Thursday, December 27, 2007

There are still several films released in 2007 that I haven't seen yet --- I Am Legend, Juno, Enchanted, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Eastern Promises -- but I doubt I'll see them before year's end. So below is my Top Ten Movies of the year that I did see. The top three I enjoyed so much that I picked up DVD copies of them. I'll probably end up with a couple others in my library, too. Anyway, here's my list with No. 1 being my favorite.
1) The Lookout. Crime thriller by Scott Frank. Well-done characters, solid storyline with Joseph-Gordon Levitt and Jeff Daniels. Levitt is a star high school hockey player. Life is wonderful and a bright future lays ahead of him. Then he's in a car accident that leaves him with brain damage and little prospects. He gets a job as a graveyard shift janitor at a local town bank and attempts to rebuild his life. No more story hints. This is a story that the less you know the better it is. See this one. It's cool. Jeff Daniels plays Levitt's blind roommate.

2) Live Free and Die Hard. Yep, Bruce Willis is back as cop John McClane and, despite being older, he is still neck-deep in high-tech bad guys and incredible stunts. Popcorn thriller that I just thoroughly enjoyed. Deadwood's Timothy Olyphant is the main bad guy.

3) Stardust. Fantasy adventure with Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro and Charlie Cox as the noble Tristan. Not everything works as well as it should but this is fun. I especially liked Pfeiffer as the evil witch, De Niro as the sky pirate, and the ghosts of the murdered princes. Makes me smile just thinking about them.

4) 3:10 to Yuma. A remake of the old Glenn Ford western with Russell Crowe as the captured outlaw and Christian Bale as the poor rancher taking him to jail. Pretty damn good (except for part of the end but the original stumbled there, too.) This is the first Crowe movie I've liked since L.A. Confidential.

5) Distrubia. A spin on the Hitchcock Rear Window storyline with Shia LaBeouf as a high school kid on home arrest who, while watching his neighbors, discovers one (the always reliable David Morse) may be up to no good. Not a classic like the Hitchcock movie with James Stewart and Grace Kelly but good.

The second half of my top ten are:
6) Ratatouille.
7) The Bourne Ultimatum.
8) Breach.
9) Wild Hogs.
10) 28 Weeks Later.
I know. A strange group of movies but I recommend them all.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Sometimes I stumble across a movie that I hadn’t heard of that turns out to be a pretty decent little film. Shade (2003) was released in a few theatres then went to cable and now DVD. I am surprised that it didn’t receive a wider release and more press.
The story centers around three grifters played by Stuart Townsend (a master card mechanic), Gabriel Byrne, and Thandie Newton. They used to be partners in the con-game racket until they had a falling out. They have reunited to take down the reigning king of poker players (and card mechanics) the “Dean” Stevens played, very coolly, by Sylvester Stallone, who plans on retiring after this final game.
The less you know going into the movie the better. It is part young talented newcomer wants to beat the old pro and part how do con artists work their trade storylines. It was written and directed by first-timer Damian Nieman who is a card magician. In supporting roles many well-known faces pop up such as Jamie Foxx, Michael Dorn, Bo Hopkins, Hal Holbrook, and the lovely Melanie Griffith as the “Dean” Stevens’ love interest. There are several twists and turns in the story and I’ll have to say a few caught me by surprise. I liked that. Especially when I usually spot the “big” surprise coming from a mile off or the “twist” turns out to be a really lame surprise like in The Usual Suspects or Unbreakable.
If you like film noir and films like The Hustler, The Sting, Big Hand for a Little Lady, and Paper Moon, check this movie out. You’ll enjoy the experience. P.S. -- "Shade" is the term for a diversion that focuses people in another direction other than looking at the con artist.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Referral Check and Ms. Jamie Lee Curtis
Every once in a while I check the referral option to see how folks are ending up on my blog. Most of the visitors are from the U.S. but I've also had folks recently from Argentina, France, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, and the U.K. Welcome. My latest check found that people are stopping by to check out pieces I've written about:

Christmas Story
Louis L'Amour's Hanging Woman Creek (a longer review)
Live Free and Die Hard (a short review)
Maureen O'Hara
Tom Selleck westerns
James Stewart westerns
Kate Walsh
but an usual amount (quite a few actually) were people (okay, it was probably all guys) looking for info about Jamie Lee Curtis .... hmmm ... okay, guys, below are a couple pictures of Ms. Curtis. After you check them out, please click on the link to my novels and check them out. A sale or two would be nice for providing this service.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Some Things I've Learned
Some things I’ve learned in life so far:
As a writer, I’ve learned if you steal from one writer it’s plagiarism but if you steal from a buncha writers at the same time it’s homage.
I've learned age is a very high price to pay for maturity.
I've learned that no matter how much I care, some people are just self-centered jerks.
I've learned that one good turn gets most of the blankets.
I've learned that whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.
I've learned that depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
I've learned that we are responsible for what we do, unless we are celebrities.
I've learned that it is not what you wear; it is how you take it off.
I've learned that you can keep vomiting long after you think you're finished.
I've learned that the people you care most about in life are gone much too soon and the real pains in the ass are permanent.
{If you're wondering, I stole this list. Except the first one.}

(The picture above of Jennifer Connelly has absolutely nothing to do with this post except I watched one of my favorite movies the other night and she is one of the stars. If you haven’t seen The Rocketeer, check out it. It does what “fun” movies are supposed to do but rarely do. Plus Ms. C is in it.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Two alien scientists in space are scanning Planet Earth.
First alien: "It appears that the dominant life-forms on this planet have developed satellite-based weapons."
Second alien: "Should we be worried? Are they an emerging intelligence?"
"I don't think so," replies the first. "They have the weapons aimed at themselves."