Category: Movies

What is your favorite "Die Hard" sequel?

A Robin Hood limerick aimed at Donald Trump

A Robin Hood limerick aimed at Donald Trump

You can blame Will Scarlet’s taunt-limerick from 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves for this one… Or perhaps you should thank the man who inspire it – and whom embodies it — Donald Trump.

There was a rich man
From Manhattan
Who tried to rule the country

He's proved a dope!
Every time he's spoke!
So shallow and so greedy!

Donald Trump’s spoiled-brat threat to shut social media after Twitter fact-checked him is what led me to think of the river scene where Will Scarlet, played by Christian Slater, recites a taunt such as the one above toward Robin of Locksley (Kevin Costner) at the start of a robbery attempt by the Merry Men.

It’s clear at this point that Donald Trump is no Robin Hood or Little John for that matter, nor can his administration be considered a band of Merry Men. While corruption by Trump and hi admin can be likened to thievery, and other crimes the idea of taking from the rich and giving to the poor is an inside-joke at best yo those involved with Trump.

No, no, Trump is a less-able version of Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham.

Wishful Thinking and a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off cast cameo

Wishful Thinking and a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off cast cameo

While I’ve long had the wishful thought of Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara, and Alan Ruck reprising their roles as Ferris Bueller, Sloane Peterson, and Cameron Fry, I admit right now that this concept is a reach. No, I’m not talking sequel… Not to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off at least. The idea is tied to a sequel of a movie released six years after the antics of Ferris but was also based in the Chicagoland area where Bueller is from.

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Wishful thinking: Parody, Politics, and the Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time-Players

Here we are, Early October is when the Not-Ready-For-Prime-Tim-Players tend to kick off. Yes, folks, the next season of the long-run, late-night, skit-comedy series Saturday Night Live, will be kicking off a new, shall-we-make-you-laugh-your-ass-off? season shortly.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Administration of Donald J. Trump keeps playing like skit-comedy in its revealed words, choices, actions, and deeds. Sadly, with how politics reach and what they do to society, it’s not a laughing matter to mess up, screw up, or use shady tactics to try to solidify power while gaining personally at great cost to the public.

It’s ripe for parody, though. Alec Baldwin can tell you that. The veteran actor has been inspired (in the worst way possible) to play President Trump on SNL a countless number of times the past two seasons.

This season of Saturday Night Live coincides with the 30th anniversary of a movie that Baldwin co-starred in that mixed action and drama with politics and espionage of the Cold War. The Hunt for Red October is one of my personal favorite films and the only Tom Clancey novel-turned-film that I liked. I never took to Harrison Ford as Dr. John “Jack” Ryan in the two sequels, but that’s just me… I liked Baldwin’s Ryan (“I’m just an analyst!”) better than a typical action/thriller movie star like Ford taking up the role.

I keep having Red October pop into my head as scandals play out in the news. How one notable name in the current political dramatic climate rhymes so well with the name of the “phantom Russian submarine” that the film involves and its name is based on.

Red October. Robert Mueller.

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Fox Plaza, aka Nakatomi Tower


While I’ve already kvetched about the prequel reboot of the Die Hard franchise, also having been contacted by an actor who wants to take up the role of Mr. Officer John McClane or the New York City Police Department (I miss you, Alan Rickman,) there’s a thought in my head that’s fitting for the franchise. It’s fitting with many film franchises as long as it’s not a forced undertaking..

Don’t reboot Die Hard, spin it off to another lead character.

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Did you know…? Tampa Bay Lightning stars once were extras in a comic book movie?

This past summer I asked friends on Facebook to name a movie that was filmed in their area. Those who responded cited flicks fitting to the region they live in, there was a good variation because…hey! I have friends all over.

One of the respondents was one of my long-time contact who I’ve known specifically by way of our talking Tampa Bay Lightning hockey on forums way back in the past. Her response startled me because of how I’d forgotten the fact:

She cited The Punisher and reminded me how Lightning players had been n set for filming.

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“Do You Believe In Miracles?” available for viewing here

I have referenced the HBO documentary “Do You Believe In Miracles?” for years in my time blogging. The most prominent being the 2014 piece that tried to pour water on those suggesting Team USA’s win over Russia in 2014’s Winter Olympics was comparable to the cultural event or Lake Placid when Team USA beat the Soviet Union.

“Do You Believe In Miracles?” shows you and tells you pretty clearly what made the event so big. It’s history in sports, it’s history in the United States.

At any rate, I round the documentary posted in full on YouTube. I post it here.

Movies, Men of Service, and Near Suicide

A very random question tied to two highly different films of the 1980s

I wonder how bad it would have been if Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson, Lethal Weapon franchise) crossed paths with Frank Slade (Al Pacino in The Scent of a Woman)?

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I find the lack of #FAIL disturbing in this video incident

A tweet crossed by chance this afternoon that’s certainly gone viral by way of retweets — some by famous people, such as Luke Skywalker himself (Mark Hamill).

In short, pun esence: A child went rogue one while reciting “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. To say the least, the Emperor was pleased…

Call him “Roy”; Jeremy Sande’s pitch to play John McClane in the 6th Die Hard film, “McClane”

In October 2017 I wrote an immediate reaction to the bare-bone synopsis of the next Die Hard film. It’s not that I’m not a fan of Die Hard or Bruce Willis/John McClane, it’s more about the fact that I’ve seen the franchise move away from the wrong-place-wrong-time, fixed location presentation. By way of it, the franchise was getting away from John McClane and what made the character a draw in the original film and early sequels.

Here it is, a year and a half later and I’ve been wondering casually what the deal is with the film tentatively titled (at the time of my original write-up) Die Hard: Year One. The bare-bones synopsis that came out with the news of the sixth film said that the movie would be a prequel/sequel hybrid that Willis would be involved in. Yet casting news, filming news, it all slipped by without actually being news… or so I thought because I haven’t heard or seen shit.

In some ways, it’s understandable that the movie hasn’t moved forward – those “some ways” being the merger of 21st Century Fox (20th Century Fox) and Disney. Unlike when Walt Disney Pictures took control of the Star Wars franchise, there’s a hell of a lot more to organize and oversee with the acquisition of the entire 21st Century Fox motion picture studio (and more holdings of various sorts). Moving forward quickly with the Die Hard movie (that’s to be helmed by Len Wiseman and titled McClane) may have been slowed by the sale logistics or other various things, I wouldn’t know for sure.

I was updated a touch by a surprise email a few days ago. This blog isn’t one that tends to get PR email or press contacts (whereas my days writing for Raw Charge has added me to alot of hockey-related and Tampa Bay-area PR stuff). The contact wasn’t from Fox, not Disney, or a third-party agency or talent firm, but from a would-be Officer John McClane.

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Questions and would-be stories for Truman Burbank’s Life After Seahaven

When you’re sold on a movie or a movie character, it’s not foreign to think about things in the film and come up with angles of the story that flesh out entirely different stories that could drive a movie. For example, the Tom Hanks film Cast Away has a story unto itself that isn’t shown in the film: What happened to Chuck Noland (Hanks) as he gets rescued from the South Pacific? It’s not a 1-2-3 thing but a process and a tale on its own. It wouldn’t be the movie by itself but there are various acts and deeds that he had to undertake that would have been interesting to see.

I was thinking about that Cast Away stuff which turned me to the ending of another film; a flick that had more to show because the ending was a gateway to a new adventure for the main character who was followed along closely for the entire film. This picture wasn’t a direct adventure but more a character piece, so an immediate sequel wouldn’t have been fitting.

At this point, more than twenty years after Truman Burbank bid the set of Seahaven “good afternoon, good evening and good night”  and entered reality, there are stories that could be told and shown in a framing that compliments what was The Truman Show, or at least some of the elements as they were presented in the 1998 movie.

Peter Weir’s film was a play on reality television, with a single life filmed and the world around him manipulated to give Truman Burbank (played by Jim Carrey in a role that defied the over-the-top comedy he was known for) regular story and drama to entertain the viewers of his television channel. And Truman didn’t know about this – how he was being filmed and the man-made control over his life.

As Truman was taken care of by those in control, he was a prisoner, prevented from exploring and knowing the world. His world was the set of Seahaven in Burbank, California. The events of The Truman Show touch on his life, the actors/actresses and off-screen aspects and la-de-da, building up to the movie’s finale, Truman’s escaping the set.

The escape itself, passing through a door into the darkness of backstage, opens up a new world of events for Truman. It opens up a story to tell in reflection. So, consider this a pitch called “Life After Seahaven”.

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Retelling the tale of True Love and remaking The Princess Bride

I won’t lead with a ramble here. If you saw that title and got curious, that’s nice. If you read the title and got confused, upset or pissed off that someone could even contemplate something like this, you’re where I am with the film industry in general. Rebootts, retellings, remakes? It’s like the studios can’t come up with something original and just go with properties that already made them money. To do that with the 1987 Rob Reiner classic? Oh God, ugh!

My idea is not like that, but it is like that. It’s like a sequel, but it’s the original film too.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a baby boomer or one of the later generations (Generation X, Y, Z, a millennial, whatever), The Princess Bride has its own place in cinematic history. It’s something fun to watch and savor. So why the hell can I have a thought that the film should be redone?

The answer is Fred Savage.

See, there’s a second story in The Princess Bride that happens to be the way we ever get told the story of Princess Buttercup, Wesley, Inigo Montoya, Count Rugen (the infamous Six Fingered Man), Prince Humperdink and all the various other characters in the story about True Love. The second story that enables the film is about a sick grandson played by Fred Savage. He has the story of The Princess Bride told to him by his grandfather played by Peter Falk.
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When life immitates art and the 45th President of the United States

I’ve already blogged an entertainment comparison of the Presidency of Donald J. Trump to the 1993 movie DaveDave Kovic, the character that Trump is compared to, is a caricature figure put in a very serious position.

With the ongoing US government shutdown and ongoing issues with Trump’s demeanor (on more than just his demands for a Mexican border wall), there’s another caricature character that Trump seems to be more than just a little similar to. This is not a compliment or a for-entertainment comparison.

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The one where Kevin Pollak answered a question of mine on Reddit

Kevin Pollakalways interests me. Usually, it’s been his side-characters that popped up in cinema that piqued my interest, and he’s been in a hell of a lot of roles not just in movies but television series’ too.

The first time I remember crossing him on-screen was as Rool in Ron Howard’s Willow in the late 1980s.  Pollak’s stand-up comedy has always been ever so worthwhile, to say the least. And the flavor he uses when it comes to Star Trek impersonations is hilarious.

(My favorite part is when he turns Scotty into Dudley Moore/Arthur Bach, It’s not a party down here, Captain!)

A couple of years ago, I caught the stand-up showing the above Trek piece is part of on HBO…and then coincidentally crossed Kevin doing an Ask Me Anything interview session on Reddit. 

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Wishful thinking: Rebooting a classic piece of TV without the cheesy comedy

Right now, a modern retelling of a 1960’s television show is on my mind and yet modern retelling limits it unless it’s done right and framed properly. That, in itself, is a tough task.

Before I move to that and the show on my mind, let me touch on a show that was going to have a “modern” retelling 20 years after its airing in the 1960’s: Batman. Warner Brothers wanted to do a cinematic version of the caped-crusader show from the 60’s and from one of the original casting plans tells you everything about original intent on the movie: Bill Murray as Bruce Wayne/Batman. That should not be taken as “could you imagine how dark Tim Burton’s film would have been if…?” as so much “Bill Murray vs. Adam West, who wins in a Batusi dance-off?” The film that Burton made (and set the stage for modern comic book movies) was intended by the company to go campy-comedic a-la the original series on screen.

There’s another show that was exposed to the masses over the decades by way of original airings on network television and syndication in later decades after the original series ended. It’s had television-movie continuations of the series and parodies in other television shows over the decades. It was campy, it was comedic, and it was the tale of chance.

Gilligan’s Island is only known for ha-ha-ha. An idiotic-but-lucky first mate, his father-like/older brother-like Skipper, and the five passengers who were fellow castaways when the S.S. Minnow wrecked on an uncharted desert island. Read More

The relevancy of Ben Stein’s boring teachings in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”

The relevancy of Ben Stein’s boring teachings in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”

Tariffs are on the scene in many ways and that is being discussed in many places — factual reports and opinion pieces and such. The world is affected, United States product costs are affected. Farming is affected. The Trump administration continues the plan, with the remedy being everything will be internally produced… or so it seems.

All of this made me think of the pop culture classic comedy film “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. One scene, one class, it shows how society reacts to learning about tariff effects on society and states clearly the historical relevance of tariffs on the United States economy. Read More

The art of the movie character cameo

The subject of cross-movie cameos has been on my mind for a few weeks… actually it pops up often and I bring it up with friends and they don’t usually cite much nor have anything in mind on the topic outright.

It piques my interest and amuses me when it happens though: A character from a movie shows up at random in another film. It’s just a passing moment for people who don’t know or who haven’t seen many movies. It’s a laugh or amusing for others who know movies and cinema.

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When fiction becomes (attempted) reality

Space Force.

Space Force? Why? Is that a progressive attempt by an administration whose actions and deeds are too commonly regressive in ethical, moral, and social standards? No, no… It’s a distraction. Nothing more.

There is a progressive argument for something like this, but the idea of taking warfare off the planet simply amounts to throwing money away and an attempt at shifting focus away from the ethical, moral and social misdeeds by Current Occupant.

That said, the entire concept and the entire direction of this administration has me thinking of a film I saw once and didn’t care for. It’s fictitious circumstances, and yet seems oddly fitting for the picture of society in the film.

Starship Troopers, anyone?

The June 5 pop culture holiday

Save Ferris

Political motivation by way of Miister Ferris Bueller?

There’s one movie from the 1980’s that I still find as an asset, the whole perspective is told in such a way that it builds the protagonist in a comical and entertaining way. It’s a movie that stood as a benchmark to be met or exceeded for teen comedies, not just in the 80’s but in cinema, in general, moving forward from that point forward.

“Ferris Bueller, you’re my heer-oh.”

Yet what leads me to this write up is a negative. One line of dialog from Mister Ferris Bueller jumped into my head this morning, a line which I have long known from a scene I’ve long known… And the current world of politics and the grand motivator for the Dotard in Covfefe, Donald J. Trump, popped into my mind.

Is it fitting I link Ferris, Cameron and Sloan’s altercation at Chez Quis restaurant to Trump? Or is it a contradiction: Some kids who are members of the general masses try to get lunch at a high class restaurant in the Chicagoland area? I’m comparing something for this scene to a sitting President of the United States who is high class and thinks he knows populism while he is totally disconnected to the general populous.

Just to cut to the chase, Ferris’ entire concept of getting lunch at Chez Quis starts with him pretending to be Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago. The idea sets off Cameron and Sloan as the maitre’d is not going along with Ferris’ con attempt.

It’s Ferris’ first-person, direct-to-the-camera reaction response to Cameron and Sloan that just seems to explain Trump’s inspiration for continued carelessness…

“A: You can never go too far. B: If I’m going to get busted, it is not going to be by a guy like that.

A: Donald Trump is going too far. Regularly. The welfare of America is not what’s driving him as-so-much self-gain. B: The question must be asked if Special Counsel Robert Mueller is the “guy-like-that” or someone else. There’s too much evidence in the Trump-Russia probe to expect Mueller not to end up busting Trump. If it’s not him that does it, it will be Congress in one way or another.

I digress; comparing Trump to Bueller is an insult to Ferris Bueller and the ageless piece of cinema from director John Hughes.

An unseen sight from The Truman Show

I kvetched recently about one little line of dialog hitting me in a painful way from the 1993 hi, The Fugitive. It was one sign of the on-the-go work that changed the script to the film we know… But one line irked me.

What’s inspired this write up doesn’t irk me in the filmmaking sense as-so-much the curious viewer who is into the movie and the lead character. This isn’t a flaw, but it’s a gargantuan scene that never is seen by the viewers during the build-up to the climax and finale of 1998’s The Truman Show. Read More

A flaw of dialog in “The Fugitive”

You ever love a movie and yet see a glaring error in a scene, be it a gaffe by an actor, dialog failure, or something physically taking place in a scene that marks it as a blunder from one degree to another? I’ve got that hounding me right now with a movie I’ve always held in high regard. It’s a flick that’s had more flaws popping up when I think about it – but that’s opinion on my part and evident mostly due to watching the movie too many times and being exposed to it too much in pop culture or by chance on cable.

And, really, this flaw I note is just opinion. It’s dialog in a passing scene of the 1993 hit, The Fugitive. Read More

A reaction to the basic premise of “Die Hard: Year One”

The mused about title is Die Hard: Year One and already the sixth movie of the Die Hard franchise is a failure. Yes, Bruce Willis is set to return to the franchise as John McClane, but with this in a prequel/back-story action movie, it counters the entire premise of the original film. Read More

Wishful thinking and film; re-create this scene

As far as I know, this could have already played out but…

One scene, out of context, that I find hysterical (in context and as part of the film, it’s still funny but not as serious) is the opening confrontation of Mr. Miyagi and sensei John Kreese in The Karate Kid Part II. Forget Daniel LaRusso, forget the Cobra Kai students – just the fact Miyagi is being bigger in making his physical confrontation. Read More

Finding entertainment from a politically-inexperienced president

A man with no political experience finds his way into the Oval Office and becomes President of the United States of America. He’s got to learn more than just the day-to-day job at the office, which is vastly different from the day-to-day world which he’s used to.

Yeah, that sounds awfully familiar and vastly understated for the moment, doesn’t it? Perhaps it’s the previous version of the above summary that help some people give Donald Trump so much leeway to be so out-of-character and non-traditional as President? The problem with that is how the previous version wasn’t egotistical and profit driven, nor was he so ideological or politically driven that he alienated so many.

After 114 words, you may wonder who the hell I’m making reference to with this “previous version” stuff. Read More

Classic films and storylines left open: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Classic films and storylines left open: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Some movies end with what you see as a clean ending. Some movies end with aspects of the story still open for speculation when you care about the characters involved. I usually end up thinking of 1993’s The Fugitive and wondering what happens next with Dr. Richard Kimble and Deputy Sam Gerard. Yeah, they drive off and it looks like Kimble will be freed, but that’s a story unto itself (due process) as well as the story of Kimble vs. Gerard playing out directly in a non-hunt fashion.

But a 24 year old movie isn’t the focus of this post… No, no, I’m going back further into film history with a teen classic. It’s comedy goodness and teen angst mixed into one utopian ball of Chicagoland adventure and hilarity.

You ever seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Of course you have… or at least you damned well better consider it in the immediate future. The 1986 film is dated but the basic point is teens skipping school.

While Ferris is the focus, there is another storyline that is not resolved on screen with the movie’s end (“Life moves pretty, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.” Repeated by Bueller to end the flick… Well, at least the main movie. It’s actually Ferris telling you, post credits, the film is over and you should go home now). Ferris’ best friend, Cameron Frye, has a mess to deal with: A 1961 Ferrari GT, the love and passion of his father Morris Frye.

It’s Cameron who epitomizes teen angst mostly in the film. He holds strong contempt toward his father to say the least. In fact, it’s the climax of the film where Cameron explodes and it results in the demolition of the Ferrari:

And while Ferris vows to take the blame (and the disaster that would come with it for his personal life), Cameron accepts responsibility himself. It’s his confrontation to have and he’ll deal with the consequences. (Side note: Sloan, Ferris’ girlfriend, thinks this was part of Ferris’ scheme for the day off from start to finish. I’ll leave it to you to judge if that’s what the deal was or not).

So, Ferris and Sloan leave, everyone’s returning home… And what happens with Cameron Frye in his confrontation with his father???

The first conclusion someone could draw from this is, “whatever it was, it wasn’t film worthy or John Hughes would have put it in the flick.” That is a good way to dismiss the confrontation but it doesn’t tell you the story of that evening for Cameron. It’s too loaded and too baited in the climax to truly be something to just brush off.

Yet, I think about the confrontation of Cameron and his father (I picture Morris Frye as actor Terry Kiser who you may know better as Bernie Lomax among other roles – no, I don’t imagine he’s dead) and what I see is an unexpected reaction. Cameron is in the garage, stern, strong willed, ready for war, and a suited Morris Frye, fresh home from work, has walked in on the open garage.

“What are you doing in here? I thought you were sick?” He’s walking in and doesn’t see the car… but sees the smashed rear window. He slows down and approaches without saying a word. He looks down and sees his beloved, classic automobile smoldering in the hilly ravine behind the garage and starts a mix of crying and laughing.

I can see Cameron stepping up immediately and taking responsibility in one way or another – perhaps by attacking over love for the car by dad; loving the car and generally hating the family… And yet, Morris’ reaction isn’t out of heartbreak, anger and disgust, it’s that cracking up aspect. He stops Cameron not by yelling, but by putting his arm around him while keeping up his hysterics. The incident rings Morris Frye just as much as it scares and stings Cameron… But I see it as a message that Cameron has grown up. I see it as a message for Morris that his material dream is done and it’s back to reality.

Does Cameron get in trouble? Oh, yeah, yeah, but it’s a whole different situation than what you’d expect. It’s not a war between the Frye family members. I just can’t picture how that goes. I can’t picture how Cameron’s mom (who is in Decatur, Illinois during the movie) plays into things.

Maybe I’m dead wrong, but I just see everything twisting at this critical non-film climactic moment. What’s built up as hate and angst in the movie deflates with Morris’ reaction to the end of his love affair. Cameron’s not the sickly boy any more, and my car isn’t where I can invest myself in full.

That’s drawing conclusions on my part, and the point is that there are times in cinema where things are left to have that happen. What happens with Cameron Frye is a big angle as he is a big angle.

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Film questions and opinionated answers that are one in Filmillion

A month ago, a little further back perhaps, I saw a post on Reddit pointing to a new web site that vowed it would predict the movie you were thinking of in 30 questions or so. Filmillion piqued my curiosity, so I gave it a whirl (more than once) and was left frustrated and disappointed. That’s not because of how well the site performed but by how flawed its questions (and movie guesses tend to be.

If there have been any database improvement or other site modifications to combat flaws isn’t something known by me. What is known is that I gave the site another run for the sake of writing this article. If it leads you to wanting to try it yourself remains to be seen, but here’s what I dealt with and the outcome.

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The Beatles video, “You’re Going to Lose That Girl”, missing in action no more

It’s arguable to write that the greatest song the Beatles ever recorded and didn’t release as a single was “You’re Going to Lose That Girl”, which was released in 1965 on the album “Help!”. It’s a standard Lennon/McCartney scribed ode that has ties to “She Loves You” as if it were a sequel. I write that point here but I don’t link because trying to find the source I read has been fruitless (this line will be deleted if I do find the link). There are only two words on record for any member of the Fab Four speaking about the song: John Lennon told Playboy in 1980, “That’s me.” You can find more in-depth coverage of the song here. There are touches on other facts about Lennon / McCartney and history that may pique your interest.

I was introduced to the Fab Four in 1985 when my father won a VHS tape of “Help!” from 101 WCBS FM in New York. I was skittish and disinterested at first in watching as the tape opened up with the black-and-white trailer to “A Hard Day’s Night”, the film the Beatles made in 1964. Black-and-white film and disjointed snippets of Beatle songs from the movie just didn’t win me over (and what would you expect? I was 5 or 6 years old at the time). I fidgeted, I tried getting up, but my father put his hands on my shoulders and sat me down.

Then “Help!” started, with actor Leo McKern reciting cult tidings in what amounted to an execution ceremony. Though it was a dark setting, the color blazed (in comparison to that “A Hard Day’s Night” trailer and my interest ticked up. One thing led to another in the film and McKern’s character of Clang bellowed to his cult sect that surrounded him, “Where is the ring?! Search her! What has she done with the ring?!” The cult cried repeatedly “The ring?!” in response and then… then…

Then you see the fabled ring, a large red gemstone on a standard gold band. It just so happens to be on the hand of drummer Ringo Starr as a performance of the song “Help!” gets underway (in black-and-white… which meant nothing to me at this point) and truly the movie began as the Beatles performed “Help!”.

There were seven songs performed in the movie, with “You’re Going to Lose That Girl” being my favorite. Heck, viewing the film a second time, I remember my brothers and I rewinding the video to replay the song and sing along with it. We were won over. That’s not to say “Help!” didn’t win us over, or “Ticket to Ride”, “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”, “I Need You” (George Harrison’s first composed song), “The Night Before, or “Another Girl”. It’s just the memory of this song in particular.

Director Richard Lester played with lighting but did a simple in-studio scene with John, Paul, George and Ringo. The hues and colors vary and smoke plays into scenes (hey, smoking was hip back then Ringo is doing it in some scenes of the song). I’d put this song, as a video; well ahead of the majority of music videos that also play the studio scene. And seeing it’s been 52 years since the damn thing was recorded, that should tell the music video director sect out there to raise their game.

You can’t find the song on YouTube though, and the simple Google search (which now produces extensive info results for most songs) only shows you amateurs playing.

Is there a business contrast playing out between Apple Corps LTD (the Beatles company) and Google? I don’t know. What I do know is that I started this write up fixated on not being able to find the videos from “Help!” on YouTube. Only a fraction of the movie performance of “You’re going to Lose That Girl” can be found.

A re-worded my web search just a tad (with quotation marks: “You’re Going to Lose That Girl” video, Help!) and lo and behold I found what has been missing via Vimeo.

“You’re Going To Lose That Girl” from Merritt Mullen on Vimeo.

Will it remain on the site? Dunno, though it’s 4 year lifespan tells me that it’s going to stay. You can find a low quality version of “Ticket to Ride” on there, as well as “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” (standard quality). The other songs are missing / have mixed in content.

The day when the Jose Gaspar is overseen by Cap’n Jack Sparrow

The day when the Jose Gaspar is overseen by Cap’n Jack Sparrow;w

The Gasparilla season in Tampa, Florida is forthcoming. That’s weeks (if not a month) of civic events around Tampa tied to the grandiose kick-off celebration event: the invasion flotilla of locals, politicians and civic leaders and the “invasion” of Tampa, with the city being claimed by the pirates to officially start the whole season off.

And, yet, it’s just local. It’s not a recognized event nationally. This seems contradictory because there’s an odd timing coincidence: The invasion can also be deemed as a physical representation of the tourist season. From February through April, much of the state of FLA is invaded by that dubious, pirating lot of vacationers and spring training nuts who spend money and relax while also crowding up roadways and areas of commerce.  A pirate invasion? How about snowbird invasion?

(Note: If you couldn’t tell, I’m playing around here with negatives; tourism is a grand part of Florida)

The NFL’s annual championship rite, the Super Bowl, has been played in Tampa more than a few times, and while the game has begun being played later in January and now February, there was never a schedule shift of Gasparilla and the pirates to coincide the hype of Super Bowl Weekend… While that’s a grand marketing failure, it also makes sense: Tampa Bay is represented by the Buccaneer franchise in the NFL after all. Forcing a pirate image / entity down the league’s throat when it’s a celebration of two teams playing for the Lombardi Trophy… Well, it seems like a bad move that will be hit with criticism nationally.

That doesn’t mean always keep the damn thing hoaye, local and low key though.

I’m not here to lobby for much, but there is a point I do want to make that could raise local leaders’ thoughts on the invasion event that earns it a spot in national attention in a positive, tourism-inviting sense. Since the release of “Pirates of the Caribbean” by Disney Films, and with actor Johnny Depp’s has embraced his Captain Jack Sparrow. I’ve wondered why we haven’t heard of Depp being in town for this Gasparilla invasion. Not necessarily in-costume (which he seldom dawns for more intimate events) but just out of his personal “connection” to piracy (in show, not in plundering and looting) by way of Sparrow.

The fact Disney is so invested 90 miles away adds a little touch to the idea. It’s not like Depp has to stick around longer than he wants to (unless he’s in-character). I also want to say Tampa residents/politicians or civic strong-guys shouldn’t actively push to make this happen, or if they do to not make a public marketing push (“See Johnny Depp at Gasparilla!!”). That turns down and ruins the surprise of something like this happening.

Gasparilla is this Saturday, January 28. I don’t expect the presence of Cap’n Jack Sparrow this year… It would be grand if some other star (who is not a local resident) would make their presence known.

The missing hit: “You’re Going to Lose That Girl”

My first exposure to the Beatles, the most influential pop/rock group of the 20th century, came by way of a VHS tape. As a younger child before that, I’d probably already heard the group countless times on the radio; my father listened to oldies all the time on 101 WCBS FM in New York and I was exposed to a plethora of oldies through the first 6 years of my life while being driven around in the car. Dad also had a knack participating in call-in contests on WCBS and winning himself DJ autographs and other things from the station.

I don’t remember details of when and how, but I do recall my father sitting me and my brothers down to watch a VHS tape that he won from the radio. I also remember the fact it started with a black-and-white trailer for another movie and how it turned me off at the time… I mean, I was a kid! We had cable TV! I don’t remember what I wanted instead but I do think it was just expectations and that trailer didn’t catch my interest. That music-driven, black-and-white trailer was “A Hard Day’s Night”, the Beatles previous film.

Then the main picture started and my attention and interest was drawn in. I won’t go through the lead-in scene to Help! But between me and my two brothers who were watching, we got locked in with curiosity….and became enthused with the musical performances within the movie.

I could talk about Help! in-depth here as a film, but my focus isn’t on the entirety of the flick but a 2:23 performance that is, in my humble opinion, the greatest song not released as a single by the Fab Four in the group’s history (as an active band and after the breakup): “You’re Going to Lose That Girl.”

My brothers and I would rewind the movie and watch the performance of the band over and over again. John Lennon was on lead vocals, Paul McCartney and George Harrison backed him vocally in a harmonious fashion, repeating him and singing with him. Heck, the performance in the film itself was the band recording the song with the scene framing in-studio mystique (and before you ask: No, this was not filmed at Abbey Road).

I’d simply post the movie clip here but the powers-that-be (be it film industry or Apple Corps LTD) has removed the video from YouTube. In protecting copyrights and ownership, irrelevance is hoisted. It’s an ironic truth. Of course, if you know of the song and like the song, then that statement is not an attempted dressing-down of its value as-so-much an admission of where it has gone by being profit driven and thus hidden from the masses.

I don’t know how long covers of the song are going to be allowed to exist on YouTube (blame that on the powers-that-be if it isn’t long) but I post one of the covers of the song below. The biggest audio-difference between this and the original version is the depth of the sound and its richness.

My foray into Pinterest

The truth is that while I’ve been on Pinterest (actively) for six months now, I still haven’t picked up a legit follower yet. I also don’t know anyone to follow on there. I’ve been aware of the platform for years, but I don’t socialize much on it (exploring, interacting, etc).

But I am active on there in my own little neck of the wood. I’m just not posting photos I’ve taken or recipes or clothing (sans some custom shirt designs). I’ve stuck with the entertainment field in what I’ve posted. Maybe in time I’ll evolve to something of more significance and extravagance but for now in my lonely life, it’s this.

That brings us to the whole reason I write a blog post on the subject… My most active board on Pinterest is a little project in film reflection… it’s simply looking at some of my favorite movie bad guys/antagonists. I can’t say I break any ground on descriptions / why I list certain characters. I can say I’m entertained by trying to remember villians/challengers that I like from cinema.

So! For the sake of exposing my account on Pinterest and what not… I give you “Favorite Movie Villains”:

Follow John’s board Favorite movie villains on Pinterest.

Film memories, lasting legacies, and songs from forgotten films

John Travolta is not the subject of this entry, but he is the starting point to get to what I want to speak about. It’s the way I tend to write – to segue into the point/subject. The subject is tied to Travolta and his work but Travolta isn’t supposed to be the main topic.

I got introduced to Travolta with “Look Who’s Talking” in 1990. I was a kid and the film got a lot of exposure in pop culture by way of the cutesy aspect and the fact stars Kristy Alley (Cheers among other things) and Bruce Willis had their hands in the film (among others). John Travolta was considered an also-ran at that point, or at least that’s how things seem to reflect now. It was a long way from Saturday Night Fever as well as his TV role in Welcome Back, Kotter. If there’s other stuff that was a large success for Travolta between those 70’s entries and his late 80’s/early 90’s stuff… well, I fail there (Urban Cowboy is an exception, I think). I just know Staying Alive was forgettable and we’ll leave it at that.

Between Look Who’s Talking and its sequels, Travolta found himself back in film culture. This ruffled feathers, which is actually my second memory of Travolta that stands out: Quentin Tarantino talking down about Travolta being in “a baby movie” either after his casting for Pulp Fiction or after the film aired at one film festival or another. It was repeated a few times, Tarantino couldn’t believe someone like Travolta had been in a baby movie! How could this happen?! It’s a quirk of cinema in general, for actors to be brushed off or working in roles that seem beneath them because of a lack of offers form the high. Heck, actor Dom Ameche was working dinner-acting jobs because no one would call him and offer work opportunities. It was what he’d already achieved professionally that got him cast as one of the Duke Bros. in Trading Places without even having to read for the role… But it was the first role in a feature film in 13 years.

Travolta had roles though. One of them, his pre-Look Who’s Talking film, is what I’m trying to segue to. I don’t recall exactly when I got exposed to The Experts, but I did catch it on HBO and it’s a quirky spy-comedy that has one immense quirk driving me nuts lately: an intangible soundtrack.

To summarize the movie: Two (Travolta and Arye Gross as Travis and Wendell) unlucky hipsters who keep failing at starting a club in New York agree to trying to launch a club in a small town. They find themselves in a reclusive, socially stunted (read: 1950’s down-home style) place without a lot of normal, modern aspects of society. They don’t find out until much, much later it’s actually a spy town within the Soviet Union. It’s a play on the Cold War and a contrast of culture. The flick didn’t exactly set any precedence but it’s not bad either. Maybe now it seems extra dated – Travolta had a mullet, which should tell you enough – because the Cold War isn’t a driving factor in society.

All of this leads to that aspect about the soundtrack that is driving me nuts: how you can’t find it. While I say the movie comes off dated now, one song promoting Americana can stand the test of time as it’s a nationalism/pop culture ditty called “Hometown U.S.A.”. The song was part of the closing of the film, I’m not going to give spoilers on that… It was quite fitting for when it was played, I’ll just say that.

Yet you can’t find the song in digital music stores. The lyrics aren’t posted anywhere that can be found on a Google search. The song itself is posted on YouTube but the quality of the copy is suspect (at least from my hearing). The artist, for the curious, is credited as David Morgan, with writing credits going to Harold Payne, Pete Luboff, and Pat Luboff. It got posted on July 4th, 2011 – 22 years after the film’s release and yet again fitting as it was the 4th of July.

How common is this in film, where songs just disappear? Ones that stand out to you and yet you can’t find them anywhere besides in the film itself?  I’m not talking about Matthew Broderick’s clarinet playing during Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; I mean specifically songs crafted for films that just slip away. Another 1980’s film song that I was searching for in the last year (just to find the full performance of it) was “Paradise” by Kaylee Adams, which you can hear a snippet of in the movie White Water Summer. The only thing I had luck in finding was the movie clip itself and some employ pages / other Kaylee Adams songs.

A song is something that lasts in your mind if you connect to it or what images it’s tied to, or what feelings are around when you hear it. Songs tied to movies are especially going to leave a mark with you if you like the scene they’re part of… And that’s a fact even if the film is a bomb in cinema – the music can still leave a mark and a memory, which can still draw interest (and make the entertainment industry a dime) years and years later.

The movie “Cast Away” and a “What if….?”

It’s been a long while, but I’ve got me a What-If…

One of my favorite movies is Cast Away. an early Aughts tale of an executive who survives a jetliner crash and has to live on a desert island for four years. Some people hate the movie because of its FedEx advertisement nature — FedEx is everywhere in this film and it gets to the point where the product placement is unbearable. Even though it’s not true product-placement as-so-much brand name use on props. It gives a little more reality than if Chuck Noland had been an employee of the oft-used-in-film  Pacific Courier shipping company.

At any rate, I enjoy the film. the emotional stuff and the open “where do I go from here?” end to the film.
I got bored the other day and started tooling around IMDB. I’ve looked at their “Trivia” section for Cast Away in years previous and just wanted to see things again. Some of the facts seemed to have been changed, some of them seemed to be deleted (I do recall hearing that there was a different ending to the film originally that did not test well and was replaced. Hearsay and speculation on my part because I cannot find reference to this on the web).

One piece of cynical trivia that was on that page, however, caught my eye, and spoilers are ahead for those who have not seen the movie. Read More

Sports journalism that hasn’t quite been “honest…and unmerciful”

For a very long time I’ve had problems with reading local newspaper reports about the local teams. It’d usually be Marc Topkin that’s rubbed me the wrong way — assuming tthe Atlanta Braves were Tampa Bay’s team in the early 1990’s, reporting personal favoritisms as fact with Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays (which seldom goes on today ) and is often proved wrong. This has nothing to do with Topkin as a person, it had everything to do with how an “inside” story was being presented, or from the angle in which the facts were aligned up (that Atlanta Braves angle, which I mentioned).

This is an example of how the media sometimes gets things lumped on it for setting the narrative. Stories that are carried, stories that are ignored, angles that are looked at and the “factual” narrative. I’m not going to even try to take on the general perception of the media and news reporting, by doing it I open myself up to the same criticism after all.

The point of this story isn’t about that at all anyway. It’s another thing I am noticing that hinders traditional media reports as well as gives a narrative that fans start following, the message that they start following. Â It’s their personal relationship with who they are writing about. Read More

The Stand and the hyper-sensationalism of Swine Flu

I’ve had “Don’t Fear the Reaper” in my mind lately, with the song wailing and images of the corpses throughout that military installation where the made-for-TV version of Stephen King’s epic, The Stand, starts.

That had nothing to do with the news that has been buzzing around lately. Odd coincidence, though…

I guess it was when a friend on Facebook posted this status that I really woke up to it:

looks like captain tripps does exist!!! awesome!!!

Ah yes, “Captain Tripps” — the nickname for King’s super-flu from The Stand. What’s next? Corin Nemec joining Fox News coverage, staking out the Center for Disease control and trying to insinuate this is all the Democratic Party’s fault? (Corin Nemec, for those who don’t understand the reference, played Harold Lauder: outcast-nerd-turned-turncoat; in the miniseries. He also used to be Parker Lewis. “Not a problem. ?”)

Anyway, forget The Stand for a minute and let’s just go back to the sensationalism of the coverage of the Flu. From what reports would have you believe, death-rates are high (like 10%+) and we’re all screwed. Joe Biden didn’t help things this morning by stating public caution.

But really, I wish people would just stop watching TV coverage of this and just become aware of the facts and just go about their lives. The flu sucks and is known to be deadly… But unless people start showing severe symptoms and start dropping dead in mass in New York instead of showing only mild symptoms… Well, it’s a panic that seems straight out of a work of fiction.

…And to be honest, King’s work of fiction was a lot better than the news coverage we are seeing in reality.

Let me point to it again — read the articles here. If you only want to spend time reading a single article, read the fourth in that series. And calm the hell down!

I got me a “What If…?”

Did you ever browse around in a comic book store as a kid and find the Marvel “What If…?” comic books? Books that were about renown comic book characters but “What if…?” something about them was different: Part of their backstory, part of their powers, or results of one thing or another that has happened in their comic books…

I won’t go into the geekdom of the what-if concept and the different stories that were based on this. Let’s just say it as a venerable butterfly effect — the flapping of wings on a different continent were part of the reason why a typhoon formed in the Pacific Ocean. One small happening causes a huge domino effect and results in something seemingly indirect and different to happen. That kind of thing.

Today I came across (by way of Dave Lowe) a joke observation from the Back To The Future saga and the original movie. It was composed as a (profane) letter from Doc Brown to Marty McFly regarding one of Marty’s choices on the eve of November 12th, 1955. It’s funny as hell but it leaves you wondering just how different the story would have turned out if Marty McFly had done things differently?

So I got me a “What if…?” like this regarding a movie that I love. It’s (the film’s) basis is pretty simple and was the framework for plenty of different action movies from the late 1980’s through the 1990’s.

The movie in this case is Die Hard. Read More

Vote Calrissian

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

going to "wars"

I’ve got a few minutes here while waitng for technical support to get back to me on a plugin issue with some software, so I’m doing my normal Wednesday web-surfing rounds while I wait and I come across the always enjoyable Penny Arcade (10 years of Tycho and Gabe! All rejoice!) and their latest comic and it gets me to thinking…

One thing I hated about the Star Wars prequels was the defining of the Force, or the defining of Storm Troopers (they were all clones!) and other rationalizations that killed the mysticism of the original trilogy. Conversely, it’s the pop culture references to Star Wars and inane in-depth discussion that I love. I mean, Clerks? Randall and Dante musing about the construction and destruction of the 2nd Death Star? INSANELY Funny in it’s inanity.

There are other places that don’t immediately come to mind regarding Star Wars and inanities about the how and other side stories that never get to the forefront of the story. One of the classics that I can think of is this image:

…and of course Penny Arcade’s latest comic seems like another great example… Though it goes a bit beyond just Star Wars: It’s the story about henchmen’s families. You see guys getting offed here and there… But we don’t care about them. That doesn’t mean other’s don’t.


Die Already: A review of “Live Free or Die Hard” (Die Hard 4.0)

(Personal note — I haven’t written movie reviews on the site in quite a while with thanks to participating at times in a forum discussion at about movies that were last seen. The following is an elaborated version of the post I made on the forum thread)

I had one question every time I saw positive reviews this summer for Live Free or Die Hard. It’s a rather basic question that no one would really answer — or would give aloof answers to: Does this film live up to the Die Hard franchise standard? I’ve posed this question directly to professional movie critics without an answer

Die Hard, in general, was built on an ultra-simple principle: a situation at a location with a reluctant hero caught in the middle of whatever the hell was going down. It’s part of a generation of action movies where everything was Die Hard on a…; Die Hard on a bus, Die Hard on a plane, Die Hard on a train, Die Hard on a battleship…

The original — 1988’s Die Hard — set the standard for the genre and began the franchise with out-of-place NYPD officer John McClane – barefoot, out-manned and outgunned, with the cops outside working against him. The second film (Die Harder) was Die Hard in the airport. Not as good but it was still the story of John McClane in the wrong place at the wrong time… Same character but with some graveness to his dialog which made the movie weird. Instead of a tower, it was Dulles Airport that was under siege.

Live Free or Die Hard official poster

“Live Free or Die Hard” aka “Die Hard 4.0” — the official poster.

Die Hard: With a Vengeance elaborated the setting. It wasn’t a fixed location but all of New York. It still worked if you ask me because you had McClane, you had a semi-fixed setting on Manhattan Island (and around New York)… You had deep links to the first movie with references to the past, and yet this time it wasn’t John out of his element but thrust into things in his home. Oh, and John McTiernan directed (who filmed the original Die Hard). You can see the resemblance to the original with the cinematography employed, and McTiernan’s trademark directly-behind-the-actor light shots. Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson played well off each other to boot. It’s not as highly regarded as the first but it beats the hell out of the second film.

Then you have this… this… this piece of shit that they pushed on moviegoers this summer.

The balance of good-guy, bad-guy (on screen time) is too even — that’s the first sign this doesn’t stand up. Less is more. It’s also hard to feel intimidated by “ready the video uplink”, “start the download”, etc…

Then you have McClane himself — it’s not the fact he’s older or his head is shaved: He’s a caricature of himself while playing a minimalist role. John McClane traditionally has been a rambling, sarcastic, insulting, sometimes arrogant, belligerent asshole. That isn’t the character portrayed on screen by Bruce Willis this time. Oh, sure, he’s got his moments but this isn’t McClane. This doesn’t feel like McClane. This felt like The Terminator — especially with all the shit McClane is put through, where he’s tossed around like a rag doll, falling several floors and bouncing off blunt objects and he still gets up and keeps going with seemingly no damage. That’s not John.

I mean, come on! The every-guy, mortality of John McClane was one of the things that made him great. Who can’t remember McClane running around barefoot in Nakatomi Tower? And what happened — he got shot, he got tons of glass put through his feet, and you saw him suffer that and doubted he’d survive. You had less of that in Die Hard 2, but you had more of it (except the jump-off-a-boat absurdity near the end) in With a Vengeance. This time? No — he’s got some cuts but he’s too much like the energizer bunny (which he mocks in With a Vengeance) to be hurt. He wheels around Matt Farrell (the Mac guy, Justin Long) and who do you think of but Ah-nold playing the Terminator, wheeling around Eddie Furlong in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (all of this helped along by that minimalist dialog that I talked about).

Oh, and the location isn’t fixed. If the first three films can be directed at exact settings (“Die Hard. Die Hard at the Airport. Die Hard in New York”) this film can’t. (Die Hard America? Die Hard in Cyberspace with real-world consequences? Die Hard avoiding Traffic?)

This might have been a great stand-alone movie but it sucks as part of one of the biggest action movie franchises in film history. It doesn’t fit. It’s odd that the original movie was conceived as an Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle… Because Live Free or Die Hard plays exactly like one.

A month later

So it’s exactly a month since surgery-eve and I’m doing ok physically… Aches and pains still but I’ll manage. Not wanting to go out in public much due to my eyes not being tip top, nor my hearing, or my hair for that matter. I’ll live though.

There are some things starting to get to me though. I guess I was spoiled rotten during my hospital stay and my recovery and now I feel like I’m socially in a black hole. Limited reach outs from friends, limited shout outs and more, and less.

There’s also a lack of focus I am experiencing right now that un-nerves me. For the past 2 weeks I’ve been spot on with focus. On the ball. I see something that needs to be done, I do it. If someone else has something that needs to be done and isn’t sure of steps, I consult. I consult when not requested (and not in a rude way, it coincides needed productivity for a dormant product). I was all over the friggin’ place. AND I was hitting the ball out of the park on this shit! It was incredible, it was a rush…

…It was temporary?

I’m procrastinating more right now — with incoming emails, with to-do projects and what not — than I have at any time since I went to the hospital. There’s just this… social dread? I dunno… Part of me wants to get it done, knows I gotta get it done, knows I NEED to get it done.

The other part of me wants to chill out and surf the web and wait for someone to distract me. The people I want to distract me get credence while the people I don’t drive me back to work.

How about that? “Test your worth to John! Send him an IM during anti-social/anti-productivity hour and if he drops you for a project, you know your value!”

Newest skill test at the state fair, ya’ll. :-p

Oh, one other thing that is getting to me lately… Why can’t I enjoy movies any more? I feel a horrid pain when I watch Superman Returns (who hasn’t?) due to Bryan Singer’s epic scoping of the film and lack-of-editing to make Superman seem more likable. I saw The Two Towers before surgery and thought it (again) a disaster of editing proportions. That’s what I am seeing everywhere — edit, voice-over, edit, edit, chop, dissolve, blah, blah, blah… And these aren’t action sequences where I see them (most of the time)! Is it just heightened perception or should I burn my DVD Collection, get rid of my cable box and renounce Speilburg?

DVD play revisited

More than three years ago I wrote about the end-of-life of my original DVD player. It was a pretty sweet machine and I was sad to see it go.

Especially sad when I’ve tried the competition.

My first replacement player was a Toshiba progressive scan blah-blah-blah that was purchased in 2004. The player was slow, annoying and overheated easily. I started looking for a replacement for that sucker (casually) last fall and mentioned to family how I’d like a new DVD player for Christmas.

My older brother obliged me. I wish he hadn’t.

While I was looking at the new systems and thinking there was a chance I could buy a player from either side of the current format war, my brother went out and bought me a DVD Recorder. Pretty nice, right?

Yeah, it’d be real nice if it wasn’t a bottom-of-the-line Memorex player which cannot even send closed captions to my TV in a timely fashion during standard DVD playback. Movies end up being somewhat like watching dubbed karate movies with captions being displayed well after someone speaks.

Just a little annoying for this hearing impaired movie fan.

Factor in a poor remote control that focused on recording aspects instead of play (as well as additional captioning lag, if not dropped captions, if you paused or fast forwarded through a portion of a DVD) and you have all the makings of a gift that counted for the thought — nothing more.

So for the last several months I’ve been watching movies on my computer instead of on my DVD player which is bothersome as well (17″ monitor replacing a 27″ TV will do that) and I finally decided enough was enough. Twice now, I have had equipment purchased for me by my elder sibling (who’s motto sometimes is “I don’t care” — he’ll get the job done but getting the job done is more important than doing it well sometimes) and both times I was fed a shit sandwich. Enough is enough.

I went shopping on Amazon yesterday.

The only thing that guided me on my search was the quality I had found in my original DVD player. Panasonic had won me over in it’s simplicity and quality (you know, what companies are supposed to do with their products instead of winning you over by being the lowest priced object on the “clearance” rack at Wal-Mart). I didn’t want tons of bells and whistles (no DVD-R this time, no Blu Ray or HD-DVD) and ended up choosing a highly-ranked unit that costs a little more than a fifth of what I paid for my original player back in 1998).

The only down side is having to wait for it to arrive.


Well, I rarely give props to links I add to my blogroll but seeing this is Madeline’s 2nd birthday today, I thought I would announce (for good measure) the addition of a link to Whippet Rescue and Placement.

A loyal, sweet, athletic and extremely bright breed of dog — Whippet Rescue and Placement focuses on finding homes for Whippets that need them. These are usually rescued animals that either had problems in their former homes or just couldn’t be looked after any more.

Stand alone Pottermania

Ever since Chris Columbus left the Harry Potter movie franchise I’ve found the films to be both entertaining and thrilling. I had read the first book (Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone) and was totally aghast when I saw how incredibly lame it came off.

It compelled me not to read another Potter book to avoid similar disappointments… at least until after I had my curiosity piqued by way of the film adaptations of Prisoner of Azkaban and the Goblet of Fire.

The latter film had enough of a hook to make me want to know what was going to happen next… It nagged at me. I didn’t care for the film as much as Prisoner of Azkaban when I first saw it because it ran so long and had so much going on… But it grew on me. Repeated viewings made me appreciate it more and the ending compelled me to return to Potter literature.

Cal it a Wrath of Khan/Empire Strikes Back negative closing and how it makes you ponder where the story goes from there. Goblet of Fire pulled it off (even if the film lacked the multiple side stories that J.K. Rowling worked into the book).

So I picked up Order of the Phoenix and read it through – finding Rowling’s narration exquisite and the story compelling just as I found the first book to be. While I’ve read about the new movie (due out this summer) through Entertainment Weekly and about which side stories are shelved (Ron playing quidditch, Dobby the house-elf making a return, etc) there is enough going on to keep you interested.

And after seeing the International trailer for the film — I’m dying to see this adaption:

Deductable "Prestige"

Last year, there was a bit of a hoopla made out for Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige… A tale of dueling illusionists at the turn of the century. The castings of Christian Bale and Michael Caine made me think Nolan was tied up with his Bat-crew. Hugh Jackman being cast gave my fan-boy heart a lift. Wolverine vs. Batman! In turn of the century London! Bloody good show!

So when I read Stephen King lauding the film in Entertainment Weekly late last year, it just refreshed my desire to see this film and it’s “outstanding twist of an ending”.

(EDIT NOTE: King lauded The Illusionist. I suspected this and had rented the movie specifically because of it. It was my brother who made a big deal about The Prestige‘s twist ending)

A few weeks back, I watched The Illusionist with Edward Norton and after my older brother watched it — he told me it wasn’t shit compared to The Prestige. “There is a surprise ending. It’s awesome. I saw it in theaters, you have gotta get it when it comes out on DVD.”

Me and Michael usually can enjoy the same movies so I thought I would be in for a real treat by the time I got to see the film on DVD.

I’m still waiting for that “surprise ending.”

Maybe it was because of the tip offs that the ending had a twist, but more likely it was a failing of craftmanship by Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan (superb filmmakers, I’m just a blogging critic with no credibility) in trying to hide the ending. Hell, maybe they didn’t set out for it to be a surprise at all? Never the less, I wasn’t floored by the “fooling” that took place.

While I loved The Illusionist specifically for it’s cinematography (19th century Vienna done gorgeously), I loved Prestige more for it’s actors as I had said above. Jackman, Caine, Bale — a superb threesome at the top of the bill. Yet as the movie unfolds, the pairing of Caine and Jackman’s characters over and over again don’t seem to properly balance with Bale. In fact, Jackman and Caine came off like antagonists at times, while Bale’s character’s shroud of mystery was both too revealing and too charismatic. You knew things would turn around for him at one point and all you had to do was wait. Wait. Wait.

They didn’t really turn around but lets just say he won in the end, and the fact he did wasn’t a secret or a surprise ending. Anyone watching can deduct what was going to happen by simple banter between Bale and Jackman before the two illusionist trainees had their falling out.

Nolan’s tale is worth checking out even without my little clue listed below. It reaches across two continents and has a grand mixing of characters and incidents. But from the get go you could see enough to know the hook….

***SPOILER WARNING (vague but a Spoiler) ***

A total devotion to ones craft is mentioned early in the film, and like any mystery it’s the line that should stand out. In fact, this is something that should easily be deduced even before the film starts. Any magician has to put on a charade for the public. A grand charade both on and off the stage in order to convince people.

Dual personalities, dual physical characteristics and conditions, dual memories. Dual memories.

While someone forgetting what knot they tied around the hands of an assistant who gets killed tragically makes sense — the grief, the horror, the shock all taking it’s tole on the psyche — it makes more sense if you weren’t there at all when it happened. You need to make an excuse and your other persona needs to employ that excuse in order to keep your character believable.


Yeah, that’s not a clear revealing of the “surprise ending”. The movie is good enough to watch that you should. Just pay attention.

birthday observations

OK so today is my birthday (October 7th)…

It’s also the birthday of Shawn Ashmore who plays Bobby Drake/Iceman in the X-Men movies.

Coincidentally — the character Bobby Drake and his birthday is also supposed to be October 7th.

Universal Home Video DVD's suck…

Yeah, they are filled with bonus material. Yes, the movies tend to be really cool or funny

But is Universal Studios and Universal Home Videos able to CLOSED CAPTION a single DVD? Noooooooooo.

Instead, what Universal does is SUBTITLE films, thinking this will cover the hearing impaired just fine and dandy. In some cases — things are indeed fine. But white text on a bright or white background (any given movie image) makes Subtitles a pain in the ass and impossible to read. It’s quite possible to entirely miss out on certain scenes from films because the text subtitles blend in to well.

The above is an example image of a CLOSE CAPTIONED broadcast… See how the text is laid against a black screen?

This is an example of a Universal DVD with subtitles. Notice the location of the titles? On the picture with absolutely nothing to contrast the text with. It’s easy for the text to become illegible depending on the scene.

Of course, most computer DVD playing programs let you change the subtitles around a bit — make them different colors, different fonts and so forth… You don’t have that option on stand-alone DVD players…

Universal prefers subtitles to keep things on teh cheap. It doesn’t matter if hearing-impaired fans have a hard time (or can’t access the bonus materials — a common problem from all Home Video companies). It just comes down to their financial bottom line. Cheap bastards.

The Many Sides of Nathan Fillion

I’m watching the Joss Whedon TV Series Firefly on DVD at current… This was after having to plain give up on the Serenity movie after 7 minutes of confusion while watching it. Serenity definitely needs to be watched only by those who have some clue about the Television show and the characters involved.

That being said, I’ve also been trying to grapple with all of the characters and people Nathan Fillion‘s captain Malcom Reynolds reminds me of while I watch.

When you first watch the series and see that it’s a space opera, this is a sarcastic, treacherous scoundrel who is living and flying job-to-job… You think of what any Sci-Fi fan would think and find Reynolds to be Han Solo‘s reincarnations….

But hold the phone, folks… There’s the earth-bound loyalty, no-holds-barred “we gotta get through this situation” type aura to Reynolds as well. He can be witty while relentless, he’s a soldier and a schemer in the same breath… But that loyalty to his crew – however pissed off he is at them or not – reminds me squarely of Tommy Lee Jones portrayal of Deputy Samuel Gerard in The Fugitive and US Marshalls.

Then there is Fillion himself. He’s joked about being given roles time and again to play a man of the cloth but the actor he reminds me most of in his mannerisms is Dennis Quaid — or Captain Tuck Pendelton from Innerspace to be more exact.

Pretty well rounded character if you ask me. Just don’t ask me to comment on “Animal Mother IN Space / Jayne Cobb” played by Adam Baldwin.


This is part of the reason I am not dying to see King Kong.

The other par happens to be the fact I am not overwhelmed with what I am seeing in the trailers. The fanboys have been oohing and aahhing on Ain’t It Cool, but what I am seeing is the exact reason why I didn’t jump on Van Helsing a few years ago: CGI to the extreme and marketing tie ins galore.

This isn’t wishing ill on Peter Jackson who is awesome, this is saying that Universal may have coughed up another turkey by trying to re-interpert an old piece of their property. I hope I’m wrong for Jackson’s sake though…

Fifty Years To the Day

It’s been 50 years since Doctor Emmett Brown discovered time travel…

Just noticed the date and had the memory of Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd)  talking to Marty (Michael J. Fox) about “the Red Letter Date in the history of science, November Fifth, Nineteen Fifty….Five… Yes, of course, November Fifth, Nineteen Fifty-Five… Hah!”

One of the greatest movies of all time, and even in fiction – it’s hard to just overlook the day for pop culture sake

Movie Trivia – Round 8

What inspired George Lucas to use the name R2-D2 in Star Wars?

Movie Trivia – Round 7

I’ll make this one Reaaaaaaaaaally simple for you folks….

Who wanted Smoochy the Rhino dead?