Sunday, November 5, 2017
The third Thor movie is the best one yet.
Main reason, it's funny. The first one, in 2011, was good. The second one, in 2013, was better. Now the franchise hits its stride by tapping into the offbeat humor of Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool.
Of course there's also action.
This time, Thor finds himself outmatched by his elder sister, Odin's firstborn, Hela, Goddess of Death, heralding the apocalypse called Ragnarok.
But that's not really the focus. What sells the film is pairing Thor against Hulk in a gladiatorial-type fight. And this is the part of filmmaking that reminds audiences of children smashing dolls together. Batman v Superman, Captain America: Civil War, now Thor v Hulk...on the one hand it's embarrassing that the premiere art form of the world's great superpower--intended for adults, no less--is comic book movies. As though everyone constantly reads comic books, all written by Dostoyevsky, and everybody getting smarter every minute. But on the other hand, okay, all right, ought to be a hoot.
And hoot it is, in spite of the fact that no one in the film sounds remotely Nordic. It's a film about Asgardians, and no Norse people allowed. Norse need not apply. They all have English accents. Most of them talking prestige British. Why for? Who's plan? Explain, filmmakers, explain precisely why Norse people all talk British.
Remember how Black Sabbath's song helped Iron Man? Thor gets Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song". Makes things cool.
As always, Loki. Tom Hiddleston as the God of Mischief amuses, yet again. Might be nice to bring in a completely different villain next episode so we don't have to always see the exact same guy and have the exact same issues again. He's Thor's half-brother, but he's not trustworthy, oh no.
One cannot help but see elements of both the Lord of the Rings and the Transformers franchises. Hugely successful products that they are, the filmmakers lift bits and pieces. Something like a Balrog appears, plus a stone door in a mountainside that opens, plus a ruler who acts strangely and is revealed to be an imposter. It goes on. And the cast includes Cate Blanchett as Hela, and Karl Urban as Skurge.
The latter is almost unrecognizable, again. Incredibly, Urban is not only Eomer in The Two Towers, he's also Dr. "Bones" McCoy in the Star Trek reboots. Here he's got a London East End accent and in no way calls to mind his previous roles, so watch this guy.
Because he's been in some blockbusters, we get Jeff Goldblum in a role similar to Tina Turner's in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Upon reflection, the only thing that could possibly improve this movie is for Goldblum to sing Turner's Thunderdome song. We should demand this.
Directed by Taika Waititi
Written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost
Based on the comics by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby
Runtime 130 minutes
Stewart Kirby writes for
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
The Oscar-winning producer, director, and writer--born on Halloween 1961--famous for the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, has been making films for thirty years. Bad Taste (1987) and Dead Alive (1992) established the New Zealand filmmaker's penchant for so-called "splatter cartoons", or splattoons. And he made a sort of Muppets send-up, Meet the Feebles, in 1989.
Then out of nowhere, Heavenly Creatures (1994).
Set in the early 1950s at a New Zealand girls' school, it's the story of two fifteen year-olds who become bosom chums. They engage in an active fantasy life, writing stories together, and share love for their fandoms: they are crazy about tenor Mario Lanza, actors James Mason and Orson Welles...and each other.
When their parents try to separate them, trouble ensues. (Actual diary entries are effectively used.)
As the girls, Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey are perfectly cast, laughing like idiots together and scowling at the rest of the world. Lynskey, whose Pauline is more the oddball, sports so mighty a scowl, Beethoven himself would be put to shame. As Juliet, Winslet effervesces equal parts glamour and eccentricity. Easy to see how she later got the role in Titanic (1997).
Initially their growing mutual obsession quirkily amuses. But gradually we see that some people really should just never get together.
Keep in mind, Jackson's first film features a guy having to drink from a bowl of regurgitation in order to blend in with scheming aliens. One can almost hear the conversations between Jackson and his wife, screenwriter Frances Walsh, concerning adherence to one's artistic principles on the one hand, versus the non-bowl related on the other.
And yes, Heavenly Creatures is brilliant, but no, it didn't do too well financially. So a couple years later Jackson made The Frighteners (1996). (Which has a character whose last name is Lynskey, by the way.) That one did better. Then five years after that, Jackson hit the jackpot with The Fellowship of the Ring, and today he and Fran own a condo on Mars, where together they reside. At gala occasions, sometimes we see their androids.
Starring Melanie Lynskey,
Directed by Peter Jackson
Written by Frances Walsh, Peter Jackson
Runtime 99 minutes
Stewart Kirby writes for
Friday, October 27, 2017
THE LOYAL READER WILL doubtless recall sometime back I found a US Marines flag someone left in my pickup. Now today I find myself the recipient of a gift nearer to my heart: A lance. An actual lance. I have no idea who left it for me, but I'm keeping it.
With my trusty tape measure I find it is eleven feet long. The width of the wood varies, but it weighs only a few pounds. The only way I could get it into my apartment was through the window. I propped it against the sill, went back inside, and pulled it right on through.
Now I have a lance. I have no idea why.
My cell phone is dead and my charger doesn't work, so I can't take pictures yet. I don't know, maybe it's an olde-time selfie-stick. Sure looks like a lance, though.
It is. Don't worry. Joust you wait and see.
He's a superhero.
His power: Insanity.
Once a prominent scientist, Dashiell Kesey helped Big Pharmaceutical--until he saw the terrible potential of a harmful new drug. He tried to stop the insidious plan to control and enslave the vast majority of humanity, but was caught in a blast at the lab that changed him...did not kill him, but made him stronger. Made him...yNsaynZy.
Both true? Probably.
But one thing is certain:
He is the greatest military leader to walk the face of the earth.
They called Galileo crazy, too.
The artist is always crazy, the visionary always crazy, the prophet always mad. In a world where people are pumped day in and day out with pills, pills, pills, pumped with deadly drugs pushed by TV, the crazy man has no TV and pops no pills at all. His is the strength of the madman, and he quotes from Hamlet and Nietzsche, Captain Ahab and James Joyce, Vincent Van Gogh and Edgar A. Poe, before delivering justice unto wrongdoers.
I think I'm really onto something here.
By golly, somebody keeps leaving me things in my truck. I swear to god, it's bizarre. This morning's Mystery Gift:
First a flag. Why? Then a lance. Why? Now a sword. So why not keep them? All carefully placed. Well, not the flag so much. That seems separate. The lance and the sword were placed very specifically in a particular way though, and unlike the flag they both look and feel old. Authentic.
It's a cool old sword. Leather scabbard with either an N on it or a Z, depending how you look, or maybe both. Horse head hilt. Blade even looks like it has ancient blood rusted on it. I love working on my new story while I wear my sword hanging from my belt. Which is a perfectly legal thing for me to do here in Oregon should I so choose to travel out and about with my sword.
I cast unaccountable shadows. Not all the time so noticeably. But sometimes, si, muy noticeable. I'll be sitting in a chair in a room and see my silhouette with what looks unmistakably like the lance mysteriously given to me. Many times I spin around seeking the source of the effect. Always nothing there. The actual lance is on my bedroom floor until I get around to setting up a couple of mounts on the wall.
Q: Could Stone Age Man emerge from caves and build pyramids around the world oriented with mathematical perfection and celestial bodies?
Q: Is this planet the oldest in the universe?
Q: Have there ever been older places than this planet where intelligent life existed?
Q: Could ancient astronauts have ever visited this planet?
Q: Is there any evidence of ancient astronauts visiting this planet?
A: Yes. For example, the pyramids.
Indeed, we live on the surface of a world of evidence that giants in the metaphorical sense and the literal came from a bigger, older planet and created...us.
These giants stand all around us still.
Amenhotep was the first Pharaoh to honor one god, a sun god, and his wife and son, Nefertiti and Tut, had the same long head as Amenhotep, whose name is still said in worship with the word Amen.
Q: Why does the Pope wear a long-head hat?
A: To resemble the real thing. And the real thing may have worn long-head hats to hide the alarming difference from the masses engineered with smaller skulls and weakened aspects.
According to the world's oldest-known civilization (which by definition could not have referred to any previous culture), giant people came from the stars and created human beings. We are the planet's first robots, created as the worker slaves for Those Who From the Heavens Came.
They came from a twin-sun world 3-5 times the size of our own, and they created our world when their home planet of Nibiru slammed on the course of its incredibly long elliptical orbit into a planet called Tiamat, splitting it and merging elements with the halves: One became Earth, and the other Mars. Mars became their station planet. Then they created the Moon to orbit Earth.
They did this because they wanted to rule humanity, which they managed to create after a few unsuccessful attempts, specifically in order to mine gold.
Humanity was created to mine gold for a planet with a diminishing atmosphere in an attempt to deflect the harmful rays of the suns. Bigfeet are examples of unsuccessful attempts at genetic engineering. The Annunaki blended a tiny bit of their DNA with that of Gigantopithecus Blackie, a 14 foot-tall Asian ape on the fossil record. The results were unsuccessful because the product proved too spirited to control. But eventually they got it right.
Soon I have to find a new job again. Work is running out once more, goddamit to hell. No more holes to patch with joint compound, no more walls to prime and roll, no more masks and no more fumes, no more pools to paint, no more floors to tile or to pull, no more ants to kill, no more toilets to install, nor hardware to screw back on while the co-worker's mix on blue tooth blares, no more trips around town in a truck with any appliances strapped down in back, no more paycheck, no more food, no more rent, no more gas, no more bills, no more nothing but praying to some benevolent agent way up there in the Black Knight Satellite, or maybe somewhere down in Hollow Earth.
Yes of course I understand that our minds are as electromagnetic as the atmosphere around the planet--to which our minds automatically adjust--so I do find it disturbing that even as I pen these words, drone-like agents following orders spray aluminum sulphide in horizon-spanning grids which, when heated remotely by High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Project (HAARP) radio towers remotely located in Alaska raise a column of the ionosphere, ultimately altering the Jetstream, and thereby manipulating the weather, perhaps as the by-product of an attempt to repair this planet's ozone shield, and if so then thereby falling again into a condition set by people from Planet X who created us to mine gold required to repair their own depleted global shields.
Job-wise around here, I can readily attest to the slimness of the pickings. And so, therefore, now more than ever, to return to the world of Dashiell Kesey, he who became...yNsaynZy. I must concentrate my mental efforts, visualize, visualize. Yes, I am committed.
Finally, tangible meditation results!
Supposedly Moses had eyes that glowed. I think we've all got the ability, deep down, to make our eyes glow. I know I did. I meditated in the dark in front of a mirror for almost three hours and saw them glow as though by an interior light for seven full minutes like twin suns.
And I got to thinking. I think gray aliens, traditional almond-eyed aliens with diminutive, sexless bodies, uniform appearance, and hive minds, are actually androids of the Annunaki. They seem to be alive, but are not. They are the remote operatives of their Makers.
The Makers place their operatives in countless locations. Go to any planet you like. If you can visit it, its been visited. And marked. By them. Bet on it. Bet the farm.
Most farmers farm things you probably have never imagined, and yet they all recognize the bulbous head, the lifeless black eyes, the pale little bodies. From the dawn of their own time.
Counting properly from the outer edge toward the sun, we are on the 7th planet, Ki. When Nibiru slammed into Tiamat and created Ki, it left much of itself here. Hence the otherworldly. From a region of shadows the wings of the wind carry a witching influence in the air over the entire world.
Es mi destino compartir la verdad de nuestra herencia alienigena con el mundo.
And today, by the way, I received yet another lovely gift, this time right outside my door: A shield. An ancient shield, stately and sturdy, such as a knight might use. And on the surface of the shield are arranged such figures as resemble those of Sumerian cylinder seals revealing the planets in this galaxy, and the placement of each in relation to the rest. It is a right noble shield, and I shall carry it into battle with lance and sword against all enemies of justice.
Bopping around the boondocks in quest of gainful employ I find myself inordinately conscious of the many, many, many, many, many giant windmills spinning on the rolling hills. And even as I am conscious of the great big fat amount of economic nada waiting for me all around, the graphic novel of yNsaynZy furthers in my mind. The origin story for the first issue shall be titled ALL THE RAGE and feature illustrations evocative of German Expressionism. A surreal look, lots of shadows.
(Close shot, low angle.)
yNsaynZy: The night was cold, very cold. I bopped around the boondocks looking for the shiny black limousine with the people inside who had the information. The information I needed. I poured myself a glass of Scotch while I drove and talked to myself out loud, pausing only when other cars went by. Even though the night was dark, very dark, I didn't want to chance anyone seeing my mouth move and thereby betray the disturbing truth of my talking to myself, chattering away all alone as though it were perfectly normal.
The Scotch was good, very good. I enjoyed my liquor very much while I drove. Looking, always looking. Then I saw it. The thing I was looking for. It was the shiny black limousine with the people inside with the information that I needed.
When I reach an intersection I have to double-check the directions, angry at my story being interrupted right when it's getting good. A plume of dust follows my beat-up pickup down a long dirt road flanked by tall walls of old corn stalks. "I hate it! I hate it!" I grit through my teeth with white knuckles on the bouncing wheel as the truck encounters giant rocks. I do not have the tires for this. Dollar signs stream off of the old abused truck. I have no money for this hell, but there's no going back. I have to apply at this hotel.
Finally I reach it. The hotel in the middle of nowhere.
Yet another wild goose chase from the employment department.
"Let me know if there's anything I can help you with," they like to say.
"You could help me get a job," I like to reply.
Giggle giggle, off they go. But I'm never joking.
We can't allow knives here. I've heard those words. You can't go back there. I've heard those words. But I've never heard the words, "We found a job for you."
A scrawny rooster announces the day and hustles off at my approach. It's mid-afternoon. At the squeak of a screen door I turn to see an incredibly hideous woman.
"Hi, I'm here for the interview."
"Jasper! Get over here!"
From behind me, a mangy dog growls and snaps as it slinks by.
"Get your butt over here! Jasper!"
Now I know how young Siddhartha felt on his first visit outside the palace walls when he witnessed really haggard people all over. Bright pink stretch pants poorly hold what appear to be a double-set of shapeless buttocks like to make a body wince at a disastrous glance. We go ahead and interview. Not exactly my first choice of work, minding the front desk at this barren, depressing establishment, but such is life.
"You got a resume?"
"Yes I do, right here."
"Okay then, we'll being doing calls next week."
A little imbecile boy with a banjo on the porch informs me as I leave that the position has already been promised to his cousin's Narcotics Anonymous sponsor.
Visions of yNsaynZy suddenly appearing and dashing Jasper's mangy brains out on the weed-choked concrete patio while quoting King Lear or Captain Ahab.
Returning on foot from the service station a few blocks away with my blistering cup of coffee in hand as is my morning habit of late I see loitering about my pickup truck a short round Latino personage of amiable aspect. His are the simple white pants and shirt of a laborer, as are his sandals, serape, and sombrero. I switch the coffee in one hand, too hot to hold for long, to the other. "Mornin'," I say, when I am close enough to be polite. No one else in the leaf-strewn street. No one else alive in sight. Only me, this little round guy, a couple of squirrels on the telephone wires crisscrossing overhead, and a couple of cats crouching by the tires of parked cars still cold with frost at the edges of the windshields.
"Si, senor." The little guy nods and smiles so politely, I feel rude to continue on my way.
"You, ah, you need somethin' there, buddy?"
Something, call it a voice inside my head heard artificially via chip inserted at base of skull sometime during childhood, tells me to give this guy a bong hit.
"Ain't got no fancy sofa, nor no fancy TV, amigo," says I, leading the way upstairs, "and I damn sure ain't got no fancy lamp, nor no fancy re-sealable baggies, neither! Them things is for the spoiled. Why, if I can afford the rare onion, and have to slice it, the other half gets wrapped back in the plastic shopping bag. How's that for authentic poor? Am I right?"
"I don't have money for paper towels," I say, turning the key. "Paper towels are for the weak. What I have are a few coffee filters left. Because I don't have enough money for coffee. That's how poor. Have a seat."
"Make yourself at home. Oh, and be careful, because of the four chairs that go with my excessively used table, two are broken and one has a rip in the upholstery. Also the lid of the CD player won't stay down, so I have to keep something on top of that. Marijuana?" I offer my little round friend the freshly loaded glass water pipe, packed to perfection with the perfectly legal natural healing agent regularly partaken by Albert Einstein and Jesus Christ. Sometimes together, in pyoint of fyact.
The furry manion takes his rip, and my head tilts, yes full tilts oh pun intended right on back a-laughin. He exhales, looking a little worried. Then smiles blithely. Before clearing his bowl.
"You should also know, I turn my socks around. So that the holes in the heels are up. That way I get more life out of my socks. Yeah, I guess you could say at the second-hand store I see a lot of things I used to own."
"You want to know why?"
"It's because I'm extremely poor! Got nothin' out of the divorce."
"Si...senor..." my little round friend says, coughing.
"Must Pass Drug Screen--prrffft! Yeah, unless it would make sense to take one. They don't make you take a piss test to teach Creative Writing at college, I can tell you that. But to put a sack of concrete in the back of a pickup, suddenly we have to get down to the parts per million. Okay, forklifts, fine. Show me the study that directly attributes pot use to forklift failure. So make the forklift operator automatically liable for damages on condition of hire. Until then, in this state, and many others, like it or not the goddam shit is legal. You can grow it in your back yard, discretely, and use it, discretely. You're allowed a certain number of plants, and a certain amount in possession for personal use. Hey, after all, it fights cancer.
"And yet, in spite of this, or perhaps because of it, there is a system in place to keep people from employment for simply enjoying something that is natural and legal on their own private time. Completely imbecilic. Test for meth or heroin, test for cocaine or prescription drugs shoved in people's faces all day. Those things are all deadly and awful. But don't go lumping pot in with that shit."
I put a CD in the player and sit down in the other chair. "I have to get a job," I confess, grabbing the bong. "Si, amigo, I am in quest of gainful employ." With a flick of the lighter I clear the bowl. Exhaling I wistfully muse, "Yes, indeed."
"Somehow I knew you'd say that."
"Excellent, yes, very good. Let's go. No need to reply, come on. I need to get a job."
"Okay, all right."
"Okay then, that's fine."
Around this time I launch into my spiel about the history of me writing my writing, which means I show my less than loquacious friend the writing on the wall...all of it mine.
"Absorption in my writing cost me my material life. Might say it withered my brain."
I show my friend my black broadcloth on the wall. "Doubles as a cape," I said. It being a Saturday, I offer lardy eggs.
"All right, my friend," I say inside my truck, still feeling an awesome vibe having listened to Santana upstairs, "time to venture off in quest of gainful employ. So here we go."
"Hell yeah, there's the spirit." I turn the starter, but nothing happens. No ignition at all. Nada. The battery appears to be dead. Or it could be the sensors. The alternator, the starter...no. How old is my battery? How old is my truck? How much more can I take?
My little round friend has exited my rusty old pickup during the course of my rant. I look up now. In the tranquil light I see his morbidly obese squat form leading a horse before my truck. Standing in front of me with this insane-looking horse, one with wild horse eyes no matter the angle, he offers me the reigns. Whereupon I exit the truck, hop in the back, mount the horse, and ride around the block.
"Yes, my fine fellow," I pronounce probably out of reach, "good job here, excellent work indeed." I take the mount around the block, frankly never questioning or caring how my friend supplied my need. Whereupon I spy beside my truck two tall chaps wearing dark suits and antiquated hats, perhaps Fedoras. What is more, they seem to be trying to intimidate my friend.
"See here," I call from behind. "There'll be none of that."
As my friend avails himself of the opportunity for flight, I perceive the chaps are identical twins. The hair on their heads lacks authenticity, and seems rather to be part of each gent's hat rather than his head. Neither has eyebrows. Their faces look waxy.
"Amigo," I call, "mi lanza y espada."
"Si, senor!" he energetically replies.
Whereupon I make unto these chaps such pronouncements as I deem necessary to distract them sufficiently to secure my weaponry from my retainer.
"Now now, you'll have to wait for your proper trouncing, sirs!" Apparently perceiving I hold a sword, the chaps intend toward their car, a shiny black Mercedes parked discretely around the corner, but I hasten the horse to intervene. A few quick strides and upraised hooves suffice to take the tall pasty twins aback, and indeed I find myself surprised, only for a moment, to see both lance and shield in my shadow before I even bear them.
My friend appears with my weapons in his chubby clutches, additional armor included. Score! Not perfect, but good enough.
"Como te llamas?" I ask, adjusting my helmet, such as it is.
"Your name's Cece? Cece Nayor?"
"Alrighty then," I say, raising my voice as I raise my lance, with my mount putting on an impressive display. "You task me! You...HEAP me! Now, COME GET SOME! YEAH! How ya like me now?"
In my battle against the Men in Black I prove utterly victorious because my cause is joust. They have no business trying to lord themselves over my vassal. One's hat falls off when I hit him with the point of my lance from behind as he tries to run back to the car. Sure enough, the fake hair stays with the hat. Knew it!
Sad to say, at this point the horse seems right on the verge of collapsing. Turns out Cece grabbed the neighbor's horse shabbily penned next door, and the unfortunate beast is simply insanely out of shape. But there is no backing off, of course. I chuck my lance back to Cece and whip out my sword again, whooping as I give chase on foot. The helmet doesn't want to stay on. Damn, I think, not now. Better go ahead and tear it off, That's what Amadis of Gaul would do.
These guys are tall, though. So they use their long legs to their advantage at getting away from me and run really fast in their dark dated suits back to their dark shiny car.
"Cece," I say, hustling back down the street toward the wobbly horse, "let's return this veritable Rozinante back where you got it before it dies, Jesus!"
Well, it turns out those guys were Jehovah's Witnesses. Or so they claim. For the record, they did seem for all the world like Men in Black. But according to the cop at the door, nope.
There's a whole thing with the neighbor and the horse I don't want to get into now. What's the point of having a horse if no one can even ride it?...
Monday, October 23, 2017
Now, more than ever.
Written and directed by Michael Crichton, Westworld is about a couple of buddies (Brolin, Benjamin) who take a trip to an adult-themed amusement park populated with robots. There is Medieval World, and there is Roman World, but the buddies choose the part of the vast park where everything looks and feels like the Old West of 1880.
Initially all goes well and the pals have a jolly time availing themselves of robot prostitutes and getting to kill guys consequence-free in the saloon. A nebbish banker played by Dick Van Patten typifies the repressed clientele anxious to fork over a thousand dollars a day for the opportunity to abuse what look like people. "I shot six people!" one guy gushes to an interviewer as he exits the park.
But then things go wrong.
A big part of the fun is seeing Yul Brynner as the Gunslinger robot. Because the audience knows he's bald, he doesn't even have to take off his hat to assume a mechanical quality. And this verisimilitude is furthered by Brynner having starred in Westerns such as The Magnificent Seven. So when he starts chasing the guys around with real bullets, he's the perfect actor for the job.
For Crichton the writer to also wear the director's hat, the task was made easier by getting to direct actors playing robots. If most of the cast gives a lifeless performance, no harm done. Years later, Crichton improved on his work with the more character-rich Jurassic Park. But it's the same basic Frankenstein story.
When we hear a hidden operator complain, "I don't know what to do if the stage coach is late!" we get a sense of the fragility of the system. The paying guests place their trust in the park's reassuring authority with no idea how tenuous the illusion.
At no point is there explained exactly why robots would be required for a resort of this sort. In another story the same thing could happen except with living people who may or may not actually die. But approaching the story with artificial life allows for the system to break down entirely--a theme which resonated particularly with audiences in 1973--and allows for insights regarding inhumanity and what it means to be alive.
The problem is that the robots become independent. When the robots stop being worker slaves, everything falls apart. One moment you're chasing a serving wench, and the next she's rebuffing your advances with a slap in the face.
Starring Yul Brynner,
Dick Van Patten
Written and directed by Michael Crichton
Runtime 88 minutes
Stewart Kirby writes for
Thursday, October 19, 2017
He has reflected his inner child on screen for decades. With his head held proudly in dark clouds, Tim Burton has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Disneyland. His Jack Skellington character possesses the park's Haunted Mansion, and the director of Alice in Wonderland is currently working on the live-action version of Dumbo to be released in 2019.
Among his 38 directorial credits, eight include Johnny Depp in the lead, and sixteen with music by Danny Elfman. Elfman, whom Burton had appreciated as the brains behind the pop band Oingo Boingo, has said that after he wrote the music for Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985) his career went "from zero to ninety."
That film was Burton's big breakthrough, and features moments of stop-motion animation, which was associated at that time with holiday TV specials.
Burton's primary work melds classic characters and set designs (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Metropolis) with stories related to younger-skewing pop culture favorites from the 1960s and '70s (Batman, Planet of the Apes , Dark Shadows). Generally composed of equal parts Gothic atmosphere, romance, and laughs, Tim Burton's films have the controlled look of a German set. Indeed, just as Fritz Lang built a fake forest for Siegfried, Burton built one for Sleepy Hollow (1999).
As Burton's version of Ichabod Crane, Johnny Depp takes on the sensitive, sallow-faced archetype which predominates the director's work. As Edward Scissorhands in 1990, Depp set the high-bar with a tousle-haired Goth look evoking Conrad Veidt's Somnambulist and somehow always reflecting Burton.
It is his undying obsession with all things Halloween that undoubtedly defines Burton in the public mind. Depp stars in most of the best: Sweeney Todd, Dark Shadows, and primarily Sleepy Hollow--which, while dark enough for events to revolve around a series of decapitations, still manages to refer to the Disney cartoon version of Washington Irving's tale.
Burton's other masterpiece, 1988's Beetlejuice, boasts Michael Keaton as "the ghost with the most." (Both films feature a sudden stop-motion animation creepy moment as first seen in Pee-Wee.) Fans of the quirky cult classic will be knocked dead to hear that Burton's Beetlejuice sequel, again starring Keaton, is in the works.
Stewart Kirby writes for
Sunday, October 8, 2017
An excellent replication.
It's not better than the original, but it's a close second.
Ryan Gosling stars as K, a so-called "Blade Runner" agent on a mission to assassinate which leads him to the star of the 35 year-old film, Harrison Ford.
Since its release, the movie based on a story by sci-fi legend Philip K. Dick, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", has virtually defined the look of the dystopian future. Director Ridley Scott's vision of a dark, bleak, soulless corporate world run into the ground and populated by artificial life on the run magnificently reflected PKD's writing with one notable exception: PKD's heroes never look like Hollywood leading-man material. He died shortly after the film's release, so he never saw Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall or Tom Cruise in Minority Report, to exemplify the repeated discrepancy.
True enough, technology has advanced so that most of the effects in the new addition to the franchise look even better, under a microscope. But it cannot hope to outstrip the reason for its being; the film always refers in some way to the 1982 landmark film, yet without the benefit of being written by the legendary master.
It's a long movie, generally slow, and always interesting to watch.
As always skirting around the edge of the story in order to preserve the experience for the reader, suffice to say 2049 concerns themes of self-discovery and the nature of what it means to be alive in an increasingly automated world.
Film fans will find similarities with indirect source material including Metropolis and Bride of Frankenstein.
The 1982 original boasted not only a visionary aesthetic, but also one of the greatest soundtracks ever, plus an unforgettable bad guy as played by Rutger Hauer. This movie captures the look and sound of the original almost perfectly, and features a terrific performance by Gosling in particular.
And of course Harrison Ford.
Well worth a trip to the theater.
BLADE RUNNER 2049
Starring Ryan Gosling,
Ana De Armas,
Edward James Olmos
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Written by Hampton Fancher, Michael Green
Based on characters created by Philip K. Dick
Runtime 163 minutes
Stewart Kirby writes for
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Where ancient aliens, a Hippie Grail Myth, and animatronic Bigfeet collide.
One book with 3 stories:
DRIFTING ROOM After an alien abduction accidentally lands Sam Hain in a parallel universe version of his redwood county home, his only hope of getting back is finding the pale little almond-eyed being with the bulbous head who accidentally landed with him and fled into the forest, while, unknown to Sam, it’s his own blood coming into contact with the biosphere that’s causing the bugs to grow so big. CODY AND HEIDI When aging genius Wolfgang Fischer wounds his foot, the entire redwood land suffers blight. Crops don’t grow right, people act dehumanized, and corporatization ensues as Southern Humbaba County comes under attack by the National Armed Resistance to Growers in this Hippie Grail myth. REDWOODLAND Joe Longhair’s stories give the inspiration for Redwoodland, the world’s largest amusement park and forest preserve of the future. When he finally takes two tickets, Joe finds juicy romance where visitors pass by train through real redwoods, and danger beyond his wildest dreams among the talking burls, automated Bigfeet, and animatronic Hippies.
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Saturday, October 7, 2017
ALL THE WAY DOWN the mountain the smile on his face never once faded until he saw the Bear, one of those Big Bears they had with the eyes that blazed red and could run faster than the real thing, able even to split open and release the driver.
He hated to have to take the truck out of low gear right here, right in front of them, tired as he was after a long day of thinning trees, plus putting up metal siding on the cabin, but there was nothing he could do about it. All he could do was slow down and pull over for a few moments to change out.
Sure enough, that Big Bear's eyes went from low-grade dim to bright blazing red as it waddled on over, just the biggest, fattest, ugliest-looking bear you could ever imagine coming right over to the window and demanding identification.
The sun, beginning to set, cast a spectacular orange glow through the ragged black tree-line.
"How's it going, officer?" he asked, trying his best to respect the badge while he retrieved his paperwork from the glove compartment.
"Sir, turn off your engine," came the voice from within the huge lifelike bear head sniffing at the window.
"Yes, sir," he replied. Oh, he knew they'd hassle him on sight, he just knew it. Finally getting free of this very sort of thing was exactly why he'd been so happy all day till now. Murphy's Law. He turned off the engine.
"Sir, are you presently carrying any firearms or other weapons?"
Holy Moly. Ever since those rotten traitors pulled up stakes and headed out for anti-gravity cities and luxury accommodations on the moon and Mars, the Indians, descendants of the natives, they just couldn't let bygones be bygones.
The mechanical Bear emitted both heat and scent. The deep dank scent of Indian casino basement. Those fearsome facilities constructed underground housed many of the local super-rich who left the whole show and copped out.
"Okay, all right, I do have a .44 on the back seat."
Big Bear's hard snarl shifted the hat on his head like the sail of a skiff in a storm. Suddenly the Bear put both of its gigantic front paws on the top of the truck and started rocking the vehicle from side-to-side, roaring horrifically the while. Inside, the man hung on to the wheel, maintaining an upright position with all his might until the Bear stopped and reared up to its full height, red eyes blazing in the dusk light.
Whereupon the Big Bear opened, and from the perfect hidden seam stepped forth the law enforcement officer, a bona fide agent of Cahokia restored, glorious in full metal feather, great big laser bow drawn...