weird times at the movies

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District 9
I went in expecting some kind of allegory about apartheid. Wrong. The film begins like a really odd riff on “The Office.” A goofy, ignorant, bureaucrat is put in charge of a slum full of space aliens in South Africa. His clueless bumbling is kind of funny in this bizarre setting. Also strange and funny is the fact that the alien “prawn” creatures love to eat cat food. But before long the plot zooms off into an action film– guns, explosions, close calls, and heavy casualties. The action is relentless, the CGI is cool, and it’s a lot of fun in a “don’t think too hard about this” kind of way. There are some story elements about redemption and prejudice, but they don’t really stick. Holes in the plot are left unfilled, but by this time you realize it’s a comic book movie so it doesn’t matter. I don’t think the movie-makers really knew what kind of film they wanted, but it’s fun if you don’t mind some carnage.

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The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant
All praise to Maggie for finding and taping this monstrously bad movie from 1971. It stars Bruce Dern as a scientist with a head-transplant laboratory in his house. He and his assistant take a large but dumb man and attach a second head to his neck. The second head is insane and giggles fiendishly. The scientist’s wife has to be restrained and/or sedated on a regular basis “for her own good” when she looks too closely into what’s going on. Meanwhile the two-headed man stumbles around killing people. The scientist’s assistant acts as though this is just another day at the lab. Very funny and recommended.

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Futurama: Bender’s Game
This was the third of the four Futurama movies made after the first TV series ended. My favorite is still The Beast with a Billion Backs, but Bender’s Game doesn’t disappoint. It opens with a wonderful imitation of the Yellow Submarine movie, but soon the action begins and Bender goes insane while playing Dungeons and Dragons with some kids. The story also involves the evil Momcorp, and its CEO, Mom, who is familiar to viewers of the TV show. Mom is in search of the “anti-backwards crystal” to safeguard her monopoly on all the rocket fuel in the universe, and Farnsworth has it. Before it all ends, there’s an adventure in a Dungeons and Dragons alternate universe, a cameo by the late Gary Guygax, and a pretty weak parody of Lord of the Rings. Overall, however: big fun.

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