Friday 5: With a Capital T

Man, I’m having all kinds of trouble sitting still enough to write anything.  Forcing myself before I dive into the weekend to at least do one of these.  The responses by other participants have been fun to read.

From here.

  1. What kind of trouble are you getting yourself into?
    Uuuuuugggggh.  I still haven’t made those appointments I missed a few months ago.  I really, really, really need to.  Next week for sure.  I actually need to get my BP checked, my eyes checked, and probably my left knee checked.  The knee has been bugging me for about three weeks and although it feels better, I still feel it with almost every step.  Also need to ask someone about my thinning hair.  Eep.
  2. What was your most recent car trouble?
    I’ve been a bus rider for a few years now, because of my most recent car trouble.  I’ve discussed this before, I’m quite sure.  But I was distracted (I was not texting or speaking on my phone) (okay, but it might have been phone-related) and rear-ended the pickup truck driven by a famous local radio DJ from the 80s.  He and his truck were fine, but my car was totaled.  I made myself not drive for a couple of years as penance.  I mean, I really could have killed someone.  But I’m sloooooooowly getting caught up on a few things and am ready for some wheels.  Hopefully before winter rolls around.
  3. What’s a rhyming phrase (such as “work jerk” or “poo shoe”) to describe something causing you problems lately?
    How about creepy sleepy?  It’s terrible, I know.  But this is what sleep deprivation does to me.  I had a very encouraging week of sleep last week, but this past week has been freaking miserable.  Last night was about as bad as it’s been.
  4. What’s something that needs loosening or unsticking?
    I have those windows that have weights hanging within the window frames, to make opening and closing them easy, like with a garage door.  One of these windows is sticking, only when I try to shut it.  There’s a weird resistance.  I sometimes have to slam it down, which scares me because it’s a very old house and it would devastate me to slam that window shut and have it shatter.
  5. What’s your favorite board game involving rolling dice?
    I have to go with Risk, a game I love but never ever get to play.  I really love Risk, and some of my best game-playing memories are centered on that game.  I once bought my friend Ross a very old Risk set.  Not the first edition, but pretty close.  Picked it up on eBay.  The old-looking world map and wooden pieces.  Box totally intact.  It was sweet.  I don’t think we ever played with it.

I’ll do more of these later this weekend, I think.  Just to get caught up or something.

Review: The Room

The Room (2003)
Tommy Wiseau, Juliette Danielle, Greg Sestero, Phiip Haldiman, Carolyn Minnott, Robyn Paris. Written by Tommy Wiseau. Directed by Tommy Wiseau.

Apparently, sometime in the past fifteen years without anyone’s consulting me, 2003’s The Room supplanted Plan 9 from Outer Space as the worst movie ever made. I didn’t even know this film existed until I saw the hype leading up to the release of James Franco’s 2017 The Disaster Artist.

Yet descriptions could not be believed. I had to see it myself. And midway through my first viewing, all I could think was that while I was utterly fascinated at the amazingly bad movie playing before me, it was so bad that I couldn’t sit through all of it. I had to spread it out over three evenings.

When you talk about how awful Plan 9 from Outer Space is, you can point to twenty things, and your listener will get it. Bella Lugosi died midway through shooting, so they replaced him with someone who didn’t look anything like Lugosi. Director Ed Wood solved this by having Lugosi walk around with his cape covering his face for the rest of the film. In one scene set in a graveyard, the gravestones wobble and topple over, revealing them to be the cardboard stand-up props they are. One woman screams and two different-voices come out of her mouth at the same time.

The Room is so bizarrely, bafflingly bad that describing it doesn’t communicate how utterly bad it is. Take one awful, popular favorite scene. Main character Johnny (played by writer-director-producer Tommy Wiseau) walks into a flower shop, wearing sunglasses. He says, “Hi.” The woman behind the counter says, “Can I help you?” Tommy says, “Yeah, can I have a dozen red roses please?” The woman says, “Oh, hi Johnny. I didn’t know it was you. Here you go.” She hands him the roses, already wrapped in cellophane. “That’s me,” he replies in a friendly, sing-song voice, and “How much is it?” “It’ll be eighteen dollars,” she replies before he’s finished asking the question. “Here you go. Keep the change,” says Johnny before the woman finishes telling him the price, followed by “Hi doggie,” as he pats the head of a bulldog sitting on the counter. “You’re my favorite customer,” says the woman. Johnny says, “Thanks a lot,” and leaves.

See? It doesn’t sound very interesting, but neither does it sound really bad, unless you’re seeing it for maybe the second or third time, in context. You don’t realize that “Oh, hi ______” is a recurring line popping up in completely arbitrary places, or that it’s absurd for the woman at the flower shop not to recognize her favorite customer when nobody on the planet could possibly be mistaken for Johnny, except Tommy Wiseau.

And yeah. The whole movie is pretty much just like that.

For the uninitiated, a quick breakdown. Tommy Wiseau wrote, starred in, directed, and produced this film by himself, paying the six-million-dollar production costs. Wiseau doesn’t tell anyone (anyone!) where he’s from, how old he is, or where he acquired his wealth, and he has a bizarre accent that sounds vaguely eastern European, but you probably wouldn’t put money on it. To hype the film, Wiseau rented a billboard for $5000 per month, and kept it there for five years despite the film playing in only one theater for only two weeks, bringing in $1800 at the box office.

A film critic saw it during its original run and became an instant fan. Word of mouth turned it into a midnight movie hit at one theater in Los Angeles, where it played once a month at midnight for eight years, often selling out. Among the movie’s fans are Paul Rudd, David Cross, Will Arnett, Patton Oswalt, Seth Rogen, Kristen Bell, James Franco, and Dave Franco. The Francos star together in The Disaster Artist, a film about The Room directed by James.

I’ve seen the film three times. Each time it was more charming and more watchable than the previous, but seriously, I can’t just sit and watch it all the way through. I can have it on while I get some work done, while I make dinner, or while I’m goofing off online. It continues to be a horrible, terrible movie with only two things to recommend it on its own merit (and without irony).

The female lead, Juliette Danielle, puts herself fully into a role that she must have known was ridiculous. There is no self-awareness and no wink at the camera, something I have to say I admire. She’s also pretty not in a Hollywood way, but in a prettiest-barista-at-the-cafe way, the kind of pretty movies should make more of an effort to cast because it’s so much closer to real life. Supporting actress Robyn Paris comes across as the only real actor in the film, someone I would seriously think of casting if I ever made a movie.

Holy cow. I have to say this is the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but I kind of like it, and for that reason I can’t give it the lowest score.  I’d rather watch ten hours of The Room than a single minute of Event Horizon.


Review: Tully

Tully (2018)
Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Ron Livingston, Mark Duplass. Written by Diablo Cody. Directed by Jason Reitman.

Sometimes a movie must be reviewed for how it addresses big, important issues, and the more the reviewer knows about these issues, the more credible the review.

I’m part of the intended audience who is completely unqualified to hold the film up against these big issues, so I cannot comment on how intelligently, fairly, accurately, or radically it faces them. But I am part of the intended audience, so I am qualified to respond to it as art, bringing what I bring — namely my maleness and my no-marriage-no-kids status.

So this is how a middle-aged, never-married-never-had-kids man, knowing full well he will never relate to a huge chunk of the art’s purpose, receives Tully, a movie about a middle-aged woman dealing with post-childbirth life as a mother and wife.

When a writer, director, and actor attempt to create something that doesn’t look or feel like everything else, it can be as wonderfully original and satisfying as Juno or as uneven as Young Adult. Tully is somewhere between them, much closer to Young Adult in edginess and mood.

Charlize Theron is excellent as Marlo, a middle-aged mother of three dealing with the pressures of perceived good parenting, at times (and in retrospect) stunning. It’s too early in the year to say this, but she should be considered for a Best Actress Oscar at year’s end. She makes it easy for the other actors, although Mackenzie Davis as her “night nanny” Tully is really good too.

Tully’s job is to take care of Marlo’s newborn at night, waking Marlo for feedings but otherwise leaving her to sleep while Tully takes care of changing the baby, cleaning up after the baby, and rocking the baby to sleep. The extra rest does wonders for Marlo, who suddenly has time and energy to do many of the good-mommy things she feels she’s neglected lately, like preparing family meals that don’t come out of the freezer.

More than the extra rest, Tully provides companionship and understanding, an incredible source of sympathy Marlo has been lacking. Marlo finds a listening ear and wise counsel about taking care of herself, her family, and her husband, whose love is not questionable but whose contribution to running the household is. In one unforgettable scene, Tully asks Marlo to open up about her sex life, and Marlo is inspired to get things in the bedroom heated up again.

Marlo needs rest and time, but she also needs help, and she needs to be healthy in mind and body. Tully makes it all possible, and Marlo’s reemergence is lovely to see.

But the movie is about something else, something best left to the viewer to realize. I offer a trigger warning for anyone sensitive to issues of postpartum depression. If there’s any question, read a spoiler review, of which several can easily be found. If not, see it for yourself and watch a movie start off about one thing but then become something else.


Friday 5: How About a Knuckle Sandwich

From here.

  1. When did you last punch someone?  Alternate question: When did someone last punch you?
    I wasn’t always the pacifist I claim to be today, so I have thrown a fair number of punches, some of them finding their mark.  But it has been a very long time, since early high school, and it shames me to think about them now, so I’m answering the alternate question.  A couple of months ago, I was walking to a bus stop rather late at night in my neighborhood.  People familiar with the area (North King Street near Mokauea Street in Kalihi) will tell you the only surprising thing about this story is that things didn’t escalate, or maybe that this kind of thing doesn’t happen to me all the time.  I walked past one bus stop on my way to a safer one at which to wait in the dark (the one across Farrington High School).  A guy — thin, not very tall, slightly hunched over, early twenties — threw a punch at my face as I passed.  His aim was horrible, and his fist glanced harmlessly off my cheekbone.  I was startled.  I drew a fist back (honestly, not to take a swing, but to give him something to think about as I considered where I might run) and I looked him in the eye.  He was drunk.  “What?!” he demanded, taking an aggressive stance as though he might swing again.  I gave him an exaggeratedly puzzled look.  “What are you doing?” I asked. He repeated his question.  I said, “What the heck?” and continued walking to the next bus stop.  I kept my eyes on him as I did, awkwardly looking back over my shoulder.  He kept yelling one-word threats at me but didn’t come after me.  At least not at first.  He did make his slow, staggering way toward my bus stop and arrived just as my bus pulled up at the curb.  I got on and he didn’t follow me.
  2. How many of those frequent (whatever) stampcards/punchcards do you have, and which are you most likely to fill and redeem?
    I’m not going to count duplicates and say it’s in the area of twenty local establishments, some of which aren’t even in business anymore, such as Koi Catering and Takeout (the food truck still exists but I’ve never seen it), Ice Forest, and Ice Fru.  I need to do some cleaning up.  The card I’m most likely to complete and redeem next is from Friend Cafe, my favorite boba cafe.  I actually have a couple of completed cards but haven’t redeemed them so I could use them some day when I don’t have any money.  I tend to save my completed stamp cards for rainy days, and then the cards either expire or the businesses close permanently.
  3. When have you had a really good fruit punch?
    I used to make a really popular fruit punch from a recipe I got from my mom.  People would ask me, going back to high school days, to bring it to parties.  I made it often enough that I didn’t need to look at the recipe anymore, and over the years whenever I’ve made it, I think I’ve mutated the amounts bit by bit until the last time I tried to make it and it was terrible.  It used powdered strawberry Jell-O (cooked but not set), pineapple juice (to keep the Jell-O from setting), frozen strawberries, and ginger ale.  I’ve also been at functions at some of the really nice hotels here, and the fruit punches at those things can be crazy good.
  4. What are your thoughts on boxing?
    I love it, but I swore off it shortly after I began teaching.  I decided that watching boxing was getting in the way of my becoming the pacifist I wanted to be.  My dad taught me how to fight, taught me beginning at a young age, and although I love him and respect him, I don’t want to be him, at least not where it comes to resolving conflict.  I’m not saying watching boxing leads to violence.  I am saying that watching boxing glorifies something I don’t want to glorify, as much as I love the sporting aspect.  Amd yeah, I think it makes ME (not anyone else) more likely to seek non-peaceful ways out of stuff.  I mean, I’ll watch pro wrestling, and I’ll watch movies about boxing.  But I won’t watch real boxing.  My resolve was first put to the test when Tyson fought Holyfield the first time.  When I found out the next morning that Holyfield won, I felt a large pit open up in my stomach.  “I missed it!” I said to myself, sadly.  Then when they fought again, when Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear off, I said, “Oh thank goodness I don’t watch boxing anymore!”  After each major fight ever since, I have one or the other response when I hear the results.  I believe I’m better off — if not necessarily a better person — not watching.
  5. When do you usually punch in and punch out?
    Officially 8:30 in and 5:30 out, but I’ve gotten temporary permission to come in at 9:00 and leave at 6:00.  I’m having major sleep issues that make the later start time much, much easier on me.  My boss is wonderful and would let me make it permanent, would even let me go 9:30 to 6:30 if I asked for it, which would be even better for me, but I’m trying to work these sleep problems out, not to rely on a later start time.  ‘Though to be honest, two days out of five, I’m in from 9:30 anyway and staying until past 7:00.  I get more work done when everyone else leaves the building.


Review: Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Peter Dinklage, Benedict Wong, Pom Lementieff, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin.  Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.  Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo.

However you may feel about comic book adaptations, there is something admirable about the concept and execution of films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe leading to Avengers: Inifinity War, and ostensibly concluding with its sequel in 2019. This is the nineteenth film in the series, with at least three to go in this cycle. Unlike other interminable series, which (with rare exception) at most plan ahead for two sequels, simply adding to the body with movie after movie according to the market’s demand, the MCU films have been driving toward this film seemingly since the beginning.

Whether the next Avengers movie is meant to be a conclusion or not, this one certainly feels like a pulling together of all the threads toward a final something. Although of course I assume that’s just part of the pattern for most long-running comic books.

Followers of the series are already aware of the Infinity Stones, MacGuffin devices containing unearthly power. Individually, they give their bearers amazing power. Combined, their power is insurmountable.

Thanos is determined to bring them together so that he might alleviate the universe of its greatest ills. Overpopulation has led to all troubles everywhere, so Thanos hopes arbitrarily to wipe out half the living beings, a terrible solution, but a last resort where one is needed. And since it is the only cure for what ails the universe, Thanos of course must let nothing or nobody get in his way.

The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the citizens of Wakanda, Doctor Strange, and Spiderman try to get in his way.

It’s a huge, far-flung plot involving a ridiculous number of important, charismatic characters with really only one villain, and it mostly works. It’s difficult to point to any one character and say, “That one didn’t get his or her fair share of screen time,” although at least three heroes are noticeably absent. I’m partial to Scarlet Witch and would have liked more of her, but everyone pretty much gets a nice, important part to play.

I really like the score, too.

I’ve heard criticism of the film’s pacing, but jumps in action from one set of heroes working on one part of the Infinity War to other sets of heroes working on their parts provide interesting scenery changes that pace the seemingly nonstop action rather well.  It’s a fun, engaging, cool (wait ‘til you see Thor’s weapon) movie, and much better than the first two Avengers films.


Review: Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo

Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984)
Lucinda Dickey, Adolfo “Shabba Doo” Quiñones, Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers, Ice-T. Directed by Sam Firstenberg.

“The evil developers are going to tear down our community youth center. We need a whole lot of money to buy the property, or this is going to become a mall!” “I know! Let’s put on a show to raise the funds!”

I try not to judge a movie for recycling this plot, not because it’s not tired and cliche, but because I have to admit I’ve enjoyed it from time to time. Of course, I was fourteen, and the movies starred young Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, but whatever. Maybe Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo is someone else’s Babes on Broadway.

At first this film is exactly what I expected, a lot of bad dialogue constructed to tie the dance numbers together. Only it’s worse, because the dance numbers are boring. But then, beginning about midway through, they get creative and interesting, including a fun number with dancing on the walls and ceiling, and a hospital number with brooms or mops (my memory’s hazy and it was very late at night when I watched this).

shout-out to this actress who was in two films and is completely untraceable on the internet today. not that i’ve tried.

I found myself kind of liking most of the central characters, too, which I cannot explain, because they pretty much come right out of the stock characters assembly kit. Shout-out to Sabrina Garcia, who plays a Spanish-speaking love interest and is maybe the prettiest actress I’ve seen in any hip hop film, and I’ve seen Rae Dawn Chong in Beat Street. The music is unmemorable but after the first couple of numbers, it’s not bad.

This is supposed to be the good movie in the Breakin’ trilogy. Now I have to see how much worse the others could be.

Seriously, not a bad watch.


Friday 5: Two Retros

I have several Friday 5s to catch up on. Here are two.

From April 27: Know When to Fold ‘Em

  1. What did you last place into a file folder?
    I’m not usually very good about keeping things filed, but I’m trying to keep my space at work tidy, so I take a little bit of time each week for filing.  The most recent thing was a couple of receipts for money orders.  I pay my rent via money order.  I keep the stubs for a year or so, just in case.
  2. What do you know how to fold a piece of paper into?
    Origami cranes, of course, but I can also do boats, the fortune-telling flip-flop thing, that triangle that makes WHAP! sounds, and a mobius strip.  Why did the chicken cross the mobius strip?  To get to the same side!
  3. What’s your laundry-folding procedure like?
    Okay.  For reasons I don’t want to get into, I take my laundry with me when I visit my folks on Sundays.  I can usually cram the whole week’s worth into my gym bag, but it works better if I fold the laundry.  So all week, my dirty laundry piles up in my living room.  Then Saturday night, I stack my work pants in a neat pile, fold the pile and put it in the bag.  I next stack all my dress shirts, fold them neatly, and put them in the bag.  Then my shorts and jeans similarly, then all my t-shirts the same way.  Stack, then fold as one.  Then my boxers.  My socks just get shoved on top, then my bed linens if I decide to wash them.When I get to my parents’ house, I take each pile out, unfold it, shake the individual items loose, and start the machine.  Yes, I do not separate my items because I just don’t have enough laundry for that.

    When it’s clean and dried, I put everything back the same way.  Stack, then fold as one.  When I get it home a couple of hours later, it comes out of the bag and then hung.  I hang everything except my socks.  Dresser drawers do not work for me; I’ve given up on them completely, at least for now.  Instead everything is put on a hanger and hung on a rod in my living room.  Socks go into a gift bag I keep next to my desk, since I sit at my desk to put my socks and shoes on each morning.

    Yes.  I live alone.  Why do you ask?

  4. When do you next expect to invite someone into your fold?
    The next Camp NaNoWriMo is in July, and we Honolulu writers usually welcome at least one new person to the evening Skype sessions.  That’s probably the next time I expect to welcome anyone new to any of my folds.
  5. When have you slept on a foldaway bed?
    When we were kids, we had a foldaway bed for our friends’ use whenever someone slept over.  It was such a novelty that we loved being allowed to sleep on it when visiting relatives took our beds.  That was a very long time ago.  I’ve slept on many folding futons as an adult while visiting friends.  When i lived in Hilo, my regular bed was a nice folding mattress I put on the floor of my closet so the rest of my bedroom could be for desk space.  After two years of sleeping on it, it was pretty flat and no longer comfy.  I have a folding futon in my living room that I never use anymore.  The futon has worn thin enough that I can feel the slats of the pallet right through the mattress.  I plan to get a new one in the next year or so.  The last time I slept on it was maybe ten years ago.  Maybe longer.


This one from April 5: Aloon Again, Naturally

  1. With which Looney Tunes character do you have the most in common?
    You know what?  I hate Tweety.  But I think it’s Tweety.  Every optimistic.  Passive but safe.  Naive.  How do I even stand myself?
  2. Who or what are your metaphorical Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote?
    My metaphorical Road Runner is literary success, on which I still haven’t given up hope.  Of course, I’m not pursuing it as doggedly or as single-mindedly as Mr. Coyote (Genius).  My Wile E. Coyote is death, at least for now.  Can’t catch me, Mister Death!  Oh wait, I’m changing my first answer.  My Road Runner is a good night’s sleep!
  3. What’s up, doc?
    Attended my friend Momi’s doctoral dissertation defense today.  She did a great job, and I was really proud.  I’m suuuper tired right now (slept great Friday and Saturday nights, but terribly Sunday and Monday nights) but seeing if I have enough in me to have dinner with her and her (new) husband while they’re still in town.   I’m not thrilled about the husband part, but for the sake of this friendship whatever.  And now that she’s not still working on this doctorate, she doesn’t need to come to Manoa from Hilo anymore, which means who knows when I’ll get to see her again?  Ugh.  I think I just talked myself into it.
  4. When did you last hear some opera music?
    Man, that’s a good question.  It’s been quite a while.  Maybe when I saw Renee Fleming with the Honolulu Symphony, which was more than ten years ago.  That can’t be right, but maybe it is.
  5. What’s a good life lesson you learned from Looney Tunes?
    Watch where you point that thing, and I shoulda made that left toin at Albakoykee.

Review: Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982)
Sandy Dennis, Cher, Karen Black, Sudie Bond, Kathy Bates, Mark Patton. Written by Ed Graczyk. Directed by Robert Altman.

It’s September 30, 1975 in a small Texas town not far from where James Dean once filmed Giant, and it’s the twenty-year anniversary of Dean’s death in a car accident. The all-female James Dean fan club in this town reunites in the old Woolworth’s store where they used to meet. Some have been in regular contact, while others haven’t been seen in a very long time.

It’s a great setup, and the title all by itself demands at least one viewing, no matter what the film is about.

At first, it’s pretty impressive. The acting and actors are interesting, with Cher reminding you first that she’s far too talented for her smallish filmography, then Sandy Dennis and Kathy Bates sending you to IMDb to see what else they were in. Seriously, Altman does a really good job of framing the characters and actors in a way that really gets you involved.

The narrative switches between 1975 and 1955, with Altman using a mirror and some camera tricks to indicate the time segues. At first it’s a neat effect, but it becomes tiresome about midway through. The entire film does the same thing. What starts as a bunch of interesting characters and impressive acting becomes a your-turn-my-turn exchange of revelations and overwrought delivery that might have played well on stage but is exhausting on screen. After the first ninety minutes, I just wanted it to end already.

I’ll say one thing that surprised me was Mark Patton as Joe, a homosexual friend of the James Dean Disciples in 1955. Patton is the star of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, and the reason I was spurred to finally seeing this film. Patton is gay, and that second Freddy Krueger film has all kinds of homosexual subtext, and the actor’s career is a really interesting story. Turns out the guy’s a pretty good actor. At least in the first half of this movie.

While I admire Cher enough to see just about anything she’s in, this is not the best example of her work. Or anyone else’s.


Some People Say Whatever Comes to Mind

The Oakland Athletics beat the Baltimore Orioles Saturday, putting them one game over the .500 mark. I have a feeling that’s the way the season’s going to be. A few games over, a few games under, and hopefully a game or two over by season’s end. It’s a good team. It’s just not good enough, and I don’t think it’s for lack of talent. I think the team just needs to play together for a full season. The same guys next year, I think, will be a contending team.

Lefty starter Sean Manaea pitched a no-hitter a couple of weekends ago and was the AL pitcher of the month for April. Jed Lowrie is among the AL leaders in RBI. They have a couple of great young hitters in Khris Davis, Matt Chapman, and Matt Olson. It’s a fun team to follow.

Lava is fountaining out of the streets in a neighborhood in the southeast section of Hawaii island. This volcano has been erupting for 35 years, and it has wiped out entire communities, beloved landmarks, and historic buildings. But that’s been lava running down the slopes, creeping wherever it will, sometimes into the sea, sometimes over barren plains of hardened basalt, and sometimes right through neighborhoods.

This, however, is crazy and amazing. Fissures are opening up in neighborhood streets, and lava is shooting twenty feet into the air. It’s literally awesome. Add the thunder-like explosion sounds as lava spews violently from the fissures and earthquakes with seemingly endless aftershocks, and it’s all anyone around here can talk about. We’re grown pretty jaded about lava, but none of us has ever seen this.

This planet is terrifying and beautiful.

Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Rusler, Clug Gulager, Hope Lange, Robert Englund. Written by David Caskin. Directed by Jack Sholder.

On a budget of three million dollars, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge made just shy of thirty million dollars at the box office. While that’s far from blockbuster status, its investors probably didn’t complain about that kind of return, which explains the nine films in this series. They don’t have to be gigantic: they just have to be big enough.

And this sequel to Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street is good enough. Good enough to sell an adequate number of tickets, good enough not to feel gypped, good enough to warrant a third film, and good enough for me to add the third film to my queue.

Except for Robert Englund in the title role, none of the actors returns for this one, which is set in the same house in the same town. Five years after Nancy Thompson defeated Freddy Krueger, Jesse Walsh and his family move into the Thompsons’ old house. Jesse has nightmares of being stalked, of course, and he discovers the diary where Nancy recorded her dreams.

Freddy possesses Jesse, so now real-world victims don’t have to dream about him in order for Freddy to do his damage. He takes control of Jesse’s wakeful body to kill Jesse’s gym teacher, schoolmates, and others, but he cannot kill Lisa, the girl Jesse has a crush on. Lisa realizes that Jesse’s fear gives Freddy his power.

About midway through the movie’s eighty-five minutes, I was struck with a weird sense that this movie was more thoughtful than it needed to be. I expected something slightly less than its predecessor, since that was written by Wes Craven, a person whose name I know, while this was written by David Caskin, whom I had never heard of.

Without Wikipedia’s breakdown, I don’t know that I would have identified the film’s homoerotic themes, but I definitely picked up the intimacy between Jesse and the other male characters in the film, especially his friend Ron and Freddy himself. I’m not saying A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 is The Great Gatsby for its deep explorations of the American identity or whatever, but even a little bit of thoughtfulness about subtext is more than I expected. It gives this movie a bit more to recommend it than just its slasher sensibilities.

I said a bit.