Some days the comics speak to me and my perceived plight

Dilbert, 11/25/07

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So Many movies….

13 Tzameti is a tense French thriller.  It starts off a bit slowly.  A young man is doing some work on the roof of a strange man and his housekeeper.  The man gets a mysterious letter and then dies.  It blows out the window and the worker takes and finds some instructions on how to get lots of money.  As he and his family are in dire financial straits, he decides to take a chance.  He is followed by lawmen, who are following a lead.  When he gets to his destination, he finds himself embroiled in a deadly game of Russian roulette.  A lot of money is bet and the players get a portion of the bets if they are  left standing.  It is quite tense and well done.  There is some spray of brains here and there.  I will rate this one 3.5/5 acorns.

Hour of the Wolf
Vargtimmen (1968) is directed and written by Ingmar Bergman and starring Liv Ullman and Max von Syndow.  I don’t associate Berman with horror movies, but this is a Gothic horror movie.  I must say I was distracted by two fiber creations in the movie.  One a knit dress worn by a former lover, and a long evening wrap that looks crocheted.  I tried to get some good captures, but haven’t worked out the bugs yet on my new system.  Liv Ullman’s character is a very grounded woman who resists being drawn into the madness of her husband.  In the opening narrative she speaks to camera about how couples sometimes come to resemble each other after years.  In the end  she reiterates this statement and expresses how dangerous that can be. The scenery in this movie, although black and white is very beautiful.  The special effects are dated.  In the extras it talks about the fun they all had making this movie.  I like that Liv Ullman was interviewed then and years later.  I will rate it 2.5/5 acorns.

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Crank is written and directed by two men who started behind the camera.  It is frenetic and well acted by a British actor who is a hitman for drug lords in LA.  It starts off with him seeing a video of himself being poisoned.  He calls his doctor, Dwight Yoakam, of all people, and they decide he can prolong his life by using stimulants.  He wants to stay alive long enough to get revenge.  He calls his girlfriend for help.   She is a very pretty, not too bright, woman, who loves him and doesn’t know what he does for a living.  When he is with her, his whole personality changes and he is patient and sweet, even when she scolds him or slows him down.  So we go from brainbashing and shootouts, to him trying to repair her microwave oven, while he robs drugstores and hospitals looking for ephedrine, nose spray and epinephrine.  I will rate this one 3/5 acorns.

The Devil’s Backbone
Espinazo del diablo, El (2001) written and directed by Guillermo del Toro is a ghost movie that I enjoyed a lot.  A young boy, who doesn’t know he’s an orphan is taken to an isolated place and left.  He thinks his father is away fighting in the war, but he has been killed.  Being new and having led a sheltered life, he becomes the target for an older boy.  He is tricked into leaving his room at night, and he enounters an eerie boy.   The old man running the orphanage is a doctor who shoes him preverved fetuses with open spine defects.  They are preserved in pure alcohol and he sells the fluid to the villagers as they feel it has magical powers from the Devil’s backbone.  He is kind to the boy and also very deeply in love with the one legged mean lady that really wields the power.    While not a good as Pan’s Labyrinth, it is a very enjoyable film by this talented director, and I liked it better then Hellboy and Mimic.  I will rate it 4/5 acorns.

The Contract should have been a better movie as it had John Cusack and Morgan Freeman, but it just didn’t work for me.

Fantastic Four was one of my favorite comics way back when.  The movie while entertaining, was ultimately forgettable.

Batman Begins

When I start watching a movie and realize I’ve seen it before I must have either been knitting or uninterested when I saw it the first time. I’ve looked for pictures of Christian Bale’s teeth on the web and haven’t found any large ones which can only mean one thing. He’s a vampire. I’m not sure why he can come out during the day, too, but science has come a long way. He was great in 3:10 to yuma but even as a caped savior, I can’t help but think of the American Psycho or the Machinist. He plays creepy well. There are some great classic scenes of the bat on the rooftops. I enjoyed this movie more the second time around. I will rate it 3 acorns (out of 5)

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I decided to try a job change next year. If it doesn’t pan out, I’ll retire in June or September. I wish there was an opportunity to take and extended leave, like a sabbatical or an opportunity to drop to half time so I could be more prepared to retire, but alas, nothing has come up. I put some feelers out and if nothing come it I decided to do it and start the process of retiring in March. What to do after that? Well the current plan is to do nothing for a couple months or more, but I’ll just leave my options open.

Beowulf and Grendal, 30 days of Night, and Nobi (Fires on the Plain) and Under the Flag of the Rising Sun

Beowulf and Grendal came up on my Netflix list just as all the trailers for the new CGI production started showing up on TV and at the movies. Gerard Butler is Beowulf a Norse hero who is called to a town where Grendal, a troll, has been killing gobs of people. Stellan Skarsgård plays the king of the village, who has wronged Grendal by murdering his father. The witch who intrigues Beowulf tells him the tale of revenge that has set Grendal upon the villagers. There is a lot of slaughter in this movie, so the squeamish should stay away. The story is quite sad. The hero is not quite a hero, but a swell guy any way. As Mr. Butler is so cute, I will have to rate this 2.9/5 acorns. He also played Leonidas in The 300. I saw the trailer for the new animated upcoming version with screenplay by Neil Gaiman, and it looks pretty intense with a loud metal soundtrack. I will have to see that one too.Gerard Butler

30 days of night is a rolicking action flic with vampires in Barrow, AK, and Josh Harnett. 30 days of night is plenty of time for a group of vampires to decimate a town and make it look like an accident what with all that oil and gas running through the pipeline. They are clever these vamps, how they remove all means of communication and transportation before anyone gets suspicious. Josh is sheriff of the town, and he is estranged from his wife. In a small town, many are invested in this relationship and it makes for a nice contrast to the main carnage. This is the kind of movie that makes you jump and doesn’t give you time to breathe. The vampires are fast and strong, and have a very annoying screech, but are they a match for the hardy soles that make an isolated place like Barrow there home? Josh thinks not. If you want to jump out of your seat several times during a movie, this is the show for you. I will rate it 4/5 acorns and 2 clives.

Nobi is 1959 Japanese movie directed by Kon Ichikawa. Mr. Ichikawa is a very prolific director who also directed Taketori Monogatori, Princess of the Moon, a movie I saw one night and thought, wow, a samurai scifi movie. But then I digress. Fires on the Plain is a very dark, movie about Japanese troups at the end of the war, starving and constantly on the run in the Philipines. How low will a man sink to survive? In the end death comes to all.

Under the Flag of the Rising Sun tells the tale of a wife who seeks out the true story of her husbands experience in a similar time and situation. She has been denied the pension of a soldiers wife. Kinji Fukasaku directed many a yakuza movie and also the campy Message from Space and Battle Royale. He tells the soldier’s story from the viewpoint of people who served with him, and at the end the viewer is still not sure if he was a hero or scum.

One thing for sure. War is hell in any language. Not pleasant stories at all and all the more bleak in black and white.