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Posts Tagged ‘JCoM’

This week I re-watched “good night, and good luck.” (GNGL), and “John Carter“, (JCoM) both on DVD.
During the 1960’s-70’s, when I was coming of age, the most trusted man in America was Walter Cronkite who presented the evening new for CBS.  But before Cronkite, there was another journalism legend at CBS – his name was Edward R. Murrow.   GNGL is a movie about the abuse of power by a government figure (Senator Joseph McCarthy) and the struggle to contain / curtail that abuse by CBS TV journalist Edward R. Murrow.  While Murrow did not “personally” bring down McCarthy, Murrow’s programs marked the start of McCarthy’s fall from grace.  GNGL is the story of the broadcasts which ultimately led to the vote of censure by the U.S. Senate against McCarthy.
The movie is shot in black and white to highlight the “feel” of 1953 America – in the days before color television (yes, kids, there was a time when TV was in black and white ONLY) – like watching an Ansel Adams nature portrait come to life.   It worked for me, even though I generally don’t care for new films (that is, non-classics) which don’t seem to use the drama provided by black and white as well as it appears in GNGL.  The writing and performances are crisp and David Strathairn captures Murrow perfectly (or as near as I can imagine it to be).
I did not see this film at the theater and this was my second time viewing the DVD.  I’m not sure why, but I don’t have my first viewing on this blog.  The movie is from 2005, so it’s possible I saw the DVD before I started this blog (in ’09).   In any case, this is a highly recommended!!
As an aside, as a young child, I grew up listening to a box set of 78 LP’s titled: “I Can Hear It Now“.  I still have vivid recollections of sitting in an old red armchair and listening to history over and over again: “Fear Itself”, “Day of Infamy”, “Greatest Hour”, the destruction of the Hindenburg, etc.  Some of the greatest moments of 20th century radio and the thread which linked them in my mind was the voice of Edward R. Murrow.
The second movie I watched was “John Carter“, which was originally supposed to be called “John Carter of Mars” or “John Carter and the Princess of Mars“.  I did see this movie at the theater and I’ve watched it on DVD when I first bought it, but for some reason, I didn’t review it – probably, because I watched it mid-week and didn’t get back to a review on the weekend (procrastinating me).
For those not familiar with the story, Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote a series of eleven short novels about a Civil War officer who is transported to Mars and who then has a series of adventures leading up to his becoming a War Lord of Mars.  The books were written / published over a number of decades.  I first encountered the books while I was in the Army.  My roommate knew of my interest in adventure novels (mostly SciFi) and told me about the series, which was his favorite while he was growing up.  He seemed quite surprised I had never heard of the series.  Anyway, I bought the series and carried them around for the better part of 35 years before finally getting around to reading them.  I was motivated to read them by the up-coming release of the movie.
This is one of those movies people say can never be shot because of the nature of the special effects required to convey the story.  Well, I’m happy to say technology has caught up with imagination in this age of the super-hero movie, so this movie could finally be made.  You can read my initial review here.  On re-watching the DVD, my opinion remains – it’s a VERY entertaining little movie.  Is it a great movie?  No…  Has a lot of the stuff (FX) been done before?  Yes.  Does it matter?  Nope, not to me anyway.  Summer escapism / action flick…  If the movie gets you to go back and read the books or the Tarzan series (also written by Burroughs), then the movie has served its purpose in history.
The shame is the movie was so badly marketed, it lost Disney a ton of money and there will probably not be any sequels developed.  That’s a shame because there are a lot worse movies out there that have a ton of abysmal sequels.  Strong recommendation (borderline high recommendation) – I enjoy it more each time I view it.
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This week I completed the last four books in the John Carter of Mars series written by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  The books are titled: “Swords Of Mars” (#8) (1934©);  “Synthetic Men Of Mars” (#9) (1939©);  “Llana Of Gathol” (#10) (1948©) – originally published in four novelettes in 1941; and, “John Carter Of Mars” (#11) (1964©) – published posthumously.
As mentioned in previous blogs, this was a series recommended to me by an Army roommate, way back in the mid-1970’s, which I’ve just gotten around to reading.  I read the first one back then, but never got around to the rest.  About two years ago, I looked at them and said to myself, “Enough already, just read them…”  I re-read the first and burrowed (pun intended) through the next four.  I then got bored and put the rest aside, until last year when I read number six.  It still didn’t catch my taste, so I again put the rest aside.  Now, with the movie coming out next month, I decided (again) to bite the bullet and complete the series.  I read number seven last week.  Now I’ve completed the rest.
In a way, it’s a strange feeling to carry a series of books around for 30-plus years (over half your lifetime) and then finally to complete reading them.  Kind of a combination of accomplishment and loss at the same time.
Here’s the full list from the series:
1)  “A Princess Of Mars” (1912©);  John Carter wakes up on Mars, meets his future spouse (Dejah Thoris) and a lifelong green Martian friend (Tars Tarkas).
2) “The Gods Of Mars” (1913©);  John Carter discovers the Gods of Mars are legends of evil men.
3) “Warlord Of Mars” (1913©);   John Carter (again) saves Dejah Thoris and ultimately becomes Warlord of Helium (and Mars).
4) “Thuvia, Maid Of Mars” (1963©);  Carthoris (John Carter’s son) must rescue his future spouse; originally published in 1916.
5) “The Chessmen Of Mars” (1922©);  The story of Tara of Helium (John Carter’s daughter) and her spouse (Gahan of Gathol).
6) “The Master Mind Of Mars” (1963©);  A second Earthling (Ulysses Paxton) comes to Mars, becomes Vad Varo and must rescue his future spouse.  Originally published in 1927.
7) “A Fighting Man Of Mars” (1930©);  Tan Hadron of Hastor meets and saves his spouse, a slave girl who is actually a princess.
8) “Swords Of Mars” (1935©);  John Carter must save Dejah Thors (yet again), but at least he’s back to being a main character…
9) “Synthetic Men Of Mars” (1939©);  Vor Daj (one of John Carter’s lieutenants) must save his future spouse.
10) “Llana Of Gathol” (1948©);  first published in 1941 as a serial format as four separate stories; Llana (John Carter’s grand-daugther) meets and must be saved by her future spouse.
11) “John Carter Of Mars” (1964©);  two novelettes consolidated into a single book and published posthumously;  John Carter fights another “super-intelligent” synthetic man who has (in turn) created a giant synthetic man of his own; and, the start of a new series which starts a war with the inhabitants of Jupiter.  The series is never completed due to the death of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  The two works were originally published separately in 1941 and 1943 respectively.
The first three volumes make up one complete story.  They are pretty good to very good.  The middle section, volumes four through seven are so-so.  The last four are pretty good again.  Are any of them “realistic”?  No more than the “StarWars” or “Indiana Jones” movies.  Are they entertaining anyway?  Yeah, they are.  I’m very much looking forward to the movie release on 9 March 2012 of the first book.  They are supposed to make the trilogy if the first movie is a big enough hit.  Here’s to smash hits…!!!
One interesting final note: there was approximately 30 years between the publishing of the first volume and the last one.  It is ironic that it took me a similar length of time to go from one to eleven.
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