Henry and Kristl met The boys from Brazil (1978)

936full-the-boys-from-brazil-poster
For movie posters there is the advantage(or disadvantage) of being able to use imagery from the movie. This one is Spanish.. I thought it was more fitting in relation to the title.

 

 

“I confess that I am prejudiced,” Kristl said as she turned to Henry.
She had to blink a few times before she refocused, because the lights had flooded the theater and temporarily blinded them. Henry had yet to fix that. He meant for the light to gradually increase in strength with the music, but instead it suddenly bathed in a blinding white light. He had however managed that the music would start softly and then rise to an acceptable level. Acceptable meant that they both could hear each other. Normally they would start talking when the credits started to roll, but on request of Kristl they had sat in silence until the black at the end of the credit roll would show.
“Why is that? Because it is an old movie?”
“No… It is because it got some of the best actors from around that time in it. Laurence Olivier, James Mason and Gregory Peck. I can not help to like movies which contain the latter two. I am a bit so-so on Olivier, but he is considered by most to be one of the best actors to date.”
“Is it insulting when I say that it’s an old men movie?”
“It depends on what you intend. Is an old man movie, something bad? It is true, that it is a remarkable movie in that way. It stars people who are well into the sixties.”
“Yeah. That fight at the end had something funny. Those two old men beating each other up. ”
“Oddly enough, I found that struggle quite unsettling. Shocked me more than fights from action movies. Maybe because I had not expect it.”
“And bloody to.”
“So.. no scantily clad ladies waving swords about.. did you like it?”
“It was okay. The story has an interesting angle. Actually you know what the bad guys are doing and how, but you don’t know why. And you follow Lieberman, Olivier that is, trying to figure it out. I bet a lot of people figured it out halfway through..I didn’t. Although it wasn’t much of a surprise in the end..”
“Only an very implausible plot. It is impossible to recreate the same conditions that shaped the people in the early twenty century, in the second half. The world was just completely different. Just to name a few important changes: you got cars, airplanes and television. This alone changed the world. Totally impossible.”
“Yeah, but fun.Besides, maybe they thought: let’s give it a try.”
“If you are a fanatic you do not even to think that. You just do it..”
“Right. And Nazis are fanatics… just look at Raiders of the Lost Ark…”
“Yes.. or you can be a scientist obsessed with a project.”
“Like Mengele.”
“A fanatic and a scientist.. a dangerous combination. They can make the world go boom just because they want to.”
“And it is fun just seeing them old actors act. Peck seems very there in every scene he is in. And his boisterous overbearing personality contrasts with the down on his luck old Olivier. Yet these nazis can not touch the vulnerable Olivier because then other people will get on to them. Publicity has its advantage,” Krisl said.
Henry nodded.
“It is a nice movie.. based on a story of Ira Levin. Yet again.”
“And there was this German guy in it.”
“You noticed?”
“Yeah.. that guy from that German movie we once saw. Der himmel uber Berlin.. and the one that played Hitler in Downfall.”
“Bruno Ganz.”
“Ah, that is his name?”
“Yes.”
“Another movie about Nazis and that Hitler guy.”
“It is an infinite source for stories,” Kristl nodded.
“Yeah.. he sure casts a long shadow over Germany.”
“It is a sad thing… It sure is.” Kristl sighed.
“We call that..FUBAR!” Henry said.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077269/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/99894.The_Boys_from_Brazil

 

The-Boys-From-Brazil
One of the many book covers.. Most of the book covers are more abstract and stylized than the movie posters.

Bookreview: Magic Bites

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Who the heck is Kate Daniels?

She is an edgy sarcastic kick-ass babe with a sharp sword named Slayer. A magic sword of course, for a real kick ass girl in a world turned to urban fantasy can’t be without one. Just like she has to be tattooed on a place you can only fantasize about and wear a leather jacket two sizes too large. It would be unseemly otherwise.

Kate is that typical loner that everybody wants, either in bed or as a hired henchman or for lunch or because she is powerful. And thus she can give them the middle-finger and scoff at the powers-that-be without incurring the penalties for doing so. Like being torn apart by the Beast Lord for gross insolence, just to name an example. Not that he isn’t an insolent asshole himself. I fear a love interest. This testosterone filled uber macho just has to play top dog, but you know, deep down inside, he is just a pussy. We are promised a lot but nothing gets delivered.

Kate is not to be had. She is too busy or too independent. Oh, and she doesn’t fit into any of the organisations that beg her services: they all suck one way or another.Loyalty goes to persons.

Get the picture yet?

Now Kate is also twenty five with -say- about a decade of experience in her particular line of work. And an accomplished magic user to. And a experienced sword wielder. And well educated -she speaks her languages-. And has knowledge of a very obscure nature. But there is an explanation for the latter two: it is her father who taught her everything. Her human father that is.

Score one for home education.

You might think that would be enough but Kate is also provided with a mysterious background. Just to entice you to cling to the series.. Who is her real father? No doubt it gets revealed at some point, say in book five of the series. And boy, you will you be dissatisfied.

Granted the book is a nice read. I like the slang Andrews uses or the learn words I never heard about such as expletive. I learned a few new things and hopefully I can use them to my advantage. But the story is in a shambles. At various points it looks like Andrews changed her mind or got stuck and then she pulls a rabbit out of the hat.

When the investigation is dead in the water Andrews lets a vampire attack Kate so she can extract information from it. There.. issue solved. And when it’s going nowhere fast again, lets have the villain turn up so the story can move on. Don’t like the romance? (there is a more virile guy entering the stage) . Right.. lets change the guy’s personality so he loses any wit he has and doesn’t match with Kate at all.

It not just these changes of heart, but it’s the inconsistencies in the story. For instance: Kate is good at her job, but has no money to spend. A feat that goes unexplained.

There is a so called crusader of the order that hunts the villain for four years who is apparently crazy, a loner, and armed to the teeth, but operates secretly, with all that weaponry? . And what is more: somehow this crusader manages to turn up at the right place at the right time two thirds into the story. Almost as an afterthought, for most of the book he never puts in an appearance. A most secretive guy indeed. There is no good explanation for it other then that Andrews wanted him to be there.

And the list goes on and on. Take the wards for instance that the villain uses to break Kate’s ward and then conveniently abandons so she can use it against him later on. Or the fact that the villain apparently lets the crusader live. Or take the scene where Kate sits sipping wine on her porch, while the evil guy and his minions approach. She waits him out and then , when he is about to attack, she jumps inside her house where she is safe from harm, due to aforementioned wards.

Ilona Andrews likes to write scenes, but loses sight on what should connect them: a good story line. This is a cool scene and that is a cool scene. Storyline? Uhm, think of that later.

I can’t resist to compare Kate Daniels to Sonja Blue. Somehow the latter seems more human than the first, even though she is a crazy vampire. Kate is just a bit too good to be believed or connect with.

Does this make it a bad book? Not at all. It is certainly entertaining. Especially when I compare it to a Sci-FI book named Time Travellers never die, which I was reading at the same time.

Magic Bites is certainly not as good as Sunglasses after dark. I would like to give a second book a try, just to see if Andrews does a better job. Unfortunately it might never happen, as my local library doesn’t have it and I rather buy books I really like.

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Henry and Kristl did not last to see 13 Assassins

“Gosh,” said Henry.

He and Kristl were both gaping at the large screen that adorned one
side of the wall and which had, mercifully, gone black. A soft sound of
static emitted from the screen. It was the only sound in the otherwise
silent room.

Kristl pressed a button on her wrist watch and glanced at the display.

“Fifteen minutes.”

“That long?” Henry gasped.

Kristl nodded.

“Maybe we can skip to the fight, you know the one that is claimed to be
the best since.. Kill Bill?”, Henry said.

“I somehow got the feeling that it will be as brutal, sadistic,
gruesome and otherwise revolting as the part of the movie that we have
seen up till now. In fact; I would not want to chance it, even if there
was a small chance that it will turn out to be otherwise.”

“Uhm?”

“You think it will?” Kristl stared at him.

“I lost you there… Yet, you know, Kill Bill. It was a great fight
scene. I assume that they mean the fight between the bride and the 99.”

“Well the suggestion is there. Assumption and all that.”

“It makes me so curious. Just to see if it is really that great.”

“The filmmakers would be happy then. They got you hooked by just
alluding to Kill Bill. You immediately draw comparisons. It creates
expectations without actually promising much and thus you want to watch
the movie.Smart advertising.”

Henry nodded.

“But just think of this. How many of the movies we have seen started
out one way and then turned into something completely different along
the way?”

“Well.. not that many.”

“So what is the likelihood that a movie starting out with one sickening
scene after the other, done in drab colors, populated with
interchangeable characters, done in an unremarkable style and devoid of
humor, will become the opposite in the end? Will become to resemble
Kill Bill?”

“Not very likely…”

“So why should I want to suffer all that just in the forlorn hope that
it might turn out to be different?”

“Eh.. because maybe it will?”

“Okay.. I can not stop you from trying, but I rather watch something
that I like to watch and I think might be watchable till the end. Let’s
pop in another movie?”

“We got Azumi and Azumi 2?,” Henry smiled at Kristl.

“More Japanese swordplay?”

“Yes. Was that not the reason we actually wanted to watch this one in
the first place: to compare them?”

“That is true.”

“Besides.. it has a girl as the lead and..”

“…you like kick-ass girls..” Kristl sighed.

“Nothing wrong with that.”

“Only that it is sexist.”

“At least it is not grisly.”

“As if the one precludes the other.”

“Uh? What do you mean?”

“There are some twisted people out there.”

“Yeah.”

“I hope they remain out there and out of my mind. I find those twisted
images and thoughts disturbing.”

“Right.”

“One more reason not to watch this movie.”

“If you think so. I wish it had a sassy fighter girl..I would have
watched it.. In a skirt that is almost to short.. Like Azumi.”

“Pervert.”

“Thanks sooo much.”

“You are welcome.”

http://www.meritcoba.com

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1436045/

 

Book review: Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Rules of CivilityRules of Civility by Amor Towles

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Think thirties – with the linger touch of the roaring twenties -, think mystery, think romance, think New York in grey with the Empire State building looming in the background, think high life, think jazz, think autumn in New York, think smoky bar with an attentive crowd silenced enough to hear the pensive tune of the crumpled jazz trombonist over the background noise.

That sort of thing.

Rules of Civility is the lingering remembrance of a time that perhaps never was but is served up tasty, steamy and hot by Amor Towles. The prologue is the bait. It is set in 1969 and ends, a handful of pages later, with a cliff hanger: “A case of riches to rags,” says Val, the husband of our protagonist about one Tinker Grey. “Not quite,” our protagonist Katey Kontent answers. Or rather, as is written,: -Not quite,. Because in my version of the tale the ” ” denoting speech is replaced by a single – at the start of a sentence. It sometimes leads to confusion when the spoken sentence continues after the comma.

Towles baits us in another way to: a man arranges his live according to the rules of civility set forth by George Washington. Rules that are that old? So how is that going to work out in a more modern setting with different morals? I was curious.
So it is fast backwards towards 1937. We are with Katey again, but now she is twenty five years old and with her roomy Eve hitting downtown New York to celebrate the closing of the year. They run into Theodore Grey; Tinker to friends.

And friends they become. It is a bit of a mystery why this man, who obviously belongs to the well-to-do, should associate himself with two women of the working class type. But hey.. he is a nice guy and they are nice gals.

And why not?

At first it looks like Katey and Tinker are the couple, but Eve intervenes and Tinker and Eve fade into the background from which an occasional update informs us and Katey of their budding romance. A party here, a vacation there. It seems all to be sunshine and roses.
In the meantime Katey has nothing to complain. Her association with Tinker gets her an association with Wallace. And later on she bumps into Dick. All three men belong in one way or another to the affluent layers of society. Katey is hot with the bon ton and, as irony will have it, she doesn’t even realize it.

Another storyline splits off at some point. Katey is a second generation Russian immigrant who works as a white-collar worker. Her task is to neatly and precisely type out contracts for third parties. She does so to the satisfaction of her employers. She even gets promoted.

But Katey has ambitions and while waiting for an interview with a possible new employer she meets an older man running a publishing company, who gives her a job. Cause that is what older men are for. A chapter later it is his referral that lands her a job by a starting high society magazine named ‘Gotham’. Gotham…. Wait? Isn’t that? It might be, but I am probably missing the point.

Katey is either one lucky broad, or a very talented one or very pretty one. Probably she is all three. If I was only told.
But what happened to the mystery? You know, the one that the book starts out with? The riches to rags thing?

We are coming to that about two thirds or so in. So after Tinker we have Wallace and after Wallace we have Dick. And we get back to Tinker again because the affair between Tinker and Eve was just make believe. In fact it was a string of disasters from the start, so Eve tells Katey.

^^

After Eve is out of the picture -she takes a train trip into the sunset and we never hear from her again- Tinker and Katey hook up.

Are you still with me?

Time for a little romance then, but we hit another bump in the road: Tinker has something with Anne. Yup.. it turns out that all the time Anne was his sugar mommy. Poor Tinker is actually only rich with someone else’s money: Anne’s money that is.

Right.

So Katey, wounded in the heart, disassociates herself from Tinker and now we finally get to that other cliffhanger. The one from the title: the rules of Civility.. Tinker lives according to them, but it is all pretense. At least that is what Katey thinks in her anger. He is a fake gentleman, but a better man than most.. According to his painter brother.

At this point in the book I lost patience.

I had a hard time believing the fortunes of Katey. She is white collar girl who gains access to social stratum where millionaires abide. Now I do not doubt that this is possible, but it is never made plausible in the case of Katey.

If Katey was portrayed as an intelligent capable beautiful woman (Katherine Hepburn springs to mind) who stands out, then it might have been understandable for her to do the socially upward mobility thing, but Katey is a nothing.

For instance: Katey exists in a void. Despite the fact that she actually lives in her hometown we never get to meet any of her friends and family. Her father is dead, her mother is missing and she has an uncle who is only mentioned in relation to the death of her father. Eve does not even count as friend as she is her roommate. Otherwise she seems to have no relations from her past at all.

In her hometown?

Is New York so big that she looses contact with the people she knew from her childhood? Does anyone have a clean break like that from the past?

But what makes her upward social move itself so implausible is her passivity. You might expect her to be of an ambitious nature with an intelligence and a drive to match, but Katey is simply not pictured that way by Towles. Instead she retreats most of the time to her apartment to read Dickens and Christie and only sallies forth to partake of parties when invited by others. And her dalliances with the men who are infatuated with her, is on their invitation and not hers.
But why her.. why not any of the other girls? Why Katey? She is a docile party animal at best and a social climber by accident.

Towles entices with a mystery and a complication but both sizzle out in the end. They are promises, but little is delivered. What is left is cute but implausible romance with a sad ending.
It is a bit too forced and unbelievable.

A pity.. it seemed to promise more.

However: Extra points for the catchy dialogues though. Towles does not hold back.

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Book review: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Catch-22 (Catch-22, #1)Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Some weeks ago I found that I sleep better when I read something, but I did not have any books of my own anymore. I used to have a collection of mostly science-fiction and fantasy books, a size able part of which was handed down to me by my father. Another part -the cheaper ones- I had collected myself. But I did them away. Some I gave to good causes, others to friends and others I threw away as they were in a bad shape. It felt odd to completely remove all books from my house, as they had been my companions for years, but I figured that most of them I could get digital and read them that way. As fate would have it: my digital reader broke down.
So I went to the local library and got me whatever book they had that looked interesting to read according to the cover blurb. At first I tried some Dutch books, both written in dutch or translated from other languages, but I have always read English books, so after that brief encounter with my native language I moved over to the English section of the library, which was good size smaller, which made it easier to choose.

One book that I found was Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I had heard of it before, but never what it was about. So I decided to read it with some trepidation as it is considered literature and I am not much of a well-read reader, being more interested in non-fiction or fringe books. However I thought that the reading of a good book would rub off on me and I would write better for it. I write, because it is my desire to tell stories and writing is one way of doing it.
Catch-22 left me somewhat confused in whether I liked it or not. I have that more often of late, in that I do not quite know what to make of a book or a movie. It is why I have two characters doing my movie reviews. I am sometimes of two minds, or even more.
Catch-22 is the story of group of American bomber crew based on an imaginary small island of the coast of Sicily at the end of world war II. The most important MacGuffin of this book is the war or better the missions the men have to fly over Italy. When I read about that I immediately knew what that meant. The air missions in World War II were notorious for their casualty rates. At the height of the war this could even mean a loss of over 10% of the crews involved for one mission only. In the wikipedia you will find that the average rate of a Bomber Command mission was 2.2 percent throughout the war. Since a normal tour of duty was considered to be twenty missions this amounted to a 44 percent casualty rate at least if we use Bomber Commands figures to illustrate the situation. In Catch-22 the amount of missions they have to fulfill is an absurd fifty at the start of the book and that number increases during the book. Facing almost certain death makes that some of the men involved go to great lengths to get out of the war, one way or another, or die trying. This is what basically drives one of the main persons: Yossarian. One way to get out of the war would be to be declared crazy. And this is where the title comes in: Catch-22 is basically an logic fallacy: you can not get out of the war on the grounds that you are crazy, because that is the desire of a sane man.
This illogic you will find throughout the book, not only in the attempts to escape the war, but for instance in the desire of an atheist assistant of a chaplain to replace that chaplain, because he thinks he can do a better job at what the chaplain is supposed to do.
Next to this Catch-22 the whole book is a bit of a jumble of scenes and situations who only seem related because the men all belonged to the same unit. It reminded me somewhat of Mash, but more absurd and more satirical, but also less focused. Mash is of course of a later date then Catch-22 and it is probably inspired by Catch-22, but I name it because it give me a neat bridge to one of my problems with the book.
Catch-22 reads as an absurd satire and when it was released that might have been a novelty. However nowadays, over sixty years after the book was first published, we have seen a lot of absurd and satirical series and movies. Mash is one, the Monty Python series another. South Park and Red Dwarf all added their satire. The consequence is that Catch-22 is not much of an eye opener as an satirical book. There are little story lines that stuck with me, such as the guy Milo who manages to set up an expansive free trade network all over Europe and the Middle East using (bomber) airplanes of both sides to trade with anyone for a profit. Free market capitalism unites people in their thirst for greed. It sounds like a thing to wish for until Milo shows his mettle by having the American bomber crew bomb their own airfield, because he has been contracted to do so. In the mean time his greatest worry is how to get rid of the complete Egyptian cotton harvest that he acquired but nobody wants to buy from him, thus threatening him with bankruptcy. One attempt is to sell it off as cotton candy by dipping it in chocolate.
Perhaps because the satire and absurd situations are not very new or exciting there are two problems that suddenly comes to the foreground: the plot and the characters. There is hardly any plot. In fact you might cut up each chapter and see it as a separate standalone episode, just like an episode of Mash. Now Mash was at least consistent in that most of the time the same cast was used, but in Catch-22 this is not the case. Different people are central to different chapters without any apparent organization or reason. But even in this there is no consistency as there is even a chapter named after a person who hardly features in that chapter.
All of this might of course be a subtle way of telling a story with a deeper meaning, but if that was the case it is lost on me. If it was to tell that war is hell and life is absurd, then it might have been a novel way back then, by using satire and ridiculous situations, but nowadays it is hard to get more than a ‘Meh’ reaction. It has been said over and over again. And personally I somehow find Monty Python’s killer joke sketch a lot more funnier then the situations in Catch-22.
The last problem I want to mention with this book are the personalities involved. I simply could not connect to any of the people. They behaved in absurd and sometimes hurtful ways and because of the haphazard plot line the focus kept shifting from one to the other.

Catch-22 is for me an ok book, but the lack of a consistent plot and someone to identify with made it hard to keep on reading. I did therefore not finish the book but stopped two thirds in.

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Book review: Julian

JulianJulian by Gore Vidal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Although it is not impossible for an imperfect person to write a perfect work, few people, perfect or imperfect, will do so and therefore it is not hard to be a critic of someone’s work. Not hard at all.
Thus I found myself writing one critical review after the other.
Granted, mostly about movies and games, which I spent much more time with and upon then with reading. This felt like a kind of downwards spiral of negativity. There is too much wrong if everything has to be right. And nothing but perfection can stop criticism. Perhaps not even that.
I wanted to stop sliding movement into the darkness and so I decided to write a positive review. Something to lighten the mood so to speak.
I selected a book from memory which I really liked and thus I selected Julian by Gore Vidal.
But why?

I am not a good reader by any means. I am too impatient to appreciate the elaborate well written paragraphs that give other people such literary thrills. I tried a few other books written by Gore Vidal, Lincoln for instance, but it did not grip me and draw me in the same way Julian did. But I liked his enjoyable and human critical article about Ayn Rand and her objectivism.
So why did I like Julian?
Perhaps it was because Julian reminded me of a friend and thus he became a person whom I got empathy with because I knew him in a way. Julian strikes me mostly as the kind of person that gives his whole life to this one passion: philosophy.
That friend I have is like that, only his love is music. To be more specific: modern classical music.
Philosophy is what Julian adores most and it is this burning passion that basically drives him throughout the book. This might sound boring, but it is not given the fact that Julian is also a close relative to the sole autocratic ruler of the Roman Empire, the Emperor Constantius II, a man controlling an fast tottering empire beset by serious social and financial problems and threats from both within and without. In fact Julian is the nephew of both those emperors and he is even closer to the throne than this might suggest, because Constantius II has massacred most of his family after he gained the throne and has no sons and daughters. This makes Julian both a danger and a salvation. A danger for he could be used to dethrone the emperor and a salvation because an emperor without a successor in increasingly in danger when he grows older.
It is not boring either because precisely at that point in time Christianity gained the favor of the emperors, first the tacit support of Constantine I (the Great) and then the more committed one of his successor Constantius.
Julian finds himself dragged into the middle of all of this, while he rather wants to spend his days as a philosopher in Athens, a city that has at that point in time lost much of it’s former splendor.
Julian comes to his love via the church. A great irony in hindsight. First he is being taught the tenets of the Christian faith by priests and bishops, but then they also introduce him to those other more worldly teachings of philosophers.
Now Julians finds himself in turmoil, for the teachings of the one do not fit well with the other. Julian is losing his religion and replacing it with an another. In fact with many others. He is returning to polytheism.
And while he is struggling with this, fate intervenes. Or rather, the emperor. Constantius II – kinslayer – lacking sons and anyone else to trust, turns towards his few remaining relatives for aid. First Julian’s brother Gallus, who is instated as a prince of the realms. But Gallus soon reveals himself to be a homicidal maniac and has to be disposed by the emperor in a sinister plot that makes you wonder about the power of an emperor that needs to use backstabbing methods to dispose of an unruly subordinate. For a moment Julian’s life hangs in the balance as he stands a great change to be one of the hapless victims of his brothers demise, but he survives his brothers death by the timely (and gentle)intervention of the Empress.
And then, secondly, in almost ironical turn of fate, Julian himself is appointed prince.
He is then sent off to head an army that has to deal with the marauding barbarians that took the opportunity of the empire’s momentary weakness to cross the Rhine and pillage Gaul. In an astonishing campaign Julian amazes friend and foe alike by restoring order and routing the invaders against all odds. He restores peace swiftly. He is competent..too much so.
And now Julian too becomes a threat..for his success is too great and threatens the emperor. At least that is what the enemies of Julian at court say.
I leave the rest for you to read but I want to mention Julian’s development in his religious ideas, because that is what he is most famous for. For Julian is the Julian the Apostate.
Julian, as emperor, eventually turns against Christianity and in doing so he treads the path of the despot. At first he thinks that not supporting Christianity is enough to make people turn away from Christianity and return to the old ways. But he soon comes to the insight that merely not supporting Christianity is not enough. So he starts to actively and openly support the old religions. But eventually he realizes that even that is not enough and..
But we will never quite know how far he would have gone, yet when you read about Antioch you know where he was going.
What fate lies in store for Julian can be found in the book. It is greatly written..Gore Vidal gives us vivid idea of this Julian and his world. Gore is a great juggler. He gives us just enough but never too much. He draws a picture and is precise where he needs to be and broad and general when that is all that is required. He does so by having the story told by two old philosophers who write letters to each other. This allows Vidal to skip steps and have them explain things so we can understand what is going on.

However I feel there should be a bit of a caution attached to his book. In hindsight I find the depiction of Julian is somewhat detached. You never get quite feel of this man. We have no idea about his sexuality for instance. We know he is married, but it is all described in a detached way. Some people seem to take it that he was gay, but from the book this is hard to tell. In fact it might be much more believable that he was just absorbed by his passion for philosophy and his desire to turn back the clock religiously speaking. I know people who seem to have completely substituted their sexual desires in that way. I once thought my friend, mentioned above, was like that, but even he has a partner, a intelligent girlfriend who somehow matches him. Take heart in that, if you feel like you are an outsider.
Women play almost no part in this book except for when it seems absolutely necessary, like when Empress Eusebia intervenes on Julian’s behalf with Constantius.
This is man’s world mostly, not of a ladies man mind you, but one of the mind where men discuss and talk and are friends with men and his world is chiefly occupied with religion. friendships and relationship with other men(but not in any sexual way) and politics. You will find no romantic developments.
Perhaps in that way it is not perfect book. But for me it is perfect enough.

(I edited it a day later, because I was writing this and it was already 2 am, but i saw the flaws.. it still has many flaws.. I wished I could write like Gore Vidal can.. oh well).

Note: amazingly Gore Vidal never ever mentions the name of Ammianus Marcellinus.. which is really strange as not doubt Ammianus was the one who must have supplied him with all the relevant information. Ammianus was a close friend to Julian, an officer and a historian of the roman empire who is the prime source of the live of Julian. Yet I cannot recall him to appear in the book or being mentioned even in an aside. But mabye I remember it wrong.

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Henry and Kristl saw the Warriors (1979) march

“So why are you smiling?”  Henry.. looked at the faintest of smiled that made Kristl’s lips curl.

“Because I find it somewhat funny that someone lectures the general public and then get’s it wrong himself. Double funny, when all he needs to do is check what he is saying against general accessible information.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, here is someone who tells how he notices that of all the reviewers at IMDB who had written a review of  The Warriors at that time,  just one other mentioned the Anabasis reference.”

“Anabasis? Uhmmmm… like that part they start the movie of with?”

“Yes.  The march of a Greek mercenary army through enemy territory. And then he mentions that it was a reference to the Spartan Xenophon, who led 10.000 Spartan mercenaries, hired by the Persian emperor Cyrus,  out of Asia Minor after a defeat.”

“Okay..”

“Which is funny as Xenophon was an Athenian and not a Spartan, albeit he was very pro Sparta and eventually settled there and fought for Sparta against Athens. So maybe this was meant in a general way. But that there were 10.000 Spartan mercenaries in service of Cyrus is wrong. They were Greek mercenaries and there might have been a body of Spartan soldiers amongst them, but there were no 10.000 Spartan mercenaries. And they were not hired by Cyrus, the persian Emperor but by the pretender Cyrus the younger. And the Greeks were not defeated, but actually won the battle, but had to flee because Cyrus was killed in that battle.”

“Okay… which brings us back to The Warriors… I hope.”

“Hmmpf.”

“So did you like the movie?”

“It was okay. Perhaps somewhat dated. The gangs are just a bit  too neat and clean for my feeling.”

“Well, other then that it was cool right? I mean the fighting is a bit bland, but at least we some nice fights and action. Which is cool.”

“The Motown music was a nice touch. “

“I like the girl, she got them in a fix, but demanding they hand over one of their jackets. Which they do not, of course.”

“Yeah, but a bit strange that they take her along all the way. A bit strange.. but at least it allowed for some development with the main guy. “

“Solid movie?”

“Maybe. There are some things that I wondered about, like how did the Riffs know where on the beach  the Warriors (and what was that other gang?) were. And the ease with which people accepted that the Warriors were to blame for the murder.. and the ease it was refuted again. Also a bit strange there were so few Warriors at the end, when they say that the Orphans with like thirty people are a small group and thus implying the Warriors have to be larger, because the latter were deemed important enough to be invited to the meeting and the Orphans not. Yet at the end confrontation you would expect that there would be a large group of Warriors available as they were back on their home turf, but there were none around.”

“Hmm yeah.”

“Also a bit odd they never bothered to phone any of their home boys. I mean they could have phoned them to be picked up by car.”

“And after all that.. you still liked it.”

“Well, yes, because it intrigued me somehow.. and I liked the music and the way they merged it with these cartoon overflows.”

“So all eye candy.” Henry said.

“Yep.” And Kristl smiled.

“I am glad even you can appreciate that.” And Henry smiled too.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080120/

Henry and Kristl felt equal after seeing G.I.Jane

“I am wrong.” Henry said.

Henry and Kristl were sitting on a couch in their garage turned Cinema. The garage was not the kind that comes with a house, with small windows and just one way to get in from the outside. Actually it was a workshop with large windows and no less than three sliding doors that was part of a petrol station. This petrol station had been abandoned some years ago. They, Henry and Kristl, could rent it for an agreeable price, because  the ground was polluted by oil and other fluids associated with cars that had spilled onto the floor and fouled the soil underneath. Unless the ground was cleaned, the place could not be used to live in nor for commercial purposes.

“We could make it into a public restroom.”  Henry had said.

“We were going to make it into a private cinema?”  Kristl answered.

“We could make some money on the side to cover our expenses.” Henry said.

“And who is going to clean this restroom?” Kristl‘s gaze made Henry think of a snake about to strike.

“We could make it automatic, perhaps. ” Henry sweated a bit and felt like he had just discovered he was walking in a minefield.

“A Henry O’Matic.”  Kristl said with a flat voice..

“Uhmm.”

“Just wrong. A fool. A romantic fool. “ Henry continued, “That is why I never get any girl friends.”

“But I am your friend?” Kristl said.

“Yes, but I don’t mean a friend friend, but a girl friend friend.”

“Ah.”

“A fool like me would do something like this.” Henry produced out of nowhere a small white round dish on which was placed a chocolate éclair with dark chocolate of such fine color that it made Kristl’s mouth water. Next to it was a fine silver spoon, that shone green in the light of the exit sign.

Kristl was staring transfixed at the chocolate éclair.

“You see.. I would have the notion that you give this to someone you like and that she, the she being you in this case, would like me for it. Just to be nice.”

“Who do you want to have killed for that?” Kristl licked her lips.

“I don’t want anything for it, you just get it for free because you are my friend. Not a girl friend kinda friend, but a friend friend.”

“Gracias.” Kristl took hold of the dish with a slightly trembling hand.

“But I am a fool really, because  women want to be tough cookies that like to be trounced so you get respect from them and you get trounced by them so they respect you.. And then the greatest praise you can get from them is: ‘suck my dick.’”

Kristl was eyeing her éclair in a way that clearly showed she had not yet made up her mind to swallow it whole or eat it in small bits. She decided on the latter.

“I  am overjoyed that US finest troops are in reality dumb gung ho halfwits that are trained to a sharp killer edge by humiliation and torture. Guess that makes a good soldier.”

“Suck my dick?” Henry said, “What does that mean?”

“Well, she wants to be man really, so that guy can suck hers or his. I am getting a bit confused.”

“I was a bit embarrassed when that one guy walks up to her and stammers ‘yuuuu aaare okaj’ to her like he was lurch from the Addams Family. I thought well, Seals, aren’t they the finest of our men? Somehow Lurch doesn’t quite fit in with that picture..”

“It actually makes me happy. Would be scary to think they were serious experienced intelligent men with a professional attitude. They could be effective and deadly..brr.  “ Kristl said and continued, “I was a bit annoyed when it was suggested it was bad that she might be  a lesbian. OH MY GOD SHE IS A LESBIAN. We have to put up with blacks, women, gays and now with lesbians. So what does that say: you can be a woman in the army but not when you are a  lesbian?.”

“Imagine being a black lesbian.”  Henry laughed. “But how do you feel about the whole movie?”

“I have to say it was an exceptionally run-of-the-mill movie. I didn’t like any of the people in it. They were an amalgam of faces in dark surroundings. Then the movie used all the cliches. The politicians who can’t be trusted and sell you out if it suits their fancy. The lone hero Jane who, having no experience whatsoever in politics, manipulates that woman, with decades of experience in politics. The cigar crunching commander with the I-don’t-like-politics attitude. The drill sergeant who is tough on her but finally grudgingly starts to respect her. The boys who first look down on her and then become her buddies.”

“Yes, but I think that was all you could do with the story.” Henry nodded,

“G. I. Jane has proven that us women can be beaten, humiliated and badly treated as any other man in the army. But isn’t this sad? How great is it that such fine intelligent people are wasting their lives on something so utterly needless as the act of waging war? There are people who can contribute something of value to the progress of humanity, but the only thing they learn is ‘how to blow shit up.. The movie is a hallmark of utter waste: now we women can be as useless as any men because we have equal access to all the branches of the army.”

“Hurrah for equality.” Henry said.

“Any more of those éclairs?”  Kristl smiled.

“A whole box of them.” Henry winked and then grinned, as he showed her the box,“Come and get them.”

After chasing Henry for five minutes around the couch, Henry gave in and handed her the box.

“All for equality.” Henry said.

“Jummy.” Said Kristl.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119173/

Henry and Kristl took Die Brucke(1959)

“The irony about bridges is that they actually connect things and that makes them interesting to capture. However, that also makes them points of conflict. Like the bridge at Remagen, A bridge too far or the bridge in Saving Private Ryan.” Henry tapped a large map on the wall of the garage turned movie theater. He was wearing a bucket for a helmet.

“You might call this one the final  bridge.” Kristl said. She had refused to wear any silly items, but then she hardly needed to as she was already dressed in army gear with her combat boots and leather jacket.

“So how is it to have things reversed?”  Said Henry.

“You mean that this movie does not center around Americans?” Kristl said.

“US as baddies?”

“I got the feeling those Americans were not actually portrayed as bad. More as opponents really. They were a bit miffed that they were shot at and shooting at kids.”

“Nazi kids.”

“Uhm…they were more like regulars. Not nazi’s.”

“Ah.”

“And they kicked ass. Almost wiped out a whole unit of Americans that hightailed it outta there.”  Kristl said gleefully.

“Hmm.. They acted kind of silly. Driving headlong at a bridge. I think they wouldn’t have done that in reality.”

“You mean.. it might not be very historical?”  Kristl said. Her smile was just a tad too wide.,”Like say… an unit of ss armored vehicles frontally assaulting dug in US airborne troops in a village without any infantry support?”

“I know what you are getting at.” Henry said, “So it was fun.”

“Yeah. It was fun having things reversed.”

“So that is what the movie is all about for you?”

“Not all. The movie is another one that shows the futility of war. Kids play at soldiers defending a bridge that did not need defending at the end of the war. I think it was well acted. It breathes the revulsion of war that Germany in those days felt. Pointless killing in a pointless act of war.”

“The actual fight didn’t really last long.”

“No. It was a small part of the movie.”

“I must say I had a hard time connecting to the kids though. With them speaking German and all.”

“I had some problems with that too. Not because of them talking German, but it felt like I was watching a story from a distance. I think it is because the movie is over fifty years old and we have seen many  with the same message. But we should not forget that this was one of the first. We often forget that.”

“Maybe. For action lovers not the best of movies I think.”

“No. This is not Rambo.. or the Bridge at Remagen. It is slower and less violent overall. Still very watchable.”

“For a German…”

“I am not German..” Kristl said.

“I never said that you were. So make it: for an European.”

“Sounds like that is something bad.”

“It is not American.”

“Well, next time you get invaded, you get to make a movie about the futile defense of a bridge of your choice.”

“That is never going to happen. Who is going to invade us.. Let alone succeed?”

“North-Korea?”

“Ha.”

“Or aliens.”

“Double Ha.”

“Or zombies.”

“Hmm. Yeah. They might stand a chance. American zombies of course.”

“Your patriotism is commendable.”

“Yeah.”  And Henry sang the first couplet of the star spangled banner.

And Kristl thought that no power,   temporal or spiritual, on earth or beyond, could face off Henry’s singing prowess and survive.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052654/

Henry and Kristl survived Resident Evil: Apocalypse

“You might say bigger, but can we say better? What do you think?”  Henry turned to Kristl.

 

Kristl was  hanging slack jawed in the corner of the couch. She was wearing grungy  jeans, tank top, sleeveless jacket everything in dark grey, black and white colors. Her Jacket was adorned with button pins of music bands from the eighties:The Cure , Violent Femmes, New wave, London Calling,Beastie Boys. He felt awkward because under the angle she was lying he noticed the shape of a breast. .

“Hey, wake up!” He shook Kristl’s arm.

“Hmmm?”

“So?”

“What?”

“Resident Evil. Apocalypse? You know the movie we have been watching?”

“Oh yes”,  Kristl veered up, “I bet a lot of people will make funny jokes with that.. Like Apocalypse for the senses. Or Apocalypse for the brain.”

“So you didn’t like it?”

“It tries very hard to be unliked. As much as it tries to be liked.”

“I thought the more bangs and babes worked well. That female cop was a cool and hot chick. Also I liked the supporting cast more. That soldier Carlos with his russian sidekick. They seemed to have a little bit more personality. Albeit that black american was too much cast as the comic relief. ”

“But the whole movie is ramshackle in it’s consistency. The plot is a major problem.  They know about the t-virus, but they open the hive with a few armed guards. The SUV gets hit by a truck without any explanation, so the kid is stuck in the city. It was just a weird accident. The dead in the graveyard animate. How? And why exactly at that moment they are there? The whole church scene. The zombie dogs in the school. The wall around the city.

The worst is the epilogue. Umbrella detonates a nuclear missile above the city and passes that off as a nuclear meltdown. You can’t pass one off for the other because the explosion pattern is completely different.  And if they want people to believe it was a nuclear meltdown of a power plant, there had to be one there, so why did they not blow that one up?”

“Basically. the movie is sequence of action scenes. Personally I liked those and that is why people should watch them,but it simply lacks everything that makes the matrix good: a well developed plot and characters you care about. Even underworld has more likeable characters and a better plot.”

“Yeah, the plot and the acting was just put in as an afterthought. A shame really as the games actually seemed to have much more consistency. At least from what I read.” Kristl said, “Maybe they should just stick to those plot lines instead of making their own.”

“You know. That Jill Valentine. I liked her better than Alice. Not because she is prettier but because she is a human that can be hurt unlike Alice. The thing is I liked everyone more: Carlos L. J. the news person.  They are all humans and all lose people and all can be hurt. Unlike Alice.”

“Personally I have had it with all the cool chicks that have hardly any personality. This includes Jill Valentine. What person walks into a police station and starts blowing away people like that.. People might have thought that was cool. I thought it was cringeworthy.

And I am tired of the same old tricks: like whenever someone approaches a person from behind that person is ALWAYS a monster that turns around suddenly and lunges at you. And always when they kill one monster after a desperate struggle and you think it is over, the next one or two appear.” Kristl said.

“So you didn’t  like Alice?”

“Nope. I didn’t care for her one bit and I was baffled those people, Carlos, Jill and L. J. came to save her. I could not believe why they would do so. And even more: how come that umbrella organisation that is so highly effective in covering up the zombie outbreak, is unable to stop three people that are wanted from taking Alice away. And don’t say Umbrella wanted that, because this is only shown when they leave. And why? No explanation given.”

“Curiously.  I somehow feel you are right. If she had a little bit more personality and was less the super being that is cool. Then maybe, yeah.“

“That is probably the best way to describe the movie.”

“Huh?”

“Maybe, yeah.”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0318627/