On December 21 Wal-Mart closed the online movie download service the company had launched in February this year. According to a report from AP Wal-Mart says the decision was made after Hewlett-Packard decided “to discontinue its video download-only merchant store service.” The retail giant gave up on DVD rentals two years go.
In spite of what you may have heard or read, Pure Digital’s little video camera is pretty much useless. Sure, it’s small and handy, and it’s easy to operate, and it stores 30 minutes of video and the built-in USB connection makes it easy to download video clips to your computer (at least if you have a laptop or USB hub), but all of that merely add up to you being able to easily shoot, download and view up to 30 minutes of truly awful-looking video clips.
The zoom function is completely useless, use it and whatever video you shoot will be out blurry and pointless. You’re better off putting extra money into a decent digital with 30 frames per second video capacity and optical zoom that actually does something for you.
Last time I checked, enjoying a movie was a subjective thing. But hey, we’re ambitious people, and making lists is fun! So clearly subjectivity doesn’t stop us from making list after list of the best, the worst, the funniest, the most heart-wrenching films of all time. What’s my point? Well, what I’m trying to segue into here is a discussion of the American Film Institute’s newly renovated “100 Years…100 Movies” list, which (arguably) documents the 100 best films of the past century.
First of all, I would like to point out that I am by no means a film connoisseur. I am young, and I only had the pleasure witnessing the last 15 years of the 20th century. (I am counting on the fact that most people don’t like math and won’t bother calculating my age and disregarding my opinion just yet.) That being said, I consider myself an unfortunate representative of the 20-somethings roaming this earth who are apparently overexposed to the garbage produced today and underexposed to the classics that populate AFI’s treasured list. I have seen 21 of the movies on the list. I remind you, that is out of 100. Does that make me uncultured? Most likely. But I think it also makes me typical for my age.
To recap, AFI re-released the legendary rankings this week to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its initial list, and to allow recent films (made between 1996 and 2006) to earn a slot. Now I could sit here and give you a play-by-play of all the movies that I HAVE actually seen, or regurgitate the reviews that other, more cultured and knowledgeable bloggers have given of the new list, but I don’t feel like it. And I doubt that anyone would want to read it. Because as I originally stated, watching movies is subjective. There is no right answer, mostly just wrong ones. I do, however, have an issue with this list that I would like to point out to AFI now.
Who exactly are these faceless voters determining the “greatest movies of all time”? Some of you might wonder how AFI compiles this all-knowing list. I was curious as well, and with a few clicks of the mouse, I got some ambiguous answers. Shocking, I know.
First of all, this isn’t random polling. A panel of directors, screenwriters, critics, actors, editors, cinematographers, and historians are the predetermined voters. I’m not quite sure why this bothered me so much. It isn’t as though I am saying I know more about movies than the pros. I am actually disturbingly confident in my naivete when it comes to films. But I know I am less biased, and when it comes to asking for opinions, I think we should be looking towards the people the movies are made for (the audiences), rather than the people who make them. For example, Citizen Kane was chosen as #1 (just as it was with the first list 10 years ago). An Orson Welles’ masterpiece. Released in 1941. A classic. I’m not trying to dispute whether or not it should have won, I just don’t know why the rest of the list has to read almost exactly the same way. No one has a list of favorite movies that all originated before 1950.
I read the master list of 400 films that these professionals got to choose from, and I have to say they missed some good ones. This is where that whole subjectivity issue comes into play again. When you release a list of that magnitude, everyone has an opinion, and you have admittedly clueless people like me thinking that they should have a say too. The only justifiable claim I can make is that I at least have some semblance of a clue about films made within the last decade or so, which is why the idea of this remodeled list excited me. For about 5 seconds.
The only movies to make it from the newly considered crop were Titanic, Saving Private Ryan, The Sixth Sense, and Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. I have seen all of these movies, and none of them are my favorites. Two of the additions are extremely questionable in my mind, but with my self-proclaimed, non-expert status hovering overhead, I don’t feel comfortable specifying which ones. I’ll just give you a few hints. One was known for its breakout performance by a child actor (whose recent successes include voicing characters in The Jungle Book 2 and The Country Bears—very impressive). The other was historically inaccurate and included an excruciating song by Celine Dion. I know that soundtracks may not factor into this contest, but they should, especially when they start to cause movie goers physical pain.
So what does all this mean? Nothing. Did I waste time rambling on about a topic that signifies very little in the grand scheme of things? Of course. But if AFI executives do happen to read this (I’m crossing my fingers as we speak), and they plan on generating a new list in 2017, I urge them to spice up the voting process a little next time. They have 10 years to brainstorm, and I am always available for input. Personally, I think that they should throw some no-name voters into the mix, not unlike myself, who can make clear-headed and impartial decisions.
If we want to make a list representative of our culture, we need voters who understand that how well a movie is made doesn’t necessarily factor into how it makes us feel. I know for a fact that by the time I am a 30-something, my favorite movie will still be The Sandlot, I’m just hoping the rest of the country will catch on by then.
Spider-Man v. Pirates at the box office: There can be only one record holder, but many records to holdMay 30th, 2007
Sony Pictures Entertainment is duking it out with Walt Disney Co. over which movie now hold the record for biggest world-wide gross in in six days. Sony says its movie Spider-Man 3 is the record holder, while Disney insists its irates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is the new title holder. The former movie brought in $382 million, while thelatter reportedly took in $404 million. However, as the Los Angeles Times reports, Sony argues that Pirates’ six-day total includes receipts from early screenings in France and Italy, thus making the movie’s six-day total a seven-day total.
Disney dismisses Sony’s claim that those early showings siginificantly added to the six day total.
Spider-Man 3 still holds the U.S. box office record for an opening weekend.
28 Days Later is a fairly pointless but occasionally entertaining movie about a group of Englishmen trying to survive an epidemic that turns people into rabid man biters.
The sequel 28 Weeks Later is about an American effort to normalize Britain after the outbreak appears to have died out due to a lack of uninfected people for the virus to infect. But it unsurprisingly turns out that the virus is still kicking around and Cool Britannia again turns into Drool Britannia as the virus makes seriously short-tempered hooligans out of the relatively few remaining chaps. The U.S. troops originally dispatched to protect and aid the survivors suddenly find the virus-infected survivors to be the enemy and respond with wide-spread killing. Well-intended U.S. troops killing locals: I’m sure there’s some commentary on contemporary politics deep in there somewhere.
Or perhaps the movie’s message - which is by no means central to its heaping serving of good old fashioned entertainment - is that Europeans make a hash of everything and need the Americans to bail them out everytime (think World War I, World War II, and the Cold War). Considering that the director is Spanish, maybe one should see the infected as Franco’s cohorts, the Americans as the combined intruders supposedly there to help (a la Stalin/Hitler/Mussolini) and the survivors as the poor Spaniards caught between a rock and a shitstorm. Or maybe the message is simply that Europe’s the righteous man and I’m the shepherd and it’s the world that’s evil and selfish. But probably not.
Some other bloggers on 28 Weeks Later:
Dave at Son and Foe sees Weeks as an improvement over Days:
“although 28 Weeks Later picks up directly after the first film and remains entirely faithful, it also stands perfectly well on its own and manages to rectify almost every failing of the original.”
Scott Robinson was put off by the movie’s uneven quality:
“inconsistently great - I would be totally engrossed by a scene, and then a two second clip of the most retarded events would be shown.”
DB Light at PAWaterCooler likes it:
“The film has a lot to recommend it. Excellent pacing, interesting camera work, and marvelously evocative use of London locales. …I had a good time”
The lawsuit unfolding between adventure author Clive Cussler and Phillip Anschutzâ€™s Crusader Entertainment may be more about bruised egos than breaches of contract.
A jury ruled last week in Los Angeles Superior Court that Cussler must pay Crusader damages of $5 million for inflating book sales during negotiations for the 2005 film Sahara, while Crusader may have to hand $8 million over to Cussler for failing to follow through with the second movie they originally planned to make.
Cussler initially brought charges against Crusader in 2004, claiming that the production company lied about the level of control he would have over the direction of the film. My guess is that Cussler may have been embarrassed about the poor showing that Sahara made at the box office, pulling in a measly $68 million in the U.S. (consider first that the movie cost $130 million to make–not including promotion expenses).
Crusader of course counter-sued Cussler, claiming that the author told executives that his Dirk Pitt novel Sahara sold 100 million copies, when in actuality it sold 40 million. Considering the wealth of Cussler and Anschutz, who really don’t need to add any more millions to their bank accounts, these lawsuits seem to be more of a blame game for why the film failed so horribly.
It is no secret that adapting books into feature films has made production companies (and authors) a lot of money in the past. Crusader purchased the rights to two of Cussler’s novels with the intention of making a Dirk Pitt film series, so I included some box office sales from other popular series that were based on books:
Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone (2001): $968.6 million
Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets (2002): $866.3 million
Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004): $789.4 million
Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire (2005): $892.2 million
*That totals over $3 billion in gross sales, with three movies in the series left to make…
The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001):$860.7 million
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002): $921.6 million
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003): $1.2 billion
*And then there’s the 17 Academy Awards that the films collectively won…
Let me also mention that there are over 6,000 movies listed on the Internet Movie Database that were based on novels, with Forrest Gump (which was the highest grossing film in the U.S. the year it was released) and The Godfather to name a few. If you take a look at the list of top grossing movies of all-time, you will also recognize that quite a few of the films were adapted from books.
Cussler and Anschutz probably didn’t think they had the Harry Potter series or the Lord of the Rings trilogy on their hands, but they also weren’t expecting the film to generate an $80 million loss. Especially with stars like Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz headlining the movie.
So in closing, it appears that Cussler and Anschutz tied up the California court system for three months because the author didn’t want to admit that he wrote a lousy book, and Crusader didn’t want to admit that they produced a bad movie. In retrospect, the trial turned out kind of like Sahara did: wasteful, pretentious, and forgettable.
Bottom line: Georgia Rule confused me. I will be the first to admit that I don’t mind watching a movie without substance. I saw Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, I loved Pretty in Pink, I own several Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen films. But Lindsay Lohan’s latest project will not make my list of “favorite movies to watch when I don’t feel like thinking.” Because it tried to make me think, it tried to be deep, I think it even tried to make me cry. And it wasn’t successful.
The back story goes like this: Lohan stars as 17-year-old Rachel Wilcox, the youngest in a line of feisty, stubborn women who all come off as relatively miserable throughout the majority of the film. Rachel’s mother Lilly (Desperate Housewives’ Felicity Huffman) ships her unruly daughter off to spend the summer with her estranged grandmother Georgia (played by Jane Fonda), who resides in Hull, Idaho.
For the first half hour, the movie plays out as I initially anticipated. Rachel and Georgia clash, Rachel disrespects Georgia’s rules (hence, the title of the film), eventually conceding to them and softening a bit. With an idyllic Idahoan setting populated by barbecues and God-fearing Mormons, it appears that on her home turf, the stern Georgia will prove victorious over Rachel’s antics. (Although I doubt that washing her mouth out with soap would instantly cure Rachel’s propensity for drugs, sex, and alcohol in the real world.)
Yes, all the pieces of the predictable Garry Marshall chick flick (i.e. Raising Helen, Runaway Bride, Beaches) fall into place in the opening scenes of Georgia Rule. That is until allegations of child molestation enter the picture. Although this plot development will undoubtedly shock (and most likely confuse) viewers, it doesn’t mix well with the cheery picnic-goers bustling about in the background of what should be a serious scene.
That trend of treating somber issues inappropriately and further perplexing the audience continues on throughout the film. Take Lilly’s alcoholism for example. She goes to see her former boyfriend Simon (played by Dermot Mulroney) to ask for help with her addiction, the logical choice seeing as the town veterinarian also treats the people in Hull. (Because everyone knows that small towns in the Northwest value their pets’ care over their own.) After admitting to Simon that she has a problem and asking for a prescription, the two share a passionate kiss that seems to surprise the both of them. It surprised me too, seeing as the typical married woman doesn’t make out with her general practitioner (excuse me, veterinarian) after admitting she is an alcoholic.
This synopsis may confuse you a bit. And unfortunately, going to see Georgia Rule for yourself probably won’t solve any of that. If you insist on paying to see this movie in theaters, you have a handful of scenes to look forward to, like when Rachel warns all the Mormon girls in town that “If you call me a name - ever again - I will find all of your boyfriends, and I will **** them stupid.”
Although the movie boasts a talented cast, its script is laughable and it doesn’t help its actors in their attempt to tackle some ambitious material. I can’t criticize the acting in the film, they just weren’t given much of a movie to work with. Marketed as a light-hearted comedy, Georgia Rule delves too deep into issues and subject matter we are used to seeing on crime dramas and (unfortunately) the evening news.
I give it 2 out 5 stars, but if you need a second opinion, there are a plethora of other people who agree with me.
May 16th marked the opening of the 2007 Cannes Film Festival in France and the 60th anniversary of the prestigious event. In the past few days, Cannes has hosted countless screenings of blockbuster releases and restored classics, a highly-anticipated appearance by Brangelina, and even a mini red carpet concert courtesy of U2.
Some of the most newsworthy films slated for the festival include Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Thirteen, Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai’s English language debut My Blueberry Nights, Michael Moore’s Sicko, and A Mighty Heart starring Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl, the wife of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl. The event also hosts a variety of other works, including foreign films, restored John Wayne Westerns like Hondo and Rio Bravo, as well as a documentary on global warming starring Leonardo DiCaprio entitled The 11th Hour.
The lesser known talent appears to be overshadowing the big names in this year’s competition for the grand prize of the Palme d’Or. Moore, who won the honor in 2004 with his film Fahrenheit 9/11 has received mixed reviews for Sicko, which amounts to little more than a tirade on the quality of U.S. health care. Tim Ryan writes in his review for the site Rotten Tomatoes that Moore’s film “contains many of the same problems as his previous works: it’s a manipulative oversimplification of a complex issue.”
Ryan also deems Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Orphanage as one of the surprises of the festival. Described as a psychological thriller of the best kind, it revolves around a couple who adopt an HIV-infected boy named Simon and reside in a renovated orphanage with paranormal activity. Ryan maintains that the film, which received a five-minute standing ovation after its screening, is “a movie for which the term ‘cult favorite’ was coined.”
As one of the most renown film festivals in the world, Cannes never fails with a myriad of celebrity sitings. Brad Pitt and Jolie were of course there to promote A Mighty Heart, which Pitt produced. He also starred in Ocean’s Thirteen, the answer to Ocean’s Twelve, which grossed over $363 million worldwide. Grammy winner Norah Jones also appeared to help publicize her film debut in My Blueberry Nights alongside Natalie Portman and Jude Law. The festival wraps up next week on the 29th, with no apparent front runner as of now.
KGW reports that Netflix has moved into a larger shipping and handling facility in Salem than the one it moved into in 2003.
“Spider-Man 3″ pulled in $148 million in its first three days, setting a new domestic box-office record. In addition, the movie has also pulled in $227 million overseas, for a total of $375 million, well more than the movie’s reported gargantuan $258 million production cost.
The movie’s roll-out wasn’t just wide, but also deep. “Spider-Man 3″ ran in over 4,000 theaters in the U.S. and grossed almost $35,000 per venue.
Opinions are mixed on Spidey 3. Below is a mix of reviews by various bloggers:
It’s one of the things that hurt this movie… there are just too many characters/stories to cover in one movie. You get the sense that they were all jammed in there because at the time they thought this would be the final film and that they wanted to please the fans by sticking in all these reference characters from the comic book.
Typing this review was like pulling teeth for me because deep down, I WANTED to like it. But a bad film is a bad film and I canâ€™t help but wonder if Raimi has lost his touch.
The movie suffers from Batman Forever syndrome. Throwing more villains at Spider-Man doesnâ€™t make him more interesting. Itâ€™s always been Peter Parkerâ€™s real-life problems that made him interesting. The filmmakers could have easily gone with the conflict between him and Harry as the centerpiece of the film and left it at that.
All said and done, Spider-Man 3 is the single best film to be the third installment of a superhero franchise. That action is solid, if not more impressive than the first two movies, and the consistent tone with the other films make this a good addition to the series in a genre where sequels usually become unbearable after the second film.
Spider-Man 3 is a good movie. The characters are well drawn out, developed and engaging…
The film is at times, very funny, exhilarating and unpredictable, but it just doesn’t stir the emotions in the same way as its predecessors. Maybe it was because “2″ was so much better than the original, that I warmed to it so. With “3″, because the stakes had been raised, I sort of knew what to expect.
Our “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” is back to thrill us with an action-packed adventure that provides an even better movie experience than Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 combined.