Today’s entry to make you smile runs a slight risk of delving too deep into angst, but hopefully it will be a gift that keeps on giving.
How many of you remember Garfield? For me, that fat ol’ cat with the penchant for lasagne was a staple of my comics diet as a youngster. I’ve not revisited the character at all in the way I have with Calvin & Hobbes or the Peanuts gang…but recently I’ve discovered that the comic is actually at its best when Garfield isn’t in it.
Several years ago Dan Walsh created this webcomic simply by curating the old Garfield strips by Jim Davis, and editing out the title character. What we are left with is hilarious and harrowing, as Jon Arbuckle (Garfield’s owner) goes through his day-to-day without a communicative feline to bounce his ideas off. He faces existence alone, and is revealed to be more than a little batty from the isolation.
We’ve reached the end of the first week in which Esoteric Fish have attempted to lighten your mood a little. It was a little rough – we’ve lost some wonderful creators in these past weeks, along with the devastation caused by our collective microbial adversary.
But as we sign off for the weekend, we leave you all with our best wishes, our prayers for health and safety, and above all, a strategy that could save us all.
At least…maybe it could have saved this franchise.
So I’ve referenced the fact that, to me at least, Max Von Sydow was an actor who was for the longest time one of those faces that very recognisable, but just never registered in the way that Harrison Ford or Tom Cruise or Sam Jones did. Whether or not this is shared by anyone else, I long had the impression that Uncle Max was no simply a “face”, but he had always been and “old face”. I recognised him as an old man (or at least older) in the films that I remembered him from – and this is a point we’ll come back to in a later post.
The truth is, however, that he was not perpetually “70 or so” – he was once a young, strong man with a young, strong face, and the first time I realized this was when I finally saw
Oh Son…that is the cover from a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book.
Director: Mike Hodges
Writers: Lorenzo Semple, Jr. & Michael Allin
Starring: Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Ornella Muti, Timothy Dalton, Mariangela Melato, Brian Blessed, Peter Wyngarde, Topol and…Max Von Sydow.
Based on characters created by Alex Raymond.
If you are unfamiliar with the 1980 film that defines “campy schlock”, you are most certainly familiar with it’s magnificent theme song by the legendary band Queen. It’s the one that goes *bu bu bu bu bu bom bom bom bom Bom Bom BOm BOm BOM BOM BOM* FLASH…AA-AAAAAAA, Saviour of the Un-I-Verse!”
I lack the necessary words to convey just how important it is that you go out and watch this movie immediately. Whatever the stories behind the making of this beautiful mess, watching it has felt a little like watching a massive prank being pulled on one man by his college-mates, plus a few professors. So many British thespians (plus Topol!) appear in this flick, and every one of them has stepped straight out of the River of Ham, and are having a marvelous time. The only guy “playing it straight” is the films lead, Sam J. Jones as Flash Gordon. The result is hilariously entertaining, as the titular hero rockets to the planet Mongo to prevent galactic tyrant Ming the Merciless (Sydow) from destroying the earth.
Sydow effortlessly dominates this movie, establishing as magnetic presence that fixes the audience to the screen every time he shows up. I mentioned that in his great career, Sydow showed up in a fair bit of sci-fi or horror schlock, but in most roles he’s playing with sense of serious grace, raising the standard of the film he’s in. Flash Gordon is that rare occasion when he gets in on the over-the-top glory with his performance.
Flash Gordon has more than earned its place in the cult classic vault, and Max Von Sydow is a big part of that.
For the longest time, Max Von Sydow was one of those perennial “faces” in film. You know, the ones who show up and make you go “Hey! That’s the guy from…” I’m speaking of my personal experience of course. As such, he was never someone that I was particularly looking for when I picked out movies at the video store, or took recommendations from one of my High School French teachers. For the life of me I can’t remember how we got into something of a contest – recommending movies to each other that had not seen theatrical release in Australia. The goal was to go obscure, but still give a hook to convince one another that the movie was actually worth watching. Continue reading →
Alongside Al, who built Esoteric Fish in the first place, and everyone who has contributed over the years, I have worked hard to keep the tone of this place fun. Most definitely esoteric, but always fun. When we have looked critically upon a film, show or game I like to think we have never indulged in piling abuse for the sake of entertainment. Obviously the luxury we have had on this platform is that – beholden to none but ourselves – we get to talk about literally anything we want. In light of all of that, what follows will likely seem an odd contribution, but it is a subject that hits very close to home for me. I have recently been challenged about whether my silence on certain controversial topics is wisely not becoming involved in pointless debate, or complacency that belies my personal convictions. This may be a little raw folks, but I pray it will make you reflect a little. Continue reading →
Although I rarely indulge these days, in the not-too-distant past I was something of an avid gamer. I suppose for most of my generation that’s more to be expected than not, but I should be honest and upfront about the fact that, while enthusiastic, I was never very good. ‘Good’ is probably a subjective term anyway, but certainly from the point of view that I rarely, if ever, actually played a game through to completion. Notable exceptions include Mass Effect (1 & 2), Uncharted 2: Drake’s Fortune andDiablo. Just the original mind you, even though Diablo 2 probably stands as my favourite game of all time, and certainly holds the record for most number of hours clocked. Continue reading →
Now, I’m a reasonable guy; Birthmoviesdeath is my go-to for movie stuff, and they have affirmed their appreciation for the glory of the cinematic wonder that is Point Break; and I always take several grains of salt with pieces such as this. But as I got further and further into this article…son, my blood began to boil. Continue reading →
Underwater movies have never been something I dived into over the years; it’s been something I’ve grown to appreciate, slowly and surely so I don’t get the bends.
Underwater is just dark and some weird looking fish (not Esoteric Fish). Then I started reading interviews with James Cameron and I began to appreciate the technology and the science that it takes to get down there. I did see James Cameron’s exhibition at the Maritime Museum and seeing his diagrams and photos of sending a mouse underwater in a diving bell gave me that sense of new horizons.
I watched the documentary on James Cameron’s dive into the Mariana Trench. Just the tension around the planning table where James straight talks the Australian Engineering firm. He tells them that if something goes wrong on the diving sub, he is dead. End of story and the end of a lot of stories.
To see that ship go out and dive down deep into the ocean is an amazing thing to achieve and whilst I don’t want to go down deep myself it gave me an appreciation of the ocean and the environment there.
Last summer I was given the gift of my first snorkelling kit, I went to a beach of Sydney, put my flippers on and double backed into the water. I swam and avoided some rocks, went through the seaweed and saw my first fish. Just swimming around and seemingly oblivious that I was there.
I saw some more fish, this time with colours and stripes and different looks and I felt amazed to see this going on in my hometown.
The underwater world is amazing, there is life there that is inspiring, if you can explore it.
James Cameron’s stunning documentaries – Ghosts of the Abyss, Aliens of the Deep and Deepsea Challenge are well worth a look for the extraordinary passion for the ocean on display.