Showing posts from September, 2023

Ancestors: 900 Years in the Life of a Chinese Family (1988)

  by Frank Ching Frank Ching has done a remarkable job of tracing  his family tree back over 900 years of Chinese history and uncovering the stories of the many notable figures that he found there.   Frank Ching I was struck by the continuity of Chinese life over the years and the value placed on remembering and honoring those who have gone before.  The individual biographies and the overall picture of Chinese history that emerges are very interesting.

King Kong (2005)

Director: Peter Jackson Writers: Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson, based on a story by Merian C. Cooper & Edgar Wallace Stars: Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody, Jack Black, Andy Serkis, Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks, Evan Parke, Jamie Bell, Lobo Chan This film looks great. New York is a stylistic marvel, a montage of popular  Depression-era impressions with its vintage cars, clothes, and art deco architecture, not to mention the bread lines, elevated trains, and streets bustling with desperate people.  Skull Island is a steaming hell on earth with death lurking around every corner.   And Kong is a brilliantly realized CGI creation, even more emotive and realistic than Gollum of "Lord of the Rings," who was also performed by Andy Serkis.  However, there's also some pretty sloppy CGI in a dinosaur stampede sequence in which the actors and the creatures don't seem to be inhabiting the same space. The action is thrilling.  The character development is d

When Harry Met Sally... (1989)

Director: Rob Reiner Writer: Nora Ephron Stars: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher, Bruno Kirby, Steven Ford, Lisa Jane Persky, Michelle Nicastro, Gretchen Palmer This film is very wise about the dynamics of male-female  relationships; every scene rings true.  Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan have great chemistry and it's very entertaining to watch their relationship develop over the years.   Sure, it's too cute sometimes (i.e., the whole "pepper on my paprikash" scene).   Yes, it's obviously derivative of Woody Allen.   However, I still get a lump in my throat at the end and there's no arguing with that.

Genellan: In the Shadow of the Moon (Genellan #2) (1996)

by Scott G. Gier Author Scott Gier's varied cast of characters contend with a  variety of problematic aliens as mankind attempts to secure its place in the galaxy.   Scott G. Gier There are the dangerous lifeforms of the planet Genellan, where an overcrowded Earth is attempting to establish its first colony.   "Hunting Season for Genellan" (German) There are the kones, natives of another planet in the same system, who are ambivalent about the arrival of the human race.  There is the mysterious race of alien marauders who have victimized the kones in the past and prove to be a definite obstacle to the expansion of humanity.  And, finally, there are the hideous inhabitants of an alternate colony site on a nightmarish world that becomes the site of a harrowing rescue mission.  Geir writes a crackling tale on a wide canvas, successfully keeping many narrative balls in the air.

The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Director: Dan O'Bannon Writers: Dan O'Bannon, story by Rudy Ricci & John Russo & Russell Streiner Stars: Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Thom Mathews, Linnea Quigley, Beverly Randolph, John Philbin, Jewel Shepard The dead rise when misplaced top-secret Army chemicals  are accidentally released from a medical supply warehouse, forcing the employees and a group of punks to deal with the outbreak.  This is a great horror film.   I was lucky enough to see it on the big screen when it was first released, and it has held up over the years.  The kids playing the punks are a little bland, but old pro character actors Clu Gulager, James Karen, and Don Calfa steal the show.   Along with the gore and the thrills come plenty of laughs that work because they rise organically from the situation rather than being some silly attempt to “punch up” the script.