Archives for movies category

Friday March 4, 2005


DeeDee and I signed up our house with GreenCine tonight. I put 30 movies in my queue real quick (there’s new version Raging Bull!). I was on NetFlix a few years ago but this is waaaay better for the movie geek. Perfect to try out my new vision system on.

I especially love the Movie Primers section where you can setup your film school curriculum much easier. I’m really into the Iranian New Wave and they have a really good essay on it. They use extensive IMDB links for stuff they don't have. I once heard that they best way to get a film education was not to watch a bunch of movies by different directors, but to just pick a director and watch their whole cannon, beginning to end. I've done that with quite a few and I have to recommend it. You get a much better idea of how technique and theme work together from the perspective of a single artist. GreenCine lets you do this when you click on a director, you can just queue up all their movies. Another one I like is the new releases.

Anyhow, if you're a NetFlixer, I say switch.

Wednesday February 9, 2005

It's ON

This shit is back on. I've spent the last few days porting my blog to a new format and now I'm going to write in it.

Tonight I saw that movie about that woman who gave cameras to kids who were children of Calcutta prostitutes. I recommend it. Don't have anything to say about it right now. Probably won't later. Why write in the blog if one has nothing to say? Good question. Discuss amongst yourselves.

How's that for a standard blog entry.

Friday June 20, 2003

Regarding a topic that's on everyone's minds these days: The Apu Trilogy. You can get the PAL Region 2 DVD's here but it suggests there will be a Region 1 release sometime in 2003. This is big news for me as I will be buying them as soon as they're released. I think you should wait a little longer as well. An email to Sony Pictures Classics confirms they'll release their Merchant-Ivory restored versions later this year. Fuck Yeah.

Thursday May 15, 2003

There was a palpable, today-we-got-a-substitute-teacher buzz in the air as people feverishly scrambled for a seat. They were just getting warm after a couple hours out in the blustery cold of Geary street and a good portion were coming on from the liquor and pot they'd ingested in the parking lot. All of it spun up into a craze by the speed at which they were rushed into the theater. The line moved so fast because as people handed off their tickets they broke into a sprint for the seats. Kevin ran at full speed, skipping the stairs and I tried to keep the group from coming apart. We duct-taped off a row of seats and someone came back from the snack bar with the largest soft drink container I've ever seen. Two popcorn tub and commemorative two liter cup combos with guaranteed refills. Everyone was new to me. I'd bought them some Jameson and howled with them in the ticket holder line, but now, suddenly with the arrival of the soft drinks, our rabid consumption was overwhelmed. The people in shiny latex posing for pictures and the news cameras got little more than a glance. Clothing was peeled off and suddenly people were leaning over backs of seats and yelling instructions to cohorts. But the drink was the thing. I didn't know what to do with it at first and then some freaky dude that was from Alabama grabbed it and looked down the straw and said, "Look at this thing. There are people that have never even tasted soda pop and look at what we got!" and he took a big pull of Sprite. Dude hit it for me. Just then, a guy that was sitting next to us came back to his date with a mini snack combo. Flimsy little bag of corn and a paper cup that you could almost get your whole fist around. I chided him, (in the ironic spirit of the moment of course) and said, "Look at your puny little soft drink. We have flagon of infinite refills. A White Tower of drink with showers of green digits raining down the sides -- a drink that is more drink than all of us drinkers put together." And within moments he was returning from the snack bar to his now approving girlfriend with a disconnected look on his face but a drink that he had to hold with two hands.

There was an endless litany of blockbuster trailers, all of which was met with derision by the hardcore audience (except for T3 -- some things are inviolate) and then Matrix Reloaded started. That's where most of the fun ended. I mean, it was hilarious at points. But generally I have to give it to the San Francisco fans for generating far more spectacle than all the CGI hackers in Marin can dish up. Opening night (or the night before opening night I guess) and a capacity crowd of 1200 is a thing of beauty. No movie could compare with it. The scene in line, out in the Coronet parking lot, is what I remember. It's what I want to share. People offering you Coors, you offering whatever you had, others eating pizza out of the box standing up, the smell of pot being ripped past your face by 40 mile per hour winds. Kevin running around because it's finals week and you can't calm down when you're supposed to during finals week, especially if you'd fronted for 23 tickets to the Matrix Reloaded and you're trying to organize it and people want to know where the liquor store is and what time it is and what happened to the scarf they had. There's a guy that's all alone, stepping out of line to smoke, when everyone is already smoking in line. Sometimes when you're alone and there's people all around yelling and commingling saliva via shared bottles of whisky and realize that your love of Sci-Fi has pulled you into a "popular" event, you gotta get away. A few people, tired from work are just hoping to get into the movie so that they can pacify their boyfriend and get warmed up. A few draped in sleeping bags, laughing stiff-necked. Some willing to give interviews, everyone with an opinion. There's the screamers and the waiters. NOBODY talking about the movie.

Thursday October 3, 2002

I watched "Iris", that film about Iris Murdoch and her husband and how they deal with her getting Alzheimer's and it seriously fucked me up. Because she was so cool and smart and he loved her so fucking much and it sounds corny, but I miss my brain-addled mom, so I cried a helluva lot. I just couldn't help it. I didn't know why I was crying and I wanted to see the movie so I wasn't really "goin with the flow" and I kept choking it back but it was going to come out no matter what I did. Then after it was over I really felt like writing something, being all emotional and everything. I got up and sorted through my old bills and made sure they were all paid and then I clicked on some Belle & Sebastian mp3's and while I was digging around on my desk I found some old film that I never scanned and this photo was on the end of the roll. That was my Canon P coming to the end of a roll and not letting me advance the film all the way but still letting me cock the shutter. Well, that emotional stuff was over an hour ago but I still feel all raw inside. I'm glad it's a good photograph.

Wednesday May 1, 2002

Mini movie review for "Suddenly" 1954.

From the very first moment of the movie you can feel the camp. It spills off the screen almost as quickly as Sam Fuller's "The Naked Kiss" (the uncontestable peak of twisted melodramatic motion picture brilliance) but here's it was surely a complete mistake. Or could it have been spiced with subversion? I don't know the director or writer but their bios seem spotless. I’m sure Sen. McCarthy loved them. Sterling Hayden, is fucking ridiculous as sheriff "Tod" (were people named Tod then? Guess so.) So ridiculous that after the first two goofy minutes I asked myself, "you're gonna stay up all night watching b-movie crap instead of helping the needy children of your community?" and I didn't have time to answer. I popped a Salisbury steak TV dinner in and parked it. I love Sterling Hayden and something about his delivery is so wooden that at the very moment he's proclaiming his otherworldly patriotism he reminds me of poor Ellen when she is coerced to front for the assassins and lie that everything is ok and send the cops away. There's something about that guy. After all, he was hanging with Stanely Kubrick at the time (The Killing) and he would play General Jack D. Ripper in Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove.

From IMDB:

"To modern eyes the all-American good guys look ever-so-slightly psycho in their undying patriotism, love of guns (but hey!, not killing), and idol-worship of the Prez. Even the pacifist heroine has to relent and understand that guns solve problems, suddenly."

Of course, monologing through the whole thing is Mr. Straight, Frank Sinatra. Even though he plays a psycho killer, he doesn't fit with the wierdos in this movie. I found this on the back side of a "The Man with the Golden Arm" DVD and I'd forgotten that I'd already seen that. That movie sucked. Its message is simplistic and boring and dated. I was amazed how boring it was and angry with my rental so I didn't have much left for "Suddenly" (which, for some reason, I thought was a recorded live performance of Mr. Frank.) But let me tell you now, "Suddenly" is worth finding at the vidstore and bringing home to your loved ones.

From IMDB:

"This is the film that Lee Harvey Oswald supposedly watched mere days before assassinating JFK, a fact that Frank Sinatra learned years after the tragedy prompting him to withdraw the film from circulation."

Friday January 4, 2002

It's 1:19 am and I'm about to get on the road. I'm just about packed. Thought I'd be done sooner but I decided to backup my hard drive just in case something happens. I'm bringing just about every expensive piece of equipment I own with me so something better damn well happen.

I'm going to El Lay. Just decided tonight when I woke up. I was thinking the first thoughts I usually think as I wander out of sleep: "What day is it and where'd I park my car?" I realized it was Thursday and that I need to move it before tomorrow so I thought, since I have to re-park my car anyhow, I might as well drive to LA. That's the way I tend to think about matters of parking in my neighborhood. I don't consider driving to LA that much of a chore and I'd rather do it than re-park my car.

Also, I had remember that Ben told me to meet him and his marching band in LA. He said they have lots of groupies and I can be one of them.

I passed the time before leaving by watching the film "Waking Life" and I highly recommend it. It’s about dreams and reality and this animated kid (young Mitch from "Dazed and Confused") walks around and listens to people philosophize on life and dreams. There are some very beautiful parts. Like when the two guys that are talking about the "holy moment" suddenly turn into cloud people. Or when that girl picks him up and tells him about her soap opera. Talk about a dream girl... and then there’s Timothy 'Speed' Levitch playing himself, of course, the man on bridge who goes salsa dancing with his confusion. You want to press the pause button on that guy cause he’s laying in on thick. If you’ve seen the movie "The Cruise" you’ll have an idea of the flavor of the ramblings.

So here I go on a cruise.

Sunday December 30, 2001

I just wrote an angry rebuttal to some no-taste doofuses stinking up the Internet Movie Database concerning a film I saw tonight. It's called "In The Bedroom" and it's very very good. The movie, I mean.

Wednesday December 26, 2001

Hello? Central Services? I'm at 579B Block 19, Northwestern Section D. That's exit 1 on Green Pastures Highway at the Orange Blossom flyover and I've got trouble with my air conditioning. It's an emergency. I've got to have a heating engineer.

Thank you for calling Central Services. I'm sorry, due to temporary staff shortages, Central Services cannot take service calls centrally between twenty three hundred and o nine hundred hours. Have a nice day. This has NOT been a recording.

This is an emergency!

Thank you for calling Central Services. I'm sorry, due to

Look, I've got to have a heating engineer.

Thank you for calling Central Serv

Awwww Shoot. Click!

Get In, Get Out
:04 seconds
or download 400kb





Hello Mr. Lowry.

Yes, who is this?

Put the phone down and raise your hands.

Wha, what is this?

Harry Tuttle, Heating Engineer at your service.

Tuttle? Are you from Central Services? I called Central Services.

Well, they're a little overworked these days. Luckily I intercepted your call.

What was that business with the gun?

Just a precaution. I've had traps set for me before now. There are plenty of people in Central Services that would love to get their hands on Harry Tuttle.

Are you telling me that this is illegal?

Well, yes and no. Officially, only Central Services operatives are supposed to touch this stuff, (would you hold this please) but nowadays, with all the new rules and regulations, they can't get decent staff any more. So they tend to turn a blind eye as long as I'm careful. Mind you, if they could prove that I'm working on their equipment, well, that's a pipe of a different color.

Listen, this whole system of yours could be on fire and I couldn't even so much has turn on a kitchen tap without filling out a 27B/6.

Bloody paperwork. Heh.

I...I suppose one has to expect a certain amount?

Why? I came into this game for the action. The excitement. Go anywhere, travel light, get in, get out, wherever there's trouble, a man alone.

Now they got the whole country sectioned off. You can't make a move without a form.

Thursday November 8, 2001

Wednesday I was subjected to a laughably horrible piece of movie making called "The Last Castle. I'm writing this movie review because people must be stopped from going to see this movie. Ok, maybe if you shoot tons of heroin right before you sit down in front of this two hour and twenty minute joke of a not so funny joke of something that should be laughed out of town. Now, I hate to waste someone's $8.50, and I feel bad about snickering and laughing and groaning all the way through this one. The decent Americans all around me surely don't deserve their ball-licking patriotism soddened. That's why I'm going to try to reap some karma back from the universe and keep all of you intelligent, tasteful people away from "The Last Castle's" little corner of the multiplex.

Thursday September 13, 2001

Don't know where this is but I think it's in front of Dave Farsan near Babulnath Chowk. Bombay.

I just watched Gandhi for the first time since 1985. It was very moving and relevant. Gandhi was killed by a Hindu extremist who thought he was giving too much away to the Muslims during the shaping of independent India.

Indians today know almost nothing of Gandhi nor do they care. They learn about his political role and his philosophy is brushed aside as naiveté or extremism. While I was in India, I was very curious about this mass amnesia of the ideas of the father of their country. I lived on his street for a while. It's something similar to our society still playing the music of the late sixties on the radio all the time but the ideas that went along with it are derided old "hippy daydreams" -- naked, dirty failures of the "Age of Aquarius". They will say, "Gandhi is ours" but he is not theirs any more. I will not let them have him. They just want him, so when it's convenient, they can flash a cardboard cut-out of him to the world and say, "this is our great father, our ancient culture deserves your respect". This is the most disingenuous crap I can imagine. I could go on forever about all the conflicting and countercultural ideas that got Gandhi killed but I won't.

Monday September 10, 2001

I just watched "Not One Less" and I have to admit to being pretty ambivalent to the thing going in but...WOW. I figured it would be one of those touching independent cinema, make me wanna get out my checkbook, kinda old-yellers but I wasn't prepared for the spontaneous beauty of those kids or the frustration with the coldness of the adults. 'Cause I'd seen "Raise the Red Lantern" and that was pretty good and the ad for this one made me think it was some manipulative, over-sentimental crap but I was stunned by this film. It never let me have what I wanted, holding back and staying true then only letting me witness redemption when it was finally due. Then, watching the credits I find out that this was a true story, played by non-professional actors and my admiration grows. Where else are you going to see 26 thirsty third graders share two cans of coke? They've never tasted the shit before! Brilliant! Sure it's hokey, with a Bad-News-Bears sort of turnaround at the end, but goddamn it, I needed that.

Tuesday August 21, 2001

I found the script to The Jerk on line tonight. I'm completely obsessed with it for some reason. You can read the whole thing in a half an hour.

Well mom, remember my dream of owning a big house on a hill and how I used to wish for a living room with a plaster lion in it from Mexico and how I always wanted a large twenty four seat dining table in a dining room with original oil paintings by Michelangelo and Rembrandt and remember how I always wanted a rotating bed with pink chiffon and zebra stripes and remember how I used to chit chat with dad about always wanting a bathtub shaped like a clam and an office with orange and white stripes and remember how much I wanted an all red billiard room with a giant stuffed camel and how I wanted a disco room with my own disco dancers and a party room with fancy friends and remember how much I wanted a big backyard with Grecian statues, s-shaped hedges and three swimming pools? Well, I got that too.

Thursday July 12, 2001

Now listen to me, we're taking pictures for my parents. We're taking pictures like we're a couple - like we like each other - like we're husband and wife and we *span time* together. We span time together 'cause we're a loving couple, *spanning time*. These photos are *us*, *in love*, *spanning time*.

Thursday June 7, 2001

I had the best No Name sushi dinner the night I took this photo. 17th Street and Dolores.

I'm on the sun schedule now. I stayed up until 9pm yesterday and now I'm up and chipper at 7am. Part of my scheme for staying awake was not to spend 10 hours straight in front of the computer and then to go down to the financial district and skate (At one point when I was bombing Bush, a pack of rather hardcore skaters caught up from behind and it was quite exciting to be part of that rolling thunder. I felt like a guy on a moped suddenly finding himself in the middle of a pack of Hells Angels.) and then go see Amores Perros. I also spent $6k yesterday. That took a little while.

The first thing Alexis asked me when I got home was if I cried. Yes, my eyes were red and sore afterwards. I think when you're sleep deprived movies affect you more. I actually cry a lot at movies. Come to think of it, I'd hate it if my main hobby failed to make me cry - I'd probably be wasting my time watching all these movies if they didn't affect me.

Amores Perros has won a lot of awards at film festivals. I wonder if those film festival voters watch telenovelas (Mexican soap operas). I wonder if that would change their vote. In some parts, like the middle model story, it gets really soap opera-ish. Actually, the wino/deadbeat dad story was right outta the soaps also. "Por un Beso! Por un Beso!" The movie probably would have fallen on it's face except for the emotional force of Emilio Echevarría -- The Goat. His story of attempted redemption at the end bails it out for me. I thought the middle story really dragged after the bruisingly intense first story and only the "failed left-wing rebel gets to torture two asshole businessmen" scene raised the level of gratification to the point where I'd recommend this film. But, the director was very brave to try all three.

I did love the part where one character says, "If you want to make God laugh, make plans." I kind of fit's with my rant from a couple of days back. And the music is amazing. I guess the director is a DJ.

Know what? I saw two Mexican movies yesterday. Nazarín by Luis Buñuel kills Amores Perros. You could say I like my movies delightful and subtle. Who wouldn've thunk it?

Friday May 25, 2001

I'd love to do a systematic investigation of every reflective shot in Yi Yi. I can think of 10 stunning examples off the top of my head. In the director's comments track on the DVD you can hear Edward get noticeably excited when another reflective shot presents itself on screen. He points them all out, and it's true that the shots do seem to present themselves to the director. Although you must assume he had something to do with them, he confesses that it was magic that he discovered when he got to the location. Neither he nor I can explain what effect the superimposition of a night cityscape on a dark office space has on our understanding of the emotional world of the character sandwiched between the layers of light. It seems there is magic at work all around. But it is not magic at all, as we learn from Mr. Ota's card trick -- merely attention. Maybe it's the reflection's ability to split out attention out into many streams of thought and quickly focus it back down that gives his scenes their vertiginous exhilaration. How else to explain the rush one feels from looking at a completely static shot where you can barely make out the actors? He set out to make a film about family but I think he discovered he also wanted to make a film about life in Taipei. The reflections are the device that lets him make two movies at once. I think that's what is most special about each reflective shot. It is the instantaneous visual realization of an epic goal, and a reminder to the audience of both themes working in the movie. His assuredness and gentleness astounds me.

Thursday May 24, 2001

I can recommend Last's Paint on Mission near 18th. They're indie and they're local. Their paint is drying on my walls right now. It stinks. I like the blue but I'm not sure about the orange. I can recommend Yi Yi but I can't make you rent it. Let's see what I can do...I watched it about a couple of weeks ago and it has not worn off. I will not let go of this film. I rented the DVD again tonight to listen to the directors commentary. Edward Yang is the director and writer and he's kicking some serious ass. He's now up there (in my mind) with Yasujiro Ozu, Satayajit Ray and Jean Renior and Robert Altman. The directors I mentioned all seem to be able to make you believe you are watching the bare existence of the people in their films and then whammo, you realize they're playing on a huge romantic/mythical level. Yang's directing is absolutely fascinating. He makes Wong Kar-Wai and Paul Thomas Anderson (two guys trying so hard to do what he does so easily) look like film style shysters. He hangs back, letting scenes develop without moving the camera and then hanging out long after they're over. You get a chance to see what other movies cut out. And because the characters are all so wound up and stressed out, you have to sit and watch them for a while before they drop their guard and give you a peep at what's bothering them. It's amazingly seductive. And, it lulls you into an over attentive state that by the 3rd hour of the film is being lashed with spiked belts of beauty. I was leaning over, clutching my gut, wiping my eyes, shaking my head and wondering if the film was going to let me out alive. Exhausted by magic blinking-heart-streetlights in the reflections of office windows; redeemed by transcendent words falling out of an 8 year old boy. Eat well before seeing it.