The Traditionalist – Christopher Nolan

Interesting interview with Christopher Nolan, from the Director’s Guild of America.  Be sure to read through to the end for a priceless answer as to why he wears suit jackets all the time.  🙂 – JM, Bitch with Wi-Fi

 

The Traditionalist – Christopher Nolan.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Granada)

  • Title: The Complete Granada Television Series
  • Number of Discs: 12
  • Number of Episodes per Disc: 2-4
  • Original Network: ITV
  • Production Company: Granada
  • Cast: Jeremy Brett, David Burke (first season), Edward Hardwicke (subsequent seasons)

This is my original review for The Complete Granada Television Series of Sherlock Holmes, starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes and, David Burke and Edward Hardwicke as Watson. I’ve edited it a bit to clean it up and fix some typos, but it’s pretty much the same as my Live Journal entry from 12 November 2008.

First, this is the BEST traditional version of Sherlock Holmes ever. Jeremy Brett is THE perfect Holmes and I just love him. Both David Burke and Edward Hardwicke play Doctor Watson as an intelligent man with a deep, caring, (non-romantic) love for his best friend, Holmes. Brett plays Holmes as a brilliant man, with little to no social graces (He even attacks Watson when he must) – true to the books. Holmes is the original geek.

One of the interesting things about the Granada series is that they did adaptations of the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories, rather than thrusting Holmes into the modern day or at least “modern” stories. Holmes is a Victorian and Edwardian hero – and he’s at his best in the original stories as written by Conan Doyle. I also love both Watsons – quietly supporting Holmes, because he is the Doctor’s friend.

Both of the Watsons are intelligent, smart – and the handover, from David Burke in “The Final Problem” to Hardwicke in “The Empty House” and all subsequent episodes, is handled well. Holmesian lore remarks it’s like 2-3 years from Holmes “death” to his resurrection – an older Watson fits. I can’t even say one or the other actor’s my favorite since Burke fits the early Holmes stories and Hardwicke fits the latter ones.

The set is gorgeously packaged in a double slip-case, green with gold embossing, with Holmes’s sayings embossed on the inner case. The DVDs are packaged in two foldout cases, but at least the discs don’t overlap. Also, the set is digitally remastered. The episodes look fantastic, much, much better than the original “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” box set release of the first 13 episodes (only).  If you do have the original box sets of: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, and the Feature Film collection – then you already have the material in this set (there are only a couple of extra features unfortunately) – but the gorgeous, book-like case and digital re-mastering might make you want to pick this up as well.

SH_DVD-Set

Handy Hint for Cleaning Keyboards

Old make-up brushes are great for cleaning keyboards.  A large fluffy brush (with a longish handle) is great for getting crumbs, dust and other messes off the flat surfaces of the keyboard.  Thinner, flat brushes can clean between keys, without depressing the keys.  Also remember to flip the keyboard over and lightly tap the back to dislodge what’s gotten under the keyboard.

– JM, Bitch with Wi-Fi

Game of Thrones – Roar – Music Vid

As always with vids – didn’t make it just found it.

This is an awesome vid that celebrates the Women of Game of Thrones.  I’m a fan of traditional history-based fantasy.  Well, of most fantasy actually, even the more fantastic and urban fantasy, but one drawback of the genre is the few women in the genre are often boring or weak.  Or they are merely there to be won as a prize by the man.  Even in books written more recently, there’s often only one or two token “strong” women, and the rest of the characters are male.

Not to detract from those books, as I said, I often love them.  JRR Tolkien, and Jim Butcher are two of my favorite authors.  However, something that has really drawn me in to the televised version of Game of Thrones, has been the strong women.  And they aren’t super-women, either, endowed with magical powers.  The women of Game of Thrones often start in very traditional roles:  wife, mother, princess, tomboy, victim, but they grow, they mature, and they become these incredible characters.

Cat Tully Stark – Her arranged marriage to Ned Stark produced five children.  And she starts as wife and mother.  She’s also by no means perfect (no Mary Sue here) – watch her continual criticism and hatred of Jon Snow – Ned’s illegitimate son.  Or her occasional bad advice to Robb Stark.  Yet she is very strong as well.  She does become Robb’s second-in-command, and although she doesn’t know everything – neither does Robb.  And actually, there are times when if Robb had listened to his mother, she would have saved him a lot of grief (not to mention other things I’m trying to avoid spoiling).

Arya – She’s Ned’s tomboy daughter, and usually a character like Arya would have to “grow up and learn to act like a girl”.  Arya becomes an expert fencer, learns when to keep her mouth shut but also learns when to speak up.  She’s fiercely loyal to her friends, and capable of defending those who can’t defend themselves.

Brienne – Brienne actually starts as a strong character.  She’s a female knight.  Though she starts in the service of Renly Baratheon, and seem to have a crush on him – Renly is gay.  He’s never slept with his wife of two years much less Brienne.  When – SPOILER –  Renly dies, Brienne becomes a wandering knight.  No one takes her seriously, despite her skills, and it wasn’t her fault Renly died.  Brienne reminds me of every woman who’s a pioneer in a field dominated by men – she’s belittled, her skills are made fun of, she’s put down, people don’t believe in her, and even other women insult her for choosing a “male career”.   Brienne has to have confidence in herself, the ability to ignore what everyone is saying to her about her career choice, and, when necessary, she has to prove herself over and over, just like every woman who chooses a male-dominated career.  I hope we see more of Brienne in the future.

Cersei – Mother of the current king, wife of the dead king, another “victim” of arranged marriage.  She’s been having a long-term affair with her brother, even right under her husband’s nose.  Thus her three surviving children are all from the affair.  When introduced, Cersei seems almost like pure evil:  spiteful, unfair, the type of mother who sees one child as “perfect”, and not a very good wife.  But over the first three years of Game of Thrones – we see more of Cersei and at least get to understand where she comes from.  It is Cersei who gives the program it’s title, when she says, “In the Game of Thrones, you win or you die.”

Daenerys – When we meet her, her brother literally sells her into marriage with Khal Drago, the leader of a troop of wild people, something like the Mongols.  Her brother watches as Daenerys is raped over and over again by her “husband”.  But Daenerys perseveres.  She learns to enjoy sex and to take control in her husband’s tent.  She becomes “Khaleesi” – his queen.  She has a child, but the child dies and then her husband dies as well.  But it is once she is on her own that we really begin to see Daenerys shine. She leads her dead husband’s people, she becomes Queen in actions as well as name. When she is victimized – she fights back.  And before long she’s conquered three city-states, and freed the slaves within them.  Daenerys hates slavery – because she once was one.  It helps that she owns three growing dragons.

Other women of Game of Thrones:  Sansa – who starts as the “perfect princess” but learns to stand on her own feet – the hard way; Ygritte – who grew up North of the wall, and has an entirely different world view; etc.

And that isn’t to say that Game of Thrones is some inverse world where women have all the power and men are weak and boring.  Tyrion Lannister is easily one of the most complex and fascinating characters of the show.  Jamie Lannister, like his sister, is someone one can despise and love in equal measure, depending on what he’s doing that week.  Jon Snow is a popular character, and it’s not simply because of Kit Harrison’s looks.  There are many more.

So watch the vid – because THAT’s what I’m talking about! – JM, Bitch with Wi-Fi (didn’t make the vid, did write this post).

Star Trek: Into Darkness

  • Title:  Star Trek:  Into Darkness
  • Director:  JJ Abrams
  • Date:  2013
  • Studio:  Paramount
  • Genre:  SF, Action
  • Cast:  John Cho, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoë Saldana, Karl Urban, Peter Weller, Anton Yelchin
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“…You misunderstand, it is true I choose not to feel anything as my own life was ending.  As Admiral Pike was dying I joined with his consciousness and experienced what he felt at the moment of his passing:  anger, confusion, loneliness, fear – I had experienced those feelings before, multiplied exponentially on the day my planet was destroyed.  Such a feeling is something I choose never to experience again.” — Spock

“Don’t agree with me Spock, it makes me very uncomfortable.”  — McCoy

The opening vignette of Star Trek Into Darkness has Kirk and McCoy disguised on a red Class M planet.  Kirk holds a scroll and is running away.  The Natives follow, throw spears at him and at McCoy, as well. However, Kirk’s actions had been a distraction, so the Enterprise‘s shuttle can drop Spock, in a fire suit  to drop a cold fusion device into the active and ready to erupt volcano to prevent the eruption and save the indigenous life on the planet.  Kirk and McCoy dive into the water to escape the natives, and board the Enterprise.  However, Spock is in trouble and could be killed.  Kirk and the Enterprise save Spock, but incur Star Fleet’s wrath at the flagrant disregard for the Prime Directive.

A mysterious man (Benedict Cumberbatch) offers to cure the ill daughter of a Star Fleet officer.  The officer soon discovers the price as he has to blow-up a Star Fleet Archive building.

Pike finds Kirk in a bar, and brings him back to Starfleet.  He asks Kirk to be his first officer, Kirk accepts, and Pike takes him to a gathering of all Starfleet’s captains and first officers to discuss the destruction of the Archive and Starfleet’s response to the terror attack.  Kirk, wonders, however, why anyone would destroy an archive, especially when the information held there is public record.  Just as Admiral Marcus, Pike, and Kirk are realising that protocol for an attack calls for just this occurrance – all the captains and first officers in one room, the room is attacked by a helicopter-like gunship.  (Because apparently Starfleet never heard the old adage about not putting all your eggs in one basket.)  Pike’s killed.

Admiral Marcus calls Kirk and Spock into his office, he offers Kirk the Enterprise again, and Kirk asks for, and is granted, Spock as his first officer.  But Marcus’s plan is chilling – not only does he want Kirk to track down “John Harrison” the ex-Starfleet officer responsible for the attack – he wants Kirk to kill him. Specifically, even though Harrison is hiding on the Klingon home world and an attack on the home world would lead to all-out war, he wants Kirk to hide in the Neutral Zone and fire a new long-range photon torpedo at the uninhabited province where Harrison is hiding and obliterate him.

Scotty quits when the torpedoes are loaded on the Enterprise, and the security detail with them refuses to tell him what the payload is.  Scotty fears an interaction with the warp core. Kirk accepts Scotty’s resignation.

During the trip to the Neutral Zone, however, Kirk has second thoughts (helped by his conversation with Scotty, and additional conversations with McCoy and Spock) about blindly following the orders of Admiral Marcus to kill Harrison rather than capture him.

Kirk decides rather than killing Harrison outright, Kirk decides to capture Harrison.  He will take a landing party, and using the transport vessel from “the Mudd incident” will land on the Klingon home world, capture Harrison, and return him to Earth.  Kirk, Spock, Uhura and a guard take the shuttle down.  Uhura attempts to reach an agreement with the Klingons who attack their ship and force it down.  She’s doing OK, when they are attacked.  The fire fight is chaotic, but a mysterious man rescues them.

Kirk brings this man, Harrison, to the Enterprise and locks him in the brig.  However, he soon learns from the man, that, as Admiral Marcus had pointed out, the Archive that was destroyed wasn’t an archive or library – it was Section 31 HQ, home to Starfleet’s secret military and spy organization.  Moreover, Harrison wasn’t simply an agent there as Marcus said.  Harrison is Khan, a genetically engineered superhuman, who, with 72 other similar super humans was sent from Earth many years ago.  Marcus found his ship, kept the crew in cryo-suspension, but revived Khan.  Seeing Khan as the brilliant warrior he needed, he gave him a new identity (John Harrison) and set him to work developing weapons for Starfleet.  Khan tells Kirk, he had no choice, Marcus held his crew hostage.  However, he rebelled against being forced to make weapons and to create a “militarized Starfleet” – which was Marcus’s dream.

Kirk isn’t sure how much of this he buys, but he’s keeping an open mind, deciding to bring Harrison/Khan to Earth to tell his tale.

It’s easier said than done, when two problems occur:  first, the Enterprise Engine Core leak, that had stranded the ship short of it’s warp point goal, is getting much worse, threatening the entire ship.  And second, Admiral Marcus has arrived and is he pissed off that Kirk hasn’t killed Harrison/Khan, talked to Khan, and might believe Khan.

From what Marcus says, it’s clear that at least some of what Khan has said is true.

However, Marcus beams his daughter Carol from the Enterprise to his own dreadnought-class ship  then attacks the Enterprise.  Kirk, who’s also heard from Scotty, who checked on some co-ordinates Khan gave him.  Khan convinces Kirk the only way to defeat the dreadnought is from within.  Scotty has hidden aboard the ship.  Kirk and Khan space jump to the other ship, using jets to maneuver.  During the jump, Khan saves Kirk’s life.  Scotty lets them in.

But on the bridge, Khan shows his true colors.  He wants revenge on Marcus.  Kirk tries to arrest Marcus. Khan kills him.  Kirk, Carol, and Scotty are transported to the Enterprise brig.  Spock had transported the torpedoes to the dreadnought.  However, the torpedoes were primed and blow the ship.  Khan escapes. Khan’s crew, the 72 cryo tubes are in sickbay on the Enterprise.

However, the Enterprise is in trouble – the damage to the warp core is so bad the ship is dying and about to crash into Earth.  Kirk and Scotty try to fix the ship, but the engine core is mis-aligned, and can’t be fixed because of the radiation in the compartment.  Kirk goes into the compartment to fix it.  He succeeds and saves the ship but is dying from radiation poisoning.  Spock pulls the ship out of it’s dive.  Scotty calls him and asks him to come down. He goes, and in a reverse of Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan, it’s Kirk who dies and Spock who must watch. Their fingers even touch on the glass separating them.  Spock screams, “Khan!”.

Khan, meanwhile tries to crash his ship into Starfleet HQ and misses (He does destroy the Great Fire Memorial in San Francisco though.)  Spock chases down Khan, ready to kill him for killing Kirk.  Uhura stops him – McCoy’s realised that Khan’s blood can save Kirk, because of it’s regenerative abilities.

This works, and Kirk Lives.  One year later, Kirk re-dedicates the new Enterprise, reciting “the Captain’s Oath”, which we know as the opening to classic Star Trek.

JJ Abrams directs Star Trek:  Into Darkness at a breakneck speed.  The film moves, extremely fast – so fast, it’s hard to keep up with it at times.  However, the film also has it’s moments.  Harrison, as played brilliantly by Benedict Cumberbatch, is brilliant, from lone terrorist, to scientist who’s work is poached for weapons, to revenge-seeking madman, each of Khan’s roles is well played.  I avoided all spoilers when this movie came out last year, even the name of Cumberbatch’s character – so I was surprised to find out that “Harrison” was Khan. I enjoyed the film in the theater and enjoyed watching it again yesterday.  The film is fun, and the cast is excellent.  I really do like Pine, Quinto, and Urban.  And Cumberbatch played a multi-faceted villain with relish and even, at times, compassion.  Peter Weller was scary-good as the villainous Admiral Marcus.

Though not too much – because even if Marcus had cold-bloodily killed Khan’s crew, Khan’s attacks would have been over-kill.  The film, like the best Star Trek episodes and films raises questions. Questions about the power of the military, questions about the ability for news events to be shaped, and public opinion to be manipulated.  And it’s Kirk’s noted ability to stand against the rules and go with his gut that save him and his crew.  Kirk is willing to follow rules and regulations as needed, but he won’t stand by and watch a planet die because of them – nor will he kill a criminal who should rather be put on trial.  It’s a enjoyable rollar-coaster of a film, with a bit more to it, and I liked it.

Recommendation:  See It!
Rating:  4 out of 5 Stars
Next Film:  Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country

Hamlet (2009)

  • Title:  Hamlet
  • Director:  Gregory Doran
  • Date:  2009
  • Studio:  BBC / Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Genre:  Drama
  • Cast:  David Tennant, Patrick Stewart, Penny Downie, Mariah Gale
  • Format:  Color
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

The DVD is a filmed version of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Hamlet, starring David Tennant as Hamlet, and Sir Patrick Stewart as Claudius, costumed in modern dress — and it’s brilliant!  Instead of merely filming the production straight-on, this is an actual film (and shown on BBC television per IMDB) – shot on location at an old abandoned seminary (according to the behind-the-scenes feature).  A few scenes do look like an older college building, rather than a castle – but for the most part the location really works.

The main location in the film, the court at Elsinore, has a jet black shiny floor that would make an Art Deco set designer from RKO Pictures proud.  Seriously, I thought this was a set when I watched the film, though a brilliantly designed one, for a play about deception and secrets. That the basic space really existed is amazing!

Anyway, David Tennant is so brilliant in this — and I thought he was brill in Doctor Who.  He has a wonderful manic energy — but, because this is film, and shot as film – not a mere theatre archive piece, he also has the ability to go very quiet and intense (such as in the famous “To Be or Not To Be” speech). Tennant also brings to Prince Hamlet the impression that he’s really quite clever and crafty – he’s faking being insane while trying to decide what to do with the information provided by his Dad’s ghost.  OK, so maybe not totally sane — but Hamlet doesn’t come off at the whiny wimp he sometimes can.

Sir Patrick Stewart, meanwhile, is also brilliant as Claudius.  You can see how he manipulates everyone around him – Gertrude, and Laertes, especially.  But even courtiers like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern jump to do Claudius’ will, immediately.

Both Gertrude and Ophelia were brilliantly played.  Gertrude is especially good in the “closet” (or bedroom) scene with Hamlet.  And Tennant is scary good in that – especially when he breaks the mirror! Mariah Gale as Ophelia does a great job with her mad scene, though it’s a thankless role.

The only one I didn’t like in the play was Polonius – whom I found annoying.  Now maybe he’s supposed to be annoying, but his quoting of quaint proverbs sounds actually clichéd, and he underplays giving the lines too! (E.g. bits like giving his son the advice “neither a borrower or a lender be” when sending his son off to college or wherever Laertes is going at the start of the play).

I loved the use of highly polished surfaces throughout the play, such as the floor in the court, and also the mirrors.  The cracked mirror in Gertrude’s room seems to symbolise Hamlet’s cracking soul.  Brilliantly realised that!

The use of cctv footage (breaking to a view through a camera) I found less successful – it was distracting, and I even wondered if there was a fault in my DVD at first (like it was going to an alt-angle view or something for no reason).  According to the “Behind the Scenes” documentary on the DVD – this is meant to suggest the lack of privacy and the “all-knowing, all-watching” state that prevails at Elsinore.  It didn’t quite work for me.

But I do highly recommend this – Tennant is brilliant, Stewart is brilliant, the rest of the cast is fantastic, the film is quite, quite good.

Running time was at least three and a half hours, though.  I watched it last night, and man – it did feel a bit long. But still well worth it.  There are two special features and a commentary.  There’s a nice behind-the-scenes feature, which runs a bit over half-an-hour, and there’s a quick advert for careers in the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company), that’s actually pretty cool.  Haven’t listened to the commentary yet.

Recommendation:  See it!
Rating:  5 of 5 Stars!

The Librarian Curse of the Judas Chalice

  • Title:  The Librarian Curse of the Judas Chalice
  • Director:  Jonathan Frakes
  • Date:  2008
  • Studio:  TNT (TV movie)
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
  • Cast:  Noah Wyle, Bob Newhart, Jane Curtin, Stana Katic
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen (HD)
  • DVD Format:  NTSC, R1

“Maybe some women are OK with the wild and unpredictable lifestyle of dating a librarian, but I’m not.”  — Katie, when she dumps Flynn

“Charlene, How big is the library?”  – Flynn
“As big as we need it to be.” – Charlene

“You cannot escape your destiny, Flynn.” – Simone
“I was trying to take a little vacation from it but it didn’t seem to work out.” – Flynn
“No, if you fight your destiny you will be miserable.  You must embrace it and revel in every moment.” – Simone

The third film starts with Flynn, wearing a black tuxedo, and attending a high priced auction.  But rather than having the sophistication of James Bond, this is still our Flynn – the free champagne causes him to sneeze, though he also points out it’s not technically champagne but an Italian sparkling wine.  During the auction, not only does Charlene call to remind him of The Library’s budget, but his girlfriend, Katie calls to break up with him. Between the two conversations on his cell phone, and the auction itself, Flynn is distracted and accidentally raises the bid much too high several times.  Finally, it total frustration, he bids L1 million Pounds Sterling.  He wins the vase, and back at The Library, Charlene nearly faints. After the auction, Flynn picks up his vase, intentionally drops it, and shatters it into a million pieces, he finds and takes a small cloth bag, and hides it in his jacket pocket.  The other bidder arrives, and when he sees what’s happened, tries to take the item from Flynn. It turns out it’s the Philosopher’s Stone which can turn anything it touches into gold. Flynn and his rival fight, with anything at hand, including a throw pillow that Flynn’s quickly turned to gold. The fight merges into a stolen sword, sword-fight. Flynn, after some difficulty, escapes with the Stone.

Flynn goes to the hotel bar to meet his girlfriend, but she’s left.  He returns to the Library, where Charlene and Judson show him the Large Collection Annex, which, among other things, includes Noah’s Ark.  However, Flynn, though impressed, is fed-up.  He mentions his relationships that haven’t worked out:  Nicole, Emily, now Katie.  And how he can’t even tell his mother the importance of his work.  In short, he has a meltdown and threatens to quit.  Judson and Charlene ask him to take a vacation instead.

So Flynn does, but he merely stays in his apartment, eating take-out.  Charlene drops by one night at drops off a bunch of travel brochures.  Flynn is polite to her, but doesn’t take her suggestion seriously.  That night he has a dream of a Siren calling him, then sees a statue of a rearing horse.  When he wakes, he looks at the brochures again and finds one with the same rearing horse.  He decides to head to New Orleans on vacation.

In New Orleans, Flynn seems determined to have a very boring vacation, at first.  But one night he wanders into a bar, and sees the woman from his dream singing on stage.  During her break, he sits at her table and tries to buy her a drink.  This seems to be going terribly, when some heavies show up and come after the girl.  She and Flynn escape.

Flynn and the girl, Simone, spend the night together.  The next day, she’s gone.  Flynn runs into Judson in a barbershop, and learns a bit about the plot.  It seems that the Judas Chalice, an artifact made by melting the 30 pieces of silver paid to Judas Iscariot to betray Christ, is in play.  The Chalice has the power to re-animate dead vampires.  Meanwhile, the coffin of Dracule – aka, Vlad the Impaler, has disappeared.

Flynn and Simone, attempt to follow the clues to solve this new riddle.  Simone, guards a key that leads to the hiding place of the chalice.  Through a series of adventures they solve the puzzles.  However, Simone is a vampire – this isn’t too bad, she keeps blood in her fridge and has no desire to snack on Flynn.  Flynn also runs into a famous professor, whom he thinks is killed by the vampires chasing him.

The conclusion, is much more bittersweet than the previous Librarian films.  However, Flynn has once again, learned how important it is that he remain The Librarian.  He’s also learned that The Library is part of a larger struggle of Good vs. Evil.  And he’s picked up a little background on Judson.  Flynn, once at the verge of quitting, returns to The Library.

The third and final Librarian film, The Librarian Curse of the Judas Chalice, is a little weak in spots. The entire film, for the most part, is set in New Orleans, though it makes use of the location. I liked Flynn’s pal, the cabbie – who continuously shows-up to help Flynn and get him whatever he needs – a cemetery tour, a rental boat, etc.  Simone, a 300-year old vampire with a desire to take revenge on the one who made her, is a new twist on Flynn’s female companion du jour.  Bob Newhart and Jane Curtin round out the cast to make the film that much more fun.  Still, I missed the more global-trotting aspects of the previous films.  Though having the humor back was a bonus.  Overall, the film was enjoyable and fun.  Later this year, in December 2014, TNT will bring The Librarians to the small screen, starring Wyle, Newhart, Curtin, John Larroquette, and Christian Kane (of TNT’s Leverage). I’m actually looking forward to seeing it.

Recommendation:  See It – this film is especially appropriate for children
Rating:  3.8
Next Film:  Star Trek:  Into Darkness

Mid-Term General Observations about Film

After reviewing about half the films in my collection and realising that I would not be finished in a single year as I hoped, I posted my intent to continue with my blog, The Movie Project.  Three years on, the project is on-going.  However, the total number of reviews will be over two hundred, rather than the 160 or so originally planned.

And now for some general observations and notes. As I suspected, I don’t think you can really say that films used to be better in the past than now. Some of the very best movies in my collection are from the 2000s: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Moulin Rouge, Batman Begins, (Batman) The Dark Knight, (Batman) the Dark Knight Rises. I’d put any of these films up against any classic movie from the past — and they’d come out on top, and not simply because of advances in special effects. I personally think special effects should be used to help realistically bring the story to the screen – and an effects-laden story without heart, without character, without story, never means anything to me. On the other hand, there is a tendency among film critics to sometimes dismiss a film simply because it uses a lot of special effects. This is frankly a ridiculous prejudice on the part of some film critics. Some films need special effects in order to be told correctly and in order to work as a film — it’s another tool in the director’s toolbox, like music, like sound design.

Another observation, and anyone who watches a lot of movies – and not just current movies, but all movies should have noticed this, is that each era seems to produce a certain type of movie, or at least become known for a certain type of film. The 1930s for example were known for musicals and the beginnings of Film Noir. Film Noir virtually defines the 1940s. The 1970s, by contrast, were known for comedy. The 2000s seem to be producing a lot of big budget, effects-laden epics (a echo of the 1960s maybe?). I wonder if any film historian or film studies professor has ever used a decade by decade approach to presenting the type of films that defined a decade.