King Kong falling off the Empire State Building

This animated gif appeared in Slate some time ago, I love it:

Sexuality, Women, and the Movies

Eve Tushnet promotes her review of some recent film release with a mock headline declaring it  “A terrific date movie!  Unless you’re heterosexual or something.”  I love that “or something.”  I’m not sure whether she includes her non-heterosexual self among those for whom the picture is a less than terrific date movie. 

Click to read

Click to read

Friend of the blog Duncan Mitchel has recently put up two posts (here and here) about something that Tushnet’s line reminded me of.  In a 1985 edition of her strip Dykes to Watch Out For, cartoonist Alison Bechdel lays out a test for movies.  “One, it has to have at least two women in it; who, two, talk to each other about, three, something besides a man.”  Duncan calls this “Liz Warren’s Rule,” because Alison says she got it from her friend Liz Warren.  In his first post, Duncan looks at some published works that predate the DTWOF strip and include precursors of the Rule; in his second, he describes a South Korean movie that surprises him by meeting the requirements of the Rule.  Some of the precursors seem to me a bit harsh; for example, in an essay published in 1975 Samuel R. Delany wrote that “any novel that does not, in this day and age, have a strong, central, positive relation between women can be dismissed as sexist (no matter the sex of the author) from the start.”  A woman who had written a novel which did not have such a relation at its center might be rather surprised to find Mr Delany dismissing her work as sexist, but that’s what the guy said.

Movie Review- Ghosts of Mars

Ghosts of Mars (2001)

Starring: Ice Cube, Natasha Henstridge, Jason Statham, Clea DuVall, Pam Grier, Joanna Cassidy, Richard Cetrone

Cymast’s synopsis: It’s a slow starting, slash and burn zombie fest. On future terraformed Mars, sleazy dumb-asses team up with dumb sleaze-asses to kick zombie Earthling-Martian ass, which makes more zombie Earthling-Martians so the sleaze-dumbs can kick even more zombie Earthling-Martian ass.

Mr. Cymast’s synopsis: Mars is inhabited by GWAR zombies.


I kept expecting it to get better.

The premise is promising- dormant Martian dust gets let loose on Mars and takes over colonists from Earth with the goal of turning the entire planet into Martian-dust-controlled colonist zombies. The story starts out with a legal hearing and continues with flashback testimony of what happened during a police-squad pick-up of a notorious criminal at a small outpost.

The most likeable and convincing (by comparison only) character is Ice Cube’s “James ‘Desolation’ Williams.” That leaves the other characters annoying and incredulous at their best. At least Desolation isn’t perpetually trying to get laid amidst the zombie attacks like a few others are. The zombies are more interesting than scary- they’re a cross between Mad Max’s Armalites and Hellraiser’s Cenobites.

I watched half-way through to get to the premise explanation, and then made myself and Mr. Cymast watch the rest of the movie because I am a sado-masochist wanted to write another Mars movie review am obsessive-compulsive about finding out what happens “in the end.” Three minutes before “the end,” the writers apparently had synchronous strokes decided to commit cinematic suicide gave up and wrote the most eye-roll-inducing end in the history of movies. Which, I suppose, could be an achievement in itself. Sort of.

“Driven by Carpenter’s synth-metal score, this violent free-for-all has a few brief highlights, but it’s suspenseless and ultimately absurd. It’s not much, but for loyal fans it’s probably enough.”- Jeff Shannon

“John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars starts out as a fairly effective sci-fi horrorshow, then quickly devolves into a mindless action movie that involves a small group of survivors machine-gunning hordes of possessed zombies. Carpenter, who cowrote the screenplay with Larry Sulkis, has an interesting central idea . . but, in the end, he lets it get away from him in a frenzy of bullets and headache-inducing industrial rock music.”- James Kendrick

Oh yeah- I actually got a headache, but not from the music. I think it was from the void created from the extreme thoughtlessness of the movie’s “conclusion.” You are warned.


Movie Review- MARS ATTACKS!


Cymast’s Synopsis: Technologically superior Martians attack Earthlings in a full-scale planetary war. But 2 humans stumble upon an unlikely and effective weapon against the Martians. And it isn’t a pickle.

Noteable Cast:

Jack Nicholson- USA’s President James Dale/property developer Art Land

Glenn Close- USA’s First Lady Marsha Dale

Natalie Porman- USA’s First Daughter Taffy Dale

Annette Bening- Art’s wife Barbara Land

Pierce Brosnan- National Academy of Astronautics Chair and Presidential Advisor Professor Donald Kessler

Danny Devito- scumbag lawyer

Martin Short- White House Press Secretary Jerry Ross

Michael J. Fox- reporter Jason Stone

Sarah Jessica Parker- reporter Nathalie Lake

Poppy (dog)- Nathalie Lake’s pet dog Poppy

Rod Steiger- USA Army General Decker

Lukas Haas- donut shop employee Richie Norris

Jack Black- USA Army Soldier Billy Glenn Norris

Sylvia Sidney- Richie and Billy Glenn’s grandmother Florence Norris

 Joe Don Baker- Richie and Billy Glenn’s father Mr. Norris

O-Lan Jones- Richie and Billy Glenn’s mother Mrs. Norris

Christina Applegate- Billy Glenn’s girlfriend Sharona

Lisa Marie- Martians

Ray J- truant child Cedric Williams

Brandon Hammond- truant child Neville Williams

Jim Brown- retired champion boxer turned casino greeter Byron Williams, Cedric and Neville’s father

Pam Grier- bus driver Louise Williams, Cedric and Neville’s mother

Tom Jones- self

Paul Winfield- USA Army Lt. Gen. Casey

Brian Haley- Secret Service Agent Mitch, presidential bodyguard

Jerzy Skolimowski- inventor Dr. Zeigler

Janice Rivera- waitress Cindy

Barbet Schroeder- France’s President Maurice

Cymast: I abhor gratuitous violence. I detest banal cartoons. Show me a gratuituosly violent, banal cartoon and I will run away screaming, literally. I never understood the adage “The exception proves the rule,” but I do know it can be applied to the puzzling curiosity of ME + MARS ATTACKS! = RAPTUROUS GLEE.

Mr. Cymast: Goofy. It didn’t make sense.

Roger Ebert: Burton has made a common mistake: He assumes it is funny simply to *be doing* a parody, when in fact the material has to be funny in its own right. It isn’t funny *that* Jack Nicholson is the president–it’s only funny if the writing makes the role comic. 

James Rocchi: A frantic, funny love letter to an era of entertainment gone by, but also a top-notch example of modern comedy.

Cymast’s Favorite quote:

“Why are they doing this?”

“Maybe they don’t like the humans!”

Cymast’s High/Lowlights:

DR. STRANGELOVE is respectfully channeled several times, particularly with Jack Nickolson’s dual role. 

Lukas Haas as Richie Norris pleasantly channels Darren E. Burrows’ Ed Chigliak from TV’s Northern Exposure.

The only 2 flaws in the movie are the casting of Glenn Close and Sarah Jessica Parker. Sure, they’re big names, but they’re more suited to villain and misfit roles than to leading lady and glamor roles.

In my opinion, the most riveting performance is Lisa Marie’s as the mute decoyed aliens. Her deadpan, silent role is the drop-dead stunner of the movie, special effects meltdowns and explosions notwithstanding. It’s a you’ve-got-to-see-it-to-believe-it scene!

Movie Review- Mission to Mars

Mission to Mars (2000)


Don Cheadle, Jerry O’Connell, Kim Delaney, Tim Robbins, Gary Sinise

 Cymast’s Synopsis:

The first human mission to Mars results in the mysterious deaths of 3 of the 4 astronauts.  The remaining astronaut is stranded on Mars, and a rescue mission is sent.  After another accident, the 3 survivors of the rescue crew team up with the 1 original survivor and solve the mystery of the Face on Mars.

Mr. Cymast’s Synopsis:

It’s a rescue mission to Mars gone wrong, and they found a surprise. And it wasn’t a pickle.

—– ” ‘Mission to Mars’ takes bad to a whole new level. This film is mind boggling and stupid, a derivative piece of doo-doo that’s an embarrassment for all involved.”

Roger Ebert: “I can’t recommend ‘Mission to Mars.’ It misses too many of its marks. But it has extraordinary things in it. It’s as if the director, the gifted Brian De Palma, rises to the occasions but the screenplay gives him nothing much to do in between them.”

Cymast: As a fan of fluffy sci-fi, I found the movie mostly enjoyable. The characters, at times, are distracting in their ineptitude as astronauts. There’s a drawn-out, smarmy love scene that I’m sure was included just to lengthen the movie: 2 of the astronauts twirl and flirt in zero-G. Twirl and flirt, twirl and flirt, twirl and flirt . . well, you get it. There’s a climactic space death scene which is slightly marred by the expressionless, Julia Robertsesque acting of Kim Delaney. She does have a convincing scream, though. Don Cheadle’s performance as a sole stranded/rescued astronaut saves the movie, IMO. I particulary enjoyed the Martian landscape and what appeared to be its thermal features. I did not care for the the last half of the ending, as it leaves WAY TOO LITTLE to the imagination. That part of the ending also seems cartoonish, compared to the rest of the movie. But, to the movie’s credit, I’m sure it was a tough scene to write. Overall, it’s worth a look, especially if you’re a fan of alternative theories.