Movie Binge: Diary 7/28 to 8/3/21

Faulty memory, a toothache, work on Kick Me, a dream, Lin Yutang quotes, depression, Twitter, and twelve movies reviewed briefly; not much else.

Copyright 2021 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Dwight Frye, Maude Eburne, on-set of the Film, "The Vampire Bat", 1933  Stock Photo - Alamy
Dwight Frye and Maude Eburne in The Vampire Bat

{7/28/21}  Weight 215.6 at 5:25 am.

The $1,400 stimulus I received in January I had been “saving” for a car is now down to about $900.  Pissed away $500, mostly over the last 30 days.

Faulty memory strikes again:  I received $1,400 in April, not January.  In January I received $600.  There is no $2,000 waiting to be deposited.  I’ve got all I’m going to get.  If T wants more than $1,000 for his car, it’ll have to be done with time payments.

More bad news is that I have a toothache.  This morning it’s hardly noticeable; last night it was very much on my mind despite doses of Tylenol and, later, aspirin.  Chickens coming home.

Better news is that I’m up to page 33 in my edit of the KM file.

{7/29/21}  Weight 216.2 at 6:25 am.

Didn’t get much done on KM yesterday because of grocery shopping in the morning and Pablo was here all day.

We argued about Steppenwolf again, to no good purpose.

The latest installment of “Hollywood Comedy Legends” was Something Special (1986), about a teenaged girl, Millie, who wishes to be a boy and gets her wish, becoming Willie.  It was modestly amusing, Pamela Segall as the girl was appealing, the bullying subplot was tiresome, and her father was quite annoying.  Patty Duke was wasted in a supporting role as Millie-Willie’s mother.  Not a movie to watch again, or even once, but well above the average for this twelve DVD package.

Now, to work.

{7/30/21}  Weight 216.0 at 2:45 am; 215.4 at 6:00 am.

{7/31/21}  Weight 216.4 at 6:20 am.

An amusing dream this morning.  A man pursued by a large flock of flightless birds.  Another man was safe among them, although he had a few such birds in cages.  The man pursued turned on the attackers, throwing large rocks.  That’s all I remember.

I’ve watched a number of movies in the last couple of days, including Organizm, about an escaped biological weapon, thoroughly forgettable; Feast, with a good premise reasonably and amusingly carried out, with much gore, but with annoying characters; and The Vampire Bat, an old one from the “Screaming Skull Collection,” which was amusing largely because of Dwight Frye, here continuing his “Renfield” character, though the name was different.

But easily the best was M. Night Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water, advertised as “A Classic Bedtime Story For A New Generation” [sic].  Paul Giamatti plays an apartment manager who discovers a naked, ethereal Bryce Dallas Howard swimming in the apartment pool after 7:00 pm, which is against house rules.  It’s rated PG-13 for “some frightening sequences,” so the nudity is handled very coyly.  Howard whispers throughout the movie (subtitles recommended) and often seems on the verge of catatonia, so she’s largely reduced to the status of a plaster cast, and in that sense wasted.  Giamatti is very good in a sympathetic role, and the supporting cast of apartment dwellers is also very good.  The point of the movie really is the moral, a rather typical message of New Age squish, but one wants to believe it.  To say much more would require spoilers; if the “bedtime story” label doesn’t put you off, give it a try.  Good music from James Newton Howard.

Throughout I was thinking how Pablo would love this movie, since the metaphysics or theology is practically his verbatim, and I kept thinking of superlatives such as, “I think you’ll love this better than any of the last hundred movies you’ve seen.”  Nog also might like it, though I think that far less certain.

I’m always curious about “Night’s” movies because they’re always unusual, though not always very effective.  The Village, for instance, seemed nothing more than an extended Twilight Zone episode, but Split, Glass, and the third of the trilogy seemed generally effective, entertaining, and more than usually interesting, though I don’t know how well they hung together as a story.  Signs I like a lot.

Work on Kick Me progresses, though I’m not going to make my end-of-the-month deadline for this rewrite.  I’m on page 60, about halfway through.  The revised version will be much more readable, if it’s readable at all.

The Descent from 2005 is a very claustrophobic spelunking movie which turns into a splatterfest horror movie.  An opening car crash annoyed me, it’s such a cliché.  Six adventurous young women explore a cave and bad things happen.  I had to turn it off after half an hour last night because the claustrophobia was oppressive; I watched the rest today.  Some of the climbing techniques were interesting, but spoiled by a silly amateurish move at a critical moment.  Good production values, and the no-name actresses (at least, none that I recognized) do excellent jobs all around, but I could hardly tell one from another, not that it mattered much.  I think it’s not a good movie, largely because of (apologies for this mild spoiler) the editing of the fight scenes—herky-jerky camera work with choppy editing left me wondering who had done what to whom.  The ending was disappointing.  The “making-of” featurette added a lot of interest, however, and I really found it more worthwhile than the movie itself.  An astonishing 86% from Rotten Tomatoes, including some rave reviews (like “best horror movie in the last 20 years”).

Watched Darkness from 2002, starring Anna Paquin.  One of the worst horror movies I’ve ever seen, basically a haunted house thing, but we are subjected to a “barrage” (the director’s word) of images that make no sense.  The depiction of a solar eclipse, which “happens every forty years”—! was preposterous.  Perhaps it was my imagination or even just my dirty mind at work, but it seemed to me that Paquin was parading through the movie in tight top after tight top.  The ending is burdened with an endless explanatory monologue from the all-too-predictable villain.  Earns a well-deserved 4% from Rotten Tomatoes.

{8/1/21}  Weight 215.6 at 6:50 am.

Watched The Skin Game (1931) of Alfred Hitchcock.  A good drama based on a story by John Galsworthy.  Surprisingly effective and entertaining on its own terms, not just because it’s early Hitchcock.  Occasionally interesting cinematography, more often annoying because heads are cut off, possibly a result of poor handling in the digital transfer.  An upper-class family in dispute with a middle-class family in Britain.  The sound quality was poor enough that I couldn’t hear parts of the dialogue, but I doubt that I missed anything of importance.  A little extra interest was added by Edmund Gwenn playing antagonist, a greedy industrialist.  Tony Curtis provides an unnecessary introduction.  An astonishing 38% from Rotten Tomatoes, the main complaint seemingly that it’s “stagy.”  The actress playing the crucial role of the upper-class wife is listed as “Helen Haye,” but RT shows a photo of Helen Hayes.  I believe that it was not bigtime star Helen Hayes in the movie—she’s familiar from A Farewell to Arms from 1932 and was too young for the role in Skin Game.

Hemlock Club today.

{8/2/21}  Weight 217.6! at 5:00 am.

Watched The X Files: I Want to Believe.  I don’t think I ever watched the X Files TV series, and this movie won’t make me go looking around for it now.  It didn’t help that Billy Connolly, playing a psychic pedophile priest, kept reminding me of John Cleese.  The 32% from Rotten Tomatoes came as a surprise, but who cares.  The “soundtrack” is mostly a clichéd relentless beat from the bass drum.

Also watched Lady in the Water again.  I had told Pablo about it and he wanted to see it, but he dozed through it.  However, he said it was “great,” his inevitable comment on anything he likes at all.  I won’t try to recap his tedious, thoroughly wrongheaded argument about my supposed disdain for fantasy.  The soundtrack is beautiful and grandiose, the kind of music I’m a sucker for.

And I watched 30 Days of Night (2007), an adequate vampire thriller except that, after the lights go out, all the scenes are still full of light.  The director, in the featurette, said he was aiming for “buckets of blood,” and so on; he succeeded in that.  Lots of action that doesn’t often let up, but alas, it requires some monumental stupidity from the characters.  A 51% splat from Rotten Tomatoes; it is actually good “of its kind,” showing the problem with the Rotten Tomatoes system.

“The important thing is to tell a friend in one’s letter about a night on the lake, or to record in one’s autobiography a perfectly happy day and how it was passed.”  Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living, p. 285.  Posted on Twitter.

Well, I’ve pissed away two hours this morning, mostly on Twitter; though I decided a while ago that Twitter is consistent with my mission statement, “To make the world a better place through my writing.”  Now I want breakfast, urgently, and a nap will soon follow.  No work on KM this morning, then, presumably, especially since I have to do my monthly PO report and go to the post office to mail it.

{8/3/21}  Weight 216.0 at 6:00 am.

Watched two movies in a DVD package, first The Black Hole, which is not the 1979 Disney movie, but rather something from 2006.  I’d have enjoyed the much-disparaged Disney more, though I did watch the whole thing.  This hole is the result of an experiment in a particle accelerator, so the singularity is on earth rather than in space.  There is an added complication that I won’t reveal; it was kinda cool but also nonsensical.  SFX were passable when they weren’t totally cheesy.  Starring Kristy Swanson and Judd Nelson, this disappointment was never released to theaters and has only two reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, both splats.  Don’t expect the science to make sense.

The second in this package was Supernova (2005), an “endless,” cliché-ridden miniseries from Hallmark of all places.  The sun is going to destroy earth and so on; another case of getting the science wrong, unfortunately.  A couple of minor spoilers:  it wasn’t enough for a miniseries to threaten doom, so we are treated to many fireballs hitting earth—though apparently never in the ocean.  And it seems that when doom is coming, most of the common folk want to run out and kick someone.  I can understand that.  Stars Luke Perry and Peter Fonda as brilliant scientists and Tia Carrere as an FBI agent.  Special effects are adequate except for cartoony pictures of solar activity.  Given that it’s a Hallmark miniseries, with a couple of Hallmark-tepid romances and much tedious FBI crap, I did considerable fast forwarding to get through the nearly three hours.  Given the worrisome state of the world, the movie had relevance to our coming doom, but the movie did not reflect that.  Rotten Tomatoes reveals that six movies since the year 2000 have the same title.  This one has no reviews from critics, but audiences rated it at 22%.  The DVD package, called “Odyssey Collection,” is supposed to have eight movies; mine was missing all but one disk, and so had only these two.  I got it from the library for fifty cents—as it turned out, no bargain.

I watched one other movie on cable but can’t remember the title.  I guess that this is what my depression looks like.  Since I also had to fill out paperwork and go out in the morning to mail it, as well as buying a few groceries on the way home, my day was filled with emptiness.

Copyright 2021 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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