• MT VOID, 07/28/23 -- Vol. 42, No. 4, Whole Number 2286

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Jul 30 07:28:09 2023
    07/28/23 -- Vol. 42, No. 4, Whole Number 2286

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    Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
    Lectures, etc. (NJ)
    Mark's Picks for Turner Classic Movies in August
    (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
    This Week's Reading (GIRLFRIEND ON MARS) (book comments
    by Evelyn C. Leeper)


    TOPIC: Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
    Lectures, etc. (NJ)

    Meetings in Middletown are in-person; meetings in Old Bridge are
    Zoomed. The best way to get the latest information is to be on
    the mailing lists for them.

    August 3, 2023 (MTPL) FANTASTIC VOYAGE (1966) & novel
    FANTASTIC VOYAGE by Isaac Asimov
    September 7, 2023 (MTPL) TBD
    September 28 (OBPL) TBD


    TOPIC: Mark's Picks for Turner Classic Movies in August (comments
    by Mark R. Leeper)

    This month I want to point out a film that is not in a genre I
    usually cover. That film is BLACK NARCISSUS (1947), written and
    directed by the team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
    (a.k.a. "The Archers"). Powell and Pressburger collaborated on two
    dozen films between 1939 and 1972, including the well-known fantasy
    Powell also directed the 1940 THE THIEF OF BAGDAD starring Sabu,
    and Sabu is one of the main actors in BLACK NARCISSUS. And the film
    is the story of a group of nuns who try to establish a hospital and
    school in a remote mountain area of India.

    The first thing that strikes one about BLACK NARCISSUS is its use
    of color, or more specifically its use of Technicolor by
    cinematographer Jack Cardiff (who won an Academy Award for this
    film, as did Alfred Junge for Art Direction/Set Decoration).
    However, they were possibly somewhat constrained by the Technicolor
    Motion Pictures Corporation's requirement that studios were
    required to hire Natalie Kalmus as a "color consultant" on any film
    that used the process. Kalmus frequently clashed with directors, cinematographers, set designers, and costumers about color, so it
    is never quite clear who should get credit (or blame) for the
    results on Technicolor films from 1934 to 1949. Still, the
    decision to use Technicolor was obviously key in the eventual look
    of the film.

    The film's backgrounds are also striking, so it is a bit of a shock
    to discover that the rugged Himalayas were either matte paintings
    or the rugged scenery of County Galway in Ireland. (The English
    locations were used for the gardens, the forest, and various
    interiors and Asian scenes.)

    The performances at times seem a bit overwrought, especially
    Kathleen Byron as Sister Ruth, and May Hallat as the servant. All
    the nuns seem affected in one way or other by the isolation and
    alienness of the convent high in the Himalayas, but Sister Ruth
    started out a little unbalanced already. Deborah Kerr is Sister
    Clodagh, in charge of the convent, and prone to the sin of pride
    and ambition. Flora Robson is the sister in charge of the gardens,
    who falls under the spell of the environment. Judith Furse is the
    sister in charge of the infirmary, and Jenny Laird is to teach the
    girls of the area lace-making, but becomes too attached to the
    children. Sabu as the local Rajput general's son and David Farrar
    as the general's agent are more restrained (though Farrar's
    character is prone to drunkenness). Jean Simmons is also in the
    cast as a local girl attracted to Sabu (whose character is never
    named, but always called "the young general"). (Both Kerr and
    Byron were nominated for the New York Film Critics Award for Best
    Actress Award; Kerr ultimately won.)

    [BLACK NARCISSUS (1947), Saturday, August 12, 10:00 PM]

    Other films of interest include:

    WEDNESDAY, August 2
    5:45 PM The Trial (1963)
    8:00 PM Psycho (1960)

    MONDAY, August 7
    2:00 PM Captain Nemo And The Underwater City (1970)

    WEDNESDAY, August 9
    12:00 AM Topper Returns (1941)

    THURSDAY, August 10
    11:30 PM A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949)

    TUESDAY, August 15
    11:30 AM Lost Horizon (1937)

    THURSDAY, August 17
    9:45 PM The Ghost Breakers (1940)

    WEDNESDAY, August 23
    2:00 PM Twice Told Tales (1963)
    6:15 PM The Last Man on Earth (1964)
    8:00 PM House of Wax (1953)
    9:45 PM House on Haunted Hill (1958)
    11:15 PM The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

    THURSDAY, August 24
    12:45 AM The Masque of the Red Death (1964)
    2:30 AM The Tingler (1959)
    4:15 AM The Bat (1959)

    SATURDAY, August 26
    1:30 AM Escape from New York (1981)

    SUNDAY, August 27
    10:15 AM The Return of Doctor X (1939)

    MONDAY, August 28
    6:15 PM George Washington Slept Here (1942)

    TUESDAY, August 29
    6:00 AM The Lion Hunters (1951)
    7:30 AM Tarzan's Fight for Life (1958)
    9:00 AM Tarzan's Three Challenges (1963)

    THURSDAY, August 31
    4:15 AM Ghosts - Italian Style (1969)



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

    GIRLFRIEND ON MARS by Deborah Willis (Norton, ISBN
    978-0-393-28591-8) starts out as a commentary on reality shows and
    billionaires with more money than either sense, ethics, or both.
    There is a lot that reminds me of some of Kim Stanley Robinson's
    work, particularly towards the end.

    Geoff Task is a multi-billionaire who decides to send two people
    (one-way) to Mars, and to pick them on a reality show where Season
    1 has two candidates vote off the spaceship every week. (Well, not
    actually *off* the spaceship, but rather off the roster for the
    spaceship. The second season will start with the launch and follow
    the couple (one male, one female) to Mars. (Any similarities
    between Task and a certain multi-billionaire who shares half the
    letters in his last name is, I amd sure, purely intentional.)

    Amber Kivinen has decided to try for a slot. Her boyfriend Kevin,
    on the other hand, is content to stay on a rapidly worsening Earth,
    tending their illegal pot farm and drifting through life. Chapters
    alternate between Amber and Kevin as they both try to adjust to the
    possibility that Amber may leave Earth--and Kevin--forever.

    We get to see various training/test scenarios, which are often
    ludicrously insufficient. Each week viewers get to vote two people
    off, but with basically 24/7 cameras, the producers can pretty much
    rig the voting.

    There's also a lot of Amber and Kevin getting involved with other
    people to varying degrees. This is of less science fiction
    interest, but then this book is not being marketed as science
    fiction or to science fiction fans. And really, the first part is
    a look at social media and reality shows; it is not until the last
    15% or so that there is any overt science fiction content. Still,
    there is discussion of climate change throughout, as well as what
    motivates people to go to space.

    Do I recommend this? If you are looking for a more "mainstream"
    science fiction novel, rather than something that could be
    serialized in "Analog", this will certainly fill the bill.

    [Deborah Willis is a Canadian author, presumably no relation to
    Connie Willis, even though there is a similar undercurrent of
    satire and humor in both of their writings, as well as attention to interpersonal relationships.] [-ecl]


    Mark Leeper

    Book love ... is your pass to the greatest, the purest
    and the most perfect pleasure that God has prepared for
    his creatures.
    --Anthony Trollope

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