Friday, November 20, 2015

Anomalawnmower Man

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Tuesday night, Izzy & I were invited to yet another special preview screening, and this one was held right in my neighborhood… at the Industrial Light & Magic Premier Theatre in the Presidio! Yes, next to the Yoda Statue… and basically Lucasfilm’s private screening room! It… was pretty f**king awesome… and I’m not even a big Star Wars guy… but that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy some drinks & snacks while posing with Boba Fett and Darth Vader…

The movie that we saw was “Anomalisa” by writer/co-director Charlie Kaufman (“Adaptation”, “Being John Malkovich”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, etc) and it’s essentially a play that he wrote… but played out in stop-motion clay animation and featuring the voice talents of David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tom Noonan (and that is IT). The story is about a man named Michael Stone (Thewlis) and he’s on a business trip in Cincinatti… and he’s essentially going through the motions of a Larry David created episode where nothing really happens out of the ordinary… in fact, even all of the other people’s voices sound exactly the same (Noonan). He’s having issues with his wife… he writes books & gives speeches about customer service for companies… but underneath it all, he’s just sick & tired of every day being essentially the same & not being stimulated in any real way. Even when he reaches out to a former girlfriend that he hasn’t even talked to in over a decade for a drink… the voice is the same… the routine is the same… he feels like he’s missing something, but has no idea what it is. Don’t worry, everybody. There’s some of that Larry David-esque comedy throughout so that it’s not a total downer. Then, after taking a shower, he hears a different voice in the hallway! He runs out into the hallway to meet Lisa (Leigh) and her friend Pam (Noonan). He’s infatuated with her and this new voice… but he can’t quite figure out why… but he must find out! Okay, that’s where I’m drawing the line on the plot. Go check out this movie! It’s totally a critic’s wet dream… smart, sharp, yet realistic dialogue… beautifully shot… the plot is pretentious yet thought-provoking… probably going to be in the high 90’s on Metacritic and nominated for a few things. Not interested in any of that? How about some nudity & a sex scene? WHAT? In award bait? Absolutely! The entire movie is one of those awkward & thought-provoking films that writer Charlie Kaufman is famous for… and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s a movie experience. Not like “Mad Max: Fury Road” where the adrenaline is going constantly… but more of an experience that you’ll look back on and say “remember when we watched that movie with hundreds of people in their 50’s & 60’s where the puppets had sex? That was still a pretty good movie… or play.” The movie doesn’t come out until December 30th so put it on your calendar. Yeah, I highly recommend checking it out… and a big thank you to ILM & Lucasfilms for inviting us!!!
Now, Lucasfilm… there’s another movie that you’re wrapping up production on that… you know, we’d really appreciate a glance at a few months before its release… just to f**k with everybody who’s already bought tickets while I’m like “Eh… I’ll wait for Netflix.” You know the one that I’m talking about… don’t play coy with me. If you want some great criticism about this “Force Awakens” sequel thing… I’m more than willing to help out… and I’ll even keep my comments off the internet. You’ve read the posts, you know I’ve got the goods. Anyway, just think about it… you know how to reach me.
Wednesday night, Izzy & I watched 1992’s science-fiction-horror flick “The Lawnmower Man” starring Jeff Fahey & Pierce Brosnan. The story is about a scientist (Brosnan) who is creating virtual reality technology that will allegedly revolutionize the world and make anything possible in the physical world… you know, like virtual reality did in the late 90’s, right? Anyway, he’s also experimenting with these drugs in a fashion similar to “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” where they stimulate the brain & make the subject smarter. Hell, the opening sequence of the movie is even one of the chimpanzees trying to escape the facility using his superbrain & virtual reality technology… and of course a gun. That’s worth watching right there. After the “incident” with the chimp’s escape, the doctor wants to push the research forward… but with a human subject. The company’s director (Dean Norris from “Breaking Bad” 20 years younger) says no… but he does it anyway using a mentally challenged lawnmower named Jobe (Fahey) who… basically just picture Simple Jack from “Tropic Thunder” and you’ve got him… but with steely blue eyes. After a few treatments, Jobe is becoming increasingly smarter… but also, more self aware. I’ll leave the plot there… but yeah, I’d recommend checking the movie out. The visual effects are quite dated being from the early computer imaging days of 1990-1992 but at the same time, it’s also a somewhat cautionary tale about technology in everyday life (though a little ludicrous) and there are just a few scenes in the movie worth watching for the “what the hell?” of it all. Like… well, the sex scenes… especially the one in virtual reality… and what becomes of the lady involved. Hmm… there’s been a few awkward sex scenes mentioned in this post already. Anyway, check it out with friends!

We then followed it up with its 1996 sequel “Lawnmower Man 2: Jobe’s War” (on our version, it’s also been under “LM2: Beyond Cyberspace” and a few other names apparently) starring Matt Frewer as Jobe… and the only returning cast member is Austin O’Brien who played Jobe’s child friend Peter in both movies (he was also the kid in “Last Action Hero” if you need a visual image). So… just to warn you up front, on IMDb, the first movie was rated about 6 out of 10… the sequel is rated 2.3 out of 10. It's not a great movie… but it’s a little better than that I think. Basically, at the end of the first movie, the building where Jobe was trying to go all “Transcendence” / Skynet and rule the world through the internet… was destroyed in a massive explosion (spoiler alert). However, for the sequel to happen… Jobe’s body is not completely destroyed in this government facility crushing explosion… but he is crippled. Well, “IN THE FUTURE” as the title card says, an evil technology mogul resuscitates Jobe and hooks him up to his new virtual reality supercomputer so that Jobe can use his skills to create a computer chip that will connect all of the computers & technology of the world into one network that he can then control. Obviously that’s a stupid f**king idea as Jobe plays them for fools and starts to take over the world through the interwebs… and offers everybody to jack into his new virtual world for solace & freedom from the woes of their future world (which he’s controlling to turn into even worse sh*t). You know… like PS Home. Oh, you don’t remember that? Anyway, there’s only one man who can stop him… a random ass doctor who had little to do with anything really involving the backstory (played by Patrick Bergin) and then a bunch of apparently homeless orphan teenagers led by Jobe’s friend Peter. Yeah… it’s not a great movie… but Matt Frewer is pretty decent. I feel like he’s doing a Jim Carrey impersonation half of the time… but he’s legit. I wouldn’t recommend seeing this movie alone by itself… but if you’re immediately following the original, why not? It’s a scant 90 minutes or so.
The biggest problem that I personally had with this movie… was the timing in the universe. Mostly with the title card after the recap of the events with “IN THE FUTURE” title card at the beginning being incredibly vague. Why does that agitate me? BECAUSE IT’S NOT VAGUE!!! PETER IS IN THE MOVIE… FOUR YEARS OLDER THAN HE WAS IN THE ORIGINAL!!! Now, they make the future world to be like… 30 years in the future or something… because it looks like a homeless man’s “Blade Runner” with all kinds of futuristic cars and technologies… but at the same time has the same actor playing the same role four years old… so maybe a late teenager? So this is 1996 “in the future” PERIOD!!! Look, even if they said something like… 2006, ten years in the future & made Peter a little older (moustache or something?) then I’d buy it if he threw a little gravel in his voice… but he didn’t. THIS IS A PRETTY MAJOR THING WHEN WRITING UP THIS MOVIE!!! Is it four years later? Obviously not because everything (even in an alternate dimension or timeline) is about 30 years advance… but it’s four years later. Did Jobe’s shenanigans in the first movie push technology forward that fast? NOPE! THAT SH*T GOT BLOWED UP!!! LIKE HE DID!!! Anyway, just my take… aside from that… it’s just a ridiculous little movie… and Matt Frewer is awesome.
Thursday night, Izzy & I went to a QUICK DRAW SF event at the club F8. Essentially, Quick Draw SF promotes these meetups where artists from all over can come together and share their works. There are some featured artists… but mostly it’s about getting people involved and making art alongside them. This events theme was “Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs!” so you know that Izzy & I were all about that! F8 is essentially a smallish bar and they had house music playing… and an area set up for some of the featured artists… but everybody else had to do with the seating usually intended for girls who are drunk and/or trippin’ balls on the weekends… but it was still a pretty nice venue. I think if they toned down the music… let’s say in half, then it would’ve been a pretty interesting and great event. How so? Well, a little music is good for the creative process… but not when it’s giving you a headache. Also, if you see other artists that interest you, you can have a little conversation… as opposed to screaming at them like you’re trying to get their phone number on the dance floor or something. “That’s really interesting!” “Thanks!” “What’s your favorite medium to work in?” “Yeah, I’ve been doing it since I was a kid.” “What?” “No thanks, I’ve already got water in this bottle!” “…okay, great work. Nice meeting you!” Just a suggestion for the next one… still a great idea!
This Sunday, Izzy & I will be going to the Dickens Fair at the Cow Palace with her family… and then we’re going right along into Thanksgiving and a pretty darn busy time with selling art at various festivals. If you’ve got nothing better to do Thanksgiving weekend, come on out and see us at the Treasure Island Flea Market! I’ll be the tall guy handling the money & she’ll be the one selling the most adorable art that you’ll find on this planet! Have a great weekend everybody!!!

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