Friday, April 27, 2012

Review – The Darkest Hour

Aliens attack Moscow, much to the chagrin of American tourists who happen to be there at the time. The aliens are invisible, but you can tell when they’re around because they cause electrical disturbances. See, they’re here on Earth looking for ... okay, you caught me. I lost interest long before they ever got around to explaining exactly what the aliens were up to. My attention started to wander when it turned out that the aliens were blinded by metal and apparently lacked the attention span to follow anything that moved behind a metal object. And though I liked watching them turn their victims to powder, they would have been better off had they stayed invisible. Once they were drawn out from behind their force fields, they proved to be only slightly less dumb looking than Langoliers. See if desperate

Monday, April 16, 2012

Review – Anonymous

The thesis here is that Shakespeare’s plays were actually written by Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. I’m no expert on the Bard or Elizabethan England, so I had trouble following what was actually based on fact, what was conjecture and what was pure dramatic invention. This is also yet another production that pops liberally back and forth in the time stream, occasionally making the story hard to follow. On the other hand, I enjoyed the elaborate, effects-intensive recreations of 16th century London. And it warmed my heart to think the insinuation that William Shakespeare was actually a fraud and a dumbass would severely ruffle the feathers of an undergrad English professor for whom I didn’t care. Mildly amusing

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The soft, luminous glow of the apocalypse

How can we go on without masterpieces like this?

The 8sails staff meeting is online this week, as a scheduling conflict prevents our usual Friday get-together. Despite the odd venue, we have important business to deal with: the passing of Thomas Kinkade.

Dead at 54 of "natural causes"? Who the hell do you people think you're fooling? Apparently behind the twinkly born-again glow the guy was a serious alcoholic and poon hound. My favorite tidbit: he was ejected from a Disney theme park for urinating on a statue of Winnie the Pooh. Given the character's name, perhaps we should be grateful it was just urine.

So now I envision a painting. Sunset. Pine trees twinkling in a gentle breeze. A babbling brook. Old-timey pick up trucks parked around a ramshackle building, a warm glow emerging from the open doorway. And up top, another kind of warm glow shines forth from a neon sign announcing "Live Nude Girls." Thomas Kinkade's "Love Shack."

What a fraud, Beria says. I hope that when portal to the motel of the mysteries is first breeched, the future Carnarvon isn't assailed by the scared religious paintings of Thomas Kincaid or videos of the orgiastic gospel weltanshauung  of Lawrence Welk. They'd just pull the backhoe up and bury the whole mess.

So now I find myself wondering if civilizations get some kind of advance warning when their time comes, sort of like individuals who can sense that the end is near.

Pharaoh: Okay, everyone. I just got the word from on high. Our civilization is going to come to an end, so we need to tidy the place up a bit. We don't want archaeologists 2000 years from now to think we were a pack of idiots, so I need you all to get rid of anything that might make us look bad. Take all those velvet paintings of "Ammuts playing poker" and "My dad drowned chasing Jews across the Red Sea and all I got was this lousy T-shirt" apparel out into the front yard and set fire to it.

We should be so lucky.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Review – The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)

I wish there was some way to watch this movie without knowing anything about it going in. Knowing how it ends makes every positive moment ironic rather than joyful. And though this may be a natural consequence of setting a drama entirely in an attic, the production has a theatrical quality to it. I would also have liked to have been able to view this from the perspective of an audience member in 1959. Nowadays we have no shortage of media treatments of the Holocaust, but back then this was groundbreaking stuff. Still, the story is amazingly emotionally effective even today. Worth seeing

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Review – The Debt (2010)

I’m a sucker for any kind of Nazi-hunting drama, so I thought I’d like this better than I did. It had enough Munich flavor to compare unfavorably to Munich. But the big problem was the amount of screen time devoted to the romantic woes of the three Israeli operatives sent to kidnap a former concentration camp doctor. Action movie, fine. Espionage thriller, better yet. Soap opera, not so much. Mildly amusing