Man, this was a crazy Week in Dork. Started it off at my folks house for their (forced upon by me) 84th Academy Awards party and like usual, I enjoyed that red carpet nonsense much more than I probably should. The rest of the week was spent mostly cranking out the usual whacky eclectic collection of cinema's oddest and it climaxed with an intense bit of internet nerd warfare for San Diego Comic Con tickets.
And over at cineAWESOME! I completed my first run of Western Reviews. I've been having a blast with these movies and it's been fun traveling through the genre decade by decade, starting with the 1940s of The Ox-Bow Incident to the 2000s of Seraphim Falls. This week cineAWESOME! is taking part in the Korean Blogathon and I'll be contributing with my review for The Good The Bad The Weird and maybe The Man From Nowhere. I'd love to get my hands on some more Manchurian Westerns but that's proving to be rather difficult.
TV OF THE WEEK!
The 84th Academy Awards: My thoughts on The Oscars...it's bullshit. And they've been bullshit from the very first show in 1929 when William Wellman's Wings took Best Picture. Sure, having now seen that film I can say that it's a wonderful movie, but Fritz Lang's Metropolis is a damn masterpiece and it wasn't even nominated. So, now that we call all agree that the Academy Awards have always been bullshit than we can just get over ourselves and enjoy the silliness of the event. At it's best, The Oscars provide the opportunity for Film Dorks like myself to talk movies with other folks that usually don't seem to care. The week leading up to the ceremony was a blast at work as all my coworkers debated the merits of The Artist vs. Hugo vs. The Descendants vs. whathaveyou. There seems to be a lot of backlash out there these days for the French Silent and whether Harvey Weinstein bought the award or not is irrelevant. The Artist is a damn good time at the movies, and like last year's Kings' Speech, it might not have been the movie I would have gone with I was certainly happy with its win. And when was the last time that The Year's Best Film actually took home Oscar anyway? 1993 with Unforgiven, that's when. And when you consider that awful dreck like Crash, Chicago, and Titanic have taken the award in recent past I think we got off pretty lucky. As far as the rest of the winners, haven't seen The Iron Lady yet and probably never will so I can't tell you if Streep deserved it or not, but like Alec Baldwin says you can't really hate on that lady for winning anything--she's The Streep. I do wish Clooney had taken the big boy home, but I guess the Academy was happy enough with his Supporting Win for Syrianna from a few years back.
The Walking Dead "18 Miles Out": This was probably my favorite episode of The Walking Dead this season. Rick & Shane have to travel 18 Miles Out from The Farm to dump the captive Randall out into the zombie infested world. The ep provided for some serious philosophical battle between the two former Best Buds and even though the story certainly didn't resolve their conflict it brought it to a boiling point that's impossible to cool down from here. As the show reaches for it's season climax I don't think it will end with them chummy chummy. One of these guys is gonna die. And "18 Miles Out" also showed off some pretty fantastic Ernest Dickerson (Tales Form The Crypt: Demon Knight!) direction and lots of KNB gross, gross, gross zombie makeup.
Supernatural "Repo Man": Aw man. When are we getting back to the Leviathans?!?! And how about Castiel!?!? We know he's not dead, get on with it! Instead, this episode decided to reintroduce the crazy Sam storyline with Mark Pellegrino's Lucifer still putzing about his frustrated melon. I love Pellegrino and I'm all for more appearances but this just feels like an arc we should have been done with seasons back. Let's get focused on the war with Dick Roman's evil turduckens!
Justified "The Man Behind The Curtain": After last week's extremely mediocre turn, this episode was definitely a bit of a step up but not much. I love you Justified, but you're better than this filler stuff. Yes, it's nice to see the Neal McDonough's Quarles character expanded upon and I love that last bit with him and Gary at the bar. And it's cool to see Supernatural's Jim Beaver starting to find a home in Boyd Crowder's plan for Harlan County Survival. But will this season be able to bring all these dispirit elements together for an explosive climax of badassery? Probably. This is Justified, after all.
MOVIES OF THE WEEK!
Seraphim Falls: "He ain't going nowhere. We let him bleed." Liam Neeson pursues Pierce Brosnan from the snowy death of the Ruby Mountains to the barren deserts of the Wild West below; this is an excellent Revenge Chaser backed up by a couple of vicious performances from its two leads, and if it didn't falter with an annoying flashback explanation and the unnecessary weird western appearances of Wes Studi & Angelica Huston than Seraphim Falls would rank as one of the Westerns recent Bests. As is, this is a solid genre entry that can probably be credited as the beginning of Neeson's recent trend of badassery. Again, to read further thoughts on this rage filled Western, check out cineAWESOME!
Take Shelter: As a longtime fan of Michael Shannon's particular brand of insanity, Take Shelter is a tremendous treat in which we witness Shannon's possibly delusional family man fight himself, his wife, and the entire town in preparation for the Great Weather Apocalypse. A tremendously uncomfortable film to watch, you should be in the right/prepared mind before consumption. And yeah, I'm still mulling over those last couple of seconds--if you've seen it and want to chat it out with a fellow Shannon-o-phile, let me know. And yeah, Shea Whigham is still all kinds of awesome even in the disposable best bud role here. "Whoa."
Dream House: Gah. Such a waste of talent. Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts, and Elias Koteas come together for the most rudimentary of ghost/crazy guy/murder mysteries/whatever. All put in solid work...except for the screenwriter who pulls out his Connect-The-Dots DIY guide to spooky shenanigans and delivers a film barely worth the time of this mini-review. Shame. Yawn.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: When the narrative is not muddled with unnecessary third party love interests and anti-fish terrorist attacks, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a sweet little romance between Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt hooked on an enjoyably cutie British high concept. And I found great pleasure in Amr Waked's visionary sheik and his happily hopeful outlook on humanity. Lasse Hallstrom definitely scores some big smiles, but again, what's with the assassination attempts and the soldier boy heartstring manipulations? Eye roll.
Rampart: Director Oren Moverman teams up with the hateful scripting of James Ellroy for a furious look into the life of the "most corrupt cop you've seen on screen" (so claims the trailer, and they're not far off the mark but I'd like to point out Street Trash's Bill the Cop). Rampart is a hard film to watch. Harrelson continues a streak of undeniably powerful performances, but as his life spirals out of control and into horrid techno club burrito feasting and Ben Foster beatings I also found myself failing to connect on an emotional level. The man is scum, and no one writes scum better than Ellroy but it misses the spark found in the heinous characters of his novels. Still, that burrito...gross.
Coriolanus: "Make You A Sword of Me!" Ralph Fiennes stars and directs in this lesser known Shakespeare adaptation (I certainly had never read or seen the play before this viewing) and delivers a fine bit of Hate Cinema. Fiennes is a beast, and when he rages upon the citizens or beats upon a blood soaked Gerard Butler I found myself crawling up into my seat; the savagery of the words is more violent than any of the ferocious attacks. Brian Cox is plenty fun as the consigliere, but it's Vanessa Redgrave's conniving mother that steals most scenes when Fiennes is not present. But look at that poster stare above--f'ing terrifying.
Fit To Kill: "How Can I Kill Such A Beautiful Creature?" "Just Think Of The Money." Dona Speir passes the Lethal Lady torch to Julie Strain in her final Andy Sidaris outing and its typically wonderful in that special Malibu Express kinda way. In this T&A Adventure that ties into WWII's Valkyrie assassination plot to kill Adolf Hitler, Agents Donna and Roberta Vasquez must team up with Roger Moore's son RJ to fend of Strain's hitwoman and the Red Chinese. Yes, it's more of the same but that's a great plus, not a negative.
Enemy Gold: "This Is All We Dreamed Of As Kids! Yes!" From the crazed Valkyrie Diamond Heist plot of the last film to the crazy Quantrill's Lost Treasure Plot of Enemy Gold, Andy Sidaris seems to enjoy butchering history along with his heaps of random T & A. Donna Speir & her regular cohorts are gone, replaced by Julie Strain's Bad Girl and Suzi Simpson's bear-phobic agent--Becky Midnight! Bruce Penhall is still around, but I miss the old gang. Still, Enemy Gold has all the awkward dialog and even awkwarder sex scenes to pass time in front of the late night boob tube.
Hannie Caulder: Wildly uneven in tone, Hannie Caulder goes from horrific rape sequence to goofy sexualized Raquel Welch bathing...but I gotta admit, that's part of the film's cheesy charm. Robert Culp rocks a wicked beard as the bounty hunter who schools Welch in the ways of shoot 'em up vengeance and Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam, & Strother Martin are The Three Stoogeiest batch of comical violators you've ever encountered. Hannie Caulder does contain one very cool bandit showdown involving (again, beaded) Christopher Lee and a mysterious, unknowable stranger. But at the end of the day the collision of comedy & rape keeps Hannie Caulder from being anything more than an oddity.
Frankenstein Conquers The World: Question: "Does He Really Eat Dogs and Cats?" Answer: Yes. After the Hiroshima bomb turns a halfbreed child into a giant Frankenstein Monster that smashes all over Japan until the army wakes up Baragon, a Godzilla like Unicorn tunnel rat that loves to squash puppet horses when he's not breathing fiery radiation. Definitely one of the better Kaiju movies, Frankenstein Conquers The World seems to have been written by a five year old me--and then a boar attacks and then the forrest is on fire and then a volcano erupts and then this happened and that happened. So much silly fun.
Justice League Doom: The animation looks nice and it's a solid voice cast, but Doom takes Mark Waid's cool concept from the Tower of Babel comic and delivers a basic punch 'em up actioner. The whole idea that Batman is the reason for all of the Justice League's super villain problems is barely glanced over and I left the film with about as much enthusiasm as I had for the weak Batman/Superman outings and craving the New Frontier and Wonder Woman good stuff. Come on, DC Animated, you're better than this.
War of the Gargantuas: "You still want to wet nurse that monster?" This sequel (if you say so) to Frankenstein Conquers The World opens with a green gargantuan man battling it out with a giant octopus to the catastrophe of an innocent Japanese sailing vessel. From there the green Gargantua heads for land and proceeds to battle it out with a brown Gargantua as Russ Tamblyn's scientist tries to figure out what it all means: brother vs borther...it's a lot like countries vs countries...yeah, sure Russ. If yer in the mood to watch two dudes in rubber suits wrestle each other over model cities than War of the Gargantuas will fit the bill just fine, but if you're looking for something a bit more wacky/zany than stick with Frankenstein. VF.
COMIC OF THE WEEK!
The Last Musketeer by Jason: After devouring Jason's I Killed Adolf Hitler I was recommended The Last Musketeer by the fine folks over at Big Planet Comics and it far exceeded my expectations. Athos of the The Three Musketeers is still puttering around a modern France; no one wants to share a drink with him and his buddy Aramis has a few dollars of pity for him but not the the time to spare on his adventures. But then Ming the Merciless invades France and it's up to Athos to do battle for the King and introduce cigarettes to the Martians. The Last Musketeer is an odd trip for sure, but if you're a fan of Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neal's literary riffing than you should also enjoy this kooky bit of mondo. And it has gobs of charm bursting from its pages. I definitely need more Jason in my life.
WARFARE OF THE WEEK!
San Diego Comic Con 2012 Tickets: Yep, last year's battle for Comic Con tickets was definitely more frustrating than this year, what with all the multiple days of website crashes and the like, but at least last year I was able to score Badges for all four days. This year, Comic Con smoothed things out a little better with Member IDs and email links--but that damn link didn't work and I was floundering around for a couple minutes before Facebook friendlies pointed me in the direction of the proper working link on Comic Con's actual website. In those few moments of floundering I lost my opportunity to snag all four days and came away after an hour of internet line waiting with just Thursday and Sunday badges. Lame. But I'm still more than happy. Having now been to Comic Con just once, I want to go every year for the rest of my life. It's Dork Mecca, and during those four days there's no happier place on Earth than San Diego. So I'll take part in the quieter days this year. And I'll travel across the country to do so. Madness? You're damn right.