Thursday, July 30, 2009

Coming Distractions August 4th, 2009

Flight of the Conchords - 2nd Season
The Soloist
Labor Pains
Race to Witch Mountain

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! - 3rd Season

Nature's Grave also comes out on Tuesday. It's a remake of another Australian film, The Long Weekend, about a couple who callously abuse nature on their camping trip, until nature fights back. I found it highly enjoyable. Interestingly, while the relationship of the couple was hokey at times, nature's attack wasn't so much. It's a highly atmospheric brand of horror movie, with lots of beautiful shots of Australian wildlife throughout. Including some lovely kangaroos: though they are not as openly ferocious as the roo in The Mighty Boosh (who had racked up "212 kills, 147 disembowelments, and is wanted in 18 countries for eating a man's face right off his skull..." as well as being the ugliest kangaroo i've surely ever seen on the small screen).

While reading The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath I came across this lovely movie-related passage, and wanted to share it with you:

...“How about doing something tonight, then. A flick, maybe?” “Sure, love to.” “I’ll call.” He drives off, and you run in, upstairs. Your eyelids are heavy, they dip, lift, dip again. You just about manage to strip and get into the shower and out and onto the bed. He does call, and you run downstairs, eager, in your thin blue cotton night gown, your bare feet feeling the slight film of dust and grit on the linoleum floor. He wants to see “Kind Hearts and Coronets” and Somerset Maughm’s “Quartet.” So do you. When he comes, you are fresh and apple-scented in the lovely shimmering tie-silk dress

with the lavendar design on the silvery-beige background. He is protectively chivalrous, opening car doors, shutting them, and you think of Southern breeding. The drive is lovely, into Boston in the clear soft light of late sun still, and the leaves green and full, with the faint pink dust rising, layers of it looking liquid, drifting as through levels of clear champagne. Boston streets, Kenmore Square, and the carpeted, gilt-adorned palace interior of the theater, where in the darkness you find two seats, whisper a remark or two, and go lifting, speeding into the great movie magic of the silver screen which pulls all into itself, lulling with the magnetic other-worldliness all who sit in adoration before it.

The collection is taken discreetly at the door by the gaunt, gray-haired man in the scarlet uniform with the crust of gold braid, and the worshipers are ushered to their cushioned pews in reverent darkness. No matter if they are late; the service is continuous, and if the beginning of the first mass is missed, one may stay through the beginning of the second to achieve full continuity. In the democratic twilight, the clothes of the patrons are not in evidence. If Mrs. Allan’s hat is out of taste, if Mac the cabdriver snores through the dull first lesson or the news reel, if Mamie and Joe nuzzle each other playfully, fondly in response to the sermon of a screen kiss, there is no one to be censorious, no one who really minds. For this is the altar at which more Americans spend their time and money, daily, nightly, than ever before. Here the mystic incense of the traditional popcorn, chewing gum and chocolate, of mixed perfume and whiskey smells is neutralized and cooled by the patented air-conditioning system. And here people can lose their identity in a splurge of altruism before the twentieth century god. His messengers, his missionaries are everywhere. Dark in the room above your heads, one runs the machine; reel after vibrating reel of divine life circles under his direction onto the mammoth screen, playing forth the drama, the life force, the Bible of the masses. Rave notices are circulated in the newspapers. Everybody reads them. Sex and slaughter are substituted for the sin and sulphur of the pulpits, now quite antiquated. Instead of watching a man dictate manners and morals, you watch the very workings of these manners and morals in an artificially constructed society which to you is real. Which, to all the worshipers, is the most wonderful and temporary reality they could ever hope to know. The liquid, gleaming lips of movie actresses quiver in kiss after scintillating kiss; full breasts lift under lace, satin, low scallops: sex incarnate, (and the male worshiper feels his mouth go thick and sweat start, and the fire starts burning in his loins. If he is with a girl, he puts his arm around her maybe, thinking of how her breasts would feel if maybe he could feed her a few too many beers – there’s that place down by the river where the kids go parking and if he got started...) The male actor says “C’mere, baby,” and his voice is rough, brash, intimate, and his strong arm bends behind her soft body, forcing her to him, against the muscular length of him, standing there, proud and virile... (and the female worshiper goes limp, thinking how good it would feel if only Johnny got tough, even if it was just playing, now and then, and pretended he was really going out for her in a big way – she could let her hair fall over one eye a little, and if she tucked in her blouse tighter, maybe pulled the neckline down a little lower, leaning toward him, maybe he would get started...)

So there it is, the Fire Sermon, and the choruses and responses, all to the music and the hymns, the superterrestial, supercollosal paens to the good guy, the good girl, the sex organs of America... bigger & better marriages these days and more often please.

Sidetracking, that was. Now to the subject at hand which is not a lecture, nor yet, supposedly, an analogy between the church and the cinema, but rather a sketch of two people reacting together: a Princeton boy and a Smith girl.

At the movies, they laughed, long and delightedly together, for the films were British, intelligent, deft and mature – (no gorgeous women in WAVE uniforms doing variety can-cans on deck, or soft hatted men looking tough in plaid lumbershirts on a rearing horse –.)

His arm rested for a little on the back of her chair, and his hand, now and then, tightened appreciatively on her shoulder, and she wanted very badly for him to hold her in his arms because it was a long while since she had been made love to, and then it had been quite thoroughly and wonderfully....

– Sylvia Plath (July 7, 1952)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Coming Distractions July 28th, 2009

Hair Extensions
Miss March
Angel of Death
An American Affair
Bill's Dirty Shorts
Green Lantern: First Flight
The Union: The Business Behind Getting High
Repulsion (Criterion)
Battlestar Galactica: 4.5th (final) Season
Dollhouse - 1st Season
Eureka - 3rd Season

I was visiting with my good friend the internet the other day when I came across a mention of the new Sion Sono movie, Love Exposure, which is, supposedly, not only about love but also "funny" and "touching." Now I find this really interesting because I only knew Sono from Suicide Club, which I greatly enjoyed for all its strangeness & rolls of flesh. So just yesterday I went back and rented another Sono, Strange Circus, which was very satisfyingly disturbing for my mid-day day-off movie. Now, I'm really excited that we will soon get Hair Extensions, about the hirsute beauty additions attacking the women who use them. Fun for the whole family! I'm really interested to see Sono's take on love, since everything else I've seen of his has been definitely more in the realm of nightmare than of fantasy.

Recently, because of the food shelf, I was reminded of Dumplings, one of the segments from 3 extremes. Anyone seen that one? Also fun for the whole family. Except for the babies. Babies shouldn't be watching horror movies anyway. What kind of terrible parent are you? And, while we're talking about dumplings if you like frozen potstickers (Ling Ling's!) then you should know it's actually really easy and far more delicious (and cheap!) to make your own. Even if you use wonton wrappers instead of potsticker (or gyoza) wrappers. (found recipe here)

The one other movie I watched this week (so, O.K, I watched both movies yesterday. What do you do with your days off other than hang curtains & watch movies & make potstickers, eh?) was Heartburn, based on the roman à clef by Nora Ephron (who wrote the screenplay for the upcoming Julie & Julia). Meryl Streep (heart) and Jack Nicholson (burn) star as the couple in this thinly-veiled (Streep plays a food writer rather than a screenwriter) account of the author's marriage to Carl Bernstein (one of the reporters to expose Watergate). Also has Stockard Channing, Jeff Daniels, Milos Forman, and Kevin Spacey in a bit role as a friendly criminal. I think the movie's really under-rated and provides a very believable, empathic, mature view of marriage. (This last Sunday's New York Times Book Review, in an article about A Happy Marriage, points out that if a book begins with a marriage, the story certainly has to go downhill from there. And it holds true for movies as well. It's why most movies end with a marriage, right?)

The only thing I have to warn you about is Heartburn's soundtrack. Which is done by Carly Simon. And even after you've noted the incongruous (just plain bad) synth (for any era. you can't forgive '86 everything) you will be shocked (I promise) by the final song. A muzak rocking rendition of Itsy Bitsy Spider. Which got stuck in my head for a disturbingly long amount of time. Thanks Carly! Coincidentally, this song is also mentioned in the first segment of This American Life - Remember Me and described as a song that is practically unbearable for most people to listen to in its entirety.

Speaking of forgiveness, can we forgive '80 for McCartney II? I would have said no until this last weekend, because I only made it as far as the 2nd song: Temporary Secretary. (Which I have, I'll admit, I've listened to an absurd number of times.) But then I discovered the 12th song on the album. This is when, for me, McCartney really married his lack of subject matter with this kind of harmonious mundanity that ties us all together. Or that did, when we all had separate machines to check messages on, instead of these crazy new-fangled cellular phones.

What movies have you watched in the last week (or yesterday*, whatever the case may be)?

*I watched one more thing this week(and I'm not counting this video): Bill's Dirty Shorts. I like Bill Plympton. He's funny. (and dirty)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Coming Distractions July 21st, 2009

The Mighty Boosh - all 3 seasons!
Unknown Woman
The Great Buck Howard
Monk - Season 7
Pushing Daisies - 2nd Season

I just want to reiterate (or is it my first iteration? This blog is over a year old and my mind is full of holes...) that not only does The Unknown Woman have the 484th soundtrack by Ennio Morricone1 but it was also the best movie to come to our theaters last year! (Closely followed, in my not-so humble opinion, by Let the Right One In2 & The Fall3). So, you should totally watch it! It’s suspenseful, and engaging, and disturbing, and..and… I might go so far as to even say masterful. The Mighty Boosh would make a good pick-me-up after The Unknown Woman: it’s great silly fun. What were your favorite movies of last year?

We now have a Food shelf! For all you foodies out there. Anyone seen Food Inc. yet? & the Food shelf doesn’t contain all the dessert-related movies, or wine movies, or cannibal movies, so we may have to do temporary supplementary shelves at some point in the future. But it does have all kinds of great documentary (ie. I Like Killing Flies), fictional (Like Water for Chocolate), & instructional (The French Chef with Julia Child!) videos. And I think it’s awful pretty.4

Lastly, just because I feel that most (if not all) entries should have something cat-related I bring you catsthatlooklikehitler. Which is a little disturbing, perhaps5, but still cute and not nearly as disturbing as last week’s cat picture.6

Coming Soon: this blog is gonna proudly receive a breath of fresh air in the form of a post from employee extraordinaire & horror movie connossieur Todd. I am so excited!7

1And this is one of the good soundtracks, not one of the super-derivative ones (though I don’t always mind those too - sometimes all a horror movie needs is some eerie female choral-type sustained notes)
2The working title for the American remake is Let Me In. Could this be commentary on how we are more likely, as Americans, to respond to immediacy (Me) than long-term goals (the "right one")?
3The Unknown Woman & The Fall were technically made in 2006, but, you know…bureaucratic release delays and living in the littlest big city in the world often results in waiting…
4And I didn’t organize the pretty shelf…so now I can claim that this blog entry isn’t entirely about me.
5Unless you really like Hitler.
6Again, I’m sorry for posting that. But sometimes you just feel the need to spread these things around because it makes it somehow less horrible, since you don’t have to face it alone. Right?
7And I just can’t fight it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Coming Distractions July 14th, 2009

Haunting in Connecticut
The Edge of Love
Grey Gardens (HBO remake of a 1975 documentary)
12 (Russian remake of 12 Angry Men)
[REC] (Spanish film of which Quarantine is a remake)
Man Men - 2nd Season
Wire in the Blood - 6th Season
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations - 4th Season
The State - All Seasons

You know what's fascinating? But that website doesn't have what I think may well be the ugliest (not to mention creepiest) tattoo of all time.

The State (with such comedians as Michael Ian Black & Michael Showalter of Stella) is the Gen X follow-up to sketch comedies shows as Monty Python and Kids in the Hall. It follows the same rambling pattern as Mr. Show (unlike, say, SNL, which treats each sketch as an individual and generally self-contained story). Or even a bit like Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job! (Quiz: can you spot the Tim & Eric inspired tattoo on

Next up: This cat isn't creepy (and I'm sorry if you clicked on that link. I don't know what that guy's problem is.), but this monkey's intentions may not be entirely honorable.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Coming Distractions July 7th, 2009

The Unborn
Coco Chanel
Night Train
Five Fingers
MST 3K - Vol. XV
Deranged/Motel Hell (thanks to a customer suggestion from right here on this very blog!)

I know summer is the perfect time for barbecues, for fireworks, for eating hot dogs (or their veggie substitutes) on your front porch as you watch the rain drip out of the gutters...and all that lovely yadda yadda summer-stuff. I also tend to think summer is the perfect time to catch up on all the great (or, at least, comforting/anesthetizing) TV on DVD. And since this is our Independence Day Weekend, not to mention the Quadracentennial celebration, I thought it would be fun to gather together some U.S. TV shows and the cities/regions which they celebrate/disgrace.

Miami: Dexter. Nothing like dealing with body-disposal in that raging Florida heat. Did you know that the actors (Michael Hall & Jennifer Carpenter) who play brother/sister Morgan duo are married in real life?

Las Vegas: CSI. Yeah, CSI Miami & New York exist too, but we all know they don't hold a candle to the original (Sorry David Caruso & Melina Kanakaredes (also of one of my mother's favorite shows: Providence ('99-'02))

Philadelphia: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Going too far since 2005. Greater Pennsylvania: The Office.

Washington D.C.: West Wing, of course.

New York City: For opposite ends of the city's spectrum see Law & Order and Sex and the City. Of course the list goes on- 30 Rock, Seinfeld, Gossip Girl, Mad Men (for old-timey) etc.

California: Not even gonna bother. I like to imagine that even before television was invented at least 1/2 of L.A.'s citizens walked around with small cardboard screen-like cut-outs framing their faces.

Louisiana: True Blood.

Utah: Big Love

Small-town Connecticut: Gilmore Girls

Small-town Northwest: Twin Peaks

Kansas: Jericho

Texas: Friday Night Lights

Boston: Boston Legal

Baltimore: The Wire

New Jersey: The Sopranos. House, M.D.

Seattle: Grey's Anatomy

If you want to get truly patriotic, you could rent John Adams or Deadwood (in order to see how this great country of ours expanded westward. I learned, among other useful facts, that the frontier was filthy. Really, really filthy.)

Any shows/geographies you'd like to add or amend?

Happy 4th of July everyone (or as we Burlingtonians like to say it "3rd of July")!