This Week in Geek (10-16/08/15)


At the movies: Is Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation the first M:I moving to use the "The Plot" music cue from the TV show (and therefore, from Star Trek)? NOT A COMPLAINT. Rogue Nation continues the story almost directly from Ghost Protocol, except that Paula Patton isn't in it, like female characters have to be treated like one-shot Bond girls in these films. Ah well. The "anti-IMF" concept would have been cooler if the IMF were more like the original TV version, and culled from civilian ranks as opposed to government/military ranks. As is, it was just a bunch of similar assassin types poached from various enemy nations' secret services. That all said, a pretty great action/spy thriller, with vertiginous stunts, finely edited action, cool "con" reveals, and "you gotta be kidding me" comedy. Now, can we have one of these films where everyone doesn't get disavowed right from the get-go?

DVDs: With Louie, Louis C.K. attempts to translate his stand-up experience into a half-our comedy, and succeeds more subtly than one might think. A lot of it is in the editing - there might be repetitions; and like his routines, a story about one thing becomes a digression on something else entirely; a lot of the material is autobiographical, but also improvised; and from time to time, there's even a crazy flight of fancy that, surely, doesn't happen literally. It's also the comedy of the pathetic, and several of the episodes felt more poignant than funny. But that tug between funny and sad is definitely what gives the show its identity. The first season starts out strong, but gets a little uneven in the back half, but there's still enough there for me to watch more. The DVD for Season 1 includes Louis' fairly useful commentary on 11 of the 13 episodes, deleted and extended scenes presented by the comedian, and a short making of for the Fox Movie Channel.

My I-MUST-CheckMovies 2015 Project has pointed me in this direction: North by Northwest, the one very famous Hitchcock film that WASN'T in my Hitchcock boxed set. Taking a lot of its cues from Hitch's much earlier Saboteur (from the mistaken identity to danging off an American tourist attraction), this is just about the biggest mainstream entertainment the famous director ever made. It's got lots of action, a crackingly witty script, and a hot and heavy romance (for 1959, it's positively scandalous). It's not quite as suspenseful as you'd expect from the Master of Suspense, however, and to me, Cary Grant is such an affected actor, that I can't quite say I loved it. Or perhaps I was distracted by Martin Landau who was obviously perpetrating a sting on the villain on behalf of the IMF ;-). Probably one I'd like more and more on each viewing, but the first run-through left me wanting just a touch more.

In a whole other category of "film"... Cool as Ice was really something, wasn't it? The very definition of "unintentionally funny" (when it actively tries to be funny, it fails dreadfully), Vanilla Ice's 90-minute promo makes me ask why, oh why, you wouldn't include his ONE memorable hit (the one he poached from Queen) in it. I mean, that should have been a given. Less of a constant music video than I thought it would be, the movie is meant to be a romance between a proper girl who falls for a boy from the wrong side of the tracks (so, Dirty Dancing), with a witness relocation subplot that forces Michael Gross to give too good a performance for this flick, really, a flick that clearly doesn't know anything about the WRP. He's just about the only male character who isn't a creep or clown, and that includes the Ice man himself who really seems to ruin Kristin Minter's Kathy. All he really needs to do is be marginally less of a douchebag than her current boyfriend, Don "Superboy" Newton, but I'm not sure he succeeds. Let's just say everyone I know would be far less tolerant about waking up with an ice cube in their mouths, put there by the human equivalent of Itchy & Scratchy's Poochie who had snuck in through their window. It's not a PERFECT terrible movie, mind you. A lot of dead air, editing that lingers on shots several seconds too long, and weird scenes that were designed for tweens. One to watch only with a crowd up for some mockery.

Books: Ok, how do I even begin to talk about Mark Z. Danielwski's House of Leaves? This ridiculously clever, postmodern novel is Borges in long form, by way of the Blair Witch Project. At its center (moving outward), is The Navidson Record, a documentary about a house with variable interior dimensions. We learn of this through the blind scholar Zampano who left copious notes that were then collated and commented by failed tattoo artist Johnny Truant. Beyond its narratives, the book is really about emptiness and what we fill it with, the void between people, if you will, but on a literary level, what we make of emptiness, how we fill it with meaning, and how a single thing, when analyzed, can become an infinite FOUNT on meaning. The book is very much like the eponymous House, your trek through its pages slowing to a crawl when the text becomes incredibly dense, to a quick-paced breeze thanks to almost empty pages that take their cue from shape poems. You're banging away at the same chapter for days and suddenly, you find yourself 100 pages later in the space of 20 minutes. It plays a lot of tricks like that, the story and the reading of it converging in amusing ways, and in my case anyway, the richness of detail often crossed over with details from my immediate life in peculiar coincidences that made me feel like Johnny Truant, though I didn't lost my mind because of it, I don't think. People keep asking me if I would recommend it to them, and I'm never quite sure what to say. For a certain kind of reader, definitely. Others might just be mystified and/or frustrated by it. Best I can do. And in the spirit of the book's propensity for footnotes, let me give you a couple, because for some reason, people really wanted to engage me on the subject in completely unrelated articles. So check out the comments HERE and HERE.

Podcasts: And if you haven't caught the Lonely Hearts Romance Comics Podcast - 4 guys talking about romance comics and comic book romances - please do and leave us a comment. We'd love to hear what you think. Second episode to come the week of August 24. Thanks!


Michael May said...

Started listening to Lonely Hearts on the way to work this morning and I'm LOVING it so far. Gotta find a copy of the story so I can read along.

Siskoid said...

All pages on the wordpress blog linked in this post, or in the original Lonely Hearts post on this very blog earlier this week!

Michael May said...

There they are! Cool!


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