Tuesday, December 7, 2021

A Trek Forty-Two Years Ago Today

Last evening I was reminded by a tweet that Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released forty-two years ago today. How could I have forgotten? It was a memorable night.

Picture a dozen teenagers meeting at the big picture house to see one of the most anticipated pictures ever. Try and imagine our disappointment when the end credits rolled: not that we wanted the show to go on, but more a case of "that was it?"; or as friend Mike said after he turned to me from the seat to my left: "I thought it would be better than that."

The next morning I shuffled to the living room, where siblings were watching "Wink of an Eye". Is this some sort of joke? An editorial on what I saw last night? You thought this episode was bad? Last night's event flick made "Wink of an Eye" look like a masterpiece?

The passage of time has been kind to ST:TMP.

Monday, December 6, 2021

A Double Feature Challenge (Rescreening)

Watching a home-programmed double feature of Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams movies is easy. We know what we're getting.

On the weekend I went random, self-programming two disparate, in time and place (and style), narrative feature films.

Beyond the Time Barrier (1960 - Edgar Ulmer)
True Stories (1986 - David Byrne)

The first picture I saw a few times in my childhood as it played often on television and at least once at my local movie theatre (the Astral in CFB Borden, Ontario). Watching it as an adult makes one appreciate its themes. For a child it was more about the interesting visual stylings, and chills. (Those horrific mutants.) The environmental theme is up front: testing of nuclear weapons 'back' in the early 1970s led to a horrible plague, all but decommissioning the human race. The survivors moved underground; the human birthrate eventually dropped to zero. There's more, all leading to a memorable ending -- I remembered it for decades. This time, Beyond was better overall than I had remembered it being. The passage of time helped. By the way, the X-80 rocket plane, which flies star Robert Clarke to the astounding year 2024, is in fact a Convair F-102 Delta Dagger.

In the mid 1980s I was a bit of a fan of the band Talking Heads, so it made sense that when band leader David Byrne released his True Stories I would arrive at Toronto's (now gone) Uptown Theatre with bells on. I left slightly disappointed. About a dozen years ago I gave the film another shot, this time on VHS. The loosely connected stories about the quirky but human inhabitants of a fictitious Texas town called Virgil resonated more with this viewer that time around. Spinning the Criterion 2018 DVD release made me appreciate True Stories even more. And there're those always cool Talking Heads tunes.

After my double feature finished I realized that both flicks were filmed in Texas. True Story.

PS: What's next? Maybe Aguirre, the Wrath of God and The Endless Summer.

A Forever Question: Key

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. Is there a passcode to enter the afterlife?

Sunday, December 5, 2021

CD: The Definitive Benny Goodman

The Definitive Benny Goodman

Sony Music Entertainment Inc.

CD: Music from the Hammer Films (TPO)

Music from the Hammer Films
- James Bernard, Christopher Gunning, David Whitaker -

The Philharmonia Orchestra
conducted by
Neil Richardson

Silva Screen Records Ltd.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Book: The Brothers Grimm (Grimm)

The Brothers Grimm
- 101 Fairy Tales -

Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm

Canterbury Classics

Book: Last Stop, The Twilight Zone (Engel)

Last Stop, The Twilight Zone
- The Biography of Rod Serling -

Written by Joel Engel

Antenna Books
(this version)

Book: John Cassavetes Interviews (Oldham)

John Cassavetes
- Interviews -

Edited by
Gabriella Oldham

University Press of Mississippi

Picturing: Pigeons' Obsession

By the time I managed to pull out my camera quite a few pigeons had left the scene. I'm not sure why they were going so squirrelly for this patch of soil. They made a lot of noise.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Film Design: Science Laboratory - Earliest Sketches (Repeat)

Yesterday I posted a piece about my search for a set flat painted pattern. Film Design: Set Wall Panel Patterns featured some of my sketches for a television pilot/demo I independently produced a few years ago.

Affixed above is a very early set sketch for the same show and illustrates how the flats would be positioned in the studio. The flats at this point "floated" and were not interconnected -- that came later. Over pints of beer with a friend (and production partner) I recounted the Time Tunnel set from the old, and very bad, Irwin Allen television series The Time Tunnel.  I liked the idea of a laboratory accessed by some sort of bridge or walkway, which informed my first approach.

My Time Tunnel sketch (click to enlarge)....

And the science laboratory idea from my own project....

Monday, November 29, 2021

A Forever Question: Pomp and Circumstance

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. In the animal world, are cats royalty?

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Documentary on Elwy Yost is Now Streaming

Last night TVOntario premiered its one-hour documentary Magic Shadows, Elwy Yost: A Life in Movies. It was good, the subject matter helped, but it could have been twenty or thirty minutes longer. While I very much like the one-hour doc format -- it works for many subjects -- it can suffer from a broken and fragmented structure when trying to cover a lot of ground.

But, it's definitely worth watching. For those of us who watched faithfully the OECA/TVO programmes Magic Shadows and Saturday Night at the Movies, the memory circuits flooded and oozed last night.

Sunday Fun: Toronto's Got Snow!

This reminded me that last winter Toronto did not get a lot of snow. There were no snowstorms... and no cold snaps, outside of the odd cold day. Apparently, this year we are targeted for more of the white stuff and ice stuff.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

A Special Documentary to Air This Coming Saturday

Magic Shadows, Elwy Yost: A Life in Movies is to air on Saturday, November the 27th. And I'm to sit in front of my "tube" tuned to TVOntario at 8pm Toronto time (ET).

Two weeks ago I wrote a little piece on this hot doc. 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Scanning: Theatre Books Book Marker

Theatre Books was a pretty wonderful go-to place for those of us who worked in "the arts" here in this great city. When I moved to Toronto in 1984 someone alerted me to this bookstore. Trying not to spend too much money there was the hard part. I was in film school, after all, and that was priority, but I did lay down some mid-eighties currency to grab those books which I considered essential and relevant to my studies, like: the American Cinematographer Manual.

In 1992 Theatre Books moved a short distance, to a grand house on St. Thomas Street, where it stayed for years. Spadina Avenue, just north of King Street, became home in 2012. I visited, but the digs were much more conservative, the booklist much tighter. One day while doing some business down in that area, I decided to pop by and it was gone. A couple of pleasant young gents who ran a clothing store next door told me that Theatre Books had closed down suddenly, but the rumour was it would resurface somewhere else. That never happened.

One day last week I pulled a book from one of my bookshelves and a certain marker brought back memories. By the way, the layout on that book marker is pretty rough... this I noticed while preparing the scan.

Postscript: Toronto Star article on Theatre Books' closing....

A Forever Question: On the Wrist

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. Would a watch be best called a "glance"?

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Sunday Fun: It's the World We Live in Now

I was at my laptop. I had the device plugged into some a/c (alternating current).

As it had been plugged in since early this morning I thought I should check to see where the recharge was at....

I swear it said: "Fully vaxxed (100%)"

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Toronto Sun Letters Comment of the Day

Many of us let the Toronto Sun twist and fizzle in its grief. While these meltdowns at Toronto's simplest 'newspaper' play out, we enjoy the letters editor's comments on a daily basis.

My favourite today:

"(He’s unserious and has already done so much damage to our country and will continue to do so as long as he is in office)"

I must be living somewhere else....

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Russia Tests a New Anti-Satellite Missile

Did you read that bold headline the way I did?

My ideas for a better headline....

Recording captures the moment ISS crew scramble to escape-pods

Recording captures the moment ISS crew scramble to 'escape pods'

Recording captures the moment ISS crew scramble to Escape Pods