Live Zeppelin at its best

So this is the best thing I’ve seen this week – a full Zeppelin concert from 1970, when they played at the Royal Albert Hall. The video and audio quality is pretty good (bearing in mind that this was shot 43 years ago…) , and it’s Zeppelin heading into (or some might argue right at) their peak. My ardor for them has cooled some since my high school days, but this is still a fantastic rock n roll band doing their thang. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed:

(I should mention that I found this over at , which is a treasure trove of curated music content).

How did Argo win best picture?

That’s a serious question. I’ve been sick for a week but recovered enough to have my wits about me for several days, during which I spent a lot of time laying around on the couch watching tv. One of the things I saw was Argo, which was a decent but unexceptional movie to my eye. I’ve only seen one other movie that was nominated this year, Zero Dark Thirty, so I can’t speak to the field, but Zero Dark Thirty was a superior movie by many orders of magnitude. I don’t get the Argo love. I thought the acting was a mixed (though mostly positive) bag, I found the tense ending contrived, and I found sections of it clumsy and unconvincing – the scene in the bazaar for example, or the scene where a “Hollywood location scout” saves the day by revealing he speaks Farsi and then manages to sell a group of suspicious guards that they really are making a sci fi movie in Iran during the revolution. What a bunch of nonsense.

Also, sorry Canada that 30-something years later we’ve decided to claim most of the credit. Thanks for helping us with this, I promise some of us will remember 😉

Walking Dead comic series coming to AMC

The Walking Dead
Image via Wikipedia

The Walking Dead is a comic book series that riffs on the original George R Romero premise of slow, shambling undead hordes destroying civilization, borrowing liberally from other mainstream zombie fiction as it goes. I’ve read 8 or 9 volumes of the series at this point and overall I like it. I was pretty happy to see that the network that gives us Mad Men (probably the best dramatic series, ever, imo) has greenlit production of a television series based on the Walking Dead comics. I have high hopes for this and can’t wait until it starts. More details including an interview with the writer can be found here on, and some details on the recent greenlighting of the series are here on

How to get your ratings out of Netflix

I love Netflix and use it constantly, both for physical discs and for streaming over the network to my ps3 and xbox360. Consequently I’ve rated a lot of movies on Netflix, 983 to be exact. Netflix isn’t perfect though, and one thing about them that really annoys me is that they still seem to think the walled garden approach to content on the web is the way to go. The simplest evidence of this is how they keep the ratings you apply to movies locked up inside their site – there’s no mechanism to get them out. I’ve started using tools like Fandango on my iphone, and I wanted those ratings available to me so I could start porting them over. Enter the super useful Firefox extension Greasemonkey, and this script by the user Maarten over on A few minutes after getting this running I had all my Netflix movie ratings in a text file on my local machine. Great, great stuff and super easy to get running.


Things to do when you’re sick

So I got food poisoning Saturday from a package of indian food. It’s a shame – one of my favorite dishes (spicy spinache with cottage cheese) and now just thinking of it makes me gag. Anyway I couldn’t eat for almost 2 days and was so weak I couldn’t really do anything, so I lay around watching tv, alternating between half paying attention and dozing feverishly. It pretty much sucked. I did watch a lot of movies though, including:

I am Legend – it stunk. It’s a remake of an old Vincent Price movie and based on a classic short story about a sort of Zombie apocalypse brought on by medical research. This version strays pretty far from the source. The first 1/3 is kind of interesting as it follows Will Smith around a post apocalyptic NYC, but it falls apart and has a very stupid ending. Avoid is my advice.

Flesh and Blood – early Paul Verhoeven. 1501, Europe, and a band of mercenaries falls under the sway of a lunatic priest, engaging in a series of larcenous adventures. Kind of fun, lots of cheesecake action, and a somewhat realistic depiction of the grimy middle ages, but really B-movie material.

Larry Flynt: The Right to be Left Alone. Pretty good documentary. This is the second documentary I’ve seen on him and I really admire the guy. He’s stood up for our first amendment freedoms in a way no one else I can think of has.

Stalingrad: Classic war film that no one seems to know about. Originally a German production, it’s been dubbed for the US market. Brutal, brutal depiction of the siege of Stalingrad from the point of view of the frontline german infantry. This is the third time I’ve watched it. One of the most effective anti-war films I can think of.

Felon: Low budget drama exposing the gritty realities of prison culture. Better than I expected. The beginning and end are a bit too pat, but the middle exposition of prison life in a maximum security facility was terrifying. Great acting from Val Kilmer.

I also managed to make my way through a good portion of the last season of The Shield believe it or not – it’s been a movie marathon. I have to say I’m not liking The Shield much either – way too contrived at this point the only likeable characters at this point are Dutch and Claudette.

Movie review quickie: Taxi to the dark side

Taxi to the Dark Side should infuriate you. It’s a competent documentary exploring exactly what kind of dysfunctional system we setup in Afghanistan and Iraq in the service of the ‘war on terror.’ Its main focus is the story of an Afghani taxi driver who gets picked up by American forces and ends up dead, exploring the people involved, the policies that lead to his death, and the aftereffects. It’s chilling, infuriating, and tragic. Anyone interested in evidence of just how incompetent and evil the Bush administration was should check out this film, then you should track down Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and kick them in the balls. I’m not kidding.

Movie review quickie: Outlander

I have wildly varied taste in movies. I’ll sit down to watch something like Cache, then turn to something like Outlander next, and find things to enjoy in each of them. Outlander is a competently executed modern B movie. A spaceship crashes on Medieval Norway, and the lone survivor is soon captured by a local viking village. It turns out his ship had been infiltrated by a vicious space dog/lizard from beyond, and the rest of the movie features viking on viking, viking on spaceman, and viking+spaceman on space dog/lizard action, pretty much nonstop. It’s a fun B movie ride and not much more. The story tries to build some tenderness and a sense of character with the spaceman’s backstory, but the acting’s not up to the task so it fell flat for me. The special effects are decent, better than I expected actually, and the action is generally well executed. Worth a look if you like competent but unexceptional Sci fi. Here’s the trailer to give you a sense of it:

Movie review quickie: Cache

I watched Cache with Susan last night. It’s a bit hard to categorize the film – on the one hand in many ways it’s a thriller, but it’s missing some of the requisite parts. For one thing, there’s almost no physical violence – almost everything that happens revolves around dramatic tensions between the major characters. The story follows a well off French family who begin recieving creepy videotapes, cards, and phone calls. The father begins to suspect who’s involved after one of the tapes shows his childhood home, and this leads to the film’s central conflict.

Truth be told I think the movie went straight over our heads. It wasn’t till afterwords as we sat discussing it that it occured to us that in part it’s an allegory for France’s relationship with Algeria, something that would have been much clearer to the film’s original French audience. We were also non-plussed by the ending, which comes abruptly and seemingly without any resolution of the central tensions. It strikes me now that this was really the point – there is no pat resolution to the issues that are explored, they’re ongoing and the resolution remains to be seen.

Anyway, I enjoyed the film – it’s well acted and has some decent cinematography, plus it’s really thought provoking. I doubt that many folks who read my site would enjoy it though – it’s also slow, deliberate, and very reliant on interpretation – this is a show, not tell, movie. There are shots that last for minutes where nothing, seemingly, happens, and I suspect that would drive most of my friends nuts. Still, I really enjoyed it and I think Susan did too.

Movie Review: Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Susan had to work on Sunday and I was tired from staying up all night playing Rock Band, so Sunday afternoon/evening I lounged around watching tv. One of the things I watched was Zack and Miri make a Porno. It was just ok. If you like Kevin Smith movies, you’ll probably enjoy it – scatological humor, discussion of subjects that are normally out of bounds, profanity laden rants, etc, all the Kevin Smith bits you would expect are here, including a scene I wish I had never seen (if you’ve seen the movie, you know which one I mean – it’s all about the cake frosting). It’s also got awkward acting, poorly directed scenes that don’t flow,and a ridiculous plot. All in all though there are a few laughs to be had and Elizabeth Banks is fun to watch.