A ridiculous movie review from past me

This blog post I wrote in 2007 has come up so often in conversation lately that I just trolled through the Wayback Machine (aka the best service to humanity that exists on the internet) so I could resurrect it.


3 08 2007

I just finished watching The Core, which I enjoyed for its cheap thrills, unlikely but believable scenarios, and passable acting.  Though this movie is one of many based on some projected Earth-destruction situation – that can only be averted by tremendous self-sacrifice and a motley crew of scientific experts, pilots, hackers, and military strategists – it actually pulls this off as well as it possibly could, completely fulfilling what I deem to be the core requirements of the action-armageddon genre:

1. Rockin’ the Method: the problem must be solved by science, so the audience can be amazed by the inventiveness of the less brawny characters whose genius saves the day (maybe even multiple times.)  One of several examples of this fromThe Core is when “one guy who doesn’t die” character realizes that although their ship has no power to get home, they could continue deeper into the core in order to harness the power that their ubermetalsomething ship will gain from the increase in heat.  This movie is actually one of the better when it comes to tickling the wannabe scientist within us.  Yes, all of us.  Better than say…Deep Impact.  Though I haven’t seen it in awhile so I can’t be sure.  I learned things about fluid mechanics and geophysics!  (not to say they are scientifically accurate things.  see “Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics“.)

2.  Brutal Self-Sacrifice: there comes a point in any good armageddon action movie when characters have to give up their lives for the cause.  sometimes they draw straws, sometimes there’s empassioned arguing about who could be the most useful for the rest of the mission, but often it’s the guy who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.   Will he cut the tether and allow the doors to close so the rest of the team can make it to safety? Or will he insist that they try to rescue him, further endangering themselves and the mission?!  In The Core there are several types of self-sacrifice – the valiant on-purpose kind, the “oops the door is shutting” kind, and the “holy shit if we don’t jettison that thing now we’ll all die! frankie get out!!” kind.  One of the self-sacrifices involves the kind-hearted, unappreciated inventor of the superdrillship braving 9,000 degree metal to get to a manual override that will allow the remaining heroes to work their plan C for saving the world.  I appreciated the little touches, like the bursting of the helmet lamp and the gooey melting suit shoes.  Brutal.  (comparison: Bruce Willis must stay behind to detonate the nuke in Armageddon)

3. “Baby baby, hold together.”  Obviously none of these movies would be exciting if things went as planned.  And even if you manage to overcome the environmental obstacles, you’re left with the increasingly dire problem of wear and tear on your ship.  Usually the final problem to overcome is that of the blown power circuit, the broken propulsion system, or the breached helm that will keep you from making it home alive.  It doesn’t matter that you saved the world if you can’t get back to see it.  This is another area where scientific genius enters in, unlike in Dante’s Peak, where the solution to the problem of the melting metal boat in the acidified lake is to jump out and give it a shove. I guess that qualifies more as idiotic self-sacrifice.  Another significant trope that could fall under this category is the ubiquitous communications failure, forcing the heroes to prove that they’ve got what it takes to fly solo.  The lack of mission control usually leads to some flaring tempers, too.

4. Monumental destruction. What really needs to be said about this?  It’s the main fodder for all the trailers, because seeing the Parthenon exploded by lightning (?) is exciting even if you know it’s computerized to the max. The Core’s destruction sequences are really cheesy compared to Deep Impact and its megatsunami.  I haven’t seen Day After Tomorrow, or I would comment on it.  Microwaves getting through a hole in the Earth’s protective (and waning) electromagnetic shield and destroying the Golden Gate bridge? yawn.  A static lightning cloud storm thing roaring up the streets of Rome? yawn. (though the electrified espresso machine and the unsuspecting barrista was a nice sterotypical touch).  Pigeons going crazy and flying through windows and busting heads in London? hellll yes.

5. The Bad Guy. He seems like he’s there to save the world like the rest of the crew, but does he have an ulterior motive?  What’s with those clandestine communications to the head of the military?  What does he know that we don’t know!?  Eventually this guy either gets killed by a natural event – and we’re happy – get’s killed by a testosterone-ridden co-crewmember – and we’re happy – or he turns out to be a moral human after all, and chooses to do the right thing.  Either way his suspicious behavior creates some good tension as you wait for the moment when he’ll eff everything up by choosing self-preservation over self-sacrifice.

I also have to say that the hacker kid in The Core is a great character, and the Hot Pockets were yet another nice touch.

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Historical Issues #2: Soviet Film

There are such treasures hiding in the stacks, and really, they don’t make journal covers like they used to.  I coincidentally found these journals the same week that the Russian Film Symposium is happening in Pittsburgh, so I knew it was fated that I should share some of the images.

Soviet Film cover 1978 number 10

1978:no. 10 (257) Actor Oleg Yankovsky

Soviet Film 1978 number 9

1978:no. 9 (256): Actress Svetlana Toma

Soviet Film 1977 number 8

1977:no. 8 (243): Komaki Kurihara and Yuri Solomin in “Melodies of the White Night”, a Soviet-Japanese co-production.

Soviet Film 1976 number 11

1976:no. 11 (234): Sergei Bondarchuk on location during the shooting of “Steppe” based on the story of the same title by Anton Chekhov.

Soviet Film 1975 number 8

1975:no.8 (219): Actress Natalia Varley

Soviet Film 1972 number 2

1972:no.2 (177): Asanali Ashimov, the Kazakh actor who played in “Crossroad”, “The End of the Ataman,” “Kyz-Zhibek”

Soviet Film 1975 number 4

1975:no.4 (215): Film actress Ludmila Gurchenko (“Carnival Night”, “Girl with a Guitar”, “Baltic Sky”, “Factory Town”, “Open Book”, “Vaniushin’s Children”, “Old Walls”, and others)

Soviet Film 1972 number 1

1972:no.1 (176): the Ukrainian actress Larisa Kadochnikova

Soviet Film 1969 number 7

1969:no.7 (146): Actress Tatyana Doronina

Sorry about the weird image quality.  If anyone knows how to fix that or make it so the scanner doesn’t put those wavy lines in, please tell me for next time!

See also: my previous “Historical Issues” posts

(I provide a link because, for some reason, WordPress insists on the “Filed Under” link below not linking just to my blog, but to the entire world. psh.)

Smitten by frontier fiction

Anyone who’s read my blogs for awhile or seen my Flickr knows that I grew up around horses and am still a bit horse-crazy. When I played dress-up as a kid, I would put on ridiculous high-heeled shoes that were 12 sizes too big for me and teeter my way across the gravel road to the horse pasture:

childhood me in a dress, in a tree, with Freckles
childhood me in a dress, in a tree, with Freckles the horse

My family spent lots of time at rodeos or on extended camping trips that were basically excuses to go riding for days in a row.  Since then I haven’t really had anything to do with horses, except for daydreaming about them and living vicariously through movies and, more recently, video games. Or, I should say, just one video game: Red Dead Redemption, of course. I’m really close to beating the game, but I suspect I might just come back to it and ride around on my horse, rescuing ladies and shooting crows. All the virtual horse-riding is relaxing. Of course not as relaxing as riding a real horse, but I’ll take what I can get.

The animation of the horses in this game is really amazing. My pardner and I both got cowboy fever thanks to spending so much time in the virtual Old West. I had never seen any “spaghetti” Westerns, so we watched A Fistful of Dollars and will probably watch other Sergio Leone films once I stop wanting to indulge in season one of The Tudors.

What prompted me to make this post was that today, as I walked past the new book shelf at my library, I saw this book and immediately grabbed it. The first paragraph on the back cover is quite eloquent, so I’ll leave you with that in hopes that it will whet your appetite.

“A corral of cattle rustlers, outlaws, and other desperadoes ride the range in this bronco-busting anthology of nineteen tales set in the Old West. Spanning the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the diverse stories prove there’s no ‘average’ cowboy, but a wide range of rugged individuals. Yet these vividly portrayed characters all seem to posses a sense of freedom, a strong relationship with the land, and a desire to live by their own standards. The result is an action-packed collection that’s a feast for anyone smitten by frontier fiction.”

 

See also:

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

The Cowboy Encyclopedia

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s book list of Westerns, “When You Call Me That, Smile!”

Visualizing the LCSH monster update: Jan-Feb 2010

150 Animal jumping [May Subd Geog] [sp 85005205]
* 450 UF Animal leaping
* 450 UF Jumping behavior in animals
* 450 UF Leaping behavior in animals

Humans jumping animals: “Gaito Loka becomes a man during his initiation ritual, sometimes called cattle jumping. Male friends and relatives hold the animals in place as the jumper runs along their backs. Afterward, the young Hamar man must adhere to a strict diet including blood, milk, and honey until he marries.” – National Geographic

151 Woodward Avenue (Mich.) [sp2010001688]
451 UF M‑1 (Mich.)
451 UF Michigan Highway 1 (Mich.)
550 BT Roads—Michigan

Detroit image from www.oldcitypics.com

150 Boring sponges [May Subd Geog] [sp2010001908]
450 UF Bioeroding sponges
450 UF Excavating sponges
550 BT Marine borers
550 BT Sponges

150 Guitar and synthesizer music [May Subd Geog] [sp2010000529]
450 UF Synthesizer and guitar music
[Youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1mV_5-bRPo”%5D

150 Spiders in the Koran [sp2010001811]

150 Ninja in popular culture [May Subd Geog] [sp2010001722]
550 BT Popular culture
150 Chinatowns in motion pictures [Not Subd Geog] [sp2010001122]
550 BT Motion pictures
[Youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGLinT-Pdyo”%5D

150 Remorse in art [Not Subd Geog] [sp2010001322]

photo by Emre Ucar in “Paint it with blur” Flickr pool

150 Stop‑motion animation films [Not Subd Geog] [sp2010000786]
450 UF Object animation films
450 UF Stop‑action animation films
450 UF Stop‑motion animated films
450 UF Stop‑motion films
550 BT Animated films
vegetables and Star Wars to encourage us to buy organic!
[Youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocLbfdaONrs”%5D


150 History painting [May Subd Geog] [sp2008007183]

680 Here are entered works on narrative painting that depicts several figures enacting a scene usually drawn from classical history or mythology, or from the Bible.
550 BT Painting

150  Bats—Mortality   [May Subd Geog]   [sp2009010998]
* 550    RT White‑nose syndrome

150 Buildings—War damage [May Subd Geog] [sp 85145172]
* 550 RT Architecture and war

photograph by Donald Weber from “The Lost War” story, via the Black Snapper photography magazine archives

150  Drinking of alcoholic beverages—Marketing  [sp2010000413]

150  Enemies in art   [Not Subd Geog]   [sp2009010830]

150  Gravity in art   [Not Subd Geog]   [sp2009010556]

from Kaat Van Tiggel’s Flickr photostream

150  Traffic accidents in motion pictures [Not Subd Geog]   [sp2009009535]
550    BT Motion pictures

Weird, overdue, or especially unique headings:

150 Art objects in art [Not Subd Geog] [sp2010001816]

150 Bananas in popular culture [May Subd Geog] CHANGE GEOG [sp2006007645]
* 680 Here are entered works on the representation of bananas in popular culture.

150 Gifted Hawaiian children [May Subd Geog] [sp2010001320]
450 UF Gifted children, Hawaiian
450 UF Hawaiian gifted children
550 BT Gifted children—United States
550 BT Hawaiian children

150 Office buildings—Wales [May Subd Geog] [sp2010001151]

150 Gelatin—Flavor and odor [May Subd Geog] [sp2010000403]
450 UF Gelatin—Odor
550 BT Flavor
550 BT Odors

150 Ruins in motion pictures [Not Subd Geog] [sp2009007969]
* 550 BT Motion pictures

150 Communication in hairdressing [May Subd Geog] [sp2010000047]
550 BT Hairdressing

150 Embassy buildings—Decoration [May Subd Geog] [sp2009011095]
053 NK2195.E43
550 BT Decoration and ornament

150 Sex—Anthropological aspects [May Subd Geog] [sp2010000055]
550 BT Anthropology

Things in my orbit

Some rumblings of progress in the area of open data in archaeology

Library 2.0 podcasts (haven’t listened to any, just discovered they exist)

Making History Podcast

Flickr stream of creative business cards

Watched this movie over the weekend:


Overall it was pretty weird and terrible, but the first few minutes were some of the most visually interesting I’ve seen in awhile, thanks to the quick cuts and linked imagery. When I say the movie was terrible, though, I mean it really was a disappointment. Not scary, and really there was nothing to the plot and the characters. Pauline Kael has an excellent (in my opinion) review of it, published in the New Yorker:
Pauline Kael, The Current Cinema, “Labyrinths,” The New Yorker, December 24, 1973, p. 68.

Unfortunately I can’t give any quotes because I don’t have access to any electronic version, and the book I read it in is at home.

I registered for the ARLIS/NA conference in Boston, in April. Should be exciting…finally an excuse to design my own business cards!

An article on anarchist archives/collections/resources in College & Research Libraries News caught my eye. It’s a nice article, but I’m surprised the Centre International de Recherches sur l’Anarchisme (CIRA) wasn’t included. Granted, the pages of this newsletter/journal are tinier than most.

visualizing the LCSH, weeks 50 & 51

150 Educational films [May Subd Geog] [sp2001000481]
* 680 This heading is used as a topical heading for works about films that are intended to impart knowledge and information, including those for classroom viewing. Works about films designed to impart skills or techniques to general audiences, typically in a “how‑to” manner, are entered under Instructional films. When used as topical headings they are subdivided by the appropriate geographic, topical, and/or form subdivisions.

150 Gymnastics for boys [May Subd Geog] [sp2009008865]
* 550 BT Gymnastics for children CANCEL
* 550 BT Sports for children

(New York Times image attributed to Frederic J. Brown)

150 Machinery in motion pictures [Not Subd Geog] [sp2009009670]
053 PN1995.9.M18
550 BT Motion pictures



151 NGC 300 (Galaxy) [sp2009009615]
667 This heading is not valid for use as a geographic subdivision.
451 UF Dun 530 (Galaxy)
451 UF GC 169 (Galaxy)
451 UF H 2359 (Galaxy)
451 UF NGC300 (Galaxy)
550 BT Spiral galaxies

(image from nasa.gov)

150 Peddlers and peddling in art CANCEL
150 Peddlers in art [Not Subd Geog] [sp 85099130]
450 UF Peddlers and peddling in art [EARLIER FORM OF HEADING]

(“Marchand d’abat-jour, rue Lepic” – Eugène Atget. albumen print (c.1900) from the George Eastman House collection on Flickr.)

150 Precarious employment [May Subd Geog] [sp2009008937]
680 Here are entered works on labor that is poorly paid, unregulated, and lacks job
security.
450 UF Employment, Precarious
550 BT Labor

Gus Powell – from “Voetganger Amsterdam” series
for now I went with a more literal interpretation of “precarious”.

150 Absence in motion pictures [Not Subd Geog] [sp2009009505]
550 BT Motion pictures

150 Ceilings—Decoration [May Subd Geog] [sp2009010550]
550 BT Decoration and ornament

(a picture of a ceiling at the Library of Congress, from my Flickr)

150 Corn—Utilization [May Subd Geog] [sp 86004524]
* 681 Example under Plants, Useful CANCEL
* 681 Example under Plants, Useful; Wildlife utilization

(vintage postcard from Jasperdo’s Flickr photostream)

(USA Today article)
I have actually been to the Corn Palace!

150 Rock musicians in art [Not Subd Geog] [sp2009010571]


(both illustrations by Max Dalton. “Guitar Lessons” discovered via World Famous Design Junkies)