Sunday, October 30, 2022

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Movie Reviews: Death Note

Death Note
directed by Adam Wingard

Two recurring messages in many Western speculative fiction and horror stories are that humans are not meant to know certain things or to have certain powers. 

Some argue that these themes are baked in to Western philosophy and culture because of the Biblical story of Adam and Eve and their breaking of God's ban of eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. 

I don't want to get too much into those arguments. I only bring them up because they are important to this movie's story. Although this movie's story originated in a non-Western environment (it's an adaptation of a Japanese manga) , it still features the questions I mentioned above. 

Because I am unfamiliar with the original manga, it's not always clear watching this film what was taken from the original story and what was added/changed/deleted by the American director and producers. I have a sneaking suspicion that the interpretation wasn't very good. 

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Movie Reviews: The Hoodlum

The Hoodlum
directed by Max Nosseck

This 1951 crime film noir starred Lawrence Tierneywho as previously discussed, had a reputation for anti-social behavior, as an unrepentant thug. I don't think the role was difficult. This movie was only an hour long. It lacked character development. 

But I didn't miss character growth. This movie was a response to the age old question of whether we are more defined by nature or nurture. Are we naturally bad or good, or are we influenced by our surroundings, experiences, peers, relatives, and mentors. 

We still don't know how much of each is involved in our makeup. If people do bad things because of biology are they responsible. Or if it's mostly the environment (bad parenting, lack of wealth, incorrect ideologies or other belief systems) must the state then correct that bad environment?

The Shoebill Is A Strange Bird

These birds are actually not threatening to humans but they certainly look as if they would like to be. What a majestic intimidating looking bird. I had never heard of them before. Learn something new every day. It's good for you.

Was The Moon Formed In A Day?

What if the Moon was created in a day? A new NASA/Durham University simulation provides an argument that such an event was possible.

Billions of years ago, a version of our Earth that looks very different than the one we live on today was hit by an object about the size of Mars, called Theia – and out of that collision the Moon was formed. How exactly that formation occurred is a scientific puzzle researchers have studied for decades, without a conclusive answer.

Most theories claim the Moon formed out of the debris of this collision, coalescing in orbit over months or years. A new simulation puts forth a different theory – the Moon may have formed immediately, in a matter of hours, when material from the Earth and Theia was launched directly into orbit after the impact.

Movie Reviews: Day Shift

Day Shift
directed by J.J. Perry

There are more than a few books that feature mercenary minded heroes who make their living by hunting, trapping, and killing supernatural creatures. The authors A. Lee Martinez, Mike Carey, and Larry Correia are the first people to come to mind but if I gave it some thought I know could think of many more. 

There have also been movies with such themes. Some have worked. Some have not. I think It's difficult to mix horror, action, comedy and a world weary cynical point of view in which destroying the supernatural is just another day at the office. Shaun of the Dead and The Dead Don't Die were two such films that blended humor and real fear successfully.

I think such stories tend to work better as novels than as movies. Day Shift's problem was that it underplayed the horror in favor of the humor even though the humor was at best hit or miss. Mostly miss actually.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Movie Reviews: The Initiation Of Sarah

The Initiation of Sarah
directed by Robert Day

This 1978 made for television movie was similar to the 1976 movie Carrie, based on the Stephen King novel. It's so close that I wonder why the director and producers even bothered but money talks. 

There were a number of talented actors/actresses in this movie, including multiple Academy Award and Emmy winners and then young actors who would go on to roles in iconic films or shows such as Dallas, Airplane, and Mad Men. I don't remember seeing this film but I do remember some of the commercials.

Because this film was made for television the depictions of violence and sex were toned down (although the director apparently couldn't resist a few cleavage and wet t-shirt shots which were risque for the times) while the special effects were meh.

Like Carrie, the movie's theme revolves around the bullying that women and girls inflict upon each other and how a young shy girl with supernatural powers responds. 

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Movie Reviews: Avenging Force

Avenging Force
directed by Sam Firstenberg
I saw this movie eons ago shortly after it was released, when dinosaurs walked the earth. I had fond memories of it. I recently re-watched this film.

The Golan-Globus/Cannon Group produced Avenging Force. Golan-Globus/Cannon Group is an Israeli-American film production group/studio notable for making many profitable but derivative low budget action movies. 

The company either launched or more often boosted the careers of such then novice actors as Jean-Claude Van Damme and Michael Dudikoff and veterans such as Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson. 

The small budgets weren't necessarily evidenced in the special effects or settings but were usually apparent in the writing and supporting actor quality. 

People didn't watch a Golan-Globus movie for the writing or lush period settings or top line actors. People watched to see good guys and bad guys throw down. Golan and Globus produced and financed simple movies for people who wanted simple storylines. 

Movie Reviews: Destination Murder

Destination Murder
directed by Edward Cahn

This is a 1950 crime movie with some noir elements. The film has underdeveloped plotting and writing though the acting isn't bad. Like many movies from back then it has an intelligent motivated female lead who is neither stupid nor only an appendage to men. 

The heroine gets in over her head and makes some mistakes but she's no dummy. And that's more that can be said for some of the gangsters and molls she encounters.

Laura Mansfield (Joyce MacKenzie) is an attractive coed who is home for spring break. One night as Laura and her father Arthur Mansfield (Franklyn Farnum) relax the doorbell rings. Arthur goes to answer it and is immediately shot dead by the taxi driver/moonlighting hitman Jackie Wales (Stanley Clements-former Bowery Boys star and former husband of noir queen Gloria Grahame).

Apparently this possibility was what my older male relatives had in mind when they insisted that I be the one to answer the door at family gatherings though several female relatives could have been closer to the door. Snicker.