Wednesday, September 26, 2012

GoldenEye (1995)**
Pierce Brosnan's first outing as Bond and it's very uneven. Spectacular opening stunt work and a few nice action sequences, but some very slow parts that feel awkward and out of place. Huge plot holes, not unusual for a Bond picture, and why bring Joe Don Baker back? He's a terrible actor. Brosnan's Bond is as hard-edged as predecessor Timothy Dalton's but with a much more aggressive libido which reduces his charm somewhat, and gives the film a crudeness not expected of a Bond picture.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hamlet (1996)***
Long, complete text version of Shakespeare's tragedy is visually spectacular, with mostly very fine acting on display. Inherently stagy and talky, but Branagh uses lots of camera movement in long takes to keep things moving.
The New Daughter (2009)**
So-so horror flick that's really an elongated X-Files/Kolchak style monster episode. Some possible allegory to parental fears of pubescent change, but not enough to make this film more than a throwaway.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ghostbusters (1984)***
Entertaining and likable mix of SNL/SCTV style laidback humor and supernatural special effects. Rick Moranis and Harold Ramis are great in support of Bill Murray who hit his stride with this flick.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Noam Chomsky on America's Economic Suicide, Noam Chomsky interviewed by Laura Flanders:
"Take 9-11. That means something in the United States. The 'world changed' after 9-11. Well, do a slight thought experiment. Suppose that on 9-11 the planes had bombed the White House ... suppose they'd killed the president , established a military dictatorship, quickly killed thousands, tortured tens of thousands more, set up a major international terror center that was carrying out assassinations , overthrowing governments all over the place, installing other dictatorships, and drove the country into one of the worst depressions in its history and had to call on the state to bail them out Suppose that had happened? It did happen. On the first 9-11 in 1973. Except we were responsible for it, so it didn't happen. That's Allende's Chile. You can't imagine the media talking about this."

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Haunting (1999)**
Begins as a sort of cartoon version of the original and goes downhill from there. What Robert Wise was able to do with shots of wallpaper and sound design takes Jan de Bont $80M and lots of noise. Except for the lovely Ms. Zeta-Jones, not worth the time.
Licence to Kill (1989)**
Timothy Dalton's second foray as Bond suffers from a severe lack of quality supporting actors (except for stunning Carey Lowell) and from the producers' continuing decision to make Bond more generic. There is a middle ground between self-parody and blandness and this one swings too far towards the latter.
A Fine Madness (1966)*
Wants to be, no, NEEDS to be, an outrageous farce but it's directed like dozens of other mid-'60's NYC based comedies and the result seems to have been acceptable at the time but now is quite jarring. Hard to recall another "comedy" that includes a scene of the protagonist slugging his pregnant wife in the jaw. I get it that it's supposed to be a scathing satire of artistic temperaments, but to see that you really have to do director Irvin Kershner's work for him.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Launch of The Nutrition Science Initiative:
"NuSI was founded on the premise that the reason we are beset today by epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes, and the reason physicians and researchers think these diseases are so recalcitrant to dietary therapies, is because of our flawed understanding of their causes. We believe that with a concerted effort and the best possible science, this problem can be fixed."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

U.S. Missions Stormed in Libya, Egypt -
"The film's 52-year-old writer, director and producer, Sam Bacile, said that he wanted to showcase his view of Islam as a hateful religion. "Islam is a cancer," he said in a telephone interview from his home. 'The movie is a political movie. It's not a religious movie.'"

"Sam Bacile"? Seriously? Sounds fishy, a bit too close to "imbecile".

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Stalker (1979)*
If you enjoy watching 3 dirty, grimey guys walking around dirty, grimey places, talking philosophy intermittently for two hours and forty minutes, then this is the flick for you. Is it sci-fi? Is it an allegory? You won't know and you won't care you'll just want something, ANYTHING to happen and it never does. Maybe that's "art" and I just don't get it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Bush White House Was Deaf to 9/11 Warnings -
"But some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster. An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat. Intelligence officials, these sources said, protested that the idea of Bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist, conspiring with Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi secularist, was ridiculous, but the neoconservatives’ suspicions were nevertheless carrying the day."

Patriot Day.
The Living Daylights (1987)**
Apparently the world was not yet ready for a reboot of the franchise as Timothy Dalton was pilloried as he took over the role from Roger Moore. He's not bad, actually, but it's the entire production that is such a jarring change from the previous films. The sex and jokes are virtually non-existent, and the action/stunts are more realistic and less fantastic. Joe Don Baker stands out in a bad way as the required megalomaniacal villain, you'll cringe as you watch Bond make pals with the Afghan "mujahadeen" (present day Taliban), but mostly you'll be looking at your watch halfway through the 130 minute running time. Seriously, these Bond films would all be much better with a good 30-40 minutes trimmed. Spectacular stunt work near the end as Bond and adversary battle from just outside the cargo hold of a flight.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Barbarella (1968)***
WAY more entertaining than it has a right to be. Jane Fonda looks great and the seemingly dated sets (wall to wall to ceiling shag carpeting!) actually work pretty well in the context of the story, such as it is. A comic book flick that doesn't take itself too seriously.
Naomi Wolf: 'Neural wiring explained vaginal v clitoral orgasms. Not culture. Not Freud' | Books | The Guardian:
"It all started with a problem Wolf was having in her own sex life; the quality of her orgasms suddenly changed from being full of light and colour and what she describes in terms of transcendental experience, to something dull and lifeless. She went to see 'New York's pelvic nerve man', which required a certain presence of mind. A lot of people in her place would have gone to see a psychotherapist.

"'I'm not that crazy,' she says. 'I knew that there was something physically wrong. It was physical. It was a physical experience.'"

EVERY thought, feeling, sensation you experience is physical. Everything.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Work in Progress Blog Archive: Remembering Phyllis Diller:
"How about hecklers? 'I never had hecklers. Here’s my rhythm: Either I am talking or they are laughing. You would’ve had to make an appointment to heckle me.'"

Monday, September 03, 2012

A View to a Kill (1985)*
Roger should have quit while he was ahead with Octopussy. This is one of the worst Bonds. Completely nonsensical story, and since apparently 1 old fuddy-duddy playing a superspy isn't enough, they had to recruit former TV Avenger Patrick Macnee to join the fray. And for Bond "girls" they get Tanya Roberts and Grace Jones? Not the producers' finest hours.
Octopussy (1983)***
It took 10 years, but we finally get the best Roger Moore Bond film. Colorful Indian locales, a fairly plausible story line (no incredibly wealthy yet deranged villains intent on world domination), lots of action and lots of startling stunts. Great theme song by John Barry.
Le Notti Bianche (1957)**
Some nice directorial touches by Luchino Visconti and some lovely black and white camera work, but it's a 20 minute story stretched to 100 and it can't take the strain.
Barefoot in the Park (1967)***
Like most Neil Simon, the first half is much better, but thanks to Redford and Fonda, especially Fonda, that first half manages to carry the picture. Funny and cute, then not funny and awkward.