Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ohhh. Now that's BAD.

So you're going to be a villain in a James Bond movie. Who do you base your character on? Imadinnerjacket? Kim Jong-il? Heck, the Unabomber? OJ Simpson? Rick Berman?


Amalric said he modeled his character to some extent on former Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. "I've been taking details, the smile of Tony Blair, the craziness of Sarkozy, he's the worst villain we've ever had," he said

Uh huh. Simple choice. Live in France under Sarkozy, live in Syria under Bashar al-Assad. Or Iraq under that cuddly old fellow Hussein. (Walk in the park, that was.) Give us your answer. Take your time...

Quantum of Solace, by the way, is a really depressing story. Bond's not even in it, really other than as a bookend. It's a story being told to him by some Brit official at a party in Jamaica or somewhere about this couple where the fellow was a nice guy and the wife ran around on him with the tennis pro. The fellow commits suicide out of shame and leaves her alone and penniless. See? The Bond books weren't all women and gadgets and car chases.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

No fate but what we make...

Wow. Sarah Connor Chronicles is well worth your time. For the moment it's my new favorite show. I think the first two episodes (there are three) are freebies on-line right now. Tiny spoilers ahead.

They manage some great shout-outs to the original movies. I think the only really heavy-handed one (that still works) is "Come with me if you want to live." The fact that Summer Glau's terminator is named "Cameron" still makes me giggle. They used the ending of T2 (which is the first shot of the show, BTW) to muddy the waters enough so that even the stuff you "know" becomes a little uncertain. Judgment Day has moved around, but it's still going to happen. They even figured out a nod to Terminator 3!

I'm sure the folk that have seen the Terminator movies way more time than I have can find some bigger errors than I did. So far the only detail I think they missed was humans aren't hacking and wheezing and puking after time travel. The timeline seems fairly solid. I'm not sure I ever did the math that T2 happens not too long before Judgement Day - John is born in 1984/85 and he's twelvish. So it's 1997ish (even though the movie was in 1991.) I don't entirely buy that Sarah was supposed to be 18 in Terminator. Sure, ok, why not? (18 looked a lot older when I was 15.) The one thing they really threw out is the idea that there was no more time travel after Reese and Arnold made their first trip to 1984. T2 didn't worry about it too much either. Turns out there was a LOT of time traveling. Of course these people are from farther in the future, so who knows what happened THEN? (Seems like they didn't invent that FX intensive liquid metal.) And time is a lot less circular than it was in the first movie. Again, that also went out the window with the second movie.

This show is giving me some of the same vibe that BSG used to give me when they would pick the solutions that would WORK even if they didn't "feel good". (It all went to heck entertaining and still very watchable heck after Pegasus.) Sarah vs. Cameron is a great conflict. Talk about Tin Man.

The show addresses some of the issues that bugged me about T2 to the point where I didn't even enjoy it anymore (and almost all at the end). (Yes, I know there are deleted scenes that show that Arnold could learn. Don't care.) My favorite fix so far? Cameron is a lot less malleable than Arnold was in T2. She only listens to John. And according to her, John isn't John yet. (I love that.) She'll do the ruthless unthinkable things that future John and Kyle Reese would have done that Sarah might not. She's not nearly as cards-on-the-table as Arnold. There's some secrets to her mission she hasn't let on. And she was clearly devoted to future John. She looks at John with a little bit of wonder and disgust at why he isn't yet who he's going to be.

Sarah is a really terrific mix of the "girl next door" that she was in T1, a devoted mom, and trying to be the super-tough warrior of the future. She's not as accepting of that last role as she was in T2. More like she was in T1. And by this point she's really really really tired. They've also done some nice work with what kind of events would have been triggered after T2. And Sarah is still having some pretty vivid nightmares. (Interesting question: If nuclear Armageddon is a certainty and you have visitors from the future telling you about it's outcome, is it worth prolonging WW II by having the Los Alamos team retroactively whacked?)

John is ok. I like him more than I did in T2. Way more than T3. (Ok, the very end of T3 still rocks.) It will be an interesting sub-plot (even if it's just hinted at) about how he gets from 1999 tech to learning 2008. (And computer geeks knew about browser history in 1999 too. It wasn't QUITE stone knives and bear skins.) What a seven year period to jump. Yikes. There are some historical details they're going to have to catch up on very quickly. And did you SEE who's governor of California?!?

Oh, the time jump. Very nice. Allows them to keep the movie continuity and still not have to deal with it being 1999 all the time. I'm sure we'll learn more about some of the details surrounding that later.

I like the FBI subplot. It always bugs me when the authorities are willfully stupid about the inexplicable. This guy seems convincible. He won't quite be the inspector Gerard of The Terminator. I'm betting he will be part of the team or dead by the end of the season.

I hope they continue to grow the resistance subplot slowly. And so far, no flash-forwards to the War. I hope they're holding those in reserve.

I wonder if they know where they're going with this? We've got three seasons till Judgment Day, right? To say nothing of Terminator 4 with Christian Bale as John waiting in the wings. Will this show really tell a whole story? Do they have a plan?

I wonder who or what they're holding in the wings? What about our friendly psychiatrist from T1 and T2? Will we see Kyle Reese as a kid? That's the biggest time-travel related "Huh"? If JD doesn't happen in ''97 and the resistance apparently gets shifted accordingly, isn't Kyle going to be quite a bit older when Skynet falls? Or is Sarah's Kyle from an "alternate future"? It's all so complicated.

And will Fox actually tolerate having a sci-fi hit? This could be ground breaking. Go writer's strike! (Until we need new eps, of course.)

Monday, January 21, 2008

God speed, Mr. Spock

Well, however the movie turns out, this just gets the blood pumping.

It's certainly not what I was expecting to see. But it looks cool. And it still feels like we'll boldly go. I've decided I don't give a hang what they do, so long as it feels as fun as old-school Trek. Go, J.J., go!

40 years ago... No, wait...

I had been anticipating this past Christmas Eve's blog post for some time now. It would be the FORTIETH anniversary of mankind's first ever excursion from the confines of Terran orbit. (Why is "Gaia" so cool and accepted? Terra has always been SO much cooler.) Apollo 8. Frank, Jim, and Bill. Out and about.

Then it hit me: That wasn't the year. You can tell because 2007 doesn't end with an 8. Then it hit me some more: I'm NOT going to be forty this month! Whooooo!

So anyway, forty years ago we were still a year out from the Apollo 1 fire. (I should have noted that last January, but I didn't.) Heck, forty years ago we were still almost a year away from Apollo 7, the first manned launch of the Apollo program, and the first time back into space since Jim Lovell and Buzz Aldrin splashed down in November of 1966. Put another way: There were no American spaceflights for almost the entire run of Star Trek.

Well, gives me plenty of time to write up THAT entry..

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Cine Capri - a Followup

Here's a nice link with a TEENY picture of THE BIG GREEN WALL. Read the comments. Lot of info there.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Cine Capri 1966-1998

Can anyone believe it's been ten years? Goodness.

The Cine Capri was THE movie theater in Phoenix, Arizona. It showed Star Wars exclusively for over a year in 1977 / 1978. Exclusively. One theater. One screen. Imagine that. If you saw Star Wars in the Valley first run, you saw it at the Capri. I did not. I saw it (at night) in Rocky Hill, Connecticut.

But I got to see the theatrical release of Battlestar Galactica. In SENSOROUND! If I'm remembering correctly, this was the cut where they actually killed Baltar. When they put it on TV they realized that 1) John Colicos was COOL and 2) that people are cheaper to film than robots. (Although they did introduce Lucifer - to an eight year old, this was a subtle and crafty name. But then so was Adam-a.)

Then The Empire Strikes Back opened. Imagine the coolest movie ever made having a sequel - that was ALSO the coolest movie ever made! I know there's been one since then. Ok, X2 is close. But seriously. And this was my first Cine Capri Line. There was this BIG GREEN TILED WALL (that I have NO pictures of). You'd get your tickets, then you'd stand in line next to this wall. There was a small misunderstanding of procedure (get tickets, THEN stand in line) so we didn't get in to see Empire on our first attempt. I apologize for any atrocities I committed or promised that night. I was eleven.

But when we DID get to see it... Oh, my. This was the second Star Wars. We didn't know how it would work. We didn't know that the beginning and ending would be the same for all NINE (NINE, George, you said NINE - not that we WANT three more movies now, thank you) movies. So when the crowd before us came out and I heard THE music... You think I'm excitable NOW?

We didn't see many movies at the Capri when I was a kid. Galactica, Empire, Fantasia (that I sadly walked out on and went to play Asteroids in the lobby. Uncultured twerp.)

The next movie I saw was Aliens (1986). AND we saw it immediately after watching Alien on videotape. I had never seen it. So I got to see them back to back. That was just cool.

Lotta movie over the next ten years. Probably the biggest event was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Lawrence of Arabia had played before that and it had gone long every night that it ran (it had an intermission - I've talked about this). The night Indy opened was no exception. So as we stood in the 100 degree heat at midnight, some over-caffeinated (or whatever) fanboy ran up to the lobby to MOON the camera crews inside. Well, he was running a LITTLE too fast. He wound up slamming into the window with his bare bottom, and cracking the glass! (Hrmmm, do I change the word choice? Noooo...) He then limped off into the night, bleeding a little, and was not heard from again.

Finally got to see the ORIGINAL Star Wars there in 1993. Drove down from Prescott a couple times for it. Ahhhhh. While I was in Ohio they ran all three. The only time the original Jedi played at the Capri.

We saw Independence Day at four in the morning on opening night. It was on, we were up.

Then there were the Star Wars Special Editions. (Little did we know...)

Which means I have to tell the Empire story. Some friends where sitting many rows in front of me. There was an altercation involving 1) my friends 2) a jerk 3) stupid kids and 4) a theater sized cup of Coke. There was flinging and shouting and dousing. But from many rows back, it played like this:

Luke: How am I to know the good side from the bad.
Yoda: You will KNOW. When you are calm. At peace...
Voice: F*** YOU! G**-D*** IT! AAAAARGH!

Gone to the dark side, had they.

A year later there would be a smoking hole there. And then an anonymous office complex. The land was too valuable. And the Powers That Be decided that they would take no chances. There was a night club at the site that nobody cared about. They were allowed to stay open until they actually needed the land. But TPB knew that every moment the Capri stood was another moment for some fool petition to succeed and keep the Capri open. So as the closing credits of Titanic rolled, ten years ago today, they started to dismantle the theater. Some of us got bits of the signature green tiling from the wall (I gave mine away as soon as I got it, but I know folks that have theirs). The next day it was gone.

There are several new "Cine Capri" Auditoriums. They're nice. I like them. But they don't even come close. Not even close.

Movies that I saw at the Cine Capri:

Battlestar Galactica
The Empire Strikes Back
Lawrence of Arabia
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The Abyss
Back to the Future part II
Back to the Future part III (?)
Days of Thunder
Memphis Belle
The Godfather Part III
Batman Returns
Far and Away
Addams Family
Star Wars
Blade Runner (Director's Cut)
Jurassic Park
My Fair Lady (Added)
The Fugitive
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Belle de jour
Toy Story
Mr. Holland's Opus
Mission: Impossible
The Rock
Independence Day
Star Trek: First Contact
Star Wars SE
The Empire Strikes Back SE
Return of the Jedi SE
Das Boot
LA Confidential
Devil's Advocate
Starship Troopers