Showing posts from March, 2010


I try to avoid commenting on television shows, because each episode can be a creation in itself, and because if you don't like the genre you certainly aren't going to spend fifteen hours watching an entire season, but I want my readership to know that I haven't abandoned my boob tube entirely just because I fell in love with a passing book (The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, incidentally).

Supernatural seems to have taken horror movies to prime time. This show currently runs on the CW, and although I've only seen large chunks of season 1, I've been enjoying it so far. The CW affiliation manifests through the obscenely attractive cast, the constant stream of anorexic blondes (with a few notable variations), and the fairly current-gen pop-culture references (with a few throw-backs to classic horror).
Although the X-Files and other science-fiction shows have televised horror from episode to episode, none of them seem so firmly planted in the genre. Angel and Buffy, al…

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother

As a comedic enterprise, I must declare this film extraordinarily successful, although logistically derivative. Gene Wilder directed the movie, but all points of directing and humor bear the image of Mel Brooks. The movie is conceptually original (although a broad parody of the Sherlock Holmes ouvre), and it is in the specific jokes, casting, probably production costs, and the ending (as seemingly desperate as an exploding Muppet) that Mel Brooks' influence appears.

This movie is truly funny, with jokes ranging from the raunchy (mostly breasts) to the intellectual (parody of the opera, the opening scene with Queen Victoria). Not once did any of the humor directly imitate Brooks specific jokes, but the flavor and style were unmistakable, probably because the casting was so similar and Brooks had such a handle on this kind of adventure parody (Star Wars, Robin Hood, Westerns, and Frankenstein all came under his artistic license, in two of which he starred Gene Wilder). Wilder's t…

Bird on a Wire

I'm not sure how I feel about this movie. I haven't spent much time analyzing camera work for adventure films, but I just felt that we strained our necks in so many directions just to catch glimpses of potentially naked bodies. I understand that directors have to keep the male audience members interested, but it felt heavy-handed, as if a disproportionate amount of time and effort were being put into an aspect of the film which didn't warrant the attention.

I'm making a false assumption. I assume that when a film is made, the ultimate goal is art. I forget that, especially in the case of these action/adventures entertainment is the primary objective, rather than lasting art. In more simplistic terms, I'm analyzing magazine ads as if they were Da Vinci.

I liked the soundtrack, and the plot held together well enough, except the background stuff (once again, it seemed disproportionately complex). The acting was adequate for basic suspension of disbelief, and Mel Gibson …

Alice in Wonderland - 3D

Critics don't seem to like this film very much, but I watched it at a matinee, and thoroughly enjoyed the cries of awe from the little children as they had their first 3D experience. It immediately put a smile on my face.
Although I'm inclined to interpret Alice too much like a written work with themes and tropes, I honestly feel there's more to this film than first glance reveals.
The main criticism seems to be that the plot lacked something, and I did feel moments where movement seemed shallow, but ultimately the film captured the nonsensical elements of Lewis Carroll's Alice, and the coming-of-age feeling of Through the Looking Glass but without any surreptitious recitation of "Cherry-Ripe."
For at least a century an essential theme of fantasy literature, especially written for children, was that element of growing out of adventure; C.S. Lewis's children grow too old for Narnia, etc. This film seemed to wish to undo some of that by making Underland (as a …

MST3K - The Horrors of Spider Island

All episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 must be held up to the standard of Werewolf - My favorite episode so far. I have argued with myself quite often about how much the humor of the show depends on the crappiness of the movie being mocked. Truthfully, I think it has more to do with the humor of the writers and the energy of the performers. Certain kinds of jokes seem to work better than others, although I imagine that without a variety it would become repetitious. MST3K has three facets, the film, the commentary, and the frame story.
The Horrors of Spider Island was a real stinker. The voices were badly dubbed, and the appeal of the film dependent entirely on the opening premise; newly-auditioned "dancers" crash on an island where they're attacked by really big spiders. I'm laughing just thinking about it.
The commentary has been more witty, but the badly framed camera work, and constantly undressing cast give plenty of fodder. Amongst the mocked are Minnesota, t…

Where the Wild Things Are

The visual, textual, and thematic elements of this movie blended seamlessly. Although the tomatometer seemed to see as the only flaw in this film its slower pace, I scoff at those who need to speed movies up to breakneck to enjoy them. The visual elements were almost universally breathtaking, as the camera alternated from Max's young perspective to long shots of atypically beautiful scenery.

If I saw an incongruous element, it was the voices of the monsters. I admire the voice acting, but I think a light filter to lower the tones might have helped the viewer take those first scenes more seriously, as the director obviously intended the film to be taken.
A recurring motif that I thoroughly appreciated was the caves. Each moment has Freudian echoes, although one later cave became something even better - a muppet trope. The caves begin as Max builds his "igloo" (a snow cave, rather, but he can call it what he likes) to keep himself safe from snowball attacks. It has a serious …

The Premonition

No, not the one with Sandra Bullock, the one filmed in 1976.

The tomato-meter shows one "fresh" rating, but I'm going to have to respectfully disagree. I found very little laudable about this film except its ambitions.
A few moments captured my attention. The opening scenes seemed very verite and a little artsy, especially while the camera followed the mime as he warmed up, but these few artistic shots seemed to have little coherence to the film as a whole. They follow the beautiful biological mother very sympathetically, which served to support a particular interpretation of the film, but did not progress the plot. The viewer experiences some confusion of sympathies, especially when he or she compares the two women, and finds the adoptive mother less attractive, and much more hysterical, if not more irrational.
One or two moments of shaky camera-work add to the confusion of a scene here and there, but also detract from the seeming eeriness of the remaining smooth, calm pan…