Month: May 2011

Here comes the science.

Have been concentrating on Iron II – sci-fi which is so much easier to work on when I am busy at work. I find writing about religion very draining so Ordo II will have to wait for a while.

The science for Iron I has been fascinating but trying to cram in enough of a framework to make a world or indeed a universe, believable while not boring the reader is quite a challenge. Sometimes I have a very simnple idea in my head but in order to make it happen I have to do all sorts of contortions in the book.

Is it possible to have this sentence, about an alien, or does the use of ‘morse-code’ kind of break the illusion cos morse-code is only of our world? Please let me know.

“He tapped the chloro-funnel with his extended thumb-claw, in a kind of irritated morse-code, as if to warn anybody off who might want a conversation.”

Okay now I have a really good competition (or I think so anyway).

Top 6 car/vehicle-chases. I can start off by telling you of the worst one I have ever seen: John Wayne in the 1973 film McQ. He is driving a 1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am (confirm please – video link below) which really sounds quite nice. I don’t know what the engine is but must be at least 4 Litres. He is chasing a Laundry-van – and a very slow-looking one at that – and the van gets away. I couldn’t believe it. What sort of a chase is that? In fact the whole film is pretty crap. The only real encounter with the baddies takes place in a government laundrette and the Trans Am gets crushed – with Wayne in it. The only thing of note in the film is a half-hearted car chase on a beach where one of the cars is rolled – apparently the first time this was done deliberately in a film.

Car chase from McQ

Okay here is a selection of vehicle chases just to get things going;

Bullet (obviously and probably my favourite)
The Italian Job (original)
The French Connection
Gone is 60 Seconds (the new one with Nick Cage – chase in the Mustang at the end)
Gone in 60 Seconds (the original – where do I start?)
Diamonds are Forever
Chase including bridge jump in Man with the Golden Gun
Boat chase in Live and Let Die
Plane chase in Capricorn One

Some more suggestions from Gary:

Car and vehicle chases?
There must be hundreds, and I guess ‘Bullit’ will always be the first to come to the mind of any well-seasoned film connoisseur/buff, but I must say that my all-time favourite car chase is without a doubt the one featured in the second installment of the ‘Matrix Trilogy’ – ‘Matrix – Reloaded’. It is just awesomely mindblowing. I recall, on obtaining the DVD, watching that particular sequence over and over and over again until I drove my poor wife crazy (I mean crazier).
Second place would go to another second installment in a trilogy (Although there is now rumors of a 4th on the way), namely ‘Mad Max 2 – The Road Warrior’ (The title says it all).
Other films that come to mind are:
Mad Max 1 + 3
Sugarland Express
Vanishing Point
Dukes of Hazard
XXX 1 + 2
The Fast & The Furious movies
Lethal Weapon (The one with the house being transported on the highway)
G.I. Joe
To Live and Die in L.A.
Death Race 2000
The Transporter
Star Wars V (The Chase scene through the asteroid field)
Star Trek – Insurrection (Riding off the cliff in the dune buggy onto the back of the space ship)
Back to the Future 3 (The skate/hover board chase)
Silent Movie (Mel Brooks and co. chasing Paul Newman in golf carts)
True Lies
Mission Impossible 1 – 3
James Bond Movies in General
The Indiana Jones movies (Not forgetting the minecart or cocopan rollercoaster chase in ‘Temple of Doom’)
The Hitcher
Die Hard 4
Con Air
Not to forget some of the classic Harold Lloyd stuff
And lastly, the movie with the record for having the most cars smashed in a car chase (And also my third place favourite) – ‘The Blues Brothers’

Results – Best Drunk in Film

Here is the results by my calculation:

16 Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now
14 The Butler in Dinner for One
13 Walter Matthau in Earthquake
12 Nicholas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas
11 Lee Marvin in Paint Your Wagons
10 Cary Grant in North by North West
9 Robert Mitchum in El Dorado
7 Olly Reed in Oliver
6 Lee Marvin in Shout at the Devil
6 Lee Marvin in Cat Ballou

Lee Marvin drew with himself there.

My vote – Best drunks in a film

Pts Actor
10 Walter Matthau in Earthquake
9 Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now (thanks for suggestion El’Phantasmo)
8 Cary Grant in North by North West
7 Nick Cage in Leaving Las Vegas
6 Olly Reed in Oliver
5 Shelley Winters in Alfie
4 the butler in Dinner for One
3 Lee Marvin in Paint Your Wagons
2 Lee Marvin in Shout at the Devil
1 Peter O’Toole in Murphy’s War

Best drunk in a film

Okay time for a final vote now we have had plenty of time to deliberate. I have a few additions though so if anybody else has, please add them now:

Original list:

1. Walter Matthau in Earthquake (this is also definitely my funniest)
2. Lee Marvin in Paint Your Wagons
3. Lee Marvin in Cat Ballou (I’m still going to check out Paul Newman in The Sting though)
4. Paul Newman in The Hudsucker Proxy
5. Shelley Winters in Alfie
6. Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now (thanks for suggestion El’Phantasmo)
7. I forgot Nick Cage in Leaving Las Vegas
8. Embarrassing one this but Oliver Reed in Oliver! Okay, okay I know the film is a bit of old hokey’ but he really is very menacing – and he was Carol Reed’s nephew.
9. Okay – the butler in Dinner for One, although I am not sure I have seen this. I will look on youtube
10. Cary Grant in North by North West. Actually this is pretty good too.

11. I am actually adding in George Peppard in the Blue Max because the book from which the film was made was actually about alcoholism and I think on reflection Peppard is trying to convey something of this.
12. Peter O’Toole in Murphy’s War
13. Lee Marvin in Shout at the Devil
14. Robert Mitchum in El Dorado

That’s all from me. If you have none to add you can vote straight away. 10 pts for your favourite down to 1 point for your tenth favourite (we do PR here)

Also been trying to think of my ‘6 films you have got to see’ but its actually extraordinarily difficult. Mainly because I am trying to think of not my personal 6 favourites but 6 which I think everyone should see. So far I have only thought of 2.

Finally don’t miss the UK film 1066 which is currently in production. It’s the first UK film ever to be selling shares to the public and it has the biggest cast ever for a UK film. It has Lewis Collins as Earl Godwin too, which should be fun. Perhaps at last he will get some recognition. It also has Mark Lester (remember Oliver!) as King Harold.

Stop Press: there is a competition to win a day on the set of the film 1066: go to and click on ‘Competition’.

Reviews: The Bridges at Toko-Ri, Enter the Void and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

I have been busy over the last few weeks. Have finished Chapter 1 of Iron II and also Chapter 1 of the follow up to Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate. It’s all top secret though so I can’t say anything. Instead here are some reviews of films I have seen lately:

The Bridges of Toko-Ri.
On the face of it just standard 50s Korean War drama starring William Holden and Grace Kelly. But look again. Apparently Holden only took the part on the understanding that the books sad ending would not be changed by the Director. And it pays off. I haven’t read the book but it must be very thoughtful. Holden’t character, Harry Brubaker was a hero pilot in WWII and then became a lawyer. However he is called up to fly jets in Korea and gets involved in the mission to bomb a set of bridges which are a key supply route from China and consequently very heavily defended. You might think aha 633 Squadron all over again but no – the film veers away from that kind of feat of daring-do. Instead we find out that Holden’s character is afraid of fighting. He has a wife, Nancy – ably played in one of her last films by Grace kelly, and two children and he just has too much to lose. Also he can’t understand why he has been called up when his status was completely inactive when reservists are still at home. Is it something to do with his ace-status? We never find out but he is ‘adopted’ by the admiral on-board who’s dead son, Holden reminds him of. As the mission approached both Harry and Nancy seem to have a premonition that his time is up and both try to prepare for it. The film subtly builds up this expectation and it becomes really quite dark when Harry storms out of the briefing after apparently having a breakdown looking directly into the camera. Its quite a disturbing moment. The film did win an Oscar – but for the special effects. Holden actually learned to taxi a jet on the carrier-deck, and being a fan of planes, I noticed how real it seemed even before I knew this fact. However Holden should have won an Oscar too.

The final scene is the most curious of the whole movie. I can’t give it away but it ends so abruptly, that you feel cheated. I am not sure if this was deliberate but it has a strange effect.

I hadn’t seen this film for many years but remembered it as a favourite when I was a kid although I couldn’t think why. Was just expecting a lazy Saturday afternoon film viewing but I have found myself thinking about it quite a bit since.

Enter the Void.
Set in modern Tokyo, I thought this was a Japanese film because of the outrageous title sequence – one of the weirdest I have ever seen. Bright flashing signs representing the credits moving way to fast to read in some kind of psychedelic blur. Fortunately it is followed by a more sane version. This initial sequence is a a foretaste of what is to come. The movie has a simple story – boy without parents becomes drug-addict and gets shot dealing, just after his sister comes to stay with him and becomes a stripper. His last trip is a fantastic dip into the best that special-effects can do these days and provides an oddyssey that gives a clue as to the course of the rest of the film.
That’s about it really. But then 90 percent of the movie unfolds as an out-of-body experience and its very cleverly done. It definitely has an eery quality to it and its very effective on the out-of-body stuff. I found it very enjoyable and quite provocative. My only criticism, and it is slight, is that it hints at feelings the boy has and a kind of philosophy of the director but ducks-and-dives with both, leaving the end ambiguous.

The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg
Well, this has a very young Catherine Deneuve so you know you are probably in for a treat. Directed by jacques Demi, a lot has been written about this film so it had a lot to look up to when I watched it. And I have to say it didn’t disappoint.
The main point about this movie is that it is a standard sad love story but done in a limited, but colourful palate, rather like advertising posters and packaging in the 60s, and every word is sung.

I wouldn’t say there is a great deal of scope for deep acting here: the focus is on the singing but the story is touching and the acting is good enough to engage you. The melodies and choice of dialogue are subtle – not too complicated but with enough variation to keep it from being a standard ‘musical’ It’s more like an opera. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I did find the audio track a little strident in places but this is a minor criticism.