Sunday, January 22, 2017
By no stretch of the imagination is Roger Corman's Death Race 2050 a good movie, but it was released this week (streaming on Netflix at the moment), and I needed some campy satire to wrap up this particular moment in American political history. You guys be you, I'll still enjoy some barely concealed hostility hidden beneath a thin veneer of comedy and allegory wrapped up in a decidedly trashy movie.
I still like a good B-movie. Heck, a film-loving co-worker asked me what I recommended that I'd seen lately and my two answers were Tower (not a B-movie) and Starcrash. While I always like the unintentionally hilarious bad movie, Roger Corman has made making lower-tier films an artform and routinely pushed what's possible in movies thanks to an interesting mix of inventiveness, a certainty no one is watching all that closely, and a certain fearless stunt filmmaking. Sure, sometimes the product is bad (well, all the time). The politics can be almost confusing as you grapple with stereotypes of race or class mixed with stereotype breaking and shattering.
But, hey, I couldn't sleep well growing up, and trashy movies were there for me. I may be the only person you know who owns a copy of Reform School Girls.
Friday, January 20, 2017
A lot of us folks on the left are a bit apoplectic about the way things have shaken out over the past six months or so.
We can agree to disagree on a great many things, and, hey, I live in Texas, so I know something about not necessarily being a fan of decisions going on in your government and still living peaceably and getting along with folks who don't agree with you on every detail. But the new guy and his clowncar of billionaire oligarchs aren't really what a lot of us had in mind when we were sitting in civics class.
Feeling in a bit of a black mood about the whole state of affairs, and pondering a lot of the statements made by nigh-every Trump supporter we've seen interviewed, we decided to put on Idiocracy, the curiously prescient 2006 comedy by Mike Judge.
If the idea of ending the Timothy Dalton experiment was to shore up the Bond franchise again, one can certainly make an argument that it worked. This was the Bond film that brought in Pierce Brosnan as Bond, got Martin Campbell in as a director, and more than anything else that would point toward what a modern Bond could be in tone - casting Dame Judy Dench as M.
I'm a little bit convinced that the rethinking that led to Casino Royale may well have come from what M reveals about Bond to his face in her brief appearance in the film. In a movie of very good moments, for a wide variety of reasons, Dench's scenes are the most grounded and somehow still the most engaging, and it's also the best Brosnan himself is at any point in the movie - and he's rather good throughout.
GoldenEye arrived in 1995 as The Age of the Blockbuster took a leap forward, and Bond was no longer to be an option on the marquee. Now, we all had to go see Brosnan, whom every American had pegged for the heir to the Bond throne from his first appearances on Remington Steele.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
We all have actors we may not seek out, necessarily, but it's a huge bonus when they show up in anything. Indeed, they make whatever they appear in at least five times better.
Since my mom dropped me off (way too young) to go see RoboCop, I've been a fan of actor Miguel Ferrer. I didn't know his actual name until college, he was "that guy from RoboCop, yeah, Bob Morton", but in the years since, and since Jamie has been around since college, she's heard the phrase "oh, hell, yeah. Miguel Ferrer" on innumerable occasions whenever I realize he is in a movie we're considering watching or his name pops up in the credits.
Fortunately for me, far as I know, Jamie shares my appreciation for Miguel Ferrer.
His mother and father (Rosemary Clooney and Jose Ferrer) were extraordinarily famous in their era, and not too many children of power couples manage to reach the levels of success Miguel Ferrer achieved. Or, you know, the place in the hearts of cinephiles and genre-geeks.
I straight up think he's a terrific actor, and while he wasn't often the leading man, he was a force on screen. I can only imagine what he was like in life.
Unfortunately, it seems Miguel Ferrer passed today after a battle with cancer. I had no idea he was ill, and I'm deeply sorry for his friends and family. He went far too soon.
Let's enjoy him as Bob Morton together, shall we?
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
You likely haven't heard of Pete Marston. He was the son of William Moulton Marston - aka: Charles Moulton - aka: the creator of Wonder Woman. Pete passed away today at the age of 87. He didn't have any professional association with DC Comics or Wonder Woman, but he did have a strong affection for the Amazing Amazon.
I am mostly aware of Mr. Marston through the website The Wonder Woman Network, which featured an extensive photogallery of Pete's private museum and a lot of pictures of visitors from all over, including Ms. Lynda Carter.
If I ever wanted to feel like my Wonder Woman collection was a reasonable size, I could always visit The Wonder Woman Network page. Also, Mr. Marston looked so cheery in his picture with Ms. Carter.
While I am very sorry to hear Mr. Marston has passed, I salute him for (a) having an astoundingly great WW collection, and (b) carrying the torch for his parents' legacy, as both are known to have contributed to the character and her mythos. I'm glad he knew Wonder Woman was still beloved as much (or more) in 2017 as any other time.
I just wish he'd been able to see the Wonder Woman movie coming soon.
For a quick gallery of pictures of his collection, click here.
Monday, January 16, 2017
Eugene "Gene" Cernan has passed at the age of 82.
His early career included time as a Naval Aviator, and he earned degrees as an undergraduate from Purdue and a Masters in Aeronautical Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.
An astronaut of the Gemini and Apollo era, Cernan was pilot of Apollo 10 and Commander of Apollo 17. As was widely remarked in the press today, Cernan was the last human to have stepped foot on the lunar surface.
Cernan also pulled the "Snoopy" landing module out of a deadly spin during the Apollo 10 descent - which was never intended to land, just see how all that would work on Apollo 11 when someone finally did touch down.
Somehow Cernan's name has been better known than many other astronauts, at least in my mind, and that may be due to his continuing participation and advocacy for the space program and his frequent appearances on television.
Buddy JuanD has alerted me to a documentary about Cernan, Last Man on the Moon, which we hope to watch very soon.
Here's to an American hero.
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984) was the second Trek movie I saw, the first being Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I expect we saw it in 1985 as we watched it on television - either VHS or on cable, so I would have already been very familiar with the cast of characters by this point as 1984 was the year I discovered Trek reruns on our local UHF channel, KBVO.
I liked the movie then, and I was delighted to find I thoroughly enjoyed it all over again. Frankly, it's been forever since I'd seen this movie despite the fact it came with the Star Trek BluRay set Jamie gave me a few years ago for Christmas, and I didn't have particularly great memories of it from the last time I'd seen it, which could have been fifteen years ago. At the time, I mostly just relished Christopher Lloyd as a Klingon ship's captain who is not so clever as he believes and is simply outclassed by Kirk and Co.
But there's a lot to recommend The Search for Spock. It's a movie that does a fine job of raising stakes, having some fairly dark implications, but is eternally, against all odds, optimistic as our heroes fight bureaucracy, Klingons and the forces of nature for the sake of a friend. And you can't get better than that.
Sunday, January 15, 2017
The past, oh, six years of reading Superman comics has not been the easiest of rides, and I'm not sure DC Comics is making any of this any easier to deal with in the long-run with the current convoluted decisions. But, for the moment, I am very much enjoying both Superman and Action Comics as much or more than I have enjoyed the monthlies at any point since I became a regular reader (which is later in life than you'd think, but creeping up on twenty years now).
CanadianSimon hit me up to point me to an article featuring the new look for Superman that's coming soon in the comics. Rather than overload his email with responses, he's getting a blog post as I think a bit about the past few years and DC's many attempts to land on a new suit.
Saturday, January 14, 2017
It's literally impossible to imagine this movie getting made in the last ten years. A studio film that's a musical wherein the leads are actually lip-synching to mostly tin pan alley versions of 1930's era songs, and, by the way, it's more or less a depressing late-1970's story that maybe is deconstructing the conventions of the movie musical. Cheerfully titled Pennies From Heaven (1981) and starring the lovable duo from The Jerk, Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters.
We wanted to see it as The Alamo Drafthouse had included clips in the La La Land pre-show as a modern musical we might not have seen. And I was curious why I had heard of the movie, but it's not discussed much and I don't recall anyone ever telling me to check it out.
I think if I'd been clued into any of this before the movie, I might have enjoyed it more than I did. But I spent the first thirty minutes trying to figure out what I was even looking at, and then adjusting to what they were doing.