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Jul 7, 2010

The State of the Cabins (7/7/10)

At this rate, I'll have seen every movie ever made by March 23rd, 2014.

Movies watched for the first time (non-theatrically) since last week:
* Big Fan
This was a bit of a letdown. Directed by the writer of The Wrestler, starring Patton Oswalt in a dramatic role, and that was even before I knew that my main man Kevin Corrigan co-starred (and in a significant role, to boot) as well as a small appearance by Michael Rapaport. I'd heard that the movie was pretty money (Mikey) and that Oswalt was great. Well, Oswalt was pretty good, and the film was just okay.

Patton plays the kind of guy that hopefully none of you know in real life; the guy that sits on hold for hours a day waiting to read off his carefully crafted script on a sports talk radio show. In other words, not just a fan, but a fanatic, a loser, maybe even a deadbeat. It did a decent job of humanizing them, but it just felt a bit empty, and the ending, though I was glad to see it take a twist, remained a letdown. Kind of a no-win situation, I suppose; it's grounded in reality and pretty much stays there - unfortunately, that didn't make for the best film in this case.

Fletch's Film Rating:
Expectation:
"Darn tootin."
Reality:
"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."

* The Neverending Story
OMG Fletch! You never saw The Neverending Story!?!?

No, and I can't say that I ever felt lacking for having not seen it. It's never seemed to be quite in the Goonies/Labyrinth category for people of a certain age - in other words, I've never felt like it was all that loved, so I wasn't missing much, short of seeing the giant dog thing fly (come to find out it's a dragon).

So, of course, I kind of liked it. For a film that came out the same year as The Karate Kid (which has aged so poorly - currently re-watching it right now, oh yeah) and yet contains much more potential to age poorly via being an effects-heavy extravaganza, I was pretty impressed with how well it held up. Sure, there's some poor puppeteering and such, but the flying and modeled fantasy world (creatively titled Fantasia) looked great.

Other random thoughts:

* Gerald McRaney! Didn't see his name in the credits (though I'm sure it was there).

* Much as I liked a lot of aspects of this, the theme song that plays over the opening and closing credits is just about bad enough to ruin it all. I just kept thinking of the Reading Rainbow song instead, which wasn't that much of an improvement.

* The main kid (Bastian - what an awful name) was kind of a poor actor.

* The other main kid (Atreyu) was much better, and had the handicap of working with much harder circumstances (puppets, differently-scaled co-stars, a horse). Kudos to him.

* I can't believe they killed said horse, and so quickly! What was funny was that I swear I saw terror in the horse's eye as it sunk into the quicksand-like swamp. That's some kickass animal acting right there.

* The Empress' house place looked pretty sweet.

* Why bother introducing Top Hat Guy Who Rides a Snail and Other Weird Guy Who Rides a Bat as seemingly important characters, only to ditch them all so soon? A waste there.

* Gotta say, I was pretty surprised/impressed at how bare and voluptuous the Sphinx were. This was a PG-rated kids flick! Ahhh, the 80s. Had I seen this when I was 10, I would have seen it a lot more, that's all I'm saying (yes, I'm a perv, what's your point?)

* The ending was pretty shitty. Spoilerz! I can see how it worked on kids - "yay, he got those bullies and showed 'em what for!" - but wow, what a shitty message to send to the children watching. "Maybe if you're lucky and keep your creativity alive, a dragon from a fantasy world will help you scare the crap out of your tormentors." Way to solve his problems in the real world there.

Fletch's Film Rating:
Expectation:
"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."
Reality:
"Darn tootin."

* Sex Drive
Mostly forgettable teen sex romp. I did, however, watch the unrated yada yada version via Netflix (even though the filmmakers told me not to experience that version first) and am glad I did. Much to their credit, they didn't bullshit around with the "unrated" label. You want gratuitous nudity? This is the movie for you - loads of not only T & A but also quite a bit of B & C & Bs as well - there's a little something for everyone.

I don't think I laughed a ton, and it's pretty stupid, but I didn't hate it, either. The high points were Seth Green's Amish guy, Clark Duke (who has "It," whatever it is), and the characters of Randy and Andy, who might well be ripoffs of Beavis and Butthead, but were far and away the highlight of the flim for me. I would watch their spin-off gladly.

Fletch's Film Rating:
Expectation:
"Whatever."
Reality:
"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."

Music I'm currently obsessed with:
Just got Royksopp's The Understanding CD in the mail yesterday. That'll be on heavy rotation in preparation for Senior, which is coming out soon. I loves me some Royksopp.

Book I'm currently reading:
Finished Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I didn't love it or dislike it. It's a good story, just one that I don't think is all that particularly well-written (I say of an award-winning author). I'm sure the argument could be made that it was written in the tone of the narrator (since it's all first-person and told in flashback form), but that doesn't excuse it in my book. Annoying writing habits are annoying writing habits, no matter how good one's narrative may be; for instance, if the pseudo-Russian of A Clockwork Orange turned you off, there's not much to be said for it in your eyes - you probably didn't like the book.

There's nothing quite so...blunt in Never Let Me Go, just enough to slightly irritate me and distract me from the overall story. Still, I'm looking forward to the movie (which seems to have been cast pretty well) and would recommend the book for those interested in a light sci-fi novel with a heavy British boarding school vibe.

Next up: The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman. I know almost nothing about this other than it's set in Rome and about a publisher or something, and that it's a hot property in Hollywood (specifically with Brad Pitt's production company), and that it's Rachman's first novel. And I'm going to go start it right....now.


10 people have chosen wisely: on "The State of the Cabins (7/7/10)"

Jess said...

I love your description of The Neverending Story. I always liked the movie as a kid, but wasn't sure it would hold up. That and Flight of the Navigator were awesome. Bastian (short for Sebastian, I imagine, though a terrible nickname) wasn't good. Good description of it all though.

Daniel Getahun said...

Took me a second, but I've gotten over the shock that you'd never seen The Neverending Story, and I'm actually very impressed that you were able to sit down and actually try to appreciate this movie as if you were a child. It's one thing to revisit classics from generations past that are believed to hold significance in film history. It's something else entirely to revisit cult movies that a very small portion of the population liked when they were a very particular age. Well done, sir.

That said...the song!?! My God, man, how dare you?! It's one of the most iconic theme songs of the decade!! You have near crossed the line with your knock on the Reading Rainbow theme as well. I simply won't stand for this.

Too bad about Big Fan. Sounds like they had the market cornered on crazy football fans and totally dropped the ball.

Nick said...

Ah, yes, The Neverending Story. A fun little fantasy movie, though it does have its flaws. And who doesn't love the Sphinx scene?

I didn't care for Sex Drive. The movie was imbalanced/all-over-the-place. Though I do agree that Seth Green and Clark Duke were the two best things about it. I tried watching the unrated version. I got about a third of the way through and turned it off. It was abominable. I would rather sit and watch the original version 10 times in a row than watch the unrated version once.

Fletch said...

Jess - yeah, Sebastian, but when I see that name, I just think "Bastard." Still not as bad as Gyllenhaal's name in PoP: "Dastan." I wanted to scream "Just call him Dustin!!"

And yes, I love Flight of the Navigator, even though it hasn't aged as gracefully and/or is just intended for a pretty young audience.

Daniel - what's up! How's married life?

If it makes you feel any better (or worse), I hadn't seen Labyrinth until a couple years ago (hated it).

Thanks for the kudos, butreally, I should be predisposed to liking movies for kids from the 80s, since that's what I was. Meanwhile, when I finally saw Willy Wonka a couple years back, I surely didn't have the love for it that so many do. Damn, that Charlie Bucket's an awful actor. I hadted him with a passion.

LOL - the song is painful. Can I sing the Alvin and the Chipmunks theme song instead and maybe we can agree on that one?

Big Fan was just kinda there. It's certainly not bad, but not very insightful or necessary, either.

Nick - wow, I'm shocked that I liked Sex Drive more than you, and that you couldn't even make it through the unrated version. It's certainly long at 2+ hours, but I can't imagine that all that much was added (aside from the random noodz). And no man, I liked Green and Duke, but those other guys were the best thing. "Yea." "Yea."

The Mad Hatter said...

Much as I tend to guffaw at catalogue titles that people haven't seen - I wouldn't berate you for this one.

NES is the sort of movie that I categorize as "If you didn't see it back then, don't bother with it now" as it tends not to hold up very well. (This in particular isn't one of my favorites).

Oh, and count me in as a non-fan of the song.

Daniel Getahun said...

Take that last comment back, Hatter...

How can you guys not appreciate the vision of this song? Just look at that video.

Anyway, thanks, Fletch. Married life is so far, so good. Now it's back to business catching up on all of those things that were left on the side of the road for a couple of months, movies being unfortunately only one of those things.

I've been trying to see Dragon Tattoo for what feels like about 3 months now and I still haven't made it. Now that the sequel is out this Friday (at least here) the clock is ticking...I hope that one isn't like 5 hours long, too.

Nick said...

Dylan: There's about an extra 20 minutes to the unrated version besides the random nudity. I thought the movie felt too long as it was, but the unrated felt almost never-ending. Between mixing in the unnecessary nudity (I like boobs as much as the next guy, but even I felt that was a bit too much) and showing us multiple takes of the same scenes/mixing in bloopers... it was just too odd.

I didn't HATE the movie; I just didn't think it was all that good. And it could have been that I had literally just finished watching the regular version when I decided to check out the unrated.

Fitz said...

Bummer, I expected more from Big Fan considering Patton and Corrigan are in it.

Rachel said...

I loved Neverending Story as a kid, but just watched it again a few weeks ago and it didn't hold up. I'm surprised you liked it. I didn't see Labyrinth as a kid, so when I finally got around to it in my early 20s, I thought it sucked.

Fletch said...

Hatter - berate away! I expect it from you, damnit. ;)

Daniel - funny you should defend the NES song. Just last night, I forced Mrs. Fletch to watch Lucas for the first time, and I told her that although I knew the music was terrible, I loved it (and still do).

Just got back from The Girl Who Played With Fire. It's about 2 hr 10 mins, so 20 minutes or so shorter than the first. It goes by pretty quickly, at least it did for me.

Nick - "And it could have been that I had literally just finished watching the regular version when I decided to check out the unrated."

Uh...yeah! Talk about a bad idea. A movie you don't love, so you decide to watch a longer version immediately afterwards?

Fitz - Big Fan is by no means bad, and I know a lot of people enjoyed it more than me, I was just expecting...more.

Rachel - me, too. I also thought Labyrinth sucked when I first saw it a couple years ago, but I don't know, I didn't love NES, but I can see why so many do.