Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rainy TGIF

Yesterday we got a lot of rain, which was needed, and I had to stay inside anyway as I was dealing with financial matters.  Such is modern life.  Most parts of that spectrum of business I can deal with pretty well. Sure I get behind in filing all the paperwork away or keeping it in order for that matter, and I also have areas of indifference or weaken.  However, when dealing with more complicated issues like understand tax laws and stuff of that nature, it drains my thinking.  So when I finally got that wrapped up, even though it was still drizzling outside, I took a break, went and grabbed a Mexican dinner at a restaurant, then came home and watched some SF on TCM.
This month on Fridays, TCM has been showing a block of SF movies, which they've referred to as Future Shock, they've also been spotlighting some Hitchcock films as well.  I like them both so it's a win win for me.

Last night they started out with the 1975 film Rollerball starring James Caan as Jonathan G, captain of the Houston team.  I've seen this film several times and still get caught up into some of it.  Perhaps I'm attracted by the action sequences, which are filmed amazingly well.  One other aspect which made an impression on me is, even though we don't know the actually rules of the game, you can follow along pretty easily.  It seems that Rollerball is a mixture of football, hockey, and roller derby.  The teams play for different areas of the globe and is entertainment for the masses, but also a substitute for warfare.  At the same time it's also a way to take away one's individuality.  Jonathan G wants to hang onto his individuality, and rebels against the system, therein lies part of the conflict.  Even though it's somewhat dated, and at times I think James Caan speaks too softly throughout the film, the universal theme of retaining one's own individuality and the action within the film make it a  pretty watchable film.
That was followed by A.I. Artificial Intelligence, which is still an amazing film for me.  A. I. got a mixed reaction from viewers when it was released, but I find it's one of Spielberg's better films.  It's certainly entertaining with dazzling effects and surreal landscapes and situations.  It deals with an artificially made boy, David, who is adapted into a family whose real son has been placed in suspended animation due to a rare illness.  The film touches on many levels of the human condition and society at large and while much of it is dark and sad, there are moments of hope, fellowship, and the longing of David to be loved, which I think is something we all want.  Some criticize the ending saying that Spielberg didn't know how to end it, and at times it seems that may be true, but also there are moments in that whole act that are touching, spellbinding and somewhat surreal, that works for me and had emotional resonance.  It would certainly be in my top fifteen or so SF films of all time, and is recommendable watching.

TCM ended the night with Total Recall, which I started watching until it got too late, The Satan Bug, and First Men in the Moon, which I may watch later.  These Friday night Future Shock blocks of SF films have been a lot of fun.
I ran across an interesting article on Chaz Ebert's blog.  She's the wife of Roger Ebert, the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times also noted for his At The Movies syndicated movie review show,  who passed away not long back.  She asked him to take a break from his movie reviews and create something fun like he might have written when he wrote for fanzines back in his youth.  He composed this short story,  The Thinking Molecules of Titan, but never got around to finishing it.  Chaz put it up on her site and asked readers to help finish it.  She got back many replies, and has already posted many ending from various authors on the site.  You can go there if you care to read them.

It would be a lot of fun to be able to read some of those early Roger Ebert fanzine articles. 

I ran across a couple of videos on Joel Hodgson of MST3K fame as well.  There's an episode called A Taste of Hell From On High with him and Jerry Seinfeld cutting up together in the Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.  If you like that sort of thing there are other episodes with different comedians as well.

I also ran across a two-part interview he did recently with TCM.  He talks about movies that influenced him and that he grew up watching in his youth.  You can find part one, here, and part two, here. 


At 9:05 AM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

I need to check out "AI". It's on my list of of movies to watch. I keeping hearing about how good it is (up to the end), and I want to see it for myself.

Those interviews with Joel were a fun read. He's a really creative and funny guy. And as you well know, MST3K is and always will be a favorite of mine.

Funny thing was, I resisted the idea of it when it came out. My wife (then girlfriend) kept saying how hilarious it was and I kept saying - "I HATE when people talk during movies. Why would I want to sit through a show filled with that?"

Then I saw "Hercules Against the Moonmen", and I literally fell on the ground laughing. It was the funniest thing I'd seen on TV. And you know what, it still is. :)

At 11:42 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

I agree Roman, MST3K is hard to beat when you're in the mood for it. There are so many episodes now I'm waaay behind in watching them. Some say Mike was the better host, but I like Joel too, and he was the one hosting on PBS when my brother introduced me to the early episodes.

If I remember right they were showing early Saturday morning, I think on the PBS channel, but it was a great way to wake up, eat some breakfast, and it felt like reliving part of your childhood to some degree. Joel had this sort of sleepy headed persona that matched perfectly.

I can't remember the exact episode we watched--it may have been the one with the giant tarantula or one with teenagers from space. At any rate, it nice to see Joel still being creative, and it would be cool to see his stage act.


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