Feb 6 2014

Quotable: J. B. Morton

“Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done.” from Rex v. Sussex, though I first heard it in the 1985 movie The Black Arrow, based on the Robert Louis Stevenson novel of the same name.

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Apr 23 2013

Weepy

n., A romantic and sentimental film or book.

“Who’s Nicholas Sparks?”

“Oh, you know, that guy that writes all those weepies.”

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Mar 9 2013

Overheard while watching Ghostbusters: 15 yr old female

Girl: Even the Amish people are jumping!

Guy: Those are Orthodox Jews.

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Jan 4 2013

VBS 2013 Development Diary: #1

Every year since 2004* I either write or co-write the script for the skits that we use in our church’s vacation Bible school, as well as acting, directing / co-directing, designing the logo, and creating and/or supervising the production of the sets, props, and costumes.

It can be massively rewarding, and a ton of fun. However, while it is rewarding, it is also a lot of work—about six to eight hours of organized work on set building and rehearsal per week for six weeks, then  a couple of Saturday practices, besides what I do at home writing, editing and designing. When you get through you are completely exhausted: physically, mentally, and emotionally.

And so I was thinking about bowing out this year. I thought about bowing out for VBS 2013 before VBS 2012 was even over.

December 2 the girls and I watched Hoodwinked with the writer and director commentary. I’d seen the movie a dozen times, and listened to the commentary once before, and it was still awesome hearing it again. After the movie we were sitting there discussing the commentary, the movie, and the nature of good movies and good storytelling in general.

“Lemme bounce an idea off of ya,” I told them. I kind of gave them an idea of what had been rolling around in my head. I hate to even call it an idea it was so vague; more like one of those ‘headaches with pictures,’ as Fry would say.

Less than an hour later the three of us had developed and recorded the entire plot for VBS 2013.

 

* We didn’t do a VBS 2007-2008

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Aug 17 2012

Quotable: Kenneth Branagh on the Thor DVD Commentary

“If I’d’ve had this opportunity on previous films they’d all have cost squinty billion dollars.”

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Jul 10 2012

Review: Brave

We saw Pixar’s Brave last weekend. It was OK.

I didn’t love or hate the movie; it was just fine. Really, it just seemed like pretty much every other Disney princess movie: I’m a young princess, I don’t want to do any thing I don’t feel like doing, I am willing to do bad things to keep from doing it, I don’t care about the consequences, etc. Our princess does learn a lesson, but it doesn’t really change much of the course of the movie–only a small consequence at the very end; in every other way, she gets what she wanted. By comparison, look at Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark in Iron Man, who learns the most significant lesson early in the movie, changing the course of his entire life as you had seen it to that point.

I really wanted to like our heroine, but if she was my daughter I wouldn’t like her very much (but then, I didn’t really like her parents in the film either).

The film is visually gorgeous, and it is humorous at times. The rest of the characters are fine, but I didn’t find myself caring about them a great deal.  I liked much of the music, but didn’t love it. Overall, I would say you could wait until it hits DVD.

Best part? The short film La Luna that precedes the movie, which was beautiful and imaginative.

I hate saying it, but Brave replaces A Bug’s Life as my least favorite Pixar film. Favorites? Up, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Toy Story 1 & 2.

 

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Apr 16 2012

Review: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Nostalgia

You know how you have fond memories of a TV show or movie from when you were young, and when you finally get to see it again as an adult (or in this case, older adult), it isn’t quite how you remembered it? Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s amazing, but some other times, well, not that good. Or awful.

One of the first non-animated movies we got for the girls when they were little was The Goonies; Heather and I both loved that movie. When we sat down to watch it, it was every bit as awesome as we remember (well, maybe not every bit–back then I still held out hope of finding underground passages, booby traps, waterslides, and hidden pirate ships). But there was something neither of us remembered: profanity–and a whole $@#&! lot of it.

Some other memories haven’t fared so well, either. A couple years ago I found Bravestarr on Hulu. If you haven’t seen it, it was a cartoon that was basically a sci-fi western. It was awesome when I was 14. When I watched it recently, the animation and draftsmanship were still amazing, but what else would you expect from Filmation? Everything else, though, was absolutely awful. For so long Heather wanted Greatest American Hero on DVD. We never got it for her, getting her Dukes of Hazzard and MacGyver instead, but she finally found GAH on Netflix. She didn’t even make it through the first episode.

Glory Days

Back on topic. The year was 1991. I was in summer classes at CMSU (now UCM), taking Dr. Sample’s Drawing II (three hours a day, three days a week) and Dr. Leuhrman’s Watercolor I (four hours a day, five days a week). I absolutely loved my watercolor class. It was one of the few classes where I actually tried hard to learn, tried to please my instructor, and begged for honest critiques (unlike pretty much every other art class). I only remember a few people from class: Dr. Leuhrman, the instructor, who always wore whites and pastels, and never got a drop of paint on him; some big guy, whose name I can’t remember, but who had a giant mane of jet black hair, a jawline beard, and was one of the few people in art school that made me insanely jealous of his ability; a girl named Ashley; and a cheery young woman named Elsa, whom I would later name my firstborn after. The big hits that summer were Wind of Change by the Scorpions, and Bryan Adams’s Everything I Do, from the summer blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

I think it was Wilxn , or maybe Wayne, who was with me when I saw the trailer for RHPOT (at the AMC theater inside Bannister Mall…remember Bannister Mall? Back before it went all skeevy and they tore it down?). Wilxn and I went to see it in the theater that summer. It was amazing. I think that was the day we went to the Swap Shop, saw two movies (the other one, I believe, was Mel Gibson’s Hamlet), and probably went just looking around for stuff. We got home late (when didn’t we?), and that was when we realized it really was possible to do too much stuff in one day.

Back to the movie–easily my favorite movie of the whole summer.

Back to the Present

Later I saw it a couple of times on VHS. I know I saw it once with Noodles, whose favorite line was at almost the end of the movie: “Reckanize this?”

A couple weeks ago I picked up a copy of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves on DVD. I have had Michael Kamen’s amazing soundtrack for years, but I hadn’t seen the movie in at least 17 years. Last night while I was working on a case for my new Bible I popped the movie in.

It was terrible.

The movie is so hammy, so goofy, and what I believe to be unintentionally campy it’s hard to believe I enjoyed it as a serious adventure flick. I’m not going to say anything about the movie’s most frequent complaint–Kevin Costner’s accent–because it didn’t bother me then and it didn’t bother me now.

Alan Rickman, who is awesome, chews scenery with the power of a thousand suns. His inflections in so many scenes are so funny, it almost seems like Kevin Reynolds (the director) told him, ‘Hey Alan, can you play the Sheriff of Nottingham kind of like Peter Ustinov played Prince John in Disney’s Robin Hood? That’d be great.’ Rickman’s Sheriff doesn’t just say ‘spoon,’ he says ‘speeooon!’

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, whom I remember being very pretty, um, I did not now think was very pretty (of course, all women are less pretty after being married to Heather).

Morgan Freeman was awesome as Azeem. One of my favorite parts of the movie, both as a young buck and now, was the part where Mortiana the witch busts in and and tries to impale Robin, and then Azeem busts in and throws that gigantic scimitar across the entire screen. I remember it caught Wilxn and me so off-guard I think we literally yelled in the theater. I guess we’re the kind of guys that Shakespeare had to make comedy relief for, for fear we’d jump up and stab an actor. Whatever. Lincoln would back me up on this.

Everyone else was fine, whatever. The movie’s real weakness is the goofy script and hammy directing.

Best part of the entire movie, then and now: the late Michael Kamen’s amazing score (he also did the incredible score for Hudson Hawk). For those of you who don’t think you could pick out anything from the soundtrack aside from Bryan Adams’s Everything I Do, I guarantee you have heard it, usually when you hear  that amazing fanfare accompanying the Magic Kingdom logo at the beginnings of a number of Disney movies.

The DVD Itself

The RHPOT DVD itself, well, is amazingly bad. You actually have to flip the disc over in the middle of the movie. This isn’t like Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, where the movie is so amazingly long that it literally won’t fit on a single disc, but the producers of the DVD realized this and made an elegant transition for you to get some more popcorn, go to the bathroom, come back and pop in the second disc. With Robin Hood, the disc-flip happens mid-scene.

For those of you out there who want to get into DVD production but you think your low IQ or lack of skill might keep you from realizing your dream, there is hope.

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Mar 27 2012

Quotable: Jenny from Big Fish

“No, it’s logical
if you think like your father.
See, to him,
there’s only two women:
your mother
and
everyone else.”

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Mar 23 2012

Movie Review: The Hunger Games

I haven’t read The Hunger Games, and haven’t really paid attention to the book series. I had the barest concept of the story from The Baby, who liked the first book, was cool to the second, and hated the third. So I had pretty much no expectations going in. I only went because the girls wanted to go to the midnight showing, and I had Friday off work.

The movie was amazing.

The concept is that in a dystopian indeterminate future, there was an uprising that was quashed by the world government. Every year since, 74 years running, they select two teens–one male, one female–from each of the empire’s 12 districts to compete to the death until a single winner is crowned.

Parental Info:

  • Sex: nonexistent.
  • Language: I counted three swear words.
  • Violence: realistic, unglamorized, but not gratuitous

Go see it.

 

Spoilers follow:

 

You might wonder how they can tell a story aimed at teens and tweens about teens killing each other (apart from the Tri-Wizard Tournament in Harry Potter) and keep it from glorifying killing. Really well, actually. The movie has a good share of violence, but it’s not what you expect from a typical Hollywood movie about people forced to kill one another for sport. The violence is ugly. There are no witty rejoinders or bad puns or catchphrases uttered as your opponent dies. Ugly things happen.

The movies avoids so many clichés. The lead character is Katniss Everdeen, a late teen girl who uses a bow to hunt game to feed her impoverished family. With so many other movies, having a female lead means she is either, as my daughters succinctly pointed out,  1) an independent woman who doesn’t need a man or 2) really needy, or 3) an independent woman who doesn’t need a man–until she gets one–and then she is needy. Also, she should be ridiculously hot.

Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is attractive, but she doesn’t look like a supermodel. She just looks very real. Her character is strong, smart, tough, caring, and a little socially awkward. She acts very real.

There is a romantic relationship in the movie–kind of. There were so many clichés that they could have fallen into with the relationship, but chose not to. Even though the couple seem close, things are a little ambiguous, and there are hints that some other things are irreparably altered because of the relationship.

The entire movie was excellent. The camerawork, the music, the production design, the acting. I was really surprised to enjoy it, and enjoy it so much.

However, because it avoids so many common pitfalls that could have really turned this into every other action and romance flick, I wonder how well it will do at the box office.

Here’s hoping it does.

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Feb 23 2012

Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D

So I was doing some research for another post and I stumbled across this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can read about it here.

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