Tagging along on the alphabet meme

Don’t keel over — I am following one of those memes, and you know how I usually am about that. I prefer to say that I am participating in a collaborative project. I mean, there’s a difference between answering a long questionnaire with “yes” and “no,” and contributing to a specific person’s blog project (like Holidailies, which yes, we are doing this year, just hang in there). I wasn’t even tagged, I am doing this entirely voluntarily.
I found Blog Cabins’ alphabet meme on the cinetrix’s website at a time when I was feeling out of sorts and wanted a distraction. Could I pick one movie that I enjoyed for each letter of the alphabet? I started making a list, and then I walked over to our DVD bookcase to fill in some of the trickier letters, and then I finally fudged a listing for the letter X because I’m not a big fan of the X-Men or of Xanadu. I remembered ruefully The ABC Project that I started a year or so ago, in which I decided to go through my Netflix queue and pick one movie for each letter of the alphabet. I made it through the letter D. Somehow I never seem to make time to watch Netflix movies unless my husband rents the movie and puts it on the TV and I happen to be around.

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best moment of the week

I’m eating my lunch at my desk at work, and one of my co-workers knocks on my cubicle wall. He’s got a couple of DVDs that he rented or borrowed or something, and he wants to hear my opinion of them. (Last time, I urged him to see Idiocracy, which he loved, so I have a good track record.) He holds out one of the boxes.
“What do you think of this one, have you seen it?” he asks. I look at the DVD. It’s Southland Tales. I grin.
“Well, obviously –” I reply, still grinning, and point at the pullquote on the bottom of the box.
He reads the quote. “‘Fascinating and extraordinary.’ So you agree with that?”
And this is the best moment …
“Yeah,” I tell him, “because that’s my quote. I said that.” And I pick up the box and show him the pullquote again, more closely, so he can read the whole thing:
“Fascinating and extraordinary!”
–Jette Kernion, Cinematical
“Oh! That’s you! I didn’t realize. Wow!”
And then he had to tell everyone in the office and show them the DVD box.
He may come back into the office on Monday and want to kick my butt after actually watching Southland Tales … or if he’s like my little brother, rant about how this is the Best Movie Ever and other critics are just plain insane. That’s all right.
I may never see my name on a DVD box again, or if I’m super-lucky, it’ll happen more often and I’ll get jaded about it. But today, showing someone who wanted to know what I thought about the film that my opinion (or a truncated version that does not quite reflect the full review) was actually on the DVD box? Can’t top that.

Well done, sister suffragettes

I forgot, until someone reminded me this morning (and I can’t remember which blog, sorry), that yesterday was the anniversary of Congress approving the 19th Amendment. It was on June 4, 1919, that the women’s suffrage amendment was sent to the states for ratification. If I’d know, maybe I would have made time to go to the polls yesterday for early voting in the City Council runoff election; I’ll have to go this weekend instead.
I could reprint the text of the amendment here, as a way to commemorate the anniversary, but instead I cannot resist the urge to share with you one of my favorite songs, ever ever ever. I’ve been known to sing it aloud on occasion, because who could resist? And of course this is a film blog so I have to tie everything into movies. So I give you “Sister Suffragette” from the movie Mary Poppins. You’re welcome.

Should we alert Kevin Smith?

My husband phoned me to tell me that he’d just heard a Kentucky Fried Chicken (or KFC, as we are supposed to call them these days) ad on the radio that he swears used the catchphrase, “I’m eatin’ it!” Does this sound familiar? Let me give you a hint:

Mooby's, from Clerks II

We are in a state of disbelief and hilarity. If this is true, it’s the best “life imitates film” moment since Brawndo, the sports drink from Idiocracy, became a real beverage. Obviously I need to investigate this matter further and keep you posted. Or better yet, someone else will investigate it and post the results, and I’ll happily link to their findings. That’s what bloggers do, after all.
And it does seem only fair — the “K” in the “Clerks II” logo on the film’s poster is from the KFC logo, so why shouldn’t KFC snag Mooby’s logo from Clerks II for their own?
One more photo, after the jump, because I couldn’t resist.

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Redbelt (2008)

When my husband and I watched a trailer for Redbelt a few weeks ago, not knowing anything about the movie, we turned to each other and said “Mamet” before the credits proved we were right — David Mamet wrote and directed the film. Unfortunately, it’s not one of his best. I’ve read several glowing reviews, and I have to wonder if the critics saw the same film I did. Because the Redbelt I saw was a mess — often entertaining, but too inconsistent.
Redbelt is about martial-arts instructor Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who is content to run a small school and not worry about money or competitions. A string of events one night changes everything — Mike has to ask his brother-in-law for money to fix some damage to his school, and while in his brother-in-law’s bar he ends up protecting action-hero movie star Chet Frank (Tim Allen) from a potentially nasty fight. Next thing you know, Mike is lured into unfamiliar scenes and deals and commitments and faces the possibility he’ll have to do the one thing he finds truly repellant: competing in a fight for money.

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Young at Heart (2008)

I feel guilty for not liking Young@Heart much. Older people find enjoyment and meaning in their lives by participating in a chorus where they get to sing rock songs. There’s a fabulous video for “I Wanna Be Sedated,” which takes on a whole new meaning when performed by the over-60 (and mostly over-80) singers. And when you say you don’t like a documentary about happy singing elderly people, you wonder what’s next on your hit list — LOLcats? The Princess Bride? Judd Apatow films? (Um, err …) Despite this, I was impatient for the movie to end and have reservations about recommending it to anyone.
The focus of this documentary is fairly straightforward: Young At Heart, a choral group of senior citizens, has changed their repertoire in recent years to rock music, with new arrangements of a variety of songs like “I Feel Good,” “Forever Young,” and so forth. The filmmakers follow a few of the group’s members in their daily lives, getting to know them and understanding how important Young At Heart is to them in terms of friendship and so forth. We see rehearsals in which the group struggles with some songs and arrangements, like a tongue-twisting Allen Toussaint tune. These sequences are interspersed with music videos of the group, showing us that older people can be feisty musicians too. Inevitable tragedies occur, but the show must go on.

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Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

This is one of those movies I saw on a whim at SXSW. I was supposed to see something at Alamo on South Lamar, but changed plans at the last minute — I was already parked downtown, figured I ought to go to at least one splashy Paramount premiere, and wanted the chance to hang out with a bunch of other film writers who were planning to attend. Now you know the highly scientific process film critics use to determine their festival schedules.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a little difficult to review because I enjoyed the experience of watching the film at a packed Paramount theater, and it made me laugh a whole lot, but it wasn’t very good. If a film makes you laugh that much, shouldn’t it be “good” even if the plot is lame? On the other hand, if I’d seen this movie at a sparsely attended press screening, or watched it alone on DVD, would I have enjoyed it nearly as much? Judging by the fact that I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to see it again, I think the experience itself contributed greatly to my enjoyment.

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the virtues of spring cleaning

Sunday night, my husband and I were reorganizing our linen closet, which contains not only linen but all our CDs and a box of my old videotapes. It was pointed out that I don’t watch the videotapes anymore and perhaps I should get rid of at least a few of them. I pointed out that some of those movies are not on DVD yet, and what if I had some sort of emergency where I needed to see part of Quality Street? So we made an Amazon wish list of all the movies I had on videotape — except the ones that aren’t on Amazon because there are no plans for DVD — and I prioritized them to indicate which I would really like to own on DVD (Persuasion), and which I would probably just want to rent sometime and watch again (Stranger Than Paradise, which costs more on Criterion DVD than it probably cost to make).
We got to Midnight, Easy Living and The Major and the Minor and I read out the titles to my husband to look up on Amazon, although I noted it was futile because who knows when those movies might ever get to be on DVD.
April 22, 2008, as it turns out. I was stunned. Midnight is getting a DVD release! I wondered if someone might remember it, since it’s supposedly being remade (please let the remake be a victim of the writers’ strike, please please). And the other two movies will be released too, all as part of something called the Universal Classics Collection. No details are available yet on extras and so forth, and I suspect the DVDs might be bare-bones, but I don’t care because I would just like to see the movies. All I want is a pretty good transfer — all three videotapes were taped from AMC or TCM in the distant past, so a DVD can only be an improvement.
The thing about these three movies is that I don’t think any of them are especially great, but they’re charming Thirties/early Forties light comedies with witty dialogue, wonderful actresses in the lead roles, and familiar, funny supporting character actors. More details about the movies are after the jump, in case you have no idea what I’m talking about.
Now, can we have A Foreign Affair next? That’s the comedy I really want to see on DVD, and my videotape is barely watchable. It was one of the few videotapes I didn’t throw/give away on Sunday, but I’d like to toss that TCM-recorded, noisy tape in the trash by the end of 2008. I’d also like to cross it off the still-populated 20 Gaps on DVD list, which incidentally I’ve updated with the info about the three upcoming DVDs.

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