• MT VOID, 10/14/22 -- Vol. 41, No. 16, Whole Number 2245

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Oct 16 07:21:31 2022
    10/14/22 -- Vol. 41, No. 16, Whole Number 2245

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    Mini Reviews, Part 1 (A TRIP TO INFINITY, HUSTLE, and
    OPERATION SEAWOLF) (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper
    and Evelyn C. Leeper)
    TIMBUKTU) (book and film comments
    by Evelyn C. Leeper)


    TOPIC: Mini Reviews, Part 1 (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper and
    Evelyn C. Leeper)

    It is that time of year again when I vote on awards for films.
    This is one very nice perq of my hobby of writing film reviews and
    being a member of the Online Film Critic Society (OFCS).
    Filmmakers and publicists *want* me to see their films in the hopes
    that they (the films, not the people) will be considered for
    awards. I get to see new films either on-line or I get discs (or
    used to--these seem to be on the way out).

    I cannot write my usual format for every film I see, but I can
    write brief reviews for many. I do not always know where these
    films will play (or have played). These films may play in local
    theaters or in Manhattan art houses. But I can let people know
    what to look for on Amazon Prime, NetFlix, and other streaming
    services (of which there is no end).

    This year is a bit closer to a standard year, as the Academy
    gradually pulls back the date of the ceremony. They used to be at
    the end of February, then in 2021 (for the 2020 films) they were at
    the end of April, and in 2022 (for the 2021 films) at the end of
    March. In 2023, they are in the middle of March (March 12). The
    OFCS will announce their choices for 2022 in mid-January of 2023,
    though I expect our mini-reviews to extend well past that date.
    (If that was hard to follow, skip it.)

    As was true last year, these reviews are a collaboration between
    Evelyn and me. [-mrl]

    A TRIP TO INFINITY: A TRIP TO INFINITY uses interviews, films, and
    a variety of animation styles to try to explain infinity, both as a mathematical concept an as how it relates to the universe, both in
    the small and the large. For example, if we look at any piece of
    matter in the universe, eventually its in pieces and if we look at
    this film it is in discrete sequences of vary interesting
    mathematics and physics. Some of the questions are inane ("Is
    human creativity infinite?"), but on the whole this is both
    worthwhile an enjoyable to watch.

    Released on Netflix streaming 26 September 2022. Rating: +2 (-4 to
    +4) or 7/10

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    HUSTLE: I rarely like sports films, but this seems to have some
    serious content. Adam Sandler stars in the story of a basketball
    scout (and would-be coach) for the Philadelphia 76ers who finds an
    amazing player in Spain, and works against all odds to train him to
    make it into the NBA. Robert Duvall (in spite of fairly high
    billing) has a small part. There is also Juancho Hernangomez (an
    actual professional basketball player) as the prodigy (and
    reminiscent of Lock Martin as Gort in THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
    (1951)), as well as many real basketball players and personalities.
    (If you are not a basketball fan, you won't recognize the players,
    or even their names, and the jargon will probably confuse you as
    well.) This covers the ethics of basketball management as well as
    the nuances of coaching. Though it is predictable in that it
    follows a well-worn sports film trajectory
    it is still fairly enjoyable.

    [As for the more informed viewers, a friend of ours who is a
    basketball fan from Philadelphia said, "It was super-fun and well
    worth the watch."]

    Released on Netflix streaming: 08 June 2022. Rating: low +2 or 7/10

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    OPERATION SEAWOLF: The first scene of OPERATION SEAWOLF takes place
    near the end of World War I (May 12, 1918), when we see a young
    Hans Kessler serving on a German U-boat that is torpedoed. This is
    done with a mix of English with German accents, and German with
    English subtitles. Luckily, they abandon this technique early on.
    Throughout they could really have used subtitles to make it
    possible to understand the accents and the sometimes muffled sound,
    but screeners often do not provide these. The main part of the
    film is of Kessler at the end of World War II (April 27, 1945),
    when he is chosen to lead an attack on the United States homeland
    by using a submarine to bring a V-2 rocket within range of New York
    City. (We should point out that this movie is fiction, and not
    based on an historical event.)

    The underwater scenes seem partly produced by showing an empty room
    and smoke, and partly by simple animation. One scene appears to be
    borrowed from the "Panzerlied" scene of the film THE BATTLE OF THE

    Having an African American officer and crew on a submarine chaser
    seemed jarring, but was actually basically accurate, except that
    Captain Samuel L. Gravely, Jr., did not come aboard USS PC-1264 (as
    an ensign) until after the events of the movie. (The actor, Hiram
    A. Murray, bears a striking resemblance to the real Gravely.)

    The film is primarily about the conflicts within the German
    military towards the end of the war: some wanted to fight on even
    when the result was obvious, while others felt that would be
    futile. Kessler is dismissive of the crew he is assigned (he says
    that are not wolves, they are boys), and this results in various
    acts of implicit disobedience that form the backbone of the film.

    Released theatrically 10/03/2022. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:



    TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book and film comments by Evelyn
    C. Leeper)

    Our book discussion chose THE SIRENS OF TITAN by Kurt Vonnegut
    (Dial, ISBN 978-0-385-33349-8) in honor of Vonnegut's centenary
    this year. I had read this back in college, but after a half
    century, very little stuck with me except for the "chronosynclastic infundibulum". But this time a couple of passages struck me:

    "We are disgusted by Malachi Constant,' said Winston Niles Rumfoord
    up in his treetop, 'because he used the fantastic fruits of his
    fantastic good luck to finance an unending demonstration that man
    is a pig. He wallowed in sycophants. He wallowed in worthless
    women. He wallowed in lascivious entertainments and alcohol and
    drugs. He wallowed in every known form of voluptuous turpitude.

    'At the height of his good luck, Malachi Constant was worth more
    than the states of Utah and North Dakota combined. Yet, I daresay,
    his moral worth was not that of the most corrupt little fieldmouse
    in either state.

    'We are angered by Malachi Constant,' said Rumfoord up in his
    treetop, 'because he did nothing to deserve his billions, and
    because he did nothing unselfish or imaginative with his billions.
    He was as benevolent as Marie Antoinette, as creative as a
    professor of cosmetology in an embalming college.

    'We hate Malachi Constant,' said Rumford up in his treetop,
    'because he accepted the fantastic fruits of his fantastic good
    luck without a qualm, as though luck were the hand of God. To us of
    the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent, there is nothing more
    cruel, more dangerous, more blasphemous that a man can do than to
    believe that--that luck, good or bad, is the hand of God!"

    "Once upon a time on Tralfamadore there were creatures who weren't
    anything like machines. They weren't dependable. They weren't
    efficient. They weren't predictable. They weren't durable. And
    these poor creatures were obsessed by the idea that everything that
    existed had to have a purpose, and that some purposes were higher
    than others. These creatures spent most of their time trying to
    find out what their purpose was. And every time they found out what
    seemed to be a purpose of themselves, the purpose seemed so low
    that the creatures were filled with disgust and shame. And, rather
    than serve such a low purpose, the creatures would make a machine
    to serve it. This left the creatures free to serve higher purposes.
    But whenever they found a higher purpose, the purpose still wasn't
    high enough. So machines were made to serve higher purposes, too.
    And the machines did everything so expertly that they were finally
    given the job of finding out what the highest purpose of the
    creatures could be. The machines reported in all honesty that the
    creatures couldn't really be said to have any purpose at all. The
    creatures thereupon began slaying each other, because they hated
    purposeless things above all else. And they discovered that they
    weren't even very good at slaying. So they turned that job over to
    the machines, too. And the machines finished up the job in less
    time than it takes to say, 'Tralfamadore.'"

    Our book-and-movie group was more a movie-and-book group this
    month, because the book for BETWEEN TIME AND TIMBUKTU by Kurt
    Vonnegut, Jr., (Bantam Doubleday Dial, ISBN 978-0-440-00719-7) was
    done after the movie (teleplay, really), and consists of the script interspersed with stills from the film. The film itself is a
    compilation of ideas from several of Vonnegut's works, including

    I have a few observations about the movie. It had way more women
    in NASA Mission Control in the movie than in real life during that
    era. And the Holiday Inn no longer costs $30 a night.

    There were a lot of jokes about Tang. At least Tang was really
    used in the astronaut program, although it was developed over a
    decade earlier. The freeze-dried ice cream ("astronaut ice cream")
    that we used to see in gift shops was developed *for* the space
    program, but never used in it.

    Vonnegut apparently likes to create fictional religions (not unlike
    other science fiction writers). In CAT'S CRADLE, Bokononism is a
    religion that identifies with its own falseness, "a religion of
    harmless lies". (I'm sure that's a jab at all the "real"
    religions, most of which have lies not so harmless.) The Church of
    God the Utterly Indifferent is from THE SIRENS OF TITAN and sounds
    (at me, anyway) a lot like Deism. [-ecl]


    Mark Leeper

    Let alone re-write, he doesn't even re-read
    --Clive James,
    'The Dreaming Swimmer'

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