albadger: (Film Film Film)
Year 2015 in Review! Yes, this should have been up weeks ago. The nice thing about the past is if you go away and come back it hasn't changed.

Movies I saw in 2015. 119 movies, which includes short films that were in the "Oscar Nominated Short Films" program, so, a little padded:

Alone in the T Shirt Zone, the Amazing Mr. X, American Sniper, Ant Man, Atari - Game Over, Avengers Age of Ultron, Aya, Beat the Devil, Beyond the Time Barrier, the Big Short, the Bigger

Picture, Black Sabbath (1963), Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, Boogaloo and Graham, the Bourne Supremacy, Boyhood, Bus Story, Butter Lamp, the Cabin in the Woods, Captain America: the Winter

Soldier, Carl Panzram: the Spirit of Hatred and Vengance, Cinderella (2015), Claudelle Inglish, Contagion, Crimson Peak, Crisis Hotline - Veterans Press 1, the Dam Keeper, Death Promise,

the Devils (1971), the Donovan Affair, Dragon Wars, Duet, Dünyayi Kurtaran Adam, Edge of Tomorrow, Ejecta, Emak-Bakia, the Evictors, Ex Machina, the Fantastic Four (1994), the Fantastic Four (2005), Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Feast (2014), Fight Club, Footprints, the Great Gatsby (2013), High Wide and Handsome, How to Train your Dragon, the House of the Damned, the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, I Frankenstein, Ida (2013), Inherent Vice, Inside Out, Invasion U.S.A. (1952), Joanna (2013 Poland), the Judge, Jupiter Ascending, Jurassic World, Kingsmen: the Secret Service, Kon-Tiki (2012), l'Inferno (1911), Lot in Sodom, Mad Max: Fury Road, the Man from Planet X, Many a Slip, the Maze Runner,
Me and my Moulton, Menilmontant, Minions, Mr. Holmes, Mr. Turner, the Muppets, Nightcrawler, Norrtullsligan, Now You Tell One, One Million Dubliners, Our Curse, Parveneh, a Perfect Murder, the Phone Call, the Reaper (2013 Mexico), Revenge of the Red Baron, Robot Overlords, San Andreas, Scourge, Selma, Shaun the Sheep Movie, a Single Life, Some of my Best Friends Are, the SpongeBob movie: Sponge Out of Water, Spotlight (2015), Star Wars: the Force Awakens, Still Alice, Strange Magic, Sweet Cocoon, Terminator Genisys, There It Is, Thrilling Bloody Sword, Tomorrowland, Two Days One Night, Unbroken, Underworld (2003), Underworld: Awakening, Underworld: Evolution, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, the Valiant, Vice Versa (1948), Visages d'enfants, Waitress, What We Do in the Shadows, Whiplash, White Earth, the White Parade, Why Be Good?, Wild, a Wild Roomer, Wild Tales, Zombeavers

Favorite new movie is Mad Max: Fury Road, which has, bizarrely, been nominated for a bunch of Oscars, but will probably lose to snoozefests like Spotlight or, worse, the Big Short, which thinks you're stupid and will only pay attention to financial misdeeds if there's a pretty girl in a bubble bath.

Also loved last year's Oscar stuff Boyhood, Mr. Turner, Whiplash and Two Days One Night; insta-classic the Cabin in the Woods and unjustly neglected classic Bluebeard's Eighth Wife. OTOH I really despised the Judge, Nightcrawler and Inherent Vice. Especially the Judge.

On the animated shelf, Shaun the Sheep Movie is blissful perfection, and the Spongebob Movie: Sponge out of Water is better than drugs. I hated Inside Out but not for any failing on its part; it just pushed a lot of really painful buttons for me (a lot of my friends had a similar reaction to Wreck-it-Ralph; I think it depends on what kind of scars we carry from childhood.

Next time, what books I read -- I don't read enough but I read some...
albadger: (Frontier)

I previously posted about getting registered to be a Lyft driver; that seems to have come to an end, at least temporarily. The hitch is that Lyft (and all the app-based jitney outfits) provide their own insurance while a passenger is being carried, and only then, but from the moment I'd "punch in" to announce my availability, my own insurance ceases to cover (since from that point I'm driving a commercial vehicle and not the private car that the policy is for). Somebody smashes into me while I'm driving to pick up the fare, I'm SOL.

I called my insurance, and they offer "rideshare coverage gap extensions" to take care of this donut hole, but only in some states, and not in California. I'd have to cancel my existing policy and buy a new policy that would cover me as a commercial vehicle at all times, and for a lot more money.

My own view, that Lyft and Uber only exist because they push expenses like this onto the backs of working people, once again reinforced. So be warned, if I give you a ride somewhere, it's as a friend, and you can't pay for it. You're not allowed to!

Had a very interesting Tuesday -- drove down to Cupertino, where I lived in the 1980s, and saw a movie in a movie theater I went to a lot in the 1980s, across the street from the community college I attended classes at in the 1980s. Afterwards, met up with [ profile] progbear and had Mongolian BBQ at a restaurant I ate at in the 1980s. Also, the movie was Terminator: Genisys, a sequel/remake/reboot/homage to a 1984 movie. It would have been déjà vu except I really had been there before.
albadger: (Film Film Film)
Just got this in under the wire! In the 18 categories open to English-language fictional feature films, I would vote for, respectively, Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood, Birdman, Two Days One Night, Whiplash, Birdman, Grand Budapest Hotel, Whiplash, Mr. Turner, Whiplash, Grand Budapest Hotel, Malificent, Interstellar, Selma, Interstellar, Whiplash, Guardians of the Galaxy and Grand Budapest Hotel.

Behave accordingly.
albadger: (Film Film Film)
I've been up to less than I should have been -- spiraling in depression and self-doubt, wasting time with freemium tablet games, skipping meals or eating too much depending on the day. I did pull weeds from the back yard for 45 minutes this morning, and if plants had any decency the unpulled weeds would just die out of respect for my effort. And movies. Lots of movies.

This being Awards Season, I am doing my annual attempt to see all the movies that get Oscar nominations for Picture, Director or any acting performance -- since the awards won't be announced until tomorrow (1/15), I've been pro-actively seeing anything that's getting "buzz," like Selma or Whiplash, both excellent movies. Weird thing is, what I'll remember longest is a piece of complete garbage. It's called the Judge, and I only went because Robert Duvall is supposed to get a Supporting Actor nomination for it, and he damn well better, since it wasn't playing anywhere closer than Cupertino, and I drove 60 miles round trip to see it. But what made it memorable...

...not its craptitude, really, but the way it was bad. On the surface, firmly in the Estranged Child & Parent Forced Together by Circumstance & Come to Realize They Still Love Each Other genre, and on that level serviceable; certainly Duvall & Robert Downey Jr. go through all the tired motions adequately. What was indelible was the world this story was set in -- and how blind the film (and the flimmakers) seemed to their bigotry.

It's set in a small Indiana town, where Duvall has been on the bench for 42 years, a stultifying, airless town from which Downey's hot-shot lawyer escaped as soon as he could -- but of course Fate has other ideas, and Downey has to come back & defend Dad from a charge of murder. It's a strange place, where people fall into one of two groups -- the ruling elite, who dress well, behave courteously and have excellent skin. On the other side, the town's underclass, sallow-complexioned, rotten-toothed yahoos who smell of cheap beer and use foul language. Seriously, there doesn't seem to be anybody in between. The murder that the Judge is accused of? One of the hicks -- and a hick that the judge treated leniently years ago.

And you know what happens in this kind of story when an authority figure goes soft on a hick? Yep. The hick turned right around and committed a horrible crime, for which the judge secretly blamed himself... so, years later, judge takes adantage of a dark road and a rainy night, and runs the guy over.

Judge is guilty, and that isn't really a spoiler. Guilt or innocence isn't the suspense point here -- we're supposed to be worried that the old coot will be held accountable for his actions. In the world of this movie, holding a member of the ruling elite accountable would be a bad thing... especially since he was just trying to right a wrong and correct his only mistake, the one time he was too lenient. Agatha Christie seems positively liberal.

So, blindly bigoted storytelling -- but not racist, since the upper class & lower class in this podunk town are nearly exclusively white, the kind of white people who visit New York City and are frightened by the Italians. In most of the USA, we are so used to class lines being deliniated by ethnicity, but that's not always the case... and it's fascinating to see class prejudice so naked, and unalloyed by racism, in a Hollywood movie.

My brother would say, why do you have to make everything political? But am I making it political, or just noticing that it is? Not everything is political -- Selma certainly is, and more power to it, but Whiplash deals with issues of power and coercion on an individual level, and doesn't seem political at all. Those are both great movies, and highly recommended; and while I wouldn't recommend the Judge for a moment (not even camp value), I won't forget it -- because it encapsulates something you don't see in movies very often. Something truly ugly that needs to be addressed.

But maybe not by rich Hollywood millionaires!
albadger: (Film Film Film)
Here they are, in the order I saw them (repeat viewings of Female on the Beach not listed):

the Tree of Life, Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago, War Horse, Can't Help Singing, the Dark Knight Rises, Nebraska, l'Illusionniste, Easy Street, Kid Races in Venice California, the Cure, the Kid, the Vagabond, Inside Llewyn Davis, August Osage County, Back to the Moon, the Secret Life of Walter Mitty (the Danny Kaye one), Dallas Buyers Club, Die Vermessung der Welt, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (American version), Blood Car, Man of Steel, the Rats Are Coming! the Werewolves Are Here!, Dirigible, Her, Another Nice Mess, Silent Night Bloody Night, Paranorman, 10,000 BC, This Is the End, the Mikado (1939 D'Oyly Carte film), Be Yourself, M'liss, die Niebleungen: Siegfried, the Lego Movie, Despicable Me 2, Jackass presents: Bad Grandpa, the Grand Budapest Hotel, Muppets Most Wanted, the Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Noah, die Niebelungen: Kriemhilds Rache, the World's End, Battleship, the Bourne Identity, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Midnight Madness, Ramona, Song of the Fishermen, the Parson's Widow, a Night at the Show, the Epic of Everest, the Waiters Ball, Underground (1928), Dragnet Girl, Harbor Drift, Max Wants a Divorce, Seven Years Bad Luck, the Girl in Tails, the Sign of Four, Maleficent, All Monsters Attack, Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, Godzilla (2014), Birth of the Living Dead, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the Haunted Palace (1921), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Beast with a Million Eyes, the Foxy Merkins, Nightmare City, I Don't Want to Be Born, the Pirates of Penzance (1983), Snow White and the Huntsman, Lucy, Anna Karenina (2012), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I Am Divine, Guardians of the Galaxy, Almost Human, Chicago (1927), the Big Swim, Curse of the Puppet Master, Pururambo, a Film Johnnie, Big Business (1929), Daisy Doodad's Dial, Should Married Men Go Home?, Son of the Sheik, the Rollicking Rajah, Two Tars, the Zero Theorem, the Boxtrolls, Gone Girl, Cocksucker Blues, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Thor: the Dark World, Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same, Anaconda, Black Death, Interstellar, Of Mice and Men (film of 2014 Broadway production), Tom's Gifts, Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal, Big Hero 6, the Letter (1929), Dunderklumpen!, the Theory of Everything, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Birdman, the Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, Into the Woods (2014), Autumn Leaves, the Imitation Game, Big Eyes, Foxcatcher

Lots of silents, thanks to the Niles theater and the SF Silent Film Festival. Favorite 2014 I saw this year is easily Grand Budapest Hotel, no contest, though I found the new Godzilla oddly satisfying. Of older movies, I was delighted by the two Madeleine Olnek features, but Anaconda was clearly the find.

Worst movies I saw were, as usual, due to my urge to see all the Oscar-nominated Best Pictures & performances; I hated Dallas Buyers Club and Foxcatcher in almost equal measure, though I will cut Foxcatcher a little slack because of the surviving Schultz brother's recent antics; if a film cannot entertain, it can at least invoke amusing behavior in others.

Most movies seen solo, as per my single childless loser status, alas, but more enjoyable than any of the movies were the wonderful people I got to see some of them with. Thanks, guys & gals!
albadger: (Carol Channing!)
I've been threatening you with my Oscar picks for ages! I did want to wait until official voting was closed, so as not to affect the outcome, but screw that, we're gonna go back anyway and set things right.

  • Best Supporting Actress: You're going to want to vote for Gloria Grahame in Crossfire for the year 1947. Celeste Holm actually wins, but she seems to be a cold-hearted bitch in real life, so we don't want to reward her -- and if you pick Grahame this time, then she will get fewer votes in 1952, when she actually does win, allowing the correct winner that year -- Jean Hagen in Singing in the Rain -- to triumph instead.

  • Best Supporting Actor: Got to go with Basil Rathbone in If I Were King, 1938. Did you actually see Kentucky, which "boasts" Walter Brennan's actual winning performance? Horrible movie, and the worst thing Brennan ever did. Anyway, Walter won 2 years ago and will two years from now. Ew. Now, if Rathbone takes the prize instead, this may help him fight the pull of alcoholism and despair that ruined his life and led to, well, this.

  • Best Actress:We're gonna go back to 1954 for this one, and give the Oscar to Judy Garland, just to see the look on Grace Kelly's stupid monkey face.

  • Best Actor: Complicated, but trust me: Robert Donat for the Citadel from 1938. This will moot the following domino trail:

    1. Spencer Tracy wins lead actor Oscar for Boys Town, and he isn't even the lead, Mickey Rooney is; Academy immediately regrets this.

    2. Robert Donat wins for 1939's Goodbye, Mister Chips as a sop; Academy immediately regrets this.

    3. James Stewart, who should have won in 1939 for Mister Smith Goes to Washington, wins consolation Oscar for the Philadelphia Story the next year; Academy immediately regrets this. Eventually.

    4. Henry Fonda, who should have won for the Grapes of Wrath in 1940, wins for 1981 sentimental goo On Golden Pond, leaving poor Dudley Moore to go to his grave un-Oscared.

    5. Also, Fonda's win in 1981 vacuumed up his co-star Katherine Hepburn, who upset perceived front-runner Meryl Streep, who -- had she won that year -- would probably not have been given a Career Achievement award for 2011's ghastly the Iron Lady, and Glenn Close would have finally taken home the gold, not that Close shouldn't have already for Dangerous Liaisons, which I will grant you has nothing to do with any of the preceding.

    So, yeah, Robert Donat in 1938.

  • Best Director: Just vote for Howard Hawks. Doesn't matter if he's on the ballot. Do it.

  • Best Picture: I don't understand this category. Wouldn't the Best Picture in any given year be the same as it was the year before unless (an off chance) a better movie was made in the last 12 months? I mean, seriously... King Kong is the Best Picture until Road House, and then Road House is the Best Picture until Adam Sandler. Why have the same argument every year? It gets old.

So, there you have it, my advice on casting your Oscar ballot. The machinery we'd need to get back to the correct years does consume the energy of three small suns, but you have to decide where your priorities lie, don't you?
albadger: (Eagle)
Went out this morning to see the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD telecast of Werther, at the Century Hayward -- sadly not featuring yummy Jean-François Borras, but drab, dingy international superstar Jonas Kaufmann (funny how stars always get over whatever they're sick with when there's a camera pointed at them). Opera was nice, though the sound dropped out for the last 10 minutes, giving us elderly attendees a taste of what Silent Opera was like before Sound Opera was invented. But what happened before the show was more interesting still.

I parked in the nearby garage and found myself ambling very slowly to the box office; no surprise, as the Live in HD crowd doesn't move fast... but today I was stuck behind a slow-paced young woman, dressed to today's fashion, a spaghetti-strap top leaving a lot of skin bare. I hoped that she'd be going to the opera as well, and liven the joint up a little, so I didn't push past... but when she got to the box office...

  • GIRL: I'd like a ticket to "the Return of Dorothy."

  • CLERK: [confused silence] Uh... We're not showing that movie.

  • GIRL: No. You are. It started last night. "The Return of Dorothy."

  • CLERK: Hold on just a bit... [checks paperwork] I'm sorry, we're not showing that movie.

  • GIRL: [Angry silence. Turns away and stalks back to garage.]

I felt bad for her, and curious, so after I got my ticket to Werther, I pulled out my Nexus 4 and tried to look up "the Return of Dorothy." I hardly needed to, as this display was in the hall outside the Live in HD auditorium:
Return of Dorothy
Apparently she'd gotten the month wrong. She was a fan, I could tell.

I could tell because, proudly displayed on her right shoulder, was a huge tattoo of Judy Garland as Dorothy; beneath that, tattoos of the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman and Cowardly Lion. On her back she had tattooed a poem, which I tried to read as I walked behind her, and seemed Oz-related as well, but it was either read the poem or walk without falling over, and I picked not falling over.
Next time: Oscar picks! I'm not sure which year they'll be for, though.
albadger: (Killing Spree!)

One of my OCD things is to see every movie that has received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, Director, or any acting performance. Last 2 years I've been getting pro-active, and (using CostCo passes & senior matinees) going to see the likely candidates in the theater before the nominations are announced. When the noms were released last Thursday, I'd nearly covered the field, with only Dallas Buyers Club and Her left to go. So I saw Dallas Buyers Club on Friday. Here's why I hate it.

This is the story of a heterosexual man who gets HIV, presumably from sex with a skanky ho. All around him, the homosexuals are getting AIDS and withering and dying, or (at best) meekly following the rules set down by the Big Heartless Medical Establishment... and then withering and dying. But since our hero is heterosexual, he takes control of the situation, bucks the system, and SURVIVES! Oh, and he meets an effeminate boy who wants to be a girl, who dies tragically. And is played by an actor who takes every opportunity to boast of his hetero cred.

And I thought, what year is this, anyway?

This got put into perspective by the next movie I saw, a strange German thing in 3D called Measuring the World, thanks to [ profile] thornyc, [ profile] mudcub and [ profile] bigjohnsf. Movie is about 2 19-century scientists:

  1. Gauss, who was heterosexual and is shown naked and coupling with a kitchen wench and his bride (not at the same time!); and

  2. Humboldt, who in real life was clearly homosexual, but in the movie is a sexless buffoon, though he does travel with a heterosexual Frenchman who is shown naked & coupling with the native girls.

I kind of liked the movie anyway, and I certainly appreciated that Humboldt didn't die tragically so the heterosexual characters could learn a valuable life lesson.

albadger: (Film Film Film)

List of all the movies I saw for the first time this year:

Abby, Aeon Flux, After Earth, American Hustle, Amour, Anchorman, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Ben Hur, Blackenstein, Blackmail (silent version), Blue Jasmine, the Cameraman, Captain Phillips, Chanel Solitaire, City Girl, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Fanny (1932), Flight, Frozen, Gravity, Griboche, the Half Breed, Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters, the Heat, Hitchcock, The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug, the House on Trebnaya Square, the Hunger Games, the Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the Impossible, the Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Invasion of the Star Creatures, It Started with Eve, King Kong Lives, Knives of the Avenger, Langang: Dance of the Virgins, the Last Edition, Lee Daniels' the Butler, Les Miserables, Let the Bullets Fly, Life of Pi, Ludwig II, Magdalena Possessed by the Devil, the Magic Serpent, Marius (1931), the Master, Mirror Mirror, Moneyball, Museum Hours, My Week with Marilyn, the Narrow Trail, Now You See Me, Oblivion, the Oogieloves in the Great Balloon Adventure, the Outlaw and his Wife, Oz the Great and Powerful, Pacific Rim, Philomena, Power, Prix de Beaute, Saving Mr. Banks, the Sessions, Silver Linings Playbook, Sisterakas, Something in the Wind, Star Trek Into Darkness, the Three Stooges (2012), Toomorrow, the Trespasser, the Turin Horse, 12 Years a Slave, Waltzes from Vienna, Weary River, the Wolf of Wall Street, the Wolverine, the Woman in Black, World War Z, Zero Dark Thirty.

Lots of silent movies on this list, thanks to the SF Silent Film Festival and the Niles Silent Film Theater, both highly recommended. I made some more headway on my OCD project of seeing every movie that ever got an Oscar nomination for Picture, Director or any acting performance (see below), finally sat down & watched the last Hitchcock film that I had never seen, and found the proper environment in which to watch a postapocalyptic Will Smith vanity project.

Bulk of the list is old stuff, but Favorite Movie of 2013 that I managed to see would be Gravity. Exercize in pure style, sure, but what style. Also liked 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle, both high-level OscarBait, and the Heat, which in a better world would be OscarBait. "Worst" is harder; even the officially bad movies like After Earth and Pacific Rim aren't hateful or mean, they're just stupid; fine time-wasters on a cross-country airplane trip. Wolf of Wall Street I am of two minds on; it's brilliant and funny, but it's also self-indulgent, overlong, and pornographic (which I usually mean as a compliment but not this time). I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

Of the less current films, I loved my discovery of the Niles theater more than any individual movie I saw -- I've thought about going there since they opened but didn't until just last year (thanks, [ profile] scottasf!) Worst older movie -- again, the traditional "bad movies" like Invasion of the Star Creatures and the Oogieloves are just stupid time-wasters, perfect for Netflix streaming, and I can't hate on them... the way I can hate on Zero Dark Thirty, a poorly-paced, badly-acted full-of-itself prestige turd (granted, the last 20 minutes rocked. Thanks, Joel Edgerton!) Or Weary River, which got an Oscar nomination for Directing in 1929, apparently for the number of victims who stabbed themselves in the eardrums rather than hear the title song for the 37th time.

Or the way I really, really hate on the Turin Horse, the most agonizing 15 hours I've ever spent watching a movie. And the critics praised it to the skies. Well, not all. Just some. And now I'm listening to Nightvale instead of movie reviewer podcasts because of this one movie.

Next up, my riveting tale of live performances attended in 2013. Click the button below for further updates! Wait, what happened to the button?

albadger: (Badger on Diablo)

I got a bit thrown by the unconscionable, uncivilized lack of free WiFi in our Filled-with-French-hipsters hotel in NYC, so I got off track posting to ze blog extrodinaire. Over a week, and I post only 1 commercial with a hot bearded guy. Slipping.

Two jobs right now: first, the future, which is Germany for a week -- I'll be in Hamburg seeing operas. Also seeing an opera in a town that apparently doesn't exist, which should be interesting. Second, the past, and some deck-clearing, reporting on the exciting things that happened that didn't get blogged when they should have. Here goes!

Read more... )
albadger: (Krusty's Terrified Audience)
A comment a friend left on my previous post had me thinking... my recent dermatology adventure involved down there -- and the very concept of "down there" is ineluctably bound in my mind to a Sex Ed class I was forced to sit through in 1970 -- hapless instructor showed us the Innocent Party, even then 11 years old but felt like centuries past. There's an exchange between the 2 young men at approximately 6 minutes 10 seconds in:

"I've got some kind of sore... down there!"
"Don't worry about it... probably just a pimple or something."

At the word "pimple" the entire class burst into hysterical laughter. Poor instructor got horribly upset, stopped the movie, and spent the remaining 30 minutes of the class making sure we realized that syphilis was no laughing matter! Of course, we were all thinking, if it's no laughing matter, why are you showing us a comedy about it?

I wonder what would have happened if we'd gotten as far as the toilet seat scene...
albadger: (Bear and Trainer)
Awake because I'm about to leave for the airport and an exciting weekend in Tucson. I rented a car. I was going to get a convertible, but it's a bear event, so an actual back seat may come in handy.

Tired because instead of coming right home & getting to sleep at a decent hour, I went to the AMC Bay Street 16 and saw Life of Pi in 3-D. Highly recommended! I didn't know anything of this except that a kid is on a lifeboat with a tiger. And that's the center of the movie, but I found the entire thing engrossing... and the 3-D actually pays off artistically, though (happily) things are thrown right at you every now and then. Including a tiger.

Next post will be from Tucson. Stay healthy until then!
albadger: (Krusty's Terrified Audience)
Just got back from seeing the new les Miserables movie, and I can't think of many movies where I've bawled like a little baby that much at, yet are fundamentally awful movies.

And no, the problem isn't the cast, not even Russell Crowe. I've seen people savage him, like somehow he's murdered Musical Theatre single-handedly, like Musical Theatre didn't survive Vanessa Redgrave in Camelot. And nobody seems to like the Marius and Cosette, though to me they seem appropriately vague. And, yes, Anne Hathaway earns that Oscar. In terms of the screenplay, it's actually a slight improvement on the stage play, and restores a lot of things from the book, like the convent, Marius' grandfather, and best of all the Elephant. But still it's a crap movie, solely because of the way it's shot.

Shot in close-up. Extreme, tight close-up. ALL THE TIME. Intimate scene, spectacular scene, indoors, outdoors, doesn't matter to Tom Hooper (confession: I loathe the King's Speech). Duets are alternating tight close-ups, group sings are shuffles of tight close-ups, rapid cutting just to get all the giant heads in, camera shaky and hand-held as often as not. Over and over, prison, brothel, barricade, he ends a scene with me thinking, what they staged was clearly more interesting than the tiny sliver of it that's on screen.

Oh, but I was blubbering when the bishop made his gift, when Fantine spiraled down into despair, when Eponine lunged for the gun, and completely lost it at the end. The material is stronger than the telling. Still, I wish they'd picked a different Hooper to direct.
albadger: (the Swingin' Eye)
[ profile] scottasf called up & suggested a movie, but we couldn't find a single current film we could agree on... then he said one word, and I said, "YES -- we are doing THAT..."

That word was "Niles," as in the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. Every Saturday at 7:30PM they have a program of silent movies with live piano accompaniment. I've been wanting to go there for years but never have, so we turned our back on the modern culture that produced Zero Dark Thirty and a Haunted House. Rather gladly.

The place itself is tiny, with uncomfortable chairs probably salvaged from an abandoned elementary school (there are free cushions to soften the pain). The museum component is fascinating, with all sorts of stuff from the Nineteen 'teens and '20s. And only 5 bucks for the show, too!

Program had shorts from Snub Pollard and Charlie Chase, followed by the feature, Power, about two rough-and-tumble construction workers who keep fighting over the same dames because the two of them can't admit their real feelings for each other. I think I'm making up the last part there. Very typical of its day, nothing special, but Alan Hale is engaging, and William Boyd looks a lot like Robert Montgomery. Carole Lombard and Joan Bennett in tiny parts. All three films had that wonderful aspect of unintentional documentary, windows onto the fashions and ethos of nearly a century ago, plus fascinating looks at Los Angeles as it was still half-grown.

I'm definitely going back to Niles -- in a few weeks they're showing the 1921 version of Kean, and after that, Murnau's City Girl, which I'm particularly excited about. And it's easy to get to -- just get off I-880 at Alvarado-Niles Road and drive southeast until the train station is on your left! Or you could turn west on A/N Road and go to the Union Landing 20-plex instead & see a Haunted House. Ew.
albadger: (Film Film Film)
Just back from seeing Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino answering the question, what do you do after making a masterpiece but you're not really a master, you just lucked out? And the answer, weirdly, does not involve giant apes climbing skyscrapers this time.

Maybe I'm too jaded. Maybe I'm so old movie violence neither repels me nor intrigues me. Maybe I don't need people who get shot in the head to expel gallons of fake blood in gravity-defying directions for me to think, if I got shot in the head it wouldn't look like that. And, yeah, I know we're not supposed to wonder about dynamite in 1858 when it was invented in 1867, or wonder exactly what part of Mississippi looks that much like Wyoming, or why the bad guys don't just hammer the good guy's skull in when they have a perfect chance instead of sending him off with a henchman and closing the door so they can't see the good guy make his escape. Which at least Austin Powers was funny about... And, yes, this has gotten raved about by critics. But still.

For me, uninvolving from beginning to end. Cristoph Walz is wonderful, and nearly kept my attention, but he's playing second fiddle to a flat, dull lead (perhaps meant that way, since the movies this is based on tended to have flat, dull leading men). The rest... meh... though I wouldn't be surprised if in 40 years, some young hotshot makes a movie based entirely on his youthful watching of Django Unchained, which would be a movie about a movie about cheap, bad movies that were imitations of earlier cheap, bad movies. And then, someday, somebody would make an homage to that.
Second review -- of MoviePass! MoviePass promises unlimited movie viewing in theaters for a flat fee. Well, a little limited; you can only see one movie one time, and only one movie a day, but still, that's up to 31 movies a month! Score! So I enrolled & installed the app on my phone. They sent me a card. Very simple, just register the card with the iphone app, select the movie on your app (you have to be within 100 yards of the theater), then swipe the card at the automated kiosk & you're in! I got my card and turned on the app. "Type in the last 4 digits of the card to register it," says the app. I do so. The app turns the entire screen a light gray and then does nothing. Ever. Reboot and repeat. I ended up using a pass I got at CostCo last year. MoviePass, you haven't heard the end of this!
albadger: (Baby Hitler)

Netflix streaming is nearly my only access to movies right now -- I don't get cable, don't get Netflix DVDs by mail, and am too lazy to walk the few steps between my computer and my TV to plug the HDMI cable between them (which would give me YouTube on the big screen, and such gems as Cthulu Mansion, thank you Juan Piquer!). And Netflix enables my worst habit.

You see, there's no penalty for starting a movie, so I start movies. Mockbusters from the Asylum, quirky indies, overlooked classics. And there's no penalty for bailing on the movie after 15 minutes. Usually because the movie sucks, but as often because I just can't get engaged, or I'm hungry, or there's a moth I have to track down and kill. Or.

Here's the case of Atlas Shrugged: Part I. Worst movie ever, say many, or at least the 14 people who have seen it so far. Given that Ayn Rand's two major Hollywood efforts, the Fountainhead and Love Letters, are both hilarious, marrying A-list budgets to Ed Wood-style dialog & bizarre acting, hey, why not give it a chance? Sadly, there's bad and then there's bad. ASP1 is just dull, scene after scene of meetings in board rooms and restaurants as the rich and privileged Novacainely read from the Tele-Exposition-Prompter, with occasional cutaways to stock footage and fake news. But if I give up on this, I thought...

...if I give up on this movie, it's because I'm a brain-dead liberal, right? It's because I've been softened and corrupted by government handouts, right? It's because I'm weak. And I'm not weak. So I stayed with it. 30 minutes. 37 minutes. I even posted to Facebook that I was watching it. 45 minutes. My sister-in-law replied to my post, saying, "well somebody's got to watch it!" And that's when it hit me.

I wasn't watching ASP1 for any personal gain. Not education, not entertainment, not even the delicious shiver of shadenfreude that a truly Bad movie brings. I was watching it so I could tell other people, and then they wouldn't have to suffer through it. Watching ASP1 was itself an act of altruism!

And thus, the watching of the movie is condemned and despised by the very film being watched. So, yeah, I bailed at 45 minutes. It seemed rude to keep watching if the movie didn't want me to.

But I've been thinking, and I realize it would be more honest to say that Netflix enables my second worst habit. But that's not important now.

albadger: (Carol Channing!)
"Quite a torrent coming out of these faucets," he said. And it was all I could do to keep myself from replying, "you gave two and a half stars to Laserblast?!?"
albadger: (Default)
Juan Piquer Simón died last year, and how did I miss this? The creator of Pieces, Pod People and the marvelous gem Slugs - which somehow escaped my attention until today, and is actually based on a novel. I have now replaced my lifelong goal of driving over all 8 Bay Area toll bridges in one day with starting a Juan Piquer Simón film festival in San Leandro.

Okay, that's over, I'm back to the bridge thing.

albadger: (Film Film Film)
I did promise to post about every movie I saw, and I've been unsurprisingly remiss. But what, really, does anybody have to say about Rachel Getting Married? And sad, gagging noises don't count as something to say. The concept of the Four Word Film Review makes more and more sense. The concept, not the reality. Most of their "reviewers" get the concepts of "review" and "synopsis" confused. Also, I have still not forgiven Four Word Film Review for rejecting my excellent four-word review of Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World, apparently because they found it offensive or obscene or indecent or something. Friggin' prudes.Wow. That was oddly therapeutic...


albadger: (Default)

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