In 2001, director Francis Ford Coppola and editor Walter Murch released an extended version of Apocalypse Now called Apocalypse Now Redux. The new version adds an additional 49 minutes to an already pretty long movie, bumping the runtime all the way to 202 minutes. I'm not ashamed to say it took me two sittings to make it through.
I didn't actually intend to get the Redux version and I still haven't seen the original cut. Perhaps someday I'll get it and compare the two, but for now, on to the bullets!
“Good does not always triumph… Every man has got a breaking point. You and I have one. Walter Kurtz has reached his.” –Lieutenant General Corman
The film's most iconic scene is the helicopter and napalm raid led by Robert Duvall's Leuitenant Colonel Kilgore. The “Ride of the Valkyries” soundtrack, the surfing in the midst of heavy combat, the annoucements of “We are here to help you!” as the village burns around them. It all neatly illustrates the absurdity of war and this war in particular.
“You don't get a chance to know what the fuck you are in some factory in Ohio.” –Benjamin L. Willard
Kurtz's monologue at the end of the film is another one of those iconic moments (like the beach raid) that has become such a part of popular culture that you have probably seen it even if you haven't seen it.
The cinematography is excellent throughtout the film as you would expect (Vittorio Storaro won his first Oscar for the cinematography in Apocalypse Now), but I found the scenes in Kurtz's base at the end particularly compelling.
Earlier today, I was reading a Reuters report on Apple's “disappointing” quarterly results and the article mentioned something called the “Analysts Revision Model”. This model, developed by a company called StarMine, scores companies on a scale of 1-100 based on “changes in analyst sentiment”. StarMine claims the ARM score is “highly predictive of relative price movement” which it may well be. But let's evaluate the scores currently assigned to Apple and it's closest rivals:
Research in Motion: 100/100
On Twitter this morning (1, 2, 3) I was fairly harsh on the value of the model itself, but after thinking about it more, I realized the real blame here falls on the “analysts” upon whose machinations this model is based. What the scores are basically telling us is how valuable the insights of those analysts into each of the companies listed is worth.
I haven't watched a lot of Woody Allen movies, so I didn't really know what to expect going into this film. Now, having watched it, I think the general idea of a “Woody Allen movie” is lots of one-liners and breaking of the fourth wall. Does that sound about right?
Anyway, on to my notes:
The whole sequence of waiting in line at the movie was pretty funny, although for a moment I felt like I was watching a Mel Brooks movie.
“Politicians are a notch under child molestors.” I'm just going to assume that the irony of this line is not lost on you and move along.
Christopher Walken sighting! (Annie's younger brother.)
I loved the subtle detail of the lobster picture they took early in the movie being framed on the wall later on.
Some of my favorite one-liners:
“We'll be in here quietly humping.”
“My grammy never gave gifts. She was too busy getting raped by Cossacks.”
About 2 weeks ago I participated in the Fall 2012 iteration of Portland Startup Weekend. The whole thing greatly exceeded my expectations and I was very happy that I participated.
If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Startup Weekend, the basic idea is that a bunch of programmers, designers, and business types get together for a weekend and have about 54 hours to try to create a new company. Ideas are pitched, teams are formed, products and business plans are developed, and finally you get judged by a panel of experts.
The week before, the Startup Weekend organizers held a “boot camp” on Saturday afternoon. This was an optional event to introduce people to the principals of Startup Weekend and give us some practice pitching our ideas in front of a group. During the “boot camp” I worked with a couple other guys to refine a pitch based around improving the accessibility of local produce.
During the intervening week, we worked on the pitch a little more and by Friday afternoon, after a couple hours of feverish memorization and practice, I was ready.
I believe there were about 50 pitches total on Friday night, and the top 12 would get the chance to form teams and work on their project during the weekend. Each participant was given three stickers they could use to vote for their favorite projects. You could use your stickers however you wanted, including using all three to vote for yourself. After a tense 30 minute voting period the results came in, our idea was in!
After forming our six person team on Friday after the pitches, everyone came in on Saturday morning ready to get down to business. About half our team were “hustlers” who ventured out into the rain to meet with potential customers at the Farmers' Market and worked their connections with local chefs and restauranteurs. Our goal for the weekend was to successfully connect a chef with a local farm that he hadn't worked with before and to build an initial prototype of the web app we would use to scale this process.
Sunday night we had five minutes to pitch our more formalized idea to the panel of judges. After having seen how well most of the other teams had been progressing over the weekend, I really had no idea what the results would be. But when the final verdict came in, our team was awarded third place! I was incredibly proud of how hard everyone worked. And not just on our team but it seemed like everyone that participated really put everything they had into the weekend and the result was a great experience for everyone.
Thanks to all the participants (especially my teammates!), organizers, sponsors, mentors, and judges who helped make the weekend such an excellent event.
Oooo, subtitles! I know a lot of people can't stand subtitled movies, but I really don't mind them. I definitely prefer subtitles to dubbing. Anyway, on to the notes!
Despite the fact that all the dialog in this film is in Italian, I feel like I could have followed the story just fine even without the subtitles. That seems like a good sign.
Bruno (Antonio's son) is like a tiny caricature of an Italian person. At least, of how Italian's are often represented in the media.
Italian garbage trucks in 1948 looked hilarious.
When Antonio and his friends go to the market looking for his bike, I thought it was funny that they were looking for things like the bell and the tires. How could they possibly identify those items conclusively?
Antonio's increasing desperation over the course of the film is readily apparent and helps drive the story forward.
Is it just me or does the theif look a bit like Leonardo DiCaprio? (It's probably just me. All my friends will tell you I'm terrible at the whole “he looks like a celebrity” thing.)
When trying to make his getaway at the end, Antonio really doesn't seem to be able to ride very fast. I blame post-war Italy's hipster-like obsession with fixed gear bicycles.
I've found that I greatly enjoy Hitchcock films but I usually fall asleep during Alfred Hitchcock Presents, go figure. Anyway, on to the notes:
Jimmy Stewart seems a little old for his role, but then again, so did Sean Connery in Entrapment.
The whole thing seemed to run a little long for a “modern” audience that is conditioned for 90-minute explosion-fests. I think I'm going to have to learn to recalibrate my attention span for a lot of the movies on the list.
Without giving away too much, the final scene left everyone a bit confused. The Wikipedia article linked below gives one interpretation but I feel like there is plenty of room for alternate hypotheses.
Potential Spoiler: Apparently there was an alternate (or additional) ending to the film which was created because censors worried about giving the audience the idea that Gavin Elster had actually gotten away with his crime. Hitchcock was able to convince at least the domestic censors that the scene was unnecessary and it was cut.
My dad and I try to go on a couple of backpacking trips each summer. For our first trip this year we decided to do a loop he has been wanting to do in the Wallowa mountains of northeastern Oregon. The Wallowas are known locally as the “Alps” of Oregon due to dramatic peaks that rise up suddenly from the surrounding farmland.
The loop we planned took us from the Wallowa Lake trailhead up to Aneroid Lake on the first day. The second day was a rather long segment from Aneroid Lake across Tenderfoot Pass and Polaris Pass and down to the West Fork of the Wallowa River. We hoped to find a place to make camp about when we got to the river but we ended up having to go a couple extra miles down to Six-Mile Meadow. The last day was a relatively easy six miles back out to the trailhead. I used Google Earth to make a little video illustrating the trip:
So Friday was easy, Sunday was easy, but Saturday…Saturday was a doozy.
Here's an elevation profile for the trip:
Friday was fairly uneventful. A steep but very scenic hike up to Aneroid Lake. Mosquitos were the only real unpleasantness we faced, and at the end of the day we were rewarded with a beautiful little campsite right beside the lake.
Saturday wouldn't have been so bad except that throughout the day we were caught in several passing thunderstorms. The first struck right as we crossed Tenderfoot Pass and included quite a bit of hail. After that, the weather cleared just long enough for us to cross Polaris Pass. We had hoped Polaris Pass would be snow-free by mid-July, but sadly this was not the case. We had to cross several snow fields, the most significant of which involved using our trowels to dig steps in a rather steep snow bank. Then using a rope to make sure nobody slipped and went sliding down a several hundred foot long embankment, puncuated by large pointy rocks at the bottom.
Just across the pass we had to descend some very steep and narrow switchbacks down an exposed slope. At this point we could see (and feel) the next thunderstorm rolling in on us and everyone was pretty anxious to get off that slope before it arrived.
We made it into the relative shelter of some small stands of trees just before the storm struck. Thankfully, all the lightning seemed to be of the inter-cloud variety rather than air-to-ground strikes. The storm passed pretty much directly over us so ground strikes would have been rather frightening.
Once we made it back down into the trees, the excitement and anxiety of summiting the passes steadily gave way to the exhaustion of hiking about 10 miles with about +1500 feet and -2500 feet of elevation change in a single day. Everyone was pretty relieved when we finally reached Six-Mile Meadow.
Compared to Saturday, Sunday was a breeze. We slept in a bit and then packed up our stuff and hiked the 6 miles of gentle downhill back to the car. Newton did refuse to carry his backpack on the last day, but he had been such a trooper on Saturday we didn't really mind carrying his stuff. Also, we saw a bear just across the river!
All in all, a successful trip. Even though Saturday was a bit more than we bargained for.
Not to be confused with more modern interpretations, The Battleship Potemkin is one of the earliest motion pictures to attempt to use editing techniques in order to enhance the narrative qualities of the film.
The propaganda message of this film intended to be clear and obvious to unsophisticated viewers in the 1920's, so to a modern audience it kind of feels like viewers are being constantly bludgeoned over the head with “Communism good! Tsar bad!”.
The scenes involving the Orthodox priest seem particularly contrived. It's almost like Eisenstein had a checklist of Communist “talking points” he needed to make sure he covered.
While I was planning to progress largely alphabetically through the movie list, I made an exception for Dr. Strangelove because it's one I've been wanting to watch for quite a while.
I don't intend for these movie posts to be anything resembling a “review”, but rather an assortment of thoughts that came to me while watching the film or shortly thereafter. So, in no particular order, here we go:
I was pleasantly surprised at how funny Dr. Strangelove still is. Sometimes older comedies don't hold up particularly well to society's constantly evolving sense of humor.
The irony in several scenes was not particularly subtle. When you have a raging gunbattle going on underneath a massive billboard that reads “Peace is our Profession”, you aren't exactly trying to sneak one past your audience.
Peter Sellers not only played three major characters (apparently the studio wanted him to play four) but he was brilliant in all of them. I hope he was handsomely compensated.
Speaking of Sellers' potential fourth role, I though Slim Pickens did an excellent job as the bomber pilot. Apparently he was not told the film was a comedy in order to get him to play his character as “straight” as possible.