Category Archives: Movies

The Bad Dream

I had a nightmare last night. Don’t need to go into it but it combined two things I’m not crazy about and I even know what I’ve seen/thought recently that most likely triggered it.  However at 3:25 in the morning, you just want to go back to sleep.  I turned on the TV and pulled up Laura with Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews and Clifton Webb.  I know the first 10 minutes by heart because that’s about how long it takes me to fall back to sleep with it playing.  I didn’t make it 10 minutes in this time.

How to you deal with bad dreams?

Public Domain Day

Two years ago, when Dale retired from the Trail, I didn’t know anything about usage rights and although I had heard the phrase “public domain”, I didn’t really know what it meant. Dale taught me quite a bit about it and then I did further research to make sure we don’t get ourselves in trouble.  That’s why Renee and I sometimes question photos and for the most part, don’t copy poetry and lyrics of other writers.

Since 1998, a work enters public domain 70 years after the life of the author. Before 1998, it was 50 years; to clear up the complexity of that change, they put a moratorium on releasing anything into public domain for 20 years.  That 20 years is up and as of Tuesday, everything from 1923 is now officially in the public domain.

Some of the items now free to share are The Metropolis by Upton Sinclair, The Color of a Great City by Theodore Dreiser, The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, Rootabaga Pigeons by Carl Sandburg and New Hampshire by Robert Frost.

So in celebration of Public Domain Day, here is a poem that last week we could not have posted here legally!

Fire and Ice
by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Do you pay attention to expiration dates?

Here I Stand

I’m doing my best Martin Luther impersonation this week. His words “Here I stand. I can do no other” were supposedly uttered at the Diet of Worms where he was having to defend his statements of faith before the secular authorities.  It’s a motto I think I have to adopt.

You all know about my Sherlock Holmes fixation. I’ve enjoyed not just the original stories but just about every other form of Sherlock that I’ve encountered.  Graphic novels from Japan, fiction about his later adventures with his wife, Sherlock in movies, Sherlock on TV, young Sherlock, a farcical comedy with Sherlock and Watson played by women and even Sherlock Bones, with Sherlock as a dog (actually two different authors have written about Sherlock as a dog).  I even read a mash-up last year pairing Elizabeth Bennett from Pride & Prejudice with Sherlock Holmes!

But I’m drawing the line this week. There is a new Sherlock movie out and I just can’t do it.  I just can’t.  Not only slapstick, which I am not fond of in the least, but one of my least favorite actors.  On. The. Planet.

So even though I like to think I’m open-minded, I guess there are dark rooms that I just won’t go in, and this is one of them!

Tell me about your least favorite movie.

Let’s All Go to the Lobby

The holiday movie season has started; I just saw that Fantastic Beasts 2 is out now. I will admit that I haven’t yet seen the first Fantastic Beasts; I’m a marginal Potter fan so not excited about seeing it in a theatre with the cost that entails.  But the concept of a pre-Harry world is appealing to me so I’m looking forward to seeing it one of these days when Netflix or one of the cable companies picks it up.

Who would star in a prequel of YOUR life? Theme song?

 

RIP Stan Lee

I’m not a huge comic book or graphic novel fan. Not sure why since I AM a super hero fan; probably  because super heroes have special powers, not unlike wizards and witches.  The last several years have been a real boon for super hero lovers and Stan Lee was behind a lot of that:  Spider Man, Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Panther, X-Men.  It was fun to see Stan Lee in small cameos in all the Marvel movies, a little like seeing Alfred Hitchcock showing up in the films that he directed.

Stan Lee passed away on Monday at the age of 95 from pneumonia. I’m sure his characters and movies will live on but it won’t be quite the same.  I’ll miss you, Stan.

What super hero would YOU like to be.

Hunter’s Moon

There was a beautiful full moon last night-The Hunter’s Moon. It is the second full moon of autumn, and was named by the Algonquin tribes as the moon for the time to go hunting and prepare for winter. The sky was quite clear and the moon was huge as I drove home from work at 7:00.  It had an orange tint.  The night before last it was almost full, and there were wavy wisps of clouds in front of the moon, making it look like the perfect backdrop for a a witch on a broom.

Tell about all the books, plays, stories, poems, and music you know of that are concerned with the moon. What are your own moon stories? Why is the moon so inspiring?

 

Me and the Movies

Today’s post comes to use from Steve.  Photo credit:  CNN.com

I fell in love with movies when I was a kid. Every Saturday I’d walk six blocks to the Capitol Theater, a dime and a nickel in my jeans pocket. The dime bought a ticket good for two movies, usually two cowboy movies or two Tarzans. The nickel got me a box of Mason Dots. When empty, the Dots box functioned as a rude sort of horn so I could signal my disgust when a cowboy hero smooched his girl.

In 1953 our family got a television set so we could watch the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. We went on to fulfill that classic Fifties cliché: we bought TV trays so we could eat TV Dinners while watching TV shows. But nobody in our family cared much for television. The programming back then was limited and lame. I much preferred movies.

I saw several wonderful films in the years just before and after graduating from high school. A short list from that time would include: The Apartment, Tunes of Glory, Lolita, Wild Strawberries, Bridge Over the River Kwai, Seven Samurai, The African Queen, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, To Kill a Mockingbird, Wild River, The Miracle Worker and Tom Jones. Those movies convinced me film-making at its best can work wonders.

Decades later I mostly gave up going to movie theaters because by then I had a superb home theater in my basement. I compiled a library of films on tape or DVD disks. In the 1980s movie rental shops suddenly sprouted like mushrooms after a rain. I welcomed them because I loved watching films in the comfort of my own home. At the checkout counter at Blockbuster a clerk once mused, “You’re a good customer. You’ve rented over 200 films from us this year.” I gulped. Blockbuster was one of three rental shops I was using that year.

All of that has changed. I now struggle to find one film a week worth viewing. In the past I waited impatiently for each week’s new rental offerings. When I joined Netflix I had nearly two dozen films on my queue. Today my queue has only three movies, and my expectations are low for two of them. The irony of this is that I have more free time now than at any time in my life, and yet I struggle to find films worth watching. I wonder how things came to this.

Perhaps watching several hundred movies has spoiled me. After seeing so many films they begin to look the same. Plots become formulaic. Dialogue becomes predictable. As a writer I can see how film writers manipulate plot lines and character to produce crises that feel phony or forced. Actors who once seemed fresh can become boring after you’ve seen them in similar roles several times. Maybe I’m jaded.

Or maybe Hollywood has mostly stopped making films that could interest me. I want to blame Star Wars. Ever since Star Wars rewarded its makers with incredible ticket sales, movie companies have struggled to produce a few incredibly expensive movies. It now costs between 200 and 300 million dollars to make a summer hit film. Production houses concentrate on films that appeal to teen boys, including teen boys all around the world. And movies seem obsessed with zombies, spacemen, dinosaurs and superheroes. Any good idea for a movie is sure to be franchised . . . and quite a few bad ideas, too.

Last week I read an article celebrating “the new canon,” the twenty-three best films made since 2000. I hoped the article would point to promising new films for me. Instead, the list was filled with films I had seen and didn’t enjoy. Most film on the list struck me as bleak, cynical and violent. I was startled by how differently the author of that article and I felt about these films. For him they were modern cinematic classics. For me most of the new classics were unacceptably gloomy and ugly.

In spite of efforts to avoid gory movies, I sometimes goof. A positive review caused me to rent a film called John Wick. I’ve never seen anything so bloody. Wick kills 77 people. Of course, there will be a sequel. I just read that the body count in John Wick 2 is 128, which is just what I would have predicted. Any guesses on the body count for John Wick 3?

Has your taste in films evolved over time? Do you have any favorites to recommend?