Self Wright

Tag: movies

Watching the Hobbit

I recently finished (over a few months) reading through the illustrated version of The Hobbit with my daughter.

This week the whole family watched the 1977 animated version of the Hobbit, and we loved it.

My “possibly unpopular opinion” here is that it is better than the new remakes.

With its 78 minute length (compared with the several hours run time of the three Peter Jackson movies), the story is crisp.

The animation too, is “old school”; pre-dating any CGI, every frame is hand-colored, and there is a very different feel to it.

Additionally, the custom song that serves as the theme of the movie is just … wonderful.

Its lyrics are inspiring.

The man who’s a dreamer and never takes leave

Who thinks of a world that is just make-believe

Will never know passion, will never know pain.

Who sits by the window will one day see rain.

P.S. I also found this Original Soundtrack (which is really the entire audio track of the movie!) with the video featuring an illustrated book — Youtube is a goldmine for rare stuff like this.

Watching Adam Curtis

A poem that shares a title with a docu-series by Adam Curtis from 2011

The first time I watched an Adam Curtis documentary was “Century of the self” about a decade ago. After that, I have, on-and-off, tried to watch everything by him that I could get my hand on.

Not all of it felt equally good, but the good ones were very rewarding. No one else, to my knowledge, comes close to tackling these themes, hard-to-grasp and spread out over decades and involving so many threads of narrative as they are.

For the first time I looked up his filmography and found out that — I found this amazing — he has been making “this sort of thing” since before I was born (!)

Also, I realized I’d watched his work in a very haphazard, non-chronological order, jumping across decades.

I just watched the first 30min of the first episode of his latest creation after a gap of many years (I can’t get you outta my head), and it feels like one of his better ones.

I tend to watch everything slowly these days, so I imagine it will take me a while to get through it (at over eight hours), and perhaps I will mention whether or not it lived up to expectations when I am done.

But in the meantime, I can recommend these favorites of mine (I have been able to find everything on Youtube):

  • The century of the Self (2002)
  • All watched over by machines of loving grace (2011)
  • The Trap: what happened to our dream of freedom (2007)
  • Pandora’s Box (1992)

Enjoy.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Trials

Came upon this scene recently — well, no, I didn’t just come upon it, that would be creepy even by Youtube’s standards1 — I was suddenly reminded of the movie at night, and then (as often happens? insert sheepish grin) I wanted to watch this particular scene and then, thanks to Youtube (yes, it is possible to love it and hate it, why not?), found the precise 5-minute sequence I wanted.

Given that this movie is (checks Imdb) just over three decades old (the last of the trilogy, I would like to pretend the fourth one never got made), I don’t expect a lot of people to have seen it, let alone liked it, but for those who did, it captures a certain feeling2

Here is the next scene, in case you … like this sort of thing.

At least I didn’t see an ad3 at the beginning of these, which is good.


  1. hey, it’s the algorithms↩︎
  2. Yes, the “traps” are … contrived, but … if you had been watching the movie and made it all the way here, there is a certain atmosphere ↩︎
  3. btw I don’t think there’s a straightforward way out for this, either muck with the url, pay Google or pay for a premium extension ↩︎

My favorite year in movies- 2006

There are a bunch of movies I’ve liked, over the years, in different genres, from different times. But there is an unusually large cluster of them around a single year, 2006 (about fourteen years ago now).

The Fountain

Trailer

Among Darren Aronofsky’s movies (I still haven’t seen Black Swan (trailer), but I remember the revelatory feeling of watching Pi (trailer) a long time ago), I like this one the most (perhaps The Wrestler (trailer) would be a close second).

The trailer isn’t as bad, but (with the explicit dates and sections) it gives an overly structured view of what is (or feels like) a layered, mixed up, overlapping, interwoven something.

I’m pretty sure I saw a poor-quality, poor-audio version all those years ago, but I’d recommend watching it at night with good headphones, alone1.

The Prestige

Trailer

The trailer for this movie was terrible; it makes the movie sound very gimmicky, focussed on merely some inter-personal drama between magicians (why should anyone care about that?) And yet, of the movies in this list, it is my favorite, and the one I have re-watched the most.

It is not at all, in my opinion, about the particular details in the story (though Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and Michael Caine give a magical performance), but something more. Of Christopher Nolan’s movies, I like this more than Inception (trailer) — if the latter is “a movie like a dream”, this one is “a movie like a magic trick”.

Fun fact: the novel it is based on won the World Fantasy Award2.

It seems as though Borden (Bale) and Angier (Jackman) embody two different paths. I suppose part of the reason I like this movie is that I identified with one of them.

Kingdom of Heaven

Trailer

This one is technically from 2005, but I watched it a few months late, so it gets to be in this bucket.

It was one of the first Blu-ray movies I watched3 on a then-new-and-exciting 1080p 50” TV, and it felt tailor-made for a giant screen.

Gorgeous visuals, a sense of history (that moment when Sibylla watching4 from the castle wall whispers, “Salah ad-Din!”), and a great soundtrack (I like all the instrumental pieces, but especially the song5 at the end.

The Illusionist

Trailer

I think I like this for its “period feel” (Vienna, pre-WW1-ish) and high production quality more than the story itself. Also, I had first seen Paul Giamatti in The Lady in the Water earlier that year, which was a disappointment, and he was excellent in this.

(BTW if I had to drop a movie from this list, though, it’d be this one; not because it’s lacking anything, but because I like the others more)

Little Miss Sunshine

Trailer

One of my all-time favorites, both for the movie and the soundtrack, I’ve tried to find “more like this” — as in literally trying to Google for “movies like Little Miss Sunshine” — but failed to find anything. It is a one-of-a-kind, sublime experience. It feels fresh every time I watch it.

This has the most accurate trailer of this list, in the sense that it conveys exactly what the movie is all about 🙂

Also, the first time I saw Paul Dano (my favorite: Being Flynn (trailer)) anywhere.

A Scanner Darkly

Trailer

(I had missed this previously, updating this post now)

The movie is fifteen years ago, today, and the book it’s based on was published about forty-five years ago, but the themes of paranoid self-surveillance feel newly relevant.

That, and the style of the movie is quite unforgettable.

Counterpoint

In those days I used to track movie reviews actively, and also watch movies immediately after release. These days, a year or more frequently elapses between release and viewing, and it’s very common for me to never watch and also never intend to watch the popular or critically acclaimed movies (or, tv shows) for a year.

It’s quite possible, then, that the reason these movies still appeal to me is simply because I was more engaged with movies at that time.

Still, it is my subjective list, and I do end up re-watching these, and re-listening to their soundtracks, so at the very least, I’m sure they are not bad movies.


  1. or not. I don’t actually know if it makes a difference; I think it does require some concentration ↩︎
  2. 1996 winners of science fiction and fantasy awards (scroll down to ”WFA”) ↩︎
  3. Rented from Blockbuster, back when they (a) were around, and (b) had the same rental rate for DVDs and Blu-Rays 🙂 ↩︎
  4. the meeting between Baldwin IV and Saladin ↩︎
  5. Light of Life” by Natacha Atlas; here is a version set to a montage of scenes from the movie ↩︎

Road to awe

Something I first came across about a decade ago, and then again every few years: this re-arrangement of scenes from The Fountain, set to (and titled after) one of the tracks from its soundtrack.

So much beauty in the world

Realized it’s been two decades since I first saw this scene.

My daughter’s first horror movie :-|

We recently finished all three seasons of the “new” 2002-2006 Scooby Doo series1, and while browsing Netflix, we came across a full-length Scooby Doo movie.

Great. In the spirit of watching a “family movie” this weekend (previously: Kung Fu Panda, Kung Fu Panda: 2, My Little Pony), we ended up watching it 2 and … damn, it was a bit unexpected.

Every regular episode follows the same plot line: some random ghost/monster is introduced, the gang investigates, a musical chase scene results, an unmasking results, the mystery is solved.

The premise of the monsters not being “real” is … ignored by this movie. And instead of a comedy, it’s actually … a comic horror movie.

In that (spoiler alert) the zombies and … er, ”cat creatures ?” … are real. Yes, a twist on the ol’ Scooby-Doo formula!

Must’ve been fun to write, and I thought it was a genuinely fun movie in that way … except that I should’ve cursorily skimmed the plot overview on Wikipedia 3, and … let my daughter know it was gonna be a bit on the scary side.

Three movies for 2015

Spectre

I like the new turn Bond movies have taken with Skyfall, and I hope this doesn’t return to the pre-Casino Royale days.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ashLaclKCik&w=600]

Blade Runner (final cut)

Seen the original, seen the director’s cut, and I hear this version is worth watching.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFGDQotoUdg&w=600]

Terminator: Genisys

Because Arnold? The last two were terrible, IMHO, this can’t possibly be worse.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNU_jrPxs-0&w=600]

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