Saturday, September 30, 2006

Captain's Paradise

Mild farce, not quite droll. Not brilliant. Frequently maudlin.

Port of Shadows

Brilliant existential French noir. Great stuff.

The Train

Frankenheimer's commentary track is enlightening. Another member of the procedural genre. sub-genre: subverting oppression. sub-sub-genres: Nazis, trains.

Birdman of Alcatraz

Great age makeup. Burt Lancaster is totally believable. Edmond O'Brien provides frame and some narration. I cannot for the life of me figure out why such was included, except maybe to emphasize the contemporariness of the movie. I amuse myself by imagining O'Brien as the Bishop character from Alien with Burt in the role of Ripley. Think about it.

Jamaica Inn

In this reverse-pirate movie (land-lubbers attack ships, Robert Newton isn't a pirate), Charles Laughton's performance must be seen to be believed. Another in his roster of detestable-but-almost-lovable megalomaniacs: Caligula, Dr Moreau, Captain Kidd, Henry VII, etc. Maureen O'Hara is casually, powerfully athletic.

Sky High

Completely enjoyable. Except for the haircuts which are weirdly amateur. Not merely the live-action rehash of The Incredibles that I took it for.


Ten years and approximately 20,000 'Free Tibet!' bumper stickers later, I have finally got around to watching Kundun. I expected a much more realistic movie than this set of postcards. If it hadn't said 'Martin Scorsese' about a dozen times before the first frame, I would never have guessed he was the director. Very enjoyable, including the scenes with Dr. No impersonating Chairman Mao. As propaganda, it's less successful. I mean, who doesn't loathe oppressive realpolitik and who isn't only incompletely suspicious of mysticism? One of the monks describes the Chinese generals as "the worst of the worst. They are worse than ghosts," which I took to be a pretty potent condemnation.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Swimmer

Burt Lancaster portrays a man who discovers that he is not a successful ad executive, husband, father, athlete and Lothario swimming from suburban pool to suburban pool in Connecticut, but a comatose human battery enslaved by machines in The Matrix.

White Heat

Terminator model T800 (Edmond O'Brien) hunts down last free human (Jimmy Cagney).

Monday, September 25, 2006

Snail, CD Player, Sunset

Picasa Web Albums - Kyle - September 25,...
Snapped the snail on the way to my car this morning. The Hello Kitty CD player has surprisingly good sound. A nice sunset to end the day.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The new economy sucks

Immigration raid cripples Ga. town: "Stacie Bell, 23, started work canning chicken at Crider a week ago. She said the pay, $7.75 an hour, led her to leave her $5.60-an-hour job as a Wal-Mart cashier in nearby Statesboro. Still, Bell said she felt bad about the raids."

Picasa Web Albums - Kyle - 20060918_craz...

Picasa Web Albums - Kyle - 20060918_craz... When I pulled up to the intersection, this bus was at the head of a slow parade of cars. It was rolling along at around 25 MPH, maybe more, but certainly well below the speed limit. At the light at 125th Ave, rather than proceeding directly through the light, the driver waved the left-turning traffic through (!) and then trundled on at the same slow speed. The penultimate insult was turning left onto the road in front of Fred Meyer's. I am pretty sure that this is not on a regular school route owing to the difficulty crossing against rush hour traffic. To finish things off, the driver stopped as soon as the bus cleared the intersection. Seems like a bad place to stop, as there are plenty of places to to stop nearer the middle of the block. A little red car put themselves in a bad spot because of it.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Final Fantasy

Better story than I expected. It's completely outrageous but it is so self-contained that it does not matter. The music by Elliot Goldenthal was too good for the movie but not by as much as I feared. There were a couple of sequences where I was not distracted by the actors' CGIosity. A laudable effort, but it's no Tron!

CBC News: Amputee controls bionic arms with a thought

CBC News: Amputee controls bionic arms with a thought
This is so much cooler than using roaches to control airplanes.

Another photo sharing service

Picasa Web Albums - Kyle Where DO they get the bandwidth?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Grizzly Man

Werner Herzog speaks quietly. Whenever he says "Amy" I cannot but help think of Kif from Futurama. This in no way detracts from an impressive presentation of found art. I think Treadwell (The "Grizzly Man") was a misguided jerk, albeit with wacko charm, for acclimating bears to humans. Herzog has projected his own particular worldview on the footage left behind, but he is not wrong in seeing Treadwell as a filmmaker. Some of the footage is really good. But what a jerk! Herzog has found a fine addition to his roster of the misunderstood and the incomprehensible characters. Not merely alienated, thay have at their centers deep reserves of otherness.

The making of the soundtrack feature records the intense guided improv sessions that Herzog used instead of having a score written. He articulates his frustration at his lack of musical ability at the outset, but his hand gestures and body language as he agonizes trying to get a musical idea across without the means to hand. It's satisfying to see when he gets the result that he imagines in his head.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Schwarzenegger apologizes over remark

Schwarzenegger apologizes over remark: "Schwarzenegger aides routinely tape his speechwriting sessions so the writers can keep a record of his thoughts and speaking patterns."
For later integration into the T-800, no doubt.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Aviator

Cool planes. Leonardo diCaprio was OK and not unbelievable as a mental patient. Much too much was made of Cate Blanchett's Katherine Hepburn role. Congressional hearing sequences are duller than the real thing, keep it moving, show me more crazy! Were there feet in Kleenex boxes? I can't remember, it's been months since I watched it.

Over the Hedge

Apparently this is based on a comic strip but has been transmogrified beyond recognition. Completely forgettable, mostly benign. Too many fart jokes.

The Razor's Edge

Another entry in the "shoulda seen" category. Bill Murray is not the worst thing about this well-intentioned misfire, that is reserved for Catherine Hicks, who is all too well cast as a brittle, shallow, grasping harridan. It was nice to see Saeed Jaffrey. A generous, uninspired production, it is not compelling in any way. Thoroughly American.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Real Frog!

This charning amphibian, perhaps able to sit within the compass a 50¢ piece, watched placidly as I helped Malyn move from her apartment. Is it native? It's so bright!
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Saturday, September 02, 2006


Emphatically not a stylized representaion of my opinion of the greater body of my putative co-workers. No sirree. Nope.

Webcam Capture of Mystery


I was phone-polled about Merlin and I scoffed at the notion of Martin Short in an Arthurian movie. As it turns out, he's merely another distraction in a jumble of distractions: Sam Neill's rugged, sly charisma without a trace of otherworldliness, Miranda Richardson's utter camp, Short's indulgent clowning, and low-rent but well-designed CGI.
And what is up with Sir John Gielgud's appearance? One line hat is half grunt? A less-than-incidental character? Incomprehensible. On the plus side, the show is a lot of fun to watch and avoids many TV movie blunders. "The making of ..." emphasizes the short production schedule which resulted in a lot of single takes. Lots of rough patches to be sure, but we get to see the actors applying their skill. I am looking at you, Robert Bresson!

Taxi Driver

I want to see most movies, but I don't get around to it. (See most of my posts since November). The first such was M*A*S*H bust that was because I was too young. I saw it in the VHS era. Taxi Driver is one of the first instance caused by my own non-volition. I was too young to see the movie in the theaters, natch, but I knew by college that it was something that I needed to see. Now, thirty years later:
Everyone calls Bickle a monster, but he's just a little more messed up than average. He just needs a friend! But not another near-psycho cabbie like "Wizard."
Scorsese sure knows his city. He managed to paint (with his use of saturated colors, smeared lenses, etc, that is almost literally so - much closer to a painterly effect than poor mannered Bresson) a specific view of New York.
Most disturbing part was in the "Making of ..." Censors demanded that in the climax that colors be de-saturated to preserve R rating. (!!!) Appalling nannyism! I see their point: de-saturating the colors certainly lessened the effect. Scorsese should have sued. Oh well, spilt milk etc. Possible to fix, I suppose, but historicity, etc.
I look forward to Taxi Driver vs Alien.

The Purple Plain

Low rent business with Gregory Peck in an especially granitey performance. The most vivid moment is provided by a lizard. No Twelve O'Clock High this.

Lancelot du Lac

A Man Escaped was great film-making. Lancelot du Lac is just silly in the silliest of euro-silliness. The idea, I think, is to show the human side of the love triangle except Bresson eschews humans which leads to extreme comedy. I was laughing the whole way through.


Everyone says Fitzcaraldo is about a man with an obsession. Well maybe. But everyone in the movie is mostly crazed. Fitzie's urbane manner puts him in the not-so-crazy side of the equation in my reckoning. Fitzcarraldo's attitude at the end of the movie is a good example of someone with the right attitude. Actually pulling a boat up a big hill is just silly, of course, but that's Herzog's problem. (see Making of ...)
A triple-pulley system plays an important part in the plot. The same week that I watched I visited the Seattle Science Center with a beloved child and there was an opportunity to play with a similar set-up.


Co-director Wegener carries the whole picture with his baleful gaze. Art direction fantastic, literally not figuratively. Much commented as proto-Frankenstein as in James Whale Frankenstein and deservedly so. Except for the whole puppet-of-Hell/Kill All Humans problem, the Golem is very sympathetic.

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