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Archive for September, 2012


Review by C.J. Bunce

Once upon a time and long before Charles Perrault wrote down his version of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty in the 17th century someone else created and shared through the oral tradition the fairy tales we know today.   Before Jack and the Beanstalk and Snow White were collected as stories and written down and shared by familiar names like Grimm someone first thought of and created these elemental and immortal characters.  But we will never know the names or these writers, shake their hands, ask them questions and know much about them at all.  Creators of more modern classic tales are long gone as well, like Tolkien, Carroll, White and Lewis, and luckily a lot has been shared about them and their works.  We know these creators of immortal works–stories that stick in your memory.  But is The Hobbit and Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe as elemental to our storytelling tradition as Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty?  Maybe.  If they don’t quite fit in that category they are certainly on the next shelf over.

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The creators that made Ray, the biopic of musician Ray Charles, a critical and financial success are back with another biopic, starring a relative newcomer, TV actor Chadwick Boseman as baseball legend Jackie Robinson, who (as everyone knows or should know) was the first black player in Major League Baseball, and became one of the best players of all time.  The film is titled simply 42, representing the number worn by Robinson throughout his career, the number retired by the league back in 1997 in honor of Robinson.

Baseball movies have become their own genre, although they dip in and out of other genres more commonly featured here at borg.com from time to time, like the spectacular Kevin Costner fantasy movie Field of Dreams and the magical Robert Redford film The Natural.  There is a whole slew of baseball comedies, too many to list, but they include Bull Durham, Major League, The Sandlot, and The Bad News Bears.   Most movies we think of as true baseball movies are firmly entrenched as the classic American apple pie movie–these include great biopic films about triumph in the face of adversity and include Eight Men Out with John Cusack, The Pride of the Yankees with Gary Cooper, and last year’s Moneyball with Brad Pitt.  42 looks to be set to fit into this last category.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

When a publisher adapts a work of fiction into comic book or graphic novel form, there should be a reason for it.  How can a visual representation of this work add something to the story for a reader, either new to the story or not?  And timing is relevant.  Why release this adaptation now?  Easy answers that are valid are simply because the work is a classic, because the work is by a noted writer, or because the subject matter is one that resonates with current audiences.

I don’t have an answer as to why now is a good time for an adaptation of Peter S. Beagle’s A Fine and Private Place into comic book form.  But many of the easy answers fit.  Beagle is one of the most beloved authors of all time, and perhaps the most beloved author of classic fantasy of the level of Tolkien and Carroll and White and Lewis still living and still writing.  Issue #1 of IDW Publishing’s adaptation of Beagle’s first novel, A Fine and Private Place, is probably a long time coming.  Published in 1960, eight years before his celebrated The Last Unicorn, A Fine and Private Place is our first window into the thoughtful and introverted characters fans love Beagle for.

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James Bond stands by himself as a character of any genre.  It’s been said over and over that he’s the man every man wants to be, and the man every woman wants to be with.   What makes Bond Bond is simple: the best British secret agent, he likes only the best of everything, dresses fashionably, prefers the best quality of drink including his signature shaken martini, he drives the best car, often an Aston Martin, and carries as his weapon a Walther PPK.   And yes, he finds himself surrounded with beautiful women.  Dubbed “Bond girls” over the past 50 years, the on-screen Bond girls sometimes match–and sometimes don’t–the character the role is based on from the original novel.  Not only a representation of beauty from the time of filming each Bond movie–at least in the eyes of the Broccoli family that produces and carefully selects who will be in each new Bond film–Bond girls don’t always serve as merely the film’s eye candy.  Bond girls have served as Bond’s love interests sure, but also can be double agents or villains, as partner or antagonist, driving the plot forward.  Often smart and tough, always glamorous, sexy, and sophisticated, often touting suggestive names they straddle the line between what some feminists might hate (after all, they are Bond girls, not Bond women), and the ultimate in femininity to aspire to.  Sometimes international models and sometimes international movie stars, they are as much as part of our popular culture as Mickey Mouse, Superman, and Uncle Sam.

So if you had to select one as your favorite, who would you choose?

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With 50 years of James Bond books, the attention given to Ian Fleming for his success, President John F. Kennedy mentioning publicly he was a fan of Fleming’s work, and dozens of movies, it’s no wonder Life Magazine covered Bond and Fleming so much over the years.  This month Life Books chronicles the Bond jubilee year with a hardcover book and a condensed magazine version of that book, with its LIFE 50 Years of James Bond and  LIFE 50 Years of James Bond–On the Run with 007 From Dr. No to Skyfall.

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Brannon Braga is the writer who wrote more scripts than any other person in the Star Trek franchise.  He wrote some of the best time travel/parallel universe episodes, concepts he clearly had a nice grasp on using “time” as a science fiction storytelling tool throughout Next Generation, moving on to use time as an element in episodes of Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise.  These included “Cause and Effect,” “Timescape,” “Parallels,” and “All Good Things…” on Next Generation, the movies Star Trek Generations and  First Contact, “Year of Hell,” “Living Witness,” “Timeless,” and “Endgame” on Voyager, and “These are the Voyages” on Enterprise.  It’s strange in hindsight that Braga penned the last episode to each of these series, yet they all are quite similar.

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What’s funny and what is not is subjective.  But I watched a lot of TV last year and only one TV series made me laugh out loud–a lot–in every single episode.  Jess, Schmidt, Nick, Winston, and Cece return tomorrow night for another season of great actors, great characters, (we hope) great writing, and gut-busting humor with a two-episode premiere at 7C/8E on Fox (note: Fox is sneaking in another half hour show so episode 2 starts at 8C/9E).  So don’t forget to set the DVR.  Look for Parker Posey guest starring in the first episode, “Re-launch.”

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Every kid who grew up seeing Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back in theaters in their original releases is familiar with the rocket-firing Boba Fett.  First of all, you didn’t watch Star Wars and not at least stare in amazement at your local Woolworth’s or Woolco or Target displays or the Sears Roebuck Christmas “wish book” catalog and drool over the small initial run of action figures.  Then, once your parents caved and bought you even one, there was the little ad for a FREE (!) figure–if you only bought three more–of this mysterious new character with a cameo in the now infamous Star Wars Christmas Special.  Just save those little blue Kenner proofs of purchase.  You wanted to get your four figures fast, because… what if they run out of this Fett guy?  Should I tape these circles to a postcard so they don’t get lost in the envelope?  You wait and wait at the mailbox like the little kid in A Christmas Story.  Finally it arrived, and you have the first discussion with your parents about “bait and switch”.

Many happy returns this Hobbit Day!  Celebrating the shared birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, the American Tolkien Society says of this day:

Hobbit Day is usually taken up with the fun activities – the feasts, games, costume events, fireworks and the like.  Hobbit Day is a virtually ideal holiday, incorporating attractive elements of several others: the masquerade fun of Halloween, the feast of Thanksgiving, the exchange of greeting cards and gifts associated with Christmas and birthdays, the picnic atmosphere of Labor Day and Memorial Day, the fireworks of Independence Day (or Guy Fawkes Day)… and the study and reflection associated with many commemorative days throughout the year.

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By C.J. Bunce

(Insert a spoiler alert here as a courtesy to anyone who really thinks a 50 year old film needs one!)

Sometimes you are at the right place at the right time.  Having recently heard about the new Fathom Events series, where the satellite-video entertainment company transmits a one-night only event around to movie theaters across the country, I keep going back to the Fathom website to see what is next.  And I marked my calendar when a Hitchcock film made the list.  Last week we let borg.com readers know about this past Wednesday’s screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, a Turner Classic Movies presentation to celebrate the 100th year of Universal Pictures, on the cusp of the 50th year since The Birds first premiered.

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