Daily Archives: 02/21/2004

Recent Media Consumption

Seems like ages since I posted anything about watch I’ve been watching and reading lately, so let’s get that off the plate right now:

  • Movies & Television
    • Logan’s Run – Watched it this afternoon. A fast paced sci-fi adventure, with a dire warning of what could happen in our youth obsessed culture. After watching the entire movie I realized there’s not a single black or oriental person in the cast of hundreds. Hmm. Looks like the future turns out all white.
    • Never Cry Wolf – A great little film, full of beautiful photography and natural vistas. It goes out of its way to paint civilization in a bad light, and sings the praises of the frozen tundra. Watch this movie and write your congressman about protecting the ANWR.
    • 28 Days Later – It bogs down in the last act, but the opening scenes of a desolate, depopulated London are chilling.
    • Pirates Of The Caribbean – Better than I expected. Fun in a cartoony way. But why is this children’s movie well over two hours long? For that matter, why are so many movies so damn long these days? Is there a shortage of editors in Hollywood?
    • Buena Vista Social Club – Okay, but I was pretty bored by the movie documentary. I prefer the album.
    • The Man From Snowy River – This is a great adventure story, with the added pleasure of watching Kirk Douglas chew the scenery in two roles. The roundup at the end of the movie is riveting stuff.
    • Falling Down – Hey, it’s Kirk Douglas’ son Michael going postal on Los Angeles. Pretty grim when I think about it, but I admit I laughed at the situations Michael Douglas keeps getting into – especially the bit on the golf course.
    • The Black Stallion – I loved this movie when I was a kid. I couldn’t get enough of it. Beautiful film, with a lovely score by Carmine Coppola. The best part is when the boy and the horse are marooned on the desert island. Absolutely gorgeous stuff. And you never even notice that nary a word is spoken for over a half hour.
    • Avalon – Good. Not as good as Diner (which I watched about two months ago), but good. America is great, but television stole the soul of our people. I couldn’t agree more. Barry Levinson’s done a good thing with his Baltimore movies.
    • Existenz – An interesting, squishy sci-fi, cyberpunky sort of thing.
    • The Last Temptation Of Christ – It’s a pale shadow of Nikos Kazantzakis novel, but I admire Martin Scorsese for tackling such a sensitive subject. I remember the furor over this film’s release, as the Catholic Church condemned the film and various television evangelists launched a crusade against the defamation of the Gospels, without ever once viewing the film. Reminds me of the current brouhaha over Mel Gibson’s Passion, though this time it is the liberals crying foul and the religious authorities defending the film. Funny how the wheel turns isn’t it?
    • The Great Train Robbery – Fun crime caper adventure. It looked like Sean Connery really was running around on top of a moving train. Gutsy move by a major actor.
    • Children Of A Lesser God – Powerful story. Funny, I’d never seen the movie. I watched the play a few years ago, but this was my first time watching Marlee Matlin and John Hurt together.
  • Books
    • The Third Wave – Alvin Toffler’s groundbreaking work of futurist thought. I read this in high school almost twenty years ago, and it is amazing how much he foresaw has come to pass.
    • Watership Down – Richard Adam’s story of dispossessed rabbits and their struggle to find a safe new home is a good one. I read this when I was a kid and couldn’t resist checking it out of the library a few weeks ago. An high adventure of small scale and great import for us humans.
    • The Temple Of The Golden Pavilion – Mishima’s story of beauty and impotence and the pent up rage of the powerless.
    • Fast Food Nation – Makes me scared to eat at McDonald’s. Eric Schlosser wrote a chilling account of our addiction to fast food, and the environmental, social, economic and health costs it entails.
    • Gai-Jin – Classic work of historical fiction by James Clavell. I just started this yesterday, so not much to say about it yet.

Obviously, I’ve been watching a great deal of movies lately. I guess it’s easier to relax in front of the television after work instead of reading a book.

Ursula Le Guin Q&A

One of my favorite authors, Ursula Le Guin, recently participated in an online Q&A session with readers from Great Britain. The Guardian edited the transcripts and posted them online. Excellent stuff, and some good insight on Le Guin’s thinking and creative process.

And if you are at all interested, check out some of her novels like The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed, The Lathe of Heaven or her many Earthsea books. I’d recommend starting with the original trilogy; A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, and The Farthest Shore. These books really moved me when I was a kid. I intend to reread them a little later this year, along with some of Le Guin’s newer stuff.

The Q&A session is fascinating stuff, revealing how she thinks up the stories and what inspires her. I certainly didn’t know that she translated Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching and is an avowed Taoist, though I guess it makes sense reading her novels.