Archive for the ‘furry sidekicks’ category

Daemons of “His Dark Materials”

November 7, 2019



I’m not going to try and explain the strange and wonderful world of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials here as it’s vast, complex, and can be quite bewildering.  Rather, I’m just going to latch onto one item of it as suits this blog, namely the notion that we all have an animal spirit representative or daemon, which is kind of an external soul never far from you which is intelligent, talks, interacts with you, and can be seen by others, as well as by other daemons.  Although part of your soul, these daemons also have distinct personalities, opinions, and feelings. They’re not pets, and you don’t want others to pet them…that’s a serious transgression and violation of etiquette that’s simply not done!  Furthermore, the form of your daemon can transform or shift when you’re a child, assuming a permanent form when you reach puberty.  Then the “tiger in your tank” (dated advertising reference) is yours for the duration…

A British fantasy adventure series based on the novels by Pullman and available on HBO, His Dark Materials depicts a Harry Potter-esque kind of world sometimes referred to as a Narnia for atheists.  Set in a past kind of alternative universe, there are airships and other steampunk kinds of touches.  The notion of daemons exists in other cultures and in their literature as well.  In our universe, daemons are said to be invisible and internalized.  Socrates, however, is said to have seen and talked to his…but he always was a wise guy!

 

 

Visions of Flying Monkeys…

February 22, 2013

flying monkey

– – In the beginning, there was the classic The Wizard of Oz in 1939, based on L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Disney had contemplated an animated film based on the first of Baum’s Oz books, but lost out the rights to MGM in 1938, and the rest became film history. Disney Productions did acquire the rights to the remaining thirteen Oz books in 1954, and in 1985, Disney produced Return to Oz, a rather dark and eerie film which was not exactly child-friendly or in the spirit of its predecessor, and so performed poorly, both critically and commercially.  The Oz franchise was then basically put into mothballs for more than a quarter century…and lo, I have waited these many years for a really good flying monkey, one with a discernible personality, not just one of the “Army of Darkness” type drones that served the Wicked Witch in the original…

…and at long last, Sam Raimi, who gave us the Spiderman trilogy, appears poised to deliver just that!  In Oz the Great and Powerful, we are given flying monkeys that not only talk, but are gentle and whimsical creatures, worthy furry sidekicks!  We are also given so much more…three witches, and the backstories to the Oz saga that fleshes out both the place, and the “Wizard” who becomes its reluctant and faltering savior.  Constructed as a “prequel” to the original 1939 classic, this film has big shoes to fill, but just might pull it off…but don’t expect to see ruby slippers, they are copyrighted to the original.  It will be so good to see the Wicked Witch again, as the better the villain, the better the tale!  And the green-hued one looks awesome!

Oz the Great and Powerful is coming to theaters March 8th…and as always, best witches to you all!

Two Paws Up for “Life of Pi!”

October 29, 2012

– – Described as “visually stunning” and “the next Avatar,” an upcoming November 21st movie Life of Pi is a 3D magical adventure tale based on the best-selling 2001 novel by Yann Martel which centers on Pi Patel, the 16-year-old precocious son of a zoo keeper who has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal psychology and behavior.  The Indian teenager is the only human to survive the sinking of a freighter, and finds himself on a lifeboat with several animals that include an orangutan, a hyena, a wounded zebra, and a Bengal tiger.  While on the surface a tale of survival, Life of Pi holds spiritual dimensions as well, although there is no preaching going on here, and more questions are raised about faith and belief than answered.  Pi himself practices not only his native Hinduism but also Christianity and Islam; paralleling the story of the young man and the tiger, this is a zen-like tale about coexistence, tolerance, and the reconciliation of opposites…something the world could use more of!

As one might suspect, the tiger by the name of Richard Parker dispatches all of the other life forms except for Pi, whose knowledge, fear, and cunning allow him to coexist with the tiger for 227 days lost at sea.  The film mixes real tigers with computer-generated effects almost seamlessly.  Through all of this, the tiger remains feral; this is not a Disneyesque movie about the “power of friendship.”  Upon reaching the Mexican coast, the tiger returns to the wild, never to be seen again.   Japaneses investigators don’t believe the tale of Pi’s survival, and compel him to tell another one; which will you believe?

Directed by Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Life of Pi is one of the year’s most beautiful, original, and adventurous pictures that can be appreciated on a variety of levels, and is likely to be an Oscar contender…

The Goat Man…

January 30, 2012

 – – Imagine David Duchovny who once played Fox Mulder in The X-Files wearing a full beard and mane of hair and traveling around in a VW Jetta with two goats named Lance and Freida, and you begin to get an idea of what a quirky movie Goats is!  Duchovny’s character, the Goat Man, is a philosophical, marijuana-smoking goatherd who serves as a mentor to a 15-year-old boy in this coming-of-age comedy/drama. 

Duchovny supposedly displays an uncanny ability to make convincing goat sounds, and exhibits a complex relationship with animals in the film.   His stoner/gardener character also walks around in the buff a lot in the movie, which some reviewers call a standout and others have simply considered baaaad

Blofeld’s Kitty…

September 12, 2011

 – – James Bond’s archenemy Ernst Stavro Blofeld was originally never shown facially, but only in closeup stroking his white Persian cat.  Blofeld never calls the cat by name or even  acknowledges that he is holding one, although the supervillain holding a cat has become a stock cliche parodied in the Austin Powers series by the character of Dr. Evil with his cat, Mr. Bigglesworth. 

While Blofeld was dumped down an industrial chimney by Bond in For Your Eyes Only, the cat jumps to safety, and is probably out there working for several organizations bent on world domination until his nefarious schemes come to fruition…