Saturday, March 29, 2014

Catching up

It's been over a month since I last posted.  Mostly, I've been upset over the recent heartbreaking news that the San Diego Opera is being forced to close its doors due to financial trouble after 49 years.  This is their last season.  I've been a season ticket holder for several years now, and they have consistently put on the best operas, with the best casts that I've seen in the Southern California area.  They were always well worth the long drive down for an evening.  This news comes after finding out the LA Opera will not be putting on a single opera I'm interested in attending next season.  After going to a record number of live operas in one season this last year between San Diego and Los Angeles, it looks like the doldrums lie ahead.  Right when there has been an influx of fabulous singers, after a very long dearth of any singers to care about.  At least there's still the Met HD broadcasts, and movie theater broadcasts from the Royal Opera House, etc.  Those will have to tide my family over until we find out what the 2015/16 local opera season holds.

As for movies, I've seen two new, two old in the theater.  I caught Monuments Men and Pompeii.  Really enjoyed both.  Monuments Men was beautifully filmed, and as a fan of the era, it was great to see all the uniforms, vehicles, and European locations on the big screen.  I'm not particularly a fan of any of the actors in it, but they all were great in their roles, and I ended up caring for the characters.  The story was entertaining, non-stressful, and well-worth the time to see it big screen.   

Pompeii, on the other hand, was just plain fun.  I went in expecting Romans, gladiator fights, and a volcano bringing massive destruction, and it delivered exactly that and more.  I wasn't expecting Keifer Sutherland to turn up as a nasty, vile Roman senator (I hadn't read the credits beforehand), and he looked like he was having loads of fun in his role as a bad guy.  Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje played my favorite character in the movie, Atticus, a gladiator with only one fight to go before he earns his freedom.  He was great.  The rest, as, as I said, fun.  Lots of destruction, lots of fights, no pretensions, and I even got a chariot chase!  I'd probably see both these in the theater again, if there weren't so many other movies coming out.

I also caught The Great Escape on the big screen.  Sadly, the quality of this viewing was pretty terrible.  I took this in at the Phoenix Big Cinemas, where I've been catching most of the big screen classic viewings lately.  This one was very dark, washed out, colorless from the very opening through the end.  Ugh.  One of the things I love most about this movie is how green the grass is when Steve McQueen is fleeing on his motorcycle, and how blue the sky is.  And the scenery when James Garner is trying to pilot his plane to safety... Alas, I had to go home and put my own DVD on to get a glimpse of better color.  Very disappointing.  But despite that, it is still The Great Escape, and you just can't go wrong with the this movie.  It's one of my favorite WWII movies, and I've seen it many times on television or DVD.  I never tire of it.  The cast is perfect, the scenery lovely, and the story is exciting.  To my surprise, quite a few of the other audience members had never seen it, so there were some great reaction comments that made me grin.  That made up a bit for the lack of screening quality.

I also had one longstanding question answered.  I have always wondered what Hilts (Steve McQueen) is doing with his sweatshirt collar after he's crashed into the barbed wire at the end.  On the big screen, I could finally see that he's showing the Germans his captain's bars, which are pinned to the inside.  Ah-hah!  So happy to have that mystery answered.  It was always just too small to make out on a television set.

Today, I caught Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom there.  Much better screening than Great Escape.  No color or brightness issues, etc.  I've been wanting to see this one on the big screen again ever since my last big screen viewing was rudely interrupted and I missed my favorite part.  I have to admit, since we had an earthquake yesterday, I half expected another one today to disrupt things, but nope, the ground stayed quiescent, and the viewing was great.  (Just felt an earthquake here at home... hah!  How's that for funny timing?  Aftershock, I'm sure, much smaller than yesterday's.)

On the soundtrack front, thank goodness for Danny Elfman!  I've been listening pretty much non-stop to his delightful score for Mr. Peabody & Sherman.  (He continues to deliver quality scores, movie after movie, in a world now dominated by generic, unmemorable, wall-of-sound action scores.  My favorite score of 2013 (Epic) was also his. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

3 Days to Kill (2014)

While there's this Kevin Costner resurgence, I'm going to take advantage of it!  I went and caught a matinee of this one this last weekend and found a different movie from what I was expecting, and I liked that a lot.  This is not a serious action movie, more of a black comedy with some action.  The world's future is not at stake (thank goodness, that's getting oh so very very very old), in fact the mission is quite small in the scheme of things.  The movie is more about Ethan, Costner's character, reconnecting with his daughter and estranged wife.

There will be minor spoilers below...

When I walked out, I was thinking of all the things critics could tear apart about this film, but I think they're exactly all the things I liked.  Let's get the one thing I didn't like out of the way: Amber Heard's character.  I like the actress, but her character here and her character's actions made little sense.  At the beginning of the film, we have a whole team to take down the Albino (one of the bad guys).  After that, *poof,* no team, sketchy intel, no backup, no nothing.  just Heard's character ordering Ethan around while driving fast cars.  (Although I liked the last shot of her in the film.) Fortunately, she's a small part of it, and I just shrugged it off and went with it.

The rest I liked a lot.  There's several specific things that really appealed to me.

1.  Credits in the beginning of the movie.  Seriously, wonderful, glorious beginning credits.  I almost applauded.  I can't even name the last movie I saw that had opening credits, but I really really have missed them.

2.  Straight-forward plot.  This might sound weird, but I've gotten quite sick of scripts that over-use plot twists, deception, characters who aren't who them seem, etc. in order to keep the audience guessing.  This happens more in television, but everything seems to have been trying to one-up themselves, so there's been more and more of this, at the expense of the actual story.  This movie was such a relief to watch.  The bad guys were bad guys, the good guys were good guys, no one was not who they claimed to be.  No lies, no deception, just a story moving from point A to point B.

3.  It was a non-stressful movie.  That doesn't mean it wasn't exciting, because it was, and had some great action sequences.  But it wasn't stressful, which is a different thing entirely.  I'm not sure whether this is because the movie did have that comedic edge so the tension was diffused, if it was because I just trusted Kevin Costner, or if it was because the stakes were lower, but whatever it was, I was relaxed the whole film and never once got stressed out or worried.  Since my primary goal when I go to the movies is to escape reality and be entertained, movies that stress me out are NOT escape.  (This is one of many reasons why horror will never be a genre I seek out.) 

4.  This movie kind of felt like it was made back in the late 80's/early 90's.  It had a different, more relaxed feel to it, sort of a throwback.  Hard to explain and this probably sounds really weird, but it was, well, rather comforting.  The pacing of this film was also not frenetic as current action films tend to be.  It took its time with the characters and Paris scenery.

5.  Kevin Costner.  Loved him in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, loved him even more here.  I just really enjoyed watching his character the whole movie.  Likeable, competent, and still handsome.  I just dig him to pieces.

I have not gone looking for reviews of this, but it's the type of film that usually gets bashed by critics for being predictable, or cliche, or whatever is the movie flaw of the month.  It's not going to appeal to everyone, but it gave me a genuine good two hours of escape, and despite its flaws, I love it for that.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Midnight Club (1933)

Randomly, I checked youtube for new stuff and found a George Raft movie I hadn't seen.

Midnight Club is a fun little visit into the world of aristocratic jewel thieves in London.  The titular Midnight Club functions as a hide-out/base of operations for Colin Grant (Clive Brook) and his gang.  This movie makes thievery into a gentleman's game, and everyone is oh-so-polite throughout.  He and the rest of his gang have employed a set of doubles (the same actors in some beautiful split screen work that does not look like split screen).  The doubles will sit in plain view at their table in the Midnight Club, setting up a perfect alibi, while the real gang goes out and steals jewels.  Commissioner Hope (Guy Standing) knows Grant is guilty, but he simply can't find a way to prove it.  No matter what he does, who he has watched, Grant's beautiful little setup thwarts the good guys.

Enter George Raft, as Nick Mason, an American detective brought over to infiltrate Grant's gang.  Yes!  He's playing a good guy, which I quite enjoyed.  Of course his job is complicated when he falls for the girl, Iris (Helen Vinson).

The fun of this film is mostly just watching the good guys and bad guys sparring with each other in a verbal cat-and-mouse.  The commissioner knows Grant is guilty, Grant knows he knows it and is delightfully smug in the fact that the commissioner will never figure out his secret.  They remain oh-so-polite and friendly to each other throughout, which is quite refreshing.  There's a wee bit of violence at the end when Grant finally cottons on to the fact that Raft isn't who he says he is, but it's short (too short, lol.)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

I've been really bad about posting anything lately.  Sorry  about that, just unmotivated and have other things on my mind.  Also have not been watching many movies lately.  Television series, yes, but not many movies.

I actually made it to the theater today to see the new Jack Ryan movie.  I read most of the books when they came out.  The Hunt for Red October, of course, had to do with submarines, so I read that one pretty much right after it hit the bookstores back in the 80's, and before the movie came out.  That hooked me, and I kept reading until Executive Orders.  That was the last Tom Clancy book I read.  Patriot Games and Cardinal of the Kremlin are my favorite of the Jack Ryan books.  The Hunt for Red October is my favorite of the movies made so far.  Absolutely love that movie.  Great cast, great score, great fun.  The filmed version of Patriot Games ranks in the other direction.  Hated that movie.  Still do.  I think it is my least favorite book-to-screen translation of all time, and that's pretty hard to do, particularly when I love the actors.  Although, I will freely admit, as much as I love Harrison Ford, he never worked as Jack Ryan for me.  I saw each of his Jack Ryan movies once in the theater... and have avoided them ever since.  I saw the Sum of all Fears film a few years ago and did like that one.  Not as good as Red October, but better than the Ford films.

Which brings me to the current film.  I found it quite enjoyable, (though nothing particularly special), and am glad I saw it on the big screen. The biggest draw on this one, for me, was the cast.  I am a huge, unabashed Kevin Costner fan. I first saw him in The Untouchables (which is one of the films I saw a jillion times in the theater when it was first released).  That movie introduced me to Kevin Costner and Andy Garcia, with Sean Connery's steady performance as a bonus.  After that, I looked for any movie Costner was in.  And I adored him in this movie. His character, Harper, was likeable, protective, and capable and it was a joy to see Costner both in a role like this and on the big screen again.  He really made the movie for me.   Ahhhh, Kevin Costner, how I've missed you.

Right behind him was Kenneth Branagh, who also directed this movie.  He played the bad guy, and he was nicely creepy and cold and a bit smirky.  He was delightful, and I was equally glad to see him on the big screen again.  I'm probably showing my age that I went to see this movie for Costner and Branagh, not the young guys and gals. 

Not to knock Chris Pine.  He was really good and I would definitely watch him as Jack Ryan again.  Liked him far better here than as Kirk (no surprise there, given how much I loathe the Star Trek reboot movies).  He would be my second favorite Ryan behind Alec Baldwin.  Kiera Knightly as Cathy was also very likeable and I have no problems with her either.  They made a great team, and I loved the dinner scene between Branagh and Kiera.

I was also really REALLY delighted to see Mikhail Baryshnikov show up in an uncredited role.   I loved White Nights and always wished he'd done more acting.  He made me grin and grin.

I do have to admit, I sort of didn't pay much attention to the details of the story.  Unusual for me, plot-lover that I am, but really, whenever the characters started talking about secret accounts and plans to crash the dollar... well, I hate economics, hate stock market stuff, and so... yeah, I tuned out.  There were some nice action sequences and fights.  My favorite was the attack on Ryan in the hotel room, which just really worked well for me.

One of the things I loved most about this movie was the fact that the rest of the CIA (and FBI) was not portrayed as stupid just to make Jack Ryan appear smarter.  There are movies and television shows that suffer from this type of bad writing, and it drives me crazy.  This movie, I'm delighted to say, was the opposite.  Harper and his team, the agents back home, etc. are all smart, efficient, and supportive.  They all do their jobs and they're all at the top of their game.  I can't tell you how much I loved that.  Jack Ryan is able to do his job, only because that phenomenal team is behind him feeding him intel and running interference, etc.  What a breath of fresh air!  I loved Harper's whole team in Russia.  They rocked.  And I love how Ryan is stunned and amazed that the CIA could clean up and restore his room after it's destroyed.  And having them smart and quick-thinking did nothing to take away from Ryan's own analytical skills.  It complemented and enhanced it instead.

I'm rather sad to say that Patrick Doyle's score was quite serviceable, but unmemorable.  I was really hoping it would be something I'd want to rush out and buy on CD, as I'm a big fan of his, but alas, no.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

 My first classic film on the big screen this year is The Adventures of Robin Hood.

I was a bit sad that I was the only one in the theater, though.  Granted it's a 10 am matinee, but still.  Just me?  For a great, rousing classic movie like Robin Hood?  I haven't much to say about it that hasn't been said by others.  The film is thoroughly enjoyable and was, of course, even better on the big screen.  Love those sword fights. Love the colors and Maid Marian's costumes really look fabulous up close.  You can pick out details in the fabrics, etc.  I'm particularly fond of the gown she wears to the archery tournament.  The white fading into the blue is just exquisite.  I may have had a private screening, but I wouldn't have missed it.

2014 has not started out well for me, so I apologize for the absence.  Hopefully things will improve.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to the movies I go

2013 was a banner year for theater-going for me.  I've been keeping my ticket stubs in a book, and it appears I went to the movie theater 38 times in 2013!  I think that's more than the previous 5 years' theater outings combined!  Four of those were to see operas.  Seven were older movies, fourteen were new movies released in 2013.  And if those don't add up to 38, that's because a few of those movies were seen multiple times.  LOL. 

My favorite viewing in 2013 of a classic film was It's a Wonderful Life, which I saw just last weekend.  I had never seen it before on the big screen, and it was perfect, with a great appreciative audience.  It was also I think the only movie of the entire year that had the volume set at a level that didn't require me to wear my earplugs.  That was soooooo nice, I can't even tell you.  (As opposed to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which required two trips to the lobby just to get them to lower the volume to a point where I didn't have to have my hands over my ears WITH earplugs already in.)

I find it interesting that in both 2012 and 2013, I saw both Raiders of the Lost Ark and Lawrence of Arabia on the big screen.  Wouldn't mind if that became a tradition each year!  Although, I might end up with two Lawrence viewings this year, as it's playing this coming weekend... and in a film print, not a digital.  It's also playing in January, though, so I may just wait for the new year and not try to deal with holiday traffic.

So, what were my favorite new films of 2013?

1. The Lone Ranger (by a long shot)
2. Epic
3. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
4. Jack the Giant Slayer
5. ??

I can't actually pick a fifth favorite movie of the year.  The first four are the ones I bought immediately on DVD when they came out.  I'm not sure I'm going to be buying any of the other movies I saw in 2013, though I will happily watch them whenever they come on.  I liked several movies with about the same level of affection.  They were all very entertaining, but they didn't quite hit my personal sweet spots to push them up into favorites.  Those would include Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Frozen, Planes, The Great Gatsby.  But I can't really pick one above another.  Probably the Hobbit out of those, but I need to see it a second time first.

Least favorite movie of 2013, of course, was Star Trek: Into Darkness

And there is so much to look forward in the next year.  The Phoenix Big Cinemas will be showing The Adventures of Robin Hood in January, and I cannot wait to see that on the big screen.  I'm looking forward to finding out what other classic movies they'll select the rest of the year.

As for new movies coming out next year that I'm aware of, I'm looking forward to the new Captain America movie, Transcendence, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, The Monument's Men, Maleficent, the third Expendables movie, and, of course, the final Hobbit.  I'm sure there will be other films as well.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Favorite Christmas movies

This December is flying by!   I have my tree up and most of my decorations, although it's been raining, so I have not been able to put up the outdoor lights yet.  To celebrate the season, here's a list of my top ten favorite Christmas movies.

1. It's a Wonderful Life (1946) - just a perfect movie, regardless of the season.  The whole cast shines, and I bawl every single time I see this movie.  The Phoenix Big Theaters are showing this one all next weekend, and I'm planning on going.  I haven't seen this on the big screen and I can't wait.

2. We're No Angels (1955) - Hamlette introduce me to this film a few years ago and it became an instant favorite.  I'd never seen it previously because it starred Humphey Bogart and my mom was not a fan, so we tended to not watch anything he was in. This movie is very sweet, and very funny.  Another one where the whole cast is perfect.

3. Donovan's Reef (1963) - This movie is definitely a product of its time, but I still love it.  Mostly I just love Lee Marvin and John Wayne together, and not as enemies.  Their traditional birthday brawl cracks me up.  Lee Marvin's train cracks me up.  I love the Hawaiian on-location scenery.  I love Jack Warden, and I love how funny this movie is.

4. Holiday Inn (1942) - I love Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby in this, love the Irving Berlin music, with, of course, the classic "White Christmas" song.

5. Babes in Toyland (1934) - one of the movies I grew up with.  One of my favorite Laurel and Hardy full length films.  Really love Bo Peep and Tom-Tom.  They're so cute together.  And I love the wooden soldiers and how they save the day.  The bogeymen were quite scary when I was young.  Still find them a bit creepy!  We used to make pee wees and smack them around.  They never came back though, like Laurel's does.  Hmph.

6. The Bishop's Wife (1947) - Is there anything more wonderful and Christmas-y then Cary Grant's angel decorating that Christmas tree?  Always one of my favorite Christmas images, and every Christmas, I can't wait to see this movie, just to get to that moment.  This is also one of my favorite Cary Grant movies.

7. Miracle on 34th Street (1947) - I saw this movie for the first time last year, and really loved it.  Loved Maureen O'Hara and John Payne, and loved how the trial turned out.

8. White Christmas (1954) - I love this one mostly for the ending, which makes me cry every time.  Great cast here, too.

9. The Polar Express (2004) - this one is on the list more from familiarity than anything else.  Have seen this one a jillion and one time because my nephew loves it, and it's grown on me.  It's got some great parts, and some weird parts, but ends really well.  Watching my nephew sing along with the little girl in one part makes this movie special to me.

10. Joyeux Noel (2005) - the WWI drama of the true story of the truce on Christmas.  A wonderful movie, so touching and beautiful, even more so because it is depicting real events.  One of the few WWI movies that doesn't leave me plunged into despair at the end. 

And no Christmas movie list would be complete without a bonus mention of my favorite non-Christmas movie set during Christmas:  Die Hard.  One of the best action movies ever, and the Christmas setting is integral to the plot and to some of the best parts of the film.  I tend to watch it at least once every Christmas season.  "Oh the weather outside is frightful... da-de-da, de-da delightful."

DVD giveaway at Hamlette's Solioquy

In honor of Pearl Harbor day today, Hamlette is offering a copy of "The Best Years of Our Lives" on her blog.  Go here to enter.  The drawing is open until Dec 13th.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Living Daylights (1987)

This is a very solid movie.  I have no complaints about it, but neither do I have any spectacular enthusiasm for it either, other than I absolutely love Timothy Dalton as Bond.  I’m not quite sure why this film isn’t up on my favorites list, but it never quite hits my personal buttons.  Maybe because it plays it safe?  But I find it, nonetheless, to be one of the better Bond films and highly entertaining.  

Timothy Dalton.  I love Timothy Dalton as Bond.  Let me rephrase that.  I LOVE Timothy Dalton as Bond.  Until Daniel Craig came along, Dalton was pretty much my favorite.  Looks, action, mannerisms... he fulfills my requirements for Bond very nicely.  And he is very easy on the eyes.  I would have been quite happy if he had made a whole slew of Bond movies.  Alas, there are only two.  That’s a shame, in my opinion.  Dalton’s Bond loses the tongue-in-cheek humor of Moore’s Bond.  Nor is his Bond like Connery’s Bond either.  He’s more about the job, a bit colder and professional... all things I personally love.

I like Maryam d’Abo as our lead Bond girl, Kara... but again, no real enthusiasm for her.  She’s does what the movie requires, but nothing more.  Kara’s in that rather rare “nice Bond girl” category, motivated simply by love for Koskov.  She’s not out to kill anyone, or steal anything, or gain anything.  Bond uses her na├»ve love to get what information he can out of her.  I always kind of liked that.  I like when Bond’s doing his job and there are personal costs.  

I like Koskov, played by Jeroen Krabbe, as well.  He’s a rather charming bad guy, who is not one of the typical supervillains who came before him.  I think he suits this movie well, but he is perhaps a bit too nonthreatening, in the long run.

And to make up for his charm, there’s his henchman, Necros, who is loyal, icy, and destructive (what you want in your henchman, really).  He’s pretty cool.  One of my favorite scenes in this movie does not involve Bond at all.  It’s the fight in the kitchen between Necros and another capable British agent who tries to stop Necros.  It’s a darned good fight, and I’m always rather amused that that entire scene has nothing to do with Bond.

I also love Art Malik as Kamran Shah.  My favorite character after Bond in this movie.  He’s very engaging.  I love when we meet him in jail, and I love his laugh when Bond frees him.  And then I love how serious he is after he’s cleaned up and back with his people.

I like the plot (defecting Russian generals, arms dealers, opium... all a bit more normal and nice after the earthquake plot of A View to a Kill), but again, it never quite hits the things I like best.  No complaints, just nothing that knocks my socks off.

Favorite scenes:  The explosive device in Bpnd's key chain activated by the wolf whistle.  Love it!  Koskov’s escape at high speed through the pipeline.  The fight between the agent and Necros in the kitchen.  The fact that Kara is a classical musician.  When Bond gets drugged.  Bond on a horse.  The spectacular no-CGI fight between Bond and Necros on the cargo plane.  Dalton, Dalton, Dalton.

Music:  Love it.  I still play this John Barry score an awful lot, more than probably any other of his
Theme song:  Love it... I was quite fond of A-Ha during that time period, and this is one of my favorite of the Bond theme songs
Credit sequence:  Okay
Bond girl:  No complaints, but no real love for Kara either.
Bad guys:  I’m quite fond of Koskov and Necros.  Not so fond of Whitaker, who just needs to be taken down.
Overall personal rating:  3 of 5 stars

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wrapping up September

My apologies, I am so behind!  I have all kinds of movies to review that I just haven't yet.  Midnight Club with George Raft, The Iron Mistress with Alan Ladd, The Liquidator with Rod Taylor, a bunch of newer movies as well.  And I made the mistake of checking my drafts... wow, do I have quite a few abandoned movie review posts in there.

But it's officially autumn, my favorite season of the year.  It's finally cooling off in the evenings.  The last few days have been the first days since May that it was cool enough outside for me to leave my front door open all day long.  It's cool enough that I can finally walk my dog again in the evening without his paws burning up on the asphalt.  Yay!

It's also the official start of opera season, and I'm too revved up about that to write movie reviews.  The Met kicked off its season a few nights ago with Eugene Onegin, which will be broadcast in the movie theaters on October 5th, and I can't wait.  Handsome baritone Mariusz Kwieicen in the title role, Piotr Beczala as Lensky, and Anna Netrebko as Tatiana.  I saw Eugene Onegin for the first time earlier this year with my favorite baritone, Simon Keenlyside in it, and loved it.  It was neat to discover a new-to-me opera that was that enjoyable.  I'm very curious to see this version.  That's the cool thing about operas.  It's always fascinating to see the different staging and what singers do differently.  Simon plays cold very well, and Mariusz tends to be warmer, so I wonder how that will change Onegin's character?

And here at home, the LA Opera season just got underway with Carmen.  I'll be seeing that live soon and am very much looking forward to seeing Ildebrando D'Arcangelo again.  And bass-baritone Bryn Terfel is coming to Santa Monica for a concert!  Woo!  I would love to hear him sing the catalog song from Don Giovanni live, but unless he does it as an encore, it's not on his program.  Sigh.  Something to look forward to in the future.

So, movie reviews are coming, but as my love for opera trumps my love for movies, it might be another few days.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Tolkien Blog Party of Special Magnificence

Hamlette from The Edge of the Precipice is hosting a Lord of the Rings blog party and, because I love the Lord of the Rings, I thought it'd be fun to join in!  There are some AMAZING giveaways being offered, so if you are a fan of the books, movies, or both, check it out and join in the fun!  To start things off, there are ten questions to start with:

1.  Have you read The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit? If so, how many times?
Twice all the way through the trilogy.  I've read Fellowship by itself, and parts of all three at various times.

2.  Have you seen any movies based on them?
But, of course.  Fellowship was seen fifteen or more times in the theater when it came out.  The other two, only twice each on the big screen.  A couple times each on DVD since then.  It is very difficult for me to watch Fellowship on the small screen.  The other films I'm not that attached to, nor do I have their images memorized big screen, so I'm okay with watching those on DVD.

3.  Who first introduced you to Middle Earth?
A friend, back in college.

4.  Who are your three favorite characters?  (Feel free to elaborate on whys.)
1) Boromir, 2) Aragorn, 3) Sam.  Those were my favorites the first time I read the books, and they stayed my favorites through the movies, in that order.  Eowyn would be my fourth favorite, but only in the books.  She is awesome in the books.  However, I am not a fan of Eowyn in the movies.  I dislike her so much, that she nearly ruins Two Towers and Return of the King movies for me.

5.  What's your favorite Middle Earth location?
Favorite... er... what kind of favorite?  Favorite to visit for a restful vacation?  (Rivendell)  Favorite place I pictured from reading the books?  (Rohan)  Favorite place for sheer beauty that I want to go to every time I see the movie?  That I wait expectantly through the movie for the whole five seconds of viewing?  (That would be the gorgeous above-treeline mountains and stream area Aragorn splashes through, after they leave Moria, right before they get a view of Lothlorien.  In all of the movies, at least, it is my absolute favorite place.  This place:

My second favorite place I want to go to would be to where Aragorn and Brego get that sweeping, panoramic view when he arrives at Helms Deep in The Two Towers.)

6.  If you could belong to one of the races of Free Folk (Men, Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, Ents), which would you choose?
Men, specifically I want to be a Ranger.

7.  Would you rather eat lembas or taters? 
Lembas.  Taters I can get any time.  But lembas bread?  Yes, please.

8.  If you lived in Middle Earth, what weapon would you prefer wielding?
Give me my sword and a knife, please, and preferably a bow and arrows as well.  One weapon is simply insufficient in Middle Earth.

9.  What draws you to Tolkien's stories?  (The characters, the quests, the themes, the worlds, etc.)
I like just about everything about the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  The characters, the plot, themes, the locations, the adventure and suspense.  I love both books and movies, and the differences between them.  And, of course, I want to be multiple characters in the Lord of the Rings, and that guarantees a book/movie will be a favorite. 

10. List up to five of your favorite lines/quotes from the books or movies.
Only five?  LOL!

"One does not simply walk into Mordor.  Its black gates are guarded by more than just orcs.  There is evil there that does not sleep, and the great eye is ever watchful.  It is a barren wasteland, riddled with fire and ash and dust.  The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume.  Not with ten thousand men could you do this.  It is folly."

"They're taking the hobbits to Isengard." (Mostly because of that cursed video which will now be stuck in my head, yet again, for the next week :-D )

"They have a cave troll."

"Move your feet."

"What is this new devilry?"

Monday, September 02, 2013

With the click of a button

Recently, I was having a conversation with a good friend about watching movies.  It came up that she likes to put on a DVD of a favorite movie she’s seen a lot and jump to the end, or the "good" parts, (or however you want to refer to those favorite scenes we all have).

I usually cannot do that.  What makes the end or finale or the “good parts” of a movie good, for me, is the build up to get there.  The anticipation.  The emotional journey.  To just jump straight to the end, with no lead in... well, then I have nothing invested, even if I know very well what happens to reach that point.  The scene won’t have any impact if I just jump there with the press of a button on my DVD player.  My friend said she jumps to the end because that is the best part, the part she's most invested in, and it is the part she most wants to repeat.

I’ve tried skipping to the end of various movies... and it just doesn’t work for me.  I guess I’m one of those long-term viewers.  When I watch something, I commit to it.  Which is why I’d always much rather see movies in the theater.  Why I often go alone so I don’t have to deal with someone else’s comments or movements (gigantic pet peeve:  people who put their feet up on the chairs in front of them.  I HATE THAT!!!!) or other such rubbish.  I usually sit fairly close to the screen, for two reasons – 1) I don’t want to see see heads or people getting up and moving around – all that takes me out of the movie, and 2) I want to be in the movie, and sitting closer lets the screen dominate my sight.

When I watch a movie, I am not here any longer.  I’m there, in the movie with the characters.  That’s why I go to the movies in the first place.

I think jumping to a favorite scene on a DVD makes me feel like a viewer not a participant in the film.  And that is not something I enjoy.  It breaks films into bits.  Films are not bits.  They’re one two-hour journey.  They're an arc from start to finish.  The rainbow without the storm that came before it is a pretty enough sight, but it is not earned.

There are exceptions, of course.  If I have no emotional investment in a film, then I'm okay with jumping anywhere in it... but if I have no emotional investment, it's not a favorite anyway.  But I can't think of one movie I truly love where I'd want to jump to the end without watching the entire thing, or where I've tried it and the end worked for me stand-alone.

I'll add that individual movie scenes can be the same way for me.  I was looking for one specific scene on youtube from a movie I recently watched.  (The idea being that if it were there, I wouldn't have to buy the DVD just so I can watch that one scene again.)  I found the last 16 seconds of it.  And gee, it doesn't work for me, not without the two minutes leading up to that last 16 seconds.  Same principle.  I guess I'm just not an end result person.

I figure I must be in the minority on this.  But then, given how many times I will go back to see a movie I love in the theater, this is not a surprise.  LOL!