Monday, August 29, 2011

Too Late the Hero (1970)**
Well played WWII Pacific actioner (particularly Ian Bannen) with a British patrol at war with each other at least as much with the Japanese. Lots of anti-heroes, a bit too talky, and a bit too in-your-face with the Vietnam allusions.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Robin Hood (2010)*
Preposterous 'prequel' to the legend we all know directed in lazy fashion by Ridley Scott. A waste of a good cast and tons of money. It's essentially a bad comic book movie.
Monkey Business (1931)***
Fine effort from the zany Marx Brothers with more laughs than yawns.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)****
Watched this again recently and was struck by how quickly it moved. Perhaps because I can now see and enjoy the immense detail in nearly every shot not having to worry what it is "about" or narrative points. And there definitely IS a narrative here. One of the finest films ever made. Still.
Red River (1948)**
A very good cast, John Wayne in an unconventional role, Montgomery Clift's debut (before he became a stiff 'method' actor) but the film is way too long and the ending completely destroys any credibility it built up over its 2 hours and 10 minutes running time.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)**
The 8th and final installment in the Potter series sees the creaking plot come to a fitful end. Lots of wizardly wand-play and pseudo-spiritual mumbo-jumbo and some nifty special effects. Not much time for character interaction or introspection.
State of Play (2009)***
Slick, well-made political thriller, a bit on the naive side, that amazingly builds to a particular, truthful conclusion about military private contractors, then in the last 10 minutes completely obfuscates that conclusion and offers something petty in its place. Very unsatisfying. Solid, professional performance by Russell Crowe.
Libeled Lady (1936)**
A first rate cast but a crazy convoluted plot, even for a "screwball" comedy, and a dearth of laughs make for a mostly pleasant but unsatisfying flick. It was thought hilarious at the time and was nominated for Best Picture so YMMV.
Go West (1940)***
Marx Brothers movies are always a mixed bag, but this bag contains more gems than rocks. Classic train chase sequence for the finale.
Panetta: Bigger defense cuts would be devastating - Yahoo! News:
"Panetta was asked about news reports that the Pentagon is considering reducing military retirement benefits, which, along with military health costs, have ballooned in recent years."

I used to have a bit of respect for Panetta since he seemed like one of the view principled members of Clinton's cabinet. Now I know he was just a great actor. This kind of statement is absurd. Either he is lying because he is afraid of the generals, or he is just plain stupid. I suspect a bit of both. The Pentagon is notorious for being profligate with money and doesn't even pretend any more to have an accounting system. And nobody seems to care. But to try to scare people needlessly and then to top it all off, to say "Well if we have to cut, it's gonna have to come from the personnel" is despicable. To all my military friends out there, NOBODY wants to reduce in any way the pay or compensation for military personnel both active and former. On the contrary, they need to have their benefits increased at the very least. But there are billions of dollars to be had in cutting the defense AND state departments. And despite Panetta's deplorable bleatings, the security and efficiency of both departments, and our national security, can be enhanced at a much cheaper cost.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pregnant Pacifica woman killed by family pit bull:
"Residents and visitors to the quiet block struggled to make sense of what had occurred. 'They are not barking dogs. They seemed friendly,' Carlson said of the two pit bulls owned by the Naporas. 'I have a pit also, and he's an absolute angel. It's just really sad.'"

It's like having a loaded revolver with the hammer cocked pointed right at you. It may never go off, but do you really need to be in that situation? And here's the thing: there is nothing, NOTHING that breed gives you that other much less volatile breeds don't. Except that sense of danger. Anyone who owns one of these things is an idiot. Yes that goes for this person too.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Invasion (2007)**
Well made thriller that doesn't have the guts to stick with the uncompromising source material and opts for the Hollywood ending. Proves Nicole Kidman can still carry a picture all by herself.
Bill Murray | The Talks:
"I feel that pressure in life. Actually I don’t feel like it’s a pressure, it’s sort of an obligation – not to entertain and be funny but to have a certain levity. I don’t mean in terms of just being jocular, I mean that there’s got to be a lightness in your way. There has to be a lightness; you have to be as light as you can be and not get weighed down and stuck in your emotion, stuck in your body, stuck in your head. You just want to always be trying to elevate somehow."

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

3:10 to Yuma (2007)*
Wildly implausible and illogical Western trying to be about fatherhood, manhood and honor. Silly.

Friday, August 05, 2011

The Book of Eli (2010)*
Exceptionally harsh film that revels in violence and bleak despair for nearly 2 hours and tries to absolve its own sins in the last 10 minutes. The look of the film (harsh light, lots of greys, browns, lots of characters in silhouettes for long periods) is hard to take. Amateurish direction.
Black Snake Moan (2006)***
Nifty little character study of an old bluesman trying to change his life. And if that involves chaining a half-naked Christina Ricci to a radiator for half the picture all the better!
The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938)**
Edward G. Robinson tries awfully hard, but he is badly miscast as a genius physician out to discover the physical causes of criminality. Ostensibly a black comedy, it's not very funny nor believable.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Legislation That Could Kill Internet Privacy for Good - Conor Friedersdorf - Politics - The Atlantic:
"Tracking the private daily behavior of everyone in order to help catch a small number of child criminals is itself the noxious practice of police states. Said an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation: 'The data retention mandate in this bill would treat every Internet user like a criminal and threaten the online privacy and free speech rights of every American.' Even more troubling is what the government would need to do in order to access this trove of private information: ask for it."