Monday, July 30, 2007

RIP Bergman

I'm not the greatest fan, but I've only seen one. This parody seems to nail it, though:

BONUS: Here's a double-shot from SCTV:

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Mmm... Feature Film

Finally got back into the theater tonight to see The Simpsons movie. I think I agree with the reviews that liked it, but noted that, for the most part, there's not too much here that you'd not see on the TV. I'd also agree that, even with that caveat, it was better than the average new comedy film.

About the only thing I'd have liked to see was a little bit more of the supporting characters, mostly the Springfield Elementary crowd that gets short shrift until the end of the picture. I'd also had some hope that this would be the vehicle to finally get Bart to Antarctica, but it wasn't to be.

We saw the film at Hollywood Hits, which started as a discount theater but is now just an independent showing first-run films along with the occasional indie/foriegn film. I liked it better in its original guise.

Trailers seen before the movie:

Underdog - Live action version of the venerable cartoon. It looks awful. I have a low tolerance for live action movies featuring things talking that normally do not talk.

Hairspray - I'll take the original, thanks. I'm sure this is a nice adaptation of the musical, John Travolta notwithstanding.

Horton Hears a Who - thankfully not another live action version of a Dr. Seuss book. Not thankfully, Jim Carrey finds his way back to Seuss material as the voice of Horton. Steve Carrel voices one of the Whos, which is problematic as all I could think of was that the character's name should be Michael Scott Who.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007


I'm not sure that Sunshine is the right title for the new Danny Boyle film. That sounds too happy and Shirley Temple-ish. It might have been more accurate to call it Improbably Attractive People of Different Ethnicities Argue While Aboard a Spaceship that Is Hurtling Toward the Sun. Or maybe just Hot!!!!

Anyway, it's a pretty good movie. Cillian Murphy is so absurdly handsome that I have trouble focusing on anything plot- or character-related while he is onscreen in any film. They have tried to scruff him up for this one, though, giving him scraggly hair and a hint of stubble, and that helps take the edge off a bit. He even wears a ridiculous little ponytail in one scene.

Also, we got to see the trailer for the new Cate Blanchett movie about Queen Elizabeth. Looks gooood. This is the second movie in what the director hopes will be a trilogy, but as Greg pointed out, they couldn't call this one Elizabeth II.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

After several false starts, I am now reading Final Cut, Steven Bach's account of how Heaven's Gate sunk United Artists. So far the book is highly recommended. I did take the bullet and watch Heaven's Gate a few years ago. I cannot recommend it for any reason other than its infamy. You could read the book while watching the film, and finish the book without losing track of the movie's glacially-paced storyline. Some thoughts:

*If you ever wanted a very concise history of the studio system, what it meant, and how studios failed or prospered once the system went away, it's present in the first few chapters.

*$40 million adjusted to 2006 dollars is about $107 million, which seems a pittance today.

*You'd think Vivendi would have learned from others' mistakes when it decided it wanted to go from a waste-management company to becoming a media giant a few years back. Non-media companies trying to get into the film biz were all the rage from the 60s into the 80s. UA was of course part of Transamerica. Warner Brothers was for a time part of a parking-lot and funeral home empire. The Paramount logo for years told us it was "a Gulf+Western Company" but no one seems to know what that meant. Columbia lasted just five years as "a Coca-Cola Company."

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

The least grateful children on the planet put the "ick" in Sicko

Greg and I saw Sicko last weekend. Weirdly, the part that has stuck in my head has to do with family dynamics, not with medical issues. The documentary spends about five minutes on a couple who spent all their money on medical bills and had to move into their daughter's basement. The daughter and son (or maybe the guy was the daughter's husband; I'm not sure) are just appalling. They begrudge their mother and father every little thing. I'm thinking, Your dad had three heart attacks and your mom had cancer, and now they have to stay with you, and you won't even clean out a room in the basement for them? What is WRONG with you?? Maybe they were horrible parents—after all, how would I know, I'm just some chick at the movie theater—but they brought you into the world, right? And you seem to be healthy and stable and financially solvent, so share the wealth already, you capitalist running dogs with your hulking, ugly "display cabinet" filled with brand-name plastic crapknacks. Just yard-sale that sh¡t already. Your parents are old and tired and they are guests in your house. Give them a little space to rest and recharge.

Even if you hate your folks and want them to suffer, even if they allowed a documentary crew to invade your home without your permission (which seems doubtful) . . . the people on the crew work for MICHAEL MOORE. At least put on an act for them to make yourself look good. Hug your mom and dad, tell them you're glad they're here, offer them your room instead of the basement one. Because your children are watching, too, and I don't think you want them to treat you like that if something bad ever happens to you.

So, am I overreacting? I'm wondering if all this American stand-on-your-own-two-feet attitude is mixing with the "you're super-special" high-self-esteem propaganda to create people who don't even care about their own family members. Arrgh.

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Monday, July 9, 2007

37 Years, Less Than 100 Movies

Greg mentioned the new AFI list of the top 100 movies of the past 100 years, and just to show why I'm a contributor, here are the films on the new list that I've not seen.

1. Citizen Kane - OK, I've seen half of it. The second PBS station in Boston aired it one night, I tuned in, and was asleep about halfway through. Which was too bad, as I did like it quite a bit. I hope they show it again soon so I can find out what Kane meant when he said "Rosebud."

4. Raging Bull - Whenever this comes on I feel like I should watch it... and then I find something else. I'll get around to it.

6. Gone With the Wind - frankly, my dears, I don't give a crap. I've never felt particularly compelled to see this. Carol Burnett in the dress that stil had the curtain rod in it was more than enough for me.

7. Lawrence of Arabia - this is something I do need to correct.

9. Vertigo - this made a 52 place jump from the original list. How does that happen in 10 years? I can say the same for number 11, City Lights (up 65 spots) and number 12 The Searchers (up 84 places). As I've not seen any of them, I'll blame their initial low ranking. Thanks a lot, AFI!

16. Sunset Boulevard - like Kane, it's a movie I've seen part of. Just never gone back to watch the whole thing.

18. The General - I'm not sure I've seen any silent film all the way through. Damn talkies!

19. On the Waterfront - not sure why I've not seen this, but I think having witnessed latter-day Brando, I've been a little skittish to watch his earlier stuff. I know this isn't just a black and white version of The Island of Dr. Moreau, but it's a hurdle I still have to clear.

22. Some Like it Hot - no reason, just haven't.

23. The Grapes of Wrath - for whatever reason, I was in the one English class in 9th grade that didn't read this. I assume they also saw the movie. So I'm blaming Manchester Jr-Sr High School for this one.

Considering I've seen roughly half of the top quarter of list, I'm switching to just numbers now. I have also not seen: 26, 27, 29, 35, 37, 38, 41-49, 51-53, 55, 58-61, 63-65, 67, 73, 74, 77, 78-82, 84, 85, 87, 88, 90, 91, 93, 95, 97, 98, 100.

Looking at what I've not seen, I'm clearly deficient in the Marx Brothers and Hitchcock (it looks like I've mostly seen his non-listed films, oddly enough).

I'm a little confused at some of the additions to the list. For example, which popular phenomenon will seem the most ridiculous in a decade, the overwrought emotions of Titanic or M. Night Shyamalan's one hit wonder The Sixth Sense? Or do we go with the first of the Lord of the Rings movies, which I enjoyed but don't quite see as the 50th best film of all time.

And there are a good half-dozen films that were dropped from the original list that are better than Sophie's Choice, and probably more considering how many of the dropped films I've not seen.

I am happy to see that the new list recognizes that The Shawshank Redemption was the best film of 1994, but am still vexed that Forrest Gump is on the list at all.

It's clearer now than ever why Greg asked me to participate in this, isn't it?

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Kong is King!

Steve and I just watched the original King Kong, the first time for me, and I have just a few observations:

1. Men really hated women in olden times. Not only does Jack Driscoll berate and demean Ann Darrow repeatedly (while also proclaiming that, gee, he loves her) but at the end of the film, it's not the people with guns who kill Kong, but beauty, alias the dame. Boo!

2. Music in old movies can be gorgeous. Nothing like a dramatic score to really build tension. Even with the cheesy graphic effects, I was in suspense.

3. Speaking of cheesy graphics, this film has buckets full, and I loved every minute. One of my favorite bits: when the background starts moving before the people in the foreground start walking. And I loved watching Kong beat up all the monsters. Fake as hell, but totally fun.

4. People love to shoot stuff without thinking it through. Carl Denham and his crew kill a freakin' dinosaur, and then Denham says something like, "Wow, if only I could get one of these alive." Dude, you had the gas bombs! You could have taken it alive! Doh!

5. I really need to make good on my past promises to watch more older movies. There are some real treasures out there. And to think I watched Coyote Ugly on the WB the other night. Boo!

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