Monday, May 31, 2010

Day #21,712

Walk km 4709-4715: to Science World & return

more globes
aprox km 4712 Science World

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day #21,711

Walk km 4700-4709: Smithe/Howe/Burrard bridge/Fir/Marpole/Granville/14th/Oak/Broadway/Laurel/Moseby/seawalk

False Creek between two buildings
aprox km 4702 from Burrard bridge

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day #21,710

Walk km 4695-4700: Smithe/seawalk/Denman/(bus)/Robson

Movie #1302 (#122 this year): House On Haunted Hill(1959, William Castle)

I'm afraid I'm not too crazy about haunted house movies. Castle keeps things moving along nicely but I'm afraid it's no use........... ghosts just aren't very scary.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Day #21,709

Walk km 4686-4690: to the library
Walk km 4690-4695: Burrard/Burnaby/Jervis/seawalk/Denman/Robson

street scene at dusk
aprox km 4692 Burnaby Street

Book #295 (#19 this year): I'm Sorry You Feel That Way (2009, Diana Joseph)

I went back to the same part of the library as I did for the last book. It's called the "popular reading" collection. Maybe I was reading too much "unpopular reading" before because these last two have both been fun books.
Diana Joseph teaches creative writing in Mankato Minnesota. That doesn't sound too promising. Aren't professors supposed to get stuff published just so thay have something for their resume? Maybe. But, luckily Diana Joseph has apparantly never met a normal person in her entire life (including herself). That's what makes reading this so much fun.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day #21,708

Walk km 4673-4686: Robson/Denman/Stanley Park/Alberni/Robson

low tide
aprox km 4679 Stanley Park

Movie #1301 (#121 this year): Hangman's Knot(1952, Roy Huggins)

Another oddity: this is the only movie directed by Roy "Rockford Files" Huggins. He directed a couple of things for TV but no other movies.
The main thing about this one is how great it looks. I'm sure that this looked better on my computer monitor than it did in theatres back in 1952. In fact, all of these French CDs look great.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day #21,707

Walk km 4667-4673: to Sunrise Market and back

Movie #1300 (#120 this year): Bodyguard(1948, Richard Fleischer)

Priscilla Lane, one (and only) reason to watch this movie

Finally just a regular movie from these RKOs that I bought in Paris. Instead of a "noir", we get a straight whodunit. Lawrence "Reservoir Dogs" Tierney is the detective and Priscilla Lane is cute as his assisstant. Otherwise, no great shakes.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day #21,706

Walk km 4661-4663: to the library
Walk km 4663-4667: Thurlow/Dunsmuir/Cambie/Pacific/Howe/Smithe

Book #294 (#18 this year): The Guinea Pig Diaries(2009, A.J. Jacobs)

A nice bit of fluff. Since we know that people can't change their personalities, the author tries out different personality experiments for a month each. At least, that's the main jist here. There are a few useless chapters like "outsourcing your life".
He tries to be rational. He tries to be act like George Washington. He tries to not lie. But the main thing is that he only has to do this for a month and then it's back to normal.
Amusing anecdotes make for a nice page-turner.

Movie #1298 (#118 this year): All You Need Is Cash (1978, Gary Weis & Eric Idle)

Pleasant retelling of The Rutles legend by the various cast members of Monty Python and Saturday Night Live. Of course I have the records but it's nice to see archival video footage of the Dirk, Nasty, Stig & Barry from back in the day.
Note: The VLC player seems to ignore the region code on these European DVDs.

Movie #1299 (#119 this year): Ghost Ship (1943, Mark Robson)

The 3rd of the RKO releases that I picked up in Paris. It just doesn't compare to "The Woman On The Beach" or "Split Second" mainly due to the lacklustre acting ability of leading man Richard Dix. He must have been a close relative of someone at RKO in order to get his name above the title on this one.
Otherwise, this tale of a sea captain going psycho is quite enjoyable.
IMDB Update: I see the name of the non-actor was "Russell Wade". My apologies to Mr Dix.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day #21,705

Walk km 4643-4648: To Sunshine Market and back
Walk km 4648-4661: Science World to Kitsilano Beach and return

walking path and tree
aprox km 3654 Kitsilano Beach

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day #21,704

Walk km 4638-4643: to a few libraries

Movie #1296 (#116 this year): The Woman On The Beach(1947, Jean Renoir)
A typical Joan Bennett pose from The Woman On The Beach

Hadn't heard of this Renoir before I bought the DVD so I thought it was just a rent-a-director job in Hollywood. IMDB seems to indicate that it wasn't but that RKO took the scissors to this thing and destroyed what could have been a classic. Well, what's left of it (71 minutes) ain't bad at all. Renoir uses Joan Bennett just like Fritz Lang did - as the vixen who can destroy any man she pleases. Joan comes through again and this time it's Robert Ryan who throws over his fiancee when he finds himself under Joan's spell. It may be only 71 minutes but it plays more like 10.

Movie #1297 (#117 this year): Split Second (1953, Dick Powell)

Back in the 30s they had two excellent gangster-in-the-desert-with-hostages pictures in "Heat Lightning" and "The Petrified Forest". Fast forward to the 50s and what's in the desert now? Atomic tests! So, how about a gangster-in-the-desert-with-hostages-and-atomic-bomb? First time director is old song and dance man, Dick Powell. With this plot, he can do no wrong as this is a hoot from beginning to end. I've probably never seen two movies in the same day as good as this and "Woman On The Beach".

Book #293 (#17 this year): Fright (1950, Cornell Woolrich writing as George Hopley)

I'm afraid I read most of this on a long trip while suffering from sleep deprevation. It certainly is a clever plot. However, the characters remain cardboard cutouts so it's hard to work up much enthusiasm for page turning.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Day #21,702

EuroWalk km 125-137: Paris

view from my hotel window
km 137 Hotel Armstrong

Movie #1294 (#114 this year): A Dandy In Aspic(1968, Anthony Mann)

This was Anthony Mann's last movie. He started in the 40s with the "film noir", switched to Jimmy Stewart westerns in the 50s and here he was directing a British spy movie in the 60s.
Can't say that these spy movies do much for me. The motivation is all a little removed from the greed and fear of "film noir". Still, it's excellently made and drops all the comic book aspects of those 007 movies (which might not be a good thing).
IMDB Update: Not only was this Mann's last film but he died during shooting. The lead actor (Laurence Harvey) took over.

Movie #1295 (#115 this year): Attack Of The Crab Monsters (1957, Roger Corman)

Roger Corman was never a favourite of mine. His Edgar Allan Poe movies are a bore. His 50s movies lack goofiness. In this one, a group of scientists land on a south Pacific island which is being destroyed by a giant crab that assumes the personality of any scientst whose brain it has eaten! Sounds good eh? Sure, but the execution is dull. There was just no Ed Wood in Roger Corman.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day #21,701

EuroWalk km 118-125: to Gare De Lyon and return

walking path
aprox km 121 12th arrondissement

Movie #1292 (#112 this year): Rage At Dawn(1955, Tim Whelan)

After yesterday's "Dementia" we're back to standard fare. Can't get more standard than a Randolph Scott western. Screenplay by Horace "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye" McCoy doesn't help any. Randy without Budd is merely OK.

Movie #1293 (#113 this year): Trapped(1949, Richard Fleischer)

Gee, how many of these 'film noit"s did Hollywood make between 1945 and 1955? There seems to be no end to them. In this one the Treasury Department takes on counterfeiters. Lloyd Bridges (counterfeiter) and John Hoyt (government agent) are both excellent. The direction is fine although this print (BachFilms) looks a little worn.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day #21,700

Walk km 106-118: Paris - to the Arc De Triomphe

covered sidewalk
aprox km 109 Place Des Vosges

Movie #1290 (#110 this year): Blonde Ice (1948, Jack Bernhard)

Pretty good "noir" as Leslie Brooks kills her way to the top. The only problem is that the cast is not very strong. Brooks as the villain is just not psycho enough and Robert Paige in the male lead is just a stuffed shirt. Only James Griffith as the sardonic newspaperman stands out.
Great final line

Movie #1291 (#111 this year): Dementia(1953,John Parker)

I guess this is why I watch so many movies. I might run across something like this. You would think that I've seen every classic ever made or at least heard of it. So, where did this one come from? Luis Bunuel meets Ed Wood! Amazing surrealist silent movie from 1953 - and it's the real deal. Despite the fact that the cinematographer also shot "Plan Nine From Outer Space"! Despite the fact that nobody knows who director "John Parker" really was. Despite the fact that actor and associate producer Buno Ve Sota starred in such classics as "Attack Of The Giant Leeches" and "Hot Car Girl". Despite the fact that the star, Adrienne Barrett never made another movie either before or after this. Despite all that, this film is real, it's super-weird but best of all...... I've seen it!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day #21,699

EuroWalk km 98-106: Paris (out shopping)

graffiti wall
aprox km 100 Rue Des Maraichers

Movie #1289 (#109 this year): Port Of New York(1949, Laslo Benedek)

A bit too much time spent on the good guys (dull as dust) and not enough on the bad guys. Yul Brynner (in his film debut, with hair) is the main bad guy and there are also good performances by K.T. Stevens (as Yul's moll) and Arthur Blake (as a drug addict).
Director Laslo Benedek had to wait 4 years for his big break when he directed that up-and-comer Marlon Brando in The Wild One. Yul Brynner had to wait 7 years for his next film but it was worth the wait because it was The King And I.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day #21,698

EuroWalk km 91-98: Paris (shopping on Rue St Michel)

typical streetcorner
aprox km 95 Rue Diderot

Movie #1288 (#108 this year): Vicki(1953, Harry Horner)

It seems I've taken way too much money on my vacation. So, it's shopping time. Since Paris is movie crazy, I figured I'd stock up on DVDs. This is the first one.
All the way through this movie I kept thinking "I've seen this before". Turns out this is another version of Steve Fisher's novel "I Wake Up Screaming". I've read the book and seen the other movie version so the plot should be familiar. This one is worth it just to see Richard Boone at work as the psycho cop. Academy Award type performance from Mr Boone.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day #21,697

EuroWalk km 79-82: Paris: Sunday morning stroll
EuroWalk km 82-91:
Paris: Sunday afternoon walk

aprox km 89 Paris

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day #21,696

EuroWalk: km 70-75: Luxembourg
EuroWalk km 75-79: Paris (to Bastille metro)

Day #21,695

EuroWalk km 57-70: Ettelbruch to Schieren to Colmar to Berg to Weisdorf to Ettelbruck

house, road and fields
aprox km 59 outskirts of Ettelbruck

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day #21,694

EuroWalk km 45-54: Koln, along the Rhine
EuroWalk km 54-57: Luxembourg

valley with trees
aprox km 56 Luxembourg

Day #21,693

EuroWalk km 40-45: Koln & Dusseldorf

memorial to passengers on train to Auschwitz, January 15, 1944
aprox km 44 Koln

dreary artwork
aprox km 42 Dusseldorf

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day #21,692

EuroWalk km 32-40: Cologne

city gate
aprox km 33 Cologne

Book #292 (#16 this year): Letters To A Young Contrarian(2001, Christopher Hitchens)

A good travel book because it's a batch of ideas all independent from each other so concentration is not required. However, since these are serious ideas, the lack of concentration leaves me unable to determine the book's worth. Most ideas seem quite solid but a few are iffy. I should have paid more attention - but I was reading on the go.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Day #21,691

EuroWalk km 26-32: Mannheim

street scene
aprox km 30 Mannheim

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Day #21,690

EuroWalk km 9-19: Cologne - along the Rhine
EuroWalk km 19-26: Cologne - along the Rhine (the other direction)

aprox km 18 railroad bridge over the Rhine

walking path
aprox km 16 along the Rhine

Friday, May 7, 2010

Day #21,689

EuroWalk 0-4 km: Cologne
EuroWalk: 4-9 km: Munster

old church at night
aprox km 1 Cologne

path along the canal
aprox km 6 Munster

Movie #1287 (#107 this year): My Boys Are Good Boys(1978, Bethel Buckalew)

There are so many films vying for worst of alltime! This is one but it fails on intent. There was no evil intent behind the making of this film: just ineptitude. Horrible plot and dialogue. It's one of those film you finish watching just to see if you actually can do it. Mind numbing.
Extra minus points:
a) this was the final film of Ida Lupino - she should have known better.
b) godawful theme song by Dorsey Burnette (this guy used to be in Johnny Burnette & The Rock'n'Roll Trio - how the mighty have fallen)

Day #21,688

The hotel here promised internet in the room but that was a lie.
They will move me to another room in 2 days.

Utrecht train station

Movie #1286 (#106 this year): The Great Gabbo (1929,James Cruze)

Erich gives his real self a hug!

I think they had a great idea here. Erich Von Stroheim is a gruff fellow but at his core he's a real softie. He's also a ventriloquist. Everything he says is coming from this gruff exterior. Everything the dummy says is really him. What a great premise. However, they added commentary by some down and out showbiz folk. Then they added a whole bunch of song and dance numbers. The story gets sidetracked so often that it looses it's steam. It's as if the filmmakers knew that there wouldn't be a big audience for a psycho ventriloquist movie so they didn't even try making one.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Day #21,686

Movie #1285 (#105 this year): Sha Ji(1970,Mitsuo Murayama)

Pretty good Hong Kong movie made by a Japanese director.
The attempt here is to duplicate Hitchcock and it's not a bad try. It could probably pass as a Chabrol.
Note: I don't see anything on the IMDB website about why Mr Murayama moved to Hong Kong to direct. However, his very first Japanese movie was "The Transparent Man vs. the Fly Man" - that could be a clue.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Day #21,685

Walk km 4493-4500: Thurlow/seawalk(south)/Stanley Park/seawalk(north)/Thurlow/Pender/Bute/Robson

aprox km 4497 Lost Lagoon

Movie #1283 (#103 this year): The Sin Ship(1931, Louis Wolheim)

This ain't much of a movie but gee it was swell! That's how they talk in this movie.
Louis Wolheim (the ship's captain) rents out his boat to a minister and his wife so he can rape the wife. This is pre-code! When he makes his move, the wife (Mary Astor) convinces him that he should clean his soul - and he falls for it. You see, Mary isn't really a minister's wife, she and her "husband" are a couple of bank robbers on the lam. The whole plot is so goofy that it hooked me right from the get go. And of course Mary Astor emotes like crazy while Louis Wolheim must be the ugliest leading man ever.

Movie #1284 (#104 this year): Runaway Bride(1930, Donald Crisp)

Is that the Donald Crisp who became a character actor? Might have been a good move. The direction on this one ain't so hot although he does get a few excellent night scenes.
The whole thing looks weird - they don't make movies like this any more.
The acting is positively dismal, except for Mary Astor who is her usual vivacious self.
I just checked the IMDB on Donald Crisp. Seems he was quite the director in the silent movie days. He directed 71 silent movies (starting in 1914) and one talkie. The talkie was "Runaway Bride" and it was the last movie he ever directed.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Day #21,684

Walk km 4477-4482: running errands
Walk km 4482-4493: Science World to English Bay (and return) with Meetup group

Meetup walkers
aprox km 4487 English Bay

Movie #1282 (#101 this year): Smart Woman(1931, Gregory LaCava)

Mary Astor

Here's a movie that makes no sense. Mary Astor's been away in Europe and on returning home finds that her nitwit of a husband has taken up with a golddigger. Instead of being thankful that she's gonna get rid of the lug, she instead tries to win him back! And unfortunately, succeeds.
Delightful drawing room comedy except you keep hoping that Mary will come to her senses.

Movie #ReWatch (#102 this year): Midnight(1939, Mitchell Leisen)

I totally forgot that I'd seen this before. It's like "Smart Woman" on steroids. Sparkling comedy with Claudette Colbert as a penniless American in Paris who manages to get high society to believe that she's a Baroness. Mary Astor gets a supporting role and John Barrymore is a delight as Astor's husband. And written by Billy Wilder! Who would have guessed that he had it in him to write something this good.
Billy Wilder trivia: his brother is W Lee "Phantom From Space" Wilder!