|DVRfest 2012 (11.09.12 - 11.11.12, 9 movies)|
|11.09.12||The Descendants||Alexander Payne||The story of DVRfest 2012, the eighth of its kind, consisting of 9 parts|
This year's DVRfest is different from the last few years. For one: I remembered it was happening. And because of that, Molly decided to leave town rather than spend all weekend watching movies. SO, I have all of Friday and Saturday to myself. Just me, a pile of junk food, and a DVR that's 82% full.
The only catch is that there's this video game called Dishonored that's really good and gorgeous and with all this boy-alone time it's a pretty heavy battle between movies and video games being waged in my head. Even now as I sit at the computer to write this, the Steam icon is glimmering in my system tray, beckoning me to it. I have to admit that most of Friday night was conceded to gaming. I did finally tear myself away to watch a movie though, thus officially begins the fest!
The Descendants is Alexander Payne doing a movie in Hawaii. I know Clooney's performance is good and it's a pretty dreary story but... a lot of the movie felt like a vacation for the filmmakers. Maybe that's my own baggage but whatever.
I guess it was good. It kind of left me cold. Seems like a movie that's destined to be overrated.
Let's see if I can fit one more in tonight before passing out, then tomorrow is movies from the moment I wake up.
|11.09.12||A Night at the Movies: The Horrors of Stephen King||Laurent Bouzereau||My plan for tomorrow's matinee/daytime triple feature is a trio of classic Universal horror movies that I, for whatever reason, never saw. I thought it would be a fitting introduction to watch this 75-minute TCM doc about Stephen King talking about movies he loved growing up as a primer. I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd seen this before though and maybe didn't log it because it's a TV production but whatever... I watched it again for the first time.|
Basically it's a single interview with Stephen King that they made into a feature by overalying stills and clips from the movies he talks about. I'm a pretty big fan of King's book Danse Macabre where he talks about some of these movies and generally think that his taste in horror movies is ok... certainly very informed although not perfect. Anyway, this doc kind of sticks to the mainstream expected classics and I didn't really get any new films out of it to add to the list (If I hear one more guy talk about the pool sequence in The Cat People!), but it was a nice little thing to watch as I drifted off to sleep and this morning I'm energized to power through these next three classics.
|11.10.12||The Mummy||Karl Freund||OK so gaming one a minor skirmish this morning. I'm not getting going until 11:30. Sigh.|
Also, I just want to say that it's like the biggest movie geek comfort blanket to see Robert Osbourne appear on the screen to talk about the movie I'm about to watch. I will be absolutely crushed the day he dies because he's been "that old guy on TCM" forever now and he's still chugging along with the nice little anecdotes and movie trivia in between features. I don't think I'm alone in saying, for anyone who's watched a significant number of movies off TCM, that he's just the best. I had no idea that The Mummy was directed by the guy who DP'd Metropolis and would later give up directing and go back to shooting movies like Key Largo! That's great! Thanks, Robert!
Anyway, The Mummy. Karloff in fake wrinkles.
Girl: How could you open that horrid tomb?
Boy: Had to! Science, you know!
Most of what I got from this is a sense of historic adventure that this movie was probably made as a reaction or play to the still-relatively-new events of King Tut's tomb discovery and the ensuing curse. I mean, this was made in the early thirties. During the prologue when it says it's 1927, that's just a few years ago. All the Egyptian artifacts and archaeology and everything else was new to most moviegoers and probably in vogue due to Tutankhamen. Isn't that crazy to think about!? It kind of put a preoccupying layer over the whole movie for me...
...which is good because I didn't get much more out of it. I mean, that's a bit harsh. Karloff is good (although I've never seen a more mummy-like dude than his "disguise" as modern-day Egyptian Ardath Bey) and I liked how they used a very subtle effect of filling the whites of his eyes with light to show hypnotism. But I feel like I've seen all these classic Universal horror movies before even if I haven't so for me this is just a bit of housekeeping. For that reason I'm going from most familiar to least in my triple feature in hopes that the last one will hold my interest in more ways than completionist checkboxing.
|11.10.12||The Wolf Man||George Waggner||Lon Chaney Jr. (with perfect hair) plays Larry Talbot... wolf man! It's funny these days to have everyone in the movie be so naïve. The same went for Karloff slouching around as a non-mummy in the last movie. The concept of a real werewolf is so far-fetched for everybody to actually believe that they continue to insist that there's a real killer wolf on the loose AND Larry's just going insane. But everybody knows the werewolf legend... kind of confusing. Anyway, dude turned into a wolf and killed a few people.|
I am glad to finally be watching these. Hopefully these notes don't sound too negative. I love all the little things that place these films in the 30s and early 40s like how all they need to set up the movie is a single screen of text followed by a process shot of two guys in the car saying "look, there's Castle Talbot!" or how the film literally dumps to the End screen. Some studio exec somewhere says "The wolf man's dad, what else is there to say!? Just end it" and so the editor does just that. And the plastic trees in the forest and all the dry ice fog and low key lighting and really everything about the movie except the plot, make-up, and Lon Chaney's acting I deeply love. It's great to see Claude Rains in a movie like this two years after Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and one year before Casablanca. Speaking of Rains...
|11.10.12||The Invisible Man||James Whale||Claude Rains gives an incredible performance with pretty much just his voice in this. I know I'm not saying anything new but It's quite remarkable to watch this after the previous two and realize just what a grasp that James Whale had on this kind of picture. The effects are great, the script is tight, Rains is legitimately nutso, and most of all it's funny. The beginning especially with all the villagers and the innkeeper couple. There's just a tiny piece of business when the innkeeper lady goes to prep the room for Rains where she raises like 4 hinged bar pieces in a row that I found particularly funny.|
So this was good fun. I'm glad I saved it for third. I liked it the most by far.
So that finishes up my Universal Horror triple feature. The rest of the stuff on my DVR is dumb comedy so I may switch to Netflix as the night goes on... but what the hell, let's indulge once or twice.
|11.10.12||Our Idiot Brother||Jesse Paretz||Well that wasn't a dumb comedy at all! Maybe that's why this movie had such a negative reception? Aside from the whole brother-fixing-everything thing being a bit too on the nose, this felt much closer to a Nicole Holofcener movie than Judd Apatow. Maybe she comes to mind just because there's sisters and Emily Mortimer has body issues... I guess the separate sisters' issues are kind of shallow... so this is Holofcener-light, but still. The amazing cast along with it not being funny (until the end; I feel like Rudd's and TJ Miller's riffing on recycled candles was well-earned and hilarious) and having a legitimately heartfelt moment in Willy Nelson's emancipation really pleasantly surprised me. I liked it quite a bit.|
Well it's dark out but I'm still going strong so let's see how many more movies I can pack in tonight. There's no doubt in my mind that the next movie will be dumb comedy.
|11.10.12||Little Fockers||Paul Weitz||Yep that was dumb. Total paycheck movie, right? At least everyone came back. What's Teri Polo been doing? Anyway... uhhh... not really too much to say about this one. Expected, mediocre, tired... things that were quirky little moments in the first (like Owen Wilson's character) are now blown out satires of themselves... Even the second was borderline too ridiculous but at least Streisand and Hoffman were worth watching. This felt a lot like American Reunion to me. Moving on.|
Aaand another battle lost to gaming. In my meager defense, I only have one more movie on my schedule and it's a midnight movie and it wasn't midnight yet. That's justifiable in some kind of way, right? It's midnight now though so let's all watch...
|11.10.12||Repo Man||Alex Cox||If you're a close follower of this festival (read: if you're me), you may know that every year I try and include one movie that I've seen before. For the most part this is a festival of discovery (or in recent years catch-up) but I like to have a safe bet slipped away to pull out at a good time. This year it's Repo Man: a movie I saw once when I was a kid because my friend's mom recommended it. My sole memory is of Emilio Estevez with a flat-top putting a price sticker on some kid's glasses. I also remember that I thought it was really weird and not at all like the other Emilio Estevez movies that I was liking at the time like The Outsiders and Maximum Overdrive. Anyway, we rented it and I watched it with my mom and dad and I remember laying on the carpet feeling the intense burning dislike radiating from behind me. I was afraid to turn around and after it was over I felt like I had to say how weird it was just to agree with them. Truth be told I had no idea what to think about the movie... and I'm about to find out now!|
Pretty much loved it. Man parts of LA were a shithole back then and probably are even worse now. I feel like not many movies shot these parts of LA back then. It also features what feel like authentic punks. FEAR t-shirts and shared housing and all. But it's not quite reality. All the generic food and drink packaging and the lady with the bionic hand and other small touches makes it seem a little bizarre and out of place. So it's very timely and timeless. For some reason I get a big Western vibe from it too (probably the music but also the sunset/rise shots).
The movie IS weird, but it's a really cool kind of weird. Loved the ending. Loved how Harry Dean Stanton would rather die on his feet than live on his knees. Loved how all of a sudden there was a SWAT guy in the hospital room. It's all really great and I'm glad I gave it another watch.
Checking imdb, it looks like Alex Cox is still chugging away making movies. I wonder if any of them are any good.
It's now Sunday morning and the harsh morning light has washed away my Lost Weekend of gaming and movie-watching. The DVR is almost empty and Molly is back. Things I've learned from spending a couple days in the house alone: I'm a slovenly bastard who leaves trash everywhere like a baby and I rely on societal pressures to brush my teeth. Fortunately, the lady is back and order has been restored. As a little bonus epilogue, Molly watched the last movie on the DVR with me. Something I've had on the DVR for about 10 months.
|11.11.12||Your Highness||David Gordon Green||I kept hearing how incredibly terrible this movie was so we put it off and put it off forever. I'm glad she was up for watching this though because that's exactly what DVRfest is all about so we finally sat down and gave it a try. To my slight surprise, it's not as bad as movies like Year One which I thought it would be.|
Instead of trying to be a comedy and failing, they aimed for that uneven mix of genres like how Pineapple Express was kind of a crime thriller but also a comedy. This is mostly a medieval adventure but also a comedy. It's not hilarious or really that funny at all but it still has stupid weed references and sex jokes and modern language mixed in with the period stuff. It's helped along by a good supporting cast (The baggage that Damien Lewis and Toby Jones and Charles Dance brings with them help a lot) and pretty early on I decided that this movie is the execution of a weekend D&D session from when Danny McBride and Ben Best were kids. Like this is the movie going on in their heads as David Gordon Green is DM-ing their session and leading them on this quest, and the characters say the RPG-ish things that Danny and Ben say, including the stupid high school stuff that they think is cool like having their D&D character smoke weed or whatever.
Seen through that lens, this is a pretty sweet movie. I know when I was in high school going through my D&D phase, I badly wanted to see something fantasy-related on screen. I watched everything I could get my hands on, some good (Dragonslayer, Conan), most terrible (Beastmaster, Sword and Sorcerer, The Barbarians). There was even a D&D boardgame that came with a VHS tape that we watched that was really really crappy but at least it said "Beholder." In college when the D&D movie actually came out I saw it and was disappointed. Here finally is a decent D&D movie as long as you see it that way. I guess if you don't it's pretty terrible.
It's surprisingly expensive. All these elaborate practical sets and tons of vfx shots. It feels like a mistake while I'm watching it like there's no way this movie will ever make money but I also kind of like that about the movie... someone got away with something. Hopefully those involved creatively with the movie feel like it was a gift rather than a letdown. I didn't hate this. It is a weird mix of genres that probably doesn't work for most, but oh well. I like movies that aren't for everyone. Certainly James Franco's zeal for the role is pretty cool. It only works if he gives it 100% and he really does. I was expecting worse.
Well that wraps up DVRfest 2012! I'm just about at the halfway point to Peter Bogdanovich's record and have to say that I'm pretty impressed with myself for keeping this going as long as I have. *pats self on back for 15 minutes* Yeah, that feels good. Hopefully in the large-scale trend department I'll one day sway a little more back toward the volume that I used to watch and away from the last handful of lean years. I'll probably never see 700 movies a year again (unless I strike it rich with my awesome edible whisky stone invention) but maybe my gaming and reading and tv- and movie- watching habits will one day even out into more moderation for all. I've felt like the last couple years have definitely been gaming-centric (as evidenced by the constant battle this weekend), but who knows. I used to be really really into swing dancing and I never do that anymore.
If I had the time and inclination to ever update the codebase of this site or even redesign it completely, I would make the genre and director fields multiple choice. I feel like Drama and Comedy are the buckets I put movies in when I can't decide on a subgenre when really all Dark Comedies should also be Comedies and things like that. Also, movies with multiple directors kind of get screwed here because it's just a single string search of two names with a comma so if they do movies separately, the one they do together doesn't get counted (hence why it's Joel Coen instead of both Joel and Ethan). There's just a few things that aren't perfect, and the codebase as a whole is pretty damn old these days. Oh well. Let's see where I stand a year from now. For now it's back to Dishonored and Treme.
The ugly stats behind this year: 9 in the past week for a 1.29/day average (thanks, DVRfest), 11 in the past month for a 0.37/day average, 125 in the past year for a 0.34/day average, and a global total of 2363 at a 0.81/day average. Oliver Stone (14), Werner Herzog (12), and Joel Coen (10) top my directors list, Netflix (482), Alamo South Lamar (304), and DVD (240) top my venues list, Snakes on a Plane (11), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (4), and Sin City (4) top my movies list. Comedy (218), Drama (196), and Documentary (193) top my genre list.