Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Game of Thrones: House Lannister

House Lannister of Casterly Rock

Blazon: Lion
Words: Hear me roar!
Family: Lord Tywin, Warden of the West, and his children: Queen Cersei (wed to King Robert Baratheon), Ser Jaime, and Tyrion.

Tywin Lannister: Not given a lot of screen time or immediacy in the novel, but still not one to cross. We meet him disemboweling and skinning a large animal, berating his son Jaime, the Kingslayer, after a bit of nasty business with Ned Stark. Should you need another reason to be intimidated by this man, feel free to check out the particulars in the novel concerning the fall of the House Targaryen, specifically the children (!)

Queen Cersei: Quite a dish, but her coldness gives new meaning to the word "frigid," unless we're discussing her relationship with her brother Jaime, of course. Son Joffrey is being prepped to take the crown, but Ned Stark proves (again) to be a thorn in the Lannister Family's side when he announces to Cersei that he knows the truth about her children and plans to expose her to the king's wrath. Seemingly undeterred, she fires back, "And what of my wrath, Lord Stark? . . . When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."

Pretty bad ass.

Ser Jaime Lannister: Killed the previous King of the Realm, Mad King Aerys (and is henceforth known as "The Kingslayer.") Attempted the life of Bran Stark after he witnessed something not meant for his eyes. Battled with Ned; taken by Robb. Probably the most physically beautiful man in existence.


Tyrion Lannister: Commonly called "The Imp." Clever, vulgar. As close to a hero as you can get in a corrupt family. My favorite character in the series. There are many moments of genius during Tyrion's scenes, but my favorite came during his abduction (at the hand of Catelyn Stark) in The Eyrie, and his eventual triumph over Lady Lysa Arryn and her ridiculous son:

"Can I make the little man fly now?"
Across the garden, Tyrion Lannister got to his feet. "Not this little man," he said. "This little man is going down in the turnip hoist, thank you very much."
"You presume--" Lysa began.
"I presume that House Arryn remembers its own words," the Imp said. "As High as Honor."

Ugh, and this guy: Joffrey Baratheon, Cersei's son. A Baratheon by name only-- clearly he belongs in this lineup. What a royal prick. I'm struck by a very strong resemblance to Isaac from Children of the Corn by this guy. . . voice similar also. Which is to say I really look forward to someone (hopefully a Stark) doing away with him. Soon.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Goonies, Airplane

In between a holiday (which we travelled for), a birthday, and the mounting (haha) obsession still going on, by me, over Game of Thrones, there hasn't been much time for film posting lately. Sorry about that. I haven't been to the theater in weeks, but I have been reliving my last experience of 21 Jump Street often, since I pretty much laugh every time I think of it (or every time I watch the trailer, which is often). Anyway, if you're really yearning for reviews, here are the meager two I wrote last month for Examiner:

The Hunger Games

21 Jump Street

So moving on, we've come to two especially meaningful films for me from my younger years, The Goonies being my first ever theater experience and Airplane being probably one of the most repetitive from high school. I am still entertained by Airplane, and notice new, different things each time I watch it (this time around it was the stroke books on the magazine rack in the airport having the label, "whacking material,").

The Goonies 1985, directed by Richard Donner.
Starring: Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen.

"A group of kids embark on a wild adventure after finding a pirate treasure map." (IMDB)

I'm sorry to say this did not have exactly the same appeal for me as an adult, although I still think it's mostly cute, and I'll take my boy Josh Brolin at any age, any day of the week. I watched it with my kids, and wondered if they'd see through it the way I did (Data's ridiculous contraptions, Mikey's cheesy monologues, Andi's transparency, cringe-worthy sappiness, and incompetence as a piano player whose mother owns a Steinway? I kind of wanted to punch her in the face, like, a lot.) They didn't, of course, they loved it. Here's what they had to say:

Q (8): "It's about these seven kids going into a pirate ship to look for gold and other treasures. They wanted to be rich and show their fathers they could do things on their own. The struggle is the kids trying to get away from these bad guys and then this pirate, One-Eyed Willy, sets up an obstacle course because he wants them to have to work to get his gold. The best parts were when Chunk got stuck in the freezer with all the ice cream and when Andi had to play the piano.

M (6): "It's a movie about finding treasure; the kids were all worried that their house would get chopped down. The best parts were the wishing well and finding the treasure at the end."

B (4): "I liked the skeletons inside the pirate ship. And the big water slide."

Airplane, 1980. Directed by Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker, David Zucker.
starring: Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Leslie Nielsen

"An airplane crew takes ill. Surely the only person capable of landing the plane is an ex-pilot afraid to fly. But don't call him Shirley." (IMDB)

Some people might get exhausted by this kind of comedy where virtually everything is a gag, but not me. I think I was sold with, "Listen, Betty. Don't start up with your white zone-shit again . . . " but there are very few quotes or situations in this film that don't make me giggle.

The music. It's just outlandish and funny.

"What a pisser," Ted Striker, as he looks directly into the camera.

There is Only One River, and the entire display of antics by both mother and daughter passengers. Flight Attendant Randi, nailing each aisle-seated passenger's head with the guitar after she acquires it from the nun.

"Why is it doing that? The automatic pilot---it's deflating!" Also Dr. Rumack (Nielsen) performing what, a pelvic exam WITH SPECULUM as this is happening?

"How 'bout some coffee, Johnny?" "No thanks!"

The entire scene where the crazed dog nearly rips apart the messenger at Rex Kramer's place as he gets ready and his wife stands by, oblivious ("Shep! No!")

"It's an entirely different kind of flying, altogether!" "It's an entirely different kind of flying."

"It's a damn good thing he doesn't know how much I hate his guts!" "It's a damn good thing you don't know how much he hates your guts."

Captain Over's wife (who sleeps with a horse).

And so on. It's a lot of fun, and one I'll never tire of watching.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Game of Thrones: House Stark

Obsessed, I am. Absolutely obsessed over this business. Maybe it's because I'm secretly power hungry and virtually every character in the story comes with his or her own variety of power and ability. Or that everyone is amazingly attractive and clever. Or that there are so many scowling, impatient fathers all around that remind me of my own . . . regardless, this story is one of my very, very favorite things, ever.
You should watch or read these (or watch and read them). I give them my highest recommendation.

The book (A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin) comes equipped with an appendix at the end which explains the various houses and families, who inhabits which, and the histories of each---this is invaluable. The show's episodes do a great job explaining as much as they can without seeming overly expository, but the opening credits almost do it better with a map of the realm, emerging buildings sprouting up within it, and labels of the most important points of interest (but no family names). If you watch closely though, the first images shown on the golden sword-like metal surround that continually orbits what is presumably the sun inside it are those of the stag, the lion, the wolf, and the dragon (Houses Baratheon, Lannister, Stark, and Targaryen). Pretty sweet.

My favorite house is Stark of Winterfell.

Blazon: Direwolf
Words: Winter is Coming.
Family: Lord Eddard (Ned), Lady Catelyn, Robb, Sansa, Arya, Brandon, Rickon, and Jon Snow (Ned's bastard son).

1. Ned Stark. HOT. Respected. Friend of King Robert. Receives a promotion he doesn't want; things don't go well. Best moment: refusing to acknowledge the insolent Joffrey as King. That and just being generally kick-ass. I won't spoil anything if you haven't seen or read yet, but his story is one that made me gasp and cry, many times.

2. Catelyn Stark. Mother of five, tolerator of bastard son living among her own children. Must take things into her own hands once the shit starts hitting the proverbial fan, though her children are scattered throughout the realm. Best moment: "In the name of King Robert, I call upon you to seize him . . . " (taking Tyrion the Imp by surprise at the inn).

3. Robb Stark. Oldest child, rather ordinary and uninteresting until those last, "KING OF THE NORTH," exclamations. Best moment: kidnapping (the exceedingly gorgeous) Jaime Lannister.

4. Sansa Stark. Unfortunate betrothal to Joffrey Baratheon (later King Joffrey). Unfortunate situation with her wolf, "Lady." Unfortunate dealings involving her father's mercy before the new king. Best moment: fainting when she realizes what she's done?

5. Arya Stark. Poor at needlepoint, boyish, skilled at swordplay. Seems to have the best relationship with her father, Ned, but is impulsive and defiant to many of her elders. Best moment: thwacking Joffrey with a stick, throwing his sword into the river, and encouraging her direwolf, "Nymeria," to attack him.

6. Brandon Stark. Wall climber, seer of things both in life and in dreams. Unfortunate events befall him after failing to heed his mother's command "no more climbing." Best moment: Bran's direwolf, "Summer," is clearly the most awesome.

7. Rickon Stark. Unimportant thus far, but like Bran, seems to see things others do not. Direwolf named "Shaggydog."

8. Jon Snow. The Hot Bastard, finder of the pack of newborn direwolves later adopted by the family (his is "Ghost,"). Leaves Winterfell to become a protector of The Wall in the far north. Best moment: protecting the overweight cowardly Sam as he attempts to join the brotherhood; "I've never had a friend before." "We're not friends," Jon said. He put a hand on Sam's broad shoulder. "We're brothers."

Pay attention to the wolves, many of the events that come to pass seem to correlate with them.
(I want you and your wolf with us when we ride out beyond that wall tomorrow.)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Total Recall Trailer

Just in case you're interested . . .

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Pulp Fiction

I was behind the rest of the world on this one; I didn't see it until I was a sophomore in college. Clearly I had been watching films for a great many years before this, but Pulp Fiction was the first film that made me stop and think, "Holy fucking shit," during the entire thing and for days afterwards. In a way, it was the catalyst that led to my quitting music and doing film instead. To say that I love it would be putting it mildly; if you know my kids' names, you know just how serious I am. More than soundtrack, cinematography, or dialogues, this film taught me one thing: sometimes there are things (films, sentences, people, actions, writers) that just come together and are almost undefinably awesome---I want this in my life in all ways possible.

Pulp Fiction, 1994. Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Starring: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson

"The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption." (IMDB).

The items that struck me then are the same ones that strike me now. Mostly chronologically:

1. First scene with Pumpkin and Honey Bunny; freeze frame on the last second before the dialogue ends. Scorsese does it, which means a shit load of Frenchmen probably did it too, but damn, it looked *awesome.* Tim Roth's sort of animated, explanatory rant together with the strangely innocent yet impulsive Amanda Plummer. That gun he slams down on the table and the metallic sound it makes. "Garcon means boy."

What an opening.

2. Samuel Jackson as Jules Winnfield: deliveries and reactions. The explanation of Tony Rocky Horror's recent speech impediment and the implications of Vincent's date with Mia Wallace. The exchange over Big Kahuna Burgers and sprite followed by the "'What' ain't no country I ever heard of," bit. All lines spoken at Jimmy's house: "I'm a mushroom cloud-layin' mother fucker, Mother Fucker!" Can I say that he made the film? He did.

3. The soundtrack. Quentin Tarantino was born in 1963; I was born in 1976. He grew up listening to a vastly different collection of music than I did, but the selections chosen and their placements within the film completely blew me away, again and again. The surf music of The Tornadoes and The Lively Ones; Dick Dale's Miserlou. The Statler Brothers. Urge Overkill. Al Green. Kool and The Gang. And my personal favorite, Dusty Springfield, when Vincent meets Mia. I love this scene, a lot. He's stoned on Choko; she's doing lines. She watches him through a spy camera while he stares at a painted picture of her. Her lips, her voice, her feet.

4. The Overdose. Mostly I love this because of the car antics and all the cursing. Vincent's Malibu fishtailing around the corner. "Fuck you, Lance, ANSWER!" The way Lance (Eric Stoltz with Jesus hair/beard and robe) just paces around that cluttered up house and then finally goes to the front door, snaps up the window shade and sees that car fly across the lawn (at a diagonal angle to what is presumably the driveway) and then crash into something, maybe the chimney. Favorite. Scene. Ever. I don't think my dad ever saw this but as someone who laughed hard enough to cry at the motorcycle through the wall scene (plus Sammy Davis's reaction) in The Cannonball Run, I think he would have dug it. This is a minor part of the film, I realize, but seriously, I think about this whole scene being written ("Car flies up across lawn at angle and crashes into house. Vincent drags Mia from car, unphased,") or however it appeared in the screenplay, and I almost pee myself giggling.

What do they look like, Jimmy?
5. Overlapping and out of sequencing the storytelling. Everyone does this now, but Tarantino did it first. Trickery. I like it. Also, in the end, referring to Jules and Vincent as "dorks," when Jimmy (Tarantino) clearly is one himself.

Bonus for liking gourmet coffee.
What a film.