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Wolves Who Play Chess Wolves Who Play Chess

Norse mythology is better represented in the 2012 Doctor Who audio play Gods and Monsters than it was in the previous play, Black and White. Directly following up on that one, Gods and Monsters brings in Fenric of the great television story Curse of Fenric, a being presumably based on Fenrir. In Gods and Monsters he’s…

First, Last, and Always a Jedi First, Last, and Always a Jedi

I might’ve enjoyed Star Wars: The Last Jedi more if I hadn’t been sick. I’ve had this flu for about a week and it feels like everything’s sort of at a distance. Maybe that’s the reason at the end of the movie I didn’t get that elation I associate with the end of a Star Wars film. I just thought, “That was fine.” There…

All the Sex on the Road to Freedom All the Sex on the Road to Freedom

In the 70s, in the face of oppression, a hero arose, a hero who showed there was no problem that couldn’t be solved with fantastic sex. 1971's Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song is also a testament to what one filmmaker can do with a shoestring budget—written by, produced by, directed by, scored by, and starring Melvin…

The Mongoose versus Kali The Mongoose versus Kali

Guy Rolfe is the only decent guy in India in 1960's The Stranglers of Bombay. Hammer’s take on Imperial Britain’s eradication of the Thuggee cult in the 19th century, the film’s populated otherwise by selfish and lazy British officers and by Indians who are either helpless children or pure evil. Though one can’t argue…

No More Roy Moore No More Roy Moore

I think the most heartening thing about Roy Moore’s defeat in Alabama is that he’s a lot like Trump. His track record of bigotry, stupidity, and corny show-boating make him improbably cartoonish in a way that only Trump could rival. The fact that Trump threw his support behind his fellow Birther lunatic, and convinced…

Death and the Overstimulated Death and the Overstimulated

What better way to die than during a marathon of sex and great food? You might not think so after watching 1973's La Grande Bouffe, a movie about four wealthy men who decide to do just that. It has some qualities of a comedy with its crude humour and absurd juxtapositions but by the halfway point the film settles into…

Couture Ectoplasm Couture Ectoplasm

What does communicating with the dead have to do with being a celebrity’s assistant? Well, Kristen Stewart does both in 2017's Personal Shopper, a movie that never quite gets on its feet, but is a nice enough excuse to watch Kristen Stewart try on clothes and star in some well constructed, tense sequences.

The Friendly Local Ganglord The Friendly Local Ganglord

The myth of the virtuous gangster tends to become popular in times of economic stress. People get to thinking maybe just the person to cut through all the useless rules of a system that failed them is a thief, a forceful, uncompromising man—and gangsters certainly do nothing to disabuse people of the idea. The highest…

Beowulf in the Blender Beowulf in the Blender

The blue TARDIS returns at last in the 2012 Doctor Who audio play Black and White. Several previous Seventh Doctor audios had featured a TARDIS that mysteriously looked like a black police box while other audios featured a white one. This audio play finally gives us an explanation, the explanation being much more…

Mad Orvillatry Mad Orvillatry

It sure didn’t feel like last night’s new Orville, “Mad Idolatry”, was the season finale, probably because it wasn’t intended to be, the original finale having been moved to the beginning of next season. But on the other hand, last night’s episode did reaffirm the show’s essential concept, a vision of an optimistic…

The Illusion of the Obvious The Illusion of the Obvious

It’s amazing how interpretations that seem plainly incontrovertible can later turn out to have been so strange. I wouldn’t have thought there was any doubt that 1955's The Heart (こころ) was about two men whose lives were destroyed by their inability to express their love for each other but apparently this interpretation…

Naruse in Nihongo Naruse in Nihongo

To-day I’ve been working on a presentation on Mikio Naruse for my Japanese language class. I’m in the third semester but my command of the language is just barely adequate for discussing some of the more basic details about the great director—he made movies for about forty years, from the 1930s to the 1960s; he made …

Case Files Case Files

BFI’s Sight & Sound magazine’s annual list of the year’s best movies came out to-day, provoking some surprise with Twin Peaks: The Return in the number two spot. On the one hand, this is a new landmark for television, a medium that’s increasingly being seen as the successor to film. Sight & Sound’s list is considered…

Comedy's Castle Comedy's Castle

Last night and to-day I enjoyed some crisp and pretty visions of the 1950s courtesy of The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel. I watched the first episode last night and the second to-day of this new series created by Amy Sherman Palladino, a really fun fantasy about a well to do housewife who becomes a stream of consciousness…

The Martians Below The Martians Below

Now this is Quatermass at his best. Andre Morell as the spectacularly sidetracked rocket physicist in the 1958 serial Quatermass and the Pit, creator Nigel Kneale this time coming up with a beautifully eerie Sci-Fi account on the origins of human racism. The 1967 Hammer film version surpasses the serial really only in…

Radio Announcements and Uncertain
Dreams Radio Announcements and Uncertain Dreams

In an alternate 1989 where Vladimir Kryuchkov took over the Soviet Union in place of Gorbachev, Hex and Ace find themselves dying, trapped in a fallout shelter with a sweet elderly couple in the 2010 Doctor Who audio play Protect and Survive. A grim and extraordinarily human story for Doctor Who, it uses sci-fi…

Flat but in a Good Way Flat but in a Good Way

Anyone accusing The Orville of being a two dimensional show would be partially right, at least regarding last night’s entertaining new episode, “New Dimensions”. It’s my least favourite episode so far, the fact that I liked it a lot being largely due to the strength of the series as a whole. It’s really built…

Interpreting the Smoke Interpreting the Smoke

Perspective is everything in 1953's Where Chimneys are Seen (煙突の見える場所), even when it comes to the chimneys. In some parts of town, you can see four of the great smokestacks at a nearby factory, from other places it looks like there are only two, or three, or one. They preside over a drama in the town about…

The Returning Piano The Returning Piano

Last night I went to the Balboa Theatre downtown here in San Diego to see Tori Amos perform. It was a very nice concert in a lovely, relatively small venue. I was with my friend, Theresa, who had invited me to join her. We both became big Tori Amos fans in the 90s and Amos’ first five solo albums remain among my…

The World in a Tank The World in a Tank

A small group of soldiers from different nations and cultures work together to survive against Nazis in 1943's Sahara. Some of the soldiers have family or lovers back home but they’re led by Humphrey Bogart who says only about himself that he has no-one back home and he’s therefore less important. Of course that makes…

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