Tag Archives: movies

Two Quick Reviews

Yesterday I mentioned that I saw a couple movies over the weekend.  Here are couple tidy little reviews…

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader I read this book when I was probably about 10 or 11.  That’s quite a long time ago.  I remembered a few things about it, but mostly just that I enjoyed it the most out of the seven books in the C.S. Lewis series.  That being said, it was probably the least of the three movies that have recently been adapted.

I think that what the movie suffered from was a lack of adequate narrative tension.  The Dawn Treader is a story that I recall (and granted it was twenty years ago, but still) having three significant narrative arcs: (1) Lucy and Edmund are growing up, and realizing that their days of childhood adventure in Narnia are nearing an end, (2) Caspian is coming of age as the King of Narnia, and heads out on this expedition to the furthest reaches of his lands, and (3) Lucy and Edmund’s cousin, Eustace, joins them for this trip into Narnia to learn more about himself and how to treat others.  It’s a noble endeavor to take on all three threads on the big screen, but difficult to do in less than two hours.  What ends up happening is that none of the three threads feel thoroughly explored (least of all the Caspian thread).

It’s a decent movie, but overall, I have to admit that I’ve been a little disappointed by the Narnia franchise.  It could be that I just enjoyed the books too much at too young an age for a movie adaptation to feel adequate.  I’m not sure what the plans are for the continuation of the this series.  There are four books left, and it’s not clear to me how or if they would all be produced; Book Five is out of sequence with the others that have been made to date, and Book Six is actually a ‘prequel’ to The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. The movie still made plenty of cash, and my prediction is that they will continue.

I also fired up the Boxee over the weekend and pulled Futurama: Bender’s Big Score out of the instant Netflix queue.  As near as I could tell (and with absolutely no research) this was the first in a series of Futurama-direct-to-DVD features that came between the time they were canceled by Fox and later resurrected by Comedy Central.

What can I say?  It was funny.  I was actually fairly impressed with the way that they tied together a few different threads over the course of 90 minutes. They did a very funny job of lampooning sci-fi time-travel stories, which can so wrapped up in the paradoxes that time travelers are creating, a viewer can barely keep the time continuum straight.  Those stories also have the distinct advantage of killing and resurrecting whichever characters they want, so long as they can come up with a (barely) reasonable time-travel-y justification.  This Futurama movie had that going for it all the way.

From the mind of Simpsons creator Matt Groening, I have to say that overall, as a series, I like Futurama more than The Simpsons. The latter has some hilarious and epic TV moments, but if I had twelve bucks and could only buy a season of one or the other, I would probably buy a few gallons of gas instead.

After I got home, though, I would probably opt search the ‘nets for on-demand Futurama first.  There are few more Futurama movies on Netflix that are available to stream.  I imagine I’ll get to them sooner or later.


Rethinking the Agenda

Had a nice weekend full of baseball, friends, movies, and much-needed housework.  When all was said and (mostly) done, I had a list of about five things that I wanted to accomplish, computer- or website-wise, that were left undone.  I managed to plow through a couple of them (including my first photo uploads to this site in almost a year – check out the Storyhill pics from last Labor Day), but some were only half-finished.  I had to try pretty hard to not be disappointed with myself, even after a nice June weekend.

Clearwater Lake, Deerwood, MN

Not having had a summer like this in over a decade, it’s hard for me to let myself roll with the proverbial punches and take advantage of the nice weather and low-obligation without a plan.  I feel like if I don’t have a list, I’m going to miss out on something I should have been doing.  But, I guess if the last ten years should have taught me anything, it’s that there will always be more time to get your list done.

I took a couple positive steps in the last week that I hope will lead to maximum summer enjoyment: I moved the BryGuy show back to the latest possible part of the evening (we’re starting at 9PM beginning this week), and I set all of the ‘to-do’s’ on my RTM list to be due no earlier than 8PM on any given day.  Moreover, instead of insisting to myself that the tasks on that list get completed on the days I set them due, I opted to be satisfied with a little progress, and a revision of the date and specifics of the goal.

Summer’s too short around here.  I need to make sure I’m enjoying it.

Original Watergate Interviews: A Nice Primer to Frost/Nixon

Clearly, there is no reason to avoid the biological fact of my non-existence during the Watergate scandal.  In addition, I received minimal education on the topic during my formative years, and, having such a strong background in history coming out of high school, never was required to take a single history class throughout college.  To sum up, my knowledge of the depth of the scandal, and the details surrounding it were vague at best.

For these combined reasons, I found the original Nixon interview with David Frost on the topic of Watergate to be both an enlightening recap of events from the proverbial horse’s mouth, and an ideal primer for the fictionalized, Oscar-nominated film Frost/Nixon.

The two DVDs could most certainly be packaged together; one lends depth and context to the other.  If I understand correctly, the Original Interviews is an edited DVD presentation of the Watergate portion of the BBC series.  What I got out of it was a more thorough understanding of the actual events of the break-in, and the longest sustained exposure I’ve ever had to Richard Nixon, albeit through the camera lens.

Watching the original interview made me appreciate Frank Langella‘s portrayal quite a bit more.  Watching the real Nixon, you can see that:

  • He is keenly aware of the television audience, and how he appears on camera
  • He really appears to believe that he didn’t do anything wrong
  • His regrets are not about the Watergate incident, but rather that he screwed up and couldn’t be president anymore

… all of these things were brilliantly conveyed by Langella, and I’m kind of sorry I didn’t watch the original interview first, because I might have enjoyed the performance even more.

If you have some interest in history, Nixon specifically, or political scandal generally, watching this pair is a fine way to spend 3 or 4 hours.

A Vision of The FUTURE

I guess somebody at Microsoft has seen Minority Report.  Because apparently that is their vision of computers in our future– no keyboards or nuthin’

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-GB&#038;playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:a517b260-bb6b-48b9-87ac-8e2743a28ec5&#038;showPlaylist=true&#038;from=shared" target="_new" title="Future Vision Montage">Video: Future Vision Montage</a>

Just for comparison’s sake:

Personally, I have a lot more interest in those self-driving cars.

Who Will Help Me Watch The Watchmen?

The biggest superehero movie geekfest ever is scheduled to drop on 3/6– 9 days from now.  I will be busy on opening day, but I am willing and able to go on Saturday, the 7th.  I think it would be very cool to see this flick at that iPic theater @ Bayshore.  Since you get reserved seats there, and it’s 21+, I would call that the makings of a good time.

I’d love to hear from anyone that might be interested.  There are several showings throughout the day on Saturday, and it looks to cost just 9 bucks for a matinee.  Starting at the 6:30 show, it’s $12.

My copy of the book is in pretty sad shape; I think I’ll try to find a paperback on Amazon or something before next week.  Wondering if Hoping that this flick makes my 2009 as geektastically awesome as The Dark Knight did for 08…

Oscar Time: The Usual Suspects At It Again

Just to note: There was not a sequel to The Usual Suspects released this year.  If there ever was, I suspect (ha-HA!) that it would NOT receive an Oscar nom.

In terms of the vast majority of nominees for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Actress, though, I am Jack’s total lack of surprise.  Seems like I’ll need to get to work, though, as I have seen zero of the nominees so far.  Major work.  In a profound way.

Off to check the movie listings…

Some Worthwhile Consumables and Weekend Notes

I finally listened to episode #368 of This American Life, “Who Do You Think You Are?” on my way in and for the first half hour or so of my work day.  About half the show was excerpts from a series that Studs Terkel, a recently deceased, longtime Chicago radio man hosted in the 1970s called “Hard Times.”  He did interviews with ordinarily American citizens about their experiences from the Great Depression.  It was fantastic to hear these unique perspectives of witnessed history.  Listening to a piece like this makes me think about how valuable the mass media archives of the 20th century could potentially be as the future rolls on.

And I guess that I’m thinking about it relative to photography in a sense: sure, we have photographs from as far back as the mid-19th century, and it is amazing to look into the faces of the people who lived at those times.  But what still photos lack (a clear idea of what the people who lived in those times THOUGHT about them), sound recordings and motion pictures of the 20th century have in spades.  As generations of people pass on and memory continues to fade, we retain an ability that no era in the past could boast: we can engage those past generations in conversation through recordings.  Pretty amazing stuff, if you think about it.

And speaking of voices from the past informing the events of the present, an interesting little piece here from New Scientist about how the worldwide economic doldrums we find ourselves in were predicted (with computer assistance) in 1972.

Beyond that, had an enjoyable and somewhat productive weekend.  Michelle and I went to see Quantum of Solace on Saturday.  Not usually a movie she’d be interested in, but we had a good time at the last Bond.  I thought it was good, but I agree with most of the critics I’ve read that Casino Royale was better.  The review I saw in The Onion tried to parallel the 2nd Daniel Craig-Bond flick with The Dark Knight, both being the first sequel in a largely-reimagined franchise.  I dunno if that’s a fair comparison, in part because Batman has such a long, rich body of source material to work from: the Joker is a well-established and defined character; James Bond is up against a new villian every time out.  So anyway, Bond was good; not great, but good.

Michelle was on pins and needles through most of the movie.  She hasn’t watched a lot of action films, so when she DOES see one, it is literally a heart-pounding thrill ride.  It’s fun for everybody.  After we left the theater, we talked about some other movies like this one that she might try, and we agreed that action flicks with lots of explosions, chases, fights, and general debauchery are a great reason to have a bigger TV.

OK, well, the kids are starting to back up in the office.  Best get to it…

firing from the hip since 2002