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topaz: (HTH)
The Brattle Theater in Cambridge is doing a Dennis Hopper retrospective, and Wednesday night is a double feature with Speed (one of my faves!) at 7pm and Waterworld at 9:15. Anyone with me?
topaz: (Default)
Roger Ebert takes on Avatar: The Last Airbender. [livejournal.com profile] browngirl and others will perhaps be pleased:
"The Last Airbender" is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented. The laws of chance suggest that something should have gone right. Not here. It puts a nail in the coffin of low-rent 3D, but it will need a lot more coffins than that.

More at rogerebert.com.
topaz: (cartoon)
[Error: unknown template qotd]"Nobody, and I mean nobody, can talk a junkie out of using. You can talk to 'em for years but sooner or later they're gonna get ahold of something. Maybe it's not dope. Maybe it's booze, maybe it's glue, maybe it's gasoline. Maybe it's a gunshot to the head. But something. Something to relieve the pressures of their everyday life, like.... having to tie their shoes."

--Bob (Matt Dillon) in Drugstore Cowboy
topaz: (dream avatar)
Rocks fall.
Everyone dies.
topaz: (Default)

SO awesome!

(Young Frankenstein tonight!)

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

topaz: (madblog)
Dear Hollywood folks:

I like you.  I really, really like you.  Lots of you are really my kind of people: funny, engaging, passionate about making great movies, earnest about progressive change (if a bit shallow in your politics, but lots of us are guilty of that mistake sometimes).  I confess: I am more susceptible to show biz gossip than I like to let on, and am liable to click through on the latest celebrity news quickly when no one's looking.  I care, guys.

So it is only with the deepest sincerity and concern that I ask you today to shut the fuck up about Roman Polanski already.

Seriously!  I don't know what you think you're doing, but it's not helping.  It's not helping anyone.  It's not helping him, it's not helping the situation and it's really not helping you.

Look, I know there are complexities at play here.  I know that the victim has, for most of the last 30 years, wanted to put the case behind her, and since January has wanted the case dismissed.  I know that Polanski was on the verge of locking in a plea bargain when the judge fucked him like.... well, like a 44-year-old director fucks a 13-year-old girl, I guess.  No one, as far as I can tell, believes that he poses a threat to anyone at this point.  I get it.

But please let us return to first principles: this is a man who pleaded guilty to raping a thirteen-year-old girl.  That is not usually classified as a victimless crime, Hollywood folks!  While the judge's apparent decision to reneg on accepting a plea bargain was a rotten thing to do, it does not reduce or lessen his guilt and it arguably does not justify fleeing justice for 30 years.

So if you want to lobby for his freedom by urging that the judge dismiss the charges, or sentence him to time already served: that is a fine argument!  Go for it.

But in the meantime, kindly do not:
And above all, whatever you do, DO NOT allow Woody Allen within a HUNDRED MILES of commenting on this case.  I mean, Jesus H. Christ on a camera dolly.

Or, as [livejournal.com profile] muckefuck put it so eloquently: I ❤ Luc Besson.

I love you, guys.  I really do.  Now stop fucking up.
topaz: (Default)
I lost a friend last year.

In 1986, my father and I went to the movies.  We went to see the new Scorcese movie that had just opened.  It was called The Color of Money.  It was a damp fall day and I'd just turned sixteen.  I remember watching the famous long tracking shot of Tom Cruise dancing around a pool table, pulling off one trick shot after another.  I remember "Werewolves of London."  I remember being faintly embarrassed at Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio's nudity.

And I remember Paul Newman.

Of course I knew who Newman was before I saw this. I'd already seen The Sting at least twice, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid once.  But it was at The Color of Money that I first really noticed Newman -- the first time I started to see what he brought to the party.  I love this movie above all others because it introduced me to Paul Newman.

Newman was not a virtuoso.  He didn't tend to show off his vast dramatic range.  In fact, a lot of his roles were cut from the same cloth: the small-time crook, the second-string kingpin, the washed-up hack.  The little guy, the loser, the joe.  No matter.  We didn't go watch him to see how he would stretch himself.  We went to see him because he had a way of demonstrating the basic humanity and fragility in everyone: the fundamental dignity of the everyman.  He had one of the most recognizable faces -- and voices! -- in the movies, and yet when you saw him on screen you rarely found yourself saying, "That's Paul Newman up there."  He made you want to forget it was him.

The day Paul Newman died, I broke the news to my father.  My father was stunned, grasped for words for a moment, and then said only, "He was like a friend."

Yeah.  That's what he was.  He was like a friend.

So, if you see me looking kinda down, be gentle, okay?  Because I lost a friend last year.

Up

Jul. 7th, 2009 01:34 pm
topaz: (cartoon)
Saw UP on Sunday.  It's very very good.  It didn't hit my buttons the way Toy Story and Finding Nemo did, but it's very good -- and it is without question the most audacious, brazen thing that Pixar has done yet.

The truth is that when the previews for UP came out I wasn't impressed.  I thought it looked terrible.  I thought they had lost their minds.  A story about a cantankerous old man who uses helium balloons to turn his house into a floating airship?  With a stowaway annoying Boy Scout?  And together they go have adventures in the South American jungle?  It looked like an incoherent mess -- like something we might have seen from Disney or Ralph Bakshi at their lowest, most desperate hours.

In order to make an idea this preposterous work, the only solution is to grab on to the story with both hands, and hold it high and proud, no apologies.  And that's what they did.  What we got is an animated fable about loss and rebirth, about dreams and living, about hope and disillusionment.  We got an animated film cheeky enough to quote movies from Fitzcarraldo to Wings to maybe even a little of Island of Lost Souls (to say nothing of C.M. Coolidge).  In the end I was kind of amazed that they pulled it together, but pull it together they did.

Do bring tissues.  You will need them sooner than you think.
topaz: (torchwood)
Watchmen: a damn fine piece of entertainment.  I have never gone fanboy over the graphic novel, so it was never likely that I would be offended by the filmmakers' failure to capture the ineffable whatever -- on its own terms it was just pretty cool.

Whenever someone tells you that something, especially a comic book, is supposedly "unfilmable"?  Yeah, me too.

Specifically... )

Anyway, I had buckets of fun but I wasn't taking the movie too seriously to begin with, and recommend that you don't either.  It's a great ride.
topaz: (Default)
OK, I hereby proclaim I am seeing Watchmen at Boston Common, 6:30pm Saturday.  Comment if you're in or use some other method to let me know.  I'll order tickets some time tomorrow morning, so be prepared to reimburse me if you say you're coming and then fail :-)
topaz: (human dalek)
I am sadly not going to get to see Watchmen on opening day, but I have Saturday night free and am planning to go then.  Anyone interested in joining me?  Anywhere in the Boston-Camberville-Metrowest axis is fine with me.

ETA: Several people in Cambridge/Somerville seem to be interested -- what do you all think of Boston Common at 6:30 and maybe a late dinner afterward?
topaz: (Quinn - at hospital with dad)
A while ago I wrote about Morgan's preference for Five Easy Pieces over The Bad News Bears.

A few weeks ago, flipping through movies on my Netflix queue in search of something the kids would enjoy, I tried to interest them in Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines -- a movie I have not seen but one I was sure would interest them, especially Quinn.  No luck.  They could not be persuaded that it would be worth even a try.

What did they choose instead?  Morgan looked through the entries on my queue and, after some deliberation, settled on The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser.  I swear to God.  They liked it, too.  (Quinn had some trouble with the subtitles, but Morgan helped him out with those.)

These kids have always expressed a distaste for black-and-white and silent films, which breaks my heart.  We have tried getting over that hump with some Laurel and Hardy and the like, but so far to no avail.  I think I may have cracked that code last weekend, though, when Morgan reluctantly agreed to let me put on The Thief of Bagdad (the 1924 version).  Within minutes he was laughing and bouncing at Douglas Fairbanks shimmying up a magic rope, and it kept both boys completely occupied through two and a half hours.

I can't really overstate how thrilled I am with this.
topaz: (Default)
Tonight:

5:30pm is "Courteous Mass" in Copley Square.  I'm guardedly optimistic about the weather and am planning to be there to see how it goes.

10:00pm is Hooked On Who at the Brattle.  I RSVPed for an additional person -- anyone interested in going with me?

In between is a whole lot of empty time.  Anyone want to do dinner?  Drinks?  Serenade Tom Champion's house?  Come on, entertain me!
topaz: (Default)
I failed utterly in my attempt at seeing The Dark Knight last night, and am going to try again tonight.  On the off chance that you see this and are interested in tagging along, let me know -- comment here or text to my cell phone.
topaz: (frowny)
my morning, let me show u it )

Anyway, now I'm cranky and incredibly behind schedule and full of grumpage today for buses and bike shops.  I am taking myself out to dinner this evening and to see The Dark Knight.  Anyone else up for it?  I'm thinking the 8pm show at Boston Common but my schedule is flexible.  Assuming I don't get any more goddamn flat tires.

two movies

Jul. 14th, 2008 01:52 pm
topaz: (Default)
This weekend I noticed that The Omega Man was available for instant watching on Netflix, so I turned it on.  For those of you who aren't familiar with it, it's the first film adaptation of Richard Matheson's vampire novel I Am Legend, before the Will Smith version that was released last year.

Good lord, what a dreadful movie.  It's an early-1970s science fiction flick, so I expected it to be low budget and cheesy, and let me tell you, it surpassed my expectations in every way.  It stars Charlton Heston, which is without a doubt their first mistake.  He spends much of the movie acting like his chief weapons against the monsters are his dry wit and his arched eyebrows.  (Of course, it is Charlton Heston, so he gets plenty of screen time slinging around semiautomatic weapons too.)

The monsters don't fare much better.  In Matheson's novel (which is really very good), the villains are vampires.  Some sort of mysterious virus is responsible, but they're real, honest-to-goodness, classically gothic vampires -- garlic, stake-through-the-heart, and everything.  The 2007 remake made them into kind of silly-looking CGI zombies, I guess because zombies are chic again.  But in the 1971 film they look and act more like anemic Moonies.  They roam around at night all pasty-faced, wearing long black robes and Oakley sunglasses (apparently because the virus has made them so night-sensitive), call each other "brother" and act like they're all in a religious cult.  I assume that the producers didn't think they could get away with having a virus turn people into actual vampires, but the solution they came up with is really no less hilariously campy.

Will Smith is far better in a role like this than Charlton Heston, and his movie is somewhat better, but really, the time put into either of these movies would be way better spent reading the book.

Then last night after dinner, my father and [livejournal.com profile] keyne and I sat down to watch Stranger Than Fiction.  It was a blessed antidote.  I saw this movie when it was released and enjoyed it a lot, but on repeated viewing I think I like it even more.  Say what you like about Will Ferrell (and lord knows the man has made some clunkers): he can hold his own against both Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson at the same time, which is no mean feat.  It's a lovely and touching movie and manages to be sentimental without pandering.  (Well, maybe just a little bit.)  And really anyone who writes should see this at least once.
topaz: (swirly)
I learned today from [profile] soylent_screen  that Entertainment Weekly announced their picks for the 100 best films of the last 25 years:

the list )


Which means, of course, that I have to bitch about their choices.

Actually I don't think it's all that bad a list. A list of the 100 best films of anything is kind of ridiculous in the first place, so once you get past that it's not bad. Of course I have objections, though. Titanic was cleverly made but was artistically irredeemable. Blue Velvet: very daring in 1986, but kind of passé today. And so on.

If this were my list, these are some of the changes I would make:

The Lion King ----> Beauty And The Beast or The Little Mermaid

Pretty Woman ----> Steel Magnolias: just as maudlin but about a thousand times better written, fills the Julia Roberts quotient, and keeps Richard Gere off the list. What more could you ask for?

Gladiator ----> To Die For. Preserves the Joaquin Phoenix balance. Also: a movie that actually had a script. Bonus!

sex, lies and videotape ----> Traffic. Steven Soderbergh is an excellent director, but s, l and v isn't it. (Runner-up: Ocean's 11, 2001 edition)

Dirty Dancing ----> Ghost. If we absolutely have to have Patrick Swayze on this list, then by god we're going to get Whoopi Goldberg too.

Jerry Maguire ----> Almost Famous but I'd put just about any other Cameron Crowe movie here first, even Vanilla Sky, I swear to God.

Unforgiven ----> Million Dollar Baby. Yes, Unforgiven got rave reviews. It just didn't move me. Suck it. Million Dollar Baby, on the other hand, is an indisputable tour de force.

The Departed ----> The Color of Money. I know I'm the only person in the world who didn't care for The Departed, but look. The list already got the movie Marty should have won for, and it doesn't have a single Paul Newman movie on it. And as far as I'm concerned no list of 100 movies is complete without at least one Paul Newman movie, and I don't care if it's the 100 best movies about construction workers or the 100 best West German apocalypse movies, if there isn't a Paul Newman movie on your list then there is something deeply wrong with your soul.
topaz: (Default)
My Netflix Roku box arrived yesterday.  Today at lunch I took it out of the box, and within about ten minutes I was watching Letters From Iwo Jima in streaming video over wi-fi.  I'm really impressed.  The setup was painless.  The image and sound quality is far better than what I expected.  My impression is that it's not quite up to DVD quality but is considerably better than VHS.  I haven't watched a movie all the way through yet (it's a workday!) but watched bits of Letters From Iwo Jima, Shampoo, and Evil Dead, and so far have not seen any video or audio dropouts.  I'm using my VPN in to work and not experiencing having any significant latency.  (The device is connected to the net over an 802.11g base station, which is on a 6Mbps cable modem connection, which surely must help a lot.)

The down sides appear to be: the Netflix "instant watching" catalogue is still very limited.  I have 420 movies in my queue, about 50 of which are available for streaming.  The choices are kind of spotty, too: Letters From Iwo Jima is available but not Flags Of Our Fathers, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre but not Sunset Boulevard.  The Roku box does allow fast forwarding and rewinding, but it's going to take a little getting used to the controls.  And it remembers where you stopped watching the last several movies, so when you return to it you can resume from where you left off.

All things considered I'm very pleased.  We're living in the future, baby.

Edit: I forgot to check for this at first.  None of the titles I've tried have closed captions.  That's very disappointing.  I'm still impressed but that's a significant omission.

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