Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jane Eyre (1996)

Zeffirelli's take is beautiful and languid but lacks energy. It is thoughtful and tasteful and frequently layered but it's all so constrained that it does not compel. (A scene in the drawing room at :55:00 is an especially poor read.) The Orson Welles approach was perhaps gothic to the point of license but it was an entertainment!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Instant coffee from Starbucks. Who knew the end times would be so weird?


Starbucks Survey

Skynet, in the form of a register at Starbucks queried, "Is this Starbucks store an important part of this community?"
I responde:
A corporate outlet is disqualified from ever being an important part of anything that can be meaningfully described as community. Sorry, but it is possible to be too big to be loved. Beside, this particular store murdered Cranium Coffee and Collectibles, a crime that can not be forgiven.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Menu So Ugly I Turned Off the Movie


This DVD menu is not the worst I have ever come across, but it may be the most repellent. The final straw was the frankly inept blur used on the neckline. People!

I initially was going to take a snapshot of the TV but something magic happened inside the camera obscura and the image is more inviting somehow.

My guess is that the low resolution filtered out the direr frequencies and masked the more extreme creepy waves.

l'Aventurra

Overrated. If I want to see vapid rich people staring off into space, I'll just go across the lake to Mercer Island.

Town Without Pity

Ham-handed (no offense to pigs) would-be polemic (ditto polems) is of interest for its semi-exotic (well, anti-exotic, anyway) setting in "What Cold War" Germany and perhaps as an incompetent porting of High Noon via The Nuremberg Trials. Kirk's scene-chewing bits are watchable but the story such as it is, is repeatedly torpedoed by pointless narration. The equally clumsy score cannot possibly be the responsibility of Dmitri Tiomkin, the director has to take the fall for that disaster. The lighting is bad and the screen ratio is all screwy.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cloak and Dagger

Gary Cooper's "Aw, shucks!" physicist has a speech which I paraphrase: "Sure, billions for atom bombs but where are the billions for cancer research?" His audience, an OSS man (who apropos of nothing savory, is also a fellow fraternity member) responds with a classic debate tactic: "As long as the Nazis don't get the bomb first!" As if Nazis don't get cancer. Cooper's character also notes that destroying an apple even unto pure energy is easier than building an apple in the first place. Thus is demonstrated that war, nukes and medicine have an inverse relationship of their desirability to their acquirability. Naked apes have been warring on each other forever and hating it, they've been Oppenheimering for 60 years and mostly hating it (looking at you, Teller) and curing cancer not at all and wanting it very much. At least the universe is internally consistent the way fin de guerre espionage noir isn't.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Peculiar word and phrase

Maybe not so peculiar to an archeologist.
  • carp's tongue complex
  • faience

Squirrel On a Schedule

   
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The Game

Michael Douglas perfectly limns his character in a clever plot. Old-fashioned in the sense that it is happy just being an entertainment. No one directs people falling with more enthusiasm than Fincher.
At the time, Salon had a similar take on it although they were more easily annoyed.

Zodiac

At some point I watched David Fincher's Zodiac and I liked it. I wish i could remember when that was. About a year ago, I guess.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Squirrel: DYNAMIC ENTRY

Meme service:

Documentary from Fallen Idol

Christian Bale is reported to have gone completely off his nut on the set of Terminator 4. I have heard a recently leaked recording that is purported to be the outburst and it's pretty embarrassing for all involved. Someone who certainly sounds like Christian rails non-stop against the DP for about four minutes in a perfectly childish tantrum. According to Christian during his freak-out, the DP moved while on set.
In the documentary about Carol Reed, there is a sequence of remembrances of how he handled actors. Reed was careful not to humiliate his actors and would arrange with his DP to cut short a bad take by jiggling a light so that instead of saying something like, "Cut! Christian, I can't understand a word that you are saying," or "Cut! Christian, the vein on your forehead has exploded again," he could say "Sorry all, there's a problem with the lighting." This only works if the actor involved is only merely self-involved and insecure and not also suffering a steroid-induced psychopathic rage.

Silent Running

This was one of the important movies of my formative years. I probably emulated doomed, impractical Freeman Lowell. His toxic relationships with his total jerkwad colleagues may inform my attitudes toward work more than I'd like. To cut Freeman some slack, I have never worked with people who would horseplay with nuclear triggers, so I'm even more out of sync. Roger Ebert libels Freeman calling him none too smart, which is ridiculous. Note: he steals a space freighter out from under the noses of the entire fleet, reprograms the drone cohort while bleeding half to death, and makes a delightful fruit salad. What Ebert may be reacting to is Bruce Dern's intense, crazy-guy stare, Freeman's misplaced optimism and poor debate tactics. He is the only sane man in an insane world and that would make anyone, well, insane.
Makes for a bleak triple feature with Alien and Outland.

Where the Sidewalk Ends

No, not the Shel Silverstein book. The 1950 noir starring Dana Andrews. Includes excellent and amusing commentary. I can't quite figure out the significance of the title in the context of New York City. The riverfront plays a minor part in the plot and I guess you could say there is no sidewalk there, but it's not like anyone uses the sidewalk in a significant way in the movie. Sidewalks end where buildings begin ... I just don't know. Anyway, the movie is great.

AI-Mediated Multi-Party Barter = Up Yours, Greenspan

"We are stepping for the second time on the same rake," Popov said. "The second time is a greater sin."

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Fallen Idol

Same general theme as Atonement but I didn't feel like throwing myself off a highway abutment after. That's a good thing. Extras include a documentary about Carol Reed which mentioned his ability to work with child actors. (cough)Kiera!(cough)

Shanghai Gesture

Lots of atmosphere but comes up short in the drama. Unexpected presence of Marcel Dalio as the "Master of the Wheel." Gene Tierney is lovely but is no thespian.

My Home Town is Almost in the News

1 dead, 134 rescued from Lake Erie:
"'We were in no danger,' said Norb Pilaczynski of Swanton, Ohio, who was rescued from the lake along with several of his friends. 'We knew there was enough ice out there.'"
I think it is possible that Norb was quoted out of context.
"We get people out here who don't know how to read the ice," Ottawa County Sheriff Bob Bratton said. "What happened here today was just idiotic. I don't know how else to put it."
There's always room for dissent,

Friday, February 06, 2009

Mark Twain (Ken Burns bio)

It never dawned on me that the Civil War ended his career as a riverboat pilot.

Roadhouse (1948)

Soft-boiled noir-lite. Not that there is anything wrong with that but expectations are not filled. Richard Widmark's character is especially wanting in the motivation department. His progression from patronizing jerk to murderous psychopath is rapid and happens pretty much off-screen. The fight scenes are really good. Good photography. Snappy performances from all.

Return of Squirrel

Sayonara Jupiter, aka Bye Bye, Jupiter

Well-intentioned, big-budget special effects extravaganza from Toho. There are many, many things wrong with this movie but none detract from its extremely high camp value. The acting is on the same level as the stupefyingly bad dialogue, creating little dissonance in that regard. The story is that the Solar system is threatened by a black hole but if Jupiter is turned into a second sun, the black hole will be deflected. Stolid, hard-working technicians and bureaucrats get right on it but are bothered by vandalism and sabotage by dirty, dolphin-hugging (literally), filk-song singing (unceasingly), mumu-wrapped (except for the leather bikini babes) Space Hippies. Think Dr. Severin from The Way to Eden without the reticulated ears and with Jerry Garcia's beard but without the talent. There is a null-gravity sex scene that is as unerotic as it is interminable and unexpected. The special effects are top notch, however.
In sum, it is a thousand times more entertaining than Armageddon and one-billionth as interesting as 2001.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Man With Two Brains

Mildly amusing. Steve Martin not at all comfortable with the material - did he write any of it? Kathleen Turner is a bright spot.

Mysterious Fish

 Found a bit of smoked fish in my back yard. Cats? Crows? Crocodiles? Hill people?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Werckmeister Harmonies

The urge to assign meaning to the amorphous events in this movie is a trap for busy minds. My personal tendency would be to apply a sort of Zoroastrian interpretation and use the shadow against light elements for support but I would be just busying my brain. It's more like a drawn out poem about time or maybe not letting time slip away ... I did it again. The beer hall is in a village and it is winter and it is cold. A truck with a stuffed whale parks in the main square. The villagers are uneasy and talk about danger. Maybe it's just a rambling fairy tale with no particular plot. It is certainly dreamlike.
I have no idea what the movie is about but I enjoyed it.

Squirrel On Cam



The Black Swan

Laird Cregar overwhelms all his scenes and not just by dint of his height. His resemblance to contemporary renderings of Captain Morgan is striking. Tyrone Power might be bringing too much acting to bear on his role as pirate with a heart of gold especially in the mustache department. Thomas Mitchell was busy in 1942 - this is one of six movies he was in that year. George Sanders is almost upstaged by his own flaming red beard. The opening miniature ships under sail in the teaser are worth the price of admission.

Microsoft: Layoffs for Some, Visas for Others

I thought the headline said "Vista for Others" and I said to myself, "Layoff, please."

Public Relations Failure

You just cannot make this stuff up. Ex-Nazi-Youth Pope Unexcommunicates Holocaust-Denying Bishop.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex

Studio production at its height and in full-on fairy tale mode propels Maxwell Anderson play, already refracting the genuinely odd events into improbability, high into the silly sphere. But such gorgeous silliness! Last third is quite stagy but admire the set designs of the Tower sequences. Completely erases the bad taste of The Other Boleyn Girl away.
The DVD extras are generous, including wartime newsreels, a two-reeler novelty (cowboys and Indians versus viscounts and archdukes), and a cartoon.

Cranium Remodel Continues

 
Now there is a glass enclosure on the north side. An interor wall has a small opening at chest level. White paint is blinding.
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Monday, February 02, 2009

The Other Boleyn Girl

Weak entry in a crowded field. I thought it might be fun to see Natalie Portman giving Henry VIII some sass, but no. Dull even in its pointless inaccuracies, I checked out early when Eric Bana showed up. I swear it looked as though someone was feeding him his lines. Is that supposed to be seething or brooding? Because it looks like he might have just remembered a dentist appointment or something.

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