my Movie
DVRfest 2010 (11.05.10 - 11.06.10, 5 movies)
Date Viewed Movie Director Notes
11.05.10The Lovely BonesPeter JacksonBehold DVRfest 2010! I'm getting back to my roots this year, meaning I have 6 random movies on my DVR, some of which have been there since June, and I'll be clearing them out over the next two nights. Traditionally this has been a time for me to reflect on all the movies I saw over the past year - the one-person festival serves as an anniversary of this website as well as an excuse to clear the DVR and to spend the weekend watching movies - but the past three years or so I really haven't seen that many so tonight's going to be more about seeing if I stay awake than any long pontifications on the nature of my movie-watching habits. Still, I'm glad to be celebrating my 6th year of cataloging every movie I see and have 6 pretty random films lined up for the occasion. First up is this Peter Jackson movie that I never got around to seeing upon release. I really don't even know much about it (picking the genre was hard!), just that it had pretty lukewarm reception and now he's kind of retreating back to Tolkein territory... usually not a great sign. I'm still hopefull though so let's get this show on the road! it's 10:45 and I've had a pretty long week at work. Here's to me not falling asleep and waking up on the couch at 5am with my contacts stuck to my eyelids! Back after the movie...

Huh. Well... It looked pretty. Stanley Tucci was in it more than I thought he would be, which is half good and half bad. The good because I thought he was the only actor doing any work on screen but bad because he was such an... easy choice. I think maybe if I was bald or balding I'd be mad at this film because he's the only hair-challenged guy in this and he's 100% creepo child-killer. And you see like 18 shots of his thinning pate before you even see his face. But aside from him (and a cameo from some avid book-buyer in a trenchcoat in the very beginning) i kind of felt like everyone just had to stare off laconically for the whole movie while the girl whispered at the audience. This was one of those movies that seemed to play in slow motion, which really doesn't make sense considering Jackson's previous work (excusing King Kong perhaps, which also plodded along but at least had action sequences to spice things up). And there's plenty of his "trademark" extreme close-ups and wide angle lenses when it's creepy time but all the effect shots and really everything else after the girl dies (which happens quite soon) felt like a test to see when I'd start dozing.

I think it may be one of those cases where the book should've remained a book. The story immediately felt disconnected for me and wasn't helped at all by Wahlberg who I guess hasn't been pushed as an actor before or since Boogie Nights with a side order of I Heart Huckabees (Maybe he'll be good in The Fighter, he's in that right?) who I never empathize with probably because the ghostly communion scenes are honestly a little confusing. I never really got how she got to see back into our world and only really saw the reflection thing at the end when there seemed to be a whole big scene building tension toward Tucci being stopped from pushing a certain piece of evidence into a safe hiding place but then Hitchcock's bomb on the bus actually blows up followed immediately by an incident so arbitrary that it gives no pay-off at all.

Parts were pretty though. I guess there's that. It's just sad when I remind myself of Heavanly Creatures and The Frighteners and compare them to this. Don't really know what happened but it's a pretty big mis-step.

Moving on, an old-school horror movie I taped off TCM during Halloween weekend. I've done this for the past several years in hopes of getting a movie just like this to fill out my DVRfest schedule and was kind of surprised to see this year that, aside from the Boris Karloff marathon where all those movies run together for me, this is really the only one that stood out as something I hadn't seen. I saw the re-make in the theater for some reason and left not happy. Let's hope the original is more fun and less Shannon Elizabeth trying to act.
11.06.10 13 GhostsWilliam CastleI didn't make it; fell asleep halfway through, so I watched the last half this morning.

A poor family learns that a mysterious rich uncle has left them his house in his will, which is great except the dozen ghosts inhabiting it. With the ability of these special glasses you can see them, which is where William Castle inserted his gimmick of "illusion-O" where the ghosts appear in blue and the audience has a choice of looking through a red filter to see them or a blue filter to wash them out.

This was pretty much exactly what I thought it would be: an innocent cheap fun movie that reminds me of the joy present in a lot of these old horror movies. Sure it's not at all scary or spooky and the floating candles and whatnot bring more smirks than shivers but... it's just fun to watch. It's comfortable like an old warm blanket. I think it's really great that TCM keeps up the tradition of horror movies on Halloween weekend; I really like that you can find movies like Night of the Living Dead and Creepshow on tv while carving pumpkins or decorating the house. Just as strong a connection as all the classic Christmas movies on in December if you ask me.

Anyway, that was last night's ghostly double feature. I'm not sure what I'm watching next but tonight will bring 4 more movies! See you then!
11.06.10The Steel HelmetSamuel FullerThe Second night of DVRfest starts off with Sam Fuller's The Steel Helmet. It's really a powerhouse of a war film, following one bastard of a Sergeant through a few incidents in the Korean War. We start the movie with him tied up and a bullet hole in his helmet, the lone survivor of a squad due to freak luck (the bullet slid around the bowl of the helmet and grazed his forehead on its way out) as he meets a South Korean kid that he calls Short Round. Honestly it's pretty hard to really absorb the fact that this movie came out in 1952. Not only was the Korean war going on but it had been less than ten years since Fuller himself was at war. Comparing this to any other war movie of the 40s, 50s, and even 60s, this is by far the most realistic view that I've seen. This movie could be made today and it would fit right in with the tone and message of current war films. The only thing it's missing is blood and flying limbs. Everything else feels 100% authentic. That makes this film a real experience to behold and I can completely see how this basically made Fuller's career. Great movie.

So... the next one I had planned I thought was feature length but it turns out to be only 40 minutes. I think I'll just update this entry after I watch it since that's a little rough to call a whole entry. Also, it starts with the words "Brett Ratner Presents" which... I'll be honest, if it was "Martin Scorsese Presents" it probably would've gotten its own entry. Oh well. I'll be back in 40 minutes.

I Knew it was You: Rediscovering John Cazale

It's interesting that this is only 40 minutes. It really should be longer, just like the man's life and his career, but I get the sense that there just isn't quite enough. The doc is well done even if the weird animated info-graphics set to catchy music is pretty out of place here (I wonder where that trend began. Was it Super Size Me? The Kid Stays in the Picture? Youtube?). They go over his short career and give glimpses of his stage work and get everyone you'd expect to talk about him. It makes me want to re-watch all five films that he was in. That's about it.

For some reason, I have no problem watching Sam Rockwell, Steve Buscemi, and Philip Seymour Hoffman talk about John Cazale (I guess because they're good actors and so was he?) but seeing Brett Ratner put himself on screen is offensive to me. I guess because they got more than enough people who actually knew them (the Carol Kane and John Savage interviews are hilariously short) so did we really need a random director thrown in the mix? whatever.

Anyway, that was surprisingly short. On to a romantic comedy that I've heard is bad but want to see anyway. And maybe some pizza.
11.06.10 Couples RetreatPeter BillingslyReally sad to see that everyone was right and this movie isn't that great. I was hoping for the best with Peter Billingsly and a script by Favreau and Vaughn but things really never came together here. It's a shame. You know it's bad when they steal jokes from Along Came Polly and don't pull it off as well as Hank Azaria did originally. I guess it's great that they got to hang out on the beach while making this but I wish they maybe would've worked a little harder or something. I don't know. It's funny how often these formula movies don't work. And it's also funny how everyone goes to see them anyway. Myself included. The line-up alone was enough to make me want to see it even though everyone hates it. It's weird how studio comedies are really just taking actors and putting them together. Sometimes you get Wedding Crashers, mostly you get You, Me and Dupree.

Anyway, it seems an all too soon end for this year's DVRfest but it's already 1:15 so I'd better get the last movie started.
11.06.10 Where the Wild Things AreSpike JonzeHuh. I'm not sure what I expected out of this and I'm not sure if I am impressed or disappointed or what. I kind of don't know what to think about this movie. I can definitely say that the creatures looked cool and were remarkably ambulatory. The design of their creations was cool as was the scenery. I think it's weird that Jonze - whose music video work can be so colorful and polished - tends more toward muted tones and hand-held in his feature work.

Kind of a weird movie I must say. I liked the music. Thought the kid was good... I guess it's really the story that's not sitting right with me. I'm not like a super fan of the book and really don't remember it that well at all (although I certainly had a copy as a kid), but isn't the book more about having fun for a night than bumming everyone out? I don't know... it all seems like some special view of childhood that I don't really identify with.

I guess this movie is hitting me like Adaptation did, which was I enjoyed the idea of the movie way more than actually watching it.

So... kind of a bummer end to DVRfest this year. Lots of falling asleep and rewinding. It also feels a bit short, but nothing I can do about it now that it's over. Next year perhaps.

So the stats. Oh the pitiful stats. This past year i saw 110 movies (0.3 a day), only 4 in the past week and month. My grand total is 2153 but with these slow years my average is down to 0.98 a day. Ouch. Netflix is now killing the venues at 395 with the number two slot being Alamo South lamar at 244. Do I usually talk more about this? I can't remember.

So yeah... to bring it back, Peter Bogdanovich kept his review cards going for something like 17 years. I'm now a pretty decent chunk into that at 6. Another two years and I'll be over halfway there, which is both awesome and insane. This year I've learned of a new group of Alamo regulars all with their own "tallies" going, which makes me feel old and pretty cool. This time next year I should maybe have my rumpus room done to the point where i do this festival in here rather than the living room. I hope to have my life in order to the point where I can do 10 movies again, and who knows how many movies I'll see in the meantime. Hopefully more than 4.