December 31, 2003

2003 Year-End Wrap-Up

My Top Five for 2003: Finding Nemo, Seabiscuit, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Big Fish, and Master & Commander: Far Side of the World.

December 17, 2003

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

While The Divine Miss Em is going to the Lord of the Rings Marathon with Josh, Peter, and Angus in Worcester tomorrow night, I will be simultaneously attending The Return of the King at a 12:10am show in Randolph. I can't go Wednesday night as I have another obligation (all the evening shows are sold out already anyway). I almost cry with awe/joy at the Return of the King commercials, so I am sure the drama will make me weepy. Best wishes to Em and her Mini-Fellowship: May their 11 hour mission be memorable, in all the right ways. LOTR3

Tuesday Morning, December 16, 2003: The King Is Returning Tonight! The reviews are beginning to come in. By this time tomorrow, I will let you know if the movie met my impossibly high expectations. The fact that I got shivers from the TV spot, and almost cried during the theatrical trailer, means the whole shebang has a lot to live up to.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have a ticket to a 12:10am show at Randolph tonight, so after work, I'm headed home to feed and dress myself. I am considering taking what Em calls a "disco nap" (an afternoon nap in preparation for a long night). My receipt for my ticket says the movie is "The evening of Tuesday December 13th, 12:10am". I guess this is their odd way of clearing up any confusion over the date of the showing: Technically I am going to the movie on Wednesday...10 minutes into Wednesday, anyway. The theaters were also smart to start the shows at 12:05am, 12:10am, et cetera, instead of 12:00 midnight, because no one knows whether midnight is 12am or 12pm.

Return Of The King Now Playing; All Other Cinema Ceases To Matter I guess I'll go join the seminary now", a tearful Martin Scorsese reports

Tuesday Evening, December 16, 2003: Showcase Cinemas Randolph.
I never thought I'd say this, but whoever handled the crowds at the theater did a fantastic job. They seemed to reserve at least one more theater than they technically needed to hold everyone who bought a ticket (I think there were six theaters showing The Return of the King). They herded everyone into TensaBarrier pens (you could almost hear the mooing and bleating). Then, they filled a theater to mostly-full (the front two rows were vacant) and then started directing the next pen to the next vacant theater. It didn't matter which showtime or theater number was printed on your ticket. Long-story-short: I sat exactly where I wanted to, and I had an empty seat next to me.

The best movie of the year by a long trebuchet shot, and the finest battle sequences ever filmed. The movie was as good as a non-mind-reading movie director could make. What I mean is, one key sequence was not shot the way I imagined it, and he made several choices that I would not have, but Peter Jackson is a magician and a hobbit, not a clairvoyant. However, the second-most critical scene was shot exactly the way I imagined: possibly the scariest monster sequence I have ever seen. My right thumb is beyond the nail, down to the bone thanks to Shelob.

Some critics have complained that the dénouement is waayyy to long. I disagree: when you're dealing with an epic story, it takes more than 30 seconds to wrap things up. I am a firm believer in not telling audiences too much, and I love ambiguity, but there is no place for ambiguity in the end of The Lord Of The Rings.

SIDE NOTE: I still haven't figured out one possible gaffe-- How does Shelob stab/poison Frodo through his special Elven mithril vest? We see the orcs examine his possessions, including the vest, while he's comatose. I guess it's possible that the end of the stinger is so sharp, that it would pass between the links of the vest?

My Father Reviews The Return Of The King

I'm sorry to say we were disappointed. The special effects are wonderful, but the acting was wooden, and a lot of the details were strange (e.g. -- in the days of swords and castles, you couldn't make large holes in the wall with a ballista or catapult, or even, in 1812, with big cannon, and, if you could, why bother to break down the gates?

You wouldn't even think about charging the elephant beasts with light cavalry. Cavalry is effective against infantry because of its shock value, as the first charge proved -- you can ride through and over an infantry line that an opposing infantry couldn't touch. You wouldn't, however, charge the elephants -- you'd use the speed and mobility of the light cavalry to harass them from the rear. As Legolas showed, subtlety wins over them, not brute force. This is not just Dad having his usual suspension of disbelief issues -- I'm happy to suspend disbelief and have the dead walking, Mordor drowning in lava, and everything else -- but I don't see a dramatic necessity for being stupid with real technology -- you simply wouldn't build castle walls that could be knocked down by the first shot from an existing weapon.

I also missed the whole scouring of the Shire at the end -- the movie seems to believe that the Shire managed to go through these difficult times with absolutely no changes - the book did it much better. Also disappointing was the Merry/Pippin comedy team. While the book shows them as a little impulsive, they were never the low comedy they become in the movie.

So, I will be surprised if it does much at the Oscars, except for the ancillary awards. Certainly none of the acting awards; while Elijah Wood did a creditable job, I can't see the Academy giving Best Actor to a Hobbit, and none of the other people deserve it.

All I'll say in response to Dad's points on the technology of warfare is: Drama is more important than accuracy. I will agree that the scouring of the Shire would have been good to include, but once you add that, you're increasing the length of the film to four hours, and that's too long. Plus, people who haven't read the books are expecting the movie to end promptly after the ring is destroyed. All the complaints about the multiple endings are proof it's already too long for restless viewers who haven't read the books. Remember, the films have to be entertaining movies first, and faithful adaptations second.

On the Merry/Pippin issue, I thought the scene on the toppled wall of Isengard, with the silly welcomes, and Gimli's ire, was right on target. I remember laughing out loud at that passage in the book- all that running in Two Towers, all for nothing!

December 12, 2003

Scrooged

I have always loved this movie, and when I get a chance to see it on TV, it's always so...segmented. When I saw it on AMC in 2015 it was chopped up with commercials and cut to ribbons to make it shorter too! My love for Scrooged deserves a theatrical exhibition. When Emily and I went to see Love Actually at the AMC Fenway, I noticed that the theater was showing Scrooged at midnight that night, so I stuck around afterwards and caught the midnight show.
2015 Update: Watching it again on AMC, I finally noticed that Frank gives Claire Ginsu steak knives for Christmas not only because he's a guy, but also because Ginsu knives are advertised on TV and all Frank does is watch TV.
2016 Update: I finally bought Scrooged (on Amazon) because the TV version cuts out stuff, and it seems silly to rent it once for $4 when I could buy it for $7. This time I noticed:
When the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Frank back to The Frisbee Show on the night Claire breaks up with him, there are several shots of Murray silently realizing where he is and a sinking, sad, regretful look crosses his face. The first-time viewer does not know yet that 1970s Frank is about to let the love of his life slip away, but these moments show off Murray's quiet, subtle performance in a movie where he mostly plays big for laughs.

Love Actually

loveactuallyRomantic and emotional. All of my favorite English actors in one movie. Rewatching the movie in 2015, I really appreciated what an amazing job Emma Thompson does in her role, especially when she has a mini-meltdown in the bedroom (set to Joni Mitchell's "Two Sides Now") and again when she confronts her husband (Alan Rickman) - when she asks him "should I stay or should I go?" the look on her face as she waits for his response is a powerful mix of anger and sadness.
(November 29, 2003: Loews Church St, Cambridge, and again on December 12, 2003: AMC Fenway)

December 11, 2003

93 and 94: Whitfield Roommates


I composed, burned, and packaged these two mixes at the same time.
The Cover: I used a photo of my girlfriend and her two roommates for the cover, because they looked vaguely like a lo-fi indie rock trio. I gave the two mixes titles from random quotes of the week which I have totally forgotten.
Mix 93: Critical Darlings of Your Choice
  1. Supercollider | Fountains of Wayne
  2. Planet Telex | Radiohead
  3. Sweet Emotion | Aerosmith
  4. School Of Rock | From the School of Rock movie soundtrack.
  5. Sink The Pink | This AC/DC song is here because the guitar riff on the SoR song sounds so similar.
  6. In The Street | Big Star
  7. The Banana Splits Song | From a CD collection of covers of Saturday morning children's cartoons.
  8. Set You Free | The first Black Keys song I ever heard, from the School Of Rock soundtrack; I loved them from the very beginning. "Who is this band that sounds like Jimi Hendrix?"
  9. So Whatcha Want | Beastie Boys
  10. I'm An Adult Now | An old college buddy of mine claims to have been childhood penpals with Moe Berg, the lead singer of The Pursuit of Happiness.
  11. Gentlemen | When I was interning at WFNX in 1993-94, I met Afghan Whigs lead singer Greg Dulli.
  12. Love Comes And Goes | My special edition DVD of Almost Famous came with a four-track CD of Sweetwater songs.
  13. I'll Wait | Van Halen
  14. God Put a Smile Upon Your Face | Coldplay
  15. Guns Of Brixton | The Clash
  16. Burning Down The House | The Talking Heads Live at the Pantages Theatre, Hollywood December 1983
  17. Thorns | The Thorns
  18. Photograph | Def Leppard
Mix 94: Wild, Unexpected, and Altogether Memorable
The same cover photo, just cropped slightly differently.
  1. Good Vibrations | The Beach Boys
  2. Running Out Of Time | Joan Osbourne
  3. Mississippi | Sheryl Crow
  4. Gotta Serve Somebody | This Bob Dylan song, from his "re-born Christian" phase, had been recently featured on the closing credits of The Sopranos.
  5. Go West | Liz Phair
  6. Two of Us | The Beatles
  7. Red-Eyed and Blue | Wilco
  8. Maria's Beautiful Mess | Ellis Paul
  9. Angeles | Elliot Smith
  10. Please Forgive Me | David Gray
  11. A Sort of Homecoming | U2
  12. Clocks | Coldplay
  13. Still Be Around | Uncle Tupelo
  14. I Started A Joke | The Wallflowers covering the Bee Gees on the Zoolander soundtrack.
  15. I Can't Go For That (No Can Do) | Hall & Oates
  16. Valley Winter Song | Fountains of Wayne
  17. Sara | Fleetwood Mac
  18. Tangerine | Led Zeppelin


November 27, 2003

Master & Commander: The Far Side Of The World

masterBest movie of the year. Excting, thrilling, dramatic, emotional, authentic. If it weren't for the presence of Return of the King, this would be the Best Picture Oscar winner. (November 14, 2003: Landmark Embassy Cinema Waltham; November 27, 2003: Loews Church St. Cambridge)

November 25, 2003

West Side Story

westsidestoryVery impressive. Great music, good dancing, bad makeup, wonderful location shooting, only about 10 min too long. (Brattle Theater)

November 7, 2003

Mystic River

Everything I hoped it would be. While Sean Penn is getting all the attention for his performance, I found Tim Robbins to be fantastic, and Kevin Bacon does a great job too. I found aspects of the plot a little implausible. (Landmark Embassy Cinema Waltham)

Stub Hubby Reviews The Depressing Boston Film Festival


November 6, 2003

The Adventures of Robin Hood

theadventuresofrobinhoodThis film looks gorgeous, as good as the restoration of The Wizard of Oz. The movie still holds up 65 years later thanks to robust action and comedy, and an active, moving camera, many years ahead of its time. (Brattle Theater)

November 5, 2003

The Matrix Revolutions

matrix3See my combined review of the two Matrix sequels, below (May 2003)... (Loews Methuen at the Loop)

November 1, 2003

Alien: The Director's Cut

An amazing poster image, even though
that's not what the eggs look like
in the movie, and there's no
green spark either?
I've loved this movie since I was a kid, it's one of the first and most powerful scary movies I saw in my formative years. A brilliant combination of serious "hard" science fiction and haunted house horror, the facehugger and xenomorph are the essential movie monsters of the 1980s. The additions for the Director's Cut really enhance the film, which is rare for director's cuts, which all too often add bloat to an already quality film. (AMC Fenway with Jon, Paris, Michelle & Hal, and Todd & Danielle.)
Stub Hubby Reviews Ridley Scott

October 24, 2003

Lost In Translation

I went to see Lost In Translation last night, then several Blue Moon Belgian Whites at the Coolidge Corner Clubhouse.
Let's tackle these in reverse order: The CCC is a great place for drinks and food. It's an authentic sports bar, not one of these soulless franchises that feel as if they come from an assembly line: "GO _insert_local_team_name_here_!"
CCC is very small, with TVs everywhere, so you can see the game wherever you are sitting or standing. I was glad to be there on a travel day for The World Series. Like the rest of New England, I have been avoiding the Series. I am trying not to get too excited- How do New York fans get excited about a team which has been in 40% of all World Series since 1921, and won 72% of those? It's just depressing.
The Blue Moon Belgian was good- I just don't understand why bartenders try to put lemon in it. I only take citrus products in Corona beer, and that's strictly between Independence Day and Labor Day.

Lost In Translation was exactly what I expected, and all I'd hoped for. It's a small, inconsequential movie, and I don't mean either of those adjectives in a bad way. Writer/director Sofia Coppola has captured a small, specific niche of human existence and made a thoughtful, heartfelt feature film about it.

Past-peak movie star Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and just-graduated, and just-married Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) are stuck in Tokyo, and lost in their own lives. Bob knows what he wants to do with his life but doesn't know how, and Charlotte doesn't know what she wants and doesn't know what to do about it. Coppola very effectively uses this completely foreign city as a perfect metaphor for isolation and confusion. Bob and Charlotte both need a sympathetic presence in their lives for a few days, and Coppola describes and shows us this unique three-day relationship perfectly. There's no defining what they are for each other, and neither the characters nor Coppola try to. There is only the slightest hint of sexuality in their relationship (Johansson was born around the time Murray was getting slimed in Ghostbusters), and that hint is very tastefully done. A good ending is always important to me, and I appreciated the non-Hollywood resolution. (Loews Church St)



October 19, 2003

Covered Road

My all-time favorite artist fits any occasion: The Beatles. The challenge is to find Beatles songs which haven't been played to death. One of the ways I make their music fresh is with cover versions. I collect covers of Beatles songs. Whenever I go yard sale-ing, and I find a carton of LPs, I scan track lists for Beatles titles.

  1. "A Hard Day's Night" John Bayliss (in the style of Bach)
  2. "I Call Your Name" The Mamas & Papas
  3. "Two of Us" Aimee Mann & Michael Penn
  4. "I Will" Tony Furtado & Alison Krauss
  5. "The Ballad of John & Yoko" The Persuasions
  6. "The Miser/Taxman" The Deighton Family
  7. "Here Comes The Sun" Nina Simone
  8. "I'll Be On My Way" Johnny Society
  9. "Don't Let Me Down" Paul Weller
  10. "Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me & My Monkey" Kristen Hersh
  11. "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?" Lydia Lunch
  12. "Tomorrow Never Knows" Five O'Clock Shadow
  13. "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" World Party
  14. "Girl" Tiny Tim with Brave Combo
  15. "All I've Got To Do" Toxic Audio
  16. "We Can Work It Out" Stevie Wonder
  17. "Day Tripper" [live] Otis Redding with the Mar-Keys and Booker T. & The MGs
  18. "I've Got A Feeling" [live] Pearl Jam
  19. "With a Little Help From My Friends" [live] Joe Cocker
  20. "Being for The Benefit of Mr. Kite" Les Miserables Brass Band

October 18, 2003

Kill Bill Volume 1 & School of Rock

bill-rockA nearly unprecedented event: Two movies in a row which aren't a double feature. Kill Bill feels like it was filmed in Quentin Tarantino's pleasure center. "Tributes" or "homages" to your favorite old movies cease to have any meaning to your viewing public when
  1. You love every movie you've ever seen
  2. No one but you "gets" all the references you're making anyways.
School of Rock is still hilarious the second time around- I noticed some nice subtle moments from Jack Black this time. (Showcase Cinemas Woburn)

October 10, 2003

Intolerable Cruelty

A spot-on screwball comedy, but the Coen brothers seem to be more interested in being wry, ironic, and eccentric than showing any emotional involvement. We never feel like the characters are really in love, and we never see Catherine Zeta-Jones even pretend to fall in love. Great costumes, and wonderful supporting performances. (AMC Fenway)

October 6, 2003

School Of Rock

schoolHysterically funny. I almost passed out from laughing so hard at one point. Also sweet and heartwarming without being saccharine. Jack Black only takes his shirt off twice. The crowd at Loews Boston Common loved every second of it.

October 2, 2003

92: Missing Summer

I based the cover photo on one of my favorite photos of the E Street Band, circa 1980, on Central Park South. I Photoshopped Max Weinberg out of the group and inserted a photo of myself in a tuxedo between Clarence Clemons and Roy Bittan.
I named the CD "Missing Summer" because it was recorded in the fall of 2003, near the end of a six-month period where my future wife and I were on a break.
1/You Wreck Me TOM PETTY
2/Couldn't I Just Tell You TODD RUNDGREN
3/Any Major Dude Will Tell You - A fun cover of the Steely Dan song by WILCO.
4/Barrytown STEELY DAN
5/The Night Is Still Young - One of those new songs added to a greatest hits collection because a>the label can push it as a single to radio to promote the album, and b> it's an incentive for true fans to re-buy music they already own. In this case, it's one of two songs added to one of the best-selling greatest hits collections ever, from BILLY JOEL.
6/It's Different For Girls(Live in London 9/02) JOE JACKSON BAND
7/Into Your Arms THE LEMONHEADS
8/Red Dragon Tattoo FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE
9/Heart & Soul HUEY LEWIS & THE NEWS
10/Workin' On The Highway BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN (Live at Giants Stadium 8/19/85)
11/Maybellene CHUCK BERRY
12/Run Through The Jungle CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL
13/I Feel You DEPECHE MODE
14/Going To California LED ZEPPELIN
15/Can't Find My Way Home BLIND FAITH
16/Try Not To Breathe R.E.M.
17/Beercan BECK
18/Losing Lisa BEN FOLDS
19/Where Do They Make Balloons? THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS (sung by DANNY WEINKAUF)
20/H.W.C. LIZ PHAIR

September 27, 2003

Pirates Of The Carribean: Curse Of The Black Pearl

potccotbpFinally a summer popcorn movie which delivers exactly what I was expecting. Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush are delightful, the effects are perfectly executed, there are a couple of truly scary scenes. But shouldn't it be called Curse Of The Aztec Gold? doesn't "Curse Of" mean "Curse From" not "Cursed Upon"? (August 15: Danvers MA, and September 27: Showcase Cinemas Seekonk RI)

September 21, 2003

Once Upon a Time in Mexico

ouatimThere are too many characters, and it's impossible to tell who's zooming who. This renders the plot incomprehensible. Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas are barely in it. Johnny Depp steals the whole movie. Robert Rodriguez was the cinematographer, editor, composer, writer, producer, and director. Perhaps his movies would benefit from some teamwork? Perhaps his ideas are asphyxiating in this vacuum?

Trailer Notes: I saw the trailer for In The Cut - apparently Meg Ryan has a dangerous sexual tryst with a cop played by Mark Ruffalo?! Who keeps casting this shambling, gnomish doofus opposite tall gazelle types? First Gwyneth Paltrow in View from the Top, and now Meg Ryan? Somebody pair him up with Janeane Garofalo, quick! (Digital Projection, Loews Boston Common)

September 18, 2003

Finding Nemo

I finally see Nemo in a movie theater, just in the nick of time, too. And I'm glad I did- it's the best movie of the year so far. Pixar has made their best-looking, funniest, and most emotional movie yet. I didn't cry at the beginning- I was in denial that his whole family was wiped out. I was near tears at the end, though.finding

Casting: Geoffrey Rush as a pelican was perfect. The voice of Bruce the Shark was Barry Humphries, aka Dame Edna Everage; Who was so brilliant to think of asking Willem Dafoe to be a voice in a fish movie? Ellen Degeneres was delightful all the way through. Allison Janney (as the starfish bought on eBay): "That was the shortest red light I've ever seen!" I think they're overusing John Ratzenberger (Hamm in Toy Story, P.T. Flea in A Bug's Life, the Yeti in Monsters, Inc, and now the Fish School). Jacques reminds me of Muppet Pepe the Prawn, okay?

Favorite animation choice: Giving the sharks eyes with whites, UNTIL Bruce smells blood, then the pupil fills the whole eyeball. Very creepy!

Favorite Bit Part: Lobsters with a Boston accent! (Somerville Theater)

August 19, 2003

Rear Window

rearWhat a treat to see this with someone who had never seen it before (my friend Michelle)- it makes the whole movie fresh for me. Plus, the whole audience was totally into it. Michelle loved Grace Kelly and her great outfits. (Brattle Theater, back row of the balcony)

August 3, 2003

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

tgtbatuI'm glad I finally saw this movie. However, the restored edition, with 20 extra minutes, was at least 20 minutes too long. Plus, the Ennio Morricone soundtrack was super-corny and distracting. Its tough when your score becomes iconic-- everyone was giggling at the famous theme music. (Brattle Theater)

July 26, 2003

Seabiscuit

seabiscuitMotion pictures were invented to film horses racing. Seabiscuit is the best film of the year so far. (Framingham Premium Cinema)

July 25, 2003

Adam's Rib

adamsDelightful comedy. Forget about Ben & J.Lo-- Tracy & Hepburn are in the Cinema Dictionary under "onscreen chemistry".

July 20, 2003

91: Life During Wartime

I found the super-hi-res photo of Liz Phair as a free download on her official Web site. I had the Iraq war and the Patriot Act on the brain at the time, hence the title, and Liz's Army rucksack fit the theme.
  1. YOU'RE MY BEST FRIEND | QUEEN
  2. STEP INSIDE LOVE | KATE PIERSON & JOHNNY SOCIETY From a fascinating collection of Lennon/McCartney covers, but NOT Beatle songs, but songs John and Paul gave away to other artists.
  3. A MAGAZINE CALLED SUNSET | From the Australia EP available for free download at the offical WILCO Web site.
  4. JUST ANOTHER | PETE YORN
  5. HUMPTY DUMPTY | AIMEE MANN
  6. IT LOOKS LIKE YOU | EVAN DANDO
  7. PEG | STEELY DAN
  8. STARFISH AND COFFEE | PRINCE
  9. BOMBS AWAY | THE POLICE
  10. LIFE DURING WARTIME | TALKING HEADS Live at the Pantages Theater, Hollywood; December 1983
  11. KING OF BIRDS | R.E.M.
  12. DRAGONFLY | THE THORNS
  13. I'M GONNA MAKE YOU LOVE ME | THE JAYHAWKS
  14. THE COMMON KISS | JOHN WESLEY HARDING
  15. OUR LOVE | RHETT MILLER
  16. "ROCK ME" | I saw Liz Phair perform this song live on tour the following month at Avalon.
  17. BYE BYE LOVE | THE CARS
  18. AWKWARD AGE | JOE JACKSON BAND
  19. MAKING PLANS FOR NIGEL | XTC
  20. JANE SAYS | JANE'S ADDICTION (LIVE)
  21. FIGHT THE POWER | Yes, it's a cover of the Public Enemy song by BARENAKED LADIES

July 8, 2003

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle

charlies2It's not as charming or spontaneous as the first, and they make up for it with more action, violence, and suspension of the laws of physics. BONUS: There are too many cameos which bloat the narrative. (Loews Boston Common)

July 5, 2003

X2: X-Men United

Better than the first one. Very brainy superhero movie. The kid playing Iceman looks like someone ran over his cat for the whole film. The second show was an important visit to air conditioning on a humid weekend. (May 3 and July 5; Somerville Theater)

July 3, 2003

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde

legally2Funny and silly for the first two thirds- then the last third was deadly boring. (with my friend Michelle at Loews Boston Common)

June 21, 2003

HULK

hulkThe first 30 minutes of this movie are punishingly boring. Finally the Hulk appears 44 minutes into the film. The Hulk-out sequences are fantastic, but those scenes are buried in a overly brainy and symbolic lost-father nature-versus-nurture Oedipal mess. The movie was so deep I felt like seeing Armageddon afterwards to let my brain rest.
Theater Notes: My brother and I saw this, appropriately, on the Green Monster screen at AMC Fenway. A woman had brought her infant with her, and she sat three-quarters of the way back, in the middle of her row. How do I know this? Because when the baby started crying, she had to stand up, excuse herself down her entire row, walk all the way down to the front of the theater, and then U-turn and walk out the exit tunnel to the lobby. This crying-baby adventure took maybe 30 seconds. When the baby was calmed down, she returned, but then later on, she repeated the whole trip again when the baby cried again. We have a social covenant 21st century society: if you have infant children, you cannot take them to the movies. Period. Either rent a DVD or pay for a sitter. Period. The rest of us in the theater paid $10 to watch a 2 hour movie with adults in complete silence. I occasionally will see an animated movie or a Harry Potter film where parents bring their young children, children who haven't quite got the "no talking" rule down yet. This drives me nuts too, but at least the children are there for the movie, not crying in the arms of a parent who thinks parenting rules don't apply to them.

June 19, 2003

Bram Stoker's Dracula

I have always been a fan of this Dracula movie- I love the all-star cast, the melodramatic romance, then old-fashioned special effects, and the lurid color scheme. I like Gary Oldman in just about everything (see below), Winona Ryder is very close to my heart, and Keanu is just brilliantly miscast.(Brattle Theater)

ALSO by Gary Oldman on STUB HUBBY:

081 The Borelli Mix

Named after a work colleague who loaned me some CDs...or I borrowed them from his desk without asking, I forget! I think I started with placing "Heavy Metal Drummer" and "1979" next to each other and grew the mix from there.
  1. "Rebecca" Pat McGee Band; a complete throwback to the days of Mellow Gold and Yacht Rock.
  2. "Grey Street" Dave Matthews Band, from the oft-bootlegged Lillywhite Sessions that preceded the release of the album Everyday
  3. "Spooky Girlfriend" Elvis Costello
  4. "Huffer" In 2002 I was so happy that The Breeders released a new album I didn't notice it wasn't very good right away.
  5. "Hate to Say I Told You So" The Hives
  6. "Ride" Liz Phair
  7. "Two Of Us" Aimee Mann & Michael Penn; it's great hearing a real-life couple sing this duet. The original Paul and John duet always felt like it was written for Paul to sing with his wife Linda?
  8. "La Cienega Just Smiled" Ryan Adams
  9. "She Cries Your Name" Beth Orton
  10. "Not The Same" Ben Folds
  11. "Baby Seat" Barenaked Ladies
  12. "Stage Fright" The Band
  13. "My Old Friend" John Hiatt and Bruce Springsteen are contemporaries, and Hiatt has recorded in many rock styles, but this song sounds especially Springsteen-ian.
  14. "Sodajerk" Buffalo Tom
  15. "Heavy Metal Drummer" Wilco
  16. "1979" Smashing Pumpkins
  17. "The Bends" Radiohead: There are Beatles fans and Elvis fans, Wilma fans and Betty fans, and Bends fans and OK Computer fans. You can like both, but everyone likes one more than the other. I am a Bends fan.
  18. "Out There" Blake Babies
  19. "Rolling Down The Hill" The Rembrandts; Rolling down, indeed! This mix totally sputters to a halt; I never should have forced this song in here.
  20. "You Don't Know Me" Tracy Bonham

June 13, 2003

The Italian Job

Pretty sure this voids your manufacturer's warranty.
Check your owner's manual for details.
If you ignore the impossibility of carrying $27 million in gold in three Mini Coopers, you'll have fun in this slick, easygoing caper.

Theater Note: This was my last-time-ever visit to Showcase Cinemas Revere. My friend Paris and I had to leave the screening 5 minutes into the film, because a group of young women would not stop talking. When I loudly shushed them, the alpha dog replied "Don't you be shushin' me!" Of course, in a world where justice prevails, they'd be the ones who'd be forced to leave. Instead, Paris and I walked out, complained at the service desk, and got tickets for the next show. Unfortunately, the next screening was at 12:55 a.m., so we were at the theater into the wee hours of the dawn. Never again!

Nine Years Later: 2012 DVD Re-Review: I've seen bits and pieces of this movie on cable (it's the new Shawshank Redemption of basic cable), and enjoyed the empty calories, so I bought it at a yard sale for a dollar. Still a fun, slick, and inconsequential ride. Tight script, with a nice twist at the end of the second act, and the threat of the third party (Ukranian mobsters) was well crafted- similar to the presence of the FBI in The Sting.
I was surprised how mild the movie was. It's a PG-13 movie, so the language is required to be soft, but there's also very little violence. Two men get shot, but there's no blood. Also, happy to see no sex scene with Charlize Theron. She's in her underwear twice, both totally gratuitously, but no sex. I appreciated that Jason Statham's "Handsome Rob" does not sexualize her- instead, he doesn't trust her on the team from the very beginning, which was a nice reversal.Two Thursday-night comedy actors in bit parts: Scott Adsit (30 Rock) as a broke actor prepping for an audition while waiting for a red light; and Oscar Nunez (The Office) in a non-comedic role as a security guard.
The other impossibility? Surviving the truck crash into freezing water. There is zero chance of our gang staying submerged for a minute or two in that water, crawling out onto the shore, hitching a ride, and NOT dying of hypothermia. Didn't we all just see Titanic?
The music score is very turn-of-the-millennium. I was also amused at the title sequence- weren't title sequences passe even in 2003?
 The Italian Job official website is still live, and worth a peek for the 2003 nostalgia value. Also available as a No-Flash Version.

June 8, 2003

Bruce Almighty

bruceI laughed more during the opening credit sequence than I do in most other comedies altogether. Beyond the first half, a pretty pedestrian movie. Essentially a rewrite of Liar Liar, which I also enjoyed. (AMC Fenway)

May 27, 2003

Down With Love

downFunny, silly, and smart, all at once! I found the ending of the film quite tedious, but I think that was part of the point. (Loews Church St, Harvard Square)

May 25, 2003

The Godfather, Parts I and II

"Now who's being naive, Kay?"
Funniest scene in Part I is when Michael sends his bodyguard to get Apollonia's father: he picks up his shotgun first...(Brattle Theater, May 23 and 25)

May 17, 2003

The Matrix Reloaded

Big sprawling sequel. Wonderful in many ways, although I got a bit of "kung-fu fatigue" by the end. The second show was on the IMAX screen at the New England Aquarium. Great sound, and a screen so big I was counting every pock on Laurence Fishburne's face...

matrix2The EKW Review: I liked Reloaded very much, even though (d'oh!) I ran out to the ladies' room during Cornel West's cameo, dang. I loved the way they make references in simultaneously subtle and obvious ways, and how they change elements of the material they allude to so it fits the story better...like the Persephone character, for one. That "death by chocolate/chocolate orgasm" joke was brilliant...as was the "Freud is God" Architect character...everyone else thought the Zion-rave scene was too long and boring, but I loved it. I would've cut out the conversation between Neo and that folksy-leprechaun-counselor guy, with the George Lucas-ian wardrobe. I loved the whole long sequence on top of the truck, such a great play on the stock "battle atop a speeding train". I just liked looking at the hem of Neo's duster, frozen in time.

N: I thought the French character (Persephone's partner, whose name I missed) was amusing, but his monologue made little sense to me.
Yeah, it was hard to pay attention with that Inspector Clouseau accent...he's The Merovingian, a reference that's both historical (post-Roman, pre-Charlemagne kings of France) and mythological (there's this whole story about how the bloodline is descended from god/jesus/atlantis, that sort of thing)...more importantly, I thought, his wife is Persephone, which would make him Hades, god of the underworld, who kidnapped Persephone and tricked her into eating six pomegranate seeds, etc., in greek mythology. In the movie, he's the liar and she's the truthteller (helpfully denoted by the respective all-black and all-white outfits, right?), which really throws off the whole question of what is "truth" in the Matrix, when everything may be preordained as part of the program, etc. The Merovingian is the one who yammers on about cause and effect, but of course in a preordained universe there is no choice and the chain of cause and effect can't be altered...anyway I think he is just an obstacle, a red herring, to throw Neo off the track, and then Persephone changes things by helping them...or maybe that was part of the plan also, who knows?

matrix3N: I didn't get the orgasm-via-cake joke at all.
I am really fascinated with the sexual imagery in this second movie...when I look back, the first film was filled with images of birth, or rebirth. this one is all about sex, and the double meaning of orgasm as "the little death." I predict the third movie will be, therefore, all death all the time. ;P the film opens with Neo foreshadowing Trinity's death while they are in bed, and then that same image returns as she "dies" in his arms...then of course at the end he saves her from death by literally reaching inside her, and then of course he "dies" (goes into this coma state) himself. the Merovingian scene with the dessert is a play on that same idea of the relationship between sex and death, and of course cause and effect -- didn't you think at first that the cake he gave that woman was poisoned? that he was describing how she was going to die from its effects -- pulse racing, etc? He seemed to be saying he could poison and kill her anonymously through the matrix code, an untraceable cause and effect. but no, in fact he manipulates her by giving her an orgasm from across the room -- that animated sequence of matrix code racing up her thighs (to the "door of light" -- give me a break!) totally blew my mind! I kept thinking, nobody else must get this or else this would be rated NC-17! well, that and the lipstick joke, anyway... >>:P

N: Ditto with the Architect-- I think I understand that the history of the resistance has been repeated six times - which makes it 600 years old instead of 100- and the machines allow Zion and The One to evolve each time as a pressure release for the minds which resist the Matrix? Does that agree with what you heard?
I have to see it again to understand what the hell's going on there...I was trying to look at the little TV screens in the background, plus I was chuckling over the fact that the architect looks just like Sigmund Freud, so I wasn't at my sharpest. What I took away from that scene was that everything about Neo is just part of the Matrix after all, I.e. the myth that he is the savior of humanity is a flaw that is getting worked out of the system, albeit a little less successfully with each iteration of the program. George brought up an interesting point, though -- is The One always Thomas Anderson/Neo, or a different person? If it's not always him, or maybe even if it is, it may be that his radical choice (the righthand door) will change things up after all...who knows, it's all about reincarnation and how hard it is to change your fate...

N: Everything you just said is relevant and interesting and true, but most people who see this movie have no clue about any of that.
Oh i disagree -- sure, not everyone cares about the subtextual references, but that's all they are, subtextual. on the surface, the scene is about manipulating others, and it underscores how Neo and everyone else are being manipulated. if that is too subtle, then you can just watch Monica Bellucci and next time go see Bad Boys II instead. >:P

N: When Persephone deliberately puts on lipstick before kissing Neo, I assumed the lipstick was "written" as some kind of poison as well.
Yeah i thought that too...BUT i didn't mean that lipstick joke, i meant when P. tells hubby "It was the lipstick," not the lipstick on his mouth, though...heh. maybe they're supposed to be like the Clintons or something!! :D

N: When the Architect gives Neo the "choice" of the 2 doors out of the TV room, I forgot which door was which-- secondly, was it Neo's right or the Architect's right? thirdly, it didn't help that the room was round and identical all the way around?
Yeah, like i said, that scene remains a little impenetrable to me...

N: Speaking of Neo's dreams of Trinity which begin the film-- They felt out of place to me. I bet the Wachowskis placed those action-packed scenes at the beginning, because if they were not included, the first action sequence would not start until 10-20 minutes into the film, and everyone would be itchy for something to happen!!
I think it's helpful to think of the movie as an animated (as in brought-to-life) comic book...it would be cool to see a flash-forward like that on a comic page, and nobody would flip ahead in the book to see what the hell it meant...movies make us impatient because they keep spelling out the story, whereas print allows you to come up with your own ideas and then slowly reveals the story. that said, while i liked the Trinity sequence in the beginning, they did NOT need to revisit it identically later on, for the idiots in the audience, "Oh I see, that's how she drops the motorcycle on the guard station! Woah!" sheeeesh...m. (May 17th, 2003; Framingham Premium Cinema (with Kevin) and June 21st, 2003; IMAX Presentation at the New England Aquarium)

May 16, 2003

The Matrix

A little preparation for the sequel tomorrow night. (Brattle Theater)

May 12, 2003

How Old Is James Bond, Anyway?

James Bond has been portrayed by six* actors since his screen debut in 1962. Take a look at this list of Bond Ages. • The actor portraying Bond has ranged in age from 30 (George Lazenby) to 58 (Roger Moore in View To A Kill). • The ages below reflect how old the actor turned in the calendar year the film came out. The time of year of the birthday and precise release date are ignored. • When Roger Moore took over the role from Sean Connery in 1973, it's hard to believe that Moore is three years older than Connery, but it's true: Connery looked bloated and lived-in as Bond in Diamonds Are Forever in 1971, but he was only 41 years old, and Moore is 46 as Bond in Live and Let Die! • Daniel Craig still looks good in SPECTRE, his fourth Bond movie, but if he chooses to make a fifth 007 movie, he'll be pushing 50 by the time it comes out- only Roger Moore made Bond movies in his fifties...

Dr. No (1962) • 32
From Russia With Love (1963) • 33
Goldfinger (1964) • 34
Thunderball (1965) • 35
You Only Live Twice (1966) • 36
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) • 30
Diamonds Are Forever (1971) • 41
Live And Let Die (1973) • 46
The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) • 47
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) • 50
Moonraker (1979) • 52
For Your Eyes Only (1981) • 54
Octopussy (1983) • 56
Never Say Never Again (1983) • 53
View To A Kill (1985) • 58
The Living Daylights (1987) • 41
License To Kill (1989) • 43
Goldeneye (1995) • 42
The World Is Not Enough (1997) • 44
Tomorrow Never Dies (1999) • 46
Die Another Day (2002) • 49
Casino Royale (2006) • 38
Quantum of Solace (2008) • 40
Skyfall (2012) • 44
Spectre (2015) • 47


James Bond Series at the Brattle

These space jumpsuits would be unflattering in any color,
But mustard was a very popular color in the 1970s.
Moonraker, May 12 • It is impossible to watch this film with a straight face, especially the scenes which inspired Dr. Evil and his lair, his henchmen, their costumes, his frickin' laser...
Jaws' allegiance is swayed by his Frankenstein-like love for a busty, blond-braided geek with glasses (and enormous boobs) that he meets in Rio, and somehow is allowed to bring with him to Drax's space ark. It's a truly odd subplot. Google "Moonraker Dolly" to see for yourself.
Despite all its flaws, the exotic location shooting is breathtaking, especially the mountaintop views of Rio de Janeiro. The Venice scenes are impressive too. I wonder how many bribes were paid to allow a big movie production to race motorboats down the canals?
fromrussiawithlove
From Russia With Love, May 19 • From worst to first: one of my favorite Bond films, including my favorite villain, Robert Shaw as "Red" Grant, and a tremendous fight scene in a sleeper cabin on a train.
2012 Update: I now own this movie on DVD. Here are some Facebook comments I made while rewatching:
  • Why does Bond always check his hotel room so carefully for the bugs? He never does any business in his room... Well, not that kind of business.
  • Belly dancing does nothing for me, but two Gypsy women in a "blood feud" over a man, rolling around and strangling each other? Hubba Hubba!
  • During the melee at the Gypsy camp, Bond's Turkish ally Kerim gets shot in the arm. The actor grabs his arm and smears bright red fake blood on his jacket sleeve. This is not how gunshot wounds work-- the bullet makes a hole in the jacket, then the shirt, then the arm, then the blood comes out of the arm, etc, etc. This is almost as fake as those Westerns where a cowboy gets shot and flies backwards through the saloon window like he's been launched from a trampoline.
Kerim's suit won't survive the night, but Bond will check
"threesome" off his bucket list before dawn.
  • I'm pretty sure Bond resolved the Gypsy blood feud with a threesome.
  • Back in Bond's hotel room, he hears a noise from the bedroom while drawing a bath. Bond leaves the water running, and discovers his Russian contact naked in his bed! He better hurry if he's going to avoid flooding the whole suite..
  • If the Soviet Lektor decoder is so valuable, why is it so portable? It's got a nifty carrying case. Couldn't they bolt it to the desk, or is it like those laptop docking stations that lock: why use a laptop if you can't take it with you?
"We'll have to make this quick.
I left the bathwater running."

  • Great fight scene with Bond and Red Grant in the train. Followed by mildly silly helicopter chase, then a improbable speedboat chase.
  • Despite some clumsy and antiquated special effects, the staging and camerawork in this movie is mostly clever and sharp. One scene where Bond meets his spy contact on the train station platform, while Red Grant trails behind him from inside the train, is simply inspired.
BOND & BOURNE MOVIES on Stub Hubby

May 9, 2003

Raiders of the Lost Ark

raidersStill one of my Top Ten All-Time. (Brattle Theater)

April 27, 2003

Laurel Canyon

laurelEnjoyably mellow movie about a son wound too tight (Bale) and a mother not wound at all (McDormand). It's kind of odd having two English actors (Christian Bale and Kate Beckinsale) playing Americans, while Alessandro Nivola (an American) plays a Brit? (Kendall Square Cinema)

April 18, 2003

A Mighty Wind

amightyMiles beyond what passes for 'comedy' these days. Very hip crowd at Boston Common for a change. I didn't expect them to appreciate this movie, but they were with it 100%. (Loews Boston Common)

April 16, 2003

Punch-Drunk Love

punchHard to believe this film was completely ignored by the Academy? (Brattle Theater)

April 5, 2003

Bend It Like Beckham

bendEverything My Big Fat Greek Wedding should have been. Told the same story, but better, and with more respect for the characters. (West Newton Cinema)