Tag Archives: films

Movie Review: ‘The Hurt Locker’ is a masterpiece of suspense

10 Apr


The Hurt Locker (R) 130 min. Directed by:Kathryn Bigelow. Written by:Mark Boal. Starring:Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, Ralph Feinnes, David Morse, Evangeline Lily. Cinematography:Barry Akroyd. Original music by:Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders.

cinemagrade A+

Despite the glut of films centered around it over the past few years, the Iraq War has not exactly made for compelling cinema.  Tangled in extreme political stance or statement, or designed around a general cluelessness about the way the actual battle itself is being fought, previous pics like The Valley of Elah, Lions for Lambs and Redacted were dead on arrival. Now, Kathryn Bigelow, director of Point Break and Near Dark, enters the Iraq conflict with The Hurt Locker;an expertly crafted thriller that leaves behind politics and posturing and brings the viewer onto the grimy, narrow streets of downtown Baghdad. With a singularity of vision and a documentarian’s eye for extreme and seemingly inconsequential detail, Bigelow transcends not only her own previous films but typical action cliches  to deliver one of the most suspenseful and intense cinema experiences I’ve ever had.   Continue reading

Top 15 Foreign Language Films of the Decade

11 Jan


January 11th, 2010–

Sitting here now at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, it’s difficult to conceive of a time when I had to scour video stores and theaters all over the city looking for foreign films that were presented in their original language. But even as recently as 2000, that was still a common occurrence. Continue reading

Cinematropolis is nominated for a Mobbie! Vote here!

28 Sep


September 28th, 2009–

Someone has nominated (really, it wasn’t me) Cinematropolis in the Maryland’s Outstanding Blogs competition over at the Baltimore Sun website. The site has been entered in two categories: Misfits and Pop Culture. The rules regarding voting are as follows(directly from the website itself):

  • Voting begins Sept. 28 at 8 a.m. (Eastern time, of course) and will end Oct. 9 at 5 p.m. (Nominations were open for two weeks prior.)
  • You can vote once a day in every category (and once a day for best overall). Voting a second time in a category will override your first vote in that category. Continue reading
  • Maurice Sendak talks Wild Things, Spike Jonze, and the new movie!

    28 Jul

    wild things-maurice

    July 28th, 2009–

    This is really cool. I’ve been a big fan of Maurice Sendak and his work ever since pulling that battered, old-glue smelling copy of Where The Wild Things Are off the school library shelf some 25 years ago.  Over the years, I’ve attempted to keep track of the man and what he’s been up to, but it’s neat to see him here reflecting passionately on his now 40 year old book. It’s also a good sign, and a vote of confidence, that Maurice seems to be just as excited and encouraged by what Spike Jonze has done with the movie. If you are a Wild Things fan, a Sendak or Jonze fan, or just love seeing people discuss their art then this will be a bright spot in your day.

    If nothing else, you get to see some Wild Things clips and some great talking head stuff by Sendak.

    Check it out HERE.


    Celebrating the Senator and 70 Years of Cinema!

    8 Jul

    2009 098

    July 8th, 2009–

    Well, I’ve finally got around to starting this one. From the very beginning of the blog, a few months ago, I had gotten an idea for a new column inspired by the fact that the nearby classic theater, The Senator, which  stopped showing films in March, had been previously operational since 1939. 70 years! What a phenomenal span of time, and imagine how much the films and the industry have changed since then. I just turned 30 in April, and I haven’t even been around half that long, so it got me to thinking about all of the films, particularly those some 50 years old now, that I have never seen. And thus, this project was born.

    Unfortunately, things are rather up in the air for the future of the old historic theater, and if you check the website you can learn more, including the date for the upcoming auction. Meanwhile, I’ll keep updates on the current situation linked right here in the column. Go to The Senator Theatre site HERE.

    As for this column, the plan is this: Starting with 1939, and progressing through 70 years of films, I will cover one year a week(Wednesday to Wednesday). For each year, I’ll find 3 films that I haven’t seen, watch them, and write them up.  That’s pretty much the whole gist of it. When I checked out 1939 for choices though, I discovered some egregious holes in my film knowledge; stuff I was sure I had seen, but upon further inspection I realized, no, I hadn’t. So, the 1939 segment of this column will feature 3 films that I probably should have checked out long ago, but for whatever reason, didn’t. Continue reading

    Remembering David Carradine and ‘Q: The Winged Serpent’

    7 Jun


    June 7th, 2009-

    There have been a fair number of articles and retrospectives in the past few days looking back over the career of veteran David Carradine, who died last Wednesday in Thailand. One of the most interesting was a eulogy by Carradine’s friend and fellow actor Michael Madsen which you can find HERE. Elsewhere, it’s all Kung-Fu this, and Kwai Chang Caine that and for the younger generation he’s mostly just Bill who Uma killed by edict of Tarantino. Sort of strange to be remembered for so few performances when your filmography contains over 200 acting credits. Continue reading

    Balticon 43 hits town this Memorial Day Weekend

    22 May


     Balticon, one of the longest running sci-fi conventions in the country,  heads into Hunt Valley this weekend and promises four days of sci-fi, fantasy and nerdy goodness. I noted on the website there are costume balls and LARPing (live action role playing). All of that was of less interest to me than the potential authors and guests present. Well, if you have got some time and money to burn this weekend and are looking for excuses to pull your latex Khan chest or black trenchcoat and sunglasses out of retirement this looks like your venue. Or if you are just looking to immerse yourself in pure unadulterated geekdom(nothing wrong with that), it sounds like there will be plenty to tickle your fancy. Wow, I used the phrase “tickle your fancy.”

    Seriously, if anyone out there attends this lets hear about it. Maybe some pics too?

    Ive always wondered whether it’s worthwhile for the more casual fan or similar to Otakon in that it caters to hardcore dedicated fans. To the point: Is there more to this than costumes and niche interest stuff?

    These are the details for the convention, taken from the Balticon official site which is located HERE.


    The Maryland Regional Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention

    Memorial Day Weekend      May 22-25, 2009
    At Marriott’s Hunt Valley Inn, Baltimore, MD

    Author Guest of Honor:

    Charles Stross

    Artist Guest of Honor:

    Kurt Miller

    Music/Filk Guest of Honor:

    Mary Crowell

    Special Guest of Honor:

    Scott Sigler

    Ghost of Honor:

    Edgar Allan Poe

    2008 Compton Crook Award Winner:

    Mark L. Van Name

    2009 Compton Crook Award Winner:




    We have made the Balticon 43 Pocket Schedule available online.

    A Four Day, 24-hours-a-day Extravaganza!

    Over 300 Hours of Multi-Track Programming featuring authors, publishers, editors, artists, scientists, musicians and other creative SF luminaries. Join over a thousand SF fans for the area’s largest and longest running convention of its kind! Visit our huge art show, dealer’s room, concerts, dances, gaming room, computer room and video room. Everything Science Fiction and Fantasy in one huge package.


    Notice to prospective Balticon program participants. Invitations will start going out by Oct. 17, 2008. If you wish, you may download the survey (in Word) here and email it to program@bsfs.org. A list of potential program ideas is available here. You may send additional ideas to program@bsfs.org. Inquiries received after Jan. 15, 2009 will not be guaranteed a program slot. –>


    The POCKET PROGRAM is now available as a PDF download! Come and get it!




    Most areas of the convention will close at 3:00am each night with the exception of Anime, Video, Filk and the Frankie & Vinnie’s Con-suite. These will be open 24 hours a day or as close to that as our volunteers can manage.



    Membership rates are


    • $48.00 for adults and $24.00 for children (age 6-12) till February 28, 2009
    • $53.00 for adults and $26.00 for children (age 6-12) from March 1 through April 30, 2009 –>
    • Full Weekend: $60.00 for adults and $30.00 for children (age 6-12)


    On-line registration is now available!

    Pre-registration is also available by mail. Please send name, address, email address & phone number with payment to:

    Balticon 43, PO Box 686, Baltimore, MD 21203-0686 or click here for membership form.

    Single day registration rates are now available!

    Single Day Rates (at the door only):

    Friday: $29 Adult / $15 Child
    Saturday: $41 Adult / $22 Child
    Sunday: $36 Adult / $18 Child
    Monday: $15 Adult / $8 Child
    Sunday/Monday: $46 Adult / $23 Child
    Monday (Teachers for AboutSF Teachers Workshop only): $11
    Balticon 44 Early Registration: $44 Adult / $22 Child
    Active duty military receive free one-day membership on Monday


    Buy ten memberships at one time of one type and get the eleventh free. Must provide names and addresses and pay with one check or credit card transaction. Great for fan clubs, family groups or circles of friends. Buy 20 and get two free. For details write registration@bsfs.org or use mail in form. This offer is ONLY available by MAIL. This offer can NOT be completed online.

    If you have already pre-registered, you may now check your status online. Please allow five (5) business days for online pre-registration and ten (10) business days for pre-registrations sent in via postal mail. To check the status of your pre-registration, please use our Am I Registered? page.

    Balticon Podcasts! There will be Podcasting during Balticon 43, if you need some information before arriving at the con, or if you want to listen to our recent podcast interviews, check out our web site: www.balticonpodcast.org

    Public Meeting called to discuss fate of The Senator Theatre

    19 May

    2009 050

    May 19th, 2009-

    A public meeting has been scheduled at The Senator Theatre off of York Rd in Baltimore to discuss the theater’s current situation and the city’s part in all of this. From The Senator’s own website:

    Senator Calls For Meeting @ The Senator!

    The media has reported in error that Baltimore
    City now owns The Senator Theatre.

    It has also been misreported that The Baltimore
    Development Corporation [BDC] will soon choose the
    new owner or operator of The Senator Theatre and
    determine its future entertainment programming
    through the RFP process.

    It is our understanding that the ownership of the
    landmark Senator Theatre will be determined by the
    outcome of an upcoming public auction, expected to
    take place later this summer. The successful bidder
    at the public auction will own The Senator.

    In an effort to separate fact from fiction regarding
    The Senator Theatre and its uncertain future,
    Maryland State Senator Joan Carter Conway,
    who represents the 43rd third legislative district,
    has called for a public meeting at the theatre
    in response to constituent concerns.

    The public information session will take
    place at The Senator Theatre on
    This Wednesday Evening, May 20th at 6pm

    Please help to spread the word!

    Senator Conway has invited City and State economic
    development representatives to attend. Representatives
    of Preservation Maryland, Baltimore Heritage, The
    Baltimore City Historical Society, The Commission for
    Historic and Architectural Preservation [CHAP] and the
    media have also been invited, along with North
    Baltimore business and community leaders
    concerned about The Senator Theatre.

    Scheduled government economic
    development representatives include:

    – Clarence Snuggs, Maryland’s Deputy Director of
    Housing and Community Development, representing
    Raymond Skinner, Secretary of Housing
    & Community Development.

    – Kim Clark, Executive Vice President of The Baltimore
    Development Corporation, representing 1st Deputy Mayor
    Andrew Frank, Neighborhood and Economic Development.

    Topics to be discussed include:

    – The State of Maryland’s financial investment in The
    Senator Theatre. – State of Maryland’s position in
    Baltimore City’s upcoming foreclosure proceedings.
    – City of Baltimore’s purchase of the 1st Mariner
    mortgage note secured by The Senator Theatre.
    – Baltimore City’s public auction process intended
    to transfer ownership of The Senator Theatre.

    The Senator has become known as “The People’s
    Theatre”. Apart from the theatre’s inaugural opening
    in October of 1939, the upcoming transition from 70
    years of continuous family ownership and operation is
    a pivotal event in the renowned theatre’s rich history.

    Please mark your calendars and encourage your family,
    friends and neighbors to attend the upcoming meeting
    at The Senator. For further info visit senator.com or

    For further information visit www.senator.com
    or senatorcommunitytrust.org

    The latest details regarding the ongoing saga of Baltimore’s Senator Theatre have been hard to decipher as of late. I’ve been intending to write a piece ever since the York Rd theater, one of Baltimore’s historic landmarks, closed down as a first run attraction back in March. I attended the first Town Hall meeting, which was conducted only a few days after the theater closed its doors. Varying reports have been flying around via the media and local news outlets as well from people close to Tom Kiefaber(still the theater’s current owner) and The Senator.

    It was recently reported that Baltimore City had fronted the money to buy the Senator and then ownership would be transferred to someone interested in running it as an entertainment venue. The Senator’s own website  has attested to the fact that this isn’t accurate, and that while the City has stepped forward, currently, the Senator will still go to auction in a few months. So, far, the only thing that has transpired is that the city’s Board of Estimates voted to spend the money to buy-out the loan the Senator has with First Mariner.  To complicate matters, the city’s CHAP(Comission for Historical and Architectural Preservation) recently voted in favor of a legislation that will prevent siginificant changes to the interior of The Senator. Kiefaber and others have been concerned that with these restrictions, The Senator will be a harder sell for someone who wants to keep it running as an entertainment venue.

    While it seems that watching The Senator get turned into a thrift store or a laundromat have been evaded, its coming down to the point where we face two scenarios: museum or functioning, flourishing theater. Since the close and the cessation of first-run films, The Senator has been running a series of classic films, concert films and even a mini-horror convention(complete with guests and indie premieres). From Night of the Living Dead to A Star is Born to The Yellow Submarine–currently playing– The Senator has been putting its giant screen and spacious interior to good use. I think it would be ideal to see the theater continue in a similar vein-running classic films, hosting community events and fundraisers, and premiering smaller independent and local movies. Whats the likelihood of this happening?

    To be honest, I’m not sure. I’ll be in attendance on Wednesday evening, and will report back on the whole thing. Here’s hoping to many long years of The Senator doing what it was intended for: providing a venue for entertainment and film. Hopefully it won’t all be smoke and mirrors and blame games like the last meeting proved to be.

    For a more detailed account of the situations so far, check out astrogirlguides, a blog that in recent months has covered fairly thoroughly the ongoing tale of The Senator’s woes.