Does Anybody Remember...?
Hey, ALL: The early discussions of "Star Trek", etc., got me to remember a few TV shows I kinda dug during the '70s ("Rockford Files", etc.) and I'm now wondering:
Does Anybody remember a show called "Harry O" which starred David Janssen and Anthony Zerbe? I used to enjoy that P.I. show, and I think it was pretty good, but maybe my memories are colored by time and my inexperience and younger age at the time they aired.
Anyway: Anybody remember "Harry O" -- Harlan, Josh Olson, anyone -- and, if so, what'd ya think of it? Better than most, just so-so, or godawful?
Color me curious in oz,
Harlan being shamelessly exploited...
I couldn't help myself.
Rest up, Brutha Ray
Motel Money Murder Madness
That would be Northampton with only one "h."
WELCOME TO PAUL JARVIS
What a gracious lad you are. It is my hope that you'll find the plethora of sages and punsters hereabouts salutary. They have put up with me for some extended while now, and I am a stale doughnut to try to masticate. I've been to Northhampton--my wife being from Hereford--and it was charming when I knew it. I hope, for you, it remains so even today. Sit down, make yourself at home.
Yr. Pal, Harlan
"We waste precious resources on gossip and faulty logic."
Eyes a' rollin'.
Consider the source.
I want to avoid having too big a discussion of the film out here on the Pavilion, and if you want to discuss further I'd be happy to meet up in the regular forum, but I simply believe that a plot in which Kirk and Spock use their wits to defeat a villain is a smarter and more elegant solution than the brutal beatdown approach. That's all.
Breaking the cycle of violence
Others can speak for the current Star Trek movie. I just want to say that one of (not the only, just one of) the themes you see in "Arena", "Spectre of the Gun", "Day of the Dove" and "Elan of Troyous" is the idea of taking risks or making sacrifices in order to end a cycle of violence. Can anyone imagine in a modern film someone doing what Kirk did in "The Empath", handing the weapon over to the Vians and saying "If it's death that you want, here are four lives for you." The idea was not to destroy your enemy, but to win them over if possible. Even Khan and McGivers aren't treated punitively--they're given a chance to start again.
Star Trek at its best was about imagining a better future wherein the worst of our human habits are curtailed. As Kirk said in "A Taste of Armageddon", we're a killer species, but we are not going to kill, today. That's all it takes, he says: I'm not going to kill, today. What frightens me is that audiences today confronted with the scene where Kirk uncocks his revolver and throws it away would be dissatisfied and annoyed by not seeing Wyatt Earp's brains blasted all over the screen in loving 3-D digital technicolor.
Paul Jarvus, you have a wonderful way about you, you also have the makings of a wonderful writer. Hope you are working in that realm, if not, do. I was shocked to hear about your misstep, but not surprised. In many countries you can get jail for speaking ill of someone. Obviously in the middle east you can get beheaded. Here in America you can not only speak ill of someone, you can defame someone and everybody yawns. Certainly bad manners and Twittercurses are bad for society but one great thing about this country is our level of free speech protection.
We are one of the few countries where you can actually look at the declassified records of the state. In many countries they don't have to release shit. Here it's public property, in keeping with common law ideals of the commons--public space. You can read about our crimes, get appalled and do something or do what most of us do and watch tv or jack off to Oprah or Deepak Chopra.
The thing that pains me is to see so many Americans take their freedoms for granted. We waste precious resources on gossip and faulty logic. Twitter is a wasteland of backstabbing and irate meanness. We do have great access to freedom, but we avoid it like a hornet's nest. Our culture tells us learning ideas is arrogant, elitist. It's what the ivory tower circle jerks too. We have uninformed boobs who vote when Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter say jump. We have a corporate/elite media who avoid major topics like the trial of Rios Montt and the Bangladesh fire. They glabber on about Watergate, but when you look at that minor mess, all you get is a bungling burglary, where one end of power went after another end. Power has the guns to fight back. Compare that bit to Cointelpro or the bombing of Cambodia. Watergate is Paris Hilton's shopping schedule compared to those stories, but we gave reporter's awards for that, while real reporters like IF Stone just went off and died.
Mr. Jarvus, don't thank the government for our freedoms, thank activism for centuries. Governments take away freedom, they do not bestow it. Any freedom we have now some unnamed person died or was hounded for us. We give medals to murdering soldiers, not to them. Without the activist there is no country. Ours and yours are demonized. Why? Crucifixion always follows truth tellers.
Obama is in a long line of leaders who hates both basic democratic principles and basic moral ones. The AP do good work, so they are went after. So does Wikileaks. England is colluding with us to butt rape Julian Assange. Bradley Manning is the real victim, as are Assata Shakur and Mumia Abu Jamal.
To be fair we need to thank Wilhelm Humboldt, a German, for anarchism. Left libertarianism starts with this gent:
Think freely Jarvus and be easy on Tim Raven. He has a heart.
Speaking of anarchists. The Reader's Digest did a poll of the 100 most trusted Americans and Noam Chomsky came in at number twenty! I have a smile from ear to ear. Tom Hanks is number one. Chomsky beat out Oprah, Obama, Jon Stewart, almost beat Michelle Obama, at number 19.
Reader's Digest is about as heartland as you get. How in fucks name do they even know Chomsky? I am utterly shocked.
All you folks who diss my Noamie, the people like him. Yessssss, I'm gonna gloat.
First of all thank you for that very entertaining response, Mr Ellison. The IMAX format can be very effective. While I've never seen a theatrical release in IMAX I have seen any number of presentations in the museums hereabouts. The secret is to sit as high up and as far back as possible.
The problem with 3D is that the processing involved tends to wash out the color of the film and causes the image to seem dim. And of course it allows the theaters to charge extra for the privilege. The most effective use of 3D I've seen was in Werner Herzog's recent film, CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS, where he used it to highlight the contours of prehistoric art in Chauvet cave. However after watching the film in 2D I can't say anything was really lost.
The Deep Purple concert level sound in most theaters these days is a response to people refusing to shut the fuck up during films. The last time I yelled at somebody in a theater to shut up they responded by saying "Well I bought a ticket." Nearest I can parse this out is that they purchased a ticket so they can do whatever they want in the movie. Fortunately enough people complained that the manager eventually came in and asked them to leave. Of course by that time the whole experience had been spoiled. For this I support the death penalty.
What has saved the movie going experience for me is the presence of the AFI Silver Theater just up the road here in Silver Spring, a fabulously restored old Art Deco movie house. They show first run, non-blockbuster, Art House movies and also screen old classic films. They're currently doing a Howard Hawks restrospective. It's been wonderful for me to see for the first time many of these old films projected in an actual theater. And the place is beautiful.
Bigger, badder and louder do not a movie make, but as I've always insisted to the "artistes", sometimes what you want is popcorn and bubblegum.
Trek -- which I have not yet seen -- has made the transition from at-times quiet and intellectual consideration, to a knock-em, sock-em adventure. So be it. Some of the episodes of the original series were nothing but adventures and still quite a good time was had by all. Let's not even mention season 3 as evidence that all episodes were not golden.
So, I will see it in time. If you want quiet, thoughtful treatises there has been a resurgence in intelligent, low budget and hence SFX-reduced SF entertainment in the marketplace. Some are mentioned below, but I'd add MOON, MELANCHOLIA and the American remake of SOLARIS to the list.
As Harlan reminds us, we're not the chosen demographic any more. Once upon a time, perhaps, but not now.
So be it. So I'll go find myself some things which appeal to me and check in every once in a while to see how the mass markets are doing. Star Trek has become a $190 extravaganza? Wow, good luck with that. You don't need my $15, but you'll probably get them as collateral.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
I am convinced that all Hollywood hype to the side, that 3D is a tool best used if the picture's thematics make it an addition to the storytelling, not just a clever tool to make money from the marketplace. Good examples: Scorsese's HUGO and the recent animated A CHRISTMAS CAROL. The camerawork and the production added to the texture of the films immensely, and when watching them in 2D you can still experience a degree of what the films must have been like in three dimensions.
But, as often happens in film production, it's been identified as a boxoffice draw. Usefulness to the storyline notwithstanding, if it's big and goes bang, it gets 3D treatment.
I don't think it will have the impact of sound, or color. t will not become the standard of filmmaking, just an option if the story warrants it. And part of the warranty is in the visuals, meaning it's unlikely we'll see a 3D version of comedies or dramas become a standard. Just my three cent theory.
What I'll be watching instead of Star Trek
Thank you, Mr. Castro. I didn't know the existence of this very intriguing Wake in Fright, and I'll have to lay my hand on a DVD...
I'm also tired of all these blockbusters with scripts angled towards action over characterization.
The only hollywood movie I'm curious about is Eduardo Cuaron's Gravity. Not because of its theme nor his leading man, but because his Children of men was one of the greatest movies of the last decade...
John E. Williams: "and I urged him to compare how the original Kirk and Spock used guile and wit to defeat their villain, as opposed to the beating-the-shit-out-of ACTION! of the new pair"
Don't forget what Spock did at one point.
Not to defend the film, but all violence did have motivation behind it and was a major aspect of the theme.
Josh's Irwin Allen comparison is off. Abrams puts spectacle on top of things, while following a definite character-related story. In fact, more so than Spielberg at times, if you look at the Indiana Jones films.
We don't have IMAX here, I saw it in regular 3D (and with regular sound) -- all good. It should be noted that Abrams and his team declined to do the previous film in 3D and only agreed on this one under the condition that they could make and release their regular (anamorphic) 2D movie and someone would to a good post-conversion.
They had a length issue and ended up with a 132 minute film that feels a bit too condensed. I would have liked to see them dwell on a few things.
Radiator Heaven: Film Critic Hall of Fame: Harlan Ellison
Geek Book Review: Web of the City
Tipping My Fedora: Memos from Purgatory
803 words - or THE COST WAS HIGH - REDUX
Mothra help me, but I am all in favor of any cultural beating or sonic assault to Uncle Harlan's ancient frame that induces 800 words so fine as that review.
200 million well spent.
What I've been watching instead of STAR TREK
It has long been my belief that every GOOD movie is in 3-D, if only in our heads, and any good movie that happens to use the actual technology will make you forget that it's in 3-D, within about twenty minutes.
As for me, a die-hard (excuse me) fan of action movies, or rather adventure movies, I have long since fallen into a deep state of dismay over what action movies have become; and though I'm drawn to the new Star Trek film, I am also deeply afraid of it. This DESPITE the fact that JJ Abrams has impressed me deeply a few times.
These days, I *fear* blockbusters, because blockbusters now actively eschew logic, feeling, or any pause for the characters to breathe. Shaki-cam action sequences, movies that have no setting other than loud, make me sigh loudly as I remember the wonders that used to be.
There's a reason why I watch so many Asian films nowadays; that part of the world is still producing stories that linger, that give me something to think about, that leave me with emotions to feel, that make me feel I've been changed.
That and older films.
So here's a rec.
Last week's absolutely riveting lost masterpiece on Netflix Disk: WAKE IN FRIGHT (1971).
Guys, I use the word masterpiece deliberately.
A bit of history: this film, released in Australia in 1971, shocked the hell out of audiences at the time and after receiving plaudits at the Cannes Film Festival, fell into obscurity. It was considered a genuinely lost film until a single copy was discovered, itself in line to be destroyed. We came very close to no copies remaining, except for a few deteriorating VHS tapes.
That would have been a tragedy, because this movie deserves to be ranked with, oh, DELIVERANCE and STRAW DOGS, and chances are that you will recognize you are in for sheer genius with the very first shot, a scene of desert desolation. A full 360 degree pan reveals a plain devoid of surface features, but for the railroad tracks that bisect it and two squat and squalid buildings, a one-room schoolhouse and a shabby little hotel. The restoration is what we have now, and the film looks sparkling-new, every line crisp, every landscape stark and horrifying. God help anybody stranded in this location.
Meet John (Gary Bond), a schoolteacher working off his government bond, who we understand at once must live in the school year in hell. We know that for as long as he has been here his life has been a trudge across the tracks from one sweltering building to another, across the tracks that are a constant cruel reminder of the escape he yearns for. It is now Christmas, however, and he is set to take a train to the nearest town of any size, and from there a flight, to see his girlfriend in Sydney. She is always seen in flashback, a inviting figure emerging from blue water that looks like nirvana to a man who has spent so much time in the Outback with nothing but beer and dirt for company.
As John reaches the small town where he is to wait for his flight, John’s resentments over his situation boil over. He considers himself better than the men he encounters, who have nothing to do with their time but drink, carouse, gamble, and hell-raise. It’s revealed that one point that he even considers himself too big for Australia; he would prefer to escape to some distant civilization, like England, though those plans are nebulous. The problem, of course, is that in this land one beer naturally leads to another; it is an act of supreme unfriendliness to refuse one, even for a man barely recovered from the previous night’s bender. He will never make that plane. Instead -- guided in large part by an unwashed alcoholic M.D played by Donald Pleasence -- he will descend into drunkenness, savagery, and violence. The civilized man is exactly what he beholds, no more, no less. The question is not whether he’s better than it, but whether he’ll survive it…and how low he’ll sink before that question is decided.
One strong caveat: at one point John joins his new friends -- a bunch of cackling louts -- on a senseless kangaroo slaughter. These scenes are absolutely real. The movie did not stage them for the camera, but instead documented an existing hunt and later seamlessly edited the cast into the action. (There’s a disclaimer to this effect, establishing that the movie was made with the cooperation of wildlife authorities.) What you see on screen is absolute sadism and contempt for life, documented with sickening fidelity as inebriated men hoot and holler while perforating animals from their jeep. One of the major obstacles the film faced during its commercial release was the effect the spectacle had on stunned audiences. I understand this. It is ugly, it is savage, it is evil, and to simply reference such a thing without actually depicting it would have been a disservice to the subject. This is the civilized man discovering who he is. This, unfortunately, is us.
WAKE IN FRIGHT is a great film.
I am hoping for one or two memorable experiences among the blockbusters of the summer, but I note that I have not yet stirred myself to see STAR TREK or IRON MAN III, something that once would have astonished me.
Life Imitates Art
As they read Harlan's description of his 3-D IMAX "Experience," did anyone besides me think of Jeffty, just before the end of his story, staring at the bank of blaring televisions?
A week of your life
If you have a week with nothing to do, you would probably get a kick out of my friend Jon Knutson's Flickr photostream:
3D or not 3D
I really fail to comprehend why 3D is so eagerly pushed. I don't see how it improves things at all.
I mean, a crappy movie in 3D is still crappy, right (not referring to STID, just in general) ?
I look at it this way. With visual media, anything that's a deviation from reality is something that makes your brain work a bit for it. The vision is up there for you, you don't have to make it up in your head. As a comparison, with radio, you're the set designer, you handle all the props, you control continuity between scenes, everything. Your brain is really engaged when it comes to radio.
Upping the tech to the level of black-and-white TV, your brain still gets involved. We watch the b/w images moving across the screen, but our brain (well, mine, anyway) is busy assigning the proper colors. Once again, you're involved, and this draws your imagination into the world you see on the screen.
With color images, you have to do the least amount of work. But your brain is still processing, imagining the space between, in, and around objects; you get a sensation of heat or cold based on what the weather does, and doing these brings your mind once again into the world on the screen.
I don't see 3D really being any sort of improvement to the movie experience (as Harlan's recounting suggests, it's not much of one). And, since any 3D effect is a simulation, it's going to be … "weird", I guess I'd say … to watch. I remember the 3D movies from the 50s I watched growing up in the 60s and 70s, and those 3D glasses worked as such, but the odd colored lenses just created a lot of eyestrain (and me wearing glasses just added another level of inconvenience).
So, budgets given what they are and my other feelings on the matter, I'll just wait until Star Trek gets round to my local 2nd run house. It's cheap ($4 to get in … just like 1980!), Portland's Academy Theater has a heritage that reaches back to the Golden Age of Hollywood stars, I'm supporting a local business, and I'll get to watch the movie in mind-engaging 2D. It's a win all around.
Besides, I already LIVE in a 3D world. If I want to see 3D, I don't have to go to the movies to see that. I just … well, look around.
Due to budgetary constraints, I stopped going the movies for the past few years. My last Big Budget Feature Film visit was in 2011, with the 3-D version of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II" (just to round things out, having seen Part I in 2010). Both "Potter" viewings took place at the same Universal City location that Harlan went to, which is a CityWalk wonderland of enormous expense; the environment of the 'Walk makes you feel as if you've cheated yourself if you don't stop off somewhere for dinner and a drink, pay for the good parking lot, and maybe buy a hat or t-shirt to round out the experiences.
So from 2011, I had a long, dry spell which was just recently broken by "42"--a film in regular 2-D, with no dazzling CGI being thrown around, no mythical characters bouncing across the screen, no booming audio every five seconds from explosions, no complicated plot twists... critics called the movie boring, but for me it truly came as a relief to the senses and a return to regular storytelling, with all its flaws and advantages, where the basic question is once again, "Did it work?"
So, yes, I will be going to see the latest "Star Trek." On May 17th, I walked along Highland Avenue and passed along the line of patrons waiting for the film; the line stretched from the middle of Hollywood Boulevard, southward down Highland Avenue and over to Hollywood High, with a break in the line as the human chain extended across the side street and around the corner, to bend and continue down that block for who knows how far and with who knows how many people adding on to it. There is a bit of a lemming in all of us, damn it.
To Bowl Goldly
Back in the day, fanfic featuring first Kirk and then Spock beating relentlessly on the villain with berserk sadism would be considered at the very least a violation of canon, and at most the work of an angry psychopath. These days, I have been assured, it is work that meets the modern audience's slavering need for ACTION! Well, so be it, I guess.
I had an interesting discussion about the film with my 13 year-old nephew. He knows WRATH OF KHAN quite well, and I urged him to compare how the original Kirk and Spock used guile and wit to defeat their villain, as opposed to the beating-the-shit-out-of ACTION! of the new pair. He seemed to get it, and was bothered by it. So maybe there's hope.
I'm at a point where the action and storytelling in these films is so fast and frenetic that my eye can barely follow it, so I have no intention of making things worse with that 3D jazz.
Your American Freedoms
I am a proud Englishman of sixty-one years. We English lead comfortable lives. Civilized, if perhaps a little quiet, we potter along at our own speed. There aren't many problems in life that can't be solved with a refreshing cup of tea.
Often I have looked upon the land of our American cousins with amazement. It is land of such extremes! There are tornadoes there that could blow your house down. The worst storm we've had in my village knocked a few slates off the roof and spooked my spaniel.
And those extraordinary variations of landscape! Those tall mountains! Every day of my life I have climbed one of England's many rolling hills. When I reach the summit after a hardy ascent I can literally see into my neighbor's garden, it's amazing. If I woke up one morning to find Mount Whitney had landed at the bottom of my garden and I climbed to the top I fancy I could see for quite a distance, perhaps even wave to Mrs Wesley in the post office.
I had always viewed America's devotion to the concept of 'Freedom of Speech' as a little strange. Nice idea chaps but one can hardly have a civilized society if we let people say anything they like. It would lead to anarchy. Or at the very least lead to a tangible downward spiral. No, it was good sense to take a more balanced approach, have only civilized words, the better to preserve our traditions.
However last month as I was attempting to get to grips with a newfangled social communications contraption called 'Twitter', I landed myself in a right pickle. I visited a page belonging to a person campaigning for gay marriage and posted a few harmless comments. You know, something about 'liberal decadence' and how 'the lady-garden must only be invaded by the trouser-snake'. You know, well-judged statements that all right-thinking people would surely agree with. Well, I must tell you that the next morning I was arrested under the 'Malicious Communications Act' and sentenced to 50 hours community service painting the local community center.
As I pointlessly labored to make that architectural blight on our town more palatable by painting it a lurid color fittingly termed 'Lemon Punch', I began to realize that you Americans are right about 'Freedom of Speech' after all. We must have the right to say the unsayable because it seems today that most of the things I like to say have become unsayable.
Having found I believe a kindred spirit in Mr Ellison (I am also concerned about the effect of air pollution on my local church's gargoyles), I have been reading these pages over the last week or so and found a very heated exchange between Mr Church and Mr Raven on the matter of copyright. As I examined the archives of this 'discussion board', I observed that Mr Church often writes about challenging new ideas that are then met with quite ferocious condemnation from Mr Raven.
It seems to me a great defense of Mr Church's libertarian position that had Mr Raven been an Englishman like me he would surely have been sent to prison for his statement of the 15th May, where he proposed a hypothetical situation in which he would punish breach of copyright by violating and then decapitating Mr Church.
What an incredible country it is where Mr Raven can still walk the streets a free man. I hope my small contribution to this 'Pavilion' will make you realize anew how valuable your freedoms are.
God Bless America!
I caught IRON MAN THREE in 3D and only one scene actually impressed me, presented this way -- and it involved computer generated imagery.
THE LORAX, however, worked better for me, due to the inherent "complete CGI."
While I enjoyed Trek, I can't argue with a word our host has said. The movie itself is dumb fun... if you enjoyed the last one, you'll enjoy this. It reminded me of the kind of adventures one would come up with when one was a 12 year old boy playing with Star Trek action figures. You wouldn't pretend Kirk and Spock were grappling with the ethical challenges presented by the Prime Directive - you'd have them beat the shit out of a Gorn. The movie satisfies on that level, and while watching it, it occurred to me that for all the Spielberg comparisons people throw at JJ Abrams, he's really our generation's Irwin Allen.
I leave it to you to decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing...
Tip o' the day. Movie theaters can have peak sound levels up to 100db. Action movies are the worst. Even if I go to a foreign movie that is all dialog the trailers are cranked up. I always take ear protection. I have found Hearos Hi Fidelity earplugs work the best as they provide flat attenuation unlike the cheap ones at the drug store - about 12 bucks on Amazon. Between iPods, video games, concerts and movies today's kids are going to have serious hearing loss.
Harlan's recent 3-D & Imax experience
HARLAN: Can't believe you and Susan actually tried out not only 3-D, but Imax! Like you, the "glamour" of 3-D wore off for me waaay back when, as a kid. But the extra noisy, SUPER-SIZED offerings of Imax was too much to contemplate trying out after finding that "regular" offerings in "regular" cinemas these days literally turn the theater into a scene from "Tiny Toons" (can't remember which episode), in which all the characters are hanging onto their seats when sound comes on.
When I go to the actual cinema (a rare even these days), I go to the "gold class" type theaters, and I STILL sit in the very last row of every theater, because even back there the sound can be too much for my ears (especially if the rare cinema outing involves a film that has "action" of the sort you described).
Glad to learn you and Susan survived.
Cheers from oz,
Post a New Message or see previous ones in the Comments ArchiveReturn to the Harlan Ellison Home Page