Monday, August 21, 2017

The moon is a night shift worker that sometimes gets restless during the day

The eclipse was perceptible where I live, if not as dramatic as some places. It might have been a little darker than usual for the time of day, but it was hard to tell how much of that was clouds.

Still, it's kind of a neat effect. Some young folks at work had built a viewer, basically a cardboard box with an aperture cut into it and some more paper. So I saw a reflection of the eclipse anyway. As for staring directly at the sun, I'll just go back to doing that tomorrow.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The darkest Bogie

Last night I watched Nicholas Ray's In a Lonely Place. It's the kind of movie that I will probably wind up watching more than once, and writing about at length. (And getting paid for it? Would be nice, but not the main thing.) I'll keep it short here, but it's safe to call it one of the highlights of the first wave of film noir pictures after the war.

It's also a movie from the last leg of Humphrey Bogart's film career. It's a fascinating and revealing use of his talent. He plays a screenwriter wrongfully accused of killing a coat check girl he brought home so she could summarize a book he's supposed to adapt and doesn't want to read. There's some indication he's thought about seducing her as well but her naive personality kills it for him. While it's obvious from the start that he's innocent of this particular crime, there's also the sense that he's, if not a full-blown psychopath, at least a highly troubled and dangerous man. He killed when he was in uniform, and it's never completely gotten out of his system.

As an actor Bogart was full of tics and pauses that worked their way into a kind of charm. The charm isn't gone in this film, but you can never trust it. Even when he's riding high he's only seconds away from being swallowed by his demons. In a Lonely Place is a high wire act for him much as White Heat was for James Cagney.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Playing defense

Probably it will be a while before I see Netflix's The Defenders, so I'm not about to judge its execution. But conceptually it seems to be a waste of the title.

Some background. The Defenders are Marvel's other super team. Well, the other collection of previously existing superheroes, after the Avengers, since both the X-Men and Fantastic Four started with all new characters. But while they seemed to be destined for also-ran status, the Defenders found their own niche as Marvel's quirky, nocturnal team. Credit must go to the writers who handled them in the seventies, notably Steve Englehart and Steve Gerber.

Doctor Strange, not really the Avengers type, has been the team leader of the Defenders for much of their existence. Other members include:
* Valkyrie, an honest-to-Nibelungenlied Valkyrie who oddly enough fights crime in New York
* Daimon Hellstrom, Son of Satan, an occultist with demonic powers and crazy horn hair
* Hellcat, star of a fifties teen romance comic refashioned into a feline themed crimefighter

By contrast the TV series group is made up of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist. Netflix, I guess, wanted to get the full use out of the characters they were already licensed to use. But collectively they would seem to promise a tackle-punch-kick "gritty" action series, while a real Defenders adaptation would go more interesting places.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Situs inversus.  That's what it's called when your vital organs are on the opposite side from the average person.

Today I heard a woman say that one of her relatives had this, although she didn't use the Looney Tunes-y Latin name. At first I thought she meant the cousin was born with vital organs on the outside, a condition that exists and which I think is still pretty much a death sentence. Situs inversus, by comparison, is just a way to keep ER doctors on their toes.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

In fairness...

I think it should be pointed out that Annie isn't just angry, but also articulate. Might be hard for her parents to credit her for that, though.

(Fetching animation by John Korty.)

Friday, August 11, 2017

No eyes in team

Just watched Attack the Block, about eyeless attack dogs from space(?) invading a council estate residential block. It's a good action comedy with the emphasis on "action."

And it's not much more than 90 minutes. Not that brevity is a universal must with movies, but it's almost exactly right for this material. It basically knows that it's a B-movie and moves fast to do its job. If it were a Hollywood movie I imagine it would be a good 40 minutes longer because anything with a theatrical release and a greater-than-Troma budget needs to feel important.

Although we might see Jack Black in the Nick Frost role, so it wouldn't be all bad.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The nature of things

Can't let another summer go by without playing some Beach Boys, and this might be my favorite song of theirs. Neck and neck with "God Only Knows" at least. It has a lot of the Brian Wilson hallmarks, but in a slightly spooky format. The lyrics are sort of like what Gerard Manley Hopkins might come up with if he wrote R&B love songs.