May 2009 - Posts
Over the long holiday weekend, I had some time to sit back and watch a handful of movies. Some were enjoyable, others not so much. I thought I'd take a moment to compile some thoughts in a massive 5 part mini review.
reboots and re-imagines the Star Trek franchise with a younger crew and a LOST
like time travel story which allows him to form his own universe and still pay homage to the original series. This is definitely the most watchable and action packed Star Trek movie yet. The casting is perfect. I did have some problems with too much slapstick comedy, but nowhere near as bad as The Trouble with Tribbles
Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3
After watching the first POTC film, Curse of the Black Pearl,
I had no intention of watching the sequels. But when there's nothing new on TV, my standards fall faster than dress on prom night, so I watched Dead Man's Chest
which, of course, is a cliffhanger - so the next day I watched At World's End
. To be honest I wasn't really impressed. The art direction is cool, but these movies are just WAY TOO LONG. There are so many story lines and backstabbing characters that I just didn't care.
The Incredible Hulk
I have a soft spot for comic book super hero movies, so I decided to check out the new
Edward Norton Hulk
. Unfortunately, It felt very much like the Eric Bana Hulk
minus Nick Nolte
. You always get the same scenes of tank throwing and car smashing. What?!? The Hulk has to fight the army? When does that ever happen? And just like last summer's Iron Man
, we're left without a substantial villain so we get to see the Hulk fight a bigger Hulk. Groundbreaking. Look at the Dark Knight
. It's not Batman that made that flick awesome - it was the Joker.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
It's about love and art and thinking you know what you want out of life, then realizing you're wrong and realizing you still don't know what you want. It's really cool to see Woody Allen
take a story outside of New York City and shoot some absolutely gorgeous Barcelona landscapes. I'm still lukewarm on
- I have it on good authority that she's good in other movies, but I have yet to see her in a role that blows me away. Best part of all was my fiance agreed to watch it, stayed awake through it's entirety and really enjoyed it. No easy feat.
You’re a casting director with a time machine. Name your quintessential 70s cast. Include (at least) a lead actor, a lead actress, two supporting roles and a cameo. For extra kicks, name what genre of film it would be.
Earlier this week the "Big Three" TV networks announced their 2009-2010 season lineups. In general I'm pretty happy because a large number of interesting new shows and underdog series have made the cut, including
Better off Ted
The real surprise of the week is NBC's cancellation of My Name is Earl
after 4 seasons. There's a campaign on twitter
to try and save the show, but it may be too late. I think at the end of the day we have to blame Jay Leno, SNL and network cutbacks (ok, maybe just the network).
As you've probably heard, Jay is moving to prime time and eliminating 5 hours a week of regular programming. I believe NBC is doing this because it's cheaper than producing REAL content for those 5 hours. NBC is doing this to Earl by putting a 30 minute version of SNL's Weekend Update in it's place on Thursday nights, again to save money. It's an unfortunate sign of the times. Before you know it, all that will be on is FOX "News", soaps and reality television. Ugh.
Hal Ashby's fifth film, Bound for Glory, seems a perfect fit for a director interested in outsiders and nonconformists.The film follows the exploits of Woody Guthrie during the dust bowl era. It is based on Guthrie's autobiography, which apparently is not all together based on fact. The picture was nominated for several Academy Awards, winning a best cinematography Award for Haskell Wexler. It was recently screened at the Aero (which features Klipsch Cinema Systems) in Santa Monica, California with Wexler and two of the stars in attendance - David Carradine and Ronny Cox. It sounds as if... it didn't go as well as planned.
The setting is a Texas town in 1936 that is rapidly vanishing. Everyone is trying to come up with a plan to make some money, and most of those plans involve going to California. When we meet Guthrie (played rather brilliantly by Carradine) he is a sign painter and part time musician. He has a wife and kids to feed, and the economic challenges put a strain on the family. After a huge dust storm hits, there is even less opportunity, so Guthrie takes off hitchhiking for California to try to find income to support his family.
The film meanders with Guthrie as he hitchhikes and hops trains, meeting new people along the way. Eventually he comes to identify more and more with the thousands of poor and out of work people he finds living together in labor camps (Wexler reveals the camp with the first steadicam shot in film). A fortunate break allows him to start making an income as a musician, enabling him to bring his family out to California, but he never forgets the downtrodden workers and continues to be involved in the union movement. Even if your politics slant the other way, Bound for Glory is an interesting and well told tale.
As was common in films of the decade, Mr. Ashby paints an unheroic portrait of the protagonist. We see him, warts and all. Guthrie can seem completely committed to his family, but then cheats on his wife repeatedly. He is a complex, if frustrating character to watch. Carradine really brings a lot of passion to the performances, mostly in the movie's second half. But what keeps the movie really going is the excellent music. If you enjoy Woody Guthrie or folk music in general, you won't want to miss this film.
The disc was released in 2000 and unfortunately includes no extra features. The image is high quality and preserves the dreamlike fogginess of the dusty plains. The music still sounds great in 2.0 mono.
The first connection that came to my mind was the boxcar rides of the experimental film I'm Not There, about various phases of Bob Dylan's life (there is a Guthrie phase). Walk the Line was a well made, more conventional biographical film based on a musician. Not about a musician, but Martin Scorsese's The Aviator also portrays the early, formative years of a legendary figure on the rise.
John Schlesinger began directing television and feature films in Britain during the late 1950s and early 1960s. His early work is part of a movement in that country called Kitchen Sink Realism. Mr. Schlesinger would go on to work in the United States with as much success, and considered himself a "mid-atlantic." His best known films include Billy Liar, Midnight Cowboy (Best Picture Winner), Sunday Bloody Sunday and Marathon Man.
As the film opens, we see archive footage of marathon runner Abebe Bikila. As he finishes a race we cut to a man running in New York City. His name is Thomas 'Babe' Levy (Dustin Hoffman), a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia in history. He is studying the same areas as his father before he committed suicide after a 1950s McCarthy-era investigation. Babe has a brother Henry, known as 'Doc" (Roy Scheider) who is often traveling. As far as Babe knows, he works for an oil company. While at the library studying Babe meets a beautiful young woman from Switzerland. When Doc comes into town the three of them go out for dinner.
Parallel to the story of Babe, we see an older German man at a bank looking at a safe deposit box. He takes something out, puts it in his pocket and leaves. As he drives away he has car trouble. An impatient Jewish man explodes in anger and the two begin racing down the street, smashing into each other on their way to crashing into a fuel truck. Fire and death ensue.
How do these two story lines connect? It isn't apparent at first. In fact, the movie is a little confuzing early on. But things pick up as we are given more pieces. Let's just say there is murder and torture involved, as well as double agents and Nazis. The brother of the German man is Dr. Christian Szell (Sir Lawrence Olivier), a Nazi criminal. After his brother's death, he attempts to visit their safe deposit box to retrieve the valuable contents. And Babe finds himself in the middle of it all, with even less understanding of what is going on than we have. The film is a great thriller filled with twists, turns and plenty of paranoia.
One last bit of info. Blogger pal Phil and I watched this movie during lunch at Klipsch in one of our listening rooms with the HD Theater 500. Sound was fantastic. Couldn't believe it was coming from such a small system.
The DVD features a widescreen presentation and the option of Dolby 5.1 or Dolby 2.0 audio. Extras include a look back at the making of the film, as well as a featurette from the time and some original rehearsal footage.
Dustin Hoffman's most recent film, Last Chance Harvey, was also directed by a Brit. There is a reference to Marathon Man in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow when, after seeing a holographic image of Lawrence Olivier, a character repeats the infamous question, "Is it safe?" And for a more recent movie that involves international spying, murder and espionage (yet based on actual events) look into Steven Spielberg's Munich.
Last Wednesday night I'm sitting in bed watching some TV, and what do I see in the corner of my eye? Klipsch copper. I double take, and there it is again, but I can't tell what it is. So I hopped online this morning, took a screen grab and asked my friends down to the Klipsch lab to identify it for me. They give me some back talk about how they're really busy and they'll take a look in 4 to 6 weeks. So I slipped them a Hamilton and they told me it's an
. Very nice.
Where did I see such a product on Network television? I was watching The Unusuals
(the N is backwards in the title, but our blogging software doesn't even let us post videos, so why bother?). The show is about cops in New York City's 2nd precinct, and the very strange cases they find themselves investigating. I'd call it a mix of funny and sometime serious, with just a hint of the paranormal.
In this episode, Detective Eric Delahoy (Adam Goldberg
), says, and I quote, "Those are nice" when referring to the RVX-54s. So my question is, does this count as a fictional character endorsement?