Monday, December 30, 2013

The Exterminating Angel

From time to time I get around to watching a DVD from NetFlix (understandably everything is not available streaming) and this time it was The Exterminating Angel by Luis Bunuel. Plot: Before a very posh dinner party can even be served, the household staff can't get out the door fast enough and as it turns out, they're unknowing harbingers of doom. The posh dinner party continues but guests cannot seem to leave when it's time to go. What starts out as a let's stay after the party bit becomes a complete nightmare as guests cannot only not leave the house, they cannot leave the room they're in. Beautifully shot in black and white with Bunuel's surreal direction. Lots of symbolism - the rich - the church - and a bunch of things too artist for me to comprehend. These sort of films are much more interesting to watch then present day mainstream fare.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Curse of the Cat People and E!True Hollywood Story: Tonya Harding

Got a chance to see The Curse of the Cat People @ Garfield Park Conservatory on Saturday, Dec 21st. The place was packed. I just think it's so cool that folks flock to see 16 mm and 35 mm films. Hosting the film was Indy's premier film historian Eric Grayson. Rain, rain, rain. Eric's films are such a treat! He hauls in  his own project equipment and he always has a vintage cartoon before each film; Tubby the Tuba was a delight!

Yes, the movie is a 1944 sequel to Cat People, but there really isn't a curse and there really aren't any cat people in this one. Having said that, there are a few characters who were in the original Cat People which sort of makes it more of a where-are-these-charaters-now kind of movie. Simone Simon and Amy Carter are both so beautiful.  Their beauty really adds an extra layer of magic to their scenes together. Sir Lancelot played Edmund, the personal cook and model ship cleaner, who lends an air of how wealthy the family must be. These sort of films are like the ultimate time capsule. Clothing, style of speech and hair products captured on state-of-the-art at the time media. We need to thank our lucky stars for folks like Eric who fight to save a these precious reels of history.

I admit, I cannot take my eyes off of a proper train wreck. I somehow stumbled on E! True Hollywood Story: Tonya Harding and watched the entire 1.5 hour documentary. I remember when this happened and I thought I knew most of the facts, but it turns out there were some head shaking details that I was not aware of that really makes this an even more ridiculous story than I already thought it was. My absolute fav factoid and their ultimate downfall was being so cheap they put their trash bags outside of Dockside Saloon & Restaurant for pick up. Kathy Peterson, the owner, had a way of dealing with these I-won't-pay-for-my-own-trash-pick-up folks by going through their trash and tracking them down. She found mail with Jeff Gillooly's name and address, envelopes with Tony's handwriting and doodles, and a check from the US Skating organization. Tonya - take a lesson from Survivor and the song Eye of the Tiger - "Rising  up to the challenge of our rival!"

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Super 8 and The Hunger Games

As my tastes (music, clothes) seem to be permanently stuck in the late '70's, a guy at work insisted that I watch Super 8. Oh my goodness!! What a delight!! This goes on my very short list of fav movies I've seen this year. The film is set in 1979 (a very good year, I might add) in a small industrial (back when there we actually jobs in small towns) town in Ohio. I normally don't care so much for special effects; they tend to dominate a movie and any hope of a plot is a pipe dream. The special effects in Super 8 know their place. They merely serve to enhance a great cast, clever plot, and there is such attention to detail that  it's as if it was actually filmed in 1979. I could watch this movie over and over. Apparently, J. J. Abrams is known for his use of lens flare. He's gotten a bit of flack and some goofy parody YouTube videos, but I actually like it. As you can kind of tell in the above picture, it added to the old timey feel and a sort of a play on the title. It is, after all, a movie.

I also watched The Hunger Games. Blah. Yawn. It really didn't appeal to me. The dialogue and characters were so flat. Don't get me wrong - Jennifer Lawrence can act. She's making a silk purse out of a sow's ear here. It just didn't make sense to me that the games would be of such interest if they were held every year. Wouldn't every 4 or 5 make more sense? Do the math - if 2 people are chosen every year from a district, that means 20 kids would die in just 10 years. It also didn't make sense to me that raw materials would be produced by the districts and then used by the capital. Uh…doesn't someone have to convert these raw materials into useable goods? Everyone who works in the capital - folks who prepare the elaborate meals - the guards - train personnel all live in the capital? All the talk about getting sponsors ended up only being marginally important, as it turned out you just needed a little help from your appointed handler. I would think the finale shot entirely in the dark would kill the ratings. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lance who?

Caught The Armstrong Lie @ Landmark Cinema last night. I'd followed the story after it broke, but the film manages to shed light on even more fraud, lies, and insider finagling. Great camera shots from bike cams makes for cool peloton shots. There is a section in the film that explains the terms - peloton - domestique - so that non-cycling viewers can understand the importance of some of The Tour racing strategy.

I followed road racing back in the day. Greg LeMond was an American who just happen to win the Tour de France (officially the only non-European to win) three times and I think we all realize, beyond the shadow of a doubt, did it "clean". For whatever reason, America just wasn't really interested in Greg or The Tour. Lance and LeMond publicly battled - LeMond accused Lance of doping. Armstrong managed to squelch LeMond's bicycling manufacturing contract  (LeMond bikes) with Trek (Trek manufactured LeMond bikes and took Lance's side).  America didn't really get interested in The Tour until Lance came along. The French loved LeMond and hated Armstrong.

Lance seems to continue to dole out the fodder. A recent news article about the "reconciliation" meeting between Lance and Christophe Bassons is a classic Armstrong move; it's not enough to disagree with our critics, we must crush them. Think about this for a moment. If everything Lance said was true, "I do not dope", would it warrant  essentially annihilating the critics' careers and characters? In real life, when you accuse someone of something and they get very angry beyond what is required, it's a sure sign they are guilty. Seeing how Armstrong seemed to go above and beyond what would be a  normal reaction points to someone who was ready to cut the tongue from the witness, least he speak again of the horrors he has seen.

It appears that there is a film in works about Armstrong's life. Sorry, I'm not really interested. I think the person here who deserves a cycling biopic movie is Greg LeMond; this is the stuff of real champions.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Of Sea Storms and Cheese

My dreams lately have been quite a delight. I actually have to wake up and fall back asleep in order to get really vivid detail.  The other night, I dreamt that I lived in a corner  apartment in some sort of high rise building. It was storming out and at one point I opened the cream colored curtain to revel a sea. The storm was fantastic - electric blue an much ado about lightening. Breathtaking! The light bouncing off of the sea/ocean was a bit like strobe lights, but in the distance…a lovely ball of light coming from an enormous lighting strike. The image above is almost there on the color, however my dream storm had much more contrast with the clouds and much more lightening. 

Last night's vivid dream had a section where I was in a desert landscape and I could see a caravan coming because of the swirling dust in the distance. The caravan turned out to be (yep) giant cheese wheels - like above only much larger - with exotic animals on top. One had a camel with a bit of light blue paint applied to its neck, lying down on its side and one had the most beautiful tiger all stretched out. Sometime there were a couple of these mega cheese wheels stacked on top of each other giving height to the animal. The wheels had been placed on large wooden carts that I believe were being pulled by horses. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Street Girls and Alucarda

Cult Movie Night @ Gary's last night.  First out of the gate, Street Girls. Oddly enough this movie really wasn't about street girls at all.  They weren't really strippers either. The tiny glittering gem in an otherwise bleak landscape of bland acting and a non existing script, was the ever paripatetic Michael Albert character. Not only was this character constantly pushing his bike complete with a basket on the handles bars (he is never seen riding, only pushing) he also occasionally shows up as the cross dressing Sabine. Oh, and his sister's name is Sally who seems to just hang out most of the time. The very last scene in the movie is a hoot.

Up next, Alucarda.  So much yelling and screaming. I'm possessed, no, I'm possessed. Hey, we're possessed. The glittering bit of interest here were the gypsies (complete with a gypsy caravan). The nuns (? they had to be nuns, as after all it was  a convent) were dressed in Alexander McQueen-ish mummy wrap blood soaked outfits. Speaking of nuns, there were monks present as well, but they were dressed traditionally. BTW, even I know that nuns and monks don't co-habitate. Some of the scenes were were quite well composed and were quite horrific. Guillermo del Toro has expressed an appreciation for the film in interviews. I would love to know who did the poster above, as it reminds me of the work of Esteban Maroto.