Category Archives: movie

Charade is Public Domain!

A bit of surprise, as it’s a more recent classic. I never noticed because all adults were old when you’re small, but features an aged Cary Grant with the iconic Audrey Hepburn. Like many classic movies you can find full versions on YouTube.

Although I’m not sure how copyright works with specific versions of movies as there are also lower resolution versions in places like the internet archive.


I signed up for MoviePass a couple weeks after arriving in Kansas City.  I initially had issues because

  • My Paypal account was Canadian
  • My US bank account had my Canadian address

At least I assume it was one or both of these things – unfortunately the signup just plain failed – it would get to the last page and not confirm payment. MoviePass’s customer support never got back to me.  I kept trying every couple of days and eventually I got signed up! Some notes:

  • You can connect to Facebook in the app.  This is nice, because every now and then the app logs you out and I’m getting tired of typing in my credentials.  You have to do it in the app – go to the menu “Profile”, submenu “Plan information”.
  • You can buy tickets in on the day in advance,  as long as you do it in person at the theatre.  I’ve been stopping on the way home,  buying a ticket,  getting groceries,  going home and having dinner before coming back for the movie.

Just today I got notice that there is a promo annual plan at $7 a month.  I signed up, with a bit of trepidation – the deal is solid,  my only worry is that MoviePass survives long enough for me to use it!  It’s a nice complement to streaming video though – I see the new things on the big screen and I can dig through classics and TV shows online.


I guess I’ve been spoiled by Disney “of yore” – I got to live through seeing great classics like the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin and they’ve set the bar for what I would consider a “Disney musical”.  Tangled aspires to that level,  but I feel that it misses the mark in a couple ways.  The songs are good,  but nothing catchy-happy-fun to hold your mind.  Plus, the story feels weak – characters feel a bit underdeveloped,  both in terms of backstory and in terms of their development together (true love,  less than 72 hours.  Really?!),  and the final showdowns wasn’t really much of a showdown.  A good ending,  but feels a bit forced – I wasn’t really convinced the hero was really that noble deep inside,  or that anyone would really help him out.

But it’s good lighthearted fun with a bit of music – not bad,  but so close to being something that much more special.

Currently Watching

Transitioning through a romantic (comedy) movie phase – hopefully this is pre-temporal compensation for crazy testosterone fueled Iron Man 2.  Still haven’t figured out how to find people to watch Avatar – I should do that before it’s off all the 3D theaters.  Currently plowing through “How I Met Your Mother” – not really so much about meeting the mother, it would seem,  but it’s definitely a solid rom-com-slash-sit-com.  Doing a lot of wrestling with the digital software acquisition – actually,  starting to seriously contemplate “monthly rental systems”.   Paying a fixed amount per month for “more candy than I can eat” is starting to sound very interesting.

Still working through my feelings about “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond,  and of course the mixed bag of movies I plowed through…We’ll see what happens about “regular blog updates” – probably about on  par with the “regular piano practice for my sister’s wedding”.  And then there’s going to be random travelling to Toronto…

Get Smart – Slapstick too far

Get Smart – with Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway – is good action and good comedy.  Oddly though,  it seems that both halves war a bit.

I’m a fan of the classic Get Smart,  so I was both excited and leery.  I’d read an interview which mentioned that Steve avoided the classic to avoid copying,  which is both honourable in terms of artistic integrity but disappointing in terms of reliving the “good old days”,  and hints a bit at laziness.  The movie can’t seem to make up its mind about Max Smart – he’s simultaneously brilliant yet incompetent.  The situations are funny, yet at the same time there’s almost no believability.  That’s not too bad,  since reality isn’t exactly a big point for the movie – it’s more about relaxed action and funny moments.

What’s most jarring however is the … experiment? … in a variation of slapstick comedy.  Whether intentionally or not,  there’s a lot of situations involving things that are so obviously painful that you can’t help but wince.  It’s like someone had the idea of slapstick but applied it somewhat incorrectly.  Slapstick,  when it’s people banging into things,  getting conked on the head,  works because the bumps and bruises can be laughed off.  Here, we’ve perhaps crossed the “uncanny valley” – the pain is too realistic,  too believable, that even though it’s obviously supposed to be funny,  your first reaction is to wince in sympathy.  That part definitely needs work.

The Agent 99 necessary romance was pretty rushed – it’s cute (or perhaps that’s just Anne Hathaway) but it feels more than a bit rushed.  Then again,  maybe I’m just getting old and jaded – true love in 48 hours seems a bit convenient 😉  And the weird love triangle that’s sprung later on?  Totally underdeveloped – almost tacked on really.

Definitely a good movie – just remember it’s a comedy and not to take any of it seriously,  and it’ll be a blast.

Wanted – Not so good Action

This came up on a top 10 action movie list.  The trailer looked pretty good,  so I thought I’d watch this instead of Wall-E,  to get a better action fix than QoS.

Big mistake.

Instead,  this reminds me that QoS is a pretty good action movie – this one is pretty bad.  It’s pretty much killed by the main character – it really doesn’t feel like he grows up,  even though they make some hand-waving attempts at it.  He never comes across as “professional”,  rather he always seems to be “kid in training”.   This makes it hard to accept how he quickly goes from “no experience” to “beginner”  then suddenly into “godly best-in-class”.  It may have worked for Neo,  but it fails here.  The action sequences are okay,  but this is another movie lacking a good climactic fight.  It’s a little sad when an action movie’s biggest fight scene passes you by… if you can mistake it for filler crescendo,  it’s not really that great a scene…

Quantum of Solace – Not a Bond

Despite the nifty title – I love how it actually uses quantum in a way that actually uses the meaning of quantum – and the fact that it was an pretty good action film,  I’m pretty convinced now that it’s a pretty dismal “Bond film”.  I can understand wanting to leave your mark on the Bond franchise,  but this film fits better as part of a different franchise – no real gadgets,  no big villain, a bit of an ordinary story.  Casino Royale,  while injecting a new style,  still had enough things that we could recognise it as Bond. Here,  Bond is a kinda ordinary spy – Greene may be part of an international conspiracy organisation,  but he seems no more than a bit player.  It kept feeling like there was going to be more,  but in the end Bond has another face-off against someone without weapons training.  Sadly,  the “gritty realistic” style seems to mean that there’s no satisfying climactic battles.  Wee,  you beat up a businessman.  Good for you, superspy.

It’s not to say that QoS is bad action – it’s a pretty good action-wise – but it really felt more like the pilot episode of a TV series.  Hints of bigger things,  but nothing much really happens.  Well,  maybe Bond gets his bit of solace – but ultimately,  nothing more than a side story.

Future of TV…is now

The “holy grail” in my mind of home television program delivery is true video-on-demand:  being able to watch any episode of any show at any time.  None of the “wait till it comes on” business,  or “oops I missed last week’s episode”,  and being able to get what you want to watch no slower than switching channels on TV.

I figured we were years and years away from something like this working.  Looks like the technology is already here, and already working.

What’s really made this possible is the existence of video content hosting services, like YouTube.  They showed us that low quality video can be delivered, with minimal lag.  We’re still a ways from DVD quality, but don’t scoff at the ability to watch something seconds after clicking on a link.   And the thing is, these sites tend to be so huge that all sorts of content gets lost in there.

What exists now is sites like TV Links. These take links to all sorts of video providers, and sort by categories like TV shows, movies, documentaries, anime … Sure, the quality sometimes is pretty low (but I’ve run into medium-quality anime in DivX format),  but you can be watching anything in seconds.  This makes it possible to grab previews of movies or shows you’re not sure you want to watch…

In my opinion, this is where cable technology should be headed…or really,  it should be there already.  People are worried about pirating, etc…I’m perfectly happy to sit through bits of commercial in the middle of my video if I’m getting the first bit “on-demand” – they ought to think of the first bit before the commercial break as a “preview”.  And piracy – really,  the cable company should hit the niche occupied by the library – offer everything.  Every episode, every season…if the quantity of data you’re offering is vastly more than anyone can store,  then they won’t be able to store it.  You could even impose a maximum bandwidth (say…twice as fast as a human can watch…) for video downloads. Stealing video seems kind of silly in this case – cable companies right now aren’t worried about people videotaping shows and passing them to friends. They worry about people stealing the physical cable connection.

This would easily beat out renting movies…or even buying movies.  If the connection is reliable,  why would you bother keeping hard copies if it’s just as fast to grab it off the network…and no need to hunt through your shelves?  Store a “personal collection” for every video box – basically, “bookmarks”…

I think the future has the HD version in the works, when we have ridiculously high bandwidth available.  But even now, I’m surprised we don’t have a “youtube quality” version…someone ought to grab the licenses for some big company’s ginormous video collection, and offer it at low quality for a cheap monthly subscription rate.

Cautionary Tale: Fatal Attraction

Just saw Fatal Attraction for the first time on DVD – family picked up a 3-pack including Minority Report and Catch me if you can.  I’ve seen the other two movies, so this was the big question mark, but I do remember hearing about it.   Although the villain is most assuredly more than a few screws short of fruitcake city – the other part involved in the situation is more than a little at fault.

This would make an excellent terrible wedding present for a groom.  Maybe as a warning from the father-in-law…

Movie Madness: Music and Lyrics

Random DVD rental movie pick from sister the younger — Music and Lyrics, starring unlikely couple Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. This was mostly a showdown with Because I Said So, and I am sincerely glad that the lady at the counter sided with this mostly fluffy funny piece. Sure, mother foisting date on daughter comedy could potentially be a recipe for success, but I’d rather not be caught in th middle should it happen to hit all the wrong notes with my mother and sister. Anyways, digressing from the topic.

Completely and totally by-the-book romantic comedy, comes with a ribbon-wrapped ending. Luckily, the key component — the funny bits and the sappy bits — seem to be reasonably well pulled together by the stars. I’m a big fan of witty dialogue, and Hugh Grant’s character delivers it in spades, non-stop funny gab through most of the movie. Drew Barrymore’s character seems less well realised — supposedly hypochondriacal neurotic, which starts of well but dries up by the middle. Writing lyrics turns her into an almost normal person by the middle-end of the movie, exposing the weakness of this movie — the last half ends up going standard formula, and the characters become a little too cookie cutter crisis/resolution. I miss the fun craziness of the first half, really.

(Theatrical Trailer)

Still, a hilarious movie that pokes fun at the music industry, with witty repartee that almost reaches the level of The Cutting Edge at times. I laughed more than once, and the movie never drags. What more can you want from a Hollywood Romantic Comedy(tm)?

And as a bonus — here’s the incredible 80s music video parody from the beginning of the movie. I think all the critics, whether they liked or disliked the movie, agreed that it was amazing. Ultra-cheese…PoP goes my heart indeed.

(PoP Goes My Heart – Parody 80s Music Video)