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The DVDs are Out There

I love movies, and I love watching movies on DVD in the comfort of my own home.  Here are some of the great DVDs I’ve watched recently:

Heist and State and Main — I’m in the midst of a sort of David Mamet retrospective, tearing through a number of his earlier works, many of which I haven’t seen in years!  I’ll be writing a more detailed piece about my journey into Mamet-world in a few weeks, so keep your eyes open for that.  Next up, I’ll be watching Spartan (which I’ve only seen once and am eager to revisit) and The Spanish Prisoner (possibly my favorite Mamet film after the incomparable Glengarry Glenn Ross.  “Will you go to lunch?!!”)

Wonder Boys — What a masterpiece.  Having just completed the summer of Robert Downey Jr. (in Iron Man and Tropic Thunder), it was a lot of fun to re-watch his magnificent turn in this film.  Tobey Maquire is also great, as a talented but rather messed-up youngster.  (Its sort of bizarre to watch Maguire and Downey Jr. in this film, having seen them together in one of the fake trailers that preceded Tropic Thunder.  If you’ve seen it, you know exactly which one I mean!)  The always terrific Frances McDormand is quietly touching as the university chancellor torn between two men.  But this film belongs to Michael Douglas.  He plays college professor Grady Tripp, a man who once wrote an extraordinarily successful first novel and has seen his life slowly crumble as he has struggled, over many many years, to write a follow-up.  Wonder Boys is a coming-of-age story — for Maguire’s character, and also for Douglas’ Grady.  Its a rare movie that can balance deep laughs and powerful poignancy, and Wonder Boys just nails it.  I give director Curtis Hanson a lot of credit for that, as well as Steve Kloves for the sharp screenplay.  This movie sits next to Igby Goes Down on my DVD shelf.  The two films have a lot of similarities, both in terms of tone as well as the themes explored.  If you’ve seen and enjoyed Wonder Boys but have never seen Igby, I encourage you to check it out.

City Slickers — Boy, I haven’t seen this movie in YEARS!  I remember going to see the sequel, The Legend of Curly’s Gold, in theatres when it came out and being so disappointed that I don’t think I ever watched the original again.  The film is a bit dated — its not quite as timeless as When Harry Met Sally — but it was a lot of fun to return to Billy Crystal’s little ode to suburban men looking … [continued]

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Familiar Faces

September 3rd, 2008
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Its always fun to be watching an old episode of a favorite TV show and spot a great guest star actor you’d never realized was there before.  This happened twice to me recently.  

I was watching an old episode from the first season of The X-Files called “Shapes.”  Its about cowboys, Indians, and werewolves.  Its a decent first season episode — solid, but nothing spectacular.  But, even though I’d seen this episode a few times before, I was startled to notice that one of the cowboys was played by Donnelly Rhodes, none other than Doc Cottle on Battlestar Galactica!  He looked totally different — in this X-Files episode he was all decked out in cowboy gear, with grey whiskers — but that gravelly voice was unmistakable.

The same thing happened only a day later.  I was watching an old Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode called “Shakaar.”  It’s a third season episode that introduces us to several of Kira’s old chums from the Bajoran resistance movement (including their leader, Shakaar).  In the course of this episode, Kira and her old mates wind up taking up arms again, and find themselves pursued by other Bajorans — lead by a tough general named Lenaris Holem.  Now, I’ve seen this episode many many times before — but not since having devoured all five seasons of The Wire last year.  And so it was with delight that I realized that General Lenaris was played by John Doman — Rawls himself!  (According to imdb, its one of his earliest film credits.)

Who knew?… [continued]

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News Around The Net

LOTS of fun stuff continuing to hit the interweb in this past week, after the San Diego Comic Con.  Check out these links:

Creepy new trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince can be found here!

Is the new Terminator movie going to be any good?  I doubt it.  But is this poster pretty cool?  Why it surely is.

Speaking of posters, some gorgeous new posters for the Watchmen movie can be seen here.

The entire hour-long Battlestar Galactica panel from Comic-Con (hosted by KEVIN SMITH!) is on-line here.

If you’re going to go see the next X-Files movie, this somewhat humorous recap of the final two rather lame seasons of the show can be found here.  Of course, the movie doesn’t deal with any of that stuff.  But its a fun trip down memory lane, as well as a reminder of why I haven’t rewatched any of the episodes from those final years of the show recently!

And finally, who better to sum up the entire Comic Con experience for those of us who couldn’t attend than Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.  He is merciless.

OK, that should keep you all off the streets for the next little while…… [continued]

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The X-Files 2: Still Out There

July 28th, 2008

One of the movies I’ve been most anticipating this summer, and also one of the movies I’ve been most concerned wouldn’t meet my expectations, is the long-awaited second X-Files feature film, The X-Files: I Want to Believe.

My father introduced me to The X-Files mid-way through the first season.  By my recollection, I was hooked pretty immediately.  I quickly became an enormous fan of the show, and I have fond memories of catching a midnight showing of the first X-Files movie (which was titled Fight the Future on all the posters, although that title did not appear in the opening of the movie itself even though that phrase was used throughout the film).  That first film was disappointing in that it was marketed as delivering the answers to many of the long-standing questions of the show, which it most certainly did not.  However, the film also in many ways encapsulated everything that was great about the show (the Mulder/Scully dynamic, the cigarette smoking man and government conspiracies, aliens, chases, explosions, creepy meetings with shadowy people in dark alleyways, etc. etc. etc.), while also really amping things up to a movie-level: the chases were more exciting, the aliens more violent and dangerous, the visual effects more elaborate, and more.  Its definitely a film that I have watched and enjoyed many times since.  That movie’s release was, in many ways the high-point of the show.  It was followed by two very strong seasons (the 6th and 7th), and then two fairly mediocre seasons (the 8th and 9th, which were almost completely without Mulder).  The show ended, at least for me, in a very lousy way.  I recall finding the two-hour finale, “The Truth,” to be incomprehensible and, even worse, something the show NEVER had been for me before — a total bore.

So now, years later, the launch of a new X-Files movie gave me a lot of hope of a return to the glory days of the show.  When Chris Carter announced that this film would be a “stand-alone” monster story, not tied to the show’s labyrinthine conspiracy stories, I had mixed emotions.  I liked the idea of jettisoning a lot of the complex baggage that had weighed down the series in its final years — and yet, I really LOVED the so-called “mythology” episodes of the show, and wasn’t sure a movie not dealing with any of those stories would be worth anyone’s interest.

So, what did I think?

Well…its mediocre.

(I’m going to try to stay clear of spoilers in the below review, but I suppose that anyone who wants to see the movie without knowing anything about it should probably come back to this posting only after … [continued]

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