Friday, May 27, 2005


My friend, Brian, posted a blog entry yesterday that I found to be hilarious. For those of you who don't know, he and I were childhood friends, separated by his family moving away (Preacher's Kid), reunited when we chose to attend the same university, separated again by his choosing to complete his schooling at another college (after trying each and every field of study that AU had to offer) and recently reunited again (kind of) through this medium, the blog.

Click his name (above) and read his entry "who would have seen this one coming?"

For the easily offended, be sure to follow his simple instructions.

Films Recently Watched:

North by Northwest (1959) dir. by Alfred Hitchcock
It was a pleasure to revisit this classic. I think I'd only seen it once before and that, several years ago. I had forgotten many of the plot intricacies, so in many ways it was like watching it again, for the first time. Cary Grant is perfectly cast in this film. Much of the humor is discovered in his deliveries and expressions. I don't think that enough can be said about Bernard Herrmann's music score on this film. The many moods in this film from hilarious humor to shocking suspense are magnificently enhanced by his work. The two set-pieces in the cornfield and on the face (or, in this case, the faces) of Mount Rushmore are film-making at its best.

The 39 Steps (1935) dir. by Alfred Hitchcock
Another "wrong man" yarn from Hitchcock. This time, Robert Donat and Madeline Carroll deliver the wit and intrigue. This film was ahead of it's time. The British censors were all over it, so it lacks some of the overt sexuality found in North by Northwest, but the tension is there, nonetheless, or perhaps, all the more.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) dir. by Kerry Conran
Some fun moments, but mostly just bunches of eye-candy (not that there's anything wrong with that). The world that the Conran brothers created is neat to look at, but the performances are too unconvincing to pull the whole thing together. The entire environment for this film was created in a computer. With the exception of objects with which they come into physical contact, actors Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, etc. are acting to nothing but one another in front of a blue screen. That might explain some of the wooden performances. The CG technology is making leaps and bounds, but as far as the ability to create a great story with convincing performances using completely CG environments, Hollywood just isn't there -- yet.

Hotel Rwanda (2004) dir. by Terry George

Star Wars:  Clone WarsStar Wars: Clone Wars (2003) (TV) dir. by Genndy Tartakovsky
Again, not a film, but it plays one on TV. Clone Wars is a series of animated shorts that chronicles the events that happen between Episodes 2 & 3. These events consist mainly of Clone War action, including: individual Jedi leading armies into battle, more of the Obi-Wan/Anakin friendship and developing tension, and some additional Palpatine manipulation. It also introduces the character of General Grevious that we see in Revenge of the Sith and I expect that Volume II (only Volume I is currently available on DVD) explains why Anakin sports a nifty little scar on his right eye throughout Sith.

Originally aired on Cartoon Network, Volume I consists of twenty, 3-minute segments and is currently available on DVD. Volume II (which I have yet to see) consists of five, 12-minute segments and is expected out on DVD sometime in August, 2005. I believe that all chapters are available for viewing on the web, though.

Monday, May 23, 2005

What Hannah Said...

I've been sitting on this for a while. Don't know why. Some of these are several months old.

"God is in my heart . . . I better get Him out!"


"I not Ice, Ice Baby"

[to her cousin, Anderson]: "Listen to me; I am a girl!"

[to Me] "You are a bad word!"

WOW! An entire post with no mention of Star Wa. . . . nevermind.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Revenge Of The Sith

Films Very Recently Watched:

Star Wars: Epidode III -- Revenge of the Sith (2005) dir. by George Lucas

Here are a few initial thoughts in the form of a modest review. I may add to this post as other thoughts occur to me or possibly if I get the chance to see the movie again.

With Revenge of the Sith, Creator/Writer/Director, George Lucas brings to a conclusion the Star Wars prequels and, in doing so, brings an end to the Star Wars saga. Lucas has managed to do all of this in fine fashion.

Sith finally tells the story of Anakin Skywalker’s turn from good to evil and the creation of the Galactic Empire against which the now famous characters Luke, Leia, Lando, etc. rebel in Episodes 4, 5, & 6. It is the film that we all wanted 1 & 2 to be. Few really wanted to see Anakin as a ten-year-old kid who exclaimed, “Yippee” far more than is becoming of any future Dark Lord of the universe. Few really wanted to see twenty-something Anakin whining about his teacher’s methods to his new girlfriend, Padmé. But, alas, Lucas decided to make a trilogy of the back story films to mirror the original trilogy, so that’s what we got. Far be it for me to complain about the number of Star Wars films, though, as I have enjoyed every minute. Ultimately, perhaps the best way to say it is that Episodes 1 & 2 are there mainly to set an extravagant stage on which Episode 3 can revel. Regardless, Sith is easily the best of the preqels and it was worth the wait.

Ewan McGregor
delivers the best performance by far in this film, in my opinion. Even more so than in the previous two prequels, Ewan is Obi-Wan Kenobi. Any faults here would have to fall on the writing and not the delivered performance. McGregor supplies believability to a range of emotions including humor like a veteran. Well done, Sir Ewan.

We got to see a glimpse of the intensity of which Hayden Christensen is capable in Attack of the Clones. In Sith, Christensen is given the opportunity time after time to display that intensity. For a director whose primary guidance to his actors is the now infamous, “Faster – More Intense,” Hayden must have been an absolute dream to work with as far as Lucas was concerned.

Surprisingly, CG Yoda gives one of the most human performances in the film. From full motion shots to extreme close-ups, Yoda looks amazing on screen and I’ve got to give props to the animators at ILM who created his performance for this film. Frank Oz again provides the voice of Yoda. He does it unlike anybody else, but Yoda does a fair amount of speaking in this film and his uncanny speech style begins to stick out after a while. “Talk like this, I must. Began it did in Empire. No other way is there.” Other than that, fantastic.

I was expecting to be amazed by the performance of Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine. As it ended up, I was only amazed by the fact that I wasn’t amazed at all. I found much of his performance was over-the-top, to say the least.

This could be another case where the faults lie with the writing and/or directing, but I believe that there are deeper issues with Natalie Portman’s performance as Padmé in Sith. Overall, Portman just seemed very one-dimensional here. Seems with all she’s going through, there would be a much wider range of emotions, especially when you consider the fact that she’s pregnant through the entire film! Whether it’s the writing/directing or the performance, itself, there is much more that could have been done with Padmé that would have benefited the film.

In my opinion, there are probably only two or three scenes that put the rating of this film past the PG rating that all the other films in the saga have received. As an adult, I am glad that Lucas chose to show these scenes exactly the way he wanted to, but I must admit that had he toned these scenes down a notch or two, or possibly removed them entirely, relying on implied rather than overt violence and gore, the film as a whole would not have suffered.
Parents of young children, go see this one yourselves before allowing your kids to go. The 13 year mark denoted in the PG-13 rating is probably about the right dividing line for this film, though every child is different, of course. You know you want to see it more than once anyway, so this can be your excuse! See it yourself and use your best judgment for each of your children.

For the record, tears were not shed from these eyes during my first viewing of this film. To Lucas’ credit, though, there were a couple of times when I got caught up in the emotion of the story and had to consciously battle against welling up.

For what will probably be the last Star Wars film ever, I felt that I owed it to myself to keep tradition and attend the Midnight showing. As I explained previously, this is not just ‘going to the movies,’ the Midnight show is an event, and I am glad that I went.

Finally, in order of release, here are my rankings of each of the films that make up the Star Wars saga:

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope 9/10
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back 10/10
Star Wars: Episode VI – The Return of the Jedi 8/10
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace 8/10
Star Wars: Episode II – The Attack of the Clones 7/10
Star Wars: Episode III – The Revenge of the Sith 8/10

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Tonight! Tonight! It's coming Tonight! Tonight! Tonight! Tonight! Hot Damn, Tonight!

Hannah's First Movie

Sorry this has taken so long to get posted. I have a few pictures that I would have liked to add to this post, but I'm having trouble getting pics off my camera right now. The computer's on it last legs, I'm afraid. I was hoping to find a way to get the pics on here, but I've given up for now.

Last weekend -- like, not this past weekend, but the weekend before that, Christy's parents paid us a visit. They were returning from a cross-country driving trip and stopped here before returning home to Michigan. They had driven out to California for a family wedding and to visit Christy's brother, Andrew and his family. It sounds like they had a good trip. They were able to take things at their own pace. They only travelled during daylight hours so that they could see the country. When they got tired, they slept; when they got hungy . . . they ate. Just like Forrest Gump!

Friday night, we all went to The Cinema Grill in Indianapolis and saw Because Of Winn-Dixie. This was Hannah's first theatrical movie experience. I was a little nervous about taking a three-year-old to a movie, but she did really well. She just ate her food and watched the show. She talked very little, but seemed to understand that when she did, that she needed to whisper. She had to go "potty" once, but that's to be expected I guess. Overall, a very good "first movie" experience, though, she'll forever be confused when she goes to normal cinemas wondering why there are no tables and why nobody's coming to ask her what she would like to eat!

On the way home, we stopped at a Cold Stone Creamery. I highly recommend their Breathless Bostom Cream Pie. I have them make it with their Cake Batter Ice Cream, though. Yummy!

We had big plans Saturday to go to the Indianapolis Zoo for the morning. Luckily, Christy's Dad heard about the Mini-Marathon happening in Indianapolis Saturday Morning. A quick call to the Zoo confirmed that the only access road to the Zoo would be closed until the afternoon. Blast!

After Christy's parents left to make their final stop in Ohio before returning home, we went to my Parents' house for Mother's Day, a day early. Hannah helped Grandpa plant his garden.

Turned out nice that we didn't have to travel on Mother's day. We were able to relax a little bit.

Films Recently Watched:

Priming for Episode III on Wednesday night/Thursday morning:
Star Wars: Episode II - The Attack of the Clones (2002) dir. by George Lucas
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) dir. by George Lucas

Ice Age (2002) dir. by Chris Wedge & Carlos Saldanha

Catching up on my, 'Dennis Quaid saves the day against all odds' films (if only I could have found The Alamo, it could have been a triple-feature -- oh well):
The Flight of the Phoenix (2004) dir. by John Moore
The Day After Tomorrow (2004) dir. by Roland Emmerich

The Third Man (1949) dir. by Carol Reed

Jerry Seinfeld: I'm Telling You for the Last Time (1998) (TV) dir. by Marty Callner
OK, so it's not a film. Very funny, though. I was laughing uncontrollably through a couple of bits. It's been a long time since I've laughed so hard.

That Funny Feeling (1965) dir. by Richard Thorpe
After seeing the Bobby Darin biopic, Beyond The Sea and also after seeing his character featured on an episode of American Dreams (we did finish Season One of this excellent television series, by the way), we were kind of interested in seeing a movie that starred the real life Bobby Darin, so I picked up this DVD from the library. Starring both Bobby Darin and his real life wife, Sandra Dee,

Apart from a desire to see Bobby Darin and/or Sandra Dee on screen together, do yourself a favor and watch Billy Wilder's similar, but far superior, The Apartment, instead.

Because Of Winn-Dixie (2005) dir. by Wayne Wang
Cute, but mostly uninspired.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) dir. by Stanley Kubrick

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) (Extended) - dir. by Peter Jackson
Again, found the extended edition at the library. In my opinion, this is the weakest of the three films. This time, the extended edition does little to improve on the theatrical release. My favorite added scene, though, is Faramir's flashback to Boromir's re-taking of Osgiliath and the interaction between Boromir, Faramir and Denethor there. The content of that scene influences events in both the first and third films in this trilogy.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

We Want Frostys...

Free Frosty Weekend -- May 13-15

Wendy's is giving away free Junior Frostys this weekend as a "thank you" to customers who stuck with them during their recent bad publicity.

"Our customers stood by us while we defended our good name and protected our employees' livelihoods, so now we're showing our appreciation with free Frostys," Tom Mueller, Wendy's chief executive, said in a press release. "We're moving on."

For you skeptics out there, I was cautious about this too, as it came to me in the form of a forwarded e-mail. I was like, "Yeah, and Microsoft will send me a check if I forward this e-mail to ten of my closest friends and some dude in Nigeria wants to give me money for helping him move his fortune into an American bank."

This appears to be legit, though. The CNN link above confirms the e-mail and it's even on Wendy's Homepage.

The only "catch" I can find is that Junior Frosty's are about as big as a Dixie cup, but hey, if you can tolerate Wendy's ridiculously deep spoons and potentially long lines, free Frostys is free Frostys!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

From The 'I'll Believe It When I See It' Department...

Sony, Toshiba to agree on new DVD format

Sony's proposed Hi-Def formatUntil recently, it seemed nearly inevitable that the next video format would face a format war similar to that between Betamax & VHS and that consumers (especially early-adopters) would be the ones to suffer.

Toshiba's proposed Hi-Def formatEverybody knows that it is in the best interest of all parties involved (with the possible exception of the winning format) for there to be one unified format.

Personally, I would rather see the release of the next format delayed by a year or more if the alternative is two competing formats.

Here are a few pertinent links for those interested in more information:

One Format Only! Official Site ------------------------>

Current News (regular updates from

DVD Demystified (lots of information about current and forthcoming DVD formats)

Being discussed at the Home Theater Forum HERE.

The up-side:
Both formats (and one would assume any unified format) have significantly increased data capacity (3x, at least, over the current DVD standard):
HD-DVD: 15Gb/30Gb (single/dual layer)
Blu-ray: 27Gb/50Gb (single/dual layer)
[vs. Current Standard DVD: 4.37/8.5Gb (single/dual layer)]

DTS mandatory on both formats:
Only Dolby Digital is mandatory on the current DVD. DTS is currently only an option for Film and DVD makers even though many consumers of DVD prefer DTS over Dolby sound mixes.

Both are backwards compatible with current DVDs. This means that your current DVD player will not be able to play new Hi-def DVDs regardless of format BUT your new hi-def DVD player will be able to play your older standard DVDs (and CDs, for that matter).

The Bottom line:
For now, I'm remaining skeptical about these reports of a unified format. Just today, Toshiba (the main supporter of the HD-DVD format) has been busy denying any deal with Sony's Blu-ray people.

Bill Hunt from The Digital Bits believes that "this public posturing by Toshiba is an effort to give the company a boost in its format unification talks with Sony." Let's hope he's right!

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now.

-Chester Powers -- "Get Together"