Star Trek: Renegades

Finally watched Star Trek: Renegades and I loved it!

Pluses: the sheer love of Trek seeps out of the whole film. I loved playing ‘spot-the-actor’ particularly when it was actors who’d been in Trek but not as the same character as they portray in ST:R.

Also, the CGI for the space scenes is absolutely glorious. Kind of gave me shivers imagining if there was a current mainstream Trek TV series on now, what it could look like. Imagine if Netflix or Amazon had the rights to do it…

Minuses: minor and churlish. I found the music intrusive in a couple of scenes and in one scene it drowned out Ed Furlong’s dialogue. And some of the editing seemed a little off but as I’m by no means a pro myself, I can’t be more specific than that. But I must reiterate: these are tiny complaints about what I believe is a great fandom achievement.

When it ended, I had this sense of what I’ve been missing in TV: new Trek. It’s great that we have the films but I want something like Renegades, a modern Trek series which can establish and then build new characters, new scenarios, NEW SPECIES and expand the universe.

I do hope someone out there in the controlling towers of telly land is paying attention.

Head – Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?

Yet another clip from Head and also some groundbreaking visuals for 1968. I particularly love the solarised and coloured sequences where they freeze-frame it on beat with the guitar break. I have tried so many times to rip-off the style of this sequence and never managed it yet: the editing is exquisite.

It’s also a wonderful history of how people danced back then. There are obviously professional dancers heavily featured but some of the party crowd look more casual and are just going for it. I love the bit where Davy shimmys across to the cute girl doing classic ‘60s arm moves / fingerclicks.

Finally, it’s another beautiful Monkees song that I can’t find anything to dislike about. The arrangement, the production, the lyrics ~ it’s perfect. Listen to that bassline from Lance Wakely … the way it interweaves with the electric guitar countermelody / lead break and the chunky, overdriven guitar chords is sublime. And the breaks where it shifts into ¾ but never loses pace: amazing. I always play this song to anyone I hear saying the Monkees didn’t write their songs, particularly as it’s a Tork song and he’s so often overlooked. As far as I can research, Tork plays all the guitar on this track. Can you imagine anyone from a current boyband doing something similar?

I need to watch Head again.

Actually, who are we kidding, I need to watch Head every day.

Superman (1978)

I’m watching the original Superman film with the beautiful Christopher Reeve as Supes.

There’s some truly gorgeous cinematography in the opening chapter. Ma Kent is just saying goodbye to teen Supes in a lovely wide shot:

And Glenn Ford… he is just magical as Pa Kent:

I think Kevin Costner comes close but Ford just pips him for wrinkly, twinkly warmth. Ford only has a short time in the film but he carves it out magnificently, never showy, always gently there.

Now I’m watching the trippy scene where young Kal has generated the Fortress Of Solitude and is getting lessons off his Dad, Marlon Brando. The absence of CGI gives all the imagery its own charm. Aaand…. cue the first shot of adult Supes, Christopher Reeve flying out of the Fortress.

Compared to the more recent film versions of Supes, the original is far less wary of its comics origin, hence Supes’ defiantly primary costume. And, yes, it’s Lex Luthor as ‘great man surrounded by buffoons’ rather than chilling psychopath but Gene Hackman’s Luthor definitely influenced Spacey’s take. I like the comedy like the running gag about Lois’ terrible spelling, it’s a nice light to the shade of the big dramatic set pieces like the runaway copter.

I’ll stop writing now as I want to watch the film properly. But I remember this: Reeve’s Kent is awesomely bumbling and nerdy. The way he changes his body language, posture, gait… he’s brilliant. If you only know Reeve from Superman, please check him out in Deathtrap or Somewhere In Time. He was a wonderful actor who died way too early. I’d love to see him working now, he would have been 63. I’m glad he was on Smallville but I kind of wish he’d got to play Jonathan Kent in one of the films…

Ian McDiarmid

I’ve just watched my fave ep of Inspector Morse. It’s my fave due largely to it featuring my favourite villain, Hugo De Vries, played by the wonderful Ian McDiarmid:

I love this ep because it’s full on madness: set-ups, disguises, mis-direction, all under the control of De Vries. It’s like a classic Hitchcock where the hapless protagonist ends up not knowing who to believe, who to trust but even better because this time round the hero is crusty, mithering Morse. And, hey, if you’ve ever wondered what Danny Boyle was up to twenty-five years ago, this is it: directing Morse. 

The end monologue that De Vries delivers to Morse is perfect and creepy and perfectly creepy. McDiarmid is riveting as the contempt for Morse drips off every syllable. How can you go wrong with lines like, “Why do policemen always go round in pairs, like low comedians?”

If you’re not a Morsey, you’ll probably be more familiar with McDiarmid in this role:

His Palpatine / Darth Sidious / Emperor is another perfect villain. What McDiarmid brings to the character is a deep sense of realism, of true gravitas, no mean feat when dealing with sci-fi. You could, in fact, identify completely with Palpatine and see the whole cycle of films from his point of view. Here’s a great man who only wants to unite a quarrelsome galaxy into a great order, if only the Jedi and rebel scum would just stop interfering.

I love that he first played the Emperor in Return Of The Jedi and then came back, sixteen years later to play a younger version of himself in The Phantom Menace:

McDiarmid was surprised when Lucas approached him 16 years after Return of the Jedi to reprise the role of Palpatine. In an interview, he stated, “When we were doing Return of the Jedi there was a rumor that George Lucas had nine films in his head, and he’d clearly just completed three of them.” McDiarmid added, “Someone said that, ‘Oh, I think what he might do next is go back in time, and show how Vader came to be.’ It never occurred to me in a million years that I would be involved in that, because I thought, ‘oh well, then he’ll get a much younger actor [to play Palpatine].’ That would be obvious.” However, “I was the right age, ironically, for the first prequel when it was made. … So I was in the very strange and rather wonderful paradox of playing myself when young at my own age, having played myself previously when 100-and-I-don’t-know-what.” (Source)

If you only know McDiarmid from Star Wars, I strongly recommend you hunt out his other work, he’s just been in Utopia and 37 Days and he’s done craploads of Shakespeare, obviously, maybe some that’s online.

Hugo deVries: You’re sweating, Morse. It’s most disagreeable.

Fantastic Four

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So, I saw FF last night and I’m still really confused by it. It feels like it was pulling in two different directions. The first was towards the emotional realism of Trank’s awesome Chronicle and the second yer standard Marvel action film.

I re-watched Chronicle again this week before FF and I still love it and the end did make me blub again. It’s probably the most real, most accurate superpowers film we’ll ever get.

So, I love Trank, I don’t come to bury him. But FF wavered between heavy emotional scenes and clobbering time in a strange, lurching, unbalanced way.

And what was with the marginalisation of Sue?? She didn’t even get to fucking go to the other dimension, she just got wafted on when the capsule returned. WHAT?? This is less progressive than the previous films!

And then, as soon as they have the accident, Reed fucks off and we’re told ‘ONE YEAR LATER.’ WAT? One year has passed in which the remaining Okay Three have honed their powers and had great adventures and a load of stuff that might have been fun for us to watch? 

Look, I didn’t hate it. It was okay. But I remain nonplussed and bewildered by the whole thing. We know the central four can act but their characters remained very, very thin. I mean, why was Jamie Bell even there? He is such a great actor but he barely got to do anything. And for all the racists moaning about Torch being played by Jordan – don’t worry, it feels like he’s barely got three lines. And yet, he was beautiful in Chronicle even douchebag-fest That Awkward Moment.

ALSO – there was no Stan Lee cameo. And ALSO ALSO… there wasn’t an extra bit at the end of the credits!

YEP. We sat through till the very end, there was nothing. 

That last absence kind of sealed it for me in that it didn’t really feel like a Marvel film at all and it didn’t feel like the Fantastic Four either.

Weird.

_____________

EDIT!

This just in from roving reporter tomewing :

It’s a Fox Studios film, not a Marvel Studios film, so no Stan Lee. In fact Marvel were so grumpy about it they cancelled the FF comic after 64 years and have removed the characters from most/all promo material!

Ahh, thank you! The whole thing just felt… not right! Like it was completely un-connected with the rest of the MCU films. But they could still have stuck an extra bit at the end, couldn’t they? Or do Marvel own doing that??

Antoine Et Colette

I guess I fell in love with Marie-France Pisier the first time I saw François Truffaut’s Antoine Et Colette.

Originally posted by romantic-nostalgia

Originally posted by francoisrolandtruffaut

See? How could you not? Plus, she had the exoticism of being an older lady… I must have been around 16 when I saw it and she’s 18 there.

Such beauty:

It was only years later, when I watched the whole Doinel Cycle together that I realised she reprised her Colette role in Baisers volés and L’amour en fuite.

Here she is in that last film documenting the (mis)adventures of Truffaut’s alter-ego, Doinel:

Still having to put up with Antoine’s bullshit, still glowingly beautiful.

Obviously, everyone talks about Leaud and Truffaut when they talk about the Doinel films. But consider the way Truffaut managed to get actors the calibre of Pisier to return to characters they first played nearly two decades ago. That continuity, that thread of absolute realism is surely another part of why these films stand the the test of time and why we still find these lovers and their quandaries so engaging all these decades later.

And if you haven’t ever seen any Truffaut, I can think of no finer place to start than the Doinel Cycle:

Or, in English:

The 400 Blows

Truffaut’s debut was the film The 400 Blows. The 1959 film introduces us to the 12-year-old Doinel, who runs away, eventually turning to street life and petty crime in response to neglect at home. Towards the end of the film, he is sent to a reform school, from which he escapes.

Antoine and Colette

The next appearance of Doinel was in the film short Antoine and Colette, which was part of the 1962 omnibus film L’amour à vingt ans. Doinel becomes obsessed by Colette but she only wants to be friends.

Stolen Kisses

In the third installment, Stolen Kisses (1968), a more mature Doinel attempts to return to civilian life after a dishonourable discharge from the military. His romantic forays are rocky with Christine (Claude Jade), and then his boss’s wife (Delphine Seyrig as Fabienne Tabard).

Bed and Board

In 1970, Doinel and Christine have married in Bed and Board, but Doinel suddenly becomes obsessed with a young Japanese woman (Hiroko Berghauer).

Love on the Run

Doinel’s adventures come to a close in 1979’s Love on the Run, where his romantic attentions pass from his ex-wife Christine to disc-seller Sabine Barnerias (Dorothée).

In each film, flashbacks to Doinel’s earlier life consist of footage from the previous films.

(Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoine_Doinel)

Check them out. If you’ve ever loved and lost, been a fool, been fooled or done hideously embarrassing things in front of people you fancy way too much… I think you’ll love these films as much as I do.

Terminator Genisys

JUST GOT BACK FROM SEEING TERMINATOR GENISYS!!

and

WHEEEEEEEEEE!

Such an awesome SF blockbuster! Some of the initial fight scenes made me literally jump out of my seat. I had to close my eyes like a tiny child COS I WAS SCARED!

CGI was cool, properly impressive without being intrusive. All the performances were on point, too.

It’s got low ratings on the review sites but FUCK THEM. If you’re au fait with time travel, causality and the general Terminator franchise, I think you’ll love this and probably prefer it to T3 and Salvation.

Coming out of the cinema, there was a group of blokes in front of us who were trying to work out what the fuck they’d just seen. I’m guessing it’s these peeps giving it low reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I preferred TG to Age Of Ultron, tbh but ymmv of course.

GO SEE IT!

(in IMAX 3D if you can!)

Cargo (2009)

I started watching this totally on the off-chance: it was on Amazon Prime, said it was SF so I thought I’d give it a go!

Turns out, it’s a pretty good SF thriller!

I thought at first it was gonna be a creepy Event Horizon-type thingy but I’m glad it was actually more of a whodunnit.

Top marks for restrained CGI and particularly adept sound design, both of which helped tremendously with the believability of the situation.

The cast were all knob-on and I liked the twists and turns of the story. I had been expecting some kind of dodgy SyFy-channel film but I was impressed with the humanity of all the characters.

So, if you’ve got access to it and you like your SF both hard and maybe scary, give Cargo a go!

 

Gina Carano

 

I first saw Gina Carano in the utterly brilliant Steven Soderbergh film, Haywire(2011).

I knew nothing about her MMA background then, all I knew is that this woman was utterly convincing as a super-badass agent. Unlike so much fighting in spy / action / superhero films, here was a protagonist who moved like a real fighter: the fluidity, the snakelike striking speed. SO FUCKING AWESOME. But it wasn’t just her fighting chops, she easily held her own against Michael Fassbender and has a wonderful, slow-burning cafe scene with Channing Tatum. And the fight scene with Fassbender?? The most disturbing fight scene I’ve seen since the Krav Maga in The Bourne Identity.

Next time was in Fast & Furious 6 in which she played a taciturn but equally physically capable federal agent. Obviously, she wasn’t the lead in this so there’s not enough Carano screen time. Something I hope will be remedied when she takes the lead in the live-action adaptation of Avengelyne

Avengelyne was the most feared warrior in Heaven’s Warhost, having single-handedly broken into Pandemonium, the outer fortress of Hell, to confront the Devil himself. She is a fallen angel, banished from Heaven by God after being tricked into questioning his love for humans. Avengelyne was stripped of all her angelic abilities, other than her great strength and her blood, which, once extracted from her body, could be used as a weapon or a miracle once empowered by quoting verses from the Bible. Although he appeared truly angry, God was trying to prepare Avengelyne for a coming war for which she would need to be strengthened. (Source: Wikipedia)

Oh yeah. She is going to be magnificent!

And you’ll be seeing her in 2016 in Deadpool as Angel Dust….