Back to the Future III: A Personal Timeline

I watched Back to the Future III with my children yesterday. We started watching the trilogy two years ago while on vacation, and it took us this long to get to the end of it. Which is less time than it took us in the 1980s, but it was long enough that they had forgotten parts of the earlier films that were relevant to the third.

But it got me to thinking about when I’d watched the film before.

I saw it in the theater in 1990. It was the first of the series I’d seen in the theater, and it was my one and only date in high school. I’d initially wanted to ask the young lady, a junior to my senior, to the Richard Marx concert (the Repeat Offender tour, using tickets I won on the radio), but when I asked a mutual friend if she was in a relationship, he said, “She would like to be.” I took this to mean she had someone in mind, but I guess it could have been anyone, even me. However, the mutual friend and I went to the Richard Marx concert instead, and some months later, I got up the nerve to ask the girl directly, and she said yes. So we went, and although I was smitten, she was not. Which has worked out all right in the long term.

When the DVD box set was released in 2002 (I remember because of the recall issued because of the framing issues), I got a set–this very set. I watched it with my beautiful wife in our home in Casinoport.

Now, it’s almost fifteen years later, and I watched it again with my children.

In none of the previous viewings did I imagine where I’d be the next time I saw it. Now, I cannot imagine where I’ll be the next time I see it. With grandchildren? Re-watching it with my children when they’re older? Or is this the last time I will see the film?

Actually, I guess I am imagining just a little bit.

Rogue One Spoilers! Must Credit MfBJN!

Well, not actually. I tweeted these bad dogs and thought I’d do a two-fer with the content by recycling it for you, gentle reader.

Yeah, I saw it, but I wasn’t entranced with it. I wonder if the Star Wars movies and the Marvel movies will have diminishing returns as the decades become saturated with them.

What I Want To Watch, When I Want To Watch It

As you might know or guess, gentle reader, I am a skeptic of online streaming services and buying “digital” copies of movies, books, or music (exception!) because I’ve had enough electronic devices crash that I don’t trust electronic media, because I’ve seen enough tech companies fail to consider that they might not be there to provide me with what I purchased tomorrow, because I don’t trust that online services will keep their promises of availability of things I purchased.

But we have two paid streaming video sources at Nogglestead: Amazon Prime because it remains a shipping discount (for now) and Netflix because my beautiful wife likes to watch television shows on her tablet as she rides her elliptical exercise device.

A couple of times in the last couple of weeks, I wanted to watch a particular film not in the vast Nogglestead library.

After reading a listicle about John Hughes’ Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, I wanted to watch She’s Having A Baby because it’s the most adult of his coming-of-age comedies (and I plan to come of age sometime soon). But it’s not on Netflix nor Amazon Prime.

Then I got to thinking about funny Christmas movies my children might like to watch with me since White Christmas, Holiday Inn, The Bells of St. Mary’s, or The Bishop’s Wife are a little black-and-white for them, and they’re not old enough for Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, or Gremlins. So I checked Netflix and Amazon Prime, and again I was disappointed.

Fortunately, Amazon Prime still includes free shipping.

So now I have the two films I wanted to watch, and I can be assured I’ll have the actual ability to watch them whenever I want.

Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming are good when you want to watch something as they give you a lot to chose from. But I often do not want to sit down and watch something; I want to sit down and watch a particular film. So physical media still have a vital role in that. Much like the old independent video stores offered something other than the newest releases at Blockbuster.

In 1997, They Saw Me Coming

At the Friends of the Christian County Library book sale this fall, I bought this family looking film:

Dan Haggerty! A bear! Grizzly Mountain. It’s a Grizzly Adams movie.

Ha ha, sucker! It is not a Grizzly Adams movie.

Man, I’m the target audience for this film: parents who were, a long time ago, sort of fans of the Grizzly Adams television show because it was syndicated and played a couple times a week on the local stations before cable.

Instead, this a a fin-de-siècle environmental pageant about how developing natural areas is de rigueur. The plot features a family camping in an undeveloped Oregon forest whose 125 year lease to an Indian tribe is about to expire. The father is a state functionary of some sort, looking over the land as he plans to approve development of the land. So two of his children enter a cave on the land and are transported back to 1870, when a greedy railroad executive also plans to develop the land, and his cold, distant beau uses a fake gold scheme to swindle the townsfolk. So it’s up to Grizzly Adams Jeremiah, Gentle Ben Jack, some Indians, the children, and hijinks to stop the bad guys.

There’s definitely some fun in the naming. Haggerty’s character is Jeremiah; is this a nod to Jeremiah Johnson, a film about another mountain man that preceded the Grizzly Adams television series (which itself might have tried to capitalize on the success of that film)? The bear is named Jack; as you know, Jack was the name of another character in the television show. And the show unreservedly calls the natives “Indians,” which was already a no-no in 1997.

At any rate, it’s a low budget little affair; there are about five sets (six if you count “the woods”). Haggerty is older and suffers from breathing difficulties throughout. So it’s a direct-to-video style thing, and as I mentioned, it’s a parable about the evils of development. But it’s not that I wish I’d spent the time watching something else.

I did have a bit of a talk with my children after it though, as I so often do. This is a message movie, I remind them. It simplifies the lives of Indians, it softens the real nature of wildlife, and it takes out all possibility that development can also be a good and man can manage development in rural and natural areas without the default despoilment depicted by Hollywood.

In researching the film post-viewing, I found there’s actually a 2000 sequel, Escape to Grizzly Mountain, a fin-de-siècle animal rights pageant that also stars Jan-Michael Vincent of Airwolf. I almost want to see it.

Another Joke I Get Thirty Years Later

So I watched the 1984 film Romancing the Stone, and at the beginning, when John Colton meets Joan Wilder, she offers him $375 in traveler’s checks to take her to town. He asks if they’re American Express.

Because Michael Douglas, who played John Colton, was in Streets of San Francisco with Karl Malden, who later was the pitch man for American Express Traveller’s Cheques.

Douglas and Malden remained good friends after the detective show ended, so this probably is an inside joke.

As I’ve Been Warning You

Disney films end up with fewer corpses on the stage than their source material. 20 Disney Movies That Are Based on Bizarre and R-rated Stories/How Your Favorite Disney Stories *Actually* Ended.

(See also Book Report: The Harvard Classics: Folk-Lore and Fable by Aesop, the Brothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Andersen, Book Report: The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (1831, 193x?), and Book Report: Kipling: A Selection of His Stories and Poems (Volume I) by Rudyard Kipling, edited by John Beecroft (1956).)

(Link via Ace of Spades HQ.)

A Movie Quiz I Wish I Did Better On

Mental Floss has a list called 22 Movies Roger Ebert Really Hated, so of course I had to use it as a quiz.

Here they are; movies I saw in the theater are in bold, and movies I saw on home video are in italics.

  • Armageddon
  • The Brown Bunny
  • Jason X
  • Mad Dog Time
  • The Usual Suspects
  • Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
  • Mr. Magoo
  • Spice World
  • Good Luck Chuck
  • Freddy Got Fingered
  • Corky Romano
  • Charlie’s Angels
  • Mannequin
  • Exit to Eden
  • Hocus Pocus
  • Tommy Boy
  • The Village
  • The Love Guru
  • She’s Out of Control
  • Summer School
  • Clifford
  • North

I liked Mannequin and watched it over in over in my college years because one, pre-Sex in the City Kim Cattrall and two, because in my college days I seemed to have more time to watch movies in my small video library over and over again.

I wish I’d done better on this quiz, but it’s not clear what Roger Ebert thought of films like Hell Comes to Frogtown, 9 1/2 Ninjas, and Assault of the Killer Bimbos.

I Got 0 Out Of 50 On This Quiz, And I Consider It A Perfect Score

The 50 Weirdest Movies Ever Made

As a matter of fact, I’d only heard of two of them: Boxing Helena because it came out while I was in college and I remember seeing the ad for it in the Milwaukee Journal at about the same time I saw Sands in Warlock late at night on cable. And I’d heard of Zardoz because Sean Connery.

Most of the items on the list are brutal-looking slasher/horror bits from the 1970s directed by Europeans, it looks like. The sort of films I never thought were worthwhile.

So I guess I don’t like artistic weird movies. My guilty pleasures tend to run to dumb movies. For instance, I’ve seen 9 1/2 Ninjas! more than 9 1/2 times. And I’m adding Dead Men Don’t Die to my watching list.

So take my anti-film snobbery for what it is.

Break Alderaan, Good Buddy

James Earl Jones used his Darth Vader voice on the CB while traveling across the country:

You’re never tempted to pick up the phone and pretend to be Darth Vader? I did that once when I was traveling cross-country. I used Darth as my handle on the CB radio. The truck drivers would really freak out — for them, it was Darth Vader. I had to stop doing that.

Mostly, I think it was his declaration of their patrimony that was so dispiriting.

I’m Not Sure How I Feel About That

A Mack Bolan movie might be in the works.

I’m not sure how I feel about that.

It will be tricky to convey that which sets the Bolan series apart from other men’s adventure novels–namely, the interior life that Pendleton gave Bolan and the philosophical asides about his motivations and whatnot.

Of course, I was not compelled to rush out and see the Parker film, either. Let’s face it, I’m not much of a moviegoer during these child-rearing years, and I worry about what modern Hollywood will do to informed 1960s era paperbacks. Because, face it, your general Hollywood type in the 21st century is less well read and less educated than your general paperback writer of the middle 20th century.

(Link via Ace of Spades HQ.)

Pick Your Star Trek Scenario

You’ve all seen this story because the Internet loves stories about sex, space, and lizards: There is a lizard sex satellite floating in space and Russia no longer has it under control:

At this very moment, a Russian satellite full of geckos — (possibly) having sex — is floating around in space — and mission control has lost the ability to control it.

The Foton-M4 research satellite launched on July 19 with five geckos on board. The plan: To observe their mating activities in the zero-gravity conditions of Earth orbit. Several other earthly creatures, including plants and insects, were also placed on board for experiments.

But shortly after the satellite made its first few orbits, it stopped responding to commands from mission control. The equipment on board, however, is still sending scientific data back to earth, a spokesman for Russia’s Institute of Biomedical Problems said.

So does this lead to the Star Trek: The Motion Picture scenario, wherein these geckos return at some point in the future with super intelligence and super powers to talk to the Russians who thought this was a good idea, or the Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home scenario, where some aliens come to earth in the future to hook up with some swinging geckos and threaten to destroy the planet until their reptilian needs are met?

Exit question, which is only partially facetious: How well did the Russians arm those geckos? Because that could result in an alternate scenario altogether.

I Don’t Time Shift; I Year Shift

So, yesterday, I watched Escape From L.A., another film that came out during my adult years that shocked me in how old it was (and by extension, how old I’m getting).

The film came out in 1996. It was set almost 20 years in the future: 2013 (which means this was a good year to watch the film). Of course, when it came out, it had been a long time since Escape From New York (1981). By my calculations, that means it’s been longer between Escape From L.A. and the present day than between the two films.

Also, I can’t help but note that the film deals with an evangelical President who leads us into a Totalitarian state that bans smoking, drinking, and whatnot. Rather like a 2013 book that predicts the same. Somehow a progressive Democrat state (or progressive Republican-for-convenient-election-to-mayorship Independent) never does that in fiction.

As an additional whoa, I digitally recorded this film in one of my spates of recording large numbers of films when I had an extensive satellite package. I’d run through the program guide, record everything in a two-week stretch that looked cool, and then they’d languish for months until I’d watch one, think it was cool, and record everything that looked cool for a two-week stretch. I trimmed the satellite package because I don’t watch television or movies that much these days, and now, apparently, I’m cutting the films I recorded down at a rate of one a year. Considering I have 40 Humphrey Bogart films alone, I’m set until my retirement ends.

UPDATE: Thanks for the link, Ms. K..

If you View from the Porchians aren’t into dystopian academic bubble misinterpretations of the Real World, maybe you’d be more interested in my novel John Donnelly’s Gold, a caper heist novel about four software company workers who seek revenge upon their (former) CEO after their layoffs.

None other than Roberta X. said about the book:

Where Larry Correia’s fictional world postulates our world with a barely-hidden subculture of every monster you ever heard of, the only “monster” in Brian J. Noggle’s John Donnelly’s Gold is a passing mention of the eponymous job-placement company. Nevertheless, it, too is quite an adventure and one that will have you wondering how it all turns out until the very end.

Available in paperback, Kindle, and iBookstore forms starting at just $.99.

A Missing Scene from a Christmas Classic

I found this on YouTube while researching a bit of the family Christmas classic Lethal Weapon. It’s a scene not found in the film, but it’s got the right look to be something trimmed and left behind:

Maybe it’s on the DVD I have as a deleted scene; maybe it’s been held back for the six-disc Blu-Ray package to be released someday. But it’s kind of satisfying to come across something new featuring the characters, look and feel, of a film I’ve liked and enjoyed for decades.

It’s kind of like fan fiction. Only real.

It extends the enjoyment and the storyline when I thought it was set and immutable. What a treat.

Old Man Check

This is some sort of quiz to see if you’re an old man or not. You ladies especially.

Take the list of the top 100 films of 2012 and identify which of them you have seen. I have done this in <strong>, which is orange. Not much orange at that.

Then, identify those that you even know what they’re about. I’ve done this in <em>, which shows up in italics right now.

The list:

Marvel’s The Avengers
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hunger Games
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
The Amazing Spider-Man
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
Wreck-It Ralph
Ice Age: Continental Drift
Snow White and the Huntsman
Hotel Transylvania
21 Jump Street
Taken 2
Safe House
The Vow
Magic Mike
The Bourne Legacy
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Think Like a Man
The Campaign
The Expendables 2
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Wrath of the Titans
Dark Shadows
John Carter
Rise of the Guardians
Act of Valor
Life of Pi
Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection
Mirror Mirror
Chronicle (2012)
Pitch Perfect
Hope Springs
Underworld Awakening
The Lucky One
The Dictator
Total Recall (2012)
Titanic 3D
American Reunion
This Means War
Project X
The Woman in Black
Paranormal Activity 4
The Devil Inside
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
The Odd Life of Timothy Green
The Grey
Red Tails
The Possession
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
Beauty and the Beast (3D)
Savages (2012)
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Moonrise Kingdom
The Three Stooges
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (in 3D)
Here Comes the Boom
Resident Evil: Retribution
The Cabin in the Woods
What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Red Dawn (2012)
Finding Nemo (3D)
End of Watch
Rock of Ages
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
That’s My Boy
Trouble with the Curve
The Watch
Step Up Revolution
Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds
2016 Obama’s America
House at the End of The Street
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Joyful Noise
The Five-Year Engagement
Cloud Atlas
One For the Money
Alex Cross
Katy Perry: Part of Me
Sparkle (2012)
Premium Rush
Big Miracle
The Secret World of Arrietty

Most of the films I even can suss out what they’re about is because they’re sequels, remakes, or titles depicting well-known fairy tales. I probably even consider that I knew what the film was about in some cases if I just knew it was a movie.

Or, in the case of The Transporter on a bike, because I saw the trailer and mocked it.

We can certainly teases this out into a number of blog posts about how Hollywood might make movies whose brands are recognizable on title alone to hit low information infrequent movie goers or how perhaps I’m not really the target audience for Hollywood anyway. We could, I mean, but I’m not going to.

I’d make a list of people who acted in them, but I bet it’s a list of fewer recognizees. And I am the pop culturally literate one of the family. Which is why our house is full of classical literary allusions instead.

The Only Way I Would Watch The Remake of Red Dawn

So we watched some football on Sunday, and they ran the commercial for the remade Red Dawn (in cinemas now!).

I’m with a wise man who long ago said:

By contrast, the long-stalled remake has become a sick joke. To wit: MGM has taken the extraordinary step of digitally scrubbing the film of all references to Red China as the invading villains — substituting dialogue, removing images of Chinese flags and insignia etc. — because “potential distributors are nervous about becoming associated with the finished film, concerned that doing so would harm their ability to do business with the rising Asian superpower.” All without the PRC even uttering a single word of protest.

And who are the new invaders? North Korea. That’s right, the starving-to-death, massively brainwashed “Hermit Kingdom.” I imagine at this very moment, Hollywood script doctors are working on a revised first act in which Kim Jong Il decides it’s a good idea to let hundreds of thousands of his captive countrymen travel to America.

The invasion would last about until the invading armies discovered the American concept of the supermarket, wherein they would all eat themselves sick or into a nap where even 21st century American high school kids could win against them.

The conceit offends me. Apparently, it did not offend enough people to make it the bomb it deserves to be, but those 21st century American moviegoers might lack enough understanding of logistics, current events, and history to think that North Korea might actually pose a threat to the United States outside of maybe Hawaii.

But you know what would make this film a must-see movie for me?

If, instead of reshooting the scenes referring to China, they dubbed over them. Badly.

I would go to see it if every time the characters referred to the origin of the invaders, the actors’ mouths would say “China,” but a deep male voice in the audio track would say “North Korea.” I’d even nominate it for a People’s Choice award, if I’m eligible as a people to do that sort of thing, if the dubbing would include obvious mistakes such as referring to the capital of the invaders’ country incorrectly. The actors’ mouths would say, “Beijing,” but that deep voice (even if it was a woman speaking) would say, “Seoul” or “Manila.”

That, my friends, would be awesome.