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January 16, 2011

Preface: let me say that I’m counting Doctor Who serials as films, because it just seems to make sense.  They’re usually 4-5 episodes that follow a relatively self-contained storyline and fill 1.5 to 2 hours.  Plus when you download them from Netflix, they’re all together as the serial.  So I’m counting it.  

Doctor Who: The Androids of Tara (1978) 

Being a Doctor Who fanatic, there aren’t too many serials that I flat out dislike.  This one, I think, was actually one of the more enjoyable and interesting ones.  Maybe because of my inherent interest in Medieval settings…and robots…and the juxtaposition of the two is pretty neat.  Sure there are some plot issues that I’ll be happy to overlook (like how is it that Romana just happens to look EXACTLY like the princess from a completely different planet?), and of course the effects are cheesy, but it’s 70s Doctor Who.  If you’re looking for completely plausible and high-tech, you’re in the wrong place.  And you know what?  It’s got Tom Baker.  Your argument is invalid. 


The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010) 

Yes, we watched a Disney/Bruckheimer film.  BUT it’s a Disney/Bruckheimer/Fuckin’ Nic Cage film.  And much like the first run at a Disney/Bruckheimer/Johnny Depp film, it was not a bad little movie.  It was fun, I enjoyed watching it, and Cage gives a solid, if well-reined, performance as an eccentric sorcerer trying to save the world from the forces of evil.  He certainly looks like a badass, with his long hair and leather trenchcoat and flying metal eagle/gargoyle thing, even if he doesn’t get to let loose.  It is a family film, after all.  Not one I’d buy, but enjoyable nonetheless.  

Check me out, I'm fucking magical.

January 15, 2011

Talk about your productive day!  In addition to getting up and getting donuts for breakfast, driving to Wimberley and back, having lunch with Mom and Aunt Heather, and yarn shopping, I managed to watch two movies!  And football!  But we’re here to talk about movies.

Ip Man (2008)

Somehow I missed this one up until now, despite hearing so much about it.  We got the BluRay in from Netflix a few weeks ago, and Mick had just turned it on when I walked in on Saturday.  It’s based on the true story of Master Ip, a famous Chinese martial arts master who defied the Japanese invaders to save his town, friends, and family….and also happened to train Bruce Lee later in life.  The film is beautifully shot and the fight scenes are amazing.  There were at least a handful of moments where I cried out in empathy with joints bending backwards and people getting a boot to the face.  Donnie Yen does a great job of playing the lovable hero who can also crush your soul with his fist.  Another highly recommended one.

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

CUSHING!  I have an intense adoration of Peter Cushing, and therefore of Hammer films across the spectrum.  The Draculas are my favorite, but The Curse of Frankenstein is among the most fabulous of the Hammer horror collection.  Peter Cushing is, of course, the mad Doctor Victor Frankenstein whose fascination with pushing the boundaries of scientific discovery becomes an obsession with creating the perfect being.  He goes from curious to passionate to completely self-absorbed, locking himself in his laboratory for days, ignoring the warnings of his colleagues and going so far as to commit murder to acquire parts for his ultimate creation.  The wonderful Christopher Lee plays The Monster, although he doesn’t get to show the full range of his genius (not having any lines or much direction for his character).  Robert Urquhart is also commendable as Frankenstein’s mentor and colleague Paul, who continually tries to talk Victor into coming back to reality, abandoning his madness and destroying the creature.  If you like Hammer Horror, Peter Cushing, Terrence Fisher and the like, you’ll like this one.

January 14, 2011

Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Another classic that had somehow eluded me up until now.  Mick had been talking about it a few weeks earlier, and lo and behold it happened to be the Vudu “$.99 rental of the day” on the 13th.  Sounded like the perfect time to watch!

Much as he suspected, I thought it was great.  It touches on themes of poverty, wealth, and mental health (or lack of) with understated intensity partly thanks to Humphrey Bogart’s magnificent performance.  Of course Walter Huston was completely lovable as your stereotypical Happy Prospector…he even does the dance!  And of course the eternal “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!”  Brilliant all around.  Highly recommended.

January 13, 2011

Last night Mick signed up for a new service on our tv, Vudu, just so we could watch

Pootie Tang (2001)

I’d never watched it and he insisted that I should.  I won’t say that I loved it, but I surely didn’t hate it either.  It was worth watching for Wanda Sykes alone.  And Louis CK directed, so that’s worth something. 

And this allergy-sinus headache is keeping me from being more verbose on the subject.  But there’s not really much else that needs to be said.

January 12, 2011

Surprisingly enough, we came across a movie I had seen that Mick hadn’t!  Our friend James came over with his BluRay copy of

Casino Royale (2006)

I saw it in the theater, and as much as I liked Daniel Craig as Bond, I wasn’t a fan of the film in general.  I loved the first half but was bored with the second half.  So I was pleasantly surprised when upon a second viewing I really liked the whole film.  Maybe it had to do with being at home, being able to get up and walk around and knit and eat…whatever it was, the back half didn’t seem to drag like it did the first time.  Mick was impressed that it stuck closely to the book and seemed to be really excited to see Felix make an appearance.  Overall, a good experience.  Glad I gave it a second chance.

obligatory Daniel Craig ab shot

January 11, 2011

Adding to the tally:

The Ruling Class (1972)

Mick added this to the queue for me months ago, and I kept meaning to throw it on one lazy Sunday morning.  Instead, I watched it on my half-day off after going to the doctor.  I must say, I’m glad I was fully awake for it; I’d hate to miss a moment of Peter O’Toole being fabulously brilliant for 2.5 hours.  The man knows crazy!  Besides being an intense character piece for O’Toole, it’s also a surreal little critique of the English nobility, their associations in Parliament, and the “treatment” of mental health.  And did I mention there are musical numbers?  A fabulous film, probably my favorite of the year so far. 

January 9, 2011

It was a good weekend for tv, which meant I only saw 1 movie I’d never seen but revisited a whole slew that I’d forgotten most of.  When I woke up on Sunday, SyFy was having a Star Trek movie marathon, and I decided to take it on.  Which means I watched:

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Star Trek: the Search for Spock (1984)
Star Trek: Generations (1994)
Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

First off, I don’t see why everyone talks so much crap about the first movie.  It wasn’t awful, it wasn’t terrible.  It wasn’t great, but I didn’t think it was as bad as everyone made it out to be.  A little cheesy at times, yes, but holy jeebus have you watched the show lately?  Cheese is not excluded from the Trek franchise.  Ever.  It really just felt like a padded out 60-min episode, which is all I really wanted from it. 

Second up, KHAAAAAAAAN!  By far the best Trek movie; it’s got an interesting, consistent story that isn’t overcomplicated by trying to cram in as many bad guys as possible.  Ricardo Montalban is fantastic, and Scotty on the bagpipes makes me a little misty every goddamn time.  Bastards. 

Search for Spock would have been a much better film if that’s all it was: the search for Spock.  The whole Klingon subplot seemed to only detract from the film rather than add any sort of drama or urgency.  I really liked the beginning, with the Enterprise crew taking back the ship.  And I really liked the end, the ceremony on Vulcan and even the kind of silly way they brought Spock back .  But Christopher Lloyd as a Klingon felt awfully forced, and even the death of Kirk’s son didn’t strike me with any feeling.  Even when Kirk repeats it three times.  “You Klingon bastards, you killed my son!”  We got it the first time.  Take out the Klingon stuff, and you have a kickass long episode that I’d watch any day.

Generations?  Don’t get me started.  A friend and I got into a heated debate via Facebook as I was watching it, he an avid Generations fan and I experiencing it for a second time and being wholly unimpressed.  If the whole movie was Kirk and Picard running around saving the world, cool!  I’d watch that!  But as it is, there’s 20 minutes of kinda cool Kirk and Scotty and Chekov…then there’s an hour of Next Gen stuff that seems flat and pointless, plus Data being emotional is far from funny and mostly just grating…and then the last 20 minutes are devoted to Kirk and Picard kicking ass.  But before that, they ride horses.  Maybe it’s because my attention was phasing in and out, but the whole “nexus” idea seemed convoluted and thin.  I never really understood Guinan’s part, and Malcom McDowell’s character could have been so much more than a sort of generic mad scientist.  And did I mention Jean Luc Picard crying?  No, really.  It’s awful.  Just awful. 

So then there was Nemesis.  This has a few things going for it: 1) Remans, a new-ish villain with some pretty wicked makeup effects, 2) Tom Motherfucking Hardy, a stupendous actor who chews the scenery, swallows it, shits it back out, and flings it against the wall, and 3) Patrick Stewart with a bigass gun.  If you’re a Riker/Troy shipper, this is the one where they get married.  That really has nothing to do with the story, but it’s there.  It has a storyline that’s mostly plausable, some really cool effects (it’s from 2002, so the CGI is well done and feels current), and no weepy captains.  Is it brilliant?  No.  Is it entertaining?  Sure.  Is it worth watching to see Tom Hardy and Patrick Stewart act each other into the dirt?  Definitely.     

So that’s my Trek-a-thon for Sunday.  There are a lot of worse ways one could spend a cold rainy weekend day.  And at the end of it, we had s’mores. 

January 8, 2011

Adding to the tally today:

Fort Apache (1948)
The Comancheros (1961)
The Undefeated (1969)

As luck would have it, AMC was having a “Wild About The Duke” day and showed John Wayne movies all day and night.  I made it through 3 before my husband demanded we eat and get out of the house. 

It was my first time watching Fort Apache; it’s a pretty straight-forward “war with the indians” story, though the real enemy here is the commander played brilliantly by Henry Fonda.  And there lies my only real complaint with the film: despite being an outright ass through the entire film, after he dies (sorry, spoiler) John Wayne & Co insist that he was a hero. 

The Comancheros is one of my favorite Duke flicks; it’s your typical ”cop befriends criminal” sort of story, a la Midnight Run and others.  Stuart Whitman is awfully charming as the New Orleans gambler Paul Regret, though Wayne is equally charming with his constant drawl of “monsieur”.  Also, Lee Marvin!

Sounds repetitive, but The Undefeated is another one of my favorites from John Wayne.  He plays a proud yet open-minded Union commander, foiled by Rock Hudson as the similarly respectable Confederate counterpart.  Hudson and his family and friends are fleeing the South for Mexico after the end of the war, having been promised aide from the Mexican president.  However, things are not as they were promised, and Wayne and his troop must come to the aid of their new friends.  It’s a cute overcoming-prejudice, let’s-all-band-together kind of film; not really challenging in ideaology but easy to watch and a little heartwarming at times. 

That concluded my Wayne-o-thon for the day.  Although I’ll mention I did watch the last 30 min of True Grit when I got home.

I wish I owned this!

January 7, 2011

So the new year is off to a slow start, but when I found out that it was Nicolas  Cage’s birthday, I decided we needed to have a celebration.  My simple plan of watching Bad Lieutenant became dinner and a movie, which became a huge feast and a movie, which became feast and party and movie.  So we had some folks over, I fried up 2 lbs of alligator (plus threw on some bacon-jalapeno mac n cheese, garlic fried green beans, and cheddar biscuits), and we watched Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.  It’s one of my favorite Nic Cage performances and one of my favorite Herzog films.  Here’s to the man, happy birthday!

January 2, 2011

I don’t know if it’s proper to tally movies even if you’ve seen them a million and a half times, but I think I’m so far behind many of my compatriots that I won’t even come close to their numbers no matter what I do.  Besides, it’s Sunday and I don’t like to think too much.  So here’s my first tally of the new year!

1. Mad Max (1979)
2. The Road Warrior (1981)
3. Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

Let it be said here that I love the Mad Max franchise, and I love the Encore Action channel for showing them all together on a Sunday morning. 

4. The Forbidden Planet (1956)

Sad that we’ve lost two great stars of this film in the last few months.  It’s one of my favorite sci-fi films of all time; the scope and ambition of it are impressive for its time, and Walter Pidgeon is fantastic as the quasi-villain Morbeus. 

I’ll also throw in that I’m now reading the book On A Pale Horse by Piers Anthony.  Even though I started it before the new year, I’m putting it on this list as I’m less than halfway through now.  The goal is to finish the Incarnations of Immortality series as soon as possible, then I’m planning on restarting the Song of Fire and Ice books.  I started that one a while back and got sidetracked, but seeing as the miniseries is on the horizon I figure I ought to get it done with. 

But here’s my official tag for Death:

1. On A Pale Horse  Piers Anthony

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