Tuesday, December 30, 2008

There are ways to judge a book by its cover

One way to judge a book by its cover is to judge the cover on its own merits. As below.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Wild Child

Mild-mannered presentation serves to highlight the nobler aspects of the endeavor to civilize a child who raised himself in the woods of Aveyron. Truffaut wears his 18th c. habiliment with surprising ease as he patiently wrestles with his object of study. Based on a report by a Dr. Itard.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Snow people on the march!

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Curse of the Golden Flower

High-stakes political shenanigans in the royal court lead to unexpected consequences. Sumptuous production is a bit mannered but given the subject, that may be a good thing.

The Next Man

The screenplay is just a hash of headlines from the mid-seventies with a dash of tropes (the gruff detective with a taste for cooking, etc.) but does manage to keep rolling along with judicious palcement of action. Connery is cast as a Saudi which is only a little less ludicrous than being cast as a Berber. (How is it that there was never a Sean Connery Othello?)
The DVD is a terrible pan & scan (if that) of the original widescreen with defective sound to boot. Painful to watch. On the plus side, an early score by Michael Kamen.

Charlton Heston in Peer Gynt

A student project from 1941 that is surprisingly sound. The conceit is that it is a silent (mostly) of Ibsen's play cut to Grieg's music. It works better than you'd think. Some of Chuck's idiosyncratic physical acting is already present in the 17-year-old.
The DVD also includes a TV production of Of Human Bondage which is professional but far less engaging than Peer Gynt.

Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth I

The mis en scene is superior, Mirren is fascinating, the ensemble is energetic but there is still a slightly cramped aspect that I can't put my finger on. It's not the weird exteriors in Lithuania, although they are a distraction. It may simply be the more-or-less accurate set that makes me uneasy: the Privy Council room is barely big enough to hold E's ministers, much less camera crew.

There is historical-grade torture, including an up-close beheading.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Damn the Defiant

Stolid. Way stolid. Dirk Bogarde's cad manages to avoid assassination far longer than you'd think likely, given that every other character wants him dead and they all carry three foot shivs. The best scenes are Guinness's as might be expected, but he is off screen for long stretches.

The Swan Princess

Sometimes indulging in low-jinks such as a 20th century sports farce, this Don Bluth production is not unwatchable. Voice acting is mostly conventional with the big exception of Jack Palance who brings a restrained but clearly psychopathic aspect to his sorcerer. Attractive background paintings but bland character designs.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Short Cuts

Prolix ramble that is more of an editing exercise than a movie. Jack Lemmon slides in and out of one thread with greasy ease. A few moments of quality improv (Bruce Davison's repertoire of squirms is substantial and Lyle Lovett's dead-fish stare is impossible to return) but otherwise mostly awkward and unconvincing.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Naked Lunch

Much tamer than I expected. Mugwumps in particular are well-behaved. Maybe it could be re-edited so that the DVD randomizes the order of chapters.

Superman and Lois sticker from 1978

Found on a hutch of unknown provenance.
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Paris, Texas

Overrated. First act in the desert plays like a dusty version of 2001 with Dean Stockwell in the role of David Bowman to Harry Dean Stanton's HAL. Then they arrive in L.A, there's a kid and blah blah blah.

Watership Down

This played better in my memory. Mighty indulgent at times and then Zero Mostel shows up as a seagull, a deutsche seagull. (This situation will be echoed in The Secret of NIMH) The finale seems a long time coming but is exciting when it finally shows up.

Robin Hood

Amiable but stupid version of Robin Hood legend entertains in spite of lazy direction. Who would cast Andy Devine and Pat Buttram together? It does not need to be said but it is superior to Kevin Costner travesty.

We're No Angels

Some thin performances of somewhat stale material don't spoil the drollery. Bogart and Ustinov are by far the most natural comics although Rathbone's whalebone-stiff villain is delicious. Michael Curtiz keeps things rolling along.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thumb Pocket

Thumb Pocket™ strikes me simultaneously funny and sad. So specific and unnecessary.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I went to book club and received presents!

Life is good!
Original Star Trek cast PEZ dispensers, free of irony:

And a very cool collection:

Thank you!

Saturday, November 08, 2008


I passed a young man on a Segway this afternoon. It's probably not safe to generalize from one sighting, but it's either a good sign for the economy that someone in Lake City has disposable income or it's a bad sign that someone has to resort to an electric scooter to get around. It's also just possible that it is the appropriate tool for the job.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Edda and Amos

It's about time. Even in the expanded-time of comics (L'il Abner and Daisy Mae are outliers), this courtship has been going on forever. McEldowney tested the waters with a parallel (one of several) relationship between a lapsed nun and a lapsed priest and I think the analog strip was handled in a similarily tasteful way.  I think he may have written himself into a corner as the sweet kids angle has been left behind. We haven't seen much of Juliette and Elliot lately.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Dino Rossi reacts to gubernatorial race being called

The apathetic Republicans (sorry, GOPistas) at Dino's celebration certainly didn't add any shine to their man's halo. I guess we are known by the company we keep.

Dino Rossi is a Whiney Baby and Needs to Be Shown the Door

It was a good news / bad news night. Obama is the President-elect by a huge margin which is a good thing. Washington state's gubernatorial race is undecided, which is neither good nor bad. McCain delivered a classy, touching concession speech which his audience of goons scarcely deserved, so mostly good. Obama delivered a speech that the whole room stunned with its import (also 80,000 people in Chicago) - a notably good thing. But Dino Rossi chose to mouth a meandering, divisive, whining screed to couch some kind of veiled threat against something. If I can find a clip of this petulant display I will link it here. What a jerk.
UPDATE The door has been shown.



Saturday, November 01, 2008

Sounds 100% Fake to Me ...

but it is being reported as genuine.
Palin Phone Pranked

Elizabeth: The Golden Age

When considered a work of fantasy on the lines of Lord of the Rings or Dune, the most egregious flaws (painful, pointless distortions of history) are mooted. However, there are plenty of flaws left over. The utter lack of drama is the worst followed closely by clumsy, stupid, insipid dialogue. Sure looks nice,though. Gondor could have done with a bit more of a late Renaissance look. Props for a cameo from Dr. Dee standing in for Gandalf or the mentat.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Making Coffee

Opportunistic Fern in Ballard

fern fern 
Some folks try to grow ferns with elaborate humidity controlled environments and felicitous soil combinations. Sometimes the ferns Just Happen.

Cat Watching for Moles

Given the number of molehills that have appeared in the last several weeks, I don't think this cat has accomplished much on the mole front.
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Happy Halloween!

Tarzan, the Ape Man

Although the frank sexual dynamics of this movie are what make it interesting (as well as the genesis of the Tarzan yodel), the amazing thing is that it was written by Ivor Novello. Surprisingly well-preserved, the action is good although the cottonwoods on some California ranch sure get a workout.
The costumes for the great apes are not one whit less believable than those used in 2001: a Space Odyssey. They even use a chimp for a baby great ape.
It's probably addressed satisfactorily somewhere, but why is the chimp named Cheetah? Is there a cheetah somewhere named Chimp? And when Tarzan calls for Cheetah, why don't cheetahs respond?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wag the Dog

I usually find Dustin Hoffman's performances off-putting but he nailed this one. Robert de Niro is as good as always although I am not sure he put quite enough behind it. But his not-enough is more than you can get from almost anybody. Woody Harrelson shows up just long enough to do his crazy maniac schtick to the detriment of the movie which needed a better third act. It's hard to trump A Face in the Crowd or Network, but one should make the effort. Filmed in 29 days, which is as it should be.
As to the message. Yeah, people are stupid.

Yet more doodles

From New Album 10/2/08 11:05 AM

Dear Frankie

I'm not sure how this sensitive tale got on my queue. I gave it a try but there was a song interlude instead of an introduction which really put me off. Then they started talking and it was so genuine and whatnot I had to turn it off.

Couldn't Sleep So Here Are Some More Drawings

From New Album 10/2/08 11:05 AM

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Seattle Mayor Looks Like 19th Century President

OK, I know this is completely unworthy and petty, but this picture of Greg Nickels looks like it was taken somewhere in the vicinity of Tammany Hall.
I lost the link to the news story but he's talking to someone who is trying to pick my pocket. Probably.

He should find out who cut Chester A. Arthur's suits.

Update, take two, do over.
It's not right to mock Nickels because he's overweight, that's just wrong. However this picture is telling a story. And the story goes like this: Sharp money guy with true predator instincts, assesses bumpkin mayor who looks like a used car salesman manager (is that a tally book deforming his coat? Could the tie yell out "The undercoat saves you money in the long term," any louder?). Lean as any cheetah, the fellow on the left, when he steps out -- no strides out -- of frame is as likely to pop a Homburg on his head (I think I see a hat crease in his conservative haircut. Greg, note this guy's hair.) on his way back to Zurich as Greg is to pop a cheeseburger in his mouth. It'll be a Dick's cheeseburger and that makes it a little bit more OK. It's like Max von Sydow and Sean Astin ran into each other at a screening of City of Ember.

Cheney-esque non pareil

Palin's corruptibility is turtles all the way down.
(Why is there no such thing as a pre-emptive impeachment?)

Pumpkin video

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dwarf vs Orcs

New Album 10/24/08 8:00 PM

It seems odd that Lego was not the official Lord of the Rings constructible toy concessioneer but they weren't.

Apple(b)logue archive

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