this old baretta tucked in me trousers and i’m happy

Ah yes, living the life. That’s what it is. I watched one of the funnest movies I’ve seen in a while. Another great entry in the generally great British Crime Film genre, Gangster No. 1. Malcolm McDowell is a satisfied (but not for long) and rich old gangster… Nameless, from what I could tell. He is out enjoying a some pugilisting with the boys when he hears a little something. A little something that he doesn’t like. See, the word is that Freddie Mays is getting out soon, after 30 years upstream. This shocking piece of news sends old Malcolm down memory lane. We flash back to 1968 when as a young, slightly psychotic, London thug, Malcolm is recruited by the big man around town, the always dapper Butcher of Mayfair, the copper killing underworld superstar, Freddie Mays (David Thewlis, yet again). He becomes a well-dressed gangster, efficient and ambitious. Maybe a little too ambitious, as he is in awe of Freddie and his cool ways and as time goes on his awe becomes envy, a very bitter and hostile envy. Such that he begins to style himself ready to take over. When tension mounts between Freddie and his irritating rival, Lennie Taylor, the clock starts ticking… When a lady brings love to the picture, the level of psychosis begins to rise.


living the life

living the life


the butcher of mayfair

the butcher of mayfair


Gorgoroth by Beste

the irritating rival


Malcolm is so obsessed with Freddie and distraught about Freddie’s success: his apartment, watch, suits and girlfriend, he begins planning to undermine all of that. The movie is basically about Malcolm glaring and his hostile train of thought. See, most of the dialogue we hear is actually Malcolm telling us his story. Through his soliloquy we watch him descend deeper and deeper into a murderous rage and envy, barely being able to hold back his violence until all the right parts come together. Most of the movie takes place in the late sixties and though they made a good casting choice with Paul Bettany as the young gangster, it is a little disconcerting to see someone else play a young Malcolm, as we all know darned well what he really looked like during this era, but Bettany did a good job and at times looked convincingly like Malcolm.


express yourself

all leads to some feelings being expressed



some working them out


Blood-Stained rug

a little violence


Dressed to Kill

but always dressed to kill.


Aside from that. It is quite entertaining. The story isn’t too deep but it is told with good colors, nice clothes, nice sets, good dialogue, interesting and fun characters and an interesting style with funny old visual effects that sort of remind me of hip movies from the time. Certainly a keeper.

tragedies await…

WordPress 2.3 is out, I fear that means that I may update and also take this opportunity (as I imagine will thousands of others) to, yet again, tinker or trash this blog layout. Not only is it sad because I always end up making a fun little mess for myself, but also because I never really find anything that I am totally satisfied with, so consider this fair warning!

Some other little piece of interest, I was listening to Am I Evil? (yes, Metallica and no, I don’t like them either, but I am fond of this particular tune), when the line “My mother was a witch” came on. It reminded me of something that I saw at work on Wednesday. Someone sold us a little old handbound book of four pamphlets. It didn’t look particularly exciting on the outside but inside were not just any pamphlets, mind you, but pamphlets of contemporary accounts of the Salem witchcraft trials and related writings.

What makes these interesting is that they are original pamphlets! Actually dating from the seventeenth century. They were in remarkably good condition considering that they’ve been floating around since before the United States, and they were quite nicely printed. Anyway, I thought it was a neat little surprise, a hand bound (probably bound 300+ years ago) volume of four Witchcraft tracts (including two by Cotton Mather) in the original 1690’s printings. Of course, it was a bit creepy too, thinking that this was maybe someones reference book at the time. Sadly, even though its subject matter falls under my umbrella, its rather excessive cost meant that the Rare Books folks got to keep it. But still, seeing the occasional item like this reminds me of one of the great joys of working around used books, you really never know what might some your way.

sweet stache, bro

So I finally watched Hollywoodland, a movie that I’d been wanting to see ever since it came out, as I love the clothes from that era. Honestly. Well, and these sort of whodunit movies… I thought it was pretty good. It was based on a real subject that I didn’t really know anything about, the confusions around the suicide of George Reeves. Admittedly, I wasn’t particularly interested in the subject, and the movie didn’t make me any more interested, but the movie itself was good.

The story of a private eye (Adrien Brody) who is hired by George Reeves’ mother to prove that his suicide was actually a murder. Of course, since the case has been closed he has to run a bit counter to the LAPD to do this and there are plenty of potential suspects each out for their own good, including Reeves’ fiance and his lover (Diane Lane as the wife of a studio head, played by Bob Hoskins).

The movie felt a lot like watching L.A. Confidential, though not as good and with no where near as great a cast or story, but it looked good and they did a nice job with the 1950’s thing. I like Adrien Brody fine, but I had a hard time buying his character. Ben Affleck did fine as George Reeves, though he seemed a bit like I would imagine Ben Affleck to really be, but it worked for me. Of course, Bob Hoskins was here playing his usual bad self, but sadly his rather focal character didn’t have enough screen time for me.

And we finally watched Safemen. This was a surprisingly fun little comedy. Paul Giametti (redeeming himself from last week’s Shoot ’em Up) plays Veal Chop, a Jewish mob underling in Baltimore who mistakenly pegs Sam Rockwell and Steve Zahn (a failing music duo) as the Safe Men, the greatest safe crackers of Baltimore. He traps them so that his boss, Big Fat Bernie (Michael Lerner brilliantly playing a very similar character to his role in Barton Fink) can force them to heist some safes for him. Of course, throw in the fact that they don’t know how to break safes and then a love triangle and, of course, the real Safemen and you have comedy hijinks! Adding good direction, some very funny dialogue and then just some odd but very good shots, and you have a pretty entertaining and good-hearted comedy. I don’t watch a lot of comedies, but I would recommend this one.

everybody’s writing…

Going through book catalogs the other day, I noticed that Chris Hedges has a new one coming out. Now normally, this would seem a good thing. As he is both from the town in Vermont where I plan to live, but also his books (none of which I have read) seem to espouse values that I support: opposition to the misdeeds of the Christian right, opposition to war. But his new book, I Don’t Believe in Atheists, I don’t know.

First off, I find the title a bit snotty (not that I should complain after supporting the title of Hitchens’ new book) but also, some of what I read in the catalog rubbed me the wrong way. Seemingly accusing Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, etc, of having some kind of evil agenda. At least that is how I remember thinking it. Of course, I haven’t read any of those either, but still, it seemed a bit misleading.

In curiosity I looked him up and stumbled upon his column for Truthdig. This entry was his opening statement for a debate with Sam Harris and it is quite thoughtful and well done, but it has some of what I would consider inaccuracies that I feel need addressing… He seems to imply that these authors are narrowly (and inaccurately) categorizing religion, but then he does the same. In defense of religion he states:

God is the name we give to our belief that life has meaning, one that transcends the world’s chaos, randomness and cruelty. To argue about whether God exists or does not exist is futile. The question is not whether God exists. The question is whether we concern ourselves with, or are utterly indifferent to, the sanctity and ultimate transcendence of human existence.

While that is a nice sentiment, it is plainly not true. While for some folks “God” may mean the notion of “what is” or some other nature-oriented thought, it is an undeniable fact that for a great deal of people “God” means something different. “God” is a force, a power with specific desires and opinions, and who communicates and enforces these. Atheists are not challenging the notion that people can worship “reality” as being great because it is our reality and labeling it “God”, no, I think most atheists are challenging the notion that there is a conscious force that has some connection to creating the worlds, the people and the events of our lives

He also states:

Faith allows us to trust, rather, in human compassion, even in a cruel and morally neutral universe. This is not faith in magic, not faith in church doctrine or church hierarchy, but faith in simple human kindness.

That isn’t “Faith” so much as it is humanism, which should not be construed as any kind of belief in a “God” concept. There is a big difference to saying that people are here and are inherently good and have great potential (what it sounds to me like he is saying) and calling that religion (which Websters defines as: “the service and worship of God or the supernatural”). Sadly, I have that faith, but that isn’t what a good deal of religious folks mean when they say faith. To them, faith actually means that some magical, unprovable and thoughtful thing is watching their decisions, is judging them and that it will have an effect on them after they die.

Anyway, he says some good things about people, and I believe in the goodness of people quite strongly, but I believe that the image of religion that he is using to challenge these atheists is not the same image of religion that most religious people hold and is also not the notion of religion that is being challenged by these books.

Faith is not in conflict with reason. Faith does not conflict with scientific truth, unless faith claims to express a scientific truth.

Well, I would have to disagree/agree, in regards to each. In my experience, Faith does claim to express a truth. A truth about how everything got here, about what for, and about what one should do. Faith isn’t a feeling that people are good, so much as a feeling that people are beholden to some great alien force, and one not nearly as exciting as the Great Cthulhu, but still with powers of creation and destruction. I think that notions of faith and God run completely contrary to science, to nature, to humanity and to my notions of goodness (being well-behaved in the absence of coercion). Saying, in this situation, that “God” is everything and calling out those authors for disbelieving everything is a cop-out, inaccurate and misleading.

soldiers of metal fight to the death!

…or so I thought until 1986 when Judas Priest dropped that lump of coal turkey, Turbo, and I ran screaming away from their Twinkie and multi-colored leather infested comedy sketch for Turbo Lover. Ok, so that was just the last straw, the Rock first started to fail me with the faltering of Hard rock, such as in 1983 when Leppard followed up their brilliant High ‘n Dry with that Pyromania album and then in 1984 when VH had the gall to follow up their comedy oldies album Diver Down with, ugh, 1984. But the Metal thing stayed intact. In fact, by 1984 I had just started getting into better and more extreme (for the time) metal such as Anthrax and Mercyful Fate, but I abandoned any future metal releases once “Turbo” came out… For a decade. If only Judas Priest would have released Rob’s later redemption, Fight’s classic LP War of Words, instead of “Turbo”… Many years of musical wanderings could have been improved. What brings this on? Well, I finally digitized Anthrax’s Fistful of Metal, one of my top ten metal albums of the 80’s…

Top Ten 1980’s Metal Albums (ok, maybe one could argue the “metal” mettle of Leppard and Motorhead, so I’ll just add them to the 10) :

Accept “Restless and Wild”
Anthrax “Fistful of Metal”
Def Leppard “High ‘n Dry”
Iron Maiden “The Number of the Beast”
Judas Priest “British Steel”
Judas Priest “Point of Entry”
Judas Priest “Defenders of the Faith”
Mercyful Fate “Don’t Break the Oath”
Motörhead “Ace of Spades”
Mötley Cruë “Shout at the Devil”
Raven “All for One”
Scorpions “Blackout”

Of the music left from that era which followed me into the 1980’s, Fistful of Metal was about the metallist of them all, and it continues to remind me of its greatness. But it did seem to be Anthrax’s first and only metal success (as far as I know) . And I have no idea how they descended from such great heights as “Deathrider” and “Death from Above” to the pitiful depths of “I’m the Man” (and surfer clothes) a mere three years later.

Plus it has one of the best cheesey album covers of its day…

Fistful of Metal

more like a mouthful of metal…

i’ve left gordon’s foot on the coach…

Starting off running, literally, I watched Severance, yet another in the wave of great new European Horror movies that started with 28 days Later… Here we open right away with a couple of young ladies running, panicked, through the woods, with a fellow running close behind them. Sadly, there certainly seem to be a lot of traps laid about these here hills! Once the girls fall into a pitfall and start to strip (no, not totally naked, calm down) to make a clothes rope to save themselves, you know it is going to be a fun ride.

A group of defense contractors are on a tour of Eastern Europe and they are headed for a “luxury lodge” for a weekend of team building exercises. Most of them seem bored by the notion, but the youthful chap of the bunch has called for some escorts to show up and has started eating his way through his bag of magic mushrooms, so he at least is expecting to see something fun. Sadly, after being abandoned by their “no English-speaking” bus driver they sidetrack to a short cut and they set off through the woods on foot, always a wise move in movieland. They come across a lodge, but it doesn’t seem very luxurious, and it has some other odd aspects to it. What are those strange, beast-like noises in the woods, why does the generator room contain lots of old files on the company that they work for and did Jill really see a masked man outside of her second story window? Postulating the situation, they go through an entertaining storytime session of “what if’s” where the lodge was either a WW1 era insane asylum or a sex lodge. The dynamics between these 7 folks is always a bit on edge: the “decide everything, know nothing” boss, the chipper yes man, the drug kid, the “hottie” and the “mousey” and the two other (and more with it) fellows it is a battle between should we stay or should we go. Though they aren’t quite sure if they are where they should be, they attempt to go about their business: dining on a pie that was found there (that no one can quite finish off), and a Paintball match (team building seems to be a funny business). But obviously, a point comes when the team building takes on a different level of seriousness.

Bear Trap

That’s why they’re called bear “traps”


keeping things cool



As this is what it is… there is someone out there, and they makes themselves known. The rest of the movie involves such fun things as flamethrowers, guns, bear traps, pitfalls, landmines, even a classic scene of some of that old time “girls with automatic weapons” stuff

Girls with guns

girl with gun

It is fairly low budget, not much in terms of sets of effects, and though it isn’t too scary or gory, there are some nice false scares and it is a lot of fun. At first I thought that Severance was a good renter but not a keeper, but as the end approached, it amped up a bit and I think is certainly a re-watchable keeper. And, not to give to much away, but I appreciate these movies that don’t fall into the tired old, “last girl standing” shtick. The movie breezes right by, seeming to take a half hour to burn through its 1.5 hour length and while it does follow some standard horror conventions, there are some unexpected surprises.

unexpected surprises

other unexpected surprises

holiness is right action

As a nice break from other watching this week, I watched what would be one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, Kingdom of Heaven. I’ve always liked Knight movies, and I’ve long had a passing interest in the Crusader Kingdoms so, since it came out, I had always wanted to see this film. The story of a young blacksmith in France who is having a hard time (involving the suicide of his wife and some harassment) when some knights pass through town. It seems that the leader of this bunch (Liam Neeson) is a baron from the crusader states who has come to Europe to mend issues with his son, this said blacksmith. The Crusaders are quite charismatic, being a grim lot and caring little for laws or life, but quite noble and pious, for professional soldiers. The blacksmith ends up being invited to come with them back to the holy land, which he has little interest in doing, but of course, he ends up following them along and soon takes over his father’s plot of dust in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Then unfolds: political intrigue, warring with Saladin, romance, backstabbing and all of that sort of stuff. This is all happens at a pivotal time, the years preceding the fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem towards the end of the 12th century. Most of the characters involved are actual figures from the time: Guy of Lusignan, Raynald of Châtillon, the Leper King Baldwin the IV. And it seems to stick pretty close to reality as far as historical events are involved, which makes it a more interesting film, though they make no attempt to depict the rather exciting Battle of Hattin, instead showing only the lead up and the aftermath. I thought this was an odd choice, as it seems it could have been an exciting, grand and pivotal scene… Against all of this, substantial (nay, excessive) liberties are taken with our lead character, the blacksmith, Balian of Ibelin (Orlando Bloom), I imagine to make him into a sympathetic hero for 20th century movie audiences. The rest of the story is well put together and intrigues with some history that is not much thought about anymore, though strangely relevant, since one could consider the Crusades against the Muslims in the Holy Land to be continuing to the present day.

And, it certainly looks good. Great costumes and sets and very nice cinematography and, of course as it is a Ridley Scott film, direction… Its three hour length goes by easily. I tried the extended version, as I heard it made for a much better film that then theatrical one. Basically it is very nice looking, with a nice feel to it and a nice flow to the story. Once Balian arrives in Jerusalem and begins to get settled, the movie bogs down a bit with feel good scenes and romance, but soon appear the giant armies of the Lord led by the silver-masked leper king and the more-giant armies of Saladin and great combat scenes and lots of nice blood spatters are in store. I mean, a whole lot of quite clear blood spatters, though as I had to watch it in VLC, it was nearly impossible to get a good cap of any particular scene. Yes, there is a bit of the good old Hollywood melodrama and impassioned speeches, but they are little enough and pass by quickly. Though the big climax does get a bit overly mushy and has badly suited music.

Ridley Scott is a fine director and it really shows here, Liam Neeson is always nice to see, with the air of seriousness that he adds to his roles. And though I began to get over my dislike for Orlando Bloom, since he actually does a fine job, My favorite was the trusty Crusader played by David Thewlis (Knox Harrington, the video artist, from Big Lebowski). He had a great and endearing character.

Army of God

coming of the cross

some blood

one here…

some more blood

and another…

And then, another long awaited disappointment. I watched Sayonara Jupiter. It was like a corny 1950’s sci-fi version of a cheap Japanese retelling of 2001 – A Space Odyssey. It was the lamest future I have ever seen in a movie, the acting is quite bad and it is terribly dumb. The story of a crew around Jupiter who are engaged in a project to ignite Jupiter so that it becomes a star. Since the population has spread out so far through the solar system, it seems a better energy source for them then lame old far away Sol. And though they never broach the practical problems with this idea, I imagine that it seems plot enough? No, well then throw in some pro-Jupiter terrorists intent on stopping the project, who are part of a “religion” of hippie beach bums on Earth (who look just like current day beach bums) who follow a man called Peter who plays sappy songs on his acoustic guitar while hanging out with a dolphin, and then, throw in a rogue black hole which must be stopped, as it is heading right towards the sun… Play the whole thing out with some of the worst acting you can ever see (and are they wearing their street clothes?), and have all this take place on sets that look like the backrooms of a warehouse and you’ve got it! The only interesting thing is that the dialog is in English, Japanese, French and German. Which is a bit odd.

not to sound harsh…

But, sadly, I sat through one of the worst films I have ever seen, maybe even worse than Bulletproof Monk! I don’ know, maybe I was just in a bad mood…

Anyway, so I watched Shoot ’em up. Why? Good gosh, why? Is it a remake of Children of Men? Well, no. It does though have Clive Owen encountering a pregnant lady being hotly pursued who he decides to protect. But it is quite possibly one of the worst movies I have ever had the misfortune of sitting through. Sure there is a lot of gun violence and some gore, both of which I am quite fond of. But that stuff is so thickly immersed in: a completely ridiculous script filed with ludicrous plot elements and amazingly terrible cliched lines, amateurly cliched scenes, and dumbly choreographed action. The endless wave of one liners aimed at ten year olds is so bad it makes you want to stutter and Clive’s seemingly psychic ability to piece together what is going on can be nothing but a cheap attempt to bring the “plot” to a conclusion that it never should be able to connect with. There are some scenes that could be entertaining, if they were well done or contained any element of suspense, and some that are so dumb they had no potential (including “Mr Smith” delivering a baby while shooting bad-guys, part of a seven minute opening spree that yields about a dozen dead bodies). And sadly, with how much gunfire is in this, the scenes are so trite that they may as well have been using capguns.

The story? Clive is sitting on a bench when a pregnant lady runs by being pursued by gun-toting badguys. He involves himself, kills everybody, delivers the baby, teams up with a lactating prostitute pal, and they spend the next hour running from the bad-guy (um… Paul Giamatti?) and killing probably about 100 of his hired guns. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do love “gun action movies”: everything from the Woo-Fat canon (even The Replacement Killers and Face/Off), The Returner, The Matrix… But those are all well choreographed, well made movies (okay, maybe some of them aren’t too high on the script area), but this wasn’t even so bad it’s good. It was just plain bad. The worst, dullest and most ridiculously plotted ho-hum gun action film I’ve seen, similar in its unwatchable dumbness to Bulletproof Monk. In short, I can’t recommend this to anyone. Maybe if you are a ten year old boy who dreams of taking a badly written comic book and turning it into an amateurish John Woo knock-off with no sense of style, you might find it exciting. But hopefully even then you would be discerning enough to realize that it fails terribly in all aspects of its execution. My god… and wit.


my, aren’t we clever…

We also watched one of my old favorites. Colors. Honestly, I don’t think that this has aged badly. Sure some of the Bloods have a terribly dated sense of fashion, but still. Now, when I used to watch this frequently, I had always wished that when I would have recorded it I would have hit pause whenever the dull police bonding scenes were on. But now, I think that they are alright. I just don’t like Sean Penn or Maria Conchito Alonso. But it’s actually a pretty fun movie. Sean Penn is a new policeman on LA’s gang squad and his rough macho methods conflict with his “old hand” partners more neighborly ways. And on top of that, he ends up being a symbol of police brutality to the locals. But they go out patrolling the turf and, of course, there is love, and police shootings and car chases and bloods and crips shooting each other and throwing up their signs. There is also a good cast, and I was surprised to realize that the main villain, a crip named “Rocket” is played by Don Cheadle and it also features Trinidad Silva and “the funny brother” Damon Wayans (as T-bone, the wacky guy).

Oh, and the music. The background/mood/action music by Herbie Hancock is a bit dull and dated, but the soundtrack has some choice moments: Ice -T’s “Colors” theme is a classic, and it also has bits by Kool-G-Rap and the 7A3, who were two of my fav’s back in the day.

get your words outta my mouth…

Where would we be without the news? CNN is such a great source of both laughs and horror (all too often, both are combined) that I can’t help but dig around there over lunchtime. There were two really outstanding stories today.

One, back comes our old comic book supervillain, Osama. Seems he made a home movie and sent it out, well, of course that’s happened before. What makes this one special is that Bush seems to have become some kind of psychic Osama translator. It says “bin Laden calls the Iraq war “unjust””. This statement Bush cleverly translates to “If al Qaeda bothers to mention Iraq, it is because they want to achieve their objectives in Iraq, which is to drive us out and to develop a safe haven. And the reason they want a safe haven is to launch attacks against America or any other ally.” Or maybe he meant it would be nice if Iraqis could hold wedding parties outside without being bombed? I think that, even if Osama meant the Safe Haven part, I would guess that his statement just means that they want the West the heck out of their region… As we would want them out of the USA if the Iraqi army showed up and took over.

And, of course, those nutty freedom-hating Saudi’s also spread such nutty propaganda as “The transcript also shows bin Laden blaming global warming on large corporations.”. Whoa! They must be crazier then we thought! Strangely, in the CNN article, Osama comes off sounding more intelligent, honest and caring then Bush. But I guess that’s just showing the effectiveness of the Al Qaeda propaganda machine.

The second was even more up my alley. Seems that the profits are slowing down on pet chip implantation, so some folks are now dreaming of implanting them in 40 million American people! The trouble is, in another CNN article, they point out that the darned things might cause tumors! Oh those tumors, soon they’ll supplant Apple Pie as the American Way, since you have to actually go out to get Apple Pie, but you can get the tumors just by chatting on your phone, surfing on the wifiway and having your vitals stored in a blop of silicone in your neck. Who needs to choose between Convenience or Death, when the technology exists to give you both?

And in a picture-perfect American success story, Tommy Thompson, who was the head of the Department that approved the chip for use in people, went on to join the board of the company that makes them. Go Tommy!

My old favorite Einstein quote just keeps flashing back to me, in oh so many contexts… “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”

oh, those green mountains…

I managed to watch a couple of movies this week that were a bit off of my beaten track. The highlight was that we watched Man with a Plan. A must watch for anyone interested in rural Vermont. A fake documentary about a real person. The story of a (real) old farmer from Tunbrudge VT who (the unreal part) runs against the incumbent congressman. It is a silly movie, really just a setup to watch the good oldmanness of Fred Tuttle, but it is oh so very wonderfully Vermont! Great scenery, great people and some really nice accents! Fred goes around and raises a few dozen dollars as he begins to encroach upon the incumbent in the polls, campaigning with his plan of “FRED” (Friendly Renewable Extraterrestrial Dinky) and help enlisted from his neighbors Kermit, Euclid and others. He travels around Vermont set on winning a seat in the house to get some of that money that Washington wastes on jet trips and vacations and use it to pay for his fathers hip operation and to help keep their family farm afloat…

Fred Tuttle

fred debating

VT Cows


We then watched Shawshank Redemption. Of course, this was a good movie, as I have always heard. And another great movie based on a story taken from Different Seasons. The story of a man sent to prison for murdering his wife and her lover. He doesn’t really fit in, being not a violent criminal, but instead a well educated bank vice-president. He uses his rather unusual (for a prison inmate, anyway) skills to carve himself a niche inside. But he is also a man of great character who fights against the prisoners and the prison establishment to do what’s right. It stars Morgan Freeman, Tim Robbins (one of my old fav’s), and a great cast of familiar faces, including Clancy Brown (from Buckaroo Banzai, Highlander and Starship Troopers!), James Whitmore and David Proval from The Sopranos (who is always seems to be around, but doesn’t utter a line until nearly the end of the film).

It’s a good, entertaining drama covering: friendship. corruption, right and wrong and the realities of prison life. Well, if you want real drama on the realities of prison life, check out American Me, but this was good for something more palatable to the regular movie going audience.

In other movie news, DVDSavant calls it “less than spectacular”, but that is oh such an understatement for this terrible news. In another case of “a film that should not be remade” meets “an actor who should never be cast in a serious role”, Keanu Reeves has been confirmed as taking on the role of Klaatu in a remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. Um, a remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still? What, why, why? Um, Keanu Reeves? Did the producers never watch his agonizing performance in Bram Stoker’s Dracula? Compounding sad tragedy upon tragedy…

And finally, also from DVDSavant, we learn that the DVD Journal is closing up shop. His final post is a good read, as it covers the history of dvd and home film viewing in general. I am one of those folks who accumulated VHS, mainly recorded off cable TV or by duplicating cruddy bootlegs VHS from places like Movie Madness. I also remember a time before cable and before VHS. I remember when I was ten and Star Wars left the theater, it seemed quite likely that I would never see it again. Oh, such a fool am I. Then came VHS, which was fine. But nothing compared to the effects of DVD. I was an early adopter of DVD, spending $600 (or was it $700?) on my Toshiba player in October of ’97 because, as he said, “the idea of feature-length movies on CD-sized discs was a holy grail of film collectors”. Oh, so unimaginably true.

Those early days were fun. Tower Records seemed to be the only place that sold DVDs and they had maybe 100-200 titles. And what an interesting blend it was: some Criterion, Troma jumped in both feet first and then the few big companies that put out DVDs, mainly released old classics. Due to these three factors, those early days were the best for DVD shopping (in terms of the ratio of good to bad), yielding me many DVD’s that I still treasure now, ten years later, Criterion’s (this is) Spinal Tap, autographed Toxic Avenger, the original DVD of Forbidden Planet (though I hear that the new release is much improved, so I’ll need to get it. I should have sold my old one when it was still worth $70, but I just didn’t have the heart) and the James Bond movies….

Now, as movies and music begin the big move to an “all data” format, I see my collecting urges fading away. Yes, I own a mp3 player and have a few thousand mp3’s, but to me, they will never compete with a solid item. A hard drive filled with MP3’s just isn’t as neat as a bunch of CD’s (or better, LP’s) and I don’t even find a burned DVD worth adding to my movie collection, maybe worth keeping around, but only unofficially…

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