My Week in Movies, 2015 Week 42

Sometimes I think of my blog as a means of chronicling my failures, and this week’s post is no different. The fact that I refer to it as “This week’s post” rather than being more specific says it all as to my output lately. It seems I’ve lost my review-writing mojo recently. Whenever I sit down at the keyboard my mind dries up like a sponge in a kiln. I’ve had half a review of Carrie written for French Toast Sunday for weeks, and I’m about a month late for a review of John Wick for Blueprint: Review, not to mention the 12 other films I’ve watched and not reviewed yet.

It doesn’t help how busy I’ve been recently, and how little has gone to plan weekend and evening-wise. Take this past weekend, for example. Yesterday’s scheduled Lambcast was a John Carpenter Director Retrospective. The intention was for myself and my guests to discuss nine of Carpenter’s bigger films, all of which were ones I’d either never seen, wasn’t very familiar with or really wanted to re-watch, so I’d planned to watch them all, which is what most of the rest of this post will cover. Tuesday to Thursday saw me watching one a night, subjecting Aisha to a bunch of films she had negative interest in seeing. On Friday she was supposed to go out for a work meal, meaning I’d have a full evening into which I could cram three of the films she’d want to watch the least (I’d anticipated The Fog, Prince of Darkness and They Live), leaving me three to watch, one Saturday morning, one Saturday evening and a final film on Sunday morning. Alas, whilst Aisha was walking Murphy before I got home from work (she’s blessed with an early finish on Fridays) Murphy ran off, following a runner who refused to stop despite this unfamiliar dog jumping up at him. Coming across a road on the runner’s presumed route Aisha was understandably distraught at the notion that our little fluff-ball might have come a cropper with a car, but fortunately another kind dog-owner had wrangled Murphy onto her lead, called Aisha’s number on his tag and waited for her to arrive. Bless this woman and all she ever does. The whole experience rather put Aisha off an evening out, so we stayed in and watched Big Trouble in Little China instead.

This little kerfuffle obviously put a dash into my Carpenter-viewing schedule, so I attempted to make up for it on Saturday, knocking off two films early in the morning. Problems arose when real life crept in. We were due to have our guest bedroom re-plastered this week. It was supposed to be done late in the week, so Saturday afternoon we prepped the room, removing the furniture, wall-fixings and stripping the wallpaper from the walls and ceiling. Why is there wallpaper on the ceiling? Because the previous inhabitants were lunatics, clearly. Moving the furniture was fine – though the house is now so cluttered that navigating our bedroom now feels like I’m playing a game of minesweeper with my feet – but when I came to detach the radiator the valve nut was painted shut so much that the nut didn’t turn, the downpipe bent and began leaking water. The emergency plumber stopped the leak but didn’t fix the pipe and later it started leaking again with no signs of stopping. a few buckets of water later and it subsided, after we ran out of dry towels, and the next morning we fixed it after a trip to Wickes (all praise Wickes, the church of DIY), but after that ordeal we didn’t get a lot of films watched on Saturday night. Sunday proved just as fruitless, with me just about cramming In the Mouth of Madness in a couple of instalments between radiator fixing and wallpaper stripping before the podcast recording at 5pm. The plasterer got in touch, moving the proposed date  I just about finished stripping the ceiling in time, hastily pieced an intro together and logged onto Skype, only for two of the guests not to show up (with valid reasons, so I won’t name and shame). The only present guest, Aaron from The Code is Zeek, and I decided the best course of action would be to reschedule, so all the rushing was for nought, but at least it gives me a chance to watch the two Carpenter films I hadn’t re-watched yet (They Live and Halloween). It also meant Aisha didn’t have to finish the wallpaper stripping alone, I could help out with dinner and take Murphy for a walk and have more of a relaxing evening after the weekend of stress, so there’s a silver lining to the cloud. Also, I got to phone my Dad (whom I’d called to help out with the leaky radiator, as he is something of a DIY guru, but who was in Wales watching a football match at the time) and say that I’d fixed a problem without his assistance, and that made me really rather happy.

Oh, while I’m at it, I’m going to go ahead and call the time of death for HitchcOctober 2015. Apologies, but it’s not happening this year. I’m too far behind on other things as it is, but next year. There’s always next year. Here’s what I watched this week:
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Big Trouble in Little China

What on Earth is this film doing on the list? It seems enough people voted for it to become the 430th greatest film of all time in Empire’s 2008 poll, but it has nothing going for it. The plot is sketchy, full of holes and relies too much on coincidence, the sets are shoddy and in danger of falling over, the effects are terrible and the script even worse (“Are you ready, Jack?” “I was born ready.”)
The story, as much as there is one, concerns opinionated but dumb brute Jack Burton (Kurt Russell), truck driver of the Pork Chop Express. After meeting up with an old friend in San Francisco’s Chinatown district, he loses his truck and his friend’s fiancé is kidnapped by a mysterious, yet ridiculous, magical Chinese cult.  Burton is, unquestionably, a bit of a dick, only helping to look for her in the hope of finding his truck, and getting the money his friend owes him. They spend the rest of the film looking for her, with the help of Kim Cattrall’s friendly neighbourhood lawyer, who just happens to be in league with a reporter writing an article about the magic. The mythology is inconsistent (as are the characters’ fighting abilities from one scene to the next) and bizarre, and the bad guys look too ridiculous to be taken seriously, flying through the air shooting lightning from their hands, wearing giant comedy lampshades on their heads.
The final confrontation is disappointingly brief, and the freaky ball of floating eyes and Chewbacca/orang-utan/rejected muppet hybrid are unsettling, not to mention almost entirely superfluous to the plot. Maybe, after enough alcohol and a dangerously undercooked kebab this could slip into so-bad-it’s-good territory, but otherwise avoid at all costs.
Choose life 2/10