Zany Miscellany

Over the past month I’ve watched a number of films and TV shows that didn’t really light my creative flame. A few brief thoughts about each of them:

GHOSTBUSTERS 2 (1989)

I remember going to see this one at my home town’s little movie theater because I got some kind of “perfect attendance” award at school.

Watching it now, it doesn’t measure up to the original Ghostbusters (1984) at all. The scene that baffles me is when they detect intense spirit activity beneath a certain street. They decide to investigate – by dressing up as construction workers, jackhammering through the street, and lowering Dan Aykroyd into the sewers on a winch. Was that the most efficient plan they could come up with? Where’d they get the equipment? Where’d they get the costumes? Did they think nobody would notice?

TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL (2010)

This is sort of The Man Who Knew Too Little of horror movies – a couple of well-intentioned mountain folk are on vacation at a remote cabin, and a bunch of college kids get slaughtered in a series of hilarious-yet-deadly misunderstandings. One of the hillbillies tries to explain it to a suspicious police officer: “There we were minding our own business, just doing chores around the house, when kids started… killing themselves all over my property!”

The horror genre (and slasher films in particular) has been deconstructed and parodied endlessly. It would almost be shocking to see one that doesn’t wink at the audience the whole time. The next revolution in horror movies may be making movies that are actually scary again.

SCANDAL (2012)

My main takeaway from the first episode of this series is that Olivia Pope is tough. Like, really tough. She’s a no-nonsense working lady. She has to carry her balls in a wheelbarrow. She out-maneuvers Russian mobsters. She brushes her teeth with a grill brush. She solves murders. She drinks ipecac straight with no chaser. She tells the President to wait for her.  She created Napster and bitcoin and knows what really happened to Flight 370.

I had to object to one scene, though. When Olivia confronts the President about lying to her, he does the slow “I’m going to kiss you” approach, backing her into a corner (insert requisite Bill Clinton reference). She says, “Do not touch me. Don’t touch me. Please don’t…” He touches her. Then they breathe heavily into each others faces for a few seconds and kiss. Then she tries to get away and he does it again. I know that, as viewers, we’re supposed to find this “hot” and “seductive,” but to me it seemed… how should I say it?… rape-y. In the extreme, actually.

Again, I know that, as viewers, we’re supposed to think, “Oh, well, she’s saying not to touch her, but secretly she’s attracted to him and wants him to.” That’s obviously what the President thinks. So it’s okay to force yourself on someone if you’re convinced they secretly mean the opposite of what they say. It seemed like a pretty murky message for a show with such a strong female lead.

MONSTERS (2010)

When I turn on a movie called “Monsters” that purports to be about two people lost in an area swarming with giant alien monsters, there are a number of things I don’t want to have happen. I don’t want there to be a lot of shaky camera-work that makes it hard to tell what’s happening. I don’t want there to be some cheesy message about how people are the “real” monsters. I don’t want to go through 45 minutes of the movie without seeing any monsters. I don’t want to see only a couple blurry shots of the cheap CGI monsters until the very end. I don’t want there to be interminable scenes where the lead characters talk about anything BUT the monsters. I don’t want the lead characters to die at the end, making all that development pointless.

Monsters does all these things. Do not see Monsters.

ROOM 237 (2012)

This was supposedly a documentary about the “meaning” of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (which was based on a book by Stephen King [which pretty plainly reveals the meaning of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining]).

One guy claims it was about the slaughter of the Indians. His proof: there is a picture of an Indian in the hotel. Another guy thinks that secret information will be revealed by playing the movie forward while superimposing the movie playing backward on top of it. A female critic… I don’t know, she shows off some maps she made of the hotel and thinks that a certain window couldn’t have been where the movie shows it to be. But the craziest one of all is the guy who not only thinks that Kubrick helped the U.S. government fake the moon landing, but that the movie is his hidden commentary on the inner turmoil he experienced in keeping this fact a secret from his wife. My only regret (other than watching this film) is that I was not high while watching this film.

There is a guy named Geoffery Cocks in it. Yes, I laughed.

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