This Week in Geek (20-26/04/15)

Buys

A couple DVD sets and a couple books, this week. In the first category, Republic of Doyle Season 6 (the final season), and Galactica 1980 (because I will eventually try to marathon BSG for the SBG, yes). In the second, Lydia Davis' The Cows (because the reviews on Goodreads are fantastically absurd!) and the 8th Doctor Sourcebook (hardcopy).

"Accomplishments"

At the movies: It Follows' premise sounds exploitative - it's about a sexually-transmitted demon - but it's not. The film creates an iconic monster, on the cheap, as it were, that's super-creepy and is sure to make you paranoid in any public space. And while effective as a horror film, it's also got that subtext I crave that pushes a film beyond its genre conventions. The film isn't about STDs, it's about the loss of innocence sex represents (a common horror trope) and the feeling that, as you enter your twenties, life (and thus, death) is already catching up to you. And that's demonstrated in the way the kids in the film keep talking about their childhoods, and in the production and sound design, which hark back to the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s even though we're clearly in the modern era, twisting horror flick nostalgia in on itself. Very little gore, but some disturbia. In tone, it reminded me of something like Teeth, but with better acting. Recommended.

DVDs: I hadn't gotten into Brooklyn Nine-Nine yet, but got the Season 1 DVD on several recommendations. I was up for more from the creators of Parks & Recs, but B99 has its own identity, even if the comedy can be compared. While shaky cam is the order of the day, the workplace comedy about a Brooklyn police precinct doesn't have documentary-style interviews breaking into the action. I like to think the lead detective/class clown Jack Peralta is so into cop movies and TV that he imagines his life this way. There is an element of nostalgia for iconic screen cops, in the references, the show's theme, etc., though (and I don't know that it's done on purpose), the "I learned a valuable lesson" Full House moments at the end of several episodes do feel forced. But I laughed, I came to enjoy these characters very quickly (early favorites are Rosa and Captain Holt, great deadpan, and we need straighter characters to offset Peralta who can be too much at times), and can't wait for the second season to be out on DVD. Most episodes have deleted scenes attached, which are the set's only extras.

Moving slowly through the last leg of my Bond-a-thon, just go to the Brosnan films I HAVEN'T seen. The World Is Not Enough has a terrible reputation, and while it's not great, it WAS a lot better than I anticipated. The main problem is Denise Richards as the least believable rocket scientist in the history of science and/or movies (she could play one of the girls in a live action Danger Girl movie though). She comes in around the middle and stinks up the place, usually with blatantly obvious exposition. But I'd come to understand post-Goldeneye Brosnan was entirely too jokey, like the later Roger Moore era; that's not really the case. Everyone's on overdrive vis-à-vis death puns, sure, but Brosnan himself can be dead serious when his Bond is angry, and he's angry a LOT. Sophie Marceau is effective as an always disrobing femme fatale, though the henchmen du jour, whom I've heard called Bullethead (though not to his face) isn't particularly memorable. The action set pieces are fine, but aren't particularly memorable either (the boat sequence was fun though). But they're not terrible or silly either, is what I'm getting at. What struck me most is how much of this movie Skyfall poached! An expanded role for M, a new Q (glad to see John Cleese come aboard, but Desmond Llewelyn's low-key departure is almost too sad), an explosion at MI-6, the Bond family motto, etc. The DVD's commentary tracks feature the director on one, and the production designer, action director and composer on the other.

For my I-MUST-CheckMovies Project, I got to watch David Lynch's Mulholland Dr., a surreal Hollywood puzzler that's rife for multiple interpretations, but not as incomprehensible as some would have you believe. It shares DNA, I think, with the Cohen Brothers' Barton Fink, where Hollywood is cast as the Devil's playground. Half the film is a dream, but which half? I think you could make a case for either. Naomi Watts is great in her dual role, representing well the corruption of innocence the film wants to get at. Once should not neglect the subplot about a director frustrated by the studio, which probably has the some autobiographical element to it. In fact, there's every sense that this is Hollywood as seen by an insider. Beautifully shot, enigmatic, sensual, at once classic and modern. I wish all the movies on this list of films I've somehow missed over the years would be this interesting.

Audios: Big Finish's Night of the Stormscrow is a 4th Doctor/Leela audio story by (a restrained) Marc Platt. Nothing uncommon about a base under siege story, but the unusual monster saves the day. A giant orbital bird that can eat an island, a scavenger waiting for the Earth to die, and with it comes little nothings that are the kind of conceptual monster the new series loves to use. Platt gives the two leads some interesting things to say about themselves and each other. Among the guest-stars, we find Deep Space Nine's Chase Masterson (wow, nice surprise!), which makes exactly ONE American with a genuine accent ;-). I'll admit, it's a little slow to start - many characters to introduce and so on - but the last act is terrific, with some chilling bits and Leela playing a good role in the resolution.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
Cheer Up, Hamlet! Paper Dolls

9 comments:

Toby'c said...

I've always been pretty forgiving of Dr Christmas Jones, if only because she's so much less useless than the likes of Mary Goodnight or Stacey Sutton. As such, The World is Not Enough is somewhere in my top ten of the series.

Siskoid said...

Rare is the American Bond girl who doesn't seem utterly useless.

American Hawkman said...

True. The movie would have been just fine without her, but she's literally the last thing about the movie I remember, so I hardly remember her at all. Bond's confrontation with the real villain (no spoilers) is easily the coldest Brosnan gets, and a very Connery style moment. It's also nice to see post-Cold War Bond having Russian contacts again... fits the theme of "noble criminals" that Fleming uses in the original stories so often. I actually liked the henchman, despite him clearly being Skull Duggar from Batman. :)

Siskoid said...

Yes, I'm quite ambivalent about the film.

That cold-blooded moment you mention is great, but then you still have a henchman to take care of. Same problem happened in Tomorrow Never Dies. The villains aren't taken care of in the right order.

I like Valentine as a kind of Russian Felix Leiter, but he does seem to be used in whatever role the script happens to need.

LiamKav said...

I know some people didn't like "I never miss", but I didn't have a problem with it. I didn't look upon it as a Moore-style "oh ho look at me quipping". I've always thought that, when played right, Bond uses humour as a defence mechanism, as a way of covering up what a horribly damaged person he is. And at that point, he's just realised what a screwed up person he is, reflected in the person he's talking to. That moment is both closure and a way of him avoiding confronting any of that, and the pun just reflects that.

SPOILERS: Valentine suffers in this film from a death scene that's not an obvious death scene. (See Cyclops in X-Men 3). I kept expecting him to reappear near the end, but nope, apparently he did actually die.

I do have a soft spot for TWINE. I thought it did a good job of balacing the humour with the drama. But then, I always liked Brosnan's Bond... I thought that, at his best, he could combine the best bits of Connery, Moore and Dalton. He just rarely got opportunities to do so.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

Honestly, I thought TWINE was the best of the Brosnan films (or at least, close behind Goldeneye, depending on my mood). Certainly the best score- and a very strong 2nd when it comes to classic, iconic N64 adaptations.

I guess I just felt that the action was very strong, the setup intriguing, and the villain one of the more clever- revealed and the end to be such a manipulator that she Stockholmed her captor, rather than vice-versa.

Even if Christmas Jones is the worst. Ever.

Siskoid said...

A lot of love for TWINE, but what about ROPE?!

(I'll be here all week folks, don't forget to tip your waitress.)

LiamKav said...

If you don't tip her, someone's going to have her butt.

(Is it me, or does that line really seem like it needs an "ass" at the end rather than a "butt"?)

blue said...

Having seen all the Bonds multiple times, I really think TWINE is underrated.

Also, I think it's a Bond tradition to kill the villain next to the last, saving a henchman for "one last scare."

 

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