krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
At the beginning of the year, I watched for the first time an animated feature film made in Japan half a century ago. Horus: Prince of the Sun did seem an interesting piece of work and one step along a path leading to today (although I certainly haven't taken in every other step along that way). The supplementary material on-disc, though, in trying to build up just how important the movie had been, mentioned another animated feature film from 1968 with comments I might risk paraphrasing from memory as "Yellow Submarine was a cheery holdover from 1967's doubtless chemically enhanced optimism; Horus was a display of 1968's grittier, violent, protesting mood." At least sometimes a little resistant to feelings of being hard-sold (especially when it seems to include bonus putdowns), I got to thinking about that other movie and how long it had been since my family had taped it off the educational channel's movie show (along the way, I've collected the canonical central albums of the Beatles discography), and before the year was out I'd got around to ordering a Blu-Ray of it. (In the meantime, I'd watched a third movie first opening in 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey, over again. Michael Benson's book Space Odyssey had mentioned some people had gone straight from working on Stanley Kubrick's movie to Yellow Submarine, managing to find a more interesting job than tracing and painting black mattes over endless frames of model photography to aid in compositing the special effects.)
Memory and influence )
krpalmer: (Default)
While I've tried for a while to limit my purchases from amazon.ca, I did wind up wanting to buy a non-anime Blu-Ray the movie store in the area mall couldn't seem to get, and resorted to online shopping at last. That led to something familiar enough, including something else in the order to get free shipping. It didn't take me long to think of a second title; the thought had been coming to me that so far as "Lucasfilm productions involving 'escorting bombers'" go, Red Tails had seemed more personally satisfying than The Last Jedi...
A different continuation )
krpalmer: (europa)
Returning to a whole cycle of movies once a year, given I don't often carve out the time to watch other films (although I did get to the nearest cinema to see First Man earlier this month), can seem an extravagance. Even so, I have told myself that since I haven't taken in their spinoff narratives in print for quite a while (and now I'm not doing that in computer animation, either), watching "just" the six Star Wars movies in the saga set isn't that all-consuming. With that, though, does come the ambiguous admission that where just a few years ago I'd wondered about an expanded series finally becoming overwhelming to watch "in full" yearly, now the "Disney productions" aren't on my agenda. Last year I had started off by watching Rogue One on Blu-Ray and then proceeding in "production order," but this year for one reason and another I'm not quite interested in even that. Instead, after watching the saga one rather conventional way last year and trying the "hybrid" or "flashback" order again the year before, I was looking forward to the simple and strict "numerical order."
A thought or two )
krpalmer: (anime)
A little while ago, my area newspaper ran an article about thirty years having passed since the movie Akira opened in Japan. Something about anime showing up in something like a newspaper (and I'm afraid I can think to add something like "especially in these page-straitened days") does get my attention, but beyond that it had me remembering I'd bought the movie on Blu-Ray a while ago to move up from the DVD I'd first watched it on, seen some criticisms of that particular release and let the disc sit, and then heard it was being released on Blu-Ray again and bought that disc as well only to also let it sit...
Crossing the Pacific )
krpalmer: (Default)
Even if we're well past the year it made famous, this being the fiftieth anniversary of 2001: A Space Odyssey has led to more looks back at the movie. News of a new book about its making did get my attention; I am aware that a good bit of what I think the film's imagery has been cadged from various print sources, starting with Arthur C. Clarke's novel but going on from there. At book sales over the years I've turned up vintage copies of Jerome Agel's The Making of Kubrick's 2001, a sort of scrapbook but as much about period takes on the movie (some of them even thoughtful and different from what had wound up seeming set reactions) as its actual production, and Arthur C. Clarke's The Lost Worlds of 2001, selected chapters of various takes on the constantly developing story, interesting in the same way I've found "the early drafts of Star Wars" that drift around online, and knit together with personal reflections (although Clarke wound up distant from the film production). I also remember finding a copy of Piers Bizony's mid-1990s 2001: Filming the Future in a used book store. The only problem is that when I think about the book, its "plus side" brings to mind a drawing of how the interiors of Discovery shown on screen could fit inside that spaceship's forward sphere (with plenty of room left; following up on a whim, I turned up competing cross-sections online), but its "minus side" includes a closing chapter with a rather sour judgement of both real life and all other science fiction movies since for not living up to the on-screen example. That does make for a rather unbalanced impression.

Those thoughts did add to my interest in reading Michael Benson's Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece. I did, though, flip through its last chapter in a bookstore before committing to asking for it for a birthday present; Benson dismissed the sequel 2010: The Year We Make Contact with very faint praise but otherwise didn't seem too negative about the half-century following the original film. Once I'd started reading my own copy of the book, I did notice a brief early note pondering HAL's efforts to remove men from the mission to Jupiter, but from there found myself devouring its story at a rapid clip.
Complex characters, a complicated production )
krpalmer: (Default)
I wouldn't say "a live action movie is the sure sign of a property having arrived" the way some people seem to, but I admit that close to five years ago now I was intrigued just by the thought of the movie Pacific Rim, and went to see it with what must have been some hope "piloted giant robots" might push a little further forward into the consciousness of some. In retrospect, though, I'm aware I bought the Blu-Ray afterwards (back when Target was still open on the corner of the block where I lived), but haven't got to opening it yet (although I suppose it's in ample company there).
Off-and-on rumours and beyond )
krpalmer: (anime)
The first day of the year being a day off had me thinking I could spend part of it watching one of the movies I hadn't quite found the time for in the last weekend of the year just ended. I have movies enough to get to, but my specific thoughts were of an anime feature that had arrived not that long ago. Not quite getting to it until this year worked out in an odd way, though: I was now reaching back an even fifty years to it.

While I suppose I might have taken some notice of Discotek's licensing notice for Horus: Prince of the Sun and whatever first reactions there were to that on the anime sites I follow, what really made me pick up on the movie was Mike Toole putting it at the top of a list of "The Other 100 Best Anime Movies," a half-joking response to a previous list by someone else that had seemed at first glance all the easy, obvious choices, and itself an exploration of the fine lines separating curiosities, obscurities, and hidden gems. Describing Horus as the breakout moment where Japanese animation had first created something other than "kids' stuff" (although Toole had put a good number of features made in the years just before it not that far down his list, too) did get my attention. When I happened to see the movie on special sale on Right Stuf at the exact moment I could order enough other things to reach the rarefied goal of free cross-border shipping, I went ahead and ordered it.

The movie really was an interesting experience, although I still wonder a little about the possible risk in taking in "formative works" well after the fact, one of not quite understanding just what its contemporaries had been to take the innovations for granted but fixate on anything that might be called a holdover. I'm also stuck with a familiar feeling that in being invigorated by something I hadn't heard much about before to the point of trying to share my reactions, I risk depriving anyone in the position I'd just been on of their own chance of a similar experience.
My specifics )
krpalmer: (anime)
It was something that Makoto Shinkai had gone from "making a work of animation lengthy for one man on his own" to "directing full-length anime features," but I'm always aware of a nagging sense of the general rhetoric about "impressive lighting effects and background art" being followed by "but..." Working backwards through his filmography, The Garden of Words was short and might have raised an amused eyebrow or two, Children Who Chase Lost Voices just perhaps took "someone has to carry on the Ghibli tradition" to the point of "now let's see your own thing" dismissal, 5 Centimeters per Second could provoke some resistance to "downbeat, inability-provoked developments," and I remembered more positive impressions of The Place Promised in Our Early Days, but not its title without looking it up.
There was something different about Your Name, though... )
krpalmer: (Default)
Cleaning up some piles of old correspondence a while ago, I managed to find two free movie passes in an envelope trying to get me to go back to a particular car service. Aware the passes would expire in the middle of next year, I got to wondering just what two movies I would try and see with them. One option opened up when I heard of a science fiction movie called Arrival. On going to see it, though, I did find myself thinking that what I'd managed to hear hadn't given too much about the movie away. That might have made it more interesting for me, but also left me half-convinced there'd be something gauche about turning around and saying too much to someone else in turn, as much as I want to share a positive opinion.
What I say might be vague anyway )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
The computer-animated Peanuts movie that just happened to align with the comic strip's sixty-fifth anniversary seemed to get good notices, including some from people I supposed to be other Peanuts fans, but where I had bought a Blu-Ray of The Lego Movie I waited on The Peanuts Movie until I was surprised to see it turn up on Netflix. This could have had something to do with how, aware as I am of how "drawn animation" has helped shape perceptions and form mental images of the Peanuts characters, a good number of the TV specials and the four feature-length movies made years ago preceded me by enough that I'm only aware of their storylines through their storybook adaptations. It just might be that, with certain small elements condensed out along the way, they kept striking me as veering between "ultimately outright depressing" and "perhaps lightweight." (As a small example, when I finally had the chance to see "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," its concluding minutes didn't seem quite as bleak as the storybook had somehow left me thinking.) Still, I wound up taking a chance, and there were things about The Peanuts Movie I did get to mulling over.
There was a big surprise )
krpalmer: (mst3k)
Back when I commented on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "The Rebel Set," I mentioned how I'd heard of a recent follow-up to that episode's short, "Johnny at the Fair," without being able to see it. With that said, I more or less put it out of my mind. Just a few days ago, though, when taking a look at the "Satellite News" site I saw a short notice the video "Charlie at the Fair" had been found on YouTube, and took it in at last.

It turned out the little boy who played "Johnny" grew up to become a Canadian artist of some note; Charles Pachter suggested this hadn't just been a coincidence for him through two weeks of filming at "The Ex" imprinting a sense of "Canada being amazing" on him. (So far as that perhaps having been a little unusual for people his exact age, all the flags flying in the period short are Union Jacks; things hadn't even worked up to the "Red Ensign" yet.) As with some of the extra features on the official Mystery Science Theater DVDs, the short just happening to wind up being included in the MST3K canon isn't mentioned; however, the show never aired on cable up here so I was willing to let that go. One person commenting on the short in the video did bring up the "Chemical Wonderland" MST3K had some fun with. The bits of the short excerpted in the video, though, caught my attention for having different music (the music in the "MST3K version" seemed to be stock material; it can be heard in some of the other shorts the show featured...) and a different narrator (Lorne Greene, still a few years away from moving south to become a television patriarch). Hearing the short had originally been a National Film Board of Canada production had me wondering if it might be available for streaming on their own site; when it didn't turn up there I turned to YouTube, and it turned out it was there alongside the MST3K version, which did have rather more views.

While I've admitted to not quite having the courage to tackle many movies from the MST3K canon "raw," I was willing to make an exception; I soon had the impression that whoever had made up the short that had wound up an "ephemeral film" had been supplied with footage from the National Film Board and had cut it together in a slightly different way, even managing to include a few moments from the cutting room floor. The anonymous narration might been a little less serious and involved than Lorne Greene's, but perhaps that just added to the potential for Mystery Science Theater.
krpalmer: (mst3k)
I'm still putting some time into watching movies I've had sitting on my hard disk recorder for quite a while, sitting in a peculiar limbo of "I can't just record them to DVD until I edit them, but I can't edit them without watching them first." After watching a few respectable but lengthy old movies, however, I moved on to something a bit more dodgy. When I heard of "mockbusters," movies with names almost like those of big-budget features as if to fool at least a few people into buying something far more cheaply made, I remembered the cheesy movies of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and how the more recent "ripoffs" in that show's canon were some of my favourites. Beyond buying and watching my way through a DVD of the "raw" "Space Mutiny," I haven't devoted too much time to experiencing those sort of movies without a crew of professionals laying the comedic groundwork, but when I saw the science fiction channel was programming a string of "mockbusters" late one night during one holiday marathon (not just last Christmas, mind you) I decided I could take a chance on some of them.
When I got around to one at last... )
krpalmer: (Default)
My combination hard disk and DVD recorder is very handy for saving things on TV to watch, but its instructions do caution me against putting more than two and a half hours of video on one disc. When an interesting-sounding film on Turner Classic Movies runs longer than that, I have to hope it'll include an "intermission" or at least a suitable point to break it into two parts. To find that point, though, I have to watch the movie, and recording them is a lot easier than watching them. When I found the time last weekend to view one of the long movies I've had on the hard drive for quite a while, I pondered which of them to watch for a few moments and then settled on Judgment at Nuremberg, which had been waiting the longest. I did know Stanley Kramer had a reputation for earnest "message" pictures which did always seemed to inspire "just a shade short of true greatness" comments, but I supposed I could handle that. What I didn't know was the movie's cast included William Shatner.

It wasn't a major role, but it wasn't a brief, midway-through appearance either; Shatner played a young US Army officer assigned as the assistant to Spencer Tracy's judge. It was instantly tempting to filter his performance through the swaggering caricature that's built up over the years and find indisputable "Shatner-ness" in it (his character mentioning romancing a young German woman did help). That provoked some odd yet amused reactions from me, especially when I took a break about midway through the movie to watch the rest the next evening. In that time, though, I did get to thinking about a concern I've had about the revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000, that the new writers will be limited by a more circumscribed set of "fannish" references, and wondered if I'd made a criticism I really ought to apply to myself as well, even if my swift and reductive summing-up might have at least been "amused"... The second half of the movie, in any case, did get still more serious, and that hammered some perspective back into me.
krpalmer: (Default)
The Martian got my attention when it opened. Good notices helped there in this case, but so did simple interest in another "realistic space" movie showing up not that long after Gravity and Interstellar, both of which I'd seen at the movies. That, though, seemed to turn into a reproach when the Saturday afternoons that seem the most available time for me to go to a movie with so many other diversions and distractions kept getting taken up by one thing or another. When one of those afternoons opened up at last, however, I did get to the single "flat" showing that day at my local theatre.
Stranded on the red planet )
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
I bought a book at a used book store a little while ago about the silent movie era and read part of it during my vacation; afterwards, a few new thoughts in my mind, I found the time to return to a documentary series I'd recorded off Turner Classic Movies a few years ago, and by the time it was getting to the changeover from silence to sound I was thinking of all the movies I've recorded off that channel and stored away on home-made DVDs with the thought that one day, maybe, I'll squeeze out some time not spent watching anime (or doing anything else) and broaden what I take in. A few titles from the silent movie era have seemed notable enough for me to have added them to my considerable pile, but I suppose that as I was doing that I was still remembering the day back in elementary school we were assembled in the gym to watch a silent movie without context-setting or musical accompaniment and it didn't go that well. Not that long after that my family did record some Charlie Chaplin shorts off the educational channel that did have musical accompaniment, but I never seemed quite able to really get around to them.

However, just a few years ago I'd happened to see in a museum exhibition on video games a comparison between Buster Keaton's short comedy Seven Days and the action of the Super Mario Brothers games; much more recently, I happened on a different comparison between that movie's grand finale and one particular bit of slapstick in the Star Wars movies. Just to get started, I found and watched Keaton's even shorter "two-reeler" One Week, which I could remember some very approving comments about from the documentary, and was quite able to get through it. Now, I considered myself ready to move on to something only a bit longer.
Moving on )
krpalmer: (anime)
I was starting to wonder what I could post about next, and even toying with a thing or two I'd heard but without much enthusiasm about how it seemed it would turn out, when a genuine surprise showed up. After years with the rights for a live-action Robotech movie held by Warner Brothers, the rights had now been transferred to Sony Pictures.

That did, though, get me remembering how I'd taken particular note of the first announcement and even kept track of script writers being replaced for a while before the whole thing just sort of faded into the background. I had got to wondering if the people who'd actually produced a bit of new animation after long years (and not a few of them years of holding out promises) had reacted with glee to the thought of a bigger company responding to that by promising to "do things for them," and the attempt last year to raise crowd-sourced money to make a bit more animation could then even be seen as "realising they'd have to do something themselves"; unfortunately, the attempt didn't work out, and I had really got to thinking Robotech really ought to be filed away as something that could be thought well of so long as it was kept in the past. After all, there had been a full-fledged Macross anime series (with some theatrical movies included) in the years since the live-action movie announcement, and there's supposed to be another new Macross anime coming up in the near future.

However, something about this news also got me thinking that if the live-action movie announcement had just preceded several of the North American anime-releasing companies being shut down or at least hitting the skids among apocalyptic fan comments that what was being made in Japan was intended to only sell to a minuscule group of people, these days some new series may be attracting somewhat more positive attention over here. I also contemplated comments overheard that if Warner Brothers has the DC Comics movies and the promise of Harry Potter spinoffs (and they even also made Pacific Rim), Sony Pictures may be a bit more ready to try and build up something new and "big." Thoughts about "don't let your expectations creep into areas where they might not pay off" come to mind, of course, but at least I can keep up a bit of idle interest yet.
krpalmer: (Default)
Passing through the public library, I happened on a shelf of "non-fiction" DVDs, and when, going by the familiar Dewey decimal system, I saw how many discs on space exploration were there I took a closer look. Seeing that one of the discs was the IMAX documentary The Dream Is Alive, I decided to sign it out. While I've known for a while now how a fair number of short IMAX films are available on DVD, squashing one of them down into even the biggest "home theatre" (and my setup isn't close to being one of them) hadn't seemed worth spending money on even before DVD changed from "the advanced format" to "the plebeian format." This, of course, was different.
It's nostalgia for me )
krpalmer: (Default)
From what I overheard, people seemed to like The Lego Movie when it was in the theatres. The trailers I looked for after I'd started noticing those positive comments looked fun to me; I was sort of impressed by the staccato "stop-motion" effect given to the computer animation, similar to the "brick films" I've seen a few of online. (Years before that, back in elementary school I did include two Lego astronauts in a stop-motion short filmed with a home movie camera; given that I remember most of it used a toy space shuttle it may not have counted as a real "brick film," though.) I contemplated going to see it at the movies myself, but then another comment overheard in different circumstances about the sort of audience bound to be at it did sort of give me pause, weekends got busy with other things, and I decided at last that I'd wait for the home video release. As I bought the "regular" Blu-Ray in the middle of the pricing spread, though, I was still wondering if it would indeed seem to me to be too much "kid's stuff," and more than that just how I would take one specific cameo of a "licensed minifigure" from a company other than Warner Brothers (even if that studio was associated with a "theatrical premiere" featuring associated characters just a few years back...)
Not just one cameo discussed )
krpalmer: (Default)
The combination "hard disk PVR"/"DVD recorder" I bought a few years ago has seemed a useful gadget, even if most of the discs I've recorded "for later," what with not watching many "network" or "cable" shows these days, are old films off of Turner Classic Movies. With the impression that video quality really starts to suffer with more than two and a half hours on one disc, though (suffers more than it does coming through my standard definition cable, anyway), I've avoided recording some really long movies and stashed a few others on the hard disk with the thought that maybe, as with cases from Gone With the Wind and Seven Samurai to It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, they'll have an "intermission" in the middle and I'll be able to split them between two discs. Before I can do that, though, I have to watch them, but this weekend I devoted the time at last to do that for another one of them. After a few moments' thought, I settled on a notable example of the previous time Hollywood went for "spectacle" to compete, the 1959 production of the "sword, sandal, and scripture" epic Ben-Hur.

Although long enough that I wound up getting through the movie in three separate viewing sessions, it kept my attention. For some reason, I was convinced the musical score was a significant contributor to the experience; I also had the odd feeling I was having trouble applying the actual name of the main character to someone I kept thinking of as just "Charlton Heston." Around the intermission, though, all of a sudden the thought had come back to me that the famous chariot race sequence coming up had been called a clear model for the "podrace" in The Phantom Menace...

This didn't suddenly transfigure the whole experience, much less make it something less than it had been, but I suppose I was looking at the sequence with a new curiosity and able to see the setting-up pageantry and the colour scheme itself as familiar, while still thinking there'd been at least some changes. I also reminded myself of a thought I'd had when I'd watched The Hidden Fortress, that you can identify influences on all the Star Wars movies in a "positive" or a "negative" light. For all that I was conscious some could be noisy about proclaiming "this is all real," I could also remember supposing earlier in the movie that the "tops" of some establishing shots could have been done with matte paintings. A new thought, though, was to wonder about the intimations those working on the Star Wars movie in production keep managing to toss out to try and link themselves to the three old movies. Drawing on a number of inspirations may begin to feel a bit different if it comes to seem a work to follow is just obsessed on echoing a fixed number of works themselves once suggested to be "composite."
krpalmer: (Default)
I heard a while ago about a documentary on DVD about text adventures, featuring interviews with notable figures from the past and present of those games. Although I continue to be aware I'm interested in those games without now making the time to play them, I kept more or less daydreaming about watching the documentary until all of a sudden I checked its official site and saw it was no longer being shipped internationally. That awareness of a missed opportunity oppressed me for a while, until I checked the site again and saw I'd once more be able to get a copy. At that point, I didn't waste any time in ordering "Get Lamp." On beginning to watch the disc, though, I did sort of run up against an issue with technology constraining a storytelling experience...
'Before the first person shooter there was the second person thinker.' )

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