My Review of Tora! Tora! Tora!

Tora! Tora! Tora! is the single best movie ever made about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It features excellent performances from such actors as James Whitmore, E.G. Marshall, Jason Robards and Martin Balsam. The special effects are far more convincing than what’s in modern movies. It also has some of the best movie music of all time. Best of all, the movie shows the sheer complacency on the U.S. side that enabled the Japanese to successfully mount the surprise attack.

Tora! Tora! Tora! is far superior to any other movie ever made about Pearl Harbor. In fact, it is one of the absolute best movies ever made about World War II. It is a classic motion picture in its own right.

On a scale of 1 to 5, it really merits a 10.

My Review of Shakespeare in Love

Shakespeare in Love is a lot of fun to watch. However, it is also flawed. There are major inaccuracies in it. For instance, if a troop of players did a play for Queen Elizabeth I of England, it was a special performance at the palace only for the queen and her entourage. This movie would have you believe that the queen would actually sit with the common folk at the Globe Theater.

I give it 4 stars out of 5 possible. There really was no reason why the filmmakers could not have both made a historically accurate film that was also a lot of fun.

My Review of A Bridge Too Far (Movie)

The movie version of Cornelius Ryan’s book A Bridge Too Far is a fully faithful adaptation of a war classic. As such, it is a classic in its own right. The movie includes the planning and execution of the flawed Operation Market Garden, the largest Allied airborne operation of World War II. It also includes several of the human interest vignettes from Ryan’s book. The movie is consistently interesting throughout and is never boring.

A true classic.

My Review of Wild Wild West

Wild Wild West is one of those movies that make you wonder just what were they thinking when this movie was being made. One thing that is absolutely essential for enjoying a movie is the suspension of disbelief. That is, you have to be able to believe that what’s on the screen could really happen the way that things on the screen are happening. The things that go on in this movie make that impossible. Example: there is a gigantic steam-powered spider. Even with today’s advanced technology, such a contraption would be just about impossible to build and get to operate properly, let alone in 1869.

Once again: What were they thinking?

My Review of A&E’s The Scarlet Pimpernel Boxed Set

While the movies in this boxed set are not the best Scarlet Pimpernel movies ever made, this is still a very good series of made for TV movies in its own right. Richard E. Grant is well cast as the Pimpernel while Elizabeth McGovern dazzles as Marguerite. The acting and direction is just short of excellent. The problem I have is that the scripts do not have too many good lines and they appear to have been written by hacks. This is a shame since the Pimpernel series was a most well-written series of novels. Still, the movies in this boxed DVD set are better than most of what you will find on TV these days.

My Review of Wyatt Earp Special Edition DVD

This 2-disc Special Edition DVD has some of the best features that I have ever seen on a DVD. This is most fitting given the fact that this is one of the very best Westerns that I have ever seen. The performances are excellent as are the direction and script. Best of all, unlike most movies about western legends like Wyatt Earp, this movie was made with a strict reliance on historical fact as it really is and not some tall tale. This is important because the likes of Wyatt Earp did all they can to create a mythology about how brave and noble they were to cover up for the fact that the real life Earp and friends were not all that much different from the bad guys that they fought against.

My Review of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger

There are some movies that are not meant to be great art. They aim to be nothing more than a fun way to pass time and eat popcorn at the same time. Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger is one of those movies.

Patrick Wayne is great as the stalwart sailor Sinbad as he fights on behalf of the lovely Princess Farah. Sinbad ventures forth on an epic voyage to find the cure for the spell cast upon Farah’s brother, Prince Kassim by the wicked witch Zenobia. This is a most thrilling movie and is well suited for viewing by the entire family.

If you just want to relax and have fun while eating popcorn, then this is a great movie for you.

My Review of Fort Apache, The Bronx

This is a classic film that hardly anyone that I know have ever heard of. This is a shame since this is a movie that has hardly any of the cliches that clog up so many police dramas. Paul Newman stars as a cop who tries to enforce the law without engaging in violence against suspects. This sets him at odds with other officers including the new precinct captain played by Ed Asner. This is the heart of the movie and it leads to a surprising conclusion.

A script, acting and directing job that adds up to an excellent movie.

My Review of The Adventures of Pluto Nash

There are some movies that are not meant to be great art. They aim to be nothing more than a fun way to pass time and eat popcorn at the same time. The Adventures of Pluto Nash is one of those movies.

Eddie Murphy is great as the intrepid hero Pluto Nash as he fights the sinister space mafia. Originally, Nash was a small businessman who the mafia tries to shake down. However, Nash decides to fight the mafia in what turns out to be one of the most slapsticky sci-fi adventure flicks of all time. Thrills and spills abound in this wild and wacky funfest. Pluto Nash is a well-plotted futuristic sci-fi adventure story with a comedic bent.

It also features a great cast with Rosario Dawson, Pam Grier, John Cleese, Randy Quaid, Peter Boyle and Jay Mohr.

If you just want to relax and have fun while eating popcorn, then this is a great movie for you.

My Review of “First Knight”

This is one of the most historically inaccurate movies I have ever seen. It is certainly the worst King Arthur movie that I have seen. I can not believe how bad this film is. King Arthur was a fairly young to middle age guy, but Sean Connery is in his 70’s and looks like it too. The other Knights of the Round Table were also about the same age as King Arthur, but in this movie they
are of wildly different ages. The acting is generally poor with several of the actors being just plain wooden. The script is pretty bad too.

One of the worst aspects of this movie is the costumes and acting. All of the clothes look brand new and there are a number of instances where clothes that get dirty in a battle suddenly and mysteriously get clean again even though the characters are still on the battlefield. Evidently the actors could not stand wearing dirty clothing. Back in the days of King Arthur, knights wore chain mail instead of plated armor.

The final word: avoid this flick at all costs.

A Future College Professor to Avoid

Ever notice how many college professors and graduate assistants are rather goofy? Or how they talk about how important it is to be “open-minded” when they themselves will not tolerate any real disagreement with their own views? Well, here’s an example of how all too many graduate students think courtesy of a weblog run by one of those rare grad students who is fairly level-headed:

Okay, here’s my big problem with “English” studies today. (warning: some sexual terminology is used).

Conversing with a fellow grad student, and I asked her about her dissertation topic.

She replied that she was writing her dissertation on Baseball.

I said something like this: “A lot of novels about baseball focus on the magical and fantastic aspects of it. Bernard Malamud’s The Natural does an excellent job mixing the mythology of baseball with the mythology of the Fisher King. It also contains many aspects of magical realism. And of course, W.P. Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe uses many fantasy motifs – as its reasonably faithful adaptation into film, Field of Dreams, shows. Of course, the film version of The Natural changes the ending and does away with a lot of the fantasy, but -”

She interrupted: “I’m not doing that. I’m doing Baseball. Bats are obvious phallic symbols. The balls clearly represent sperm, which comes from the ‘balls’ of men. The gloves are symbolic vaginas, which accept and then reject the sperm. The gloves are worn on the hands, indicating masturbation fantasies. It’s all very male, and has to do with discourses initiated in an attempt to exclude the feminine other by appropriating the methods and means of reproductive symbolism.”

Clearly, not only does she see nothing odd about this, neither does her dissertation committee.

If it were not for the fact that I’m a former graduate student myself, I’d find this stuff patently unbelievable. The sad fact of the matter is that this nonsense is both all too real and prevalent in so-called institutions of higher learning.

Inane Articles at Skotos

As part of their strategy for creating a gamer’s community, the folks at Skotos have created a vast library of gaming-related articles and columns. This is a good idea. However, the execution is horribly flawed. Other than the Biting the Hand column, most of these articles and columns are written in such a way that they could hardly appeal to anyone. Also, the focuses of these pieces are extremely narrow.

For instance, here is a paragraph from Installment #155 of the “Trials, Triumphs & Trivialities” column entitled “Strategic Insights: Bluffing Games”:

The core idea of a bluffing game is to convince your opponents of something that isn’t true. This usually means that there’s some type of hidden information, as I talked about way back in Trials, Triumphs & Trivialities #112, Defining Strategy: Hidden Information. However, you could also be bluffing about what you’re going to do, a potential element in just about any strategy game, but one that’s brought to the forefront in a game specifically designed to support bluffing.

Wow, how profound. This particular piece goes on for 40 paragraphs exhibiting just how abnormal the author of such a monstrosity must be.

Lightning Cuts Slackers

We’ve all see how the NBA coddles miscreants including constant rule breakers and law violators. Well, not everyone in pro basketball agrees with that approach. The
Rockford Lightning
of the Continental Basketball Association recently provided an example of just how pro basketball teams/leagues should handle these things.

From the Lightning’s email newsletter:

Published: November 6, 2004

Sports: Lightning
No room for excuses while at Lightning camp

If you were to rank the 18-man Veterans Camp roster for the Rockford Lightning, I’d be No. 18. But, thanks to two players missing their flights, I won’t be the first man cut.

Raynell Brewer and SirValiant Brown missed their flights and didn’t make it to the first day of camp on Thursday, and they were waived from the Lightning roster.

“If you’re not responsible enough to make your flight, then you’re not responsible enough to get a paycheck from us,” coach Chris Daleo said.

It’s all part of the no-excuses world of CBA preseason.

Now, if only the NBA would follow this example……………………..

CSR: A Website to Avoid Writing For

Based on my experience with the Chicago Sports Review (CSR) , I don’t think that writing for that website is a particularly good way to either get quality writing experience or move up in the sportswriting world.

When I was in college, I was on the staff of the student newspaper. There were certain courtesies that the editors would follow such as telling you upfront if your article was rejected, why it was rejected and what I needed to do to make it fit to print. In my opinion, these are things that any would-be editor has to do in order to make it worth your while to deal with that editor.

Some time ago, the CSR website editor Mario Scalise posted to Soxtalk about how the CSR website needed some folks to write articles for it. I volunteered and eventually got a pair of articles published there, which was good.

What was not so good was the fact that I often had to email Scalise about whether or not an article was accepted or not, since he was too lazy to email me about it in the first place. Whenever an article was rejected, he rarely offered any ideas on how to improve it and often his reasons for rejection didn’t seem to make sense.

The final straw came in regards to an article that I submitted on March 23rd. He never emailed back about it and when I subsequently emailed him twice about it, he never ever replied. To this day, 4 months later he still has not replied. For what its worth, I put a lot of time and effort into the articles that I submitted to the CSR and getting the silent treatment from a lazy editor just does not cut it. I’m never going to waste my time/energy on Scalise and the CSR ever again.

Unless you enjoy working for lazy editors, I’d doubt that any of you would find the experience of writing for Scalise and the CSR worth your while.

Boondock Saints Review

Sometimes I just don’t understand how a particular movie attains “cult” status. The Boondock Saints is one of those movies.

The Boondock Saints is an awful movie. The script does not hold together and saying that the plot is weak is putting it mildly. The acting is 3rd rate at best as is both the direction and the special effects. Too much of the movie is clearly done for shock value alone and there is little internal consistency. There is little common sense to anything that happens in this movie. Ultimately, the suspension of disbelief is violated due to the film’s manifest shortcomings.

Sci-Fi Movie Page

In this writer’s opinion, the very best website out there for reviews of science fiction movies is The Sci-Fi Movie Page . This website has hundreds of very well done reviews of science fiction, fantasy and horror movies. It also includes downloadable scripts, articles, discussion forums, clips, trailers and the like. Whenever a new film in those genres comes out, I always check out the Sci-Fi Movie Page first.

Was This the Most Important Book of the 2004 Elections?

One thing that stands out about the 2004 election is that it was the popular repudiation of a big-time Hollywood production that was produced with the express intent of swaying popular popular opinion against a particular candidate. The movie in question was Fahrenheit 9/11 and the film maker was Michael Moore.

The impact of Moore’s film was severely blunted if not entirely negated by, among other things, the book
Michael Moore Is A Big Fat Stupid White Man
David T. Hardy and Jason Clarke. This book revealed both the extent of the fraud that is in Moore’s
works and the methods that Moore uses to deceive his audience. It was in large
part to this hugely best selling book that Moore ultimately became a liability
for the Democrats.

Following is the review of this book that I wrote earlier this year:

Michael Moore is one of the most controversial figures of our time. He has made movies and television shows and written books about the contemporary American scene. There are many who love him and others who hate him with very few folks who are in between the two extremes.

Both Jason Clarke and David T. Hardy can be counted among the critics of Michael Moore. They are the creators of the popular MooreLies.com and MooreExposed.com websites that are dedicated to exposing what they consider to be the wholesale falsehoods of Michael Moore. They contend that Moore’s documentaries are so far off base they really should be called “crockumentaries.”

According to Clarke and Hardy, Moore bends the facts to fit a predetermined thesis. He doctors film footage, manipulates facts and takes excerpts out of speeches completely out of context by doing so tampers with the truth. He has also gotten in trouble for this tendency. For example, Warner Brothers was forced to pay legal damages to a man who was unfairly denigrated in Moore’s first film, Roger and Me.

According to Clarke and Hardy, Moore is a man who pretends to be a man of the downtrodden even though he lives in Manhattan, is rich, and enjoys a luxurious lifestyle. Additionally, they point out that although Moore has often claimed that he comes from a blue collar family, he is really from an affluent background. They say that Moore’s denunciations of rich white people is only an act.

According to Clarke and Hardy, Moore’s documentary Bowling for Columbine is “as manipulative as totalitarian propaganda.” In that same film, he made Charlton Heston, a personal friend of Martin Luther King and a supporter of civil rights in the 1960’s, out to be a racist nut via “creative” editing and manipulating the evidence.

According to Clarke and Hardy, Moore’s attacks on Heston were especially interesting in light of his own racial problems. For instance, just after 9/11 Moore made what many consider to be vicious racist slurs on an European speaking tour.

Essentially, Clarke and Hardy’s argument is that Michael Moore is a fraud who lusts for political power, public attention and above all, money.

Unfriendly Case About “Friends”

Just when you thought that both judicial wackiness and assaults on our freedom could not get any worse, there’s a recent case in California that will blow your mind.

A woman named Amaani Lyle was hired by Warner Brothers Television
Productions as a writing assistant on the popular TV show “Friends.”
Specifically, she was to type dictation at writers’s conferences at
which the sitcom writers would discuss their ideas for future episodes.
Since “Friends” is about sex, sex and sex, she heard a lot of talk about sex.
As it happened, Lyle was incompetent at her job and four months later, she
was fired.

Stung by her job loss, she decided to get even with her employers by suing
them for “sexual harrassment.” According to her lawyers, taking dictation
concerning a sex-obsessed TV show was simply too much for poor little
Amaani to take.

The California Court of Appeal has ruled in the case of Lyle v. Warner
Brothers Television Productions et al. (Lyle)
that yes indeed taking dictation from perverted sitcom writers is sexual harrassment. This is especially strange since some of those writers were other women. The case has been appealed to the California Supreme Court.

If this bizarre ruling is not overturned by either the state supreme court or by
the U.S. Supreme Court, then this case could have frightening consequences
for free speech nationwide in all walks of life. According to the
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) , this case could have
especially chilling consequences for free speech on campus. According to
FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff, “this would have a particularly devastating impact at
colleges and universities, where bizarre definitions of ‘harassment’ already
are commonly used as an excuse for stifling the free expression of various
points of view.”

As Virginia Postrel put it, “If sit-com writers can’t tell off-color jokes, nobody is safe.”

A New Beginning For The Nexus

Welcome to the new-fangled version of The Nexus, now reborn as a real weblog. There really are not all that many weblogs that are devoted to such topics as science fact, technology, science fiction, online multiplayer gaming & the like. Very few of these weblogs are especially good. This is surprising given the popularity of such subject matter. It is the goal of The Nexus to rise above the pack and become the definitive weblog covering these cutting edge subjects.