Janissaries

So I promised after reading What Makes This Book So Great that I would slowly work my way through some of the picks in it that I found most interesting. I’ve read some of Jerry Pournelle’s work before, notably his collaborations with the better known Larry Niven, but this was quite recent and I somehow I missed out on reading any of his stuff back when I was first discovering the genre. I picked this one because it has a premise that turns up often in crack fiction or fan-fiction and shows what can be done in the hands of a professional writer.

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Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

This is another famous classic that we had yet to watch and naturally we were reminded of its existence by La La Land. It’s another case in which many of the individual elements are familiar, such as James Dean’s iconic look, the knife duel and the car chickie run, yet have never added up to a coherent whole. As it turned out, this is indeed an eminently watchable film but I’m not certain that it would have become the huge cultural icon that it is if Dean had not died one month before its release.

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Sully (2016)

After American Sniper, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to watch this, especially as it’s a film about a relatively inconsequential event. This one does have something like 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and Tyler Cowen named it as one of the year’s best films, not just an important one. Combined with the fact that it’s likely an undemanding watch, I decided to throw it into the rotation.

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Assassin’s Creed 3

So I bought Assassin’s Creed: Unity not too long ago. Despite the bug reports, the chance of having a romp through a city I’ve been in a few times was too appealing to pass over. But then Ubisoft offered this one for free and I thought I might as well play this first to find out what actually happened to Desmond, so here I am. For the record, I’ve played all of the previous titles except Revelations. I didn’t intend to play this one either but you can’t beat the price of free.

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Logan (2017)

I don’t have much love for Fox Studios’ stewardship of the X-Men intellectual property and skipped out on their last film. I was prepared to give this one a miss as well but a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and rave comments on Broken Forum made it impossible to ignore. In the end I found this to be a decent action movie but I would consider it to be more of a missed opportunity than anything else.

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The Blue Kite (1993)

This one was once again an entry selected by my wife by a director belonging to China’s Fifth Generation of filmmakers, Tian Zhuangzhuang. This is the first time I’ve watched one of his films and he seems less internationally known than his peers but The Blue Kite seems to be a highly regarded film and predictably was banned in China following its release due to its critique of the policies of Mao Zedong.

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The unexamined life is a life not worth living