Star Trek turned 50 this week and while Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future has created a massive franchise, there was also an influential sci-fi movie serial series in the 1950s. Sure maybe it it influenced more laughs and mocking from today’s audiences and maybe it wasn’t as influential as say Flash Gordon or Buck Rodgers but Commando Cody still has his place in the history of sci-fi entertainment.
To start things off is the 1949 King of the Rocket Men. Now this serial wasn’t a Commando Cody serial but it first introduced the costume that Commando Cody wore in his adventures. King of the Rocket Men was about a couple of scientists fighting a mysterious evil genius named Dr. Vulcan. One of the scientists has invented a rocket pack with jacket and a bullet shaped helmet for the other scientist, Jeff King (Tristram Coffin) who also invented a ray gun to wear and go fight Dr. Vulcan. The serial was a hit for Republic Studios. Republic loved keeping costs low and so they recycled the costume and footage for their next serial. Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Commando Cody: Sky Marshall Of The Universe”
Queen of Katwe (USA, 2016): A calculated risk for Disney, Queen of Katwe fits among the uplifting sport movies the House of Mouse puts out every year, but it’s also distinctive enough to stand apart. The biopic is set in Uganda, has a mostly African cast and is directed by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, The Reluctant Fundamentalist), a filmmaker with a knack to capture cultural nuances without been patronizing.
Free Fire (USA/UK, 2016): Ben Wheatley is without a doubt one of the most interesting contemporary filmmakers at work, but his filmography is far from immaculate. He often engages in self-indulgence and glamorization of violence.
Free Fire embodies both of Wheatley’s main flaws. In fact, more than a movie, Free Fire feels like an exercise in style, following the infinitely more complex and ambitious High-Rise.
1978, Boston. A group of IRA members intents to purchase a number of automatic weapons from a shifty South African dealer at an abandon warehouse. The already tense exchange shifts into hyper-drive when men at both sides of the transaction succumb to the pressure. Continue reading “TIFF ’16 – Day 2: Free Fire, Elle, Snowden”
Toni Erdmann (Germany, 2016): A Cannes sensation, Toni Erdmann has already been celebrated as one of the comedic achievements of the decade, even making its way into the 100 Best Movies of the 21st Century list, according to the BBC.
Guess what. It’s overrated.
Don’t get me wrong, Toni Erdmann is far from a bad movie, but the 160 minutes-long comedy doesn’t deserve such unrestrained praise.
Winfried, a music teacher and incorrigible joker, tries to reconnect with his daughter Ines, a serious businesswoman on assignment in Rumania. The prankster fails in his first attempt, so he brings out the big guns, namely his alter ego, Toni Erdmann. The character is an obnoxious bore, but at least gets a reaction from Ines, noticeably depressed but unaware of it. Continue reading “TIFF ’16 – Day 1: Toni Erdmann, Werewolf, The Commune, Neruda”
Fifty years ago today NBC debuted a science fiction TV show called Star Trek. You’ve probably heard of it — the continuing voyages of the starship Enterprise, and all that? I grew up loving Star Trek (in reruns — I’m not THAT old), so I’d have to be drunk on Saurian brandy or dying of Vegan choriomeningitis to ignore this occasion. Here are my six favourite original series episodes. You can bet I’ll watch a couple on Netflix tonight.
1. “Balance Of Terror”
This episode introduces the recurring Federation foes the Romulans with a Cold War paranoia and racism parable. It also has a chess-like spaceship duel that’s second only to Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan’s.
I’m cheating — this one’s from the 1973 animated Star Trek. Given that all the major actors (except Walter Koenig as Chekov) returned for this show (and Koenig wrote an episode anyway), it’s legit Trek in my book. After Spock is erased from history, he must travel back in time to save his younger self. You’ll never forget Spock’s adorable childhood pet sehlat, I-Chaya. Trust me.
3. “The Doomsday Machine”
Can Captain James T. Kirk use a wrecked Federation starship to defeat a humongous tinfoil space worm? Goddamn right he can. Amusing transporter problems and exasperated Enterprise crew members add to the fun.
4. “Devil In The Dark”
Space miners put jobs ahead of local wildlife and habitat. Sadly still relevant.
5. “Operation: Annihilate!”
Flying rubber pancake parasites from outer space wreak havoc. ’Nuff said.
6. Honourable Mentions
Oh come on, no one could pick only six favourite Star Trek episodes, so here are more: “City On The Edge Of Forever” (time travel, lethal moral conundrums), “Errand of Mercy” (Klingons!!!), “Space Seed” (Khaaaan!!!), “The Trouble With Tribbles” (an ecological meditation on invasive species — plus Klingons!!!), “Arena” (Kirk wrestles a bug-eyed space lizard), “The Enterprise Incident” (Romulans haz Klingon battlecruisers???!!!), “The Corbomite Maneuver” (discussed: the merits of poker over chess), “The Mark Of Gideon” (or: “why condoms matter”), the two-part, brilliantly-retrofitted original Star Trek pilot, “the Menagerie” (which won a Hugo award), and of course, “Amok Time” — because A.) horny Spock!!! and B.) the word “amok”.
The current issue of Planet S Magazine is Issue #1 of Volume 15. That makes it our 365th issue. Kind of a special number. Imagine, you could now read an issue of Planet S every day for a year, and not read the same one twice! OK…I lied. Actually, you can’t, because I hold the only remaining copy of Volume 1, Issue 1. Check it out…
We’ve gone through 3 designs, a couple offices, too much beer and wine and coffee and tea, 3 printing contractors, 5 delivery contractors, 3 websites, freelancers aplenty and a load of great (and not great – one dude quit three days after he started) staff.
We’ve watched many local endeavours come and go during our run because publishing a magazine ain’t easy and it doesn’t make ya rich. But, if you have the right people, you can make something of value to the city. We still enjoy the days of the week spent slaving over what we think is important… independent journalism.
The purpose of this post is mostly to say thank you. Thank you to our readers. Thanks to our contributors and staff. Thanks to our partners. Thanks to our advertisers. We coulda done it without you but it woulda sucked.
Gillian Anderson, a staple of the increasingly larger Toronto FanExpo, draws large crowds. There was a full house at her Q & A even though she didn’t have anything new to promote (her next high profile gig is as Media in the TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods). Here are some nuggets of her talk:
Gillian hasn’t seen a single complete episode of Hannibal, the show many attended the Q & A to hear about. She has watched some scenes, but more often than not she covered her eyes at the gory parts. Asked what she liked more about her character, Lecter’s therapist Bedelia Du Maurier, she responded with a curt “I don’t fucking know”.
Anderson has no clue if or when The X-Files are coming back.
The character she relates to the most is The Fall‘s Stella Gibson. Scully is “too square”. The most fun role? Blanche DuBois in the stage version of “A Streetcar Named Desire”.
Asked about a piece of advice that has gotten her through hard times, Anderson responded, “Everything passes”.
Actor Jon Polito passed away last week from cancer. Polito starred in a lot of movies and TV but he was most recognized for his minor roles that he played in several of the Coen brothers films. 1990’s Miller’s Crossing was probably Polito’s biggest role in a Coen brother movie and he was fantastic in it.
Miller’s Crossing was Coen brothers sort of homage to the works of Dashiell Hammett. In particular The Glass Key and Red Harvest were used as inspiration. The movie starts with Jon Polito’s character Jonny Caspar asking crime boss Leo (Albert Finney) to hand over Bernie Bernbaum (John Turturro) who has been messing with Caspar’s fixes. Leo is sleeping with Bernie’s sister Vera (Marcia Gay Harden) so he tells Caspar no. Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Miller’s Crossing”
Wow. There are a lot of candidates running this year. And we haven’t even entered the official nomination period. Between Sept. 6th and 21st, candidates need to file their papers and then, have until the 22nd to chicken out. As of this moment, 26 candidates have unofficially entered the race. Yup, that is a lot. On the downside (or not), half the wards (1, 4, 5, 7, 10) have only the incumbent running. (4 and 7 have revised boundaries)
If you want a quick source for questions like “What ward are we in, Delores?” or “What the hell was the name of that woman who knocked on my door the other night?” or perhaps “Where’s my friggin’ voting place?”, I recommend this page. If you want to hear what our Mayoralty candidates are all about, a very tall bird told me there is a public debate in the offing this fall. You did NOT hear this from me.
The election is October 26th. Thus far, none of the 4 candidates for Mayor have mentioned building walls, encouraged violence or revealed they have tiny little hands. Please vote. Voting gives you the right to complain and complaining is what the internet is for!
Saskatoon election FunFact – Jim Pankiw once garnered over 18 400 votes in a bid for the Mayor chair.
Gene Wilder died. He was old, I guess. 83…that’s old, right? Wilder hadn’t appeared on film since the ’90s. He “retired” from acting because the scripts he received…piles of them every year… weren’t good, in his opinion. Well, the script he received from Mel Brooks in ’73 was a dandy. So I celebrate, with just under a minute of my favourite movie of all-time.