Friday, April 21, 2017

And Then This Happened... Reptilicus

You know how it is. You go to the beach with that special someone. You do your best to impress, and stay calm after you see them in a swimsuit. But nothing goes right. First the water is too darn cold to swim in. Second the sand is too darn hot to walk on barefoot. The sand fleas are biting and someone's dog does their business upwind of your blanket.

Oh, and some idiot at a nearby lab grows a giant, slime-spewing, prehistoric, reptile that gets loose and starts rampaging across the beach. What a lousy day! I think it may be time for a caption for that moment.

And then this happened...


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

MST3K - Season 11 Overview

It took a massive Kickstarter campaign, the enthusiasm and guidance of Joel Hodgson and a collection of some of the brightest and best comedy writers and performers, but the impossible happened. Mystery Science Theater 3000 returned from the grave. In April of 2017, a new season was created and unleashed on the world via Netflix for new and old fans to enjoy.

Of course things were a bit different this time around. There was a new host, Jonah Heston who became our human trapped by a new mad scientist, Kinga Forrester. Crow, Tom Servo, Gypsy and Cambot all returned but with new performers (and voices). The show balanced this new crew with a faithful attempt to capture the feel and tone of the original series. The special effects were low budget, the host segments were a mix of corny and silly with a dash of song. The riffing managed to span a wide range of topics and generations while keeping things family friendly and fun.

The result was an impressive return that managed to do exactly what the show always did, expose the viewer to unfortunate films and provide plenty of laughs. The films selected for this season run the gamut from giant rubber monsters, 80's fantasy cheese, 70's Star Wars ripoffs and even a disaster movie. All the films are in color and widescreen and no short subjects were tackled. But all in all, the movies are some of the most entertaining yet and the crew does a fine job with them.
  • 1101 - Reptilicus
  • 1102 - Cry Wilderness
  • 1103 - The Time Travelers
  • 1104 - Avalanche
  • 1105 - The Beast of Hollow Mountain
  • 1106 - Starcrash
  • 1107 - The Land that Time Forgot
  • 1108 - The Loves of Hercules
  • 1109 - Yongary - The Monster from the Deep
  • 1110 - Wizards of the Lost Kingdom
  • 1111 - Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II
  • 1112 - Carnival Magic
  • 1113 - The Christmas that Almost Wasn't
  • 1114 - At Earth's Core

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Neon Demon (2016)

Introduction:

So this movie got a lot of bad reviews when it came out. I remember a particular reviewer I usually trust saying it was the worst movie the year and that it made him physically ill. Of course, that got my attention. Not the physically ill part, but the vehemence he leveled at the film. He did the same thing to David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, and I love that movie. So I think it was time for me to visit The Neon Demon.

Summary:

Jesse (Elle Fanning) comes to Los Angeles to launch her modeling career. She stays at a seedy motel managed by an unhinged Hank (Keanu Reeves in a wonderfully odd performance). Her friend Dean (Karl Glusman) takes some photos to get her portfolio started. Soon she is discovered and starts to climb the ladder of success.

She meets Ruby (Jena Malone) a makeup artist to takes a shine to her and wants to be her BFF. But other models see Jesse as a real threat to their careers. She’s too popular, too beautiful and too pure. Something has to be done. As Jesse continues on her journey, success creates its own dangers. Before long the Neon Demon is staring out of the mirror back at Jesse, and everything changes.

Good Points:
  • Jaw dropping use of color to create dreamlike visuals you won’t forget
  • Some brave and disturbing performances especially from Fanning and Malone
  • A wonderful score by Cliff Martinez that puts you into the glittering world

Bad Points:
  • The overall message and themes are familiar ones
  • The plot is very simple and straightforward – the execution isn’t
  • Has a few scenes meant to shock and disturb - deeply

Overall:

Um yeah this movie is not for everyone. If you appreciate David Lynch and movies like Enemy or Perfect Blue than this may be something you’ll appreciate. It is a movie crafted with amazing visuals, sound and music exploring the themes of obsession with beauty and how vanity ultimately corrupts and consumes. Not new ideas and the plot is pretty obvious. But the way the story is told, the way it creeps under your skin, the way is entrances and horrifies all at once impressed me. Style over substance, yeah. Will some see at as pretentious, oh hell yes. But I loved every neon lit, blood dripping minute of it.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 5
Sound: 5
Acting: 4
Script: 3
Music: 5
Direction: 5
Entertainment: 4
Total: 4

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Score Sample: Neon Demon (2016)

You probably weren't expecting this. Two score sample in a single week, I'm a mad man! But I watched this movie recently and was struck by the score. I enjoy a good bit of electronic music, and Cliff Martinez's work for Neon Demon really worked wonderfully in the film. I was surprised how it also made for a good isolated listening experience. He uses some retro sounding synths creating the kind of thing you expect to hear in a chilled out 1980s cyberpunk bar somewhere.

Winding Refn was going for a movie that focused on mood and themes for the Neon Demon and he relies heavily on the score to create that mood. The music reminds me of a combination of John Carpenter and Vangelis with a bit of Giorgio Moroder in there. It has a cold beauty that gets dark and mysterious at times. Really fits the film and helps build the atmosphere, especially combined with the long takes and scenes with almost no dialogue.  The title track will give you a taste of the score, so take the trip with the Neon Demon composed by Cliff Martinez.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Score Sample: Twin Peaks (1990)

I don't share nearly enough jazzy music on this blog. But I do enjoy the occasional jazzy film score. I think I owe that appreciation of jazzy scores enjoying the music from the television series Twin Peaks. I haven't blogged much about my fandom of David Lynch, but yeah, I pretty much love everything he's directed. I even find merit in his flawed take on Dune.

One of the key elements of any David Lynch production is the creation of mood. With Twin Peaks Lynch brought along his frequent musical collaborator Angelo Badalamenti. The sound they created for the show was a mix of 50's rockabilly, smooth jazz, dream pop, and eerie synths. Nothing else quite sounds like the musical world of Twin Peaks, and if you've ever watched a few episodes of the show, you'll know it when you hear it.

I'm going to avoid the obvious cuts from the show and share one of my favorite tracks, which makes its dreamlike appearance in the third episode of the series. It focuses more on the jazzy end of the score. Enjoy The Dance of the Dream Man from Twin Peaks by Angelo Badalamenti.