Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Brief Thought Experiment for Trekkies and Trekkers....

Can anyone out there recall ANY quotable dialogue from Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan Noonian Singh (AKA The World's Whitest Sikh) in the new Star Trek Movie? Now cast your mind back to "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan", be it bombastic or campy or whatever almost every one of Ricardo Montalban's scenes as Khan are infused with memorable lines. He tasks me! He tasks me, and I shall have him! I'll chase him round the Moons of Nibia, and round the Antares Maelstrom, and round Perdition's flames before I give him up! Prepare to alter course!

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Moment of Silence on Memorial Day

For all Absent Friends, the Fallen Soldiers of the United States and in particular PFC Francis Leo Galligan Sr of the 168th Combat Engineers Battalion. *** And just a quick shout out to the Young Marines and Boy Scout Troop #114 of Bedford Ma, they helped out tremendously at the Bedford VA Hospital's annual Memorial Service.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Great Gatsby (2013)

Y'know, ever noticed how Leonardo DiCaprio tends to play these tragic type strivers in the movies? So why wouldn't he play Jay Gatsby...modern lit's quintessential Jazz Age social climber, I mean it's typecasting at this point after J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes and whatziname on the Titanic? As a matter of fact I'm not I'd cast anyone else as Gatsby at this point he has that weird lack of affect that easily matches Fitzgerald's somewhat furtive protagonist. So the real question is, what is to be made of Baz Luhrmann's lurid glitzy party scenes with their liberal doses of rap music and sundry decadence. Me? I'm fine with it, look "The Great Gatsby" is a novel about a striver's failed attempt to penetrate the overclass and carry off a rather hapless inbred bimbo, period end of story. Sans some morbid decadence and a little flash it can fall into endless talk punctuated by drinking and then wrapped up with a fatal car accident & a shooting. If you don't believe me check out the 1949 adaptation starring Alan Ladd wherein someone at Twentieth Century Fox decided F. Scott Fitzgerald's almighty classic was a sort of high end gangster story with a sniffy attitude towards adultery. I liked the performances all around blank affectless Carey Mulligan was j'es fine as Daisy the same goes for Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton and nigh unrecognizable Isla Fisher as the hapless floozie Myrtle Wilson. My main takeaway from the film and book (finally read the book BTW about a month ago) is that the Overclass is decadent depraved and damn near invincible. Jay Gatsby the aspiring bootlegger the feckless lover of the dissolute Daisy is defeated in all things brought down by desperate love and a sense of honor utterly foreign to his rivals in the Gentry. Ah guess dats what make's em' classics I guess. Y'know, there are two classics out there that are just beggin' for adaptation to the films, Melville's Moby Dick and Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, I can see Baz Luhrmann doing well by either work.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Newport Revisited....

Let the record show that Newport RI is no kind of town in which to occasion a flat tire. From bitter experience I can tell you all a flat tire on my part occasioned the intervention of the local police to stay one step ahead of a mob of outraged gallery owners and incensed boulevardiers. Ah but the wealthy are different than you and I, they have more money as the old saw goes. And the very smell of money, like old fermented cherry blossoms virtually permeates the whole town despite every attempt by balmy sea breezes to chase it away even temporarily. Its a town proud of it's Yacht Races ergo NASCAR for Trust Fund Set. And yet I don't think a single one of the vast robber baron estates (ironically called "cottages" by their Gilded Age Owners) was built by any species we'd regard as an Honest Man. It is a town that is prideful and utterly unconcerned with it's own hypocrisy. Here is pictured The Marble House built by William Vanderbilt at the behest of his wife Alva, an outspoken turn of the century suffragette. Alva was a pistol, spent lavishly on the cause of women's rights back when the notion of enfranchisement was a joke...none of this prevented Alva from all but forcing her daughter Consuela to marry the cash strapped Duke of Marlborough in blatant display of 19th century Familial Force Majeure. Or take it another way, Alva the women's rights crusader happily denied her own daughter one of her few inalienable rights all to take sheer social climbing to a New Level. Newport Rhode Island abounds in stories like these...For truly the rich are as rampant in their whims as the poor, that is truly what unites them. Ah but the Cliff Walk is still a tonic for the soul, you can stride along and admire the profane works of prideful man and still worship the pulsing ocean like a proper cro-magnon. It is a beautiful town, but it has a terrible "object lesson" to it's beauty. But if you get a chance, do check out the Naval Warfare College Museum, it virtually starts with Themistocles and ends up with age of remote piloted drones and the Nuclear Navy. Hell thats worth a drive down to Rhode Island any old day.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

So far...

Iron Man Three was a bust and Star Trek Into Darkness a complete bust, I sure do hope that I can see a movie this summer that I can enjoy and champion on line....starting to get worried.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)

It may be that the final downfall of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek can be neatly symbolized by the sudden appearance of peaked military caps on Starfleet uniforms giving Kirk, Spock & McCoy an uncanny resemblance to Amtrak Conductors. Gene Roddenberry's Starfleet, was dedicated to peace, justice, freedom and exploring the universe...and NO HATS! Visored military chapeaus and a sadly superlative cast, seem to be director J.J. Abrams sole contribution to the Star Trek mythos as the rest of this much hyped film consists of "greatest hits" pay off scenes extracted shamelessly from the prior ten Star Trek Features. Loud, frantic and ultimately cautious sums up this film. Having broken with all past practice and successfully recast one of the most iconic sci fi crews in history, given license to do anything with the franchise, director J.J. Abrams retreats into the past trots out the whitest least Sikh like Khan Noonian Singh in history (pasty faced Benedict Cumberbatch) and makes with the CGI chases and firefights. I'm calling it folks, if you want Star Trek to still be Star Trek we are gonna haveta let go of J.J. Abrams, he is making blockbuster movies for the world market, not reviving a real science fiction property. The sad thing is, I love this cast, Chris Pines was born to play Captain Kirk every bit as much as William Shatner, Zachary Quinto has literally found an even finer line dividing logic from emotion than even Leonard Nimoy and Karl Urban IS Doctor McCoy (even if he is largely unforgivably sidelined in this film)...the rest of the actors are amazing in every way and they struggle with this mishaugas with the utmost grace, but the script simply lets them down...They may was well be doing "Radar Men from the Moon". There is something I need to make clear here, we all laugh at the earnestness of Gene Roddenberry's liberal technocratic utopian with it's naive brushes with The Big Issues of the Times, but we live in the shadow of it nonetheless...however much one may mock it, it is still the least worrisome sci fi utopia on public record. But without those Brushes with the Big Issues, however rightly or wrongly or foolishly they may be rendered, Star Trek becomes Space Patrol, it was a Space Patrol movie I saw last night at the Mendon Drive In, not Star Trek as it ought to be.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

"Iron Man III" (2013) duly reviewed....

Given a choice between sitting thru "Iron Man III", and sitting quietly at home hitting myself over the head repeatedly with a bungstarter, I shoulda gone rooting around my cellar for the fabled cudgel of my Late Father's Youth. And to think, I could have seen "The Great Gatsby" at the Drive In instead, a decision I fear will haunt me all the rest of my days. I liked the Iron Man III cast well enough, Downey is superlative as always whilst Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce have to limp along at mere excellence but all and sundry are done in by an incoherent script and joyless direction...oh and Tony Stark's inward motivation PTSD...his outward motivation, genetically engineered lava-men. I mean geez this is what we got to work with, Lava-Men cribbed from the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea playbook? I don't really know where Marvel goes from here, clearly utter mediocrity is no barrier to big box office...dreck like this only encourages them to do even less next time. Oh and supposedly director Shane Black has been tapped to direct a Doc Savage adaptation, lets hope he was saving his A-Game for that project thats all I can say.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Death of a Sorcerer....

Let the record show that the only artist with a more interesting list of unrealized projects than the late Ray Harryhausen was the late Orson Welles. War of the Worlds? Sinbad on Mars? Wrath of the Titans? Ya had me from the Git Go. Ah but Ray was famously irascible, I think the sheer wearisome burden of pitching upwards to two perfectly good ideas for every one that got approved just got him down after a while. And sadly he lived just long enough to see his chosen venue of artistic-technical expression become a veritable museum piece. Surpassed by a vast allocation of computer programmability all great looking but about as spontaneous and surprising as a granite block. That by the way, is Harryhausen's lasting achievement in stop motion animation he made everyone from Mighty Joe Young to the reptilian Ymir to Gwangi the Allosaurus, mechanical models all, into actors creature seemingly capable of spontaneity. If you don't believe me screen "Twenty Million Miles to Earth" someday on a double bill with "Jurassic Park". Spielberg's dinosaurs are lovingly, realistically rendered and are utterly affectless and charmless in every way. Harryhausen's brutish Ymir from Venus fairly breathes pathos, he is like Stanley Kowalski on a last drunken tear thru the streets. And that, making mere rubber and metal armatures into performers with subtle traits, remains Harryhausen's lasting achievement. So I'd like to reiterate once again a humble plea to the Harvard Film Archive to dedicate some screening time this summer to this great artist's work.