The Apple; a very good, very bad, very disco musical

Over the weekend we got together with some friends to watch a very bad movie. What we watched was a really great bad musical called, The Apple. The Apple is a post-apocalyptic movie from 1980 telling an allegorical story of a future 1994 in which the boyfriend-girlfriend duet of Alphie & Bibi is tempted to music fame by Mr. Boogalow and his biggest stars: Dandi & Randi. Sure this movie is really loose on the plot and heavy on the allegorical retelling of Adam & Eve but it makes up for it in COSTUMES! And well choreographed (by Nigel Lythgoe, no less) numbers in which the lyrics and singing isn’t great but the music is usually bangin’.

If you like bad movies, bad musicals especially and you haven’t seen The Apple, you need to correct yourself immediately. It has everything. From the devil with one horn, Mr. Boogalow, the song about Coming that is as unsubtle as a brick the forehead, a mandatory nationwide dance-hour, to the biggest and most literal version of Deus Ex-Machina that’s ever happened in any movie ever; this movie has everything. And did I mention the costumes?

This movie, meant as a Hebrew stage presentation was being written in the mid-seventies and then updated to a musical movie meant to cash in on the musical movies fad that America was going through in the late seventies. And it might’ve been collectively panned when it came out, once you watch it you’ll see the hints of its influence all over the nineties and early aughts. It’s amazing. Speaking of influences, it’s filming location of West Berlin which is painfully obvious throughout the movie.

I don’t think you can watch the whole thing anywhere for free — though the soundtrack is on YouTube. There are also a lot of amazing clips from the movie on YouTube if you need a taste of just how fabulous it is. The video of BIM Hour is my favorite. BIM Hour is of course the hour of 4-5pm when everyone everywhere sets aside what they’re doing to dance. And it’s mandatory. Just like the holographic stickers (BIM marks) everyone is wearing. Don’t let the police catch you without one.

A word of warning if you take this on: there is a really unfortunate and tone-deaf reggae song where Mr. Boogalow talks about what a great ‘master’ he is. It’s an obvious reference to the allegorical part of the story, Mr. Boogalow is supposed to be the devil but it just comes across racially insensitive given that two of the principal singers are black.

I mentioned that it began as a Hebrew stage place, so it is also worth noting that the story was written by an Israeli husband-wife writing team, Cory & Iris Recht. And that the script for the movie was written and produced an Israeli man, Menahem Golan, who created a lot of movies under The Cannon Group a production company run by his cousin. The Cannon Group is well-known for it’s slate of early 80’s low-budget American action flicks, including Superman IV: A Quest for Peace.

If you’ve got 90 minutes to spare and want a few well-deserved laughs, The Apple has them waiting for you. I’ve heard there’s a Rifftrax’d version of this out there too, so if you prefer your laughs pre-filtered give that a shot instead.

After all, how can you say no to this masterpiece? It even comes complete with an ‘actual vampire’.

Pacific Rim: Uprising; spoiler-free review

I LOOOooooooooooooooooooooVED Pacific Rim. Listen until Wonder Woman came out, the Pacific Rim theme was my ring tone. (Now it’s the WW theme if that wasn’t clear.) My love for it was only partially because of my love for Idris Elba in pretty much every role he’s ever in, the other part was the depth Guillermo del Toro put into what was essentially a robots vs. monsters movie. Good old GdT doesn’t do sequels and the writer Travis Beacham didn’t return for Uprising… but I know how to go into a movie with low-to-middling expectations, so that’s what I did.

I’m not going to go into detail here, this is after all supposed to be spoiler-free. But, I will say that if you’re going into this movie for a lot of plot… or science… or solid ties to the original… you might not find what you’re looking for. But if you, like me, are going into Uprising looking for a robots vs robots or robots vs kaiju extravaganza, well, buckle up and prepare for a good time. Go for the new cool-ass jaegers, stay for the mighty morphin power kaiju.
And if you’re on the fence, check out this Nerdist vintage kaiju movie version of the trailer and tell me that doesn’t look like a good time.


Tomb Raider 2018; no-spoiler review except this spoiler: I loved it

I’d planned to take my little sister out to see Love, Simon tonight but it was nearly a sold out show, which rarely happens at our theater. So, rather than wait for a later show, we went to see Tomb Raider instead. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I’ve seem some pretty cynical reviews and some really shitty ones from manbabies that care more about the size of Lara’s chest than anything else in the movie. Taking everything I’ve heard with a huge grain of salt, I thought we’d check it out. I was never a fan of the early Tomb Raider games, they felt unnecessarily difficult and way too focused on Lara’s appearance (they were).

In recent years with the reboot of the video game series, I decided to check them out again. And I fell in love with Lara, the story, the game play. They’re fantastic games. A little bit open-world, a little bit puzzle-platformer, a little rpg. They’ve got good story, good puzzles and a great protagonist. I’ve never really gotten into the multiplayer aspects, but I’ve loved the single player content of both games and am eagerly awaiting the third.

I’m really pleased to be able to say that I loved this movie. It’s everything the rebooted games are but in live action. They follow a similar story path, we see the same younger, scrappier Lara the games have gifted us and plenty of room to expand. I do have a soft spot for the cheesier Angelina Jolie movies, but this movie is a world apart. The action scenes are really great, none of it felt like too much CGI for me and several of them gave me really great flashback moments to the 2013 Tomb Raider game.

There’s a lot of new stuff coming out soon (YES, I DID WATCH THE INFINITY WAR TRAILER AND GET SUPER EXCITED WHY DO YOU ASK?) but I’d love to go see this again if I get the chance. It’s not perfect — I wish there were more women for one — but it’s a really good place to start for a new series and I hope that we get the chance to see where they take it. Alicia Vikander is a great Lara Croft, playing up the athleticism and the feisty sarcasm as her video game counterpart. I think she could make something great out of this series. 

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick; reading different and switching up genres

Typically I read a lot of fantasy, modern (read: urban) and low-magic, but I also love a good historical fiction or horror novel. As not picky as I am about music, I tend to be pretty particular about the stuff I read. But lately, I’ve been a little tired of fiction, finding it difficult to get through the ends of books if it slows down even a little. I talked a little bit about it when I talked about reading Mamrie’s book. But since then I’ve picked up a few other memoir/non-fiction/celebrity kind of books to read. They tend to be a little short reads, but since they’re typically set up in short chapters/stories as well it feels like they’re faster too.

I finished Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick today. Memoir isn’t really the right word but it’s sort of a collection of her stories of getting into show business and the business of being a sort of an anxiety-ridden misanthrope. I’m a fan of her work both musicals and movies, I even saw Camp, which is … recommended only if you’re a fan of musicals and can stomach a poor teen comedy.

Anyway, I enjoyed her stories and honestly, it was just kind of nice to be grounded in stories about places and things that are recognizeable. It’s less work for my stressed brain. It might be one of the reasons I’m enjoying podcasts that are less about adventures and fantasy as well. As much fun as escapist fantasy can be, personally I think it requires more thought on my part that I’m not in the mood for lately. Especially on busy or stressful days.

I don’t know if anyone else is like this too. I doesn’t happen to me very often at all but this is lingering a little. Next up, I picked up I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee.

Supergirl — For the Girl Who Has Everything

I know I’m behind on this, but I just finished binging the first season of Supergirl. I’ve been a Superman fan since I was a little kid watching old black and white George Reeves’ Superman reruns with my dad. I grew up with reruns of Helen Slater’s Supergirl. I had a poster for Superman IX on my wall; I pretty much loved everything about Christopher Reeves’ Superman — still do. I loved Lois & Clark, but didn’t like Smallville. Really, I’ve seen all the Superman stuff because I love him as a character so much. Sure, in the comics he was often a dick but he was also kind and friendly and humorous.

Supergirl, specifically the way Melissa Benoist plays her, reminds me a great deal of the Christopher Reeves movies. Reminds me of why I like Superman so much. They’re not perfect people. They sure aren’t perfect humans. Not perfect heroes.

But they take joy in saving people and not as some god-complexed savior of mankind (although I’ll admit Superman has been written that way more than once), but because they WANT to use the abilities they have on Earth for good. They want to keep people safe, to be useful, and ultimately, to belong. Kara, more than Clark, is a great example of this because of her story. Because she was older when Krypton died, and she was sent with the purpose of watching Kal-El (who was only a baby), she not only remembers home but she remembers her purpose.

Kara left Krypton expecting to be a protector.

She came to Earth to find that Kal-El already was one.

Watching the first few episodes — which are not about her coming into her power as Superman’s stories so often begin, but fully embracing her powers and her purpose.

There’s a joy that comes from finding something you’re good at and leaning into it completely. And I love that about Supergirl.

It also really helps that she, like Clark, find a lot of joy in the ingenuity and earnestness of humans. It’s not condescension, it’s pride.

And I love that.

I’m starting season two, and I’ve seen a lot of what tumblr likes about the second season but I’m looking forward to watching it for myself.

Opening Night at Black Panther

My completely spoiler-free review.

1) IT’S AMAZING

2) See #1

I want to say that I hope this media trend continues wherein we have these Gen Xers and older Millennials making media for audiences, but especially younger audiences, saying we don’t have to keep doing things the same way they’ve always been done just because that’s the way they’ve always been done. We can change. We can leave the past where it belongs, in the past.

We can look at our forefathers mistakes and we can do something different.

Movie: The Cloverfield Paradox

I love a good surprise movie. The Super Bowl was over by the time I saw the announcement for the new Cloverfield movie, so I finished what I was working on and hopped over to Netflix.


Now, I never watched the first movie. I wanted to, but knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the shaky-cam production. However, I saw 10 Cloverfield Lane at the theater and loved it. I’m a huge fan of horror movies — especially ones that build really well, and ones that tease you about just how threatening the thing you think might be threatening really is.

You’re supposed to spend all of that movie wondering what the real threat is. Is it John Goodman’s character or is he really a nice guy protecting our heroine from what’s happening outside? Sure, it’s not ideal, the situation, but how much can you trust about what’s happening inside that bunker? I’m a sucker for that ambiguous villain. 
The Cloverfield Paradox feeds on another one of my favorite horror genres: the isolationist space thriller. Again, this is all about feeding on our own expectations and perceptions. What’s more scary: the thing happening on the space station, or the fact that nothing is happening and you’re still cut off from all the things you know and love. Can you trust the people you’re with? Can you trust yourself? In a movie like Alien, there’s a specific threat: the killer alien. But what’s more, we learn that you can’t always trust the people you’re with either… people will do a lot for money, for power, for fame and that’s not too mention that you never know what people will do when put under that kind of pressure.
Brief spoilers for 10 Cloverfield Lane ahead. 
So, we’re supposed to spend the majority of the movie rooting for the heroine, Michelle. She’s saved from a wreck and nursed back to health by a stranger, but finds herself stuck inside his underground bunker. He seems strange and we’re supposed to see him as this mostly harmless but slightly unhinged guy, who maybe suffers from some mental illness. He’s particular, he gets angry and most importantly, he refuses to let her leave. He’s adamant that there’s something outside, that something dangerous has happened, that the bunker is the safest place for them all. 
For a while, she gives in to this supposed fantasy. After all, other guy in the bunker is a neighbor who seems pretty normal and he came into the bunker willingly. But over time, this stranger gets stranger. He’s forcing Michelle to play this familial role. We find out near the end that this guy isn’t just strange, that her initial instincts were correct… he is dangerous. Michelle fights her way out of the bunker. And then there’s the twist. He might’ve been a monster, but the stranger wasn’t wrong either. Something is very, very bad outside. 
And that’s where we come to The Cloverfield Paradox. 
This movie doesn’t play off the second movie any more than the second did off the first. We know there’s an indefinite something happening. It’s not explained or defined… but it also doesn’t need to be. So whatever is happening means our protagonist, Ava Hamilton is going with a team to the space station. There, the international crew spends two years firing up a particle accelerator trying to figure out a way to generate enough power that the Earth can rebuild resources. Which we can learn from the power of elimination… are dwindling. 
The majority of the movie is about the isolation of space, who and how does the crew trust. If they’re alone, how do they survive. And when the unexpected and unexplained happens, can they keep their shit together long enough to figure out how to get home again.
I have to say this reversal on an apocalyptic tale is a lot of fun. This is the opposite of something like San Andreas, for example. The disaster thriller genre shows us heroes at the center of the disaster, where the disaster is the main character. The Cloverfield movies, by comparison, mention the disaster as little as possible. 
I don’t want to spoil it for you. But if you’re a fan of space horror, or just horror in general, check it out. I really, really liked it. 
Also, holy fucking shout out to this whole cast and crew for keeping this movie on the DL for however long they had to keep that under their hats. And, to whatever casting director delivered this amazing leading cast of POCs. It was awesome.  

Music: Dubstep Bagpipe Cover by TheSnakeCharmer

I don’t have anything much to say about this video except that it’s super cool. It’s a dubstep medley of┬áThe Force Awakens, Duel of Fates and Imperial March done on a bagpipe, accompanied by a violin and a DJ on a launchpad. Also, this badass piper has the coolest horned dragon skull on her bagpipe and I love it.

 

Mortal Kombat Movie Party at the Alamo Drafthouse Kansas City

mortal kombat vs.My best friend and I attended a screening of Mortal Kombat this week at the Kansas City Alamo Drafthouse. If you don’t know about the Alamo Drafthouse you should definitely check to see if there’s one in your city, because they’re a lot of fun. The Alamo is a movie theater like few other. There’s a bar, movies, plus food and drink (including alcohol) service inside the theater during the movie. It’s lowkey and in addition to hosting regular and recent films, they also host a lot of events.

There’s always some kind of event upcoming at the Alamo, like this week’s screening of Mortal Kombat. It was round one of their Vs. series. When we entered the theater we were given a glow-in-the-dark necklace (blue) to use whenever Rayden came on screen. We were given a pair of sunglasses to wear whenever Johnny Cage was wearing his – and the crush later in the movie when Goro does the same. Then we had three confetti poppers each to set off when our favorite characters entered “Mortal Kombat”… or as the case was in our theater, whenever people felt there was a good moment in a fight.

Before the movie there was also a Super Nintendo Mortal Kombat tournament going on and everyone in attendance could watch the matches on the big screen. As the movie time drew closer and more people were arriving and watching, people cheered and booed during the fights, enjoying the scene no matter who was playing. During the movie, people are encouraged to quote along with their favorite lines – and we did! – and then we sang with the song during the credit sequence. My friend and I enjoyed “grown-up” Grilled Cheese with fries during the meal. We didn’t drink but often during one of these movies they offer special themed drinks with collector glasses. That wasn’t the case this night which was too bad.

Overall everytime I go to one of these events, I’m impressed with how it’s presented. Highly recommend.