Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea


This is Ken Burns’ fifth series for PBS, after the monumental The Civil War, and the extremely good Baseball and Jazz. We haven’t seen The War yet, but we’re about to start it. There’s nobody better at documenting the American experience, and this series carries on like all the ... Read more »

National Treasure


Once again, the reviews were so dismal we expected nothing, and were surprised. I was a blatant attempt to cash in on The Da Vinci Code … and so what? I thought that book was stupid, false, and very poorly written. Didn’t believe it for a nano-second. Still, Ron Howard is making it, starring Tom Hanks, and it is certain to be a blockbuster and may even be ... Read more »

National Treasure: Book of Secrets


Even lamer than the first one. It’s all recycled Indiana Jones, with the idea that ancient people had nothing better to do with their time but to construct elaborate deathtraps for people who wouldn’t come along to set them off for 500 years or so. What was fun in Raiders of the Lost Ark, because it took us back to those days of awful cliff-hanger black-and-white ... Read more »

The Natural


The World Series is happening as I write this, 10/24/19, and the Washington Nationals have just humiliated the highly-favored Houston Astros in Game Two, 12 to 3, on the road in Minute Maid Park. Today the Nats are on their way to Washington, leading two games to one. Lee and I always watch the playoffs and the Series, but not much during the season. This one started off badly, with the ... Read more »

The Navigator


Buster Keaton liked huge props, and he found his biggest one here. In other films he employed a locomotive, a house built on a turntable and then moved onto railroad tracks, a steamboat, and a hurricane. But The Navigator tops them all. That’s the name of a passenger ship that was about to be scrapped and he was able to buy cheaply. The story is pretty thin, and ... Read more »

The Navigators

(UK/Spain/Germany, 2001)

Ken Loach is a highly political left-wing director who specializes in little gems about the British working class. Though this one was reviewed very well, it didn’t work too well for me, maybe because it compares unfavorably with some of Loach’s other films, like Sweet Sixteen and Ladybird Ladybird.

Near Dark


Q. How do you kill a redneck vampire?
A. Put garlic in his Dr. Pepper.

Vampire books and movies are not my cup of serum and platelets. It’s clear that they possess a powerful erotic charge for [some] women—why else would those silly Twilight novels and the turgid works of Anne Rice sell a kajillion copies?—but they’re a hard sell for me. (Exception: ... Read more »



Every year, now that the Academy has expanded the Best Picture category to up to ten films each year, there are one or two movies that seem to have wandered over from some less prestigious award show. The Golden Globes, maybe. This year it was Philomena and this one. Don’t get me wrong, they are both perfectly fine little movies, telling good stories with humor ... Read more »

Ned Kelly

(Austrialia/UK/USA/France, 2003)

Not the 1970 one with Mick Jagger. I never saw that one. This one was made in 2003 and shelved for a while. Heath Ledger plays the Man in the Iron Mask.

It seems to be reasonably realistic, from the little reading I did on the man, though there will always be debate as to whether Kelly was a revolutionary or just a horse thief. You could argue either point. Remember when Jesse James ... Read more »



The IMDb (and I wonder how I ever survived without it) tells me that the set for this Romeo and Juliet in the Irish slums was made precisely to Keaton’s dimensions, with hand and footholds places perfectly for him to do his trademark scrambling like a human fly. There are several jokes that today we would probably consider racist, involving Buster inadvertently ending up in blackface (from ... Read more »