Whew! I haven’t really been that busy, but it feels like it has been a crazy week anyway. I think I have almost everything installed on the new computer now, which is great because it is one less thing stuck in an unsettled state. It turned out that the first motherboard was faulty (e-SATA port was not working), so I had to exchange it at Amazon for another one, which meant pulling out the first motherboard and installing the replacement. Kind of a hassle, but at least Amazon is great about returns so that part wasn’t a problem. And now everything seems to be working properly, so we should be all set.

Since I had to go to Amazon anyway to set up the exchange, I also took the opportunity to order the soundtrack for a movie that I rented from Netflix recently. The movie is “Once”, and it’s pretty much a story about a man and a woman and their journey when they are both away from home, but it’s told with a lot of music (the two main characters are musicians) and the movie is almost even a musical itself in some ways. I really liked the movie a lot, save for a bit of coarse language, and the music was just fabulous, so I wanted to get the soundtrack. In fact, I am listening to it right now as I write this post. If you listen to a few clips from the soundtrack on Amazon or iTunes and you are even remotely interested in the music then I would highly recommend the movie.


There have been two old silent films that I’ve really wanted to get copies of for a long time. I’ve had them on my TiVo wishlist for years, but they’ve never been shown on tv during that time (or at least not on the channels I receive). But then again, I can admit that the market for silent films on tv is probably pretty small. :-) Anyway, one of them (Greed, 1924) has never been released on DVD anywhere, and the other (The Crowd, 1928) has never been released on DVD in the US, but recently became available as an import.

I’ve been watching eBay and used items on Amazon to try to pick up a reasonably priced VHS tape of Greed. Even the videotapes have been really expensive for the past few years, but lately the prices have come down a lot. I was able to purchase a tape recently for less than $20, which is great. And I also went ahead and ordered an import copy of The Crowd from Amazon (also less than $20), so both of the movies are on their way to me. I’m excited to receive them and finally get a chance to watch both of them.

Last week Joy and I watched “Nosferatu” (1922). Nosferatu is the very first Dracula film ever made. I thought the movie was very stylishly directed and shot, and it created a great sense of doom and dread. The scene where Hutter’s wife looks out the window at night and sees Nosferatu staring back at her from his window is very unsettling. I imagine the film must have been terrifically frightening when it was released over 80 years ago. I’m not usually a big fan of horror movies, but this film was so well done, it was hard not to like it. Joy wasn’t too crazy about the film because she thought it was scary, but I definitely enjoyed it.

Last night Joy and I watched “The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari” (1920). This is sometimes considered to be the first true horror film ever made. It is also one of the earliest films to use a framing device at the beginning and end of the film with the majority of the story told in flashback. It’s not a horror film in the sense of shock value or making you jump or anything. Instead, it’s more of an unsettled feeling, and then towards the end there are scenes that turn everything you thought was real around on its head. Or do they? Well, that’s part of the fun, and there is no final answer, just questions, which also adds to the unsettled mood. Overall, I definitely enjoyed the film. I thought the story was engaging, and the expressionist style of the film (especially the scenery) really added to the mood and ambiance.

Last night Joy and I finished watching “The Singing Detective” (1986), a Dennis Potter miniseries from the BBC. This miniseries is lauded by many as the best thing ever put on television. It’s the only television production to make it onto the Time magazine “All-Time Top 100 Movies” list and rates a 9.2 out of 10 at the IMDb. And after watching all 6+ hours of it, I can’t possibly begin to understand why.

In my personal opinion (and certainly the appreciation of art is very subjective), this series just doesn’t do anything for me. I can understand that, compared to most of the stuff on television, this series is at least intelligent, thoughtful, and aims to deal with real life issues. However, the convoluted and constantly jumping story is really quite difficult to follow. Furthermore, some portions are quite crude and distasteful and, at least in my opinion, the story could have been told just as effectively and much less objectionably with even mild editing of certain sections. I think I have a reasonable grasp of the overall message the creator was trying to get across, but even then the whole thing just doesn’t do much for me. I can’t say I would recommend watching this*, but clearly there are many people out there who love this series. I’m just not one of them.

* Unless you are a potential bidder on the eBay auction where I am selling this DVD set, in which case I highly recommend that you enter the highest bid you can afford. :-)

The second movie I watched last night was “Sunrise” (1927). Wow. This is simply an incredible movie. I absolutely loved it. A beautiful, beautiful film. If I ever get around to making my actual “Top 10” movies list, this will be on it. I don’t even really know what to say about it other than that it is completely magnificent.

I had never even heard of this film before I saw it on Ebert’s Great Movies list, and I would guess that, like me, most people have probably never heard of it. And that’s really a shame because this film is awesome. If you’re ever over here and get stuck picking a movie to watch, let’s pick this one.

The first movie I watched last night was “The Phantom Of The Opera” (1929). Since I like the musical, it’s a movie I’ve wanted to see for a while. Matt and Ariana got it for me for Christmas, and I finally got the chance to watch it. Overall I liked it quite a bit. I think the story is told more effectively than in the musical and the plot in general just makes more sense. However, unlike the somewhat more romanticized depiction in the musical, the Phantom in the movie is quite creepy.

I think I must have some kind of thing for scenes with women wearing long veils, dresses with long trains, or long scarves or whatever. Similar to the scene I wrote about previously in “The Fall Of The House Of Usher” where Madeleine’s long white veil trails off in the wind, POTA has a scene where the Phantom takes Christine across the underground lake, and her scarf (I think it’s a scarf because she ends up leaving it behind on the boat, but whatever) trails out behind the boat, floating on top of the water. Simply gorgeous. I have no idea why I like that kind of imagery, but I definitely seem to.

The newest wave of Miyazaki DVDs was released yesterday, and my package from Amazon arrived this afternoon. This wave includes “Howl’s Moving Castle”, “My Neighbor Totoro”, and “Whisper of the Heart”. Joy is super excited about Howl, and I have to admit that I am also very much looking forward to watching it again. However, I think I’m more excited about Totoro.

I’ve had the Fox release of Totoro in the past, which is cropped to 1.33 and only has an English dub, but this new release is a two disc version presented in the original widescreen, and you can choose between a brand new English dub or the original Japanese. So only having seen the Fox version before, I’ve been waiting for this new release for a long time.

Joy and I watched “The Passion Of Joan Of Arc” (1928) last night. When the movie ended, I just sat there motionless, staring at the black screen for several minutes. This is definitely one of the most powerful movies I have ever seen. In fact, there is a good chance that it is the most powerful movie I’ve ever seen, period, but I’d have to watch it a couple more times to sure.

The film is a stunning portrayal of remaining faithful to God in the face of great opposition and hardship. The resolve of Joan of Arc and her steadfast perseverance is inspirational. Renee Falconetti, who plays Joan of Arc, gives a breathtaking performance. The film is further enhanced by the transcendant “Voices of Light” music track included on the Criterion Collection DVD release.

I cannot begin to adequately describe the beauty of this film. It has my highest possible recommendation.

Last night Joy and I watched “The Fall Of The House Of Usher” (1928). As with Metropolis, this was another strange movie. The thing that really threw me for a loop is the fact that the ending of the film doesn’t match up with the original Poe short story.

The film is very successful at setting up a foreboding and tense atmosphere. The actor playing Roderick achieves an almost palpable sense of dread and insanity. I particularly liked the scene where the men carry Madeleine’s casket to the tomb with her white veil trailing off and blowing in the wind. The musical soundtrack was also excellent, though it was not the original and was specifically prepared for this DVD release (All Day Entertainment).

Overall I can’t really say that this film is a “must-see”, but I can certainly appreciate a good number of scenes, as well as the overall visual style and camera work.

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