Sunday, January 15, 2012

Brad's Week In Dork! (1/8/12-1/14/12)

After last week's rather quiet 2012 introductory Week in Dork, I definitely cranked it up to 11 for this one.  First off, I watched a ton of movies!  My folks got me the Extended Blu Rays of The Lord of the Rings for Christmas and I finally cracked those gorgeous flicks open.  I had not seen those cuts since the initial standard def releases and I gotta say that I had a grand old time with the blus.

I also scored a copy of Darwyn Cooke's Parker Martini Edition from Big Planet Comics and I've been devouring that bad boy since Wednesday.  Such a beautiful book, but more on that later.

And then on Saturday, Matt and I traveled down to Baltimore for Geppi's Entertainment Museum (scroll down for photos) and back to DC for an excellent screening of Corman's World at the West End Cinema.


Justified Season 2 Episodes 8-13:  Finished up the second season at the start of the week.  Still love this show so darn much.  Similar to the first season, the show starts off with several semi-standalone shows depicting various Crimes of the Week.  But by the halfway point, the season arc involving the contemptuous clan of pot growers, The Bennetts is in full swing and the countdown to another shoot 'em up bloodbath is devilishly exquisite.  The villains this season were top notch.  Margo Martindale as the murderous matriarch Mags Bennett was just outstanding; her final moments of screentime managed to be both scary as hell and downright sad.  And Jeremy Davies as Dickie Bennett is a far cry from his mathematician barge dweller in LOST.  But we all know the true joys of this show come from the confrontations between Olyphant's quick draw marshall and Walton Goggins morally murky Boyd Crowder.  Their encounters in the second season definitley do not disappoint.

How I Met Your Mother Season 6:  Over the course of the week, The Wife and I watched through last season's How I Met Your Mother.  I'm not completely in love with this show, but it's something fun to pass time with the little lady.  I wouldn't even bring it up here in the Week in Dork if not for the exception of Kyle MacLachlan's rather weirdo turn as The Captain, a man with a simultaneous happy smile and a terrifying, scary ass stare.  The results are all very sitcomy but as far as sitcoms go, How I Met Your Mother is one of the better ones.  And there are only so many Nic Cage movies you can force upon your wife.


The Lord of the Rings--The Fellowship of the Ring:  Having grown up in the dark times of the 1980s where you had to find your love for Fantasy Adventure in the Deathstalker and Barbarian Queen films, and where the absolute highlight was Conan The Barbarian and Dragonslayer, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was, and still is, an absolute revelation. Splatstick madman Peter Jackson made a thankfully serious epic; the first film remains my favorite of the trilogy with the insignificant Hobbit Frodo Baggins leaving the comfort of The Shire to escort The One Ring to its destruction at Mount Doom. And The Lord of the Rings for me does not get as emotionally devastating as it does at this film's climax (*SPOILERS* for a ten year old film), with The Fellowship broken and Frodo & Sam pushing on into the marsh with the corruption of the Ring making its toll. The Highest of High Fantasy film.

Crank 2 High Voltage:  Crank 2 is the single best bit of exploitation cinema in the last thirty years. *Drop Mic, walk off stage* If you have not seen this movie than do yourself a favor and check it out--immediately! You might hate it. You might love it. But you have never seen a film like it. The insanity unleashed by writer/directors Neveldine & Taylor is simply mind-blowing. From the blink & you'll miss them decapitated flying heads crack house fight, to the Jason Statham Godzilla Showdown, to the unbelievable race track static electricity sex sequence--Crank 2 is an all-out assault on your PC sensibilities. AND IT IS HORRIFYINGLY OFFENSIVE! Never has such a beautiful abomination existed and I cannot imagine a Crank 3 living up to such ridiculous expectations, but I say bring IT! Neveldine/Taylor.

The Expendables:  Hard R 80s Action is Back With A Vengeance! The plot is Commando basic: Bruce Willis hires Sly & The Boys to go down to some imaginary Island dictatorship to kill art critic Eric Roberts. This leads to orgasmic explosions, endless splattery gunfire, and bloody limbs akimbo! I'm guessing you have to be a certain age and a certain kind of filmfan to fully appreciate the joy of The Expendables, but if you think "Let Off Some Steam Bennett" is a way cooler catchphrase than "Play It Again Sam" well then, this is the film for you. Come on! Dolph Lundgren wailing on Jet Li!!!! It doesn't really get much better than that.

Dune:  Finally watched this while keeping up with The Auteur Cast's current series on David Lynch.  It's definitely a beautiful mess of a movie. Having never read the novel, this feels like an everything and the kitchen sink adaptation with too many cooks in the kitchen, and a sense of too-intense gravitas or importance to the source material. The production is top notch with some gorgeous grande Flash Gordon set design, but the incessant multiple POV narration and the skimmed over minor characters definitely distract from the narrative. But it's a good-old-time and totally worth the watch; you have to see the worms, you have to see the revolting & levitating Barron, and you have to see Sting's Giger briefs.

The Lord of the Rings -- The Two Towers:  The Fellowship is scattered across Middle Earth: Merry & Pippin in the hands of the orcs, Aragorn Legalos & Gimli on their trail, and Frodo & Sam marching on to Doom. The Two Towers feels very much like a middle film, but that's also its greatest strength.  This is where the saga gains its weight; this is where despair becomes an option for our heroes, but thankfully we've got Sam & Aragorn to battle for hope--AND we've got the visuals of cinema's greatest battle, Helm's Deep. Plus, the introduction of the sad, treacherous Gollum and with it the talent of Andy Serkis.

Norwegian Ninja:  "Let's Beat The Shit Out Of Those Who Mess With The Norwegian Way of Life!" Uh...uh...yeah...this movie is capital C capital R capital A capital Z capital Y. Even in this golden age of bent Scandinavian cinema like TrollHunters and Rare Exports, Norwegian Ninja is the king of the whackjob hill. Basically, sometime in the early 1980s the Norwegian government was at war with itself and only the real life diplomat Arne Treholt and his secret Ninja Force can bring enlightenment to the people. Along the way, will wunderkind Bumblebee win Ninja of the Year or will it go to the devilish Black Pete? Pack your smoke bombs and prepare yourself for some brilliant mondo cinema.

The Lord of the Rings -- The Return of the King:  The concluding chapter in The Lord of the Rings is easily my least favorite of the three, but that's not to say it's a weak movie. The deteriorating depiction of the weight of the Ring on Frodo, Sam, and Gollum is incredibly emotional and by the time the trio holds it above the fires of Mount Doom you are totally invested in the plight of each.  And before you get there you have the terrifying lair of Shelob and Sam's heroic stance. But half of the film is the epic battle for Minas Tirith, which is AWEsome--but at the same time doesn't quite strike the chord that The Two Towers' climactic Helm's Deep assault does. And *spoilers* The Shire is just a little too hunky dory an ending for such a savage quest. But those are nitpicks. At the end of the day, Peter Jackson crafted one of the finest of cinematic epics.

The Guard:  Billed as a Don Cheadle fish-outta-water story, The Guard is actually a brilliant starring turn from Brendan Gleeson as an "unorthodox" Irish cop who stumbles his way through some fairly serious international drug trafficking shenanigans.  What I appreciate about the film is that it knows when to get serious and when to linger on a laugh. Thanks to Gleeson's sad, smartly-chisled performance The Guard hits its emotional beats with missing/assassinated husbands & loveless prostitute encounters, and still, the Cheadle stuff is a cracking good time.  But it's Gleeson's show.

Footloose:  2012 is where I'm going to finally tackle those personal unseen cinema classics like Gone With The Wind and Birth of a Nation. First up on the list though was Kevin Bacon's Footloose! Seriously, how have I gone 27 years without Footloose in my life!?!? The ridiculously serious saga of Bacon's city boy bringing Dance to the religious zealots of small town America personified by John Lithgow's soapbox preacher. If you want to understand the madness of the 1980s, Footloose is a pretty good place to start (and work your way up to American Psycho).

The Four Feathers:  And I watched this one to keep up with the always excellent Criterion Cast.  There are moments in this British war adventure that I found to be absolutely rousing (a pretend-mute John Clements guiding a blind Ralph Richardson out of the desert, the attack on Khartoum) but when all is said and done I found it rather difficult to keep my mind on task with the whos & whys of the plot. Maybe my head was just not in the right place for this 1939 technicolor exercise, but I just didn't care if Clements saved face with his heroic friends or not.

Lady Frankenstein:  Just awful, bad, bad, bad moviemaking. But gosh-darnit, I really enjoyed this cheap piece of Roger Corman exported Italian exploitation following the grossly sexualized body snatching ways of Dr. Frankenstein's (Joseph Cotton!) daughter. The Monster, sorta at the center of the movie, has to be one of the clumsiest incarnations of the iconic creation tripping and stumbling all over the shrubbery, gently shoving people to their doom. Again, this is not a good movie. But it has its charm.

Corman's World:  A wonderful celebration of one of my many Dork Heroes, Corman's World is a kinda standard talking heads documentary that definitely plastered a smile on my face for it's entire runtime. If you are at all a fan of genre cinema or the highbrow art of folks like Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich, Jonathan Demme, and Steven Spielberg than you gotta check this gem out. Personally, I just appreciate how this film shouts to the mountain tops that films like Humanoids From The Deep, Bucket of Blood, The Intruder, and Rock n Roll High School have serious (entertainment) value. The interviews are pure joy with surprising bits of emotional weight from Scorsese and Jack Nicholson. But there is a moment toward the end where Roger's producing partner/wife is shabbily tying a bow tie around his neck and she says something to the effect of, "There is delight in disorder." And there is another bit in which Ron Howard in mid-recall of his Corman education states something akin to, "You know how Disney films can make you feel like a kid again...exploitation films can do that too." Yeah, that is starting to get to the kernel of why I love Roger Corman so damn much.

The Velvet Vampire:  A trippy, weird, and not terribly-good (or bad) movie about a strangely unattractive married couple (sorry Michael Blodgett & Sherry Miles) who fall prey to the desert dealings of Celeste Yarnell's Velvet Vampire...yeah I don't know what that means either.  The film is chockablock with nonsensical dialog that left me scratching my head when I wasn't downright laughing.  Fun, but no way am I gonna remember a single thing about this come next week.


Parker The Martini Edition:  If you've been following this blog at all than you know I am a huge fan of Richard Stark's Parker series of crime novels.  And I am a huge fan of Darwyn Cooke's adaptations of both The Hunter and The Outfit.  Well, IDW has collected both books into one fancy schmancy Slipcased Edition that will set you back $75, unless you know how to work the system.  But it is well worth the expensive price tag.  Besides the extra large presentation of the two original books, you also get an extensive Richard Stark discussion between Cooke and fellow comic crime scribe Ed Brubaker, a new short Cooke adaptation of the final scene from Stark's The Seventh, and oodles & oodles of art depicting the various cinematic incarnations of Parker.  Honestly, each of these pieces belongs as their own prints:  Check 'em out.


Geppi's Entertainment Museum:  I'd been wanting to check this place out for years.  I don't know why it took so long, especially with all my annual trips to the Baltimore Comic Con but I finally breached the hallowed walls of Geppis!  It's not a massive museum.  Just one floor with 8 rooms and a gift shop.  But it's decked out with all kinds of goodies.

A Story in Four Colors was easily my favorite room in the whole place.  I could stare at the covers of all the Big Little Books all day long.  G-Men, Kit Carson, The Green Hornet, Lil Abner, Lightning Jim.  Gorgeous pulpy covers with some of the finest bits of dynamic violence.

In the third room, Extra! Extra!, you can get up close and personal with The Yellow Kid, the first comic superstar.  Look at him hawk cigarettes, booze, ginger wafers, and hardware!

 I could go on and on about Geppis, but this Week in Dork is already hellaciously long.  Look for another blog post with more photos later this day...or week.


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