Monday, August 18, 2008

About those links

In the order in which they're listed:

The Internet Movie Database is a favorite site of mine. Fast and comprehensive, you can find any film, actor, director, character and even television show in moments. Part of what makes it a great resource is the "external reviews" link on every film, taking you to reviews from some of the finest reviewers in the country. I recommend checking into the reviews of Kenneth Turan, at the Los Angeles Times, and Mick LaSalle, at the San Francisco Chronicle (with its little man, and his various moods, in place of a star ranking).

Find lots of films, new, old, foreign, what have you, at the Onondaga County Library. I talk about this in my first blog post.

Movie Trailers at links you to a site with the latest trailers in various sizes and formats. Some trailers are posted quite far in advance of their release, so you can get an interesting heads-up about something that's not even on your radar yet. It's also a quick way to be exposed to diverse types of films. Get outside your comfort zone to see what else is out there.

Video Detective has new and old trailers as well as previews and isn't aimed solely at the Mac/Quicktime user.

Ain't It Cool is a site for all geeks and fanboys (and fangrrls). Science fiction, fantasy, horror, comedy, and other geektastic films are previewed and reviewed. Television shows and comic books also get a fair hearing. You get the inside stories via interviews with actors and directors; clips and stills from films still in production show up as well. It's an interactive site, where the readers engage in a no-holds-barred give-and-take (which is more informative and less hostile than you'd think).

Jonathan Rosenbaum is one of our great reviewers, a brilliant theoretician and historian of film who makes us ask hard questions about what we're seeing. He has several books containing reviews and essays on film. This site, featuring a different essay each week, contains archival links to brief reviews of hundreds of films.

Movie Scripts . . . is just what it sounds like. From my perusal of the site, it's clear that some of what you'll find is "shooting scripts"--what a director had in hand, rather than what ended up on screen. Some of these scripts are transcriptions from the actual films. Browse and enjoy.

The Internet Archive is a mini-library of multimedia original materials. The feature film link, which I provide, is just one facet of this online gem.

Posting Here

You should be able to post comments to this blog. (You might have to log in through a google account. Just get one. A gmail account is a fine thing to have.) Let me know if you have any problems.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Summer, Your Summer

You still have a few weeks left this summer. Check out some films. And when I say "check out," I don't just mean "see." I mean, "sign out something from the library." 

Look, Syracuse is a boosh-wah town. Finding great movies here is sometimes impossible. There simply aren't enough theaters. And the only "art" theater, the Manlius Cinema, looks like the interior of one of those military transport planes. Plus, the seats are lousy. The lines of sight stink. You can't find a place to park. 

This is where the library comes in. Get a library card, if you don't have one. Make sure you have a PIN (a code in addition to your library card number); check with a branch librarian to get one. This will allow you to order anything from the library system and have it sent to your closest branch. The Onondaga County library is at They have obscure films, old films, foreign films, films that should have had a larger release--and would have if the theaters didn't run the latest superhero film on several screens every hour of the day for months on end (until the scheduled DVD release).

Hey, I'm not bashing superhero movies. I'm a big comic book fan. I saw the Iron Man, Hulk, and Batman movies this summer (in the company of some highly educated fellow teachers!). But the finest in film is hard to find here--or hard to catch because, if it comes, it comes and goes like lightning. 

So in the time remaining, find some of the better reviewed movies that you never got to see last year. Adult movies, not movies designed for not-terribly-clever 12-year-olds. Go to and watch every trailer there to get a sense of all the things you won't be seeing in Syracuse next year, then make a note of those films so you can see them later.

Oh. And challenge yourself with some books while you're at it. Summer, for me, is reading time. I recommend going to 2nd Story Books, on Westcott Street; they have a small collection, but it's international and interesting. Fiction is where anything is possible, and the great writers know no bounds.

One more thought: Read Watchmen--not just one of the great books, but one of the great books period--before you see the film. I like what I've seen in the trailer (it captures the visual sense of the book without merely looking like a comic book that's been slapped onto the screen), but this is the director who gave us such dubious achievements as 300, so I wouldn't expect the movie to live up to the book.