DVDs, Books, Games, and more

Monday, August 27, 2007

Doomsday Gun - DVD

AndyO review: * * *

The true story of Gerald Bull, who wanted to build the biggest gun in history -- capable of delivering a projectile 1000 miles away. After the U.S. put him in jail for violating arms export laws, he decided he'd build his "supergun" for the highest bidder. This bidder turned out to be Iraq.

Frank Langella has an uncanny ability to play characters who are on (or just over) the edge of moral bankruptcy. Kevin Spacey plays a cynical CIA agent trying to stay sane in an otherwise insane world.

Wikipedia article about Gerald Bull


posted by AndyO @ 8:44 PM   0 comments

Sunday, August 12, 2007

You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again - Book

I bought this book a while ago, and the other day I started reading the section about the author, the late Julia Phillips, producing "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," one of my favorite movies.

I was really taken by her warts-and-all portrait of herself and other people (although Spielberg doesn't seem to get any warts in what I read). When you read about her manic journey into movie producing, with all the crazy characters, you wonder how a movie ever gets made -- and how it could ever turn out as good as "Close Encounters" or "Taxi Driver" (another film she produced).

I know the Hollywood of the Seventies is long gone, as is Julia Phillips, but this books serves as one person's document about how some of the best movies got made.

My favorite quote: "Of all the dead people I know Francois Traffaut wins the prick award hands down." (Traffaut, the famous French director of films "Day for Night" and "The 400 Blows," played Claude Lacombe, the French Project Director in "Close Encounters.")

She goes on to talk about how Traffaut fakes the deafness in one ear so that he can pull power plays on people, making them repeat themselves all the time. She sets up a bet with Spielberg that if she whispers "Francois" at a dinner that Traffaut will look up. She whispers it, and he does look up. Then Spielberg welches on the bet! Funny stuff.

Another historical note about Phillips is she was the first woman to win the Oscar as producer for "The Sting."


posted by AndyO @ 6:27 PM   0 comments

Underdog - Theater

AndyO review: * 1/2

Metacritic score: 37 (out of 100)

The reason this movie gets one-and-a-half stars instead of one is that my son loved it. So his opinion, you could say, influenced the addition of one-half star.

I love kids' movies. I think the Pixar films are some of the best movies ever. The Shrek films are also very good. But if the writers get lazy, then they're going to lose points. There's a fine line between homage and stealing, and this movie blatantly steals. It's almost as if the filmmakers thought "Hey, a bunch of little kids are seeing this movie -- they won't know." Here are some scenes that they stole and perhaps what the filmmakers were thinking:

Lady and the Tramp:

  • The famous eating scene with the spaghetti and meatballs ("Oh, Disney is distributing this movie, we can steal from all those films!")

Superman in general:

  • Flying man, flying dog. ("Who will guess where we got this one!?")
  • A superhero outfit complete with cape and "U" instead of an "S." ("It's a totally different letter!")
  • A way of taking away the dog's power -- like Kryptonite ("It's a pill, not an element. That's not the same at all!")
  • The dog has a secret identity ("It's not like we named him Clark Dog... his name's Shoeshine!).
  • The dog's love interest is in love with his superhero alter-ego. ("It's not like we named her Lois Dog.)

Superman: The Movie

  • When Superman takes Lois flying over Metropolis: "Can you read my mind?" ("Hey, we didn't use the song--and we didn't have the dog start singing those words... there's no similarity here!")
  • When Superman goes underground to repair the San Andreas Fault. ("No, our dog takes a stick of high explosives deep into the earth... he's not trying to repair anything!")
  • When Superman stops the cat burglar. ("Oh, this will be even better because a dog is saying it!")
  • When Superman rescues a cat. ("Can you imagine the laughs? A dog rescuing a cat!")

Superman Returns:

  • The scene where Superman flies into space and then enters the earth's atmosphere. ("Hey, this is a pretty new reference. Plus, this happened in 'Apollo 13.' Plus it's pretty cool watching the dog burning through the atmosphere. Get it! He's a Hot Dog!")

OK, so I think you see what I'm talking about. If there's anything I dislike more in a movie, it's lazy screenwriting. I don't care if it's for a kids' movie or not. It's as if the screenwriters had a bunch of 3x5 cards with all the Superman references, and they pulled out what they wanted.

Of course, the screenwriters might have had a really great script that the director ruined with all these cliches; but we'll never know.

So, what did I like about the film? Jim Belushi and the dog talking effects.


posted by AndyO @ 5:58 PM   0 comments

Thursday, August 09, 2007

H is for Hellgate - CD

I played a gig with this band a few months ago in Seattle, and I liked them. They have a unique indie/progressive style. My brother bought me the CD, and I finally got around to listening to it. You can check them out here:



posted by AndyO @ 7:19 PM   0 comments