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If anything happens I love you

Posted on November 24th, 2020

Dave!There's a meme running through TikTok of people recording their face before and after watching a short animated film on Netflix called If anything happens I love you. It's parents dealing with the aftermath of their daughter dying in a school shooting.

The "before" shots are mostly TikTokers with a normal look on their face... or whatever passes for "normal" now-a-days. The "after" shots are always people in emotional distress... crying and looking helpless. Some people even recorded an occasional reaction during the movie. Bawling their head off halfway through and whatnot. Suffice to say, there's a lot of crying going on in TikTokLand.

And while I thought it's a lovely little feature with excellent animation and really nice music... I felt... nothing.

The iPhone MagSafe charging puck.

Well, maybe I felt anger. It's tough not to be angry when there are people so damaged that they would shoot up a school, and we have a society content to let it keep happening. Mental health problems are stigmatized and mortally underfunded in this country, and that just fuels our horrific, upsetting, terrifying, and profoundly sad violence-laden world. Unfortunately, this is exactly what our "normal" is now.

Well... then-now. Not now-now due to school closures during the pandemic. Probably future-now though, because we never learn a damn thing.

And it's because of it that I feel mostly nothing when I see the raging debate over guns reignite once again.

I've gone over my feelings on this subject many times before on this blog. Banning guns is a painfully short stop-gap measure which will ultimately fail. We are this close to being able to 3-D print an assault rifle in the comfort of our own homes. THIS. CLOSE. So unless people are going to be monitored 24-7 to make sure they aren't crafting weapons in their basement to use or sell, we have a serious problem on the horizon whether current weapons are factored in or not.

I don't pretend to know what the answer is, but it doesn't take an Apple Genius to see that diffusing the hate that's escalating every damn day is a good start. Whether that happens by getting our leaders and media to stop being such hate-mongering assholes... working mental health into our education curriculum... destigmatizing mental health problems... making it easier and free to get mental health assistance... providing better monitoring of those with a violent history... stopping creation of conditions which drive people to the kind of desperation which can result violent acts... or one of a hundred other things. Because if we don't start doing something Real Soon Now we're in some deep shit. Or rather we're in deeper shit than we already are.

But hey. We can't even get people to wear a damn mask so the moisture from their breath isn't spreading a potentially lethal virus. How the fuck are we going to get people to give a shit about the mental health of other people or, more importantly, themselves?

Good luck with that.

Because just like people who only believe that COVID exists when their lungs are failing, they're not going to give a shit or think it's a problem... until it happens to them.

   

Bullet Sunday 689

Posted on November 22nd, 2020

Dave!Time may wait for no one, but time definitely waits for this blog... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Wonder Max! And so... Wonder Woman 84 is coming to HBO Max on Christmas Day. And I will absolutely be subscribing to HBO Max for a month to watch it. My enthusiasm for theaters has lessened more and more over the years thanks to rude people talking on phones and texting... theaters not replacing projector bulbs when they start to dim... and the absurd cost of snacks. The only time I ever go to theaters are to watch the latest Marvel Studios films or when invited by friends. I'm MUCH happier watching at home. And yet... some of the big budget films (like Marvel Studios movies) rely on box office revenue to justify the money investment. If theaters go under because they can't wait out the pandemic, what does that mean for the movies I love?

VERY Colorful Wonder Woman 84 Poster

Still... kudos to HBO Max for not charging extra to see the film like Disney+ did with Mulan.

   
• Maximum! The advertising "feud" between Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman keeps getting better...

But they've been pretty funny in their own ads as well...

Even when they appear in each other's ads...

And let's not forget Ryan's ad from last Christmas...

If only all of Hollywood put such effort into their charity endeavors.

   
• Hallmark? Let's see...
Big city executive goes back to their small town for Christmas: ✓ CHECK!
Small town has an unbelievably wholesome and cheesy name: ✓ CHECK!
White cast, but Person of Color best friend: ✓ CHECK!
Runs into some country hick that gets dismissed: ✓ CHECK!
Country hick has unexpected depth that city-slicker was too ignorant to see: ✓ CHECK!
Christmas romance ensues: ✓ CHECK!
Man and woman live happily ever after: WAIT ONE DANG MINUTE!!!

Not Hallmark after all... Paramount Network.

   
• Life Day! I am old enough that I actually saw the original Star Wars Holiday Special back in 1978 when it aired on television. Back then it was the only new "Star Wars" available since the movie was released the previous year. It was horrifically bad. Phenomenally horrifically bad. Forty-two years later and LEGO is giving us an all new version...

While nothing great, it's darn clever... mashing up all the various Star Wars characters throughout space and time. It's also funny. And far, far, better than the original live-action version. That's LEGO for you.

   
• Muties! I detested the FOX X-Men movies. They were all pathetic cash-grabs that in no way lived up to the promise of the comic book source material. I did like X-Men: First Class and kinda liked The Wolverine, but that's it. Everything else was garbage. When it comes to The New Mutants, I was a fan of the comic book during its Claremont and Sienkiewicz run. The movie is very loosely inspired by their "Demon Bear Saga" story arc from The New Mutants 18-20...

New Mutants #18 Comic Book Cover

What was promoted as a super-hero horror flick wasn't very scary at all. I was 100% bored and regret having spent $6 to rent the thing. It's mostly just angsty teens calling each other "bitch" and "asshole." What a waste. But, as the final film from the whole FOX Marvel super-hero era, why did I expect it to be anything else?

   
• Do You Know Bo? As good as The Mandalorian was in its first season, it's really knocking things out of the park in the second season. The most current episode is the best thing to come out of Star Wars since The Empire Strikes Back. I won't spoil it. But I will say that LAST week's episode was incredibly rewarding. Especially if you watched The Clone Wars and Rebels cartoons...

Bo Katan in animation and in live-action.

Look, there's some things that don't quite add up with Bo-Katan, I am fully admitting this. But can we just be happy that she made the leap from animation to The Mandalorian? Can't we just be grateful that Katee Sackhoff was asked to play the character since she was the voice in the original cartoons? Can't we just assume that some things about her appearance won't be explained, and we'll just have to fill in the gaps with TV magic or something? Because, I gotta say, her showing up caused me to squeeeee my ass off. In The Big Picture this works just fine. Don't get caught up on too many of the tiny details... just enjoy it.

   
And that's enough bullets for me. I'm out of time after all.

   

Bullet Sunday 686

Posted on November 1st, 2020

Dave!The ghost and goblins may be gone, but spirits still linger... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Tres Lassos! My favorite show of all time, Ted Lasso on Apple TV+ was just renewed for a third season, even though they haven't started filming the second season yet...

Sad to think that it could be up to a year before there's any more Ted Lasso to watch, but at least there's new Ted Lasso coming. If you haven't seen it yet, it's worth a free trial at Apple TV+ to binge the show.

   
• Bond, James Bond! Standing out in the news of the week was James Bond actor Sir Sean Connery dying at 90 years old. My first "Bond" was Roger Moore in Moonraker in 1979, but once VHS home video allowed me to see all the earlier 007 movies, I was obviously blown away by the cool-calm that Connery brought to the role...

Though his work as Bond is probably my favorite role, he has plenty of other movies which made me a fan of his work. Of course Highlander immediately comes to mind. Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, The Hunt for Red October, The Name of the Rose, Rising Sun, Playing By Heart, and The Rock were also flicks made memorable because he was in them. It's tough for me to reconcile being a fan of his work with his misogynistic bullshit, however... most famously with his infamous Playboy interview where he advocated slapping women. One could argue that he was a victim of the times he lived in because he said it in 1965, but he totally doubled-down on the idea over two decades later in a Barbara Walters interview. It wasn't until 2006 where he finally tried to walk back his idiotic stance, but an autobiography by his first wife alleged that he physically battered her, so seeing him as anything but an abusive asshole isn't easy. But you could almost say the same for James Bond in general. I guess the only thing left for me to say is "Rest in Peace."

   
• Happy! Fell down another TikTok rabbit hole while waiting for my clothes to finish in the dryer last night and got this video suggested to me... and I honestly don't know whether to be happy about it or break down in tears. It's heartbreaking to think that there are people who would wish this kind of thing upon a teenager. And yet we just got a new Supreme Court Justice who thinks that sexuality is a "preference" and will almost certainly interpret our laws accordingly. It's tough not to be disheartened by such events, but maybe videos like this one will change hearts and change minds so that we can celebrate people being who they are... and kids don't have to spend their young lives wondering if they will ever be allowed to be happy.

   
• Human Gaze! Isn't this how The Stepford Wives got started?

Or at least Westworld. In either scenario... not a great day for humanity.

   
• Maggie! As if the casting of Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher wasn't brilliant enough... this promo for the upcoming fourth season of The Crown has a cover of "How Soon Is Now" by The Smiths attached!

After this, there's only two seasons left to go. Then I guess the monarchy just ends? Or something?

   
• Semi-Annual! Here we are again... my second of two posts each year where I say that ending Daylight Saving Time is FUCKING STUPID. Either make D.S.T. permanent or fucking split the difference because I am seriously over this moronic bullshit. I thought that Washington State had put an end to the insanity, but apparently federal approval is required...

If the E.U. can pull their fucking heads out of their asses and put an end to this crap next year, why can't the USA? Because our federal government is too fucking busy lining their own fucking pockets and giving lobbyist blow-jobs for fucking reelection cash instead of serving the American fucking people. That's why. Time to fucking overhaul the government so lawmakers do their fucking job instead of become useless career assholes? Oh probably.

   
• New Mando! I swear, The Mandalorian has no right to be as good as it is. If you like all things "Star Wars" and haven't seen it, might be worth a Disney+ free trial to take a look. The second season just started and the first issue is great...

A better take on Star Wars than the prequels or sequels... and right up there with Solo and Rogue One which I loved. Kind of amazing how Jon Favreau kicked off the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe and is responsible for saving Star Wars. I hope Disney is paying him really, really well.

   
And that's your post-Halloween bullets for the day.

   

The Flu Vaccine and All The Sleep

Posted on October 29th, 2020

Dave!Today was "Flu Shot Day" at work. I got it for years, then stopped because I so rarely get sick, then started again when my doctor said "Tens of thousands of people die each year from the flu, but you do you." Physically, the shots never bother me. I used to get three allergy shots a year for decades. It's the psychological game that does me in. It's like I can FEEL those tiny amounts of weakened flu strain viruses whooshing into my arm... along with my body going "Oh shit!" and creating antibodies to battle it out. I can't really, of course, but that's my imagination for you. Creating a horror narrative where none exist.

And speaking of a horror narrative...

As I think I've mentioned a few times, I have "themed" months for the movies I watch. October, of course, is devoted to horror films. It's not my preferred genre, to be sure, but there are gems to be had. Last night I finally got around to watching Doctor Sleep. And since HBO had the extended "Director's Cut" available, that's the one I went with...

The poster for Doctor Sleep featuring Ewan McGregor.

I liked it. I liked it a lot.

It's light on genuine frights, but has some truly disturbing moments. One of the moments is so disturbing that I question how they even managed to film it. Acting is acting, but some things are just too "out-there" even when you're pretending.

Doctor Sleep is Stephen King's follow-up to The Shining. The sequel book was excellent, and very much worthy of the original novel. Even as a King fan, I find some of his books miss the mark for me, but this was definitely not one of them. It continues the story of Danny Torrance, now all grown up, after what he went through at the Overlook Hotel. Some of the beats are predictable (Danny is using drugs and alcohol to dull his "gifts") but there are still some good surprises to be had. Along the way he is contacted by Abra, a young girl with shining powers that eclipse his own. There's also a spooky group of villains in "The True Knot" who hunt people with the shining so they can torture them, kill them, and extract their power as life-extending "steam."

King infamously hated the Stanley Kubrick film adaptation of The Shining. I was disappointed in the changed that were made, but found Jack Nicholson's performance more than made up for it. This was one of those rare instances where I liked both the book and the movie... but for different reasons.

The Doctor Sleep film is kinda strange in that it's not a direct sequel to the movie, though it definitely takes its cues from there. It's also not a true adaptation of the book. It pays homage to both and I think is better because of it. Suffice to say that fans of both will find things to love and to not love so much.

The best part of the film is the casting. Ewan McGregor as Danny is flawless. He has an amazing knack for being able to draw on the haunted narrative that his character demands, and I don't know that many other actors could have done as good a job of it. They also struck gold with Kyliegh Curran as Abra, a critical role that would have ruined the movie if they cast somebody up to the task. But the real standout to me was Rebecca Ferguson as Rose The Hat. She completely nailed the role. You walk away from the film hating her. In a good way...

The poster for Doctor Sleep featuring Ewan McGregor.

There wasn't a minute she was on screen where I wasn't wanting her dead.

I think the movie is approachable even if you didn't read/see The Shining. Though, of course, you'll get a little more out of it if you've seen the Kubrick film). If you're looking something to watch to get in the Halloween spirit, this is worth a look (and see the Director's Cut, if you can find it... HBO Max has it as an "extra").

And now, if you'll excuse me, the battle for flu virus supremacy continues in my bloodstream. I was told this year that they are giving out higher doses, so I guess we'll see. It's 2020, after all.

   

Nothing Days and Nothing Nights

Posted on October 19th, 2020

Dave!After seeing a rainbow out my window on Friday I decided not to go into the office over the weekend. I needed a short break so I can relax for a minute.

It didn't work out quite that way. Instead of putting in 8 hours at the office on Saturday, I put in 8 hours cleaning out my garage. Tore down my wood-shop... put away my tools... took out the trash... swept up the concrete... all because I didn't want to scrape frost off my windows in the morning.

Sunday I did a little better. Cooked up some toasted ravioli, vacuumed the stairs, used a leaf blower to clean out the catio and blow the cobwebs off my home... THEN DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING FOR THE REST OF THE DAY! Well, not "nothing." But close to it. I ate crap food, watched crap television, and surfed crap internet. That's it.

Then I felt guilty about it.

What a waste of a day.

I fell asleep last night creating a list in my head of all the things that I could have done but didn't. I really should have cleaned the cat feeding station and scrubbed out my sink, right? Or steam-cleaned my floors. Or scrubbed my bathroom. Or washed my windows. Or vacuumed out my laundry room. Or cleaned out my refrigerator and freezer. Or any of a hundred other things that really need to be done around the house.

Instead I watched all the Police Academy movies.

I was compelled to after happening upon a story where Steve Guttenberg was talking about how they are wanting to reboot the series. Gutenberg left after #4 (Citizens on Patrol), which was pretty bad, and yet they slogged on for three more movies. By the time they got to #7 (Mission to Moscow) they had run the series so far into the ground that I’m amazed they think they can bring it back.

But you can say that about a lot of things, I suppose.

   

Bullet Sunday 684

Posted on October 18th, 2020

Dave!Cooking on Sunday seems like a tough sell before facing your Monday, but sometimes life throws you an easy recipe... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• LEWKS! Dolly Parton is one of my favorite people on earth. This video of her looking back on her leaks over the year is a great indication why...

National. Treasure.

   
• Rona! Thinking that overcoming COVID gives you immunity is most probably a mistake.

   
• UnHallmark! SQUEEEs in Hallmark...

Amazing how some of the best Hallmark movies aren't actually made by Hallmark any more. This film, for example, features an interracial couple. That is so exceedingly rare at Hallmark that you could reasonably argue that it doesn't exist. But, hey, they're producing a gay Hallmark Christmas movie this year, so maybe anything is possible?

   
• Meow! This made my week. Do not mess with a cat's pet!

The cat is fantastic, yes... but that puppy is too adorable.

   
• Pete! I think it's important to revisit this moment in Pete Buttigieg's "town hall" on FOX "News" from 2019. It's where he's asked about what people are labeling "late-term abortion"... something which is not medically accurate ("late-term" is past an expected due-date for birth), but generally accepted to mean 21 weeks or later in pregnancy. I keep seeing "late-term abortion" pop up in conversation lately, and I honestly don't think people truly get what it is. As explained by Mayor Pete in the video below, for the vast majority of women who have been carrying a baby for 21 weeks, they're expecting to carry it to term. They want that baby. So if they're needing to get an abortion into the third trimester, it's not because they've changed their mind, but because of a catastrophic medical problem for either the mother or child. So to deny women a necessary medical procedure under those circumstances is both horrifying and cruel (read this, as just one example... there are thousands more). Yet this is what some very unreasonable and sadistic people are wanting to deny a woman in need at one of the worst times in their lives.

I was initially a fan of Buttigieg, but ultimately problematic in some areas. That being said, I'd sure pick him over Trump or Biden. His thoughtful, measured response to serious issues is something we are sorely lacking in government.

   
• Flix! I laughed far more than I should have at this...

Lord only knows what people would think when looking at my Netflix!

   
• T-RAV! One of the best things about visiting St. Louis is their "Toasted Ravioli" (AKA "T-Rav"). Which, most places, is actually deep-fat-fried instead of toasted. It's amazing stuff. It's not always easy to find a non-meat version, but it's always worth it. My problem is that St. Louis is 1600 miles away, so the only way I'm going to get it is to make it myself. Fortunately, it's pretty easy, and I'm giving my recipe below...

A bowl of small raviolis, a bowl of beaten egg, and a bowl of seasoned breadcrumbs.

Dipped and battered raviolis resting on a baking sheet.

Finished T-Rav on a plate with a dollop of marinara and parmesan sprinkled on top.

  • I use Buitoni Fresh ravioli (in the refrigerator section at the grocery store) because it's smaller and I don't have to worry about the center not cooking completely. Freeze it for about 10 minutes until the outside of the pasta is chilled. You can use frozen ravioli, but you need to thaw it enough that the center is thawed, then re-chill it because the outside must be cold for stuff to stick properly.
  • While the ravioli is chilling, mix 1-1/4 cups of panko breadcrumbs, dash of rosemary, dash of garlic salt, scant teaspoon of dried oregano, scant teaspoon of dried basil, and a 1/3 cup of fine-grated parmesan cheese. Beat three eggs until smooth.
  • After the pasta has chilled, drench each piece in the beaten egg, shake a bit to get the excess off, then put in the breadcrumb mixture. Cover and press down a bit to make sure the crumbs have adhered. Place each piece on a cookie sheet to set.
  • Put the tray of coated ravioli in the freezer for 15-20 minutes so the batter is frozen to the pasta. If you're going to cook much later, you'll need to transfer to an air-tight container. Otherwise... heat up 3/4" of oil to medium to med-high (range tops vary... you want to quick-fry until golden without burning). Cook about one minute each side and set on paper towels to drain.
  • Serve with fine-grated parmesan and dried parsley on top and marinara sauce to dip. Enjoy!
  •    
    And that's a wrap on this delicious Bullet Sunday. THIS TIME!

   

Bullet Sunday 683

Posted on October 11th, 2020

Dave!Time to make time to be kind as the world crumbles around us... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Lume! If we are COVID-controlled by the time The Lume's immersive Vincent Van Gogh exhibit comes to the Newfields Museum in Indianapolis, I'm so there. Van Gogh is my most favorite painter, and I suffered through an episode of the abysmal Emily in Paris (on Netflix) just to look at this exhibit from when it was in Paris...

Kinda shocked that this hasn't been to Amsterdam. That would be a much better fit for the experience given that this is where the Van Gogh Museum is located!

   
• Free! As a huge Ryan Reynolds fan, I've been looking forward to the movie Free Guy... and my anticipation just kicked up a notch with the latest trailer...

From what I've read, there's already a sequel in development because Ryan Reynolds loved the movie so much. No clue if movie studios are even going to be in the business of making films now that movie theaters are shuttering and attendance is plummeting where theaters are open. Heaven only knows I'd rather bypass theaters since the experience is so shity now-a-days... even without COVID-drenched audiences in tow.

   
• Trek! The final episode of the new Trek cartoon show, Star Trek: Lower Decks came out and I still don't know what to make of it. It's too adult for kids, but it lacks biting stories to appeal to adults. It aims to be funny, but doesn't have big laughs thanks to lazy comedy tropes. And I while I guess this can exist along-side the Star Trek shows and movies... it seems an odd fit since it is essentially a parody of Trek and doesn't really go anywhere except within it's own bubble. The finale had Riker and Troi in it, but not really...

JRiker and Troi in the middle of a Red Alert on Star Trek Lower Decks.

Oh well. I did find the show entertaining enough to keep watching. I would not be made about there being a second season. I just hope they push it a little harder to make it stand out in the world of Star Trek instead of recede like it's doing now.

   
• Diagnosis! President Trump catching COVID is hardly surprising. He holds super-spreader events, doesn't practice social-distancing, rarely wears a mask, and regularly hangs out with people who are proudly proclaiming their ignorance when it comes to the coronavirus. It was only a matter of time. And THEN... once he got it he was given every conceivable treatment for mild symptoms... treatment that "regular" people have to be on death's door to get. Regardless of how you feel about our impeached leader, there were mistakes on all sides of the president's diagnosis and the media storm around it. This is a fairly balanced critique courtesy of Dr. Mike...

I remain dumbfounded that there are people who still don't take this shit seriously. And it starts at the top.

   
• Your'e! This is one of the best things I've seen all week courtesy of Captain Kate McCue's TikTok...

@captainkatemccue

Classic.

   
• DO NOT CALL OR TEXT! Despite telling The Democrats and The Republicans several times that I do not want them calling and texting me and to please remove me from their lists, I keep getting them. And when I complain I'm told that there are multiple lists and names get spread from one to the other. Which means it will never stop...

JRiker and Troi in the middle of a Red Alert on Star Trek Lower Decks.

I don't think people understand how awful unsolicited contact is. When my mom was alive and had to be moved to a facility, every single phone call was dread-inducing. Are they calling to tell me she is sick again? Are they calling to tell me she broke the other hip? Are they calling to tell me she's dead? Alerts for texts like this were a complete nightmare. And now that she's gone it's not much better. Most every time I get a phone call... and at least half the time when I get a text... it's bad news. Just hearing my phone alert me that somebody is calling or texting is triggering. Is another one of my friends dead? Is somebody in my family in the hospital? What horrible even is it now? This fucking sucks when it's somebody calling that I KNOW. But when it's somebody I DON'T KNOW who is sending a text or a call that I DON'T WANT and DIDN'T ASK FOR? Fuck that. It is an invasion of my privacy and my life and it should be ILLEGAL.

   
• What? Holy shit. This is absolute insanity...

And it just gets worse...

I've been working my way through David Pakman's video catalog and occasionally come across stuff like this which defies belief. I would come unglued. Credit to Pakman for staying sane while addressing this guy, because it's all I can do to stay sane just watching.

   
• Beouf! I may detest Shia LaBeouf's "acting"... but holy crap what a great guy! This is awesome!

I sure wish I could get past his work on such travesties as Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Man Down, and the shitty Transformers movies. Apparently his last two films (Honey Boy and The Peanut Butter Falcon) don't suck but I've refused to watch them! I dunno. Maybe one day I'll have to get over it and just give them a try.

   
And I guess that's the end of my bullets this fine Sunday.

   

Bullet Sunday 681

Posted on September 27th, 2020

Dave!September may be coming to a close, but not everything has to end... because an all new Special Video Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Yikes! Need to be filled with awe and wonder today? Need to be filled with awe and wonder while shitting your pants? Well here you go...

There are some places you'd swear that man was not meant to go. Which is why they go, I suppose.

   
• Panda! Think wrangling kids is tough? Try looking after pandas...

It's the cutest kind of mischief, I suppose.

   
• Circles! I may not like a lot of Posty's music... but this song and video are sublime...

That he had a hand in writing it as well just makes it all the mor impressive a track.

   
• Hello! "912, what's your white emergency?"

If. Only.

   
• Enola! Looking for something good to watch? Netflix has a movie about Sherlock Holmes's teenage sister, Enola Holmes...

Really, really hope that we will be getting a sequel.

   
• Ted! Dang. Apple TV Plus is finally releasing shows compelling enough that I may actually want to pay for it when my free subscription runs out. Mythic Quest, Central Park, and Long Way Up are great television. But Ted Lasso is next level. Funny, sweet, and surprisingly deep... it's sure to make my Best of 2020 list...

And to think... Foundation is still on the way!

   
There it was... that was the last bullet for September.

   

The Sleeper Must Awaken

Posted on September 9th, 2020

Dave!To say that I'm excited for the new Dune film is a massive understatement. The original Frank Herbert book is one of my favorite novels ever, I've read it at least a dozen times, and have been mesmerized with the entire "universe" that Herbert built since I first read it on summer break before my freshman year of high school.

There was a previous Dune film in 1984 by David Lynch that I very much enjoyed... despite it not being a very deep take on the material. This is not really Lynch's fault because the novel is essentially unfilmable. Much of what's going on is what's in people's heads and that's difficult to translate to screen. Even so, Lynch did an amazing job of translating the worlds and technologies to the big screen, and any subsequent readings of the book had his visuals in my head.

We don't talk about the 2000 Sci Fi Channel mini series adaptations.

The new Dune film by director Denis Villeneuve is apparently on track for release in theaters on December 18th, and I will likely risk COVID-19 to see it. His track record in cinema is exceptional... Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival, and Blade Runner 2049... so I'm guessing his take on Dune will be, if nothing else, interesting and visually stunning.

And that was my take before I saw the trailer, which was released today...

There's a lot to unpack here.

And since there are many, many geek websites doing exactly that, I'm going to restrain myself and just focus on a few things I saw which interest me.

Dune 2020 Movie Logo

SETS

What makes Dune so incredible is the "world-building" that Frank Herbert accomplished. The planets, the politics, the social structure, the technology... it's just all so solid. It's so deep that you feel it actually exists, and translating that to screen is not an insignificant challenge. I thought Lynch did a brilliant job at a time where practical effects were the norm. Now, of course, you can CGI whatever you can dream up, so of course the visuals have a better chance of mirroring what your imagination built from the books. Villeneuve's take on Blade Runner was about as perfect as you can get, so I have little doubt that his vision for Dune will be incredible. From what little I can see, it looks like he is trying for a muted, less ornate and fussy take on the sets, which is smart... I think? The Lynch film was so warm, lush, and gorgeously visualized, that you can't blame Villeneuve for striking out in a different direction. His take on Caladan feels much more Game of Thrones being more rough-hewn and utilitarian...

A massive stone study with books lining the walls. Paul is facing down the Reverend Mother who is seated with a box at her hand.

A large room in shadow made from stone.

Contrasting with the deep shadows of Caladan is the blown-out sunlight of Arakis...

Troop transports landed on Dune in glaring sunlight.

Interesting to see that the sand seems to permeate everywhere on a planet full of the stuff...

A large hallway in shadow with a fight happening in the middle, sand piled on the floor.

CASTING

PAUL: Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides seems a good fit. He's 24, but looks younger, which is what we need. In the book, Paul is like 15 or 16 or something, and that's an important point. He's a kid thrown into a situation beyond his years and his story is becoming a man under extraordinary circumnstances. I think Kyle MacLachlan was also 24 in the first Dune film, but looked older than Chalamet, which was a bit of a misstep, in my opinion...

Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides.

CHANI: Like Chalamet, Zendaya skews younger in this movie than Sean Young did in the previous Dune. In the books, if I remember correctly, she's older than Paul by a bit, but I like the idea of her also being a kid being thrown in a war spanning the known universe...

Zendaya as Chani.

DUNCAN: Jason Momoa wouldn't have come to mind for Duncan Idaho, but it looks as though he's playing it a bit more "every man" in which case he's a good choice.

Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho.

LETO: I admit that I know precious little about Oscar Isaac outside of his character on the final Star Wars movies, but he certainly looks the part of Duke Leto...

Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho.

BARON: Villeneuve has said that he's wanting the Harkonnens to be more evil and menacing than we've seen, which certainly has my stamp of approval if he can pull it off! Stellan Skarsgård was an inspired choice, especially if you've seen him in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo!

Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Vladamir Harkonnen, rising from the mud.

RABBAN: Dave Bautista is a delightfully versatile actor, and it will be very, very interesting to see his take on The Beast, especially if we're getting something truly villainous from the character...

Dave Bautista as The Beast Rabban.

MOHIAM: If there was one area where I thought Lynch's film faltered, it was the weird shaved-head look given to the Bene Gesserit. It absolutely played into the cult-like elements from the sisterhood, but it was distracting. Going with these heavy veils seems a lot more interesting, and you couldn't ask for a more interesting choice as Charlotte Rampling for The Reverend Mother...

Reverend Mother Mohiam holds a Gom Jabbar at Paul's neck.

GURNEY: Okay, Josh Brolin is perfect for Gurney. No surprise at all he was cast, because it really is flawless. What surprised me is...

THUFIR: Holy cats, that's Stephen McKinley Henderson as Thufir Hawat beneath that parasol in back there! I loved him as Omar in the 2008 series New Amsterdam, and this is truly inspired and brilliant casting news. And boy did Villeneuve come up with a fantastic look for the Mentat Master of Assassins! Completely unexpected...

Paul walking with Gurney and Thufir in the Dune sunlight.

TECHNOLOGY

If you've read the Dune novels, you know that technology has a bit of a strange place in the story. Thanks to an uprising by "thinking machines," artificial intelligence has been banished and any advancements are strictly utilitarian. We don't get to see much in the trailer... but we do get a glimpse of the Emperor's Sardaukar troops dropping in with their battle armor...

Sardaukar troops landing on Dune. Uh oh.

We do get a better look at the Holtzman personal shields in use. I have to admit that I think Lynch's take was a more visually interesting approach... and his having it centrally located on a belt seems a more logical place to have it instead of on some kind of hand-strap. That being said, Villeneuve did come up with a look that seems a heck of a lot more realistic...

Holtzman shield fighting practice between Paul and Gurney.

Holtzman shield fighting practice between Paul and Gurney.

SANDWORMS

Now, as cool as giant worms may sound when you read about them in a book... it's an absolutely absurd visual when translated to the screen. Lynch did as best he could, but the effort ultimately looked silly. We were told they were terrifying instead of seeing they were terrifying. Welp... thanks to CGI, that's not a problem any more. Sandworms are like something out of a nightmare, exactly as they should be...

A sandworm chomping down on a spice harvester.

A massive sandworm approaches figures in the dessert... thousands of teeth crowding its maw.

STORY

Dune is Dune. The political backstabbing and intrigues... the fight for power... the complex family interactions... the fascinating religion and customs of the peoples... it's all woven together into something far more amazing than the sum of its parts. Lynch's movie had to gloss over a lot of it out of necessity. There's only so much you can do in a two-hour movie. Villeneuve caught a bit of a break in that he was able to split the movie into two parts... plus he is getting a companion series on HBO Max. Whenever Dune: The Sisterhood airs, it will allow considerable more world-building than two films could accomplish on their own. This is truly exciting, because it will (hopefully) allow for many of the subtleties and complexities to play out in a way we've never seen. We get a tiny glimpse of this when Paul says "My father rules an entire planet." The Reverend Mother responds "He's losing it." Paul fires back with "He's getting a richer one." Reverend Mother nips that one at the bud with "He'll lose that one too." It's this kind of immense scope that you truly need if Dune is to have the proper weight to it.

With any luck, we're going to get a movie which Dune fans have been dying to see for over 50 years. And if it fails? Well, I guess I can always re-read the book for the hundredth time.

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Categories: Movies 2020Click To It: Permalink  1 Comment: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Bullet Sunday 678

Posted on September 6th, 2020

Dave!Summer doesn't seem to be ending any time soon, but don't let 100° days get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Growth! I don't remember how I ran across this video, but it's really, really cool...

Jake and Jenny seemed to grow up exactly this fast.

   
• Squirrel! I somehow missed this amazing Mark Rober video, which is a must see...

His channel is one of those that I wish posted more often... but you just know that it wouldn't be this good if he did.

   
• Die! And the new James Bond trailer is out...

Looks almost worth risking your life going to a movie theater for!

   
• Expecting! I watched the HBO Max series Expecting Amy which is absolutely fascinating. Not because of Amy Schumer, but because of her husband Chris Fischer. In her Netflix special, Growing, her talking about him and his being on the autism spectrum is the absolute best part of the show. In Expecting Amy you get to see the reverse side of it all. The guy seems as sweet as can be and is a massively famous chef, so he's a lot more than "just Amy Schumer's husband."

So, yeah, worth a look. And also watch their cooking show Amy Schumer Learns to Cook on Food Network.

   
• Bash! Earlier this week I had mentioned that NBC had picked up the amazing medical drama, Transplant, starring Hamza Haq. I know absolutely nothing about the guy, so I searched YouTube for some interviews. He does not disappoint...

But the real treat was spending the day with him during Ramadan during quarantine...

Very much looking forward to a second season.

   
• Christie! Back when cable TV first came to town, we got a 6-month trial package that included HBO or Showtime or both or something. It was then that I discovered that one of my favorite Agatha Christie novels, Death on the Nile, had been turned into a film. I watched it many, many times. Now, after a successful remake of Murder on the Orient Express, we're getting a remake of Death on the Nile as well...

Interesting to note that both versions of the film has quite a few name-brand stars...

ROLE1978 VERSION2020 VERSION
Hercule PoirotPeter UstinovKenneth Branagh
Louise BourgetJane BirkinRose Leslie
Linnet Ridgeway DoyleLois ChilesGal Gadot
Marie Van SchuylerBette DavisJennifer Saunders
Jacqueline de BellefortMia FarrowEmma Mackey
Mr. FergusonJon Finch 
Rosalie OtterbourneOlivia HusseyLetitia Wright
Manager of the KarnakI.S. Johar 
Andrew PenningtonGeorge Kennedy 
Andrew Kathchadourian Ali Fazal
Salome OtterbourneAngela LansburySophie Okonedo
Simon DoyleSimon MacCorkindaleArmie Hammer
Colonel RaceDavid Niven 
Mrs. BowersMaggie SmithDawn French
Dr. Ludwig BessnerJack WardenRussell Brand
Euphemia Annette Bening
Syd Adam Garcia
Bouc Tom Bateman

Looks like it will be worth a look!

   
And that's the end of that. No more bullets to be had this week.

   

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