Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 Movie Archive

Total Films Watched in 2005: (193)

New (139)
Re-watched (54)

[Navigation Note: Each title here will take you to my blog post where the film was mentioned. Within the blog post, the film's title is linked to the imdb entry for that particular film.]

[FYI: this list goes from the end of the year 2005 (at the top) to the beginning of the year (at the bottom)]

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Cinderella Man (2005)
Titanic (1997)
Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)
Super Size Me (2004)
King Kong (2005)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
War of the Worlds (2005)
Scooby Doo 2: Monster's Unleashed (2004)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
The Polar Express (2004)
A Christmas Story (1983)
Christmas Vacation (1989)
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
House of Flying Daggers (2004)
The Polar Express (2004)
Millions (2004)
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Robots (2005)
Crash (2004)
The Girl Next Door (2004)
Sin City (2005)
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
The Thin Man (1934)
Finding Neverland (2004)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Office Space (1999)
Racing Stripes (2005)
Camille (1936)
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
Nikita (1990)
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Dracula (1931)
Léon: The Professional (1994)
Yojimbo (1961)
The Blob (1958)
Heat (1995)
Grand Hotel (1932)
An American in Paris (1951)
GiGi (1958)
The Corpse Bride (2005)
I [Heart] Huckabees (2004)
Deliverance (1972)
High Plains Drifter (1973)
Around the World in 80 Days (2004)
Around the World in Eighty Days (1956)
The Great Race (1965)
Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965)
Spanglish (2004)
Unforgiven (1992)
Cinderella (1950)
Rebecca (1940)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Dirty Harry (1971)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
Rope (1948)
The Color Purple (1985)
Deathtrap (1982)
Whale Rider (2002)
Spellbound (1945)
Wimbledon (2004)
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Shattered Glass (2003)
National Treasure (2004)
The Village (2004)
Sahara (1943)
Winged Migration (2001)
Dr. Zhivago (1965)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
Saved! (2004)
In America (2002)
A Bug's Life (1998)
Toy Story (1995)
March of the Penguins (2005)
Great Expectations (1946)
Open Water (2003)
The Lost Weekend (1945)
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
Friday Night Lights (2004)
Brief Encounter (1945)
Escanaba in da Moonlight (2001)
Fantasia (1940)
The Sullivans (1944)
Predator (1987)
1941 (1979)
Born Yesterday (1950)
Bambi (1942)
The French Connection (1971)
Empire of the Sun (1987)
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
The Flight of the Phoenix (1965)
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941)
The Final Countdown (1980)
I, Robot (2004)
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
The Next Karate Kid (1994)
The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
All About Eve (1950)
The Terminal (2004)
Garden State (2004)
It Happened One Night (1934)
Jaws (1975)
Father of the Bride (1991)
Father of the Bride (1950)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Batman Begins (2005)
THX 1138 (1971)
A Shot in the Dark (1964)
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
Hero (2002)
The Aviator (2004)
The Outlaw (1943)
Metropolis (1927)
The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Collateral (2004)
North by Northwest (1959)
The 39 Steps (1935)
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
Hotel Rwanda (2004)
Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003)
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Star Wars: Episode II - The Attack of the Clones (2002)
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
Dr. Strangelove (1964)
That Funny Feeling (1965)
Jerry Seinfeld: I'm Telling You for the Last Time (1998)
The Third Man (1949)
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
The Flight of the Phoenix (2004)
Ice Age (2002)
Because of Winn-Dixie (2005)
The Two Towers (2002)
Léon: The Professional (1994)
The Last Samurai (2003)
The Karate Kid (1984)
The Return of the King (2003)
Minority Report (2002)
Beyond The Sea (2004)
Lost In Translation (2003)
Artificial Intelligence: AI (2000)
Matchstick Men (2003)
Citizen Kane (1941)
Love Actually (2003)
De-Lovely (2004)
Secret Window (2004)
The Butterfly Effect (2004)
The Pink Panther (1963)
The Iron Giant (1999)
M (1931)
The Incredibles (2004)
The Passion Of The Christ (2004)
Friendly Persuasion (1956)
The Incredibles (2004)
Finding Neverland (2004)
Tombstone (1993)
Bambi (1942)
Adam's Rib (1949)
She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1949)
The Spanish Prisoner (1997)
The Whole Wide World (1996)
Bubba Ho-tep (2002)
Night and Day (1946)
The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)
Cheaper By The Dozen (1950)
Cheaper By The Dozen (2003)
The Notebook (2004)
Excalibur (1981)
Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird (1985)
The Barbarian Invasions (2003)
X2 (2003)
Just Married (2003)
Gone With The Wind (1939)
Rocky (1976)
Rocky II (1979)
Rocky III (1982)
Rocky IV (1985)
Rocky V (1990)
The Court Jester (1956)
The Phantom Of The Opera (2004)

Friday, December 30, 2005

Hit And Run Wrap-up

A day short of three weeks later, we finally got permission to have our car fixed!
That crazy, McDonald's lovin', little old pirate lady continued to be evasive even with her own insurance company. It took them nearly two weeks to get her side of the story which was that Christy ran the red light, hit her (amazingly, with her right passenger side door, no less) and then left the scene. Hmmm. That sounds familiar - oh yeah, because that what she herself did to Christy (except, more conveniently, with her front bumper)! So then they tried to get in touch with the witness and that took another week. Finally, I got a call Tuesday that they had determined the liability to be their insured (fantastic detective work!) and that we should begin the process to get the car repaired.

It looks like the repairs will take anther couple of weeks, but at least we're moving in the right direction.

We're very thankful that my Dad was on vacation and loaned us his car for our trip to Michigan over the weekend of Christmas, so we didn't have to miss that. Right now, we're still driving the car until repairs can begin (hopefully sometime next week).

Hopefully, I'll be able to get a little bit more news from last weekend posted this weekend. No promises, though.

If I don't get back before 2006 arrives...Happy Anniversary of the commencement of, um -- Happy New Year!!

Films Recently Watched:

Speaking of McDonalds...
Super Size Me (2004) dir. by Morgan Spurlock

Speaking of pirates...
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) dir. by Gore Verbinski

Speaking of doomed journeys...
Titanic (1997) dir. by James Cameron

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Let's Go To The Movies...

I've seen two films currently in theaters in less than a week. Is the world coming to an end?

Films Recently Watched:

King Kong (2005) dir. by Peter Jackson

Christy's Christmas Holiday was Friday/Monday but mine was Monday/Tuesday so on Tuesday as Christy went back to work, I was able to run some errands and take in a matinee.

King Kong is the first film that Peter Jackson has made since his wonderful Lord of the Rings trilogy. Well, Jackson had a much simpler story to tell in Kong, but it is a story with which we are all familiar -- Beauty and the Beast. The presentation of that story is exellent for the most part. I have to agree with something I've heard others say about Jackson's Kong; that there's a wonderful 2 or 2.5 hour film in this 187 minute behemoth (or, is that an 800-pound-gorilla?). There are several sequences that are overly long and ultimately useless.

Andy Serkis, who did the voice and motion capture for LOTR's Gollum/Smeagol character, does the motion capture again here for Kong. Kong is as believable and compelling a CG character as I've seen. If I hadn't known better, I would have thought that they'd somehow used an actual ape and miniaturized the sets to create scale. Kong is terrifying, sad and funny, all without ever speaking a word. Excellent work from beginning to end.

There are also good performances by Jack Black as the obsessed movie director, Carl Denham and by Naomi Watts as Ann Darrow, the damsel in distress.

Overall, King Kong is lots of thrills and lots of fun with a few poignant moments, too. Definately worth seeing on the big screen.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) dir. by Andrew Adamson
Well, I was able to see this while we were in Michigan over the weekend. Christy's Mom & Dad watched Hannah while Christy, her brother, Paul, and I went to the local cinema. The film was good, for the most part. All of the characters were believable in their roles. The sets were beautiful. The CG work was decent overall, though there were moments that could have used a bit more polish. Nonetheless, there was something missing.

I have read a few other thoughts about the film, etc. from Brian, Jamie, (their December 13, 2005 entries) and especially their friend, Amy. I felt something during the film that was also experienced by Jamie and Amy. I was ready to be brought to tears by the shaving and execution of Aslan, but wasn't. I was nearly there when Lucy notices Aslan's pensive look after his meeting with the White Witch - I knew it was coming, but when it happened, I was not moved. At first, I thought maybe the scene where Aslan presents himself at the Stone Table was too "Passion of the Christ." Then, I thought that more could have been done with the musical score during this scene to give more emotion. I still think that; both for that scene and the entire film, but I believe that Brian and Jamie's friend, Amy has identified the primary reason: The movie is made out to be about the children and not Aslan. With their gifts and weapons, the children seem to have no need for Aslan and his sacrifice is cheapened.

It's unfortunate, because if they'd gotten that right, it would have been nearly perfect.

Other films recently watched:
War of the Worlds (2005) dir. by Steven Spielberg
Another letdown for me, I'm afraid. I was really looking forward to seeing this, but came away with the feeling that I'd seen it all before. For a director like Spielberg to take on a classic story like War of the Worlds, something more needs to happen to make it worthwhile. Either the story needs to be altered in some interesting way, or the classic story needs to be brought to the screen in a way that we've never seen before. Spielberg went for the latter, but gave us Independence Day, minus the humor, and nine years late.

Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004) dir. by Raja Gosnell
I almost walked out on this a few minutes before the end so that I wouldn't have to post it here, but I didn't. At least this one wasn't a letdown for me. It was exactly what I expected. :)

It's a Wonderful Life (1946) dir. by Frank Capra.
This ought to round out my Christmas movie watching for the year. Never a letdown. Makes me cry every time!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Self Portrait Tuesday

I don't expect that this will become a regular item here, but I've recently become aware of the blog phenomenon that is: Self Portrait Tuesday. December's theme is "reflective surfaces" and I had this picture and kind of liked it, so here was my excuse to post it.

Films Recently Watched:

House of Flying Daggers (2004) dir. by Yimou Zhang
Zhang also directed another film I watched several months ago, Hero, which starred Jet Li. Both of these films are sights to behold. Monochromatic sets and costumes abound in vivid colors. I'm not a huge martial arts film lover, but both of these films seem to be to be much more than your standard martial arts films. Be aware that both of these films (Hero & House of Flying Daggers) are foreign language films (Mandarin/Chinese for both). I believe that the DVDs have an English dub, but I also believe that the proper way to watch them is in their original language w/ subtitles.

Spider-Man 2 (2004) dir. by Sam Raimi

Let the Christmas movie-fest begin!

How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) dir. by Chuck Jones and Ben Washam

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) dir. by George Seaton

Christmas Vacation (1989) dir. by Jeremiah S. Chechik. Written and produced by John Hughes.

A Christmas Story (1983) dir. by Bob Clark

The Polar Express (2004) dir. by Robert Zemekis Like I said before, the first time I watched this was with Hannah while Christy was out shopping. So Christy wanted to watch it too, so I watched it again.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Hit and "One cheeseburger to go, please."

Click to enlargeChristy was in a minor traffic accident on Tuesday this week.

She's OK. A little shaken up, but who wouldn't be? As you can see, the car took a pretty good jolt to the right rear door.

We're waiting to get the official accident report so that we can get necessary repairs taken care of properly, but here's what happened:

Christy was going through an intersection on green when a little old lady ran a red light and collided with her passenger side rear door. Christy tried to swerve to avoid the collision, but couldn't. Once she was able to clear the intersection and get off the road, the little old lady was nowhere to be found.

What happened next put this recent McDonald's ad campaign into a whole new light for me:

Fortunately, there was a very cooperative witness who was directly behind Christy when the accident occurred. The witness noticed that the little old lady wasn't stopping, so she followed her. Where, you ask? Well, let me tell you: to the McDonald's Drive-Thru! The McDonalds is located right at the intersection where the crash was, so she pulled in, and got in line. The witness stopped long enough to get her license plate number and then went back to where Christy had stopped and gave her the information. When the police arrived, Christy and the witness told them what had happened and they went over to the McDonalds and found the little old lady in a parking spot eating her lunch!

A little advice from me to you: if you ever find yourself in this situation, when the police officer comes up to your car and asks about what happened, don't ask, "How did you find me?" More advice: don't put yourself between little old ladies and a nearby McDonalds. This is now the definition of "in harm's way."

Apparently, the rest of the conversation involved her trying to deny involvement and say that her car wasn't damaged, when, in fact, it obviously was. Then, she said something about being worried about her insurance rates going up, etc.

I guess you could call it a "hit and run," -- she just didn't run very far. I really don't know whether she was or will be charged with leaving the scene, but it seems like she should be. We were very thankful for the witness who not only followed the other driver and got her license plate number, but also stuck around to talk to the police. Without the witness, it might have just ended up being a typical hit and run. At best, it would have been one person's word against another's about what color the light was.

The main thing is nobody was hurt, so we're also thankful for that.

It may put a glitch in our plans to travel to Michigan for Christmas. It depends on how quickly repairs can be made or if we can get a rental without mileage restrictions. We'll just hope for the best. 'Tis the season!

Daycare Christmas Program

Well, this year's Christmas program went decidedly better than last year's. We managed to get a seat on an aisle with a clear view to the risers, all without violence of any kind!

I wasn't entirely happy with the still shots that I got, but here are a couple anyway:

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge

I also got some mostly unobstructed video of Hannah's part of the performance. Mainly, though, we were happy just to be able to see the program.

Hannah did a pretty good job singing "Away In A Manger" and quoting her Bible verse and doing some of the hand motions along with her class.

Monday, December 05, 2005

December Weekend

We had a good weekend. Friday, Christy went shopping with a friend in Indianapolis, so Hannah and I had a Father-Daughter night. We got McDonald's to go, set up blankets in front of the TV, had a "picnic," and watched a movie.

Saturday was the first of several Christmas parties/events we have during December. This one was Christy's work Christmas Party at Beef and Boards in Indianapolis.

A little bit of history: Several years ago (we think it was in 1999), we were driving to Christy's work Christmas Party which was at Beef and Boards that year as well. We were on our way, probably less than five miles from the theater, zooming around I-465, when the engine of our "good car" at the time (which two or three traffic accidents later, happens to be my "junker" now) suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, went dead -- as a doornail. I headed for the right shoulder, put it in neutral, tried to restart - nothing. We rolled to a stop near the Ditch Road (life's funny ain't it?) overpass, and considered our options. Now, let the record show that I, still to this day, do not carry an electronic leash a cellular phone. Christy now needs one for work which she usually keeps in the car, which we have, on occasion, used for emergency purposes. But this all happened before Christy was managing her department and thus, no cell phone. I don't generally find Indianapolis to be an unfriendly town, but we felt it unlikely that a good Samaritan would stop and assist, so we assumed that we were on our own. It was well after dark in December and let's just say we weren't having a heat-wave at the time. One or both of us would have to go somewhere we could use a phone to call for help. We were both dressed nicely, but at least I wasn't wearing heels. I hated leaving Christy on the side of the road in a car with no heat, but she would have been miserable walking as far as I ended up having to walk. I found a blanket in the trunk and gave it to her and set off to find a phone. I am only slightly more familiar with the Indianapolis area now than I was then, but that's not saying much. Once I crawled up the embankment to Ditch Road, I headed South (I figured maybe it would be warmer). Perhaps this stretch between 465 and 86th Street is more developed now than it was then, but everything I saw along the way was residential. Again, I don't feel that Indianapolis is an unfriendly town, but I wasn't about to go knocking on doors of strangers alone and after dark in an unfamiliar part of town. I finally got to the intersection with 86th Street and found a filling station and went in and told them my story. They pulled out the yellow pages and allowed me to use their phone to call a wrecker service. After a couple of tries, I found a company that was willing to haul my car back to our fair city, Anderson, which is about 25-30 miles outside of Indy. I thanked the gentlemen for the use of their phone and headed back to the car. It only took a couple of moments before those nagging questions began to creep into my mind. What if the wrecker gets there before I do and is unwilling to wait for my return? What if the car isn't there when I get back? What if the car is there, but Christy is gone? What if the car got plowed into by a truck while just sitting on the side of the road? Try as I might to suppress them, these types of thoughts often lay siege to my consciousness. So I began to half-walk, half-jog back to the car, completing my nearly two-mile round trip. I made it to the overpass and rejoiced at the sight of my broken down Chevy. I got back into the car with Christy and, after a while, realized that my concerns about a too-speedy recovery were entirely unwarranted. Finally, flashing yellow lights approaching from the distance made their way into my rear-view mirror. Wrecker Dude hoisted the car up onto his flatbed and went to the next exit where he could turn around and begin the trip back to Anderson. The exit where he turned around happened to be the very exit for what was our original destination which can be seen from the road. Christy and I both looked longingly at the sign on the side of the building (MMMmmm....Beef -- and Boards). After finally warming up, then getting a bit toasty, then baking in the cab of the truck, we had Wrecker Dude drop the car at a service station in Anderson and then he took us to our apartment. Not a fun evening.

Christy and Jeremy at Beef and BoardsFortunately, this year's trip went flawlessly with the possible exception of a bit of an ice storm that made the roads a bit slick for the trip home.

We were pleasantly surprised that a portion of the show was dedicated to a "Traditional Christmas" which featured a Nativity scene and several songs about Jesus. Wow, we've nearly come to expect that most, if not all, references to Christ will be removed from these types of programs, even down to the word, "Christmas." I've written to the theater to express my appreciation for this as well as the fine service, food and entertainment.

Hannah and Santa Claus, 2005After church on Sunday, we went to the mall here in Anderson and had Hannah's picture taken with Santa Claus. To the left is a picture that they allowed me to take as long as we paid for the picture that they took as well.

Films Recently Watched:

A Manchurian Double-Feature:

The Manchurian Candidate (1962) dir. by John Frankenheimer
Check another off of the AFI's - 100 Years...100 Movies list for me. 62 seen, 38 to go.

The Manchurian Candidate (2004) dir. by Jonathan Demme
A few twists on the original film's plot. A couple of updates. A couple of good performances (namely by Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep), but nothing astounding here, in my opinion. I'll stick with the 1962 film.

A Tim Burton Triple-Feature combined with a Johhny Depp Double-Feature:

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) dir. by Henry Selick. Written and produced by Tim Burton.
This is one of my annual holiday films, and I love it every year!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) dir. by Tim Burton
Starring Johhny Depp.
I'm not sure what to think of this. I'm glad that Burton remade this story as it is quite "Burtonesque." But, for me, it doesn't have the magic that the Gene Wilder film has. Perhaps this will change upon repeated viewings.

Edward Scissorhands (1990) dir. by Tim Burton
Starring Johhny Depp.
Danny Elfman's original music score to this film is one of my absolute favorites. While watching it again for the first time in a long time, I remembered how well the music compliments the on-screen action and the story, characters, mood, etc. This is one film that would not be as good as it is without this Elfman score.

Millions (2004) dir. by Danny Boyle

The Polar Express (2004) dir. by Robert Zemekis
This is the movie that Hannah and I watched on our Friday Father-Daughter night. She got a little nervous during a couple of the perilous scenes, but as it turns out, she ended up watching it again the very next night with the babysitter.

I missed this in theaters when it released about this time last year. I got the DVD blind, hoping that I would enjoy it and I did. At least, it was better than other recent attempts at turning a short children's book into a feature-length film. I can definitely see this becoming part of the group of "modern classics" in the Christmas Holiday film vaults.

Do yourself a favor and read my friend, Ward's post about this film. He approaches it from the perspective of an artist/animator. Be sure to follow the link about the uncanny valley - fascinating stuff. Also, be sure to read his second post, where he shows how simple changes to the film's characters can make drastic changes it their apparent attitudes and emotions.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I can't believe it's December already!

Seriously, you guys.

Why, it seems like just yesterday it was only November....

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Pat Morita (1932-2005)

Mr. MiyagiPat Morita dies at age 73 on Thanksgiving Day

I was sorry to hear that this oscar-nominated actor died recently.

Perhaps Ralph Macchio said it best upon hearing the sad news...

"It was both my honor and privilege to have worked with him and create a bit of cinema magic together," Macchio said in a statement. "My life is all the richer for having known him. I will miss his genuine friendship. Forever my Sensei."

Read a few other thoughts about The Karate Kid in my post here.

Films Recently Watched:

The Girl Next Door (2004) dir. by Luke Greenfield

Crash (2004) Written and Directed by Paul Haggis
Paul Haggis also wrote the screenplay for Million Dollar Baby. These two films are the only ones that I've seen recently that have made me want to physically interact with on-screen action in order to prevent something from happening. It's about an emotional connection with the characters, something that only a few of the many are able to accomplish as hard as they may try. That said, it is important that you view this film as a modern-day fable. The coincidental events that occur during the film are unlikely at very best, and probably closer to completely implausible in a city the size of Los Angeles. Nonetheless, as a moral tale, it is well-connected and well-written. I definitely recommend it to those who can tolerate the "R" rating: "for language, sexual content and some violence."

Robots (2005) dir. by Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha
This, from the makers of Ice Age is another example of a CG film with amazing visuals and astounding voice talent, but no heart. I remember enjoying Ice Age, but Robots isn't Ice Age. I hope for better things from the sequel, Ice Age 2: The Meltdown.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Today In History...

If you've seen Steven Spielberg's film, Saving Private Ryan, you probably remember the scene early on where letters of condolence are being typed to families of the fallen soldiers. General Marshall (played by Harve Presnell, pictured here--->) reads a letter that Abraham Lincoln wrote to a mother of five sons, all of whom were killed in the Civil War.

Well, in the movie, that emotional reading compels the powers that be to dispatch an entire platoon of troops to save Private Ryan, the one remaining son whose three brothers have all been killed in the U.S. war effort.

That letter by Abraham Lincoln, now known as The Bixby Letter, was written on today's date, November 21, in 1864. But there's more to that story than what I knew previously.

First, as it turns out all five of Lydia Bixby's sons were not killed in the Civil War. Though still tragic, only two of her sons were killed in combat. Of the other three, two deserted the Union Army, and the other was captured by Confederate forces and was later honorably discharged from the Army.

Furthermore, it appears that the letter may not have even been written by Abraham Lincoln at all. Though admittedly, there is no absolute proof either way, some speculate for various reasons that the letter was a forgery.

Anyway, it was news to me, so I thought it might be news to you, too.

Everybody have a safe and happy Thanksgiving (and Black Friday, too!)

Friday, November 18, 2005

DVDs May Be Hazardous To Your Health?

Oh dear! Color Me Concerned!

Apparently, some state attorneys general believe that portrayals of smoking in movies causes "these kids today" to begin smoking. Well, I don't know about that, but the film studios can do whatever they want as long as any public service announcement on any DVD that I purchase can be skipped by either fast-forwarding or pressing "MENU." That goes for the FBI anti-piracy warning too, but more and more of those are becoming non-skippable. :angry:

In related news, I decided to participate in The Great American Smokeout yesterday. Despite the fact that I've never smoked a cigarrette or otherwise consumed tobacco/nicotine products, BUT, as a consumer of DVDs, and now, with this new information; I mean, hey - you can't be too careful, right? Am I right, or am I right?


Films Recently Watched:

Sin City (2005) dir. by Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez

Contained in this film, there are several instances of glorified tobacco use, and yet, even now, I have no desire to begin smoking. My committment to the Great American Smokeout is paying off already!!

I very much enjoyed the highly stylized visuals in this film. The nature of the source material apparently didn't lend itself to integrated plot threads so the story jumps around a bit.

For examples of how they used the graphic novel to establish the look of the film, look at Ward's Post about the film.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

What Hannah Said #2

Hannah: Are you tired, Mommy?
Christy: I'm a little tired.
Hannah: I'm BIG tired.

McZoli's = Fazoli's (EDIT: a late addition)
tu-bana = banana
tu-jamas = pajamas
nay-care = daycare
potato = tomato (and vice versa)

What are you doing in the whole world?


Hannah's first joke:
Hannah: Knock, Knock
Me: Who's there?
Hannah: Baby
Me: Baby Who?
Hannah: With a Bottle!

Films Recently Watched:

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) dir. by George Lucas
The new DVD looks and sounds good to me!

Nikita (1990) dir. by Luc Besson

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) dir. by Wes Anderson

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004) dir. by Rawson Marshall Thurber

Camille (1936) dir. by George Cukor

Racing Stripes (2005) dir. by Frederik Du Chau

Office Space (1999) dir. by Mike Judge

L.A. Confidential (1997) dir. by Curtis Hanson

Finding Neverland (2004) dir. by Marc Forster

The Thin Man (1934) dir. by W.S. Van Dyke

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) dir. by Adam McKay

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Cheerful Notes

Cheerful Notes

Our church has had a children's singing group called, "Cheerful Notes." Hannah finally was old enough to join shortly before the group was eliminated. This was probably her first and last time to sing with this group. I have video, for those who are interested. She was either lip-synching or singing very quietly. At least she didn't fall down or lift her dress up!

A few weekends ago, we travelled to north-central Ohio to visit Christy's cousin, Dana and her family. Dana recently had her third child, Vivian Hannah (her first girl is named Ruth -- we joked that if she has any more girls before we do, she might actually have to come up with an original name for her!). While there, we also got to visit Aunt Rosie, who would be Christy's Mom's Mom's Sister (Great-Aunt?). Anyway, we also got to be there for the apple harvest. In the pictures below, you can see the cider press at work. Here are the photo highlights from our trip to Ohio:
(click on any picture for a bigger version)

Tonight, we're headed down to Indianapolis for the final Praise Gathering. If you come, I'll be the one wearing the button reading, "Stick A Fork In It" :-)

Films Recently Watched:

Heat (1995) written and directed by Michael Mann
I'd never seen this, but I really enjoyed it. This is not your typical action movie. This one takes its time (nearly 3 hours worth), allowing for plenty of character development even for relatively minor characters. It delivers in spades on each and every setup throughout. It's a lot of fun to watch.

The Blob (1958) dir. by Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr.
Campy Halloween fun! Christy calls this site my "blob". This "horror" movie starts with this catchy tune over the opening credits that has been stuck in my head ever since.

Yojimbo (1961) dir. by Akira Kurosawa
What a cool movie. Cool characters, cool music, cool story. This was later remade by Sergio Leone in his "A Fistful of Dollars."

Léon (1994) dir. by Luc Besson
I muscled Christy into watching this one with me -- She likes it! -- Hey Mikey!

Dracula (1931) dir. by Tod Browning
A Halloween Feature

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

This year, Hannah was an Indian Mommy for Halloween. Not Pocahontas, not an Indian Princess -- an Indian Mommy.


! !

Why is it that every time I open individually wrapped Starburst candies -- you know, the ones with two candies per package, the kind you get for, say, Halloween -- why is it that every time I open one of these, both candies are freaking LEMON!

Lemon candies should be wiped from the face of the earth!!

I'm done now -- go about your business.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Off To The Races - Double-Double Feature

Films Recently Watched:

Double-Double Feature (Part I):

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes (1965) dir. by Ken Annakin
Up until this one, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was the longest-titled film that I had watched. Well, according to this list, even this one is only the 15th longest film title (Strangelove is 124th), so I guess I've got a long way to go (so to speak).
The list also shows Disney's upcoming The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe weighing in at #164. What's #1, you ask? Another Demonstration of the Cliff-Guibert Fire Horse Reel, Showing a Young Girl Coming from an Office, Detaching Hose, Running with It 60 Feet, and Playing a Stream, All Inside of 30 Seconds, of course.

The Great Race (1965) dir. by Blake Edwards

When Volcano and Dante's Peak came out in 1997 and then Armageddon and Deep Impact came out in 1998, I was convinced that either the film studios were blatantly ripping each other off or they had completely lost the ability to generate an original story idea and more than likely, both. But once again, I learn there's nothing new under the sun. Hollywood couldn't come up with two original ideas in 1965 either, so they apparently decided to make the same film twice! Those Magnificent Men and The Great Race are both films about a race to Paris. Both feature an American hero/lead with the antagonist being a dastardly/sabotaging over-acted fiend with a idiot sidekick who does much of their dirty work. Both have enormous male casts with nearly singular female roles, despite Race's theme of Women's Lib. Both clock in at well over 2 hours (137 and 160 minutes, respectively), including musical intermission breaks. Both use a "scope" aspect ratio. Both use an old-timey introduction/opening credits and both use a healthy amount of vehicle operation "acting" in front of rear-projection screens. Finally, both feature the female leads repeatedly losing their clothing. Other than that, they couldn't be more different!

Double-Double Feature (Part II):

Around the World in Eighty Days (1956) dir. by Michael Anderson. Produced by Michael Todd.
This was the Academy's Best Picture winner for 1956. It's IMDB rating is only 6.8. I began to wonder if '56 was a slow year at the movies, but the other four pictures nominated (and their respective IMDB rating) were: Friendly Persuasion(7.5), Giant(7.5), The King and I(7.5), and The Ten Commandments(7.7). No one has ever said that the Academy is free from politics, and my guess is that the Academy chose to honor Michael Todd for his accomplishment of making this monster of a film instead of honoring the actual "Best Picture." See, Michael Todd is considered by some to be the greatest film producer ever. He produced one film and with it, won the Producers' most coveted award, the Oscar for Best Picture. In many ways, the film tells the story of how the film was made. Both Michael Todd and Phileas Fogg, the main character in the story, are convinced that they can accomplish something that their closest friends believe is impossible. For Phileas Fogg, the task is to travel around the world in 80 days. For Michael Todd, it was to create a successful film adaptation of Jules Verne's famous story. Both had to overcome huge obstacles and constantly improvise in order to accomplish what they set out to do. Another accomplishment of Todd's in this picture was the invention of the "cameo;" the bit part played by a major star (e.g. Buster Keaton, Caesar Romero, Frank Sinatra, Peter Lorre, and Red Skelton, to name a few from this one).

Around the World in 80 Days (2004) dir. by Frank Coraci
Disclaimer: I have not read Jules Verne's novel, Around the World in Eighty Days.
That said, if the 1956 version of this film is true to the source material, then this remake is barely recognizable as coming from the same source. Perhaps they should have changed the names to protect the innocent, because the names are about the only things that are the same here. This is pretty much Around the World in Eighty Days meets Inspector Gadget (not a compliment) meets every silly Jackie Chan movie you've ever seen. For me, the remake removes the heart and soul of the 1956 version. The come-what-may stoicism of Phileas Fogg and his true-to-self attitude in the face of adversity, to me were the heart of the story. These are replaced by hijinx and sulking in the remake. Also, the traveling sequences were among my favorites in the '56 movie. In 2004, these are replaced by 10 second CG bits so that they can move on quickly to the next big choreographed fight sequence. If you're only going to watch one, watch the original from 1956.

Other Films Recently Watched:

High Plains Drifter (1973) dir. by Clint Eastwood

Deliverance (1972) dir. by John Boorman

I [Heart] Huckabees (2004) dir. by David O. Russell

Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (2005) dir. by Tim Burton and Mike Johnson
A simple, sweet story, despite the surface themes of zombies, murder and suicide. I can't help but compare this to Tim Burton's other feature-length claymation work, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Bride's songs are weaker and not as well-used. The story is much simpler, but not as well executed. The characters are fewer, but not as sympathetic. Nightmare is simply better.

I've finally, just recently broken into my birthday present that I got in March even though my birthday wasn't until May. It was a collection of 18 Oscar winners for Best Picture. From it, I've watched five of the DVD's so far: Unforgiven and Around the World in Eighty Days (already mentioned) and the following three titles:

GiGi (1958) dir. by Vincinte Minnelli
Christy enjoyed this one quite a bit.

An American in Paris (1951) dir. by Vincinte Minnelli

Grand Hotel (1932) dir. by Edmund Goulding

The Transporter (2002) dir. by Corey Yuen. Co-produced and Co-written by Luc Besson.
When we were at a movie theater in Indianapolis a couple of months ago, I saw a banner advertising The Transporter 2 with the reference, "From the makers of The Professional." Well, The Professional (aka: Léon) is one of my new favorites, so I figured I'd better watch the original before I considered seeing the sequel. I liked the visual style of the film (the bullet tracers are a really nice effect). It's a simple story that gets complicated, in this case, a little too complicated for its own good, I'm afraid. Similar to other Besson stories: Loner hero doesn't want to get involved, but meets a girl and, of course, gets involved anyway -- saves the day, gets the girl, etc. Completely implausible, but a fun action flick, nonetheless.

Friday, October 14, 2005


This thread over at the Home Theater Forum is discussing an interesting phenomenon regarding some very early DVDs from Universal and Warner Bros. They simply stop working. It probably has something to do with the glue used to seal the data between the layers of plastic that make up the disc. It seems the most common titles this is affecting are Psycho, Vertigo, Apollo 13, Contact, and Ghostbusters. Now, some of these titles have fairly new editions (all except Contact), but it is only the older versions of these DVDs that are affected. Whether or not other DVDs will begin to fail 8-10 years after they are manufactured is something we'll have to wait and see about.

But what was funny (hilarious -- to me, at least) is this exchange between two members as follows:

But first, a few things you need to know:

1.) Alfred Hitchcock made the original Psycho in 1960. Gus Van Sant made a shot-for-shot remake of Hitchcock's classic in 1998. Both are available on DVD.

2.) Alfred Hitchcock made Vertigo in 1958. To my knowledge, no one has ever made a remake.

3.) Psycho is spelled P-S-Y-C-H-O.

Alright? -- here we go:

Martin: Also, are we talking about the original classic "VERTIGO" or the Gus Van Sant remake?


Martin: Ooooops. Sorry "PSHYCO"


Martin: Sorry. "PYSHCO"

Ah, emoticons. Some love them -- others hate them, but when used correctly, they can make me laugh out loud.

Click here to see the actual discussion. The above exchange happens on page 2.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

And the winner is.....

...Sony's Blu-ray next generation DVD format? Quite possibly.

I reported earlier here that the two developers of what would likely become the next generation home video format, Sony/Blu-ray and Toshiba/HD-DVD, were in talks about unifying the format for the benefit of everyone involved. Well, if you're paying attention at all, you already know that mega-sized companies have mega-sized egos and that my post about it was appropriately named, "I'll believe it when I see it." Needless to say...

Anyway, it appears that this will be left to work itself out in the marketplace. The funny thing is, it appears that the race may be over before it even began.

Several film studios that had, at one point, sworn allegience solely to HD-DVD have now backed both HD-DVD and Blu-ray. That puts just about every major film studio lining up with Blu-ray, but leaves HD-DVD some big holes in their line-up; namely Fox, MGM and Disney.

Add to that the fact that the Sony PlayStation 3 is likely to come out well before XBox 360 (which may or may not have any ability to play a next-generation DVD format at all) and that tilts the scales in favor of Sony's Blu-ray format.

After the BetaMax vs. VHS fiasco, it looks as though Sony may finally win a format war. Ever the cynic though, I'm still hedging my bets.

More reading about the subject:
Home Media Retailing
Several at Business Week

Films Recently Watched:

Spanglish (2004) dir. by James L. Brooks
I was surprised by this. Better than expected. Spanglish tells the story of a mother and daughter who immigrate from Mexico to the United States. The mother gets a job as a maid to the Clasky's, a rich white family in California. Worlds collide, but it's a sweet story. Fine performances, especially by newcomer, Sarah Steele in the role of the Clasky's daughter, Bernice. Adam Sandler restrains himself in his role and is believable as the sympathetic father. Surprisingly, it's Téa Leoni, if anybody, who goes a little over the top as the insecure, narcissistic mother.

Unforgiven (1992) dir. by Clint Eastwood

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Better Late Than Never

We had a few busy weekends back around and before Labor Day, but I hadn't gotten around to getting anything up here so let me, there is too much. Let me sum up:

Me Goofy!We got together with some college friends. This time the occasion was a friend who is a missionary in New Zealand who got married in January. Randy and Jen Cox hosted the shindig. It was great to catch up with Chad and to meet his bride, Diane. Once we got all the kids to sleep, we got to chatting and time got away from us. Well, suffice it to say that Randy always cracks me up, but at nearly 1:00 in the morning, he is especially hilarious to me. I got a little goofy. Anyway, thanks to Randy and Jen for hosting and to Chad & Diane for making the time to spend with us.
Randy & JenChad & Diane
The next weekend, after stopping at the hospital Friday night to see our friends' newest addition to their family, we were off to my sister's in Illinois. We had a good weekend with their family. We took our old rollerblades, which have only been collecting dust since Christy took a spill on our second outing with them several years ago. One of our nephews had expressed an interest in rollerblades and it just so happened that his feet are just about exactly the same size as Christy's! He picked it up really quickly and we were happy that the skates will get some use instead of sitting in our garage. Here are the photo highlights from our trip to my Sister's.

Finally, over the Labor Day weekend, we made our way North to Christy's parents in Michigan. We left right after work on Wednesday and got in at 11:30pm our time, 12:30am their time. We were lucky to get to see Christy's Aunt Linda when we got in, but didn't have a chance to visit much as she left early in the morning before we were up and around. Thursday, we went to a playground near Lake Cadillac. Grandpa and Hannah ended up wading in the lake a little bit. Friday, we went to a nearby petting zoo, Johnny's Wild Game and Fish Park. There were vending machines that dispensed corn to feed the roaming animals. I swear, the animals knew how they worked better than we did. If we got anywhere near one, we were surrounded by sheep and goats. Some would even maneuver to get their mouths aligned with the dispenser so as to catch it directly in their mouth instead of having to eat it from human hands or off the ground. I think if we'd left them a stack of quarters, they probably could have figured out how to work those machines! Later Friday, Christy's brother Paul (who now has a blog of his own thanks, in part, to your friendly neighborhood blog evangelist) got some time off of work and we went to a beach in Manistee near the Manistee North Pierhead Lighthouse and did some swimming in Lake Michigan which, on that particular day, had some waves bigger than some than I've seen in the oceans. Later, we went to a family favorite, The House of Flavors, which, so I'm told, does, in actual act, serve food besides Ice Cream. Saturday, we headed north and went to the Sleeping Bear Dune Climb, and briefly went swimming nearby before going to Traverse City for dinner. Sunday, we went to Church with Christy's parents and then back to Manistee, this time to a different beach, but back to The House of Flavors, of course.

Here are the photo highlights from our trip to Michigan (as you can see, I also learned how to use my panorama photo stitch mode on my camera/software):

Films Recently Watched:

Deathtrap (1982) dir. by Sidney Lumet

The Color Purple (1985) dir. by Steven Spielberg

Rope (1948) dir. by Alfred Hitchcock

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) dir. by Quentin Tarantino

Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) dir. by Quentin Tarantino

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) dir. by Steven Spielberg

Dirty Harry (1971) dir. by Don Siegel

Good Will Hunting (1997) dir. by Gus Van Sant

Rebecca (1940) dir. by Alfred Hitchcock

Cinderella (1950) dir. by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske. Produced by Walt Disney.