Hello and once again welcome to Mars. Interestingly, the Mars newsletter itself seems to be growing in popularity. I'm getting more requests for it all the time, and now it will also be featured on the Black Petals website. Just like the Energizer Bunny, it just keeps going and going.
May 1st marks the second most important holiday in the Wiccan/Pagan calendar known as Beltane and also referred to as Roodmas. Beltane is largely the ancient Celtic celebration marking natures return to life and the return of fertility after winter. According to most of the evidence, Beltane was most likely celebrated around the end of April, but modern pagans tend to celebrate it on May Day or May Eve. The word itself literally means "bright fire" and refers to the great bonfires lit to ensure the protection of the herd. It was common to ritually drive the cattle herd between two great bonfires to both purify and protect the herd from the evil eye. The most common belief about Beltane is that is was held to honor the Celtic equivalent of Apollo, known as Belenus, but evidence of this is sketchy at best.
First for the good news. Recently, on my night off, I decided to rent some videos and was thrilled to see Steven Speilbergs A.I.-Artificial Intelligence (Universal Home Entertainment) the project most notably known as the one the late Stanley Kubrick was working on when he died, then to be inherited by Speilberg. Based on a story by Brian Aldiss, the film follows a small robot boy, David, (Haley Joe Osment in a great performance) who has been rejected by his flesh-and-blood parents after their own mortal child is resurrected from cryogenic freeze. Hearing the story of Pinocchio, the andriod child begins a quest, looking for the Blue Fairy, whom he believes can make him mortal, too.
On his adventures he encounters broken-down robots that resemble the living dead in an Italian Zombie movie, as well as anti-robot thugs, and finally a mechanical male hustler named Gigolo Joe (Jude Law). Even though A. I. is somewhat darker in tone than most Speilburg fantasy films, like the similar E. T. it still has his trademark situation of people drawn together through love and companionship. Towards the end the film moves towards the feel of the great science fiction epics of Olaf Stapleton, with alien visitors finally coming to Earth, only to find David among the frozen ruins. With really dazzling effects and huge, wonderful, futuristic imagery, A. I. should become a Sci-Fi classic if it's not already. Recommended.
And now for the bad-I mean Really BAD. After the monumental success of Peter Jackson's film Lord of The Rings, I decided to purchase his earliest film, known as Bad Taste, (Anchor Bay). Well, the title alone should have warned me, but I could not have guessed what an ugly, sick little film this would be. The plot pretty much consists of flesh-eating aliens, come to New Zealand looking for human fast food and getting mauled themselves. Look, I'm no prude about gore and splatter, but this flick left me feeling about half sick, with its blasted heads, guts, vomit scenes and just disgusting images that would sicken De Sade. Jackson seems eager to make the audience puke. To be avoided like a big ol' batch of the clap. For a far more entertaining sci-fi horror comedy, buy or rent Tim Burton's groovy Mars Attacks, which is better-made and, well, just a lot more fun than this other sick garbage.