Grandin Theatre, March 2017

The nonprofit Grandin Theatre looks like a hell of a fun place for a film buff.  The building dates from 1932, and upcoming screenings include  “To Have and Have Not,” “The Trouble With Harry,” and Kevin Smith’s “Mallrats.”  The theater is screening “The Boondock Saints” for free on St. Patrick’s Day.

 

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Melissa Harris Perry says “Star Wars” is racist?

That’s so stupid it sounds like a joke.

Actually … it WAS a joke, dating all the way back to 1997, in Kevin Smith’s outstanding “Chasing Amy.”  (For those who haven’t seen Smith’s comedy, the black character and the two white characters are all friends, and are in on the staged “shooting” together.  It’s a publicity stunt to sell comic books.)

Hey, if you haven’t seen it, “Chasing Amy” is a fantastic movie.  It’s one of my all-time favorites, and I think it far better captured “Generation X” than “Clerks” (1994) did.

 

 

“Ben Affleck was the bomb in ‘Phantoms.'”

I revisited “Phantoms” (1998) the other night, and I thought I’d just speak up briefly here on its behalf.  For one thing, I really chatted up Dean Koontz’ 1983 source novel here at the blog not too long ago.  And for another, this critically and popularly panned movie is one that I happened to like.

Ben Affleck actually wasn’t “‘the bomb’ in “Phantoms.'”  (Referring to something as “the bomb” was, at one time, a high compliment in American slang.)  He mostly phoned it in, and even seriously flubbed a scene or two.  (Hey, I actually like the guy a lot, and I’m willing to give him a chance as the next Batman.)  The headline above is actually some particularly meta humor from another character played by Affleck, in Kevin Smith’s “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” (2001).  Affleck was poking fun at himself a little here, along with his fellow denizens of Smith’s “View Askewniverse.”

Roger Ebert dismissed “Phantoms” as “another one of those Gotcha! thrillers in which loathsome slimy creatures leap out of drain pipes and sewers and ingest supporting actors, while the stars pump bullets into them.”  You can read his entire review right here:

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/phantoms-1998

No, “Phantoms” isn’t classic sci-fi-horror.  It’s sometimes pretty thin stuff on a number of levels … but primarily the levels of acting and screenwriting.

But, dammit, I still liked this movie a lot.  If you’re a fan of the book (I’ve suggested it’s Koontz’ best), you’ll be happy to discover that it indeed conscientiously sticks to its wicked-cool source material.  We see a small Colorado mountain town where all the inhabitants have vanished; a clutch of wayward visitors then try to escape the same grisly, mysterious fate as its residents.)

The book’s central plot device is a nicely conceived and executed idea for a monster, with some effectively creepy historical and scientific context.  (I can still remember a colonial victim’s warning, which is referenced in the book, but not the movie: “It has no shape; it has every shape.”)

Despite its clunky script, the film brings us a story that is pretty intelligent — thanks to retaining so many elements of the novel.  This is a thinking man’s monster movie — like somebody rewrote “Beware the Blob” (1972), but put a hell of a lot of smarts and creativity into it.  We’ve got two groups of bright people who fight back against “the Ancient Enemy,” and their actions and strategies generally make sense.

Also … Liev Schreiber does creepy incredibly well, and Peter O’Toole does everything incredibly well.  The former’s face and mannerisms do much to unsettle us.  And the latter brings the “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962) treatment to the fifties-esque trope of the monster-fighting hero scientist.

Finally, this might be an odd thing to praise a film for, but I loved its sound effects.  Because that voice (or voices) on the story’s single working telephone was exactly how I wanted the adversary here to sound.

Slam it all you want.  I’ll watch this one again.

 

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Ye olde Nolan

I’m becoming concerned …  I keep seeing more troubling signs that I am getting older.

I can’t eat pizza and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream all day without feeling yucky.  And I have gone shopping and DELIBERATELY looked for vegetables.

I bitch inwardly about the quality of America’s public education system all the time.  (Don’t even get me started.)  I actually begin some of my (admittedly peculiar) inner monologues with the words, “There was a time in this country when …”  I have also lamented that “things were different 20 years ago.”

It recently dawned on me that my longstanding idolization of Kevin Smith may be waning …  last year’s “Tusk” just didn’t do it for me, and his recent appearance on “The Talking Dead” just seemed to feature too much childish sex humor.  I cringed.  (Lengthy analogies about oral sex aren’t THAT hilarious, people.  I suggest they have a 10-second half life.)  I still think that Smith is brilliant; I just think maybe his particular style of humor might better appeal to a guy in his 20’s.

In the Marvel movies’ upcoming “Civil War” storyline entries, I’m firmly on the side of Captain America, and not Iron Man.  Yeah, Tony Stark has the wit and the charm and the girls and the cash.  But Cap has character and good American values, with an emphasis on civil liberties.  Cap would never subject black people to an unreasonable search and seizure.  He wouldn’t enter a private home without a warrant.  And he would uphold a legal wall of separation between church and state.  Dunno about Tony.

Tori Amos is still cool, but she sounds NUTS in her interviews.

I played with a friend’s little girl on the swings the other day … and I actually got DIZZY after donning a swing myself, and trying to swing as high as her.  THAT was disconcerting.

My doctor told me to knock off all the sugar, and I am totally taking her seriously.

My buddy shared a picture today of the original Star Wars cast in 1977.  When I was a tot, I looked up to Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia.  When I was in fifth grade, “Return of the Jedi” Leia was my heart’s desire.  (I need not even mention in which outfit.)  Today, 1977 Carrie Fisher looks like a sweet girl who could be my college sophomore daughter.  (Seriously, she looks YOUNG, people.)  Harrison Ford looks like that older kid in our hometown with the camaro, who I need to keep away from her.  Mark Hamill looks like that sweet kid down the block who wants a date with her, but won’t get one.

My friends from Longwood High School are now teachers at Longwood High School.  The cognitive dissonance connected with that is significant.

And tonight it has dawned on me that (I can’t believe I am saying this) Depeche Mode is getting maybe a little played out for me.  Oh God, I can’t believe I just typed that.  I still love MODE, I swear it!  I just think that after “Violator” has been in my playlist for two decades, it’s maybe time to retire the lesser songs like “World In My Eyes” and find some more new music.

But not “Policy of Truth.”  THAT SONG WILL LIVE FOREVER.  (And never again is what you swore the time before.)

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