Knocked Up

Just got back from seeing the new Judd Apatow movie “Knocked Up”. I really enjoyed it. It made me jealous because it’s exactly the kind of movie I’d like to make. Smart, funny, grown up. I would have made it 15 minutes shorter, though.

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Rob’s Film Rankings for 2006

Below is a pretty complete list of all the year-2006 movies I watched:

These first ten movies are the ones I enjoyed the most.  They are ranked from favourite down.  Of course, a “Favourites” list is always a fluid thing, so the order would change from day to day.  Still, I think these top ten would remain in my top ten, even if the order might change, whimsically.

PAN’S LABYRINTH
BABEL
CHILDREN OF MEN
THE DEPARTED
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
APOCALYPTO
THE ILLUSIONIST
BORAT

The following list are movies that I quite liked, but not quite enough to make my Top Ten.  They are not ranked.

UNITED 93
THANK YOU FOR SMOKING
THE QUEEN
IDIOCRACY
TRISTRAM SHANDY: A COCK AND BULL STORY
THE DESCENT
CASINO ROYALE
DREAMGIRLS

The next list are movies I more or less enjoyed, but were nothing special.

INSIDE MAN
FIREWALL
16 BLOCKS
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3
X-MEN: THE LAST STAND

This list are movies I watched and liked okay.  Some of them I had to search harder for likability than others.

LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN
EIGHT BELOW
AKEELAH AND THE BEE
NANNY MCPHEE
HOSTEL
POSEIDON
SUPERMAN RETURNS

These final movies are 2006 movies that I didn’t really enjoy very much.

V FOR VENDETTA
TALLADEGA NIGHTS

50 Films To See Before You Die

The Sunday Mail offers a list of 50 movies to see before you die.  If I don’t watch them all, then does that mean I’ll never die?

Without debating what’s missing, what shouldn’t be listed, it’s a pretty good list of films.  The ones I’ve seen are in bold.

1 Apocalypse Now

2 The Apartment

3 City of God

4 Chinatown

5 Sexy Beast

6 2001: A Space Odyssey

7 North by Northwest

8 A Bout de Souffle

9 Donnie Darko

10 Manhattan

11 Alien

12 Lost in Translation

13 The Shawshank Redemption

14 Lagaan: Once Upon A Time in India

15 Pulp Fiction

16 Touch of Evil

17 Walkabout

18 Black Narcissus

19 Boyzn the Hood

20 The Player

21 Come and See

22 Heavenly Creatures

23 A Night at the Opera

24 Erin Brockovich

25 Trainspotting

26 The Breakfast Club

27 Hero

28 Fanny and Alexander

29 Pink Flamingos

30 All About Eve

31 Scarface

32 Terminator 2

33 Three Colours: Blue

34 The Royal Tenen-baums

35 The Ladykillers (I assume they mean the original?  Either way, I’m covered.)

36 Fight Club

37 The Searchers

38 Mulholland
Drive

39 The Ipcress File

40 The King of Comedy

41 Manhunter

42 Dawn of the Dead

43 Princess Mononoke

44 Raising Arizona

45 Cabaret

46 This Sporting Life

47 Brazil

48 Aguirre: The Wrath of God

49 Secrets and Lies

50 Badlands.

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Faster Than A Speeding Bullet Review of Superman Returns

  •  Brandon Routh was great as Superman/Clark Kent.
  •  I didn’t care for the woman who played Lois Lane.  While I have no complaints about her quality
    of acting, I didn’t believe for a moment that her character was a journalist.  She needed to be someone a bit older looking,
    less coiffed and more world-weary looking, I think.  What’s-Her-Name from the Mummy movies would
    have been great, if she was younger.
  •  I wanted to hear some of her Pulitzer Prize winning
    article “Why The World Doesn’t Need Superman”, and was disappointed that they
    didn’t give me anything from it.
  •  I hated the scene in the airplane where Lois Lane was part of the gaggle of
    journalists, and the lone camera kept panning back from her (when she asked a
    question) to the person holding the press conference.  Wouldn’t the camera remain focused on latter,
    rather than pan between the two?  That
    really bugged me.
  •  Kevin Spacey’s Lex Luthor was a disappointment to me.  I wanted him to be either more campy, or less
    campy.  The amount of camp he gave the performance
    was too middling and ended up being un-noteworthy. 
  •  I also found his “evil scheme” to be beyond ludicrous and
    laughable.
  •  Parker Posey had a great amount of camp to her character, but
    since nobody really rose their bars to her level, it seemed kind of out of
    place with it.
  •  I appreciated the performance of Lois Lane’s husband.  Lots of subtle things happening there, I
    thought, and he ended up being a super kind of guy, too.
  •  I didn’t appreciate the performance of the kid who played
    the son.  And I didn’t like that “surprise”
    plot-twist that I never saw coming a million miles away (all the way from
    Krypton, perhaps?)
  •  I began to get really bugged when, after surviving
    catastrophe upon catastrophe, each time Lois Lane would end up back at the Daily
    Planet offices, looking refreshed and absolutely raring to go again,
    unconcerned with the psychological ramifications of the near-death experiences
    she had just gone through.  A little bit
    of realism in this respect (from all the characters) would have really helped me
    enjoy it more.
  •  The plot seemed to move as slow as the rough beast that
    slouches towards Bethlehem. 
  •  Far too frigging long.  And too slow-paced

 All that being said, I still enjoyed it okay.

Darth Vader (nee) Skywalker

Here’s a question that I have had for awhile, and don’t have the desire to go to the source and find an answer for.  Maybe someone who reads this will know the answer.

In Star Wars, Episode 4 (you know, the first Star Wars), is there an on-screen moment when Darth Vader learns that the kid (in which the Force is strong) is named “Skywalker”?   And, if so, does Vader react in any way that would indicate that the name Skywalker has special meaning for him?
Anyone know?  Or speculate?

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Butch, Sundance & Pamela Anderson

You may remember a couple of months ago, I was approached by a sort of grassroots marketing company and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing the newly released DVD of Pamela Anderson and posting it to my blog.  Of course you remember.  This blog is very important to you.  Anyway, I said I’d be delighted to do that (no qualms here about being a shill for the Hollywood machine).  So they sent me the DVD and I watched it, and posted what I thought was a fairly un-shill like review.  I’m not going to bother to find the post and provide a link to it, because somehow that implies these posts have worth.  And while I suspect a number of readers get disconsolate if I don’t post something fresh for them to read each day, and they would argue that these posts do have worth, at least to them, I prefer to think of these posts as empty vessels.
So, I reviewed it and that was that.  Until today, when the same company emails me and asks if I’d be interested in presenting another review.  Whereas last time I had to trek through the sludge of comedy that focused far too much on Miss Anderson’s gaping beaver (alleged)  (Alleged gaping, not alleged beaver, because I think we’re all pretty sure she’s not got dangling participles down there), this time I may have struck gold.  I’ll be sent a DVD of a new collector’s edition of one of my favourite movies:  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

And just now, having re-read those last couple of sentences, I realise how sad and pathetic it is to create a post about how one is excited about the anticipation of receiving a free DVD in return for being something of a corporate whore.
No.  I will not allow myself to fall for that kind of talk.  I am a valued member of the critical press.  My opinion is cherished.

It is also for sale.  If anyone else wants to send me stuff in return for my honest opinion of it, I’ll gladly listen to your offers.  Perhaps you have a photo you took, and you have no idea if it’s Art.  Send it to me, and I’ll tell you.  Maybe you’re in charge of soliciting low-ranking bloggers for their opinions on how well the latest video iPod works.  Send me one, and I’ll tell the world what I think.  Maybe you sell frozen beefsteak from the western provinces and are trying to get a foothold here in Eastern Canada.  Ship some steaks my way and I’ll cook ’em up and eat ’em.  Then I’ll tell the great multitudes of readers (conservatively estimated now at at least tens of ones) whether they’re worth purchasing.

A Professor Van Helsing Movie Quiz Answered

My pal, DaveS, pointed me towards this interesting movie quiz.  If you like movies, and feel so compelled, how about filling out your responses to the questions (I’ll post them in order at the end of this post so you can copy and paste, if you want) and putting them in the comments section here?
You don’t have to, but you might enjoy it.  I found I got more enjoyment in coming up with my responses than I thought I would.

It can be found here:

PROFESSOR VAN HELSING’S JUST-BEFORE-SUNRISE
WOODEN-STAKE-THROUGH-SPRING-BREAK QUIZ

     1) What film made you angry,
either while watching it or in thinking about it afterward?

One film that made me angry as
I watched it was Waiting…  I could only
take a couple of minutes of that shit.   Another teeth-clencher was Master of
Disguise
.  I couldn’t leave, because my
son was enjoying it.  Ugh.

A film that I tolerated as I
watched it was Crash, but then really, really grew to dislike it afterwards, as
I thought more about it, and as I saw the praise that was heaped on it.

2) Favorite sidekick

While I don’t think of them as
films, because I’ve only seen them on TV, Warner Bros. shorts are, I believe, acceptable
fodder for this quiz.  Therefore, I’d
say, without question, my favourite sidekick is Daffy Duck.  Although, I suspect he’d take issue with
being labeled as such.

3) One of your favorite movie lines

It was kind of a bachelor party
weekend for me, and I was in Halifax
with a couple of buddies.  We went to an
evening screening of The Untouchables. 
At the end of the movie, the reporter character asks Elliot Ness
(paraphrasing): “They say they may repeal the prohibition laws, Mr. Ness.  What will you do?”  Ness says “I
think I’ll have a drink.”  At the end of
a great movie, and with the prospect of an evening of drinking ahead of us,
that line really struck a chord with me, and was a great kick-start to the
night.

Other than that, there are at
least two-dozen lines from Raising Arizona
that I could easily list as among my favourites.

4) William Holden or Burt Lancaster?

I’d have to go with Holden,
only because I’m not familiar with much of Lancaster’s stuff.  And my memories of Burt focus more on his
more recent “old man” roles, which isn’t fair.  The few roles I’ve seen Holden in, I thought
he was good.  

 5) Describe a perfect moment in
a movie

I hate to cite a moment from a
movie I was involved in making, but I really think I have to:

The movie is Florid, about four
street people, in the dead of winter on PEI,
trying to raise enough funds to move to Florida
so they can bum there.  At one point, Ed
Rashed’s character is standing, in the cold, in front of the Arts Guild,
bumming money.  Laurie Murphy walks by,
but is stopped by Ed’s question:  “Spare
some change for a coffee?”  Laurie looks
at him in a somewhat disapproving manner. 
She knows what he’d do with any money she gave him.  So, she says, in perfect condescension, “No,
but if you come with me, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.”  Ed gives her a bitter, bitter look and says
“Fuck off!” as he turns away from her. 
Laurie, shaking her head, simply walks off.


6) Favorite John Ford movie

Of the few John Ford movies
I’ve seen, I’d say The Quiet Man would be my favourite.


7) The inverse of a question from the last quiz: What film artist (director,
actor, screenwriter, whatever) has the least–deserved good reputation,
artistically speaking. And who would you replace him/her with on that pedestal?

I’m not a fan of the acting of
two actors:  Julia Roberts and Rene
Zellwegger.   I think they get way more praise and credit than they deserve.  And I’m not going to
replace them with anyone, because I don’t like putting anyone on a pedestal.

 8) Barbara Stanwyck or Ida
Lupino?

I’m not really familiar with
Ida Lupino.  I know she was a some-time
actor and some-time director, so that’s cool. 
But it’s hard to go against Barbara Stanwyck, solely for her role in
Double Indemnity.


9) Showgirls
yes or no?

I’ll say it this way:  Yes, to the question of did I enjoy watching
it once.  No to the question of do I ever
want to see it again.


10) Most exotic or otherwise unusual place in which you ever saw a movie

Not very exotic or otherwise
unusual, but I’d have to go with a little theater on the main street in Rockport, Maine.  I believe we saw Roxanne?


11) Favorite
Robert
Altman
movie

I like M*A*S*H* quite a bit, but I think I’m going to say Short Cuts.  It had Tom Waits, too.

12) Best argument for allowing rock stars to participate in the making of
movies

I’m going to go in a different
direction on this one, and say that Colonel Tom’s pushing Elvis Presley into
movies probably did more good in curbing future rock stars from following that
route than it did bad in ruining Elvis’s music integrity.  Perhaps it served as a cautionary tale to
others to stick to what they do best. 
Let the actors act and the singers sing. 
It’s kind of like letting one kid touch a hot flame so that the rest of
the kindergarten class can learn the lesson too.

So, the best argument for
allowing rock stars to participate in the making of movies ends up being the
one that hopefully makes them think twice before contemplating their
participation in the making of movies.


13) Describe a transcendent moment in a film (a moment when you realized a film
that just seemed routine or merely interesting before had become something much
more)

It happens really early in the
film, and not only was it a transcendent moment of that film, but, for me, it
was a transcendent moment of Film.   The
little space ship zooms fast across the top of the screen, being chased by
weapon-fire.  What’s chasing it, you
wonder, as it disappears into the distance. 
Then, that huge, lumbering immensity of a ship appears at the top of the
screen, following the little ship, firing shots.  And it lumbers along, and grows bigger.  And lumbers along and grows bigger still.  And it doesn’t stop.  And it’s huge.  And then, finally, after what seems like an
eternity, the end of the ship is revealed, and the engines rumble and
boom.  That moment, for me, said so much
about what we, the audience in that theatre, were about to witness that
evening.


14) Gina Gershon or Jennifer Tilly?

I am not a fan of Gina Gershon,
really, and am fond of Jennifer Tilly’s performance in Bullets Over
Broadway
.  So, Jennifer Tilly.


15) Favorite Frank Capra movie

It’s boring, I know, to say so,
but It’s A Wonderful Life.  So many
iconic moments for me.  So many moments
when I know I’m going to tear up.


16) The scene you most wish you could have witnessed being filmed

I haven’t given this much
thought, and there are likely others, if I put my mind to it.  Truthfully, I’d be wary to view the making of many of my favourite scenes, for fear of having their “magic” lost by seeing the process.  But this scene, I think, would be fabulous to
witness:  the “rushing the bridge” scene
in The Longest Day.  It’s a wonderful
long single-shot scene involving dozens and dozens of soldiers, all kinds of
choreography, and a real sense of “okay, let’s get this right, because we only
have one shot at this”.  I’d want to be
standing about 10 feet away from the director, and watch the whole thing
unfold.

17) Robert Ryan or Richard Widmark?

Never heard of Robert Ryan, and
only vaguely familiar with Widmark.  So,
I’m just going to go with Richard Widmark, even without looking them up on
IMDB.

18) Name a movie that inspired you to walk out before it was finished

To my recollection, I’ve only
walked out of one movie:  Amos &
Andrew
.  I, along with the group I was
with, walked out in the first ten minutes or so.  To be fair to the movie, it wasn’t given a
chance by the group I was with.  But it
didn’t start very well, and combined with the absolute dumbest pre-show
audience, we were all more than ready to leave. 
We got our money back and cursed the idiots who go to movies.

19) Favorite political movie

All The President’s Men.  In second place, some distance back, would be
the original The Manchurian Candidate.


20) Your favorite movie poster/one-sheet, or the one you’d most like to own

Never really been a poster
geek, but I’d like to have either the poster for Jaws, or The Good, The Bad,
and The Ugly
.

21) Jeff Bridges or Jeff Goldblum?

Bridges, because I think he
more often serves the movies he’s in. Goldblum is always, always interesting to
watch, but sometimes his acting gets in the way of, well, his acting.


22) Favorite Ken Russell movie

Honestly, I’ve only seen a
handful of his movies, but of the ones I’ve seen, the one I most enjoyed was
The Lair of the White Worm.


23) Accepting the conventional wisdom that 1970-1975 marked a golden age of
American filmmaking in which artistic ambition and popular acceptance were not
mutually exclusive, what for you was this golden age’s high point? (Could be a movie, a trend, the
emergence of a star, whatever)

The 1974 Academy Awards Best
Pictures nominations:  The Godfather part
II, Chinatown, The Conversation, Lenny, The Towering Inferno

24) Grace Kelly or Ava Gardner?

Grace Kelly


25) With total disregard for whether it would ever actually be considered, even
in this age of movie recycling, what film exists that you feel might actually
warrant a sequel, or would produce a sequel you’d actually be interested in
seeing?

Totally disregarding the fact
that they’ve already been made, and that they’re prequels, not sequels, I’d
love to see Star Wars episodes 1, 2 & 3 remade with much more attention to
the script and to the quality of the acting. 
I’d love to have George Lucas totally give them over to some writers and
directors, and only provide whatever Industrial Light and Magic was asked of
him.  I would love to see those movies
made.

Here are the questions, if you want to have them for your own:

1)What film made you angry, either while watching it or in thinking
about it afterward?
2) Favorite sidekick
3) One of your favorite movie lines
4) William Holden or Burt Lancaster?

5) Describe a perfect moment in a movie

6) Favorite John Ford movie.
7) The inverse of a question from the last quiz: What
film artist (director, actor, screenwriter, whatever) has the least–deserved
good reputation, artistically speaking. And who would you replace him/her with
on that pedestal?

8) Barbara Stanwyck or Ida Lupino?
9) Showgirls— yes or no?
10) Most exotic or otherwise unusual place in which you ever saw a movie
11) Favorite
Robert
Altman
movie
12) Best argument for allowing rock stars to participate in the making of
movies
13) Describe a transcendent moment in a film (a moment when you realized a film
that just seemed routine or merely interesting before had become become
something much more)
14) Gina Gershon or Jennifer Tilly?
15) Favorite Frank Capra movie
16) The scene you most wish you could have witnessed being filmed
17) Robert Ryan or Richard Widmark?
18) Name a movie that inspired you to walk out before it was finished
19) Favorite political movie
20) Your favorite movie poster/one-sheet, or the one you’d most like to own
21) Jeff Bridges or Jeff Goldblum?
22) Favorite Ken Russell movie
23) Accepting the conventional wisdom that 1970-1975 marked a golden age of
American filmmaking in which artistic ambition and popular acceptance were not
mutually exclusive, what for you was this golden age’s high point? (Could be a
movie, a trend, the emergence of a star, whatever)
24) Grace Kelly or Ava Gardner?
25) With total disregard for whether it would ever actually be considered, even
in this age of movie recycling, what film exists that you feel might actually
warrant a sequel, or would produce a sequel you’d actually be interested in
seeing?