Marquee Humor

February 24, 2018

I know it’ s been a LONG time since I’ve done one of these, but this was worth the time.

Seen at the Lexington Venue Theater:

Phantom Thread  Jedi

“Luke… I drink your milkshake.”

Wait? What? WHAT???


Marquee Humor

August 23, 2017

This is currently showing at the Venue in Lexington, MA:

The Big Sick Lady MacBeth

Just a little on the nose don’t you think?

Marquee Humor

August 6, 2017

This was up at the Apple Cinema Theater in Cambridge, MA about a month or so back:

Wonder Woman
Captain Underpants

Help me out on this one. Is this a) Microagression/Misogyny, b) Bad Publicity, or c) Porn Movie Title?

The scars of the 2016 presidential election will take a while to feel less tender and fade; right now they still hurt. During the summer, there was a lot of animosity on both sides leading up to the general, as well as a lot of backlash to anyone who wanted to vote third party. Or at least for anyone not one of the major two party candidates. Social media of all types was not a friendly place for a good 6 months. You post one meme or a photo and suddenly the comments become the Delta House food fight via the Algonquin Round Table. One meme I posted I actually didn’t get a lot of flack for, but it helped me talk to my now 14 year old daughter about the election.

This was one of those Harry Potter based memes saying “this is what our election is like” and displaying two of the Potter world characters. Usually it was Dolores Umbridge as a stand in for Clinton, and Voldemort for Trump; however this time it was Umbridge and Gilderoy Lockhart. I thought it was cute, but I knew my daughter would love it. She’s read all the Potter books and she can explain all the differences between the books and the movies to me (I never got into the books, but I like the movies). I showed the meme to here and broke out laughing, even more so than me.

“That’s so perfect,” she said. “Lockhart is kind of a blowhard who only thinks of himself, so that’s perfect for Trump.” Then she looked at me a bit quizically, and asked “How Clinton is like Umbridge again?”

I had to think about this for a minute. I know that Umbridge is hated in the Potterverse for good reason, and there are enough parallels to Clinton to make it awkward for me to watch “Order of the Phoenix” any time it came on. Translating what I knew about Clinton to the Potterverse is ticky, but I knew enough to try and explain it via the films.

“Remember how Umbridge was completely unwavering in her belief in what she was doing was right, even though the students and us viewers knew she was completely wrong? Well that’s how she’s like Clinton. They are very forceful advocates of what they think is right, even when it is wrong, and even to the point of being unable to admit it’s wrong.” She totally understood that when I explained it.

The main attack by Hillary supporters about why us progressives don’t support Hillary was sexism. Unfortunately this ignores the fact that many of us were hoping for a Elizabeth Warren run and after Bernie bowed out, many switched to Jill Stein. My issues wit Hillary Clinton, while often about political leanings (third-way democrats have always been far too conservative for my sensibilities), have always been policy based. Using Umbridge to explain Clinton makes it easier to explain. Hillary has always been a smart and fierce advocate for what she believes and champions, which is good if she’s on the right side of an issue; but when she is on the wrong side of an issue—like the Iraq war, the toppling of Libya’s government, the various trade agreements including the TPP, and not speaking out on behalf of activists like Black Lives Matter or the DAPL water protectors—she is a tough opponent, a great asset to the opposition, and makes the activist’s job twice as hard. And much like how Umbridge can do it with a smile makes that all the more frustrating.

Earlier in the year, a friend of mine wrote two very heartfelt essays about her daughter and Hillary Clinton. One was how she wanted her daughter to hear the words “Madam President” and now was the time; the other was a plead asking how can she explain to her daughter what would it mean for her if Trump won the presidency. I don’t have an answer for her daughter except offering up what I told my daughter at different times in the year. I told my daughter I wouldn’t be voting for Hillary, even after Bernie Sanders lost the primaries, because as much as it is important to have a woman in the office of President, it is equally important to have a woman who has the history to back up her own convictions, and is on the right side of an issue more often than not. Yes I voted for Jill Stein in 2016. I am not ashamed of that vote, but I am sorry more people didn’t follow that example. And no, I’m not the reason Hillary Clinton lost the election to Donald Trump: I’m not one of the 46% or voters who left the presidential candidate blank; they cost the election for her. I am almost 48, work part-time, am still using food stamps to survive with my daughter, and the only thing I have to leave her if ever I should go are my values. That’s the only thing I currency I have in my life to fall back on and I’ll be damned if I can’t give that to my only child. If I give up my values I have nothing else. I’m sure I will feel the wrath of friends and trolls alike for this, but I will vote my values whenever given that choice.

When Trump won in the late morning hours of the day after the election, I told my daughter that no we won’t need to move to Canada, we’ll be fine and we’ll do our best to fight. Oddly, I still take comfort in words Dumbledore said at the end of another movie—“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”: “There will be a time when we must choose between what is right and what is easy.” I know I chose right for both me and my daughter.

Marquee Humor

April 2, 2016

This was displayed last week at the Venue Theatre in Lexington, MA

My Big Fat Greek 2
Lady in the Van

Worst. Porn movie title. Ever.

There’s a movie out now called Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. It’s about a journalist’s experience in Afghanistan, which means the title is a cute pun. However I didn’t know this and had to look it up—partly a failure in marketing, but it’s also a failure for those who setup these marquees. Prime example, this was up two weeks ago at the Apple Cinemas in Cambridge, MA:

Star Wars WTF

Spelling the title (even two words) out would make things so much easier.

Friday Night News Dump

November 13, 2015

This is a sort of compilation of mini blogs of events that I hadn’t posted during the week:

  • I don’t have a word count for all the postings I’ve written so far during NaBloPoMo. It’s obviousy way below the 25,000 word halfway mark of the NaNoWriMo challenge. Just glad to be posting more often and regularly.
  • I haven’t been keeping up on the sci-fi western short story. This is not even because of the aforementioned blog writing, but because I’m too exhausted. I still can’t get used to getting up at 5:30am for Sophia then waiting to go to work. All I want to do is sleep for a few days straight, that would help. Granted it doesn’t help that I haven’t been to the gym in forever…
  • I have my zombie apocalypse team in place. There is a pre-zombie infection feature length script I want to write and I figured out the of characters on the team and how they know each other. This is sort of Fear the Walking Dead and Contagion via Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death.” For what I have in mind, I can’t simply throw characters who don’t know each other and watch them come together; I need to get a loosely cohesive group of people trying to survive and watch them fall apart, Have the group; next is fleshing out the timelines and plot.
  • Rented Pitch Perfect 2 with Sophia the other day because the Peanuts Movie show we wanted to see was already sold out when we got there. The film wasn’t what I expected, not a bad sequel. Nice ending. Felt less cohesive than the first film. The original was better, but the sequel was a decent film.

Marquee Humor

June 19, 2015

This was the entire posting of the Venue Theater in Lexington, MA:

“I’ll See You In My Dreams
Far From the Madding Crowd
Woman in Gold”

Best unintentional theater haiku ever!

This one is up for debate, but I put it on for your consideration: This was up this last week at the Arlington Capitol Theater in Arlington MA:

“Inside Out Opens June 19”

I know it’s accurate and fair, but I don’t know about you it struck me as kind of gross.

Cartoon Physics

January 24, 2015

Sophia and I were watching the end of Despicable Me on TV for the thousandth time (actually she was multitasking between her 2DS, her laptop and occasionally the TV; I was channel flipping a lot but stopped with Despicable Me). It was the climactic part where the moon snaps back to normal size trapping Vector on the moon (sorry for the spoilers). Suddenly Sophia asks “how did Vector get the helmet in space?” I said I don’t know, though I think it was a part of his outfit. It takes me a few seconds to fully get it but then it hits me:

Me: “You’ve seen this movie how many times and NOW you’re asking about the helmet in space?
Sophia: (pause) Well, now that I know about physics… (chuckles)

So she gets physics, but the question she has is on the very END of the film? Okay… but if she were really paying attention to the film, I should be expecting a lot more questions.

I thought the five-day positivity challenge was great, and I think the effects lasted a lot more than five days. Having said that I was ready for more stuff, but wasn’t sure what. This list of movies that have stuck with you is another “unpacking life” exercise that has me looking back on what made me. Fun and informative. Here they are in no particular order (slightly chronological but not completely).

STAR WARS: I was 8 when this came out in the theaters and that summer/year I saw the film about 14 times (which you could afford to do back in those days). This really launched me into wanting to make films (well space fiction films) and turned me into a total nerd for most of my life. Then Lucas started reediting the film (Han shot FIRST!) and made all the prequels… I still have to go online to see the movie I saw in the theaters (and show that one to my daughter; won’t show her the “special editions”). My mom gave me a copy of the fourth draft of the screenplay as a birthday gift, but I regifted it to a friend in high school.

APOCALYPSE NOW: In high school I majored in video production, and in junior year, my professor had us research/analyze one film of a director we had done a presentation on the past semester. I did Francis Ford Coppola, so I chose Apocalypse Now. I dissected that film, read up on the production problems and everything surrounded it so very little of what happened in Hearts of Darkness was a surprise to me. I still think its Coppola’s magnum opus and pushed what film could do as an expressionistic narrative art form. I still have a copy of an early draft of the screenplay by John Milius.

PSYCHO: I actually picked Coppola fro the high school project because Hitchcock was already taken. I saw Psycho with my dad on public television when I was about 8 or 9. It didn’t diminish the suspense of the film and still held up when I eventually saw it on the big screen years later. The final close up of Norman Bates (with or without the superimposed skull depending on what version you see) still sends chills through me. It still holds up to this day and is one film most filmmakers chase after.

BLADE RUNNER: My sci-fi addiction was heightened with this film. Never saw anything like it before and it spawned many, many, many (did I forget many) copycats, but the look and feel of the original has never been matched in my opinion. I also dove into the behind the scenes design after seeing it to get an idea of the work behind it, which is mind boggling in its own right. Even the various director cuts haven’t ruined the film (one of them I think is better than the original cut). It’s one of those films that have not only influenced movies, but also music, sci-fi writing, and other pop culture elements.

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK: Semi-blasphemous statement of the day: I don’t like Spielberg movies. Except for Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and this movie, I never liked his films. I felt ripped off watching the “special edition” of Close Encounters, and I felt E.T. was a manipulative saccharine flavored nightmare—even at age 12. But I do like the 1930s RKO serials of Zorro and Flash Gordon that I used to watch on public television with my dad when I was younger (6 or 7). Spielberg grew up on all of them and he put all of that love into this film, and it works. For a little while in my youth, I wanted to be a stuntman/stunt coordinator and seeing this film, and the behind the scenes work on the film drove that home.

THE MUPPET MOVIE: I was born 6 or 7 months before Sesame Street premiered on TV and I loved all the Muppets there, especially Kermit. Jim Henson is one of my childhood heroes along with Charles M. Schulz, so the Muppets on the big screen was a big deal for me. I still watch it with my daughter and I swear it doesn’t age. The vaudeville humor spans the generations and still provides honest laughs today. I was lucky enough to have an internship at Jim Henson Productions and meet the man himself once, and I am proud to have grown up in a time when he was alive and the creative force behind muppet storytelling.

ANIMAL HOUSE: My mom dragged me and my sister to see this film when it came out when I was 8 or 9 (my sister was 5 or 6). She said we had to see this anti-authoritarian sex comedy. My mom said my favorite scene was in the climactic parade debacle when the playboy bunny goes sailing into the little boy’s room and the kid looks up to the ceiling and says “Thank you, God.” That might still be my favorite scene today, though John Belushi on the ladder is a close second.

NETWORK: I saw this film in college (though knew about it before it) and still try to watch it at least once a year (my last full viewing was 2 weeks ago on cable). The concepts are still too frighteningly real, and I feel if you only change a few company names in the Ned Beatty monologue, it is still a potent commentary on our times. One thing that is dated about the film is its use of the English language: very few people are smart enough to know every word in the film, but it is a film worth trying to grasp in order to stop dumbing material down to an audience. If you must, view with a dictionary nearby.

BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN: I am a big film school nerd and so I am required by law to have this film on my list. However I have no problem with that. What Eisenstein does in this movie is magic. Every film geek knows the Odessa Steps sequence and its effect on film editing today is still prescient. While his first film Strike was a better impassioned call to arms for the people, this was the film that launched him to the top of the film pantheon and rightfully so.

RASHOMON: At the same time I was starting film school in college, the cable channel Bravo (when it actually showed good movies) had a two month long retrospective every Friday night on films by Akira Kurosawa. After watching Rashomon, I was hooked and tuned in each Friday for a film education on one of the best Japanese filmmakers (certainly the one most influenced by the West). The whole concept of “truth as ego” that permeates the film has stuck with me; so much so that when I see films or TV shows doing Rashomon, I’m quick to see where the directors missed points that Kurosawa makes so well in the original. It’s an original formula that everyone else seems too miss the full scope of, but Kurosawa hit it perfectly.

RAN: The other Kurosawa film on this list. One of my students’ teacher evaluations wrote “No more Kurosawa.” I teach with him because he is a master and can do something unique with the medium in each film. Ran was a bit of a culmination of his decades long career. Kurosawa adapted Shakespeare’s “King Lear” (my favorite Shakespeare play) for feudal Japan and shot it from a God’s eye view, and the results are stunning. Shots of clouds, the attack on the home compound with the lord fleeing in the middle, and the final shot of the blind young man along the cliff are still ingrained in my head.

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT: I’d rather not remember this one, but it has stayed with me—but not for film study reasons. I finally realized I can’t watch horror films after this movie. A friend of mine said this is a horror film for people who haven’t been camping, but it worked wonders on me. The final shot completely freaked me out and I spent two weeks sleeping with my lights on. It didn’t help that the shadows of trees moving in the wind landed right above my bed.

HOUR OF THE WOLF: I got introduced to Ingmar Bergman films in grad school. While I agree Fanny and Alexander is his great masterpiece, Hour of the Wolf is the one that hit me where I lived and sometimes dare not go. It’s dark and moody, and has two scenes that seriously creep me out: the killing of a boy/demon at the seaside and a minute of silence (an actual timed minute) between Max Von Sydow and Liv Ullmann alone in their cabin. The scene with the Sydow and his mistress near the end is intense and a marvel of cinematography.

THREE COLORS: RED: This film is the reason Citizen Kane isn’t on this list. Introduced to Krysztof Kieslowski in grad school as well, watching the entire Decalogue and Three Colors trilogy was life altering cinema for me. My favorite of them was Red from the Three Colors trilogy. It’s similar to Shakespeare’s “The Tempest: and sums up everything he was doing in the other two films. It’s stunning to look at and struck a chord with me like no other film as something to aspire to and has changed how I approach writing for film. This really should be seen and experienced by all lovers of film.

PI: Darren Aronofsky’s debut feature film is a stunning mix of film noir, sci-fi, numerology and theology. I remember desperately needing to run to the bathroom for the last 35 minutes of the movie, but refused to leave my seat not wanting to miss a damn thing. I also met him at an independent film conference and I got a chance to email him a question several months later to which he responded and never forgot. Very daring indie film stuff that still resonates with me today.

Marquee Humor

July 20, 2014

Seen at the Midway Theater in Forest Hills, NYC:

“The Purge  Sex Tape”

I don’t even know where to begin with this one, and my head’s already in the gutter.