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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2001: A Space Odyssey

OK, so I can’t begin to mention how far behind on my “reviews” for both “Family Movie Night” and the ones we have actually gone to the theater for.  Many months behind.  Of course, that only means five movies.  But since we revamped our home entertainment center a couple of weeks ago, we have been speeding up again, so I need to catch up.

Anyway, a bit ago, as I said, several months, it was Brandy’s turn for Family Movie Night, and her movie was 2001: A Space Odyssey.  She had originally picked this with the intent that we would watch this in time to watch 2010 on New Year’s Eve as it turned from 2009 to 2010.  Now, I’m behind, but not that far behind.  We didn’t actually get to this until the Spring sometime.  Oops.  Anyway.  2001.

This is a movie which is of course known for its visuals and music, and the fact that not all that much actually happens plot wise.  Amy had not seen it before.  So the main thing to talk about here is her reaction.

Basically, she sat through the whole thing, enjoying the music and the visuals and all that, but just waiting for things to start happening.  Of course they never did. She oohed and ahhed at the appropriate places.  But then it ended.  Her reaction when something like this:

WHAT?

WHAT??

WHAT WAS THAT?

WHAT JUST HAPPENED?

IS THAT IT?

REALLY??

How long were we sitting here?  REALLY?  THAT’S IT?

YOU ARE KIDDING ME!!!!

WHAT WAS THAT BABY DOING?

I WASTED HOW LONG ON THAT??

REALLY?

Of course, she had seemed to be enjoying it just fine before it ended.  And of course, that was before the credits.  There were lots and lots of credits still to go after that.  And then even after the credits ended, the music continued for several more minutes.  Somehow we convinced her to stay to the very end.  But still, nothing happened.

It was most amusing.

From my point of view of course, I really like 2001.  It is a very different kind of movie of course.  For the first 20 minutes and the last 20 minutes, you just sit back and let it roll over you.  For the middle portion, you think about HAL.  It is fun.  It is an experience.

It is not of course the kind of movie you watch when you want action.  Or a real plot.

But it is an experience that is definitely worth watching at least once a decade.  :-)

Braveheart

So, as usual it is several weeks after the fact, but a while back Braveheart came up as the family movie night movie.  I really should write these sooner after the fact, as my memories are already fuzzy.  In general though I liked it.  It was a good movie.  Engaging.  Kept my attention.  All of those sorts of fun things.  It did after all win a bunch of awards, so I guess that is not too horribly unexpected.

What did annoy me though was afterwards going and reading a bunch of Wikipedia articles about the various historical characters in the movie and seeing just how far off from historical truth the movie is.

You see, I know when you make a historical movie (or novel, or whatever) you need to flesh it out and fill in all sorts of gaps not actually captured by the historical record.  You need to make it interesting and entertaining.  You have to match some sort of narrative structure.  You may include tons of stuff for which there is no historical proof.

But these should be things that COULD have been true.  Things that add and fill in gaps.  But not things that directly contradict known historical fact.  See, if you are going to do that, just change all the names, use made up countries and places, and call it straight out fiction.  Not historical fiction, just fiction.  Nothing wrong with that.  Tell a good story.  It can be great.  But then don’t pretend the story is actually about William Wallace who lived from 1272 to 1305 and then give him a love interest with Isabella of France who lived from 1292 to 1358 and who didn’t come to England until after Wallace was dead.  And don’t make King Edward I die during the course of events here who actually lived after that.  Don’t completely change around the timeline of when Robert I of Scotland did various things.  Etc, etc, etc.  It seems various people have called this thing one of the most inaccurate historical dramas ever made.  The kind of things they have done here would be comparable to making a movie about the American Revolution where Washington died heroically in battle, Franklin became president, and Lincoln showed up to save the day.  It might be great fun, but it wouldn’t even remotely be related tot he real history.

OK, now I kind of want to see that movie with the Washington/Franklin/Lincoln SuperFriends.

I guess having said all of the above, it was a fun movie…  as long as you don’t get hung up in any of the bit about it being “based on a true story” or learning about anything interesting from a historical basis.  It is just fiction.  They should have used made up names and places.  But it was a good fun movie.  Lots of violence of course here.  It is about a war of course.  It is known for the battle scenes.

Wild Child

So, we finally started doing video nights again after not having done one for awhile, and it was Amy’s turn.  Her movie this time around was Wild Child.  This is a 2008 teen girl oriented movie.  Misbehaving rich girl from California gets sent to boarding school in England.   From that one sentence you can probably guess exactly the entire plot of the rest of the movie, and you would most likely be right.

Lets see….  culture clash between the new bad girl and the boarding school girls.  Conflict ensues.  But through a series of events the girls find they can relate after all, and the boarding school girls learn a bit from the new girl, and the new girl learns a bit from the boarding school girls.  Oh, and of course there is a romantic interest, and a few people to act as advisories.  In the end the bad girl learns a lesson about friendship and humanity and they all live happily ever after.

Yeah, pretty much that.

Brandy was groaning and asking when it would be over almost from the very first scene.  I didn’t mind it that much.  I thought it was actually kind of amusing.  No depth of course.  No surprises.  Nothing super interesting.  But yet amusing.  It killed a couple of hours.

If your teenage girl wants to watch this, it won’t kill you.  But otherwise, if you are not yourself a teenage girl, you can very safely skip this.

House: Season One: Disk One

Still catching up on things we watched for family movie night.  It was time for a DVD we own but hadn’t watched yet.  It would have been the next Buffy DVD, but Amy had taken that and watched it without the rest of us, so it was invalidated.  So I picked at random from the shelf of such things, and so it was House: Season One, which I’d gotten for Christmas this year.  Specifically, Disk One of Season One, which has the first four episodes.

The most interesting thing here was the first episode, which was the pilot.  It was interesting of course because many elements were just not quite fully formed yet.  The visual style was a bit different.  And of course the characters were still in a sort of proto-form compared to even the later episodes on this disk, and definitely compared to later seasons.  So that was fun.

I actually don’t think I’d seen any of these episodes before.  I’ve watched House a decent bit, but I think I picked it up a couple seasons in.

Aside from the pilot which was just slightly different, the rest was just typical House though.  It is fun to watch and I enjoy House, but the episodes do almost always follow a pretty strict structure.  House is of course an ass to everybody throughout, although there are occasional lurches forward in his character.  There is some melodrama amongst the supporting cast.  And then there is the medical mystery that they get wrong several times before coming to the right conclusion in the last act.

This disk has the episodes “Pilot”, “Paternity”, “Occam’s Razor” and “Maternity”.  As I said, I think the Pilot is most interesting just because it was the pilot.  After that Maternity was the most compelling, just because of the babies.

Anyway.  Good disk.

Next!

Doctor Who: The Romans

So, I am way behind on these, but there is no time to catch up like the everpresent now.  Way back a long time ago, we had another family video night thing.  It was another old Doctor Who.  This time The Romans a First Doctor story from 1965.

This was a fun story because it actually tried to be somewhat funny.  People running around, missing each other, that sort of thing.  Just a lot of goofing around.  So, for a First Doctor story this was pretty good.  I mostly enjoyed it.  And we got to see how the great fire of Rome happened.  (It was of course the Doctor’s fault.)

Four episodes, 25 minutes each.  Probably would have been more than fine with half of that.  But you know, that’s how old Doctor Who is.

I’m still anxious to hurry up and get to late 70’s and early 80’s Who, but we’re going through these slowly enough that they keep releasing more of the older ones before we get to the newer ones…  so we’re still often in the 60’s, although we’ve made occasional forays into the early 70’s.

Equilibrium

The last movie night was a Brandy movie.  The movie is Equilibrium.  She couldn’t remember having actually added this to her queue and said she had never actually even heard of the movie.  She thought maybe she added it just because it had Christian Bale in it.

The best description of this thing is an attempted rip off of The Matrix combined with the 1984 Commercial from Apple.  Basic plot is that there is a Big Brotheresque government (except it is “Father”) that has used drugs to eliminate emotion from the populace in order to avoid war, etc.  There is a sort of police force that enforces this.  One of them misses his meds one day, then decides to fight against the system.  The usual sort of hijinks ensue, with a predictable final result.

This was not a good movie.  At best it was a distraction for a couple of hours.  There were some parts that were unintentionally amusing.  The big final battle thing was pretty anti-climactic.  There were lots of plot holes.  Etc.  But you know, whatever.

Brandy wanted to stop watching at a certain point in the movie where they started shooting puppies.  But we didn’t stop, we kept going.

I dunno.  I didn’t hate it.  But it is definitely forgettable.  And there is definitely no need to ever see this again.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

bcatskSo, at the last movie night it was once again one of my movies. It could have been someone else’s turn, but they hadn’t returned their movies.  So it was my turn again, and also it was once again time for one of the AFI 100 Years 100 Movies list movies.  This is #50 on that list.  Slowly but surely, we work our way toward #1.

Anyway, Brandy hates westerns, so this was never going to be a favorite of hers, and I was lucky to get her to watch it at all.  Amy actually seemed to like bits of it, but was not happy about the ending at all.

As for me, it was a little slow, but a decent way to spend a couple of hours.  And of course I ended up curious about the actual historical Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid and ended up reading a bit about them and related subjects on Wikipedia.  Not during the movie though, that would be wrong.

Anyway, the movie is somewhat amusing, and has some nice scenery and such while the pair are on the run.  Worth watching if you have some time to kill, but I’m not sure I’d put it on a Top 100 list of my own or anything.  It is just OK, not great.

Doctor Who: The Rescue

Doctor Who: The RescueFirst of all, let me just say I was sloppy and to get the timelines right, I should have posted this immediately before the picture of Amy in the Star Trek shirt instead of immediately after.  I didn’t bother looking at the timestamp on the picture, and misremembered when it was taken.  Oops.  Anyway, nobody will care other than me, so let me move on…

We got to a Family Movie Night thing after having taken a couple weeks off while we had guests in the house.  It was once again time for an old Doctor Who.  This time it was a First Doctor story called The Rescue.  This is a short little story,  only two short episodes.  It is basically a transitional episode where a new companion is picked up.  So there just really isn’t much to it.  The arrive somewhere.  Figure out the mystery.  Then when they leave they take the orphan teenager from the future with them on their further adventures.

There was a sad part where one of the crew kills a poor innocent monster thing.  They were scared.  They shot it.  Turns out it was friendly.  Oops.

And that’s about that for this.

There was nothing horrible about this story, and it was short.  Which is much better than the ones that are basically OK, but last far longer than they should.  This one was actually paced decently enough.  Two short episodes for a total of 50 minutes was still maybe a little longer than it needed, but it wasn’t so far off that one got annoyed.

Well, at least I didn’t.

Doctor Who: Inferno

dwInfW250So, back on July 17th I posted that we had watched this. I posted that it was Disk One and has the first four episodes, and the remaining 3 episodes were on Disk Two.  Well, as it turns out, when we finally got Disk Two, it just had extras.  Turns out the first disk had all seven episodes, and I had just missed an item marked “next” on one of the menus, so I prematurely sent back the disk and posted about it.  When I discovered this I was of course distraught because this means the system we had used to pick movies had been distorted and wrong since July, since we hadn’t ACTUALLY watched this…  at least not completely.  Anyway, in the end it just meant we needed to watch it again, and this time watch the whole thing.

Inferno is a Third Doctor story from 1970.  I think it is actually one of the better third Doctor stories actually.  As with all stories from this era, it goes on a bit long, but in the mean time it is actually interesting.  Well, and funny in the usual probably not meant to be funny but how can you not laugh at the man with all the extra hair stuck all over him fighting with the green goo?  I mean, green goo!

The main interesting part is of course the alternate universe versions of various characters and seeing how they differ from the original universe.  Not quite up to the level of Mirror, Mirror over on Star Trek a few years earlier, but the same kind of deal.

Anyway, decent, at least for a Third Doctor story.  And Amy and Brandy mostly managed to stay awake.  I can’t wait to get to Fourth Doctor stories.  Of course, while I remember them fondly from my teenage years, I anticipate I may find they don’t age all that well.  Oh well.  I’m still looking forward to them.  But if we are ever going to get there, we need to pick up the pace a bit!  They keep releasing new early Doctor stories faster than we end up watching them.

Shine

Shine_ver1This last week’s video was one of mine again.  Specifically Shine from 1996.

Bottom line on this one is that Brandy was bored and fell asleep. I thought it was OK but nothing special, and Amy surprised all of us, and herself, by really liking it.

For me, I thought the beginning was really slow, but it build up nicely.  I started enjoying it right about the time the guy actually just snapped at a performance.  It is definitely one of these slowly simmering movies where things just gradually happen and it is more about the atmospherics than the plot.  It is not about watching things happen, it is about trying to instill a certain set of feelings.

Honestly, it didn’t pull on my hearstrings as much as many other movies.  And the “triumph” was lukewarm at best.  Yes, he came to some level of success despite his illnesses, but he wasn’t cured or anything, and his story was still overwhelmingly a sad one.

Oh, and yes, this is based on a true story, although there is a decent bit of controversy about how much really reflects reality, and how much was fictionalized, etc.  But that is normal for this kind of film I guess.

Anyway, nice little movie.  It won lots of awards.  Personally, I didn’t find it all that memorable, but good enough for a weekend evening.