Two weird days. My mom contacted us about a house in Leeds that's just gone on the market, and...well..it's a very strange story I'll tell once I know how it's going to play out. But I led to considerable chaos today, including my having to cancel a zoom conference two paleontologists, Drs. Tony Martin (Atlanta) and Ashley Poust (San Diego), with whom I have been discussing a collaboration over the last couple of weeks. Needless to say, I didn't really get any other work done, either. Mostly, I've been "sitting by the phone." Yeah, I know that phrase no longer means what it once did. Wish us luck, kittens.
Yesterday's movie was James Cameron's The Abyss (1989), which wasn't nearly as good as I'd remember it being, though Ed Harris gives it his all. Today was Kerry Conran's Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004), which has aged very well. I will quote my original LJ "review," from the 9/18/04 entry, because I said it well enough way back then:
It is with great, great delight that I can honestly say that Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is one of the most spectacular films of the year (or in recent memory, for that matter). A dizzyingly diverse mixture of influences are brought into play: Flash Gordon, the Fleischer Brothers' Superman cartoons, MGM's The Wizard of Oz, King Kong, The Lost World (1925), Metropolis, Terry and the Pirates, various 1940-'50s serials including Commander Cody and King of the Rocketman, and numerous film noir classics -- and still, I suspect that's just a beginning. This is a beautiful, amazing film which manages to do what George Lucas did so long ago with Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, but has failed to do more recently. It takes the past and makes something new and brilliant and breathtaking from it. Some might mistake this for camp, but Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is emphatically not camp. Which, I fear, will make it even more unfathomable to many of today's moviegoers. I think Gene Shalit has best summed it up: "If you don't like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, you just don't like movies."*
Kerry Conran's direction is spot on, and his script is, by turns, tight, suspenseful, humorous, bold, and minimalist. The casting could hardly have been better. Jude Law has just the right kind of good looks to pull off the role, Gwyneth Paltrow is the plucky reincarnation of a hundred lost movie goddesses, Angelina Jolie's "Frankie" Cook is a perfect mix of sexuality and no-nonsense airwoman, and Bai Ling's presence dominates much of the film, though she never utters a single line. Are the SFX good? They are beyond all expectation. They are such a seamless fusion of Fritz Lang's Bauhaus/Deco sensibilities with a CGI/post-Matrix paradigm one finds it hard to believe the marriage wasn't there all along. I know a lot of film critics are giving this one the boot, but trust me, they're wrong. See this movie. Please see this movie. But don't see it with a chip on your shoulder. You know what I mean. That, "Okay. Here I am. Entertain me." bullshit. Allow this movie to show itself to you on its own exquisite terms. It's a film that more jaded, cynical film goers will never get, because many of them have forgotten that it's okay to have fun at the theatre and spend 107 minutes smiling until your face aches. Without reservation, I adore this film. Oh, and Crimson Skies** geeks, you might love it the most.
It is a great shame that Conran never made another feature film.
* Yeah, I know. Not exactly a great movie critic. But even a doofus is right every now and again.
** Still one of the best Xbox games ever.
Still reading the Harlan bio. Also read "Deconstructing the Gestalt: New concepts and tests of homology, as exemplified by a re-conceptualization of 'microstomy" in squamates" in the Anatomical Record.
Not much else to report. I'm gonna go sort Pleistocene cave matrix until dinner. I'm almost done with the second batch.
1:53 p.m. (and these days, pretty much all the photos are Kathryn's)