Really cranked it out this week. Between blitzing through The Wire, Double Featuring some Star Trek, re-obsessing over Hellboy, and finally getting a hold on some more Brave & The Bold Batman crack I don't know how I have time for a marriage as well as one of the crazier weeks on the job. Thankfully, I can still reach epic levels of dork watch in the wee hours of the morning, pounding one movie after the next. And where last week say my return to Daily Grindhouse with my Shatner's World review, this week I pushed my love for Corman's World. That documentary hits the street Tuesday and all you crazy Cormanites need to snag yourself the blu ray. I've watched it three times now and it still hits all the right trashy pleasure centers. And it inspired me to pick his first film, Five Guns West for this week's cineAWESOME! review. Need to track down Corman's other early cowboy picture, Apache Woman; if anyone has any ideas please let me know.
TV OF THE WEEK!
The Walking Dead "Besides the Dying Fire": I've had a lot of problems with AMC's The Walking Dead. It's got some serious peaks and valleys, and the season finale was no different. The show opens on the heels of last week's it's-about-time death sequence with a herd of zombies barring down on Hershel's Farm. Absolutely love seeing all these walkers gather and shuffle their way through the countryside and the resulting fiery assault was definitely thrilling if not confounding (seriously? Lets all get in our cars and circle wildly blasting/wasting ammunition?). However, the show introduces at least one element/image from the comic that I was not expecting to appear in this fairly grounded series and it brought a big ol' smile to my face. But what the hell is with Lori's reaction to her husband having to do what he had to do last week? Her shirking at his touch was infuriating. Yeah, I'm looking forward to next season but I'm hoping they can get some of these characters back to making sense.
Justified "Guy Walks Into A Bar": The show has seemed to flounder a little bit , but Raylan and Quarles' barroom confrontation had me on pins & needles. For about ten seconds I actually thought Quarles was gonna drop with a bullet in his head. Instead, the tension is released thanks to a barmaid with a shotgun, which actually drops Raylan in the sack. Good bye, Winona. The best bits for me come from the camaraderie between Quarles and his reluctant henchman Wayne Duffy--the poor bastard can only sit back and watch as his bossman brutalizes young chickens. Creepy Neal McDonough ass nudity.
Star Trek "Space Seed": Late in the week, my Mondo Gallery Tyler Stout print for Star Trek II arrived and I celebrated with an immediate double feature of Space Seed/Wrath of Khan. It had been far too long since I had watched any original series Trek and what this viewing of Space Seed proved to me was that I need to crack into the rest of my TOS blus. Ricardo Montalban definitely owns this episode with his guest spot as 1990s World War III dictator Khan Noonien Singh; his uber-masculinity date-raping his way to the heart of officer red head--"OPEN YOUR HEART" he bends her to his will and it's pretty darn scary. Thankfully Kirk's still there to throw down with the super man, knocking him out cold with whatever bit of engineering he can wrap his mitts around. Still, the Captain's gonna learn to regret just dumping the Botany Bay boys on Ceti Alpha Five...but more on that later.
Batman - The Brave and The Bold Season 2 Episodes 13-21: "Holy Neapolitan, Batman!" I fall more and more in love with this cartoon with each and every episode I see and the second part of the second season is no different. We've got Batman & Robin duking it out with The Rainbow Creature who's colorful rays affect the dynamic duo in multiple ways--Green turns ya floppy! Then there's the Plastic Man/Uncle Sam planetary team-up in which an alien race learns the joys of American Freedom via a sing-a-long Yankee Doodle Dandy! And don't even get me started on Ace The Bat Hound & Adam West's Protobot smackdown of the Black Mask's goons. MADNESS!!!! Beautiful, Wonderful Madness! If all you know of the Dark Knight is a brooding Christian Bale or the Republican Smasher of Frank Miller's graphic novel than do yourself a favor and revel in the silver age whackness of The Brave and The Bold.
The Wire Season 3: Another week another season of The Wire consumed. And it's the best season (and most painful) yet. The main plot returns to the major crimes division's investigation of Stringer Bell and Avon Barksdale, but for me the heart of this season rests with Robert Wisdom's Bunny. As the mayor's office pushes the department to keep the murder rate under 275, the Major starts to think creatively, asking his officers to ignore minor drug deals--to the point where they set up their own corner dubbed Amsterdam where drug dealers can sell without police concern. It's a fascinating experiment that naturally can't go well in the current political climate. The build of this season was typically intense for the series, and there was at least one death that knocked me flat on my back. However, it's Bunny's arc that elevated the show over your typical cops & robbers programming. And yeah, I gotta admit that The Wire has now become my favorite Crime Show. Better late than never.
MOVIES OF THE WEEK!
Five Guns West: "All I Got Left Is My Life, I Aim To Keep It." Roger Corman's first time behind the camera is not a revelation. But it's a solid, cheap Western. The Confederacy pardons five outlaws in an effort to free a Yankee stagecoach of its gold fortune. But most of the film is spent waiting...waiting...waiting...as tensions between the five outlaws build while Dorothy Malone's rancher keeps thrusting herself in front of the gang's soft headed psychotics. There are glimpses of Corman's brilliance--one central location used to its fullest and glimpses of brutal, sexually sinister dialog. Five Guns West will probably only be remembered as Corman's first film, but it deserves more than to be so simply dismissible. For further ramblings read my latest Westerns review over at cineAWESOME!
21 Jump Street: "Fuck You Science!...Fuck You Miles Davis!" Wait--what? I actually enjoyed a film starring Channing Tatum!?!?!? Has anyone checked Hell, are they building igloos down there? But dang, the big screen revival of 21 Jump Street had me busting at the gut with some of the sharpest stupid quotables of the year, and the Hill/Tatum chemistry is sweet when its not downright creepy. Honestly, I'm still in shell shock that I enjoyed this as much as I did but the script grabs the ridiculous seriousness of the HIgh School Undercover program and drives it to brutal (and sometimes violent) comedy gold. Hopefully Korean Jesus will grant us a sequel.
Casa De Mi Padre: "Mexico is not for cowards." (Translated from Spanish) In the same fashion in which Black Dynamite celebrates as well as mocks the blaxploitation genre, so does Casa De Mi Padre for the telenovela--and it's not a little chuckler, but a fullblown gutbuster. Will Ferrell's ranchero struggles to find his place within the family while engaging with the Jaguar God, scoring with his brother's hot captive fiance, and taking on Gael Garcia Bernal's Canadian Slim drug dealer. It's goofy as heck, but when Ferrell claims "I Am Armando Alvarez" I also found myself cheering his badassery. Imagine Three Amigos era John Landis taking on the violent grindhouse mimicry of Robert Rodriguez.
The Three Musketeers: The Four Mediocre Musketeers join forces to tackle Orlando Bloom's fancy pants Lord Falderal, Mads Mikkelsen's horse offending Rochefort, Christoph Waltz's armored Cardinal Richlieu, and Milla Jovovich's twirling swordstress Milady. And it's in 3D!!!!! Or was if you saw it in theaters (which I doubt) or have one of them newfangled televisions. Honestly, all the CG and 3D and ridiculous airships in the world couldn't raise this film above a snooze. Paul WS Anderson should just stick with the Resident Evil movies. No one was asking for, or wanted another Three Musketeers adaptation. Please stop.
The FP: "Yo, For Reals." I wanted oh-so-desperately to enjoy this post-apocalyptic Dance Dance Revolution gang war film, but the enjoyment of the ridiculous premise does not extend beyond the two and half minute trailer. When BTRO dies in the cage against L Dubba E, it's up to his brother JTRO, KC/DC, and BLT to find the right combo of montage to tackle Lee Valamassy's viscious grills--and why should we care? Cuz L Dubba E has stopped the flow of liquor in Frazier Park and without liquor there's no hobos, and without hobos there's no ducks...yeah, The FP is all about Ducks. But this is a one trick pony that doesn't garner more than a few chuckles. Bonus points for James Remar narration and Clifton Collins Jr clown fro cameo.
Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan: "I Don't Like To Loose." The bravado of Admiral James T Kirk is brought to the test when Ricardo Montalban's Khan Noonien Singh returns from the past to unleash his hate upon the entire crew of the USS Enterprise. Essentially a sci-fi collision of wills, Star Trek II deserves every ounce of praise as the single best movie in the franchise; an exploration on aging and loss as much as a fantastic high seas adventure exchanging cannon blasts for phaser fire. And despite what hope the sequels bring, the emotional climax still brings a lump to my throat.
COMICS OF THE WEEK!
With the recent release of Hellboy Volume 12: The Storm and The Fury, I decided to go back and re-read all the trades leading up to this momentous Mignolaverse arc. Marathoned these four books late Firday night/early Saturday morning. Reinvigorated my love for HB.
Hellboy - Strange Places: The last book to be completely written and drawn by Mike Mignola, Strange Places begins with a nice little bit of African Mythology, turns into another monster beat 'em up with the fish lady Bog Roosh, and eventually unveils not only the origin of the Dragon Ogdru Jahad, but Hellboy's own Right Hand of Doom. Hellboy, once more, comes face to face with his apparent destiny and he's given another opportunity to pound it away. Strange Places is definitely not a book for newbies to jump into, but fans of the series will get some much desired answers and a whole lotta new questions. And the epilogue with Sir Edward, Queen Mab, and Gruagach succinctly sets up the Epic War about to hit England in Darkness Calls.
Hellboy - Darkness Calls: This marks the first collaboration between Mike Mignola & Duncan Fegredo, and even though it might feel a little off at first, you will quickly come to appreciate Fegredo's twisty style. Darkness Calls is the beginning of the end for Hellboy...or at least the current version of "end". After the events of The Island, Hellboy must contend to the Witches of England who would have him for their king. Hecate, the Queen of Blood, is on the verge of reawakening thanks to the toadish Igor Bromhead and the Baba Yaga wants to snatch Hellboy's eye for her revenge. Lots of plot and buildup in this volume, but there is also an excellent skeleton army attack, a sword fight with the Witchfinder General Henry Hood, and an epic battle with Koshchei The Deathless. As fun as this comic can be, Darkness Calls reminds us that the world is at stake, and Hellboy must face his destiny if he's to save us from damnation.
Hellboy - The Wild Hunt: The Osiris Club invites Hellboy to partake in the tradition of The Wild Hunt, a group of noblemen tasked in the slaughtering of England's Giants. But there's treachery afoot as the pieces of the witch Nimue are gathered by the pigbeast Gruagach, and the shadowcast fairy folk plot revenge against man. The Wild Hunt is one of my all time favorite Hellboy trades; I absolutely love how past short stories like The Corpse and Box Full of Evil are revealed to be significant markers in the saga, and how the origins of Hellboy are connected to the mythology of Great Britain. War is Here. Nothing will be the same again. Ragna Rok.
Hellboy - The Storm and The Fury: The Second Stage in Hellboy's saga concludes with The Storm & The Fury and it is without a doubt, the single best trade of the franchise--a statement I don't make lightly, knowing full well that Mike Mignola is the true artist of Hellboy's story, but Duncan Fegredo accomplishes great feats with his work here, delivering images equal to and sometimes superior to those found in previous volumes. The Noble Dead of England have risen to follow Hellboy into battle against Nimue and The Dragon, Great Britain will never look the same. Great Moments for all the supporting players; Morgan Le Fey's motives nearly reveal themselves, the poor pig Gruagach witnesses the sad product of his revenge, and the Osiris Club seems to miss the point again. And the climax! ARGH! I need Mignola's next chapter immediately!
Darkness Calls, The Wild Hunt, and The Storm & The Fury complete one of my all time favorite story arcs in comics and if you have never dipped into the Mignolaverse than you are most certainly missing out on the mediums best work.