Don’t go to Bulgaria

13 November, 2012

Here’s the latest news on the Australian jailed for “murder with hooliganism” in Bulgaria.

I’ve followed this story since it started: basically, Jock Palfreeman was a naive young traveller who found himself targeted by gangs in Bulgaria, and took to carrying a knife in self defense. In a subsequent attack, a Bulgarian ended up dead. Palfreeman was railroaded – abused by the police, who crudely fudged the evidence, which was nonetheless accepted by the court in what I assume was a manner of habitual corruption. The reparation payment increasing at 15-20% per annum is another example of gross unfairness. Sadly, much of Eastern Europe is like this, though Bulgaria may be the worst: racist, corrupt, brutal, dishonest, a 3rd world country with 1st world tech. I wouldn’t go there without a humvee convoy for backup.

Revisited two outliers from the Alien universe:

Alien Resurrection DVD cover
ALIEN RESURRECTION

It’s interesting to think about why the later films are less successful than the first two. The first two are thematically very basic, 1. Old Dark House, 2. War movie. Any moral ambivalence lies in the human shenanigans.

The later two films tried to go deeper, in a way Hollywood isn’t set up to bring off. 3 is about acceptance of death (symbolised by the Alien), with the planet location being purgatory/hell. I basically like it, and it’s on my list of films to re-edit.

4 – they never quite figured it out. The overall plot motivation seems to be “We want another Alien movie.” There are ideas about the merging and crossing over of alien and human identities, but these are dropped into the plot sporadically, in amongst the action set-pieces and humorous interludes. The humour generally undermines the tone of the movie, and seems to be the film-maker winking at us, rather than something emerging naturally from the characters (as in the previous films). Weaver plays the human/alien hybrid character with a lot of smirking and artificial gestures, and is not particularly believable. Also, one thing that really bugs me, and always has, is Ripley providing a mercy killing – with a flame thrower! Surely a bullet to the head would have been kinder?

Thinking on the deceptive simplicity of the first two Alien films, I dug out my copy of

Alien vs. Predator DVD cover
ALIEN VS. PREDATOR

In terms of achieving its aims, this is a much more successful film than Resurrection. I just wish there had been more grandiosity and sense of plot direction in the later part of the pyramid section. In comparison with the earlier film, we could say this one is a tasty take-out burger, while Resurrection is a high-grade steak that is half raw, half burned to a crisp.

Next up, another viewing of Pitch Black, which David Twohy developed from his proposal for an Alien sequel set on the creature’s homeworld.

 

Is my friend dead?

9 April, 2009

Yesterday (Wednesday), I rang my friend to see if she was available for our regular Wednesday lunch. Her husband answered the phone, and said that my friend had had an asthma attack and was in intensive care. But he said not to worry.

Apparently, she’d had an attack in the middle of the night, and they’d spend 8 or 9 hours trying to get her breathing again. She was now in intensive care, with tubes down her throat. But he said not to worry.

I gave him my number, and told him to ring if anything happens. I asked about visiting, and he said she would be fine and I shouldn’t worry.

My best friend is in intensive care. I hope she’s not dead.

As reported in the February issue of Ansible:

Kim Manners (1951-2009), US tv producer/director of many episodes of The X-Files and Supernatural, died on 25 January; he was 58. He also worked on Automan and ST:TNG.

His episodes for Supernatural were certainly of the highest quality. A damn shame he won’t be making any more. Interesting to find him associated with Automan, of which I have vague but fond memories. (Shame about the ST:TNG connection!)

Ricardo Montalban (1920-2009), Mexican-born actor best known to sf fans as Khan in Star Trek and the film The Wrath of Khan (1982), died on 14 January aged 88. Another famous part was Mr Roarke in tv’s Fantasy Island (1978-1984).

Apart from his striking good looks and great personal charm, he must be noted for his employment of these qualities to great service in his many roles, sf and otherwise. (As an aside, I can’t help but pre-emptively grieve that, someday, we must mourn the passing of the much underrated and underused Bill Shatner.)

Angela Morley (1924-2009), UK-born transsexual composer whose genre work included E.T. and the first two Star Wars films, and who as Wally Stott was musical director and band conductor of The Goon Show, died on 14 January; she was 84.

I certainly hope no-one is claiming that Morley wrote the music for Star Wars! Interesting to add another name to the curious list of men who, later in life, decided to become women. Other notables include travel writer James, later Jan, Morris, and composer Walter, later Wendy, Carlos. (I’ll just add here as an aside that I find the whole sex change business extremely silly.)

John Mortimer (1923-2009), UK author, playwright, barrister and much-loved public figure perhaps best known for creating Rumpole of the Bailey, died on 16 January aged 85. Genre link: his script work on The Innocents (1961), a film adaptation of The Turn of the Screw.

I hope Mortimer wasn’t responsible for the only episode I’ve ever seen of Rumpole, in which a person was tried for some murky business involving a Post Office box, and only in a “twist” at the last minute was it revealed that the PO box belonged to somebody else. Well, even if he was responsible, his involvement with that creepy film The Innocents goes some way to rubbing out his guilt.