Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets
Luc Besson had a lot of fun bringing one of his favorite childhood comics to the big screen, and it show. This is a fun film. Awesome special effects, visually stunning, and gloriously true to the pulp origins of the original comic. The weak of part of the film is the two lead characters, who gave it a good try, but just didn’t nail the chemistry needed. Still worth the popcorn and rental, especially if you have a nice big screen with a good sound system.
Smokey and the Bandit
A B-Movie classic. The writer and director, Hal Needham, freely, and proudly, admits that this was a low budget film that was intended for regional (i.e. Southern) appeal. It picked up some box office appeal, when Needham’s friend Burt Reynolds read the script and said that he wanted to play the Bandit. It picked up some more star power with Jackie Gleason and Sally Field. Not leaving Jerry Reed out, but he was better known for his musical career than his acting. The film was made for just over $4 million and was the second highest grossing film of 1977. This film is an American Classic. If you haven’t seen it, don’t wait. Fire up the popcorn and enjoy a film that Billy Bob Thorton claims is considered more of a documentary in the South.
A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny
Going back to a 2024 pick. A classic by the late Grandmaster Roger Zelazny. It is set in the month of October, which each day being a chapter. The story is told by Snuff, a watchdog, who like his companion Jack, is the owner of several Curses. One of Jack’s involves a large knife. Whenever there is a full moon on October 31, a group of people and their animal companions gather together and work toward a ritual on the night of the 31st. They are trying to either open or keep closed, a gateway for the Elder Gods (think Lovecraft). So far, the Closers have always won. Up until the end, it’s hard to tell who is an Opener and who is a closer, or even who is in the game. Others who are in the area with Snuff and Jack include: a vampire called “The Count” and his bat; a mad Russian monk and his snake, a broom flying witch named Crazy Jill and her black cat, the Great Dective and his sidekick; and Larry Talbot and his furry alter ego. Zelazny had a lot of fun with this book. If you can pick up a copy with the Gahn Wilson illustrations, you are in for a bonus treat.
The Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelazny
The second book in the Amber series. Two sets of five books, plus a fist full of short stories and an amazing amount of fan fiction. Prince Corwin has escaped the Dungeon his brother Eric threw him, with the help of the family madman Dworkin. Revenge, and the throne, are what he is after. First he has to go to Avalon, and of course is sidetracked by Lorraine (name of the land and the woman). He does manage to finally get to Avalon and get what he wanted there. Not without complications, including his extremely deadly brother Benedict, another family member named Dara, and the ominous Black Road. This series are amazingly well written, and this volume includes some insight from a guard in the Castle Amber dungeon named Roger.
A good solid SciFi film that combines a psychologic thriller with a love story, and throws in a locked box mystery for flavor. The setting is a colony ship taking 5000 colonists to another planet. Since the trip is 120 years long, so everybody, including the crew is in cyro-stasis. The fun starts when the ship takes some damage the automated systems cannot handle. One of the first glitches is waking a passenger up 90 years early. Yup, for the first chunk of the movie, it’s all Chris Pratt, and an android bartender. He spends a year trying to figure out what’s going on, and slowing losing it from the isolation. Add in Jennifer Lawrence’s character for reasons I’m not going to give away, and now you have the romance part. When things go start really wrong, from the accumulating damage over the previous two years, toss in a crew member waking up. He doesn’t live long, damage from multiple failures in his stasis pod, but it gives the passengers the access they need to save the ship, and the 5000 other passengers, literally at the last possible moment. It’s not great, but solidly acted and well crafted.
Probably the best DC live action movie since the latest Batman trilogy. A good action movie. Personally, I thought all the Jared Leto/Joker hype was seriously over rated after watching this film. Cesar Romero could have done it better, given the freedom of a R rating. Much better performances were given by Margot Robbie and Viola Davis. Will Smith was good playing Will Smith, which was more convincing than Leto’s Joker. Still it was worth the rental and the popcorn.
For those of you coming in late to the party, Earth Day” is on Lenin’s Birthday. Not a coincidence, given that the “founder” of Earth Day was much more a “Watermelon” than an actual environmentalist. Watermelon: Thin layer of green of the outside, red to the core.
“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” — George Wald, Harvard Biologist
“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” — Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
“By… some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.” — Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” — Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day
“Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.” — Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University
“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….” — Life Magazine, January 1970
“At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.” — Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
“Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” — Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
Ok, Ehrlich was sorta right on this, if you restrict his predictions to modern Communist China, where they are showing the typical communist/socialist contempt for the environment.
“By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’” — Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
Now we get to my personal favorite, although probably not Al Gore‘s… “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” he declared. “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.” — Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
Honestly, a better movie than I expected. Ben Affleck played the poker faced autistic genius who does forensic accounting for very bad people for very large amounts of money. In some ways, this movie has a similar theme to Revenge of the Nerds, i.e. don’t piss off the really smart people. Except in this case, messing with the smart kid with the nerd glasses can get you killed. Raised by his father (Army Intelligence spook) not to be a victim, the Accountant is deadly dangerous, and will feel no remorse as he shoots you through the head. The movie actually tells a good story, in which people are not what they appear to be on the surface, but face it, it’s the fight scenes that you are going to rewatch it for. Fast, in close fighting and CQB Gun Fu. Plus some nice long range Barrett Fu. One of the bad guys pulls a knife, the Accountant pulls out his study leather belt. I’ve been practicing martial arts for a long time, trust me, the guy with the knife was deep trouble. Even Anna Kendrick, who also plays an accountant (she wanted to study art, but her dad said that wouldn’t pay the mortgage), gets some good hits in, including bashing a bad guy’s arm with toilet lid. Remember kids, a true warrior uses the weapons at hand (bonus nerd points for identifying the Chuck Norris movie that is from). Kendrick’s character isn’t a dark accountant, she’s just a regular nerd accountant doing cost accounting. I’ve also taken some graduate accounting courses, so if you are going to do accounting, cost accounting is the most fun. Trust me on this one. Trust me on The Accountant too. Fire up the popcorn and enjoy.
“Some folks ask me what the transition was like from NASCAR reporter to political reporter. It’s easy. In one, you try to explain to your readers the significance of grown-ups getting paid exorbitant amounts of money to around in circles indefinitely, always turning left. In the other, you get to interview racecar drivers.”