Friday means two things: the weekend is almost here, and the weekly News Bites are here. This week’s a little on the light side (after a few heavy weeks), although there’s some TV schedule news I’m holding in reserve until I can sort through it all. What’s left is curiously mostly sequel and reboot news — but then, that’s not all that unusual. So to see what’s going on this week, keep reading. Continue reading
I ought to be more familiar with Tintin than I am. My local public library’s children’s section had hardbound volumes of all or most of the comics in the series as I was growing up. I could have gone through pretty much the whole run. But I first looked at them when I was still in first grade — perhaps just a bit too young for a series that was aimed more at teenagers. A couple books didn’t catch on with me for whatever reason, and I never went back to them. Instead, I wound up going over and reading a different Franco-Belgian classic comic, Asterix (also aimed at young adults, but more overtly funny to a youngster). I don’t regret reading the Asterix comics for a second (as an adult I can see how brilliant they are), but I do regret passing up on Tintin way back when.
This “almost but not quite” familiarity left me with an odd form of anticipation when Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg came out with The Adventures of Tintin in 2011. I knew what Tintin was, unlike most Americans, but I knew very little more. I knew the general tone of the stories, but not the specifics. I could recognize Tintin, Snowy, Captain Haddock, and Thompson and Thomson… but I didn’t know the characters. Seeing the previews was an odd mix of nostalgia and novelty at the same time. It became one of my most anticipated films of 2011… but as bad luck would have it, I didn’t manage to see it until now. That said, it was well worth the wait. Continue reading
Got an assortment of short films to cover today. Rather than give each of them individual full-length reviews — I find it hard to justify giving a 20-minute film an entire day to itself — I thought I would cover the three of them in a single post. Two are comedies, one is science-fiction; two are effectively silent films, one is a talkie; and all are black and white and older than 1950.
The three films? The Three Stooges short Brideless Groom, Georges Méliès’s famous A Trip to the Moon, and the Charlie Chaplin Keystone short The Rounders. Continue reading
When one is a blogger, it’s natural that from time to time one blogs about blogging. I’m fairly sure any writer periodically thinks about the writing process itself. And being a blogger leads to being part of blogging communities, which in turn leads to discussions about blogging. It’s all very circular.
As I am mostly a movie blogger, and read movie blogs, one of the questions I see come up often is how we all go about writing our reviews. I’ve generally just given a few short lines, but I thought I’d do a full post on my process here. People might find it interesting, and other bloggers might find it useful — or have suggestions that I’ll find useful. Either is good. Continue reading
The second part of my Buster Keaton double feature from the other day– and the intentional part — was the 1924 film Sherlock, Jr. It’s one of Keaton’s better-known films, and one of the more critically acclaimed ones. Like many of Keaton’s works, it not only stars the comic actor, it was directed by him as well. Unlike many of those works, in this case the director credit is given to Keaton outright and is not shared with another director.
Keaton plays a theatre projectionist who fantasizes about being a private detective. He gets his chance when a watch belonging to his girlfriend’s father (Joe Keaton) is stolen. Unfortunately for the would-be hero, his rival (Ward Crane) has framed him for the crime. Continue reading
I didn’t actually watch Our Hospitality intentionally, at least not at first. I hadn’t even been aware of this 1923 Buster Keaton film (directed by Keaton himself with John G. Blystone) until I was about 20 minutes into it. This is, I’ll grant, a bit of an odd situation for movie viewing, but it’s simple enough. I had intended to watch Sherlock Jr., one of Keaton’s more acclaimed films that I’d been wanting to see for some time. But when I selected it, the streaming service I was using had it as the second feature following Our Hospitality; this wasn’t mentioned on the Sherlock Jr. icon, and I was looking away from the screen at the time the title card came up. So it took a little while before I realized that what I was watching wasn’t merely different from what I expected from Sherlock Jr. but was rather a different film altogether.
And so instead of a relatively short feature, I wound up watching a moderately long Buster Keaton double feature. Well, there are certainly worse ways to spend an evening, and worse films to stumble onto accidentally than Our Hospitality. Continue reading
It’s Friday morning, and that means another batch of news bites. This turned out to be a fairly busy week in Hollywood, with a whole lot of movie news coming to light. There’s a big mess of Marvel news, a touch of Turtle news, a dash of Disney, and an assortment of news on other major film operations. What there isn’t, strangely enough, is the need for a rumors section this week. Everything is relatively solid, at least what I came across. I’m sure there’s some random speculation out there, but I only came across a few items that come under that header, and they’re all tied to more definite news.
So for once, we can have a Friday without any major rumor-mongering. Read on! Continue reading
I have to confess, I had not previously seen any examples of Korean cinema. And indeed, had I merely stumbled across Chan-wook Park’s Oldboy blindly, I might have thought the premise sounded moderately interesting, but I may still have passed it by. But blogging can be good for broadening one’s horizons. I had seen Oldboy bandied about the comments sections of some other film blogs, and it was always praised as being a captivating, dark, and “sick” film. I had thought “sick” was simply being used in that odd slang sense of “really cool”, but this wasn’t the case; they actually meant sick as in disturbing. But I’m still glad I took the time to watch it, as it is very well done. Plus, the film is being remade in English by Spike Lee (set to debut this coming October), so the film turning up on my radar now meant it was a convenient time to see it before the remake — and thus before the arguments over whether the remake was as good, better, or an utter travesty.
Oldboy tells the story of Oh Dae-su (Min-sik Choi), a gregarious drunk who one fateful night has to be bailed out of jail for drunk and disorderly charges. But before his friend can take him home, Dae-su is abducted by unknown figures, and finds himself in a rather different prison. An apparently privately-run prison. He is not told why he is there, nor for how long his stay is to be. After fifteen years, he is released, just as suddenly and inexplicably as he was imprisoned. A greatly changed man, Dae-su sets out to find out who was responsible for his imprisonment, and why it was done — and to get his revenge. Continue reading
With the Harry Potter film franchise ending in 2011, it was only natural that Hollywood would start looking for the next young-adult sci-fi/fantasy franchise to exploit. Fortunately for them, there was already an heir apparent, with Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy already catching fire (if you’ll forgive the pun) with juvenile readers. Production started shortly before Harry Potter ended, and the first film debuted a little more than a year ago, in March 2012, under the directorship of Gary Ross.
Set in the future dystopia Panem, The Hunger Games starts with a brief explanation of what the world and the games are like. A civil war had erupted in Panem in the past, as different districts revolted against the capital. The rebels lost. Hard. As punishment, the Hunger Games were established. Once a year, a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected from each of the 12 districts. These 24 youths are then made to compete against each other in the Games, a brutal battle royale in an environment that the capital gamesmen can manipulate. There can be only one survivor. By the time of the film, the televised games are now in their 74th year, and the capital presents them as if they’re a big show of unity and fun for all the districts. The children of the districts have a differing opinion, as might be expected. When her twelve-year-old sister’s name is drawn in her first year of eligibility, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to be the female tribute for district 12 in her place. Continue reading
“Well, my telephone is ringin’
Only it was Chairman Mao
Just tell him anything
I just don’t wanna talk to him now”
– Van Halen, “Apolitical Blues”
It’s early May, and my voter’s ballot just arrived in the mail (Oregon has statewide vote-by-mail). There’s nothing on the ballot I really want to talk about, but that’s kind of the point. It’s a May election, in an odd-numbered year. Across the U.S. (international readers, don’t worry, though the examples may be from the U.S., the thrust of this isn’t U.S.-centric), people care to some degree about the issues, but it’s unlikely anybody’s getting into a full election-time fervor about it. Politics are vaguely on peoples’ minds, but they aren’t the dominant part of most peoples’ attentions right now.
That makes this a good time for me to talk about politics. Or more precisely, why I don’t generally talk about politics on my blog. Continue reading