Saturday, February 13, 2016

Mock Squid Soup: March 2016 Blog List

MOCK! and The Armchair Squid are proud to present Mock Squid Soup: A Film Society!

Next meeting is Friday, March 11th.  As announced last month, the plan for this month is for each participant to pick someone else's movie from our ever-growing society library.  I maintain a list of those movies here, also to be found on my page list as "Mock Squid Soup Film Library."

The signup list:




Friday, February 12, 2016

Mock Squid Soup: That Thing You Do!

MOCK! and The Armchair Squid are proud to welcome you to Mock Squid Soup: A Film Society, meetings on the second Friday of each month.  Last week, society members posted three clues as to their chosen film for the month.  Today is the big reveal.  A reminder on my clues:

- The writer/director is one of Hollywood's all-time superstar actors.  He appears in the film, though in a supporting role.  Interestingly, the actual male lead is a dead ringer for a younger version of the megastar and was nearly passed over for the part as a result.  However, the two are not related.

- The female lead is the daughter of rock 'n' roll royalty.

- The film is the only one I know of that takes place, at least in part, in northwest Pennsylvania.

Drum roll please...

Title: That Thing You Do!
Director: Tom Hanks
Original Release: 1996
My Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5
via Wikipedia
That Thing You Do! tells the tale of a one-hit wonder band from Erie, Pennsylvania who take the country by storm during one mid-'60s summer.   It's a bit like an inspiring sports story in light-hearted, musical form.  Or perhaps it's The Commitments, gone over with a washcloth.  Whatever it is, it's adorable.

The hero is Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott, the Tom Hanks double), a genuinely talented drummer stuck working for his dad at the local home appliance store.  One day, a pal recruits him to sit in with his band for a talent show.  Guy surprises his new mates by upping the tempo at the performance and the magic begins.  First, a vagabond agent discovers the act, then a Hollywood record label represented by Mr. White (Hanks).  The band tours state fairs en route to LA.  As happens in life, some relationships develop while others suffer.

Liv Tyler (daughter of Aerosmith frontman Steve) is Faye, the lead singer Jimmy's girlfriend.  Ms. Tyler's film performances are uneven in my experience.  She flourishes with great material (see Lord of the Rings) but lacks the talent to carry a movie on her own.  Faye is a good role for her.  She and Scott have wonderful chemistry, essential to the successful execution of the plot.  She has a monologue towards the end in a consequential moment with Jimmy that is, frankly, painful.  It's the big clunker line in an otherwise well-written screenplay, not entirely unlike Andie MacDowell's "Is it raining?" disaster in Four Weddings and a Funeral.  But it's not really her fault.  I blame the writer (Hanks again) for that one.

Two scenes have always stood out for me in That Thing You Do!  The first, I will admit, is a strange choice.  I love the scene in which Guy's girlfriend Tina (Charlize Theron) dumps him.  Tina has fallen in love with her hunky dentist but has yet to tell Guy.  Tina and Guy are on the phone engaged in what he assumes is their usual comfortable prattle.  Suddenly bored with their conversation, she hangs up on him.  No explanation.  No further discussion.  She's had enough and she's moving on.  Done.  I love it!  It would be rotten in real life but in the movie, it works.

The second scene is more obvious: the first time the band hears their own song playing on the radio.  My one lasting image from the movie has always been Liv Tyler running down the Erie sidewalk, screaming with delight.  If you wish to see pure joy portrayed on screen, look no further.

For those two scenes alone, I would happily watch the movie anytime.  In many ways, though, the true star is the title song, genuinely catchy.  In the movie universe, it hit #7 on the Billboard chart.  In the real world, it reached a nothing-to-sneeze-at 41. 



Next meeting is Friday, March 11th.  I'll post March's blog list tomorrow.  For March, pick another society member's choice from our ever increasing library to review.  Today, please visit my fellow cinephiles, listed below:


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Clone Wars: Senate Murders

My friends and I are watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  Every Tuesday, we will be featuring an episode from the series which began in 2008 (as opposed to the one that started in 2003).  All are welcome to join us for all or parts of the fun.

Episode: "Senate Murders"
Series: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Season 2, Episode 15
Original Air Date: March 12, 2010
via Wookieepedia
As the title would suggest, "Senate Murders" is a good, old-fashioned mystery story.  Senator Amidala is leading the opposition to escalation of clone troop production.  While she enjoys drinks with her party allies, one of her strongest supporters and dearest friends,  Onaconda Farr, drops dead.  Later, poison is revealed as the cause of death.

"Senate Murders" is an unusual Star Wars story for the fact that no Jedi are directly involved.  Neither Anakin nor Obi-Wan even puts in an appearance.  I am always appreciative of the tales that remind us there is more to this universe than lightsabers and telekinesis.  It's a nice development episode for Padme as well.
via Wookieepedia
Mon Mothma is also one of Padme's important allies.  Mothma is known to the devotees for her appearance in the Rebel Briefing scene in Return of the Jedi.  Caroline Blakiston, the actress who originally performed the role, interpreted the character's name as "Moon Mother," thus her cool, calm portrayal.
via Wabbit Wiki
Kath Soucie voices Mon Mothma in The Clone Wars.   She was born November 18, 1953 in Cleveland, Ohio.  She studied at New York's American Academy of Dramatic Arts and began a successful stage career.  On-camera acting was not her cup of tea but she got her first voice-over gig in 1986 on Rambo: The Force of Freedom.  The credits since then are impressive: Fifi La Fume in Tiny Toon Adventures, Dexter's mother in Dexter's Laboratory and several Rugrats characters among many others. 

If you would care to join us for all or part of our travels, sign on to the list below.  Please visit the other participants today.  Next week: "Cat and Mouse."

 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Mock Squid Soup: February's Three Clues


Today, for this month's edition of Mock Squid Soup, all society members are invited to post three hints about their film choice for the month.  All are welcome to guess, of course.  My three clues:

- The writer/director is one of Hollywood's all-time superstar actors.  He appears in the film, though in a supporting role.  Interestingly, the actual male lead is a dead ringer for a younger version of the megastar and was nearly passed over for the part as a result.  However, the two are not related.

- The female lead is the daughter of rock 'n' roll royalty.

- The film is the only one I know of that takes place, at least in part, in northwest Pennsylvania.

Any guesses?  Society reviews will be posted next Friday, February 12th.  See you then.  Meanwhile, please visit my fellow cinephiles today:


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Clone Wars: Duchess of Mandalore

My friends and I are watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  Every Tuesday, we will be featuring an episode from the series which began in 2008 (as opposed to the one that started in 2003).  All are welcome to join us for all or parts of the fun.

Episode: "Duchess of Mandalore"
Series: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Season 2, Episode 14
Original Air Date: February 12, 2010
via Wookieepedia
With the terrorist group Death Watch threatening the neutral planet Mandalore, senators vote for a pre-emptive Republic invasion.  Sounds familiar somehow. Naturally, the situation is not all that it seems.  We, as viewers, are let in on the secret of the political manipulations of Chancellor Palpatine.  And, of course, Death Watch is still out to kill Duchess Satine.

With this episode the Mandalore story arc comes to an end.  The arc has a lot going for it.  Most importantly, it provides excellent character development for Obi-Wan Kenobi as we learn of his past affections for the Duchess, a compelling character in her own right.  The Mandalore-Death Watch history provides depth to the Boba Fett story and also a broader sense of galactic politics.  On top of all that, we get some always welcome exploration of city life on Coruscant.  So, there's a little bit for fans of the originals and a little bit for fans of the prequels.  Nicely done.

Pre Vizsla is the leader of Death Watch.  The Mandalore arc marks his entrance but he'll be back.  He is voiced by Jon Favreau.
via Clone Wars Wiki
Favreau was born October 19, 1966 in Queens, New York.  He went to Queens College but dropped out to pursue a career in comedy.  He got his first big break in the Notre Dame football film Rudy.  23 years later, he's a Hollywood titan, having found some success on screen but even more as writer, director and producer.  He wrote, produced and acted in Swingers.  He directed and acted in Elf.  He is executive producer for both Avengers movies.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.
via Wookieepedia
One of Favreau's more unusual projects was the TV series Dinner for Five.  The concept could hardly be simpler: Favreau would invite four people in the entertainment business to dinner.  They would eat in a real restaurant off of the real menu served by the real wait staff.  No scripts, just five people chatting about the biz.  Among his guests over four seasons: Ben Affleck, Ed Asner, Peter Bogdanovich, George Carlin, Tony Hawk, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Stan Lee, Alanis Morissette and Martin Scorcese.  The episodes were uneven.  Some of the groups were more interesting than others.  But the idea was wonderful.

If you would care to join us for all or part of our travels, sign on to the list below.  Please visit the other participants today.  Next week: "Senate Murders."



Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse: February 2016 Blog List

Greetings to all!  I hope you'll join us for the next installment of the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, an online gathering of bloggers who love books.  The next meeting is set for Friday, February 26th.  If you're interested, please sign on to the link list at the end of this post.

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.  Please join us:




Friday, January 29, 2016

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse: January 2016

Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the works they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.  If you wish to add your own review to the conversation, please sign on to the link list at the end of my post.

Title: American Fried
Author: Calvin Trillin
via Goodreads
Calvin Trillin falls in the M.F.K. Fisher tradition of food writers, those who are more eaters than cooks.  That would be an accurate reflection of my own relationship with food, too.  While I am trying to learn to cook - mostly baking - I am far more experienced in appreciating the hard work of others.  Trillin eschews what passes for high cuisine in the United States - restaurants with names like Maison de la Casa House - in favor of low brow, greasier. American Fried describes numerous quests for such ideals as the best barbecue in Kansas City and the best bagels and schmears on the Lower East Side. 

Trillin published American Fried, the first of his Tummy Trilogy, before the word "foodie" attained its current cultural relevance.  Incidentally, I hate the word "foodie."  It's snobbish and elitist, as if one has to make a hobby of eating in order to appreciate food.  In my experience, there are entire nations of humans who love food without requiring such designations.

I rather doubt Trillin himself would take well to being called a foodie.  Food fanatic seems a better term.  The quantities he describes consuming border on absurd, yet he's particular.  Once he finds what he likes, he wastes no time shoveling it down his gullet.

The humor is top shelf - not quite embarrassing-to-read-on-a-plane funny but good for a healthy chuckle.  The change in food prices from the early '70s is quite comical though, of course, unintentional.  Trillin's fun.  I look forward to the rest of his trilogy.

Please join us and share your own review of your best read from the past month.  This month's link list is below.  I'll keep it open until the end of the day.  I'll post February's tomorrow.  Meetings are the last Friday of each month.  Next gathering is February 26th.