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.' )
krpalmer: (anime)
It was an interesting sort of experience to see the two "compilation movies" made of the Puella Magi Madoka Magica anime series at the movies, but I suppose that in concluding they hadn't quite "replaced" the original series in my estimation (which saved me buying their pricy first release) I also let them point ahead to the promised third movie with its original story. The third movie came out in Japan without my picking up too much about it, and then a few months later it began its special screenings over here, including at my own local theatre. With a new sense of anticipation, I headed over to the movies, and this time managed to get one of the bonus items being handed out, an "art board." I took in the rest of the audience with a sort of "I'm not alone around here" feeling, then had the unfortunate thought that to wonder what to make of them would be to ask what they would make of me.

As for the movie itself, the problem with being surprised at a work of entertainment might be that when compelled to talk about it, you're giving that surprise away to others. Trying to craft a brief and non-specific statement, I want to say the artwork was as interesting as ever, what was happening kept surprising me and yet seemed to fit into the patterns set before with just a bit of thought, and my first settled reactions to the conclusion were to be intrigued, but to also think my particular grounding for that might just mean a lot of other people would find what happened more problematic.
And now for the specifics )
krpalmer: (Default)
I don't make as many quasi-impulsive online purchases to qualify for free shipping on the things I really want to get as I used to, but not that long ago the old and more or less whimsical urge struck me and I ordered a DVD of a movie I'd heard a bit about. Message From Space, I thought, just might bring a few things I'm interested in into an amusing juxtaposition...
where fantasies are real & reality is FANTASTIC )
krpalmer: (Default)
I worked out a while ago how to use the free movie passes I was given for a present before they expire at the end of this year, but when I seemed to miss my chance to go see the new Star Trek movie without having to add a surcharge for seeing it in 3D I just shrugged that off and before long had thought of a possibility or two. For the next movie already in mind, though, I was intent on getting to Pacific Rim. I suppose it was a matter of priorities.

To begin with, so far as special effects battles pitting monsters against giant robots go, this movie managed to transcend anything I can think of I've seen drawn. That, of course, can't be the only thing you go to a movie for, but the character stories did seem simply but effectively drawn. The one thing I could feel most uncertain about was whether the subplot of the comedy relief scientists gelled with the rest of the plot at the very end; they came up with the way to make the desperate plan work, but I wound up thinking it might be necessary to interpret things as establishing more uncertainty about whether the first intended plan would work.

While I of course approached the film from a "mecha" perspective, I could understand how it also builds on the classic monster movie. Monster movies, of course, can say "they have the brawn, but we have the brains," but often enough I begin to wonder about "good guy monsters" fighting the "bad guy monsters" for us, which may tie in with one of the reasons why I was interested not just in Transformers but also in Robotech a certain while ago, and just might mean I found this film more satisfying than Cloverfield so far as "modern monster movies" go. As with the Robotech novels, Battletech (to a certain extent), and the "Mecha Corps" novel I read not that long ago, Pacific Rim invokes "mental control" as necessary to drive a giant robot, but unlike the Robotech novels this isn't bolted on a story not so obsessed with the question, and it can have ramifications beyond just "explanation."
krpalmer: (anime)
I took some small notice of the news the anime series Puella Magi Madoka Magica was being turned into two movies in advance of a third new feature, a bit more notice of the movies reaching this side of the Pacific in a traveling road show. That still only provoked idle daydreams of the trip required (even if it shrank a bit every now and then) to see them in advance of a home video release over here, though, but then all of a sudden there was some fresh news that the movies would be crossing to my side of the border in a special two-days rush, and one of the theatres they'd be showing in was the recently built but otherwise ordinary multiplex just a few minutes drive away, where Funimation had brought the first two "Rebuild of Evangelion" movies and where Aniplex of America was following, at least giving us the chance to keep from making too many complaints about "blind buying." Right away, I was thinking ahead to seeing them.
From then to now )
krpalmer: (Default)
After realising just what day yesterday was, I decided to change my routine just a little and opened a movie I'd bought off the discount rack not that long ago, all things considered. Groundhog Day, after all, seemed appropriate to watch the movie Groundhog Day...

My grandparents had taped the movie off their movie channel not that long after it came out, but I can't quite remember watching through the whole thing start to finish. I suppose I was therefore left with a sense of a lot but not all of it being familiar; of course, the situation in the movie has wound up instantly recognisable... The parts where Bill Murray's character behaves the most outrageously (which I seemed to remember the best) might have appealed the most to me in advance of the more positive conclusion, but I suppose a movie like this is able to "have it both ways."

So far as "appropriateness" goes, I wound up conscious the movie is now exactly two decades old, and not having made a tradition of it might have left me a bit more ready to think "people used to look that way." I did, though, also wind up thinking a movie from 1973 would have looked more "different" twenty years ago than this one does now, even as I looked up a few pieces on it I could also remember.
krpalmer: (europa)
With new time opened up, I thought it about right to get around to watching the Star Wars movies again (once a year or so seems not too much for me), but before getting started on that I did remember something I'd had the mere potential of for a while now. Among the first movies I managed to record on a DVD off of Turner Classic Movies was Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, and of course I remembered all the tales of how Star Wars had started out as an adaptation of that specific movie transposed into space...
From the expected to the unexpected )
krpalmer: (Default)
Out of all the things that have managed to reach some critical mass of cultural references where it seems possible to "know about it" without actual experience of it, I just might have found myself sort of fixing on "Planet of the Apes." Primed by a good number of jokes from The Simpsons and a wide variety of references in Mystery Science Theater 3000, when a while back a cable channel showed a New Year's Day marathon of the five-movie cycle of the 1960s and 1970s I dipped in briefly "just to see how it began" and "just to see that famous last scene." I also happened to find and read the original translated-from-the-French novel, indulging in a bit of speculative contemplation about potential differences between its "how do we treat animals? how do we interpret them?" satire and the American movies that followed. One day not that long ago, though, I happened to notice a DVD of the very first Planet of the Apes at a local store, and with the thought it would be easier to get into than the five-movie collections that go on sale every once in a while I went ahead and bought it.

It was at times a little hard to disentangle the movie from the jokes; I could wind up grinning not just at lines I already knew were memorable but just from terms like "Ape Law" (not quite in the context I'd always thought it would be in) and "the Lawgiver." Even so, I did find myself able to wonder about "changing interpretations"; beyond my initial thoughts about "teaching sign language" in the decade that followed the movie, hearing knowledge of the past suppressed on "religious" grounds does seem a bit more "ominous" now than it might have when the movie was being made. (By the end of the movie, though, I was thinking there might be halfway comprehensible reasons for that suppression...) It was distinctly amusing to me, though, for there to be a youthful ape resentful of "the older generation"; it did add on a feeling of the movie having been made in a particular time and place. While it's easy enough to say "it's not 2001" (although when an Academy Award for special effects was given to Planet of the Apes Arthur C. Clarke did wonder whether it was because the Academy thought 2001: A Space Odyssey had used actual apes), you could say that about pretty much every movie.

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