Jacob Tremblay is … SHUT IN! And here’s the trailer!


I was really impressed by Jacob Tremblay’s performance in Room and I thought he totally deserved, at the very least, an Oscar nomination.  I also found myself wondering if he would ever appear in another film or if he would be one of those child actors who gives one great performance and then pretty much vanishes.

(I have to admit that I was actually kind of worried for him, while watching him have the time of his life at the Oscars earlier this year.  Nobody wants to see this talented kid turn into another Jake Lloyd or Haley Joel Osment.)

Well, Jacob Tremblay does have a new film coming out.  Shut In appears to be a psychological horror film and, again, it appears that Tremblay is being held prisoner.  This time, his captor is played by Naomi Watts.

Watch the trailer below!

Music Video of the Day: I Know What Boys Like by The Waitresses (1982, dir. Ken Walz)


Seeing as the last two music videos we did were quite serious–Jeremy by Pearl Jam and Runaway Train by Soul Asylum–I thought we’d go with one that is just fun. I am not really going to talk about it except to bring up one sad thing and the director.

The sad thing is that this video starts with lead singer Patty Donahue smoking. What is sad about that is she died of cancer on December 9th, 1996. I don’t know if it was lung cancer or not, but it is a shame that her wonderful deadpan vocal delivery is no longer with us.

The director of the video is Ken Walz. He did several music videos in various positions including writing, producing, and directing Girls Just Wanna Have Fun for Cyndi Lauper. He also directed Time After Time for Lauper.

Just enjoy it.

Stranger Things: The Weirdo On Maple Street S1 E2, ALT Title: I’m a really shitty friend. – Nancy


stranger things titles

I will be honest- this is not my favorite episode in the series.  We don’t see the monster until the last act and it’s more like a setup for episode 3.  However, it should be noted that a B-rating for Stranger Things is like an A-rating for any other show.

The cold open begins with a still soaking wet El on Mike’s basement couch.  The boys aren’t sure what to do with El. Then again, given the boys we’re talking about, it’s pretty clear that they wouldn’t know what to do with any girl.  There’s a very good showing not telling moment in this scene: Mike offers El some clothes and she attempts to disrobe in front of all of them, revealing her lack of any socialization. Lucas continues to emote that this is total bullshit. SIDE NOTE: I feel pretty bad for Lucas; he’s the only one of the group that wants to live in Rationality Land. Every minute Lucas spends with his friends he must think: “I live in the f#cking suburbs and THESE are my friends?! FML!!!” El again shows her tattoo as her name, which gives me the worst creeps every time as it is so tied to the holocaust and how El was indubitably thought of and treated by Evil Modine.

Roll Credits.

Joyce is going slowly crazy in her casa of poverty.  Hop arrives and notices immediately the burn marks on her phone.  He’s been up all night looking for a son whose discovery would, in some small way, relieve the pang he feels for his daughter’s death. Joyce insists that Will called her.  Hop doesn’t believe her because she only heard breathing.  Hop remains unconvinced, causing Joyce to lash out – “Don’t you think I’d know my son’s breathing, wouldn’t you know your daughter’s?!” In this moment, we watch Hop’s heart die a little.  Creeper goes up to Hop outside because he wants to question his dad with Hop.  With a not so soft punch to the chest, Hop refuses him.

Back at Mike’s house of psychics and valedictorians who are aroused by bathrooms, Mike is trying to explain how he will reveal her to his parents.  He explains what he believes is the clear path forward, but El listens politely and says – NO.  She makes a finger gun maneuver to show that if he tells, they all will die.

We cut to Evil Modine; he learns that the Monster is in Hawkins.  His lack of emotion is chilling.  I wonder what GS Level sociopaths achieve in the Federal Government? Do they start out as an 11 or just go straight to 14?

Cut to Hawkins High School, where Nancy continues to be a Toxic Friend to Barb. Then, Barb gets shit on by everyone nearby.  Poor Barb.  Steve and his henchmen plan a pool party where Barb gets to be both a driver for Nancy and a fifth wheel. Nancy, you really suck.  The cool kids see Will’s brother Creeper hang up missing poster creepily. Nancy tries to console him before it gets all awkward and stuff.  Then, Creeper leaves and goes on a roadtrip to see his shitbag father.

We cut to Lucas getting further exasperated by his friends who want to harbor a whacko. Lucas must be downing two pepto bismol bottles a day at this point!

Creeper drives to his Dad’s place and flashes to a time he listened to The Clash with Will.

Joyce goes to work.  This is where we meet Donald.  Donald is a Huge Dick.  Joyce needs an advance, a phone, and some smokes.  He parts with the needed requests like Joyce is a heroin addict trying to steal from the till.  Before we hate on Donald too much, last night his wife told me to say hi to everyone- Take that Donald!!! 

Evil modine and his henchmen go to Will’s house and find oozey monster stuff in the shed where Will was taken.

We cut to Mike’s house.  Mike is playing hookey and managing to bore to death a girl who has been a putative prisoner for her entire life.  Mike …. Buddy, I get that long-planned D&D scenarios and AV Club membership hasn’t adequately prepared you to talk to girls, but there are some opportunities for growth here.  Face it, if a girl who’s only been around Evil Modine is bored by you, maybe you should reflect a little on your life-choices and hobbies? Just saying.  El ignores Mike’s blabbering and walks like “Lamb” in the film “Witness” to point to Will.  Mike realizes that she has seen Will and might know where he is.  The scene in Witness:

 

Witness– Great Film, see it!  Mike’s mom comes up to check on him.  Mike needs to hide El from his Mom and puts El in a closet, causing a horrific flashback where she was tortured by being put in isolation by Evil Modine whom she called Papa – Evil Modine, you suck.  After this scene, it should be clear to everyone that Stranger Things is as much like E.T. as Hostel is to Rick Steve’s Europe on PBS.

We cut to Hop who is called to the Diner where he finds Burly Diner owner is dead. We also find out that he was Hop’s friend.  Poor Hop.

Creeper arrives at House of Shitbag Dad.  Shitbag Dad is everything you’d expect: he has a floosy strung out girlfriend, a washed out face, blames everyone else for his misfortune, and judges everyone because they aren’t “Real”. Will’s not there either.

We return to Mike’s bedroom.  The guys are all there and arguing over what to do about El. Lucas is ignored … again for trying to speak some reason to his idiot friends.  Lucas is about to tell the grownups everything and opens Mike’s bedroom. Bad idea- El puts on her serious face and uses her Carrie/Akira powers and slams it shut, not once, but twice. El’s nose is bleeding from her Carrie/Akira mojo exertion. Poor Lucas.

Hop interviews a local who was close to the Late Burly Diner Owner.  The Local remembers a kid with a crewcut, giving Hop a glimmer of hope.  Another search party has slight success because the Sheriff is guided by Mr. Clark to a shred of clothing, which they believe is Will’s. The camera pulls to a great shot of the evil government building angled up to give it a look of …. you guessed it- an evil castle. BOOM!

We go the House of Steve.  He chugs a beer and it really arouses Nancy.  But how? There’s not a single toilet outside!!!

Hop is now at home in bed next to a random lady.  He goes out into the cold and reflects on how his life and town have gone to total shit. Poor Hop.

We’re back to Mike’s house where El takes the boys to the tabletop board and turns it over to the black side of the board to convey that this is where Will is.  He is in the black, but he’s not alone.  She takes out the Demagorgon action figure and puts it next to Will.  Poor Will.

Creeper is out in the woods looking around.  He hears a scream.  Creeper investigates and discovers that teenagers are having a pool party.  Creeper does the natural thing and furtively takes secret candids of Steve, Nancy, Barb, and the rest.  We can only hope Creeper kept his pants on the entire time.  I’m certain Creeper’s conduct will get you the Death Penalty in Indiana. In the future, Creeper changes his name to Mike Pence and pursued a career in politics. Barb tries to fit in by shotgunning a beer and cuts herself. Poor Barb; Creeper takes photos of that too.

Back to Joyce’s house.  Joyce gets a call and it burns through the phone again- Donald is going to have a shit! The lights flicker and The Clash comes on – Good Cuckoo Clock moment!!!  Cuckoo clock- if you’re going to mention something unique in a story, it needs to payoff or have meaning later in the narrative that moves the story forward.  The lights begin to flash on and off and she feels the presence of her lost son, but another presence manifests – an evil one- and it nearly pushes through his bedroom wall like a stretching condom.

Back to  Steve’s house.  Everyone except for Barb ends up jumping into a pool to lame 80s generic rock.  Barb gets ditched by Nancy so that she can can have relations with Steve. Creeper takes more pictures, including one of Nancy undressing.  You just know that Creeper will end up being arrested on a Japanese Subway one day.  Creeper takes some more photos of Barb sitting on a diving board.  He’s out of film and must wind the camera with his full attention, thereby, missing a greatest scene of the episode.  Barb’s wound drips blood in the water.  Yes, blood! We see a brief shot of the Monster’s evil face before it takes her into the abyss.

Remember, you read it here first!  The monster hunts at night, for blood, and takes his victims back to his lair like a …… you guessed it – A Vampire!!!

The episode concludes with Barb getting rescued and Nancy getting chlamydia. No such luck.  Poor Barb is gone into the Monster Zone and Nancy is having fun.

barb-pooling

Thanks again, Gentle Reader.  If you liked this review, please like it, retweet it, and tell Lisa Bowman!

Back to School Part II #15: Joy of Sex (dir by Martha Coolidge)


Joy_of_Sex_Movie_Poster

Let’s say one positive thing about the 1984 “comedy” Joy of Sex.

The tag line on the poster: “Somewhere between virginity and senility, lies paradise,” is brilliant.  Whoever came up with it deserves a lot of credit because it sounds a lot better than anything that’s actually heard in the movie.

Let’s say something else good at Joy of Sex.  The two stars of the movie — Cameron Dye and Michelle Meyrink — both gave good and likable performances, even if their characters got a little bit annoying at times.  (Then again, just about everyone in Joy of Sex gets annoying.)  Also, there’s a subplot about an undercover cop (played by Colleen Camp) that predates 21 Jump Street and which occasionally shows off a few hints of genuine wit.

Otherwise, this is probably one of the worst of the 80s teen comedies that I’ll be reviewing for this series of Back to School reviews.  Joy of Sex is officially credited as being an adaptation of a sex manual that was popular back in the 70s.  According to the imdb and Wikipedia, Joy of Sex went through a rather tortured development.  At one point, it was going to be an anthology film, starring John Belushi and co-produced by National Lampoon.  However, Belushi died of a drug overdose, National Lampoon abandoned the project, and the final film turned out to be another high school film.  Imagine Fast Time At Ridgemont High … but really, really bad.

Leslie Hindenberg (Michelle Meyrink) is a student at Richard Nixon High School.  She’s the daughter of the school’s phys ed coach (Christopher Lloyd, playing what was probably meant to be the Belushi role) and, as a result, she is viewed as being untouchable, even by the sex-crazed boys of Nixon High.  The problem is that Leslie has recently discovered a mole on chest and is convinced that she has skin cancer.  Believing that she only has 6 weeks to live, Leslie sets out on a mission to lose his virginity.  However, she wants to lose it to the perfect guy and there aren’t many of those at her school.  (Can you really afford to be picky when you’ve only got 6 weeks to live?)  Add to that, everyone’s terrified of the coach…

Leslie’s lab partner is Alan (Cameron Dye), who is a nice guy.  He not only has a huge crush on Leslie but he’s also desperate to lose his virginity as well!  Problem solved, right?  Well, no.  See, Alan has been led astray by the new girl in school.  Liz (Colleen Camp) is tough, outspoken, and no-nonsense.  As soon as she shows up in school, she lets everyone know that she’s obsessed with two things — sex and drugs.  In fact, she’s especially interested in drugs…

A lot of students, of course, are suspicious of Liz.  She seems to be older than everyone else and speak in out-of-date slang.  “Could she be a narc?” some students wonder.  Well, actually, she is.  She is working undercover at Nixon High and is convinced that Alan knows who is supplying drugs to all of the students.  And, it must be said, that Colleen Camp really throws herself into the role.  As happens with most of the film’s subplots, the undercover narc storyline doesn’t really go anywhere but at least Camp made the effort.

Meanwhile, Leslie’s best friend has been kicked out of school because she’s pregnant.  Leslie approaches a local reporter, hoping to convince him to do a story about what’s happened.  And, while getting her best friend back into school, Leslie starts to wonder if maybe she’s found the right man to take her virginity…

(But wait!  We know she’s meant to be with Alan!  So, surely, the reporter will turn out to be a sleaze, right?)

But that’s not all!  Someone is running around the school and using superglue to play pranks.  Who could it be?  Will the crazy principle (Ernie Hudson) be able to maintain order until the big dance?  And will the portrayal of the school’s frequently confused foreign exchange student manage to get any more racist?

And what about Tom Pittman (Robert Prescott)?  Pittman is the most popular guy in school.  Pittman doesn’t really do a lot.  To make an undeserved comparison to Animal House, he’s kind of the Bluto character, just not as interesting.  Whereas Bluto smashed guitars and beer cans and gave inspiration speeches, Pittman tries to light his farts on fire and is something of a bully.  (There is a kinda funny scene where he’s suddenly nice to Leslie and everyone’s shocked.)  The most memorable thing about Pittman is that he wears thick black glasses which are held together by tape.  So, if nothing else, Joy of Sex is important chapter in the history of myopia in film.

Anyway, Joy of Sex has remarkably little joy and next to no sex.  I imagine that were riots in the theaters after this movie came out, as thousands of angry teenagers chanted, “We want joy!  We want sex!  When do we want them!?  NOW!”

There were a lot of great teen films released in the 80s.  Joy of Sex is not one of them.

Music Video of the Day: Jeremy by Pearl Jam (1992, dir. Mark Pellington)


Might as well do this music video now. There’s no “good” time to do it. I never thought too much about the music video till now. It’s montage/collage shots of a kid who obviously has a very unhappy life played by Trevor Wilson. Eddie Vedder stands around as the narrator for the boy’s story. Finally, we have the ending where the kid goes and kills himself in front of the class as clearly shown by the kids holding up their arms to protect themselves from the splashes of blood.

That is what the video is about, but not what some people think it is about. Some people think it is about a kid who brought a gun to school, then shot his fellow students. Others have even tried to use this video as a scapegoat for their actions. I remember once reading about some people who were blaming their actions on The Matrix. Might as well give it a try. People sure ate it up in the 80s when people would blame Satan and Heavy Metal. So why not blame this music video for your actions? I won’t link to it here, but I have come across a site in the past that even though it acknowledges what Ozzy Osbourne’s song Suicide Solution is actually about, they still say they are sure kids have killed themselves a result.

Based on the Wikipedia article on this video, a lot of this nonsense seems to stem from real world school shootings. Enough. The song is about a kid who is so tortured by his life and the people around him that he sadly does what some people do. He kills himself, and in his case, does it in a manner that leaves a message for others. In the case of the story in this music video, it’s killing himself in front of all the kids who made fun of him while his home life was a personal hell, which the song talks about. In particular, the line about cleaning it from the blackboard. I have a feeling more people need to see Frederick Wiseman’s 1968 documentary called High School.

However, you can’t completely blame this on people misunderstanding the music video. The music video came in two stages. They filmed a prototype-like version of it before deciding to film the one above. Well, sort of the version above. The second version they filmed edited out the kid putting the gun in his mouth to commit suicide because of censorship restrictions. That’s why people looked at the kids afterwards and thought it represented them having been killed. Thanks, MTV!

With that out of the way, let me just say that I never particularly liked the music video. I love the song, but just like Smells Like Teen Spirit, it became annoying because it was overplayed. The music video has always been an example to me of why Pearl Jam shouldn’t have been making music videos at the time. Eddie Vedder looks ridiculous while trying to convey some very serious material. Still, it is another essential of the early 90s. It is devastating and heartbreaking. It is also a prime example of how editing–forced or not–without thinking can have serious consequences. It is also a prime example of how censorship can completely transform a work of art into something else for a portion of its’ audience.