Thursday, December 31, 2009


Peace, love, harmony, and the DVD release of director Don Shebib's 1971 fun-film Rip-Off.


I get so wrapped up in the negative shiit that I forget to wish all my wonderful, and not too discriminating, readers. A toast to you all... as soon as I find my corkscrew.

May the kazoos all call in unison at midnight, tonight.


Can you believe it? The year 2010 is just hours away. Where does the time go? My dad warned me about this; when I was a teenager, all those years ago.

At one time, "2001" was just a great movie, and "2010" was a book.

Recently I read that the first decade of this millennium is/was probably the crappiest of recent times. Not too hard to disagree.

And Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is one of the crappiest movies of the early 21st century. Not too hard to disagree.

Monday, December 28, 2009


'Tis the season to come back to a real life. Some people I know cannot stand the "holiday season"; it certainly can be a drain and a distraction from all the pressing concerns of life -- an oasis from reality. That is a good thing.

Some notes:

* I watched The Abyss (1989) and did not like the film, feeling it is James Cameron's weakest.

* As evidenced by the job boards there is a lot of work out there, but it is hard to get a job (in my case to fill in the blanks, of which there are too many).

* Phyllis Blanc ate a pumpkin seed and something grew inside her.

* When I eventually see Cameron's Avatar, it will mean I've seen every dramatic feature of his, except... for a few years I've had a VHS copy of Piranha 2: The Spawning, but can never get past the first few minutes.

* I gotta go...

... but before I do, Hi Ashley.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


There will not be any women's ski-jumping at this year's Winter Olympics, to be held in Vancouver, Canada. When this issue broke a few months ago (at least it did for me) I had no idea that this sporting event was non existent -- I assumed there was one, just like the boys'.

Idiotic, that is what I say. I don't really care as I never watch the Olympics, anyway... summer or winter, but I think this whole affair is terribly unfair.

Is there 'track and field' in this upcoming Olympics?


Here come the lists... the 'top films of the year' lists. Fine, they can be eye opening if there are films listed that otherwise might get ignored; as in lack of distribution or "there's not enough special effects".

One title I am hearing bounced about a lot these past few days is Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker. While I think it is a good movie... one of the best of the year?... the best?

Reminds me of a few years ago when Martin Scorcese's The Aviator was up for the "Best Picture" Oscar. I saw that one at Toronto's impeccable Bloor Cinema when it hit second run, and when I walked up the theatre's aisle as the end credits rolled, I said to my chum, "it was good, but 'best picture'?". He laughed and said, "I know, that makes no sense to me".

For me, the best picture this year was Invasion U.S., eh? (You don't know that one, do you?... I knew it! There is a rumour that that was coincidentally the working title for The Hurt Locker.)


Here is an interesting article in the October 27th edition of the National Post regarding our inability to say no to sugar and sodium, titled "This is why we're fat: we can't say no"...

... I get nauseous just reading that text, and realize more and more that I have a very low "bliss point".

"I want some burgers
I need more fries
just keep them coming
and give me size."

Monday, December 21, 2009


"Was William Shatner involved with this shit?"


Last night I took a break from my sanity to visit a world of insanity: I watched the film Fanboys.

In case you have not heard, this flick is about a bunch of Star Wars fans who decide -- or have been planning to for a while -- to break into creator George Lucas' production village "Skywalker Ranch" in order to watch Star Wars - The Phantom Menace before it actually hits the theatres. (My guess is they could not wait.)

The movie Fanboys comes up short, as far as I'm concerned. The idea was a good one, that of showing how far gone a lot of these people are in their love for what is just a series of movies, but the execution was lacking. The script was the main culprit... Tends to be that way, huh?

There was no need for the picture to be a road movie. It was a cheap device used by the filmmakers simply because they could not figure out what to do with the characters. When in doubt, put your protagonists on some sort of journey.

The cameos are fun: William Shatner, Carrie Fisher, Kevin Smith, and an actor playing Harry Knowles. (Knowles is a veritable Jabba the Hutt, in real life, and could hardly locomote the way 'he' does in Fanboys.)

Distribution was very, very limited for this one. After watching it, I was not surprised.


A few minutes ago I was watching, on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), a news about the appeal of online shopping in the U.S. from here in Canada -- especially during the Christmas season. The problems start with import duties and brokerage fees charged by courier companies to pull your purchases over the Canada/U.S. border.

What really struck me about the story is how materialistic many of us are. I gotta have... gotta, gotta, gotta...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ROY DISNEY (1930 - 2009)

The curse of the 'talking about someone one day and they are dead the next' just hit again.

Well, sort of: On Sunday I was telling a friend about the infamous little story where writer Harlan Ellison was hired by The Walt Disney Company for all of one day.

The uber-author was having lunch in the studio commissary on his first day on the studio's payroll when he decided to impress his work pals by imitating various Disney characters as though they were acting in a porn film.

The story goes that Roy Disney overhead these shenanigans and when Mr. Ellison showed up for work the next day his name had been painted over on his parking spot. (Harlan Ellison has said that he does a wicked Donald Duck voice.)

I understand that Roy was an even bigger prick than his famous uncle. However, his passing today is still sad news -- he wielded great might at "The Mouse House" for a long time.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


The news broke a couple of days ago that superstar golfer Tiger Woods has decided to take a break from his game for the next little while.

I read the headline not as "Tiger Woods to take an indefinite break", but as "Tiger Woods to take an infinite break".

A wish on my part?...

I'm just jealous because he has something I do not -- lots of money. We are at par on every other point, however; so I do not know what my problem is with the man.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Director James Cameron's new film Avatar was premiered in Britain on Thursday evening. Here is the Toronto Star's Peter Howell with his review...

By the way, writer Howell states that the film cost a reported $500 million to make. Rest assured that is incorrect. That would mean Avatar would have to make well over a billion dollars before it would see any profit. More likely, that 500 figure is about what it will have to earn before it even looks as though anything might be gained.

Less than half the reported box office figures you read on Monday mornings make it back to the producing studios.

The good news is, even if Avatar comes up short, and it just might, it is future-ready because Cameron elected to shoot in 3-D.

Whatever: The story must click with audiences. Technical exercises are just curiosities, at best.

Friday, December 11, 2009


It has been a busy week, folks. So much to do and not enough time.

After posting my previous entry (DECEMBER 7TH OF 1979) I took a few minutes to see if I could find anything interesting regarding "1979 Trek" and quickly found this...

... good ol' Youtube. That is pretty interesting stuff. I'm wondering why it is so rare, and took 30 years for this geek to see it for the first time.

In a few scenes you can see the 65mm camera... used for "plate" shots, where the image would be optically printed later on to form a final composite. Of course, regular 35mm motion picture film was used for everything else; lensed in 'Scope' by the very talented Richard Kline, of Camelot, and King Kong (1976) fame.

Monday, December 7, 2009


I'm reading the morning paper when I see that today's date is December 7th. What is it about this day, besides the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941?

On December 7th, 1979, I stood in line for some movie that ended up disappointing many people -- even though it went on to make a lot of money -- but became the favourite film 'in the series' for some.

Star Trek - The Motion Picture was a polarizing piece of celluloid... still is, or can be. Get over it, Trekkies. (The dirty little secret is a lot of fans do not like ST: TMP for the simple reason that there are virtually no "starship battles". Boo-effing-hoo!)

One thing's for sure, it is still the biggest budget Trek of the bunch (not that it means anything outside of trivia circles). That is the reason why Paramount was not happy; even though the film brought in the bucks it was not really "profitable", which is proportion of money made compared to money put in. That is also the reason why studios love movies like The Blair Witch Project -- insane amounts of money made in relation to the initial investment in the film. Juno (2007) is another good example.

Star Trek - The Original Series is almost entirely out on Blu-ray with the upcoming (December 15th) release of the third and final season. (The dirty little secret is that I have only the first season on regular DVD... and I do not even have a Blu-ray player, with no plans to buy one at this point in time. Strange, eh, considering I have long worked in 'imaging' in film and video, including home-video.)

Mark A. Altman wrote a 30 year anniversary tribute for ST:TMP...

Sunday, December 6, 2009


While a friend of mine was over visiting last night I played the 60 Minutes story from two weeks ago that was done on director James Cameron and his upcoming digi-epic (or digepic), Avatar.

As the segment wrapped up I got the gut feeling that Avatar will be a big bust. As God said during a certain Sam Kinison stand-up routine, "let's watch... ".

Friday, December 4, 2009


I was reading a book today on science fiction television programs from 1959 to 1989.

While leafing through -- it was more a leafing than a real reading -- I came across a television series I had never heard of before: The New People ran on ABC from 1969 - 1970.

Here is the blurb that appeared above the main body of the article. (It may be the opening title voice-over.) See if it reminds you of anything...

"Forty American college students, part of a Southeast Asia cultural exchange tour, are marooned on a lost island in the South Pacific after their plane crashes. The island is Bomano, once designated as the site for an atomic bomb test.

The students find a makeshift city, left behind by the Atomic Energy Commission. The castaways, realizing that they're thousands of miles away from the nearest shipping lanes, must now build their own world. For them, it's year one."

... there were two accompanying photos from The New People. It was kind of eerie.


British actor Richard Todd, star of many films, including The Dam Busters and The Longest Day, died yesterday at the age of 90...

Thursday, December 3, 2009


What I learned today while scanning the newspapers is that Canadian singer Feist is a "one hit wonder". I had no idea. I do know that she played at Lee's Palace here in Toronto... a friend of mine went to see her and fell in love. (I think he was already in love.)

I don't know why a big deal is made about the whole issue of one hit wonders. Heck, some of my favourite songs are from that specimen/animal. Besides, one hit is one more than I have.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Coming to a Blu-ray player near you, if you even have one, is the 1954 British WW2 classic, The Dam Busters. In 1943 a special RAF squadron (617) was set up to deliver a secret bomb-type with the intent of shortening the war.

As illustrated on Gary Tooze's outstanding website the superb docu-drama looks sparkling. The reviewer -- Leonard Norwitz -- does seem to be confused as to where this transfer came from: He may not be aware that this home-video release was struck off the original camera negatives by way of the restoration done two years ago by the British Film Institute and which was released to British cinemas on a limited basis. For years and years all television prints, DVD, and VHS releases were struck off the same set of soft and degraded intermediates.

All technical matters, of course, what really matters is the movie itself: A true story done with dramatic aplomb while maintaining historical accuracy (for the most part). By the way, the Barnes Wallis "bouncing bomb" was still on the secret list when The Dam Busters was produced in 1953, and was until becoming declassified in 1962. The viewer therefor just sees a barrel-like protrusion from the bellies of the Lancaster bombers and is not even aware that a chain gear put a spin on the bomb before it was released... unless he or she already knew that interesting detail. (Paul Brickhill's excellent book "The Dam Busters" goes into the workings of the machinery and 617 Squadron itself -- the second half of the book covers the subsequent 'special operations' done by the special force after the dams raids.)

The article in question...

(Still frame above: Robert Shaw and Richard Todd.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


We always remember what movies we saw where, and when. At the Carlton Cinema in Toronto I saw such fare as The Architecture of Doom, The Player, and Visions of Light. I admit I have not being going in recent years. And now, I have no choice as that choice cinema is now closed.

And I call myself a movie fan. Fuck the mainstream!... I say. Too bad I did not put my money where my box office is... was.