The Traditionalist – Christopher Nolan

Interesting interview with Christopher Nolan, from the Director’s Guild of America.  Be sure to read through to the end for a priceless answer as to why he wears suit jackets all the time.  🙂 – JM, Bitch with Wi-Fi

 

The Traditionalist – Christopher Nolan.

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The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Granada)

  • Title:  The Complete Granada Television Series
  • Number of Discs:  12
  • Number of Episodes per Disc: 2-4
  • Original Network:  ITV
  • Production Company:  Granada
  • Cast:  Jeremy Brett, David Burke (first season), Edward Hardwicke (subsequent seasons)

This is my original review for The Complete Granada Television Series of Sherlock Holmes, starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes and, David Burke and Edward Hardwicke as Watson. I’ve edited it a bit to clean it up and fix some typos, but it’s pretty much the same as my Live Journal entry from 12 November 2008.

First, this is the BEST traditional version of Sherlock Holmes ever.  Jeremy Brett is THE perfect Holmes and I just love him.  Both David Burke and Edward Hardwicke play Doctor Watson as an intelligent man with a deep, caring, (non-romantic) love for his best friend, Holmes.  Brett plays Holmes as a brilliant man, with little to no social graces (He even attacks Watson when he must) – true to the books.  Holmes is the original geek.

One of the interesting things about the Granada series is that they did adaptations of the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories, rather then thrusting Holmes into the modern day or at least “modern” stories.  Holmes is a Victorian and Edwardian hero – and he’s at his best in the original stories as written by Conan Doyle.
I also love both Watsons – quietly supporting Holmes, because he IS the Doctor’s friend.

Both of the Watsons are intelligent, smart – and the handover, from David Burke in “The Final Problem” to Hardwicke in “The Empty House” and all subsequent episodes is handled well.  Holmesian lore remarks it’s like 2-3 years from Holmes “death” to his resurrection – an older Watson fits.
I can’t even say one or the other actor’s my favorite, since Burke fits the early Holmes stories and Hardwicke fits the latter ones.

The set is gorgeously packaged in a double slip-case, green with gold embossing, with Holmes’s sayings embossed on the inner case.  The DVDs are packaged in two foldout cases, but at least the discs don’t overlap.  Also, the set is digitally remastered. The episodes look fantastic, much, much better than the original “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” box set release of the first 13 episodes (only).  If you do have the original box sets of:  The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, and the Feature Film collection – then you already have the material in this set (there are only a couple of extra features unfortunately) – but the gorgeous, book-like case, and digital re-mastering might make you want to pick this up as well.

SH_DVD-Set

Handy Hint for Cleaning Keyboards

Old make-up brushes are great for cleaning keyboards.  A large fluffy brush (with a longish handle) is great for getting crumbs, dust and other messes off the flat surfaces of the keyboard.  Thinner, flat brushes can clean between keys, without depressing the keys.  Also remember to flip the keyboard over and lightly tap the back to dislodge what’s gotten under the keyboard.

– JM, Bitch with Wi-Fi

Game of Thrones – Roar – Music Vid

As always with vids – didn’t make it just found it.

This is an awesome vid that celebrates the Women of Game of Thrones.  I’m a fan of traditional history-based fantasy.  Well, of most fantasy actually, even the more fantastic and urban fantasy, but one drawback of the genre is the few women in the genre are often boring or weak.  Or they are merely there to be won as a prize by the man.  Even in books written more recently, there’s often only one or two token “strong” women, and the rest of the characters are male.

Not to detract from those books, as I said, I often love them.  JRR Tolkien, and Jim Butcher are two of my favorite authors.  However, something that has really drawn me in to the televised version of Game of Thrones, has been the strong women.  And they aren’t super-women, either, endowed with magical powers.  The women of Game of Thrones often start in very traditional roles:  wife, mother, princess, tomboy, victim, but they grow, they mature, and they become these incredible characters.

Cat Tully Stark – Her arranged marriage to Ned Stark produced five children.  And she starts as wife and mother.  She’s also by no means perfect (no Mary Sue here) – watch her continual criticism and hatred of Jon Snow – Ned’s illegitimate son.  Or her occasional bad advice to Robb Stark.  Yet she is very strong as well.  She does become Robb’s second-in-command, and although she doesn’t know everything – neither does Robb.  And actually, there are times when if Robb had listened to his mother, she would have saved him a lot of grief (not to mention other things I’m trying to avoid spoiling).

Arya – She’s Ned’s tomboy daughter, and usually a character like Arya would have to “grow up and learn to act like a girl”.  Arya becomes an expert fencer, learns when to keep her mouth shut but also learns when to speak up.  She’s fiercely loyal to her friends, and capable of defending those who can’t defend themselves.

Brienne – Brienne actually starts as a strong character.  She’s a female knight.  Though she starts in the service of Renly Baratheon, and seem to have a crush on him – Renly is gay.  He’s never slept with his wife of two years much less Brienne.  When – SPOILER –  Renly dies, Brienne becomes a wandering knight.  No one takes her seriously, despite her skills, and it wasn’t her fault Renly died.  Brienne reminds me of every woman who’s a pioneer in a field dominated by men – she’s belittled, her skills are made fun of, she’s put down, people don’t believe in her, and even other women insult her for choosing a “male career”.   Brienne has to have confidence in herself, the ability to ignore what everyone is saying to her about her career choice, and, when necessary, she has to prove herself over and over, just like every woman who chooses a male-dominated career.  I hope we see more of Brienne in the future.

Cersei – Mother of the current king, wife of the dead king, another “victim” of arranged marriage.  She’s been having a long-term affair with her brother, even right under her husband’s nose.  Thus her three surviving children are all from the affair.  When introduced, Cersei seems almost like pure evil:  spiteful, unfair, the type of mother who sees one child as “perfect”, and not a very good wife.  But over the first three years of Game of Thrones – we see more of Cersei and at least get to understand where she comes from.  It is Cersei who gives the program it’s title, when she says, “In the Game of Thrones, you win or you die.”

Daenerys – When we meet her, her brother literally sells her into marriage with Khal Drago, the leader of a troop of wild people, something like the Mongols.  Her brother watches as Daenerys is raped over and over again by her “husband”.  But Daenerys perseveres.  She learns to enjoy sex and to take control in her husband’s tent.  She becomes “Khaleesi” – his queen.  She has a child, but the child dies and then her husband dies as well.  But it is once she is on her own that we really begin to see Daenerys shine. She leads her dead husband’s people, she becomes Queen in actions as well as name. When she is victimized – she fights back.  And before long she’s conquered three city-states, and freed the slaves within them.  Daenerys hates slavery – because she once was one.  It helps that she owns three growing dragons.

Other women of Game of Thrones:  Sansa – who starts as the “perfect princess” but learns to stand on her own feet – the hard way; Ygritte – who grew up North of the wall, and has an entirely different world view; etc.

And that isn’t to say that Game of Thrones is some inverse world where women have all the power and men are weak and boring.  Tyrion Lannister is easily one of the most complex and fascinating characters of the show.  Jamie Lannister, like his sister, is someone one can despise and love in equal measure, depending on what he’s doing that week.  Jon Snow is a popular character, and it’s not simply because of Kit Harrison’s looks.  There are many more.

So watch the vid – because THAT’s what I’m talking about! – JM, Bitch with Wi-Fi (didn’t make the vid, did write this post).

Star Trek: Into Darkness

  • Title:  Star Trek:  Into Darkness
  • Director:  JJ Abrams
  • Date:  2013
  • Studio:  Paramount
  • Genre:  SF, Action
  • Cast:  John Cho, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoë Saldana, Karl Urban, Peter Weller, Anton Yelchin
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“…You misunderstand, it is true I choose not to feel anything as my own life was ending.  As Admiral Pike was dying I joined with his consciousness and experienced what he felt at the moment of his passing:  anger, confusion, loneliness, fear – I had experienced those feelings before, multiplied exponentially on the day my planet was destroyed.  Such a feeling is something I choose never to experience again.” — Spock

“Don’t agree with me Spock, it makes me very uncomfortable.”  — McCoy

The opening vignette of Star Trek Into Darkness has Kirk and McCoy disguised on a red Class M planet.  Kirk holds a scroll and is running away.  The Natives follow, throw spears at him and at McCoy, as well. However, Kirk’s actions had been a distraction, so the Enterprise‘s shuttle can drop Spock, in a fire suit  to drop a cold fusion device into the active and ready to erupt volcano to prevent the eruption and save the indigenous life on the planet.  Kirk and McCoy dive into the water to escape the natives, and board the Enterprise.  However, Spock is in trouble and could be killed.  Kirk and the Enterprise save Spock, but incur Star Fleet’s wrath at the flagrant disregard for the Prime Directive.

A mysterious man (Benedict Cumberbatch) offers to cure the ill daughter of a Star Fleet officer.  The officer soon discovers the price as he has to blow-up a Star Fleet Archive building.

Pike finds Kirk in a bar, and brings him back to Starfleet.  He asks Kirk to be his first officer, Kirk accepts, and Pike takes him to a gathering of all Starfleet’s captains and first officers to discuss the destruction of the Archive and Starfleet’s response to the terror attack.  Kirk, wonders, however, why anyone would destroy an archive, especially when the information held there is public record.  Just as Admiral Marcus, Pike, and Kirk are realising that protocol for an attack calls for just this occurrance – all the captains and first officers in one room, the room is attacked by a helicopter-like gunship.  (Because apparently Starfleet never heard the old adage about not putting all your eggs in one basket.)  Pike’s killed.

Admiral Marcus calls Kirk and Spock into his office, he offers Kirk the Enterprise again, and Kirk asks for, and is granted, Spock as his first officer.  But Marcus’s plan is chilling – not only does he want Kirk to track down “John Harrison” the ex-Starfleet officer responsible for the attack – he wants Kirk to kill him. Specifically, even though Harrison is hiding on the Klingon home world and an attack on the home world would lead to all-out war, he wants Kirk to hide in the Neutral Zone and fire a new long-range photon torpedo at the uninhabited province where Harrison is hiding and obliterate him.

Scotty quits when the torpedoes are loaded on the Enterprise, and the security detail with them refuses to tell him what the payload is.  Scotty fears an interaction with the warp core. Kirk accepts Scotty’s resignation.

During the trip to the Neutral Zone, however, Kirk has second thoughts (helped by his conversation with Scotty, and additional conversations with McCoy and Spock) about blindly following the orders of Admiral Marcus to kill Harrison rather than capture him.

Kirk decides rather than killing Harrison outright, Kirk decides to capture Harrison.  He will take a landing party, and using the transport vessel from “the Mudd incident” will land on the Klingon home world, capture Harrison, and return him to Earth.  Kirk, Spock, Uhura and a guard take the shuttle down.  Uhura attempts to reach an agreement with the Klingons who attack their ship and force it down.  She’s doing OK, when they are attacked.  The fire fight is chaotic, but a mysterious man rescues them.

Kirk brings this man, Harrison, to the Enterprise and locks him in the brig.  However, he soon learns from the man, that, as Admiral Marcus had pointed out, the Archive that was destroyed wasn’t an archive or library – it was Section 31 HQ, home to Starfleet’s secret military and spy organization.  Moreover, Harrison wasn’t simply an agent there as Marcus said.  Harrison is Khan, a genetically engineered superhuman, who, with 72 other similar super humans was sent from Earth many years ago.  Marcus found his ship, kept the crew in cryo-suspension, but revived Khan.  Seeing Khan as the brilliant warrior he needed, he gave him a new identity (John Harrison) and set him to work developing weapons for Starfleet.  Khan tells Kirk, he had no choice, Marcus held his crew hostage.  However, he rebelled against being forced to make weapons and to create a “militarized Starfleet” – which was Marcus’s dream.

Kirk isn’t sure how much of this he buys, but he’s keeping an open mind, deciding to bring Harrison/Khan to Earth to tell his tale.

It’s easier said than done, when two problems occur:  first, the Enterprise Engine Core leak, that had stranded the ship short of it’s warp point goal, is getting much worse, threatening the entire ship.  And second, Admiral Marcus has arrived and is he pissed off that Kirk hasn’t killed Harrison/Khan, talked to Khan, and might believe Khan.

From what Marcus says, it’s clear that at least some of what Khan has said is true.

However, Marcus beams his daughter Carol from the Enterprise to his own dreadnought-class ship  then attacks the Enterprise.  Kirk, who’s also heard from Scotty, who checked on some co-ordinates Khan gave him.  Khan convinces Kirk the only way to defeat the dreadnought is from within.  Scotty has hidden aboard the ship.  Kirk and Khan space jump to the other ship, using jets to maneuver.  During the jump, Khan saves Kirk’s life.  Scotty lets them in.

But on the bridge, Khan shows his true colors.  He wants revenge on Marcus.  Kirk tries to arrest Marcus. Khan kills him.  Kirk, Carol, and Scotty are transported to the Enterprise brig.  Spock had transported the torpedoes to the dreadnought.  However, the torpedoes were primed and blow the ship.  Khan escapes. Khan’s crew, the 72 cryo tubes are in sickbay on the Enterprise.

However, the Enterprise is in trouble – the damage to the warp core is so bad the ship is dying and about to crash into Earth.  Kirk and Scotty try to fix the ship, but the engine core is mis-aligned, and can’t be fixed because of the radiation in the compartment.  Kirk goes into the compartment to fix it.  He succeeds and saves the ship but is dying from radiation poisoning.  Spock pulls the ship out of it’s dive.  Scotty calls him and asks him to come down. He goes, and in a reverse of Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan, it’s Kirk who dies and Spock who must watch. Their fingers even touch on the glass separating them.  Spock screams, “Khan!”.

Khan, meanwhile tries to crash his ship into Starfleet HQ and misses (He does destroy the Great Fire Memorial in San Francisco though.)  Spock chases down Khan, ready to kill him for killing Kirk.  Uhura stops him – McCoy’s realised that Khan’s blood can save Kirk, because of it’s regenerative abilities.

This works, and Kirk Lives.  One year later, Kirk re-dedicates the new Enterprise, reciting “the Captain’s Oath”, which we know as the opening to classic Star Trek.

JJ Abrams directs Star Trek:  Into Darkness at a breakneck speed.  The film moves, extremely fast – so fast, it’s hard to keep up with it at times.  However, the film also has it’s moments.  Harrison, as played brilliantly by Benedict Cumberbatch, is brilliant, from lone terrorist, to scientist who’s work is poached for weapons, to revenge-seeking madman, each of Khan’s roles is well played.  I avoided all spoilers when this movie came out last year, even the name of Cumberbatch’s character – so I was surprised to find out that “Harrison” was Khan. I enjoyed the film in the theater and enjoyed watching it again yesterday.  The film is fun, and the cast is excellent.  I really do like Pine, Quinto, and Urban.  And Cumberbatch played a multi-faceted villain with relish and even, at times, compassion.  Peter Weller was scary-good as the villainous Admiral Marcus.

Though not too much – because even if Marcus had cold-bloodily killed Khan’s crew, Khan’s attacks would have been over-kill.  The film, like the best Star Trek episodes and films raises questions. Questions about the power of the military, questions about the ability for news events to be shaped, and public opinion to be manipulated.  And it’s Kirk’s noted ability to stand against the rules and go with his gut that save him and his crew.  Kirk is willing to follow rules and regulations as needed, but he won’t stand by and watch a planet die because of them – nor will he kill a criminal who should rather be put on trial.  It’s a enjoyable rollar-coaster of a film, with a bit more to it, and I liked it.

Recommendation:  See It!
Rating:  4 out of 5 Stars
Next Film:  Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country