Sunday, January 29, 2012

Inventing the next cinema

I did not see Avatar, which sounds like exactly the kind of movie I would find annoying, so I guess I have not seen the pinnacle of modern 3-D film-making. One of the Harry Potters I saw had some 3-D scenes, which were fairly entertaining, but little better than the 3-D version of Dial M for Murder of many years ago. And now I see that they will be releasing a 3-D version of one of my all-time least favorite movies, Titanic.

So, is 3-D doomed to be a techy gimmick, adding a visual boost to action movies but otherwise creating the impression of a children's pop-up book? For the argument that there is more to it, look to recent documentaries by two of the great German auteurs of the postwar generation, Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders. Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a fairly static rendering of the paleolithic Chauvet cave paintings in France. It is a lovely if slightly silly film, enhanced (maybe) by Herzog's spacy narration and goofball existentialism.

But for a movie that gives a much better idea of the potential of the 3-D technology, Wenders's bracing Pina is where to start. A tribute to the German choreographer and dancer Pina Bausch, the film occasionally veers toward hagiography, but the dances are so brilliant, witty, and moving, you can forgive. Dance is an art of movement and music, but also an art of space, and it is space that Wenders evokes exquisitely using 3-D. This is hardly surprising, because Wenders himself is an artist of space (think Paris, Texas). Pina's version of The Rite of Spring is well worth the price of admission. We saw it opening weekend in Palo Alto, and the theater was nearly empty. Go see it, so we can get more Wim Wenders and less James Cameron... please?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Woodrat project, vol. 3

Featuring a glimpse inside the den and some nice mystery photos taken in Palo Alto's Foothills Park.

From Woodrat project, vol. 3

Sad news for this oak

This strange looking stuff is apparently Hypoxylon thouarsianum, a fungus that often occurs when sudden oak death has just about finished off a tree.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Crazy as shithouse rats

I was raised Republican, but really now, Newt? President Newt? Newt Gingrich?!!

The Grey

I doubt I'll be seeing this one, but if I do, I'll be rooting for the wolves big time.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Of the nine (!) nominees for best picture, I have seen all of two: "The Descendants" and "Midnight in Paris." Both quite respectable entertainments. Yawn. The best new movie I saw last year was not nominated for anything, as far as I can tell: "Take Shelter."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lesson number 1 from "Alien"

If somebody says, "I've never seen anything like it," it's definitely time to get off the planet...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SOPA protest

My blog won't go dark, because nobody reads my blog. But if that should change and you happen to read this on Jan. 18, check out what Cory Doctorow has to say when his blog reappears Jan. 19. Then call your congressperson.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Bones is really a pretty dumb show, featuring an ensemble of fairly mediocre supporting actors and lame plots centered on gross-out forensics, in the tradition of the truly awful CSI franchise, albeit with a welcome modicum of humor. But all of this is the modest price you pay for one of the classic TV romances, between actors Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz. Boreanaz is a fortunate fellow indeed, having now played the hunky but sensitive love interest for two of the great female characters in TV history, Buffy Summers and Temperance Brennan. They light up that little screen.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Purity of expression does not require purity of tone or technique!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012