I’ve been wandering through Saint Vinnie’s for weeks without finding a single thing I considered for a moment worth purchasing. Then, today, I wandered in, not expecting to find anything, yet within five short minutes of walking in the front door, I was cradling a copy of the Jules Verne Omnibus, a big, thick, old-looking book that included From The Earth To The Moon, a book I haven’t read to this day, although I promise to rectify that oversight this weekend.

Not far from that I found a memoir of Franklin Roosevelt by Rexford Tugwell. Who names their kid Rexford Tugwell? Well, the Tugwell part of the naming is already done for you, but really, Rexford? If you’re going to name your kid Rexford, you’ve got to be pretty damned confident he’s going to grow up to attend Columbia and become a close personal friend and confidant of the President of the United States.

But the catch of the day, I have to say, was the two-disk special edition DVD release of Monty Python and the Holy Grail! Zow. The second disk includes, among other things, the complete movie dubbed into Japanese, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail in Lego!

Happy Friday.


Watch this one-minute movie trailer and you’ve literally seen all the best parts of Clash of the Titans, possibly the silliest movie I’ve ever sat all the way through. We saw this trailer about a week ago and thought, “Well, that could be fun.” It isn’t.


After The Thin Man After the Thin Man is a movie so unlike The Thin Man that it hardly counts as a sequel.

In the first movie, Nick and Nora drink more gin than any two people have ever drunk at any time in human history. And, incidentally, there’s a murder mystery that gets solved more or less accidentally when Nick invites all of the suspects to his house for a dinner party. After gabbing about the few facts in the case he’s overheard from a friendly police inspector, one of the suspects tries to shoot him. Whether it’s because the suspect is afraid of being caught, or because he’s tired of listening to Nick, is something of a loose end.

In the second movie, Nick and Nora drink one cocktail each in two or maybe three scenes, and Nick does some actual detective work this time, sneaking into apartments and finding secret compartments, although at the end of the movie he solves the crime by falling back on the tactic of corralling all the suspects in one room and rehashing the facts of the case until one of the suspects pulls a gun. It turned out to be the one guy My Darling B suspected the minute he appeared on-screen because it was the one guy she really, really did not want to be the bad guy. But he was. Spoiler alert.

Maybe Nick and Nora will get back to having some fun in Another Thin Man, and Asta will ditch that tramp that keeps running around on him.


Was going to put together the book shelves in the guest room and fix them to the walls, but My Darling B talked me into watching a movie instead. Too late after the movie to bang holes in walls. Too sleepy to use power tools. Off to bed.

Good movie, though. Doubt with Meryl Streep. I love watching Meryl Streep do her job.


Zombie on a plane! How come nobody’s made that movie yet? A guy gets mugged on his way to the airport and, unbeknownst to him and everyone on the place, the zombie apocalypse has just begun. Even though the mugger manages to drag the guy to the ground and bite him the guy manages to fight the mugger off and escape, but it’s too dark for him to see that it’s a zombie. He’s in a hurry to catch the plane to see his dying mother or something like that, so he just patches himself up with overpriced Band-Aids from the airport concession, jumps on the plane and doesn’t think any more of it until he starts to feel sick, which inevitably leads to the scene where he bursts from the airplane lavatory and starts eating passengers and crew. Honestly, I can’t believe nobody’s thought of this yet. Then again, I only thought of it because that was my dream last night. That was my nightmare. Gah. Agh.

The Artist

The most surprising thing about the movie The Artist is that it’s not just a movie about a silent film actor who’s too vain to make the leap to talkies, it’s a silent film itself – entirely silent, just like they were in the old days, with music playing throughout and the occasional title card to let you in on the dialog, when there is any. No voice is heard until the last minute of the film and the lead actor, Jean Dujardin, speaks just two words.

The second most surprising thing is that I enjoyed it a lot. When it comes to silent films, I’m really more of a Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd kind of guy, maybe because I have such a short attention span. My mind tends to wander when I watch most feature-length silent films, although there are some exceptions: Metropolis, The General, or 2001: A Space Odyssey are the first examples that come to mind. And I have to admit that my mind did keep wandering to the question, Are they ever going to say anything? while I was watching The Artist, but I still enjoyed just about every minute of it.

I’m trying to think of a scene that I didn’t enjoy. Hmmm. Nope, I guess I enjoyed all of it, sorry.


Did you watch The Taking of Pelham One Two Three yet? The Walter Matthau version, not that other piece of crap. The whole thing is on YouTube, though probably not for long, so you should watch it RIGHT NOW! The first time I saw it was back in about 1970 on a nine-inch black-and-white television set, so you’ll be seeing it about the same way except IN COLOR and with all the swearing.

There’s a lot of swearing, in the spirit of making the characters talk like New Yorkers, I guess, one of my favorite things about this movie. I didn’t know they cussed like that until I rented the movie twenty years later because, before video rentals, the only way for me to see it was on the late show, when all the cussing was dubbed over with “hecks” and “gosh-darneds.” Did you know “the late show” used to be a generic way of referring to movies they showed on television after ten o’clock? Then it became the name of Letterman’s comedy gig, as well as a way for old farts to get off the subject.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is still one of my favorite heist movies, not least because of the musical score, which must have come to composer David Shire in a nightmare. I’m thinking alcohol might have been involved. It has been whenever I’ve had nightmares that sounded like that.

Then there’s the cast. Martin Balsam. Robert Shaw. Walter Matthau. Jerry Stiller. This guy. You know him, you’ve seen him in dozens of movies, you just don’t know his name. I sure didn’t.

And the movie doesn’t waste any time getting started. It’s about four guys who hijack a New York subway train. Ten minutes into the movie, they’ve already done it. The rest is Walter Matthau trying to figure out how Robert Shaw and his gang are going to escape a subway tunnel in possession of a million dollars worth of tens and twenties without being caught.

As it turns out, Garber, the transit cop investigating the heist and Matthau’s character in the movie, never does catch on. His boss, a chief inspector named Daniels, comes up with it in a phone call to Garber, who tells Daniels why that won’t work, then not long afterward Garber suggests exactly the same thing. Not unreasonably, Daniels calls bullshit on Garber, but listens to him anyway, and why wouldn’t he? Daniels thought of it first. But no plausible explanation is ever given for Garber dumping on Daniel’s idea, then backing up and claiming it must be the solution to the mystery. It’s one of the most poorly-written scenes in the film.

The only other scene that didn’t work for me involved Matthau again: Garber and this guy do a Frick and Frack routine all through the movie. Matthau was obviously cast for this part so he could fire off one quip after another in his Matthau-like way, and this guy was his counterweight. Then, for no reason that I have ever been able to make out, Matthau goes all Clint Eastwood on this guy, giving him a thorough ass-chewing before throwing him into his chair. It’s completely out of character and totally unnecessary. In fact, it pretty much shot the dynamic between the two characters all to pieces.

(I’ve read that the end of that scene was a goof: Matthau was supposed to drop this guy into his chair, but shoved him as he let go of this guy‘s shirt front. The chair tumbled over, this guy fell on his ass and the glare he gave Matthau at the end of the take was out of character. He was genuinely surprised and not a little pissed at being thrown on the floor.)

Those are minor nits, though. I must have watched this movie half a dozen times on the late show, and at least a half-dozen times more when I found a copy of it on VHS tape at Saint Vincent de Paul’s thrift store. I’m this close to ordering a DVD so I can watch it again.

Little bit of trivia for you: The first sound uttered in the movie comes from Martin Balsam, sneezing. The last line spoken is, “Gesundheit!” Nuff said.


Right in the middle of the movie The Adjustment Bureau when the men in the sinister gray hats lost control of Matt Damon, they called in “The Hammer” to fix things. If you were a movie director and you had to cast a guy who would look menacing just by walking into the scene, who would you have called? Remember, it would have to be somebody who would look menacing in a fedora. Myself, I would have called Christopher Walken. I’m pretty sure he could look menacing wearing a beanie. In fact, I think he would look even more menacing wearing a beanie than not.

But they didn’t call Christopher Walken, and too bad. They called Terence Stamp. It puzzles me that people find Terrance Stamp menacing. Maybe I don’t have enough history with Terence. Maybe he use to play nothing but total badasses back in his heyday and that’s why they cast him to be Superman’s archenemy Zod in Superman 2. Too bad that was the most cringingly bad Superman movie ever made (the one with Richard Pryor was merely laughably bad) and the memory I took away from it was Terence Stamp uttering, in what I can only imagine was meant to be an imperious manner, the line “Kneel before Zod!” Since he was supposed to be a villain so badass that he kicked Superman around the block, I’m sure he was meant to be menacing, but when he barked this command at a cowering E.G. Marshall, it only made him look like a dork. The space suit that looked like it was made out of heavy-duty Hefty bags didn’t help, either.

Should’ve gone with Walken.


Here’s what I got out of The Adjustment Bureau, one of Matt Damon’s latest flicks. I know it came out last summer but I mostly see films after they’re released to DVD and I can rent them from a local store. After the last local video store is killed off by Netflix and Amazon direct streaming, I’ll have to either cave in and start watching what Netflix, Blockbuster and Amazon will offer, or stop watching movies. Or move to another country where they still have neighborhood video stores. So I still have a choice, eh? Not the end of the world.

Anyway, that Matt Damon can run like a bat out of hell, can’t he? It could be simple trick photography, or maybe they enhance the scene in production with a computer, but I like to think he really can run like a steam engine going flat-out down the track, arms and legs wheeling tirelessly. When he gets going, the man looks like he could outrun a charging grizzly bear.

The other take-away from this movie was, I sure like to watch Matt Damon being a good guy. He’s not bad at a lot of other acting. I like his action movies, and he has pretty good comic timing, but mostly I like him when he’s buddying up to somebody. He’s got a couple scenes in The Adjustment Bureau with Emily Blunt where they have such chemistry together, he looks like he could charm the stockings right off her or any girl he sidled up to in a night club, even if she didn’t know he was a famous film star.

But other than that, I didn’t get much out of this movie. It was very good-looking, and the writing was good enough that I wanted to keep watching, but I never did figure out what this movie was supposed to be about. Neither did anyone else I watched it with. “What is this movie supposed to be?” My Darling B asked at one point. “Science fiction? Fantasy? A love story? A comedy?” I think the director was trying to get all that in there, and he very nearly did. It almost ended up being an action/comedy, like The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (the Walter Matthau version, not that other piece of crap), combining science fiction/fantasy underpinnings with a romance, like maybe The Fisher King or Brazil, but it just didn’t come off. The romance didn’t quite work for me, in spite of the chemistry between Damon and Blunt, and the fantasy didn’t work, either, because even though walking through a door to another world it pretty cool, being able to do it only when you’re wearing a hat is kind of lame.

But Matt Damon, man, he sure can run fast.


I watched Blade Runner a week or two ago with my son, who thinks it’s as awesome as I thought it was when I was twenty-one years old. And I still get a great big techno-boner watching the flying cars weave between the blindingly-lit thousand-story buildings of Los Angeles in the far-flung year of 2019. This is a movie you could watch with the sound off, the better to soak up the geeky details they painstaking added to every single scene.

With the sound on, though, this is a movie that makes me like it a little less each time I watch it. At the time it was released in 1982, Blade Runner got a lot of attention for being a movie that questioned what it means to be human. The story follows four replicants who have escaped from their human handlers, and Deckard, a blade runner, a police officer who specializes in finding replicants.

The world of 2019 is pretty standard for a sci-fi movie: The planet has been so ravaged by humankind that people live crowded shoulder-to-shoulder in hellish cities like the Los Angeles of the movie, and giant floating billboards urge everyone who will listen to emigrate “off-world.” Replicants, robots with bodies so life-like that they appear to be human, and brains clever enough to act human, prepare other worlds for humans to live on. They are not supposed to be on Earth, only on faraway planets, but apparently they get loose often enough that people like Deckard have job security.

And here’s where the story, such as it is, starts to break down: Why would replicants have to look like humans? They really don’t. If their purpose is to prepare other planets for human habitation, they could look like anything. In fact, they really should look like giant earth-movers or bulldozers or whatever. I wouldn’t have any problem pondering the meaning of intelligent machines if they looked like machines, but the reason for them looking exactly like people is never discussed much.

One of the replicants, who looks like a woman, is described with a sly smile as “your basic pleasure model,” so it would almost make sense that her makers would want her to look human, except that it doesn’t make any sense because the question of why anyone would go to the staggering expense of building a robot hooker is so stupid it doesn’t even bear consideration.

Another replicant is described as a combat model. Why would that guy look even remotely human? Why wouldn’t he be a flying gun? Or a gaping mass of swirling blades? It doesn’t make any sense at all for him to look human, even if only for the element of surprise. The moment he tears someone’s arms and legs off, his cover’s blown.

But let’s assume that, for whatever reason, replicants have to look human to work the magic of making other planets habitable for humans to live on. Okay, why wouldn’t we want them on Earth, then? Why wouldn’t we have an army of replicants right here on earth, re-making it so it will be habitable once again? There’s no way it’s even remotely possible that our home planet, the planet on which we live and thrive even when it’s a mess, would be more difficult to clean up than a planet that was not fit for human life before replicants killed off every single bit of the local flora and fauna and replaced it with more friendly animals and plants that we could eat. Replicants only become a danger to humans in this movie when people like Deckard start shooting at them.

And if the question we’re supposed to ponder after watching this movie is, What’s it mean to be human? My answer, based on this movie, would be: It means we will all have to travel light-years across space to live on other planets if we want to survive, and even then it’ll only be due to the benevolence of our robot overlords.

The new ending, by the way, sucks. The old ending kind of sucked, too, but the new one, which strongly hints, but never concretely establishes, that Deckard is a replicant, sucks more. When he was a human hunting robots, the conflict was pretty cut and dried and you could argue all night with the rest of the guys in your dorm about the difference between human and robot intelligence, but now that it’s a story about robots hunting robots, whoopee. Who gives a shit about robots that don’t show an ounce of moral conflict when it comes to killing humans, and have to make no more than a binary choice when it comes to killing other robots: If he tries to stop me, then I’m going to stop him. I don’t see that it requires intelligence to complete a conditional statement that a beginning programmer can write, and I don’t feel any concern over “killing” robots that kill humans. Kind of a no-brainer.

And that’s the way I trash Blade Runner, one of my all-time favorite science fiction movies. If you want, I’ll also tell you how the Christmas classic Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer stinks on ice.