Monthly Archives: August 2013

Ruthless People and favourite movie idiots – 107

Ruthless People

Sam and Mark talk over Kevin Smith’s second feature “Mallrats” and their favourite movie gadgets. And the inevitable Batman-Affleck discussion.

The first 6 James Bond books by Ian Fleming in a nutshell

Casino Royale
A ridiculously good read from a first-time author, reeking of seemingly authentic detail, and gripping from page 1. The whole setup builds the tension nicely, and it just sticks there like a piece of meat in the throat that was just a bit too big to swallow… I find the tension dissipates a fair bit after Le Chiffre is gone and things disintegrate between Bond and Vesper. Terrific final, bitter line from Bond though.

Live and Let Die

Damn, this is a great thriller. Yes, it’s got some old fashion racism, but it’s more the patronising kind than the degrading kind, and Fleming draws out the character of Mr Big as probably the most intelligent Bond villain after Blofeld. Read it, and you’ll get a view on the African-American life from an Englishman from the last 1950s.

This is a terrific thriller, and the last 4 or 5 chapters are total pageturners to the end.

This is my favourite Bond novel, closely followed by the fantastic You Only Live Twice.

Moonraker

The third novel featuring James Bond has Bond working entirely in England, first helping M out in a private matter involving card cheating, where the cheat is the industrialist Hugo Drax. It then moves on to Bond being part of the security for a massive, important project masterminded by Drax, the building of an atomic-warhead rocket called Moonraker, built to protect England.

But not everything is what it seems, as the man has a staff of 50 German technicians (this is set maybe 7-8 years after WW2) and a proclivity to megalomania…

Really nice, direct thriller, with Bond suffering and trying in desperate circumstances to outwite this mad genius. Very low-key in places, but very enjoyable. Fleming is a great one for producing a page-turner when the narrative and story is simple and direct.

Diamonds are Forever
This is a relatively weak entry in the series. He still writes vividly and excitingly, and it’s cool that it’s partly set in Las Vegas, but it suffers from some weaknesses. It isn’t a great ending (it’s adequate), and Bond really misses some obvious clues near the end about men after him without him noticing them – Fleming wrote it in such a way it was blindingly obvious to the reader, but Bond somehow missed it, and he comes across as a bit dopey for missing obvious things. Still a pretty good read though.

From Russia With Love

Wow, this is a terrific read. Whilst it is mostly the same story as the movie, this book goes into details in a compelling, gripping way. We find out much more about how Red Grant became the chief executioner for SMERSH, for example, and get more backstory about the evilness of Rosa Klebb. Fleming write with a vividness, turn of phrase and seeming authenticity that makes this a real page-turner.

Whilst I still think Live and Let Die is my favourite of the books so far, this is the one that seems the best written. I can see why JFK rated it in his top ten books.

Doctor No

Fleming follows up his excellent From Russia With Love with this, a book that I think is his most exciting, straightforward, and intense book. This should be the book they show under the dictionary definition of ‘page-turner’. I can see why they chose this as the first movie. Simple plot and premise, but hell is Bond up against it in this one. It’s funny how they actual toned down some of the elements of this for the movie, because they were sadistic. For example, in the movie, Bond makes an escape and has to crawl through venting tubes and face heat, rushing water and dangerous drops. In the book, he’s being deliberately put through an assault course of pain and terror by Doctor No, for ‘scientific research’.

I really enjoyed this, I think it’s the darkest of Fleming’s books.

Star Trek (The Original Series) Season 1, Episode 2: Charlie X

Very good episode, involving the crew picking up a teenager that has survived alone on a planet that he shouldnt have been able to, and trying to teach him how to interact with others. During the course of the journey it becomes obvious he has powerful psychic abilities, and is as unstable as any teenager…

Very enjoyable, with the lovesick Charlie mooning about after Yoeman Rand, and then getting more and more frustrated with everyone and doing odd assorted things to people (he turns a girl into an iguana, or makes people’s faces turn into a formless, empty piece of flesh). He doesn’t kill any red shirts though (though he makes a guy in a red judo suit disintegrate into thin air). We also get Uhura singing a song making fun of Spock whilst he plays a harp, and Kirk, topless and wearing red tights in the weirdest gymnasium I’ve ever seen.

This story structure (a powerful being having psychic control over the enterprise, ending with a very, very well-known twist that everyone knows from Star Trek) was used several times in the original series, with Charlie X and The Squire of Gothos being the most well-known examples of this particular story.

Very enjoyable episode. To put it in our list of best first

1. Charlie X
2. The Man Trap

Star Trek (The Original Series) The Man Trap SEASON 1, EPISODE 01

Wiki Entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Trap

Reasonable, but not outstanding, episode, chosen by the TV executives as the one to open the series. There’s been debate why they chose this, as it’s not quite as exciting as some of the other early episodes they could have gone with, but it’s serviceable, and has some decent dramatic tension. One thing that is really outstanding and surprising about this and the other early episodes is how much they’re getting right – the whole Kirk/McCoy/Spock dynamic is in place right from the get-go, and this episode shows them off nicely. It also has Uhura doing quite a lot of lines, and setting her character up in an interesting way. She baits Spock about being tired of hearing the word ‘frequency’ and starting to feel like part of the equipment. I liked that little scene.

We also see Yoeman Rand and Sulu off the bridge – Sulu has got some weird plants, I can tell you.

And whilst some crew members die, none of them are wearing red

I’m watching the new remastered version of these series, and they do look quite spectacular – this is a nice restoration.

I’m not going to score these ones, I think I’m just going to start putting each and every episode into my favourite order, highest first, and I’ll ignore the Pike-centric pilot that was never aired. So to start:

1. The Man Trap

James Bond 6 – Odd One Out 039

Timothy Dalton

The next 3 James Bond movies:

  • A View to a Kill
  • The Living Daylights
  • Licence to Kill

Mallrats and favourite movie gadgets – 106

Mallrats

Sam and Mark talk over Kevin Smith’s second feature “Mallrats” and their favourite movie gadgets.

2001 and 2010 – Odd One Out 038

2001
Podcast about 2001: A Space Odyssey, and its sequel, 2010.

The Iron Giant and Top 5 Favourite cartoons – 105

The Iron Giant

Mark and Sam talk at length about their true feelings about Twilight, their favourite cartoon shows and the possibly perfect Iron Giant

James Bond 5 – Odd One Out 037

Never Say Never Again

The next 3 James Bond movies:

  • For Your Eyes Only
  • Octopussy
  • Never Say Never Again

Bubba Ho-Tep and Top 5 Favourite Actor-Character Combinations – 104

Bubba Ho Tep

Mark and Sam have a short Comfy Chair section this week, but get into who are their favourite characters with a definitive actor associated with them, and Bubba Ho-Tep

Electra Glide In Blue 60/100 Blake is good, but some scenes are bloated and silly. Looks great though.

Electra Glide in Blue

A movie that seems to be considered as part of the whole “great movies of the 70s” block, but it seems overrated. Robert Blake is absolutely solid and rather great in the central performance, and there is some great cinematography, but some of the scenes are bloated, pretentious and silly. The worst is a scene where Blake’s new boss takes him to meet his woman, who by coincidence Blake is seeing…and what ensues is a scene that feels like a poorly written attempt at Tennessee Williams’ dialogue done in an overheated way.

Bits of this movie were tiresome, but some of it was interesting, and it feels somewhat like a version of Easy Rider done from a cop’s perspective. Those bits I liked.

Probably one to see, but not one to revere.