Sunday, November 28, 2010

Farewell Leslie Nielsen

It seems like only last week that I was writing a brief obit for another Canadian personality, Maury Chaykin ... and today is sad, because we farewell a Canadian legend, never mind a personality. Leslie Nielsen passed away at the age of 84, of pneumonia. He was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1926, and and the first time I saw him he was on another planet ... a forbidden planet, in fact.

Across more than 40 years I saw him in more movies than I can count, but I'll always remember him as Buck Frobisher in Due South. The show's folk lore says that the film crew didn't even know how to lace Constable Benton Fraser's Mountie boots up right, till Leslie showed 'em how when he guest-starred in an early first season episode. Turns out, his dad had been a Mountie!

Farewell, Leslie Nielsen. You will definitely be missed by about three generations of movie and TV fans. Here's the whole story on IMDB, in far more depth than I could hope to approximate here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Captain Jack ... what's in a name?

And apparently, when the name is "Captain Jack," there's a heck of a lot in it. In fact, I was very tempted to chuck all the images in here and say, "There, sort them out yourself!" But no. Would I do that to you? Well, I probably would if I didn't have the time to do this properly, but since I do...!

There's at least EIGHT Captain Jacks that I know of, and you could probably find someone out there who knows some more. But right now let's have a look at the eight of 'em. This gallant company starts with the one you probably know best, or second-best:

There you go ... with strains of The Johnny Depp Song going around your head ... Jack Sparrow himself! What's the Johnny Depp song? Allow me to illuminate you:

Okay --! So that's one down, seven more to go! The other one you probably know best, or second best: Harkness, Jack Harkness ... the time agent from the 51st Century who's now not merely immortal but indestructible:

...and now it gets better, because you get two Jack Harknesses for the price of one:

And if you think your glasses just steamed up, and you didn't see that right, here's Take Two ... oooooh, yes you did:

Captain Jack Harkness of Torchwood, 2007, meet Captain Jack Harkness of the US Airforce, 1941. Boy meets boy, the old, old story, right?

Okay, there's three down! Next:

Let me transport you back to 1980, or thereabouts. Captain Jack Vincent ... the show was Smuggler, a young adults' adventure series set in the Napoleonic Wars. Some episodes were too juvenile to really "travel well" across the generations, but some were absolutely top-notch. This Captain Jack was brooding, simmering ... smuggling in fact. So there's Number Four. Next?

Your grandmom would tell you, maybe with a quiver in her voice, that John Wayne wasn't always old and grizzled. You demand the evidence before you believe? Okay, you got it. Our generation didn't invent gorgeous, we only think we did:

And this here, with the hat and the major sideburns in the color still above, is Captain Jack ... Stewart. The movie is Reap the Wild Wind, and it's still a good watch, about sixty years later! So that's Captain Jack number 5. Next?

Now it gets musical. Enter Billy Joel at stage left:

Not sure if I'd call Billy's music "timeless." Not usually my kind of thing, actually, but there sure is a Captain Jack coming at you from this direction ... and if you're in the mood for two Captain Jacks for the price of one again, here's Billy Joel's Jack, plus the one in the greatcoat ... "Captain Jack will get you high tonight." (Warning to the faint hearted: there's some stuff on the soundtrack that rates this MA15, and some visuals, likewise.)

So that's Captain Jack number Six. Still two to go, that I know of ... and I'm sure there's others. Drop me a line, kids, and I'll update this. But in the meantime, try this for a golden oldie: Captain Jack and the Mermaid was a folk album that came out in 1975 ... and I've been listening to the audio CD since about 1982. Would give anything for a CD version, but you can't beg, borrow or steal them. You can only get Captain Jack as Amazon MP3 downloads ... and if you're not in America, you're outta luck, because Amazon MP3 is another Americans Only club. Here is is:

And I know the cover of a music album doesn't mean a heck of a lot, so try this instead ... YouTube to the rescue, to a point. They won't let you embed a videoclip. It's a good song, though not the best on the album (The Elf Glade is the best ... whoooo!)

And there is actually one more Captain Jack. The real one -- real, live historical character. The Black Irish Band has recorded the story. The first 75 seconds of this video give you a history lesson, so if you just want the song, fast forward to 1:15. But this is the real deal:

Starring as Captain Jack:

Johnny Depp as Sparrow
John Barrowman as Harkness
Matt Rippy as the "real" Harkness
Oliver Tobias as Vincent
John Wayne as Stewart

With music by Billy Joel, Meg Davis and Black Irish.

Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mad Max 4: not coming soon to a theater anywhere near you

Mad Max 4 ... and it's not good news. With the movie delayed yet again, all cst announcements (or predictions, or inspired guesses) made in the past are void. If you check Sam Worthington's page at, you won't see a mention of Mad Max 4 there. [AG sighs heavily]

The reason for the current delay: Climate Change-1, Max Rockatansky-0.

Seriously. This ran on the ABC in October, and they were not joshing you:

Filming of George Miller's fourth Mad Max, Fury Road, has been postponed for a second time.

Production is now expected to begin in Broken Hill in 2012.

Accommodation provider Hugh Gough says he received an email from Kennedy Miller

Productions at the weekend informing him filming would not start in February as planned.

Mr Gough says no reason was given for the delay.

This is the second time the film has been delayed. In July, Kennedy Miller Productions said unseasonal rains had made Broken Hill too fertile.


If I had to make an inspired guess, I'd say Kennedy Miller will have to shoot around Sam Worthington's schedule ... no longer do you just give out your orders about when you want to shoot. He's a busy boy and a mega-star. That'll push the scheduling for the movie around -- and there's no guarantee you can get him in any case.

Also, you wait for Mama Nature to turn the Broken Hill region back into an iron oxide desert, if you want Mad Max to look like, well, like Mad Max. No good filming there, if it looks like Ireland! See what climate change is doing, and how real it is? Sheesh. Can't even make a movie without being sabotaged by fields of flowers in a region that oughtta look like the planet Mars.

Breaking into song for a second, "You must remember this..."

And it's a real pity the delays have caused the cast to evaporate, because I could really believe Sam Worthington in this part...

Back to the drawing board. Patience is a virtue ... I guess. Well, poop.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Johnny Depp: more tattoos, because you asked!

If there's one page on this blog that's five times more popular than any other page, it's the post where I talked about Johnny Depp's body art. But that was a year ago, and I've been wondering if there's more art on the man now, or failing that more pictures of the art on the man. And it turns out, there are, a you no doubt noticed from the above.

Then there's a whole 'nother category: tattoos of Johnny Depp, rather than on Johnny Depp...

And that's pretty darned cool. I wonder if that one's permanent, or if it's one of those temporary ones that wash off after the convention has finished? Is there a way to tell, by just looking rather than getting in there and attacking part of it with a pot scrubber? Mind you, I think the person actually wearing the tat would notice, sooner or later, if you did that ... and one might get oneself busted in the chops, and the pot scrubber shoved somewhere less than pleasant.

Oh, what the heck? Let's have some more Johnny Depp pictures. Why? Because I feel like it. Is there any better reason? Do you even need a reason to get out your Johnny Depp pictures? Sheesh.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

John Barrowman: go west, young time agent!

This isn't news ... to be news, I'd have had to put this post up in mid-August! But it's interesting to me, because I finally, finally got to see the third season, the miniseries, of Torchwood -- Children of Earth. This also ain't a review, because it's too late for that, as well ... shows you how much a much of a chaos my life has been lately!

You might be wondering what I thought of Children of Earth? I'll give it 9 out of 10, and I only dock the last mark because the ending was downbeat enough that I'm not sure I want to shell out $45 (incl. p+h) to buy it.

I'm not talking about the death of Jack's lover and best mate, Ianto Jones ... that, I can accept as necessary, painful and marvellously dramatic. But I have to admit, I was expecting a much more upbeat conclusion -- Jack always found a way to save the day in style. He certainly saves the day in this one, but the "style" is grand tragedy, a la Wagner. Everything has blown away on the wind, and Torchwood is literally over. Gone. Hmmm.

Now, to viewers in Australia and England, the miniseries was dark and absolutely harrowing -- far more so than we're accustomed to from TV, and especially from something like Torchwood. Imagine my surprise to read the American reviews, where not one but several critics referred to the same five hours of digital video as (get this), "good fun," and "lighthearted."

Uh....hunh? Hey, whatever, dudes.

If they thought Children of Earth was good, lighthearted fun, gawd only knows what they're accustomed to watching on American TV, and I don't wanna even speculate about that!

And what worries me is -- and given the above!! -- Torchwood is heading west. To America.

If this is news to you (maybe you've been working as hard as me for the last six months and haven't seen much Internet, much less a magazine!) I'll give you a quick bulletin: against the odds, the show was picked up for a 10-episode fourth season, all of which is going to be one loooong extended story -- but one of the sponsors is the US cable network, Starz, and their involvement takes the show to America and adds an American cast. Which is fair enough ... if American money is paying for it, they want to listen to American actors, not to Welshmen, right? Right. That's not what worries me.

What does worry me is that if American critics thought Children of Earth was good, lighthearted fun, by the time the new writing team gets done "rebooting" the show, as they put it, it could be so dark, so dismayingly dismal, a lot of us won't be watching it. And there's a tragedy, because some of us fell head over heels for Jack so long ago, he was still dancing on a spaceship, in midair, in front of Big Ben, at the time! He's Russel T. Davies's ninth symphony ... he's a gay icon ... and therefore the Americanization of Torchwood fills me with dread.

Having said that, I'll give it a whirl, give everyone the benefit of the doubt. The new writing team certainly has great credentials (see this for more), and it just depends how dark Starz will want to make it. In all seriousness, if Jack Harkness were a real human being, rather than a character in a TV show, he would be stark, raving mad by this time, after what he's done, and seen, and had done to him.

And here's the thing: maybe Jack is bonkers. There's a lot you can do with a character who's actually insane, though the insanity is soooo subtle, you don't see it at once. You could weave what Mel Keegan called "a darkness incandescent" about him. And I have no doubt John Barrowman will be absolutely, bloody amazing in the part, if only the audience can hang on long enough to watch ten potentially depressing episodes.

Here's something else that's interesting. The British style of acting is not "satisfying" to American critics. To Commonwealth eyes, the performances on Torchwood (and esp. this last series) have been utterly outstanding. American reviewers referred to them as mediocre. It's the style of the performance which doesn't "jive" with the American dramatic requirement ... so, again, we can look for subtle differences in the new one -- Torchwood: The New World.

And there was I, hoping "the new world" might be Mars or Castrovalva, or maybe Callufrax. No such luck!

Two things. Several people asked why I didn't run a video or an least a pic of Jack and Ianto in full-on romance mode, and that's a hell of a good question ... so here it is:

Second thing: thanks so much to Jade for "cross pollinating" with me on her latest post, and if I helped to inspire the shots where (whooooo!) Jarrat and Stone finally get it together, then ... well, I'll just do a few laps of the room without touching the floor here! And check this out:

Here's the post where the full set of images appear. At risk of sounding like the kid in the movie, with the bowl and the spoon, "Can we have some more?"

Friday, November 12, 2010

Home from Atlantis and headed for Aquilonia ... Jason Momoa

There are times when your jaw drops, and someone could knock you flat with a handy feather. This is one of them:

Jason Momoa as Conan the Barbarian --

No, I'm not kidding you! I'm serious! That's the Jason Momoa you know from Stargate Atlantis. You know, huge, dark and unspeakably gorgeous?

They've been trying to get this movie into gear for a couple of years now. The generic poster was painted for it, using the old genre of the torso with the head missing off the top, out of frame, and you notice it says CONAN 2009...

...well, it ain't 2009, kiddies. Anybody looked at the calendar lately? Mine says 2010. In fact, it says Almost At The End of 2011.

Last time I heard of the new Conan movie was waaay back in January, here:

At the time Jason Momoa was just one of three actors being considered for the part. God knows who the other two were. But the other day I was killing a few of those "hurry up and wait" minutes, and I landed on the Frank Frazetta official website. You might not know Frank Frazetta, but he was the artist who painted the covers for the classic Conan novels waaaay back in the 1960s...

I was on the website because I'd seen something recently that looked like a Tribute to Frank Frazetta, and I was thinking, "Damn, don't say Frank died." Yep, he did. In fact, he died back in May, 2010. Well, rats. He was one amazing artist. But while I was on the official site there was this photo ... and I knew that face.

"Get your first official look at Jason Momoa as Conan," it said.

Whoooo! Movie slated for 2011 release. Think I'm telling porkies? Would I do that? See here, for yourself:

That's the official Frank Frazetta page, Jason Momoa and all.

Oh yeah, this can be Conan...

Then, for the second time in five minutes, you could have knocked me down with the same feather again. I couldn't resist reading the comments on the article -- which is usually a mistake, because incredible idiots say unbelievably stupid things which just get the steam puffing out of your ears, right?

Sure enough, somebody did. Some certifiable loony says this: "He's not big enough to be Conan. Sigh. Will no one get the Conan thing right? They should really start by reading the original 12 books by Robert Howard. Arnold was great because he had a thick northern accent that Howard wrote of and was certainly huge. I hope like heck that the writers, directors and producers take the time (what like two weeks) to read he originals..." etc., etc. etc.

And before I could chime in with my ten pennies' worth, I saw there was a reply on this. Not only that -- are you ready for this? -- the reply was from Jade379, which if course is OUR Jade, the Jade, the artist, our artist! You know -- this Jade. Yeah. And she said the whole thing, perfectly...

Jason Momoa is a lot taller than Arnie ... a lot! I guess you're talking about the huge muscle mass when you say he's too small, right? I *have* read the REH cassic novels, and I think the size thing is all relative. Conan was described as huge ... Jason Momoa is actually enormous -- watch a few episodes of Stargate, and see. Also, he's an actor, and might easily affect a northern accent, with a good dialog coach. I've a feeling it's the comic art that makes us think of Conan as being a bit like a "shaved gorilla." In reality, it's endless hours in a gym, lifting weights, that makes a guy look like that. Conan's lifestyle, as depicted in the first movie -- all that running!! -- wouldn't build or maintain that body. He'd wind up looking a lot like you see right here in this pic. Food for thought!

Go to the page, see it, it's all there:

Is that cool, or what?!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

David Tennant: Fright Night and Facelift. Whoooo!

Being rather a fan of David Tennant (who is my favorite of all the Doctors) I try to keep up with what he's doing whenever I have a spare hour ... which isn't all that often these days!

So, I search on "David Tennant" and ... well, I see this and I think to myself, "Good lord, they're remaking FACELIFT!!!"

And you're thinking to yourself, "What the bleep is Facelift, and why should I care?" Or else, "What the bleep is AG babbling on about now?!"

Well, it's like this:

And that's Martin Shaw as Zax in a 1984 Channel 4 SF musical called (!) FACELIFT. Zax was a magician ... a stage magician who had actual powers. It was a shoestring production, but it was amazing -- actually well worth remaking with modern technology. Get me going one day and I'll tell you about it!

But no, actually David Tennant is not actually starring as Zax in a remake of FACELIFT ... he's starring in a remake of FRIGHT NIGHT, in which Roddy McDowall played Peter Vincent, the vampire hunter:

And it turns out that Roddy McDowall is also one of my all-time favorite actors, so I'm happy as a clam here. Can't wait for the remake ... of FRIGHT NIGHT, that is. And you're so right, I'd love to see a remake of FACELIFT, and I wouldn't at all mind if David Tennant were to play Zax. Martin Shaw was very good in the part -- and what an oddball Zax was. Beautiful, but odd.

Hatsune Miku, Iron Man and Star Wars. Say -- what?!

Remember when you were told (if you're an SF fan, that is, and talking to somebody who likes to pooh-pooh SF and tell you everything is 1000 yeas in the future) that holograms were never going to happen because they have no foundation in real science?

Well, just now and again the SF fan gets the last laugh. And I'm chortling in large amounts of glee. And I haven't even opened the Father O'Leary's yet.

This here is something called Hatsune Miku. She (it?) is an anime pop star. It's a hologram that performs with a live band. Onstage. Live, in front of a live audience that's looking at the performance from every angle. So there's no way to fake it -- and why would you want to? Charlatanism is not what this is abut. It's just about a band on tour, and they animated their icon.

Now, anime isn't my thing -- and for somebody who grew up on Marineboy and Gigantor the Space Age Robot I say that with all due fervor and a couple of shudders. To me, the fascination of the Histune Miku hologram isn't any interest in the ainme popstar. But ... golly, that could be a hologram of ... anything. Anyone.

It could be the computer interfaces you saw in IRON MAN! What I see in this tale of Hatsune Miku is that the SF fans get the last laugh. Holographs work, and they work now, not in 1000 years.

And I think R2D2's horizontal hold might have been on the fritz:

...because out holographs look a lot better than the ones they were predicting in 1977!

LEIA: Help me, Obiwan Kenobi, you're my only hope!

OBIWAN: Damnit, the quality on this is crap. Can't you adjust it?

LUKE: I dunno. Let me have a go. (Kneels beside Artoo and starts fiddling)

R2D2: Beep! Squaaaaaw! Weeeedle ... wooosh ...awwwwwh.

LUKE: Does that look any better? I can't see it from here.

OBIWAN: Try adjusting the vertical hold.

LUKE: Okay, gimme a second here...

LEIA: I said, help me, Obiwan Kenobi, dadblast it, you're my only hope!"

LUKE: What's she talking about?

OBIWAN: She said something about some secret plans. I wasn't listening, I was trying to figure out why the playback's such crap. Any joy with the vertical hold?

R2D2: SQUAAAAAK! Weeble-beeble tooleoodleoodle ... (Subtitled into English: "Forget the goddamned playback quality and listen to the message, you brainless apes!")

See what I mean?! There's one in the eye for the guys who like to pooh-pooh SF