If a movie is made using a formula
or template then it most likely will not be great but will be much
better than a movie made by a director that does not know what he
An analogy is portrait photography. Many amateurs take
pictures of other people and the results are poor to bad most of
the time. A portrait studio that has a formula lighting
setup and back drop can turn out reasonably good portraits even if
a non photographer works the camera. But a gifted
photographer can take a great portrait using the same studio setup
Like in many things once you know the rules and why they are there
then you are free to knowingly break them.
Novel or original Screen play Writer
This is the idea the movie is
based on. Tom Clancy wrote the novel "Red October".
Larry Ferguson wrote the screen play. (A screen play describes
the place, time, what the camera sees and the dialog.
Often when people are describing a movie they mistakenly give
the director credit for the idea. For example see the
comments about "12 Monkeys" and "Blade Runner" which were screen
written by David Web Peoples. Almost all the comments are
really about the story not about what the director did.
Philip K Dick
wrote the books that were made into the movies: Blade Runner,
Total Recall, Barjo, Screameres, Imposter, Minority Report,
The producers purchase the movie
rights and fund it's production. They are the ones who set
the budget, hire the director and may be influential in hiring
the key actors. This is a chain of events and so there may
be a number of producers (opening logos) associated with a
movie. They sometimes leave the movie and sell their part
to another producer.
If you know what the different producer titles in the credits
mean please let
A screen writer does the creative
process of coming up with the movie script based on a novel or
an original idea. Scripts are written in a very
standardized format so that the movie run time is very closely
related to the number of pages in the script.
Sometimes the after a movie has started the script is found to
be lacking and a new screen writer may get hired to finish the
The director is similar to the
captain of a ship. He hires all the cast and crew.
He has control of what's filmed and how. He may or may not
have final say in the editing. The stunning visual images
in "The cell" are the result of the directors vision and his
choice and direction of the production designer. Another
way to think of it is the director is the story teller.
For example the same novel could be made into very different
movies if different directors were chosen to make it.
It's important for a director or actor to be sure the movie is a
good fit for them. If a director has made a number of very
successful movies that are all alike he may be tired of them and
if another similar is done it may be a looser. But if he
is challenged with a new type of movie it may be great.
The danger is that a director may not accept challenging new
movie types and keep making boring versions of his prior movies.
One of the key jobs of the director is controlling the
budget. This is the driving force behind how any movie is
made. The locations used for a movie have a lot to due
with the budget. Also the shooting order. If a very
expensive actor is being used it's good to film all of their
scenes in the most time efficient manner. In "Ticker"
Dennis Hopper was only involved for a couple days, yet he
appears all through the film (this was overdoing it since the
actors ended up having no interactions), although a low budget
film ended up with some big actors in it the quality was poor.
It may be that the producer that hires the director has already
set the genre, but whoever sets it will hold all those at
successive job titles to it.
Sometimes the person who has written the script is the
director. This may be so the creative control is
The actors are the people that
appear in front of the camera. Actors have different
levels of capability. Some actors always play the same
type of character like a thug, a slightly crazy person, a good
looking woman, a cowboy, etc. Other actors have much more
range and can portray completely different types of
people. You might not even recognize that an actor you
know is performing. Gary Oldham is great in this
regard. Michael Parks plays the old Mexican pimp in Kill
Bill 2, but you wouldn't know unless you were told it was
him. Peter Sellers was famous for palying multiple parts
(maybe up to 12) in the same movie.
Actors, like directors, tend to give their best performances
when challenged. Robin Williams in "One Hour Photo" does a
fantastic job palying a character that's far from his normal
Quentin Tarantino has chosen actors who were out of favor at the
time and cast them in rolls that were different from what they
had done in the past with a very good result both for the movie
being made and for the actors careers.
This is not an exhaustive list, just
some that I like.
This is something I started doing at
about 4 years old and caused me to get into engineering.
Hidden Message? Prot (Kevin
Spacy) the alien says that sex on his planet K-Pax is
disgusting. On earth Prot eats a banana including the skin
and in a number of places notices or comments on the great "fruit"
on earth. At one point he disappears to travel to some
northern countries. It may be that "fruit" is a metaphor for
sex and that's what Prot enjoys so much about earth and his travel
was to enjoy more of it
don't bother with the Dreamworks web
site, way too much graphics for anything less than a LAN
Cell, the - 2000 -
of the State
- Gene Hackman
(ex NSA), Will
(Victim ) - see 1999 STOA Report
on communications intelligence
- unknowingly raised as the star of a 24 hour/day
(gum shoe) Ben
(gum shoe's assistant) Kim
(romantic interest) - bigger part than
Out of Sight
Now, a few words on looking for things. When you go looking
for something specific, your chances of finding it are very
bad. Because of all the things in the world, you're only
looking for one of them. When you go looking for anything at
all, your chances of finding it are very good. Because of all
the things in the world, you're sure to find some of them.
1998 - George
(FBI & girl friend) Elmore Leonard
novel Elmore Leonard's
. & on Amazon.com
- Done in Hollywood, better quality than the dubbed
1998 - Starring Bruce
(FBI g guy) and Alec
(NSA b guy), Kim
- Book -Simple
Wag the Dog
1998 - Robert
(Fix it man) & Dustin
(Movie Producer) - New Line Cinema
- Book: American
- very close to reality?
(patient) and Samuel
(mathematician) - Warner Brothers
- Book: Sphere
- a Woody
film - Robin
+ + + + stars
1997 - Jodi
(Radio Astronomer) - Warner Brothers
- Book: Contact
similar in concept to 2001 a Space Odyssey.
Men in Black
-1997 - Mr.
(seasoned gost buster) and Mr.
(new trainee) Linda
(coroner) -Columbia Pictures -comic book The
Men in Black
The Fifth Element
- Bruce Willis (future taxi driver) Milla
(ET saves world) Gary
(villain) -highly recommended
- 1997 - Jim
(Lawyer) - Universal Pictures -
- 1997 -Michael
(business man), Deborah
(game player) - PolyGram
(Postman) - Warner Brothers
- 1997 -
(gentleman thief) Elisabeth
(scientist) - Paramount Pictures - Book: The
Saint and the Happy Highwayman
- 1997 - Matt
(janitor) & Robin
(shrink) - Miramax Films
(buinesman) - MGM/UA
(cab driver), Julia
(assistant DA), Patrick
(CIA shrink) - Warner Bros.
- 1997 - Aidan
(navy man), Donald
(CIA) & Ben
(Mosad) - Sony -
Murder at 1600
(Washington DC cop) & Diane
(Secret Service) - Warner Bros.
Good As It Gets
- 1997 - Jack
(neighbor) - Sony
(SEAL) - Hollywood Pictures -
- Interesting genetic sci-fi Ethan Hawke
, Uma Thurman
, Jude Law
- 1996 - IMDb
didn't see this movie or Silence of the Lambs for some time
since the title & what I had heard suggested that they were
slasher type movies. It turns out that they are both
- based on the TV series
(Marine) & Jeff
(TV repair man) Bill
(bad guy), Christian
(good guys) -
garage mechanic gets very smart -
(angel) - not the kind of Angel you expect
(whistle blower) - Warner Bros. -
The Long Kiss Goodnight
(teacher/spy) & Samuel
(private eye) - action & comedy
1995 - IMDb
- Keanu Reeves
a data courier/smuggler with a jack into his brain so he can
upload/download data. Hollywood
- technical details on the CGI
(career criminal), Al
(demo man) - Warner - De Niro & Pacino have a
cup of coffee Same writer/director as Thief (1981)
Die Hard 3
1995 - IMDb
- Robert Patrick
has one line buy you can see the T1000 spirit that got him into
Terminator2 (strange IMBD does not have a listing for die hard 3
in his bio.
(Sub Captian) & Denzel
(XO) - Buena Vista Home Video - good sub movie
(woman) & Kevin
(con man) - trimark - heart warming
- 1995 - IMDb
Willis is sent back in time to find out how the virus that wipes
out humans got started. As a young boy he witnesses his
For him it's hard to say what's
real and what happened in a dream. Script
by Mr. & Mrs. Peoples who also wrote Blade Runner and
Unforgiven. The first time I saw this movie it did not
get it. Now it's one of my favorites.
- great cast - loan shark decides to become a movie producer
- 1994 - IMDb
& directed by Quentin
one of the first movies to featureSamuel L. Jackson
led directly to Die Hard 3
(grows up) & Gary
(Sgt. Dan) - tour de force for computer movie
graphics. I live in the same time frame as Gump.
(spy) and Tia
(bad girl) - action & comedy
The Joy Luck Club
(women) - Hollywood Pictures -
- based on the TV series
weatherman doomed to repeat the worst day of his
life until he discovers the key to moving his life forward - the
concept is at the heart of many religions.
(master) and Wesley
(student) - Book: Rising
- the comments by Connery are mostly (all?) true
- 1992 -
- Andy Garcia
& Uma Thurman
in a mystery where both of their performances are great as is
(rock singer) - based on Saturday Night Live
(bad guys) - Warner Home Video -
(singer) & Kevin
(bodyguard) - Whitney is the only person I've
heard sing the Star Spangled Banner that really made it sound
great, gave me goose bumps, she's a fantastic singer!
(TV weatherman) & Victoria
(English reporter) -
It combines all the conspiracy theories, ture or false to weave
- 1991 - IMDb
& Red Dragon
are great Anthony Hopkins movies
(banker) & Whoopi
(girl friend)- Paramont -
The Hunt for Red October
(NSA analyst) and Sean
(Russian Sub Captain), James
(head CIA)- Malofilm
- Book: The
Hunt for Red October
- The book has more true spy tech stuff, like
processing both the film and lens of the camera to get greatly
Die Hard 1988 - IMDb
- $28M to make grosses $137M leading to DH2, DH3 and DH4
- 1988 - A great movie. Similar to Bill
Full Metal Jacket - IMDb
- 1987 -
Vincent D'Onofrio very believable as Pvt. Pyle who can't take
boot camp and shoots his D.I.
(bit part), Val
(pilot) - some great aerial combat scenes
(country boy) -
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins
(martial arts instructor) - Joel Grey
extremely great mental-physical moves - must see.
Back to the Future
(mad scientist) - time travel
The Falcon and The Snowman
- Based on a true story about spying inside TRW. See my crypto page
Beverly Hills Cop
(streetwise cop) -
(Three scientists) - invent a machine that
allows you to experience what another experienced - must see
-Were I worked someone called our telex machine trying to hack
it, we offered (1) checkers... (4) Global Thermonuclear War...
(business man), Rebecca
(working girl), Joe
(cat) Music by David
- "putting out fire with gasoline"
(future cop) - a classic Script
by Mr. & Mrs. Peoples who also wrote 12 Monkeys and
Unforgiven. The first time I saw this movie it did not get
Stripes - IMDb
- The Animal House crew at it again.
History of the World: Part I
(plastic surgeon) - Warner Home Video directed by
(sound man) - excellent movie, even today (2006)
Eye of the Needle
- spy thriller based on pre Normandy spoof by Gen.Patton - book
-TV movie - a fantastic performance by Mickey
(professional thief), Willie
(prision roomy), Tuesday
(girl friend), Robert
- Same writer/Director as Heat - good technical
Southern Comfort -
- 1981 -
A squad of National Guards on an isolated weekend exercise in
the Louisiana swamp must fight for their lives. Vietnam
allegory? Haunting music by Ry Cooder.
- 1980 - William Hurt
Harvard scientist conducts experiments on himself with a
hallucinatory drug and an isolation chamber that may be causing
him to regress genetically.
(rich golfer), Bill
(grounds keeper) -
The Blues Brothers
(Jake) & Dan
(Elwood) - Universal Studios -> sequel BB2000
- Brooke Shields
(same first name, but much easier on the eyes)
(X CIA), Glenda
(drinking problem), Julie
(girl friend), Lloyd
(control tower), Leslie
(crazy soilder) Robert
- classic about Vietnam era - Porklips
- The Naked Gypsies
- The Conversation -IMDb
- Apocalypse Now -IMDb-
- Have We Seen the Elephant?
- Santa Rita
withdrew support for American Zoetrope after they saw THX-1138
and so missed out on The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, American
Note this is the
movie that had a profound effect on hollywood. It was made
for about $ 400k and grossed about $ 60,000 k and marked
the end of the old hollywood.
2001: A Space Odyssey
- Directed by Stanley
- a classic
The Thomas Crown Affair
(banker-bank robber) plays chess with Faye
(insurance investigator) -> new
- Why would Jane Fonda make such a movie?
- the best auto chase & sound EVER
The President's Analyst
(shrink) - about TPC (The Phone Company)
gets his start and the song "Mrs. Robinson"
- Woody Allen spoof on James Bond movies
The Dirty Dozen
- all star cast of bad guys doing good
Cool Hand Luke
(prisoner) - Captain says "What we have here is a
failure to communicate" Dennis
& others from this movie went on to make Easy
- The fire department's job is to burn books since buildings are
fire proof -> Mel Gibson is directing a version
for yr 2000
-lunatic artist disguised as a gorilla
- what can be found by many enlargements of a
photo (Nikon F)
The Quiller Memorandum
- all star cast
A Hard Day's Night
(son of who?), Susannah
(wench) David Warner -Henry Fielding's 1749 novel - a
man & women enjoy eating
(girl friend) George
(boss) - in high school we then went to the local
pool hall - Still a great movie in 2006. 1986 remake called The Color of Money
2005 remake called Shooting Gallery
(poor title it means something else)
The Mouse That Roared
- Peter's very small country invades the U.S.
Bell, Book and Candle
- directed by Alfred
Rebel Without a Cause -IMDb
- Perhaps the best teen-age drama of the 1950's.
The Wild One
- The Hell's Angles visit Hollister, CA - Harley
motorcycles "Oh, the shame of it all"
- directed by Billy
(prisoner) prison escape [the classic Eames chair
built for Billy]
The Man in the White Suit
(inventor) - Sir Alec made many great movies
DVDs have replaced tape as the
preferred format for watching movies at home. This is
not only because there's a huge improvement in the quality,
but also because there's additional information in the
Features, alternate audio tracks and subtitle tracts.
Some DVDs also contain programs that run on a computer.
The first generation DVDs were
single layer that can hold just a little more than a 2 hour
movie and so tended to have minimal special features.
Maybe some static text about the cast and/or crew. There
may be more than one audio track and or subtitle track, but
Second generation DVDs are double layer and can hold a little
more than 2 complete movies. These typically hae a
special features section that includes such things as deleted
scenes, bloopers, alternate ending. These typically
include a choice of 2 or 3 languages for the audio track and
the same languages for the subtitle track.
On some movies the commentary audio and/or subtitle tracks
have a lot of good information for students of making movies.
To find these you need to use your remote to select alternate
audio tracts and/or alternate subtitle tracts. I call
them hidden if you can not get to them using the root menu or
any menu under the root menu (like special features or bonus
I recently have been finding
hidden features. For example in Basic Instinct there is
a hidden audio commentary track by a woman who sounds like a
college professor that does not understand what the words she
used mean. Many mistakes.
In Collateral there's a hidden subtitle track which I think is
by M. Mann that has information about the use of HDTV instead
of film and it's effect on the night scenes. For me this
file looks much more "real" than those movies who use film for
When a DVD gets dirty and
covered with finger prints it will cause the picture and/sound
to break up. This can be fixed by washing the disk using
soap and water, then drying in air or using a lint free
wipe. If there are scratches or abrasions that are
causing the picture break up then washing will not fix the
problem. But using CD
will provide a cure in many (but not all)
cases. I got it at my local Video rental outlet (that
also has a disk polishing machine which they use to maintain
all their rental DVDs).
May 5, 1998 106/10 ; 106/11; 106/3;
451/63 - contains wax, non water based solvent, dispersing
agent & polishing compound - need to work in radial
strokes or across visible scratch to bevel sides of scratch
and fill with wax. It really works.
DVD v. BluRay
As far as I can tell the video quality is about the
same. I have a few movies in both DVD and Blu-ray
formats and can not tell the difference. I think the
bad rap that DVDs get is because they are not being properly connected.
redbox DVD Vending Machines
For the last couple of months the shelves in Video Rental room
at the local Lucky store have been mostly bare, like they were
going out of business. When asked the clerks
didn't know anything. About a week ago (16 Apr 2008) the
Lucky store ad had a code (LUCKY30) for Red Box DVD rental and
the store address appeared in the ad. But a phone
call confirmed that they do not have a Red Box machine.
Surfing found redbox.com
a store finder based on zip code. It turns out that
there is one redbox within 20 miles of our town center.
The machine has a light box on the left side with a couple of
dozen movies illustrated. A touch screen and credit card
reader on the front. The black thing on the right is the
input/output slot. The DVDs are in a special case 5 5/8"
wide x 4 7/8" high x a little less than 1/4" thick. The
four corners are beveled and there's a slot for the robot to
The back has a hole in the center so the 2D bar code can be
read, but the front has three windows and if all the open area
is scanned you can stitch together a complete bar-code.
The center of the front (redbox on label) has a 2D bar-code in
the center that's the case serial number. Marked Made In
7234609 Article dispensing system and method for same, Michael
DeLazzer, Franz Kuehnrich (redbox), Jun 26, 2007, 221/10;
221/93; 221/97; 221/133; 221/191; 221/281; 221/287
this patent outlines the key features some of which are:
- each machine is linked via satellite to a central
control station that can interact with each machine in
You can check the inventory of your local machine on line
and rent on line then to pick up you only enter your email
and zip code and swipe the charge card.
- The door on the front of the machine uses an RFID tag
system to unlock so when a cartridge is going to be
replaced the door unlocks when it's approached.
- The cartridges are replaced not by a route driver like
conventional vending machines but by the driver of a
common carrier like Fedex or UPS.
- The Foodmax is open 24/7 so you now have 24/7 access to
DVD rentals at $1 (plus tax) each including new releases.
- 2,000 DVD capacity.
11/408607 System and method for calibrating a vending
apparatus - is an application that is mostly a continuation of
the first patent.
There is a very limited number of available titles (about 200)
compared to a brick and mortar Video Store (20,000) or even a
supermarket video rental room, let alone an on line rental
system like Block Buster (>80,000) or Net Flix
(>100,000). This may just be a startup issue or
a business decision by redbox? Limited phone support
hours 1 (866)-733-2693 No idea what hours they are there
"leave a message".
The on line trailer feature did not work for me and at the
same time the store locator also had a window saying something
like OOPS not available now.
Redbox has the capability of offering as many titles as the
others, but in the end is much more expensive. For
example with a gallon of gas at $ 3.60 (Apr 2008) if you make
a special trip the actual cost is very high. If there
happens to be a redbox machine at a store you frequent or on
your route to or form that store then it's not so
expensive. Having the mailman deliver and pickup the
videos may be a lot lower cost option.
Some of the titles (with major U.S. actors) were made outside
the U.S. and have their main (IMDB) title something other than
the title Redbox uses, making it difficult to find on IMDB.
I subscribed to try out the streaming movies available on a
net connected Blu-ray player (see: Home Theater
) but my internet
connection is just a little too slow. But I'm getting
the DVDs by mail (there's an extra charge to get Blu-ray disks
so have not done that since they don't look any better).
Once I got DSL then I could get Netflix streaming, but just
barley. Netflix requires a minimum of 2 Mb/s download
speed and I'm getting about 2.2 Mb/s, so often get buffering
It turns out that the new release (popular) movies are not
very available from Netflix. On the que page there are
just under a dozen movies that have been there for weeks
marked "long wait" or "very long wait". I'm now using
Red Box to watch these and remove them from my Netflix que.
The post office treats Netflix as a special case since they
are a very high volume operation. The envelope used by
Netflix is "machinable" meaning it works on the high speed
automatic mail sorting machines. That greatly lowers the
mailing cost compared to non machinable mailing pieces.
Because of this the time in transit is quite short. Here
are some examples deposited in the box in front of the post
office on Orchard Ave, Ukiah, CA. Pickup times: Mon - Fri:
noon & 5:15, Sat 2:15, Sun: none.
Note the Orchard Ave facility does't sell stamps or postage,
it's where the big mail trucks are loaded/unloaded and the
route trucks are loaded/unloaded.
Sent in bold
of next DVD in normal font.
Summary Table Bold for
Sent day and time
, normal font for arrival day in
|(M-F)5:15 pm or 2:15 pm (Sat)
tbd = to be determined
Saturday after 2:15 is the same as Monday morning.
It looks like there is no advantage is mailing prior to noon,
the last pickup works just the same.
It looks like my rural mail pickup is just as good as putting
the return envelope in the Orchard St. post office box before
the last emptying of the day (typically 5:15).
||Arrive @ Netflix
|Sent From Netflix
7 am UTC
12 pm UTC
4 Jan 4pm
Jan 6 2 pm
Jan 8 5 pm
12 Jan 10am
14 Jan 3 pm
18 Jan Holiday
22 Jan 5 pm
? reading email on Tuesday at 4:12 pm yet Netflix shipping
email is time stamped 12:04 pm.
It's not yet 12 pm EST so the time most likely is UTC.
The Prisoner -
Six of One web
The Avengers - Elan
DOOMSDAY - Unofficial
Home Page - June
1998 Movie - Adam
Richards reviews - New
Avengers - Search
Results - TV home page
- James Dawe's
Unofficial Home Page -
The Twilight Zone - snap
Directory - cultTV
- One of my favorites (screen play was in TV Guide) 6.The eye of
the beholder Plastic surgeons in some unknown society make one
final attempt to improve a young womans face so that she can
live among normal people - Lycos
Sign Post - The
Comments to Brooke
[an error occurred while processing this directive] page created Jan.