Arts Archives

February 10, 2004

More Star Wars

The good news is that Lucasfilm, Ltd. and 20th Century Fox Home Video are releasing the three original Star Wars films on DVD this fall.

The bad news is that it's going to be a boxed set, so expect to pay a hefty premium.


March 1, 2004

About Damn Time!

It's official. Return of the King took all eleven awards it was nominated for!

It's about damn time, considering how they snubbed Jackson, and his crew the previous two years.

I can hardly wait to see what they do to The Passion a year from now. :)

If you haven't been following this, Return of the King won:
-Best Picture
-Best Director (Peter Jackson, if you've been living in a cave for three years)
-Best adapted screenplay (Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens)
-Best song (Into the West)
-Best score (Howard Shore)
-Best visual effects
-Best art direction
-Best costume design
-Best makeup
-Best sound mixing
-Best film editing

Return of the King beat the old record holder for taking all awards nominated for (Gigi, nine), and tied two other movies for most awards granted: Titanic and Ben Hur.

UPDATE: I cringed when I heard Tim Robbins won Best Supporting Actor, expecting a re-enactment of Moore's spew last year. But I have to hand it to the man, he resisted temptation and took the opportunity to talk about child abuse instead. I think that shows a lot of class. Two thumbs up for Tim!

March 2, 2004

Fan Film

When I started this blog (and my website), one of the topics I wanted to write about was the cinema.

And now, I'm finally writing one.

I was cruising around the web tonight when I came upon the mention of a live-action Batman movie short at Greg's Previews. It had -for me- a couple of "hunh?" moments in it, but overall I think it was very well done, and agree with Greg that it was more faithful to the original material than any of the recent movies have been.

You can find the actual film here.

If you check out the interview with the director (also to be found at the above link), you'll find out that Kevin Smith liked the short as well, to the point of saying that this "is the best Batman movie ever made."

If that's not enough to whet your interest, you're hopeless!

March 14, 2004

I smell something... "fishy" here

I just read this Yahoo! news article: French Court Frees 'Nemo' from Lawsuit

"Sunday March 14 9:56 PM ET

A court here has turned down an injunction against selling merchandise for the movie "Finding Nemo," ruling that there were no "serious similarities" between the Walt Disney Co./Pixar character and a clown fish drawn for a French children's book.

The case was brought by lawyer and part-time author Franck Le Calvez, who claims to have penned a book about a clown fish called Pierrot about nine years ago.

In the preliminary ruling, judge Louis-Marie Raingeard found that there was no possible confusion between the two characters. "

That sounded interesting, and I've heard enough stories to know that, sometimes, there really are unexplainable coincidences between one story and another, or one song and another. It happens.

Then, just out of curiosity, I Googled "Franck Le Calvez Pierrot," to see if I could find pictures of Pierrot and compare them to Nemo. Here's a good example of Pierrot. For comparison, here's Nemo. (scroll down)

Same fish? Well, they are both clownfish, yes. But the faces are significantly different, with Pierrot showing (on my monitor anyway) as a definite orange, while Nemo displays strongly red.

But they both live in anemones, you say! Well, yes. They're clownfish. Both stories start with the loss of one parent: in Nemo the mother dies; in Pierrot, it's the father. After that, in both stories, the child becomes lost, and after many adventures is reunited with his mother/father. Sounds "fishy*" eh?

Well, at first glance, yes. On the other hand, how many stories can we find about a child who loses a parent, is separated from the other, and (after many adventures) is reunited? Put it that way, and you can almost include the Home Alone movies! It's a fairly generic plot.

But wait, it gets better. I found links here, and here (scroll down to "commentaire par YM") that illustrate connections between The Lion King & the Japanese TV series Kimba The White Lion, as well as Atlantis & the Japanese TV series Nadia and The Secret of The Blue Stone.

Does this prove anything? Hard to say. But, given the wealth that Disney has gained from public-domain stories such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc., and given that company's severely unforgiving attitude to Intellectual Property infringements, I find this series of coincidences... Interesting... Heh.

*er, sorry about that. couldn't resist. mea culpa. :)

March 18, 2004

Music Wish List

Y'know, I'm kinda between jobs right now.

Oh, I have one (newly resurrected) now, but it's not what I'm after. It's just to pay the bills.

My point (and I do have one) is that this is a "pay the bills while you keep looking" job, even if the money is halfway decent.

This is why I reall, Really, REALLY resent Dean Esmay. The man is a sick, twisted, sadistic SOB without the slightest tinge of mercy in his makeup.

Why do I say this? Because he has, for the 147th time (by my careful count) made me wish I could afford another great CD.

DAMN him, anyway! Otis Rush, John Lee Hooker, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, and Junior Wells all on the same stage!? Just twist the knife, why don't you?...

Oh, well, at least the Allman Brothers aren't there. :) A note to those who care: if you can; do not walk, RUN to the nearest recording of Wilson Pickett performing Hey, Jude, with guitar lead by a certain Duane A.

April 5, 2004

On a lighter note

Last night we had the Nickelodeon's 17th annual Kids' Choice Awards.

Amanda Bynes had a repeat with her 2nd consecutive "favorite movie actress" win, as did SpongeBob SquarePants for "favorite cartoon and video game."

OutKast picked up a double win with "favorite music group," as well as "favorite song." (Hey Ya!)

Ellen DeGeneres won "favorite animated voice" (justly so, I think!) with her protrayal of Dori in Finding Nemo.

But my favorite was the award given to Hugh Jackman (X-Men, X2, Swordfish, Kate & Leopold, Van Helsing).

Jackman won "finest celebrity burper."

In his acceptance speech, Jackman said "Finally, something my family can be proud of."

My gosh, don't you just love The Arts!?

April 25, 2004

Beam me up, Garrovik!

"These are the voyages of the starship Exeter..."

Ok, hold on just a second. We all know it's the Enterprise, right?

Well, no. Not if you're part of the crew of the Starship Exeter!

It took them seven years, but these folks create their own Star Trek fan movie, based on the original Series (TOS) timeline. The home base of the movie is the U.S.S. Exeter NCC-1706, commanded by Captain Garrovik. From their website:

"The U.S.S. Exeter, freshly recrewed and commanded by Captain John Garrovick, is on a mission to save a ship infected with the deadly Canopus Plague. The Exeter must travel to the homeworld of Andorian Lieutenant B'fuselek to find the cure. But Andorian rebels have other plans . . . and so do the Klingons!

STARSHIP EXETER "The Savage Empire" is an original self-produced pilot intended as a concept for a new television serial based on the look and feel of the 'Original Series.' With an eye for detail, the sets, props, costumes, and visual effects were all painstakingly reproduced by amatuers on a shoestring budget in exacting 1960's style."

I dropped by their site, and I was very impressed by the quality of their work. The miniatures were made by Thomas Sasser, who created the master for the new Polar Lights U.S.S Enterprise kit currently in toy stores and hobby shops. That kit has been hailed as the most accurate mass-produced kit ever made of the original Enterprise.

You can even watch Starship: Exeter online if you like! So if you're a fan of the original series, run -do not walk- here and check out their great work. Or if you just want to watch the movie, click here.

warning: you need broadband, or a lot of patience. the teaser/titles part is 25 megabytes long all by its lonesome.

July 27, 2004

What makes a good, heroic movie?

Damn. The Esmays are getting me all fired up tonight! Now Dean has a post that inspired this essay, although (again) it's been in the back of my mind for a couple of years, now. See the original post for the comments I responded to below.


Bryan: agreed! In fact, Michael Smith has said that Batman: Dead End is the best Batman movie he's ever seen.

Ara: I'm with you, brudder: Newmar all that way... Yum.

Well, maybe Newmar and Berry, although even the lovely and talented Julie N. had better lines than this to work with! Sheesh.

Dean: I read the reviews Sunday night. Everyone panned it; I think the best "grade" was a D.

The sad thing is that Halle Berry would have made a marvelous Selina Kyle, as per the original.

Of course, this all goes to show that (in order) good story, casting, direction, and production beat FX and sleaze every time. DC should do what Marvel has done, and give the properties to the people who love and understand the stories and characters behind the DC superheroes.

Continue reading "What makes a good, heroic movie?" »

March 11, 2005

New info about Gunners Palace

If you don't know what Gunners Palace is yet, drop on by Mudville and read this. After you're done, read a review by Andrew Watkins, a D.C. resident and "military guy."

Everyone, and I mean everyone should see this movie. As everyone has been saying: it's not pro-war, nor is it anti-war. It's about the young men in the 2-3 Field Artillery.

You can get more information about the movie, and even sign up for the movie's newsletter, at

It is, alas, not showing in Ohio yet, but here's the latest list of theaters:

Continue reading "New info about Gunners Palace" »

May 5, 2005

Taste in Music

Rosemary sucked me into this one:

Your Taste in Music:

Classic Rock: Highest Influence
Progressive Rock: Highest Influence
80's Rock: High Influence
Country: High Influence
Hair Bands: Medium Influence
90's Alternative: Low Influence

It's a pretty bad test, since it's weighted pretty heavily to post 1980 stuff, and even then the selections don't show an even ditribution. For example, there's only two country performers listed; forget how many people listen to country these days.

Emerson, Lake, and Palmer aren't listed, even though Yes and Floyd are. Where's Deep Purple? Where's Kiss? Ok, they're old, but Aerosmith is in there, as well as Floyd and Yes, and Yes hasn't done diddly since the 70s.

What about the Allman Brothers? They just released a new album a few months back!

The artists the should have included:

Continue reading "Taste in Music" »

May 22, 2005

Star Wars breaks movie record. Sort of.

The inimitable Joe Gandleman discusses the new Star Wars attendance record over at Dean' World, but I think he missed an important point.

The headlines read 'Star Wars' Breaks Single-Day Sales Mark

The Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith record should include a very large asterisk next to any entry into a book of records.

$16.5 million of that $50 million came from the special midnight early showing held across the nation on 2,900 screens, a little detail which isn't featured very prominently in news articles, although it is mentioned in passing near the bottom. What is also rarely mentioned is that the cinemas involved used every screen available for the midnight showing, not just one or two.

Now I can't say how many seats were in each theatre, but assuming $9 per ticket, I get: $16.5 million / $9 = 1,833,333 tickets, or 632 tickets per screen (rounded off).

In other words, nearly two million people were willing to go to that extra midnight showing.

Now. How many movies do you really think audiences will line up for in that manner? Seriously?

So let's take that $16.5 million off, and the result is $33.5 million for one day; very respectable, but hardly a record-breaker.

By the way, there's been a lot of fuss about a "political" comment near the end of the film: "Only a Sith thinks in absolutes!"

That's not the line. The actual line is "Only a Sith deals in absolutes!"

Now, I don't know if the critics all misheard that line in some sort of aural Rorschach test, or if Lucas changed it after the pre-release fuss from critics. Either way you can develop some interesting speculations...

June 4, 2005

Country or Blues

Or is that country and blues?

As is not unusual {g}, Dean got me to thinking when he started a thread discussing the close similarity between country and blues music.

What surprises me is that this is news to people. I suppose it's one of those "everyone knows" things; everyone knows that country and blues are really, really different.

There's some good stuff over there; Alan of The Yellow Line points out one of the roots of country: Irish folk music.

Country music can trace a lot of its roots back to Irish folk music. Many if the 19th century Irish immigrants ended up in New Orleans and then worked their way up the Mississippi into Tennessee and the surrounding areas. These immigrants often worked alongside blacks.

Continue reading "Country or Blues" »

July 15, 2005

Battlestar Galactica, the new download frontier...

Dean reminds us that the first episode of the second season will be shown in less than 24 hours...

Just lemme know where the torrents are. :)

You know, this show could be the Itunes of television. Me, I'm not going to fork out $40/month to see that one show -there's not that much on cable I want to see-, but I'd still love to watch Battlestar Galactica.

I certainly wouldn't mind forking over a couple bucks to pick up a digital capture of a given episode.

Continue reading "Battlestar Galactica, the new download frontier..." »

October 1, 2005

Blue-ray and HD-DVD: wave of the future, or already washed up?

Dean's World contributor Aziz P discusses the "fanatical bickering" ... of competitive DVD formats.

His final graf focuses content protection, and how it protects consumers:

I think [the debate between Blue-ray and HD-DVD is] important and affects us in a potentially greater way than did the VHS vs BetaMax standards battle of a few decades ago. Ultimately, content on these next-generation discs will have to tread a fine line between consumers' rights and content producers' need to protect their intellectual property. It is good that the debate is playing out in public, because the transparency will ensure that we consumers have a window into the process. After all, it's our hard-eaned cash that both consortiums plan to suck in the hope that we will replace our DVD collections for our personal home theater libraries. Stay tuned.

Continue reading "Blue-ray and HD-DVD: wave of the future, or already washed up?" »

June 18, 2006

One of God's producers

Jim Baen has been editing/producing excellent general SF and military SF for over twenty years, including Jerry Pournelle's series of anthologies; There Will Be War.

Today I found out (via Laughing Wolf at Blackfive) that Jim Baen has suffered a stroke.

I can't tell you how many truly excellent books I've read with which Jim Baen was involved. And even if you don't have a soft spot in your heart for the jarheads, squids, zoomies, and ground-pounders out there (and their stories), you should direct your attention to the work Baen has performed during his part of the DRM battle. To wit, the Baen Free Library.

Let us keep Jim Baen (and family) in our prayers.

November 11, 2006

Jack Palance rides off...

Long-time Western actor Jack Palance died yesterday at the age of 87.

A long-time veteran, Palance was one of Hollywood's unsung, underpinning performers, including a classic role in Shane. Alas, the Academy neglected to recognize his work until he won Best Supporting Actor for City Slickers in 1991.

Rest in peace, Jack, and enjoy that long ride across the enternal prarie...

August 10, 2008

Bernie Mac

Man. I just read that Bernie Mac died.

I can't recall the first movie I saw him; it was probably Booty Call. Next would have been Ocean's Eleven, then Bad Santa.

Aside from his excellent sequels in the Ocean's series, my favorite has to be his starring roll in Mr. 3000. Bernie played Stan Ross, a baseball player as talented as he was arrogant.

That was one of the best hooks of the movie; Stan really was that good, in his prime. The problem is that -after his early retirement, but before he's voted into the Hall of Fame- he finds out he didn't really get 3,000 hits. Worse yet, he's gone all soft and sloppy, and it truly hurts his pride that can't even get on base, once they allow him back.

It's not a "great" movie, but a good one, and Mac does a very good job of allowing Stan to oscillate between between the goals of become a good ballplayer again, vs. becoming a good human being for the first time.

I might not go along with his politics, but I respect ability as an actor and an entertainer. Godspeed, Bernie, and I hope you're enjoying yourself in the real hall of fame, upstairs.

October 2, 2008

Great fake bands from movies and TV

Ace links to a list: "20 Real-Cool Fake Bands from TV and Movies." The sad thing is that they included some really lame bands, and forgot several excellent ones.

First, as Ace points out, Eddie and the Cruisers didn't even make the list. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!?

Other great movie groups they missed:
-Wyld Styllyns (Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure)
-the Blues Brothers
-the Monkees (ok, they're TV)
-The Wonders (That Thing You Do)
-The Lone Rangers (Airheads)
-Suburban Funk (The New Guy)
-James "Thunder" Early and the Dreamettes (Dreamgirls)

... and my all-time personal favorite: The Commitments, from the movie of the same name.

November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day, 2008

This is the day I thank veterans I've known, met, heard about, or read their work.

So thank you to Baldilocks, John Donovan, Blackfive, CDR Salamander, Neptunus Lex, Greyhawk, and the rest. This includes sidekicks like Uncle Jimbo, Deebo, and company at B5, Dusty'n'Bill over at Castle Argghhh!!, and Mrs. G. at Mudville.

To all of you, to the men and women who have served before, or are serving now; thank you, and God bless you.

You are the sheepdogs who keep the wolves from the door,

In salute give you 3 Doors Down, and their magnificent Citizen Soldier. How many rock bands can quote the Soldier's Creed?

April 29, 2011

Atlas shrugged, and pulled a tendon.

The Vodkapundit watches Poliwood's take on the new movie Atlas Shrugged, and decides "Maybe I'll wait for the DVD."

There was one very telling comment about 8:30 in;

Righteous indignation & loud declamation belongs on talk shows. It doesn't belong on film.
If liberal Hollywood film-makers remembered that, we wouldn't have seen such terrible dogs like Lions for Lambs, Rendition, and Redacted.

August 3, 2011

Why I'm not happy with the new Red Tails trailer.

This began as a comment at Lex's place, but ... grew... So I moved it here. :)

I downloaded the hi-def version of the trailer, and it's 864x368. I can't say how much that affected the look of the CGI, but Lucas loves him some digital, so I expect the full version to be pretty good. It might even persuade me to buy a Blue-Ray player. :)

The Fortresses seemed to blow up pretty easily...

The Wiki article on the film includes this:

1944. World War II rages and the fate of the free world hangs in the balance.


As the war in Europe continues to take its dire toll on Allied forces, Pentagon brass has no recourse but to reconsider these under-utilized pilots for combat duty. Just as the young Tuskegee men are on the brink of being shut down and shipped back home, Col. A.J. Bullard (Terrence Howard) awards them the ultimate chance to prove their mettle high above. Undaunted by the prospect of providing safe escort to bombers in broad daylight -- a mission so dangerous that the RAF has refused it and the white fighter groups have sustained substantial losses -- Easy's pilots at last join the fiery aerial fray

(my emphasis)

If you watch the trailer carefully, you will catch comments to the effect that the white escort pilots were too busy hunting scalps to defend the bombers.

I know Lucas is historically ignorant (he considers the battle on Endor his metaphor for the Vietnam War) but that's just pathetic.

Continue reading "Why I'm not happy with the new Red Tails trailer." »

March 5, 2018

Death Wish cognitive dissonance.

I have for a while now noticed that for certain movies, the critics really loved it while the audience hated it, or vice versa. This happens for TV shows as well. Most critics panned "The Orville" but it got great ratings from actual viewers.

It's come to my attention a similar phenomenon has occurred with respect to the "Death Wish" remake which came out a couple of months ago. The Rotten Tomatoes scores are only 13% fresh from critics, but 86% fresh from audience reviews. What gives?

The NYTimes reviewer called it "an imbecilic misfire." The Variety review says "It's a first-person shooter fantasy." Vulture says "It's practically an NRA promo."

...Yet it's generated an 86% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Definitely some cognitive dissonance going on.

I have a sneaking suspicion the gun-control crowd should take this as the canary in the coal mine. Pushing for some sort of gun ban could blow up in their faces.

Just sayin'...

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