Friday, April 27, 2012

I Got Nothing (Plus Bonus Round)

Folks, I got nothing for ya today. So sad. The old brain-thingy just couldn’t get it focused. So instead, let’s turn the floor over to you. Tell us about some of the movies you’ve seen lately, old or new. What’s been good? What’s been bad? What did you like? What didn’t you?


BONUS Round: By the way, we mentioned this in the comments the other day and I thought I'd mention it here. Think of it as a public service announcement. Amazon has a lot of free books on the Kindle. A whole bunch of these are classics, but even beyond that you can find a lot of free modern stuff as well. Here is a link to the Top 100 free and not-free. (Free Stuff -- Best Sellers). From there, you can move down into each genre to find the top 100 in each genre and this will often lead you to more.

But wait... I don't have a Kindle! you say?

No problem. There are two ways you can get around this. First, you can turn almost any device (PC, tablet, phone, etc.) into a Kindle by downloading an AP from Amazon here: Kindle Me Beatch. OR you can download anything to the Amazon cloud (for free) and read it there from your computer.

111 comments:

ScottDS said...

I actually just downloaded my first e-book (a Star Trek novella) and even though I don't own an e-reader, I found a website that would let me convert it to a .pdf file.

As for movies...

I just watched The Guard with Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle, written and directed by the brother of the guy who did In Bruges. It was far from the "Raucous comedy!" that the DVD artwork promised but it was a pleasant way to spend 100 minutes. It didn't have any laugh-out-loud bits that In Bruges had but it wasn't nearly as dark either - it's basically a feature-length police procedural-slash-character study set in a rural Irish town.

Mark Strong played a villain... something he seems to be doing a lot of lately! Cheadle is an FBI agent though they thankfully don't resort to too many fish-out-of-water jokes. Gleeson loves to rib him about the FBI's various misadventures (I laughed at the WACO reference) but, despite the poster artwork, an Irish Lethal Weapon this film is not.

As for other stuff...

30 Rock did a live episode last night... it was okay, though Jon Hamm's appearance was a highlight, as was their parody of a 1970s news broadcast with sexist anchors. I'm the first one to defend the show (don't get me started with BH's snide comments about it) but I'll also be the first one to admit it's flawed. A lot of the jokes are dependent on non sequiturs and pop culture references which doesn't make it that different from Family Guy in that regard. Plus some of the humor is a little too "inside."

Community did a Law & Order parody episode which was pretty good. This show constantly amazes me with the ease with which they go from parody to farce to sincere character moment, sometimes within the same minute! And the fact that this show is barely surviving while a piece of shit like The Big Bang Theory is popular doesn't say much for our society... but that's another topic for another day. :-)

On the bright side, Fringe was renewed for one last season!

T-Rav said...

I still don't like Kindles.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I didn't like the idea at first, but I fell in love pretty quickly. They're super convenient.

Seen any good films lately?

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Don't get me started on sitcoms. As a group they are so incredibly awful that I can't even get myself to tune into the good ones anymore.

I thought Fringe had been cancelled?

DUQ said...

I started watching an animated film the other day - Battle for Terra. From the description, it looked like it might be ok. About a minute in, I already saw all the usual political correctness. Then about five minutes in, we meet "the human." The humans are evil industrialists who have destroyed the Earth by exploiting its resources. They actually do a montage of factories and oil derricks. That's when I turned the lousy thing off.

Doc Whoa said...

I saw the movie "13" you mentioned the other day. It was odd. The concept was kind of brilliant and I like Statham a lot. But I felt the movie was let down by the cast all around. The main actor couldn't lose his English accent and I never really bought him as the character. Bo Jackson (of all people) was unbelievable stiff. Mickey Roark was good. But a lot of the rest just felt lost. It's hard to describe but the film felt cheap.

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

Fringe was "on the bubble" as they say. Fox did exactly what I was expecting them to do: they renewed it for a shortened season of 13 episodes. This way, they'll have just enough episodes to finish the story and sell the show to syndication.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I turned that one off as well right about that same point.


DOC, I had a similar reaction. It felt like an interesting concept that was only half well executed. I would fault the director (not the writer) and a couple of the actors (like Jackson).

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Ah. I see. I thought the whole thing had been cancelled.

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

ScriptShadow did a great piece the other day. Carson live-tweeted his reactions to the first 10 pages of several scripts that had been submitted to him. I always enjoy reading the log lines and some of these spec scripts sound pretty interesting.

The Last Rough Rider - It's 1901. Terrorists have just taken over the White House. And only Theodore Roosevelt can stop them.

I read the first 10 pages of this one and it was... okay. I love the idea but the writer seemed to be making TR appear too contemporary, having him curse and what not. (I understand, despite his larger than life manner, he could be rather prudish.)

Local .357 - Ex-CIA assassin unionizes an eclectic group of freelance hitmen to "negotiate" with their mob employers. Norma Rae meets RED

I didn't read this one but I LOVE the title!

The Lipschitz Affair - When an art heist interrupts a wedding at the Guggenheim, everyone's a suspect -- even the bride and groom.

This script wasn't available to read but I absolutely love this idea. If I could, I'd buy the rights to it right now.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I haven't made it over there in a couple weeks as things have just been too busy lately, but Carson usually has some really good stuff.

I do disagree with some of his premises (i.e. he's too into formula and much of what he says if taken to the level he suggests would make a film unwatchable) but he does have some excellent insights... just use them in moderation.

On the three you mention, 2 and 3 sound like good premises. No. 1 sounds like a comic book. The Guggenheim thing in particular could be ultra-cool if they did it right.

T-Rav said...

Heck no, Fringe wasn't cancelled! Cue relieved reaction from me. :-)

Have I seen any good films lately? Um....no. Only mediocre ones.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Apparently, I am mistaken. I was honestly under the impression I'd heard it had been cancelled some time ago.

Yeah, there's not a lot of good stuff out lately, that's for sure.

Doc Whoa said...

Since it was mentioned, what does everyone think of Red?

I liked it, but it felt weak to me somehow.

ScottDS said...

Doc -

I thought it was good, not great. It's a decent way to spend 100 minutes but like most movies, it's easily digested and forgotten about within a day or two. Willis and the gang are entertaining as always but it doesn't amount to much.

I did, however, love Brian Cox running and screaming, "I smell gaaas!!"

AndrewPrice said...

Doc and Scott, I enjoyed it, but it was forgettable, which is too bad because it had such a great premise.

I'm not sure why it was forgettable either, except that it just never quite felt like it had any energy -- everything was too easy, there was no pacing, and there was never any real tension.

Doc Whoa said...

Scott, That was how I felt about it too. I wanted to like it more than I did. Or maybe I mean, I wanted it to have a bigger impact than it did. It was nice, but left little impression.

Doc Whoa said...

Andrew, As so often, you've put your finger on it. The film never had any sense of urgency. They just walk from place to place and get things done with little or no trouble. There are no hurdles they can't overcome with the slightest effort. It made for a nice way to see these actors, but not a great film.

ScottDS said...

I know I've mentioned it before but if you want to see a great action movie from recent months, check out Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. Brad Bird - director of The Incredibles - helms his first live-action movie and he does a better job than most action directors working today. The stunts and set pieces are entertaining, Bird doesn't resort to shakey-cam (thank God), and production values are top-notch.

It's nice to see Tom Cruise's star back on the rise - I was never a hater, despite his odd behavior.

DUQ said...

Scott, I thought Mission Impossible was great. It was fast, fun, interesting and really entertaining. I also like Cruise and have never understood the anger directed at him.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, I do my best! :)

In any event, that's how I see it. The film never really challenged you or made you worry or wonder how it would turn out. It was more like a set piece to display actors we've all come to like. It would have been better if they ran into some rough spots.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott and DUQ, I like Tom Cruise, always have. And it's rare that he makes an unwatchable film. His outside stuff doesn't bother me either because it's all personal. He's not out there trying to support leftist candidates or take away my rights.

I haven't seen MIGP yet, but do want to watch it. Interestingly, I have yet to see Knight and Day despite DVRing it five times now. Each time I eventually delete it without watching it. I'm not sure why I can't bring myself to at least give it a peek?

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

Knight and Day is okay. They might as well have called it Mission: Impossible 3 1/2 considering Tom Cruise is playing another action hero and there are stunts and gadgets and what not.

[sigh] Again, it's easily digested and forgotten about. I don't even remember how the film ends. There are some exciting fisticuffs and a cool chase (despite some so-so CGI) but it's all sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Cameron Diaz is good but she's one actress that inspires both positive and negative feelings.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I just can't get myself to watch it. It seems to generic that I literally have been unable to convince myself to hit play. Sad.

Commander Max said...

I get tired of reading monitors, anybody remember those things made of paper?

Yes, I'm joking.

Ed said...

I got bored with Knight and Day and eventually turned it off. The problem was that it just didn't do anything I hadn't seen a million times before. They could have called it: Generic Tom Cruise Action Movie.

Ed said...

I did see an interesting film, though it ended poorly, but I can't think of the name of it. I'll have to get back to you with the name.

It had Dark Vader Jr (Haden Christiansen) as some jerk in Detroit when everyone disappears. He finds a couple other people and they end up being hunted by the darkness. Anyone see this?

AndrewPrice said...

Max, I do too, but the Kindle is different. It's lit differently so it doesn't look like a monitor. Plus, I'm loving the convenience, and there is so much cool stuff out there. I've been re-reading (or first time reading) many of the classics. Plus, it's fun to pick up some free sci-fi and see what they are writing.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, The film was called Vanishing on 7th Street and I saw it the other night. It does have a neat premise, but the execution is lacking -- especially once it becomes clear the director/writer has no idea what the monsters really are or why they would do this. At that point, it just becomes a hopeless chase movie.

It's also way over the top in terms of generic Biblical references, which I think are meant to give it depth. But they aren't used in a way to actual generate depth.

FYI, it's directed by Brad Anderson who apparently does Fringe and did a movie I liked a lot called Session 9.

Ed said...

That's the one. It started really neat, but it didn't keep up that way. For me, it fell apart once they told you that these things were everywhere and there really was no escape. At that point, things like his desire to head to another city became kind of stupid.

ScottDS said...

I see the trailer for Judd Apatow's This is 40 is online. As much as I like Paul Rudd (and Chris O'Dowd), I think I'm over Apatow. I didn't laugh at the trailer, though admittedly, this is more of a domestic comedy-drama than a straight laugh-fest.

Ya wanna know one movie I'm actually interested in seeing? Get the Gringo, which is Mel Gibson's new film, which I believe is going straight to VOD. Try as I might, I can't hate the guy. I've read a few positive reviews of the film so far.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, That was a huge mistake. Once they told us that this was happening everywhere, then the desire to escape Detroit becomes pretty pointless. They also lessened the neatness factor because it was no longer an unexplained event so much as just a simple "end of the world" event.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I don't hate Gibson either. He's got a lot of good will with me. And while he seems to have gone nutty, I also think a lot of the recent attacks on him have been politically motivated -- like Esterhaus (sp).

I'm interested in Get the Gringo because of the marketing concept. This might be the end of theaters if this works.

As for Apatow, I never was much of a fan and I was over him pretty much the moment he began. At this point, I just find him annoying.

Ed said...

Andrew, I don't know if this is off-topic or not, seeing as how this is an open thread, but do you think Supreme Court will uphold Arizona's law?

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, That's fine. This basically an open thread. :)

From what I've seen, the Supremes will indeed uphold Arizona's immigration law and it sounds like it could even be a 9-0 decision. I saw nothing but skepticism from the Court. So yeah, I would bet they will uphold it.

Commander Max said...

Here is Arizona the Mexican groups were/are all up in arms about it. With some of the news reports out there you would think SB1070 was the beginning of the end. I think they should have renamed SB1070 the anti illegal voter act.

I just heard a report about the Enterprise(shuttle) arriving in New York. I could barely understand Nimoy. I can't help but wonder how long he is going to be around. Shatner would have been a better spokesman.

I've had a friend say he thinks the name Enterprise is going to end with CV-65. They are most likely to turn the carrier into a museum. Which means no more USN ships named Enterprise.

tryanmax said...

Fair warning: here comes a long one!

A movie I’ve recently seen that I can’t get out of my head is Doubt. This is definitely one of those films that should not be judged by the promos. Yes, the plot revolves around a Catholic priest who is accused of abusing an altar boy, but it is not the anti-Catholic screed one might expect. In fact, I’d say this is the first trick the author, John Patrick Shanley, plays on his audience as he toys with various prejudices throughout. Is it a perfect film? No. But it is probably one of the finest films I’ve seen in a long time.

spoiler alert!

Let me step aside for a moment and discuss the performances. At first I thought Meryl Streep logged a better-than-usual performance, but on subsequent viewings, I realized all the usual ticks and grimaces that she passes off as “acting” are still there. I’m a big Phillip Seymour Hoffman fan, and he does not disappoint here, being very convincing as an affable and progressive Catholic priest. Amy Adams steals every scene she is in, and even in a habit she remains cute as a button. Viola Davis received a lot of praise for her bit role in this film. Frankly, I don’t see it, which isn’t to say she isn’t a good actress; she just doesn’t have much material in this film.

The question everyone invariably walks away from the film with is, “Did he do it or didn’t he?” referring to the central question of the film, whether Father Flynn (Hoffman) molested an altar boy. I personally think the script leans toward his innocence, but it is left purposefully unresolved. However, that’s not the point. The film was adapted by the author from his stage play, Doubt: a Parable. He should have kept the subtitle for the film because that clues us in that this story is about more than the action portrayed. It also tells us that the answers to the questions raised are not meant to be simple, let alone answered in a simple up or down fashion.

So what is this film about? The title gives it away, as do numerous conversations throughout: doubt. “What do you do when you’re not sure?” Father Flynn asks in his opening sermon which he goes on to conclude by declaring, “Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty.” But Sister Aloysius (Streep) is not prone to doubts, and takes Flynn’s sermon as a cause for suspicion. Thus, she directs Sister James (Adams) to keep an eye on Flynn and report anything unusual. It so happens that Father Flynn has taken Donald Miller (Joseph Foster), an altar boy and the school’s first black student, under his wing. When Flynn summons the boy for a private meeting, Sister James dutifully reports this and Sister Aloysius, certain of the implication, begins ruthlessly to pursue Flynn to force him to resign.

(to be continued)

tryanmax said...

(continued)

So where does doubt come in? Clearly leaving the primary plot point unresolved makes little room for certainty, but there is more. Of the three main characters, Flynn, Aloysius, and James, only the last moves from doubt to certainty in the course of the film. That leaves the other characters to necessarily drift in the other direction. In the case of Flynn, we see his confidence eroded piece by piece under weathering attack. Aloysius’ shift is much more abrupt, coming in the form of an emotional breakdown in the final scene. In the wake of the havoc, it becomes clear that Sister Aloysius’ undue certainty is mainly to blame. But even if innocent, how much blame can Father Flynn assume for raising doubts about himself? And what of Flynn’s assertion at the outset? Could a bond of doubt really have stemmed this awful tide?

Upon watching and rewatching this film, I am ever more impressed. In spite of Streep’s lackluster performance, Sister Aloysius has taken over in my mind as one of cinema’s arch villains. This is because she is utterly convinced of her (erroneous) righteousness. No evidence against and certainly no lack of evidence in favor will sway her from what she believes. Indeed, she takes these things as proof of her assumptions and the conspiracy layered around them. In this, she is utterly believable and utterly terrifying.

Where this film really stands apart is in the dialogue. Miscommunication drives many stories, and this is definitely no exception. But where many films make something ridiculous of this very real phenomenon, Doubt finds plausible reasons for characters to withhold from each other, to not listen, or to outright deny what they hear. It’s done so well, in fact, it causes to viewer to muse mid-viewing, “Do I ever do that?” coupled with the hasty follow-up, “I sure hope not.”

There is, however, one area where the film must be criticized. And that is in trying to stuff too many social issues into a single film. The first three issues tackled are central to the story, priest abuse, race, and hierarchy and gender within in the Catholic Church. These are fine. There is also a theme that runs through regarding cultural changes as the film is set in the early 1960s. This doesn’t really interfere too much, though it hardly contributes, either. It really isn’t until Donald’s mother (Davis) has her monologue that we are overwhelmed with domestic abuse, institutional racism, and homosexuality, all in a single blow. It stands out as a real shoehorning of additional topics and, on first viewing, had me crying “foul!”

On a final note, this is a film that I know I will find myself watching again and again. The pacing is excellent; 104 minutes breeze by. The church and school are real places, one can almost smell the wax and varnish, and despite the grave subject matter, one finds oneself desiring a return visit. And, of course, the story is marvelously layered with more details that can be caught in a single pass. Nothing aside from what has already been mentioned is superfluous, right down to the metaphor of Father Flynn’s fingernails. But I won’t say any more.

LawHawkRFD said...

Yesterday was Yul Brunner day on TCM. I discovered I had missed one of his films--Kings of the Sun, co-starring George Chakiris. I was better off missing it. But I must admit, as camp it was high comedy. Indians vs. Mayas (aren't Mayas Indians?), as a band of traveling Mayas land in hostile Indian lands near the mouth of the Mississippi. At the end, as he lies dying, Brynner makes a speech admitting he had been wrong all his life committing violence and human sacrifice. It was pompadour hair (Chakiris) vs. no hair (Brynner). Chakiris made a closing speech, which sounded a lot like Obama speeches about democracy and fairness combined with Rodney King asking "can't we all just get along?" Unintentionally hilarious.

AndrewPrice said...

Max, From all the screaming, you would think Arizona was about to start gunning people down for kicks. It's amazing how overblown the left will act when they think they can score political points.

Retire the name "Enterprise"? That's horrible! That's become the most classic ship name of all time! That is sad news.

Speaking of the shuttle Enterprise, I still recall seeing that in person out here in the 1980s. They flew it in and let people come look at it on the runway. The line stretched all the way across town.

Backthrow said...

Last couple of movies I've watched were MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL and a 1960s Italian anthology film, BOCCACCIO '70 (with segments directed by people like Fellini and Visconti).

MI:GP entertained me, and there are a lot of good things in it, but also has a number of things that disappointed and/or annoyed me; I hesitate to go into specifics, as they would be major spoilers for Andrew and others who haven't seen it yet.

Also, I must admit I'm not a fan of Tom Cruise... not because of his off-screen wackiness --of which I care nothing about-- but I find him, by and large, uninteresting as an actor --especially in action vehicles. To me, he *looks* like a movie star, but he lacks charisma and heft. As an example, in the fist MI movie (and I forget now if this was actually a scene in the movie, or a scene shot specifically for the trailer to it), the foe calls up on the telephone and makes his threat, taunting Ethan Hunt. Cruise answers, "That's NOT gonna happen.", and it's all framed and presented as a badass moment for him... except he comes across as a total lightweight, despite his best efforts. Might just as well be Wil Wheaton or James Van der Beek taking that call. I half-expect Bruce or Kurt or Mel to show up and say, "One side, junior, I'll field this one...", lol. Totally subjective and unfair of me, I know, but that's life. I thought Cruise was pretty good as the villain in COLLATERAL, though.

BOCCACCIO '70 (1962) was okay, though quite long (at roughly 3 1/2 hours). The most famous part of it is Fellini's, which plays like an odd, comic segment from THE TWILIGHT ZONE, in which a middle-aged busybody of a man protests the appearance of a large billboard in his neighborhood, of sexy Anita Ekberg selling milk, only to have the giant image of Ekberg come to life to taunt him. It's mildly amusing, nothing more.

The best all-around segment was the last one, directed by Vittorio De Sica, in which Sophia Loren, who works on a carnival midway, is the "prize" in a small, illegal lottery run in tandem with the national lottery going on. A motley assortment of lascivious geezers all buy tickets, but the winner turns out to be a chaste, mousey guy, much to their consternation, and to his trepidation. It's a pretty slight tale, with a predictable climax, but Loren is pretty good in it.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, We have been warned! LOL!

After you e-mailed me about this film, I have been on the lookout for it, but I haven't been able to find it yet.

I thought from the promos that it would probably be just your standard anti-Catholic stuff, but you've convinced me to check it out. Now I just need my cable providers to cooperate.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I saw Westworld the other day again, speaking of Yul. I haven't seen the one you mention though, but it sounds like I'm better off ignoring it.

ScottDS said...

I haven't seen Doubt but John Patrick Shanley has had an interesting career to say the least. He's an accomplished playwright. He won an Oscar for Moonstruck.

Then he wrote a movie called The January Man - I've never seen it, save for one NSFW scene in which Rod Steiger goes from 0 to 60 in one second. :-)

Then he wrote and directed Joe vs. the Volcano which I consider an underrated masterpiece.

And in the mid-90s, he adapted Congo for the big screen, which is my guiltiest of guilty pleasures. So the man who gave you "Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty"... gave me "Stop eating my sesame cake!" :-)

I'm sorry I don't have something meaningful to contribute with this but I'm interested in seeing how the careers of artists and filmmakers can often... meander and end up in unexpected places. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, I know what you mean about Cruise. I like him, but he has very clear limits on what he can do. For one thing, he doesn't come across as very smart and so when he's supposed to play a highly competent super-smart guy, it just doesn't work for me. He's better in roles like Joel in Risky Business or the kid in All The Right Moves where he can be stupid and make the part work.

LOL - at the idea of Bruce or Kurt or Mel taking the phone away from him!

tryanmax said...

I love Westworld. It's one of the few Michael Crichton films I enjoy, probably because it isn't based on a novel. Exactly none of his novels have been done justice on the screen.

tryanmax said...

Scott, interesting, I didn't know he adapted Congo. (Which, incidentally, I despise. But I won't judge you.) And then we're talking about Westworld, another Michael Crichton film. How do these things happen?

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I love Westworld as well. But my favorite Crichton film is Andromeda Strain. That one's great!

(Not a fan of Congo either, but I do like most of Sphere.)

ScottDS said...

Backthrow -

Cruise answers, "That's NOT gonna happen.", and it's all framed and presented as a badass moment for him...

This sounded familiar so I checked out the trailers on the DVD. (I'm home with nothing to do!) Maybe it was in one of the TV spots but I don't believe that moment is in the film. The big Tom Cruise trailer line was:

"You've never seen me very upset."

HOWEVER, what you describe can be found in the teaser for In the Line of Fire where Clint Eastwood delivers the line you mention. :-)

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

I saw Westworld for the first time a few years ago and enjoyed it. Wasn't there a sequel or something? The title Futureworld comes to mind. I also enjoy The Andromeda Strain. The A&E remake from a few years ago was... not good.

SPOILERS
I enjoy the first half of Sphere. Once Liev Schreiber's character dies, it's all downhill from there.

END SPOILERS

I don't believe you acknowledged The Guard from my first post, though if you haven't seen it, I'll understand if you have nothing to say about it. :-)

tryanmax said...

Sphere!? How!? That has to be the worst of all the Crichton film adaptations! I remember reading the book thinking it read like a screenplay, so I had very high hopes for the movie. Then they released some other story that was going by the same name. I remain perplexed.

Futureworld was the sequel to Westworld though nowhere near as good. It's basically a plot-lift a la The Hangover II. I don't think Crichton had much if anything to do with it.

Tennessee Jed said...

what have I watched recently: In addition to Ghost protocol which has already been discussed, I watched the new feature film version of Tinker, Tailor and wrote it up for Andrew so I won't discuss it here. The other film I watched was 1994's China Moon which stars Ed Harris and Maedeleine Stowe and co-stars a young Benicio Del Toro. Also featured is a young character actor named Pruitt Taylor Vince who has become known for his "crazy"eyes. It is a film noire in the vein of Body Heat. It has a great cast who did a terrific job and could have been exceptional until the resolved it poorly

Joel Farnham said...

I liked Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai. To me, Cruise was entirely believable as a burned out Calvary officer.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, The sequel was indeed Futureworld though it was really second rate by comparison. It's kind of the exact same story only this time the robots want to take over he world by replacing people. Meh.

Not only have I not seen The Guard, I haven't actually heard of it. So I can't comment. Sorry.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott and tryanmax, I love Sphere until about the point Scott mentions. That's when they seem to have run out of ideas about how this story is supposed to end and they just end up ramming together pointless scenes until they come upon an ending. I've always felt that someday I should do a re-write of that one.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, We will be running your review next week! :)

I have seen China Moon and had the same reaction: good movie until the ending. Unfortunately, people are better at setting up mysteries than they are at solving them.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, That was another good one. I generally like Cruise, but I like him best in roles where he's a little out of his league and over-matched. He does that well. I have a hard time accepting him as the "perfect killing machine" type hero.

Tam said...

So, I caved. Got over my stubborn and lazy tendencies and bought the Hunger Games trilogy and hijacked the kid's tablet and read them all in 3 days. Not bad. Not AT ALL what the twi-moms in my book group talked about. I wished I would have read them before the discussion, it would have been much more in depth than the burning question: Gale or Peeta? or what the ladies thought of the book to film interpretation. Ugh. These are smart ladies too.

I loved Act of Valor. Not because it was great acting, because it wasn't. The "actors" are all active duty SEALs and actors can't do what SEALs can.

I've been watching the series Prison Break on netflix, and I love it in spite of itself. It's getting a little too drawn out and convoluted and while I'm dying to find out what happens, I'll also be a little relieved for it to be over.

Tam said...

And, I can barely stand Tom Cruise. Even without the off screen craziness. He just bugs the hell out of me for some reason.

AndrewPrice said...

Tam, Cruise brings that out in a lot of people. I don't feel it, but I know people who just despise him.

I still have not seen Act of Valor, though I very much want to!

And I haven't read Hunger Games yet either. Glad you overcame your stubborn laziness though! :) Sounds like you should school these Twi-Moms on reality?!

P.S. I love your hat by the way. Way cool!

ScottDS said...

We got another 30 Rock story on BH. I can understand why this particular episode was given special attention. I, uh, vented... in the comments... I vented.

I'm sympathetic to the hypocrisy argument (the show is a media darling so they're immune from criticism) but Jesus, one left-wing entity is not responsible for every other left-wing entity out there, any more than my Democrat-voting parents are responsible for the behavior of every other Democrat. It's guilt by association and it's not helping anyone.

If BH wanted to make a difference (and I'd say this about any movie blog), they should give press to a show that deserves it, instead of bashing a show that has too much of it.

Tam said...

Thanks...the hat was a gift from my husband and kid. They have good taste!

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Sorry to hear you're frustrated. Have you considered alcohol? Just saying. ;)


Tam, You're welcome.

Commander Max said...

Sphere? I never saw the movie, because the book was such a let down. It had a huge build up, then, well I'm tired of writing this thing. Time to do something else.

For me Jurassic Park(the movie)was a huge let down. The book reminded me of Westworld, with the T-Rex as the gunslinger. That book read like a movie, the movie watched like, look at the dinosaurs(and there are some people here too).

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

Yes. Yes, I have. :-) I'm hoping to get dinner with a friend later and while I wanted breakfast for dinner, I might consider changing the venue to one that serves alcohol.

Truthfully, it's BS like this that makes otherwise open-minded people like me so disenfranchised about things, not just TV shows, but the whole system.

I'm dreading the replies I get but I can ignore them.

Backthrow said...

Scott,

Aha! Thanks for the detective work clearing that all up... I had a feeling when I typed up the scenario that I might've had things jumbled, but had totally forgotten it was Clint's line in the other film.

Still, Cruise's (true) reaction seemed like weak tea to me --maybe it's just a so-so line of dialogue-- whereas squintin' Clint leaves no doubt that Malkovitch isn't long for this world (though, admittedly, he has 3 decades' worth of undisputed badass roles to back up his words).

I like WESTWORLD quite a bit, probably even more today than I did when I used to see it on TV in the late 70s/early 80s. FUTUREWORLD, which I saw again a couple of years ago after not having seen it for a couple of decades, isn't terrible, but is sort of "meh". ANDROMEDA STRAIN ('71) is quite good, didn't bother with the TV remake, but my favorite Crichton movie by far is THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY (1979), which is a lot of fun, with a great cast.

ScottDS said...

I haven't seen The Great Train Robbery in years but from what I can recall, it is a lot of fun. I especially love Jerry Goldsmith's score for the film. He and Crichton collaborated on several films.

I have yet to read the final two Crichton novels. I'm sure I'll get to Pirate Latitudes one day but the one that was finished posthumously, Micro, has received mixed reviews and I'm not enthusiastic about the plot.

AndrewPrice said...

Max, I think I'm lucky in that regard that I didn't read the books first. So I liked Jurassic Park a good deal because I had nothing to compare it too. Could it have been better? Absolutely. But I wasn't let down because I had no real expectations.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I'm sick of the derangement syndromes on both sides. Unfortunately, it's easy and it draws in people who are likely to comment. So if the choices are:

1. Do the heavy-lifting to find and discuss issues, and hope that audiences stick with you, OR

2. Pick a high-profile target and just whine about it, and watch other whiners flock to you...

Many people will pick route 2. I won't. But many do. That's life. And I know it's bad for the system and bad for our side that people do it, but there's just no way to stop people from doing that.

T-Rav said...

Scott, I saw the A&E remake of Andromeda Strain a few years ago. I thought it was watchable, but not great. The original, I just got around to watching back in January, I think. It was better, although I think this is just not the strongest of Crichton's stuff.

Speaking of which--who here's seen Timeline? I loved the book and HATED the movie. Cheesy, an injustice to the source material, etc.

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

I know. And I know we've discussed it before.

Changing the subject, I'm trying to think of what else I've watched lately but we already discussed those movies: Red, The Losers, Horrible Bosses, etc.

Lethal Weapon 2 was on one of the Encore channels the other day. Talk about an awesome movie! It might even be better than the first one. Non-stop action, likable characters (including the introduction of Leo Getz), well-written (by Jeffrey Boam who I've talked about before), sadistic bad guys, and at least one memorable quote:

"Diplomatic immunity!"

tryanmax said...

Oh, speaking of Kindles, I love mine. I just wanted one to read all the free classics away from my desktop. (I'd been using the PC version for awhile.) I had no idea they could actually make an activity as easy as reading easier!. I kid you not.

Tam, I downloaded The Hunger Games trilogy after reading Joel's review. I haven't started yet, as I already have several open titles and I want to finish something starting another. Sounds like a breeze of a read, which sounds perfect!

T-Rav said...

P.S. Scott, I've read part of Micro, and...well, the kindest thing I can say is that you can tell it was written by two different authors. The early chapters are classic Crichton stuff, but the conclusion, which I gather the other guy wrote, are very maudlin and uninteresting. It's almost one of those books that begs you to write your own ending to it.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I saw Timeline and was underwhelmed. I am a big fan of the original Andromeda Strain though (don't care for the remake at all).


tryanmax, It does actually make reading easier. I've found that too and was really amazed. It's a great invention.

tryanmax said...

T-Rav, I saw Timeline but it was completely forgettable. Even now as I struggle to, I know I'm superimposing the book on it in my memory. On the whole, Crichton books receive terrible adaptations. I'm not saying his books are all 100% top-notch (I've read them all) but they are all better than the movies they become.

ScottDS said...

T-Rav -

I saw Timeline... I never read the book but I found the movie rather forgettable. One wonders what Spielberg or Cameron might've done with it. I understand there were problems, re-shoots, etc.

T-Rav said...

I just saw Lethal Weapon 2 with some friends a few weeks ago. I agree, it is a pretty good flick--although, I was about to throw something during the toilet scene. The point here is SPEED, PEOPLE!!!

But anyway, it's good. Much better than #4, which is the only other one I've seen.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Lethal Weapon 1/2 were really good. I didn't like 3 and never saw 4-99. Even in hindsight, with all the imitators that have come afterwards, they still stand out as great films.

fyi, One film I did finally get my hands on is Witches of Oz. I'm hoping to review that once I get a chance to see it.

T-Rav said...

Scott, in most respects, the movie follows the book fairly well, but the dialogue and the acting in general is its Achilles heel. Also, I think it must have been low-budget, because the battle and time-travel scenes are nothing like the book version. I guess the explanation for the science is a bit simpler than in the book, but--I don't know, it just wasn't very good.

EricP said...

Agreed on that This Is 40 trailer. Does Leslie Mann really need to be Apatow's version of the Mamet/Pidgeon dynamic? She used to be so much better than that.

Home sick yesterday and finally watched The Last Boy Scout, and may need to again after that trailer. Damn were the late 80s/early 90s a good time for mindlessly fun action movies!

T-Rav said...

Andrew, that was my reaction too.

tryanmax, the only exception I would make to your rule is The Lost World. I wouldn't say the movie version is superior, necessarily, but the book itself is no better. It diverges entirely from Jurassic Park, has a very sentimental ending, and generally left me with the impression that Crichton wrote it just to capitalize on his initial success.

Incidentally, there was a made-for-television version of another book with the title "The Lost World," but it was very different. This book was by Conan Doyle, and without having read that, the TV version was....very interesting.

EricP said...

Disclosure, great Crichton adaptation.

Tam said...

Tryanmax, the Hunger Games books are easy to read quickly, but as the discussion went the other day, they are not light reading. I breezed through them, but I'm still processing.

CrisD said...

Last movie that I saw on TCM was "Summertime" with Katherine Hepburn. Boy, she was a one-note
player. If I had to look at that "pained" expression on her face...let's just say, I am pretty sure her only good film was The Philadelphia Story (and thank the Lord for Grant).

Thanks for all the kindle stuff. I have a nook. Will it all still work from Amazon? I love my e-reader! No more bookshelves!

tryanmax said...

T-Rav, I will cop to that one exception, even if the movie and the book are utterly different. I seem to recall at the time that Crichton was resistant to writing the sequel but that Spielberg convinced him somehow. $$$???

Have you seen the old silent film based off of Conan Doyle's Lost World?

tryanmax said...

Eric, Disclosure and Rising Sun are probably the best adaptations, probably because the subject matter is more pedestrian.

AndrewPrice said...

Cris, Short answer: no.

Long answer: it can be done.

Nook and Kindle use different formats, so you would need to convert the file to a Nook format first. I haven't done that, but I know it is possible. There also may be some problems with copyright protection, but I'm not sure.

AndrewPrice said...

I'm amazed how much Crichton has written. I always knew a couple of the things he wrote, but never had any idea how many films he's responsible for -- and in how many different genres. He's like a one-man Hollywood.

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, I've been watching a lot of 1980s film lately and I'm amazed how good they were as a group. Even the bad/not memorable ones were still fairly enjoyable. I had no idea, at the time, that it was such a golden age for entertainment!

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Cris, I agree about Hepburn. She had great presence and was in a couple films I love, but she was one note the whole time.

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, no, I haven't seen the silent version. This was an A&E special from a few years back, with the journalist/aspiring writer character who may or may not have been played by James McAvoy (can't remember).

I actually would like to read more of Conan Doyle's non-Sherlock stuff, because he wrote a couple more novels like this and some current events pieces as well.

tryanmax said...

RE: Crichton, I've been a fan of his since I first started reading full-length novels. Ironically, the stuff I enjoy least is the medical stuff, which was his primary expertise. Even so, it's pretty enjoyable. It always bothered me that I quickly lost interest in E.R., until I learned that he only wrote the first three episodes and had no creative input after that. Looking back, those first episodes are still very good, but it falls off for me before season 1 is out.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I've been looking over the list of his films and it's funny, you're right that most of them have been really poorly adapted.

ScottDS said...

Anyone see Crichton's original films? He did a few in the 80s and they're kinda cheesy.

Runaway with Tom Selleck is a hoot. It's about killer robots and the bad guy is played by Gene Simmons who... well, there's a reason you don't see him acting much anymore. :-) But it's fun to watch and of its time. Jerry Goldsmith's all-synth score doesn't help when it comes to dating the movie.

Looker is about an ad agency that is building "perfect" virtual supermodels for commercials... and is killing the real models that they're based on. Good cast in this one: Albert Finney, James Coburn, Susan Dey. It's also pretty dated but still fun to watch. The best review of the film I saw noted how ridiculous the ad agency's scheme was: they want to quietly bump off these women... so they send a hit man to throw 'em out of a high-rise window?

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I've seen both but have absolutely no memory of them. :/

tryanmax said...

I've only heard about Runaway but Looker sounds incredibly familiar. Trouble is, any of Crichton's stuff I haven't seen or read first-hand, I've looked up as much as I can (specifically his out-of-print novels under the pseudonym "John Lange) so I sometimes think I've seen something I haven't. LoL!

Kit said...

I'm probably one of the few right-wingers who though STATE OF FEAR was not that good. The story (what there was of one) seemed to exist solely for the purpose of delivering the message (that Global Warming Hysteria is Idiotic*), whereas JURASSIC PARK's message flowed perfectly with the plot and the long sermons by Ian Malcolm actually moved the plot forward by pointing out just how doomed the park was to failure.

Read the first Hunger Games book and saw the movie. Both awesome. I knew the movie would be a great adaptation when I saw Katniss and Peeta in the chariots. "Girl on Fire" indeed. Some great acting from the adults and especially Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.
The District 11 scene was fist-pumping awesomeness.

"May the odds be ever in your favor".

Got some books to read this summer after school ends: Finish reading a DOCTOR WHO novel, SHARPE'S RIFLES, and BLACK ECHO. Haven't finished them because of school stuff.
Then get to GAME OF THRONES, TWO TOWERS, and LAST CALL. Read a few Stephen King books too, at least the SHINING and SALEM'S LOT. Also read Rick Atkinson's CRUSADE (about the Persian Gulf War) and IN THE COMPANY OF SOLDIERS. Finish WITH THE OLD BREED and read TO HELL AND BACK.



*I'm not saying I disagree with the message, just that the story was weak and the book was just a tad too preachy and managed to get a bit sanctimonious at times. I felt.

Kit said...

Also, I do not have KINDLE. May get it eventually but I am holding out for no other reason than to be a rebel. :)

Other things to read: Finish reading the 1st volume of CONAN THE CIMMERIAN and a Lovecraft collection.

ScottDS said...

I actually liked State of Fear and I consider myself a "global warming agnostic." :-) It's been years but I don't recall the speechifying bothering me that much.

Of the Crichton books that I've read, and I haven't read all of them, the only one I didn't like was Next, which is about genetic engineering. For lack of a better word, it just didn't "gel" for me. It was also the first novel where I tried listening to the audio book since I was doing a lot of commuting at the time... I quickly realized audio books aren't for me. Either I'm visualizing the story, or the actor who's reading it, and I shouldn't be doing either while I'm cruising up I-95 at 75 MPH!

Right now, I'm in the middle of Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris and I just finished the latest Star Trek novel from Christopher L. Bennett: Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations - Forgotten History.

Kit said...

The only audiobooks I've listened to are DOCTOR WHO and some of PETER PAN.

Mike K. said...

Just saw ET: The Extraterrestrial for the first time since its release and was surprised to see that the first twenty minutes or so were set up, shot, and scored exactly like a horror film.

And the puppet--or whatever it is--is a lot more realistic than a CGI character would be.

Kit said...

Did you watch the original or re-release?

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I haven't seen or read State of Fear. The Sharpe series is great though. I like those very much.

AndrewPrice said...

Mike, I haven't seen ET in so long that I can't remember how it was filmed. That's interesting though if they set it up like a horror movie. That would actually fit Spielberg's pattern from the era of not doing what is expected.

Mike K. said...

I don't know, Kit.

Mike K. said...

Andrew, it would be a difficult fake-out to perform now, with the media saturation surrounding every big budget picture.

AndrewPrice said...

Mike, Isn't that the truth. I can't tell you how many films I saw growing up where I knew almost nothing about them going in. "Oh, a Harrison Ford space film, ok, sounds good." Today, every aspect of every film is blasted at you constantly on film, on the web, and sometimes even in the news. I remember Fox News actually telling you how one of the Harry Potter books ended!

It's really kind of annoying actually.

Kit said...

Interestingly, DARK KNIGHT built up a lot of hype by holding back information.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I think the key to effective marketing is to give people just enough to know what they will be seeing, so they aren't upset (i.e. managing expectations) but not enough that they know where the story will go or any of the surprises it offers. Mystery is your friend!

Floyd R. Turbo said...

I just watched "Everything Must Go" on Netflix with Will Ferrell and a very fetching Rebecca Hall... I liked it. It's not an instant classic but Ferrell was dialed down (like Stranger Thank Fiction -- which I also liked).

Anyway... nice slice of life and a "truning it around" type of story....

Kit said...

"Kit, I think the key to effective marketing is to give people just enough to know what they will be seeing, so they aren't upset (i.e. managing expectations) but not enough that they know where the story will go or any of the surprises it offers. Mystery is your friend!"

CLOVERFIELD over-hyped its mystery while most movies use too little mystery.

" I remember Fox News actually telling you how one of the Harry Potter books ended!"

Which book did those bastards ruin? IS FIREFLY NOT ENOUGH MURDOCH?!?!?!

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