Earth standing still again

This is wrong on so many levels: Fox is going to be doing a remake of the classic “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. It’s scheduled to hit theaters, May, 2008.

There are some films that were made once, made right, and should be left alone. One such is, To Kill a Mockingbird. Among others are One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s NestCasablancaThe Godfather, and The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Usually I enjoy seeing remakes of old classics: this is one that just doesn’t work, not just because the original was so well done, which it was; but because the premise behind the movie doesn’t have the same meaning today.

It was the movie of the time, and the time made it.


Cue the public

From Seth today:

I am not making up this headline: Tonight at 11, news by neighbors – Santa Rosa TV station fires news staff, to ask local folks to provide programming

“I have my own silly little term,” Spendlove said. “Local content harvesting.”

A true moment not to be in the process of hydration, for fear of ruining a keyboard.

We only have to look at Tailrank to see how biased our coverage of any one topic is: not to mention how poorly local events are covered. I know of only two weblogs that write on the issues with Nixon, Blunt, Ameren, and the DNR here in Missouri and that’s me and Black River News and I’m dependent on Black River News and regular news outlets for most of what I write. Black River News provides much of the local commentary and color, but we’re both dependent on news organizations to get the interviews, to hunt down the details. It is precisely these ‘smaller’ stories that we’re dependent on professional news organizations to cover, and it is these smaller stories that webloggers don’t tend to get interested in because there’s a lack of immediate sensationalism to many of the topics.

Then there’s the practical side to journalism: I can’t request an interview with Nixon, but the journalists at St. Louis Today can.

As for putting us to work so that stations and newspapers don’t have to pay for the professionals, I don’t feel like going down to Wal-Mart to fill in when Betty or Joe is fired, so why should I feel privileged to replace Betty or Joe at St. Louis Today? That’s the way to think of this: not as a ‘chance’ to get our 15 minutes, or a way of validating worth for people who are never satisfied; but how we’re being used to increase corporate profits while more workers are displaced. Working for virtual tips.

A hybrid solution has always seemed to me the way to go: provide an outlet for the locals, but keep the professionals working. That’s what we have: we have weblogs and newspapers; we have comment forums and TV or radio. We have cellphone pictures mixed in with photo journalism that changes the world.


Netflix vs Blockbuster: The winner is…

I had a Netflix account until Blockbuster came out with their, “Turn in a movie, get a movie” plan. It was a novelty to go into the local Blockbuster, turn in an envelope and get a movie. It was especially nice because online DVD rental places aren’t always good about sending that next video.

Recently Netflix came out with it’s responding shot: watch a movie online. Depending on how many movies you rent at a time, you can watch so many hours of movies online a month. It’s an interesting concept, though the original announcement was somewhat misleading because the plan is only now being rolled out and we’ll only be available to everyone in June. Additionally, you have to watch that movie within a web browser, which doesn’t provide the best viewing experience.

Late last week I switched back to Netflix, but it wasn’t because of this new deal, it was because of the old deal. One reason to have a service like Netflix is that you can access older or more unusual movies; movies that your local video rental shop doesn’t have. Yet when I put these items at the top of my list at Blockbuster, they’re never sent; even when shown as available in the queue, I would never get them. Blockbuster would pick movies from the middle of the list or the bottom over these movies–there was no rhyme or reason to how it made its shipment decisions.

As a test, I put three items that have been at the top of my list at Blockbuster for close to two weeks at the top of my newly re-awakened Netflix account. The next day, all three items shipped.

Netflix also has a better interface. It’s easier to find the movies I want, it’s recommendations are better, and it’s faster and less cluttered than the Blockbuster interface. Disregarding the ‘deal’ to turn a movie in for a free one, or watching movies online, when it comes to the ‘core’ business of providing DVDs based on a queue, especially older, foreign, or more unusual movies, Netflix is better.

It might not be ‘Web 2.0’, but all the gewgaws in the world won’t compensate when you let your core business flounder or fail.


Saturday Matinee

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I’m returning to the “Saturday Matinee” posts, where I’ll review an oldie but goodie movie beginning this weekend. Tomorrow, it’s a double feature: Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet and Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women.

There’s been an amazing number of old science fiction movies that have entered into public domain, as well as being re-released on multi-disc packs; many of which are fascinating to watch, because they provide a hint into the culture of the times (and based on the country where the film originates). I’ve also found that even the worst of these movies usually has a tiny spark of brilliance somewhere in them; if you pay attention, your time is rewarded.

Some movies have been lovingly restored to excellent condition and modern displays, such as The Beginning of the End and include interviews with someone associated with the movie (such as the director’s wife, or the director themselves). These movies typically have ‘bad’ ratings, and everyone talks about the poor acting, or the ‘cheezy’ effects.

I think we’ve become too dependent on effects now–especially computer effects. I, for one, really like the original Star Wars movies, with the use of models rather than the more modern CGI-based triple. I recently watched Disney’s Lady and the Tramp and was struck again how beautiful this movie is with its hand painted scenes. This same beauty is captured in more modern anime films, such as Spirited Away, with its combination of exquisite hand painted scenes and characters, combined with computer animation.

Modern television shows such as Battlestar Galactica and Firefly focus more on the characters then the effects. You can go an entire episode with both with not seeing much more than a ship hanging in space. I think that’s what makes these shows stand out: the development of the characters and plots as compared to reliance on effects.


Dirty margarita

I’m sitting here with what I call a ‘dirty margarita’. I learned this one from a restaurant a while back. Instead of salt around the rim, which the bartender considered equivalent to drinking Boones Farm apple wine–with a straw– you get that necessary salty tasty by pouring the margarita straight up with green olives–just like a martini.

Well, I don’t have a martini glass, but I can make a mean 30 or so proof margarita, and I throw several green olives at the bottom. It’s so much of a better drink, and it’s a giggle playing with the olives. When you’re drinking margaritas that can melt plastic, it’s necessary to have something to do with one’s tongue.

I watched two charming movies this week. The first was Monster-in-Law with Jane Fonda as the mother-in-law to be with Jennifer Lopez as the bride. I guess the snooty types would call it ‘predictable’ but I don’t care. I hereby forgive Fonda for selling out the cause of women while she was married to that macho prick (who was a good environmentalist) for so many years. She has finally become a good actor.

The second movie was The Wedding Date with Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney. A spurned woman hires a male prostitute to be her date at her sister’s wedding in England, where her ex-fiance is the best man. Of sure, it’s a rip on Pretty Woman, and there’s even a couple of scenes that seem to realize this in a tongue-in-cheek manner. ButDermot Mulroney. He would be worth it, even at 3000.00 pounds.

Actually, it was three charming movies this week. A few days ago, I watched a third lovely little movie, this one from Australia: Danny Deckchair. What I liked about it was that it wasn’t an Australian movie geared toward the US market. They didn’t exaggerate the accent or have all the characters wear hats with the sides pinned up — not to mention knee socks with the khaki shorts. No, this is the story of a man, a dreamer disappointed in life, who decides to attach several helium balloons to his lawn chair during a Bar-b-que. While watching a game on TV, his friends let him go and he flies away, away, until landing in the backyard of a women traffic cop in a place many miles away, where all the people are the type of people we’d like to live with. And then it goes from there.

The people at Rotten Tomatoes absolutely loathed all of them. However, If I only tell you about movies that would impress you, then I’d be marketing myself, rather than being myself, wouldn’t I? None of these movies are what you would call great cinema. But then, none of us are what you would call, great people. What’s wrong with simple people and simple charms and uncomplicated, gentle giggles–or a little romance?

Or a dirty margarita, and all of the above.

Okay, I’ve had my break. I’ve had my brakes, too. (Damn, but I’m a clever chicky.)

Back to explaining regular expressions in the book. I’m in the right state for it now.