Category Archives: Movies

Epic Fantasies

So, after four straight weeks of binging through Seasons 5, 6, 7, and the start of Season 8 of Game of Thrones, we’re now up to date and ready to watch the last two episodes with the rest of the world.

I won’t say much about GOT except to say that they have the most villainous villains I have ever even conceived of. And I love Arya Stark more than I think any fictional character that I’ve ever seen. Except for possibly Ripley. Possibly.

While “processing” the latest from GOT 8-4 tonight and heading to my office to get some work done, I found “The Princess Bride” on one of the premium cable channels. I’m pretty sure somewhere along the line in the last few years here I’ve described it as one of those movies that I’ll watch any time at the drop of  a hat. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it recently.

Again, watching it tonight, I’m struck by just how perfect it is. As many times as I’ve seen it, I can’t find a single scene or line of dialogue that isn’t pristine.

More significantly, to see it just after seeing the last couple of GOT episodes… Similar themes and settings, knights, castles, swords, horses, bad guys who are really bad, good guys who are really good, and so on. But what radically different worlds!

Finally, in the category of “You See Something New Every Time You Watch It,” (for $2,000, Alex!), I just noticed that the music was done by Mark Knopfler.

Wait, what?

THAT, Mark Knopfler? Dire Straights’ Mark Knopfler? “Sultans of Swing” Mark Knopfler?

Yep.

Gobsmacked.

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Reminds Me Of Someone

Some nights I just don’t have the right feel for music to keep me company while I work, and silence is not really golden, so I’ll see if there’s something to turn on the idiot box that might be background noise. Not as easy as you think – in many cases it’s still “10,000 channels and nothing on.”

Tonight I got lucky. “Dune” was just starting. I had forgotten just how bizarre and occasionally wonderful David Lynch’s “Dune” (1984) was.

I had first read “Dune” in 1973 in high school, about eight years after it had been published. I was enthralled with the book, but at the time figured it would never be made into a movie since the technology wasn’t even close to being sufficient. That said, by 1984 it still wasn’t quite there, but it was close enough for Lynch to give it a damn good try. I think he hit a lot of the high points about the mystique and power politics of the book, but with a book of that density there was of course so much that had to be left out.

Especially over the top in Lynch’s version was Kenneth McMillan’s portrayal of Baron Vladamir Harkonnen. It’s so far over the top that it’s never been a favorite piece of the movie for me. But tonight I noticed something. Maybe it’s because I haven’t watched it in a year or two.

Baron Vladamir Harkonnen.

Evil incarnate.

Batshit crazy insane.

Diseased and grotesque.

A 100% complete megalomaniac, self-obsessed and narcissistic.

Not to mention the extremely orange skin tones and bizarre orange hairdo.

It reminds me of someone…

Maybe Lynch was a bit more prescient than we give him credit for.

So the next time you’re cussing out that certain prominent politician for being a complete freakin’ idiot, instead be grateful! If he had two brain cells to rub together he might be this guy!

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Groundhog Day

Simple statement – “Groundhog Day” is a perfect movie.

I just realize this might be the only movie I’ve seen more than the original “Star Wars,” and I was one of those kids who saw it over fifty times just in the theater. But I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if I have seen “Groundhog Day” more times now.

Bill Murray – perfect. His every expression given the circumstances and timing. His growth and change through the movie. The ups. The downs. The enlightenment.

Andie MacDowell – perfect.

The concept – simple. The execution – eloquent.

Go ahead. Prove me wrong. Name one thing wrong, one scene that doesn’t click, one missed beat or missed step.

I triple dog dare you.

“Groundhog Day” is a perfect movie.

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Things I’m Relearning This Weekend

First – I’m still not ready for Henry Blake to not make it home.

Second – I’m still not ready for Will Hunting to tell Skylar that he doesn’t love her.

Third – I’m still not ready for Wash to be a leaf on the wind.

Fourth – There must be a hell of a lot of pollen in the air this weekend. Or smoke. Or tear gas.

How’s your July going?

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Filed under Movies, Paul

Signs & Portents Where You Can Find Them

We went and saw “Rogue One” (wonderful, but darker than normal for the franchise) and “La La Land” (outstanding, fun, and the opening 7-1/2 minute tracking shot musical dance number is amazing, so don’t get there late!) and then saw this after grabbing some dinner.

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It might not be up there as a “Noah on Mt. Ararat” class rainbow, but I’m not going to be picky right now. Pretty is pretty and there’s way too much gloom and doom lurking about out there.

I hope that each of you found some light and beauty somewhere today. And tomorrow, too.

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They Crossed A Line

The Long-Suffering Wife is addicted to Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. She watches the Valentine’s Day love stories (which start about January 2nd) and the June wedding love stories (which start about February 15th) and the Halloween love stories (which start July 1st)… You get the picture. But while she watches those, she’s addicted to the Christmas movies.

This is no doubt better than being addicted to crack cocaine or heroin (I guess it’s sort of being addicted to heroine?) but some of these movies can make me question just how much better.

I end up watching bits and pieces of many (most?) of them because, while they certainly wouldn’t be my first choice for viewing, I like spending some time every night with my wife (go figure!) and I can get some work done on my phone, tablet, or laptop while relegating the movie to background noise where possible.

My issue is usually that they’re just so predictable and formulaic. I can come in during the middle of one I’ve never seen and in 30 seconds or less say, “That’s the heroine who’s engaged to the successful but stuck up rich boy toy who doesn’t stand a chance against the flannel-wearing goofy funny good ol’ boy in the small town where she’s going to amazingly find a way to find the true meaning and save Christmas while also ending up under the mistletoe with flannel boy.”

There are occasionally mitigating factors that make the viewing less stressful for me. Alicia Witt. Lacey Chabert. Danica McKellar.

On the other hand, the other night there was “Journey Back To Christmas.”

I can ignore the really lame time travel story. I’ve been reading science fiction for well over fifty years. Sometimes time travel is done really well, sometimes it’s an excuse to take a really boring story and try to make it different, and everything in between. No matter, time travel? Meh.

No, it’s the incredibly bad depiction of a comet, a key plot point, that had me ready to throw things at the screen.

Folks, you don’t have to be an astronomer to know that comets don’t streak across the sky like fireworks for two minutes and then vanish. People don’t stand out in the village square at just the right moment and “there it is!” so cue the oohs, the aahs, the awe, the magic and there it goes!

Comets are typically seen months, if not years before they’re at their brightest. Look back and see how many months I tried to get decent pictures of Comet Lovejoy. They start out dim, way out in the far reaches of the solar system, gradually brighten as they get closer to the sun and start to boil off gasses, then dim again as they move back out into the depths of the solar system or interstellar space, frozen snowballs.

If they happen to get close enough to Earth at just the right time, which can happen a couple of times a century, a comet can be big, bright, and close to Earth. It will be news. It will be front page news for about two months beforehand and for months and months afterward.

These guys stumbled across a reference to it in an old diary or newspaper…

So, to recap:

  • Huge
  • Bright
  • Flashes across sky in a handful of minutes
  • Has a tail that stretches from horizon to horizon
  • They’re the only ones who know about it
  • They only know about it because they got lucky
  • One minute it’s not there, the next it is, then it’s gone again

What utter bullshit!

Friends, if a comet comes by that catches us that off-guard, it’s only doing so because it’s doing 0.9c, traveling just in front of its light wave. Let me tell you, if something that big is coming that close to Earth at 0.9c, it had better have Bruce Willis sitting on it with a nuke (or Robert Duvall – a better movie by far) or our ass is grass.

But if it’s passing by at 0.9c, it’s going from horizon to horizon in well under a second. There’s no way it has a tail – it never lingered near the sun close enough to start melting. And there’s most certainly no way that it’s periodic and coming back in 71 years. That sucker’s going to be fifty light-years past Alpha Centauri and outbound in 71 years.

Sappy story? No worries.

Stupid plot? Okay.

Half-drawn caricatures for characters? As expected.

Actors we recognize who really, really should be getting better roles? Hey, it’s a paycheck.

Time travel? It’s different for a Hallmark Christmas movie, but hey, isn’t “A Christmas Carol” sort of a time travel Christmas story as well?

But have a huge, key, major plot point revolve around getting 3rd grade astronomy so very, very wrong that there are ten-year olds watching and yelling, “What the hell is wrong with these freakin’ idiots??!!”

That’s when they crossed a line.

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Filed under Astronomy, Death Of Common Sense, Entertainment, Movies

Senior Discount

I took my first “senior discount” today.

I hadn’t expected it to happen for a while, since most of them are for folks 62 years and older, or maybe 65. But I was getting movie tickets and the senior discount applied to everyone 60 and over.

I was faced with a dilemma. On the one hand, four bucks is four bucks. That’s half of a soda once I’m in the theater! On the other hand, would taking the discount be the first chink in the armor of denial I had put up about my age?

Then I remembered that they give those discounts out because they expect people to be dead at 70 or 75. Maybe 80. But I have every intention of living to at least 150 or 175 – so the joke’s on them!

The movies were fine. So was the four bucks. As long as I don’t get hit by a bus or trampled by a herd of stampeding gnus (no gnus are good gnus!) in the next 90 years or so, my bet pays off.

Suckers!

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