-- "A Few Kindred Spirits" by "John Christopher" (Sam Christopher Youd), from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1965
Movies: My daughter hooked up to a new Amazon streaming service yesterday afternoon and last night we watched a couple of horror films. Movie theaters no longer interest me. Too many talking kids. Expensive. Often, uncomfortable seats. Even more often, a poor or garbled sound system. Expensive and unhealthy snacks. Gum on the floors and on the seats...ugh! I think the last movie I saw in the theater was Forrest Gump. I now catch first-run shows a few years later on one of the streaming services.
The Mummy was intended to be the beginning of the Dark Universal franchise. The idea was to take classic Universal horror films and update them for a modern audience. Following this movie they was to be reboots featuring Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, the Wolf Man, and so on. But the best-laid plans, etc., etc. did not account for Tom Cruise.
There were many reasons why the movie flopped and consequently put the kibosh on the whole Dark universal idea but the main reason was Cruise itself. In a role intended to be one of a likable rogue, Cruise transformed it to a smirking (and unintentional, I'm sure) parody of himself. Using a range of emotions from sad puppy dog to what/what? (the equivalent of not understanding what is going on -- not because it is truly unable to be understood but because Cruise and his character are both dim bulbs). But wait. Cruise smiles A lot. Isn't he just the cutest thing? And Cruise shows off his ripped, middle-aged body. Isn't he just the most toned thing? In the end, Cruise and his ego have completely misread his character and the plot. His mannerisms, his facial reactions (as much as he can muster with the top half of his face frozen by plastic surgery), his tone and cadence, all remind me of Chandler Bing from Friends. (In fact, this would have been a much better flick if Matthew Perry had been cast as the lead.) I read that filming was delayed because Cruise want his part beefed up. Whoever went along with that needs to have their head examined.
Tom Cruise was not the only problem here. The direction was poor. The continuity was poor. The gimmick-laden script was poor. Most of the other actors were lifeless. The internal logic was anything but. The CGI was impressive at times but was often meaningless. Whoever had the idea of the mummy having two pupils in each eye just did not understand the difference between eerie and irritating.
I really wanted to see this film because I was sure it could not have been as bad as the critics said.
Stephen King's It always had Pennywise the clown going for it, first in the form of Tim Curry in the old two-part television movie, lately in the form of Bill Skarsgard as an even creepier Pennywise. I'm not sure on this but I think It is the longest book that King has written. As with many of King's books, there is a detailed back story to the many characters as well as side jaunts from the main narrative. It the book has a lot to pack into any It the film. The two-part TV version did this by intermixing the past and the present in a somewhat effective manner. The recent 2017 film does it by concentrating only on the past -- 1989 Derry, Maine -- and the group of thirteen-year-old Losers who have banded together to fight Pennywise. It: Chapter Two, which brings the Losers Club back to Derry 27 years later, is due to be released this coming September.
It loses its punch by trying to bring too much into the film and also by not bringing enough of the right stuff. Pennywise is an inexplicable monster with a Shadow-like ability to selectively cloud the minds of men (and boys and girls). His evil (and perhaps his powers) is erratic. We see him spread his miasmic power over the town yet he does not capitalize on it in any way. The adults of Derry all appear to be idiots; they could have stopped the whole affair in its tracks had they reacted normally. In an effort to make the seven Losers appear like real characters the film adds a heavy dose of innuendo, swears, and sex to their talk. Too much so. By trying to make these kids real the movie reduces them to stereotypes.
Some of the scary moments are scary; others last way too long. The CGI is effective and atmospheric most of the time. The pcing is jerky The kids are stereotypes. There's the Jew, the fat one, the Black, the jokester, the neurotic, the stutterer who must find his courage, and the girl unfairly targeted by rumor.
Overall, It was a disappointment, albeit a fairly entertaining one. It coulda been a contender.
Happy anniversary: 208 years ago today (well, yesterday actually, because I was late in posting this) Beethoven's Piano Concerto Number 5 in E Flat Major, Opus 73, premiered at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig.
Enjoy this performance by The Orchestra of the Liszt University, conducted by Nicolas Pasquet, with Alina Bercu as soloist:
Arithmetic is where numbers fly like pigeons in and out of your head.
Arithmetic tells you how many you lose or win if you now how many you had before you lost or won.
Arithmetic is six eleven all good children go to heaven -- or five six bundle of sticks.
Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze from your head to your hand to your pencil to your paper till you get the answer.
Arithmetic is where the answer is right and everything is nice and you can look out of the window and see the blue sky -- or the answer is wrong and you have to start all over again and try again and see how it comes out this time.
If you take a number and double it and double it again and then double it a few more times, the number gets bigger and bigger and goes higher and higher and only arithmetic can tell you what the number is when you decide to quit doubling.
Arithmetic is where you have to multiply -- and you carry the multiplication table in your head and hope you don't lose it.
If you have two animal crackers, one good and one bad, and you eat one and a striped zebra with streaks all over him eats the other, how many animal crackers will you have if somebody offers you five six seven and you say No no no and you say nay nay nay and you say nix nix nix.
If you ask your mother for one fried egg for breakfast and she gives you to fried eggs and you eat both of them, who is better in arithmetic, you or your mother?
-- Carl Sandburg