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Morvern Callar, and six more movies


Morvern Callar
(2001)

Samantha Morton stars as Morvern Callar, a young woman with an odd name, obviously. All through the movie she has to explain how it's pronounced and spelled, which is amusing for the audience but must grow tiresome for Morvern. 

She wakes up on Christmas Eve beside her boyfriend, but he's dead. He's killed himself, leaving her a note and the completed manuscript of his first novel. The note says he's sorry for the bloody mess, but asks her to send the manuscript to publishers for possible publication, and ends with, "I love you. Be brave." 

She is brave. Before sending the manuscript to a publisher, she changes the byline to "by Morvern Callar." Instead of having her dead beau buried or even notifying the authorities, she carves his body like roast beef, buries the pieces, and goes gallivanting across the country with her friend, using the dead boyfriend's credit card to pay the tab.

THE
NEVERENDING
FILM FESTIVAL

#153

Monday,
March 20, 2023


In addition to the novel and the note, Morvern's dead boyfriend also left her a pretty good mix tape, which becomes the soundtrack of the movie — Aphex Twin, Can, Stereolab, The Velvet Underground...

We're never shown what makes Morvern tick or why she's doing what she's doing, but the story works better not knowing. She's simply somewhat askew, as are most of us, but maybe more so. It's all reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith, and that's high praise.

The film has some 1970s-style movie nudity, much of which seemed dubious and unnecessary. Do grown-up best girlfriends who aren't lesbianically involved take baths together? I've never shared a bath with any of my male buddies, but maybe that's just me.

Bottom line, though, this is my favorite film of the week. It could've been a horror movie, a road movie, a dark comedy, a psychological profile, a lot of things, but instead it defies genre and simply tells its story. Does it well, too.

Verdict: YES.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Bottoms (1966)

Here's an hour and a half of people's butts, swaying as they walk away from the camera. They're walking away from the camera, because if they were walking toward the camera, you wouldn't be able to see their bottoms.

All butts are naked, so if you're into that you'll have plenty to like. Me, I don't mind butts if they're well-wiped, but the rear view is of minimal prurient interest. I was more intrigued by the people talking about their butts, and about the experience of dropping trou in front of a camera.

This odd documentary was directed by Yoko Ono, punchline of the 1960s and early '70s. Her cover of Pink Floyd is legendary, but I've increasingly come to believe that the snickering Ms Ono gets is sometimes undeserved. I've seriously liked some of her pop music, and Bottoms is enjoyable, too. Seriously.

Verdict: YES.

♦ ♦ ♦   

Charly (1968) 

Cliff Robertson goes full retard as Charly Gordon, an adult imbecile who undergoes surgery for brain repair.

The story's science is shaky, but the drama is compelling enough. As Charly's IQ rapidly rises, he gains a new perspective on the world, and falls in love with his lovely mentor (Claire Bloom). 

The editor in me was perturbed by an early scene where Bloom is teaching written English as a second language to adults and, on a chalkboard, she demonstrates that 'nite' should instead be spelled N i G H T. Clearly, this woman should not be teaching English until she's mastered the distinction between upper- and lower-case letters.

Other than that glaring error, Charly makes for a wise investment of your time, though there's really no surprise to it — it's exactly what you'd expect from the plot synopsis, no less and no more.

It's based on Flowers for Algernon, a terrific novel by Daniel Keyes that tells its story via Charly's journal entries, and gives a much deeper sense of the man than the movie can. Scripted by Stirling Silliphant, with an unusual score by Ravi Shankar, it's perhaps Robertson's best performance, but still, the book was so much better.

Verdict: YES.

♦ ♦ ♦  

The Diane Linkletter Story (1969)

Waters called this film "accidental," and it was never released nor intended to be. He'd bought a new camera with sound-synch ability, so he had some friends, including Divine of course, improvise a story about the death of Art Linkletter's daughter, Diane.

It's distasteful, obviously, to mock a woman's death, and Waters does what he can to make it more distasteful, because he's John Waters. It can't compete with Art Linkletter's crime against humanity, though — Linkletter built a nationwide drug panic around his daughter's death, claiming she'd jumped off a balcony while high on LSD.

As for the film, it's about nine minutes long, utterly amateur, and not particularly interesting unless you're a Waters completist.

Verdict: NO.

♦ ♦ ♦   

The Last Picture Show (1971)

After hearing about this movie for fifty years — it's widely considered one of the best films ever made — I'm disappointed to find that it's about horny high school boys eager to lose their virginity.

Jeff Bridges wants into Cybil Shepard's pants, and Timothy Bottoms is after the football coach's wife, Cloris Leachman. 

The film has a terrific cast, and there's some genuine art to it, definitely. The only movie theater is closing, symbolic of the town's demise, and there's no future for the people who live there. Anyone who stays is promised exactly that — a future with no future.

Made by Peter Bogdanovich, based on a novel by Larry McMurtry, The Last Picture Show is sometimes sad, sometimes deep, sometimes compelling, never boring, and it's absolutely a good movie.

Basically, though, it's a highbrow Porky's without jokes, or a soap opera — As the World Turns, set in a faded and dusty Texas town.

There are other elements in the story, but there's not much more to it than that. Everyone's trying to get boinked, and most of the characters succeed, but it doesn't make any of them happy.

Recommended, absolutely. This is one of the finest films ever made about the pursuit of boinking.

Verdict: YES.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Maniac Cop (1988)

The crazed killer on the loose in New York City is actually a cop. Film at 11.

I saw this at Seattle's long-gone Midway Drive-In when it came out, enjoyed it but forgot about it. Only now have I realized that it was written by the brilliant Larry Cohen, and co-stars Bruce Campbell.

Made before Campbell had fully embraced his campy niche, he plays his role as an actor, and he's surprisingly good, not at all Campbelly. Tom Atkins is the star, and he's grizzled and believable. There's also a dash of Richard Roundtree, and several splashes of Sheree North, who steals every scene she's in and almost makes off with the entire movie.

"You have the right to remain silent ... forever." 

Maniac Cop is unpretentious but enjoyable schlock. There are some enjoyable murders — tense, even terrifying without being any gorier that necessary, and there's a comical coroner who loves his work.

There's even a bit of a message, when a black guy says, "I've seen plenty of my friends murdered by cops. Shot in the back, shot when they didn't have a gun or a knife, claimin' the suspect had a shiny object. You know cops like killin'. That's why they cops. Yeah."

If the film is less than a masterpiece, and it is, it's probably because it was directed by someone named William Lustig instead of Mr Cohen. This is the only movie Lustig directed that I've even heard of.

Verdict: YES.

I wonder what's the backstory on my DVD rip's odd technical problems. Every time the story involves the Mayor, the imagery looks like VHS and the sound doubles in volume. When the setting is anywhere else, it looks and sounds like a movie. I'm guessing they ran out of funds and filmed the Mayor's scenes on video.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Nightfall (1988)

Isaac Asimov wrote lots of rather leaden science fiction, but this is based on one of his best, the short story "Nightfall," about a world orbiting several suns. With different sources of light, the sky's colors and shadows shift and alter, but true darkness is never known.

Once in a great while, though, the stars align exactly wrong, and the world sees a six-sun sunset followed by something nobody's experienced before — night. To the planet's people it might as well be armageddon.

As told by Asimov, there's great drama and trauma, and a showdown between science and religion. Sadly, Asimov's frightful future never envisioned what a mess Roger Corman might make of it.

In this deathly dull and misguided adaptation, David Birney stars as the rational scientist figure, wearing a wig and flowing robes. He's pitted against religious leader Alexis Kanner, and they throw mumbo-jumbo and stilted dialogue at each other.

Padded with inexplicable dance sequences and groping sexual hijinks, the film is barely coherent and forgets to have an ending.

I apologize to Mr Asimov for this film's existence, and for watching it.

Verdict: BIG NO.

Here's a much better telling of the same story in just half an hour, made for radio.

♦ ♦ ♦   

Coming soon:

A Day at the Races (1937)
Evil Bong 777 (2018)
The Giant Spider (2012)
Henri (2012)
La Jetée (1966)
The Mechanic (1972)
Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) 

3/20/2023   

There are so many good movies out there — old movies, odd or artsy, foreign or forgotten movies, or do-it-yourself movies made just for the joy of making them — that if you only watch whatever's on Netflix or playing at the twenty-plex, you're missing out.

To get beyond the ordinary, I recommend:

Alter
Cineverse
Criterion
CultCinema Classics
DocsVille
Dust
Fandor
Films for Action
Hoopla
IHaveNoTV
IndieFlix
Internet Archive
Kanopy
KinoCult
Kino Lorber
Korean Classic Film
Christopher R Mihm
Mosfilm
Mubi
National Film Board of Canada
New Yorker Screening Room
Damon Packard
Mark Pirro
PizzaFlix
PopcornFlix
Public Domain Movies
RareFilmm
Scarecrow Video
Shudder
ThoughtMaybe
Timeless Classic Movies
VoleFlix
WatchDocumentaries
or your local library.

Some people even access films through shady methods, though of course, that would be wrong.

— — —
 
Illustration by Jeff Meyer. Reviews are spoiler-free. Click any image to enlarge. Arguments & recommendations are welcome, but no talking once the lights dim, and only real butter on the popcorn, not that fake yellow stuff.

 
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71 comments:

  1. My brother, I don't recall your reviewing any Elvis Presley movies. I just read either a very short bio or a long magazine article about Elvis at the beginning of his career, and I recalled that I once actually saw an Elvis movie -- exactly one: Follow That Dream. I was about 14 and it was a second run house with sticky floors. I was on a date, but it would have had to be catch and release, because I would have had no idea what do do had we become amorous. As it turned out, there was little chance of that to the relief of both of us, I think. But once again I digress.

    I came away with two impressions, both of which I remember today much better than the film.

    1) Jesus, the critics were right: Elvis movies are badly written and badly directed.

    2) Oddly enough, Elvis doesn't entirely suck as an actor.

    OK, remember I was 14, but I think I knew a good movie from a crappy one. I'd just seen A Hard Day's Night, and I can remember thinking "The motherfuckers actually pulled it off. Hot dog." So there's my calibration for good or bad.

    Are you going to review an Elvis movie? Any Elvis movie? I suppose they're all as bad as Follow That Dream, but I probably don't understand why FTD sucked. You could probably tell me, with a review of any Elvis movie.

    I know the Colonel got Elvis into the movie business to avoid offshore touring because the Colonel couldn't leave the United States, but Elvis had always been captivated by movies.

    I'm patient.

    John

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've seen most of Elvis's movies, and few seem worth seeing a second time. Few, but not zero, so a couple of screenings will happen. Overall, not the worst actor, but a sorry collection of scripts selected.

      Delete
  2. Last Picture Show was also credited with re-igniting interest in the music of Hank Williams, whose recordings were often issued with bogus overdubbed drums, electric guitars, pianos and backing vocalists in hopes of interesting a "modern" audience. Well, these original unadorned tracks need no 'sweetening' and their appearance in original form on the movie's soundtrack led many people to seek out his stuff. Hank made records from 1947-1952, dying on January 1, 1953 in the backseat of a car on his way to another gig. Most of them were '78s or singles. Albums were not a popular medium for country-western music back then. The first 12" LP I see mentioned as part of his catalog was the Hank Williams Memorial Album that came out in the late '50s and it features an excellent sampling of his best work. Of course, these days you can collect his entire recorded output (well, there's likely always something else they find afterwards) as The Complete Hank Williams, a 10-CD box set that's worth its weight in gold for those of us who eat and breathe this stuff.

    Nice to hear that Sherrie North could still tear up the screen that late in her career. She was still a charismatic woman when she appeared on the Mary Tyler Moore Show as a lounge singer who fell for Lou Grant. That woman reminds me of that line from Sylvia Plath (or is it Anne Sexton, I mix them up too much) about eating men like air. -- Arden

    P.S. John, you really want to put poor Doug through watching an Elvis movie? Supposedly, Jailhouse Rock is pretty good. I saw it when I was a teenager but I have zero memory if I liked it. Even if I did, that would be going on a teenager's opinion and not the informed, moderately coherent adult male I am today. Heh Heh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ms North was usually given not enough to do but always did it well. In MANIAC COP her role is slightly larger and she devours all of it and comes back for seconds.

      There are things to be said about Hank Williams, kind things, but I'm groggy this morning from the drugs taken last night so I'll let someone else say what ought to be said.

      Delete
  3. I got a hot rod Ford, and a two dollar bill
    And I know a spot right over the hill
    There's soda pop and the dancing's free
    So if you wanna have fun, come along with me

    Hey, good lookin' - what ya got cookin'?
    How's about cooking somethin' up with me?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, man, but I'm through with romance in this life. Catch me on the next go-round, though.

      Delete
    2. I was groggy this morning, like I said, but so groggy I seriously don't remember typing whatever I typed.

      Delete
    3. Hey, brother, when I come on to you, you'll know it. In this case, you requested someone to say something kind about Hank Williams, and he had a bit of a tragic life with spina bifida occulta and the need to constantly dull the pain, so I left some of Hank's own words as a tribute. This comment lands in the middle of comments about Asimov and science fiction, but Hank's life was a dusty, earthbound existence, ending with a long ride in a Cadillac.

      John

      Delete
    4. So... where was the Cadillac headed? The funeral home?

      I am prone to snap judgments, which often cost me, but decades ago I decided country music wasn't doing it for me, and I've mostly stayed away. That Cady ride is one of many, many things I don't know about Hank Williams.

      Delete
    5. On New Years Eve, 1952, Hank rented a Cadillac and hired a driver to drive him from Montgomery, Alabama to a New Years Day gig in Canton, Ohio. Hank's driver noticed that he was driving a dead man in Oak Hill, West Virginia. He took him to the local hospital, then to the local funeral home where he stayed until Hank's mother came to claim the body.

      jtb

      Delete
    6. Don't think I'd ever heard that before. It resonates with a scene in PAYDAY, the country western drama I watched a month or so ago, and I'm sure that's what the movie was riffing on.

      Hey, I'm curious — how much country is in your musical playlist? I don't have much, but I love what I got. Willie Nelson, mostly.

      Delete
    7. I'll send a more complete answer later, but my immediate answer is, it depends what you think country music is. I have some Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, Hot Club of Cowtown, Kinky Friedman, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Kris Kristofferson, Elvis Presley, Doug Sahm, The Reverend Horton Heat, and a few other country/Americana artists in my modest collection. I'm not at home right now, so there are probably many more artists who border on country that I listen to.

      I can assure you that no Garth Brooks music has ever darkened my door. Kinky Friedman always calls Garth Brooks the "Anti-Hank".

      By the way, I have all of Kinky Friedman's detective books, and I happen to be rereading one now. It happens to be "The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover", but they're all pretty good, quick reads.

      But I meander.

      John

      Delete
    8. That's funny, Doug. I love old country music from the 40s-70s but Willie Nelson is the one I can't listen to. His phrasings just do zero for me. -- Arden

      Delete
    9. I think I see the problem. To me, old country music is from the 30s and features the Blue Yodels of Jimmie Rodgers, including Peach Pickin' Time in Georgia. Jimmie's phrasing was just right, then he died. He's pretty widely regarded as "The Father of American Country Music." I neglected to include him on my collection list. I also omitted Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs although they didn't leave Bill Monroe's combo until 1948, right in the middle of the phrasing zone.

      Obviously everybody gets to enjoy whatever they enjoy and dislike whatever they dislike. Take Garth Brooks. Please.

      John

      Delete
    10. I do love the pickin', Flatt and Scruggs et al, and Luther Wright's bluegrass covers of rock hits. Johnny Cash when he has something to say. Old country music is better than what's on the radio now, but the same can be said of rock, probably even rap.

      I dunno. Just never get the feeling that I'm missing much by not listening.

      Oh, and Arden, I can completely understand being non-Nelson. Dude sounds weird. I happen to like his particular weird, is all.

      Delete
    11. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJ6gtl1sX46qYMOeEDF0VaSWDexSlfglf

      Delete
    12. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLX66jEixZe1xzGDJlILqFexV1bA9BAfx4

      Delete
    13. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLX66jEixZe1zy5uZbjprSMeHz9za4pw8F

      Delete
    14. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mfgRHvfUV5ygOehRmx0RCOIzXvrXhHGdw

      Delete
    15. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_m7_jknMihpKDXj42EL-GbTxakT-Kz4rH4

      Delete
    16. https://youtu.be/gcfUNHBDfCM

      Delete
    17. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_l8R6-yzBmIXdrM_uchAhqyROVvz1UXJrw

      Delete
    18. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLcWeXWZaxWmPBYCxK0vSAeq8-mgtieNLT

      Delete
    19. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_kGKXzr_-UvUI-9otP8G8i50Kqm3cbvJNM

      Delete
    20. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_kMY6VaFE5t3d24-q08BSEsrfZ9c_TwXJE

      Delete
    21. Claude Reigns

      Delete
    22. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLz6cAheObZcg4fpB5JJAykkyHHULSQXci

      Delete
    23. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLL34IRDwxFKc5PTCzs8L73bfvYajdL9_v

      Delete
    24. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA16D62F40FAC475F

      Delete
    25. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZQ6ZRAViJWSO_hG4yrUggJgoziOaU_Du

      Delete
    26. Porter Wagoner had a funny name, and a TV show I watched rarely when I was a kid.

      Listening to "Company's Coming" right now, and it ain't awful, but he's missing the part where if company's coming I'm going out the back door.

      Delete
    27. No, man, Gene Clark is not country. He's middle-early folk-rock, and then he flew with the Byrds. "Full Circle Song"...

      And now I'm listening to the whole album. "In a Misty Morning" is maybe country adjacent...

      Delete
    28. OK, I'm hearing the country a little more clearly in Clark's "So Rebellious a Lover" and weirdly, "Some Misunderstanding".

      Delete
    29. Did *he* call it country?

      Sing something sincere while strumming a non-electric guitar and it's likely to *sound* at least somewhat country, but it's not the sound that makes a song country. It's the vibe.

      I like country music that doesn't have the country vibe, and Gene Clark doesn't have it so some of it I'm playing twice.

      Delete
    30. only one-deep imbedded replies, so this is in response to a comment about three or four up. Porter Wagoner had a hell of a time when he was touring with Johnny Cash because Johnny was rarely without his guitar and the Tennessee Two and he'd break into song at the slightest provocation.

      The train would be approaching Tennessee, and Johnny would start singing . . .

      Hey porter, hey porter!
      Would you tell me the time?
      How much longer will it be 'til we cross
      That Mason-Dixon Line?

      . . . and Mr Wagoner would reply, "Jesus, Johnny it's ten minutes later than last time you asked."

      By the way, the Google info panel on this song identifies it as rockabilly, not country. Good luck trying to delineate country music.

      John

      Delete
    31. While we're here, here is Wikipedia's taxonomic music list. Don't try to embrace the whole thing: just look at the categories under "country". Marshall McLuhan said that what he called the "age of television" and I call the "digital economy" would shatter humankind's understanding of the universe into a million pieces and reshape and recategorize human knowledge.

      As an example, one of my favorite bands is The Reverend Horton Heat. They fall into the category of psychobilly. Here they are singing "My Indigo Friends". Check out guitarist Jim Heath playing lead (melody), rhythm (chords), and flourishes (Hendrix stuff) simultaneously.


      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAnBcKiBWUs

      I don't think they've ever been asked whether they're a country band. They have always been just exactly what they are.

      John

      Delete
    32. Never heard the made-up word "psychobilly" before, but that's a workable label for that song (if labels there must be, which probably there shouldn't). Catchy tune.

      Was Heat a real Reverend?

      Delete
    33. The name of the band is The Reverend Horton Heat. The name of the guitarist is Jim Heath. The name of the bassist is Jimbo Wallace. They've gone through multiple drummers; the current drummer is Jonathan Jeter. To my knowledge, none of the current members or past members is/was a man of the cloth.

      John

      Delete
    34. Ah, I reread the question. Nope, I'm certain that the band isn't named after a real man of the cloth.

      jtb

      Delete
    35. It's always a relief when preachers aren't involved in something.

      From you I've learned that I like psychobilly, and from the late Straight Dope that Jonathan Swift is to blame for the cloth.

      Delete
    36. I spent years visiting the Straight Dope. I still drop by the archive from time to time, and I still have the SD books in paper in my modest library. Great site.

      jtb

      Delete
    37. And it turns out that The Reverend Horton Heat is coming to Seattle May 6, appearing at El Corazon. I have no idea what kind of venue that is, but the boys do put on quite a show. My cardiovascular system would likely not survive the crowd, but you have over a month to prepare for the sermon.

      In preparation, you might consider getting a virtual copy of their 1994 album Liquor in the Front, Poker in the Rear. It rocks.

      John

      Delete
    38. Oh wow, I was a pretty heavy poster on the Straight Dope Message Boards for an easy decade, from the very early 2000s.

      I remember my mom taking me to the grocery store and telling me I could buy a paperback. This was maybe 1989? I found the mass-market PB of the first Straight Dope compilation, and I read that bastard cover-to-cover a dozen times.

      Delete
    39. Without bothering to Google it, why did Cecil Adams quit the Straight Dope anyhow? It was good, it was popular, and then it was gone.

      I would prefer to hear Rev Horton Who on mp3 than in person. Same with any Reverend, really. Much more affordable, and you can easily adjust the volume. In the case of a real reverend, all the way to off.

      Delete
    40. Ed Zotti wrote the column from 1978 until 2018. That's 40 years, and he wasn't a young man when he started. He's a year younger than me, and I'm old. If you were a regular reader, you know how much research went into each column. It's a job for a younger man. And the Chicago Reader changed hands in 2018, so The Straight Dope lost its home. Good time to retire. Ed wrote a book called The Barn House in about 2007, so he stayed pretty busy. I think making it to 67 in that job was quite an accomplishment. And he does have other web-based projects still going. It was time.

      John

      Delete
    41. I'm gonna start calling you Sensei. You keep teaching me stuff I otherwise dunna know.

      Like, I didn't even know Adams was a pseudonym, and didn't know he was old like us.

      Hard to even imagine the amount of work that must've gone into researching The Straight Dope, especially in its pre-internet years.

      I've added Zotti's current work to my regular surf cycle, here and here.

      Thank you, Sensei.

      Delete
    42. It's after four o'clock in the morning. If I had any sensei, I'd have been asleep long ago. As you likely know, I'm as full of shit as the other people who hang out with you, except I don't know anything about movies. We all have passions -- we all have stories to tell. When the discussion centers on things I know little or nothing about, I just run silent. That's a lot of silence. I think I'm not bad at delineating things I'm excited about like The Straight Dope, a few genres of music and a little poetry. The rest is silence, but it was nice of you to use that Japanese word.

      You've got me turning up and turning down
      And turning in and turning 'round
      I'm turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese
      I really think so
      Turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese
      I really think so

      John

      Delete
    43. Some said that song was offensive, as I vaguely remember. I was not one of them.

      You are someone who knows at least a little about a lot more things than I do, and at least a little more than I know about most of the things I know a few things about.

      Delete
    44. Well, in any case, thanks.

      Many said that song was about masturbation. I'm not one of the people who said so, but I'm one of the people who thought so. Actually, that makes it slightly more racist than a literal reading would, but they DID bomb Pearl Harbor. Sure, the United States bombed Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and, on occasion, Vietnam. Oh, and Japan.

      tailgunnerjohn

      Delete
    45. Welcome to MTV, many years ago . . .

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGy9uomagO4

      jtb

      Delete
    46. I'm not getting anything about masturbation. "I'd like a million of ya over myself"? Seems like a stretch.

      Pearl Harbor was at least a military target, unlike Hiroshima.

      Delete
  4. I made the mistake of seeing Nightfall in the theater (The Kabuji 8 in San Francisco) on opening night in 1988 no less. It was the only time the management was standing outside the exit doors offering to return our money.

    I was so disappointed. Nightfall has been one of my favorite stories since high school and tro see it so completely and utterly butchered was heartbreaking.

    Rumor has it that Denis Villeneuve is going to be tackling Rendezvous With Rama, another awesome novel that deserves the big screen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, man -- Rendezvous With Rama done right could be terrific. So could Nightfall, done right. :)

      Delete
    2. Rama would be great by someone who has a purely visual sense, like Michael Mann. I'd even suggest it would make a great "silent" film (no dialogue).

      Delete
    3. Mel Brooks is still alive. Ho could give it a sense of humor...

      Delete
    4. Mel doesn't get out much these days. He's 96 and reportedly pretty healthy, but one by one he's lost his friends, which is, after all, the way of the world. For a decade (until 2020) he would walk to a deli, buy dinner, and take it to Carl Reiner's apartment where the boys would set up TV trays and watch something on TV (it's a little unclear what they watched). Mel is 96 now. Reiner died at 98 in 2020, after spending his last evening watching TV with Mel Brooks.

      When Mark Maron interviewed Mel in about 2018, Brooks was 100% there. After an hour-long interview, Brooks suggested that Maron interview Reiner. Maron asked Brooks whether Carl was as sharp as Mel was. Mel tipped his hand back and forth and said, "Carl is 80 or 90% there; he's a good interview." Maron interviewed Reiner and, of course, Brooks had nailed it. Reiner got a little lost from time to time, but he remembered most of his career.

      I wistfully thought it might be fun to have a tape of the conversations the two men had, night after night at their TV trays -- these two men who changed the course of comedy, who were part of inventing standup and the mid-20th century comedy movie. But in the end, it was just two old men who had lost their wives in the previous decade, howling at the moon as it set gently in the west.

      John

      Delete
    5. 80% there in their 90s, that's pretty good. I'm about 90% there in my 60s. And the only person who really wants to spend time with me is my flatmate Dean...

      I ought to give those Maron shows a listen, which isn't to say I will, but I oughta. I used to listen to his podcast. Maron is a good interviewer, but he thinks of himself as a comedian and he's never funny.

      Delete
    6. I've not heard Maron for a few years, but I heard about half of his first 300 podcasts, and he managed to turn himself into an interviewer. He sounds self-centered, but he's not. He seems to have a genuine curiosity about people. His interview of Obama was terrific, and dozens of other interviews of writers, performers and thinkers have been quite good. I left podcasts when I lost my last computer, and I never went back, but it's almost time. I've not heard Maron for over two years, and there are a couple (not many) other podcasts that are worthwhile as well. I prefer radio to television, so once somebody figures out how to put together a really good podcast, that's where I'll be.

      John

      Delete
    7. Yeah, radio beat TV. Even commercial radio beats commercial TV, and a good podcast beats almost anything on the radio.

      Like you and I do, I've drifted away from podcasts. Movies took that time and energy, but as I now rarely have two hours to spare maybe I'll come back. Maron used to be good, and maybe still is.

      Delete
  5. Don't know how I did this, but I somehow deleted my own comment. What I remember saying is that it would be cool to make a movie out of "The Last Question" from Asimov's "Nine Tomorrows". As it happens, Nine Tomorrows is the first science fiction book I read (maybe age 10). My mom left it laying around and I picked it up. She read detective and science fiction, so I guess preference is both socialized and genetic. (Except that most of her detective was British and most of mine is/was American).

    Probably makes sense. Her father was from Glasgow. Mine was from a little berg in Washington called Lake City in Pierce County.

    Now I'm going to hit the publish button again and see what happens.

    John

    ReplyDelete
  6. Maybe reading tastes are inherited, now that I think about it. My pop was the only person I knew who read science fiction, and I started reading sci-fi in 4th grade.

    I remember asking for sci-fi at the school library, and the best the librarian could come up with was a series of books aimed at little kids, about pigs in space. I didn't want kiddie books, so I ended up at the real library, and boy, that's been a long story.

    I'm not remembering that particular Asimov, sorry. He wrote lots of good stuff, but also lots that I personally couldn't penetrate, specifically THE FOUNDATION trilogy. I tried reading those books almost annually because so many people told me they're great, but I never made it more than halfway through the first book.


    I don't know if others see it, but I get a "delete" link at the bottom of all my comments — some days, and some days I don't see that link — which I assume deletes my comment. Seems like a stupid option in a stupid place, sort of a gotcha waiting to getcha. Sorry it gotcha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't get no stinkin' "delete" link. Maybe it's just offered to writers with questionable prose (and cons).

      jtb

      Delete
    2. I'm not seeing it today either, but I saw it yesterday. Google *really* doesn't give a hoot about this software.

      Delete
  7. I happen to be a fan of the Foundation trilogy. I read it in my 20s, in my 40s, and again in my 60s. I was well-entertained all three times. Late in a long life, Asimov wrote two more books in the series which were terrible. I guess he didn't have a good publisher or a discerning wife. But as a trilogy, yeah, I think it's pretty damn good science fiction.

    John

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Almost everyone agrees with you, so I'm probably wrong, which happens a lot.

      It's been thirty years since I last tried to read it...

      Delete
    2. Doug, I'd give it another ten then try it again. I don't think it's exactly required reading like Dashiell Hammett or Kurt Vonnegut. Unlike those two, it takes itself fairly seriously, which is risky business to pull off. I think Asimov succeeds, but I'll stipulate that it's a reasonably close call.

      John

      Delete
    3. The Googs did it again. At quarter to six in the AM, I just don't have the stamina to retype whatever the hell I said about Foundation. But in summary, don't rush into it.

      jtb

      Delete
    4. As soon as I entered the last comment, my previous comment reappeared. I must have the last ten comments by now. I'm going to have to go for Penn & Teller for the block.

      jtfb

      Delete
    5. Something's fishy with the software behind the site, and it's Google's software so it's Google's fault and it's been happening for years so it's fair to say Google doesn't give a damn.

      Yesterday must've been a bad day for it, too. There are four comments I can't see, presumably posted but never posted.

      Delete
    6. I should know how this business works, but of course I don't. Do you pay Google something to use this software? Or did you? I don't pay Google for searches, but, of course, I pay on the back end, which is to say up the ass. Economic discussion.

      John

      Delete
    7. The Blogger blogging platform is free, supported by ads, same as the search engine. Which makes you and me the product, not the customer.

      I do pay Google to register the website, itsdougholland.com, but that's a separate transaction.

      Delete

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