So I have some more work to account for. Also, I have some penance to do for not trying very hard in the face of difficulty.
- The Butterfly (Le Papillon): Overly sentimental French film from about ten years ago. Some choice moments between a repressed elderly man and a lower-class child he embarks on an unlikely road trip with. Best exchanges were when one or the other was saying inappropriate things for their age and the other character was left to fumble for a response.
- Mad Men: I’m pacing myself through s3. They seem to have begun a new way to close each episode: they finish up with something dreamlike or a conversation that would sum up a theme in a roundabout way – and then cut to a truncated scene with trivial dialogue before rolling closing credits. What is up with that? Just keeping us on our toes?
- An X-Men cartoon: I apparently tried to watch this before, forgot about it, and tried to watch it again. Most cartoons are for kids. This was not an exception.
- The Stand: I recalled this Stephen King mini-series far more fondly than I re-experienced it. It feels cheap and badly dated for the nineties. I enjoyed Laura San Giacomo as the conflicted damned soul and Rob Lowe as the selfless deaf mute. That last one had to have been a stretch. I wanted more of society collapsing and less silliness concluding with the literal Hand of God saving the day.
- Face/Off: I have already discussed my failure in completing this assignment. Abandoned at about the 15:00 mark.
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: I quit after three minutes. This was in the middle of my impatience phase. I promise to go back. I saw this in its original run at the theater, though I believe I was bored then as well.
- Ghost Fever: Sherman Hemsley passed and I attempted to pay my private respects by watching this eighties show about him as a cop chasing ghosts. I fled after ten minutes.
- Creepshow 2: More Stephen King disappointment. I love the original Creepshow and feared this one for good reason. It’s cheap, poorly written, and juvenile, perhaps purposefully, save for all the gore and tits. Still, the gore and tits were most effective in the second installment about potsmoking youths looking for a good time in an off-season lake and finding a very bad time. I cop to liking that installment. I had to resort to housework for the other two parts to push myself through.
- The Man Who Fell to Earth: Well, I have never been a big fan of Nicolas Roeg, and this was really a slog for me to finish, but I’m glad I finally checked it off my list. Kudos for the director for managing to get cock shots from David Bowie, Bernie Casey, and Rip Torn! But even I need more than that, and the rest was mostly repetitive and overly indulgent. Maybe the biggest disappointment of the month.
- A Town Called Panic: More unfinished business. Too frenzied for me. Sorry, Mr. Lousy.
- Slacker: Dismissed after fifteen minutes! I really love Tom Linklater, but not here! I had always heard this was fantastic and a harbinger of greater things to come. I found it extremely uneven and even more unfunny. It smelled like British comedy to me. We know how I feel about that.
- Planet of the Vampires: I watched this one from a commenter’s suggestion. It was indeed better than Queen of Blood, but I maintain the latter is more suggestive of Alien. Also, the ending had a wonderful twist that Raúl had not seen coming! Go Mario Bava!
- The Group: I watched this twice! Once alone and once with company. It’s slow and all over the place, but fuck is it good. Sidney Lumet knows how to work with actors even when he is making a mediocre adaptation of a Mary McCarthy novel. Attention: Jessica Walter is here, as is a gorgeous Candace Bergen and some lesser known actresses who give great performances. Also, Larry Hagman is on hand as a cad. My first viewing foretold his passing. The second was a sort of tribute. He and Candace Bergen’s closing scene is loaded and years ahead of its time.
- Guys and Balls: I watched this as a gay feel-good movie as counter-effect to Making the Boys, about the making of the play/movie, The Boys in the Band. Almost everyone in it died from AIDS in the eighties and I felt despondent, strangely guilty, and in need of a ray of sunshine. This German film about a gay soccer team fit the bill. It was highly formulaic and irritatingly optimistic. In short, it wasn’t very good but I needed the comfort. Mr. Lousy knows how that goes.
A not-as-brief-as-I’d-like rundown of my Netflix streaming. Note: Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime almost merit their own summaries.
- Deep Impact: This has not made much of an impact. I’ve been on this one for two weeks and still have almost an hour to go. I just don’t care about anyone in the movie and the apocalypse preparations are more tiresome than timely.
- Theremin: Holy fuck this documentary was a surprise. I had no idea how the theremin originated, nor what kind of fantastical life its creator led. There is a Cold War/Soviet Union twist to this story that baffles the mind. Plus, Theremin himself maintains his enigmatic self straight through to the end.
- The Walking Dead: I am closing in on the halfway mark of the second season. I have to be in the mood for dread, which is really all I get from the series, so I haven’t plowed through it like I have with other cable shows that I’m a late arrival to. This is a good thing.
- The Sarah Silverman Program: I’m still in s1. I’ve watched scattered episodes before, so some are being re-experienced, though I don’t think viewing them in the context of the whole series makes any difference. It’s funny but a little too mean for me. I appreciate the songs.
- Louie: I enjoy it, but not nearly as much as I’m supposed to. Louie feels a little too mean as well, though his meanness sometimes gets directed toward a showcase of Louis C.K.’s own self-assessed patheticness.
- Wilfred: What’s with all the mean-spirited comedies that I’m watching one after the other? This one is probably on the chopping block. I tire quickly of mean best friends and people who put up with them, even if the best friend is an Australian comedian in a dog outfit.
- The Brother from Another Planet: This one I’m enjoying far more than I did The Man Who Fell to Earth (slog!), though I have to watch both slow-moving films in installments. I’m about midway through this John Sayles film.
- Black Widow: I saw this in the eighties and didn’t remember much. Why?!? It’s really a terrific film about female drive, envy, friendship, and multi-layered betrayal. Theresa Russell never really impressed me, but I like her here a lot, sort of a mash-up of Kathleen Turner with a shade of Shirley MacLaine. She jumps from sophisticated socialite to Southern new money to Malibu Barbie™ with each new conquest/prey, with an undercurrent of single-minded ambition. How can ruthlessness and regret stand so closely? And Debra Winger – this is one of her best roles. The character and the actress are perfect complements to the Black Widow, Theresa Russell. Bob Rafelson managed to make a fantastic film noir in the middle of the eighties! This isn’t as good as his Body Heat from 1981, but what is? This came as a rare pleasant surprise in my revisiting old movies. I would absolutely put the scene of Theresa Russell swimming nude in a pool and extending her hand out like the poisonous reach of a jellyfish into my top ten femme fatale moments. And I have a lot of femme fatale moments!
- The End: Burt Reynolds stars and directs. I also saw this one decades ago, though maybe not in its entirety. A few things stood out in my adult viewing. One, Burt Reynolds really is a good comic actor, and he really knows how to share with other actors on the screen. Two, the pacing is way off, with some comedic scenes stretching twice as long as they should. Three, some of the unfunny segments are also shockingly racist, particularly one with a Mexican “beaner.” While not wincing, I did enjoy all the co-stars. I am making a mental note of discussing this further.
- Moog: This doc on the Moog synthesizer is boring the fucking daylights out of me, and I’m not even to the thirty-minute mark, meaning that this is in contention for a spot on Raúl Cries Uncle, as in I may not force myself to finish it. The clever, winking opening credits gave me such hope for a contemporary look at a beloved artifact, but Robert Moog himself cannot hold the screen for more than ten seconds before he turns into one of the more unpleasant drones that his creation has the capability of making . He’s like my industrial ed teacher whose lack of presentation actually gave birth to a lack of interest in how things work. Moog and my industrial ed teacher were good at making things, but not inspiring the casual listener. Note: Moog is actually more engaging discussing Theremin!
- Reel Injun: I am about a third into this documentary about representation of American Indians in American cinema, and am becoming more engrossed as I go. I can’t tell if this is arranged chronologically or by theme. I’m hoping for TV to get some time alongside films.
- Equilibrium: I stopped after about three minutes with a brainless shoot-em-up opening that made me think I’d fallen upon a lost eighties action movie, not the smarter sci-fi Michael Fassbender film that I’d banked on. It’s in the endangered pile.
- Nikita: I’m halfway through a rocky s2, but the midpoint seems to have picked up by changing the game and introducing some new though predictable alliances. Eps 12 and 13 have nearly made up for the bad season (shoot-em-up scenes ad nauseam that may have cut short my patience for Equilibrium) thus far, though I’m still pining for last season. I have hope. Mr. Lousy, you should give this one a go once you’ve run your course with Alias.
- Archer: Now this is a spy show that knows what it’s doing! Thank you again, Mr. Lousy, for steering me here!
Phelps’ athletic achievements make strange bedfellows with his well-publicized history of marijuana use.
So Michael Phelps is retiring as the most decorated and over-exposed athlete in Read the rest of this entry »
Matthew Mitcham exposes the insole from the Australian uniform footwear. He always brings something unique – even to a uniform.
Though his generation is guilty of turning the ukelele into a hipster accoutrement that has transgressed the line of cute and simple into unbearable and overdone, especially in ostensibly sincere but more accurately cloying covers, Matthew Mitcham has once again beaten the odds and made the instrument fleetingly fun.
He first beat the odds first four years ago in Beijing when he knocked off China’s two top divers in the final round of dives to win the gold medal in Read the rest of this entry »
OK, I loved it.
Read no further if you wish to be surprised by Mark’s final bridal decision.
I had some qualms with the series by its mid-point, but after re-watching those episodes with my brother, I became less bothered by the easy jokes and more enamored of the dead-on lampooning of reality television, a phenomenon that I wholeheartedly despise.
I have read that director/star Ken Marino and his wife, writer Erica Oyama, are actually fans Read the rest of this entry »