Sunday, December 29, 2013

"BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER" – Who Is To Blame in (7.19) "Empty Places"?




“BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER” – WHO IS TO BLAME IN (7.19) “EMPTY PLACES”?

Nearly five years ago, an episode viewed by many ”BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER” fans as controversial, aired during the show’s final season. The name of that episode was (7.19) ”Empty Places”

In this episode, the citizens of Sunnydale finally desert the town in masse after realizing that their chances of surviving the upcoming apocalypse might be non-existent. Even demons like Clem desert. Buffy, the Scoobies, Spike, Faith and the Potentials are still smarting from their defeat at the hands of Caleb in the previous episode, (7.18) ”Dirty Girls”. To relieve the Potentials of their gloomy moods, Faith took them for one last night of fun at the Bronze, a local nightclub. The fun ended in near disaster, after an encounter with police. But when Buffy suggested that Caleb may be hiding something of great value in the vineyard – the scene of their last defeat – the Scoobies, the Potentials, Giles, Wood and Dawn finally turned their backs on her . . . and kicked her out of her own home.

I have found the general reaction to the characters’ actions in ”Empty Places” rather interesting. I realize that I should not be amazed, considering human nature. Yet, I am. There have been fans that came to the conclusion that all of the characters had reacted badly to the situation. These fans even managed to pinpoint on the characters’ fears and flaws that led to their individual decisions. But the majority of fans seem determined to place the blame of what happened on either Buffy or those who had rejected her. And especially in regard to the latter, many fans seemed to have vented their ire on a handful of characters. 

Personally, I believe they were all at fault. To be honest, Buffy was not a good leader throughout Season Seven. This became painfully clear when she assumed leadership over the Potentials. Instead of resorting to the usual methods she had utilized when leading the Scoobies against the Big Bad at the end of the previous seasons – listening to her friends and considering their suggestions – Buffy resorted to acting like General von Summers by insisting that her views are correct, ignoring any advice given by others and viewing herself as the law, whose word should not be questioned. She painfully reminded me of the Watchers’ Council at their worst. Which should not surprise me, considering that her only guide on how to be a leader came from a Watcher. Her Watcher . . . namely one Rupert Giles.

Giles’ own actions before this episode had contributed a great deal to the schism between himself and Buffy. He was the one who had insisted that Buffy lead the Potentials. He was the one who had taught her to be a killer, instead of a leader. And when she failed to become an effective leader - no surprise there - he was the one who constantly complained about her ineffectiveness. And then to make matters worse, he betrayed her by trying to get Spike killed behind her back . . . and never expressed any remorse for his actions. Naturally this pissed off Buffy. But when she finally rejected his role as her authority figure, he became resentful and even more critical . . . and stabbed her in the back, again. And yet, the fans ended up expressing more hostility toward characters like the Potentials (especially Kennedy and Rona), Robin Wood, Dawn and the Scoobies than toward Giles. I guess as a long established authority figure, Giles was exempt from their hostility. Well, from the hostility of most fans. There are those who keep claiming that Giles had changed during Season 7. And there were those who condemned him as much as they condemned the others. By the way, I don't think that Giles had changed. I think that Buffy's view of him had. 

The actions of others did not serve them very well. Both Willow and Xander seemed resentful of Buffy’s growing distance from them. Despite enjoying their friendship with her, both have demanded that she live up to her role as ”the Slayer” They wanted to put her on a pedestal, yet at the same time, they demanded that she stays as close to them as possible. Dawn’s own insecurites spawned by her encounter with the First in (7.07) ”Conversations With Dead People” has led her to wonder if Buffy cared more about being a Slayer than her. This insecurity has apparently led Dawn to finally reject Buffy’s role as authority figure in this episode. I am not saying that Dawn was wrong. She had every right to reject Buffy’s authority. Only, she did it by insisting that Buffy move out of the house . . . her sister’s house. I would not be surprised that Robin Wood still maintained a resentment against Buffy for choosing Spike – the vampire who had killed his mother in 1977 – over him. As for Faith . . . well, she never really rejected Buffy’s authority. She only questioned it.

But the characters who have received the greatest ire from many fans over what happened in this episode were the Potentials – especially Kennedy and Rona. A good number of them seemed to resent Rona for openly expressing doubt toward Buffy’s skills as a leader. And even more of them resented Kennedy for not being another Tara or Oz – in other words, another introvert for the already introverted Willow. But the single biggest criticism that the fans had laid at the Potentials’ feet was their decision to reject Buffy as their leader. For some reason, many seemed to harbor the view that they had no right to reject Buffy, let alone question her decisions. They seemed to believe that the Potentials should have blindly followed Buffy, regardless of how they had felt about her. 

You know, I never fail to be amazed at how hypocritical people can be. Honestly. Take the relationship between Buffy and the Potentials in Season Seven for example. In the past seasons, Buffy continuous attempts to maintain a personal life and resist Giles' attempts to turn her into a single-minded Slayer drew cheers from the viewers. When she resisted and finally rejected the Watchers Council’s authority over her in Season Three’s (3.12) ”Helpless”, the fans cheered. When she continuously questioned Maggie Walsh and the Initiative’s actions and encouraged boyfriend Riley Finn to do the same in Season Four, the fans cheered. When Buffy made it clear to the visiting members of the Watchers Council in Season Five’s (5.12) ”Checkpoint” that they no longer have any power over her, the audiences cheered. 

Then in Season Seven, Buffy became an authority figure. Actually, she became one following her mother’s death in late Season Five, when she became Dawn’s only guardian. But her interactions with the Potentials led her to become an authority figure on the same scale as Giles, Maggie Walsh and the Initiative and the Watchers Council. And like those before her, Buffy made some very questionable judgment calls – including her decision to attack Caleb at the local vineyard without any real reconnaissance. And like Buffy had in the past, the Potentials rejected their own authority figure in this particular episode. But since their authority figure happened to be Buffy . . . many fans had condemned them for not blindly following her. 

Apparently, it was okay for Buffy to resist or reject the authority figures she had faced. But when she became an authority figure - and not a very good one at that, many fans decided that ”no one” - especially the hated Potentials - had the right to resist or reject her. I hate to say this, but this could easily be construed as a bad case of double standards by those fans. That they would excuse or approve of Buffy rejecting authority figures, yet condemn those who would do the same to Buffy after she became an authority figure, reeks of hypocrisy to me. And this is something I simply cannot agree with.

Friday, December 27, 2013

"DEATH ON THE NILE" (2004) Review



"DEATH ON THE NILE" (2004) Review

This 2004 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1937 novel, "Death on the Nile", was the second to be adapted for the screen. In the case of this movie, it aired as a 90-minute presentation on the long-running television series, "Agatha Christie’s POIROT"

Like the novel and the 1978 movie adaptation, ”DEATH ON THE NILE” centered around Hercule Poirot’s investigation of the murder of an Anglo-American heiress named Linnet Ridgeway. Linnet had stolen the affections of her best friend’s fiancé and married him. When the newly married couple vacationed in Egypt, the best friend – one Jacqueline de Bellefort – stalked and harassed them during their honeymoon. Yet, when Linnet and her new husband, Simon Doyle, boarded the S.S. Karnak for a steamboat cruise down the Nile River, the heiress discovered she had other enemies that included the offspring of a man whom her father had financially ruined, her embezzling attorney who required her signature on a paper or her death to hide his crimes, a kleptomaniac American socialite and a professional thief who was after her pearls. Unfortunately for the killer, a vacationing Hercule Poirot and his friend, Colonel Race, are on hand to solve Linnet’s murder.

There were aspects of this adaptation of "DEATH ON THE NILE" that I found admirable. The movie’s set designs for the S.S. Karnak seemed bigger and slightly more luxuriant that what was shown in the 1978 movie. Production designer Michael Pickwoad did a first-rate job in creating the luxurious atmosphere for the 1930s upper class. Actor J.J. Feild gave a solid performance as Simon Doyle, the man who came between Linnet Ridgeway and Jacqueline de Bellefort. However, I do not think he managed to capture the literary Simon Doyle’s boyish simplicity and lack of intelligence. I also enjoyed Frances La Tour’s portrayal of the alcoholic novelist, Salome Otterbourne. She gave her performance a slight twist in which her character seemed to be a little hot under the collar as she makes sexual advances toward Poirot in a subtle, yet comic manner. And the movie’s one true bright spot was, of course, David Suchet as Hercule Poirot. As usual, he gave an exceptional performance. However, I noticed that he was never able to form any real chemistry with James Fox’s Colonel Race or Emma Griffiths Malin, who portrayed Jacqueline de Bellefort; as Peter Ustinov had done with David Niven and Mia Farrow, respectively.

I wish I could harbor a high opinion of "DEATH ON THE NILE". But I cannot. There were too many aspects of this production that rubbed me the wrong way. I noticed that this version adhered closer to Christie’s novel than the 1978 film. Unfortunately, the screenplay’s close adaptation did not help the movie very much. It still failed to be superior or just as good as the 1978 version. So much for the argument that a movie has to closely follow its literary source in order for it to be any good. A closer adaptation of Christie’s novel meant that characters missing from the 1978 version – Cornelia Robson, Marie Van Schuyler’s clumsy young cousin; society jewel thief Tim Allerton; the ladylike Mrs. Allerton and the Allertons’ cousin, Joanna Southwood – appeared in this movie. Only the Italian archeologist, Mr. Richetti and Jim Fanthorp, the British attorney were missing. And honestly, the presence of the Allertons, Cornelia Robson and Joanna Southwood added nothing to the story as far as I am concerned. Aside from a few members of the cast, the acting in this movie struck me as very unexceptional and a little hammy at times. You know . . . the kind of hamminess that makes one wince, instead of chuckle with amusement.

There were other aspects that I disliked. Emma Blunt's portrayal of the autocratic Linnet Ridgeway Doyle struck me as . . . well, shallow instead of impressive. I had this feeling that she was simply going through the motions with a Valley Girl's accent. One scene featured her smoking a marijuana joint. Linnet Doyle has never struck me as the type who would risk losing her self control with the use of drugs. There were other performances I did not care for. I found Zoe Talford's Rosalie Otterbourne to be ridiculously arch and sardonic. Nor did I care for Judy Parfitt's one-note portrayal of the autocratic American socialite, Mrs. Marie Van Schyler. I could say the same for Daniel Lapaine's performance as the effiminate Tim Allerton. And Alistair Mackenzie's portrayal of the ardent Communist, Mr. Ferguson, seemed to be all over the map.

The movie featured a potential romance between Rosalie Otterbourne and Tim Allerton, which was featured in the novel. Unfortunately, I disliked how screenwriter Kevin Elyot ended it . . . by hinting incestuous tones between Tim and his mother. I found it so unnecessary. Nor was I impressed by director Andy Wilson handling of the Abu Simbel temples sequence in which one of the passengers tried to shove a boulder on Linnet and Simon. It struck me as rather shabby and almost anti-climatic. Blunt's lazy performance in this scene did not help.

But the movie’s real atrocities came from the hairstyles and makeup created for the younger actresses in the cast. Most of the hairstyles seemed like sloppy re-creations of those from the mid-1930s, the worst offenders being the cheap-looking blond wig worn by Emily Blunt (Linnet Ridgeway Doyle), the butch hairstyle worn by actress Zoe Telford (Rosalie Otterbourne); and the gaudy makeup worn by all of the younger actresses. Only Daisy Donovan, who portrayed Cornelia Robson was spared from resembling a kewpie doll. Instead, she wore a sloppy bun that served as a metaphor for her insecure personality – a theatrical maneuver that I found unnecessary.

I hate to say this but despite David Suchet’s performance as Poirot and Michael Pokewoad’s production designs, I came away feeling less than impressed by this version of "DEATH ON THE NILE". Not only did I find it inferior to the 1978 version, but also to many other adaptations of Agatha Christie’s novels and stories.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"THE MUMMY" (1999) Photo Gallery



Below are photos from the 1999 adventure-horror movie, "THE MUMMY". Directed by Stephen Sommers, the movie starred Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah and Arnold Vosloo: 


"THE MUMMY" (1999) Photo Gallery












































HOLIDAY SALE - Button Rings and Necklaces!

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Now on sale for the holidays is a collection of button rings and necklaces that can be found on this Etsy SITE



HOLIDAY SALE - BUTTON RINGS AND NECKLACES!

Owner Thelizabeth11 created the rings and necklaces from a collection of vintage accessories that date as far back as the Victorian Era. Costs range from the low prices of $6.00 to $15.00, along with a shipping cost.

The cost of these combinations of picture frames and illustrations range from $25.00 to $45.00, along with a shipping cost.

Don't miss the opportunity to purchase any of these beautiful gifts for your enjoyment and as presents for the holiday season!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL" (2008) Review



”INDIANA JONES AND THE CRYSTAL OF THE KINGDOM SKULL” (2008) Review

As much as I enjoyed the 2008 installment of the INDIANA JONES saga - ”KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL”, I had found myself perplexed by it. There was something about its tone that did not strike a similar chord, in compare to the other three movies. It took a second viewing of the movie for me to understand not only the movie’s story, but its entire atmosphere. And it had a lot to do with its setting. 

”INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL” is set in 1957, in which Colonel-Doctor Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) leads a convoy of Soviet troops, dressed as American soldiers on a mission to infiltrate a military base in the Nevada desert called "Hangar 51". Spalko and her men force Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) to lead them to a crate holding the remains of an extraterrestrial creature that crashed ten years before in Roswell, New Mexico. When Jones attempts to escape, he is foiled by his old partner, George "Mac" McHale (Ray Winstone), who reveals that he is working with the Soviets. Jones then escapes on a rocket sled into the desert, where he stumbles upon a nuclear test town and survives a nuclear blast by hiding in a lead-lined refrigerator. While being debriefed, Jones discovers he is under FBI investigation because his friend Mac is a Soviet agent. Jones returns to Marshall College, where he is offered a leave of absence to avoid being fired because of the investigation. As he is leaving, Jones is stopped by Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) and told that his old colleague, Harold Oxley (John Hurt), disappeared after discovering a crystal skull in Peru.

Like ”LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD” of last year, I had harbored some serious doubts on whether George Lucas and Steven Spielberg could relive the old magic of their previous three Indiana Jones adventures of the 1980s. Needless to say, my fears proved to be groundless. Like the Bruce Willis movie, this fourth installment ended up being very entertaining. And although it had some of the old magic of ”RAIDERS””TEMPLE OF DOOM” and ”LAST CRUSADE”, it had a tone that made it different than the other three. It took a movie review by someone named Lazypadawan and a second viewing of the movie to not only notice the difference, but to eventually appreciate it.

The main problem I originally had with ”CRYSTAL SKULL” was the presence of a spaceship at the end of the story. The City of Gold that Indy, Spalko, Oxley and others wanted to find, ended up with something to do with . . . inter-dimensional beings. One might as well call them aliens by the look of them. Or it. This is something that has never been seen in an Indiana Jones film before. And of course it has not. The other three movies had been set in the 1930s. It would be only natural that they had a feel of a 30s B-serial adventure. But I had made the mistake of expecting a 1930s serial adventure in a story set in the late 1950s. What I should have realized – and what Lazypadawan had pointed out in her review – was that ”KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL” was not supposed to be a 30s serial adventure set in the 1950s. It was supposed to be a send up of the 1950s “B” movies. And what are the elements of a “B” movie from the 1950s? Here are just a few:

*atomic power
*the presence of Soviet troops or spies
*science fiction
*horror
*hybrid of science fiction and horror
*conflicts between biker hoods and high school/college jocks
*the “Red” scare
*Soviet (and American) interests in psychic paranormal activities and UFOs


”KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL” had most, if not all elements in the film. I had just read a review in which someone had complained that the movie seemed like a rip-off of a cheesy B-movie. I had made that same mistake when I saw the spaceship sequence near the end of the movie. But now I know better. Lucas and Spielberg had every intention of the movie being a “rip-off” of 1950s B-movies. Like I had said before, it would only make sense.

Someone else had mentioned that Harrison Ford had not seemed this animated in years. I am not surprised. Indiana Jones had always been amongst his favorite characters. And it really showed in his performance. It is also nice to see that 27 years later, his chemistry with Karen Allen (Marion Ravenwood) seemed as strong as ever. By the way, she was great. And I was very impressed by Shia LaBeouf as Marion and Indy’s love child – Mutt Williams aka Henry Jones III. As much as I liked his performances in the ”TRANSFORMERS” movies, I have always thought they seemed a bit too frantic for my tastes. I much preferred his role as Henry III (I’m sorry, but I cannot bring myself to say – let alone write – “Mutt”). Like Ford, I could tell that Cate Blanchett really enjoyed her role as the villainous Soviet Colonel-Doctor Spalko. She was as obsessive and ruthless as the past Indy villains. But Blanchett’s performance had a verve and theatricality I have not seen since Amrish Puri’s portrayal of Mola Ram in ”THE TEMPLE OF DOOM”. And John Hurt filled Denholm Elliot’s role as friend/mentor of the Jones family quite beautifully. But unlike Marcus Brody, Harold Oxley had a good reason for his loopy behavior. I also enjoyed Ray Winstone's performance as Indy's treacherous old friend and colleague, McHale. In a way, he reminded me of the Elsa Schneider character in "LAST CRUSADE". But as much as I like Alison Doody, I must say that Winstone's take on a very morally ambiguous character had been handled with more skill.

Is there anything about ”KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL” that I disliked? Well, I was not impressed by John Williams’ score. There was nothing original or memorable about it, aside from moments of the old Indy theme being rehashed. Rather disappointing. Nor was I fond of the movie’s heavy-handed style of action and special effects. However, I could honestly complain about the same in regard to the other three films. But the one thing that really irritated me was the sequence featuring the villain’s defeat/destruction. In the end, it was not Indy who defeated the villain or set her destruction in motion. It was the inter-dimensional being. This is the one major fault I have noticed in two other Indiana Jones films. And it tends to give the films - at least in my eyes - an anticlimatic feeling that I find disappointing. In ”RAIDERS”, the opening of the Ark of the Covenant set in motion Belloq and the Nazis’ deaths. Both Indy and Marion were tied to a pole, unable to do anything except keep their eyes closed. In ”THE LAST CRUSADE”, Elsa Schneider turned out to be responsible for the main villain’s death and the destruction of his men through her handling of the Grail Cup. Perhaps Lucas and Spielberg were trying to convey some message about humans being too arrogant to take heed of things/beings that are more powerful or more evolved than mankind. But that same message had been conveyed in ”TEMPLE OF DOOM”.  Only in that particular movie, it was Indy’s actions – invoking the power of Shiva with the Sanakara stone – that led to Mola Ram’s destruction. Perhaps this is why I have always found the 1984 movie’s ending a lot more impressive than those of the other three movies.

But despite my initial confusion on what Lucas and Spielberg were doing with the movie’s 1950s theme, along with my disappointment of the score and the handling of the villain’s defeat, I found ”KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL” very enjoyable. It was great to see Indiana Jones back in action, again. And even more satisfying was his marriage to his lady love, Marion Ravenwood, in the end. After 30 odd years, those two finally got it right.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Notes and Observations on "STAR WARS: EPISODE II - ATTACK OF THE CLONES"




Notes and Observations on "STAR WARS: EPISODE II - ATTACK OF THE CLONES"

The following is a list of minor notes and observations that came to me, during my recent viewing of “Episode II: Attack of the Clones”. I hope that you enjoy them: 

*It is interesting that the story starts out with Coruscant – the seat of the Republic’s power – covered in a shroud of fog. Was this an allegory of the Republic’s impending doom? Or a sign of hidden secrets within the seats of power?

*Why did the Jedi believe they would have to protect the Republic in a military action, if the Separatists broke away? It seems as if the Republic and the Jedi were prepared to consider using military force to draw the Separatists back into the Republic, against their will.

*I noticed that both Mace and Ki-Adi had the same condescending attitude that the entire Council had in TPM, when explaining to Padme that Dooku could never be behind her assassination attempt.

*Why was it so important to Obi-Wan that he and Anakin follow the Council’s instructions regarding Padme, to the letter?

*I wonder if Jango would have killed Zam if she had succeeded in killing Padme.

*Are dreams usually dismissed by the Jedi in such a cavalier fashion?

*No wonder the Jedi and senators like Bail Organa had never formed a strong bond by ROTS, if Obi-Wan’s general attitude toward all politicians (which the Order shares, I suspect) is anything to go by.

*The more I look at Anakin and Obi-Wan’s interactions in AOTC, the more I realize how unsuited they were for a master/padawan relationship. Anakin would have been better off being trained by someone more suited to deal with his emotional and non-conformist personality. However, I see nothing wrong with Anakin and Obi-Wan forming a strong friendship, once Anakin becomes a Jedi Knight.

*I wonder if Anakin’s feelings about Palpatine would have remained the same if Obi-Wan had been less strident in his teaching.

*How interesting. Obi-Wan ended up following Anakin’s suggested mandate regarding Padme’s would-be assassin, after all.

*The Coruscant chase sequence is another major favorite with me. Note the slightly chubby woman with Ahmed Best and a silver-blond woman with too much eye make-up, both giving Anakin lust-filled glances in the nightclub scene. Come to think of it, I believe I had spotted two other women doing the same.

*”Until caught this killer is, our judgement she must respect.” – Why did Yoda believe that Padme MUST accept the Jedi’s decision that she return to Naboo? I realize that he is concerned for her safety. But why would he assume that she had no choice but to accept the Council’s decision on where she should be? At least Mace seemed to realize that Padme would obey if Palpatine, as the Supreme Chancellor, had given the order.

*When discussing his abilities with Palpatine, Anakin is polite and practically modest. Yet, whenever he is around Obi-Wan or discussing the latter, he becomes arrogant about his abilities and bitter at what he perceives as Obi-Wan’s inability to recognize them.

*”Anakin . . . don’t try to grow up too fast.” – It is ironic that Padme would say this to Anakin, considering that she has been trying to do this very thing for most of her life.

*Although Captain Typho’s assumption on the safety of Padme’s arrival on Coruscant proved to be false, his fear that she might do something foolish or rash proved to be very accurate. 

*”If an item does not appear in our records, it does not exist.” – ah, another prime example of the Jedi’s arrogant belief in themselves. Who would have thought it would come from the Archives’ librarian?

*Anakin might be pretty close to the truth in the definition of love he had given to Padme.

*Despite the sweet and charming overtones of the younglings scene, it still has a sinister sense of the foreboding.

*It is interesting how ALL of the Separatists are tainted with the same brush as the Trade Federation and the Banking Union, because they had sought the latter for help. Guilt by association.

*When Sio Biddle had asked Anakin a question about Padme’s safety, Padme rudely interrupts and brushes off Anakin. Now, why did she do that? And in such a rude manner?

*It’s interesting how the imagery and symbolism on Kamino seemed to be of the fertile kind.

*I just realized that if Palpatine had eventually accused the Jedi of creating the Clone Army, he would have been correct. Especially since Master Sifo-Dyas really did order the creation of the clones for the Republic.

*For someone with hardly any experience in romance, Anakin managed to do a good job in winning over Padme without resorting to smooth lines and a cocky manner.

*Of course . . . Padme seemed to be a bit of a flirt, herself. She certainly knows how to use her voice effectively.

*In an article on Anakin and Padme’s relationship, I read a segment from a poem or story written hundreds of years ago that was compared to Anakin’s fireside speech. What amazed me was how similar Anakin’s speech was to what is considered courtly love.

*I noticed that once Padme had rejected Anakin’s offer of love, he turned away from her. And she, in turn, began to pursue him in a very subtle manner.

*It is ironic that Anakin believes that he did not have a choice in leaving Naboo to help his mother. In reality, he did have a choice . . . and he exercised it. Like the other characters around him, Anakin has become adept at deluding himself.

*I see that Obi-Wan had made the first move in his fight with Jango Fett on Kamino. Not only did it result in him nearly falling over a ledge, it was the movie’s first sign of the “good guys” acting as the aggressors.

*”Those Tusken Raiders. They may walk like men, but they’re nothing more than vicious, mindless monsters.” – Judging from Cliegg Lars’ words, I cannot help but wonder if Anakin’s murder of the Tusken Raiders was something rare on Tatooine. Would Anakin’s actions have been condoned by Tatooine’s moisture farmers? Cliegg’s words seemed to have a xenophobic ring to them.

*When Padme told Anakin that it was okay to be angry, she was right. It was okay. It would have been a lot unhealthier for Anakin to pretend otherwise. But where Anakin went wrong was that he had allowed his anger to overwhelm him . . . which led to his murder of the Tuskens.

*Anakin’s claim that he would even learn to stop people from dying seemed to foreshadow his opera conversation with Palpatine in ROTS.

*If Jar-Jar had not proposed that Palpatine should be given emergency powers, I wonder who would have made the proposition? Bail Organa had been certain that the Senate would never grant such powers to the Chancellor or authorize a clone army. Boy, was he wrong!

*Did Obi-Wan’s own prejudices and beliefs in the Jedi’s infallibility led him to easily dismiss Dooku’s claim that a Sith Lord had control over the Senate?

*I think that Padme’s arrogant belief in her diplomatic skills were in overdrive, when she and Anakin learned about Obi-Wan’s predicament. I can see why Typho had been worried that she would do something rash.

*It seems interesting that Anakin was the only one who had managed to control the attacking him in the Geonosis area, without resorting to brute force. Was this a metaphor of his potential to control (but not suppress) the animus within himself? A potential that he had failed to attain until the end of his life?

*Obi-Wan, on the other hand, succeeded in dealing with his animal attacker with brute force . . . just as he had succeeded with Maul and Anakin. Was this a foreshadow of his advocacy of Luke using violence to deal with Vader/Anakin in the Original Trilogy?

*I suspect that Jango’s success in killing Jedi Master Coleman Trebor had gone to his head, when he had decided to attack Mace. Just as many of the Jedi have discovered in this movie and will discover in ROTS, Jango will learn that it does not pay to be the aggressor.

*I did not realize that the Republic and the Jedi had acquired both troops and weapons from the Kaminoans.

*It is interesting that Obi-Wan’s threat of expulsion from the Jedi Order did not faze Anakin one bit, in his concern for the fallen Padme. Either the Jedi Order was never that important enough to Anakin . . . or it was too important to Obi-Wan. Or perhaps it was both.

*Both Anakin and Obi-Wan made the mistake of aggressively moving against Dooku, first. And both had failed. Again, this seemed to be another example of the Jedi’s acceptance of using aggression in this movie.

*Anakin vs. Dooku – it’s ironic that this was the first duel between Palpatine’s present and future apprentices.

*Dooku, who had wisely allowed both Obi-Wan and Anakin to be the aggressors, became the aggressor, himself, in his duel against Yoda. He had barely managed to escape with his life.

*The failure of aggression committed by our heroes and by villains like Dooku and Jango seemed to be the theme for this movie . . . and perhaps the Prequel Trilogy overall. This theme seems especially true for the Jedi, who had agreed to use the clone troopers against the Separatists. The same clone troopers that will become the tools of their destruction. Irony at its most tragic.

*Looking back on AOTC, it strikes me as being a very nourish story, despite the some of the usual STAR WARS elements. Perhaps that is why so many people have difficulty in accepting it. Film noir can be highly regarded – or not. But people rarely understand it, or bother to watch it in the movie theaters.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"DEATH ON THE NILE" (2004) Photo Gallery


Below are images from "DEATH ON THE NILE", the 2004 television adaptation of Agatha Christie's 1937 novel.  The movie starred David Suchet as Hercule Poirot:


"DEATH ON THE NILE" (2004) Photo Gallery









































Friday, December 6, 2013

"SYLVIA" (2003) Review




"SYLVIA" (2003) Review

I finally watched "SYLVIA" on DVD. After all I have heard about the movie, I had expected to be disappointed by it. To be truthful, I found it quite interesting biopic that was especially enhanced by the leads' performances. But . . . "SYLVIA"was not a perfect film. 

Set between the mid-1950s to the early 1960s, The movie's revelation of the Sylvia Plath/Ted Hughes courtship, followed by their marriage turned out to be very interesting and rather intense. I suspect that many had expected it to take sides in the couple's breakup. To its credit, the movie avoided this route. There were no heroes/heroines and villains/villainesses in their story . . . just two people who had failed to create a successful marriage. In fact, the movie presented the possibility that both Plath and Hughes had contributed their breakup.

To be honest, I think that Gwenyth Paltrow and Daniel Craig's performances as Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes had more to do with the movie's main virtue than the director, Christine Jeffs or the screenwriter, John Brownlow. Also, both Jared Harris as Al Alvarez and Blythe Danner as Aurelia Plath, gave able support. But it is obvious that this movie belonged to Paltrow and Craig, who brought the intensity of the Plath/Hughes marriage with an honesty and rawness that - if I must be honest - I sometimes found hard to bear.

But even those two were not able to save the movie's last half hour from almost sinking into an abyss of unrelenting boredom. I suspect that Jeffs and Brownlow wanted to give the moviegoers an in-depth look at Plath's emotional descent into suicide, following the break-up of her marriage to Hughes. But I wish they could have paced the movie's ending a little better than what had been shown in the movie theaters. The movie's last half hour nearly dragged it to a standstill.

Despite the last half hour, I would still recommend "SYLVIA". In the end, it turned out to be a pretty interesting look into the marriage of the two famous poets. I give it 6 out of 10 stars.