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Monday Movies Brings Life

We hosted a country mouse for most of last week, and in her eagerness to take advantage of our city offerings, movies fell aside in favor of socializing, dining out, literary events, and a stage show. Living in Los Angeles as we do, inevitably some of these entertainments fell into Monday Movies’ territory, most notably the production of Re-Animator: The Musical at the Steve Allen Theater.

I was an easily scared child, and my sense of humor didn’t accommodate the fruitful intersection of comedy and gore so prominent in the 1980s. (I got into it a little when the Scream franchise got up and running.) Without the benefit of nostalgia, the show was still very good. It took its time getting into the story, but the second act brought buckets of fake blood (we were too far back to experience it, but the front few rows could have been at a GWAR show), steady laughs, and at least one song that I left humming (“I Bring Life”). The leads were excellent although had we come for the premiere we could have seen George Wendt in a starring role.

Graham Skipper stole the show as mad genius Dr. Herbert West — the LA Times’s description of “Rainn Wilson meets Daniel Radcliffe” is missing a good chunk of Peter Sellers, perhaps in a SHAG painting. The Grand Guignol effects were the real stars; West goes down in a blaze of long intestine, strangled to death as the sausage-link hose soaks the audience with a gravy-colored spray. The decapitation-cum-re-animation of Dr. Carl Hill was cleverly realized:

Fans of the movie may remember what happens next (NSFW). They held back on that account, in my guess due more to the limitations of stage costuming than of taste.


We also twice ran into Nathan Larson, reading from his book in Echo Park Thursday night and sitting on a panel at the festival Sunday. In addition to writing novels, playing in Shudder To Think, and marrying The Cardigans’ Nina Persson, he scores films, which he mentioned mostly to dismiss as an art form. “I had to replace this terrible porn-y Estonian techno music, and so I had to listen to a ton of it,” he said, and I considered how much that film — Lilya 4-Eva — had affected me, and whether the claustrophobic depravity of the nightclub scenes hadn’t been made so much more so by the expert scoring. So good job Nathan Larson.


May 2, 2011 - Posted by | Monday Movies | , ,


  1. This weekend one of my goals was to turn around some of my Jarmusch Netflix. Following up on our Western fascination this winter, we watched Dead Man first and enjoyed it. Then we started Fishing With John, which I guess was technically a TV show when it first aired — but I’m going to discuss it here because it’s in the Criterion collection. Fishing With John is nothing short of amazing, seemingly the progenitor of entire genres of comedy. We only got halfway through, and so far the Jarmusch shark-fishing episode is the best, but I’ll post an update when we finish the second half tonight.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | May 2, 2011

  2. My answer to what were you doing when you found out they killed Bin Laden is watching Pulp Fiction on IFC. Well, that is what I was doing when they announced the press conference that ended up being the announcement. I’ve watched Pulp Fiction numerous times and somehow this viewing was the first time I noticed the similarity between Mia Wallace’s description of her Fox Force 5 pilot and Kill Bill. Ill probably confess Friday that I’m not too bright.

    I also watched Zombieland, which I found funny for its being completely unencumbered by the concerns (other than zombies) the main characters would face.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | May 2, 2011

  3. Fishing With John is fantastic. I think I liked the ice fishing with Willem Dafoe the best.

    Comment by ben | May 2, 2011

  4. 4/25/11 – Fires on the Plain – Ichikawa 1959
    4/26/11 – Orizuru Osen – Mizoguchi – 1935 silent with benshi! neat
    4/27/11 – The Ceiling at Utsunomiya – Nakagawa 1956
    4/28/11 – A Last Note – Shindo Kaneta 1995
    4/29/11 – Professor Ishinaka – Naruse 1950
    4/30/11 – Late Spring – Ozu 1949
    4/30/11 – Kids Are All Right – Cholodenko
    5/01/11 – What Time Is It There – Tsai Ming-liang 2001

    Comment by bob mcmanus | May 2, 2011

  5. I watched Legion, which I think I was only aware of the existence of because of previous mentions on this blog. I’m not sure it’s “good,” but it is pretty good as a nuts-and-bolts genre film. You can see all the joints, but they’re very well constructed. The only thing that would have made it better is if the the archangel Michael had been played by Jason Statham (who I briefly thought was playing him when the character first appeared on screen).

    I also saw Fast Five, which isn’t good at all, although it’s kind of mesmerizing in its disregard for acting, plot, physics.

    Comment by voyou | May 2, 2011

  6. Of the 26 movies released in 2009 that featured Jesse Eisenberg and had titles ending in -land, Adventureland and Zombieland are the most worth watching. I enjoyed the former more, though both are good.

    Comment by Josh K-sky | May 2, 2011

  7. I get confused because they both have Jesse Eisenberg and amusement parks. The zombies help, though.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | May 2, 2011

  8. I agree that the Willem Defoe one is best as an actualization of the concept of the show (editing, etc.), but I still think the Jarmusch one had the most laugh out loud moments.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | May 2, 2011

  9. I also accomplished a feat that’s become increasingly rare for me: clearing out the Netflix we have at home. I watched Mystery Train in the afternoon, which is basically like all the other Jarmusch movies, and in the evening we watched It’s Complicated, or as they’re titling the foreign release, First-World Problems.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | May 3, 2011

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