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!


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

The Italian Job (1969)

Goofy and great.


Richard Conte's psychologist character comes off as a complete tool. Jose Ferrer and Gene Tierney make up for it however. Curious subplot about a detective's dead wife never pans out satisfactorily.

The Toa Maiden Show Meets Phantoka

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


Tedious beyond endurance. I am spoiled by Rome, I guess.

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.

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