Wed Mar 01 2017 09:32 February Film Roundup:
- Kansas City (1996): I went to Kansas City on a Friday. Then I had to come back to the museum on Saturday, because that's when it was showing. Anyway, I figured a gangster film would be the perfect introduction to the ouvre of Robert Altman. And... there's not nearly enough Steve Buscemi but everything else about this movie is pretty great. There are different levels of corruption in the world, from the government to the mob to the grifter. Kansas City gets a lot of mileage out of a character on one level of corruption interacting or interfering with a character on another level.
- Charlie Varrick (1973): An enjoyable crime caper set in Albuquerque, kind of the opposite of Dog Day Afternoon where there's too much money in the bank. My only complaint is it goes on a little too long. I feel Walter Mattheau's character could have cut a couple steps from his plan, eliminated a lot of the risk, and come out just as well. The dentist office burglary is great, and Joe Don Baker excels as Evil Mitchell.
- Cradle Will Rock (1999): Another self-indulgent Tim Robbins herbal cigarette, but a lot more fun and more interesting than Bob Roberts. Super-random celebrity guests, both as actors and as characters. "Who's that supposed to be, Bertolt Brecht?" Yes, that's who it's supposed to be! I remember this movie came up a while back when we went looking through IMDB for all the times someone has portrayed Nelson Rockefeller on film. Not sure why we did that, I think because I was reading Before the Storm.
Anyway, the movie itself was enjoyable but the musical they're putting on seems, at best, comparable to other musicals of the 1930s.
- Toni Erdmann (2016): Fun, but not the laugh riot I was expecting. There are a lot of movies where a prankster character torments an uptight character, and I generally don't enjoy these, but in Toni Erdmann Ines starts tormenting her father right back in her own uptight way, so that provided some balance. I also liked that the film was almost entirely shot in Romania.
IMDB trivia: "Jack Nicholson and Kristen Wiig star in a remake of this film." No thanks.
- Get Out (2017): Effective creepy horror. I don't see a ton of horror movies, so I don't know how innovative this is, but I thought the way this movie doled out its gore quotient was great. I really got into this film, in my own nerdy way: near the end I was thinking "I don't want a The Shining ending or a Being John Malkovich ending, just a regular horror-movie ending."
Recommend seeing in the theater for the audience participation factor. There's an audience stand-in in the movie who has clearly seen it before and is trying ineffectually to stop it from happening! Just like real life.
I'm gonna shoehorn Book Roundup into this post because although I started three books on my commute, I lost interest in two of them a fair way in, and the only book I finished in February was Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad. A great horrifying read with a sinister George Saunders-type feel in places.
I thought I'd also finish The Fortress of Solitude, but that book's a lot longer than I thought! I'm not even halfway through. Stay tuned!
Thu Mar 23 2017 19:56 FRED:
This won't wait for Film Roundup because it's only showing until the end of the month. Last week Sumana and I went to see FRED at Dixon Place in Manhattan and had a good time. It's a short, funny play with a Starship Titanic feel. Check it out!
Fri Mar 24 2017 20:14 Reviews of Semi-Old Science Fiction Magazines: F&SF January/February 2012:
Hey there. After keeping this magazine in the house for five years, I
finally read it. You see, I only like things that are vintage. Sometimes you gotta age it yourself.
Standout stories for me were Naomi Kritzer's adorable "Scrap
Dragon" and Alexander Jablokov's gross-out "The Comfort of
Strangers". I guess I'm exposing the fact that I haven't read the Rich
Horton anthology that reprinted "Four Kinds of Cargo" (The Year's
Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2013 Edition), since that also
reprinted "Scrap Dragon". I repeat: adorable.
I also liked Ken Liu's "Maxwell's Demon" for the clever way it
combined several very different ideas. I love this issue's Mark Evans
cover art, for John G. McDaid's "Umbrella Men", but I prefer the story
I made up after looking at the cover art for five years. (However it
is the first time the story I made up based on the cover art bears any
resemblance to the real story.)
In the course of an essay on vampire fiction, Elizabeth Hand
mentions the ur-text, John Polidori's The Vampyre, as
well as the 1845-1847 serial "Varney the Vampire"
which ran to 670,000 words (Project Gutenberg has a measley 327,927 of those words). I don't care about vampire stories
but I'm always interested in the first or biggest example of
something. This column also made me aware of Theodore Rozak's
Flicker, in a would-actually-want-to-read-it way.
Man, "Varney the Vampire" makes me think of vampire Jim Varney. How
come they never did an Ernest movie about that? Seems like a natural
fit. Bye for now!
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