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Baron Grim Posted Dec 29, 2011
Well, I've since watched a few better films. Win Win with Paul Giamatti (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1606392/ ) was quite nice; a pleasant, small film. I also watched Hanna (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0993842/ ) which was also quite enjoyable.
For the holidays, Netflix offered me a bonus disc. Normally I only have one disc at home at once, but I could redeem this and get one film sent out before returning the one I had. So, I decided to do just that the other night. I opened the email and clicked to redeem this "free" disc. It took me to a page thanking me for whatever and said that my next disc in my queue would be shipped shortly. Bah! My next disc is The Conversation (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071360/ ). I'm sure this will be a good film, I've heard it is anyway, but I was hoping for something a bit more fun. Well, that's OK, I went ahead and put Cowboys & Aliens at the top of my queue. I'd already sent my copy of Hanna back in so I should have C&A for the weekend.
I don't know why, but Netflix skipped that one and went for my next choice, The Wave ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1063669/ ). This is the opposite of a "fun film". I've been wanting to see this for quite some time. I've had it reserved for a while since it wasn't yet available (it's also suddenly available for instant viewing as well). This is a modern German telling of a very controversial experiment done in a California high school in 1967. A history teacher tries to answer a student's question about how nearly the entire populace of Germany could tolerate and participate in the atrocities of the Third Reich. He does so by creating an autocratic, fascist movement within the school which quickly grows beyond his control. I had seen a version of this story made for US television back in 1981. It had a profound effect on me and made me very sensitive to anything I perceive as propaganda, brain washing, ultra-nationalism/patriotism and similar types of group-think movements and methods. (I'm sure this is also one of the reasons Fox News and conservative talk radio give me the heebie-jeebies. It also made me question my church as well as religion epitomizes brain washing.)
I do look forward to seeing this modern theatrical version of this, but it's not exactly the kind of thing I want to watch either New Years eve or day. I wanted to relax and watch things blow up!
Baron Grim Posted Jan 4, 2012
While folks in Iowa were deciding which nutter they preferred to lead the pack of nutters called the Republican party, I watched The Conversation. Francis Ford Copolla made this after his success with The Godfather. It's heavily influenced by Antonioni's Blow Up. That's, by no means, a bad thing. It's a quite enjoyable suspense film. Gene Hackman plays Harry Caul, the very best of the "buggers". He's a surveillance man specializing in audio recording. He's a devout Christian and quite paranoid and solitary person. His latest job is to record a conversation between a couple walking in Union Square in San Francisco. He uses three mics: a hidden mic up close and parabolic and shotgun mics from the buildings above. The opening scene is filmed and recorded just as Harry would (for the most part) from a distance surreptitiously. Harry tries to remain detached from his work, not caring what the conversation is about, just how well clear and audible it is. But as he pieces the conversation together, he fears his work may put this couple in danger. It's happened before.
I gotta say, as much as I enjoyed the film itself, I also quite enjoyed the trip back in time that comes with it. The technology in the film was all cutting edge in 1974 and so alien now in its analog nature. Now we take surveillance for granted; we know we have no privacy. Back then we knew enough to be paranoid.
There are quite a few familiar, if young faces in the film as well. In the cast were quite a few fairly unknown actors we're very familiar with now. The couple in the park are Fred Forrest and Cindy Williams. Forrest is of course well known for his role as Chef in Apocalypse Now and Cindy Williams will always be Shirley Feeny from Laverne & Shirley. Teri Garr has a small role. Harrison Ford had a small role but it was greatly expanded once they saw how good he was in it. The film opens with a long shot on Union Square and your eyes are drawn to the most annoying person in the park... a mime. Even the mime became famous shortly after this film. He's Robert Sheilds of the duo Sheilds and Yarnell. They appeared often on Sonny & Cher before getting their own brief variety show. Seriously, who likes mimes? OK, Lorene Yarnell was cute, but still. Speaking of cute, seeing Cindy Williams and Teri Garr in their mid 20's was quite nice.
Teri Garr was a complete and utter babe. Two words - Young Frankenstein
The Conversation is a seriously good film. I'd never seen it until recently when I got it from Netflix, and I can't remember what led me to it because I don't think I'd even heard of it. Maybe a recommendation from you? If Alex Cox never included this one in his Moviedrome series he should have because it's perfect Moviedrome fodder.
Hah! He did http://www.kurtodrome.net/moviedrome.htm Maybe that's where I got the inspiration to rent it. I remember going through that list a few years ago, adding movies to my queue by the handful.
I need to see The Conversation and Young Frankenstein again.
Baron Grim Posted Jan 4, 2012
Speaking of Jane Fonda... Did I mention that I watched F.T.A.? Wonderful documentary of the anti-war tour she, Donald Sutherland and others did back in the early 70's. It's scary how much she's still demonized today by conservatives even though almost everyone now agrees that the Viet Nam war was a fiasco.
The gist of this movie, as you described it, reminded me of the fairly-recent German film 'Lives of Others'. Have you seen it? I liked it a lot.
Baron Grim Posted Jan 5, 2012
Nope, haven't seen that yet. Looks interesting. I'll check it out.
Baron Grim Posted Feb 7, 2012
Here's a very thought provoking piece on the future of the motion picture industry, piracy and how it's here to stay, what Hollywood should do to minimize it and how they could treat their customers like they should be treated.
Just watching Hollywood beat the crap out of Netflix last year and make Netflix keep its mouth shut while it did so left me with very little goodwill for the studios and distributors. Netflix took a beating for changing their pricing structure, raising prices for those who want discs and streaming, and nearly splitting the services which would have made it much more inconvenient for customers rather than more so. All this was driven by the studios and distributors threatening to pull their libraries if Netflix didn't play along. And when Netflix was getting pummeled in the press, they played the part of the beaten spouse who insists she just fell down the stairs.
However, as much as I like Netflix, I do prefer to own movies. I want the special features, the commentaries, the subtitles. I don't get that with Netflix streaming and more often than not now, not even with the Blu-Ray discs by mail. And DVD/Blu Rays are increasingly annoying. Hollywood should really rethink what they're doing to their hard core consumers who buy these. We're spending a lot of money for them and yet WE'RE treated like criminals with all the dire warnings that we can't skip and the DRM that won't allow us to transfer a film to a portable device. And every time we have to sit through ads and trailers for 15 minutes before we can watch the movie WE PAID FOR!, they push us further toward the pirates.
It's seriously time for Hollywood to get serious about their business models.
If you've never worked in a cinema you have no idea of the power the studios hold and how they use it. I should probably say no more.
I know, but that's really as far as I can go in a public forum. Let's just say they hold all the cards.
Baron Grim Posted Feb 13, 2012
Here's another article, this one dealing with the future of film archives. The trouble of archiving digital media is one that directly affects my work. I've been concerned with how fleeting digital equipment and formats can be. Nothing stored digitally can be considered archival without constant vigilance in transferring the files to new storage and preserving and converting the files to new formats as they change. The problems for motion picture files are even more worrying when you consider the various encryption and DRM that may be involved. What I hadn't given much thought to before was how digital media are now threatening the future of physical film archives as film and equipment manufacturers are fading into the past. Kodak's bankruptcy is dire news for people in the conservation and preservation business.
Be sure and watch the brief speech by Michael Pogorzelski, director of the AMPAS archive. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nw-13h85Uxo )
If you find yourself a bit depressed, they were nice enough to include a bit of Maru at the end of the article.
The Lives of...
Baron Grim Posted May 9, 2012
Others. A very interesting story set in the DDR about the Stasi spying on East Germans. Unfortunately, someone who watched it before me doesn't know how to handle optical discs and it froze up less than halfway through the film.
Anyway, have you heard about CISPA yet? How about how the FBI wants companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, et al to give them a backdoor into all your information without the messy need for warrants. How about that huge NSA data center that they refuse to talk about.
Well, I'll have to wait to see how The Lives of Others turns out as I'm just not going to skip a chapter to get past the damage again. I can tell that this is right at the crux of this film like the last time.
Baron Grim Posted May 12, 2012
Baron Grim Posted May 12, 2012
Baron Grim Posted May 12, 2012
I had a similar problem with A Man For All Seasons - my favourite film and therefore doubly frustrating. It wouldn't play beyond a certain point and I just sent it back figuring I'd wait a while and then get another one because I know that when Netflix receives a disc they skim a very thin layer the protective coat off and reapply... something. I thought that even if I get the same copy back the process might have corrected the fault.
Nope Gonna have to buy a copy. And I heard this week that Amazon is going to start charging sales tax in Texas.
Baron Grim Posted May 12, 2012
This was definitely a different disc. I was a bit concerned when I got the disc because the inner envelope was sort of wrapped around the disc nearly necessitating getting finger prints on the disc to remove it. I did find several big prints on it after it froze so I cleaned it off thoroughly with a microfiber cloth and eyeglass lens cleaner. No luck. I couldn't even skip past the damaged chapter so I guess I won't be seeing the end of this. Too bad, it was probably a good film.
As to Amazon, I'm not overly bothered by the sales tax thing. Sure, it's nice to save money but if they have a distribution center in the state then they should charge taxes. That's always been the law for mail order businesses and just because Amazon is a 400 lb. gorilla, they shouldn't be exempt.
I wasn't suggesting that they should be exempt, merely that if I buy anything from them in the future it's going to cost me a little more. I don't have the same dislike of taxes that most Americans do (as long as my taxes are being spent on something worthwhile that benefits society, like a healthcare system), and I abhor the idea that big corporations can demand tax breaks in order to build a factory/warehouse/office, or 'we'll go somewhere else and we're taking our ball (dozens/hundreds/thousands of jobs) with us'.
The Adventures of Barry McKenzie
Baron Grim Posted Jul 12, 2012
Just a really awful little picture from 1972 featuring (and written by) Dame Edna Everadge. Racist, cheesy, poorly directed and written, confused, silly and quite fun.
This film is credited with saving the Australian film industry. It's also credited with making Foster's an international brand and getting the term "chunder" in the O.E.D.
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