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movies. [five things. 6.30.11]

I’ve been blogging so infrequently of late. It’s sad. I miss it. I’ll try to do a few ‘five things’ posts this week to share some of what I’ve been enjoying. Here are five movies I’ve loved but haven’t had time to write about.

1. Somewhere

Sofia Coppola. I love so much about her work, but one of the things that stood out to me as I watched this film was that she writes and directs what she knows, with lots of stories about fame, wealth, being a celebrity, being related to a celebrity. Yet, that never results in doing the same thing over and over. She tells new stories set in the same world.

Somewhere was charming, the two stars were wonderful, and I loved the subtle revelation of what the title was really all about.


2. X-Men: First Class

Such a wonderful recovery from all that was terrible about X3. God, how I hated X3. 

A cool 60’s vibe, a sexy cast led by the always charming Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, and plenty of mutant fun. If there’s a sequel, it will be impossible for me to root against either main character.


3. Sullivan’s Travels

Part screwball comedy. Part love story. Part political statement.


4. Mary and Max

The story’s not quite as true as the poster would lead one to believe, but it’s still a lovely film. The tale of a young girl from Australia becoming pen pals with an old man in New York. It deals with relationship, love, and mental illness with humor and honesty.


5. Objectified

A documentary about industrial design. It praised so many of the things I love, and bitched about so many of the things I bitch about. It was fascinating, and I loved it.


hbo ftw.

Umm… yeah, HBO is basically just relentless in their quest to be the greatest force in entertainment history. In addition to the fact that they start filming season two of Game of Thrones next month, they’ve got another new show in the early stages:

Darren Aronofsky just signed on to direct the pilot of a drama called Hobgoblin, which is about “a group of con men and magicians who use their skills of deception to help defeat Hitler and the Germans during WWII.”

Oh yeah, while Aronofsky is directing, a writer by the name of Michael Chabon is co-writing the script with his wife. Hold on, I need to stop writing this post, my brain is exploding.



moneyball. [trailer park.]

Sorkin. Pitt. Hoffman. Baseball. I will be there.

Although, to baseball geek out for a minute, ‘Moneyball’ never made the eternal ‘never be the same again’ impact on baseball that the movie (as the book did) looks to imply. Baseball has already disproven Beane’s method of “OPS/no stud power pitchers” over everything, instead allowing the brilliant on base concepts and attention to runs that ‘Moneyball’ preaches to inform the tried and true scouting methods that make small market teams like the Twins perennially great far more consistently than the A’s.

Beane has been great for baseball, and he’s an amazing GM, but we won’t look back in 20 years and say there is the pre-Beane and post-Beane eras of baseball. Teams are starting to steal bases again, and bunt again, and play small ball with productive outs again, and those small market teams are far more successful (Rays, Rangers, Giants) than a pure ‘Moneyball’ team (A’s), although the A’s have departed from that a bit themselves because the obsession with Moneyball above all else left their farm system in rough shape (Baseball Prospectus ranks their farm system 28th out of the 30 major league clubs).

Also, to close the case for good, Felix Hernandez and Timmy Lincecum are players ‘Moneyball’ teaches a team to avoid like the plague, whereas Barry Zito was once heralded as proof the system works. Oops.


forbidden planet. [movies in space – #7]

Going into this movie I only knew a few things:

1. A young, pre-slapstick Leslie Nielsen starred in it.

2. Everyone says it heavily influenced Star Wars.

3. It’s hailed as pulpy 50’s sci-fi at its best.

4. Richard Castle and Kate Beckett on Castle love it.

I wasn’t sure if I was more likely to enjoy watching it because it was unintentionally funny, or actually good. The answer, it would turn out, is ‘actually good.’

I loved this movie. It definitely had its share of 50’s camp shortcomings. Weak dialogue (although not nearly as bad as I anticipated), a robot who doesn’t make any scientific sense whatsoever, no believable relationships. Yet, what the movie lacked in many areas, it more than made up for in sci-fi brilliance.

I never expect to see smart sci-fi in a movie from the 50’s. For example, they arrive on Altair IV, which has enough oxygen to support them without life support systems, but as they fly over and land there are no plants. So, while I expected as much, in my head I’m chuckling that oxygen isn’t just something that sits somewhere indefinitely. These humans, as well as the original colony they are searching for, would breathe said oxygen, exhale carbon dioxide, run out of breathable air, and die. Yet, they find living people, and these people have set up homes surrounded by gardens and trees. They brought an eco-system with them to turn their carbon dioxide back into oxygen. In a cheesy sci-fi movie today, they would mention this in dialogue, in a really overt fashion. In Forbidden Planet, they NEVER talk about it. It’s just legitimate science, in the background. WHAT?!? It’s awesome.

The movie is full of stuff like that. For all its weaknesses, the narrative is tight and strong, keeping you guessing the entire time. It’s much more like a Asimov novel than a silly sci-fi movie in premise and plot. The scope once you start seeing more of the forbidden planet is also really amazing. This remarkably huge subterranean world I wasn’t anticipating.

I also think people undersell this movie when they simply say “Star Wars was heavily influenced by this movie.” It’s very true, but watching the movie I was reminded of what makes me love sci-fi. About two thirds through, as I was starting to love the movie in earnest, I was struck (almost emotionally so) by how important this movie has been in the history of film. All of the movies I love in the sci-fi realm may exist because of this film. I thought, this movie came out in 1956 and is capturing my imagination now; how much more so was that the case when a 12 year old George Lucas, and a ten year old Stephen Spielberg were watching this for the first time, or the tenth time?

Forbidden Planet planted an imaginative seed in the brains of folks who have been making smart, wonder inspiring movies ever since. I’m so glad to have finally been a witness.

Oh yeah, and Leslie Nielsen was sci-fi pulp movie gold.


trailer for 'attack the block.' [trailer park.]

First, Attack the Block got a date: July 29. Well, that’s only in select cities apparently, but fortunately my city is one of those cities.

Now, Attack the Block has a wonderfully long redband trailer. It’s entirely possible I’ll see this movie like five times this summer.

So far, various screenings of the film have people going crazy for it. I can’t wait!