Thursday, June 28, 2007

Make It a Biblioteca Night!

Biblioteca, of course, is Spanish for “library” and that's been where I have been spending most of my free time as of late (when I'm not updating this site or surfing elsewhere on the Net, of course).

My favorite biblioteca so far is the Garland Central Library. Not only does it have a good selection of books, but it also has a growing selection of DVDs that compares quite admirably to the collections of local video stores. If I choose, I have the opportunity to rent, say, La Dolce Vita, The Seven Samurai, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Sullivan's Travels, Intolerance, 1776, and many other classic films I can rarely rent any place else.

Yes, I know it's not exactly hip to admit to renting DVDs from the local library, but I don't really care what is hip anymore. Besides, it never hurts to be frugal.

Indeed, it might be argued that it is very unhip to spend money just for the sake of spending money.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Reasons to See Grease

Yeah, I know. It's obvious that I liked Grease but I didn't say a whole lot about the movie itself.

What did I like about it?

1. Olivia Newton-John's clean-scrubbed presence. Pobre Olivia never was much of an actress but this is very easily one of her best roles -- perhaps because it plays to her strength as a singer.

2. Stockard Channing's Rizzo. Yes, the critics always liked Rizzo a tad too much... So much that my middle brother used to complain about it. But her tart performance is a great counterpart to Ms. Newton-John's sugary persona.

3. The nostalgia angle. Yes, a lot of the jokes were aging quite badly even in 1978, but I still found it quite fun to see golden oldies like Eve Arden and Sid Caesar hanging in there. If only they had been given more to do.

4. John Travolta. This is very easily one of his better movies even though it's not exactly Oscar material.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

There Are Worse Things You Can See

At long last the truth is out. The one movie that can unite the Baby Boomers, the Gen-Xers and the Millennium Kids is -- you guessed it -- Grease.

At least that's the impression I got when I took my girlfriend to a showing of that movie at a local movie theatre last night. People of all ages were there, and although the audience was predominantly white non-Hispanic, there were even a few black movie-goers in the audience. The audience was far larger than the audience at the last old movie I had seen in that theatre -- Breakfast at Tiffany's -- and my girlfriend and I had to sit in the third row as a result.

Once the movie started, people started hollering, clapping, singing along with the songs, and even waving their arms in the air in time to the music. More than a few folks in the audience even held up their lighted cell phones at key points in the movie for the same reason people raise up lit lighters at a rock concert. (And yes, I'm aware of the irony of using a device as modern as a cell phone to celebrate the virtues of a 1978 movie set in the 1950s.) Towards the end, one enthusiastic fan -- who may or may have been too young to even have been alive when the movie was originally released -- shouted out, “I love you, John Travolta!”

I must confess that I used to be embarrassed about the number of times I've seen Grease. Sure, it was a popular movie, but it wasn't the type of movie that it was fashionable to like if you were a serious movie buff.

However, the older I get, the less I worry about other people's opinions and what is or isn't fashionable. Too many of my favorite people pay little if any attention to what's in fashion in the modern cinema. And quite frankly, life seems way too short to worry about something as trivial as other people's movie tastes. If they like the same films that I do, fine. If they don't, well, there are worse differences one can have.

Do I still love movies? Yes, I do.

Do I still love good movies? Yes, I do.

Do I realize that a popular movie isn't necessarily the same as a good movie? Yes, I do.

But after finding myself underwhelmed by many of the “better” movies of last year, I can't help drawing the line between good and popular differently than most people.

It has been so rare that I've seen the enthusiasm in a movie audience that I saw in the audience for Grease. I'm glad I witnessed it. I find it sad that not many recent releases I've seen have produced a similar reaction in their respective audiences but that is an issue for another post.

I'm no longer ashamed of all the times I've seen Grease with my siblings. I'm just glad I got the chance to share the experience with my girlfriend.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Things I've Learned from My Father

1. Think for yourself.

2. Beware of ideology.

3. Poverty is hell.

4. It's not how much you earn that matters but how much you save.

5. Education is the best shortcut out of poverty.

6. Tell me what you brag about and I'll tell you what you lack.

7. Cada cabeza es un mundo. (Every head is a world; i.e., all people are special.)

8. You can always find an excuse not to do something if you don't want to do it.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

The Road to Stardom Starts at 42nd Street as Well

Oh. My. God.

42nd Street is the first Busby Berkeley musical I've seen and it is as addictive as anything. I can't resist watching and rewatching that scene in which little Ruby Keeler sings the title song. Or for that matter, watching and rewatching the big dance number that follows that song. Or for that matter, watching and rewatching the really really really BIG dance number that follows that number. And here I was thinking that I could never see myself ever voluntarily watching a Busby Berkeley musical.

Maybe it's the “old and quaint” element that works for it, but then Shirley Temple movies are old and quaint and I get the heebies jeebies just thinking about watching one of them.

So what makes this so addictive for me?

Could it be the delightful tap dancing of little Ruby Keeler?

The equally delightful performance of a pre-Fred Astaire Ginger Rogers?

The shamelessly over-the-top choreography of the aforementioned Busby Berkeley?

That silly Irish accent used by Dick Powell toward the end of the movie?

Or that final melancholy scene toward the end in which director Julian Marsh (played by Warner Baxter), having worked his heart out to produce one last success and having delivered that most classic of lines about Peggy Sawyer (the Ruby Keeler character) going out a youngster and coming back a star, hangs out backstage to “enjoy” his success in a way that makes All That Jazz's Joe Gideon seem like a happy-go-lucky person?

Whatever the reason, it seems obvious why this picture went on to become successful enough back in 1933 to financially rescue the studio that made it.

And why writer John Sayles had his character Polly Franklin adoring this movie in his 1979 gangster film The Lady in Red.

All movie musicals should be this good.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

TV Quote of the Week

You want weapons? We're in a library. Books! Best weapons in the world. This room is the greatest arsenal we could have.
--David Tennant, Doctor Who (The Second Series), “Tooth and Claw”

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Movie Quote of the Week

Everybody has a story, Skip.
--Loren Dean, Mumford (1999)

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An Anniversary -- Of Sorts

It was one year ago this past Wednesday that I first met the current love of my life. We have been dating for a year now and we're still not tired of each other.

Last night we celebrated the anniversary of our first date, and if all continues to go well, then it should be the first of many anniversary celebrations. I dare not try to predict the future. After all, there have been many times throughout my life in which I thought I found a woman who was “The One,” but this time I think I really found her. She is a bit younger than I would have imagined, but I believe age matters little when two people are truly in love.

We have similar taste in music, similar taste in movies, and similar tastes in TV shows. My family adores her and so far her family seems to be pleased with me.

Will it all work out? Who knows?

A year and a half ago, I was quite certain that I was in love with someone quite different. Unfortunately, it turned out that my love was unrequited. The last thing I wanted after that was to get involved in another serious relationship and since the woman I used to be in love with had been in her late thirties, I certainly did not want to get involved with yet another younger woman.

But mi mejor amiga introduced me to the current amor de mi vida one day and after our first date, it seemed obvious that mi amor and I were fated to be together. Every time I look into mi amor's eyes, I see an expression of love which I never could have imagined seeing in the face of a woman who was looking in my direction. I like to think that she sees a similar expression every time I look at her.

I'm not the easiest person to love, and I've told her this. I consider it a great compliment that she's willing to take the chance.

I may look on these words some day and consider them a bad joke. But I don't think so.

It was becoming increasingly obvious to me that I needed a companion in my life. I just didn't want to admit that to myself because I thought it was not possible for me to find someone like my current amor de mi vida. Now I have.

I hope she stays in my life for a long time to come. And that I, of course, stay in her life as well.

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Video Quote of the Week

Asian Girl: I don't believe in reincarnation because I refuse to come back as a bug or a rabbit!
Caucasian Guy: You know, you're a real “up” person!
--From New Order's video for “Bizarre Love Triangle” (1986)

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Mother of Mercy! Is This the End of Cinemarati?

Apparently, it is.

Cinemarati, for those of you who are unfamiliar with it, was a website devoted to film commentary. It was one of the first such sites on the Net and for a long time, it was very easily one of the best. I used to post on that site quite frequently when it was a mere messageboard, and when the administrators decided to change formats and turn the site into a weblog, I still kept on posting there, choosing to exchange my old user name of Thomas More for the more literary name of Tonio Kruger.

Quite recently the site has had a number of technical difficulties, and because the difficulties were beyond the power of the current administration to fix, a decision was made to close the site down.

In some ways, I'll miss it. After all, I learned a lot from Cinemarati, and I doubt I would have been inspired to start this weblog if it was not for the inspiration I received from my fellow Cinemarati posters. I still remember the many words of kindness I received from the good folks at Cinemarati after my father died, and for that alone, I'll retain many fond memories of Cinemarati.

However, all good things do come to an end, and Cinemarati was a good thing. I still plan to keep up with individual members. I have visited MaryAnn (the Flick Filosopher) Johanson's site upon occasion, and of course, I have also visited the Self-Styled Siren, Lynn Lee, and the House Next Door. I don't plan to wear out my welcome at either of these sites, but I don't plan to neglect them either.

In the meantime, I'll concentrate on this site. I don't consider it yet to be in the same class as Cinemarati was at its peak and indeed, it may never be in that class.

But, hey, I can dream, can't I?

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