Friday, December 18, 2009

Fool Disclosure

It's finally winter here in Blogorium central; a polite but persistent snow fall fell for most of the day and well into the night, blanketing the streets and buildings with nary a Mr. Plow truck in sight. This would be as good a time as any for your Cap'n to stay in and watch movies, but as I must always buck the trends you expect of me, I'm going to go for a walk in just a bit here, over to Major Tom's Festivus get together.

(This is probably for the best, because blogspot is being awfully naughty and not auto-saving this, so who knows if this entry will be up when I leave)

Nevertheless, I do have quite a bit to watch here at HQ: there's The Hangover, Public Enemies, and the latest Netflix arrival, Bobcat Goldthwait's World's Greatest Dad, a black comedy that reunites him with Robin Williams (who has a cameo in Shakes the Clown). As I put Inglorious Basterds on a familial Festivus list, that's going to have to wait at least another week. While I'm out of town next week, the Cap'n is planning on seeing Sherlock Holmes and Up in the Air.

Quite a busy schedule, I admit. But that's what I will be doing. What I have been doing, aside from finishing Eoin Colfer's ...And Another Thing* and Harlan Ellison's Watching, is watching Slacker and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets again, both with supplements on.

I will say that as much as Slacker grates on my nerves, with its endlessly freshmen-level philosophy rants, the Richard Linklater commentary track is much more interesting. The reason I decided to put it on in the first place is due to how much I enjoyed his track on Dazed and Confused, a film (that I have stated many times) still holds up every time I revisit it.

Sure enough, Linklater brings a mix of technical, historical, and anecdotal information to the table, and manages to contextualize most of the rambling monologues in a way that's more entertaining than the film itself. I'm still on the fence about Me and Orson Welles, but if nothing else, I consistently enjoy Linklater the speaker, even if his films don't always work for me.


The first thing that stood out while watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in light of everything that followed is how much of a "children's movie" it is. Perhaps it's merely that Chris Columbus trades in those sorts of films, or that the expectations were that only children would be interested in the second Harry Potter film, but it's filled with "aw wow!" moments that compound and get a little worn by the twenty minute mark.

If you're thinking "well, of course they do! it's a children's movie!", then you've a) fallen into the trap I laid out in the paragraph above, or b) are perhaps unaware that so-called "children's movies" can actually be entertaining to people who lost their baby teeth long ago. Pixar has consistently been proving that for years, but if I need to provide more examples: Labyrinth, Gremlins, Fantasia, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Time Bandits, The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and even Kung Fu Panda. Not to mention the four Harry Potter films that follow Chamber of Secrets, which are also presumably "children's movies", but challenge the audience with less simplistic characters and better than "gee whiz" effects for their own sake.

Still, I have to give Chamber of Secrets some credit: I hated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Philosopher's Stone, and had I not given the second film a chance to win me back over, it is very unlikely that review of Half Blood Prince would ever have come to pass. It is a better movie than the first one, if for nothing else than introducing the plot point that Harry might be a spiritual heir to Voldemort and not the Chosen One. Moral ambiguity usually helps in tempering "children's" entertainment.


Apparently the Federal Trade Commission wants bloggers to make it abundantly clear when / if we're reviewing or advocating something that was given to us, so as not to muddy the waters about endorsements. In the interest of full disclosure, Nobody Gives The Cap'n Movies/Books/Music/Etc to Review. I'm not saying that wouldn't be nice, but the reality is that I either buy or rent the movies in question. The only films provided to me come from Netflix, a service I pay for, so no one is buying my opinion.

Now if you want to buy my opinion, I'm not going to turn down free movies. I'll just be telling everybody that you gave them to me. But that's fair, right?

* A pretty good book, particularly if you've been longing for something since Mostly Harmless. It periodically has flashes of Douglas Adams but suffers the most from the fact that Eoin Colfer is not Douglas Adams. That being said, the story is entertaining: it involves Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged, Thor, and a colony planet for wealthy Earthlings modeled after Innisfree as realized in The Quiet Man. Don't go in expecting a purely Hitch-Hiker's experience, but there is some fun to be had from Colfer's book and seeing everyone again, plus a rather amusing Blade Runner reference.

No comments: