Stags, Movies, and Marriage

*Wipes dust off DVDs and TV remote*

Sooo, yeah. Been absent for almost two months. For the most part, no great reason for that. Been busy but not so busy that I couldn’t have written up a thing or two here and there. I didn’t. One reason for that was because I got married 10 days ago. To get things rolling again, I want to start out with a crawl and discuss what I was treated to for my bachelor party and what I received after the big day.

Almost all of my local old movie houses are gone. There are only two left. One hasn’t seen any business for 10 or so years and is in desperate need of repair. The other has lost all but its entry way and it’s balcony seating. Old movies are shown at the latter on a regular basis. It lacks the grandeur of more intact period theaters but is a great little place to watch old films with lovers new and old.

My groomsmen, knowing how much I love movies and knowing how much I love hanging out with them and making fun of bad ones, booked the theater for us to watch any films that we would like for a few hours. What did we watch? One Sci-Fi classic based on a short story written by an acclaimed science fiction writer and one horror film that could only wish to reach such levels of public awareness. Let’s start with the first film and go from there.


 

Total RecallReleased: June 1, 1990

Story: In 2084, mild-mannered construction worker Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) dreams (literary) of some day visiting Mars. His wife (played by Sharon Stone) doesn’t think he’ll like it there. He decides to go to Recall, an organization that implants memories, whether of fun vacations or great adventures or otherwise, into the minds of its clients. Quaid is talked into adding a pinch of espionage to his Mars vacation memory. But something goes wrong while the memory is implanted. The people at Recall realize Quaid already has the memory of being a spy on Mars. After sedating Quaid (who was screaming about them ruining his cover), they wipe his memory of his visit to Recall and send him home (the manager of Recall convinced Quaid was just acting out part of the spy fantasy memory). Quaid finds himself on his way home when he is thrust into a spy thriller where it turns out he really is a spy who must go to Mars to uncover a mystery and save the planet. Or is all this just the memory implanted by Recall?

Thoughts: This movie is ridiculous. It’s a good, entertaining ridiculous but it’s ridiculous all the same. I don’t think the director intended the film to be so comically outrageous. The story is dramatic, psychological, and thought provoking, leaving you thinking after the final frame is shown. (Is the whole movie just a fake memory implanted in Quaid’s head by Recall or is it happening for real? We are never told.) It’s a great premise for a thriller (based on the short story, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” by Phillip K. Dick) and it succeeds somewhat with creating tension. What let’s it down is Arnold’s less than great acting. He’s not bad at playing a normal guy thrown into extraordinary circumstances, but he falls into overacting too often. His over-the-top screaming and cheesy acting turns the film into a so bad it’s good film. It’s still intriguing. I was interested in the story and how things were going to turn out, but I laughed much more at it than I probably should have. It’s recommendable. Just expect plenty of silliness along the way.


 

ATMI remember seeing the trailer for this film a couple years ago. It looked interesting. I’m always fascinated with stories (film or otherwise) that take place mostly or entirely in one location. It’s a challenging premise to maintain. The actors, writer, and director all have to be on top form if they wish to come out successful. We have to really care about the characters or we are going to get bored quickly, their dialogue and interchanges have to be good if we are to remain interested throughout the duration of the movie, and everything needs to be shot dynamically so that we don’t get tired of seeing the same set or area for the whole film. ATM (2012) succeeds in only one of these categories. The dynamic shooting. Everything else is dreadful.

Our story follows three young adults who work for a accounting firm. David (Brian Geraghty) has a crush on co-worker Emily (Alice Eve) but, with her leaving soon for a new job, this may be his last chance to ask her out. At a Christmas party, David’s friend, Corey (Josh Peck), pushes David to talk to her. He does and she lets him take her home. Corey comes along and persuades David to stop at an ATM so he can get some money. Before they can leave, a man in a parka appears in the parking lot and is determined to keep the three from leaving the glass ATM building. Violence and death lies ahead for these three this holiday, but will they survive? More over, who cares?

We know next to nothing about these characters, and they succeed at being total morons at every possible point. Seriously, the only reason this mysterious hooded figure succeeds in his plan is because the three heroes never take the opportunities they are given to either escape or just attack and incapacitate the man. For example, at one point one character decides he’s had enough and leaves the ATM to take a chance escaping on foot. He’s attacked and injured by the hooded man. The other two characters run out and save him, but instead of running away or going to a car while the hooded man is out of sight, they run back to the ATM because…the movie wasn’t over yet and the writer wanted to steal more minutes from my life.

The killer’s plan also relies on WAAAY to many coincidences: David being a dick to the others and accidentally knocking Emily down, for instance, or a totally unrelated man in a parka coming into actually use the ATM before being attacked by our protagonists, or David slipping at a crucial moment, which causes Emily to be critically injured.

You may have noticed that I’m being a lot more open about spoilers than I usually am. That’s because I don’t want you, kind reader, to subject yourself to this film. Despite being interested in the premise when I initially saw the trailer, I never saw the film when it came out because it looked like it wouldn’t live up to its potential. It looked like it would be just another stupid, half-assed horror film. Well, that’s putting it nicely. This movie is a complete and total utter waste of time. The characters are morons, the script is riddled with millions of holes that the writer couldn’t bother to fill, and there is no satisfying moment or payoff that makes the whole experience worth it. Don’t go see it. Go look at a wall for 90 minutes. It’ll be a more satisfying experience.


My movie experience that night may not have been perfect, but I had a great time with two of my best friends. I love making fun of bad films with them and doing so at an old theater while also munching on junk food was a great way to spend my bachelor party. Plus, I got a great piece of swag out of the deal.

Best Picture Poster ColageI found this collage sitting in between the side of a refrigerator and something else I can’t remember. I asked the lady showing us around if I could look at it. She said I could not only look at it but I could keep it. It was just sitting around the building anyway, she said. So why not. It has a collection of posters of all the Best Picture winners from Wings (1927) to Titanic (1997). Out of date now, but I love it. With my ongoing journey to review all the Best Picture winners, this was a great surprise gift that will definitely get a nice place to sit in the eventual man cave.

After a slightly Doctor Who themed wedding where I married a fantastic woman who I love with all my heart, I was happy to find this gem of a Blu-ray in the mailbox upon arriving home the next day.

It Happened One NightI can’t think of a better way to end a wedding weekend than with my favorite of the Best Picture winners so far. It’s a magical film filled with laughs, romance, and wonderful Frank Capra sentimentality. And the icy on the cake is its a Criterion release. Life doesn’t get much better than this.

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