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Showing posts from April, 2009

Have I mentioned I saw Monsters vs. Aliens?

It’s possible that Pixar is becoming a blight on the world of animation. Yes, they do some really great work (The Incredibles, Ratatouille), but they’ve also done some clunkers (Cars, Wall-E). Their greatest sin, though, is that they apparently radiate a variation of the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field, so that any other animated film – especially if done with CG – is automatically judged inferior.There is some justification to this, but you don’t see every live action film being compared to, say, the films of Ingmar Bergman (well, except by brooding people wearing dark glasses sitting in dim coffee shops smoking clove cigarettes discussing cinema, damn you). In the traditional film world, it’s accepted that different artists turn out different products. In the animated world, everyone is supposed to match or surpass Pixar, or so it seems.Needless to say, that’s just a crock.Monsters vs Aliens is to your typical Pixar production as Spielberg is to Scorsese. And I have to stress “t…

On Behalf of Bad Films…

Not too long ago, Toto asked for people to confess their guilty pleasures, which films they love to watch despite the fact that they are truly awful. This got me to thinking, and now I confess:I am a lover of bad cinema.I don’t mean the obvious disasters, like Plan 9 From Outer Space. No, I love the film gone wrong, that one that started with the best of intentions and went astray.That’s the only way to explain why I think a wreck like Wanted is good. And if that’s not sufficient proof, consider that I can’t get enough of Hitman. The plot (choke, how did I even write that word in this context?) is laughable, the acting significantly short of sublime, and the writing...oh dear oh my. Yet I can’t get enough. Watched it again just the other night. All the while, I’m thinking how no one seems to notice these bald killers with bar codes tattooed on the back of their heads, and how in the hell do they conceal all those weapons under those snazzy coats (dual pistols, silencers, reloads, swor…

Khan, the best Trek…ever

Star Trek: Wrath of Khan is the best Star Trek film by a country mile, and just about the best Star Trek of any sort (TV, film, animation, books, whatever). It’s one of the highest ranked geek films ever, and deserves a broad audience, including those who routinely shrug at either Star Trek or science fiction in general. It is why Star Trek will always be better than Star Wars.Director Nicholas Meyer had a simple attitude toward his project. He wasn’t interested in making a film about spaceships, but was intensely interested in making a film about the people inside the spaceship. From that simple notion came a landmark film that stands up against the best of both Trek and the best of science fiction.The story was setup in the TV episode “Space Seed,” wherein a Captain James Kirk (William Shatner) met and defeated Khan Noonian Singh (Ricardo Montalban), a brutal dictator from 21st Century Earth. Rather than condemn Khan and his followers to a 23rd Century prison, Kirk allows Khan to ch…

DVD: The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

Awful.The film is an environmentalist wacko wet dream. No one else could like this thing. I’m trying to think of something positive and all I can come up with is how positively awful it is.The original The Day the Earth Stood Still is a science fiction masterpiece. In it, Klaatu comes to Earth with a simple message: Do what you want among yourselves and on your planet. But if you attempt to export your violent way to the stars, Gort and his friends will hit you with so many lefts you’ll beg for a right. (Gort being the cosmic version of Chuck Norris, you see.)The ultimate warning was that we needed to change our violent ways if we expected to be accepted among the stars. In this remake, the aliens are environmental busy-bodies who have bought into the entire notion that we puny little humans are capable of destroying the planet. Therefore, we must be eliminated so that the planet, for God knows what reason, can try again.To count the ways in which this film makes no sense whatsoever w…

Films I want on DVD

In no particular order, these are a few films I’d buy in a heartbeat if they were on DVD.Five Came Back (1939) – Lucille Ball in a very serious film. I haven’t seen this in decades, but I still remember the chilling conclusion, an ending where silence invokes a sense of horror and dread. This film must have had some subliminal influence on me because it wasn’t until I was discussing it one night that I came to realize how close it comes, in several ways, to my one published book, right down to the number of survivors. I had pitched Derelict as sort of a haunted house in outer space, a variation on an Alien theme, but in retrospect it was also influenced by this film.Five Graves to Cairo (1943) – An early film by Billy Wilder, an excellent little World War II thriller. Franchot Tone is a British soldier, fighting Rommel’s Afrika Corps. The sole survivor of a disastrous engagement, he is saved from death by the owner of a small hotel in the middle of the Sahara. Before he can get too se…

Free at last, free at last?

DRM-free, that is. April 7 is the official date when “all” of the music offered through iTunes is supposed to be free of Digital Rights Management (DRM). As with so much with Apple, this is both accurate and incomplete.Certainly every song for sale from this date forth is DRM-free. What tech writers, reviewers, critics, and consumers are discovering, however, is that iTunes library has shrunk. There are tunes that are simply no longer available. So if you downloaded a DRM-protected file, there’s a possibility that you won’t be able to upgrade that tune to DRM-free; it’s simply not offered any more.And I’m wondering how Apple’s variable pricing is going to work. I’m also wondering how critics who complained about Microsoft’s tiered pricing scheme will react. Is it okay now that Apple is doing it? Amazon has had variable pricing from the get-go, but I’m sure someone somewhere complained about that, too.What’s interesting is that you can easily shop for cheap music at Amazon. The same ca…

DVD: Quantum of Solace

To call this film disappointing is to praise it with faint damnation. Is it horrible? No. But is it good? Well, no, not really, especially when compared to its immediate predecessor, Casino Royale.Casino was a first step in re-launching the Bond franchise and it was a great film. Daniel Craig seemed born to play Bond in a way not seen since Sean Connery’s heyday. It’s biggest fault was its attempts to top the Bourne films, transforming Bond from suave and sophisticated to blunt and crude. Even there, though, the film showed Bond’s first steps towards sophistication and thus seemed to make a promise: Just wait until the next one!Liars.Quantum picks up minutes after the end of Casino, making this the first Bond sequel rather than just another episode in the series. The biggest mystery left over from Casino is who was behind Le Chiffre. Who were those bastards blackmailing Vesper? Just what the heck is going on?And so Quantum starts off with Bond interrogating Mr. White, the guy he shot …