EppsNet Archive: Movies

EppsNet at the Movies: A Serious Man

19 Apr 2014 /
A Serious Man

When the truth is found . . . to be lies. And all the hope . . . within you dies. What then?

Life is bleak. If you try to lead a good life, bad things happen. If you yield to temptation, worse things happen. Religion offers no more wisdom, insight or consolation than a Jefferson Airplane song.

P.S. I know the lyric should be “joy” and not “hope” but in the movie the rabbi says “hope.”

Rating: 4 stars

A Serious Man

Larry Gopnik, a Midwestern mathematics teacher, watches his life unravel over multiple sudden incidents. Though seeking meaning and answers amidst his turmoils, he seems to keep sinking.

Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Cast: Michael Stuhlbarg Larry Gopnik, Richard Kind Uncle Arthur, Sari Lennick Judith Gopnik, Fred Melamed Sy Ableman

IMDb rating: 7.0 (80,491 votes)


EppsNet at the Movies: Gravity

7 Apr 2014 /

Gravity

As a kid, one of my hobbies was card tricks. When I started learning card tricks, I had the misconception that the quality of a trick was proportional to how difficult it was to perform. Hard tricks = good, easy tricks = lame.

Today I can perform exactly zero card tricks. I don’t remember even one. What I do remember though is the general principle that the quality of a trick depends on the effect – what the audience sees – and not at all on how the trick is done. An audience doesn’t know or care if you’ve practiced a trick for years or if you just learned it five minutes ago.

The principle applies to things other than card tricks. You can read on IMDb and elsewhere about the technological challenges that had to be overcome in making Gravity. The state-of-the-art cinematography and visual effects would not have been possible even a few short years ago.

Again, I don’t care how the trick is done. I just care about what’s on the screen, not how easy or hard it was to get it there.

Rating: 3 stars

Gravity

A medical engineer and an astronaut work together to survive after a catastrophe destroys their shuttle and leaves them adrift in orbit.

Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Cast: Sandra Bullock Ryan Stone, George Clooney Matt Kowalski, Ed Harris Mission Control (voice), Orto Ignatiussen Aningaaq (voice)

IMDb rating: 8.1 (361,628 votes)


Expanding My Repertoire

22 Mar 2014 /
The only known photograph of Frédéric...

The only known photograph of Frédéric Chopin, often incorrectly described as a daguerreotype (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My piano teacher asks me if there are any pieces I want to learn . . .

“How about . . . ?” and here I name a piece by Chopin.

“This one?” she asks and starts to play it.

“Yeah.”

“It’s hard.”

“Well, it sounds quite impressive but I think if you break it down it’s just arpeggios and thirds.”

“No, it’s not just thirds,” she says and starts to play it again to show me. “And that’s with the left hand. Do you think you can play that with your left hand?”

“My left hand’s not very good.”

“I know.”

“So that one is too hard.”

“Yes.”

“OK, how about . . . ?” and here I name another piece by Chopin.

“That’s the only piece that’s harder than the first one.”

“How about this?” I ask, and play a YouTube video on my phone.

“What is that?”

“It’s from a film called The Piano.”

“Is that New Age music? It’s not classical music.”

“Is that bad?”

“IT’S TOO EASY! YOU COULD SIGHT-READ IT!”


EppsNet at the Movies: City Lights

19 Mar 2014 /

City Lights

Could there be a more perfect ending to a film? I’m a sap for a great ending, so I don’t even care that there were maybe a couple of moments where I caught myself thinking “This bit hasn’t really held up well over time.”

Rating: 5 stars

City Lights

The Tramp struggles to help a blind flower girl he has fallen in love with.

Director: Charles Chaplin
Cast: Charles Chaplin (as Charlie Chaplin) A Tramp, Virginia Cherrill A Blind Girl, Florence Lee Her Grandmother, Florence Lee The Blind Girl’s Grandmother

IMDb rating: 8.7 (71,173 votes)


The 2014 Hater’s Guide to the Oscars

1 Mar 2014 /

You know who should host the Oscars? BANE. Fucking Bane should host them. No jokes. No attempt at currying the audience’s favor. Just the constant threat of death and hostile takeover.


EppsNet at the Movies: The Monuments Men

20 Feb 2014 /

The Monuments Men

This movie is getting killed on Rotten Tomatoes — 34 percent as I write this. Granted, it’s not in 3-D, doesn’t have robots or aliens or other really fake-looking bullshit, and despite being set during World War II, has only a minimal amount of violent action.

(If you like that kind of thing, fear not! We were shown previews for Pompeii, Spiderman, X-Men, some Tom Cruise sci-fi thing . . . rest assured there’s plenty of crap in the pipeline.)

The Monuments Men tells an interesting story in an entertaining way, with memorable scenes and characters, and the best female role I’ve seen in a movie since Come Back, Little Sheba.

Rating: 4 stars

The Monuments Men

An unlikely World War II platoon is tasked to rescue art masterpieces from Nazi thieves and return them to their owners.

Director: George Clooney
Cast: George Clooney Frank Stokes, Matt Damon James Granger, Bill Murray Richard Campbell, Cate Blanchett Claire Simone

IMDb rating: 6.3 (24,381 votes)


Philip Seymour Hoffman, 1967-2014

2 Feb 2014 /
Philip Seymour Hoffman

Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead Sunday of an apparent drug overdose at his Manhattan apartment.

Police responded to the 46-year-old’s apartment in the West Village shortly after 11 a.m., police sources told FoxNews.com.

A friend found his body in the apartment and phoned police. Hoffman was alone in his bathroom when he was discovered with a heroin-filled needle in his arm, law enforcement sources said.

I am really shocked to hear that. People are shooting up heroin first thing in the morning?! To me, a shot of heroin — like a nice, warm bath — is best enjoyed in the evening, to unwind after the travails of the day.

This is yet another blow to a theory that most Americans believe, which is that wealth is synonymous with happiness.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, he’s in every movie, it seems like. He’s a Top 1 Percent wage-earner for sure. We hate the Top 1 Percent! They’re so rich and smug and happy.

“Oh,” people think, “if only I had a lot of money and I could do anything I want. Then at last I could be happy too.”

Wrong. Not only would you not be happy, you’d be even less happy than you are now, because you’d no longer have lack of money to blame for your unhappiness.

Frankly, I’m surprised that more actors aren’t overdosing themselves on a daily basis. It’s such a minor art form. Someone writes things down for them to say and they say those things. Sometimes a bit of business is written down for them to perform while they say the things that were written down for them to say.

The adulation that actors receive is so wildly out of proportion to the triviality of what they do. Some, like Hoffman, have the limited amount of self-awareness required to recognize this, to their eternal detriment.

P.S. I just saw this:

Fearless in his choice of roles

The “fearless choice of roles” meme with reference to actors has always stuck in my craw.

“So let me get this straight . . . if I take this role, I’ll have to read the script, learn my lines and pick up a check? Nope, sorry. Too scary.”

RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman.


EppsNet at the Movies: Singin’ in the Rain

13 Jan 2014 /

Singin' in the Rain

We saw Singin’ in the Rain on Netflix this weekend. Why this film is so beloved is a mystery to me. It feels thrown together, like someone took a bunch of unrelated songs and wrote a plot around them. Which in fact is what they did.

And the songs aren’t that great either. In particular, “Singin’ in the Rain” is not a great song . . . the melody is boring and it’s not a great lyric.

The Cyd Charisse sequence seems to have been dropped in from a different movie.

The Music Man is better. Mary Poppins is better. The King and I is better. My Fair Lady is better. That’s just off the top of my head.

The Wizard of Oz is better, but I’m not sure that counts as a musical.

Great dance numbers though.

Singin’ in the Rain

A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound.

Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Cast: Gene Kelly Don Lockwood, Donald O’Connor Cosmo Brown, Debbie Reynolds Kathy Selden, Jean Hagen Lina Lamont

IMDb rating: 8.4 (109,310 votes)


Act Naturally

1 Jan 2014 /

Well I hope you come and see me in the movies
Then I’ll know that you will plainly see
The biggest fool that ever hit the big time
And all I gotta do is act naturally

— Buck Owens, “Act Naturally”

Bettie Page Reveals All

9 Dec 2013 /

Bettie Page Reveals All

Bettie Page Reveals All

The world's greatest pinup model and cult icon, Bettie Page, recounts the true story of how her free expression overcame government witch-hunts to help launch America's sexual revolution.

Director: Mark Mori
Cast: Bettie Page Herself, Dita Von Teese Herself, Hugh M. Hefner Himself, Rebecca Romijn Herself

IMDb rating: 7.0 (152 votes)

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Enough of the Mealy-Mouthed Obamacare Excuses!

24 Nov 2013 /

I’d have a lot more respect for the president if he just came out and said, “As Otter so cogently observed in Animal House, ‘You fucked up … You trusted us!’

obama-233


We Named the Dog “Indiana”

19 Oct 2013 /

Indiana Jones


Snakes. Why’d it Have to Be Snakes?

19 Oct 2013 /

Indiana Jones


EppsNet at the Movies: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

11 Aug 2013 /

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

When you are young, your potential is infinite. You might do anything, really. You might be Einstein. You might be DiMaggio. Then you get to an age where what you might be gives way to what you have been. You weren’t Einstein. You weren’t anything.

That’s a bad moment.

Chuck Barris was way ahead of his time in recognizing how many Americans are willing to make an ass of themselves on television.

The tone of the movie is inconsistent — is it a comedy? a thriller? a tragedy? — but it’s entertaining.

Thus: Recommended!

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

An adaptation of the cult memoir of game show impresario Chuck Barris, in which he purports to have been a CIA hitman.

Director: George Clooney
Cast: Sam Rockwell (Chuck Barris), Drew Barrymore (Penny), George Clooney (Jim Byrd), Julia Roberts (Patricia Watson)

IMDb rating: 7.1 (60,918 votes)


EppsNet at the Movies: Mother

1 Jul 2013 /

Mother

We rented Mother from Netflix. As I explained to my family before screening it, the movie’s about a crazy Asian woman and her devotion to her mentally challenged son.

“You can see why it resonated with me,” I said. “It’s like someone made a movie about our lives!”

“You are not a nice person,” my wife said. “Our boy is not crazy.”

“No, you’re crazy,” the boy corrected her. “I’m mentally challenged.”

That said, I enjoyed the movie, although it contains a lot of profanity, which I don’t like.

Mother (2009)

A mother desperately searches for the killer that framed her son for a girl's horrific murder.

Directed by Joon-ho Bong. With Hye-ja Kim Mother, Bin Won Yoon Do-joon, Ku Jin (as Goo Jin) Jin-tae, Je-mun Yun (as Jae-moon Yoon) Je-moon

IMDb rating: 7.8 (18,973 votes)


You work your side of the street and I’ll work mine. — Frank Bullitt


HW’s Movie Reviews: 42

12 Apr 2013 /
42

Look at this — before Jackie Robinson, they didn’t let black guys play major league baseball!

Right . . . that was 70 years ago, in the 1940s. Let’s move on already.

You know what else they did in the 1940s? They rounded up Japanese Americans, just took them right out of their homes and their jobs, and stuck them into “relocation camps.”

When’s the last time you heard a Japanese person talk about relocation camps? They don’t talk about relocation camps because they’re too busy being engineers and doctors and businessmen and raising their families and sending their kids to top universities.

You can focus your mind on what other people did a long time ago or you can focus your mind on what you’re doing right now.

Let’s move on already.

Rating: 1 star

Footnote: We’ve come full circle on blacks in baseball. The defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants don’t have a single black player on their current roster (although some of the Latin players are pretty dark). Black men can play baseball if they want to but they don’t want to.


Ocean’s Trilogy

1 Apr 2013 /

My wife and I rented Ocean’s Eleven and enjoyed it, so we rented Ocean’s Twelve and enjoyed that too.

After we watch Ocean’s Thirteen, we’re planning to rob a bank.

Tags: ,

More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of: Diversity Flacks

10 Mar 2013 /
Jon Provost and Lassie

Jon Provost and Lassie

A new study from the American Council on Education shows that the percentages of black, Asian and Hispanic provosts have declined over the past five years.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports this story under the headline “Falling Diversity of Provosts Signals Challenge for Presidential Pipeline, Study Finds.”

FALLING DIVERSITY! LOOK OUT BELOW!

Ha ha . . . but seriously, who even knows what a provost is? I don’t. I’ve vaguely heard of it as an academic job title but that’s about it.

I know that Jon Provost played little Timmy on the Lassie TV series. I know that Marie Prevost was a one-time Mack Sennett bathing beauty and leading lady in the 1920s whose screen glory had faded by the time she died of acute alcoholism in a small Hollywood apartment at the age of 38.

By the way, I notice that Asian students are continuing to excel, even in the absence of Asian provosts. Go figure.


It’s Not Just the Guns

15 Dec 2012 /
John Wayne

Within a week or so, we’ve had Jovan Belcher, the mall shooting in Oregon and 26 people killed at a school in Connecticut. I’m hearing that maybe we should do something about guns.

But we’ve always had guns. Since the country was founded July 4, 1776, Americans have had guns, and for most of that time, we’ve managed to live with each other without a mass murder a week.

It can’t be just the guns.

One of the most appalling things to me about modern American society is the way increasingly graphic violence is peddled as entertainment. Turn on the TV: mass murder is entertainment. Grotesque, violent death is “great television.”

Serial killers in movies are the heroes. They can’t be killed off because they’ve got to come back and kill more people in the next sequel.

I know John Wayne used to kill people in movies, but when the Duke shot people, they just grabbed their gut and toppled over. It couldn’t possibly have been more fake. Now when someone gets shot in a movie, they have to be shot in the head. Shooting someone in the head is horrific. And there has to be blood spatter on walls or bystanders or both. And this is entertainment.

It diminishes humanity. It’s bad karma to pretend to kill and be killed for public amusement. It’s bad karma to trifle with death.


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