Category Archives: Blu-ray

Sunday Night Movie: Dog Soldiers

So a while back I was working on a werewolf short story, A Taste Of Tears and Blood, (If fact my writing page horribly out of date indicates that is my current project) and as part of my research I was watching all sorts of werewolf films.

One film I put on the Netflix queue but never got around to seeing as part of the research was Dog Soldiers from 2002. This weekend I had is shipped from Netflix and my sweetie-wife and I watched it early Sunday evening. (I was unable to watch a film later by myself as it my habit because I was so terribly exhausted.) I was a little surprised when my sweetie-wife expressed an interest in the film, gory violent horror film are not her usual cup of tea. She is much more attracted to projects based upon the actors and the nationality of the production. This film had an actor she very much like to follow, Sean Pertwee, son of Dr Who actor Jon Pertwee.

This film was written, produced, directed and edited by Neil Marshall, who has gone to direct such movies as The Decent and Doomsday. If you like or hate Dog Soldiers it’s really just one man’s fault.

Personally I really liked Dog Soldiers, much more than I had expected. The direct was quite aware of his limited budget and knew the limitations of his production. He stayed very much inside those limitation rather than attempting cheap and cheesy digital effects like we see when we’re inflicted with SyFy.

The story is about a fix man army squad that had been dropped into the highlands of Scotland on a routine training mission. The squad is led able veteran Sgt harry Wells (Sean Pertwee) with the capable assistance of Private Cooper (Kevin McKidd of ROME) a young man recently bounced from Special Forces training for ethical reasons. The squad quickly find themselves in serious trouble when they are confronted with a werewolf pack and all the squad is armed with is blanks.

There is one wonderfully British moment when the squad has found temporary safety, and Cooper temporarily in command is ordering men to do this and do that to secure the building and orders the last man to ‘put a kettle on, we can all do with a cup.’

My biggest quibbles with the film is occasionally the characters posses superhuman capabilities and survive the sort of events no human being has any business surviving. That said the film transcends these fault by having neat and interesting characters, a nicely thought out premise, and a relentlessness about the doomed  situation the characters find themselves in. I was disappointed that the Blu-ray disc did not have any bonus feature on it.  I searched on line fro a collectors edition or some such, but none was to be found.

Surprisingly the gore in this film was restrained. There was lots of blood thrown about, but only a few shots of graphic violence. Again I think this was a function of the director understanding his limitations and using them to his advantage rather then foolishly ignoring them

I look forward to seeing more movie from Mr Neil Marshall.

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Michelle Malkin Loves Communists.

So if you follow political columnist at all then you should already be familiar with Michelle Malkin. Ms. Malkin  is a very conservative opinion writer. She’s known for fiery opinions defended aggressively with a penchant for name-calling.  Ms. Malkin’s frequent posting are aggressive, and in-your-face which has earned her plenty of die-hard supporters and an equal number of die hard critics.

I am in neither camp. I do not care for name calling and I feel whenever you you do so in an argument you do nothing but weaken your case. I find her blog to be depressing. There is very little joy in her posts and nearly every post is about something that has offended, enraged, or irritated her. That’s fine if that is what she wants. It’s her blog and she can put up anything she likes, but it make for a repetitive and angry tone. I seriously can not think of a post that was truly just happy or joyous.

I frequent her site because it is a very good reflection of where conservative thought and feelings are for a number of subjects.

For a woman who like to call people to the left or her Socialists and Communists I have been surprised lately with her love affair for Communism. Thought I am sure it is one born out of ignorance.

Recently she’s been posting that Conservatives need to have an “I am Spartacus” moment of resistance to the health care reform, base on the stunning scene from the movie “Spartacus“.

Here’s the scene:

Spartacus is one of my favorite films and I will be so happy in a few months when I have it on DVD, but the film is a communist allegory.
The film was based on the novel Spartacus written by Howard Fast, who was a communist. I don’t mean that in the current Republican way of anyone left of me is a communist, Mr. Fast was a member of the American Communist Party. He was so hot politically no publisher would touch the novel Spartacus and he was forced to self-publish it. On the audio commentary to the Laserdisc of Spartacus Mr. Fast made it clear that the story was a communist allegory about the rich and the workers.

The film screenplay was adapted by Dalton Trumbo, another Communist.  Trumbo spent 11 years in prison for contempt of congress for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.  Spartacus was the first film he was credited with writing after the blacklist. (Thoigh he had written many just denied credit.) He was proud of having killed films in Hollywood that were deemed anti-communist.

I have no doubt that if either man was still alive today they would happy tell Ms. Malkin that in their view she and her fellow conservatives are more aligned with Marcus Licinius Crassus than with the workers uprising symbolized by the slave revolt in Spartacus. (To be clear I am not a communists and I ignore the communist allegory of Spartacus, but then I am not trying to lift the film for my own political ends either.)

I am deeply amused by the irony that a communist hater is aligning herself with communist writers and with what they saw as communist characters.

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Databasin’ fool

So I have spent a few hours this morning databasing my DVD/Blu-ray collection.  I have according to the database 222 movies in my collection, but this number is not completely accurate. The database software counts boxed sets as a single entry, so for example my boxed set of the Star Wars movies is one entry, but it has three movies.

Given that my feature film count is closed to 290 from boxed sets. (The el cheapo 50 ‘classic’ horror films bosted that count by 49 alone.)

The database software is Movie Collector and I love it. After the jump is a screen capture of what it looks like. The software cost me $30 so it is not pricey. You can enter films by title, barcode number (typing it in by hand) or by scanning the barcode on the box of the DVD/Blu-ray. I bought a cheap barcode scanner off Ebay ($8) and it took me just a couple of hours to enter all the films. Continue reading Databasin’ fool

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Sunday Night Movie: 2012

So being a fan os disaster movies, and to a somewhat lesser degree a fan of disastrous movies, withe the release of 2012 on Blu-ray I had to make that movie my Sunday Night Movie this week. (before anyone thinks I slipped a cam and actually bought the Blu-ray, I ordered it via Netflix.  That’s one of the reasons I have Netflix, so I can see movies I would not ordinarily pay for.)

As I have said in other posts I thin Roland Emmerich is in a race with Michael Bay as to who can make more stupid movie. After Michael Bay raised the stakes with Transformers : Revenge Of The Fallen, Emmerich had no option but to go all in with 2012.

Like all really classy disaster movies this one has a diverse cast from all sorts of walks of life caught up in the disaster. They struggle to survive, many failing and ending up in either noble moving deaths if they were likable characters, or ironic fitting deaths if they were jerks. There isn’t a single surprise in this entire films save for the level of stupid.

For example, the scene picture above. Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) failed writer whose HARDBACK book sold less than 500 copies (a face many people know in the film, no matter how divorced those characters may be from the publishing business.) is running to catch the plane with his ex-wife, two kids, and their new step-dad in order to escape the eruption of the super volcano beneath Yellowstone National Park. Behind the character is the slowest pyroclastic flow in the recorded history of vulcanology. In real life this effect can have speeds up to 750 km/hour. Jackson has managed to outrun the bit of disaster in an old RV. Crashed the RV into a fissure from the eruption, climb out of the fissure, chase down the plane with family et al aboard, and still manage to escape the deadly winds, pressure, and temperatures of up to 1000 degrees C. Now to paraphrase Morbius from Forbidden Planet: Prepare your minds for a new scale of stupidity values. What I just describe was the most CREDIBLE disaster/action/escape sequence in the whole film.

I laughed my way, and I mean that quite literally laughing out loud, through this entire movie. From the ridiculous  psuedo-science (Sub-atomic particles do NOT mutate Mr. emmerich, they decay.) to the ignoring of the vast distances involved this film gets everything wrong and does it in the most over the top manner imaginable.

It is filled with stock character, not one of which has any spark of originality and life. It ignores the consequences of its own stupid actions and stands.  SPOILER ALERT.

Continue reading Sunday Night Movie: 2012

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Sunday Night Movie: Casino Royale(2006)

So, one the gifts I got for Christmas was a gift card to Borders. Now, as regular readers of the blatherings know I have purchased an ebook reader in 2009 and so I have transitioned to e-books for my pleasure reading.

Sunday I was at Borders with my sweetie-wife and I used the gift card to upgrade my DVD of Casino Royale to a blu-ray collectors edition of Casino Royale.  I got a much better picture and sound quality and additional bonus feature. Which is like crack to me.

I really liked this reboot of the James Bond Franchise. Frankly the Bond films had slipped into fantasy and as such were not very satisfying.  Now, don’t get me wrong, Bond in the books is not about realism. Bond is a larger than life character. He’s a tough man who can win any fight and knows what to do to survive and to win. As a character he is interesting because of what he went through in the story Casino Royale. These are the events that armored Bond, that until the story of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service rendered him cold to women. If you want gritty complex spy novels with a heavy dose of realism you should read the works of John Le Carre. There’s nothing wrong about either approach. James Bond is what we would like to have out there on our side and John Le Carre’s characters are what we fear are out there on our side. Continue reading Sunday Night Movie: Casino Royale(2006)

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The Return Of The Sunday Night Movie: L.A. Confidential

I apologize for the long absence of my regular feature, Sunday Night Movie. The last several weeks have been filled with all sorts personal issue and drama leaving me too tired and and wrung out to watch movies, much less blog about them. I am happy to report that things seem to be getting back on an more even keel and life is slowly returning to normal.

Sunday afternoon I picked a copy of L.A. Confidential on blu-ray. I already owned the film in the DVD format, but the blu-ray was well prices and came with numerous new bonus features. I spent Sunday afternoon and evening digging through the bonus feature, before settling in to watch this film I love once more.

This is a sprawling complex character -driven movie and one that should have won Best Picture in 1997. (The nominees were As Good as It Gets, The Full Monty, Good Will Hunting, Titanic, and L.A. Confidential. Titanic won, but it did not deserve the prize in that line-up.) Based on the large — and many ways inferior — novel by James Ellroy, LA Confidential is the story crime, corruption, and illusion in L.A. in the 1950s.  The film had a modest budget for 1997 — 15 million dollars — and few stars. Kevin Spacey had just the year before won an Oscar for his role in The Usual Suspects (I another film I adore) Kim Basinger and Danny DeVito were well known, but cast here in supporting roles. (Kim Basinger went on to win an Oscar for her performance in L.A. Confidential.) The remaining lead actors in the films were at that time unknowns to the American Public, Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce. Two Aussie actors who have go one to be stars and leading men in their own rights.

L.A. Confidential is a rich and powerful period crime story that is clearly set in the 1950s, but without the saccharine sweetness of nostalgia.  It is a film that in many ways is a revival of Film Noir, but without looking like it was a revival. It is dense and complex and expect the viewer to be smart enough to follow along. It doesn’t backdown from racism and classism of the period without resorting to preachiness and lectures. It lets the characters be who they are true to their fault and their culture. Photographic with gorgeous colors and detail this film is a feast for the eye, told expertly and with stunningly powerful action it is a feast for the brain, the music, both period and original is pitch perfect.

I cannot recommend this film enough.

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Been missing

Sorry I have been out of it for the last couple of days. Monday was sniffles and a regular headache and yesterday was fully clogged-up and a migraine headache. I stayed home from work yesterday and pretty much just whimpered in the dark.

I will have a new Sunday night movie posting for you tonight. While walking around Fry’s electronics on Sunday afternoon with a apl looking at LCD and LED Tvs, (For his house not mine, I already am very happy with my LCD 42″ set) I spotted a good deal on the movie L.A. Confidential . Truly it was the film that should have won best picture and not Titanic. Because it wasa good price and came loaded with new bonus features I had to buy it replacing my DVD of the movie. I also picked up for under $20 Inglorious Basterds another really good film.

Chat with you soon.

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Color me surprised

So after diner tonight and a long day at work I decided to unwind with a bit of a zombie flick. I put in my blu-ray of the 1979 Dawn Of The Dead. (In my opinion Romero’s best Zombie film.) Anyway since this film was shot in 1979 the soundtrack on the original is a mono-sooundtrack. On the blu-ray they have upgraded it with a re-mastered 5.1 surround soundtrack in lossless PCM output. Well I had my shiny new sound system and subwoofer so I played around watching the film switching back and forth between the various sound sources.

There’s a scene where on of the characters — Stephen — is along and in the bowels of the Mall. He fires at shadows and the rounds go bouncing off into the darkness. Listening to the scene with the 5.1 surround was great. I heard the bullets ricochet completely around my seat. I was really surprised that a re-mastered soundtrack performed so well.

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Sunday Night Movie: Inglorious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino’s newest film Inglorious Basterds hit DVD and Blu-ray last week and I luckily got a copy via Netflix to watch as my Sunday Night Movie.

I had heard that what the previews sold and what the film actually was were very different things. This I can say is absolutely true. The previews tell you about Lt Aldo Raines (Brad Pitt) and his small band of Jewish-Americans working in occupied Europe terrorizing the Nazi with acts of brutality and malice.

From that you would expect a film with the first act being about the formation of the Basterds, the second act would be the acts of brutality and terror, which a reveal about the middle of the act, perhaps a traitor from within, leading into a third act with the mucho big target that’s impossible to hit but by gum they are going to do it. Many are killed, but the target is hit. If this is a movie about the good war of WWII then things look up, if it is a cynical film about the futility of war, they hit the target but it makes no difference and their sacrifices are for nothing.

That was not the movie that Quentin Tarantino delivered.

He created something much more interesting and enjoyable that the rather cliched plot I just outline above. I regret that I did not see Inglorious Basterds in the theater. This film deserved the full theater experience.

There are actually three plot line in this movie.

The first starts with Col. Hans Landa ( Christoph Waltz.) Landa is tasked when we first meet him with locating escaped Jew in occupied France. The introduction of the character is a wonderfully construct scene of tight tension developed entirely in table-side conversation. Christoph Waltz is an Austrian actor and like every single person in the film is perfectly cast.

The second plot line is Lt Aldo Raines and is Inglorious Basterds. We actually do not see a lot of their acts of violence. It’s not needed for this story. What we do see is the ingenuity and daring that these men have.

The third plot line is Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent) a young Jewish woman who escaped Col Landa’s grasp. However her plot line is not about escape or hunting down the dear colonel.

The rest of the film is the criss-crossing and finally resolution of all the story-lines in Paris in 1944. There are British spies and secret meeting and loads and loads of tension. The tension is nearly always built around secrets. There are people with lethal secrets trying desperately to keep them while under direct observation by their enemies.

Language is vitally important in the construction of this move. Tarantino does not use the convention that the audience understands all characters regardless of language. The German speak German most of the time, the French their language and of course the American hardly speak anything but English. There is heavy use of subtitles and most of the foreign parts are played by actor of that nationality. The effect is one that really works for creating tension in scenes that had they been conducted purely in English would have lacked the punch that Tarantino found.

This film is not history. Any movie that starts with the inter-card — Once Upon A Time — is telling you that you are about to go into a fairy tale. This is a violent and bloody fair tale, but the real fair tales were too before the Victorians got ahold of them. So with that in mind you should best look upon this as a form of Alternate history rather than a story set in WWII as we knew it.

This film did blow me away. I shall have to buy it on blu-ray and share it with as many people as I can convince to watch it.

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Vindication

Not that I had gotten much push back on it, but I am now vindicated on my choice for a blu-ray player.

When I was looking into blu-ray players one of my prime concerns was compatibility. There was already Blu-ray 1.0 and 1.1, and 2.0, the basic discs would work in any machine, but some special features would only work if you have the latest version of the blu-ray playing software. Because of that I selected the Playstation 3 as my blu-ray player. Its internet connectivity allowed it to update its firmware as the needs arose and keep up to date on playing blu-rays. I have been quite happy with its performance and not regretted buying it for a moment.

Today the specs were released for something I knew was coming, Blu-ray 3D; 3-D movies with full 1080p quality from you home TV.  Sony a prime backer of blu-ray is going to have a firmware update for the Playstation 3 to show the 3-d Blu-rays.

No hardware upgrade for me.

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