WALL·E

[Amazon Link] [5.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

As I type WALL·E is number 9 on IMDB top 250 movies of all time.

Hm, maybe.

Unless you've been living under the proverbial rock, you know the story: the last working robot on earth gets a sleek, shiny visitor from outer space.

It's indescribably wonderful. Just go see it. What follows is trivia.

Some ill-tempered conservatives are disrespecting the movie for its alleged eco-freak propagandizing. This is misguided. See Lileks. (And note that at least one eco-freak propagandist is moaning about the movie not being strident and alarmist enough. Can't win, Pixar.)

And, for a good time, also check out the BuyNLarge website.

Sigourney Weaver does the voice of the "Ship's Computer". Is she in danger of getting typecast? No matter. NASA should immediately hire her, and wire her voice into all future mission software. If I'm going to hear a self-destruct countdown, I want to hear it from Sigourney.

There's one plot hole, I think: why would a robot programmed to look for life on earth be so consarn quick with her blaster?


Last Modified 2012-10-12 6:13 AM EST

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

[Amazon Link] [3.5
stars] [IMDb Link] True confession: in my misspent youth, I did a considerable amount of (literal) misspending in the video arcade. I was never very good. This documentary is about the people who were very good, and still are.

It's all about competitive video gaming, the effort to set new scoring records on vintage arcade machines. Specifically, Donkey Kong. And this is one of those documentaries that shows you a hidden world of intrigue, rivalry, and dubious obsession of which you might have otherwise have been blissfully unaware. The filmmakers mostly just let the principals ramble on about their field, and the movie sometimes seems to be going for the cheap laugh at their expense.

On the other hand, the movie makes it clear that the competitors are operating at an undeniable pinnacle of achievement, requiring outstanding reflexes, coordination, and memory. Yes, it's an achievement set in an artificial universe of arbitrary rules programmed by obscure geniuses decades ago. Yet, can we not say the same thing of Major League Baseball? Hm.

A good portion of the movie was filmed right here in New Hampshire, at Funspot at Weirs Beach. (The largest arcade in the world.) Unfortunately, you only get the merest glimpse of outdoors; it might as well have been in Nutley, NJ.

Irony: One of the places I used to play was the long-gone Funspot in Dover, NH. I returned this DVD to the Blockbuster store which stands in the very location Funspot used to occupy! No, wait, that's not irony, that's just a very strained coincidence. Never mind.


Last Modified 2012-10-12 6:12 AM EST

Reservation Road

[Amazon Link] [3.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

As Lincoln said: People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.

It's the story of two fathers, one of whom kills the other's son in a hit-and-run accident. One has his life gradually eaten away by guilt, the other one by an obsession with vengeance. Eventually things get resolved, end of movie.

Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo play the dads, Jennifer Connelly and Mira Sorvino play the moms. The movie was written and directed by Terry George, whose previous work was Hotel Rwanda. So there's no shortage of talent here, it's a very serious movie. It's just not very interesting. Maybe it needed more Jennifer Connelly. Maybe more gunplay. Maybe the whole thing should have taken place on a spaceship.


Last Modified 2012-10-12 6:11 AM EST