Friday, February 24, 2017

King Solomon's Mines (1937)

King Solomon's Mines is a 1937 adaptation of the H. Rider Haggard book. This is a lost world story, with adventure and elements of the supernatural. The book can be read online. The film begins with the writing of these words in our hero's journal:
Every word of this story is true, stamped on my memory for ever.

I see once more every detail of our terrible journey through the land of the Kukuanas. And -that you may better believe me, here is the chart- made by a hand long dead -
The prologue continues as voice-over.

via Youtube:

The New York Times concludes, "...the credit for the good things—and there are many of them—in this film should go to the cameramen, the beaters, and countless unnamed African natives and animals." Weird Wild Realm says, "Good special effects for the day & pleasing black & white cinematography, this was the first truly significant filming of any work of Haggard's classic". Wikipedia notes, "... this film offering is considered to be the most faithful to the book".

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 100%.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian

Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian is a 2009 fantasy adventure film, a sequel and not as good as the original. I can't recommend it; watch the original again instead.


Roger Ebert gives it 1 1/2 out of 4 stars and hates it. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 44%.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is a book I picked up on spec at my local bookseller. It's a 2011 dystopian novel, right down my alley. I thoroughly enjoyed it; the characters are well fleshed-out, the world-building is completely believable, and I want to plug in already! This is an engrossing read, a real page-turner.

Wikipedia says, "A film adaptation, directed by Steven Spielberg, is currently in production, and slated to premiere in spring 2018." I'll definitely want to see that.

from the back of the book:
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within the world's digital confines -puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades pat and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself best by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win -and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
The New York Times says, " writer John Scalzi, who has aptly referred to “Ready Player One” as a “nerdgasm.” There can be no better one-word description of this ardent fantasy artifact about fantasy culture." Kirkus Reviews is not a fan.

io9 calls it "as addictive as a great game". SF Site concludes, "At its best, Ready Player One turns its characters' inner fears and innate geekiness into their greatest strength and virtues, no small accomplishment for a novel, or game, of any kind."

BoingBoing opens with this:
It seems like every decade or so a science fiction novel comes along that sends a lightning bolt through my nervous system: Philip Jose Farmer’s To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971). William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984). Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash (1992). Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (2003). And I recently discovered what my mind-blowing novel for the 2010s is: Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One.
EW says, "If the many pop references don’t mean anything to you, then Ready Player One probably won’t either. But give Cline credit for crafting a fresh and imaginative world from our old toy box, and finding significance in there among the collectibles."

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Coffee and Cigarettes

Coffee and Cigarettes:

released on 2/25/2011 by Jimmy Eat World.

lyric excerpt:
Coffee and cigarettes
As simple as it gets
Of all the things I think I'll miss
There's staying up with you
Coffee and cigarettes, coffee and cigarettes
please join the T party, a weekly blog gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Ghost of Oiwa

Ghost of Oiwa is a 1961 Japanese ghost story, another of many films based on the old tale. This is available online divided into sections and with English subtitles at this website. I can't find even so much as a trailer to embed here. I like Asian ghost stories, and this is a good one.

Weird Wild Realm covers a bunch of these films and calls it "one of the most vile brutish evocations of Iyemon's character."

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Periodical 42

I saw this but was driving, so my younger son took the picture.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Monsieur Pamplemousse on Probation

Monsieur Pamplemousse on Probation is one in a series of mystery comic novels by Michael Bond. The Husband gave me several of these for Christmas, knowing how much I enjoy them. This one is the 12th and was published in 2000. It takes place over Valentine's Day, though that's incidental and not a key element. I enjoyed a passing reference to Django Reinhardt's Douce Ambience, which you can listen to here:

from the book:
He'd grown up with the music of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, and the music you grew up with stayed with you for the rest of your life, dating you as surely as any birth certificate. It was a sadness that he'd never had the chance to share his pleasure with Doucette [his wife]. In 1953, at the ridiculously early age of forty-three, Reinhardt had died of a stroke.

These can be read in any order.

from the back of the book:
The esteemed creator of Paddington Bear
devises another delicious escapade for
Monsieur Pamplemousse and Pommes Frites

Monsieur Pamplemousse finds himself in deep water when an unfortunate collision with a Mother Superior is caught on camera by the French tabloids. To avoid media attention, he is sent to report on chef Andre Dulac, currently in line for Le Guide's top award of the Golden Stock Pot Lid.

But Pamplemousse's stay at the Hotel Dulac is far from uneventful. His encounters with mysterious bloodstains, a strangely vibrating girl and a secret family legacy open a can of worms which threatens the very sanctity of France's prmier gastronomic bible...

favorite quote:
How did the old saying go? "When one door shuts another opens." Part of the fun in life was not knowing where the next one would lead to.

I have also read the following others from this series:

#2 Monsieur Pamplemousse and the Secret Mission
#6 Monsieur Pamplemousse Investigates
#8 Monsieur Pamplemousse Stands Firm
#11 Monsieur Pamplemousse Afloat
#14 Monsieur Pamplemousse Hits the Headlines

Friday, February 17, 2017

47 Ronin

47 Ronin is a 2013 movie inspired by a true story from 18th century Japan. Keanu Reeves stars. We enjoyed this. It has action, adventure, touches of fantasy, classical romance... The reviews aren't great, but sometimes reviewers seem to think every movie has to be Citizen Kane. They are wrong.


I'm not even linking to reviews on this movie. Honestly, just watch the movie and judge for yourself.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Spot of Bother

A Spot of Bother is the second novel for adults by Mark Haddon, whose first was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I bought this book because I liked that first one so much, and I was not disappointed.

from the back of the book:
A Spot of Bother is Mark Haddon's unforgettable follow-up to the internationally beloved bestseller The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

At sixty-one, George Hall is settling down to a comfortable retirement. When his tempestuous daughter, Katie, announces that she is getting married to the deeply inappropriate Ray, the Hall family is thrown into a tizzy. Unnoticed in the uproar, George discovers a sinister lesion on his hip and quietly begins to lose his mind.

As parents and children fall apart and come together, Haddon paints a disturbing yet amusing portrait of a dignified man trying to go insane politely.
A couple of quotes that struck me:
Obviously it would be nice to go quietly in one's sleep. But going quietly in one's sleep was an idea cooked up by parents to make the deaths of grandparents and hamsters less traumatic. And doubtless some people did go quietly in their sleep but most did so only after many wounding rounds with the grim reaper.

His own preferred exits were rapid and decisive. Others might want time to bury the hatchet with estranged children and tell their wives where the stopcock was. Personally, he wanted the lights to go out with no warning and the minimum attendant mess. Dying was bad enough without having to make it easier for everyone else.
What they failed to teach you at school was that the whole business of being human just got messier and more complicated as you got older.

You could tell the truth, be polite, take everyone's feelings into consideration and still have to deal with other people's shit. At nine or ninety.

The NYT says the book "serves as a fine example of why novels exist." The Independent says, "Haddon has filled 390 pages with sharp and witty observations about family and daily life." Kirkus Reviews says, "Haddon is a clever writer with an eye and ear for the absurdities of everyday life," but doesn't like this book, thinking it "too slight" and shallow.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cruel Ghost Legend

Cruel Ghost Legend is a 1968 Japanese horror film. This is a revenge tale involving a blood curse. This is a good movie, but it moves a little more slowly than I'd like.

via Youtube:

Reviews are all but non-existent. Weird Wild Realm has a plot synopsis.