Holy cow. Harry Dean Stanton, rest well and be remembered.
Harry Dean Stanton, the veteran American actor who ballasted generations of independent and cult films, has died aged 91.
Holy cow. Harry Dean Stanton, rest well and be remembered.
Harry Dean Stanton, the veteran American actor who ballasted generations of independent and cult films, has died aged 91.
Listen to that voice. Who is it?
Maaaaaaybe THIS GUY?
Fan reactions at Digital Spy are undecided as to who the voiceover is, but I think it’s Benedict Cumberbatch. I recently watched a rerun of Graham Norton where Cumberbatch was encouraged/goaded/genially forced to say things in different voices, including a very funny bit of Smaug.
BONUS: Benedict Cumberbatch can’t say “Penguins” which is very awkward considering he voiced a heroic wolf who helps save the Penguins of Madagascar in the new animated feature out this weekend.
EXTRA BONUS FOR PEOPLE WITH LADYPARTS OR A THING FOR SMAUG: Sexy Smaug voice is deployed.
After watching the trailer, I’m pretty sure that the voice is Cumberbatch’s, even though he gallantly responded “No comment” to Graham Norton’s persistent questions.
Not too long ago, I got an email from Amazon:
We’re pleased to announce that the Amazon Associates program is again open to residents of the State of Illinois. We’re now able to re-open the program because the Illinois State Supreme Court recently struck down legislation that had forced Amazon to close the program to residents of Illinois. Amazon strongly supports federal legislation like the Marketplace Fairness Act that’s now pending before Congress, which is the only constitutional way to resolve interstate sales tax collection issues.
Well, now. It seems like I have to re-apply if this email is to be believed. I should have done something about it before Christmas, but given the way I’ve been reading books on my iPad Kindle app lately, it might not be a bad idea to explore this.
some time later, after refreshments…
All signed up again, and started a basic Amazon Deals page. All proceeds will benefit St Nicholas Episcopal Church, which offers an evening food pantry twice a month and hosts a lot of AA and GA support groups (there are at least 2 or 3 meetings every single day). We’re not just a church, we’re a community (including people who wouldn’t normally set foot in a churchy church).
Long, long, long ago I used to have a bookshelf page; I’ll have to see if I can easily set that up again.
Meanwhile, after stumbling across the works of Peter Mayle (saw a movie called A Good Year) I’ve been reading a lot more on my trusty old iPad. I’ve read… 4 books in the last 3 days – they’re light, fast reads, very engaging but somehow they leave you hungry for more.
And thanks to reading about all that delicious, locally sourced Provencal food, I ended up getting hungry for something savory and hearty, which is how I was somehow inspired to make a mish-mosh of Pasta Carbonara mixed up with sauteed kale with paprika. It was truly awesome. I kind of cheated by not using bacon or pancetta… we had a big hunk of honey ham left over that needed to be used, so I diced about a cup of juicy, tender ham and some of the fatty bits and got that crisped on the edges in the skillet, and then sauteed the blanched kale in that same skillet with onions, while also doing the magical “no cream” carbonara with egg and Parmesan cheese at the same time. Both recipes are from Simply Recipes, but they were mighty in combination.
Don’t read that 2011 press blurb about Tom Cruise’s latest movie, Oblivion, if you haven’t seen the film. It gives away some of the best twists in a pretty satisfyingly twisty and stylish science fiction outing. It may show up as a link on GooglePlus; I wanted to see what had been written about the film back when the project got Tom Cruise to commit and was shocked to see that the premise and biggest surprise twist was awkwardly given away.
What I found satisfactory about the film was that I was still trying to work out the “bedrock premise” about 3/4 through the run time. I’m a long-time science fiction fan, and I’ve been disappointed before by big-action blockbuster “SF” stories that are just popcorn delivery vehicles IN SPACE.
The cinematography is both beautiful and disturbing, contrasting the dystopian Earth and the sky-dwelling utopian lives of a very effective team (Cruise’s character is a “drone repair” tech, partnered with a beautiful communications tech).
Don’t read any reviews, don’t look it up, just go and see the film and form your own conclusions. I’ll say that Tom Cruise is NOT a favorite actor or action star of ours, but my husband David and I have formed a kind of grudging respect for the work he’s done in high-tech action movies, although personally I liked “Minority Report” (based on a story written by an actual SF writer) much more than any of the Mission: Impossible movies, which are simply spectacle.
David remarked, as I was writing this, that he also really liked the movie, “even though it had Tom Cruise in it.” So don’t let your pre-conceived notions hold you back: see the movie with an open mind, and prepare for it to be blown.
Watch the film, and ponder what happens to all of human creativity and culture as you do. Think about art and music, as well as architecture and literature. Think of all the precious things that could be lost in a planet-wide cataclysm, whether we bring it on ourselves, or it’s brought upon us via some sort of deus ex machina.
Here’s the old preview from Huffington Post, which does NOT contain the spoilers in the quoted portion, but does ruin the premise if you read it and haven’t seen Oblivion. The movie turns out to be quite a bit more than the press blurb leads you to believe; see it, then come back here and tell me what you thought. I checked Twitter last night for comments on the film, and it was about 3/4 “good movie” and about 1/4 “durr, whut?” comments.
While the rapture hasn’t quite gone down yet on Saturday, the end of human civilization on Earth as we know it will have already come and gone in Tom Cruise’s newest film commitment.
My husband David and I were watching a cable rerun of one of the original-cast Star Trek movies last night, because we are nerds and thus we have no life. The official title of this movie is something long and involved: Star Trek (Insert Roman Numeral Here): The Search For Spock.
At least in our house, the official name of this movie is actually “Star Trek: You Klingon Bastard, You Killed My Son. You Klingon Bastard, You Killed My Son. YOU KLINGON BASTARD, YOU KILLED MY SON.”
It takes place on the Genesis planet, immediately after the events in the previous movie, Star Trek: KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN! which of course was a sequel to the very first Star Trek classic-cast movie, Star Trek: VEEJUR NEEDS SPACE GUITARS.
In like fashion, the only way I can remember the Star Trek movie that follows ST: YKBYKMS is by calling it either “Star Trek: Double Dumbass On You,” or “Star Trek: Save The Damn Whales.” You may also remember it’s the one with the antique nuclear wessel.
The one after that is either “Star Trek: Oh, God!” or “Star Trek: Uhura’s Embarasssing Fan Dance,” and the one after that is generally “Star Trek: The Last Hurrah,” or “Star Trek: FFS, Let Picard Drive Next Time, Grandpa!”
And so on. The “Next Gen” installments, being more recent, have aged a little better for me. Some of them were excellent (“Star Trek: Very Manly! Lots of Testosterone!*“), and one or two of the later ones (“Star Trek: Sexy Bald Captain’s Clone”) were stinkbombs.
The new reboot was rousing, but inevitably, in my mind it has become both “Star Trek: You Romulan Bastard, You Blew Up My Vulcan!” and “Star Trek: Sector 90210.” The newest installment, which is still in “teaser mode” is likely to become Star Trek: Sexy Hot KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN!” if the hints and spoilers are accurate.
So anyway, in spite of some serious scenery noshing mostly by Shatner, we enjoyed watching “ST:YKBYKMS.” Our affection for the characters still overcomes our dislike of the hokey plot elements. Also, this movie is the one with Christopher Lloyd doing a little “Spaceman Jim” riff when he drops into laid-back English while using his communicator screen, instead of barking orders in monosyllabic Klingon. I started watching pretty early on; the makeup on the Klingons looked pretty bad and you could see where the prostheses began on the upper cheeks.
This is also the one where the mighty Enterprise is given the space-operatic version of a Viking funeral; since Starfleet wasn’t going to refit the old gal, it seemed fitting that Kirk destroy her (with the classic destruct sequence from the old series). That’s okay, they get a shiny new one in the next movie, but not before limping home (and back in time) in that creaky old Klingon Bird of Prey with the rather useful cloaking device. Oh, that reminds me; the next movie after this one also goes by “Star Trek: Everybody Remember Where We Parked The Car.”)
How do you remember multiple-installment genre movies? How the hell does anybody remember all the Friday the 13th and Halloween installments? My system works for me, but admittedly it worked better when there were Shatnerisms to play with.
*Before Star Trek: First Contact was released, I distinctly remember reading an interview somewhere with Jonathan Frakes, who directed in addition to playing Riker. The interview included a tease of Frakes directing Patrick Stewart hunting Borg survivors on the Enterprise armed with a prop plasma rifle. Frakes was shouting encouragement, such as “very manly! Lots of testosterone!,” and so that is how I will always remember this movie.
Roger Ebert gave a highly positive review of “Hugo” recently:
“Hugo” is unlike any other film Martin Scorsese has ever made, and yet possibly the closest to his heart: a big-budget, family epic in 3-D, and in some ways, a mirror of his own life. We feel a great artist has been given command of the tools and resources he needs to make a movie about — movies. That he also makes it a fable that will be fascinating for (some, not all) children is a measure of what feeling went into it.
Scorsese has a cameo, too. Lots of other well-known actors are in the film, too.
When the film started, it was 2D, but the “masking” was wrong; the top and bottom of the film was bleeding off-screen. I noticed the film was digital, not 35mm. It wasn’t focused and I could see artifacts. The opening shot, cityscape of Paris. A guy got up and walked out — then returned; they fixed it. He’d gone to complain.
Ten minutes into the film, the woman next to me checks her cell for messages.
On the way out, the manager hands everyone a coupon for a free movie and apologizes about the film at the start etc.
Cheryl wanted to collect “points” on a club card and we headed back to the lobby; she wasn’t able to get credit for buying tickets when the system was down; cash only. While there, we chatted to the ticket girl, and she told us about a co-worker who’d arrived one night to attend a movie. During the movie, someone used their cell phone — so she slips out of the theater, changes into her Cinema-plex uniform in the staff room, goes back and tells the woman to TURN OFF her phone. Then leaves to change back into her street clothes, and resumes her seat in the theater to watch the rest of the film!
Sadly, we’ve had moviegoing experiences like this before, but happily, not tonight!
The movie is magical; every performance is pitch-perfect. The two young people are breathtakingly good. The secondary characters, denizens of the Montparnasse train station according to the review on IMDB, are all wonderful, quirky, charming, or all of the above. The music is lovely. The camera work is thrilling (the swooping, flying shot through the station that opens the movie deserves 3-D and seats that face the center of the screen straight on as ours did). The embedded story of the history of film, of Cinema with a capital C, is handled sensitively and movingly.
And we didn’t watch it in a grubby multiplex nearest us that’s full of cardboard cutouts of future bad films and raucous packs of adolescents bent on disrupting every screening they wander into.
No, we decided to give something called “iPic” a try, at a shopping center a little farther out that’s located in an area that was empty farmland and meadows a few years ago.
We hadn’t been out that way in a few years – somehow they plopped an upscale “outmall” or two out there not far from the Sears home office area. Now I really hope Sears doesn’t up sticks and move, because all these other businesses and restaurants have located out there.
But I digress.
The iPic near us was… amazing.
We walked in and decided to talk to a staffer at the front desk rather than our usual move of opting for the touch-screen kiosk. Good thing, too; we got a few dollars off for taking a free membership, and we’ll have to remember to either book tickets online with our membership, or buy them at the counter. It was more like making an airline reservation, because after she explained the difference in the seating (there was either premium leather seats, or super-deluxe premium with recliners, pillows, and blankets with concierge meals).
We opted for “regular” premium; they were only showing the 3-D version of “Hugo” so we selected the seats the counter staffer suggested – at pretty much the optimum distance for viewing the screen straight on and centered. David never really likes 3-D, but I found this one movie to be crisply and cleanly rendered, with no fuzzy edges or stray “rainbows.” The depth of field was interesting, and more than one shot was clearly planned with 3-D in mind.
There’s one extreme close-up of Sasha Baron Cohen that looks like his head is about to land in your lap… but it’s a very emotional yet subtly played shot. It had to be, because the medium picks up every eyelash twitch.
Still, some of the effects were both very beautiful and effective with the enhanced depth.
As we watched the movie unfold, I was aware of several things: my seat was VERY comfortable. It was quiet in the theater – there weren’t that many people, but I sensed that people were really wrapped up in the movie. Afterwards, we walked out through the bar (BAR!) past the big fireplace (FIREPLACE) and through the restaurant (RESTAURANT). I stopped off in the ladies’ room, which had slate floors, upscale washbasins, and thought how it would not look amiss in a trendy restaurant. Then we walked out, seeing where Santa had been earlier with a photographer (SANTA WITH A PHOTOGRAPHER) by the second fireplace in the lounge/conversation area (INSERT ALL CAPS SUPERLATIVE HERE).
Yes, it was expensive. We were definitely paying premium, but with this membership thing we saved enough to bring it more in line with what we normally pay.
It’s definitely worth it to never have to deal with the packs of noisy adolescents that infest the closer, cheaper theaters. I don’t think they’re going to be willing to pay the upcharge, and the theater staff will have a vested interest in seeing they don’t disturb other patrons.
There are plenty of nice restaurants in the “outmall” near the theater, too. We’ll be back. For one thing, it was nice seeing a movie, that so clearly is a love letter to cinema, in a modern movie theater that is so beautifully designed.
We’ll definitely be back.
One of the best reasons for seeing the newest Muppets movie is for the ‘where are they now?’ treatment they get – some are doing better than others; Miss Piggy is doing pretty well and looking fabulous in pink Chanel in Paris. There are many, many truly laugh out loud moments, and many more “Did they really say that?” chuckles. We’ve decided we’ll have to go see it again later, or be sure to get the inevitable DVD with all the goodies, just to catch all the juicy gags that were hard to catch in a packed theater.
The Muppet franchise is revitalized with “The Muppets,” a funny, wickedly self-aware musical that opens by acknowledging they’ve outlived their shelf life. There’s some truth in that observation; this is the first Muppet movie since “Muppets From Space” (1999), and there wasn’t exactly a clamor for a revival. Yet for those who grew up with the Muppets, they had lovable personalities and (shall we say?) character defects.
What’s rather canny about this revival is that it sidesteps the fact that some younger viewers may not actually be very familiar with the Muppets.
Their parents will be the fans. The movie opens with the Muppets disbanded; their movies and TV shows are all in the past. They’ve moved on. Miss Piggy, we discover, became the editor of a Paris fashion magazine.
Yes, and it’s the ones that are not doing that well that add poignancy to the story – it’s not been a happily-ever-after for some of the secondary characters. That the human characters (and one new Muppet character) do seem to inhabit a perfect little small-town universe just makes the gritty “reality” that much harder for them to accept. And they decide to do something about it.
The movie keeps delivering laughs… hours later, we’re still cackling: “Maniacal laughter. Maniacal laughter! MANIACAL LAUGHTER!”
I’ve given in to Last.fm, as I found that it was easy to add a widget to scrobble tracks I’ve listened to on iTunes or via Last.fm (it’s not working for the internet radio stations I listen to on Winamp). So far, I’ve listened to random things, and something I created called “The Muppets Radio.” It’s made for some interesting audio moments, which eventually led to Monty Python and something wacky called Moxy Fruvious. It’s high time I opened up to new music… I’m hoping it’ll help me dare to be a bit more productive and creative around here.
If you stumble across the blog after a long time away, you’ll see there’ve been a lot of changes. I’m giving a more modern WordPress theme a try… flirted with WooThemes, but found that their otherwise nifty WooTumblog plugin, paired with the Express for WordPress app for the iPhone really only works with Woothemes – all other themes require some modifications. The default Twenty Ten theme was the only example given for how to get it working; I had it working for a while with my previous theme, Amazing Grace, but it stopped working after the most recent WordPress version came out.
So, I decided to try the latest default theme, called Twenty Eleven. However, it was completely different from the previous default theme, and the instructions for getting WooTumblog configured were nowhere to be found. In fact, there was some indication on the support forums for WooTumblog that the latest version of WordPress kind of indicated that it would be harder and harder to integrate it into any non-Woothemes template.
Meh, I had played around with it from the iPhone, but it didn’t really make my blogging any easier from there. So I bailed on it (especially when an adjustment I tried to make to get it working totally broke my website. Buh-bye).
That said, I went all in with the new default theme, but still wanted a three column layout.
- 8 premade color schemes
- 6 new layouts including 3 different 3 column layouts
- Nivo Slider added to header with several options to control the look
- Option to resize the header
- Support for excerpts with post thumbnails
- Second menu above the header
- Sidebar on post pages
- Area to add your own custom CSS that will not be overwritten with an upgrade
- Google Font selector for most areas
- Built in related posts under each post with on/off option
- Superfish dropdown menu effects
- Custom Twitter, Flickr, Author Biography widgets
- Plain text to URL support(just type a url in a post, no need to create a link)
- WPPageNavi template and style support
- Color options for all menu areas
- All code is well commented
I didn’t really start working with it until yesterday, but it has plenty of flexibility for the kinds of color, graphic, and font tweaks that you might make to adapt a default theme. I’ve already added my normal CSS drop shadows – nice not to have to add it to the stylesheet, this theme has a custom CSS box where you can add it and it supposedly won’t get messed up in an upgrade. I’ve also added about a dozen custom banners that are taken from my own pictures – easy as pie, much simpler and more striking than the way I was doing it before. I may still fool with the Flickr badge in the right column.
There’s still some things to tweak but this is a pretty good start. And it’s been pleasant to listen to Last.fm come up with variations on “The Muppets” as a radio station, and see the music get added to my left side bar. I’ve also been listening to Radio Riel, my standby, which WON’T scrobble from what I can tell – via Winamp and http://www.radioriel.org.
More later, headed out to see “White Christmas” at the Marriott Lincolnshire.
We saw Kung Fu Panda 2 yesterday, and it was a joy to see a sequel that extended the original story so seamlessly and with such generous emotional satisfaction. Ebert liked it too, but thought the 3-D version detracted. Based on that assessment, we saw the “normal” 2-D version, and liked it very much indeed:
“Kung Fu Panda 2” is exactly as you’d expect, and more. The animation is elegant, the story is much more involving than in the original, and there’s boundless energy. I enjoyed it as fully as I possibly could, given the horror of its 3-D. The original film, in 2-D wide-screen, was just fine. But never mind. Hollywood has brainwashed us or itself that 3-D is an improvement and not an annoyance.What’s best about this sequel is that it’s not a dutiful retread of the original, but an ambitious extension. Of the many new elements, not least is the solution of the mystery of how Mr. Ping, a goose, could be the biological father of Po, a panda. In the original film, as nearly as I can recall, every character represented a different species, so I thought perhaps inscrutable reproductive processes were being employed. But no, Po’s parenthood is explained here, and it has a great deal to do with new developments in the kingdom.
I spotted at least 2 Easter eggs or visual jokes – there’s a Pixar reference (this is a Dreamworks film) in a fight scene along a city street (watch out for the signs, Po!) and there’s an old-school gaming reference immediately afterwards that made me gigglesnort uncontrollably. I was already laughing hysterically when at the beginning of the “stealth mode” sequence, Po truly takes on the role of the Dragon (you will, too), but the sequence built on the laughs to a level that was just pure, childlike delight.
Yet the fight scenes were also intense, although true cartoon-animal violence is handled senstitively. The exploration of Po’s backstory brought me to tears late in the movie, where only the reel before I was laughing or chuckling most of the time.
The antagonist this time out, played by a sinister-sounding Gary Oldman, is a royal peacock with parental issues who seems to have mastered the “war fan” style of fighting using his magnificent Chinese-style tail plumage. His encounters with Po are amazing to watch.
In fact, all the animation is just jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and there are flashback sections that are told in a simplified visual style that evokes Chinese water colors. The opening and closing credits are beautifully rendered “Chinese cut-paper puppet” scenes.
Jack Black owns the panda, who’s really come into his own as a skilled warrior (who’s still a plushy looking panda after all). And there’s just a touch of “skadoosh” too.
Highly recommended – we saw it at a matinee and there were a ton of kids, so think about going later when there might be more adults willing to be seen at a “kids’ movie.”
DAMMIT, I seem to be fresh out of minions. This did not stop us from seeing “Despicable Me” in 3D or D3 or whatever. #fb
Steve Carell: Strange Accents And Subtle Departures : NPR
We’re halfway through the summer, and Toy Story 3 and Shrek Forever After have already come and gone. This weekend marks the release of the latest animated kid flick, Despicable Me. It’s about a fellow named Gru — who’s trying very hard to be the world’s biggest bad guy.
TV and movie star Steve Carell (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, NBC’s The Office) provided the voiceover for the film’s protagonist, a top-heavy supervillain with a very unusual accent indeed. Carell says that Gru’s bizarre diction — a “kind of pseudo-Eastern European” thing — came from minutes of inspiration, rather than months of fine-tuning.
“It was always in that realm,” Carell tells NPR’s Liane Hansen. “We just figured that that sounded sort of evil, yet comical at the same time.” And he’s proud of its elusive, nonspecific quality: “I don’t think anyone can really determine what accent I’m doing in the movie, which was my choice, of course.”
One of the accent’s biggest fans is Carell’s 6-year-old son, John, who particularly fell in love with the way Carell’s Gru pronounces “light bulb,” the actor says. (It’s a recurring gag in the film.)
“We’ll be watching TV or doing something and he’ll lean over and say, “Daddy, say ‘light bulb,'” Carell laughs.
It was on account of this interview that we ended up seeing the movie this evening at the nearby Barrington 30 (yes! 30 screens of the same crap, at different times!). I’d been napping half the day and having really weird dreams when I finally woke up and was remembering this interview, and then remembered we’d also seen the trailer for the movie a couple of times and that it had looked funny. So David checked out tickets online for a 3D showing, and off we went.
Half an hour or maybe 40 minutes after the official start time, the commmercials, previews, and “Appropriate for All Audiences” trailers were finally over and the movie began. We’d had to dig our fancy 3D glasses out of the “recycle your glasses here” bin because the theater couldn’t be bothered to provide a couple of staffers to hand out “sanitized” glasses and give the illusion of “never used” to the special, uber-nerdy glasses. I will say that the 3D effect (they call it realD) is crisp and not distracting, with no fuzzy red/blue borders around everything as was the case with the Monsters vs. Aliens movie we ended up seeing a few months back with our niece Melissa. When something is in perspective, it’s got depth, but it’s not stupid looking. The roller-coaster scene at the “happiest place in the universe” is a wild ride, for example, but the most pivotal scene in the development of Gru from bad guy to dad guy takes place after the ride. It’s so FLUFFY!!
You can see all the trailers at the official Despicable.me website…
It’s a fun movie; there are some funny sight gags that only adults will get (read all signs, for one thing). Also, I’m not sure but I think there’s kind of a “nyah-nyah” visual pun on Pixar’s famous logo in one scene – and at least one of the character animators used to work there according to IMDB.
Afterwards we went to the “Lucky Monk” restaurant, which is in the old “Brass” location and is apparently run by the same owners. They’ve remodeled the space to add more, smaller tables – they took out the big central booths and also took out the former buffet area that was only used for weekend brunches. It looks like they’ve either enclosed the brewery works, or taken them out completely, although they still claim to make some of their own brews. No matter, we were both very happy with our big, tall burgers (mine with Tillamook cheese, yum!) but also the fries were excellent and the iced tea brewed strong. Nice meal, glad that the restaurant is there as it’s very handy for the movie-going crowd.
Our server told us that it’s under the same ownership as the former Brass, so I wouldn’t characterize it as “the restaurant that went under” as so many did on Yelp, more of a “re-set and re-do” since the location is can’t-miss. They’ve stripped down their “fancy cuts of meat with fancy sauces” American-style menu to a “burger, pizza and brew” type menu that is probably easier to make a profit with (and no more expensive ingredients aside from a few signature items).
Our waiter brought us a free pretzel with Dijon honey mustard butter as a first-timers gift, and it was perfect: crunchy, buttery smooth crust, piping hot and tender insides. There were big salt crystals, but the dipping sauce melded perfectly. MMM….. but it was on the check for $2.99 and then credited with a “100% goodwill” notation. Interesting, I would have been totally incensed to pay $2.99 for ONE pretzel, so it seemed like the regular pretzel serving was probably more than one. But it was delicious and I’d be curious to know if they bring out more than one single pretzel if it’s not offered as one of those “compliments of the chef” inducements.
All in all, a nice evening. Now, where are my damn minions? They need to clean up around here…