“Riddick” vs. “Star Trek: Into Darkness”

The money piled onto J. J. Abrams’ lap for the sequel to the first “Star Trek” re-boot did us no favors.

What happens when Hollywood plies a talented director with money?  It’s rather hard not to resist piling on the special effects, like a little boy who is suddenly given too much candy.  Result:  less human story.

Which is sad!  “Into Darkness” opened with a pointless chase scene on a planet over-run by natives (When oh when will Hollywood ever get over the need to fetishize alien cultures by portraying them as mud-slathered savages) and had Spock suiting up in a suit that looked like something from a New York Fashion Week catwalk.  Ridiculous!  Spock should always be in uniform, at least the first sight of him should be.  He is the most cerebral character in the world.  No, we do not want to see him in action mode.  We want to see him snuggling up to Bambi!  Er, to Uhura!

On to discussion of “Riddick,” which is the second sequel to “Pitch Black.”

“Pitch Black” was a very inventive movie.  It had a “look.”

The first sequel, “Chronicles of Riddick,” was also gorgeous to look at.  Thandy Newton and Karl Urban had opportunity to wear the most fabulous costumes.  It also had Judi Dench floating around like a cloud, but her costume unfortunately was limited to white, vaguely Biblical attire.

Now to the sequel to the sequel, “Riddick.”

“Riddick” was on a much leaner budget than “Star Trek: Into Darkness” (naturally, since “Chronicles of Riddick” was a dud — in fact, self considers it a miracle of tenacity that “Riddick” was made at all) and the first half is pure theater.  Unfortunately, one cannot have Vin Diesel alone for an entire movie.  He has to engage in human interaction at some point, and self thinks it was extremely witty to have him, first, calling the hunters to him (as one of the mercs later says:  “He called a taxi”) by self-identifying and beaming out to the universe his presence on a planet we know only as “Not Furya.”  Naturally, this bit of chutzpah calls forth every two-bit merc in the vicinity, and we soon have two groups battling each other for the honor of putting Riddick’s head in a box.

And then there’s Katee Sackhoff who appears with the second group of mercs and keeps referring to the leader as “Boss,” which is interesting as she seems very “no-nonsense” and “take-charge” and calling someone “Boss” even though he actually IS a boss seems antithetical to the character.  But anyhoo.

Because of a rather limited budget, what happens is the characters never get off-planet.  This is great!  This is wonderful!

There is much macho posturing.  Also great!

There is an extended bathing scene involving Sackhoff, which reveals that this woman has quite a sultry figure (not apparent in “Battlestar Galactica,” the TV series which brought her recognition), and that her hairdo really sets off her neck and shoulders very nicely.  Super great!

After this bath scene (In the future, every movie and TV show should feature a bath scene, like the pivotal one in “Game of Thrones” Season 3 Episode 5), Riddick can be forgiven for — Heavens! — actually FLIRTING with Dahl.

Flirting is wonderful.  Especially in the middle of a David Twohy film.

All in all, “Riddick” gave self quite a pleasurable two hours.  Also because it was preceded by a preview for Keanu’s new movie, “47 Ronin,” which caused self’s jaw to drop all the way to the floor (The awesomeness of lines like:  “THEIR armies are infinite. And we are . . . 47 ronin!”)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Most Scintillating Quote (of Yesterday): Mick LaSalle, SF Chronicle

The past is always romantic because it’s gone, just as the future is always frightening because you‘re gone.

—  Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle movie critic, in a review of Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris”

Self read this sentence last night, but she only got around to quoting it today —  apologies, dear blog readers.  Self has had such a stimulating day:  Hubby was a veritable dynamo of energy, and took her to new dim sum place on site of erstwhile Joy Luck, on 4th Street in downtown San Mateo, where he had her get a succulent dish of crackling self-knows-not-what kind of animal deep-fried skin and self, never one to turn down crackling animal skin of any kind, accepted, whereupon the dish turned out to be “suckling pig,” and cost $16.95 for eight slices.

Nevertheless, we did not allow such a small thing to de-rail our good humor.  Following the most expensive dim sum meal self has ever ingested in at least 10 years, we went to Marina Mart in Foster City and bought a 25-lb. sack of long grain rice, which according to self’s rough calculations should last about six months — that is, unless son visits and invites his friends over for barbecue or for steak fondue, in which case the 25-lb. sack of rice will last about a month, but that is a small price to pay for the pleasure of son’s company.

Then hubby took self to the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos (There is a very interesting air show on June 17 -19, the “Vertical Challenge Helicopter Air Show”).

Then we passed by for some fro-yo at Harmony Frozen Yogurt on Laurel Street in San Carlos (which just happened to be having a sale:  small blueberry frozen yogurt with one topping, $1.95)

Anyhoo, self was still on some kind of high after watching Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” so she let her restless fingers wander over to Rotten Tomatoes, where she saw the film had a 92% freshness rating (Well deserved:  EVERYONE in the Menlo Park Guild was laughing, pretty much from the first to the last scene.  Self hasn’t enjoyed a movie performance as much as she enjoyed Owen Wilson’s, not in a long, long time  —  perhaps not since watching Zach Quinto in the “Star Trek” re-boot, and as dear blog readers are painfully aware, that movie was in a galaxy a long time ago and far far away …  J. J. Abrams, quit with the “Mission Impossible” sequels already and just make another Star Trek!)

While self is on the subject of movies, she thinks she’ll just go ahead and post a list of her favorite movies so far in 2011 (She doesn’t think the summer crop of movies will seriously impact this list of faves —  after all, summer = popcorn fare):

  1. “Biutiful” (Javier Bardem stars as a man trying heroically to be a good father and a good husband, in spite of having cancer.  In spite of having a drug-addicted wife who sleeps with his brother.  Need one say more?  Weeper, to the max)
  2. “The Lincoln Lawyer” (Starring the Matthew McConaughey mane, still perfect after 15 years!  With riveting cameo by one of self’s favorite actors, Michael Peña)
  3. “Win Win” (Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Melanie Lynskey as the most fresh-faced drug addict in the entire world, and a newcomer named Alex Shaffer)
  4. “Jane Eyre” (Michael Fassbender/Rochester + Mia Wasikowska/Jane Eyre who has the tiniest, teensiest waist in the whole world + Director Cary Fukunaga = instant Gothic Romance Classic)
  5. “Fast Five” (Paul Walker and his Converse sneakers; Vin Diesel and his cartoon-ish biceps; Jordana Brewster and her indeterminate ethnic beauty; hot young Asian American on the Fast Five team —  sorry, self does not have time to look up his actual name right at this moment = pure escapist fun)
  6. “Midnight in Paris” (See it for the performances:  Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and of course Owen Wilson!)

Self will close with yet another quote from aforementioned critic, Mick La Salle:

Tom Hiddleston is too tall for Scott Fitzgerald, who was just a little bigger than Woody Allen.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Of Note Today, 3rd Wednesday of May (2011): Watching Mel

Self mailed out a piece. It’s one of her short short ones (She’d call it prose poetry, but Zack says her work will stand a better chance if she stops describing it as such — people shy away from anything with the word “poetry” in it, he says. Next time she does a send-out, she might try describing her work as “TransGenre.” She thinks that might have a nicer ring)

Self is in the San Francisco Bay Area, and she actually sees some sun (A miracle!)

Bella, the old beagle, seems uncommonly hungry this evening.

Self saw a movie with Mel Gibson, the one with the strange title, “The Beaver.” It was in one of her favorite theaters, Palo Alto Square off Oregon Expressway. (The other movie showing there was “The Conspirator”, with James McAvoy. But she’s heard terrible things about this movie, just terrible. So, even though James is ever-so-cute, she settled for Mel)

Time was when Mel was absolutely the most gorgeous living man on the planet. Now, he sounds like Michael Caine (She won’t go so far as to say he looks like Michael Caine, for he doesn’t. Not yet, anyway). In fact, self thought Michael Caine might have made a good stand-in for Mel, in this role.

In “The Beaver,” Mel plays the CEO of a toy company (called “Jericho” — Ha ha ha!) and can only communicate with anyone by talking through a hand-held puppet (the “Beaver” of the title). In a very smart ploy, he hands out pre-printed cards that tell people that the puppet has a therapeutic purpose (She thinks the movie called it a “prescription puppet”). When he is not talking through the puppet, he is absolutely miserable, as witness what happens when he and his wife, played by Jodie Foster, celebrate their anniversary at a swank restaurant and she makes him cut out all the beaver foolishness (at least while having dinner). Then he has nothing to do except listen to her earnest pronouncements, and we have nothing to do except gaze at the sad wreck of a face of Mel Gibson.

Then there are some very dark moments towards the end. But all is saved by the presence of the absolutely hot young Jennifer Lawrence, who plays a cheerleader and valedictorian who develops an inexplicable fondness for nerd son of Mel Gibson, played by an unexpectedly tall Anton Yelchin, who self last saw at the console of the starship enterprise, beaming up Spock, Kirk, and all secondary characters in J. J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” re-boot of many moons ago (Self is so tired of waiting for news of a sequel!)

The movie was directed by Jodie Foster and is quite good — at the very least, it gives us another opportunity to ogle Jodie’s tremendous physique — she just looks so strong, so physically strong, like she could blow will-o-the-wisps like Angelina or Maggie Q right out of the water. One of the best things about Spike Lee’s “Inside Man” was watching Jodie march around in tall stilettos, with calves as oiled and sleek as one of Schwarzenegger’s biceps. Ugh, self just realized that’s a terrible comparison. But, dear blog readers get self’s drift.

Alas, self did not arrive early enough to go to the cafeteria in one of the next-door buildings, the one that sells absolutely scrumptious lemon and apricot bars. Instead, self decided to follow the lead of a woman ahead of her at the concession stand, who purchased a box of mini-Nestlé crunches for $3.95. It took self about 15 minutes to gobble the box’s entire contents.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Abigail Licad in CALYX, Volume 26, No. 2

Reading again.

Self was going to post a picture of a freesia that suddenly popped up in her side yard. All orange and red, glowing in Read the rest of this entry »

Oscars 2010, Thoughts at the Halfway Point

And of course, this is the point where hubby (that contrarian) insists we must get started on the taxes. Anyhoo, before he completely succeeds in driving self batty, here are some random thoughts:

  • Sandy Bullock does not look good with red lipstick.
  • Luuuv Anna Kendrick’s pale pink gown (Co-nominee Vera Farmiga’s frilly fuschia gown looks pretty gorgeous as well).
  • Tom Ford seems to be channeling Keanu Reeves.
  • Suzy Amis (former actress — appeared as Gabriel Byrne’s GF in “The Usual Suspects” — and currently Mrs. James Cameron), what has happened to you?
  • Oh, where oh where was Zach Quinto? (When they showed a clip of “Star Trek” during the Best Make-Up category, the clip reminded self all over again why Young Spock was sooo hawwtt!)
  • It doesn’t seem fair that “Up” has won every category it was nominated for (Pixar movies seem to have a lock on Oscars, at least in the past decade!) including Best Musical Score, which self feels strongly should have gone to “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”
  • Poor Amanda Seyfried, having to present with a va-va-va-voom Miley Cyrus!  Who was taller, more bronze-d, and whose gown heretofore served notice that (gulp) Miley Cyrus has quite a voluptuous figure!

So far, three awards for “The Hurt Locker”, two for “Avatar.” They’re neck and neck heading into the home stretch! Quentin, how hard must it be for you to sit through each category where you are nominated, only to see the Award given to a) “The Hurt Locker” or b) “Avatar”? Thank God no one from either of these movies was nominated for “Best Supporting Actor,” which rightfully went to (a pretty hot) Christoph Waltz.

Self was pretty psych-ed that Mark Boal won for his screenplay (for “The Hurt Locker”)! And after listening to Mark Damon’s oh-so-authentic-sounding South African accent in the clips of “Invictus,” self has decided to add the movie to her Netflix queue.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Latest Book Deals (Courtesy of PUBLISHERS WEEKLY 5 March 2010)

Latest e-letter from Publishers Weekly has announcement of the following deals:

Fiction by First-Time Novelists:

  • “Four-time winner of Mexican National Theater Prize for Playwriting,” Sabina Berman’s debut novel The Woman Who Dove Into the Heart of the World, in a translation by Edith Grossman, to Holt for publication in Summer 2011, UK rights to Simon & Schuster UK, “at auction”
  • n + 1  editor Chad Harbach’s first novel, The Art of Fielding, “about love, youth, ambition, family and sports . . .  it tracks a difficult passage in the lives of the college president, his wayward daughter, and a preternaturally talented shortstop and his teammates”, to Little, Brown.
  • Kevin Anderson’s Night of the Living Trekkies, “a mash up mixing a zombie apocalypse with the enduring mythology of Star Trek”, to Quirk Books

General/ Other

  • Susan Woodring’s Goliath, “focusing on the interior lives of a clutch of the town’s citizens, including the scion of the furniture business, whose suicide sets the events of the book in motion, and his secretary and one-time lover whose relationships with her boss, daughter and a gentleman friend animate this novel,” to St. Martin’s “in a pre-empt”

Biography

  • Guggenheim fellow and professor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln Rhonda Garelick’s “exploration of Coco Chanel, Antigone in Vogue, capturing not only the story of Chanel’s life and loves but her impact on 20th century culture,” to Random House

There were other deal announcements, such as Associated Press correspondent Kevin Maurer’s “inside look” at the lives of Special Forces troops in southern Afghanistan, but, alas, too many things are colliding in self’s brain at the moment, and self must now turn to completion of her daily tasks (such as a post office run).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Just In! Just In! Just In!

Hottest fake dialogue between ZQ/Spock and ZS/Uhura ever. Ever.

Check this out on io9.

“Star Trek” can never be the same.

Swoon.

Updates: News and Sundry

Dearest Mum is in Las Vegas.  Yes, dear blog readers, she departed this morning.  And since self did not get a chance to talk to her last night (last she saw of Dearest Mum, she was disappearing into uncle’s house and waving her fingers at self to dismiss her), self knows not what the big brouhaha of last night was.  All self knows is:

  • Last night, after dragging herself home in some confusion (Weren’t she and Dearest Mum supposed to have dinner in Burlingame?  How then did self end up driving to uncle’s house in Daly City, and going home hungry?), she was nevertheless able to end the night on an “up” note, for it just so happened that hubby had cooked himself a humongous steak, and there was still a lot left over when self arrived home.
  • She saw “Star Trek” again today (60-odd people in the theatre with her:  not baaaad for a weekday!).  And Young Spock is still a dreamboat.  And self is pretty sure that at least 3/4 of the audience had seen the movie at least once before.  But they all still laughed at the funny parts.  And some people still clapped at the end!  Is this movie phenomenal or what?
  • She saw gorgeous Channing Tatum in “G. I. Joe” preview:  that’s a movie she definitely wants to see! (Opening Aug. 7!)
  • Hubby said that maybe David Carradine did not kill himself.
  • @@##!!
  • Apparently Carradine’s manager said that no way would Carradine ever have killed himself!  Calling CSI!
  • Self also learned that”Lost” is taping its last season.  Oh, niece G will be just shattered!  She and her Stanford dorm-mates used to have what they called “Lost” weekends:  they’d borrow the tapes from good ol’ Meyer Library and then watch them, a whole season’s worth, in the dorm!

Self also bought a halibut fillet from a vendor at the San Carlos Farmers Market (the one at the end closest to Blockbuster).  It was a little over a pound and cost $18.  But after hubby grilled it on the De Longhi smokeless indoor grill, self was in heeeaven!

Self just loves summer!  Even though today it was a bit cooler than she likes summer to be (and rained last night, what’s up with that?), and six people got electrocuted by a freak lightning storm in San Bernardino County.  Summer is still the best.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Saturday, Downtown RWC: Summer of 2009, How Doth It Fare?

Naturally, hubby and self were there to see a movie —  in our new favorite hang-out, the Century 20!  (Things would be just peachy-keen if Beard Papa were still around.  Now, self has to content herself with buttered popcorn or nachos from the movie concession stand)

“The Brothers Bloom” is an OK movie.  Rachel Weisz as usual acts her heart out.  Mark Ruffalo is supremely charming. (Sometimes hubby gets him confused with Vincent D’Onofrio.  But self never does because Mark Ruffalo is cute!)

Adrien Brody has suuuuch a big nose!  Self means:  it is huge!  She wonders how he negotiates his kissing scenes.  When she remarked on this to hubby, after the movie, he said, “Well, he can’t very well get a nose job now —  since every one knows already what it looks like.”

Yes, but how come self never noticed his nose before?  Like in the “King Kong” movie, for instance?  She never noticed his nose then.  But all of a sudden, here she can’t stop looking at it!

She vaguely remembers reading somewhere that Adrian Brody was once briefly considered for the role of Young Spock in “Star Trek.”  Self tries to imagine him with the pointy ears and the shaved eyebrows.  No, no.  She is sure he wouldn’t have been as compelling as ZQ.

The movie reminded her of something from the sixties.  Trying to be light-hearted, in the vein of such pop movies as “The Yellow Submarine.”  It actually features a heroine who skips.  Self doesn’t think she’s seen the skipping-heroine thing since “Petulia.”  Nowadays, leading women, even when they’re supposed to be playing “young,” do not skip.

The movie took place in such fascinating locales as New Jersey, Montenegro, Prague, and St. Petersburg.  We are asked to believe that the brothers are con men extraordinaire, doing it all for the fun of the con rather than from any real attachment to money.  It was precious.  It was cute.  It reminded self of a Wes Anderson movie.  Let’s just call it:  Wes Anderson-lite.  Adrien Brody should not have been in this movie, as his nose was just too distracting.  There was an amusing Japanese woman whose main function seemed to be to lend the proceedings an air of total wackiness.  She looked greeeeat.  In the movie she was described as an “artist of nitro” —  which we know is true because it did show her practicing by blowing up Barbie figures.

Self thinks that, since she has now seen a good share of currently showing summer movies (with the exception of “Up,” which hubby declares we shall see in 3-D on the morrow, for which happy happy joy joy), she will do a tally sheet of the good, bad, and awful, like so:

  • “Star Trek”:  Hot.  The defining movie of Summer 2009.
  • “Angels & Demons”:  Sooo Not Hot (If only one could transport Ewan McGregor’s sexy priest to another movie)  —   though perhaps self should see a few more summer movies before declaring this the worst movie of 2009.
  • “Terminator:  Salvation”:  Semi-hot, but only because of Sam Worthington and Moon Bloodgood.
  • “Brothers Bloom”:  Dorky.  And dorkiness is not hot.  Unless it refers to Michael Cera.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

George Takei, So Married!

The original Sulu is on Larry King Live right now!

And he looks goood!

He’s been with the same man for 22 years, and got married September 2008. Says it was the happiest day of his life!

He looks sooo happy.

His partner looks like such a nice guy. He talks about how he made George a pot of hot tea on the day they got married (Sweet, sweet. Self wishes hubby would make her breakfast in bed, prepare pots of hot tea etc etc. Perhaps she will make him read this post after he drags himself home from the office. Yeah, better still, she’ll do it right when he’s in the middle of watching an NBA play-off game!)

George says he owes so much to his partner, Brad. Brad helped him care for his mother, who had Alzheimer’s.

I looove his voice. It is surprisingly deep. John Cho’s voice has nothing on Takei’s!

* * *

The other thing self saw on TV today (when she should have been writing — yeah, she knows) was a video of a Filipino kid being stomped by some high school classmates. She didn’t know the kid was Filipino until afterwards, when they interviewed his younger sister. In the video, he’s completely motionless in a school hallway, and about three kids are stomping on him. He doesn’t move. Is he playing dead? Is he unconscious?

The minute the hooligans leave, some kids rush up to aid the motionless student. Judging by the speed with which they appear on-screen, they must have been in the same hallway, just out of sight, probably too afraid to approach.

The incident happened in December 2007. The sister kept quiet, the kid kept quiet, the parents kept quiet. They only came forward when the video surfaced on YouTube this week. The reporter said that the parents are sending the kid back to the Philippines to study “in private school.” (What school would that be? Ateneo? LaSalle? San Beda?)

Hello? Is this a solution?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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