August 26, 2011

100 great movies

I don't expect to do any posting for the next few weeks, so rather than leave "The Lights of Zetar" at the top of my blog that whole time, here's this.

Starting in on Roger Ebert's first book of great movies has got me thinking, what 100 titles would I have picked as a collection of "The Great Movies" - trying to make a list that's objective and well-rounded, but still represents my favorites and my taste, all the while not putting too much thought into it.  It's an interesting exercise, and I recommend it for anyone trying to put off doing housework.

12 Angry Men, 1957
25th Hour, 2002
The Adventures of Robin Hood, 1938
Alien, 1979
All About Eve, 1950
Amélie, 2001
American Beauty, 1999
Anatomy of a Murder, 1959
Another Year, 2010
Back to the Future, 1985
The Big Lebowski, 1998
The Blues Brothers, 1980
Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1961
The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1957
Brief Encounter, 1945
Casablanca, 1942
Children of Men, 2006
A Christmas Story, 1983
The Circus, 1928
The Conversation, 1974
Cool Hand Luke, 1967
Dark City, 1998
The Dark Crystal, 1982
The Dark Knight, 2008
The Departed, 2006
Dog Day Afternoon, 1975
Dr. Strangelove, 1964
Dumbo, 1941
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004
The Exorcist, 1973
Fargo, 1996
Finding Nemo, 2003
First Blood, 1982
Frankenstein, 1931
The Godfather, 1972
The Grapes of Wrath, 1940
Harold and Maude, 1971
In Bruges, 2008
In the Heat of the Night, 1967
The Incredibles, 2004
Inglourious Basterds, 2009
Kill Bill, 2003-2004
King Kong, 1933
Labyrinth, 1986
The Last Temptation of Christ, 1988
Leone's Dollars trilogy, 1964-1966
M, 1931
Magnolia, 1999
The Maltese Falcon, 1941
The Manchurian Candidate, 1962
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, 1977
Mary and Max, 2009
Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 1975
Moon, 2009
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, 1939
The Muppet Movie, 1979
My Neighbor Totoro, 1988
Network, 1976
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1975
Planet of the Apes, 1968
The Princess Bride, 1987
Pulp Fiction, 1994
Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981
Rear Window, 1954
Rebecca, 1940
The Red Shoes, 1948
Reservoir Dogs, 1992
Rocky, 1976
Roshomon, 1950
Seven Samurai, 1954
Shadow of a Doubt, 1943
Sherlock Jr., 1924
The Shining, 1980
The Shop Around the Corner, 1940
The Silence of the Lambs, 1991
The Sixth Sense, 1999
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937
Stalag 17, 1953
Star Wars, 1977
Stangers on a Train, 1951
La Strada, 1954
Taxi Driver, 1976
The Thin Man, 1934
The Third Man, 1949
Time Bandits, 1981
To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962
Touch of Evil, 1958
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, 1948
True Grit, 2010
Twelve Monkeys, 1995
Up, 2009
Vertigo, 1958
Wall-E, 2008
Where the Wild Things Are, 2009
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, 1966
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, 1971
Winter's Bone, 2010
Witness for the Prosecution, 1957
The Wizard of Oz, 1939
Yojimbo, 1961

August 25, 2011

Star Trek: "The Lights of Zetar"

Title: Star Trek“The Lights of Zetar”
Year: 1969
Network: NBC
Episode: the eighteenth (of twenty-four) from season three; 50 minutes
Creator: Gene Roddenberry
Director: Herbert Kenwith
Writers: Jeremy Tarcher & Shari Lewis
Starring: William Shatner
With: Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Jan Shutan, James Doohan
Music: Alexander Courage
Cinematography: Al Francis
Editing: Donald R. Rode
I saw it: on video and TV several times, most recently yesterday (have on DVD)
Synopsis: Space Energy of Doom possesses a young science officer

My reaction
Concept:2/4 (Indifferent)
Story:1/4 (Bad) Sorry, but you forgot the scene in which it is explained how they know that pressure changes are deadly to beings of pure energy...
Characters:1/4 (Bad) Chicks dig patronizing harassment from their bosses.
Dialog:1/4 (Bad)
Pacing:2/4 (Indifferent)
Cinematography:2/4 (Indifferent)
Special effects/design:4/4 (Great) The alien voice is pretty cool.
Acting:2/4 (Indifferent)
Music:4/4 (Great)
Subjective Rating: 6/10 (Okay, 2/4 (Indifferent)). It might have been good, if only they'd figured out some way for it to make any sense.
Objective Rating (Average):2.1/4 (Okay)


Title: Deliverance
Year: 1972
Length: 110 minutes
Director: John Boorman
Writer: James Dickey, based on his novel
Starring: Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds
With: Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox, Ed Ramey, Billy Redden, Seamon Glass, Randall Deal, Bill McKinney, Herbert 'Cowboy' Coward, James Dickey, Macon McCalman
Music: Eric Weissberg & Steve Mandel
Cinematography: Vilmos Zsigmond
Editing: Tom Priestley
Oscars: nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Editing
I saw it: on video a few times, most recently yesterday (rented from Netflix)
Synopsis: four friends canoe into the wilderness of the deep south

My reaction
Concept:3/4 (Good)
Story:3/4 (Good)
Characters:3/4 (Good)
Dialog:3/4 (Good)
Pacing:4/4 (Great)
Cinematography:3/4 (Good)
Special effects/design:4/4 (Great)
Acting:3/4 (Good)
Music:4/4 (Great)
Subjective Rating: 6/10 (Okay, 2/4 (Indifferent)). Completely engrossing but too unpleasant to be enjoyable.
Objective Rating (Average):3.2/4 (Very good)

Star Trek: "That Which Survives"

Title: Star Trek“That Which Survives”
Year: 1969
Network: NBC
Episode: the seventeenth (of twenty-four) from season three; 50 minutes
Creator: Gene Roddenberry
Director: Herb Wallerstein
Writer: John Meredyth Lucas; story by D.C. Fontana
Starring: William Shatner
With: Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Lee Meriwether, James Doohan, George Takei
Music: Alexander Courage (theme); Fred Steiner
Cinematography: Al Francis
Editing: Fabien D. Tordjmann
I saw it: on video and TV several times, most recently a couple days ago (have on DVD)
Synopsis: haunted by a woman who is deadly to the touch

My reaction
Concept:1/4 (Bad)
Story:1/4 (Bad)
Characters:0/4 (Terrible)
Dialog:0/4 (Terrible)
Pacing:2/4 (Indifferent)
Cinematography:2/4 (Indifferent)
Special effects/design:4/4 (Great)
Acting:2/4 (Indifferent)
Music:4/4 (Great)
Subjective Rating: 3/10 (Bad, 1/4 (Bad)). There's hardly a single exchange in this whole episode in which someone - usually Kirk or Spock - doesn't bitch someone out. It's like the leads have been replaced by internet commenters. Sulu and Scotty can't get a word out without someone jumping down their throats to inform them that "actually, you're wrong about this little detail, and I'm smarter than you." Even if the story was good, it would still be too horrible to watch.
Objective Rating (Average):1.7/4 (Eh)

August 24, 2011

Doctor Who #55: Terror of the Autons

Title: Doctor Who“Terror of the Autons”
Year: 1971
Network: BBC
Episodes: 4, at 25 minutes each; the first story (of five) from season eight
Creators: Sydney Newman, C.E. Webber, Donald Wilson
Director: Barry Letts
Writer: Robert Holmes
Starring: Jon Pertwee
With: Nicholas Courtney, Roger Delgado, Katy Manning, Richard Franklin, John Levene, Michael Wisher, Harry Towb, Stephen Jack, Barbara Leake, Christopher Burgess, John Baskcomb
Music: Ron Grainer (theme); Dudley Simpson
Editing: Geoffrey Botterill
I saw it: on video (rented from Netflix), yesterday
Synopsis: The Master helps plastic-controlling aliens invade Earth

My reaction
Concept:3/4 (Good)
Story:1/4 (Bad)
Characters:3/4 (Good)
Dialog:3/4 (Good)
Pacing:2/4 (Indifferent)
Cinematography:0/4 (Terrible)
Special effects/design:1/4 (Bad)
Acting:2/4 (Indifferent)
Music:2/4 (Indifferent)
Subjective Rating: 6/10 (Okay, 2/4 (Indifferent)). The Master's introduction to the series. Sadly, the fact that he's a renegade Timelord has no relevence to the plot. If you could call it a plot. Apart from a handful of nice character moments, everything is done quite badly. But it's a campy sort of bad that's entertaining.
Objective Rating (Average):1.9/4 (Eh)


Title: "Carrotblanca"
Year: 1995
Length: 8 minutes
Director: Douglas McCarthy
Writers: Tim Cahill & Julie McNally Cahill
Starring: Greg Burson
With: Joe Alaskey, Bob Bergen, Maurice LaMarche, Tress MacNeille
Music: Richard Stone
I saw it: on video (Casablanca bonus feature), a couple days ago
Synopsis: Casablanca as performed by Looney Tunes characters

My reaction
Concept:2/4 (Indifferent)
Story:1/4 (Bad)
Characters:3/4 (Good)
Dialog:2/4 (Indifferent)
Pacing:2/4 (Indifferent)
Cinematography:2/4 (Indifferent)
Special effects/design:2/4 (Indifferent)
Acting:2/4 (Indifferent)
Music:3/4 (Good)
Subjective Rating: 6/10 (Okay, 2/4 (Indifferent)). It's basically the game of recasting the movie; there's nothing more to it. But I love that game (for instance, imagine your favorite TV show as Muppets), and they do a good job of it - although personally I think Marvin would have made a better Nazi than Yosemite Sam.
Objective Rating (Average):2.1/4 (Okay)