September 29, 2010

I can’t believe Lone Star has been cancelled after only two episodes!  I didn’t find the premise appealing, but the pilot was terrific.  It was one of my four favorites of the new series I’ve seen this season.  To find out about the other three…listen to Voices & Viewpoints on Friday.  Or…I’ll probably post about them soon enough…


New Computer

September 29, 2010

I have neglected my blog because I’ve been technologically challenged.  Actually, it’s just a matter of switching computers and the frustration of data migration at the same time I was trying to learn a new system.

My first computer was a Mac SE purchased in 1986.  I loved it and how efficient it made me feel!

For the last 15 years, I’ve been using a ThinkPad for work, but a week ago I came full circle and returned to the orchard to get a MacBook Pro.  I know I’m going to love it…but there is a little bit of a learning curve (actually, I typed learning “curse” first – isn’t that funny?).

Coming up soon are lots of posts on new TV shows and a web extra in which Denise and I discuss The Town and Wall Street:  Money Never Sleeps.

Consider this a preview of coming attractions

HD Comes to the Local Market on WGHP

September 12, 2010

FOX 8 leads the way today bringing HD to local news programming.  Check it out!


Wonder how long it will take the other stations to catch up.

TCM Picks of the Week

September 11, 2010

When my DVR isn’t too full (which, unfortunately, isn’t all that often), I try to scan the week ahead on HBO and TCM to see if there’s anything I just have to record.  Often, there are classic movies I’d love to see again and sometimes something that I haven’t seen but should.

Earlier today, I got around to watching Marion Davies and Marie Dressler in the silent (1928) film The Patsy.  It was fun and demonstrates well Davies’ renowned comedic talent.

I’m not recording much this week because I’ve seen some of these films recently, but I was struck by looking just how many terrific films there are to choose from.  If you’re looking for something to record and save for a rainy day (and we still need the rain), here’s my list for this week:

Saturday 8:00 p.m. – White Heat.  It’s always fun to see James Cagney in gangster mode, especially when his character is a complicated mama’s boy.

Sunday 6:00 p.m. – Pat and Mike.  Okay, so I like Adam’s Rib better, but most films with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn are worth watching.  Their off-screen chemistry sizzles on-screen, too.

Monday 6:15 a.m. – It Happened One Night.  This film catapulted Frank Capra to success as a director, is a classic screwball comedy, and (when Clark Gable peeled off his shirt to reveal nothing beneath it) caused sales of undershirts to plummet.  Lots of classic scenes to enjoy in this one…

Monday 8:45 p.m. – The Fountainhead.  Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal carried some of their on-screen chemistry off-screen…or was it the other way around?  Forget Ayn Rand; this is Hollywood.

Tuesday 12:45 a.m. – A Face in the Crowd.  If you don’t take any of my other suggestions for the week, watch this one.  Oh, my.  You have never seen Andy Griffith until you’ve seen his evil side in this film, but with its insightful and unflinching look at demagogue who uses the mass media for his own personal gain.  It seems quite timely to me.

Wednesday 2:15 a.m. – a Streetcar Named Desire. Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden..directed by Elia Kazan…written by Tennessee Williams…need I say more?

Friday 12:30 a.m. – The Virgin Spring.  This is one of my favorite Ingmar Bergman films.  It is stark and haunting but more accessible than people who shy away from Bergman might expect.

Friday 1:45 p.m. – The Pumpkin Eater.  This film is irrevocably emblematic of its time (1964) and place (England).  Anne Bancroft and Peter Finch engage in a delicate dance called marriage, and it appears that most often they are dancing to different tunes.  It’s not an easy film to watch, but it is worth watching.

Finally, we are back to Saturday.  I’m going to record Baby Doll, another Elia Kazan/Tennessee Williams picture.  This one is from 1956 and stars Eli Wallach, Karl Malden, and Carroll Baker, and I haven’t seen it in ages…but am curious to have another look.

I am so very grateful for Turner Classic Movies!

When Cable Delivers

September 10, 2010

Yes, I watch TV. I’m not ashamed to admit it with some of the good shows being produced, especially on cable. Denise and I don’t watch many of the same series, but she watches a little television from time to time, too.

Want to know what we’re watching and why we’re fans of cable?  


September 6, 2010

Okay.  I needed a cure for the Going the Distance Blues.  Wanda was not it — it’s an important film but tragic in ways that make the viewer feel as helpless as the protagonist.

Ever since I read this article in the New York Times last weekend (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/movies/29wanda.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=Wanda&st=cse), I’ve been eager to see Barbard Loden’s film Wanda.  It lived up to my expectations when I watched it yesterday morning.

Who would have thought that a girl from Marion, North Carolina would make such a striking, prescient film about the multiple vectors of oppression women from that time (1970) and a similar place could feel?  Or, who else could have made it?

I’m so glad I saw this film in all of its grainy glory.  Take a look at Wanda if you get a chance.

But, now I need something else.  I need another type of intense cinematic experience.  I’m watching Across The Universe.

I’ve watched certain scenes over again (more than once) since I first watched it in theatrical release, but not the whole film straight through.  I needed to see it tonight from start to finish.

Yes, it’s a musical (not a genre I gravitate toward automatically), but it was one of my favorite films of 2007.  Not a perfect film, but isn’t Julie Taymor an innovative risk-taker?  Yes, not a perfect film, but isn’t it romantic?  And, aren’t some of the sequences simply sublime?

At the time this film was released, a lot of Beatles purists were horrified by the thought.  I was too young to really “get” the Beatles the first time around, but this film is a fascinating exercise in intertextuality.  It gives me a sense of how some listeners (at the time) might have experienced and processed Beatles songs in terms of their own personal narratives.

It’s neither an affront nor an homage, but – instead – it’s something else entirely.  Across the Universe offers something fresh that puts the songs of the past into a different context.  It’s a lovely experiment.

And, for the most part, it works.  Also, if I didn’t say it before (of course, we both know that I did), isn’t it romantic?


September 5, 2010

It’s classified as a romantic comedy – and I guess the film is more that than anything else if we have to stick with labels – but maybe it’s because Nanette Burstein (American Teen) is known mostly for her documentary work that Going The Distance has more of an edge and a feeling of emotional realism than most genre pictures.

Maybe that’s why what was supposed to be a frothy, predictable romance has made me a little sad for two days after seeing it.  I wasn’t supposed to react this way to Going The Distance, was I?  But, I have and can’t stop thinking about certain questions.

When isn’t love enough?  It’s not enough when two people in love are separated by a continent and the bad economy (not to mention individual dreams) makes relocating too big of a compromise.  Yikes!

Sure, Drew Barrymore (loved her in Fever Pitch) seems a little old to play this role, but Justin Long has so much appeal, that I kept putting myself back into the film every time I stopped to think that they didn’t quite fit.

But I do have to wonder why wasn’t her character wasn’t written as 35 (instead of 31) and derailed by more than one failed love affair (to explain the gaps).  That I would have bought without question.

Why?  Because I cared about them as a couple.  I was rooting for Erin and Garrett from the beginning.

The screenplay is a first credit for Geoff La Tulippe, and the first half feels like a cross between a conventional romantic comedy and a Judd Apatow movie (gross guy stuff for Garrett and his two buddies, sure, but with the hint of a sensitive side for each of the trio).  The second half is something else entirely.  This couple really struggles because of circumstances that seem so…contemporary…and…so real.

I’m ambivalent about the movie overall, but it’s certainly a cut above conventional romantic comedies that are utterly predictable and unbelievably pat.  Something about this film hits me on a personal level.  I’m still rooting for Erin and Garrett, and I’m still rooting for true love.