Big

Down down baby, down down the rollercoaster. Sweet sweet baby I’ll never let you go.

I used to know that whole thing. I didn’t even know it was a thing. I just learned it as a patty cake rhyme in second grade. We had a bunch of those. The first time I watched Big, I was shocked to see it here. Less shocked to see that I didn’t know the right words

I figured since Tom Hanks was so soothing for my nerves in Turner & Hooch, I’d revisit another young Tom Hanks movie. One that I’ve seen, but didn’t really know like I should . The bet paid off well enough that last night I ordered a three pack of young Tom Hanks movies for later.

I think we know the plot of this one, even if you’ve never seen it, yeah? Thirteen year old kid wishes to be “big” and wakes up as 30 year old Tom Hanks. That’s as much as anyone ever remembers, but it goes beyond that. He gets a job at a toy company and impresses the big big with his childlike spirit enough to get a high level job. For me, that’s the fun of this movie. Seeing an adult having fun in a grown up world. It’s something I try to do (I mean hello, how often do I go to Disney?) and it brought me joy watching that on screen. Granted, he’s supposed to actually be 13, but it’s not that different. And that’s def the kind of attitude I wanna have over the next few weeks while the world is burning around us.

Turner & Hooch

I made a pretty big mistake last week. I thought it’d be a good idea to have a Saw marathon. 4 movies on Saturday. 4 on Sunday. Normally, I love this sort of thing. I was wicked excited and even came close to starting it a day or two early. But I was adamant to watch them in a set. I got thru the first couple okay, but at some point during 4, that inner ickiness that these movies cause that I typically enjoy (I watch so many movies, I seek out ones that make me feel something) was turning to disgust. Like turn-it-off-it’s-too-much disgust. I’ve never had that reaction before. It wasn’t the gore, but the intention behind it. Given everything going on right now, I didn’t need more of a cynical worldview piling on. I didn’t need John Kramer teaching me to live for the moment.

Yes I know, I titled this Turner and Hooch and I’m talking about Saw. I’m getting to it.

I figured maybe it was just too much for one night, but tomorrow was another day and I’d continue then. After chores were done, I put in 5. I felt some of the same ick–the unpleasant kind. I decided to shift gears and put on Turner and Hooch, and I was so happy for two hours. More in a bit, but that was the easily the most joy I’d felt the whole weekend. I felt ready to attack Saw 6. And everything that T&H built up came crumbling down. I’d not only reached my limit, I’d surpassed it. As OCD as I am about completing things, I was not gonna get to the last two. Movies that take enjoyment from watching the world burn are for when I’m already in a good mood. But when the world’s actually burning, I need something else.

I decided then and there that for the next week, I was implementing a “positivity rule”. Only movies that make me happy in some way. Comedies, nostalgia, lots and lots of Disney. So much of my emotional state can be tied into my entertainment, so self care dictates that I do this. This isn’t even the first time I’ve noticed movies having this effect. Remember when I saw Blinded By the Light on a really bad day, and it stirred up all kinds of shit reminding me of the bad parts of high school instead of being an uplifting film? No no no no not gonna go deeper into that hole this week. Okay so I made an exception to put on Tiger King in the background while working late in the week, but otherwise I pretty much stuck to it.

It was tough pulling out the positive movies at first. I split my watch pile into positive and negative and one pile was several times bigger. But once I got into the swing of it, I did start grabbing appropriate films, and it worked. So with all that intro, we’ll talk about the movie that kicked it off.

Cali started it’s lockdown pretty early in the game. One of the first things I did was raid Best Buy’s Under $5 DVD filter. Grabbed a pile that I still haven’t even gotten thru (there’s a reason most of those are bargain movies, and I’ve been more excited about revisiting things already on the wall). Turner & Hooch was the one I was most excited about. For some reason, I’d never seen it, but I knew it’d be good. I mean c’mon Tom Hanks and a giant dog? Who doesn’t love at least one of those things? If you don’t, then I’m sorry, but we can’t be friends.

Tom’s Turner, a small town cop ready to move on to bigger and better, but first he’s got one last case to solve. The first big case he’s seen in his career in this sleepy Cali community revolves around the murder of a man down by the docks, leaving his giant pooch Hooch orphaned. Hooch is a witness after all (dogs can do anything!) so Turner takes in the large unruly mutt and all his life and plans are turned upside down.

It’s your typical light murder mystery comedy (you know that genre, yeah? That’s a thing?) but Turner and Hooch are what differentiate Turner & Hooch as a film. Hanks is all charisma (duh) and just a joy to watch. And Hooch is a giant puppy, of course he’s the heart of this film. I’ve said multiple times that I don’t mind so much being separated from human interaction these past few weeks, but what I do miss is all the doggos in the office that I’d see every day. Hooch scratched that itch for me just enough for just a moment. Yes I know, I have two cats that I love dearly, but they’re not dogs.

For those two hours, I felt about as good as I had in the past few days, certainly that entire weekend. A good movie will do that. Especially if that good movie has Tom Hanks. And a giant dog

Mother and The Host

Two separate movies. One single post because I don’t know that I can make two substantial ones.

I’d meant for The Host to be the first movie I watched from the Bong Joon-Ho collection. Fairly arbitrary, I think it was just the first one listed. I excitedly put the DVD in at my first opportunity and it didn’t play. Tried again. Took it to the player in the bedroom. FFFFFFF. I tried the other two movies and they played fine (I’d watch Barking Dog later that day). I got Best Buy customer service on the phone (a few hours after signing up for a callback and after a few failed chat attempts). Initially they wanted me to send back the whole set and I’d get a new one when they were in stock in a few weeks. Instead, I talked them into refunding me a third of the purchase price, which was incidentally how much The Host costs by itself anyways. So I ordered the same version that was in the set (it was just a repackaged set, not a new one) and waited.

I watched Mother next, which is one of the ones I’d planned on seeing at Alamo Drafthouse’s Bong Hits series. And I really wish I had seen this in the theater. I tried really hard to stay focused, but I missed things and didn’t quite get the full impact of the story. It also ended up being something completely different from what I expected. As a result, it felt like the film had a smaller impact than it should have.

When I was about 3/4 thru, I looked up the plot synopsis and HOLY BONG I missed so many details. I should have been knocked out cold watching this. I finished the film with the knowledge I should’ve had if I wasn’t so distracted and yeah it was pretty epic. I will certainly need to rewatch this one later.

I had even less luck with watching The Host once it did come in. I think it was just too real for me. It started as a monster movie, but there was a whole quarantine aspect, and nuh uh, I noped out. By noped out, I mean, I kept it on, but was actively doing other things, and since I don’t understand Korean, I really had no clue what was happening. Again, will need to watch this one later. But not yet.

Barking Dogs Never Bite

I’m realizing now that my ambition of posting regularly might not be as easy as I’d hoped. Yes, I’m watching a TON of movies, but not all of them are bloggable. Many, I’ve written up before (Need For Speed, Argo). Others, I might not have paid enough attention to warrant a proper write up (The Matrix sequels, The Host…yes I know I really tried but it was too real). And some things I just don’t care to (History of the World, Pt 1). Right now I’m halfway thru a Saw marathon that I may or may not finish (I think I’ve hit my limit for watching the world burn) but even that, I’ve done before. Even coming up with daily Stardust reactions hasn’t been easy, although I’m more okay with repeats there than here.

I did upgrade my tv a couple days into lockdown. I’d been thinking about going 4K for a bit. My old tv worked perfectly well, but it was just that. Old. Old enough that I don’t think I can actually resell or donate it anywhere worthy once I can take it out my apt. I also wanted to go bigger. I think I went a little too big because it does sometimes hurt my eyes to look at. And if it were even an inch wider, it would not have fit on my entertainment center. Anyways, when I upgraded, I figured that since I was gonna take on some interest free debt for a while, I should throw in a few of the more expensive DVD’s I was eyeing. Didn’t add as many as I would have liked because I forgot to account for tax in my budget, but I did get my number one priority item: The Bong Joon-Ho collection.

I think that’s enough of an intro that I can save the rest of the drama with the box set for the next write up. We’ll just skip to saying that I started with Barking Dogs Never Bite.

Now a disclaimer for me watching foreign films at home. I do get easily distracted if I’m not in a theater. Crochet does help me focus, but it’s harder when I actually need to be reading the subtitles and can’t rely on listening to dialog. I think I did fairly well with this one. Better than with the other films in the collection, but we’ll get to those.

Dogs is Bong Joon-Ho’s debut feature film. Compared to his later, more polished work (which is what I’m most familiar) and of course masterpiece Parasite, it does have an indie vibe to it. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I don’t know how to even describe the story. Most synopsis I find say that it’s about a dude who can’t stand the dog barking in his apartment complex, so he goes to extreme measures to deal with it. That covers about 5 min. In what would soon be established as true Bong Joon-Ho fashion, the story goes many many places from there. Places I wouldn’t expect. Because above all else, Bong is a master story teller, and a master of telling unique stories.

Oh I will say, if you’re an animal lover (as I am), this movie can be a little hard to watch at times. There were a few scenes that were a struggle. Obvi, no animals harmed IRL, but doesn’t make it any easier to see.

I did enjoy the film, but I prolly wouldn’t have needed to watch it if I wasn’t trying to get thru all of Bong’s films. It’s certainly not as epic as some of this later work, but it was a damn good start

The Cornetto Trilogy

Two weeks at home. Honestly, I’m good, for the most part, at least while I’m in the moment. I’ve said before, but I thrive on my own, and I’m very much a homebody so I’ve been enjoying this time with my cats and my movies and myself. If I start thinking about the future and how long theaters will be closed (which will directly impacts the company I work for) and thinking about the disease itself, then I start to experience some existential dread. But for now, we’re good, we’re healthy (Mom in Texas too), and we’re making the best of it.

Starting to settle into some routines. Mile walk around the block-ish in the morning. Work. Lunch break with an episode of Firefly. More work. Another walk. Two movies. I would have liked to get yoga in there, but not on the daily until my asthma is controlled. I think the walking is good anyways. For days off (currently just weekends, but very likely to soon include Wednesdays), I’m making myself be productive in the morning. Clean something. Groceries. Organize things. Whatever. And attempt some yoga. Then I can sit on my ass for the entire afternoon with some crochet and a movie marathon. Part of my productivity morning also includes a blog post. So here we are.

Right as this whole thing started, I raided the 5 dollar filter on Best Buy. I haven’t even touched those movies. Instead, what I’m doing is any time that I think of something that I would enjoy watching, I pull it from my wall and add it to the pile. Then at movie time, I’m picking just from the pile (which runs about 12 deep, plus the new stack). I’m trying to use the opportunity to revisit things that I should know better. One of the first I tackled was The Cornetto Trilogy.

Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End. Written and directed by Edgar Wright. Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and an assortment of other great British actors who appear in some combination of the films. All featuring Cornetto ice cream in some random scene. The internet tells me that Cornetto sent a supply to the filmmakers after its appearance in Shaun. So they added a reference in Hot Fuzz to try and repeat. They didnt follow thru. But they did send in a supply after World’s End.

Here’s my general feeling towards the Cornetto trilogy (pre-last weekend). When I first watched them, my response was “meh”. I didn’t find them as funny as the rest of the world. They just weren’t my style. But they’ve become such a big part of the cultural zeitgeist that I can’t help but notice them. And I do enjoy seeing them in small bits and references. Hell, that’s also how I feel about Scott Pilgrim, so it might just be more my connection to Wright than the UK. I do unequivocally love Baby Driver, tho. Anyways, Cornetto.

First Shaun. I actually have a couple of stories from trying to watch this back in the day. When it was released, it was a big hit back at the ol’ college dorm. Everyone loved it and would talk about it all the time. So when I went home at Christmas, I rented it from Blockbuster (dating myself) to watch with my Daddy. We got about halfway thru the movie, we’re both staring in silence. He eventually breaks it with “Why are we watching this?” “I heard it was funny. Although now I realize I don’t care for British humor” “Yeah me neither” and we sat thru the rest in silence.

Some time later, a hall mate gifts me the DVD for my bday. He’s so proud of himself that he found a movie to buy me that I didn’t already have (if only he could see the movie wall now). I thanked him, but didn’t let on that it wasn’t my thing. A few days later, I put it on while I’m doing some homework (p-sets for the MIT crowd). I usually liked to put on films I didn’t need to pay attention to. He walked by, and got excited I was watching, and sat down with me. I still kept up the charade that it was a great present. That only lasted so long tho. Some time later I was telling some friends about my movie study strategy and he overheard and pieced it together.

How did this second watch go? Much better! I feel like I already knew all of this movie, just out of order, from how many times I’ve seen it referenced. The individual pieces were clever. My expectations were also different. Instead of thinking “OMG this movie’s gonna be hilarious” it was more “oooh this is the part where…” It’s still not quite laugh out loud funny (that’s gonna be a trend) but I could still appreciate its charm. And I fully support it for its originality and place in pop culture.

Moving on to Hot Fuzz. No interesting story from the first watch, cause I don’t even remember it. I bought it cause I felt like I had to. Watched it and didn’t pay attention. I couldn’t have even told you a single thing about it other than Pegg and Frost are cops and there’s likely ice cream somewhere.

This time around, I really did enjoy it as well. I liked the story and the mystery of it very much. While on the surface it seems like the most basic and unoriginal of the three premises, it’s the one that had my attention the most. Again, no real LOL moments, but some light “ha!” here and there. Bonus points for Olivia Colman in the cast, because any movie she’s in is infinitely better.

The World’s End, I’ve actually written up before, because it’s the only one I’ve seen in theaters. That’s prolly why it’s the one that I was the most into, because I was focused in a theater. I also really relate to the first half since I used to go on a pub crawl in Boston every year along the Freedom Trail. The first half of the film brings back some very fun and happy memories.

The rewatch highlighted the big problem with the film tho, which is that for me, the second half is so much weaker than the first half. Once it devolved into what it devolves into (no spoilers) it’s just not as interesting to me anymore. And on this watch I found the characters (mostly Pegg’s) to be kinda obnoxious. I think that comes from seeing the films in rapid succession. They’re clearly trying to differentiate Pegg’s character and take him a little too unlikeable.

Two weeks ago, I would have ranked the trilogy 1-World’s End, 2-Shaun, 3-Hot Fuzz. Now I’d invert that. I liked Hot Fuzz the best, prolly because it was the most unexpected. World’s End just didn’t do anything for me, much like how the other films had previously done.

And with that, I think I’ve fulfilled the blog portion of my productivity goals for the day. I guess I should go clean things now.

Burden

I didn’t go into this expecting it to be the last movie I’d see in theaters for the foreseeable future. I’d had a ticket for The Birdcage the next afternoon at Alamo that I later reconsidered. There were other Drafthouse screenings I was eyeing. I didn’t even really need to see this movie, I could just fit it into my schedule. I’d felt completely comfortable at Drafthouse the night before, so I figured this sleepy little Marina theater would also be appropriate for social distancing. I watched the trailer one more time in bed that morning and confirmed I was interested enough. Not only would it be my last movie, it would be my last non-essential outing for a while.

Garret Hedlund (whom I’ve loved since Four Brothers) has been raised in the deep south, taken in by a man who leads a local KKK chapter. That mentality is all he’s ever known. He starts dating a young woman (Andrea Riseborough) who tries to get him to turn away from that life, including abandoning the KKK museum that his mentor just opened. For help, he turns to an African American pastor (Forrest Whitaker) who has been protesting the museum.

It’s pretty by the numbers. Interesting story (that I didn’t realize was true until the end credits) but not as powerful as I was hoping. Sure, nothing is ever gonna touch American History X on that front, but I still wanted a little more from this. Honestly, the whole experience is dampered for me by what this final trip to the movies meant that I can’t even think too objectively about the film itself.

So yeah, with that, God only knows when I’m next going to the theater. You bet your ass I’ll be there as soon as they reopen, which I hope is quick. Not just because I miss the movies (honestly, as an introvert I’m kinda thriving in my little cave and am perfectly happy to stay here) but because it’s my livelihood. You may recall I’m currently employed by a company that provides software for a large share of theaters across the world. With theaters shut down, they can’t pay their bills, one of which is us. So here’s hoping we all come out together on the other side. If we get to the point where we’re in trouble, I fear it’s indicative of an even larger trouble for the world and country as a whole.

Well I don’t wanna pause this blog on such a bleak note. I am getting in A LOT of movie watching at home (hence why I said I’m thriving here). I don’t have specific blog plans yet, but we’ll see what I’m inspired to write about. I’m sure there’ll be something noteworthy I watch. Until then, stay safe, stay inside, and keep on keeping on.

Bloodshot

Well this is a very different world we’re living in that I’m writing this vs when I saw this movie. It was our first WFH day, as part of an experiment to see how feasible it was. Part way thru the day, we get the order that WFH will continue for everyone for the next two weeks. The next week we’d be told it was indefinite. I opted to make the trek across town to what I did not know then would be my last trip to Alamo Drafthouse for the foreseeable future. Sure, I could go to the AMC’s nearby, but this is why I had my season pass. Until they shut down the theaters, I’d be there (I actually changed my mind on this later that weekend).

The first few “social distancing” orders were going out, so I’d expected the city to be dead. It wasn’t. Traffic still took an hour (not everyone had started WFH yet) and there were plenty of pedestrians to dodge pulling into the parking structure. The theater was closer to empty tho. I had a row to myself and only a couple parties were there. Unsure whether that was due to social distancing or the film itself. I was torn between the healthy food option or the less healthy but more satisfying one. I decided that I should enjoy the junk while I still could (it also would end up being one of my last such meals) and support the theater and staff (I tried to tip a little extra). What about the movie?

I only saw the trailer for this once. Initially, I’d been thinking that “Vin Diesel comic book movie” might be enough to get me to go, but without really knowing what it was or hearing good buzz, it wouldn’t make my must list. Then I did catch the trailer in a theater and hey this story looks interesting. He’s built and trained up as a super soldier and goes rogue to get revenge for his wife’s death. But it’s not all as it seems. The trailer kinda gives away the story, but I hesitate to do so. I feel like it might have been more interesting to discover in the moment.

And this movie could use all the help it could get for being interesting. Cause the word that kept on coming to mind was “bland”. Honestly, I was trying very hard to enjoy the film, but all I could do was judge it. The storytelling was very uneven, stretching out act one for more than half the movie, then rushing thru the rest. Vin Diesel is great tough guy, but he’s not so great when he’s “acting”. I saw him on the late night circuit afterwards being a total goofball, and it made me want to see some of that personality in his work. Nothing’s coming across.

I did like the idea of the super soldiers on his team, and wanted more of them. They were introduced as having these cool abilities and then we hardly saw them used. The action was very run of the mill. A few cool looking effects, but nothing that blew me away. I just wanted more from this film. For something that’s trying to launch a franchise (sidebar: I hate when single films try to launch a franchise without seeing how it goes. Most of the best long running franchises happened because they were just that good and kept going, or they were carefully planned out and rolled out patiently) it’s not putting a very good foot forward to start.

Bloodshot – \m/ \m/

The Hunt

I love a good movie controversy, and this one was a doozy. Shoulda been released months ago, but it’s politically charged story offended people (gasp). So it got pulled. And then rereleased with a great poster that I’d want for my wall if I enjoyed the movie more. Turns out, its bark was more effective than its bite.

The latest take on The Most Dangerous Game pits red vs blue. An assortment of rednecks and deplorables and such are rounded up and set loose on a mysterious manner, where they’re to be hunted by some elite snowflakes. Nobody comes out of this looking good, so obviously you could see why people were upset just from the premise when no one had even seen the movie yet.

There were some things I liked. The humor is pretty twisted. The violence is heavy and unexpected. Betty Gilpin (you may know her from Glow) is fantastic. But overall, it felt like it was trying too hard to be controversial without really knowing what it wanted to say. It’s very much an equal opportunity offender, but didn’t feel like it had much of a mission besides upsetting people. It doesn’t take sides (which could be a good thing if done right) but doesn’t go further than “Hey look at this self righteous person!” “Now look at this one!” I wanted it to give me something to think about, not roll my eyes at.

The Hunt – \m/ \m/ \m/

Near Dark

This is the type of movie I got my Alamo Season Pass for. Something I’ve never seen, but would like to. But don’t NEED to such that I’d spent money on it. I was actually quite proud of how I scored this ticket. The screening had been sold out, as they typically are, for a couple weeks before this Terror Tuesday. I can only use my season pass within seven days of the screening. A day or two before the window opened, I noticed a couple of tickets were released for the two showtimes. There was hope. I happened to wake up at 1 AM one week before the screening. In other words, an hour into the window. I know that I can get up for bathroom and water in the middle of the night and fall back to sleep without issue if I don’t do anything else. If I so much as touch my phone, it’ll take me an hour to crash. I went for it. Got the very last ticket for the (preferred) early screening. Fell back to sleep an hour later.

So what exactly is this movie that I was willing to sacrifice an hour of sleep (but not sixteen bucks) for? It’s a 1987 vampire movie (oh okay, ’nuff said), horror western mashup by Kathryn Bigelow with Bill Paxton. What?! Yeah okay makes sense now.

Heroes’ Adrian Pasdar is a young cowboy type living in small town Texas. He meets a pretty young thing who whisks him away and bites his neck. Now he’s a vampire, and he joins his PYT’s gang which also includes Paxton, a kid vampire, and a few other motley vampires. Meanwhile his father and sister are on the trail, trying to bring him home. This movie moves fast. 90 minutes. Jumps right in. Doesn’t stop. Keeps it simple. A little too simple for me tho, I felt like it could have used a little more going on.

By far, the best part of this film was Bill Paxton’s Severin. He joins the elite ranks of vampire bad boys with Lestat, Spike, Damon Salvatore, David, and others that we love even though we know they wouldn’t give a rip about us. He is all swagger and one liners and I wanted so so much more from him. Alas, this wasn’t his movie. It was Pasdar’s Caleb, who is your tortured vamp. Think Louis or Angel or Stefan or oh god Edward. The tortured vamp usually is the one that makes it interesting, bringing up the moral conflict and complications, but he was pretty straightfoward. True, he just seems cookie cutter now that so many more have followed, but except for the twang, I don’t know that he particularly stands out.

As far as vampire movies go, it was fun, but nothing really wowed me. At least not while I was watching. As per usual, I went thru IMDB trivia afterwards and read up on the aesthetics and strategy of it. There is a lot of blend of western, not just the setting but the character tropes. The vampire lore is very muted. The “V” word is never said. Some basics are established (sunlight, drinking blood, impervious to human weapons) but other basics are never explored. This is why I love collecting vampire films. I love seeing how they handle the mythology in their world, and this does feel different from the others. I just wish it excited me more

Emma.

I wasn’t gonna see this. Period pieces aren’t my thing. But I decided that if the stars aligned just right, I would. They did. There is one reason I was specifically interested in Emma and that’s that I absolutely love Clueless. I’ve long since heard that Clueless was based on Emma, and I’ve always been curious about how that worked. I was finally gonna answer that question.

Played by Anya Taylor-Joy, Emma is a handsome, clever, and rich young English lady. Her joy is in making romantic matches between her friends and acquaintances, without giving much thought to her own prospects. She’s taken a young friend Harriet under her wing as her latest project, and soon finds that love is more complicated than she would have thought.

Okay so Emma is Cher, she’s super close to her Dad, Harriet is Tai. I identified Josh, Elton, Travis, Miss Guiest and Mr Hall. Just from the intro describing Emma I realized that yes she absolutely is completely Cher. The Harriet storyline plays out almost identical to Tai, from the whole thing with Elton (including him taking her portrait) to dancing with the Josh character, all of it. The basic story really does translate to modern times so well, and I’m impressed with the adaptation.

But Clueless aside, what about Emma? Still not my thing. It’s only because I knew Clueless so well that I could tell what was going on and what it likely meant. I was kinda bored and jokes were going over my head. The rest of the audience seemed to enjoy it. There was laughter and a general vibe of merriment, but mostly just “huh?” from me. Granted, I was at first distracted by what should have been a Southwest Chicken bowl that was actually nachos. Then I was distracted by trying to undo the velcro on my knee brace as quietly as possible.

The film ultimately did grow on me as we got towards the end, mostly because I was happy at seeing how it all came back together into something familiar. And it looked great. The costumes and production design overall are exquisite. Was also impressed with Anya Taylor-Joy. I thought it’d be weird seeing her in a bubbly and joyful film (as opposed to something creepy like The VVitch or Split), but she fit the world and character better than I expected. It’s just not my genre. And that’s fine. It was clearly somebody’s

Emma. – \m/ \m/ \n