Movies on DVD 2006-2013
 
 
 
Your only official source for information on Paul's Movies on DVD.
 
 
We've watched 208 movies thus far in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
 
 

The movie number refers to the number of movies watched since we bought our first DVD player in April 2000.

 
 
 
 

Links

 

The Movies

 
Scenes
 
 

Movies in 2000

Movies in 2001

Movies in 2002

Movies in 2003 (I)

Movies in 2003 (II)

Movies in 2004

Movies in 2005

Movies in 2006

Movies in 2008

 

Friday, February 15, 2019
 
Mission Impossible: Fallout
 
This recent sequel got surprisingly good reviews, which in n o way prepared me for how truly stupid and bad this movie is. There is almost nothing to the plot, the linkages between various set pieces make no sense, and the acting is barely adequate. The action scenes are kind of fun, and the car chase scene through Paris is not bad, but the stakes are so ridiculously low that it's hard to care about. The helicopter chase scene at the end had some potential, but the physics made no sense, even allowing for the fact that Tom Cruise could somehow magically fly a helicopter with no training at all. Just terrible. On AppleTV
 
Made in: 2018
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Owned: Yes
Category: Action, Adventure, Thriller
Movie #1019, #210 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 1

Thursday, September 27, 2018
 
Let's Spend the Night Together
 
I think I saw this in the theater when it came out. I remember being disappointed it didn't have more backstage stuff, but of course this was the first of a series of concert films that focused primarily on the presentation and little else. The cinematography really is good. This time watching it, everyone seems so young and fresh--it was 37 years ago, which is stunning. I saw this tour in Buffalo and remember it being great
 
Made in: 1982
Director: Hal Ashby
Owned: No
Category: Documentary, Music
Movie #1018, #209 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Sunday, July 15, 2018
 
Hobson's Choice
 
Pretty interesting on a whole lot of levels, not least of which was how working class people in Britain were living at the time. Laughton is just tons of excessive facial tics and physical comedy. Amazingly light on his feet for someone so clearly heavy. The real treat is Brenda de Branzie, not an actress I'd heard of before. She steals the show. The social and class conditions faced by people was really fun to watch and think about. Jellied tongue for dinner? No thank you!
 
Made in: 1954
Director: David Lean
Owned: No
Category: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Movie #1017, #208 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Sunday, February 18, 2018
 
The Naked City
 
Second time for this one (first time was back in 2007), but still a great ride. The story is good, but the best part are the scenes of New York in the 1940s. The place was clearly stinky and crowded. Kids playing in the fire hydrants across the street from the precinct office. Just crazy.
 
Made in: 1948
Director: Jules Dassin
Owned: No
Category: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
Movie #1016, #207 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Tuesday, December 19, 2017
 
Art School Confidential
 
 
Made in:
Director:
Owned: No
Category: Comedy, Drama
Movie #1015, #206 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Sunday, December 17, 2017
 
The Importance of Being Earnest
 
I have to say that while the writing and the clean resolution of the story is a pleasure, the whole thing is a little bit too fluffy. The acting is good, but the characters hardly seem to be real people, except for perhaps Cecily and her Governess. It is the first entry in a long time, and I watched it on FilmStruck, which is pretty amazing.
 
Made in: 1952
Director: Antony Asquith
Owned: No
Category: Comedy, Drama
Movie #1014, #205 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Saturday, March 22, 2014
 
Doctor Who: Image of the Fendahl
 
A Leela episode with Tom Baker. A cut above average with great slug-like monsters threatening the end of the world, along with crazy "time distortion" stuff. Baker is good with no overacting or other weird quirks.
 
Made in: 1977
Director: Chris Boucher (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi, Family
Movie #1013, #204 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Friday, March 14, 2014
 
To The Wonder
 
This is an amazing movie. Hard to say what is going on at any one moment, and even Bruce and I couldn't agree on what happened at the end. Nevertheless, the overall impact at the end is extremely powerful. Beautiful, and a deeply spiritual movie focused very directly on how spirituality affects daily existence.
 
Made in: 2012
Director: Terrence Malick
Owned: No
Category: Drama, Fantasy
Movie #1012, #203 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
 
Cockfighter
 
A Monte Hellman masterpiece. Perhaps not quite as archetypal as Two-Lane Blacktop, but still great. Warren Oates is amazing. The fights are sometimes tough to watch, but the actors and the story make everything as real and as human as possible. Amazing camerawork by Nestor Almendros as well
 
Made in: 1974
Director: Monte Hellman
Owned: Yes
Category: Drama
Movie #1011, #202 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Saturday, November 16, 2013
 
Doctor Who: Silver Nemesis
 
This is the second Sylvester McCoy story I've seen. What struck me is how small the ambition is, compared to some of the earlier stories and certainly the new stories. It's juts a very limited story. Yes, the world is at risk, but the number of characters and the feel of the story is very limited. It has Cybermen, who are probably my favorite villain, but even they don't feel very threatening. There is a weird addition of a small neo-Nazi group, but why they aren't eliminated in the first few minutes is a mystery. Of course, if that were the standard, very few stories would make it past the first episode, but these guys are particularly weak.
 
Made in: 1988
Director: Kevin Clarke (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Drama, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Movie #1010, #201 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Saturday, November 02, 2013
 
Doctor Who: Frontier in Space
 
A six-parter that actually leads directly into the net six-parter (and far superior) Planet of the Daleks. Jo is her usual annoying self here, and while the plot has plenty of twists and turns it is still not enough to fill up six parts. John Pertwee is aging a bit in the role and his charm is leaving him. The episode before this was great, and the story afterwards good as well, so perhaps it is really a fault of the writing. Nevertheless, not a high point. The one exception is the bad guys who are called Ogrons. Great name.
 
Made in: 1973
Director: Malcolm Hulke (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #1009, #200 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Saturday, October 26, 2013
 
Two-Lane Blacktop
 
I originally watched this many years ago (couldn't find the reference link it's so long ago), but it was one of my favorites from the second I saw it and it made me a big fan of Monte Hellman. On second watching it holds up amazingly well, if not actually better. This is an incredible film filled with great lines and a deep existential despair. Warren Oates really can do almost anything, and the other three are fantastic. I found myself wishing it could have gone on for hours more: truly rare, even for other great movies.
 
Made in: 1971
Director: Monte Hellman
Owned: Yes
Category: Drama
Movie #1008, #199 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Monday, September 02, 2013
 
Doctor Who: The Daleks
 
The second story of the series, and the story that really created Doctor Who as a hit. It has some great arguments between the Doctor and the companions. The Doctor even lies to his travelers in order to allow him to explore Skaro. It also has relevance in that radiation is the cause of the creation of the Daleks as well as the evil they wish to bring to the Thals. It also has bathing suit-clad aliens (the Thals) which is pretty classic. Other critical elements are long strangely-shaped corridors and a long scene in a cave. For a six-parter, it is really well-written, and genuinely exciting for most of it (except for a tiny bit of dragging in episode five.) Terry Nation did a fantastic job of writing this one. For both the quality of the script as well as it's role in creating the phenomenon of the Doctor, it deserves the highest rating. Even the strange voice saying "Exterminate" is there from the start.
 
Made in: 1963
Director: Terry Nation (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #1007, #198 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Thursday, August 29, 2013
 
Doctor Who: The Sun Makers
 
Perhaps the best one of the recent bunch. It's got action, and is quite funny as well. K-9 is here along with Leela which is good. This is also one of the first ones with with a strong anticorporate theme. It has a touch of Douglas Adams in it, although I didn't see his name in the credits.
 
Made in: 1977
Director: Robert Holmes (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #1006, #197 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Thursday, August 29, 2013
 
Doctor Who: The Face of Evil
 
The introduction of the famous leather-clad Leela. It's not a great episode; a bit tedious even though it features many classic elements like a mad computer, religious cults, and a couple power struggles. Tom Baker is okay, but seems to be getting increasingly arrogant.
 
Made in: 1977
Director: Chris Boucher (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fie
Movie #1005, #196 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
 
Doctor Who: The Mask of Mandragora
 
First of all it is man-DRA-gor-ah, not man-dra-GOR-ah. Apart from that critical point, this Tom Baker episode is a cut above average. It starts a bit slow, but picks up once we learn of the crazy cult of Damnos. Renaissance Italy is fertile ground for the Doctor, and this one holds its end up nicely.
 
Made in: 1976
Director: Louise Marks (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #1004, #195 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Monday, August 26, 2013
 
Doctor Who: The Seeds of Doom
 
I like the idea of a kooky aristocrat complaining about mistreatment of bonsai and going on a pro-plant rampage, but this six-parter with Tom Baker is just too long and too uneven to make for a good story. Some good elements, but the weird bouncing back and forth between homicidal maniacs and then the same people worried about someone dying just loses credibility after a while. Again, it also fills too much space with repetitious escapes and then running back into the same traps over and over again.
 
Made in: 1976
Director: Robert Banks Stewart (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #1003, #194 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Monday, August 26, 2013
 
Doctor Who: The Brain of Morbius
 
This Baker episode with Sarah Jane is one of the better ones I've seen recently. Disembodied brains, crazy cult, mad scientist: all great stuff. Reminded me of that horrible old movie about a head without a body.
 
Made in: 1976
Director: Terrance Dicks (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #1002, #193 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Monday, August 26, 2013
 
Doctor Who: The Android Invasion
 
Terry Nation is one of the best writers they ever had, but this Tom Baker story is not one of his better efforts. It still moves along nicely and there are some neat tricks, like all the money being from the same year, but it's just not all that interesting overall. Too similar to too many other stories.
 
Made in: 1975
Director: Terry Nation (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #1001, #192 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Sunday, August 25, 2013
 
Doctor Who: The Caves of Androzani
 
Really good episode and the end of Peter Davison. All that's best about the Doctor is here including evil corporate bosses, complicated power arrangements, and even a crazy alien monster. Also, really good supporting actors? I'd forgotten how annoying Peri was, but still no match for Tegan. Colin Baker makes a brief appearance at the end of course, and his more arrogant and decisive Doctor is apparent from the start.

This also marks the fact that I've now seen all of the Davison episodes (the only one of the first six I've finished). He was a great Doctor. Wry, quirky, but pleasantly free of Tom Baker's affectations. He also has a bit of melancholy, which marks the best Doctors. The episodes overall are marred by uneven writing, as well as pretty weak companions. There are some significant high points, as well, but nothing classic like K9, or a Sarah Jane, or even the first Romana. Just a really good Doctor all around, underlining the essential strength of the series. Perhaps one of the best, with Troughton still at the top, and matched by the second of the new doctors (forgotten the name).

This is also the one thousandth movie that I've watched on DVD or Blu-Ray (or at least recorded) since we got our first DVD player. It's been more than ten years, and some terrific stories. Looking forward to another thousand!

 
Made in: 1984
Director: Robert Holmes (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #1000, #191 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Saturday, August 24, 2013
 
Doctor Who: Resurrection of the Daleks
 
Not quite sure where the name comes from since the Daleks mostly die in this episode. It's also the end of Davros, which is pretty cool. It's a quite good Peter Davison show, with a complicated plot which is still clear enough to tell a good story. Te Doctor uses a gun which is weird, and he also wants to kill Davros (although doesn't). It's still quite a change from his usual pacifism. The big news though is the end of Tegan. She's okay in her last outing, but she is still one of the weakest companions ever, and I don't mind seeing her go.
 
Made in: 1984
Director: Eric Saward (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #999, #190 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Monday, July 01, 2013
 
Doctor Who - The Awakening
 
Evil stuff coming out of a crack in the wall. Just like the start of Matt Smith's time as the Doctor. However, this is a different era: getting close to the end of Peter Davison's time. It's a two-part, little piece that has a bunch of plot holes, but holds together just about as well as most of the other stories.
 
Made in: 1984
Director: Michael Owen Morris
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #998, #189 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Sunday, June 16, 2013
 
Doctor Who: Warriors of the Deep
 
A Peter Davison Episode that is really sub par. For some reason the Silurian episodes seem especially dull. In this one, the "Merker" creature is pretty cool, but the Silurians themselves are boring and really slow. Most of the money seems to have been spent on the set, which is not too bad.
 
Made in: 1984
Director: Johnny Byrne (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #997, #188 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Sunday, June 16, 2013
 
Doctor Who: The Five Doctors
 
This is the Twentieth anniversary episode. Hartnell had died by this point and so they used a decent looking, if slightly taller, replacement. Baker was edited in from some unused footage shot earlier. Great to see Troughton again and also Susan. A decent episode, with lots of references to past villains and heroes. The Gallifreyan trivia is an extra bonus.
 
Made in: 1983
Director: Terrance Dicks (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #996, #187 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Friday, April 19, 2013
 
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
 
A great documentary about a guy who spends every moment trying to perfect things just a little more than he has done previously. The sot of the mania is made clear, but it is also a riveting story.
 
Made in: 2011
Director: David Gelb
Owned: Yes
Category: Documentary
Movie #995, #186 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Saturday, March 16, 2013
 
Doctor Who: The Mutants
 
A very solid Jon Pertwee episode. Six parts, but little of the usual tedious chases and extended sequences of some of the longer stories. A great villain in Paul Whitsun-Jones, and some classic Doctor Who aliens who make an appearance in giant bug suits
 
Made in: 1972
Director: Bob Baker, Dave Martin (writers)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #994, #185 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Friday, March 15, 2013
 
Doctor Who: The Chase
 
A great William Hartnell episode with the Daleks. It is an eight-parter, but it moves very quickly as it jumps between at least four separate sets. It is also the last episode for Ian and Barbara, the second and third companions to leave the TARDIS. We have a few glimpses of a new companion, along with Vicki, but it is not certain if he is actually on board or not at the end of the show. The sadness of the Doctor at the departure of his friends is another character element that remains a constant for the entire show.
 
Made in: 1965
Director: Terry Nation (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #993, #184 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Friday, March 15, 2013
 
Doctor Who: The King's Demons
 
A short, two-episode, story with Peter Davison and the Master set shortly before the signing of the Magna Carta. The main purpose seems to be the introduction of Kamelion. The Master is a bit tedious, but everyone else, including Tegan, does pretty well.
 
Made in: 1983
Director: Tony, Virgo
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #992, #183 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Sunday, March 10, 2013
 
Doctor Who: Enlightenment
 
The last of the "Black Guardian Trilogy", and we finally get to see what happens to Turlough and his mission to kill the Doctor. It is a terrific episode with a good backstory and a strong central idea about the Eternals who are so bored by existence that they need people to give them ideas and thoughts about what to do. There are a few plot holes--how did the Doctor and turlough toss the bad guys out the escape hatch for example, and why isn't the Doctor more annoyed about Turlough. These are not fatal errors though, especially since Tegan is about as good as she ever is in this one.
 
Made in: 1983
Director: Fiona Cumming
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #991, #182 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Sunday, February 17, 2013
 
Schizopolis
 
This is a funny movie, but I wasn't quite getting it at the beginning. Then, about halfway through, everything started clicking. It is a pretty rancid, if hilarious, view of communication, manipulation, and interaction at both work and home. It has a fairly amateurish feel to it, including the fact that it is Steven Soderbergh himself who stars in it. At the same time, it has wonderful touches and certainly lots of the originality that he displayed not only in Sex, Lies, and Videotape, but also in his later, big studio, movies. Probably well worth re-watching. Watched on Hulu Plus.
 
Made in: 1996
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Owned: No
Category: Comedy, Fantasy, Mystery
Movie #990, #181 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Saturday, February 16, 2013
 
Things to Come
 
This is a supposed "classic" science fiction movie that for some reason I've been wanting to see since high school. It is mostly an artifact now of art deco design as well as interwar romanticism. The vision of the future is pretty hilarious. Unfortunately, it is also not very good. Apart from some very cool machines and some nice design work, everything else is pretty weak. The acting is not bad, but the script is about as wooden as could be. It is all very Buck Rogers-ish, but it isn't nearly as much fun. One really hilarious feature is how the future folks keep wanting to rely on the "Gas of Peace". Frightening.
 
Made in: 1936
Director: William Cameron Menzies
Owned: No
Category: Sci-Fi
Movie #989, #180 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Saturday, February 16, 2013
 
Doctor Who: The Invasion
 
Patrick Troughton in a terrific Cybermen story. He really seems to have excelled at dealing with this particular bad guy, but perhaps that's because so many of his episodes are lost. The story is long--8 episodes--but holds up very well. Lethbridge-Stewart makes an appearance and the traitorous human was great. It is amazing that by the time we get to this episode the design of the cybermen is pretty stable and quite reflective of how they will look for decades to come. The heads and bodies hold up really well. Jamie is a bit annoying in this one, but Zoe gets to show off some smarts. At one point she programs Algol on the fly. Not bad. This show was missing two reels and the DVD makes up for it by animating the scenes (they did have the sound reels). It works really well, and the art is quite good.
 
Made in: 1968
Director: Douglas Camfield
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #988, #179 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Saturday, February 16, 2013
 
Doctor Who: The Time Meddler
 
A William Hartnell episode with Steven and Vicki. It is another good one, perhaps one of the best of these early episodes. There is a another Time Lord (is this the first time we have seen a Gallifreyan gone bad?) He never gets a name other than "Time Meddler", but he is a good model for the Master, Black Guardian, etc, in years to come. The existence of another TARDIS is pretty cool. Quite good overall, with few dead spots.
 
Made in: 1965
Director: Douglas Camfield
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #987, #178 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Monday, February 11, 2013
 
Doctor Who: Terminus
 
The second episode of the Black Guardian trilogy featuring Peter Davison. I really like the episode and it was a surprise to see in the extra feature that it was not a popular one. Ridiculous costumes, but some good acting, and a neat idea about the cause of the Big Bang. The bad news is the departure of Nyssa. She is easily the best of the three current companions (Tegan and Turlough being the others), and it is sad to see her go.
 
Made in: 1983
Director: Mary Ridge
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #986, #177 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Monday, January 28, 2013
 
Doctor Who: The Ark
 
A William Hartnell episode that is among the better ones. It has Dorothea (Dodo) and Steven, so it\'s from Hartnell\'s last year. The pace is still much slower, and the sets much more limited than later ones, but this plot moves along quite sprightly and is pretty consistent throughout. It\'s way in the future and mankind has to move to another planet. If this is the first time that concept was used, it sure wasn\'t the last. It seems every other season has some basic riff on the idea.
 
Made in: 1966
Director: Michael Imison
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #985, #176 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Sunday, January 27, 2013
 
Doctor Who: Arc of Infinity
 
A Peter Davison episode which again is one of the very best ones. Although Tegan is in it, it mostly deals with an old enemy Omega, from The Pyramids of Mars. An extra bonus is lots of Gallifreyan intrigue, including a traitor. All good stuff.
 
Made in: 1983
Director: Ron Jones
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sc-Fi
Movie #984, #175 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Saturday, January 26, 2013
 
Duck, You Sucker
 
A very strange Sergio Leone film with James Coburn. It\'s very long, and almost incomprehensible. Coburn\'s character has strange flashbacks to Ireland and a girlfriend he was apparently sharing with someone else. I even lost track of what country they were supposed to be in--it had so little relation to any actual place on the planet. Rod Steiger is the other protagonist, and he is almost unrecognizable in the role. Leona\'s close-ups are as good as ever, but he\'s lost the wide angle drama that is used so well in his other movies. The Ennio Morricone music is like a parody of his better stuff; one bizarre theme used over and over. It was so bad I felt I must have missed something. Maybe the commentaries can shed some light on it.
 
Made in: 1971
Director: Sergio Leone
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Western
Movie #983, #174 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Monday, January 14, 2013
 
Doctor Who: Mawdryn Undead
 
An early Peter Davison episode to start the new year. This one is really good, with the Black Guardian as well as a bunch of aliens with exposed spaghetti for brains. It features the introduction of Turlough, not one of the better companions, but still better than Tegan. It also has Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, in not just one but two versions. No dull spots and the plot moves along sprightly for the entire run. A real gem.
 
Made in: 1983
Director: Peter Moffatt
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sc-Fi
Movie #982, #173 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Sunday, December 16, 2012
 
Doctor Who: Planet of Fire
 
A very credible Peter Davison show, which features a new companion (Peri), the departure of another (Turlough) and the apparent death of the Master. It’s really nothing super special, and actually hardly memorable, but it’s not a bad one overall, and it moves along nicely.
 
Made in: 1984
Director: Fiona Cumming
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #981, #172 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Thursday, December 06, 2012
 
Doctor Who: Snakedance
 
A really good one. Peter Davison does a great job in an episode which moves along pretty well despite a few slow bits. The local religion stuff is good and it leaves one wanting a bit more. Even Tegan was acceptable as the victim of the snake.
 
Made in: 1983
Director: Fiona Cumming
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #980, #171 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Monday, December 03, 2012
 
Doctor Who: Frontios
 
A Peter Davison story, whcih is another example of how solid a Doctor he can be. The problem is the writing: it really lets the whole thing down. After a solid start, it falls apart. For some reason the bad guy suddenly turns into an ally. Then, the TARDIS gets broken into pieces. What!? Do they not know the it is supposed to be indestructible? Unfortunately, this is also a Tegan story, which brings the whole thing down another notch.
 
Made in: 1984
Director: Ron Jones
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #979, #170 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Monday, October 22, 2012
 
Doctor Who: The Gunfighters
 
Just awful. It has taken me months to watch because it is so interminable. At story featuring the first Doctor and it really is about twenty minutes of story dragged out into four episodes. In addition is has an awful “Western” theme song which becomes grating very quickly. The best part (if there is one) is watching all these minor British actors trying to sounds like they are from the old West, with frighteningly little success.
 
Made in: 1966
Director: Rex Tucker
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #978, #169 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 1

Sunday, October 21, 2012
 
Moonrise Kingdom
 
A Wes Anderson truffle. While even less grounded in reality than usual, it is still wonderful. The acting is great, and the story is enough to keep one engaged throughout. There is a dangerous skating around preciousness, but it holds up well in the end. Note: I watched it again and it is even better the second time. The subtlety of the characters, especially Bill Murray, is wonderful.
 
Made in: 2012
Director: Wes Anderson
Owned: Yes
Category: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Movie #977, #168 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Saturday, October 06, 2012
 
Hard-Boiled
 
Haven’t watched this one in close to ten years, but it still holds up. The camera work and physical direction are world-class. The plot is barely comprehensible, but that is hardly the point. Huge amounts of blood and big body counts are what matter, especially if they are in slow-motion.
 
Made in: 1992
Director: John Woo
Owned: Yes
Category: Action, Crime, Thriller
Movie #976, #167 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Friday, June 01, 2012
 
Tokyo Story
 
One of the greatest ever. Without making any judgements other than we all share humanity, Ozu’s characters each come alive in their own unique way. Amazing stuff for so little apparently going on.
 
Made in: 1953
Director: Yasujiro Ozu
Owned: Yes
Category: Drama
Movie #975, #166 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
 
Diary of a Country Priest
 
Still an amazing film. The expressiveness of the actors is just stunning, while the camera work and direction also manages to be amazing to watch. Bresson manages to get great meaning out of the tiniest of details. Living in the countryside in France in the Fifties was clearly not much fun.
 
Made in: 1951
Director: Robert Bresson
Owned: Yes
Category: Drama, Mystery
Movie #974, #165 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Sunday, April 22, 2012
 
Despicable Me
 
Okay, and certainly better than Megamind, but it definitely does not have any of the spark of genius of the Pixar movies. As is so often the case lately, the design and animation far outweigh any of the story or plot. The movie is just gorgeous to look at.
 
Made in: 2010
Director: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Owned: No
Category: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Movie #973, #164 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Saturday, April 21, 2012
 
The September Issue
 
Really interesting view of how one issue of Vogue is put together. Grace Coddington comes out as the hero, but the one person who is supremely watchable is André Leon Talley. Anna herself is fascinating. She came from a very successful British family. Almost sadly she recounts the successes of her brothers and sisters and says she thinks that they view what she does as \"silly\". Like many rent documentaries one is left hoping for much more information. What is there though is really interesting.
 
Made in: 2009
Director: R.J. Cutler
Owned: No
Category: Documentary
Movie #972, #163 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Friday, March 02, 2012
 
The Mill and the Cross
 
A very strange film which recreates Breugel\'s great painting Christ Carrying the Cross. Using some fantastic effects (including sky footage from New Zealand) he manages to make everything really look like the picture. It\'s also a really interesting recreation of some of the worst atrocities of the Thirty Years\' War. The actors don\'t do much, but Rutger Hauer, Charlotte Rampling, and Michael York really look the part. It is not a long movie, but sure is fascinating.
 
Made in: 2011
Director: Lech Majewski
Owned: No
Category: Drama, History
Movie #971, #162 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Sunday, February 19, 2012
 
Au Hasard Balthazar
 
A pretty amazing movie, cataloging all sorts of human sin through the eyes of a long-suffering donkey. The framing of the scenes as well as the extremely basic dialogue help make this film extraordinarily moving. The characters are extremely simple, yet inescapably human, while the donkey still manages to endure even to his death. It’s hard to explain exactly why it’s so good, but it is.
 
Made in: 1966
Director: Robert Bresson
Owned: Yes
Category: Crime, Drama
Movie #970, #161 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Saturday, February 18, 2012
 
Avatar
 
Saw it in the theater prior this viewing and I have to say it holds up even if not in 3D. It\'s not brilliantly written, but Cameron jumps into the cliches with such commitment and enthusiasm that he makes it work on screen. The other part of the charm of the movie is that the details are all done so right. All the little stuff in the corners of the rooms, of the monitors, and the various gunships and spaceships shows incredible patience and sense of detail. The way in which the animals and plants are designed for Pandora is both terrifically well done and visually captivating.
 
Made in: 2009
Director: James Cameron
Owned: No
Category: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Movie #969, #160 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Sunday, February 12, 2012
 
Doctor Who: The Web Planet
 
This is a long one which drags seriously in the middle. The end is not bad, with some great cheesy effects at the center of the evil bugs. Overall the ant and bee costumes are ridiculous, and really set the stage for the decades of silly costumes to come.
 
Made in: 1965
Director: Bill Strutton (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category:
Movie #966, #157 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Friday, February 10, 2012
 
Doctor Who: The Space Museum
 
Nothing particularly special about this one, except that it moved along nicely, had a good plot, and emphasized the strengths of the first doctor. It is only four episodes long, which is a pleasant change from the drawn out six parters that are filled with repetitive escapes and slow, slow plots. Great hair on the bad guys in this one.
 
Made in: 1965
Director: Glyn Jones (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #965, #156 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Sunday, January 29, 2012
 
Tree of Life
 
Very haunting. I can\'t stop thinking about it even weeks after watching. It\'s beautiful (as expected), but it\'s also hard to watch the family scenesa at times because they are so genuine. brad Pitt is terrific, while Sean Penn seems a bit miscast. This was our fist blu-ray and well worth it on the big new screen.
 
Made in: 2011
Director: Terrence Malick
Owned: No
Category: Drama
Movie #964, #155 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Saturday, January 21, 2012
 
Tangled
 
This is the first time I\'ve seen this movie, and watched it on the big TV with Laura. It\'s quite good, and looks spectacular. The story is okay, and the evil mother is good, but it doesn\'t quite have the spark of greatness. It just looks amazing though. The hair effects are good, but it\\\'s the water, and lighting that really shine (and glow).
 
Made in: 2010
Director: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard
Owned: Yes
Category: Animation, Comedy, Family
Movie #963, #154 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Thursday, December 01, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Time-Flight
 
Pretty good episode all things considered. The Master in disguise comes across like a ridiculous stereotype of some evil Chinese guy, but it gets better after the costume is doffed. This is also made up for by some great footage of Concordes flying around and some scenes set in Heathrow Airport. Peter Davison continues to impress. I also like the the idea that we are going to lose Tegan, but apparently that is not to be the case.
 
Made in: 1982
Director: Peter Grimwade (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #962, #153 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Thursday, November 17, 2011
 
Streets of Fire
 
I really, really like this movie. From the start to the finish it stays exactly true to its tone and style. It's clearly dancing on the very precipice of parody, but it never crosses over. The performances are terrific--was Michael Pare ever this good again? Rick Moranis pours himself into the role of a self-important manager. Willem Dafoe is all cheekbones and teeth; this is back when he was always the evil guy. Bill Paxton (!) The Ry Cooder soundtrack is great. The real star though is Hill, his lighting direction, and editing are absolutely pitch perfect. It's an absolute master class in lighting and reflections. It's one of my all-time favorites.
 
Made in: 1984
Director: Walter Hill
Owned: No
Category: Crime, Drama, Music, Romance, Thriller
Movie #961, #152 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Friday, October 28, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Sea Devils
 
These longer stories are really getting quite painful. This one is another six episodes for a story that could have been told in three. By the time the story finally gets moving it's not bad, but it just takes too long to get there. The James Bondish use of jet skis and hovercraft is pretty good, and the Master is always a treat. Jo is wearing quite thin though, and it's time to move on.
 
Made in: 1972
Director: Malcolm Hulke (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #960, #151 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Monday, October 24, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Planet of the Spiders
 
Pretty good episode, with lots of action and few dead spots despite being six parts long. It brings us to the end of Jon Pertwee and it was a fitting one at that, with even a nod towards Jo who sends the blue crystal back to the Doctor. The appearance of a second Time Lord as a Tibetan monk was a little unexpected, but it worked as well.
 
Made in: 1974
Director: Robert Sloman (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sc-Fi
Movie #959, #150 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Monday, October 24, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos
 
Cool story, with great squishy monsters and fake gold people. Stupid military officials abound, but this time Lethbridge Stewart isn't one of them. He gets a rare appearance as a relatively enlightened guy. It moves along quickly, with few delays, The Master is in fine form, as is Jon Pertwee. I didn't realize that the Doctor didn't know he was a Time Lord, but it seems to be coming back to him bit by bit.
 
Made in: 1971
Director: Bob Baker, Dave Martin (writers)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sc-Fi
Movie #958, #149 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Monday, October 24, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Deadly Assassin
 
A great Gallifreyan story featuring Tom Baker, this time without any companion at all. It really fills out a lot of the history of the planet, which is fun. It has a bit of padding in the middle with an extended hunt scene, but it's quite good. The creepy, skull-head Master is great. Even the police on Gallifrey come off as bumblers, at least at first.
 
Made in: 1976
Director: Robert Holmes (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sc-Fi
Movie #957, #148 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Sunday, October 23, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Underworld
 
A very solid Tom Baker episode. It's well-written without too much silliness, It also features the lovely and talented Leela, who is so much better than Lalla Ward. The effects are as bad as ever, highlighted here by an enormous amount of sloppy greenscreen work.
 
Made in: 1978
Director: Bob Baker, Dave Martin (writers)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sc-Fi
Movie #956, #147 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Saturday, October 22, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Earthshock
 
Peter Davison in a terrific story. It starts off a little slowly, but quickly gets up to speed once everyone gets in spae. The Cybermen are great, but it also has a venal captain, mutinous crew, and bull-headed military. It also has the unique element of a companion dying. Adric was hardly as annoying as Tegan (who is actually at her best in this story), but I'm not sad t see him go. Along with the death of a companion, one interesting element is that lots of people get killed in this story. The early episodes were never this cavalier about life, even if they were only extras.
 
Made in: 1982
Director: Eric Saward
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sc-Fi
Movie #955, #146 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Friday, October 21, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Black Orchid
 
Peter Davison features in a very short, slight Agatha Christie-like mystery set in a grand manor house. One unusual element is how quickly the Doctor agrees to show the TARDIS to the local police. The twin of Nyssa idea was not bad, but overall, it seemed like a quick and cheap way to use up time. This is especially true given how much time is used at the beginning simply having the Doctor play cricket.
 
Made in: 1982
Director: Terence Dudley (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sc-Fi
Movie #954, #145 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Thursday, October 20, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Genesis of the Daleks
 
Going back to restart the origin of the Daleks with Tom Baker, It's a good story, but lasts way too long. It could have been done in four episodes, rather than six. Baker is not up to his usual form, and there aren't the touches of humor that often spice up the programs.
 
Made in: 1975
Director: Terry Nation (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sc-Fi
Movie #953, #144 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Wednesday, September 28, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Curse of Peladon
 
A remarkably dull episode, with slow plodding characters and totally unremarkable acting. The only plus is the reappearance of the Ice Warriors, this time in peace-loving mode (and in full color). Jo is ridiculous.
 
Made in: 1972
Director: Brian Hayles (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #952, #143 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Saturday, September 24, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Terror of the Autons
 
Really good episode as it introduces (or reintroduces) some of the best of the evil guys in the whole series: the Master and the Autons. The series features the usual casual putdowns of Lethbridge Stewart and the extra treat of introducing Jo Grant, one of the more ridiculous companions.
 
Made in: 1971
Director: Robert Homes (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #951, #142 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Sunday, September 18, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Keys of Marinus
 
One of the best Hartnell episodes yet. The structure really sets the tone for later episodes like The Key to Time. Things move along remarkably quickly, a tribute to the excellent writer Terry Nation (the inventor of the Daleks). Also the various planets feature some especially ridiculous headgear, a longtime Doctor Who feature.
 
Made in: 1964
Director: Terry Nation (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #950, #141 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Sunday, September 18, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Rescue
 
The monster is terrific in this one, with a great name: Koquillion. The plot twist where the other human is the bad guy was fun. It suffers from the same pacing problem as other early ones, but this is a short two-parter and pretty good. Introducing new companions is always a plus. In addition, Vicki is a pleasant reprieve from the annoying "granddaughter".
 
Made in: 1965
Director: David Whitaker (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #949, #140 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Thursday, September 15, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Destiny of the Daleks
 
The first Lalla Ward as Romana episode. She's not trying to act too cute here so she was pretty good. Terry Nation, the writer, was the inventor of the Daleks and he does another great job here. The stuff with Davros was really good.
 
Made in: 1979
Director: Terry Nation (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #948, #139 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Thursday, September 15, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Time Warrior
 
Pertwee is in fine form in battle with a clumsy Sontaran. A real plus is the introduction of one of the best companions ever: Sarah Jane Smith. Right from the start she's much better than the simpering ridiculous Jo. Listening to Sarah lecture one of the medieval servants was one of the funnier scenes in a while. I also like the relative scarcity of Lethbridge Stewart.
 
Made in: 1973
Director: Robert Holmes (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #947, #138 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Monday, September 05, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Inferno
 
Have to say probably the best one yet of the old episodes. The alternate fascist universe was fantastic (and more interesting than the regular universe). The suspense was real and crazy scientists almost destroy the world. The monsters are called "Primoids" which is a great name. Really enjoyed this one, even though it was quite long (7 episodes).
 
Made in: 1970
Director: Don Houghton (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #946, #137 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Thursday, September 01, 2011
 
Doctor Who and the Silurians
 
It's a long story arc, seven episodes, but a good one. This is the first introduction to the Silurians, and while the costumes and voices are ridiculous, they are also appropriately scary. The fact of the epidemic killing lots of people in London and other places is pretty gruesome. another nice feature is the usual military stupidity of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. It's amazing how the Doctor still manages to deal with him given the idiotic things the UNIT chief does in every episode.
 
Made in: 1970
Director: Malcolm Hulke (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #945, #136 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Saturday, August 27, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Sontaran Experiment
 
Now this is more like it. Crisp, brisk, solid story-telling, without a lot of repetitive nonsense. It's a short two-parter, but packs in everything one needs in a good episode. Sarah Jane really is terrific. I also like the barren heath where they filmed this--great use of a very limited set.
 
Made in: 1975
Director: Bob Baker, Dave Martin (writers)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #944, #135 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Friday, August 26, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Kinda
 
Quite a good episode, one of the best of the Peter Davison ones so far. The evil snake was pretty ridiculous, but some of the other touches were quite good. Even Tegan finally gets a shot at doing some sort of almost acting. At the same time, there is a certain energy and enthusiasm lacking that one still finds in the earlier episodes. Even if the logic of certain episodes fails, the energy of the thing carries it off. This really seems less so for these later episodes. Davison as the Doctor just seems tired a bit, not nearly so much at ease with himself or his companions as the earlier Doctors.
 
Made in: 1982
Director: Christopher Bailey (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #943, #134 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Monday, August 22, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Seeds of Death
 
Quite a long six-parter, that really didn't need to be that long. However, the plot is quite good with some excellent near-future stuff including transporters and evil aliens from Mars. The exploding balloons of gas were pretty cool, as was the heat ray the Doctor used to kill of the aliens. For one part, the Doctor was comatose which was a bit dull. The scene where the Doctor is covered in foam is clearly eliciting much more laughter than alarm in Zoe.
 
Made in: 1969
Director: Brian Hayles (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #942, #133 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Friday, August 05, 2011
 
Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child
 
The very first one, and a great start. It has much of the same pacing problems as the other early ones, but it has all the elements that make the show so good for the next 50 or so years. The best part is how irascible the Doctor is. He's quite nasty to Ian and Barbara. It was fun to see his granddaughter say "he always gets like that when he doesn't get his way."
 
Made in: 1963
Director: Anthony Coburn (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #941, #132 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Thursday, August 04, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Four to Doomsday
 
A pretty good episode. Peter Davison was justifiably irritated at Adric calling him an idiot at one point, which was a real pleasure. The Monarch and the Athenian were played by some excellent actors which made this one especially good to watch. Tegan did some amazing crying and overacting, which was painful but amusing.
 
Made in: 1982
Director: Terence Dudley (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #940, #131 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Tuesday, August 02, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Romans
 
One can't escape the fact that these early episodes are often quite dull. The pacing gets better even by the fourth year, but these earliest ones are pretty slow. The Nero stuff is sort of funny, but it's hard to take very seriously. The idea that the Doctor could fool Nero by not playing the instrument at all is a bit far-fetched, even for Doctor Who. The crazy coincidences of everyone being in the place are also somewhat strained. Hartnell is also not quite up to his usual fine form, being more selfish and irritable than usual.
 
Made in: 1965
Director: Dennis Spooner (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #939, #130 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Saturday, July 30, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Planet of the Daleks
 
A six-part episode that is another big winner. Of course, featuring Daleks is usually a sign of excellent stuff. Jon Pertwee is as good as usual, showing off his Macguyver-like skills. This one also has the classic line: "You've been infected by the Fungoids." Molten Ice? Awesome.
 
Made in: 1973
Director: Terry Nation (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #938, #129 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Friday, July 29, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The War Games
 
Now this is more like it. A great episode with a wonderful Patrick Troughton. Amazingly (What are the chances?) this one actually has the character of the Master as well, although he doesn't have the full title yet (he does have the great facial hair which gives it away, though). This one has great villains, lots of time periods, even some Gallifrey, and the end of Troughton. It's well worth the four plus hours, and certainly better than any single episode from the last season or two of Baker's run. A special recognition must go to the set design. The alien spaceship is fantastic with all sorts of weird pop-art touches.
 
Made in: 1969
Director: Malcolm Hulke, Terrance Dicks (writers)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #937, #128 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Friday, July 29, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Castrovalva
 
Some more good stuff with the Master and a cool "recursive" world. Peter Davidson did a nice job in his first time out, and it's good to see the writers keeping up with the confusion that accompanies regeneration. Adric was not too much in evidence this episode, which was just fine by me.
 
Made in: 1982
Director: Christopher H. Bidmead (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #936, #127 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Friday, July 29, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Logopolis
 
Tom Baker's last hurrah and not a bad episode at all. He curbed some of his weirder stuff and there was plenty of crazy logic and some fun physical stuff. For all the fun of the evil Master though, it was leavened with the introduction of Tegan. She was not bad, but my impression is tempered by the whininess that is to come. Keeping Nyssa around makes it a bit better.
 
Made in: 1981
Director: Christopher H. Bidmead (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #935, #126 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Wednesday, July 27, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Keeper of Traken
 
Another peaceful planet mysteriously threatened by some malevolent force. Also another poor extra dressed up in an uncomfortable costume. How many is that now? Another planet that also seems to turn away from its best instincts the second anything goes wrong. Deputies immediately start to revolt, and dissension grows rapidly amongst the ranks. For all that, it's not a bad episode, but hardly an exciting one. Melkur as "The Source of Evil" has a great title, but that's about it. The best moment is the reveal of the Master and his remarkable escape at the very end.
 
Made in: 1981
Director: Johnny Byrne (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #934, #125 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Saturday, July 23, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Warriors' Gate
 
The last of the E-Space trilogy, and a continuing voyage into bad Tom Baker. Some fun elements here, but they lack much development. The lion people are especially under-utilized. The best element was the two assistants on the spaceship who spend their time betting each other. They have the most life in the episode. It comes as a bit of a surprise at the end that it is the end of Romana's time as a companion. Unfortunately, we're left with the annoying Adric.
 
Made in: 1981
Director: Stephen Gallagher (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #933, #124 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Thursday, July 21, 2011
 
Doctor Who: State of Decay
 
A fun vampire-themed episode with terrifically bad overacting by the three prime evil-doers. The plastic flapping bat and the bad green screen work are also good fun. Tom Baker is clearly at the end of his term as the Doctor. He's getting too cute and far too reliant on his eye rolls and other little quirks. He's also given up on some of the flaws in his character which made his earlier work more fun. He's too cocky and arrogant, and the shows are suffering for it.
 
Made in: 1980
Director: Terrance Dicks (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #932, #123 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Wednesday, June 29, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Full Circle
 
This is the first of the E-Space trilogy. It's got ridiculous aliens, but also some very cool spiders. I liked the spaceship constantly being repaired, and the episode overall is pretty good, with many of the classic Doctor Who themes. This episode also features the introduction of Adric, which is definitely a mixed blessing.
 
Made in: 1980
Director: Andrew Smith (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #931, #122 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Thursday, June 16, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Ultimate Foe
 
These are the two concluding bits of the season. Part 13 is not bad, but part 14 dissolves into near incomprehensibility. It was not treated with much detail, but it was an interesting story line that the Valeyard was there to steal additional lives from the Doctor. The appearance of the Master in the Matrix was a nice touch, but hardly enough to make up for the rest of the weak storyline.
 
Made in: 1986
Director: Robert Holmes (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #930, #121 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Thursday, June 16, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Terror of the Vervoids
 
The third story in the Trial of a Time Lord season. I thought this was the best of the various story arcs. I especially liked the design of the vervoids--crazy plant-like things. Mel was better than Peri, although still one of the more annoying companions. The fact that the captain of the ship was well aware of the time lords made it a little more interesting than usual. The courtroom scenes continue to be good, with the Doctor getting increasingly agitated about the evidence.
 
Made in: 1986
Director: Jane Baker, Pip Baker (writers)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #929, #120 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Wednesday, June 15, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Mindwarp
 
Trial of a Time Lord, Part 2. This one is made up of a lot of different story threads which really don't seem to hold together. The slug-like traders, the werewolf character, the screaming Brian Blessed viking guy, just don't make a whole lot of sense together, especially with the ongoing whininess of Peri. The trial elements continue to be pretty good. It was a nice touch when the prosecutor starts calling the judge "sagacity", eliciting a huge eye roll from the Doctor.
 
Made in: 1986
Director: Philip Martin (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #928, #119 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Mysterious Planet
 
The first part of the entire season-long story called Trial of a Time Lord. The jumping back and forth from the story to the courtroom actually is a bit of a distraction in these early stages. The story is not bad, with a really strange looking evil robot at the center of it. Yet, the story really isn't all the compelling, and it's made worse by Peri being so bad. I do like the design of the courtroom and the various characters in it, though.
 
Made in: 1986
Director: Robert Holmes (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #927, #118 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Attack of the Cybermen
 
This is the first Colin Baker episode I've seen. Now I've seen episodes with all of the various Doctors. Baker is not great, but he's not bad here, and I like the fact that he is so easily angered. It is a remarkable coincidence that this episode relies so much on the plot developments of Tomb of the Cybermen, despite that one being made 18 years earlier. If I hadn't just watched the earlier series, this one would have been far less interesting. The Cybermen (and the Controller) are still not as cool looking as in the new series, but they are much better than in the earlier episodes. Of course, no mention is made of the different appearance. Peri is far too whiny and helpless to be a good companion. She really detracts from the show.
 
Made in: 1985
Director: Paula Moore (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #926, #117 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Tomb of the Cybermen
 
Troughton is great here, showing lots of annoyance with humans, yet still retaining his charm. He's very good at showing the importance of hanging back and not necessarily taking charge right away. It's a very different style, certainly, from Tom Baker, or even David Tennant in some of his later episodes. the show was remarkably lucky to have so many good actors early on carrying the burden of an extra heart. Also a tribute to the writers and directors that they allowed each one's personality to come through in a different way.

A real highlight of this episode is how silly the cybermen look. The exposed brain of the Cybercontroller and the super-cheap heads are a real treat. Interesting to see the pair of evil humans played by a couple who were clearly not married. Their relationship is left oddly undefined.

 
Made in: 1967
Director: Kit Pedler, Gerry Davis (writers)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #925, #116 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Monday, June 13, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Dalek Invasion of Earth
 
This really is one of the best episodes ever. It's six parts long so it has time to get into some deeper themes and really explore various human reactions to the invasion. It also has Daleks, which is always a plus. I still don't care much for the Doctor's granddaughter, but that is a minor point in what is a great story.
 
Made in: 1964
Director: Terry Nation (writer)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #924, #115 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Sunday, June 12, 2011
 
Doctor Who: the War Machines
 
William Hartnell is increasingly impressive. He is just fun to watch. This plot isn't the greatest, but it certainly provides a theme (the computer trying to take over the world) that the series returns to again and again. The fact that the computer is also able to hypnotize people and control them is also a regular theme as well (see "The Green Death"). The fact there is a companion named Dodo is hilarious. Also notable is the disappointment the Doctor shows when Dodo decides to stay on Earth. He is a little resentful, but clearly has no intention of trying to make her change her mind. This same attitude is also remarkably persistent throughout the series, and reaches its peak more than forty years later with David Tennant's loneliness
 
Made in: 1966
Director: Ian Stuart Black, Kit Pedler (writers)
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #923, #114 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Thursday, June 09, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Leisure Hive
 
This is the last season for Tom Baker and it shows. I'm not sure if he was married to Lalla Ward or not at this point, but the dynamic between them is not nearly as much fun as in previous seasons, and certainly not up to the tense banter of the first Romana. Baker just seems more arrogant and annoying, rather than the sometimes peevish, and even childish, character in earlier seasons. The episode itself is not bad, and the various plot twists are fun. It's just that it seems the joy and wonder of the Doctor's adventures has worn off, and so it's more of a chore to watch.
 
Made in: 1980
Director: David Fisher (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #922, #113 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Friday, June 03, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Horror of Fang Rock
 
Not a bad Tom Baker episode by any means. This is the first I've seen of Leela--clearly an influence on the character of Futurama. The low budget couldnb't be more clear with very limited cast and bad green screen work. Not bad though, overall, especially with the glowing green jellyfish bad guy.
 
Made in: 1977
Director: Terrance Dicks (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #921, #112 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Tuesday, May 31, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Green Death
 
So far I have to say Jon Pertwee is the best Doctor of the bunch. This is a good episode with the extra bonus of the departure of Jo. The era of the shows is pretty clear with the casual sexism of the professor in the way he treats Jo. Yet she still falls in love with him. The critical character of the U.N.I.T. chief is constantly mocked: a not so subtle dig at militarism. The bad guy (or computer) in this episode was quite good, and the evil larvae were up (or down) to the usual standard. The short bit on Metebelis 3 was a particular standout with the giant feet of some mysterious bird chasing after the Doctor.
 
Made in: 1973
Director: Robert Sloman (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #920, #111 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Friday, May 27, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Curse of Fenric
 
I liked this episode, but it was pretty confusing, especially as the first one I've seen with Sylvester McCoy. The whole backstory of Ace and her troubles with her mother was also a bit of a mystery. That said, I like the evil monsters, and the two crazy girls were fun. I also like the work of the mathematician and the old church. Overall, it has a lot of the classic Doctor Who elements, but they don't come together in as quite a sparkling a package as some of the earlier episodes do. Ace also really isn't that compelling, at least on the evidence presented here. The series seems a bit tired at this point.
 
Made in: 1989
Director: Ian Briggs (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #919, #110 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Thursday, May 26, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Visitation
 
The very first Peter Davison episode I've ever seen, and a pretty good one. the aliens are ridiculous looking, but they share the same goal of global genocide as many other aliens do. Tegan is remarkably whiny and unpleasant as a companion. She really detracts from the show. The other two companions seem to be Time Lords. I look forward to finding out how they ended up on board the TARDIS.
 
Made in: 1982
Director: Eric Saward (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #918, #109 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Wednesday, May 25, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space
 
The first Jon Pertwee episode and a pretty good start from him. It's much slower-paced than later years, and the effects are as bad as usual, but it's a well-written as usual. It's the first episode of the Autons (that I've seen at least) and a good one for that. The usual U.N.I.T. style of not understanding what the Doctor is about is clearly here, and it remains so even through the 2009 episodes: another great example of the remarkable story and style continuity of this series.
 
Made in: 1970
Director: Robert Holmes (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #917, #108 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Wednesday, May 25, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Dead Planet
 
Not bad, but not really a high-quality episode. I liked the weird horseshoe crab aliens, but otherwise it seemed more like filler, and a touch of foreshadowing, for the main event of the David Tennant finale.
 
Made in: 2009
Director: Russell T. Davies, Gareth Roberts
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #916, #107 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Tuesday, May 24, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The End of Time
 
Quite a good episode, and a worthy finale to the David Tennant years. It gets a bit too elegiac at the end, but since it's also a goodbye to Russell Davies, I can forgive him for that. The Master continues to be a great character, and I hope it's not the last we see of him.
 
Made in: 2009
Director: Russell T. Davies (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #915, #106 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Monday, May 23, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars
 
A really good episode, and quite a scary one. The first view of the converted people is really a shock. It's also good in underscoring the angst that the Doctor feels when people seem to die as a direct result of his actions. It's a good theme throughout the David Tennant years.
 
Made in: 2009
Director: Russell T. Davies, Phil Ford (writers)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #914, #105 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Monday, May 23, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Robot
 
The very first Tom Baker episode, and a pretty good one at that. The effects are quite bad but they hold up okay. The scene with the fake tank is particularly funny. It is still pretty good, though. There is great stuff from Sarah Jane Smith, and it's clear why she was such a hit with the fans. She is really good.
 
Made in: 1974
Director: Terrance Dicks (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #913, #104 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Monday, May 23, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Armageddon Factor
 
The last of the Key to Time series and easily the weakest of them all. The evil army leader-alien pawn is just tiresome. The Shadow character is ludicrous even by Doctor Who standards: his nylon stocking mask keeps ripping more and more over the course of the movie. It's neither thrilling nor clever nor complex. The twist at the end is okay, but it feels simply tacked on, rather than a climax that the whole story has been building to.
 
Made in: 1979
Director: Bob Baker, Dave Martin (writers)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #912, #103 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Sunday, May 22, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Season 4
 
Donna Noble is terrific. The episode "A Silence in the Library" is one of the high points of the entire series so far (and why this one gets five stars). The ending is quite sad, but it is fun to see Rose return and (sort of) get a new start with the Doctor. The Ood are also terrific and a solid addition to the menagerie of the whole show.
 
Made in: 2008
Director: Russell T. Davies (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #911, #102 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Sunday, May 22, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood
 
The third part of the Key to Time. This is a typically wandering plot where a couple of characters apparently critical at the beginning don't even show up for the second half of the story. It starts off slow, but by the time they get to the hyperspace prison ship it gets a lot better. The bickering hyper-legalistic flickers of light are a fun element.
 
Made in: 1978
Director: David Fisher (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #910, #101 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Monday, May 16, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Season 3
 
A really good season, although it's tough to match the emotional intensity of the departure of Rose. Still, Freeman does a great job as Martha. One real highlight was her playing the servant in pre-World War I Britain. The Christmas special introduction of Donna Noble is a triumph. It immediately made one want more of her character, which luckily the producers seemed to understand as well.
 
Made in: 2007
Director: Robert Holmes (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #909, #100 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Thursday, May 12, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Season 2
 
With the introduction of David Tennant as the Doctor, Billie Piper really seemed to come in to her own with her character. There are some terrific episodes here and the "Bad Wolf" theme is really well done throughout. Rose's mother and father are also great additions. By the end, one is totally hooked on the relationship between Rose and the Doctor. Having that close a relationship really breaks the pattern of the first seven Doctors, but it dodges the bullet in the last seconds of the season. I also liked the introduction of Torchwood, not to mention the whole character of Captain Bannerman.
 
Made in: 2006
Director: Russell T. Davies (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #908, #99 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Monday, May 09, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Season 1
 
The first season of the rebooted series, and it's really good. It takes a little while to warm up to both the main characters, especially Eccleston. However, by the end, he is fantastic. I really liked his barely concealed anger. He is good at showing how prickly the Doctor can really be and how challenging it sometimes is dealing with people who repeatedly do stupid things. His weariness at the bad stuff he has seen is well-done, as is the way he shows how much Rose is able to change him and restore his optimism.
 
Made in: 2005
Director: Russell T. Davies
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #907, #98 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Saturday, May 07, 2011
 
Doctor Who: City of Death
 
First one I've seen with Lalla Ward (as the new Romana at least). I liked the idea of the one guy setting up various identities in different eras, as well as the idea of leaving himself objects that would be fantastically valuable in the future ("originals" of the Mona Lisa in this case). One thing that was odd though was the need to have an object that had to be stolen i order for the other items to be valuable. Obviously critical to the plot, how else would the Doctor be alerted, but not really credible if they bad guy was so smart. Surely a few other things could have been found that would have provided the necessary income in the future.

One thing which was interesting was the character of the wife of the bad guy. I think this perhaps is part of the reason why the show continues to be popular. The wife, a human, is really a complete character, she's fully drawn and not simply a repeat of an extra character template (like so many characters in Star Trek are, for example). Someone like the wife doesn't exist in any of the other episodes, as they have their own unique, well-crafted, characters. It makes the show endlessly interesting that there really are new and interesting personalities in every show, even if they don't happen to good or particularly smart.

 
Made in: 1979
Director: David Fisher , Douglas Adams (writers)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #906, #97 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Friday, May 06, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Three Doctors
 
A nice trick for the tenth anniversary of the show (broadcast at the end of 1972 and beginning of 1973). I liked the fact that the second two doctors didn't get along at first. Of the three, William Hartnell comes across as the best actor of the bunch. It was also nice to see scenes from Gallifrey and the other Time Lords. Not enough of that in most of the episodes. Some super silly fight choreography, but a pretty good episode overall.
 
Made in: 1972
Director: Bob Baker, Dave Martin (writers)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #905, #96 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Friday, May 06, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Carnival of Monsters
 
This is the first one I've seen with Jon Pertwee, and possibly the best yet of the classic episodes. The clumsy con artists are extremely well-acted, and their outfits are wonderful. The stupid bad guys try to be clever, but can't. Finally, the whole thing of wandering from monster to monster in the space of a small box is very well done.
 
Made in: 1973
Director: Robert Holmes (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #904, #95 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Saturday, April 30, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Mind Robber
 
This was my first episode with Patrick Troughton as the Doctor. I really liked him and his goofy ways. The video quality is bad, but still highly watchable as it seems it was filmed in order to overcome lack of detail--lots of close-ups, non-specific backgrounds--that kind of thing. Another element, of course, is the same low budget that was a feature of all the shows.

this episode has kind of a fantasy aspect, where the evil guy is stealing fairy tales from people's minds and making them real. Not super well done, but fun, nevertheless.

 
Made in: 1968
Director: David Maloney
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #903, #94 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Friday, April 29, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Ark in Space
 
Pretty reasonable episode, although the logic of the whole thing is slightly less believable than usual (even based on usual Doctor Who standards). The best part of this episode was the effects of the weird creatures. In their larval stage, the evil bugs were simply people wrapped in green bubble wrap. Very cheesy, and lots of fun.
 
Made in: 1975
Director: Robert Holmes (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #902, #93 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Thursday, April 28, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Power of Kroll
 
The fifth part of the Key to Time and a first-rate episode. The swampies are a fun native group, and the evil corporate guy is about as stereotypical as one can get. The best part is that he is the only bad guy--the other company men are clearly torn and quite philosophical about their role in the world, even as the giant, tentacled mushroom comes to devour them.
 
Made in: 1978
Director: Robert Holmes (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #901, #92 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Wednesday, April 27, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Androids of Tara
 
Skipped right to the 4th episode of the The Key to Time season. It's a really good one with some nice power play stuff all set in a combination of Medieval Europe and Westworld (i.e. lots of androids). It also has a terrific crazed megalomaniac--which is pretty much the sub-theme of this whole season. Romana gets lots of good lines as she spars with the Doctor.
 
Made in: 1978
Director: David Fisher (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #900, #91 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Pirate Planet
 
A story written by Douglas Adams is almost certainly going to be good, and this one is no disappointment. There are hilarious little asides in this one, especially in regards to the space captain. The switch at the end where he really isn't the main bad guy is a little hard to follow, but it's a very good series. The "mentiads" are also a nice addition.
 
Made in: 1978
Director: Douglas Adams (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #899, #90 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Monday, April 25, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Ribos Operation
 
While it's the first incarnation of Romana as the companion, Tom Baker has really settled into his role. His relationship with his new companion is very well done, annoyances and all. This one is fun for the con men at the heart of the story. It's also got a good mix of power politics, evil monsters, secret rocks, and the like. It's also the first part of the "The Key to Time" story arc, which has a good case for being the high point of the whole series.
 
Made in: 1978
Director: Robert Holmes (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #898, #89 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Sunday, April 24, 2011
 
Doctor Who: Pyramids of Mars
 
A fun Tom Baker story. It has Sarah Jane and some great mummies. While the title would imply something about Mars, all we actually see of the planet is a few rooms inside a chamber. The real pyramids are the ones in Egypt which have been hiding a terrifically inert bad guy. He's real bad though and trying to escape...
 
Made in: 1975
Director: Lewis Greifer , Robert Holmes (writers)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #897, #88 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Sunday, April 24, 2011
 
Doctor Who: The Aztecs
 
The first episode is called the Temple of Evil and aired May 23, 1964. So far, this is the earliest episode I've seen and the special effects, cheap sets, and overacting are really amazingly cheesy. However, the basic story model holds up and shows how little the essential nature of the show has changed. The Doctor still knows more than his companions, and they still don't listen to him all that much. He forgives them endlessly, mostly because of his intense curiosity and real enthusiasm for just about anything.

The other part that still holds up is the endless power struggles of the various different species the Doctor comes across (in this case humans, but you get the point). It's a really good episode despite the poor quality of the video. William Hartnell is terrific as the Doctor. One interesting bit was when one of the companions called him grandpa. Have to see what that's about. Also, the Doctor almost gets married--odd indeed.

 
Made in: 1964
Director: John Lucarotti (writer)
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #896, #87 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Saturday, April 16, 2011
 
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
 
Most definitely not the first time I've seen this one, but it was the first time for six-year-old Laura. It was fun watching her discover the charms of the movie--which seem especially geared to a six-year-old. She thought the best parts were where Karen Allen wears new dresses, and the worst were the parts where there was any kissing.

The movie still rankles me in the way it wants you you to buy in to the idea of God coming along to save the day at the end. Even a movie that really only aspires to be a very well-made comic book should treat its audience, and itself, with a little more respect. That said, there are two redeeming qualities. The opening scenes and the very last shot. Anything good and fun that is in any of the four Indiana Jones movies is summarized in the opening scene in the tomb. The thrills, the last second escape, the wonder, and the pure fun of telling a great story are perfectly captured in those five or ten minutes. All the rest is second-best. The last shot, of the enormous archive with the ark being buried in it, doesn't have the same depth to it, but it is a wonderful shot nonetheless. It is funny, it is reassuring, it humanizes much of the story, and, best of all, it leaves enough mystery and wonder so that the audience doesn't lose whatever magic the preceding two hours has given them. It's also a shot that could only be done in a movie, and reveals again that Spielberg's (and Lucas's) greatest strength is his deep, pure love of cinema.

 
Made in: 1981
Director: Steven Spielberg
Owned: Yes
Category: Action, Adventure
Movie #895, #86 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Saturday, April 09, 2011
 
Spartacus: Blood and Sand
 
Not really a movie, but a 13 episode TV series. It sure is quite a ride, with really good plot twists and enough evil characters for several series. The ending is a bit of a mystery, but overall, it was really satisfying. Have to say that the almost fetishistic need to have blood spraying all over the screen was a bit much, but still pretty good fun. Watched via Netflix.
 
Made in: 2010
Director: Steven S. DeKnight
Owned: No
Category: Action, Adventure
Movie #894, #85 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Monday, March 28, 2011
 
Old Boy
 
This is a very twisted tale of torture and revenge with an incredible performance in the middle of it. The violence is highly stylized but works really well in what is essentially a subversion of a cheap knock-off genre movie. For all the confusion of the plot it unfolds remarkably well and the horror of it all builds inexorably.
 
Made in: 2003
Director: Chan-wook Park
Owned: No
Category: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Movie #893, #84 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Wednesday, March 25, 2009
 
The Men Who Stare at Goats
 
I really enjoyed this light, crispy bon-bon. And I don't think it was just the painkillers I'm taking for my hip. The performances are really fun, except for the slightly underused Kevin Spacey. Ewan MacGregor and George Clooney just work great together. Clooney seems to be channeling a little bit of his "Burn After Reading" role but without the extreme self-centeredness at the core. All, except maybe Spacey, have an earnest innocence to them that makes it a winner. The ending kind of falls apart on believability, and the tone isn't quite bouncy enough to carry the whimsy through all of it, but it really is lots of fun.
 
Made in: 2009
Director: Grant Heslov
Owned: No
Category: Comedy, War
Movie #892, #83 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Saturday, February 05, 2011
 
127 hours
 
A really thrilling movie. It's a gripping true story at its heart, but that's only part of what makes this so good. The direction and editing make what is really a very long wait into a compelling narrative. That, along with the goofy, winning arrogance of James Franco, makes it exciting every step of the way.
 
Made in: 2010
Director: Danny Boyle
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Thriller
Movie #891, #82 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Saturday, February 05, 2011
 
True Grit
 
There is genuine pleasure in solid, excellent craftsmanship. Everything about this movie is well done, the writing, the acting, and the way it is all put together. It doesn't need deeper significance for it to be a genuine pleasure. Coen movies have always been about the characters, even the most depraved of which the brothers have shown a genuine care and sensitivity for, perhaps most especially in the way they talk. This story has great characters but what makes it sparkle is the richness of language, which the Coen's are careful to nuture in its every nuance.
 
Made in: 2010
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Western
Movie #890, #81 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Wednesday, February 02, 2011
 
Love and Other Drugs
 
Unwatchable. Really amazingly bad. Anne Hathaway can act, but she and the rest of the cast are cut loose in a sea of under-conceived and dropped plotlines. Not even worth mentioning the ridiculous cliches (so many they start to contradict themselves). A poor, poor tribute to Jill Clayburgh whose last movie this was.
 
Made in: 2010
Director: Edward Zwick
Owned: No
Category: Comedy, Drama
Movie #889, #80 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 1

Sunday, January 09, 2011
 
Withnail and I
 
Didn't seem like much when I first saw it, but it kind of stays with you afterwards. Reminds me a lot of Cold Comfort Farm with its (semi-) warm embrace of any number of complete loons in London and the British countryside. I can imagine the guys doing this must have had an absolutely hilarious time making it. The lines are overwritten, but work really well. Richard Griffiths steals the show every time he shows up, and it's wonderful to watch. Just the way he delivers "I, too, once crept the boards..." makes it all worthwhile.
 
Made in: 1987
Director: Bruce Robinson
Owned: No
Category: Comedy, Drama
Movie #888, #79 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Thursday, January 06, 2011
 
Man on Wire
 
An amazing, slightly bittersweet, story of the guy who walked between the World Trade Center towers. Philippe Petit was clearly possessed by his goal for many years and it's hard to stop anyone with such single-minded focus. It appears from the movie that he ended up losing some of his friends--and a girlfriend in particular--who were captivated by him and his dream, but it was, no doubt, still worth it. What he managed to do is still so amazing and incredible that it really defies all reason. And the movie does a terrific job of putting it all together and explaining it. Wonderful stuff.
 
Made in: 2008
Director: James Marsh
Owned: No
Category: Documentary, Crime
Movie #887, #78 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Friday, December 31, 2010
 
The Beckoning Silence
 
A really interesting and thrilling recreation of a failed mountain climbing expedition on the north face of the Eiger. It also has the second theme of Joe Simpson reliving his own experience of almost dying at the end of a rope.
 
Made in: 2007
Director: Louise Osmond
Owned: Yes
Category: Drama
Movie #886, #77 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Wednesday, December 29, 2010
 
Gun Crazy
 
Deservedly a classic film noir, but too dated and obvious to be of much interest now. The terrific lighting, foreshadowing, crazy camera angles and excellent composition don't quite make up for a painfully obvious storyline and conclusion. The acting is not great and the characters, with the one exception of John Dahl, are so one-dimensional, it's hard to care much about them. I did like the cool foggy swamp scene at the end, the highlight of lots of great scenes, but it's a long slog to get there.
 
Made in: 1950
Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Owned: Yes
Category: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
Movie #885, #76 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Saturday, December 25, 2010
 
In the Loop
 
This is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. It's not for everyone as the language is definitely on the adult end of the scale, but it is a brutally accurate (if possibly a little exagerrated) story of life in a big political bureaucracy.
 
Made in: 2009
Director: Armando Iannucci
Owned: No
Category: Comedy
Movie #884, #75 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Saturday, December 11, 2010
 
Metropolis
 
This is a movie I've seen many, many times in various versions over more than 30 years. The earliest versions were on Super 8 borrowed from the library and it is hard now to recreate the power that the movie had then. However, this is now probably the most complete version of the movie there will be, and it is still terrific. There is much more plotting around Rotwang and Freder's father which is very interesting. Brigitte Helm as the good Maria is not nearly as interesting as the evil Machine-Man, and she still makes the movie really come alive as soon as the evil Maria makes her entrance.
 
Made in: 1927
Director: Fritz Lang
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #883, #74 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Saturday, December 11, 2010
 
Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll
 
As interesting and complex as ever. Not only does it give you a great history lesson of early rock, but it also tries to give you a sense of a clearly very difficult man. They hint at Berry's legal problems, but a sense of depression and sadness pervades the whole thing, all through the final shot of the empty pool at the end. Keith Richards is terrific.
 
Made in: 1987
Director: Taylor Hackford
Owned: Yes
Category: Documentary, Biography, Music
Movie #882, #73 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Thursday, August 12, 2010
 
A Sunday in Hell
 
This is a terrific movie about the 1976 Paris-Roubaix race. Probably best appreciated by cycling fans, the scenes on the pave really show how difficult and how crazy it is to race on those "roads". It doesn't spoon-feed you the principles behind drafting, but it does make it clear that while De Vlaeminck was the strongest why he didn't end up winning. It also shows a lot of the preparation for the race and the fanaticism of Mercks about his bike setup. Also intersting to see the old stone showers at the end of the race in Roubaix.
 
Made in: 1976
Director: Jørgen Leth
Owned: Yes
Category: Documentary, Sport
Movie #881, #72 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Friday, June 04, 2010
 
The Big Lebowski
 
Watched on Netflix on the laptop. It's been a while since I first saw this, and it holds up pretty well. What struck me this time is how disjointed the whole thing is--scenes exist in and of themselves without really needing or playing much off of previous or later scenes. The Ben Gazarra/Jackie Treehorn stuff is certainly not needed at all, for example. Even the characters, John Goodman's is the most obvious, barely interact with other characters at all. Perhaps that helps make the movie's cult status more understandable. Each viewer can put his own read on each element, without having to tie the whole thing together. The Dude is just there is serve as a reference point as all the panoply of life in LA washes over him.
 
Made in: 1998
Director: Joel Coen
Owned: No
Category: Comedy, Crime
Movie #880, #71 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Friday, May 07, 2010
 
Synecdoche, New York
 
The first two-thirds of this movie are pretty amazing. Kaufman's signature plot inventiveness and skill at dialogue is in full play (pun intended). The last third kind of peters out. He tries to keep the clever and revealing bits going, but it doesn't quite work the way one would like. Diane Wiest just seems wasted in her role. On the other hand, Samantha Morton is terrific, and it's always good to see Tom Noonan. Catherine Keener is as scary as ever. Philip Seymour Hoffman confirms that (along with Paul Giamatti) he should be in pretty much every movie made.
 
Made in: 2008
Director: Charlie Kaufman
Owned: Yes
Category: Comedy, Drama
Movie #879, #70 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Friday, April 02, 2010
 
Fantastic Mr. Fox
 
On Blu-ray.
 
Made in: 2009
Director: Wes Anderson
Owned: Yes
Category: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Family
Movie #878, #69 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Wednesday, March 31, 2010
 
Miracle
 
It's not the fastest moving film ever, but it is really solid and very well made. The real treat is Kurt Russell, who really surprised me not only with his acting, but his Minnesota accent. Patricia Clarkson is always fantastic and this movie is no different. If there is a complaint it's that she's not on screen enough. Part of the appeal of this movie is that having lived through the history of it, it becomes more exciting. Realizing just how difficult a job the US team had is always amazing. For the kids, it was less exciting, partly because they had no reference to it. On iTunes.
 
Made in: 2004
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Owned: No
Category: Drama, Family, History, Sport
Movie #877, #68 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Tuesday, December 29, 2009
 
Bad Day at Black Rock
 
Coincidentally, another movie featuring Spencer Tracy, Walter Brennan, and mob justice. Although the mob this time is a little smaller, Robert Ryan is pretty good as an evil guy. This was filmed in a 2.2 aspect ratio, which really makes the desert scenery shine. It isn't really needed for what is essentially a pretty minor little drama, and the direction is also trying to make it much bigger than it really is. Spencer Tracy is his usual outstanding self, and Lee Marvin is also terrific in a very small role.
 
Made in: 1955
Director: John Sturges
Owned: Yes
Category: Drama, Thriller, Western
Movie #876, #67 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Monday, December 28, 2009
 
Fury
 
It starts off slow, but gets very exciting very quickly. It's dark, with some plot twists that are still not usual among courtroom dramas. Spencer Tracy is okay as a nice guy, but gets really good when he is angry. Pretty grim look at mob justice and what passes for justice in America. Lang has good direction, but he doesn't use his most dramatic lighting tricks. Nevertheless, pretty thrilling. After watching this, one can't help but wonder what kind of ambivalent feelings Lang must have had for his adopted home.
 
Made in: 1936
Director: Fritz Lang
Owned: Yes
Category: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir, Romance, Thriller
Movie #875, #66 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Saturday, December 26, 2009
 
Casablanca
 
Obviously a repeat viewing, but still a classic. Bogart's performance is what I focused on this time. One doesn't really know what he's going to do until the end, and his shooting of the German is still a surprise.
 
Made in: 1942
Director: Michael Curtiz
Owned: Yes
Category: Drama, Romance, War
Movie #874, #65 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Friday, December 25, 2009
 
Peter Pan
 
A Christmas viewing of a classic. The colors and vibrancy of the animation still hold strong, even with a few non-pc elements. Great fun.
 
Made in: 1953
Director: Clyde Geronimi
Owned: Yes
Category: Animation, Adventure, Fantasy, Family, Music
Movie #873, #64 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Wednesday, December 16, 2009
 
The Station Agent
 
Watched on the plane back from Hong Kong. This is an absolutely terrific little movie. And by little, I mean that there are a few characters (one of whom is little) and a basic plot. There is nothing little in the execution though. The theme is about how people need each other, and it is very subtle, real, and very direct in how it goes about its business. Wonderful.
 
Made in: 2003
Director: Thomas McCarthy
Owned: No
Category: Comedy, Drama
Movie #872, #63 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Wednesday, December 16, 2009
 
Nanook of the North
 
It's kind of amazing that I'd never seen this before, even though it's been close to thirty years since I first read about how important a milestone it was. It definitely lives up to its billing. Despite how old it is, the harshness of Nanook's life really comes through. One has only to watch Nanook's wife chewing on his boots in the morning to loosen them up to see that. Yet, watching him teach his son how to shoot an arrow is wonderfully fun as well. It is pretty incredible to think that this guy also died of starvation within two years after this movie. And this was not that long ago--barely 90 years. Terrificly enjoyable movie. One specific highlight was watching almost his entire family crawl out of the inside of his kayak. Watched this on the plane from Hong Kong to Chicago.
 
Made in: 1922
Director: Robert J. Flaherty
Owned: No
Category: Documentary
Movie #871, #62 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Wednesday, December 16, 2009
 
The Exterminating Angel
 
At times it feels like a bit of a warm-up to The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, and at others a more subtle treatment of the similar themes in El and, later, Viridiana. All the same, it is a terrific movie, which never flags. The mood of irrationality is so strong that it made me want to scream at the characters "just leave the room!" The link to the church at the end is more obvious than Bunuel's later work, but it is still very, very effective.

Watched this on a plane from Chicago to Beijing.

 
Made in: 1962
Director: Luis Bunuel
Owned: Yes
Category: Drama, Fantasy, Mystery
Movie #870, #61 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Saturday, November 14, 2009
 
Peeping Tom
 
The plot is pretty basic, an obvious Freudian conflict where the son has been terrorized by his psychiatrist father. The weird element of the spike in the tripod leg is still pretty shocking though. What makes this especially strange is the fact that Powell seems to be making a scary judgement about the nature of filmmaking itself. There are great Powell touches, especially, of course, in the use of color. The fact that a blind woman is the one who sees the most clearly is both evidence of some of the obviousness of the movie, but also its clever dark heart. The style of this one reminds me a lot of the Hitchcock movie Frenzy. The acting doesn't offer much interest, except for Moira Shearer dancing around "just warming up" before she is stuffed in a trunk. The fact that the killer has a German accent, despite growing up in England is never really explained.
 
Made in: 1960
Director: Michael Powell
Owned: No
Category: Crime, Drama, Horror, Thriller
Movie #869, #60 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Friday, October 30, 2009
 
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
 
This is a really good, tight, little thriller. The setup and resolution are very simple, but the bits are just great. A significant extra bonus is the criminals are named after colors--obviously an inspiration for Reservoir Dogs. There is not a lot of fluff, or character development here. We know nothing about Matthau's character, or anybody other than the absolute minimum needed to understand martin Balsam and Robert Shaw's skill sets. Motivation is barely there. But it is not needed. What is also surprising is how brutal and frank the violence and language is. While the movie did date from 1974, even still the brutality is a bit shocking. The bits with the mayor are hilarious, and the view of New York from the mid-70s is pretty bleak.
 
Made in: 1974
Director: Joseph Sargent
Owned: No
Category: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Movie #868, #59 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Wednesday, June 24, 2009
 
The Wire, Season 4
 
 
Made in:
Director:
Owned: No
Category:
Movie #867, #58 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009
 
The Wire, Season 3
 
 
Made in:
Director:
Owned: No
Category:
Movie #866, #57 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars:

Saturday, June 20, 2009
 
The Wire, Season 2
 
 
Made in:
Director:
Owned: No
Category:
Movie #865, #56 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009
 
The Wire, Season 1
 
Riveting. Well-written and well-acted. I couldn't stop watching, which isn't great when getting some sleep is kind of important for the next day. It's also fairly depressing, in an infectious kind of way. I kept looking at everyone around me and wondering what drugs they were dealing.
 
Made in: 2002
Director: David Simon
Owned: Yes
Category: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Movie #864, #55 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Saturday, June 06, 2009
 
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
 
Warren Oates is just great. This movie is pretty raw, with some ragged edges, but it is very, very good.
 
Made in: 1974
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Owned: No
Category: Adventure, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Movie #863, #54 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Monday, May 18, 2009
 
Looking for Richard
 
I thought this movie was terrific. Not all of the performances were good, but the overall effect, as well as the explanatory parts about the play, were great. Seeing Alec Baldwin as Clarence was fun as well. This effort really makes the play come alive as well as making the weird plot twists much more understandable.
 
Made in: 1996
Director: Al Pacino
Owned: No
Category: Documentary, Drama
Movie #862, #53 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Friday, April 03, 2009
 
Pan's Labyrinth
 
Although I can't say I really understood this movie completely, it is an amazing ride. The feeling one gets in the hands of someone totally in control of their art is here in spades. Every shot works beautifully and builds until the final moments.
 
Made in: 2006
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Owned: Yes
Category: Drama, Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller
Movie #861, #52 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Wednesday, December 31, 2008
 
Charlie Chan's Secret
 
This is actually the first Chan movie I've ever seen. It starred Warner Oland and it was not a bad way to spend a nicely quick 72 minutes. The story was good, not too many plot holes, the acting passable, and the whole thing fairly reasonable. Again, not everything here is Citizen Kane, but I'm certainly not sorry I watched it. Fairly fun for an end of the year movie as well.
 
Made in: 1936
Director: Gordon Wiles
Owned: No
Category: Comedy, Crime, Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Movie #860, #51 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Tuesday, December 30, 2008
 
Iron Man
 
With this entry I guess I've now seen the two biggest movies of the summer--perhaps leaving only The Hulk to finish things off. This movie is not bad, and, yes, Robert Downey Jr. is terrific. The problem is that the movie feels incredibly thin, like it's a movie schematic much more than a full-fledged movie with a story. Even the romance with Gwyneth Paltrow is less explained or developed than simply hinted at. Presumably the audience is so familiar with the stereotype of unconsummated relationships with secretaries that there is no need for actual plausibility, or even chemistry. I liked Jeff Bridges as the bad guy--even hidden in a suit his voice work was terrific. As I said, Downey was good, but he really only seemed to have one note, its a great note, but just the one note nevertheless.
 
Made in: 2008
Director: Jon Favreau
Owned: No
Category: Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Movie #859, #50 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Saturday, December 27, 2008
 
Tinker Bell
 
Okay, so not every movie here is Citizen Kane. However, this one was a big hit with the four-year old, and actually it's not nearly as bad as it might have been. The new mythology of fairies is a little goofy, but the treacle is kept to a reasonable minimum and there are some fairly intense parts that make it more than just an exercise in marketing. Most importantly, it really looks good, with terrific animation and design that make even the boring parts worth watching through.
 
Made in: 2008
Director: Bradley Raymond
Owned: Yes
Category: Animation, Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Movie #858, #49 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Friday, November 21, 2008
 
The Fearless Freaks
 
This is all about the band "The Flaming Lips." The band members seem pretty normal at first, and the lives they led in Oklahoma were not really that interesting at first. The slight tedium is accented by the fact that the movie seems to be made for people who already know a lot about the band. It didn't really feel like there was enough explication of what was going on. Then, about halfway through, the really interesting stuff starts to happen. The band members have lots and lots of problems, and their families seem totally dysfunctional. The most horrific part is when we watch the best musician of the group slowly prepare his herion fix. It's quite frightening. So by the end, it's really quite a happy story of success, although it does make one wonder how it's all going to turn out in the end. This is another instant Netflix download and it worked perfectly.
 
Made in: 2005
Director: Bradley Beesley
Owned: No
Category: Documentary, Music
Movie #857, #48 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Saturday, November 15, 2008
 
March of the Penguins
 
This is an amazing movie, filled with incredible shots and a story which simply defies imagining. As cute as it is at times, it's also incredibly sad and violent, such as when the seal eats a penguin ("taking not just the life of the mother, but also her chick who will die of hunger.") I saw this movie in the theater and it is well worth the second look. This one was also watched via Netflix download.
 
Made in: 2005
Director: Luc Jacquet
Owned: No
Category: Documentary, Family
Movie #856, #47 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Saturday, November 08, 2008
 
Superbad
 
There are some parts in the first half that are really funny. Amazingly crude, but still very funny. Then it really goes downhill. The stab at some real emotion near the end is not enough to make it a decent movie. If anything, it shows just how hard it is to make a good John Hughes movie. This movie is the first one I've watched via Netflix download, thus expanding the ways in which I watch movies. The quality was good, and certainly more than adequate for this movie.
 
Made in: 2007
Director: Greg Mottola
Owned: No
Category: Comedy
Movie #855, #46 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Thursday, October 30, 2008
 
Speed Racer
 
This movie seemed to be almost universally reviled on release. It's too bad, because the movie is just loads of fun. The story is exactly as silly and formulaic as the original series, but actually pretty well acted. The terrific part is the non-stop visual action. The colors are retina-scarring, and the editing is rediculously fun. Add in the really cool racetracks, the ridiculous cars, and the even more ridiculous physics of the races and the whole package is a winner.
 
Made in: 2008
Director: Larry Wachowski, Andy Wachowski
Owned: No
Category: Action, Family, Sport
Movie #854, #45 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Saturday, October 18, 2008
 
Ace in the Hole
 
This one plays like of mash-up of Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard. It's a pretty dark take on human greed, this time through the eye of a newspaperman. It isn't just the journalists who are bad though. Only the father of the victim and the grandmother really escape condemnation. The problem is that there isn't the same style or pleasure in the movie that Wilder had in his other ones. Kirk Douglas is just loathsome; we can't even understand why the editor of the paper hires him in the first place. Of course, he gets his in the end, as the Hays Code required, but it isn't even that satisfying. That's not to say it isn't a very interesting movie to watch. I give it four stars because it has a lot of the Wilder quality, especially in the writing. At the end of the day though, it's not quite up to the level of Wilder's other great ones.
 
Made in: 1951
Director: Billy Wilder
Owned: Yes
Category: Drama, Film Noir
Movie #853, #44 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Saturday, October 18, 2008
 
Gate of Flesh
 
This is one very bleak movie. After the war life is cheap and people are cruel, selfish, vicious, and uncaring. The Americans are to blame, but the Japanese are even more so. More importantly, that's the way human nature is--even the priest is susceptible. And this dark story is told via the bright searing colors and jumping crosscuts of Suzuki's usual style. It's a beautiful movie for all its nastiness. The colors of the women's dresses contrasts against the drabness of their environment--even the water sucks light out the air.
 
Made in: 1964
Director: Seijun Suzuki
Owned: Yes
Category: Drama
Movie #852, #43 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Friday, September 05, 2008
 
Black Book
 
Quite decent war, mystery movie with a good twist at the end. It's got some classic Verhoeven touches which helps make it pretty watchable and enjoyable. The problem is that there really isn't much more to it than that. Compared to much of Verhoeven's great work in the past, this is fairly workmanlike. basic stuff. Nothing super interesting or insightful, just a well-told story about how both sides had some bad people and some good people.
 
Made in: 2006
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Owned: No
Category: Drama, Thriller, War
Movie #851, #42 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Sunday, May 04, 2008
 
The Simpsons Movie
 
The big worry with this movie was that it wouldn't hold up over close to two hours. Although it really only lasts for about 90 minutes, there was no need to worry. The movie is consistently funny and manages to be a very good example of a Simpsons episode while also being comprehensive enough to stand on its own as a kind of "ultimate" Simpsons experience. The extra time allows for a lot of the minor characters to have roles and the humor is consistently good throughout. The usual caveats are there: Homer doesn't need to such a complete fool as he is now so frequently portrayed. Overall, though, it is pretty darn good. It's tough to beat the sheer looniness of the "Spider-Pig."

This movie was also bought on iTunes and watched on my iPod, rather than via DVD.

 
Made in: 2007
Director: David Silverman
Owned: Yes
Category: Action, Comedy
Movie #850, #41 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Tuesday, April 29, 2008
 
The Bourne Ultimatum
 
Really a terrific movie. It was a bit better than the second one in the series and certainly did a very effective job in building suspense. The action scenes were excellent. I still think that the first one was best because Bourne did such a good job of acting out his slow realization of who he really was. This one though was about as good as action movies get these days. That is, the action was great, but the character work still leaves a bit to be desired.
 
Made in: 2007
Director: Paul Greengrass
Owned: No
Category: Action, Adventure, Mystery, Thriller
Movie #849, #40 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Friday, April 18, 2008
 
The Bourne Supremacy
 
A very nicely done movie. The acting, story, editing (especially) are all very well done. It's not quite as good as the first one because there isn't the same sense of discovery and confusion about who Bourne really is. The link to Russian oil magnate also was not too interesting, nor was the Russian assassin as threatening or fleshed out as he might have been. Back to a real DVD for this one.
 
Made in: 2004
Director: Paul Greengrass
Owned: No
Category: Action, Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Movie #848, #39 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Monday, April 07, 2008
 
Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer
 
Pretty bad. Some of the effects are good, but the writing and the acting are atrocious. It says something when the best actor of the movie is a metal guy who can't seem to move his face. I did like seeing Dr. Doom come back; he actually provides a nice lift to the movie, but there isn't nearly enough of him.

This movie was rented from iTunes and watched on my Apple TV. I selected the HD version and it looked pretty good--about as good as an upscaled DVD, but not quite equal to a good HD movie on broadcast TV.

 
Made in: 2007
Director: Tim Story
Owned: No
Category: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Movie #847, #38 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Friday, January 11, 2008
 
The Bourne Identity
 
Remarkably good. In fact, it is a genuine surprise (and pleasure) at how good this movie really is. The acting is excellent, the story is sound, and it is all pretty much credible--unlike so many other secret agent movies. Matt Damon must have been a hard sell to make this, but he's terrific. While the director got bounced for the next one due to some apparent problems in shooting this one, the end product really works well. I thought the direction was great. A vudu movie in HD!
 
Made in: 2002
Director: Doug Liman
Owned: Yes
Category: Action, Adventure, Mystery, Thriller
Movie #846, #37 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Sunday, December 30, 2007
 
Ocean's Thirteen
 
Just a big silly movie that is lots of fun. It makes little sense overall, but it barely matters as the real pleasure is watching very good actors have loads of fun together. The only real disappointment is that putting the heist together is better than its denouement. Having everything work out at the end just isn't that satisfying after the great setup. Fun popcorn without lots of violence. Also great to see Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin join this ride.

This movie is the first one we watched on our new Vudu box. It's a digital download, and the quality is definitely equal to a DVD. So this mode also qualifies as part of this list.

 
Made in: 2007
Director: Stephen Soderbergh
Owned: No
Category: Comedy, Crime, Thriller
Movie #845, #36 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Saturday, December 22, 2007
 
Meet the Robinsons
 
Like so many animation pics lately this movie just looks fantastic. Also, the animation of the characters is really nice, especially of the bad guy. His moves are wonderful to look at. However, the plot, while okay, is really nothing special, and there isn't much to the movie to really make it shine.
 
Made in: 2007
Director: Stephen J. Anderson
Owned: No
Category: Animation, Adventure, Family, Comedy, Sci-Fi
Movie #844, #35 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Sunday, December 09, 2007
 
Outskirts
 
I liked this bit of Soviet propaganda quite a bit. Beyond the obvious political stuff, there are some great montages, and some really nice editing througout. The war scenes are not bad, and the variety of emotion and characters is quite good. The friendship between the Russian and German old men, plus the daughter and the Gernman soldier are very well handled.
 
Made in: 1933
Director: Boris Barnet
Owned: No
Category: War, Drama
Movie #843, #34 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Sunday, December 09, 2007
 
City Lights
 
At first this comes across as pretty much a series of vignettes, tied together only by the barest of links. However, the magic of Chaplin is pretty evident throughout and his expressiveness is pretty amazing. What really makes it though is the final thirty seconds, when the Blind Girl finally realizes who the Tramp is. It is an incredible moment.
 
Made in: 1931
Director: Charles Chaplin
Owned: No
Category: Comdey, Drama, Romance
Movie #842, #33 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Sunday, December 02, 2007
 
The Naked City
 
I've had some issues with previous Jules Dassin movies, but this one is really first-rate. The photography, which is really the prupose of the movie, is excellent, and it works quite well as police procedural. Even though the dialogue is unimportant for the movie, it still has lots of good humor and insight in it. Lots of great scenes of life in New York City in the 1940s.
 
Made in: 1948
Director: Jules Dassin
Owned: Yes
Category: Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery, Drama
Movie #841, #32 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Sunday, December 02, 2007
 
Live Free or Die Hard
 
It certainly moves along quickly enough, and the banter between Justin Long and Bruce Willis is very well done. The effects are impressive, but oddly enough, don't actually feel to be part of the movie. By the end, with the jet and truck on the highway overpasses they simply make no sense at all. One problem with this kind of movie is the weird trade-off that seems to be made all the time: to save one person we care about, the protagnonists put several hundred or more other people at risk of dying. yes, it is nce to save Willis's daughter in the movie, but how that compares to risking the lives of thousands of unkown people is not quite clear. The movie starts out credibly enough, but by the end just falls apart. Having Kevin Smith in the thing is a nice touch.
 
Made in: 2007
Director: Len Wiseman
Owned: Yes
Category: Action, Adventure, Crime, Thriller
Movie #840, #31 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Saturday, December 01, 2007
 
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
 
First of all, Benicio Del Toro is fantastic in this--actually better than Johnny Depp. Depp is a bit over the top, more a cartoon than a real person. Other than that it's fun to watch and is full of the visual tricks and flash that are the hallmarks of Gilliam's work. While it is interesting and wild, what is missing is much of a point. The book probably did a better job of bringing out the mood and feel of a time. The movie clearly is trying to reach for something like that, but doesn't quite get there. What is left is the gimmickry and the appalling embarassment of Thompson's behavior, without any balancing benefit.
 
Made in: 1998
Director: Terry Gilliam
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Comedy, Crime, Drama
Movie #839, #30 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Tuesday, November 27, 2007
 
Planet Terror
 
This is the longer version as well, and this one, as opposed to Death Proof, works really well as a full-length feature. The movie is fun, the acting is great and over the top by all concerned, and the story holds together wonderfully. This is a big, fun, thrill ride, without too much excess to turn people off. I was surprised to see that the Tarantino movie was not nearly as good as the Rodriguez one.
 
Made in: 2007
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Owned: Yes
Category: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Movie #838, #29 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Monday, November 26, 2007
 
Death Proof
 
This is the longer feature-film version of the movie, and perhaps it suffers a bit from the extra length. The conversation among the women is good, but it drags a bit. The car chase, when it finally happens is pretty darn thrilling and very well done. Kurt Russell is very, very creepy. While the women are all pretty good, none of them really stand out from the others.
 
Made in: 2007
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Owned: Yes
Category: Crime
Movie #837, #28 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Monday, November 26, 2007
 
Blades of Glory
 
One really silly movie, that has probably enough laughs for a good sitcom episode, but feels a bit thin on a major movie. But then, that isn't really the point. It's a fun and ridiculous exercise that is actually funnier than lots of other so-so comedies. Will Farrell is quite funny and is nicely balanced by Jon Heder. Will Arnett is terrific as usual. Jenna Fischer is, unfortunately, a bit miscast.
 
Made in: 2007
Director: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
Owned: Yes
Category: Comedy, Romance, Sport
Movie #836, #27 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Saturday, November 24, 2007
 
I Vitelloni
 
It's pretty good, and it certianly shows off some of the talent that Fellini later used to such good effect in his better movies. For example, his skill with chaotic people scenes such as the beach party that gets rained out, and the Carnival Ball, is on full display. But the message of the movie is a little simplistic, and not too insightful. A couple of nice moments, but more important as an example of Fellini's development, than as a great movie in itself.
 
Made in: 1953
Director: Federico Fellini
Owned: Yes
Category: Drama
Movie #835, #26 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Saturday, November 24, 2007
 
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
 
Just stunningly beautiful. Reminded me a lot of the anime Metropolis in terms of the sheer drop-dead gorgeousness of it. The mix between 2-D and 3-D was really well done. Tons of details, including in the reflections and backgrounds that are worth lots and lots of careful study. The story is also much more comprehensible than the first GITS, which was an unexpected bonus.
 
Made in: 2004
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Owned: Yes
Category: Action, Animation, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Movie #834, #25 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Saturday, November 03, 2007
 
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
 
I liked this movie quite a bit. Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer have great chemistry, and are excellent on their own delivering the snapy lines that Shane Black is famous for. In the end, the movie's cleverness and inside jokes are all good and fun to watch. The one problem is that the core mystery isn't all that interesting. If it were better, the whole movie would have held together more. Good lines and clever structure just aren't enough to put this thing over the top. I do hope that Shane Black does more of these though. They are fun.

One small note: this movie was actually watched on my iPod, rather than off of a DVD (it did come off of a DVD originally though). That's just the way digital movies are going. Who am I to buck the trend? This is also the first movie I've watched in any digital (and non-TV) form in quite a while. It was fun watching this one, but the demands of time and the allure of plenty of good television around don't mean that lots of more movies are in my future anytime soon.
 
Made in: 2005
Director: Shane Black
Owned: No
Category: Comedy, Mystery, Thriller
Movie #833, #24 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Friday, April 06, 2007
 
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
 
Hard to say much about this movie except that it really is as funny as many say it is. There are parts that are cringe-inducing, such as the part where he tries to shake people's hands on the subway, but overall the quality of the humor really lasts through the entire thing.
 
Made in: 2006
Director: Larry Charles
Owned: No
Category: Comedy
Movie #832, #23 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Sunday, February 25, 2007
 
The Incredibles
 
At least the second time around for this great film--perhaps Pixar's best. I was a little doubtful at first, but each watching makes this one better and better. In addition to the characters, the set design just keeps on revealing more and more wonderful stuff. Always a good time to watch this movie again.
 
Made in: 2004
Director: Brad Bird
Owned: Yes
Category: Animation, Action, Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi
Movie #831, #22 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Sunday, February 25, 2007
 
The Thing From Another World
 
A remarkably good formula science fiction movie. It may stick to the basics of a crazy scientist, a manly hero, the female lead, the monster, etc, but what it really has is the classic Howard Hawks banter between the characters. It is the script and the relaxed way between the leads that really sets this movie apart from its many lesser genre counterparts.
 
Made in: 1951
Director: Christian Nyby
Owned: Yes
Category: Horror, Sci-Fi
Movie #830, #21 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Wednesday, February 14, 2007
 
I Am a Sex Addict
 
Quite a disturbing movie that goes way beyond what one might usually expect from a "confessional autobiography". Zahedi does an amazing job in describing the horrible things that his addiction to sex has done to his personal relationships. There is a frankness to his discussions, without any apparent irony at all, that at first seems so sincere that it is both off-putting and unbelievable. As the movie moves on though, with references to the actual actors, and old footage of Zahedi and the real-life people depicted, one begins to accept it as genuine. It really takes something to be so incredibly honest (not to mention naive and wildly narcissistic) to repeat the kinds of things Zahedi has done and said to the people in his life. More disturbing than the sex really, is how Zahedi presents himself to the people around him. Often it has the quite understandable effect of causing great pain to his friends even as he seems oddly unaware of the impact of his actions. While this sounds horrible, it works in the context of the movie. It raises serious questions not only about the costs and perils of addiction, but also the kind of self-awareness that might be necessary for someone to produce meaningful and affecting art.
 
Made in: 2005
Director: Caveh Zahedi
Owned: No
Category: Biography, Comedy
Movie #829, #20 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Tuesday, February 13, 2007
 
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
 
Sort of like "Raising Arizona", but set among the NASCAR set. What this movie lacks though is the same sense of love for its characters. The jokes are quite funny, although there aren't quite enough of them, but the jokes are all on the characters themselves. The people are just stupid and loathsome, rather than being genuine people earning our fondness despite their foibles. Perhaps that doesn't matter, as the point of the thing is to make fun of these people. The crudeness and nastiness takes its toll, though, which mitigates much of the potential appeal of Will Ferrell. "Elf" for instance, is a good example of how this kind of thing can be done better, without the undertone of viciousness. One final note: it's really surprising how long it takes for this movie to get started. There's barely a laugh at all throughout the whole first part of the movie. Even after that, there are precious few genuine gags.
 
Made in: 2006
Director: Adam McKay
Owned: Yes
Category: Action, Comedy, Sport
Movie #828, #19 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 2

Tuesday, February 06, 2007
 
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
 
Not much happened in 2006, so I just sticking with this list for now. As separate list with 2007 only may come later.

I really liked this movie. There is a very interesting dynamic between the need for Barris to get attention and the same time so much about himself that he loathes. This loathing then carries over into his possibly real work as a hitman. Sam Rockwell is just fantastic to watch. How he moves and frowns and grimaces is perfect for the role. Everybody else was good as well, even Drew Barrymore, who was a little miscast. Great script as well by Charlie Kaufman.

 
Made in: 2002
Director: George Clooney
Owned: No
Category: Biography,Comedy, Crime, Drama,Thriller
Movie #827, #18 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Saturday, December 30, 2006
 
Cars
 
It's not bad, but it's just not all that good either. It is a bit too long, for a payoff that isn't really all that interesting. As they often are in Pixar movies, the little things are done extremely well, and in this case they are the best part of the movie. There are all sorts of little car and racing jokes in the movie, and the backgrounds and artwork is stupendous (and car-inspired). Yet, even with that it doesn't really grab one the way Pixar's better efforts have. I think part of the problem is with Owen Wilson--he's good at being a self-absorbed jerk, but as a voice, he doesn't quite cut it. Paul Newman as the old racing car, a joke in itself, is better, but he also doesn't have the same "voice presence" that was so evident in other Pixar characters. Certainly not bad to watch, but there is little reason to think that this one is worth as many repeated viewings as previous Pixar efforts have been.

A short note at the end of the year: this has been a spectacularly small year for watching DVDs. For whatever reason, I have not watched all that many, even given plenty of opportunities on airplanes on the way back and forth to Asia. I'm not quite sure why, although fatigue with many movies definitely was a factor. Having watched a fair share of bad movies, I don't feel in the mood to repeat the experience. Of course, many good, and great, ones remain to be watched, but the urgency of previous years has faded a bit. I did very much like watchng the several TV series that I mention below, and I've been watching other series on my iPod, which didn't seem to qualify for mentioning in this forum. However, "Battlestar Galactica", "The Office", and a couple of others have taken a lot of time that might have been spent watching a DVD. Watching those was hardly a loss, even if they aren't listed here. Each of those was great in its own way, and very enjoyable. Perhaps next year, similar efforts will merit a mention here.

 
Made in: 2006
Director: John Lasseter, Joe Ranft
Owned: Yes
Category: Animation, Comedy, Family, Sport
Movie #826, #17 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Friday, October 20, 2006
 
The Dreamers
 
It seems to be both a fond memory of youthful energy and exuberance as well as a sad portrait of the limitations and solipsism that youth can get caught in. The real depth of the ambivalence towards the sixties demonstrations and protests only comes at the end and really brings everything home. Bertolucci even seems highly ambivalent about cinephilia. It both brightens the trio's horizons, but in the end is so self-referencing that it almost leads to suicide.

The movie is beautifully shot as one would expect. The big surprise is the amazing soundtrack with great stuff from The Doors, Janis Joplin, and many others.
 
Made in: 2003
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Owned: No
Category: Drama
Movie #825, #16 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Friday, October 06, 2006
 
Six Feet Under:The Second Season, Disk One
 
At the start of the season we learn that the main character is himself dying of a brain tumor. All the characters seem to be coming to terms with their own personal problems. Rachel’s depression and self-absorbtion are not that interesting right now. Hopefully things will pick up a bit as we move deeper in the season.
 
Made in: 2002
Director: Alan Ball
Owned: No
Category: Comedy, Drama
Movie #824, #15 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Friday, October 06, 2006
 
La Dolce Vita
 
There was a really good comment in the Richard Shickel commentary that this movie had more in common with Michaelangelo Antonioni’s trilogy of despair (La’Aventura, Le’Eclisse, La Notte) than with either of Fellini’s own movies that preceded and succeeded this one. I think it’s true and I actually like the other movies better—Nights of Cabiria and 8-1/2. Antonioni does a better job of ennui than Fellini does. What Fellini has which is better than Antonioni is the sense of spectacle and the absurd. Jesus flying over the sunbathing women and the apparition scene are wonderful set pieces that are justly famous. Fellini also makes great use of his very wide frame, especially with a backdrop of Roman ruins. The fact that he can manage to move that wide angle view through all the people at the many parties in the movies is a real tribute to his skill. It reminded me a lot of High and Low, which is more formal, but no less impressive in its wide angle interiors.
 
Made in: 1960
Director: Federico Fellini
Owned: No
Category: Drama
Movie #823, #14 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Thursday, September 21, 2006
 
The Office, Second Series (UK version)
 
Not quite as hilariously funny as the first series, but still very, very good. The feeling that life is going to treat all of the office workers badly remains a constant as no one gets off the hook. What makes this series so special is not just the jokes, but the way the cast seems to work so perfectly together, playing off each other's deadpan lines and doubletakes. The acting is extraordinary.
 
Made in: 2002
Director: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant
Owned: No
Category: Comedy, Drama
Movie #822, #13 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Thursday, September 14, 2006
 
Pennies From Heaven
 
When this movie came out I had a job in a movie theater and I must have watched parts of the movie dozens of times. It was always interesting to watch and the movie has been a favorite since then. Upon watching it again for the first time in many, many years, it remains really interesting and enjoyable. The story is absolutely first-rate (and definitely warrants watching the BBC source material) and the songs are as moving as ever. What also remains are the flaws. While the first half/two-thirds of the movie are great, the last bit drags a little and the dramatic tension just doesn't hold up. Jessica Harper is underused, as are most of the people in the movie. This is probably the result of forcing a much longer story into the shorter time of a theatrical movie, but it does have an impact. Also, Steve Martin is occasionally great and occasionally not so good. He seems to be struggling to consistently hit the right tone for each scene--and every so often his slapstick persona shines inappropriately through.

Even with that though, the pictures and the staging are fantastic. The recreation of the Hopper photos, if anything, are even more impressive now than when I first saw the movie.
 
Made in: 1981
Director: Herbert Ross
Owned: No
Category: Comedy, Drama, Musical, Romance
Movie #821, #12 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Tuesday, September 12, 2006
 
Jesus is Magic
 
Essentially a concert film, with a few interspersed musical bits and a tacked on beginning and ending. At it's best, the material is hilariously funny. All of it is consistently profane and offensive. Even so, the overall quality is quite good,although there are times when one wishes her considerable joke-telling skills were a little more family friendly. After the shock of many of the jokes, the real pleasure of this disk is watching Silverman's delivery and timing. Her control of her voice inflections and her facial expressions are consistently true to her material and really deepen the impact of the jokes. It is her delivery in fact, which I think makes this disk rewatchable even after the initial shock and humor of the jokes has worn off.
 
Made in: 2005
Director: Liam Lynch
Owned: Yes
Category: Comedy, Musical
Movie #820, #11 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Saturday, September 02, 2006
 
Howl's Moving Castle
 
An absolutely amazing-looking film, that makes precious little sense. The colors and scope of what moves around on the screen is incredible. Unfortunately, the story just doesn't have the coherence or strength of Miyazaki's best work.

It's been a while since I watched a movie--even this one took more than a month to get all the way through. I haven't lost interest in this whole project, though. Just lots of other things going on.

 
Made in: 2004
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Owned: Yes
Category: Animation, Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi
Movie #819, #10 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Friday, April 28, 2006
 
The Office - Christmas Special
 
The final hurrah of the British version of the series. While it seems to have replaced the absoute venom in favor of spreading a little happiness among the characteres, there is still plenty of very funny stuff in these two episodes. It's good to see the result of Dawn's two relationships, but it's more heartwarming than laugh inducing. Very much worth watching though.
 
Made in: 2001
Director: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant
Owned: No
Category: Comedy, Drama
Movie #818, #9 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Saturday, March 18, 2006
 
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
 
The series continues to do a good job of capturing the major action of each book. As usual the best element of the movie are the supporting characters, who do a fantastic job of creating the many weird people who do so many weird things. Barty Crouch was a standout here. The movie has to do some necessary editing to the original story, but still does a pretty good job of showing the changes in the students, especially the growing tesnions among them as they begin to mature. In this one I also have to note the great effects work done in the dragon chase scene. It was very well done.
 
Made in: 2005
Director: Mike Newell
Owned: Yes
Category: Adventure, Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller
Movie #817, #8 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 3

Tuesday, March 14, 2006
 
Battlestar Galactica, Season 2
 
Coninuing in the same thrilling fashion as the first season, there is no let up in the quality of this series. In fact, things get a bit better as we discover that the Cylons have religious issues of their own. There is also the agonizing cliffhanger at the end where we wonder what will happen now that the Cylons have taken over.

A quick note: I haven't really watched these on DVD, but rather on my iPod. Nevertheless, it's been a digital delivery system and I think stays well within the spirit of the site.

 
Made in: 2005
Director: Michael Rymer
Owned: Yes
Category: Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #816, #7 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Saturday, March 04, 2006
 
Battlestar Galactica, Season 1
 
Although it still occaionally suffers from a lack of action, overall this is one amazing series. The themes are rich, especially in the King Lear-like question of what children--the Cylons--owe their parents--humanity. The series has done a nice job of humanizing everyone. There are few characters without noticeable, and extremely dangerous flaws. The son of Adama is perhaps the only one. This sometimes makes it frsutrating to watch, as obvious mistakes have to be addressed and resolved even in an obvious fashion. Overall, though, the show is realistic and gripping, even in its evocation of religious ideals and political struggles.
 
Made in: 2004
Director: Michael Rymer
Owned: Yes
Category: Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Movie #815, #6 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
Battlestar Galactica, Miniseries
 
The miniseries starts off quite slowly, building a whole network of characters that seem to be waiting around for somethig to happen. After several hours, it does. And it's bad. Once it gets off and running, this show is very, very good, asking all sorts of questions about humanity and its ability to deal with genuine crises including its own extinction.
 
Made in: 2003
Director: Michael Rymer
Owned: Yes
Category: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Movie #814, #5 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Thursday, January 26, 2006
 
The Office, Season 1
 
This, the original British version of the series, spares absolutely no one from its withering gaze. Ricky Gervais is absoutely brutal, as well as hilarious, in the way he destroys every possible element of bad office life. Part of the magic is how well all of the characters are balanced against eah other. Everyone gets equal time to unwittingly reveal their worst instincts and attitudes. Luckily the cast is all up to it as they fidget, bluff, and bluster their way through their daily chores. Pretty amazing stuff.
 
Made in: 2001
Director: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant
Owned: No
Category: Comedy, Drama
Movie #813, #4 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Wednesday, January 11, 2006
 
Masculin Feminin
 
The first Godard movie which I've been able to really connect with. It's got a life and energy to it, which transcends Godard's usual self-awareness, the self-awareness which I usually find so dull and solipsistic. Godard's in jokes also tend to date his movies pretty quickly. Luckily the energy here helps avoid that fate. The characters in this movie are trapped in the ideals and realities of their youth. They have no idea what they are doing, but are awfully earnest about it anyway. It's all got a charm and innocence to it which is quite amazing.
 
Made in: 1966
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Owned: Yes
Category: Drama
Movie #812, #3 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5

Monday, January 02, 2006
 
Finding Nemo
 
Hardly the first time I've watched this one, but it still has the ability to impress and amaze. The more I learn about animation and the difficulties of doing it on a computer, the more I am impressed by Pixar's work. The colors and the textures really stood out this time, as well as the usual awe at how well the fish express themselves. The movie is still a shade too long, and the jokes are now more impressive for how they work and are put together than they are funny in themselves. Each plot development seems ever less organic to the overall thrust of the movie, than just simply impressive as a stand alone bit. This is perhaps a bit hypercritical after a number of viewings. Don't get me wrong, there is still plenty here to enjoy.
 
Made in: 2003
Director: Andrew Stanton
Owned: Yes
Category: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Family
Movie #811, #2 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 4

Sunday, January 01, 2006
 
Gates of Heaven
 
What struck me most about this justly-renowned documentary is the way that it examines some of the ironies at the heart of the American Dream. The fellow who is totally committed to loving pets is a failure at caring for their bodies, but the family as equally committed to profit and business success actually does a better job at providing the spiritual comfort needed by the pet owners. The humor of the whole situation is important, but by the end it is only a minor element of the story. Focusing on the humor distracts from the fact that all of the people are earnestly searching for some kind of meaning in their lives.
 
Made in: 1980
Director: Errol Morris
Owned: Yes
Category: Documentary
Movie #810, #1 in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
Stars: 5
 

 
             

 

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