Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Fat Lady Skank

It's time for the monthly feature Books and Movies Read & Watched during the past month. I decided that it would probably be helpful if I actually rated said movies and books, so watch for the smiley faces, which didn't work out, so I guess I'll go with boring old asterisks.

5 = Loved it.
4 = Enjoyed it.
3 = It was more than okay.
2 = It didn't suck completely.
1 = I hated it more than words can express.


Secret Window with Johnny Depp (N) **

M (1931)(B) **** with Peter Lorre

Alexander Nevsky (1939)(K) ***** I first became acquainted with Alexander Nevsky when I lived in SF and one of my SF Symphony Orchestra concerts included the Prokofiev score from the movie. It blew me away and I immediately bought it on CD. I now own a number of different CDs of Alexander Nevsky. I bought the Eisenstein box set "The Sound Years" five years ago as I wanted to see the movie and I knew there was no way in hell I could get it from Blockbuster and this was before I had joined Netflix (if they were even around in 2001).

Part of the special features on my Alexander Nevsky DVD was a reconstruction of a film called Bezhin Meadow which was banned and destroyed by Stalin in 1937. Alexander Nevsky had been Eisenstein's way of appeasing Stalin for Bezhin Meadow. Thankfully Eisenstein had managed to save the first and last print of each scene, so along with those and photographs of the filming process taken by an American who had met Eisenstein when he had been in the States, they were able to give an idea of what Eisenstein had in mind. I would have liked to have seen it finished.

Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (2005)(K). ***** Yes, I watched it back in February, but I loved it and wanted to watch it again, so when I had no Netflix movies at home, I put it in.

The Constant Gardener (2005)(N) *** with Ralph Fiennes.

Brazil (N) *** Talk about weird, good but weird.

Rollins in NYC (2005) ***** A friend lent me a DVD of the current Rollins tour and I have to say that I think I might be able to forgive him for the faux pas of appearing at Indy a few years back. I figure he just didn't know any better.

The Birds (1963)(R) *** Hitchcock, of course. The funny thing about The Birds is that it's probably my least favorite of the Master's films, but all of the critics at rottentomatoes.com loved it. It had a 100% approval rating. I think that he crossed the genre line from suspense to horror with this one. Don’t get me wrong, it didn't suck, I just didn't love it, although I totally appreciate it and all his cool little director tricks.

Crash (2005)(K) *****

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)(N) ****

Hitch (2005)(D) *****

Beat The Devil (1954)(K) **** with Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre

In addition to the aforementioned movies, I also started watching the TV series, Babylon 5. I watched the pilot movie called The Gathering, Season 1 and Season 2 (discs 1 & 2). A certain person (the one who insisted I give Babylon 5 a chance even though I'm not a sci-fi person) wants a review of Babylon 5. I'm not quite sure what to say except that I'm completely sucked in. I even really liked Season 1, even though it is supposedly the weakest season, according to seasoned Babylon 5 watchers. I was very disappointed when the captain from the first season didn't return in season two, but Bruce Boxleitner is growing on me as the replacement. And they dealt with the first guy leaving in a pretty cool way, at least I thought they came up with a good explanation.

My one issue with season two (and this will make sense only to people who have watched the show) is the transformation of Delenn, the Minbari ambassador. I liked her better w/o hair. I'm hoping that she transforms back into pure Minbari when whatever prophecy about which she talks near constantly has occurred. I'm highly disappointed in Londo's behavior in season 2. They set him up in Season 1 as a lovable kind of loser, but he's acting kind of evilly in Season 2. This is the reverse of G'Kar's treatment where in Season 1 I viewed him as a hotheaded jackass, but Season 2 is showing the softer, more vulnerable side of G'Kar. Yes, I know people are two dimensional and that we all have good and bad sides, so it's an accurate depiction of people, but I don't like it when people turn out evil after you start liking them. And could Mr. Morden be more creepy?

I watched three episodes last night and could have watched more but the Wings were playing, so I turned on the game. I should have stuck with Babylon 5 and just gone to bed at a decent hour. What a complete debacle of a game that was. I disagree completely with the call on Edmonton's 3rd goal. I would say it was darn hard for that Oiler player to score that goal without kicking it in as his stick was on top of the net. But whatever. The Wings are out and I'm rooting for the Sharks. I was so furious with the game that I didn't even go to bed right away. I watched Match Game and then the last half of How Do I Look? but it was not enough to calm me down. I got about 3 hours of sleep last night. And the thing is that I would normally root for Edmonton, but the absolute hideous behavior of the fans (chants of Detroit Sucks are rude, tacky, classless and unnecessary) has made me want to see the team lose just so their fans have nothing to celebrate beyond knocking us out. I actually like the team. There is nobody whom I hate on the team, it's just their fans who suck. So, go Sharks! And I wouldn’t mind seeing Anaheim taking out Calgary out either. Two California teams continuing on in the hockey playoffs would really piss off the Canadians and right now I'm not feeling particularly fondly toward any of them. I am rooting for Ottawa still to come out of the Eastern Conference as I've been a fan of the Sens for many years. And if the Stanley Cup Finals end up as a match-up of Ottawa vs. San Jose, I can be happy with either team winning. I hate it when the Finals are between two teams I despise. To that end, then:

Go Sharks!

Go Sens!

Oops, I almost forgot to tell you all about the books I read in April!


"From the Storehouse of Creation: Thoughts on a Lost Masterwork" by Elena Pinto Simon, 1989.
"We Can" by Sergei Eisenstein (1st published as "Mozhem" in Za Bolshevistky Film, No. 39/40, Sept. 9, 1935.
Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte I loved this book, but I've generally loved all of his books. The only one that did not roll off the pages for me was Queen of the South which was still ultimately a good book. It was just a bit more involved reading-wise. If you have not yet read any of his books, I highly recommend them. I have read them in order, starting with The Flanders Panel which is not a bad place to start, I have to say. I think my favorite, though, is The Club Dumas which was made into a less than stellar movie called The Ninth Gate with Johnny Depp. Trust me, read the book, it's infinitely better! In my opinion, you will do yourself a favor no matter which of his books you pick up.

After Captain Alatriste, I decided to read the Lemony Snicket A Series of Unfortunate Events books.

#4 – The Miserable Mill
#5 – The Austere Academy
#6 – The Ersatz Elevator
#7 – The Vile Village
#8 – The Hostile Hospital
#9 – The Carnivorous Carnival
#10 – The Slippery Slope
#11 – The Grim Grotto
#12 – The Penultimate Peril

I had read the first three sometime last year and although I hated the first one, I got used to the style and the awful things that kept happening to the kids and came to appreciate the humor behind the books. I do recommend them.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman. A good friend got me into Neil Gaiman years ago with his Sandman series. A number of my friends were reading the books and I was determined not to get sucked in. I have this tendency to be a little contrary and not do something just because everybody else is. I somehow agreed to read one of the books and that was it, I ended up borrowing all of them from the friend and now want my own collection, so that I can re-read them. At some point I also started picking up his books and really liking them, including Coraline which is a young adult's book. As you can see I had a Young Adult Book Month which is not a bad thing, I don't think.

So, there ya go, there's my April in movie and book form!


At Tuesday, 02 May, 2006, Blogger Scott said...

I loved the movie Crash. I think it is one of the better movies in the last couple years.

Funny, I just posted about the Anansi Boys, a very funny book by Gaiman. I think I will read all of his stuff now, because he is simply brilliant.

At Tuesday, 02 May, 2006, Blogger MW said...

Kathleen, you don't need to refer to me anonymously with regard to B5. I'm not shy that shy. ;-)

At Tuesday, 02 May, 2006, Blogger Dave said...

Umm...did I miss the reason for the title of this post?

At Tuesday, 02 May, 2006, Blogger mr. schprock said...

Both you and Scott are going to make me try this Gaiman fellow. Thanks for that (I hope).

Reading your post, I was suprised to learn that hockey is still being played. Will this persist for much longer?

Want to hear something funny about The Constant Gardener? Because of that shaky-camera, quick-take thing they were doing, I actually had to leave the theatre for a couple of minutes and get a drink of water due to motion sickness! When I reentered the theatre, I had to stand in the back and breathe deeply every so often. I liked the movie and I love Le Carre, but boy! that movie got me sick as a dog!

At Wednesday, 03 May, 2006, Blogger Jason said...

"Brazil" is good but weird. It's one of my faves. The Criterion edition is pretty dang cool. I pretty much like anything directed by Terry Gilliam.

At Wednesday, 03 May, 2006, Blogger MJW said...

Thank you, Mr. Schprock, for warning me ahead of time not to bother with "The Constant Gardener." It's nice to find someone else who has the same regard for the wobbly-camera method of filmmaking as I do.

At Wednesday, 03 May, 2006, Blogger Kathleen said...

Scott - I highly recommend Neil Gaiman. I loved Stardust, but that could be the girl in me. ;-)

MW - You're not that shy?? ;-)

Dave - ;-)

Mr. Schprock - I love Good Morning, Vietnam simply because it made the ex- very sick. If I still spoke to him, I'd highly recommend The Constant Gardener to him! *ha ha ha*

Jason - I knew that about you.

MW - You're so picky.

At Thursday, 04 May, 2006, Blogger Heather said...

A couple months ago I read American Gods by Neil Gaiman and loved it! He's an amazing writer. Collin's reading it now...


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