Riveting Rentals

To para-quote Paul Newman from the end of The Color of Money (a great movie by the way), I’m back, baby!  After a 3-year hiatus I am returning with renewed vigor to the business of writing about movies.  I took down everything on my WordPress blog and re-posted it, this time with a more organized approach, e.g. being careful to keep the order of previous writings.  I suggest reading “About this Blog”, above.

There is much to write on.  The previous 19 postings just ripple the waters of everything I’d like to swim into.  For this first posting direct-to-blog, I figured a good starting point would be to talk about a group of recommended movies that I’ve watched since entering my Apple TV phase, where almost all movies I watch at home are streamed over the internet.  These movies add on to prior posts Movies that’ll get ya and I still know some movies that’ll get ya.

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Film Brief: Sin Nombre

Facebook Note 13 Sep 2009

Very briefly: Sin Nombre (2008) is outstanding, my highest rated film yet since starting with Blockbuster online.  Similar to Inglourious Basterds in that part of its success lies in a very well crafted plot structure.  Other than that, no direct similarities — other than being excellent.

Sin Nombre is in Spanish with English subtitles.  Rather than write a normal review, I suggest watching the preview.  If you like the preview — if this movie seems like something you want to watch, rent it — you won’t be disappointed.

Film Notes: Inglourious Basterds

Facebook Note 28 Aug 2009

I wanted to see a movie at Horton Plaza Wednesday evening, and the choice came down to District 9 and Inglourious Basterds.  I stood looking at the posters hanging side by side outside the UA Cinema. Brad Pitt, who has been annoying me lately (e.g. the disappointing Burn After Reading), and looked by all accounts, based on the film’s marketing, to really get under my skin in this one, or the big, hovering, menacing spacecraft movie.  Each one had been getting good reviews.  Basterds’ poster featured Pitt standing smugly and triumphantly on a pile of Nazis’ bodies, and the menacing spacecraft hovering over a quarantined District 9.  I glanced back and forth, then rested on the small figure in the center of the District 9 poster – a man with a squid for a nose.  I settled on Basterds.

I am glad I did.  I had no desire to see this film; indeed, I was loathe to see it and determined not to, except by accident in bits and pieces on TNT beginning about three years from now — all based on what I had seen of it from the marketing, but boy was I surprised.  In the end, I figured, hey, this is the next Tarantino flick, maybe it’ll be good.  And I didn’t really want to see squid-for-a-nose dude.  My take — this movie may fall short of “masterpiece,” but it is a definite triumph. Continue reading

Movie Bite: Pan’s Labyrinth

email 12 March 2009

I completed watching Pan’s Labyrinth last night.  I meant to ask my supervisor at work the translation of “Fauna”, because I don’t think it should be translated as Pan’s Labyrinth, but rather The Faun’s Labyrinth.  Probably another case of American marketing taking over, as with Ladri di Biciclette as I discussed last time.

Nevertheless, this is a wonderful film.  I feel for me that it has a target audience of a mature child, say the age of the protagonist, a young heroine named Ofelia.  It takes place in 1944 Spain, and has 2 stories running in parallel: One of a mystical, magical world that Ofelia begins to journey into, and the other of the adult world of Spain in lingering civil conflict toward the end of WWII.  I would not say this is a masterpiece, though it is a masterfully made film in many regards.  It flows along with balletic grace, and is a beautiful film to watch.

The best definition I have for “magnificent” is that which Laura offered for Mulholland Dr.:

We just finished watching it. Magnificent movie. Neither one of us can even begin to sort it out. Maybe we’re not supposed to? Seems like a kaleidoscope that has people’s minds as the colored chips. Continue reading

Movie Bites

email 4 March 2009


I’ve started watching movies from my new Blockbuster online account.  I have to say I really like the way it works, and a preliminary comparison with Netflix does not fare well for Netflix, that is of the online interface, not to mention you can’t return mailed movies to the local Netflix store to speed up by a day or two how quickly you get the next movie.

I was surprised to find that there was a report yesterday of Blockbuster going bankrupt, as it’s stock fell from about $1 to 22 cents.  I know there is a grand malaise out there with almost all businesses, but I’d think people are renting more than ever to save money compared to going out to the movies.  Plus, I am sure Netflix will have trouble competing.  On the other hand, maybe it is exactly the lack of physical stores, and therefore lack of overhead, that is Netflix’s advantage. Continue reading

Movie Review: Changeling

email 30 Dec 2008

In its instructions for creating a Mint Julep, The Joy of Cooking warns, citing Voltaire, that “The good is the enemy of the best.”  It is such a joy that Rombauer’s great reference provides nearly as much advice and philosophy on life in general as it does on cooking.  Now… I do not want to cast such negative aspersions upon Clint Eastwood’s Changeling, because it is a wholly worthwhile endeavor, a fine film with much to recommend it.  It is good, perhaps very good, depending on your point of view.  But it is not a “great” film.

I put “great” in quotations because I want to make it clear what I mean by that.  I don’t throw around “great.”  “Great” is a close cousin in my film-talk to “masterpiece.” Continue reading

Films of a Bygone Era

email 20 Nov 2008

And The Bygone Era is the 1980s.  There were a group of films that came out around the same time period where I see connections.  I’ve written of this before, connections of one film to another that others may have not made — connections which would seem tenuous or abstract if you just wrote the titles on a list.

First on the list is a movie I first glimpsed on TV in my dorm room freshman year at Tropicana Gardens, Brazil (1985, Jonathan Pryce, Robert DeNiro, other stars).  I saw just a few minutes of it and thought, what is this?  My suite-mate Dan Gibbons (whom I wrote of in my college stories) commented on the various gadgets depicted in the film as things that never quite worked being brought to the center of this society’s technological paradigm.  What specifically he was speaking of were the magnifying screens placed in front of CRTs; this film is lush with such hackneyed apparatuses. Continue reading