ToyCon – Burlington, September 8th, 2013

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Sue and I have loved the ToyCon since our first visit earlier this year. You never know what you’re going to find, what magic and memory lurks in a bin or on a table just around the corner. So it was with great excitement that we piled into a car with our friends David and Nancy and headed to the Holiday Inn on South Service Road in Burlington.

Gathering up our passes, Sue and I dove into the two rooms, filled with uncountable, and no doubt untold treasures, and a hallway filled with Hot Wheels and action figures.

There were items that caught our attention right away, and even now I’m kicking myself in the butt for not picking up an original, pre-loved Kenner Millenium Falcon that looked to have everything with it, but for the satellite dish, for a whopping $15!!! I missed out, literally by minutes, but did pick up the Kenner diecast Falcon that I used to have as a kid.

I do love that ship!

We stumbled a long in a goofy, geeky daze, pointing things out, letting out little gasps of geekgasms and saw toys I didn’t even know existed, like Dune action figures!

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Paul Atreides and a Sandworm, wow!!

How did those ones get by me? I mean it’s not my favorite movie, but I can’t believe that toys like that would have gotten by me!

This was also the first time that I didn’t come home with something from Disney’s The Black Hole. Not that I wasn’t looking. And there were a few items, in fact there were sealed action figures unopened, untouched, but retailing for $80 apiece. A little out of my price range…

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There were some amazing things!

Sue found a pair of Battle of the Planets action figures, and picked them up in one fell swoop. It’s a good thing she did, otherwise I may have been forced to!

And there were so many Star Wars toys!!

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While not as big as say Fan Expo, Sue and I find a lot of joy in the ToyCons because there is always so much cool stuff there. It’s amazing that you can come across something you completely forgot about, but was so important to you as a child, and the moment you see it, so much just comes rushing back to you.

For that reason alone, I cannot recommend these Cons enough because, wow, the nostalgia mixes with the blood, sharpens the eye and the memory, leading you down long forgotten corridors of childhood, and you learn you can go home sometimes…

And a con wouldn’t be a con without costumes, and there were a couple of fun note, but the ones that caught our attention the most were a group of Imperial Stormtroopers playing one of the stand up classic arcade games that were in one of the rooms…

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I’m fairly sure at this point, this Con will have constant attendees in the form of Sue and myself. It’s a great way to spend a day, wandering about, checking out the wares, chatting with the sellers, and rediscovering things you thought were long gone, had always wanted or find some new piece of shiny that just seems to call to you!

These Cons are so much fun, check out their Facebook page here to find out when and where the next one is!

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Dune (1984) – David Lynch

DuneDavid Lynch is always an interesting filmmaker, and more often than not, his films are wonderfully confusing and eccentric, Twin Peaks will always be my favorite of these, though Mulholland  Drive is probably a close second.

The 101 Sci-Fi Movies list brought me his adaptation of Dune to rewatch, and while I can appreciate it more now than I did when I first saw it, it still is very far from being his best work.

I saw this film when it first came out, after I had read the first book in Frank Herbert’s series. So at least I knew about the guilds, the families, and some of the politics that the world had created, but I was complete confused by the introduction of the voice modulators for the “Weirding Way.”

Despite it’s all-star cast, the stunning Francesca Annis, Patrick Stewart, Kyle MacLachlan, Dean Stockwell, Sting, Brad Dourif, Jose Ferrer, Linda Hunt, Freddie Jones, Richard Jordan, Virginia Madsen, Sean Young, Everett McGill, and Jurgen Prochnow the film is still a mess, no matter what cut of the film you watch, though Lynch has sworn off of all of them, and has had no involvement with any of the extended cuts that have been released.

kyleMacLachlan plays Paul Atreides the son of a Duke has been assigned to the desert planet of Arrakis to oversee the flow of the spice melange which allows the space guilds to fold space, uniting the known universe. In other words, whoever controls the spice, has the power.

The film’s villains, the Harkonnens, are feuding with the Atreides family, and the Emperor (Ferrer) is using that to eliminate the Duke (Prochnow), whom he sees as a threat.

Unfortunately, Paul and his mother Jessica (Annis) escape into the deep desert avoiding the giant worms that move all over the planet and have a unique connection to the spice. There they find the Fremen, who recognizing Paul as a the messiah of their prophecies take him in, and together they prepare for the final battle for control of Dune, the spice, and everything beyond.

wormI like the costume design (Bob Ringwood), the music (Toto) and the whole kind of neo-baroque, steam-punkish approach to the tech design of the world. But for all that some of the special effects are incredibly hokey, even for the mid-80s. The creature designs are by Carlo Rambaldi, and some of them are pretty interesting, especially the navigators, when you consider that at one point, there were supposed to be human.

In the end, I think the film tries to do too much in the time length it’s given, back when a film had to be two hours so it could play as many times in a day as possible. But tackling something like Dune without giving it all the due attention it needs, even the mini-series from 2000 didn’t seem to do it complete justice, and lacked the look and feel of the Lynchian creation.

virginiaIn the end, the film has become a cult favorite, and it is not without its merits, Vigrinia Madsen for starters. But, it’s more a curiosity to sit through, than a film to be viewed. But perhaps that is just me.

Still, it does have a number of quotable lines, great actors, and cool costumes.

What did you think of it?

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Despite the Gods – Penny Vozniak, Australia

I’m not the only one who was seeing Despite The Gods for the first time last night, the film’s subjects Jennifer Lynch, daughter of David, and her own daughter, Sydney got to see it as well.

Chronicling her efforts in India to make a film that would be a cross between Hollywood and Bollywood, a horror, comedy, action, with a musical number it is insanity inducing as Jennifer, who has some facial expressions akin to her father, comes up against cultural divides and ass-hat producers that conspire to destroy her and her film.

Accompanied by her young daughter Sydney, Jennifer relocates to India to helm her third picture, hot off the success of her film Surveillance. She is met by a world that works in a way she’s completely unused to, coming from L.A. and before the film even starts shooting, she’s already falling behind.

She also learns that safety concerns on a shoot aren’t at the top of their lists, as her crew believe in Karmic destiny. If someone, a stuntman say, dies on set, that’s ok. It should be celebrated in fact as they will be reincarnated.

Jennifer tries to take all of this in stride, as she tries to tell her tale of a snake who becomes a woman (the amazing-looking Mallika Sherawat) who becomes a snake. Yes, you read that right.

She can’t get a call sheet made, she has the producer from hell making decisions for her that conflict with her own artistic choices as well as demanding her to shoot more quickly and resentful of Sydney being on the set all the time.

The crew don’t want to work until 7, they think 6 is better, but they insist on starting later, and taking tea. These schedules cripple her. Then she bumps up against the cultural beliefs of the world, the sacrilege of using the left hand, and the standing of women in Indian society.

Things spiral out of control, she can’t possibly win.

She can’t shoot on location as mobs arrive whenever Mallika is on set, storms wash out sets, her crew litters, and her producer keeps undercutting her whenever he can.

I love a good behind the scenes doc, and this one is amazing. I love to see and hear stories about what goes on behind the camera, and in this case, the story behind the film, is probably better than the hack cut the producers released of Hisss. You’ll laugh and you’ll shake your head as you feel Jennifer’s frustration.

Apparently the film has been released, completely recut from the film she submitted (which was deemed too European and too sensual) and Jennifer has tried to distance herself from it, mush like her father did with Dune.

You can see Despite The Gods Monday April 30 at 1:30pm at the Cumberland and Saturday May 5 at 9:30pm at Innis.