Thursday, January 25, 2024

Hodl to the Moon

Film: Dumb Money
Format: DVD from DeKalb Public Library on basement television.

No one would ever mistake me for knowing anything much about money. My wife handles the bills because if it were up to me, I’d be late on a bunch of them. Everyone has their talents and mine don’t lie in that area. Because of this, movies like The Big Short tend to go a little over my head. I have to pay a lot of attention to keep up with financial stories because it’s just…beyond me. That makes me kind of the target market for a movie like Dumb Money because I am very much named in the title.

This movie is based on the story of GameStop. More specifically, this is about the GameStop stock explosion that happened during the pandemic. According to the film, and I honestly don’t know how much of this is actually real, a guy named Keith Gill (Paul Dano) noticed that some major investors were shorting GameStop, including hedge fund managers who put significant money into shorting the stock. As I understand it, shorting is basically a bet that the stock will tank—a future promise to buy the stock created by “selling” the stock now. If you “sell” the stock at $10 and it drops to $5, you’ve just made $5 per share. If you think the company is going under—and GameStop certainly looked like it was going to—you sell for whatever the price is and buy it for essentially zero. So Keith decided that the stock was undervalued and started telling people on the Wall Street Bets subreddit on Reddit.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Closing the Curtain

Film: Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things
Format: Streaming video from Hoopla on Fire!

One of the better ways to get an audience interested in a movie is to have a title that really tells the audience what to expect. There’s absolutely no mistaking what you’re going to get with a film called Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. This is not going to be a drawing room comedy or a cute rom-com. No, we’re going to be dealing with dead bodies almost certainly coming back to life and causing problems for the “children” too dumb to let the dead rest.

The main thing different from the film title and the film is the nature of the children. We are not going to be witnessing 10-year-olds playing with body parts. Instead, this is going to be the story of an acting troupe wandering in a graveyard at the behest of their director and owner, Alan (Alan Ormsby, who co-wrote the screenplay). Alan is arguably the smuggest wanker to appear in film in the 1970s, and I realize that is saying a lot. One of the ways that he demonstrates how much more important and awesome he is compared with his actors is that he calls them “his children.”

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Who Wants Ice Cream?

Film: The Incredible Melting Man
Format: Streaming video from Tubi TV on Fire!

I’ve heard it said before that people shouldn’t remake good movies. We already have good versions of those stories, so it’s fair to ask how many additional, potentially good versions of that story we need. There have been what, four different Spider-Man series in the last three decades or so? And how many times do we need to see Bat-man’s origin? No, what we need is remakes of bad movies. Give a story that might have had some legs a second chance if it was screwed up the first time. And then, we get a movie like The Incredible Melting Man, and we learn that this might not be such a good idea after all.

See, this movie feels very much like a remake of a number of terrible science fiction movies from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Any movie from that era where men come back from space and something terrible happens to them (The Crawling Hand) or we get attacked by a single, slow-moving creature (The Creeping Terror), or a nuclear accident makes someone go crazy (The Beast of Yucca Flats) can be seen in this one. But, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, the movie that this is the closest to is the grade-z clownshow Monster a Go-Go.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Three, Seven, Ace

Film: The Queen of Spades
Format: Streaming video from Amazon Prime on Fire!

There are times when I will get kind of locked onto a particular movie that I can’t find because of the name. That’s definitely been the case for some reason with The Queen of Spades, a late-1940s film that has a number of horror elements. This is very much a period piece, and it has the sort of connection to horror that many films of the time did. This isn’t genuinely scary in any real sense, but it touches on the supernatural and at least tells the audience that there are demonic forces involved. For post-war society, that was probably enough to get people squeamish.

The film takes place in 1806 Russia, in both military and societal circles. The military men spend their time playing a game they call faro, and it seems to be based on a real game. While it’s never fully explained, the game seems to work like this. One player picks a card from his own deck of cards and places it face down. The dealer then goes through his own deck of cards, separating it one by one into two piles. If the player’s card comes up in the dealer’s half of the deck, the dealer wins. If it comes up in the player’s half, the player wins. While the men play, engineer Captain Herman Suvorin (Anton Walbrook) watches, intrigued, but never betting. We learn soon enough that he is far from wealthy, a fact that he attributes to his lack of upward mobility through the ranks.

Saturday, January 6, 2024

What I've Caught Up With, December 2023

I'd love to tell you that my lack of posting last month was because I became entranced with a bunch of movies of my big list of things to watch, but that would be a lie. The truth is that I crossed off only three movies last month, and all of those after Christmas. And, in reality, only two of these were new to me; I've seen Rush Hour at least twice in the past. To put just how bad last month was for me, I've already watched three movies off the list in January.

Thursday, January 4, 2024


Film: Polite Society
Format: Streaming video from Amazon Prime on Fire!

It must genuinely be exhausting defining your world by the things that you hate. Polite Society is the sort of film that will absolutely piss off the same crowd that had a temper tantrum at Barbie and boycotted Keurig for being “woke.” Why? Because the main characters are British-Pakistani, and it’s very much a sort of action-fantasy. It’s a fever dream of a film, a ridiculous plot taken completely seriously in the context of the film, and because it does, it works entirely.

Ria Khan (Priya Kansara) is a British teen whose aspiration in life is to become a stunt performer in films. She calls herself “The Fury” and makes videos with the aid of her sister Lena (Ritu Arya), an art school dropout living back at home. While Lena supports her, Ria’s parents Fatima and Rafe (Shobu Kapoor and Jeff Mirza) would prefer a more traditional career and life for her.