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Posts Tagged ‘John Carter of Mars’

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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No matter how instinctively gregarious one may be there are times when one longs for solitude.  I like people.  I like to be with my family, my friends, my fighting men; and probably just because I am so keen for companionship, I am at times equally keen to be alone.  It is at such times that I can best resolve the knotty problems of government in times of war or peace.  It is then that I can meditate upon all the various aspects of a full life such as I lead; and, being human, I have plenty of mistakes upon which to meditate that I may fortify myself against their recommission.
    —    John Carter (of Mars)
From the book:  “Llana Of Gathol
Written by:  Edgar Rice Burroughs
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Well, it’s been about 7 weeks now and I’m down just over 26 pounds!  Not great, but not bad either.  I’m now at 306 and a bit…  I’m now hoping for sub-300 by Christmas.
Last Thursday, 3 Dec 09, Hil and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.  We went out for an Indian dinner.  It was quite nice – quiet, because it was the middle of the week.
Over the weekend, we went out and bought a replacement PC for the home and a netbook for wandering around the house (or just sitting in bed).  The desktop is just a netbook without a built-in monitor.  Since all we do is a bit of word processing and web surfing, it should be more than enough for us – for now.  I can always go out and get a beefy-er PC if it turns out we really need one.
We got the DVD “Up” over the weekend.  It is a terrific little movie!!  We both thoroughly enjoyed it.  Definitely a movie to watch repeatedly – Squirrel!!
Way back when I was in the Army, my roommate was a guy named Jeffery Barron.  He noticed I was into serial adventure novels and he suggested his personal favorite – John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  I bought the series (11 books) but never got past the first one.  Anyway, I was looking at my shelves and I’ve been carrying these books around the world for almost 30 years, so I’ve decided to read them.  I’m now into book four.  They’re pretty good in a “Indiana Jones” kind of way.  The problem is you always know he’ll somehow survive for the next book.  Still, it’s good light reading to get the mind off of the “real” world.
Two political updates: health care is not doing well.  We need a national health care system with 100% of the public able to apply for it.  It should also have private options for anyone who wishes to supplement their regular coverage.  At the moment, the insurance and drug lobbies have too much money invested for there to be a real solution.  It looks like once again, we’ve missed a major opportunity to improve America.
The second note is on President Obama’s decision to increase the troop level in Afghanistan.  As mentioned in my previous blog, this is a terrible mistake.  The “war” there is not sustainable, let alone winnable.  We need to get out – plain and simple.

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