Predator – This was something I thought I should see because of its cultural significance, and I did appreciate the mythology, but I felt too much of it was just a bunch of guys running around a jungle and firing guns. A paramilitary group including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura (and the fact that both later became governors was not lost on the person who wrote the Netflix description) is sent into the jungle to save a cabinet minister from rebels, only to find that there’s a bigger problem in a ravenous alien creature that’s almost invisible. It’s kind of weird that it has both unearthly biology AND technology, but the film never really explains what a Predator is. We do know it has heat-sensing vision and a sense of sportsmanship. The sequels probably elaborate on this.
Storytelling – From what I’ve seen online, this movie was sort of Todd Solondz’ reaction to his critics, who claimed that the uncomfortable humor in his movies was making fun of the characters. It’s divided into two parts, “Fiction” and “Non-Fiction,” the former about a college creative writing class where one of the students has sex with the professor, writes about it, and is told that her story is too trite and unbelievable, simply intended to shock. The second part takes up most of the film, and centers around an aspiring documentary filmmaker who decides to make a movie about an aimless high school senior named Scooby and his well-to-do but dysfunctional Jewish family. John Goodman plays the overbearing father, one of his other sons plays football and ends up in a coma, and the third is constantly inadvertently rude to the family’s depressed, put-upon maid. A collaborator of the filmmaker’s thinks he’s poking fun at the family, and while he insists he’s not, the final product is produced in a way to make the audience laugh at them. And it’s not like Solondz’ movies have gotten any less uncomfortable since then, but there must be something about them that makes me want to continue seeing them. One interesting thing about this particular film is that, way back when I had an eMusic subscription due to They Might Be Giants releasing then-exclusive stuff there, I also downloaded all the Belle and Sebastian stuff they had, and that included the soundtrack.
The thing is, due to poor communication or something, very little of the music B&S wrote for it was used, although the songs “The State I Am In” (which isn’t on the soundtrack) and “Scooby Driver” do appear. The soundtrack is mostly instrumental, and I remember seeing something online about the band wasted the title “Fuck This Shit” on a song without words.
Roar – This 1981 film is more interesting for its back story than for the movie itself. We heard about it on a podcast, and the whole thing is insane. It stars Tippi Hedren, her then-husband Noel Marshall, and three of their children, including Melanie Griffith (who was actually the daughter of Tippi’s first husband, which is why she has a different last name). Apparently Tippi and Noel saw a house in Mozambique that had been taken over by lions, and decided that would make for a good movie. Hey, she’s known for a movie about animals taking over stuff. They took in a bunch of lions, then other wild animals (including tigers, jaguars, elephants, and zebras), in Soldedad Canyon, California. What little plot there is has Noel playing a guy who lives with a bunch of animals in Africa, leaving his wife and children in the States. They go to visit him, but for some reason that I don’t think was particularly clear, he’s away from home when they get there. They’re obviously terrified by all the big cats, who proceed to tear the place apart trying to get to them. When Noel gets back home, they all decide they love the animals. It was meant to have a conservationist message, and while I won’t say it didn’t, it was muddled a bit by how almost everybody involved was injured on set. Melanie had to have reconstructive surgery on her face. The problem, of course, was that wild animals are…well, can you really put it better than “wild”? Even if they’re not trying to hurt people, they’re dangerous to hang around. It also took a long time to film as a lot of it was just waiting for the cats to do something interesting, and was ultimately a box office bomb. I’m not sure billing it as a family comedy was the best choice anyway. What’s weird is that Wikipedia has a pretty detailed plot description for this, but only a brief overview for Storytelling. I know it’s just what people want to contribute, but still.