• MT VOID, 07/21/23 -- Vol. 42, No. 3, Whole Number 2285

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Jul 23 09:07:25 2023
    07/21/23 -- Vol. 42, No. 3, Whole Number 2285

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    Mini Reviews, Part 1 (THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD,
    THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS, RAT FILM) (film reviews
    by Mark R. Leeper and Evelyn C. Leeper)
    Hugo Finalist Reviews (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)
    MOBY-DICK (letter of comment by John Hertz)
    This Week's Reading (COME, TELL ME HOW YOU LIVE;
    APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH) (book comments
    by Evelyn C. Leeper)


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

    And with the incrementing of the volume number of the MT VOID comes
    the re-setting of the mini-reviews sequence numbers. This is the
    first batch of mini-reviews for this season, all documentaries:

    documentary done as part of the centenary commemoration of World
    War I, but it is different from most such documentaries in two
    ways. First, the film is composed entirely of actual World War I
    documentary footage and first-person unscripted narration. And
    second, the actual war footage is colorized to make it more
    realistic and immediate to modern audiences. The home front scenes
    are left in black-and-white, both as a contrast and because there
    is less need for the viewers to get a visceral feeling for the

    Warning: The documentary footage of the war is disturbing, even
    more so because of the colorization. However, the disturbing
    scenes are all still photographs rather than live-action filming of
    combat deaths or injuries. Whether this is due to the nature of
    filming and photography at the time, or director Peter Jackson's
    decision not to show these scenes (possibly out of respect for the
    families) is unclear. [-ecl]

    Released theatrically 1 February 2019. Rating: high +2 (-4 to +4),
    or 8/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying: <https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/they_shall_not_grow_old>

    THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS (2020): THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS was nominated for a
    lot of awards, but its charm--or whatever--escaped us. It is a
    documentary about a few elderly truffle hunters and their dogs (I
    thought it was pigs) who are still hunting white Alba truffles. In
    2001, they were selling for $1000-$2000 a pound. Since then prices
    have skyrocketed; some large specimens sell at auction for about
    $100,000/lb. (We can't help but feel that it is more a status
    thing--are the large ones that much better than the small.) These
    truffle hunters are being pressured to reveal their best hunting
    grounds, having their own property "poached" by others, and just
    plain retiring. The documentary offers no solutions and is more
    just a look at them and their lifestyles, contrasted with the
    (IMHO) ridiculous auctions for truffles at prices the hunters will
    never see. [-mrl/ecl]

    Released theatrically 12 March 2021. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4), or

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    RAT FILM (2017): RAT FILM is a history of Baltimore and the Norway
    Brown Rat. While it does cover both Baltimore and the rat, there
    is no much intersection between the two. Yes, it discusses
    redlining, and how the environmental conditions in the Black
    neighborhoods are such that rats proliferate there. But much of
    the information about rats is not specific to Baltimore, and the
    Baltimore history is probably typical of other cities as well
    (especially the redlining and other segregationist aspects).

    We do see some unusual sights. There was a guy with a blowgun
    stalking a rat in his backyard, leading Mark to ask, "This is the
    peak of civilization?"

    We discover that amateurs use poison in peanut butter;
    professionals use a poison that coats the tunnels--it gets on the
    rate and the rats ingest it while grooming it off.

    We see people fishing for rats--with fishing poles. This doesn't
    scale up very well.

    Curt Richter's rat poison actually increased the rat population; it
    turned out that fixing the environment (more frequent garbage
    pickup, improved sewers, etc.) worked better. There's whole
    "subplot" about rats as lab animals, including for social factors

    The Maryland Medical Examiner's Office has a collection, "Nutshell
    Studies of Unexplained Death", which contains eighteen miniature
    crime scenes. If this sounds like C.S.I.'s "Miniature Killer", it
    is because they inspired C.S.I.'s writers to create the character.
    After the film was made, the miniatures were displayed at the
    Smithsonian in Washington, but the exhibit was returned to
    Baltimore and it is no longer open to the general public. (The
    C.S.I. connection and the film probably made it just too popular.)

    In any case, it had nothing to do with rats. And I don't think
    Edgar Allan Poe gets mentioned at all, even though his was a case
    of unexplained death.

    In short, this film was all over the map (no pun intended), with
    some interesting parts and others that seemed to go nowhere.

    Released streaming 03 October 2017. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4), or 6/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:


    TOPIC: Hugo Finalist Reviews (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

    Joe Karpierz's review of John Scalzi's THE KAIJU PRESERVATION
    SOCIETY can be found at

    His review of Mary Robinette Kowal's THE SPARE MAN can be found at <http://leepers.us/mtvoid/VOID0317.htm#spareman>.

    Joe says he hopes to review at least three of the remaining books.

    I hope to review (or at least comment on) most of the Dramatic
    Presentations, Long Form. I *may* try doing the Short Stories as
    well, depending on availability. [-ecl]


    TOPIC: MOBY-DICK (letter of comment by John Hertz)

    In response to Evelyn's comments on MOBY-DICK in the 05/03/23 issue
    of the MT VOID, John Hertz writes:

    Once, just once, at a Starbucks coffee shop I found a copy of
    MOBY-DICK on the shelf of things for sale--and it was the
    Northwestern-Newberry edition! I haven't compared the Norton
    edition with it; Evelyn, have you? [-jh]

    Evelyn responds:

    No, I haven't, and apologies for taking so long to get your
    comments included. I saw your letter was rather long, and didn't
    realize that most of it was not a LoC (or is it "an LoC"?) that
    didn't need to be typed in. [-ecl]


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

    COME, TELL ME HOW YOU LIVE by Agatha Christie Mallowan (Bantam
    Agatha Christie Hardcover Collection, ISBN 0-553-35049-8) is not a
    mystery novel. The fact that this was published as "Agatha
    Christie Mallowan" rather than just "Agatha Christie" or "Mary
    Westmacott" should be a clue that this is not your ordinary work of
    fiction. For starters, it is non-fiction, and not just
    non-fiction, but autobiographical. This is Christie's account of
    the time from 1934 to 1938 she spent at various digs in Syria with
    her husband, archaeologist Max Mallowan.

    It is obvious that Christie's experiences on these expeditions
    influenced (and provided background for) several of her novels and
    EXPRESS, "The Gate of Baghdad", "The Pearl of Price", and

    There is, I will note, a fair amount of (negative) stereotyping of
    the various local people Mallowan employed. Yes, she has some
    positive things to say, but then again, positive experiences are
    just not as interesting, literarily, as negative ones.

    And while we're talking about Agatha Christie, let me add to my
    comments about the ITV adaptions of her Poirot stories (in the
    06/23/23 issue). The ITV adaptation of APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH
    (William Morrow, ISBN 978-0-062-07392-1) by Agatha Christie ...
    where to start? The victim has an entirely different backstory (as
    do almost all the characters), her stepchildren are now her adopted
    children, her son-in-law is now her stepson, her husband is still
    alive (and searching for the head of John the Baptist), the method
    of murder is entirely different, and even the killer has been
    changed. [-ecl]


    Mark Leeper

    Autobiography is now as common as adultery and hardly
    less reprehensible.
    --John Griff

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