Summer films are supposed to be good for distraction, nothing more than that; however World War Z is sewer water at best. The plot is derivative, the development tedious and, most disappointing of all, the tension non-existent. Once again, it’s all about the effects, thousands of zombies like moving ants.More disappointing is Kon-Tiki, a wonderful story by explorer Thor Heyerdahl, which is fictionalized badly with laughable changes from real life to make the characters less than they are and a stupid amount of sharks. Both of these films suffer from the disease of CGI, essentially denied the artistic magic of what to do if your shark/zombie doesn’t work.
I’ll just have to miss out on the rest of this summer fare – The Lone Ranger, Man of Steel and Elysium – and watch Jaws, Alien and Dog Day Afternoon instead.
Robert Heinlein’s Orphans of the Sky is a most terrible book.
The characters are ridiculous and flat, the setting is barren while the prose are plodding, and that’s putting it nicely. On the few occasions when the scientist priests who ruled the ship under Jordan’s Captain met in full assembly they gathered in a great hall directly above the Ship’s offices on the last civilized deck.(93)
The plot elements and unimaginative prose are indeed so bad as to remind me of my own work as 12-year-old when I concocted the Secret Spitballer’s Society series and for which Mr. Bacon regularly gave me grades of “C” and lower. I only wrote two installments before abandoning ship.
To top it off, there isn’t a single woman in Orphans of the Sky, that is until the final ten pages when the heroes escape to a planet and remember the need for procreation. Hugh’s younger wife bore a fresh swelling on her lip as if someone had persuaded her with a heavy hand. (120) Keep those damned women out of the way. (122)
In the midst of a four-day conference on engineering the pitch, I take stock of where I am, in a complex of multi-use studios where others act, dance and sing, an ideal location for a Robert Altman film. The starting point of the conference is a work-shop circle, focusing on editing the pitch, ensuring the set, hook, complications, plot points and cliff hangar are in place, re-writing that again and again until the essence of my bad side is razor sharp or dead. The second and third days are devoted to pitch sessions, the first done in front of the group, the second and third in one-on-one speed meetings with my group leader as coach. There is a lot of sitting and staring, waiting for the door to open and my chance to go in. And when that comes – in the room for a second, maybe two – I can’t remember any of it except that I had said something about not wanting to change my sex and then went on about the wonder of science fiction, which my book isn’t, in other words, the bits that I would like to have back. Another session awaits, another chance to shine or collapse, and of course regret everything in the end.
The Partridge Family is a dated show (1970-74) – the setup, characters, story arc, yes, even the songs, all pure camp. And yet the magic of the show persists, some kind of secret of innocence left…
Shirley Partridge singing pure
The elixir found in the transitions, the brief seconds of music that open the show, take it in and out of commercials, right the way through… Pure, oddly so, opening an alternate world of interior childlike rhythms, proclaimed out loud, walking in the door, down the stairs…not to mention a loving mom looking over all.
The All-Knowing Shirley Partridge
It’s not often an athlete waxes any eloquence, more rarely so as Shakespearean in their use of repetition as Allen Iverson was some 10 years ago. “We’re talking about practice. Not a game, not a game, not a game. We’re talking about practice.” “Not a game, not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game. We’re talking about practice, man.”