1958, Movies

Kakushi-toride no san-akunin [The Hidden Fortress] (1958, Akira Kurosawa)

It’s really crazy how much American action film has taken from Japanese film. More recently, it’s often explicit usually, but it wasn’t always in the past. I remember reading once there was a Japanese film that was a major inspiration for Star Wars and then I forgot. Well, it’s this one. Star Wars is far …

1952, Movies

Saikaku ichidai onna [The Life of Oharu] (1952, Kenji Mizoguchi)

This is one of those incessantly bleak Japanese tragedies that know of few comparables in the contemporary West. Think of it a bit as the Japanese proto Au Hasard Balthazar only it’s about a woman instead of a donkey. SPOILERS

2022, Movies

Poker Face (2022, Russell Crowe)

There is a subgenre of mystery where an extremely rich man invites a bunch of old friends somewhere remote to play a game, most recently seen in Glass Onion, but for me most memorably in The Last of Sheila. (See also Murder by Death and Clue where it’s strangers or acquaintances. Notably, all these are …

2022, Movies

Space Wars: Quest for the Deepstar (2022, directed by Garo Setian

The opening scene of this movie made me think it was going to be an all-timer. The villain was emoting heavily and wearing contacts to make his eyes look weird, and he was flanked by scantily clad women with guns. The CGI was atrocious and the prisoners were clearly in completely different rooms than where …

2016, Movies

Allegiant (2016, Robert Schwentke)

This is the third Divergent film. Netflix does us the honour of not calling it The Divergent Series: Allegiant, though apparently that is the official title. But it does seem it a little less condescending than the second film. There’s a video message to explain what’s going on like in the second film, but it …

2014, Movies

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014, Peter Jackson)

It’s really hard to know what to make of the third film in the ridiculously absurd 3-film adaptation of the 310-page novel The Hobbit for many reasons. One comes from my understanding that the source material for this mostly isn’t even the novel itself but some appendix or something. But that wouldn’t matter if the …

2023, Movies, Sports

Untold: Johnny Football (2023, Ryan Duffy)

I admit I didn’t know much about Johnny Manziel before watching this, beyond his nickname, that he flamed out in the NFL, and that people went a little crazy about him while he was in College. (I’m not sure I remembered he won the Heisman, because I do not care about about college football one …

1973, Movies, TV

Scener ur ett äktenskap [Scenes from a Marriage] (1973, Ingmar Bergman)

As I noted elsewhere, before the Golden Age of Television in the US, it was unheard of for prestigious Hollywood filmmakers and actors to work in TV but that was not the case in Europe. In Europe, prestigious filmmakers would work in TV when they wanted to. I don’t know when that started but it …

1980, Movies

The Mirror Crack’d (1980, Guy Hamilton)

This is an all-star cast Agatha Christie adaptation with a setting that could have been a TV movie. (Though the budget was decent for a feature for its time, so I wonder how much was spent on that cast.) I felt like it wasn’t the best of her plots but apparently it’s partially based on …

1957, Movies

Kumonosu-jô [Throne of Blood] (1957, Akira Kurosawa)

This atmospheric adaptation of Macbeth is the first of Kurosawa’s Shakespeare adaptations, but the last one I’ve seen. I watched Ran (King Lear) when I was quite young and I watched The Bad Sleep Well (Hamlet) a decade or so ago. I can’t compare this one to those other adaptations because it’s been too long …

2010, Books, Fiction

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet (2010) by David Mitchell

This is my first Mitchell. I found it in a Little Free Library or on someone’s lawn and I just grabbed it because I’d seen Cloud Atlas (though never read it) and figured it could be interesting. I had zero knowledge of the story or setting.

2014, Movies

Chaos on the Bridge (2014, William Shatner)

This is an entertaining but brief and hilariously over-directed documentary about the beginnings of Star Trek TNG. It feels like it was made as a DVD extra or for some TCM-type special but it turns out Shatner has made a few of these so maybe there was a series of them for some channel.

2022, Basketball, Movies, Sports

Untold: The Rise and Fall of AND1 (2022, Levin Wilson Jr.)

This is an interesting but too brief documentary about the AND1 clothing brand and, particularly their Mix Tape Tour. All I knew about this whole thing was Rafer Alston came from it, so I was definitely the intended audience.

2015, Movies

The Divergent Series: Insurgent (2015, Robert Schwentke)

This film – a film where the title really wants you to know it’s a sequel, in case you’re too dumb to figure that out yourself – begins with a truck with a video of Kate Winslet’s character summarizing the plot of the first movie. It’s literally a Plot Summary Truck. It has to be …

2021, Movies

Werewolf Castle (2021, Charlie Steeds)

This is an extremely low budget fantasy/horror film that fails at both genres. It’s not scary and it doesn’t have any of the magic of fantasy. I knew that going in, of course, but this is one of those films that bad in many ways but it competent enough in terms of the production that …

2013, Music

West Side Story (2013) by the Joe Policastro Trio

This is the first of their albums and the the last one I’ve heard. That’s because it wasn’t available online until recently and I’ve stopped buying CDs, instead buying digital copies when I actually want to support the artist. (Too often I default to streaming, which doesn’t help them much.)

2015, Books, Non-Fiction

The Headspace Guide to Meditation & Mindfulness (2015) by Andy Puddicombe

I have never had any interest in meditation. “Zero interest” isn’t far off. I’ve never found the idea of sitting still for an hour appealing, and I’ve never been attracted to the supposed benefits. (There are people who claim they get ecstatic after meditating for hours or days and I couldn’t care less about that.) …

2015, Movies

Heart of a Dog (2015, Laurie Anderson)

Most of my awareness of Laurie Anderson comes from Big Science and her relationship with Lou Reed. I’ve never listened to United States Live and really haven’t encountered much else of her work. (I’ve definitely encountered something else other than Big Science and some live stuff, but I can’t remember off the top of my …

2022, Movies, Sports

Untold: The Race of the Century (2022, Chapman Way, Maclain Way

This Untold didn’t grab me at first. I don’t care about sailing. I’ve watched some bits of the America’s Cup here and there, but never paid much attention. I’ll watch a documentary about just about anything but this one really didn’t grab me to start.

1956, Movies

Un condamné à mort s’est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut [A Man Escaped] (1956, Robert Bresson)

Somewhere in this film is one of the greatest prison escape movies ever made. But I think there are enough nitpicky little things that sap it’s full potential that I’m not sure it’s deserving of the the title.

2023, Movies

Wham! (2023, Chris Smith)

This is a fascinating documentary about the British pop duo. Wham! does nothing for me and I can imagine younger me even having some ill will towards them – they are basically anti punk in ethos. (The one album of theirs I’ve heard is way too wannabe Motown for me.) But their story is far …

2016, Movies, Music

The Phantom Carriage (2016) by KTL

I feel like, when an early silent feature gets a new soundtrack, it regularly tries to (at least partially) ape the sounds we associate with early silent films. So there’s often a lot of Steinway piano and the sounds are often vaguely jazz-ish. Now, it’s been some time since I’ve seen a lot of early …