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Inflation (1928)
one of the best films I've ever seen
24 September 2016
This film is about what happens when/if there is an economic collapse (for us) and documents the total failure of the Weimar Republic in Germany after WW1.

Well for us it is more about imagining the powerlessness; economic collapse could happen at any time, yielding us powerless. I would say that to a modern viewer, this film is largely about imagining what happens when your society fall into complete helplessness.

The use of montage is powerful.

I last saw this film in 1992, projected in Los Angeles in a nice theater. It made an impact and when I close my eyes I can still imagine scenes from the film. That, to me, is impact.

Find a way to see this film. It is incredible.
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low-budget parody of Space 1999 / Seinfeld
24 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Highlight of the film:

Seeing the first sock drawer in space.

This is a movie that is a low-budget knockoff of Space 1999 and Seinfeld.

A difference being that Seinfeld had a laugh track which helped you know when something was supposed to be funny.

The environs of the spaceship looks like it was pulled out of a Space 1999 Set with all of the nice looking parts removed. This makes just about every 1970s sci-fi flick you've seen look higher budget.

Nothing is really that funny in this comedy altho' you will perhaps like some devices like the little kid drawing directions to home quarters with a crayon, with a retro-robot cleaning up after her.

The movie is about being dysfunctional which... if you are into feeling inferior then you will probably like (some people dig this kind of thing).

There isn't really a plot to spoil since there is no plot. You can't really say "at the end of this film, _________ happened and was interesting since there is no __________.

Things that do work:

  • The asteroid rotating+tapping against the space station, thus making the actors stop talking. - The sock drawer.

Things that don't work:

  • Making a mockery of Christmas as a tool to extend dysfunctionality. - Wood paneling in Space 1999-like quarters - Todd Runngren singing with a guy in the bathtub. - All dialog - The "dumb blond" with the 1970s qualude+booze habit - Globe lighting - 1970s Hologram Chamber - Repeating Robot Doctor - 4 bit microcomputer strapped to a character's arm - Blouses+random comfort debris floating/rotating in space.

What could have been done:

  • Adding a plot of any real kind would be well... kind.
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Star Trek: Enterprise: Precious Cargo (2002)
Season 2, Episode 11
campy trek
13 September 2016
This is among the most humorous Trek episode of the modern era. It reads like a 1950s sci-fi short story.

Campy as all getout, our two lovebirds, Kaitaama and Trip end up on a miserable watery planet with a single jungle continent. They begin by hating each other, Kaitaama being the princess of Planet Krios.

Kaitaama is disagreeable of everything but agrees to keep her disagreement quiet while Trip works on rescuing them from aliens who took them hostage.

This is an episode that reflects original episodes of "Trek" with Trip playing the boy-charmer and Kaitaama the difficult chick. It is not politically correct. It is not in line with 2010-era taboos or "the establishment" TV industry.

This, along with the humor intentionally woven into the story makes it likely the funniest Trek of the modern era! Thanks to the writers for this breath of fresh air!
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Flywheel (2003)
Flywheel spins my crank
17 December 2011
Probably one of the best films of the last decade. This is a movie that will be disturbing to people who are not yet living an honest life and perhaps an epiphany to those who are on the cusp trying to turn their life around. The story is good and pretty fun.

A humorous car allegory is used to represent Jay Austin's turnaround. Any decent person will probably like this film.

More depth: Jay Austin sells used cars. His business is doing great. Unhappy with the echos of his ripoffs are going, he relaunches his business with a new "business partner" (hehe) and promises to trim his margins to reasonable levels on the cars. Initially it's a disaster, but after awhile he is rewarded for being hmm... the nation's first respectable car dealer? Hmm... that's probably overdoing it. Enjoy.
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Firefox (1982)
best movie Clint Eastwood ever made
17 November 2007
Corny, complete with scientists with ear coming out of their hair, this is Eastwood at his very very "worst." If you have hated films like "The good, the bad and the ugly" you may like this film. It doesn't denigrate "The Western" as his other films have, since he was a TV film star. You get the feeling he might have enjoyed making this film, unlike others, in which he forces his disdain for anything he can imagine. It is, not dissimilar from a bad Japanese monster picture in some ways. But it's lovable in it's true badness.

Perhaps this is why Eastwood films are popular. They are all truly awful. However, this film has an 'awful charm' that is somehow endearing. Much like a bad Japanese monster movie.
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Issue #1!
24 July 2005
This is the best political show on television. It is the only political show on PBS.

Without this show PBS would likely forced to be reborn since it generally has such a powerfully left-wing bias.

The narrator, John McLaughlin is a roughly non-partisan figure who really hosts the show. He does it in a novel manner that makes the show more interesting. He may be a Libertarian... as he falls into left and right camps with a tendency to visit the right.

Typical hosts include Pat Buchanan and others. Mr. Buchanan is obviously conservative. He has a chick counterpart who covers the left territory in an equally abrasive manner. The two co-hosts complement John McLaughlin who then puts them in their place by reminding them that they live in America, not Liberica or Conservica! It is quite interesting to watch- especially occasionally and over a period of years, even decades as I have.

Issues commonly discussed include American foreign policy and domestic security issues. It's often suggested that the U.S. get out of everywhere and focus the heck on it's own problems. This is an attitude that non-baby boomers (younger set) may find very appealing.

Speaking of that generational issues have over the years been brought up in the show. The guests tend to have very optimistic views of the future and their own take on how that future will be brighter than before.

There is a general feeling from within the show that the left is viewed as being on it's way to obsolescence with the right redefining a new left and right based on rational thought and modern life.

However it should be said that this show definitely represents all views. It is one of the only TV shows aired anywhere that really discusses all sides of the political equation.
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A great postwar sci-fi epic
7 June 2005
After seeing this film I can really understand why it is held in high regard. Compared to films nowadays it is very restrained and non-offensive. It is refreshing to have a science-fiction plot filled with storyline instead of sex and innuendo. Further, the aliens in the story are merely a threat that has to be overcome, and aren't particularly vicious or needlessly grotesque. The special effects and scenery shots are quite attractive for the time.

The optimism at the end of the movie (akin to that generation) is also refreshing as it has none of the negativity adopted by the "lost" generation of the 1960s. The story reflects the struggles that I imagine people in the 1940s had to live through, although in a very indirect manner.

The special effects in gray scale are very kitchy and will be enjoyed by all.

I have to admit that it is somewhat amusing to see a flying saucer crash into the Potomac river. There is a more than a just bit of intentional humor in this story. Enjoy.
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fun flick for young kids and parents
12 December 2004
Fox played this movie today and I watched it. Preceding the movie was a collection of scary, gory clips that I couldn't show my kids. So when I channel-flipped back to it I was doubly shocked at how enjoyable this film was. This is one of many films that America is incapable of producing due to it's optimism, emphasis on living and view of the future. It is just a fun movie so perhaps I shouldn't make it sound so serious. There are plenty of disasters but all seem done in fun and humor. The race is started by a bunch of people who [by and large] want to win at any cost. In the end... the moral of the story seems to be that those who live with honor win in the end. It's a sort of reminder about points like this. It is refreshing to see a film like this once in awhile. It is long... but make sure and watch at least half of it. Especially if you have kids. Oh- it is also somewhat funny. I would say that it's a comedy but contains neither slapstick nor 'sophisticated' humor. Little things such as seeing the dog flying shotgun in the back seat of an old plane with the sign saying something like 'I am the first dog ever to fly in an airplane' or so are typical of the silly going ons.

If you've seen + liked films such as 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' or 'It's a Mad Mad Mad World' then know this film is different but you may like it.
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Not as lame as I remember
12 December 2004
Someone 'treated me' to this film in the theater. At the time I saw it I thought it was awful. This is probably because there were dollar bills involved! As a TV movie is is passable. The beginning is trite but once they get into their succession of disasters it is okay. I also like that at least the TV version didn't seem too gory. I don't remember if it was more so in the theatre but have the feeling that it had some elements to help it earn an R rating. The special effects are okay. Everything is mostly okay. Mostly it is fun to have a movie about Mars again. For a _really_ good time see Forbidden Planet. Now that is a great movie. This film qualifies for the 1940's equivalent of a 'B' movie. Although that is unfair to some 'B' movies which are really quite excellent you probably know what I mean.
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The Hard Guy (1930)
a short with a happy ending
12 October 2004
My first thought when I saw it was that this short is something you would never see now. A short film with a happy ending seems to be something unattainable in this generation. Anyway that being said it's neither a great nor a bad short. A man and his wife are trying to feed and provide for their child. The man goes out, hoping to find a job, but first grabs his revolver. His wife find the revolver in the coat and is scared. He goes out with the gun and returns with a haul. His wife assumes that he stole the things after hearing a commotion downstairs with a police officer chasing after. Finally he tells her he sold the gun. Spencer Tracy is young and an okay actor. In my opinion just as he always was. If you want to see an entertaining movie with Spencer Tracy, try "Desk Set." It is apolitical and is a pretty cute comedy involving a mad computer and a coupl'a risqué librarians.
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Quo Vadis (1951)
Sequel to film from 1932 as well as 1924
12 September 2004
One thing you won't find anywhere I looked is that Quo Vadis was done as a movie called "The Sign of the Cross" by Cecil DeMille in 1932. Why he changed the name I have no idea. Perhaps he changed the story enough to merit a name change. DeMille also had something called a BUDGET to worry about. The 1950s version had a big budget no doubt.

Anyway the 1950s version is a good film. The 1932 version is worth seeing as a compliment to this one. Both versions were recently played on a TV channel I watched. The 1950s version fits more into the generation of that time, with Christian beliefs being openly popularized in America. How we have changed. The 1932 version is more like a drama but also has the same basic messages as the later film. I just found the earlier film more tender [but just as meaningful]. There are no lions or violence as opposed to Quo Vadis 1950 which is violent.

I really noticed how much more loquatious the 1950s version is. It is LONG and probably doesn't need to be so. Granted, Quo Vadis 1950 was a high-budget film with lots of perky special effects. I could take it or leave that.
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Fumées (1951)
10 September 2004
This was a stop-motion animation film made as an advertisement for a cigarette company. It did not use the pin screen that Alexander Alexeieff is world famous for.

It is not that interesting but it is worth noting that Oscar Fischinger and others also did related films. It seems that the cigarette companies were all trying to outdo each other in Europe with cigarette commercials!

Ah... the smooth taste of tobacco.

No it's not like that, really. It's just an incredible bunch of cigarettes marching around in front of a camera.

Of course to Alexeieff it helped him make a living and assumable get some commercial exposure. AND it was probably a pain in the keister to produce. So he probably wouldn't appreciate me saying that it was just a bunch of cigarettes marching around!
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Le nez (1963)
a very influential and interesting film
10 September 2004
This film was made completely using shadows from a pin screen, with Alexander Alexeieff working from the front and his wife Claire Parker working from the back [according to them this is how they worked]. The pin screen was Alexeieff's invention. A low-resolution product based on his screen can be found in novelty stores. It has pins that you can leave an imprint of your face or hand in. This product was inspired directly by the films.

This film itself has a lot of movement and action. It is difficult to describe. The story itself is kind of dream-like. Not surprising since the original story was the same AND it is difficult to tell a chronological scene using animation on a pin-screen [no doubt].

Alexeieff made other pin screen movies. They are also worth watching. Many colleges and film classes show the video or 16 millimeter film to film classes today.
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Color study
10 September 2004
This is perhaps my favorite animation, filmed on at least four panes of glass and layered in an improvisational pattern.

Fischinger's tastes ran to form and color. Some of the color moods of Disney animations during his day reflect this, even though he was not retained [ahem] as an employee of Disney and evidently made no direct contribution to any Disney flicks.

I saw one of his best paintings hanging in a funny little antique store in Glendale, CA. I always wish I would have inquired if it was for sale.

Fischinger was more of a painter than an animator. His animation skills were limited, or should I say that he probably just wasn't interested in what turned into mainstream animation techniques and subjects.

Folks who like Fischinger should also check out Alexander Alexeieff. Alexeieff does not play with color but does play with form. There are some overlaps in their styles. For obvious reasons (lack of color film stock in the 1930s) Fischinger did a lot of black and white (charcoal) animations exploring motion and symbolism. In the black and white material Fischinger and Alexeieff seem to complement each other more.

Carl Jung comes to mind.

Oh I am jumping around aren't I?

I wish Disney would revisit the Fischinger influence in their animations.

See Disney's original Fantasia, Make Mine Music and Melody Time DVDs to see color and style influences by Fischinger. There is some great material there.

Anyway Motion Painting #1 is like nothing else [not like Disney at all] and will probably blow your mind.
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something new
10 September 2004
I Mademoiselle Fifi to be something new. I think 30 minutes of the film take place in a stagecoach with a group of people who try to be as mean and nasty to each other as possible. A lunch provided by a peasant woman brings them all together. If this were a play this would be Part 1.

The rest of the film is about kicking Prussians (stoic Germans) out of France. It is a resistance film, appropriate for the year 1944 when it was made. If you liked "The Return of the Scarlet Pimpernel" well... this is a more interesting film than that was.

Most old movies are interesting to me because I feel I can learn something by observing the indirect attitudes of the media/generation of the time. I find many subjects now are taboo and we are not allowed to discuss them anymore via the media. I don't fault how things are now or were then. This is just how the media works- it is human nature to reflect biases of the time. This is definitely the case with this film.

I liked it. It is worth watching once.
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another pinscreen masterpiece
10 September 2004
I have seen this film several times. It is my favorite pinscreen animation by Alexander Alexeieff and his wife. It is a stunning piece of work and can be thought of as the ultimate demo for the pinscreen.

I wish the films were in better place or that some megolomaniac would do something similar on one of the remaining pinscreens.

See my notes for "The Nose" (La Nez) to see more information on the pinscreen and the couple who used it.
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The Squall (1929)
Squall Stalled
10 September 2004
I like a lot of Myrna Loy movies. This film was produced before her character actor personality was developed. It would be an okay short film but seems to go on forever in it's complete form.

Myrna Loy it seems is told what to do with her acting and does the job. That is about all you can say about her.

Her gypsy character is shoddy and the film has many flaws, such as the jewelry shop scene.

This film will probably be interesting to Myrna Loy fans but even as such is something of a disappointment.
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Spartacus (2004 TV Movie)
Best movie this year
13 May 2004
This movie was done so incredibly well. It was apparently a remake of the Kirk Douglas version of Spartacus which I saw this week. However unlike most remakes it was BETTER than the original. The story was well told and the actors were very appropriate.

There was lots of action but not too much blood. WHERE IS THE DVD? Watch this movie. Enjoy.
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