Sunday, July 31, 2005

PrimerRemirpPrimerRemirp Parabolically Speaking

Well I guess I should thank Yarnspinner for pointing me in the direction of this movie. Though I really couldn't follow it entirely, I guess that was sort of the point... i.e. the permutations of time travel are so mind boggling that they're probably beyond human understanding. Nevertheless, went ahead and copied to ReplayTV, so that I can replay, replay, replay, and perhaps one day it'll all sync in (intentional or unintentional pun?) and I'll be prepared to enter the box myself without jeopardy of coming out of it dazed and confused. Definitely worth your time (it's really only a short time, paradoxically speaking...). If nothing else it proves Ed Wood wrong... It is possible to create a sci-fi classic on a shoestring budget that's better than anything Hollywood has done in recent memory...

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Another Movie Web Log...

The prolific poster of is a friend of a friend who has chosen to bring his considerable intellect and writing talent to bear on some of the worst movies the video store has to offer. Readers of Always Dignity (both of them) will likely appreciate his taste for the tacky and the terrible.

Friday, July 22, 2005

More Spies But (Wisely) Why's

In my youth, my father was perhaps a spy... When I was in 1st grade he was studying Polish at the US Army Language school in Monterey, and then we spent a good part of the 60's in Germany. Apparently, he finished near the top of his class in Polish, but then later he always joked about his knowledge of Polish, but then from time to time he mentioned files marked "Top Top Secret" - who knows, perhaps he was a spy.... He had some story about somebody dying over there, but then he spent the last part of his military career as a Combat Engineer in Viet Nam... not something that was really spy-ie.

One of his favoitie movies was The Spy Who Came in from the Cold with then world's greatest actor Richard Burton He'd read the book, and he'd read the book The Looking Glass War. I don't remember him thinking the movie of the latter was the greatest. Nevertheless I remember him praising the book and actually remember recommending this book to a high school friend who asked me for a recommendation... I'm supposed the read a "novel" he said, and for some reason I remember telling him The Looking Glass War was a "novel" and something my father said was really good....

There have been 35 or 40 years that have elapsed between then and now, and the author of those 2 novels somehow evaded me, even though I have read many another "novel". A few months ago I was in Half Price Books and got Horseman, Pass By and The Honourable Schoolboy.,.. read in that order. I still have half a hundred pages to go in The Honourable Schoolboy, but am thinking now I gotta go back and read everything Le Carre has written... Go back to The Spy Who Came in from the Cold forward...

The Honourable Schoolboy (Jerry Westerby) is James Bond in the flesh, and yet you think he might be a man in the flesh as well. You'll travel the world from Tuscany to London to Hong Kong to Vientiane to Northern Thailand.... Battanbang... Phnom Pehn... More excitement than I'll ever find in a bottle of Mirror Pond.

JLC has one line near the beginning of this where he recommends to some journalist that he not write in simple sentences. Perhaps the complexity of his sentences somehow put me off when I'd looked at his other works. At least here they really weave an intricate tapestry.... I felt them very effective in evoking an immersion into another world... I was struck by resemblances to Conrad, both in language and in subject... His descriptions of an urban Phnom Penh more effective than the rural Cambodian village in Apocalypse Now...

As I said, still have 50 pages to go.... Hey, perhaps he'll punt. Nevertheless, think he'll throw on 4th down....

Monday, July 18, 2005

War of the Stupid Worlds

Steven Spielberg may not make great movies these movies these days, but he can usually be depended on for very sophisticated and thrilling visual style. So when I heard he was making a version of War of the Worlds, I couldn't wait to see it, even if it starred Tom Cruise. I wasn't expecting a fabulous movie, just something cool to watch. Alas, even these limited expectations were disappointed. Despite all the running around, buildings toppling, and crowds of people vanishing into poofs of gray ash, War of the Worlds felt flat.

Any geeky thrill from watching the towering Martian walkers (their planet of origin is never specified in the movie, but hey, we all know Mars has had it in for us for a long time) destroying large parts of the suburban US was undercut by insulting lapses in plot and action details, deeply offending said geek. For instance: A good deal of the early action centers around the fact that Electro- magnetic pulses have disabled all electric devices, from TVs to cars. But not, apparently, the hand-held camcorder carried by one of the many doomed gawkers in New Jersey. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. In addition to such inattention to detail as this, characters major and minor exhibit the stupid behavior one expects from B-movie horror flicks. OMIGOD!--Aliens are destroying our major cities! Quick, everyone, let's get to *BOSTON*!. A better defense technique than might have been to have everyone carry around full-length mirrors, since the super-high-tech invaders seem never to encountered a reflective surface before.

There have been some attempts to read contemporary political messages into the movie. Right-wing bloggers, in particular, have been angry that the hero, red-blooded NASCAR dad Tom Cruise, just runs and hides from the invaders rather than fighting it out against impossible odds, maybe while shouting 'Wolverines!' Eh, whatever. One of the things I liked about the movie was its relative faithfulness to the H. G. Wells novel, wherein man and his seemingly omnipotent Earth technology is rapidly and inexplicably brought low, then just as inexplicably rescued.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Beyond - a - me

I think ultimately my thumbs up or down on a movie hinges on my ability to stick it out. Witness Steve Zissou and the terms of endearment remake, or conversely, Batman Begins, which had me not wanting to leave at all, even after the curtain fell... So, last week I rented Beyond the Sea. I went into this movie wanting it to be entertaining. I have vague memories of Bobby Darin from my youth, and I wanted it to be some nostalgic transportation back to the illogically simpler era. It's always a mistake to have expectations when entering a theatre. They're most likely to be stomped on by a herd of stampeding ignorant mouses. (Oh, yeah, there are a few exceptions...).

In any event, this movie is just a little weird. I see it being a big success on Broadway in a year or too, but... Everybody said Kevin Spacey was too old for the part, and you know what? they were right. There's no way I could get my nostalgic transportation watching a fifty year old man pretending he was 20. It was like I was looking at my own 50 year old reflection in the mirror. Made me feel like even wanting that transport was ridiculous.

But beyond the d (as in disappointment) (and Kevin being too old for the part anyway) this movie was flawed because it appeared to only have some bare bone facts about Bobby Darin to build a story on. Every time it got into some detail point where you might've learned something about him, it breaks out into a song and dance routine... Or at least this was what happened when he courted Sandra Dee, and when he reminisced about his youth. The scene with Sandra Dee might've been okay, if it had taken place in a restaurant, and he just sang a song to her or something, but as it was he was singing the same song up and down the streets of Rome. Now, in all due respect, Spacey is not only doing a homage to Bobby Darin, but also, sort of, a homage to those dopey musicals you got back in the 50's and 60's; i.e. that's what they would do; somewhere, somehow, an orchestra and a troupe of backup dancers would appear out of nowhere and they'd break into song,... Yikes another reason to not want to go back... Anyway, Spacey would've been better off just sticking to the Darin story, and stayed away from the...

Anyway, I turned it off after 55 minutes or so... Thought I might finish watching it in the morning, but then thought better of that idea..

Friday, July 08, 2005

Doppleganger am Island/Babi in Iceland/101 Reykjavik

I love the idea of living in a country where you drift in and out of languages. It was something about the eyes, maybe the glasses, but no it was that shifty look, of soft half blue, half gray, half green eyes,,,,uh, or maybe it was that slight build, though taller by maybe a third of a foot. That slacker, maybe ambivalent, attitude, that sexhound on the sniff... though admittedly Babi is more industrious...

Perhaps, if you know someone, ambivalent maybe, and you're willing to sit through a movie where the english isn't subtitled, but maybe should be... Well I've seen only 2 or 3 icelandic movies, and I must say they've all been good... It's always like I'd rather be there... or one of them. It's amazing how the winters don't look cold.

And if you don't like the haircut, you have to at least like a couch that turns into a bathtub, you have to like the girl, who isn't english, nor american, (though maybe frenchcanadian... and well, american...), who only has a common language which is english, and yet has a sisterhood and brotherhood here... Golly gee, I wanted to be writing parking tickets in that sunshine at the end of the show.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, but maybe it intrigues you, you might check out 101 Reykjavik.... (Please feel free to correct my german.)


I'm not sure what I can say that won't give away the movie. A bunch of engineers spend time after work on projects they hope to patent. Two of them invent something with far reaching possibilites. But intead of building on it's potential, the human condition stalls the devolopment of this great find leaving it to spin in the basest of human traits....greed.

Obviously a small budget film, but I love how the low end film equipment is embraced only adding to the texture and enviornment of the film. And while the editing is a bit stilted and confusing at times, I say it's a great first attempt by writer/director/actor Shane Carruth.

So I say this: rent it. And then we discuss.