Robert Wm. Gomez's

July 2006

Philips DVP3040 Tweaks

Having in previous postings expounded about the greatness of my Philips DVP3040 DVD player, I thought it a good idea to reveal some of the problems I have had with the player after a month or so of use. The main problem has been jittery or jerky video playback on various DivX or XviD files. Some files worked, others were unwatchable. Turns out the player does not like the encoding on specific files. The issue is video that uses a "packed bitstream." There is, thankfully, an fairly easy solution.

Treason's Harbor by Patrick O'Brian (8/10)

This book in the Aubry/Maturin series benefits from a clear plot line of espionage.

Passenger to Frankfurt by Agatha Christie (4/10)

The first third is intriguing then it just jumps ship.

The Ionian Mission by Patrick O'Brian (8/10)

Listened to it as a book on tape. Good but lacked an over arching plot.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (10/10)

Great page turner.

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (6/10)

More of a character study of a completely unappealing character than a plot-driven novel. Not my thing.

The Shroud of the Twacker by Chris Elliott (7/10)

Loses steam about 150 pages into the book.

The Surgeon's Mate by Patrick O'Brian (6/10)

The Fortune of War by Patrick O'Brian (9/10)

Another Aubry/Maturin book. This one has both sea and espionage elements.

I Am Jackie Chan by Jackie Chan (5/10)

Mildly amusing but poorly written memoir.

Desolation Island by Patrick O'Brian (9/10)

The books keep getting better.

The Mauritius Command by Patrick O'Brian (8/10)

Much better than the last book in the series.

Black Hole by Charles Burns (7/10)

Decent and weird graphic novel. Lots on indy comic cliche.

H.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O'Brian (6/10)

Weakest of the first 3 Aubry Maturin books.

Inferno (9/10)

I didn't like this movie that much when I first saw it, but it has since grown on me. I write a bit more on it here.

Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion (7/10)

Italian thriller from the early 70s. Beautiful colors and photography and an excellent Morricone score. Not the most complicated plot for such a thriller.

Society (6/10)

Brian Yuzna's directorial debut about a rich kid's paranoia regarding his family and the other members of "society." Takes too long to cut to the chase but hold your interest for the most part.

The Wax Mask (6/10)

Argento/Fulci production. Harkens to the Hammer era gothic horror films. Derivative but enjoyable.

3:10 to Yuma (6/10)

Classic Western. Okay.

For Your Height Only (8/10)

Incredibly bad movie that has to be seen to be believed. Has plenty of dull moments but it more than makes up for it in horrible dialog, voice acting and action.

Death Rides a Horse (6/10)

Mediocre Italian western with a great score by Morricone. Drags on a bit.

Vengeance (7/10)

Italian western starring Richard Harrison. Good end baddie and some stylistically good fights.

Aswang (7/10)

Amateurish production values and acting hinder this fairly effective independent horror film from the Philippines.

Batman Begins (8/10)

The best of the modern Batman movies. Forgoes the theatrics in an attempt to bring the comic into a more realistic world.

Moon Child (6/10)

Mildly entertaining Japanese vampire movie that take a turn for schmaltz about halfway through.

The Hills Have Eyes (2006) (7/10)

Much of the intense "anyone can die at any time" atmosphere of the original are in this remake. More gory but the mutant effects aren't any better than they were in the 80s.

Marnie (6/10)

Hitchcock thriller that falls flat with a dumb ending and unbelievable plot.

Saw (8/10)

Good thriller with annoying Nike-commercial-esque style and bad acting.

The Warriors (7/10)

Has its moments but doesn't live up to the cult hype.

2LDK (8/10)

Japanese slow burner about roommate strife that builds to the incredible climax.

Six String Samurai (6/10)

Good premise is mired in low budget, poor editing and direction.

Phenomena (8/10)

A nice supernatural thriller from Argento

Dolls (4/10)

Stuart Gordan further assures us that Re-animator was a fluke. Bad acting, bad story, and horrible music. There is an okay cheese factor.

War of the Worlds (7/10)

Really enjoyed the effects and apocalyptic imagery. The story and ending are lame.

Rope (8/10)

A good Hitchcock thriller. Essentially a real-time stage play.

The Black Belly of the Tarantula (6/10)

Stylish but overly confusing (too many red heads!) and an unsatisfying ending hinder this giallo.

Cemetery Man (6/10)

Tries to be funny but isn't. Tries to be deep, but isn't. And not scary at all.

Mark of the Devil (7/10)

Interesting and well-acted witch hunt movie. Lots of torture.

Hostel (8/10)

Good, suspenseful and gross.

Frenzy (9/10)

Hitchcock does giallo! Nice character development and twisted humor.

Opera (9/10)

A lame ending and some bad music choices hinder this otherwise great Argento movie.

Manhattan Baby (5/10)

Lots of really nice close-up facial photography, but a dull plot. Only high point is the stuffed bird attack at the very end.

Alucarda (7/10)

Stylish Mexican horror movie. Surreal imagery overshadows the weak plot. Sorta falls apart towards the end of the second act.

Howl's Moving Castle (6/10)

The plot is a mess, even by Miazaki's standards. The art is nice though.

The Cat o' Nine Tails (7/10)

A decent thriller, but it needed more Karl Maulden and less handsome guy.

Four Flies on Gray Velvet (7/10)

I probably would have like this better if the sound was in tact. The story and mystery is obvious, but some of the stalker moments are pretty well done and the visuals are incredible as usual for Argento.

Lizard in a Woman's Skin (8/10)

Good mystery. Lucio Fulci is a bit of a clumsy director, but manages to provide a few surprises even though it lacks the suspense of Argento.

Update: In the years passing this movie has really grown on me. It is definitely Fulci's best, most cohesive thriller (clumsy though it may be).

Rear Window (9/10)

Hitchcock at his finest.

Blood and Black Lace (8/10)

My first Mario Bava movie. The blue print of the modern slasher film. There's lots of stylized lighting but didn't quite hold my attention.

Bio Zombie (5/10)

Low, low budget Japanese zombie movie. Terrible make-up. No scares. There are a few funny gags though: finger sushi and a clever zombie death or two.

Drunken Master (6/10)

Nowhere near as good as the sequel.

Deep Red (9/10)

Great music and a twist that will have you immediately rewatching the first few scenes when it's over. I hesitatingly think the Bird with the Crystal Plumage is a better movie.

The Aristocrats (8/10)

Interesting documentary co-produced Penn Jillete that dissects a single raunchy joke. Lots of funny moments and lots of interesting shop-talk.

Robot Monster (4/10)

One of the worst movies ever made.

Dementia 13 (8/10)

Francis Ford Coppola's first feature. A low budget triller with good twists and nice pacing. The ending is a little weak and photography is 2nd rate, but all in all pretty good.

Assignment Outer Space (3/10)

Low budget sci-fi from the 50s. Only noteworthy for its hard-scifi aspirations.

Living Doll (7/10)

British production from the producer of Pieces. Pretty good but suffers from mediocre acting in what is essentially a character study.

Spongebob Squarepants Movie (7/10)

As good as any episode but not S.B. at his best.

Curious George (4/10)

Very boring. Music gets annoying after a while.

Triplets of Bellville (8/10)

Crazy stylized animation about cycling.

March of the Penguins (7/10)

Somewhat cheesy in its anthropomorphic overkill, but very good nonetheless.

Sister Streetfighter (5/10)

This sequel has nothing to do with the other 2 Streetfighter movies except for a few shared actors (who aren't even reprising their Streetfighter roles). Lots of goofy baddies provide the only interest in this movie.

Zombie Genocide (5/10)

Sixty minute homemade zombie film. Admirable for a bunch of Scottish undergrads, but sloppy as all get out.

My Neighbor Totoro (8/10)

Miyazaki film with beautiful characterization and animation. The plot is a bit thin and just seems to end at the wrong place.

Gattaca (7/10)

Slow moving sci-fi ala Brave New World. The DNA distopia idea isn't very interesting, but a decent formula mystery.

The Return of the Streetfighter (6/10)

Mediocre sequel. Too many flashbacks and not enough story. A few good fights make up for the bad spots.