Friday, August 31, 2012

Movie – The Bourne Legacy (2012)

There were some big questions going into this fourth movie in the Bourne franchise.  The biggest was whether people would go see a Bourne movie that didn’t star Matt Damon.  Results on that are still mixed as I write this.  It’s not doing anywhere near the box office of the last Bourne movie, but that had a built in audience.  It is tracking roughly like the first Bourne movie where people had to be convinced Matt Damon could be an action star.  One place where this fourth film is far better than the prior one is the fact that movie audiences can actually see what the hell is happening in the action sequences.  For that and other reasons, I consider this the second best of the Bourne movies.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Movie – An American Werewolf in London (1981)

As a genre, horror movies don’t do much for me.  They have to be really outstanding for me to recommend them to others.  One of the things I do like is the occasional horror movie that mixes comedy into it.  This is probably because I am a fan of dark comedy.  An American Werewolf in London is one of those films.  It takes the overused concept of the werewolf movie and turns it on its ear.  The movie still contains plenty of gore for the people who watch horror movies for that, though. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Movie – American Dreamz (2006)

American Dreamz pissed off a large part of the country when it was released in 2006.  It is a dark comedy and deeply biting satire of then President George W. Bush, then very popular TV show American Idol, and then not-far-removed-from-9/11 terrorists.  That angered Republicans, TV sheep, and people who felt it was too soon to show terrorists in movies, even if it was to make fun of them.  As you probably can guess, I was not one of the people offended by this film; in fact, I really enjoyed it.  It draws some great parallels between how we elect a President and how people vote for a TV competition winner, including the importance of image over reality.  As the tagline for the film says, “Imagine a country where more people vote for a pop idol than vote for their next President.”

Friday, August 24, 2012

Movie – American Flyers (1985)

Return with me, if you will, to the mid 1980s.  This is a time when men could have facial hair without being considered “gay” (as so many youngsters on this film’s IMDB board refer to the characters), when cycling was pretty much an unknown sport, and when the big bad Soviet Union was still a ready made antagonist for any American competitor.  The movie I speak of is American Flyers – the first film in which I ever saw Kevin Costner.  He did this movie two years before the film that made him a star – 1987’s The Untouchables.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Movie – American Graffiti (1973)

American Graffiti is probably the first “nostalgia” movie ever made about the early rock and roll era.  Even though it is set in 1962, it is really an ode to the 1950s when teens spent their evenings riding up and down the strip in their cars, listening to rock and roll on the radio.  Originally the studio didn’t even want to release the film, sitting on it for six months and requiring director George Lucas to cut some scenes, but when they finally did it became very popular.  It also received five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.  (After Lucas became big from Star Wars, American Graffiti was re-released in Lucas’ original version.) 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Movie – American Reunion (2012)

I was somewhat surprised when I heard another American Pie movie with the entire original cast was going to be coming out.  There had been four direct to video spin-offs that had seemed to suck dry whatever had been left in the tank for the franchise.  I wondered if this movie would be a big embarrassment for everyone involved.  As it turns out, it is the second best of the four theatrical movies.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Movie – American Wedding (2003)

After the success of American Pie, and the even bigger box office success of American Pie 2, the fact that a third movie was going to be made wasn’t that big a surprise.  While the second movie returned everyone from the first one, the third concentrates on just a few of the characters.  I feel that this allowed the third movie to be a little bit better than the second one because they didn’t have to waste time ensuring a dozen or so people all got screen time.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Movie – American Pie 2 (2001)

After the success of 1999’s American Pie, a sequel was inevitable.  Almost as inevitable is that the sequel would try to repeat the jokes that worked the best in the first film.  Some of them worked (i.e. actually going to Band Camp) and some of them didn’t.  The biggest difference between this film and the original is that this sequel concentrated more on the male characters.  While all the young actresses from American Pie are also in this sequel, all except Alyson Hannigan have smaller roles.  This sequel is not as funny as the first one, but it still has enough laughs for me to recommend it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Movie – American Pie (1999)

American Pie was a huge hit when it came out at the end of the 1990s.  It made stars of several of the young cast, although most of their careers sputtered out after a few years.  The movie harkened back to the tons of teen sex comedies made in the 1980s.  For a while it was hailed as the “return of the sex comedy”, although we know now how poorly that prediction worked out.  If anything, movies have gotten even tamer since then, with pretty much all of the action relegated to only talking about sex now (i.e. Superbad).  For a brief time, though, it was a great return to the brilliant stupidity of the 1980s teen comedy.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Update – Intermittent Posts

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting most every day like I had been doing.  The reason is that I just haven’t been on the computer much the last couple of weeks.  It’s summer, I’m out and about, and the thought of sitting down and writing movie reviews just hasn’t had that much appeal for me lately.  I think it was July of last year that I had a similar lull.

I wanted to let you know that I do plan to continue posting, but that those posts may follow a pattern like what you’ve seen recently – maybe every two, or even three days instead of daily.  While I could try to dash off quick reviews, I don’t think I’d be satisfied with what I was posting, so I’d probably end up taking the time to write a full review anyway.

Because I haven’t been on the computer I unfortunately also haven’t been visiting your sites.  It’s now been more than a week since I made my rounds.  With the current number of blogs I read and comment on, it takes me a steady six hours to catch up on all of them on a weekly basis.  And I’m a fast reader and fast typist.

I will continue to post on “American” movies (my current category), and I also still have reviews of The Bourne Legacy and The Expendables 2 to finish out the Big Summer Movies category.  I do intend to get caught up on your posts as well.  And at some point I will pick up my pace and get back to the old frequency.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Movie – American Splendor (2003)

The movie American Splendor is based on the series of graphic novels of the same name written by Harvey Pekar, as well as the graphic novel “Our Cancer Year” co-written by Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner.  As you will see in this movie, they are husband and wife.  These graphic novels are not about superheroes, but about Harvey’s life as a VA Hospital file clerk.  This film gets almost as “meta” as the movie Adaptation (2002).  It is simultaneously a “who is Harvey Pekar” movie, a commentary on underground comics, a commentary on the nature of fame, and an example of how an ordinary life can be just as extraordinary as anyone else’s.  Oh, and it’s also about making sure you pick the right kind of jellybean.

Friday, August 10, 2012

“American” Movies

“You have me at a loss.  You know my name but who are you?  Just another American who saw too many movies as a child?  Another orphan of a bankrupt culture who thinks he's John Wayne?  Rambo?  Marshal Dillon?” – Hans Gruber, Die Hard

The word American is in quotes in this category’s title because the next set of movies I will be recommending are not necessarily ones made by Americans, but rather ones that have the word “American” in their titles. 

I just saw the movie American Reunion, and the Olympics have been going on, so I decided it was time I did this category.  (It was one of the original 75-80 that I brainstormed in December of 2010 before starting this blog.)

Besides, the only “Canadian” movie I knew was Canadian Bacon.  (Sorry CS, Bonjour Tristesse, and others.)

One piece of trivia that spans movies, so the best place to mention it is here:  Mena Suvari had come to people’s notice in 1999 for two movies – American Beauty and American Pie.  She had a third movie coming out that same year and to capitalize on her connection to it the studio changed its title to American Virgin.  I recommend just sticking with the first two for your viewing pleasure.

As I post the reviews, I will come back and post the links to them here:


Bonus:  Here is my review of the award winning novel American Gods (posted January 23, 2011)


On to the reviews…

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Movie – Total Recall (2012)

I admit that when I heard that the Total Recall remake was going to exclude the entire Martian storyline of the original that raised a warning flag for me.  It was with some hesitancy that I went to see this latest version.  The good news is, the settings on Earth still function to create “haves” and “have nots” for the plot, just like the original.  This version of the film has some great action sequences.  In fact, the action scenes and the future world that was created for this film are the reasons to go see the movie.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hike – The Triad, Day Mountain, Hunters Beach (Hunters Brook Trail, Triad Trail, Day Mountain Trail, Lower Day Mountain Trail, Hunters Cliff Trail, Hunters Beach Trail)

View from trail between Hunters Cliff and Hunters Beach
How would you like to get away from most of the crowds in Acadia National Park, but still do a hike that combines walking alongside a gentle stream, two traverses of smaller mountains, enjoying the view from cliffs right over the ocean, and a walk along a secluded beach?  This post describes such a hike.  It is a loop hike, so only one vehicle is needed.  If you do not want to do the entire hike, I will mention a few places where you can cut it short.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Humor – The Return of Fails

Because the world has a lot of idiots and proof of this seems to eventually end up on the internet.  Here is a second sampling:

(You can see the first set of photos I posted at this link.)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hike – Sargent Mountain and Penobscot Mountain (Deer Brook Trail, East Cliffs Trail, Sargent South Ridge Trail, Penobscot Mountain Trail)

Jordan Pond as seen from the northern shore
Many people who visit Acadia National Park in Maine either drive or hike to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, which is the highest mountain in the park.  The second highest mountain, however, is almost unvisited in comparison.  That is Sargent Mountain.  It can only be reached by hiking, and even then it’s not straightforward.  On its southeastern shoulder is Penobscot Mountain.  This post describes a loop hike that traverses Sargent Mountain and summits Penobscot Mountain. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Video – Rita Hayworth Tribute

I happened to run across this tribute to Rita Hayworth and figured I’d share it with everyone.  The person who put this together definitely spent some time on it.  For those of you who may not know anything more about her than her name, she was a popular actress and dancer in the 1940s and 1950s.  She was also one of the great screen beauties.



And just to forestall any “disco sucks” comments – unless all of your dancing has been done in honkytonks, you’ve been dancing to disco music most of your life.  Disco never went away; record companies just changed its name to “dance music” and the places that played it were renamed from “discotheques” to “dance clubs”.

By the way, the video above doesn’t include any clips from her most famous performance in Gilda.  Play the video below and see what raised the blood pressure of your dads or granddads. 


I saw Gilda back in the late 1980s and let’s just say that I’ve had an appreciation for opera gloves ever since, whether it was in Pretty Woman (1990) or Shopgirl (2005).  Hmmm, perhaps this could be a future movie category?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July Movie Status

Last month I did my first ever monthly status of the movies I had seen.  It was also a half year status, but I said I would likely do these kinds of posts monthly from now on.  I received a few questions on the films last month so I will attempt to add a few things this month that people might be interested in (i.e. years, recommendations). 

The two main lists that I am taking movie suggestions from right now are the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list and a list I put together of every Oscar Best Picture nominee.  You can see those lists by clicking on these titles:  1,001 Movies; Oscar Nominees. 

So far in 2012 I have seen 242 movies that were new to me.  Among those 242 films, 90 were from the 1,001 Movies list and 39 were Best Picture nominees.  (Some movies were in both lists.)  In fact, there are a total of 207 movies among the 494 Best Picture nominees that are also in the 1,001 Movies list.  After this month I have now seen all but four of them and three of those are not available via Netflix.  The remaining one (Reds) just arrived today.