The Monster and the Ape #14: Monkey is Not Made for Defeat

The Monster and the Ape #14 His Last Flight For those of you playing The Monster and the Ape home game, Chapter 14 can be found here, with Spanish subtitles. Sharp-eyed viewer James pointed out that I failed to recap one incident that happened in the last chapter, a segment which, at the time, seemed boring and pointless. Now that we’re here at the exciting, penultimate chapter of the serial, I realize the scene had moderate value. Let’s go back, shall we? Cue the meedlie-meedlie synth music and wavy flashback screen wipe: As you will remember in Chapter 13, the police call Ken to tell him the monkey has escaped from his cage, so Ken and Prof. Arnold head to the zoo to check it out. While there, Ken insists Arnold go find a zoo attendant so they can ask him questions, but while gone, Ken wanders into the cage and discovers the secret door leading to Ernst’s hideout. What I didn’t tell you is that when Arnold finally returns with a zoo employee, as Ken requested, Ken is long gone, irritating the zookeeper and making Arnold look like a complete dink. After the zookeeper snots off, Arnold, because he’s about as smart as Ken, wanders around and finds the secret passageway himself. Now here in Chapter 14, we begin with a recap of Ken in the room that Thor the gorilla was left behind in, after Ernst and his henchmen ran off. Thor and Ken struggle and Ken’s gun … Continue reading

The Truth About Emanuel (2013)

The Truth About Emanuel ★★☆☆☆ Dir: Francesca Gregorini Tribeca Films 96 minutes Released in select theaters January 10, 2014. DVD available on February 5, 2014. – “I’m just a girl,” Emanuel tells us in the opening narration, “a murderer without a motive.” This troubled teen (Kaya Scodelario) has grown up with the strange guilt of knowing her mother died in childbirth, and now finds herself in an uncomfortable house with her father (Alfred Molina) and Janice, her goofy new stepmother (Frances O’Connor). When the beautiful Linda (Jessica Biel) and her newborn move in next door, Emanuel finds herself drawn to the woman, who resembles her own long-dead mother, but soon she discovers Linda is living an almost inexplicable lie. The world of The Truth About Emanuel is a frightening one, a place where both the concept and reality of motherhood is an emotional horror show; the terror comes not from the creation of a child but after the birth, which is a somewhat unique take and refreshing to see, in an admittedly bizarre kind of way. This universe, framed in the kind of unnaturally peaceful suburban neighborhoods used to such effect in films like Shadow of a Doubt (1943) and Halloween (1978), offers real promise in building toward a nasty sociocultural claustrophobia. It’s a tight, quiet, all-white suburban world, literally every woman in the film ensconced in a picture-perfect home that masks a host of medical and emotional issues attached to their sexuality and fertility. The extremity of this situation … Continue reading

The Monster and the Ape #13: Abandon All Monkeys, Ye Who Enter Here

The Monster and the Ape #13 The Gorilla at Large   For those playing The Monster and the Ape home game, Chapter 13 can be found here, with Spanish subtitles. We listen to our increasingly-less-enthusiastic narrator for a second, then pick up in the middle of the car chase we left off with last week, where Ken’s taxi, without explanation, suddenly gets in front of and perpendicular to the truck full of Metalogen he was chasing after. Today, folks, I have the explanation for this thing that is happening: That’s not the truck transporting the element. In my defense, the truck carrying Metalogen looked like this through the entire last episode: Between the poor quality film and my assumption that this serial can’t afford to rent more than two vehicles at a time, I figured every truck was the same truck. Anyhow, this completely unrelated truck t-bones the taxi, but Ken of course escapes without a scratch. Nobody ever gets killed, just like in “G.I. Joe” cartoons. What’s strange — and by “strange” I mean “really crappy writing” — is that there is no mention of anyone in the truck at all, injured or otherwise, and when a doctor comes along, he literally steps past the taxi driver who is shown as being moderately injured, just to get to Ken and tend to him first, even though Ken doesn’t look even a bit distressed. Back at the lair of the bad guys, Ernst is pleased to see his henchmen arrive … Continue reading

The Monster and the Ape #12: The Dimmest Flame, the Lightest Shadow

The Monster and the Ape #12 The Shadow of Destiny   Our excitable narrator has apparently fueled up with a quick snack between the last chapter and this one, as he manages three or four sentences during the recap, which is not only more than usual, but actually helpful, considering the footage of the first third of this chapter looks like this: I question how visible this footage was when it was new.   As you will recall, Ken caught Ernst’s henchman Mead trying to infiltrate his dig in the sewer tunnels, hoping to discover if Ken had discovered the Metalogen buried within. Ken found Mead out, beat him so hard he said a dirty word in a kids’ serial, then believed him when he promised to show Ken the location of the Metalogen disk. Or Ernst’s control for the robot, I’m honestly not sure. This time in our recap, when Mead tricks Ken into standing on a trap door, we see Mead close the lid and scurry off to brag to his co-workers. They all pile out of their secret hidden room to look at the funny Ken drowning to death, but the cops arrive, so they scurry back. It’s the return of the Existential Detective! And he’s looking right at us!   Ken has climbed out to the edge of the pit just under the door and, despite having no way to see or hear the detective, nor any idea of what specific mechanism controls the trapdoor, tells … Continue reading

The Monster and the Ape #11: A Banal Madness

The Monster and the Ape #11 The Mad Professor For those of you playing The Monster and the Ape home game, the Spanish-subtitled version can be found here. Though we are finally on the downslope of this serial when the excitement is ostensibly about to get more, well, exciting, this chapter’s recap is a snooze. Our formerly excited narrator, who is now not just downtrodden but downtrodden squared, as Bill Hicks probably said first before the joke was stolen by Denis Leary, manages one sentence and sends us directly into the fistfight that concluded our last chapter. This time, however, we see some of the terrific film production in action: It’s hard to tell from this screen grab, but that black lump at the bottom is a stunt man who is supposed to be hiding underneath the table in the foreground. At least two stunt men can be seen scrambling in and out of the area under the table, switching places with the actors as needed, and even though it’s so obvious as to be distracting, a second take wasn’t done. Because why would it? That would have cost 37¢, far too much money to be spent on something like this. During the fistfight, you can also briefly catch a glimpse of Ken’s striped boxers as he’s dragged across the floor. It’s a fight scene and you’d think he would wear briefs for… well, you know, but he’s in those baggy boxers that are so useless that he might as … Continue reading