Monday, October 1, 2007

mini review round-up: the king of kong / moonlight

*the king of kong: a fistful of quarters
i don't want to say too much about this movie, because, as much as i loved it, i worry i'd end up throwing in so many of my favorite moments that this review would turn into a detailed synopsis and then you (all 4 of you who read this) would never bother to see the film.

(not that it's easy to see-- the only theater it's playing at in LA is the $3 place on melrose where emma's sister lisa went to see a movie and had to leave midway because some guy a coupla rows over told the guy behind him to stop talking on his cellphone and the cellphone guy responded with a blast of mase to the complainers eyeballs, and even then lisa only knew about it when some employee came in and said, "everybody out, mase," in a tone that implied whatever, somebody got mased again. but then they let them in again five minutes later, but that's at least $4.50 worth of entertainment right there.)

long story short though, "the king of kong" is a documentary about two men competing for the world's highest score in donkey kong, which, according to the many aspergers-y men in the film, is the hardest of the old school arcade games. one of the guys, billy mitchell, has been a video game champ his whole life, as well as a successful hot sauce entrepreneur and husband to a woman with the fakest tits i've ever seen (and i live in LA). the other is steve wiebe, a talented guy who can't seem to get a break, who gets obsessed with playing donkey kong after getting laid off from his job at boeing.

billy is so cartoonishy douchey that you wouldn't be surprised if he appeared in a cave lair slowly stroking a cat, and steve is such a softy that at one point, despite being a grown man built like a minor league baseball player, he cries on camera. and i don't believe for a second it's just manipulative editing-- so many of the guys in this movie are so ott/on the spectrum that you couldn't make them up if you wanted to. and while i'm stopping myself from detailing any of the action, believe you me, there is action, and humor, and suspense, AND many shout outs to the funspot arcade in weirs beach, nh, which, unbeknownst to me, is the premiere old school arcade in our nation.

(weirs beach is one of my top 3 places in nh-- funspot is on the highway, but there are at least three equally amazing arcades right on the boardwalk, plus a waterslide park, plus fried dough, plus the largest annual meeting of motorcycle enthusiasts on the east coast. bikers AND nerds! AND fried foods. heaven on earth.)

[oh, that's billy, a jug of his hot sauce, and a tie that isn't the american flag (which is rare for him, believe me).]

"king of kong" is like "american movie," one of those documentaries you go to see expecting something ironic and smug that turns out to be totally earnest and engrossing. i would absolutely go to see this movie again, even under threat of mase.

moonlight is that new show on cbs about a vampire PI that is essentially angel except with a different overly-producted hairdo and none of the side-character fixins that made angel bareable (oh, fred, you were taken from us too soon). or that's what i thought until i sat through the first five minutes, where not-angel (don't remember his real name, don't care) is lying in a michael jackson-style freezer, imaging himself being interviewed by some lady, against a black background, cup of coffee in hand (blood and two sugars?), debunking vampire myths-- he doesn't fear crosses or garlic, he's impervious to wooden stakes, daylight makes him sick but not flamey, he sleeps in a freezer instead of a coffin, etc.

and then of course he wakes from his she-charlie rose fantasy to say something like, "i often wish i could just explain myself." i often wish writers wouldn't use such tacky, awkward expository devices, or delude themselves into thinking they can do the modern-day vampire myth better than joss whedon can, but at least moonlight reveals its true colors within the first three minutes, thus saving me many more minutes of sitting through crap.

[photo, l-r: not-wesley, not-cordelia, not-angel, not-first season blonde lady who left to be gay on law & order]

actually, i did stick around for 3 more minutes to see what jason dohring (of VERONICA MOTHERFUCKING MARS) would contribute as vampire #2, and all he did was a watered down version of logan echolls, and by watered down version i mean he played an obnoxious guy whose most interesting feature was his wacky vampiric contact lenses. and again, at least moonlight showed me that it was the writing on V(MF)M, not the (extremely scientologist) actor, that made logan such a great character. so my 8 minutes of moonlight viewing were not a total waste.

but really, what the fuck were the creators of this show thinking, changing up the rules for tv vampires that joss hath established? david greenwalt, co-creator of angel/major honcho on buffy/inventor of the term "hellmouth"/overall rad dude, was working on this show for a while, probably given the job in order to keep him from straight-up suing these fuckers for plagiarism, but i can understand why he quickly bailed. it's not just a matter of joss loyalty, either, at least for me-- the potential for being staked, bursting into flame, or seared with holy water ("it only makes me wet," claims our hero, who would then at least incurr damage to his mortal hair) is what gave angel much of its uniqueness and dramatic tension.

(because there sure as shit couldn't be any real sexual tension, at least until they created a loophole to de-neuter their star, and as i've said many times, angel had more loop holes than most crochet work i've done, except mine involve yarn, not outta-nowhere prophesies or finding holes in established prophesies or flashbacks to ireland in the 1800s were i have to wear a shirt, even tho the vampire to my right (who is actually almost 20 years my senior) does not, because i've gained so much weight over the course of my televisied vampire career and co-vampire remains lithe and bleached despite the fact that he's as old as wilfred brimely.) (and that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call, "a stretch.")

so sans tension, moonlight's really another csi, but our lead detective is an immortal guy who shoots up blood (ok, even high school goths know vampires drink blood, nigga please). n'thenx. i'd rather just watch the "smile time" episode of angel or that V(MF)M from season 1 where logan gives his first righteous beating (to one of the (grown) kids from home improvement-- both of whom cameo!).

maybe some channel (NOT FOX) should just have a battle of the network stars-style show where the network stars are actually actors from beloved cult shows so that people like me can avoiding having to sit through desperate housewives in order to see nathan fillion and can instead get our fix by watching weevil and wesley compete in shotput or something. because i sure as shit won't watch moonlight again. and unlike on angel, that prophesy is rock solid.

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