Thursday, February 28, 2002

Grammies? Didn't watch. As part of my continuing transition into Cranky Old Manhood, I knew the the show would hold no interest for me the moment I saw the list of nominees. I have always hated U2. I think they're the most overrated useless band to come along since The Doors, and their Super Bowl halftime show did nothing to dissuade me of this opinion. That said, they were the least horrid nominees in many of their categories. One of the few more useless bands is Train, and I'm dismayed that they won anything. I'm happy for: Outkast, O Brother soundtrack, They Might Be Giants, and that's about it. Didn't hear the Dylan album. Have formed no opinion on Alicia Keys.

Instead, we watched Butterfield 8. On Liz Taylor's birthday, no less, but this was pure coincidence -- it just happened to be the Netflix movie in yesterday's mail. I've decided I don't get Taylor.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

This exposé of Twin Cities radio makes me very glad I contributed to WLUW's pledge drive the previous week. Yes, I no longer live in the Twin Cities, but as you can see, radio across the country -- including the saintly folks at NPR -- is in a sad state.

Hey, the archives work, now that I have something to archive. Such as it is.

Monday, February 25, 2002

And I thought I was a glutton for punishment

I'd be more interested in this Guinness Book attempt at the Heights theatre if they were showing better films. Or more interesting ones, I should say. I'd rather sit through Heironymous Merkin again than Annie or Mrs. Doubtfire. Maybe next year.

Thursday, February 21, 2002

SF27 Recap

Just thoughts on the movies themselves here. Impressions on the event to follow. No added surprises -- Spidey wasn't mentioned at all, and an attempt to get the new Time Machine remake fell through; the SFX weren't finished. The Lightyears Trilogy didn't make the bill -- the shipper sent two prints of the French animated film Light Years, which thankfully did not get shown.

X-Men - Saw it before, enjoyed it then, enjoyed it this time. I like how they build the mythos for future characters -- Iceman, Jubilee, Kitty Pryde -- without them getting in the way. I'm glad actors are in place for the sequel, but I'm not the least bit interested in the Dark Phoenix saga -- the only thing worse in my mind is the Silver Surfer.

Iceman - No, not the guy from X-Men. Timothy Hutton and company thaw out a Neanderthal and he does not get a law degree. I was in the minority on this one in our group, and apparently in the larger group, judging from the comments on the SF27 message board (there are lots of complaints that there was not enough "pure sci-fi," which apparently means lasers and aliens -- the distinction between sci-fi and science fiction is now clear to me). I enjoyed it, thought John Lone's performance was excellent, and while it moved slowly and fell apart at the end, I found it interesting throughout. And this despite the apprearance of Lindsay Crouse. I'd give it a B-minus, up a full lettergrade from John. The one thing that made me roll my eyes was their incredibly well-equipped polar research facility, featuring a zoo-quality jungle exhibit and a fully-stocked (for 1984) arcade.

Omega Man - I saw this within the past year at Kristin's Movie Dictator Night. It still sucked. I was really hoping this would pop up later in the event. The source material, Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, is still begging for a proper adaptation.

The Lost World -- what a treat this was. A gorgeous restored print (made possible in part by Hugh Hefner -- no joke!) with live piano accompaniment. Wallace Beery leads an expedition to the Amazon to rescue someone and follow up on his claims of dinosaurs. The special effects held up marvelously even if some of the onscreen humor did not: this being 1925, time was given to an offensive black stereotype (I think he was in blackface to boot). He was alongside an equally buffoonish Cockney character; I wonder if Brits today would find that as politically incorrect.

Happy Accidents -- the aforementioned messge boards were full of complaints when this booking was announced. What's this chick flick doing on the schedule? What's Marisa Tomei have to do with science fiction? Well, this turned out to be the surprise favorite of the day. Tomei plays an enabling codependent who meets a guy (Vincent D'Onofrio) who might break her streak of flaky romances-- until he claims to be from 400 years into the future. Performances were great, the logic in D'Onofrio's time-travel stories held up (or at least made as much sense as the psychobabble) and everyone was kept guessing until the end. At which point it got LOUD, sustained cheers.

These Are The Damned -- Seemingly four differerent films here, none of them as interesting as they may sound: A group of hoods, led by Oliver Reed, use Reed's sister as bait to rob unsuspecting tourists. They do this to American Macdonald Carey, but the sister falls for Carey. Fleeing Reed, they stumble on a government plot where radioactive children are being raised to survive a nuclear holocaust. Thrown into this is Viveca Lindfors, playing a flaky bohemian sculptor and obviously prepping for her role as a flaky bohemian professor in The Sure Thing. Interesting in its bleakness, but little else. The European version we were shown is 20-odd minutes longer than the US release. Not sure if we got the short end of that stick.

Wave Twisters -- the booker found this one due to its vague SF theme and good notices at South By Southwest, but apparently failed to realize that SXSW is as much a music event as a film festival. Wave Twisters was a long-form animated music video for an album by DJ QBert. Now, I rather enjoy DJ music when I'm doing something else, but concentrating on it alone, it gets old quickly. And so did Wave Twisters' visuals. Still, I only mildly disliked this, where others absolutely hated it.

Godzilla vs. Destroyer -- or "Destoroyah" as the opening credits said. It's not often film titles have a Boston accent. Godzilla films should be like AC/DC albums, or Scooby-Doo episodes: comfortingly familiar, with no prerequisites to worry about. This one brought in characters and situations from previous Godzilla films, when no Toho Godzilla efforts had come to the US between Godzilla 1985 and (the pretty decent) Godzilla 2000. It was also painfuly slow, especially for an action movie, and included a baby Godzilla. Haven't the Japanese learned from American TV? Babies ruin franchises! This one put me to sleep early on, but I woke up near the end.

Evolution -- I fully intended to sleep through this one, but I woke up maybe a quarter in, alarmed that I had dropped my glasses on the floor. Kirsti managed to recover them, but by then I was jarred awake, so I was stuck watching the rest of it. It wasn't the worst thing to see at 3 a.m.

Doctor X -- On the other hand, booking this in the wee morning hours was a bad idea. Its leisurely pace and my sleep deprivation meant that while I was up for all but the last five minutes of it, I can only remember that the technicolor was lovely and so was Fay Wray. This deserved better placement, perhaps swapped with Omega Man.

Creature with the Atom Brain -- I slept through nearly all of this. Someone reanimating corpses to get revenge on someone.

The Terminal Man -- disappointed in my lack of stamina during the last two films, I got up and watched much of this from the back of the theatre. Not that that was worth it. George Segal gets a computer implant in his brain to cure seizures. This being based on a Michael Crichton novel, it's padded with a lot of surgery/medical scenes and jargon which is supposed to impress us. But not much happens, and a lot of time is taken to show us nothing happening. Interesting paths, like Segal's belief that machines are taking over, are hinted at and dropped. The crowd turned on this one swiftly and brutally.

The Independent -- Not really sci-fi, but in the right spirit of things. Jerry Stiller plays Morty Fineman, a Cormanesque writer/producer/director of grade-Z exploitation films like 12 Angry Men and a Little Lady. I don't want to give much away here, but:catch it when you're able, and be sure to catch the list of Fineman's work during the end credits.
Still haven't had much time to write up SF27 thoughts. John's impressions match mine pretty well, although I give higher marks to Iceman and Wave Twisters, and slept through most of Creature with the Atom Brain and would give it an incomplete. I should have some time tonight while Kirsti watches figureskating.

Hey, snow! What sort of winter is it where snow falling in February in Chicago can be at all surprising?

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

SF27 is in the books. I may have more to say about it later on -- I'm running on fumes. But for right now, be on the lookout for a film called The Independent, and be sure to catch it if it hits your area.

Friday, February 15, 2002

They Control The Vertical

I'm off to Boston tomorrow morning for SF27, an annual 24-hour science fiction film marathon. This year's lineup, in chronological order:

The Lost World (1925)

Doctor X (1932)

The Creature with the Atom Brain (1955)

These are the Damned (1963)

The Omega Man (1971)

The Terminal Man (1974)

Iceman (1984)

Gojira VS Desutoroia (1995)

The Independent (2000)

X-Men (2000)

Happy Accidents (2000)

Evolution (2001)

Alien Love Triangle/Lightyears Trilogy (2001)

Wave Twisters (2001)

(and yes, I swiped the above chunk of HTML from the source at the SF27 site).

...and maybe some other surprises. One of which will not be Altered States, which was pulled due to a bad print. While I've seen that one, it's been a while, and I was pretty young (yet another example of the age-inappropriate viewing which is the hallmark of the Sorenson family). While Spider-Man fits this year's "Mutants R Us" theme, I imagine it's the longest of longshots that they'd be able to secure it for this event. I get the idea Sam Raimi would be willing, but the damn suits...

As it is I've only seen two of these, so I'm well pleased. This Lightyears Trilogy is/was an anthology piece that was in the works, and apparently shelved indefinitely when one segment was expanded into the recent Gary Sinise/Philip K. Dick film Impostor. Rumor is we're getting segments directed by Danny Boyle and Bryan Singer, but probably not the bit that ended up as Impostor. Too bad.

The key to surviving something like this? A pillow. Advil, a toothbrush, and snacks help, but a pillow is oh so crucial. Coolidge Corner is an old theatre, and one can screw up one's back rather easily. Kirsti had the idea of bringing earplugs this year, which assumes you can plan a time in which to sleep, so we'll see how that goes. I'm hoping Omega Man and Evolution are scheduled back to back at 1 a.m for just that purpose. This will be interesting to compare this to B-Fest, which I went to in January. I think I like B-Fest better, but a lot of that has to do with being able to stagger home and collapse in my own bed afterward.

After seeing my earlier post about the number of movies I've seen so far, my sister asks, "So you'll see all those weird movies but you still refuse to see Forrest Gump?" Yeah, well, I've eaten snails, but that doesn't mean I'm gonna go run out and eat Drano, too. Or something like that.

Say Cheese

Kirsti and I have been talking about getting a digital camera. While they appear to be coming down in price, and I haven't done any research on them yet, my reservations about the idea are:

We have a Mac. This doesn't limit our choices as much as the Wintel bigots would have me believe, but it does mean I'll need to do more homework before buying. On the other hand, this incapability for immediate gratification means by necessity I'll end up with a more informed purchase than if I were able to waltz into Best Buy and snap up the first camera I saw.

We have anoldMac. We've souped up our Power Mac 6100 as far as it will go, but the bottom line is we're serial/SCSI dinosaurs in the USB age. So we'll have to keep adapters in mind.

Most importantly,neither of us really takes pictures.It quite literally takes us years to use up a roll of film. This is probably due to our current camera being a piece of utter crap, but I'm not so sure. If I'm going to take pictures I want it to be because I want to, not to justify the cost of the hardware.

So, I don't know. We've hardly begun looking into this matter.

And Valentine's Day, you may ask? Well, I'm not much for the holiday. Not because I'm unromantic, but in the 12 years Kirsti and I have been together, we've created our own dates in which to celebrate our love and relationship, none of which have much to do with 2/14. Plus we're both pretty practical and cheap. We ended up making a pan of brownies, getting through a bottle of merlot, and watching a movie, in this case The Heartbreak Kid. Which I think demonstrates quite well how fortunate I am.

Thursday, February 14, 2002

Wendigowas bad. This review is way off base, except where praise of Erik Per Sullivan is concerned. He was quite good. Otherwise, the characters were mostly stock, the foreshadowing was clumsy and obvious, and the decision to give us a look at the Wendigo was a big mistake -- it reminded me of the When Animals Attack In High Speed Car Chases 2 sketch on The Chris Rock Show. And to make matters worse, the Thai place down the street from Facets has closed! Evicted, along with the Japanese place next door -- new buyer, apparently.

Wendigowas the 40th movie I've seen this year (rules: at least 60-70 min. in length, made for theatrical release, video/DVD is okay but repeats are not counted).It took me until mid-April to reach that point the last two years. I've actually slowed down in February. We were on a tremendous tear in January thanks to some good catch-up options at the bargain moviehouses and interesting selections at the Music Box. After finishing January with 34 films I'm now off pace, but SF27should get me back on track.

Some news from the homeland. I've not been a Minnesota resident for nearly a decade, but I still read the Strib's online page more than either of the Chicago papers. Judi Dutcher is running for governor. When was the last time a head of a U.S. state was kinda hot? Maybe I'm just jaded by the Illinois machine.

And the legislature is about to name an official state photo. this caught my eye because this photo, "Grace," adorned the wall of my grandma's kitchen (and may still; I've not noticed it since she moved), and probably your grandarents' kitchens, too. But what state needs an official state photo? This could be taken to extremes.

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Okay! Finally, after a two months of idleness and a quick email to interaccess web support, I'm now up and publishing. Now to think of something to write about.

Free movie screening tonight at Facets. Indie film called Wendigo starring Erik Per Sullivan of Malcolm in the middle fame. I'm not expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised by last month's similar event, Scotland, PA. So we'll see.