He’s one of redblog’s most thoughtful commenters — with one of the most curious usernames. Get ready to meet the one… the only… SpaceMonkeyX!
Location: St. Louis, MO
Occupation: Day Job: Software Support, Nights/Weekends: Writer for mentalfloss.com
Welcome to the Readers Who Rock club, Rob! First and foremost, I gotta know: Why SpaceMonkeyX? What’s the story with that username?
I’ve been using this name since 2001 when I started blogging, and it’s just sort of become my online persona. I even have my logo tattooed on my shoulder. I got the idea from Fight Club, a film that has been very influential to me in a lot of ways.
That’s a great story! So tell me, when did you start using redbox, how did you find out about us, and how close is the redbox you usually go to?
As memory serves, I’ve been a redbox fan for going on about three years now. I know the first time I used one was during a promotion from McDonald’s, where you got a free night’s rental with the purchase of a large drink. With nothing to lose, I rented a movie and have been hooked on the convenience ever since.
Not to brag, but I’m what you might call a redbox power user. There are four boxes within a few blocks of my house (grocery store, Walgreen’s, McDonald’s, and a 7-11), there are two on my way to work, one near where I work, and plenty of others that are in the neighborhood that I can hit while running errands. I’ll hop online or use the app on my wife’s iPhone (I’m still waiting for an Android app. Can you do anything about that, Erika?) to check which of those boxes has the movie(s) I want. A quick online reservation and I’ll pick up the disc when I’m in the area. Of course the beauty of redbox is that I can return my rentals to any of those locations, rather than going back to the same brick-and-mortar store where I rented it. It’s perfect for my busy schedule.
What kind of experience do you like or hope to have when you watch a movie?
It completely depends on the mood I’m in. Sometimes I want to have a deep, philosophical, life-altering experience. But there are also days when I want to shut off my brain and enjoy all the stuff that blows up real big. The key, of course, is to be entertained and to find a brief respite from the daily grind.
Originality. I don’t pay attention to too many sequels anymore. For a remake to spark my interest, it had better bring something new and different to the screen. And I don’t think I’ve seen a single TV show adaptation until it hit DVD. Of course there’s the old philosophy that every story has already been told, but there’s still plenty of room for innovation. Give us more original screenplays like Inception. Give us more original visions like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Give foreign films a chance at the box office before you remake them without the subtitles (I’m looking at you, Let Me In…). There’s a world of stories that are ripe for the picking, so I don’t feel like revisiting the same wells of “inspiration” time and time again are doing anyone any good.
What determines whether or not you want to see a movie?
I’ve always said, “I’ll watch anything once.” But as for the films I seek out, I’m influenced by many different factors. Sometimes the trailer is enough for me. Often the director will pull me in. If it’s an adaptation or remake, I’ll sometimes read the source or watch the original beforehand. Reviews, though, are very influential to me. I work full-time, am a part-time writer for mentalfloss.com, and have a wife and daughter who I like to see every once in a while, so I rarely get to see films in the theater anymore. I’ll make a point of seeing something if I’m really interested in it, but for the most part, I’m a “wait for DVD” kinda guy. But when the films are released in theaters, I read a lot of movie websites and listen to a lot of movie podcasts, so many times reviews will make me take more interest in a film once it hits DVD. For example, before Locke’s review of the The Crazies remake, my interest in that film was virtually non-existent.
But he had some good things to say about it and it convinced me that it was at least worth a rental. While the film didn’t change my life or anything, I had a lot of fun with it, and I never would have had that experience had I not taken the time to read the review.
What? The Crazies didn’t change your life? I don’t believe it. I won’t tell Locke, ’cause he’ll be crushed. Moving on… If you could own one prop from any movie in the world, what would you want to snag?
If it actually worked, I’d take a lightsaber. If it didn’t work and just sat on my mantle looking awesome, I’d take a lightsaber. Although, I have to admit, if I had the Right Hand of Doom from Hellboy I’d probably wear it around the house once a week or so. Just because.
Ha, love it! Next question for ya: Have you ever run into any movie stars in the past?
During the speaking tour to promote his autobiography, If Chins Could Kill, I got Bruce Campbell to sign my copy of his book, as well as a copy of the Evil Dead Book of the Dead edition DVD. I also have a picture of Kevin Smith holding a garden gnome. No, really.
Oh my gosh, that is the funniest thing I have seen in quite a while. You’re my hero right now! So it’s time for the biggie, are you ready? What five movies would you want on a deserted island (deserted… except for a TV and a DVD player and one electrical outlet)?
1) Seven Samurai – It’s my favorite Akira Kurosawa film and one I can watch anytime.
2) Star Wars – Most people would go with TESB, which I love, but I find the first one so fun, light, and totally re-watchable, that I’d bring that one instead. Oh, and obviously this would be the original cut. Greedo doesn’t shoot first on my desert island.
3) Casablanca – I’ve probably seen this a dozen times and there are still witty lines in that script that make me laugh. It just never gets old.
4) The Wild Bunch – Many people only see it for the bloody gunfight at the end, but it’s so much more than that. If I ever make it big as a writer, one of my passion projects will be to publish a thorough analysis of this Peckinpah classic.
5) Cast Away – I actually loathe this movie, but I figure it might have some handy survival tips. So I’ll watch the first half of it once, take some notes, and then reflect the sunlight off the DVD to start a fire.
I guess you were ready for the big question! Good (and well thought out) picks! Now tell me, who’s your favorite movie hero? Favorite villain?
I like Rick from Casablanca. While the lovable scoundrel is an archetype that goes way back, Rick is the template for so many of his ilk in cinema that ya gotta give him his due.
As for the villain, rather than go with Darth Vader or some other bad guy that we all know and love, I’m going to suggest Sergei Lopez as the manipulative SOB, Harry, in With a Friend Like Harry (AKA Harry, He’s Here to Help). In the film, Harry does his best to make lead character Michel feel like less of a man. Of course Harry’s solution is for Michel to abandon (or worse) his wife and child, which are, in Harry’s opinion, the two things holding Michel back. It’s a battle of wills and Harry is playing for keeps, even though he doesn’t really have a stake in anything, which is part of what makes him so despicable. Lopez would later go on to play another baddie, Vidal, the wicked step-father in Pan’s Labyrinth, so you know he’s got the skills for nasty.
Which supporting film character do you think deserves a spin-off?
I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, so I’ll just say that a spin-off starring Ellen Page’s character from Inception could be pretty awesome. I think she has far too much fascination with the technology to just walk away and never return.
Have you ever been told that you resemble an actor or actress, and if so, who?
In the face, from certain angles, I look quite a bit like Kevin James, star of such Oscar-worthy films as Paul Blart: Mall Cop and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, but is best known for his starring role on TV’s King of Queens.
I do see the semi-resemblance! No comment on Paul Blart… Anywhooo, who’s your favorite actor?
I guess it’s time to publicly admit my man-crush on Paul Rudd. He just seems like the kind of guy you’d want to have a beer with, ya know? He’s also in tight with the folks from The State, who seem to make movies for only me, my wife, and some of our closest friends (Wet, Hot American Summer and The Ten). He’s one of the few actors that will make me check out a movie, even if I think it looks like crap otherwise.
As for serious actor, though, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of the best there is today. He’s classic Hollywood. He can play funny and charming (500 Days of Summer), tough (Brick), damaged (Mysterious Skin), and just plain cool (Inception). I can’t think of anyone else out there that can show that level of depth.
First you dazzle me with the Smith/gnome pic and then you admit your man crush on my #1 Favorite Actor, Paul Rudd? There are no words for how much I respect you right now, Rob. But I’ll stop gushing and ask you who your favorite actress is.
I really like JGL’s Inception co-star, Ellen Page. She needs a few more serious roles under her belt, which might be hard to come by, what with her younger appearance and demeanor, but she’s shown some great range between roles like Juno and Hard Candy. She’ll be great once directors stop casting her as a 17-year old girl. Inception was a good start.
What about actors or actresses that you could do without — any of those?
Everyone makes bad movies sometimes (e.g., Sir Anthony Hopkins, The Wolfman) and everyone has at least one decent film in their careers (e.g., Jennifer Lopez, Out of Sight). So I try not to judge an actor book by its cover, but do my best to judge every role on a case-by-case basis. You never know when someone might surprise you.
Look at you, being all diplomatic! Are you running for office, by chance? Hee hee. OK, now tell me if there’s any TV actor or actress you’d like to see on the big screen.
After she’s paid her Hollywood dues in the rom-com minor leagues, I think Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) has the chops to be a serious actress on the silver screen. In a similar vein, co-star Jon Hamm is just nipping at Richard Gere’s heels.
I’m not a Mad Men watcher (I tried it, just not my thang), but I do agree with you about Hamm. Especially after The Town — that should help him quite a bit. Now for my least favorite question: What do you think about the new trend of 3D films?
I’m sure it’s here to stay for a while, if for no other reason but all these theaters went and upgraded their equipment to handle 3D. They want a return on that investment, and they’re going to look to Hollywood to make that happen. That being said, I’m not sure if Hollywood is properly using it as a filmmaking tool just yet. Avatar was impressive, because the 3D really got you into the world. But other filmmakers make it feel tacked on. And I am definitely not a fan of “post 3D” – making a film 3D after it has been shot, just to score a few more bucks at the box office. The 3D looks terrible in these cases and isn’t using the technology as a tool, but only as a way to milk the audience for money. If a studio does this, the movie instantly gets moved to the “Maybe Rent” pile for me, because they obviously don’t have faith in the film to release it without a gimmick. Not a good sign.
Agreed! Here’s a fun one for you: If you could live in any movie, meaning that the people, places and events in the movie became your reality, what movie would you choose?
I’d love to go along with Indiana Jones for an adventure. Sure, it might be dangerous, but he always seems to find a way out, no matter how sticky the situation. Although I’d want to avoid the world of the Crystal Skulls, please. Just Say No to Mutt, kids.
Along those same lines, if you could be any character in a movie, who would you be?
Bond. James Bond. It might sound cliché, but he’s good-looking, suave, debonair, gets the girls, saves the world, and gets the cool gadgets. It’s pretty much any guy’s dream come true.
Fair enough. We’re nearing the end of our chat, so it’s time for another big question. Are there any favorite movie scenes/sequences that stand out in your mind, no matter how many times you’ve seen them?
The montage sequence at the end of The Godfather is a favorite of mine. It’s so expertly executed and so meaningful to the film, that you have to admire it.
The T Rex scene from Jurassic Park will go down in history as one of the most intense moments ever. I’ll never forget seeing it in the theater.
It’s a simple effect, but I still marvel at the talking hands/face scene from Labyrinth. The coordination and planning involved is just something you don’t see anymore in the age of CGI.
The (attempted) suicide scene from The Royal Tenenbaums moves me whenever I watch it. It’s such a somber moment. The combination of music and visuals is stunning. Then again, this list could have been made up entirely of scenes from Wes Anderson films if I’d been so inclined.
Pick any gunfight from John Woo’s The Killer or Hard-Boiled. They’re so ridiculous and fun that I giggle like a schoolgirl whenever I watch them.
In The Wild Bunch, when they all look at each other and, without saying a word, know that they’re going to go get Angel, even though it will probably mean they won’t be coming back, that moment is darn near perfect.
Well, you’ve given nothing but awesome answers so far, so I’m sure you’re about to remind us of some great movie quotes, too. So tell me, what are some of your favorites?
I find that I say, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat,” borrowed from Jaws (or Clerks), all the time, so it must be a favorite.
“Well, slotted pig, they’re standard issue.” – Toy Story 2
“All those moments will be lost…in time… like tears…in rain…” – Blade Runner (Apparently this line was ad-libbed by Rutger Hauer)
“I would have liked to have seen Montana.” – The Hunt for Red October
At one of the jobs I had in my younger days, for the entire summer, I tried to get a Russian intern to say that for me. Sadly, she never would. I think she thought it was dirty or something.
“Why is there a watermelon there?”
“I’ll tell you later.”
- The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
You didn’t disappoint with those quotes! (Or with the Russian co-worker story.) I’ve got one last question: What upcoming movies are you looking forward to?
The early reviews of Black Swan sound like we have another winner from Darren Aronofsky. The Social Network, from one of my favorite directors, David Fincher, is definitely on my list. RED looks fun, if for no other reason but we get to see Dame Helen Mirren wielding a submachine gun. Top that, Dame Judi Dench! Monsters sounds like it could be this year’s District 9, which is a ringing endorsement in my book. I really want Tron: Legacy to be good. I have a soft spot for the original. And hopefully the last Harry Potter films will be great. I haven’t read the books (I know – blasphemy!), but at this point I’m just going to wait to read them with my daughter when she gets a little older. I’ve seen every movie in the theater, though, and enjoyed them all on some level. So it will be nice to see the completion of the series.
I agree! Rob, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me and share your thoughts about movies with redblog readers. You are truly a Reader Who Rocks!
Catch up with all of our Readers Who Rock here. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll be featured!