This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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2011 Family Movie Nights

As I did for movies we saw at the movies and for books I’ve read, I’m moving my descriptions of what we’ve watched on “Family Movie Nights” from one post for each movie we watched, to one per year, listing each of the movies.  So here we go, for 2011.  Yeah, I’m a bit behind.  Whatever.

  • 2011-01-02: Mama Mia! (2008) – I saw this on Broadway too.  The movie wasn’t as good as Broadway, but it was OK.  Also the first thing we ever watched on Blu-Ray. Fun Abba songs. Pretty Greek scenery. Pretty forgettable plot. Fine for a couple hours once.
  • 2011-01-16: Emma (1996) – Let no lasting impression on me at all.  I guess it was OK.
  • 2011-01-31: Heathers (1988) – Apparently an 80’s classic. Blah blah blah. I hated it. I couldn’t relate to or understand the motivations of any of the characters. At all.
  • 2011-05-15: Doctor Who: The Space Museum (1965) – One of the old 1st Doctor stories. As with all of these old stories, it is pretty slow by modern standards. But as 1st Doctor episodes go, I actually kind of liked it.

And that was the last real “family movie night” we ever had using the old way we did that. We’ve seen a few things together since then, just not quite that way. Starting whenever I do this for 2012, I’ll just list all movies I’ve seen, regardless of the venue or who it was seen with.

Oh, for completeness, in 2011 I also “kinda saw” the following movies because Alex watched them so much I eventually saw the whole things, although not necessarily in a linear straight through the movie sort of way:

  • Hero of the Rails (2009)
  • The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland (1999)
  • Mater’s Tall Tales (2008-2012)
  • Ratatouille (2007)

Heathers

Heathersposter89Released: 1988 Oct 1
Watched: 2011 Jan 31
Queue: Amy
Format: DVD

So.  Movie night.  It is a thing we used to do before we moved.  Maybe someday we will do it again.  But of course I still haven’t posted about the ones we did in 2011.  Oops.  Anyway, Amy’s movie was Heathers.

This is apparently a classic.  I’d never seen it before.

I hated it.

I couldn’t understand why any of the characters did any of the things they did.  I had no sympathy for most of them.  Most were repulsive in one way or another.  It basically made no sense to me at all.  I just couldn’t relate to or understand even a single character in the whole thing.

Amy and Brandy of course liked it.

And that was that.

Emma

Released: 1996 Aug 2
Watched: 2011 Jan 16
Queue: Brandy
Format: DVD

Another bit of catching up since I am not at home.

I have no memory of watching this movie at all.  So I guess I thought a lot of it.  I really should write these things less than a year and a half after I watch something.  Oops.

Reading the description on Wikipedia rings a few bells though.  I now remember a few bits and pieces of the movie.

It was OK I guess.

But obviously it left no lasting impression on me.

After this, we’ve actually only had two more family movie nights in the intervening year and a half.  We obviously got out of the habit with everything else that has been going on in that time.

We should get everything set up again and start doing it again someday.

Maybe this summer.  We’ll see.

Mama Mia!

Released: 2008 Jun 30
Watched: 2011 Jan 2
Queue: Amy
Format: Blu-Ray

So it was Amy’s turn, and she’d gotten this movie for Christmas or her birthday or something. I forget. Anyway, this was actually the first (and actually only to date) movie we’ve actually watched on Blu-Ray. Anyway, this was her pick. My mom was visiting at the time, and the day before had actually married Brandy and I, so I guess watching this movie with Amy, Alex and my mom was kind of our honeymoon movie. Kinda? Maybe? No? OK.

Anyway, I’d seen the musical of this on Broadway years earlier. I think with my friend Kathy, although I don’t really remember for sure. The broadway version was corny but fun.

I think the same pretty much applies to the film version.  Light hearted.  Fun Abba songs.  Nothing too serious.  I’m thinking the play version might have been a bit better actually.  But whatever.  This is basically just a fun summer movie sort of thing (which we watched in the winter, but whatever).

Oh, and some of the greek scenery was really cool looking in full HD.  That aspect of watching this as a Blu-Ray rather than in ED like you get on DVDs was indeed pretty cool.  But I’ll be honest here, in most cases the difference doesn’t really matter that much.  I’m not sure it is worth paying a lot more for unless it is something specifically all about the visuals.  But it is certainly better quality than DVD and any streaming I’ve seen.

Doctor Who: The Keys of Marinus

Released: 1964 Apr 11 – 1964 May 16
Watched: 2010 Dec 28
Queue: Who
Format: DVD

So, continuing working our way through the old Doctor Who’s. We are always watching the oldest available story we haven’t watched yet. So while we have watched some Second and even Third Doctor stories, in the mean time they keep releasing more First Doctor stories. So here we are back with the First Doctor.

The most interesting thing to me about this story are the echos, or should I say foreshadowing (well, perhaps if it was intentional) of the much later 4th Doctor Key to Time stories.  In both cases the Doctor and his companions are on a quest to collect the “keys” which when brought together will enable a tool of great power.  Or something like that.  There is a different adventure associated with finding each of the Keys.  The endings are somewhat similar too.

Anyway, otherwise this was an OK First Doctor story I guess.  I’ve never been a big fan of this Doctor though, so I’m not sure that is much praise.  It was OK.  It was better than some others.  I’m still eager to get past these early episodes up to the episodes from the Fourth Doctor and beyond though. We have a ways to go though, especially if we keep going so slow that they release more older episodes faster than we watch them.  :-)

The Endless Summer

Released: 1966 Jun 15
Watched: 2010 Dec 20
Queue: Owned
Format: DVD

I think this DVD had been a gift at some point in the past.  Maybe from my friend Ron.  It seems like the sort of thing he might give.  In any case, it had sat unwatched for a few years, but its turn had finally come and we all sat down to watch it.

If there is anyone who hasn’t heard of this, it is basically a documentary following some surfers on a round the world trip to find new and different places to surf.  They wander around, they go places, you get a few minutes of glimpsing the locals through the eyes of Americans who really know very little if anything about where they are or the people there.  And then they surf for awhile.  And then they go somewhere else.

From what I understand, this movie was somewhat significant in surf culture, and many of the places they went where surfing had not been common became places where many people would travel to surf.  That’s nice I guess.

From the point of view of someone watching in 2010 though, the whole thing took on a comedic tone, simply because of how absolutely dated everything seemed, both in terms of things like cars and clothes and the like, but also in the attitudes of the narrator and the surfers.  I guess 45 years or so really does make a big difference.

It seemed a bit slow by modern standards too.  It just sort of rolled along, with no sense of urgency or getting to the point.  Which I guess maybe was the point.

God, the Universe and Everything Else

Original Release: 1988
Date Watched: 2010 Dec 11
Queue: Owned
Format: DVD

So, it was time to watch something that we owned but had never gotten around to watching.  This time in specific it was a DVD Amy had accidentally purchased at some point.  Oops.

Anyway, this is just a TV roundtable that aired in the UK in the 80’s.  A moderator, Arthur C. Clarke, Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking discussing a variety of topics from the Big Bang to the origin of creativity.

As these sorts of things go, it was a somewhat interesting discussion, but a little dry and slow.  It also was noticeably dated, what with being more than two decades old at this point.  I tried to pay attention to what they were actually saying, sort of as a bit of a time capsule of the times and the nature of our knowledge of the topics discussed at the time, but I think Amy and Brandy were mainly just amused by the whole thing.

Anyway, kind of interesting to see these three personalities having a chat, but overall probably not really worth the hour unless you are a completist wanting to see everything these folks ever appeared in.  And admittedly, I am a Sagan fan, but if I wanted to see Sagan, I’d be much better off watching some Cosmos.

Doctor Who: The War Games: Disk 2

Original Release: 1969 Apr 19 to 1969 Jun 21
Date Watched: 2010 Nov 25
Queue: Who
Format: DVD

Time for another Doctor Who, and this time it is finishing up the last story from the Second Doctor, The War Games.  We started it back in August with Disk 1.

Picking up the story, it turned out that the Second Doctor and his friends had ended up in the midst of war games where humans were plucked out of time and were fighting each other as part of some nefarious alien plot, while thinking they were still fighting the wars they had been plucked out of.

In this second disk the action moves from within the war games themselves to the alien headquarters.  The Doctor goes back and forth with the menacing aliens, along with the one person working with them who is actually from The Doctor’s own people.  All this plot stuff though is basically all just to set up the ending though.  This is the last Second Doctor story.

So basically, at the end of the main part of the adventure here, the Doctor realizes that the only way to undo the mess that has been caused is to call his own people into the situation, to have them clean things up.  Of course, there is the problem that he is a fugitive from his own people.  Basically, the Time Lords have a policy of non-intervention in the affairs of other people.  The Doctor chafed under those restrictions, stole a Tardis, and then traveled the universe getting involved with things interfering all the time (to make things better).  As such, he was an outlaw.  In any case, calling in the Time Lords mean that the Doctor himself is caught.  He is given a quick show trial, then is sentenced to a regeneration (although they didn’t call it that yet) then exile on Earth.  (His companions are made to forget all but their first adventures with the doctor and are put back where he picked them up.)  And thus ends the Second Doctor.

The regeneration at the end…  well, the start of one, you don’t actually see the transformation into the Third Doctor, is the main point of interest in this whole adventure.  Otherwise it is a bunch of running around, although it has a few funny Second Doctor moments.

Oh, and Amy and Brandy were really amused at the faces some of the bad guys made as they hypnotized people at various parts of the story.  That was indeed funny.

Tron

Original Release: 1982 Jul 9
Watched: 2010 Sep 12 to 2010 Sep 13
Queue: Sam’s
Format: DVD

So, I’ve recently moved from going through my queue in the order things were originally added to the queue, to picking randomly what will be next.  But I make exceptions when there is a particular reason to watch something sooner rather than many years in the future.  In this case of course Tron: Legacy is due to come out this December, so to prepare we all had to watch Tron.  I think I last saw Tron in the theaters when it first came out.  Most likely with my dad.[[[ jml]

V ?

That last bit was Alex.  He liked Tron.

Anyway, Tron.  This is of course one of those classic geek movies.  At the time it seemed like it was just so cool visually.  Watching it now, it just looks so cheap and basic.  There was of course actually not that much CGI in the movie.  Wikipedia says less than 20 minutes.  The rest is just made to look like what people thought CGI should look like.  And Sark?  What’s up with the paper things on his head?  It looks like something somebody’s first grader cut out or something.  Of course, this was great at the time I guess.  But it just shows how fast these kinds of things move.  It will be interesting to see what they do with the new movie.

Then of course there is the actual plot, which honestly just doesn’t make much sense.  Well, I mean, OK, if you back up a bit from it, it is just your standard quest thing once you get into it.  They are on a quest into the enemy’s territory to destroy him with an object that he is vulnerable.  Hmmm, Tron as Frodo?

Bottom line, it was fun to watch in a nostalgic kind of way, or to prep for watching the new movie.  But I’m not sure it really holds up as a stand alone movie.  It just sort of seems dated and quaint.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Original Release: 1937 Dec 21
Date Watched: 2010 Aug 30
Queue: Sam’s
Format: DVD

So it was my turn, and more specifically, for every other one of my turns, it is time for another movie from the 100 Years 100 Movies list.  I’ve been working my way from #100 down to #1.  So here we are at #49, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

This is a classic and all.  First full length animated feature.  One of the earliest major pictures in color.  Etc, etc.  If I had seen this movie before, it would have been when my age was in single digits.  I certainly did not remember it, other than some of the iconic clips I’m sure I’ve seen over and over again.

Anyway… NOTHING HAPPENS.  This is almost a 2001 like experience, but with songs.  If you put together the parts of this movie were something was actually happening, it would be something like 10 minutes long.  In between you just get LONG musical segments.  Some of them really seem to go on forever.  For me, especially the ones with Snow White herself singing.  Something about her voice, well, I guess that would be Adriana Caselotti‘s voice, really grates on me.  I like the “Heigh-Ho” song though.  And I guess it is fun to watch them clean the house and all that.  But this time it was me (rather than Amy) who got to the end of the movie and was saying “REALLY?  THAT’S IT?  REALLY?”

Amy also pointed out a number of differences between this and the Grimm version.

Earlier, when Snow White was about to eat the Apple, there was this exchange:

Amy:  She is so stupid!  Even the birds know not to eat the apple!

Sam:  Well, there is a reason she is not called Snow Bright.

She really is incredibly stupid.  Oh well.

And shouldn’t it be “dwarves” anyway?