Movies/TV


When I was young I spent my Saturday mornings in our ‘TV room’, watching cartoons (and this may help to explain how I got to be the way I am…). There wasn’t anything else on TV on Saturday mornings (well, perhaps the other channel, though quite snowy, would be broadcasting stale news); the cartoon characters below are some of the most memorable (and a couple I only recall because of their odd names):

Loopy De Loop

Tennessee Tuxedo & Chumley

Atom Ant

Quick Draw McGraw (aka El Kabong), & Snuffles, his dog

Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mole

Squiddly Diddly

Ricochet Rabbit & Droop-A-Long Coyote

Peter Potamus

Super Snooper and Blabber Mouse

Dudley Do-Right

Snagglepuss

Commander McBragg

Top Cat

 

Touché Turtle & Dum Dum

Yosemite Sam

Deputy Dawg

The Mighty Heros (Strong Man, Rope Man, Tornado Man & Diaper Man)

..

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My daughter (Brynne) and I saw the latest Studio Ghibli movie, The Secret World of Arrietty, yesterday. Brynne is a huge fan of Hayao Miyazaki/Ghibli movies.

Arrietty was adapted by Hayao Miyazaki from Mary Norton’s novel, The Borrowers. The movie was directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, a long-time Ghibli animator. The ‘borrowers’ are actually ‘takers’, but they’re quite tiny and take very little, so I’ll give them a pass…

I always enjoy the animation of a Ghibli film, but I find that the stories can feel disjointed (perhaps the Japanese tell tales differently than I’m used to); this film, however, was a smooth plot from beginning to ending. The story itself was simple, except for the fact that there were miniature (ten centimeter high) people living under the floorboards of a home, but it was presented in a manner that made the mundane feel magical. There was no ‘good versus evil’ of the usual Disney film; instead, the story was an innocent, first-but-hopeless love story between Arrietty and the sickly young Shawn (a normal-sized boy) amid some humor and conflict (the conflict was mainly initiated by the housekeeper who also provided comic relief).

I paid particular attention to the art and was quite impressed: the details in the background scenery were spectacular, there were vibrant colors throughout, and I really appreciated the look of the 2D work: it felt warmer, richer and even had more depth than the typical 3D work that is the standard these days. The animation had a surreal quality that was appealing.

Brynne thoroughly enjoyed the movie: she placed in within the top five or so of Miyazaki’s movies, but it didn’t topple any of her favorite three (which are, in no particular order, Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Princess Mononoke).

I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Miyazaki’s works, or anyone who enjoys an animated feature that doesn’t rely on evil villains, explosions, or high-octane excitement.

I watched the movie version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy yesterday (it’s based on the John le Carré novel).

It was well done and followed the book faithfully. I had a few small quibbles, but nothing that ruined the film at all.

At first, I didn’t like the casting of Gary Oldman as George Smiley: he doesn’t suit my vision (and I’m not sure who would); but, after shaking my head in consternation once,  I decided that a movie is a different medium than the book and I should get over it. Oldman did a fine job.

The acting was first-rate, and the mood of the film fit the story well.

 

It wasn’t a luminous movie, but it was very good. I’m not sure how cohesive it would be if a viewer hadn’t read the book, but I was able to follow the story easily (I always prefer to read the book before watching its movie version. After watching this movie I want to re-read the novel).

Recommended

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is celebrating its 75th anniversary today. I’ve never watched much CBC TV (except for Hockey Night in Canada, of course), but their FM radio programs (now referred to as CBC Radio 2) were my companions for twenty years while commuting to work and back; in fact, I garnered a fair comprehension of classical and jazz music during the commutes. I don’t listen to CBC radio as much as I used to (the programming has changed, I suppose to appeal to a younger audience), but I fully appreciate the music I was exposed to for those lonely trips to work and back.

Congratulations to the CBC on 75 years of quality programming!

Click on the Logo to see CBC’s Logo retrospective…

I’m a bit behind the technological changeover to the world of eBooks (I’ve read a grand total of 1), but if you have a portable device (or like to read on your PC), check out  Project Gutenberg, which is an on-line resource that  offers free eBooks (over 36,000 titles); it is a volunteer run site and the eBooks are offered free because their copyrights have expired.

Another great site — especially if you enjoy old black and white movies (look under Moving Images on the site) — is The Internet Archive 

A few weeks ago, I was asked who my first hero was (and a family member was not an acceptable answer). I thought for a while. And then I paused a while longer before admitting that it had to be Race Bannon from Jonny  Quest.

Not only was my hero fictional, but he was a cartoon character. However, as the ‘woman of mystery’ Jezebel Jade (the only female character to appear in more than one episode) said, “There’s only one Race Bannon.” This particular quote was from the Double Danger episode, where the evil Dr. Zin created a Race Bannon double, and Ms. Jade could tell him apart by his kiss (interestingly, the ersatz Race Bannon was wearing a different style of shirt, but nobody noticed).

Roger T. ‘Race’ Bannon was a special agent (from Intelligence One), a bodyguard (for Dr. Benton C. Quest, Jonny’s father, and “…one of the three top scientists in the world.”), and pilot (I think he could fly anything). Race had a third-degree black-belt in judo, as well as an uncanny ability to overpower renowned martial arts specialists in a variety of disciplines (and even a sumo wrestler).

It was an unusual cartoon for the times: it depicted realistic scenes and human facial features. There was very little ‘animation’ (most likely a budget limitation), but my imagination was more than able to fill in for the lack of realistic movement, and I still recall the thrill I felt as a young boy when the Jonny Quest opening theme began…

The script for The Joy Machine, by Theodore Sturgeon (who wrote many excellent short stories, and two mediocre Star Trek episodes; Amok Time, and Shore Leave), was never used as a Star Trek episode (the script of  The Joy Machine was novelized by James Gunn).

In The Joy Machine, the Enterprise is dispatched to a leisure planet that has cut communication with the Federation. Several Federation agents were sent to the planet, but they all disappeared without a trace. Also missing is one of Captain Kirk’s many ‘old flames’.

It turns out that the planet’s inhabitants are now blissfully controlled by a computer. Sounds original…

Sturgeon’s Revelation (often referred to as Sturgeon’s Law) is a maxim attributed to a Theodore Sturgeon quote: “Ninety percent of everything is crap;” therefore, the abundance of low-quality works in science fiction is similar to any other artistic endeavour.

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