Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Scary Movie Month - Week 4 - Tuesday

So... our awesome, exciting plans for tonight have been changed, turns out some folks want The Dude's band to play this really awesome gig tonight so he'll be heading out to do that tonight, rather than tucking in cosily at home.

Bah.

Just as well, I suppose, since I really should be resting for Sunday's race, getting as much sleep as I can possibly can, rather than staying up late to watch scary movies and then staying up later still so I don't go to sleep thinking about those movies.

Well, because I am mostly a good sport (and because I should really be going to bed early), we have created new exciting plans for tonight and then for later this week. Both involving kidlets and therefore taking place earlier in the evening. I'll report back on those once they actually happen.

Yesterday, however, we kept to the original plan which meant watching this soul-sucker:

Sleepaway Camp (1983)
After we finished watching this, we listened to a bit of commentary and were astounded to realize that this was evidently some kind of cult classic. And even more surprised to go online and find out that there were another three, yes three, sequels. Well, I won't give away the twist ending, but will just say that this movie was not scary, not funny, and not enjoyable. And that it is clearly a product of its time (early 80s), so some of its premises were not amusing to me at all. Overall... meh.

I understand that the exact reasons I disliked it are why some people enjoy this type of movie, that it is a type (bad 80's teen slasher movie), and to be enjoyed as camp, as fodder for ridicule, in comparison to others of its type, and so on. I'm just not the right audience for it then. I take my movies too seriously to enjoy watching something just to make fun of it (hence my inability to enjoy "Plan 9 From Outer Space") and yet not seriously enough to dig down into what makes this one better/worse/different from others like it. Oh well. The Dude insists on one teen slasher movie each year (I thought "The Cabin In The Woods" was enough of that trope to count for this year's but I guess not) and so this year "Sleepaway Camp" was it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Scary Movie Month - Week 4 Countdown - Sunday & Monday

After the last batch of disappointing movies (and the last couple of weeks' movie viewing being disrupted by illness, kids, work, or rehearsals), we determined to end the month with selections we knew would be satisfying. Plus a special surprise for Halloween night itself!


Sleepy Hollow (1999 - Tim Burton)
Oh, Tim Burton. We can always count on you for a visual treat. And oh, Johnny Depp. We can always count on you for, well, we can just count on you. This was beautiful to watch, plus funny, interesting, moving, and scary but not that much. My only quibble is that Christina Ricci kind of breaks the mood when she first speaks but that eases as the movie goes on. Don't know that I'd want to own this but I would certainly watch it again.

Spirited Away (2001 - Hayao Miyazaki)
Somehow it got really late in the evening before we were even ready to begin watching (and this is a long one), but I had a taste for a beautiful Japanese ghost story and so we plunged in. I love this movie. I love pretty much all the Studio Ghibli movies, though I'm behind in my viewing. Though after this The Dude and I thought we might just immerse ourselves in Japanese animation for a while. The last time I watched this was before we had kids, so it was interesting to watch it both from the perspective of a parent and with a child's sensibility in mind.

And for those who might say this doesn't count as a scary movie, I would say that any movie that features vomiting ghosts, bleeding serpents, attacking paper birds, the possibility of parents being eaten, and a ferocious witch, counts as scary in my book.

For tonight it's either a teenage slasher movie (since we haven't had one this year so far), or, if it doesn't come in today's mail, one from our growing collection of scary movies. I was joking with The Dude that at this point we have enough to stock a whole month's worth. Maybe some year we'll get rid of Netflix and just watch what we own.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Scary Movie Month - Weeks #2 & 3

We've moved into the last week of Scary Movie Month which means I need to get on the ball with my movie notes! We had a couple of, mmm, odd weeks... nothing that really hit right. But we made up for it with Buffy watching - we are finally moving through the last season!

Here's what we did watch:

Fright Night (2011 version)
Oh, what a disappointment. I'm not going to do a side-by-side comparison with the 1985 version, in part because it just fell through on pretty much everything but production values and visuals and also because I'm just not that much of a geek. But it wasn't as funny or as moving, and it gave its scares away too soon. Part of the enjoyment of the original is the "is he or isn't he" suspense. There was no suspense in this version. I thought it picked up at the end when we got to see more David Tennant, and I think there was some good visual stuff that stayed with me afterwards, but otherwise I would give it a pass.

Dead Alive (1992 - Peter Jackson - originally released as Braindead)
Whoa. Absolutely the most disgusting movie I have ever seen. Also incredibly funny. I would totally watch it again. Thankfully the gore is all pre-CGI so it's clearly fake and over-the-top. Otherwise I probably would have thrown up instead of just thinking I was going to. There's so much fantastic about this I don't know what to single out except maybe... zombie baby.

The Village (2004 - M. Night Shyamalan)
Another disappointment. This time because there was so much potential... great actors, beautifully shot, grand music, interesting ideas... and then it fell off the rails, storywise. And the problem with that in a suspense movie is that you then walk away thinking less of it as time goes on, instead of admiring it more and more as you think about it. There were hints to its flaws early on... we talk when watching movies at home and I asked about a couple of things that just didn't feel right... but I didn't realize it was going to fail itself as epically as it did. Sigh.

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959 - Ed Wood)
This one is often viewed as one of the worst movies ever. I think we thought that the kitschiness might make it amusing. Alas, no. Boring, yes. I kept falling asleep and finally gave up and went to bed. The Dude started practicing guitar and lost track of what was going on. And it was only 80 minutes long!

Thankfully things have started picking up again... full report after Halloween!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Reason #54 To Stay In Chicago

The Grind Cafe. Where else am I going to go after a great swim to get my hot chocolate with almond milk (not soy), listen to Neko Case, view great one-of-a-kind poster art, donate gently used winter clothing to refugees through the Heartland Alliance, and otherwise get my oh-so-precious but really kind of vulnerable and touching peace-to-all-things-and-people groove on?

And the beauty of Chicago is that even if we move from this neighborhood, there are a hundred other places (not quite) like it.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

No, I'm Not*

Some people use their blogs to announce what they plan to do, to put it out into the world and for everyone (who reads their blog) to see and hold them accountable to it.

Me, I'm going to post what I'm not going to do. So that if later I start frothing at the mouth you all can stop me and say, "Hey Annie, now wait a minute. Didn't you swear not to do this?"

I'm not going to train for a marathon next year.

Oh, I want to, I want to.

To repeat: I am not going to train for a marathon next year.

No? Really? Maybe just a little one?

I am NOT going to train for a marathon next year.**

Sigh. Whimper.

I make no promises abut 2014, however.

*And no, I'm not pregnant, either. I swear, I've been getting asked that question a lot lately.

** I hardly need to explain why not, given that I haven't even managed to get a simple blog post written in the past two weeks despite having plenty to talk about. I'm thinking I might try having balance and simplicity be my mantras for next year.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Scary Movie Month - Week 1

I've never had to worry about spoilers with my Scary Movie Month reports in the past, because the movies we were seeing were typically already many years out of the theaters (and because I report more on my response to them rather than details about them). But last weekend we saw two that were released fairly recently, with plot points that could, if known about in advance, perhaps lessen one's enjoyment of them. Just possibly. Not for someone like me, of course, who frequently skips to the end of books, but for someone like The Dude, who will avoid reading reviews of movies he's interested in so as not to sully his viewing experience. So I will be careful in this post.


The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard, 2011)

Classic Joss Whedon. (Yes, it was directed by Goddard, but Whedon co-wrote it and it has Whedon stamped all over it.) Scary, interesting, sad, funny, disturbing. A treat to see so many familar actors used in very different ways. This is one that will stick with me... and that I had no immediate desire to see again. Because, in the end, I was left with such a feeling of sadness.

Except... as one reviewer writes about it (on IMDB):
The resolution. The end. The explanation to everything that's been going on, and also possibly the greatest 20 minutes ever shown in horror movie history. This is the part where the audience is silent and speechless as every die-hard horror fan's dream is realized on screen. All your dedication, love, and sacrifice for this genre is justified. The credits roll, you walk out of the theater saying to yourself, "Did that just happen?" - and then you buy another ticket and watch it again.
Yes. If you have any love of horror, you should see this movie. And yes, I will probably watch it again, avidly.



Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, 2011)

Fantastic. Aliens attack. Home is threatened. Unexpected alliances are formed, an unexpected hero rises to the occasion. All classic alien-movie tropes, always satisfying if done well enough. But wait! Home is British council-housing, the hero is a thug. Not so easy to root for?

I think what I liked best about this movie is the richness to the characters (and the housing estate is itself a character). Not sterotypes, not easy to sum up. Lots to think about. And then just the pleasure in watching, a visceral satisfaction that I think we then go to great lengths to try to explain, but really can come down to a bodily pleasure. This is one that we will likely own someday.


Looking forward to this weekend's viewing! And in the meantime, we've gone back to Buffy, and our seemingly never-ending quest to actually finish the whole thing. We are finally in the seventh season, and things have finally gotten good. (Though I cringed through all of the episode last night, and didn't start enjoying it until the last third. That's what fast-forward is for.)

Monday, October 8, 2012

My Chicago Marathon Sunday (No, I Didn't Run)

This year, I observed the Chicago Marathon by:
  • Cheering on my husband as he went for his long run before church;
  • Making french toast for breakfast in honor of my friend B, who was running;
  • Baking apple pie and cornbread (The Dude made chili) in honor of our anniversary and because I am too poor* right now to buy The Dude a nice present;
  • Deciding not to do my long run so that we could have a more relaxed day at home with the kids (who knew it took so long to make apple pie?);
  • Watching a scary movie and drinking good beer;
  • Dreaming about running it next year!
Congratulations to all who ran it!

*Shorthand for "I am well aware that I am not really poor by any standards but I do not currently have much discretionary income in general, and none at all this month. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Scary Movie Month Begins!

Last night. The Manchurian Candidate (1962). With Angela Lansbury and Frank Sinatra. And really good India Brown Ale and homemade pumpkin bread.

Very interesting ( I managed to stay up for the whole thing despite being desperately tired), and deliciously creepy in some key places. Not super scary, more thrilling, but I have to work up to the scare each year.

We've got a pretty packed schedule this month so it will be lighter on movies than some other years - all the more reason to really savor the ones we do get to watch.

Let the chills (and squeals) begin!