Bio: Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.
Posts by JPRoscoe:
The 89th Academy Award nominations were announced on January 24, 2017. The awards are to be presented on February 26, 2016. La La Land leads the nominations with 14 nominations which ties both Titanic (1997) and All About Eve (1950).
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Damien Chazelle—La La Land
Mel Gibson—Hacksaw Ridge
Kenneth Lonergan—Manchester by the Sea
Casey Affleck—Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield—Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling—La La Land
Viggo Mortensen—Captain Fantastic
Emma Stone—La La Land
Meryl Streep—Florence Foster Jenkins
Best Supporting Actor:
Jeff Bridges—Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges—Manchester by the Sea
Michael Shannon—Nocturnal Animals
Best Supporting Actress:
Octavia Spencer—Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams—Manchester by the Sea
Best Writing—Original Screenplay:
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women
Best Writing—Adapted Screenplay:
Best Animated Feature:
Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Best Foreign Language Film:
A Man Called Ove
Land of Mine
I Am Not Your Negro
O.J.: Made in America
Fire at Sea
Best Documentary—Short Subject:
Wantani: My Homeland
The White Helmets
Best Live Action Short:
La Femme et le TGV
Best Animated Short:
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Best Original Score:
La La Land
Best Original Song:
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”—La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling”—Trolls
“City of Stars”—La La Land
“The Empty Chair”—Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go”—Moana
Best Sound Editing:
La La Land
Best Sound Mixing:
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star War Story
Best Production Design:
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
La La Land
La La Land
A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Best Costume Design:
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land
Best Film Editing:
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Best Visual Effects:
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Dr. Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow) is about to get a rude wake-up call. With his education financed by the state of Alaska, Fleischman finds his plans for four years in Anchorage are dashed when he learns that he’s been traded to the small town of Cicely, Alaska. Fleischman finds the town filled with odd people like the outspoken Maggie O’Connell (Janine Turner), the former astronaut Maurice Minnifield (Barry Corbin), hippy DJ Chris Stevens (John Corbett), Native American Ed Chigliak (Darren E. Burrows), bar owner Holling Vincoeur (John Cullum), Holling’s young girlfriend Shelly (Cynthia Geary), and Joel’s unwanted secretary Marilyn Whirlwind (Elaine Miles). Joel is about to discover that Alaska is not like New York City.
Northern Exposure—Season 1 was a summer series that premiered on July 12, 1990 and ran eight episodes until August 30, 1990. The series was met with positive reviews and quickly gained a cult following. The season received Primetime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series (“Aurora Borealis: A Fairy Tale for Big People”), and Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series (“Pilot”).
I latched on to Northern Exposure pretty early and became a regular viewer during this short season. The series had the quirkiness of a comedy but drama as well and was much better balanced than some of the other series in a similar vein. The first season kicks off with a bang and the series runs strong.
Northern Exposure’s plots are pretty consistent. The series early episodes are as strong as episodes later in the run (the series does lose momentum when Rob Morrow leaves), and the only difference is the familiarity with the characters. It is nice to go back to the early episodes having watched the run and see the show as you are getting to know characters.
The cast is the plus of the series. Rob Morrow plays a less manic Woody Allen and is sometimes unlikable (like trying to secretly get $50,000 without telling Maggie in “Soapy Sanderson”). The other characters are also frustrating, but not frustrating enough for you to hate any of them. Janine Turner’s Maggie is often standoffish, Barry Corbin’s Maurice is bullheaded, Darren E. Burrows’ Ed is intrusive, etc. It works with the quirky storytelling.
The visuals are also great. Shot mostly around the state of Washington, the series makes the most of the scenery. The town of Roslyn, Washington (hence the Roslyn Café) is the town of Cicely. It is also has some great sets that set the tone.
Northern Exposure is a series that has stood up over the years. The Alaskan setting doesn’t make it as dated as some of the other series since it is already in a weird otherworldly city. If you watched Northern Exposure, revisit it, and if you never watched Northern Exposure, you should take a trip to Cicely, Alaska.
Northern Exposure—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:
1.1 Pilot Airdate: 07/12/90
Dr. Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow) find himself “indentured” to Alaska who paid his medical bill at Columbia. Arriving in Anchorage, Joel discovers his contract has been bought by Maurice Minnifield (Barry Corbin) for the town of Cicely Alaska. With a landlord named Maggie O’Connell (Janine Turner) who he immediately finds himself at odds with, a Native-American named Ed Chigliak (Darren E. Burrows) who shows up when he wants, a secretary named Marilyn Whirlwind (Elaine Miles) who refuses to listen to him, Joel finds his next four years could be difficult. Plus, Maurice and Holling Vincoeur (John Cullum) find that burying the hatchet over Shelley Tambo (Cynthia Geary) could be difficult.
1.2 Brains, Know-How and Native Intelligence Airdate: 07/19/90
Maurice finds himself at odds with his DJ Chris Stevens (John Corbett) when Chris reads Walt Whitman on the air and talks about his homosexuality. Joel learns that Ed’s uncle (Frank Salsedo) has a medical issue that he can’t solve as a medicine man and Joel must find a way to convince him to come to him as a patient.
1.3 Soapy Sanderson Airdate: 07/26/90
Joel meets and tends to Soapy Sanderson (John McLiam) who promptly commits suicide. When Joel and Maggie learn that Soapy has left him his land, Joel finds that the land is in high demand by the Native Americas in the tune of $50,000. Joel goes for a secret backroom deal with the Native Americans while Maggie tries to turn the land into a nature preserve with students of Soapy chronicling Soapy with Ed.
1.4 Dreams, Schemes and Putting Greens Airdate: 07/26/90
Maurice brings in Japanese business men in the hopes of getting a resort built in Cicely and Fleischman realizes it could be his chance out of Alaska if he gets the sale sealed. Shelley finds herself pregnant and going to get married to Holling…but getting Maurice to perform at the ceremony could be a challenge if Holling even goes through with the wedding.
1.5 The Russian Flu Airdate: 08/09/90
Elaine (Jessica Lundy) is coming to visit Joel, but Cicely is struck by a case of flu. As Joel tends to everyone getting sick, a fear the Russians are behind the flu puts the town in an uproar. Marilyn has a homemade tribal remedy that puts Joel at odds with her.
1.6 Sex, Lies and Ed’s Tapes Airdate: 08/16/90
Holling learns Shelly was married and is still married to a guy named Wayne (Brandon Douglas) and decides he can’t live with her until she’s divorced…giving Wayne another shot. Maggie’s boyfriend Rick (Grant Goodeve) has a health scare and questions if Maggie is really a curse. Ed tries to find his muse for his movie among the people of Cicely.
1.7 A Kodiak Moment Airdate: 08/23/90
Maurice learns his brother has died and realizes his own mortality…with his need for an heir in Chris. Jessie the Bear is back and Holling realizes he must confront his nemesis. Enraged that Joel forced her to pick up bagels, Joel gets Maggie to join him on a mission to teach hygiene in Boswell only to discover that he’s needed to teach childbirth.
1.8 Aurora Borealis: A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups Airdate: 08/30/90
The aurora borealis is coming and the Northern Lights are stirring up all kinds of weird behavior in Cicely. Chris is obsessed with his art and a new visitor drawn to Cicely named Bernard (Richard Cummings Jr.) could bring a new mystery. Joel learns of a local “creature” called Adam that could be real or a myth…but what is Adam (Adam Arkin)?
Studio: American International Pictures
Release Date(s): March 10, 1972
MPAA Rating: PG
An environmentalist Pickett Smith (Sam Elliott) investigates the wildlife around the private island home of Jason Crockett (Ray Milland). Pickett is invited to join in the family’s 4th of July celebration but the family finds they are going to be happy just to survive when the amphibians and reptiles surrounding their luxurious island begin revolting…and nature outnumbers man!
Directed by George McCowen, Frogs is a low-budget horror film. The eco-horror film was met with largely negative reviews but has gained a cult following over the years.
Frogs is another entry in the “it’s so bad, it is good”. Frogs took on the idea that the little creatures of the environment, working together, could kick humanity’s butt. As a kid (without cable), anytime Frogs (or anything of that ilk like The Swarm, Day of the Animals, Ants, etc.) came on, I had to watch it…and Frogs (with its extreme lack of frogs) was a favorite. If frogs were in the movie, would that matter? Frogs aren’t particularly intimidating.
The plot for the film is pretty typical of eco-horror. A nice weekend is ruined by the uprising of animals. The weird part about this movie is that it is called Frogs…when there aren’t really any frogs. The people are menaced by toads, snakes, lizards, crocodiles, and even a snapping turtle (yeah, the slowest animal is dangerous). The movie is just gloriously cheesy.
The movie has a total, ’70s feel and the cast includes that. Ray Milland by this point had fallen from his Oscar winning turn in The Lost Weekend was down to doing low-budget horror like this. He is joined by a (mustache-less) Sam Elliott and Joan Van Ark. I particularly like the glamorous Judy Pace (who looks at the camera even question why she is in this movie) and Hollis Irvings’ Aunt Iris whose quest for butterflies leads to doom.
The movie also does have that great ’70s look. The film has a certain texture to it that modern film doesn’t have and can’t recreate. Since the movie is horror, low budget, and in nature, it has a lot of light flare and a gritty look to it that actually elevates it a bit.
Frogs is a great movie for mocking. It possibly has one of the best posters with a frog with a human hand in its mouth…Today the Pond…Tomorrow the World! It is fun, cheesy, and not scary but it somehow seems to have its own style that some of these bigger budget movies (that are just as bad) don’t have. If you are going to make a bad movie, at least have the bad movie be fun…like Frogs.
Having survived the alien encounter in Antarctica, agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) find themselves reassigned from their work on the X-Files with agents Jeffrey Spender (Chris Owens) and Diana Fowley (Mimi Rogers) are now in charge of the X-Files. While continuing to secretly investigate the X-Files, the Syndicate and Alex Krycek (Nicholas Lea) aren’t finished trying to manipulate the government and society…but for what means?
The X-Files—Season 6 aired from November 8, 1998 to May 16, 1999 on Fox. The season followed the theatrical release of The X-Files: Fight the Future on June 19, 1998. The season received Primetime Emmy awards for Outstanding Makeup for a Series (“Two Fathers”/“One Son”) and nominations for Outstanding Art Direction for a Series (“One Son”), Outstanding Cinematography for a Series (“The Unnatural”), Outstanding Single Camera Picture Editing for a Series (“S.R. 819”), Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (“S.R. 819”), Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Gillian Anderson), Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (Veronica Cartwright), Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series (“Triangle”).
The X-Files was at a weird point when The X-Files—Season 6 aired. It was right after the movie which was a critical and financial hit, and the series basic “cult” following was becoming much more mainstream…which makes it interesting that the ratings for the season were down.
The season is a lot funnier than previous seasons with a lot of stand-alone “creature of the week” episodes that instead of being scary were basically humorous. Episodes like “The Unnatural” were fun and in lines of “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” (but not as good). While the episodes weren’t bad, it felt like The X-Files were lightened up for a broader audience. Episodes like “Two Fathers” and “One Son” almost felt out of place despite being X-Files mythos episodes. I can see how some of the fans could feel that the season betrayed the core of the series.
Duchovny and Anderson have both got each other down at this point. Their relationship seems pretty real and the sexual tension continues to heat up this season. The series still doesn’t seem to know what to do with Mitch Pileggi as Skinner, but I like Veronica Cartwright’s return as Cassandra. I wish more had been done with the Chris Owens and Mimi Rogers characters with them actually researching X-Files in a few episodes. The season featured one of the last roles of Darren McGavin (whose character of Kolchak inspired The X-Files) and M. Emmet Walsh stepped in as his brother when his health deteriorated. The series has an appearance by Bryan Cranston (“Triangle”) which essentially led to Breaking Bad since Vince Gilligan wrote the episode and selected Cranston for Walter White based on his performance here.
Visually, the show also took a big turn this season. The production moved from the Northwest to Los Angeles and this also seemed to take some the eeriness. I prefer the wooded rainy locals of many of the earlier episodes to the cityscape episodes. The budgets seem a bit bigger, and we see “more” of the creatures they encounter…which also isn’t always the best thing.
The X-Files is still a good series, but it also feels a bit like it has allowed its popularity to go to its head at this point. Despite this, it is a fun watch with fun characters and stories. Like many seasons of The X-Files, the season ends on a cliffhanger and leaves you wanting more…bring on The X-Files—Season 7!
The X-Files—Season 6 Complete Episode Guide:
6.1 The Beginning Airdate: 11/08/98
The X-Files have been reopened, but Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are off the case after their adventure in Antarctica. With Diana Fowley (Mimi Rogers) now in charge of the department, Mulder and Scully find themselves butting heads with Jeffrey (Chris Owens) over their jurisdiction. When another alien is born in Phoenix, Arizona, Mulder and Scully discover Gibson Praise (Jeff Gulka) is being used to track it, and it could provide the evidence they need to prove their experience with the X-Files.
6.2 Drive Airdate: 11/15/98
A man named Patrick Crump (Bryan Cranston) is arrested after leading police on a high speed chase which ended with the death of his wife in police custody. As Scully investigates the death of Crump’s wife, Mulder finds himself hostage…and forcing to drive faster and faster to keep Crump alive.
6.3 Triangle Airdate: 11/22/98
Mulder finds himself trapped in 1939 aboard the Queen Anne when he boards it in the Bermuda Triangle and discovers parallels to his current life. As Mulder tries to survive in the Nazi controlled ship, Scully finds herself in a race against time to locate the Queen Anne and save Mulder.
6.4 Dreamland Airdate: 11/29/98
A clandestine trip to Area 51 leads Mulder and Scully to an encounter with a group of Men in Black led by Morris Fletcher (Michael McKean). When a ship passes over the encounter, it creates a temporal and special riff which causes Mulder and Fletcher to switch bodies. Now, Mulder finds himself deep within Area 51 and trying to deal with Fletcher’s wife JoAnne (Nora Dunn) and his children. Fletcher discovers life is better as Mulder and set out to make sure he never has to switch back.
6.5 Dreamland II Airdate: 12/06/98
Mulder and Fletcher are trapped in the lives of each other. While the real Mulder tries to get the black box of the experimental jet back to Scully and the Lone Gunmen, Fletcher continues to take advantage of Mulder’s life. With time correcting itself, Mulder and Fletcher must switch back before it is too late.
6.6 How the Ghosts Stole Christmas Airdate: 12/13/98
A Christmas Eve trip to a haunted house finds Mulder and Scully trapped with Maurice (Ed Asner) and Lyda (Lily Tomlin) who are two ghosts with a death wish.
6.7 Terms of Endearment Airdate: 01/03/99
Wayne Weinsider (Bruce Campbell) and his wife Laura (Lisa Jane Persky) find their child taken from the womb. With a prophetic dream of a demon, Mulder finds himself called in on the case and claims of Devil worship surface…but Wayne might be hiding something that Mulder must uncover.
6.8 The Rain King Airdate: 01/10/99
Daryl Mootz (Clayton Rohner) claims to be bringing the rain to the small town of Kroner, Kansas which is suffering through a massive drought. When Mulder and Scully are called in by the mayor (Dirk Blocker) to investigate Mootz, Mulder and Scully find a woman named Sheila Fontaine (Victoria Jackson) could be the key to the changes in weather…along with a weatherman named Holman Hardt (David Manis).
6.9 S.R. 819 Airdate: 01/17/99
When Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) is infected with a strange techno-virus, Mulder and Scully find themselves in a race against time to save his life and uncover the reason behind the poisoning.
6.10 Tithonus Airdate: 01/24/99
Kersh (James Pickens, Jr.) decides Scully has a future with the FBI…without Mulder. Teamed with Peyton Ritter (Richard Ruccolo), Scully is asked to investigate a crime scene photographer named Alfred Fellig (Geoffrey Lewis) who seems to be able to predict the death of his subjects…and Dana could be next.
6.11 Two Fathers Airdate: 02/07/99
When Cassandra Spender (Veronica Cartwright) resurfaces, her son Jeffrey Spender learns that she wants to meet with Mulder. When Veronica reveals that the aliens are in a war on Earth, Mulder questions if it could be a trap to get him out of the FBI forever. As Jeffrey sides with his father the Cigarette Smoking Man, Mulder and Scully learn that stopping the alien Syndicate could mean killing Cassandra.
6.12 One Son Airdate: 02/14/99
Mulder, Scully, and Cassandra are brought in by Diana Fowley (Mimi Rogers), and Scully believes that Cassandra could be a prisoner again. While Mulder trust Diana, Scully and the Lone Gunmen discover that Fowley could be playing Mulder…and her only ally could be Jeffrey Spender.
6.13 Agua Mala Airdate: 02/21/99
Called down to Florida by Arthur Dales (Darren McGavin), Mulder and Scully find themselves trapped in a hurricane. As the hurricane rages, a sea monster surfaces as Mulder and Scully try to evacuate an apartment building.
6.14 Monday Airdate: 02/28/99
Mulder’s having a bad day. A busted waterbed, a ruined cell phone, and an overdrawn checking account leads to a trip to the bank and a robber (Darren E. Burrows)…all of which has happened before and only a girl named Pam (Carrie Hamilton) remembers.
6.15 Arcadia Airdate: 03/07/99
The community of the Falls of Arcadia appears to be a perfect place for families. When a family is killed by a mysterious creature, Rob and Laura Petrie move in…aka Mulder and Scully. Mulder and Scully discover that the homeowner association’s bylaws might have some killer conditions.
6.16 Alpha Airdate: 03/28/99
When a transport from Asia releases a dog from a ship, Mulder and Scully learn from cryptozoologist named Dr. Ian Detwiler (Andrew Robinson) that the dog is actually a Wanshang dhole…a creature believed to be extinct.
6.17 Trevor Airdate: 04/11/99
A prisoner named Pinker Rawls (John Diehl) is presumed dead after a tornado, but when the prison warden is killed, Mulder and Scully are called in to figure out if Pinker could still be alive. When Pinker’s associates begin to show up dissolved, Mulder and Scully find that Pinker could be more than human and intangible.
6.18 Milagro Airdate: 04/18/99
A writer named Phillip Padgett (John Hawkes) seems to be writing of murder, but the murders are too close to real murders to not have a tie to the murderer. Padgett finds a connection to Dana Scully and while Mulder suspects Padgett is lying about his tie, Scully questions if the tie could be psychic.
6.19 The Unnatural Airdate: 04/25/99
Mulder meets with Arthur Dales (M. Emmet Walsh)…the brother of his ally also named Arthur Dales. Mulder learns the story of Josh Exley (Jesse L. Martin), an African-American baseball player from Roswell, New Mexico who had an extra-terrestrial secret…which attracted the interest of the bounty hunter (Brian Thompson).
6.20 Three of a Kind Airdate: 05/02/99
The Lone Gunmen go undercover in Las Vegas where Byers (Bruce Harwood) finds Susanne (Signy Coleman)…the woman he found love with. Calling in Dana Scully for help, the Lone Gunmen seek out a possible government conspiracy to create a brainwashing drug.
6.21 Field Trip Airdate: 05/09/99
The skeletons of hikers Angela and Wallace Schiff (Robyn Lively and David Denman) are found in an area known for UFO sightings. As Mulder and Scully investigate, they find it could have all their answers to the X-Files…or it could be there death.
6.22 Biogenesis Airdate: 05/16/99
The discovery of a piece of ancient text in the Indian Ocean on the African coast could mean a key to life on the planet Earth itself…but it might not be from Earth at all. As Mulder finds himself plagued with headaches and psychic abilities once seeing the image, Scully tries to find a man who claims to have translated other similar texts.
Movie Name: Zootopia
Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Release Date(s): February 11, 2016 (Denmark)/March 4, 2016 (US)
MPAA Rating: PG
Judy Hopps dreams of being a police officer in the greatest city in the world…Zootopia. When she finally achieves her dream, Judy discovers it is little more than a PR stunt and being a “real” officer might never happen. When Judy takes the initiative to investigate the disappearance of Emmitt Otterson, she must enlist the aid of the rabbit’s mortal enemy: a fox named Nick Wilde. Nick and Judy are about to discover that there is something worse happening in Zootopia…and it could be Judy’s chance to reach her dreams!
Directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore, Zootopia is fifty-fifth film in Walt Disney’s Animated Classics series. It features the voice work of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Jenny Slate, Idris Elba, Bonnie Hunt, Tommy Chong, Nate Torrence, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, Shakira, and more. Following Big Hero 6 in 2014, the animated feature received critical acclaim and a strong box office returns.
Disney is almost always solid and now that they are once again “one” with Pixar, the two giants of animation seem to just be pumping out “classics” over and over again. While I kind of wish that Disney/Pixar would fail on occasion to make them rise to even high, Zootopia once again shows skill and depth that isn’t in earlier films.
The plot of Zootopia is probably above the heads of most of the younger viewers and if they gleam what is going on in Zootopia, it could mean a lot of explaining for parents. While the mystery is simple (who is making animals crazy), the underlying story is quite intense. You have a melting pot of a city filled with animals that don’t like living together. Instead of trust, the city begins falling apart due to the savage nature of animals.
The race relations aspect of the movie is also especially on point at the time of Zootopia’s release. The United States (and the world) is struggling with hate and fear, and Zootopia captures a lot of it…but it also has this weird “stereotypes can be right” message that kind of undermines the whole plot…and if the kids watching the movie take away the stereotypes instead of inclusion, it defeats the good the movie can do.
The visuals for the movie like always are strong. The character designs for the movie are good and like most Disney movies, Disney crafted fun leads that are very likable in Judy and Nick. It is in this perfection that Disney’s marketing monster kind of leaves a sour taste in the mouth of many adults because it feels very transparent at points.
Zootopia is an enjoyable film but it is a Disney film. The movie is just what you’d expect from Disney, but it does provide enough social commentary that it makes it watchable for adults. I wish Disney would push the envelope a little (like it attempted with movies like The Black Hole, Tron, and The Black Cauldron) and I’d love to see what type of animated feature would develop. Disney followed Zootopia with Moana which was also released in 2016.
Movie Name: Bad Taste
Studio: WingNut Films
Release Date(s): December 11, 1987 (New Zealand)/June 16, 1989 (US)
MPAA Rating: Unrated
The small seaside New Zealand town of Kaihoro has been invaded by aliens! A.I.D.S. (Astro Investigation and Defense Service) has been sent to investigate the disappearance of the people and stop any alien incursion. The aliens have a plan and Derek (Peter Jackson), Frank (Mike Minett), Barry (Peter O’Herne), and Ozzy (Terry Potter) discover that the people are meat for interstellar fast-food. With time running out to stop the aliens, A.I.D.S. must pull out all the stops to prevent them from escaping.
Directed by Peter Jackson, Bad Taste is a low-budget horror splatter comedy. The movie was shot over a period of four years and marks Peter Jackson’s first film. Banned in some areas for graphic gore, Bad Taste has gained a cult following over the years as Jackson’s fame has grown.
I actually remember Bad Taste when it was new and people seeing it. The cover of the alien flicking off the camera was covered in our video store but some video stores were given an extra finger to make it look like he was giving a peace sign (or the English version of the middle finger). The weird and gross story was always kind of funny, but the low budget nature of the movie was always too much to take.
Bad Taste’s plot just goes on and on. There really isn’t much plot and it mostly involves the team running around and shooting at normal looking aliens and then aliens with big butts and heads. Jackson never actually had a script for the film and the dialogue (which all had to be redubbed) just seems like filler between shootings and exploding heads…it really could have been told in under an hour.
The cast is also all amateurs. This isn’t their fault because Jackson was forced to pretty much cast friends who could shoot the film on their off days. That doesn’t necessary make for good television. I was always critical of Kevin Smith’s cast’s acting in Clerks (Smith had the same casting problem), but Bad Taste makes the actors of Clerks look like they are doing Shakespeare in the Park.
The movie relies heavily on gross-out. The extremely long sequences of Derek losing his brains, putting them back into his head, and adding alien brains to his brains go on way too long and add runtime to the already overly long film. I kind of like the alien designs (though cheap), but the rest of the quality of the film looks like something shot by kids on break from school…minus a few clever shots that Jackson has reused in other films.
Peter Jackson’s early stuff is really…odd. Movies like this, Meet the Feebles, and Dead Alive all show some of the style he later developed, but for the most part, Jackson didn’t come into his own until Heavenly Creatures (which you could argue is still his best film despite the popularity and acclaim of Lord of the Rings). Bad Taste is only for completionists who want to see all of Jackson’s films…otherwise it is pretty skippable.
Movie Name: Superman II
Studio: Dovemead Ltd.
Genre(s): Comic Book/Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Release Date(s): December 4, 1980 (Australia)/June 1, 1981 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
A nuclear explosion in space has freed Kryptonian criminals General Zod (Terence Stamp), Ursa (Sarah Douglas), and Non (Jack O’Halloran). Empowered by the yellow sun of Earth, Zod, Ursa, and Non intend to make Earthlings their slaves. Earth looks to Superman (Christopher Reeve) for help, but Superman has his own problems. Lois (Margot Kidder) has discovered his true identity, and Clark has given up his powers to live as a human…will he be able to stop the Kryptonians who have enlisted Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) for help?
Directed by Richard Lester (who took over for Richard Donner), Superman II is a superhero follow-up to Superman. The film was released to positive reviews, but the film faced production problems when Donner was removed from the project after almost completing the film (leading to the release of Superman II: The Donner Cut in 2006).
I vividly remember going to see Superman II in the theater. Next to the Star Wars movies, it was the most exciting movie as a kid (ok, maybe with Raiders of the Lost Ark). I can remember watching it with amazement but also that weird familiarity with the characters. Rewatching Superman II, it is a kid’s movie and fun (but it is also hasn’t aged well).
The movie’s plot is solid, but the script is a little questionable. It is a different more simple Superman than the current Superman and the script reflects it. The basic plot plays with the ideas of Clark Kent and goes for levity (despite starring psychopathic alien killers). The dialogue is intentionally corny but funny in the corniness (like a guy saying “I know some judo” when threatening to take on the Kryptonians to defend Superman).
Christopher Reeve was the Superman of the time. He has the Superman look and the goofy Clark Kent look. I always found Margot Kidder a bit off-putting and chainsmoking Lois Lane (but she works here). Terence Stamp, Sarah Douglas and Jack O’Halloran are good as the villains who seem out of place in the script. Gene Hackman’s part is minimized due to the leaving of Donner and sometimes required a stand-in (which also resulted in the disappearance of Valerie Perrine’s great Ms. Teschmacher).
The movie’s effects are dated. As a kid I thought they were amazing, but here the chroma-key effects look like choma-key (like the Niagara Falls part). It also suffers from some weak editing and not very observant choices in visuals and sound…like the English kid in Podunk Idaho (“please Mr. General let my father down”)…plus weird Superman powers like duplication, the disappearing cellophane S, and the “super kiss”…it just seems like cheap ways to write their way out of plot traps.
Superman II can be enjoyed in the simplicity of the movie and taking it at the time it was made. I love Superman II despite its multiple flaws because I loved it as a kid. Richard Lester took over the franchise at this point and made Superman III which further compounded the problems of this movie with a lot less likeable cast. Superman II will always be a classic…Superman III released in 1983, not so much.
Movie Name: Gleason
Studio: Dear Rivers Productions
Release Date(s): January 23, 2016 (Sundance Film Festival)/July 29, 2016 (US)
MPAA Rating: R
Steve Gleason shot to fame when he blocked the Atlanta Falcons punt in September 2006 as New Orleans struggled to return after Hurricane Katrina. It is what Gleason did afterward that made him a hero. Diagnosed with ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease) 2011, Steve begins to chronicle his struggle with the debilitating disease in an attempt to leave something for his then unborn child. Living with the disease, having a child, struggling with his wife Michel Rae Varisco, and starting a foundation to try to help other struggling with the disease.
Directed by Clay Tweel, Gleason is a documentary which premiered at Sundance in 2016. The film was picked up by Amazon and released on July 29, 2016. The shoot of the film also became controversial in that the filmmakers recorded audio of the Saints promoting bounties for attempting to injure rival teams which was made public. The documentary was met with critical acclaim.
The movie does serve two purposes much like Gleason’s life became during this. It is meant to be a piece for his son to remember him by but it also ends up being a piece to promote education about the disease. The movie becomes caught in the middle much like Gleason and his family…what should be his cause—help his family or help prevent it from happening to other families?
Despite being about his son, it is Gleason’s relationships that move the movie forward. Gleason and his wife see how the disease takes a toll on the relationship. They are a kind of unconventional couple, but even their different relationship is put to the test by disease. The film also touches on Steve’s relationship with his father which causes struggles with his father’s faith.
The movie captures a lot of moments…many of which would normally be private. The intimacy of the project helps the film and gives it a lot of heart. You see things that you probably shouldn’t be privy to but it helps you understand the disease. The relationship between the filmmakers and the family help open the film up more and show the viewers more.
Gleason is a rough movie and shows what the disease can do to a body, a soul, and family. Steve Gleason goes from a physically fit professional ball player to someone (as he says) cannot control his own bladder. Despite the horrors and struggles of the disease, the movie is also somewhat uplifting in that it shows human strength and love. Gleason fights on and in his fight will continue to help after he is gone…which is more than can be said for many.
Movie Name: Captain Fantastic
Studio: Electric City Entertainment
Release Date(s): January 23, 2016 (Sundance Film Festival)/July 8, 2016 (US)
MPAA Rating: R
Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) and his family live in the woods of Washington and reject society. When Ben’s wife commits suicide, Ben must face a difficult decision…go against his father-in-law’s orders and attend the funeral with the children or do nothing to honor his wife’s wishes. Ben and his family decide to hit the road but discover that Ben and his wife’s alternative lifestyles have had both positive and negative effects on their children…and the trip could change Ben’s life forever.
Written and directed by Matt Ross, Captain Fantastic is a drama-comedy. Released at Sundance, the movie was released to critical acclaim (especially for Mortensen’s performance).
Captain Fantastic is a movie that wasn’t really on the radar for me until awards season arrived. I missed it in the theaters and checked out the movie…it is an uncomfortable film, but it is a film that offers a lot of surprises and some laughs.
The plot for Captain Fantastic is both its blessing and its curse. I was surprised by the direction of the movie and liked that you couldn’t predict the direction of the film. It does fall into some of the cliché plotlines, but then it rejects them in the next scene. What you expect to happen doesn’t always happen, but it still seems predictable at points.
Mortensen is great as the driven Cash who is so determined to break social constrains that he doesn’t necessarily question if it is the right thing for his family. Yes, his children are smarter than the average kid, but they don’t have the social ability to fit in (and in turn change the system that he hates). Steve Zahne and Kathryn Hahn play part of the frustrated family and Frank Langella is the angry father-in-law who doesn’t believe anything that Ben is trying to do. The children also do a great job with George MacKay, Nicholas Hamilton, and Annalise Basso taking the biggest roles.
The movie looks great. It is easy to see how a person like Ben could be in love with a place like Washington woods and coastline. It is shot with a lot of style. The movie is a dark comedy and the jokes must also be told visually as a result. Things like the trip to the funeral by the “odd” family is a great visual along with the final resting place for their mother.
Captain Fantastic is a worthy movie that stemmed from the director’s question if he was raising his kids right. The movie is good in that it doesn’t land on one person being right or wrong. It is a look at a real question by parents about how to raise (or not raise) a kid in the age of helicopter parenting. Now, go out there and climb that cliff face!
Comic Name: 28 Days Later
Publisher: Boom! Entertainment
Writer: Michael Alan Nelson
Artist: Alejandro Aragon
# of Issues: 4
Release Date: 2011
Reprints 28 Days Later #13-#16 (July 2010-October 2010). Selena, Derrick, and Clint are on the run from the military and the Infected as they try to make it out of Scotland. A rash decision leads to a deadly decision that could cost the group one of its members. Within the outbreaks, the group finds survivors in Edinburgh and learns that an old war has continued despite the fight for survival.
Written by Michael Alan Nelson, 28 Days Later Volume 4: Gangwar is a follow-up to 28 Days Later Volume 3: Hot Zone. The series features art by Alejandro Aragon, and the issues were also collected as part of the 28 Days Later Omnibus.
28 Days Later was a jolt to the horror genre and the zombie genre. Zombies were once again “scary”…and they could run. Despite changing up the horror of the zombies, it was largely like a normal zombie movie where the real horror comes from humanity instead of the zombies. The themes of 28 Days Later are continued in this volume and the story in general…in fact, the Infected are often rather incidental.
The volume kicks off with the rather expected loss of Derrick. He was a blind liability, and Nelson had to find a way to send him out on top. While it would have been more interesting if he had been the survivor, it wasn’t very practical and therefore it wasn’t entirely surprising that he was killed off.
The second half of the story has the group captured in Edinburgh. This is a bit unfortunate because as with the last volume, the series is falling into a pattern. The group arrives at a strange city, is captured, and then escapes during a riot…which pretty much was the end of the film. It reads alright, but it is quite repetitive if you think of it.
The story is illustrated by Alejandro Aragon. Previous volumes often split up artwork duties among multiple artists, but it feels nice to have some consistency here (though I prefer Declan Shalvey’s art).
28 Days Later is a book starring a fun character but with some limited story idea. It isn’t bad, but I wish the story was slightly better. I also don’t love Boom! Entertainment’s four issue storylines which feel truncated and overly fast. 28 Days Later 4: Gangwar is followed by 28 Days Later 5: Ghost Town.