MeekinOnMovies’ Midnight(ish) Mushroom Movie Marathon: Part I

“It’s unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same.”

After May and June, months where I wrote about 60 thousand words, I was pooped. Kaput. I had ideas and thoughts and topics I could write about, but they
were weak, listless, and got jumbled up somewhere between my brain,
arms, fingers, and keyboard. 

So for the first time in a long time I said fuck this being a writer thing foe a minute, got a big ole bag of
shrooms, and spent all my free time watching every movie I could get my dilated
pupils and rapidly growing and shrinking and breathing hands on.

5 days and 30 movies later, I was a new man. I discovered filmmakers I disregarded, re-discovered movies I had seen as a kid but never understood, and studied any detail I could. This wasn’t a vacation, it was meditation. Picture someone stranded in the desert with tattered clothes, coming
across a can of soda, popping it, drinking it, and making that
“Ahhhhhhh” sound of refreshment. That was me.

I was watching to enjoy, not review – but I am who I am, so here I am
anyway to tell you about why you should see these flicks if you can. The first batch of movies I watched were 90s flicks. Maybe it’s the lack of CGI, maybe it’s the idea that an ‘action’ movie back in those days weren’t all slam-bam action epics, and maybe it’s because I grew up hearing about all these movies as a kid, and wanted to go check them out as an adult.

Thus presented for your apathy are interesting takeaways from the first portion of my fungi-infused sojourn. I hope you enjoy.

 I’ll Do Anything (1994)
Before “As Good As It Gets” James L. Brooks made this movie. This movie,”I’ll Do Anything” was initially filmed as a big-budget musical before test audiences reacted with such vitriol he axed the musical numbers and re-wrote a bunch of scenes. 
This sounds like a recipe for disaster, but instead what you get is a movie with the whimsy of a musical, where characters are a bit more animated, a bit more eccentric, monologue often with wonderful results, and the score feels like a carnival.
For starters, this flick was written by James L. Brooks who had his hands in ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ and ‘The Simpsons’, and a bunch of other TV properties too. Regarding ‘The Simpsons’, it turns out the episode Brooks had the most to do with, creativly, was the “Lisa’s Substitute” episode If you’re seen it, you know he knows his way around a joke as much as he does a tender moment. 
The plot concerns a struggling actor who through a series of circumstances ends up responsible for his daughter, and is woefully unprepared to be a full time father. He eventually ends up dealing with a big time movie exec played by Albert Brooks, gets involved with the ‘who the HELL is that foxy lady’ Joely Richardson, who toward the end delivers an emotional reaction to a certain character’s actions that deserves wild praise.
And then we have Nan, played by Marge Simpson herself, Julie Kraver. Kraver is damn brilliant in this movie, and she is worth the price of admission alone. It’s impossible to find clips from this movie online for some reason, so here’s some choice dialog from her character: 
Matt Hobbs: (asking Nan about moving from Washington DC to Hollywood) Washington, boy, that must have been a big adjustment.
Nan Mulhanney: It wasn’t that bad. Both places have a lot in common: Over-privileged people, crazed by their fear of losing their privileges. Alcoholism. Addiction. Betrayal. The near total degradation of what once were grand motives. The same spiritual blood-letting. I kind of do miss the seasons, though.

Burt: Wanna have a little sex?

Nan: You know, I’ve never hung up on anyone in my life. Because what if the next thing they said solved everything? But I feel I must end this conversation.

Burt: That’s “no”? Hello…?
Anyway, if you’re looking for a surpsingly warm and silly and laugh-out-loud hilarious movie that’s right up the alley of film buffs – including a wonderful scene that explains how ‘acting’ works in a way that makes total sense, I’d seek this one out. If you have Comcast On Demand you should be able to find it under the “MoviePlex” premium channel. 

Trailer:

Shroom Thought: The fact this movie isn’t more popular is a travesty, and I must now Tattoo Nick Nolte’s mug shot on my body.  
—–

Out of Sight (1998)
“It’s like seeing someone for the first time, and you look at each other for a few seconds, and there’s this kind of recognition like you both know something. Next moment the person’s gone, and it’s too late to do anything about it.” 

I caught this movie on Crackle, which is kind of like the Salvation
Army Thrift Store of movie apps. As a kid I remember this flick getting
previewed over and over again on the guide channel, using words like
slick and steamy and sexy.

For what it’s worth, I generally dislike ‘sexy’ movies. In much the
same way  a strip club is an expensive way to get an unusable boner, a
movie featuring a lot of soft-glow love scenes feels like a good way to feel like sleezeball in front of strangers. If
I want to watch people having sex, I want to watch them having sex for real, presumably on a porno site, not
pretending to have sex. So when stuff on Showtime or HBO has that mandated 2-3 minutes of boobage you’ll see in pretty much any of their shows, I’ll roll my eyes.

It’s not that sex in movies is bad, it’s just sex for the sake of sex is bad. In a movie like Jackie Brown, the lone sex scene is played for laughs and conveys something about the characters, instead of conveying naked bodies to the eyeballs of the audience.

So when I say that ‘Out of Sight’ is one of the coolest, sexiest, slickest
movies I’ve seen in quite some time, I mean it. The plot features a
professional bank robber, prison escape, and diamond heist, but is more
about the moment to moment energy of the characters. The way they talk,
the way they act, how they zag when we expect them to zig. 

I’m reminded of something billionaire philanthropist Montgomery Burns said, about how in his day the starlets could tantalize the audience by simply raising a finger or showing a little leg. Here, all it takes a trunk, a little red lighting, and a conversation between Clooney and Lopez that’s weird, esoteric, and forces a smile on your face like you’re watching something you shouldn’t.

In addition to the trunk portion of the flick, there are two scenes, the opening bank robbery, and another involving a ‘date’ between Jennifer Lopez’s character and George Clooney that belong in “That was so fucking cool!” wing of the library of Congress. 

You can watch this movie, for free, right now, and quite frankly, it may be the most fun two hours you have all week.

Best Scene:  



Shroom Thought: Hey, is Michael Keaton playing the same character from Jackie Brown?! (He was!)
—-

Crimson Tide (1995)

Yeah, horses’re fascinating animals. Dumb as fence posts but very
intuitive. In that way they’re not too different from high school girls:
they may not have a brain in their head but they do know all the boys
want to fuck ’em.

Crimson Tide is what I like to call a TNG movie. When Star Trek tossed the science with the 09 reboot, a little part of me was sad. I grew up fascinated by the inner workings of the Enterprise, specifically the Enterprise-D and getting into the nitty gritty of how all the fictional systems functions.

Crimson Tide does a lot of the same things, replacing a space ship with a submarine, and fictional techno babble with, well, real techno babble. If you’re the kind of person inclined to watch a movie because you like a good story, AND you like to know how something foreign and complicated works a bit better, Crimson Tide is one of those ‘entertaining and unintentionally educational’ flicks. The recent ‘Captain Phillips’ was a lot like this too – showing us a lot about how a giant barge and its crew actually functions and works, so when stuff goes haywire, we understand the hows and whys.

Of course that’s just a potato bread bun surrounding the beefy acting of Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman, both good men acting in what they believe to be the best interest of their country, and their duty to the Navy. The tension between the two is like a tea kettle. It boils over, simmers, and after the dust settles both men realize the other was only doing their job to the best of their ability.

This is a wonderful thriller and great fun to watch with parents or loved ones who don’t like hyper violence or intense vulgarity. There’s also some great talking points to pull out of the flick if you’re looking for them. But even if you’re not rest assured you don’t need to look very hard to enjoy this movie a great deal.

Best Scene:


Shroom Thought: I wonder if modern day Submarines get good Wifi?
—-

 A Serious Man (2009)

“…with the right perspective you can see Hashem, you know, reaching into
the world. He is in the world, not just in shul. It sounds to me like
you’re looking at the world, looking at your wife, through tired eyes.
It sounds like she’s become a sort of… thing… a problem… a
thing..” 
There’s a girl I’ve known for about a decade now who is essentially a big yellow light. We’ll go to a salmon run, watch the fish, and she’ll sit a bit away from me, then message me the next day saying I should have kissed her. A few months later I’ll suggest we go look at the stars in a field and smoke hookah, and she’ll decline, only to text me the next day saying how beautiful the sky was and wondering if I saw it. 
I *hate* yellow lights. Which is a problem, because A Serious Man is essentially Yellow Light the movie. There are no real answers to the biggest questions, and you can either soldier through crises or become paralyzed trying to make concrete sense of it all. Either way, you’ll never know.
This is a two paragraph way of saying fuck those cock-teasing Cohen brothers. 
With due respect, of course. Normally I can understand when a movie is good and not my cup of tea, or bad but enjoyable. But for whatever the Cohen brothers are laying down, I’m not picking up. On the first try at least. The Cohen’s make me feel like a moron. I haven’t seen their entire catalog, but what I have seen has always left me with a “huh? Did I miss something?”.
The Cohens remind me of the Hemmingway short story ‘Hills Like White Elephants’ about a couple waiting on the train tracks on their way to get an abortion or on their way back from one. Nothing is every directly communicated about the abortion and the schism in their relationship, but the characters, prose, and construction of the story make it clear what they’re upset about, even though you’re never told with 100 percent certainly. 
And while I appreciate the sentiment, life has enough uncertainties as it is. ‘A Serious Man’ is about a man in a crisis of faith and confidence, as every one of those uncertainties break in the worse possible way. It’s ultimately a bleakly dark comedy with moments of gentle insight and understanding. There’s a scene involving an elder Rabbi, a tape recorder, a stoned boy on his Bar Mitzvah, and a surprising display of respect for Jefferson Airplane that touches the soul like an unexpected compliment from your company’s CEO. 
Still the movie requires studiousness to understand and find fully enriching, and it may not hurt to have someone well versed in religion to ask questions of, depending on your ability to pick up on the definitions of things based on context.
Regardless, the sign of a great movie is that you’re thinking about it days after you’ve seen it, as I have. I don’t know what to think, but I like that its making me think regardless. I’d check it out.
Best Scene:
Shroom Thought: I think having an Italian mom is like having a Jewish mom except you eat better and she has a mustache.

Coming Soon:  Desperado / Jackie Brown / Reservoir Dogs / Dusk Til Dawn / Pulp Fiction / Inglorious Basterds / Death Proof / Django Unchained / In Brughes / No Country For Old Men / The Fifth Element / Zodiac / Kill Bill Vol. 1 / Kill Bill Vol. 2 /Apocalypse Now / Pain & Gain /