Friday, September 30, 2011

How To Be A Serial Killer

Dameon Clarke plays a serial killer named Mike who takes a nervous, awkward video store clerk named Bart on as his protege. They go around killing people and eventually shit happens.
There are two problems with How To Be A Serial Killer:
1) It felt a bit like The Last Horror Movie, which is a British film starring ... Max Howarth is his name I think? Anyway, I love that movie quite a bit, and How To Be A Serial Killer was a little like that movie, but not as well made and less entertaining.
2) The movie starts with a commercial for, and has lessons throughout the movie from, a "How To Be A Serial Killer" seminar hosted by Mike, that is obviously fantasy but damned if it isn't the best part of the movie. I would have liked How To Be A Serial Killer much better if it were just an hour-long taping of the seminar.
So it's not perfect. I liked parts of the movie. The guy who played Bart looked familiar but I'd never heard his name before (Matthew Gray Gubler). Near the end it strays a little into action movie territory.
I will say I was impressed with Dameon Clarke's performance. The movie's pretty much worth it to see him. He does "smarmy motivational speaker," "normal guy hanging out with his girlfriend," "asshole who will shoot you in the face" and "man who thinks he has a message," and he does them all well.
But, damn it, I still wish the whole movie had just been that seminar.

End of line.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dracula: Dead And Loving It

So Frankenstein isn't my thing. You know what is? Dracula.
I love Dracula. I love the book, I love movies based on the book, I love parodies of movies based on the book.
I also tend to like Mel Brooks movies. I love Spaceballs, I like Young Frankenstein (I like it so much I don't consider it a Frankenstein movie; I also like it so much I tend to forget it stars Gene Wilder, who scares me) and ... actually I can't think of a lot of other Mel Brooks movies I've seen.
I saw Blazing Saddles. I think I like that one.
Anyway, Dracula: Dead And Loving It was the last movie he directed. I think I wanted to see it back when it came out but didn't because I heard there was a lot of blood in it (I was twelve and not into gore yet) and because I was disappointed in Robin Hood: Men In Tights. (I remember two things about that movie: "I have a mole?" which was funny, and "It's an Everlast," which was not.)
Now, the thing about Mel Brooks movies is, a lot of people think he peaked at Young Frankenstein or Blazing Saddles (whichever came second). I think he peaked at Spaceballs. And I admit that Dracula: Dead And Loving It is not a shining example of cinematic or comedic brilliance. The plot is choppy, the jokes are stupid, the acting is pretty lousy.
However! The acting is deliberately lousy, the plot isn't really important in a movie like this and I happen to love stupid humor. Several of the movie's gags made me laugh out loud. I actually had to pause the movie a couple of times so I could stop laughing enough to pay attention again. That doesn't happen to me a lot anymore.
The only real problem I had with the movie was genuinely a problem I was having; I kept comparing the movie to the book. I wasn't doing it on purpose. Every time the nitpicky part of my brain started to say "That's wrong!" I had to summon another part of my brain to tell her to shut up. "Honestly, you're going to complain that a Mel Brooks movie wasn't entirely true to the source material? What is wrong with you?!"
Luckily, I don't think most people will have that problem, and Dracula: Dead And Loving It is a great example of dumb, fun comedy, a genre I happen to love. I honestly want to give this movie a hug.

End of line.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Frankenstein Unbound

I was out of town for two weeks and, when I got back, I really didn't feel like watching any movies. It's the weirdest feeling in the world to me, to be actively not in the mood to watch a movie, but it happens sometimes.
Today I decided it's finally time to get back on the Movie Lottery horse and ...
I wish I had stayed not in the mood for a movie.
When I was a kid, one of the video stores we went to had a cardboard standup promoting Frankenstein Unbound. It had a picture on it of an eye that was made of three different colored eyes stitched together. First of all, it grossed me out. Second of all, it was a bit of a Fridge Horror for me (how do you sew eyes together?! I don't even want to think about it). Thirdly, I wish I had eyes that were three different colors at once (but just naturally). Fourth, it stuck with me forfuckingever. That cardboard standup was the only reason I watched this stupid movie.
That and Raul Julia.
The movie is about Scientist John Hurt, who creates a weapon that makes things disappear, but has the small side effect of causing wormholes, one of which sucks him back in time, where he meets Victor Frankenstein (who, for the purposes of this movie was a real person. And Raul Julia).
So John Hurt stalks Frankenstein for a while (completely abandoning an entire plate of food, by the way. This guy's got fucked up priorities) and watches him yell at his Monster. The next day, he stalks Frankenstein some more and follows him to the trial of a girl who is accused of killing Frankenstein's brother. He also meets Mary Eventually Shelley (in this movie she's not married yet), and takes up stalking her for a while.
Frankenstein Unbound barely has a plot (actually, it barely has about three plots) and none of the characters are likeable. There are weird, brief dream sequences that don't add up to anything and I think the ending was supposed to mean something but it was either butchered in editing or I'm really stupid, 'cause I sure as hell didn't get what the shocker or deep meaningful message or twist (or whatever) was supposed to be.
What really bothered me ... No, actually, there were two things that bothered me. One was that the movie forced me to remember the book Frankenstein, and I fucking hate that book.
More than that, though, if I've learned nothing else from time travel movies, I know John Hurt was doing everything wrong. He told people he was from the future, he showed them his car and his digital watch, and (probably worst of all) he shows Mary Shelley a copy of Frankenstein and tells her that she will finish writing it and get it published.
And the movie never addresses that these are exactly the sort of things you're not supposed to do if you travel back in time! There are no real consequences for his stupid actions. It's like in this movie, the entire concept of being careful while time traveling is thrown out the window!
I don't really know why I care so much (it's just a stupid movie) but I feel like time travel rules are logical. There's no need to rebel against them.

End of line.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Barenaked Ladies at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, September 16 2011

I've noticed that, especially amongst people around my age, Barenaked Ladies are considered a somewhat "uncool" band. And I will address that shortly.
My mom and I decided kind of at the last second to go to the concert. We bought our tickets at the box office a few hours before the show started and somehow managed, thanks to weird selling practices, to get front row, center seats. Woo hoo!
The opening band was called The Flying Burrito Brothers and they were talented, sure, but really not my cup of tea. Far more country than rock, which is just not my kind of thing. I don't mind a little bit of country (or more if it's older; for instance, I like Jerry Reed and Johnny Cash), but this was just too much.
But they were just the openers. Which is horrible to say, especially because I hate it when people don't respect or pay attention to opening acts. It's rude. No, I don't always like them but I'll still listen to them. Sometimes you hear something new and wonderful in an opening act. (A duo called Guggenheim Grotto opened for They Might Be Giants once and they were pretty wonderful. I tell you this in the hopes that I'll remember their name later.)
Then BNL took to the stage, opening with Who Needs Sleep, one of my favorite songs off of Stunt.
Now, to get back to my first statement: Barenaked Ladies are in no way uncool. Their music is good (most of it flat out rocks) and damn do they put on a good show! They throw about witty banter, Ed makes up raps on the spot, Jim dances with his stand up bass and, most importantly, they make sure the music sounds fantastic.
I wish I could come up with a highlight of the show to report but the evening was so full of highlights it's really hard to single out one moment.
I would like to announce, to someone in the audience who doesn't read this blog but needs to be told anyway, that even though you're in a theater in which plays are usually produced and you have a seat, this is a fucking rock concert and you should not be sitting down. So, instead of whining at the people in front of you to sit down so you can see, maybe you should stand up and dance and have a good time like the rest of us.
Because the rest of us were having a good time. The band did not play a single song that was boring or bad. The entire band worked at full capacity to make sure of that. It was truly a great show.
And I feel bad for the people who think Barenaked Ladies are uncool.

End of line.