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Back from the Dead

Holidays and a change of employment took precedence over blogging lately. But it doesn't mean I've been silent. So, with that in mind, and with the time allowed by inclement weather in Central Texas, I'll provide a couple of recent updates. First, the latest installment of Watching the Future has been posted by the terrific people at SF Site. This time out, I talk about the the cinematic fallow period that always comes after the Holidays, and how easy it has become easy to weather.

This replenishing used to be somewhat challenging. Television was an option before the 80s (and in my case it was pretty much the only option), though it was often a frustrating one. Yes, the black-and-white twelve-inch screen perched on my dresser in my mother's Houston apartment provided my initial exposure to some classic genre movies (Dracula, The Vampire Lovers, Robinson Crusoe on Mars), a couple of masterpieces (Casablanca, though I was too young to understand it at the time, Some Like It Hot, and Howard Hawks's The Searchers) and lots and lots of guilty pleasures (one of the Houston stations played Japanese monster movies from twelve to two every Saturday afternoon, which, when coupled with Saturday morning cartoons, pretty much meant my morning was booked). However, watching a movie on television meant sitting through commercials carelessly scattered across a movie's running time, breaking up a movie's rhythm and disallowing a full appreciation. Cable was available but expensive, but even in those homes that had it, one didn't see many movies more than ten years old.

One often relied on revival houses, college campuses, and conventions (I first saw Roy Rowland's The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T at an Armadillocon in 1988 or 1989) for older movies uninterrupted by commercials. Many colleges ran film programs featuring a mixture of old and new movies, and were open to the public for a fee. Until the late 80s, many theaters would stay open past midnight on Friday and Saturday nights to run more esoteric fare (which is how I first saw Alejandro Jodorowsky's El Topo and David Lynch's Eraserhead).

So options were available if you were a serious moviegoer in need of a fix before the summer began.

And in the 80s, all of that changed.

You can read the full article here.

Additionally, I was also asked by to contribute to the latest Mind Meld over at SF Signal. This time, my esteemed colleagues (who include Lucius Shepard, Nancy Kress, Mary Robinette Kowal and Chris Nakashima-Brown) answer the question, "What was the last science fiction film that surprised you in a good way? What about in a bad way? Explain why." I was pleased to see Lucius Shepard show some love for Gareth Edwards's sublime science ficiton movie Monsters.

Maybe I've become cynical, but few modern science fiction and fantasy movies surprise me anymore. Most look stunning - hardly difficult in the days when Kerry Conran can create the visual effects necessary to bring Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow to life - but remain bereft of any of the things that make print science fiction so worthwhile. It's not just scientific inaccuracies that make something unwatchable; I can forgive those if I see something visionary and interesting. Unfortunately, most genre movies are so predictable that I can set my watch by them. Granted, things like Event Horizon, The Book of Eli, and The Island are fun in their low way, but I wasn't at all surprised by their utter lack of intelligence or plodding execution.

And as a bonus, I just learned that my review of Darren Aronofsky's movie Black Swan was just selected as one of the Top 25 SF Signal Posts for January 2011. I am honored.

Stay warm.


June 2012



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