Archive | October, 2013

Movie Review: Hellraiser

31 Oct

hellraiser_1_poster_011

 

Here we go again on my jag of movies that my mother wouldn’t let me watch.  This one was VERY naughty because it had the word hell in it.   I wouldn’t have even bothered to ask for this one–if I did I’d have to call it Heckraiser, and watch there be some movie like that which would be very lame because instead of pinhead it would have clothespinhead or something like that.

This movie is much darker than Friday the 13 or Nightmare on Elm Street because unlike those films which are mostly chase movies, this movie wallows in suffering.  Again, I’m not going to bother with explaining the plot, but just a few things I noticed.

1.  For them being in England, not many of the characters seem particularly British.

2.  It’s really hard for me to know when something’s a flashback when this much soft screen is thrown around in general.  Honestly–half the film seems to be dipped in Vaseline.

3.  Clare (the stepmother) is a hoot.  She has these reaction shots to people when nothing particularly happened that looks like they just pooped on her foot.  This is before anything in particular happens.

4.  Ok, so I know this house is evil, but must it also be gross?  Cockroaches and rats–UGH.  I can stand wickedness in movies, but the cenobites could clean things up now and then.

5.  The dragon man, when he’s in human form eats a bunch of crickets.  Why does he do this?  I have no idea.   It’s not like dragons eat crickets in the wild–I think at this point of the movie he’s just bored and wanting to freak out the girl.

6.  Why don’t the cenobites just go in and get Frank since they know he’s there?  It’s not like they can’t leave that room (at the end they’re popping up all over the place).

7.   When Steve shows up and there’s all these monsters running around Kirsty’s house, he’s not very impressed.   He jumps in and helps, but there’s no OHMYGODWHATISTHATTHING….he’s too cool for school.

8.  Having an affair on top of the wedding dress you’re about to use?  Tacky.  Also I hope you have a good dry cleaner for that.

9.   I find it hard to believe that Julia is so attractive that she can pick up men and convince them to sleep with her in a rat infested attic.   Also that thing she does with Frank’s finger and her mouth is not remotely attractive.

10.  And the true horror is the fashions here!   I’d rather dress like pinhead than many of the humans here–Julia’s rainbow eyeliner and helmet hair, Kristy looks like she is wearing Stevie Nick’s castoffs, and some HORRIBLE cosby sweaters on everybody.

Movie Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street

30 Oct

nightmare

 

Well, continuing the list of movies my mother wouldn’t let me watch–here’s a Nightmare on Elm Street.   Since I was like 6 when this movie came out, I can’t really blame her.  However, this movie was WAY better than I expected.    Though the cover–why does it look like they pasted Johnny Depp’s face to this poor girl’s head?  (BECAUSE HE WAS THE PRETTIEST!  DURRRRRR!)

Again, I’m not going to go too far on the plot bit–Freddy Krueger haunts kids–got it.  One thing this movie’s got on its brethren is the level of care in the details.   Watch Friday the 13th and you might as well turn your brain off–you start noticing inconsistencies and the whole thing comes round.  This one though rewards attention, I mean it’s not Citizen Kane, but I really like some of the details:  like the stay awake pills being on her desk later, the details of the dreams, why everything ends up in a furnace room–it all sorta makes sense, and because most of the violence happens in dreams any consistency holes get layered over by the dream frosting.

The biggest thing to say about this movie is that while it plays with dream imagery, a vast majority of the film focuses on real world stuff, or things that could happen in the real world at any rate.   The fight against falling asleep is always hinted at, but never directly addressed.   And the best thing about this movie is Ronee Blakely!  My god that woman is a genius, I could watch her saying her lines all day in that super expressive too sweet to be true motherly voice.    Really, why they couldn’t have kept her around for like three more movies is beyond me, because her scenes all rock.

Some little things I noticed though–

Nancy’s father sure wears a lot of makeup.

Ok, so we see Nancy’s mother remove a pot of coffee and like three mugs from Nancy’s room, but Nancy has a coffee pot under her bed?  Does she have to have a fresh cup every time she pours herself more?

Until Nancy mentions her mother drinking, we never see any liquor–after that point she’s got a bottle at hand through the rest of the film.

Also, Nancy’s mom dug through the warehouse fire to get Freddy’s glove?  Why?  Was it still connected to his hand, because ewwwww.

What was the point of Freddy pretending to be the hall monitor?  Even Nancy just shrugged at that one and Nancy screams at EVERYTHING.

Also they’ve got to have the fastest bar manufacturers in the country because Nancy was out for maybe a couple of hours and Mom had all the windows in the house barred already.

There’s no way that Johnny Depp could possibly sleep that way with the TV on his groin.  Those “portable” TVs were HEAVY.    Also he’s watching Miss Nude America on broadcast TV?

Most of the effects were pretty good–except for Freddy with the long arms, which just looks silly,   Also in her dream Nancy got Freddy’s hat?  How?

Also the Scooby Doo plan of Nancy, I’d accuse Nightmare of stealing from Home Alone but it was years later.  Still–I couldn’t help but think of it.

The Things I’m Afraid Of

29 Oct

For Halloween I’m going to put down the I’m afraid of.

1.  Cockroaches–I’m afraid of and disgusted by cockroaches.   In Haiti, where I lived for a bit, they had HUGE roaches, like thumb sized, and they would come crawling out like disgusting hellspawn.   You could hear them clicking on the stone floors.  UGH.  Then in South Carolina they had the charmingly named Palmetto Bugs which were pretty much the same thing.   I remember sitting in a screened in porch as they crawled up the outside of the screens.   YUCK.

2.  Driving–I HATE driving, and will avoid it at almost any costs (thank god I’m in a city with good public transport!)   I’m not quite phobic about it, but it’s something that gives me an absolute headache to do.

3.  The Grind–One of my more metaphysical fears is that I will end up spending my life toiling in my current job or one very much like it with nothing to show for it at the end of my life.   I don’t mind working, but a life built around working, specifically a life built around working that has very little significance for me, sucks.

4.   Groups–I’m not agoraphobic or anything–I get very uneasy when groups get an unhealthy sort of vibe–when gossip is going thick and fast, and they seem to be acting out beyond each individual like some sort of hydra.   Like sharks that sense blood, they can get very bullying and nasty if you’re at the wrong end of it.

5.  People who think it’s ok to intentionally harm other people just because “they deserved it.”  They are my true definitions of monsters.

6.  Being Stranded–I can handle some losses, but the idea of being stranded somewhere with NOTHING, I don’t even know how I’d get out of that one.    Complete helplessness would be about the worst thing I can think of–no income, no way to function. .   Worse would be being stuck somewhere where everybody thought of me with hostility.   I would never survive jail.

Movie Review: Friday the 13th (1980)

28 Oct

friday-the-13th-keep-calm

 

Well this year G and I are celebrating Halloween by watching stupid classic slasher movies.   First up, the original Friday the 13th!  This movie also has the benefit of being one of a series my parents banned me from ever ever watching–so I was all feeling rebellious last night watching this and eating gobs of candy.  HAHAHAHA!  I should take a picture of myself and send it to my mother–I’m grown up now MOM!

Ok, so I’m not going to go on about the plot–and oh yeah, in case you don’t know anything about anything SPOILERS FOLLOW.  Just a few observations about this movie.

1.  Man this must be about the worst camp ever.   We hear they’re for 50 campers and they have three canoes, one haybale with a pretty janky looking target on it, one functioning sink in the bathroom, and electricity that seems to start and stop at random.  Actually a more entertaining movie would be if there was no killer and the campers came and we had to watch inner city children be bored.

2.  Is it just me or is Annie’s life dream to work the cafeteria for a children’s camp very specific?   Also there’s talk with the truck driver about the curse on Crystal Lake which involves:  Jason’s drowning (ok) and  two kids slashed (that’s pretty terrible) but both of these things happened 25 years ago–so what’s the rest of this curse?   Fires and bad water?  I don’t even know what he means by bad water–was it poisoned?  Did it get sulphery?

3.  Also when Annie hitches a ride with the killer, why exactly is the killer speeding up the car?  (Oh yeah and GIANT SPOILER–the killer is Jason’s mother)–was the plan to drive Annie somewhere else and then kill her there?    Why go faster?   Also Annie seems like she has no survival skills considering she’s been hitchhiking for awhile.

4.  Kevin Bacon’s Speedo–WTH?  I mean is he stuffing that thing or what?  G and I were watching and then all of a sudden Kevin Bacon’s junk is just there right in the screen.  Weird misshapen square junk.   Other weird forms of male flesh–Ned in a sweatshirt diaper and indian headdress, and the head of the camp in really short jean shorts and red socks.  None of it is remotely attractive.

5.   Ok, so Kevin Bacon and his girl are making out on the bottom bunk when a corpse is on the top bunk with no idea whatsoever?   Couldn’t you tell?   Also, was Jason’s mother just lying under the bed the whole time?   Also how much blood must be up there if it’s dripping THROUGH the mattress?

6.  Strip Monopoly?  I don’t even know how that would work.   At this point in the movie G and I got into a heated debate about a clothing based economy which may have ended by me calling him a tea-party fanatic and him calling me a bleeding heart liberal–but I digress.

7.   Jeez these girls have no problem with running around in the rain in just their underpants.   Maybe those inner city kids would have been entertained after all.

8.   “Hi my name is Marcie!  I hear creepy noises in the disgusting bathroom so guess what I’m going to do?  Kathryn Hepburn impressions!  YES!”

9.  Wow that is one HOT waitress at the diner.   I don’t know if it’s her orange fro or her gigantic glasses, but I wasn’t prepared for this much cuteness when I signed up.

10.  Pamela Voorhees–When I was watching this with G, he was all like “this is a mystery!”  even though I knew who did it before even watching.  Let me tell you something, even if you know nothing about this movie, THIS IS NOT A MYSTERY.  Sure there’s a few half-baked red herrings, but unless you think Steve drove off, unhitched his trailer, killed Annie, then rehitched his trailer up (which seems unnecessarily elaborate), there’s absolutely no clues as to who might be doing it.  In fact, it’s pretty evident early on that the killer is nobody we have met yet.  On top of that Pamela immediately goes into psycho shriek mode when we meet her.

11.  By the way Pamela’s got superhuman strength or something.  She throws a corpse through a window, arranges the rest in trees an top bunks, gets hit in the face by a shotgun, a cast iron skillet, a metal poker and an oar, and even then Alice had to cut her head off to make sure she was dead.   And the woman fights dirty–at one point even biting Alice’s leg.

12.   Also, Alice isn’t too bright.  She barricades the door from the inside, even though it opens out, with a piece of wood, a picture from the wall, and a couple of chairs.  Also, she leaves her gas stove on boiling water as she searches for her boyfriend.   Each time she knocks Pamela out, she just kind of wanders off, at one point just looking at her own face in the water of the lake.    Also, why do they have like 30 shotguns?  To keep the inner city kids under control no doubt!

13.  The end is kinda confusing.  I think we’re supposed to take from it that Jason is still alive (but then why all the reports of a drowned kid?) or at least a body was never recovered.  I think her “dream” of Jason was supposed to be just a hallucination?   I don’t know, it’s not like this movie went too far into the story.

Book Review: Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander

27 Oct

shattered glass

 

So I decided to check out this m/m romance because it’s a genre that’s booming lately (there’s dozens of these things out) and I never read one before.

I’m a firm believer in appreciating any work on its own terms.  I don’t want to be like the guy who was in the mood for a western and ignorantly watched Oklahoma! and starts ranting how this is the worst western ever.   It’s one thing to evaluate Oklahoma on it’s own strengths and weaknesses, however expecting it to be something it’s not is the fault of the viewer, not the work.

So with self-published works like this, no matter the genre, you need to read it like you would watch a self-made movie, or any other self made work of art.   When they’re good, they’ll be fun, charming, but also a little rough in places.   If you’re looking for flawless prose or slick writing you are in the wrong place.   Also what I look for is some sense of personality–the reason why I like reading self-published works is that you get the real sense of the person writing this, verses pulp books cranked out of a publishing house.

While I think this book is a mixed affair, one thing that shines through and really makes me forgive the flaws, is that it’s clear that Dani Alexander is creating a work from his heart.   Honestly, at finishing this book, I felt like I had a good friend that I was really proud of for finally finishing his book.   There’s definitely a sense that he really cares about his characters and this was a labor of love for him.

I’m not going into all the details of the plot, but it’s basically Law and Order mixed with Queer as Folk and romantic comedy.    Some of it works and some of it doesn’t.  Here’s my breakdown:

The Romantic Plot–The romance between Austin and Peter is ok with a few details which kind of bug me a little.   So Austin suppressed his homosexuality for years because of the suicide of his gay friend, but one day as he’s about to get married he sees Peter and his gay switch turns to on.  While I’m not expecting a book like this to be realistic, Peter’s shift from not-gay to gay seems to be a little too effortless.   At the same time, Peter–who’s been traumatized by being a gay hustler and who normally identifies as straight, is ok with being gay just for Austin.  I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about that–I know that people’s sexualities are often much more fluid than society permits, but still–am I supposed to find the fact that both these men don’t normally sleep with men for pleasure attractive?   For me, it kind of leaves a bad taste.   Other than that, their relationship is about actual love so I can give them points for that.   I got a little annoyed with the Romantic Comedy cliche of bickering then making out–because THAT’S the basis for a healthy relationship.

The Crime Plot–Serviceable.  I never was on the edge of my seat, and I couldn’t keep track of which cops were which, but it did make things happen.    This book certainly keeps its characters active–my pet peeve is a book where characters do nothing but talk at each other.

Cai–Cai is a great character, and the only one that really engaged me.  The way he spoke and acted just got to my soft side.   I also really liked his mother.

The Humor–The humor will either make it or break it for you.  I liked it, though it could get grating at points.   Each part has a Frasier style heading that’s usually a bad pun.   Humor is very individual though, so if you don’t find things like that funny, you’d best look for another book.

And yes, the plots are rickety, most of the characters flat stereotypes, the dialogue wooden, but none of that particularly bothers me–it’s part of it in fact.  I read this like I’d watch some late night movie–I’m not looking for Shakespeare here.

My one major criticism is that the book was a little too long and plotty.   Between the crime drama, the romance, Peter’s back story, Austin’s back story, the wedding, there is just too much to be invested in.  Some parts were very charming–particularly anything at Austin’s home.  However I think that many of the sub-plots could have been excised or severely shortened to allow more room for the good stuff to shine.   It comes off as cluttered.  I would also suggest cutting it by half in general–Alexander does the writing equivalent in drowning his cereal in milk–a little goes a long way.

That being said–I think Alexander is a talented writer that I want to see continue.  There were some moments where I was thinking I can’t believe that I’m getting drawn into this.   He just needs to write some more and fiddle with his recipe a little to find the right balance of plot, characterization, and romance.

Also, oddly, the Glass series has a rabid fan-base, of straight women.  Huh.  Go figure.

Pop Culture Friday: Captain Phillips is a Rap God of the Storm Front

25 Oct

1.  Rap God–By Eminem—Sheesh—there are people who do think of Eminem as a rap god, and yes, his beats are really good, and he slams ’em down better than nearly everybody.  I’m just a lil’ bit tired of him playing the provocateur.     I don’t think that he is homophobic (though it’s hard to tell), I do think he will say things just to get people’s backs up, and that he seems to target lgtb people doesn’t really make it better in my eyes.   And yes there’s violent lyrics and some women bashing lyrics too.   However, he’s being so sarcastic here it’s not like I think he’s telling the literal truth on all these matters.   Here’s my biggest issue:  what’s the point?  I mean in 2000 Eminem was talking about the current pop culture as it stands, and taking down some sacred cows–and while I don’t agree with the manner he always did this, he did have a point in doing it.   Now, he’s a middle aged man just spewing out the same stuff he did then.  And yes, I know that Slim Shady is a character, but isn’t it a little disingenuous to take a character so you can say stuff that you otherwise wouldn’t get away with?  Especially because he sounds like that kid in junior high who just says crazy stuff in order to cause a reaction.  Well here’s my alter ego–Fat Britey with a message for you Slim—Grow Up.

2.  Captain Phillips–It’s nice to see Tom Hanks in a big movie again–it’s like seeing a familiar old friend after a long while and being pleasantly surprised when your relationship immediately returns to a comfortable place.   The movie itself has a basic under siege plot, but the characters are so well drawn that there’s both action and some good thinking points in here.   Ok, so Tom Hanks has a Boston accent that fits him as well as a wrecking ball fits Miley Cyrus, but after that fades, we’re all good.

3.   Storm Front–By James Patterson–Erm–another book going in the Da Vinci Code stuff?  Sigh–I’m sorry the Da Vinci Code was ever written.

Poetry Review: Louis Simpson “After Midnight”

21 Oct

Going through American towns after midnight can be quite a strange thing–unlike other parts of the world, American towns tend to close up completely at night, showing empty buildings and strange neon lights.

“The dark streets are deserted,/with only a drugstore glowing/Softly, like a sleeping body;”

Does a sleeping body glow?   I can see it though, those closed stores with soft lights, like living things that are at rest.   Being in a town so late, there’s something that feels a bit like you’re intruding–sort of like being in a museum after it’s been closed, or a theme park.

“With one white, naked bulb/In the back, that shines/On suicides and abortions.”

Suicides and abortions–two things that might be done in the very still of the night.  We’re not just literally “after midnight” but emotionally there.   Even though it’s not said, the strangeness of night makes things have different associations than during the day.   One would not think of suicides and abortions in the middle of the day.   The naked bulb almost seems to punctuate the darkness that surrounds rather than bring light.

“Who lives in these dark houses?/I am suddenly aware/I might live here myself.”   The dark houses are the metaphor for the dark self–the dark city–he’s knowing that there’s a part of him that lives in the world of suicides and abortions as well.

“The garage man returns/And puts the change in my hand./Counting singles carefully.”   So the man stopped to get gas in the middle of the night, and the man returning takes him away from his thinking.  A the same time there’s a bit of loneliness and melancholy here too we don’t hear any speech or any real connection, just a transaction.

This whole poem is really about the speaker, and feeling disconnected from everything around him.  The associations he makes are also disconnected, but connected in the theme of night.   At the same time there’s a sort of fascinating defamiliarization that makes him see all these things in a new way.   In the end, I find this to be one of the best sorts of Halloween stories, filled with the sort of fear we all live with.