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Posts Tagged ‘Sci-Fi’

She Blinded Me With Science (Fiction)!

June 27, 2008 Leave a comment

That may very well be one of my favorite blog titles I’ve ever typed. Pardon me whilst I pat myself on the back for that.

The AFI (The American Film Institute) released a list of lists that list (what?) the top ten greatest films in a selection of genres; Animation, Romantic Comedy, Western, etc. Included are lists of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

The Science Fiction list is actually pretty decent, which is surprising when you look over the Fantasy list (Groundhog Day? Big? the internet initialism “WTF” came to mind). Granted, I love each and every film mentioned on both lists, but the fantasy one is just… Well, John Scalzi says it best over at the Sci-Fi Scanner:

The fantasy Top 10 list is a tremendous mess — enough so that I don’t want to touch it right now, except to note that you’ll have to imagine me throwing up my hands and rolling my eyes

Scalzi went on to start a list of Top Ten Science Fiction Films released after 1991. The catch: He listed only five and wants us lowly internet warriors to fill in the rest with our own choices.

His starter five:

The Matrix (1999): Cast your brain back before The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, and before everyone and his brother imitated and/or parodied “bullet time” and you’ll remember how cool this film used to be — the right balance of action, pop philosophy, techno-angst and special effects. Remember how everyone wanted an ankle length black leather duster and inscrutable shades to hide behind? It was all very cool, once. It will be cool again, trust me.

Ghost in the Shell (1995): Hey, who are those guys over there in the corner? Why it’s the Wachowski brothers, cribbing off Ghost in the Shell director Mamoru Oshii’s homework! The Wachowskis borrowed from this film sort of the same way George Lucas borrowed from The Hidden Fortress, and good for them, since this film juggles intense action and philosophical silences in really interesting ways. The fact that Akira doesn’t show up on the AFI Top 10 list is a clear indication that someone there hasn’t figured out what a monumental influence anime has on the modern science fiction aesthetic; we’re correcting that error here.

The Incredibles (2004): The best superhero film ever made — yes, even better than the 1978 Superman, or the 1989 Batman or even Spider-Man 2 (which, frankly, is overrated). Why is it good? Because first it parodies the superhero genre to devastating effect, then it becomes a first-rate superhero film, and then it goes beyond the superhero genre altogether and becomes a paean to home and family and the little things that make life worth living, even for people with super-strength. That this all gets done in an animated family film, of all things, makes it miraculous.

12 Monkeys (1995): It may not be the best time travel movie ever, it may not be the best dystopic movie ever, and it may not be the best “saving humanity from its own damn self” movie ever — and it’s definitely not the best Terry Gilliam movie ever. But it is the best ever dystopic, time-traveler saving humanity from its damn self film, directed by Terry Gilliam. And that’s saying something. Also: Best Bruce Willis film ever. Which is admittedly a lower bar (although not as low as people might think).

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004): This film about memory, and the lengths people will go to forget and remember (and sometimes both at the same time) is both goofy strange and poetically sad, which is an unusual combination, and why it (ironically) sticks in the brain as well as it does. It’s the only science fiction film to win the Oscar for screenplay (Original Screenplay, in this case), which says something interesting, both about the science fiction genre and the Academy.

All of them are among my favorites. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and 12 Monkeys are among some of my favorite movies of all time. Ghost in the Shell was the first Anime feature film I’d ever seen.

My added five:

Equilibrium (2002): Fantastic sci-fi piece that’s far too often overlooked. Usually when I mention this movie to others, I’m met with the shrugs or confused looks of people who have never even heard of it. This is the movie that made me eager to see Christian Bale as Batman. It’s the movie that proved that Bale could pull off a serious action role with a seriously dark under tone.

The Fifth Element (1997): Whoever decided “Hey, let’s put Bruce Willis, Sir Ian Holm, Gary Oldman, Chris Tucker and Luke-Goddamn-Perry in a futuristic world where they have to race against time to save the universe!” deserves an award. Or a medal. Or a hug. Something, because this movie is a great ride and it’s great sci-fi.

Serenity (2005): Having watched the entire first-and-oh-yeah-ONLY-season-thanks-a-lot-Fox season of Firefly before having seen this, I’m not sure how much of it would connect with someone who had never seen the show. But if you’re a science fiction fan and you own a DVD player, there’s no excuse for not having seen Firefly. Serenity is heartwarming, funny, action packed and it’s a wonderful nod to the fans of one of the single best science fiction shows ever made.

Children of Men (2006): Beautifully written, superbly directed, wonderfully acted. Children of Men is one of those movies that changes the way you think. It takes your head in it’s hands, speaks directly to your face while maintaining eye contact, then, when you think you understand what it’s telling you, it slaps you across the face to make certain it’s point has gotten across. Plus, it ends up being a little scary because, in a way, you can see it happening in our own future.

The City of Lost Children (1995): A movie where the surrealism of the story is matched only by the surrealism of the visuals accompanying it. Some may argue with me for including this in a science fiction list, but… Come on. If you’ve seen it, you can see the science fiction tones of it. Another underrated wonder of celluloid.

What’s your list?

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Things Both Good And Bad

Let’s start with the bad things. Or thing, really.

In case you haven’t heard (and if you haven’t, where the hell have you been?), a powerful cyclone hit Myanmar five days ago, devistating nearly everything in its wake and killing thousands of people. Five days have passed, and even the largest city in Myanmar is paralyzed.

The length of time these people are forced to wait for aid is a travesty. If you’d like to help, please give anything you can. GlobalGiving.Com has a few different programs you can give to, or you can give to one all-inclusive plan, where a little of your money will go to all the programs listed.

On to some less Apocalyptic bits.

Author John Scalzi is now blogging it up over at AMCTV.Com.

His first entry is one entitled “Is Guillermo del Toro the Right Man for The Hobbit?” and it serves as a bit of a response to this blog entry by a man named Andrew O’Hehir over at Salon.Com. O’Hehir is against del Toro directing The Hobbit (and it’s subsequent sequel, which Scalzi affectionately refers to as The Hobbit 2: Electric Bilboloo), Scalzi is all for del Toro taking over for Peter Jackson.

Both articles make very interesting points, but I find myself agreeing with John. The Hobbit, while one of my favorite books, is a bit soft ’round the middle; making it the sort of book that is great to read before bed or to your children or whilst sitting under a nice big tree, but also the sort of book from which a film adaptaion may be a dangerous thing. A film adaptation of Hobbit, if not done correctly and by someone who knew what he or she were doing, could end up being very… Let’s say “fluffy”.

I, for one, think del Toro is a fantastic choice to direct Hobbit, because of his ability to create visually stunning and emotionally gripping fantasy (Go watch Pan’s Labyrinth. Right now. Even if you’ve already seen it, just go watch it.) and because he is a short bearded man with a funny accent, hence the perfect person to take the helm from Peter Jackson.

That last bit was a joke.

When I first read that del Toro had been chosen to direct The Hobbit, I felt relieved. I felt as though I could sit back and relax, as one of my favorite books was no longer in danger of turning into a very boring film.

Give a listen to these mp3s of Arthur C. Clarke reading the final chapters of 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s very moving and very haunting and very cool.

The wife and the boy and I are all going to see IRON MAN tonight at our local theater, which excites us, but we are unable to make it a night out involving dinner, which disappoints us. We will have to make due with corn dogs before we leave for the film.

The boy’s arm is still broken and not yet in a cast, but the casting appointment has been made (May the fourteenth) and he says he’ll be happy once it’s on.

He also says the pain is minimal, which is more than I could say when I broke my arm around that same age.

Hospital Waiting Room Coffee and Stale Cookies

May 4, 2008 4 comments

Our son learned a very hard lesson on Thursday Night; Never climb a slide in a way it was not originally intended to be climbed.

He came home accompanied by a crooked arm and many tears and much whimpering. We whisked him to the Emergency Room, where they performed X-Rays and told us they could not set the bone. They gave him a purple splint, which made him feel a little better, and some Vicodin, which made him feel a lot better, and told us we needed to drive an hour and twenty minutes to an Orthopedic specialist.

And so, we did.

Friday afternoon, we arrived for our appointment and the doctor told us, upon looking at the X-Rays, that he would need to be given anaesthesia and the bone would be set. At the hospital three blocks away from his office. The next morning.

And so we drove an hour and twenty minutes home. We kept our child as medicated as was legal and healthy and awaited the morning.

Saturday morning we drove an hour and twenty minutes to the hospital near the orthopedic specialist’s office, being absolutely certain to get our son there by his ten o’clock appointment.

At twelve thirty five, they finally performed the operation.

Things went well, the bone is set, but due to swelling the cast cannot be applied until a week from now. When we will have to drive an hour and twenty minutes to the hospital across from the orthopedic specialist’s office.

On the plus side, the nurse gave us a ten dollar gas card for making us wait so long, which was awfully nice of her.

I’ve decided that hospital waiting room coffee is much like the stale cookies that accompany it; it’s there to keep your hands and mind temporarily occupied so you don’t worry about whatever reason you find yourself in a hospital waiting room in the first place.

The boy’s friends have given him free ice cream, they’ve brought over homework for the weekend and they’ve checked in on a regular schedule to ensure he’s alright.

His teachers gave him popcorn and a gift certificate for free movie rentals.

We’ve given him the gift of anaesthesia. The specialist could have set the bone at his office on Friday afternoon, however, it would be a very painful procedure that may have ended with his arm needing to be rebroken in a week or two.

Given that the hospital bill alone is said to be at least seven to eight thousand dollars, I’d say our gift trumps the popcorn.

SFSignal asks why so many adult SF readers are so judgemental of Young Adult SF.

I’ll give my two cents later.

Here is a very interesting (albeit a bit one-sided and brutal) take on the J.K. Rowling lawsuit.

I’ve been playing around with LibraryThing lately. I’ve only added three books (I own more than that), but here is my profile there

It’s very nearly six in the morning and I’ve slept very little, so I think I’ll go and sleep for a few hours before assisting a one-armed child with his paper route duties. More updates later (maybe even some photos).

In Which We Learn Darth Vader Has A Drinking Problem

April 22, 2008 1 comment

Monday was our anniversary. I had explained this to my boss, who imediately said “Don’t worry about coming in that day, then!”, which was awfully sweet of her.

The day was spent watching rented movies (Juno, which was good, Alien Vs Predator: Requiem, which was not so good), eating at a local diner, and just generally being disgustingly and adorably a couple.

It was a good day.

I’ve stumbled across this article, which indicates that the Sith Lord, Darth Vader, may have a bit of an alcohol problem.

A man posing as Darth Vader attacked a Star Wars fan, who had founded a Jedi Church, a court has heard.

Arwel Wynne Hughes, 27, from Holyhead, Anglesey, admitted assaulting Barney Jones and cousin Michael with a metal crutch. They suffered minor injuries.

Hughes, who was drunk and dressed in a black bin bag, shouted “Darth Vader!”

And

Hughes could not remember the incident and only realised what had happened when he read about it in local newspapers, the court told.

Defending, Frances Jones said alcohol was “ruining his life” and he had no idea where he got the crutch from.

Are my favorite bits.


Seven Things Sci-Fi Fans Should Stop Doing.

It’s a very interesting article. One thing that struck me in a very funny-yet-also-true sort of way, was the following:

People With Different Taste To You Are Not Inferior
Okay so you prefer the remake of Battlestar Galactica to the original. Chances are that many or most people agree with you. But that doesn’t make you better than the people who don’t like the new BSG. It’s entirely possible for two intelligent people to hold contradictor opinions. Taste is a personal preference, nothing more.

It’s also quite funny that they would cite the Battlestar Galactica fandom specifically, as I am of the decidedly small group of people who prefer the 1970s Battlestar Galactica to the more modern remake. I am also a part of the decidedly large group of people who get flack for disliking the new version. I’m told I have no taste or that I am “lame” for not liking what is “an obviously superior series”, at which I simply laugh because of the very point made above.

Mumblings of Science Fiction and More of the J.K. Rowling Thing

April 16, 2008 3 comments

With the temperature staying in the mid 60s and a decent wind rustling the trees, today was the sort of day that made you feel good to be oustide. Walking to the store and back was a fun thing, for a change. To think that less than a month ago, it was a cold and frigid landscape of white and gray is astounding when breathing in the warm Spring air, looking around at all the rich greens and browns.

Today was a good day.

In my previous entry, I commented on this article in which was information on a lawsuit filed by Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling.

Andrew Wheeler feels she’s wrong.

It’s truly interesting hearing from an established publisher on this topic and, while I still side with Rowling and hope she wins, I also tend to agree with a few things Andrew has mentioned.

Printed fan work is one thing. Go to your local Borders and look for any book on the topic of Star Wars. You’d be surprised how many there actually are (or perhaps you wouldn’t be surprised). Not all of them are official. In fact, many of them are unauthorized. And those will sell many copies right alongside the “Official” Lucasfilm produced books on the subject. No copyright infringing.

But from what Rowling is claiming in the suit, many of the facts in this fan’s Lexicon is taken verbatim from the books. There is, reportedly, very little original content in it. And by original content, I mean words about Harry Potter written uniquely by this man. Not just copying and pasting from the books (again, reportedly, as I’m not familiar enough with the books to recognize the similarities).

I believe therein lies the difference.

Of course, I’m no publisher.

Author Dan Ronco thinks we’re entering a new golden age for science fiction.

It is eerie to think of all those ideas envisioned by SF writers that are now becoming a reality.

Here, have some of the best book covers ever printed.

Doctor Who gives Ben Templesmith a hard on.

Doctor Who by Ben Templesmith gives me a hard on.