Friday, October 27, 2017

What I Watched This October, Part 1

Every October -- "October" being defined in my apartment as September 21 (Kingmas!) through November 2 -- I do my best to go on a bit of a horror-movie binge.  Some years are more productive than others in that regard, and it remains to be seen how well I'll do at executing this year.
  
I thought, hey, why not blog about it?  And so I shall, more or less in the order I watched the movies.

We begin with a trip into Lovecraft country, where we shall witness...




This 1970 film was a product of American International Pictures, the company that made Roger Corman's series of Edgar Allan Poe films.  One of those Poe flicks -- 1963's The Haunted Palace -- had actually been based less on the Poe story of that title than on an H.P. Lovecraft novella titled "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward."  Good novella; and not a bad movie, either.

Perhaps AIP had that in mind when it made The Dunwich Horror, based on one of Lovecraft's most celebrated stories.

The movie that resulted is often panned by critics, by Lovecraft enthusiasts, by horror fans in general, and probably by Corman fans, too.  (Corman didn't direct this, though; he was only an executive producer.)

I dig it, though.  It's by no means a great film, but I do think it's a good one for the vast majority of its runtime, and even in the moments when it's bad, I think it's memorably bad.

Here are a few things it has going for it:


  • It's a fairly beautiful movie, and say what you want about the hippie-era tackiness of the film, it serves as a pretty good document of what that era was like.  So, tacky...?  Yeah, I guess.  But usefully and instructively tacky.
  • Dean Stockwell and Sandra Dee are the leads, and they are memorable.  Stockwell is just handsome enough to be believable as a darkly romantic lead; but mostly, he's repulsive in a manner familiar to anyone who has ever seen a bunch of young women swoon over a goth Romeo type, a poet or a musician or whatever.  You're looking at them all like, HIM?!?  That's what Stockwell reminds me of here, and Dee seems like she's just the type to fall for such a one.  She's appealing, and blank and vapid enough that you can look down on her for the incredibly awful choices she begins making almost immediately.  This is fine; your loathing for Dee and/or Stockwell is baked into the movie, and helps it.
  • The score by Les Baxter is dynamite, especially the main theme (which is laid over a very strong Saul Bass-style opening credit sequence).
  • There are some cool sound effects that take the place of visual effects in conveying the titular monster.  These are not 100% effective; but at times they are VERY effective, and I give them credit for trying something unusual.
  • The Lovecraft story is terrific, and while much of it is radically changed for the movie, moments shine through brightly.  
  • Talia Shire shows up in a small role, billed as Talia Coppola.
  • Ed Begley -- Sr.! -- and Lloyd Bochner are on hand, lending professionalism and competence.  Same goes for Sam Jaffe, who I could have sworn was in an episode of Star Trek, but is not.  (I think I was thinking of Mr. Atoz.)

So, hey; for me, a pretty good start to the season.  It's weird and creepy and kind of shite but also kind of wonderful.  That's a Halloween-season movie for me!


2014 DVD edition, art by Ghoulish Gary Pulin

I just noticed this, but doesn't Carrie's nose on that drawing look like a pig's nose?  Freaky!

Great movie, obviously.  I've discussed this before, but there was a point in time during which this movie had lost me.  I don't have any super-vivid memories of the first time I saw it, but I know I liked it.  At some point after that, though, it just ... lost me.  This was during and after college, when I'd turned into a huge Hitchcock fan and had decided that the appropriation of the string stings of the Psycho score in DePalma's Carrie were disrespectful.  That was part of it.  I also labored under the delusion that Piper Laurie was bad in the film, and this comes almost entirely from the moment when she's walking down the stairs toward Carrie after stabbing her.  She's got this huge smile on her face, and looks like a crazy person.  Which she is.  For whatever reason, that turned me off of Laurie's performance for, like, a decade.

I didn't turn back around on the movie until I saw it in a theatre a couple of years ago.  At that point, I was back on its side, presumably to stay.

This year's viewing was not in a theatre, but on DVD in my bedroom, on a twenty-year old television.  Down and dirty; low-res image, relatively small screen, puny sound.  I wanted to see how the movie held up in that way, the way I'd have watched it freshly graduated from college.  (The television, which I will literally never get rid of, was a graduation present from me to myself.)

The good news?  Carrie totally held up for me.  So I think that movie is back in my good graces on a permanent basis.

It never deserved not to be.




I've already written a few words about this movie, which has seemingly been a success for Netflix.  There's been a goodish amount of conversation about it online, much of it centered on "the scene."  One word: degloving.

Six more words: I ain't never watching that scene.  Think less of me if you must, but it will never happen.  I have my limits when it comes to gore, and that scene exists well beyond them.

But I applaud the people who made this movie for including it in the film.  Horror ought to horrify every once in a while.  That scene in the novel almost made me throw up in my mouth, and I kind of enjoy the fact that King has defeated me in that regard.  Horror should have power over me, and I'm not proud: I can be defeated.  I like that, and I like that Gerald's Game the movie dunked on my ass and walked away smiling.

I'll never watch that scene.  But man do I love that it's there.




Another '98-television DVD conquest.  I have the movie on Blu-ray, and watched it that way last year.  It was great.

But I enjoyed my little low-res Carrie experiment, and decided it might be fun to watch a bunch of other King movie in that fashion this season and just ... you know ... see what the results were.

I ended up watching Salem's Lot over the course of four different nights, almost as though it were four hour-long episodes of television.  It worked pretty well in that manner.  The bottom line is, I love this movie/miniseries.  Many people don't, and that's fine; I'm not arguing that it's an unassailable masterpiece.  I'm only arguing that I love it, and that I surely do, from the score to the cast (how great is James Mason in this?) to the production design to the monstrous version of Barlow.  There isn't much here that doesn't work for me.




Apart from being based on a Stephen King novel, The Running Man doesn't really fit into Halloween-season viewing.  However, I'd bought the 2013 Blu-ray edition a while back, and had not yet actually watched it, so that's my excuse.

It's a ridiculous movie, but it's fun.  We are talking PRIME Schwarzenegger here.  Not PEAK Schwarzenegger -- that's Predator or Terminator or Conan or Commando or Total Recall (or even Twins and/or Kindergarten Cop) -- perhaps, but if you're looking for an Ahnuld fix, this will do nicely.

I noticed something on this viewing that I don't think I'd ever noticed before, and if so, shame on me, because it's hella obvious.  Spoilers inbound:

So, toward the end, Killian orders Captain Freedom (played expertly by Jesse Ventura) to "defeat" Ben Richards by killing a stand-in and then digitally superimposing Richards' face over his body.  Captain Freedom isn't happy about it, but he does it, and that's what is broadcast to the country, bringing the ascendant popularity of this powerful rebel to a supposed end.

What I noticed was that Captain Freedom completely exits the story at this point.  How is that possible?  How does this movie not then contain the real Ben Richards having to defeat Captain Freedom as sort of the boss-level antagonist at the film's climax?  Either that, or Captain Freedom needs to be the one -- instead of the musclehead security guard (who sharp-eyed Arnie fans should recognize from a role in Conan the Barbarian) -- to turn his back on Killian at the end.

That neither of those things happens is a fairly glaring missed opportunity, and it baffles me that I never noticed this before now.

My guess: there's a story of some sort there.  I wonder if Ventura was intended to be the one who turned his back on Killian, but perhaps sustained an injury of some sort and was unavailable.  I haven't found any evidence of this being the case, so it's probably not the case; but damn, man, something has to explain a missed opportunity of that magnitude.

Anyways, it's a fun movie if you've got a tolerance for eighties-style action films.




Here's one I seem to like more every time I watch it.  This, like The Running Man, was a Blu-ray catch-up viewing.

I don't have a lot to say, except to note that James Woods is a shitheel on Twitter.  Guess what?  In terms of his performance here, I couldn't care less; he is great in the "Quitters Inc." segment.  THAT'S the James Woods I care about.
  




In order to wash from my mouth the taste of the shitty television adapfaketion of The Mist that Spike aired this summer, I gave the Frank Darabont movie a spin.  I opted for the black and white version; I've vowed in the past to alternate between that and the color version, and when I watched the movie the last time, it was the color version I watched.  Do you care about how I make that decision?  I doubt it.  Or maybe you fret over things like that just as much as I do; that wouldn't surprise me, either.  If you're bothering to read this at all, you must have a touch of obsession about you, so maybe I'm speakin' your language here.

Regardless, I think I prefer the color version.  The b&w is fine, though, and it's cool that Darabont got to put it out there for people to watch.

The movie worked on me at a greater level on this viewing than on any since the first time I watched it.  It's aging quite well, with the caveat that some of the effects are a bit wonky.  They were wonky on day one, though, and since movie lovers like me have an innate ability to shrug and roll with it when it comes to the effects in older movies, this movie's age might actually be helping the effects a bit.

Thoughts I thunk this time:

  • Thomas Jane is great.  I dig this guy's work, man.  I think of him as Miller from The Expanse now, and that's fine.  I thought of him as David Drayton from The Mist on a few occasions while watching that (awesome and criminally underviewed) series' first two seasons, too.  A great deal of the conversation about his performance in this movie revolves around the final scene; justly so, because what he does there is haunting.  He's great throughout, though; his best moments might actually be when he is castigating the two guys for allowing the grocery store worker to try to go outside, and he ends up dead.  
  • I've heard people criticize the novella/movie for how quickly the society of the store's inhabitants breaks down.  I can remember in the past thinking that while I didn't share the criticism, I felt it was basically a fair one.  From a 2017 perspective, though ... I dunno, man.  A lot of that stuff seems believable, right down to the way some people who begin the movie opposed to Mrs. Carmody end up allied with her.  Things are bad right now.  You don't me to tell you that.  But maybe they've always been bad, and are simply being exposed now.  I think that that is part of what King (and Darabont) were saying in The Mist.  As such, it feels timelier to me now than it ever has before.
  • Marcia Gay Harden is awesome here.  She's intense enough that her transformation seems logical, but she's also stable enough that you feel that without a true calamity arising, she would have simply lived her life and thought her strange thoughts and done little practical harm.  But a crisis -- a true existential crisis -- can bring out things in people.  So in some ways, I think the movie version of Mrs. Carmody is more believable -- and sscarier -- than the one in the novella.
  • Melissa McBride has a small but crucial role, and it was this that eventually got her a job on The Walking Dead.  I don't think I'd watched this movie since that series was in its first or second season, so it's kind of shocking to see her without grey hair.  And here's the thing about that: I find her to be excruciatingly attractive even in the most recent season of The Walking Dead.  She's got that tough, later-years Jamie Lee Curtis thing going, and since I'm in the middle of my own middle age now, I'm way beyond needing every woman to look 22.  That said, she is especially good-looking in The Mist, and I enjoyed seeing that.  (Should a guy like me be objectifying women in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein crisis?  Especially since he's credited on this movie?  I don't know.  Probably not.  I'll trust my readers to believe me when I say that me finding women to be attractive and pointing it out publicly on occasion does not mean that I think women who I do NOT find to be attractive are somehow lesser.  Why would anyone think I would think that?  Also, I hope it is understood that me saying things like this doesn't mean I secretly plot to entrap women in some sort of compromised position so that they have to ... uh ... do things they wouldn't want to do.  I hope that that sort of thing isn't implied by me saying "__________ is really hot."  If it is, then I don't want to live in this world anymore.  Ladies, I promise, you'll get no harassment or assault from this blog; it's just that I think an awful lot of y'all are pleasant to look at, and the movies are good for that kind of looking.  But if we're at a point where that's automatically a bad thing, somebody let me know so that I can just fling myself off a building or something.)
  • Anyways...
  • Final thought: I don't know how the television version of The Mist happens when the template for what to do is already present.  The mist itself is so much more palpably ominous here than on the tv series that you may as well be talking about two different things.  It's the difference between steak and beef jerky.  But bad beef jerky that's gone stale.  Also, the tension of the conflict among the survivors is vastly better in the movie.  Again, that's an understatement; that aspect of the television series worked in stray moments (whereas the mist literally NEVER worked, even briefly), but comparatively so less well that the comparison is not even earned.  All things considered, the television series is so bad that it -- despite sharing a title -- does not deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the movie.  I am amazed by how completely it failed.
  • Is this seriously the last movie Frank Darabont made?  At this point, it seems as if the debacle of the lawsuit over The Walking Dead may have killed his career.  If so, what a shame!

Next up:




It doesn't fit into the October vibe, but I wanted to mention it.  I'll claim a tenuous King connection via the score by Hans Zimmer and It composer Benjamin Wallfisch.

I loved it.  I had to think about it a day or two to decide whether I did, or whether I merely liked it.  I've come down on the side of "loved."

The cinematography is as good as it gets.  This might be among the best-looking films ever made.  It's that impressive visually.
  
The acting is also exceptional.  Ryan Gosling isn't everyone's cup of tea.  If he's not yours, this movie won't change your mind; if he is, this movie won't change your mind.  Harrison Ford is fully engaged; always a plus.  Robin Wright is excellent, and is apparently getting hotter the older she gets; I thought that while watching Wonder Woman this summer and this flick made it official.  She ought to be headlining movies, though; Hollywood still has a problem when it comes to mature women.

Sylvia Hoeks and Ana de Armas are very impressive in their roles, and I'm so smitten by Makenzie Davis I don't even know what to do with it.  I just shrug a lot.  [UPDATE:  After writing the section on this movie, I went to Google to look for something entirely different: Star Trek Discovery.  And I spelled it wrong.  I spelled it "Makenzie Davis."  So ... yeah.  I regret nothing!]

Jared Leto is good in a prime-weirdo role.  Dave Bautista is great in a small role.

The effects are impeccable.  This will win that Oscar, unless something with visual effects by God gets released this year.

The story is strong.  I'd say it's maybe a wee bit illogical, but that's part-and-parcel with the first film, so it doesn't bother me here.  This is a mood as much as it is a story, and the mood is memorable.

Naturally, it's flopping like fuck at the box office.
 




I had not seen this in probably about a decade, but I'd been jonesing for ever since seeing a photo online of the main character in his generic red STEPHEN KING RULES shirt, about which I had forgotten.

So I tracked down the 2013 Blu-ray release, and gave it a fresh look.

It doesn't hold up.  This is kind of a lousy movie, to be honest.  But it's got its charms, and if you can mentally make yourself a thirteen-year-old, those charms are amplified.

Part of the fun for me this time was the fact that I'm more familiar with the style of co-screenwriter Shane Black, and BOY does some of the dialogue here sound like Shane Black.  And there are other fun touches, such as the virgin who takes part in the big climactic reading-of-the-rites scene turning out to not really be a virgin.  ("Well, Steve, but he doesn't count!" she protests.)

Anyone who was charmed by Stranger Things and It could do worse than to give this a look.  Lower your standards first, though.





Arrow Video released a new Blu-ray of Children of the Corn on October 3, and, like a sucker, I bought it.  I already had the 2009 Blue-ray from Anchor Bay (as well as their 2004 DVD).  So, for the record, that's three copies of Children of the Corn I own, compared to zero copies of Citizen Kane.  Ay-yi-yi...

In the case of this 2017 Blu-ray, though, I had to have it for the following reasons:

(1)  It has "Disciples of the Crow," a 1983 Dollar Baby short film, on it.  This marks the first time that I am aware of that a Dollar Baby has ever been released on Blu-ray.  I don't think one ever got released on DVD, for that matter.  So, in other words, this is kind of a big deal (within the incredibly small corridor of Dollar Baby films, at least).  And since "Disciples of the Crow" is actually pretty good, I thought I could justify this purchase.  Hey, I'm an amateur King scholar!  I had to.

(2)  It has a new commentary track on it: by horror journalist Justin Beahm and Children of the Corn historian John Sullivan.  Commentary tracks are hit or miss by definition, and when you have one by people not associated with the film it is doubly so.  This one is quite good, though; these two fellows know their stuff, and give plenty of information about the production.  They talk the entire way through the film, too, which is more than I can say for some commentaries I've heard (lookin' at you, Tobe Hooper on Salem's Lot).  So I'm happy to have this.

(3)  "...And a Child Shall Lead Them," a new behind-the-scenes feature that contains interviews with actors Julie Maddalena and John Philbin.  This runs a generous fifty minutes, and is a good spotlight on two of the film's smaller roles.  I love supplemental features like this.  I can't get enough of them.

(4)  "Field of Nightmares," a 17-minute interview with screenwriter George Goldsmith.  This is fun if only for Goldsmith's memories of a rather tense phone call he had with King, whom he was hired to replace as screenwriter.  King's screenplay was apparently heavy on dialogue, and the producers hired Goldsmith to create something more cinematic.  King called him at some point after reading the new screenplay and told Goldsmith that he didn't know anything about horror; Goldsmith replied, "All due respect, but you don't know anything about cinema."  And I don't know that Goldsmith was wrong about that.  In any case, he's very complimentary of King here, and sounds like a smart guy.  I enjoyed this interview quite a bit.

Once I received the Blu-ray, I also found that it includes a 28-page booklet, and THAT contains a good (though brief) essay by Lee Gambin, who recently put out a much longer book about the making of Cujo.  Look for a review of that book sometime in the next few months; just gotta make time to read it first.

Additionally, there's a 16-minute feature on the filming locations hosted by John Sullivan, plus a five-minute interview with actor Rich Kleinberg, who played the "blue man" police officer in a deleted scene (which, so far as anyone can tell, is lost).  Neither of these is listed as a new feature, but do indeed seem to be making their debuts on this release.

So ... was this worth the upgrade?  For me, that's absolutely a "yes."  There's about an hour and a half of new documentary footage, plus the new commentary, not to mention "Disciples of the Crow."  If for no other reason, I'm happy to have financially supported this kind of Blu-ray release.  A decade ago, the home-video market was still in something of a boom period when it came to bonus features.  Those days are over, and are likely never to return; but there are still a few specialty dealers -- such as Arrow and Shout Factory -- who are doing good work, and I think it would be a mistake for me not to lend them my support here and there.

I'd buy more such releases if I could.  But count on this: I will have every King movie release like this.
  





I've never sat down and made a list of my favorite horror films.  That's not a bad idea; maybe I'll do that next year.

When and if such a list appears, you can count on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre performing quite well.  Top 10?  Almost certainly.  Top 5?  Entirely possible?  Top 2?  Wouldn't rule it out.

This year, I had an opportunity to see it in a theatre, and let me tell you, if you are a fan of the movie and a similar opportunity comes your way, TAKE IT.  It's a great movie no matter how you watch it, but on a theatre screen, it is a masterpiece.

By the way, here's an opportunity for me to mention something: provided the theatre is in good shape and the audience is well-behaved, there is no such thing as a movie that isn't superior on a cinema screen.  You can argue all you want about whether ticket prices are too high (they might be), or whether it's worth risking being around jackasses who bring infants or are more interested in their phones or in the three sacks of Arby's they smuggled in.  Those are valid and worthy debates.  There is ZERO debate over the fact that a theatre with even mediocre projection and audio equipment is superior to however you were planning to watch.  This is simply a fact, and so you can rely on another fact that goes along with it: with ANY movie, you haven't truly seen it unless you've seen it under good theatre circumstances, where the sound is vibrant and the picture is bright and enormous and you are (relative to a home environment) a captive to the experience.

Under circumstances like that, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre really sings.  It is brutal (though not gratuitous), it is funny, it is beautifully acted, and it has terrific cinematography.  It will make you feel sick to your stomach and giddy with delight in the quality of pure cinema, sometimes in the same instant.




Here's another one that I had not yet watched on Blu-ray.  So now I have, and it re-emphasized what I already knew: that this is a very, very good movie.  Kathy Bates and James Caan are both terrific, and director Rob Reiner matches their performances with expert work that I think Alfred Hitchcock would have approved of.
  




I never don't love The Shining, and this year?  No different.  This was another one I watched via the Low-Res Bedroom Theatre method.  I saw this sucker on a cinema screen last year, too, and if a Tobe Hooper movie demands to be seen that way, a Stanley Kubrick movie takes a bank full of hostages and demands it.  And the hostage negotiators give in immediately, 'cause they know what's up.

I may have lost control of that metaphor.  Point is, watching in on the old '98 tube via DVD, I actually missed some of the detail that I knew was there.  I'm familiar enough with the movie at this point, though, to know that that's on me for choosing to watch the film in a degraded manner.

Even so, it ... uh ... shines.




I and I wrote about this one here.  Check it out if you've a mind to.  If you don't, here's a short take on it: I loved it.  It's not perfect.  I feel like the ball gets dropped ever so slightly in at least one key moment, and at a few other less key ones.  I believe that to be true.

I also believe it to be true that that is true of a LOT of great movies.  And while I've only seen this once, I'm currently leaning toward saying it's a great movie, nearly as good as Gerald's Game, and possibly better.  Toss-up time, there.

Whichever way you lean, I think it's clear that Netflix in 2017 staked -- stoke -- a claim to being a prime place for King adaptations to be made.

The only downside is that getting either movie on Blu-ray is unlikely.  I'd even settle for a DVD; just something to put on my shelf, guys!  You are flat-out refusing to take the money out of my outstretched hand!

But keep making me movies like this, and we're all good.




Yet another in the lengthy series of Blu-rays I'd not actually watched on Blu-ray.

I'd only seen Horns once: on iTunes, the night it debuted there.  I thought it was okay then.  I still think it's basically just okay, but that means it's basically a good movie.  And if it's a good movie, then it's probably time to begin thinking of it as one.  I'm not sure I had been.

Things that stood out to me this time:

  • Daniel Radcliffe is great.  I still think this movie could have done well theatrically based on the strength of his fanbase and his performance here.  
  • I'm less impressed by Juno Temple.  She's fine, but she's more of an object than might be optimal.  That's part of Merrin's story, though, I guess.
  • This is a Weinstein Company film, and it's never again going to not be gross to see that at the beginning of a movie.  This is also a Weinstein Company film that co-stars Heather Graham, and that sort of thing makes you wonder.  Don't know what I'm referring to?  Google has you covered.
  • It's also worth mentioning that this is a Weinstein Company film that is highly critical of toxic masculinity.  It's a murder mystery built around that destructive character trait.
  • Kelli Garner is kind of heartbreaking as Glenna.
  • The scene in which Ig "confronts" his parents is brutal.
  • I didn't like the ending of the movie the first time I watched it.  I still don't, but I get why they did that, rather than the trippy ending of the novel.  What they came up with here is passable.
  • It makes me want to reread the novel, which I remember being more or less knocked out by.

Still the only Joe Hill movie in existence!  I demand a great movie based on Heart Shaped Box by 2019 at the latest!




I love me some Star Trek, so let's briefly talk about this series.  We're once again outside the realm of October country, and yet, I did watch numerous episodes of this during October, so why not mention it?

Bulletpoint time:

  • I refuse to (pardon the pun) engage in any conversation about this series in the places where one would normally do so.  Any place devoted to talking about Star Trek is currently a cesspool, and I'm done with it on a permanent basis.  On one side you have the people who love the series, for whom any criticism of it is proof of stupidity.  On the other side you have the people who hate show, for whom all its many virtues are apparently irrelevant.
  • From my perspective, the middle is the only sensible place to be on this one.  I have huge problems with it, but it is a gorgeous show, it is a well-acted show, and it often takes a Trek series a while to find its footing.
  • This is NOT a prequel to The Original Series.  You can claim it is all you want, producers.  It does not work in that capacity in any way.  Maybe you've got a serious plot twist coming at some point that will change that; I won't rule such a thing out.  That excepted, this is not a prequel to TOS, end of story.
  • Some people are claiming it's a "visual reboot," meaning that if you reboot TOS in your brain and make it look like Discovery, tech included, then Discovery absolutely works as a prequel.  Nope.  Sure doesn't.  I'll give you credit for being inventive in your bullshit logic, but that's as far as this goes.  Now, if the producers had made some claim like that, I could roll with it.  If, for example, they had said at the outset of this project that it was a prequel ("prelude" might be a better word) to a TOS reboot that was going to be permanently hypothetical and which we would never see, then I'd have blinked twice and said sure, why not.  That's not what happened.
  • What they're doing with Sarek is appalling.  I just finished watching the sixth episode, in which we find out that his dying regret -- spoiler alert: he doesn't actually end up dying -- is his treatment of Michael Burnham, this show's main character.  NOT his estrangement from Spock, which is what previous Trek canon established as being his big hangup.  Nope.  Michael Burnham.  I'm sure you all remember the riveting episode of The Next Generation in which Picard mind-melded with Sarek to help him cope with all his Alzheimer's-esque rage and confusion over his sad history with Burnham.  What?  You don't remember that?!?  Well, HOW can that BE...?!?
  • And yet, I like James Frain as Sarek, and like the relationship between Sarek and Burnham.  I just he wasn't playing Sarek, and that the series wasn't slapping Sarek's relationship with Spock in the face.
  • Sonequa Martin-Green is good as Burnham, but the material has not served her especially well thus far.
  • Jason Isaacs is really good as Lorca.
  • Because I am an objectifying cretin, I will point out that I lerv Mary Wiseman as Sylvia Tilly.  More episodes should involve her jogging through the corridors of the ship.  I'm just saying.  But that sort of thing aside, I like Tilly a lot.  Trek has never had a character like her.
  • Doug Jones is great as Saru.
  • I don't know what these Klingons are.  I think the series is going to explain how the Klingons look in various incarnations of the series(es).  I can't tell if what's going on with Voq and Tyler is supposed to be secret.  It's so obvious that I'm tempted to believe it's actually NOT what's going on, so that that will be a surprise.  
  • And yet...
  • I'm kind of into it.  I like how brutal these Klingons are.  I like that the plot twist is obvious (and will like it even more if it turns out not to be.
  • Every episode is scope!  Most modern shows are flat, but this is scope, which is dope.  Hope!  Rope!  I'm on a slippery slope!
  • Sorry.
  • Harry Mudd a la Rainn Wilson is okay so far.  Mudd sucks.  This one mostly doesn't, which is good because who needs that, but bad because it doesn't fit with TOS at all.  Not even a little.

 I could rant like this for a while and not bat an eye, but that's enough for now.
  
We'll see where it goes.  I'm onboard; a bit conflicted about it, and very, very miffed at certain aspects, but also undeniably entertained.  I look forward to each week's new episode, and that's a good thing to say about a television series.




I watched this one on DVD, and just because I could, I watched it full-frame.  I feel certain that side of the disc had never been played, so I'm charting new territory over here.  Like a regular fuckin' Magellan.

The movie is a blast of silly fun.  The performances struck me this time around, especially Leslie Nielsen, who could not be farther from the sort of comedic performances he had begun giving around this time.  You've also got to love what Hal Holbrook and E.G. Marshall do, among others; the cast is fairly strong in general.

I watch this movie nearly ever year around Halloween, and it hasn't gotten old yet.  I don't expect it to next year, either.




I love this movie.  I loved it the first time I saw it -- which was years and years and years after its 1987 release -- and have only grown more enamored of it on each subsequent viewing.

This year, I got to see it in a theatre, and, unsurprisingly, it works wonderfully blown up to the size it is intended to be viewed at.

Things I noticed this time:

  • The leads, Jameson Parker and Lisa Blount, are very good.  Blount, in particular, is great at conveying the inner life of a character who we barely get to know but who feels like a very real, and a very sympathetic, person.  She is perhaps at her best in her final scene, when it becomes evident to her that she has to do a thing she very much does not wish to do.  But there's no time to think about it, so she doesn't think, she merely acts.  Parker is less impressive, but he's better than he's generally given credit for being; he, too, seems to have quite a lot going on behind his eyes, not all of it particularly pleasant.
  • Victor Wong and Donald Pleasence are terrific as the learned-old-men figures.  Pleasence does a great job of conveying the existential dismay into which these events have thrown him.  Wong does a similar, but different, version of the same thing.  An entire movie could probably have been made of their interplay.  Which leads me into my next point...
  • ...which is that part of what I love about this movie is the extent to which it hints at a larger story.  That's an understatement; this movie is the culmination of an epically epic story, filtered down to a pinpoint in a single location, with a charismatic group of people unwittingly put in the position of having to save the world without even knowing the first thing about how they would do it.  The movie is not dissimilar to The Thing in that regard, but doesn't have that film's acknowledged-classic status.  Thing is...
  • ...I don't think this movie is much less good than that one.  Visually, it's gorgeous; the pacing and editing are impeccable; the score by Carpenter is relentless and awesome; and, best of all, it's a horror movie in which the stakes feel truly apocalyptic.

It's official: this is my #2 favorite Carpenter film, behind only The Thing and ahead of Halloween.

Speaking of The Thing...
 
 
 
 
I watched both this and Prince of Darkness with a friend who'd never seen either, and she declared The Thing to be the winner of that showdown.
 
No argument from me.  I do love me some Prince of Darkness, but The Thing is an out-and-out masterpiece.  There is almost nothing here that doesn't work, from the locations and the set design to the performances, cinematography, musical score, dialogue, animal training, effects, editing, sound design.  I bet they had great catering, too.  Is some of the computer stuff dated?  Yeah, I guess, but unless you're trying to pretend the early eighties didn't happen, why would that bother you?  If that trips you up, you're beyond help.
 
Maybe it's just nostalgia talking, but this movie grows in stature the longer I live with it.  No telling how much I'm going to love it in another couple of decades.
 
*****
 
And with that, I'm going to break this post into different parts.  I had not originally intended to do so, but I've run out of characters to use in my labels for the post.  That may not mean anything to you non-bloggers, but the rest of you -- hi, McMolo! -- will understand.
 
We will pick up here ... uh ... whenever I run out of labels on the second post, I guess.  See you then, I hope!

18 comments:

  1. Glad to hear you liked Blade Runnner 2049 as much as I did. Took some time this month to see Denis Villeneuve's other major releases (Prisoners and Sicario, as I had already seen Arrival last year.) and have to say I think he may be one of my favorite current directors right now. Definitely would recommend if you haven't seen those yet. Over the summer I got a hold of a 1st edition paperback of Skeleton Crew and have been reading through it by the stories your blog previously recommended. Really enjoyed the Mist although I will say that the movie version was almost a little disappointing. They put in a lot of things I wanted but have to say the ambiguity of the novella's original ending I think fits the subject material more. I think Frank Darabont was going too hard for a "George Romero" type ending than one that fit Stephen King's narrative. Also, felt the novel did a better job of portraying Mrs. Carmody. It give just a hint that she would be crazy enough to suggest human sacrifice but doesn't actually go there. I realize a movie has to act as visual entertainment so its logical they would go that route but the subtleness of the novel raises more goosebumps than it does eyebrows. In comparison I also read and watched Brian de Palma's Carrie for the first time this year, and for whatever reason that adaptation worked a lot more for me. Maybe just a matter of opinion, anyway keep up the good work Bryant! You're one of the few blogs I actually take the time to read. Looking forward to watching Stranger Things 2 and hearing your thoughts on it. Time to binge!

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    1. (1) I have indeed seen both "Sicario" and "Prisoners." Both are amazing. I haven't yet seen "Incendies" and "Enemy," but would like to; no doubt he's one of the top directors of the moment.

      (2) I love the open-ended manner in which "The Mist" concludes. But I love the ending of the movie, too. In a way, it reemphasizes the novella's hopefulness; it allows its characters to negate it, and then shows how very wrong they are to do so. I dig it.

      (3) Look for my brief thoughts on "Stranger Things 2" during the second part of this post. Short version: I loved it, but maybe not quite as much as the first season.

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  2. Man, what a line-up! You're watching some fun ones over there.

    Many of which I've commented on so often that I've nothing new to add/ you know everything I have to say about them. But real quick:

    1) Salem's Lot and Cat's Eye are just so repeat-viewing-watchable for me. God, I've seen Cat's Eye I-don't-even-know-how-many-times. It's never one I sit down and deliberately watch very closely from end to end - at least not anymore - but there's rarely a time it doesn't seem like perfect accompaniment, background, or intermittent foreground to whatever else I have going on.

    2) Good point(s) on "Running Man" and Captain Freedom. I wonder what the story is there?

    3) In James Woods' defense, he is a counter-shitheel to a legion of shitheels on Twitter. Twitter and Facebook heavily skew - through means both disingenuous and Brave-New-World-y - all conversations in one direction, and to stand against that tide is to invite derision at best and physical violence/ cyber-rape at worst. I don't fault those who go against it for occasionally being a douche in response. That said, i just mute all / any of them. Life's too short.

    4) Things are bad now, for sure. I've never seen so many supposedly-college-educated people acting like a bunch of Salem Witch Trial / Manson Girls. The Mist probably speaks to this aspect of humanity, as most of these sorts of town-besieged-by-horror-and-delusional-mental-defenses-erected stories do. Of course, that we have an interpretive body interceding between the thing itself and our own minds (a mist of its own!) via mass (and social) media makes it even worse.

    5) Honestly, when I see people questioning themselves "in the wake of the Harvet Weinstein crisis," I think of what I just wrote about the interpretive-body. That people have downloaded this committee in their head to run thoughts by is very disconcerting to me. One needs to look at "the Weinstein crisis" in context of the greater media-academe crisis and what it means. That's just me, of course, but sheesh. Everyday seems to be a new height of projection. Anyway, when such agenda-objectives are piggybacked on tragedies and crisis becomes an ice bucket challenge ("you too can participate in superwoke self-flagellation for someone else's sins!") it's a religious matter run amok under guise of something else. It's a way of exploiting victims twice, if you ask me. Programming people to act/ react in little boxes, approved by Samantha Bee, under guise of defiance to Trump/Weinstein, is a fucking Orwellian nightmare. I'm not including you in this, just some caffeinated riffing. Now back to regularly scheduled programming.

    6) Yeah, what the hell, Darabont? That is kinda crazy. Wonder what the story is, there.

    7) And yeah, too: I don't get how things like "The Mist" tv show (or "Under the Dome") happen. How did you... meh. Never mind. Too many cooks, is probably the answer.

    8) Man, Blade Runner 2049 is really provoking a variety of passionate responses. I look forward to checking it out. Hell, I look forward to watching the original again sometime soon.

    9) That Goldsmith interview recounting the King phone call sounds interesting! This is one of the few cases I've ever heard of someone having a tense conversation with King, believe it or not.

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    1. (1) I have commented on some of these so many times myself that when it came to listing them here, I kind of just put in the prose equivalent of a shrug. I mean, duh, of course "Misery" is great. But you make a good point about how "Cat's Eye" is rewatchable, especially as background material. It's surprising how well some of those early King films have aged. Or maybe it's just nostalgia making them seem more acceptable than they actually are. I don't think so ... but, then, I guess I wouldn't.

      (2) I would love to know. I'd also love to know how I never noticed this until 2017. There's something interesting there; it's almost as if Captain Freedom defeating the fake Ben Richards fulfills the emotional mandate of his character's existence. That's a sloppy thought I just had, and it was sloppily expressed; but I think there's something there, and I am going to try to mentally bookmark it for further consideration whenever I write about the movie long-form.

      (3) Good point. And I imagine that if you enjoy swimming in those waters -- which Woods might -- the temptation to go overboard just to see what would happen might be overwhelming. It's all very wearying, and I mostly prefer to just not have it in my head.

      (4) Undoubtedly.

      (5) It really does seem at times like an ice-bucket challenge, doesn't it? Once a thing becomes sufficiently viral, you've got to figure that X% of people are doing it not so much because they want/need to, because they feel pressured into it. That said, I don't think it's inherently a bad thing for people to respond to a whale of a story like the Weinstein one by engaging in some self-reflection. I'd probably want to always feel a little conflicted about my own involvement in things like that (by which I mean the fact that I've supported his movies and therefore, in a small manner, allowed him to exist and do the things he has done). I think that's a good thing. But the second somebody tells me that I'm a bad person if I don't immediately repudiate all those films -- and this may yet happen, though it hasn't yet -- then we have a problem. One would have to be a fool to not see how this really COULD turn into a witch-hunt quite quickly; I'm not convinced we're there yet, but I am 100% convinced we are (at least) perpetually on the verge of it these days.

      (6) I suspect he's tried, but has been denied opportunities. All I know is, there ought to be a Frank Darabont movie every year or two, and it feels like we're lesser for it not happening.

      (7) When it comes to Hollywood failures, it often is. But here, I think it was a failure of concept that was then compounded by a quasi-failure in execution. (The series did have a few virtues, mostly in the acting; so I can't say the execution was completely lacking, which it arguably was with, say, "Under the Dome.")

      (8) I think it's totally appropriate that that movie is going to have to fight for its long-term reputation, and that its passionate defenders are going to ensure its success. In that way, it will VERY much be a sequel to the original.

      (9) There don't seem to be many, do there? Hopefully there won't be a floodgate of news someday soon about how he's secretly been a complete piece of shit all these years. That would suck.

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  3. 10) Hey now! Weren't you anti-texas-Chainsaw-Massacre at one point? Am I misremembering that? Glad you saw it and appreciated it! It's a masterpiece, that one. (And hearhear vs. the superiority of the cinema experience. It's just too bad audience members can't be relied upon to let one enjoy it unfettered.)

    11) I wonder when it will profit our media-curating betters to turn "Hitchcock" into Weinstein. When there's profit in it, it'll happen. Eurasisa has always been at war with Eastasia. Thankfully, I can't imagine what for. Anyway, it's amazing to see how these things play out.

    12) Amen on all of these movies! I need to type up my "1922" thoughts. And "Creepshow" and "Prince of Darkness" always (always) rock.

    13) Ha, I hear you on the labels! Looking fwd to pt. 2, sir.

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    1. (10) I won't discount the possibility that I said something that gave you that impression at some point, but no, I've always loved that movie. (I say "always," but I don't think I saw it until the early '00s.) I've got a craving to revisit the sequel, too; Tobe Hooper's passing unlocked the floodgates for the people who passionately love that one. I only saw it the once, and I kind of dug it, too.

      (11) Hitchcock being dead -- as are the majority of people who worked with him -- probably prevents that.

      (12) They really, really do. I'd like to think that the mass-consciousness tide will eventually turn regarding "Prince of Darkness." It's too good for it not to.

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  4. Dude, good stuff.
    Prince of Darkness rules! Another movie with a fantastic ending. Did you see John Carpenter is on tour playing his soundtracks?

    So I didn't think they had a 16:9 or Letterbox version on Creepshow on dvd, I remember it being 4x3 but cropped, that's why I relented and bought the blu-ray, which I still haven't watched yet. I am looking forward to seeing it 16:9 finally.

    I watch alot of horror movies regardless but right around Halloween I think I have overdone it. We usually just watch the first 6 Treehouses of horror (but it's 11:45!) and Trick R Treat on Halloween and Halloween eve.

    It's funny how cable just plays all the lousy remakes of all the classics during Halloween.

    I just rewatched Oculus, have you seen that? Pretty great new horror flick. Great editing.
    Happy Halloween!
    -mikeC

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    1. I had not seen "Oculus" until recently. I have now, and will be covering it in the next post in this series.

      I did know Carpenter is on tour. I bought that new album but haven't actually listened to it yet. Watching too many movies!

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  5. I loved reading this! And again I didn't reply immediately. So I probably won't be as verbose, but that may not be a bad thing.

    I first saw Carrie in the mid-nineties on TNT when I was 16, on a cold dark late autumn Friday night when everybody else in my family was gone. So I missed out on the full-frontal and very full-bush opening credits, and got the edited version of Carrie's first, um... well, you know. And Piper Laurie freaked me the hell out. I grew up in a very religious community, and Carrie's mom (along with Sybil's, if you know the very disturbing TV movie from the seventies I'm referring to) gave me my first glimpse into just how bad religious fanaticism can be. So I'd say she played her part well.

    James Woods really has gotten pretty nuts, and it's not hard for me to believe that he's a lecherous old man. I grew up in the reddest of red states, so I know a great many conservatives who are wonderful people. But the few in Hollywood today sure seem pretty extreme in a lot of cases. I'm libertarian, so I have no real dog in the fight, but you've got a witch hunt on one end and some pretty inescapably shitty people on the other, so it will be interesting to see how much more the Weinstein scandal is yet to unleash. Which brings me to the point: I'd love to see a Darabont comeback too. Perhaps Hollywood will realize with all the degenerates they've been tacitly protecting all these years, maybe he's not such a bad guy?

    You are so right about the majesty of the big screen. For some incomprehensible reason, I feel like a pretentious douche talking about it, but I doubt many would disagree. With some movies it's probably far less important, but I wonder if I had seen Jaws or Schindler's List or such and such in the theatre, would my entire judgment be different? I wouldn't be at all surprised. And Jaws, when I first saw it on a mostly unimpressive TV, already had me hypnotized, particularly Quint's Indianapolis speech. How much more immersed would I be seeing that for the first time in a large, dark theatre? I know Interstellar has plenty of detractors, but that scene on the water planet? That may have sucked me in more than any other in my life. I felt like I was really there, and I was positive that Matthew McConaughey and the rest of the cast were actually there; there's certainly no way they could have filmed that on Earth! Beyond that, it kind of blew my mind knowing that there are probably actually planets out there like that. It would be cool to hear some of your memories being enthralled in the theatre (I just can't call it cinema without feeling like a French intellectual).

    Back to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre for a moment (I can 100 percent see how that would be a good one to see in a theatre): I know your reading list, like mine, is hopelessly backed up, but if you want something I bet you'd be every bit as taken in as I was, read Chain Saw Confidential at the earliest opportunity. Leatherface himself, the late Gunnar Hansen, wrote an in-depth making of book that turned out to be apt timing, as he died less than two years after its release. With your enthusiasm for DVD extras and director commentaries, it might be your wet dream. I know there's a lot of information out there about the hellish summer in Texas making that sumbitch, but hearing it from the lead, in detail, made me geek out. And I'm more of an admirer of that movie than a true obsessive fanboy. The movie, its then-unknown and completely inexperienced director, its reputation among the reactionaries is all such a unique slice of Americana. Get it. Read it. I'm almost certain you won't regret pushing other things back (or delaying an umpteenth reading of something or other). Also, you forgot to mention in all your praises that the movie also has one of the greatest taglines of all time, for my money.

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    1. "So I'd say she played her part well." -- That's an interesting insight to how some people must view that movie. Makes sense to me!

      "Perhaps Hollywood will realize with all the degenerates they've been tacitly protecting all these years, maybe he's not such a bad guy?" -- One can hope.

      "I know Interstellar has plenty of detractors, but" -- But I am not one of them. That movie is stone-cold awesome.

      "It would be cool to hear some of your memories being enthralled in the theatre" -- I've worked as a theatre employee (or manager) since 1996. So I've got too many to even begin listing. That'd need its own blog.

      "read Chain Saw Confidential at the earliest opportunity." -- Noted and added to the list. Sounds great! And yes, that's a terrific tagline.

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    2. To be clear, I've known for some time about your career working at movie theatres, so I can understand you've been privy to lots of cool stuff on big opening days as well as your own private moments. I'm interested in any of that, but I guess I was mostly asking if there were any clear formative moments from your youth?

      Were you aware of the existence of Chain Saw Confidential? I'd love to hear what you think when you've read it.

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    3. I knew about it, I think probably from watching the bonus features on the Blu-ray. Don't look for me to read it anytime soon; I'd love to, but there are simply too many other things in the queue.

      I don't really have any theatre-centric stories from childhood that don't consist of "I went to see __________ with __________ and it was awesome." But I've got lots of those. One that stands out was going to see "Return of the Jedi" was my parents and one of my cousins and his parents. We were fucking around in the lobby, jumping over the ropes, and my cousin missed and pulled one of the metal poles down on his head. He had to go to the hospital, but my parents took me to see the movie anyways.

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  6. Part 2 of my longwindedness! Never mind my comment about not being verbose.

    I'm going to have to check out Prince of Darkness. Saying it's better than Halloween... well, let's just say that's another movie I have a bit of a hard-on for. That's another one that had no reason to become a classic, or anything but schlock, but damn, is that a great movie. If you're putting something else up with Halloween and The Thing, I hope you don't do it lightly.

    One last, minor thing: Leslie Nielsen's in Creepshow? I know he had a long and distinguished career before Airplane! and The Naked Gun, but isn't he one of those guys that make you start to laugh just seeing his face. I don't know if he can be anything but Frank Drebin to me.

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    1. "If you're putting something else up with Halloween and The Thing, I hope you don't do it lightly." -- Not even slightly.

      "I don't know if he can be anything but Frank Drebin to me." -- He's 100% straight-faced here. I think he's pretty damn menacing, personally.

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  7. A couple of quick comments:
    1. love this post. I tried to watch a bunch of horror movies this October as well:
    - Better watch out (surprisingly good)
    - Cat's Eye (awesome, 'nuff said)
    - Little Evil (again, surprised how much I enjoyed this)
    - A Ghost Story (meh, premise was interesting but not interesting enough for feature length)
    - Cargo (disappointing)
    - Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) (enjoyed it, but didn't hold up as well as I remembered. The last 20 minutes is awesome though)
    - P (first half of the movie didn't feel like a horror movie but then it got pretty good)
    - The Babysitter (again, surprised how entertained I was by this)
    - Don't Hang Up (not great)
    - We need to talk about Kevin (not really horror, but quite disturbing)

    2. regarding Star Trek Discovery. I agree that there isn't many places I can find where there is civil discourse about Star Trek, which is too bad. The Mission Log podcast is pretty good but I feel sometime even those guys edit themselves too much for fear of invoking internet-rage. I too fall somewhere in the middle regarding this series. I agree the acting and effects are excellent. Conceptually I was very excited about a star trek show in the style of modern TV where one story is told across an entire season (or seasons), but what I've watched feels like it doesn't quite land somehow. I hoping to get the best of the episodic Star Trek TOS and Star Trek TNG mixed with the best of something like BSG or the Expanse and instead got something that... well, not sure what it is but it isn't quite that. I think part of me is put off by the focus on the militarism/war aspect of the show. That all said I am still enjoying it, I just want to be enjoying it more :)

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    1. 1. I've heard of only some of those, and other than the obvious ("Cat's Eye") the only one I've seen is "Body Snatchers." I haven't seen that in a good long while, but will almost certainly see it again eventually.

      2. My feelings about this series are about as conflicted as my feelings have ever been about a tv show. Let me address a few specific points from your comment:

      -- You ever feel the need for civil discourse about the show, feel free to leave a question or comment or whatever right here. I'd be happy to talk about it!

      -- I enjoy Mission Log, mostly. They typically give me food for thought, whether I agree or not. Their Discovery episodes have been fine, but a bit shallow. That's okay. It's brand new, so I don't expect them to go at it the way they do with decades-old episodes. The fact that I have a good read on how they each individually feel about things helps me calibrate my own feelings about Discovery, though, so I'm enjoying it for that.

      -- Agreed that the modern-television approach was/is sensible, and agreed also that it's not landing. You can feel the series straining to get back to an episodic format. And that's fine, because that's what Trek is. So why not lean into it, but with a modern approach to acting and filmmaking and visual aesthetics, etc.? I wouldn't be surprised if the second season goes more that route and ends up being exactly what you say you were hoping to get (a modern TNG done in the vein of The Expanse).

      -- The military stuff is also not fully landing. I'd theoretically have no problem letting Trek be that, but they're also not really committing to it very well. If the Federation is at war, it needs to just BE at war, and that needs to be what Discovery is doing every week. Instead, you're taking time out for a Harry Mudd episode?!? (Granted, a good one, but still...) If you want to tell a war story, tell a war story, and do so in a manner that indicates some willingness to actually grapple with the ramifications of being at war.

      -- "That all said I am still enjoying it, I just want to be enjoying it more" Exactly. As I said to a friend and fellow Trekkie the other day, the bottom line is that while I've got complaints, I still look forward to it every week. Both parts of that equation are worth talking about, for sure.

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  8. 1. For me, Halloween can roughly be said to start at Sept. 1st, and end after Oct. 31st. Yep, I'm also one of those annoying jerks who can't wait to put up Holiday decorations after just a week has gone by. That said, I'm proud to say I've never shoved ti down anyone's throat.

    2. You know, I had this funny theory about Ventura's character. I could be wrong, but I always wondered if it wasn't Capt. Freedom himself who got sacrificed in that scene.

    You say it's a different actor, and I can take your word for it. Yet the idea still persists in my mind. Was the arc of Ventura's character meant to be the point where he takes a stand against Rich Dawson, so "Newkirk" decides to make an example of him on live TV without the audience knowing it?

    Just a thought. "I KNOW NOTHING! (sorry, couldn't resist)".

    3. The new "Blade Runner" didn't do it for me, I'm afraid. I think the reason why is it felt like the creators we're trying to hard to fit a quest adventure into a format that wasn't designed to be that kind of story (if that even makes any sense).

    $. I actually like "The Monster Squad". The reason why could be that I never had any earlier experiences with it. That film was never on my radar during the 80s or 90s. I never knew about it until I spotted a DVD copy on a shelf rack. I looked it all up first, and was still no closer to forming an opinion, so that when I placed my money down, I was going in blind, and not expecting anything. Who knows.

    5. When it comes to Weinstein, my thinking is that nothing positive is going to be done unless people are A. better informed, and B. willing to find some more mature way of handling sexual politics than the one we're stuck with now. Otherwise, actual problems, like with Weinstein, are just going to continue.

    There is a sci-fi satire I haven't seen, yet it's on my radar, called "Cherry2000", and based on the set-up I've seen from the trailer:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kckEEQKXaCU

    Part of me wonders,"Could we really reach that pathetic a point, at least in terms of current sexual politics?"

    ChrisC.

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    1. 1. Hahaha! I love it. I'm one of those guys who's grumpy about seeing Christmas decorations in stores before Halloween, but that said, I do love Christmas. I've got a big collection of Christmas-music CDs that I trot out every year as soon as I wake up on Thanksgiving. Not much in the way of decorations; my cats'd just tear it all down!

      2. I think there's probably a relatively mundane behind-the-scenes explanation. I wish I knew for sure!

      5. You are almost certainly correct about that. One hopes we are at least on the path to rock-bottom, so we can start improving again.

      I've never seen "Cherry 2000," but after watching that trailer, I kind of want to! And yeah, I can totally imagine a reality of that nature coming to pass. It'll be the first thing we make robots for.

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