Drew McWeeny (who has a terrific blog over at Hitfix.com) has a series called “The Basics,” in which he writes about a film that he considers one of the “essentials” — a film that anyone who takes film seriously should see — and then another, younger writer, William Goss, writes a response. To read more about this series, click here and then here. Recently he and Mr. Goss invited other writers to get involved in their film conversations. Since the last film under discussion was Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1979), I was really excited to chime in. (Here’s Mr. McWeeny’s piece about Manhattan. Here’s what Mr. Goss wrote, and here’s what I had to say.)
Now Mr. McWeeny is writing about Albert Brooks’ 1981 film Modern Romance. What a terrific choice! It had been a few years since I had last seen the film, so I was happy to have an excuse to pull it off my DVD shelf and give it a viewing.
The great Albert Brooks (who also directed and co-wrote the film) plays Robert Cole, one one the most neurotically messed-up characters I’ve ever seen captured on film. As the movie opens, Robert breaks up with his girlfriend Mary (Kathryn Harrold, who I always think of as Francine from The Larry Sanders Show). From her reaction it is clear that this has happened before, and I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that this opening-scene break-up doesn’t exactly break that cycle.
Modern Romance is very leisurely paced, with long scenes that aren’t in a rush to get to the punchline. But don’t let that lead you to think that the film isn’t funny. Quite the contrary, it is hysterical. This is one of the most quotable comedies that I know. It might be my favorite Albert Brooks movie, and that’s mostly because of the script’s tremendous wit.
In his review, Mr. McWeeny comments that he loves the way that Mr. Brooks isn’t afraid to digress in the film. That pretty well sums up one of the strongest aspects, in my opinion, of Modern Romance. My very favorite moments in the film are the ones that have nothing at all to do with Robert’s on-again off-again cycle with Mary. I’m talking about the glimpses at Robert’s job as a film editor, working on a lousy-looking science-fiction picture. That the film takes ten minutes to present us with a scene that’s all about how editing works (as Robert makes an edit to the sci-fi film that he feels strengthens the suspense of a scene) is just wonderful to me. It helps, of course, that the greatly-missed Bruno Kirby … [continued]
The new documentary Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story tells two interwoven stories: one is an overview of British comedian Eddie Izzard’s life-story, while the other is a more detailed look at the process by which, in 2003, he crafted an entirely new stand-up routine (that would eventually become his world-wide Sexie tour) from scratch.
While fun and interesting, Believe is more the sort of thing that one might expect to see as a special feature on one of Mr. Izzard’s DVDs, as opposed to a documentary feature that stands on its own. This isn’t really a warts-and-all sort of presentation — Mr. Izzard is presented in an almost uniformly positive light. Although perhaps that was not the intention of the filmmakers, in the end the film functions more as a promotional piece for Mr. Izzard than it does as a true documentary.
Which is not to say that it’s not a worthwhile promotional piece! I enjoyed the look at Mr. Izzard’s life — particularly his grueling efforts at creating a name for himself as a performer and, eventually, a stand-up comedian. It’s an astonishing tale, frankly, of Mr. Izzard’s stubborn persistence in the face of overwhelming odds, and through an impressive array of recovered footage (of Mr. Izzard’s years performing on the street, as well as a number of his early days working the stand-up circuit) it is fascinating to see him slowly develop his comedic style and rock-star glam persona. (It’s a hoot to watch his early break-out performance of the “wolves” sketch in plain men’s slacks and a garish baggy shift.) These are the best aspects of the film. When Mr. Izzard returns to his childhood home and gets teary-eyed reminiscing about his mother, I must confess that I checked out.
In the other half of the film, we see Mr. Izzard travel from gig to gig in small venues across England as he struggles to develop all-new material for his 2003 show (having committed to use NONE of his old jokes) before the launch of his scheduled world tour. This part of the film is also wonderfully filled with actual footage (rather than talking-head reminisces). Apparently Mr. Izzard had all of his workshop gigs recorded, and it’s neat to watch him struggle and stammer his way through those early gigs, slowly beating his material into a polished shape.
A similar story was told in the terrific documentary, Comedian, which chronicled Jerry Seinfeld’s efforts to create an entirely new act in the year after the end of his show (and his subsequent commitment to retire all of his old material). Comedian is a much more polished film, and I think did a better job of showing how … [continued]
I’m a big Kevin Smith fan, and I have enormous, unabashed love for his first five films (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back). His more recent installments have been a bit shakier – Jersey Girl didn’t work for me (though admittedly I haven’t seen it again since my disappointing first viewing in theatres when it came out), Clerks II and Zach & Miri Make a Porno both had some truly hilarious moments but also some unfortunate left-turns into schmaltz, and I skipped Cop Out (which Mr. Smith directed but didn’t write).
But not only are his early films phenomenal, they also boast some of the very best DVDs ever produced. Over the years Mr. Smith (working with the various studios involved) has released dynamite special editions of his films that are filled-to-overflowing with deleted scenes, gag reels, all sorts of making-of featurettes, and some of the funniest group commentary tracks ever recorded. I’m telling you, these commentaries are a scream, whether one is listening to the snoring of a passed-out-drunk Jason Mewes on the Clerks commentary (I’m not kidding) or to Ben Affleck’s spot-on impersonation of Denzel Washington in Malcolm X on the Chasing Amy commentary.
As often as I like to pop in one of Mr. Smith’s films to re-watch for the umpteenth time, I also often find myself sitting down to re-watch some of the marvelous special features.The recent blu-ray release of Clerks and Chasing Amy prompted me to check out several of the amazing making-of documentaries found on these discs.
First up was The Snowball Effect, a documentary about the seat-of-the-pants making of Clerks.
(This doc was first released on the Clerks X tenth anniversary DVD.)There are a lot of famous legends about the way Kevin Smith maxed out all of his credit cards to make Clerks with his friends in the convenience store where he worked.This doc covers all of those stories, but also goes a lot deeper into exploring just what prompted young Mr. Smith to decide that he was going to make a movie, and how this dude working in a convenience store went about making his dream a reality.It’s a pretty incredible story, made all the more incredible by this documentary’s in-depth recounting of all of the hurdles, large and small, that Smith (working with a tight group of co-conspirators including the man who would become his long-time producer, Scott Mosier) had to overcome.The documentary includes interviews with pretty much anyone and everyone involved in the making of Clerks, and doesn’t shy away from the juicy stories when all wasn’t quite well amongst Smith & the … [continued]
I’ve been wanting to see Death at a Funeral ever since it was first released (back in 2007), so it’s a funny coincidence that it arrived in my home (via Netflix) the same week that the American remake (featuring a predominantly African-American cast) opened in theatres.
The remake has gotten some decent reviews, but trust me, friends — after watching the phenomenal original version you’ll have absolutely no interest in any other take on this material.
Directed by the great Frank Oz (the voice of Miss Piggy & Yoda and the director of films including Little Shop of Horrors, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, In & Out, and Bowfinger), Death at a Funeral features a mostly British cast. Matthew Macfadyen (MI5, Pride & Prejudice, Frost/Nixon) plays Daniel, who is attempting to arrange the funeral for his father. Friends and family are gathering for what is supposed to be a quiet, dignified funeral service at Daniel’s parents’ home. Of course, you can be assured that an escalating series of lunacy quickly unfolds. Death at a Funeral is a classic farce, and there’s great joy in watching the filmmakers carefully set up all of the dominoes, in the first 30-45 minutes of the film, that they will spend the rest of the movie knocking over to hilarious effect.
This film is a RIOT. Mr. Macfadyen is great as the straight man trying desperately to hold things together. He’s surrounded by a terrific ensemble, including Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent) as an old friend of Daniel’s father with a big secret; Andy Nymen & Ewam Bremner as two of Daniel’s fairly hapless friends; Keeley Hawes as Daniel’s wife Jane (and, seeing as she played Zoe Reynolds in MI5, it’s great fun seeing her paired again with Mr. Macfadyen); Rupert Graves as Daniel’s more-successful writer brother Robert; and many more talented actors & comedians. But the film belongs to Alan Tudyk (Wash from Firefly) who plays Simon, the nervous fiancee of Martha (Daisy Donovan), Daniel’s cousin. At the start of the film, Daisy gives Simon what she thinks is a Valium to calm him down. Of course, the pill isn’t a Valium at all, but a much, er, stronger concoction. Now, that might sound like a hackneyed comedy set-up, and maybe it is. But you’re really not prepared for the insanity that Mr. Tudyk unleashes in the film once the drugs that Simon has taken take effect. This is one of the great comedic performances of all time, and one of the primary reasons that I’m recommending this film so strongly.
I don’t really understand why Hollywood has chosen to remake an English-language film that was released in the … [continued]
It is easy to run short on adjectives when describing Bill Watterson’s beloved comic strip, Calvin & Hobbes.
Running from 1985-1995, Calvin & Hobbes is undoubtedly one of the triumphs of modern newspaper cartooning, and the strip has lost none of its humor, warmth, or potency in the over-a-decade since its end.
In the prologue of his new book Looking for Calvin & Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and his Revolutionary Comic Strip, Nevin Martell writes:
Though Watterson’s influences are somewhat easy to ascertain, the man himself is an enigma. During the ten years that Calvin & Hobbes was drawn and was entrancing millions and millions of readers around the world, the man behind it tried to remain as anonymous as possible. As the boy and his tiger reached new highs in readership, their creator shrank deeper into self-imposed obscurity. Watterson never felt comfortable sharing himself with his readers in a public way and he never allowed his work to be licensed. On the extremely rare occasion that he did make a public appearance or grant an interview, he only spoke openly about his work and went to great lengths to avoid discussing, or divulging, any details from his personal life.
To call him the J.D. Salinger of American cartooning is to take the easy road, but the fact remains that this incredibly talented comic artist is one of the most elusive characters of the late twentieth century — so elusive, in fact, that only a handful of pictures of him have ever been published. He gave his last interview with a journalist in 1989 and his last public appearance was a commencement speech he gave at his alma mater, Kenyon College, in 1990. Since officially retiring Calvin & Hobbes, Watterson has emerged infrequently and sporadically, and never in person.
So how do you find the man who doesn’t want to be found?
Although Mr. Martell does make some effort to actually find Mr. Watterson physically in order to conduct an interview with him (spoiler alert: it doesn’t happen), most of Looking from Calvin & Hobbes consists of Mr. Martell’s attempt to piece together a picture of Mr. Watterson’s life and work based on an exhaustive review of pretty much every interview Mr. Watterson has ever given and every essay he has ever written, supplemented by an array of new interviews conducted with a wide variety of Mr. Watterson’s friends, family, and peers, as well as the legion of creative folk who were inspired by his work.
It’s an effective approach, and the result is a fairly comprehensive look at Mr. Watterson’s development as a cartoonist as a kid and in college, his years-long post-college efforts … [continued]
“Why do you think nobody’s ever tried to be a superhero before? You’d think all these guys talking about it online every day, at least one would give it a try. Not everybody gets to be a rock star, but it doesn’t stop people buying guitars. Jesus, man. Why do people want to be Paris Hilton and nobody wants to be Spider-Man?”
That is the question posed by teenager Dave Lizewski to his friends in the fantastic new film Kick-Ass. Originally an eight-issue comic book by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. (read my review of the comic here), Kick-Ass the comic was juvenile, profane, hyper-violent, and absolutely wonderful. I am pleased to report that the film adaptation directed by Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust)is equally juvenile, profane, and hyper-violent, and also equally wonderful.
Kick-Ass is the story a strange, lonely kid who seizes upon a crazy idea: to become the world’s first real-life super-hero. Dave Lizewski doesn’t have any super-powers; he doesn’t have a large inheritance that he can use to buy incredible gadgets; he doesn’t really have any special skills at all. But he’s not going to let that stop him. What unfolds is a quickly-escalating spiral of chaos, as Dave finds himself neck-deep in a bloody struggle between crime-lord Frank D’Amico (played by the great Mark Strong, who it seems to me can do no wrong after his great performances recently in Stardust, Body of Lies, and Sherlock Holmes) and two real-life super-heroes, Big Daddy (Nic Cage) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz).
The casting in this film is superb. Nobody plays a bad-guy better than Mark Strong these days, and Chloe Moretz has found herself an extraordinary break-out role. Speaking of break-out roles, bravo to the filmmakers for their casting of Aaron Johnson as Dave Lizewski. This relative unknown absolutely kills in the part. I was also really thrilled to see Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad) well-used here as Chris D’Amico. Again, perfect casting, and its nice to see Mintz-Plasse in a different sort of role that nonetheless takes advantage of his bizarre geekiness.
We’re living in a good time for comic book fans, as Hollywood seems to be getting the message that faithful adaptations of great comic books is a wiser strategy than complete reinventions. (Then again, Mark Millar’s terrific comic book Wanted, about super-villains who have successfully taken over the world, was completely mangled into an Angelina Jolie vehicle about assassins who take their orders from a magical loom, and that movie made hundreds of millions of dollars, so maybe I’m being hopelessly naive.) But I look at a film like Watchmen, and I look at a film … [continued]
I am a bit of a nut for movie soundtracks.
I don’t purchase a lot of CDs — but I do own quite a number of great movie soundtracks. Not every movie soundtrack can stand on its own — but the ones that do are pure gold. James Horner’s score for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; John William’s Star Wars scores, Howard Shore’s scores for The Lord of the Rings — these are epic creations that I can listen to over and over and over again.
Recently, two phenomenal scores from the ’80s were finally released in their complete form on CD: Alan Silvestri’s score for Back to the Future, and Dave Grusin’s score for The Goonies. Both are absolutely PHENOMENAL.
Intrada released the Back to the Future score on two discs, with disc one being the complete score as heard in the finished film, and disc two being an alternate, early version of the score. The wonderfully detailed liner notes (written by Mike Matessino) detail the process by which, after Mr. Silvestri recorded his score for the film in May, 1985, it was decided (in consultation with director Robert Zemeckis and Executive Producer Steven Spielberg) that Mr. Silvestri would re-work and completely re-record the score. This is extremely unusual. As Engineer Dennis Sands recalls: “Steven Spielberg loved the theme so much that he felt more of it was needed in the score. So Alan augmented a number of the cues and we recorded them on a second set of dates.” As usual, Mr. Spielberg’s instincts were right on the money. Alan Silvestri’s Back to the Future theme is incredibly iconic, and the filmmakers absolutely made the right decision to feature it more prominently in the finished score.
I enjoyed listening to the original version of the score on disc two, though I wouldn’t have objected to paying a little less for a version of this release without that second disc. Many of the alternate cues are pretty similar to the finished versions found on disc 1 — and where they’re different, they’re mostly inferior. It was fun to listen through once, but I doubt I’ll spend too much time listening to that second disc in the future.
But Mr. Silvestri’s final score, on disc 1, is absolutely magnificent. No surprise, the stand-out piece of music is track 19: “Clocktower.” This ten-minute-long track is a tour-de-force of action movie music, in which most of the major character themes from the score are interwoven to create a powerful, suspenseful sequence. It works wonderfully with the edited film, and is also quite effective when listened to on its own. This track has gotten a lot … [continued]
Some awesome new trailers for the summer movies have appeared recently:
Here’s the terrific trailer for Robert Rodriguez and Nimrod Antal’s new film Predators.
That’s a pretty sweet trailer. Could this possibly be good?? Could it??
Here’s a new TV spot for Iron Man 2 with some intriguing new footage:
I can’t wait for this. I really hope it doesn’t disappoint.
Now here’s a comic-book movie of an entirely different sort: Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead)’s adaptation of the indie comic Scott Pilgrim vs. The World:
This is going to be a FUN summer…… [continued]
Can we all just agree that The Wire is the greatest television show ever made?
Anyone who has seen The Wire surely must agree with that (admittedly bold) statement. As for the rest of you — what are you waiting for?? (Until you’ve seen this masterpiece, I’m really not interested in your opinion.)
I would imagine that anyone in the cult of The Wire couldn’t help but be interested, as I was, in creator David Simon’s new HBO series Treme (pronounced Tre-MAY) set in New Orleans three months after Katrina. I took in the premiere episode, “Do You Know What it Means” earlier this week, and I am happy to report that I am totally and unabashedly hooked.
The Wire was a devastating critique of the modern American city. Over the course of five seasons, Mr. Simon and his extraordinary team of writers explored the inadequacies and failures of society on every level of the city of Baltimore: from the kids on the corners to the cops on the street to the politicians in their offices, not to mention the detectives, the judges, the newspapermen (and women), the D.A.s, the crime lords, and on and on. So when I read last year that Mr. Simon was developing a show about New Orleans, that seemed to me to be a logical follow-up. In New Orleans after Katrina, Mr. Simon had found a city in which the seemingly intractable problems of Baltimore paled in comparison.
And yet, I was pleasantly surprised by just how upbeat the pilot of Treme was. Oh, don’t misunderstand me, there is plenty of horrible tragedy on display, and I have no doubt that, as the season progresses, further Job-like troubles await many of the characters to whom we were introduced in this first installment. But along with the horror, Treme contained a lot of hope as well.
An enormous factor in that tone is the way that so much astoundingly wonderful music is interwoven into the story being told. Many of the main characters in Treme (such as the trombone-player Antoine, played by Wendell Piece, who so memorably played Bunk on The Wire) are musicians, and the pilot frequently pauses to allow us to immerse ourselves in the wonderful music of New Orleans. The music is almost the primary character in the show. And so much of the music is so phenomenal that it’s hard not to feel good listening to it. This provides a powerful counterpoint to the tough drama found in the story of a city on the brink.
The pilot episode introduces us to a large ensemble of characters. As in The Wire, these characters are from a wide variety of … [continued]
Whew! At last, today, we come to the end of my journey through the Odyssey series of films and novels by Arthur C. Clarke. Over the past several weeks I have written about 2001: A Space Odyssey the film and the novel, the follow-up novel 2010: Odyssey Two and its film adaptation, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, and the third novel in the series, 2061: Odyssey Three.
I mentioned in my review of Odyssey Three my recollection that, when I first read this series of novels around 15 years ago, I didn’t enjoy 2061 or 3001 nearly as much as 2001 and 2010. I wondered if my opinions would have changed now, many years later. That didn’t turn out to be the case with 2061 (which had some fun bits but that didn’t, I felt, add anything to the epic story begun in 2001 and 2010), but I had high hopes that I would enjoy the saga’s conclusion, 3001: The Final Odyssey, more upon my rereading.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
The novel starts out strong. There’s an intriguing hook — the body of Frank Poole (believed to be long-dead as a result of his murder by HAL 9000) is found and resuscitated, and through his eyes we are introduced to the astounding developments of human society a millennia in the future. I have commented before about how much I have enjoyed the scientific speculation that Mr. Clarke has woven into his Odyssey novels, in which he takes the time to explore his ideas about how science and technology might progress in our future, and how that can explain some of the sci-fi activities found in the stories. Mr. Clarke goes to town during the first 100 pages of 3001. As Frank learns about life in the year 3001, so too do we. There’s a lot of fun to be had as Mr. Clarke fleshes out this world of tomorrow, and I relished all of the fascinating scientific speculation.
Unfortunately, all of that interesting set-up never leads to a story that goes anywhere. In my review of 2061, I commented that I didn’t feel there was much significance to the goings-on in that novel — the rescue mission that provided the main thrust of the book’s plot paled in comparison to the cosmic story-lines of 2001 and 2010. Sadly, 3001 has even less plot to speak of. (I tried to keep things vague, but some SPOILERS are ahead, gang, so beware.)
I kept waiting for the book’s story to kick into gear, but every-time it seemed like something interesting was about to happen, things stopped cold. After Book I (… [continued]
I was an enormous fan of 24 when it began. I still remember, a few days after the premiere episode aired, my folks sitting me down and insisting that I check it out. (Fortunately they had taped that first episode.) I was blown away, and I remained gripped throughout that phenomenal first season. The production values were extraordinary — it was like a mini-movie every week, filled with incredible action and nail-biting suspense. I was also really taken by the “real-time” conceit of the show: that each of the twenty-four episodes of the season was one hour in the no-good, terrible, very bad day of beleaguered super-agent Jack Bauer.
I still hold the first two seasons of 24 as two of the finest seasons of television ever forged. (The gutsy death of a main character in the season 1 finale remains a high-point for me, and it helped cement my love for this dark show.) Sure, there are some weak spots in those first two years (mostly pertaining to the misadventures of Kim Bauer), but having watched those seasons through several times, over the years (bless you, DVD — let’s not forget that 24: Season 1 was one of the first-ever full-season DVD sets ever released), I think they hold up remarkably well.
Things began to go awry in season 3, when the writers decided to abandon all of the dangling story-lines left hanging by the cliffhanger end of season 2, and instead create an entirely new scenario, with Jack involved with drug-dealers in South America. In hindsight, I respect the writers’ attempt to find a whole new paradigm for the show (something that, sadly, they’d never attempt again, much to the show’s long-term detriment), but at the time, Jack Bauer’s adventures in South America seemed like a big mis-step. Things picked up in the second-half of the season, when suddenly the show became about stopping the release of deadly nerve gas in LA (the first but not the last of the show’s mid-season story-telling about-faces). But looking back this signaled the end of the show’s ability to create a unified story for each season that could sustain over the full 24 episodes. It also signaled the unfortunate end of the writers’ interest in maintaining any semblance of plausibility to the “real-time” aspect of the show’s story-telling.
Though I kept watching, with each subsequent season I became more and more frustrated with 24. It boggles my mind why the writers continued to re-use the same tired story-lines again and again and again. How many moles in CTU could there possibly be?? How … [continued]
My journey through the Odyssey series continues! Over the past two weeks I have written about 2001: A Space Odyssey the film and the novel, as well as the follow-up novel 2010: Odyssey Two and its film adaptation, 2010: The Year We Make Contact.
Only five years after writing 2010: Odyssey Two, in 1987 Arthur C. Clarke released the third Odyssey novel, 2061: Odyssey Three. (This would prove to be the shortest span of elapsed time between the novels. 2001 was written in 1968, and Mr. Clarke did not release the final novel, 3001: The Final Odyssey, until 1997.)
Fifty years after Heywood Floyd and the crew of the Leonov‘s journey to Jupiter, and the cataclysmic re-ordering of the solar system that resulted from the wakening of the Monolith they encountered there (I am being vague here so as to avoid spoiling the wonderful ending of 2010), interplanetary travel has become, if not commonplace, at least much faster and more convenient. Mankind has established colonies on several bodies in the solar system, including the Jovian satellite Ganymede, and the wealthy Chinese tycoon Sir Lawrence has created a fleet of luxurious interplanetary space-liners. His newest and most elaborate vessel, Universe, has been tasked with an extraordinary maiden voyage: to rendezvous with and land upon Halley’s comet, making its regular journey through our solar system. Sir Lawrence has invited a number of world-famous celebrities to make the journey on-board Universe, including a very elderly Heywood Floyd, aged 103 (still alive and remarkably fit due to a lifetime spent living in low-gravity environments). But this scientific (and PR) mission is cut short when news arrives that another of Lawrence’s space-liners, Galaxy, has been hijacked and forced to land on the forbidden world of Europa (go read 2010 for the full story on why mankind is not supposed to set foot on the Jovian satellite Europa). Now Universe must speed across the solar system in an attempt to rescue the crew of Galaxy, as its crew hopes to avoid another confrontation with the Monolith (and the mysterious entities responsible for their creation).
My recollection, from the first time I read through Arthur C. Clarke’s four Odyssey novels about a decade-and-a-half ago, was that I found 2061 and 3001 to be far inferior to the first two installments. I was curious if I would still feel the same way, re-reading those novels now.
Sadly, the answer is yes for 2061: Odyssey Three.
Don’t get me wrong: 2061 is an enjoyable read. Mr. Clarke’s prose is engaging and fast-paced. Although the novel is filled with Mr. Clarke’s scientific ruminations (about the mechanics of interplanetary … [continued]
I received a lot of response to my post last week in which I discussed my disappointment so far with Lost‘s sixth and final season. Some people vehemently disagreed with my assessment, while others were pleased that I had come around to their way of thinking.
Here’s my more specific episode-by-episode run-down of the season so far:
6.1/2 — “LA X” – A strong start to the final season! All the stuff on the plane was a lot of fun. Here in this initial installment there was nothing but promise to the alternate-universe story, and I was intrigued to see where that half of the story is going. (Sadly, after ten episodes, it seems to be going nowhere…) Glad to see that Boone is still a numbskull in any universe, and I was pleased to see Jack again desperate for a pen to help with a medical procedure. The dude should just start carrying a couple in his pocket at all times.
I was also pleased to see several mysteries get addressed right up front, such as the Locke/smokey revelation (which I called before the show aired, thank you very much, no applause, just throw money). I was also intrigued by the Other Others inside the Temple, particularly the Dennis-Hopper-in-Apocalypse Now translater dude. Is the asian Other Other related in some way to the enigmatic Alvar Hanso? I would love to learn that Hanso had once spent time on the island, the way Charles Widmore did. (Sadly, we have so far gotten little-to-none of the backstory of this Temple-dwelling group of Others. One more unanswered mystery to add to my list…)
Why did all the time-jumping castaways on the island stay in the positions/locations they were in at the end of last season when Jack dropped the bomb, except for Kate who was suddenly up in a tree?
6.3 — “What Kate Does” — After a strong start with the premiere, season 6 took a big nose-dive in this, one of the worst episodes of the entire series. Aside from the title, which was a clever play on the title of the season 2 episode “What Kate Did,” there was nothing of interest happening here. The Claire/Kate stuff, which was supposed to be the dramatic centerpiece of the episode, was absolutely ridiculous. I guess we’re supposed to understand that there’s some sort of connection between the two women, even in this alternate timeline, and that’s why Claire trusted Kate. But it didn’t really work for me. Plus, why weren’t there a thousand police cars following Kate out of the airport?? Why didn’t Claire call the police after getting out of the cab, rather than just waiting … [continued]
On Monday I wrote about Arthur C. Clarke’s magnificent novel 2010: Odyssey Two. After completing the novel, I couldn’t resist taking another look at Peter Hyams’ film adaptation, with the revised title of 2010: The Year We Make Contact. (It’s a film I had only seen once, back in the mid ’90s on video.)
Somehow it seems acceptable to me for Mr. Clarke to choose to write a follow-up to his own novel (2001: A Space Odyssey). Yet the idea of a movie sequel to Stanley Kubrik’s iconic and influential film — particularly a sequel helmed by another director, and one whose story would set out to answer many of the questions that Kubrik so pointedly left unanswered — seems almost sacrilegious.
2010 is not a film that should be any good. It could have so easily wound up being Blues Brothers 2000. And yet, somehow, while it’s nowhere near as great as the novel, it is a far better film than it has any right to be.
Whereas Stanley Kubrik’s 2001 was slow and lyrical and notably short on any actual plot or character development, 2010 is more of an adventure film. There is no shooting and there are no fist-fights, thank goodness. But there’s solid narrative thrust throughout the film, as we follow Heywood Floyd (recast here as the wonderful Roy Scheider) on his odyssey towards Jupiter. Once there, tension mounts as the mysteries deepen and an enormous potential danger is discovered.
I was very pleasantly surprised, rewatching this film, at how many talented and familiar faces make up the cast. There’s Roy Scheider, of course, who makes a potent lead. His Dr. Floyd is a man of great intelligence and integrity, and a bit more of an action hero than the rather administrative version of the character as played by William Sylvester in 2001. John Lithgow plays the American engineer Walter Curnow, and he brings a lot of warmth and humanity to the role. I was disappointed that the Indian character of Dr. Chandra, HAL 9000′s creator, was recast in the film as an American — but when that American is played by the terrific Bob Balaban, I really can’t complain. Then there’s Helen Mirren — yes, THAT Helen Mirren — as the Russian captain of the Lenov (the vessel launched towards Jupiter in an attempt to rescue the Discovery and discover what happened to Dave Bowman). She doesn’t have a whole lot to do in the film, but she’s great whenever she’s on screen. It’s fun to see her in this type of sci-fi/adventure role.
While the visual effects of the film don’t quite hold up as well as those … [continued]