Monday, December 31, 2007

Corpse Bride

I so wanted to like this movie and it is very meh. The design is charming, the technique without flaw but the entire production fails to engage. Dull, too.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Lost Continent

Amusing B movie but mostly a waste of time. Rainy Sunday afternoon in the '70s via broadcast TV would have been more appropriate venue. Now it is suitable only for monster movie dorks of the dorkiest sort.

Monday, December 24, 2007

'Round Midnight

Unsubtle but effective. No plot to speak of, but performances are excellent.

Friday, December 21, 2007

La Bete Humaine

This time, Gabin's character wants to be crushed by the world, but the world quietly refrains, content to allow Gabin's own character do all the crushing - from within! The world is a heartless bastard!

Sundown

Exotic and silly. Bruce Cabot is so gosh-darn earnest that you totally expect him to be a secret Nazi ... but no. Note foot fetish scene with Gene Tierney. Inexplicable in context.

Beowulf & Grendel

It snows a lot in Scandinavia ...
What a disaster. Renfair production starring deathmetal types in half-assed psychologically "aware" telling of epic. I do award points for hairy troll-child, however. Good one! The rest is amusing but lamentable.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Golden Compass

I liked Golden Compass the movie better than the book. The pruning of Pullman's clodfully baroque plot was done with taste.

The actors were as good as could be expected. Everyone's timing was off for some reason, but it may have been defective editing. I spotted several oddly arranged sequences, although nothing that detracted enough to squawk. A frame here and a frame there ... It may have been a case of malaise du Capitaine de Ciel, too.

There may not have been enough for the actors to hold onto to get an idea of their characters. Daniel Craig in particular failed to demonstrate any panache. Dakota (not that Dakota, thank God) was good. Nicole Kidman was chilling (especially in the "I hate my monkey, I don't hate my monkey" scene) but she has a long resume of roles with similar aspects. She's like a Kevlar vest with alternating layers of Grace Kelly and Joan Crawford. Ian McKellan is at his weakest when there is no conflicted or even perverse sub-thread to the character. "I'm a sloppy drunk" does not qualify. (I submit that Gandalf the White is not performed with half the effect of Gandalf the Grey. Tolkien and Jackson share responsibility for this.) Sam Elliot stole all his scenes. All that was missing was, "Bear. It what's for dinner."

I am happy to report that the bear models were admirably restrained. The fact that Iorik looks pretty comical from the rear leads me to think that his design is not 100% fanciful. The design of the movie is the best part. Armored blimps! Tricycle calaches!

Tricycle calaches!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Decoration

No planet-boiling incandescents here, sir!

Picasa Web Albums - Carbunicle - decorations a... - MVC-128F.JPG

The Last Bionicle for Carbunicle?

The question of storage aside, my enthusiasm for Bionicle is at low ebb. The stories are uninspired (sorry, Greg, it's true) and I myself am in a rut as far as action-figure fun is concerned. There is nothing especially disappointing about this particular toy except that it seems to have been packaged without any magic included.

 
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Typical Seattle December Foliage

How many life forms do you count?

From 20070710_plants

Baritone Ukulele from 2nd Hand Store in Lake City

There was a label, but alas, it is lost.

It's the End of the World As We Know It

Netflix sent two copies of the same DVD. The next thing you know, the Air Force will be strapping live nukes to the bottom of B-52s without knowing it. Also, giant robot ants will escape from their undersea pens near the "ruins" of "Atlantis".

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

Les bas-Fonds

A different tack, to be sure. Jean Gabin portrays his usual gruff, fair, violent existential character. Any resemblance to Kurasawa movie on the same material is strictly illusory.

The Desert Rats

Robert Newton steals all his scenes, predictably enough. Richard Burton's portrayal was either admirably nuanced or all over the map. I can't decide. James Mason appears exactly long enough to be wry and then disappears.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Boudu Saved From Drowning

Michel Simon has an amazing screen presence. The notes on Renoir's direction were very welcome.

Bell, Book and Candle

In the pre-Bewitched era, this may have held more interest but Jimmy Stewart's reaction, or rather, his near-complete lack of reaction, to the patently impossible goings-on makes me think that maybe his character is actually Elwood P. Dowd from Harvey. The main problem is that Kim Novak has substituted "spaced-out" for "otherworldly" and "bitchy" for "world-weary." How Stewart's character is able to distinguish the witch from his fiancee is beyond me. Amusing score by George Duning.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Of Mice and Men

Utterly unaffecting. No specific problems or egregious errors except that it is utterly artless. John Malkovich sometimes peeks out from underneath his Lennie, resulting in a distinct frisson that something surprising might happen. But no.

The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing

A perfectly OK overview of the art of film editing. Some of the interviews are quite telling about how exacting it can be.

Jim Henson's The Storyteller: Greek Myths

Startlingly dark and cruel tellings of startlingly cruel and dark myths.
Muppet dog woefully out of place and seems to know it. It seems apologetic for its own wisecracks and rightly fears a swift kick from Michael Gambon. Fozzy Bear weeping into his beer at the end of the bar would not have been more incongruous.
Derek Jocobi as Daedalus a major plus.

Kristin Lavransdatter

It snows a lot in Scandinavia. This makes people go nuts.
I did force myself to watch this all the way through. Kristin is a strong-headed girl who borders on sociopathic in her self-centeredness. Some of the background political shenanigans almost rise to the level of not-tedious but the whole show is beleaguered with endless shots of the landscape and the male actors standing around with their mouths open.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Sword of Doom

Holy cats, this was great. Problematic production lead to spotty editing which is actually an asset. The result is a poem of alienation and violence.

The Scarlet and the Black

I didn't read the summary and was surprised to find that this was not based on Stendahl's the Red and the Black. I lost interest about half way through.

Harvey

Mild comedy with curious performance by Jimmy Stewart. The realities of an alcohol-soaked head case result in some wincing on my part. No winners here except the bartender, who seems like a nice guy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Matt Damon demonstrates an uncanny ability to portray no one. The Man with No Nmae Who is No One. Patricia Highsmith's story is done up well.

Bird

Bored by Bird. Returned it without watching completely.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Jason and the Argonauts

Somehow I imagined that I had seen this movie before. Apparently only in bits and pieces badly remembered from childhood. In any case, this is a perfectly reasonable presentation of the story of Jason. Acting is exactly as wooden as it should be. Why should it be natural and good? The story has a talking figurehead, for heaven's sake. The scenes in Olympus are pretty funny in a Olympus-as-ad-agency sort of way

Monday, November 05, 2007

Black Hawk Down

I must have been in a tender mood when I watched this because i just couldn't watch it all. The sheer stupidity of the whole set-up (the reality, not the movie) was just too much for me. The film is beautiful, but the scenario just makes me angry and frustrated.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Samurai Rebellion

A great movie. Every character is provided an exit away from being stock and is at least sketched in a little bit as plausible humans. Emotionally staggering.

Picnic At Hanging Rock

I am pretty sure that I have seen this before but I couldn't remember much about it. The unsettled mood is established with great skill. Or is it that triple-bedamned pan flute in the score? Aaagh! Otherwise compelling.

The Prophecy

Ridiculous but completely within expectations. File next to Tremors and Dr. Phibes for campy amusement. Christopher Walken walks away with all his scenes tucked under his arm. Viggo Mortenson plays Satan. He is not the weakest player in view - that honor goes to Eric Stolz.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Red Lion

I submit that only Toshiro Mifune could have put on a giant fuzzy red wig and merely seem a bit more ferocious. Anyone else would invite comparisons to Bozo the Clown. Bonus: explanation of Ee ja na kai. My previous exposure was via Pom poko and left me completely mystified.

Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo

A bit of a plod. Weird color transfer.

The Lower Depths

Early Kurosawa. Never tries to rise above original Gorky play. Mifune barely reined in from reducing set to splinters. I could listen to Bokuzen Hidari all day long.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams

Eight nicely balanced vignettes. I especially liked the Village of the Waterwheels.

The Idiot

It may look Japanese but that is a trick played by Kurosawa. The Russian plot is evident in every frame. It takes a while to get a head of steam up but the payoff is there.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Devil and Daniel Webster

Mannered and stagey but in a good way. Lively performances with particular praise to Walter Huston's palpably sinister turn as Mr. Scratch. See it just for his performance. See his performance just for his entrance.

Monday, September 10, 2007

THX 1138

Robert Duvall's character, because he is mildly competent, strides among his drugged and coerced fellow citizenss like Zeus among limpets. In the land of the flakey, the least zoned-out is king.
Much is made that the director is George Lucas which probably distracts from seeing its genuine qualities and indisputable flaws.

Vera Cruz

Because the role of the good guy was filled by Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster had to be the bad guy. It's almost a buddy movie, so he is also the buddy. The finale was mostly satisfying in the way that Obi Wan's victory over Anakin wasn't. There was a great deal of exotic, empire-in-the Americas business with Cesar Romero but it's not important.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tailor of Panama

I was a bit slow apparently and did not recognize that the movie was one of those arch serio-comic tales that allow one to laugh at terrible, awful, loathsome human beings. Jesus! What a load of crap. Brendan Gleason's character is a buffoon! Ha ha! Oh, that Pierce Brosnan and his way with the ladies! Tee hee! The parody of Colonel North - you know it's funny because it's true. Except it was inept and a waste of time. Meh.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Man from Laramie

Jimmy Stewart wreaks a rather constrained revenge for a betrayal that killed his brother. Some excellent moments, but overall a bit taxing. There is an inept Nancy Drew-like mystery that completely derails the drama.

Aragon Lives! In Texas.

No, not Viggo (although he may for all I know) the giant spider from Harry Potter.
Storm troopers: Big spider web

Residents report that they can hear the cries of massed mosquitoes trapped in the webbing.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Nixon

Oliver Stone's didacticism is really annoying but you can't look away! Sir Tony brings all Shakespearean ploys to bear. If only RHN had been a tenth as ethical as the debauched character in this movie!

The Guns of Navarone

Gregory Peck clenches his jaw to victory. Nazis implode from the gaze of his American godliness. Silly, fun fantasy.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The High and the Mighty

Hotel meets Titanic in midair. John Wayne is likable, dammit! His crappy real-life politics annoy me still but he gets the job done up on the screen.
Far too many plot-threads, but that's the genre.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Killer Elite

What may have seemed cynical in the '70s seems trivial by Halliburton standards. Disjointed. Mako rocks. James Caan's dead-fish delivery works well. Robert Duvall didn't seem to be at the top of his form; seemed to be thinking about his dry-cleaning bill or something.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Steamboy

Best part was the steam monocycle.
Worst part was the weak characterizations - even for anime - weak characterizations. Better than The League of Extrardinary Gentlemen (who copped more than a few visuals) by a far piece.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I went to the zoo

I didn't take a camera because I didn't want to be distracted from the zoo itself, but I did take a few snaps with my phone.

This is the inside of a bear.


This is the outside.


Special effect of a ghost wolf provided by suboptimal phone camera optics:


Orangutan wearing a sack. I can't stand looking at the great apes, it's like staring into someone's house.
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Friday, August 10, 2007

Seventh Victim

Not a mystery so much as a mash-up (as the kids say nowadays) of character-types. Add creepy lighting and solid journeyman production values and voila! Late-night TV fodder. But good fodder. Slight to moderate horror.

Island at the Top of the World

Potentially amusing Victoriana (Polar balloons! Vikings!) rendered DOA by presence of David Hartman. Mako (Mako!) completely wasted. At least there are no musical interludes with Pat Boone.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Dated, sure, but charming. Sean Connery seems to have been spliced in from a different continuum of film. 'Making of' extras just as good as the movie.

Onibaba

Skillfully rendered horror atmosphere is drawn without pause or mis-step to wrenching conclusion. Totally creepy. No snack breaks!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dangerous Liaisons

Stephen Frears needed to amp up the viciousness. Glenn Close and John Malkovich do all the heavy lifting against an attractive but uninforming milieu. Malkovich's characters conversion is almost credible but suspiciously convenient. Keanu's character survives. This is a bitter, bitter pill.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

No Mug for Kyle

I have too many name-mugs already but it was nonetheless a little disappointing that the Lego store at Disneyworld was so pointedly out of stock of my name.
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Friday, July 06, 2007

Mrs Brown

Billy Connolly is not a subtle actor, but he is fun to watch. He is bringing more to the role than say his efforts in A Tale of Two Kitties or Prince Charming but not that much more. Judi Dench is not projecting gravitas so much as capturing all light in an infinite gravity well. Here mourning crepe is the dourest Schwarzschild radius conceivable.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

American Science & Surplus

Just the names of their products make me happy:

  • Microwave Tester
  • Cargo Net
  • Pistol Hose Nozzle
  • See-Thru Folio
  • Thunder Tube
  • Tiny Spirograph
  • Tweezer-Magnifier



Chapter I
Microwave Tester
(in which dear Cook is preserved from excessive radiation and a possible romance is initiated)

IT WAS in the year that Persepsibelle, a second cousin of my mother's, came to the house during a horrid storm that my story begins ...

Chapter VIII
Cargo Net
(in which the Vanity Galore is sunk with the loss of all hands except for myself and the Swedish bear-baiter, Grimm Baerbeiter)

The luger was heavier than I would have thought. I hid the extra magazines beneath my tatting and set about repairing the raft until Grimm came to his senses ...

Chapter X
Pistol Hose Nozzle
(in which we make landfall and discover the terrible secret of our destination)

... I took advantage of the heavy underbrush to make my escape. Grimm's screams were terrible to hear but I am sure that he would have approved of my plan had sobriety ever returned to soothe his heavy brow. Every year I donate to the Marinnen Svenske Kirk a lovely goose dinner in his memory...

Chapter XI
See-thru Folio
(in which the Sultan and I make a fateful bargain)
... certain unfortunate habits that I find myself somewhat wistful about but which my mother ...

Chapter XIII
Thunder Tube
(in which the I am saved from certain embarrassment and the lamentable fate of the Sultan)

CAPTAIN Norris's sudden arrival at the gates of the palace seemed to deflate the posturing peacock. He positively shrank into his pointed slippers. Things happened very fast although I do remember an entire cohort of the Sultan's eunuchs falling ...

Chapter L
Tiny Spirograph
(in which the probability cube is rendered moot)

... navigating the Vanity Galore II through the gravity net of the Poioi became untenable and I ordered the shield waves to be brought about in preparation for the alien armada's likely attack. Bosun Boy never wavered and stayed by my side until the end.

Chapter LXII
Tweezer-Magnifier
(in which a bent magnetron, a bear-fur muff and the Sultan's slippers serve to return me to Epping mostly preserved)

... the alien fiend had assumed that as the captain of the vessel that I would sacrifice my honor before my crew's lives. I provided him with no such satisfaction ...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Charlotte Gray

Cate Blanchett makes the most of this painfully bad screenplay. Direcor Gillian Nash almost manages to distract us away from the baleful sump of a story with beautiful photography and potent editing. A poor double feature with Richard III.

Harakiri

Scores of casualties in final battle. Way righteous way fury.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A Room with a View

Couldn't make it through to the end. Not even naked Victorians galloping around piqued my interest.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Raging Bull

Great movie, but I don't feel edified at all. Scorsese's editing is amazing. De Niro is great but great-great? I don't know.

Catch 22

First half great. Second half is stupid. Alan Akin mostly good. Martin Balsam off-key ... screw it.

Blood Simple

Black comedy of the first order. M. Emmett Walsh rules.

Gandhi

Not a David Lean epic. Lots of nice set pieces. Doesn't have any particular dramatic flow, but that is not a bad thing in this case. Amazing performance by Kingsley pretty much outweighs other considerations,even the excellent photography

La Femme Nikita

One word. Cleaner.

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

The title tells no lie. Even the sidewalk is hiding dirty secrets and rotting inside from moral decay. The credenza can only look on unable to unsee the horrors of the human heart here on display.

Elmer Gantry

Jean Simmons assays role of sacred loonie again.
Burt Lancaster possesses the movie the way a lion possesses a gazelle.

Citizen X

Slogging through this dreary exercise produces only a couple of scenes that are not tiresome. True story was undoubtedly more interesting. Classic mistake: the killer is revealed at the outset.

Witness for the Prosecution

All I can say is that Tyrone Power was perfect for the role.

Rififi

Beautiful to look at. Caper procedural is tops. Finale is brilliant.

Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure

Briefest possible overview of amazing tale of human spirit. Unneeded sequence of modern day climbers failing to duplicate feat of the last leg of the journey back. Pretty pictures galore.

Mrs Miniver

The ending of Mrs Miniver is the beginning of our most recent book club book: To Say Nothing of the Dog. This detracts nothing from Mrs Miniver.

Elizabeth

Best Elizabeth movie in a strong field of contenders. The assassination sub-plot gave me chills.

Random Harvest

Melodrama, of subtype amnesia. Apparently Hilton's book presented an insurmountable structural difficulty.

High and Low

Odd stagey first half really shows off what a great actor Mifune was. Second half police procedural fascinating but dramatically static. Amazing visuals.

Richard III

Loved it. Ian McKellan great. Costumes great. Scenery great (final battle a bit slapdash.) Music great. Perhaps not quite as strictly amazing as Titus. MW walked in during one scene and wonderd if it was a Terry Gilliam movie. This is a fair question.

Ghost in the Shell

I liked it even though the story is just an anime treatment of Bladerunner. I regret not having seen it before.

The Endurance

Highly recommended.The interviews with the descendants tell very little about the personalities of the Endurance's personnel. One of the academics fawns over Shackleton's reputation like he means to ask it to marry him. Fantastic images from the expedition itself are the best reason to watch. Amazing stuff.

Tom Horn

Would-be nihilistic western is painful failure. The material has been done to death and much more effectively. 'Lonely is the Hunter' and 'Judge Roy Bean' come to mind. A slapped-together story is unsupported by lackadaisical editing (the kind of editing where sunsets are just there because they're pretty). A pleasant surprise is that Linda Evans holds up her end but to no particular effect. She's the school marm, natch. Lots of talent wasted, most obviously Steve McQueen. Elisha Cook and Slim Pickens are trotted out as scene dressing. There are a couple of shootouts that are not bad. Ernest Gold score works overtime to add import but is overwhelmed by the pointlessness.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Canyon of Improbable Time



EXT: CANYON OF IMPROBABLE TIME—DAY

MESSENGER VA and GUARD walking side by side. In the background, the walls of a heavily eroded desert canyon stretch upward out of frame.

MESSENGER VA
Keep your wits about you. We're going to go through the Canyon of Improbable Time.

GUARD
That doesn't sound so bad. It could be the Valley of Certain Destruction.

VA
The Valley of Certain Destruction is the other way, smart guy. That's where Scout is headed in pursuit of the Toa Maiden. If you're lucky you won't catch up with him.

GUARD
You're a feisty one.

VA
And you're a newly-minted soul-slave of Scout's. How long have you been out of the box?

GUARD
I'm pretty new.

VA
How long?

GUARD
I think it was this morning. It's really dim before then.

VA
I see. You are lucky - you'll stay with Trainer when we get there. All right, here we are. You may think you see things, but they aren't anything to panic about.

GUARD
So they are just illusions? I can handle that.

VA
Not illusions. They are there, but not long enough to matter to you. You may not see anything except a blur. But it's not safe. Some of the things can see you just fine.



An innocuous mound in the background suddenly seethes into seeming life. MESSENGER VA flees immediately but the GUARD, initially stunned, stands his ground to battle the onrushing wall. He is immediately engulfed.



EXT CANYON OF IMPROBABLE TIME - MOMENTS LATER

VA
(muttering)
I guess I could have seen that coming. I told them that he would just be in the way and well he was but only for a little while because he is no one's way now, the poor sap. I wonder if Scout will feel any remorse at all. I wonder if that guard was supposed to keep me from getting back? That would be just about Scout's speed, the lying, treacherous wretch. Trainer is right not to trust him. Sure, Scout has been around almost as long as the universe but that doesn't give him the right to treat his servants, created yesterday, for pity's sake, yesterday! as if their lives don't matter. And it loks like Scout is getting careless. Time was when he would rage and spout fire if any of his lads even got hurt. Now he uses them up just to keep tabs on this old messenger Va. Well, now I'm laughing, aren't I. I am here almost on the other side of this vastly treacherous ground while Scout's poor tool is in the belly of that thing.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Against the Current

from this thread:

Perhaps there is a niche for more thoughtful Bionicle stories.

Citizen Kanua. Wealthy chronicler Kanua looks for happiness his entire life but really just wants his lava sled back.


Lorans of Mata Nui. The koros are splintered and bickering even while under attack. Lorans convinces them to work for their common good.

The Ga-Koro Connection. Infected masks are flooding the streets and Popaiadoia does whatever it takes to find out where they are coming from.

Ussal Driver. Bikkolo, damaged by war, finds himself unable to fit into society. Things go very wrong when he tries to defend the honor of a Ga-koran.

Waiting for Godo. (No adaption needed, works as is.)


The Maltese Gukko. She said she wanted protection but she's really after fabulous treasure.

The Good, The Bad and the Rahi
. The Toa With No Name contends with treachery on the hunt for fabulous treasure.

Treasure of the Sierra Ihu
. Prospectors contend with treachery — and madness — on the hunt for fabulous treasure.

Treasure Nui
. Naive Matoran find map, seek ... fabulous treasure. There is also treachery.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Alarm clock runs away gone commercial

Clocky. The prototype was made out of Lego. At least the wheels were.
I will hold out for the plush version.

Boy jailed over clock change mix-up

Boy jailed over clock change mix-up This makes me so mad! How many idiots does it take to raze a village? If the idiot witnesses (the principal and anyone who listened to the message and had access to the timestamps) and the idiot police don't dress in burlap and cover themselves in ashes at the feet of this child then there is no justice.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

ape/satyr/cow-skull thingie

From the parts bin
20070409_MOC

Shown in conflict (inevitable conflict) with a Toa in dog-catcher livery. Back story ... um. Soulless spectre spawned from the unleashed passions of an ancient battle between titans so ancient themselves that their very names are forgotten and their iron bones, as broad as pylons, wore to dust.

Darth Vader Easter Egg (and more)

There is such a thing as a Darth Vader Easter Egg. That is, the ovum of a chicken with decoration, not a hidden bit of software.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Cat is on the Car

In the tradition of The Cat Is on the Roof, I present The Cat Is on the Car.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Funny IM Convo

Clash Heroin wrote:
check this out
Slick video demo

Kyle.Beatty wrote:
It may be the best thing since sliced bread but it is being touted in exactly the wrong way. I am strongly reminded of the protracted hypefest that surrounded video-goggles. Lots and lots of promises + a cool demo != good.

·the demo is awesome
·the promises are abundant
·?
·profit!

Clash Heroin wrote:

Very true, but you have to admit it is still cool

Kyle.Beatty wrote:
I think maglev is cool but I can't take one to the commuter station where my flying car waits to fly me to Jetson Towers and my robot housecleaner.

Clash Heroin wrote:
rofl

Kyle.Beatty wrote:

And my moon shuttle trip was canceled due to lack of room at the Lunar Hotel because they forgot to build the future. And now I have a name for all my disappointment: Jeff Han. It's his fault. That Steve Jobs wannabe demo-giver Jeff Han.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Inherit the Wind

Dimetrodon, played by Fedric March, is run to ground by naked ape with giant brain (Spencer Tracy). Genetic selection ensues.

Director Kramer stacks the deck against William Jennings Bryan, but so did reality, so I guess it's allowed.

Wallace Beery, who has maybe three lines, almost steals the show.

A mule for clones


Mule as the expression is used in Serenity
From 20070303

Friday, March 02, 2007

Logitech threatens to sue software author

I've been using Logisphere for a good long while and their software only made me appreciate the logitech gear more. This type of corporate boorishness is just depressing. Happily, Abelcam works with a variety of cameras and PTZ equipment. So I am not tied to to the bullies. Hooray for choice!



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Thursday, March 01, 2007

My Darling Clementine

'My Darling Clementine' is not perfect. John Ford didn't finish his edit, one of the characters is named 'Chihuahua,' and the always aggravating Victor Mature in a main role, but the overall effect is really good.
Tipping it into classic status is Walter Brennan's performance as the profoundly amoral, bestial and depraved Pa Clanton. No bad guy has ever approached such complete villainy. Darth Vader and Hannibal Lecter aren't a patch on Pa Clanton with their misguided loyalties and effete savoir-faire. Henry Fonda was probably channeling Brennan while he performed in 'Once Upon a Time in the West': as bad as Frank is, Pa Clanton makes him look like a mere victim of a difficult childhood with parental issues to process. Sauron could learn a few things about ruthlessness from Pa Clanton. At least the Old Testament God didn't let Abraham sacrifice Isaac. Pa Clanton is not subject to such lily-livered distractions.

The Awful Truth

It is screwball, yes, but it has a little more edge than 'Bringing Up Baby,' say. Lots of great comebacks and raised eyebrows. Performances are not restrained but the action never descends to pure slapstick. OK, the dog and mirror gag is not really all that inspired or necessary, but it's brief and painless. Most of the direction is really smart.

The Long Ships

Apologists for this movie aside, this is dreadful schlock. That Jack Cardiff directed this childish travesty so soon after his DP work on the great 'The Vikings' is difficult to understand. Everything that is good about 'the Vikings' is mocked in 'the Long Ships.' One element belongs to 'the Long Ships and 'the Long Ships' alone: Sidney Poitier's coif must be seen to be appreciated. High marks for enthusiasm all around but did they make it up as they went along?

The Ox Bow Incident

Earnest social message does not blunt impact of this morality tale. William Wellman manages to hint at some of the darker possibilities in Henry Fonda's screen persona (e.g. 'Frank' from 'Once Upon a Time in the West.') Dana Andrews almost steals the show.

Destroy All Monsters

Stone soup approach to giant Japanese monsters is not a great success. English language narration is especially inept but amusing. More shootouts between alien-controlled zombies and intrepid spaceship crews than is expected in a movie with Godzilla.

In the Dust of the Stars

Production values perhaps a thousand times that of 'Target Earth' don't quite rise to level of not ridiculous. European style goings-on never quite gel into any kind of sense. Peculiar parallel to Britt Ekland's dance number from 'The Wicker Man.'

Target Earth

Ludicrous labor of love is merely an object of ridicule. Yeoman efforts of professionals are no match for cardboard sets, costumes, effects and meandering, pointless plot.

Kwaidan

High production values serve powerful ghost stories. Recklessly veers from unnerving to nervous jollity frequently.

The Frightened City

Sean Connery utterly dominates entire production with pre-Bond charisma. Even the characters in the story seem to know that their roles are lost in the glare of a god among men.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Polished with no slickness. Guiness is in practically every scene after he is introduced. There is hardly any action to speak of but it is full of tension. Supporting performers are uniformly strong.

Coffy

Hey! No one told me that this was soft porn! It's soft porn with a message, though. The message is, "Do not mess with Coffy."

T-Men

Dennis O'Brien and Alfred Ryder dupe a gang of counterfeiting morons. If I tell you Alfred Ryder is the married one then do you know who is doomed?

Underworld: Evolution

Well, it may have evolved into a more successful movie organism, but it's not an improvemnet over the mostly inept first 'Underworld' go-around. Good use of bat-wings, though.

The Holy Mountain

Duller than it sounds. Lili Reifenstahl toys with the affections of two skiers. I was unable to slog through.

Life With Father

Disappointing print doesn't distract from amusing performances by all. Elizabeth Taylor's assay of a spoiled ingenue was a bit too close to the bone, though.

Pitch Black

A pleasant surprise after the bloat-fest that is "The Chronicles of Riddick."

Barbary Coast

Interesting performance by Walter Brennan. A trial run for his bravura performance in "My Darling Clementine."

Appleseed

The plot that informed "Ultraviolet," apparently.

Genghis Blues

I was saddened to discover that the principal westerners in this documentary had passed away since it was released. Not too surprising as their precarious health was a large part of the story. I now know where Tuva is. I have no idea how throat-singing is accomplished.

Stray Dog

Kurosawa must have made Mifune run 500 miles during the making of this movie. Fascinating all around. Post-war Tokyo is more like post war Paris than one might have thought.

Inuits blame U.S. for climate change

Inuits blame U.S. for climate change

Simon Nattaq hunts in the Arctic with prosthetic feet. Sometimes being alive in the 21st century is pretty neat. Except for the feet-losing, global-warming part. That sucks. But "Simon Nattaq hunts in the Arctic with prosthetic feet" sounds like a line from a William Gibson novel.

Hawking to make zero gravity flight

Hawking to make zero gravity flight

I really hope Hawking also makes a flight in Branson's sub-orbital plane. That would be a good thing.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Chronicles of Riddick

Too much. Unworthy and bloated successo to Pitch Black. And Riddick is not a patch on Conan the Barbarian.

Ultraviolet

Better than Resident Evil: Apocalypse, I guess. No, wait. It's the other way around.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Battleship Potemkin

The score was replaced with selections from Shostakovicth (The Fall of Leningrad, etc ...) A major distraction. What to do?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Superman Returns

I would give three hundred thousand coconuts and every ounce of Brandon Routh's blood to get the two hours and thirty-four minutes that Superman Returns took from me. The movie ends four or five times.
I don't even know where to begin: the uneven tone, the formless narrative, the unfunny camp, the bad hair styles, the insouciant sepia tone, the smarmy melodrama? Bleh!
John Ottman kept the score in appropriate territory and managed to add a little bit of sense to the drama, but there is only so much that music can do. What a trooper.
Given the improbable physics, some of the special effects are realistically detailed. The ripples cascading down the skin of the 777 as Superman decelerates it were arguably realistic.
On the literary resonance side, Superman has been conflated with his original messianic role, an overt Appollonian syndrome and all too literal Jesus references. Lex Luthor introduces Superman as a god, so this is consistent.
Look up Larry Niven's essay on Superman's girlfriends for further insight into the problems this screenplay introduces. Me, I am going to stop thinking about this movie right now.

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