WTF Commercials, Part 3

I am highly intrigued by the Sprint Framily, also known as the Frobinsons.

The original Framily commercials made a lot more sense–a family, or a group of people who were always together, like a band, could save money by adding more people to their family phone plan, regardless of whether or not they were actually family. Even if they thought someone was creepy or annoying, the point was that they could save a lot of money by adding them.

Then, presumably, the admen behind the Framily wanted to give us a really unusual group of family members who could, despite their differences, express their love of one another through texting and data plans. Instead, we have a disjointed cast of characters that create a unit that Seth MacFarlane would find unrealistic.

So apparently, the mom is a mom, the dad is a hamster, the sons are a hipster and a hillbilly, and the daughter is a French child who is, for reasons I cannot fathom, surrounded by animated birds at all times. Is she Snow White? Is she from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Why do I find her a stranger member of the Framily than the hamster-dad?

I get the general intent of this ad, but it was a lot more direct in its original incarnation. The Framily is charming, but I don’t really get why they switched to this model. If they had been turned down from other phone companies but then accepted by Sprint, or maybe they were all so different and needed lots of features in their phone plan that Sprint could provide, that would actually make sense. Instead, they just kind of…dance and hate Goths.

 

Your Wife Has a Lovely Neck? Back up, Buddy.

Nosferatu is on Netflix. The original one, not the most recent update (though I liked that one a lot). This one has been spit-shined and fixed up as best as they can for a movie that’s almost 100 years old, complete with a re-recording of the symphonic soundtrack. It’s pretty legit.

The movie is based on Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, and Nosferatu is a simplified version of the book (with names changed, to make it more German). A man named Hutter is sent to the wilds of eastern Europe to negotiate the sale of a house back in his hometown of Wisborg to the spooky Count Orlok. When he arrives, he realizes that Orlok is a vampire, and he must escape before he is destroyed by Orlok’s evil. Though Hutter gets away, Orlok begins his journey to Wisborg, bringing death and disease with him. Finally, Hutter’s young wife Ellen sacrifices herself, distracting the vampire with her own blood until the sun rises and Orlok dies.

Though I actually preferred the ending of the updated Nosferatu, there’s some real creepiness to this one. It’s German expressionism at its finest, maybe only second to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (though infinitely easier to understand). Even the intensely obvious stop-motion is spooky as hell. It doesn’t quite have the subtlety of the novel, mostly because of the necessary overacting in silent movies, but it’s still chilling and fun.

(No appearance of the hash-slinging slasher…but it’s fun that Spongebob references Nosferatu anyway, as in the gif above).

 

Odds and Ends

A few things I’ve been thinking about:

  • Snowpiercer. It’s playing at the Charles theater, which would involve me venturing out to Baltimore, but it just might be worth it because all my film major friends are going ape for it. Anyone seen it? Thoughts?
  • Cracked.com’s Luis Prada had a great little article on his own WTF commercials, including the DirectTV puppet ones, which actually gave me the idea for WTF commercials in the first place. I really, really need to know how a human man and a puppet woman can have a child. I can only assume the puppet boy is the product of a previous relationship, because otherwise he should be like a weird Pinocchio creature.
  • Going back to my list of shame–anyone know where I can find The Life Aquatic online (without getting my computer a weird Russian virus)? I mean, I understand I might just have to rent it on Amazon or whatever, but it’s worth a shot.

WTF Commercials, Part 2

Here’s another commercial I’ve been seeing a lot lately that I have questions about:

I straight-up love this commercial. I think it’s hilarious. But that doesn’t mean I don’t find it slightly disturbing that this couple is ready to run back to their hotel room because the innocent, screaming, tormented woman is turning them on. It’s the utter guilelessness that gets me. This is no deep, dark secret. This guy has no problem if his friends and neighbors know his interests include erotic witch burnings–to him, it’s mildly naughty at best. Which leads me to wonder, what else is this couple into? Is it a specific witch-hunting fetish, or are they just generally a fan of false accusations? When are they getting their own TLC special?

Hey, bro, at least nobody really died at your visit to Colonial Williamsburg, which honestly does look like a lot of fun. Glad you and the missus made it to your early teatime.

Movies I Still Haven’t Seen

If you read any of my About Me kind of stuff, you know that I wrote the film column for my college for all four years I attended. And in that time, I watched a lot of movies. But that doesn’t mean I’ve seen everything out there–far from it. So here’s my List of Shame, aka the movies I still need to watch (I’ll get to them, I swear!).

  • Kill Bill 1 & 2: I knocked a lot of Tarantino off my list in 2013–Django Unchained, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs. This year, I added Inglorious Basterds, which might be my favorite of all. But somehow, both Kill Bills have evaded me. I think it’s because I get bored with long movies unless I’m really into them, and the idea of watching TWO long movies keeps making me go ‘eh’. I know they’ll be good once I start watching them, it just hasn’t happened yet.
  • Castaway: I like Tom Hanks, but I don’t go gaga over him the way a lot of people do. He’s a great actor, but not so great that I’ve felt the need to drop what I’m doing and see Castaway. That being said: I should probably fix that.
  • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou: I am ashamed of myself. (Any day now, Netflix…)
  • Grave of the Fireflies: I really don’t like sad movies, but come on. I really need to see this one, even if I know it’ll destroy me emotionally.
  • The Notebook: I hesitated to include this one, because I’ve seen it in pieces and parts, and I’ve seen all the famous scenes and know what it’s about and what happens in it, but I’ve never sat down and watched it beginning-to-end. To some, this is punishable by death, but Nicholas Sparks movies do absolutely nothing for me. I watched Safe Haven and it was exactly as overdramatic as I imagined it would be, complete with crazy exes and ghosts. No thanks.
  • The original Godzilla: While I can claim to have seen the original King Kong, Phantom of the Opera, and am about to watch the original Nosferatu, (as well as the remakes) Godzilla has gotten away from me. Maybe someday!
  • Frozen: I was done with this movie by the time it hit theaters. Blame Tumblr.

What are your movies that everyone says you need to see, but you still haven’t? Let me know in the comments!

WTF Commercials, Part 1

I realized that I needed to add a new category for commercials that seem a little weird to me, because there are a lot of them. They’re not technically movies, but someone had to write and direct and act in them, and I see them all the time.

1. Guilt Cow

The Chick-fil-a advertising format has been the same for as long as I can remember. There are intelligent cows that protest the eating of beef, suggesting we instead ‘eat mor chikin’. They can’t spell, but they’re cute enough, and I always get a hankering for those nuggets when I see a billboard with the cows on them.

I was thinking about posting a different video, where a woman is eating a burger while a cow looks at her accusingly. She turns to see a sign for a missing cow, and with horror, she realizes she is eating the cow’s friend. That’s kind of sick, but if someone made my friend into a burger, I’d give them a dirty look, at the very least. But this ad shows a cow on a campaign to haunt the everliving shit out of this woman until she stops eating burgers. She can’t go through a drive-through or on vacation or hide in a parking garage without this cow harassing her with its misspelled ‘busted’ sign. If I were her, I’d turn this thing into a burger or ten.

What’s really creepy is that the cow is not asking the woman to stop eating the meat of other creatures. It just wants her to eat chicken. It couldn’t care less if she becomes a vegetarian–indeed, it is banking on her NOT doing that, because it wants her to go to Chick-fil-a.

Am I overthinking this ad? Absolutely. Is it still creepy? Absolutely. (I could go for some nuggets now, though.)

2. Literally to Die For

I honestly found this commercial really funny, but it’s also so disturbing. It’s 15 seconds long, so watch it and tell me you didn’t laugh. And also that you weren’t a little freaked out that a woman accidentally murdered someone, then went ahead and used the ‘to die for’ line anyway instead of alerting an ambulance. (Wah, wah, it’s a commercial, it’s not real life, wah, wah. I know.) That burger looks really good, and I laughed at the macabre pun, but generally I don’t want to associate my lunch hour with brutal stabbing. Besides, I’m already nervous about ordering this, because if I do, a judgmental cow will follow me around until I give up eating burgers forever.

The woman in the new Red Robin campaign is adorably naive. In another ad, she mentions that royalty members can get a free burger the month of their birthday, which is great to know, because everybody wants free stuff. Then she adds, with what appears to be genuine glee, “Even if you don’t know what month it is, you have a one-in-twelve chance of getting a free burger!” I cannot imagine any situation outside of head injury or being stranded on a desert island in which you would not know what month it was, but I’m no fun, and she seems so happy about that fact that it makes me happy, too.  You know what? I hope it’s your free burger month, Red Robin spokeswoman. Just try not to kill anyone as you celebrate.

3. Muno on a Skateboard

I have nothing negative to say about this ad. It’s probably one of the most bizarre ads to appear in modern America. It’s a Yo Gabba Gabba character skateboarding and advertising Vans with his own image on them. I love it.

So now it’s your turn. What are some weird ads you’ve seen on TV lately?

A Drink and a Smoke with Jim Jarmusch

One of my favorite things about Jim Jarmusch’s movies is that pretty much nothing happens, and yet it’s always incredibly enjoyable. My first foray into Jarmuschland was Broken Flowers, where Bill Murray goes on a journey and doesn’t find what he’s looking for and is pretty much left with more questions than answers by the end. Then I watched Dead Man, where Johnny Depp is on the run from the law for killing a man in self-defense, transforms into a complete badass and is guided by a Native American who is actually played by a Native American. There’s a little more resolution here, but it’s still more about the conversations and the thought processes rather than completing a task. Coffee and Cigarettes is the epitome of this style, where the movie isn’t about anything specific, but instead is a series of 5-10 minute vignettes where people talk over coffee and cigarettes.

There are particular themes that appear over and over, like Tesla (the White Stripes discuss Tesla, and the two men in the last vignette repeat a line about the Earth being a conductor of acoustical resonance), twins (the Lee siblings in the vignette “Twins”, and though the White Stripes are not related in reality, they have often presented themselves as siblings close in age, and it is easy to imagine them as twins in this film), cousins (Cate Blanchett playing herself and her fictional cousin, Alfred Molina telling Steve Coogan they are cousins, the appearance of the Wu-Tang members GZA and RZA, who are cousins) and the dangers of smoking (GZA and RZA tell Bill Murray his cough is from his smoking, a vignette is called “Those Things’ll Kill Ya).

There’s also the common thread of a hidden knowledge, skill or connection that one speaker has, but the other person in the conversation doesn’t realize, making them look foolish. Meg White seems uninterested in Jack’s Tesla coil at first, but turns out to know a lot about electrical wiring when it breaks. Steve Coogan doesn’t want to hang out with Alfred Molina or give him his phone number until it turns out that Molina has connections to Spike Jonze. Once Coogan finds out, he tries to make amends, but Molina is offended by Coogan’s obvious change of heart and refuses. Steve Buscemi, as the waiter who brings coffee to the Lees, speaks highly of Elvis, but is cut down when the Lees dismiss Elvis and tell him about the music he stole from black musicians (leading Buscemi to insist it was Elvis’s evil twin).

My personal favorite vignettes are “Twins”, “Jack Shows Meg His Tesla Coil” and “Delirium”, but they’re all interesting in their own way. So what if the movie isn’t ABOUT anything? It’s still funny, dark and well-made. You go, Jim Jarmusch.

Aliens??

Do aliens exist? According to all the people who claim their eggs and sperm have been harvested by star beings, yes. I don’t normally consider people who claim to be the parent of hybrid space children to be the pinnacle of trustworthiness, but there are some interesting, even compelling moments in The Hidden Hand: Alien Contact & the Government Cover-Up, my most recent watch in my 100 movies challenge.

There are former military employees who claim that they’ve had to hide evidence of UFOs, or have been forbidden to talk about certain projects by their superiors. The fact that sightings of UFOs and alien beings have been around for thousands of years is hard to ignore. Are there really people who have been abducted and harvested? I feel like that’s less likely. But I’ve never been abducted by aliens and had implants forced up my nose, or if I have, I have thankfully managed to forget about it.

What gets me is the sureness of some of these people about what aliens are like. It’s one thing when the experts say something like “In the last ten years, there have been over 10,000 reports of UFOs” (a statistic I completely made up, which might qualify me to speak on the Alien Panel). It’s another thing to say “There are psychic friendly ones and unfriendly psychic ones” or “They have no genitals” or “Their ships are designed specifically for capturing humans”. You might need to check your facts there, buddy. I’m pretty sure your acid trip doesn’t count as research.

It’s an interesting watch, at any rate, and it does make you think about some aspects of aliens/UFOs. If you want to get tricked into believing aliens are coming for our organs, maybe just watch The Fourth Kind.