Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
11/25/16 -- Vol. 35, No. 22, Whole Number 1938

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
                Lectures, etc. (NJ)
        My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in December (comments
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        DENIAL (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        The (Negative) Power of Technology (letter of comment
                by Jim Susky)
        This Week's Reading (GOOD-BYE TO ALL THAT and Presidents
                as authors) (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
Lectures, etc. (NJ)

December 8: ENDER'S GAME (2013) and ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott
        Card, Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM
December 22: COPENHAGEN by Michael Frayn, Old Bridge (NJ) Public
        Library, 7PM
January 12: 12:01PM (1990) and 12:01 (1993) and 12:01 (short story
        by Richard Lupoff, F&SF December 1973), Middletown (NJ)
        Public Library, 5:30PM
January 26: "The Spectre General" by Theodore R. Cogswell and "The
        Witches of Karres" by James H. Schmitz (both in SCIENCE
        FICTION HALL OF FAME 2B), Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library,
February 9: GROUNDHOG DAY (1993) and "Doubled and Redoubled" (short
        story by Malcolm Jameson), Middletown (NJ) Public Library,

Northern New Jersey events are listed at:


TOPIC: My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in December (comments by
Mark R. Leeper)

Well, it is almost December and time for me to pick what I think
are the films to watch for this month.  I absolutely promise you
that I will not choose *any* film that is a reworking of Dickens'
"A Christmas Carol."  Frankly I have no idea how people can see the
same story over and over and over.  I will carefully avoid any
films that might show signs of Christmas Spirit.  There are enough
films that will be doing that already.  All films will be seen on
Eastern Standard Time.  And none will have anybody named Ebenezer.

Let's lead off with J. Lee Thompson's CAPE FEAR (1962).  This is
not a horror film, but it might as well be.  It is as intense as a
stalker film.  But this film has a real stalker/killer you might
see on the street.  Max Cady is a pretty scary character without
even without the film making him supernatural.  Robert Mitchum's
Cady will be hard to forget after the film is over.  Cady spent
eight years in prison for rape.  For eight years he stewed and
boiled with hatred for the prosecutor who put him there, Sam
Bowden, played by Gregory Peck.  Now Cady is out of prison and the
first thing on his mind is how he is going to make Bowden and
Bowden's family pay for those eight years behind bars.  That might
sound like a familiar plot, but director J. Lee Thompson puts a
razor-sharp edge on the film.

To see Mitchum and Peck on the screen with a director like Thompson
is a joy.  You can see how scary a human can be even without hockey
masks or machetes.  The score is provided by Bernard Herrmann, and
it fits the film so well and is so much a part of the tension that
when Martin Scorsese remade CAPE FEAR in 1991 he simply had Elmer
Bernstein use Hermann's original score.  [Sunday, December 4 2:15
PM or Monday, December 19, 6:00 PM]

I have seen a lot of movies over the years so it has been rare that
Turner can pull out of the hat one that is new to me.  MAKE WAY FOR
TOMORROW is a film I had never heard of when it played on TCM.  The
title immediately sounded positive and up-beat.  Boy did I get that
one wrong.  The situation of the film is as poignantly sad as that
of BICYCLE THIEF or UMBERTO D.  And like those two films the
situation has to do with money problems.  The two main character,
husband and wife, have had a long and very affectionate life
together.  Then they lost their home in the Great Depression.  The
two have to live with their children.  They cannot both go with the
same child.  None of the children can afford to keep both their
parents.  This means the old couple must separate.  They will be
living too far apart even to see each other again.  They probably
will never get together again.  But they will have one last day to
be together again and remember the past.  They have a sort of a
date, but it is one that comes at the end of their relationship
rather than the beginning.

MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW is a powerful film without being
manipulative.  It has humor mixed with its drama, but it is in its
own way one of the most powerful films ever made.  Director Leo
McCarey considered this his best work, beating out classics like
ST. MARY'S.  [Tuesday, December 6, 8:00 PM]

Now what is there to pick for the best film of the month?  The
choice seems to be between CASABLANCA [Tuesday, December 27 4:15
PM] or ROBIN AND MARIAN [Saturday, December 31, 6:30 AM].  The
latter seems a little more rare.  I will pick ROBIN AND MARIAN with
Sean Connery, Robert Shaw, and Audrey Hepburn, a film that takes a
realistic look at the world of the story and which suggests what
might have happened to Robin Hood after the legend is over.  Good
film.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: DENIAL (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: Jewish-American Deborah Lipstadt accuses Holocaust denier
David Irving of lying about the Holocaust and is sued for libel.
In spite of some very good acting the film too often fails to
engage the viewer as being as emotionally gripping as its subject
deserves. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

DENIAL is a docudrama of an actual case of libel.  The film tells
the story of Holocaust denier David Irving's (Irving played by
Timothy Spall) libel case against a Jewish-American, Deborah
Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz).  Irving had in his books denied that there
was any murdering of Jews at Auschwitz.  Lipstadt publicly called
Irving a liar and in return he sued her in a London court.
Lipstadt has a team of lawyers led by the estimable Richard Rampton
played by the equally estimable Tom Wilkinson.  Spall this leaner
and more commanding than he has been in previous roles.

Mick Jackson directs David Hare's adaptation of the
autobiographical account by Deborah Lipstadt.  To me the film
ironically has the problem of not being manipulative enough.
Accounts of vicious inhumanity that really took place really should
incense the viewer.  But DENIAL does not involve itself in the wide
range of crimes against inhumanity that occurred at Auschwitz.  It
concerns itself only with the gas chamber murders.  They were bad
enough, but the film never creates for the viewer the wide range of
atrocities and somehow this robs it of some of its power.  This
film is never as riveting as the similar film QB-VII.  DENIAL was
released during the Clinton-Trump campaign and can undoubtedly be
seen as a commentary on that Presidential campaign.  Of course it
is one of several films that seem to have that interpretation.

It would have been an obvious choice for Weisz to play Lipstadt as
faultless, particularly since the film is adapted from Lipstadt's
DENIER."  Instead she is played as a little foolish and naive about
the British legal system.  She seems to feel that as long as she
has right on her side she need not worry about points of strategy.
This creates a double conflict for her.  She is opposing Irving, of
course, but she also wants to speak and have Holocaust survivors
come and bear witness to the atrocities. This gives the film an
opportunity to tell the viewer about the differences between the
British legal system, which does not guarantee freedom of speech,
and the system she was used to in the United States.  At times the
discourse is even philosophical.  Much of the case rests on the
question of whether a falsehood the speaker truly believes really
is a lie or not.

Overall the film is just a tad dry while covering such poignant
issues.  I rate DENIAL a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: The (Negative) Power of Technology (letter of comment by Jim

In response to Mark's comments on the negative power of technology
in the 11/18/16 issue of the MT VOID, Jim Susky writes:

I read today's article "The (Negative) Power of Technology" with
some interest--only to find it wasn't (much) about technology and
its mis-application but about Venezuela and its petroleum policy
and attendant disastrous consequences.

My political biases color my perception of Venezuela's problems as
institutional.  I think you understated the case as being chiefly
related to oil.  The big issue was implied when you wrote:

"...the only thing that Venezuela really knew how to sell was

Shorten this to "Venezuela Sells Oil" and you have a fundamentally
accurate statement. Stand that next to these fundamentally
incorrect statements:

"Alaska Sells Oil"
"Texas Sells Oil"
"America Sells Oil"

Alaska, Texas, and America do not "sell oil", but properly
license/lease drilling privileges, tax oil production, and regulate

But that is only a contributing cause to the Venezuelan disaster--
by far the greater reason is that power is concentrated in their
oligopoly which has no respect for property rights.

In most of the developed world, governments do not sell goods--
rather, by adopting the American Model, which has roots in the pre-
Revolution British model and codified in 1789 (and refined ever
since), those governments foster individual enterprise.

Respect of property rights was so much part of the American
political culture that such was not explicitly mentioned in our
Constitution (but perhaps was in the Common Law) except for
protections codified in the 5th Amendment--and only in part under
the so-called "takings clause".

You touched on the greater driver of Venezuela's woes when you

"(Venezuela's government implemented) bad economic policy, (and
failed) to look ahead"

Then you offered a metaphor, American Oil Companies as Elephants
who absently (unintentionally) crush Venezuela as Pygmy at the
watering hole.

Better would be Chavez and his cronies as the Elephant who insist
that the Pygmys (citizens) must only drink right next to the
elephant or go thirsty.

(As you pointed out--some of those Pygmys have fled to drink in
Colombia and Brazil.)

You and MT VOID readers may find a collection of articles about
Venezuela to be far more interesting and far better-researched than
my own poor efforts. Look here:


Mark responds:

The point was not that Venezuela sells oil but Venezuela sells
little but oil.  Their whole economy was based on a substance whose
value is decreasing.  The reason is probably poor economic policy
of depending on a single product.  To add another metaphor, they
had all their eggs in one basket.  They did not realize how
vulnerable their economy was until it went seriously bad.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

GOOD-BYE TO ALL THAT by Robert Graves (ISBN 978-0-385-09330-9) is
subtitled "An Autobiography", but given that he wrote it at the age
of 33, before most of his career, it seems more like a "semi-
autobiography" at best.  On the other hand, he covers his years at
public school and in the trenches during World War I, which one
suspects are more interesting than the years afterwards.  (And even
in the trenches, his academic side was not completely subsumed; he
spent time with Siegfried Sassoon, for example.)

I was a bit disappointed to find that Graves had re-edited this in
1957.  Though he says in the epilogue that he merely deleted some
uninteresting parts, expanded the section about T. E. Lawrence, and
replaced pseudonyms with real names when the need for concealment
no longer existed, I probably would prefer a "fresher" (more
contemporaneous) version.

On the other hand, he does not seem to have softened his
descriptions of trench warfare or other aspects of World War I, and
this is the heart of the book, and the reason it is recommended.

A few weeks ago I reviewed President Grant's MEMOIRS, which led me
to wonder which Presidents were consider the best writers.
Naturally, there is no definitive ranking, but there is a
consensus.  Grant is very high, based almost entirely on his
memoirs, though historians who have read his military orders and
dispatches say that those were written with an admirable clarity of

Theodore Roosevelt is also near the top, with much more variety,
writing books about his time in the Dakotas and his time exploring
the Brazilian wilderness, as well as more political and
sociological volumes.

Madison (for the "Federalist Papers" and other works) and Jefferson
also rank high, but over time their style has come to seem more
archaic and stilted.

Lincoln wrote his speeches and letters back before Presidents had
speechwriters and at least some of his writings are considered

Some recent Presidents also made various lists: Kennedy (not for
PROFILES IN COURAGE, which is generally conceded to have been
ghost-written, but for his earlier book WHY ENGLAND SLEPT), Nixon,
Carter, and Obama.  But it is too soon to know if these will stand
the test of time.  Grant is still in print and is reasonably priced
editions after 130 years, and Roosevelt's works as well continue to
have a steady readership.

(Popular authorship among politicians is not unknown.  Even before
Vaclav Havel became president of Czechoslovakia, there had been
heads of state also known as authors, with political opponents
Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone among them, as well as
Winston Churchill.)  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           Fashions have done more harm than revolutions.
                                           --Victor Hugo