catherine Zeta-Jones leads a rendition of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" while eye-hate-fucking a huge portrait of Stacee Jaxx in a devil’s-head codpiece.

Netflix Arranger Pattern Matching: Bryan Cranston, way more restrained than in Total Recall. He doesn't sing anything, which is an utter tragedy. Russel Brand, sort of.

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May 16th, 2014
10:35 pm

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Ten movies
I don't do memes, generally, it feels inappropriate. But this one I can actually do without erupting into shame-fire.


Anyone who feels like it should post their ten most CRUCIAL CRUCIAL CRUCIAL-ASS movies, like the movies that explain everything about yourselves in your current incarnations (not necessarily your ten favorite movies but the ten movies that you, as a person existing currently, feel would help people get to know you) (they can change later on obviously).

The Falls (Greenaway) (transformation, absurdity)
Fay Grim (belief) (I'm cheating here because you also need to watch Henry Fool)
Josie and the Pussycats (joy, holy fools)
Brazil (horror, resistance, irony)
Winged Migration (beauty, loneliness)
Orlando (fuck you, gender)
Bubba Ho-Tep (bravura in the face of grief)
Twilight of the Ice Nymphs (overwhelming visual saturation, Et in Arcadia ego)
The Saddest Music in the World (adaptation failure)
Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (I love exploitation flicks with a dirty, filthy love, and this is the grandfather)

If there is one film in here that is truly indispensable, it's The Falls, a docu-parody of humans becoming something strange, and getting on with life.

I can't explain or justify my Guy Maddin thing, he just has a wire into my early mammal brain.

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May 12th, 2014
01:03 pm

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Mystery DVD #241
Howard the Duck
In this uncommon sci-fi comedy produced by George Lucas, a cigar-chomping extraterrestrial named Howard (voiced by Chip Zien) is accidentally beamed to Earth by a physicist (Jeffrey Jones) and his assistant (Tim Robbins), only to find love with a pretty punk-rock singer (Lea Thompson). The couple's happiness is threatened, however, when government officials and a nasty space thug come looking for Howard.

This just made me sad, it was so awful. I expected bad, but I thought it would be bad in a fun way, that I could get behind. I feel pretty bad about this! I wish I had read any Howard the Duck comics -- all I know is that he comes from Marvel's weird 1970s Man-Thing provinces, a cranky urban Pogo. Knowing the source material would probably just make me angrier.

Howard lives alone in Marshington, D.C., on an alternate version of Earth where people are three-foot tall, flightless ducks, but everything else is basically the same, except with hideous bird puns. Also ducks have boobs, why do the ducks have boobs. He seems like a popular guy, his answering machine is full of lady ducks who want to hang out, yet he is kind of a cranky sad sack. He's watching TV when a mysterious ray blasts through the wall and drags Howard and his easy chair across the universe, where he lands in Cleveland, and it's raining and everything's terrible and generally he's having a bad day. He and a young woman mutually rescue one another from sleazy dudes, and she takes him home and introduces herself as Beverly (Lea Thompson), lead singer of a struggling punk band. The two have a remarkably normal getting-to-know-you conversation and Beverly agrees to help him find his way home.

I'm boring myself talking about this. Way too many things happen in this movie yet it's paradoxically more boring for it. Anyway they go to Bev's friend Phil, a lab assistant at a science museum, who flips out all offer the place, like you do when you meet an alien, and offends Howard's dignity to the point that he tells everyone off and insists he'll make it on his own. I have to say, I do respect a protagonist who demands to be treated as a person under the shittiest of circumstances, even being in a terrible comic book movie. Howard goes to the local employment agency, where his case worker thinks he's wearing a duck suit to mess with her, and vindictively gets him a job at a sex club. He doesn't last long, what with the crankiness and insistence on dignity. Wandering the mean streets of Cleveland with duck season just beginning, things look bleak. Discovering that Beverly's manager has been ripping the band off, Howard beats him up with Quack-Fu and threats of Space Rabies, and takes over. Reconciled, they go back to her place and play the interspecies heterosexual equivalent of Gay Chicken, going so far as to switch to a silhouette view. Beverly is seriously into getting all up on Howard's creepy plastic face, but just as I was reaching for the melon baller they are interrupted by Phil and actual scientists, who think they know how to send Howard home. A Dr. Jenning runs a deep space probe that apparently is also a teleporter which yanked Howard all over the universe, so they try to recalibrate it to send him back, but instead it summons a space demon into Jenning's body and then explodes.

Bev, Phil and Howard are now on the run from the police, while Jenning slowly develops demonic powers, declares himself a Dark Overlord, and kidnaps Bev to go summon more of his kind, and I just can't go on, I don't know how they made a film with so much stuff going on in it and managed to be so... dull, weird and off-putting. Scenes that, when described, sound like they should be funny or exciting, are drawn-out and uncomfortable or just nonsensical. There's an endless sequence with Howard and Phil trying to escape the police by stealing an ultralight plane, and Howard's trying to fly it because Phil is in handcuffs, and they can barely get off the ground and they're just barely missing all these signs and trucks and bodies of water and actual duck hunters, and the chase looks incredibly dangerous and it must have been very challenging to make, but damn if it wouldn't have been better half as long. Howard and Phil just shriek at each other and almost fly into trucks forever.

Meanwhile the Dark Overlord steals a truck and gets the probe dealie operational again and Howard arrives just in time to fight him with a sort of laser zamboni. Doesn't that sound like something you'd like to see? Talking duck fighting a raging crab-monster on a laser zamboni while Lea Thompson writhes on a gurney? That sounds awesome! But they made it suck, and I can't forgive them.

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May 7th, 2014
08:09 pm

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Mystery DVD #240
Illegal Aliens

Anna Nicole Smith stars in this campy sci-fi satire about three morphed aliens on a mission to save Earth from intergalactic forces of evil. Led by Syntax, their holographic mentor, the extraterrestrial bombshell beauties -- Luce (Smith), Cameron (Lenise Sorén) and Drew (Gladys Jiminez) -- will face any challenge to save planet Earth. Joanie Lauer (aka WWF's "Chyna") also stars. This is Smith's final film.

Wow, I just want to unpack that blurb a little bit. First of all, they describe the mission twice, as if they couldn't write the blurb all in one sitting and also they couldn't bear to reread it afterwards. Just keep your eyes front, blurb-writer, one foot in front of the other. It'll all be over soon. Then, that morbid little "This is Smith's final film" -- Anna Nicole Smith died of a prescription drug overdose three months before the film's release. The show must go on. Were they still editing? That makes her character even creepier.

You know you're in for something really special when the filmmakers think they need to describe the premise of the movie with an opening cartoon. We are back in Blonde and Blonder territory, and there are no half-naked Canadian ninjas to give us succor. Three alien cops, or two alien cops and their weird, childlike support person, are assigned to Earth to protect the innocent primitive from space criminals. They are normally sort of psychic jellyfish things but they manifest as women from a crumpled up porn magazine they stumble across, because as the cartoon teaches us, "hot chicks have it so easy." The Illegal Aliens, that is their official team name, land in New York because it's always night in New York and all alien landings have to happen at night, that's just science. They move to Hollywood because it's always day in Hollywood, I guess? Cameron and Drew take jobs as stunt coordinators as their human cover. Lucy is sort of their pet, because she has to be told how to pee and wear clothes on a daily basis, and also their vehicle, because she has the power to turn into objects, also has a reality show, because why not.

Rex monologuing
Thank goodness.

The Illegal Aliens are just living life and enjoying corporeality when their hologram boss tells them to investigate a series of thefts that look like someone is assembling an unearthly-tech-level weapon. Indeed, another alien has crashed into the same NYC alley, and this one manifests as an awesome wrestling lady who is fantastic, because she knows she's in a really silly movie and overacts her giant, badass heart out. Who knows what life was like for this character before getting her body hijacked by an escaped space criminal? We can never know. Anyway her name is Rex now and she wants to destroy the Earth so that the alien jellyfish planet can take over its orbit because its sun is dying, and then they'll all say she's a hero. She and her gang of thugs have this thing almost set up to pull the Moon into the Earth, and the Illegal Aliens prevent her from getting the last component, in a continent-spanning battle involving bus chases, car chases, forks in a microwave, randomly chilling out at home and going on dates in the middle of it, dogged immigration officers, and repeated use of Anna Nicole Smith as a vehicle with a bounty of visual puns to delight children too young to see this anyway.

WTF were they going for with Anna Nicole Smith's character? She's too stupid to function, whole scenes are built around her goofing around with a vibrator or farting or peeing really loudly, or just bouncing around giggling at shiny objects. And she pulls this duck face that hurts to look at on a sympathetic and aesthetic level. I was deeply embarrassed for her and at the same time really irritated by all of the calculated-to-irritate stuff she was doing, so good job on that, I guess. There comes a point where the movie starts getting meta and Smith breaks character to complain that the latest humiliation goes too far, and that the scene makes no sense anyway, and the director has to talk her back into it. I don't know if they planned from the beginning to start pointing the camera back at themselves or if they decided halfway through that they had to. As if they'd made fun of everything they'd planned on making fun of already, and they knew they hadn't generated actual fun yet? Satirical auto-cannibalization.

Denied her last chunk of plot device, Rex kidnaps the inventor and Lucy and forces the latter to transform into a replacement for it, and the former to operate it. The moon starts crashing into the Earth! There's a big chaotic fight scene with stop-motion bugs and the army shows up and instead of showing Drew kicking all of the henchmens' asses, they just have Rex laughing at their pain over the radio, which is an amusing way to avoid choreographing a dramatic fight scene. Then they just sort of give up finishing the movie, show a bunch of stock footage of explosions, and everyone walks off the set, relieved that it's over.

Aside from Joanie Lauer's awesomeness as the villain, all one could say in Illegal Aliens' defense is that it's a really broad parody that is honest about the the type of thing that it is, and if you're still watching after the first ten minutes, you've made your choices. It's a bunch of verbal and visual jokes that don't necessarily make a lot of sense, but the writer and director thought they would be funny, and sometimes they're actually right! I did laugh out loud several times. I just also felt really confused and creeped out and disgusted a lot of times as well. But then in the credits, they went to every single member of the cast and crew, down to the best boy and the craft services guys, and they smile and wave, and I couldn't stay mad. They wanted camp and they certainly achieved camp. The best boy wraps himself in cellophane, and I don't know why, but I found it endearing, I guess we were all punchy by that point.

Netflix Arranger Pattern Matching: I guess it's alien invasion month.

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May 4th, 2014
10:05 am

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Mystery DVD #239
Attack the Block

When aliens attack a South London neighborhood, a teen gang pulls together to protect their turf by any means necessary. But extraterrestrials prove far more formidable than anyone they ever jumped on the streets.

Aliens crash in a crappy neighborhood on Guy Fawkes Night and interrupt a gang of five kids mugging a nurse. The kids' leader, Moses, kills a small furry monster, and then everyone's night goes all to hell, as bigger, nastier monsters pursue the gang wherever they go, and not all of them are aliens. Moses specifically is repeatedly waylaid by the police, and honestly he has that coming, what with the actual specific crime-doing, and also the local drug dealer over a very stubborn misunderstanding. The kids and their erstwhile victim get chased all over their apartment block and struggle to defend themselves.

The monsters are fluffy, muppety bear-dog-ape sort of things with rows of glowing teeth and light-eating black fur, and even through they bite the faces right off of several people, some of them quite nice, I never stopped wanting to hug them. They looked so soft.

It's good! It's stylish, and the pacing and the sense of this-is-a-real-place is very solid, and every single character with more than one line of dialogue is interesting and easy to care about. Or hate, as the case may be -- there's only really one guy I wanted to see get chomped up, and he got a thorough, lingering chomping.

It's also extremely British, and I think they just didn't worry themselves about random Britishism-illiterate Americans like myself, which is fine. I just felt like there was a lot of characterization detail that went over my head. Like I was supposed to know more about the kids and the Block, I guess. I feel a little weird about sympathizing completely with these kids who, in the first five minutes, threaten a nurse with a knife and then kill a random muppety thing who never tried to personally crash into them or anything, but here we are. Moses especially -- the other gang members get these snippets of characterization early on, but you don't know anything about Moses for most of the movie, except that he's trying hard to be a big man, and he's protective of his gang. I shouldn't like this kid, but I do. Maybe just because the movie told me to like him, I don't know.

The Blu-ray disc includes a featurette on the special effects, which is super endearing, and focuses mainly on the guys actually in fluffy suits with servo-driven faces galloping around after the actors. It was below freezing when they shot the film, so there are all these interviews with the actors shivering violently while waiting for the motion artists to do their scene, and then the monster stands up and takes his head off and a cloud of steam pours off the guy inside. Looked fun. No one randomly hugging on the monsters though, I guess it's just me.

Netflix Arranger Pattern Matching: Nick Frost as an affable pot grower/temporary shelter-provider. Kind of stars a building, like The Raid: Redemption

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April 8th, 2014
09:02 pm

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Mystery DVD #238
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

I think there was a mistake; the Arranger sent me this one not so long ago, and I reviewed it here. Er, in 2012? Feels like yesterday.

I thought, well, did I miss something? what else is on the DVD? Not a lot, as it turns out. There are a few interviews, and a cut of the movie from the kids' point of view. I tried to watch it again with the commentary on, but I just couldn't sit still for it. Media's hard for me sometimes, I can't always handle feeling feelings. Without the Netflix Arranger's dire power to compel me with their whimsy, I'd never see anything. I go to a movie that they don't assign, like, once a year*. But DVD commentary, no, can't do it, can't listen to a conversation I can't see, it hurts the privacy part of my brain. Dunno what I'm rambling about. I was just surprised at how much resistance I had to rewatching a movie I had actually enjoyed.

So, that all threw my momentum off, and whatever experiment the Arranger was performing, I guess I botched it. Sorry, back to our regularly scheduled critical atrocities this week.

*Only Lovers Left Alive is out this week, you guys. Please understand that I am very highly motivated by Tilda Swinton, and I probably still won't manage to see it.

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March 21st, 2014
11:32 am

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Mystery DVD #237
Cabin Boy

Produced by Tim Burton, this slapstick sea voyage stars Chris Elliott as Nathaniel Mayweather, a pampered rich kid who, due to a mix-up, ends up on a rusty old bucket instead of the luxury liner he was supposed to take to Hawaii.

Nathaniel Mayweather, heir to a hotel fortune, graduates from an absurdly exclusive prep school, earning the title Fancy Lad. He is an insufferable jackass to everyone around him, from fellow students to the headmaster, and gets away with it because his father can have their families killed, probably. Minutes into Nathaniel's first contact with the real world, the driver of the limousine meant to take him to a cruise ship bound for Hawaii gets fed up with his abuse and strands him on the highway. N-bag stumbles to a fishing village, where a friendly-seeming monkey salesman (David Letterman) convinces him that a grotty fishing boat is his cruise ship, and he goes along with this fiction for a surprisingly long time, long enough for the drunken crew to return and head well out to sea with him before anyone notices. The fishermen have no use for N's pleas to take him to Hawaii, so he convinces the sweet but dumb cabin boy, Kenny (Andy Richter) to change course in the middle of the night. This takes them into a haunted patch of ocean called Hell's Bucket, and a storm washes Kenny overboard. Everyone spends like a quarter of a second feeling bad about this, and then obviously Nathaniel has to be the cabin boy, taking on both Kenny's duties and his ration of gratuitous abuse.

After that the boat goes on some magical adventures, encountering superhuman swim champions and helpful witches with possessive husbands. The sailors repeatedly try to get Nathaniel killed by exposure or monsters, but he keeps getting rescued by a charming half-Viking/half-shark monster (a startlingly good (considering) special effect with the torso of Russ Tamblyn). Eventually his unkillability endears Nathaniel to the fishermen, enough to get them all to Hawaii, but Nathaniel can no longer wear his Fancy Lad wig with the pride it once gave him.

It's like Lars von Trier made an episode of Ren and Stimpy. No one is likable -- barely anyone is even standable, they're all cartoonishly revolting jerks. This is a self-conscious movie, trying for wacky, trying to wink at its own dependence on tropes, and you can get away with that with the right attitude. I love joyously bad movies. But this one is meanly bad, spitefully bad. There's no one to be on the side of, to care about. Brief encounters with weird monsters are breaths of relief, because they don't have to reveal themselves to be terrible people like all of the human characters are. And it's not like a jerkass character can't carry a movie either, if they're entertaining. Try to tell me Ferris Bueller isn't an insufferable prick. On top of no one being worth the attention it takes to call them an asshole, most of the insults they lay on Nathaniel are irritatingly misogynist. Why riff elaborately on him being a useless dipshit who thinks he shits flowers, because that's actually true, when you can just call him a girl over and over?

Netflix Arranger Pattern Matching: Tim Burton is involved, as is my feeling of remorse for shooting this fish that is someone's favorite in their whole barrel, sorry. You're still a good person, Chris Elliott fan.

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March 15th, 2014
10:50 am

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Mystery DVD #236
Dark Shadows

Tim Burton’s take on the cult gothic soap follows a centuries-old vampire as he returns to his now-crumbling estate to meet his modern descendants. But what he finds is a house full of secrets and shadows.

Johnny Depp plays Barnabas, scion of the wealthy Collins family of Maine by way of Liverpool. in the 18th century, he spurns the affections of a witch (played with eye popping lunacy by Eva Green), who murders his true love, curses him with vampirism and otherwise is jerky towards his family forever. Buried in an iron box by an angry mob, he is accidentally dug up by construction workers, and finds his way home to meet the remnants of the Collins family, their in-house psychiatrist, and the new governess Victoria (Bella Heathcote), with whom he is instantly smitten. Oh, the witch is still around and is still an entire butthole. Soapy!

I’ve never seen any of the original show, but from what I’ve been able to gather, the 2012 version is a faithful, loving homage. It’s also an homage to the 1970s, what with the awakened Barnabas having to react to T-Rex and Superfly and hippies and Love Story by Erich Segal. A large fraction of the charm of this movie comes from various 70s slang bouncing off an eighteenth-century vampire’s head without him ever losing his strange daffy hauteur.

I liked it! It’s really silly, but it’s got that weird hyper-sincerity of camp going for it. The Tim Burton/Johnny Depp camp combo is unstoppable. Barnabas has a room-destroying sex scene with that is the most perfectly Tim Burtoney sex scene imaginable, it’s like glimpsing the Platonic form of comedy monster sex. Go home everyone, there will never be sillier yet so appropriate comedy monster sex. And that is before Alice Cooper turns up. On the downside, the story isn’t very strong. In particular, Barnabas’ infatuation with Victoria is just plunked down, without any development and with basically no intervention on her part except to eventually return his affection, for some reason. I’m not saying Barnabas was not a dude one could get bothered about, but maybe… show the bothering, a little?

Helena Bonham-Carter is the sketchy psychiatrist. Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins is the stony pillar of serious in the heaving maelstrom of cheese swirling around her.

Netflix Arranger Pattern Matching: Vampire! Use of dominate person. Written by Seth Graeme-Smith, also responsible for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

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March 8th, 2014
10:13 am

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Mystery DVD #235
Night of the Comet
Earth has been ripped to shreds after a run-in with a killer comet, and those who have survived are in a fight for their lives in this campy cult classic. Valley girl Reg (Catherine Mary Stewart) and her sister (Kelli Maroney) discover they’re two of the lucky few. But scientists are after them, and now they must run. Why? Because the researchers believe they need the blood of survivors to concoct a drug that can save them all from further ruin.

I think it's this Netflix blurb writer's first week on the job, this is the most enthusiastic one I've seen. I wonder how long it took for their soul to be crushed utterly.

"Earth has been ripped to shreds" is putting it a little strongly-- I think the movie is a little anxious about the audience taking the disaster-comet seriously. A very dramatic narrator implies that it destroyed the dinosaurs and is so sinister that it's timed perfectly to RUIN CHRISTMAS. He is never heard from again.

Catherine Mary Stewart played the Last Starfighter's girlfriend! It is very easy to watch Night of the Comet as if that relationship went south shortly after they left Earth, and she's back in California as an embittered usher at a seedy Los Angeles movie theater. The Starfighters are all dead (again), and the comet is a doomsday weapon launched by the Kodan Armada. It all makes so much sense. Not like they told us her backstory in Starfighter.

So, stunningly cheesy narrator intro, then we meet Regina playing Tempest at the theater, and quick character sketches of her boyfriend and her family, and then the comet comes and most of the world goes outside to watch it, because comet, and get turned to dust. Whoops. Everyone who is partially exposed slowly turns into a zombie. Regina, her sister Sam, and a friendly trucker named Hector (Robert Beltran (Commander Chakotay)) are protected from this fate because they all spend the night in steel structures. Just go with it. Reg is an army brat, so she is all beating up zombies and gathering weapons and rescuing sisters and taking over radio stations. Electricity is still on everywhere, just go with it. Scientists in an underground bunker pick up their signal and come looking for them, because they are hilariously terrible people.

Actually, everyone's kind of an awful person, to the point that I thought they were doing a Rapture thing, with all of the people vanishing and leaving their clothes behind. Hector seems nice. He drives to San Diego to check on his mother, and she's gone of course, but he can't bring himself to shoot a zombie kid. There's a cute reversal of expectations when one of the scientists, who gets tagged 'villain' because she keeps disagreeing with all of the others, turns out to be the only non-evil one. There are several fight scenes that only make any sense because some or all of the parties are wacked out on comet gas.

On the one hand, Night of the Comet is very silly and low-budget-looking, but... it's likable. Cheesy monster movies can have pleasant deviations from the formula that you don’t get in a bigger production. The stories are often way more complicated than they have to be, and it actually works in this one. Doomed characters are nevertheless characterized. The action hero is an 18-year-old girl! Who knows self-defense and how to use guns, for a plausible reason! She is unapologetic about being sexually active! The male lead is nurturing and crappy at violence! This was out in 1984, you guys. Also, it's kind of fun watching everyone, even the non-infected survivors, slowly become cheerfully unhinged, playing house in an empty, yet still inexplicably electrified, Los Angeles. Eighties hair is maintained at all costs.

Netflix Arranger Pattern Matching: Cathy M-Stew, reverence towards classic vector-based video games. Passes the Bechdel test.

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February 28th, 2014
12:21 pm

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Mystery DVD #234
Katy Perry: Part of Me
Pop star Katy Perry is captured on and offstage in this revealing diary of her California Dreams Tour, featuring her Los Angeles performances. The film shares the air of glamour and fun that radiates from this talented and unique artist.
Shares the air. That's quite a turn of phrase. This starts off creepily worshipful. It opens with fans, making these very sincere phone-camera and web-cam confessionals about how Katy Perry taught them that it's okay to just be themselves and do their own thing, and that sounds lovely and everything, but... worshipful. Bit creepy. But then we see Katy Perry working with her stylist on the costumes for the tour, and the credits aren't even over, when she hollers, "HOW COULD YOU EVER BE TOO CARTOONEY?" and I think to myself "well, that does it, I'm in the tank for Katy Perry now, I must follow her on this quest for the ultimate cartooneyness, come what may."

And so we do. She is gloriously, magically cartooney onstage. Many physics-defying costume changes. Offstage, she seems sweet and goofy and human. She puts in a lot of energy connecting with her fans, and rewards their loyalty and enthusiasm by dancing with them on stage, and hosing them down with a giant confetti gun. (I really wish I could make a gif of the confetti gun action, but, Blu-Ray. I'm probably committing some kind of intellectual property crime just describing what I saw.) The tour is a grueling worldwide adventure, and as we watch our heroine slowly burn down to a still-smiling stub of her original bouncy self, we also get the story of her similarly-grueling journey from obscurity to sudden, blinding, pop superstardom. Lots of people helped but I don't doubt that she deserves everything she's achieved -- because this movie will just not leave any room for doubt.

She seems nice! I mean, she seems really great. I mean it. But this docu-concert-bio-something is so highly produced that I feel like I can't trust anything about it! Like they are so loudly and desperately telling me how wonderful Katy Perry is that I got suspicious of my own opinion, which was positive before I saw any of this. When my entire knowledge of Katy Perry was based on the video for "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" and she seemed really fun and nice.

The Blu-Ray version is gorgeous. You might as well be there, for the concert bits. Also: good way to get "Last Friday Night" stuck in your head for a week. Which could be helpful if you need to conceal your thoughts from a malevolent telepath or something.

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