Wednesday, October 27, 2010


An open letter to film director Christopher Nolan...

Dear Mr. Nolan,

Thank you so much for nixing the idea of lensing the next Batman feature (The Dark Knight Rises, in case you do not know already) in the not-ready 3-D motion picture process.

Like many, I would make a point to avoid any theatres showing the movie in 3-D, if it were exhibited that way.

I support your stand, in principle.


Barry F.

Toronto Star...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Citizens of Toronto voted yesterday. Rob Ford is now grand mayor elect of the city of Toronto. The new big man in town.

So much is hoped of him, by some.

Good luck.

(For all you non Torontonians, the other front-runner was George Smitherman; a man mired in controversy.)


As a comic book reader of the 1960s/1970s, imagine my surprise when I read this morning that "The Man of Steel" has been re-imagined (a wee bit). Actually, I have not exactly been keeping up with Superman, so there may have been a few changes over the years and I would not have known even if I tripped over Lex Luthor. I do remember the "Death of Superman"... that was 1992 or 1993. Years ago. (I remember a young apprentice, who was working at my company back then, coming to work the day of the 'death' issue's release: He showed me the book, and the other copy that he was keeping in a plastic bag for investment purposes. Of course, everyone was doing that.)

New Look Superman...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


No doubt you've heard the news about the planned huge government budget cuts in the U.K....

Fascinating. Social changes ready to swing into action.

It is going to be interesting to see how the average Brit reacts or "puts up" with the biggest cuts in over 30 years.

Other proposals or "adjustments" put forth, and ones involving the traditionally proud British military services...

* Ark Royal (an aircraft carrier) is to be sent to the breakers.
* The Nimrod (long-range surveillance aircraft) is to be cancelled.
* The Harrier "jump jet" is to be retired.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


This coming Friday (October 22nd) at 'Innis Town Hall', here in Toronto, will be a rare screening of the 1960s science fiction opus First Spaceship on Venus. My own thanks goes to film-collector Dion Conflict.

I should mention that First Spaceship is actually the 1962 American release of the East German/Polish co-production Der Schweigende Stern. The original was a widescreen and stereo-sound, prestige picture; while the 'import' was trimmed, stuffed with stock background music cues, and, of course, dubbed into English. It's a grand-looking film but also one you buy or you don't. A word of warning for some: First Spaceship on Venus has a brain in its head, which is so nice to see. This might have something to do with the fact that the story was based on a novel, "The Astronauts", written by famed Polish SF author Stanislaw Lem. (As a note, Lem did not like the film drawn from his book -- as a matter of fact, he later down-played his novel since Lem wrote it when he was still a young and, according to him, naive man. Has to do with socialistic ideals. A later novel of Lem's was transcribed to motion picture by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky; its name, Solaris.)

The theatre is at 2 Sussex Place, Toronto (actually, you can enter off of St. George as the building is on the corner), and the start-time is 7pm...


Last Saturday I was walking up Spadina Avenue, east side, just south of Bloor, when I came across the sidewalk art below...

... I wonder what that refers to ;)

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Sorry to hear that fans of Toronto's football (soccer) club are feeling down.

I did not realize that MLSE (Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment) felt compelled to raise ticket prices to the matches by almost double. That is BS.

Maple Leafs, anyone? Fans of that fabulous-loser-franchise continue to buy tickets for games. That is a big mistake. And do they really need a hockey puck with a Leafs logo on it? Or a jersey with the screened-on name of a player who really does not give an arena-rat's arse whether or not he plays well? After all, they are paid so much money that "it really doesn't matter".

Don't go to games, stay at home. That is the best way to signal MLSE.

Sorry to hear about the TFC issue. They are my favourite of the Toronto-based professional sports teams.

Story in the Toronto Star...


I've noticed that SunTV (channel 52 here in Toronto) has been playing old westerns on the weekends.

Today, right now as a matter of fact, is Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969), starring James Garner; yesterday was Hour of the Gun (1967), starring -- just look at this cast -- James Garner, Jason Robards, Robert Ryan, Albert Salmi, William Windom, Steve Ihnat, Austin Willis, Monte Markham; and this evening is The Way West (1967), starring Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum (my man!), Richard Widmark (my man!), and Michael Witney. Next Saturday is Young Billy Young (1969), starring, look at this cast, Robert Mitchum, Angie Dickinson, Robert Walker, David Carradine, and Jack Kelly.

A few weeks ago, SunTV played Son of a Gunfighter (1965), starring Russ Tamblyn!

For those of you who live in the Toronto ("T.O.") area, consult your local sheriff... I mean, listings.


I seek, I find. On the Internet Archive.

In the previous posting (BARBARA BILLINGSLEY LIVED TO 94) I mentioned that I have not seen the 1951 flick Three Guys Named Mike in over three decades. Well, here it is for viewing...

I'll be sure to check it out when I get a chance. Maybe late tonight... that'll give me time to find my DC-6 model.


I awoke early this morning to the news that famous Leave it to Beaver mom Barbara Billingsley had died.

My three marker memories of Ms. Billingsley are...

1. Leave it to Beaver -- no surprise.
2. Airplane -- as the jive-talkin' passenger
3. Three Guys Named Mike -- a movie from 1951 that I first and last saw in 1974 on late-night television. BB played a flight attendent (or 'Stewardess' back then) instructor. I remember it being a fun flick.

Toronto Star...

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I awoke, popped out of bed, and; a piece of music entered my brain, to cycle over the next few minutes. "It's the theme from McHale's Navy." Why this musical morsel from my childhood?

There's dependable PT-73 scooting along the water. Titles are superimposing over snippets of images that are suddenly rushing back to me: 'Tim Conway'; 'Ernest Borgnine'... McHale himself; and 'Joe Flynn'. Good ol' Joe Flynn.

I can't remember who wrote that blasted music. ('Frank Comstock'?) Suddenly, I start thinking of some other title theme music to help push out the one that will not go away. The Munsters. Jack Marshall penned that catchy tune.

No way am I going to Youtube to grab and embed the opening title section from the 1960s television series McHale's Navy. Talk about embedding...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Youtubing when I came across a clip for the 1950s Roger Corman-produced, David Kramarski-directed epic The Beast With a Million Eyes. Loved it in my childhood. Last time I saw the beast would have been late 1975 or early 1976.

It is time to hunt down the colander. There are some genuinely unsettling moments...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Watched the new Hawaii FIVE-O last night... well, most of it anyway. Stylistically it is very different from its predecessor, which is to be expected; times do change. And I'm sure Honolulu is not the city it was back in the 1960s and 70s.

The producers were smart to keep composer Morton Stevens' wonderful and iconic theme music intact. What is bad is the imagery that goes with it. Too much cutting. Way too much. Do editors get paid by the cut? What is missing? The original's dolly-in on the airliner's turbofan inlet.


Star Toronto Star reporter Katie Daubs needs to be shown how to read a map; and how to be a journalist.

In today's Star newspaper is an article by the Star reporter on how it would take her 2 hours and 10 minutes to commute from the intersection of Finch and Islington to her office at 1 Yonge Street. The real problem is this: I have been a professional TTC user for 2 and a half decades, and I can tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there is no way that journey should take over 2 hours. Of course, there are going to be the off days, but as a general rule... no way.

To make a long explanation short, that route should, on average, be done in about 100 minutes.

Here is the breakdown -- not the route chosen by the Star reporter: Finch bus from Islington to Finch TTC station (one can also walk down and grab the #96 Wilson "Express" bus, which takes you to Downsview station on the Spadina/University line), 45-55 minutes; Finch station to Union station, 35-40 minutes; walk to "1 Yonge Street", 10 minutes.

Again, I've taken all those routes and during rush hour. I have no stock or investments in the Toronto Transit Commission -- I'm just being factual. One has to be careful with the media; it's all about sensationalism, sometimes.

Journalist Katie Daubs took the Machiavellian route. Maybe she should stop eating so many muffins. All that fat clogs the brain.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I was reading an article just now and it reminded me of someone. We all have a friend or acquaintance who is in a slump -- it is noticeable when they are "not normally like that" but now there is an obvious difference. Some signs of what might be depression are: Constant anger and irritability, the inability to sleep, constant aches and pains, and so on.

Of course, some people live a lifetime battling clinical depression.

This is no laughing matter. We all feel gloomy from time to time; I do. Everybody does. If they say they don't, then they are lying. However, depression is something else.


Friday, October 8, 2010


I just finished doing dishes; actually, it was a matter of throwing out the BigMac and Large Fries cardboard containers.

Now that I got all that business out of the way, I can sit down and watch a movie I have not seen since high school -- we're talkin' 1980 or 81. Cyborg 2087 is still awaiting a nice -- as far as I know -- release on DVD.

It is now on Youtube, courtesy of someone with taste (so memory informs me).

Try the trailer first...

If that turned your crank, and you want to see the movie, here is 'part one' of Cyborg 2087...

Part One...

Thursday, October 7, 2010


One of my favourite artists of the last few decades is Jean-Michel Basquiat. He lived a too-brief life (1960-1988), but still managed to turn out a sizeable body of work.

I think what I like about Basquiat's art is that I connect with his style. Something resonates with me. There is a force of emotion in so much of what I see. Even a simple scribble is charged. Personality is everywhere. If you look closely, maybe you'll see a short life encoded as predetermined.

Basquiat died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27. He was just getting going.

It has been said that one cannot really write about a piece of music. You can talk about tempo or the shape of a melody, but that is about all you can do. I don't know how many times I've read "crystal clear vocals" or "achingly sweet melody". With graphic arts, it is perhaps even more difficult to describe a given piece. "There's a lot of colour"; "it makes me happy... or sad"; "I don't get it".

Subjectivity is the most powerful component in interpreting any art form. Reviewers forget this; they try to determine success or failure by using a pseudo-mathematical formula. It does not work.

A new documentary film, directed by Tamra Davis, is opening today in Toronto at the new TIFF Bell Lightbox. The filmmaker was a friend of Basquiat's, which should give Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child an extra dimension.

Globe and Mail article...

Globe and Mail review...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


This Thursday evening, the cult horror flick Troll 2, is being shown in Canada, coast-to-coast.*

Generally when we refer to movies as 'worst ever' we are speaking of ones that you can actually, more or less, sit through. (Needless to say, some people are going to reject these from the first frame of picture.)

Plan 9 From Outer Space, Robot Monster, The Oscar (although I actually like this one)... and some Oscar-winning films (!) are but a few examples of the form.

There is a filmmaker here in Toronto who makes short films that are so bad -- so atrociously inept on every level imaginable -- that I sometimes yearn for the time he gets a feature made. If this were to ever happen, my guess would be this: "Goodbye Troll 2. You have been replaced!"

* The story...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


We know Stanley Kubrick as the maker of classic films such as Paths of Glory and 2001: A Space Odyssey, but even his fans are rusty on the director's earliest works. One such work, Fear and Desire, has been all but lost. It was Kubrick's first dramatic feature film. I cannot comment as to whether or not the film is any good, or even contains those special touches, as I have not seen the effort. Part of the reason for this is that the man himself -- so legend says -- bought up every copy he could of Fear and Desire and burned them.

In Kubrick's defence, the film was shot silent ("M.O.S") and then during post-production a lot of work and money was expended to produce an audio track. This is not the best way to make a film as the actors have to return, after it has been all shot, and speak into the microphone while putting a voice over their moving lips. Without a "guide track", which Kubrick did not record while the scenes were being shot, it is that much more difficult for the actors to match their mouth action. On top of all that, they want to inject some kind of performance so it does not sound as though they are just reading their lines.

All in all, it probably was not a smart move on Kubrick's part to make his movie in such a fashion... but he was still learning the ropes.

I would like to finally see Fear and Desire, which might now be possible with the find of a print in a Puerto Rican film lab...