It’s Three Tigers, Not Two Bulls

On our recent trip to Myrtle Beach, we ate at the Planet Hollywood our first night there. Apart from the fact that they were out of Key Lime Pie and bananas for the Bananas Foster Cheesecake, the meal was fine. Thomas and I walked around, looking at all the various movie props, but there was a gigantic battleship that was hanging from the ceiling that I could not figure out. I decided to ask the hostess if she knew. This is what transpired when I approached the hostess stand and asked her.

Me: “Hi. Um… what movie was that battleship from?”
Her: “Oh, that’s from a movie called ‘Toro, Toro.'”
Me: “What movie?”
Her: “‘Toro, Toro.'”

I then realized that she actually meant “Tora! Tora! Tora!” which is a WWII movie about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I was able to stifle my laugh, so I didn’t make her feel bad, but when I got back to the table, I had a good laugh with the family.

There are two reasons why this is funny. First, “Toro” is the Spanish word for “bull.” “Tora” is the Japanese word for “tiger,” which was used as a code word for “attack” when they bombed Pearl Harbor. Second, the way she said “Toro, Toro,” was funny. She said it with both authority and a very Southern accent that worked together to really tickle me, almost to the point of laughing in her presence, which would have been bad/mean.

Hollywood Release Windows Suck

A couple of weeks ago I extolled the virtues of my new Netflix Player. I’m still thrilled with it, but the other day I happened to be looking at my instant queue from a web browser, and I noticed several lines in the queue that looked like this

Netflix Instant Queue

Notice anything about that? Yeah, it’s the “Available Until Dec 31, 2008.” WTF? Out of 53 entries in my instant queue, 9 of them will no longer be available after January 1, 2009. That really, really sucks. According to this article and this one, the reason for this is something called “release windows.” These are time periods that the movie studios allow their movies and shows to appear in a given format. Basically, after a certain amount of time, the studios yank content from one medium, such as downloads, and make it available on another, such as broadcast TV. According to the articles, that’s what the studios think will rake in the most money. It seems to me that the best way to maximize profit for a movie or show is to maximize exposure. This means making it available in as many formats as consumers are willing to pay for, for as long as possible. This would give consumers the most flexibility in how they watch the content. And maybe, just maybe, if it were super easy to legally watch the content that people want to watch, piracy would decline. I’m just speculating on that one, of course.

I understand that businesses have to make money to stay in business, but I’m really not happy that 17% of my queue will evaporate on January 2.

Thanks, Hollywood.

I Am Legend Sucks

I just saw I Am Legend and I seriously want my money back. The only two things it shared with the novella were the title and the main character’s name. My friend Tim suggested they should have included a disclaimer in the credits saying “Any similarity to a story of the same name by Richard Matheson is purely coincidental.” I agree.

You can hear my 30-second review of the movie, recorded as I drove home, using the widget below.

“The Departed” Won Best Picture? What’s Up With That?

I got The Departed from NetFlix over the weekend. We started watching it Saturday afternoon, but turned it off after about 30 minutes of incredibly foul language and boring setup. After reading several glowing reviews yesterday, I decided to finish watching it. What a waste of time. I just don’t get what everyone thinks is so great about this movie.

If you want a really good mob film, go with The Godfather (of course) or Donnie Brasco.

Cars – Excellent Film

Thomas and I just got back from seeing Cars. What a great movie. I haven’t laughed so hard since… well.. since I saw Over the Hedge but that’s not important right now. Cars is great. There are times when you really can’t tell that it’s an animated film; it just looks so real. It’s funny and touching with a great story and stunning graphics. I give it 2 Fenders Up!

The Amazing Has Happened

The amazing has happened. It really has. I mean it. What am I talking about? I’ve seen a film, a remake, that I actually thought was better than the original. What movie am I talking about?? Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We went to see it because our son really wanted to, and I was curious what Tim Burton did with it. What he did is make a much mo’ better movie. While I do love the original, I think the new incarnation is a much better film. It’s funny and very Burton-esque, and it’s surprisingly not as “dark” as the original. I was in stitches through most of it.

This makes, I believe, only the second time I’ve found a remake better than the original. It doesn’t happen very often.

Go See “Robots.” Now.

We went to see Robots last night. What an excellent film. Robin Williams, who I haven’t really liked since Mrs. Doubtfire and Good Morning, Vietnam was absolutely brilliant! I really enjoyed his voicing of the robot called Fender. The movie is a non-stop laugh-fest; it’s funny and touching at times, though slightly scary for young kids at one point. There were a few lines and sight gags that were not really appropriate for a family film; they go over the heads of the kids and the adults get them, but I would prefer them not be there. Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is no profanity, which was nice to see.

Grab your family and head to the theater, today, to see this great movie.

Hey Hollywood! Come Up With Some New Ideas!

Is every single screenwriter in Hollywood completely out of ideas for new films? It would appear so. After the absurd remake of the classic Flight of the Phoenix, I now hear that Wolfgang Petersen is remaking the absolute classic The Poseidon Adventure. Noooooooo!!! The original was great. A true classic. It doesn’t need to be remade.

In fact, I am against remakes in general. I have never seen a remake of a film that I liked, or thought was better than the original, or even thought was somehow worth making. The sole exception to this is when Hitchcock took his 1934 The Man Who Knew Too Much and remade it in 1956 with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day. That was a great remake, and I applaud Hitchcock for doing it. Every other remake I’ve seen, like Planet of the Apes, Psycho and The Manchurian Candidate all sucked compared to the original.

Schultze Gets the Blues

I just saw the preview for a new foreign film called Schultze Gets the Blues, and it looks great. It’s about a German salt mine worker who is out of work when the mine closes. With nothing better to do, he just sits around the house practicing his accordion. One day he hears some Zydeco music on the radio and is hooked. He ends up moving to Louisiana to learn to play Zydeco and, I would guess, lives happily ever after. IMDB has a rating of 7.4 stars out of 10, and Rotten Tomatoes has an 80% freshness rating. I can’t wait to see it. It opens in America on February 18.