Friday, October 28, 2011

The Thing

Mary Elizabeth Winstead with a flamethrower? What could be bad? Well, a few things.

It's been a long time since I saw the 1982 version of The Thing - and have no real memory of it - and I never saw The Thing from Another World from 1951, so this review stands on its own even though the movies may be connected somehow.

The Thing is your basic Ten Little Indians with a Non-Human Slasher genre movie, and as such isn't too bad. That genre isn't my cup of tea, but the aforementioned comely Mary Elizabeth Winstead is on my must-attend list so I went. The Thing may be a good choice for a mid-Winter home video selection, but even if you like the non-human slasher genre, I wouldn't rush out to see it.


Monday, October 24, 2011

The Mighty Macs

I decided to see The Mighty Macs after seeing one commercial. It looked like your basic underdog sports movie and Carla Gugino would be the coach. What could be bad? Not much, actually. The Mighty Macs is an independent movie with a limited budget and small cast. Within those limitations, it hits the right tone and emotional cues, delivering a top-notch sports movie.

The story appears to be based on actual events. Immaculatta College in Pennsylvania, 1971. A losing team in a women's school gets a new coach and no respect. Through movie-standard grit and pluckiness, the team makes a run at a national championship in one season. The coach is almost deified - not an easy task in a Catholic school - but for once maybe earns it. Some of her players went on to be coaches themselves, win national championships and are even still active in the WNBA and college ranks.

The coach's voice-over narration provides a titch more sappiness than the movie needs but step-back in time sports cliches and old clothing styles more than make up for it with a thoroughly entertaining movie.

Oh, the name? Immaculatta. Im-MAC-u-lat-ta. Macs. I didn't get it until the movie was about three-fourths over. Until then, I thought it was some unspoken Scottish thing.


The Three Musketeers

Alexandre Dumas meets Pirates of the Caribbean meets Jules Verne. If that sounds like a mish-mash, it is. This incarnation of The Three Musketeers is an excuse for stunts, CGI and costumes. It's perfectly fine by the standards of today's adventure movies but, make no mistake, The Three Musketeers is a disposable movie. If you go see it once, you won't need to see it twice and you don't need to buy a copy for your home video collection.

To drive home the point that it wants to start the next Pirates of the Renaissance franchise, they even cast Orlando Bloom as one of the (many) villains. The flexible morality and scenery-chewing is straight out of Pirates. Milla Jovavich's lingerie-wearing, adrenaline junkie spy is straight out of a Madonna video. All-in-all, for a basic adventure show, by all means go see The Three Musketeers. I enjoyed it. But don't expect to remember anything about it the next day.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Killer Elite

Killer Elite is a perfectly serviceable action flick. It's more of a geopolitical thriller than you might have guessed from the commercials. It's set in 1980 and has a gritty production design, possibly inspired by the Bourne thrillers. Despite its pedigree - Jason Statham, Robert De Niro, Clive Owen - Killer Elite is a non-studio production but it works very well.

Much of the dialog is spoken by non-native English speakers - Omani, Italian, French, Australian, Welsh, English - that it was difficult to understand everything. Not that it mattered, but if you need to know the intricacies of a plot designed to get you to the next gun fight, well, maybe save Killer Elite for DVD, where you can turn on the captions.

Watching Killer Elite marked the 900th film that I've seen at Willow Creek Theaters in Plymouth (900!). I guess that's a lot. Willow Creek is not the nicest place around, but it's convenient, clean, and the staff is polite. In a backhanded complement, the matinees are sparsely attended, so getting in and out is fairly easy. 900!  I will continue using Willow Creek as my primary movie-going venue.  900!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Beware misleading advertising! Drive is not what they show in the previews. It's not the next incarnation of The Transporter or Fast and Furious. It's a low budget, thoughtful, indie flick. It's a very good movie on its own but it's not the movie that they are selling you in the commercials. In summary, if you like movies you see in art houses, Drive is for you. If you want a crash 'em up with car chases, Drive is not for you.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

One Day

Alfred Hitchcock is credited as saying he liked to cast well-known stars, such as Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant, in his movies because it allowed him to skip two reels (about 20 minutes) of exposition. It makes sense - you don't need to explain who the character is because the audience already knows. You can just jump into the story.

That explains the casting of Anne Hathaway in One Day. She's immediately recognizable by movie goers and we only need a small bit of context to understand her character. We'll get to the part about a famous American playing a Scots lass in a moment. I don't understand why they cast an unknown as the male lead. Let me explain the movie first.

One Day is a visit to two friends on most July 15ths for two decades and only on July 15. Some days are good, some are bad. It was odd to not spend any substantive time with the characters; we just had to accept that they had lived the 364 previous days and that stuff happened without us. It's an interesting premise but probably better suited for the novel on which One Day was based.

One Day is a romantic drama. My problem is that the couple was a lousy match in 1988 and were even worse 15 years later, when they were both single at the same time. By the time their romance was blossoming, I stopped caring. The ending was also terrible. Please do not rush out to see One Day.

That male lead was a problem. While Hathaway is instantly familiar and certainly earned her keep by getting asses in seats during opening week, I didn't recognize the male lead from scene to scene. In fact, I wasn't sure which of the graduating class to keep an eye on at first. Then, as he changed his appearance every July 15, I had to wait until I knew for sure it was him before I started paying attention to what the characters were saying. Based on the first scene, I knew he would be one of these types: lovable rogue; redeemable bad boy; or asshat. He wasn't at all lovable or redeemable. Why should I spend 100 minutes watching a romantic movie with a guy I wouldn't like if I met him?

I saw a few stories about Anne Hathaway's English accept on the 'net last week. In fact, it was sometimes referred to as the worst English accent of all time. Not being English, I can't weigh in on the fine points, but I recognized that it was pretty good. It was good in Becoming Jane, as well. Thing is, it did change over the course of the movie, but I think that was intentional. She starts out as a Scots schoolgirl in some English hinterlands college. She then moves to London and gradually adopts a more sophisticated accent. Later, when she's successful in her career, her whole demeanor changes, clothes, accent, the works. I think Anne's accent worked just fine. If you want to pick on One Day, there is plenty to pick on, such as the lousy story or the lack of face time for Romola Garai, but lay off the accent.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Glee 3D

I miscalculated on Glee 3D. I watch Glee on TV, but I fast-forward through maybe half to two-thirds of the musical numbers. Many don't grab me because I'm not familiar with kids' music, I refuse to listen to rap - ever - and some of the singing just isn't worth my time.

So why did I go see a Glee CONCERT movie that was - no real shock here - mostly musical numbers? Because sometimes I don't think things through. I really needed a fast-forward button.

There was also some awkward kid-on-the-street interviews and some documentary stories about some notable Glee fans: the midget cheerleader; the gay high school kid; and the 20-something with Aspberger's Syndrome. OK, I get it. Glee is for the outcast in all of us. Moving on.

The 3D didn't really add anything to Glee 3D, except for a couple of scenes that made it worth the ill-fitting glasses. The best one was during Lea Michelle's first solo (somebody get that woman a real last name, STAT) of Don't Rain on My Parade. As she glides toward you from across the stage, the background fades away and you see her face filling the screen as if you were an arm's reach from her. Truly a demonstration of 3D at its best, but most of the movie was dark and muddy, like most 3D movies.

So why did I go to see Glee 3D? Heather Morris (Brittany) winked at me during the previews. I was powerless to resist.


The Change-Up

The Change-Up is your basic body-swapping comedy as well as a raunch-com. It tries hard to be raunchy and sometimes hits the target, although it causes a few winces as well. It also goes out of its way to be stupid a few times, and because it was filmed using tax credits from the State of Georgia, it at times looks like a promo film for downtown Atlanta. Mainly though, it has a decent heart and is rather enjoyable. The characters never miss an opportunity to drop the F-bomb, but what can you do?

The best thing about The Change-Up is Olivia Wilde and a push-up bra inside an amazing red dress. You see more of the red dress in the previews than in the movie, but it's amazing nonetheless.


Crazy, Stupid Love

Crazy, Stupid Love is your basic romantic dramedy, with a decent cast and good production values. It gets the Love Actually treatment - a bit - with seemingly unrelated threads linking to each other. Crazy, Stupid Love breaks a couple of its own rules - an easy-going character suddenly gets unforgivingly rigid, for example, or a public act of contrition that was too public and too contrite - but it's pretty good for the genre.

What we have learned most from Crazy, Stupid Love? That 11-year-old Joey King needs a new agent. Last year, she was Ramona in Ramona and Beezus, a movie I raved about. Joey carried Ramona and Beezus, even though the supporting cast was also very good. It was her movie and she was wonderful. Since then, she's had a bit part in Battle Los Angeles and now, a generic role in Crazy, Stupid Love. Let's get this kid some bigger parts.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Monte Carlo

Sometimes, the studios get things right. I watched Monte Carlo with a smile on my face for almost the entire length of the movie. It is warm, it is fun, and it is my official selection as the feel-good movie of the year so far.

A recent high school graduate and two friends go to Paris where the grad is mistaken for a runaway heiress. She reluctantly carpes the diem and steps in to the heiress' life. This is hardly a new formula but Monte Carlo does it with style, never getting too sentimental or slapstick. Many things could have gone wrong making Monte Carlo, but it seems none of them did.

Selena Gomez plays the doppelganger/gangee, and was in last summer's feel good movie, Ramona and Beezus. Selena would appear to have a great future in romantic comedies. Her friends are played by Katie Cassidy, whom I've only seen in one other thing, and Leighton Meester, who seems to appear in every movie that Natalie Portman isn't in. Slow down, kid. They are both refreshing as the polar opposites who have their own adventures while participating in the impersonation. Again, they could have easily gone over the top, but showed restraint and elegance to help us take the movie seriously.

All-in-all, Monte Carlo - the movie - looks like a nice place to visit.

The enjoyment quotient of Monte Carlo might have been helped by one of the previews before the show.*  It was promoting a drama about a romance between Amy Adams and Jason Segal gone awry. Or did it? It's really a preview for a new Muppets movie and after Segal looks at the audience and asks in disbelief, "Are there Muppets in this movie?" all heck breaks loose. Could be fun. Definitely a good warm up for Monte Carlo.


* Yes, I realize that's redundant.

Midnight in Paris

I used to have a rule about Woody Allen movies. It was "Don't go see them." The rule was instituted while watching Deconstructing Harry in 1997, and it took years for me to go see another one. Several more years passed before I actually enjoyed one. Midnight in Paris more than makes up for all the Woody Allen dogs I've sat through over the years.

Owen Wilson plays a writer who doesn't realize he's going through a mid-life crisis. He's engaged to a woman of extremely limited vision, played to a T by Rachel McAdams. Her parents, extremely wealthy but infinitely declasse, have dragged the couple to Paris. He goes for a walk one night and - avoiding spoilers - stumbles into what can only be described as an adult Narnia. As his relationship whithers, his horizons expand.

Midnight in Paris could have been sponsored by the Paris Tourism Bureau, as the city is photographed in the best possible light and looks just gorgeous. There were many literary and cultural references that went over my head, but I caught enough to enjoy. I especially liked a scene where the writer, fiance and some friends are discussing something trivial, like wine or whatever, and when the camera pans around, you see they are standing in the front lawn of Versailles like it was the most ordinary place in the world.

Midnight in Paris is the antidote to the plethora of brainless movies we've seen lately. It is the best movie of the year, so far, for the thinking person.


Bad Teacher

Bad Teacher looks like it will be a typical redemption comedy. You know, somebody is on the wrong path, they hit rock bottom then get redeemed, usually with some public display of contrition and a happily ever after moment at the end. It's a genre; it's a formula.  Bad Teacher has none of it.

Cameron Diaz is amazing as a slacker with a teacher's license looking for a sugar daddy. She's shallow, insensitive, lazy and manipulative. And those are her good points. What I liked is that - I'll do this without a spoiler - she doesn't change over the course of the movie. It's more like she runs out of energy looking for what she desires and finds that what she has isn't so bad. Watching her go through the motions, being a jerk and making bad decisions is hilarious. But what I just described is only what makes Bad Teacher a good movie. What makes it a great movie is...

Lucy Punch. Lucy is an amazing comic sidekick. You've seen her before as the wicked stepsister in Ella Enchanted, the hapless lifestyle reporter on the short-lived TV show The Class or any of dozens of bit parts in TV and movies. Not really destined to be a lead actor, she dived into the part of the neurotically competitive straight-arrow teacher across the hall with gusto, not afraid to make with the crazy. And make with the crazy she does, giving us sight gags and punch lines in every scene. I am in awe.

Bad Teacher could easily get lost amidst all the other movies released in the summer season because it doesn't look like anything special, but if you're looking for some subversive laughs and nothing sweet or redemptive, seek out Bad Teacher.


Transformers 3

I don't know where to start on Transformers 3. I have so few good things to say about it but it seems rude to start with the bad. Hmm...

Let's start with the length. Transformers 3 is two hours and twenty six minutes long. Really. I suspect that every human being that made the decision to see the movie was not influenced at all by running time, so they could have saved a third or a quarter of the budget by making it 30-45 minutes shorter. Simple economics. And much more merciful to the viewer.

How about product placement? Every computer shown was a Lenovo; every router was a Cisco. Every beverage had a brand name showing and they even took us to the Mercedes Benz website. Enough.

The major badbots have a case of talking-villain syndrome. They each say too much of their plans to the good guys, to their henchbots or even when they talk to themselves. It's laughable. The screenwriter needs to take a remedial course in exposition. Oh, and who thought it was a good idea to have the badbot voiced by Leonard Nimoy quote dialog by Mr Spock?  Campy...

Then, there's Chicago. The last 45 minutes or so was an extended battle scene that essentially destroys downtown Chicago. The bad guys were implementing their final plan and could have set up shop anywhere on the planet, an unpopulated, defensible area maybe, but no, they chose Chicago for no apparent reason. Most of the sequence was just explosion-porn, which is fine, but too much is too much.

Here's something neither good nor bad. The leading lady, replacing Megan Fox, is basically a lookalike for Megan Fox. Since she's not playing the same character, they really didn't have to stick with the same image, but it's fine that they did. During the destroy-Chicago sequence, the leading lady went from wearing 4" heels to flats and back to heels sometimes in the same scene. The fact that I had enough time to focus on her footware says a little something about the Chicago sequence.

How about some good?  There is some good in Transformers 3.  The same leading lady with the heels does more to win the battle with her brain than all of the autobots and Army guys combined. The cheesecake in a Transformers movie turns out to be a good role model for young girls. Whoda thunk?

All-in-all, Transformers 3 is pretty much the movie that you have already imagined it to be, only longer, louder and less coherent. There is a place for such movies, but be cautious if you think this is the blow-'em-up movie for you.  It has none of the heart of the first one and might not even be as good as the second one (and the second one wasn't very good at all).

2:26; released in 3D; viewed in 2D

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Green Lantern

I have had issues with movies based on comic books and graphic novels for some time. Neither translate to movies smoothly, but some turn out OK, at least comic books can. Green Lantern is based on a beloved, long-running comic book, but you couldn't tell based on the movie. It's very cliched, rather disjointed and kind of pro forma - it's supposed to be a big action-hero movie, and it is, but it's not very engaging.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Super 8

Well, there was a lot of running in Super 8, but not as much as I would expect in a JJ Abrams movie. Super 8 unfurls in a leisurely fashion, introducing the characters and situation slowly. I read that Abrams was trying for the feeling of an early Steven Spielberg movie and he succeeded, to a point.

Super 8 has received a lot of buzz - or maybe hype - but it's not a big movie. The train crash was ridiculously complicated yet non-fatal and the way the thing in the train behaved was inconsistent. No, Super 8 is a just decent little movie. The characters were nice, the acting was good and the movie is an adequate way to spend a hundred minutes, but it's not a movie for the ages and it won't be on the list of 2011's top popcorn movies.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pre-impression of Super 8

I'm off to see Super 8 shortly. I predict a lot of running. Yep, running.

Super 8 was directed by JJ Abrams and if he has one trademark, it's running. He used it in his previous movies Mission: Impossible III* and Star Trek, and on his TV shows Alias, Lost and for all I know, Felicity. Extended, occasionally unnecessary tracking shots of people running in profile. While Jennifer Garner always looked good running for her life on Alias, the rest of the examples are somewhat mixed in effectiveness.

I predict running.

* Don't get me started on why the modern Mission: Impossible movies have nothing in common with the original TV series. For your own good, don't get me started.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Studios have been making a lot of movies based on comic books lately and, judging by the releases in the pipeline, they won't be stopping anytime soon. Thing is, the medium of motion pictures is not the optimum medium for a comic book story - a comic book is.

Thor is a prime example. Not a bad movie at all, but the superficiality of the story, the two-dimensional characters and over-the-top action scenes did nothing to draw me in to the movie. The part I liked the most was actually the CGI scenes of Odin's realm. They showed a beautiful golden city on a mountaintop - think Rome and Greece at their peaks, only bigger.

And what is with Natalie Portman being in every other movie made lately? I love her to death and she always does a great job, but take a breath, kid. Unfortunntely, in Thor, she had little chemistry with the he-man lead. That might have something to do with Thor being based on a comic book. She's much better in movies based on original screenplays. Black Swan, No Strings Attached anyone?


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fast Five

At last, a movie that delivers exactly what it promises. Fast Five doesn't promise a lot, but cars are chased, bullets whiz, biceps are flexed, bikinis are bikinied, and lots of things go BOOM! There's lots of attractive scenery in and around Rio de Janeiro, attractive people galore and lots of fun stunts.

Fast Five is the fifth movie in the The Fast and the Furious franchise, but I only saw numbers 1& 2, and I had no trouble keeping up. Among the elements Fast Five promises, a labyrinthine plot is not one of them. If you're looking for a fast paced movie that allows you to turn off half of your brain (or more) for two hours, I recommend Fast Five.

Two additional notes. First, the plot of the movie is pure caper. I remember reading apocryphal mentions a few years ago of a sequel to The Italian Job to be called The Brazilian Job. I wonder if someone appropriated the plot of the never-to-be-made Italian Job sequel for Fast Five. The two movies parallel each other in many regards, but that may just be a function of the caper movie genre.

Next, Elsa Pataky has a supporting role as a cop from Rio. Well known in her native Espana, she's only done a few projects in English, including Snakes on a Plane. Elsa has fabulous screen presence and only a bit of a Spanish accent, so it's hard to believe that American film makers don't employ her more often. Fools.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Something Borrowed

Do not bother. Something Borrowed was sold as a romantic comedy but it's really of the romantic trainwreck ilk. Despite the promise of the commercials, it has few laughs in the first half and none in the second. But let's suppose you are interested in a romantic trainwreck movie - it's a real genre and sometimes the movies can be good - there are much better ones out there.

Among the other reasons to dislike Something Borrowed include logical problems with the story, miscasting, no chemistry between the leads, and characters so sterile you won't be able to garner any emotional attachment to the movie. There's also the matter of the movie being 20 minutes too long and having two false endings.

There is one redeeming quality to Something Borrowed: the always adorable Ginnifer Goodwin.  My advice?  Skip Something Borrowed - whether you want to see a romantic comedy or romantic trainwreck, you can find better examples of both.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Love and Other Drugs

I never got around to seeing Love and Other Drugs when it was in the theater last winter, so now that it's out on DVD - that was fast! - I gave it a watch.

From the previews, I see that it was a romantic comedy about a drug rep for Viagra. Oh, and after it left the theater, I heard it was the movie where Anne Hathaway gets naked. What could be bad?




Love and Other Drugs isn't a romantic comedy, it's an occasionally humorous drama about a young woman with Parkinson's disease. Downer.

Anne looks good without her clothes, Jake Gyllenhaal proves he is a Movie Star, but Love and Other Drugs is a Love Story Drama. Even though we know she has Parkinson's, Anne really has Alimacgrawitis, the ailment named after Love Story star Ali MacGraw, whose character became more radiant and lovely the sicker she got.

If you want a modern illness drama, Love and Other Drugs will do fine - it's a decent movie - but if you want a nice romantic comedy, keep looking.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Hop is a fairly flat hybrid of live action & CGI about the Easter Bunny. There is nothing particularly interesting or special about Hop, in fact, I found a few things objectionable, but I'm known to be surly.

The versatile and shameless James Marsden plays a 30-ish slacker who is unfortunate enough to meet up with a slacker junior Easter Bunny. Kaley Cuoco (of The Big Bang Theory) gets second billing (for humans) but is in the movie far too little and wears far too conservative attire.


Talking at Movies

There are three kinds of people who talk during movies: people who just plain like to talk at movies; people who talk to their young children out of necessity; and people who talk at movies under the pretense of talking to their children.

Guess which of these heinous, selfish, no-good excuses for humans being sat down one seat away from me today (in an almost empty theater, no less) and talked almost non-stop for the entire* movie?

*I moved to a seat out of earshot about five minutes into the movie but I could still hear murmurs coming from that direction during quiet parts of the show.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I went to see Hanna this afternoon, for the second time. Aside from that implied endorsement, here are a few things you need to know:

The title character is German, so her name is pronounced Honna. The lead actress is Saoirse Ronan, whose name is pronounced Sur-sha (if we believe the internet).

Although it looks like a spy movie and fully 3/4ths of the characters are current or former spies, it's not a spy movie. Hanna could be considered a full-tilt, balls to the wall action movie but it's really a coming of age movie. It's a character study about Hanna finding out who she is. Unlike your typical 17-year-old girl finding herself, Hanna is a killing machine.

Hanna has been raised by her father in seclusion in northern Finland. It's possible that she's never met another person and definitely no one her own age. She's never used electricity or heard music. Her father has raised her to be strong, independent and lethal. He drills her incessantly, repeating "Always be ready, even in your sleep," and "Adapt or die." That last mantra is really the theme of the movie.

The father never kept from Hanna that her mother was killed by a CIA officer named Marissa Weigler. That name sounds more ominous when said with a German accent. He trains Hanna to get revenge. After giving her lukewarm warnings about how dangerous it will be to start down the revenge path, he gives her a device that will attract the attention of American intelligence and allow her to come face to face with her mother's killer.  Really, he programmed her for this mission from infancy.  She had no choice.

The rest of the story is a cat & mouse game where the CIA peoples don't understand that they are the mice. Hanna has to travel across half of Europe to catch up to her father and she learns much about herself in the process.

Here's what I liked about Hanna. It ends up with a necessary confrontation but gets there in unexpected and leisurely ways, many of which you don't normally find in an action movie.

Director Joe Wright is highly talented, helming Pride and Prejudice (the Keira Knightley version) and The Soloist, and worked with Saoirse before, in 2007's Atonement, which netted her an Academy Award nomination for Supporting Actress. She was also fine in City of Ember (a terrible movie otherwise) and OK in The Lovely Bones.

Wright is so talented he couldn't resist showing off in Hanna. There is one scene that takes place with a single shot. The father steps off a bus, scoots across a lane of traffic, walks through the terminal, out the other side, down a long sidewalk, down an escalator, then gets into a fight with four spies in a large underground plaza, and then walks out. It's a three minute plus shot and it's beautiful, although unnecessary. Wright did it before in Atonement, with a much bigger wartime shot. I like the idea of continuous shots but this one seemed like showing off.

Much of Hanna involves Hanna seeing the outside world for the first time. When she escapes custody, she takes refuge in a rundown motel. The clerk turns on a light switch, which she finds mesmerizing. Same for the TV. She flips out when the phone rings. Much of this discovery is made with pounding techno music assaulting our ears so we get a hint of what she feels. Yet, Hanna adapts, as later in the movie she stops at an internet cafe and surfs as well as anyone.

There's another scene that I found remarkable yet it passes almost unnoticed. Her host in Berlin begins to make waffles and gets out a carton of eggs. Hanna asks for one, he tosses it to her, she catches it, cracks it open and swallows the contents in a single motion. It's a great scene that tells you almost everything you need to know about her yet it's over in a few seconds.

Although I'm raving about Hanna - perhaps not in ways the studio might approve of - there are a few downsides. Cate Blanchett, one of the best actresses working today, uses a clumsy southern accent while playing Marissa Weigler. Never mind that Hanna takes place in Europe, where she was one of a very few people speaking American, and that Cate is immediately recognizable as not being from the American south, the accent really gave no additional element to the character. It seemed like a distracting quirk more than anything else.  Her shoes and flossing fetishes were much more interesting.

Worst thing about Hanna, though, is that the studio put a spoiler in the commercials. When Hanna is captured, she turns the tables and kills a CIA officer and some guards. That's no spoiler - it's in the commercials. The scene is powerful, elegant, long and shocking. It would have been gasp-worthy if the idiots in marketing hadn't used it. It may well have been considered one of the best movie moments of 2011, if only it hadn't been shown to us before we even saw the movie.

Let's end on a positive note. I mentioned that Hanna is as much of a character study as it is an action adventure. In her travels, Hanna meets up with an English family, with the mother played by Olivia Williams, a favorite of mine and late of my beloved Dollhouse. It becomes apparent rather quickly that the mother is much more in tune with Hanna than her own daughter. Hanna senses it as well but also knows that she is well beyond needing a mother anymore. She has adapted.


Friday, April 8, 2011


For the last couple of weeks, I've been watching this ridiculously addictive TV show on DVD called
Torchwood. It was produced by the BBC from 2006 to 2009. It's a sci-fi adventure crossed with a
police procedural. I devoured each episode as fast the mail and Netflix streaming could deliver
them. 31 episodes were produced.

Cardiff, Wales, sits on a rift in time and space. Things pass through the rift unfettered. Torchwood
exists to fight aliens, protect humans and appropriate alien technology for use as weapons when
malevolent and predatory aliens make an appearance later this century.

The rift is a perfect sci-fi plot device. Need an alien? Got one. Need a monster? Here. Need a
doohickey to wreak havoc? It's over there. Need a romance with a babe from 1953? Here she
comes now. Want to send your own people back in time? Would you prefer World War I or II?

Torchwood is an independent agency located in an old tube station under Cardiff. Its leader is
Captain Jack Harkness, an action hero sent over by Central Casting. Jack is played by John
Barrowman, who is possibly the most handsome man in the history of, well, men. Jack is a
confident rogue and a fearless leader, as well as a mystery. It is established early on that he is
immortal, bouncing back to life shortly after he is killed, which happens frequently. That trait is
related to him being a former Time Agent, as Torchwood is a spin-off of the BBC's 2005 recreation
of Dr Who. I've never seen Dr Who, so I just went with it whenever references came up.

The heart of the show is Gwen, a former police constable who tracks down Torchwood in the first
episode. Where Jack is often amoral or just rude, Gwen is the conscience of the show and keeps the team
focused on helping humans more than exploring alien swag. Played by Welsh actress Eve Myles,
she is more than a little adorable, despite a David Lettermanesque gap between her front teeth.
Hey, it's the UK and hot is hot.

There are a few things you need to know about Torchwood. First, it has movie-quality visuals.
This must have been an incredibly expensive show to produce. The lighting is lush and beautiful,
and the action sequences are adrenalific. Cardiff looks like a dramatic, sexy city and I'm guessing
that in real life, it might not be.

Another thing, Torchwood is unbelievably bi. Except for Gwen, every character has sexual
congress with members of both genders at some point during the series run. It's kind of strange (although welcome) to see this degree of liberation and you'll never see it on American TV. Captain Jack, born
sometime after the year 5000, hints that attitudes will change in the future but that doesn't account
for the omnivorousness of the characters from this century.

Finally, the Welsh and English accents are a bit thick, so captions were helpful and necessary for me.
Barrowman, born in Scotland but raised in the US, certainly sounds American, but you can tell his
writers had no interest in making him be American. He talks like a Brit, based on phrasing and word choice, but without the accent. For example, he addressed a couple of people as "You lot," which no American would. We'd say "You," "You two," "You guys," or even "All Y'all," but we'd never say "You lot." Maybe it's intentional, as Jack has lived in the UK for centuries. Hard to say.

I'm not sure what the story is behind Torchwood's odd production history. There were two
13-episode seasons, followed by a five-episode season. That third season took place over five
action-packed days and probably cost as much to produce as an entire 13-ep season. It was even
aired in the UK on five consecutive nights, making it quite the broadcasting event. I understand that
Torchwood season four will air ten episodes sometime this summer. It will be interesting to see
where they take the show. After you save the world, what do you do next?

First Thoughts on Hanna

This movie is not about my Onvoy co-workers John and Megan Hanna. It is not about cartoonist William Hanna of Hanna-Barbera fame. It is not even about the 11th governor of North Dakota. It's a spy movie about a girl.

I'm not sure what to think about all this.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Battle Los Angeles

Battle Los Angeles is a pure combat movie. There is no character development, no big picture, just good guys vs bad guys in an urban environment. As a movie that just follows a platoon as they execute a simple rescue mission that goes sour, Battle Los Angeles works very well. Staff Sgt Nantz is also the role that Aaron Eckhardt was born to play.

At times, the movie seems like a recruiting film for the US Marines, but let's just assume that's the nature of war movies and not a Pentagon plot. If you had to make the obvious comparison, I would say I liked Battle Los Angeles a bit more than Independence Day because of its simplicity and its lack of humor. It's a combat movie and not much else.

Here is something I thought about on the drive home from the theater. Movies or TV shows where Michelle Rodriguez plays a bad-ass:
Battle Los Angeles
The Fast & the Furious
Resident Evil

Movies or TV shows where Michelle Rodriguez is hot without vamping it up:
Battle Los Angeles
The Fast & the Furious
Resident Evil

Hmm... 100% overlap. As far as I'm concerned, this is not a bad form of typecasting.


Monday, March 14, 2011


A pet chameleon is released into the desert and becomes sheriff of a critter town. I suppose the plot is no stranger than that of WALL-E, Ratatouille or Bambi, but Rango isn't in their league. I've complained - maybe not in my blog but complained nonetheless - that animated creatures in modern animated movies are too clean and fashionable. Well, if it was grit and grotesqueness that I was asking for, I got it. Half the varmints in Rango are approaching the line of icky and the other half are way over the line.

The plot of Rango is a bit convoluted and the motivation of the villain doesn't hold up under mild scrutiny. There are a few laugh-out-loud gags for adults but I suspect that most kids would yawn many a time during the movie. This child-at-heart did.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau was promoted as a stylish sci-fi film and it is stylish, but they explain the sci in a hurry, which deflates much of the excitement. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt do well in their roles, but the movie is more about their romance than the thriller that was promoted in the commercials.

All-in-all, The Adjustment Bureau was a decent movie, even with the bait & switch, but I had a big problem with the ending. Actually, to have a problem with the ending, you have to have a problem with the premise, but I'm only going to talk about the ending. It was based on a short story by Phillip K Dick. I've not read any Dick stories but I've seen several movie adaptations and I recognize that he writes dark stories.  The Adjustment Bureau has a syrupy sweet-ending, so I'm guessing the movie followed his story closely but it wasn't one of his best, or the film-makers made their own ending.  My guess is that this wasn't the planned ending. They probably had something darker in mind that the studio or test audiences didn't like, so they re-edited and threw in a voice-over to wrap things up.

My recommendation, for the Matt Damon part of the movie, is to watch anything else he's done in the past two years that you've missed (True Grit, Green Zone, Hereafter, Invictus, The Informant!). The guy is fabulous, but this movie was a misfire by his standards. As for Emily Blunt, her ultimate romance was in My Summer of Love (2004).


127 Hours

127 Hours was nominated for Best Picture, etc, so you may have heard of it.  Here are a few observations about it spread out in nutshell .

First, Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn appear in the movie, albeit briefly. No movie with those two in it could be completely bad. If you are a film-maker, let me give you a phrase that should be your mantra: More Kate Mara.

Next, either the name of the movie should have been changed or they should have lost the graphics telling us how much time had passed. We see the guy get trapped in a cave. We know the title of the movie is 127 Hours. What are the odds that it's going to take five days & seven hours before something changes? Every time they flashed a graphic stating it was Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, et al, my brain left the movie and calculated how much time was remaining. Sure, a lot of stuff happened and much of it important, but THERE WAS NO SUSPENSE. When I knew nothing crucial would happen for X number of days or hours, I felt like I was the one trapped.

Decent movie, big problems with the execution.


How I Met Your Mother – Again? Edition

I've put up a few posts about How I Met Your Mother in recent weeks. I could blog about other TV shows, but would you rather I talk about How I Met Your Mother or Charlie Sheen? Thought so.

How I Met Your Mother was in the news last week. They received a two-year renewal from CBS for their 7th and 8th seasons. When I saw that, I had two thoughts simultaneously. Yes, simultaneously. It's called in-brain multitasking. Or MPD. I can't tell which I have.

Firstly, in 2003, ABC was riding high with The Drew Carey Show. Just concluding its 7th season, Drew Carey was dominating its Wednesday time slot, delivering all the eyeballs ABC could want and still putting out a quality product. ABC decided to lock in their most valuable show and gave Drew Carey a two-year renewal.

Almost immediately after the 8th season premiere episode aired, the ratings dropped. Hard. I can't tell you if the quality of the show changed or not as I was one of the millions who stopped watching, although I don't remember any particular reason why. It was just time to move on, I guess.

The Drew Carey Show limped through its 8th season and was yanked by ABC. Remember that two-year renewal? Warner Bros held ABC to their end of the contract and forced them to pay for season nine. But in order to collect, Warner Bros actually had to produce the show. The entire show – cast, crew, writers, staff – made 26 episodes that they knew weren't going to air. ABC eventually burned off the episodes, airing them in the summer of 2004, a full year after production began.

CBS gave 2.5 Men a two-year renewal last year, after its 7th season, and look what happened. 2.5 Men is also produced by Warner Bros and co-stars Ryan Stiles, who was also in The Drew Carey Show. Funny coincidence. I get worried when shows I like get two-year renewals.

My other thought was for Ted's daughter on How I Met Your Mother. In most episodes, they show a few seconds of two teenagers on a couch listening to their Dad's stories about how he met their mother. It's kind of the point of the show. The two kids aren't aging, so the actors probably showed up for one day of work in 2005, did a whole bunch of reaction shots and have been collecting easy paychecks ever since.

Except that these actors still exist, grew up and are still working. The daughter is played by now 24-year-old Lyndsy Fonseca, who is creating a nice little career for herself, appearing in the movies Kick-Ass, Hot Tub Time Machine and co-starring in one of my favorite TV series, Nikita.

The troubling thought that I had was that Lyndsy is a hottie with well documented comedic chops. In two years, at the end of How I Met Your Mother's guaranteed run, she'll be about the right age to play Ted's wife (the right age in sitcom terms, that is – I personally think Ted should try to stay a bit more age appropriate). Wouldn't it be neat if Lyndsy Fonseca played both the daughter AND the mother? Neat, and a little creepy? The resemblance would be uncanny. And a little creepy.

This was just a passing thought when I heard the news of the two-year renewal.  I really hope that Lyndsy won't be available to appear on How I Met Your Mother as an adult because I want her to be playing Alex on Nikita for a few more years.

The Green Hornet

It's been five weeks since I saw The Green Hornet in the theater. My note at the time was “Barely Adequate.” Looking back, I think that may have been a Minnesota Nice way of saying it was bad.

Much like Jack Black, a little Seth Rogen goes a long way. As he was also the writer and producer, I guess his Hollywood success has reached that level where no one wants to tell him “No.” The story was thin and more than a little familiar. The rich man-boy suffers a tragedy and becomes a vigilante has been done – it was called Batman.

Christoph Waltz of Inglorious Basterds cashed a paycheck and chewed the scenery as the villain. I have no idea why Battlestar Galactica hero Edward James Olmos or aging uberhottie (but still uberhot) Cameron Diaz were in this movie. The gadgets, the sight gags, the CGI fight scenes all sound great until you put them together into The Green Hornet. All in all, a good movie to skip, even on home video.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

83rd Annual Academy Awards

Of all the award shows out there, I only pay attention to the Academy Awards. The Oscars are most closely tied to the industry they represent and the voters are members of the industry, so they hold a little more sway with me. Yet, do the awards matter more than the work itself?I have a few gaps in my movie attendance this year, so I'm going to just concentrate on the big awards. And diving into the big awards brings us headlong into The Problem.

The Problem is this: What do you do when last year's winner outdoes himself? Jeff Bridges took home the trophy for Best Actor last year for Crazy Heart. This year, he gave us an even better performance in True Grit. Should he win automatically for doing a better job than a previous performance that won an Academy Award or should everyone be judged with a clean slate? Clean slate, obviously. The Problem occurs when voters (or observers who make a living hyping entertainment news) declare a winner due to a great body of work over a career. No one could argue that Jeff Bridges has a great resume and deserves career recognition, but, one year later, we can clearly see that Crazy Heart was Jeff's third best role, maybe. It's very important to cast our votes, non-binding or not, for the best performance of the year.

Having warned my readers about the dangers of acclamation, let's dive into the awards. Let's start with...

An asterisk * leading a nominee means I didn't see the movie.

Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening  The Kids Are All Right
*Nicole Kidman  Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence  Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman  Black Swan
*Michelle Williams  Blue Valentine

Acclamation has it going to Portman. Acclamation is correct this time, as her performance was head, shoulders and wings above the others I saw. She took some serious chances and it paid off big time. Some will say it's Bening's time and her performance was good, but, sorry, not this time. We could make a good argument for Jennifer Lawrence but Portman was feather better.

It would be a different story if Hailee Steinfeld had been nominated in this category for True Grit. She had more screen time than Jeff Bridges and completely inhabited her character. A competition between Natalie and Hailee would be be very interesting to contemplate.

Actor in a Leading Role
*Javier Bardem  Biutiful
Jeff Bridges  True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg  The Social Network
Colin Firth  The King's Speech
James Franco  127 Hours

Again, acclamation has this award already engraved with Colin Firth's name. I wouldn't have a problem with the Oscar going to any of the other three.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale  The Fighter
John Hawkes  Winter's Bone
Jeremy Renner  The Town
Mark Ruffalo  The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush  The King's Speech

Acclamation has this award going to Bale. I'd be fine with Bale or Hawkes taking it although I generally don't care for Bale. Renner and Ruffalo, while doing fine jobs, weren't quite as good. Rush did a decent job but I felt like he hit the comic relief part just a little too hard.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams  The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter  The King's Speech
Melissa Leo  The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld  True Grit
*Jacki Weaver  Animal Kingdom

As I mentioned before, Hailee did a fantastic job in what was really a lead role, so I'm going with her here. Oddly, The King's Speech was so good that I forgot my general dislike of Helena Bonham Carter (going back to The Wings of the Dove in 1997). I wouldn't object if she won which says volumes about how good she was. The ladies from The Fighter were both decent but not quite award winning. And really, why wasn't Mila Kunis nominated for Black Swan?

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
The Social Network Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin

There is no need for discussion or even mentioning the other nominees. Sorkin.

Black Swan  Darren Aronofsky
The Fighter  David O. Russell
The King's Speech  Tom Hooper
The Social Network  David Fincher
True Grit  Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

I'm going to give it Fincher for The Social Network. The most important thing about this category is that Darren Aronofsky can never win an Oscar. We can say wonderful things about Black Swan and some of his other movies but the guy who directed The Fountain can simply never be allowed to win an Oscar for directing.

Best Picture
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

Ten Best Picture nominees is simply too many to consider. I wouldn't object to any of them winning, except for:
Black Swan Both because it was hard to watch and to punish Aronofsky.
Inception It was 20 minutes too long. Maybe that's why it didn't get a nom for Film Editing.
127 Hours Not enough Kate Mara.

Oh, you want me to actually choose a winner? OK. Umm... The King's Speech. It's a close call this year, with The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit and Winter's Bone as exceptionally good runners up.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go find my tux so I can be suitably dressed when the show starts.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Contains minor spoiler

Unknown is what we will henceforth describe as the basic Liam Neeson thriller. A grainy, dark film set in an exotic foreign locale with car chases up the wazoo and a mano a mano resolution featuring lots of quick-cut martial arts. Convenient for us that Liam Neeson is also the star of Unknown. It's very similar to Neeson's Taken of two years ago, where a former spy tracks down his kidnapped daughter in Paris, causing untold physical and personal carnage. Here, an amnesiac summons his inner spy when his life and wife are stolen in Berlin, with untold physical and personal carnage.

Although I'm describing Unknown as a formula movie, it doesn't feel like one, and the presence of Liam Neeson means you automatically know who the good guy is. It runs about ten minutes too long but is a very serviceable thriller.

Here comes a minor rant

I watched the movie this morning and watched a little TV this afternoon. Wouldn't you know it, I saw a commercial for Unknown. Part of the plot revolves around stopping a bomb from detonating. The commercial, run during a prime-time TV show last Thursday, showed the bomb going off. I had not seen any commercials for the movie before seeing it and saw the in-theater preview maybe three times, most recently two weeks ago. The sequence with the explosion - very tense - worked. If the commercial or preview had been fresh in my mind, I wouldn't have cared - I would have known what was coming. Consider this yet another example of the movie's marketing department ruining the hard work of the creative department - you know, everybody who made the dang movie.  Stop it.


Monday, February 7, 2011

How I Met Your Mother - Climbing Out of the Hole

Last month, I wrote about how an episode of How I Met Your Mother was ruined by an overly funny gag during a death-in-the-family story. Because I am holding them to a high standard and blogged about it when they screwed up, I feel obligated to report when they get something right. Tonight's episode (season 6, ep 15) was out-of-the-ordinary funny.

First, it featured the relatively new character of Zoey, played by the adorable Jennifer Morrison, previously Dr Cameron on House, MD - always good to see her. In this episode, Zoey's cousin was played by Katie Perry and her breasts. I'm not sure what Katie's claim to fame is, but she's also cute and her cleavage is a good sport. There was ample screen time for Suzie Plakson as Marshall's mother. I've liked her since she played a Klingon on Star Trek The Next Generation a generation ago.

Aside from the good writing on tonight's episode, there were the Minnesotisms, which put it over the top. The politeness in answering the phone and Robin's fake accent were good, but Mrs Erickson's comment about going to Byerly's was genius.

So, How I Met Your Mother producers, you've climbed out of the bottom of your hole a little. This was a very good episode, but you still us a great one.

Beverage Recycling

At the last two movies I've been to, they played a Coca-Cola commercial before the previews. It showed several flashy, bouncy sequences where one person would toss a can or bottle into a recycling bin and immediately someone else would get a full pop from a vending machine. The tag line was "If you've had a Coke in the past 85 years, you've been part of the biggest beverage recycling program in the world."

I really hope they meant to say "beverage container recycling" rather than "beverage recycling." If they're turning old containers into new ones, hey, count me in. If Coke is putting urine - filtered, treated, evaporated, condensed, sliced, diced, or otherwise - in my pop, I'm switching to something else.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Little Fockers

A paycheck movie. Written by a sitcomputer.


Black Swan

It would be very difficult to provide a simple review of Black Swan. It's a good movie, but it's very complicated and a little disturbing. It's not a happy movie - movies don't need to be happy - and it may not be necessary for everyone to see it.

Natalie Portman deserves every accolade being thrown at her for playing the prima ballerina and Mila Kunis deserves more than a few for playing the understudy. Great performances from the entire cast, actually.

But something bothers me about Black Swan. And that thing is director Darren Aronofsky. Lets take a look at Aronofsky's resume:

Pi (1999) A math genius goes insane trying to find God in the non-repeating digits of pi.

The Fountain (2006) A guy with a spaceship goes insane and believes that his wife had been reincarnated as a tree.

The Wrestler (2009) A self-destructive guy does self-destructive things for 105 minutes.

Black Swan (2010) A driven ballerina goes insane when she gets her dream role and meets her polar opposite the same day.

Notice a trend? Crazy people (some certifiably, others hyperbolically) doing crazy things. Aronofsky's movies are dark and disturbing. Some are good (Pi), some are among the worst movies ever made (The Fountain). I'm not going to categorize Black Swan. It tells an amazing story but it's very difficult to watch. I assume that's what he was going for, so that's good, but it was difficult to watch. Not sure what else to say.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Country Strong

I went to see Country Strong last night. Based on the previews, I was expecting a formula movie - you know, a washed up singer hits rock bottom and wallows for 100 minutes, then has a mondo comeback concert. I make no apologies for liking formula movies - they're like comfort food and heaven knows I've put away enough comfort food over the years. Anyway, formula or not, it doesn't matter. Country Strong was nothing like the previews and I recommend that you skip it, even ten years from now when it's on cable and you've got nothing else to do. FIND something else to watch.

But here's the thing. I found myself chuckling over some of the country music cliches while I was watching the movie, then today, I realized that they used ALL of the country music cliches. I used Steve Goodman's song, You Never Even Called Me by My Name, as the guideline of what makes a country cliche.

Goodman said that the perfect country song would have to mention momma, trains, pick-up trucks, rain, prison and getting drunk. That's six elements. Country Strong features an alcoholic singer fresh out of rehab (1), who takes up with a saloon singer who drives a 1972 Ford F100 (2), who hops a ride on a freight train (3) and later finds our singer relapsing in a bar on a rainy night (4). There is also up & coming singer whose momma (and daddy) have been in prison (5 & 6). If I tried, I could probably put all of that into one sentence, but who cares? Skip the dang movie.


Monday, January 3, 2011

How I Met Your Mother - What the Hell?

I enjoy How I Met Your Mother. The premise of Ted annoying his kids by drawing out the story he tells them is pretty funny, the writing is great and the cast is pleasant. All good stuff.

Except for tonight's episode (season 6, ep 13). It was your basic episode, with hijinks and hilarity aplenty. I noticed right away that they had a countdown gag going on, with numbers prominently displayed, starting with 50. I had to rewind a couple of times to catch a few, more often that I lost count rather than they were hidden I'll admit. It was a legen - wait for it - dary gag - enjoy the show, have 50 bonus laughs with the numbers.

Except that they were counting down to a death in the family. When we got to 0001, the bad news was given. The show ends with two characters in tears. This was simply not the episode to have an extra thread of funny running through it.

So, to the How I Met Your Mother producers and writers, you guys owe us an extra-funny, APPROPRIATELY funny episode sometime soon. Above and beyond your normally funny standard. I will not forget this debt.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Firefly/Serenity on DVD

As I mentioned earlier, I am methodically going through my DVD collection, currently focusing on TV series sets. Firefly (2002) was not on my initial schedule, but had the Blu-Ray version on sale in November, so I upgraded. Once I had it in hand, I had to watch it soonishly.

After a week of watching two episodes a day, I finished the 14 network episodes yesterday evening and capped it off with a viewing of the movie Serenity last night. The Blu-Ray versions look fantastic. I could scarcely tell the difference between the TV episodes and the feature film.

The show holds up remarkably well, with stories about human nature, dignity, avarice, belief and greed, all strung together by the main theme of chosen family. Perhaps because it tries to be more than just a western set in space, Firefly is very entertaining and never drags. Every episode is thoroughly good, an opinion probably colored by the knowledge that there are only 14 of them. Serenity, with its mega-budget, is a balls-to-the-wall thriller with amazing action sequences. I am still able to say these nice things about the shows after watching the series start-to-finish at least six times in the past six years, and seeing Serenity at least 15 times since it opened in the theater on September 30, 2005.

If you want to be nagged into enjoying Firefly and Serenity, follow this link and this one into the onvoymovies archives.

Where are they now?
Nathan Fillion is fabulous on Castle.
Morena Baccarin is the villainous Anna on V. Her character on Firefly/Serenity is nothing like Anna.
Adam Baldwin plays Major Casey on Chuck.
Summer Glau will be on NBC's new series The Cape, which I had no interest in watching until a few moments ago.

[Update 1/18/2011: I watched the premiere of The Cape, and even though Summer Glau has a decent-sized role, wears mini-skirts frequently, is growing into her looks and has never looked hotter, I'm not watching it again.  On the plus side, The Cape will probably run 13 episodes and fade away, so Summer will be available for a new series this fall.

Another Where are they now?
Alan Tudyk will be in Transformers 3 this summer.  Hey, A guy has to eat.]


My final number for movies seen at a theater in 2010: 102.

Ten were movies that I went to see for the second time. There were another ten or so that I would have liked to see again but couldn't, mostly due to fast cycling-out of titles.

Twenty were part of Willow Creek Theater's retro program, where they show older titles on the weekends. At first, most of the retros could be considered classics or cool, but for the last few months, the titles have just been old (15-25 years) with little cachet. They just announced the titles for the next two months, none of which are must-sees for me. Retros are hereby caput unless they bring in something spectacular.

One of the reasons I won't miss the retro movies is that I noticed they cost me a few first-run viewings. It is the nature of the movie business these days to cycle titles really fast. And I mean fast - some movies that are promoted on TV and in previews for months have a big opening weekend and are gone in two or three weeks. The retro program took up 20 weekend slots that maybe would have been better spent going to a first-run movie instead.

My average ticket price for 2010 was $6.41. That's down almost a quarter from 2009, partly due to being comped by Willow Creek a few times and partly due to a new theater opening nearby with a matinee price of $5.00, which is nicely less than Willow Creek's $6.50. Maybe my New Year's resolution should be to see more movies at the less-expensive theater, but $1.50 isn't a bad premium for the convenience.

Most enjoyed movies in 2010 (in no particular order)
Easy A
Ramona and Beezus
She's Out of My League

Really good movies, even if they were downers
Never Let You Go
The Ghost Writer
The American

Worst movie of the year

Worst movie of the year, Dishonorable Mention
The Tourist

Picking a universally worst movie is problematic because you don't go to a movie you know you won't like. Most years, I would say I didn't see the truly worst movie of the year, because I skipped it. However, Nine was so bad, I think it may have been the worst movie of 2010 by any objective criteria. The Tourist deserves a mention not because it was bad, per se, but because it was such a disappointment. It had an A-List cast and fabulous Parisian & Venetian scenery, but the story sucked and some of the actors were sleepwalking. The Tourist should have been so much better.

How many movies will I see in 2011? Who knows? I'm not setting a quota, although I sure like round numbers and meaningless benchmarks. If we extrapolate from today - let's see, two days into the year and zero movies seen - I'll see NO movies this year. Well, the numbers don't lie but I think I'll buck the trend and see a few more than zero by December 31, 2011. Maybe a hundred more.

Holy Crap, I've Really Let This Blog Go to Seed!

If ever there is evidence that I am a slacker, it's the lack of posts on this blog recently (Hey, I just proved a negative! Cool). I could make up some excuse or rationalization, but the self-admitted slackerdom would tarnish the justification so I won't bother.

I will, however, tell you about what's been going on lately. I'm working my way through my DVD collection, focusing, for the moment, on TV season sets. I just did a quick count and found I have 75 seasons of TV on DVD. Seventy-five sounds like a lot but I have the complete series of a fair dozen, some of which went seven seasons, so it's not that many titles, yet it's a massive number of hours of programming.  It felt wrong to have spent hard-earned cash on these entertainment products but not watch them.  Something had to be done.

My strategic plan is to run through shows I haven't seen for a while, with an occasional fave thrown in. I finished Firefly/Serenity last night, a favorite. Over the next few days, slackerness notwithstanding, I'll tell you about my recent adventures.