Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Son of Movie Rundown

Back in 2005  three of the major networks ABC (Invasion), NBC (Surface), and CBS (Threshold) released three different SciFi shows.  It was unbelievable and great at the same time.  Unfortunately all three got canceled after the first season.  I tried keeping up with all of them, but fell miserably short.  Working nights and trying to video tape each show just gets too complicated.   I saw bits and pieces of them, but the one I kept up with the most was Threshold, and even then I couldn't, so I ended up getting the DVD set.  With Surface though I caught part of the first episode and enjoyed what I had seen.  Where Invasion and Threshold were about alien invasion, Surface took a different route with a sea monster-type story.  What I also liked about it was that it had good special effects, and had sort of Spielberg-type approach to its storytelling.

The first episode takes three different characters and stories and entwines them together, all of them interesting.  The first is about a young boy that's out boating and skiing with some friends.  He falls in the water, and they take off leaving him in the middle of the water playing a joke on him.  He sees something odd in the water while out in the middle and gets really spooked.  It's huge.  He later goes back and finds several eggs, and takes one home and puts it in his aquarium.

The second story is about two brothers who are going to go water diving.  One knows of a perfect spot which is over by an oil rig.  While diving they see something huge and unbelievable.  They get spooked and scramble toward the structure of the rig for protection, but one of the brothers gets dragged under by the creature.

The third is about an underwater scientist who is exploring beneath the sea in a small submarine.  She's bright, and her career is just beginning.  As she explores the depths she notices something odd.  She looses contact with her associates in the boat above, but later gets to the surface rather shaken.  What is it that they've seen?  These three stories start to form what Surface is about.

And who wouldn't want a little critter like this to play with?  The show really was fairly action oriented and had a lot of suspense and tension.  It sort of played out as a mini-series and layered mysteries upon mysteries.  What are these creatures and where did they come from?   Much like the film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, these three people become obsessed to a degree.  It was really an underrated show and at least got to answer many of the questions it addressed before cancellation.

Creep (2015) is a low budget or independent horror film.  It's also a found footage type movie, and I'm not a huge fan of that, but overall the movie wasn't too bad.  The plot and setup are pretty simple about a young man that answers an ad that is looking for someone to take home movies of the guy that placed the ad.  It turns out that the guy that placed the ad is dying of cancer and he has an unborn son that he wants to leave the footage with so that he'll get to know him after he's gone.  The guy that placed the ad lives out in the wilderness somewhere in the mountains, and is a bit of a goofball.  He's pleasant enough, but at the same time strange.  The movie centers just on these two people's relationship.  Thankfully the shaky camera is kept to a minimum, and the whole perspective from the film is gained from that footage.   Of course the guy who is hired to take the home footage starts to suspect the guy is a bit off.  For a low budget film though it plays out fairly well.  I'd probably give it three stars.

The Sixties, The Seventies, and The Eighties are documentaries that I've been catching ever so often off the CNN channel.  Each decade has several one hour episodes and they generally start out light covering the decade with some of the TV programming, music, or movies of that time period, go into lifestyles and culture, and then into politics or historical events.  Since I grew up during all these decades, it's a nostalgic romp for me, not that all those decades were fun and bright.  Each one had their own set of problems that the nation was dealing with, and peoples that rose to the challenge to bring about change.

During The Sixties the Vietnam war was going on, yet here in America we had escapism entertainment like Star Trek, The Beverley Hillbillies, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie, Batman, and so on.  For me personally, it was a great time period for music, and a change in the youth culture.

The Seventies brought with the VCR the first time that you didn't have to watch live television, you could tape it and watch it later or rent a movie or even tape a movie off of HBO, Showtime, etc.  (My how that aspect has changed.)  But the programming in TV changed as well with Monday Night Football, Monty Python, and paid cable networks like HBO.  Punk music began.  There was also the exit of our role in Vietnam, Watergate investigations, and gas shortages.  
When The Eighties began and we see MTV, and CDs.  It also examines the age of Reagan, the AIDS crisis, the end of the Cold War (well sort of), Wall Street corruption, the tech boom,  and the expansion of television and the evolving music scene

Even given eight hours or so for each decade they basically skim over and highlight events.  Granted you can't go very much into depth, but at least it does provide a snapshot look at the decades.  It's been a worthwhile watch.  It might be better to catch off Netflix or Amazon, so you don't have to contend with so many commercial breaks.
I pretty much disliked The Wolf of Wall Street (2013).   Some of that  may come from the fact that I've seen other Martin Scorsese films that I've enjoyed much more.  The Wolf of Wall Street followed a lot of the same territory similar to GoodFellas, except with GoodFellas it starts out slow and ramps up toward the ending, with Wolf it's pretty much amped up from the beginning.  The film is adapted from Jordan Belfort's memoir, which I might have found more interesting to read than the film itself.  It's about the shenanigans and rise of a young stockbroker (DiCaprio) who arrives on Wall Street to learns the trade and excesses right before the market tanks on Black Monday of 1987.  But the film just contained too much debauchery and profanity for my liking.  With this movie your mileage may vary.  I think I'll leave it at that.
Pee-Wee's Big Holiday is a bit of a comeback for Paul Reuben in which he plays the oddball character he created back in the 80s.  It's pretty much setup within the road trip formula.  Pee-Wee is a carefree character working for a diner in his hometown of Fairville.  He has a pretty happy life there, but encounters a setback during his day as his musical group is breaking up, and starts to feel a bit depressed until he meets Joe Manganiello that changes his stagnant lifestyle.  They are an odd pairing, but hit it off pretty well.  At the end of the day Manganiello invites Pee-Wee to his birthday party in NYC.  Pee-Wee confides to Joe that he's never left the town of Fairville, but this opportunity gives Pee-Wee the incentive to get on the road and see the world.  Along the way Pee-Wee meets a bunch of different people and circumstances.  Some of the skits work, and some work better than others, but overall I enjoy the film.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is about what you'd expect it to be.  I wasn't a big fan of the MTV show Jackass.  Sure I'd watch it from time to time and even laugh at some of the stupidity on display.  Some of those guys were pretty crazy, and Bad Grandpa sort of follows that formula, but with a different turn in that parts of the story are scripted to form a cohesive story, whereas Jackass was just random pranks.  In Bad Grandpa, played by Johnny Knoxsville, he is taking his grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll) to stay with his father until the mother can get out of jail.  Along the way high jinks ensues, which is the part similar to Jackass, Candid Camera, Impractical Jokes, etc.  Some of the stuff runs the gamut of poor taste to redneck humor, and probably my living in Texas has attributed to some of my tolerance for that.  Even though they are pranks, Knoxsville has enough guts to pull off that stuff, which I don't think I could do.  But I did get a laugh or two out of many of the gags.  Particularly funny was the fart contest he and his grandson had in a coffee shop.

I'm always on the lookout for new (or older) movies to add to my Netflix queue.  Recently I added these:

1. Mr. Brooks
2. Man on a Ledge
3. Reign Over Me
4. A Walk Among the Tombstones
5. The Terminal
6. Amy


At 6:18 PM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

I remember those three shows exited but I never watched any of them. Sometimes the one-season TV shows are pretty good even though they never build an audience. I have “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr” on DVD for example, which was an amusing Bruce Campbell vehicle in the 90s that deserved a bigger viewership.

I suppose every decade has light and dark sides, but the 60s were pretty extreme in that regard. Like you I was fortunate enough to live mostly in the light. A 2S student deferment (actually that was 1970, but the first few years of the 70s were a cultural extension of the 60s) certainly helped. I haven’t stopped to watch these decade documentaries, though I’ve seen them listed, but it’s good to know they’re worth a look.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

I don't remember Brisco County very much. I'll have to Google it. I remember Bruce Campbell playing in it. A lot of those shows just didn't show up on my radar screen and that goes for most of the 70s and 80s probably due to working odd shift hours. I never bought any TV Guides either which might have tipped me on certain genre that I might have otherwise overlooked. I'm glad that some of those old programs were saved on DVD though, and that some of the retro channels now show some of them.

Yeah, I can't remember what my deferment was, I want to say 4F because I had a terrible skin condition that kept me out of Vietnam. At the time I went down to register (which I believe was when you turned eighteen), I was so clueless to just about anything. However I guess that's one positive for extreme eczema, about the only one I can think of offhand. Hot and humid climates seemed to aggravate it even more. Then they had the draft and I got a high number, for which I was grateful again. Man, I can't imagine going into that war after seeing so many documentaries on it. I later sided against that war, but respect the vets that served in any of the wars.

At 8:45 AM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

Yeah I enjoyed "Wolf of Wallstreet" more than you did. It thought DiCaprio was really great in the role, charismatic but damn was he a bastard! Yeah Scorcese does go a bit over the top with his style in this one, but I think is suits the character actually. My wife read the book and found it to be tough to get through. You don't like the guy in the movie, but DiCaprio's charisma does a lot to neutralize that. But in the book that personality just comes through so strong, she found it very difficult to get through a story told by an arrogant man she pretty much hated.

I never heard of any of those three sci-fi shows. Don't know how I missed them, we still had TV at that point. My only excuse is that 2005 is when I got laid off, so I had a lot of other stuff on my mind. :)

I really liked Paul Ruben's Pee Wee character. I grew up with him, seeing "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" when I was a kid and finding it the funniest thing I'd seen. Oddly enough that was the first time I ran into Tim Burton as well. I'm curious to see this new film, but not sure if I'll be in the mood for Pee Wee's antics.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Yeah, I think with Wolf of Wall St. I just like some of Scorsese's other films so much better, plus the style in this one reminded me of Goodfellows and Casino, which I enjoyed better. If the book was taken from the author's memoirs, and half of it is true, it make me wonder what all is going on Wall St. Eesh.

I had the same intrepidation about the new Pee-Wee Adventure movie, but they pulled it off pretty well I thought, and still retained some of the magic from the era and the show. You can tell Paul is older, but there again, I believe I read where they did some sort of computer enhancing to make it less noticeable. Since Netflix is now streaming his old TV shows I added those afterwards, as I missed most of them during that era. And I don't think I ever saw the Big Top picture.


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