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How did you like that movie / TV show / book?

Isaac Sauvage

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re: animated Batman,
I mostly stopped watching TV in the early 90's, but did manage to catch some of that new Batman animated series. I thought it was just great, taking some elements and influence from Frank Miller and Tim Burton's depictions, but creating something new and fresh, with touches of humor and maybe even subtle commentary that had generally been missing from cartoons for quite awhile. That's also the same series in which Mark Hamill played The Joker, right?

Too bad if they indeed just turned all that in to a template and stopped running with the concept.
 
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Isaac Sauvage

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I've been enjoying the first episode of Gerry Anderson's 1970 series "UFO" today. Gerry's the guy who made all those cool / ridiculous marionette shows in the 60's, such as Thunderbirds. (Remember that one?)

Thunderbirds_682_831805a.jpg


Those shows were pretty damn unique-looking (sort of Jonny Quest meets Gumby, deep in the Uncanny Valley) and undoubtedly had influence on other adventure & sci-fi series. (I presume so, anyway)

Anyway, UFO's premise is something about an alien species on a mission to collect humans, necessitating a joint Earth force to fight off the creeps. The allied forces are stationed in orbit, in the skies, on the ground, and even underwater(!), and must coordinate exactingly to fight off each incursion. It hardly matters, really. What's meant to grab you by the eyes are the costumes, the sets, the hairdos, the cute babes (and lecherous older men?), and of course, the quick pacing. It's all sort of a nifty, crude exercise in how to pull off a show about nothing, leaving you vaguely wanting more.

I must say, I think I prefer this kind of thing to today's counterpart movies, which mainly just drop in a convoluted plot and unnecessarily elaborate special effects. /rant!

 
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GeorgeH

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I have watched the whole series. I loved it. It is odd how they pronounce UFO. It is something like - U Foe. It could be a British accent of it or something.

I saw Tenet at the movie theater. It is not that great. Too complex. It was like they intentionally made it complex because it could have been made less complex without causing any problems.
 

Isaac Sauvage

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Yeah, I gather "U-Foe" is the common British pronunciation.

Something I forgot to mention above is that the sequel to this series got delayed, but wound up turning in to "Space: 1999," which ran about five years later. Shouldn't be totally surprising, as there's certain similarities in pacing and style.

UFO hairdos.jpg

Color and style-matched hairdo's on the space station!

UFO fishnet.jpg

Standard womens fishnet uniforms in the underwater division!​

UFO toy.jpg

Evidently there was even a line of toy figures, which seems unusual to me for a fairly niche series that only ran one season. I must say, that's quite a high level of facial detail for this kind of toy, especially for back then. :o
 
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GeorgeH

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I didn't know that. I watched all of the "Space: 1999" episodes also. Martin Landau was one of the best actors.

I thought the purple wigs were rather odd myself. I guess the intent was to make them look more modern.
 

Isaac Sauvage

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Holy poodle-muffin, Batman!

I just noticed that the entire 9-hr DVD version of James Clavell's Shogun mini-series is up on Youtube. This was not only a landmark series that (along with Alex Haley's Roots) helped pave the way for all the high-quality cable mini-series that became the norm, but also a damn fine, fascinating adaptation of an amazing book about the Japans of the early 1600's, when it was dominated by warlords and feifdoms. It's also directly based on the lives of historical figures, starting with William Adams and shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu.

I first watched this as a kid around the year it came out (1980), and it's one of the biggest influences that started me down a long road of fascination with Japan, with Asia, and history in general. I've re-watched it a few times over the years, and am happy to say that it's one of those things that holds up very nicely. Sad to say, unlike a lot of other stuff I used to enjoy.


An English navigator - 'Blackthorne' ('Anjin-san' as we later come to know him) - becomes both a player and pawn in the complex political games of feudal Japan. Although intended for an english-speaking audience, the Japanese characters speak in Japanese throughout the drama, except when translating for Blackthorne. The drama is presented from Blackthorne's point of view so that what he doesn't understand, we shouldn't understand either. However, like great operatic performances which transcend the language in which they are performed, the magnificent talents of the Japanese cast rarely leave us unclear of their character's meaning, intentions, and gravity.

The performances of Toshirô Mifune (Lord Yoshi Toranaga), Furankî Sakai (Lord Kashigi Yabu, Daimyo of Izu), Hideo Takamatsu (Lord Buntaro), Yūki Meguro (Omi, Head Samurai of Anjiro), and Nobuo Kaneko (Ishido, Ruler of Osaka Castle) are masterful and crackle with an authenticity that leaves no doubt they are the masters of life and death in their respective realms.

Yôko Shimada's (Lady Toda Buntaro 'Mariko') superbly graceful performance is equally masterful as it is bewitching, tender, and nuanced. The placid expression she wears mask an inner passion and depth of emotion that, at times, seem to be on the verge of breaking her noble decorum. If you are ever dumbfounded as to the significance of a particular scene look at her eyes for the true meaning of the moment.

Apart from the wonderful Richard Chamberlain (whose life as Anjin-san/Blackthorne this story centers upon) the other great western actors include John Rhys-Davies (the Spanish navigator and personal friend and national enemy of Blackthorne), Alan Badel (Father Visitor Dell'Aqua the Jesuit mastermind and de facto Portuguese ambassador in residence), Damien Thomas (Father Alvito as Blackthorne's cunning and pious nemesis and sometime friend), Vladek Sheybal (Ferriera the openly racist mercantilist Captain of the Black Ship).

The delightfully urbane narration of Orson Welles provides the audience with much appreciated insights into the various twists and turns of the plot and is often, in the course of the same sentence, gravely serious, humorous, insightful, and playful.

Composer Maurice Jarre, a titan of film music and whose credits include Lawrence of Arabia, Grand Prix, Doctor Zhivago, Jesus of Nazareth, Fatal Attraction, among many others, created a magnificent musical accompaniment to this drama that employs both western and eastern musical forms and instruments and results in a very satisfying fusion of both.

Note, dear viewer, this 40 year old made-for-tv drama is a product of its era and consequently has moments of lamentable but ultimately forgivable 'orientalism.'

While Blackthorne becomes lost and engulfed by the culture into which he is thrown, and is enchanted (the bath scene) and horrified (the pheasant incident) by the inscrutable Japanese, these moments do little to promote a Conradian light-bringing meta-narrative but rather poignantly illustrate that it is Blackthorne and the other Europeans who are the barbarians, the gaijin (外人) and interlopers in this ancient and great civilization.

Clavell's story is loosely based on the life of English navigator William Adams, who himself journeyed to Japan in 1600 and rose to high rank in the service of the Tokugawa shogunate.

The viewer may be surprised by the christian elements of the drama. Crucifiction In particular seems incongruous given the Japanese tendency toward cultural isolation in this period but was indeed appropriated by Japan as one of the most humiliating forms of corporal punishment - often applied ironically to converted christian japanese - as early as the 12th century. The theme of Catholicism's struggle to contain the spread of Protestantism abroad is also an important theme of the story but one that tends, in my opinion, to undermine the otherwise admirable and heroic aspects of Anjin-san's character development.

European colonial ambitions in Japan are on full display in the course of the drama and the interplay of both sides of the contest to control Japan's destiny provides a complex picture of both the would-be colonizers and the feudal lords who use them to further their own ends.
 

LeeVanCleef

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When this first aired, I was not interested in it in the least. About a decade and some change later, I came across the novel at a used book sale and thought I'd grab it... there was a time when just about every house in the country had a copy of it. Then I finally got around to reading it and really enjoyed it! But now I don't know if I want to spoil that experience by watching the miniseries. The older I get, the less I think books should be turned in to miniseries or movies unless there's a real good reason for it. I don't know... I may give it a shot. Toshiro Mifune, right? He can always be counted on. My favorite '80s miniseries is Lonesome Dove, hands down. I wonder how many times I've watched that? Maybe 10? Almost as many times as I've read the book. One of my favorite "comfort food" titles.
 

Isaac Sauvage

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...But now I don't know if I want to spoil that experience by watching the miniseries. The older I get, the less I think books should be turned in to miniseries or movies unless there's a real good reason for it. I don't know... I may give it a shot. Toshiro Mifune, right? He can always be counted on.
Well, the mini-series is meticulously faithful. You can certainly skip it if you're looking for a reimagining of the book. Personally, one of the reasons why I've re-watched the series several times now is because of the individual performances, which range from spellbinding to unexpectedly hilarious. The actors who play Mariko, Lord Yabu, Toranaga (Mifune) and Rodrigues (John Rhys-Davies) in particular are almost impossible to take your eyes off of.

Also, I found many of the scenes to be thrilling, or moving, or both. For example Blackthorn pretending to lose his mind in order to help Toranaga escape Castle Osaka, Blackthorn's suicide attempt in order to save the villagers, Toranaga's ridiculous attempt to dance a sea shanty, Father Dell'Aqua saving Blackthorn's life while blinded, Lord Yabu's ritual seppuku, Mariko's heartbreaking final letter to Blackthorn, and many other minor scenes. Or even when the scenes were more routine, I consistently felt a raw undercurrent of fascination with what was happening in that culture, in that time of the world. Certainly that wouldn't be the same with an episode of The Rifleman or Husky & Starch.

When I happen to watch the series, I feel like there's no choice but to read the book. When I happen to read the book, I feel like I have no choice but to watch the series. I find they both enrich each other remarkably, and I can't say that about many other such combos.

One thing that helps me a lot though, is to start each segment by re-watching the series' opening credits, with its rousing music and flourishes, at the beginning of each two-hour segment. Somehow that really sets the tone and energy, particularly as the series can move kind of slowly given it's own nature and that of the filming period (1980).

Btw, I also loved the novel Taipan, set much later in Hong Kong, and always meant to read more of Clavell's novels in his Asian cycle.

Actually I have a weird aversion to reading books at the moment, or at least historical fiction books, based on what a sympathetic yet monstrous bastard of a lead character featured in the last thing I read, As Meat Loves Salt. Yes, I mean Jacob Cullen... yikes. Far better if he'd been a plainly loathsome toad. :s

My favorite '80s miniseries is Lonesome Dove, hands down. I wonder how many times I've watched that? Maybe 10? Almost as many times as I've read the book. One of my favorite "comfort food" titles.
Ah man, I liked the first one with Duvall a whole bunch, and meant to watch more of them over time. Feel free to give me a recommendation, as I believe there's a handful, all told.
 
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Isaac Sauvage

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Not sure how many people know about this, but there's plenty of cool 3D / 360 videos right on Youtube. You don't actually need a VR headset or special equipment to enjoy them.

Just go fullscreen, then use the keys "W-A-S-D" to look all around you. Right and left arrow keys jump back and forth in time. Up and down raise and lower volume.

There's different ways to search for the videos, but these two links should mostly do the job:
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=3d+video
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=#360Video

As I understand it, these videos were produced with something along the lines of a "GoPro 360," which might go as low as $50 used. I was thinking about getting one of these to make some 360 videos of club-level table tennis play, except that our club is still closed due to CV19. Ah well.
 

Isaac Sauvage

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All the episodes of "Rocky Jones, Space Rangers" which was released in 1954 are available on YouTube here:

T8Hf-9wHA0I
Looks cute. When I first saw their boss on the video screen, I almost thought it was going to be a "Plan 9 from Outer Space" moment!

Interesting how the two space rangers are so noticeably buff, with t-shirts evidently intended to show that off. I'm not sure I've ever seen that kind of thing before in 50's sci-fi. We're they trying to appeal to a female audience with that stuff, do you reckon?
 

Isaac Sauvage

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For some reason YT recommended this Our Gang short to me yesterday, and I wound up watching the whole thing. I think I remember seeing it long ago, but now it's been colorised! Has Ted Turner been getting better over the years, or what?


It's a little slow in places, and sometimes it feels like the child actors are being overcoached.

Indeed, apparently the previous director quit just before this film, and the new director kind of shut down improvisation and stuck closely to the scripts from here on!

OTOH, Spanky's facial expressions and one-liners are a scream. All that as a six-year-old!

On that note, I found this excerpt from WP rather timely:
Hi-Neighbor! was the first Our Gang film produced after the series' four-month hiatus, necessitated by George "Spanky" McFarland's unavailability. While on loan to Paramount to appear in Miss Fane's Baby Is Stolen (1934), McFarland caught whooping cough, but his parents allowed him to work while sick. As a result, McFarland gave the disease to his juvenile co-star Baby LeRoy, forcing a shutdown in production. As punishment to McFarland's parents, the Los Angeles Board of Education suspended George McFarland's work permit for ninety days, resulting in a four-month gap between the production of Wild Poses in August 1933 and Hi'-Neighbor! in January 1934.

If you get bored, you might want to jump ahead to 11:10, in which the competition somehow loses his pants through a drill-hole, or 12:45, in which the 'great chariot race' begins. (bonus points for the pedestrians getting mowed down in the cutest way ever)
 

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Isaac Sauvage

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And now, from the not-quite-morbid dept:

Apocalypse Now (1979) was a legendarily crazy shoot, and the story below seems to fit that vibe perfectly. This was a war movie that followed an attempt by a small group of US army special forces to assassinate a rogue officer of theirs. The movie was set in Vietnam and Cambodia, but shot in the Philippines.

Evidently it was cheaper to use real actors than it was to have a prop department create fake severed heads. This happened as part of the temple scenes, near the end of the movie, where Martin Sheen finally tracks down Marlon Brando's elusive character. The extras playing the "heads" evidently had to sit in boxes buried underground for long stretches. You can see umbrellas propped above their heads due to rain, according to Sophie Coppola.

Incredibly, all that may actually have been "plan B!"
From WP:
Real human corpses were bought from a man who turned out to be a grave-robber. The police took the film crew's passports and questioned them, and then soldiers came and took the bodies away.

I saw these photos on Reddit, and most of this info comes from from the making-of documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991).
 

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LeeVanCleef

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Ah man, I liked the first one with Duvall a whole bunch, and meant to watch more of them over time. Feel free to give me a recommendation, as I believe there's a handful, all told.
The Lonesome Dove sequels/prequels are a case of diminishing returns. Cheyenne Moon is probably the best of the bunch, both in book and miniseries. I mean, no one's going to outdo Duvall and Tommy Lee, but Karl Urban gives a pretty good Tommy Lee riff, and I think it's David Arquette who, surprisingly, doesn't do a bad Duvall!

That Salty Meat book sounded so freaky, I went out and grabbed me a copy! The "Oliver's Army" years aren't ones I'm as familiar with as other eras of English history. Right now I just happen to be about 200 years before those events in a biography of The Brothers York, whose reign ended with Richard III. It is, by turns, fascinating and a little dull. My Kingdom for an editor!

I thought that Rocky Jones looked familiar! MST3K roasted ol' Rocky back in the day! It starts around the 14-minute mark.
 
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GeorgeH

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Looks cute. When I first saw their boss on the video screen, I almost thought it was going to be a "Plan 9 from Outer Space" moment!

Interesting how the two space rangers are so noticeably buff, with t-shirts evidently intended to show that off. I'm not sure I've ever seen that kind of thing before in 50's sci-fi. We're they trying to appeal to a female audience with that stuff, do you reckon?

I don't know but I suspect it was more of a guy show.

Maybe I am odd but I liked "Plan 9 from Outer Space" even though it is considered to be the worst movie ever made. I liked Disney's "John Carter" movie too which was a flop at the box office.
 

Isaac Sauvage

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I don't know but I suspect it was more of a guy show.

Maybe I am odd but I liked "Plan 9 from Outer Space" even though it is considered to be the worst movie ever made. I liked Disney's "John Carter" movie too which was a flop at the box office.
A lot of people love Plan 9 vis-a-vis the whole 'so bad it's good' principle.

Ed Wood wasn't a great director obviously, but IMO he -did- have a professional grasp of constructing scenes and snappily moving a plot forward. I suspect it was that marriage of true competency with his chronic tendency to cut corners everywhere else that made for such amusingly bad films.

The Lonesome Dove sequels/prequels are a case of diminishing returns. Cheyenne Moon is probably the best of the bunch, both in book and miniseries. I mean, no one's going to outdo Duvall and Tommy Lee, but Karl Urban gives a pretty good Tommy Lee riff, and I think it's David Arquette who, surprisingly, doesn't do a bad Duvall!

That Salty Meat book sounded so freaky, I went out and grabbed me a copy! The "Oliver's Army" years aren't ones I'm as familiar with as other eras of English history. Right now I just happen to be about 200 years before those events in a biography of The Brothers York, whose reign ended with Richard III. It is, by turns, fascinating and a little dull. My Kingdom for an editor!
Guess you mean Comanche Moon. I viewed the trailer and read the synopsis, and fear the clashes with the Comanches would bum me out (I'm not a big fan of white man's expansionism), but it does look good, overall. Val Kilmer's always fun to watch, and I'd love to see how Jake Busey followed up on his hilarious Ace Levy role from you-know-what. :D

Wow, I look forward to hearing what you think about Salt. Such a good book, but so conflicting for me. Guess I'll just zip it for now. So, got some interesting info on the Yorks? My head's likely full of rubbish on that score, based on watching too much Blackadder I.

Btw, if you're looking for some Viking historical fiction, I read a very satisfying (if harrowing and violent) series not too long ago set in the time of the bloodthirsty Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons. It was by good ol' Harry Harrison and Tom Shippey, a Tolkien scholar. The real point of interest is that one of the Vikings (and later bitter enemy of the Ragnars) decides to gather up as much of the technology of the day and use it in an organised way to combat both the Ragnars and the Christian kingdoms. It makes a lot of intrinsic sense IMO, and the character goes on to become something of a Charlemagne, or maybe Alexander the Great figure. Plus, all the inherent tragedy such names imply.

Btw, one of the things I recently learned from Reddit's "Ask Historians" section is that, contrary to popular assumption, we actually hardly know anything about Viking belief! So... Thor, Ragnarok, Odin, The Midgard Serpent, Loki, Baldur and all that stuff...? Evidently it was just a local set of beliefs to one particular area, and there's little or no actual evidence that other Viking settlements believed in the same gods and mythology. Kind of a bitter pill to swallow, for some of us. oO
 
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LeeVanCleef

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I think I've had my fill of Vikings! I spent years reading The Last Kingdom series by Bernard Cornwell, even before they turned it into a Netflix series. Really good series on both the TV and book front, but after it got to about six books, I started losing interest. I'm not much of a "numbered books" fan. Sooner or later it starts to feel like the author has hooked up a milking machine to an increasingly dried-out and aggravated cow. The lack of a standard theology for Vikings isn't too surprising. They weren't as much into writin' as they were killin'. But I would almost bet that religion spread to other bands and lands. They were certainly advanced enough to form a single belief system across their society. Plus, there's few things more contagious as religion. COVID ain't got nothing on it.
 

Pop Bumper Pete

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Just finished The Justice League, The Snyder Cut

Much better than the theatrical release

Better then Batman vs Superman
not as dour as The Man of Steel

It does do a LOTR and have 3 endings, you can stop watching once Clark/superman walks into The Daily Planet

Recommended
 

AnonTet

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I just got that movie but was unsure about it. Decided that it was worth the risk and now it seems it's not half bad. :)
 

Isaac Sauvage

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The lack of a standard theology for Vikings isn't too surprising. They weren't as much into writin' as they were killin'. But I would almost bet that religion spread to other bands and lands. They were certainly advanced enough to form a single belief system across their society. Plus, there's few things more contagious as religion. COVID ain't got nothing on it.
IIRC, there were a bunch of situations amongst Viking artifacts and other remains in which one would naturally expect to see references to the 'standard set' of gods and/or that we're familiar with, but there's just... little or nothing. Nothing to really indicate that there was a unified religion or a unified culture nearly as much as we're come to believe. Again, this is from what the body of historians have found so far and have commented extensively on.

Also, just playing advocatus diaboli for a moment, my life-long understanding of the way cultures, languages and belief work, is that unless you have a subgroup of said peoples absolutely full-on dedicated to proselytising, and/or keeping things unified (and even then...), then peoples' will naturally tend to splinter and form their own evolutions and variations of these things over time. We see this in culture after culture throughout history, and its really quite unusual when such is not the case. Especially when you have a situation like that of the Vikings, in which numerous of their communities were far-flung and cut-off from each other for long periods, or permanently.

Yeap, I still feel a bit let down by it all, but Thor and pals really do seem to be a local / regional belief system that the vast majority of Viking settlements couldn't give a toss about.

Anyway, there's my "brief rebuttal of the day." (tm) :s
 
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StevOz

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This be a beast of a Viking Saga and with great historical intrigue...


 

Isaac Sauvage

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No torrents for that.

Perhaps try the internet archive.;)
Thanks for checking. Didn't have any luck at the archive, either.

I have to think there's a huge collection bopping around somewhere. @Liteuser. and @Flying Dutchman both seemed to have some massive, high-quality collections many years ago, for example.

Not hard to find individual files these days, but that's slow work, comparatively.
 
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