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Rating History

I, Curmudgeon
I, Curmudgeon (2003)
36 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

So this is kind of how it's been this week:
The class that I'm teaching has so many enrolments that we split it into two lectures. I'm teaching both. The first is now on Monday nights from 7-10 pm, and the second is Tuesdays from 4-7 pm. So after staying up pretty late on Monday, then lecturing again last night, by the time I went to bed I was exhausted. But then I woke up quite early, and my brain was filled with a thought for my thesis. And I couldn't get it out of my head enough to get back to sleep. So I got up, despite still feeling pretty run down. So today, I'm moving and thinking slowly... but still probably won't get a full night of sleep tonight. Sometimes when I'm working on a paper it feels like it's stuck in my brain and is trying to burst out of my head like the Alien from John Hurt's stomach...

And......... I'll skip posting a picture for that! In any case, the lectures seem to be going really well, and I'm enjoying teaching them!

In college I knew a guy that really acted weird. The strange thing was, I didn't really think that he actually[i] was[/i] weird. It seemed to me that he decided that his way of getting attention was going to be by being 'the weird guy' so that his weirdness wasn't genuine, it was a pose.

I had kind of the same feeling about 'Me and You and Everyone We Know' while I was watching it. It just seemed like it was really going out of it's way to be 'quirky', which I found annoying. The guy from university was actually pretty interesting once you got past his front, and for me MAYAEWK was the same in that way too. There are parts of it that just drove me bonkers, and others that I found really interesting. I thought that John Hawkes was pretty good, and I found his character to be quite interesting. I enjoyed the girl building her dowery, and there were parts that made me laugh. Like Napolean Dynamite, it seems like a love it or hate it type movie. And like ND, I'm caught between the two... I'm glad I saw it, but I probably wouldn't watch it again. Which exactly defines a '6' for me...


On the other hand, most of the people in I, Curmudgeon are [i]genuinely[/i] weird. But in a good way. Here's a quick film festival description of it:

[font=Verdana, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif][size=2]"In this often very funny enquiry into crankiness, Toronto filmmaker Alan Zweig interviews notable curmudgeons like Fran Lebowitz, Harvey Pekar and Bruce LaBruce. Zweig wants to know what their frickin' problem is and, more importantly, whether it's the same as his. As in [i]Vinyl[/i], his equally irascible doc on record collectors, the endearingly dour filmmaker spends much of [i]I, Curmudgeon[/i] spilling his guts directly to his camera and torturing himself with big questions that he can never answer satisfactorily. Zweig then confronts his subjects with the same questions, thereby making them even grouchier. (How grouchy? Andy Rooney is moved to kick Zweig out of his office.) Though[i] I, Curmudgeon[/i]'s meandering structure and incessant jump-cuts are irritants, they're also appropriate to the movie's abrasive, anti-social personality. Consider this a testament to the power of negative thinking."

He interviews semi-famous grumpy people like Harvey Pekar, Scott Thompson from Kids in the Hall and Mark Eitzel, plus lots of other people that I haven't seen before (although I recognise many of the names). The movie is very funny, and, Zweig generously lets all of his guests get the laughs - using his parts to set up the questions that he is trying to get answers to.

I found the movie to by interesting, thought provoking, and often hysterically funny. If you like American Splendor, or you like the idea of listening to a bunch of disgruntled, very intelligent people go off on entertaining rants (and especially if you [i][b]are[/b][/i] a disgruntled, very intelligent person that goes off on rants), then you should definitely track this movie down. Track it down to watch it, not kill it.... It actually made me wonder if I'm not grumpy enough around here - maybe I'm selling out??

Three Colors: Blue (Trois Couleurs: Bleu)
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Five minutes into Blue:

Nancy: What is this about again?
Tim: It's European.
Nancy: Yeah, but what is it about?

Nancy & Tim (simultaneously): Wow!

The funny thing is that Nancy doesn't actually care much about the plot either, even though she ALWAYS asks what the movie is about before we see it. If it is good, she'll usually like it. I tend to be a lot more interested in the way the movie is put together, rather than what actually happens. I've had friends that were almost completely plot driven, and they would have hated Three Colors.

But I thought these three were awesome. It was great to see them back to back to back, so that you could follow the themes closely throughout. I thought that the movies got better - Red is my favorite followed by White then Blue. The three movies are slow, and not a whole lot happens. But geez, they are well put together. Three different cinematographers, and all three are beautifully shot. And Kieslowski was a terrific director. The shots are nice, and he got really good performances from the actors as well. The movies deal with his usual themes - the role of chance in people's lives, and questions about what would happen with a second chance (which is really pretty closely related to the first issue).

If you like slower, more absorbing movies, and you haven't seen these, they are well worth a look. Or two or three.

Two other interesting things about these movies - first, the use of color is at least as impressive as it is in Hero - a little more subtle, but definitely striking (especially in Blue). Second, this movie also has the losing-the-luggage-with-a-person-in-it gag that they use in Ocean's Twelve. I wonder if it is a direct steal, or a Tarantino-esque 'reference', or just different people coming up with the same idea?

Ninja Scroll
Ninja Scroll (1995)
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Here's another NZ/Oz language peculiarity:

The high schools in both countries are called 'colleges', so you can only refer to universities as 'universities' (this isn't the peculiar part though - you'll know you've gotten to that when you see the picture of the toilet....). So you can't refer to a university as being 'a good school', because down here, 'schools' are everything below uni...

So anyway, if you graduate at the top of your college class, you are not called 'valedictorian' like you are in the states. You're called 'dux'.

Which, oddly, also happens to be the brand name of the most widely used toilets in New Zealand!


I've never really been sure how to best interpret that... :)

So - why haven't I been posting much this month? I'll tell you, so far this month I have:

- submitted an article to Management International Review
- submitted an article to the Journal of Evolutionary Economics
- submitted an article for the 2006 International Schumpeter Society (evoltuionary economics) Conference
- submitted two articles for the 2006 Academy of International Business Conference
- submitted an article to the Journal of International Business Studies

So, ummm, I've had a little bit going on.... and I'll have a pretty busy month coming up too. I still have to:

- submit my PhD confirmation document (due next week)
- submit two articles for the 2006 DRUID (innovation) Conference
- prepare a research seminar that I'm giving for the ARC Centre for Complex Systems Seminar Series

*random cat picture*


That is Darwin and Angel watching one of the kittens that we hand raised and gave away, before we hand raised and kept Audubon, Gromit and Zamboni...

The good news with all of this writing is that I have half of my PhD thesis actually written now, and once I do the rest of the writing over the next month, I should be up to about 2/3 done. Then I'll have one more fairly intensive data analysis period, and I'll be able to write the last of it. So my chances of finishing this year are really good.

The bad news is that when I'm writing like this, I don't have much time to watch movies, so I end up not making many entries here. One thing that I did watch last week was Ninja Scroll.


It was very enjoyable. It's a well made, interesting anime feature. Can't think of much else to say about it....

In any event, I hope that everyone is doing well!

Armour of God (Long xiong hu di) (Operation Condor 2)
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Well, in the time since I wrote my last entry, Beth has taken a break, and then come back from her break. Which is probably a sign that I'm not writing entries frequently enough.

Part of it is that US elections just depress me to no end these days. I don't want to go into a big rant... but I'll just say that if democracy is supposed to be electing a government that enacts the will of the people, then democracy in the US (and to a lesser extent Australia) is severely broken.

On to more frivolous stuff....

You might remember that I confessed that broke my toe trying to learn the model walk. That's not actually true. It was a coverup. I actually broke my toe helping Audubon practice his kung fu. He threw me halfway across the room, and the toe just snapped.

Here he is in his ready position:


Actually, I figured that the best way to take my mind off my toe was to watch Jackie Chan break multiple bones. So I rented the Armour of God, the movie he made in 1986 where he almost died. He jumped onto a tree, the branch broke, he fell about 20 feet and hit his head on a rock. Yikes! If you live in the US and want to see this for yourself, it's complicated. He made Armour of God, and it did pretty well. So he made a sequel called, oddly, Armour of God 2. Both made tons of money in Asia, contributing to Miramax finally deciding to release a whole bunch of his movies in the US. So they released Armour of God 2 first, and called it Operation Condor. I think they called it that because in both movies Jackie is the 'Asian Hawk' and they're not so good with the ornithology. Anyway, after that did ok, they released the original movie as a [i]sequel [/i](I'm sorry I don't have a diagram to help explain this), and called it Operation Condor 2 - The Armour of the Gods.

In any case, the movie isn't that great. The action sequences are all pretty excellent, but the plot is stupid in the extreme. And the comic bits are only mildly amusing. I love Chan's earlier HK movies, but I wouldn't rank this among his better ones. However, as usual with his movies, watching him breaking bones in the outtakes that run with the credits is astonishing. And it certainly was enough to get my mind off my toe. And me and Audubon learned a few more moves we can practice...


The Devil Wears Prada was very good. It almost made me wish that I [i]could[/i] learn to do the model walk. The plot is nothing new, but the performances are quite good. Meryl Streep in particular is just awesome. She gives a character that could have been very one dimensional an amazing amount of depth. Which must give Lauren Weisberger (the woman that wrote the book) fits, since apparently that was meant to be revenge on Anna Wintour the editor of Vogue, who was Weisberger's boss for a while. Anne Hathaway plays the Weisberger stand-in, and she's actually a bit of a drip. A gorgeous drip, but still.... (note to movie people - giving Anne Hathaway a bad hair cut does not make her ugly - so please stop pretending that it does). And the movie makes at least one very good point - if Streep's character were a man, no one would say much of anything about her habit's as a boss.

I thought the ending was a massive cop out. But up until then the movie is good fun. And Streep is awesome.

The Naked Killer doesn't really have enough nakedness or killing.


Chingmy Yau is absolutely gorgeous as the insufficiently naked killer. And she actually gives the best performance in the movie as well. She makes it worth watching, but it's not a great movie.

Waiting... isn't very good either. It would be much better with a whole lot more Anna Faris and a whole lot less Ryan Reynolds. The bit where she gives him a lecture on his shortcomings as a boyfriend is the funniest part of the movie, by far.


In a lot of ways, it is a missed opportunity. As many western economies are shifting from being based on reasonably well paid manufacturing jobs to a basis in less well paid often temporary service work, there is a huge opportunity to look at the effect that this has on people in their early 20s as they enter the workforce. You could probably even make a pretty comedy out of it.

But waiting focuses a lot more on 'humour' that makes American Pie look like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in terms of sophistication. Some of the dialog is pretty funny, but in the end, the movie is pretty lousy.

Ok, I'm off to practice some more with Audubon. I'll try to be more careful this time...

Phil the Alien
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The short version:

Question: Can a book or a movie be 'great' if no one has ever seen it?


(the [url=""]pictures are from Stella Marrs[/url] - she does AWESOME stuff!)

Long version:

Despite my dislike of the format, I still occasionally lurk on message boards. In doing so, I often run across arguments that go something like this:

Person: Blue Velvet is much better than Mulholland Drive.
Other person: No way! How can you not see that Mulholland Drive is totally the better movie.
Person: Your an idiot. (sic)
Other Person: No - your an idiot! (sic again)
And so on....

I run into it in journal comments a lot too. And I have real problems with this concept that movies (and books, and records) have some objective value in terms of quality, and that some people are better at identifying these values than others are.

To answer my question above, I don't think that art exists without an audience (hmmmm, I might be in for a fight with Rebecca on this one, but then, she's the one that told me to be grumpier! :)). Consequently, it has value not by itself, but [i]in relation to its audience[/i].


When we interact with art - it is exactly that - an interaction. It effects us, but we also effect it. One theme that consistently comes up around here is that films do or do not live up to expectations. In part, these are built by what other people say and think about the film before we see it, as well as by our previous experiences with the stars, the director, the writer (some times), and the world around us. All of these interact to create the 'movie' that we see. It makes a difference if we see it in a theater, on a huge screen that fills our vision, or if we see it in our living room with distractions from the phone, the cats, and the refrigerator.

Sure, there are standards that can be applied to art. But I think it is critical to remember that these aren't absolute - they are just things that we have agreed upon (that we've [b]created[/b]!).

So how do we judge art? In lots of ways:
[list=1][*]By judging it against technical standards that reflect skill or craftsmanship in the creation of the art[*]By judging them by how it helps us understand the world (more on this idea tomorrow), or how it reflects on our personal experiences[*]By looking at the train of thought that is triggered - does it teach us anything? Or help us learn?[*]By evaluating how enjoyable the actual experience of interacting with the art is (how we actually feel while we are watching the movie, or read the book), or how cathartic the experience is (that's why we still have comedy and drama)[*]By how we think other people will view us based on our opinion of it[*]By how many other people like it[*]By defaulting to an authority figure, or a group[/list][img][/img]

While I think that all opinions about art are just that, an opinion, and therefore to some extent or another 'legitimate', I place more stock in opinions that are based on the first four methods than those based on the last three.

Finally, how we mix our methods will vary from person to person. I know a few people that try to stick as much as possible with the first one listed. Personally, I tend to react more positively to films based on what they get me thinking about. Which in turn means that I often probably end up rating films pretty highly that many other people won't like at all.

Soooooooo, that's one of the things I've been thinkin about recently. Not sure if I've said it clearly or not. I'd be interested in your thoughts!


All of which is probably a more serious lead in to a review of Phil the Alien than it deserves! But anyway, it's one of the BIFF movies that I've seen - it was a late night double feature with I, Curmudgeon. And all in all, I liked it pretty well.

It tells the story of an alien that lands in the back woods of Ontario, and the wackiness that ensues as he encounters the friendly local Canadians. The first half is really quite funny, but the film runs out of steam as it progresses. On the other hand, if you have extensive experience with Northern Ontarians, you'll probably get a lot of the jokes, and you could well rate it higher than me! In any case, it's a solid little indie comedy. It won't change the world or anything, but it was fun to watch.

At least for me.