Sunday, August 31, 2008


Bell Laboratory Series (Hemo the Magnificent et al)

The conceit is that a writer (Mr. Fiction Writer) and a researcher (Dr. Research) are putting together an educational science show. We never see the writer do any actual word-craft, his material appears on a magic screen which is distinct from a more mundane movie screen on Mr. Research's side of the office. The magic screen usually displays manifestations of the writer's psyche which are science-agnostic, if not plain hostile. By the end of the show, they have been integrated back in to Mr. Writer's persona.

Spy Kids

Why didn't anyone tell me how funny this movie is? There are a million throw-away gags. For instance, a drawer of exotic weapons is opened to reveal, among many other destructive items, chrome-plated throwing stars in the shape of monkeys from a Barrel of Monkeys. Brilliant!

Friday, August 29, 2008


It's not as charming as The Princess Bride, but so little is. Michelle Pfeiffer thoroughly believable as terrifying witch queen. Undeservedly ignored much in the same way as A Little Princess. Other commenters have focused on DeNiro's transvestite character, which is certainly colorful but does not rise to the level of much import even in the limited context of the movie. People! An actor wearing a dress is not news. Recommended except for those truly bothered by the pretend reading of entrails.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Lost Patrol

Arabs wipe out British patrol in WWI Mesopotamia. Notable performance by Boris Karloff which is sometimes so quiet that it is inaudible.

The Hour of the Wolf

Swedish ghost story. Starts off slow, rapid last act. Photographed in ARtsy-fartsy-scoPE. Music in fishing-line-winding scene is interesting.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Public Enemy

The pristine state of this restored movie is astonishing. There are a couple of short stretches where the source material is sketchy but they are not too bad. As to the movie itself, it is lurid and violent. The much-noted grapefruit scene in its original context, is potent and disturbing. Many good performances throughout.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Doodle "Vogons"

Wired: Jackson Browne Sues John McCain

I conjecture that John McCain has lost control of his campaign. If I were Jackson Brown, I'd be peeved. However, I don't know that I would sue for anything other than an apology, though, taking the high road, etc. The math used to value music is absurd and I'd rather not see my sympathies tarnished by association.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

More Doodles

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

This western is a touchstone for many critics. They either decry or applaud its nostalgic mode, its cynicism, its maudlin tone or the claustrophobic feel. I guess it supports whatever you bring to it. I like it a lot but there are some details that bug me. Woody Strode's character is simultaneously patronized and adored by the other characters and it is aggravating. I am not sure if this is intentional or not; maybe it's just a reflection of Ford's attitudes. In the schoolroom scene, I want him to be a better student. The other problem is insurmountable: the men, except Lee Marvin, are too old by a dang sight. It's a lot like watching the crew of the Enterprise in Star Trek V.
I like to shoehorn every story into the Beowulf mold, so here goes: Tenderfoot lawyer (Hrothgar) cannot defend his progressive ideology against the destructive energies of the beast Liberty Valance (Grendel) and is saved only by compromising his ideals to the heroic idiom of Tom Donophan (Beowulf). By bringing the rule of law to bear against the violent status quo, both beast and hero are transformed from viable, if painful, ways of life into legend and myth. The new ways are not left unchanged by the encounter: Grendel's madness and Beowulf's unbending principles vie beneath the veneer of civilization.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hamlet in the park

On the way out from the dog park, W, Bodie and I took in the first couple of acts of Hamlet. It was a lot less tedious than Romeo and Juliet! We left after Hamlet's troupe of actors showed up. As we were leaving the park, we almost stepped on Ophelia as she was sitting in a garden behind the amphitheater. She seemed to be in character so we didn't tell her to DTMFA.

Romeo and Juliet (Zeffirelli)

I got bored in spite of myself. Didn't finish it.

Toa Today with Gali

A new episode every six years, as regular as clockwork! The first Toa Today was only a little more in-universe.

The Lady Vanishes

Charming and agreeable with few flaws. Leads have lots of vim and the dated dialogue eventually fades away. It's also pretty funny. Paul Lukas comfortably cast as an eastern European doctor.

MST3K: Tormented

The boys tear into this dreck pretty enthusiatically but even they are eventually worn down by Tormented. Without the MST3K treatment, it would be unbearable. Worse than usual silliness from Bert I. Gordon.

Blade: Trinity

The first Blade was ridiculous, the second Blade was bottomlessly stupid but cool to look at, but this trajectory from bad to worse took a dive from a low starting point and has arrived at rock bottom at high speed. No redeeming features at all, not even suitable for parody or camp, avoid.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wasps in Tree

Unsurprisingly, the dead tree was host to lots of bugs. The only problematical ones were the wasps that objected to my chainsaw. I was stung on the thumb but it was less bother than a mosquito bite.

The grubs were still wriggling around when I separated the nest from the rotten branch. Both nests were gone the next morning; I assume the crows got them.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tree Pulled Down

A tree on the southern fence line died not too long after I moved in. It has been a bird-friendly snag since then but was in danger of falling on my house or worse, on my neighbor's house. I enlisted the engineering expertise of W and we pulled it down with a bit of rope. It was completely rotten at the bottom and was probably only held up by the English ivy.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Scorsese does Camelot as black comedy. Contemplative deNiro as Arthur loses control of Lancelot (Pesci) and Guinevere (Stone) with very messy results. Movie wanders astray after the second hour by going over the betrayal a couple too many times, which is too bad because it was a fun ride up to that point. Direction is flashy and frequently distracting but mostly to the good. The music was uninspired and even dogmatic: Stardust the casino, Stardust the song, I get it! All in all it's fine entertainment but over-rated, perhaps basking in the glow of Goodfellas. It's no Goodfellas.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

What the Moles Dug Up

I found this in one of the many mole-hills in my yard. Grape jelly jar? Grape Nehi? It's quite thin and the degree of arc is high. A puzzler.

update: Pudding, the neighbor's mackerel tabby, was scoping out one of the molehills this morning. I had a mackerel tabby named Maggie who also hunted moles.

Bird and Dragon

Apple(b)logue archive

Powered By Blogger