Of Blogathons and Linodes

For at least the last year, blogathons have kept The Stop Button going. I was aiming for a Stop Button post every other day in 2019. 183 posts total for the year. For Stop Button. The only “theme” the posts would have is lots of them would be blogathon posts. Because blogathons take the hard work out of figuring out what to watch. I keep meaning to do a blogathon directory for Stop Button but it’s a lot of work. However, I am rather grateful blogathons aren’t just still a thing but also the quality of said blogathons. The bloggers putting them on have been de facto programming my movie watching (and blogging) for a couple years or whatever. The least I owe is a nice directory of blogathon posts.

Maybe after… I don’t know, after something.

The previous paragraph is just preamble to talk about actually programming The Stop Button again for the first time in recent memory. I used to maintain this endless watch list, which eventually ended up in Google Sheets because there were various calculations going on trying to randomize selections but with some intentional weighing. I’m not doing the spreadsheet thing again.

I am, however, using a tech-fueled system to program.

I’ve been trying to get a Linode going for at least a year. I could look and see when I first tried to get a WordPress install up and going, but it still bothers me I couldn’t figure it out. Just way too much work. Maybe not if I knew how to get a domain up and going in 2019 (or 2018) but I don’t and learning how wasn’t going to happen. There’s also the problem of Linode’s help files either being out of date or not seeming aware of the contents of the other help files they link. What was supposed to be simple turned into a major headache. So no Linode WordPress.

I did, however, manage to get a Mediawiki up and running and I manage my watch list with it. So yay, I finally set up my own Linode. Though still not with a working domain name but—again—it’s not worth the trouble.

It’s also not a public website so it’s fine.

I am now ready to program The Stop Button again on my own. Only I still have a bunch of outstanding blogathons to participate in so The Stop Button won’t officially start the new programming schedule until September. I’m also waiting on a few things before I select the first titles. Also not sure how I’m going to talk about those. But progress. Real, visible progress has been made. Albeit only in managing a watch list.

Which reminds me: I need to backup that watch list.

Linode makes it real easy too. Two buttons to click and two dollars a month, which doesn’t even eat into my credit balance because there was a Linode promotion running on “Core Intuition” when I signed up. Now Linode advertises on almost all the podcasts I follow.

Anyway. Success. And love to the blogathon bloggers, who’ll get that directory… someday.

Probably after September.

I really wish I could get a Patreon going to justify taking time off to blog, which ought to be too much of a shameful confession to make but whatever.

Blogging changes

I’m trying something new at Visual Reflux, which has been neglected. And since I’ve been cross-posting from VR to Comics Fondle, Comics Fondle has been neglected. Stop Button I’ve kept up on. Mostly. But Visual Reflux as a new primary site has been a bust. I spent most of my blogging time this year doing Stop Button, which I wanted to keep active but ended up focusing on once again. Even without much of a programming philosophy, I focused on it. Though some of it was doing so many blogathons I never could get started writing about TV, which was theoretically what 2019 blogging was going to be all about.

When I started Visual Reflux earlier this year I wanted to go with self-hosted WordPress, to get into the geekery of blogging again, which has been very disappointing. Primarily because I had wanted to set it up on Linode, then kept failing and finally giving up.

Spoiler: Visual Reflux is going to WordPress.com real soon. I can’t with this… it’s 2019.

And the second half of 2019 is going to be a lot, blogging-wise, even though it’s not going to be a lot of blogging. It’ll probably be about the same amount between the three blogs–VR, Comics Fondle, Stop Button. Or at least not so heavily focused on Stop Button everything else suffers. The plan as of right now is to use Visual Reflux for everything not comics or movies. TV posts, Summing Up category posts—these colloquial ones—music posts, which might happen. And whatever else isn’t comics or movies. Except the new capsule reviews I’m doing at Stop Button. Those are going to get crossposted to VR on a post-by-post basis, not weekly or something. So I’m going to have to check the format for really short posts on those ones.

And Comics Fondle is finally going to get a site overhaul. Not sure I’m going to go into all the categories and tags but there’s going to be some browsing. It’ll get a whole new theme, which VR might get too.

Stop Button is going to have a programming schedule (of sorts). I’ll write about it on its own.

Planned posts is going to be a thing for Visual Reflux. Next post will be about The Stop Button. How blogathons kept me interested in film enough to keep the blog going while not having any interest in picking what movies I watched and wrote about. Then a post about what the new Stop Button schedule is going to be like and be. It’s a very, very low bar constraint-wise. But it’s what I got.

Then an aside about Linode.

Then a post about refreshing Comics Fondle, maybe written as I do it just to get me to both do the refresh and the post.

Then I don’t know what. A conclusion and recap maybe?

But right now sleep.

Capsule movie reviews to date

Lights Out (2016, Savannah Bloch)
Not Recommended
Well-made (particularly well-photographed by Cooper Ulrich) but ultimately pointless short about young mother Alixzandra Dove dealing with a naughty toddler who doesn’t want to go to bed. Dove’s okay, director Bloch’s okay; the writing does it in.
DVD, Streaming
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Henry Fool (1997, Hal Hartley)
★★★½
Obnoxious jerk Thomas Jay Ryan befriends (and exploits) introvert garbageman/unknown great American poet James Urbaniak, seducing his sister (a spectacular Parker Posey) but encouraging his writing. Very long, very difficult. The last act is truly phenomenal stuff.
DVD, Blu-ray.
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It Came from Outer Space (1953, Jack Arnold)
★½
Richard Carlson and Barbara Rush see a spaceship crash and can’t get anyone to believe them until it’s too late and the aliens start messing with the townsfolk. Arnold’s got a few big directing missteps (he races through every scene and doesn’t know how to compose shots on his sets). Simultaneously too short (at eighty minutes) and too long. Ray Bradbury wrote the original story treatment.
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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It Happens Every Spring (1949, Lloyd Bacon)
★½
Ray Milland’s a college professor with a science-powered baseball who becomes a star pitcher. Paul Douglas is his catcher, Jean Peters is his girlfriend. Great performance from Douglas and some good writing can’t save the dull film. Milland’s disinterested and charmless, Peters is good but not in it enough to matter.
DVD, Streaming.
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The Killers (1946, Robert Siodmak)
★★½
Okay but overlong noir has insurance investigator Edmond O’Brien sure there’s more to his claim involving Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, and Albert Dekker. Flashbacks galore don’t add up to a good character arc for anyone involved. Ostensibly based on the Hemingway short story, but not really.
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Perry Mason: The Case of the Sinister Spirit (1987, Richard Lang)

Satisfactory PERRY MASON TV movie has Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale, and William Katt in a haunted hotel. Perry (Burr) has to defend old pal Robert Stack (who phones it in). Actually good Kim Delaney figures into the suspect pool, along with annoyingly awful Dwight Schultz. Burr gets a lot to do but Hale doesn’t. An otherwise amiable Katt’s comes off bored with his Delaney flirtation. Rocky in parts, but goodwill (and Delaney) carry it.
DVD.
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King Kong Escapes (1967, Honda Ishirô)

Charming Toho (paired with Rankin-Bass) KING KONG features a lot of homage to the original, great villains, appealing romantic leads (albeit chaste ones because 1967 and interracial romance), and an excellent fight scenes. Drawbacks include bland white guy lead Rhodes Reason and the King Kong suit. Also Ifukube Akira’s self-derivative score (reusing classic GODZILLA themes) though it too eventually is charming-ish. Goofy, but all right.
None.
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Paris Blues (1961, Martin Ritt)
★★
Joanne Woodward and Diahann Carroll are American tourists in Paris who meet expat jazz musicians Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier. They pair off on color lines (a change from the source novel, where Newman’s character romances Carroll’s); the men grapple with possibly returning to the States with their new ladies while still trying to hit it big. Bad script and often inert direction from Ritt does it in. A real missed opportunity; wastes the cast.
DVD, Blu-ray.
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The Incredible Hulk (2008, Louis Leterrier), the extended version
★★

Fan-made extended version–putting in deleted scenes to flesh things out to star and uncredited co-writer Edward Norton’s original intent–suffers from most of the theatrical version’s problems, but does give Norton a much better arc before he bows out to let the CG take over. Some great stuff for him and love interest Liv Tyler. It’s sad the film won’t ever get an official revision, as fan attempts show potential incredibleness. The CG end’s still bunk.
None.
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🍿
Irreversible (2012, David Levinson)
Not Recommended

Short film with a reverse order narrative gimmick and nothing else. The story–about asshole Timothy Paul Driscoll dumping girlfriend Alice Hunter–is terrible. Writer/director Levinson seems utterly unaware his protagonist’s loathsome.
Streaming.
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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005, Shane Black)
★★★
Black comedy about thief Robert Downey Jr. masquerading as an actor and getting wrapped up in a noir-ish L.A. conspiracy. Val Kilmer’s sort of the hard-boiled P.I., Michelle Monaghan’s sort of the femme fatale. Great performance from Downey and phenomenally constructed script from director Black enable the whole thing. Kilmer and Monaghan are both excellent as well. The film takes itself a little too seriously (and Black’s got some willfully unpleasant tangents in addition to his insightful genre deconstruction).
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Japón (2002, Carlos Reygadas)
ⓏⒺⓇⓄ
Suicidal Alejandro Ferretis–he’s got a bad leg–travels to a rural area to do the deed, then meets an older woman (Magdalena Flores) and decides life’s worth living so long as she gets jiggy with him. Pretentious, self-indulgent, long. So long. Reygadas’s uneven direction is at least better than the script; the all-amateur cast is far from impressive.
DVD, Blu-ray.
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Joint Security Area (2000, Park Chan-wook)
ⓏⒺⓇⓄ
Ineptly executed decent idea–soldiers on either side of the Korean border becoming pals and how wrong things go. Park sentimentalizes more than directs. Some of the acting makes it bearable, though far from all of it.
DVD.
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L.A. Confidential (1997, Curtis Hanson)
★½
Middling (at best), “handsome,” Oscar-bait adaptation of James Ellroy corrupt cops novel set in early fifties L.A.. Good performance from Russell Crowe and a great one from Kevin Spacey can’t make up for ineffective lead Guy Pearce, risibily bad Kim Basinger turn as femme fatale, or director Hanson and Brian Helgeland’s disjointed script. It also underuses David Straithairn, which ought to be a crime.
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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The Lower Depths (1936, Jean Renoir)
★★½
Problematic, reductive adaptation of Maxim Gorky play about residents of Russian flophouse and their successes and failures trying to get out of poverty. Great performances from Jean Gabin and Louis Jouvet, but director Renoir loses track of the film when away from them.
DVD.
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The Man in the Iron Mask (1998, Randall Wallace)
★★
Fun adventure has Leonardo DiCaprio as twins–one good, one bad–but really it’s just an excuse to do OLD MAN THREE MUSKETEERS with Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, and Gerard Depardieu (Gabriel Byrne’s fourth wheel D’Artagnan). Excellent performances from the Musketeers–with Irons and Malkovich always erring on the right side of ham–and Byrne’s got some good moments. DiCaprio’s okay enough; it helps he’s not in the movie very much.
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Matewan (1987, John Sayles)
★½
Strangely simplistic take on a 1920s West Virginia coal miners work stoppage. The film’s jumbo scale gets away from director Sayles in the script so he relies way too heavily on caricature. Great performances from Chris Cooper, Mary McDonnell, and David Strathairn. Very disappointing.
DVD.
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The Missouri Breaks (1976, Arthur Penn)
★★★★
Singular Western pits rustler-turned-farmer Jack Nicholson against mercenary Marlon Brando. Exceptional on most fronts, including Penn’s direction, Nicholson’s performance, and the John Williams score. Brando’s good too, he’s just not Nicholson.
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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My Name is Nobody (1973, Tonino Valerii)
★★½
Fun but creatively lazy comedy Western about aging lawman Henry Fonda teaming up with amateur gunslinger Terence Hill to take on “The Wild Bunch.” Sergio Leone came up with the story, produced the picture in some uncredited but important capacity, and even directed some scenes. Or just one. He can’t doesn’t save it. In addition to the wonky narrative, the film gets way too preachy about the end of the Old West.
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Night Moves (1975, Arthur Penn)
★★★★
Superlative mystery drama about L.A. private investigator Gene Hackman going to Florida on a case (to avoid his crumbling marriage to Susan Clark) and getting mixed up with stunt men, smuggling, and Jennifer Warren. Young Melanie Griffith is the missing person in the initial case. Exceptional performances from Hackman and Warren. Clark’s real good too. Penn’s direction and Alan Sharp’s script are both phenomenal. There’s nothing else like it; one of the best American films of the 1970s.
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Olga’s Chignon (2002, Jérôme Bonnell)
★★★½
Patient, deliberate drama about a family coping with the mother’s death. Only the wrap-up is uneven; an excellent debut from writer-director Bonnell.
DVD.
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Over the Rainbow (2002, Ahn Jin-woo)
★★½
Romantic drama about a weather guy (Lee Jung-jae) trying to rediscover his past after a car accident leaves him with partial amnesia. Part of that rediscovery involves old friend (Jang Jin-young). Good performances from Lee and Jang–an outstanding one from Jang–make up for the third act problems and some general confusion involving the film’s extensive flashbacks.
DVD (R3).
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The Philadelphia Story (1940, George Cukor)
★★½
Just okay class comedy gets by on Cary Grant’s considerable charm as he tries to win ex-wife Katharine Hepburn back before she gets married again. Thin characters and stagy adaptation limit Hepburn most (Jimmy Stewart’s manifestly miscast). The rushed finish doesn’t help things either. Some nice direction from Cukor, though never in the pacing.
DVD (R3).
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Safety Last! (1923, Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor)
★★★½
Outstanding comedy has Lloyd going from store clerk to “Human Fly” as he tries to make it in New York City. Superb physical antics from Harold Lloyd; the film ends with his breathtaking attempt to scale as twelve-story building. Also a very accessible silent film for newbies
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Sea of Love (1989, Harold Becker)
★★★★
Beautifully written (by Richard Price) mystery has Al Pacino as a bachelor cop who tries to catch a killer who picks his victims through a dating service. Ellen Barkin is the date who becomes more than part of the job. Phenomenal performances from Pacino, Barkin, and John Goodman; great use of the New York City locations.
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Caught in a Ham (2019, Miguel Jiron)
Not Recommended
Initially amusing, highly derivative (but in a homage-y sense) spin-off of a SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE character (Spider-Ham–an anthropomorphic “funny animal” Spider-Man variant) unfortunately serves as a prequel to that movie instead of a vehicle for Spider-Ham.
DVD, Blu-ray.
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The Shadow (1994, Russell Mulcahy)


★★★

After a silly opening, this 1930s-set adaptation of the 1930s pulp vigilante gets real good, real fast. Masterful script (from David Koepp), great cast (save Jonathan Winters), and some strong direction from Mulcahy. Lovebirds Alec Baldwin and Penelope Ann Miller have plenty of chemistry, as do Baldwin and nemesis John Lone.
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Sling Blade (1996, Billy Bob Thornton), the director’s cut
★½
Sometimes lovely film about developmentally disabled Thornton (who stars, writes, directs) getting out of the mental hospital he’s been in since killing his mother and her lover as a child. He soon bonds with 12-year old Lucas Black, who’s experiencing his own traumas. Way too long, way too many montages. Embarrasing-to-the-production bad performance from Dwight Yoakam. Daniel Lanois’s music is almost as bad. Otherwise, well-acted and well-executed.
DVD.
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Sneakers (1992, Phil Alden Robinson)
★★★
Delightful comedic thriller has Robert Redford leading a group of high tech security experts who run afoul of Redford’s old hippie pal/nemesis Ben Kingsley. Great performances throughout (from an awesome, varied supporting cast), wonderful direction from Robinson, and a lovely, playful James Horner score. 126 minutes of expertly executed fun.
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Speak (2004, Jessica Sharzer)
★★½
Pretty good young adult novel adaptation with a great performance from Kristen Stewart and some strong direction from Sharzer. The short running time hurts it.
DVD, Streaming.
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The Spies (1957, Henri-Georges Clouzot)
★★★½
Gérard Séty runs a failing psychiatric hospital and agrees to hide mysterious Curd Jürgens (for a fee). The hospital is then overrun by spies from both East and West, complicating things. All the acting is good; Séty is excellent. Very complex script, superiorly navigated by Clouzot’s direction.
DVD (R2).
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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982, Nicholas Meyer), the director’s edition
★★★★
Layered, complex TREK outing has William Shatner and company dealing with aging in the 23rd century, but also with Ricardo Montalban returning (from the original show) and going after the good guys. Beautifully produced, with fantastic direction, and a gorgeous James Horner score. Excellent acting from pretty much everyone.
DVD, Blu-ray.
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Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984, Leonard Nimoy)
★★½
Well-made but problematically scripted sequel has William Shatner and the gang galavanting across the galaxy to try to resurrect a fallen comrade. Along the way, the Klingons (led by an enthusiastic but underwhelming Christopher Lloyd) go after Shatner’s kid (Merritt Butrick, back from II) and Robin Curtis (taking over from II’s Kirstie Alley). It’s a messy narrative. Great direction from Nimoy though. And some nice work from the cast, particularly DeForest Kelley.
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Superman II (1980, Richard Lester), the restored international cut

Fan attempt to recreate foreign television version, which includes multiple scenes directed by original SUPERMAN director Richard Donner (the films were initially shot back-to-back). There are wildly different tones, including Lester–presumably–doing sequences laughing at people in disaster scenes. The version does offer some good Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) and Jimmy Olsen (Marc McClure) interaction (the only in the series) along with fleshing out of the Lois and Clark romance. But it doesn’t fix any of the narrative’s outstanding problems. The original R.I.C. was traded online until Warner Bros. shut it down–after corporate sibling “Entertainment Weekly” did an article praising the fan effort–so no home video availability.

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Love Exists (1960, Maurice Pialat)
Highly Recommended
Director Pialat’s “tour” of Parisian suburbia, with Jean-Loup Reynold voicing the first-person narration. Covers Pialat’s childhood, the socioeconomic realities of the present, and some other features as well. Beautifully shot in black and white by Gilbert Sarthre. Superior twenty minutes. None.
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They’re a Weird Mob (1966, Michael Powell)

Rather bad comedy about Italian immigrant Walter Chiari moving to Australia. The acting is actually fine, it’s the script (by director Powell’s long-time partner Emeric Pressburger–under a pseudonym). May have been responsible for kicking off the Australian film industry? But otherwise, a big stinker.
DVD (R4).
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Thieves Like Us (1974, Robert Altman)
★★★★
Wonderful gem of a movie romance (between Keith Carradine and Shelley Duvall) amid a 1930s-set crime drama. Will Carradine pick a life of bank robbing or listen to Duvall and go straight. Great performances from all involved and Altman’s direction excels in the setting. Screenplay by Calder Willingham, Joan Tewkesbury and Altman.
DVD, Blu-ray.
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36 Quai des Orfèvres (2004, Olivier Marchal)
★½
Sometimes quite good cop movie about good cop Daniel Auteuil and good-but-complicated cop Gérard Depardieu jockeying for the same promotion and both becoming morally compromised (or worse). Loses its footing more and more as things progress. Auteuil’s good, Depardieu’s awesome, but they can’t save the film from director Marchal or the script.
DVD.
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The Three Musketeers (1993, Stephen Herek)
ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

Graphically violent–but still PG–Disney adaptation boasts a shockingly good performance from Charlie Sheen, an appealing one from Oliver Platt, and a good villain turn from Michael Wincott but it’s otherwise fairly dreadful. Bad direction and a bad script (from David Loughery); awful performance from Chris O’Donnell (as D’Artagnan). Kiefer Sutherland tries and fails. Tim Curry’s a caricature of himself. It’s the pits.
DVD, Streaming.
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Tremors (1990, Ron Underwood)
★★★
Isolated desert town–full of lovable goofballs (led by handymen Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward)–has to contend with giant killer worm monsters. Great acting (Gross’s survivalist redefined the actor), wonderfully paced script, excellent special effects. It’s loads of fun.
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Triple Cross (1966, Terence Young)
★★
WWII espionage thriller has English thief Christopher Plummer convincing German captors wants to spy for them so he can go back to the UK and become a double agent for the British. Good performances compensate for a shallow script and medicore direction from Young.
DVD, Streaming.
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The Twilight Samurai (2002, Yamada Yôji)
★½
Widowed samurai Sanada Hiroyuki has given up the warrior life to take care of his kids. Then childhood love Miyazawa Rie comes to town and things start changing. Good performances–especially from Sanada–but the narrative’s disjointed and suffers from a constant lack of focus
DVD, Blu-ray.
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Turn (2001, Hirayama Hideyuki)

A young woman (Makise Riho) gets in a car accident and, when she wakes up, finds she’s the only person in an otherwise empty world. Or is she? Oh, she also repeats the same day over and over again. Likable performances, but the film concentrates way too hard on its fantastic situation and not its characters.
DVD (R2).
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28 Days Later (2002, Danny Boyle)
★★★★
Cillian Murphy wakes up from a coma to discover the world overrun by zombies and has to try to survive. Not just from the zombies, but also from the military. Visually stunning, with Boyle shooting on DV; great script by Alex Garland; excellent performances. Murphy makes an outstanding Everyman. The film has at least one alternate ending version; rating is for whatever is on the U.S. DVD release.
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Versus (2000, Kitamura Ryuhei)

Technically magnificent action/horror picture has Sakaguchi Tak fighting zombies with a samurai sword while wearing an ultra cool black leather trenchcoat. The writing is always iffy, but Kitamura’s direction tends to compensate enough.
DVD, Streaming.
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Volcano (1997, Mick Jackson)

Nicely paced disaster movie about a volcano growing out the La Brea Tar Pits. Anne Heche is the scientist, Tommy Lee Jones is the city guy, Gaby Hoffman’s his daughter. It’s occasionally annoying, with bad dialogue, but the cast is great. Heche and Don Cheadle are outstanding; Jones is fine. The film takes itself just seriously enough, which is not much.
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005, Nick Park and Steve Box)
★★★½
First and only full-length theatrical outing for director Park and his clay animated creations Wallace and Gromit. It’s a great expansion of the duo’s adventures, but one is kind of okay. The clay animation and writing are exceptional work, as always, from Park and company.
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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White Dog (1982, Samuel Fuller)
★★★½
Somewhat infamous film–studio Paramount shelved it before release due to controversy about the subject (cutesy star Kristy MacNichol adopts an awesome new dog, only to discover he’s been trained to attack Black people) and director Fuller stole a print and bounced to Europe to get it released somewhere at least. The film runs short, leaving a few too many plot threads untied, but it’s real good. It’s deliberative and thoughtful, nicely directed by Fuller, with strong performances from the four principals. Nice to see Paul Winfield lead a movie. Finally available officially, on DVD and Blu-ray (but from Criterion, not Paramount).

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White Nights (1985, Taylor Hackford)
★★½
Not entirely ludicrous tale of defector ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov (played by defector ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov) crash-landing in the Soviet Union and being forced into a cover-up involving Vietnam-era, tap dancing defector Gregory Hines. Phenomenal dance sequences occasionally get a little long (with Baryshnikov the more impressive). But Hines’s performance is easily the best. The Lionel Ritchie Oscar-winning song is a little much.
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Perry Mason: The Case of the Lethal Lesson (1989, Christian I. Nyby II)
ⓏⒺⓇⓄ
Quintessential middling TV movie has Mason (Raymond Burr) teaching law school and his star pupil (William R. Moses, ingloriously replacing William Katt as the series’ blond P.I.) falsely accused of murder. Way too little Burr (he’s good when he’s around), way, way too little Barbara Hale. Moses’s arc involves his rich girl-poor boy romance with boundlessly annoying Alexandra Paul. They’ve got zero chemistry, which is mostly Moses’s fault though the direction and script are also weak. But, hey, could be worse. Followed by THE CASE OF THE MUSICAL MURDER.
DVD.
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Perry Mason: The Case of the Lady in the Lake (1988, Ron Satlof)
ⓏⒺⓇⓄ
Poorly written, poorly directed PERRY MASON entry has Raymond Burr defending David Hasselhoff, which ought to have some kind of absurd value but doesn’t. Burr’s great (in lousy courtroom scenes), Hasselhoff’s atrocious (worse, it’s a try and fail not a don’t try and fail). Okay support from regulars Barbara Hale and William Katt. Hale’s not in it enough; it’s Katt’s last PERRY MASON. Great performance from Audra Lindley in the guest stars; pretty much everyone else is lousy. Though David Ogden Stiers has some good moments. Title’s way too long too. Followed by THE CASE OF THE LETHAL LESSON.
DVD.
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The MacKintosh Man (1973, John Huston)
ⓏⒺⓇⓄ
A miscast Paul Newman (he’s a British spy posing as an Australian for a bunch of the movie) tries to take down corrupt politician James Mason. Huston’s direction dilly-dallies and lolly-gags when it’s not dawdling. The script (credited solely to Walter Hill, who swears it’s not his fault) is bad. Newman having zero chemistry with female lead Dominique Sanda doesn’t help either. And the Maurice Jarre music is too slight. An unfortunate misfire, especially given those involved.
DVD, Streaming.
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Encore (1951, Pat Jackson, Anthony Pelissier, and Harold French)
★★★
Last (after QUARTET and TRIO) and most successful entry in trilogy of anthologies of W. Somerset Maugham adaptations. Three stories, all of them well-directed, at least one of them well-written, and all of them rather well-acted even when the writing’s not there. Great performances from Nigel Patrick, Roland Culver, Glynis Johns, and others. Maugham pointlessly and charmlessly introduces each story, which sometimes gets things off on the wrong foot.
DVD (R2), Streaming.
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Godzilla, King of Monsters! (1956, Terry O. Morse and Honda Ishirô)
ⓏⒺⓇⓄ
Unfortunate Americanization of the original Japanese GODZILLA adds dubbing and Raymond Burr to the story of a nuclear-powered monster destroying Japan. The whole atom bomb metaphor gets shucked; the script is bad, the shoehorning of Burr is bad (in writing, performance, and direction). See the original. Skip this one. Even if you have nostalgia.
DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Trio (1950, Ken Annakin and Harold French)
★★
Second (after QUARTET) in a trilogy of anthologies adapting W. Somerset Maugham short stories has good acting, okay writing, and some excellent direction (from Annakin not French) but just doesn’t quite work out due to its lopsided attentions. Maugham introduces the stories, sometimes getting cut off mid-sentence, which is sort of funny, sort of not. Followed by ENCORE.
DVD (R2), Streaming.
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Frankenstein Unbound (1990, Roger Corman)
★★½
After destroying the future trying to save the environment, scientist John Hurt goes into the past where he finds the events of Frankenstein (the novel) unfolding around him, with Mary Shelley (Bridget Fonda) witnessing Dr. Frankenstein’s descent into madness. Raul Julia’s an amazing Frankenstein, Nick Brimble’s an amazing monster. Hurt’s a tad passive but very affable. He and Fonda sell their May-December romance. Nice direction, excellent music, lovely Italian locations, good special effects. Based on a Brian Aldiss novel.
DVD.
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Fine Jetpacks

Visual Reflux had some down time this weekend. Not relaxation time but server out time. It’s been a while since I’ve had a blog with a server in despair. WordPress.com is real stable. It’s frustratingly limited but it’s real stable. I’m basically running VR self-hosted just to see if it matters at all. So far it doesn’t. I’ve done some CSS tweaks but it’s not like I’m willing to put in the rest of the work on google ads or even google analytics. The far less informative JetPacks are fine.

I’m really behind on my daily posts, but since I’ve given myself the makeup post later on, it’s not a stresser. VR is all about stress-free blogging. Lots of it, but without pressure. Letting blogging pressure was always one of my big problems over the years and I wasn’t even considering it Serious writing. And it’s nowhere near as serious as I used to be but I also needed to chill the fuck out on some stuff.

VR is supposed to be more balanced.

We’ll see tomorrow with the Eltingville Club and the Stop Button link post.

All Hail the King, Baby, All Hail the King

 

“From thy wedding with the creature who touches heaven, lady God preserve thee.”


When I first came across the “One That Started It All Blogathon,” I avoided it. If you look at the left sidebar at Stop Button, you can see I don’t avoid many blogathons. I only don’t do a blogathon (these days) if the blogger running it is problematic or if there’s just no way I’m going to write in the format. I post movie responses. Single movie responses. But, very slowly, I’ve been branching out.

And this year I’m apparently going to do a bunch of different things, including look at Star Trek II’s music (just the music) and talk about Josh Hartnett in O. 2019 is the year of not giving a shit when it comes to blog subjects.

I dwelt on doing the “One That Started It All” blogathon because it seems like I should be able to identify the film most influential to me. Even if I’m going to say something like Wild River, which I didn’t see until I was about twenty. Or Play Time. Play Time would be a good one. Grand Illusion. Kane’s not unthinkable.

So I kicked it around in my head, even toying with the idea of doing Ben-Hur because it was a movie I heard about as a kid (from my mom) but have no memory of seeing in its entirety.

Then I got to Kong and it was perfect and so I set about writing the post. After signing up for the blogathon.

I wrote four and a quarter drafts of the Kong post. On incredibly rare occasions, I’ll write two drafts of a movie post. I’ve never pitched a longer essay—well, wait, I rewrote the Superman franchise post, but those changes were about form—and there was some file-saving disaster the first time I tried doing the Carpenter retrospect. But going back and rewriting from scratch for Stop Button. Not my thing. But I found myself working out the post through writing it.

And now I’ve got a bunch of variations on the post, written over a two week period; I’m curious how they’re different, from a statistical standpoint.

Besides the obvious length-related differences—the post is about twice as long as any of the previous drafts, which all clocked in around 1,200 words—apparently my writing is about the same. Thirteen to fifteen words per sentence, eighty-five percent monosyllabic words. The first two drafts were, according to the Automated Readability Index, sixth grade level; the third draft and the posted one are fifth. For students from 1967.

Dale Chall says it’s an 11th to 12th grade level, which is higher than I’d like. Flesh-Kincaid says you could read it at twelve. I was twelve in 1990. I’m not sure I would’ve cared about someone’s summarized King Kong memoir. I think the Dale Chall is comprehension, but all those tests are going on syllables and word length and whatnot.

I used to freak out about not writing at a high enough grade level and then I ran some Hemingway through the readability calculators and stopped worrying.

An almost ten page King Kong ’33 piece. I’m all right with how it turned out, which is good. I really didn’t think I would be so pleased. I hated the second and third drafts. I hoped but didn’t think there’d be some clue as to why in the syllable count or something but no. Can’t readability analyze away writing you’re not happy with.

400ish words of talking about writing instead of writing

At something like 10:45 last night I realized I wasn’t getting my daily post in. I’ve been planning on starting the TV episode posts and it’s not going well. It just hasn’t worked out, scheduling-wise. But hopefully I’ll get caught up on posts today somehow. It’s only two, but this morning when I decided to write two… well, I assumed I’d be done with one of them before now.

My two writing projects from yesterday have had progress, but not completion. Not even anything I’d considered finished drafting. But the other big thing from yesterday worked out fine—the Visual Reflux podcast is working (technologically speaking) and we ought to get our first episode out… before the end of the month. Anchor’s iPad app isn’t full-featured, something they don’t tell you on the app but on their website. It’s not ideal but it’s workable.

It would be far more exciting if everything else this week weren’t so daunting. I may have to reexamine TV stuff, just because of the current schedule issues. Maybe it ought to start in the fall anyway.

But I’ve also noticed I’m not posting links, which I used to do to check “VR post” off in my bullet journal-y thing. I’m not… reading right now. I’m either in research mode or contemplate on draft mode. They’re mostly mutually exclusive from each other so adding general reading would just confuse things even more. And, to be honest, Punisher: Born got the Ennis read-through off on the wrong foot. I really wanted to find something good to read in before the next (first) Punisher MAX arc and I’m having selection paralysis. New or old. Mainstream or indie. Like everything creative is stuck until I get through this week’s projects, which is fine… it just hasn’t happened lately.

I’m not posting haikus about King Kong movies, which was a real possibility this week, so I guess it could be much worse filler.

I think I’ve got the projects sorted. I’m not confident I have them sorted, but I think they’re sorted. The problem with drafting to a point where I can then deliberate on the draft is I need dedicated time, which I really don’t have.

But, hey, Anchor works and, one way or the other, one of the projects will be over this Friday.

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