April 2013

One of the beautiful and haunting images from Sunrise.  Nothing to do with the script, but great to look at.

One of the beautiful and haunting images from Sunrise. Nothing to do with the script, but great to look at.

My Top 10:

  1. Sunrise
  2. 7th Heaven
  3. The Man Who Laughs
  4. The Love of Jeanne Ney
  5. The Cat and the Canary
  6. Tartuffe
  7. Sadie Thompson
  8. The Lodger
  9. Laugh Clown Laugh
  10. The Scarlet Letter (more…)

Revisiting Childhood Movies Part I

Greek Mythology meet the king of claymation effects - Ray Harryhausen

Greek Mythology meet the king of stop-motion effects – Ray Harryhausen

Clash of the Titans

  • Director:  Desmond Davis
  • Writer:  Beverly Cross
  • Producer:  Ray Harryhausen  /  Charles H. Schneer
  • Stars:  Harry Hamlin, Judy Bowker, Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, Burgess Meredith
  • Studio:  MGM
  • Award Nominations:  none from groups I track
  • Length:  118 min
  • Genre:  Fantasy
  • MPAA Rating:  PG
  • Release Date:  12 June 1981
  • Box Office Gross:  $41.09 mil  (#11  –  1981)
  • Ebert Rating:  ***.5
  • My Rating:  ***
  • My Rank:  #29  (year)
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  Visual Effects, Makeup
  • Nighthawk Points:  30
  • Nighthawk Notable:  Highest Attractiveness / Acting Ability Ratio
  • First Watched:  August 1981 at a drive-in in Fullerton, CA in a double feature with Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Number of Times Watched as a Kid:  @50 (more…)
Flash Gordon (1980) US DVD

Look forward to a review. It won’t be as complimentary as one from Seth MacFarlane would be.

Why, you ask, are you starting a new series when you just started two new ones and have barely done any?

Well, for two reasons.

The first is that I had this idea before I even started the two current series (Adapted Screenplay and the Nighthawk Awards) and I want to be able to parse it in at certain points.

The second is that those two series are taking an agonizingly long time to write.  So, along with the Great Reads, I want something to be appearing other than long stretches without posts.  Plus, these are easier to write, and so they can be popped out quicker than the other posts.

So what is this series?  Well, I want to go back and look at a certain group of films.  These are all films which I watched a lot and had opinions regarding before I ever started thinking critically about film, before I had a rating system, before I started writing down all the movies I had seen.  So, to qualify, these have to be films that I first saw before February of 1989, and preferably saw a lot before then.  So, for the most part, films from the early to mid 80’s; I can’t imagine anything released after 1987 will qualify.  They will also be films I haven’t already written about with a critical eye.  So, there won’t be new reviews of Star Wars and Raiders, because what’s the point of that.  Some of them will be films I loved as a kid (Battlestar Gallactica, say), some will be ones I didn’t love so much as a kid (Superman III, perhaps) and some will be ones I enjoyed when I was younger, but dropped my opinion considerably when looking at them from a more critical eye (see that poster up above, for example).  Some of them will be movies I haven’t seen in a really long time that I’ll be going back to (The Secret of Nimh comes to mind).  But I’ll be trying to look at them anew and I’ll be writing about them both in terms of what I thought as a kid and what I think now.  They’re not Oscar nominees and not **** films (probably – I don’t know for certain what I will write about, we’ll have to see how it goes).  They’re fun films from when I was a kid.

So, while I try to get back to finishing reading The Man Who Laughs and getting my post on 1927-28 done, next up will be the first RCM film: Clash of the Titans.

The wonderful debut novel out tomorrow.

The wonderful debut novel out now.

The Golem and the Jinni

  • Author:  Helene Wecker
  • Published:  23 Apr 2013
  • Publisher:  Harper
  • Pages:  496
  • First Line:  “The Golem’s life began in the hold of a steamship.” (more…)

14007_606590166026496_319586453_nSome idiotic State Senator from Arkansas who doesn’t deserve to have his name mentioned decided to tweet out yesterday, when my entire metro area was in lockdown, that us liberals are probably cowering wishing we had guns now.

We weren’t cowering because we don’t cower.  And we don’t wish we had any guns because we didn’t need them.  We stood back and let law enforcement do their job and they did it.  And as a result, we have a captured live suspect instead of a dead one.  For, as Richard Russo once wrote “He’d been shot at before and guessed that my mother wasn’t really trying to hit him, but those were precisely the situations that got you shot.  He knew from his experience overseas that if you only got shot by people aiming at you specifically, war wouldn’t have been nearly such a hazardous affair.”  Instead, we didn’t have to have any guns whatsoever.

But, aside from the gun issue, it was an insult to this city.  To my city.

I have strong feelings about living here and that was why I came back in 2005.  There are strong undercurrents of violence here – this is the kind of place where I have been threatened when crossing the street for daring to stop the light and be irritated when people don’t stop and I have been threatened by shoplifters as they were stealing things.  But there are great things here.  There are the ducks in the Boston Public Garden.  There is the bas-relief at the Common for the 54th.  There are my beloved sports teams, those teams that Chicago embraced on Tuesday morning because they showed the kindness of human compassion.

JAgd0Boston is both large and small.  There are well over a million people in the metro area.  So I didn’t know anyone who was directly hurt this week.  But, we are also a small place.  I worked at Copley Square for 3 years.  I have stood in that spot that was bombed, stood there on a Marathon Monday with my son, who is 8.  My favorite steak place is Jimmy’s Steer House in Arlington and I’m pretty sure Krystie Campbell was working the last time we went there.  I have one former co-worker who was friends with Sean Collier.  One current co-worker’s mother was having her house in Watertown searched when the police reacted to the shots last night.  None of this touched me directly and all of it did.

But I love where I live, for much the same reasons that Dennis Lehane does.  And I love that the people of this city came together yesterday and did what needs to be done and let those who needed to do their job do it.  And I love that Dunkin stayed open to give donuts to all the law enforcement.  And I marvel at the video I saw yesterday out someone’s window of the shots going off and one cop hearing it and sprinting towards it.  They did their job and we let them do it and now maybe we can get some answers.  And then we can all go on.

It has been both hard to live here, far from family, in a place where the people sometimes scare me.  But I also love to live here and think of all the mornings where, instead of getting out at Copley, I got out at Park Street and walked through the Common and the Gardens to work in the snow.  The Standells said it first, though the Dropkicks sing it better.

I love that dirty water

Boston you’re my home

Greed-notes-and-queries-v-007You can read more about this year in film here.  Since this is the pre-Oscar era, clearly there are no Best Picture reviews to link to.  So, without further ado, here are the initial Nighthawk Awards, covering the entire pre-Oscar era.  There are the categories, followed by all the films with their nominations, then the Globes, where I split the major awards by Drama and Comedy, followed by a few lists at the very end.  If there’s a film you expected to see and didn’t, check the very bottom.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:
  1. Greed
  2. The Battleship Potemkin
  3. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
  4. The Gold Rush
  5. The Phantom of the Opera

note:  A good year for films because there are so many.  The next five, in order, are The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Birth of a Nation, Faust, The Last Laugh and Foolish Wives and the **** films go all the way down to #16. (more…)

0415_crime-scene-perimeterUp above is the “crime scene” that is cordoned off.  If you look just to the right of the red box, at the big building on the north side of Boylston, that’s where I worked for most of 3 years.

My 8 year old wasn’t at the race.  He was already in Wisconsin for the week visiting his grands and great-grands.  And I am glad I decided to come home (since I had gotten up at 3 to drive them to the airport) and watch the finish of the race instead of going in like I have done before.

My initial Nighthawk Awards post was mostly done at 3:45, when I started getting concerned texts from friends asking if I was okay.  It’s still mostly done.  We’ll see how the rest of the week goes.

I have, as some of you may know, an overwhelming pathological fear of needles.  For those of you who don’t, on behalf of my city, I thank you for any blood you donate.

I grabbed this banner from altscreen.com.  They deserve credit, because it's awesome.

I grabbed this banner from altscreen.com. They deserve credit, because it’s awesome.

My Top 10 Adapted Screenplays:

  1. Greed  (1925)
  2. The Phantom of the Opera  (1925)
  3. The Hunchback of Notre Dame  (1923)
  4. Faust  (1926)
  5. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse  (1921)
  6. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  (1920)
  7. Ingeborg Holm  (1913)
  8. Oliver Twist  (1922)
  9. The Birth of a Nation  (1915)
  10. The Avenging Conscience  (1914) (more…)

So, having completed the Year in Film and The History of the Academy Awards: Best Picture series, this is what is coming up now.  I will be doing two different things.  Like with those two series, both will cover the same year, in back-to-back posts.

The first, in each year, will be Best Adapted Screenplay.  I had considered doing another history of the Academy Awards, focusing on the Best Adapted Screenplay category.  But I want to expand on that – dealing with films that were nominated by other groups (WGA, BAFTA, Globes, etc) as well as scripts that I feel were among the best and weren’t nominated by any groups.  But I won’t just talking about the films – but also the original source material and the adaptations.  So, I won’t be doing one on Original Screenplay – this is a combination of literature and film all at once.

This is why there hasn’t been a post yet – because the first one, covering the pre-Oscar years has been taking a long time. (more…)

Everybody's favorite librarian superhero gets her debut - drawn by Infantino.

Everybody’s favorite librarian superhero gets her debut – drawn by Infantino.

Yesterday, I rushed to put up a short piece on the death of Roger Ebert before I left work (I was in such a hurry that I initially got his year of birth wrong).  I never even got around to mentioning that in his autobiography he has a whole chapter on Steak & Shake (which I once read aloud to Veronica).  But what got lost in all the news of the death of Ebert (front page news everywhere, something written by so many people I read) was the death of Carmine Infantino, who was influencing me long before I ever knew who Roger Ebert was.

Carmine Infantino was a comic book artist – he began as an inker, eventually moving on to be the penciller and eventually became the publisher of DC Comics itself.  If you know comic books at all, he is one of the giants from its history.  And if you don’t know comic books at all, well you still probably have seen a lot of his work. (more…)

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