Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 1- Favourite foreign film

Before 1970: Metropolis (1927)

First saw this one in film class back in college and loved the imagery and story. It's stayed in my head ever since. I'd like to see it again now that there's a new restored version out.

Post 1970: Joyeux Noel (2005)

This film was recommended by a live journal friend, and I'm so glad I opted to pick it up. WWI movie, but finally one that wasn't thoroughly depressing where every character I loved died. It's a very powerful and beautiful film, depicting hope for humanity against the backdrop of one of the most terrible wars. I simply loved it.

Something different

I don't go in much for horror. Not my cup of tea. But I recently ended up watching some anyway. Funny how that happens!

First there was Rosemary's Baby. I wanted to see this one mostly because John Cassavetes was in it. Unfortunately, this was a couple months ago now, and I forgot to write it up at the the time, so I've lost most of the impressions and comments I wanted to write down about it. I remember it felt long though it didn't lose my interest, was creepy in a few sections (the telephone booth!), John Cassavetes had some great lines, Mia Farrow is just plain strange. The supporting actors, particularly Ruth Gordon and Patsy Kelly, were hilarious... and creepy. I know I'm never eating chocolate mousse again unless I make it myself! LOL! The ending grew on me after I thought about it later.

This week, I watched remake of The Omen, and then the original again. I'd seen the original a long time ago, and watching the remake I kept thinking, doesn't this happen just like this in the original? So then I had to watch the original again to confirm. Remakes seem to fall into a couple different categories, and this one was basically a replica of the original, just with a different cast. So imagine my great surprise, when I found I actually rather liked the remake! Not something I ever expected to do, but parts of it worked really well, in some ways better than the original, in others, not so much.

The best part of the original (besides Jerry Goldsmith's score) is Gregory Peck. What makes the movie work so well is that he's one of the last actors you expect to find in a horror film. He's so upstanding and solid. But that's also exactly what the movie needs. You need a hero who doubts what he's being told until he has the proof himself. And hearing Gregory Peck shaking with rage and affrontry when he says "He wants me to murder a child!" Well, nobody does that kind of verbal anger better than Gregory Peck.

Lee Remick is also perfect as his wife, she has that fragile edge that just fits. The remake has Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles. I really liked Liev, but Julia Stiles seemed miscast. I like her a lot as an actress, but not in this film. She seemed far too young, and lacking... something. Not quite sure what.

From a casting aspect, I have to admit... the remake has the most delightfully brilliant bit of casting, putting Mia Farrow in as Mrs. Baylock. It's just too perfect, after her turn in Rosemary's Baby! I really am not fond of her, but she was just perfect and I genuinely liked her in it. The strawberry scene.... eeeeeeek! Freaky.

I think, ideally, I'd like a combo of the two versions. Combine the cast: Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, but David Thewlis and Mia Farrow. Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore David Warner... and he's great as Jennings, but I liked the vulnerability of David Thewlis better. As for Damien, the original kid is far more creepy, though I had no problems with the second one either.

The new movie has a long winded beginning that really needs to go. I'd definitely keep the original's opening and cut to the chase... but I like the new movie's finale better. The way Liev played it really got to me, made it more emotional and personal. The cemetery scene in the original is vastly superior. The new one wimped out there. And as for the deaths... well both movies are just about equally gruesome, so either works -- with the exception of (SPOILERS!!!! highlight to read) Mrs. Thorn's death in the hospital. The new movie made that scene truly and utterly frightening, so I'd take that version.

For the score, obviously, I'll take Goldsmith's score any day, though the remake wasn't bad, particularly as it pulled in a couple themes from the original in places, and the Ave Satani made a welcome, albeit short, appearance in the end credits. (And I know it probably sounds weird, it being horror and all, but that song will get stuck in my head for damned near weeks at a time. Like now.)

I also watched Damien: Omen II, which I had only seen the first half of before. It's a waste of time. It simply repeats the plot of the first film -- adoptive parents discover they're raising the anti-christ -- and does nothing new with it. Been there, done that, folks, what's the point here? It could not have been more predictable, and they clearly have no idea what to actually do with Damien. Very shoddy world-building. The one idea that would have made it interesting (Damien's genuine friendship with Mark) doesn't go anywhere. The bad guys supporting Damien do nothing, the good guys do nothing, the people who know the truth are all incapable-of-speaking-coherently raving lunes who have no idea how to actually tell anybody what they've found out, and the entire film seems just an excuse to kill people in new and exotically gruesome manners. No, thank you. This middle movie just needs to vanish, even if William Holden is in it. Speaking of which, the actors were all fine in this film (love Leo McKern and Sylvia Sidney!), they were just given nothing interesting to do. Quite a shame, actually, as it could have been a good movie if they'd tried something original.

And I think that's enough horror films for me for awhile.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Continued memery

Wow, these 30-day memes are popping up everywhere! This one is more than appropriate for this journal, and some of the prompts are going to be hard. For this one, I'm going to pick two films for each... one movie made before 1970, one made 1970 to present. Coming up shortly:

Day 1- Favourite foreign film
Day 2- Most underrated film
Day 3- A film that makes you happy
Day 4- A film that makes you sad
Day 5- Favourite love story in a film
Day 6- Favourite actor/actress
Day 7- The best plot twist/ending
Day 8- The best opening/closing credits
Day 9- The best soundtrack/score to a film
Day 10- Favourite classic film
Day 11- A film that you hate
Day 12- A film that changed your opinion about something
Day 13- A guilty pleasure
Day 14- A film that you used to love but now hate
Day 15- Favourite film sequel
Day 16- Film character you relate to the most
Day 17- Favourite film quote
Day 18- A film that you wish more people had seen
Day 19- The most hilarious film you've seen
Day 20- A film you wish someone would make
Day 21- Favourite film from your favourite actor/actress
Day 22- Favourite documentary
Day 23- Favourite animated film
Day 24- Favourite film based on a book/comic/etc.
Day 25- Favourite film villain
Day 26- A film that you love but everyone else hates
Day 27- A film you wish you had seen in theatres
Day 28- Favourite film from your favourite director
Day 29- Favourite film from your childhood
Day 30- Your favourite film of all time

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"He knows, Doctor. He knows."

Day 30 - Saddest character death

Woops, just realized I never posted this last prompt before I went on vacation. A bit delayed, but...

I was dreading this prompt, because I don't really have one (though I'm tempted to say Tosh and Owen in Torchwood, even though I've never even seen one episode of the show... watching a ten minute clip of their deaths that tillane posted had me crying!).

This is going to sound weird, but character deaths aren't particularly sad when they work. My brain's been running around and around trying to find a death I was truly sad over, that broke my heart or whatever. I can name TV character deaths I cried over, but they weren't actually sad... which leaves me exactly nowhere. The closest I've been able to think of is Data's "daughter," Lal, in "The Offspring" (ST:TNG).

So, I'm changing the subject slightly to best character death instead of saddest. Which for me just has to be Edith Keeler in the original Star Trek episode, "City at the Edge of Forever." You know she has to die from early on in the ep. History must be set straight... but to watch Kirk let her die after we've had a whole episode to grow to like/love her, to watch Kirk and Spock and McCoy's reactions... it's one of the most powerful television deaths because of it's inevitability, the emotional toll on the characters, and the sort-of twist that a genuinely good person with visions for a peaceful future must die in order for the world to come out right. It's no wonder it's one of the best Star Trek episodes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Day 28 - First TV show obsession

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, of course. Only , it wasn't just me, it was a family obsession! We made up games, my mom created a gigantic trivia book, we had stills and picture, we all wrote stories, we had costumes, we taped episodes and listened to them, she transcribed the best eps into script form so we could read them, we quoted lines, we had a flying sub model...

Yeah, my whole childhood and up through my teen years was basically spent involved in some aspect or another of that show.

Day 29 - Current TV show obsession

Don't really have one nowadays. There's nothing I just have to watch. Instead, I seem to just have a whole slew of favorite older shows that I'm comfortable with and turn to when I need a TV fix.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Over my head

I belong to a book club, and we've been reading classics that we somehow missed in high school and college. Given that I was an English/creative writing major, it always surprises me what I missed. We just finished reading A Farewell to Arms. It's my first Hemingway novel. I've read a few short stories, but nothing longer. I owned The Old Man in the Sea, but could never get anywhere in it when I was a teenager.

A Farewell to Arms is a very easy read, but for me it was... odd. Endless descriptions of countryside that doesn't come into play in the story. And what's up with the bizarre repetitious dialogue? I swear, if that chick says she'll make him a good wife one more time, darling, I'll shoot her myself. I never could connect to a single character, because I never saw anything recognizable in any of them that I could latch onto, and I don't do well with books where I can't get emotionally involved. Call it a casualty of growing up on opera... I need to care and care deeply. And besides, the heroine was nuttier than Kirby's mother's fruitcake. What the heck did our hero see in her? Their whole love story baffled me. I literally sat there sometimes, brow wrinkled, wondering if these characters were supposed to be for real. And then the book just sort of peters out and ends... I think I'm just far too straight-forward and literal for a book like this. And as usual with something classic and highly praised that I don't get... it makes me feel stupid. Like clearly, I've missed the genius that's obvious to the rest of the world, and I'm the dolt in the corner with the dunce cap. (Poetry is the main literary offender in making me feel stupid. I just don't get poetry. But famous authors will sometimes make me go away and hide my tears of shame too.)

Speaking of opera, my favorite parts were whenever opera was mentioned. I loved the little bits about the tenor trying to get an engagement to sing at la Scala, and having chairs thrown at him during performances. Now that I buy! And I liked Rinaldi probably the best of the characters. I perked up watching the Italian army come apart at the seams during its retreat, gruesome as it was. Finally, some plot kicked in! But I simply never could engage enough with the hero and his loony-tune nurse to care about them.

I am slightly curious to see one of the movie versions, just to see if they're any more engaging. Despite all that, I'm really glad I finally got to sample a Hemingway novel. But as of now, Hemingway is not an author who meshes with my needs as a reader.

You ask for miracles, I give you the FBI

Day 27 - Best pilot episode

Well now... this is a hard one. My first instinct is to say the pilot ep of Earth 2, but that's mostly because of the fabulous end shot of Tim Curry on a hillside in his awesome getup with that great long hair, smiling with sly malice, watching our intrepid heroes cross below him. It wouldn't matter what else happened in that premiere, that's what I remember most after... how many years now since I last saw it? And because it's Tim Curry, there's so much evil promise in that simple ending that I was completely hooked. Add in Clancy Brown as one of the regulars, and this show's premiere did completely hook me when it aired.

For best "new" show, I'm going to go with Lost. I may not have watched beyond the first season, but they did have a doozy of a premiere episode. It jumped in in the middle, neatly introduced people and the situation, wasn't loaded with a ton of boring exposition to set up the rest of the eps. It made great promises, and that's what I want out of a premiere.

For best older show, Route 66 hooked me with it's first ep and made me an instant fan. I expected some light and got the exact opposite. Instead there's a nasty little town with secrets they're willing to kill to protect. I got to see the two leads in action right off the bat, with no wasted time or energy.

(My favorite pilot, as opposed to best, would be the first episode of Highlander, because of how neatly it used Connor to transition things over to Duncan. "Same clan, different vintage." It also featured a very fun sword fight between the two that I will never tire of watching, and some great snappy dialog. The bad guy, unfortunately, was beyond cheesy, and that prevents this from reaching a "best" list.)

You can't leave us hanging like that

Day 26 - OMG WTF? Season finale

I don't really have a good one. The only ones I can think that made me go "whaaaaa---?" were the ones for shows that ended up being canceled and so the cliffhanger season finales were left hanging forever. Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years is one such. I reallllllly wanted to know what was going to happen next. And if I recall, Earth 2 and Nowhere Man also left us hanging. I loved all three series, and they all died an untimely death. But I don't consider them truly OMG WTF season finales.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 25 - A show you plan on watching (old or new)

Well, I'm currently re-watching Highlander, though I started on Season 4, because I own seasons 4 and 5 on DVD, but not the rest. I've finished off Season 4 and am now on disc 3 in Season 5. Trying to watch an ep every couple days on that one.

I'm also waiting for more season 3 of Route 66 to show up from Netflix, though it looks like their discs have all gone weirdly astray and are no longer available.

I'm also re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer from start to finish. Up to the middle of Season 2 on that one.

Still working slowly through Have Gun-Will Travel as well. Not in a hurry there because I don't want to run out of new episodes anytime soon.

When The Tudors season 4 comes out on DVD, I plan to watch that.

And if the powers that be ever decide to release the rest of The Big Valley, I will snap that up on the spot. I mean come on, leaving off in the middle of season 2?? Dudes, get the rest of the series released!

Lookng for something to say?

Day 24 - Best quote

Not going with "best" here, as I'm not sure how to define best. Going instead with most quoted television line of all time in my family. That's from I Love Lucy, spoken by Jay Novello in.... er... I have no idea what the episode is called, but it's the one about numerology where he says:

"We're all odd, aren't we!"

Yeah, we quote that. A lot.
Day 23 - Most annoying character

I'm stuck on this question too. Oh sure, I can think of a ton of annoying characters on tv... the entire cast of Seinfeld comes to mind. Steve Carrell on The Office. Basically, any show I can't stand is on the "I loathe this series" list mostly because it's full of annoying characters. But as I don't watch those shows, I don't think it's fair to list them as most annoying character. I also am assuming this day's prompt is referring to a regular character, and not a guest star. Problem is, I like the characters on the shows I watch. I wouldn't watch the show if someone annoyed me. And fortunately, when there is a truly annoying character on a show that I like (Tasha Yar!), the series politely kills them off before I have too much time to complain.

But I guess, speaking of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I'll have to list Dr. Crusher as my most annoying character. I like Wesley and Deanna Troi better, and that's saying something. I just don't like her. Every other doctor on Star Trek was cool. She was just... well, annoying. And when her hair cut went all lopsided, it bugged me even more. Give me Pulaski, or Bashir or the Doctor on Voyager, or of course McCoy.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"Heroes make good presidents."

Day 22 - Favorite series finale

You know, I was thinking about this... and having trouble even remembering series finales. I'm just not pulling up any in my brain. Also, older series did not particularly have a series finale in the way we tend to think of them today. The shows just sort of trailed off with an episode like any other.

So, I've been reviewing my favorite shows, contemplating their season finales, and they're all a bit fuzzy or they were nothing I really held onto in the "wow, great ep" category. Which leads me to the only one that's not, because I recently re-watched it -- twice, and so I'm going to go with it. It was the two-part ep "High Treason" from The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.

It stands out to me because I think it was the best ep of the entire series. All the semi-regulars returned with the exception of Dixie (I don't mind Dixie, really I don't, but I'd also rather she not be there...). But Pete, Whip, Viva, Prof. Wickwire are all there and they're all amusing as hell. Pete and Viva arguing in jail over who designed the cell. Pete:
"I scoff at your moronic interpretation of hoosegow architecture." The hilarious dialogue subtitles for one of the side characters. Terry Bradshaw and the football jokes. Pete and his bible. Pete and his crossbow with the dynamite. Pete and Tiny. Okay, yeah, Pete Hutter is still the funniest character in the show. "High Treason" showed the series truly finding its legs, settling in on what the audience really loved about it. It was a serious story with a bunch of wackiness that grew naturally from the circumstances. And it was the last ep. Grrrr. This is why it needed another season so badly.

It also wasn't a "true" series finale in that nothing was wrapped up, nothing "ended," it was just a rousingly good show that promised more. But right now, it's the series finale I remember most.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

My kingdom for a ship

Day 21 - Favorite ship

Well, that's an easy one. There aren't that many ships, and really, the coolest, bestest, neatest of them all is the TARDIS. I mean, come on! It's small on the outside, gigantic on the inside. Travels through time and space. As much as I love the Enterprise... if she wants to travel through time, she has to slingshot around the sun, and that's just pesky. Besides, you can't land her anywhere you want. And Seaview, while an awesome submarine... and has even left the confines of the oceans (watch out for the creatures from Venus), just can't do what the TARDIS can. So, Tillane, that's one more we agree on! :-D

And I'll take K-9 too!

Where do we go from here?

Day 20 - Favorite kiss

Oh dear. In a TV series?? I can't even think of a kiss, let alone have a favorite one. Okay, then, I'm going to go with the only kiss I can actually remember, and it wins by default...

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The end of "Once More With Feeling"... Buffy and Spike.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

"Warp speed, Mr. Sulu."

Day 19 - Best TV show cast

Okay, this is an impossible question. All my favorite tv show have awesome casts. They all took their characters and made them their own, and if you replaced a single one, it wouldn't be the same show.

But, for the sake of argument... I need to pick one. I'm going to go with the original Star Trek. They were perfection. And come on. The show runs three seasons, dies a horrible network-induced death... and lived on. Spawned a jillion movies, new series. That kind of longevity is not just because there were some great episodes in there. It's because that particular cast worked so well together on screen. Gene Roddenberry created the world, but those actors gave it life and breath. So, they get my vote for the best TV show cast.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Trains and dames

Day 18 - Favorite title sequence

The Wild Wild West!

From the second season on, that is. He doesn't get to punch the girl in the first season and it's not as good without that moment. Has the catchiest theme song, and the coolest visuals. Perfectly represents the series. Simply the Best Television Title Sequence Ever!

"I promised her rings for her fingers..."

Day 17 - Favorite mini series

That would be Shogun, which I can't believe came out thirty years ago!! I was twelve, and I still remember waiting anxiously for each part to air to find out what happened. I was completely entranced by the setting, the characters, the plot. I loved learning little bits of Japanese as Blackthorne did. I loved Mariko. I loved the cultural differences, the history, the samurai, and Orson Welles narrating. I loved Toshiro Mifune as Toranaga. The mini-series would not be half as powerful without him. It was such a beautiful mini-series, filmed in Japan, with gorgeous costumes and scenery. I loved the theme. Most of the plot even stayed with me over the years, which I can't say of other mini-series we watched back in the '80s, like the interminable (at the time - my opinion may be different now) Winds of War. When Shogun came out on DVD, I bought it immediately. I watched it again and found I loved it even more than I had as a kid. It held up just fine. Definitely everything a mini-series should be.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

New music!

Wow. Am I in complete love with James Newton Howard's soundtrack to The Last Airbender! Not a movie I'm remotely interested in seeing, but boy howdy, I cannot stop playing the score. I think it just might be my new top favorite by him. I love that there is at least still have one composer who can really turn out great music, whose scores I'll buy sound unheard, because I trust him to deliver. I don't think he's disappointed me yet.

These questions are getting harder

Day 16 - Your guilty pleasure show

Hm. I'm not sure how to answer this one. I don't really have a guilty pleasure show. Perhaps, Time Tunnel, which is really bad and cheesy and makes me roll my eyes, but I'll still watch it if it comes on? But guilty pleasure implies seeking it out to enjoy it... and I don't seek out Time Tunnel, nor do I own it on DVD or have any intention of owning it, nor do I particularly feel embarrassed watching it, bad as it is, so the guilt factor is lacking. So... not so much an answer. Hm.

I suppose I'll settle on Queen of Swords, a short-lived series that came out in 2000 (that long ago????) about, basically, a female version of Zorro. It wasn't actually bad though, you just had to suspend your disbelief. I mean, come on, since when do lace masks guarantee anonymity, particularly for a woman?? But there were some really well-written eps in there, and the rest were all better than average. And, of course, it had Peter Wingfield and Valentine Pelka in it, and I adore both actors so much it wouldn't matter what they're doing.When they're together... even better. I originally watched the show for them, but the female actors ended up winning me over too, particularly Paulina Galvez as Marta. She was awesome. I wish I could see her in more things. Queen of Swords was fun and entertaining and full of eye candy. Hm, so I guess this show isn't an answer either, as I'm not feeling any guilt for loving it.

If this show ever comes out on DVD, I will snap it up. Alas, I don't think it ever will. Too small and forgotten. Sigh.

(Of course, it was also hard not to see this as an odd sort of off-shoot of Highlander, with Peter Wingfield's character of Dr. Helm simply being one of Methos's aliases over the years. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you. There can never be too much Methos or Peter Wingfield in the world.)

Friday, July 02, 2010

The ladies of televsion

Day 15 - Favorite female character

So, I'm going to list two here. They're actually very similar. They're both the "secondary" lead female on their respective shows. And where I love the titular lead on both shows, neither particularly has a series arc. Oh sure, all kinds of things happen to them, and they do change and mature and deepen, but they're still doing the same job they started out in. Whereas the secondary characters grew by leaps and bounds in all kinds of other ways. And I absolutely love and respect that about both of them.

I'm referring to Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Gabrielle on Xena: Warrior Princess.

Both start out naive and a bit mousy and, while they both had funny dialog, there wasn't much to them. They usually needed rescuing. But only very early on. And then they grew. Boy, how they grew, and in all kinds of ways. You kind of have to watch both series really to watch the progression, but it was lovely. Willow had Oz, then Tara, discovered she was a witch, became hugely powerful, flipped out and went to the dark side. I mean she goes from a cute nobody to someone you do not want to mess with. And she gets all the emotional arcs to go with it.

Same with Gabrielle. A farm girl who wants to be a bard and go on adventures, and who gets far more than she bargains on when she hooks up with Xena. She evolves over the seasons into a more than capable warrior in her own right (much as Willow evolves as a witch). She also gets quite a bit of tragedy and emotional growth along the way (ie: Hope, among other things) right up to the very end of the series.

(There's all kinds of character parallels between the two shows, really, now that I think about it. Buffy/Xena, Xander/Joxer, Spike/Autolycus, Angel/Ares, and Willow/Gabrielle. How interesting!)