Sunday, December 31, 2006

My 2007 Movie Resolution

Was browsing through Andrew Sarris's (editor) Interviews with Film Directors today and thinking that the interview with Antonioni would be more meaningful if I had recently seen Red Desert. That made me hit on an idea for my 2007 film project.

Sarris's compilation has 40 entries, from Antonioni to Orson Welles. I'll try to screen one film a week, whichever work is most prominently mentioned in the Interview and read that interview. Maybe even blog about it if appropriate.

I figure 40 is a nice number because if I miss a week from getting sick or something, it won't kill me, but it is enough to keep me going pretty regularly.

The first to entries are interviews with Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman. I couldn't find the Red Desert at either Netflix nor Amazon. There were some (pricey) tapes at Amazon, but I put a request in at cafedvd and am keeping an eye out on Ebay. The Bergman interview is from 1956, but it doesn't appear to focus on a particular film. Naked Night is mentioned, but that doesn't seem to be readily available either, so I moved Smiles of a Summer Night to the top of my Netflix queue, since it was the closest in proximity to the interview date that I could find.

The third entry is Robert Bresson and consists of an interview from Cannes about the Trial of Joan of Arc. Currently available through, but only for region zero. Will try to track down where and how I might be able to play that.

The fourth is Peter Brook, so I put Lord of the Flies on my Netflix and Blockbuster queues.

Well, I'm off to research region zero/PAL format.

Happy New Year to All.

Favorite Theatrical Film Releases from 2006

My friend Ron Reed over at A&F asked me for a year's best list, and I'm not sure I can come up with 10. I hated this year in film. I mean, really, really hated it. Of the 50 notable films listed in Entertainment Weekly's Year End "Critical Mass" column, I think I saw 12, and one (V for Vendetta) was actually a 2005 release, I think.

So yeah, 2006 is the year I officially went off the deep end, jumped the shark, whatever. Anyone who wants to dismiss my list out of hand because of my increasingly eclectic viewing habits is welcome to do so, though of all the films I haven't seen from the last year, I can only really, seriously imagine that three (The Queen, Pan's Labyrinth, The Death of Mr. Lazarezcu) would have a serious shot at making me like them enough to deem them worthy of some meaningless honorific such as my best of list. Without further ado, then, here's what I liked from the year that I hated, and here's hoping 2007 has some better mainstream, narrative films that are worthwhile:

1) Shut Up and Sing
2) The Pervert's Guide to Cinema
3) An Inconvenient Truth
4) When the Levees Broke
5) Climates
6) Forgiving Dr. Mengele
7) Manufactured Landscapes
8) Requiem
9) Lake of Fire
10) Miami Vice

Put 3-9 in a bag and shake it up and they could come out in a different order on any given day. They were all films I appreciated but which I'm not sure I could rouse myself to champion would anyone else care to take exception.

I can't make a case for Pervert's Guide being a great film, but it was over three hours (I think), and I enjoyed every minute of it, which ain't nothing.

Miami Vice is on there not because it's a great film but because it was a horrible year for studio releases, it's Michael Mann, and I suspect, like Heat it may grow on me in time. I certainly would rather see if again another three times rather than having to sit through the island sequence of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. I mean, really, you would have been happier if I had thrown in Who Killed the Electric Car?

Requiem fell a few notches the second time I saw it, but it is the sort of film that I'm still grappling with and could easily work its way back up in my estimation as easily as it could fall off such a list altogether.

The rerelease of Melville's Army of Shadows was also a favorite theatrical experience, but I always think of these sorts of lists as being reserved for new releases.

Note to Self: Practice More

One of these days I'm going to self publish one of those devotional books about the spiritual lessons learned through every day activities. You know, like "Everything I Needed to Know I Learned Playing Disc Golf."

Anyway, I know I should practice more. Sort of a protestant work ethic attached to all forms of recreation, but not just that. I enjoy just playing disc golf, but I enjoy being good at things, too. And being good requires an investment of time and energy into the disciplines that undergird the development of a skill.

That's a long way of saying, I threw a roller over 400 feet today. Yes, I threw four others, none of which went 85% of that distance, and it was on a field so open that my lack of accuracy wasn't an issue. I'm not consistent enough to throw a roller if I don't have to, and most often when I do, it goes off course.

But there's an untapped upside, clearly, that really should motivate me to work on making this a more viable part of my arsenal...

Assuming, you know, that getting better is a good thing.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Good Day

Today I...

had a seasonable December day that allowed me to play Disc Golf doubles at Buckhorn with my wife (and we shot a 54).

was captured by a cat for a morning nap on my lap.

received a DVD of Tarkovsky's Stalker in the mail as an early Christmas present.

had a home cooked meal of past and sausage seeped in Cranberry juice inspired by Rachel Ray's Iron Chef America episode.

had a nice Cianti with dinner.

played Boggle, and was soundly defeated. (Isn't the English prof supposed to beat the art prof at such games? Must have been the Cianti.)

was caputured by another cat for an evening nap while watching the Sopranos.

did a little bit of academic writing for a deadline that's not until February.

wrote a recommendation to graduate school for a worthy student.

Not a bad day, that.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Why is this film on Nobody's "Best of" List?

Just saw the first act of Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke.

I'm not saying it's a slam dunk, head and shoulders above the rest, best film of the year, but I'm suprised I haven't seen it mentioned on ANY lists that I've seen to didn't garner a single vote in the documentary category at Indiewire, for instance.

I thought it played in Toronto to make it Oscar eligible, but even if it is not, there are plenty of lists that don't follow the same guidelines. I wonder if it is just the four hour run time that's kept everyone from seeing it, whether it's an anti-Spike thing, or whether people just didn't think it was good.

Everyone I know who has seen it speaks highly of it, though, so who knows?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm #326...

...if I read the PDGA webpage correctly, I think I'm the 326 rated Disc Golfer in the state of North Carolina! (226 among amateurs and behind the 100 registered pros.)

Now if there were only a Disc Golf/Euchre biathalon...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Here's one way to help the environment...

...perhaps all the environmental PACs could stop sending me and my wife sheets of address labels when soliciting donations.

Just got back from a long weekend, and I found four different mailers soliciting donations, each with the requisite "gift" of address labels. One had a globe on them. Others had a leaf or something green.

I worked as a temp for a few months in 1988, and I had a long assignment at a PAC office. All it did was send out mailers (and petitions) and count the money that came in so that it could send out more mailers.

Total number of address labels received this weekend: 100+
Total donations made to each group making the "gifts": zero.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Riverfront Park: Augusta, GA

Well, I planned to play the new Championship caliber course at Wildwood today, but I decided to play Riverfront instead. It is a solid course, and a little closer to my skill level. I shot a 59 despite one out-of-bounds and the club score card actually has 56 as par (two holes are over 500 feet).

I played well enough, though there weren't too many birdie opportunities. I managed to practice my approach game, and I pretty much got up and down in two any time I was inside of 200 feet, excepting the one time I yanked my disc and went out of bounds. I met two locals who helped me find the tees and spot my disc, and they were very friendly. If this course had better signage (especially for the short tees I would like it better). I didn't mind playing the standard tees for this round, but if this were my home course, I'd want to mix it up a bit.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


So I just got back from 27 holes of disc golf on the course (but not the configuration) of last year's world championship. Needless to say, I'm one whupped pup.

The round started out well enough, I shot 29 on the first nine holes (10-18), but I got slaughtered on holes 19-27, taking a triple-circle eleven on the 600+ foot 27th. (A circle designates one or more strokes are penalties for going out of bounds or losing a disc).

I managed to recover a little on holes 1-9, even though the disc I lost was my primary driver (Sidewinder), and made a nice 20 footer for par to close out the round. I shot a 104, which isn't going to get any prizes even if they hadn't bumped me up to advanced since there were not enough Master (over 40) players, except at the pro level. That's about 3.8 strokes per hole, which I'm not ashamed of (especially given the 11, and at least 3 or 4 other Out of Bounds plays.

It was nice to play the course, even if I was in over my head.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Earlewood; Columbia, SC

The first time I played Earlewood, there was a steady rain, it was in the high 40s, I was playing a tournament, I had only retaken up the sport for about a year or so, and I was mostly driving with a beat up Leopard. I think I shot in the mid 60s, which seemed pretty good at the time, so I figured I must like the course.

I went back today on my way to tournament in Augusta, and I figure it is about 3/4 of the way there, so it is a good place to stop. Also, I haven't thrown a disc in over a week (finals, don'tcha know), and it might be a good idea to reacquaint my muscles' memory with what a drive feels like.

Earlewood always (okay, both times I've revisited it) ends up being harder than I remember. There are a lot of elevation changes and tough angles and trees. I get off to a bad start despite throwing a roller from an embankment to save a four on a 300+ foot hole, and a hammer to save bogey on another.

One thing that never works in golf is lowballing expectations, and I reflect that golf is a discipline in perpetual disatisfaction.

I probably should be happy that I shoot 31 on my last 10 holes, but all I can think about is going again. I decide not to, though. I've got 54 holes of World Championship course layout waiting for me tomorrow, and even on a disc golf vacation bender I know the difference between shaking the rust off and leaving it all on the practice field.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What is Hippodrome and Why Does it Scare Me?

I preregistered for the Hippodrome Winter Tournament, a PDGA sanctioned disc golf tournament taking place this weekend.

According to the invite/ad sent me, there will be 27 holes and the layout for one of the rounds will be the same as it was for the '06 World Championships. This year I moved to Advanced Masters division, and I'm usually near the bottom of the tournaments I play in, good enough to compete at the advanced level but not really at the same talent level...combine that with a championship course (read: looooooooong), the fact that the weather in Raleigh and final exams has kept me from regular practice, and I'm thinking I could get roughed up pretty bad this weekend.

But, hey, it's Christmas, and nothing says the semester is over and grading is done like a long road trip to play Disc Golf.