Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Roger Moore (1927-2017)

"Keeping the British end up, sir."
-The Spy Who Loved Me-
From a very early age it seemed this writer had the good fortune to have a mother that seemed to endlessly pick a series of film classics with which to visit in cinemas. All of them seemed to capture my imagination and influence and inspire this life of mine. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)was one of those films and it was the first Bond film I had ever seen. Could all of this be why it's my favorite Bond film ever? It's undeniably a great Bond film if you're a fan of the franchise and especially Roger Moore (1927-2017).
My mother, Florence, seemingly took me to some of the best cinema ever released as a youngster. Between my desire to see a film and her own seemingly oblivious good taste we seemed to score seats in theatres for all of the very best growing up.
Richard Donner's Superman (1978), Star Wars (1977), Blade Runner (Blade Runner) and of course The Spy Who Loved Me. (Okay Warlords Of Atlantis (1978) and Godzilla Vs. Megalon fell in the mix too). These were films that remain guides in this writer's life today. And it's not simply nostalgia. These were classic, wonderful films and Roger Moore's 007 was one of those characters that seemed to speak to the man in me with a passion for justice. His interpretation of the character was an important part of my formative years.
All my life I've sat on the sidelines cheering on Roger Moore's work as 007 only to watch him be torn down as James Bond lite or as some kind of unsubstantial Bond time and again. He was considered too funny. He wasn't serious enough. He wasn't bad ass enough. He didn't have an edge. He was too old in the end. Sean Connery was the superior Bond. Timothy Dalton was a much needed replacement. Rubbish. It's all elitist Bondian hogwash I say.
Moore was a superhero for a generation. He was suave, debonair and exuded cool and class. He seemed the smartly-dressed influence of a generation of 80s pop like Martin Fry of ABC. The guy was special.
My Bond, embodied by Roger Moore, was consistently brilliant as a British agent and sturdied and fortified a franchise for years to come. Moore played the part of 007 for over ten years (1973-1985) by starring in seven James Bond pictures: Live And Let Die (1973), The Man With The Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983) and A View To A Kill (1985).
Most of the aforementioned films rank among my favorites. The Spy Who Loved Me remains this writer's favorite of the franchise. Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only come in as penultimate classics.
And to further underscore the Moore's talent he brilliantly played the role Simon Templar in The Saint (1962-1969) for six season on TV.
This only scratches the surface of the man's work and his philanthropic generosity.
Sadly, three years after the death of his films' arch rival, Jaws, played by the late Richard Kiel, Moore is gone and this fan is sad to see him go. We'll be forever grateful for those seven films Moore delivered as James Bond and having such a colorful influence on this life.
Roger Moore was 89 years of age.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

John Hurt (1940-2017)

"My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today."
- Hazel (voiced by John Hurt), Watership Down-

Sadly, this writer is spending way too much time saying goodbye to artists he's loved across a lifetime.

Catching up on the losses of 2017 another big,big man lost in January of this year was English actor John Hurt (1940-2017).

You want to talk about a prolific performer. Hurt was in demand and always busy.

For me and for many science fiction fans, and likely the general film going population, Hurt may best be remembered for his unenviable chest burster sequence as Kane in director Ridley Scott's classic Alien (1979).

Yet film fans will certainly recollect their favorites when it comes to Hurt. Personally, I'm by no means a Hurt connoisseur, but I'd like to offer a selection of some of his performances that I recall fondly and that hurt so great.

Alan Parker's Midnight Express (1978), Ridley Scott's Alien (1979), David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980), Sam Peckinpah's The Osterman Weekend (1982), Michael Radford's 1984 (1984), Michael Caton-Jones Scandal (1989) and Rob Roy (1995), Jim Sheridan's The Field (1990), Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001) and Hellboy (2004).

Let us also not forget his voice contribution to Martin Rosen's fantastic and gorgeous animated features Watership Down (1978) and The Plague Dogs (1982). And the list goes on and on. These are but just a few films that resonated with me through the years.

Hurt even portrayed the War Doctor in TV series  Doctor Who (2013). He also filmed scenes as a key character in the unaired Pilot for the awesome and extremely underrated TV series The Strain (2014). That would have been interesting to see.

And yet, this is but a sampling of his immense and exceptional work. It's sad to see him go.

And then there are the films that never see the light of day.

On a personal note, I recall being in Ireland in 1995 and sitting across from him in a pub and even earlier in the day at a fish and chips shop by the ocean in County Cork in a place called Ballycotton. He was filming a movie with Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando that never saw the light of day. I was so star struck upon seeing the man sitting next to me I didn't have the nerve to say hello, but it was definitely like sitting next to a living legend for me. We literally breathed the same air and shared a lager (sort of) just feet away later in the evening at Stephen Pearce pub in the same small Irish village. He was surrounded by a few adoring ladies. He's easy to adore. My upbringing to respect people's space kept me from crossing that line. Oh well, I still have his films along with that quiet moment.

So it's sad to see another great go. His performances speak for themselves. He was that rare and special talent.

The charitable John Hurt was just 77 years of age.


Bill Paxton (1955-2017)

"I didn't think it was a whale's dick honey."
-Chet, Weird Science-
"That's it man. Game over man. Game over! What the fuck are we gonna do now? What are we gonna do?"
-Private Hudson, Aliens-

It seemed Bill Paxton was given endless dialogue to chew or at least some of film's most memorable lines. Paxton never wasted an opportunity to get our attention. Carpe Diem. He seized the day as an actor and was rewarded for it with wonderful contributions to film an television before his untimely passing.

It's never too late to pay tribute and say goodbye to a talent that had such an influence on my young life in pop culture or in my more discerning moments as an adult.

Bill Paxton (1955-2017) was a superbly talented man and, like so many, we will miss his presence in film and television.

Since this is such a distinctly personal place to write this writer would like to make mention of some major Bill Paxton highlights.

The list of his films and television appearances are many and vast. There are even science fiction films like the forgettable Predator 2 (1990), Thunderbirds (2004)  and The Colony (2013) in which he starred that disappointed, but never as a result of his own contributions. He made every part special and his own. And there are still numerous other works that are solid with some being exceptional.

These are the film that rank very high or essential on the list of must see Bill Paxton films here at Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic. James Cameron's The Terminator (1984), John Hughes' Weird Science (1985), James Cameron's Aliens (1986), Carl Franklin's One False Move (1992), Walter Hill's Trespass (1992), Tombstone (1993), James Cameron's True Lies (1994), Sam Raimi's A Simple Plan (1998), Bill Paxton's own self-directed Frailty (2001) and Doug Liman's Edge Of Tomorrow (2014).

In television he played the crucial role of Bill Henrickson for five seasons of the exceptional HBO's Big Love (2006-2011).

Heck, the man was so beloved people penned blogs with his very name in the title of those blogs as tribute and inspiration. Think The Paxton Configuration just for starters.

Bill Paxton, so sorry to see you go. I know I'm going to miss you.

He was just 61 years of age.

These are just a few highlights from Weird Science (recorded over the weekend), a film that essentially helped navigate us through high school. Bill Paxton and John Hughes what would we have done without you?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Martin Caidin: On Patriotism

"I'm not a fanatic.
This is my country.
I believe in this country.
[Despite] all the errors.
I think we do more soul-searching than any other country in the world.
I gave a college talk one time, and this was when they were anti-bomb, anti-everything.
I said, 'Hey all you shitheads out there.
I want to tell you something.
In 1945, this country had to make a tremendous decision.
We had something no one else had, the absolute weapon.
We were the only people on Earth who had the atomic bomb, and we had the means to deliver it.
To prevent another war, or the rise of communism, or rebirth of fascism.
We had the means to take over the entire world!
To use what we had would have made us exactly like those we had just defeated.
Instead, we gambled on the human race.'
Whether we make it or not doesn't matter to me, that was the finest moment of any nation in the course of history."

-Martin Caidin, The Bionic Book: The Six Million Dollar Man And The Bionic Woman Reconstructed, p.182-

Martin Caidin was the author of Cyborg, the book upon which The Six Million Dollar Man (1973-1978) was adapted. Caidin came from the inner workings of the American government through the CIA.

What struck me in his aforementioned quote was his the guts in speaking to a college campus and delivering the counter-cultural message he does given the era.

Well some things never change. The freedom to speak is something not afforded at some campuses across the United States today where students are indoctrinated with an almost anti-American bias and where shutting down the conversation seems to be the modus operandi. Evidence may suggest its worse than ever.

We could use a few more Martin Caidins speaking on college campuses today. Very hard choices were made by President Harry S. Truman, a Democrat, and others. But these were men of character and conviction, traits often lacking in some men today. Sometimes its important to self-reflect and take a closer look at ourselves as a nation and to a man and woman. Aren't we in this together?

Where you are from, your demographic, your party affiliation, should have nothing to do with your loyalty to country and to your fellow citizens. It's that simple.

The late Caidin might be stunned by the things happening in this great country today and particularly at some colleges across the nation.

This post comes in honor of Memorial Day and as a tribute to all that have served and given their lives to protect our freedom and way of life. Those that served and lost their lives gave the greatest of all sacrifices so that those who do not sacrifice for country can speak freely.

Thank you.