Author Topic: Home Video  (Read 9365 times)

Offline The_Scientist

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Home Video
« on: November 08, 2009, 05:03:09 PM »
FG and I saw Anvil! The Story of Anvil a while back.  It's a bit like a real-life Spinal Tap. 

Anvil was a heavy metal band which had a moment in the sun in the early 80's, and attracted a cult following that included members of Slayer, Anthrax and Metallica.  But while those bands went on to fame and fortune, Anvil never did.  Bad management, bad marketing, fickle fans, capricious music business, take your pick of reasons, but they went into a painfully long and slow decline. 

Most bands in this situation would cut their losses and find something else to do, but the two guys who started Anvil made a pact in high school to rock out together forever, and they stayed true to their word, even though they're now in their 50's and playing little clubs to a dwindling fan base.  They keep getting just enough success to keep them going, but no more.

Over the course of the movie, they tour Europe with comically bad results, record a new album they can't release (no record label will take a chance on them), and play a festival in Japan where they go on at 11 am.  You find yourself rooting for them even though you sense the futility of their efforts.  They aren't saints by any means, and they probably wouldn't know what to do with fame if it ever did come, but the pure single-minded pursuit has become an end in itself.  Weirdly they are heroes, just not with guitars.
"Crayons taste like purple" - Tardy the Turtle

Offline The_Scientist

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Re: Home Video
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2009, 04:31:49 PM »
Now that the weather is turning, home video is a more attractive way to pass an evening.  We rented Shopgirl, a film that FG had seen when it came out about four years ago, but I missed.  I can't understand why, since I have been a Steve Martin fan from way back, and I absolutely love his writing style. 

This is Steve in serious mode, which some still can't accept (for them there are the Pink Panther remakes, ugh).  It plays as much as therapy for Steve as it does a drama about a lonely twenty-something woman working the glove department desk at Saks in LA.  She decides to break out of her solitude with a self-absorbed artist about her age with weirdly comic results.  Just when she's wondering if this is really what she wants, a much older, wealthier man (Steve himself) starts showing interest in her.  He is generous with his money but not his emotions.  He deliberately keeps her at arm's length, but gives her just enough attention and affection to keep her coming back, all the while rationalizing his behavior.

FG has some experience with this type of relationship, and she says this portayal is completely accurate.  Since I have never been rich or involved with someone half my age, I'll take her word for it.  As for the movie, I'm glad I saw it, but I understand why it failed at the box office.  Like some of his more serious work (Pennies From Heaven, Leap of Faith) it's downbeat and melancholy.  People still want him to be the Wild and Crazy Guy.  If you think that's frustrating for him, read his memoir about his standup days.
"Crayons taste like purple" - Tardy the Turtle

Offline The_Scientist

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Re: Home Video
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2009, 11:01:04 AM »
As a Christmas night activity FG started a duck confit followed by combined duck/chicken stock and corresponding cracklings.  While that brewed away, we watched Up.  I was a huge fan of WALL-E, and was eager to see Pixar's follow-up.  It was cute and highly entertaining, though not the equal of WALL-E.

The first ten minutes had us both grinning and teary as it related the back story of Carl and Ellie's meeting and lifelong love affair.  As newlyweds we are already wondering how we will cope if and when one of us goes before the other, and this story hit home.

Otherwise it's a pretty straightforward adventure story with a kid sidekick, exotic locale and talking animals.  It was nice to see that the dogs who could talk thanks to technological mumbo-jumbo still thought and acted like dogs (SQUIRREL!)  FG actually prefers her animated features with anthropomorphized animals rather than anthropomorphized robots.  Somehow that's more believable to her.  ???  If you haven't seen it yet, see WALL-E first and decide for yourself who's right (hint: it's me).
"Crayons taste like purple" - Tardy the Turtle

Offline The_Scientist

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Re: Home Video
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2010, 10:05:14 AM »
Yesterday FG and I were debating which food-related movies were out there, which we had seen, and which were worth seeing.  Considering everyone eats, it's remarkable how few there are.

One I hadn't seen was Babette's Feast, so we rented it.  Amazingly our local Blockbuster had it.  It's the kind of movie they don't make much anymore: slow pacing, lots of exposition, characters who might actually exist in the real world.  It's about a Danish village in the 1800's where everyone is a Puritan practicing self-denial and prayerfulness.  The one outsider is a French maid who fled the country in the wake of civil upheaval.  One night at a special gathering she prepares a meal unlike anything they have seen, and it sparks first recoiling, and then delight, and then a kind of euphoria.

What I liked is that these people are not portrayed as villains, like religious devotees usually are.  They are products of their times, perhaps a bit misguided in some of their notions, but struggling like everyone else to find a place in the world.  They are still fundamentally the same at the end, just happier.

Any foodie should see this if only for the climactic dinner scene.  Really, really French.
"Crayons taste like purple" - Tardy the Turtle

Offline The_Scientist

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Re: Home Video
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2010, 01:17:07 PM »
I should also mention Tampopo, which we saw a few weeks ago.  It was all new to us even though it's about 25 years old, and FG rented it on the recommendation of an old friend who now lives in Japan.  It's very Japanese in its approach to food, obsessive about every little detail, throwing all sorts of influences from other cultures into the mix, and adding some strange eroticism as well.  Food geeks, this is the movie for you.
"Crayons taste like purple" - Tardy the Turtle

Offline Jmolinari

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Re: Home Video
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2010, 02:03:07 PM »
tampopo is great...and very weird

Offline Melomom

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Re: Home Video
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2010, 02:22:59 PM »
Eat Drink Man Woman and Big Night, of course.  And Julie & Julia, if you didn't see it in the theater last fall.

Offline The_Scientist

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Re: Home Video
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2010, 04:36:06 PM »
Eat Drink Man Woman and Big Night, of course.  And Julie & Julia, if you didn't see it in the theater last fall.

Do you honestly think I could get away without seeing Julie and Julia?  Oh, and we have seen the other two as well, but we'll probably see them again just for completeness sake.
"Crayons taste like purple" - Tardy the Turtle

Offline LizR

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Re: Home Video
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2010, 04:39:56 PM »
If they cried at Up, think they will cry at Eat Drink Man Woman?

Offline KoPP

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Re: Home Video
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2010, 05:21:49 PM »
Hey, might as well watch The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. I don't think I'd follow it for the recipies, though... ;)

Offline The_Scientist

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Re: Home Video
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2010, 11:05:38 AM »
Swung by Videodrome last night while we were getting King of Pops (chocolate banana and lime), and picked up Nothing.  It's directed by the Vingenzo Natali, the same guy who did Cube and Splice, which is now in theaters.  I may have to see those now.  He has a distinct style that makes low budget shlock interesting.

Nothing is about a couple of loser friends in Toronto whose lives, such as they are, are collapsing around them.  Just as they are about to lose everything they beg pathetically for everyone to leave them alone, and get their wish.  Suddenly everything around their house vanishes.  In every direction, as far as the eye can see, there is a vast expanse of white emptiness.  They respond just like a couple of dimwits would, with disbelief and a dangerous disregard for consequences.  Like Groundhog Day, there is no explanation for their predicament, but they have to see it through.  Unlike that movie, Natali doesn't feel obliged to deliver uplift or a happy ending.  That in itself is refreshing.
"Crayons taste like purple" - Tardy the Turtle

Offline The_Scientist

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Re: Home Video
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2010, 08:45:49 PM »
To round out the food-themed movie notion, I should mention we rewatched Big Night.  The final scene, where Stanley Tucci makes breakfast for himself and his brother is still one of the best endings I have ever seen, practically no dialogue but it says so such.  And the feast is still eye-popping.

I'd forgotten that Campbell Scott co-wrote the script and has a small role as a Cadillac salesman.  I also didn't remember that Allison Janney plays Tony Shaloub's love interest, or that Christian the waiter is played by Marc Anthony, aka Mr. Jennifer Lopez.
"Crayons taste like purple" - Tardy the Turtle

Offline The_Scientist

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Re: Home Video
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2010, 08:53:33 PM »
Since I liked Nothing so much, we picked up Cube next.  It was Vingenzo Natali's first feature, and showed how much he can do with no money and no stars. 

This one is a variation on the haunted house meme, with mismatched prisoners trapped in a maze and needing to escape before dehydration or booby traps get them.  Like Nothing, it's able to distract you from the mechanisms of the plot by throwing in enough philosophical musing, but not too much.  Its outlook is pretty nihilistic, and the ending reflects that, certainly not the ending a studio release would have.
"Crayons taste like purple" - Tardy the Turtle

Offline The_Scientist

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Re: Home Video
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2010, 09:38:29 AM »
After much cajoling FG finally rented Tapeheads so we could both watch it.  It has been years since she saw it, and I had somehow missed it as well.  Sorry to report she liked it more in retrospect, and I liked it less than that.

Yet another story about a couple of loser friends who go for their dream and find it's not what they expected, it mostly depends on John Cusack and Tim Robbins to charm and riff wittily.  Sometimes that's enough, but the plot is an incoherent mess, and the tone goes from arch to surreal too many times.  It's much better when it concentrates on the absurdities of LA showbiz than the political subplot, which is tiresome and not very funny.  Seeing Junior Walker and Sam Moore deliver old school R&B is fun, and the commercial for Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles is strangely wormy in the brain.  The cameos are far too numerous to mention here, but they include Weird Al Yankovic, Bobcat Goldthwait, Ted Nugent, Martha Quinn, Mike Nesmith, Courtney Love and Jello Biafra, plus Don Cornelius, Lyle Alzado, Connie Stevens and Doug McClure in supporting roles.  

It all combines to make pretty much the definition of a cult movie.  Count me out of that one, though.

Modified for typo
« Last Edit: August 15, 2010, 09:50:35 AM by The_Scientist »
"Crayons taste like purple" - Tardy the Turtle

Offline The_Scientist

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Re: Home Video
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2010, 09:24:32 AM »
If you're at home on a Saturday night and can't find anything interesting on TV despite hundreds of choices, look at the On Demand listings.  Sometimes the listings themselves are more entertaining than the movies they offer, especially the free ones.  Sex comedies from the 80's (there's one right now starring Rich Little and Tawny Kitaen, talk about a pairing that's funnier than anything on screen), thrill-free thrillers and older hits are the rule.  We watched 9 to 5 last night, one of those moments in time films that shows the fashion and technology of the late 70's perfectly.

The ones you pay for can be mystifying.  Lots of direct to video, indie and what-whats like Human Centipede.  How they decide what to charge isn't clear either.  Why are some $2.99 and others $6.99 (Human Centipede)?  Why would anyone pay any amount to watch Human Centipede?  Why would they watch it even if it were free and no one but your cable company was the wiser?  What were they thinking when they made Human Centipede?  Who would put up money for Human Centipede?  Why am I so upset that Human Centipede exists?  Why are they making sequels to Human Centipede?  >:(
"Crayons taste like purple" - Tardy the Turtle

 

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