Archive for the Category Movies


Deserving a Special Oscar

Mandy Patankin.

Just give it to him for this scene in “The Princess Bride”:

It’s 25 years too late, but he still deserves it. This scene is a masterpiece in line delivery. Just the one line.

What I Thought About “Les Miserables”

  • I felt sorry for the focus puller. It looks like three quarters of the movie was shot at f/1.8. The focus puller had a LOT of work to do to keep up with moving actors in a scene.

  • “Gladiator 2″ will not be a musical. I believe the Actor’s Union has even written a new rule to keep Russell Crowe from ever singing in a movie again.

  • France was a rotten place to live in the 19th century.

  • I kept hearing stories about women crying in the theaters during Anne Hathaway’s big musical moment in the first half hour. I got more emotional with the Daddy/Daughter moments, because I’m a softie dad.

  • Was the CGI that obvious, or is the Blu-Ray high definition just too clear? Either way, all of the CGI backgrounds jumped out pretty obviously.

  • I knew one song in advance of the movie. I surprised my wife when I sang along with “Bring Him Home.” Though at least now I get what the song is about better. I knew it from Dennis De Young’s “10 on Broadway” album. That album is not available digitally on Amazon, but is on iTunes. You can buy the CD off Amazon, too.

  • Hugh Jackman got robbed at the Oscars.

  • Obvious and Obligatory Geek Moment: Wasn’t it great to see a team-up between Catwoman and Wolverine, though?

  • I love how the proper French accent sounds so — British.

  • Yes, the camera angles were a little weird. Dutch angles, close-ups, medium range at best. And then, when the camera pulls back, there’s an odd amount of negative space in the top half of the screen, with all of the important stuff packed into the lower third or so. Strange. It does feel a little cramped. I guess when you’re filming with an f/1.8 lens, everything wants to have shallow depth of field.

  • No, really, there were shots where the actor’s nose and eyes were in focus, but their ears were staring to blur already. That’s a shallow depth of field. What did they think they were doing? Being all Stanely Kubrick with a 50mm and lighting scenes by candle light a la “Barry Lyndon”?

  • The Blu-ray looks and sounds great. We used the 5.1 surround sound since we don’t have the other two speakers for the 7.1 setting, but everything was clear and crisp, nonetheless.

Cinderella: The Awful Truth

In watching the new “Cinderella” Blu-ray with my daughter, the awful truth dawned on me:

Cinderella’s stepmother is a murderer. Cinderella’s father didn’t die of natural causes. It’s never stated explicitly in the movie how he died. And since the movie is done from Cinderella’s point of view, it’s nothing the audience needs to know if she doesn’t know it or is explicitly told it. The Wicked Stepmother got away with the perfect crime: She killed her husband to get his money. Imagine if they have life insurance policies back then; maybe then her runway would have been long enough that she wouldn’t have pressed Cinderella into service cleaning her own house before the Ball arrived and Cinderella met the man of her dreams.

Obviously, the murder was done with two goals in mind: Don’t dirty your own hands, and don’t get caught. To that end, this nasty man-eater likely paid off someone to do the dirty deed. She’s still getting of murder by this, but she didn’t have to poison the father’s food. She couldn’t stab him or shoot him, because that would raise suspicions. A quiet poisoning leading to a heart attack would do the trick. Science and medicine weren’t significantly advanced back them for a medical examiner to have doubts as to the husband’s death. But who would do it? Obvious money would be on someone in the kitchen. They have access to the food and to the husband. And, given a big enough payment (with the husband’s own money, naturally), they have motive: Filthy lucre.

The problem is, the stepmother likes money, so she can’t afford to give it away. Plus, there’s a loose end. The kitchen help could talk. If any suspicion were ever to be raised, they might be interviewed first and squeal before she’d have the chance to silence them, or convince them to stay silent. Instead, I believe the stepmother paid off someone in the cleaning staff to do the deed.

cinderella's wicked stepmother

Then, she poisoned that staff member, took the money back, and had Cinderella take over the job of the entire staff, crying about lack of money all the while as a cover story. Since the second dead person in the household is the downstairs help, nobody cares enough to be suspicious and life goes on.

It’s the perfect crime. The stepmother is a real schemer.

I suspect this will be the plot of “Wicked II”, coming to Broadway this fall. Someone check Kristen Chenoweth’s availability to play Cinderella. Maybe we can get Glenn Close to play the stepmother? Gus and Jaq can be Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.

Mary Poppins

I saw part of “Marry Poppins” tonight while my daughter was watching it.

The highlight of it was the rooftop scene near the end of the movie, which presages a couple of other movie things:

  • Wire-Fu: Forget “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and thrill to the amount of wire work on the pseudo-rooftops of this number.
  • Parkour: Dick Van Dyke and his chimney sweeping friends are jumping, diving, and rolling over every obstacle in their way, a half century ahead of “Casino Royale.”

Watch for yourself:

And, yes, Van Dyke’s British accent is atrocious. Believe that when people say it. It’s absolutely true. Wow.

Movie Trailers Update

I haven’t popped over to the movie trailers section of my Apple TV in a long time. I’m always impressed how quickly the high res trailers load up and how great they look on the TV. But for now, a quick round-up of what I watched:

  • The Avengers: I wanted to watch this first. It’s the whole reason I turned this thing on. But it wasn’t available on the Apple TV. It’s listed on there, but when you click it, you get a message that it’s not available and to please try again later? I wonder what’s going on there? Apple has the trailer exclusively, last I heard. Is it web only?

  • The FP: You need to see this trailer. It’s just asking for the Rifftrax treatment. It’s made to be a “cult hit.” It looks like it’s a post-apocalyptic story of two gangs that fight it out on Dance Dance Revolution. Winner Take All. I kid you not. It’s a viral sensation now, and one of Apple’s Most Watched trailers. It’s either awful and cheesy, or amazing and wondrous and fantastically cheesy.

  • Brave: Not so much a trailer as it is two minutes of the actual movie. I liked it. I can see wherethey’re going for 3D with it, too. PIXAR usually does better staying away from humans, but the designs here are strong enough to be interesting. Reminded me of “Tangled” in some ways, though. We’ll see how this pans out.

  • John Carter: People who’ve seen it early say it’s ten times better than all the trailers, but that this latest trailer is the best. I’m still not sold, but then I haven’t seen a story yet. The trailers are all CGI fighting and people leaping around. There’s a potential for something cool here, but I’m not sold yet.

  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Fighter: While I give them points for the high concept and I did giggle my way through parts of this, I’m not completely sold yet. And, yes, the Washington Monument wasn’t around in Lincoln’s time. Whoops.

2011 New Year’s Resolution

Last year, I decided against doing any New Year’s Resolutions, since I failed most spectaularly on the ones I had set the year before.

This year, I’m feeling more adventurous, so I’ve set some photographic New Year’s Resolutions. Click on the link to visit the all-new for that post.

My first resolution for the new year: Keep running regularly. It might not be daily, but at least three times a week should be doable.

The second resolution: Get VariousAndSundry updated regularly again, even if it’s only once a week.

Three: Watch more Blu-ray movies. I’ve been very slow to buy them, mostly because I haven’t watched enough of the ones I DID buy. So let’s start correcting for that in 2011.

Short Thoughts

So much stuff going on these days, no time to pull my thoughts together into a blog post. Seriously, follow me on Twitter to get the latest and greatest, but here’s a few thoughts off the top of my head:

  • Oscars: Just finished watching “Up” the other night. Had to watch it in two parts, a week apart. That’s just how my life rolls. And you know what? It’s the only Oscar-nomination film from 2009 that I’ve seen. I used to be culturally hip, you know.

I’m torn on who will win. Not who I “want” to win, but who I “think” will win. There’s two schools of thoughts here: a war movie like “Hurt Locker” is bound to activate the Hollywood insurgents into voting. But “Avatar” is seen as the movie which can save movies. So there’s a solid business reason to give that movie, even with its trite premise and cliche-addled scripts (from what I’ve read about it), the award, anyway. Hollywood must keep pushing 3-D down our throats, so “Avatar” must win. It’s pocketbooks versus politics at the Oscars this year.

  • I don’t buy that 3D is going to be the next big thing. I just don’t see it happening, even if it did take over CES this year.

  • “Up” is a heart-breaking movie. It’ll break your heart three times before the twenty minute mark, and then twice more near the end. Yet, you’ll love it and root for all the right people. It’s the heaviest PIxar movie to date, though.

And it looks very very cool on Blu Ray.

  • “American Idol” has been a lot of fun this year so far, and Hollywood Week is starting next week. The thing that continues to astound me about “Idol” each year is how many singing single mothers they can find to put on stage… It’s sad, but “Idol” is turning into the Olympics: 3 minutes of show biz surrounded by ten minutes of documentaries explaining how wretched this contestant’s life has been.

  • The iPad looks cool. It’s not going to pass the Finance Committee’s desk without a veto, so I won’t likely be getting one. But I do think it’s the ultimate comic book reader. The exciting thing is how it’ll look in a year. When the second generation model comes out, perhaps even with a price drop, it’ll be interesting to see how many apps are out there, how much content you can put on it, etc. But I’m excited for it.

  • Adobe Flash sucks. Period. It’s the Comic Sans of web technologies and it can’t go away fast enough.

  • ALF is on Twitter. Must reading, daily.

  • Grammys: I listened to even less music than I watched movies in the theater. On the other hand, I’ve been out of music touch for a while now, so there’s nothing new there. I enjoy podcasts too much to stop to listen to much music.

New DVD Releases for 09 Sept 2008

Here we go again:

  • The Forbidden Kingdom

Didn’t Jet Li retire from the movies?  (He did.  Then he found enlightenment.) Why is he still in so many of them? And shouldn’t Jackie Chan retire from the movies now, before he becomes an even bigger joke than I’m afraid he’s already become?

The trailer for the movie looked pretty on the Apple TV, though.

  • Baby Mama

Sara Palin and Amy Poehler starred in this not-terribly-well received (critically) summer comedy.

  • The Big Lebowski: 10th Anniversary Edition

It has some kind of cult following, I understand.

  • Smallville: Season Seven

Still going. . . New season begins next week. This one comes with a comic at Best Buy.

  • Jon & Kate Plus Eight: Seasons One and Two

Kate can be a screaming shrew at times, but the show is entertaining.  And whenever I wonder if I can handle raising a child, I watch a show about a couple raising eight of them and realize how easy it is, by comparison.

  • The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries

This was a fun little show, with great animation via TMS in Japan.

New DVD Releases for 19 August 2008

I’m excited by the thought of more DVDs right now.  That probably has to do with the fact that I have my surround sound system plugged in and operational once again. Now that I’m not living in a one bedroom condo with thin walls, I can blast some volume, fill some space, and watch movies with the kind of environment you’re supposed to enjoy them in.

That all said, I’ll never have the time to watch them.  But the excitement is there, and I enjoyed plugging a few DVDs in to hear them again.  (“The Rock” has the greatest soundtrack ever.)

Onto this week’s releases:

  • Street Kings

Keanu Reeves plays an honest cop opposite the cop with political and power aspirations in Forrest Whitaker, who looks to be reprising his star turn from “The Shield.”  How he didn’t win an Emmy for that season is beyond me.  Wait, nevermind.  The Emmys are a joke.

  • The Scorpion King 2

Hot on the heels of the failure of the third “Mummy” movie comes this spin-off sequel.  Even The Rock knew better than to reprise his role for this movie. This might be direct-to-DVD.

  • Gossip Girl: The Complete First Season

It’s The CW’s last best hope for success.  That, and the 90210 series starting in the fall.

  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season

If you had asked me a year ago, I would have confidently told you what a short-lived dud this series would be. Instead, it seems to be something of a success for FOX.  Go figure. The Terminator franchise is fast turning into one of the most convoluted and deep continuities in major media.  Usually, you need a comic book to last 100 issues to start filling in gaps like this.  Instead, there’s a TV series, three movies, and another new movie or two upcoming.  (Christian Bale stars in one. Perhaps he’ll be out of jail long enough to promote it, when the time comes.)

Next Week: “The Shield”, Season Six! The greatest drama on TV returns to DVD before the final season begins in September.

New DVD Releases for 05 August 2008

After last week’s riches, what could live up to it?  The TV world is certainly giving it a shot. Check out today’s list of new releases over at  I’ve never seen a list that long, not even during the Christmas season.  There’s nothing there that’s going to get me to click over to Amazon, but perhaps your tastes will find something satisfying there.

In the world of movies, you have this:

  • Starship Troopers 3: Marauders

I almost don’t want to get into the argument again over whether the first move was any good or not.  But, gee whiz, they made a third?  It’s direct-to-DVD, isn’t it?

  • Nim’s Island

That’s it — I’m completely out of touch.  What is this thing? It’s a kid’s movie, I’m guessing. . .

WarGames at 25

WarGames at a theater near you. On July 24th, WarGames is coming back to the theaters in a very limited engagement.  But they’re also showing a preview of the sequel.  You take the good with the potentially very bad. ;-)

Indiana Jones and that Crystal Skull Thingy

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullsThe night before I saw “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” I perused the high def movie trailers section of my Apple TV.  I picked up three interesting new movie trailers there that I was excited to see.

Guess which trailers were shown before “Indy” the next night?  Yup, all the same ones.

It made for an interesting comparison, though.  The high def screen at home was bright and highly detailed.  The projected image in the theater was dark and almost muddy.  I can cut them some slack because I’m sure that reel’s been played an awful lot late, and blowing it up to full movie screen size is bound to cut down on some resolution. However, there’s no excuse for how dark things looked.   It’s a classic case of a theater not lighting up their movie as brightly as they could have, and should have.

The good news is, the theater was more than half empty, even being in the smallest theater upstairs back in the corner.  (After only two weeks, “Indiana Jones” had been pushed aside.  Sad.)  I didn’t have any crowd problems.  People were able to sit far enough apart to not block each other’s views, and the crowd was generally slightly older.  It wasn’t all teenagers on a Friday night.  That was nice.  There were a lot less phones going off that night.  Less texts going out.  Less giggles from the back row.

Then, there’s the movie.  I liked it a lot.  It isn’t without its faults.  Some of them are the sadly typical action movie faults in logic and physics.  But keeping in mind that this is a movie series inspired by those classic pulpy Saturday afternoon serials, you can forgive it the excesses.  Almost.

I think it was Andy Ihnatko who said that the movie looked like the writers threw all their ideas up on a white board and then forgot to edit any out before shooting the movie.  That’s my biggest problem with the movie. Some of the silliest parts come at points where the movie would have been better off just coming to a stop.

Spoilers after the break.

Den ganzen Beitrag lesen…

Shyamalan’s Hollywood Horror Story

Shyamalan’s Hollywood Horror Story –

In 2000, he was on a conference call with executives from Walt Disney Studios discussing “Unbreakable,? the follow-up to his phenomenally successful movie “The Sixth Sense.? He wanted to market “Unbreakable? as a comic-book movie — the tale of an unlikely superhero — but Disney executives insisted on portraying it as a spooky thriller, like “The Sixth Sense.? “I remember the moment that it happened, exactly where I was sitting at the table, the speakerphone,? he recalled in an interview from his office in a converted farmhouse near Philadelphia. “That moment may have been the biggest mistake that I have to undo over 10 years so the little old lady doesn’t go, ‘Oh, he’s the guy who makes the scary movies with a twist.’ ?

I take back every bad thing I might have written about Shyamalan this week now.

I’m not a smoker

I never have smoked.  I never will smoke.

But when I saw the end of the commercial on TV tonight for the “Incredible Hulk” movie, I nearly screamed.  Right there where the rating would be is the warning: “Depictions of Tobacco Consumption.”

You’re kidding me, right? We’re so fragile as a nation now that showing someone smoking a cigarette or a cigar is an automatic restricted rating of some sort?

I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry.

New DVD Releases for 22 April 2008

  • Cloverfield

This is really the only one I need to spotlight, isn’t it?  Looks really cool if you can stomach the hand-held camera throughout.

  • Charlie Wilson’s War

Tom Hanks went on Oprah’s show to promote this, so you know it’s a feel-good romantic comedy, right?!? ;-)

And that’s it. Sad, isn’t it?