Day after day, week after week, rain and threat of rain. It’s starting to get to me. I’ve only done maybe five or six bike trips so far this year, which is unacceptable by this point. Otherwise, just stress broken up with movies and books. Woot.
I got in a few more episodes of Fraggle Rock. I’m in season 3 now, and the quality has not dropped. I continue to be impressed by the show’s solid foundation in basic morality without being too preachy or condescending. Truly one of the greatest youth oriented shows I’ve experienced.
Star Trek: First Contact: “This far. No farther!” Picard faces his Khan, the Borg, in this darned exciting and action packed film. This should have been the first movie for the Next Gen crew, instead of the wishy-washy, gutless and stupid Generations. After the Hugh episode of Next Gen pretty much eviscerated the Borg, making them little more than a bumbling bunch of communist thugs, First Contact made them scary and menacing again. And oddly, by putting a ‘human face’ on them, helped to make them less human. The so called Borg Queen is, I think, a manifestation of the species’ intellect as opposed to its leader. As she says, you see disparity where there is none. She is the Borg. And she drips with sexual menace and Vaseline, becoming an all consuming fertility goddess, a bottomless hunger that consumes all. The Borg are obviously the dark side of the potentials of cybernetics. But they are not evil, simply alien. Along the way, we also see the story of the fist warp vessel launched by a backyard astronaut-entrepreneur. The movie looks great, it moves fast, has some really good moments, and a solid story. I know everyone is about Star Trek II, but First Contact remains my favorite of the franchise’s films.
House on the Edge of the Park: Well, that was unpleasant. A film that makes beautiful women taking their clothes off difficult for me to watch. I guess that’s something. David Hess is hard to look at. Don’t.
As I’ve said before, I grew up in the late 70s and 80s, in the shadow of the Cold War, but also during a fairly tectonic shift in technology and its democratization. The personal computer, the early days of what would become the internet, the explosion of prosthesis, transplants, and implants. It was pretty wild. Every year felt more and more like I was living in a new age, a science fictional world. Part of that shift was captured in a somewhat short lived, but key movement in science fiction literature that I felt attuned to then, and still hold a special place in my heart for now. Cyberpunk. It was a movement born of and reflective of its time, a specifically 80s thing, though ripples of its influences continue to wash through books and movies and culture. All that is just to bring up that I randomly picked the cyberpunk anthology Mirrorshades off the shelf this week and read the story Snake-Eyes by Tom Maddox. Darned fine and cool tale. Reading about the protagonist and his desire to experience the strange reminded me of myself. I think my friends think I’m kidding when I say I want to get 360 degree vision, or the ability to shift my perception through various spectra, or just that I want mechanical legs. But I’m not. Not at all. And here is a character after my own heart, as he struggles with what it means to have these implants within him, unleashing his primitive impulses. I also like that the story isn’t about ‘tech bad/bio good’ or ‘instinct bad/logic good.’ It’s about the dangers of technology and the benefits, and its about balancing the deepest and most base lusts with the rational control of civilized Man. I’m all about that. Good stuff.
The Last Dragon: “Shonuff!” Oh, man. What the heck is up with this movie? It’s funny (sometimes intentionally) and weird as all get-out. Bruce Leroy. Vanity. Young William H. Macy. It’s some kind of alternative 1985, fueled by coke, neon, and awful post-funk Motown. The acting is truly inspired. And something about Bruce Leroy running around in that rice farmer’s hat seems racist. I’m not sure how, but it feels racist. Vanity really was cute, though. Talentless, but cute. So, when the Shogun of Harlem is giving you some guff, you just call Bruce Leroy with his Power of the Glow. This movie is what the Double Dragon film should have been like.
Cat-women of the Moon: “You‘re too smart for me, baby. I like ‘em stupid.” I’m not sure if I’d seen this before, or if it’s so typical of the genre that it just felt that way. Chicks in unitards hide out in the ruins of an ancient civilization. The usual battle of the sexes crap. A bunch of near-immortal sex kittens need to learn what wholesome and slightly dim American men can do for them. It’s fine, but pretty by the numbers. But hey, it’s short.
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid: “I got my shotgun full of 16 thin dimes. Enough to spread you out like a crazy woman’s quilt.” Everybody who was alive when this film was made shows up to look ugly as heck and do evil things to each other Peckinpah style. I’m not a Dylan fan, but his music on this movie isn’t bad, and his extremely affected acting performance is fun. Otherwise, it’s just nasty, nasty, nasty. Oh, and depressing. But it’s also a pretty good flick. Not going on my list of best Westerns, but it’s a good one.
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia: “I been here before and you don’t know the way.” Wow. Ever think you’re just in too good a mood, and want to bring it down a notch? This is the movie for you. A relentlessly grim and angry film, it rages at you with whiskey stinking breath and grime covered hands. You are the white whale, Peckinpah is Ahab, and he’s shooting his heart upon you with his chest cannon. It isn’t the Western I was expecting, though it often feels like one. It’s modern, but dingy and aged, beaten by the sun and spit on by life. I keep thinking of Mister Eddy in Lost Highway with his throat all slashed, gurgling, ‘you and me buddy, we can sure out-ugly them som’bitches.’
Prey: A dumb young woman and her obsessive lady friend are living the life in a secluded English estate, when a bird hating alien shows up looking for lunch. One long, awkward dinner party later, who can tell hunter from prey. This movie has a lot of screeching. The dumb woman screeches a lot. A LOT. Her lady love also screeches…but not as much. Even the alien screeches a bit. Maybe they should have called the film Screech. It’s not a good movie. But it has a dubious charm.
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad: “We may be thieves and murderers…but we are not fools.” One of literature’s great adventure heroes, Sinbad, gets a definitive presentation with this Ray Harryhausen creature packed fantasy film. Like the tales of the Arabian Nights, it is a hodgepodge of traditional stories from various cultures and whole cloth. Kerwin Mathews is an adequate Sinbad (though I prefer John Phillip Law), and Kathryn Grant is adorable as his chosen bride. I notice watching this film, the evil wizard was hardly out of line in his requests for aid. Granted, his reaction is perhaps a touch extreme, but I really do think he was used rather poorly by Sinbad and his sultan.
Friday night and Saturday morning, I read new book The Centrist Manifesto by Charles Wheelan. It’s a solid exploration of the need in American politics for the moderate, centrist elements to stand up and be counted. The first rational call for a serious and useful third party I’ve seen in my lifetime.
I also read the prequel graphic novel Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness that leads into next week’s Star Trek: Into Darkness theatrical release. Can’t say I’m surprised to report it’s not very good. The art is blah, the script is more blah, and the story isn’t interesting. The portrayal of Robert April is straight-up silly. It also does nothing to alive my fears for where they’re taking this new movie. Conspiracy this, war that; fistfight, fistfight, fistfight!
Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island: Fleeing a Confederate prison, some Civil War soldiers end up in a balloon, trapped in a powerful seemingly endless gale that takes them away from any known land. Crash landing on a …mysterious island, they find some danged peculiar things going on. The film works as a kind of sequel to Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and a nice stylistic companion to Journey to the Center of the Earth (though, that makes its lack of James Mason conspicuous). Ray Harryhausen once again creates some very cool creatures to menace our heroes. I love these adventure films.
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad: “My friend, you can not pick up two melons with one hand, and I cannot work miracles.” John Phillip Law is definitely the best Sinbad of the Harryhausen era, and my Caroline Munro fetish can not be denied. Plus, fourth Doctor, Tom Baker as the evil wizard is enjoyably hammy in that stage actor sort of way. Even the supporting characters are more interesting than usual. Lavish production and exotic locations give it a grand fantasy feel. The story is pretty wild and the action solid. Fantasy movies of this much imagination are not unheard of today, but they are rare. I’d like to see more.
One Million Years B.C.: “Errr!” Hammer Studios takes on history in this caveman epic featuring the awe-inspiring body of Raquel Welch and the stop-motion wizardry of Ray Harryhausen. Truth be told, this isn’t a particularly good movie. Its grasp of history is…well, absent. The acting, even without sensible dialog, is not good. It’s pretty much made watchable by Welch (who is infinitely watchable) and the cool creatures. Martine Beswick isn’t too hard on the eyes either, I guess. The music is interesting. Where do you find a village of beautiful blonde spear-fishing cavegirls, anyway? Sweden? Was this filmed on location? I do kind of get Tumak. All Welch’s emotions are weird and she’s kind of clingy. I wonder if the scriptwriter began with ‘two fur bikini-clad women in sweaty cat-fight’ and worked backward from there. That seems about right.
|Where is this film's Oscar?|
And lastly, I started watching the PBS series Secret Files of the Inquisition, a look into the Vatican’s records. The narration and dramatization are well done, though the pacing and editing is a bit weird. It frequently feels like it’s going to commercial, but as it’s from PBS, I assume there wasn’t one. And there’s a lot of unnecessary foreshadowing, often of events about to be described.
|History was AWESOME!|