Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Star Trek on the Big Screen... in November!

This news is a little old, but - despite my lack of suitable blog access for a couple weeks there - I still feel it merits a post....

To promote the insanely overpriced release of the first season of the original Star Trek, Paramount will screen the two-part episode The Menagerie in theatres around the country on November 13 and 15. (How one of these theatres is not in San Francisco boggles my mind. I'll be going to nearby Emeryville.) To see if you're anywhere near one of these theatres and to buy tickets if you are, click here. If you're only a casual fan of the series and would like to know what all the hubbub is about, click here.

Honestly, this is a bit of a geek thrill. It'll be very interesting to see classic moments from an episode I and others originally watched 30-40 years ago on the big screen - and with an audience of like-minded folk. Seems an opportunity unlikely to pass this way again any time in the near future.

Until, of course, Paramount sees fit to release season two....

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Do You Have to Use So Many Cuss Words?"

A follow-up the the Lebowski book post, this here is something a very diligent fan cobbled together. Yep, it's apparently 281(!) uses of the so-called f-bomb from The Big Lebowski. Good for a chuckle or two. Definitely not for those with sensitive ears and certainly NSFW. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Do the Old Ones Know About This?

I must confess that I have not seen this documentary. I only learned of it in the course of reading an article on aintitcoolnews. However, the simple notion of this film - all 45 minutes of it - intrigues me no end. Excuse me while I ALT-TAB over to Netflix....

Ack! Much to my surprise and sorrow, The Strange Case of Howard Phillips Lovecraft is not available on Netflix. Not even an option to Save it for future release. Hmm.... I'll have to look into recommending it.

Oh, and if you have no idea who this Lovecraft fellow was, then please click here.

"Your name's Lebowski, Lebowski."

Internet crisis finally averted, this blog shall now resume....

I honestly can't tell you the last time I picked up a book at full price from a retail chain. I tend to order online or buy from the local likes of Green Apple. However, a few days ago I found myself in a store, and came face-to-cover with I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski. In short, it's a fantastic fan's companion for the neo-classic Coen Brothers film The Big Lebowski. If you've seen the flick, you know what I'm talking about. If not, what's wrong with you, man?

Written by the four founding members of the annual Lebowski Fest - where fans congregate in costume to bowl, to quote, and to drink White Russians - the book contains interviews with nearly the entire cast (even the Ralph's check-out girl!), the real-life inspirations for the characters, and famous fans. There's also tons of trivia, a reference guide (sort of a written commentary track for use when watching the DVD), and an introduction by Jeff Bridges, who cites the Dude as his favorite role. Oh, and there's lots of little tidbits hidden away. For example, apparently the Coen Brothers have discussed writing and directing a sequel. No, not to Lebowski. To Barton Fink! The title? Old Fink. I kid you not.

If you love this film, pick up the book - even if you're going to pay full price, it's still worth it.

Oh, and if you're looking for a new religion.... Check out becoming a Dudeist!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Thank You For the Days....

I've just learned that French actress Solveig Dommartin passed away back in January. This saddens me greatly. Most American audiences - and I'm including myself here - know her from her collaborations with director Wim Wenders. She's an angel's object of Earthly desire in Wings of Desire, and a complex adventuress in the epic Until the End of the World. If you've seen either or both of these movies, I suspect you'll share this sense of loss. If you haven't seen either, you owe it to yourself to do so. The former is a well-acknowledged classic, and while the latter is a bit challenging owing to its length, it is well worth the time investment, one of the few films that truly feels like a novel.

Here's her obit as it appeared in Variety:
French thesp Solveig Dommartin, who made an indelible screen debut as Marion the lonely trapeze artist in Wim Wenders' "Wings of Desire," died Jan. 11 of a heart attack. Although most official accounts claim she was born in 1958, her mother told reporters her daughter was born in May 1961, making her 45 at the time of her death.

The Paris-born Dommartin acted with the Compagnie Timothee Laine and Theater Labor Warschau legit troupes and worked as an assistant to iconoclastic French helmer Jacques Rozier. In 1987, she dazzled audiences as an ethereal aerialist who tempts the lovesick angel played by Bruno Ganz to trade his wings for mortality.

Dommartin, who was romantically linked with Wenders for many years, co-wrote his ambitious 270-minute globe-trotting road movie "Until the End of the World" (1991) in which she acted opposite William Hurt.

Thesp also reprised her role as Marion in Wenders' "Faraway, So Close!" in 1993.

Although Dommartin occasionally appeared on Gallic TV series throughout the 1990s, her bigscreen work was sparse. She acted in two Claire Denis films, "No Fear, No Die" (1990) and "I Can't Sleep" (1994), in addition to 1990's "The Prisoner of St. Petersburg."

Dommartin edited Wenders' "Tokyo-Ga" (1985) and directed her own short film, "If There Were a Bridge" in 1998.
I found this on youtube. If you have not seen Wings of Desire, you might consider skipping this, as it is basically the climax of the film.

In memoriam, let me just say, "I can't see you, but I know you're there...."

Michael Clayton

All too infrequently these days do I get to see a piece of what I consider to be masterful filmmaking. I'm not speaking here of simply direction or cinematography or writing or acting. I'm talking the whole package. 2006 was such a banal year at the movies that I remember lightning shooting through me after merely the first ten minutes of The Departed last Fall. This year's been a tad better, but I think Michael Clayton is the first film of '07 that has electrified me in that special way.

This is a drama/thriller cast very much from the '70's mold. There's a lot of Network here, and plenty more from Warren Beatty's finest decade - I'm thinking Parallax View. If you don't already know, George Clooney plays the titular character, a law firm's "fixer", who gets in way over his head when he tries to help his friend, a fellow attorney who's gone off his meds, jeopardizing a multi-billion dollar case. And that's just for starters. The drama is good and solid. The acting is top-notch; I can easily see nominations for Clooney, Tom Wilkinson (as the friend in need), and Tilda Swinton (to tell you more about her character is to give away too much of the plot). Big honors go to first-time director Tony Gilroy, most noted as the screenwriter for all three Jason Bourne flicks; he wrote the script for this as well. While not a slam-bang actioner like that trilogy, Michael Clayton shines with just as much energy and smarts, and - like Bourne - Clayton spends much of the movie trying to discover just who he is. (And, no, I did not just give away a major plot point. I'm speaking metaphorically, friends.)

These days, I tend to go into movies with low-to-no expectations. This way, I've found that I can enjoy pictures that a year ago I would have felt were - ahem - beneath me. With the pedigree - and positive reviews - associated with Michael Clayton, I couldn't bring myself to be prepared for mediocrity. I expected excellence. For a change, that's what I got.

(P.S. I really like the poster, too.)