Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Inside Temp

At what temperature do you set your thermostat on winter nights? We typically like it around 65-67 degrees, but I know people who set as low as 62 and as high as 78 degrees.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Chanchow Goes Back to Basics #1: The Shining (1980)

I figured I should go way out of my comfort zone for my first movie review of the year, and The Shining seemed to fill that order (The Exorcist would have been better-- as I'm told it's much scarier-- but that movie wasn't available at the library yesterday). I'd seen snippets of The Shining, but never the whole thing.

The opening shots of Nicholson's character, Jack Torrance, driving the winding, snowy, mountainous road up to the Overlook Hotel are amazing (the scene was shot by helicopter in Glacier National Park). Torrance is going to the hotel to interview for the winter caretaker position. The interviewer tells him that the caretaker 10 winters ago went crazy and killed his wife and two daughters with an axe and then shot himself. Unfazed, Jack says he's looking for quiet and isolation, so that he can get some writing done. He gets the job and moves his wife (Shelley Duvall) and son (Danny Lloyd) into the hotel.

The movie was shot really well-- in addition to the opening shot, I liked the shots of Danny riding his big wheel around the hotel and the chase in the hedge maze. But that's all I can rave about. I thought Jack Nicholson was so-so. Playing a half-crazed (or, in this case, fully crazed) character seems almost customary for him, and I can't say that this performance was any better than the other movies where he does a lot of freaky staring.

Also, I was confused by all the ghosts. Who saw what? I thought that Danny was the only one who could see ghosts. I thought Jack was hallucinating about the bartenders until the end when the wife saw stuff, too. It seemed sloppy to me. And what's up with the ending? Was Jack really at the hotel in a past life or did the hotel integrate him into its history only after he went apeshit?

3 out of 5 stars.

Friday, January 2, 2009

My Bright Idea Amended

It's January 3rd and I'm already lowering my expectations by cutting the list in half.

The 400 Blows
2001: A Space Odyssey
Apocalypse Now
Battleship Potemkin
Ben-Hur (1959)
Birth of a Nation
Blade Runner
Blue Velvet
Cabinet of Doctor Caligari
Citizen Kane
A Clockwork Orange
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Dirty Harry
Do the Right Thing
Dr. Strangelove
Doctor Zhivago
Drunken Master II
Enter the Dragon
The Exorcist
The Fly (1986)
Frankenstein (1931)
The Godfather, Part II
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Lawrence of Arabia
Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Midnight Cowboy
Mon Uncle
Nights of Cabiria
Rosemary's Baby
The Searchers
Saturday Night Fever
The Shining
The Sting
Triumph of the Will
Two Lane Blacktop
Umberto D
West Side Story