Friday, December 31, 2010

Day #21,562

Movie #1528 (#310 this year): Return Of The Whistler (1948, D Ross Lederman)

Got a hot tip on D Ross Lederman from the Film Noir Of The Week blog. This one was on the Internet Archives so I thought I'd give it a try.
It's a sub-Twilight Zone type of thing: couple want to be married - come to small town - justice-of-the-peace is away - the nearby hotel has only one room - bride-to-be stays there - groom-to-be returns next day - bride-to-be has disappeared. It doesn't really continue that strong but good enough to keep my interest right to the end.
UPDATE: I missed it during the opening credits: "story by Cornell Woolrich" - no wonder the plot is so good!

Book #362 (#51 this year): The Maine Massacre(1979, Janwillem van de Wetering)

So what's a Dutch fellow doing writing about a massacre in Maine? Not sure, but that's the best thing about this book. Two Amsterdam detectives are in the USA for a task unrelated to their occupations. But of course they do discover a crime and set to work. The best part of this book was early on when Wetering was describing the clash of cultures. Then the whodunit set in and that wasn't so interesting. Still and all a worthwhile read.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Day #21,561

Movie #1527 (#309 this year): Uncle Joe (1941, Howard M Railsback & Raymond E Swartley)

It took two directors to make this piece of cornpone?!?!? Even with padding this thing limps in at a paltry 51 minutes.
The only bright spot: Zasu Pitts.
And I always did like the name "Gale Storm". Too bad she couldn't act.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Day #21,560

Walk km 6353-6356: running errands

Movie #1526 (#308 this year): Romantic Papa(1960, Sang-ok Shin)

Not as good as "My Mother And The Guest" but still effective family drama about "papa" losing his job because his firm is hiring younger staff.
As in "My Mother And The Guest", the tension is maintained by people's inability to communicate. When the father is fired from his job, he is too embarrassed to tell his family so he wanders the streets each day until it's time to return home.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day #21,557

Movie #1525 (#307 this year): Land Of Scarecrows(2008, Gyeong-tae Roh)

It's an artsy-fartsy movie! People mope around. They do nothing but mope around. Dullsville.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Day #21.556

Walk km 6345-6349(15,207 to go): to Main Street Station
Walk km 6349-6353(15,203 to go): to Christmas dinner

Friday, December 24, 2010

Day #21,555

Walk km 6341-6344: Smithe/Granville/Davie/Richards/Smithe
Walk km 6344-6345: to T&T

Emery Barnes park
aprox km 6342 between Richards & Seymour

Movie #1524 (#306 this year): My Mother and the Guest(1961, Sang-ok Shin)

One of the saddest movies ever! The screwed up world of adults as seen through the eyes of a six year old. She can't understand the adult world with good reason. The adults have all developed a set of proper behavior patterns that prevent them from communicating with one another. Only the child is free to express what she really feels.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day #21,554

Walk km 6337-6338: to T&T
Walk km 6338-6341: to Denman @ Davie

Book #358 (#50 this year): The Yellow Dog (1931, Georges Simenon)

Another task completed: 50 books in one year.
I've read one of these Inspector Maigret's before and found it quite dry and tasteless. "The Yellow Dog" is supposed to be one of the best in this series, so I tried again. I don't know what it is but I had the same reaction. There is no verisimilitude here - I never really believed a world that was said. I don't know what there is in Simenon's style that leaves me cold but I do appear to be in the minority on this one.

Movie #1523 (#305 this year): Slap Shot (1977, George Roy Hill)

Enough of that foreign film artsy-fartsy stuff. Time for a real movie.
Great! Except I didn't even understand it. I got the first 99% of it. The movie concentrates on goonish activity exactly like hockey does. Hockey doesn't put seats in the stands with great passing and skating: it's violence that puts seats in the stands. Same with this movie. Nobody is going to go see a movie about hockey even if Paul Newman is in it. Enter the Hanson brothers! That'll sell tickets.
However, back at the last scene of the movie. The one fella who refuses to "goon it up" is sitting alone on the bench when he looks up into the stands and sees his estranged wife. Except that she doesn't look so good any more. Paul Newman has taken this great looking woman to his ex-wife's beauty parlour to get a complete makeover into that artificial 70s look (they tell her she could look like Cher!). So when he sees her he skates out onto the ice and does a strip tease. For the life of me, I don't know what the motivation was there. I wonder if there'll be any enlightenment on IMDB?
Oh ya, the movie: I gotta admit that it does move along at a pretty good clip. Nothing great but a good two hours entertainment.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day #21,553

Walk km 6332-6337 (15,216 to go): Meetup group walk to see the Christmas decorations

Christmas window display
aprox km 6333 Dunsmuir Street

Movie #1522 (#304 this year): Le parfum de la dame en noir(2005, Bruno Podalydès)

It took me three tries to finish this movie.
Amazingly whimsical. I hate whimsy.

Day #21,552

Walk km 6326-6328: to the library
Walk km 6328-6332: to Main Street Station (via Pender)

Movie #1521 (#303 this year): 4:30 (2005, Royston Tan)

Surprisingly effective movie despite the fact that there is no plot and a lot of the "action" is not explained.
A young boy lives with his "Korean uncle" (probably his mother's boyfriend). However, his mother has left for China and now he lives with the "uncle". The boy wants to be friends with this uncle but the uncle is more interested in trying to commit suicide. Not a healthy atmosphere.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day #21,551

Walk km 6318-6320: to the Post Office
Walk km 6320-6326(15,225 to go): Dunbar/18th/Crown/19th/Camosun/18th/Camosun/17th/Dunbar/17th/Collingwood/18th/Blenheim/Puget/19th/McDonald

house with Christmas lights and a tree in the window
aprox km 6322 18th Ave

Book #357 (#49 this year): Dirty Money (2008, Donald E Westlake)

I had a little problem with #49. I originally picked out a sci-fi book because I thought it would be a nice change of pace. Unfortunately, it was all plot (mix the nerons and the fabuzons in the klomik chamber to travel across time to the 5th dimension, or some such rot) and no character development. So, what to do? Drop that one and fall back on trustworthy Donald E Westlake (writing as Richard Stark). Now this is real sci-fi. The world that "Parker" inhabits ain't like anything I've ever experienced before (thank God)! A real page-turner and I'm left with a full ten more days to finish #50.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day #21,550

Walk km 6313-6317: running errands
Walk km 6317-6318: to Safeway

decorated Volkswagen
aprox km 6317 Thurlow Street

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day #21,549

Walk km 6306-6308: to the library
Walk km 6308-6313: to Yaletown Station/(train+bus)/Dunbar/20th/Crown/19th/Dunbar/16th/Dunbar/Alma

Movie #1520 (#302 this year): Koma(2009, Ludwig Wust)

OK, I've just watched this movie but I'm gonna have to go to IMDB to find out what the plot was. There are two possible explanations but they're both impossible so there had better be a 3rd explanation on IMDB.
Back from IMDB: That was no hope. Only 12 people have seen this movie and nobody is hazarding a guess as to the plot. I'll have to look farther on the web.
Back from the Internet: Found an interview with Wust in which it is stated that one of the impossible plots is the correct one. So, it's a puzzle with no solution. Not exactly my cup of tea.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Day #21,548

Walk km 6299-6306: Thurlow/Bute/Davie/Beach/Chilco/Georgia/Pender/Abbott

Movie #1518 (#300 this year): Gagman (1989, Myung-se Lee)

Well, that's a wrap. Mission accomplished: 300 movies in one year.
Gagman is a movie about movies. Sung-kee Ahn is a Charlie Chaplin wannabe who looks exactly like Ron Mael. Since he cannot convince anyone to finance his movie epic, he takes up bank robbing instead. It's all very clever but it goes on way too long. I was impressed by the beginning but after an hour I just wanted it to end.

Movie #1519 (#301 this year): Dublerzy (2006, Marcin Ziebinski)

It's an action-comedy. It's a Polish action-comedy. I try to avoid all action-comedies so I'm not sure how this would compare to one made in Hollywood. My guess is that even Hollywood couldn't come up with anything this brain dead. IMDB rates this an incredibnly low 3.6. I think that's quite generous.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day #21,547

Walk km 6293-6295: to the library
Walk km 6295-6299: to Main Street Station

Christmas lights
aprox km 6295 Burrard Street

Movie #1518 (#299 this year): Vibrator(2003, Ryuichi Hiroki)

Road movie about a truck driver picking up a woman at a convenience store. They drive to Niigata and back. That's the plot. Since this is a Japanese movie, the woman is a little bit nutso. On the way back, the truck driver lets her drive. That makes her feel good about herself. End of movie.
I enjoyed it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day #21,546

Walk km 6281-6288: to Yaletown Station/(train)/Cambie/(bus)/41st/Yew/53rd/Beechwood/51st/Marine/(bus+train)/Davie/Pacific/Expo/Abbott
Walk km 6288-6291 (15,255 to go): running errands
Walk km 6291-6293 (15,253 to go): to the library

hot food display at T&T Supermarket
aprox km 6288 Abbott Street

Book #356 (#48 this year): Dirty Tricks(1991, Michael Dibdin)

First person account of murder and mayhem from a first class rotter. The whole thing is extemely clever as our hero tries to explain away his many evil deeds, all the while making it plain to one and all that he is slime personified. Clever indeed.

Movie #1517 (#298 this year): Executive Koala(2005, Minoru Kawasaki)

Have I mentioned that the Japanese are totally nutso? There ain't no place else where they could have possibly made a movie like this.
Mr Tamura is a mid-level executive in a pickle company. He's also a koala. He's also an ax-murderer. Lots of blood and gore in this one as the executive koala takes his ax to almost every cast member. There's also some song and dance numbers. And a bit of romance. Martial arts? Sure!
In short, it's just totally stoooooooooopid.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day #21,545

Walk km 6274-6276: running errands
Walk km 6276-6279: Robson/Broughton/Nelson/Denman
Walk km 6279-6281: to St Paul's hospital

Christmas lights
aprox km 6280 St Paul's hospital

Movie #1515 (#296 this year): Himitsu No Hanazono (1997, Shinobu Yaguchi)

As I get closer that that 300 movie mark, I'm looking for lightweight entertainment to make those last few movies easier to take.
This was perfect. A comedy about a bank teller who tries to track down a suitcase full of stolen money. Naomi Nishida is perky and cute as the bank teller. Everything is shot in bright colours with a easy to follow plot. Perfect.

Movie #1516 (#297 this year): Twist (1992, Ron Mann)

Not really as advertised. This film is a documentary about the dance crazes of the early 60s. It just happens that the twist was the most popular. About what you'd expect: a lot of archive footage with a few old timers dropping by to say a word or two.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day #21,544

Walk km 6267-6274: 19th/Maple/Cedar/Maple/30th/Maple/Pine/41st/Maple/West Blvd/53rd/Beechwood/57th

road between hedges
aprox km 6269 Maple Crescent

Movie #1511 (#295 this year): Day Of The Wacko (2002, Marek Toterski)

Quite an achievement: this movie is both funny and depressing at the same time. It's a day-in-the-life of a man who has given up on life. He thinks everything is crap and everyone is an enemy. This is done with a long string of small skits all of which are both funny and depressing. Each little skit is fine by itself but the movie just kinda runs out of steam because the skits don't add up to anything.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day #21,543

Walk km 6222-6227: Vine/41st/Balsam/39th/Vine/Paton/Edgar/Haggart/McMullen/Townley/McMullen/Valley/King Edward/Arbutus

one tree has found a bit of sunlight
aprox km 6226 Arbutus Village park

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day #21,542

Walk km 6214-6217: running errands
Walk km 6217-6222: 32nd/Blenheim/16th/Carnavon/Broadway/McDonald

Movie #1509 (#293 this year): I Pugni In Tasca(1965, Marco Bellocchio)

Dysfunctional family. Sandro knocks off his mother and brother because they're dullards. Sandro is charming. His sister is beautiful. His other brother is sane. So?

Movie #1510 (#294 this year): Millhouse(1971, Emile De Antonio)
Documentary about Richard Nixon. Surprisingly not a scathing attack on him but just a bunch of archival footage that makes him look rather foolish and insincere.
Some of the footage is from his fake town hall meetings from the 1968 campaign that were staged by a young fellow named Roger Ailes: now head of Fox News.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day #21,540

Walk km 6205-6212: Market/Redwood/Mill/Sunshine/Kuenzli/Kietzke/walking path along the Truckee/Lake/Mill/River Rock/Ryland/Mill/Redwood/Market
Walk km 6212-6214: to grand Sierra and back

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Day #21,539

Walk km 6199-6203: to Denny's and return
Walk km 6203-6205: to Grand Sierra and return

Book #354 (#47 this year):
A Stir Of Echoes(1958, Richard Matheson)

Nope. Still no good. It's better than the two crime novels of his I read but nowhere near his "Somewhere In Time". I guess Matheson just improved with age and in 1958 he wasn't quite up to speed yet. This is the sort of plot that Stephen King could do much better.

Movie rewatch(#292 this year): North By Northwest(1959, Alfred Hitchcock)

While staying in this hotel with a 42" TV I couldn't resist watching this movie again on the big screen. Still a pleasure to watch and even better on the big screen.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day #21,538

Walk km 6190-6192: to Grand Sierra and return
Walk km 6192-6194: to Grand Sierra and return
Walk km 6194-6199: Market/Harvard/Princeton/Auburn/Duke/Radcliff/Princeton/Harvard/Vassar/Kietske/Market

Movie #1508 (#291 this year): A Drowning Man(2000, Naoki Icho)

A man finds his wife drowned in the bathtub. But next day she's alive again. This is his dream? Her dream? She's a zombie?
Unfortunately, all the characters in this movie are so dopey that you don't really care.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day #21,537

Walk km 6183-6188: Market/Harvard/Automotive/Kietzke/Steen/Harvard/Automotive/Kietzke/Mill/Redwood/Market
Walk km 6188-6190: to Grand Sierra and return

Movie #1506 (#289 this year): Odete(2005,Joao Pedro Rodrigues)

I'm getting very close to that 300 movie mark for the year. And the closer I get, the less interesting the movies become.
This one features a woman who is insane. She claims to be pregnant by a dead gay guy. Then she decides to just take over his life instead. Sounds good but it's merely OK.

Movie #1507 (#290 this year): Sweet Smell Of Success(1957,Alexander Mackendrick)

I guess I was wrong. I'm not getting tired of movies, I've just hit a string of stinkers. This one is a doosey.
Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis are slimeballs. Burt is at the top of his game but Tony is still trying to climb to the top. Early on, Tony's secretary comments that Tony is really a decent guy down deep. Well no, the only thing under the slime is more slime.
I know what you're saying, sounds like a Billy Wilder movie. Nope. You see, in this movie there are some good guys: the victims. In Billy Wilder movies everyone is a creep.
I especially liked the look of this one. Kudos to director Mackendrick and cinematographer James Wong Howe.
Ten more to go. I can only hope there's another one this good amongst them.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day #21,536

Walk km 6178-6181: to Sak'n'Save and return (Reno)
Walk km 6181-6183: to Grand Sierra and return (Reno)

Movie #1505 (#288 this year): I Fidanzati (1962,Ermanno Olmi)

Maybe I'm watching too many movies. IMDB gives this a 79/100 but I wasn't nearly as impressed. The look of this film is great but there is no plot. A man gets a promotion and has to relocate but his girlfriend will not move with him. He's lonely. His girlfriend is lonely. His father is lonely. Nice mood piece but I was expecting more.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Day #21,535

Walk km 6175-6178: Reno Airport to Keitzke @ Mills

propeller of a DeHavilland
Somewhere over Oregon

Movie #1504(#287 this year): Confessions Of A Nazi Spy(1939, Anatole Litvak)

Anti-Nazi propaganda film that tries to warn us about the danger to America from the German fascists. Unfortunately the story to back it up lacks any dramatic punch. Nice try but I doubt if too many were swayed.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Day #21,534

Walk km 6173-6175: running errands

Movie #1503 (#286 this year): The Creeping Flesh(1973, Freddie Francis)

It'a a mad scientist movie. It's a British mad scientist movie. It's a British mad scientist movie set during the 19th century.
Can you think of anything more boring? I didn't think so.
There was one bit I liked. There's this skeleton that when you add water the flesh grows back on the bone. So, one day it's left out in the rain (out in the countryside). Can you guess what happens? Of course.... besides brand new flesh to cover the bones, the skelton also acquires a full set of clothing to cover the flesh! Those Victorians!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Day #21,533

Walk km 6167-6169: running errands
Walk km 6169-6173: a couple of short walks

Movie #1501 (#284 this year): Pitfall(1962, Hiroshi Teshigahara)

Screenplay by Kobo Abe so you know you're in for surrealism. There are lots of dead people walking around commenting on the action. Dopplegangers cause strange plot twists.
But above all, it's an anti-capitalist fable. The evil murderer gets a witness to implicate a union leader as the murderer by offering money. The murderer later returns and murders the witness and retrieves his money. The rich are able to keep down the poor because they are all greedy and can be corrupted by their greed. In the final shot a young boy enters the candy shop of the newly murdered witness and robs her. There is no hope for the poor.

Movie #1502 (#285 this year): Seri & Harr(2008, Su-young Yang)

This movie is so obscure that it is not listed on IMDB. Not the title, the director or the two lead actresses. It's a poorly acted movie about illegal workers in Korea. The whole thing looks like an after school special teaching children not to hate. Their hearts are in the right place but the execution borders on the amateur.

Book #351 (#46 this year): Natural Causes(1983, Jonathan Valin)

Jonathan Valin at home

Have I read this one before? I thought that I'd pretty much read all of the Valins but I can't be sure. This one does not ring a bell. Once again detective Harry Stoner is on the case but he's moving out beyond his home base of Cincinnati. Not as good as I remember the other Valins but still a mighty fine example of PI fiction.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Day #21,532

Walk km 6153-6156: to the library
Walk km 6156-6167: with Meetup group from Science World to English Bay (and return)

Movie #1497 (#282 this year): Xiwang zai renjian (1949, Fu Shen)

This is one of the DVDs that I brought back from China. The first in this series of DVDs was so dark that I could hardly make out the picture so I kinda forgot about them. With my new monitor I figured I try another. This one has a much better picture.
The problem with this one is the subtitles. Obviously, the person who did the English subtitles did not know English. This is a dictionary translation only without any adjustment for grammar. And add to that lots and lots of misspellings.
That makes the viewing experience a totally different one from that of a Chinese speaker. The viewer's task must be to piece together the plot from the action on the screen along with key words from the jumbled subtitles. It's actually quite enjoyable. Not sure if the movie was any good or not though. It's the usual tale of the Chinese sacrificing everything for the common good (this time the bad guys are the Japanese).

Movie #1498 (#283 this year): Linda Linda Linda (2005, Nobuhiro Yamashita)

It's a story line as old as the hills. Group of amateurs try to put on a talent show. In this case, it's four high school girls who want to play a few songs at their high school talent show. The usual problems get thrown in their path and they must overcome all obstacles. In the final scenes, they put on their show and everyone thinks they're great and there are smiles all around. It's been done a million times before.
The highlight: there is a scene in the school where a DJ is playing records. If you look very closely at the wall behind him you can see it: an Edward Bear LP!
Another highlight: Aki Maeda!