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Netflix Monday: “Reign of Fire”

I’ve been thinking a lot about art that is so bad it’s good. Why is it that movies so often fall squarely in this category?

And yes, Reign of Fire definitely qualifies. The plot has more holes than the proverbial cheese enjoyed by yodeling boys and girls on snow-laden mountains, accompanied by cgi worthy of last year’s video games and acting (by plenty of famous faces) that is truly cringe-worthy…

That’s not to say it’s another King Kong. When I watched that LOTR-profit-fueled epic disaster in the theater, it ended up becoming one of the most enjoyable movie-going experiences of my life. The audience laughed their heads off (at all the wrong moments) and all but threw things at the screen. Yep, truly bad art has a way of uniting all of today’s MST3000-lovin’ hipsters into singing kumbaya and collectively sneering at Hollywood’s excesses from behind their designer eyeware.

Reign of Fire is more of a guilty pleasure, on the lines of The Mummy, or (yes), Avatar. What can I say. It has a castle. And skydiving.¬†And dragons. (Interestingly enough, it was apparently titled “Salamander” in Japan…I’m not sure if that makes their culture utterly badass for a nonplussed relegation of fire-breathing killing machines to that level or complete wimpified in that they consider salamanders “dragons”…)

In my defense, I’ve never spent money on the movie–I first watched it at midnight on tv while on a trip, trying to fall asleep, chuckling quietly as to not wake my wife.

…she’s laughing at me now, so I guess it’s time to go watch a French film with subtitles to redeem my reputation.

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Netflix Monday: “Sweetgrass”

Every now and then, I miss working outside all day long. And watching this documentary, it’s easy to prescribe reasons why these “cowboys” should continue sheepherding in the wilds of Montana. Still, this isn’t a romantic look at a dwindling profession (the way the farmers sling newborn lambs is far from PETA-approved, there’s more than one amusing profanity-laced meltdown, etc); Sweetgrass shows it how it is–as much as any film can–in part by avoiding narration, musical cues, or overt narrative. As such, it requires quite a bit of patience from the modern viewer (but not nearly as much as the monastic retreat that is Into Great Silence!)

Since I’m stuck in the suburbs for at least another year, for now, I’ll content myself with a lustful visit to Land and Farm after a long day–and, of course, watching this (exquisitely photographed) documentary.

Signs of the times

For anyone that enjoys watching the trainwreck that is the contemporary recording industry:

Citigroup (yeah, the bank) has apparently bought the struggling EMI record label, along with its “modest level of debt”…aka, 1.2 billion pounds (yes, as in English currency…as in awfully close to 2 billion US dollars).

And that’s after a “65% reduction” in said level of debt.

I don’t think that needs too much analysis from my end…

 

Mother and child

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Netflix Monday: “The Parking Lot Movie” and “Darkon”

Some quick recommendations for Netflix streaming…

The Parking Lot Movie: It’s hard to know how much of my enjoyment of this film resulted from the prior suspicion that a documentary about a parking lot just couldn’t be very…exciting. So any entertainment that happened despite the odds was naturally bound to be that much more impressive.

And there was plenty of entertainment. Each of the characters featured were (thankfully) self-aware, yet beguiling engrossed in the microcosm of paved-real estate that provided them with employment. And let’s face it, there are days where chasing down a frat-boy-driven SUV and giving it a well-placed kick in the tail-lights would be rather therapeutic.

Yet, if Parking Lot’s characters were comical hipster-philosophers, Darkon featured true believers (from single parents to stay-at-home dads to military members) whose earnest passion for LARPing (etc) wasn’t charmingly comical in quite the same way.

That’s not to say that the sight of grown adults hitting each other with foam weapons and sewing felt costumes ever gets old, of course…

Anyway, what’s curious is that both documentaries clearly set out to examine and question “reality. As one character in Darkon says to a skeptical friend, “the little world is just as important as the big world.” Hmm, ok.

Possible delusions aside, it’s a quirky discussion whose construction purposefully follows close on the steps of such excellent (true) stories as Air Guitar Nation and King of Kong–and it’s none the cheaper for it. The communities these two documentaries featured provides a truly fresh, respectfully wry lens on identity, conflict, and creativity.

So as long as filmmakers keep finding these people, I, for one, will keep watching.

Trip West: 8

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Josh: That’s a bad idea.

Kirsten: Why?

J: I’m sure drunk guys pee on that.

K: They can’t reach that high.

J: They can pee down. From his shoulder.

K: (looks doubtful)

J: I just wouldn’t kiss it.

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