As some readers might recall, I have been without a television for many months, now. A year, actually. As some other readers may have surmised, this has been quite a hardship on my psyche. Traditionally and since I was but a wee child, I have watched much, much television. I blogged about it frequently. I had distinct opinions about the relationship between Audrina and Justin Bobby. I had many a conversation by the water cooler about who should be America’s Next Top Model. Therefore, the lack of boob tube activity in the ikss-household has been rather distressing.
I have discovered Hulu, which has kept me supplied with the latest episodes of 30 Rock and Modern Family and also introduced me this year to the absurdly funny and oddly touching Raising Hope (bringing back to the airwaves the delightful Martha Plimpton, whose work I grew up with and who looks crazy good—far better than she did when we were teens). Hulu can be unreliable, however, as has been proven in the cases of Top Chef and all of the Real Housewives shows. They don’t always show all of the episodes and/or might show them out of order.
I can watch The Amazing Race on the CBS website, thank God. I am waiting for the latest season of some shows—Nurse Jackie, Hung, True Blood—to come out on DVD. This does not make me happy, but such is the life of the Unemployed Bum.
The Old Man has Apple TV and, as such, can purchase television shows if we deem them worth the investment. We therefore purchased one of our favorites—Rescue Me—and watched it right along with the rest of you normal people with regular televisions did. Frankly, I was disappointed in this past season, but that is not what this blog entry is about.
Though, were I honest, I would admit that I sort of lost track of the direction of this blog entry like two paragraphs ago.
All evidence to the contrary and good-natured whining aside, I actually don’t miss my television very much at all. When I spend the night elsewhere and have the opportunity to watch it, I rarely even find something worth the watching. Though the lack of television does offer me a lot of time for reading, I would love to say I’ve developed a new hobby, have devoted extra time to volunteering or have had the time to finish writing not one but two novels. None of these things are true. The truth is, I just use Netflix a lot more now than I used to.
Let’s peruse my recent Netflix activity, shall we?
About a week ago, the Old Man & I watched The Oxford Murders. His choice, perhaps needless to say. I didn’t care for this movie much at all. Here is its synopsis, courtesy of the Netflix web site:
After Oxford logic professor Arthur Seldom (John Hurt) and his new graduate student Martin (Elijah Wood) discover a dead woman, they get involved in trying to solve a string of homicides in which the killer marked each victim's body with cryptic mathematical symbols. As the stakes get higher, Martin's grasp on reality becomes increasingly tenuous in this thriller based on the award-winning novel by writer and mathematician Guillermo Martinez.
Is that what was happening? Honestly, I barely recall the plot points. It was dumb.
Paranormal Activity. OMG. Oh my God. Oh. My. GOD. I LOVED this movie. I’ve been waiting for friggin’ ages to see it (and has anybody noticed that although it is available for purchase on DVD, it hasn’t been available for rent anywhere?). It was scary. It seemed very real (I assume because it’s all filmed on one guy’s video camera). It is not at all gory and much of what scares you is suggested, allowing your mind to create the thrills for you (which, to me, is always far scarier than showing us everything). If you are a scary movie fan, I highly recommend it.
Much ballyhoo has been made about the existence of two alternate endings for this movie. I saw the original, “police” ending, as well as the one which made it onto the final cut, of course (which was apparently suggested by Steven Spielberg once the film was bought by Paramount for distribution). I like the final cut version better. It’s a tad more “Hollywood” than the original, but it’s better acted and paced and it’s far scarier as a result. As the third, “throat slitting” ending is not available online, I have yet to see it. It sounds fairly horrific.
Can't wait to see PR2.
Later the same day I watched something called Paranormal Entity which basically ripped off a lot of Paranormal Activity—mainly in its filmmaking style, with the handheld video cameras, but also somewhat in the storyline—and, I assume, hoped that with the similar names people would confuse the two movies and accidentally give Paranormal Entity their film-going dollars. I would not suggest doing so. This movie has some scares, but overall it’s pretty bad—bad story, bad writing, really bad acting. It does have a bit more blood than the original, so if you can’t handle your horror movies without a little gore, you might want to opt for this one.
Oh, then I watched a few episodes of 30 Rock’s first season, because I had never seen them before. I didn’t start watching 30 Rock until the second season. Because I am late to every party, you know.
Some Folks Call it a Sling Blade. So apparently, Billy Bob Thornton made a short film of this guy being interviewed by a reporter in a mental hospital, directly prior to being released from said hospital. “This guy” is the main character from the later film, which would be called Sling Blade. I loved that movie so I decided to watch this black and white short. Molly Ringwald plays the reporter. J.T. Walsh plays another mental patient, who regales Billy Bob with tales of strange and violent sexual escapades he may or may not have actually had. It’s an interesting film, mainly due to Bill Bob’s performance, but I don’t know why it would be so to anyone who isn’t already a fan of the original.
The Crazies (the 2010 version). A fine, fine horror film. Well scripted, well acted, with a Big Bad Government Fuck Up and Cover Up and who doesn’t like those? You know, in our movies.
I think I’d seen this movie before. That or I’ve seen so many clips that it seemed like I’d seen it before. Anyway, I enjoyed it. It was scary, it was a little gross. The characters were smart. They didn’t do stupid things and they didn’t annoy me with their lack of logical decision-making skills. I really enjoy it when horror movies don’t underestimate and insult their audiences.
Little Ashes. This was not a widely-popular film, so for those of you who don’t know, this is the story of a young Salvador Dali (played by Robert Pattinson, and yes that is the entire reason I saw this movie) and Frederico Garcia Lorca (played by Javier Beltran, who actually looked a hell of a lot better than RPatz did in this flick) as they developed a relationship and their artistic voices in school. The movie was filmed beautifully in Spain and oh, how it made me want to return.
I wanted to like this movie. I want Robert Pattinson to show me the actor I have seen only glimpses of thus far. I know he’s in there. But this film, from my understanding, was made even before Twilight. And you can tell. Pattinson is just too young. Dali appears to be someone trapped between his physical and perhaps emotional longing for Lorca—someone who at first seems comfortable with his undeniable artistic and personal pull toward Lorca and even to embrace it—and his ego, his relentless drive to be seen as artistic genius. I get the distinct impression that this Dali was far less interested in artistic expression itself than with feeding his own ego with his talents. Add to this internal battle a dramatically homophobic culture (under the Fascist dictator Franco, homosexuality was illegal and punishable by hard labor or even execution) and the war waging within Dali becomes painful to watch. While at first embracing his obvious connection with Lorca, he turns his back on it—whether due to societal pressure and specifically that of their filmmaker friend, Luis Bueual or because he was simply using Lorca as but a stepping stone as he passed through is debatable. The film seems to be saying that Dali’s feelings for Lorca were real and true, but that Dali was too weak to withstand the pressures of living that lifestyle under the conditions of their time or perhaps he was blinded to everything else by his own ambition. It also hints, however, that Dali was the embodiment of narcissism at its finest. He used Lorca for a time, when he served a specific purpose, and when Dali no longer needed him, he heartlessly moved on and even mocked Lorca, publicly. Later, when his career could use the boost that working with Lorca might conceivably provide, Dali storms through town. He is pathetic in these scenes: Trapped in an apparently passionless marriage, scorned by the art movement he had so thoroughly admired and embraced, disliked now by old friends. Though he puts on the appearance of a successful and arrogant artist, his pathetic and bereft soul is transparent.
All of this, along with the tragically heroic ending to Lorca’s life, should have made this a really good film. It certainly sounds like one I would enjoy—a beautifully filmed movie, starring beautiful men and the beautiful country of Spain, about interesting, artistic minds trying to thrive under a repressive government and the advent of a revolution. What’s not to love?
Robert Pattinson’s “accent” for one thing.
In you do not yet know, allow me to explain my disdain for movies in which the actors all speak English with foreign accents. It drives me to distraction. Did I miss something and everyone in Spain speaks English with a Spanish accent? OK, I understand that filmmakers want to make things easy for we lazy Americans who don’t like to read subtitles. But then why go through the charade of having everyone speak with Spanish accents? Just have them speak English, plain and simple. If you’re going to speak to your lowest common denominator, at least be honest about it.
Anyway, so because this film is keeping in line with that illustrious tradition of films in which non-English speaking characters speak English with foreign accents, Robert Pattinson has to speak English with a Spanish accent. Or he has to try to do so anyway. He has varying degrees of success, which is distracting to say the least. I found myself concentrating on the varying ways he said “Frederico” throughout the film, rather than the reasons why he was saying his friend’s name.
Accent aside, the role was just too much for the young RPatz, I’m afraid. While he totally nailed the hopelessly awkward mannerisms of Dali (he is very good at awkward), I’m afraid his efforts at conveying the deep conflicts at the root of that awkwardness made Dali seem nothing but a caricature of himself, complete with increasingly quixotic mustaches. All of that stuff I outlined in the preceding paragraphs is stuff I knew was supposed to be going on within Dali. Pattinson didn’t really pull any of it off.
And the much-lauded “menage a tois” scene, in which we get to see RPatz’s Dali jerk it in the corner while Lorca has sex with a sadly lovesick woman on the bed in front of him? So not sexy. So not even supposed to be sexy. What have you Pattinson-obsessed pervs been tweeting about for all of these months? That was actually one of the few scenes I thought achieved what it was after, which was dark and sad and pathetic and even cruel. Not sexy.
Julie and Julia. I’m so glad I finally saw this movie! It was so good. :) Meryl Streep cracked me up. When she and Stanley Tucci, who plays her husband, practically orgasm over the taste of food, I was rolling with laughter. That is so totally me (and several members of my family. We’re foodies to the max). Overall, a delightful movie that will make you smile. And it’s not a chick flick. The old man enjoyed it every bit as much ad I did. So when your old man wants to give you grief about renting this, just say: “Hey, that blogger chick’s old man liked it a lot and he’s a 6 foot three macho biker dude.”
I was afraid to watch Food, Inc. and had been putting it off for months. While it is indeed a frightening expose’ of our nation’s food industry—it explains, with frightening clarity and some ghastly images of stockyards, ranches and chicken coops, where our food comes from and how it gets to our tables—it really didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. I think it’s important for all of us to know these things and to make decisions about what we eat based on that knowledge and this film does present it in a logical and understandable way, highlighting just why it is so much more expensive to eat healthy foods in America and the environmental as well as health drawbacks to eating food produced by our present corporate-controlled farms. Additionally, the film avoids being overly pessimistic and even offers up some reasons to feel that we have options. It focuses quite a bit on farmers who are doing things naturally, organically and against the grain of corporate farms and highlights farmers’ markets and the like. The film at least lets us know that there are healthier options available for our nutritional needs, even while it exposes so many problems. So never fear—see this movie.
No End in Sight examines the decisions that led to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and the handling of the subsequent occupation by President George W. Bush and his administration. In other words, it ain’t exactly the feel-good movie of the summer. Again, the film didn’t really provide me with a lot of information I didn’t already have, but it did remind me of several things I had forgotten and it made me mad all over again. This is a good thing. I should be mad. We should all be mad.
What Just Happened? I figured a movie poking fun at the movie industry, starring Robert DeNiro, Catherine Keener and Robyn Wright, with cameos by Sean Penn and Bruce Willis, would be funny and smart and highly enjoyable. I was wrong.
Zombieland. Just watched this yesterday. It was great. It was funny, scary and gory and the female leads—a couple of grifters played by Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin—were smart and tough and I loved them. Woody Harrelson was his usual amusing self, as well. I liked how the movie played with some of the staples of horror movies in general and zombie movies specifically while at the same time using those same devices to further its own plot. Plus, Bill Murray has a cameo (which ends hilariously, I might add). How can you go wrong?
I also watched a documentary called American Grindhouse last night, which is about independent, exploitation, “B” movies or “Grindhouse” movies which started seeing the light of day in the advent of the Hays Code and remain strong today. It was cool. I like documentaries about filmmaking (or any artistic endeavor, really). The old man then watched something about the human body and how it works, but I decided to read while he did so.
I have yet to decide what I might watch today. I have a few more documentaries queued up, as well as some horror flicks including Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left from the early-seventies, which I am almost afraid to watch, quite frankly. It seems so disturbing. But as a horror film geek, I also feel that it's pert near a blasphemous that I haven’t seen it yet.
Maybe I’ll just stick with season one of Dr. Who...