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Message started by L.A. Connection on Feb 17th, 2020 at 10:56pm

Title: SF 45 2020 reactions thread
Post by L.A. Connection on Feb 17th, 2020 at 10:56pm
Another fine marathon in the books! Thanks everyone.
Post your comments reviews and suggestions

Title: Re: SF 45 2020 reactions thread
Post by albatross on Feb 18th, 2020 at 11:07am
Everyone is still recovering! I enjoyed the first half quite a bit. The second half was a bit tough for me with the exception of Soylent Green. Seconds was good too...  but not much sci fi. We needed more space! I felt that Midnight Special and Fast Color would have been better as short stories.
Crowd was great this year... theater is great but it got a little too cold in the early morning.

Title: React: SF 45 2020 reactions thread
Post by L.A. Connection on Feb 20th, 2020 at 3:44pm

albatross wrote on Feb 18th, 2020 at 11:07am:
Everyone is still recovering! I enjoyed the first half quite a bit. The second half was a bit tough for me with the exception of Soylent Green. Seconds was good too...  but not much sci fi. We needed more space! I felt that Midnight Special and Fast Color would have been better as short stories.
Crowd was great this year... theater is great but it got a little too cold in the early morning.

Schedules shake out in odd ways. And, of course, everyone has their own take on what movies they liked the most -- or, most look forward/away from in the wee hours.

But, yes, more deep space action would hove been nice.

Title: SF 45 2020 reactions thread
Post by L.A. Connection on Feb 26th, 2020 at 6:11pm
First of all, thank you to all the folks who help put on the Boston Sci-Fi Marathon. Everybody from Frank & Fran, to Ian, DDK and the Somerville staff, Garen and everybody in the crowd that took the time to say hello and chat.

Overall, I thought this was a good, solid marathon. The only things that kept it from greatness was that there were too many 'earth-bound' films in the line-up, no major recent films and a bit too much chatter in the crowd. Remember folks: Brevity is the soul of wit.

On to the lineup.

In Memorium - Dan LeBlanc's best work yet. Tighter and better paced

Sing-A-Long - The Bowie thing was great, but, this is now beating a dead horse. Next...

Tin Foil Hat Contest - If you don't promote it in advance, you get half-hearted response. Next...

Fireball Eating Contest - It got a bit gross with spat out Fireballs on stage the rest of the day, but, Tim Estilioz REALLY wanted to win - 35!!??

Duck Dodgers In the 24 1/2 Century (35mm film print) - Our annual kickoff short subject. Always a treat. Always brings me 'home'.

MIRACLE MILE (1989, 35mm) - As Director Steve DeJarnatt said in his specially recorded intro video (thanks Steve!) the film starts off as an 80s Rom-com (albeit of a nerdy kind) and then de-evolves into a nightmare. Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham make for a fine offbeat couple and it was good to see John Agar in a nice supporting bit. Tangerine Dream's synth score matches the mood. But, it's the premise and the script that really makes this work. Tight, compact and suspenseful. And, did Spielberg et al. ever steal that image of the descent into the tar pits with the Woolly Mammoth for the Jurassic Park films or what?!!
On a personal note, I love seeing the movie because I lived IN the Miracle Mile when the film was shot  (and, yes, I did come across the crew shooting more than once). I never like the term 'dated' which some cavalierly toss around all the time as a pejorative to critique films. Yes, MIRACLE MILE is 'dated' as an 80s flick -- but, it captures the time and place perfectly. That's the best kind of 'dating' there can be.

FIEND WITHOUT A FACE (1958, 35mm) - It's very much the cheesy creature feature we all remember it as is, but, seeing the uber-rare film print was a treat. The whole mind over matter subplot was muddled if somewhat interesting. The cast was okay, although Kim Parker was spunkier than the average 50s SF heroine (her Austrian accent substituting for a French Canadian one). But, it's the last reel where the nasty brain and spinal column beasties roam around the Great White North and loudly slurp on the humans where the film comes to life.

SPACEBALLS (1987) - When this Mel Brooks came out it was dubbed as being outdated and 'too late' to cash in on the Star Wars craze (a whole four years after JEDI!). Now, it plays more nostalgically, if not exactly improving with age. There's a lot of low-level buffoonery, a lot of the gags don't work and it never really lands as a specific Star Wars spoof. Still, some of the bits are amusing, Brooks has fun winking at the camera about the filmmaking process (the whole 'let's see the movie is progressing' in joke is terrific) and marketing parodies work. The cast is game, especially John Hurt and George Wyner. But, it's Rick Moranis who steals the show as Dark Helmet.

MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (1961) - Cy Endfield's Jules Verne adaptation is a rousing adventure story with bits of the fantastic, mostly provided by Ray Harryhausen's animated creatures (“That's the best crab I ever cooked!”). But, in many ways it's Herbert Lom's Captain Nemo (and his Nautilus submarine) that steals the show. The giant creatures were injected into the script, but they aren't too intrusive (the less said about the shoddy matte work, the better).
It was great to see and meet Harryhausen's daughter Vanessa at the Festival and tell her how much her father's work meant to me. I got to meet Ray a couple of times (including a private visit to his L.A. home) and we even share the same birth date on the calendar. Connor Heaney was also on hand from the Harryhausen foundation.

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1920) - This rarely screened version was a revelation to me. It may not be as fluid a picture as Rouben Mamoulian's 1932 classic, but, it's a very good adaptation of the familiar tale. There is genuine sense of mood and seediness that is evoked whenever Mr. Hyde is on screen. It also delved into the dual nature of man's inner id in ways that the other versions tend to gloss over. John Barrymore's performance is justly famous even if the transformation scenes seem overplayed today.
Jeff Rapsis provided a vibrant musical score live on stage. Bravo Jeff!

ALTERED STATES (1980, 35mm) - Paddy Chayefsky famously removed his name as screenwriter in the credits (“Sidney Aaron”) but, as much as Ken Russell made the work his own, Chayefsky's bizarro plotting and dialogue remains largely intact. Russell's pyrotechnics, aggressive theatrics and staccato editing and religious sexuality imagery certainly keep the viewer's eyes engaged (and the sound (sadly not the original Megasound) and John Corigliano's innovative score assaults the ears), but, there is no getting past Chayefsky's script. The actors, William Hurt especially, seem to rush and mumble the lines so quickly as to hope the audience doesn't notice how fatuous it all is.  Charles Haid seems to have outright disdain for the goings on -- which may be the best way to look at the storyline. Even with the effects, action and sexual imagery to keep one distracted, the 'love conquers all' finale is pretty fatuous.
No doubt it isn't a boring picture, but, a cogent one? Nyet. 

THE FLY (1986, 35mm) - This remake does a good job of modernizing (80s era) the tech - I've always loved, in particular, the explanation of how the computer tried to digitally 'interpret' what a steak should taste like. It's an engrossing picture in more ways than one (my friend calls it: The Gooey Version). Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis were THE geek movie couple of the time. It's their relationship which makes the film work. When Goldblum devolves into the Brundle-Fly and Davis' character retreats the story-telling kind of falls apart. The ex-boyfriend character (John Getz) is too annoying and obvious a cliche antagonist and Cronenberg's insistence on body decay gets in the way of the central dynamics (Although the 'birth' scene is still as nightmarish as it was in the mid-80s. Complete with Cronenberg himself as the gynecologist fiendishly overseeing the procedure). Still, nobody by Cronenberg could have made something as gruesomely moving as the finale with the gun despite all the orgiastic grue and viscera.

MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (2016) - MIDNIGHT SPECIAL essentially uses the structure of John Carpenter's STARMAN (right down to the scientist who goes rogue, Adam Driver, filling in for Charles Martin Smith)*. But, whereas that movie is a model for get-to-the point pathos, MIDNIGHT often seems like abstraction for abstraction's sake. The acting is good. The movie works in the end. But, like TAKE SHELTER, I felt more frustrated than edified when it was over. As sci-fi it's okay if muddled, but, like SHELTER, it seems more like a religious allegory of some sort than strictly SF.

* In interviews, Nichols acknowledges his debt to STARMAN.
** My original review is here:

SECONDS (1966, 35mm) - John Frankenheimer's film continues to fascinate and engage 50 years after it was made. It's a dark and despondent, but resonant film the likes of which would never be made by a major studio these days (and with a marquee leading man, Rock Hudson, known for his lite roles, to boot). Watching it again it struck me how the basic kernel of an idea is reminiscent of a sort of Mid-Life crisis male version of The Stepford Wives. But, SECONDS cuts much deeper and more directly into the soul of John Randolph/Hudson character. The use of former Blacklisted actors like Jeff Corey and Will Geer as the heads of the sinister corporation adds to the intrigue and forcefulness of the ideas (Randolph and Nedrick Young also were blacklisted). There is also a dark streak of humor in Lewis John Carlino's script that keeps the audience off balance. James Wong Howe's sterling cinematography adds to the unease. And, it was great to see it on the big screen on Film.
As as a side note, I'm convinced somebody at ABC saw the film and cast Richard Anderson as Oscar Goldman in the Six Million Dollar Man/Bionic Woman series!

DIE MONSTER DIE! (1965, 35mm) - This AIP adaptation tries to take it's Poe series formula to this version of the H.P. Lovecraft tale (recently remade). It only works sporadically. Despite some fine sets, creepy photography and Boris Karloff, it's one of those movies that spends an inordinate amount of time telling us: There's a secret, there's a Secret, there's a SECRET! The 80 minute run-time seems much longer. Nick Adams comes off as too gruff an 'ugly American' but Suzan Farmer fares a bit better (as does Freda Jackson as her mom). The menagerie of horrors in the greenhouse sequence and finale evoke a bit of the spirit of Lovecraft, but, this is a middling horror melodrama.

TARANTULA (1955) - One of Clint Eastwood's finest early films (he has a bit part as a fighter pilot). This Universal 50s B unit picture isn't bad, if undistinguished. The plot is a tad more complex than the usual Monster on the Loose creature feature, and having Leo G. Carroll as the scientist gives it a bit of credibility. John Agar is decent and Mara Corday adds a bit of glamour: “Give women the vote and what do you get? Lady scientists!” Ouch. 

FAST COLOR (2019) - Julia Hart's movie is an offbeat perspective on the superhero film (she also co-wrote with Jordan Horowitz - famous as the LA LA LAND Producer who announced that MOONLIGHT had actually won Best Picture at the Oscars). Three generations of women carry the secret of their superpowers and are, per usual, being chased down by 'authorities'. Lorraine Toussaint, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Saniyya Sidney are the trio and their conflicts and bonds are what keep the movie grounded. The always solid David Strathairn plays a sympathetic local sheriff who is hiding his own secrets. The supernatural elements are limited, but well played. It's very much an indie drama through and through, but worth seeking out.

SOYLENT GREEN (1974) - Richard Fleischer's adaptation of Harry Harrison's novel is a pretty dreary dystoptian film as famous a picture as it is in the Sci-fi canon. Harrison's ideas aren't bad, but, Stanley R. Greenberg's script is pretty mundane (he was mostly a TV writer) and it doesn't do a good job of seeding the finale's revelation throughout the proceedings. The filmmakers seemed to have tried to blend a police procedural with the 70s trend towards naturalistic drama. There are also noirish touches (The femme fatale. The loner detective. Casting Edward G. Robinson, Heston and Joseph Cotten etc.).   But, it doesn't work. A few of the futuristic touches are interesting, but they too aren't well integrated.
Heston is solid and Leigh Taylor Young gives her underwritten part some heart even if she is designated as, literally, a piece of furniture. The scenes between Heston and Robinson have a poignancy that is palpable, even more-so in the suicide parlor sequence where the famously stoic Heston even sheds a genuine tear.
Unfortunately, the pacing is sluggish, even during the climatic revelation scene. Fred Myrow's score is so subdued it's barely there and Samuel Beetley's editing doesn't help. It's no wonder SOYLENT GREEN is mostly remembered as a meme rather than a movie.
But, like a familiar piece of was a comfy resting spot for the Marathon finale.

All in all, a good show. But, let's keep the chatter down next year.


Title: Re: SF 45 2020 reactions thread
Post by UncleTim on Feb 27th, 2020 at 7:05am
My wife and I weren't able to attend the 'Thon in person again, as we were still recovering from the Andromeda Strain, but we did keep pace with the schedule at home and again recorded our reactions (and our cognitive degeneration due to exhaustion) for another episode of our podcast. You can check it out here:

Title: GI SF 45 2020 reactions thread
Post by G.I. Joe on Mar 1st, 2020 at 3:54pm
sorry haven't been around lately work family etc etc

anyway, wanted to say this was a wicked good thon! Really liked most of the lineup. yeah the crowd was too noizy but, what can you do?

the films

Miracle Mile was still cool nice to see it on the big screen with the speicial intro too!

Fiend without a face Yeah baby. My kinda old school thon flick!

Spaceballs can't believe this never showed before. really a lotta fun

Mysterious island good flick, but enough with the harryhausen for a while! Nice seeing his daughter, tho

Dr Jekyll Mr Hyde Rapsis is always good but, like Harryhausen too many silents too close together. I left to grab some din din

Altered States  I wish i had been in one when watching this crazy f'n flick. Nice to see it, I really liked Blair Brown!

The Fly Too horror for the thon but a pretty good flick

Midnight Special a whole lotta build up to...........not much

Seconds pretty good movie I suppose, but not sci-fi enough

Die Monster Die! kind of a snoozer. And the third horror movie on the schedule

Tarantula me like big insects!! And, Mara Corday big.......... :-X

Fast Color too slow too drawn out. Skipped out after a while to grab some breaky

Soylent Green speaking of breakfast! LOL. Always a treat to see a classic on the big screen with a big crowd

Overall a good one, if too much horror. Next year!!

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