Tuesday, September 16, 2014

L.I.E. #115: LIBRARY ROULETTE! And What’s Been Seen So Far In September!

Let’s talk about LIBRARY ROULETTE!

Many of the movies (that is, DVDs) I watch are via the blessed New York Public Library (NYPL), but not so much from me wandering the stacks hoping to find what I want—to heck with that! I’m a (self)important man; I have things to do, places to be!
Besides the Hamilton Grange branch of the NYPL, on 145th Street—as awesome as it is—doesn’t always have what I want.

But you can go to the NYPL’s website, and after you register, you can place holds on DVDs—which is what I do!

When your hold becomes available, then it is sent to the library branch of your choice. I used to get my DVDs sent to a branch near my old job; now I get them forwarded to Hamilton Grange. So accommodating!

Now, the DVDs sometimes take a lonnnnnnnnnnnng time to get to you—meaning you don’t get to see it when you want to—it’s not Netflix where you can rearrange your movie list to suit your tastes—which is why I refer to this as LIBRARY ROULETTE: it’s a gamble.

But I tend to enjoy this weird gamble: it reminds me of when NYC only had a handful of TV stations, and you had to catch a movie when it aired because who knew when it would be broadcast again?

And Yes, you only get one week to watch them—and the fines aren’t cheap anymore, like $3/day! Which means that when I am really busy—whether tied up with work or school—I don’t get a chance to see my movie; because back to the NYPL it goes! I’ve had American Hustle delivered to me about three times, but always when I am super-occupied, so I still haven’t had a chance to view it. One day, though, one day….

The NYPL doesn’t have everything—but if it’s a “classic” or very contemporary, you can bet it’s somewhere in the system, and roughly 35% of the movies I see are through the library. In fact of the two films reviewed today, that’s how I saw the first one….

Open Grave (2013; Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego) Since I love, love, love director Lopez-Gallego’s previous Apollo 18 (my rave HERE), I had really high hopes for this flick, but WOW, was I let down!
It starts off well enough: a guy wakes up with no memory in an outdoor pit full of dead bodies. Nearby is a house, but the five people in it are no help—four of them also have no memory, and the fifth is a mute Asian woman who only writes in Asian cuneiform. What happened, why are they there, and why are there so many guns in the house? And what’s up with that pit of dead bodies?
Unfortunately, the characters (with the exception of the mute) are all loud, belligerent assholes. Sure, there’s plenty of tension, but the actors devour the scenery mercilessly, engendering zero sympathy. Before we discover that this is one segment of a zombie apocalypse (again?), I wanted them all dead. An annoying flick whose last half I watched at fast-forward, because it was either that or turn it off.
Open Grave is a missed opportunity, and a major disappointment. Sigh….

The Purge: Anarchy (2014; written & directed by James DeMonaco) Like its predecessor, this is a Roger Corman-style B-movie: full of political themes, but never at the sacrifice of the action.
Don’t listen to “mainstream” critics: they’re all lapdogs in the service of the corporate overlords, and don’t want to see you inspired to hate the rich and overthrow the government.
The Purge: Anarchy is a damn good, super-paranoid action-thriller that really ratchets up the tension. Because this sequel to 2013’s The Purge [reviewed HERE] expands its canvas—the first film took place in one home (in a gated community), but this one is all over Downtown Los Angeles—so much more socio-economic-political criticism/satire can take place. While the action is fine, by couching it in the sick uber-Ayn Randian philosophy that has taken over our nation, everything in the movie gets turned up to “eleven.” The rich are vicious soulless parasite, needing to violently slaughter the surplus population in order to feel better about themselves and justify their greed. It’s a sick twist on the nightmare that we’re living in now, showing that the monied class, even when it has already stacked the deck in its favor, still cannot be expected to play fair. Not that we should expect “entitled” sociopaths to ever behave decently, I guess.
I would go into a genuine synopsis, but I saw this flick cold, and so should you—this will allow you to enjoy the movie’s various twists and turns better.
This is a mean and nasty vision of a sick and inhumane future that fans of Philip K. Dick or J.G. Ballard would appreciate, and a flick whose call for revolution makes me applaud. This movie goes places that far too few films are willing to go, at least politically: Very recommended!

Books Read So Far in September 2014

Carsick by John Waters (2014) Jeez, could this be the first contemporary/just-published book I’ve read in ages? Perhaps.
Waters always provides a fun read, and this is no different, with several VERY laugh-out-loud moments. He’s hitchhiking from Baltimore to San Francisco, and gives the reader his fantasies (good and bad, always funny) and realities (sweet and kind for the most part). Inconsequential, but enjoyable.

BTW, have you ANY idea how difficult it is to read student projects on metalanguage theory when you’re depressed?

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