Saturday, February 4, 2012

Brad's Week in Dork! (1/29/12-2/4/12)

Alright.  Not sure how I did it, but I watched a crap ton of movies and television.  And I read a bunch of comic books this week.  In fact, I've read more comics this week than I did all of last year.  That's kinda depressing.  But it's also a glimpse of what's to come.

Started the week off mostly in TV Land with Twin Peaks.  So much fun watching that show with the wife.  And I completed another Western Review for Cineawesome with the Shatneriffic, The Outrage.  Matt & I were lucky enough to score advance preview passes for The Woman in Black.  It was fun watching that flick with a bunch of screaming preteens who apparently never seen a jump scare movie before, and the theater fed us cupcakes throughout the runtime which was surreal but enjoyable.

And Drive hit blu ray and I managed to pick over every aspect of that disc.  So much fun, no matter what the little lady thinks of that movie.

What I didn't do this week was take full advantage of my Netflix account.  All I watched from them was The Hangover Part II and Abduction and those were less than satisfying experiences.  I've had Pusher 1 & 2 sitting on my table for more than a week now and I would have thought I would have consumed them sometime after Drive, but it just didn't play out that way.  Oh well, will have to get to those two flicks in the next couple of days.  And I think I have Texas Killing Fields coming in Monday.


Twin Peaks Episode 8-18:  The Wife and I spent the first few days of the week pretty much glued to the television as we blitzed through the second season of Twin Peaks.  Folks seem to believe that the show goes downhill during the second season, but for me this is where the show really takes off and it's a damn shame that it never got a third season.  As the Laura Palmer mystery comes to a close (or at least there's as much resolution as a show like this can offer) and Ray Wise becomes the hero & villain of the Twin Peaks saga, and as Agent Cooper sees contact from the craziest assortment of G-Men (director David Lynch himself, Clarence Williams III, and David "Denise" Duchovny) I find my sentimentality for this nutty town deepening.  Nadine's super strength wrestling try outs.  The Owls not being what they seem.  And Bob, Bob, Bob.  I only wish that the wife's schedule and mine had met up more often towards the end of the week so that we could have finished the show and got on with the inevitably disappointing prequel movie.  But I'm guessing we'll get all that taken care of next week.

Justified Season 3 Episode 3 "Harlan Roulette":  My least favorite episode of the season so far still makes for some fantastic television.  You kinda have this standalone story involving Pruitt Taylor Vince's oxy peddling pawn broker turning James LeGros' junkie against Timothy Olyphant's Raylan, but it also ties into Neal McDonough's mysterious Dixie Mafia goon.  McDonough had at least one great smiley moment in the episode and the promise of his villainy is growing.  But for me this episode was all about Walton Goggins and the formulation of his showdown with Limehouse.  And then there's poor Dickie (please, the guy's still a murderous asshole who deserves what's coming to him) caught in the middle.  As the Justified Cast has brought up on a couple of occasions, there are a lot of balls up in the air but I have confidence in the show runners that they're going to land in all the right places.


The Outrage:  Fans of Akira Kurosawa's original Rashoman might need a few minutes to adjust to this Western remake, but the quicker you accept its existence the quicker you'll be rewarded by the execution of this fine retelling. While they wait for a train, three men (William Shatner, Edward G Robinson, & Howard Da Silva) discuss what is fact and what is fiction regarding the trial of Mexican bandit, Paul Newman. Director Martin Ritt does his darndest to ape Kurosawa's grande vision, and even if it reads more as pale imitation than originality at least he manages to keep it looking pretty. Besides, it's all well-worth it for the performances.  More gushing can be found at Cineawesome!

The Hangover Part II:  Maybe, just maybe, if there were not already a Hangover Part 1 than Hangover Part 2 would be just a tad humorous in that yo 'bro popped collar kinda way, but since this sequel manages to add almost nothing to this ridiculously popular franchise than I cannot give it any real props whatsoever. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifanakis are disgustingly sleazy in their Wolf Pack and their shenanigans hold humor in the moment but are best left forgotten the second the credits roll.

The Woman in Black:  The first film from the New Hammer to feel like the Old Hammer, The Woman In Black has a frustratingly typical ghost story narrative but is draped in a pretty period setting and performed well by its key players. Daniel Radcliffe proves that he can reach out beyond Hogwarts and I think he should have no problem leaving Harry Potter behind. And Ciaran Hinds is welcomely warm as the long grieving father taken with Radcliffe's London outsider. Still, after startling crow scare after startling crow scare leading to popping over-shoulder ghosts after popping over-shoulder ghosts...this jump scare porn gets a little tired.  Enjoyable, but nothing special.

Drive:  After a second viewing, Drive has not wavered as a new favorite crime story. Director Nicholas Winding Refn and his actors pear everything down to the emotional bone. Gosling's Driver speaks very little, but communicates seething rage with tightly wound fists and strong, deliberate gestures. And Albert Brooks is SCARY AS HELL as the cutlery loving mini gangster, suffering the bravado of chest-puffer Ron Perlman. Tremendous fun. And it's beautifully crisp on blu ray. I want to grab my camera and capture my own stills.

Alpha Dog:  If you watch the documentary on the disc, it's obvious that the filmmakers felt it incredibly important to tell this story of upper class teenagers and the climactic predetermined murder. It's a sad story of damnation and definitely hard to watch thanks to a batch of young actors who throw themselves wholeheartedly into their roles...that being said, their bravado also rings Hollywood false to me or at least the film reaches levels of eye-rolling melodrama. I think that has less to do with the Justin Timberlakes, Emile HIrsches, Olivia Wildes, Amanda Heards, Anton Yelchins, Amanda Seyfrieds and more to do with the endless run of ridiculously ignorant Bruce Willis and Sharon Stone parents. I don't doubt that the parents of these gangsta youths were criminally negligent in their (lack of) parenting skills, but it reaches a point in the film where you just wish they'd stay the hell out. Sharon Stone's fatsuit monologue being the final nail in the "We Get It!" coffin. Ben Foster does have an impressively scaryass beatdown fight scene though.

Cold Mountain:  An epic war romance set within the framework of The Odyssey, Anthony Minghella's Cold Mountain capitalizes on the myriad cast of supporting players that periodically run paths with Jude Law's fleeing Confederate; with each new (and often doomed) encounter the Journey Quest becomes all the more grande. There seems to be quite a bit of Hate towards Renee Zellweger's farmgirl Ruby but if you can just freaking accept her exaggerated accent than I think you'll find a rather wonderful tale of friendship between her and Kidman. And speaking of Kidman, yes she's probably too old for the role, but I think she does a bangup job portraying youth and all its innocence, openness, and ignorance. And the confrantation between Brendan Gleeson's fiddle and Ray Winstone's guns? That is Amazing. And there are so many moments in this film that just reach out and strangle my heart. I love this movie. Great Western(Eastern), Civil War cinema with one of my favorite soundtracks.

The Nickel Ride:  In a similar vein to other 70s era slowburn crime dramas like The French Connection and The Friends of Eddie Coyle, The Nickel Ride follows Jason Miller's "Key Man" the owner and operator of several warehouses containing stolen mob goods. But when dealing with the mob you know that eventually your friends will become enemies; Magnum P.I.'s John Hillerman sets the Cadillac Cowboy Bo Hopkins after Miller and their inevitable collision will not conclude with good news for anyone involved. The Nickel Ride requires your attention, but it also delivers some fine bits of close-quarters violence--there's an elevator beatdown that fans of Drive will most certainly enjoy, and there is also a strangling sequence at the end that will have you sickies cheering. Seriously, how did Jason Miller follow up his Academy Award nominated turn in The Exorcist with this and not take over Hollywood. The Man is Badass.

Wings:  The very first Best Picture award winner, William Wellman's Wings is a thrilling silent filled with some of the best cinematic aviation I've encountered and easily ranks as one of my favorite films centered around The Great War. The story of two feuding, buddy-buddy pilots taking on the German armada as well as each other's women. Plenty of pre-code violence (and a little Clara Bow nudity) give the melodrama a quick pace, but even the not-so-talkie parts are a helluva lot more entertaining than anything found in the atrocious Flyboys.

Abduction:  It's not like I was a ever a real John Singleton fan or anything, but the man certainly can do better than this dreck starring the barely human Taylor Lautner; watching him attempt to act is a kind of cruelty not wished upon my most hated enemy. And weepy, sniffly Lilly Collins has to be one of the most annoyingly weak damsels in distress that I've seen in some time and I kept wishing for her dialogue/character to be snuffed. Pattinson and Stewart might make a career after Twilight goes belly up, but I seriously doubt/hope Shark Boy goes any further than the land of Direct To DVDs.

Boxcar Bertha:  Roger Corman gave Martin Scorsese his first big break behind the movie camera with this depression set exploitation cheapie starring Barbara Hershey as hobo hood Bertha. Partnering up with David Carradine, Barry Primus, and Bernie Casey Boxcar Bertha kills & sleeps her way to infamy cutting a bloody swath along the railroad. It might seem like lightyears from Hugo, but Scorsese's first flick shows heaps of visual promise and even larger globs of striking violence. Seriously, people need to give Bernie Casey more shotguns in film as that man can really tear it up and keep you glued to the seat as he blasts railway dicks outta the sky.

Bullitt:  You cannot deny Steve McQueen's King of Cool status when watching Bullitt...sure, it may not be my favorite McQueen flick (again, that's Tom Horn), but The Man is super cool TNT and you do not want to mess with his silent tough guy, Frank Bullitt. The film does not speed along--it cranks slowly as McQueen's detective navigates the murk of an organization hit and the sense of worthlessness in the hunt aggravates more often than thrills. However, that Frisco car chase is definitely epic, but, my favorite scene in the whole dang film is the climactic airport footchase with its countdown clock to doom and futility. Plus, Robert Vaughn, what a fantastic tool.

Malibu Express:  ‎"See This Body? This Body Is A Lethal Weapon. It Could Kill You Guys In A Second." Yowza. The first film in the Andy Sedaris Guns, Girls, & G-Strings collection does not disappoint if you're looking for flashes of random nudity every two minutes. Yep, I cannot remember the last film I saw a film that had as much chest-popping T & A as Malibu Express. Darby Hinton's man-ho private eye is either taking advantage of women or being taken advantage by women every other scene, and with shocker bits of narration like "Boy That Was A Really Horse Shit Trip To Palm Springs! I Got My Ass Whipped, My Borrowed Car Shot Up, And I Was Raped!" Andy Sedaris' horrible trashmaking will have your howling at the cheap antics.  And yes, I hate how much I enjoyed this movie.

Hard Ticket To Hawaii:  ‎"That Snake Has Been Infected By Deadly Toxins From Cancer Infested Rats--It's A Very Dangerous Snake!' Yes, this loose sequel to Malibu Express sees Cody's cousin Rowdy team-up with two buxom pilots as they tangle with a ruthless diamond hungry drug dealer and avoid a cancer filled snake on the lam from the Health Department. Andy Sedaris is obviously one crazy dude, but you've gotta enjoy the ridiculous heights/lows he'll take his characters so that their clothes fall off. My favorite bit, besides the cancer snake, is Rowdy's liberal use of a rocket launcher when taking out a deadly skateboarder.

Drive:  That's right.  Watched Drive two times in one week.  And it might be possible that I'm rethinking my Top Ten list for 2011.  Maybe Matt was right, maybe Drive was the Best Film of last year rather than the 3rd Best Film like originally conceived.  Ah, these lists are so silly.  But I enjoyed the heck outta my last viewing of this film.  It's such a quick movie.  Blink and it's over.  But Ryan Gosling is such an animal.  He tries to do something "right" by his code and messes everything up and then goes on a quick kill crazy rampage.  Bing Bang Boom Done.  Drive is definitely one of those movies where I'll be visiting multiple times a year from here on out.  It's just going to live with me.  As much as I loved Hugo and Attack The Block, will they have the same affect?  Time will tell.


Man, I read a lot of comics this week.  It helped that for five hours I was trapped in a room with nothing to do but read trade paperbacks.  That was a good time.  But as you'll see below, this week I drew further and further away from my former love, Marvel Comics.  Despite the awesome Cap panel above, Marvel did not have much to offer me this week.

Fatale Issues 1 & 2 by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips:  From the same creative team that's brought us Criminal and Gotham Central, I was expecting more of the same--absolutely brilliant comic book Noir--and what I got was...absolutely brilliant comic book Noir?  Yeah, but now they've injected their crime story with a healthy helping of what looks to be Lovecraftian terror.  At least there's one tentacled faced demon hiding in a WWII flashback panel.  It's hard to call something a classic after two issues, but I'm definitely excited to see where Brubaker takes this story.  Phillips continues to be the perfect fit for Bru's narrative and the first two covers are good enough to hang on the apartment wall.  It sucks to wait months for the next issue, so Fatale might just be better in trade but I also don't know if I can wait six months for it all to get collected.  Comic nerds have the toughest lives.

BPRD Hell on Earth "Russia":  Speaking of not being able to wait:  after finishing BPRD Hell On Earth Gods & Monsters last week I decided I couldn't wait for the Russia arc to be collected later this year and I snatched the 5 single issues off the shelf at Big Planet Comics.  And I'm glad I did.  Again, if you are not reading BPRD and you're reading dreck like Fear Itself (see below) than you're either a sadomasochist or you just don't know any better.  Russia sees the Bureau traveling to (you guessed it) Russia to aid their foreign counterparts in the investigation of some zombie shenanigans.  Not only has the Frog War left America in Volcanic ashes, but it also looks like the rest of the world is suffering some serious Mignolaverse monstrosities.  Guy Davis' art is sorely missed, but new artist Tyler Cook seems to have the chops to deliver some fairly disgusting horrors.  The addition of new bad (?) Iosif is intriguing, but definitely not as intriguing as who pops up at the Zinco headquarters.  No spoilers here, but longtime Hellboy fans will be quite pleased.

Captain America Volume 6, Issues 1-5 by Ed Brubaker & Steve McNiven:  Five years ago, if you had asked me what my favorite superhero comic was I would have said Ed Brubaker & Steve Epting's Captain America without a moment's hesitation.  The Death of Cap followed with the Rise of Bucky Cap storyline was just absolutely wonderful WWII/Espionage comic booking, and it pains me so much to see where Brubaker has taken Steve Rodgers to these days.  This latest relaunch with beautiful McNiven art is just bloody awkward.  What's the deal with all this dream bending nonsense?  Rodgers fighting giant Cap robots and dream dragons and goggled men in red spandex?  I can kinda handle that, but the America-Gone-Bye-Woe-Is-Congress motive is cringe worthy.  Shame.  I think I'll keep reading cuz that's just how much I used to like this title, but I'm only giving it one more trade.

Moon Knight by Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev:  I have a few coworkers that just went gaga over this new Bendis/Maleev Moon Knight, but I gotta say I just don't get it.  Sure, I'ver never been a big fan of this character and the whole multiple personality business has always rubbed me the wrong way, but now that Bendis has gotten his hands on Marc Spector...well, to say that I didn't respond well to these new split personalities is an understatement.  I love Maleev's dark arts and his partnership with Bendis produced my all time favorite Daredevil run, but this is just a big meh.  And yeah, I'm not really that bothered with its cancellation.  One positive, I dig this Buck Lime sidekick.  Bring him back for more SHIELD antics.

Fear Itself:  So maybe I'm just sick of Marvel.  House of M, Civil War, Secret Invasion, Siege, and now Fear Itself.  Each of these cross universe events have gotten perpetually worse as far as I'm concerned.  And this story of Red Skull's daughter Sin dropping the Hammers of Asgard upon Earth Mightiest Heroes & Villains was just silly.  Maybe, just maybe, it provides for some nifty imagery involving a psychotically neon Juggernaut but is that worth all the nonsense of falling Buckys (again) and Thors (again)?  My answer is Hell No.  And I think I'm done with Marvel...can that be?  Have these three books left me so bitter?  It's probably just a temporary situation, give it time they'll become relevant to me again.

The Sixth Gun Book 1"Cold Dead Fingers":  Here's another comic in which it took some heavy cajoling from friends and coworkers before I gave it a bother.  And I'm glad I did.  Weird Westerns are so hard to pull off, and with the exception of Joe R Lansdale's Jonah Hex trades I don't think I've ever been fully satisfied with the the genre blending in comics.  The Sixth Gun is not serious pulp.  It's a touch goofier than I was expecting, but Brian Hurtt's art has that Michael Avon Oeming quality where his cartooning pulls of the grotesque as much as the silly stuff.  Book 1 sets up the story of Drake Sinclair and Becky Montcrief as they come into contact with Six mystical Shooters and the undead horde that wants control of them.  The horrors of the first trade focus mainly on the undead: your zombies, golems, and ghosts.  And even though the story seems to wrap up fairly neatly by the end I was quite excited to jump into the next adventure.

The Sixth Gun Book 2 "Crossroads":  And with the second volume of the story I was in love.  Drake, Becky, and Gord are all good buds hanging out in New Orleans.  But even though they survived The Battle of The Maw, they might not survive the treacherous hoodoo of the swamp.  Last trade we got zombies, golems (still have one of those), and ghosts and this trade we got man-eating monster alligators, monster owls, face-splitting giants, and gunslinging priests.  The Sixth Gun is just a lot of fun.  If you're looking for the Shakespearean tragedy of Deadwood than this is not for you, but if you're looking for a healthy dose of Robert Howard or Doc Savage with your oats than look no further.


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