Welcome Back!

We are back baby, and this time we really want to make it work. I know we’ve said that before, but this time we really mean it. We’ve grown up a lot since the last time, and now we feel like we’ve really got our shit together. I know last time we really let you down. Sure, at first we tried to be a part of your life, but eventually we would just show up on special occasions, maybe a podcast around the Oscars or something and then we left completely for awhile, but this time we really want to be there for you. I know that a lot of people go through these kinds of problems, but maybe I have a solution. How would you feel if we brought it a couple of new people, to maybe spice things up a little? That way if one of us has a headache, or just isn't in the mood, someone else can tag in, and we can all walk away happy. 


So welcome to Coming Off the Reels…let’s say 12.0. This ever changing podcast will hopefully show up a bit more regularly than it did in the past. Sometimes we will talk about new movies, other times we may be revisiting a random year from the past or a specific theme. We will just kind of make this up as we go. And if no one ever listens to a single podcast, then we will just be a group of people who sit around, have a few drinks, and talk about the movies that make them happy, and that is not a wasted endeavor. 


Wish us luck.


Love Always,


Coming Off the Reels

Don't Look Now

Starring: Julie Christie, Donald Sutherland Directed by: Nicolas Roeg

Venice is a great setting for a thriller.  You never know what's going to pop out of the canals, break free from the gargoyles adorning the architecture, or haunt the churches.

Actually, none of that happens in Don't Look Now, where one of the scariest things about the film was Donald Sutherland's moustache.  However, the film itself was rather good.  Released in 1973, the movie focuses on John Baxter (Sutherland) and his wife Laura (Julie Christie).  In the midst of an afternoon at home – John reviewing photo slides of churches with stained glass windows, Laura inside as well, and their kids playing happily in the yard - tragedy strikes.  Their daughter Christine drowns in the pond on their land.  Soon after the couple travels to Venice, where John is working on a restoration project, to escape the reminders of this misfortune.

Laura is still very depressed but has a strange encounter that significantly lifts her spirits.  While at dinner one night, a psychic (who is blind) tells her she saw Christine's spirit sitting between the Baxters and the girl is happy in the afterlife.  Though cheered, Laura is still very curious and wants a second interview with these women – and more information about Christine if possible.  The more skeptical John is the more they coincidentally run into the psychic and her sister around town.  After Laura meets with them again for a "séance" to contact Christine, she has two messages for John.  First, Christine warns her father he is in great danger and must leave Venice.  Secondly, the psychic believes John also has the second sight.

John shrugs it off until he has an interesting accident during the church restoration project. Then his skepticism and suspicion skyrocket as he believes he sees Laura on a boat with the psychic and her sister in Venice, though she was supposed to be in England visiting their son at boarding school.

Have these two elderly and perhaps mad sisters kidnapped his wife?  Is someone out to get him?  To top it all off, John begins seeing a small figure in a red hooded coat – similar to the red slicker Christine was wearing when she drowned – running in and out of the shadows by the canal.

To find out what John really saw (from this world, the other side, or his imagination), the movie delivers a quasi-predictable – yet still interesting – ending.  For being nearly two hours long and a thriller (which I normally don't like), I really enjoyed Don't Look Now.  Sure, there are some disconcertingly 1970s things about it (i.e. Julie Christie, for the love of all things decent, put on a bra!!!), but it is a very well-made movie.  The direction is excellent, and in several instances little symbolic and artsy touches (like one singular candle going out on a prayer alter) add to the experience. I would advise against watching the original trailer though, it is pretty terrible and very misleading.

If you:

  • Like a nice European backdrop
  • Like little visual foreshadowing hints dropped about like breadcrumbs
  • Don't mind a thriller not really being all that scary

Put it in the queue!

However, if you:

  • Are bothered people in 1970s movies incessantly smoking indoors
  • Would like more than 60 seconds of gore in a movie
  • Are not sure you want to sit through a few minutes of Donald Sutherland's bare ass during a somewhat awkward sex scene and then him sitting around the hotel room in the buff thereafter

Don't put it in the queue!

Written by Jennifer Venson

The Devil's Rejects

Starring: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie Directed by: Rob Zombie

After watching White Zombie, I was curious to see what Rob Zombie's scriptwriting and directing looked like.  I chose to watch The Devil's Rejects – first because I really didn't want to see House of 1000 Corpses, and I also remember Zombie promoting this film during his set at Ozzfest in 2005 (a day I also got the worst sunburn of my life, saw Iron Maiden and did not see Ozzy because he was 'sick.'  But that's a completely different story.)

The Devil's Rejects does have a bit of a plot – the family that murders together in House of 1000 Corpses is now the focus on of a police manhunt after scrapbooks documenting and linking them to over 75 killings are found in their home.  Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) and Otis (Bill Moseley) escape and call Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) to tell him to get his biscuits out of Dodge as well.

They all head for the meet-up point while Sheriff Wydell – leader of the manhunt and brother to a victim of the family – becomes increasingly driven by revenge and completely motivated to capture the remaining three.  He is also willing to go outside the lines of the law by hiring two bounty hunters (Danny Trejo and Diamond Dallas Page) to bring back Baby, Otis and the Captain in 'good enough' shape for him to have a few words with them.

Adventures along the way to the showdown with the Sheriff include torture, murder, sexual abuse, taunting, gratuitous T&A, lots of blood, and Otis making a mask out of the face of one of his victims.  All of which I found very difficult to watch.  The two tolerable things in probably 90 minutes of torture and murder by Otis, Spaulding, Baby and Wydell (out of 109 minutes in the film) were the soundtrack (mostly southern rock from the 70s) and Spaulding's brother Charlie (Ken Foree).

The directing itself was also good – Zombie used some nice transitional devices from scene to scene, and the ending sequence was well done. Had the storyline/action in the film been less troubling to watch (at least for me), I would probably recommend it with no reservations.

That being said, if you:

  • Like a movie where half the script consists of the f-bomb.
  • Want to see DDP act like a bloodthirsty madman
  • Like a lot of gore

Put it in the queue.

However if you:

  • Don't like movies with no 'good guys.'
  • Don't like to watch people being psychologically and physically tortured.
  • Are afraid of clowns with bad teeth

Don't put it in the queue.

Written by Jennifer Venson

Netflix is an Unconscionable Monster

Here’s the kind of thing that makes my blood boil. Netflix raising its rates.

Well, not that, in and of itself.  Rather the never ending tirade of assholes airing their grievances in a number of the most asinine ways.  Whenever I read thousands of negative comments, an extraordinary amount of negative backlash, and, worst of all, “writers” questioning the “reason” Netflix would raise prices, I want to stab a baby.  Make that three babies.  And a kitten.  It confuses me when a concept as simple as this one is met with a fury of utter disbelief.

To the population who just can't understand: The “reason” Netflix raised its prices is SIMPLE ECONOMICS.  Seriously, I was taught (and, I suppose, learned) simple economic principle in high school, albeit by one of the three most worthless teachers I have ever had in my life (she was a HOME economics teacher teaching regular economics, and was still number three after Mr. Green who taught my zoology class and based an ENTIRE SEMESTER of grades on one “vocabulary list,” and Mr. Clark, the basketball coach who taught my SENIOR LEVEL history class….and no, this isn’t based on an episode of the Simpsons……you know, the one where the teachers go on strike because Bart pits Mrs. Krabappel against Skinner because he doesn’t want to go to school but then Marge ends up being one of the replacement teachers which, of course, is no better, so then Bart has to trick Krabappel and Skinner again in order to bury the hatchet and get the regular teachers back in to the classroom.  You know, that episode.)

I have yet to find a single article on all of the internet which explains it as such, and if one of the three people who reads this piece can find any such article, please forward it to me so I can immediately amend what I have written here.

Here’s the deal folks.  According to Netflix’s (man, say that possessive out loud.  Sounds terrible.)  website, they have just over 23 million customers in the US and Canada alone (http://ir.netflix.com/).  Let’s just say the number is exactly 23 million.  For the sake of a whole number.

Now, let’s say the most popular Netflix choice is having one DVD out while also being able to have unlimited streaming.  How about 60% of the 23 million, or approximately 14 million, hold this particular option?  I have no idea what the numbers actually are, but for the sake of this exercise it is fair enough.  The price was $10 a month, and now they have raised their rates 60%, to a staggering $16 a month.

First I would say not too long ago we were all renting videos from a video store, where prices were probably somewhere around $4 for new arrivals and $2 for older videos.  If you were renting one new arrival and one old film a week, you were spending $24 a month, and that doesn’t include TV shows, which often had to be rented by the disc, or any late fees you might accrue, or films “rented out,” or movies simply not available in the inventory.  If that seems more efficient to you, I suggest you high tail it to the nearest Blockbuster or simply use movies on demand.

Secondly I would argue $6 a month is $72 a year or, even at the middling sum I am paid, not even a full day’s work.  Stretched over the course of a YEAR.  If you can’t find a way to squirrel away an extra $6 a month, maybe you shouldn’t have Netflix at all.

Here are some other numbers for you to give a little thought.

Using the 14 million customers posited earlier under the $10 a month plan, the amount Netflix would be raking from those customers alone would be $140,000,000.  At an increase to $16 a customer, in order to match that amount, Netflix simply has to retain approximately 63% of its customers.  That means it could afford to lose about 5,250,000.  For those of you who have trouble deciphering numerical characters, that’s over FIVE MILLION CUSTOMERS.  They could completely LOSE that amount and still be exactly where they are right now.

So let’s say ONE MILLION people are so upset about having to pay an additional $6 a month they completely quit the service.  One MILLION people.  Just think about how many that is for a minute, and then let me assure you one million people are not simply going to quit using Netflix over $6 a month.  But, just for the sake of everybody crying in their beers, let’s say a million.  Now they have a lowly 13 million customers at $16 a month.  That’s $208,000,000 a month.  That’s an increase of SIXTY-EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS, and that’s if they LOSE ONE MILLION CUSTOMERS.

For everybody trying to figure out a “reason” or claiming they are slapping their customers in the face just for the sake of it or one of the other ridiculous notions I have read over the course of the last few weeks on the interwebz, I have to simply say that most of you, at least are getting it right; it’s mostly greed.  You are looking for some deeper meaning where there is none.  But please also remember people, this is one of the main downfalls of the economy.  You want Netflix to charge you nothing, but you also want them to be able to pay for streaming rights, movies for the library, AND employ the masses at a liveable wage.  Don’t ask for too much, eh.

Why in the hell are you looking for a deeper reasoning in the rising cost of an entertainment sundry?  It’s a business, it’s Capitalism, it’s the very, very, very, very, very, easiest, simplest idea of economics, the most basic economic principle to comprehend.  It’s supply and demand people.  I assure you, if Netflix raises their prices and lose eight million customers, the price will come down.  If not, then it won’t.  It’s that simple.  They are trying to maximize profit, trying to reach the equilibrium pricing for their product.  That’s what you do, as a business.

They aren’t going to shed a tear at the loss of a handful of customers  who in absolutely no way effect their bottom line.  It’s want vs. need.  It’s a luxury.  Of course you don’t WANT to pay more, but such is Capitalism.  You’re simply fooling yourself in to thinking these pointless diatribes on your favorite social networking site actually mean something to Netflix, or losing a customer….or a couple thousand….impacts them in any meaningful way.  Maybe it makes you feel better to voice your opinion (as it does me) but maybe it should be done in a more respectful, knowledgeable voice.  Also, if you think you are actually effecting anything, dear friend, you are incorrect.

So go ahead, punish yourself.  Fool yourself in to thinking Blockbuster streaming is just as good, or the $6 extra a month just “isn’t worth it.”  Complain for the sake of complaining.  That’s fine for you.  Me?  I think it’s still a pretty fair price, so I’m going to go stream the next episode of “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” directly to my 42” HD television wirelessly via my Sony Blu-Ray player.  Just because I can.

Biddi biddi biddi biddi  Buck.  Biddi biddi biddi.

Written by Ryan Venson

Shut the %&#$ Up!

Not long ago, a video clip from the Alamo Drafthouse began making its way around the internet. This PSA, which plays before the feature presentation, played the audio and showed a transcript from an angry voicemail that an irate customer left for the theater. Apparently the moviegoer was more than a little upset about being kicked out of the theater for texting. This film was a hit with almost anyone who watched it, and CNN’s Anderson Cooper spent several minutes praising the clip, while making fun of the woman.  Have things really gotten so bad at the movies as to justify theaters not only kicking out patrons, but ridiculing their complaints nightly? Yes, they have. I go to the movies more than the average American*, so I have more opportunities to have people disrupt my films. But while Ryan and I used to complain about the occasional disturbance, we now find ourselves surprised when the crowd manages to behave.  I don’t remember when things got so turned around, but I do remember some of the better examples of people behaving badly.

1. There is no explaining my buddy David’s man-crush on Tommy Lee Jones. It was his sick infatuation that led us to the Rules of Engagement. David and I noticed early on that things were going to go south in this particular viewing, when the gaggle of preteens came wondering in during the trailers. Certainly when I think of a military legal drama, I think preteens. Much to our surprise they immediately began to start talking, running around, and swapping seats during the movie. This was in my young, non-confrontational days, so I just sat there and tried to continue to watch the movie, but it was easy to find the people who were slowly getting fed up with the constant chatter from the back rows. There was a middle aged man, maybe 50, who was just down the row from David and I. Every few minutes he would turn around and glare at the kids several row back. The older gentlemen did this for the first half of the movie before leaving in search of an usher. Miraculously the kids were asked to leave the theater, and I settled in to enjoy Tommy Lee Jones eating up screen time. Of course the guy who got the kids kicked out decided to fill the void that he created. Anytime Tommy Lee Jones would ask a question in the movie, the older man would yell the answer back at the screen. This continued for the rest of the film. At least being an ass has nothing to do with age.

2. If you listen to the podcast “Coming Off the Reels”, you may have heard this story before. Early on, I was not very excited about X-Men: First Class, but as early reviews were overwhelmingly positive, I figured it was something that needed to be seen. Ryan and I arrived early, so it is was just a roll of the dice as to who would eventually sit around us. Snake Eyes! A couple in their late teens sat behind us, a twentysomething couple in front of us. The couple behind us were talking during the trailers, which while I don’t like, I understand that some people don’t care about previews like I do.  It was when the couple continued to talk well into the movie that I started to lose my patience. About 30 minutes into the movie, I finally turned around and asked them to be quiet. In their defense, the movie was pretty loud, so I suppose they might have thought I said, “Please speak louder than the characters in the movie.” So as I am sitting there thinking about sucker punching a couple of teenagers, the woman in front of me decides that this would be a good time to check her texts and her voicemail.  That was pretty much it for me, and I decided to try and find an employee who could maybe pop their head in and take a look from time to time. Being that it was an afternoon show, the staffing was pretty light, and no help could be found. I begrudgingly returned to my seat, defeated. After the next random outburst from the couple behind us, Ryan asked if we could just move seats. We ended up in the back row, but at least it seemed quieter. A few minutes go by and we hear an odd noise. Ryan and I look at each other and both share a deflated laugh as we realize that the people in front of us have brought their newborn to the theater. I don’t know much about kids, but I am pretty sure that babies who don’t even have the strength to hold up their own heads love crazy loud comic book movies.  At least the mother would take the baby out each time that it started fussing, but that too was a distraction.  Still, X-Men: First Class was pretty good movie and I can’t wait to watch it again…alone.

3. There is so much about this story that still feels weird to me. First, this was at a showing of Mystery Men. Yeah, some people actually paid money to see this one. Secondly, the showing of this movie was packed…Mystery Men! Even then I thought it was odd that so many people showed up, and I ended up having to sit in the back row again. A few rows in front of me was a group of teens, our usual suspects, and in front of them was an older man who kind of reminded me of Santa Clause…if Santa spent most of his life working in a coal mine. The kids talked and carried on, but what was really getting to Santa was that the kids kept putting their feet up on his seat, taking them off, and then putting them back up again. This went on for a while until Santa got up, moved to a seat behind the teenagers and sat there quietly…waiting. The next time the kids started to misbehave, Santa sprang into action. Saint Nick began kicking the back of the teen’s seats so hard that they were falling to the floor. Each time Santa’s foot found its mark he would shout “HOW…DO YOU…LIKE IT? HOW…DO YOU…LIKE IT?” Then Santa stood, kicked the seat one last time for good measure, and left. It was Mystery Men, so he really didn’t miss much.

The thing is, with the exception of the recently watched X-Men movie, I don’t remember much about the other two films mentioned above, and that is unusual for me. However, I vividly remember the people who ruined the movies.

Anyone who knows me, know how much I love going to the movies. In a time when the world seems to be getting worse every day, movies are a beautiful escape. Instead, I am forced to contend with a growing number of people who think you can act the same way at the movies as you do at bars. You pay your $10 cover, and come on in and talk to your friends, try and hook up with someone, make a fool of yourself, without caring if you are destroying the experience for someone else. Hmm, maybe if theaters had the same bouncers who work outside of nightclubs, I could get a little silence.

In the end, I will still pay my money and take my chances that people will shut up when the lights go out. If theaters want to make more of my money they could add a set of shows, maybe on Sunday morning, and tell people that during these shows, silence will be strictly enforced. I promise I will get up and go every week. Until then I would love to hear other stories of terrible trips to the movies. We can start a kind of support group. Together we can overcome, or at least find that Santa guy and have him start some shit.

*According to a survey done by the MPAA in 2007, the average American goes to the movies less than six times a year. I average closer to 35-40 visits to the movies each year.

Written by Drew Martin


Starring: Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Jorge Garcia, Terry O'Quinn, Josh Holloway I remember when Lost first aired. My dad faithfully watched at least the first season but when I asked him what was going on in the show, all I remember is him telling me there were polar bears on the island and weird stuff kept happening. Whatever.

So I never really got into the show.  Until a few weeks ago.

Ryan really wanted me to start watching Lost.  I balked for a while, but then sat down one Thursday evening after diinner and watched the pilot.  Then another episode.  Then another.  With the instant gratification of Netflix, I watched the entire first season in eight days.  Possibly with the exception of the first season of Castle, that’s the fastest I’ve ever watched a season of anything.

The premise is simple – after the Ocenania flight 815 crashes on its way from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles, a group of survivors wake up and try to figure out what’s going on.  The first one you meet is Jack (Matthew Fox), a doctor who serves as the de facto leader as he tries to sort out the dazed survivors as well or wounded.  Throughout the first season (and at least the first six episodes of the second season) he always walks around looking worried to various degrees – as if he is constantly second-guessing his leadership capability.

Among the roughly 45 survivors, only a handful are truly important to the progression of the plot.  Each one has some sort of personal burden or secret, artfully revealed through flashbacks woven into the episodes.  Your main characters (aside from Jack) are:

  • Kate (Evangeline Lilly) – Wherever there is a hike through the jungle, Kate wants to be a part of it.  Whenever Jack wants to go do something dangerous, Kate wants to tag along.  Whenever someone tells her what to do, Kate doesn’t listen.  Torn between Jack and Sawyer (i.e. whoever is most useful to her at the time), Kate has a very interesting past that she’d like to hide.
  • Locke (Terry O’Quinn) – The resident philosopher, Locke was traveling home from a Walkabout tour and has suitcases full of knives.  Creepy, yes.  Helpful for survival on an island, also yes.  As an able hunter and tracker, Locke helps keep the survivors surviving – until he gets sidetracked by an interesting find.  He also alienates some by insisting everything is destiny and that the island requires personal sacrifices from time to time to move them toward a resolution.
  • Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) – A musician in a formerly-popular band, Charlie has a big problem to deal with and a past that’s nothing to be proud of.  The island is like his chance to start over and do right.  Though his touchiness and temper cause some problems, overall he gets his opportunity to do right with Claire.
  • Claire (Emilie de Ravine) –  When then plane crashes, Claire is about eight months pregnant.  She can’t really do much on the island except write in her journal, sort through suitcases and wait to get rescued.  However, she also can’t do much to defend herself should others be interested in something she has…
  • Michael and Walt (Harold Perrineau and Malcolm David Kelley) – After basically being shut out of most of his son’s life, Michael now finds himself an instant father to nine-year-old Walt.  Michael’s uncertainty about his role and authority makes him a bit of an angry character in this season.  Walt, often accompanied by his dog Vincent, has his own share of struggles – though befriending Locke makes it a bit easier for him to cope.
  • Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) and Sun (Yunjin Kim) Kwon – This South Korean couple hangs on the fringes for part of the season as they do not speak English.  Which leads to some misunderstandings due to language barrier.  However, Jin does not endear himself to the other survivors by closely monitoring his wife’s behavior – ensuring men don’t talk to her, making sure she has all her cardigan buttons buttoned even though they are stranded on a tropical island.  Things are not peachy between them either, and they emerge as very distinct and interesting characters as the season progresses.
  • Hurley (Jorge Garcia) – Dude.  Hurley seems like a pretty regular guy.  He’s friendly, laid-back, frequently wandering about the beach with his headphones on.  He’s a perceptive guy and notices that all the survivors seem to be a little stressed out, so he builds a golf course with some material salvaged from the wreckage to lighten the mood a bit.  However, his mood is not always the lightest. He has a strange obsession with a set of numbers he believes are extremely unlucky.
  • Sayid (Naveen Andrews) – A former soldier in the Iraq Republican Guard – which does not win him instant trust among the largely American survivors – Sayid is also an electronics expert.  He makes an early effort to locate and leverage a radio signal to help them put out a distress call.  His other adventures include an inquisition of Sawyer and being taken prisoner by another island inhabitant.
  • Shannon (Maggie Grace) and Boone (Ian Somerhalder) – This brother-sister duo from a wealthy family do not seem to have a lot of survival-style skills in demand at the moment.  Shannon spends much of the first week on the island working on her tan and waiting to be rescued.  When this doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon, Boone teams up with Locke to make himself useful.  Shannon continues to struggle with perceptions she’s not useful – though when she’s not having asthma attacks or sulking, she does help translate a map and is really good at tying knots.
  • Sawyer (Josh Holloway) – The crown prince of one-liners, Sawyer is the guy everyone loves to hate.  After scavenging through the wreckage for choice items like medicine, single-serving liquor bottles and other niceties, he runs a little trading post in his tent.  Of course this irritates the bejeezus out of self-sacrificing Jack.   When Sawyer is not reading a mysterious letter, reading paperbacks that washed up on shore, selling accoutrements, or making up nicknames for Kate such as “Freckles,” “Sassafras,” and “Cupcake,” he is trying to forget his tragic past.

The characters really make the show – without excellent casting, without interesting back stories this would just be a boring drama about people arguing in the jungle and on the beach.  You have to care about the characters to want to keep watching.  The weird elements in the show (polar bears, the whispering jungle, a strange door with no handle buried in the middle of nowhere) would not be enough to keep me watching – what does is figuring out how the characters are going to act and react to keep surviving. Also, there are a ton of coincidences baked into the plot – the characters are more connected than they know, and it’s fun to notice these links (some less subtle than others) as they emerge.

I highly recommend the first season.  If you:

  • Like character-driven drama
  • Are ok with the absurd
  • Enjoy a story with the acknowledgement things can be more than they appear and that destiny and fate might exist
  • Like trying to figure out symbolism and meaning in pop culture

Put it in the queue!

I know this show is probably not for everyone.  So if you:

  • Have no patience with a show that ‘peels the onion’ by selectively revealing aspects of the characters’ lives one vignette at a time
  • Don’t have time to watch several episodes in a row
  • Don’t like to watch sweaty and/or bloody survivors running about in the jungle
  • Have a fear of flying that would be made worse by several depictions of the plane breaking apart midair

Don’t put it in the queue.

Written by Jennifer Venson