Monday, February 28, 2011

Free Amazon Instant Video, Netflix get Subtitles, Twin Peaks, Futurama 5.

Some of this is 10+ days old, but I have a solid pace. I won't disappear for 3 weeks straight then serve up a 4300-word review, but some news gets held back for a week or so. Seriously, which would you prefer?

Newest news first: Amazon's Instant Video selection is free to anyone who's a member of Amazon Prime. Damn, I canceled my subscription too soon! They have a massive selection which gets updated all the time. 5000 movies and TV shows, and they come with a shipping program that you might already be paying for. Lovely.

I think it's a very nice move, and could help position Amazon as a real competitor to the King of Streaming Video Rental. And I do mean "rental" since, unlike other Amazon Digital Video purchases, you won't own it if you don't renew the service. So let the Rental Wars begin!

If you haven't already tried it, there's a free 1 month Amazon Prime trial. I took advantage of a typical Amazon deal - buy an mp3 album and get $4 toward digital video purchases - to buy 2 episodes of a TV show; the picture and playback are fine, although there were no additional options, like subtitles. Well, worse case scenario, you'll get free 2-day shipping and videos for 1 month...

The funny thing here is that Amazon announced this, quietly for some reason, two days ago. That's when I got an email which was an announcement that I could stream the movie "Due Date." Oh, and also that service you used to pay $80/year for now includes a massive selection of videos. That little bit of info was also in the email. Look below!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hipster Ariel, the Best Internet Meme

I want this in a locket around my neck.

And then I found that picture, and I somehow felt complete. As a terse dissection of modern fads, it's a champ. As a hysterical zinger, it's a freaking charm.

I will return to some internet memes, perhaps even ones I've mentioned before. But this is surely my favorite. I thank the genius who started Hipster Ariel at tumblr. Hell, I even thank the reposters over at Buzzfeed.

The angsty-yet-earnest look, the glasses, the attitude: it's just perfect.

It's like "Velma" from "Scooby Doo" became hot and rebelliously super-pretentious. How many people have you met that fit this bill?

I've never been the biggest fan of internet memes. They're too stupid, usually, to even be especially funny. It's like downing a Hostess devil dog: sure, chocolate and cream! But you might as well get something really nice out of those calories, and it's not all that special.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Inception: If Only Nolan Made "The Matrix" Sequels!

It's perfect; he just looks so happy.
You know what I do when a trailer shows the words "Christopher Nolan?" I close my eyes and hum quietly. I don't need to know any more; I'll ask for the name of the film later. And what can I say about a movie that inspired "F Yeah Strutting Leo?" -->
It is so rare to sit in a theater and think, "omygodican’tbelievehowgoodthisis." Or words to that effect. Also, when your brain is totally blank, eyes wide, as you follow a movie like a dog watching tennis? That's the same thing.

I felt that way for most of the 142 minutes of "Inception." With a stupid grin, too.

Some movie experiences are completely engrossing and unbelievably fun to sit through. It's great when any movie can manage that for a few scenes. "Inception" pulls it off flawlessly, with style and brains.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Netflix/Hulu Updates, Redbox goes Streaming

What you probably haven't noticed: Netflix is changing the design of their multi-season streaming tv shows. It's starting with the show, "Psych," apparently... I remembered that they had a partly-Spanish-language ep, "Lights, Camera, Homidicio." I decided to watch it, then noticed that this tv series is now designed differently from anything else on Netflix.

Tho it's not a great (or especially good) show, "Psych" now occupies its own page on the Netflix site. One page for all 4 available seasons; when you click on the tabs to the left, you can see all the stream-able episodes for S1, S2, etc. & two tabs on the right allow you to alternate between seeing the offerings by disc or on-demand.

So far, it's only "Psych," mind you; I checked various shows - from DVD-only options like "House," to streaming-ready series like "Battlestar Galactica." No joy.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Recommended: Movie Podcasts

Do you want to hear people talk about movies? Want to hear the thoughts of some film professionals? I'm chiming in quickly to highlight some good choices... I'd post more, but I honestly haven't sampled enough to really suggest every film-podcast I've heard of.

If you're looking for thoughtful film reviews, I can't think of anyone better than BBC's own Mark Kermode's film review. I tune in nearly every week, sometimes streaming live every Friday at 10AM (EST). I sometimes disagree with the man, and his points.

Still, I like his approach, his sarcasm, and his vast film education; the guy's got a PhD in it. I loved his brutal rant over the nomination announcements for this year's Golden Globes (those events get special non-Friday podcasts).

Also, it's broadcast from London, so he reviews movies months before/after they've come out here! If you stream it on Friday mornings, you'll get BBC news and traffic breaks; that M-25's a hassle, right? You can find Kermode and Mayo's review on ITunes, as well as through the link above. There's a descriptions of all the major reviews (and big name interviews) in each episode, but they also run through the UK's Top 10. Typically, it's 45 minutes to 2 hours long.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Private Parts, Briefly

I didn't know much about Howard Stern before watching "Private Parts." If you don't know the name: he's the self-proclaimed "King of All Media," and has good enough reason to say it. More to the point, the rich wrongness of his jokes is legendary.*

1997's "Private Parts" is a fine, fun movie. It's terribly funny, and Stern is very charismatic. The picture hits its emotional beats incredibly well...

The story does a fine job of tracing Howard back to his awkward Long Island roots. It follows him through the early parts of his radio career, his gradual rise to national attention, and the complications of being the biggest and wildest name in radio.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Memento is back in theaters for Feb 17!

A piece of news came along that changed my posting plans for this month - Christopher Nolan's great "Memento" is out in theaters for one night only, February 17th! The wonderful folks at The AV Club posted the news on Friday. The show will be followed by a video interview with Nolan and Guillermo del Toro.

The list of cities in which one theater will play Memento this Thursday: Los Angeles, CA; San Diego, CA; Alpharetta, GA; Dedham, MA; New York, NY; Arlington, TX; Houston, TX; Fairfax, VA; Vancouver, BC; Toronto, CA. Also, the website this link points to will list any newly-added theaters to play the best film of 2001 (kiss my #!!, "A Beautiful Mind"). Already, there are additional screenings for Michigan, Texas, DC, Colorado, and many more...

Are you going to have a slow Thursday this week? Well, how about a clever, funny, and exciting crime-drama/thriller that got 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and 80% on Metacritic? And an Oscar nom for Best Screenplay?

For anyone who missed the exceptional "Following," "Memento" was their very first exposure to the unique mind and style of Nolan. Also, of course, to Jonathan Nolan - who wrote the short story that inspired the movie. Well, this re-release is, in fact, a celebration of the movie's 10-year anniversary in the US. It's also a promotional move, for a special new Blu-ray DVD of the flick.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lil Darth, Pick-a-"Living Dead," & Stick Film Cliches

Youtube's sheer size guarantees you'll find something to enjoy. My brother emailed me the link on Saturday, but you likely know my embedded clip already. After a big Superbowl airing, it has been so popular that its suddenly-famous child actor go to meet James Earl Jones in NYC on Tuesday. & if you haven't watched it - well, you'll get to see the long version first...

I don't like hyping ads, generally, but I make exceptions for anything really clever. In this case, I liked it enough that the 2nd link above goes to the NY Post! As if it were a real news source and everything. I recommend you read it, and learn that this adorable 6 year-old has a complicated life. I mean, "he has a pacemaker," complicated...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My 100th Post! But Does That Mean Anything?

Not really; yet this 100th post is a good excuse to write a site update. It's nice to write an entry that I know will be less than 1000 words. I'm sure you understand.
And how can I not use the words "The Half a Film Student Hundred" when I've got the chance?

I'll only do it that one time, I swear.

I had this all written out to make the paragraphs flow into each other. Then I decided to just number my points. I'll never know if the result is easier or less pleasing to read - or both/neither. Is it organized, or smooth? If you have any strong feelings either way, let me know.

1st - I have fixed every entry that was turned into one long paragraph. I didn't know it would happen when I switched templates, but I gradually repaired it. You can actually read any post, including the  '09 pieces, without suffering eye damage.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Studio Remakes! Killin Us Softly With Their Shlock

What happens when you realize that you never properly scheduled a post like you meant to? And you have over 1000 perfectly good words that were written about something when it actually happened?

You find a way to recycle and/or make something relevant again. Writing doesn't grow on trees, except figuratively. I'll call this a "Site Oddity" (it's a new label) so I can show you "the post that would have been." Why do I think that title is accurate?

If any of this news - from December 11, 2009, no less - is new to you, that will be mildly amusing. It'll be even better, though, if you notice how much it keeps to the themes and ideas of my other posts - entries both before and after this one should have been published. Here goes...

You know how you and a friend might have this conversation?... "I just saw 'My Blue Heaven!' Remember that one? It was hysterical - I never laughed so hard in my life."

Among Hollywood "movers and shakers," apparently, the discussion would go something like this... "I just saw 'My Blue Heaven.' Remember how good that pic was? Let's remake it! Maybe with Zac Efron - the teens are wild over him..."

The Transformers and GI Joe trademarks somehow spawned 3 21-century movies. So much money was given the former series, there was no doubt that it would (a) brutally suck and (b) earn a ton of cash. The Freaking A-Team - an urban guerilla/vigilante show from the 1980's  - is being remade as a movie. Now, the Secret of Nimh is being remade, despite the fact that the original is, simply put, good.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The great John Barry is Gone!

First thing I see when I get into work on Monday: John Barry is dead. If you don't know who this person is, slap yourself now, please. Actually - go to your iPod, play the James Bond Theme (if you have it), and then slap yourself. Why? Because John Barry made that song!

That's John on the left at the Royal Albert hall.

Like many songs that I consider "timeless," the Bond theme is a track that I can't turn off after 4 seconds. Y'know - you're not in the mood for "Heard it Through the Grapevine," but even as you're reaching for the controls, you get caught up in it. Your fingers reaches towards the "skip" button, and if you don't press it in time... That's it, you've got to hear such a pretty piece of music all the way through.