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Archive for the ‘TV & Movies’ Category

Filmception: The Movie in a Movie Game

For Angie and I, sitting down to watch a movie marathon is a great way to spend time together. We’re both movie lovers, born and raised. And when we get together with family for gatherings, you can safely bet that watching a movie or three will be a major part of the day. But when you have as many eclectic tastes as we do, and as many differing opinions on what we should watch next, sometimes picking the movie is way more entertaining that actually watching it.

When I’m looking to spice up my movie marathons, I have a few go to rules that make it a more interesting experience. If I’m having a low hassle kind of day, I’ll stick with watching a series, such as the Scream movies or the The Godfather Trilogy. For something a bit more challenging, I’ll put together a nice run of films that feature the same actor or actress. So if I decide to get my Bruce Willis on, I might start with Hudson Hawk, followed by Die Hard, and then maybe an instant-classic, like RED.

But when I’m up for a serious challenge, there is nothing better than Filmception¹.

Filmception is when one movie appears inside of another movie, most commonly playing on a TV or movie screen in the background. A less common, though still perfectly valid form of Filmception is when the characters or set pieces in a film make direct reference to another film.

When planning a Filmception marathon, the rules are simple.  The first film can be anything you want. But the second film you watch MUST have the first film in it, or directly reference it, as explained above. For real bonus points, you can then watch a third film, which must have the second film in it. Alternatively, you can watch the first film, and then all films that follow must have that first film it. Either way, the challenge factor is HIGH.

So how about a few examples?

Spoiler Alert: Obviously, I’m about to talk about a few movies. If you haven’t seen them, I’m blowing more than few plot points here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Ladyhawke / Conspiracy Theory

Ladyhawke (1985) appears in Conspiracy Theory (1997)

Ladyhawke (1985) appears in Conspiracy Theory (1997)

We start out with the 1985 classic, Ladyhawke. Starring Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, it’s not only a great film, but the origin of one of my favorite movie quotes:

Sir, the truth is, I talk to God all the time, and, no offense, but he never mentioned you.

Now follow that with the 1997 film Conspiracy Theory. Starring Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, and Patrick Stewart. (Stewart does a nice bit  playing against type as the villain.)

Filmception: At one point, while trying to hide from a group of bad guys, Mel Gibson’s character attempts to hide in a packed movie theatre. And what’s playing? That’s right, Ladyhawke!

Jaime’s Random Trivia: It might seem a little odd that a movie theatre in 1997 is playing a film from 1985. The crossover makes more sense when you realize both movies were directed by Richard Donner.

Ghostbusters / Zombieland

Ghostbusters (1984) appears in Zombieland (2009)

Ghostbusters (1984) appears in Zombieland (2009)

First, the movie that I have seen more than any other in my entire life, 1984’s Ghostbusters. Starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Sigourney Weaver, it’s an endless buffet of quotable lines. Personal fave:

Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say, “Yes!”

Next up is 2009’s Zombieland. Starring  Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, and Bill Murray. (And Derek Graf as the Zombie Clown. I only point this out because my sister Shannon hates clowns. Hi Shannon!)

Filmception: While our Zombieland refugees are taking shelter in the great Bill Murray’s house, they partake not only in the film Ghostbusters, but also in recreating a scene from the film with Murray playing his own character. (Murray also has the funniest death scene ever. “Ah, that’s still tender.”)

Jaime’s Random Trivia: The Zombieland script, which was originally meant to be a television pilot, was offered to John Carpenter to direct. I have a feeling that would have been a very different movie.

Lawrence of Arabia / Prometheus

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) appears in Prometheus (2012)

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) appears in Prometheus (2012)

Here is one 50 years in the making. Start out with the 1962 epic, Lawrence of Arabia. Starring Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, and Anthony Quinn. This film won 7 Academy Awards and became the gold standard for what cinematography could be.  The desert practically becomes its own character. My favorite line, which really only makes sense if you’ve seen the movie:

The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts.

Now fast forward half a century and watch 2012’s Prometheus. Starring Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof, and a bunch of other people you’ve never heard of. Prometheus is supposedly a prequel to the 1979 masterpiece Alien. It works a lot better if you just watch it as if any similarity between it and the Alien franchise is purely coincidental.

Filmception: Early on we see the android David killing some time watching his favorite film, the one and only Lawrence of Arabia.

Jaime’s Random Trivia: When I first heard they were making a sequel to Prometheus, all I could think was, “Isn’t Alien the sequel?”

¹ – Filmception is a made up word inspired by the movie Inception. If you’ve seen the movie, then you’ll understand why. I wish I could say I’m the only genius to have coined the phrase, but a quick Google search will show you everyone and their brother uses it. (Though rarely to describe the Movie in a Movie thing.)

Weekend Roundup: Racing Snail Edition

Who needs a Luck Dragon when you can get a Racing Snail?

Who needs a Luck Dragon when you can get a Racing Snail?

Welcome to the weekend! Here are a few things to browse while enjoying your down time.

  • Great news for fans of The Neverending Story, we seem to be one step closer to getting our own racing snails! I first caught the story about Florida and their Giant African Snail problem over on CNN. If you’re looking to collect the complete set of oversized critters available, Nadia Drake at Wired has a nice gallery up of all the possibilities.
  • James Plafke at Geek.com has the scoop on what will surely be this year’s must have stocking stuffer. Fundawear is remote-controlled vibrating underwear for long distance couples. With the help of a smartphone app, people wearing the underwear can not only turn on vibration from across the internet, but also control the vibration’s level of intensity, and dictate the vibration’s travel patterns. You know Grandma will want two sets.

Have a great weekend!

Losing to the Victory Garden

Sweet, delicious propaganda!

Sweet, delicious propaganda!

On Saturdays, my morning routine involves a healthy dose of PBS. I am up by 7:00 am most of the time, but don’t actually begin my Think TV buffet until 9:00. (Tuning in earlier than 9:00 will leave you adrift in back to back to back quilting shows. Danger Will Robinson! Danger!)

Starting at 9:00, we have This Old House, where people who live in houses nicer than mine walk  around and cheerfully complain about this or that, and then just as cheerfully remodel the shit out of it. I watch and take mental notes should I ever be in a position to spend a quarter of a million dollars to renovate my home.

Next up is The New Yankee Workshop, where Norm Abrams of “This Old House” fame walks us through crafting wood into art. Norm, the flannel packing inspiration for Al Boreland on “Home Improvement”, makes even the most complicated of wood-crafting projects look easy. I watch this show with the sure knowledge that if I were ever foolish enough to attempt any of these projects, I’d lose three fingers and an eye. And that would just be while shopping for wood. God only knows what I’d lose if I started up one of the saws in my Dad’s wood shop.

After that comes American Woodshop, with a host who has all of Norm’s mad skills, and none of his smooth patter. I normally grab a shower while this is on. But it has to be a quick shower, because my terrible secret is on next. And if I miss it, I’ll be in a foul mood all week.

My name is Jaime, and I watch The Victory Garden.

I can’t even begin to explain why I watch this show. I don’t garden. I don’t have any real inclination to garden. When I pass a garden on my way to work, I don’t slow down and gawk. I don’t grow plants for ornamental purposes. I don’t landscape. In fact, the only plant I ever had for any significant period of time was an Aloe plant named George. And frankly, I think the only reason he lasted so long was that he required watering every week or two, which is about how often I remembered to do it.

To the untrained eye, I am about as far out of the target audience for this show as is humanly conceivable. And yet I watch. Obsessively.

I think I’m fascinated that any person could know this much about plants. I am ceaselessly amazed that one of the hosts will be walking around a garden they’re visiting and identify plants by not only their common name, but also by their Latin name. And just to show how Garden Gangster they are, they usually use the Latin name first, and then throw in the common name as an afterthought.¹ I sit in front of my TV, jaw agape, and take it all in.

A few years ago I was watching a segment that dealt with creating a lovely little loose stone mosaic in the back yard. They were creating it so that they would have a visually appealing, fireproof area to sit their fire pit on. In what can only be called a suicidal loss of reason and judgment, I thought, “Hey, I can do that.”

And so I did.

I went outside, dug a huge hole in my yard and built a very nice round, stone area for our iron fire pit to sit on. I used slabs of granite we had saved when we replaced an old sidewalk, and extra gravel we had from when we gravelled our parking area. I even built a fire when I finished and sat beside it enjoying my handiwork.

But while the results were actually surprisingly good, It was a very, very worrying experience. In hindsight, I believe that they brainwashed me into becoming a gardener. First they lured me in with the occasional interesting segment. Then they had me watching whole episodes. Finally, they convinced me to duplicate a project I saw on the show. Had I not moved to an apartment, it was probably only a matter of time before I surrendered to the madness and began wearing big floppy hats and clapping my hands excitedly when I saw someone gardening with the Three Sisters.²

For now, I’m relatively safe. I live in an apartment, and thus my exposure to gardening opportunities are limited. But there is always the chance of relapse. So should you see me out in public, pointing at trees and casually using their Latin names, take note of the moment. Use it as a warning to others. Let my tragic tale of gardening fascination serve as a wake up call to America.

The Victory Garden is just plain dangerous.

¹ – Should the phrase “Garden Gangster” become a thing, I’d like everyone to remember they read it here first.

² – The Three Sisters is a gardening technique where you use a combination of corn, beans, and squash together. The corn-stalk, aside from growing corn, also offers a tall pole for the bean vine to climb as it grows. The squash, with its broad leaves, covers the ground and keeps out weeds while sealing in moisture. Now, for the love of all things holy, why do I know this?

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