Posted by Jay Firestone
Anyone mildly familiar with “Star Trek” may recall that the character Spock—half-alien, half-human—struggles to purge his emotions and embrace the logical, detached disposition of the Vulcan people.
What would the logical, yet emotionally torn Spock have to say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? (Aside from maybe ... “Beam me up, Bibi.”)
In an open letter, posted on the Web site of Americans for Peace Now, actor Leonard Nimoy, who played “Spock” in the original television series and films, has released a statement voicing his support for an Israeli-Palestinian two-state solution.
In the letter, Nimoy calls for “a secure, democratic Israel as the Jewish State alongside an independent Palestinian state.”
Drawing a parallel between a Star Trek episode entitled “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Nimoy writes:
Two men, half black, half white, are the last survivors of their peoples who have been at war with each other for thousands of years, yet the Enterprise crew could find no differences separating these two raging men.
But the antagonists were keenly aware of their differences—one man was white on the right side, the other was black on the right side. And they were prepared to battle to the death to defend the memory of their people who died from the atrocities committed by the other.
The story was a myth, of course, and by invoking it I don’t mean to belittle the very real issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians. What I do mean to suggest is that the time for recriminations is over. Assigning blame over all other priorities is self-defeating. Myth can be a snare. The two sides need our help to evade the snare and search for a way to compromise.
Interesting point, though I’m surprised Nimoy didn’t reference his own character when drawing this parallel, since the argument between logic and emotion is a consistent theme in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
While we can’t really know for sure whether or not Spock would have supported a two-state solution, Nimoy hints that Vulcan logic plays a clear role. In the letter, he signs off with, “Dare I say it? It’s the logical thing to do.”
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March 11, 2011 | 5:21 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
If you like your Marine recruiting films dressed up with sci-fi action and lots of ’splosions, you’re going to love “Battle: Los Angeles.”
Don’t get me wrong—“Battle: LA” is a guilty geek pleasure that will have military aficionados either salivating or jotting down inaccuracies to blog about later. However, its genius marketing campaign belies the picture’s stark, simplistic script.
A cross between “Black Hawk Down” and “War of the World,” “Battle: LA” follows a Marine battalion engaging in urban warfare with evil ETs during a mission to rescue trapped civilians. Although director Jonathan Liebesman attempts an alien-invasion tale with a global scale, the focus on the survival of one unit – the Second Battalion, Fifth Marine – dooms the picture to a narrative scope more befitting a first-person shooter, like “Call of Duty.”
Without as much as a “We come in peace” (a la “Mars Attacks!”) the squid-like invaders in body armor begin a genocidal campaign to rid the planet of its pesky humans (why? to steal our water, of course). Cities around the globe are falling to the aliens, and the 2/5 out of Camp Pendleton is deployed to Los Angeles, pulling just-retired Staff Sgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) along for the ride. This doesn’t sit well with the young troops, who blame Nantz for the deaths of servicemen during an Iraq deployment. We get minimal backstories on the 2/5 Marines – one is expecting a baby, another is getting married, one had a brother killed under Nantz’s command – before the body count begins. Along the way, the dwindling platoon picks up civilian survivors (Bridget Moynahan, Michael Peña), straggler Marines and Air Force Tech Sgt. Elena Santos (Michelle Rodriguez), whose information could help provide Earth’s forces with the edge it needs to repel the invaders.
Marine camaraderie and the technical aspects of warfare holds “Battle: LA” together. But this leaves viewers with a jerky, bleak combat film without a larger message. (What happened to epic film the trailers promised?!)
After prolonged claustrophobic skirmishes – including a nod to Ripley taking command of the armored personnel carrier in “Aliens” – the cliché ending comes a little too fast, too furious.
And while the film could have used some “Independence Day” levity (apart from the unintentional humor), this macho apocalyptic ride does manage to pack in more than enough action for fanboys weaned on Michael Bay and XBox to make up for some of its deficits.
March 8, 2011 | 11:46 am
Posted by Adam Wills
Authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman are in the early stages of developing a show for HBO that revolves around a motley crew of con men and magicians who use their skills at deception to battle Hitler during World War II, according to Variety.
Dubbed “Hobgoblin,” the project might seem a little far-fetched, but Blastr reports that the concept is based on historical fact:
Jasper Maskelyne was one such prestidigitator, who used sleight-of-hand techniques and stagecraft to aid the Allied forces by, among other things, disguising tanks inside plywood-and-canvas constructs.
The idea seems like something Joe Kavalier and Sam Clay might have dreamed up. The fictional comic book creators featured in Chabon’s Pulitzer-winning 2000 novel “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,” developed a Golden Age character called The Escapist, which Chabon later spun off into a real-world comic book series for Dark Horse in 2004.
And considering its upcoming adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy novel “Game of Thrones” and its continuing support of “True Blood,” HBO seems to be developing a taste for fanboy projects. Here’s to hoping this trend continues.
February 25, 2011 | 12:42 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
After Charlie Sheen’s rants against Chuck Lorre yesterday—referring to him as Chaim Levine (more on this later), calling him a “clown” and a “stupid, stupid little man and a p**sy punk”—I was thinking to myself: “Who is Sheen talking about?!”
Following a sit-down with Chuck Lorre at Comic-Con in 2009, the vibe I got from him was one of a menschy, thoughtful, self-critical guy. And if you read the vanity cards at the end of “Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men,” the portrait that emerges is one of a middle-aged Jewish comedy writer struggling with work, life and dating. And until Sheen’s meltdown, Lorre believed that no one was reading them—save for the die-hard fans who record the shows and freeze-frame at the exact second the card is visible (they’re also collected online at chucklorre.com, stretching back to his “Dharma & Greg” days).
Starting this week, Lorre is taking a break from the vanity cards. Last night’s “Big Bang Theory” card read: “Censored!” (you can read the card that should have run here).
The tabloids have made a lot of Lorre’s cards recently, because he’s been using them to vent his frustrations over Sheen. In the Feb. 14 “Two and a Half Men” vanity card, he kvetched about his efforts to live a long, healthy life: “I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I don’t have crazy, reckless sex with strangers. If Charlie Sheen outlives me, I’m gonna be really pissed.” For the Feb. 17 “Big Bang Theory” card, he wrote: “Strong Nielson ratings guarantee employment, not self-esteem. Actors can smoke cigarettes because they’re immune to carcinogens.”
A month earlier he wrote: “Do not attempt to replicate what you saw in tonight’s episode of Two and a Half Men. Despite the seeming lack of serious consequences and regardless of the hilarity that ensued, this is extremely dangerous behavior and could result in injury or death. Please keep in mind that we employ a highly-paid Hollywood professional who has years of experience with putting his life at risk. And sadly no, I’m not talking about our stunt man.”
When radio host Alex Jones brought up the vanity cards, Sheen said it was “one of the few compliments that clown has paid me in the last decade.”
It wouldn’t be shocking to learn that Sheen got “Chaim Levine” from reading the Feb. 7 “Two and a Half Men” vanity card, which Lorre wrote from Israel—apparently his first trip to the Holy Land. Like many first-timers, Lorre glowed about being surrounded by other Jews, but in his own geeky way: “I didn’t realize how much my double helix yearned to be around similar strands.”
Giving us insight into his Jewish identity, Lorre continues: “Why have I spent a lifetime moving away from that group? How did Chaim become Chuck? How did Levine become Lorre? The only answer I come up with is this: When I was a little boy in Hebrew school the rabbis regularly told us that we were the chosen people. That we were God’s favorites. Which is all well and good except that I went home, observed my family and, despite my tender age, thought to myself, “bull$#*!.”
Also, look no further than “Big Bang Theory’s” Howard Wolowitz to find out what kind of Jew Lorre is. Lorre told GeekHeeb that Wolowitz — the shiksa-dating, assimilated Jew — is a blend of his own Jewish background as well as that of the actor who plays him, Simon Helberg.
Unlike the broad jabs at Texas through Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) and India via Rajesh “Raj” Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar), the Jewish humor in “Big Bang Theory” is almost always familial. Take Wolowitz’s off-screen mother, played by Carol Ann Susi, whose main form of communication is yelling:
“Things are loud in a Jewish household. Conversations are up here,” Lorre said, lifting his hand above his head, “they’re pitched pretty high. That’s just the way we talk. Other people go, ‘Why are you yelling?’ I’m not yelling; I’m making a point! That was the fun of creating that off-camera mother. That’s how communication happens in some households, and it’s normal in that house.”
When asked when he writes the vanity cards, he told GeekHeeb, “On the bus to school.” IOW, at the last minute.
Spend some time, read through his cards. That’s where you’ll get to know Chuck Lorre.
(Wendy J. Madnick contributed to this article.)
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February 2, 2011 | 5:45 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Call it X-Files, Jerusalem style.
A pair of videos showing a glowing white orb hovering over Jerusalem’s Temple Mount have people scratching their heads.
The videos, purportedly shot around 1 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28, but from different angles, were posted to YouTube this week, In both videos, the ball of light hangs above the Temple Mount for a while and then rockets away suddenly.
Do you believe?
January 11, 2011 | 5:11 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Remember those gloom-and-doom predictions about the “007” franchise? MGM announced today that Daniel Craig is set to return as Bond ... James Bond.
Production on the as-yet-titled 23rd Bond film begins later this year, and has a Nov. 9, 2012 release date. Sam Mendes will direct a script by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan. No word yet on plot details or a villain, but the film will pick up after “Quantum of Solace.”
Judi Dench will reprise her role as M.
The reason for the 007 delay is this: [Barbara] Broccoli and [Michael G.] Wilson [of EON Productions] had been in pre-production on Bond #23 for release in 2011 but then it took almost a year for MGM’s future to sort itself out what with the failed auction sale of the studio, then the pre-packaged bankruptcy getting approval, and eventually Spyglass taking over studio filmmaking.
Meanwhile star Daniel Craig filled in the time with various film commitments which he had to finish. The actor began work on the Hollywood remake of the Swedish original The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo as soon as he completed shooting Cowboys and Aliens in a nifty bit of schedule coordination between two studios and James Bond rights holders Broccoli and Wilson.
Mendes at first was brought on as a “consultant” because of the delays, and is now officially the director.
December 17, 2010 | 5:10 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Seth Rogen as a baked, reggae-loving extra-terrestrial? Shock, I know.
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz”) star as two British comic book geeks who discover the titular wayward alien, Paul (Rogen), on a road trip through America. Bagel anal probe and spaceman balls jokes ensue in a new international trailer that gives us a longer look at the film, which stars Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and Sigourney Weaver. “Paul” lands on March 18 in the U.S. (Feb. 18 in the U.K.).
November 30, 2010 | 12:29 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Irvin Kershner, best known to fandom as director of the “Star Wars” sequel “The Empire Strikes Back” as well as “Robocop 2” and episodes of the television series “seaQuest DSV,” has died after a three-year battle with lung cancer. He was 87.
“The world has lost a great director and one of the most genuine people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing,” director George Lucas said in a statement, referring to Kershner as a “mentor.” “[He] was a true gentleman in every sense of the word.”
A Philadelphia native, Kerschner studied at the Settlement Music School before attending the Tyler School of Fine Arts at Temple University and the Art Center College of Design here in Los Angeles. He began his film career at USC’s School of Cinema teaching photography and taking cinema courses.
After working on documentary projects, Kerschner moved into feature films, including the critically acclaimed made-for-TV movie “Raid on Entebbe.”
Lucas attended Kershner’s lectures at USC in the 1960s, according to Hollywood Reporter, and said that following 1977’s Star Wars, he “knew one thing for sure: I didn’t want to direct the second movie myself. I needed someone I could trust, someone I really admired and whose work had maturity and humor. That was Kersh all over.
“I didn’t want Empire to turn into just another sequel, another episode in a series of space adventures. I was trying to build something, and I knew Kersh was the guy to help me do it. He brought so much to the table. I am truly grateful to him.”
Kershner, who focused on character development, was reluctant to direct “Empire.” When Lucas asked him to work on the project, Kershner initially refused, citing his belief that a sequel would never meet the quality of the original. However, Kershner’s agent demanded he take the job.
“When I finally accepted the assignment, I knew that it was going to be a dark film, with more depth to the characters than in the first film,” he said. “It took a few years for the critics to catch up with the film and to see it as a fairy tale rather than a comic book,” Kershner told Vanity Fair.
Kershner said he had only one sharp disagreement with Lucas during the filming of “Empire,” Haaretz reports. “The script originally called for the heroine, Princess Leia, to tell space pilot Han Solo I love you and for him to reply I love you, too.”
“I shot the line and it just didn’t seem right for the character of Han Solo,” Kershner said.
Instead, actor Harrison Ford improvised the reply: I know.
While Kershner acknowledged his Jewish heritage, he considered himself an internationalist.
“I’ve been a student of Christianity. I’ve been interested in the historical basis of the Muslim religion. I studied Buddhism. I don’t think of myself as a Jew except by birth, as I don’t follow the customs. I’m a Jew because other people consider me so. My pride is in being international.”