Thursday, February 22, 2018

Girlfriend in a Coma

Film: The Big Sick
Format: DVD from Sycamore Public Library on laptop.

The most interesting thing going into The Big Sick for me was Kumail Nanjiani, who I’d seen before here and there. I realized as well that I’d Zoe Kazan as well. I was less excited about her, though, because Zoe Kazan starred in and wrote Ruby Sparks, which I hated. Still, the demand of the list being what it is, I knew I had to watch it. Also, not wanting to end this with a bunch of 2017 movies, and having not many available at this point, it seemed like The Big Sick was a natural.

I’m delighted to say that The Big Sick is difficult to classify. It’s not really a dramedy and it’s not a rom-com even though it has all of these elements. It’s a slice of life story about the real Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gardner—how they met, fell apart, and came back together, mostly because of a near-fatal illness that struck Emily.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Off Script: The Satanic Rites of Dracula

Film: The Satanic Rites of Dracula
Format: DVD from personal collection on rockin’ flatscreen.

Christmas money is a wonderful thing. Give me a $50 gift card and a used DVD store and I’m a happy man. I’m even happier when I locate a two-disc set of something like The Satanic Rites of Dracula for a good price (I got And Now the Screaming Starts! and a few others, too). I’m of the opinion that you can’t have enough Hammer horror, Peter Cushing, or Christopher Lee in one’s personal collection, so I snapped it up.

I can’t say I’m having buyer’s remorse, but it is certainly one of the oddest films in my collection. Yes, it’s a vampire film as the name would suggest, but this is not one of those Hammer films that tries to get all gothic on things. It takes place in the time it was filmed, so it’s a modern Dracula with modern henchmen and modern detectives working a case. Oh, there are certainly some acknowledgments of the source material beyond Dracula being the main foil and being played by Christopher Lee. After all, you can’t have a Dracula film starring Lee without putting Peter Cushing on the cast list as Van Helsing, can you?

Sunday, February 18, 2018


Film: The Rose
Format: DVD from NetFlix on laptop.

There are a few important things I need to say before I delve too far into The Rose. The first is that I am an unabashed fan of Bette Midler as a human being; I think she’s aces. The second is that I’m not a huge fan of Bette Midler as a performer. Her style on stage as a singer doesn’t do a lot for me. Third, since that this is more or less an unofficial biopic of Janis Joplin, I should come clean on the fact that I genuinely dislike Janis Joplin as a singer. This means there are going to be some pain points for me here—we’ve got someone I don’t love as a performer acting as someone I don’t like as a performer, and she performs a lot.

So, yeah, this is an unofficial Janis Joplin biopic, which is clear pretty quickly. In fact, the only reason it’s not an official biopic is that Joplin’s family wouldn’t allow it. This is how the name of this movie went from Pearl to The Rose in the first place. And, unlike a true biopic, The Rose covers a very short period of time, a period that is awash in bad behavior, drugs, and alcohol.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Off Script: The Thing from Another World

Film: The Thing from Another World
Format: Turner Classic Movies on rockin’ flatscreen.

I have a huge soft spot for science fiction from the 1950s. There’s something wonderfully na├»ve and goofy about it, a charm that really doesn’t exist in any other combination of time and genre in film history. Science fiction from these years contain the promise of galactic exploration and the danger of alien civilizations, often tinged with hints of Cold War politics. There’s nothing quite like them. When The Thing from Another World popped up on TCM, I jumped at the chance to record it and rewatch it.

The biggest issue with The Thing from Another World is something that isn’t its fault. The film was reimagined in 1982 by John Carpenter, and Carpenter’s version is just about perfect. Unless you’re already a fan, it’s hard to get really excited about a version of the story that isn’t as good as the one you’ve already seen. Still, it’s sometimes nice to see where it comes from, and in this case, The Thing from Another World paved some ground that Carpenter later used to his own great advantage.