Saturday, January 13, 2024

Cary Grant Alternate Reality Filmography (Revised)

Here a few images that did not end up in the slideshow.  

At times, Midjourney fused Grant with the actors who inherited his rejected roles.  This looks more like Gregory Peck than Grant.

This looks more like Rex Harrison than Grant.

I will spare you the monstrous hybrid that was part Cary Grant and part Humphrey Bogart.  Brrrrr.   

Have a good day, my friends.

Well-Dressed Men of Yesteryear

Best Midjourney Sets for January 2024

image by Kevin Savage

Midjourney Assortment for January 2024

image by PromptCraft Studio

I continue to see a great deal of creativity on Midjourney.  

This was designed as a promotional still for Off-Off-Broadway musical version of Halloween called Mike!.  This is the work of 26Fnotliktheothergls.

This image of Old Elvis was produced by whatdoihia.

Arsalan Sameer Al Bedani created this image of a schoolboy hulking out.

According to James Bamberger, a zoologist has provided this rare photo of a koalligator attacking a deer deep in the wilds of Australabama. 

Here are more images.

Fairy Tale Folk

Here a few images that did not end up in the slideshow.

I had to clarify to Midjourney that Hansel and Gretel were a brother and sister.

Have a good day.

Friday, January 12, 2024


Image by mazukor

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Bygone Entertainment

Old-time entertainers have inspired many images from Midjourney members.

This is a recent rendition of Charlie Chaplin.  The Tramp looks more dapper than usual.

I estimate that images of Buster Keaton outnumber images of Chaplin.

Oddly, Midjourney tends to depict comedians with gaping mouths.  

For today, I have assembled images of old-time entertainers for a video slideshow.  

Midjourney Does Norman Rockwell Again


Beautiful AI Ladies for January 2024

After Christmas Santa

Back to the Bath

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Liking/Disliking A Movie

I was intrigued by this YouTube video of Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992).  

You can view the video here.

In the first half of the video, the author lays out the many elements of the film that he dislikes.  He finds serious flaws in major story elements and character elements.  But then, in the second half of the video, he identifies parts of the film that intrigued, enchanted and entertained him.  He decided in the end, after weighing out everything, that it was a worthwhile film that he was willing to revisit at times.

I have had a mixed reaction to many films.  These films have had me alternating between delight and disgust.  Hmm, this is good.  No, wait, this is bad.  This is good.  This is bad.  It is a frustrating experience.  It is not at all an ideal movie-going experience.  Do not drink a sweet punch if you see a turd floating in it.  Do not buy a beautiful dress if it has stains in visible areas.  Similarly, I must reject a film that fails to deliver fair quality from beginning to end.  I can overlook a few missteps -  a miscast actor, a loose plot thread, an unexplained character motivation.  But major flaws will drag a whole work down into rubble despite whatever majesty that a film otherwise has to offer.  I think of Robert Wise's 1968 musical Star!.  The film looks great.  I marvel at the art direction, cinematography and costumes.  The musical numbers are terrific thanks to Julie Andrew's singing and Michael Kidd's choreography.  But the story and the characters are shallow, trite and uninteresting.  I will happily revisit the musical numbers.  But when it comes to Star! as a whole, I will make sure to avoid it.

This brings me to a recent movie, The Holdovers.  The acting is great.  The cinematography is great.  The fact that the film is entirely shot at real-life locations is great.  But the script is a big letdown.

The central character is Paul Hunham (Paul Giamatti), a teacher at a remote prep school.  Hunham is introduced insulting and tormenting his students.  He can't be a good teacher if all but one of his students gets a decent grade on his latest exam.  

leftbanker-1 of IMDb wrote: 
Paul Hunham is a horrible little man who spends most of the movie complaining about his students and how uneducated and uninspired they all are, but isn't it his job to inspire and educate? He's a total disgrace as a teacher and as a human.

Justin Chang, film critic with The Los Angeles Times, called Hunham an "embittered human wreck."  Would we care about him if it wasn't for Giamatti's engaging performance?

brentsbulletinboard of IMDb wrote: 
This tale of a curmudgeonly, condescending, middle-aged, fuss-budget prep school teacher assigned to babysit a group of rambunctious students who are unable to be with their families for the year-end holidays has a premise with considerable potential that, unfortunately, is squandered by a narrative that feels loosely stitched together and ultimately comes across as patently undercooked.

We are introduced to five students who are unable to spend the holidays with their families.  We are told of their various problems.  One of the younger students, Ye-Joon Park (Jim Kaplan), is terribly homesick.  He is having nightmares and wetting the bed.  But then the father of one of the students shows up in a helicopter and offers to take everyone to a ski resort for the holiday.   Hunham phones the students' parents for their permission to release the students, but he cannot reach the parents of one student - Angus Tully (Dominic Sessa). Angus, forced to stay behind with Hunham, glumly watches the helicopter take flight.  

Four characters that we had just gotten to know are abruptly whisked away.  Why were they in the film in the first place?  Why did we need to learn anything about them?  I understand that we learned more about Angus in his interaction with the other holdovers.  At one point, he offered comfort to the homesick Park.  But this was still a mostly pointless section of the film.

Da'Vine Joy Randolph plays a cafeteria manager whose son was recently killed in war.  She declined her sister's invitation to come to her home for the holiday.  She wants to grieve without too many people around.  So, she spends the holiday recess at the school.  We know that she feels grief for her dead son.  We would assume that without the filmmakers repeatedly pointing it out.  But we learn nothing else about her.  She has no character arc.  She is simply in the film to offer Hanham and Angus occasional moral guidance.  Randolph brings so much life to this character that it is a shame she isn't a bigger part of the film.

Hanham sees that Angus is severely depressed.  He is motivated by a rare spark of empathy to arrange a field trip to cheer up his sad student.  This understandably irritated an IMDb reviewer, ReadingFilm.  He wrote: 
The entire premise is that they are stuck in the school together. . . [T]hey're now alone, trapped together and must make due, must find grace in the discomfort, learn all those lessons.  This is a great premise for a film. . . SUDDENLY, they're going out to bars, to parties, to the city, to insane asylums, to bowling alleys. . . Imagine in The Breakfast Club they escape the school and go on a road trip with ten different stops.  It's no longer The Breakfast Club then, it becomes Ferris Bueller's Day Off. . .

Chang wrote, "The aim of The Holdovers is to cure Paul of his misanthropy, at least temporarily, by having him bond with one of his best but also most difficult students. . . The Holdovers is a flat, phony, painfully diagrammatic movie masquerading as a compassionate, humane one.  It seldom stops trying to convince you how sensitive it is, even as its mix of coyness and overstatement, its clunky tonal seesaws between humor and pathos, and its pride in its own good liberal conscience suggest that it hasn’t begun to think through its characters and their circumstances at all."

Chang's reference to the film's "pride in its own good liberal conscience" presumably has to do with the film's vague yet heavy-handed message that rich people are bad and deny poor people opportunities to advance.

The director, Alexander Payne, has produced a type of film that I never expected to see.  It is the hopeless Christmas movie.  I don't imagine that this sort of film will catch on and inspire an enduring genre.  Hunham suffered setbacks in his life that destroyed his dreams and left him sadly diminished.  It's not that he made bad decisions or fell prey to immoral desires.  He crossed paths with villainous characters that shamelessly victimized him.  So, Hunham is a loser.  We get it.  We are ready to deal with that. But Payne feels the need to pour on Hunham's shortcomings and make the man more than a simple everyday loser.  He is far worse.  He is the hopeless loser.  Hunham has a glass eye that makes it look as if his eyes are looking in different directions.  He has a biological disorder that makes him stink like fish all of the time.  An audience can't bother to root for a hopeless loser because, after all, he is hopeless.  Why waste your time?

Angus escapes Hunham to visit his sick father at a mental hospital.  The visit causes his father to become agitated and strike an attendant with a snow globe.

Hunham lies to his headmaster to protect Angus.  He says that he encouraged the boy to visit his father.  He is immediately fired from his job.  But he assures Angus that his firing is not a bad thing.  He says that this will allow him to travel the world and write a book.  But Payne gives us no reason to be optimistic about Hunham's fate.  The teaching job was the only thing that Hunham had to keep him going.  It was his steady life raft on a raging sea.  Now he had nothing.  He is cast out into a world that has been cruel to him.  He must find acceptance with his undynamic personality, his fussy habits, his funny eye, and his bad odor.  It's never going to happen.  And it is obvious from his demeanor that he doesn't think that it will happen either.  So, the film isn't about a man finding courage and humanity.  It is a film about a man's destruction.  Merry Christmas.

I only liked one film in 2023.  It wasn't The Holdovers, Killers of the Flower Moon, Barbie or Oppenheimer.  It was Anatomy of a Fall.  

The film is chillingly realistic in showing the way that cancerous feelings - guilt, resentment, envy and shame - can destroy a marriage.   It is a truly valuable lesson.

Reference source

Justin Chang, "Bah, humbug! 'The Holdovers' is a clunky, phony white-elephant gift of a movie," October 26, 2023