Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category


Just watch. This kid has *all* the moves:

I wouldn’t be surprised if some Hong Kong studio signed him to a long-term contract.

I know he could kick my butt.

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Figures the cats are the Nazis.

Very creative. And never leave home without your hat. 🙂

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Interesting article in The New Yorker. After years of being a superbly run business with very loyal customers, over the last year or so Netflix has made one stumble after the other and looks to be on the road to ruin, or be absorbed by the Borg of Amazon. In fact, their recent quarterly conference call announced a loss and a sharply declining rate of subscriber growth, the lifeblood of their business. The reasons would appear to be alienating their once-loyal customers and failing to adapt to a changing market:

It’s a bad time, too, for Netflix to have declining subscriber loyalty. The company believes that the mail-order-DVD business is finished, and that our DVD players are following our VCRs to the junkyard. So it is killing off that part of its business. Unfortunately, though, that’s the part with the high barriers to entry. It’s not easy for a startup to build massive warehouses and systems for mailing discs. It is easy, however, to get into the streaming business. Yesterday, for example, we learned of a startup called NimbleTV, which plans to let you watch all the channels you subscribe to through your cable provider on your phone or your tablet. If you had that, would you want Netflix, too?

Netflix fears that just distributing digital content is a mug’s game. Anyone can move bits around, which means that the price for doing so will just keep dropping. So it’s trying to create its own original content. But, so far at least, it’s not very good at doing so. “Lilyhammer,” a mobster show that Netflix introduced in January, has gotten killed by reviewers; I gave up on the first episode after fifteen minutes of mediocre acting and clumsy dialogue. Early next year, Netflix will release a new season of “Arrested Development,” which will surely be better. But the company is in an odd spot, facing the same competition problem it avoided when it spun off Roku. If its shows are bad, it’s embarrassing. If they’re good, they could irritate partners. Netflix needs content from AMC, for example. But will those negotiations get harder once Netflix is creating its own shows to compete with “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men.”

It’s a story at least as old as buggy-whip manufacturers facing the coming Automobile Age: what do you do when the core of your business is becoming obsolete?

Netflix compounded their long-term problem with some of the most boneheaded customer-related moves I’ve seen in a long time: jacking up prices; splitting the DVD and streaming businesses, making people pay for both instead of a combined service, while not automatically transferring the customer’s queue from the DVD to streaming sides (many, many people were incensed at losing their queues); and then having weak streaming offerings, having lost a couple of big contracts (Starz and one other I can’t recall). In short, they took all the goodwill they had built up, spit on it, then stabbed it in the gut and left it bleeding on the pavement.

And now they’re in trouble. Gee, I wonder why?

I’d been a very happy, loyal Netflix customer since about 2003, and I’d also made good money on the stock as an investor. But, like many, the last year or so has soured me. I switched to streaming as I was getting damaged discs more and more often, indicating Netflix wasn’t renewing their supply of DVDs. But then I discovered that the digital catalog was pathetic — at least with regard to things I wanted to watch. So, for now, I’ve gone back to DVD and the one-disc at a time plan.

But, for how long?

Amazon has a much better streaming catalog, and I can either rent or “buy to own” the digital copy. If I get a Roku box, I can watch my Amazon videos on it. (Yes, I can with Netflix, too, but… watch what?) And getting the Roku (1) would let me cancel my cable TV subscription, saving serious money. (The only reason I haven’t is the apparent lack of NFL games via Roku or other streaming option.) For what would I need Netflix?

From the New Yorker piece, it sounds like many are asking the same question.

(1) Ironic that Netflix invented the device that would encourage many to say “bye-bye” to Netflix.

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Oh, my. This looks like it actually might be good:

“I am the Law!”

Love it.  😀

Courtesy of Duane Lester


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I can’t deny it: my favorite president takes on vampires? Monstrous bloodsuckers in the White House, and this time they’re not politicians?

Yeah, I’m there.

Booth has got to be a vampire. 🙂

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As I’ve said here, here, and here, I’ve been looking forward to seeing the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society‘s film adaptation of HPL’s “The Whisperer in Darkness,” one of his most famous stories. The movie arrived last week and, a couple days ago, I sat down to watch both it and the accompanying “extras” DVD.

Executive Summary: If you like Lovecraft’s horror tales and aren’t a “no deviations from the text” purist; if you enjoy horror movies from the 1930s in the “Universal style;” or if you’re a fan of well-done independent film-making, I think you’ll greatly like “Whisperer.” Grab a hot dog, popcorn, and coke, sit back, and enjoy.

Full Review: In brief, “Whisperer” tells the story of Dr. Albert Wilmarth, Professor of Folklore at Miskatonic University and a deep skeptic of the idea that there is anything real behind the legends of strange beings haunting the hill of northern Vermont. When Wilmarth receives an invitation from a regular correspondent in the area, Henry Akeley, to come for a visit to discuss the legends and strange happenings more deeply, he accepts.

And then Very Bad Things happen.

One thing to bear in mind is that, conforming to the styles and standards of the period, there is little blood and gore in Whisperer. “Halloween” this isn’t, and I say that’s a good thing. Rather than trying to make you throw up by overwhelming you with buckets of guts and severed limbs, and without resorting to yet another nubile 20-something ingenue pretending to be a nubile teen who’s investigating a strange noise while dressed only in her lingerie (1), we’re presented with a patient (but never slow) build up of tension and mood that brings us into the movie’s world and lets us get to know Wilmarth before the action really gets going.

The use of black and white film, albeit required for the genre, fit the filmmaker’s needs perfectly; I don’t think this story could be done right in color. And special praise goes to whoever was in charge of the lighting (there’s no lighting credit on the site); at times I was reminded of the wonderful use of light and shadow from German Expressionist films of the 1920s and 30s.

Other technical matters were equally well-handled: costuming, makeup effects (God save me if I ever have to wear a life-mask as Barry Lynch did.), modelling and miniatures, the works. Special note has to be taken of the Mi-Go, the hyper-intelligent brain-stealing jumbo shrimp from space who are the monsters behind the legends. Originally planned to be done with models, the creators finally had to resort to CGI, but I didn’t feel them out of place with the rest of the movie’s look.

(It’s a this point, also that I commend to you the DVD extras disc. Not only does it have deleted scenes and the trailers, but a series of neat documentaries on the making of Whisperer, one general, the others being short treatments of specific topics. They were as interesting as the movie itself.)

As for the cast, everyone was good to excellent, but two stand out: Matt Foyer as “Albert Wilmarth” and Barry Lynch as “Henry Akeley.” It’s safe to say that their performances “make” the movie: Foyer portrays Wilmarth as a good-natured rational man of the 20th century brought face-to-face with The Horrifying Truth(tm), while Akeley wins the award for the creepiest old man in movie history. His rasping giggle could make Dracula’s servant Renfield cringe.

The secondary cast all play their parts well, and I was impressed by 11-year old Autumn Wendell, who played Hannah Masterson: a very disciplined and good actress.

One thing I alluded to above is deviations from Lovecraft’s original story. They’re considerable and of necessity in order to make a good movie. Some are little, such as giving Wilmarth some background that comes into play later in the story and adding minor characters in a few scenes. Others are more substantial: “Hannah” is an addition, used to hook Wilmarth through his family’s past and to give him something to care about and fight for.

The other is a continuation of the story past the ending Lovecraft gave it, which, as I’ve described before, is typical of the style of the weird fiction of the time: ending on a weird, horrific revelation with no definite conclusion.

This would be, for most people, unsatisfying in a movie, so the filmmakers decided this moment was the end of Act II and added an entirely new “Act III.” Purists might object to this and other changes made, but I think they all came together in a way that improves the story and works better for an audience. I’d like to think old HPL would approve.

Of any complaints I have, they’re all minor: I would like to have seen the deleted scenes left in. (The setting of Wilmarth’s discovery of an old manuscript wasn’t clear to me until after I saw the deleted scene.) I thought Daniel Kaemon, who plays cult leader P.F. Noyes, played his part a bit over the top, but not out of line for the period and genre. And the disc menus and “subtitle” text in the making-of featurettes were way too small: the text was very hard to read at a normal viewing distance.

Yes, those are quibbles. As I said at the start, I was greatly looking forward to this movie and I wasn’t let down. I had a blast watching it, and I think you will, too.

Just stay away from Vermont. Trust me.

(1) It’s not that I object to nubile 20-somethings running around in lingerie, but it’s such a cliche…

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The first trailer for The Hobbit is out!

I may not have agreed with every decision Peter Jackson and crew made in The Lord of the Rings, but, overall, I thought it was a fabulous series and a great overall adaptation of the trilogy. (Or should it be “The Trilogy,” as there is no other in it’s league?) And I have great faith that Jackson and Del Toro will do a fine job here, too.

Originally, the movie was to be in two parts, with part two showing those things that happened “off camera” in the book, such as Gandalf’s investigation of the Tower of the Necromancer in southern Mirkwood and the White Council’s attack on it, but del Toro’s comments in the Wikipedia entry make it look like that’s changed. Still in two parts, the movie would stick to facts in the book. And yet, the trailer sure makes it look like Gandalf is wandering around a spooky tower…

(Come on. We all know evil demigods like Sauron just have to have a spooky tower. It’s in the union rules.)

Ah well. Something to chew over until next year. I can’t wait. 🙂

Meanwhile, my copy of The Whisperer in Darkness came yesterday, just in time for the holiday weekend! Huzzah!  You can’t get much more “Christmas-y” than hyper-intelligent brain-stealing crustaceans stalking the mountains for Vermont.


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The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society has (finally!) finished their movie version of Lovecraft’s “The Whisperer in Darkness,” and the DVDs are almost ready to ship. In fact, you can pre-order and have it arrive in time for Christmas? And what better way to celebrate the holidays than by watching a movie about brain-stealing jumbo shrimp from outer space?

I knew you’d agree.

In the meantime, you can enjoy the trailers.

RELATED: Earlier posts on TWiD.

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"Trust me, Della. It will never work between us."


Hmmm. I’m a big fan of the old series, and Robert Downey, Jr., has turned in some great performances since cleaning himself up, so this sounds promising:

Warner Bros. Pictures and Team Downey are relaunching the “Perry Mason” franchise as a feature film, with Robert Downey Jr. eyeing the title role, reports Variety.

The trade says that, like the original Erle Stanley Gardner books, the Perry Mason movie will be set in the 1930s and feature characters such as Mason’s secretary, Della Street, private investigator Paul Drake, and Mason’s longtime courtroom nemesis, Hamilton Burger.

I like the return to the 1930s of Gardiner’s stories and I hope this also means they’ll be more true to the Mason of the stories, who was often willing to engage in a little law-breaking himself in service of a greater good. (The original series starring Raymond Burr had that in its early days, but it mostly vanished after a few seasons.) And I think Downey is a good choice for the part — as long as it isn’t a “reinvention” like his Sherlock Holmes movie. I liked that for what it was, but, in this case, I want “Perry Mason,” not a action-hero comic-book alternate-Perry.

Sidenote: Sorry about the lack of posting of late. I hope to be a bit more regular about it; if nothing else, there are some new TV shows to talk about.

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I think I need to see this:

Looks perfect for me; I go to movies for escape, not deep inner meaning or stinging social commentary.

Just fun. 🙂

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Either this is going to be one of the most fun movies, ever, or it is going to be really, really bad. And I can’t decide which.

You try:

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Here’s another trailer for the forthcoming The Whisperer in Darkness movie from the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society:

I’m really looking forward to this. Their silent-movie rendering of Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu” was brilliant, and I fully expect this to be just as good.

Popcorn, Dr. Pepper, and Cthulhu. It just doesn’t get better than this. 😀

RELATED: The previous trailer.

(via Moe Lane)


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This has been making the rounds of the Internet lately; I think it’s very amusing and oddly appropriate. Not surprising, since silent movies were often melodramatic, and Star Wars is modern melodrama. Enjoy!

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Bollywood knows action

Jean Claude van Damme, eat your heart out:

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Happy birthday to Bugs Bunny! Seventy years old and still as smart-alecky as ever. Starpulse has a good article. I have the six-volume Warner Bros. Golden Collection of Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies; it’s one of my treasured possessions. Being the studio’s premier cartoon character, Bugs features or guest stars in most (or at least a plurality) of the cartoons in the set. Many are classics, but my all-time favorite is probably What’s Opera, Doc?

Warners had many great characters in its cartoon stable, but Bugs is probably the most well-known. Brash, confident, clever, and always ready with a wisecrack, Bugs I think appealed to so many be because he, like the Marx Brothers before him, stood for the “average Joe” who could square off with bullies, bureaucrats, and the self-important jerks who annoy us on an otherwise pleasant day. Bugs does those things we’d like to do, but can’t. And so they have a timeless quality that keeps them meaningful to us, long after many of the other cartoons have been forgotten by all but collectors.

Hmm. I think a cartoon film-festival is in order tonight. As Bugs would say, “Maestro! Music, please!

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I love the horror stories of H.P. Lovecraft, loosely set in a 1920s America in which the nihilist mood induced by the horrors of the First World War is applied to the universe as a whole. Uncaring gods, aliens to whom Man is less than an insect, ancient histories stretching back millions of years, secret cults and their sanity-blasting secrets, a hopeless, meaningless, doomed world… Good times! 🙂  And, as you can see in the sidebar, one of my favorite roleplaying games is one based on Lovecratft’s works, Call of Cthulhu*. So you can bet your sweet shoggoth that I’m looking forward to this:

This is from the same group that did the wonderful Call of Cthulhu silent movie, so I have great hope that The Whisperer in Darkness will be just as good or better.

(via Moe Lane)

*(Seriously. You wouldn’t think a game in such a world would be fun, but it is!)

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Here to save the world before nap-time: Iron Baby!

Don’t make him cranky…

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Stephen Hawking is a certified genius and, when he says we shouldn’t want to talk to the space aliens, maybe we should listen:

One scene in his documentary for the Discovery Channel shows herds of two-legged herbivores browsing on an alien cliff-face where they are picked off by flying, yellow lizard-like predators. Another shows glowing fluorescent aquatic animals forming vast shoals in the oceans thought to underlie the thick ice coating Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter.

Such scenes are speculative, but Hawking uses them to lead on to a serious point: that a few life forms could be intelligent and pose a threat. Hawking believes that contact with such a species could be devastating for humanity.

He suggests that aliens might simply raid Earth for its resources and then move on: “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.”

He concludes that trying to make contact with alien races is “a little too risky”. He said: “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

Stephen’s a bit older than I, so he was probably raised on movies such as The Thing From Another World and Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, just as I was. Or maybe a viewing of To Serve Man was all it took. Regardless, I’m glad to see he’s absorbed the subtle lessons contained in these documentaries disguised as science fiction….

Keep watching the skies! (Just be quiet while you’re doing it….) 😉

LINKS: Fausta is wary of aliens, too.

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The Wizard of Dogs

This is cute. 🙂

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The public has spoken

A £9 take on opening day? That’s enough to make a star want to find someone named Bill to kill.

(via Instapundit)

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