Beyond Teen Movies

What’s a Geek to watch at the cinema as we approach the end of January? There’s actually a reason to turn off Netflix as we have this weekend’s ‘Ex_Machina’ (robot-lady ethical thriller penned by the excellent Alex Garland) prior to next weekend’s big Disney release ‘Big Hero 6’ (kinda-robot blow-up ‘healer’ thang develops friendship with young boy). I want them both, I want them now.

ex_machina big hero 6
But, oh, wait – what’s this?! If you’re a fan of teen movies (and who isn’t?!) then there’s one other film you HAVE to make time for this week or next.

‘Beyond Clueless’, a documentary by Charlie Lyne and narrated by Fairuza Balk (any ‘The Craft’ fans up in heya?!), documents the classic teen flicks of days gone by (the good, the bad, the cult and everything in between), recognising their place in pop culture and what they have to say about those brilliant/horrible years we’re all subjected to.

I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the weirdos who hang about on the fringes – everything from ‘Heathers’ and ‘Rushmore’ to ‘Donnie Darko’ and, of course, ‘The Breakfast Club’ – but I enjoy a mediocre teen flick generally as much as I’ll enjoy a fantastic entry in any other genre. And, as I get older, I still find enjoyment in the likes of ‘Mean Girls’, ‘Easy A’ and ‘Detention’, sharper and funnier than most comedies aimed at so-called adults.

‘Beyond Clueless’, with its equally enticing soundtrack from the undervalued (and John Hughes-indebted) Summer Camp, KNOWS that the teen movie is the underdog of the genre world – and this is its moment to shine at prom, taking the Homecoming title sans bucket o’ pig’s blood. Catch the trailer below then hunt down a screening, you Veronica you!

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Going Down to the Bayou

So, I’m officially going to New Orleans next year – EEEEEK!

the princess and the frog

‘Excited’ is a word that doesn’t really do justice to my anticipation about tripping to what is a pretty mythical place for someone who has watched too many movies and read too many books. I’m aware of the historical and cultural significance of the place, and can’t wait to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day a stone’s throw away from the Mississippi whilst sipping on some Hurricanes and listening to jazz. ARGH!

Time to re-watch ‘The Princess & the Frog’, flick through some dog-eared Anne Rice books, and start dreaming bad dreams starring Robert DeNiro as the Devil. Might order the entire boxset of ‘Treme’ too!

Anyone got any good tips for New Orleans movies, shows, books and music? I’ll devour it all!

Trailer Tuesday: Getting the Disney Feels

After last week’s heroic ‘Big Hero 6’ trailer comes another new tease from Disney. Although the House of Mouse is entering a potential new golden era, thanks largely one suspects from the creative leadership of John Lasseter, ‘Inside Out’ officially bears the stamp of Pixar which is even more cause for excitement.

‘Brave’ was an interesting but flawed diversion and ‘Cars 2’ suffered from sequel-itis (although ‘Monsters University’ was great fun!) so it’s about time we got another cast-iron Pixar classic to stand head and shoulders alongside ‘Toy Story’, ‘Wall-E’ and ‘Up’ – and the totes emosh ‘Inside Out’ could be that very movie.

It takes the offbeat idea of the primary characters being emotions belonging to a little girl and gifts it a script from ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ scribe Michael Arndt and an inspired geek-bait voice cast, including Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling and Bill Hader. If you’re not already excited, then the sweet trailer tribute to golden Pixar moments is sure to win you over…

Trailer Tuesday: A New Disney Hero

The love for ‘Frozen’ is still yet to thaw, with cuddly Olaf teddies surely the must-have for every home this coming winter. Regardless, with its themes of sisterly love and big Broadway barnstormers, you simply can’t avoid the fact that ‘Frozen’ is, well, a bit girly…

Thankfully, the creative spark reignited in Disney since John Lasseter took the Big Boss job looks set to remain alight with ‘Big Hero 6’. Although it’s infuriatingly getting a pre-Xmas release in the States and a post-Xmas release in the UK, the key thing here is that the same creative verve applied to ‘Tangled’, ‘Wreck-It-Ralph’ and, yes, ‘Frozen’ is not in short supply in the movie’s trailer – so it will hopefully be worth the wait!

The promo suggests an idiosyncratic spin on the recent superhero boom with interesting references from Eastern culture. An unkind person who doesn’t enjoy fun might say it looks to be recycling elements from ‘The Incredibles’ and ‘Wall-E’, but if it’s even a tenth as good as those Pixar classics then I’m happy and my faith in the Mickey Mouse Empire shall remain unshaken.

Dead Mouse

Ever wondered what ‘Die Hard’ would have been like if it was set in Disneyland? Well, thanks to recently published graphic novel ‘Ricky Rouse Has a Gun’, you no longer have to. Sorta.

This rip-roaring yarn is a deviant little book – in all the best ways. Jörg Tittel and John Aggs have crafted a satirical story with bite in it’s hero’s mousey teeth: not to mention gunfire and bloodshed in abundance. Despite its central character’s, erm, resemblance to a famous mouse, this is definitely not bedtime reading for kids.

ricky rouse graphic novel

So, what’s the story? Down-on-his-luck soldier Rick is lying low in Shanghai when he crosses paths with Hucheng, an entrepreneur who owns a Chinese theme park that is decidedly similar to the US’s most culturally significant amusement parks. Out of the job and desperate to support his estranged daughter, Rick becomes ‘Ricky Rouse’ and joins the park’s existing staff, all of whom are versions of some of the world’s most familiar fictional characters.

However, when a rogue band of costumed creeps take the theme park hostage on Christmas Day, Ricky Rouse has to come to the aid of both its patrons and his visiting family. Cue bullets and ultra-violence – happy Christmas!

As well as sly political undertones regarding Western-Chinese relations, the commentary on attitudes to political property is defiantly on-the-nose. Above all though, it’s a fun romp with a wicked streak of anarchic humour, Tittel’s snarky dialogue backed up by Aggs’s blood-soaked, rampaging visuals.

selfmadehero 'ricky rouse'

Published by SelfMadeHero, ‘Ricky Rouse Has a Gun’ is available now – and just waiting to give you a good time.

Making Time For Mickey

One of the things I did on my geek sorta-sabbatical was, well, pretty geeky.

After a period in my teens where I passed off all my VHS tapes to cousins and pretending I wasn’t cray-cray for cartoons, I’ve fully embraced my love of Disney once again. Of course, the Pixar catalogue has been a gateway drug leading backwards into the classic canon, and though not without some shabby entries (‘Oliver’s Company’, I’m looking at you) the Walt wonder years are not to be snubbed by any serious film fan – or eternal kid.

Because the Blu/DVD library and Disney Infinity figures aren’t enough, I took time out (guffaw) from my busy schedule to buy a Mickey Mouse watch from Ingersoll watches.

Ingersoll Mickey Mouse watch

It’s just one of many timepieces starring the world’s most famous mouse, but the large dial and stainless steel bracelet meant this one won prime real estate on my hairy wrist. Everybody’s favourite Sorcerer’s Apprentice looks like he’s having fun telling me what time it is, dontcha think?

If you’re geared towards Goofy or would rather spend your time with a dwarf or evil queen, you’ll be happy to hear that Ingersoll have a Disney watches collection that I really wish I hadn’t seen because I now want all of them. Rolex has never been this much fun!

Ingersoll - Disney watches

Never Seen Star Wars?

star wars

We all have that friend who shakes their head at us when we tell them we haven’t watched that TV show/seen that movie/read that book/played that game that they’re so enamoured by. We’ve all felt inadequate and out of the loop when receiving this reaction, so much so that we rush out to buy the raved-about boxset or whatever it is to appease our friends and sate our souls.

Exhibit A: the droves of people inhaling ‘Breaking Bad’ via Netflix after the slow-burn cult fave suddenly exploded into ‘Homeland’-style watercooler TV during its final season. Walter deserves the following, sure, but when did friendly critical recommendation turn into guilt-trip binge watching in an effort to bridge the cred-diminishing gap?

The thing is, in this media-blitz age, we can’t all have watched/played/read every well-received entertainment property – unless you don’t have a job (even then), it’s just not realistic. Sure, you can spend your weekends devouring ‘Mad Men’ boxsets but for every Don Draper, you’ll have to sacrifice a Tony Soprano or an 8-hour ‘Skyrim’ blitz.

So, as McGeek, what is my dark and dirty secret? There’s plenty on my Sky planner and Netflix ‘to watch’ list, plus a small fortune of CDs, books and games on my Amazon wishlist (even prior purchases on my shelves that I’m yet to touch). As a self-professed geek, I should probably feel slightly ashamed – heck, you may even spurn this blog upon discovering – that one small little space saga sits at the top of my unwatched list.

Yup, that’s right: I’ve never seen ‘Star Wars’.

Holy shit beans. Put down your lightsabers though, guys; my geek ignorance may astound you, but it’s just something I haven’t gotten round to. I haven’t wilfully spurned the series, instead simply going through life without returning to the Jedi after a primary school showing of ‘A New Hope’ had me glued to my seat but not necessarily crying out for more.

star wars stormtroopers

Of course, as a wisened geek, the original saga is definitely something I intend to catch at some point, especially now the franchise is getting the JJ/Disney treatment in the next few years. One weekend awaits in my future where I’ll sit down with a family-sized box of Maltesers and gorge on both that and George’s galaxy.

Of the new trilogy, through some mishap I ended up seeing ‘Attack of the Clones’ at the cinema but I admit to having no idea what was going on during its flurry of a final hour. Maybe I wasn’t invested enough, maybe my ignorance of the originals rendered a prequel redundant, maybe it was just a bit shit (surely, some ‘Star Wars’ fanatics agree here?); whatever the case, I’m sure a sit-down with the most recent entries will occur at some point too but maybe without quite as much as guilt on my side that it’s my first time.

The thing with ‘Star Wars’ is that it’s one of those few cultural entities that is so all-pervading that perhaps part of the reason I haven’t seen it in full is because I feel I don’t necessarily need to. Storm troopers, ewoks, the Death Star, the true identity of Luke Skywalker’s father… I feel like I’ve been there and back already, such is the frequency that the universe’s iconography is referenced in all manner of TV, film, games and music.

With the new phase of ‘Star Wars’ looking like a mighty Marvel makeover – a new film every year, character standalones, etc. – it’s an apt time for any newcomer like me to make nice and get acquainted. The casting rumours are flying thick and fast, with relative unknowns like ‘Girls’’ Adam Driver to the original Hamill/Ford/Fisher cast, being bandied about.

However, before I get all excited and offer opinions about what the new movies should or shouldn’t be, I should really visit a galaxy far, far away. Anyone got a boxset they wanna loan me??

A Whole New World

Oh 1992, your cave of wonders was resplendent thanks to one magic carpet of a movie. ‘Aladdin’ is still the Prince Ali of Disney films, beating nostalgia kicks as evergreen awesome as ‘The Lion King’ and ‘The Little Mermaid’ thanks to its mix of tunes, magic, quality animation and Robin Williams in wisecracking big blue genie mode. I watch it at least once a year.

Which is why Aladdin coming to Broadway (and hopefully theatres beyond Midtown NYC) inspires a Christmas morning feeling in this street rat. The shining, shimmering, splendid Disney musical kicked off preview performances yesterday, with opening Broadway night scheduled for mid-March.

a whole new world

Adam Jacobs stars as the titular street urchin with Courtney Reed as Jasmine, with direction and choreography steered by Casey Nicholaw. Of course, it’s the music by Oscar winner Alan Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice and Howard Ashman that are the real draw for ’90s kid who still burst out a “Let’s not be too hastyyyy / Still I think he’s rather tastyyyy” when drunk. No, not me – erm, I know people…

Anyway, here’s hoping for the good reviews to come flying in ‘A Whole New World’ style so we have a new ‘Lion King’-size global hit on our hands so we don’t have to hop a plane to New York to see it. There’s one of my three wishes.