Previously on FTCH, there was a Fantastic Planet, fantastic birthday cookies, and two fantastic detectives. We asked you to hold on with cocoa popcorn and sleeping beauties. I am proud to report that my niece received a Bronze Medal last weekend in the Ice Dancing competition. This week we had days in the 70s and days in the 20s. I was able to fit in a college baseball game with my beloved Michigan Wolverines playing here in North Texas to kick off the season. This week has Detective Poirot, an Aztec Mummy, and rabbits on the run. There’s a bank robbery, puffed cheese, and an Oreo bar that you will love madly. Remember, FTCH was made possible by contributions from readers like you.
Pop Culture Ephemera
- The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972) (Directed by Philip Kaufman): “I can’t think of one, can you? I’ve searched back through the crannies of my mind. I can’t think of one single honest man we ever robbed.” – Jesse James. Philip Kaufman is a name that goes under the radar for a man that has created so much entertainment for us. He wrote and directed this Jesse James and Cole Younger story. He wrote The Outlaw Josey Wales and the Raiders of the Lost Ark‘s story along with creating many of the characters . Throw in writing and directing The Right Stuff, Henry & June, and The Unbearable Lightness of Being and you have a quality career that really gets kickstarted with this magnificent Western. Robert Duvall makes an excellent Jesse James but it’s much more a story of the younger James brothers and Cole Younger (Cliff Robertson). This is a rare bank heist film that puts the characters first and unfolds at a leisurely pace. I recommend it highly.
- MST3K – “The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy” (S.1 E.2) (1989) (Comedy): “The one says ‘Flush twice, the cafeteria is a long way away.'” These early episodes from The Comedy Channel are adorably juvenile. I should say, even more juvenile than usual. There is a Commander Cody short from Radar Men From the Moon that works better for the riffs than the feature, which is the third of the Aztec Mummy films. The series is a big mess and each film requires a scientist narrator to keep explaining what previously happened or is currently happening. The Aztec Mummy isn’t on screen as much as the evil scientist and the Robot doesn’t have knees. I really enjoy the Joel riffs. His reference here to Dr. Strangelove (“I wish we had one of them Doomsday Machines”) is clever. But for this episode, they are just too few and far between.
- The Doors – “Love Her Madly” (1971) (from L.A. Woman): “So sing a lonely song / Of a deep blue dream” The first single off their last album L.A. Woman was written by Robbie Krieger. The lyrics aren’t trying to hide anything or be obtuse. This isn’t the Lizard King taking peyote and writing poetry to be sung over ten minutes. It’s easy to fall in love with the keyboard here as on most of their songs. That solo at about 1:30 in the song is pretty catchy. But don’t sleep on the bass doing lots of solid work buried deep in the mix. This is such a simple and lovely rock tune.
- Death on the Nile – (Directed by Kenneth Branagh) (2022): “Someone is dead. The crime is murder. The murderer is one of you.” The follow-up to Murder on the Orient Express is a bit darker and a tad more hit and miss than the previous film. The cast is tremendous. Branagh has so much fun as Poirot. Tom Bateman returns as Bouc, Gal Gadot as Linnet Ridgeway, and classic duo French and Saunders as her godmother and her traveling nurse really drive the film. Part of the miss for me was Armie Hammer as Simon Doyle who I felt didn’t have chemistry with either of his love interests. It’s an old-fashioned closed room murder film told with modern camerawork that tries to find a way to straddle both worlds. I feel like the previous film worked because it embraced telling an older story. The CGI Egypt scenery would have been perfect if it was more as an establishing shot. Making it an ongoing part of the film took away some of my enjoyment on the boat. I did find this ultimately to be a good story, well directed, acting a bit cardboard in parts but a fun way to spend a couple hours.
- Watership Down (1978) (Directed by Martin Rosen): “You want to run, I’ll run with you.” Last week I watched the equally political Fantastic Planet (1973). That movie reflected the political movement against the Soviet Union in the early Seventies. This film based upon the 1972 novel (which I mean to reread this year) is a political allegory more related to the middle portion of the decade. The rabbits fleeing oppression are very well characterized. The world is a scary place and they are always under the danger of predators. This is a story about accepting fate (do you let the stream take you where it is going?) or determining your own future. The animation is hand drawn and looks unlike films of today. There’s so much here to love and learn.
Best of the Rest
- Another Super Bowl come and gone. A quick rundown of the ads that got me thinking one way or another. (Not included are Frito-Lays “Golden Memories” and Planet Fitness “What’s Gotten Into Lindsay” which both disappointed me.)
- FTX – “Don’t Miss Out”: “We’re not animals. We go outside like humans.” The Larry David commercial works even better in the extended version (above) where you don’t miss out on coffee and the dishwasher. One would hope that HBO is paying attention here and that time travel Larry David is announced soon.
- General Motors – “Dr. EV-il”: It was really a treat to see the cast back together. The plot of the commercial was too condensed in what aired and the better version is out on the internet.
- Coinbase – “QR Code”: So, so, so many props to the company for a 60-second ad with the QR Code bouncing around the screen like a DVD logo from 1998. I didn’t open it but if that ad had gone another 15 seconds, I bet I would.
- Nissan – “Thrill Driver”: Mostly just for Eugene Levy in that long hair.
- Amazon Studios – “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power“: Of all the trailers and previews, this one excited me the most. Despite the faux pas of using “rings” twice in the title, everything else about this looks top notch so far.
- Most of the time I’m going to click on a story that includes the words “Victorian Murder Doll” in the headline. The next thing that comes to mind is a simple question of why they felt the need to put “creepy” in front of ‘Victorian Murder Doll”. Is there any version of “Victorian Murder Doll” that is hilarious or peaceful? The second thing that is going to stick with me is that the damn thing is in Keller which isn’t far enough away from my town for comfort.
- This time it was an actual “snake on the plane”. The problem in my mind isn’t that the AirAsia flight was forced to make an emergency landing. I’d be thankful for that. That the “long snake” was slithering in the overhead light fixture is the first issue. The other point of contention is that it was described as “unexpected”, leading one to wonder if there are “expected” snakes on the plane. Isn’t this why we have a “No-Fly” list? I’m sure there’s a follow-up story where they tell us not to worry, that the snake was released in a nearby field.
Sunday Morning Tuneage Flashback
- On the Sunday Morning Tuneage of 9/17/2006, I was excited about the upcoming television season. I predicted the biggest success for Heroes and Ugly Betty (one of those I never watched). I declared quick failure for Happy Hour, Knights of Prosperity, and Jericho (I’ve forgotten the first two completely). I was also excited about Smith (apparently a show with Ray Liotta that I also never tuned into). I was reminded that what I miss the most is that these were they best days for the Saturday night Sci-Fi Channel movie. This week was no different.
- Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep (2006) (Sci-Fi): aka Deadly Water on streaming services these days. What caught my attention back in 2006 was that it’s a sailor trying to find the giant squid that killed his parents when he was a child. This film is competently directed by Tibor Takacs. The man may have directed Mansquito (actually much better than it sounds) but he also directed the fairly spooky The Gate (1987). The cast is not completely terrible either. Probably the most notable being Cory Monteith who would later play Finn on Glee. There are some nice shots of open water and solid underwater filming. There’s a general lack of Kraken footage that is probably what keeps this from being a true B-Movie classic. But I’m not sad to have watched it again this week.
Flash From The Past
What the Hell Did I Put In My Mouth?
Oreo has been a co-branded ice cream before with mixed results. Now they are coming out with their own brand of treats (which I guess would be their own form of co-branding since they have to partner with an ice cream company). These bars are a great start. They are dipped in a coating of crushed Oreo wafers and the ice cream is a tasty version of a cookies and cream. I’m thrilled with these as summer approaches.
Cheez-It Puff’d: Double Cheese
The appeal of the Cheez-It is the crunchy little square of cheese. I approve of the enhancements that make it more crunchy. I’m less impressed with the puffy and airy variety. Other than the square shape, you would be hard pressed to distinguish this from a Cheese Puff. Cheez-Its are wheat-based crackers and I’m having a hard time getting over this corn-based snack. There are similar-tasting snacks out there and you aren’t missing out by skipping this incarnation.
Hostess Key Lime Cupcakes
In some ways, this is the product that helped create this section of FTCH. Last summer when starting this blog back up again was still formulating in my head, I happened to see these at a store while on vacation. I didn’t pick them up but they stuck in my head as something I really wanted to try even though I don’t really eat Hostess Cupcakes. Fast forward to February and I finally located some in a dusty corner of the grocery store. Now remember, I’m the guy that went on and on about Lime Skittles. So do you think I like these? Heck ya. It’s the perfect summer treat (like the Oreo Bar) with a nice golden cake against the tart lime icing. The filling is like a good whipped topping. Consider me a big fan.
“Don’t ya love her madly?
Want to be her daddy?
Don’t ya love her face?
Don’t ya love her as she’s walkin’ out the door?” – Jim Morrison