Well that's good. Fantastic. That gives us 20 minutes to save the world and I've got a post office. And it's shut!

Thursday, January 07


K-On! Movie Pre-Review

Hirasawa Yui is my spirit animal.

Update: The big problem with watching any K-On! is that their songs are terrible earworms.  I now have Rice is a Side Dish stuck in my head.

(Couldn't find a clip of them actually performing this song, though they do it once in the TV series and again in the movie.  This is the movie version, where Yui does an unscheduled One more time! and the other girls go Whut? but manage to jump back in.)

My favourite has to be Listen, the season 2 first-half ending, featuring cake-fairy Mio:

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Tuesday, January 05


A Monster In Paris Pre-Review

I have nothing bad to say about this film.  Four stars.

I was going to suggest that perhaps Lucille's accent wanders a bit, but I checked, and she's played by Vanessa Paradis, who is French, from Paris, and plays the role in both the English and French versions, the only major cast member who did so.

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Monday, January 04


The Adventures Of Tintin Pre-Review

I'm toying with the idea of Tintin as an anti-hero, like Moorcock's Elric of Melniboné, so completely obsessed with getting the story (no matter how trivial) that he is entirely unaware of the disaster he leaves in his wake.

This film did not grab me.  There is one part that is very, very, very good, but that's a few minutes of honey in almost two hours of cold porridge.

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Inside Out Pre-Review

In which Pixar takes Dennett's "Cartesian Theater" perhaps a little too literally.

Cute film, and yet a stronger story than Brave.  The model of mental processes is almost the diametric opposite of reality, but I'm willing to let that slide.

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Sunday, January 03


Crank Pre-Review

A touching love story.

No, really.

No, really, really.

I enjoyed it more than I expected, though it was slower-paced than I expected.

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Monday, December 28


Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

42 Days of Summer #5

Directed by Irvin Kershner
Written by Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan
Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness, David Prowse, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker, James Earl Jones, Frank Oz
1980, 124 minutes

As I mentioned in my pre-review, while I'm very very late watching this film, I already knew almost everything about it.  I'd read the book, heard the score, seen images and clips and spoofs of the action, listened to entire podcasts about it...  I just hadn't seen it.

The good news is that the film holds up both to my expectations and to the 35 years since its release.  I watched the Somethingth Anniversary Digital Special Edition Release, which has toned down some of the earlier Lucasic fiddling, and which looks absolutely beautiful.

There's little about this film that doesn't work.  The stop-motion AT-ATs look a little odd compared to how polished and fluid the rest of the cinematography is.  And Yoda...  Okay, I can understand the attachment people have to the physical puppet over the CGI version in the prequels, but he's a puppet.

And the giant space worm is a goddam sock.  I'm a little surprised they left that in, but I'm glad they did.

Three and a half star wars out of four.  Having watched (or rewatched) the original trilogy, I give them all three and a half stars.  There are definitely things the latter two films do better than the first - cinematography, sets, costumes - but they both sag a little in the middle (the Dagobah and Endor parts).

You've probably already seen them, but if you haven't, highly recommended.

I also watched the first half hour of The Phantom Menace.  I'll say this: The first eleven minutes are not entirely terrible.

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The Lego Movie

42 Days of Summer #6 (yes, we're out of timetable order, whatever)

Directed by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Chris McKay
Written by Dan Hageman, Christopher Miller, Kevin Hageman, Roy Lee
Starring Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell, Will Arnett, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, and with a whole bunch of other people
2014, 101 minutes

What the hell happened here?  With three directors and four writers and being clearly nothing more than a cynical marketing ploy, this should have been a train wreck.  Maybe it would keep the kids quiet for ninety minutes so mommy could get some me time with a stiff gin and tonic, but you couldn't expect more than that.

The Lego Movie blows the doors off all expectations by delivering something that is smart, fun, and sincere, fast-paced, well-directed, and if it doesn't entirely make sense then for almost its entire 101 minutes it doesn't give you enough time to notice.

For a film about and composed of plastic bricks, it is endlessly inventive and visually stunning.  While the movie is almost entirely computer-animated, every scene is planned out as though it were to be built out of real Lego blocks.  I don't know if that restraint improves the movie itself or if it's just one sign of how much care went into the production, but it's clear that the production team failed a cynicism check and ended up caring deeply about what they were making.

The story almost doesn't matter in the whirlwind of inventiveness, but very quickly, Emmett Brickowski (Pratt), a Lego construction figure so everyman-ish that no-one actually remembers him, falls down a hole in a construction site and encounters the Piece of Resistance, a mysterious artifact that will allow a rag-tag group of freedom fighters to stop the plans of Lord Business (Ferrell) to destroy the world by unleashing the power of the Kraggle.

When the Lego Police show up to arrest him, led by Bad Cop (Neeson), Emmett  is rescued by action girl Wyldstyle (Banks) and...  Lego magic happens.

Almost everything about this film is awesome, including the score.

Three bricks out of four.  Recommended.

Oh, and one more thing: The Lego Movie is a better Batman film than Batman Begins.  Suck it Christopher Nolan.

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Batman Begins

42 Days of Summer #7

Directed by Christopher Nolan
Written by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer
Starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Katie Holmes, Liam Neeson
2005, 1719 minutes...  okay, 140 minutes, it just seems longer

The first forty-five minutes of Batman Begins are almost unwatchable, while the remaining hour and a half is merely tiresome and unoriginal.  The only good thing in the whole dreary mess is Michael Caine, who tries but ultimately fails to rescue the film.

Everything about the story is both fomulaic and overdone.  We need an origin story (or rather an Origin! Story!) so the first forty-five minutes are wasted (and I do mean wasted) on that.  If they'd cut that entirely, and another thirty minutes here and there (even the action sequences drag), then maybe...

No, forget it, there's no saving this wreck.  It doesn't even look pretty, because you can't see anything.  And the score just phones it in.  They may as well have held up a card reading dramatic orchestral piece for climactic fight sequence.

Honestly, Gotham deserves whatever happens to it.  By the looks of the place they've been electing Democrats since 1927; they did this to themselves.

One bat.

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Sunday, December 27


Everything Is Awesome

Back on track with the watching, if not the reviewing yet.

That's a pretty good film there.  Three bricks out of four.

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Friday, December 25


Empire Strikes Back Pre-Review

Watched Star Wars for the fourth time today, and Empire for the first.

It's a bit of a strange experience, since I've read the books and seen bits here and there and in general been steeped in Star Wars culture for more than three decades, and I'd seen the first film at least three times before, but hadn't ever sat down to watch the later ones.  So I knew the characters and the actors and the story and the music and the cinematography and...


I'm watching the latest Digital Edition, which has most of the infamous changes, but not the most infamous changes.  The only one that really didn't work for me was the deleted scene from the original, where Jabba confronts Han before they leave Tattooine.  Because they used the original footage and stuck in a huge CGI Jabba, the composition is all wrong.

The Han vs. Greedo shootout in this version is something I'm basically fine with.  They fire more-or-less simultaneously, but Han is already dodging when Greedo shoots.  Which is more in line with Han's character as established later on...  But which gives him less character development.

The first film still holds up very well, though the second has noticeably better sets and cinematography.

Of all the things they could have changed, though, the three-dollar sock-puppet space worm was left in.  It looks like it escaped from a Jon Pertwee episode of Doctor Who - probably Carnival of Monsters.

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