Once Upon a Time in Generation X

As someone said, “It’s not how many of these movies have you seen, it’s how many times you have seen these movies.”

Some Kind of Wonderful was one of the underrated John Huges Movies, if only for Duncan

My sister and I had a tradition of watching Breakfast Club before the start of every school year.


Nice Touch

New footage in the beginning.

In the comic books for a very long time the only other person who had wielded Thor’s hammer was Cap because he was worthy. Rodgers moving it slightly and Thor’s fading smirk are a nod to that. I wonder if they will take it beyond the nod.

(Later an alien hero named Beta Ray Bill would also be found worthy enough to wield Mjolnir and Odin had a new hammer forged just for him.)

Speaking of Comic Book Magick Users…

Benedict Cumberbatch to Play Doctor Strange.



He was never in the running in my “dream casting,” but he more than capable of taking on both sides of Doctor Strange: The man of science and magick. Strange has one of the more dramatic origin character arcs, going from world famous and coldly egotistical surgeon, to destitute and desperate loser, to humble adherent who learns to truly care for others, to Marvel’s Master of the Mystic Arts, responsible for the safety and magickal/spiritual well-being of the entire universe. In short, it’s the kind of role Cumberbatch can eat up with a ladle.

In the past Strange has too often been treated as an exposition machine by other comic book titles, aloof, all knowing, but sometimes a writer comes in and makes the character fun. A character who can be in the otherworld, but who’s core of humanity ensures he is never of it.

And there is his interest in sports.

Can’t get hockey scores on the Astral Plane.

Is this your phone?

And the fact while he does truly care, one of Strange’s defining characteristics/flaws is confidence that occasionally crosses the line into dangerous arrogance. He has fucked up, and fucked up badly, a few times to the point he has voluntarily relinquished his title for a time. But he does have a wry sense of humor, rather necessary in his line of work, and humanity that will balance nicely with the arrogance to keep the character from falling into a Sherlockian pigeon hole. (Though I can see him using touches of Sherlock’s arrogance for the beginning of Strange’s story.)

I’m really looking forward to it. 🙂

Soundtracks are Life! (lots of links directly to music)

…well maybe not “life” as in biological life, but certainly in films and TV series. The music of a show enhances, and I think can make or break, a film or TV series. I was watching Dollhouse (another SciFi venture that deserves more love)  last night. The series has Lissie’s “Everywhere I Go” playing over the final scene, though slightly altered from its original version.


Version used on Dollhouse:

You can tell how just slowing the tempo and stripping down the instrumentation changes the mood to suit one of the oddest “happily ever afters” in TV history. Whedon has always loved soundtracks and used them very well  (including one of the saddest pieces of music ever put on TV), even going do far as to write an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a musical and writing an entire musical: Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along. But Dollhouse was the first time he used popular music so extensively in one of his shows.

Popular music has always been used in TV, but CSI (Vegas) really kicked off a modern movement of using it heavily in TV series. This has been a wonderful thing since shows like House and Scrubs (especially Scrubs) have given artists international exposure they would not get in mainstream radio media.

Though there are TONS of great songs on Scrubs, my favorite remains this accoustic version of “Overkill.”

The soundtrack is a powerful item in the director’s toolkit. I don’t think Gladiator would be as well regarded as it was without Han Zimmer‘s amazing orchestral work. And of course, who isn’t familiar with the PotC theme? Inception would lose much of its emotional impact without his compositions. I have not been able to work myself up to watching 12 Years a Slave (I know it’s going to be one of those where I just want to stick my head in an oven), but he also did the soundtrack for that. In fact, he reused some themes from Inception for it. But then, I think he lifted a bit of Holst suite of The Planets for Gladiator‘s battle sequences.

But he is hardly the first to swipe from other sources. John Williams has been accused of lifting from Holst, Stravinsky and Dvořák. But so what when the result is some of the most iconic music in the modern age? (My sister’s brides’ groomsman, yes she had a guy in her wedding retinue, suggested using the Imperial March as her processional. It was nixed.) I read an article once that said the most recognized piece of music in the world was the theme of Indiana Jones, with Beethoven’s 9th following a close second. And then there is Schindler’s List. Can anyone hear Ithzak Pearlman‘s violin and not be moved?

Howard Shore is most famous for his work on Peter Jackson’s LotR trilogy, and I was so glad they got him back for The Hobbit trilogy. It would have simply been too divorced from the first trilogy to have felt like the same world. He also brought dread and an unusual sadness to The Silence of the Lambs soundtrack, and has a long working relationship with David Cronenberg, scoring most of his films including A History of Violence. (Which at points does sound like another Viggo Mortensen project he has worked on. 😉  )

Another one of my favorites is the Master and Commander soundtrack, which is a combination of Iva Davies amazing score and selection of baroque and classical pieces popular in the era. This was perfect for fans of the books as music is what drew Stephen and Jack together in the first place, despite their vast differences. (Seriously, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin is one of the greatest friendships in literature.)

Ennio Morricone‘s spectacular soundtrack for The Mission (another head-in-the-oven film for me) has practically outlived the film, combining orchestral, choral and indigenous language elements. He has a long career in films, notably spaghetti westerns, including the most iconic western theme ever. But also The Untouchables and Cinema Paradiso. Quentin Tarantino is fond of raiding his work and most recently it can be heard on the soundtrack for Django Unchained.

So what do you think? Any noteworthy names you think should be added to the list?

Big Disasters

There are going to be a bunch of small posts today with different things that floated to the top of the random roiling flotsam and jetsam that is my thought process.

So, to begin:

I have two threads drawing me to see Into the Storm, the tornado film coming out in August.

The first is this guy:

Richard Armitage, Self Assignment, October 4, 2013

Yes dear, you’re hot. Let’s move on.

The second is the fact that I work at a University in the department that houses the Atmospheric Sciences. I can’t wait to go see this with some of them to point and laugh because this promises to be only slightly more scientifically accurate than 2012.

Now, this film is not trying to sell itself as Chekov, I get that. It’s a mindless pop-corn flick. That’s totally fine. I have Pacific Rim at home because there is something relaxing about watching giant robots and giant monsters pummeling each other. Don’t ask me what, it’s my zen.


Don’t not seek the Kaiju, only cherish kicking its ass.

But when your trailer about a film supposedly based on realistic events has lines like, “This one is bigger than any storm that has ever been!” which is refuted in thee seconds on Wikipedia  (and just to give you an idea of how big Typhoon Tip was) you have hella-bad screenwriting.  There are scientific reasons why large hurricanes and typhoons form over the ocean, not land, so no, you are not going to have the “biggest storm of all time” over Oklahoma. That was an unnecessary piece of hyperbole that just makes the film look foolish. Multiple massive tornadoes tearing through a place is bad enough, you really don’t need to embellish it with “ZOMFG! This is like, the worst storm EVAR!” I also highly question if a storm would have enough energy to put out four or five funnels in close proximity like that. There is bending the truth with some poetic license, and there is just not giving a rat’s ass about your subject matter except as an excuse for special effects.

As a history major I see that a lot. I, and many historians, understand that for the sake of story cohesion and time, events have to be streamlined and compressed, peripheral personages have to be merged or left out, etc.. We get that, but often things are changed for the sake of the Hollywood concept of “drama” and the story suffers because there was plenty of great drama in the real events. Real history is usually more interesting than anything Hollywood can cook up. I find the further a film drifts from the truth, the more “poetic license” they take, the worse the film is. For instance, Tora Tora Tora vs. Pearl Harbor. Tora Tora Tora is considered one of the top WWII films of all time and the only historical accuracy issues were equipment ones because the filmmakers in 1968 could not get their hands on WWII fighters and battleships. Pearl Harbor was an utter mess historically and dramatically.

Real science creates realistic jeopardy which just makes for a better movie. Look at this list from Popular Mechanics for the ten most scientifically accurate vs. ten least scientifically accurate SciFi films, and see which side of the scale is weighted down by artistic quality.

Most Scientifically Accurate:

~ 2001

~ Andromeda Strain

~ Alien

~ Blade Runner

~ Terminator

~ Jurassic Park

~ Gattaca

~ Contact (I do not understand the hate people have for this film. It was faithful to Carl Sagan’s novel, yet people seem to think they bought tickets for a George Lucas movie.)

~ Deep Impact

~ Minority Report (Again, a film that needs more love. It’s a great story told very well. Yes, the psychic premise is shaky, but the technology is sound. And while Tom Cruise maybe a complete nutter off camera, he knows what he is doing in front of it.)

A lot of damn good movies, right? Many iconic, even.

Least Scientifically Accurate:

~ The Black Hole (Does anyone remember this film? Neil deGrasse Tyson does and watch how much this film pisses him off 35 years later. And he makes the same point I just did: Sometimes filmmakers decide that their “vision” is more compelling then reality, and they are just wrong.)

~ Armageddon

~ The Matrix

~ Vanilla Sky

~ The Core

~ The Day After Tomorrow

~ I am Legend

~ Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Or, “Why Indy Should Have Remained in the Fantasy Genre.”)

~ 2012

~ Angels and Demons

They have The Matrix and Vanilla Sky, if you are into that sort of thing. (In which case, Jacob’s Ladder did it better.)  But as you see by in large, the better films are the ones that strove for some scientific accuracy.

So there is “artistic license” and there’s “I’m just too lazy to put some real work into this script and will leave it to the special effects shop to write most of the movie.”

Which is sad because this guy:


Oh! Hello, there…

…is a first-rate actor and deserves good material. (Thank the Gods he is working with great material now.) I am hoping I am wrong. I am hoping that this is film is better than its marketing. Sometimes that happens.