I don't remember if I mentioned this, but a couple of weeks ago we went to watch something on Netflix and discovered that the Blu-Ray player with WiFi would not come on. It was not the case that the BD player was dead -- rather its small surge protector apparently died a valiant death in one of two violent thunderstorms we've had in the last month. We have a temporary kluge, stringing an extension cord that I use with various devices next to the computer desk. But we shall rebuild the system, making it better, stronger, faster... and costing less that $6 million. (evil-grin)
Netflix has redone its screens and its Android/Kindle apps a number of times. To look more dramatic, no doubt, the ubiquitous red letters spelling out Netflix on a white background is now red letters on black. But one of the changes was the TV lost its listing of My List -- the things I'd checkboxed and hoped to someday get around to seeing them. Of course, Netflix pulls things out of rotation from time to time, either through licensing agreements or just changing up what is available on streaming as opposed to DVD rental. When we got the Sony Blu-Ray player for the new HDTV, we reactivated my old Netflix account, but streaming only. So what's available for DVD isn't too important.
But surely there is something to watch. And one of the offerings was this quirky film:
In A World... [R] (2013)
I remember when this little film came out and had gotten some decent reviews. Who doesn't remember all those "In a world where..." movie trailers? Don LaFontaine owned the movie trailer business for many years. As opposed to Hal Douglas, the east coast movie trailer voice, who also did "In a world..." trailers -- and was sometimes mistaken for LaFontaine. (Douglas did the overblown fake trailers designed by Cameron Diaz in The Holiday.) Both men are gone, in 2008 and 2014, respectively.
But honestly, I was thinking that this was a documentary -- about the daughter of The Voice of God.
Turns out... no. Although the movie does open with a tribute to Don LaFontaine, including his most excellent GEICO insurance commercial, it's a fictional look into the whole very small voice over industry, especially the vacuum left after La Fontaine's death.
It's delightfully quirky, with a lot of inside baseball humor about voice over work -- and many classic voice over moments. Unlike The Red Shoes, which I reviewed recently (DW) (LJ), hopefully In A World... will not encourage hordes of young people to rush into Hollywood to become movie trailer artists. (grin)
Watching movies at home is not the same as watching in the theatre -- it's less total concentration. As is typical, I was Kindling while watching. But I had to put the machine down because I was missing some of the complications of the dysfunctional friends and family going on. It's a comedy... but it's much more human. And having grown up in schools surrounded by creative people -- artists, actors, musicians -- I have much more attachment to these people than in most comedies. Even if I want to knock some sense into the heads of a couple of people.
Lake Hill, who also wrote/directed/co-produced, stars as the daughter of one of the great voices, trying to make it in her own voice business. She's really good. (Lake is well known for several series we didn't see, including The Practice and Boston Legal, so some of you are much more likely to know who she is.) Michaela Watkins plays Hill's sister and seemed awfully familiar. We both thought for a bit she was Lisa Edelstein who was on House for so many years, but the voice was wrong -- it turns out she was on Saturday Night Live from 2008-9. Likewise, the sister's husband Moe, played by Rob Corddry, I kept thinking was the husband in the movie Fargo -- but that was John Carroll Lynch. Confused so far? Good.
I liked this movie. It was definitely a case of a "sufficient" budget. Too much money and it would've looked fake. This is a small voice over industry, and it needed to look small. After all, the smaller the pond, the bigger the fights over nothing but scraps.
The Search for General Tso [Documentary] (2014)
Now this really is a documentary. I remember hearing about this documentary -- a search for both the historical General Tso and the origins of this damned chicken dish named after him. Several people had recommended it, but I couldn't think of the name -- all I could remember was Jiro Dreams of Sushi (DW), which we saw back in December. But after In A World..., I was flipping through the list of movies on the Netflix home screen when lo and behold here it was. Also about 90 minutes, we figured there was still enough Saturday evening to watch this.
General Tso's Chicken. It appears on nearly every Chinese restaurant menu in America -- and apparently many other countries as well. Though not, in particular, China. (grin) As one might expect, it's an Americanized Chinese dish for the blander American palette. But what was the source? Who invented the dish? And was there a General Tso?
It's not my place to spoil any of the adventure for you. It's a good solid, and funny, documentary. Very much worth the hour and a half to see it. And especially if you have interests in food, American and Chinese culture, and the whole creation of industries. The history down this rabbit hole -- or chicken coop if you like -- is well worth it.
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