Third Tuesday Movie Day

Movie of the Month: Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva (2009, Masazuku Hashimoto)

Now here's something that isn't on your radar. Based on the mystery and puzzle-based videogame series starring the title character, this film was just recently released on DVD in the states, and I have to say the writing was a damn sight better than it is in the games.

In the games, you're propelled forward because of the challenge of the next puzzle - you can pretty much bail on the story, because try as you might to solve the mystery, the answer is going to be some stupid supernatural BS that was never on the table until that point and couldn't possibly be anticipated.

This movie, though, unravels its mysteries with more panache and begins with a Battle Royale-style (without the blood) smackdown between various puzzle solvers. The ending, admittedly, involves some pretty unlikely science, but the movie plays out like a big-budget action popcorn movie, so no harm done.

I once again mostly finished TV shows this month, or at least trudged forward. Battlestar has hit something of a lull, as has Twin Peaks (it's clear the producers were ill-prepared for life after Laura Palmer). I also finished the first season of Louie, which is sometimes awesome, and sometimes too intentionally shocking to be taken seriously, but never dull.

I also finally bit the bullet and watched James Cameron's Avatar. If you liked it, though, you don't want to hear my thoughts on it.

What have you seen?

157 thoughts on “Third Tuesday Movie Day”

  1. I watched Moneyball and Away We Go. Moneyball was what I expected. I enjoyed the first fifteen minutes and the last fifteen minutes of Away We Go. The rest was terrible.

  2. Hue and cry is that James Cameron gave no credit to Roger Dean for the floating mountains idea.

    I've watched the first two Swedish movies from the Millenium trilogy (I have to finish reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest before watching the last one) and I wasn't really very happy with them. I know story lines are changed to fit the movie length, but one aspect was changed that really didn't need to be, and I understand the American movie did the same. Only reason I can think of is it gave the audience a little more justice, I suppose. Which isn't enough reason to change it, in my mind.

    I also watched the latest Sherlock Holmes movie. Plenty of action, and Zimmer's soundtrack again is a treat. Two items hit me, though:

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    I haven't actively been watching Downton Abbey on Masterpiece (it's really just a period soap in mini-series form) but it's really well done, and it deserves the accolades it's been getting.

      1. On Craig Ferguson, he was talking to the girl from "Big Bang Theory", the one that wasn't on "8 Simple Rules", about "Downton Abbey" and he said that the first season was amazing but the second was not worth seeking out. I've not seen either, so take that for what you will.

  3. I saw Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and was left very unfulfilled. Gary Oldman was strong, as always, but they fell victim to the laziest trick in the book: solve a mystery through flashbacks already known to the character but unknown to the audience. One flashback was an extended scene told by another character who returned from months away - that was effective because we (the audience) were learning his story at the same time as Smiley (Oldman). Oh well...

    Sheenie and I have been watching Undeclared and made a return to Fawlty Towers in addition to continuing to plow through Battlestar Gallactica on the TV front.

  4. I've been finding it hard to watch movies these days. I've had Zodiac sitting at home for a week that I need to get to, and I blame Werewolf. (and possibly having a baby)

    I did watch the pilot episode of Terriers and loved it. I need to get to watching that whole season so I can be bummed that it was cancelled. Thanks, Zack.

    My wife has been watching Parenthood from episode 1 for the past few weeks, I think to punish me for something. She also watched the movie over the weekend and I was reminded how good the movie is and how much it contrasts with my hatred for the tv show.

    1. I saw Zodiac in the theater. It might be the last movie I went to without the kids, now that I think about it.

      The script is a little scattershot and unfocused, which is a bit of a necessity because of the source material, but Fincher's direction is great and he nails the mood as always, and Downey Jr. is excellent, of course.

    2. I am glad you loved it! I apologize in advance for how bummed you'll be that it's cancelled. It's a hell of a season of TV, though.

  5. Only two movies I've seen are The Muppets and The Muppets Take Manhattan. I liked the former considerably more. The songs, the energy, the jokes, all seemed to be more on target. Though I'm sure in 30 years there will be plenty of jokes from the former that feel dates as well.

    1. I watched Muppets Take Manhattan fairly recently and always was pretty bummed by how much it had aged (although Joan Rivers still looks the same!).

      1. I've seen The Muppets Take Manhattan so many times it's never really had the chance to feel dated. I know it's not their best by any stretch, but it's sort of a comfort movie, if you feel me. I quote the movie quite often, too - Gregory Hines in particular. "You gave her the huggies?!"

  6. I have The Lives of Others at home right now. I'm excited to watch it, but I want to give it my full attention so I'll likely do so tomorrow when I have a day off and Sour Cream isn't here.

    I finished the first season of "Treme" as well. Technically, all the pieces are there. The characters are vibrant, both the comedy and drama work and I really feel like I'm being dropped in NOLA's music scene. The only thing I can say against it is that, unlike "The Wire" (and many other great TV shows, though I used this because David Simon ran the show), no particular episode has an overarching theme or identity. I probably want those things more than most people, but as good as they are, most episodes are just a bunch of stuff that happens.

    Also, I'm halfway through season four of "Dexter" and without thinking, I read the back of the season five boxed set at work a few days ago. That was a big mistake.

    1. Considering The Lives of Others is my second favorite movie of all time, you better tell me what you think. And you better like it.

              1. Gotcha, I thought you were speaking for yourself.
                I forget that Beau is a close personal friend of yours (from outside the site).

    2. I kind of love shows where a bunch of stuff just happens, so I think I'm in the minority when I say that I adore that about Treme. I feel like the second season is a bit less slice of life-y, but it still doesn't have a really clear cut overarcing plot.

  7. Watched the latest Mission Impossible. A couple of the reviews nail my opinion of it: simple plot (duh), lots of action, and neat gadgets.

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    1. Dr. Chop and I went to MI:GP yesterday, and I totally agree with your opinion. I'm happy that this movie was more of a team effort, but wasn't blown away by anything.

  8. My wife and I watched the third episode of the first season of Sherlock. I'd agree with the consensus view that it's very entertaining though disappointed that there are only 3 or 4 more episodes to watch, thanks Hobbit.

    Had Magnolia sitting at home for nearly a month. I just couldn't fine the time to watch a 3+ hour movie. When I finally did watch it, I don't know that Mr. Anderson needed the entire 3 hours to tell that story. Don't get me wrong, I thought it was good, I just don't think it needed three hours. I felt like he had so many great actors that he wanted to make sure everyone had sufficient exposure. I know that's not how it works, but that's what it felt like.

    I also watched Collateral Damage. I don't know why.

      1. I've seen the first two episodes of season 2. The first is an adaptation of "A Scandal in Bohemia" and the second is "The Hound of the Baskervilles". I enjoyed the former much more than the latter. I'm waiting for my parents to get caught up so we can all watch the finale together.

    1. I love Magnolia despite the very obvious bloating. It's pretty excessive all around, really. I don't think it had to do with the actors; I think it's just a trademark of PTA himself.

        1. I definitely saw Magnolia at the right time. I was deeply into mood and cinematography at that point, as it was my focus in school that semester, and as such I forgave the bloated nature of the thing. Plus, nearly all the acting is top notch (I didn't really like Cruise in it, but I disliked him less than I ever have).

          I know it's probably not all that good, but I don't think I'll ever be able to dislike it regardless.

  9. I wonder if the stuff you found intentionally shocking on Louie is a lot of the same stuff from the season I wasn't a huge fan of.

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    I liked the first season a lot, but the second season is fantastic. It's pretty much better in every way, I think.

    The only movies I watched this month were Midnight in Paris and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. I've not seen much of Woody Allen's work, so I can't really comment on it in that context, but I really enjoyed Midnight in Paris. I can find Owen Wilson really overbearing if he's not in the right role, but I liked him a lot in this. I definitely want to watch it again.

    I found The Girl Who Leapt Through Time to be really charming and fun. I'd watched the director's follow up film Summer Wars this summer, so I was glad to finally get to see this. It's definitely worth a watch.

    Pretty excited that Delocated is finally out on DVD today. It's produced by PFFR who did the brilliant (and pitch black) Wonder Showzen. It's shot like a reality TV series about a family who is in the witness protection program. It contrasts the over the top setting with really deadpan humor. I've only seen about half of the first season, but I adored what I saw. I can't wait to watch the rest.

    1. Actually, none of those things were major problems I had, since the show plays out in a pretty unrealistic world. I'm talking about, for instance, the entire episode "God," which pulls our lead actor from the proceedings altogether in order to tell a story that's not really funny, and only works under the assumption that shock humor is still a thing, and I'm not sure it is.

      1. Ahhh, okay. That's actually one of my favorite episodes of the first season (my favorite is the definitely not funny "Bully"). I didn't find it funny, but I think that was mostly intentional (maybe his obnoxious friend was supposed to be funny, but I didn't find him funny, just like I didn't when I grew up with kids like that). One of the things I adore the most about the show is how you can never really tell if you're going to laugh until you cry, or if it's going to punch you in the gut in each episode.

        1. It was...weird. It's certainly a memorable episode, I'll give it that. Neither kid is much of an actor, which doesn't help.

          "Bully" was my favorite too, I think.

          1. i've been going through some episodes from season one again as i'm waiting for two to hit netflix. one of the things i love about the show is the fact that it's not necessarily a comedy (or least doesn't limit itself to that), but more of a platform for CK to say what he wants to say. i think the "god" episode is a great example of that. not my favorite episode, but i didn't dislike what he was trying to do.

            i couldn't say what my favorite from the first season is. maybe "heckler/cop movie", or the season finale "night out" (the ending of that one is really sweet).

            1. Yeah, I loved "Night Out" even before the swell ending.

              I'm with you on the stuff about CK going for some drama in there. It's just not what I expected, I guess.

              1. i wouldn't even necessarily call it drama, though it's not necessarily comedy either. frankly, i don't think it has to be one or the other (or, god-forbid, the "dramedy" label). i think it's CK with place to say what he wants in a way he wants to say it, and i love that FX has gone along with that so far. i'm not sure what you call it, but i'm comfortable with not trying to label it, and just enjoy what he's doing.

  10. I also finally bit the bullet and watched James Cameron's Avatar. If you liked it, though, you don't want to hear my thoughts on it.

    I finally watched Avatar a month or two ago. The best things I can say about it is that it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and that I've watched plenty of other movies that were considerably worse.

    1. I'm struggling to think of a movie disappointed me more (though I did see disappointment coming). It was infuriatingly stupid, and the allegory was so heavy-handed and obvious that I found myself laughing out loud at some of the dialogue. The main villain has to be one of the worst I can remember in film - he's drawn so one-dimensionally I couldn't take him seriously for a moment.

      1. I think the other Avatar disappointed me more. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the cartoon (The Last Airbender) and the movie was painfully bad.

        Basically, they stripped out all the interesting and funny parts of the cartoon, cast it as a drama, and then constantly pronounced the names differently than the cartoon did (i.e. wrong).

        1. I wouldn't touch a Shyamalan movie with a ten-foot pole, so I won't have the chance to be disappointed by that (nor would I have high enough expectations for "disappointment" to qualify). I do really like the animated series, though I've only seen the first season.

      2. Who are you considering the big bad of that movie? The ridiculous executive, or the testosterone-poisoned military guy? I found just enough action movie stereotype in the military guy that I liked him, the executive was awful.

        1. The testosterone guy. I might call him the most unbelievable movie bad guy ever. He did not belong in a movie that was clearly trying to aim higher and tell a real story.

    2. Avatar, or as it is more properly known, Pocahontas in Space

      plus, it takes "getting some tail" to a whole new place.

      1. Pocahontas in Space

        That's exactly what I called it once I saw a couple previews when it first came out. Watching the movie didn't change my first impression at all. I'm just glad I didn't watch it in 3D.

          1. Pocohontas pro: "Just Around the River Bed"
            Pocohontas con: Historical inaccuracy, rarely included in "Disney Princess" stuff

            Avatar pro: Cool stuff to see
            Avatar con: "Unobtanium"

  11. I've seen a fair amount of stuff over the last month, but mainly I wanted to mention that I saw Man on Wire and I loved it. Also just got through the second season of Mad Men last night. I like a lot about the show, but at times it's hard watching a show with no characters I can root for.

    1. I feel you, and I say that as a guy who in general doesn't need a protagonist to be a hero. Every character in every drama should be flawed, but these people are severely damaged. I do cheer for a couple of the ancillary guys, but they're pretty ancillary.

      Man on Wire catches my eye on Netflix every night. Perhaps I'll take that leap.

    2. it's hard watching a show with no characters I can root for.

      I have that same difficulty. If no one in a story has redeeming qualities, why in the hell should I care enough to follow the story?

      1. The thing that keeps me going is that they (seemingly) do such a great job of capturing certain aspects of life in the '60s. I wasn't around for the '60s, and certainly not around Manhattan in the '60s, but a lot of the sexism, ubiquitous smoking, etc., seems plausible and it's kind of refreshing to see something about the past that isn't all sepia tones.

      2. I'd argue that most of the main characters on Mad Men have some redeeming qualities; they just have negative qualities, too. I think there's a difference between having redeeming qualities and being a perfect hero character.

        1. I completely agree that most of the main characters on Mad Men have some redeeming qualities. I don't mind imperfect heroes (I love House, for instance), it's just that there's so much irredeemable stuff going on that I find myself somewhat alienated from the whole show. It's a bit like how I view On The Road. Good novel, sure. But I can't fit myself into that world at all and it just makes it a little harder to want to keep coming back. It's an interesting window on a different world, but many of the characters' actions are so far removed from how I would conduct myself it seems unrealistic. My rational self can reason that characters like this surely exist, but if you throw enough of them at me at once, I have difficulty buying into the premise. Similar in some sense to how I'm willing to buy a few unphysical assumptions when I watch science fiction, but eventually if you ask me for more leaps of faith, I'm out of faith.

        2. And just so this doesn't get lost in the trees: I really like Mad Men, it's just a hard watch for me sometimes.

      3. bhigs: I used to watch "Grey's Anatomy" so that I could watch the characters suffer and to validate my own life choices.
        But then they got rid of Katherine Heigl.

        The last episode I watched was the one with the singing. Before that, my wife had given up, so I was taping a girly show to watch after she went to bed. But I stopped caring enough.

    3. I'm glad they included Vertigo in that list, but they really shortchanged it. There's about 13 minutes of no dialogue, a few lines of dialogue and then something like another 6-7 minutes of no dialogue. It's amazing film making.

      EDIT: Crap this is suppose to go under CH below.

  12. I watched a bunch of DVD's, and went to the new Sherlock Holmes. I'll start there.

    S.H.- Game of Shadows- I enjoyed it. I think Ritchie tends to overuse the time slow-down effect, but in some cases I do appreciate it, like in large battles where it's easy to lose track of who is where and what is going on. Going into slow-mo makes some of the special effects even more impressive and allows me to track where each of the characters are more easily. Plotwise, I think it's a little tighter than the original, since there is a single, well-defined antagonist and a slightly more understandable evil plan than the first had. Sherlock's brother is a great addition.

    Wanted- I avoided this movie since it came out because of the absolute ridiculousness of the premise. I was pleasantly surprised at the depth the movie had, the plot moved along pretty well, there were a few twists along the way and I liked the movie way more than I thought I would. The beginning took a while to get going, and I wasn't overly impressed with the ending, but it was a pretty well-told story along the way. Sadly, the "curving the bullets" was only about the tenth most unbelievable thing in the movie, but overall, I liked it.

    Cowboys vs. Aliens- Again, pleasantly surprised by a movie that I had avoided due to first impressions. I would have liked to seen what the cast and director could have done with a straight western movie- the aliens just seemed like a strange plot device thrown in to justify explosions, while the parts with just the actors seemed much better to me. Good enough I re-watched it a couple times.

    Daybreakers- I like vampire movies. I don't know why since I'm almost always disappointed by them, but I keep hoping. This one at least had a totally different premise than most (vampires run the world!), and an interesting take on curing the affliction, but so many overly stupid "decisions" by various characters really derailed it for me. Right about on level with the latest Blade movie.

    1. I haven't seen the first three though they're on my list. Your encouraging notes may have pushed them towards the top of the queue.

      I enjoyed Daybreakers though it was fairly blah* at times.

      Edit *how's that for insight?

      1. If you don't expect a lot going in, you might like it. It still has some cornball/cheesy issues, but I don't mind that sometimes.

    2. Ooh, I forgot- I also watched Surrogates with Bruce Willis- it's a terrible robot-themed escapist movie. It actually reminded me of a combination of I, Robot (James Cromwell is in both) and Gamer, which isn't a good thing.

  13. A few days ago The Atlantic featured a post on classic silent sequences in unsilent films. I know the Marx Brothers aren't to everyone's taste, but Duck Soup is one of my favorite movies. I'd not seen Du rififi chez les hommes, but after watching all three portions of that sequence, I simply must watch the whole film. Also, if any of you have not seen a Melville film, particularly one with Alain Delon, you're missing out.

    Finally, that opening scene from Up is one of the most poignant sequences on film. Quite honestly, I'm not sure I'll ever again be able to watch it.

      1. the opening to Up didn't get to me the second time. I mean, it was still sad, but there were no tears. I haven't seen TS3 a second time yet.

        1. I was just about ready to stop watching Up after the opening, but my wife made me finish it. I still haven't seen Toy Story 3, but I should probably get around to that at some point.

    1. You might be interested in Fail-Safe if you haven't seen it already. Moss can't point to any extended scenes of silence, but there is no musical score and the tension is so thick that any silence seems extended. Great movie.

        1. Of course, you could pair it with Moss' alter ego movie...Dr. Strangelove. (Seriously, they're similar, but obviously Strangelove is a comedy where Fail-Safe is nothing but drama.)

      1. I saw it when I was 14. I remember liking it, but I doubt I was old enough to really get into it. I'll have to watch it again.

    2. The mirror scene in Duck Soup had me roaring. It's rare I can take off my critic's hat, but that scene had me so beside myself I felt like a little kid.

    3. I recently re-watched There Will Be Blood, and the (fairly extended) opening scene in that movie falls under the "sound but no dialog" category.

      1. I heard about people who walked out on that scene, unable to deal with the silence. I abhor these people!

        I saw a review (not professional) from a guy online who intimated that because WALL*E didn't have much speaking in the first half, it didn't have a plot. He was completely unable to find a story in there because characters weren't explicitly saying everything they felt. Bizarre.

        1. Also, I loved, LOVED the way No Country For Old Men used silence to show meat's neck of the woods.

        2. That scene's not even that long, is it? There's no way they'd make it through 2001. I saw There Will Be Blood with three friends and a friend of theirs. The latter mentioned after the movie that it was the worst movie she'd ever seen. (Much) later on, at an Academy Awards party, she proclaimed that it was a travesty that Hurt Locker won over Avatar because the latter would "change the way films are made." I haven't found anyone yet whose taste is quite so opposed to mine.

          1. I fell asleep at the beginning of 2001, but it was about 11 pm when I started it. I think that part could have been cut a little bit and it wouldn't have hurt my enjoyment of the movie.

            1. Upon rewatching it a few years ago, I didn't remember the beginning from the first time I watched it. Admittedly, my attention can be held by rather trivial things (throwing a ball back and forth, watching men try to throw a ball through a hoop, etc.), but the opening scene in 2001 seemed to move along quickly enough for my tastes.

                1. I'm definitely a believer that sometimes you just have to be in the right mood to watch a movie. I fell asleep the first time I saw Citizen Kane, and while it might not top my personal list, I still appreciated it when I saw it a second time around.

                  I used to watch movies with some grad student buddies on Sunday nights, projected in one of our lecture halls. (They were brave enough to give us the keys to the building, so we accepted their dare.) I generally seemed to be in a pretty contemplative mood at the time and it usually wasn't too late at night.

                  1. I fell asleep the first time I saw Citizen Kane

                    so, you are saying that there was some tough sledding in that film?

                    1. So, ubelmann is generally with me on this one. I always feel a little better when I'm aligned with the good Dr.

                    2. If only Tiny Tunes would have spoilered its opening sequence, I might not have spent the whole movie uninterested in the quest to find out what "Rosebud" means.

          2. Avatar changing the way movies are made is extremely unlikely, since a handful of movies per year, at most, get the budget that Cameron got for that film.

            This girl seems to place Spectacle at the top of her list of Aristotle's six essential elements of theater. For me, it's a distant sixth place.

            1. Avatar surely changed the way movies are made. Haven't you noticed all of the cr@ppy 3-D films in the last few years?

            2. 3D's just been tried so many times through the years, it seems like it'll always be around, but it seems unlikely to me that it'll become the dominant mode of film. Time will tell I guess. The thing that made Avatar seem so unrevolutionary to me is that it was an action-y kind of movie. If someone can film something like There Will Be Blood in 3D in such a way that the 3D really adds to the storytelling, then I might start to buy into a 3D revolution. I believe I heard that Werner Herzog was filming cave paintings in 3D, and that sounds intriguing to me.

              1. 3D sounds so cool, doesn't it?

                Yeah, I've never caught the wave, because it's primarily useful for movies that are all style, while substance is optional. The movies I want to see are, by and large, not offered in 3D.

                1. Avatar is my only real experience with 3D movies and shall be my last. Even for a spectacle movie, I left with the impression that I would have had the exact same experience in a standard theater, and it would have been cheaper and more comfortable without those damn glasses.

                  I say to hell with 3D. Real life is 3D so I want my real life escapes to be different, dammit!

                  1. I've been to two 3D movies, and both were at Disney parks with a manageable running time, and both were built with 3D in mind. In that way, it worked. But a feature film? Ick.

                    1. I watched the episode of It's Always Sunny yesterday when Charlie goes to a 3D movie (after sneaking his spaghetti in via Dee's purse). Probably the best use of 3D I've ever seen.

                2. I'll wait for the Holodeck to be built. 3D does nothing for me (other than make my eyes hurt).

                  Now, IMAX, that's a different kettle o' fish. IMAX can be awesome.

                  1. Ebert makes a fairly compelling case that what we need is not 3D but higher resolution projection at theaters. I could get behind that. Also, I haven't seen IMAX in a while, but it was awesome when I saw it as a kid at the Science Museum.

                    1. Moss saw Inception in IMAX and the resolution and picture was fantastic. It definitely adds something.

                      Moss hasn't tried 3D yet and will be a holdout for quite some time.

                    2. I've seen a handful of films at the local IMAX, with the Boy, including one of the non-existent Matrix films (it made the film watchable). And we saw the 3D versions of Avatar and Beowulf there. 3D did nothing particularly useful for the former, nor the latter (which suh-hucked, even relative to Avatar).

              2. The way that 3D will work for the masses is if you can get rid of the apparatus. And the way they may be able to do that in the future is to have a screen that has some depth to it, and then being able to project from pixels at different depths.

              3. in such a way that the 3D really adds to the storytelling

                Wim Wenders' dance documentary on Pina is getting rave reviews for the use of 3D.

        3. So far, whether or not someone likes WALL-E has proven to be a 100% accurate litmus test as to whether or not I'll like that person. I've also had a few people tell me their kids were insanely bored with it because there was no talking for a good portion, and their kids were like 9, 10 years old.

          1. I loved WALL-E, but it should be clear that it went downhill somewhat after the dialogue started. The first part was brilliant.

          2. I haven't been able to use that test yet, because I've never encountered someone who doesn't like it. I suppose that's a good thing, though.

          3. A friend brought over his future step-daughter (six years old) to our place the other day and she was really excited to see that Wall-E, EVE, and Woody are all sitting on our shelf. She asked me why Woody was sitting in his spot, and I told her that it seemed to be his favorite place because he could look out multiple windows in the living room. I told her that sometimes I have come downstairs and found Woody in other spots (because he likes to move around when people aren't nearby) and she got really excited and told me her Elf on the Shelf did the same thing.

          4. On a related note, it seems that the Studio Ghibli films that Disney has released have had to add more soundtrack for the American audience, which is sad. While I love a good soundtrack, it should subtly enhance the viewing experience, not be a requirement.

    4. Everytime I've watched Up (and it's been at least four or five because I really, really love it) I get a little misty-eyed in the beginning.

  14. I saw a couple of films on the flight home (I flew on the 3rd Tuesday and have had to wait). Every trans-Atlantic flight I've ever taken, going back to 2004, has had individual TVs in the back of the headrest in front of you where you could select what you wanted to watch. The flight from Prague to JFK had one of those communal projectors and I had no say in the matter. I was pretty bummed, but then I remembered "Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy" and chilled.

    From the flight-

    The latest "Planet Of The Apes" - Man, that James Franco is a good looking dude.

    Some subtitled movie - It was about a illegal immigrant single father trying to provide a good life for his son in the United States. On top of always worry about immigration, he has your standard single father type problems where his son falls in with the wrong crowd and he has to try to help. I'll be honest, I wasn't paying that close of attention.

    Some other movie - It was a month ago and I've forgotten what it was. I wanna say it was some sort of action movie?

    Man, my contribution to Movie Monday was not as strong as I thought it was gonna be.

    1. I don't remember if it was a flight to France in 2000 or back from Italy later the same year, but the in-flight was "Snow Falling on Cedars," shown on the bulkhead with a projector. That was the last time I've ever paid even half attention to any in-flight movie.

      1. On my way back from Italy, I had an aisle seat a few rows in from of the lavatory so people waiting were queued up near by seat (most "English" words used in a sentence written by me ever...). Anyway, I was watching Eastern Promises on the individual TV on the seat in front of me. Little did I expect, people would be standing next to me staring at me as I watched Viggo have a full-frontal naked knife fight.

        1. That sounds uncomfortable- the seat near the loo, the staring, and most of all the knives anywhere near the genitals.

  15. I saw a number of movies this month starting with a reviewing of I, Robot. I guess I wasn't aware of how awful that movie actually was after the first viewing. Will Smith is so full of Will Smithiness that there is no room to explore the notion of enslaved robots that PK Dick was working with, and the FX really didn't age well.

    I saw a number of documentaries on channel 4, most notably Sarah Palin: You Betcha, and Babes in Hollywood. While avoiding the forbidden zone, I'd recommend the first one on the basis that it's an interesting look into life in rural Alaska, and into the birth of a politician's media career. I had misgivings about several of the producers choices, but they're honest, and up front, about their personal biases. Babes in Hollywood was a fascinating, and often horrifying, look into the world of child acting. Some of these parents are so deluded, almost boarder-line abusive, in their desire to make their children into stars that they'll do almost anything to get their kids into auditions. Horrifying.

    Columbiana: I know that I mentioned this yesterday, but it bears repeating (at the top of my internet voice), this is possibly the worst movie ever made. I know, I know, what was I expecting? Something better than the steaming pile of poo they presented, I guess. It was like the Professional, but without the good stuff from the Professional.

    MI:GP: Tom Cruise saves the world, again. Yeah, that's all I've got.

    Top Gear: The Vietnam Special, and TG: The India Special: I laughed so hard at points during both of these specials that I'm pretty sure I woke my neighbors up. The scenes of them driving on Indian dual carriage ways made me feel like I was going to die in a horrible car crash.

    1. Oh, yeah, the trailers running in front of MI:GP featured the re-release of Titanic in 3-D !!!ONE@@@!@@221221. Holy balls.

    2. The Vietnam special was top notch. And now Halong Bay has replaced Prague as the one place I need to see before I die.

      I haven't seen the India special yet, but I am very much looking forward to it. In fact, I think I'll watch it right now.

    3. I've been at auditions with kids before, and have even run them. There's a stark difference between the parents there. Most of them are realists, but some of them are horrible. I was in The King and I in college, and we had about 15 kids in that one. I was one of the wranglers, since I'm good with kids, and I came out of it excited about the lives of some and deeply sad about the lives other kids had been forced to live. I know this isn't different from any snapshot of parents, but the showbiz dads and (primarily, for some reason) moms are so in-your-face with the emotional abuse and vicarious living...ugh, I'm just depressing myself.

    4. Have you seen the Botswana or Boliva specials? Both are just about as good as the Vietnam special, and (to my mind) better than the India special. For some reason the India special really grated on me, perhaps because it seemed they were more boorish toward the locals than typical even for them.

      Oh, the Middle East one was pretty good, too.

      1. If I had to rank them, I'd probably say Boliva>Vietnam>Botswana>Middle East. Maybe switch those middle two? It's a hard call, but of the 4 I've seen, I'm pretty sure Boliva was my favorite.

        1. I'm going to agree with your modified ranking: Bolivia > Botswana > Vietnam > Middle East. Looks like I missed the India special somehow. I'm going to blame being out of town.

        2. I don't really distinguish in quality/entertainment amongst the Bolivia, Vietnam, and Polar specials. I liked Botswana an awful lot, but something about it seemed a little less adventurous than Bolivia/Vietnam/Polar. The Middle East special probably ranks last, but even then, they travel through some gorgeous places that I'll probably never visit, so I was very happy to have seen it. Can't wait to see the India special.

          1. I think I understand what you're saying about Botswanna - it was gorgeous, but more of a travel-style piece than an purely adventurous one.

            Polar's on a whole 'nother level for me.

      2. I never gave Top Gear a chance, but when I stumbled onto the Vietnam special I was hooked. The whole works in in my Netflix now that I'm home. The scene where they're getting the band back together on the train in India was pretty tough to watch. I can see the criticism, but there were some good bits there, too.

      3. My favorite of the specials I've seen is the Polar Special. My only problem with Top Gear is that every time it's on BBC America it's usually in blocks of like 6 or 7 episodes, and I can't stop watching it. I just need to not listen to a single thing that Jeremy Clarkson says outside of the show.

        1. I really liked the Polar Special, but had to watch it in a grainy little feed over the internet since it doesn't seem like it'll ever see widespread distribution, which is a shame. Hammond works his ass off in that one.

          1. I forgot the Polar Special. I think I'd throw that in at 3rd. Hammond does really well with the dog sled, considering he's a novice. My favorite part is May busting out the G and T's since they're in international territory.

            1. Yeah, unfortunately I don't think the G&T's were a good enough gag considering the consequence is that I have to watch the thing on my computer instead of my TV.

        2. I actually have trouble getting into Top Gear on BBC America. I got spoiled watching it on Amazon streaming and I've found it to be much more compelling with no commercial breaks. Having seen the episodes uncut, it always seems really awkward how BBC American shoves commercials into the mix.

    5. I guess I wasn't aware of how awful that movie actually was after the first viewing. Will Smith is so full of Will Smithiness that there is no room to explore the notion of enslaved robots that PK Dick was working with,

      Wait, what?

      I, Robot is supposed to be based on Asimov's work, not Dick's. So, maybe that's why it sucked?

      1. I was under the impression that Asimov wrote the three laws, and Dick expanded on them, but a bit of googling shows that to be incorrect. Either way, Will Smith ruins the material by being Will Smith.

        1. Huh...I actually liked I, Robot a lot. Yeah, it was pretty Will Smith-y, but that didn't ruin it for me.

          What I REALLY didn't care for was

          Spoiler SelectShow

          Philip K. Dick never really touched anything that wasn't his own, including the 3 laws. Lots of other writers have dabbled with them, though.

  16. I just remembered that this was aired since our last movie day, I think. Did anyone else see the No Reservations holiday special? The Travel channel (unsurprisingly) didn't give it a big advertising push, but it was completely bizarre and hilarious. I can't get enough of Bourdain. I hope I'm as cool as him when I'm in my 50s.

  17. Since the last month I have watched so many movies. This is part 1.

    For Christmas, my now-favorite SiL got me the Studio Ghibli box set. (Which seems like a bootleg but appears on legit sites. I have no idea how Disney allows this.) There are no special features, just the films, Japanese Voice track, English Voice Track, and English subtitles (some of which match the English voices, and some of which I assume are better translations from the Japanese). Which I think makes me better appreciate the films as they are. I'll watch bonus features a lot, but does that actually help my appreciation of the movie, or does it just pull back the curtain?

    I've caught up on most of those I'd missed.

    Nausicaa: I really dug this, much more than Laputa, to which I think it could be compared (steampunkish. Maybe I relate because we had mold in our house. Maybe it's how the world is more fanciful. Even though I figured out how it would end, I really couldn't figure out how it'd get there.

    Porco Rosso: I think the dubbing on this is really bad. I went back and watched the last 15 minutes in Japanese with subtitles, and I better understood what was going on. I found the story very enjoyable. Miyazake thought process: I want a movie about an intrawar ace pilot on the Adriatic, except he's a pig, and we'll never explain how that happened.

    Pom Poko: The least similar to the others of those I've watched. It's about a band of raccoons that are threatened by the development of suburbs, and how they try to protect their habitat. Also: apparently raccoons are shapeshifters by legend. Tons of unexpected wierd things go on, and that's a lot of what I watch Ghibli films for. I'm usually not much for narration, but it was great in this movie, as it drew parallels to a nature documentary.

    Mononoke (revisited): I liked this less than I remembered, but I did fall asleep a few times and re-start (because I watched late at night). It'll be the first that I go back to. It hits the environmental theme a little too hard.

    Totoro (revisited): Pretty much as I remembered. The kids like this a lot, but now I have them screaming in Totoro's voice now and then. I realized it's easier to translate this stuff to Christian kids by explaining that "spirits" and "forest gods" are really just different words for magical creatures like trolls and fairies and gnomes and elves. It's not about paganistic belief systems.

    Kiki's Delivery Service (revisited): As good as before. Kids liked it. I liked asking CER what she would do if she were a witch and had to move away for a year two years from now.

    Howl's Moving Castle (revisited): This movie was the next Ghibli film following Spirited Away, so it surprises me how similar the plots are to each other: Girl suffers somewhat random magical event that requires her to leave her old life and live in servitude for magical master. I liked this more when I watched it a few years back.

    Recently watched and did not re-watch: Laputa, The Cat Returns
    Watched multiple times and did not re-watch: Spirited Away
    Haven't yet watched: Grave of The Fireflies or My Neighbors the Yamadas

    HPR is really digging anything Japanese (Lego Ninjago, these movies, Samurai swords).

    To Rhubarb_Runner: You'll probably like the music of most of these, I'd say especially Nausicaa. Lots of YMO influence.

    1. Geez, Joe Hisaishi is my favorite soundtrack composer, so darn right I like them. I have them all, plus the "image" albums.

      I would love to see Nausicaa, but still have not yet. Haven't seen Grave of the Fireflies yet, but beware, that's a potentially depressing story from what I remember.

      1. I guess I haven't paid attention to the names before, but I'm proud of myself that I can guess your tastes that well.
        Given that you like his music and sci-fi, Nausicaa is probably right up your alley.

        Fireflies will probably be the last for the reason you mention.

  18. The only movie I watched last month was The Bourne Ultimatum on the telly. It was entertaining enough to capture the Mrs.'s attention.

  19. Part 2 of 2: Library and Redbox

    Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhall. This wasn't as mind-bendy or Phillip K. Dick-ian as I expected, but I really enjoyed this movie up until the final five or ten minutes. But there's a coda which makes absolutely no sense with the rest of the film, and kindof destroys everything that happened before that, apparently in the attempt to make it mind-bendier. EAR & I rewatched the last 20 minutes with commentary on (Gyllenhall & maybe the director?). They basically admitted that the ending was nonsensical and pointless.

    G-Force, starring Guinea Pigs and Zack Galifanakis. Not quite as stupid as I expected, but not something you should search out unless you want a stupid movie for your kids. It did have this great line in it, from the villian at the end:

    Spoiler SelectShow

    Not sure if that needs spoilering or not, but just to be safe.

    The Princess and the Frog, starring Disney's Princess Machine. I haven't watched all of the new-generation Disney theatrical-release movies (starting with The Little Mermaid), but of those I've seen, this and Lilo & Stitch are the worst. The story lags, the music seems forced, the songs go on too long, there's no chemistry between the main characters (I did not want them to get together, they're wrong for each other), and the whole thing seems to have been assembled to allow for a check-off of every single New Orleans cliche. I was surprised to see John Lasseter's name as exec producer. I understand the marketing need to make this a big release (vs. the much better Tinkerbell straight-to-disc movies), and the need to address a gaping ethnic hole in Disney's history (which is part of the marketing). Given those things, they should have made a better movie, as they're obviously good at, even for throwaways like the Tinkerbells.

    The Muppets Take Manhatten, starring Rizzo the Rat. This never bothered me before: how does the Broadway show at the end become a wedding? At one point, we're viewing from a stage audience, and then they enter the chapel, and it's a scene with four walls. (If that should be spoilered, sorry.)

    King’s Speech, starring Colin Furth. Good movie. I assume there's a lot of versimilitude in speech patterns, but I expected something more from the Best Picture.

    Bleak House, BBC Miniseries, starring Gillian Anderson and Carey Mulligan. Really good. I've never liked Dickens's books, but I think converting him to a miniseries is probably the best way to get me interested. This was done with a very modern style (editing, angles), but with period dress an everything. There's a character named "Guppy" who I absolutely loved. I gotta look up the actor's name and see what else he's in.

    Sherlock Holmes, BBC Series from the 1960's starring Grand Moff Tarkin. I got my wife this three-disc set for Christmas (5 episodes, Hound is a double-episode). After seeing the first three minutes, I thought it was going to be awful, the lights created trails like an old Dr. Who episode, and the acting was over the top. But after giving it a second try on the non-double episode (so there would be less wasted time), it calmed down and got better. Now I wish we had more. Not great, and plenty of intintended humor, but the Cumberbatch episodes won't be here until May.

    1. This never bothered me before: how does the Broadway show at the end become a wedding?

      Considering how often the Muppets break the fourth wall, that's probably not a question worth wondering about.

      1. I just wanted to see how the audience reacted to the real wedding in a fictious setting, but then the audience was gone.

        how often the Muppets break the fourth wall
        Since when have they added a fourth wall?
        If there had been weird things like this happening earlier, it'd be OK.
        Right now, I have to assume that Kermit that if the movie had continued, Kermit'd end up in a skyscraper downtown demanding to know what the company wants with him. It was all an induced lucid dream-state after the accident left him with a horrible disfigurement, inability to walk without paid (to say nothing of dance), etc.

  20. Oh, I forgot to mention above, I also watched The Princess Bride in the last month. Still incredible!

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