WeTransfer

In my FileFactory links yesterday I asked about WeTransfer. I ultimately decided to give one of their pro accounts a try. You can get a one-month subscription for something like $12 bucks. I hope you all don’t mind, but I used some of the PayPal money you gave me at the last begging.

Unfortunately, I don’t think WeTransfer will work for me.

The pricing is actually really good. You can get unlimited storage for $19/month. I’ve downloaded from WeTransfer before and their speeds have always been great. As far as I can tell they don’t spam you with pop-ups or faulty links and they don’t make anybody jump through any hoops before they can download. I played with it a little last night and the upload speeds are fast.

All of that is great, it got me excited about using them. But then I discovered the downsides.

I tried uploading an unzipped folder. The upload worked fine, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to view the contents of the folder once it is uploaded. One of the things I love about Google Drive is that if I upload a folder then you can open that folder up in Google Drive. You can view the files, even read text files and see the images. I believe you can even play a FLAC file online. All of that is super helpful in determining whether or not you actually want to download the files.

As far as I can tell you can’t do that with WeTransfer. It appears that I can’t even do that on my end, as the uploader. That sucks.

There doesn’t seem to be any sort of file management system either. With Amazon Drive, File Factory, Google Drive and every other cloud storage system that I’ve used you have been able to manage your files when you uploaded them. I could create an artist folder and then move all the shows by that artist into them. I could sort by file name, date created, or other things. This is really helpful when you’ve uploaded thousands of files.

There also doesn’t seem to be a way of sharing multiple files at once, unless you upload them at the same time and then you cannot share individual files that were uploaded in a batch. So if I upload a Bob Dylan show right now and then one in an hour and another one later today, I can’t share all three of those shows with one link. Now if I upload those three shows at the same time WeTransfer will give me one link that will encompass all three shows. But if I only want to share one of the three shows, there doesn’t seem to be a method of doing that. And those files are permanently stuck together in WeTransfer’s filing system. When I look at all of my transfers, any files I uploaded at the same time I permanently batched together so that I can’t see everything unless I click on its button.

I’m probably not explaining that well. Ultimately, WeTransfer doesn’t have a good filing system for the files I upload. That’s a deal breaker for me. I need to be able to organize the files I upload. Now, if I’m not mistaken WeTransfer has only recently developed a pro-account system. I believe that previously everything was deleted after seven days. So they never needed to develop a good organizational system. They do have something called Portals which kind of leans towards the organization, but it is really set up for companies to collaborate on projects with all of their employees, and so it doesn’t really work for what I’m doing. But maybe as they grow they will find a better way for users to organize their files.

I’ll keep an eye on them for sure.

The Tall T and Ride Lonesome

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From 1954 to 1960 actor Randolph Scott and director Budd Boetticher (usually with writer Burt Kennedy) made six westerns together which are collectively called the Ranown Cycle. I watched all of them a few years ago. For some reason yesterday morning, I had an image from one of the films – that of a tall, bare tree standing all alone in the center of a grove – and it made me desperate to watch that film again.

I wasn’t quite sure which film it was from, but I made a guess that it was The Tall T (1957) since the tree in question looked like a giant letter T. Turns out I was wrong, but by the time I had figured that out I was already well into rewatching the movie and I didn’t mind finishing it. Then I actually did a little research and determined it was Ride Lonesome (1959) that had that tree and I watched it too.

Boetticher’s direction is a bit like Randolph’s acting – not flashy or particularly nuanced, but good and solid. The films are tricky. They at first seem simple, perhaps too simple, just basic westerns without much to them, but they grow on you. The more I think about them the more I love them.

In The Tall T Scott plays a lonesome rancher who, having lost his horse in a bet while trying to buy a bull steer has to catch a ride with a private coach to the next waystation. The coach is carrying two newlyweds. At the station, he finds not his friend, but three outlaws. They mistake his private coach for the public one which they had planned to rob. Since they have already killed the station’s manager and his young son, they must take the rancher and newlyweds hostage.

The groom tells the outlaws that his wife’s father is wealthy and he will surely put up a big ransom to get her back alive. The film considers this act cowardly. Real men, I suppose, don’t use their wives’ fortunes to get the out of a jam. They would fight their way out. Randolph Scott will do exactly that by the film’s end. The groom will prove his cowardice in other ways and his wife will learn he only married her for her money.

Boetticher keeps things tight. With a run time of just over 70 minutes, there isn’t an ounce of fat on the bone. What’s really interesting about the film, and many of the Ranown Cycle of films is that the villain here has nuance. The leader of the outlaws (Richard Boone) isn’t a bad man. Or at least he isn’t straight-up evil like so many western villains are. He’s just a guy who wound up on the wrong side of the law. By the film’s end, he seems to like Scott’s character more than the guys he’s riding with (including Henry Silva in one of his earliest roles.)

In Ride Lonesome (1959) Scott plays Ben Brigade another lonesome cowboy, and it is fantastic. Here he is a bounty hunter instead of a rancher. As the film begins he’s grabbed Billy John (James Best) a man wanted for murder. Billy John is none too worried though because his brother Frank (Lee Van Cleef) will most certainly rescue him and kill Ben in the process. At yet another waystation Ben finds not the manager but more rifles pointed at his face. The outlaws this time around are Sam (Pernell Roberts) and Whit (James Coburn). They aren’t looking for money or to set Billy John free. Rather they want to turn Billy John in themselves because the bounty includes clemency for any crimes they committed in the past. The men are ready to settle down and want to start with a clean slate.

The three men will work together to get Billy John to town, but Ben says he wants the cash bounty and the other guys say they’ll kill him before they let him screw them out of their amnesty. But as we’ll find out Ben has other things in mind for this journey. The film takes its time letting us know what that other things are, but when it gets there it is a good one.

Karen Steele plays the wife of the waystation manager and she’s as tough as she is beautiful. The film subverts your expectations as a romance doesn’t blossom between her and Ben. Sam does hit on her, and there are more than a few longing gazes that the camera gives her, but unlike so many westerns no one tries to have his way with her.

Boetticher lets the film take its time getting anywhere. He allows the story to come naturally, without rushing it, and it is all the better for it. The first time I watched it, about three years ago, I didn’t love it. I don’t remember why. It probably had something to do with watching all the Ranown Westerns within a few days. I may have grown a bit tired of them by the time I got to this one. But on this viewing I absolutely loved it. Scott is so good in it and the story is really something special.

Links of the Day: February 6, 2023

As you’ve probably noticed I’ve been digging into my archive again making some really old private posts public. These are posts where I generally no longer own the show in question so I’m doing a bit of searching to find a new link before I post. Sometimes I find one, sometimes I don’t. But I’ve come across a couple of new-to-me sites with some cool bootleg downloads.

Long Live Led Zeppelin: The name says it all. Lots of Led Zep for your listening pleasure.

r/Nirvana: Reddit post that has a bunch of Nirvana shows. Not all the links work but many still do.

Live Nirvana: I don’t think this site has any downloads but it is a treasure trove of information for Nirvana fans.

Foreign Film February: Micmacs (2009)

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While working at a video store, Bazil (Danny Boon) is hit in the head by a stray bullet. The surgeons decide to leave it inside his skull for removing it might cause brain damage. Leaving it in may eventually cause it to lodge deeper into his brain, killing him, but it is worth the risk. As a boy, Bazil’s father was killed by a land mine.

Once released from the hospital, Danny finds that the video store has replaced him. Homeless, he wanders the streets of Paris until, one day, he is greeted by Slammer (Jean-Pierre Marielle) who takes him to his clubhouse located in the bowels of a junkyard. There he introduces him to a group of misfits who scavenge the city for their livelihoods.

One day Bazil realizes that the company that made the bullet that is still lodged in his head sits across the street from the company that made the land mines that killed his father. A plan is hatched to have his revenge on the owners of both companies.

Micmacs was directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and it has all of his hallmarks as a filmmaker – it blends fantastic elements into an otherwise normal story, its characters are full of odd-ball quirks, it is adventurous, funny, and romantic. His visual style is all over it as well.

Like a lot of non-French speakers, I suppose, I first came to Jeanuet’s films through Amelie, his beautiful and charming 2001 film starring Audrey Tautou and Mathieu Kassovitz. I immediately fell in love. I then went back and watched his earlier, darker films Delicatessen and City of Lost Children. Loved them and became a big fan. But because he is French and the films he’s made since Amelie have not been as popular his films have become increasingly difficult to find and watch over here. They’ve also not been as good.

Micmacs is a good example of what I mean. It has most of the ingredients that usually make for a good Jeanuet film. It is filled with quirky characters and humorous incidents, there is a little action and a little romance, but it never quite gels. The biggest problem comes from how the characters feel like their quirks and not actual people. They are even named after their quirks – Elastic Girl, Calculator, Buster, and so on. They are all interesting and performed well but we don’t get to know them. Jeanuet films are always filled with these types of characters and quirks and after a while, that cuteness wears a little thing.

There is a lot to like about the film. Bazil’s attempts to get revenge are ridiculous in their complexity and wonderfully fun in the way the film pulls them off. The characters might not be fully realized but they are enjoyable to watch. Etc.

If you’ve never seen a Jeunet film then I’d start with Amelie (or Delicatessen if you are not romantic at heart). Then I’d move to the films surrounding Amelie and once those are exhausted, and if you decide you are a fan, I’d move to Micmacs and his later works.

File Factory Links: February 6, 2023

Has anyone used a WeTransfer pro account? They say they offer unlimited storage for $19/month which is a really good price. But I’ve never seen anyone use them other than the free accounts where the links expire after 7 days. As a downloader, those expiring links work really well. I find WeTransfer downloads to be really fast and they’ve never given me any problems, but I’m curious to how well they work for pro accounts.

I can’t seem to stop looking for alternatives to File Factory and Google Drive.

But for now here are this week’s File Factory links.

More Pickups

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My daughter has outgrown dolls. My wife, however, has grown into them. She learned to sew probably 15 years ago. She used to make herself various outfits, but once my daughter was born she began exclusively making her dresses. But my daughter no longer likes dresses (she prefers black pants and hoodies now) and so my wife has started making clothes for the dolls. She’s really gotten into it and even has an Instagram account for it (and she would be thrilled with more followers if you are into that sort of thing) She does a great job, even if I find the whole grownups play with dolls thing a little bit strange.

Anyway, there is a little toy shop that she likes to go to for bargains on Barbies and accessories. She wanted to go today and we made a family outing of it. They have other collectibles and other random stuff. I found a copy of Pitch Black and Fargo Season 2. Pitch Black is a surprisingly good little sci-fi/horror film that briefly made me think Vin Diesel was a good actor. Fargo is a terrific television show based on the wonderful Coen Brothers movie of the same name. Or at least the first two seasons are excellent, I still haven’t seen past that.

Afterward, we dropped by a Goodwill and I picked up The Black Box and The Running Man. I recently watched Bosch, the TV series, and quite liked it so I’ve been reading the Michael Connely books the series was based on. I’ve only read a couple of them but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read. I’ve only been into Stephe King for a few years now but I am steadily working my way through them and I always buy the ones I don’t have at any used store we visit.

Spa is a comic book that I’ll be reviewing soon. It is utterly bizarre and it doesn’t make much logical sense, but the artwork is really interesting (and bizarre and horrifying).

Have you all picked up anything interesting lately?

Foreign Film February: The Bicycle Thieves (1948)

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The Bicycle Thieves is generally considered one of the greatest films ever made. It topped the Sight & Sound (often considered the best, or most important of these types of polls) list in 1952, the first time they made a poll. It has since slipped further and further down that list, but it is still highly regarded amongst critics directors and cinephiles.

It has been on my list of films to watch for a very long time, but I’ve always put it off. It has always seemed to me to be a film that would be difficult to watch – in that way important films can sometimes feel like homework. I knew I’d need to be in the right mood to watch it and that mod never seemed to come. It is part of and is often considered the best example of, the Italian Neorealism movement. As the name implies these are films that were designed to be as realistic as possible. They were shot on location, used non-professional actors, were generally about the working class, and dealt with social and political themes.

I am not the biggest fan of the genre. Cinema works best to me when it is, at least somewhat, unrealistic. I don’t necessarily mean it needs to be pure fantasy or science fiction. Simple plots about real people can still bedazzle us with unique camera movements, or music, or stylistic choices. I love the cinematic aspects of cinema and so a more naturalistic handle on the material isn’t as interesting to me. I don’t want to belabor that point, as I could come up with plenty of naturalistic films that I love, but The Bicycle Thieves’ neorealism is one of the things that kept me from watching it.

Until today.

Like almost every film that is universally beloved, I liked The Bicycle Thieves quite a lot. There is a reason certain films are considered the best of the best, and it is rare that I really dislike any of them. But I definitely didn’t love this one.

The plot is simple. In post-war Italy Antonio (Lamberto Maggiorani) is desperate for work He stands in line with dozens of others every day hoping the employment office will have something for him. On this day it does, he’s offered a job putting up advertisement posters throughout Rome. But he needs a bike, it is necessary for the job.

Antonio has a bike, but it was pawned. His wife tears off the sheets from their bed and folds most of their linen up. They take it to the pawn shop and sell it. The camera follows the worker as he climbs a ladder and places their linen in a huge pile with hundreds of other sheets they have purchased. They use the money to buy back the bike (which likewise is in the shop next to a long line of other bikes. Pawning one’s stuff is necessary for so many just to survive another day.)

She visits a Wise Woman, kind of a fortune teller, to pay her respects since earlier the Woman had told her that he would get a job. Antonio leaves the bike in the street and follows her up. We expect the bike to be gone when he returns but the film is playing with us, the bike is still there. It does get stolen on the first day on the job. While Antonio is putting glue on the poster a young man swipes it.

The rest of the film follows Antonio and his young son as they wander the streets of Rome looking for it. They go to the police but all they can do is take a report. His friend shows him some open-air markets where thieves often try to sell stolen bikes. He eventually runs into the thief but without proof that he stole the bike, there is nothing anyone can do. As the day goes on Antonio gets increasingly desperate and exasperated.

I won’t spoil the ending but the final moments are incredibly moving.

Director Vittorio De Sica shoots the film naturalistically. He shot on location in Rome. All of the actors were not professionals. The camera acts as an observer and there is nothing splashy about any of the filmmaking. It is a simple story told simply. This was startling to audiences at the time who had grown accustomed to the style and glitz of Hollywood films. It was exciting to see a film stripped down to its essence. Or so I’m told. Watching it now, that excitement has been washed away. What we’re left with is a very nice story, one that can be quite moving even. But not one I’ll be voting for as the best ever made.

I will admit that had I watched it in a different way my feelings may be different. Had I watched it in a movie theater where I could pay sole attention to it instead of my bedroom where distractions abounded I might have tuned into its simple pleasures more. Or were I in a different headspace I may have found the story more emotionally engaging. But for now, I can only recognize that it is a good film, but perhaps not entirely for me.

The Friday Night Horror Movie C.H.U.D. (1984)

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The 1980s were a wild time for horror movies. The advent of home video and the rise of cable/satellite TV meant a massive uptick in potential viewership. No longer did low-budget horror movies have to rely on midnight movie screenings in large cities to make their money, there were now thousands of movie rental houses looking to fill up their shelf space, and dozens of new cable channels with time to fill. Horror Hounds have never let low budgets or shoddy effects keep them from watching a movie and so the 1980s were filled to the brim with horror movies of all shapes and sizes being churned out in straight-to-video releases.

C.H.U.D. actually received a theatrical release (at least in a limited capacity) and had a not terribly tiny budget of $1.25 million, but it is very much a movie of the ’80s. John Heard and Daniel Stern star as fashion photographers and soup kitchen operator who begin an investigation of the disappearance of numerous NYC homeless people. Stern’s character notices that the missing people were all underground dwellers, those who live in the various tunnels underneath the city.

At the same time, Bosch (Christopher Curry) a police Captain begins his own investigation despite the protests of his boss and a Nuclear Regulatory Commission goon (George Martin) both of whom are trying to cover up the disappearances.

What they find under the city are killer mutants known as C.H.U.D.s (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers) which – surprise surprise – were caused by the NRC goon dumping all kinds of industrial waste in those underground tunnels. It is all very silly and kind of dumb, but also charming in its own way.

It also stars Kim Greist (in her film debut) as Heard’s wife. She manages to be a surprisingly tough character who fights off the mutants with a sword. John Goodman, Jay Thomas, and Jon Polito also have minor roles.