Archive for category Movies

A Few Thoughts on Stand by Me

I saw this the other day, and it made me think about the movie.  My first thoughts, the writer in me can appreciate it (and it’s my go to piece for saying, “See, Stephen King DOES write more than really scary, creepy stuff,” followed closely by Shawshank Redemption.  In fact, when I found out it was based on a King novella I was shocked, since I was of an age that only knew him from Carrie, Cujo and Salem’s Lot [among his other early 80’s novels].  SBM can be considered my gateway to reading King since, upon making that discovery, I picked up a paperback copy of Different Seasons just to read “The Body.”).

But it was my emotional reaction to the film, the first time that I watched it all the way through, that prompted my thoughts for this post… I cried, one of the few movies to actually push me to that point*.  Thinking back, I probably saw it on HBO or Cinemax, at about the same age as the characters.  Wil Wheaton mentions in his entry that he was twelve when they filmed it and River Phoenix was a few years older.  I was not much older than that when I watched it, which may have been how it started.

I was in the midst of junior high, almost in high school, and had an associative experience – my best friend through elementary school had moved to the west coast (his dad had been reassigned to a base in Washington State), and while we tried the pen pal thing (back in the ancient days before the internet and email) but eventually our communications fizzled away.  (I’ve thought about him and his family at different times over the years, and have tried looking them up on some of the social sites but with no success.)

But it was the age, which is the important thing, and the identification that could be made by someone so close to the age of the characters at the first viewing.  When I’ve watched it since, there’s still a little pull at the end of the movie and the reflections over the other friendships that have been made and gradually lost over the years (and the oh so precious few that manage to survive on long-distance strings), but nothing like that first one.  Sometimes it’s those friends you had when you were twelve that can make all the difference.

* Toy Story 3 is the most recent one I cried at the end of, and there have been very few that I have seen in the years between (about twenty now) that stick out.  The reason for TS3 doing it was two fold… I could relate to Andy’s position, but it was mainly the fact that I could project my nephews into Andy (and all of the growth, changes, and their entry into the bigger world that comes with it).

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Clash of the …?

I started this on Saturday, 10 April, shortly after seeing the 2010 version of Clash of the Titans… and I was not overly impressed. To be fair, it wasn’t a completely bad movie concept, and the visual effects were (mostly) quite good. However, I grew up in the 80’s, and had seen most of the 1981 version several times (never completely, usually only the last half), so I went in with those memories playing in comparison.

The biggest complaint we had (my wife remembered the original better than me, until we streamed it from Netflix the next day), was the overall story arc and sequencing of events were 75-80% different between the movies. The 1981 version seemed to have a better flow to the story, and just made better sense than the 2010 version. The premise of the new version stems from Perseus seeking revenge against the gods – Hades specifically – for the death of his “family.” The 1981 version follows the mythological stories much closer, and also involves more of the pantheonical politics then the newer version (Hades and Zeus are prominent, and aside from a few snivelling-child type lines from Apollo therest of the gods are only seen, not heard).

One of the other huge differences is the Kraken. 2010, it’s controlled by Hades, but back in 1981 it was controlled by Posiden. And (in 2010) while its eventual use was trumpeted with all of the anger a god could muster, it’s release in 1981 was portrayed as an unfortunate, “Alright, if we must, darnit.”

Again, I don’t think the 2010 version was horrible, I’m just glad I went to a matinee showing.

But the funniest part of the day was when we were waiting to go into the theatre while in line at the concession stand. On the display screens inside, where the listing of movie times and theater assignments are shown, we were amused to read that we were going to be seeing “Clash of the Tit,” like it would be some kind of mud wrestling match or period porn movie. Really? Someone at the theater didn’t catch that?

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Angels & Demons & Saints, oh my…

I went to see Angels & Demons last night… better than DaVinci Code by basic Hollywood standards (read: more action)… Having read the book a few years ago, I may have been a little fuzzy on some of the details… but not the overall story specifics. I like how the ending was handles within the movie (the book felt like it was too forced/quick, but the movie made the ending a little more natural)… Considering A&D actually came FIRST, they did pretty well playing with the story elements that turned it into a sequel… To say anything more specific would be spoiler-ific, and I’m just not into that right now…

Friday, to complete the title references… we watched A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. I didn’t think it was bad (as a character piece), but having watched it, I am interested in reading the source book… It felt like there was a lot of things were left out of the movie in orderto make some of the connections click… I would recommend it, but be advised – it’s not for the faint of ear (it’s rated R, fora lot of language)…

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Double Feature…

While the intro to RHPS spins through my mind at the moment (“Science-fiction, double feature show….”), Mary Catherine and I did just that today, sort of.  Her parents were in town for the weekend, and we had talked earlier in the week about going to a movie after her parents left.

We had planned to see Wolverine, but got to the theatre about 5-10 minutes after the screening would have started, so we opted for Star Trek – a screening time about 5-10 minutes after our arrival (to facilitate a pit stop before the movie, having just come from lunch).
Star Trek was definitely worth the hype… I think it did very well with the existing canon, bringing in a lot of the quirks that some of the original series actors demonstrated (like Bones’ aversion to space… I remember the first movie, when McCoy was teleported on board and he was grouching up a storm over it).  While I liked Simon Pegg as Scotty, I would have liked a few more scenes with him in it (I guess we’ll have to look towards the sequel for that, eh?).
Wolverine, while a good movie overall – I liked some of the uses of the other mutants: introductions of Gambit and Deadpool among them – felt a little off.  Maybe it was the “character study” nature of the film.  Maybe it was me having to acknowledge creative alterations that have been done within the confines of the films (versus the decades of comics, etc.) that were just a little harder for me to swallow (compared to, say, the reworking of Trek).
Again, don’t get me wrong, both movies were done well, but if I had to see one again (and again, and again), it would be Star Trek, hands down.

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2008 Review – The last update…

As I mentioned, I have some notes regarding the cruise, and how it impacted by Reading and Viewing lists…

Books first…
I finished Gaiman’s Fragile Things, and it was a very good collection. There are a couple of notes that I made (while reading) that sparked some possible story ideas for me… based on a line, or image, and not a other support documents. (Right, you follow that?) Technically, I did not finish until after the 1st, but all things considered, I credited it towards 2008. (Last year’s holdovers actually had other books read at the same time, instead of being read straight through)…

Despite my hopes and plans for my travel reading (LOTS of airport time!), I only got through the one book while I was gone.

So, that brings the 2008 books read to: 23 (new), and 2 carry-overs.

Movies….

They were plentiful on the ship, with some being shown at night on a huge jumbotron-type screen, and others being shown on rotation onthe television channels. We watched several snippets of a lot of movies, and managed to add about a half-dozen to the “watched” list…

Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) – was handled better than I was expecting… an interesting twist on what has now become an almost cliche movie idea…

Kung Fu Panda (2008) – Also very good, with several subtle story points and ideas that can appeal across generations.

The Dark Knight (2008) – No, I did not see it during its (original) theatrical run (I hear there’s plans to bring it back out for a possible Oscar run for Heath Ledger)… But there was something really cool about watching it in the middle of the ocean, under a clear night sky… Very good movie, that lived up to most of the hype.

Hancock (2008) – Mixed reviews prompted me to avoid the theatrical run, but I thought the idea was very good. I thought the “really big plot twist” worked, but it also felt a little off by the end of the movie… that it went from being about “Hancock” to “Hancock and the others”… Not a bad movie, but I am kinda glad I didn’t try to take in the theatrical run…

There were snippets of other movies that were watched, but not the complete films, to mention some of them, and the fact that several will probably show up on the Netflix list at some point in the future: Baby Mama, Across the Universe, Sex and the City, Golden Compass, Juno, Devil Wears Prada, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Wall-E…

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2008 – Year in Review, part 3 (Movies)

Since I will be out of the country (and away from an internet connection) at the time the new year rolls in, I decided to start my “End of Year” reviews early. In this installment, I talk movies from the past year…

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) (N) – The movie made me interested enough to wonder how the book reads. Nice character work to keep events grounded in the confines of the ship.

Quantum of Solace (2008) (T) – Nice action sequences… I was a bit confused by exactly how soon after Casino Royale this was supposed to be taking place, but a good movie nonetheless.

Green Street Hooligans (2005) (N) – A bit violent at times, it is actually a good look a relationships in a sports-driven society, that can take things just a little too far.

Casino Royale (2006) (N) – Very nice “establishing” movie, and I liked the “hanging” ending… interested to see how Quantum picks it up…

21 (2008) (N) – Who doesn’t like poker movies? And a nice twist ending… and the lead is actually English!

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets (2007) (N) – Not quite as good as the first, but still pretty darn good.

Once (2006) (N) – Actually very good, and with an “indie” feel the way the shots worked out. Actually went looking up the other music by the leads.

The Miracle Match (2006) (N) – It’s USA soccer in 1951, preparing to face England in the first round of the World Cup…

Children of Men (2006) (N) – Interesting concept, with very dark events. The best part was Michael Caine

December Boys (2007) (N) – Actually very good. Almost a happier-premised “Stand by Me”, if such a thing is possible.

Bourne Ultimatum (2007) (N) – It’s Bourne, all over again. A solid action movie.

Rent (2005) (N) – Starring the original Broadway cast. Interested to see how the stage version and the movie compare…

The Human Stain (2003) (N) – Not sure if I would read the book, but an interesting character study…

Blow Dry (2001) (N) – Alan Rickman not playing a bad guy. And “Filch” not being “Filch”… and Josh Hartnett with an English accent?

Hellboy II:The Golden Army (2008) (T) – Much more fantastical than the first… The tooth-fairies were very hard to watch without squirming a bit.

Hellboy (2004) (N) – Nice action, interesting character twists.

The Hours (2002) (N) – Interesting way to twine three stories together. A very worthy award, Kidman disappeared in the role.

The Incredible Hulk (2008) (T) – I liked the “on the run” feel. I’m not saying the Ang Lee version was bad, but this one just felt more natural…

Hot Fuzz (2007) (again) – It’s a good, simple, action-oriented plot. With some interesting names popping up, and some new twists on old gags…

Iron Man (2008) (T) – Very nice. It would be very difficult to see anyone else as Tony Stark.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) (T) – It’s a good yarn. Not my favorite IJ movie, but not a complete failure, either.

The DaVinci Code (2006) – A relatively faithful adaptation, but the pacing in the book is better.

Passion of the Christ (2004) [Definitive (2007)] – Very aggressive and intense scenes. Worth seeing once, to truly appreciate the events.

Brokeback Mountain (2005) – I actually liked the pace of the story, and the interplay of the relationships over time.

Henry V (1989) (N) – One of Branagh’s early Shakespeare movies… and I was surprised to realize how many others I recognized, including Christian Bale.

Lolita (1962) – Kubrick established that he likes handling questionable ideas. Makes me interested in reading “that book by Nabakov” to see how close the translation…

A Clockwork Orange (1971) (again) – I actually like the film, still… more for the themes than the images, but I wonder what it would have been like if the last chapter HAD been in Kubrick’s copy.

Bonnie & Clyde (1967) – Very forward (for it’s time) in terms of voicing character quirks (ED) and violence (the final gun fight).

Citizen Kane (1941) – Interesting film for camera & editing techniques, as well as showing different aspects of the central character. Out of the context for it’s time, though, much of the controversy it saw when it was first released is lost.

Birth of a Nation (1915) – Considering the work itself – a very good movie (technically) for it’s day – with smoke staging during combat scenes to make things bigger than they actually were, and using close ups, intercuts and camera angles – cutting edge stuff in 1915. The story lines, though, leave a lot to be desired, especially in the 2nd half. And the entirety runs for three-hours.

Grapes of Wrath (1940) – A watered down version of the book, spun just enough to make it past censors…

V is for Vendetta (2006) (N) – Made me curious to read the graphic novel, as well as the history of Guy Fawkes. “Remember, remember, the 5th of November…”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) (again) – Always a fun watch, even if a lot of the book is left out.

Freaks (1932) – Short by modern standards, but something that would easily fit into the Twilight Zone or Tales from the Darkside. And the Carnies are real.

Private Eyes (1980) (N) – I have never been to the Biltmore House, where the movie was filmed. MC suggested I watch it, just for the scenic value of the estate.

Sweeny Todd (2007) (T) – I had seen a campus production of the stage show. Would have liked some of the other songs (at least the lyrics for the opening) to be there. Some of the blood was excessive (but expected), and I like the “romantic quality” of the movie ending over the extra steps of the stage ending.

Peaceful Warrior (2006) (N) – Nice, with a feeling afterwards like Rocky…

Shopgirl (2005) (N) – I had read the book, and the movie helped a few details fall into place – like how to interpret Jeremy.

The Benchwarmers (2006) (N) – A fun comedy, that flows well.

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Movies…

This past weekend was a busy movie weekend… finally watched the two movies that had been sitting on the mantle, waiting to be viewed so they could be sent back… (Once and Miracle Match)… I enjoyed both, and would recommend them if you IMDB/Netflix them and realize if they might be up your alley.

There was another movie, though, that was brought into the house this weekend that we also watched. After viewing my queue, turns out I had it listed (way, way down on my list…. somewhere near the #200th item in my queue)… So, in a convoluted way I get to strike another line off of my queue. Yeah…

The third film (which, was actually the first one watched over the weekend), was Children of Men. Overall it was a decent enough movie, and the storyline/premise was interesting enough, but there are some scenes that I could have either done without, or at least leving details as “inferred”. The favorite moments in the film actually feature Micheal Caine – sporting a very “late Beatles John Lennon” look… I would suggest this with this warning… some of the violence that bubbles up, while plausible for the story, could be difficult to watch after a while…

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