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Feb 16, 2011

The State of the Cabins (2/16/11)

Movies watched for the first time (non-theatrically) since last week:

Blazing Saddles
I believe I stated earlier that this is one of those films that I feel like I'd seen prior to actually having sat down and watched it. Over the past three decades, via partial viewings and clip shows and audio clips ("Where the white women at?"), I probably have seen 75% or more of it. And let me tell you, that is not the best way to experience a "seminal" comedy such as this.

I don't think I chuckled more than twice while watching Blazing Saddles. I wanted to like it - I really did - but damned if the thing just ain't funny, or at least not funny anymore to me. I've seen Alex Karras punch a horse, I've heard Cleavon Little proclaim "Excuse me while I whip this out," and lord knows I've ogled the bosom of Robyn Hilton (the governor's, uh, aide) more times than I can count.

So I'm sad to say that I did not terribly enjoy Blazing Saddles, much as that may surprise some and at the same time shock none. That said, I can appreciate it for more the humor it once carried with it, since it's actually about something - something that can't be said for so many spoofs that followed it. Underneath all of the sight gags and toilet humor, Mel Brooks actually brought with him some political commentary, and had a great leading man in Cleavon Little, who could convey more with his eyes to the audience than most people can with a thousand words. How he didn't have a bigger career is the double twist of irony that Brooks unknowingly served - in his Old West, the black man could become the sheriff, but not in the Hollywood of the 70s.

Then again, one of the true joys of Saddles for me was seeing not one but two veterans of the Fletch franchise - Little co-starred in the oft-ridiculed Fletch Lives, and Burton Gilliam (Lyle in Saddles) had a small-but-recognizable role in the original.

Fletch's Film Rating:
"It's in the hole!"
"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Music I'm currently obsessed with:
* The new DeVotchKa is almost here! The new DeVotchKa is almost here! The new DeVotchKa is almost here!

Okay, so there are only about two people that I know that even care about the above statement, but damnit, you should care! DeVotchKa is great, and their latest album, 100 Lovers, is due out March 1. You can listen to the full album in its entirety on NPR until that date. Give them a shot!

Book I'm currently reading:
* Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon.

Nearly finished with this, and I've decided that overall I don't like it. Perhaps it would have helped had I been familiar with and/or read many of Chabon's earlier fiction work, but frankly, I don't care about the details of his personal life or the story of how he came to be the man that he is today.

What bothers me, though, is the way he romanticizes, nostalgicizes, sentimentalizes every seemingly innocuous thing that's either happened to him or his children, turning each and every anecdote (about baseball cards or telescopes or basements) into some sappy love letter to "fill in the blank" - be that a former father-in-law, his own father, his grandfather, et al. It's suffocating me.

I don't know if it's just because I'm not a quote-unquote connissuer of books the way that I am of movies, but I generally like every book I've read since I started reading pretty heavily a couple years ago. And I've enjoyed bits and pieces of this one, like the Lego chapter I detailed last week; there have definitely been parts that have made me think, and there are many, many times where I feel a kinship to the way Chabon thinks. But damned if his ways just don't piss me off and make me think him some kind of bookwormy priss. My least favorite book since Snuff, which looking back, wasn't nearly this hard to get through (and was practically a novella).

Things to Click On
* Simon has completed work on a massive task of his: cataloguing every The Simon and Jo Film Show to date. I made something similar in Excel for the LAMBcast some weeks back but have yet to transfer it online. Expect it soon. (Screen Insight)

* Cut. Print. Review has started a film podcast (Film Spiel) and has two episodes up thus far. I've given them a listen and hereby proffer on them my stamp of approval. Anders and his partner Dave are an engaging duo, providing entertaining yet b.s.-free film reviews of the latest releases (to hit Australia). Worth a listen. (Note: due to some hosting issues, both the main CPR website and the Film Spiel site are down right now, but you can get the details on the Spiel's Facebook page, if you like).

* Stevee counts down her Top 10 Crushes (basically). I'm a bit shocked with her number one - he might be a good actor, but he seems pretty doofy to me. (Cinematic Paradox)

* Kano (Keith) has been kicking major ass on his "50 to see in 2011" list. We're not even through February, and he's already seen and reviewed (at least) 18. I'm right about on pace, with 8/50 seen. Though seeing The Fugitive and Tombstone so long after their release is hurting his opinions towards them, at least somewhat. (Kano's Lay-Z Boy Theater)

* Hatter's fun "Falling for the First Time" series (in which I'll be a future participant...once I see the film I've agreed to see) continued with Mr. Tom Clift this week, who caught Ghostbusters for the first time. Did it survive the hype? (The Dark of the Matinee)

12 people have chosen wisely: on "The State of the Cabins (2/16/11)"

Ryan McNeil said...

...What film were you supposed to watch for my series again? (Just gave Simon an assignment and want to make sure I'm not double-dipping)

Stevee Taylor said...

Ahhhh, thanks for the link!
Andrew Garfield, doofy?!

Fletch said...

Mad - 16 Candles

Stevee - My pleasure! And yes - doofy! He seems like a nerd to me, and not really in a good way. Square might be an apt description. We'll see, though - I've changed my mind on people before.

Jack L said...

I enjoyed Blazing Saddles, it's nothing amazing and it's not as good as Young Frankenstein but at least it's not as horribly bad as Robin Hood Men in Tights, I really hated that film.

Anonymous said...

Yea, Blazing Saddles just isn't that funny. I didn't think Young Frankenstein was all that funny either.

So yea, not a fan of the Brooks films.

Kano said...

Thanks for the love. I did enjoy both of those films - and Tombstone has one of the best characters ever. I do wish I would have seen them sooner though - but glad I finally did.

Alex said...

Sorry you didn't dig Blazing Saddles- it's one of my absolute favorite comedies but I can see how knowing half the jokes would totally mar the first-time viewing experience!

Also awesome I didn't know Devotchka had a new album coming out! I will head over and give it a listen. Have you heard The Go! Team's new one? I really like it so far!

Also also, I'm no Chabon expert, but I can recommend The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. It's a bit overlong, but really interesting and entertaining. Plus it's about comic books!

Univarn said...

I had the advantage of watching Blazing Saddles on a whim with little more knowledge than "Brooks + Comedy" and that was all I needed. However there are some films I wish I had known more about going in than others. With comedies, I think 99% of the time, blind is best.

Fletch said...

Jack - I haven't seen Young Frank, either. (shame) I have, however, seen History of the World (and didn't like it much). I guess Brooks just might not be for me. Though I've got Robin Hood: MIT in my queue...will give that one a shot. I've heard some opposing remarks that have me willing to try it out.

James - yeah, I think I might be with you. Spaceballs has some inspired stuff, though...

Alex - I knew that The Go Team! had a new album out, but I haven't bought or listened to it yet. It's sitting in my Amazon cart waiting for a later date. I'll probably get both (and the Kings of Leon one from a few months back that I haven't heard a single song from) with my next purchase, whenever that is. Oh, and Ben Folds has a new (or not so new at this point) one, too! Gotta get that as well...

I might try some Chabon fiction at some point in the future...but it ain't looking good. I think I'd have to be desperate for reading material.

Univarn - Yup, I'm pretty sure that had I saw Blazing when I was 12 I would have loved the shit out of it. Though I'd still wonder why Von Schtupp's song had to be played out in its entirety...

simoncolumb said...

Thanks for the link! Yeah I have a batty choice for mad hatter! Geddit? I think u and I Fletcher have a weird fascination with nice and neat organisation ... alphabetical, chronological ... chronologically autobiographical ...

Fletch said...

Simon - Yes, I do believe I get it. ;) As for organization, you should see my CD collection...

Nick said...

What about Spaceballs, Fletch?