Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2001 statistics!

In 2001 I moved to New York City for a year, but my overall movie watching declined in terms of sheer numbers. I lived in Queens, in the Greek neighborhood of Astoria. I really loved living in Astoria. I guess I was way too busy doing other things to see a ton of movies--there were lots of concerts and the N train ride into Manhattan to grapple with when I wanted to go see something. I rarely rented movies or watched any via cable either. Pretty much all of these were seen in theatres from what I can remember.

In my notes at the back of Kinetoscope 2001 I made a top ten for the year. A few of these I'm surprised to see on here looking at it ten years later. It went something like this:

1/ In the Bedroom [usa]
2/ Mulholland Drive [usa]
3/ In the Mood for Love [hong kong]
4/ Amelie [france]
5/ Eureka [japan]
6/ The Others [spain]
7/ Together [sweden]
8/ Moulin Rouge! [usa]
9/ Memento [usa]
10/ Happy Accidents [usa]

Total: 150

By Decade

1930-39: 2
1940-49: 6
1950-59: 3
1960-69: 6
1970-79: 7
1980-89: 11
1990-99: 30
2000+: 84

Where I Saw 'Em

Astoria, New York: 64
Manhattan, New York: 61
Pryor Creek, Oklahoma: 16
Tulsa, Oklahoma: 5
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; Dallas, texas; Weir's Beach, New Hampshire; West Palm Beach, Florida: 1

Who I Saw 'Em With

17--Robert Schrader
12--Lillian Blevins
5--Molly Torsen
3--Shane Davis
2--Sherrill Davis; Betty Gore; Beth Page;
1--Norma Stone; Missy Torsen; Ingrid ?

By Country

99--US and A!
8--Hong Kong/China
2--Belgium; Canada; South Korea
1--Australia; Bosnia; Denmark; Iran; Mexico; Spain; Sweden

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Vomit-O-Meter update!

As you may remember, I am keeping track of a new statistic this year in my 2011 film watching journal Kinetoscope. I track things like what movies I've seen, who I saw them with, the country of the film and things like that. This year I'm marking down every time I see a film with someone vomiting at some point in the movie. Since the year is nearly half over I thought I'd give an update of the total.

I've seen 118 movies as of June 25th and 15 had some kind of puke scene in it. That's a percentage of 13%. Aren't you glad I'm keeping tabs on this sort of film statistic?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

July: 31 days, 31 movies!

July is going to be a busy month on CineRobot. Unprovoked by anyone, I will attempt to see a movie every single day of the month and then write a short review, rant, description or other about each film. As you can see by the Mr. Bean calendar to the left, there's 31 days in July, so that's going to be a lot of films to discuss. I may regret this and might end up looking like Mr. Bean when it's over, but it's too late now since it's gone public.

Monday, June 20, 2011

UTW review of In a Better World

The winner for the best foreign film Oscar for 2010 finally made it to Tulsa in May and here is my review of it in Urban Tulsa. It's okay. Some parts work better than others. I thought Dogtooth was much better, but that movie was way to weird and unsettling for the Oscar voters. I like watching films from Denmark though and you can go here if you would like to read the full review of In a Better World.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo poster

Much buzz has been circulating online since the poster [and red-band trailer] came out promoting David Fincher's take on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. You rarely see flat-out nudity like what we see in this poster in such a mainstream release. In fact, even in the exploitation heyday of the 1970s and the glorious VHS era of the 1980s, nudity was always a cartoon or graphic design, never full-on bosoms and buttocks. I can't remember seeing anything this this blatant.

Of course, we really shouldn't be surprised that Hollywood has chosen to go the "sex" route to promote a film. The surprising thing is that it really hasn't been done previous to this. Obviously, the poster as it appears on the left will never make it to many [most] theatres. Can you imagine someone hanging that in the lobby of a multiplex in the midwest? I live firmly in the bible belt and trust me, this poster won't be up in Tulsa theatres. But, in this day and age of viral advertising and the importance of getting the word out via social media outlets, the display of Rooney Mara's pierced nipples on full-display isn't that shocking to me. Tasteless? Maybe. Shocking? Not really.

I didn't read Stieg Larsson's trilogy of books this movie is based upon, but I did watch the Swedish versions of the movie with the bad-ass Noomi Rapace playing "Lisbeth Salander." This image seems really out of place from the character that I remember in those three films. Salander, in the Swedish films, would never be clinging onto "Mikael Blomkvist"'s [character played by Daniel Craig] arm like this as he protects her while she is naked to the world. The woman was so damaged that it just would not happen. It's going to be hard for Mara to top Rapace in capturing the dark essence of this beloved character, so maybe Fincher and the advertising people have chosen the instant gratification of lots and lots of media attention to generate buzz. It just makes me wonder, how much else will they tinker with regarding the relationship between Blomkvist and Salander, if they will freely manipulate the pair's bond for the sake of a little bit of summer heat on the internet?

Anyone have any thoughts on the poster? Like it? Hate it? Feel it's completely inappropriate for the characters? Or, is it accurate from what is in the book?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Everything Must Go

It's admirable that the always manic Will Ferrell has attempted to go slightly outside of the box his comedies normally reside in. Unfortunately, Everything Must Go is a flawed film with a confusing tone hindered by the fact that it is Ferrell in the lead role. Had another actor with less pre-conceived baggage been in the role, the film might have been more of a success as a whole. This isn't really Ferrell's fault, he is who he is, but its his miscasting that ultimately dooms the movie underwhelming.

Based on a short story by Raymond Carver [possibly the greatest American short-story writer of all-time], Everything Must Go is about one man's life as it goes from bad to worst. In the span of a few short hours, he's fired in the morning, then returns home to find doors locked and all his belongings on the front lawn. Seems the wife has reached the tipping point regarding his drinking and has delivered a harsh message that divorce is impending. Ferrell's character, Nick, doesn't seem too upset by the situation. As long as he's got an endless supply of cold brew and can sit in his comfy recliner, he's willing to pass the hours sitting amongst his things on the lawn. The neighbors aren't too keen on the site of the never-ending yard sale look that he's cultivating, but Nick's got bigger problems to ponder than what the neighbors are saying.

On the surface, Everything Must Go look like a total departure for Ferrell. He plays Nick low-key, without any of the zany explosions or bizarre behavior his characters are known for. But, if you look a little deeper into this role, it has many similarities with Ferrell's previous work. Ferrell seems to be permanently drawn to various man-child characters and Nick is a case of same-old, same-old in this regard. Nick's a drunk who refuses to accept responsibility for his actions, no matter how many opportunities he's given. He reeks of immaturity as much as he does beer fumes from the continuous knocking back cans of his favorite beverage.

The character of Nick is just another of many stunted males Ferrell has played over the years. A known improvisor, Ferrell can't stop himself from riffing one-liners from time-to-time even in a film where he's supposedly dialed it down. In this regard, Ferrell has failed the movie as he couldn't reside in his character of Nick without letting loose some zingers here and there. Yes, he does it quieter and without his patented over-the-top style, but he's still doing classic Ferrell schtick, it's just been ratcheted down a notch or two.

Everything Must Go is a bland movie. Stuck in an odd void between comedy and drama, its tone is just completely off thanks to the presence of Will Ferrell. I couldn't get away from the strange tone. I'm a fan of Carver's bluntly honest work, but don't think this did him justice. I'm not opposed to seeing Ferrell "go serious" again, but I'd like to see him even further outside his comfort zone that would really challenge his acting skills. Although, next time, the riffing and the man-child persona will have to completely go if he wants to try something new.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

UTW review of Something Borrowed

Watching Something Borrowed is like travelling back in time to a far distant past, say February, around Valentine's Day, when the multiplex is swamped by exactly the same kind of unremarkable dreck. Go here if you wish to read the entire Urban Tulsa review that I recently wrote.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Meek's Cutoff poster

I've written about so many subject connected to movies over the six years [yes, six years!] I've been doing CineRobot, but I recently realized that if there is one topic that I've under explored all these years, it is the art of the movie poster. I am not sure why I haven't written about them regularly because I love graphic design and there are literally thousands to look at and admire [or loathe]. There are so many that I might have to put some parameters to what ones I discuss, like it has to be a movie I love, hate, want to see or from a director/actor/actress I like [or loathe, ha]. We'll see. I'm going to have a couple of posts a month on posters and would love some guest contributions if you are a regular reader and have something you want to see/write about.

To start off my poster worship is Meek's Cutoff, a 2011 release from the very talented director Kelly Reichardt [Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy]. This tale about people travelling through Oregon in the 1840s can't come to a Tulsa theatre fast enough! This poster is crisp, clean and taps into the era that it is set in perfectly. I love the old-fashioned look of the image of Michelle Williams and how it resembles something from a long-gone style of printing. There's some other posters for Meek's Cutoff and I don't understand that at all, this is clearly the most striking of the bunch.

Friday, June 10, 2011

UTW review of Jane Eyre

Adapting classic literature can be a daunting task, but this latest version of the 1847 novel by Charlotte Bronte is truly a wonderful work of art. Go here to read some more words I wrote about Jane Eyre when I reviewed it in Urban Tulsa.

Tiebreaker on poll question

Just like in tennis, someone needs to step up and vote to break this multi-movie tie that we have in the poll question. There are far too many "twos" in the lead. There is one day left to vote! A 5 way tie for first just won't cut it. Head to the home page to cast your vote on the funniest R-rated movie since 2000.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Terrence Malick instructs projectionists on Tree of Life

According to various reports, director Terrence Malick has issued a four-point instructional guide to projectionists who screen his newest release Tree of Life. It's kind of unusual that a director has to release such edicts about their work, but it is an even sadder statement of just how the professionalism of being a projectionist has gone downhill in recent years. There are many woes of the modern movie watching experience and like the villain for most of them, I'm going to blame the multiplex!

Unfortunately, for audience members who care about such things as aspect ratio, sound or even having the damn film in focus, crappy projectionists are just one more reason to signal the death blow for the idea of a film print [which truly breaks my heart to think about]. Soon, there will be nothing but digital projection anyway, so my rant, like Malick's, is probably a waste of energy. I don't care. There are so many shoddy, untrained, uncaring people working in projection booths these days that the chances of seeing something perfectly correct is 50/50. And that's me being generous with those odds.

Last week I saw The Beaver and it sounded as if the audio was being run through water. I had to get up and go complain, missing the first couple of minutes of a movie I was writing a review for. I actually told an employee IN the theatre, but she said the director meant to do it that way. I just looked at her like she was drunk and went and found the manager. It was magically fixed about a minute later. The depressing fact is most theatres employ someone in the booth on the cheap, even though this makes no sense because a projectionist has the MOST impact of anyone in the entire theatre regarding the viewer's experience of watching a movie.

Malick's instructions are pretty simple for any would-be projectionists out there, but if you are a projectionist and you are reading CineRobot, chances are you are at the top of the game and won't need these at all!

  1. Project the film in 1.85:1 aspect ratio
  2. Set the fader on Dolby and DTS systems to 7.5 or 7.7 [higher than the standard setting of 7]
  3. With no opening credits, cue the lights down before the opening frame of reel #1
  4. Projection lamps should be at "Proper standard (5400 Kelvin)" and the Lambert level should be set at "Standard 14."
The worst thing for me when Tree of Life comes to Tulsa and plays at the local multiplex--I can almost 100% guarantee that a few of these instructions won't be followed. I might contact the theatre and just pass them on, but even then I'd put it at 50/50 it will be projected properly. 

Monday, June 06, 2011

UTW review of Certified Copy

Can never seem to catch up on my Urban Tulsa reviews! Here's one from a month or so ago that is a perfect example of "art-film." That means lots and lots of talking! Juliette Binoche stars. Go here to read more on it.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Memorial holiday binge

If I stay at home during a holiday weekend, chances are I'm going to watch some movies. This past Memorial Day weekend saw me in binge mode as I saw eight films over the three day stretch. It was a very diverse mix of movies, read on for the blow-by-blow description.

The Stalking Moon. I started the weekend off with a 1968 western starring Gregory Peck, Eva Marie Saint and Robert Forster. Kind of a pedestrian tale about a small group holed up in a remote cabin in New Mexico trying to fight off a rampaging Apache. The film takes the story and then is surprisingly low-key and gritty with a terrific score. I loved seeing a young Forster as a "half-breed" helping do battle against the Apache trying to get his son back. Also--love the poster! I think I'll start doing a monthly movie poster post as there's just so many great posters out there like this one from a lesser known western 40+ years old.

Hobo with a Shotgun. This was a midnight movie at the Circle and is the best titled film they've shown since their porn days of the 1970s/1980s. I wanted to like this exploitation throwback about a fed-up hobo who kills a bunch of nasties in a lawless, urban wasteland, but I just didn't care for it. The film, like many new releases these days, is too gleefully sadistic for my tastes. There's no nuance, no depth, no subtlety. It's just over-the-top action and dialogue that is exhausting as it tries to out gross and entertain. I did enjoy Rutger Hauer as "Hobo," but that wasn't enough to save this disappointment for me.

Until September. I've written about my crush on Karen Allen before on CineRobot, but will restate my thoughts about what a dish she was in the 1970s/80s. Allen, and her adorable freckles, was the only reason I watched this cheesy romantic drama set in Paris as Allen's character gets mixed up with a married, French cad. Not good at all, but Allen doing some nude scenes sure helped it, ha.

Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Ridiculously titled documentary from Morgan Spurlock [Super Size Me] about the tantalizing and profitable realm of product placement in movies. Very interesting premise that goes absolutely nowhere over the course of its 90 minute running time.
Spurlock thinly constructs a plot based mainly around his personality while mostly delivering pitches to various corporations. Some like the idea, some don't and every so often Spurlock will tell us actual information about his larger subject. Flimsy and could have been much, much better.

L'Amour Fou. Another documentary and a complete snoozer about fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent's life and art collection as it goes on sale at Christie's. Very little art on display as this is mostly long-time lover Pierre reminiscing about their shared life or detailed looks into Yves lavishly gorgeous houses in Morocco, Paris or in the French countryside. Despite this being deadly dull, I never realized how many ugly dresses YSL designed! All I can say is he had a phase of shoulder pad explosions on far too many articles of clothing.

Working Girl. Fourth film of the day [and by far the best] was this underrated 1988 comedy from director Mike Nichols. One of two good Melanie Griffith movies in her career [yes, she's only done two good ones! Something Wild is the other.], Working Girl has Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Cusack and Alec Baldwin rounding out a stellar cast. The film is a wonderful mix of sweet and serious as Griffith plays a lowly secretary trying to climb the corporate ladder despite her accent, gigantic 1980s hairstyle and non-flashy resume. Great ending.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams. I'm done with 3D. I've tried a few times with the recent onslaught, but nearly always I get a crushing headache or end up nauseous. I thought before I saw this that a Werner Herzog documentary about French cave paintings wouldn't do the same things to my brain, but I was wrong. All the usual sorts of head trauma 3D unleashes on me started early on with dizziness and nausea. I even had to shut my eyes some of the time to try and stave off the symptoms of an early-warning migraine. 3D sucks. Plus, it was a $10 matinee in Tulsa which explains why the film studios are shoving the 3D down our throats--easy cash money for them. The film? Too long to be perfectly honest. This could have been an hour instead of ninety minutes and missed nothing except some of Werner's bizarre tangents [which are always entertaining by the way so its best to leave that stuff in!] or the strange visual of the albino crocs near the end. Maybe it was just the increasing pain in my skull caused by 3D that made me want to exit the theatre and not Werner?

Dog Day Afternoon. I'm trying to re-watch some Sidney Lumet since his recent death and this is one of his "musts" from his 1970s heyday. Starting off with a couple of minutes of New York City love from Lumet as he shows a bunch of places to get the flavor of the city saturated before jumping into Al Pacino and John Cazale attempting to rob a Brooklyn bank. Things don't go all that great for the inept pair and they are soon in a massive stand-off with the police, FBI, press and what looks like a huge portion of the neighborhood on the sidewalks watching the action. The film takes a progressive twist about an hour into it regarding why Al wants to rob the bank. I'd like to been able to see it in 1975 unaware of the twist and gauged how the audience of that era reacted to it. I also like the little statements the film has about media as the stand-off ensues. A harbinger of what was to come from Lumet as his scathing satire Network was coming up in the next year. Absolutely top notch. Kind of funny that the three best films I saw on my binge were released in 1975, 1988 and 1968.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

May movies

Seven of the twenty-one films I saw in May were documentaries. This might be due to the huge amount of streamers on Netflix that are docs. Overall, nine of the films for the month were streamers. I guess I am a fan of the streamer! Watched a couple of Sidney Lumet films [Running on Empty, Dog Day Afternoon] to refresh myself in just how great he was as a director. I also re-confirmed that 3D truly sucks when every time I see something in this ridiculous format gives me a massive headache [Cave of Forgotten Dreams]. Next post in two days will be a complete recap of my nine film Memorial holiday weekend binge!

Jane Eyre---2011---england   ****
Running on Empty---1988---usa   ****
Cinema Verite---2011---usa   ***
Something Borrowed---2011---usa   **
Bridesmaids---2011---usa   ****
In a Better World---2010---denmark   ***
Looking For Eric---2009---england   ***1/2
Synth Britannia---2009---england   *****!
Victory---1981---usa    ***
Queen to Play---2010---france   ***
Between the Folds---2008---usa    ***1/2
William Eggleston in the Real World----2005---usa    **1/2
The Stalking Moon---1968---usa   ***1/2
Hobo with a Shotgun---2011---usa    **1/2
Until September---1984---usa   **1/2
Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold---2011---usa   ***
L'Amour Fou---2010---france   **
Working Girl---1988---usa   ****
Cave of Forgotten Dreams---2011---usa   ***
Dog Day Afternoon---1975---usa   ****
The Man Who Would Be Polka King---2009---usa   ***1/2