Thursday, January 20, 2011

Long Way Down

Ever since seeing The Motorcycle Diaries, I have thought a cross continent trip would be fun. This documentary cements that thought for me. Ewan McGregor and his buddy take a motorcycle trip from Ireland to Capetown and Long Way Down is a 12-hour or so documentary of their trip. Besides convincing me that such a trip would be fabulous, I am also now convinced that I could never do it. This isn't just two guys and two motorcycles. It is two guys, two motorcycles, 6 more guys, another motorcycle, 2 support vehicles, three months on the road and corporate sponsors. So maybe I will keep the dream alive, but just scale it back a bit. As far as this series goes, don't give up at the first episode (which is pretty boring). You could even probably skip the first couple hours as they prepare and travel through England and Europe. The real fun starts in Africa and fortunately, the route does not include a lot of paved roads. We get to see travel where tourists don't usually go. As far as travel shows go, this one is a lot of fun.
4 stars (out of 5)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Poppy is a generally positive and happy girl. She encounters all kinds of strange things and yet never seems to be nervous or frightened. Her personality just doesn't allow it. She decides to take driving lessons and her instructor is a pretty tight laced fellow. Driving lessons are very serious and not to be take lightly. The fact that Poppy is so cavalier about driving and that Scott is so uptight about teaching driving leads to a natural ongoing tension. This is a decent slice of life film where the tension is not so great as to make it serious. Unfortunately, the fact that it never really gets serious makes it also largely forgettable.
3 stars (out of 5)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Maltese Falcon

A definite classic film noir. Bogart plays independent detective Sam Spade who stumbles onto a who-done-it and who-has-it mystery. A golden statue of a falcon believed to be covered in an ugly ceramic covering. This ancient artifact is obviously valuable and Spade gets involved with a woman who has it, or stole it, or knows who did, or who might. Murder and intrigue abound. Bogart is, of course, the smartest one on screen and seems to just be playing with everyone, always one step ahead. I am sure that it is a sign of the times, but I don't really see what is so great about his acting. He is a grizzled old guy with a really over-the-top method of acting. Any emotion that he needs to convey is super explicit on his face, as if the director said "Ok, now we will hold the camera on your face so you can show anger for a couple of seconds". It doesn't seem natural at all. Like I said, I am probably just not in touch with what good acting was back then. But whatever it was, it doesn't really hold up.
2 stars (out of 5)