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Archive for October, 2008

Like George Washington, I simply cannot tell a lie (ha!) and I really have to admit that if we’re not counting Christmas, Halloween is my favorite holiday.   As a kid it’s all about having a great costume and coming home with enough candy to give yourself diabetes just by looking at your haul.   As an adult, I’ve found a certain appreciation for a day that celebrates anything spooky and more importantly, gives me showings of great horror movies on television almost non-stop for one full day.

Consequently, I’m sorta taking the night off to finish up a viewing of Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-A-Rama (Linnea Quigley has been in some awesomely bad flicks, you guys) and I’m about to pop in one of my favorite Halloween movies, The Nightmare Before Christmas.   Cliché, yes, but I love everything about that movie…particularly Lock, Shock and Barrel.

So, squawk at me for a few minutes, and tell me your favorite movies to watch on Halloween and your favorite things to do.   Am I the only one that enjoys giving candy out to little kids and curling up on the couch with Rocky Horror Picture Show on Halloween night?

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If you haven’t seen The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, haul ass to Netflix and rent it.   It is, in my uninformed, completely low-brow opinion, one of the best movies ever made.

That’s one of my favorite scenes in the movie and I think it tells you a lot more about the story and the quality of the film rather than me rambling on and on about it.

Think of it as Movie Blogger Show and Tell.   Without so much of the tell.

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Here’s where I get serious and also pose a question to you readers.

The Stendhal Syndrome is the story of Anna, an Italian policewoman who is hunting a serial rapist.   Anna has a somewhat serious problem:   she suffers from Stendhal Syndrome, a disorder that causes people to pass out upon viewing especially stirring and/or gorgeous works of art.    The rapist she’s tracking instead tracks her, following her to an art gallery where she passes out, leading him to take advantage of the situation.   What follows is a sick game of bizarro cat and mouse, culminating in a final showdown between Anna and the rapist.

Dear Dario Argento:

I couldn’t make it through your movie.   Too many graphic scenes of torture and rape sidetracked me along with crappy dialogue and bad acting.    I swore after Cannibal Holocaust that I would never force myself to finish a movie that deeply, deeply upset me and after watching you highlight the sheer brutality of rape – albeit for different reasons than Cannibal Holocaust – I just gave up.

There are many things in this world I can watch and I can handle but graphic, repeated rape scenes are not one of them.

It’s a movie relationship dealbreaker, Dario.   Thank you but NO THANKS.

-Me

P.S.:  Please stop casting your daughter in movies where she takes off her clothes/is involved in sexual situations/has a bunch of nudity.   That really, really bothers me.

P.P.S.:  No more movies about rape, Dario.

And now the question to you readers:   Do you guys react this strongly to rape scenes, or is just me?   I loathe rapes portrayed on film and it’s a big reason why I’ve never seen I Spit On Your Grave.   I know it’s a touchy subject, but feel free to drop your opinions in the comments.

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To every yin there is a yang, yes?

I was out of high school and vaguely kind of discovering what it was like to not be there.    A good friend of mine had run off to Los Angeles for a while to try his hand at acting and had come home to Texas with a handful of interesting stories and a good-natured shrug at having tried his hand at Hollywood.

We saw quite a few movies together on a pretty regular basis and I got a call one night:  “Hey, what are you doing tonight?  I got tickets to a sneak preview of some English zombie movie.”

Very seldom do I find movies laugh out loud funny, but Shaun of the Dead is an exception.   Even more seldom is finding an audience in tune with the humor.   While a different friend and I laughed ourselves silly at Team America: World Police, the few moviegoers in our theater gradually shuffled out during the movie, disgusted and unamused.    From the moment the very first scene rolled, it was freaky – like the audience was perfectly in mental sync with the movie and other patrons around them, giggling and smirking at all the right parts.

It was pretty much the most involved movie showing I’ve ever attended.   Everyone was polite, quiet and no screaming children were causing a ruckus anywhere; attendees sipped on Cokes and munched Twizzlers with aplomb while totally getting IT, whatever IT may be.  I don’t think I’ve ever attended a movie showing where the people in the theater were so good-natured, polite and had a fantastic sense of humor.

I have often thought that this effortlessly contributed to the warm, fuzzy feelings I have for Shaun of the Dead, but walking out of that theater was like walking out of a good version of the Twilight Zone.

Often, when I find myself in packed late showings of films where I’m squeezed in next to Mr. Wide Stance on one side and the guy behind me is slobbering popcorn kernels into my hair and the lady in the front row brought her two year old to an R-rated movie, I wish it were possible to go back.   They really should just have a “cool people” movie theater.

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Having reminisced fondly with a friend about this just the other day, I figured I’d write it down for posterity and all.

I like to give bad news first, so let’s start with the worst movie screening of my life.

I was in high school and Star Wars:  Episode II was opening.    On a dull Friday night, three friends and I trooped down to our favorite cineplex a few miles away to take in the utter travesty that is Attack of the Clones.   We had entrusted the ticket buying to a friend, who we’ll call Jennie, for argument’s sake, who dutifully bought the last four tickets in a particular showing.   “Wow!” said one friend, “That’s packed!”

“Well, it’s a Star Wars movie,” said another, shrugging his shoulders.

Jennie had virtually no idea of what the hell all this was about:   She had never even seen Star Wars.   At all.

The last thing I remember clearly before the adrenaline pumping into my heart full-force from sheer and utter terror was walking into the line they had set up for the theater and realizing that someone, somewhere had made a massive mistake.

We were the only folks not dressed up.

I’ve gone to many a movie showing – Rocky Horror, various Harry Potter films, and other Star Wars screenings where anywhere from 15 to 75% of the audience was in costume.   But we were the only people that did not look like this:

The gaggle of men in front of us were dressed up as Jedis, so I vaguely remember someone striking up a conversation with them and finding out that we had managed to get the last four tickets to what was the Official Star Wars Convention showing for the Star Wars convention that had rolled into town.

No big deal, right?

Except I start seeing these guys in ILM shirts walking past the line and just cutting into the theater!   NOT FAIR!   I remember there being discussion amongst us about who those jokers were and how they got to pick the best seats first until something happened that I can only describe as a mass StarWargasm.   Peter Mayhew walked by, followed by the dude who was in the R2D2 costume during the first three movies.   And the little kid that played Jango Fett in the new movies.   (Hell if I know, I’m not terrifically fond of Star Wars in the first place.)

It was like a throng of geeks exploded into furious rapture, oohing and ahhing at the sight of a seven foot man who could pass for Death himself followed by a gentle looking little person and then collectively swooning into each other’s arms as Jango Fett kid passed by, climaxing in a glorious typhoon of united geekery and nerdom.

It was, essentially, the most odd thing I had ever seen.

After the StarWargasm had passed, the geeks began to outgeek each other.   Now, look:   I’m the first to profess my geekery at any stage of the game.   I’m a girl who would much rather watch Predator for the 8,000th time than any Julia Roberts movie.   I’m a girl who when she found out they were auctioning off the velociraptors used in the Jurassic Park movie prayed to God that $60+ K would fall in her lap so she could buy a velociraptor, put it on wheels and take it every where with her.   But this….this was something new, strange, and completely unparalleled in my world-view.

People began opening crates (yes, crates) of toys collected over decades, carefully mounted to fold out into a complete special display that would fold inwards when closed into a protective egg-crate foam inside.   I saw people dressed up as Twileks, Jedis, Stormtroopers, you name it:   they were there.

We got a lot of weird looks.

Eventually they started letting us into the theater and our small group of friends glanced nervously at one another.    A small group of guys who looked like they were accountants by day, Jedis by night, shuffled into the row in front of us.    They struck up quiet conversation amongst each other but quickly butted into ours, joking endlessly about Yoda for some reason.   I kept my head down until:

“Weren’t you at the Babylon Five convention?”

One, lone Accountant cum Jedi Extraordinaire had turned around, his finger pointed, accusing me of something.   I had no idea what he was talking about.

“Excuse me?”

“You were AT the Babylon Five convention.”

“I … don’t think so.   I don’t even know what Babylon Five is.”

After five minutes of arguing, said Jedi reseated himself comfortably, mumbling discontentedly to himself about how I totally was at that convention and he had totally given me his phone number and I had never called him.

Terrified now, I slunk into my seat, only to be horror-stricken at Jennie’s outburst.

Jennie, for the record, is a funny lady.   I haven’t seen or heard from her in years but I remember vaguely the two guys we were with and myself giving her patently clear instructions:   If you don’t know about something, ask us after the movie.   If you don’t understand, want clarification, or generally are ignorant of Star Wars in general, ask us later.   The feeding frenzy I could imagine at Jennie naively asking a Stormtrooper what they were dressed up as could not serve anyone well.

It was one of those horrifying moments where everything seems to slow down, time stands still and you turn red at the mere memory of it.   I can still hear her question echoing through that theater:   “What’s a Jedi?”

It was like chumming for sharks; quickly, the nerdiest of the nerds encircled her, rapturously prosletyzing about The Force and the Skywalkers and the Empire versus the Rebellion; the great love story of Han Solo and Princess Leia and the triumph of GOOD OVER EVIL, and oh by the way…would Jennie like to come to their convention?

Then their shifty focus turned to us, imploring us, pleading with us, telling us we needed to come to their convention:  it was a bargain price of only $100+ dollars and we’d be happily welcomed as new recruits to the fold.

If I hadn’t been primarily sure that they would’ve dragged me, kicking, screaming and crying back into the theater, I would’ve run screaming from the theater.  I’ve had better luck kicking Jehovah’s Witnesses off my lawn.

I don’t remember much of the movie.  I do remember a lot of zealous screaming and fist-pumping.   I do remember Mr. Babylon Five voicing his displeasure at me not having called him on my way out of the theater.   And I distinctly do remember pulling the covers over my head in bed that night, afraid that bearded, glasses-wearing Jedis were going to come popping out from under my bed, handing me religious tracts on the powers of the Force and how I could use it for good.

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You’ve only got a few days left to get in your nominees for Worst Movie Ever for me to review for the next Reader’s Choice that starts on November 1st.

I’m dutifully preparing by watching comfort movies well in advance (tonight?  Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) to gear my mind up for the slew of awful that will be entering my brain shortly.

Feel free to leave comments here with recommendations; if you need to check the original post, it’s here.

And because I’m a sneaky snake, let’s add in one more thing while we’re here:   How do you guys feel about me putting up ads on the site?   Yay or nay?   I ask only because for the site’s birthday, I think I’m going to buy my own snazzy domain name and move to my own hosting, yay!   (That’s in February, but it’s never too early to start thinking ahead, eh?)

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In all actuality, I saw parts of Gothic when I was about twelve.

I felt conflicted on this one; on one hand, I hate the fact that it feels shoddily made and is…well…pretty crappy. However, my inner twelve year old screams at me: “But this is why you like Gabriel Byrne so much!”

12 Year Old Me: Self, Gabriel Byrne is wayyyy hot. I mean, hot with two t’s.  HOTT.

Me, Now: Concurred, self, but still. Did you watch this movie?

12 Year Old Me: Most of the beginning. It was on too late for me to finish. But it’s pretty! It’s got fun costumes and it’s set in a big house and…GABRIEL BYRNE.

Me, Now: Yeah, you’re also spending time in Science class doodling on your Backstreet Boys photos you have pasted in your notebook.

12 Year Old Me: Oh, that is SO UNFAIR. They are soooo awesome.

Me, Now: In a retro, nostalgic sense, yeah. Did you notice that this movie makes NO SENSE? Also, it’s not based much in any sense of historical FACT, other than the true story that Percy Shelley, the future Mrs. Shelley, Lord Byron and some crazy chick actually spent a night telling ghost stories and that’s when Mary Shelley came up with Frankenstein? I think the hallucinogenic drugs and rampant sex bits were added to “spice up the story”, if you know what I mean.   Also, everyone looks like they’re suffering from consumption in this one.   No good, makeup department, no good.

12 Year Old Me: There were drugs in this? And…SEX?!?!

Me, Now: Yeah, and not just drugs in the sense that the director overloaded on LSD before he made this. Like, they’re supposed to be taking actual drugs.  And running around Lord Byron’s crazy ass house and imagining things.   …And getting randomly naked.

12 Year Old Me: BUT, GABRIEL BYRNE.

Me, Now: It also looks like they used steel wool on the final film print. The movie looks, just from an aesthetic standpoint, like crap.   Plus, the acting is atrocious.    Trust me, self, wait five years when you see the Argento version of Phantom of the Opera and you will internally roll your eyes at Julian Sands forever.   FOREVER.   Even Natasha Richardson is total crap.    And the entire movie is so dark, you can barely see anything.   It’s just a metric ton of awful.   Really.   Even at twelve,  I had some measure of taste.

12 Year Old Me: GABRIEL BYRNE.

Me, Now: SHUT UP, I HAD TO SEE JULIAN SANDS’ BARE ASS IN THIS ONE AND THE MOVIE DOESN’T EVEN MAKE SENSE. I WILL NOT HEAR THESE EXCUSES, TWELVE YEAR OLD SELF.

12 Year Old Me: Gabriel Byrne?

Me, Now: Oh, uncle. I give up.

It’s awful, but…GABRIEL BYRNE.

Sigh.

Some fights, you just can’t win.

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