Fargo - F =

This weekend I watched Argo (2012). It's been a good three years since this movie came out, just under the five year retrospective period that has been floated for looking at critically acclaimed films for whether they hold up as important films. This is an idea to avoid giving out best picture Oscars for movies like Crash winning over Brokeback Mountain, or the English Patient winning over Fargo. Both Crash and the English Patient kind of disappeared from the zeitgeist while Brokeback Mountain and Fargo had greater social and artistic impacts. Argo famously was not nominated in the best director category but won the Best Picture award. Oddly, this film holds up well with some of the other

A Mascot Wind

Last night I watched Mascots (2016) from Christopher Guest. In another installment in the Christopher Guest series of mockumentary, heavily improvised stories of groups on the fringe of popular culture Mascots shows an entertaining mascot competition. It's pretty entertaining with a lot of interesting characters that are mostly new to the Spinal Tap, Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, For Your Consideration, and A Mighty Wind world. Interestingly, the Mascot's performances are almost all very entertaining on their own and the competition and follow up interviews pay off hilariously at the end. Letterboxd review.

Dicking it at the Movies

This weekend I watched Minority Report (2002). I had seen this movie around the time when it first came out but didn't watch it again with appreciation until about six years ago when a law professor showed us the opening action sequence to illustrate mens rea. At the time it came out I was pretty skeptical of Tom Cruise movies as well as Steven Spielberg movies and I had not yet been aware of Philip K. Dick's writing. It's a pretty good movie, not the greatest thing ever (the relationship of Cruise's character and his son is kind of weird to watch, like they're trying to act like humans). I feel like it does give a nice taste of Philip K. Dick's style. There's something uneasy and retro a

Finale Season

This afternoon I finished off the eight wizarding movies with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011). This was a fine ending to the series. I think I like how it jumps ahead to Harry's adulthood at the very end making it feel like a continuation of a series of generations going back to Harry's parents and all of the characters that came from their class. It's a little overwhelming to follow all of the moving parts of the artifacts being sought, what they do, where they came from, where am I? I do look forward to giving all these movies another watch over in the near future, although I may wait until the next calendar year. Maybe when Fantastic Beasts is out on Blu-Ray. Letterb

Hamiltonian Blast

This weekend my wife and I watched Great Performances Hamilton's America (2016) Last fall I saw the 60 Minutes piece on the Hamilton musical and made a point to show it to my wife who was recently discovering more and more musicals she had not seen before and getting very excited about them all. I think she was reluctant at first about the idea of the musical until she saw the segment. Very quickly she was excited and on Christmas Eve we both gave each other one gift each to surprise each other with the Chernow book and the cast recording. She then went to listen to the cast recording almost every time she went in to the gym and that inspired her to have even more fun working out and wou

Drunken Cowboy Weekend.

Today I saw The Wild Bunch (1969). This Sam Peckinpah western is thought of as a touching off point for westerns to have darker, more adult themes, and for movies in general to embrace over the top violence (probably greatly inspiring Tarantino). There are, however, a lot of things that are just plain wrong about this movie. Peckinpah was known for cruelty to animals in his movies and his cruelty in general. He was a man who drank himself to death and this movie seems to celebrate debauchery of drinking where a pair of characters shower themselves in streaming wine in a moment where they are enjoying life. This film, like almost every other Peckinpah movie I’ve seen, treats women like emp

Kingdom of the Director's Cut.

Yesterday I watched Kingdom of Heaven (2005) because I had three hours of available screen time to kill. This was one of the first movies to Blu-Ray and I think it first came out at a time when I was not high on Ridley Scott despite enjoying Gladiator. I’ll admit, I’m odd when it comes to sci-fi fans that Alien and Blade Runner were movies I did not enjoy so much when I finally got around to seeing them in the early 2000’s. I think a lot of it was that the dark lighting in those films did not translate well to VHS so they felt like they were being seen through a layer of mud. I’m not the biggest horror person so Alien didn’t resonate with me, and the quickly outdated boxy computer interfac

Dusk of the Potter Chronicles

Today I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010). This film series really has trotted from bright colors in the early movies of their fun times wizardly childhoods into the never ending blue dusk of the Hallows. By this movie it's a little hard to see some of the action although the cool blue lighting lets us see just enough to have some sense of what's going on. My favorite section of this movie was the animated telling of the story of the brothers of Deathly Hallows fame. Harry and friends are growing up fast, no longer have time to messing around in school and I'm sure this movie would not be kind of smellivision viewers as they don't seem to have a shower by their tent

The Great WWII viewing list

Today I had the day off and I finally had the chance to catch up on a subtitled flick I'd been meaning to re-watch for quite a while, Letters from Iwo Jima (2006). There are a lot of reasons to take stands against Clint Eastwood and his movies, mostly based around his political views. For his middle of the road movies that's excuse enough for me to skip out on movies like Trouble With the Curve but he has also been a highly celebrated director for his artistic abilities. Generally, those artistic movies, while expertly made, tend to touch of depressing or dark themes or tones that are a bit too overbearing and washed out for my palate. This movie came out around the same time as Flags of ou

When the War Felt Real.

Tonight I watched a favorite from a Political Science Propaganda in Film class I took in college, Foreign Correspondent (1940). This movie plays like a regular Hitchcock innocent guy on the run film like Sabotage or North by Northwest with the twist that a war is coming. The movie is fun and games of the main character running around Europe trying to piece together the plot to start a new world war, running around windmills, funny car chases with old men who just want to cross the street, and a love story between the two main characters. This movie has a scene where the main character gives a woman a note "how do you feel about large families?" as a pick up line as he stares at her with sta

Harry Potter and the Race Against Father Time.

This weekend I continued my trip through the Harry Potter movies with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009). J.K. Rowling seems to not just have an expert grasp on writing and crafting stories, but also observing and relating the experience of growing up into an adult with serious responsibilities. By this film, the Harry character has grown into accepting the responsibility of the expectations of adulthood. His character has already gone through awkwardness with girls, hormone surges leading to anger and frustration (leading to fear, hate and hunger, yada yada yoda, dark side). It's impressive the characters weren't written to stay at a constant temperament, adults in children's

Harry Potter and the Phoenix Suns

I've made it into the second half of Harry Potter films, and the first that definitely haven't seen before. Tonight I saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) My wife is the Harry Potter book expert in the house. She isn't sure if she had seen this movie before but she did remember the book of The Order of the Phoenix as not being all that great compared to the other books. She felt this book transitioned into a movie very well because it is so visual. It pops off the screen to see the young wizards training in secret montages or to see Harry and his friends finding their way to the visually stunning black tiled location of Harry's vision. It was pretty interesting to see a cou

Baseball Notes: Cubbies Convo

And I've done it! Here is the last team profile, the Chicago Cubs in a very special posting. I talk with my friend Sean Davis, a lifelong Cubs fan, about the Cubs of today and yester-todays. Sean: I was always a football kid, when I got to AZ my friend Mike was big into baseball so choosing the Cubs was just a natural selection, then 2003 cemented them for me. Loved Aramis Ramirez (15 homers in 63 games with the Cubs); he had a walk off in a division race, think 2006, against MIL when they had Francisco Cordero, who was having a great year, that one stuck with me. Derrek Lee (331 career homers), Carlos Zambrano (3.31 ERA in 32 stars in ‘03), I loved those guys Pete: That's funny, I was jus

Baseball Notes: Team Overview Menu

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Baseball Notes: The Buccos

In this very special team review of the Pittsburgh Pirates I interview my good friend from Pittsburgh Marty, who weathered the hard years... all of them... to see the Bucs rise back to prominence. We take a look back at a year with an ominous pitching rotation and look forward to the promise of next year. Pete: What was your general feeling for this year? Did you have an ominous feeling about them all year because of the rotation or high hopes because of the lineup? Marty: Definitely ominous due to the rotation. I've always defended the front office but they had a terrible off-season. You can't always bank on Searage magic, and this year it ran out. (78-83 and one tie that doesn't seem t

Dr. Who, a Vampire, and In Bruge Alumni at Hogworts

I'm at the halfway point of the Harry Potter movies because last night I saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005). It turns out I had seen this one before but I had remembered portions of it as being longer than they really are. I remembered this as the "World Cup" movie because of the quidditch opening to the movie. I really enjoy that segment of the movie because of how well the event is portrayed as a festival and soccer game all in one. I do wish there was more to it in the movie, although it wouldn't serve much of a narrative purpose. The quidditch world cup segment and the later dance weren't as long as I had remembered. The world cup is something I always enjoyed but the danc

They're all a bunch of animals

Continuing through the Harry Potter films, today I watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). The first time I saw this movie I was turned off from it pretty early on. I couldn't handle the shrunken head on the bus, it just seemed too cartoonish for me and it didn't seem to fit in the world. It seems odd that the Harry Potter movie directed by Alfonzo Cuaron who directed two movies I really enjoy Children of Men and Gravity, made a Harry Potter movie that didn't sit well with me on the first viewing, about 10 years ago. This viewing was much better, in fact I really enjoyed it. The bus scene at the beginning was much shorter than I originally remembered. You just have a lit

Shallow

Today I rented the surf/shark thriller The Shallows (2016). This is a movie that was on the verge of being especially good, like 127 Hours or The Impossible where the protagonist overcomes insurmountable dangers of nature. The format of the problem solving portion of the film is really good. The problem is the back story. It's not that there is a back story, it's that it's handed to us though onscreen texts and some head scratching dialogue. This movie would have been a success as far as a artistic film is it made more of an attempt to be closer to a silent film, much like All is Lost where Robert Redford only has a few short lines the whole movie. It's not a poorly made movie, the water,

So Wizard

"Grasp your mandrake and pull it out," I've watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002). I've actually seen this one twice in recent days and I've fallen asleep both times in different places. I think I've pieced together what happens in the movie: it's the start of Harry's little speech impediment. The kids grow up pretty fast between movies, I believe they're in the equivalent of 6th grade so it's a pretty good time for evil wizards to kill them before their blind rage hormones turn into sexual frustration hormones. Letterboxd review.

Diving into CinePotter

We just ordered the complete film works of Harry Potter to catch me up on the movies and I started tonight with the very first in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001). I think I first saw this on the college movie channel and I haven't read any of the books. This first movie in the series is pretty well done, although it gives me a chuckle to see how short the kids are next to grown up characters who seem to encourage dangerous activities. I had a few thoughts about the Harry Potter universe while watching this: Slytherin really got screwed at the end, that was some real Steve Harvey bullshit with the points. Sure the kids are snotty, but they still managed to score a g

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