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Aug 25, 2010

The State of the Cabins (8/25/10)

Things to Click On
* The seven-year long Greatest Comedy Tournament over at Anomalous Material is finally coming to an end. The voting on the two Final Four matchups isn't over yet, but it looks like Airplane! and Monty Python and the Holy Grail in the championship. Stay tuned for the finale, coming soon.

* Film Cynic Steve put up a fun little illustrated movie trivia puzzle. We've each had some issues with some of the artist's choices, but it's still pretty damn cool. Be sure to make your window as big as possible (the image will proportionally expand).

* Fitz of Nevermind Popular Film has a wish list for the third Batman flick. I concur on all points.

* Film Forager Alex's latest Movie Sketch is up - I don't love the film, but I do love this series.

Movies watched for the first time (non-theatrically) since last week:
* The Karate Kid III - I knew this was supposed to be bad, but...I just wasn't prepared for this kind of badness. I loved this movie so much. It's so awful that it makes you long to have been a fly on the wall for the conception of it. The acting from pretty much everyone not named Ralph or Pat is stupendously terrible, the plot unveils new and inventive ways to torture Mr. LaRusso, Macchio, the ending is ridiculous - it's got it all.

Some highlights:

* The millionaire who has nothing better to do with his life than torture a 17-year old and his retired apartment maintenance man mentor, who did nothing more than have the gall to fall ass-backwards into winning a karate tournament one year prior (after having been tormented by several bullies for months, no less).

* Sean Kanan's "performance" as "the Bad Boy of Karate," Mike Barnes. To his credit, he was a full five years younger than the guy he's bullying - he was 23 to Ralph's 28.

* Robin Lively's character/wardrobe - had you just shown me a picture, I would have sworn that she was a bit player on Beverly Hills 90210.

* A bonsai tree store. Seriously. Can't believe those things never took off.

* The trio of bad guys (or at least the two older guys) laughing their demonic, overacting evil guy laugh...seconds after Miyagi had just taken them on three-on-one and kicked their asses. That takes gumption.

Ok, I'll stop. I'm having a really hard time grading this, though, because it's really awful, but so enjoyable. How would one properly rate Roadhouse or Bloodsport?

Fletch's Film Rating:
"I want you to punch me as hard as you can."
"Darn tootin." (in a guilty pleasure kind of way)
Large Association of Movie Blogs

* Kinky Boots - The movie that finally solves the equation, "What do you get when you combine Tommy Boy with The Birdcage?"

Boots, despite being predictable and formulaic, is an enjoyable British comedy, with an appealing star turn from Welsh actor Joel Edgerton (now in theaters in Animal Kingdom, highly touted by Mr. Tom Clift) and a performance that would have earned Chewitall Edgeonthefloor an Academy Award nomination had the film performed better and/or the Academy didn't automatically discount roles in which men play drag queens anymore. He sings, he dances, he walks around gracefully in stilettos - it's a virtuoso performance. Not-quite-stealing the show but adding to the proceedings is Nick Frost, playing a bit of a dick in one of the rare non-Edgar Wright performances I've seen him in.

More below.

Fletch's Film Rating:
"Darn tootin."
"Darn tootin." (in a guilty pleasure kind of way)
Large Association of Movie Blogs

* The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters - I was saddened to read after the fact that the events portrayed in the film are not quite as they seem at times, with certain events omitted and such to add to the tension. Nevertheless, it's a compelling doc that gains steam as it goes along, drawing you in and leaving your mouth agape at these GIANT FUCKING DORKS and the way they spend their lives.

What makes matters a bit worse in that regard is that, with most of these guys, I get it. This is all they have. It's what lights their fire, rings their bell, what have you. They've formed a community of GFDs in which one man is king and the rest are slobbering acolytes that bow in his presence and kiss his ring (and indeed, what a fine, fine villain Billy Mitchell makes; real or no, he's one of the all-time great movie characters, almost a real-life version of Rex Kwon Do).

However, Steve Weibe is not one of these guys. Sure, life dealt him a few breaks. He lost his job and was bored at home. But this guy was obviously not one of...those...guys all his life - he's got a relatively attractive wife, a couple kids, a decent home near Seattle. WTF is he doing with his life, aside from playing the "chump," the sad sack that has had some decent skills and talents all his life, but just can't seem to break through (in other words, he's a completely normal guy).

I had trouble feeling too bad for Weibe, and was left mostly wondering some of the questions that didn't get answered. What exactly drove him to Donkey Kong (of all games) and why would he do such a thing to his family? Surely, he spent hours a day playing this thing in place of giving his family attention and/or finding a job. The most poignant lines in the whole film came from his elementary-school aged daughter:
Jillian Wiebe: I never knew that the Guinness World Record Book was so... I never knew it was so important.
Steve Wiebe: I guess a lot of people are... yeah, a lot of people read that book.
Jillian Wiebe: [while directly looking at Steve, her father] Some people sort of ruin their lives to be in there.
Game. Set. Match. Jillian wins.

Fletch's Film Rating:
"You're the best...around!"
"Darn tootin." (in a guilty pleasure kind of way)
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Music I'm currently obsessed with:
* Mrs. Fletch was watching Kinky Boots the other night while I was asleep. I was having some weird dream, at which point a song began playing in my head. For whatever reason, I woke up. What's playing on the TV? The end credits to Boots, which feature the following song, "In These Shoes?" by one-time Pogues collaborator Kirsty MacColl. I don't know about you, but I think it's terribly cool whenever something that just happened in real life enters the midway point of your dream - yeah, yeah, Inception illustrated this point perfectly with the whole "time lasts longer in a dream" business.

Anyway, it's a very Sex In the City-ish song (and was even used in the show at one point), but it's been in my head a lot ever since. The vocals and lyrics are actually pretty awful, but the overall vibe is a lot of fun.

Book I'm currently reading:
* Battle Royale. Despite being warned by Nick of the difficulty of learning the character's names (no less than 42 Japanese names, all of which appear the same, male or female, to these Western eyes), I was still struck at how difficult it was to get past that at first. Thankfully, one lead character has emerged (I'm about 50 pages in), so that's helping out quite a bit. Great that I was able to get past that, because the set-up is so great, and it's pretty well-written thus far. The students have just had the ball dropped on them, so it's really getting good now. Big book, though, so be prepared to see it here for awhile.

5 people have chosen wisely: on "The State of the Cabins (8/25/10)"

Alex said...

Yeah Kinky Boots is pretty cute! And I loved The King of Kong, it's so ridiculous. That conversation you noted made me laugh out loud.

Also thanks for the plug!

Nick said...

You say "Big Fucking Dorks" like it's a bad thing...

I love King of Kong. It and Man On Wire are my two favorite Documentaries ever.

And yay for Battle Royale! Yeah, despite having 42+ characters, there are a set bunch you stick with. It takes a while, but you start learning who is who, as they keep going back to certain characters. I think there are about 3 main groups of good guys (Shuya's party, Shinji's party, and Hiroki) and 2 main, though separate, bad guys (Mitsuko Souma and Kazuo Kiriyama). Can't wait to see what you think overall.

Daniel Getahun said...

Ha, "GFD"'s! Like that.

I was able to enjoy King of Kong when it first hit theaters, well before the "controversies" that swarmed around its accuracy, etc. But for me it was never about the game or the records, anyway, but about the character traits of Billy and Steve. I found the interviews with them endlessly fascinating, with the other GFD's providing some amusement on the side.

Will be interesting to see how the feature film tells the story. I have no idea why they couldn't leave well enough alone, but then that's the biz.

Castor said...

Thanks for the link Fletch!
Bonsais are awesome!

Fletch said...

Alex - my pleasure!

Nick - Yes, it might be pretty ironic to mock those dudes for being GFDs (not "big") considering how I spend much of my free time. However, I stand by it - the lion's share of them...I don't know, it's just too geeky and pointless for me to understand and condone. It's their entire life. They need Bill Shatner to show up and have a chat with them. I mena, I love movies, but not for every waking hour...

Daniel - thankfully, I wasn't aware of any of the controversies prior to seeing Kong. I just read about them on the Trivia page at IMDb. Doesn't lessen the enjoyment of the film, but it's just a shame to hear that about any doc, especially one so loved and touted. Feels fabricated.

And I had no idea they were making a feature. Very interesting...

Castor - word.