Friday, May 30, 2008

Alexander Courage 1919-2008

Very sad news.

One of my favorite "Sandy" Courage stories (also a good Jerry Goldsmith story) was when Goldsmith wrote Star Trek: The Motion Picture he was told that he didn't have to use the original theme at all (and he didn't want to). As the release date got close the Powers (whether this was Robert Wise or not, I don't know) decided that it ought to be in there SOMEWHERE. As it happened the orchestrator for TMP was... Alexander Courage! So Goldsmith threw it over to him and he used as the music for the Captain's logs. (One of the most charming decisions in that film. Long on gorgeous, a little short on charm.) As Goldsmith tells it, he learned his lesson. He opened every Trek film he composed afterwards with Courage's theme.

Jeff Bond (author of the Music of Star Trek) has more to say:

Check out the documentary on Courage hosted by John Williams!

Excuse me, I need to go listen to The Cage and Superman IV.

Godspeed, Mr. Courage.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Man with the Hat is Back...

...and this time he's bored. Well, ok, maybe not THAT bad. But still.

You know, I remember coming out of Temple of Doom with a nagging feeling of disappointment. (I'm not nearly the Temple of Doom hater that most of the world is. I understand the problems. If I haven't already posted the ups and downs of the Indy films - and I think I have - then I'll get to it directly.) But I don't remember feeling the weight of it while I was still in the theater. No, wait. I take that back. When they jumped out of the airplane on an inflatable raft and fell and fell and fell and FELL and then LIVED I knew there was something wrong.

Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull is a lot like that. A LOT.

My biggest gripe with the movie? Sets! It's all sets! And apologies to Mr. Spielberg because I think there was more location footage than it felt like. Which meant that he shot real places to look like SETS! (I don't care how cool it was in War of the Worlds or even Drive. Don't film car chases in an Indy movie on SETS!)

There were sets in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Well of the Souls. Marion's bar. But 1) none of these were extended with pretty obvious green screen and 2) there were GLORIOUS locations. Peru. Cairo. Heck, even the Nazi island had location shooting. (Look! It's Obi-Wan Kenobi!) Remember when all of the workers are digging for the Well and Indy puts on his hat back lit by the setting sun? Nothing of that kind of scope here. Skull feels very stage-bound and very very VERY small. It reminds me of Hook in that respect. When you're in an Indy movie and the BIGGEST location is Yale, you're in trouble.

Someone once tried to encourage me that at least we'd get a new Williams score. But even Williams does something he never did for the previous Indy scores: He does a direct reprise. One of the first times we hear the Raiders march it's a repeat of Flight from Peru. *sigh* There are a couple more. I haven't bought the score and I'm not sure I will. If you know me and that doesn't make you a little dizzy then you must be made of stronger stuff.

I liked it better than the Mummy movies. I liked it better than Star Wars 2 and 3. There are some very charming moments. There's a couple of good action sequences. (They've never held a candle to the truck chase in Raiders even in the other Indy movies.) They depend on your good will from the last three movies (Last Crusade more than anything else) and they largely get it. I thrilled when I heard the Ark theme. (But it's one of Williams' four or five best themes ever, so that was easy.) There are several very nice nods to Marcus Brody. (He's treated with more respect here than in the entirety of Last Crusade.) It's good to see Marion again. The bad guys are largely forgettable. Take From Russia With Love and add henchmen from North by Northwest. (Oh, and if you're going to take a stance that the anti-communist
paranoia of the 50's was crazy, don't put commies around every corner!
Seems the paranoia was justified, eh comrade?)

"I like Ike." Heh.

But it never made me tingle the way that Raiders did when the old man tells them about the Staff of Ra. That movie still holds the award for Best Exposition Ever. I did like the quieter bits of this film more than many reviewers. Maybe because when it was quiet there was no lame CG or bad bad BAD sword fights. Let's face it, this movie goes a long way on Harrison Ford.

If I never see another damn CG prairie dog again it will be too soon.

The actors were still top notch. Harrison Ford is still Harrison Ford. (Has anyone pointed out that Indy is 8 years younger than Ford in this movie?) If he ever manages to be in a great movie again he'll be terrific. John Hurt is still awesome. Jim Broadbent is still a treasure. I even liked Shia LaBeouf. A lot. (Remember when actors used to change their names if they had names like Archie Leach? Or Shia LaBeouf?) He was almost as cool as he thought he was. And I'll admit that's not nothing.

So there we have it. It's over and done. Better than The Mummy. Not as good as The Rocketeer.

Dr. Jones, adieu.

**** SPOILERS *****

I'm really expected to believe that Indy doesn't think of Marion right away when he hears her name? Seriously?

The A-Bomb looked COOL.

The snake scene had three actors (and an audience) doing a terrific job with a STUPID idea.

I LIKE that it was flying saucers.


The library scene is a perfect example of a neat idea push just that much too far.

Did Indy move into Dad's house?

Looks like Indy has his mother's ears and his father's theme.

The Ark was a waste. Totally a waste. In Raiders that warehouse was one of the spookiest things in a movie not wanting for spooky stuff. Here: A waste.

Glad they kept the old-school Paramount opening like in the other three. Too bad it led to a blasted CG prairie dog.

And finally, CG melting heads do NOT compete with practical effect melting heads.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

BSG 408 - Faith


Still catching up. Everything is written (and watched) just not posted. But hey, American Idol was something, wasn't it? (And the writers of Bones and House will be receiving a bill from my therapist.)

THIS is the BSG that I love. It's not hard to follow at all, but it's sometimes harder to compartmentalize episode to episode. It's a much more "arc-y" show, rather than episodic. All to the good. End of the show. Full speed ahead.

Apparently they count Razor as the first two episodes of this season. So we only get twenty, not twenty-two. And they're talking a couple more movies. And Caprica.

BTW, um, SPOILERS. If you haven't seen the eps, this is not the place
to be looking. Go get the DVDs and then watch the season four eps on We'll wait.

Ok, the Four are from EARTH?!?? That's what it sounds like. And again that Starbuck is the Harbinger of Death. (Lovely title.)

THEY SHOT GAETA! As if his life didn't suck enough already. If they kill Felix I will be very put out. I swear, he's just going to start blowing things up.

Kara's paintings continue to be true. Wild thing, that. I think I'm becoming a Kara/Two shipper. Heh.

Anders wants to play with the basestar. Awesome. I do like how they've split up the Four. They're all dealing with different things in different ways. Tory's still crazy though.

Nice to see Athena is still on our side. She's doing better than iTigh. Or her husband.

The Cylons are still "How could you DO this to us? What did WE do?" Um. Baby. Neck. Then nuclear annihilation of twelve planets. And the occasional suicide bomber. Other than that? Not a thing. However, when Natalie Six shot the other Six in the head? Now I have hope for this alliance. RDM might be able to pull this off.

They killed a hybrid. That's so sad. But she seemed pretty happy about it. And Kara is appropriately freaked.

No Baltar. Only on the radio. Cool. (That they did the radio thing, not that he isn't in the ep.)

A CLOCK. Just because you have a countdown doesn't mean it's 33. Or You Can't Go Home Again. But this was great anyway. I especially liked that Helo was really going to leave. I may not hate him so much. Nah, I'm sure that's not true. Hey Karl, maybe when your wife is lost in the inky blackness with all of your friends you might think "Gee, maybe wiping out the toasters wasn't such a bad idea."

Interesting that Laura is all "metaphorical" these days. Arrow of Apollo doesn't mean so much anymore? That seemed pretty literal.

Oh! That was Nana Visitor! I thought there was something about her. Maybe if I'd actually watched Deep Space Nine.

BUT - looks like Laura's back on track to finding Earth. And, hey, THERE'S Wild Bill! Missed you, sir. Maybe Lee will be in the next ep.

Boom boom boom.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

BSG 407 - The Road Less Traveled


Arrgh! A week behind! It's Firefly all over again. (But catching up fast. I'm as up to date as RDM's podcasts and he gets PAID for this!)

BTW, um, SPOILERS. If you haven't seen the eps, this is not the place
to be looking. Go get the DVDs and then watch the season four eps on We'll wait.

This season is doing a pretty good job of keeping all the balls in the air. We don't touch on everything every week. (Look, an Adama-free episode!) But it keeps you wondering what's going on elsewhere while not boring you with what's going on in front of you.

So, Leoben has shown up with Starbuck three times before. The first time (Flesh and Bone) was awesome. The second time (NewCap) was boring. The third time (bye, bye Starbuck) was pretty cool. I was afraid we were getting into an even / odd thing. Nope. This was AWESOME.

Leoben done right is one of my favorite characters. The coolest thing is that you're never really sure what HE believes. And this ep added an edge of desperation to my favorite toaster. So you REALLY can't tell who's playing who. And forget about Kara and Lee and Anders. Bring on the Cylon v. Cylon rivalry! Whoot!

The Tyrol story is very low key, but it's becoming the most compelling of the Four Cylons story. He's one of the two Four that we've known the longest. And he's not Tigh. (Still mostly not buying iTigh. More in a moment.) And he's the most likely to be all at sea about being a Cylon. Tory is crazy, I honestly don't care about Anders that much. And iTigh has his own set of issues.

So Tyrol and Baltar is a very interesting combination. Especially given Tyrol's faith background.

Baltar and the Baltarians. Not even hating this arc. Which surprises me. But that's ok. A sincere Baltar is a terrifying force. Wonder if they'll ever bring up that GB shot Crashdown? Or that he GAVE A CYLON A NUKE?

iTigh: They should have given him more of this kind of a hook from the beginning. He's got Ellen back. Kind of. At this point I can buy that he'd sell out all of the humans and the toasters too if he can have that. But it took a bit of a jump to get here. He should have told Bill.

Hey look, Helo is making a not so touchy feely stupid decision! (He's wrong, because it's Starbuck, but I'm all for this one.)

Cliff-hanger! See you next week!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Famous Failures

Y'know, I actually have the last TWO BSG write-ups done. I just never remember to post them. Ah well, three is a magic number.

Anyway, this was cool. Jordan? Seriously?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

BSG: 406 Escape Velocity

So say we all. Really good. Some great scenes. Good pace for the series this season. Written by Jane Espenson and directed by Eddie Olmos. Good times there. Always a laugh riot when Eddie's directing.


First off, I love that Bear McCreary has re-purposed the funeral theme from Act of Contrition (better known as the season one opening titles) as Lee's theme. Maybe he did it a long time ago and I'm only just now noticing. The music has been top notch. Bear's been working hard to get to this.

So the Cylons are all crazy? iTigh, Tyrol, and hoooooh-boy Tory. All nuts. (Is Tory seeing things? Or is she just a sociopath?) Anders (I'm still going to call him #4, yes I know that that's a Simon) seems fairly stable other than that whole Starbuck thing. But anybody hanging around with Kara looks sane by comparison.

Almost no Starbuck! Yay! No Cylons. Booo. No "I'm so bitter" Gaeta. Awwww. The Demetrius' token red-shirt sees another day.

Laura's my favorite. Even more than iTigh. (Have I mentioned that I'm not buying for a MOMENT that iTigh hasn't told Wild Bill? Not even for a SECOND. Is it his programming? Well then they are just machines and they can all be turned off. That was easy. Remember when Six snapped a baby's neck right before calling down multi-planetary genocide? Wacky fun.)

Anyway, Laura. Whoo-doggy. "I'm dying and I'm going to make sure the human race is ok no matter what." Huzzah! Even if she's not The Dying Leader she is totally THE Dying Leader. This arc more than ever convinces me that her cancer remission was just because the show went for a season longer than it was supposed to. Now we're back on track. "I need you to know what I like." Awwww. "I want HIM to see ME." Yaay!

LAURA rounds down to 30,000! When I do that I get grief. But otoh I
figured out that she was wearing a wig. Which she was also wearing in
the Cylon Opera House in her / Six's / Athena's hallucination. Ooooo.

"He thinks he's doing the right thing."
"Of COURSE he does. He's LEE." - Awesome!

Mr. Adama Goes to Caprica seems to be going well. He hasn't gone TOO Helo on us yet. I'm sure he will. The Quorum meets on Colonial one? I guess, since Baltar blew up Cloud Nine and nobody CARES.

Speaking of NOBODY CARES: WE know who four Cylons are. Does anyone else? Remember when that used to matter to people? What's the average size of a fleet ship? How much room does anyone really have to move around? What do these people do with their time? I think most people living in a police state would be positively MOBILE compared to this gang.

Tyrol. Has anyone else noticed that he looks like Orson Welles? Especially when he gets all CRAAAAZY looking. So this will be interesting. I hope he's not just back at his job next week. That's season 3 thinking, that is.

Baltar's back and now he's a prophet. I love how weary/resigned he's become to Six. I don't even think she can convince him to do things with sex anymore. They've become very companionable. (What's going on with the Cylon fleet? Huh? HUH?)

Maybe it's just because of the confines of a TV show, but for twelve planets of people there seems to be a remarkable unity of religious faith. (They argue about HOW they worship but never WHO.) These people have been crammed into ships for years now and this is the first time such a conflict has come up? Nobody has noticed that it's just because it's Baltar?

Nice excuse to get Ellen back. Also a great bit where iTigh tells Tyrol that it's never going to get better. Nice.

Btw? iTigh? TELL THEM.

Next week: Leoben! Yaaaaay! Don't screw this one up like you did on NewCap guys. Don't bore us.

Boom boom boom.