a dream to some, a nightmare to others…

First off, for anyone who has been troubled by the warnings of the “media of fear” (man, remember the Anthrax scare?) or swept in by the fancy pictures and car-dealer salemanship of Mister Gore’s campaign strategy… I have two things to recommend. One is a not-yet-published book called Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years and it was written by S. Fred Singer, the founding Dean of the School of Environmental and Planetary Sciences at the University of Miami. The book has the boring, yet realistic, premise of “global temperatures have been rising mostly or entirely because of a natural cycle. Unstoppable Global Warming explains why we’re warming, why it’s not very dangerous, and why we can’t stop it anyway.”… Yeah no one will win elections with that kind of non-fear kind talk!

Also, here is a great article at the Center for Global Food Issues!

And now, Excalibur.

Yes, as we all know, possibly the finest of the swords and sorcery films (points are lost for the usage of armor that postdates Arthur by a thousand years, though it is such nice looking armor). They really haven’t ever made another epic like this. Sadly, to my knowledge, there is just this one cheapo DVD edition from 1999, a Special Edition as gratuitous as the film is sorely needed for this classic!

Grand in its scope and its cinematography and sets, and well-using its nearly 2.5 hour length to cover the key elements of the tales thoroughly and to build the characters well, it is a great film. Great casting in some parts: Nicol Williamson, as always, is inspired and brilliant and the heart of the film. His domination of the plot is complete and is a joy to behold! Helen Mirrim and Gabriel Byrne are also quite good… The others though: Terry is hit and miss (though his voice can be strangely effective), Clay and Lunghi aren’t too compelling and Katrine Boorman tragically overdoes her role in an bad way but who cares… The movie is a grand and wonderful thing!

But as I touched upon before, it looks rather shoddy in this DVD edition and even the brilliant scenes are lacking the glory they should have… Fear not though, the film is still rife with: courageous battles

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intriguing sets…

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and a great and foggy final battle, though I won’t show any give-away scenes…

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and the music of course, the famous usage of O Fortuna blended with the dramatic filming and the scenery will continue to make the “renewal” scene one of the greatest dramatic epic scenes in film, though they can seem minor and repetetitive, there is an over-yet-under-stated beauty and drama to these scenes…

excalibur 01:56:38

And now, we leap ahead a movie and watch Goldfinger. Okay, so the finest of bonds. Maybe not my favorite, but with the great Gert Frobe and Honor Blackman and those shifty Mafia guys and (a new) Felix Leiter, there is alot of well-done goodness. There are some great sets, mainly Goldfingers meeting room and of course the timeless dialogue: “No, Mister Bond, I want you to die!”. The movie is clever and fun and marks the first appearance of the great Austin Martin (of which I thoroughly destroyed mine as a child… What are kids thinking?) and a wondrous collection of schemes by the super-nefarious Goldfinger.

And then Thunderball. My old favorite, well at least since I turned away from The Spy who Loved Me and Roger Moore. Okay, Cait pointed out that maybe it’s not as good as I remembered, maybe the jetpack scene and the underwater battles are a bit too much, and there is something disturbing about Tom Jones singing Thunderball… maybe they should have hired a woman for that one. But what’s good? You’ve got Spectre with the hidden cat petter “Number one”, really great music, M’s enormous meeting room off his little office, and again, back to the islands and another new Felix Leiter.

who’s your man?

Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man. Before we saw it, I was in the “why are all these people doing his songs, why not have him just do them?” school. But I’m converted! Musically it was really good, the arrangements were really good, and (except for the song sung by the background singers) the live performances were really good, though I don’t think I’d heard any of those folks before. Well, except of course Nick Cave, his performance which starts it off was my favorite number of the bit… Though the mysterious Antony was rather impressive. In all honestly, it was also nice because though I am familiar with Leonard Cohen, I generally haven’t really listened all that closely to his songs (except for Tower of Song) so I never had that great a sense of his songwriting. But I must say, those folks really brought the songs out and, of course, hearing the songs in a movie theater instead of on the ol’ stereo, made them oh soo much more apparent. Yes, in case you don’t know, he is a very moving songwriter, I’ll need to pay more attention in the future…

Anyways, The interviews were great, Mr. Cohen is a very inspiring man and it was really great to see him talk. My dislike for U2 made the last bit a bit of a downer, but it was still nice to see him out there. And Caitlin told me the the local “hip-weekly” had some complaint that they thought that last bit was lip-synced… Well, it was obviously lip-synced. I don’t think that were even trying to hide it. The rest of the movie was a musical performance, the end was a music video… of course it looked lip-synced. It reminded me of when people complained that Under the Cherry Moon was bad because it was corny, and I was like… Um, it was supposed to be corny, that was the idea…

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Well, yes, I actually hadn’t seen this before… but it very much left me with the notion that I should watch it again, you see, I wasn’t that keen on it. In fact, I would say that it would be my least favorite of the RM films that I’ve seen. It was sad to hear that he toned it down in the hopes of getting an R rating, which he failed to get… It’s shocking that any of his movies would receive an X or NC-17 rating! This one, if you cut out a couple of nude scenes would probably get a PG-13 today, though the DVD says NC-17. Anyway, the movie was alright, it just seemed to be missing something. I realize that am biased due to having watched Valley of the Dolls not long before and having seen a number of RM movies, I will have more positive things to say after the next viewing. At this point, I would say that Valley of the dolls was a better and funner movie.

Dr No. My appreciation of this has certainly gained thorough the ages. During my annual seeing of all of the films at the Bond Film festival back in the early 80’s I didn’t really like this one. I was more of a Moore fan (ah, the naiveté of youth) and there weren’t any gadgets in this one… And no Q! But no, it is actually as good as most of the rest and is an indispensable view for anyone who plans on watching the Bond movies. Heck, it has Ursula Andress and Jack Lord!

And then we watched Back to the Future. What to say about this? Everyone’s seen it multiple times I imagine and it’s just as we remember. Fairly interesting, fun and a cute story. Plus with Crispen Glover and Christopher Lloyd, who can argue.

Never Been Kissed. What to say? Well, silly, yet not funny. Probably one of the least good films I have seen. Yes, I do admit that “chick flicks” and comedies aren’t really my thing, but I’ve seen enough of both to tell good from bad and this was bad, shallow and poorly conceived. The story was dumb, and made dumber, and Drew’s acting and/or character, was just too corny to be believed. The movie did improve towards the end, once they stopped trying to prove soo hard how dorky she was, and David Arquette did a good job.

Back to the Future, part 2. Well, they certainly bring you back to the past with recycling probably a good half hour of footage from the first one, but it is done in an entertaining and meaningful plot-wise way (not just a horrid scam like in Silent Night Deadly Night 2) but… The story really seems unnecessary. But, like I said before, the movie is fairly fun and if you’re going to watch the first one, you might as well follow it up with this.

Great Yokai War. Well. I had been waiting for this for a long time. I was rather excited to see it appear at a local theater so, of course, I made my was down and saw it. Okay, so it now makes three Miike films in a row that I have seen and not liked. I found this to be really just not too interesting. In fact, I only stayed for the first hour or so.

i’ve done worse…

Okay, so finally a bit more movie watching has occurred. Thanks to the removal of “big cable” from the house… With all this extra time, we were able to watch:

Small Time Crooks. Wow. Silly and boring. A strangely dumb movie for Woody… Of course, I thought that same thing about Sleeper, but at least that had a nutty bunch of ideas behind it, this was just a “dumber than average” “crime” “comedy”. Honestly, I didn’t even watch all of it. I thought it was funny to see John Lovitz in a movie and Tracey Ullman did a good job, but Woody needs to just play Woody. He comes across a bit fake and corny trying to be some other character. Really, not much to recommend this, so I don’t.

Then, inspired by Match Point, we watched Crimes & Misdemeanors. I had forgotten that I’d seen it, but once I remembered, it is probably my favorite of his films since the 70’s. The two movies follow a thematic similarity and I like both of them quite a bit. of course, this older one features Woody! Also I really like Martin Landau, though probably just because he starred in two of the greatest shows of my youth, Mission Impossible (where’re those DVD’s?) and Space:1999. He may truly seem like a bit of a jerk (I’ll always remember when he set Kennedy straight at the opening for the fake Mission Impossible… Yeah, he treated her terribly, but heck, I liked it! I never could stand her… One of the finest moments in TV…), but I do like him. Anyway, the movie. Everyone does a good job. I feel like Angelica Houston should be a much bigger star than she is, she is always great! Alan Alda and Mia Farrow, while I don’t like either one of them or their characters, they both succeed in their roles. The story-line is involving and fun, Woody plays Woody and Jack Orbach is always a convincing character. If you haven’t seen it, and you aren’t one of those unclean who dislike Woody Allen, it is highly recommended. The best parts are with the Professor Levy character, if only that movie could get made…

Manny & Lo. This was a fun little movie. A couple of girls just trying to figure out what to do with themselves and their little “issue”. It’s sort of a one gag story, but it manages to stay on track and not seem overplayed. It’s low key and not full of surprises, but the characters are played involvingly enough to make it work well. Lo, while making one bad decision after another remains very sympathetic, Manny as the smart one is the least fun of the characters, but as the years go on, I’m learning to appreciate Scarlett Johansson, and Mary Kay Place is just as charming as always.

Deliverance. Yes, to some, it’s just a movie about four city slickers who hear some kid play a banjo, canoe down a river, and squeal like a pig, but oh, like most Boorman movies, it is soo much more then that. A meditation about friendship, environmental destruction, the truth behind the veil of cultures, the difference between living and just being alive, nature & the destruction thereof and, most of all, re-evaluating ones place in society, stepping out from behind the facades that we have made for ourselves and crossing the imaginary line that lay between each of us and violence. Plus, I think that there are some really good scenes, especially the dueling banjo, but the real killer scene has to be Jon Voight’s trip up the cliff… Man. And what’s with that photography there? Some of the most interesting “nighttime” shooting I’ve ever seen. It seems that the movie was shot in Herzogian fashion, without insurance or stunt-doubles. It just feels really real and it must have been a hell of a shoot for the actors. And Ned Beatty? He should get an oscar just for playing this role.

Anyway, it seemed a once in a lifetime opportunity to see this awesome film in a theater and, though the print was a bit beat and the projection a bit shaky at times, it was great to see and it’s always great to have a beer theater that plays movies like this!

with Burt in town, who needs stuntmen…
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my kind of nighttime…
deliverance 1:14:07

Valley of the Dolls. I thought this was darn fun! I also thought that John Waters must have seen this a good number of times. There were moments that I thought that the scene could have easily included Divine in a sequined dress! It was a bit silly (the way they started throwing around the word “dolls” seems a bit much)… But it was fun to watch the three young girls on their progressions through their careers and loves and all. Sometimes, I must admit, Patty Duke was a bit overacting and it’s a bit odd to see Sharon Tate, knowing what her Not-to-far-off end would be, but Susan Hayword was great! Unlike a lot of reviewers out there, I didn’t find the film to be one of those “soo bad it’s good” movies. I didn’t really find it to be bad, really. It looks good, the roles are well cast and acted, the story-line is engaging and the script, while a bit campy, worked well with the characters and the subject matter.

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and downs…
valley of the dolls 1:31:15

she doesn’t have any shoes…

Oh where to begin… Well, i’ve watched some movies… But it’s been soo long that I may have forgotten some of them.

At the beginning, we watched Ray. I thought it was pretty good. Like everyone else, I have always considered Ray Charles to be a wonderful fellow and a wonderful musician, yet I knew very little about him beyond that, so it was nice to see a spirited rendition of his life story.. There was a good portion of both the sweet and the sour and it kept up some good energy. Also, it was a very attractive film to look at. Nicely shot, nice costuming (some very nice suits), very pleasing. It was also fun to see Larenz Tate, who I’ve only previously seen in his great portrayal of O-Dog in the wonderful Menace II Society, and a nice surprise to have Curtis Armstrong appear.

And then another Woody Allen fantasy. Though I prefer Woody Allen movies with Woody Allen, this one wasn’t a trademark Allen movie, so his absence was fine. In fact, the movie was really good. Match Point has a strong story, some bad people, a very bad person, an endless anxiety of impending comeuppance and some great acting. A really great movie! Though it isn’t totally Allenesque, I definitely imagined that the notion of trying to get away with some kind of secret relationship with a non-blood related family member had some resonance for him.

And we actually snuck out to the theater to see a film. And a good choice it was! We watched Word Play. We both really liked this one! We are big documentary fans, but this was better than most: it was always interesting, and it’s always fun to see Wil Shortz. The rest of the subjects were an engaging bunch of people. The whole darn movie, while it can be tense at times, is lots of fun and seems rife with humanity. It constantly reminds you that there is still joy in the world and people who spend their time doing things that they really derive a great satisfaction from.

Another highlight this time was Metal: a Headbangers Journey. This, strangely enough, turned up on pay-per-view. I again liked it alot. It was interesting to see a real documentary on Metal from someone who was actually a metal person. Not one of those staid “sport-coat and jeans” Rolling Stone types who thought they were hot in ’82 when they smoked weed to Over the Mountain but since then have learned that U2 is what rock is really about, but someone who really knows what metal is about. Knows that it’s not just a genre of music that you can toss off with some grandiose comments about Led Zeppelin and Ozzy and think it died with teased hair. Anyway, I digress, but the movie, while a bit brief on some subjects, is solid. I must pick up the DVD to get a glimpse of the special features. Asides though, of course, I found the inclusion of bands like slipknot to be kinda lame, but then, those bands are lame and some people consider them metal, so I guess it fits. But come on “dudes” drop the masks during the interview. Oh yeah, hands down, the high point of the film is the interview with Necrobutcher, easily the funniest part of the movie!

And, though it’s kind of the other end of the spectrum, it really made me wish that they would release The Metal Years on dvd… My old VHS is so worn that everything has faded to red.

And yes, I’d never seen (nor have I read) In Cold Blood. Well, now that’s done. Another great old classic that, upon watching, I can’t imagine why I’d never seen it (I suppose I’ll say the same thing whenever I get around to raging Bull). Though it probably wasn’t the best part, I really enjoyed seeing John Forsythe (being that I was always on the Dynasty side of the fence). I’ve always found him to be a compelling actor and I really like his voice. Of course, the highlight of the movie is Robert Blake. He turns in an honest portrayal of Perry, in his “cold, yet not cold” manner. The film looks very nice, most of the actors turn in good performances and, even in this era of endless serial killer documentaries on Court TV, something about this story still pulls some strings.

Ok, so I made a second trip to the theater. I saw Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. The wife wouldn’t go but, since she did make the trip out for Sympathy for Mr Vengeance last year, I though that was quite understandable…. As one would expect, it was good. It was shot really nicely and it had some great scenes and visuals. Though I’ve heard some good reviews of it, it would be my least favorite of the trilogy. Though it was very nicely made, the plot didn’t really move me. Both of the previous entries I had an easier time falling into, this story just kept me at a distance, I felt like he was just grasping at some other reason someone would be striving for vengeance. But it’s certainly worth watching and though I do admit that the story and characters in the first one seemed maybe hokier than this one, that one still seemed more original at the time.

Then, the next day, came an unanticipated sick day. That, of course, led to the watching of some standard sick day fare.

First up, Fortress. What can I say? Bad, plain and simple. The inclusion of two stalwarts (Jeffrey Combs and Stuart Gordon) with great resumes and the always fun Kirkwood Smith doesn’t help this dog. There are some nice gore effects that are in the Gordon style, but the rest of it just plain stinks. Boring crap. I mean it. No, seriously. How can garbage like this leave the editing room and get shipped out. The only thing that anyone could say would be, “well, that looks like a real cheapo”.

And then, Resident Evil 2. Why? I don’t know. I didn’t like the first one but I figured after watching Fortress, I could use something with an effects budget. Starting off like a homage to 28 Days Later (complete with “13 hours later”), but with a big budget and much much lamer… Well, the list of movies it seems to bring back memories of got longer: LOTR, Land of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead… It was quite boring and uninspired. While I didn’t like the first installment much, it is certainly head and shoulders above this one and though I’m not too fond of Milla, she was perfectly functional in both films and the addition of a second girl action lead who comes across as a cardboard stereotype is unneeded and dull.

There is really no reason to bother with contrived garbage like this, when you can get the same thrills, much better done, from soo many other sources…

Then I watched The Dirty Dozen. Well, though it certainly had an ensemble cast (including two old favorites, Marvin and Bronson), it was just a bit too cheesy for me. Since I’m not a fan of war movies, I like them to be a bit more serious. It’ll probably end up on the “sell” pile, but it was good to actually watch it as an adult, just to, you know, know.

And then The Descent again… Still scary and fun! The wife wanted to watch it and I gladly obliged. I noticed recently a trailer for its impending American release. Of course, as is common, they basically give away the whole thing (am I the only one who wants to know nothing about a movie before I sit down for it?), but I will certainly make an attempt to see it on the big screen, especially if’n it comes to a beer theater!

I also watched some of Sid & Nancy, though due to the wife watching the whole thing, I got to hear all of it. I honestly don’t know how people can watch that film over and over. It was soo annoying that I couldn’t even sit through more then 10 minutes of it. Waiting for those arseholes to shut up and die really tired me out… A flock of losers yelling all the time and making big messes… man. At least there was a playing of Oh Bondage, Up Yours (easily my favorite old punky song), though I’m not sure who they had on the stage for that scene. Oh and seeing Courtney Love in a movie this old made me fell, well, kinda old. Though everyone was annoying I do feel that they cast it well. But, sadly, the movie is boring and irritating.

Oh and finally… Though the hiking has tapered off, a few weeks ago Paul and I made the trek up Dog Mountain. It was really beautiful and great and had some good strenuous parts but, since I took too many pictures, I made a page for it here: The Dog Mountain Journey.


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