Monday, July 31, 2017

7 Days in May | Valerian, Underworld, and Hidden Figures

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)



I was a little nervous about Valerian. The trailers looked fantastic and I like the two leads quite a bit, but I'm never sure what I'm going to get from Luc Besson. That's especially true when he's only producing, but he also directed Lucy and I hated that movie. I was getting a similar vibe about Valerian that I did about Jupiter Ascending, another attempt at a bold space opera by unpredictable (in the sense that I can't predict whether I'm going to like any given film of theirs) filmmakers. I enjoy Jupiter Ascending, but it wasn't as cool or cohesive as I'd hoped it would be. And I was concerned that I'd feel the same way about Valerian.

I didn't love Valerian, but I like it quite a bit and it works a lot better than Jupiter Ascending. People seem to be divided on Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as the leads, but I love both those guys. DeHaan was an effective Harry Osborne in Amazing Spider-Man 2 and I'm a huge fan of The Cure for Wellness that also had him in it. I hear the complaints that he's channeling '90s Keanu Reeves and I'm not going to say that it's not true. What I do push back on is that this is a bad thing for a big, fun adventure movie. I'm not as familiar with Delevingne's work, but she brings a lot of personality to Laureline and totally works for me as the soul of this movie.

I agree with the criticism that there isn't a lot of romantic heat between the two leads. That's the film's biggest weakness. There's a big chunk of backstory missing in which Valerian has supposedly turned from a Bond-level womanizer to being ready to settle down in a committed relationship with his current work partner. The movie tells me that this is true and eventually convinces me that Valerian at least believes it to be true, but I never see it or feel it myself. And since I don't quite believe it, I wonder why Laureline does. That's the only thing that keeps me from full-heartedly loving the film, though. The rest is awesome.

It's gorgeous and every scene change brings new ideas and things I've never seen before. It may be the only time that I've ever watched a movie in 2D (always my preference) and thought that I should go back and watch it again in 3D. I want to immerse myself in the world even more.

The movie is also funny and exciting and I love how it's about overcoming fear and selfishness with love and compassion. As I watch it more, I expect that my problems with the central romance will become less important. I may not care whether Valerian and Laureline smooch, but I'm fully on board with their work relationship. They make a great team and I want more.

Underworld: Blood Wars (2017)



I'm a big fan of the Underworld series. Kate Beckinsale is one of my favorite actors anyway, but a big, action-packed soap opera set against a centuries-long war between vampires and werewolves is also totally my bag. One of the problems that the series keeps running into though is major characters played by actors who decide not to return for their roles. The movies have been very creative about working around this (never just killing off these characters, but using them as MacGuffins to build whole movies around), but at some point, the story and I have to face the fact that we're never going to see these characters again. And that's disappointing.

But one thing the series does well is anchoring itself in Beckinsale's Selene. The other characters can come and go, regardless of how important they are, because the story's honest about how their coming and going affects Selene. That's especially true in Blood Wars.

It's easily the weakest entry in the series so far. We've seen all of these politics multiple times before and there are big questions that feel like they should be answered in this film, but aren't. The movie introduces a new group of vampires to the world, though, and they're really cool. And I just generally like spending time with Selene in this world. It's not a great film, but it's good enough for fans.

Hidden Figures (2016)



Trying to get caught up on some movies we missed from the beginning of the year. Hidden Figures is as powerful as everyone says. Simultaneously uplifting and frustrating in exactly the ways that it's trying to be.

What's cool though is that it's also frustrating in some surprising ways. In addition to stories of casual, systemic racism (which are always more powerful to me than the overt, aggressive kind), the movie makes a rather depressing statement about what spurs the white characters towards progress. Since NASA is literally about reaching for the stars and making scientific progress, I guess I expected the movie to depict social progress as some kind of natural result of that.

That's very much not the case though and the film spends quite a bit of time reminding us that the '60s space race was a product of the Cold War. Whatever justice the main characters experience by the end isn't a product of compassion, but fear. It takes the common enemy of the Soviets to motivate the establishment and help it see the value of its non-white allies. Progress is made and that's why Hidden Figures is an encouraging story, but I like that the movie complicates, rather than romanticizes what sparks that change.

One Crazy Summer (1986)



Continuing to introduce David to '80s John Cusack. This one's from the same director as Better Off Dead and it has Demi Moore and Bobcat Goldthwait. It's more even than Better Off Dead and funnier too, in general. I love Better Off Dead, but there are parts that bore me or make me groan. Much less of that in One Crazy Summer and the Godzilla gag - which takes its time to build and then pays off spectacularly - is awesome and hilarious.

Out of Bounds (1986)



I didn't care for this that much in the '80s, but the soundtrack was on regular rotation in my boom box and I wanted to revisit it as long as we're watching a lot of Brat Pack movies.

It's still not so great. Anthony Michael Hall is trying really hard to leave behind his nerd image from Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club. And he succeeds, but at the cost of any humor - or really, humanity - whatsoever. His character Daryl Cage is a deadpanned cipher and it's impossible to like or care about him.

The movie is almost saved by Jenny Wright (Near DarkYoung Guns II) as Dizz. She's a lot of fun, but it's impossible to see why she sticks with Daryl for more than a few seconds. I was invested in seeing her make it through the movie, though.

And the soundtrack is still pretty awesome. Siouxsie and the Banshees actually appear in the movie singing "Cities in Dust" and I think that Out of Bounds was probably my introduction to them. Likewise The Cult, who's "Electric Ocean" gets played. There's some Smiths and Belinda Carlisle in there, too, and Stewart Copeland and Adam Ant team up for the title song. Copeland also does the score and if you like his stuff on the Equalizer TV series, you'll love this.

Managed Money (1934)



Sometime last year I found a DVD of Shirley Temple movies that we picked up somewhere. I started working my way through it and totally saw why the country was so charmed by her. She was cute and precocious and just generally pretty awesome.

A few of the movies were in the series of shorts she did with fellow child actor Junior Coghlan (Billy Batson in the Adventures of Captain Marvel serial). Coghlan was the star of the films, playing a high school kid, and Temple was his little sister. I liked them. At only 20 minutes each, they reminded me of a family sitcom and were actually pretty funny.

Anyway, my DVD set only had three of the four shorts on it for some reason, but Amazon Prime has the last one, so I finally watched that this week. Coghlan and a pal are trying to prospect for gold so that they can afford tuition at a local military school. Temple stows away on the trip and hilarity ensures. It's minor fun, but it's still fun.

My Darling Clementine (1946)



I sort of watched this earlier this year, but needed to come back for a closer look. We covered Tombstone and Wyatt Earp on Hellbent for Letterbox, so I got curious about other versions of the same story. My Darling Clementine is a big one, because John Ford directed it and Henry Fonda plays Wyatt. But I was shocked by how little it has to do with actual events. It's a "highly fictionalized" account of the Tombstone story in the way that The Outlaw is of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett's. Which is to say that it's pretty much just taking the names and doing it's own thing with them. I wanted to watch it again without having the more historically interested films fresh in my mind; just so that I could appreciate it on its own merits.

It still bugs me that these unrecognizable characters have such recognizable names. And I don't really care about Wyatt's interest in Doc Holliday's (Victor Mature) ex-girlfriend Clementine Carter (Cathy Downs). Fonda is pretty dull as Wyatt, actually, and the script doesn't help by delaying his vengeance for an early tragedy way too long. But a couple of things make the movie worthwhile.

One is the gorgeous black-and-white photography by Joe MacDonald. Ford has moved Tombstone to the opposite end of Arizona to take advantage of Monument Valley and MacDonald shoots it wonderfully.

But the other cool thing about the film is Mature as Doc. It's really Doc's movie, down to the title. Wyatt falls in love with Clementine, but he's not the "my." That's Doc, who used to love Clementine before giving up his surgeon's practice (he's no dentist in this version), moving West, and becoming a wreck. Clementine represents all that he's given up while Linda Darnell's saloon gal represents what he's currently settling for. Mature gives a good performance and it's effective if not exactly heart-wrenching.

Overland Riders (1946)



After we covered Tarzan the Fearless for Greystoked, I got interested in seeing some more Buster Crabbe. Especially a Western. This was the first one I could get my hands on, and I'll probably skip watching any others. Crabbe is great in it; he's good-looking and charming and I loved every second that he was on screen. But good-looking, charming cowboys are easy to come by and Crabbe can't save the mediocre script about yet another land-grab by a ruthless rich dude who's just dumb enough to get caught in under an hour.

Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)



It's embarrassing that I've lived this long without seeing Treasure of the Sierra Madre, but that's finally corrected now. Not what I expected.

I keep seeing it on lists of Westerns, but it doesn't belong there. Even if you open the genre to include films like The Lusty Men and Hell or High Water that are set in modern times, those movies are at least interested in the same themes as traditional Westerns. Sierra Madre is doing something totally different, which is to its benefit.

I also hear it described as an adventure film, but that's misleading, too. It has one or two exciting scenes, but it's much more interested in the drama between the three leads as they (to varying degrees) become corrupted by the gold that they're pulling out of the ground. I expected way more shootouts and defending the claim and not nearly so much looking suspicious and talking to yourself.

Which brings me to Humphrey Bogart's character who I assumed would be the hero of film. Heh!

So it subverted my expectations for it in almost every way and I admit that I had to jog a little to keep up. But I did and I like it. In fact, part of the fun was figuring out just what kind of movie I was watching. It's a great script full of memorable, hugely dramatic moments and the actors are all up to making the most of them. Bogart's awesome and draws my attention every time I see him, but Walter Huston is a total scene-stealer and Tim Holt sticks in there and quietly holds his own, too.

Song of the Week: "Everything Now" by Arcade Fire

I was gonna throw on something from Out of Bounds, but I can't stop listening to this song. It's catchy as hell and I love the message.



Friday, July 28, 2017

Mystery Movie Night | Singles (1992), Young Guns II (1990), and Back to the Future (1985)



Lots of cool guests on this one as Dan Taylor and Ron Ankeny (Starmageddon, N3rd World) and Paxton Holley (Nerd Lunch, Cult Film Club, Hellbent for Letterbox) join Dave, David, and I to talk grunge, guns, and gigawatts.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Greystoked | Tarzan the Fearless (1933)



This was an especially fun episode since Noel and I are joined by our mutual friend, writer Christopher Mills (Femme Noir, Gravedigger, Perils on Planet X, and the excellent blog Space: 1970). We also got to talk about a fun movie: the 12-chapter serial, Tarzan the Fearless, starring Buster Crabbe (Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon) and Julie Bishop (The Black Cat). It's also the first Tarzan film by legendary Tarzan producer Sol Lesser. Notice that I didn't say it was a good movie, but it was still fun to watch and even more fun to talk about.



Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Little People: A Fantastic Thread [Guest Post]

By GW Thomas

History has a strange way of inspiring horror writers. In the records of the Romans there is mention of a strange race that lived in the British Isles before the Celts. Their name was simply the Picts, meaning "picture," for they were heavily tattooed. "The Picts of Galloway" supposedly intermingled with the Gaels, but to a writer of terror tales the idea that these people, and others like them, should go underground and become the inspiration for "The Little People" of legend is too tempting.

The first to grab onto the idea of this primitive and secret survival was Welsh writer, Arthur Machen (1863-1947). Machen liked to imagine that under the bucolic green hills of Wales, terrible and evil things lurked. Amongst these were savage creatures that once ruled the world. He wrote three stories about them that appeared in the same year. The first, "The Red Hand" (Chapman’s Magazine, Christmas 1895) has Dyson, Machen's occult detective of sorts, exploring a grisly murder committed with a primitive, prehistoric axe that hints at the creatures who wield it:
‘My dear fellow, I am sorry to say I have completely failed. I have tried every known device in vain. I have even been so officious as to submit it to a friend at the Museum, but he, though a man of prime authority on the subject, tells me he is quite at fault. It must be some wreckage of a vanished race, almost, I think — a fragment of another world than ours. I am not a superstitious man, Dyson, and you know that I have no truck with even the noble delusions, but I confess I yearn to be rid of this small square of blackish stone. Frankly, it has given me an ill week; it seems to me troglodytic and abhorred.’
"The Novel of the Black Seal" (The Three Imposters, 1895) provides another artifact, a black rock with weird writing:
We had dined without candles; the room had slowly grown from twilight to gloom, and the walls and corners were indistinct in the shadow. But from where I sat I looked out into the street; and as I thought of what I would say to Francis, the sky began to flush and shine, as it had done on a well-remembered evening, and in the gap between two dark masses that were houses an awful pageantry of flame appeared—lurid whorls of writhed cloud, and utter depths burning, grey masses like the fume blown from a smoking city, and an evil glory blazing far above shot with tongues of more ardent fire, and below as if there were a deep pool of blood. I looked down to where my brother sat facing me, and the words were shaped on my lips, when I saw his hand resting on the table. Between the thumb and forefinger of the closed hand there was a mark, a small patch about the size of a sixpence, and somewhat of the colour of a bad bruise. Yet, by some sense I cannot define, I knew that what I saw was no bruise at all; oh! if human flesh could burn with flame, and if flame could be black as pitch, such was that before me. Without thought or fashioning of words grey horror shaped within me at the sight, and in an inner cell it was known to be a brand. For the moment the stained sky became dark as midnight, and when the light returned to me I was alone in the silent room, and soon after I heard my brother go out.
In "The Shining Pyramid" (The Unknown World, May 15, 1895), Machen finally gives us a vivid description of the humanoids that worship the Pyramid:
It did, in truth, stir and seethe like an infernal cauldron. The whole of the sides and bottom tossed and writhed with vague and restless forms that passed to and fro without the sound of feet, and gathered thick here and there and seemed to speak to one another in those tones of horrible sibilance, like the hissing of snakes, that he had heard. It was as if the sweet turf and the cleanly earth had suddenly become quickened with some foul writhing growth. Vaughan could not draw back his face, though he felt Dyson's finger touch him, but he peered into the quaking mass and saw faintly that there were things like faces and human limbs, and yet he felt his inmost soul chill with the sure belief that no fellow soul or human thing stirred in all that tossing and hissing host. He looked aghast, choking back sobs of horror, and at length the loathsome forms gathered thickest about some vague object in the middle of the hollow, and the hissing of their speech grew more venomous, and he saw in the uncertain light the abominable limbs, vague and yet too plainly seen, writhe and intertwine, and he thought he heard, very faint, a low human moan striking through the noise of speech that was not of man. At his heart something seemed to whisper ever "the worm of corruption, the worm that dieth not," and grotesquely the image was pictured to his imagination of a piece of putrid offal stirring through and through with bloated and horrible creeping things. The writhing of the dusky limbs continued, they seemed clustered round the dark form in the middle of the hollow, and the sweat dripped and poured off Vaughan's forehead, and fell cold on his hand beneath his face.
HG Wells (1866-1946) needs mention here. He did not use this idea of ancient creatures for he had little interest in the past. He was a futurist. Despite this, one of his stories seems to have influenced later writers in conjunction with the Little People idea. The story in question was "The Time Machine" (National Observer serial, 1894) and his underground dwelling Morlocks.

In Wells' story these white-skinned cannibals are the future of the suppressed proletariat, living in their machine-run depths. Wells is careful to describe the Morlocks only in snatches, making them more mysterious. “A pair of eyes, luminous by reflection against the daylight without, was watching me out of the darkness... I put out my hand and touched something soft. At once the eyes darted sideways, and something white ran past me. I turned with my heart in my mouth, and saw a queer little ape-like figure, its head held down in a peculiar manner, running across the sunlit space...” The man from the present plumbs their dark tunnels and just barely escapes their cold, wicked plans. This image of the man trapped in the dark, armed only with a light and a solid metal bar has fused with Machen's vision of evil survivals.

Robert E Howard (1906-1936) was the writer who really brought these two together, though he was not the last. Howard's first venture into the world of the Little People was an open pastiche of Machen called "The Little People" (Coven 13, January 1970). This early tale, written in the 1920s, suffers from poor mechanics. The hero, tells his sister the lengthy history of the Little People, after perusing a copy of "The Shining People" by Machen. Later these very creatures invade their home where the narrator gives this description:
"Now I was almost upon those who barred my way. I saw plainly the stunted bodies, the gnarled limbs, the beady reptilian eyes that stared unwinkingly, the grotesque, square faces with their inhuman features, and the shimmer of flint daggers in their crooked hands..."
The narrator dives in for a Howard-sized fight, but the creatures find and attack his sister. Only the sudden appearance of a white-bearded druid saves them from the Little People. This tale contains many of the elements that will later appear in the much better constructed tales of Bran Mak Morn and Conan.

"The Children of the Night" (Weird Tales, April/May 1931) sets up several of Howard's themes for his Little People stories, the first being degeneration and the second: reincarnation. One of Conrad and Kirowan's friends, John O'Donnell, has a strange vision while visiting the occult investigators. He sees himself in the past as Aryara of the Sword People, an ancient Celt, who encounters the Little People and falls fighting them. Upon waking, O'Donnell attacks Ketrick, one of the guests, for he has Serpent blood:
But Ketrick: to me the man always seemed strangely alien. It was in his eyes that this difference showed externally. They were a sort of amber, almost yellow, and slightly oblique. At times, when one looked at his face from certain angles, they seemed to slant like a Chinaman’s. Others than I had noticed this feature, so unusual in a man of pure Anglo-Saxon descent. The usual myths ascribing his slanted eyes to some pre-natal influence had been mooted about, and I remember Professor Hendrik Brooler once remarked that Ketrick was undoubtedly an atavism, representing a reversion of type to some dim and distant ancestor of Mongolian blood–a sort of freak reversion, since none of his family showed such traces.
Howard's dated racism can be offensive today, but within the context of the story O'Donnell would prefer any human of any color or creed over the few humans who still carry the taint of the Little People.

Howard would return to his version of the degraded half-breed creatures in several stories, the best of which was "The Worms of the Earth" (Weird Tales, November 1932). To make things even more interesting, Howard has the Picts, dark warriors living under the Roman radar as well as these even earlier creatures that the Picts displaced. Howard's Worms are half-human hybrids with the evil Serpent Men of ancient times, another lost race that once ruled the world. Bran Mak Morn, the king of the Picts, enters the Worms' tunnels (shades of Wells) to steal their sacred relic and force them to do his bidding:
And he came at last into a vast space where he could stand upright. He could not see the roof of the place, but he got an impression of dizzying vastness. The blackness pressed in on all sides and behind him he could see the entrance to the shaft from which he had just emerged--a black well in the darkness. But in front of him a strange grisly radiance glowed about a grim altar built of human skulls. The source of that light he could not determine, but on the altar lay a sullen night-black object--the Black Stone!
Howard wrote of the Worms again in "Valley of the Lost" (Magazine of Horror, Summer 1966), a tale set during the Texas feuds of the 19th Century. Little John Reynolds is fleeing the McCrills when he takes refuge in the valley where the Little People hide. He spies the strange inhabitants:
It was not their dwarfish figures which caused his shudder, nor even the unnaturally made hands and feet–it was their heads. He knew, now, of what race was the skull found by the prospector. Like it, these heads were peaked and malformed, curiously flattened at the sides. There was no sign of ears, as if their organs of hearing, like a serpent’s, were beneath the skin. The noses were like a python’s snout, the mouth and jaws much less human in appearance than his recollection of the skull would have led him to suppose. The eyes were small, glittering and reptilian. The squamous lips writhed back, showing pointed fangs, and John Reynolds felt that their bite would be as deadly as a rattlesnake’s. Garments they wore none, nor did they bear any weapons.
Reynolds flees the weird caverns, blowing up the door that leads to the outer world, then takes his chances against human enemies, his hair now stark white.

"The People of the Dark" (Strange Tales, June 1932) is a rewrite of sorts of "The Little People" with the narrator, John O'Brien, coming to Dagon's Cave to kill Richard Brent, his rival for Eleanor Bland. Howard has the characters thrust back in time using reincarnation as a method to change O'Brien into a Gaelic warrior, Conan of the reavers. Brent becomes Vertorix, a Briton, and Eleanor a Briton girl named Tamera. All three face the Worms, but only Conan survives; Vertorix and Tamera plunging to their deaths rather than succumb. O'Brien wanders the caves, finally making his way out. He encounters one last denizen of the deep, the snaky remains of the Worms in our time:
Before the Children had vanished, the race must have lost all human semblance, living as they did the life of the reptile. This thing was more like a giant serpent than anything else, but it had aborted legs and snaky arms with hooked talons. It crawled on its belly, writhing back mottled lips to bare needlelike fangs, which I felt must drip with venom. It hissed as it reared up its ghastly head on a horribly long neck, while its yellow slanted eyes glittered with all the horror that is spawned in the black lairs under the earth.
O'Brien shoots it with the revolver he had brought to kill Brent. Brent and Eleanor know they are eternal soul mates and O'Brien lets them go for he too now understands.

Karl Edward Wagner would write further of Howard's Worms in Legion From the Shadows (1975). He added little to Howard's vision, but did combine elements from several different stories, having Serpent Men, Worms, and even the Crawler from the Conan stories. His Serpent leader looks thus:
The figure was as tall as Bran, and of skeletal leanness—although little else could be discerned through the voluminous folds of his robes. The arms that protruded from the flaring sleeves were covered with the pallid scales of some ancient serpent, taloned with long, black nails. The skull above the narrow shoulders was curiously flattened at the temples, and rose to a high peak. That peaked, hairless skull was encircled in a golden band, set with sullen gems of murky hue. His ears were pointed, the nose flared and pitted as a viper’s snout, the face little more than a pallid mask of scales tight across an inhuman skull. Bright and pointed fangs made a double row along the grinning jaw. Those yellow ophidian eyes mirrored a soul of elder evil that had looked unblinking across the expanse of centuries.
Thus the Worms once looked before the long road to degeneration. Wagner would create his own race of subterranean dwellers in his story ".220 Swift" (New Terrors, 1980), borrowing the idea partly from Manly Wade Wellman and his Guardians of the Ancients from “Shiver in the Pines” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, February 1955).

Gerald Kersh (1911-68) was a sophisticated writer of weird tales and mainstream novels, but even he ventured into the world of the Little People in "Voices in the Dust" (1950, for Judith Merrill's Shot in the Dark). An adventurer in a future world (after World War III) goes to the dead city of Annan in an area of ash and stones. Here he discovers a race of white-skinned, large eyed people:
...The light paralyzed it: the thing was glued in the shining, white puddle—it had enormous eyes. I fired at it—I mean, I aimed at it and pressed my trigger, but had forgotten to lift my safety-catch. Holding the thing in the flashlight beam, I struck at it with the barrel of the pistol. I was cruel because I was afraid. It squealed, and something cracked. Then I had it by the neck. If it was not a rat it smelled like a rat. Oh-oooo, oh-oooo, oh-oooo! it wailed, and I heard something scuffle outside. Another voice wailed oh-oooo, oh-oooo, oh-oooo! A third voice picked it up. In five seconds, the hot, dark night was full of a most woebegone crying. Five seconds later there was silence, except for the gasping of the cold little creature under my hand.
Kersh gives a long explanation -- we've heard it before -- about how the Picts had been the source of the fairies in places like Wales. The explorer follows the Little People into their subterranean tunnels, like Wells' Time Traveler, but falls and breaks his leg. The people of the dark do not threaten the man but feed him. Unfortunately, their medical skills are so primitive that the man can do nothing but sit in the darkness and wait for death. Kersh takes his inspiration from Machen and Wells, (though probably not Howard) and adds his tale to the history of the Little People. Who will be next?

GW Thomas has appeared in over 400 different books, magazines and ezines including The Writer, Writer's Digest, Black October Magazine and Contact. His website is gwthomas.org. He is editor of Dark Worlds magazine.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Hellbent for Letterbox | The Wild Wild West



I forgot to post about it at the time, but on the most recent Hellbent, Pax and I went deep into the Wild Wild West TV show starring Robert Conrad and Ross Martin. We go through the stars, the villains, our favorite episodes, and just what it was that made the show so awesome.





Then on a special Hitchin' Post episode, we strolled into the two reunion movies and the 1999 film starring Will Smith and Kevin Kline.


Monday, July 24, 2017

7 Days in May | Planet of the Apes and Noir Galore

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)



Wanted to rewatch this and Dawn before seeing War. I'm still amazed by how much this works. Which is to say that it works completely and wonderfully, fully connecting me to its characters regardless of species. And what a great, cathartic finale as everyone gets their comeuppance. In the best Planet of the Apes movies, I should always feel conflicted about where my loyalties are and this is probably the best at accomplishing that in the history of these movies.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)



I still care about the humans in Dawn - especially Keri Russell, Jason Clarke, and Kodi Smit-McPhee - but they're ultimately MacGuffins in the movie's real conflict between Caesar and Koba. It's a brilliant clash of ideologies and what I love most about this trilogy is the battle between compassion and hate. Which leads directly to the third film...

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)



In Dawn, the compassion-hate conflict is between Caesar and Koba, but in War it's within Caesar himself. His conflict with the human Colonel (Woody Harrelson) has led Caesar down a dark path and threatens the beliefs that he holds most dear. War handles this in a beautiful, emotional way and it's a great conclusion to what's easily my favorite science fiction trilogy of all time (at least until the current Star Wars trilogy is done... fingers crossed).

Grease (1978)



Rewatching Back to the Future for an upcoming Mystery Movie Night got me in the mood for something else from the '50s. And this has been on the list for a while since a couple of shots from it are in that great 100 Movies Dance Scenes Mashup video that my family and I can't stop watching.

And it really is all about the music in this one. The story is mostly bunk and I don't like Danny, Sandy, or really any of their friends except Frenchie. The ending is stupid. But dang those are some great songs and I always forget how awesome Olivia Newton-John's voice is.

The Cowboy and the Lady (1938)



Trying to clear out some room on my TiVo. I recorded this on a lark, because there's a John Denver song with the same title and I'm nostalgic for John Denver. That's a dumb reason to watch a movie, but I also like Gary Cooper and Merle Oberon, so what the heck.

I love this movie so much. Oberon plays a wealthy, young woman named Mary Smith whose widowed father is trying to get a Presidential nomination. Mary's not especially troublesome, but she's under especially tight scrutiny, so her dad sends her to the family's house in West Palm Beach to get her away from the New York paparazzi. There she cute-meets a rodeo cowboy named Stretch (Cooper), but she's pretending to be a lady's maid at the time and... well, you've seen a romantic comedy before, so you know how that goes.

There are some modern romcom tropes, but I found that refreshing in a '30s film. And I love that the story is told from Mary's point of view with Stretch being the love interest. The movie also has some nice things to say about the value of people, with both Mary and Stretch needing to adjust their ideas about what kind of people they're interested in.

Five Came Back (1939)



This one popped on my radar because a bunch of people crash in a jungle. And it's very early Lucille Ball and I'm always interested in her serious roles.

I love this one, too. It's sort of a proto-Lost with a varied group of passengers on a downed plane trying to survive until they can rescue themselves. There are three airline personnel, a young couple in love, an elderly couple in grumpiness, a bounty hunter (John Carradine) and his prisoner, a man escorting a young boy for mysterious reasons, and Lucille Ball's character: a beautiful, but ostracized woman.

What's great is that every one of these characters finds themselves challenged and changed by the ordeal in the jungle. Some for the better, and some not so much. As the title spoils, not all of them make it out, but that's a fascinating and touching story, too.

It was remade in 1956 as Back from Eternity with Anita Ekberg and Rod Steiger, so that also just went on my list.

Murder, My Sweet (1944)



I'm a huge fan of The Big Sleep, both the Raymond Chandler novel and the 1946 movie based on it. But I'm enough of a fan of the movie that I haven't been that interested in seeing other actors in the role of Philip Marlowe.

And here's another thing: my love of the novel is all about the mood and the dialogue. Chandler's an awesome writer, but - at least in The Big Sleep - he's not an awesome mystery writer. There are huge dangling plot threads and red herrings that don't make sense. Maybe he fixed that in subsequent books, but I haven't read them yet to find out. If Murder, My Sweet (based on Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely) is faithful to its novel, though - and I understand that it is - I still have concerns. For most of its run time, the story spins around without going anywhere. It relies on all the things I like about Chandler (mood, dialogue, and Marlowe himself) to keep me going, but the central mystery is kind of dull.

Phantom Lady (1944)



After enjoying The Web, I started looking for other Ella Raines movies to watch and this is a big one. She plays another secretary, but this time her boss is the one who's in trouble for murder, not the one trying to cover it up. And she's great in it, but neither her boss nor the story itself deserve her. The villain is easy to deduce as soon as the character is mentioned, but then the movie still confirms it way too early. The villain's motivation is super flimsy, too, and the scheme to cover their tracks is even shakier. This is a classic only because of Raines herself and an unforgettable scene with a ridiculously lewd drum solo.

Frontier Gal (1945)



Before she was Lily Munster, Yvonne De Carlo had a prolific film career. She made a lot of Westerns, so I wanted to check some of them out. I shouldn't have started with Frontier Gal, though, because hoo boy. Her character's unlikability in this movie is only surpassed by her co-star's.

Rod Cameron plays an outlaw who visits a saloon run by De Carlo. He takes a liking to her, but she insults him, so he kisses her against her will. She slaps him, so he kisses her again. She slaps him again, so he kisses her again. Repeat several times until she falls in love. And that sets the tone for the entire movie, which might as well have been called No Means Yes.

I'll watch more De Carlo Westerns, but yikes... this one.

Spellbound (1945)



One of my favorite Hitchcock films, partly because I love its two leads, but it's also a great story that keeps turning into something new. Showed it to David this viewing and he wasn't that interested to begin with. I asked him to give it 15 minutes and then decide if he wanted to keep going. We kept going.

That awesome dream sequence designed by Salvador Dali is a highlight, but it's the central mystery and the plot twists (and Bergman and Peck) that make Spellbound so rewatchable.

Shock (1946)



Phantom Lady wasn't the only movie I watched this week inspired by The Web. I wanted to see some more Vincent Price noir, too, so that's where Shock comes in. Price plays an adulterous psychologist who accidentally kills his wife. Unfortunately, he's seen by a woman (Anabel Shaw) who's already under a lot of mental stress. Watching the murder sends her into a catatonic state. When Price is called in to minister to her, he discovers that she's a witness to his crime. Under pressure from his girlfriend, he realizes that if Shaw never recovers, he's off the hook.

It's not my favorite kind of Price role. He's still great, but he's too much a victim of circumstance and his girlfriend to thoroughly relish his performance. Give me wicked and conniving - or at least charmingly caddish - any day.

Song of the Week: "Seagulls! (Stop It Now)" by Bad Lip Reading

This doesn't just crack me up; it gets stuck in my head for a week and I don't even complain.



Friday, July 21, 2017

Southern Charm | Rodney Crowell, Southern Manners, and Pimento Cheese



In the latest episode of Southern Charm, Jody and I talk about country musician Rodney Crowell, his new album Close Ties, and the interview with him in Texas Monthly. Then the conversation turns to etiquette and the differences between Southern manners and what's considered polite in other parts of the country. Ma'am/Sir, holding doors, handshakes, and eye contact all come up. And finally, we close with Jody's recipe for pimento cheese and I get some homework.

Intro Music: "Kill Jill" by Big Boi, featuring Killer Mike and Jeezy

Outro Music: "Good Enough" by Molly Tuttle

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Nerd Lunch | Star Wars Panel: Ewok Movie Drill Downs



Pax put the Star Wars panel back together this week to cover the two, made-for-TV Ewok movies. I'm glad he did for a couple of reasons. First, we hadn't gotten together since talking about Rogue One and I'm glad not to have to wait until Last Jedi for our next get-together. I love talking Star Wars with this crew.

But also, I'd never seen the Ewok movies and this was the push I needed to finally do that. As I explain on the episode, I missed them when they came out and would have been too old to enjoy them anyway. It was fun to finally see them; especially Battle for Endor, which I liked more than the rest of the group did. It's not a great movie, but I see its charm, especially for people who were kids when it came out. Caravan of Courage is a whole other story, though.

So we talk about that and weird fan theories and where these fall into continuity and Burl Ives and Wilford Brimley and all kinds of other stuff. It's a fun episode.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dragonfly Ripple, Episode 15 - Bone and Alpha Flight


The most recent episode of Dragonfly Ripple is all comics Comics COMICS! Carlin and I start off talking about how we got into collecting comics, what we imagined it would be like to pass our collections on to our kids, and whether or not that's really how it's going. Then Annaliese and David join in to talk about Jeff Smith's Bone and John Byrne's Alpha Flight. In the Jetpack Tiger segment, Dash and Carlin cover The DC Comics Encyclopedia, then we all wrap up with a dinner table discussion in which we create regional superhero teams for Florida and Minnesota.



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Introducing the 'Casting Off podcast



This is gonna have to be the last one, but I needed one more podcast in my life to talk about nautical and island stuff. Movies mostly, but probably some TV shows, books, and comics, too. This one is just David and I, so scheduling will be super easy. It'll still be a monthly show, though.

In the first episode, we talk about the difficulties of choosing a name for the show, our fondness for oceans and islands, and then dive deep into Disney's classic adaptation of the Jules Verne novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Oh, and even though this is the last podcast to squeeze onto my plate, it won't be the last new one you'll hear about. There are a couple of others brewing that haven't been announced yet. I'll have a total of eight.

Monday, July 17, 2017

7 Days in May | Spider-Man vs. Will Smith

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)



Amazing. Spectacular. The ultimate. Web of, even.

I'm not going to call it my favorite Spider-Man movie, because there's some apples-and-oranges going on here. But it's exactly the Spider-Man movie that I needed right now. No origin story and not even any universe building. In fact, it's the opposite of universe-building, because the whole point is to explain why Spider-Man needs his own special corner of the MCU. And I love that the explanation is built on the phrase, "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man." It makes sense, it's what the character needs, and it's exactly where I want to see him go.

Also, what a great, funny, diverse cast of supporting characters. And Michael Keaton is brilliant. Best movie interpretation of a Spider-Man villain so far, and I'm not forgetting about Doctor Octopus.

Collateral Beauty (2016)



I was warned, but wanted to see it anyway. Here's a written review that told me what I was getting into. Here's a whole podcast episode. David Chen of the Slashfilmcast describes it as "morally reprehensible," which I have to admit made me even more curious to see it. Nor was I dissuaded by having the entire story described to me, beat by beat, twist by weird and ill-advised twist.

"Morally reprehensible" is probably too strong, because I'm not as convinced as Chen that the movie endorses the truly abominable behavior of Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, and Michael Peña's characters. But it certainly doesn't punish them for it either and it does seem super ignorant about just how awful they're being. That's the real problem with the movie: it's oblivious to the huge questions - both moral and logical - that it raises.

But great cast and Will Smith in particular is acting his ass off. It's a fascinating film to watch and try to figure out what happened to make it go so horribly, horribly wrong.

Kongo (1932)



This is an adaptation of a 1926 play by the same name, which had already been made into a movie by Tod Browning in 1928 called West of Zanzibar, starring Lon Chaney and Lionel Barrymore. I've seen West of Zanzibar and it's good. Chilling, but good. 1932's Kongo is, too.

Walter Huston (Chaney, in the first adaptation) plays a cruel, truly evil ivory trader who's looking for revenge against an old enemy. His plans have been brewing a long time and involve luring his enemy's daughter (Virginia Bruce) into the jungle with a forged letter supposedly from her father. Once she's in the villain's power, he does horrible things to her both onscreen and off. It's hard to watch, frankly, but then things get interesting when a doctor (Conrad Nagel) - outcast from society presumably because he's an alcoholic - shows up. He wants to help the woman, but is challenged by his own weaknesses as well as her hopelessness and lack of cooperation. And then there are revelations that turn the whole thing upside down and introduce all new threats.

It's dark stuff, but crazy compelling. It covers some of the same themes as Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, but I like it way more.

The Narrow Corner (1933)



Based on a novel by W Somerset Maugham, who was a popular writer of the '20s and '30s. He specialized in melodramas set on tropical islands, particularly ones about British people trying to adjust to island life. He was one of Ian Fleming's favorite authors and "Quantum of Solace" is an homage to Maugham's stuff.

I liked The Narrow Corner well enough. Douglas Fairbanks Jr is a handsome dude and looks great tooling around in island wear. Patricia Ellis is super cute, too, and I liked them as a couple. I wasn't totally invested in the shenanigans going on around them - conspiring to keep them apart - but the setting is great and well-photographed and there are some cool special effects involved in getting a boat over a dangerous reef.

Jam of the Week: "After the Disco" by Broken Bells

Hard to pick one song - of even a few songs - from Broken Bells' After the Disco album that I like better than the others. Usually after listening to a record this many times, I've whittled down the playlist to a handful that I still want to hear over and over again, but with After the Disco it's still the whole album. The title track is representative, though. Deeply infectious and pleasant pop.



Monday, July 10, 2017

7 Days in May | Nocturnal Animals and Rules Don't Apply

Nocturnal Animals (2016)



I was on a Movie Year in Review panel at CONvergence last weekend and a couple of movies came up that I had similar reactions to. One was Nocturnal Animals and the other was Hail, Caesar. I didn't like Hail, Caesar as much as I expected to and that's because the trailers for it led me to believe that it was going to be a crazy kidnapping movie instead of just a quirky series of vignettes loosely tied together by some common characters. I suspect that when I get around to watching it again, I'll like it better the second time.

The marketing for Nocturnal Animals was similarly misleading. The trailer makes it look like a thriller in which Amy Adams receives a draft of her ex-husband's (Jake Gyllenhaal) novel and suspects from reading it that he's out to kill her. She does receive the draft and it does effect her deeply, but I kept waiting for the part where her ex turns murderous and it never happens. That's not even a spoiler, because that's not what this movie is. What it is is cool and beautiful and personal and haunting. Get past the weird-for-its-own-sake opening credits and the rest of the film is pretty great with some really effective performances by Adams, Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

Rules Don't Apply (2016)



Rules Don't Apply is another one that defied expectations, but not as successfully for me. IMDb describes it as an "unconventional love story" and that's sort of accurate, but whatever image that put in my head, it was more fun than what the movie actually is. The romance between Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich simmers a super long time before anyone does anything about it. I found that very realistic, as I also did the problems that popped up to keep them apart after they admitted that they liked each other. That makes their relationship a compelling drama, but it's also rather somber.

Alongside of that is the film's examination of Howard Hughes. Warren Beatty is great in the role and I can see why he picked this as a subject to write about and direct. He boils everything down to Daddy Issues, which feels overly simplistic, but then uses that - and Hughes' relationship with the other two leads - to make a beautiful comment on aging and parenthood. He's not at all subtle about it though, so while I like a lot of what the movie's doing, I don't love the way it does it.

The Sure Thing (1985)



Marketing seems to be a theme this week. The people in charge of getting you to go see The Sure Thing sure wanted you to think that it was a sex comedy like Porky's or Hardbodies. Not remembering details about it, I was a little nervous showing it to David, but my memory was that it wasn't that raunchy. And since we recently watched Better Off Dead, I wanted to revisit some other, early John Cusack.

Sure enough, it's a sweet (and really good) romantic comedy like you might expect from the guy who went on to direct When Harry Met Sally. It's not as zany as some of Cusack's other movies from the same era like Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer, or Hot Pursuit, but it fits well somewhere between those and Say Anything. Cusack is hilarious in it and Daphne Zuniga is fantastic. I don't know why she didn't become a bigger star than she did, but I'm going to blame Mel Brooks.

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)



There are some jokes in Beverly Hills Cop that wouldn't get told today, but I'm shocked by how well it holds up otherwise. Eddie Murphy is at his funniest, the relationships are sweet, and I like the questions it raises about Right vs. Proper. Also: Bronson Pinchot being way funnier than he ever was in Perfect Strangers.

Aliens (1986)



Hey, between this and Beverly Hills Cop we had ourselves a little unintentional Paul Reiser film festival. I love this movie so much. It's perfect. Even better than the first one.

And I know there's growing appreciation for the third one among fans, but I'll never forgive it for the way it unceremoniously dumps the characters I love so much from this one. I'm going to wait a while before seeing if David wants to watch it. I'm in no hurry. (Though I would like to get through it and move on to Resurrection, because I love most of that movie up to the last ten minutes or so.)

Jam of the Week: "My First Rodeo" by Whitney Rose

Some rockin' country.



Friday, July 07, 2017

This Weekend is CONvergence. Here's my schedule.



The Twin Cities' big science fiction/fantasy convention, CONvergence, is this weekend. I had such a good time getting my feet wet last year, so I'm back this year on some more panels. I'm on fewer than last time, but I'm moderating all of them. Here's my schedule, so I hope you'll come see me!

Saturday, July 8

2:00pm - Movie Year in Review (DoubleTree Bloomington)
Panelists: Alex Musial, Matt Gamble, Michael May (mod), Norman Cates, Melissa Kaercher
From indie darlings to foreign films to big-budget blockbusters, let's discuss everything from the last year of film.

3:30pm - Dungeon Apprentice: How to be a Great Dungeon Master (DoubleTree Plaza 3)
Panelists: Brian Casey, Michael May (mod), Kenneth Justiniano, Nat Morse-Noland, Kristin Daley
Ever wanted to run your own D&D game but never dared take on the role of Dungeon Master? Experienced dungeon masters will provide beginner tips for hosting a great night of D&D and share their stories of how and why certain campaigns went terribly wrong.

Sunday, July 9

9:30am - Parenting in Troubled Times (DoubleTree Plaza 3)
Panelists: Anj Olsen, Vetnita Anderson, Michael May (mod), Peter Larsen, Katarina Larsen
Our world seems beset by unsolvable problems and unwinnable battles, from Global Climate Change to the rise of Fascism. How can we, as parents, raise socially aware children without passing along our fears and worries to the next generation?

3:30pm - Aging Poorly: Pop Culture and the Test of Time (DoubleTree Atrium 6)
Panelists: Kevin Eldridge, Rick Ellis, Dana Baird, Michael May (mod), AlysshaRose Jordan
Is Seinfeld as funny as you remember? Is The Dark Crystal really that good or is it just the nostalgia talking? Why do The Beatles persist while Falco falters? What makes something timeless and how can today's pop culture avoid aging poorly?

Monday, July 03, 2017

7 Days in May | More Hughes and Cruise

Weird Science (1985)



It had been a while since I'd seen Weird Science and I wasn't sure how I was going to like a movie about a couple of teenage boys who create their own woman to do whatever they want with. And there's some weirdness about it, to be sure. It's a total nerd fantasy, so even when Lisa isn't doing the boys' exact bidding, she's still acting in their best interest: trying to improve their lives by boosting their confidence.

Taken for what it is, though, it's still very funny and even sweet. Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith are loveable nerds who aren't as socially awkward as they are just unpopular. They like technology and aren't that good at sports, so kids at school don't like or know what to do with them. The boys have accepted this, so the movie is about Lisa's helping them get past it.

Bill Paxton has a great role as Mitchell-Smith's obnoxious older brother and Robert Downey Jr is one of the bullies who ruthlessly taunts the leads. It's a fun movie with a lot of imagination, and David - who is exactly the target audience of early teenaged boy - enjoyed it a lot.

Pretty in Pink (1986)



I'm moderating a panel this weekend (more on that later) about the concept of "timeless" art, so it's been a topic of conversation around the house and on Facebook lately. The John Hughes movies are especially appropriate to look at in that context. Breakfast Club feels timeless to me. Sixteen Candles feels very dated. And it's not about fashions or music.

Pretty in Pink is another one that doesn't feel timeless, though for different reasons than Sixteen Candles. It's not offensive to modern cultural mores, but there's something off about it and it's been off since 1986. So much so that John Hughes basically rewrote it with Some Kind of Wonderful.

I've always had a hard time identifying what it is that I don't like about Pretty in Pink, because there's so much more about it that I love. Molly Ringwald brings her usual earnestness and sincerity to Andie and I always like that about her characters. I identified with Jon Cryer's Duckie more than I'm comfortable admitting, but I love that he never plays the Nice Guy card by using his loyalty to Andie to shame her into liking him back. Oh sure, he gets pissed at her and behaves badly, but it's clear to me that he's doing it because he wants what's best for her and thinks she's making a huge mistake; not just because he's jealous.

Annie Potts is awesome as Iona, but easily my favorite character in the movie is James Spader's Steff. He's such an irredeemable cad, but I love that about him and I totally understand why he's popular. With most "popular bully" characters in teen movies, I don't get why people like them other than that they're just rich or skilled at sports. But Steff has an easy-going charm that pulls me in and even though he's evil underneath, there's also an element of humanity that sometimes peeks through. Spader's one of my favorite actors and that starts right here.

Andrew McCarthy I can take or leave, but he's perfect for the role he's given. Like in Mannequin, he just has to look pleasant and sincere. It's around his character Blane that the movie doesn't quite work, though. The conflict between his feelings for Andie and his loyalty to his friends is fine. But his redemption at the end is lame. To begin with, it's stupid that she has to show up at the prom by herself in order for him to apologize. If she hadn't done that, I assume that he would never have had the guts to fix things himself and that they'd have stayed apart. And then his weird apology is ruined by his claim that Andie didn't believe in him, either. It's possible that he's technically correct, but that's the wrong time to bring that up and tries to lay the blame on her when he's clearly the one who broke the relationship. I like Blane and I like that Duckie isn't rewarded for his obsession, but I like Blane less at the exact moment that I'm supposed to be excited that he and Andie have worked things out.

Better Off Dead (1985)



David's known about "I want my two dollars!" his entire life, but we just now got around to seeing the movie that that comes from. Better Off Dead throws a lot of jokes around, so not all of them work, but most of them do and are still funny all these years later. Just a lot of goofy fun.

Legend (1985)



Went back a little further in time for the next movies in our Cruiseathon. I often hear Legend as the punchline to jokes about bad '80s fantasy, but that's ridiculous. It's an awesome, gorgeous movie with a masterful performance by Tim Curry and a killer soundtrack by Tangerine Dream (with great, additional songs by Bryan Ferry and Yes' Jon Anderson). It's totally off model for Tom Cruise, but that's part of the fun. And I'll never complain about Mia Sara being in anything. Also: extremely quotable.

Top Gun (1986)



I don't know that this holds up quite as well for me, but it's still big, dumb fun. I get a little bored with the overwrought emotions, but the humor, dogfights, and volleyball are always worth revisiting.

Alien (1979)



Alien: Covenant gave me a reason to finally share the Alien movies with David. He’s known about them since like second or third grade, because a friend of his was all about Aliens and Predators, so he and David would play AvP during recess. Eventually - I don’t remember how many years later - I decided that David could handle the PG-13 movie from 2004 and he liked it quite a bit. But it only took about 10 minutes of AvP: Requiem to figure out that I was pushing him too fast. I mean, really no one should be made to watch Requiem, but it was especially inappropriate for whatever age David was at the time. We let the series sit for a few years.

The main thing that was concerning to David was the face-huggers. He can handle gore, but he has a real phobia about anything that attaches to or burrows into your body. Covenant got him interested in seeing Prometheus, though, so we did that and he handled it well. Even the part where a snake-like creatures crawls down a dude's throat. He hasn't seen Covenant yet, but we decided to go back and watch the original first. Which I think is best, because part of what's cool about Alien is knowing nothing about what these creatures are or where they come from. He had to leave the room right before John Hurt looks in that egg, but he loved the rest of it. As do I.

A Room with a View (1985)



John Hughes and Early Tom Cruise marathons have inspired me to revisit other of my favorite '80s movies with David. A Room with a View was too big a tonal shift for him to fully enjoy, but I was reminded of how much I love it. And it was something I was going to rewatch anyway, since I finally read the novel this Spring.

Room with a View not only started me on a major Helena Bonham Carter crush (and maybe a smaller one on Rupert Graves as well), it also launched my interest in period films in general; a genre that I still love to this day.

Diane asked me why I love it so much (besides Helena Bonham Carter, whom she totally knows about). I think it has something to do with my being able to relate to repressed British people who are desperate to drop convention and let themselves be themselves.

Zorro (1957-61)



Season Two of Zorro ended in 1959, but Walt Disney kept Guy Williams on salary and made four more episodes (hour-long this time) to run on the anthology series Walt Disney Presents. The first two ran in Autumn 1960 and formed a single story about a group of Mexican bandits who show up in Los Angeles to challenge Zorro's supremacy as local outlaw.

The next episode ran in January 1961, featuring Annette Funicello, who was back as a different character: a family friend of Diego's who's trying to elope with the wrong fella. And saving the best for last, an April 1961 episode had Ricardo Montalban and Wild Wild West's wonderful Ross Martin as a pair of scoundrels who know enough about Diego's past to suspect that he's Zorro. It's a great finale and makes me wish that there'd been a whole series just about those two characters.

Jam of the Week: "Secret" by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

In honor of Pretty in Pink. I love "If You Leave," but "Secret" was the first OMD song I ever heard and it made me an instant fan. I said that I identified with Duckie; I identified with this song for the same reason.




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