chatting with Columbine

Back when we lived in the same city, or at least in driving distance of one another, a friend and I had great conversations about movies, and musicals, and related weird stuff. From Victor/Victoria to Billy Wilder to the suffragette song in Mary Poppins and usually Ethel Merman or Tim Curry somehow got mentioned along the way.
That friend is now known online as Columbine, and we live clear across the country from one another. But the other day at lunchtime, we managed to find each other on IM. I’d like to share this conversation with y’all. I cleaned it up a little because I often find it very difficult to read people’s IM transcripts. I added some capitalization and punctuation, and I changed our IM usernames to the names we use on our own Web sites. I also added the occasional clarifying phrase in brackets. (I was tempted to assume everyone knew the plays of Kaufman and Hart and the entire filmography of John Barrymore, but I decided to add explanation where I thought it would help.)

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movies this week: snubbed!

Oscar nominations were announced this week, which means that the major contenders are in wider release or in re-release. So Austin finally gets a chance to see Million Dollar Baby, like it or not, and Sideways is popping out all over. (I would rather see Eternal Sunshine again, but no one asked me.)
I don’t have much to say about the nominations, except to mention the movies that were overlooked entirely. I am thinking in particular about one movie. You know which one, don’t you? So entertaining and enlightening. Perhaps a bit controversial (conservatives have been ranting against one of the main characters), but I felt it had so much to offer every one of us. A sincere and sweet tale about Triumph of the Human Spirit, which is just what the Academy seems to like, and yet it did not receive a single nomination. Perhaps that’s because it wasn’t about the triumph of the human spirit exactly, but still I cannot understand why it was snubbed so entirely.
Of course, I am talking about my boyfriend’s favorite movie of 2004 and in his opinion, possibly the best movie ever made, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.
The Academy Awards do include a category for animated film, and while I can understand that The Incredibles were something extra-special (in fact, I think it should have been nominated in the general Best Picture category), and that a lot of people did seem to like Shrek 2, it is sad to see that Shark Tale is in there but our absorbent and yellow and porous friend is not. I suspect political conspiracy, perhaps due to the influence of these alleged “family” groups that are currently accusing SpongeBob of being a gay icon who promotes such shocking values as tolerance.
Or maybe the Academy is full of humorless Philistines. You be the judge.
Alamo Drafthouse, however, is undaunted by the lack of industry awards bestowed on The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, and is showing this masterpiece of silliness next month. You can go on Saturday morning and enjoy lots of sugary cereal with your movie, or you can go at night and have a beer.
In the meantime, there are other movies opening in Austin this week, but none of them have singing pirates in them. A shame, really.

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movies this week: cat vs. cinema

The problem I am encountering with Rufus, our newly adopted cat, is that he is often more entertaining to watch in action than certain movies or TV shows. All I have to do is dangle the turtle/bird on a string (actually more turtle-like now since most of his feathers have been ripped out) around the scratching post, and I am treated to wild and crazy kitty antics. I had a lot of fun watching him leap into what he thought was an empty bathtub earlier this week. His reaction when he realized the tub still had an inch or so of water in it was priceless.
While there are still plenty of movies playing in theaters that I want to see, such as The Life Aquatic and now The Big Red One, it is difficult to muster much enthusiasm for mediocre offerings on film when I can stay home and watch the cat discover the joys of shoelaces. Looking at some of the new releases in theaters, I can’t help but realize that it might be more entertaining to hang out with Rufus.

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DVD killed the video packrat

At work, I have a small stack of videotapes on my desk. There’s a sticky note on top of the stack: “Free to a good home.”
A couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend gently hinted that I might want to organize my big bookcase of videotapes and DVDs. I had so many videotapes that they were falling out of the bookcase (which is actually designed to hold videotapes) and stacked on top of my CD shelves, next to the VCR, and even on the floor. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
My first task was easy. I pulled out all the commercial videotapes that I now own on DVD, such as The Princess Bride and Ed Wood, and put them in a stack to give away. It was a substantial stack since some people gave me DVDs for Christmas.
The second task was harder: Figure out what was on each videotape that I had taped myself, and throw away the ones that were poor quality, or that I simply didn’t need and never watched. I have had some of those videotapes since high school, and throwing them away was a real wrench.

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top ten best … meaning?

I have been reading lots of Top 10 Movies of 2004 lists, from critics and bloggers and friends, and following the nominations and prizes for various film-related awards, and reading a lot of blogs that analyze the films from 2004.
And I am so lost in a sea of films about which I know very little.
Looking at the Golden Globe and BAFTRA nominations, I realize how many of the generally critically acclaimed and/or commercially successful movies I haven’t seen. (Not that I saw a lot of the obscure lil indies, either.)
But people are arguing about Vera Drake and I am not sure it ever played in Austin, or if it did I missed it, but I missed so many movies. I also missed I [Heart] Huckabees, which I’m sorry about, and Birth and Closer, which I’m not.
I have seen Sideways, which seems to be the film to watch out for on Oscar night. I don’t want to see The Aviator or even Ray. Million Dollar Baby hasn’t come to Austin yet, and I think I would like it, but that’s because I used to belong to a boxing gym and I like movies with boxing chicks in them. It’s not because I am looking forward to fine performances or any of that.

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fraidy cat comes home

You might wonder why it took so long for me to post my Movies This Week entry last week, why I didn’t see The Life Aquatic this weekend when I swore I would, and why I’m taking extra antihistamines without complaint.
I would like to introduce you to the newest member of the household, the shy and retiring but still mischievous Rufus T. Firefly (aka Rufus, You Doofus, aka Mr. Fuzzybutt).

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Elf (2003)

Elf: 2003, dir. Jon Favreau. Seen on DVD (Jan. 6).
Oh, this movie is goooood. Real good.
And I mean that in the sense that after being on the receiving end of some spectacular display of bullshit, you look up at the person responsible and say, “Oh, you’re good.” Maybe you fell for it, whatever it was, but you are still aware enough of the mechanics behind it to be able to see through it and know, yeah, that’s pretty damn slick.
That’s Elf for you.
Now don’t get me wrong. I liked watching Elf. I laughed a whole lot. It will probably join my list of movies to watch while wrapping Christmas presents. I have no objection to watching it again if someone puts it on TV while I’m around.
But I am cynical enough to see that Elf is a triumph of marketing-based commercial filmmaking, that it pulls every string perfectly, that the filmmakers were absolutely aware of what an audience wants out of a film and delivered just that.

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movies this week: late and unmotivated

Yeah, I know, I’m supposed to post these on Thursday night or Friday. And here it is, Saturday night. What’s even more shameful is that there are finally lots of movies opening in Austin this weekend, and here I am ignoring them.
I have to say, most of the movies opening this weekend aren’t as exciting to me as some of the revivals coming up in the next couple of weeks. A friend of mine chided me for not seeing a movie in a theater every week, and I pointed out that I often do … it’s just not a recently released movie. So many choices, so little time.

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2004 films in review

Lots of people have been compiling Top Ten 2004 Movie lists lately. I thought about doing one myself, but I hate being such a copycatter. First of all, it’s difficult for me to pick one or two of the Best Movies of 2004. Second of all, being in Austin, I saw a lot of late 2003 movies in 2004 and I will probably see some of the more critically acclaimed 2004 movies in 2005 so my list would be all weird anyway.
Besides, I can’t do a Top Ten Movies of 2004 because, this is embarrassing to admit, I’ve only seen a couple dozen movies released in 2004. (I’m not done yet, though.) I guess I could do a Top Five, but still, that’s 20 percent of the movies I saw. However, thanks to the wonderful convenience of mail-order movie rentals and the number of Austin arthouse/revival theaters, I saw 60 non-2004 movies for the first time this year.
So instead of a list, I would like to give special recognition in various areas for the movies I saw in 2004. I will divide these into two major categories: movies released in 2004, and “previous”—movies released in other years that I saw for the first time in 2004.

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movies this week: catching up again

Most local movie theaters are still offering the same fare that they did at Christmas. A few of the prestige films from 2004 still haven’t hit Austin yet, but they’re not appearing this weekend, either. We’ll just have to keep waiting for Million Dollar Baby and Hotel Rwanda.
Personally, I am thankful of the opportunity to catch up. I mean, I am embarrassed that I haven’t seen certain recent releases. My sister, who hardly ever goes to movies, and usually only for routine romantic comedies, has seen A Very Long Engagement and Sideways and I have not. When my film-apathetic sister is seeing more new movies than I am, it is time to take action. (It’s a weird world when she’s the one who saw arthouse movies and I’m the one who saw the mainstream George Clooney flick.)
So I am hoping that this weekend maybe I finally can see Sideways or Kinsey or something else new in a theater that I’ve forgotten was there, but that I particularly wanted to see when it appeared a month ago. I hope that the good stuff is still there waiting for me to catch up to it.

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