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of Autumn 2013 my daily workload has increased along with other daily
requirements. So I have reduced the number of events I attend and
review here. If you would like to stay current with my most recent
offerings, please read my blog at The Perfect Round - I may not upload a post every day, but there should be one or two items each week. You can also read regular tweets @cxshakespeare
In addition . . .
The Amazon page for The Perfect Round with reviews is here
There is a local newspaper review here.
There is another book review here (from Red City Review)
There is a preview of the book at Ask David here
My selected blogs also appear at the blogger site here
There is a short author bio and photo at Authors DB
and there is a Perfect Round page at tumblr as well as a book page at Facebook
I have now seen Prometheus six times (twice in IMAX, three times in 3D, twice in 2D) and I am convinced it may be Sir Ridley Scott's finest film so far. Not only is it beautifully designed, art directed, photographed, edited and scored, but the script and acting performances are excellent too. I wish I could see it again on the big screen. I'll just have to wait and make due with the Blu-ray when it comes out (October 11, 2012).
Recurring themes in Sir Ridley's films make me regard him as an "auteur" (as described in "Cahiers du Cinéma" and film criticism of Truffaut, Rohmer, Godard and others). From renegade invention and technology, to existentialism and corporate sociopathology, Prometheus is a labyrinth of insight and significance without conventional conclusions. Visually, the film is phenomenal with gorgeous sets and production design and lighting. I'm also listening to Marc Streitenfeld's score daily to maintain the residual ambience.
I predict Prometheus will only improve with age and be more appreciated in the future. With an R rating and some anxious tension, it may not be suitable for the general audience, but as a visual work of art, the film has few rivals except maybe Alien (1979) also directed by Scott. Bladerunner may not have been appreciated at the time of its release as much as it is today either. Prometheus seems to be woven from a similar cinematic fabric - one ahead of its time. Although a moneymaker worldwide, it certainly deserved a longer stay in theatres.
My sincere compliments to Mr. Scott, Dariusz Wolski, Arthur Max, MPC, Weta Workshop and the entire production crew for a superb film. They have created a modern masterpiece.
As a lifelong fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs, I was thrilled to see the announcement last year there was a John Carter story coming. After a moment of profound disbelief, I have to admit, I was a little worried after what happened with The Fantastic Four and Green Lantern (both very disappointing in my opinion).
All my anxiety went away, however, when I found out Andrew Stanton would be directing. At least I knew for an absolute fact that Mr. Stanton would be faithful to Barsoom and would do a truly wonderful job. I was not disappointed.
The team assembled by Disney has created an astonishing film! From the flying war ships and all the machines to the landscapes to the architecture of Helium, the artwork is superb. The cast was great too. Taylor Kitsch is a good choice for Captain Carter. I'm glad they didn't go for a big box office star. Lynn Collins is a great choice for Princess Dejah Thoris, because she has to be brilliant and heroic as well as beautiful. The supporting characters are all excellent.
Best of all, the feel and atmosphere of the film really delivers. For a picture that runs well over 2 hours, the time just flew by for me. I could have sat there for another six hours. This is a must see for Burroughs fans. I saw it in 3D Ultra AVX and will be going back to the theatre to see it again. There is no question I will buy the Blu-ray the day it comes out.
Thank you Andrew Stanton and all the people at Disney for doing a fantastic job!
I watched Tintin in the theatre again in 3D and was even more impressed than the first time. The animators seemed to have found a unique and wonderful compromise to avoid the "uncanny valley" hyposthesis of replicating human likeness. The virtual cast of the film possess elements that look incredibly real while still profoundly locked in the world of artistic representation.
I was originally, genuinely concerned about the problem before I saw the film. Movies like Final Fantasy and Polar Express touched on the "uncanny" topic described in the work of Masahiro Mori - where the so-called "valley" is depicted on a graph of human emotional reaction to a robot's human resemblance. As a robot's appearance gets closer and closer to looking like a real person, the observer responds more and more positively until the point of strange or "uncanny" where the obserever gets creeped out. That's when the robot fails to evoke a positive empathic response. It happens in animation too...but not in Tintin.
In addition, the artwork of the world they inhabit is among the best - right along with Cars 2 and Rango, but what really distinguishes Tintin is the camera position and movement. With the freedom of a virtual world modelled and rendered in 3D, the camera can be anywhere and go anywhere, but rarely do you see it done with the eye of a master filmmaker like Steven Spielberg. There are camera angles in the film that must be unique to all of cinema. The camera flies under a car that almost hits Tintin when he runs into the street. It flies along with a falcon over water flooding from a broken dam. It jumps from a night aerial view to an extreme closeup where you can see the untrimmed nose hairs of Captain Haddock. It does it all so quickly and seemlessly it seems almost subliminal.
Along with the incredible speed and pace, Tintin may have redefined and altered the future of animated cinema. It will be very, very interesting to see how the Academy responds to Tintin for the nominations and wins of this year's Oscars ®.
Secrets of their Ancient World - at the Royal Ontario Museum
I visited the ROM to see the Maya show and was amazed at the story behind the art. It was not an empire or a cohesive culture, but a collective of fabulous cities that were inexplicably abandoned hundreds of years ago. They have a truly unique sense of design and written language. I loved it. For enthusiasts of history, this show will really catch your attention, because their are currently a lot of people working in the field trying to unravel the secrets of this lost world. Don't miss it! Here's a link to the ROM site.
Live On Stage
I was just at Stage West Mississauga last night and saw their latest production Motown Gold. I absolutely loved it! Every song was a hit and the cast and band are amazing. What a great night of great music.
The show has been a sold out hit all through the holidays and into January. With the great cast, it may have a great future...
I am sad to say the extraordinary British film director who made Women In Love and The Devils has passed away. Ken Russell has been praised and criticized with descriptive terms including flamboyant, outrageous and controversial, but he was also innovative, intelligent and brilliant.
One of my favourite photos of Ken is on the cover of John Baxter's book An Appalling Talent. While he may have crossed (often) the line of good taste, he was always the hero of filmmakers, because he consistently broke barriers and established new boundaries with immense skill.
The way he used music was also unique, because he gave it such a high priority. From Lisztomania to Tommy to The Music Lovers, the music drove his films to greatness. His BBC film series about composers including Elgar, Strauss, Prokofiev and dancer Isadora Duncan are all brilliant - all contributing to the fact that Mr. Russell has never been given the public recognition he truly deserves.
By sheer luck, I was at the 2010 FanExpo in Toronto and was unaware he was going to be there. When I spotted him sitting at a table, promoting a new project, I was too nervous to go up and talk to him. He was so intimidating. I had my camera with me, however, and I did take a shot, but you can see the entire situation in his face - obviously, he could see right into my mind - it's as if he knew what I was thinking. I was petrified. Years of experience and awareness are in his expressive eyes. So I have posted that photo here.
Hopefully, there will be a DVD soon of The Devils - probably his most controversial film of all. Many of his other projects are available from stores online.
Here are some links:
The Guardian obit
The Telegraph obit
The Daily Mail obit