Renovation, Day 4 (Part 1)

What day is it? Oh, I guess it’s Saturday!

I started the day at 10:00 with a screening of Song of the South (1946). I had never seen this film, which Disney has taken off the market. I had chances to see it many years ago, but I’m not a big fan of musicals, and not even the prospect of classic animation could get me to watch it. I’m not a big fan of “classic” Disney animation, to tell you the truth. But I’m more into historically significant films now, so decided to see it. I thought it was a reasonably entertaining family film with some nice moral lessons. Uncle Remus was not nearly as offensive as I expected. Yes, he seemed to be a layabout whose sole function was to tell stories to children, but what do you expect from an old man? My biggest objection was the unreal depiction of a white upper-class boy freely mingling with a poor black boy and a poor white-trash girl. But then this was Disney trying his best to foster racial harmony, I guess. I’d like to see this in a restored version without faded colors and in its original wide-screen format.

At noon I was off to see “The Craft of Writing Short Science Fiction and Fantasy” with Adam-Troy Castro, Jay Lake, Robert Reed, Michael Swanwick, and Connie Willis. From Willis’s meticulously crafted plots to Lake’s freestyle technique, and everything in between, the main message here was that every writer has a unique style. The only rule is to write a lot and see what works best.

Tropic Dalek in the Exhibition Hall

I wandered back to the exhibit hall, browsed through the dealers’ room a bit, chatted with a couple of people, and then it was back to see “The Big Bang Theory: The TV Show, not the Cosmological Theory.” Panelists Inge Heyer, Bob Kuhn, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Connie Willis spent an hour talking about their favorite episodes and characters from the hit sitcom. Much of the discussion centered around why a show about nerds is so popular with the general public, and the consensus was that these were really just typical sitcom characters done in a modern setting. Additionally, even though most of the characters are stereotypes, they are presented sympathetically, not as pure objects of derision. And it doesn’t hurt that the science on the show is reasonably accurate.

At 3:00, I was planning see Dr. Demento talk about Frank Zappa, but by the time I got to the room it was full, so I decided to head down to see the Trailer Park instead. I’d seen many of the trailers already, but it was fun to see them bunched together, and to hear the reactions from the other fans. The newest trailer for Reel Steel (or as I call it: Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots: The Movie) made it look like it might actually be an interesting movie; if anyone can save it, it’s Hugh Jackman. The remake of The Thing doesn’t look like it’s going to bring much new to the story. Probably the surprise of the afternoon was In Time, starring Justin Timberlake. Who knew he would turn into a reasonably good actor? The premise sounds a bit like Logan’s Run, with mandatory death at the age of 25. But in this world people can buy extra life, and of course organized crime gets into the act. Another winner should be Puss in Boots, a spin-off from the Shrek franchise, with Antonio Banderas reprising the title role. The question I have for Happy Feet 2 in 3D is, why? I was not impressed by the trailer, needless to say. But another kid-friendly movie, Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese looks like it could succeed. There’s no telling what the director of Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Departed will do with tamer fare. Arthur Christmas from Aardman Animation looks like it could either be a hit or a miss, but I’ll give anything Aardman puts outs a try. Brad Bird tries his hand at a live-action film with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. I’m not sure anyone can resurrect Tom Cruise’s acting career, but if anyone can do it, it’s Bird, who knows how to storyboard incredible action scenes. Rounding out the trailers was The Adventures of Tintin, directed by Steven Spielberg. This is a motion-capture adventure based on the internationally popular comic series. Whether American audiences take to it or not, I suspect this will be a smash hit around the world. I’m not much of a Spielberg fan, but I’m very much looking forward to this film.

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