Film, TV & Theater Articles
Fun Horror Films With Wax (28 Jul 2014 08:02pm)
There is one young lady I follow on Google+ who has a Christian kind of name, but basically only posts videos from The Twilight Zone. I'm quite the fan of the show and that's undoubtedly why I follow her. I often make comments, pointing out things about the production. You know me. But she posted th...
Dallas Buyers Club Works Well Enough (27 Jul 2014 03:51pm)
I finally got around to watching Dallas Buyers Club. I really didn't want to watch it, but a lot of people told me I should. It turned out to be exactly what I thought it would be—exactly the kind of film that I don't need to see. More important: it is exactly the kind of film that the Academy...
Why So Down on Krippendorf's Tribe? (21 Jul 2014 01:44pm)
Last night I watched Krippendorf's Tribe the 1998 filmed version of Frank Parkin's almost unrecognizable novel of the same name. Since it first came out, I've been a defender of the film. It certainly isn't great art—or art at all. It is just a silly film that doesn't try to be anything else. ...
Unreasonably Beautiful People (14 Jul 2014 09:56pm)
Since I seem to have been ensnared by Game of Thrones, and have given up on doing some rather pressing (and actually fun) database work, I thought I would leave you with a disturbing observation. As I have gotten older, I went through a bad period, and ended up with rather bad teeth that I work very...
That's Right: I Watched Game of Thrones (14 Jul 2014 04:29pm)
I figured that it was about time that I check out Game of Thrones. So I got the Complete First Season and watched the first two episodes. These things are always nice in seeing old character actors who I admire, like Mark Addy as the king, and Iain Glen as some other guy who seemed okay until I lear...
Me and You and Everyone We Know (04 Jul 2014 09:27pm)
The other night, I watched, Me and You and Everyone We Know. And I loved it. But it is not a typical film, so as I went to write about it, I needed some help remembering what I had been thinking. So I went to Wikipedia where I found that the consensus is, "Miranda July's debut feature is a charmingl...
Brave Is Kind of a Mess but Enjoyable (26 Jun 2014 12:12pm)
Last night I watched the 2012 animated feature Brave. It is what it is. Visually it is stunning. But it's curious. Much of the background animation could be mistaken for live action. The rendering of a waterfall was absolutely fantastic. But then in that environment exist all the characters who by a...
Kagemusha Is a Great Film, Of Course (25 Jun 2014 12:54pm)
I recently watched Akira Kurosawa's film Kagemusha. It is one of his films that gets neglected—at least by me. I think I've watched it once since seeing it in the theater when it was first released. But as I was watching it, I got really excited. I thought, "This is the best Kurosawa film!" An...
DVD Commentaries as Film Studies (24 Jun 2014 05:58pm)
A couple of days ago, I was commenting on The Q Filmcast episode on Ichi the Killer after writing my own review of sorts. In the crew, I think of James Savage as the intellectual. He was, for example, the one who made them watch Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. (Have I mentioned that I've made...
Ichi the Killer Is Silly But Not Fun (22 Jun 2014 07:52pm)
Somehow, the Q Filmcast guys sort of challenged me to watch, Ichi the Killer. Michael tweeted to me, "Have you seen ICHI? You may need some help sorting this one out Frank." And followed it up with, "Yes, just to hear you attempt to make sense of it would be marvelous." Now, I was deceived, but it w...
Good English Dubbing in Bicycle Thieves (21 Jun 2014 05:38pm)
I have written about Bicycles Thieves before, Mercy and Justice in The Bicycle Thieves. You should read it, because it is short and it gets to the core of what is so great about the film. I conclude, "Life goes on. Justice is denied. And we feast on the crumbs of each other's mercy." I think most pe...
Some Decent Songs in Frozen (19 Jun 2014 10:05am)
I just watched Frozen. It's about what you would expect. Well, that's not exactly true. The script was certainly far less carefully crafted than most animated features. And it does seem to be falling into what seems to be a trend in animation: plot padding. There is far too much action for action's ...
Why Angel Heart Is an Important Film (18 Jun 2014 10:01am)
Alan Parker is one of my favorite film directors. Unlike most film directors who are often great in their own ways, Parker is an artist. I don't think it is any surprise that he directed two of the best filmed musicals ever: Pink Floyd—The Wall and Evita. And that's not even counting Fame and ...
Problems With Split Screens (08 Jun 2014 06:05pm)
There are two reasons that I don't understand anonymous blogging and both of them act as reasons for blogging anonymously. First, I'm a narcissist. Writing is an extension of me and I can't imagine doing it without getting credit for it, even though I mostly do it to please myself. Second, I'm an id...
Casablanca Is Not a Great Film (07 Jun 2014 10:21pm)
In 1992, I went to the Cinema 21 in Portland, Oregon to see Casablanca. It was the 50th anniversary release of the film and the place was packed. I had never seen the film in the theater, so that was very nice. But I remember walking out afterwards, and hearing a guy say, "I never knew it was such a...
Ada Rehan, Shaw, and Shakespeare (06 Jun 2014 10:51am)
Last night, I read a review of a production of As You Like It in 1897. It was written by George Bernard Shaw and the focus was on Ada Rehan in the part of Rosalind. He's very fond her. I would even go so far as to say that he might have a bit of a crush on her. But much of the review is about how he...
Ken Burns' Cold War The War (04 Jun 2014 09:25pm)
After suffering through little bits of The World Wars, I picked up Ken Burns' documentary, The War. I'd heard great things about it, but I didn't even get half way through the first episode. Maybe it's just that I'm in a bad mood. Or it could be that it is so much not what I expected. I mean, the th...
Suicides and The Bridge (02 Jun 2014 04:03pm)
I'm very fond of the Janis Ian song, "The Bridge." The first line of the song is, "The bridge that spans the gap between our souls..." And that is the obvious symbolism of a bridge: something that brings people and places together—that fills in the missing bits of our communal soul. I live ver...
The Conversation Is One of the Greatest Films Ever (01 Jun 2014 04:46pm)
I have a secret list of films that I think are magnificent. Some of them are silly like His Girl Friday and some are epic like Ran. But there is one film on the list that I don't even like talking about because I really don't know what it is, Francis Cooppola's The Conversation. I've watched it twic...
Godspell Positive Vision of Christianity (28 May 2014 08:59pm)
I've been a fan of Stephen Schwartz for a very long time. I don't think his importance in musical theater is fully appreciated. He, and not Andrew Lloyd Webber, was really responsible for modernizing musical theater. And, of course, whereas Webber has a very shallow well of melodies, Schwartz is ver...
Joe Miller Joke Book (26 May 2014 01:57pm)
I've been kind of down recently, literally feeling like Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey) at the beginning of The Mask. And I thought, "I know! I'll do what Stanley does: I'll get some old cartoons to cheer me up!" So I requested a bunch from the library, including Looney Tunes Super Stars: Daffy Duck. N...
Kenneth Branagh as Macbeth (23 May 2014 08:45am)
I have long believed that Kenneth Branagh is the greatest Shakespearean actor ever. Of course, he has all the actors that came before him to build upon. But he is so much better than the generation that came before, that it is hard to escape the conclusion that he really does bring something special...
Heroes for a Debased Culture (18 May 2014 03:32pm)
I've only seen two films by Francis Lawrence. You probably know him from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I haven't seen that. I try to avoid films that are aimed at that just about puberty demographic. Plus the series is apparently where reasonably interesting directors go to cash in. The first one...
The Best Altman Gosford Park (16 May 2014 10:44pm)
I have mentioned many times that Gosford Park is one of my very favorite films. But I've never really written about it. Tonight I sat down and watched it again and it has lost none of its power. It's hard not to compare it to Downton Abbey which is like a cartoon version of Gosford Park. The differe...
The Music Man (15 May 2014 11:07pm)
I sat down this evening and watched The Music Man. (Guess why.) In general, I don't think musicals translate very well to the screen, but this film was even further harmed by the choice of Morton DaCosta to direct it. He directed the original Broadway version, and I'm sure he did a great job. He was...
Will the Real Frank Conniff... (09 May 2014 11:38am)
In 1955, Frank Conniff went to the Soviet Union to interview Nikita Khrushchev and other communist leaders. This led the following year to his winning the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting. At that same time he was a minor celebrity—frequently appearing on Who Said That?—a game s...
Things I Now Notice About Rockford Files (01 May 2014 07:17pm)
I've been revisiting one of my favorite television shows from my youth: The Rockford Files. It is really nice when childhood obsessions turn out to be as good as you remember and that is definitely true of this show. In fact, it is a lot more complex than I was aware of at the time. Some things that...
Fanfare for a Death Scene (16 Apr 2014 07:09pm)
Andrea mentioned watching the beginning of a film in which Telly Savalas played a Chinese man, Fanfare for a Death Scene. Well, I had to see that! To me, Savalas will always been the Tootsie Pop sucking, "Who loves ya, baby?" spouting police detective in Kojak. I've seen him in other things, so I kn...
The Guard Is Fun but Shallow (05 Apr 2014 07:20pm)
After gushing a bit about Brendan Gleeson, JMF recommended that I watch The Guard. And so I did. It is an amusing and interesting film, written and directed by John Michael McDonagh. It is hard not to compare the film to the work of his brother, Martin McDonagh. And it makes me wonder if I hadn't re...
Agatha Christie's Poirot (04 Apr 2014 02:19pm)
Recently, I've been watching a lot of the British television series Agatha Christie's Poirot. It's the one with David Suchet in the title role. I remember watching it when it first came out; I was blown away by Suchet in the part. I was used to Albert Finney in Murder on the Orient Express and Peter...
Sabotage May Be Worst Film I Ever Saw (03 Apr 2014 03:16pm)
On Tuesday, I went to see Sabotage with my brother. Now I'm used to seeing pretty bad films with my brother. The truth is, my brother has no taste. I'm not being cute here. I mean literally that he has no taste. He'll watch anything. So Arnold Schwarzenegger was in this film and away we went! But it...
Rubber Is Good Psychotronic Fun (01 Apr 2014 08:18am)
Consider this story idea: an abandoned tire becomes conscious and goes on a killing spree. If you are very boring, you might turn this into a stripped down version of Christine. But if you were Quentin Dupieux, you would turn it into a postmodern circus that plays with various realities before comin...
Cons Think Colbert Is a Double Agent (28 Mar 2014 10:21pm)
Digby sent me to this very interesting study that shows exactly what I've known for a long time, The Irony of Satire: Political Ideology and the Motivation to See What You Want to See in The Colbert Report. For those who do not know it, The Colbert Report is more or less a parody of Bill O'Reilly's ...
Moral Cowardice in Good Night, and Good Luck (28 Mar 2014 04:14pm)
Last night, I watched Good Night, and Good Luck for the first time since it came out. I didn't enjoy it as much as I did the first time. The screenplay is thin. There are lots of musical interludes and similar tricks to fill out the film to its sort (for a drama) hour and a half running time. What's...
Dad and I Go See Gravity (23 Mar 2014 05:15pm)
I took my father to see Gravity at the cheap theater today. And our reactions were exactly the opposite. We both rather liked it. But I loved the first hour and thought the last half hour was total rubbish. My dad thought the first hour was kind of boring and the last half hour was a thrill ride. He...
Two Points on The Human Centipede (23 Mar 2014 10:14am)
Recently, I was told about the film The Human Centipede. I figured it was something campy like "bug man." But no. It is about an evil scientist who connects three people together, mouth to anus. Hence: human centipede. I have not seen it. I will not see it. I have a problem with scatological materia...
Wonderful Legacy of the Krofft Brothers (22 Mar 2014 12:08pm)
When I was a kid, H R Pufnstuf was a big show. It seemed to be on all the time. But I did a little research last night and found out that only one season of the show was ever produced—just 17 episodes. But my perception that it was on all the time was right. Although NBC did not make any more ...
Shakespeare Uncovered (20 Mar 2014 05:07pm)
I was looking for something to watch on Netflix last night and after looking for a long time, I came upon Shakespeare Uncovered. It's a six-part PBS series that dives into (more or less) one play per episode with a famous actor. The first was about Macbeth, which is probably my favorite Shakespearea...
Bad Oscar Winners (18 Mar 2014 10:06pm)
I just found this Watch Mojo video, Top 10 Worst Best Picture Oscar-Winning Movies. I thought it would be fun, but it only annoyed me. I probably should have guessed. Because there is one thing that I thought all people who really like movies as an art form agree on: the Academy Awards are a joke. ...
Killers, Drug Dealers, and a Racist Dwarf (18 Mar 2014 04:14pm)
Last night, I watched In Bruges from writer-director Martin McDonagh, probably best known for the recent Seven Psychopaths. It's interesting that his films are so visually interesting when he is, at heart, a playwright. But the thing about filmmaking is that it is a group effort. I know if someone w...
Kiss of the Spider Woman 30 Years On (16 Mar 2014 03:25pm)
I just watched Kiss of the Spider Woman. I first saw it right after it came out in 1985. It was a great film and particularly appropriate because the authoritarian regime in the film could easily have been the El Salvadorian government of that time, which was a very big issue in the United States. A...
First David Brenner Tonight Show (15 Mar 2014 11:23pm)
I just heard that David Brenner died. He was 78 and had been suffering from cancer. I loved him when I was a kid but he's fallen off my radar since then, although I would occasionally see him pop up. His act hadn't really changed at all. And he was hugely influential. He was a critical part of the m...
The Fatal Flaw in And Justice for All (15 Mar 2014 09:47pm)
I was just washing dishes and it hit me: I know what is wrong with the film And Justice for All. Now understand, it isn't a bad film. Not at all. But really, it ought to be a great film—or at least close. And it isn't. It is about an important subject and it provides a surprisingly accurate re...
We Are No Better Than the Sumerians (12 Mar 2014 01:01pm)
I have a long running obsession with the Sumerians. They were, after all, the people who invented writing. Of course, we aren't talking great works of art like The Iliad, Don Quixote, and SpongeBob SquarePants. The purpose they put that writing to was just what you would think. "Larsa owes Sippar on...
Poultrygeist Is Perfect in Its Way (11 Mar 2014 03:43pm)
This morning, Andrea told me that she started to watch a movie but only made it three minutes before she turned it off—it was so bad. That peaked my interest. Andrea has reasonably good taste in films, but she's also quick to judge and often bases her dislike on minor things. A single aspect o...
Innumeracy in A Beginner's Guide to Endings (07 Mar 2014 09:00am)
The other night I watched the not altogether bad film A Beginner's Guide to Endings. It actually has a fairly clever script, which could have used a few more rewrites. The directing is stylish enough to be interesting but not so much as to be annoying. And the acting is good. Except for Scott Caan; ...
Die Wand or The Wall (04 Mar 2014 09:50pm)
Imagine a film that combines My Side of the Mountain and Kierkegaard's The Sickness Unto Death. Sound like fun? Then you should see Die Wand, Julian Polsler's faithful 2012 cinematic adaptation of Marlen Haushofer's book of the same name. Perhaps in the past, you've thought, "I like Wim Wenders' fil...
The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders (04 Mar 2014 01:15pm)
Andrea brought my attention to the following Saturday Night Live faux-trailer for a Wes Anderson horror movie with the very funny title, The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders. I think the idea is to play with the idea of Wes Anderson as Wes Craven. Mostly, it is a parody of The Royal Tenenbaums...
The Lone Gunmen (03 Mar 2014 05:07pm)
In my recent discussion with my conspiracy theory believing friend, the subject of The Lone Gunmen came up. It was a short-lived television series spin-off of The X-Files. I had never heard of it, but that is hardly surprising, since I have never seen an episode of The X-Files. I don't intend to be ...
Herd Mentality on Shark Tank (28 Feb 2014 11:04pm)
I just caught the very end of this week's episode of Shark Tank. As you may have noticed in the past, I don't care for the show. It provides a ridiculous view of how venture capital actually works. But more important, it mythologizes the rich and pushes the idea that the rich are entrepreneurs when ...
Good and Bad From Terry Fator (28 Feb 2014 10:52am)
Last night, after watching The Painting, I searched Netflix for "Terry Pratchett," probably because it was Richard Coyle's birthday and he had starred in Going Postal. There were no Pratchett related films, but Netflix offered me, Terry Fator: Live from Las Vegas. If you don't know him, Fator is a v...
Politics and Ontology in The Painting (27 Feb 2014 09:52pm)
Andrea wrote a teaser of an article over at ALE Designs about the 2011 French film, Le Tableau. In America, the film is called The Painting and so shall I from now on. It tells the story of a group of figures in an unfinished painting. There are the self-proclaimed leaders of the painting, the Alldu...
The Croods Has Something to Say, I Think (27 Feb 2014 12:45pm)
Last night, I watched the 2013 animated feature The Croods. It's an amusing and fun but ultimately forgettable film about a family of cavemen and their journey from fear to curiosity. Or something. It is kind of hard to say because the film only plays around with a plot. The story focuses on Grug, ...
We All Deserve to Die (26 Feb 2014 09:56am)
All through the night, I had this going through my head, "We all deserve to die. Even you, Mrs. Lovett; even I." If you don't recognize it, it is the song "Epiphany" from Sweeney Todd. I watched the film for the first time a couple of days ago. It is a fine film: your typical "boy who kills people m...
Why I Don't Like The Big Bang Theory (25 Feb 2014 10:11am)
Over at Wired, the Angry Nerd discusses why he doesn't like the television series The Big Bang Theory. You can watch the video below. The problem is that he doesn't really explain what his problem is, so I thought that I would. Many people over the years have gushed to me about the show as if I wou...
Political Writers Turn Off House of Cards (24 Feb 2014 10:02am)
Ah, television! Or at least television series. Over the years, I've been very into some popular series like Arrested Development and Deadwood. And I was very much a fan of Breaking Bad through the fourth season. But some shows never really click for me. The biggest example of this was The Sopranos. ...
Braveheart's Torture Problem (23 Feb 2014 06:27pm)
I watched Braveheart again today. I saw it when it was out, roughly two decades ago and I rather liked it. So as is usual for me, I read everything I could find about the history of William Wallace and Edward I. Of course, I found the film was about as far on the fiction side of "historical fiction"...
Free Will and Fun in The Incredibles (21 Feb 2014 11:01am)
Last night, I watched The Incredibles. It is a feature length animated film about a family of super heroes. Think: Fantastic Four meets Roseanne. It was written and directed by Brad Bird, and like most of his work, it is a hell of a lot of fun. The first half of the film is a parody of the super her...
Glengarry Glen Ross Signifies Nothing (17 Feb 2014 01:51pm)
The guys at the The Q Filmcast do a podcast every week where they pick a film on Netflix to discuss. It is a surprisingly good show. There are five of them and they never seem to agree. Thus far, I have agreed the most with their producer Adam Rodgers, who the rest of the gang seem to think is a cin...
Maximilian Schell Suddenly Gone (17 Feb 2014 12:16am)
I was shocked to see that Maximilian Schell died at the age of 83 back on 1 February. He seemed healthy, but apparently he got a bad case of pneumonia and quickly died. The next thing you know Max von Sydow will be dead and I won't know what to do. These people I don't personally know are so much pa...
To Live With Ikiru (15 Feb 2014 03:00pm)
After many years, I watched Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru. It is the story of a man who learns that he is dying of stomach cancer and so decides to use his life to do something meaningful. You can well imagine what kind of sentimental claptrap this would be in the hands of Hollywood. Ikiru—which mean...
The Trials of Mid-Level Actors (15 Feb 2014 11:18am)
Andrea alerted me to the documentary That Guy... Who Was in That Thing. It consists of interviews with 16 relatively familiar screen actors about the acting business and their lives. It's interesting because we don't get much information about actors at that level. I didn't learn much, however. I'm ...
Rian Johnson's Problematic Looper (14 Feb 2014 10:45am)
Another day, another time travel movie. Last week, I watched Looper and last night, I watched a bit of it to remind me what it was all about. It is the third film by Rian Johnson. The first was Brick, an interesting but ultimately disappointing film. The second was The Brothers Bloom, an interesting...
Dark Cynicism in House of Cards (13 Feb 2014 11:35am)
I've decided to get rid of my Netflix account because I'm just not using it. So last night I watched the first episode of House of Cards because I've heard good things about it. I've heard good things about Orange Is the New Black too, but I just can't deal with a prison drama. Given that House of C...
Captain Phillips Is a Laudable Thriller (10 Feb 2014 03:09pm)
Regular readers doubtless know about my trips to the movies with my comic book loving brother. These normally end in what I refer to as my "Marxist movie reviews." These are reviews of films as they function as government propaganda. See, for example, Marvel's The Despots. But yesterday, I had a dif...
My Partner the Ghost (29 Jan 2014 09:24pm)
When I was perhaps 8 years old, I saw a television show one Sunday evening. It was called, My Partner the Ghost. Basically, it was a show about two private investigators. The twist was—What a surprise!—one them was a ghost. So it was basically like The Rockford Files, but it was funny an...
Rian Johnson Delights and Disappoints (28 Jan 2014 02:19pm)
I'm am fond of the film The Brothers Bloom. It is a mess of a plot with a totally inappropriate ending.[1] But there is so much to like in the film that it triumphs nonetheless. But even more than that, it is a film that has made me want to check out other things that writer-director Rian Johnson ha...
Class Distinction in The King's Speech (27 Jan 2014 04:25pm)
I finally got around to watching The King's Speech last night. It is a very good film. It looks great and the acting is flawless. It is that most most unusual of films: a character-based narrative. The plot only matters in so much as it motivates the characters. And the two primary characters are re...
An Enjoyable Adult Melodrama (26 Jan 2014 10:50pm)
Last night after my less than thrilling Silver Streak adventure, I decided to watch A Late Quartet. This is unusual for me. The film is barely a year old, and I find myself more and more trying to go back and pick up gems that I have missed from the past. But this film called to me, probably because...
Second Thoughts About Silver Streak (26 Jan 2014 02:16pm)
Last night, I sat down and watched Silver Streak. I was kind of excited actually. I hadn't seen the film since I was in high school. And much later, I read a screenwriting book by Syd Field. In it, he talked a lot about the film and clearly thought that it was a great script. Even at the time, I tho...
My Mad Search for River's Safe Word in Serenity (21 Jan 2014 03:31pm)
Last night I watched Serenity again. It is the movie Josh Whedon made after Fox canceled Firefly and then it became a huge hit. If you've seen the film, you know that River goes crazy, kicking some major The Matrix-style butt, and her brother, Simon, runs in at the last minute and yells, "Blah blah ...
The Cradle Might Fall (13 Jan 2014 06:20pm)
This article contains some of my reflections on the movie Cradle Will Rock. I've avoided it for 14 years for a very unfair reason. The last years of his life in America, Orson Welles went everywhere trying to get funding to make a movie about this same exact subject. But of course, who could trust W...
Deep Thoughts on Sherlock Season Two (12 Jan 2014 01:46pm)
I finally got around to watching the second season of Sherlock. It is a well made series. But there is a real limit to how much of it I can take. The biggest problem is what they have done to Holmes himself. In the original stories, he is brilliant and arrogant and flawed; but he really does care ab...
The Count of Monte Cristo (09 Jan 2014 11:35am)
In 1844, Alexandre Dumas started serializing The Count of Monte Cristo. It was kind of his War and Peace—a novel with so many characters, you need a chart to keep track of it. Really! Wikipedia provides one: Count of Monte Cristo Relations. And even the highest resolution version is hard to re...
Why the Duck Dynasty Bleeps? (05 Jan 2014 09:26pm)
I just had a thought about Duck Dynasty. Remember last October when Phil Robertson was complaining that the "editors" of the show were putting in random bleeps to make it sound like the clan was made up of a bunch of foul-mouthed hicks? I wrote about it, The Sad Reality of Duck Dynasty. At the time,...
Missing Scene From Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (02 Jan 2014 05:16am)
Hamlet Will you play upon this pipe? Guildenstern My lord, I cannot. Hamlet I pray you. Guildenstern Believe me, I cannot. Hamlet I do beseech you. Guildenstern I know no touch of it, my lord. Hamlet 'Tis as easy as lying: govern these ventages with your fingers and thumb, give it breath with ...
Charm, Magic, and Kevin King (31 Dec 2013 08:54pm)
I wasn't going to write any more today. I'm tired. Really tired. The holidays wear me out. What's more, it is new year's eve and I hate new years eve. I feel like I, as a radical pedestrian, am not allowed to leave the house tonight. I left earlier to pick up some food for dinner. And in that brief ...
Rewriting Hamlet (24 Dec 2013 05:56pm)
Here is a really funny sketch with Hugh Laurie and Rowan Aktinson, "A Small Rewrite." Laurie plays "Bill" Shakespeare and Aktinson is his editor. I especially like the part about the length. "Act three may be a bit long? In fact, generally I think we got a bit of a length problem... It's five hours,...
Blackfish (22 Dec 2013 04:26pm)
The Q Filmcast guys did Marwencol this week. It tells the story of artist Mark Hogancamp. It sounds really good and I expect that I will watch it at some point. However, it did not seem like a very good choice with my continuing depressive period. But at the end of the show, they did another of thei...
A Great Filmed Midsummer Night's Dream (12 Dec 2013 10:24pm)
I've spent the last week, perhaps more dealing with a vague anger. It is not a personal thing, because life continues on rather well. But the world itself seems especially unjust. Maybe it is the season. Regardless, I have been treating myself to such delightful diversions as I can find. Tonight I t...
Pennies from Heaven, Roses from Cairo (06 Dec 2013 10:45am)
A couple of weeks ago, Will mentioned to me that he had seen Pennies From Heaven. He asked what I thought of it and I told him I wasn't that fond of it. I didn't think it worked. But I began to think back on the film and reconsider it. After all, I was only 17 when I saw it. So I picked up a copy an...
My New Romantics Anonymous Video (02 Dec 2013 09:59pm)
I created another video. Kind of. My short love letter to Romantics Anonymous was flagged by the fucktards at Studio Canal. YouTube announced that the video would only be allowed to be shown in some countries. Well, I thought one of those countries was the United States, because I could watch it. Bu...
Thematic Problems in The Heat (29 Nov 2013 07:10pm)
One of the things I was looking forward to on Thanksgiving was watching The Heat with my family. I didn't know anything about the film except that it starred Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, both of whom I like. The beginning of it was typical enough. Bullock plays FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashbur...
No Economic Lessons from Star Trek (27 Nov 2013 11:38am)
Oh my! Matt Yglesias is back to talking about Star Trek, The Star Trek Economy: (Mostly) Post-Scarcity (Mostly) Socialism. It is based upon some recent work by another unapologetic nerd Rick Webb, The Economics of Star Trek, which is ridiculously long for such a silly article. Is it unfair of me to ...
Two Great Vincent Price Murder Films (26 Nov 2013 08:30pm)
Before there were slasher films that systematized violence to the point of pure boredom, there were great horror films in the 1970s. Unlike great murder fests of earlier times like House of Wax, these films were quite graphic—not, "cutting off a limb with a chainsaw" graphic, but lots of blood...
The Q Filmcast (23 Nov 2013 04:36pm)
I've written a lot around here about the distinction between a critic and an ombudsman. When it comes to film, there is very little criticism. Mostly, so called movie critics are nothing but ombudsman. People get the idea that I think there is something wrong with being an ombudsman. There isn't. My...
Peter Wintonick's Direct Cinema (18 Nov 2013 04:50pm)
Documentary filmmaker Peter Wintonick died today at the age of 60. If you know of him, it is probably from his film Manufacturing Consent. And if you are younger, you probably know Noam Chomsky from the film. Made in 1992 with Mark Achbar, it is a three-hour long exploration of Chomsky and his work,...
Where's My Third Lost Skeleton Film?! (17 Nov 2013 03:37pm)
My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts of another "Lost Skeleton" film? Well, even if it can't, I don't know if it matters. I'll discuss it in a moment. But first, you may ask, "What does he mean by this 'Lost Skeleton' film of which he speaks?" It is a natural question that a person wit...
American Myth and Escape Plan (24 Oct 2013 11:12pm)
As I noted this morning, I went to see Escape Plan with my brother. Given that it is a Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, I expected it to be terrible. It wasn't. I found it more engaging than I expected. It is a prison break film, and as such, there was much more actual plot than...
Sherlock (07 Oct 2013 11:02pm)
I've just been introduced to the British television series Sherlock. Netflix estimated a ranking of 5 out of 5 stars for me. I think the only time that happened before was based upon an Akira Kurosawa film, and of course, it was right. So last week, I sat down and watched the first episode. It was g...
The Artist Is Silly and Wonderful (06 Oct 2013 10:34pm)
I just saw The Artist for the first time. I haven't avoided it; tonight was simply the first chance I got to see it. A number of people have recommended it to me. And let me be blunt: it is my kind of film. People like me love films about film. And The Artist is charming as hell. If for no other rea...
Great Political Analogy, Terrible Film (30 Sep 2013 04:23pm)
You may remember two weeks ago, I compared John Boehner to General Hummel in The Rock. The point was that Hummel threatened to kill 80,000 people in San Francisco, but when his bluff was called, he was unwilling to do it. In the film, he is killed and his subordinates try to do it anyway. Although B...
The Third Act of Wag the Dog (07 Sep 2013 11:46pm)
The reason I was so late getting the birthday post done today was that I decided to watch Wag the Dog. I've been aware of the film since it came out. How can anyone interested in politics and film not be? But I never saw it, probably because I figured that it wasn't that good. The idea behind it is ...
Digging to Enlightenment (03 Sep 2013 10:59pm)
I'm going to discuss the whole plot of El Topo in this article. I assure you, it does not matter. The plot of the film is not the point. But if you want to watch the film before knowing what happens, don't read on. I finally got around to watching Alejandro Jodorowsky's film El Topo. For those of y...
Rocky and Bullwinkle (31 Aug 2013 11:02pm)
As you may know, I am a huge fan of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. It is one of my primary comedic influences and probably explains the very high level of silliness in my writing. Of course, the show was very silly. But like most great comedy that we enjoy as children, I didn't get a lot of the joke...
Film Blunder Blunders (27 Aug 2013 01:51pm)
I found a YouTube account CinemaSins, which produces a series of videos with titles that start, "Everything Wrong With..." It sounded like fun, so I watched Everything Wrong With Jurassic Park In 3 Minutes Or Less. Some of it is remarkably observant and often funny. But it is wrong at times. For exa...
Loser Superheroes (27 Aug 2013 12:09pm)
I was surprised to see that Netflix gave me a "best guess" rating of 4.1 stars for Mystery Men. I recalled watching it a long time ago. I really wanted to see it because it looked like the kind of silly madness that I very much enjoy. But the film turned out to be only okay. There are obvious proble...
Isabelle Eberhardt (26 Aug 2013 01:37pm)
My friend Bob introduced me to a 1991 film Isabelle Eberhardt. It is kind of like "Isabelle of Arabia." It tells the story of the real life title character and the end of her life as a journalist and advocate for the people of Algeria during the French occupation at the beginning of the 20th century...
Giving Up on America in God Bless America (07 Aug 2013 05:04pm)
Last night, I had a curious reaction to a recent Bobcat Goldthwait film, God Bless America. For those unfamiliar with it, it is a "black comedy." But that hardly captures the essence of the film that pushes the limits of even that very broad category. It tells the story of Frank Murdoch, a quiet and...
Todd and the Book of Pure Evil (06 Aug 2013 11:32pm)
Netflix highly recommended a Canadian television series to me, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil. I was skeptical, but I figured I would give it a try. After all, Netflix has a good track record with me. Plus, it was recommending the series because on my interest in John Dies at the End. And I was plea...
A New Pippin Production (05 Aug 2013 10:28pm)
Before Andrew Lloyd Webber destroyed Broadway with his tuneless operas, there was Stephen Schwartz who wrote the songs for two iconic musicals of the early 1970s: Godspell and Pippin. Then he more or less disappeared from Broadway until 2003 when it seemed he shocked the theater world with Wicked. ...
Why Screenplays Suck (20 Jul 2013 10:47am)
I was on Slate this morning, and I saw a link to another article asking the question, "Why Does Every Movie Released These Days Feel Exactly the Same?" I had to click. For one thing, I thought I already knew. The link brought me to an article by Peter Suderman, Save the Movie! Its thesis is that mov...
Devil in a Blue Dress (17 Jul 2013 10:45pm)
The film Devil in a Blue Dress was recommended to me. It is freely based upon the Walter Mosley novel. And it manages to do something that it quite interesting. It is a very funny comedy pretending to be serious film noir. In that way, it really brings back memories of The Big Sleep. But that film ...
Joe Fleherty and Ancient Messages (12 Jul 2013 12:42pm)
You probably remember Back to the Future Part II—certainly the weakest of the franchise. But the end was good: a Western Union messenger shows up to give Marty the 70 year old letter from Doc that tells him what has happened and sets up the last movie. Well, that courier was played by a person...
Odd Thomas Odd (08 Jul 2013 12:08pm)
I got to watch a new film that has thus far only been making the festival rounds, Odd Thomas And this is strange, because it is a major production by Stephen Sommers, who directed The Mummy and other blockbusters. It is based upon the Dean Koontz novel of the same name. And the the film stars Anton ...
Accents and Star Trek Into Darkness (03 Jul 2013 12:57pm)
In order to escape the heat yesterday, I snuck away to the cheap movie theater and watched Star Trek Into Darkness. I was none too pleased with the first "new old" Star Trek. In particular, I don't buy most of the characters. The only one who manages to make me believe he's the real guy is Karl Urba...
Jesus Reborn as Superman (22 Jun 2013 10:34am)
Despite my better judgement, I went to see Man of Steel yesterday. Comic book heroes are silly. I mean, really? You have super acrobatic abilities and can echolocate so you dress up in a red costume with DD printed on the chest? Really?! It makes no sense, especially given that both the bad guys and...
How to Watch Pride and Prejudice (13 Jun 2013 06:20pm)
I just watched the 2005 film version of Pride & Prejudice. It's the one with Keira Knightley. When it comes to filmed versions, most people mention the 1995 BBC version with Colin Firth. And I agree that it is quite a good version. But although it is well done, it is still typical of such versio...
The New Season of Arrested Development (28 May 2013 02:13pm)
Peter Queck and Bhaskar Sunkara provided me with my first review of the fourth season of Arrested Development. And they managed to put just about everything I hate about "criticism" into one article. Their fundamental problem with this recent material is that the producers of the show have changed i...
Pirini Scleroso (26 May 2013 01:04pm)
I don't much care for American sketch comedy because of the generally poor writing. The typical skit is some funny idea that the writer (although the actor is often more important than the writer) riffs on for a while and then just stops. For example, Julia Sweeney's androgynous Pat character. Pat e...
Arrested Development Season 4 First Look (26 May 2013 12:52am)
The fourth season of Arrested Development came out this morning on Netflix. I watched the first episode. They seem to be structuring the episodes differently this time. Each one focuses on one character. This first episode was on Michael. In the original series, it took quite some time to realize th...
Heckler Not About Hecklers (22 May 2013 12:59am)
Netflix kept pushing a documentary named Heckler on me. So I finally watched it. I'm curious about the phenomenon. It is very strange to me that people go out to see a comedian and then decide to interfere with the show. I understand they are usually drunk, but I still don't get it. So I was quite i...
Space Cowboys Crashes (17 May 2013 07:19pm)
Last night I watched Space Cowboys, Clint Eastwood's film about a group of old men who finally get their chance to go into space. It reminds me of something Andrea said after the very similar movie The Crew came out. "These films about old men reliving their glory days are really interesting. I wond...
The Charm of Star Trek (15 May 2013 02:55pm)
I'm not much into science fiction except in as much as it is about the nature of consciousness or is just well written. It is rarely either. I am more or less a Star Trek fan, but that has nothing to do with science fiction. Just because a melodrama is placed in space doesn't make it science fiction...
Cold War Politics in Hogan's Heroes (14 May 2013 12:01pm)
When I was a kid, I loved the show Hogan's Heroes. What's not to love? In the middle of an unpopular war, we got comedy about the most noble war in our history. Plus: zany Nazis! What I didn't understand at the time were all the politics. Some of this was quite good. The lovable Sergeant Schultz, fo...
Humor in Iron Man 3 (09 May 2013 10:09pm)
There was one thing in Iron Man 3 that I really liked: Ben Kingsley. When I saw that he was in the film, I figured he was slated to play the bad guy. Those tend to be the kind of roles that he gets. And at the beginning of the film that looks about right. Actually, it sets up a plot with two bad guy...
Sick and Laughing (05 May 2013 11:32am)
I swear I am getting worse. In addition, I think I'm taking too much cold medicine. The combination of the nighttime cold & flu and the cough medicine has made it so I can't quite walk straight. Nonetheless, the cough goes on and the nose drips like the bathroom faucet. In order to get though th...
Pretentious Puppets (02 May 2013 08:23pm)
I just watched what I think of as a deeply flawed but interesting documentary Puppet. It follows the Dan Hurlin production of a puppet play about the photographer Mike Disfarmer. My problem with the film is that it isn't focused. It is kind of about the theatrical backstage, kind of a about the stat...
9 Is Not a Lonely Number (01 May 2013 10:31pm)
A couple of years ago, when I first saw the movie 9, I thought I perceived in it a new kind of dramatic structure. Having just watched it, I see now that I was wrong. The film is structured as a number of clear sequences—seven or so (I haven't studied the film). And as such, it is a pretty typ...
Sin No More Against Bill Forsyth (28 Apr 2013 02:12pm)
I have long been a fan of the Scottish director Bill Forsyth. He is most remembered for two of his earlier films: Gregory's Girl and one of the greatest movies ever made, Local Hero. Annoyingly, after that, few people seemed to care, even though he made three excellent films in quick succession: Com...
In the Loop (26 Apr 2013 10:35am)
Last night, I tried to watch two films. I've been putting off watching Three Kings for some time, so I finally sat down to watch it. It seems partly based upon Kelly's Heroes, which I don't much like. But I have to say, Three Kings made me appreciate it more. This isn't because of the film. It is ab...
Third Time with Downton Abbey (19 Apr 2013 08:31pm)
I can't really take anymore of this Boston business. There are things to be happy about, but mostly I'm finding my fellow citizens (including the president) disappointing. So let's talk about Downton Abbey. Finally, I've watched the whole series. But I didn't watch it in order; I watched it in this...
Once Upon a Time in the West (18 Apr 2013 11:19am)
Longtime reader and insightful commenter JMF had mentioned a few times that he really liked the Sergio Leone film Once Upon a Time in the West. I hadn't thought that much of it, but I'd only seen it once about 20 years ago. So I decided to revisit it. And it was a revelation. One thing I wouldn't h...
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (14 Apr 2013 05:22pm)
Last night, I finally watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Normally, when I see a trailer for a film, I am filled with scorn. Trailers are very predictable and usually turn even good films in a mush of cliches. But that wasn't the case with this film. Probably it had something to do with the cast...
Harlan County, USA (09 Apr 2013 10:01pm)
I've seen scenes from Barbara Kopple's documentary about the Brookside Miners' Strike, Harlan County, USA. But I'd never sat down and watched it—until tonight. I'm very fond of documentaries generally, but this one is certainly one of the best I have ever seen. It was so good, in fact, that as...
Dramatic Momentum and Third Acts (09 Apr 2013 02:59pm)
I've been thinking about two comedies recently that have what I normally consider problematic third acts. The first film is kind of a classic of this kind of problem, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The third act is a total muddle. Lothos tries to woo Buffy, she rejects him, he attacks her and is killed i...
AAA Hollywood Asshole James Cameron (08 Apr 2013 01:35pm)
I am something on a connoisseur of director commentaries on films. Of course, most are quite awful; generally, I would rather listen to a writer or a historian discuss the films. But directors often tell you a lot about how little they understand the art form they work in. And often, they show what ...
Were Women Allowed to Act in the Theater in the Shakespearean Era? (05 Apr 2013 12:06am)
As I was putting together today's birthday post, I came upon Adrienne Lecouvreur, a French actress during the early 18th century. I had no idea who she was, but she was born in 1692 and it got me to thinking about the laws against women actors in England during the Elizabethan theater. As I recalled...
Arrested Development Season 4! (04 Apr 2013 08:57pm)
I know this news will be important to a number of my readers: the fourth season of Arrested Development is coming out next month. Netflix announced that they will be releasing 15 new episodes that will constitute a fourth season. All of the episodes will be released at once at 12:01 am Pacific time ...
The Gorgeous Mask of Zorro (30 Mar 2013 08:00pm)
There are certain men who define different kinds of ideals of male beauty. Cary Grant and George Clooney are one kind. Another kind of ideal is represented by Antonio Banderas. In addition to being just plain gorgeous, he has a quiet confidence that is irresistible. Like most people, I first noticed...
Why Sarah Jessica Parker is a Bitch (26 Mar 2013 10:11am)
Recently, I've made reference to the fact that Sarah Jessica Parker is not a nice person. I don't actually know much about Parker. I base the statement on an interview with Dolores Fuller that was part of the extra features on a DVD of Plan 9 from Outer Space. Sarah Jessica Parker played the part of...
Death Bed: the Bed that Eats (16 Mar 2013 03:55pm)
The other night, I was watching to The Comedians of Comedy. It is pretty good. It features Maria Bamford who is brilliant and hilarious. Overall, it is worth checking out, but it isn't great. The event is hosted by Patton Oswalt. At the end of the show, he does a monologue about writing screenplays...
Speculations on MSNBC Shake Up (15 Mar 2013 09:21pm)
I'm sure you've heard that MSNBC is moving Ed Schultz to weekends and moving in Chris Hayes to do his old time slot. In one way, I'm thrilled about this. Chris Hayes is a good, solid, and articulate liberal. He is the best thing that MSNBC has. I look forward to watching his show while I cook dinner...
The Ides of March (15 Mar 2013 08:11pm)
Why should we beware the ides of March? Certainly we should be concerned about the Romans who counted days in as logical a way as they counted numbers: that is very illogically. Take the ides for example. They are on the 13th of the month. But not in March. In March, they are on the 15th. Why? Becau...
Fantasy in Reservoir Dogs (13 Mar 2013 01:43pm)
Every day, You Tube sends me a collection of videos that I might like to watch, and they are usually right although I rarely take the time to watch them. Anyway, today they sent me the "Light a Virgin" scene from Reservoir Dogs. I had just been talking to Will about that scene and how I had read tha...
Django Unchained Not Racist But Not Good (11 Mar 2013 01:43pm)
I finally got a chance to see Django Unchained without even indirectly putting any money in Quentin Tarantino's pocket. That's very important to me, because as much as I think that Tarantino is a very talented guy who at times makes fine movies, I am also convinced that he is a total dick—symb...
A Good Day to Die Already! (28 Feb 2013 08:13pm)
There are two contrasting scenes at the beginning of A Good Day to Die Hard that perfectly encapsulate what is wrong with the American action film genre. The first finds John McClane in a taxicab in Moscow. The cabby learns that he is from New York and starts singing "New York, New York." When McCla...
In Which I Discuss Gus Van Sant One More Time (26 Feb 2013 08:29pm)
About a year before making Elephant, Gus Van Sant headed out into the wilderness with Casey Affleck and Matt Damon made Gerry—an improvised drama based upon the Kodikian and Coughlin story, which had happened just a few years earlier. Very little happens in the movie. Two guys go hiking. They...
Elephant (24 Feb 2013 10:45pm)
Recently, I wrote very negative things about Gus Van Sant while discussing his most recent mediocre film Promised Land. I said that his days as a great director where behind him. I used that film as well as Good Will Hunting and Finding Forrester to make this case. But as long time reader Karl Panic...
Five Broken Cameras (23 Feb 2013 08:55pm)
"By healing, you resist oppression." That is what Emad Burnat learned after six years of filming the nonviolent resistance of the people of the West Bank village of Bil'in. They were working to remove an Israeli fence and get back their stolen land. In his film Five Broken Camera, he tells his story...
The Hot l Baltimore (22 Feb 2013 03:51pm)
When I was a kid I loved plays. There were a lot of reasons for this. One of them is that I have a very good ability to imagine the play in my head. I don't need or even particularly want a lot of detail: I've got that covered. Plays are by their nature kind of the Elmore Leonard style of writing; a...
Prometheus (19 Feb 2013 04:40pm)
Someone (JMF, I think) recommended that I what Prometheus. But it was one of those "you should probably see this" rather than "this is really good" recommendations. It is a curious film. It is a prequel for Alien but uses a fanciful notion to get there. It uses the Prometheus myth, but in a surprisi...
Corpse Bride (13 Feb 2013 09:15pm)
I know that I'm in something of a rut, but I've watched another Tim Burton film: Corpse Bride. And what a wonderful film it is! It is so rare that I see a movie that is enjoyable from beginning to end. But it is, after all, my kind of film: lots of silliness and a very sweet, even sentimental story....
Gus Van Sant's Fading Career (10 Feb 2013 04:52pm)
I seem to talk a lot about once great directors losing their edges. Most recently, I mentioned David Cronenberg. Last year around this time, it was the Coen Brothers. Ridley Scott is another example. I could go on and on. Another good example is Gus Van Sant. Like all of the directors I've mentione...
John Dies at the End (08 Feb 2013 09:50am)
Tonight at the Shattuck Cinema, Northern California will get its first official look at Don Coscarelli's newest genre defying film John Dies at the End. Spoiler alter: John does not die at the end. He dies about a third of the way through, but that doesn't really matter because death doesn't really ...
Cyberpunk and Blade Runner (03 Feb 2013 08:45pm)
I watched Blade Runner this afternoon. I always associate it with William Gibson's Neuromancer. According to Gibson, the book was about to go to press when Blade Runner appeared. There were many similarities, so Gibson went back and changed a number of things in the book. Both works are generally se...
Pray for Ron (31 Jan 2013 09:15am)
I am not a big fan of video porn. But like any American male of my age, I know Ron Jeremy. According to USA Today, Mr. Jeremy is in the hospital, following heart surgery for an aneurysm. The article claims that Jeremy is a "porn star." And indeed, he has "starred" in over 2000 porn films. But you ha...
Thank You Pig (30 Jan 2013 12:17pm)
I watched Babe: Pig in the City again last night. It is a wonderful film. Even better than the first one that is also wonderful in its own way. My major problem with the original film is the ridiculous plot device of a secret code that makes all sheep talk to you, "Baa-ram-ewe . Baa-ram-ewe. To you...
We Bought a Zoo (25 Jan 2013 11:46am)
I don't give Cameron Crowe much thought. But perhaps I should. I don't say this because he is good; I don't believe that. But he is unusual. His films are much like novels in their loose plot structures and focus on character. And through a seeming act of will, I find that his films always just make...
Kamau Bell on Django Unchained (23 Jan 2013 08:42pm)
Kamau Bell explains that Django Unchained released the n-bomb 109 times. This is a new record. Do you know what was the last record holder? Watch the two and a half minute video and find out! ...
Downton Abbey Second Pass (21 Jan 2013 08:31am)
Last night I introduced my father to Downton Abbey. (Listen up, JMF!) He seemed to like it well enough. But he was really bothered by how horrible all the upstairs people were. I didn't think they were all that bad. And he very much liked the cook, who, on second view, is very amusing. The whole ti...
The Problem with Auteur Theory (20 Jan 2013 03:47pm)
I recently got the new Criterion Collection version of Seven Samurai. It is a great film—maybe even Akira Kurosawa's greatest film. It certainly isn't my favorite, however; Yojimbo is a lot more fun. But it is masterful filmmaking. This latest edition includes a tag-team commentary by five exp...
Downton Abbey (13 Jan 2013 10:39am)
I almost never use the word "romantic" to describe sexual attraction and relationships. I generally mean it to indicate that something involves heroic archetypes. Sadly, I'm afraid that I got this way reading Ayn Rand. However, it is a far more useful word when used this way. I think it is a mistake...
Little Britain (12 Jan 2013 12:59pm)
Andrea suggested that I check out the BBC sketch comedy series Little Britain. She said it was funny, but also crude. She had no examples to delight me with how amusing it was, but she went to some length to gross me out. She's like that. I don't have much tolerance for this; I'm still freaking out ...
Cone of Silence (12 Jan 2013 08:02am)
The Cone of Silence was a recurring comedic idea used in the Get Smart comedy series of my youth. It is ostensibly a device that lowers over two people so that they can have a private conversation. The joke is that it completely doesn't work: the couple inside cannot hear each other but those outsid...
Parental Guidance (09 Jan 2013 06:12pm)
I took my brother to the movies today. Normally, that would lead to another Marxist film review. But because of a scheduling conflict, we were forced to miss Jack Reacher and instead see Parental Guidance. Actually, this is my kind of movie: I really like sentimental comedies. And it was okay—...
Humanity Over Art (07 Jan 2013 08:24pm)
I watched the short interview below with Isabelle Carre from the promotion of Romantics Anonymous, that I've already written about. I was really struck by something she said in the interview. She was talking about going to an actual RA meeting and how she didn't want to go. Even though she is also s...
Edward II (07 Jan 2013 04:52pm)
Yesterday, I came upon a filmed version of Christopher Marlowe's Edward II. It was made way back in 1992, which surprised me. Marlowe's works are rarely even performed on stages and almost never filmed. But it makes sense. Edward II has a clear five-act structure that lends itself well to screen. Wh...
Green Card Even Worse 22 Years Later (06 Jan 2013 10:17pm)
If you are looking for a tedious film to slog through tonight, you could not do better (Worse?) than 1990's romantic comedy sensation Green Card. Rarely has Gerard Depardieu been less annoying, and by that I mean really annoying, but not as annoying as in, says, My Father the Hero or The Man in the ...
My Favorite Scene from Romantics Anonymous (04 Jan 2013 09:08am)
This is my favorite scene from Romantics Anonymous. It is very sweet, which is half of what I love about this film: Angelique: My hands are clammy. Jean-Rene: I don't mind. Angelique: My stomach's growling. Jean-Rene: I like the sound. Angelique: I blush all the time. Jean-Rene: I think that's bea...
Time Bandits Vs. 12 Monkeys (03 Jan 2013 08:50pm)
I don't know what to say. Should I attack or praise? On the one hand, Terry Gilliam created a really mediocre film in Time Bandits. (Just calm down: I'll explain in a minute.) On the other, Terry Gilliam created one of my very favorite films in 12 Monkeys. And you know what the difference is? Madele...
Romantics Anonymous (01 Jan 2013 10:05am)
I have a special fondness for French comedies. They tend not to take their stories too seriously. No great effort is made to create a dramatic plot. You've got a boy and a girl. They try to get together, but there are problems. This is what is funny. They work out the problems without too much angst...
Samurai Rebellion (31 Dec 2012 08:34pm)
I can't watch a western without thinking, "They didn't have duels like that!" And this tends to ruin these movies. Does anyone think that when a life is on the line that a man will stand on ceremony and wait for his opponent to draw first? Or that, on seeing his opponent draw, he would be able to re...
Honeymoon in Vegas (29 Dec 2012 05:37pm)
I just watched Honeymoon in Vegas for the first time since it was released in 1992. I am a big fan of writer-director Andrew Bergman, who wrote one of my very favorite films, The In-Laws. He has also written other films that I'm not as fond of, but which have very funny scripts: Soapdish, Fletch, an...
Three Deaths (27 Dec 2012 11:00pm)
A lot of people have died during the last week who I would like to write about. There was Jack Klugman, of course. People remember him most from The Odd Couple. As I recall, he replaced Walter Matthau in the Broadway play after just one performance. (Don't quote me on that, but I think so.) But when...
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (27 Dec 2012 09:46am)
Last night I watched Irwin Allen's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Generally, it is your usual kind of 1960s style science fiction romp. It has dorky over-lit sets, silly science, and way too much plucky American can-do attitude. But there are fundamental problems with the story that it tells. The...
Rich Kid Guilt (26 Dec 2012 10:15am)
I think it is good when very wealthy people have a certain amount of guilt about economic inequality. I congratulate them on being human. But I don't give them any extra credit. And that is at the core of my disappointment watching Jamie Johnson's documentary The One Percent. Johnson is the heir of ...
It's Not a Wonderful Life (25 Dec 2012 08:00am)
The following parody of It's a Wonderful Life isn't all that funny. But I include it for personal reasons. You see, I'm a big Frank Capra fan. It Happened One Night is one of my very favorite films. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and Lost Horizon are both excellent films. But I can't stand James Stewart. H...
Mercy and Justice in The Bicycle Thieves (24 Dec 2012 10:57am)
Last night I watched The Bicycle Thieves again. It is a remarkable little film. Its storytelling is so crisp that it is impossible not to be carried away with it. Of course, it must be; there isn't much of a story. The hero, Antonio, is just about at rock bottom when he gets a job. To have the job, ...
Scripting Romney's Campaign (23 Dec 2012 10:23pm)
A very interesting detail in Michael Kranish's article on the presidential campaign was that Romney's chief strategist was Stuart Stevens. Actually, I knew that. He was the most intriguing member of the campaign. People often commented on how weird he was. My kind of man, I thought. Anyway, in the ...
Death of Kingdom (20 Dec 2012 03:20pm)
Supposedly, ITV canceled Kingdom because it was too expensive to produce, not because it was unpopular. The show, which stars Stephen Fry, is beautiful to look at. It has too many helicopter shots for my taste, but I can't say they don't work. Nonetheless, the show would have been as successful on a...
On Not Seeing Pitch Perfect (20 Dec 2012 10:17am)
Yesterday, I snuck out to see a movie. There is not much at the $3 theater. Actually, there is nothing at the $3 theater because they have raised their prices to $3.50. Over the weekend, Matt Yglesias tweeted something to the effect that Pitch Perfect was very good. I have my problems with Yglesias,...
The Wonderful Pundits of Oz (18 Dec 2012 04:52pm)
Frank Conniff of Mystery Science Theater 3000 has written and directed a radio musical, The Wonderful Pundits of Oz. It is quite a polished production with songs that are definitely better than anything by Andrew Lloyd Webber and a very good cast. The problem with it is that the script could be tigh...
The Cocoanuts (14 Dec 2012 09:25pm)
Because I have been on a Marx Brothers jag and I wanted to forget about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, I watched The Cocoanuts. It is the first Marx Brothers film, and it is a bit weird. It has a few songs by Irving Berlin, remarkable dance numbers, and some of the funniest comedy bits I...
A Night at the Opera (13 Dec 2012 12:56pm)
Like all people who refuse to grow up, I love the Marx Brothers. But I fully admit that their movies are a mixed bag. There is total insanity followed by total boredom. I am not talking about Margaret Dumont here. She is brilliant and I don't think Groucho is ever funnier than when he's interacting ...
More Proof Reality Shows Are Fake (12 Dec 2012 11:19am)
Unlike Atrios, who is correct when he says he is a lazy blogger, I work very hard in my 24/7 ranting. But there are some things that I will not do. One of them is to find out any more than necessary about the various reality shows on the TV machine. I am long on record about my hatred of these shows...
The Golden Bowl (10 Dec 2012 02:19pm)
I just watched the Merchant-Ivory-Jhabvala production of Henry James' The Golden Bowl. The main thing that struck me about the film was Jhabvala's screenplay. If I had written an adaptation of James' novel, it would have been a cynical mess. But this film is a tribute to human dignity and the abilit...
As of Now Reinhold Weege is Officially Off Duty (09 Dec 2012 10:43am)
Reinhold Weege died last week. The Los Angeles Times has reported that Weege died of natural causes on 1 December. He was only 62. When I heard the news, I recognized the name. I am very much a geek about comedy writers and I pay close attention to the writing credits of any movie or TV show that I...
Landfill Harmonic (08 Dec 2012 05:29pm)
The video below is a teaser for an upcoming documentary, Landfill Harmonics. It is wonderful and will make you laugh and cry and become a part of blah blah blah. What I worry about is that these people are left to live and die in poverty—but at least they have imported European classical music...
Three Outlaw Samurai (06 Dec 2012 11:38am)
I picked up a copy of Hideo Gosha's Three Outlaw Samurai the other day. I didn't know anything about the film, but hey: samurai. It tells the story of three ronin who work together to protect a group of peasants. If this sounds familiar, it is basically the same plot as Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samura...
We Have a Pope! (03 Dec 2012 01:17pm)
If you want to understand theater, you should watch the Italian film Habemus Papam or (more or less), "We Have a Pope." I picked it because the box said that it was hilarious. And generally, I find that other countries do a better job with comedy. In America, they tend to be over-produced and over-c...
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (01 Dec 2012 10:54am)
I have never read any of John le Carré's books. But I have seen two movies based upon his books. The first was many years ago: The Little Drummer Girl. It is an interesting film, but not all that good. It is probably worth revisiting, especially with the continuing problems between the Israelis and...
Daily Nerd Humor (29 Nov 2012 02:03pm)
I just watched Futurama, episode "Hell is Other Robots." It has one bit that really made me laugh. After Bender finds religion, he takes the crew out to dinner. But he insists upon saying grace, stopping everyone from eating. I think this is something that religious people don't see: just how narcis...
Lincoln Star Thaddeus Stevens (24 Nov 2012 06:06pm)
As I reported before, last weekend, I went to see Lincoln. It was a surprisingly good film. My only real problem with it is that the ending doesn't particularly work. Or perhaps more accurately, the film goes on too long. It is, after all, about the passage of the 13th Amendment. (In fact, I thought...
One Problem with Sense and Sensibility (21 Nov 2012 04:42pm)
Your name is Elinor. Your sister Marianne is sick because she was dumped by the love of her life and wandered in a storm. You are watching over her—fearful that she may die. There is a knock at the door. It is John Willoughby—your sister's philandering ex. He must see her! But you won't ...
The Movie Game (18 Nov 2012 04:31pm)
People don't like movies as much as they like games. At least, that's what I learned today at a matinee of Lincoln filled with old people. Most of them just go to see how many actors they can name. The people sitting next to me only got two names right: Hal Holbrook and Tommy Lee Jones. That's not q...
What Quint Got Wrong about USS Indianapolis (17 Nov 2012 10:26pm)
This is my favorite scene from Jaws: There are a couple of things about this speech. First, it was not written by Peter Benchley or Carl Gottlieb. The idea for Quint having been on the USS Indianapolis came from Howard Sackler (The Great White Hope). Most of the writing of the speech itself seems ...
Half of Stargate Not Bad (14 Nov 2012 09:29pm)
Before you ask: I had my reasons! I watched the film Stargate this evening. And I was really impressed with the first half. Other than that the film encourages people to believe Erich von Däniken's silly claims about ancient astronauts, it is impressive. There are two very compelling character arcs....
Two Ventriloquist Films (14 Nov 2012 12:49pm)
I just watched two documentaries about ventriloquism. The first, Dumbstruck, is about amateurs and the normal professionals. One of those normal professionals, Terry Fator, went from unknown to winning America's Got Talent and becoming one of the highest paid comedians in history during the course o...
Seven Psychopaths (11 Nov 2012 08:04pm)
I once had this dream about these kids who had formed a kind of cult where they set themselves on fire to prove how cool they were. The dream had a profound effect on me, resulting in years of writing and research. It ended in what I call a "theatrical essay" called Burned. Much of that time, I was ...
Frankenweenie (10 Nov 2012 08:54pm)
Frankenweenie made it to the cheap theater last week so I went to see it. I didn't know anything about it except for the poster, which led me to believe that it was an animated Frankenstein with a cute dog. I'm not sure what it says about me that I thought that was a great idea for a movie. I was a ...
Doctor Faustus (04 Nov 2012 06:43pm)
I first heard this line applied to Doctor Faustus: "It has a beginning, a muddle, and an end." The truth is that this could describe most of drama, but it does seem very fitting for Christopher Marlowe's play. It has a fundamental problem that is nonetheless repeated constantly: there aren't a lot o...
Dick Lane is All You Need (01 Nov 2012 09:52pm)
The following video is a collection of outtakes from You Bet Your Life with Groucho Marx. There is one bit where a woman is telling Groucho that he should come to their Almond festival or some such. She mentions that Dick Lane will be there. Groucho replies, "Well, if you have Dick Lane, I don't thi...
Star Wars Forever (30 Oct 2012 07:44pm)
I am not a Star Wars fan. I saw it when I was 13 years old. And I thought it was all right. I liked the effeminate robot C2P0. But I didn't understand why Alec Guinness offed himself early on in the film. (Since then, I figured it out; it was embarrassment.) But like I said: it was okay. I was never...
Cleopatra Jones (26 Oct 2012 11:03am)
I finally got to see that 1973 cult favorite Cleopatra Jones starring Tamara Dobson. It is one of the silliest films I've ever seen. It tells the story of Cleo Jones, a secret government agent, who is apparently out to win the Drug War single-handedly. The film starts with her ordering the destructi...
Billy Bob Back from the Dead (24 Oct 2012 08:43am)
As some of you may know, Billy Bob Neck is inexplicably back. He is the intolerant Christian literalist character created by comedian Paul Day. After almost 200 videos, Day killed off the character. This wasn't too surprising; previously Day had "raptured" Billy Bob Neck. But soon he was back—...
David, the Gnome (23 Oct 2012 09:33am)
It's another cartoon morning! In response to my Kimba the White Lion article, Mack asked if I had heard of a show called David, the Gnome. I had not, so I looked it up. It turns out to be a series from the mid-1980s produced in Spain, based upon a Dutch children's book, The Secret Book of Gnomes. T...
Kimba the White Lion (22 Oct 2012 08:44am)
My friend Will was (and maybe still is) a big fan of Kimba the White Lion. It was a kids' show when we were, well, kids. (Funny that!) I was reminded of it yesterday when Dependable Renegade published the photo on the left. (It was originally from BuzzFeed.) I was never that big a fan of the show. ...
Bill Moyers vs. Bill O'Reilly (21 Oct 2012 06:51pm)
Bill Moyers pushes back against Bill O'Reilly's baseless attacks. I know you're shocked at O'Reilly's actions. He's usually such a reasonable man. ...
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (20 Oct 2012 10:10pm)
I just watched The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean. I remember vaguely it being very successful. And when I saw it was directed by John Huston, I thought I would give it a try. I should have looked closer. Troubling signs occurred during the credits: written by John Milius. But I stuck with it. Ri...
Amongst Our Problems with Monty Python... (20 Oct 2012 06:15pm)
My biggest complain about Monty Python's Flying Circus, is that it is not that well written. It has good ideas and often takes them in bizarre and delightful directions. But most of the time, instead of ending a skit, they simply stop it. Their favorite way of doing this is to just start an orthogon...
Sunday Politics Shows Designed to Suck (16 Oct 2012 04:25pm)
Paul Waldman tried to answer the question Why Do the Sunday Shows Suck So Much? over at The American Prospect. It's a great title for an article, but unfortunately, Waldman doesn't really have much to say on the subject. Mostly he just grouses about how predictable it all is. A Democratic spokesman...
Midnight in Paris (15 Oct 2012 08:29pm)
Last night I watched Midnight in Paris. It is quite a good film with lots of honest fun for the intellectually or artistically inclined. On the down side, it is a Woody Allen film. By this I mean that it was continuously delightful but never transcendent. Of course, it will likely also be the best f...
The Cycle Sucks (12 Oct 2012 01:29pm)
Have you seen MSNBC's The Cycle? It is amazing, because the show tries so hard to be "young" and "hip" it is painful to watch. It is like they're going after the demographic that likes The Young Turks without having ever watched it. "Put some young people on the TV; it will be like a political Ameri...
Talking Puppets (09 Oct 2012 02:41pm)
Last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart, Wyatt Cenac, and John Oliver became Muppets for a segment. They were discussing Mitt Romney's surprise announcement that he would talk about one way in which he would cut the federal budget: defund PBS. (It's funny how concerned conservatives get about the ...
Bill Murray Shills for Romney (03 Oct 2012 10:58am)
Back in February, I was too busy celebrating my birthday by hiding from everyone I know to notice that Bill Murray was shilling for Mitt Romney on CNBC. This brings up one of the great annoyances of life that is always simmering in my brain stem. But first I should tell you what Blurry said. It wasn...
The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure (30 Sep 2012 10:00pm)
Have you heard about The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure? It is a feature film produced for toddlers. But the reason people are talking about it is that after $20 million in production and $40 million in marketing, Oogieloves had the worst opening weekend in film history—making less th...
The Magnificent Ambersons (30 Sep 2012 07:41pm)
The last time I watched The Magnificent Ambersons was about 17 years ago. If you don't know what to expect, it can be a very upsetting film. But when I watched it today, it was mostly a delight. When I first watched it, the film was going along swimmingly. And then the last scene—The last sho...
Karateci Kiz as Art (30 Sep 2012 01:00pm)
You've probably heard about Karateci Kiz ("Karate Girl"). Cyriaque Lamar at io9 claimed, this is the worst death scene ever committed to film. This claim is as silly as said death scene. But the internet loves this kind of thing; everything is the worst or best. But okay. It is certainly quite an i...
Let Karen Finney Speak! (27 Sep 2012 01:29am)
As regular readers know, I indulge my crushes on minor celebrities, academics, and grammarians. But no one knows about my most recent crush: Karen Finney. She was Director of Communications at the Democratic National Committee under Howard Dean. But I know her as a pundit on The Last Word. As you c...
Eli Wallach and Everybody Else (26 Sep 2012 08:27pm)
There are two kinds of people in the world: Eli Wallach and not Eli Wallach. And Eli Wallach's gonna be 97 in December. Soon there will be only one kind of people in the world. Enjoy it while you can. ...
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (24 Sep 2012 02:14pm)
Last night, I watched O Brother, Where Art Thou? for the first time in many years.It is a perfect film, and likely the Coen Brothers' best. It is based upon The Odyssey, but the word is that the Coens have to this day never read it. This is not surprising, because O Brother follows the book in only...
Another Sucky Hamlet (12 Sep 2012 05:20pm)
I was the more deceived. I recently gave the Patrick Stewart modern Macbeth a view, and was delighted. So when I saw a modern rendering of Hamlet starring Ethan Hawke, I allowed my expectations to rise and rented it. I should have known better. Macbeth is a good play. Hamlet is not. There are so m...
Evil Myths (25 Aug 2012 01:20pm)
I was at the movies yesterday watching The Expendables 2, and I thought, "All these guys are rich and famous and they use the power they have to make pernicious, evil myths like this." It is impossible for me to relate just how much I hated this movie. It was bad on every level. Watching all these a...
Mass Market Fun (23 Aug 2012 01:00pm)
As far as I know, my friend Will has never watched a whole movie during his adult life. He just can't sit still that long. I've watched many films over at his place, but he is in and out of the room and if he sees a quarter of them, I'd be surprised. He's fond of saying things like, "I watched Etern...
Fifth Time's a Disaster (20 Aug 2012 03:13pm)
Most of my friends are women, and that means that I have very few friends who are fans of Breaking Bad. In fact, most of them make derisive comments about the show. So basically, I get to talk about the show with Will (who I disagree with much of the time) and read Matthew Yglesias (who I agree wit...
Bitterness and Sentimentality (13 Aug 2012 11:55pm)
Tonight I watched the 23 December 1960 episode of The Twilight Zone, "The Night of the Meek." It stars Art Carney as Henry Corwin, a man driven to booze by a world that doesn't care about them that're supposed to inherit it. It is a very sentimental crying fest of a movie. And I tend to hate such th...
Unexpected Displeasures (10 Aug 2012 01:02pm)
You can't have missed the Buick Verano Unexpected Pleasures ad campaign. The idea, I guess, is there is some kind of unexpected pleasure to driving a small luxury car, because it is a shocking revelation that a GPS and seat warmer could be put in a small car. Or something. I don't know and I don't c...
Are You Talking to Napalm in the Morning? (05 Aug 2012 12:36am)
I was thinking about the line "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" from Apocalypse Now. Most people only think of that line, and so the line indicates a bizarre insanity. But I always remember the line as this: "I love the smell of napalm in the morning; it smells like victory." That means so...
Fox Not As Evil As Previously Thought (17 Jul 2012 10:30pm)
Last month, I wrote an article, The 3 (or 7) Houses of Parliament. It was about a joke in the TV series Arrested Development. For the article, I made a video that used 22.8 seconds from one of their episodes, "The Ocean Walker." And I uploaded it to YouTube.[1] Fox, via some robot on YouTube determ...
A Pair of Pliers and a Blowtorch (16 Jul 2012 10:37pm)
If you're like me (And who isn't?) you really liked the phrase "a pair of pliers and a blowtorch" in Pulp Fiction. It isn't that I'm into torture; it is just that it's a great phrase, "I'm gonna call up couple hard pipe hitting niggers to go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow...
Eat the Bankers (14 Jul 2012 01:08am)
Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine is one of the most important books I've ever read. But at over 700 pages, I have had a hard time convincing many people to read it. So I was pleased to see that Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross had produced a documentary based on the book called (Surprise!) Th...
Give a Murderer His Due (12 Jul 2012 01:03am)
Back in 1902, the most important magic book ever was written. (This is debatable, but it's what I think.) It was self-published with the title "Artifice, Ruse and Subterfuge At the Card Table" by a man identified as S. W. Erdnase. It is now known as The Expert at the Card Table and is said to have b...
The Not So Amazing Spider-Man Writers (10 Jul 2012 11:08am)
I spent yesterday with my brother, and as usual, we went to see a movie I would never watch if I were by my self. Although I hate films like The Amazing Spider-Man, it is good to keep up on what Hollywood is capable of doing. And what they are capable of doing is striking another blow against the ar...
Signifying Nothing (10 Jul 2012 12:10am)
I spent the day—the whole day—doing things I will write about tomorrow. But I know how depressed you all get if I don't provide something here to gnaw on. I was just thinking that Orson Welles and Shakespeare are very similar in that they burn so brightly at times but overall are disappo...
Little Con in Paper Moon (27 Jun 2012 04:59pm)
I don't tend to think of Peter Bogdanovich as a great filmmaker. But if a man makes a great film, that probably makes him a great filmmaker, right? The truth is, I haven't seen a lot of his films. I had always thought that The Last Picture Show was his first film. Instead, he made two really tantal...
No More Orgasms for Nora (26 Jun 2012 09:12pm)
Nora Ephron, writer and director of many successful "chick flicks," died from pneumonia earlier today. That's sad, she was only 71. But I have never thought much of her work. She kind of epitomized professionalism without depth. I rather liked some of her films in that "watch them in bed while you d...
Moonrise Kingdom Might Be Good (26 Jun 2012 04:13pm)
Wes Anderson has a film coming out called Moonrise Kingdom. This is not exactly big news: What I find interesting is that this film looks good. I think that Anderson has a lot of talent, but the only film of his I've liked was The Royal Tenenbaums. I think there is something about his worldview th...
Bugs: Rabbit or Hare? (25 Jun 2012 11:35am)
You can go your whole life without asking the really important questions. For example, I've gone almost five decades without ever considering the species of Bugs Bunny. I know what you're thinking: his name is Bugs Bunny, so he must be a rabbit. And yet, most of the cartoons have titles like "Hare ...
Tim Burton's Big Mess (21 Jun 2012 10:49pm)
This is how I imagine it happened. Tim Burton's phone rings. It is Richard Zanuck and he is agitated. "You've got to start shooting Dark Shadows. The people at Warner are concerned about a new Twilight picture. They're ready to pull the plug." "The script's not ready, Dick," Burton responds. "It's...
The 3 (or 7) Houses of Parliament (17 Jun 2012 02:41pm)
I tried to upload a video from Arrested Development to You Tube. It was 22.8 seconds long and it was bookmarked between a screen that read, "Sometimes satire just makes things worse." And "Now millions of 'hip' Americans think Parliament has 3 houses. Maybe it's because Congress has three houses." ...
Dick on a Wire (16 Jun 2012 12:12am)
My father seemed to be impressed with Nik Wallenda's upcoming high wire walk over Niagara Falls. It seems really boring to me. I just can't see it as much of anything after seeing Man on a Wire a couple of years ago. So I forced my father to watch it. He was very impressed, but still looked forward ...
Woody Allen and Narration (14 Jun 2012 09:57pm)
Woody Allen has impressed me with his use of narration. I think it goes back to his fundamental orientation as a short story writer. In particular, Broadway Danny Rose is probably the best use of narration in a film ever. And I think everyone remembers the Greek chorus in Mighty Aphrodite. I've got...
Heart of a Dog (10 Jun 2012 12:48am)
For the first time in decades, I watched The Wizard of Oz. When I was a kid, I didn't like it. The Kansas scenes seemed so bleak and the Oz scenes scared me. It was pleasant to see that it is a wonderful, ridiculously sentimental film. It reminded me of a Powell and Pressburger film, but you know......
The Raven Doesn't Suck (05 Jun 2012 12:10am)
Previously, I made a bit of fun of the new film The Raven. And I didn't follow through on my promise to be the first person in line on opening day. It got away from me; it wasn't exactly well publicized. But I saw it today. First the bad news: my reading of the film based upon its trailer was total...
You Are What You Love (03 Jun 2012 10:08pm)
In my usual way of obsessing about things, I've been on a Charlie Kaufman jag. I just want to say a couple of quick things about Adaptation. It is a fun film, but I tend to think not great. But we'll see. Duality of the Artistic Personality There seems to be some belief that Kaufman created the tw...
There Can Be But One! (03 Jun 2012 02:00pm)
I wasn't surprised to hear that Richard Dawson had died. I have been surprised up until now that he had managed to live longer than almost everyone else in the cast of Hogan's Heroes. To quote a bad movie, "There can be only one!" And that one is Robert Clary. At 5'1", Clary shows that it really ...
True Love: Barefoot in Her Shift (01 Jun 2012 07:13pm)
I just watched The Sanctuary Sparrow, the second episode of the TV series based upon The Cadfael Chronicles, the Edith Pargeter novels about an unusual 12th century monk, Brother Cadfael, who solves murders and generally delights us by being more enlightened than his comrades. I won't go into the d...
Themes in the Bourne Movies (01 Jun 2012 12:32am)
Last week I introduced my father to the feature film version of The Bourne Identity. He really liked it, so I showed him The Bourne Supremacy and finally tonight The Bourne Ultimatum. As cheesy Hollywood superhero action films, they are fine. In fact, The Bourne Supremacy is actually kind of good. I...
First Thoughts: Synecdoche, New York (30 May 2012 03:20pm)
Actually: first and second thoughts. Karl Paniczny suggested that I watch Synecdoche, New York, the directorial debut of Charlie Kaufman. He suggested that it might be my kind of film. I don't have much to say, because I've seen it only once. But that was more than enough to have first and second t...
Two Quick Thoughts on Karate Kid (29 May 2012 09:41pm)
Quick Thought One John Avildsen is a great director. I'm glad that Karate Kid was a success, but it kind of sucks when you consider that Avildsen directed Joe and Rocky. The great thing about him is that he has a vision. He fails more than he succeeds, but he always[1] succeeds his own way. And tha...
The World Forgetting by the World Forgot (27 May 2012 01:00am)
In the poem Eloisa to Abelard, Alexander Pope wrote: How happy is the blameless vestal's lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd. I know this, not because I'm big into 18th century poetry. I know it because...
Fuente Ovejuna (22 May 2012 01:18pm)
I recently read the Angel Flore and Muriel Kittel translation of Lope de Vega's Fuente Ovejuna. It was written right at the end of Shakespeare's career, when he was writing such gems as Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen. Fuente Ovejuna is not a perfect play by any means, but by the standards of t...
Moon: Deeply Affecting Intelligent Film (08 May 2012 10:32pm)
I just watched Moon, the film about He3 mining on the moon that stars Sam Rockwell. It is a deeply affecting film. There are no such things as spoilers. Even films with surprise endings like The Sixth Sense are better if you know the plot. So as usual, I am not going to worry about spoiling this fi...
Marvel's The Despots (06 May 2012 06:39pm)
Over years of watching way too many movies, I have a long list of movie cliches that annoy me. These are most definitely not things like people never saying "goodbye" before they hang up the phone. Only a much worse pedant than I would have a problem with that. What I'm talking about are offensive n...
The Audacity of Lope (29 Apr 2012 10:54pm)
I have put off writing about Fuente Ovejuna for so long that I may have to read it again—not an unpleasant thought. Until then, Lope de Vega is not far from my mind. I was checking out my Google Analytics and just by chance, I came upon this great image under the heading, The Audacity of Lope:...
RIP: Mr. Bunny Rabbit (27 Apr 2012 10:46pm)
I was looking up "French antique folding chairs" when I came upon the picture on the left of Captain Kangaroo. It was from a blog post from 23 January 2004, the day that Bob Keeshan (AKA Captain Kangaroo) died. The picture caught my eye not because of the Captain but because of the little guy he's h...
Something Went Wrong For Fay Wray (26 Apr 2012 01:58am)
The other day, I was over at Big Lots and I noticed they had the 3 disc King Kong Deluxe Extended Edition for $3. This is the most recent remake of the classic, released in 2005, directed by Peter Jackson. I really like this film. Of the three versions, it is by far the best. The original is quite g...
Wally, Andre, and the Waiter (25 Apr 2012 04:25pm)
When I was 18, my girlfriend and I went to see My Dinner With Andre at the Plaza Theater in Petaluma. We were, to put it mildly, pretentious young intellectuals. After the film, we went to a restaurant and ordered french fries that we tried to "really taste." If I weren't involved in the memory, I w...
How I Rate a Film (20 Apr 2012 12:48pm)
I am glad that Netflix uses a five-star rating system. It is probably because of the very many films that I think deserve 4 stars; somehow, 3 out of 4 stars doesn't seem quite high enough. I almost never give a film a rating of 2 stars, and I can't remember ever rating a film as 1 star. To do so wo...
Mr. Smith and the Republican Myth (13 Apr 2012 06:27pm)
I really don't like Frank Capra. This is strange, because he directed one of my very favorite films: It Happened One Night. Even though I am a total softy and I love films that have a nice, gooey center, I find it hard to take Capra's sentimental style. Add to that, Jimmy Stewart—an actor who ...
The Dude Abides (09 Apr 2012 02:35pm)
I watched The Big Lebowski last night. It is a film that grows on you. I know that it suffered at the time of its release because it came right after Fargo, and everyone wanted to see Fargo II. But there are more important reasons to not like the film. Most notable is that it just seems loose—...
Shameful Fun (27 Mar 2012 01:19pm)
Have we seen this before? The Raven is coming out next month. It stars John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe. Sometime on or about 1835, there is a serial killer who is getting inspiration from the stories of Poe. The police turn to him for help. But when the murderer kidnaps Poe's fiance, well, it's perso...
The Stone Golem (26 Mar 2012 01:14pm)
The Brothers Bloom is a mess of film. And yet, I own it and watch it a bit. It is the kind of film that is better on DVD because of all the stuff that comes with the film. In particular, it comes with almost 40 minutes of deleted scenes. As is often the case, the best stuff was left on the cutting r...
Rosalind Russell's Mysterious Writer (23 Mar 2012 10:35pm)
One of my very favorite movies is His Girl Friday. I watch it about once a month—any time I need cheering up. It has two of my favorite actors: Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. I will always be in love with Russell, or perhaps more accurately, I will always be in love with the character she pl...
Credit Where It's Due (20 Mar 2012 11:01pm)
When I was in graduate school, my thesis adviser was rightly proud of some of his scientific accomplishments. He was fierce in countering people who did not give him his due. Academia is like that. The saying goes that academic politics are so intense because the stakes are so low. When you are a co...
The Other Side of the Wind (19 Mar 2012 11:02pm)
One of my goals in life is entirely beyond my control: to see Orson Welles' The Other Side of the Wind. I first learned of it in the documentary Orson Wells: One Man Band (it comes on the extras disc with F for Fake, which you really should own). That film contained two clips from The Other Side of ...
The 500 Plays of Lope We Have Not Read (18 Mar 2012 07:29pm)
While reading Melveena McKendrick's Cervantes, I became really interested in Lope de Vega, the great playwright of the turn of the 17th century. I had already been intrigued by this towering figure of Spanish drama, because of what Gray Taylor had written about how our focus on Shakespeare blinds us...
"They Don't Understand, Do They?" (16 Mar 2012 10:29pm)
I'm a freak. I got Thornton Wilder's Our Town, Two Historic Productions on Two DVD. The two productions they are referring to are the 1977 production starring Hal Holbrook and the 1989 production starring Spalding Gray. I'd seen each of them before at the time they were first released. And they didn...
I Haven't Had My Teeth Cleaned Since 1974! (15 Mar 2012 10:55pm)
Right now, I'm reading Four Plays: A Thought in Three Parts, Marie and Bruce, Aunt Dan and Lemon, the Fever by Wallace Shawn. The first, A Thought in Three Parts is disturbing in the extreme. It is all about how people are incapable of connecting with each other, despite all their external attempts....
Lucky and Stupid (05 Mar 2012 11:41am)
I'm sorry to be once again discussing Lucky's speech. But I was reading Theatre in Spain, 1490 - 1700 (really good), and I came upon a sentence that talked about the sine qua non of the theater. It means literally "without which not" or more or less "an essential element." That means that "qua" mea...
Samurai I: a Love Story (27 Feb 2012 10:18pm)
I finally got around to watching Samurai I, the first film of the Samurai Trilogy. You may recall that I discovered it while watching the documentary The Cats of Mirikitani[1] where Mirikitani rents the film and watches it—a great symbol of just how much his life has improved. I am always open...
Jack's Amazing Healing Scars (20 Feb 2012 09:50pm)
In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Blackbeard abuses Jack Sparrow by carving something that looks kind of like a pitchfork into his voodoo doll, and thus onto the right side of Jack's chest. But there's a problem. We know from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, that...
Jack 'n Black (18 Feb 2012 10:03pm)
I just watched Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. As entertainments go, it is an excellent film—the best of the series. It is everything that it tries to be. Gore Verbinski, who directed the first three films, likes his action sequences long—far too long. Rob Marshall, like th...
Understanding Falstaff (18 Feb 2012 07:14pm)
When Kenneth Branagh made Henry V and threw a bit of Henry IV in with Falstaff, he used the most famous speech of the character. Kind of. The whole truth is that he cut it savagely. The scene is one where Falstaff and Hal role play Hal's upcoming meeting with his father, Henry IV. At first, Falsta...
Presume "Guilty" (16 Feb 2012 01:26pm)
Last night, I watched Presumed Innocent. I hadn't seen it in many years and I was pleasantly surprised. What I most remembered was that it was a very dark film, and so when the credits displayed "Cinematography: Gordon Willis" I was not surprised. What most people don't understand is that video alwa...
Michael Close Doesn't Get Branding (15 Feb 2012 08:33pm)
Michael Close is a professional magician and jazz pianist. He is a very impressive guy. What I most like about him is that he works presentations until they are finally tuned—more finely tuned than just about any other magician around. He is also an innovator. One of his effects—the poth...
Waiting for Groundhogs (15 Feb 2012 12:11pm)
Fake Science presented a chart titled Understand Groundhog Day.[1] It states, "Using statistical analysis, scientists have measured how a groundhog's reaction can create predictive models." There were four examples: sees its own shadow, six weeks of winter; sees some litter, neighborhood in decline;...
Genghis Khan: Family Values Man (13 Feb 2012 02:29pm)
What are we to make of a film like Mongol? Certainly, we don't expect it to be historically accurate. I think we expect it to be thematically and emotionally accurate. Take Braveheart, for example: it is a mess from a historical stand-point, but it does provide a pretty good picture of William Walla...
On Crying at the Movies (11 Feb 2012 07:11pm)
This last week, I got a text from Andrea, "I just watched The Cats of Mirikitani and it made ME cry." Since you don't know my relationship with Andrea, you probably think this text represents some kind of information about her life or about a film recommendation. It isn't. It is more along the lines...
The Cave of Salamanca (11 Feb 2012 12:08pm)
Yesterday, I picked up a book from the library (in the closed stacks), A Treasury of the Theatre. The reason was that it included one of Cervantes's plays, and I have been keen to read his theatrical work because it was not considered good at the time and is generally discounted today. Melveena McKe...
Lucky Again (10 Feb 2012 09:50pm)
As I continue to struggle to memorize Lucky's Speech from Waiting for Godot, there are two things on my mind: panhandlers and changes in absurdist theater. Panhandlers Lucky's speech is of great value if you wish to navigate the great cities of America and avoid panhandlers. There is nothing like ...
A Cretin's Defense of Dubbing (08 Feb 2012 01:41am)
Last night I watched The Criterion Collection DVD release of Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon. I had never seen the film before and it was a revelation. Back in 2009, Janus Films restored it and the trailer below is from that print. The print in the DVD is perfectly acceptable, but this print is stunning (...
The Shakespeare Industry (06 Feb 2012 11:24am)
It's me again. You know: the guy who loves Shakespeare but never has a kind word for him? Once again, those in the Shakespeare industry are putting out the "Shakespeare as secular Jesus" line. I watched a little documentary last night called Discovering Hamlet. It documents the rehearsals for Kennet...
On Good Reasons for Suicide (05 Feb 2012 10:13pm)
There is nothing so much as watching the Super Bowl to make one start a list of reasons for suicide. How can you not? They are thrust in your face! Most notably, of course, there is the dullest of sporting events: football. It is deadly. First, there is the fact that there is very little actual pla...
Numeracy in Shakespeare in Love (05 Feb 2012 12:04pm)
In my never ending efforts to provide my readers with the most trivial observations of life, I recently wrote roughly a thousand words about a ten cent mathematical error in the film Rocky. And I promised that I would discuss a similar issue in the film Shakespeare in Love.[1] This brings to mind an...
Winter of Our Discontent Comparison (03 Feb 2012 11:48pm)
I am fascinated by the opening soliloquy of Richard III. Most of it is Shakespeare at his best and a little, Shakespeare at his worst: Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this sun of York; And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house In the deep bosom of the ocean buried. N...
I am Rita (02 Feb 2012 09:28pm)
There is a librarian who, on seeing me, is fond of yelling out, "Frank" in the Liverpudlian accept of the title character in the film Educating Rita. I find this charming. What's more, I would only be too delighted to think of myself as the erudite and emotionally wounded Frank Bryan. I've always b...
Earth vs. Burt I. Gordon! (02 Feb 2012 12:21am)
Dramatic momentum is surprisingly easy to sustain in narrative art. All you have to do is move the plot along in some direction. It absolutely doesn't matter which direction. So imagine if you came up with an idea for a story about a crazy doll maker who is turning humans into doll sized creatures a...
A Jewish-Italian Fairy Tale (01 Feb 2012 11:54am)
I watched Woody Allen's movie Broadway Danny Rose this morning, for the first time since I was a kid. It may well be his best film. Regardless, it is perfect: it never makes a wrong move. It is a comedy, of course. And very funny. But Allen usually makes funny films. I don't actively seek him out a...
Innumeracy in Rocky (31 Jan 2012 01:11pm)
The original Rocky is a great film. You probably find that strange because I'm such a pretentious arty kind of pedant. But that's the whole point. You see, Rocky is not a boxing movie. The film has little to do with boxing. It is about a man who finally takes charge of his life. And this, perhaps mo...
Rotten Tomatoes for Orson Welles (30 Jan 2012 12:12am)
I recently wrote that I am not a worshiper of artists. But when I looked at how Orson Welles' films have been rated over at Rotten Tomatoes, I was shocked. Here they are in chronological order, followed by their rating in parentheses: 1941 Citizen Kane (100%) 1942 The Magnificent Ambersons (96%) 19...
Dissing Artists for Fun and Profit (28 Jan 2012 10:23pm)
When I was a teenager, it was fun to take potshots at great artists and thinkers I knew little about. This is part of growing up. But I wonder why it is that many people never outgrow this urge? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for iconoclasts. But in order to be against something, you have to know it pr...
Waste Land and the Birth of Hope (28 Jan 2012 01:35pm)
About that title...[1] If you want to see the kind of social connections that I have to the people who live around me, all you have to do is go out on the street on a Monday night. Tuesday morning there is garbage pick-up, so everyone brings their garbage bins out to the sidewalk the evening before...
A Quick Note on Subtitles (28 Jan 2012 11:29am)
I am watching the documentary Waste Land, which takes place largely in Brazil. Thus, much of it is in Portuguese. And thus, much of it has English subtitles. The problem is that the subtitles are poorly done. First, they are small. Second, and more important, they are white. This is a big problem, ...
Fucking MPAA (26 Jan 2012 01:35am)
According to the MPAA, "A motion picture’s single use of one of the harsher sexually-derived words, though only as an expletive, initially requires at least a PG-13 rating." This is just a really fucked-up way of saying that in a PG-13 film, you can say "fuck" once, but only if you use it the way it...
Shakespeare Apologists (22 Jan 2012 02:24pm)
So I'm reading Shakespeare. And I'm watching Shakespeare.[1] In particular, I am studying the Henry IV plays and Henry V. And I notice something: all these low characters (Falstaff, Prince Hal) speak in prose, while all the high characters (Henry IV, Henry V) speak in verse. This does not come as a ...
Falstaff "Railed Against Our Person"? (22 Jan 2012 01:14am)
I've been thinking about Falstaff for a couple of weeks now, as is evidenced by my trolling around over at Shakespeare Geek. So I've been hitting The Book (my old and rather bad Complete Works of That Bard), trying to make some sense of Orson Welles' Chimes at Midnight. In particular, there is a sce...
Nina Conti Not Nominated for Oscar (20 Jan 2012 09:59pm)
I remember an amazing year for the Best Actor category of the Academy Awards: 1983. There were four actors nominated from the UK and one from the US. And, of course, the American actor won. But that's not important. There were three English actors: Michael Caine (Educating Rita), Tom Courtenay (The ...
An Important Point About Lucky's Speech (11 Jan 2012 12:06pm)
Lucky's Speech from Waiting for Godot[1] goes along with my take on the play that the universe is unfathomable and all we have are our relationships. Lucky never says anything, he only starts to and this is why his hat must be removed, because he will simply continue on starting to say something&mda...
A Tale of Two Constanzes (11 Jan 2012 09:24am)
Milos Forman's filmed version of Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus was a huge hit. According to Box Office Mojo it made over $51 million in the United States alone, and this is just the money it made during its theatrical release. You can imagine the kind of money it made worldwide and via tape and disc ...
True Grit: Post-Art Coen Brothers (09 Jan 2012 09:52am)
The Coen Brothers' True Grit is a huge disappointment. To start, did we really have to make this tiresome film again? To end, did we really have to do it so badly? So unartfully? Have the Coens taken the advice of the Mothers of Invention's third album: are they only in it for the money? However, I...
Falstaff Dies a Broken Man (08 Jan 2012 05:23pm)
Over at Shakespeare Geek, the question is asked if Falstaff dies a broken man. I respond with my usual love of That Bard: Beware Welles' Shakespeare for it is more Welles than That Bard! Welles' take on Falstaff is quite different from any other I have seen or from what one would take from the text...
Reality TV Not So Real (02 Jan 2012 02:02pm)
I hate reality television for a number of reasons. The first is a worker's complaint: there is far less use of writers. (But don't kid yourself: reality shows use writers just as game shows—which are just the oldest form of reality shows—use writers.) Another complaint is that all realit...
Artists and Sell Outs (11 Dec 2011 12:50pm)
I was watching some news program online and there was an ad for Hyundai: I had seen it many time before and I had come to the conclusion that the voice on it couldn't be Jeff Bridges; it had to be some anonymous voice actor doing Jeff Bridges. How wrong I was. I found a list of more than ten star...
The Ultimate Question (15 Nov 2011 10:02am)
Aasif Mandvi is one of my favorite people on The Daily Show. Plus, he has rapidly growing jowls. Sure, they're not too big yet, but just wait. At the rate he's going, he'll look worse than I do in two years. Anyway, jowls aside, he has the best scene in the charming romantic comedy Ghost Town. ...
That Mitchell and Webb Look Get Serious (14 Nov 2011 09:28pm)
It came as a great gift that when I went to check out some old episodes of That Mitchell and Webb Look on Netflix, I found that a new season (series?) was available. Like the glutton I am, I sat down and watched all six episodes. What a delight these guys are. The show compares so well to American c...
Puppet Shows and the Evil Dr. No No (06 Oct 2011 11:40am)
I have been doing puppet shows for as long as I can remember, but the first puppet show I do remember doing was for my second grade class.[1] I did it with my best friend of the time George Herring. We performed Yogi Bear and the Three Stooges Meet the Mad, Mad, Mad Dr. No-No. This must have been my...
Acclimation (03 Oct 2011 04:05pm)
I am working on a short article about Samuel Beckett's play Krapp's Last Tape and so this reminded me of a short play I had written about a year ago that I called Acclimation. This is because my friend Kristen McHenry had mentioned that it reminded her of this play. I disagree completely, but she mu...
Reducing Shakespeare (30 Sep 2011 02:11pm)
A few years ago, I discovered the Reduced Shakespeare Company's The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). It is a sketch comedy play which supposedly performs all of Shakespeare's (36, 38, 39?) plays in just one and a half hours. In fact, they only mention many of the plays. For example,...
Netflix is Just Not That Into Movies (29 Sep 2011 08:37pm)
My biggest problem with Netflix is that the company just isn't that into movies. I first noticed this when watching Continental Divide via Instant Watch. I liked this film a lot when I was younger, so I know it well. As I watched it, I was shocked to see that it had been cut—with lots of dialo...
Just Philately (27 Aug 2011 03:23am)
When I was a physics undergrad, I was part of a clique of the best physics students—or so we thought. Along with Ken Chopin and Nancy Kunnari, I looked down on students from all the other disciplines as well as all the other physics students—at least the ones who didn't take all the uppe...
Cool, Cool Intolerant Men (07 Aug 2011 05:29pm)
In 1972, after the film version of 1776 was finished—even the negative had been cut—Jack L. Warner, the producer, brought a print to the Whitehouse to screen for President Nixon. who was a close friend. The President thought the movie was wonderful, but that the number "Cool, Cool Conser...
Pirates and Beavers and Priests! Oh my! (08 Jul 2011 09:00pm)
Earlier today, I decided—after much procrastinating—to see the movie The Beaver. You may be thinking, "But Frank, why would you procrastinate about seeing a film that's primary appeal was that it had a puppet?" The answer is its secondary appeal: Mel Gibson. Nothing quite takes the gloss...
A Couple of Questions for That Bard (03 Jul 2011 10:35pm)
As regular readers of this site know, I very much like Kenneth Branagh and very much dislike Shakespeare, who I derisively call "That Bard." It is wrong to say that I dislike Shakespeare; it is more that I just don't think he is all that great. If no one liked him, I would probably sing his praises....
Two Thoughts on Lars and the Real Girl (23 May 2011 01:18pm)
I had planned to write about some important differences I noticed in the Beckett on Film version of Krapp's Last Tape and the play itself, but I finally got around to watching Lars and the Real Girl and I had two thoughts about it: one emotional and one technical. No Third Acts F. Scott Fitzgerald...
Avuncular (20 May 2011 10:44am)
One of my favorite movies is Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (I think it is better than the play). This is probably because of my love-hate relationship with Hamlet and how it shows that Tom Stoppard understood That Bard's play far better than That Bard. The thing about Hamlet is that it isn...
Thor: God of Boredom (14 May 2011 06:21pm)
For someone who really likes movies, I find a surprising number of them really boring. What's more, I can tell you when I find them boring: after one hour. In over half the movies I watch, I look at my watch at some point because I'm bored and I'm wondering when whatever "entertainment" I'm watching...
Hamlet is an Asshole (25 Apr 2011 02:59am)
When Rosencrantz and Guildenstern first meet Hamlet in his eponymous play, he says with great delight, "My excellent good friends! How dost thou, / Guildenstern? Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, / how do ye both?" Apart from the opening line (My excellent good friends!) this does not strike me as wonderf...
Illiterate Filmmakers: Italian Edition (14 Mar 2011 01:16pm)
As a follow-up to Illiterate Filmmakers: Last Man Standing Edition, I can't help but comment on a TV show I just watched. The first episode of the fifth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured the 1983 American film Warrior of the Lost World, which seems to have been produced in Italy. Regul...
Illiterate Filmmakers: Last Man Standing Edition (04 Mar 2011 03:52pm)
A lot of proper writing is not a matter of hard rules[1]—it is just a matter of clarity and beauty. One of the best examples of this is parallel structure. As Janis Bell states in Clean Well-Lighted Sentences, "When you write items in a series, you need to make sure they match each other in te...
A Most Forgettable Film (21 Feb 2011 04:07pm)
After Mel Gibson's musclebound Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, it should surprise no one that Guy Richie gives us a similar take on the only slightly less revered character of Sherlock Holmes. However, while we expect Christ to be seen shirtless, Richie's shirtless Victorian hero comes as a bit ...
"Getting Known" (11 Feb 2011 05:15pm)
This phrase (actually, a whole sentence as he wrote it) is from Samuel Beckett's great one-act play, Krapp's Last Tape. The full context is, "Seventeen copies sold, of which eleven at trade price to free circulating libraries beyond the seas. Getting known." Is it any wonder that of all Beckett's ch...
Who is TB 152371?! (23 Jan 2011 07:16pm)
For the past few weeks, I have been in a life-and-death struggle with TB 152371 on Netflix. Let me explain. I had given up writing "reviews" on Netflix, because I found the voting unfair. No one seemed to actually read the reviews; they just clicked "helpful" or "not helpful" if they agreed with you...
It Wasn't You, Charlie (18 Jan 2011 10:04pm)
I'm working on an article about the absence of meaning in the universe, so I thought I would take a break and write something fun—not meaningful, but fun. I just watched On the Waterfront for, probably, the fifth time. The scene everyone knows is the one where Terry tells his brother, Charlie,...
The Death of Hope: Sweet Charity and All That Jazz (17 Oct 2010 10:57am)
I picked up a copy of Sweet Charity from the library. It was Bob Fosse's first film, and his most straight forward. The choreography is probably the best I've ever seen. And the songs are great, with lyrics by Dorothy "The Way You Look Tonight" Fields. And the whole "A Doll's House" plot. But most o...
Gilligan's Island Theme Song (10 Oct 2010 05:56pm)
I just learned via Woman's World Magazine via my sister that the theme song from Gilligan's Island that I know and love was not the song used in the first season. I'm sure you know the later song, so I won't remind you. (You can find it at metacafe.com if you need a refresher.) According to the art...
Madame Tutli-Putli (13 Sep 2010 01:27pm)
Madame Tutli-Putli is a 2006 Canadian animated short by Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski, which was nominated for a 2007 Academy Award. It is exquisite—both in animation and in content. There seems to be much confusion about its meaning. But first, we need context. I don't want to say a lo...
Will the Real Truman Capote... (04 Jul 2010 04:20pm)
I just watched Infamous—some five years after seeing Capote. The two are not only Truman Capote biopics, but ones that focus on the same event: the writing of In Cold Blood. The similarities between the two films cannot easily be overstated. Since Capote beat Infamous to theaters by roughly a year, ...
Two War Films in One Day (18 May 2010 02:28pm)
When I was in high school, I was in speech club. In fact, hard as it is to believe, I was president of the club. One year, I competed in the "programmed reading" category, which I was apparently rather good at because I went to the state championship—a feat I accomplished that one time only. My pres...
Film POV (17 Mar 2010 03:13am)
POV stands for point-of-view. For an article in which the author utterly misunderstands how POV applies to film, check out this page (in his defense, film is not his thing). POV in film is a little complex. Originally, POV was developed for a story told or read. To extend this idea directly to a mov...
Miller's Crossing (17 Mar 2010 02:55am)
Many people miss the point of Miller's Crossing; what's more, they don't judge it on its own terms. It is widely known that the Coen brothers were inspired to make this movie by the works of Dashiell Hammett. But their inspiration does not matter in the least; it only tells us where they started, no...
Indian Rope Trip Part II (25 Feb 2010 12:10am)
Check out Part I of this Article. As promised, I am going to explain the Indian Chain Trick, the magical illusion that is most like the Indian Rope Trick, but which probably had nothing to do with the creation of the myth because John Elbert Wilkie probably knew nothing about it. The Mogul Emperor...
Indian Rope Trip Part I (23 Feb 2010 10:12pm)
Peter Lamont has written a fun little book called The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick. If you know this magic trick, you will get the punning title; if you are like me, you won't know quite how you feel about that. If you don't know the trick, let me explain. A magician—but one with a turban, n...
Wow! (20 Jan 2010 01:33pm)
"Wow! 'Wow' is the word you're looking for!" is a quote from the greatly under-rated film The Brothers Bloom....
As if I Have Nothing Better (12 Jan 2010 02:03am)
Andrea sent me a second link, as if I have nothing better to do than sit around watching TV. This one is to the pilot episode of the long-dead BBC sitcom Black Books. As usual, Andrea has rather good taste; the show is very interesting and funny. It tells the story of a group of people who live and ...
On Watching SNL (12 Jan 2010 12:54am)
I haven't watched Saturday Night Live for at least a decade. But when Andrea told me that last week's episode with Carls Barkley (Season 35, Episode 11) was very funny, I figured that I would waste an hour watching it. I thought the opening about Yemen was a bit racist, but still very funny. The i...
And I Won't Even Complain About Not Much Liking Shakespeare (02 Jan 2010 06:01pm)
Are you lucky you tuned in today! Probably not, but as usual: you should be. I have found a great short lecture (Okay! It's 58 minutes, but the time flies.) by David Timson: David Timson Speak the Speech If you know who Timson is you are doing better than I am. He is certainly a guy who reads bo...
A World in Which I Don't Have to Watch "The Princess and the Frog" (31 Dec 2009 10:40pm)
I always thought that I liked kids, but I have come to the conclusion that this is not the case. If there were no children, no one would have made The Princess and the Frog. If no one had made it, I would not have spent the afternoon watching it. If I had not spent the afternoon watching it, I would...
Don't You Think? (12 Dec 2009 11:34pm)
This is a reference to the movie Demolition Man. Lenina Huxley: I find this lack of stimulus to be truly disappointing, don't you think? Warden William Smithers: I try not to, my dear. However, you're young, think all you want! ...
Why So Down on Krippendorf's Tribe? (31 Dec 1969 07:00pm)
Last night I watched Krippendorf's Tribe the 1998 filmed version of Frank Parkin's almost unrecognizable novel of the same name. Since it first came out, I've been a defender of the film. It certainly isn't great art—or art at all. It is just a silly film that doesn't try to be anything else. ...

Total Articles: 331