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July 17, 2009

The Lady Eve

Jean Harrington and her father Handsome Harry are professional gamblers working the Southern Queen and taking rich idiots for a ride. That is, until Jean meets Charles "Hopsy" Pike, heir to the Pike Ale fortune and falls in love.

Him, too.

And, its all going swimmingly until Hopsy's overprotective man-nanny/body guard outs her as a professional gambler and breaks his heart. Hopsy then breaks Jean's heart. Time passes and Jean is presented with an opportunity to reacquaint herself with Hopsy as the Lady Eve Sidwich. Of course she takes it. She's plotting revenge.

So, that's the basic premise of the story. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Girl is given a way to get back at boy (with whom she is still secretly in love) and she takes it. Really hilarious revenge scene ensues. Boy runs boldly back into the arms of girl not even caring that she's totally played him.

While The Lady Eve is not one of Henry Fonda or Barbara Stanwyck's best, its a pretty good boy meets girl comedy and I did find it entertaining.

July 10, 2009


My cat is a bit of a mouser. Or, he would be if I lived some place where there was an infestation of mice. As it is, he has to make do with the occasional mosquito that zooms in after me when I come in from the street or the spider that thinks my place is where she should set up her place. Because he is so good at this, when he pounces on something I usually cheer him on. I feel its good for his morale, knowing that I value his contribution to our living arrangement.

Last night, he hopped up onto the bed and started purring which is usually a sign that I do not yet get to sleep because someone has not gotten his requisite number of belly rubs. He came into my line of vision and normally he flops over and closes his eyes and just relaxes. This time, however, he immediately went into a crouch and then he launched himself at my pillow.

Of course, I didn't know what to do. Should I sit up? Would that be helpful? What if my movement is what allows the bug to escape? What if it escapes and its a mosquito and I get the West Nile virus because I didn't just stay still and let Cooper kill it? So, I did what I normally do. I cheered him on! "Go on, Cooper! Kill it! Good boy!" And, then I felt a pull on my hair and immediately sat bolt upright and properly freaked out. "Oh God! Its in my hair! Its in my hair! What is it?!?! Gahhh!!" And, I look at Cooper, who is watching me quizzically but intently and I realize there was no bug. Cooper wasn't hunting, he was playing. With my hair.

July 07, 2009

Waltz with Bashir

There are things in my Netflix queue that are honestly there because I was watching an awards show or reading a list of winners and just added things to my queue. That is how Vals Im Bashir got into my queue. All I remember about this addition to the list was that it was award winning and about a war. Maybe. I was expecting it to be brutal. Just not in the way that is was.

Writer/Director Ari Folman interviewed other veterans from the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon in order to help him fill in the gaps in his memory. As he tells a friend of his early on in the CGI film, "Its just not recorded into my system." He has a dream that seems to be about something that happened to him in the war and in order to put it together he discusses with other veterans their experiences of what happened. The film is a series of mini-stories, each one representing a memory of another veteran, all of them leading up to a comparison between things that happened during that war to other past atrocities and the suggestion that one might not be able to remember something because they don't want to admit to a role (even a minor one) that they may have played in it.

This film was shocking and a little heartbreaking. It wasn't a complete history of the events of the invasion of Lebanon; it wasn't comprehensive in its discussion what happened and why, but I think it is a pretty good chronicle of what some of the soldiers on the Israeli side went through and felt and how that has since effected their lives.

And, this might seem like an unfair or inappropriate comparison, but it reminded me a little of the Blind Spot, in that we take part in these things and we don't think about their consequences and then later we sit down and unravel some of what has happened and are presented with a picture that is dark and of which we are baffled, angered, upset and ashamed. I am happy that this movie was CGI animation and not live action, because it was difficult enough to sit through as it is. I think that a live action film would have cut into the film's ability to get the message across.

This is a good film and I'm glad I watched it. But, it was heart-breaking and there may have been tears (I admit to nothing).

July 05, 2009

The Devil's Backbone

I've had in the past month or so a mini Guillermo Del Toro Fest. El Espinazo del Diablo is a film about ghosts, gold, growing up, falling in love and standing up for yourself. Its, I think, the first of Del Toro's films set during the Spanish civil war in which the main characters are children. In this film, Carlos is brought to an orphanage away from the front where he meets Jaime and the other orphans that have been taken in and cared for by head mistress Carmen, Conchita and the Doctor.

Of course, the orphanage is also home to its full complement of secrets including but not limited to the unexploded bomb in the court yard and a ghost of a former resident. This film pretty embodied many of the things that make excellent children's literature excellent. Things like the difference between adults and kids and the power of fear. But, even so, this is still a film about a ghost so there are all the scares you'd expect on top of all the drama of being a little kid in a warring adult world.

Now, my feelings on this film (or anything else made by Del Toro) may be a little suspect because I have a bit of a crush on the man, but I really enjoyed this. It was scary. It was funny. It was heartbreaking and occasionally touching. It was hot. The bad guys get what they deserve. And, the story was woven with a palette of muted desert colors and rocking '40s hairstyles.

Given this film and the Orphanage, it may be possible that the best films about ghosts are made by Spanish speakers.

July 02, 2009

Ugh. Transformers

So, at this point, I figure everyone has already seen this, but just in case you haven't, There are going to be spoilers in this post.

Robots and Explosions. Robots and Explosions! Robots AND Explosions! This film should have been so good. It should have been awesome because the robots were in disguise. It should have been funny. It should have been ridiculous, but it should have been a good time. And, maybe if someone else had edited the film and it had been, say 45 minutes shorter, it would have been all of those things. Except it wasn't 45 minutes shorter, it was eight and a half hours long (in slow movie time, not in *actual* time.) At some point in the second half Shia and Megan Fox were running from Petra to Giza (!!!)* and it occurred to me, "Wait, Megatron captured his parents and they haven't turned up yet. Oh, man, we have to sit through them rescuing the parents, too?!?!" And, then they turn up and I'm not even bothered that they might get killed by rampaging Decepticons because by that point I'd given up on all of humanity, starting with director Michael Bay.

Also, dude, after two years Shia's character Sam, just tell the super hot chick you love her. Tell her you love her and stop torturing your audience with all this, "I'm really fond of you." bullshit. It is not often I find myself wishing I had to pee so I wouldn't have to watch something. Also, while I wasn't completely surprised by the unending dick and balls jokes, they got a little old. By the time John Turturro informs the aircraft carrier in the Gulf about the deploy a top secret super Anti-Robot weapon that he's underneath the evil robot's scrotum, I couldn't even laugh anymore. What should have been clever completely failed to land because of all the juvenile blather that had come before.

And, finally, what is this killing Optimus Prime rubbish? Those of us who are old enough (and/or sufficiently geeky enough) to remember the original cartoon film have already lived through this trauma. While horrifying the first time, this time it just made me mad.

Can Michael Bay go back to making films about asteroids and prison breaks, please? Those were fun films. This one was just...ugh. Although, it did have nice explosions.

*Since Petra is in Jordan and Giza is in Egypt, it was quite a run. Maybe if they'd just cut that out we could have saved the requisite amount of time.

July 01, 2009


This film had a few things going for it from the outset: first, it has Ben Kingsley in it. Second, its about intrigue on the Trans-Siberian railway and I think it would be AWESOME to see Russia and other Asian destinations picking the train up in China and taking it to Moscow. Third, It has Eduardo Noriega in it and he's most welcome eye candy. (Also, Sorta Spoilers Ahead.)

In this film, Emily Mortimer and Woody Harrelson play a couple who have hit a rough patch in their marriage who have gone on a mission trip to China through their church and are now doing some traveling before heading back home. They meet another couple, played by Eduardo Noriega and Kate Mara who tell them that they were teaching English in Japan. Ben Kingsley is a narcotics cop who discovers a missing stash of herion and a murdered drug dealer in Vladivostok. So, ya. Missing drugs. Cop. Fishy stories. Russian nesting dolls. Hot Spaniard. Rocky marriage. Oh, and somewhere in there, someone goes missing and someone dies and someone gets tortured by drug distributors looking to find their missing goods. But, you pretty much knew that was where this was going.

I don't know what I was expecting, but meh. It wasn't a bad movie. It just wasn't great. I'm not sure I really cared about Mortimer and Harrelson's characters and I didn't really get what could have been between them in the first place so it was hard to believe that they were trying to rekindle something. Kate Mara was great, although there was a part of the film where she disappeared that I didn't get at all. Ben Kingsley was a believable Russian narcotics cop who may or may not be hiding something. Again, it wasn't bad, it was just...meh.