|Not actually a set pic. This is just Traci Lords on a Thursday.|
Saturday, July 2, 2022
Friday, July 1, 2022
I love the novel A Princess of Mars, by Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs. It's some bat-shit sci-fi-fantasy that's wildly imaginative, weird, violent and romantic in the way that would have deeply satisfied me at age 13.
A while back (2012), Disney had its famous catastrophe with John Carter, a several hundred million dollar adaptation of the book(s). But that book is out of copyright, and three years before that bomb hit the screen, our friends at The Asylum, grabbed Antonio Sabato Jr. and someone we don't talk about nearly enough, Traci Lords, and they went out to the Vasquez Rocks and made a movie.
I've only seen about thirty minutes of this back in 2009, but it always stuck with me. And not just because it features Traci Lords. I felt like, hey - this is them kinda trying. It's still The Asylum, so, you know, it's got it's quirks.
- Day: Friday July 1
- Time: 8:30 Central
- Service: Amazon
- Cost: $2
Friday - Click Here to Leap Into Adventure
Thursday, July 16, 2020
Format: Criterion BluRay
Director: Byron Haskin
War of the Worlds (1953) the movie and the Mercury Theatre radio play from 1938 are so baked into my formative years, they're alongside Superman, King Kong, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and other popular fictions that make up the mythology and common language for a lot of born in the shadow of the mid-20th Century.
I saw the movie after buying and listening to the Orson Welles radio program when my dad found out I was interested in the radio show and the events surrounding it that I'd read about in a magazine. My dad, always one to say "if you liked that, you need to check out this", got me to the video store within a few days and we sat down and watched it together.
What's remarkable is how genuinely *thrilled* I was by the movie, in both senses of the word. The movie only has one or two quasi-jump scares, but - as was the novel (which I finally read about 15 years ago) and the radio show - the movie is so relentless in putting all of Earth on its heels, from the moment the three pals approach the ship waving a white flag onto get atomized, it's some weird viewing. There's no brilliant but dangerous plan to be enacted that defeats the aliens - humanity loses this one.
As I've pitched the movie - in the middle of a pandemic, it's a lovely reminder of the time germs were our friends.
Lovingly restored by Paramount and just released by Criterion, War of the Worlds is a movie geek's dream. There's so many technical aspects to the movie worth discussing, from the original three-strip technicolor to the construction of the Martian crafts, to the myriad visual effects, matte paintings and absolutely perfect sound effects - an army of character actors, and two leads who've somewhat otherwise fallen through the cracks of film nostalgia - it's an amazing technical achievement, done so well it holds up as a visual masterpiece. And, in fact, with this restoration, is just an astonishingly crafted, visually beautiful film.
If the last time you've seen the movie was from the 2005 re-release, run (don't walk!) to watch this version, which recovers the original color palette employed in almost punchy candy colors, restores the visual effects to maximum effectiveness, and has cleaned up audio and re-created sound effects by no less than Ben Burtt.
The movie features the typically generous collection of extra features that get me to pay the entry fee for Criterion discs. There are a few documentaries, the 1938 radio drama, an interview from San Antonio's KTSA with Orson Welles and HG Wells, and more.
The movie itself is just as gripping as ever. From small town America to the final scenes in the fall of Los Angeles, it's anchored by focal characters Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry) and Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson) - a scientist and professor of Library Science, who happened to be there when one of the initial craft came down and are there throughout. And, of course, there's a romance a-bloomin' between the two. Through Barry and Robinson, we get the realization of the horror of the situation, but the still very human need for connection in the darkest hour. A parable for any time, really.
If you've never seen the movie - now is the time! This restoration is utterly remarkable. If you have seen it but it's been a while - do it for the same reason and to remind yourself of one of the md-20th Century's finest technical filmic achievements, and to get all the bonus materials from Criterion.
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Saturday, October 14, 2017
It's kind of funny that in this post and the last, I'm referring to movies referenced in my own title banner, but there you have it.
I checked, and it has been a while since I last watched George Pal's 1953 movie of War of the Worlds. A number of years now, in fact.
My interest was piqued by the idea of a Martian invasion in 6th or 7th grade when I learned about Orson Welles' and the Mercury Theater's 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast - which supposedly caused a panic (sort of, but not really). Click on the link and listen. It's a hell of a show.
Shortly after all this, around the age of 12, The Admiral found out I wanted to watch the original movie, and so he and I rented it and I think it was just the two of us who watched it.
Honestly, despite the fact it was not a gore fest or built on the tension-making trip wires of, say Ridley Scott's Alien, that movie scared the hell out of me.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
|way more effort went into this graphic than I want to admit|
2016. It seems so far away now. Heck, Christmas was, like, two years ago at this point. But let us remember that all too vital part of all of our lives - TELEVISION.
Oh, you don't own a television? You haven't had cable in ten years? Well, la di dah, mister fancy pants. Some of us stay in touch with the people.
Between cable, internet streaming options and sports, it was certainly a year in which I watched a metric ton of TV. You couldn't not be told you had to watch this show or that show by your friends or co-workers. And some of them you didn't try, some of them you watched and didn't like and just prayed they'd never ask about whether you'd tried it or not, and some of it was maybe not the best thing but you still tuned in. And some of it you set your schedule around watching.
Here's a quick rundown of some of what we watched:
Saturday, December 3, 2016
Thursday night Jamie and I met up with SimonUK for a Fathom Events screening of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964). Way, way back in 2012 I watched the movie on BluRay to review the film for Texas Public Radio, and so I see no real need to write the film up again. I'm actually weirdly proud of that review and I don't have much to add.
The screening was actually a RiffTrax performance from 2013, rebroadcast as part of a double-bill with a whole bunch of holiday shorts - originally broadcast in 2009. And as much as I like RiffTrax at home, it can be pretty fun in a theater with lots of other folks, too.
Monday, October 31, 2016
Sunday, February 28, 2016
Last year we read Andy Weir's novel, The Martian, and watched the movie starring Matt Damon. So, we're well covered in writing about both movie and book.
I am happy to say that the movie still holds up, and, with many more months separated between book and movie, the details that were different didn't bother me as much. If anything, I'm still confused with the casting of Mackenzie Davis as someone I think we all believed to be Korean-American, and with the benefit of the extras on the BluRay, it's very clear that they cut a lot around Kristen Wiig, who seemed weirdly cast in the movie (she just didn't have much to do).
I'm a little frustrated in my personal life that there is still no model of the Hermes, the amazing spacecraft transporting the crew between Earth and Mars, for me to buy online. What up with that, licensing people?
|This would look great on my bookshelf.|
So, yeah, give me my damn Hermes model.
Sunday, October 11, 2015
On Saturday we headed out to the Alamo to see The Martian (2015) in 3D directed by Ridley Scott and featuring a busload of name actors - headlined by Matt Damon as astronaut Mark Watney. As one would expect, the movie has some changes from the novel, cuts a lot in order to work as a movie (and for time), and makes some extremely minor plot changes. But, in general, like a lot of book-to-movie translations of the past decade of newer, very popular books, there's a tremendous fidelity to the source material (funny how it only took movies a century to figure out people liked for these things to match).
Just like the book, the movie is about a Mars mission in the very near future which experiences a surprise weather event which surpasses expectations in terms of severity and thus threatens the crew NASA protocol insists that the crew scrub, get to their launch vehicle, escape to their orbiting spacecraft, and return home. As the crew leaves their base, Biologist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is struck by a piece of loosed debris - the antenna - and is sent hurling over a hill, his bio signs offline. Presumed dead, the crew takes off, leaving Watney on the planet's surface.
Watney re-awakens to find himself alone, with no means of communication with Earth, and supplies in the "hab" will account for only a short amount of time on the planet. And the lack of moisture, and living in a structure that was never intended to last forever against the Martian environment are just the start of his woes.
The loss of an astronaut is a disaster for NASA, and Watney is given a hero's funeral, but within days, a staffer at NASA notices evidence of Watney's survival on satellite photos of the base and things back at NASA and JPL go into overdrive.
Thursday, August 27, 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015
When the trailer hit for the soon-to-be-in-theaters Ridley Scott directed version of The Martian, it was absolutely the sort of thing I like seeing, and I got pretty excited. I was a big fan of Interstellar, and I even really liked Gravity, warts and all. And as much as I like strange visitors from other worlds-type scientifiction, I also get pretty jazzed about fictional takes or speculative takes on plain old science and technology. Mix that with the space program, like the two movies I just mentioned, and you've sold a couple of tickets to the occupants of my household.
You've got a few weeks before the movie arrives, and I highly recommend checking out the book prior to the film's release. It's not that I think Matt Damon and Co. will do a bad job - I'm a big fan of Damon (have you seen the Bourne movies?). It's that the book is really good and reads really fast. I'd started the book just over a week ago, and recommended it to Jamie. She started and finished it all today. So, there's a context clue for you (and she also cleaned out the cupboard. I think she bent time.).
I listened to the audiobook, which takes longer, of course, but it more than filled the commute and back I had to Arlington, Texas this week.
If you haven't seen the trailer - and I'm not spoiling anything - an astronaut is delivering his first log entry after an accident occurred during an emergency evacuation of a Mars mission. He'd been stuck through by part of a loose antenna in a wind storm, and then blown over a hill, his suit's life signs reading nil. Of course, he wasn't dead, but the crew was forced to leave him, and now he's stuck on Mars, with no way to contact home, the next mission coming to the planet in 4 years, and only enough supplies for 6 people for about a month.
And yet, it's the most optimistic book I've read in years. Maybe ever.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
When I get through the first week, I'll post some personal and professional observations as someone who (a) has read comics for a long, long time - including a good chunk of the assigned reading, (b) who actually does care about gender representations in media - but maybe not in a particularly prescribed way, and (c) who worked in distance education for a decade before moving on to digital libraries. As bonus featurea (d) I already went through five years of undergraduate education in narrative media studies, and (d) I sort of have my opinions regarding scholarly writing when it comes to social criticism, so... it's turning out to be an interesting experience already.
It's going to be a long post, and only, likely, I will care about it, so... look for THAT.
Speaking of gender in comics and pop-culture, yesterdays post on why it's okay for Power Girl to have a "boob window" got a fair number of hits. By that, I mean, we were around 95 last I checked, which is, like, HUGE for this site. I never know what's going to get traffic. I fully expected upwards of 18 clicks.
I am making a commitment to just admit I am going to just read all the Richard Stark novels and nothing else that is not a comic until I finish the Parker and Grofield series. And then I have, literally, ten books to get through.
- I'm about a quarter way through the Larry Tye Superman book Nathan gave me, so that might get read while I work through the Stark novels.
- Dark City Dames by Eddie Muller - a book with bios of a handful of noir sirens, including sections on Audrey Totter and Marie Windsor
- Altered Carbon - as recommended by Steven
- the next three Barsoom novels starting with Thuvia, Maid of Mars
- Doc Savage, Man of Bronze - personally recommended by no less than Chris Roberson
- The Big Screen - a non-fiction book on the history of cinema
- The Killer Inside Me and After Dark, My Sweet, that I've been putting off for, literally, almost twenty years
- the new Glenn Wheldon Superman book
- a Dashiell Hammett collection
As I said on the Facebooks today, I need more time to read.
So, no recommendations for a bit. My plate is full.
Jamie's birthday is passed, and mine is next Friday, so if you're around and want a cocktail, email me. We may be doing something about drinks on the 13th.
We have a yearly cycle that starts at Halloween and ends with my birthday. Really, from Halloween, it's something every few weeks, including Valentine's Day, then March - the months of birthdays, etc... And, of course, Easter and Mother's Day take us into May. At this point I'm used to it, but it does seem like it compresses time into the various observances. Summer has become my holiday from holidays, except for July 4th, which includes explosions and hamburgers and is thus becoming one of my favorite holidays.
My folks are headed back to Kenya for missionary work/ putting eyeglasses on Kenyans. Always proud of them in their volunteer efforts.
Mad Men Season 6 starts Sunday night, so, leave a brother alone while he does his thing.
Friday, January 4, 2013
So, the actual experience of deciding to blog every movie for a year was sort of in line with other "for a year I shall..." plans I've had. Like the year I went vegetarian, just to be difficult. Yes, I did this.
Honestly, I think I was probably way down on number of movies viewed this past year. I don't know how many movies people normally watch, but I know that for the first time in 5 years, my attendance at the Alamo and Paramount this summer was significantly lower than usual.
All that also took a financial toll in past years, and I've been cutting back on Alamo visits to try to better maintain our finances. I'm guessing I still hit the movies more than the average bear, but it did feel like a down year for being at the theater, but maybe I made up for that in Cable viewership and watching home video.
Monday, November 26, 2012
While the Lifetime and Hallmark networks will duke it out for weeks ahead of Christmas, airing competing schmaltzy movies in which divorcees find love under the mistletoe, there has long been a tradition of quickly and cheaply produced Christmas movies intended for the kiddies. These movies usually assume that no adult will even attempt to watch the flick, and so all bets are off when it comes to bothering with appealing to anyone with more than two digits in their age.
To better understand the pleasantly cynical take on making some green during your White Christmas, it is not hard to imagine an entrepreneur sitting on his cot, looking up at the ceiling and trying to make two things kids like go together into one entirely new package. In our case, the space race is on, and, heck, who doesn’t like Santa?
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
On October 30th, 1938, the Mercury Theater performed a radio show adaptation of HG Wells' War of the Worlds. I expect that most of you will have heard of this presentation.
On the eve of Halloween, 1938 - war brimming over in Europe, Asia in chaos, science and engineering on the march despite a decade of financial instability - Americans tuned into the radio for their after dinner relaxation. Sure, everyone knew Halloween was coming, but like the first April Fool's joke sprung on you each year, it may not be the first thing on your mind.
The broadcast was the one that supposedly set the nation into a panic and had people driving around, shooting at water towers and running from imaginary space men. It also ended in folks calling for the head of Orson Welles - well before he decided not to sell any wine before its time or voice the monster planet in the Transformers Movie.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Monday, August 6, 2012
|Let's get this party started!|
Man. It wasn't enough that I got to watch Usain Bolt win the 100m again, but UT alum Sonya Richards-Ross won the Gold in the Women's 400m.
I also watched a man with prosthetic limbs race in an Olympic foot race.
But after watching the Twitter Feed for the Mars Curiosity Rover the past couple of months, Curiosity came down successfully on the surface of our sister planet, Mars.
You guys, we live in the future.
I haven't gotten teary during the Olympics. I've done my fair share of yelling and cheering and chanting "go go go go go go go" while watching races.
But I admit I got a little choked up watching the JPL crew high-fiving after the news that Curiosity had landed and we received the first images back from the rover.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
But, I am documenting every time I watch a movie this year. And it would seem unfair to not tell you. Yeah, before it left the theater (I assume first run theaters will be dropping the movie from their screens this week), I wanted to see it again.
And, you know, I liked it just as much a second time, if not more after reading the first three Barsoom books. Lots of little bits that are throw-aways from the book, or book-accurate bits like the hand-on-shoulder greeting among allies, radium shells from the Thark rifles, what a royal @#$%* Sarkoja can be...
Anyway, it would have been nice to see where they wanted to go with the sequels, especially as they took such an incredible number of liberties with the source material. At least I would have been kept guessing. At its core, the movie remains true to each character they represent, even if there's no appearance of Phaidor while we see Matai Shang, etc... and so its not that hard for me to reconcile the differences.
I'll shut up about John Carter for a bit.
I will say, of the three, Warlord is, perhaps, the silliest of three fairly ridiculous novels. Now, when I say the books are ridiculous, these novels are hyperbolic, escapist adventure fantasy. Its the predecessor to Flash Gordon and Conan by several years, each, and helped launch both genres. While interesting themes and ideas present themselves in the three books, you'd be hard pressed to say that Edgar Rice Burroughs was pushing an agenda beneath the layers of the Barsoom novels, or that he was seeking to impart a subversive message or pat himself on the back for writing a very important book. But that doesn't mean they aren't pretty wild fun, and don't work surprisingly well in the context of the modern action enthusiast.
But it can get silly. Warlord features at least two instance where our hero goes undercover in iffy disguises, knocks himself out more than once, and routinely has to explain that maybe he isn't much of a thinker as he apologizes to the reader for not having a particularly good reason why he has once again pitched himself into a fight that maybe didn't need to happen (while suggesting he thinks to think too hard about these things is sort of for jerks, anyway). In some ways, John Carter is the Jack Burton of his time and place. He's a reasonable man caught up in unreasonable circumstances.
|Hail to the king, baby|