Sunday, November 22, 2009

Watch Classic Movies Online

Thanks to Life Hacker I discovered a new source to Watch Classic Movies Online. The site is Classic Cinema Online and it is a very nice site with many categories and choices.

I chose the Spaghetti Western section and was presented with many choices based upon their popularity. I chose Nobody Is My Name with Terrence Hill. I remembered these films fondly from my youth. I thought it would be fun to relive those memories and see how they translated forward for me. This usually goes badly, but what the hell, I thought I would take the risk.

Nobody Is My Name is actually one I did not remember at all and starred Terrence Hill and Henry Fonda. The movie was directed by Sergio Leone (uncredited) of the Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western fame. bad a movie could the guy that made The Good, The Bad and The Ugly come up with? Well...let's just say that you can't hit the bulls eye every time.

Watching this classic movie online, you get the story of Jack Beauregard (Fonda), an aging gun fighter who just wants to retire and take a boat out to sea. There is just one problem, one hundred and fifty problems actually, The Wild Bunch. They are out to see that Jack retires their way and not his. Their way ends with Jack in a pine box and a final trip to Boot Hill.

To be sure, Jack has a problem.

Enter Nobody (Hill), he is a fan of Jack's and has his own plans and desires for Jack's retirement. In his mind, the only way for Jack to go out is to take out the Wild Bunch. After that Nobody will take care of taking out Jack.

It seems that Jack has a problem that has no easy solution. With Nobody bound and determined that things go his way and only his way.

When the end came, I can say that I should have seen it coming, but I did not. It may have been because the movie did not have the magic that I remembered from my youth or that I was a boring kid and have moved up the interest ladder slightly. Slightly is the key word here.

To Watch this Classic Movie Online is not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon when it's cloudy and cold outside, but there were probably better choices there. I will definitely return to the site to check out more offerings, I just may stay away from the Spaghetti Westerns for a while.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Look at a Current Independent Film

There is something about current independent films that really appeals to me. More and more often the makers of these excellent pieces of cinema are doing a remarkable job of pushing the envelope in new and exciting directions. This is independent film making at its best.

On a recent Saturday night, I discovered one of these hidden gems. It was the 2008 movie "Humboldt County". I am told that a certain segment of my audience is now nodding with approval, doing their best "Cool man" phrases and letting a knowing smile play across their lips.
Me? Well, I lead a sheltered life and had no idea that Humboldt County even existed. Which I am told it does, but don't tell any one.

The film revolves a young man named Peter, who hopes to be bound for medical school, but is failed in one of his necessary classes by his professor, who is also his father. Bummer, dude (for the HC crowd).

He is none to happy about this and even less so that his father delivered the final blow to a dream that he wants for his son even more than his son wants it for himself.

Peter does what many of us would do. He turns to a night a drinking. He loosens up. He meets a girl, Bogart, and spends the night with her. The HC crowd can already see where this is heading.

He awakes the next morning to find himself in Bogart's truck heading home with her to Humboldt County. This is a beautiful stretch of country hidden away in northern California. Peaceful people live and work here. It's mostly an agricultural community. For the farmers of Humboldt County make their living growing marijuana. Now you see why the HC crowd found this article.

Peter has definitely found himself smack dab in a fish out of water tale. This is about as far removed from his life as he can get and now he has found himself more or less stranded in this community of decent, family loving pot growers.

Given this pitch, this is where current movies studios would take the story for a turn for the worse. Studios are about making money. No different than independent film makers, I guess. The difference can be found in a quote from Walt Disney though. Disney said, "We do not make movies to make money. We make money so that we can make movies." The essence for the current independent movies.

It is not hard to believe that a studio would want to snatch up a story like this and ear mark it for their favorite young star of the day. Of course, it will need just some minor re-writes to make sure that is tailor made for the talent's special needs.

Then after several revisions, perhaps a change of lead actors or two (or dozens), there will be almost no sense of the story left. It will have been massaged and milked down from independent film risks to studio film reward. The only problem is that this formula almost never rewards anyone. What the studio forgot is that to the current independent filmmaker, the risk is the reward, every thing else is gravy.

The great thing about the film makers for current independent films is that they can fight against the trend of the studios. There is no 14 levels of management. This way the movie gets made because of the passion of the story tellers for their project and their art.

Anyway, back to Peter and Bogart.

Peter finds the life style of the Humboldt County residence to be reckless and foolhardy to say the least. But, as it with any one who views some one from the outside and then takes the opportunity to step into their world and look again, Peter learns that there is more happening than the growing of pot. The core struggles of the fine folks of Humboldt County are no different than any ones. Family. Work. Love. Etc.

Our gift as the viewer is that we get to go along for the ride.

So, is this a great fish out of water tale? Nope. Did this independent film flip the genre on it's ear and surprise us with a retelling that explored new territory. Sorry, it's not there.

Did I like it? Yes, I did. It's a well made film. It's well written and well acted.

If you find yourself looking for a current independent film online (or in my case, on Netflix) this might be one to check out.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Current Movie Online for a Younger Crowd

My most recent online movie watching was Across the Universe. A current movie with a plot line built around Beatles tunes. I have to believe that meant nothing short of a huge royalty fee right off the bat. Good thing Michael Jackson sold those worthless songs to Sony!

The last time I watched a movie that was based on the famous catalog, it was Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Universe was a better movie than that. Paint drying is a better movie than that. The talent was there, but the story was too weak and never really made much sense.

Across the Universe does not suffer from the same problem. It is more in the realm of Moulin Rouge. Rouge was an excellent film and one I may to go watch online when I get this post finished.

Universe is still in the same family idea, but it is not quite eating at the adult table, yet. It tries and at times does a great job. Unfortunately, like the Sgt. Pepper's, it suffers a bit from too many convenient setups and namings. Not too much, just a bit.

Julie Taymor directs this tale of a young lad from Liverpool named Jude. Will that lead to a song? You bet it will. Who falls in love with an American lass named Lucy. Will that lead to a song? You bet it will.

They live in New York with a local talented singer named Sadie and another friend one who is named Prudence. Will that lead to a ... you get the idea, don't you?

Not much in the way of pop talent singing in this, but the cast does a good job with the soundtrack and some of the covers are very enjoyable. You can listen to those online too if you happen to have a Rhapsody account.

I don't just hang around my computer and watch older and current movies online. I like the tunes too.

The pacing of Universe is where they lost me. I enjoyed the singing and the arrangements of the songs. I could live with seeing the set up coming from about 3 miles away.

What bugged me was that the movie was about 30 minutes too long. Who knows? Maybe they got a deal when they bought the rights.

Take Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and we'll throw in For the Benefit of Mr. Kite at no additional cost. What a deal! Actual, since Kite was played by Eddie Izzard, it was a deal and quite a bit of fun.

From a visual stand point it was not as pleasing as my recent viewing of Pan's Labyrinth, but I enjoyed watching it just the same.

In the end, I may have been just too old to have thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I understand that the daughter of a family friend loved the movie so much that she went out and bought it and watched it constantly for several days.

Silly girl. It was a good movie and if I saw it again, it would be OK by me, but doesn't she know she could have watched this current movie online?