How to Steal a Million

September 28, 2011

Audrey Hepburn Marathon, part 9 of 13

Title: How to Steal a Million
Year: 1966
Length: 123 minutes
Director: William Wyler
Writer: Harry Kurnitz, story by George Bradshaw
Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Peter O’Toole
With: Eli Wallach, Hugh Griffith, Charles Boyer, Fernand Gravey, Marcel Dalio, Jacques Marin, Moustache, Roger Tréville, Edward Malin, Bert Bertram
Music: John Williams
Cinematography: Charles Lang
Editing: Robert Swink
I saw it: on video a couple days ago, rented from Netflix
Synopsis: an art forger’s daughter needs to steal a faked statue from a museum

My reaction
Concept:3/4 (Good)
Story:3/4 (Good)
Characters:3/4 (Good)
Dialog:4/4 (Great)
Pacing:3/4 (Good)
Cinematography:2/4 (Indifferent)
Special effects/design:3/4 (Good)
Acting:3/4 (Good)
Music:2/4 (Indifferent)
Subjective Rating: 7/10 (Good, 3/4 (Good)). Fun and witty. My wife got bored, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Objective Rating (Average):2.9/4 (Good)


My Fair Lady

September 27, 2011

Audrey Hepburn Marathon, part 8 of 13

Title: My Fair Lady
Year: 1964
Length: 170 minutes
Director: George Cukor
Writer: Alan Jay Lerner, based on his musical based on a play by George Bernard Shaw
Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison
With: Stanley Holloway, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Gladys Cooper, Jeremy Brett, Theodore Bikel, Mona Washbourne, Isobel Elsom, John Holland
Music: André Previn (score); Frederick Loewe & Alan Jay Lerner (songs)
Cinematography: Harry Stradling Sr.
Editing: William H. Ziegler
Oscars: won for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Harrison), Best Cinematography (color), Best Score (musical), Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (color), Best Costume Design (color) and Best Sound; nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Holloway), Best Supporting Actress (Cooper) and Best Editing
I saw it: on video a couple days ago, rented from Netflix
Synopsis: a cockney girl is trained to pass as an aristocrat at parties

My reaction
Concept:1/4 (Bad)
Story:3/4 (Good)
Characters:4/4 (Great)
Dialog:3/4 (Good)
Pacing:1/4 (Bad)
Cinematography:2/4 (Indifferent)
Special effects/design:3/4 (Good)
Acting:3/4 (Good)
Music:1/4 (Bad)
Subjective Rating: 5/10 (Indifferent, 2/4 (Indifferent)). There are a number of very good parts, but they’re scattered and sparse. The songs are almost all boring, and the action usually comes to a complete stop while we wait for them to finish singing. Even if the songs were good, they would be an unwelcome interruption – and they go on like this for three hours.
Objective Rating (Average):2.3/4 (Okay)

Super 8

September 26, 2011

Title: Super 8
Year: 2011
Length: 112 minutes
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer: J.J. Abrams
Starring: lens flares, Joel Courtney
With: Riley Griffiths, Ryan Lee, Gabriel Basso, Zach Mills, Kyle Chandler, Ron Eldard, Amanda Michalka, Elle Fanning, Glynn Turman, Noah Emmerich, David Gallagher, Brett Rice
Music: Michael Giacchino (and non-original music)
Cinematography: Larry Fong
Editing: Maryann Brandon, Mary Jo Markey
I saw it: in the theater, a couple days ago
Synopsis: kids try to make a zombie movie while a space monster is hiding in their town

My reaction
Concept:4/4 (Great)
Story:2/4 (Indifferent) The ending kind of blows. Not blows as in Lost – it’s just kind of disproportionately uncreative.
Characters:3/4 (Good)
Dialog:3/4 (Good)
Pacing:3/4 (Good)
Cinematography:0/4 (Terrible) Damnit, enough with the damn lens flares already! Watching a J.J. Abrams movie, it’s kind of like having him in the room, jumping up and down next to the screen pointing at it, yelling, “Hey! Look what I did there! Check it out!”
Special effects/design:3/4 (Good)
Acting:3/4 (Good) Fanning is great. Courtney is fine, considering that his part is too demanding to expect a kid to pull off.
Music:3/4 (Good)
Subjective Rating: 6/10 (Okay, 2/4 (Indifferent)). Fun and entertaining. Unfortunately, it’s a J.J. Abrams movie, and never lets you forget it. Um, J.J? Maybe next time you taunt us with your “magic box,” you could put something inside it first. As far as channeling Spielberg goes, the focus there is on his corny tropes, not on his storytelling skill.
Objective Rating (Average):

Star Trek: “The Cage”

September 22, 2011

Title: Star Trek“The Cage”
Year: 1988 (produced 1965)
Network: NBC
Episode: pilot; 64 minutes
Creator: Gene Roddenberry
Director: Robert Butler
Writer: Gene Roddenberry
Starring: Jeffrey Hunter
With: Susan Oliver, Leonard Nimoy, Majel Barrett, John Hoyt, Peter Duryea, Laurel Goodwin
Music: Alexander Courage
Cinematography: William E. Snyder
Editing: Leo H. Shreve
I saw it: on video a couple times, most recently yesterday (have on DVD)
Synopsis: telepathic aliens capture a space captain

My reaction
Concept:4/4 (Great)
Story:2/4 (Indifferent) Nothing any of the characters do has any effect on the outcome of the story.
Characters:3/4 (Good)
Dialog:3/4 (Good)
Pacing:2/4 (Indifferent)
Cinematography:2/4 (Indifferent)
Special effects/design:4/4 (Great)
Acting:3/4 (Good)
Music:4/4 (Great)
Subjective Rating: 7/10 (Good, 3/4 (Good)). It’s a good thing this pilot didn’t get picked up as is; the show badly needed the retooling it got, particularly the recasting. All the actors and characters are all perfectly good, but they’re just… kind of boring.
Objective Rating (Average):3/4 (Good)

Meek’s Cutoff

September 21, 2011

Title: Meek’s Cutoff
Year: 2011
Length: 104 minutes
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Writer: Jonathan Raymond
Starring: Michelle Williams
With: Bruce Greenwood, Will Patton, Zoe Kazan, Paul Dano, Shirley Henderson, Neal Huff, Tommy Nelson, Rod Rondeaux
Music: Jeff Grace
Cinematography: Chris Blauvelt
Editing: Kelly Reichardt
I saw it: on video (rented from Netflix), yesterday
Synopsis: a wagon train is lost in the Oregon desert

My reaction
Concept:4/4 (Great)
Story:3/4 (Good)
Characters:4/4 (Great)
Dialog:3/4 (Good)
Pacing:3/4 (Good) Very slow, but in a good way.
Cinematography:3/4 (Good)
Special effects/design:2/4 (Indifferent) Very good visually. The sound recording is terrible.
Acting:3/4 (Good) The performances are great, but the way the movie is directed, everything is kept at a distance. It’s a great approach as far as telling the story goes, but doesn’t really let the acting into the foreground enough to be memorable.
Music:3/4 (Good) I like that they completely avoided any of the typical types of Western scores. The music is sparse and alien, well suited to the movie.
Subjective Rating: 7/10 (Good, 3/4 (Good)). An excellent movie, but its small budget shows through enough to take you out of it from time to time.
Objective Rating (Average):3.1/4 (Very good)

Star Trek: Season Three (wrap-up)

September 21, 2011

Title: Star Trek: Season Three
Year: 1968-1969
Etc: see individual episode posts (linked below)

My reaction
Concept:4/4 (Great) Once again, the concept of the show as a whole is great, although the episode-by-episode concepts average out to much less – about 2.2/4.
Story:2/4 (Indifferent) Rounded up from an average of about 1.8/4.
Characters:2/4 (Indifferent) Average: about 1.7/4.
Dialog:1.9/4 (Eh) Average: about 1.9/4.
Pacing:2/4 (Indifferent) Average: about 2.2/4.
Cinematography:2/4 (Indifferent) Average: 2.0/4.
Special effects/design:4/4 (Great) Average: 4.0/4. I suppose I was a lot more lenient on this category than I should have been. Whatever.
Acting:2/4 (Indifferent) Average: about 2.1/4.
Music:4/4 (Great) Average: about 3.9/4.
Subjective Rating: 7/10 (Good, 3/4 (Good)). It hurts me. It hurts me to only give classic Star Trek a 7/10. But I’ve got to be honest. Well, no, if I was honest, it would get a 6/10, rounded up from an average of about 5.8. Thing is, there are no great episodes in season three.  Some that I like quite a bit, but not a single great episode. And a surprising number of bad episodes. This whole looking at, and keeping record of my reaction to, every episode individually is quite revealing.
Objective Rating (Average):2.7/4 (Good)

The episdoes
sorted by subjective rating (objective rating in parentheses)
“The Enterprise Incident” (3.1/4)
“Whom Gods Destroy” (3.0/4)
“The Savage Curtain” (3.0/4)
“Day of the Dove” (3.0/4)
“Spectre of the Gun” (2.3/4)
“All Our Yesterdays” (2.9/4)
“The Cloud Minders” (2.8/4)
“For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” (2.8/4)
“Spock’s Brain” (2.0/4)
“The Empath” (2.4/4)
“Elaan of Troyius” (2.6/4)
“The Mark of Gideon” (2.5/4)
“Turnabout Intruder” (2.6/4)
“The Way to Eden” (2.0/4)
“The Paradise Syndrome” (2.3/4)
“The Lights of Zetar” (2.1/4)
“Wink of an Eye” (2.2/4)
“The Tholian Web” (2.2/4)
“Is There in Truth No Beauty?” (2.3/4)
“Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” (2.1/4)
“Plato’s Stepchildren” (1.7/4)
“And the Children Shall Lead” (1.7/4)
“Requiem for Methuselah” (2.0/4)
“That Which Survives” (1.7/4)

Star Trek: “Turnabout Intruder”

September 21, 2011

Title: Star Trek“Turnabout Intruder”
Year: 1969
Network: NBC
Episode: the last (of twenty-four) from season three; 50 minutes
Creator: Gene Roddenberry
Director: Herb Wallerstein
Writer: Arthur H. Singer; story by Gene Roddenberry
Starring: William Shatner
With: Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Sandra Smith, Harry Landers, James Doohan
Music: Alexander Courage (theme); Fred Steiner
Cinematography: Al Francis
Editing: Donald R. Rode
I saw it: on video and TV several times, most recently yesterday (have on DVD)
Synopsis: body swap

My reaction
Concept:2/4 (Indifferent)
Story:3/4 (Good)
Characters:1/4 (Bad) “Intense hatred of her own womanhood.” What?
Dialog:2/4 (Indifferent)
Pacing:3/4 (Good)
Cinematography:2/4 (Indifferent)
Special effects/design:4/4 (Great)
Acting:3/4 (Good) Shatner’s ridiculous, but Smith usually makes a reasonably convincing Kirk.
Music:4/4 (Great)
Subjective Rating: 6/10 (Okay, 2/4 (Indifferent)). And the series ends with a bang, of sorts: all new heights of sexism. It could have been fixed, too, with just a tweak of two or three lines of dialog – making it so that the villain’s problem is that she’s criminally insane, rather than that she’s a woman. Sigh.
Objective Rating (Average):