Tag: Pulp Media

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Another ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

Okay, so a few days back, I grumbled about how all those repeated showings of “It’s a Wonderful Life” had kind of killed the movie’s appeal for me. Maybe I am extra sentimental this holiday, because the classic film is yanking on yea `ol heartstrings.

I got some sentimental boost from OldFunRadio.com, which has a radio theatre version of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, with original cast (including Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed). [Editor: Original link is gone, use this one.] 

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‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

Before movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” became a holiday mainstay in the United States, largely because the film’s copyright had expired, I first saw it in the middle of the night in June 1979. That’s right summer, not Christmas

I worked at a local factory, a summer job for me, doing third shift. I liked the late hours because of better pay and my tendency to rumble around late night like a spectre. This night I had off, but couldn’t sleep (it wasn’t my bedtime until dawn), so I caught the 2 a.m. Night Owl late show on one of the local TV stations. 

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‘The Edukators’

My 2005 work schedule has been brutal, with too few cultural breaks but DVDs. Catching movies on DVD puts me about six months behind showings, as was typical this weekend when I watched “The Edukators.” I give the the film high recommendation.

I immediately identified with the main characters, but not their captive, even though he and I are close in age. While I make quite a bit more money than the three protagonists, I can’t even relate to the lavish lifestyle of their antagonists. Like the three Edukators, I am highly critical of the truly wealthy, even though I would easily qualify, based on income, as a bourgeois. I live in a humble home (rented) and drive an old Volvo (dented and purchased quite used). My wife shops at thrift stores and we give more than 10 percent of yearly income to church, charity, people in need, or friends. 

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‘Walk the Line’

I am not much of a country music fan. My mother predicted that when I grew older, my tastes would grow more country. That simply never happened. Today’s playlist included songs by Arcade Fire, Jack’s Mannequin, Nelly Furtado, Something Corporate, Snow Patrol, Simple Plan, and Sum 41. No country.

But I do like good movies, even about country music singers, particularly when the actors do their own singing (no lip syncing, please). Country singer Johnny Cash did cover songs spanning many genres, even if he put his own twang on them. So I couldn’t resist “Walk the Line“, which I watched this evening. The star performances make the show. 

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Yeah, I’m ‘Lost’

Tonight, I broke down and purchased “Lost” Season 1 from the iTunes Music Store. The time had come to start serious testing Apple’s new video service. I wanted to see if the shows really could be watched (and enjoyed) from the new iMac’s Front Row. Yup. Quality is a tad VHS, but w-a-a-y better than I expected.

The download put the Verizon Fios 15Mbps DSL service to its toughest test yet. Surprisingly, the nearly 5GB of data—that’s 25 episodes—downloaded in well under an hour. I timed the first couple programs at about two minutes each, then left the PowerBook G4 downloading while I washed dishes. 

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‘Good Night, And Good Luck’

I just returned from the AFI theatre in Silver Spring, Md., where I watched the film “Good Night, And Good Luck“. I can’t speak for George Clooney’s motivation for making the film, but the topic certainly is timely considering the U.S. government’s anti-terrorism stance.

As a writer and former journalist (former in current job only), the topic attracted my interest. I credit the director for creating a real sense of being there, even filming in black and white. Wikipedia and Museum of Broadcast Communications offer excellent bios on the film’s protagonist, Edward R. Murrow. 

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Frak That

The second season of “Battlestar Galactica” closed with a major letdown on Friday. I suppose it’s really the end of the first season, cut in two. Series typically air about 24 shows per season, which is almost Battlestar Galactica’s count after two, uh, seasons.

The miniseries launching the series is a marvel. The show captures a quality, a flow of good storytelling that transcended anything else on television. The first season (OK, half season) delivers excellent entertainment and, again, some smart storytelling. Acting, direction, sets, special effects, the drama all are exceptional. 

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The Director’s Effect

Last night, I watched “The Butterfly Effect: The Director’s Cut” on DVD. Wow. I had seen the theatrical release, which I regarded as an A-class B movie. But, still, a B movie. The Director’s Cut adds seven minutes and a new ending that work quite well. The movie still operates outside believable reality, but I’m not sure it’s meant to be believable. The movie—well, the Director’s Cut, anyway—works well as pure fantasy.

I often wonder at the forces that shape movies during final production, as the influence of studio chiefs and test audiences come to bear. In this case, their impact was negative. The Director’s Cut adds more depth to the main characters, appropriately drawing out the mother-son relationship before the wicked alternate—and I assume original—ending. And I found the new ending to be much more satisfying and poetic. Were the previous two still births the same fate as Evan’s? 

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Small Superman in ‘Smallville’

The school year opened with my booting our TV and accompanying entertainment center—unaffectionally called “the shrine”—from the living room. In its place, there is a Windows XP Media Center 2005 PC. The dual TV tuner offers more recording capability than TiVo, which I put to good use. The timing meant I could start recording “Smallville,” which, for the new TV season, started running from episode one on the ABC Family channel.

Before I diss “Smallville,” I should say that I generally really like the show. It’s not exceptional TV the way, say, “Alias” or “Sopranos” might be. But “Smallville” moves along, even if watching requires some serious reality suspension. 

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Law and Disorder

Good thing I was interested in live TV last night rather than using the DVR. Disappointing would have been the recording. I turned off the TV about half way through the first of two “Law and Order” episodes, disgusted how one-sidedly political the show has become. Naively, I had hoped for respite with the cast change. No such luck.

Episode one sought to put alleged Iraqi prisoner abuses on trial. The timing and context had to be deliberate given the election year. As if we hadn’t watched or read enough already about the prisoners’ treatment for it to be repackaged as entertainment. Geez. I tuned into episode two during the last 20 minutes, which made nonsense out of people devastated by the 9-11 attacks on the Twin Towers.