Monthly Archives: July 2017

James Holland reviews Dunkirk

History writer (fiction and non-fiction) James Holland reviews Dunkirk, and asks, does historical accuracy matter? This is a great piece, although long. In reality, the “Little Ships” that were the heroes of Dunkirk were a big part of the legend, but only a small part of the actual rescue effort. But still, at least it happened. Hollywood has done a lot worse with history.

I haven’t seen the movie yet. From this review, I am both intrigued and disappointed to learn that the size of the spectacle was limited because director Christopher Nolan has an aversion to CGI. It’s funny when you realize that the movie was still converted to digital for distribution.

A minor nit:

Tom Hardy’s pilot also seems to have an inexhaustible supply of ammunition – I counted around 70 seconds’ worth in all – when in reality Spitfires and Hurricanes both had 14.7 seconds in which to shoot down enemy aircraft.

This is very common in nearly all action movies. The typical machine gun doesn’t have nearly as much ammunition as you’d think. This should be less forgivable in historical movies, in that much of the audience expects to learn what it was actually like.

Another smoking font

Some readers may recall the 2004 “Rathergate” scandal when CBS News ran a story about President George W. Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard during the late ’60s/early ’70s. Dan Rather was given a letter supposedly from Bush’s commanding officer with various gripes about his service. It went on the air with insufficient scrutiny.

As I remember the story, somebody commented on a message board that the letter looked like it was written with a modern-day word processor instead of an old typewriter. Someone else then went through the trouble of printing one out and it turned out to be an exact match for the default settings of Microsoft Word. The story went viral, and that was that. Dan Rather fought on, but the truth was too funny to ignore.

A similar problem is now getting the Prime Minister of Pakistan in hot water. His three kids had been named in last year’s Panama Papers leak. As a way of explanation, they denied it, showing paperwork dated 2006.

The trouble is, the documents were printed in a Calibri font, which was not sold until 2007.

This isn’t as obvious a slip-up as the one that got Dan Rather. It depends on how hard they can press this. The truth doesn’t always matter in politics or the media. We’ll have to see.

It’s interesting to think that Dan Rather and his forger may have pulled it off if only the perp had thought of switching to a Courier font with left-justified text. Someone might still have figured out the deception, just as now in Pakistan, but the truth might not have gotten as far.

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation coming to TV (maybe)

That is, if we’re lucky. Contracts have not yet been signed.

Via David Brin, linking to an article on SyFy (which is not necessarly where the show would appear):

Screenwriter/showrunner David S. Goyer (the Dark Knight films and the upcoming Krypton TV series) will work with Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) to attempt to wrangle Foundation into something filmable — a task at which a number of others have failed.

Let’s hope this one works.

BBC Radio did a radio version of Foundation in 1973, now available here. I don’t remember ever having listened to it, but it’s now on my list. It should go without saying that I’ve read the books.