Saturday, August 14, 2010

Elvis On Tour, Julie and Julia + The Pit

Elvis On Tour. This is going to date me or make me seem really old but too late, here goes: the first concert I ever saw was Elvis Presley at the Mabee Center in Tulsa during his 1976 tour. I was seven years old. My mom, who is a massive Elvis fan, thought my first concert experience should be Elvis. That was very nice of her as whenever the topic of "first concerts" comes up in conversation, I pull out that big gun and it's hard to top. Memories of that show: Elvis coming out with his orchestral theme song, a huge band on stage, getting in trouble for banging the person in front of me with the poster I bought at the merch table and seeing Elvis in varied sequin-studded jumpsuits.

Maybe because of this show, I've always loved Elvis' 1970s music. Huge in scope, wildly all over the map in style, bombastic and over the top--people mock it but I really like it. Moody Blue (which my mom has on blue vinyl and I wore out on our home hi-fi)? An amazing record! So, for one night only a few weeks ago, a few hundred theatres across the U.S. showed Elvis On Tour, a concert documentary on the fifteen night 1972 tour. I saw it in a packed house with who else? That's right, my mom.

Elvis On Tour is a wonderful blend of concert footage of songs from the era and some behind the scene action. It's a nice mix between music and Elvis hanging out in the limo or about to head on stage, nervously pacing off-stage. The impromptu gospel singing is always a treat to witness. Elvis truly loved his gospel. The documentary uses the "multiscreen" to set it apart--often using the visuals of multiple cameras on screen to give a complete experience of what the tour felt like. It's busy on the screen but makes it hard not to find something to watch/listen to as the film unfolds. Even if you think you don't like Elvis but are a music fan, Elvis On Tour might make you rethink your position.

Julie and Julia. This Nora Ephron comedy from 2009 is underwhelming in almost every way. Superficial and trite from beginning to end, I wasn't drawn in, I didn't think it was humorous, I didn't like any of the characters and even the food didn't do much for me. Amy Adams, who I'm generally fond of, is completely annoying as a whiny, self-absorbed blogger who attempts to cook every recipe in Child's landmark cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking over the course of a single year.

The story bounces back and forth between Child as she discovers her love of cooking French food in Paris and Adams' Julie as she discovers the power of the blog to escape from her disturbing day job as a counselor for victims of 9/11. Between the two, I'd choose to have just stuck with Child's story. Unfortunately, we get as much of Julie and this story is irritating as all get out. Ephron likes to deal in the world of fluff and her lighter than air tone just seems cloying to me most of the time. Julie and Julia is another example of that from her.

The Pit. Slumber Party 2: Join Us happened a few weeks ago but one of the highlights was the screening of this little seen 1981 Canadian gem The Pit. Of the hundred people in the theatre when it screened, not many had seen it and there were lots of guffaws, laughter and disbelief at what was happening in this oddball film. The Pit comes off as a kinked up, twisted, adult after school special circa late 1970s as there is a weird message buried in the midst of the story.

Jamie (awesomely played by a never to be seen again child actor named Sammy Snyders) has a hard time fitting in with adults and kids his age. He's happy to spend time with himself, his turtle, chatting it up with Teddy (his stuffed teddy bear) and trying to feed the unknown creatures he's discovered in a pit in the woods. They have glowing red eyes and Jamie tries all kinds of food for them--from candy to a darker source for meals.

The Pit is a fun film when you watch it with a few people but let me say that during the middle of the night, when no one knows what is coming at them--it is an explosive crowd-pleaser. The theatre was eating The Pit up from the pervy bits to the funny bits to the terrific ending. It's hard to find films no one has seen to screen as a secret film during Slumber Party but The Pit, like Hausu in 2009, is going to be hard to top when Slumber Party 3: Payback comes in July 2011.


Anonymous said...

Nice link between movie one and three could be "Let me be your teddy bear"

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

Complete accident. But true.

thehiddenstaircase said...

i agree about j and j...annoying as all get out the 'modern half' with self obssesion. i wanted just the julia child part. that would have made a better movie. esp. b'c i've heard stories of her later years doing pbs shows on tv where she'd be half-sauced on wine, but fun and friendly.

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

Staircase: virtually everyone I've talked to about Julia/Julie says the same thing--the modern part was crap.