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Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Starlight Express”

Dear Frank,

It is time, my friend, to tell you the tale of the first musical I ever loved. A little ditty, penned by maestro of cheesy musicals Andrew Lloyd Webber, entitled Starlight Express.

If I recall correctly, my exposure to Starlight Express began with its end. When you were a kid, Frank, did you have to sing songs in recitals? We did, with our teachers drawing from an eclectic mix of pop music and musicals. I do not know what it was like to be a grown adult, listening to a bunch of eleven-year-olds singing Bryan Adams’ “Everything I Do, I Do It For You,” but I’m sure it was pretty memorable.

Anyways, when my third-grade class sang Starlight‘s big finale number, “A Light At the End of the Tunnel,” I liked the song enough to ask my parents for the original cast recording.

Because I am an old person, the soundtrack came on cassette tape. Two cassette tapes, and it, along with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles soundtrack, were often to be heard blasting from my clock stereo’s speakers for the next several years. (In case it wasn’t clear, Frank, I have AWESOME taste in music.)

The funny thing is, despite not having had a tape player for the last decade or so, I still remember large chunks of Starlight‘s lyrics, which I have been singing in the shower for the last twenty-odd years. Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “The Apple”

Dear Frank,

I was talking with my dad on the phone last night, and here is an excerpt from the conversation we had:

Dad: What are you up to tonight?
Me: Watching The Apple, I guess. Have you heard of it?
Dad: Maybe? Let’s see… [sound of typing, then laughing] Oh, yes. I remember it.
Me: Should I start drinking now?
Dad: I’m looking at IMDB and one actress plays the following roles — “Vampire / Star Rock / Mr. Boogalow’s Receptionist / Keyboard Player in ‘BIM’ Band / One of Ashley’s ‘Lap-mates’ at Mr. Boogalow’s Penthouse Party.”
Me: Oh good.

So The Apple! I have no idea why it’s called that. The movie opens with screaming teens rushing to see a music competition called Worldvision (NO RESEMBLANCE WHATSOEVER TO EUROVISION), and boy you can see why they’re so excited to be there! Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Southland Tales”

Dear Frank,

Let’s get right to it. It is hot, I have had two drinks and what I know about Southland Tales at this moment is that I am glad to have had those two drinks before starting to watch it. So here we go!

For the record (she wrote while Netflix Instant loaded), I actually like and respect writer/director Richard Kelly to some extent, largely thanks to the same instincts that lead me to seeing Sucker Punch opening weekend. Short version: I respect crazy when it operates in cohesion with creativity. This, like many of my other annoying habits, hasn’t done me a tremendous amount of good.

Opening scene: A children’s party in Texas is interrupted by nuclear bombs. Whoops! Then it’s time for a dramatic exposition/news report hybrid: In the not-too-distant-future of 2008 (this movie was released theatrically in 2007), the draft gets reinstated, World War 3 has begun and everything is the worst thanks to the Middle East and our dependence on oil. On the plus side, things go well for the Republicans. Short version of all this exposition — American has disintegrated and we’re all fucked. Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “The Nines”

Dear Frank,

The trouble with Netflix is that as the quality of its library improves, the stockpile of “interesting-sounding movies that I might try to watch when I have some spare time and feel like it” threatens to explode and consume a human soul.

Mentioning this is a half-assed way of apologizing to Dogtooth, which I swear to God I am gonna see at some point, and also leads to my explanation for why instead of watching Dogtooth this weekend, I watched the little-seen Ryan Reynolds flick The Nines — it was literally above Dogtooth in the queue.

The Nines also isn’t in Danish and has Ryan Reynolds in it. But only a shallow person might point that out. Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Tron”

Dear Frank,

Sometimes, the holes in your pop culture knowledge seem understandable — the world is vast and wide, and Dirty Dancing isn’t every young man’s cup of tea. But you haven’t seen Tron? Completely bizarre. I mean, sure, it’s been a decade or so since I saw it, maybe two decades… Okay, maybe I don’t really remember it at all. So I’m glad that you’re kicking my ass into watching it again, especially since Tron Legacy is looking pretty disco. (I am attempting to return, as we speak, to an time where the word “disco” meant “cool.”)

So first off, the first shot of Tron? I guess the Wachowski Brothers didn’t just rip off your favorite French philosophers when they made The Matrix — we zoom through the title into code and hardware renderings, which then dissolve to good ol’ Flynn’s Arcade, your friendly neighborhood 1980s-era video game haberdashery. There, an unseen player is rocking a lightcycle video game — which we then zoom inside!

Because here’s where the Disney magic starts, Frank! See, everyone in this movie wearing nifty glowy costumes isn’t a person, but an anthropomorphized software program living under the totalitarian rule of the Master Control program, which either absorbs smaller programs to make itself bigger or forces less useful programs to compete in games. (This is totally not at all a metaphor for the Soviet Union.) Read the rest of this entry

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