Sunday, January 29, 2012

Amadeus (1984)**
Cut about 45 minutes and you have yourself a fine film. As it stands, unless you love Mozart's operas, you have something less. Prague fills in nicely for Vienna in the external shots.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dick Tracy (1990)**
Stylish, colorful and technically impressive take on the comic cop ultimately cannot transcend its material.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The China Syndrome (1979)***
Extremely plausible and prophetic film about the dangers of unregulated corporations, played out in reality all too often, such as the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline disaster. James Bridges directs with style, wit and extreme restraint eschewing a music soundtrack to great effect. Fine, understated performances.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Anthony Hopkins: I've never been really close to anyone | Film | The Guardian:
"What's your idea of a good night?

Staying in and watching Mob Wives on TV. I don't have many friends; I'm very much a loner. As a child I was very isolated and I've never been really close to anyone. Ask nothing, expect nothing. That's my creed. We're all just a bunch of sinners crashing around in the darkness."
Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain
"...Third, our brains are composed of vast, complex, and shifting collections of subparts, most of which we have no access to; this book was written over the course of a few years by several different people, all of whom were named David Eagleman, but who were somewhat different with each passing hour."

A succinct summary of the book from the afterword. Free will advocates will have to do some pretty fancy footwork to keep up.
The Remains of the Day (1993)****
One of Anthony Hopkins finest performances in a film of several layers, but ultimately about how the human need for meaning causes us to ignore what is right under our noses, and our despair when and if we finally realize it. Director James Ivory nails it.
Howards End (1992)***
Well deserved Oscar nom for Vanessa Redgrave and generally fine performances from the rest of the cast along with impeccable production by Merchant Ivory, but it's just a tad too long which tends to dissipate its impact.
Papillon (1973)**
Well-shot Hollywood bio-pic of French petty thief sentenced to Devil's Island in Guyana and his several escape attempts. Works ok as an action flick, but the acting is wildly uneven and it goes on for too long.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Mike Martz Retires; The University of Miami Is Getting Tough on Boosters - Business - The Atlantic Wire:
"Mike Martz, engineer of the pass-happy offensive gameplans that helped the turn-of-the-millennium St. Louis Rams reach two Super Bowls in three years, says he's done with coaching at the age of 60. Martz was offensive coordinator of the 1999 Rams team that defeated the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV and scored 526 points during the regular season, which at the time was second most in NFL history. Two years later, he was the head coach of the Rams squad that lost to the 14-point underdog New England Patriots in the biggest upset Super Bowl history. Martz was bizarrely fired by the Rams in 2005 after taking a medical leave of absence, but resurfaced as offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, and Chicago Bears, improving each team's offense before departing on less-than-ideal terms. This was particularly true of his time in Chicago, which ended earlier in the month when head coach Lovie Smith -- his defensive coordinator during the Rams glory years -- helped to push Martz out the door after two seasons."

Refreshing to read a report about Martz free of hearsay, rumor and unfounded cliche. Sadly, those things keep following Martz and inhibit his ability to be even interviewed for head coaching and OC positions around the league. The fact of the matter is, for an OC whose team was in the NFC Championship game a year ago and, if not for 2 devastating injuries to key personnel, would have at least qualified for the playoffs this year to not be sought after is highly suspect. When someone like Brian Schottenheimer, who hasn't done a thing with the Jets, is coveted and Martz is shunned, something is wrong.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Of Gods and Men (2010)****
Great performances by the 8 leads makes this an absorbing drama of coming to terms with the inevitable.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Spirit of St. Louis (1957) **
Decent Hollywood (i.e. rife with factual errors) biopic of the famous aviator's first transatlantic voyage, nicely shot by Billy Wilder.
The Freshman (1990) ***
Nifty screwball comedy with enough gimmicks to overcome a few traces of '80's movie cliches. Brando shows a deft comedic touch.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

2011 In Review: Movies

**** Tree of Life
*** Midnight In Paris
*** Rango
** Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
** Melancholia
** Rio
* The Muppets

2011 In Review: Music

**** Army Navy - The Last Place
**** Dengue Fever - Cannibal Courtship
**** Dum Dum Girls - Only In Dreams
**** Lindsey Buckingham - Seeds We Sow
**** The Strokes - Angles
**** The Title Tracks - In Blank
**** Wild Flag - Wild Flag
*** Beirut - The Rip Tide
*** Blitzen Trapper - American Goldwing
*** Blondie - Panic of Girls
*** Brilliant Colors - Again and Again
*** Charlotte Gainsbourg - Stage Whisper
*** Everybody Else - Wanderlust
*** Fountains of Wayne - Sky Full of Holes
*** Kathryn Calder - Bright And Vivid
*** Mates of State - Mountaintops
*** Pugwash - The Olympus Sound
*** REM - Collapse Into Now
*** Ralph Covert & The Bad Examples - Smash Record
*** Raveonettes - Raven In the Grave
*** Rockpile - Live at Montreaux 1980
*** Scout - Pi
*** Stevie Nicks - In Your Dreams
*** Surfer Blood - Tarot Classics
*** The Wrong Words - The Wrong Words
*** Wilco - The Whole Love
** Alice Cooper - Welcome 2 My Nightmare
** Carole King - A Christmas Carole
** Cut Copy - Zonoscope
** Fruit Bats - Tripper
** Human League - Credo
** Kate Bush - 50 Words For Snow
** Ladytron - Gravity the Seducer
** She & Him - A Very She & Him Christmas
** Sloan - The Double Cross
** Spoons - Static In Transmission
** TV On The Radio - Nine Types of Light
** The Bangles - Sweetheart of the Sun
** The Cars - Move Like This
** The Decemberists - The King Is Dead
** The Ettes - Wicked Will
** The Feelies - Here Before
** The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar
** The Sounds - Something To Die For
** They Might Be Giants - Join Us
** Viva Voce - The Future Will Destroy You
** William Shatner - Seeking Major Tom
** Woods - Sun and Shade
** Yes - Fly From Here
** Young Galaxy - Shapeshifting
** Yuck - Yuck
* Destroyer - Kaputt
* Michael Bublé - Christmas
* Robyn Hitchcock - Tromso, Kaptein
* The New York Dolls - Dancing Backward In High Heels

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Our Selves, Other Cells - Boing Boing:
"How many people have left their DNA in us? Any baby we’ve ever conceived, even ones we’ve miscarried unknowingly. Sons leave their Y chromosome genes in their mothers. The fetal cells from each pregnancy, flowing in a mother’s bloodstream, can be passed on to her successive kids. If we have an older sibling, that older sibling’s cells may be in us. The baby in a large family may harbor the genes of many brothers and sisters. My mother’s cells are in my body, and so are my daughter’s cells, and half my daughter’s DNA comes from her dad. Some of those cells may be in my brain. This is squirm-worthy."