Tuesday, January 15, 2008

December Movies (finally) and other stuff

I'm heading to bed shortly as 4:30 comes pretty quickly, but felt the need to post. Not that I have a thing to say, but what the heck.

Does anybody watch The Graham Norton Show on BBC America? It's on Saturdays at 10:00 p.m. (I think - I DVR it) and it is so bloody funny. I laugh out loud all the time. I love that he has his guests come out right at the beginning and he talks to them together. One show last season he had on Marilyn Manson and Nigella Lawson, the cooking show woman. Stinking hilarious. If you have BBC America and you're not watching, you're not doing yourself any favors. They do stuff on British telly that is just insane. And they get to swear, but of course, it gets beeped out here. Our family values will explode if they're allowed to say the c-word for a male anatomical part on TV, I guess.

Even though Christmas is officially over I still have tons of knitting to do. I have gotten into slightly more complicated knitting, as I found myself actually a little bored with my usual scarves. I've finished two scarves of late that includes slipping stitches and passing the slipped stitch over, and yarnovers and knitting stitches together. It's quite exciting. I've even started, for myself, a 20-row lace pattern. This means that rows 1-20 are different from each other and when you reach row 21, you start over again with row 1. Not really the mindless knitting I've always preferred. It's quite scary. I might even tackle cables sometime this year. *shudder*

I did my civic duty today and voted in Michigan's "primary." It's in quotes, because I've heard that because the Michigan legislature voted to move our primary up from its usual Super Tuesday date, in order to get a little bit more attention from the candidates, the Democratic Party has taken our delegates away from us. And the Republicans only get half the usual number of delegates. So, that worked really well. The only Democrat who came to the state was Dennis Kucinich, while the Republicans (minus Giuliani, of course, who is planning on winning the Republican candidacy on only Florida) were criss-crossing the state all weekend. It was making me sick listening to Mitt Romney talking about how he's a native son, blah blah blah. He hasn't lived here since he was 18 when he left to go to Harvard (or some other Ivy League college), and that's a good three + decades.

I watched a ton of movies in December, but I don't feel like linking, so if you're interested, you can google, IMDB or rottentomatoes them yourselves.

Evil Under the Sun - old Agatha Christie with Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot. Always a good time.

Howl's Moving Castle - This was up against The Corpse Bride and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit for best animated Oscar a few years ago. I liked it a whole lot more than I thought I would. I will, however, stand by my assessment that The Corpse Bride deserved that Oscar - and I love Wallace & Gromit.

The Other Side of the Street - This was billed as a Brasilian Rear Window which it kind of was with an unexpected twist at the end. It's not better than Rear Window, but I mostly liked it.

Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same - I have NO clue what I was thinking when I netflixed this because I *hate* Led Zeppelin. I watched the entire thing, though, so give me credit for trying to broaden my horizons. The little vignettes that supposedly showed the mindset of the individual members of the band were just plain strange. The only one I liked was the one of the drummer (John Bonham, I think) because it included all sorts of cool cars, including him drag racing. SWEET.

The Squid & The Whale - I try to watch most films nominated for an Academy Award, even if I don't get to them for a few years. That's why I watched this one. I fucking hated this movie. I hated Jeff Daniels (I think it was Jeff Daniels) beyond words. I didn't hate Laura Linney quite as much, but it would have been hard to reach the level of malevolence I felt for Jeff's character. Do not waste your time with this one unless you want to stab people when it's over.

American Hardcore - Very cool documentary on the hardcore music scene in the States. I loved it.

Friends With Money - A movie that looks like it's a comedy, but isn't really. Jennifer Aniston plays the poor friend of three couples who all have way more money that most of us. I think this is the first movie I've seen with Joan Cusack where she played somebody not completely likable. It was "meh."

That Touch of Mink - Cary Grant, Doris Day...love it!

None But The Lonely Heart - I had to look this one up. 1944 Cary Grant movie where he plays a drifter, essentially, who comes home for a while with every intention of leaving quickly until the neighborhood doctor informs him his mother is dying. He gets mixed up with the wrong people, and it goes on from there. It's Cary Grant, which means I recomend it, of course.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - I watch this every year with a group of friends from when I worked at the University. I had never seen it before 2000 or 2001, but I can say appreciated it more this year than any of the previous years.

The Bicycle Thief - I had heard about this classic post-war Italian movie for years, and I finally saw it. The YS (younger sister) had seen it in college in a film appreciation class and she didn't appreciate it at all. I did, however.

The Polar Express - Wow, I really didn't appreciate this Christmas movie at all. About halfway through I was absolutely hating it, but came to not hate it by the end. I don't think I'll be making this a Christmas tradition, but it didn't suck completely.

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeousie - I did not "get" this movie. But it was directed by Luis Bunuel, so what did I expect. It had Fernando Rey whom I love, so that helped get me through it. A little strange, especially when the two couples and Fernando Rey would be walking down the middle of a country road...it was interspersed throughout the movie and the meaning went right over my head. If someone could explain, I'd be oh so grateful.

My Left Foot - Yeah, yeah, I know, the whole world saw this back in the 80s, but I didn't. I can now say, "Yes, Daniel Day-Lewis definitely deserved the Oscar for this movie." After reading Angela's Ashes back when it first came out, I have avoided most movies and books that have anything to do with the bleak Irish life, but this one was worth watching, as it wasn't completely bleak.

Wilde - Movie with Jude Law about Oscar Wilde. It depicted Oscar as quite a congenial fellow. It was OK, not stellar, but not hideously hateful. Sad, of course.

To Have & To Have Not - Bogey & Bacall's first movie together. LOVE IT!

Casino Royale - This was not the Daniel Craig/James Bond movie of last year (or the previous), this was a Peter Sellers/David Niven spoof movie. I wrote in my notebook - complete ridiculousness, as you'd expect from Peter Sellers, no? Orson Welles is in it and I read somewhere that he and Peter Sellers hated each other and one or the other of them wouldn't show up for their scenes together. That had to be fun.

White Christmas - Mom and YS had never seen White Christmas, so the Sunday before Christmas we went to Grandma's to watch it with her. I love Danny Kaye. If you have never seen this movie, you must see it. At the end, I teared up, as always, but tried to be surreptitious about it, until I saw the YS going for the tissue and then passing it to Mom. All three of us were crying - Grandma's not that sentimental, cute as she is.

Aguirre: The Wrath of God - I've finally gotten to the Werner Herzog movies in my Netflix queue. The man is in a class by himself. And it's not altogether good. The movie is good, but he has some interesting ways. Klaus Kinski plays Aguirre, a Spanish explorer, conquistador in Peru who is a little crazy and mounts a mutiny against the leader of the expedition. It's a little weird to hear "Spanish" conquistadors speaking German, but it doesn't really detract from the movie. As is normal with Herzog's films, this isn't exactly uplifting.

The Blob - Steve McQueen's first movie - I liked it better than I thought I would and saw where Slither (the Nathan Fillion movie I watched back in November) got most of its ideas.

Besides these movies, I went to three live performances. The first was my friend Dan's daughter in a Salute to 21st Century Broadway. She was fabulous. Next up was The Brian Setzer Orchestra's Christmas Extravaganza. I've seen them twice before and loved those shows. This one I didn't think was as good. I hate and despise long-ass guitar soloes and drum soloes...and they were definitely more prevalent this time area. I hope he doesn't do that next year. And finally, Stuart McLean of CBC Radio brought The Vinyl Cafe Christmas Concert to Windsor. It was fabulous fun, as always, and we even got TWO Dave & Morley stories. If you have never heard Stuart, go to CBC Radio. If you live in a border state, find it on your radio. If you don't, you can go on-line and I understand there are podcasts now, so you don't have to try to catch it at 10:00 a.m. ET on Saturday mornings on-line.

Whew, only halfway through January I finally listed my December movies. I'm such a slacker.

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At Tuesday, 15 January, 2008, Blogger fermicat said...

LOVE Graham Norton! I started catching it because it was on right after Torchwood and I can be lazy about changing the channel if the next show doesn't suck. Glad to have found it. Hilarious. He is a scream.

The Ref is my current favorite movie set at Christmas time. So funny.

At Tuesday, 15 January, 2008, Blogger Jorge said...

First I have to tell you here's everything I know about knitting. The word knitting means "to knit" and yarn and sticks are somehow combined. Now for the questions. Isn't there a knitting store on Ford between Telegraph and Outer Drive? And do you only make scarves? How come? Why does no one seem to knit sweaters anymore?

I totally skipped the primary today since our legislature taunted the major parties into making it irrelevant. I did hear some really inflammatory and ridiculous political add against making Michigan a "right to work" state. Was there a ballot issue I didn't hear about?

And now on to the movies. There's no way you'd get me to sit through most of those movies without the aid of chloroform and duct tape. However I have some observations.

First, I agree. Led Zepplin is unbelievably over rated. I can't stand it. Maybe it's because I've never said yes to drugs, but I change the station whenever I hear them come on. It's just grating noise. I'll stick with Aerosmith, George Strait, Kid Rock, and the Rat Pack thank you very much.

Next, Christmas Vacation and White Christmas. Both are all time classics and if one of those films were suddenly to dissapear forever we'd have to give some serious thought to canceling Christmas. My question is, can you watch the latter without referencing the former?

I was surfing through the channels and came across White Christmas and there were Bingo and Danny doing a song and dance routine. I turned to my wife and said "Look! It's Bing Crosby tap dancing with Danny F*$&@%ing Kaye!" One of my favorite lines ever.

And Polar Express? Yeah, kind of dull.

For Fermi- The Ref is most excellent. "Your husband ain't dead lady, he's hidin'!" That always kills me.

As far as live shows go, I've only been to one around Christmas and that was the Kenny Rogers show back in 1994. Seriously, it's a treasured memory that I'll go into another time.

At Tuesday, 15 January, 2008, Anonymous Urs said...

The mere mention of the primary makes me weepy. It's not enough that our state is having a "one state recession" (or so every political ad right now would tell me), but now we've become completely irrelevant in the voting process as well. I'm so very bitter.

At Wednesday, 16 January, 2008, Blogger Kathleen said...

Fermi - I used to catch the original GN show called So Graham Norton when Comcast would try to tempt their subscribers into going digital by putting different channels on Channel 8 every day. Mondays were BBC America night. I don't know The Ref - might have to look into that next Christmas.

Jorge - I have started my first sweater, but need to get with my friend to help me as I've run into a little problem. The "right to work" issue is in petition form right now, but the powers that be expected the petitioners to be at polling places to get signatures. I didn't see one. I hadn't remembered the Danny F*@#%)G Kaye line until this year and now it makes me laugh extra hard.

Urs - I hear ya, sister. I'm so pissed at our legislature. They could barely come to an agreement to save the state from a major budget crisis, but they were able to agree to make the same state pay for Primary and piss off the national parties with a moved up primary.

At Wednesday, 16 January, 2008, Blogger LL said...

Quite a list... no wonder you didn't get your knitting done. ;P

At Wednesday, 16 January, 2008, Blogger Kathleen said...

LL - Movie watching is how I get my knitting done. More movies watched, more knitting. More books read, less knitting done.

At Wednesday, 16 January, 2008, Blogger Heather said...

You watching the Led Zeppelin movie is like me watching Pink Floyd's The Wall, which at some point I'm gonna be forced to do by Collin. I applaud your effort to expand your horizons.

I've seen that Casino Royale. We didn't finish watching it...too bizarre.

I've said it before, I'll say it again...I love me some Cary Grant!!!

At Wednesday, 16 January, 2008, Blogger dr sardonicus said...

The Song Remains The Same is a lousy movie, and I'm a fan. Like a lot of other classic Brit-rock acts, they seemingly had become bored with who they were and what they were doing by that time, and were mailing in a lot of their performances. By the mid-70's, LZ were treated like gods no matter what they did. That's why punk rock was necessary.

At Wednesday, 16 January, 2008, Blogger Kathleen said...

Heather - I actually am planning on seeing The Wall at some point in my life. I wouldn't bet on it being in this decade, however. ;-)

Doctor - I guess that means I should thank LZ for their work since it gave me punk rock which I do love.

At Wednesday, 16 January, 2008, Blogger fermicat said...

The Ref is funny any time. You don't need to wait until next Christmas to watch it.

At Friday, 18 January, 2008, Blogger MW said...

I agree with you completely regarding 95 percent of Led Zeppelin's music. In the early 1980s, I bought three of their albums based only on how much I loved "Stairway to Heaven" and "The Immigrant Song." What a major disappointment they were. I actually made up a story and returned them to the store. That said, there are at least three very nice un-Led Zeppelin-like songs in Led Zeppelin's repertoire (not counting the aforementioned two songs). They are: Bron-Yr-Aur (short, soft instrumental), Going to California (soft ballad), and Hot Dog (very upbeat, happy, traditional "bluegrassy" song). You can play them all for free at Deezer.com. I wish you would break with "tradition" just this once and humor me. ;-)

As for the movies, after years of being burned, I now have a very good second sense about which movies will stink. One of the stinkers is The Squid & The Whale. I have refused to watch it whenever it is on because I can just tell it would be the type of movie that makes me want to imprison people in Hollywood without parole.

I wanted to watch Friends With Money, but the gratuitous, nauseating camera work forced me to turn the channel within a minute of the opening scene. With only one or two exceptions, I absolutely refuse to watch any movie or show that uses the wobbly camera filming style. They make me want to give up my belief in non-violence.

Casino Royale was just too darned stupid for me.

As you read the following, keep in mind that I cannot stand horror films, no matter how old and "classic" they may be. The thing is, I have now found an exception to the rule:

Last Monday night I watched for the first time the 1943 Val Lewton classic, I Walked with a Zombie, on TMC. It is the most un-horror-like horror movie I have ever seen and is way ahead of its time in many ways. I felt as if I was watching a movie from the 1950s or 1960s. The quality of the restoration is amazing too. Every scene is incredibly clear and pristine. It is, more than anything else, a masterpiece of cinematography and writing. Val Lewton, whom I had never heard of before watching his bio the same night, was as good as the very best producers in Hollywood, but he was forced by Hollywood to produce low-budget horror flicks. Well, you can imagine how that turned out. He made his horror flicks have deep meaning and serious messages for humanity, and the beauty and creativity of the productions and the story lines are almost hypnotic. Lewton's first movie, The Cat People, played in theaters longer than Citizen Kane. As one Amazon customer says, "Val Lewton gives us a new genre: Endearing horror films."

At Monday, 21 January, 2008, Blogger Sal said...

I'm so far behind, sorry! This year has not been kind so far... I'm interested to hear why you "mostly liked" The Other Side of the Street. It was part of my prep for the Rio trip and we watched it during a Rear Window Netflix Marathon. I thought it was a close second to the original and really liked the twist. You can email me with your response, I'm not sure anyone else would be interested. Oh and I liked Howl's Moving Castle too...


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