Thoughts on some movies I’ve seen in the last ~2 months.
Seen for the First Time
The Big Lebowski – I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. It should have been funny, but was just tedious.
Slumdog Millionaire – Fascinating, both in its exploration of poverty in India and in the theme of showing how seemingly small and unrelated events can all contribute to someone’s future.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies – Had its moments, but overall was pretty much a standard superhero film.
Clerks 2 – Kevin Smith seems to hit about 50/50 with me. I loved the first Clerks, hated Mallrats (except for the “Jedi Mind Trick” payoff), liked Chasing Amy and Dogma, but Jay and Silent Bob was mostly annoying (though it had its moments). Clerks 2 was mostly gross-out humor wrapped around a Broken Aesop in which the happy ending is for the indecisive guy to let the a—hole make his decisions for him.
Battlestar Galactica: The Plan – They did a decent job of trying to pull together a consistent story from elements that were originally unconnected, but it still ended up playing too much like a clip show — especially the segments in the Colonial fleet. The segments on Caprica worked much better, though I did find it interesting that they re-cast the Cylon infiltrators as a tiny, isolated guerrilla force rather than the tip of an iceberg of espionage. It relied way too much on the audience remembering what happened in the series.
Liar, Liar – Pretty much what I remember from the previews, except longer. Funny. Worth seeing at least once.
Synecdoche, New York – A metafictional examination of living life vs. imitating it that doesn’t quite live up to the scope of its ambition…but then, part of the point of the movie is that it can’t. (Note: not a good choice for watching while eating.)
Evil Dead 2 – Nice camera work, but I’m not a horror fan. Also, this makes absolutely no sense as a sequel, but works just fine as a remake. You can explain Ash’s actions at the beginning with evil-enforced amnesia, but the timeline with the professor’s discovery of the book just doesn’t mesh with the first movie. I posted some thoughts on Army of Darkness last week.
Up – Second time, watched in a second-run theater. Holds up, even without 3D. Bring tissue.
Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero – still a better Mr. Freeze movie than Batman And Robin. Not that it would be hard.
Coraline – Third time, but first time on small screen or in 2D. Still works, though of course not nearly as impressive visually. Still, great animation & story. Kind of like Up in that way.
Conan the Destroyer – The first movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger was very good and holds up well almost three decades later. This one was almost self-parody.
Every Friday, a script verifies all the links on this website. I usually check the results that evening, or sometimes during the day at work, and see which dead links I can fix.
Strangely enough, this week 3 links on “What the heck is a Hyperborea?” have dropped off the face of the net. I checked the rest of the links manually, and 2 more turned up broken sites with internal errors!
The other two that actually reported errors are both role-playing games. The MUD Darkwind has moved to its own domain. Epiphany: The Legends of Hyperborea is a little trickier. It’s missing from its publisher’s website, but there are references to it online. I figured I could link to the sourcebook at Amazon, or maybe to a review, but the most informative page I could find was on archive.org.
Now to the sites that lied and reported “200 OK” instead of an error code. One was a page describing Clark Ashton Smith’s book, Hyperborea. The site had a search box on the home page, making it easy to find the new location. (It would have been nice if they’d actually removed the old script instead of letting it break. A 404 or even a 500 would have helped me catch this earlier.)
That leaves a Conan reference site, which is shut down, the domain name listed for sale. I went looking and found a site with maps of the world in which Conan takes place, showing Hyperborea near Cimmeria.
It’s just odd that three links would vanish from the same page at more or less the same time.
I’ve been meaning to pick up a copy of the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack for a while, but kept not finding it. A few weeks ago, we were listening to a copy of Holst’s The Planets we had just picked up. I’d heard the whole suite before, but had only heard “Mars” recently, so one section of “Jupiter” just leaped out at me. I was absolutely certain I had heard something very like it, but not exactly the same, in a movie, probably sword-and-sorcery. I tried several net searches, but had no luck – it’s not as if you can plug a few notes into Google and search for pieces containing a melody.
A while later it occurred to me that it might have been from Conan, so I tried to find it online, only to learn it was out of print. This looks like a job for eBay! It took a couple of auctions to get it (I really hate snipers), but I did, and the CD showed up in the mail a few days ago.
And sure enough, the piece I couldn’t help but think of while listening to “Jupiter” was there: track 12, “The Kitchen/The Orgy.” Interestingly the liner notes go into how Basil Poledouris constructed the piece, but don’t make a single mention of Holst, despite other tracks acknowledging influences such as Orff’s Carmina Burana, or the Gregorian chant “Dies Irae.” But the similarity is undeniable – even more similar than “Charging Fort Wagner” from James Horner’s Glory soundtrack or Joel McNeely’s battle music from the Verdun 1916 episode of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles is to Orff’s “O Fortuna” (neither of which credits that influence either).