Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Going Internet Dark

I will be leaving aside all blogging duties for approximately the next month. Not only that, I will not use the Internet during that time. More than that, I will not even use my computer lest I get lost in the time suck of Minesweeper again. That means no Facebook, no Twitter, no email, or IMDb, movie times, NY Times, news, blogs, banking, credit cards, etc. Everything I read will be printed on dead tree. The only exception to this will be my work schedule, which is now all done through an online service. There is no longer a paper schedule posted at my job. So the only way I can possibly know my schedule week to week is by logging onto that website.

This does not mean I'm leaving off movie viewing. That will be alive and kicking, but without reviews for most of what I watch during the break. And so we're clear, watching movies through Netflix instant doesn't count as going on the Internet. I will be accessing directly through my Blu-Ray player.

Why am I doing this?

I hit upon the idea in mid July, I think. I was growing increasingly frustrated by my inability to keep on top of writing reviews. I seemed to constantly have a list of four or five reviews to post in order to maintain my regimen of writing a review for every movie I watch be it new, old, classic, crap, previously seen by me, or not. This has meant I have not made the time to do other activities I also enjoy doing. There are several new books I have that I'd like to get into.

Frankly, after more than two years of writing about nearly every movie I've watched (more than 300 full length reviews in that time), I kind of need a break. My goal was always to reach the point that it felt like second nature that I would write about a movie I watch. Now every time I watch a movie I'm already writing in my head. A few days later I'm sweating about finding the time and energy to get it out. I'd like some time away from that feeling. In fact, I've already started in a way. The last several movies I've seen I watched already knowing that I wouldn't write about them.

I will return at the end of September with a list of everything I've watched in that time and if I'm feeling up to it, I may provide a paragraph summing up my reaction to each one. I will be writing some full length reviews during this time for a special project I'm planning in October.

I just really hope the month doesn't turn out looking something like this graph:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

25 Years Ago This Month: August 1987

When discussing the films released 25 years ago, do I need make mention of the Pierce Brosnan and Michael Caine spy film The Fourth Protocol or End of the Line with Kevin Bacon. Both of these films might be filed under "Films That Time Forgot." What about Disorderlies starring The Fat Boys? How about the third Care Bears movie The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland? Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin in The Big Easy. You know, two of those movies co-star Ned Beatty.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Total Recall Movie Review

It’s funny sometimes to revisit a twenty year old film that had groundbreaking visual effects for its day. In some cases (Terminator 2: Judgment Day comes to mind) the effects look about as good as anything today. More often than not, however, they look more like Total Recall There’s plenty to admire in Paul Verhoeven’s science fiction futuristic mind-bender if you can ignore what looks like cheesy B-movie effects. Then again, that B-movie look is somehow more fitting for the movie. After all, its story is the stuff of classic B-movie science fiction.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tony Scott Dies

This is a shocker if only because it's unusual to hear of suicide stories involving men in the twilight of their lives. Scott was 68 years old and married. He drove his car onto the Vincent Thomas Bridge in L.A., got out, climbed a fence, and jumped off. A suicide note was found in the car. Who knows what was going on in his life that spurred him to call it quits.

In addition to being one of Hollywood's most successful action film directors, he was also a producing partner with his brother Ridley and produced the recent Prometheus.

His list of director credits is a what's what of big dumb action thrillers: Top Gun; Beverly Hills Cop II; Days of Thunder; The Last Boy Scout; The Fan; Enemy of the State; Spy Game; Man on Fire; Domino; Deja Vu; The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3; Unstoppable.

His feature debut was an indie vampire film starring Susan Sarandon, Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie called The Hunger. It might have suggested a career path more like Ridley's until the dollars came calling, I guess.

He also directed True Romance, an early Quentin Tarantino screenplay and Crimson Tide, a pretty taut and well-made submarine thriller starring Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington.

He directed Washington in 5 films, making one of the most successful actor-director partnerships in recent memory.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

My Collection: He Got Game Movie Review

Spike Lee’s He Got Game is a movie about America made by a man who loves basketball and the opportunity represented by this country. Stories of race relations have often driven Lee to make provocative films. Even when he’s not sharp, we see he has something interesting to say.

Lee is usually at his best when he keeps his focus on small communities in Brooklyn. He Got Game is set mostly in Coney Island, but the story has connections to the broader American community. The two main characters are diametrically opposed black men. Denzel Washington is Jake Shuttlesworth, a man with undying love for his children, but also a pent up rage that led to the death of his wife, for which he is now serving time in state prison. Ray Allen is his son, Jesus (pronounced like Jesus of the Bible), who is the number one high school basketball prospect in the country.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Savages Movie Review

Oliver Stone returns to fine form with his latest example of pushing violence to excess in cinema with Savages, the film that Natural Born Killers might have been with a little restraint. Stone exhibits more control of a story that could very easily have run away from itself and of the violence depicted in it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Movie Review

I’m not ready to jump on the bandwagon of The Dark Knight Rises. Before I get labeled a hater or someone who badmouths Hollywood movies for the sake of it, let me point out I was a big fan of both Inception and The Dark Knight. It is true I dislike most big budget action films, but not for the sake of setting myself apart from the masses. It’s because they are so often so bad. The world was geared up to love The Dark Knight Rises. It’s been built up immensely. Everyone – not just Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. – has significant investment in its success. If you hate the third part, what does that say about your love for the first two? We are primed to enjoy this final chapter in the trilogy. I’m afraid my primer didn’t take.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Grey Movie Review


As our country passes through dark economic times at the same time we’re trying to extricate ourselves from two unwinnable wars, I keep looking for the films that will defined these times. As Vietnam drew to a close, the 70s had its fair share of popular entertainments that reveled in depicting the deep moral failings of those whom we regard as incorruptible. I’m thinking of films like All the President’s Men, The French Connection and Dirty Harry to name a few. The Grey is the type of movie that might have copped out in favor of the happy ending if it had been made in 90s economic boom. As it is, it’s a dark tale with existential underpinnings.