Saturday, 25. March 2017
Science fiction pomp rant, promptly silenced

I suppose a generally well-readable new novel by a German fantasy great, laid out & backgroundwise couched in some pomp (to align it with the "royal" precursors Star Wars & Dune?), as well as indications by a non-s.f.-consuming friend that I might be reading too many comics, made me wonder whether musical themes of s.f.(-like) movies might not also be worthy of a more critical listen...

So, apology to the virtual mentor of this blog (cf. blog name) up front, I herewith go into rant mode on a random sample of three. ('Tis fun!)

Zimmer's hammering on the new Batman trilogy

When you hear the blare of Mr. Zimmer's fanfare theme for the best detective in the (comic) world, your manly cockles - insofar as you possess some - rise. You think of your hard life, trying to retain some semblance of ethics in surroundings of great egotism, especially by your male colleagues/friends - "see how (much better) I do things, isn't it great?!". Of how you train at night, with just your computer - and perhaps some small flying mammals for company - to keep your mind focussed, as well as open for new scientific aids to a more reasoned & reasonable life! You vow to battle against hate & humans turned by it, and hope some cat-like wisewoman will pick you out of your funk, and carry you away to Paris. Macho factor: 6 out of 10 cockles.

Strauss's super triumphal fanfare at the 'dawn'

Kubrick didn't trust modern composers to give his "good s.f. film" - his challenge to author Clarke at the inception - a truly grand tonal accompaniment. So he opted in Strauss, and his operatic ode to a German superman, dreamt up by radical thinker Nietzsche... Earth & moon roll out an ever louder crescendo - the rising sun gets the heavily beaten timpanies. All of this right at the beginning to break your protective awe sheath and get you wallowing deferentially the rest of the movie!

Goldsmith's introduction of the new warlike Klingons

Hey, Star Wars reanimated the s.f. movie scene with its wild action and special effects, so no wonder the Trekkies at 20th C. Fox decided to add a little more "Wars" to their franchise, when they finally saw a profit margin for a first Trek movie, little later! The pepper in the philosophy soup was this hair-raisingly simple scene introducing the new "fiercer look" Klingons - getting clobbered by their own special methods of diplomacy... Rrrrang-ring-rang!

Zimmer's ode to a Wonderful fem icon

(This one hasn't really started yet. The ranter stares, seeming to have lost his voice. Steadily, as the e-guitar wails on, on the advent of Truth, tears come to his eyes...)

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Tuesday, 21. February 2017
D. blog III of III

Just a short final shot at blog diarism in the New Year...

Two days ago I serendipitously visited the Berlinale - something I rarely do, probably because you have to book tickets in advance - and saw the Philipino documentary entry MOTHERLAND (cf. YT trailer) in the Forum category of the festival. It was a very honest portrait of just one of the overfull maternity wards of a big Manila hospital. It was very well prepped/edited, because the camera gets very close to the women about to give birth, or staying in the ward until the new-born are healthy & constantly gaining weight. I - single man in middle age - learnt a lot, i.a. what K.M.C. stands for!

What I thought really great about taking in the movie, as well as noticing how much I was learning, is that it prods at the potential of what one might pick up when one actually visits a place elsewhere on the planet, that is utterly new, in person. Picking up not only the audiovisual, but all of what a new corner of reality has to offer. If I have the means to go to such places, everyday boredom seems foolish.

Oona in '43 (thumbnail) I also started to read the docutainment "novel" OONA & SALINGER, written by a French Canadian author, about the dalliance between the famous author named in the title, who wrote little but has become cult, and the later wife of Charlie Chaplin, mother of i.a. Geraldine. She was the daughter of famous Irish-American playwright Eugene O' Neill, who apparently didn't treat her particularly well. Oona & J.D. met at around the time she became one of the first-ever It Girls, very young, but hanging around the (in?)famous Stork Club in New York. It promises to be a very interesting read, even though it starts very introspectively on the side of the "novel"'s author. A typically french-language writing affectation?

Interesting reading/seeing/hearing times! Vivat!

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Saturday, 4. February 2017
D. blog II of III

We had some real snow a few days ago in Berlin! I loved it. It didn't stay for long... (Boohoo.)

A few days ago the great British "everyman" actor John Hurt died. He got some fame in s.f. films, but more so in classic roles, e.g. as Caligula in the I, Claudius series, and as the non-hero Winston Smith in 1984. I greatly respected his work, although he seemed to be a bit of an arrogant guy, from interviews (an example, on NPR).

John Hurt as the murderer Benoit in "From the Hip" ('87) Which is why he seemed perfectly cast for the role of an intellectual macho in one of David E. Kelley's - of i.a. Ally McBeal fame - earliest writing jobs: FROM THE HIP, the story of a "stormy" young lawyer, who is so ambitious that his antics land him the defense of an indefensible murder case. One of my favourite films, partly because of the great Hurt performance in it. R.I.P.!

Bookwise, I have just started reading my first ever s.f. book for the umpteenth time, 2001, A SPACE ODYSSEY - one of the most well-known s.f. authors, another Brit, Arthur C. Clarke, wrote it for i.a. the director of the same-named film, the iconic Mr. Kubrick, from his original manuscript. Clarke is only the 2nd-greatest s.f. stylist - his author friend Asimov once indicated - but I like his style tremendously, because it's dry, short and factually "hard". He was a royally acclaimed astronomer & technical guru, who i.a. predicted the prodigious use of geo-stationary satellite networks in future (our present). He wrote many, many short stories and some novellas, his real m├ętier - which may explain his unusually "short" style in the eyes of novel readers.

I like his ending a lot more than Kubrick's somewhat muddled one. (Kubrick & his art department didn't always stick too closely to Clarke's script...) To have read the book helped me see - as an astounded teenager - and love the film the first time I saw it.

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