So I come back from two days of no electricity and no Internet, with Atlantic City now just Atlantic and Hoboken drowning in its own sewage, to find that the Mouse has control of The Force.
Just so people don't think I'm being insensitive: The latter is obviously far lower on my list of things to worry about than the former items. I have friends in Jersey that I'm just now re-establishing contact with, and they all seem fine barring a flooded basement or a downed power line. But the Lucasdisney thing is just weird. (And talking about it here helps take my mind off the chaos for a bit.)
I mentioned a way back how I kind of fell out with Star Wars after discovering Lucas's film school inspirations — mainly The Hidden Fortress and Seven Samurai, and how that permanently rerouted my interests. Now we have new films on the way, with the possibility of the creative process for those films more closely resembling the original trilogy, where Lucas gave his imprimatur on the broad designs of the project and stood back and let other people do the heavy lifting. It worked. It was when he stepped back into the director's chair and surrounded himself with yes-men that the whole project became a nasty parody of its former glory.
I'm not convinced this is a rebirth, but I'm curious. I am, however, wondering if this means the next Kingdom Hearts game will include Indiana Jones and Han Solo alongside Captain America and Goofy.
With a hurricane barrelling up the coast, there's a good chance I could be offline for days on end. Between then and now, I have the first draft of a book to finish (I hope).
See you on the other side of the rain.
Tags: excuse our dust
Brad Warner, he whose Hardcore Zen and Sit Down and Shut Up I both enjoyed a great deal, has a post on his blog entitled Why I Am Still a Buddhist. Almost everything he says in it is something I echo myself, with regard not only to Buddhism but writing SF and fantasy. If that sounds like a stretch, well, he-e-ere goes.Read more
Most of us ought to know the phenomenon (as Marc mentioned in the comments in a previous post) where the fact that something has become popular now means it sucks. We all know this one; we just don't know what to do about it.Read more
Back in an earlier post I mentioned the "turn off your TV if you want to get some real writing done" crowd. I've touched on that idea before, and how inadvertently destructive it is.
Note that I'm not talking about the idea of minimizing distractions, which is perfectly okay. I know at least one person who can't write without the TV babbling away full blast behind her. Me, I barely even have music playing when I write; different scenes for different genes, and all that.
I'm talking about the idea, gaining a disturbing degree of acceptance in certain cultural circles, that one must manifest contempt for popular culture as a prerequisite to writing something truly great. What's worse is that I've come close to saying such a thing plenty of times myself, if not outright declaring it in so many words.Read more
I've been curious about the ratio of original-to-adapted projects in filmed science fiction for some time now, in big part because a cursory survey of significant SF movies from past decades shows that most of them were in fact reworked from short stories or novels. The originals mostly seemed to be the tons of awful cheapies that flooded the market and vanished without a trace, only to end up on midnight TV or Something Weird Video.
Among the early exceptions I can think of, apart from Metropolis, was Forbidden Planet. It was adapted — shilling for lifted wholesale — from Shakespeare's Tempest, but it wasn't reworked directly from any pre-existing SF novel. In fact, an adaptation of it was written from the script (something Frederik Pohl never stopped kicking himself for turning down, since he ended up loving the movie). 2001 was a hybrid: it was written both as a literary and as a cinematic project, more or less at the same time.Read more
This time around, a look at BD releases from overseas that have inexplicably not made it out here in the U.S.. but are available as cross-region imports.
Tetsuo / Tetsuo II. The first film is pretty much indispensable to any understanding of modern Japanese / horror / SF filmmaking (any one of those three, or in any combination). The second, less so — and the third, even less so. But a properly-restored version of the first movie alone makes this vital.
Gate of Hell. Not all of my other J-cinema fan friends are fond of this movie, but it had a pretty major impact on me when I was first getting into that field, and its gorgeous cinematography is a major plus (the opening scene, shot in three-quarters perspective like a ukiyo-e scroll, is amazing).
The Nest. I had great things to say about this nifty action-thriller when it first debuted here, not least of all because it manages to convery an amazing amount of its storytelling with nothing but imagery (the entire first reel is without dialogue). The lack of a domestic Blu-ray hurts.
The Lost Weekend. It's only dated in a few superficial aspects, and the scenes with Milland fighting off DTs aren't the most frightening ones: it's when he's trying to pawn his typewriter on Sunday for more booze. Why no U.S. edition?
Profound Desires of the Gods. Another curious omission, a Shohei Imamura production from the '60s that by all word is one of his best works. I liked that we were able to get Vengeance Is Mine, but it would be nice to have this round out the bill too.
Fantastic Planet. I never forgot this amazing little film, a precursor it seems to so many of the stranger corners that anime would wander into in later decades. A BD edition seemed as proper for this as it did for Yellow Submaries, but again, why no domestic pressing?
Ran. Do not, under any circumstances, buy the terrible Studio Canal versions of this magnificent film. Criterion was all set to produce their own BD edition before they lost the rights to the film, and now all the current transfers are wretched upscale jobs. I hear the Korean edition, with English subs, is worth the effort, but the question of whether or not one of cinema's greatest achievements is ever going to be free of this kind of gratuitous humiliation remains unanswered.
Repo Man. Yep. The ultimate '80s cult film, more or less, did get a nice Anchor Bay DVD edition a while back, and I know an HD transfer has been struck, but we're still waiting on actually getting a release for it on this side of the pond for some weird reason.
Depending on my time management strategies, I plan on getting the movie-reviews section geared back up again, with a new focus on films and critiques that reflect the ways my interests in genres, etc. have been shaped by recent discussions.
Classical computers use “bits” of information that can be either 0 or 1. But quantum-information technologies let scientists consider “qubits,” quantum bits of information that are both 0 and 1 at the same time. Logic circuits, made of qubits directly harnessing the weirdness of superpositions, allow a quantum computer to calculate vastly faster than anything existing today. A quantum machine using no more than 300 qubits would be a million, trillion, trillion, trillion times faster than the most modern supercomputer.
A comment from one of my earlier posts coarsened some hairs: "Why celebrate movies at their most pathetic and incompetent when there are so many genuinely good ones that remain unseen, even by knowledgeable fans?"Read more