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Wed, 02 Feb 2005 Paul's Current Viewing

So, we've started up a trial membership with Netflix. Actually, I think it is now a real membership. It has turned out to be a great service! So far, we have borrowed the following movies:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The third. Pretty decent, but not spectacular. I enjoyed the Night Bus. I expected the Dementors to be portrayed more originally. The time-twisting sequence was done much better in the second Back to the Future movie. I could not figure out why Harry and his friends were no longer wearing school uniforms. The kids are getting older; I'm not sure just how they are going to manage doing the next few movies. The movies are not being finished once a year, which means that the cast is aging more rapidly than in the storyline. Will they use a new cast? It was also sad to see Dumbledore replaced; the actor who played Dumbledore in the first two films died. Isaac rated it 4 out of 5, and that seems about right.

Uncovered: the War on Iraq I expected this to be a little better. It is a competently assembled documentary, and has a good selection of people interviewed, but it feels rushed and wasn't edited to a fine point. About 3/5.

Trekkies Grace has never seen the science fiction fandom subculture up close, so she was quite stunned by this. I've been to a convention, so it was not quite a shock, but rather touching. I want to see the next one.

The 1900 House This was great. The premise is that a London home is rennovated (dennovated?) back to 1900 standards: no electricity, only technology and decor available then; the women wear corsets, etc. They hire a "maid of all work." Life hasn't changed as much as we might think. Especially fascinating was how the family members dive into their roles, doing their own research and putting together puppet shows, little plays, and other activities. Amazing how much time is available when you stop watching TV.

Joni Mitchell: Shadows and Light I used to have this album. It's a great show; Jaco Pastorius, Pat Metheny, and Lyle Mays all perform with her, along with the Temptations. I was fascinated by the video clips that were assembled over some of the songs. Mitchell's voice is perfect.

A Prarie Home Companion (it doesn't say, but I think this is the 30th anniversary show from the Fitzgerald Theater). It turns out I've heard this one. It's worth seeing, at least once, just how charmingly funny-looking Garrison Keillor actually is, and how funny it is to see the mundane-looking sound effects guys doing their ridiculous stuff. Once you've seen it, though, you don't need to see it again; listening is better. I'd like to see the "Farewell" show that aired sometime in the mid-to-late 1980s again, though.

Life and Debt This is a great documentary about Jamaica, and why it has failed to thrive economically. The contrast between the Jamaica the tourists experience, and the Jamaica that the natives live in, is staggering. Particularly grim and disturbing is the "free zone," the garment district where neoliberal globalization plays out its "race to the bottom."

Big Top Pee-Wee This was a pick for Isaac. He thought it was very funny.

In order to prevent any allegations of unfairness in selection, and floods of kid's movies, I actually broke our membership into 3 separate queues; they allow that. This means that each of us -- myself, Grace, and Isaac -- can manage a separate queue. The DVDs are addressed to the individual person who chose them. Isaac's is age-restricted. It also slows down the process a bit - since Isaac has to return one and wait for the two-way mail before he has another one to watch. That's not a bad thing, actually; it keeps him from piling on the movies.

Purchases

I spent a little money on the backlog of DVDs that I wanted to buy last month. The bulk of them were the 3 Extended Edition Lord of the Rings movies. The new cuts are much more coherent, although there are some new bits that I dislike. The extras really are worth watching.

We also picked up the second season of Monk. It is off to an uneven start, but "Mr. Monk Goes to the Circus" was one of the best ever. It does, though, have a disturbing scene in which an elephant trainer is killed when the elephant steps on his head. It was rather horrifying. Isaac had to sleep in our room after watching that. It seemed a little manipulative, but the rest of the episode, especially the banter, which had a real ad-libbed feel in this episode, was superb.

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