An Inane Conversation

What Kind of Cinephile Are You? Let Pretentious-O-Meter Gauge Your Taste in  Films

Some of us never outgrow college. I saw a lot of movies in college that I’d walk a mile out of my way to avoid seeing again.

For some of us, being pretentious starts in high school. Here are three high-school boys in the 1960s (I’m one of them) trying to decide what movie to go to. The other two are Flopsy and Mopsy.

Mopsy and I want to see The Viscount, an unmemorable spy thriller starring Kerwin Matthews. It had the advantage of playing in a theater only a few blocks away. Flopsy doesn’t want to see The Viscount. His elder brother, Dropsy, is a sophomore in college and has taught Flopsy to aspire to higher things.

“What’s wrong with The Viscount?” Mopsy asks.

The Viscount is only a movie,” Flopsy pontificates. “Whereas Wild Strawberries, for instance, is a film!”

“Huh?” says I. “When did you see Wild Strawberries?”

Homina-homina. “Well, no, I haven’t seen it!” It turns out his brother told him it was a great Film. He might have seen it. But Flopsy got his share of raspberries over his assertion. I mean, for all we knew, The Viscount might’ve been King Lear on steroids (it wasn’t). I did see Wild Strawberries a few years later, when I was in college. For all its mediocrity, The Viscount was better. At least it didn’t put anyone to sleep.

Oy, the stuff I saw in college! Imagine still wanting to see art films, at my age. All those Ingmar Bergman movies–where do I hide?

And a note just handed me by the computer: Warning! Warning! Your anti-virus is down!

Bergman’s revenge…

Well, So Much for That

Boy Arrested Over Spilled Milk

We were up for watching The Duchess of Malfi this afternoon; but all I can say is, we tried.

The first video we tried featured terrible acoustics and background music that drowned out the actors–not that we could have understood them, in that echo chamber.

The second video looked great, super sets, nice, clear sound, and so we settled in to enjoy it. They had it cut up into 15-minute clips. We were prepared to tolerate that. But one of the clips was a long commercial narrated by someone who had at best only a nodding acquaintance with English; and then the next clip was from an entirely different production than the one we’d been watching, in black and white instead of color, with different actors whose faces kept dissolving into pixels as they spoke. By the time we got back to where we wanted to be, it became apparent that parts of the play were simply missing.

We’ll never get that hour back. Patty was highly cheesed off. I was perplexed.

Thing is, we saw just enough of the play to want to see it all. The scene wherein the duchess proposes marriage to a lowly clerk, because she and he are both trapped in a deadly dangerous political environment, was very gripping. But whoever posted this production did his utmost to destroy its continuity.

*Sigh* I was wondering why so many Jacobean playwrights set their stories in Renaissance Italy. “Here’s where all these spectacular crimes and cruelties take place! It’s those Mediterranean johnnies!” Was that a way of avoiding royal displeasure at home in England? Was it meant to suggest that the same sort of crimes occur here at home, because people are nasty sinners wherever you go?

I do wish we could have watched this play!

Oh! Almost forgot: we also encountered a production in modern dress with a lot of miming and handstands (!?) and no dialogue. For some reason I’d blotted it from my mind…

Let’s See If We Can Stand This Play

The Real Duchess of Amalfi | The Duchess of Malfi | Royal Shakespeare  Company

We’re going to take a break from nooze today and watch The Duchess of Malfi, first staged in either 1613 or 1614, a loosely-based historical drama by John Webster. Neither Patty nor I have ever seen it before. It was supposed to be covered in a course I took in Jacobean drama back in college, but the course was superficial and we never actually read the play. It has a great reputation, and is mentioned in works by Agatha Christie, P.D. James, Ngaio Marsh, and other great English mystery writers.

This play has a reputation for wallowing in gore, treachery, and shockingly bad behavior on the part of Renaissance Italian nobility. When they went bad, they went all the way. Our reader, Phoebe, who is an expert in such things, has praised it. So it’ll be her fault if we get too grossed out to watch the whole thing. But it might be good to be reminded that the human race survived the Renaissance… somehow.

Sometimes it strikes me as miraculous that we’re still here in spite of all our sins. We can chalk that up to God’s grace. Without it, we wouldn’t last two weeks. Without it, how could we ever hope for something better?

Amazon’s New Tolkien Epic (Is This Trip Necessary?)

I’m one of many people who love J.R.R. Tolkien’s milestone fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. I love it so much, I didn’t watch the movies. And I don’t think I’m going to watch this “billion-dollar saga” produced for streaming on Amazon Prime, a la Game of Thrones.

Why not? Well, of course they’re going to tweak this classic to make it more–I dunno: can we say “woke”? More in line with the conventions and shabby “values” of a cultural era which Tolkien himself surely would have despised. And so, for instance, Galadriel–presented in the original as wise, thoughtful, and powerful–is now decked out with a sword and armor… and I don’t want to be there when she resorts to jumpin’, spinnin’ kicks to wipe up the floor with the bad guys.

So this new TV series will be called The Rings of Power, taking the story back several thousand years (based on The Silmarillion, published posthumously and not actually written by Tolkien–whose son, Christopher, cobbled it together from his father’s vast store of notes; and also the “Appendices” attached to Lord of the Rings), with new characters added, that no one ever asked for.

They just have to screw around with it, don’t they? Maybe they can squeeze some transgender into it. I wouldn’t put it past them.

Warning to authors who don’t want their work vandalized–don’t die! Your copyright runs out and then they try to make more money off your name. And they really don’t care if they turn your vision into balderdash.



Totally Daft Movie! ‘The In-Laws’

It's Over the Ocean to Scranton, Pennsylvania: An Appreciation of “The In- Laws” | TV/Streaming | Roger Ebert

Alan Arkin (left) is a suburban dentist, Peter Falk (right) is a CIA agent, and The In-Laws (1979) is one of the zaniest, wackiest, funniest movies that I’ve ever seen.

This was the movie we wound up watching yesterday, when we needed a break. As one who promotes Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, I can only stand in awe of Andrew Bergman’s out-to-lunch screenplay. In this film he has truly gone… where? But holy moly, is it funny! It goes from squirmingly tacky, to downright nightmarish, and from thence to Loopy-land–what a ride!

The plot? Oh, who cares! The dentist’s daughter is going to marry the spy’s son: this turns loose a mini-armageddon. Please don’t ask me to describe it. I can’t.

But if you like truly crackpot comedy, this flick’s for you.

Do We Understand that Movies Aren’t Real?

I have mastered the camouflage of the alien “Predator.” | Eric Robert  Nolan, Author

You can listen all day, every day, to tales of The Paranormal and never run out of them.

Here’s a little something I’ve noticed, though.

A new kind of monster, UFO, weird experience, whatever, makes it all around the world in video; and the next thing you know, people all around the world are claiming to have seen it. In real life. Not in a movie.

Remember The Predator (1987)? The monster had special camouflage which made it practically invisible. It was a very successful movie, with sequels, comic books, action figures, etc. Before long, the whole world knew what “the Predator” was and what it looked like–if you could see it at all.

Now, 30 years later, you can’t throw a brick among The Paranormal without hitting someone who’s sure he’s seen a Predator.

But it doesn’t stop there. There must be thousands of people out there, tens of thousands who’ve seen skinwalkers, interdimensional “portals” opening, Bigfoot, Shadow People…

If it’s been in the movies, people believe in it. And I don’t think they can help it. Our culture includes a deep reservoir of superstition–and movies look real! Who am I to say none of these people has seen any of those things he says he’s seen? Can we say, “Just because you see it doesn’t mean it’s there”?

I did once hear some mameluke on talk radio assert that The Movies, not America, were “his country.”

Of course he sees Bigfoot.

The Best Christmas Movie Ever

A Christmas Carol (1951) Movie Review

We watched this yesterday–Scrooge, the 1951 retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, starring Alistair Sim. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this. Dozens? At least forty, given that Patty and I watch it every Christmas. But it won’t matter if we see it forty times more: it has never failed to melt my heart, and never will.

Why? Because it’s about redemption! What could possibly be more important? And who doesn’t need it?

By the time we were halfway through the story yesterday, I was shaking my head: this was a man who had seriously made a hog’s ass of his life. He’d started out with real disadvantages–his mother died, his father never loved him–which he parleyed into enduring character flaws. If ever a man was bound for Hell, it was he.

And by the power of Jesus Christ, acting through Christmas… he’s saved.

Think about that. Saved! Think of the bad things that you’ve said and done in your life. Truly awful, isn’t it? Oh, what was I thinking!

But God’s sovereign grace, in Jesus Christ, has wiped them all away. They won’t count against us. They won’t even be mentioned.

That’s what this story is about. That’s why it never gets old.

If you haven’t seen it, or been a long time without it–well, it’s easy enough to find on line. Find an hour and a half to give to it. You’ll be abundantly repaid.

New ‘Matrix’ Movie Seeks to Reclaim Catch-Phrase

Matrix Movie Wallpapers - Top Free Matrix Movie Backgrounds -  WallpaperAccess

I’ve never bothered seeing any of those Matrix movies with their tiresome message of “the world you live in is just a fantasy constructed by the all-powerful Matrix!” Like, if that’s the best they can do, fantasy-wise, they should go back to selling linoleum.

Matrix movies gave birth to the catch-phrase, “red pill.” In the movies, if someone takes a red pill, he awakens from the fantasy and sees things as they really are. In recent years, conservatives have used the term to describe someone coming to his senses after being bamboozled and hypnotized by the Left.

Well, there’s yet another Matrix movie coming out (the first was in 1999), and the writers say this time they’re gonna “reclaim” that “red pill” thing that boo-hiss right-wingers kidnapped and blah-blah-blah (

‘Cause, see, “woke” means really woke! Your eyes pop open, your brain kicks into gear, and suddenly you are totally hip to Critical Race Theory, Climate Change, Open Borders, Build Back Better, Equity & Inclusion–excuse me, I’m going to be sick.

I hate conspiracy theories featuring all-powerful Bad Guys who can’t keep their deep, dark secrets from Mr. Pajamas on the Internet. And this whole business of “very special people, totally tuned-in, are the only ones who know The Truth”–it’s just warmed-over gnosticism that was already growing mold a thousand years ago. Fap! to that.

“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.” –Psalm 2:4

‘West Side Story’ Remake Goes Woke, Goes Broke

New West Side Story Images Take to the Streets

Can this really be as awful as it looks?

When Steven Spielberg is off his game, he’s way, way off (think Twister). This is because his gifts as a film-maker are sometimes overwhelmed by his being a white liberal fat-head who thinks he has to lead Minorities across the street.

So of course in his just-released remake of West Side Story, Spielberg didn’t put in any subtitles for those scenes in which the characters speak Spanish. But don’t worry–he had a genuine stupid reason for it.

Subtitles, he explained to us plebs, are “disrespectful” to Minorities, who at all times have to be handled with kid gloves, they’re so fragile. Oh! And if he’d used subtitles, “It would make English the dominant language.” Aren’t you glad he’s made that clear?.

So far people are staying away from this movie in droves, and white liberal critics are scrambling for excuses: it’s ’cause o’ COVID, it’s ’cause ‘o Christmas shopping, blah-blah.

Look. We already have a West Side Story movie, from back when it was a hit Broadway musical, and it’s considered a classic–so why spend $100 million to remake it? I’d walk a mile out of my way to avoid seeing a musical. But that’s just me.

Spielberg is at great pains to do some antiracist virtue signalling. Guess what, Stevo–the whole country’s sick and tired of it. Racism was dying, on its deathbed–until white liberals revived it. They don’t want it to die. They’ve got too much of their pathetic souls invested in it.

The sooner the whole woke thing comes crashing down in ruins, the better. Pray for that to happen soon.

Sanity Break: ‘Snow White’

Snow White' gravestone on show in German museum - BBC News

Would you believe it? Up until yesterday afternoon, I had never seen Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Released by Walt Disney’s studio in 1937, it’s still considered by many as the greatest animated feature-length cartoon of all time. I wouldn’t dare to disagree!

Really, I just could not get over the quality of the animation. It was so far in advance of much later animation, there’s just no comparison. Disney did it better than anyone. Okay, I haven’t watched any modern cartoon movies. The clips don’t entice me. But if the animation in Snow White was any more realistic than it is, you’d be wondering how all those little people got into your TV set.

The story is a fairy tale. It does have some dark moments: the evil Queen plots to have Snow White buried alive. Why? Because she, the Queen, wants to be “the fairest of them all.” Killing people, or wishing them dead, just because they’re better than you in one way or another, is socialism. It’s also Envy, one of the seven deadly sins.

How great was Snow White’s impact on our culture? Consider: I’d never seen the movie until now; but I knew the story, I could name all the seven dwarfs, and I could sing or at least whistle all the major songs. Who didn’t know Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to work we go?

Pure escape. Well, that’s what Disney did best. Not like now. Today’s Disney Studios is like someone who tunnels into a prison camp.

I am glad I saw Snow White. It was worth the long wait.