Monday, January 04, 2016

cinematic adventures whilst ironing

hi there

try as i might, dear reader. i cannot think of any technology which was as breathtaking as it was so quickly rendered obsolete as the portable DVD player. in short, look you see, when they came out - at least at an affordable price - they were astonishing, offering an outstanding way to watch films in high quality without needing to be in front of a TV. and then smart phones which did the same thing in less space came along.

i know what you are thinking, and the answer is no - Apple products themselves do not become obsolete at breathtaking speed, just out of date at a similar rate to the above.

what's the point of this post? well, as regular readers will be aware, i have spent some of the Christmas and New Year period engaged in some hardcore, high quality ironing action. i've been using this as an excuse to watch some films at the same time, and i have done so via the medium of my trusty portable DVD player.

it must be close to 11 or 12 years old now, and it's still working fine. which is impressive, considering it has travelled some distance around the world and James commanded it for use between the ages of 2 and 3.

you are indeed reading the above correct; it has a 6.2" screen. what was considered impressive and big for this device a decade ago would now be seen as a bit on the smaller side of small for a smartphone. also, the resolution / definition is a lot lower than what you would get off Samsung, Apple or whoever. but at the time it was the best to be had.

is there an interesting story behind how i came to get this portable player? yes. i was fortunate to get one of the first standalone DVD recorders, which allowed one to record off the tele to disc or indeed to pirate movies. i got it from HiFi Corp and it cost R4000.

after 7 or 8 months of use, it required something called a "firmware" update. this was done via downloading something to your PC (using a 56k modem), burning it to a CD and putting it in the DVD recorder. this did not go at all well, and my DVD recorder was rendered inoperable.

more on that story in a bit, but for now, going on the title i have designated if not allocated to this blog post, i would imagine you are rather keen - eager, perhaps - to see what i have been watching on this device.

i went through the stack of DVDs i have bought at 49p a pop and, in the first instance (after Miami Vice which i already covered) i selected Rocky IV to watch.

my favourite Rocky film is the first, for which Sylvester Stallone should have got the Best Actor Oscar. close to that is Rocky III, with the awesome Clubber Lang and that magical homoerotic bit on the beach with Rocky and Apollo that is even better than the volleyball scene off of Top Gun. but i had not seen Rocky IV for a while.

this Rocky film tends to get some harsh and unfair reviews. some believe it was a bit of a failure, but at the time it made back four times what it cost to make, and probably a lot more since. despite the improbable nature of the boxing which happens in the film, at the time it was possibly one of the most relevant and timely bits of western propaganda us kids could have been given. tensions were, after all, at a very dangerous high in all things Cold War. it was assuring that we, the west, would of course triumph over the Soviet Union no matter what they threw at us.

and, in Rocky IV, what they threw at us was Ivan Drago, played by if not the greatest then certainly the tallest actor ever to come out of Sweden that also made their non-speaking acting debut in the final Bond movie of an actor who had played the part more than twice.

yeah, that clip i selected does rather focus on Brigitte Nielsen more than it does Rocky or Drago. don't tell my (considerably) better half, but i did always have a thing for Brigitte Nielsen, and probably still very much do. the idea of a lady that can absolutely batter you is, to me, exciting. that's probably why i like that big massive She Hulk off of Game Of Thrones so much. and that bit in A View To A Kill where Bond bravely goes to bed with Grace Jones.

Rocky IV, to reign in my wandering mind some, is well worth a look, or another look. it strips a plot down to a bare minimum so as not to waste anyone's time, yet the film works more as a coherent story than it does as simply being a series of boxing bouts some suggest it is.

what did i watch the next time i did some ironing? the best space battles war film that the 70s produced, although in fairness it did not have a great deal of competition, bar that one with the pretend orphan, the deranged elderly religious zealot and that enlarged version of Cousin It off of Addams Family.

i did, dear reader, try to watch the recent revamp of Battlestar Galactica. i gave up after a few minutes. whereas i appreciate the success it had suggested it was brilliant, it just wasn't for me. i am glad that the concept survived and carried on to another generation, but i will stick with my fond memories of the original.

what was so awesome about it? other than Face off of A Team womanizing and smoking? other than Adama standing around looking moody? other than the boss robot dog? the Cylons.

look at them! they are awesome, man. so shiny and so bulky, and that epic, brilliant red light going backwards and forwards to serve as some sort of apparent eye. brilliant, they were. also, they were crap pilots and easy to kill in a ground war, so how come they nearly wiped out all of humanity is a bit of a mystery.

back to the tale of how i got this player, then. i took the DVD recorder back to the branch where i bought it, and they sent it off to the menders. the menders said that it could not be fixed. as it was within 12 months of purchase - some sort of warranty / guarantee thing - i was given R4000 credit to spend in the store. by that time the price of recorders had fallen to R1500, giving me some R2500 to blow on other stuff. with that excess, then, i got this portable player. also, i think, i got a new kettle, and a few DVDs. off the top of my head, one of them was Coogan's The Parole Officer, which wasn't bad.

flaws with the portable DVD player? yes. a big one is that the fully charged battery would let you watch one two hour movie and that was that. another was that the player itself had only basic controls on it (volume, play, pause, stop), so you had to have the remote handy to select things off the chapters. and the remote has all the functionality except volume control. but still, it does the job whilst i iron.

for the third and final (at this time) film, let's start off with the clip rather than the image. i do this because i am led to believe the single biggest problem with Space Battles Episode VII : Mission To Moscow is the complete lack of Lando Calrissian, as played by Billy Dee Williams. as Billy Dee Williams is alive, well and in a better physical state that Mark Hamill, and indeed does not crash as many planes as Harrison Ford, i guess we can assume it's OK, it's just casual racism that no one pays attention to which saw him excluded from the big reunion party. 

Disney, et al, pay attention - here is the great Billy Dee Williams in action not in one of your films.

i will be honest, when i saw Alien Intruder for sale in the shop i thought it was actually Anal Intruder, a film that Spiros considers to be one of the best he has ever seen. it quickly became apparent that it was not, of course. for a start, if it was the film that Spiros liked, there most certainly would not be an image of a lady on the disc, or in the film. also, it wouldn't have a 15 certificate, and it would not be sold in normal shops.

i think you can make it out, but if not, yes, that is Maxwell Claufield (or however you spell it) on the disc and in the film. he was in Dynasty or Coulbys or something like that, and he was the "cool rider" in Grease 2.

what's Alien Intruder all about? i am uncertain. it looked like it might be a bit of The Dirty Dozen in space, but i got distracted by all the virtual reality sub plots. i also got distracted by the amazingly high levels of full frontal female nudity and generous use of the "f" word in a 15 certificate film.

would i recommend or suggest you watch Alien Intruder? yes if you are a big, big fan of Billy Dee Williams, him off of Grease 2 or female nudity. no if what you want from a film is some form of actual plot and coherent story.

hopefully you've enjoyed reading of these three films, or my tale of how i came to get a portable DVD player some 10 or 12 years ago. enough for now, then, rest i must.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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