Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
04/28/17 -- Vol. 35, No. 44, Whole Number 1960

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 May (comments 
                by Mark R. Leeper)
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        Role Models (letter of comment by Jim Susky)
        This Week's Reading (CRETACEOUS DAWN) 
                (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


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

May 11: THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR (1999) & SIMULACRON-3 by Daniel 
        F. Galouye, Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM
May 25: REPLAY by Ken Grimwood, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM
June 8: SOLARIS (1972) & Solaris by Stanislaw Lem, Middletown (NJ) 
        Public Library, 5:30PM
July 13: WALL-E (2008) & "The Machine Stops" by E. M. Forster, 
        Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM
July 27: THE MAN WHO FOLDED HIMSELF by David Gerrold, Old Bridge 
        (NJ) Public Library, 7PM
August 10: QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (1967) & [TBD], Middletown (NJ) 
        Public Library, 5:30PM
September 14: THE MARTIAN (2015) & THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir, 
        Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM
September 28: THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY by Genevieve Cogman, Old Bridge 
        (NJ) Public Library, 7PM
October 12: CAT PEOPLE (1942) & "The Bagheeta" by Val Lewton, 
        Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM
November 16: THE FOREVER WAR by Joe Haldeman, Old Bridge (NJ) 
        Public Library, 7PM
January 25, 2018: OLD MAN'S WAR by John Scalzi, Old Bridge (NJ) 
        Public Library, 7PM

Northern New Jersey events are listed at:


TOPIC: Congratulations

Congratualtions to John Purcell, frequent commenter here, for his 
selection as TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fun Fund) delegate from North 
America to the Worldcon in Helsinki this summer!


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

[Fans of SF, horror, and fantasy should stick around to the end of 
this article for a listing of the fantasy fests TCM has every 
Thursday night into Friday Morning in May.]

Once again I am here with my cinematic choices for the films to 
notice in the coming month on Turner Classic Movies.  It is hard to 
know what films to recommend to people since the best choices some 
people will already know.  I work with high school students and I 
guess I aim to be writing for the level of film knowledge they 
have.  I would think they would have never heard of films like 
MISTER ROBERTS or MARTY.  If they are at all interested in cinema, 
these are films they might not know but would really enjoy.  
Someone who has more experience with films would probably know 
these films well.  He/She might have more interest in just the fact 
that these are my choices for films I recommend.  And for the real 
film buff this column can be just a finger pointing at good films 
coming up on TCM.

It is hard to believe that BLOOD SIMPLE (1984) is nearly a third of 
a century old.  This was the first of the Coen Brothers films.  
After it was made it turned out to be the first of a long string of 
films that were written by Joel and/or Ethan Coen and directed by 
the other.  One might expect that first film would have been weak 
and their films would have matured and got better as they went 
along, but this is still one of their best films.  Of course they 
had a lot of best.  Most of their films are stories involving 
crime, but there are a few exceptions.  This is a story about a 
murder plot with three or four people involved in one way or 
another.  None has a full picture of what is going on.  We know 
what is happening but the characters keep having the "huh?" 
experience as the rug is pulled out from under them (figuratively, 
of course).  [Monday, May 16, midnight into Tuesday]

Back in the 1950s science fiction films were full of monsters.  
There were giant insects, giant lizards, dinosaurs, and flying 
saucers with evil aliens.  I can think of only two films where 
there was not someone or something of malevolent purpose causing 
the threat.  It was just something that by its very nature was 
inimical to humans.  One was THE MONOLITH MONSTERS (not showing 
this month, by the way). In which giant crystals pulled silicon out 
of the ground and grew to 30-foot heights before falling and 
breaking up seeding more crystals.  The other film (this one is 
showing this month) is THE MAGNETIC MONSTER (1953).  In this film 
there is a dangerous element moving into town.  Literally ... it is 
a dangerous chemical element never before existing on Earth.  The 
newly discovered element serranium absorbs energy around it and 
grows exponentially.  As it draws in energy it causes powerful 
explosions.  If it keeps doubling in size it will blow up the 
entire earth.  The film itself was a parasite.  It sucked up stock 
footage and used it as its body.  But it was not ordinary stock 
footage, it was footage borrowed from a German science fiction film 
from 1934, GOLD.  That film was about chemical/nuclear processes to 
make gold.  Much of THE MAGNETIC MONSTER is borrowed from GOLD.  
GOLD had great visual effects to show how super-science would 
create the precious metal.  There was one problem.  THE MAGNETIC 
MONSTER took place in the United States and people in the borrowed 
footage seemed to dress in a more Germanic clothing style.  So the 
nuclear reactor scenes were said to be happening in Canada.  
Canadians might dress like pre-war German scientists for all 
anybody knew, right?  There are a lot of credibility problems with 
the film, but for a 1953 science fiction movie it is darn good.
[Friday, May 19, 4:00 AM]

SEVEN DAYS TO NOON (1950) is a film way ahead of its time, not just 
because it was the first of many suspense films about nuclear 
terrorism but because it is still relevant today and still is very 
effective sixty-seven years after it was made.  A British nuclear 
scientist does not like the way his work is being used to create 
super-weapons.  He decides that it takes a nuclear bomb to stop a 
bomb.  He announces to the world that he has stolen a (strangely 
portable) atomic bomb and will use it to destroy London if Britain 
does not get out of the bomb business altogether.  From the war 
Brits were already all too aware of how scary it is to have to 
disarm bombs.  The Brits have to find the terrorist and his bomb 
and then to disarm it without losing London in the process.
[Tuesday, May 16, 1:45 AM.]

What is the best film of the month?  For me that would be a very 
personal choice.  I like the writer John Steinbeck a lot.  I also 
think quite highly of the controversial director Elia Kazan.  Still 
it took me a long while to realize how good EAST OF EDEN (1955) is.  
The film covers only a small piece of the book.  But Kazan creates 
a very poignant relationship between the James Dean and Raymond 
Massey characters.  And Kazan arranged it that the two actors would 
have a very similar relationship.  Dean was instructed to do things 
like arrive late to anger and frustrate Massey.  Massey grew to 
hate Dean and it came out in his performance, which was just what 
Kazan was hoping for.  [Saturday, May 13, 8:00 PM]

TCM this month is renewing its commitment to lovers of science 
fiction, horror, and fantasy films--films all to often getting 
short shrift from lists of classic films.  They are doing four all 
night long programs--Creature Features--dedicated to the horrific 
beasts of science fiction films.  This is the lineup:

Thursday 4--Friday 5
11:15 PM KING KONG (1933)
 1:15 AM MOTHRA (1962)
 3:15 AM BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS, THE (1953)
 5:00 AM REPTILICUS (1961)

Thursday 11--Friday 12
 8:00 PM RODAN (1958)
11:15 PM DEADLY MANTIS, THE (1957)
 2:45 AM EMPIRE OF THE ANTS (1977)
 4:30 AM GIANT CLAW, THE (1957)

Thursday 18--Friday 19
 8:00 PM THEM! (1954)
 2:30 AM PHANTOM FROM 10,000 LEAGUES, THE (1955)

Thursday 25--Friday 26
 8:00 PM TARANTULA (1955)
 9:30 PM RETURN OF THE FLY (1959)
12:45 AM WASP WOMAN, THE (1960)
 2:00 AM SWAMP THING (1982)
 4:00 AM KILLER SHREWS, THE (1959)



review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: A woman rescues three young girls from a Cambodian 
brothel.  Police and thugs chase her and the girls across country 
as she tries to find each child's home and return them there.  
Along the way the film is decorated with equal parts lush 
photography of Cambodia and examination of the ugly problem of 
child prostitution destroying the lives of tens of millions of 
children worldwide.  The film is directed by Ilaria Borrelli and 
written by Borrelli and Guido Freddi.  Freddi also produced and 
contributed the original music.  The basic plot is an overly 
familiar one, but the film makes up for it by acquainting the 
viewer with the enormous issue of child forced prostitution.  
Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

The alternate title of this film, more subtle though less 
informative, was TALKING TO THE TREES.  And the film begins with an 
eleven-year-old Cambodian girl, Srey (played by Seta Monyroth) 
talking to trees.  Before we know it men with chainsaws are cutting 
down the trees.  The men have bought the forest that the little 
girl considers home and they are cutting it down, (unintentionally) 
killing Srey's grandmother along the way.  Another stranger offers 
to help Srey.  

After the titles we flash to the French photographer Mia (director 
Ilaria Borrelli) who has flown to Cambodia to be with her husband.  
She just misses him at his hotel and tries to catch up with him in 
the street, but finds he has gone to a very shabby brothel.  Mia 
sees her husband with Srey and is stunned and outraged.  Mia 
decides to try to rescue the girl her husband was using.  She tries 
to escape the brothel with Srey.  And the same establishment that 
turns a blind eye to the inhumanity of the sex trade considers Mia 
a kidnapper.  The police cooperate with heavies from the brothel to 
chase after Mia and Srey.

The film's cause--stopping sexual slavery and human trafficking in 
children--is a very serious one.  As far as the chase plot the 
trafficking is an interchangeable MacGuffin.  Mia could be running 
from drug dealers and we could have substantially the same action 
film.  The film's originality and value are largely what we see in 
the margins and around the main body of the story.

The film at once makes Cambodia look like a place you would want to 
visit and at the same time one you would not.  In spite of terrific 
colorful scenery, this is not a film that is going to do much 
positive for the Cambodia tourism industry.

The film is mostly in English, but with actors' accents thick 
enough to get in the viewers' way.  There are some scenes that are 
not staged well.  In one scene fugitives are being chased are 
crossing a wide flat field of several acres.  The people chasing 
them catch them in the middle of the flat, open field.  It gives 
the viewer a jolt, but it hardly seems possible to sneak up on 
someone who is so far out in the open.

Few people are aware of the enormity of the child sex traffic.  
With over 40,000,000 children on the world sex market there are 
more slaves today than at any time in world history.  35% of 
Cambodia's 15,000 prostitutes are children under the age of 16.  It 
is not uncommon for parents in poverty to sell their own children 
into the brothels in Cambodia.  Borrelli could have made a hard-
hitting documentary about the problem, but probably fewer people 
would want to see it than would if the film offered the 
entertainment of a chase story and uses that to present some of the 
hard facts.  This story is a nightmarish view of the life of the 
impoverished and powerless in Cambodia.  Hopefully this film will 
be an awakening, even if it is a rude one.

I give THE GIRL FROM THE BROTHEL a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 
7/10.  It will be available on DVD and ON DEMAND beginning April 

Film Credits:

What others are saying:




TOPIC: Role Models (letter of comment by Jim Susky)

In response to Mark's comments on role models and Mahershala Ali as 
"the black Morgan Freeman" in the 04/21/17 issue of the MT VOID, 
Jim Susky writes:

Your comment arouses a few reactions:

1) For quite some time Bill Cosby was a positive black father 
figure role model, along with the luminous Felicia Rashad, as 
Mr. and Mrs. Huxtable--two professional parents who ruled their 
household with benevolent strictness.  If not for recent 
revelations, you could have credibly referred to Ali as "the black 
Bill Cosby".

2) Morgan Freeman has been a 'bankable' movie star for nearly two 
decades.  His "blackness" may indeed have receded behind his 
ubiquitous familiarity.  An actor's "race" (perception thereby) is 
generally not important, unless she lacks ability to submerge into 
a role and/or convince us to suspend disbelief.

3) In sports, baseball being personally notable to me, matters of
race/ethnicity/nationality are similarly overpowered by matters of
athletic competence. The illusion of them as having no 
race/ethnicity/nationality will sometimes be shattered. When 
interviewed, their speech will "collapse" them into a 
racial/ethnic/national "box" (category).

This demonstrates a linguistic uncertainty principal of sorts. The 
nature of the category is undetermined until the subject is 
intruded upon by the observer.

3A) I'll offer an anecodote about race/ethnicity/nationality as a

About ten years ago my sister lived with my family while pursuing a
masters program. One of the requirements was a summer-school course 
about the history of indigenous Alaskans since Vitus Bering showed 
up in 1741.  The focus was on how Europeans exploited the Natives, 
which was regularly recounted after class.

One such debriefing occurred with a Mariners game playing on TV, 
when a "light" came on between my ears. I performed a census of the 
starting team--noting how various races/ethnicities/nationalities 
identified each player within his "minority group". There were 
Japanese, Black Americans, Black Latins, "white" Latins, and, 
comprising its own minority-of-two--white Americans.

Before, they were Ballplayers--after the "light", they became 
hyphenated Ballplayers.

It's not clear that constitutes an improvement.  [-js]


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

CRETACEOUS DAWN by L. M. Graziano and M. S. A. Graziano (ISBN 
978-0-9815148-3-3) seems to be written on a young-adult level, with 
a lot of infodumps about Cretaceous life and environment.  It 
reminded me of such Jules Verne works as THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, 
even before I read the blurb on the back from "Natural History" 
describing it as "an effortless read as engaging as vintage Jules 
Verne."  I do think the writing has some flaws, with a lot of gaps 
in time that are not immediately clear, and the ending is really 
just pulled out of a hat.

For all their technical accuracy in the field of paleontology, 
though, I do think that the authors got the genetics of eye color 
wrong.  While it is now recognized that eye color is not based on a 
single gene/allele, the book seems to be using the traditional 
model--and using it incorrectly.  One person claims that a black-
eyed ancestor A and a brown-eyed ancestor B could not produce a 
blue-eyed child--but A and a brown-eyed ancestor C who also has 
blue-eyed children in the family could.  But 1) he has no idea 
whether B has blue-eyed people in his family, and 2) A claims not 
to have any blue-eyed ancestors ("no Europeans in my stock").  
There is also D, a blue-eyed possibility (though ruled out for n 
good reason), but as long as one ancestor is A (with no blue-eyed 
genes), getting genes for blue eyes from B or C or D won't matter, 
because the blue-eyed gene will always be over-ridden by the black-
eyed gene from A.

For all I know, there may be other inaccuracies, but on the whole 
the description of life in the Cretaceous has been reviewed as 
reasonably accurate.  Enjoyable up until the end, which was a bit 
of a cheat.  [-ecl]


                                          Mark Leeper

          Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may 
          be looking
                                         --H. L. Mencken