one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten bottles of gin…

First off, what about the long term? I know that it will seem a bit hyperbolic but, I must comment on a trend. Around these parts, real estate is a hot item. I would venture to guess that houses are now “worth” double (or more) their price of ten years ago. The trend that disturbs me this moment though is: all of the new construction seem to be houses or condos, not much “rentable” property seems to be appearing. I would expect that with the dramatic increase in population over the last 20 years, there would be a demand for lots of rentals. On top of all of this, the number of apartment buildings (especially the nice old courtyards and brick ones) that are being converted to condominiums seems quite high. There is one that was just converted right up the block and one being converted across the street from it. So if: 1) new rentals units are not being built, 2) old rental units are being converted to non-rentals, 3) the price of purchase is steadily going up, and 4) the population is on the rise… What will be the options for people who want to rent? What will happen to the age old tradition of your first apartment? If you want to get out of high school and get a little job and an apartment and go do some college or whatever (what everyone I knew was doing at 18-20)… It seems that time may be going. It just makes me wonder what happens when the availability of rentals goes away… Will we end up in that San Francisco state of affairs, with people renting out hall closets and such? Also, I have to question some motives because, if one owned an apartment building, they would certainly get more money out of it by renting the units out for decades than they will for just selling all of the units at once… I would imagine. Is it just more obnoxious “cashing in and making things worse”?

Since we’re talking about Portland, I’ll start off with the HP Lovecraft Collection Volume One… Now, though I like these, I must warn you all that the shorts on these discs are made by Lovecraft fans for Lovecraft fans. There is nothing fancy here: short films, generally black and white, with low (very very low) production values and without the most accurate set design. But it is a good and commendable effort to have the drive to turn one of these stories into film. And, if one hasn’t access to a HPL Film Festival then they are about the only way to watch any Lovecraft films outside of the flashy Gordon/Yuzna oeuvre. Volume One focuses on Cool Air, which is a nice film. They found a good player for Doctor Munoz and the movie does a good job of sticking to the story… The disc also includes Nyarlathop, which is a voice over reading the stories with some acting out behind it, a little odd. But I appreciate what they seem to be trying to do. My favorite was An Imperfect Solution, which follows Part IV (screams of the dead) of the Herbert West Re-animator stories. I really love the Herbert West stories, they have more of a fun air about them then all of those serious stories. Though the movie shares similar production values with the other, it also shows a higher level of spunkiness that I find both more entertaining and I think is also more in character with the story.

To continue on with my Blind Dead series, I put on Ghost Galleon. Okay, well, so far the silliest one of the series, and the least exciting. This time the Blind Dead have left their countryside and are floating around in an abandoned galleon in the sea (in a different dimension) surrounded by a warm fog. When two models on a publicity stunt encounter the galleon and disappear, a group sails out in search of them. So while that’s all fine and good, it seems a bit sketchy… Especially for a third movie. I mean, how did they get on the boat and what’s with the multi-dimensional warm fog cloud that is only visible from small boats? Sure in the first two movies you had to do a little reality-suspension but at least it was a reasonable back-story. This one isn’t just sketchy, the first two movies make it seem even sketchier. And the boat model they use is awful and they use the same “lady with shoe stuck in the steps while fleeing the Blind Dead” as in the other films. There is some intense melodrama though… The high points would be: the zombies, who are just as good as always (pretty much exactly the same as before, though without their horses), Barbara Rey’s scene where she spends three straight minutes either crawling forward on the ground or being dragged backwards with blood in her mouth going, “ahhh ah ahh ah” in scratchy sounds (of course, that doesn’t turn out well for her)… The other high point is the music, which is great with lots of chanting and creaking. Of course, it’s still a must see for Blind Deaders.



just a little farther…
ghost galleon 59:22


the boys are back…
ghost galleon 01:13:30


back, you nasties…
ghost galleon 01:15:59

We then witnessed a slow motion train wreck. It goes by the name of If I Should Fall From Grace and it’s a great documentary on Shane MacGowan. Yeah, I knew he was a messed up drunk, but man, I never really knew… He’s basically never straight, always lounging about in the drink with his orange smoking fingers and missing teeth. Speaking of those, no matter what excuses folks may give for him missing his front teeth, you can follow a very noticeable decline in the size of his front teeth as time goes on. Including the famed “Meth Jellybean” stage (reminiscent of the “watch Michael’s nose” pictures). The guy is basically a complete wreck who mumbles on about how he wrote all the songs while drinking fifths of gin and drooling (teeth aren’t just for eating, kids!). Not the most sympathetic character. But the documentary is quite good. Some great live performances (including him doing Fairytale of New York with the great, late, Kirsty MacColl) and videos covering most of his career from the Nips to the Popes. Also lots of interviews with all sorts of folks: his girlfriend, his mom and pop, Pogues members and Nick Cave. A handy feature is that the Scene selection menu is listed by song title. So if you click the song you want, it brings you to the beginning of it.


the man, the legend…
if i should fall 21:31

And Monday was such a perfect movie day we went out to a matinée of Breach. I’d never heard of it, so that always makes it more fun and I actually quite liked it. The story of the FBI agent who cracked the biggest case of espionage in American history. It’s a quiet, slowly paced film about the internal conflict of the agent assigned to Robert Hanssen to try and find some proof of his spying. Of course, the characters get close, in their own way, and it all becomes an internal struggle for the young FBI fellow and his wife. Not a mystery or a thriller, though there are some tense scenes. It’s just a nice drama that I doubt many people will bother going to see.



so many rat-races…

Oi Microsoft. I know that no corporation really has the best interests of their consumers in mind, but sometimes, it can swing too far the other way. Case in point? Microsoft. Thinking of all of their protectionist antics: those terrible multi-year upgrade contracts where you pay for upgrades even if you don’t want or need them, the ironclad box they call the Zune and its crazy “we work for the RIAA” DRM strategy (okay everyone, now you can stop complaining about Apple’s DRM), the rumor that Walmart signed a contract with them to ensure that Firefox won’t work with their movie download site… I see that this week it been changed to just give an “unsupported browser” window instead of the gibberish it was presenting (of course, having iCab spoof IE you could get in and use it, if you really wanted to…), their old standard of having their web software write HTML in a non-standard way in an attempt to undermine the other Browsers in the world. And then now? This patent 20070033102 for technology that (in the case of “paid” advertisement’s: free computers with ad’s on desktop, free browser with ad’s on the desktop, etc) will enable them to verify that the user is “consuming the advertisement”? Possibly opening more of those beloved Microsoft windows for you to “interact” with to ensure consumption of advertisement and possibly shutting off the service if you do not pay enough attention to the ad’s. Sure, it sounds reasonable (nothing is free, etc) but viewed all together, they may be the most anti-consumer “Consumer Goods” company.

This 25 year campaign to pretend that they are the standard and the only option because they know that if people don’t think that way, they probably wouldn’t buy Microsoft products. I think that the “sales” of the Zune and Ballmer’s comments that – the sales of Vista will be basically the same as the sales of new systems – point this out. It again reminds me of the RIAA and how they shutdown the old MP3.com because it enabled people to distribute their own music (and maybe even make some money) without a recording contract, Microsoft seeks to shutdown anyone who tries to let people know that there are better, non-Microsoft options.

“Now that we have 90% of the computer population looking at our screens all day, let’s force them to be as chained to these systems as we want them too be: crappy MSoft applications, over-the-top security system with waves of alert windows, buying music and being told where and how you can listen to it, subverting the standards of the Internet to damage competition.. We just need to make sure they don’t realize they have other options!”.

I would say that I cannot imagine why all these companies spend all of this time and money on Windows stuff, except for that the IT departments of the world know that if the people they support were to switch (to linux, Mac or better yet, Unix, but with a Mac you get both anyway), there wouldn’t be nearly the need for IT departments. Talk about planned obsolescence…

Anyway, on to movies, none of which have been downloaded from Walmart… Jesus Camp. Yes well, a bit scary. A very unbiased documentary about evangelical children. Like Blood in the Face, it can be hard to watch. These belief systems that, not only require no factual basis, but also consider contrary factual information (tests of faith or what have you) as evidence, are very scary. If you think that not only are your beliefs unprovable but anything that contradicts you makes you feel all the more correct, can lead people into all sorts of nutty stuff. If there ever was a historical Jesus, I feel that he would be shocked to see what his hopes for reforming Judaism have warped into. Anyway, the folks who made this basically let the Jesus Camp folks say it as they think it (though they do throw in some of an Air America commentator to, well, balance it isn’t the right word, but to show an opposing viewpoint). This movie is alot of kids with bad haircuts who have trained themselves to cry at the drop of a hat and rattle on in, um, “tongues”. It gives a very bad name to home schooling (Creationism? Dad says so!). But, if you can stomach it (as I barely could) it is interesting, though you can’t help but wonder how some of these kids might freak out when they hit their twenties and reality starts peeking in around their folks apron strings…

On a more cheerful note, I continued my way through the Blind Dead saga with El Ataque de los Muertos sin Ojos (aka: Return of the Evil Dead). Well, first off, not to spoil anything, but the ending is very anti-climactic. Aside from that, it moves the action of the first movie into a town. Like most sequels, pretty unneeded unless you’re a fan and, a fan I am! I do so love those horse-riding skeletons! Five hundreds years after the townsfolk kill the Templars they have a little celebration with “burning templars in effigy” and everything! But, of course, the old stories are true and the nasty knights return! They proceed to attack the town and our heroes hole up in the church and the games begin! The town slaughter scenes are a bit hackneyed and silly, but it is still great fun.

To Die For. Okay, well, not quite my cup of tea… Though the story seemed like it had some potential. It seemed like one of those Based-on-a-true-story kinda stories where a wife convinces some dense teenagers that they should kill her husband. Matt Dillon was good but I really don’t like Nicole Kidman. She seems a terrible actress and her style comes across very stilted. The wife thinks (which sounds reasonable to me) that it’s because she’s always cast as an American so she is has to fake a bit more than most folks. And I may be dense but, the box describes it as a comedy. Which it certainly didn’t strike me as one of… Maybe they meant that for the box of I Love You to Death, now that’s a spouse killing comedy which I highly recommend!…

Event Horizon. I finally got my hands on a copy of this! I saw it a good while ago and remembered liking it. So now this time? It has a lot of elements of fun classic films, most noticeably it’s a bit of Alien and Hellraiser and I find it quite likable. A rescue ship is sent to investigate another ship that had vanished and then come back (but from where) and it has come back with a little something strange… Animal? Vegetable? Mineral? Chunks of pure evil? You be the judge. It’s a fun, dark, action-filled, sci-fi/horror film, it has good creepiness and some nice gore scenes. It’s suspenseful and has good look to it and some fun science fiction ideas. The casting of Sam Neill seemed a bit odd to me, but he does a good job and generally the cast is strong. All in all a strong film, though some bits seemed a bit too far fetched (the airlock rescue scene? Anyone?) and I swear that a half hour must be missing from the film.

Pan’s Labyrinth. Yes, I actually did make it to this, as I’d been planning for months, ever since the Rue Morgue feature. Though it wasn’t quite as grand as I had been expecting, it was plenty fun. A little girl, living at a military outpost at the tail end of the Spanish civil war, is told that she is the daughter of the king of the underworld and must complete three tasks to prove herself. It combines a fantasy film with some subterfuge and shooting. I appreciated the Civil War stuff just because it’s rarely portrayed (or even mentioned) in the USA at all, so it was nice to get this little glimmer of it. In terms of the fantasy stuff, it was good, and I would have liked for there to have been a bit more, but I found both of the story arcs to be engaging and fairly suspenseful and the movie looks nice. Remember, it isn’t for children (or maybe even pregnant ladies).

Keep the River on Your Right. I thought it was interesting, less of the jungle than I had expected and it doesn’t come across as “dangerous” as I had expected from the marketing. it is pretty much a harmless tale of a fellow who goes and lives with the natives for a good while and then now, many years later, goes back (to New Guinea and Peru) and meets up with those he knew before. Its basically a sweet story of an old man revisiting his youth. The marketing again makes a big to-do about the cannibal angle, but it’s a pretty minor deal and not really too big a piece of the story… Except for some of the comments of interviews in the movie.

Desperation. I liked this pretty well, certainly better than most of the other Stephen King TV projects I’ve seen. Maybe it was the setting that enabled it to come off not being as overtly cheapo as most of the others? The story of the sheriff of an empty town who seems to enjoy collecting folks he pulls over, It was directed by Mick Garris (who is busy these days directing Masters of Horror episodes… though I haven’t seen any of his) and stars Ron Perlman, Tom Skerrit (!) and Steven Weber (from Jenifer, another Masters of Horror connection). Though don’t get me wrong, it is pretty corny. But I found it easy to play along with and fun. And Perlman’s sheriff is a pretty vile fellow, though the ending is weakly anticlimactic.



blue bonnets and everything…

Well, again, I let this go too long in time, so it has become too long in general. I will hold off on any general comments (maybe more about Fluoride next time!?) and just go right to some movies…

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Well, this was fine. It was really about the same thing as Bridget Jones Diary, so it seemed a little unneeded since it wasn’t as good as the first. It was sort of a sequel and a lesser retelling. But if you liked the original characters and situations and want more of the same, this is for you!

Antonia’s Line. A fine little Belgian movie and a very charming story. A woman and her young daughter return to her home town to see her dying mother, they end up staying on and she ends up being the matron of 4 generations of ladies who live at the farm and live their lives. A fun story of relationships between family and community and ups and downs and a fun and inspiring glimpse into a better way of life. Plus, at some points it even gets wacky!

Chappelle’s Show, the 2nd season. Okay, this is pretty damned funny. The show is an odd skit format, and very short, and some of it isn’t that exciting (Negrodamus and Lil’ Jon) but the majority of the skits are really funny and most especially… Charlie Murphy is hilarious and his skits are the best parts. The True Hollywood Stories are incredibly funny. I just don’t know what else to say. The appearance of Rick James (the real…) is scary and great. The man was a legend and a nut. Pure Rick. The whole series is highly recommended to anyone who appreciates highly un-PC comedy.

Rollerball. The Story of Jonathan E (the game’s greatest star) and his drive to stay in the game once the Corporation tells him to leave. It’s not so much about the game as it is a cautionary tale of corporate control and also a quite Randian tale of a man who is the best in his field being brought down due to his greatness (the game exists to show the superiority of being part of a team… no player is bigger than the game…). Caan is, of course, great in this tough but soft-spoken character and a surprise appearance of John Houseman as the Corporation fellow is good. Jonathan becomes very suspicious of them wanting him out and tries to figure out what is going on, against all sorts of pressure: threats by the corporation, the women assigned to him telling him to just quit, his dopey macho best friend Moonpie telling him to just take it easy and enjoy the luxuries he has… All of this, of course, against the backdrop of a violent game of spikes, roller-skates and motorcycles. The game scenes are pretty exciting and his tan leisure suit with Spanish hat is pretty sweet. All in all, though I am a fan of most all of the the future paranoia films of the 1970’s, this right up there with Logan’s Run as my favorite.



the moves…
rollerball 1:20:40

The Devil & Daniel Johnston. Well, I’ve never been too sure of Johnston’s music. Sometimes I’m in the mood, sometimes… I’m really not. But I’ve always appreciated the sincerity of it. In the movie, his sincerity is very apparent. It is also clear that he in genuinely crazy, not a wanna be like all those medicated masses out there. The movie though is quite good. If you like him… If you don’t… either way. Some great interviews with people and tons of home movie footage and really just an interesting, stranger then fiction, kind of life story. Of course, the high point is Gibby and the shots of the surfers.

Giant. Well, this is a tricky one. See, it was a two-sided disc and we put in the wrong side first. It started a bit odd but was fine until about a minute before the end when Caitlin said, “do you ever get the feeling that you’ve just watched the last half of a movie?” I thought that it had seemed like we’d been watching it for 3 hours, but it only read an hour and a half. Anyway, we then flipped it over and watched the first half. I liked the second half alright… The aging makeup was badly overdone (why would they pick Rock and Liz and Dean to play oldsters), and the obnoxious old habit of using non-Mexicans to play Mexicans by using make-up is both pointless and dumb. But the second half was alright. I didn’t like any of the characters in the first half (though at least they didn’t have the terrible make-up). Anyway, the story of Rock Hudson, a cow man who is raising his cows on his half million acres and trying to avoid becoming an oil man wile at the same time expanding his racial acceptance horizons and James Dean as the villain, a cowhand who becomes and oil man.

Well on a little jaunt to Music Millennium I got the score of the month, the Blind Dead Collection Coffin was used there and I picked it up for under $20. It was something I’ve wanted for a long while and so I got started right away with La Noche Del Terror Ciego (aka Tombs of the Blind Dead). As great as always, but better looking than before. The story of a woman who makes the strange decision to jump of a train in the middle of nowhere and spend the night in an abandoned monastery, which of course, is the lair of some long dead Templars, who it turns out are my favorite zombies: skeletons with beards and rotting cloaks who ride horses in slow motion (though I’m not exactly sure where the horses are when the Knights are at rest) slashing interlopers with swords. It’s great fun to watch!

Head Trauma. A poor man’s (a very poor man) Jacob’s Ladder. This has a very similar feel to his earlier Last Broadcast (the pre-blair witch, blair witch) his film making style hasn’t changed much in the last 10 years. and it has the same no budget feel and sort of “what is going on?” sense, but it also contains some pretty creepy scenes. The story of some slacky guy who shows up in town after being gone for a long time to claim his late grandmother abandoned and condemned house. Trouble is: the basement is flooded and there might be something in there. That same something may be moving about the house at night wearing a hooded parka and leaving water puddles and some creepy and tragic story may be unfolding in his dreams. It has a bunch of special features, and somewhat interesting is one about the house that they used because it was an old abandoned house and they show footage of what is what like when they first got there…

The True Meaning of Pictures. Well, this was good. Shelby Lee Adams is a really good photographer and he has a good familiarity with his subject matter, which is also interesting. He takes some engrossing and beautifully shot photos of some folks in Appalachia. Seemingly he has been photographing these families (and others) since the 1970’s, but this time there is a documentary crew there with him. The down part of it is hearing the critics whine on and on about how uncomfortable the pictures make them and how he is mistreating these people by displaying these photographs… because either the viewing public is not sophisticated enough to understand the unspoken stores behind the pictures, or because the subjects are not sophisticated enough to understand how he’s making them look bad. Of course it’s all a bunch of hogwash. He’s making great documentation/art, the people really appreciate and enjoy the pictures and there’s no reason to act like showing the way people live is insulting to them. In some ways, it inspires envy. They seem to be very good people, more honest and realistic than your average city dwellers. Perfectly at ease with themselves and fully involved with their families.



 

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