I haven’t had many opportunities to utilize this here editorial column of mine, so I’m testing this format out as a way to chat with y’all about film and other arts & entertainment in a fairly casual way. This is basically just a scatter-brained blog.
Between CHUD and the midnight movie series I co-program and host here in LA, I watch a lot of films in a given week, which often makes it hard – and sadly sometimes unappealing – for me to get to the theater for personal pleasure. But a week spent just watching Police Academy films is no way to live, so I found the time for both Bridesmaids and X-Men: First Class this past week. I thought Bridesmaids was extremely uneven, but the parts that worked were fucking hilarious. Its always frustrating to feel that a movie could have been made significantly better simply through trimming in the editing room, but all-in-all I’d say the film is winner. I was expecting a girls-night-out story, which we’ve seen very little of in cinema, but I can’t get mad at a film for not reading my mind. And I’m a fan of the Apatow comedy sub-genre of films that heavily focus on friendship. X-Men, on the other hand, was just fucking great. Hit all the sweet spots for me. Aside from how terrible Beast looked, I have almost nothing bad to say about the film. Even if it weren’t so fun, the film would earn a special place in my heart for making Kevin Bacon relevant again. Bacon destroys. And boy can that guy wear the shit out of some early 60’s clothes. Damn dude, keep those sideburns.
I also caught The Sorcerer’s Apprentice on Netflix, which for some reason I had been lead to believe was decent fun. Jesus. What a waste of decent FX. And I like Jay Baruchel, but I’m not sure this guy can play a leading man; even when the lead is supposed to be a dork. He’s just…unappealing.
I’m currently reading both The Coming of Conan The Cimmerian and Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (I often like to hop back and forth between fiction and non-fiction). The Coming of Conan is an un-edited collection of the first Robert E. Howard Conan stories, presented in the order Howard wrote them, as opposed to the in-world chronological order they’re often presented in. The edition has some pretty lifeless illustrations by Mark Schultz, but it does contain two maps of the Conan world drawn by Howard himself. These maps are not only crucial for me now, as piecing together the geography simply from what is mentioned in the stories is tough, but they’re also rather enlightening as to how Howard viewed the different races of his Hyborian Age. For both maps Howard first draw Europe and upper Africa, then he drew Conan’s world on top of it. It makes things a little harder to make out but it’s extremely interesting to so directly see Howard’s real-world inspirations like that.
The Demon-Haunted World – like all of Sagan’s writings – is enviably smart and entertaining, though the book’s inherent message of science being more exciting and relevant than religion and pseudo-science can’t seem to hold my attention for too long. Sagan is preaching to the choir with me, so I find myself losing interest after each chapter. Though jumping over to Conan killing some fools for a couple stories seems to give me time to reboot. But Sagan’s writing is just so breezy and accessible that I almost wish I were confused on the issues, just so the book could be some life-changing experience.
Speaking of science and reading material, this month’s issue of Discover has a really interesting article about black holes. Did you know that while nothing in the universe can move faster through space than light, there is no limit to how fast space itself can move? This is the mind-blower behind the event horizon phenomenon — in which not even light can escape the suck of the black hole. Basically, the analogy they use is to think of light and other matter as objects in a stream and the water as space and the event horizon as a waterfall.
My jam (as the hip kids would say) this week has been Rome by Danger Mouse and Italian composer Daniele Luppi, which is mostly instrumental with some songs featuring vocals by Jack White and Norah Jones. I’m not that familiar with Luppi, but apparently the inspiration for the team up and album was the two artists’ mutual obsession with master composer Ennio Morricone and 60’s-70’s Italian soundtracks — which is a pretty damn appealing reason for a collaboration, and was why I decided to check it out in the first place. While the album isn’t quite as intensely Morricone-esque as I was hoping for, it is still quite good. And there is definitely a strong Morricone vibe present throughout (more so in some songs than others).
I talk enough about Game of Thrones in our Tag Team Reviews, so I’ll skip that.
I finally got caught up on Season 2 of Archer, which was absolutely genius, and I think may have surpassed Community as my favorite TV comedy of the season (something I never would have predicted). Who would ever expect a cancer storyline to happen on Archer? And a tactfully handled cancer storyline, no less! Bonkers. I also think it was a very smart move to make Archer slightly more competent this season. It seems like a minor tweak, but gags about idiots somehow existing in an important position get old fast and only ever truly work narratively in kids programming, like Inspector Gadget.
Also, on Netflix Instant I’ve been watching the BBC’s The Life of Birds with David Attenborough. Holy shit. If you’re a nature show nerd (which I am, in spades) you gotta see this. Seeing an eagle battle an iguana should be on your bucket list. As should seeing an eagle take down a flamingo. As should seeing two eagles get into an epic midair battle. Hmm. There’s a lot of badass eagle shit in here I guess. There’s some cute stuff too, though.
Who were the weirdos comprising the focus groups that gave high marks to this Teen Wolf ad:
I’m not the target demo for this series, so I suppose my opinions don’t matter whatsoever, but the picture they chose of that kid makes him look like a Neanderthal. I suppose maybe they’re trying to get a bit of that sexy-retard look Taylor Lautner has, but wow. That’s the least attractive looking picture I’ve ever seen of someone who is clearly supposed to be looking attractive to a female/gay audience. Kudos.
Something To Talk About
Here, first watch this funny video from the Alamo Drafthouse…
I don’t like seeing the glowing screen of someone’s phone in the corner of my eye while I’m watching a film. Who does? The girl in that Alamo video is obviously a bit of an idiot, but I also don’t think she’s alone.
I think the inherent idea of not talking on your phone during a movie (something other people are trying to listen to) is universal to anyone with a brain, but I’m beginning to see that there may be a huge generational gap with texting. For one thing, I’ll be honest, if I’m in a sparsely populated movie theater and I feel very confident that I’m not bothering anyone, I may respond to a semi-important text or email during a not particularly engaging film. Considering that I grew up without a cell phone, it’s almost embarrassing how hard it is for me to completely unplug from the outside world. Even for 90 minutes (though I obviously resist in a crowded theater or engaging film). It has to be even more bothersome for kids who have grown up in the post-cell phone world.
Basically, what I’m getting at is — we may be on the losing end of the texting in the theater conflict, in the long run. I think those who care about cinema will always find it annoying, but in the same way that cinefiles find it annoying to see someone doing anything that implies they aren’t focused on the film (eg, digging in a purse, making out, sleeping). Personally, I wish they didn’t serve food at movie theaters. I know, I’m crazy. But to be perfectly honest, I actually find it significantly more annoying hearing someone trying to open a wrapper or endlessly fucking around with the veritable buffet of junk they got for their family than I do seeing the glow of someone’s phone. But I live in a world where most people like having food in theaters. And as today’s kids become tomorrow’s adults I think at some point most people will be of the mind that texting in a theater is no more annoying than texting at the dinner table or at a stoplight or during a meeting (all of which I think we can agree are not awesome ideas, but are pretty common place). Time marches on. I’m not sure this is a battle we can win.
What do you think?