Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Video – When Jennifer Met Jack (Nicholson, That Is)

This was a fun post-Oscars moment.  Watch what happens when Jennifer Lawrence gets some praise from Jack Nicholson for her Oscar-winning performance.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The 37,412th Post on the 2013 Oscars…or, “Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?”

There's got to be a morning after
It's 9 AM and the 2013 Academy Awards ceremony ended a long time ago.  Normally I get my post up within an hour of them ending, so why am I doing it so late this year?  Because at around 10:00 PM my entire house went black.  There I was watching the Les Miserables cast finish their big number and boom, no power.  There had been a winter storm here and apparently the heavy, wet snow was finally too much for a tree branch and it came down across a wire.  (See the bottom of this post for the bright side of this storm.)  I didn’t get power back until around 5 this morning.  I ended up finding out who won along with everyone else waking up this morning.  Oh, and also seeing Jennifer Lawrence trip.  The poor woman is literally going to have that clip shown the rest of her life.  I saw it four times in the space of 10 minutes as I flipped around channels to find out the winners.

Argo won Best Picture.  No one movie emerged as the big winner.  Things were even more spread out than last year.  Life of Pi received four Oscars.  Argo and Les Miserables received three apiece.  Django Unchained, Lincoln, and Skyfall won two apiece.  Every Best Picture nominee received at least one Oscar, except for Beasts of the Southern Wild. 

Seth McFarlane took nearly 20 minutes for his opening.  It was hit and miss.  He tried to have his cake and eat it too by doing a recurring skit where Captain Kirk (Shatner himself) comes back from the future to prevent McFarlane from ruining the Oscars with crass humor.  We then see the rude sequences and McFarlane corrects his errors by doing something classy. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My 2013 Oscar Predictions

The Academy Awards ceremony is this Sunday, February 24th at 8:00 PM EST.  It is on ABC.  Check your local listings. 

I’m posting this list so you can either be amazed at my overall movie knowledge, or so that you can laugh at me for being wrong.  Hopefully it’s more the former than the latter.  My goal is more than 50% correct, with a hope of 75% (18 of 24 categories), although that may not be realistic.  I got 14 out of 24 (58%) last year.  I got 16 out of 24 (67%) two years ago.  Good or bad I will do a follow-up post on how I did.

Here is the complete list of nominations in all twenty-four categories.  What I would pick is highlighted in yellow.  No highlight means I have not seen any of the choices.  What I think will win is in bold.  I will also say if I think my choice is a lock, likely, educated guess, or wild-ass guess.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

TV and Book – Game of Thrones Season 2

The second season of Game of Thrones is based on the novel A Clash of Kings – the second book in the ongoing series titled A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin.  Please note that this review of the second TV season and book contains spoilers for the first TV season and book.  If you have never seen this show and would like a spoiler-free overview of what it is about and why you might want to watch it, please read my review of the first season and book here.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Movie – Flight (2012)

Flight received an Oscar nomination for Denzel Washington’s performance as an alcoholic airline pilot that miraculously saves almost everyone on board when mechanical issues arise.  It also got a nomination for Best Original Screenplay.  In both cases the people nominated face uphill battles if they are going to win.  Regardless of this, Washington gives one of his best performances in years in this film.  He’s really the reason to see it.  He even manages to overcome an ending that does a lot to harm all the good things the film had done up to that point.  I will discuss my problem with the ending in a well marked spoiler section, so you can skip over it if you have not seen the film.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Movie – Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

In my recent review of Django Unchained I wrote that I’m not a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino’s films and that while I’ve liked most every one I’ve seen (2007’s Death Proof being a big exception), I’ve never loved them quite as much as many others have.  I have almost exactly the same regard for Wes Anderson’s films – like, but not love.  And just as with Tarantino’s Django Unchained, I found Anderson’s latest film Moonrise Kingdom to be my favorite of the movies he has done so far.  It has an engaging story of young love and rebellion, but with events shown from the perspective of adults, too.  This film will likely end up in my Top 10 of 2012.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Movie and Book – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

The first Hobbit film was the movie I was most looking forward to in 2012.  It did not come out until December, so that made for a long year, movie-wise.  When it did come out I found it to be entertaining, but a notch below the heights that the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) films had achieved.  This is entirely in keeping with the relation of the books to each other, though.  The Hobbit was written by J.R.R. Tolkien for his children, while LOTR was written for adults.  Gandalf, for instance, is a much more serious character in LOTR than he was in The Hobbit book.  People going into this film looking for another LOTR may come out a little disappointed.  However, if you go in looking for a lighter tale of adventure then I think you will be pleased by it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


This blog just passed 100,000 views.  Sure, that’s not a very big number compared to sites that have boobs or cute cats (or both) on them, but it’s pretty good considering that I don’t do any promotion via social media.  (No Twitter.  No podcasts.  I’m not even on Facebook.  Yes, I’m a caveman.  Other than having to shave four times a day, it’s not a bad life.) 

With this in mind, I’d like to thank everyone who takes the time to visit, to comment, and especially those who share a post they like with their friends.

I wrote the following as part of my 25,000 views post.  I’m reprinting it here (with new pictures) for those who were not around back then.

Those of you with high six figure, or even seven figure, numbers of visitors to your movie blogs – here’s an exchange from the 2011 film Friends With Benefits that puts things into perspective for all of us.

(A woman is trying to convince a man to take a job she has lined up for him):

Jamie Rellis – “This is a huge opportunity Dylan - Art Director of GQ magazine.  This is the big leagues.  I mean, no offense to your little blog on the internet.”

Dylan Harper – “Which got six million hits last month.”

Jamie Rellis – “I could put up a video of me mixing cake batter with my boobs and it will get eight million hits.”

Such is life in the blogosphere…..

By the way, on the subject of sites with boobs or cats or both on them, here’s a blatant attempt to increase traffic.

Humor – Valentine’s Day and One Sided Relationships

Today is Valentine’s Day.  (At least one person reading this just said “oh shit!”)

Love is great when it’s mutual.  The two of you have fun embarrassing those around you with public displays of affection.  The phrase “get a room” is one you are very familiar with.

What about those unfortunate souls that are in a relationship that is, shall we say, one sided?  You put your love out there and get nothing back in return.  The following video is for all of you, to let you know that you are not alone.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Movie – Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall is the third of the Daniel Craig Jason Bourne movies.  Wait.  That should have read James Bond, not Jason Bourne.  (Since the reboot it’s become almost impossible to distinguish between them.)  This Bond outing was much praised by critics, and as a big fan of the real Bond movies I was looking forward to it.  I found it to be an entertaining film, although still of the “shut your brain off and eat popcorn” variety.  They do finally toss a bone or two to the fans who know that Bond existed before Daniel Craig started playing him, so that was good.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Movie – Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Wreck-It Ralph is the last of the five films nominated for Best Animated Feature that I saw, and it turned out I saved the best for last.  It is head and shoulders above the other nominees, and not just because Ralph is nine feet tall.  In fact, it might make it into my Top 10 films of the year.  It represents some nostalgia for people like me who played lots of video games in the 80s, as well a lot of really great humor even for the people that won’t get any of the references to real games.  To use a gaming metaphor, it is a winner.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Blizzard of 2013 – Now That Was a Storm

Remember William H. Macy’s character The Shoveler in the 1999 film Mystery Men?  Well that was me today – minus the outfit.  I spent four straight hours shoveling, then roof raking (see pic below if you don't know what that is), then shoveling some more.  I figure I moved roughly 1,800 cubic feet of snow in that time (that’s 14 cubic meters for the folks on the metric system.)  I don't even want to think about what that works out to in pounds (or kilograms).  I’m going to be one hurtin’ puppy tomorrow.

You may be asking, “Why the heck did you do that Chip?”  Well, you see, Friday and Saturday we had this snowstorm come up the coast, stop right on top of us, mate with another snowstorm coming in from the west, and they dumped about a trillion baby snowflakes on top of us before moving on to harass Atlantic Canada.

Now picture feet of snow up there
The national news was covering it, but from all that they showed, the storm only hit New York City (where they work) and Connecticut (where they live).  There was an occasional mention of Boston.  Anything outside of Boston is apparently either non-existent or irrelevant to them.  Guess who got as much or more snow as the three areas mentioned on the news?  That’s right, southwestern Maine where I live.

The forecast was for as much as two feet of snow.  Friday we were only supposed to get 2-4 inches before the storm really kicked in around Midnight.  Well, I had 4 inches of snow on the ground before Noon.  The part of the forecast where it was supposed to snow several inches an hour throughout the night proved to be correct, though.  (For the folks who do not live in snow country, one inch an hour is a serious storm.  We got up to five inches an hour at times during this one.) 

It wasn’t just the snow, but the 50 mile per hour sustained winds, with hurricane force gusts that made this storm so interesting.  In fact, this blizzard was basically a snow hurricane.  Here is what I woke up to Saturday morning.  These are drifts up against my second story bedroom window (there is a sloping roof a few feet below).

It continued to snow throughout Saturday.  Here are the drifts just an hour and a half later.  By the way, I'm already well over the two foot forecast with several hours to go.

Sunday dawned beautifully, with the sun shining down on all the new snow.  When I went outside to look, here is what I found.  I have my driveway plowed; there’s no way I’d try to clear a 400 foot driveway, even with a snowblower.  By the way, I don’t have any before the storm pictures, but I basically had no snow on my property prior to it hitting me.

It was tough to tell how much snow I got because of the drifting, but the path in to my front door looked relatively level with the rest of the lawn, so that seems to be as good a guide as any.  The snow was between 3 and 4 feet deep there.  I’ve lived in Maine my entire life, and am not a stranger to winter storms, but that’s a lot of snow even for me.

After clearing my mailbox I started on the path to my door.  Here are the before and after pictures of my front entrance.

I’m not done yet, though.  I’ve got to have a path to my other entrances, so around the porch and down the side of my house I go. 

That's just the beginning of the sunroom.  I've got to go around it, which starts with the rest of the side by this first door I cleared.

Made it around the corner.  Guess where I’ve got to go next.  Yup, right through 40 feet of the deepest snow drift.

I added the shovel to give a sense of scale

Who was the idiot that had them put the second door as far as possible around the circumference of the sun room when it was added on?  Oh wait, it was me.  Never mind.  I caught a break here. The wind had left "only" two feet of snow on this side.

Two hours in and Phase one is complete!

I didn't take any pictures of the roof raking (Phase 2) and the subsequent shoveling of the snow brought down from the roof that filled in the doorways with several feet of snow again (Phase 3).  I just wanted it to be over and didn't feel like going back inside to get the camera a couple more times.  You may be wondering why I cleared the doorways and paths if the roof raking was just going to undo all that work.  I did it because I didn't want to trudge through waist deep snow while doing the raking, and because when it comes off the roof the weight of it seriously compacts the snow when it hits, making it very heavy to shovel.  Any snow that is under where it lands also gets compacted, so that's why I cleared the steps beforehand.

Finally, as much of a workout as I got from the shoveling, the hardest part was the roof raking.  With shoveling at least you can use your legs and back to help.  With roof raking it is all arms and wrists and even an aluminum rake gets really heavy when you've got it out to its full 18 foot length, lifting it way above your head, dropping it into feet deep snow, then pulling as hard as you can to move that mass of snow towards you until it drops off the edge.

There's supposed to be a storm coming in tomorrow, but it might change over to rain after a couple inches of snow so hopefully I won't have to shovel after that.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Movie – Searching for Sugar Man (2012)

Searching for Sugar Man is nominated this year in Oscar’s documentary category.  It is about the quest of a couple of South Africans to find an American folk singer that by chance had become massively popular in their country.  Much like the doc Anvil: The Story of Anvil (2008) these filmmakers shift events around and leave out some key facts, all in the name of making a more entertaining movie.  Despite this, it is not a complete fabrication and it does have a satisfying arc for the viewer.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Ranking the 2013 Best Picture Nominees, Plus Some Observations

I have now posted reviews for all nine films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.  I am not done yet.  I intend to write reviews for those films I have seen that received other Oscar nominations, and that I would recommend.  Look for reviews of Searching for Sugar Man, Flight, ParaNorman, Moonrise Kingdom, The Hobbit, Wreck-It Ralph, and others in the future.  You can read my previously posted reviews for nominees The Avengers here, Prometheus here, and Brave here.  You can read my comments on Snow White and the Huntsman, a film I didn’t recommend, here.

In the meantime, here is how I would rate the nine Best Picture nominees from best to not quite the best.  I have also included how these films are ranked according to the Rotten Tomatoes critics (RTC), the Rotten Tomatoes audiences (RTA), and the IMDB voters. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

On Silver Linings Playbook and the Continued Use of the Word “Slut” [no spoilers]

This was originally part of my Silver Linings Playbook review, but I separated it into this post both to leave my review a manageable size and to better emphasize here what I am trying to communicate.  If you are looking for my review of the film itself, you can read that here.

In Silver Linings Playbook Jennifer Lawrence’s character is referred to as a “slut” or “slutty” multiple times, even by her own character.  In fact, the film tries to say that she has a mental illness because of this behavior.  Since when did wanting and liking sex, and being honest about wanting and liking sex, become a mental illness for women?

As a man it always pisses me off in movies when some men are portrayed as molesters or rapists who simply haven’t gotten a good opportunity to attack yet.  For the same reason I don’t get why women stand for seeing members of their gender being called “sluts” in movies just because they have sex.  Even worse, some women not only don’t protest this, they perpetuate the use of the term that denigrates their own gender.  Yes, I’ve seen some men called “sluts”, but it is almost always in a joking manner, not a judgmental one.  (Actually, a phenomenon I’ve noticed in the last few years is men being called “perverts” for liking sex.  This film even does it.  It makes no more sense than calling a woman a “slut”.  That’s a discussion for another day, though.)

You might be thinking, “It’s not that she had sex that makes her a ‘slut’; it’s that she had a lot of sex.”  Well, “a lot” to one person is “not enough” to another.  Annie Hall had a funny scene dealing with this.  In fact, the truest definition I ever saw for the word “slut” is simply “someone who has sex more often than you do.”  In other words, before you hypocritically call someone else a “slut”, be aware that your behavior makes you a “slut” in the eyes of someone else.  Yes, even if you have been married forty years, have sex only with your spouse, once a month, in the bedroom, under the covers, with the lights out, someone out there thinks this is “slutty” because you are doing it for a reason other than producing children. 

If you think about it, we are all voyeurs, we movie watchers.  We sit in the dark for a couple of hours, peeking through a window into the lives of people that do not know we are watching them.  Personally, I think that’s why some viewers are made uncomfortable by sex scenes in movies – because it strongly reminds them that they are voyeurs.  I think people should take a long look in the mirror before they next try to judge someone else for their interest in sex.

Frankly, I’m sick of the term “slut” being thrown about in movies and real life.  It’s long past time for the attitude that women are not allowed to enjoy sex to be put to rest.  The world would be a lot better place if when two single people wanted to have sex with each other, they had sex with each other, instead of trying to repress it and taking their frustration out on the people around them, especially those that choose not to repress their natural feelings.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Movie – Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Before seeing Silver Linings Playbook I had already heard that it was getting good word of mouth from people who had seen it, and that critics liked it, too.  Now that I have watched it I understand the former, but not the latter.  It is a romantic comedy/drama, a genre that movie goers tend to like, but that critics tend to dislike.  And when you get right down to it, other than the mental illness angle, this is a pretty conventional movie for the genre.  In other words, there’s nothing really that different about it to make it more understandable to me why critics like it.  Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed this movie.  Then again, I tend to like movies in this genre, so that doesn’t surprise me.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Movie – Lincoln (2012)

Everything about Lincoln the movie (aka “LtM” to distinguish it from the man) screams “quality”.  You can see it in the performances, in the sets, in the costumes and makeup, and in the dialogue.  In addition, it’s about an Important Topic.  If you weren’t sure from the subject matter, the fact that well known actors and actresses appeared in this film in roles much smaller than usual showed how important they felt it was.  Finally, it has a stellar Oscar pedigree among the people who made it (more on that in a bit.)  With all these things going for it, it is no surprise to me that it received more Oscar nominations this year (12) than any other film.  Despite all of this, and while I think it is a good film, it ultimately did not grab me emotionally as much as I thought it would.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Movie – Django Unchained (2012)

I’m not a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino’s films.  While I’ve liked most every one I’ve seen (2007’s Death Proof being a big exception), I’ve never loved them quite as much as many others have.  It’s understandable then that I went into Django Unchained with interest, but without any real expectations.  It turned out that I liked the film a lot.  It is far more entertaining than it has any right to be.  In fact, this may be heresy to fans of Pulp Fiction or Kill Bill, but I consider Django Unchained to be the best film Tarantino has done to date.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Movie – Argo (2012)

As I write this review Ben Affleck has just won the DGA’s Best Director award for Argo.  This adds to Affleck’s and the film’s wins at The Golden Globes, the PGA awards, and the SAG awards.  The only major guild it failed to win an award from was the WGA. Hollywood loves movies about themselves.  Just last year the Best Picture Oscar went to The Artist which was about the start of the sound era in Hollywood.  To add even more to Argo’s plus side, the Hollywood people get to be heroes in the story.  All of these wins and the characteristics of the film have combined to push Argo to the favorite position for winning Best Picture at the Oscars.  And all of this despite Affleck not even getting an Oscar nomination for Best Director. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Movie – Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Beasts of the Southern Wild is the first full length screenplay and film from writer/director Benh (not a typo) Zeitlin.  It stars first time actress Quvenzhane (also not a typo) Wallis.  Both of them know how to start big because they were nominated for Oscars in all those categories.  (Zeitlin shares the screenplay nomination with Lucy Alibar who wrote the play this film is based on.)  In addition, the film itself is nominated for Best Picture.  The best chance for any of them to win is probably in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, since people will likely want to reward the film in some way and this category is often used for that purpose.  The film, although quite interesting, is unlikely to topple any of the much more lauded nominees for Best Picture.

Friday, February 1, 2013

January Movie Status

We interrupt the regularly scheduled set of 2013 Oscar nominees’ reviews to bring you the following monthly status post:

I saw 57 movies in the month of January, plus two TV series, plus one movie re-watch.  I spent more time on trying to see Oscar nominees and 2012 films this month, so my 1,001 Movies numbers are a lot lower than other months.  I concentrated on those two groups because I am currently reviewing the 2013 nominees, and because when I do my Top 10 of 2012 list shortly after the Oscars are handed out I want to have seen as many possible candidates for the list as I can.

Currently, the two main lists that I am taking movie suggestions from 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.  This month I finished off the Oscar Best Picture nominees of the 1970s.  In fact, not counting the just announced 2013 nominations, I have no Best Picture nominee newer than 1966 left to see.  I have only four entries longer than 2 ½ hours left to see from the 1,001 Movies list, but right now I am toying with the idea of leaving the longest (The Decalogue) for my final entry on the list.

I also spent a week trying out Letterboxd and rating 5,200 of the films I’ve seen that I was able to find.  I’d like to thank Retrohound for giving me an invite.  When you get a chance, check out his site.  You are likely to find a piece of memorabilia from your childhood there.  He also reviews movies from time to time.  Having now used Letterboxd, I can see why it is still in Beta.  Its biggest flaw is the database resource it uses for movies and casts is limited for the lesser known films.  Still, it is interesting and I have continued to visit it after that initial week of doing ratings.  If you’d like to visit me on this site you can find me here:

Here are the 57 new movies I saw in January.  Highlighted movies are ones to which I would give at least three stars out of five.  I will single out the four and five star films, as well as the worst films, in the paragraphs below the lists.

1,001 Movies (20): Deewaar (1975), Time Regained (1999), The Burmese Harp (1956), The Mirror (1974), Shanghai Express (1932), The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933), Revenge of a Kabuki Actor (1963), Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (1953), Archangel (1990), Ossessione (1943), Rome, Open City (1945), Paisan (1946), Pather Panchali (1955), Aparajito (1957), The World of Apu (1959), Mon Oncle (1958), Playtime (1967), Soldier of Orange (1977), Man of Marble (1977), Solaris (1972)

Oscar Nominees (11): Ship of Fools (1965), The Emigrants (1971), Heaven Can Wait (1978), Fanny (1961), Elmer Gantry (1960), Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Les Miserables (2012), The Alamo (1960), Lenny (1974), Life of Pi (2012), Amour (2012)

Other Movies (26): Looper (2012), Trouble with the Curve (2012), Red: Werewolf Hunter (2012), 3 Idiots (2009), Dirty Girl (2010), Twilight of the Ice Nymphs (1997), Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957), Pitch Perfect (2012), ParaNorman (2012), Compliance (2012), Jack & Diane (2012), Talhotblond (2012), The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (2009), Liberal Arts (2012), Searching for Sugar Man (2012), Farewell My Queen (2012), The Queen of Versailles (2012), The Paperboy (2012), Butter (2012), Premium Rush (2012), Arbitrage (2012), Frankenweenie (2012), Frankenweenie (1984), She Gets What She Wants (2002), Lovelife (1997), Far from Home (1989)

Re-watches (1): The Boondock Saints (1999)

TV Series (2): How the States Got Their Shapes, Archer Season 3

I had one new five star film in January.  Several movies showed up on the 2012 year end IMDB Top 250 that had never been on a year-ending list before.  One of those was the Indian film 3 Idiots (2009).  It is a mix of comedy and drama (more the former) set in an engineering college that tries to just fit everyone into the same mold, and one student who refuses to be like everyone else.  I laughed a lot at this film.  The humor in it is both highbrow (references to classic 1950s Indian cinema) and lowbrow (apparently a good fart joke is universal).  It’s not all laughs, though, as the film also shows the pressure these students are under.  Finally, it’s all wrapped up in a mystery story as three friends from college try to find another friend that has been missing ever since they all graduated ten years earlier.

My four star films were Elmer Gantry (1960), Life of Pi (2012), and She Gets What She Wants (aka Slap Her…She’s French) (2002).  Elmer Gantry features a great performance from Burt Lancaster as a man who truly has the gift of gab.  He uses it to insert himself into a traveling religious revival show where he brings in the sinners, probably because he is one himself.  It’s a really good movie about the business of religion.  I just reviewed Life of Pi as part of my 2013 Oscar nominees’ posts.  You can read it here.  She Gets What She Wants is a movie where a popular beauty queen gets All About Eve’d by a French foreign exchange student…except it's set in high school, it’s a satirical comedy, and there’s more to the exchange student (Piper Perabo) than meets the eye.

With 57 movies watched in January, I did see my share of stinkers.  Once again the worst were courtesy of the 1,001 Movies list.  Time Regained (1999) is for the people who find Proust too straightforward.  The Mirror (1974) is the kind of film that makes no more sense with subtitles than without…which of course makes it crack cocaine for film critics.  It shows up on many Best Movies lists.  Archangel (1990) is the kind of film where a rain of bunny rabbits doesn’t stand out as being any weirder than anything else in the movie.

(We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming, already in progress).