Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rant: Perception

We sense an incredible amount of data, far beyond what gets filtered down to a tiny articulable amount. Sometimes some of that data bypasses some of those filters, or seeps thru anyway, and reaches conscious cognition anyway – kinda freaking us out in the process with the manifestation of the perception & interpretation. AFAIK the phenomenon of autism is the lack of certain mental filters, inundating the autistic’s cognition with huge amounts of raw data, allowing for the “savant” ability to perceive & recall intricate details, and as a consequence be unable to focus on particular details which are socially expected by “neurotypicals”.
For a more sane analysis of nuanced perception, read Tom Brown’s “Science and Art of Tracking”. Might help translate the weirdness of perceptive dreams and nutcase supernaturalism into the reality of better understanding what you do perceive.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Movie: Taken

Teenage daughter vacations in Paris. Father has 96 hours to rescue her from kidnappers. Visceral, compelling tale - to parents, about what evils may befall their offspring; to older children, a reveal of how evil others can be and how playful ignorance can kill.

I put this with Braveheart as a story parents should share with their older (!) kids, a platform for frank discussion of how much of the world operates and how we should behave in response.

Well done as an entertaining thriller. Downfall is how so much of the story relies of nick-of-time coincidences; consider how different an end if only actions spanning days occurred a few seconds off. As a father of a playful little girl, I hoped for somewhat more applicable solutions to every parent's nightmare. Perhaps a trip to Storm Mountain's High Risk Personnel training (to wit: how to survive a kidnapping) is in order.

Movie: X-Men Origins Wolverine

Teeth-grinding adrenaline-pumping low-cognition guy movie. The three prior X-Men movies alluded to the mysterious amnesic history of the unsophisticated yet compelling character Wolverine; this story at long last unfolds his 175-year lifespan - and why that one nasty badguy is so keen on almost but not quite killing him.

Understand that this movie is a tangent to the obsessively complex X-Men comic book series. Lots of characters are introduced, many with very brief involvements featuring unexplained extreme behavior which will leave fanboys smiling and nodding while their SOs tilt their heads wondering "what the heck was THAT all about?" Relax, enjoy, and recognize this is just a small part of a much bigger story.

Movie: The Woman in White

Another nicely-done Victorian-era chick-flick about aristocrats jockeying for positions to marry up, access fortunes, and bump off anyone in their way. This one is a bit darker than usual, as we discover why the ghostly, disheveled & deranged woman in white is the key to the high-society combat that unfolds.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Surgery: complications and recovery

Went home for a couple days, then had signs of internal bleeding so I went back to the hospital for another week.

Upshot for the whole affair:
- Lost one organ (gallbladder)
- Almost lost another organ (pancreas)
- Seriously annoyed another (liver)
- Got knocked out 4 times
- 4 CaT scans
- 1 radioactive injection
- Transfused 9 units of blood & plasma
- Starved for most of 2 weeks
- Lost 10 pounds
- Jabbed with needles maybe 100 times
...and thankful for all of it.

We have a wonderful health care system. Everything done was just between me and my 8+ doctors. Keep government bureaucrats out of it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Recipe: No-fat Peach Cobbler

No-fat Peach Cobbler
1 cup self-rising flour
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup dried milk powder
1 15-oz can sliced peaches “lite; no sugar added”
Reconstitute milk powder using 2/3 cup juice from can (which should contain right amount; add water if needed).
Mix flour, sugar, milk until smooth.
Pour into 8” non-stick baking pan.
Lay peach slices on top.
Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.
Convenient for camping! No refrigeration needed. Carry dry ingredients in zip-loc bag, mixing in bag when ready. Don’t forget a can opener. Heat Dutch oven in campfire coals, use 3 pebbles to raise baking pan from bottom of oven.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Surgery: success

Seems all went well. Am very tired. More details later.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Surgery: Gallbladder

Long story short, here I am in a hospital bed waiting for my anti-coagulation reversal so I can get my gallbladder yanked out torrow afternoon. Karen is napping, and Kirsten is figuring out how this bed works. I'm trying to ignore the pain in my upper abdomen caused by gallstones, an inflamed gallbladder, and possibly a plugged pancreatic duct. And I'm sharing it with you! Soon I get pumped with "fresh frozen plasma" to bring my blood clotting rates back to near (but not too near; see last year's heart surgery) normal.

Not sure what else to add. Next post may be after surgery, and I may be groggy/incoherent.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Movie: Bridget Jones - The Edge Of Reason

This sequel to Bridget Jones' Diary is, as sequels are, a distillation and enhancement of the more memorable portions of the original. In this case, we get our heroine looking less fashionable, more unduly idiotic, and more pitiable, all garnering more affection from the audience. It's just one tantalizingly embarrassing moment after another, culminating (and wallowing) in sweetness. Likewise, we get our hero looking ever more cold, heartless, and misunderstood to conceal the sheer depths of his affection and devotion to her. And of course, we get our villain ever more cavalier, attractive, self-serving and heartless, so much that when he gets his due we don't really care - not for lack of making us care, but because he has so earned his complete lack thereof.

Let us hope there is a Celebrity Extreme Makeover show just so news-anchor Bridget can finally look the part for her man.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Rant: Minimum Wage Increase

The dollar is about to be devalued again, as minimum wage will soon be increased to $7.25/hour. Remember the "gold standard"? now we have the "commodity labor" standard. ...and the standard is about to be adjusted downward.

$1 will now be worth 8 minutes and 17 seconds of commodity labor (mundane jobs like floor sweeping which virtually anyone can do).

This change will have a ripple effect whereby prices will adjust to reflect the new value. During this adjustment period those getting "minimum wage" will have a temporary advantage in the marketplace. Over time this ripple will settle out, and those making minimum wage will be back in the same position in the economy as before.

The value of commodity labor and the value of commodity goods will, on the whole, maintain their relative proportional balance. A gallon of gas will, after this economic ripple effect settles down, still cost 1/3rd hour of work - no matter the numeric declaration of the medium of economic exchange. Whatever a dollar is, and no matter how many of them you get for sweeping floors for an hour, you'll still have to sweep a floor for about 20 minutes to buy a gallon of gas.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Movie: Knowing


Setting aside the obvious questions of "how could it be THAT precise?" and "why did they take THAT path instead of just grabbing 'em?", an amazing what-if tale of knowing exactly when, where, and how many a series of horrible events would take. Just one piece of paper with a series of numbers, leading to a discovery of meaning that destroys one's philosophy of cause, effect, and probability.

The intensity is sustained, believable, and fresh. Great drama, great horror, thought-provoking. The previews I expect you have seen show imagery hinting at what I can reveal is an absolutely spectacular sequence of total devestation, winning this stage of the ongoing struggle of filmmakers to evoke the most mind-blowing depiction of the destruction of a popular location.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Movie: 28 Weeks Later

The first part of this instant franchise, 28 Days Later, told of the "Rage virus" outbreak in England, which killed nearly everyone by either becoming a zombie* or being eaten by one. The few who survive do so by their wits and risks, being picked off as the relentless packs cross their paths. A stronghold against the outbreak is found, but human nature being what it is even the safest place is not. Little of 28 Days Laater involves zombies, but that little more than makes up for the disparity via sheer frenetic intensity. Insofar as the ending manages to be happy, it is a happy ending (meh).

In typical sequel fasion, 28 Weeks Later takes the most memorable bits and spends most screen time addressing that material: lots of action, punctuated by intense social drama. This time, however, the standard degrading formula really works as the distilled essence pulls the material into a more powerful and accessable story. Having been revealed in the first story that England, being isolated, did not infect the rest of humanity, we learn some 28 weeks after the initial outbreak that the Rage virus has burned itself out and that London may be rebuilt and repopulated. ...at least until two children return from their well-timed trip abroad (having saved them from the outbreak) and, evading adult authority and containment as children tend to, they return home to find their treasured belongings - and their presumed-dead mother. The virus isn't gone, but there is, for a few, a natural resistance to the disease which must be preserved and exploited at all costs. The remaining tale follows the consequences of this discovery, which is simple and dramatic, and may not be predictable. Those of us who appreciate such horror films will, to be obtuse, look forward to 28 Months Later.

* - A trait of modern zombie movies is to never use the word "zombie".

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Movie: Australia

Good solid drama. Finding herself in charge of her late husband's cattle ranch with little advanced notice and little staff to manage it, finding herself unavoidably falling for a contractor thereof, and finding herself the virtual adoptive mother of a half-breed aboriginal boy, our heroine must save the Pacific cattle industry on behalf of the WWII US military and in defiance of an Australian robber baron. ...and this movie pulls it off!

Action, romance, capitalism, survival, and all the other elements of the classic popular American story - set, of course, in Australia.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Movie: Man On Fire

Director Tony Scott has developed a unique style, featuring frenetic hand-cranked multi-shot saturated-color imagery (see the short "Agent Orange" for a PG introduction). This is often poured on thick during high-action, high-stress, and/or high-violence scenes. Know this before watching, as it may be too much for some viewers.

This is a revenge movie. It isn't happy, though characters grow, repent and redeem themselves. The story arc is dramatic as a haunted bodyguard learns to live & love again, only to fail his job, and in revenge proceed to eliminate everyone involved (how that ends may be predictable, but is dramatic).

In stark contrast to, say Shoot 'Em Up, the action herein is believable - perhaps too believable for some tastes. The hero is not impervious to temptation, frustration, nor bullets, and I don't mean idealized versions of any of them.

Well done for a visually stunning tragedy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Movie: Punisher - War Zone

The comic book series Punisher is a hyper-violent ongoing tale of a man wreaking havoc and hell upon the criminal underworld in retaliation for the wanton death of his family. This movie captures that world, persona, and consequences perfectly. If you know who The Punisher is and find the concept intriguing, see this; if not, don't.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Movie: Shoot 'Em Up

Duh-YAM. Talk about over the top. As Ebert describes Shoot ‘Em Up: “This one goes so far, if you even want to get that far, you have to start half-way there, which means you have to be a connoisseur of the hard-boiled action genre and its serio-comic sub-basement.” Hard-boiled indeed. This is Woo’s Hard Boiled crossed with Children of Men.

Let me clarify that last comment. This movie is actually inspired by a scene from Hard Boiled, where the hero runs around with a newborn while being shot at (that being an enormous understatement). The actor for this movie did practically the same thing – i.e.: run around with a newborn while being shot at (that, also, being an understatement) – not long ago in Children of Men. Now, having identified the two grittiest movies regarding protecting a newborn whilst dodging pallets of high-velocity lead, we get two hours of that premise involving so much lead viewers should be greeted with an FDA health warning during the opening credits. This one goes so far … well, Ebert summed that up.

My rating? Maybe as low as 3/5. Intense visuals (mostly involving firefights), gratuitous copulation (during firefights), and ever-more-over-the-top situations (featuring firefights), you’d think that that many baddies with that much firepower directed at one person that exposed that long would somehow manage to get one little chunk of Pb on target. He, on the other hand, took out more people with carrots. Entertaining to be sure (at least until some needless politicking was injected), but not meaningful or life-enriching. The Matrix at least explored pop psychology.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Movie: I Am Legend

Truly we are entering the golden age of zombie movies. The zombies themselves, meh, but the story of the survivors grows to great, if gory, depths.

In flashbacks we learn how our hero* experienced the traumatic fall of civilization, crashing into a few loners striving against the hordes of remaining zombies**. The story arc here is fine (if a bit flawed), from loss to survival to quest to success to final price paid. The zombies are a little too animated and a little too smart, but the rest of the movie makes that forgivable.

Between this and 28 Days Later, I'm impressed by the depth of the genre, and how major hyper-active cities can be filmed as dead.

* - I'm noticing how some movies have characters worthy of the moniker "hero", while others merely have "protagonists".

** - Zombie movies never use the term "zombie" anymore.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Movie: Hitman

Exactly what older teen boys want to see, and exactly what their mothers don't want them to: violence and sex, both naively under- & over-portrayed at once. Hey, it's based on a video game - go figure.

Our protagonist is the viewer viscerally living thru the bald social misfit formed into the perfect assassin. He takes on one target after another in ... ya know, I don't quite remember and don't quite care. Suffice to say he takes on one target after another, and saves - or doesn't - the girl. Slick, cool, not the slightest consideration of real-world consequences (which, in stark juxtaposition, Munich does to a fault).

Ladies, you don't want to see this. You probably don't want your man seeing this either, but he very well may when given a chance to do so.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Movie: Renaissance

A moderately interesting kidnapping mystery, presented in an incredible new visual style - with the latter overwhelming the former.

The visual style is what Sin City wanted to be but didn't quite achieve: live action in striking black-and-white - and I mean only black and only white, save for a slight use of flat single-tone gray and a tiny dash of color. All action was acquired with computerized motion-capture, down to the minute facial expressive details which The Polar Express, otherwise amazing, was derided for lacking. The captured motions then translated to detailed 3D graphics, in turn flattened to purely black and white. The result is amazing. The result is a live-action cartoon, a slick union of contradictory visual techniques.

The story, sorry to say, isn't as sharply stunning. In no way does the story lack, but neither does it triumph - serving more as a premise for applying the long desired and never achieved imagery.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Movie: London

I picked up this movie because the soundtrack was done by The Crystal Method. The album is good, the movie ... well, it's another movie about losers.

Unable, for no good reason, to declare his love for his girlfriend (name: London) with a simple and unprompted "I love you", they part ways. Learning she is to enjoy a going-away party for her move to the other coast, he crashes the party, hides in the bathroom (sharing dope and engaging in impassioned and meaningless conversations with whoever wanders in), he eventually learns what is meant by "too little too late". Loser.

I'd like to know why some people enjoy such films. I guess they're uplifting for some; I can't imagine what life would see it as such.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Movie: Munich

You MUST see One Day In September first. To understand Munich, you must watch the documentary of the hostage-taking in the Munich Olympics. This movie, being historical fiction, picks up where the documentary must leave off: Israel's covert, and still mostly secret, project to assassinate those responsible for killing the Jewish athletes. Without this background, one may fall into the common error of misunderstanding the process and reality of why & how this project was done. Yes, it's fiction - but sometimes fiction tells us the story of reality we cannot, for want of secrecy, be told. Well done, though not entertaining.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Movie: A Fistful of Dollars

Now that's a western.

An older film, featuring younger rock-solid star Clint Eastwood, of a nobody wandering into the middle of a feud destroying a small nowhere town. With few words, subtle action, and intrigued by the money to be made in the process, our nameless hero destroys both gangs and saves the innocent, asking nothing else in return - even the money is ultimately nothing to him.

I'm usually not big on westerns, but this one works.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Book: On Writing (Stephen King)

In one of the several forwards to this book, the author comments that a book about writing should be short. Indeed, the essence of the book is 29 pages - weighty enough that aspiring writers should read it, often. Another 100 pages or so gives useful insights on applying that core material. The rest of the book, which lists for $8, is autobiography which (A) while interesting would be difficult to publish in its own right, and (B) bulks out the text so you don't feel slighted by $4.

King is indeed a skillful writer, making the reader feel very comfortable (save for copious obscenities) and expresses his advice clearly and usefully. Being successful and talented, his advice is valuable being from one who has lived the reality of the industry, providing subtle suggestions and contradictions which add value far beyond what an academic portrayal of the craft would usually entail.

Thinking of writing? Get this book. The slim portion on "Toolbox" is more than worth the cover price.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Movie: .45


That really just sums it up nicely. The movie is well acted, and the story is strong as stories go, but it's about ... losers, being losers, losing. Meh. Actually took me three days to get through it because I couldn't watch it all in one stretch, but having paid for it and spent enough time watching what I did I just wanted to see which of several possible losing endings the losers would lose by. I want a story where, somehow, I can look up to the protagonist(s); for this, I had to squint to see that low.

Story? He's a jerk, she won't leave, and conspiracies form to, er, extricate one from the other. She could have just walked out, but then the movie would have been about 10 minutes long.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Movie: A Scanner Darkly

A faithful, if abridged, adaptation of Philip K. Dick*’s novel. Undercover narcotics cop Fred is ordered to comprehensively investigate hardcore drug addict Bob; there’s just one problem ... Fred is Bob. Then comes the twist…
In a nearly inexplicable turn of movie production, the entire movie was filmed live, then hand-animated (rotoscoped) into stark, flat “posterized” coloring. Interesting result; save for one important visual effect I don’t see why they did it (“because it hadn’t been done” aside).
The book was significantly more depressing. The movie kinda hustles you thru the WTF elements, the book gives you full icky development thereof.
Upshot: a should-see for those fond of experimental mild-scifi tragedies; other people, not so much.

(* - PKD wrote the stories later turned into Blade Runner, Paycheck, Minority Report, and several other mind-benders.)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Movie: Rebecca

In standard Masterpiece Theater style, we have another classic British aristocratic drama in the Jane Austin / Emily Bronte tradition. Lower-class girl finds herself romantically entangled with a fabulously wealthy man, and must endure fancy clothes, fancier accoutrements, palacial residence, formal balls, aristocratic snobs & twits, strange servants, and her man's dark secret which they together face, heroically overcome and humbly suffer the tragic consequences of, abiding in the deep love they share after all.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Movie: War

Modern "Dirty Harry" cop vs perfect Japanese intra-gang asassin. Cool guy-movie mindless violent action gets too clever for it's own good at the end. I hate such endings.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Movie: Only You

Cheesy romantic comedy. If you'd say yes to a guy like this then you'd get what you deserve. Oh sure it's funny, but really...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Movie: 88 Minutes

Al Pachino's invariable character sets the tone for a psychological thriller where a psychologist has 88 minutes to realize an incarcerated serial killer is out to get him, and how. Exactly what such a description sounds like it will get you if you're in the mood for such a story.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Movies: Top Ten

I'm occasionally asked for my top ten movies. Here's a whack at it:

1. Koyaanisqatsi
"Life out of balance": a two-hour minimalist music video, no actors, no script, just the mesmerizing arpeggios of Philip Glass bolstering a portrayal of city life on a scale you rarely perceive - and how, someday, it must tragically collapse. I just can't see this one enough, and have done so at least 8 time (once with live introduction by Glass).

2. Being Human
A forgotten film, portraying Robin Williams as Everyman across the ages. Set in four eras, we see different parts of the same life (as most lives are mostly the same) played out in vastly different eras. Moving, capturing love lost, gained, and all in between - including the eternal quest for shoes that fit.

3. Braveheart
Powerful portrayal of manliness: total devotion to family and country at the cost of total personal sacrifice. FREEEEDOOOOOOOMMMMMMM!!!!!

4. The Truman Show
Good stories depict the arc of personal discovery and change; what could be more so than discovering one's entire life is the set and subject of a TV series, recorded and broadcast by thousands of cameras, and everyone around is a hired extra? Moody music by Philip Glass as a bonus.

5. Ghost Dog
A loser in the 'hood is, by momentary shoulder-shrugging whim, saved from death by a mobster. Thereafter said loser reads the ancient samurai text Hagakuri, and immediately devotes himself fully to the samurai way - and the perplexed thug who saved him. Leveraging this resource, this mid-level mobster uses him as an assassin ... and when the hits make things too complicated, the mob tries to take him out. Unusually, the script brings out the mobsters as the dingy losers they are, and portrays the tragedy of a devotee of a Way without any teacher to guide him.

6. Blade Runner
Gritty, messy, intense thriller that asks what it means to be human. "Time to die" ends one of the great on-screen pontifications. Subject to inappropriate editing in earlier releases, find the "Final Cut" version, done as the director intended.

7. Babette's Feast
A lovely, gentle tale (yes, I have a soft side) of secluded life in a religious commune, and the effect that good food can have on lives.

8. La Femme Nikita
Lost to society and subject to the death penalty, our dysfunctional heroine is trained to be a dark betrayer and agent of society: a spy. Particularly striking, among the gritty setting and tragic consequences, is how we the audience are _not_ privy to the whys and wherefores of her assignments. (The American remake of this French film fails precisely because we _do_ get answers and see consequences.)

9. The Lord of the Rings
A grand portrayal of the fantasy epic. Abridged (focusing on the high action, neglecting the art and scenery along the way), and flawed (director Peter Jackson should stick to filming stories, not altering them), but otherwise captures the vast scale and grandeur of the tale.

10. The Matrix
Whoa. Fantastic kick-butt sci-fi heady action. Not insightful, just way cool.

Honorable mentions:

The Matrix meets Farenheit 451 meets 1984 in this stylized future of governmental eradication of anything emotionally stimulating. Preposterous, but very cool. In the commentary track, the director observes "action is how men express romance on film. Whether it be romance for family, wives, children, king, country, it doesn't matter. They express their love by whipping ass in the name of one or the other of the above."

The Blair Witch Project
El Mariachi
I have a fondness for ultra-low-budget movies: given very little to work with, and forced into thinking way outside the box (or, in the case of Cube, being stuck inside a very small box), capturing the essence of a _good_ story is a remarkable achievement.

Romeo and Juliet
The MTV-modern depictions of these classics show how well Shakespeare captured the essence of timeless human existence. Transplanted into modern-time alternate-universe settings of Verona Beach CA and Denmark Corp. respectively (where much is as life is now save for everyone speaking Elizabethan English, and Post Haste Delivery & Elsinore Castle Apartments are socially well-known), the essence of the Bard's works still shines.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Movie: Playtime

Tour-de-force bad, on par with Russian Ark. We’re talking grand unique concept, huge execution, laudable acting & cinematography, worthy of adulation in all things – and it is unbelievably boring. Filmed in large-frame 70mm to capture all the detail, it indeed captures all the detail as intended ... so very much detail that, in a possible and unintended view thru an autistic’s eyes, anything akin to story and social interaction is almost completely lost amidst the surrounding activity.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Movie: How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days

a decent date movie that no guy would want to see with his date. I only consented to see it long after I married her. Very predictable, occasionally embarrassing, generally an amusing chick flick. Next movie?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Movie: WALL-E

Another win from Pixar, marred only by the slightly heavy-handed moralizing about environmentalism. A long-awaited attempt at a pop animation with minimal dialog. Cute, clever, insightful ... but I just can’t quite think of much to add here.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Movie: The Phantom of the Opera

Not the high-budget drama-laden tear-jerking love-story version. This is the same story, but shows that one story viewed slightly askance becomes sheer horror.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Movie: Corpse Bride

Another nifty over-the-top physical animation by Tim Burton et al, following the feel of The Nightmare Before Christmas without being a sequel. Pretty good if you like that kind of thing.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Movie: Pitch Black

Over-the-top yet uber-cool bad-ass guy movie. Ok, so it’s about escaping a crash-landing on a planet that rarely sees night, which of course our heros & anti-heros arrive just in time for, only to watch the crew picked off by light-fearing hungry alien beasts.

Movie: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

TV adaptations of stories rarely live up to the depth & edge we hope for. Too much time building up the lanky, irritating character of Ichabod Crane, too much time on the obligatory and non-canonical love triangle, and far too little time on the encounter with the real-after-all Headless Horseman.

Movie: Resident Evil

Mila Jojovich killing zombies. ‘nuff said. Don’t expect more. Get the popcorn, guys.

Movie: The Fall of the House of Usher

A great movie – insofar as the silent-movie era goes. Unlikely to interest modern generations save for historical value. It was the best of its time, portraying depth despite technical & artistic limitations; we've moved on to another millenium now.

Movie: The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns

A full-length young children’s movie, with just enough grown-up material thrown in to keep Mom & Dad interested. The two plot lines hardly intersect. Good for your 3-year-old when you have to watch too.

Movie: Sweeney Todd

High comic musical about cannibalism. Pulls you past the sheer gore into grand humor, then smacks you over the head with the reality that wanton murder isn’t funny. Incredibly gory.

Movie: Princess of Thieves

OK tale of Robin Hood’s teen daughter. Made for your teen daughter.

Movie: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Same actors, same directors & producers, bigger budget, shouldn’t have bothered. Kinda betrayed the original with over-the-top here-we-go-again action-for-action's-sake kitch. On the documentary track, Spielberg & Lucas comment that an “Indy vs. aliens” story would just be wrong – and they were right.

Movie: Return to Me

A touching tale of love lost, love found, and the painful connection therebetween. His wife dies, and his new girlfriend ends up with – literally – her heart. How he discovers & copes with this is tactfully done. Yours truly saw it a little too soon after open-heart surgery, and found other things to do in the kitchen during some scenes.

Movie: Cube 2: Hypercube

Over-talky under-informed mutation of its solid (and brutal) predecessor. Several seemingly unrelated people cope – and eventually don’t – with suddenly finding themselves in a four-dimensional maze. Unfortunately, the scriptwriter had a weak grasp of what multi-dimensional space would actually behave like, and we are subject to lots of non-sequitor bizarreness. The ending is needlessly nasty.

Movie: Jane Eyre

Grand portrayal of the classic story. Well done if you like Jane Austin / Emily Bronte sort of things.

Movie: The Count of Monte Cristo

A really good swashbuckling tale of righting wrongs.

Movie: Eragon

Entertaining adventure about a boy and his dragon vs. hordes of evil minions. First of a trilogy. Read the book instead.

Movie: Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Slightly more grown-up Disney fare, recounting the survival and rediscovery of Atlantis. Nicely done if you can follow the somewhat hyperactive pacing, and can deal with the new-ageism.

Movie: The Spiderwick Chronicles

Engaging tale of the fantasy world that lives just outside our view, and what happens when you start meddling with it. Cute, for older kids.