August 13, 2017

Real Genius

The best movie about science nerds still holds up 30 years later. I have the DVD and have seen this movie many times over the years, but it was fun to watch in Cambridge, where I must have been surrounded by MIT students?
I like this movie way more than Revenge of the Nerds. Revenge of the Nerds makes fun of the nerds while also letting them use their brains to defeat the jocks. Also, Revenge of the Nerds is a sex comedy, where the protagonist essentially rapes a jock's girlfriend while disguised as Darth Vader.
Unlike Revenge of the Nerds, there's no nerds vs. jocks rivalry in Real Genius- the antagonism comes from the nice students vs the jackass student Kent and their professor. There's no jocks to be seen anywhere. The nerds don't wear pocket protectors and thick glasses and laugh weird.
It feels like the writers and director of Real Genius wanted to keep sex out of their movie. There's only a brief kiss between Mitch and Jordan, and a weird sub-subplot where a random blonde woman tries to have sex with Mitch - apparently she's turned on by brainy men- but ends up with Lazlo instead.
I appreciate that Mitch, the 15-year-old protagonist, is a unattractive kid who actually looks 15. Real Genius might make a good double feature with Almost Famous, another movie about a teen prodigy who ends up in over his head and struggles to cope with life in the real world?
I was glad to see a bunch of nonwhite students, and Jordan, the "hyperkinetic" female engineer who builds stuff constantly, never sleeps, and refinishes the hardwood floors of her dorm room with an industrial sander in the middle of the night.
THEATER NOTES: I saw Real Genius at the Brattle Theatre, part of their Women Directing 80s Comedy series. I used to go to movies at the Brattle a lot from 2002-2005, but not anymore: I just searched this blog and confirmed that before Real Genius, I have only been to the Brattle once in ten years, and that was to see Snowpiercer in 2014, which was a Brattle-exclusive screening. I guess the Brattle fell out of favor with me because they changed to a totally impractical scheduling system - instead of scheduling a "James Bond" series, or a "Woody Allen" series every Thursday for 4 weeks, they show all the films in several days in a row. If I want to see 2 or 3 or 4 "Women direct 80s comedies" for example, I have to spend a whole weekend at the theater, instead of once a week.

August 5, 2017

Guys Movie Night: Atomic Blonde

Charlize Theron kicks ass! Great innovative fight scenes - at one point she fights a guy for so long, they're both so tired they can barely hold their arms up anymore. Great costumes, and James McAvoy is a total degenerate!
It delivered on the intention to match John Wick for serious action, but I found Theron a little one-note with her stoic performance. A little too much staring unblinking in the mirror.
The plot was far too familiar - hunting for a microfilm list of all covert agents in Europe? The framing device is also hackneyed: Theron is being debriefed on her failed mission by her handlers in an interrogation room.
The soundtrack was almost all English and German New Wave music - Til Tuesday's "Voices Carry" was the only American song I remember - including "The Politics of Dancing" by Re-Flex. "The Politics of Dancing" is playing in the nightclub where Theron meets up with French spy Lasalle (Sofia Boutella). When they start to kiss in the toilet I think "please don't cut away before my favorite part of the song comes on" and BANG as soon as the kickass synth solo comes on, they smash-cut to their hot-and-heavy sex scene!
CASTING NOTE: Turns out I have seen Sofia Boutella in two movies recently- she was the henchman with razor-sharp blades for feet in Kingsman: The Secret Service, and she was excellent as the white-faced alien in Star Trek Beyond.
TRAILER NOTES: Suburbicon looks like a Coen Brothers movie they decided to hand off to George Clooney because they can't be bothered; The Snowman looks far too scary and cliche'd for me; I am sure they have screwed up this adaptation of IT; Thor: Ragnarok looks like it could be funny.
AMC Burlington Theater 4 with Adam and Tom.

August 4, 2017

164 Second Half of Summer

  1. ‘Bad Blood’ ⊗ Ryan Adams
  2. ‘Ghosts of American Astronauts’ ⊕ The Mekons
  3. ‘Electrolite’ (live) ⊗ R.E.M.
  4. ‘J-Boy’ ⊕ Phoenix
  5. ‘Glass Onion’ ⊗ The Beatles
  6. ‘Skin Trade’ ⊕ Duran Duran
  7. ‘The Man’ ⊗ The Killers
  8. ‘Hang Fire’ ⊗ The Rolling Stones ∅ One of the Rolling Stones singles that I never paid any attention to.
  9. ‘Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)’ ⊕ Digable Planets
  10. ‘Wash Your Face In My Sink’ ⊗ Dream Warriors
  11. ‘Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta’ ⊗ Geto Boys
  12. ‘One Step Up’ ⊕ Bruce Springsteen ∅ Even as a dumb 15-year-old, I knew listening to the Tunnel Of Love album that Bruce's marriage was in bad shape. Dave Marsh described this song as "as miserable a cheating song as even Nashville ever knew" and I couldn't agree more. It's eerie how the vocal line "me, baby I'm pretending" is echoed by his future mistress, and future second wife Patti!
  13. ‘Isle Dans la Mer’ ⊗ Sweet Crude ∅ we saw this fun group live in the MFA courtyard this summer. This song feels like a New Pornographers tune!
  14. ‘Brill Bruisers’ ⊕ The New Pornographers
  15. ‘Patient Zero’ ⊗ Aimee Mann
  16. ‘Run To You’ (live) ⊕ Bryan Adams
  17. ‘Pot kettle black’ ⊗ Wilco
  18. ‘Tougher Than The Rest’ ⊕ Shawn Colvin ∅ Another melancholy song from Tunnel Of Love, this time covered by Shawn Colvin
  19. ‘Shop Vac’ ⊗ Jonathan Coulton
  20. ‘I Can't Hold Back’ ⊕ Survivor
  21. ‘You're The Best’ ⊗ Joe "Bean" Esposito ∅ The line "You're the best around" cracks me up. So there are better people, but not nearby?

August 2, 2017

L.A. Story

Sarah Jessica Parker
wearing the most 1991
costume imaginable.
An affectionate, absurd, silly satire of Los Angeles. Steve Martin wrote the movie and it's a treat to watch a feature that feels like it has his indelible stamp on it. Steve Martin veers into neurotic Woody Allen territory at times, especially during his arguments with Sara (his IRL wife Victoria Tennant), but this is supposed to be a left-coast Manhattan, so that makes some sense. The end of the movie is especially wifty: I can't tell if there's two Enya songs or the same one twice, but I guess it's appropriate for a movie about L.A. to become indulgent and self-important at the end.
This re-view also reaffirmed my feeling that -- much like rom-com masterpiece Four Weddings and a Funeral -- L.A. Story also succeeds despite the miscast lead actress. I said to my wife "Victoria Tennant is not very attractive and she doesn't jump off the screen...BUT maybe this movie wouldn't be so good with a better-looking actress?" and she shot back "no, she's got Resting Bitch Face and she can't act" so I felt a lot better about finding her contribution lacking.
It's rarely a good idea to cast your spouse to work opposite you in a movie, but it's especially grim when you are supposed to be falling in love, yet IRL you're divorced three years later.