“Maze Runner: The Death Cure”: Dylan O’Brien returns from injury and commands the entire film

Maze Runner: The Death Cure” (directed Wes Ball), the third in the Maze franchise based on James Dashner’s novels (which have gone into the prequel area now) had a delayed release, due to the injury of its charismatic lead actor, Dylan O’Brien as the rebel leader Thomas. There some accounts of this on USAToday, Vanity Fair, and DenofGeek.

The film picks up with the idea that most of the world has been destroyed by a pandemic of the “Flare Virus” which seems to leave its victims scarred as if by severe Kaposi’s Sarcoma as well as turning into rabid zombies. But Thomas, Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Frypan (Dexter Darden) are among the “immune”, as they leave an internment camp to rescue Minho (Ki Hong Lee), held in “the city” in a medical lab where his serum will be used for a cure.

The dystopian world as shown is quite devastated, looking as if there had been widespread war. I thought, this is what Trump may be risking for us with North Korea.

When the kids arrive at the City, they have to find their way around “The Wall” guarding it, which of course reminds me of Trump’s “Build that Wall”.  There is a system of tunnels and gangplanks. Thomas negotiates with another kid Gally (Will Poulter) to get him on his side. The City itself resembles what you would see in China, with highrise spires and politicized signs  — and curfew.  No gay bars around. No Facebook. It’s noteworthy that the screenplay had been finished before Trump’s election, yet it seems to anticipate the issues Trump bas pandered.

The plot gets dense, as the “Wicked” plot to save themselves by kidnapping “the immune” and draining them for cures.  Patricia Clarkson is venomous enough as mastermind Ava (women are villains here). The 140 minute film builds up to a catastrophic conclusion, where the city falls down in building pancakings like multiple 9/11’s and Thomas, although injured (as in real life) is rescued.   The plot, of course, reminds me of right wing calls for quarantine of AIDS patients and even al; gay men during the height of the 1980s AIDS epidemic.

Then there is a Baxian epilogue on what looks like Hawaii (the film was largely shot in South Africa) where Thomas is setting himself up in an intentional community, well off the grid, camping out on the coast, and remembering the people who were lost.  Thomas will be an important person in this world that is starting over without technology.  That kind of future would not be for me.  It’s sad that some of the other kids, appealing as they are, didn’t make it.

Second video:  anybody notice something “wrong” right at the beginning?

Legacy reviews of two previous films in trilogy.

South African desert mountain scenery (wiki).

Name: Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Director, writer:  Wes Ball
Released:  2018 (orig 2017, delayed by injury to lead)
Format:  2.35:1, Imax
When and how viewed:  Regal Potomac Yards, late 2018/2/6, fair audience
Length:  141
Rating:  PG-13
Companies:  20th Century Fox
Link:  official
Stars:  4 out of 5  ****-

(Posted: Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 12:30 PM EST)

“The Greatest Showman”: a musical makes us feel good about making disabled people a spectacle in a circus

The Greatest Showman”, directed by Michael Gracey with story by Jenny Bicks, is a musical that conveys the founding of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, which ended operations in May 2017.

The central issue of the film is how an entrepreneur leveraged some people with disabilities and how the public reacted. The film seems to take some liberty with dates and years, as it appears to start during the Depression. In an early scene , P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) is laid off from a shipping company that goes under. He comes up with the idea of opening a museum with curiosities, including “freaks”.

At first, the idea seems offensive (and to make fun of intersexual people); but when the museum works and the performers seem emotionally bonded to the company, it seems uplifting. The “bearded lady” has one of the best songs, “This is me”.  That’s what Chelsea Manning says, and I started wondering if the idea of a documentary about her would sell.

Barnum hires Philip Carlyle, played by Zac Efron, who brings back a little of Troy Bolton (“High School Musical”) but has the same kind of charisma and drive as Ruben in the previous film on this blog.  At one point Barnum refers to him as his “Apprentice”, an obvious reference to Donald Trump.

The screenplay needs a crisis, and that comes from some of the public, that sees putting “defective people” as visible in public as immoral.  One man sets the museum on fire in a riot, and Barnum loses everything, as the banks won’t continue to fund something that is a target of hostility.  Carlyle is also injured with smoke inhalation and maybe burns.

But libertarianism comes to the rescue, as the performers become part owners of what emerges, the circus that we knew for so many years. Carlyle recovers fully.

There’s a subplot with Barnum’s wife (Michelle Williams) getting lightly jealous.

The music is by John Debney, with several lyricists.  The songs give us a continuously happy lilt, which reminds me of the scores of some mashups of gay stuff on YouTube.  The score also has some classical music, especially the overture to Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte”.

I can remember visiting a county fair in Vernon TX in 1984 with a “freak show”, and the performer would confront the visitors about their motives for looking.

Wiki, Barnum and Bailey Poster, 1899

I do recall seeing “The Greatest Show on Earth” as a boy.  One particularly interesting circus from my perspective is Cirque du Soleil (which I saw in Minneapolis in 2000).

The theater (One Loudoun Alamo) showed a short “Barnum” from 1943 (partly black and white) before the show.  The short showed some rather challenging tricks with tigers.

Name:  “The Greatest Showman
Director, writer:  Michael Gracey
Released:  2017/12
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Alamo Loudoun, morning show, just for me!
Length:  105  (shorter than a typical musical)
Rating:  PG
Companies:  20th Century Fox, TSG
Link:  official

(Posted: Friday, January 19, 2018 at 7:45 PM EST)

Steven Spielberg teaches us about freedom of the press with “The Post”

Steven Spielberg has given us a valuable history less on freedom of the press in his Oscar season masterpiece, “The Post”.

The film is transparent and clear to follow. Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) is taking The Washington Post public on the American Stock Exchange.  In the early summer of 1971, The New York Times publishes the first installment of The Pentagon Papers as leaked by Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys), while the Post feels embarrassed at the time by competing only with a story of a Nixon family wedding. The Nixon administration gets a court to enjoin the NYT, as the case heads for the Supreme Court. But a mole tracks down Daniel Ellsberg in a motel and gets 4000 pages more of material and delivers the stuff to the Post. The paper has to weigh the risks of indictment (if they reasonably know that the leak of classified material is the same as for the NYT) and ruining the public offering. The decision winds up in, well, a woman’s hands and that is a good thing.

The film obviously matters now given President Trump’s constant threats to the press, and the whole issue of “opening up libel laws” to function more like Britain’s.

The film opens with a war scene in Vietnam set in 1966, with an infantry patrol in the jungles, and many body bags. Soon we see a reported typing.  Combat journalism is itself a risky occupation.

We also see the technology of the times, pre-internet, when people used pay phones and typewriters, and we see the actual typesetting of the Post edition, almost as we might have in a 50s film.

I spent the summer of 1968 in the Pentagon after finishing Basic Training. I suspect one reason I was transferred is that “they” didn’t want me to “find out” some things.  I suspect that the papers included material about “McNamara’s morons” (book review coming). Bruce Greenwood plays the over-elite Defense Secretary, who knew right off that the NYT piece was bad for him. One issue that comes up in the film is whether the release of the Papers could jeopardize soldiers (often draftees) on the Vietnam patrols.

I had a misadventure seeing it at the Ballston Quarter Regal.  The garage elevators failed, with an electrical problem due to moisture and rapid warmup after a freeze.  I already had a ticket. At my insistence, the security guard let us use the fire stairs to get to the theater.

Tom Hanks and Sarah Paulson play Bradlees.  It’s interesting to see how much work was done in private homes.  The New York Times runner (Luke Slattery) is quite charismatic himself; this was during the days before bicycle messengers (or Internet pdf’s for that matter).

The end of the film gives us a “sneak” of Watergate, after Nixon banned reporters from the White House. Nixon would develop the peace agreement that stopped most American fighting in January 1973.

The film skipped the musical fanfares of the various companies at the beginning, which is unusual for 20th Century Fox and Dreamworks, which haven’t been paired together as far as I recall.

It’s also interesting that Mr. Spielberg stayed with the 1.85:1 aspect ratio format for this film, which in some ways almost seems like a stage play.

Legacy review of “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”.

Name: “The Post”
Director, writer:  Steven Spielberg
Released:  2017/12/22
Format:  1.85:1
When and how viewed:  Ballston Quarter, 2018/1/12, daytime, fair crowd (logistical problems in the building held down the crowd)
Length:  103
Rating:  PG-13
Companies:  20th Century Fox, DreamWorks, Participant Meida
Link:  official

(Posted: Friday, January 12, 2018 at 7:30 PM)

“Murder on the Orient Express” remake: Why are all these specific diverse characters on the same train?

A couple Sundays after president Clinton took office in 1993 (as the debate over gays in the military heated up) I drove 30 miles East to Annapolis to attend a regular church service at the Naval Academy. The pastor was a female (who at the time was by definition supposed to be straight) and her sermon had an interesting title: “Come and see.  Why are you here?”

The second question was one that Chris Hansen would pose to hapless visitors caught in his TV sting about a decade later (“To Catch a Predator”).

But the star and rich-people assemblage in the remake of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” posed the same kind of question.  Why were they on this particular train?  How probable is it, really, that every single passenger could be a reasonable suspect (or “person of interest”, at least) and possibly wind up complicit in the murder of an organized crime figure Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp), after the train is stalled by an avalanche in the Carpathian mountains, or maybe it is the Alps.  (The word “orient” seems overused).  All this is in 1934, at the end of the Great Depression, before a lot of people see the Winds of War.

Kenneth Branagh, so proud of his work on Shakespeare in the past (along with the Mahler-ish score by Patrick Doyle) plays himself, so to speak, as the self-indulgent detective Hercule Poirot, who opens the movie obsessed with the symmetry of two boiled eggs at a continental breakfast. He politely refuses Ratchett’s job offer, and then that evening, after the train is derailed and stopped, we actually see a clown (Stephen King style, out of everybody’s sight line) racing away from Ratchett’s cabin.

There are better films set on trains.  First of all, how about Hitchcock’s own “Strangers on a Train” (1951).  I’ve seen Trans-Siberian, The Cassandra Crossing (1977, where a plague has to be contained on a train), Silver Streak, The Great Locomotive Chase (Disney, 1955), and, particularly, Snowpiercer (which was very political).

I remember one train ride a little like one of these movies. In the spring of 1999, I took a night train East from Berlin to Krakow, to visit Auschwitz the next day.  My novel “Angel’s Brother” starts with a meeting of two young men at the site, who had seen each other on the train, and wonder why they are both there.

I saw the 1974 film by Sidney Lumet shortly after I had moved into New York City.

Vinkovci, Croatia station (in the book), wiki.

Name:  “Murder on the Orient Express”
Director, writer:  Kenneth Branagh
Released:  2017/11/10
Format:  2.35:1   some backstories are in black and white
When and how viewed:  Regal Ballston Quarter, afternoon 2017/11/10, good crowd
Length:  115
Rating:  PG-13
Companies:  20th Century Fox
Link:  Fox

(Posted: Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 at 10:30 PM EST)

“The Mountain Between Us”: The wilderness airplane crash survival gets painful, but the love story is silly

The Mountain Between Us”, directed by Hany Abu-Assad (based on the novel by Charles Martin), is mostly a survivor-in-wilderness piece, like “Cast Away” (2000, by Robert Zemeckis with Tom Hanks as “Wilson:) and “127 Hours” (by Danny Boyle, where James Franco plays trapped hiker Aron Ralston amputating his own arm when trapped).  Remember also “The Life of Pi” (2012, by Ang Lee) where a teenage boy trains and tames tiger Richard Parker on a raft at see.  And there is Sean Penn’s tragic “Into the Wild” (2007) with Emile Hirsch (“just living”).  Maybe 85 of the 112 minutes are taken with this 2-person drama, which sounds like it could get tedious.

Ben (Idris Elba), a doctor,  and Alex (Kate Winslet), a photojournalist), suddenly decide to ride a private charter in the mountains when commercial flights are canceled. Alex has to get to her wedding in Denver. The pilot’s very smart dog accompanies them. When the pilot (Beau Bridges) has a stroke and dies, the plane crashes high in the mountains.

There follows the extended survival story, which moves along faster than one expect. While Ben is scouting, Alex survives an encounter with a cougar (which probably would not attack humans in real life) and they wind up roasting the cat as food. Eventually they get the courage to go down the mountain and find an abandoned cabin.  Despite both having serious injuries, they’re able to start a  and consummate a romance (interracial) , somewhat predictable.

The dog discovers a nearby logging camp.  Ben steps on a fur trap, but the dog leads Alex to the camp and they are rescued.  (in the movie “The Artist” a dog plays a similar role in one scene.)

The film has a twenty minute epilogue in London and New York about the romantic implications of the whole event, which seems rather silly, but it does explain the title of the film.

The novel appears on Amazon Create Space.

The film appeared in Toronto ad Venice film festivals,  Oddly, it was picked up by 20th Century Fox as a main brand release rather than Fox Searchlight, despite the indie feel of the film.

Panorama Mountain Village, British Columbia (wiki), actual filming location.

NBC Dateline ran an episode “Into the Wild” about the self-rescue of a female teenage pilot who crashes in the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming, review here.

(Picture: High Sierras, CA, in 2012, my trip.)

Name:  “The Mountain Between Us”
Director, writer:  Hany Abu-Assad
Released:  2017
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Regal Ballston Quarter, 2017/10/11, late, only 2 people in audience
Length:  112
Rating:  PG-13
Companies:  20th Century Fox, Fox 2000
Link:  official

(Posted: Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017 at 11:30 PM EDT)

“The Story of Ruth”: Fox 1960 CinemaScope spectacle plays up the issue of idol-worship in presenting a maternal ancestor of Jesus

In the 1950s, 20th Century Fox promoted the spectacle genre after it premiered Cinemascope in 1953 with Llyod C. Douglas’s “The Robe”.  I saw it at the old Jefferson in Falls Church, one of the first “neighborhoods” to be converted to wide screen, and, yes, I cried at the end.

The Story of Ruth”, directed by Henry Koster, appeared in 1960 and is somewhat lower keyed than earlier spectacles, yet the film, with very crisp cinematography, makes the ancient world of the Judges in the Bible look interesting.

Ruth, as we remember from Sunday school perhaps, was the humble woman who became an ancestor of David and therefore eventually Jesus Christ himself.

But the film adds a lot of material in the beginning to the Old Testament book “Ruth” which is complicated enough in all the migrations and family ties.  “The Story of the Bible” by Hendrik Willem Van Loon, 1936, a favorite of my late father (p. 143, Chapter 10), and Egermeier’s Bible Story Book, 1939,  Story 21, p. 196, “The Young Woman Who Forsook Idols to Serve God”, give the details with some variation.

The film starts with presenting Ruth (Elena Eden) as an idol worshipper, preparing a Moabitess girl Tebah (Daphna Einnhorn) to be sacrificed to the pagan god Chemosh.  Quickly the film presents the obvious dilemma:  idols can indeed have clay feet and break, and, well, and idol is only what you see;  beauty is only skin deep.

The complications of the story, as the film returns to the Biblical text, involve Ruth’s conversion to Judaism and worshipping the one god Jehovah, accepting poverty and returning to Judah out of family loyalty, and gleaning in the fields.  Accepting the charity of others becomes part of moral purification.  The film covers how easily inherited wealth can be lost, and also the idea that men were expected to marry widowed family members.  At the end, Ruth turns down a man she does not love, as a good man named Boaz (Stuart Whitman).

Back around 1952, public schools were allowed to have religious classes after school, and I can remember confessing “I have idols” in writing in a note to the teacher.

“Boaz” happens to be the last name of a prominent libertarian writer and officer at the Cato Institute in Washington DC.  In the film, the character seems to be the most respectful of all of the liberty of others.

There are several newer versions of the story, as one from Pure Flix.

Name:  “The Story of Ruth”
Director, writer:  Henry Koster
Released:  1960
Format:  CinemaScope (slightly wider than the usual anamorphic today)
When and how viewed:  Netflix DVD
Length:  123
Rating:  PG
Companies:  20th Century Fox
Link:  Pinterest

(Posted: Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at 1 PM EDT)

“Two Lovers and a Bear”: in northern Canada, a polar bear plays guardian angel to troubled lovers fleeing their pasts

Two Lovers and a Bear“, by Kim Nguyen, is a bizarre little film that pits desperation and the will to live against a harsh environment, and argues for befriending wild animals to boot.  The film touches the fringes of sci-fi and erotic mystery without going very far.

Roman, played by the charismatic and boyish Dane DeHaan, drives trucks and run errands in Iqaluit (actually, Apex) in Nanavut, formerly part of Northwest Territories, above Hudson Bay, Canada, well above the Arctic Circle. He has an off-on relationship with a more bookish girl friend Lucy (Tatania Maslany) who wants go to Montreal or Toronto to college and study pre-med. Both he and Lucy have issues with abusive pasts.   He also has the unusual talent of befriending wild animals, especially a particular polar bear, with whom he carries on conversations (voice of Gordeon Pinsent).  (It occurred to me that Reid Ewing could have played this role, given his history with dogs on social media.)   The film shows a few impressive shots of the polar bear alone, and gives us a moment to ponder whether climate change will endanger is magnificent and free animal, well up the scale in intelligence.

Roman resents her leaving and even kicks her out when she wants to make up, but then they do make up and go on a journey south together on a snowmobile, oblivious to a coming spring blizzard.  The bear has three conversations with Roman in the movie, and is obviously concerned for Roman’s life. The bear knows he can survive but humans can’t (again, ironic, given the climate change issue).  Dangers mount, as Roman falls into an crevasse but Lucy gets him out.  They then have an interesting sequence inside an abandoned military facility that they stumble into, but this doesn’t give them enough wisdom to avoid tragedy.  But the Bear seems to have the key to their entry into heaven.

The early scenes in the film make indoor life in the village look more prosperous than we expect.  There is a party scene in a home early in the movie.  Everything, including Internet, seems to work.

I’ve had a couple of encounters with wild animals.  In Maine in 1974 on a trail on Mt. Katahdin, I saw a black bear in the distance, but he didn’t pay attention to me.  A few years ago on the Appalachian Trail near Stoney Man in Virginia, I saw a mother bear with her cub. She saw me but did not act concerned. She calmly crossed the trail with her cub and ran down the mountain.  On the day of Hurricane Sandy (in the DC area, a long way from the area of major damage), a crow twice chased me back into my garage, as if to warn me of the storm.

There have been a couple of films from Russia about the far north with similar moodiness, such as “The Return” (2003) and “How I Ended This Summer” (2010) and “Leviathan” (2015).

Wikipedia picture, Iqaluit.

Wikipedia picture, Apex.

Name: “Two Lovers and a Polar Bear”
Director, writer: Kim Nguyen
Released: 2016
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Netflix, Instant play, 2017/5/23
Length: 98
Rating: R
Companies:  2oth Century Fox (rather than Searchlight, unusual for Fox), Entertainment One, Netflix
Link:  official FB

(Posted: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at 7 PM EDT)

“Alien: Covenant”: A synthetic man makes his (adopted) home planet a deadly honeypot for a colony space ship

Ridley Scott’s “Alien: Covenant” is said to be a prequel of the well-known “Alien” franchise but also a sequel to “Prometheus” (2013), which had shown the panspermia of man and then set up the series of space journeys that could set mankind in mortal danger.  The story for this movie is by Jack Paglan and Michael Green.  Titan books sells a “novelization” of the movie.

I was still living in Manhattan at the end of 1978 when I saw the movie posters for the upcoming first “Alien” movie. There was a picture of an egg and a laser flare beaming down on bodies, and I thought some wording like “a warning”.  I wondered then if the movie was about some kind of mass abduction (given my contacts then with Dan Fry and “Understanding”).  Indeed, a movie about what happens to those who are “raptured” (an inverse of “The Leftovers”) could be an interesting premise. That would not be the case.  I remember standing in line at the Medallion Theater in Dallas Memorial Day 1979 to buy a ticket, and seeing a young man who had been severely burned in line.  That’s one of the few time I remember seeing that.  And I remember the visual captivation of the first movie:  the cave with the devices combining man with machine, the egg cases, and then, back on the ship, the exploding bodies, and later the hidden robot.  Ripley, Sjjuourney Weaver, believer.  For the third film, they gave out clippers for private parts.

The new film starts with a shot of an eye, and then we’re on some mountain spa on another planet, as David (Michael Fassbender) learns he is an immortal android artifice created by his dad, who has learned how to connect consciousness to AI.  Then we’re on a colonization ship, the Covenant, with 2000 colonists and some embryos looking for a specific Earth 2 at the other side of the galaxy. The ship (where Fassbender plays another droid, Walter) passes through a “neutrino flare” and gets damaged.  When the ship is getting fixed, it gets a bizarre transmission indicating another earth-like paradise planet is much closer. The crew takes the bait, not suspecting it is a honeypot.

The surface is a damp, fjord country of southern New Zealand (“Aotearoa”).  When the crew makes its initial exploration, it quickly notices the silence, no birds or animals.  Soon the astronauts are getting infected by dust that can enter an ear lobe, and the bodies start to explode.  Some of the crew is led to the ruins of a former city, ruled by David.

It seems that ten years before, the survivors of “Prometheus” had been there, and David, after arriving with them, had thrown a hissy fit and destroyed the entire civilization, after breeding a virus that destroyed all other animal life except this one shape-shifting monster mutant.  (Did that virus come from the Prometheus planet?)

The flashback makes the ancient city look quite interesting.  There were two organic sabres or “ships” that commanded an open circle in the center of the City.  The rest of it looked like a typical place in the Middle East, despite the damp climate.

Davis, as a character, presents a dilemma.  If you’re immortal you don’t need to have children. But wouldn’t you care about the future if you knew you would be around forever, like a god?

There’s an interesting sequence where David learns to play a flute, to articulate the soaring music theme that had played in “Prometheus” (by Mark Stretenfeld). David also has a fixation with Wagner, the “Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla” and the movie (before credits) ends with the close of “Das Rheingold”.  The closing credits feature a Wagnerian symphonic poem by Jed Kurzel.

Wikipedia New Zealand scenery.

Wikipedia chart of extra-solar planets.

Name:  “Alien: Covenant
Director, writer:  Ridley Scott
Released: 2017
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Regal Ballston Quarter, 2017/5/22, large auditorium, evening, small audience
Length:  122
Rating:  R
Companies:  20th Century Fox, TSG, ScottFree
Link:  official

(Posted: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 3:30 PM EDT)

“Logan” does his Run, in a comics film that, after the fact, pans the alt-right

After reading the (libertarian) Foundation for Economic Education op-ed “’Logan’ eviscerates War and Demographic Planning” by Dan Sanchez, I “gave in” and saw a late show of the Marvel film last night. Yes, even Anderson Cooper like the “X-men” franchise.

Sanchez summarizes the plot pretty well, and I’m not sure all of his parallels hold.  But it’s true, that the “corporate state” (Transigen) had created the mutants as weapons and now regards them as threats the way the all-right views both Hispanic and Muslim migrants.

Hugh Jackman(now 48) looks grizzled, and maybe ready to return from exile or retirement.  The plot of this 135-minute bash concerns Logan’s road trip to rescue his 12-year-old daughter Laura (Dafne Keen) with Wolverine-like powers.

Structurally, the film is a bit like my “Tribunal and Rapture” manuscript, a long road trip (finally leading to planetary evacuation on a spaceship) by a retired FBI agent, who finds he has some subtle powers of his own – I finally decided that this sort of story works better for me when told through the eyes of the younger heroes, whose “powers” aren’t usually obvious and whose appearance is wholesome (even if that idea betrays my own erotic prejudices).

The film journeys into Oklahoma, then sidetracks to Reno (I wanted to see Taylor Wilson make a cameo and pitch his plans to save the power grids), before getting to North Dakota, with some scenery that resembles the Teddy Roosevelt badlands – but actually a lot of the film is shot in New Mexico, with mountains in the background.  The mixture of old and new technologies is interesting (like the winch and pulley in the North Dakota scene.  The mutants, by blowing liquid nitrogen breath, can freeze opponents’ limbs and break then off.  So heads, arms and legs roll in this film. (In Dallas, Joe Bob would have said “check it out.”)

To appreciate the film, you have to know some of the pre-history, of characters like Trask, with their pre-occupation with the alt-right notion of “demographic winter” and the idea that “majority” people don’t have enough kids now.  (That’s why Vladimir Putin allows the persecution of gays.)  I’m reminded of Representative Steve King’s (T-IA) doubled-down comments that “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies” (story).

Patrick Stewart seems to impersonate me (as he usually does) as Charles, and Boyd Holbrook is notable as Pierce.

I’m reminded of another escapist adventure, “Logan’s Run” (1976), set around the Zale Building on Stemmons Freeway in Dallas, a building in which I worked in the 1980s, where you wonder how the twenty year-olds know think they can eliminate the thirties without facing the same fate themselves soon.

I guess that “Logan”, directed by James Mangold with story by him, was largely developed before Donald Trump won the election, but it seems well conceived as a response to the growing appearance of the alt-right during the 2016 campaigns.  The distributor, Fox, is probably closer to Ayn Rand-style conservatism.

The show opens with a “short film” (“Deadpool: No Good Deed“) about a Logan-like man challenged by a nearby mugging and a telephone booth, in the City.  I’m reminded of Joel Schulmacher’s “Phone Booth” (2002), and even of Timo Descamps and his “Phone Call” or even “Like It Rough” videos.  the 20 Century Fix fanfare then follows, along with TSG and Marvel, before the “feature” starts.  This sort of reminds me also of Dimension Films’s “Grindhouse” in 2007 (embedded double feature and connecting short).  The two short stories in my “Do Ask Do Tell III” book (2014) could be presented this way in film.

Name:  “Logan
Director, writer: James Mangold
Released:  2017
Format:  2.35:1 and Imax
When and how viewed:  2017/3/14 Regal Ballston Quarter, late, low crowd after snowstorm
Length:  137 including short
Rating:  R
Companies:  20th Century Fox, Marvel, TSG
Link:  official

(Posted: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 11 AM)

“Deadline – U.S.A.” — 1952 classic tale about courage in journalism

The 1952 classic film “Deadline – U.S.A.”, directed by Richard Brooks, seems timely now, given the issue of journalistic integrity as challenged by the new administration of Donald Trump.

Humphrey Bogart plays Ed Hutcheson, the managing editor of a newspaper called “New York Day”, said to resemble the “New York Sun” which had folded in 1950.  One day Hutcheson is told that the newspaper’s owner, Margaret Garrison (Ethyl Barrymore) wants to sell the paper, apparently to a competitor who would put it out of business.

About the same time Hutcheson learns of a gangland murder, with connections that suggest that the real motive for the sale is to cover up an organized crime conspiracy.  Hutcheson pursues the story, and is even pressured not to publish by advertisers.  The script mentions ideas like “ignorance of facts”, libel, and makes an indirect reference to “the right to be forgotten.”  There are a couple of interesting courtroom scenes.  Finally, the mother of one of the victims provides and important clue, a diary. As the movie closes, Hutcheson publishes even as he is threatened.

The screenplay is terse and follows the pattern of maintaining urgency.

The music score by Cyril J. Mockridge and Sol Kaplan reminds me of the music of Arthur Bliss.

Name:  “Deadline – U.S.A.
Director, writer:  Richard Brooks
Released:  1952
Format:  1.37:1  (Black and white)
When and how viewed:  Netflix DVD  2017/2/28
Length:  87
Rating:  PG-13 probably
Companies:  20th Century Fox, Kino Lorber
Link:  n.a.

(Posted: Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at 8:15 AM)