American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Q. We went to see "Junior" and got into a big argument afterwards. In the movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger is artificially implanted with a human egg, and becomes pregnant. Is this possible? (Joe Rogers, Chicago)
A. Strangely enough, it might be. According to Victoria Weisenberg, an instructor at the St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing, in Evanston, such an event would be known as an ectopic pregnancy: "The zygote, or egg, has little extensions named trophoblasts that implant on the womb wall. In one well-known case involving an Austrian woman with a hysterectomy, the attachment was to her abdominal wall, and the embryo was able to develop. It has not happened yet with a man, but is theoretically possible."
Q. Who would win in a fight to the finish? Batman, or Superman? (Steve Kass, Chicago)
A. Superman, of course, since Batman is only human and the Man of Steel has superhuman qualities. If Batman used Kryptonite, however, that would of course tilt the balance. But the Answer Man began wondering about other superheroes, and when your question was presented to famed science fiction creator George Alec Effinger, he responded: "I was a Marvel comics writer back in the early '70s, and there was (and may still be) a definite hierarchy of who could beat up whom. Thor was tops, being a god, and then it went (if my memory is right) Hulk, Spiderman, Thing (and so on; Hulk and Spiderman may have been reversed). I used to match up the Marvel and DC versions of similar characters: Batman vs. Daredevil, Submariner vs. Aquaman (oh boy, spot Aquaman two touchdowns and a field goal), Hawkeye vs. Green Arrow, etc. Then I became much too literary to care about such things. Sure, you bet."
Q. My wife and I are often disappointed when viewing a movie on TV because we can not understand much of what the actors are saying. It seems they make a minimum effort to enunciate. When we watch an old movie, vintage 1930's and 40's, it is a joy to listen to the actors speak and be understood. In addition to the mumbling there is often background noise that drowns out much of what is being said. Have you noticed this yourself? (E. John Berger, Mission Viejo, CA)
A. I have indeed. So has David J. Bondelevitch or the CompuServe ShowBiz Forum, who writes: "One reason that dialog intelligibility was so high in the 30s and 40s was that virtually everything was shot on a soundstage. Now, for realism, virtually everything is shot on location, so you get a lot more background noise."
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A review of Netflix's new series, Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events," which premieres January 13.