I bought the DVD box set of THE PRISONER from Amazon UK and am enjoying watching this series again. It’s aged far better than its contemporaries–the original STAR TREK and so forth. In particular, the style is still far bolder in some ways than even stylistically limit-pushing stuff like HOMICIDE. The opening scenes of “Arrival” are amazing–really bold camera moves and edits, as well as the sharp, angular physical action of McGoohan in the title role. The combination is incredibly aggressive and striking. And if anything, the premise and the edge of surrealism plays more modern today than it did then. THE PRISONER has aged remarkably well. If you haven’t seen it in years, it’s well worth a reappraisal.

Well, time for the movie reviews…

Conan the Barbarian

This is the new DVD release, which restores about 8 or 9 minutes of scenes cut from the original version. It’s better than I remembered, though still hampered by bad acting from the principals. Nonetheless, the film is interesting. There are long stretches without dialogue, where the story is driven by action and music. It gives the film a thoughtfully epic quality and works very well. The accompanying documentary is excellent. The commentary track by director John Milius and good old Arnold is a waste of time, however. The best tidbits appear in the documentary, and mostly what you get is Arnold displaying an embarrassing lack of familiarity with the film; he clearly hadn’t watched it in many years, and most of his comments consist of him describing what we’re watching in a slightly surprised tone of voice. (“Oh, here is where I fight the snake!”) He’s often wrong, as well, exclaiming that a certain sequence is starting when in fact it’s still later in the film. All told, he comes off like a boob and it’s pretty unfortunate.

The 13th Warrior

I really enjoyed this film, and it’s certainly superior to Conan. I’ve reviewed it before, so I’ll just note that it’s a beautifully shot and acted piece of work. I wish it had been more successful, enough so to warrant a better presentation on DVD. The film went through lengthy delays in post-production as it was cut and recut to please various people involved in the production, and there is still the feeling that chunks are missing. Were the film more popular we might see an expanded version, or at least a discussion of what changed. But as it did poorly and seems to have made little impact, this may be all we ever see about this enjoyable adventure film.

Tonight I took my friends Mike and Jean-Michele Daisey to the airport, as they’re heading off to New York again after attending a family wedding. Mike is working away on his book for the Free Press, based on his experiences at Amazon.com that also formed the basis for his successful stage show here in Seattle earlier this year. Our various endeavors are looking good. It appears likely that we’ll get funding for a series of short-short films featuring Mike in various comedic bits, which we’d produce late this year. I’m working on a redesign of his web site (www.mikedaisey.com) to bring it up to snuff. And in a very silly and happy bit of news, I’ve learned that the publisher wants to use one of my photographs on the cover of the book. It’s the photo of Mike with a dog bone in his mouth, which we’ve used as a sort of branding image on his web site, show posters, and other documents from the start. I hope this works out, as I suspect the book is going to do very well and it’ll be fun to see my photograph on all those covers. But time will tell. According to Mike, life in Brooklyn is good and there’s goat stew available everywhere. I can’t quite reconcile those two statements, but there we go.

Orange alert! Orange alert!