MT VOID 05/04/01 (Vol. 19, Number 44)

MT VOID 05/04/01 (Vol. 19, Number 44)

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 05/04/01 -- Vol. 19, No. 44

Table of Contents

Outside events: The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County meets on the second Saturday of every month in Upper Saddle River; call 201-447-3652 for details.

Chair/Librarian: Mark Leeper, 732-817-5619,
Factotum: Evelyn Leeper, 732-332-6218,
Distinguished Heinlein Apologist: Rob Mitchell,
HO Chair Emeritus: John Jetzt,
HO Librarian Emeritus: Nick Sauer,
Back issues at
All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.

Various URLs:

The article I referenced in my editorial on fat and food is available at [-mrl]

Evelyn Leeper's Boskone 38 report is available at [-ecl]

There is an article in the current LINGUA FRANCA about Philip K. Dick and his interactions with the FBI. It is available at [-ecl]

Hugo Nominees:

A few notes on the Hugo nominees listed last week:

The Retro-Hugo short fiction nominees are available in various anthologies. Particularly useful if you can find it is Isaac Asimov's GREST SF STORIES 12: 1950, which contains *eight* of the stories.

"To the Stars" by L. Ron Hubbard is the first part of the novel RETURN TO TOMORROW.

"...And Now You Don't" by Isaac Asimov is the second part of SECOND FOUNDATION.

"The Dreaming Jewels" by Theodore Sturgeon, listed as a novella, is actually the novel. (For that matter "...And Now You Don't" is also novel-length, and C. S. Lewis's THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE is novella-length.)

The other short fiction pieces are available as follows:

          "The Last Enemy" by H Beam Piper--ASTOUNDING SF ANTHOLOGY
                  (Campbell); also the just published COMPLETE
          "The Man Who Sold the Moon" by Robert A. Heinlein--
                  THE MAN WHO SOLD THE MOON
          "Okie" by James Blish--EARTHMAN, COME HOME
          "The Gnurrs Come from the Voodvork Out" by Reginald
                  Bretnor--SF BESTIARY (Silverberg)

"Generation Gap" by Stanley Schmidt is available at (If links to more nominees become available, I will try to collect them. But the Schmidt is particularly hard to find, because it appeared in "Artemis" rather than one of the more widely circulated magazines.)

Asimov's SECOND FOUNDATION; Blish's EARTHMAN, COME HOME; Heinlein's FARMER IN THE SKY; and Heinlein's MAN WHO SOLD THE MOON are available for loan to Lucent, Avaya, or Agere employees from the Science Fiction Club library. On the other hand, unless you're in Holmdel, it's probably faster to get them from your local library. [-ecl]

Top Ten Films of the Century (Part 2):

I am in the process of listing my choice for the ten best films of the 20th century. So far we have

9) KING KONG (1933)
8) STAR WARS (1977)
Honorable Mention: THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY (1903)

I showed my list of films to a friend and he took me to task because every film was shot in the English language. That really does seem unreasonable. Do I really think that all the best films ever made have been made in the English language? Well, no, I don't. The problem is that every foreign-language film I have seen has been either with dubbing or subtitles. Neither is a very good way to see a film. One super-imposes foreign voices over the actors' own voices; the other continually pulls the viewer away from the visual component of the acting. Foreign-language films always are presented to me under a handicap. There is no way I can accurately compensate for that. I just have to call them as I see them and say it is a subjective choice. It is just one person's opinion. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

Continuing on:

7) THE KILLING FIELDS -- There have been few enough films about the Vietnam war experience and those have frequently gone off in strange directions like the fictional Russian Roulette suicide parlors of THE DEER HUNTER. Certainly the most even-handed and the most realistic film I know of about the war experience is THE KILLING FIELDS, Roland Joffe's true story set in Cambodia before and after the Americans pulled out of Southeast Asia. The central figure is Dith Pran,played by Haing Ngor. Both of them, the actor and the person he played, lived through the holocaust in Cambodia after the Americans left. Pran had worked with New York Times writer Sidney Schanberg. When Schanberg left Pran was left to face the excesses of the Khemer Rouge. The story is by turns horrifying and heart-rending. Films this powerful are very rare.

Honorable Mention: EMPIRE OF THE SUN -- Stephen Spielberg directed the film version of J. G. Ballard's semi-autobiographical novel. The film becomes an ode to a sense of wonder that protected the main character through times that in retrospect the author realizes were extremely dangerous. Ballard has always been a strange writer and one gets a feel for the forces that made him that way. Spielberg recognized an opportunity that few filmmakers ever get. He shows the audience what looks like literally thousands of people in front of his camera in the stunning scenes of the panic. This is what streets of Shanghai were as the Japanese marched on the city. Just about anywhere else in the world it would have been prohibitively expensive to film so many people.

6) PATHS OF GLORY -- This was Stanley Kubrick's first really major film and it is for me the best film for which he maintained such artistic control. This remains the most powerful anti-war film ever made. The blistering dialog was provided in part by crime fiction writer Jim Thompson. No film has ever portrayed so angrily the lot of the dog soldier in the hands of callous and ambitious commanders. Kirk Douglas made some excellent powerful films of social commentary in the 1950s but made none better. Also starring are Ralph Meeker, Aldolphe Menjou, and George Macready.

5) THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING -- In the 1800s two scoundrels from the British Raj in India decide to go north and make themselves kings of Kaffiristan. John Huston does the Kipling story in grand style. This was the last film made by Allied Artists and it broke the company. Michael Caine and Sean Connery were, it is rumored, never fully paid for being in this picture. But I know better. I think Caine and Connery will be remembered for this film when their other films--including Connery's Bond adventures--are forgotten. It is a film for anyone from age ten up and a great time for anyone. This is each actor's best role as far as I am concerned, though Caine manages to outshine Connery. The film is beautifully photographed. Huston had wanted to make a film version of this Kipling story for years, originally with Bogart and Gable. THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING is crowned with a great score by Maurice Jarre.

4) LAWRENCE OF ARABIA -- David Lean's masterpiece is a spectacular account of T. E. Lawrence's leadership of the Arab revolt against the Turks in World War I. Robert Bolt adapted Lawrence's own account, THE SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOM. Peter O'Toole treads a thin line between genius and insanity and, with Alec Guinness and Omar Sharif, he leads a cast as brilliant as the script. It has another classic score by Maurice Jarre and some terrific desert photography. One of the most remarkable things is how so many of the major characters actually resemble the people they are playing. In THE SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOM we see that Lawrence, Prince Faisal, and General Allenby looked like and the actors strongly resemble them.

This article is getting fun to write now that I am talking about films I love so much. I am sorry to say that next week the list will be complete and I will have to write about something else. [-mrl]

THE WIDOW OF ST. PIERRE (a film review by Mark R. Leeper):

Capsule: This is an ironic story, a bittersweet parable that builds to an odd paradox. Juliet Binoche and Daniel Auteuil star in a Quebecois film about the wife of an army captain who befriends a man condemned to the guillotine for murder. The film at least appears to be a nice simple film that is hard to dislike, but by the same token which has no great virtues. Rating: 6 (0 to 10), +1 (-4 to +4)

Having just recently seen Juliet Binoche in CHOCOLAT and now seeing THE WIDOW OF ST. PIERRE invites comparison of the two films. While the majority of critics seem to prefer WIDOW I would have to say that I rather preferred CHOCOLAT. WIDOW is a cold tale told in a cold and foggy climate that mirrors a cold and obscure legalistic landscape. In spite of some likable people in THE WIDOW OF ST. PIERRE, it is a bleak little story. CHOCOLAT is more positive and life affirming.

In 1850 the three-month fog that has blanketed St. Pierre off Newfoundland seems to have found its way into some of the people's heads, particularly two drunken fishermen. The two men including Ariel Neel Auguste (played by Emil Kusturica) get drunk and commit a senseless and stupid murder. They confess at their trial. In charge of seeing that Neel's death sentence is carried out is Jean (Daniel Auteuil). The court decides that Neel is to be guillotined and his partner transported, but there is no guillotine in St. Pierre and Neel gets a temporary reprieve while the authorities arrange for a guillotine to be brought to St. Pierre. Meanwhile Jean's wife Pauline (Juliette Binoche) wants to help Neel pass the time and arranges for him to have what is essentially a parole to help her with her gardening. She forms a close relationship with the condemned man and finds him to be a decent and even likable man. As time passes he wins over other people. All the while an unforgiving legal system is slowly grinding toward his execution. The story builds to a paradox as cold and bitter as St. Pierre.

An American directing the same film might have gone for the drama of making Neel resist his execution. Neel seems a little overly resigned to his fate, but not everyone is the same. Few other characters in the film seem inclined to come to terms with Neel's shockingly senseless crime.

Director Patrice Laconte has cinematographer Eduardo Serra artificially distort the picture. A distorting lens turns lines to curves, an effect that is further exaggerated by shoot scenes with a tipped camera. Laconte's films are rarely seen in this country but his MR. HIRE was a very effective film in the Hitchcockian mold. WIDOW is not as strong a film as MR. HIRE is. It does not create the same sort of suspense. It is a sensual story about attraction where sexual expression would be forbidden by duty, not unlike it was in THE REMAINS OF THE DAY. It is a story that implies more than is said.

Laconte does as well as can be expected from the story, but it is one that is better suited to the written word than to the screen. Pauline remains an enigma through most of the film when we really need to see what she is in actuality thinking. I rate THE WIDOW OF ST. PIERRE a 6 on the 0 to 10 scale and a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale. [-mrl]