Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Dixon's E-Membership


I love the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, really I do, but I've never been treated in a less welcoming fashion anywhere else. Museums all over the world have treated me as if they were glad I was there; the Dixon staff has frequently treated me like they were doing me a favor by letting me come. That's not to say it happens every time, but it happens often enough for me to notice that it feels different to me to go to their museum than it feels to go to any other.

A few days ago I bought an e-membership online, and I went by the Dixon on my way home to try it out and see the sculptures before that exhibit closes. There was no one at the little booth where one usually pays, but I noticed that it was not quite noon and there's no admission charge before noon on Saturdays. I went into the museum building, and the woman at the desk peeled off a sticker and gave it to me to put on. She said, "It's free on Saturdays between 10 and noon, and [looks pointedly at her watch] there are a few minutes left 'til noon." I got the distinct impression she thought I was somehow cheating by coming so late during the free period.

I told her I had come by to see if my e-membership had gone through ok but that there had been no one at the booth outside. She checked my name against her list and didn't find it. When she found out it had been 3 days since I'd bought the membership she said that it could take 2-3 weeks. 2-3 weeks? She said somebody goes through the e-memberships every so often and manually adds new names. I saw nothing at the web site to warn about this. The web site says if you buy an e-membership you get admission by showing a photo id:
e-Members receive free unlimited admission to the museum and gardens and weekly news updates via email for one year, but do not receive any other general Dixon member benefits. E-members do not receive membership cards. Please use photo ID for admission. Email address is required.
My youngest son says he'll never go back no matter what they offer. He says his last good experience there was at the 1997 Dale Chihuly exhibit back when he was a child. His last visit was a disaster, with security guards threatening him with expulsion when he pulled out his cell phone to check the time. Sheesh!

I realize each time I find the staff patronizing or condescending it adds to the ill will I already feel from them, and I realize that any one occurrence is not particularly notable; but year after year of similar events does add up.

Oddly enough, the gift shop folks are always friendly.

The photo at the top of the post is from Wikipedia.

Ikarie XB-1

Ikarie XB-1 (the English version Voyage to the End of the Universe is significantly different) is a 1963 science fiction film. This Czechoslovakian film is director Jindrich Polak's first. This film is slow-moving, there's no doubt about that, but I found myself actively engaged throughout.

watch it online via youtube:


Moria says it
has a reasonable reputation in science-fiction circles. In reality though, it is better off viewed as an historical curiosity rather than one that necessarily makes for good dramatic science-fiction.
DVD Talk says, "Ikarie XB 1 is one of the best outer space movies ever, and surely the most serious made before Kubrick's film." FilmJournal.net calls it "an unusually thoughtful and intelligent genre entry".

It's on this list of Best Obscure Science Fiction Films.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is the sequel to Sherlock Holmes and also stars Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law and is directed by Guy Ritchie. This was a lot of fun. I'm not sure what sparked the recent interest in Sherlock Holmes adaptations, but we are lovin' it. Nobody can take the place of Jeremy Brett, but these new projects aren't trying.

But Stephen Fry naked? In mixed company as if it's perfectly normal behavior? That may have been the most unbelievable part of the whole thing.

trailer:



SF Signal gives it 3 out of 5 stars and calls it "Silly, with too many subplots and not quite enough brain," but praises the chemistry between the 2 stars. Slant Magazine gives it 1 1/2 out of 4 stars and calls it "depressingly flaccid". Salon.com seems torn and says, "Sherlock Holmes? Not much. But did it get a laugh? You bet," but offers criticism after criticism before closing with this:
...the level of semi-gay double entendre between Holmes and Watson is carried almost to an offensive locker-room extreme. “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” is occasionally thrilling, sometimes hilarious and mostly absolute claptrap. Think of it as a lot like drinking a fourth cup of holiday eggnog: Not really a good idea at all, but you might have fun
io9 says it "will provide you with a diverting, though bumpy, ride." EW gives it a B- and says that "part of the movie's perversely cheeky design is that it throws away its own cleverness." Roger Ebert closes with this:
The thing to do, I suppose, is to set aside your memories of the Conan Doyle stories, save them to savor on a night this winter and enjoy this movie as a high-caliber entertainment.
Rotten Tomatoes gives it 61%.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Puffin Loafing Ledge


I want to live close enough to walk to a spot close enough to see the Puffin Loafing Ledge on Seal Island. I wonder if it's visible from anywhere on the coast. There are web cams. I'd love to go on a half-day excursion trip.

I've been watching the web cam of the loafing ledge, fascinated, and have seen puffins and razorbills (closest living relative to the now-extinct Great Auk).

Ah, go on and click through to the web cam. It's worth it. There are puffins!!!

from explore.org:
Atlantic Puffins spend most of their time at sea — coming to land each spring to breed in colonies on northern coastal islands, like Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge in Maine, home to the puffins visible on our live “loafing ledge” cam.
There's also a Puffin Burrow Cam.

This is a video of puffins on the island:



The photo at the top of the page is from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service site.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland (2010) is another Tim Burton/Johnny Depp/Danny Elfman film. It also has Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Michael Sheen, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Michael Gough, Christopher Lee and Frances de la Tour. We thought it was a fun bit of fluff. We had been afraid of how bad it could be, and I was pleasantly surprised at how bad it wasn't.

trailer:


I think Moria hits the nail on the head with this:
It feels increasingly as though Tim Burton has sealed himself in a hermetic world – always working with the same stars (Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter), the same musician (Danny Elfman) and frequently the same designers and writers. He has become like Picasso, Anne Rice and George Lucas – someone who had a big hit and found acclaim early in their careers and spent the ensuing decades recycling the same thing in slightly different forms, rather than exploring new directions.
Slant gives it a mixed review. Salon.com says, "I found myself trying so hard to like “Alice in Wonderland” that the process of watching it exhausted me." Roger Ebert says, "The film is enchanting in its mordant way until, unfortunately, it arrives at its third act." Rotten Tomatoes gives it 51%.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tasmanian Devil Genetic Diversity


As long as I've been keeping track -however loosely- of this issue, they've been telling us that the lack of genetic diversity is a major factor in the Tasmanian Devil facial tumour disease (DFTD). Turns out that's just not so:
Researchers had thought that the lack of genetic diversity in the marsupials was a major factor in the disease. But, associate professor Kathy Belov, from the University of Sydney told Rachel Carbonell that in trying to prove the theory her team instead debunked it. -ABCNews The World Today

Phys.org reports:
"We thought devils that were most genetically different to the tumours would be less likely to catch DFTD. This isn't the case." The researchers will have to go back to the drawing board to try to work out why DFTD is affecting genetically different devils.

This disease was first described in 1996 according to Wikipedia, and is a contagious cancer. Wikipedia also says
At present the population has dwindled 70% since 1996. Numbers as of 2010 show an 80% rate of infection throughout the population. Six females have been found with a partial immunity. Breeding in captivity has begun to try to save the population.[8] It is spread by devils biting each other's heads when fighting over food.

The Save the Tasmanian Devil Program has more information.

The photo at the top of the post is from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Missed Connections

This is #162 on the I Love Memphis blog list of 365 things to do in Memphis, but I'm not sure why. I checked the missed connections on Craigslist just like the list suggested, and now I guess I know where to go if I'm ... what? wanting proof that lotsa people are way worse off than me and that being lonely is a common suffering? Or maybe that long shots sometimes work out or who would ever post or read anything there? There's certainly proof here that we are better off missing some of the possible connections in this life.

I'll confess, though, that I'm tempted to make up some totally random encounter and post it:
Poplar at Colonial - I was in disguise as a human but am really an alien being from a galaxy far away. I found you fascinating, and I'd love to know if our 2 species can cross-pollinate. Interested? Shine flashlight up into the sky at midnight, and I will find you.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Best Obscure Science Fiction Films

SF Signal offers a link to film.com's list of 10 Must-See Sci-Fi Films You’ve Probably Never Heard Of:

1. ‘Alphaville’ (1965)
2. ‘Cosmos: War of the Planets’ (1966)
3. ‘Demon Seed’ (1977)
4. ‘Ikarie XB-1′ (1963)
5. ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ (1982)
6. ‘La Planete Sauvage’ (1972)
7. ‘The Quiet Earth’ (1985)
8. ‘Stalker’ (1972)
9. ‘Stereo’ (1969) & ‘Crimes of the Future’ (1970)
10. ‘Zardoz’ (1974)

I've seen the 6 that are in bold print.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Memphis Botanic Gardens Farmers Market


I looked for mint at Easy Way but didn't find any. One Wednesday afternoon I thought to myself, "Self, I bet the Farmers Market at the Memphis Botanic Gardens has mint." Sure enough, the 2nd booth had 3 mint plants left, and I bought them. I had a nice little planter to put them in, and I look forward to having mint in my lemonade.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Patrick's Steaks and Spirits


The Husband and I had a late lunch at Patrick's. I had never been here before, but he used to come once a week. He said they had the best chicken tenders in town, so that's what he ordered. I got the Patrick's Burger with sauteed onions instead of the onion slice. We each got house fries instead of the curly ones. I ordered the burger medium well and that's how it was cooked. That's always nice. The food was served in a timely fashion and was piping hot. Also nice. My hamburger was juicy without being hard to handle, and the bun held up just fine while I ate. The burger was so big I couldn't finish it:



You can see the chicken tenders on the other side of the table in the picture above.

We sat on the patio, which turned out to be quite pleasant considering it was supposed to get up to 92F. The waitress was helpful but not intrusive and seemed to be enjoying herself. She remembered The Husband from the group he used to come with. She said she'd been there 10 years, so she's doin' something right. I appreciated that she asked if we wanted 1 check or 2 and didn't just bring the 1 check.



The Husband and I remember when the first restaurant opened at that site: the George Lindsey Steak House. My parents won dinners there and they took us out to eat, which was a treat and not something we did often. I don't remember when it closed or what all it's been since then, and I don't remember when Patrick's moved to that location.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Hunter


The Hunter is the first in the Parker crime series by Richard Stark. Published in 1962, it was followed by many others, the last of which came out in 2008. The author died in December of that year. This book is different from what I usually read. I have been looking in the mystery section for something a bit different, and this hits the spot. I have another in the series on my tbr shelf.

from the back of the book:
She shot him just above the belt and left him for dead. Then they torched the house, with Parker in it, and took the money he had helped them steal. It all went down just the way they’d planned, except for one thing. Parker didn’t die.

In The Hunter, the first volume in the Parker series, our ruthless antihero roars into New York City, seeking revenge on the woman who betrayed him and on the man who took his money, stealing and scamming his way to redemption. The volume that kick-started Parker’s forty-plus-year career of larceny -and inspired the motion picture Point Blank (1967), starring Lee Marvin– The Hunter is back, ready to thrill a new generation of noir fans.
The book has been recreated as a graphic novel, and the reviews I find are for that work and not for the original novel.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers is a 2011 film loosely based on the Alexander Dumas novel. This was another one of those movies that's fun to watch but doesn't beg for a repeat viewing.

trailer:


Slant Magazine gives it 3 out of 4 stars and closes with this:
After the bumpy first scenes with d'Artagnan, however, if you consider yourself an open-minded viewer, you'll find yourself slowly overcome with the opium dream of Bourbon-era France, rendered in immersive depth, and Anderson's over-caffeinated absurdities, to the point where you're open to any crackpot idea, just so long as it dazzles. And it dazzles.
Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 26% rating. Metacritic gives it 35 out of 100.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Priest

Priest (2011) is a vampire movie starring Paul Bettany. The vampires in this one aren't your typical vampire of either the sinister black cape or romantic sparkly variety. We got a kick out of it, even though, honestly, there's not much to it.

trailer:


Moria says,
Priest is certainly an improvement over the frequently absurd Legion but [director] Scott Stewart has yet to learn the art of investing his films with anything other than poses he has borrowed from other action and horror films.
Slant Magazine opens with this:
In the way it unimaginatively regurgitates familiar genre elements in service of preachy piousness, director Scott Charles Stewart's cinema is the equivalent of Christian rock.
It gets a 17% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Duma Key


I haven't read many Stephen King books -4 or so, I think- and I'm not sure why I sought Duma Key out. (That Duma Key link leads to many spoilers I'd avoid if you haven't read the book.) I enjoyed reading it. No clowns. No scary highway patrol officers. Precious little blood & gore when I think back on it. Florida beach. In all, a good book.

from the dust jacket:
No more than a dark pencil line on a blank page. A horizon line, maybe. But also a slot for blackness to pour through...A terrible construction site accident takes Edgar Freemantle's right arm and scrambles his memory and his mind, leaving him with little but rage as he begins the ordeal of rehabilitation. A marriage that produced two lovely daughters suddenly ends, and Edgar begins to wish he hadn't survived the injuries that could have killed him. He wants out. His psychologist, Dr. Kamen, suggests a "geographic cure," a new life distant from the Twin Cities and the building business Edgar grew from scratch. And Kamen suggests something else."Edgar, does anything make you happy?""I used to sketch.""Take it up again. You need hedges...hedges against the night."Edgar leaves Minnesota for a rented house on Duma Key, a stunningly beautiful, eerily undeveloped splinter of the Florida coast. The sun setting into the Gulf of Mexico and the tidal rattling of shells on the beach call out to him, and Edgar draws. A visit from Ilse, the daughter he dotes on, starts his movement out of solitude. He meets a kindred spirit in Wireman, a man reluctant to reveal his own wounds, and then Elizabeth Eastlake, a sick old woman whose roots are tangled deep in Duma Key. Now Edgar paints, sometimes feverishly, his exploding talent both a wonder and a weapon. Many of his paintings have a power that cannot be controlled. When Elizabeth's past unfolds and the ghosts of her childhood begin to appear, the damage of which they are capable is truly devastating. The tenacity of love, the perils of creativity, the mysteries of memory and the nature of the supernatural -- Stephen King gives us a novel as fascinating as it is gripping and terrifying.

From the review at SF Signal:
BOTTOM LINE:Sharp, poignant, scary, mysterious, funny, with a terrific ending, this is one Stephen King novel among a few others that I would hand to someone and say “Here, you might like this author…”
January Magazine says, "Duma Key is a slow and intense story. It unravels like a well-wrapped birthday present." Kirkus Reviews opens with this:
The prolific master of psycho-horror returns to the mysteries of the creative process, a subject that has inspired some of his most haunting work. This could be considered a companion piece to The Shining, offering plenty of reversals on that plot.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Adios, Sabata

Adios, Sabata (1971), the 2nd in the Sabata trilogy, stars Yul Brynner in the Lee Van Cleef role. Apparently, Lee Van Cleef was offered the role but had to refuse it because he was already committed to play Yul Brynner's character in The Magnificent Seven Ride. Would a simple swap have been too much to ask? I guess so, so we get Yul Brynner in a black outfit with long fringe and a shirt open to the waist carrying a long, red fringed shawl over one shoulder. Not a pretty sight. The music was fine, but the cinematography was filled with zoom-in, zoom-out jumps.

trailer:


SpaghettiWestern.net says, "This is a mighty fine genre example." DVD Talk likes Brynner in this. The Spinning Image closes by saying,
this is diverting enough and the cast throw themselves into the action with some abandon, resulting in no classic, but ideal for followers of the genre.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tron: Legacy

We've had this dvd for a long time but have never watched it. I'm not sure why it never made it to the top of the stack, but now we have seen it. Tron: Legacy is a sequel to Tron and also stars Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner. The CLU character, who is the Jeff Bridges character in the Grid, hasn't aged and is computer generated using the face of a younger Bridges. To me, he looks disconcerting like Charming from the Shrek movies; I found the likeness so striking it was distracting.

The movie is a lot of fun to watch, and is a fitting sequel. We're pretending we don't care where these peoples' physical bodies are, right? or how the being who evolved on the grid pops out into our world in new clothes and rides a motorcycle, right? 'Cause otherwise, the film's a mess and can't be understood.

trailer:


Moria says, "Certainly, in terms of its designs and visual effects, Tron Legacy is a complete triumph" and praises the music, but adds, "On the other hand, Tron Legacy works far less in terms of a story (mindedly, that is a complaint that one could also make of Tron)" and concludes, "Like too many other films, it is a triumph of look and visuals but weakly strains at finding anything to say in terms of ideas." Slate begins, "I would rather be bombarded with neon Frisbees than watch this movie again." Slant Magazine concludes, "TRON: Legacy is the sort of spectacle that makes people go to the movies and it looks spectacular on Blu-ray." Roger Ebert says, ""Tron: Legacy," a sequel made 28 years after the original but with the same actor, is true to the first film: It also can't be understood, but looks great." It get a 50% score at Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

Another 42

I was walkin' home the other day and saw another 42:


That's 2 I've seen. The first one was here.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sabata

Sabata is a 1969 Lee Van Cleef spaghetti western, and we always love Lee Van Cleef. The last time I was in Spin Street The Younger Son found the Sabata trilogy set for less than Sabata alone usually costs, so I picked it up. We watched the first one soon after, because it's Lee Van Cleef!

You can watch it online at metacafe:


DVD Talk says, "The Sabata films are acceptable Spaghetti thrillers that never approach the quality of the Leone films." Fistful of Pasta says, "If you're looking for a concoction of tongue-in-cheek humor and violent action, Sabata may well be the movie you're looking for: they don't get much better than this." One SpaghettiWestern.net reviewer opens with this:
Every now and again something comes along that has no business being wonderful but somehow or other manages to do it with seeming effortlessness. Sabata is a prime example of such an entity.
Another reviewer at SpaghettiWestern.net concludes:
Sabata is one of my personal favorite Spaghetti Westerns because it is filled with really interesting and colorful characters and I think Parolini's twists on this already offbeat genre are fresh and fun. Composer Marcello Giamibini's score for Sabata is no doubt influenced by Morricone's work, but it still has a unique flavor that genre fans will appreciate.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pita Cafe


I pass by this little place all the time and finally decided to go in for supper. The Pita Cafe gets rave reviews online. There's a menu on their Facebook Page.

The proprietor asked if it was our first time and, when we said "yes," recommended -among 2 or 3 possibilities- the #4 Chicken Shawarma Wrap. I picked that. He insisted I try 2 bites before paying just to make sure I liked it, but as I watched him put it together I knew I'd enjoy my meal:

It was wonderful but was too big to eat by myself, so I saved half of it to give to The Daughter when she got home from work. The Younger Son came along and drank some water but doesn't like eating before fencing, so he passed on the food.

The Poor Husband is not a trusting or adventurous eater. The restaurant's owner teased him mercilessly for his choice of plain ol' philly steak and cheese, making it obvious he didn't want to fix it and said he wanted to steer us away from American food. American food is about all The Husband will eat, though, so he stood firm on his boring order. We sat at a little red picnic table in front and watched the traffic while we ate.

The Husband won't be much interested in a return trip, but this would be a great place for me to take The Daughter. Maybe I'll have the gyro next time.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Legion

Legion is a 2010 apocalyptic film about the Archangel Michael's campaign to save an unborn child from the destruction ordained by God. This is a fun enough Dennis Quaid film, but I won't be watching it again any time soon.

trailer:


Moria gives it a lowly 1-star rating. FilmJournal.com calls it "a ridiculous piece of hokum that is far more fun than it has a right to be." Rotten Tomatoes gives it 20%. It gets 32 out of 100 at Metacritic.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Brotherhood of the Wolf

Brotherhood of the Wolf is a 2001 French film based on true events surrounding the Beast of Gévaudan. The Younger Son had previously seen a theatrical release version of the film; this was the extended director's cut. He couldn't remember his former viewing well enough to notice what had been added. My guess: lots of full frontal female nudity.

trailer:


Moria calls it "a bizarre oddity". Slate says, "You have to admire a movie that endeavors to moosh together every successful cross-cultural action picture ever made" and
the last hour of Brotherhood of the Wolf attains the kind of superconcentrated, out-for-vengeance intensity that leaves you feeling kicked in the head—which isn't the worst thing you can say about this sort of flick.
Salon.com heads its review with this:
"Dangerous Liaisons" meets "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" in this profoundly insane French horror movie. Plus: Native American kung fu!
Roger Ebert likes it and closes with this
The one thing you don't want to do is take this movie seriously. Because it's so good-looking, there may be a temptation to think it wants to be high-toned, but no: Its heart is in the horror-monster-sex-fantasy-special effects tradition. "The Beast has a master," Fronsac says. "I want him." That's the spirit.
It has a score of 72% at Rotten Tomatoes. Metacritic gives it 57 out of 100.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tops BBQ



Tops BBQ is a favorite around here. For Memorial Day, we got bar-b-que from the location pictured above, which isn't far from where I grew up. We got bbq sandwiches, slaw, sauce, potato salad, beans and chips. The Younger Son loves their hamburgers. Sometimes we eat out on their patio, but most of the time we bring it back here and eat at home. We ate at home this time. I had offered to pack it up and take the party to The Grandmother's place, but she acted so weird about the thought of "all that food" I decided against it.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

The Chronicles of Narnia movies

I hadn't been looking forward to seeing the next 2 in this trilogy, but I enjoyed the first one, so... I did like these. I had such fond memories of the BBC take on these stories that it was hard for me to really adopt these new ones, but this version is well-done and as true to the books as one could hope.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (#2 in the series), and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (#3) are beautiful to watch.

Prince Caspian trailer:


Dawn Treader trailer:


We would love to have a painting of a Narnian ship.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Lucchesi's


The Husband and I went by Lucchesi's on the way home from the eye doctor where I'd had my eyes well and truly dilated. We had never been to this little place on Sanderlin before, but I'd been wanting to stop in because it's #7 on the I Love Memphis blog list of 365 things to do in Memphis. We got the meat ravioli with meat sauce and a loaf of bread. It was wonderful. And it's located close to us. Certainly a place to go back to. Next time I want to eat there, maybe at one of those little tables out front even though they have nice seating inside.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Kitty Belly



You may not consider the creature in the above photo to be dangerous, but do not be deceived by the beauty or by the softness of the fur. No. This is a carefully constructed trap. She acts all filled with cuteness, and then when you reach out to touch that furry belly all her pointy bits come out and get you. My advice? Wait until she actually comes over to you. And never, no never, touch the kitty belly.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Patience of the Spider


The Patience of the Spider is the 8th book in Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano detective series. I've liked them all so far. I had the mystery part of this figured out early on, but it's still a worthwhile read.

from the back of the book:
Still recovering from his gunshot wound, Inspector Montalbano is feeling the weight of his years, and of his solitude. He's getting softer, more introspective, and critical of his life choices. But if withdrawing from society has become natural of late, he'll soon be forced to interact with others, compelled to intervene as a web of hatred and secrets threaten to squeeze its victims to death. This is Montalbano's most unusual and challenging case yet - and the one that will either change him or break him.

Eurocrime has 2 reviews, one of which says, "It is always a joy to spend time with Montalbano and his colleagues and THE PATIENCE OF THE SPIDER is no exception" and the other of which closes with this: "I recommend it, as I do all his books, but it's not the most well-rounded of the series". Kirkus Reviews says, "Camilleri’s character study deepens with every installment; his ironic eye is as sharp as ever."

I've also read these:
1. The Shape of Water
2. The Terra-Cotta Dog
3. The Snack Thief
4. Voice of the Violin
5. Excursion to Tindari
6. The Smell of Night
7. Rounding the Mark
9. The Paper Moon
10. August Heat
11. The Wings of the Sphinx
12. The Track of Sand

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Dark Portals: The Chronicles of Vidocq

Dark Portals: The Chronicles of Vidocq is a 2001 film directed by Pitof and starring Gerard Depardieu. The character Vidocq is based on an actual person who lived in the late 1700s to mid-1800s. We listened to it in the English dubbing, which I think was a mistake. We enjoyed this little adventure.

trailer:


Moria describes it as "an extravagant dark fantasy film from France" and says it "feels like the filmed equivalent of a graphic novel".

Monday, June 04, 2012

Murder in the Marais


Murder in the Marais is the first in a mystery series by Cara Black featuring private investigator Aimée Léduc. This one is filled with Nazis -Nazi war criminals living under assumed identities, Nazi collaborators, neo-Nazis... I'm not a fan of literature about Nazis and only read this one because I was looking for something a bit different in a mystery and the Paris setting and the fact that it was first in a series appealed to me. Reading more in the series doesn't appeal to me.

Aimée Léduc has a bichon frise puppy named Miles Davis, a partner who is a dwarf and a father who died serving in the Paris police force.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Paprika

Paprika is a 2006 animated film directed by Satoshi Kon. It's won all kinds of awards, and I had been looking forward to seeing it, but I fell asleep during it and drifted in and out.

trailer:


Moria calls it "Satoshi Kon’s most beautifully animated film" but thinks "In truth, the ideas that Paprika has are old hat." Slant Magazine gives it 3 out of 4 stars. DVD Talk says, "Its experience gets deeper upon reflection and there are numerous moments that will linger in your memory for months to come" and calls it "truly inspiring entertainment". EW gives it an A-. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 83%. Metacritic gives it 81%.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Pandorum

Pandorum is a 2009 science fiction film starring Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster. Christian Alvart directs. We liked this one. The Husband said the degree of violence was manageable for him. The Younger Son and I were pleased with the lack of intrusive, gaping plot holes. (We've got questions about those monsters, but...) This was enjoyable, and reminded us a bit of various generation ship concepts we've come across in books.

trailer:


Moria says, "The use of science-fiction tropes proves to be intelligent rather than stupid or cliched." EW gives it a C+ and asks, "how brazenly can one film rip off Alien, I Am Legend, and, somewhat oddly, The Poseidon Adventure?" Combustible Celluloid gives it 3 out of 4 stars and calls it "an intensely effective sci-fi chiller". Time Out gives it 2 out of 5 stars and says, "the dystopian premise is deftly set up, while the denouement pulls off not one but two neat twists." It's got a 27% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Metacritic gives it 28 out of 100.