Browsing Tag: Movies


    What’s the big deal with Citizen Kane?

    August 11, 2011

    You know how sometimes things get built up so big that they have no shot at meeting expectations? Well, that’s happened with me and Citizen Kane.

    Never watched it. But for years I’ve heard friends, family and movie gurus talking about what an amazing movie it is. So, I finally got the DVD from Netflix and just watched it.


    Yes, really. I mean, sure, I can see that there was a lot of innovative techniques used for a 1941 film. It’s definitely eye-catching at times. But the story???


    Aside from the fact that I figured out what “Rosebud” was almost as soon as that became the movie’s primary mystery, I agree almost entirely with the negative criticisms that are found on the movie’s Wikipedia page:

    Boston University film scholar Ray Carney, although noting its technical achievements, criticized what he saw as the film’s lack of emotional depth, shallow characterization and empty metaphors. Listing it among the most overrated works within the film community, he accused the film of being “an all-American triumph of style over substance.” The Swedish director Ingmar Bergman once stated his dislike for the movie, calling it “a total bore” and claiming that the “performances are worthless.” He went on to call Orson Welles an “infinitely overrated filmmaker.”

    Similarly, James Agate wrote, “I thought the photography quite good, but nothing to write to Moscow about, the acting middling, and the whole thing a little dull…Mr. Welles’s high-brow direction is of that super-clever order which prevents you from seeing what that which is being directed is all about.”

    I disagree with Bergman’s comment about Orson Welles, but everything else is spot on. Wayyyy overrated movie.


    Movie Review: Avatar

    January 12, 2010

    You really should go see AVATAR. Preferably in 3D. It’s probably the most stunningly gorgeous movie I’ve ever seen, certainly one of the top 3-4 in that category.

    Just, when you go, pay no attention to the storyline. It’s really dumb and predictable and basically a rip-off of Pochahontas or Dances With Wolves. And it’s disappointing because the core concept is pretty clever and I just think so much more could’ve been done with the idea.

    So … on a scale of 1-10, it’s about a 5. Not sure what it says about the public’s taste that this is the second highest-grossing movie of all-time. We’re easily amused, I suppose.


    UP and the Academy Awards

    November 18, 2009

    Up movie posterJust like they did last year with WALL-E, Disney/Pixar is pushing UP for “Best Picture” at the Academy Awards. They even have a nice web site pimping UP and all the other Disney/Pixar movies they feel are deserving.

    Only thing is, unlike last year when WALL-E was robbed, I don’t think UP deserves it this year. It’s a good movie, but not a great movie. (My review.) I kinda feel about UP the same way I felt about CARS after seeing it the first time. I’ve actually come to like CARS a lot more since watching it on DVD a few times … so maybe Santa will bring us the UP DVD this year and I’ll feel the same way?

    That would be nice.


    How come there’s no Thomas Edison movie?

    September 8, 2009

    edisonIf you’ve read chapter 2 of The Big Switch by Nick Carr, you’ll know some of what I’m talking about here. That chapter is all about Thomas Edison and the electrical inventions he led, as well as the battles he fought over the business side of electricity, and so much more. I thought I knew something about Edison until I read that chapter, and now I’m left wondering … why has there never been a major movie telling this story?

    (Note: This is a blog post that I began well over a year ago and am only posting now.)

    As the story in Carr’s book goes, Edison was inspired by a trip through the Rockies — on seeing the Platte River he thought there should be a way to use electricity to harness the river’s power. Edison became focused on how to produce large quantities of electricity, how to transmit it safely into the home/office, how to make it usable for lighting, how to measure the amount of electrical use (for billing purposes), and how to make money doing all this. Within two years, he and his team had developed a new type of lightbulb, blueprints for a central generating station, and a way to get the power from the station into the building to power the lightbulb.

    He formed the Edison Electric Company to license this system, then formed other companies to sell the products and material needed to make it happen. But Edison’s system was built to serve very small footprints — a square mile or so for each generating station. His system was good for residential areas and small businesses. But large industrial companies bought their own electrical systems to run factories — they didn’t rely on getting power from the electric company (Edison).

    Edison hired a guy named Samuel Insull as secretary and financial adviser, and Insull quickly became his main assistant. Insull helped oversee Edison’s company as it grew and merged into General Electric. Insull eventually left for the Chicago Edison Company, one of those tiny electric companies licensing Edison’s system. He grew the company and started buying small competitors, and eventually pretty much owned the Chicago electrical business. His idea was to create large electrical utilities that served mass amounts of customers, not the smaller stations Edison preferred. Insull basically created the first major electrical utility, the Commonwealth Edison Company and as more large customers (factories, etc.) signed on, he was able to lower prices and gain even more customers. (As we know now, this was the way of the future … not Edison’s vision of much smaller generating stations.)

    Edison stuck with his direct current electrical system (DC), even though it was limited in reach. Nikola Tesla developed the alternating current system (AC) which had far greater reach. When the public started to realize the benefits of AC, Edison started a propaganda war to try to convince Americans that AC was too dangerous. If you read the Wikipedia entry about this, there’s even talk of Edison employees electrocuting animals in public to show the dangers of AC! Holy $#!@#$. Tesla worked for Edison at one point, but Edison apparently reneged on a promise to pay Tesla $50,000 for help in improving Edison’s DC generating stations. When Tesla came to collect, Edison called it an “American joke.” Ouch.

    Anyway, Edison had a hand in inventing or improving the telephone, telegraph, the light bulb, the stock ticker, motion picture camera, and hundreds more inventions. He has more than a thousand patents in his name. A thousand! And, as explained in Carr’s book and even the Wikipedia entry, there’s all kinds of intrigue and compelling storylines in how all of this happened.

    So, I ask again, how come there’s never been a major Hollywood movie made about his amazing story?


    My UP Review

    June 8, 2009

    Up movie posterI didn’t blog much about UP in the last couple months, and for good reason: I was avoiding any and all trailers, previews, previews, spoilers, you name it. But the lack of posts wasn’t a sign that I wasn’t excited about the movie — to the contrary. Around the house, we were counting down the weeks and days until May 29th!

    Despite the recent health issues I’ve been dealing with, the whole McGee clan did manage to get out and see the movie right after it came out. Since both Cari and Sean don’t see 3D stuff too well, we all went to the 2D version.

    And out of the four of us, I think I’m the one who liked it the least.

    It was good, but not great. The “marriage/life” mini-film at the beginning, showing Carl and Ellie’s life together, was absolutely brilliant. One of the best pieces of Pixar movie-making I’ve ever seen. All kinds of emotion in it, and both Cari and I were crying when it ended. But the emotion didn’t carry over to the rest of the movie for me. I never connected with UP the way I did with, say … Wall-E or Monsters, Inc. or even Finding Nemo.

    For now, UP is probably in the middle of the pack among Pixar movies for me. But there’s hope yet: I felt this same way about CARS after the first time I saw that, and have come to like it a lot more on repeated viewings. Maybe the same thing will happen with UP?


    Oooooh. ‘The Kingdom’ on Blu-Ray

    March 11, 2009

    Longtime readers (AKA, my family) will remember me raving about The Kingdom last year — it’s one of my all-time favorite movies. Cari even watched it a couple weeks ago and also loved it. So there. 🙂

    Anyhoo … got an Amazon alert today about a huge Blu-Ray DVD sale they have going on, and whaddya know? They have The Kingdom for only $14.49 – nice! There’s also Iron Man, LOST Season 4, Ratatouille, and lots of others. This is way tempting.

    amazon sale