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Month: February 2005

Of all time

After much internal debate, I’ve finished my top twenty movie list. In order of preference, even. The up-to-date list is here (cool site, by the by) but if you’re too lazy to click through:

  1. Magnolia
  2. Days of Being Wild
  3. Brazil
  4. Casablanca
  5. City of God
  6. Bullet in the Head
  7. Miller’s Crossing
  8. Crash
  9. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  10. Ronin
  11. Blue Velvet
  12. Goodfellas
  13. The General
  14. Dead Man
  15. Full Metal Jacket
  16. The Incredibles
  17. Taxi Driver
  18. Peking Opera Blues
  19. Glengarry Glen Ross
  20. The Grifters

Yeah, I like genre movies. Possibly I like guy movies too; be your own judge. Yes, Miller’s Crossing is the best Coen Brothers movie. I don’t know if Days of Being Wild is the best Wong Kar Wai movie, but it’s the best one I’ve seen — I understand that In the Mood for Love may supercede it when I finally see that, though. Crash is the best Cronenberg movie because it’s the best cast he’s ever had, although Videodrome is a very close #2.

There are indeed a lot of movies I haven’t seen.

Sleek beastie

I held a Playstation Portable in my hands today. Nothing about the experience made me any less impatient for the day when I will own my own. It is somewhat larger than the Nintendo DS, but the space is put to good use with the incredibly gorgeous and vivid screen, rather than being wasted with a (so far) useless touchscreen. The controls feel good. I did not experience the problem with the square button that many have reported. The analog stick is amazing. It’s a marvelous piece of technology.

I note with some pleasure that it is possible to transcode video for playback on the PSP. While you’ll only get about one movie per memory stick, it’s still a nice little feature.

Pretty silver discs: 2/8/2005

Hey, so it turns out they do this new DVD thing every week. Whatta bonanza. Before I get started on talking about this week’s harvest, I wanted to mention that I picked up Delicious Library over the weekend. It is awesome, although I would recommend carefully backing up your database regularly, since I lost a couple of titles in some sort of hiccup at some point. But man, is it awesome. I cataloged 360 DVDs (yeah, yeah, I know) in about two hours of lazy work. Cool stuff.

If you have a region-free player or live in the UK, check out Ping Pong. I missed this at Fantasia, but the buzz is very good. Who doesn’ t like ping pong stories?

Over here, Deadwood is the biggie. It’s the hot HBO series of the year. Timothy Olyphant is one of my favorite actors and I’m looking forward to digging into the series as a DVD set — which is how I watch most of my TV these days.

There’s also a special edition of Raging Bull which I would get if I were still obsessive about commentary tracks. There are three of them here, including one with Scorsese and one with all the writers. There’s also a lot of behind the scenes footage, including a cool-sounding shot by shot comparison of De Niro and the real Jake LaMotta in the ring. Hm, maybe I still am obsessive. You can also get this as part of the Martin Scorsese Film Collection, which meshes nicely with last summer’s Martin Scorsese Collection release. But I digress.

Stephen Fry’s directorial debut, Bright Young Things, ships this week. I missed it in theaters but heard good things; I imagine it’s worth a rental.

If you’re catching up on Oscar viewing, Before Sunset is shipping. Great movie. Me, I have to believe there’ll be a special edition at some point which will improve on this bare-bones disc. I badly want a commentary on this one.

I reviewed Robot Stories back when I saw it at Fantasia. All that stuff is still true. It’s a good movie, although not one I feel the need to own.

Finally, Warner Home Video is releasing an 18 movie set entitled, accurately, Best Picture Oscar Collection. That title kinda says it all.

Can't stop the night

Ryuhei Kitamura’s Versus has, in something more or less akin to order: samurai, samurai zombies, convicts, gangsters, mysterious women, zombie gangsters, zombie convicts, cops, and mutants. Most of them wind up fighting each other. I won’t try to list the arsenals; rest assured that if you like guns, blades, fists, or feet you’ll be happy.

There’s also rambunctiously zestful overacting. It’s pretty great.

It’s sort of hard to figure out what else one can say about this movie. It’s not that it’s plot-light — there’s a ton of plot, to the point where some of the plot kind of spills out the sides and runs down the edge until Kitamura remembers to go clean it up. It’s not coherent plot, but it’s plot. There’s also a ton of style; Kitamura loves his electronica and he really loves rotating the camera around a fight scene. The fight scenes are good. All the characters have enough cool to freeze a smallish ocean.

So it’s not that there’s nothing to talk about; it’s more that the volume of the movie is cranked so far up that it’s difficult to talk about it rationally. (“And there were ZOMBIES!”) I liked the movie from the first scene, and I knew I was in for a great ride about ten minutes in after one of the yakuza calmly conducts a science experiment. It’s a long way from perfect; the last half an hour drags a little, and the camera rotates somewhat too much. But it’s a blast of an action movie. It’s easy to see why this made Kitamura a star director (his latest movie is Godzilla: Final Wars, the last Gozilla movie for at least a decade).

Make popcorn first.


About that election — I gotta say, it looks like it went better than I thought it would. The final results won’t be in for another week or two, but the preliminary indications look solid in terms of turnout, and I’m glad for that.

In retrospect, I should have specified the necessary turnout for each major ethnic segment of Iraq; the biggest problem I see going forward is that the Sunnis stayed away in droves. I’m hearing 20% turnout. That rekindles my worries about civil war in Iraq; a lot depends on whether or not any Sunni parties are included in the governing coalition. No party won a 2/3rds majority, which is the majority needed in the National Assembly to elect a President, so there will be a coalition. Who will the members be? That’s the big question.

Meanwhile, Turkey is still nervous about the Kurds. If the coalition winds up including the major Kurdish party, chances are that the price will be more Kurdish autonomy. Turkey would really hate that.

And, finally, it’s worth remembering that Sistani continues to be the big winner in Iraqi politics. He’s the reason they’re having elections now, rather than a complex series of regional caucuses out of which would come a constitution. Also, the Shia alliance is endorsed by him personally. He’s clearly the key political figure in Iraq at this point. Hope he stays healthy.