Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Comes But Once a Year

Christmas Comes But Once a Year is a Fleischer cartoon short from 1936.



The early scene where the orphans get broken toys in their stockings and end up crying in their beds is so sad, but Grampy -from the Betty Boop cartoons- makes sure Christmas comes to the orphanage. I love the umbrella tree.

Christmas Night

Christmas Night, or Pals, is a 1933 Van Beuren Studios cartoon short based on The Little King comic strip.

via youtube:

A Christmas Carol -1910

This version of "A Christmas Carol" is a 1910 short film directed by Searle Dawley (Snow White, Rescued from an Eagle's Nest, Frankenstein).

via youtube:



It's amazing to me how well the story is told in so short a film and how much they could do with the resources available that long ago.

We have this in a collection on VHS. We plan on getting the DVD this year.

Christmas Movies

A Christmas Carol (1910)
The Insects' Christmas (1913, animated short)

Santa's Workshop (1932, animated short)
The Little King: Christmas Night (1933, animated short)
The Night Before Christmas (1933, animated short)
Babes in Toyland (1934)
Scrooge (1935)
Christmas Comes But Once a Year (1936, animated short)
Things to Come (1936)
The Little Match Girl (1937)
Bachelor Mother (1938)
The Captain's Christmas (1938, animated short)
A Christmas Carol (1938, Reginald Owen)
Peace on Earth (1939, animated short)

Beyond Tomorrow (1940)
Remember the Night (1940)
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
The Night Before Christmas (1941, Tom and Jerry animated short)
Holiday Inn (1942)
I'll Be Seeing You (1944)
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1944, animated short)
Bells of St. Mary's (1945)
Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
The Bishop's Wife (1947)
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Santa's Surprise (1947, animated short)
The Miracle of the Bells (1948)
Holiday Affair (1949)

Castle Films: Christmas Toyshop (195?, mix of live action and animation)
A Christmas Wish (aka The Great Rupert) (1950)
A Christmas Carol (1951, Alastair Sim)
Frosty the Snowman (1954, cartoon short)
White Christmas (1954)
Good Will to Men (1955, animated short)
Sherlock Holmes and The Case of the Christmas Pudding (1955, made-for-tv)
We're No Angels (1955)
The Christmas Visitor (1959, animated short)

Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962, animated)
What Child is This? (1963, animated short from a Tennessee Ernie Ford tv special)
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964, animated short)
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965, animated short)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966, animated short)
Frosty the Snowman (1969)

Scrooge (1970, Albert Finney musical)
Santa and the Three Bears (1992 edit of a 1970 release, animated short)
A Christmas Carol (1971)
The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)
Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974, animated short)
Silent Night, Holy Night (1976, animated short)
A Cosmic Christmas (1977, animated short)
Emmett Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (1977, animated short)
It Happened One Christmas (1977)
A Christmas to Remember (1978)
An American Christmas Carol (1979)

A Christmas Without Snow - (1980)
The Smurfs Christmas Special (1982)
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (1983)
A Christmas Story (1983)
A Christmas Carol (1984)
The Blue Carbuncle (1984, Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes)
The Night They Saved Christmas (1984)
Brazil (1985)
The Fourth Wise Man (1985)
The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus (1985)
Santa Claus (1985)
The Christmas Star (1986)
A Smoky Mountain Christmas (1986)
The Dead (1987)
A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
The Christmas Wife (1988)
Die Hard (1988)
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1988, BBC)
Scrooged (1988)
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
Prancer (1989)

Home Alone (1990)
All I Want for Christmas (1991)
Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus (1991)
A Christmas Carol (1992, Northern Ballet Theatre)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
The Santa Clause (1994)
Hercule Poirot's Christmas (1995, David Suchet's Poirot)
While You Were Sleeping (1995)
Christmas in My Hometown (1996)
Jingle all the Way (1996)
Mrs. Santa Claus (1996)
The Toy That Saved Christmas (1996, animated)
A Christmas Wish (1998)
I'll Be Home for Christmas (1998)
Jack Frost (1998)
A Christmas Carol (1999, Patrick Stewart)

The Angel Doll (2000)
A Christmas Visitor (2002)
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (2002)
Silent Night (2002)
The Star of Christmas (2002, animated)
A Carol Christmas (2003)
Elf (2003)
Eve's Christmas (2004)
The Polar Express (2004, Disney)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
Joyeux Noel (2005)
The Holiday (2006)
The Three Little Pigs' Christmas Surprise (2006?, animated short)
Little Theodore and the Green Candy Piece (2007, animated short)
A Christmas Tale (2008)

Advent Wreath 1


There is an Advent devotion for today here at the United Methodist Church General Board of Discipleship site. EWTN has an Advent wreath at their site where you can use a virtual match to light the candle online.

We use 4 blue candles in our Advent wreath, both at home and at church.

Advent Gospel

Mark 13:24-37

24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,

25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.

26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

28 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:

29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.

30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

34 For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.

35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:

36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
KJV

Saturday, November 29, 2008

10 Best Apocalyptic Novels

before the Golden Age, that is. io9 has an annotated list, including links to full texts online for most of them. Here are the 10 with ones I've read in bold print:
1. Olaf Stapledon, Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future (1930)
2. William Hope Hodgson, The Night Land: A Love Tale (1912)
3. M.P. Shiel, The Purple Cloud (1901...)
4. Karel Čapek, The Absolute at Large (1922 as Továrna na absolutno; in English in 1927)
5. Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Moon Maid (1926)
6. Philip Gordon Wylie & Edwin Balmer, When Worlds Collide (1933)
7. Arthur Conan Doyle, The Poison Belt: Being an account of another adventure of Prof. George E. Challenger, Lord John Roxton, Prof. Summerlee, and Mr. E.D. Malone, the discoverers of "The Lost World" (1913)
8. Jack London, The Scarlet Plague (1915)
9. Edward Shanks, People of the Ruins (1920)
10. H.G. Wells, The World Set Free (1914)

I've got my reading cut out for me if I want to make any headway with this list. 2/10 stinks!

Warning from Space

Warning from Space is an American dubbed 1956 Japanese science fiction film. I loved the aliens in this one.

You can watch it from the Internet Archive:

or at googlevideo.

1000 Misspent Hours gives it a negative review. Wild Realm Reviews sees it in a more positive light:
This is a remarkable film when compared to standard schlock sci-fi from the USA in the same year. It was the first full color Japanese science fiction film, not just a B film, & while it certainly is a camp treasure for today's viewers, it was a serious film in its day

6/15/2009: Classic Sci-Fi Movies has a review that says it
is historically significant as the first Japanese sci-fi movie shot in color -- just months before Toho's Radon was released. Unlike Rodan, however, the english dubbed version was not a re-edit, but the original Japanese director's cut.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Quatermass 2

I enjoyed The Quatermass Xperiment because of the ending if nothing else, so I was pleased to see Quatermass 2. I can't even find a trailer to embed here. Odd.

It has the same team behind it that the previous film had, with Donlevy playing Quatermass as the same strong-willed controlling power-house he was in the first in this trilogy. I just love that rough exterior that covers a heart of self-serving pragmatism. I'll be looking for the 3rd one now, I guess.

1000 Misspent Hours has a review. Images Journal has a review that says this movie "is arguably the best British science fiction movie in this realistic mold" and closes with this:
a powerful, nerve-wrenching movie. For audiences enamored with the digital effects of recent years, the movie's climactic scenes might come as a disappointment, but the ideas that propel the movie are imminently plausible. This is the kind of stuff that has fueled The X-Files for the past several years. Quatermass 2 is a near classic.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Planet of the Vampires

Planet of the Vampires is a 1965 Italian science fiction/horror film starring American actor Barry Sullivan. It is directed by Mario Bava, better known for his horror films.

I'm always surprised when space ships have so much interior space -high ceilings, spacious control rooms... The uniforms are cool. It's hard to tell about things like color in these youtube videos, but I do like the use of color in this movie. The wind and fog are eerie. There are no vampires here. It's more an alien invasion story. I am impressed that the women serve as fellow crew members rather than romantic love interests and that they don't spend all their time needing to be rescued or tripping and falling while running away.

part 1:

part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9

Moria has a review. Images Journal's review calls this movie "a tour-de-force of otherworldly visuals, muscular comic book plotting and lean suspenseful thrills." 1000 Misspent Hours is enthusiastic about this one, saying,
I cannot overemphasize how completely blindsided I was by the sheer excellence of this movie. Mario Bava’s broody, methodical direction definitely won’t be to everybody’s taste, but to my way of thinking, it is exactly what the story of Planet of the Vampires calls for. The air of slowly but relentlessly escalating menace that pervades the first hour of the film resembles the best of Romero and Carpenter, and it’s easy to see why so much of this movie later ended up being recycled into the first act of Alien. In fact, in its best moments, Planet of the Vampires is almost as potent as its illustrious descendant.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

First Spaceship on Venus

First Spaceship on Venus is a 1962 shortened, English-dubbed version of the 1960 East German The Silent Star. It is loosely based on The Astronauts, a novel by Stanislaw Lem.

Watch it here complimemts of GoogleVideo:


Moria calls this movie
a fascinating entry in the frenzy of movie making that greeted the Space Age. Amid the horde of American entries on the subject, this is an effort that quite intriguingly hails from the Communist Bloc.
and notes that
The film is quite lavishly budgeted for an sf film of the era. Indeed First Spaceship works much better as sf than most other English-language sf films of the era

7/5/2009: SFSignal features it in their Sunday Cinema post today.

1984

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell has been adapted for film more than once. This is the version released in 1984 starring Richard Burton and John Hurt:



from the film:
In accordance with the principles of doublespeak, it does not matter if the war is not real, or when it is, that victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous. The essential act of modern warfare is the destruction of the produce of human labor. A hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. In principle, the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects. And its object is not victory over Eurasia or Eastasia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.

Hearing those words spoken in this film is frightening. It stuns me. When I first read this book in high school 1984 was in the future, in the next decade. In a way we're in a time warp, and nothing ever really changes and appearances are always deceiving and nothing is what it seems. This movie is scarier than the horror movies I devoted the month of October to. It is a bleak, tragic story that has brought me to tears.

Moria says
the film is one literary adaptation that quits stuns with its vivid, potent intellectual articulation. The overwhelming bleakness of the story and the brilliance of Orwell’s ideas emerge with a breathtaking clarity.

The New York Times says,
This '1984' is not an easy film to watch, but it exerts a fascination that demands attention even as you want to turn away from it.

Roger Ebert says,
Michael Radford's brilliant film of Orwell's vision does a good job of finding that line between the "future" world of 1984 and the grim postwar world in which Orwell wrote.
...
What is remarkable about the movie is how completely it satisfied my feelings about the book; the movie looks, feels, and almost tastes and smells like Orwell's bleak and angry vision.

10/31/2009: Ferdy on Films has a review.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Dance to the Music of Time


I started reading this mammoth tome years ago, inspired by its selection by the Big Fat Book Readers yahoogroup. I have read slower and slower, hating for the experience to end, but end it did while I was reading in the car waiting for The Younger Son to finish fencing. I feel less like I've finished a book and more like I'm having to move to a new home. Sad. Reading this was a transforming experience.

A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell is a 12-volume novel, one of the longest literary works ever written and perhaps the longest ever written in English. Time declared it one of the top 100 Novels since 1923 saying,
Beginning in the 1920's, A Dance to the Music of Time follows the lives of a group of English friends and acquaintances as they make their various ways through life: meeting and parting, succeeding and failing, loving and hating, living and dying. There is ample room for both comedy and tragedy in this capacious, large-hearted work, but Powell's real triumph is the way he catches the rhythm of fate itself...
The Atlantic has a wonderful article that appreciates the gift that this book is. From their article:
Dance deserves to endure, both because it gives a comprehensive and subtle picture of literary and artistic life in England throughout the first three quarters of this century and because it is a remarkable literary achievement in its own right.
...
NOW, there are a few amazing aspects to A Dance to the Music of Time. One is that the reader can get through twelve intricate, notably detailed novels about Jenkins's life without ever being told what Jenkins or his wife looks like, how many children they have, where they live, or anything of that sort....

And yet one is deep in the mind of the narrator
...
Dance doesn't exactly have a plot. Does one's own life have a plot? Well, neither does Nick Jenkins's. Thus somehow an entire level of the work in which fiction writers normally engage is just not there, rather the way gingerbread trim is missing from a Frank Lloyd Wright house--and who needs it? Dance is a structure pleasing for what it lacks as well as for what it contains.
There is an Anthony Powell Society. There are extensive resources here, including photographs and analysis.

I will miss spending time with this book. I look forward to reading it again some day.

The picture at the top of the post is from Wikipedia and is of Poussin's The Dance to the Music of Time.

The Quatermass Xperiment

The Quatermass Xperiment, released in the U.S. as The Creeping Unknown, is a 1955 science fiction film directed by Val Guest and starring Brian Donlevy. The score was composed by James Bernard, who wrote the music for many horror movies.

I love the ending of this one.

LiveVideo has this one online here, but I can't get it to embed properly on my blog.

Moria's review says that
The Quatermass Xperiment was a genre cornerstone in a number of crucial areas. It was one of the earliest productions made by Hammer Films – and their first international success.
...
Equally importantly The Quatermass Xperiment was – with the exception of the cheesy Devil Girl from Mars (1954) – the first British film to venture into the theme of alien invasion that was running riot across the Atlantic

1000 Misspent Hours calls it "probably the most important horror or sci-fi movie ever made in England" and closes with this:
The message seems to be that hard times call for hard men, and though such people are profoundly dangerous to have around, we'd be even worse off without them. It's a rather more sophisticated perspective than one usually finds in movies that deal with mad or half-mad science, and in the context of the 1950's, it's probably also the most honest assessment of the role the military-scientific-industrial complex plays in modern Western civilization.

SciFi.com has a review. The BBC has a celebration of the original and the remake. This site has a couple of quotes from film/science fiction encyclopedias.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Devil Girl from Mars

Devil Girl from Mars is a 1954 science fiction movie starring Adrienne Corri. The aliens have perfected a perpetual motion machine in this one, though it's just a throw-away with no impact on the plot.

GoogleVideo has it online:


1000 Misspent Hours says that "Despite the illusion of class conferred upon it by all those distinguished-sounding English accents, this is a very silly film at bottom". They complain that "There is way too much talk in this flick, and what little action it contains is far too enclosed for the movie’s good." But they enjoyed it anyway because of the robot.

Octavia Butler credits this film with inspiring her to write science fiction:
It's impossible to begin to talk about myself and the media without going back to how I wound up writing science fiction and that is by watching a terrible movie. (Laughter) The movie was called, "Devil Girl from Mars," and I saw it when I was about l2 years old, and it changed my life. (Laughter) It was one of those old 1950s movies in which the beautiful Martian woman arrives on earth to announce that all the Martian men have died off and there are a bunch of man-hungry women up there. And the earth-men don't want to go. As I was watching this film, I had a series of revelations. The first was that "Geez, I can write a better story than that." And then I thought, "Gee, anybody can write a better story than that." (Laughter/Applause) And my third thought was the clincher: "Somebody got paid for writing that awful story." (Applause) So I was off and writing, and a year later I was busy submitting terrible pieces of fiction to innocent magazines.

Hakuho Wins Again


Hakuho Sho, a Mongolian wrestler, has won another tournament. That Wikipedia article linked to his name (where I got the photo above) says, "Both Hakuhō and Ama finished with a 13-2 record and an eventual play-off was won by Hakuhō, handing him 4th yusho of the season."

Daily Yomiuri Online opens their report saying,
Hakuho earned his ninth Emperor's Cup the hard way, beating sekiwake Ama in a an epic championship playoff Sunday and crowning a great year for the yokozuna.

The Japan Times opens with this:
FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho overpowered countryman Ama in a playoff to win his third consecutive title at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.

Wrapping up the final tournament of the year with a bang, Hakuho expended every ounce of energy as he sent the sekiwake sprawling to the dirt with an unstoppable overarm technique at Fukuoka Kokusai Center to win his ninth career Emperor's Cup.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Snow Creature

The Snow Creature is a 1954 science fiction film -an abominable snow monster movie. Voice-over narrations are popular with these film makers.

Watch it compliments of the Internet Archive:


1000 Misspent Hours closes their review with this condemnation: "Unless you possess the dedication of the truly obsessed, there’s really no point in watching at all." TCM has an overview.

Phantom from Space

Phantom from Space is a 1953 science fiction film. This is another of those movies with an irritating voice-over narration scattered through it.

The Internet Archive has it online:


TCM has an overview. 1000 Misspent Hours starts their review with this:
Guess what, kids— it’s another boring-ass monster movie from W. Lee Wilder and son!

12/20/2009: It's the Sunday Cinema selection at SFSignal today.

Feast of Christ the King


Today is the Feast of Christ the King.

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:31-46)
Hail to the Lord's Annointed

Hail to the Lord's Anointed,
great David's greater Son!
Hail in the time appointed,
his reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression,
to set the captive free;
to take away transgression,
and rule in equity.

He comes with succor speedy
to those who suffer wrong;
to help the poor and needy,
and bid the weak be strong;
to give them songs for sighing,
their darkness turn to light,
whose souls, condemned and dying,
are precious in his sight.

He shall come down like showers
upon the fruitful earth;
love, joy, and hope, like flowers,
spring in his path to birth.
Before him on the mountains,
shall peace, the herald, go,
and righteousness, in fountains,
from hill to valley flow.

To him shall prayer unceasing
and daily vows ascend;
his kingdom still increasing,
a kingdom without end.
The tide of time shall never
his covenant remove;
his name shall stand forever;
that name to us is love.

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 100

1 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
KJV

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mesa of Lost Women

Mesa of Lost Women is a 1953 science fiction film starring Jackie Coogan (who can be seen as a child actor in Chaplin's The Kid and who was Uncle Fester in the Addams Family TV series). Lyle Talbot provides the extensive dramatic narration. The music is by Hoyt Curtin.

GoogleVideo has it online:


Why do these women wear skimpy chiffon dresses while the men wear suits, dress shirts and dark ties? 'Tis a puzzlement.

TCM has an overview.

The Magnetic Monster

The Magnetic Monster is a 1953 science fiction film written and directed by Curt Siodmak (Wolf Man). Character actor Byron Foulger, Kathleen Freeman, Lee Phelps and Strother Martin are in this film.

1000 Misspent Hours:
Go into Curt Siodmak’s The Magnetic Monster looking for a monster movie, and you’re going to leave sorely disappointed. What we have here instead is one of the most serious science fiction films of the 1950’s, and one of the very few that attempted to examine the newborn horrors of the nuclear age in a sober, non-sensational manner. The downside to that, as anyone familiar with 50’s B-movies has surely already guessed, is that The Magnetic Monster is also an extremely talky and laborious film, and considerable patience is required to get much enjoyment out of it.

TCM has an overview. The New York Times has a review.

I have a lot of trouble getting videos from veoh.com to work. It's so frustrating that I'm going to just ignore the films that are only available there. This is my last effort. This film is available there at this link if you want to make the effort.

Invaders from Mars

Invaders from Mars is a 1953 science fiction film directed by William Cameron Menzies and starring Leif Erickson (Big John Cannon in The High Chaparral, a TV series I loved).

When the kids were little I was always the one getting everybody up to see some astronomical happening. In this movie the mom is a spoilsport, sending son and husband back to bed. Twin beds at that. I found the ending truly fascinating.

Watch it below:


1000 Misspent Hours says, "For all its undeniable cheesiness, Invaders from Mars is one of the finest sci-fi movies of the 1950’s." FilmFanatic says it's a must-see "for its historical importance as a seminal alien invasion flick." TCM has an overview. Moria says it's
a classic of 1950s alien invader cinema. It belongs to a particular mini-genre of alien invader films that dealt with alien infiltration and duplication. They are films that took the more outward aspects of alien invader films into interestingly paranoid psychological space.


2/2/2009: Cinema Styles has a review.

4/19/2009: SFSignal offers this film in their Sunday Cinema post today.

10/4/2009: SFSignal runs this in their Sunday Cinema post again.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The City of Lost Children

The City of Lost Children is a 1995 dark fantasy/steampunk film. It is a French film, but we watched the English dub. Next time I'll watch it in French. There will be a next time for this film. The Younger Son suggested it, having received it as a birthday present. His asking for it was the first I had heard of it. Makes me wonder what other wonders I'm missing out on.

The film stars Ron Perlman (the Hellboy movies). The music is by Angelo Badalamenti.

trailer:


Roger Ebert loves the visuals but needs a more compelling story:
Through the years there have been other such inspired films made for the eye: "Blade Runner," "Fantasia," "Days of Heaven," "Brazil," "El Topo," "Santa Sangre," "Akira" and indeed "Delicatessen" come to mind. I am trying to be rather precise here, because many people will probably not find themselves sympathetic to this movie's overachieving technological pretensions, while others will find it the best film in months or years. You know who you are.

The New York Times says it
is so enraptured by its own visual gimmickry and weird characters that it forgets to connect the dots of its overly populous story.

Moria says it "is surely the most gorgeously designed film you will ever see in some time" and "is also one of its year’s most beautifully photographed films" but "What one would have liked though is a plot".

SFGate calls it "odd but riveting" and opens their review by saying,
The City of Lost Children'' is a dark phantasmagoria so visually amazing and provocative -- yet dense and confusing -- that viewers may need to see it more than once to take it all in. Or to figure out exactly what it's all about.

But it doesn't matter.

Variety also has a review.

Other reviews:

366 Weird Movies

Red Planet Mars

Red Planet Mars is a 1952 science fiction film starring Peter Graves. What this film needs is the moral equivalent of Captain Kirk saying, "What does God need with a space ship?"

part 1 of 2:


part 2 of 2:


TCM has an overview. Moria's review pulls no punches:
Like the ending of The War of the Worlds (1953), Red Planet Mars sees that religion is what is needed to bring society back from the abyss of war, the threat of Communism and the Pandora’s Box of the A-bomb. But the terms that the film tells it in, halfway between ludicrous 19th Century hellfire oratory and sentimental images of heart and God-fearing home, are utterly saccharine.
...
Red Planet Mars is badly written on most regards. The characters are single-dimensional ideological mouthpieces, giving pompous speeches filled with flowery and overwrought dialogue.

1000 Misspent Hours describes the film as
one of the most purely cerebral films in the genre, with barely any onscreen action and almost none of the usual special effects spectacle. Instead, it concerns itself entirely with ideas, particularly with the notion that humanity in the mid-20th century had, for all practical purposes, deified technological progress and the scientific thinking that makes it possible, elevating the man in the white lab coat nearly to the rank of false messiah.
and says,
It may be a bit lacking in dazzle and excitement, but Red Planet Mars is one of the most thought-provoking sci-fi films I’ve ever seen.

I agree more with Moria. I don't find it thought-provoking; I find it sappy and heavy-handed.

3/23/2009: WTF-Films does not recommend it:
RED PLANET MARS may be of some interest to those keen on the more bizarre propaganda efforts of the fifties but will provide little of value to anyone else.

Cat-Women of the Moon

Cat-Women of the Moon is a 1953 science fiction film. The score was composed by Elmer Bernstein. The Cat Women wear black tights and identical hair styles. They have widow's peaks and dark slanty eyebrows. Bizarre.

Available in 7 parts at youtube, here's part 1:

part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7

Moria opens their review with this:
Cat Women of the Moon is regarded as one of the classically awful science-fiction films of the 1950s ... Although in seeing it, it seems more dull than it ever really does awful.

Variety likes it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Unknown World

Unknown World is a 1951 science fiction film. It opens with a newsreel view of a mushroom cloud. In that newsreel we're introduced to several scientists including a female medical doctor described as an "ardent feminist".

You can watch it at Internet Archive, and Googlevideo also has it online:


TCM has an overview. Beckoning Chasm has a scene-by-scene description, including some verbatim dialog. SciFi.com has a review that says that
fans looking for a campy and comparatively compelling cinematic experience should find it amusing and appealing.

I did not find it campy, just boring, and I disagree with the suggestion that it could be considered "compelling" in comparison to anything.

Lost Continent

Lost Continent is a 1951 science fiction film. It stars Cesar Romero, Hugh Beaument, Sid Melton, John Hoyt (who has a Star Trek connection), and Whit Bissell (who also has a history with Star Trek). TCM has an overview.



There's a break in this video at 55 minutes, then it skips to the last 3 minutes of the film. It is a total of 58:22 minutes long out of an 83-minute long film. During the 25 or so missing minutes there's one death and a cataclysmic occurrence that causes earthquake and explosion, and if there are prehistoric beasts in this film they are in the missing segment.

Here's 10 minutes of video (3 segments) from the missing 25:

They think I'm a guy

Gender Analyzer says,
"We think http://divers-and-sundry.blogspot.com/ is written by a man (89%)."

When Worlds Collide

I read the 1933 novel When Worlds Collide and its 1934 sequel After Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer when I came across them in high school. I discovered the movie that was based on the first book soon after. The film When Worlds Collide is a 1951 science fiction film that, as I recall, is fairly faithful to the book -it's been years since I last read the books. George Pal is the director.

LiveVideo has this online, but I can't get their embed code to work.

Moria says,
It has all the same high points and all the faults of all Pal’s productions – an emphasis on effects and wondrous spectacle but with a rather mawkish and wooden human element, as well as the same political naivete and religious underpinnings of any Pal production. But also, sitting among the horde of B-budget sf films of the 1950s, it is an undeniable classic.

Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe

Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe is a 12-part film serial from 1940. It has Buster Crabbe in the starring role. TCM has an overview. Moria has a review. This site talks about the music in the serial and the history of Flash Gordon.

The Purple Death (chapter 1):


Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thomas Ince

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1924 of film actor/director/producer Thomas Ince. Here is a fascinating short look at his studio:



There are photos of his California home here. Snopes.com has a page on whether or not the romors about his mysterious death are true. FilmReference.com has a page on him.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Our Man Flint

In memory of James Coburn and as a coda to the James Bond blogathon The Younger Son and I watched Our Man Flint tonight. The Younger Son had never seen it and it had been a long time since I saw it last. This James Bond parody also stars Lee J. Cobb. The score is by award-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith (Lilies of the Field, Stagecoach, Logan's Run, various Star Trek films, and many more.

Moria has a short review. The New York Times review is here. TCM has an overview.

video of highlights from the film:


and here's another:

James Coburn

Today is the anniversary of the death in 2002 of James Coburn. Coburn is a particular favorite of mine.

I have blog posts on the following of his films:

The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Charade (1963)
The Americanization of Emily (1964)
Our Man Flint (1966)
In Like Flint (1967)
The President's Analyst (1967)

FilmReference.com has a page on him where it says,
His versatility has allowed him to resist being typecast as an action hero, and Coburn's career is noteworthy for balancing lead and character parts. The common denominator of his roles is the character's air of confidence, often coupled with sophistication.

EW has a print interview here in which Coburn discusses The Magnificent Seven. Roger Ebert interviews him here. There are lots of photos here.

tribute video:

james coburn
Uploaded by babey4

Man Ray



Today is the anniversary of the death in 1976 of artist and avant-garde filmmaker Man Ray. There is an official Man Ray site. PBS has a page devoted to him as part of their American Masters series. The Getty Museum has a short biography and pictures of some of Ray's paintings. The International Center of Photography has an exhibition of his work. The Tate Museum's exhibition is called Duchamp Man Ray Picabis: The Moment Art Changed Forever.

He did some film work with Marcel Duchamp and Fernand Leger. Ubu.com has some information and videos. FilmReference.com has extensive references and an article which closes by saying
to overlook the impact of May Ray on the cinema is to ignore the influence of one of the early pioneers of cinematic art. It was Man Ray, and many of his Dada and Surrealist contemporaries who first drew attention to a great many of the cinematic techniques widely used today. For this, and for the fascinating efforts at producing a non-narrative cinema, Man Ray's films remain crucial to any understanding of the development of film.


The Return to Reason (1923):

The House of Mirth and Movies has a post that confesses to confusion on how to comment on experimental film, saying
it rarely holds much emotional value, and I feel a lot of it does not offer the same kind of insight into form or theme as in other mediums. This is above middle tier for me in this regard

Leave Me Alone (1926) in two parts:
part 1

part 2


The Starfish (1928) and The Mysteries of the Chateau of Dice (1929) can be viewed online here, but I haven't been able to figure out how to embed videos from that site.

The picture at the top of the post is Ray's Le Violon d'Ingres.

The Mysterious Island

The Mysterious Island is a 1929 film starring Lionel Barrymore. It is based on Jules Verne's novel, which can be read online.

TCM has an overview. The New York Times has a review. 1000 Misspent Hours says,
Acquiring the film rights to a prestigious story, merely to toss that story away en route to the final cut, is not the only modern-day big-studio behavior of which The Mysterious Island stands as a precocious early example.
That site discusses the film being made over a protracted several-years period and then says:
when The Mysterious Island finally limped wearily into theaters late in 1929, it was in the form of a mostly silent film over which sound effects and crowd murmurings had been dubbed with varying degrees of success, interrupted occasionally by painfully awkward scenes of spoken dialogue which play like they were spliced in from some other movie altogether. The final kick in the ass? After all that work and all those travails, The Mysterious Island tanked, and tanked hard.

And yet —incredibly— in spite of all that, The Mysterious Island turned out to be a remarkably effective film.

The following clips aren't labeled so I don't know exactly how much of the film is included here, but this is the most of it I could find online:

Link: The Mysterious Island 1929 Sci-Fi Lionel Barrymore



Link: The Mysterious Island 1929 Sci-Fi Lionel Barrymore



Link: The Mysterious Island 1929 Sci-Fi Lionel Barrymore

Monday, November 17, 2008

Save the Delta Queen

1/27/2009 update
from the Commercial Appeal:
The historic Delta Queen paddle boat, decommissioned as a passenger carrier in October at Memphis, is going to Chattanooga for use as a waterfront boutique hotel.



SAVE THE DELTA QUEEN
This Historic Landmark needs your help!
Find out what you can do, at
www.save-the-delta-queen.org


The picture of the Delta Queen is from Wikipedia.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

The 1916 version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is the 2nd I know of, but I can't find the 1907 Melies version online. The Internet Archive site reports a French film in 1913 and I've seen mention of a 1905 version but I don't find any information on them. The films are based on Jules Verne's novel, which can be read online. This film is a Carl Laemmle production.

The 1916 version from the Internet Archive:


Moria has an interesting review saying that the film "shows just how accomplished early filmmaking was" and that compares and contrasts it with the 1954 Disney movie. TCM has an overview.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 123

1 Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens.

2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.

3 Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt.

4 Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.
KJV

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Incredibles

The Incredibles (2004) is a family favorite. We've seen it several times before, but The Husband and I thought it'd be perfect the morning. It's on The Husband's list of 5 fantasy films to have on a desert island and a great feel-good movie for us.

Roger Ebert likes it. The BBC reviewer likes it. Locus Online likes it. The New York Times likes everything but the ending.

trailer:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Batman is James Bond

Yet another Bond incarnation, with 2 installments for this one.

Dark Royale:


Quantum of Darkness:


Batman Bond has a certain ring to it....

That James Bond Blogathon has a lot to answer for as I actually started looking for this stuff.

From Russia with Love

From Russia with Love (1963) is another of the Sean Connery Bond films, and it's a fun movie. The women in this particular Bond movie, though, were nothing more than caricatures, and there was little mystery and few surprises. And there were no exploding cars. A helicopter that explodes more than once, but, alas, no exploding cars.

I have to say I thought our celebration of the James Bond Blogathon would last longer than the 3 days they set aside for it, but I'm ready to move on. That said, The Elder Son and The Younger Son are headed to the theater now to see the brand new Quantum of Solace. I plan on waiting for it to come out on DVD. The film we saw tonight is the 2nd in the series and features the 1st Bond. Quantum of Solace is the 22nd and has the 6th Bond. The series began in 1962, and they are already planning the next one to be released in 2011 -a 49 year span. That's a long-lived franchise. I am looking forward to seeing the latest installment, but right now I'm over-dosed on Bond, James Bond.

The BBC review is positive.

trailer:

Wall-E is James Bond

I guess someday I'll have to watch Wall-E, but since I'm just now getting around to watching old James Bond movies and I don't have young kids it's not surprising I haven't seen it yet. I had no idea James Bond had so many incarnations.



Again I blame the James Bond Blogathon because I never would have watched it except for that.

Tomorrow Never Dies

This is another one we watched due to the inspiration of the James Bond blogathon -Licensed To Blog: The James Blog-A-Thon.

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) is another Pierce Brosnan Bond movie. It is 18th in the film series and the 2nd of the Brosnan efforts. I enjoyed this one, and Brosnan remains #2 on my favorites list after Connery. I liked the women in this one -not a single wimpy, helpless, trouble-maker among them.

We get 4 exploding cars in this one. I didn't count the numbers of other vehicles that exploded.

The BBC review says it's
a strong entry, with Brosnan the comfortable, confident face of the invigorated franchise, reflecting the Connery glory days 30 years earlier.

Roger Ebert says it
gets the job done, sometimes excitingly, often with style....The look of the film is authoritative; the scenes involving warships and airplanes seem sleek and plausible. There's gorgeous photography as a junk sails in a sea filled with peaks, and astonishing action choreography in the rooftop motorcycle chase.

On the basis of this installment, the longest-running movies series seems fit for the 21st century.

EW doesn't like it much.

trailer:

Mr. Incredible is James Bond

As The Incredibles is a favorite of The Husband, I offer this for him:



but I blame the James Bond Blogathon because I never would have watched it except for that.

HT: /film

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Goldeneye

This is another DVD we watched due to the inspiration of the James Bond blogathon -Licensed To Blog: The James Blog-A-Thon.

Goldeneye (1995) is the first Pierce Brosnan Bond film and the 17th in the series. Yes! I think Brosnan is a worthy successor to Sean Connery. Brosnan doesn't indulge in the comedy, though he does have wit. He's physical, serious without being stiff and seems to have a healthy appreciation for women. And he's got a hairy chest. Brosnan gets to be 2nd after Connery on my favorites list of Bonds I've watched for this blogathon. And this was such a fun film.

The women are varied. We get mindless assassins and mindless, easily seduced "evaluators", but we also get intelligent women with power and brave women who step up. A good mix.

And we get explosions. This makes up for another lack in the Roger Moore film we saw earlier. There are 3 exploding cars (as best as we could count), an exploding tank, a train that explodes twice... The number of vehicle explosions does not disappoint.

The BBC has a positive review here. Moria also has a review. Roger Ebert reviews it here. The New York Times didn't like it. The Washington Post has a mixed review.

trailer:

The Man with the Golden Gun

This is another DVD watched because I was inspired by the James Bond blogathon -Licensed To Blog: The James Blog-A-Thon.

The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) is Roger Moore's 2nd entry in the James Bond film series. Christopher Lee co-stars, and he is the best thing about this movie. Not exactly filled with excitement, this one.

Sean Connery is still my favorite Bond, and Lazenby is still my 2nd favorite in the films watched for this blogathon. That puts Roger Moore third of 3. There are several reasons for my preferences. The treatment of the women is one factor. I get the impression that Connery's Bond really likes women -all of them- and enjoys their company. I think of Lazenby's Bond as tolerating women and making use of them as he needs them, which is more in line with what I remember from reading the 1st book. I'm not sure Moore's Bond really likes women, perhaps is not even attracted to them, and only responds to their advances when he can't avoid it. Why they advance is puzzling. The last scene felt obligatory.

I've mentioned Connery's charm; Moore has no charm. He's stiff but without gravitas or seriousness. I guess I might say he lacks the best of both Connery and Lazenby but has no redeeming strength to attract me. I remember liking Moore in The Saint, but that was so long ago. I wonder how I would feel about those shows now.

Another reason for my preference is that, although I enjoy Connery's light touch and humor, Moore seems too light. Too much comedy, almost slapstick. How he can be too stiff on the one hand and too comedic on the other is something I'm still trying to figure out.

I am looking at how the women come across, thinking I would see a difference through time, and I do see a difference. If anything, the women seem more passive and less competent the more recent the movie. In this one we get Miss Goodnight, who is sent along to keep an eye on Bond but whose sole purpose seems to be to mess things up, flirt with Bond and pout. (sigh)

We don't even get a single exploding car -a flying car and an exploding sea plane, but it's just not the same.

NPR has an audio interview with Moore in which he discusses his new book on his experiences with James Bond.

The BBC review calls it "An ugly, cold-hearted, and occasionally ridiculous film which is plausibly the worst of the franchise. "

The New York Times review closes by advising us that "if you enjoyed the early Bond films as much as I did, you'd better skip this one."

Moria reviewed this film, calling it "surprisingly dull".

trailer:

Tom Hanks is James Bond

Well, not really, but what if....


I would never have paid the slightest attention to this video if not for the James Bond blogathon -Licensed To Blog: The James Blog-A-Thon. I blame them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

I was inspired to watch this by the James Bond blogathon -Licensed To Blog: The James Blog-A-Thon.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) is the sole George Lazenby entry in the world of James Bond. I've read several sites that claim this film is acknowledged as one of the best in the series, but I found it slow and Lazenby unengaging. Sean Connery is so charming; Lazenby doesn't appeal to me in the same way. [Interesting note: this new article on the franchise doesn't even mention Lazenby.]

By the time the Diana Rigg character showed back up later in the film I had forgotten all about her. It certainly seemed like Bond had. The skiing scenes went on forever. I found Moneypenny's teary scene at Bond's wedding pathetic. (Get hold of yourself, woman!) The whole thing just went on too long, and then poof! it was over.

We do, on the other hand, get one exploding car. That's one in each film so far.

The BBC review concludes by saying, "By no means the premium Bond, but an intriguing one."

Salon.com says it is "the only Bond film that gets beyond the dirty boy's-book spirit of the series to a core of real emotion."

trailer:


11/14/2008:
Tom the Dog defends this Bond film as part of the blogathon.