Alvin Mullen has opinions on some 1999 movies
Dear Locus Online,
I was pleased to see local independent and specialty bookstores mentioned in your editorial "On Buying Books" and in subsequent letters from other readers. I think it makes a lot of sense to patronize one of these if you have one in your area. The Happy Bookseller in Columbia, besides being a family labor of love for almost 30 years, is the only place that offers me advice (the clerks actally read books and make good recommendations), signings, special breaks (like discounts on the things I buy and read), and an occasional galley. The owners and workers know me by name and it is pleasant beyond words to actually have a safe haven like this. What a shame
if chains should drive these kinds of places out of business, and I know that this particular store has felt pressure from the chains.
I would not ask people not to use the online booksellers. I think they offer a convenience and a service that is both useful and timely. I would ask readers, particularly those who browse with their children or friends, or who make their weekly bookstore visits a social event as well to consider their local independent bookseller. In most cases, these stores have worked hard over the years to create a pleasant place for booklovers to gather. What a shame that they have had so much pressure placed on them. I would miss them in the extreme if they were not there.
Garry E. Davis
28 February 2000
(posted Wed 22 March 2000)
Dear Locus Online,
I must seriously question your reviews of 1999 movies. Your review seemed just like many Hollywood reviewers that are jaded by watching too many movies and finding the good in anything different.
Your reviews of both The Blair Witch Project and Bicentennial Man left me wondering if you saw the same movies I did. Blair Witch Project was a travesty of not only cinematography, and story telling, but of media presentation ethics rivaling L. Ron Hubbard. The only thing I found scary about this was that people would actually buy into it. The same thing I find scary about scientology.
And as for Bicentennial Man, I wondered if you actually understood the story to start with. It is a touching story exploring what it is to be human. Both the movie and the story portrayed a non-human, with more humanity than most humans. I know we've seen this a lot with Blade Runner, Star Trek Next Generation, and on and on, but this was from the original idea. And after you stated that one of the movies you liked seemed to be panned because it was not the first one released, it seems you did the same thing.
It also brought Asimov's original view that man could be inventive and callous enough to create a new form of life just to use as the next generation of slaves. I've read ''Bicentennial Man'' at least a dozen times, once the day after I saw the movie. And the only real complaint I have is that Chris Columbus' name appeared a dozen times in big bold print, and Asimov's only once in virtual fine print. This was not some Hollywood muckup of a classic story, like Total Recall, Running Man, Puppet Masters, Starship Troopers, and I could go on forever.
Oh and as far as worst speculative movie of the year, mark Omega Code down for this year. It would have to be much better to be as bad as End of Days.
20 March 2000
(posted Wed 22 March 2000)
[ Well, yes, reviewers do read lots more books or see lots more movies than the typical reader or viewer, and so are more apt to be impatient with reading or seeing the same old thing. It's an occupational hazard. As for The Blair Witch Project, you write as if the film were intended to be a professional Hollywood production but that it came out disastrously wrong. It was supposed to be the way it was, cinematographical travesty and all. That's why it's significant: take it on its own terms, and it was far scarier than most slick, well-produced, special-effects laden Hollywood products. Media presentation ethics? The early buzz was from film critics who saw it at festivals, and then from the standard press which -- rather analogously to reviewers -- pounce on anything unusual. The situation doesn't strike me as comparable to the way or to the reasons books by L. Ron Hubbard are promoted at all.
My problem with Bicentennial Man was mostly that the presence of Robin Williams overshadowed everything else. I haven't read the Asimov story in some time, but recall that it worked well. Yet I found the conclusion of the film unconvincing. People, generally, don't want to die, so why did the robot think he had to die to be human? The film's presentation of the argument didn't persuade; it came across as an excuse for a teary finale. But that's just my reaction. For a defense of the film, see George Zebrowski's review in Galaxy Online. Oh, and I missed The Omega Code.