Finished The Wire!!! Soooooooooo Good! But somehow it didn't consume my entire week. I knocked it out quick and moved onto a rather massive collection of movies and comic books. The only film I caught in the theater was Wrath of the Titans and I definitely enjoyed it more than the rest of America. But I guess the big event this week was the downloading of Amazon's Instant Video app onto my Playstation 3. Something I once swore I would never do, but I fell to temptation when Morgan Spurlock's Comic Con doc premiered via streaming and once I stepped through the Looking Glass I had to see Ben Wheatley's Kill List. I don't think I'll make a regular habit of this, I want to see my films first on the big screen when I can, but if there is no other option in the DC Market than I'll fork over 6.99 for the streaming option. It's a brave new world and I realize that it's the death of ownable media, but you can't fight progress and blah, blah, blah.
TV OF THE WEEK!
The Wire Season 5: It might have taken me all of last week to get through Season 4, but I whipped through the final season of The Wire in just two sittings. 8 Hours on Sunday, 2 on Monday. Bam. Done. And I already miss it. Obviously, I'm way late to the party on this show and I'm sure David Simon would reject my too-little-too-late adoration (Read His Disgust Here), but I'm now here to declare The Wire as one of my all time favorite shows. And I wasn't so sure about the Newspaper angle at the start of season 5 or McNulty's insane serial killer scheme, but by the midway point I was hooked. And the confrontation between McNulty & Scott at the station made it all worth it. Honestly, I was surprised at how Not Depressing the conclusion of the show was--sure, there were plenty of bodies to be buried but not as many as I was expecting. I would love to live in a world where there was at least one or two more seasons of The Wire to consume, but I thought 5 was a fine conclusion for this cast of characters. Omar, McNulty, Bubbles, Bunny, and Daniels all had satisfying climaxes, as did the kids from Season 4. Really glad to see Namond and Prezbo one last time as well. If by some miracle I'm not the last man on Earth to have seen this show, I encourage you stragglers to jump on this bandwagon. There has never been a better cop show; I'm willing to stake my reputation on it.
Justified "Coalition": What the hell!?!? How could Boyd Crowder leave the guarding of Quarels to a couple of prostitutes and just one goon?!?! Did he seriously think that this mafia beast man wouldn't take this trilogy of dopes out? I guess Boyd hasn't had much interaction with Quarels and maybe he just didn't quite understand the savagery of his captive, but it still felt like some tremendously convenient scripting. That being said, once I got over my fanboy indignation regarding this character flub, I found the build to next week's finale appropriately intense with Limehouse puppet mastering the pawns of Harlan County. Raylan and Dickie have another showdown, and Trooper Tom...yeash.
Bored To Death Season 1: After much prodding from Matthew, I finally broke down and watched HBO's half hour comedy. It was solid. Don't know if I liked it as much as him, or my wife for that matter, but there's a definite charm to Jason Schwartzman's wino wannabe private dick. I was kinda hoping for more Noir-ish sendup, but it's more hipstery woe-is-me silly. Ted Danson is probably my favorite aspect of the show. His pothead publisher feels like an even more exaggerated version of his Curb Your Enthusiasm character and his cold sore was E-P-I-C. Thankfully, Zach Galifanakis is not the obnoxious blob that he is in the Hangover films and I kinda adored his relationship with his sperm hoarding girlfriend. Matt assures me that the second season is even better and I am curious to see what kind of bonkers Schwartzman & Co get into next.
Supernatural "Out With The Old": Season 7 has been all over the map. After several stand alone episodes (most of them fun), the boys encounter the Leviathan threat once more. But not in any major plot development kinda way, just a couple of munchers running rogue from the pack. There's a great opening sequence involving killer ballet shoes and watching Dean resist the temptation to dance was hilarious, but the rest of the ep was a big meh. Time to move this story forward.
Supernatural "The Born-Again Identity": Everyone's favorite angel returns to the series! Unfortunately so does my least favorite demon, Meg. Ugh. That woman just annoys the hell outta me. And this is yet another episode that deals with (and hopefully wraps up) Sam's latest bit of crazy brain. I'd like to see the three guys kicking ass and taking names again, but it feels like Cas has been forever regulated to the background. Bummer.
MOVIES OF THE WEEK!
Take A Hard Ride: "A Wanted Man, That's All That Matters." The spiritual sequel to the blaxploitation Super Group flick Three The Hard Way, this Spaghetti Western reteams genre titans Jim Brown, Fred Williamson, and Jim Kelly against bounty hunter Lee Van Cleef and his army of banditos. The fun resides in the bitter back & forth between man-of-his-word Brown and snake gambler Williamson. Kelly is solid as the half-breed mute with incredible but mysterious Kung Fu skills and Van Cleef is typically reliable, but we're here for the football icons. And the Spaghetti Western sub-genre offers plenty of violent twists and unexpected downbeats. As usual, check out the rest of my thoughts for this week's Western Review at cineAWESOME!
Wrath of the Titans: Free from the confines of the original film's remake, Wrath of the Titans is an enjoyable bit of CGI mythological Tom Foolery. Sam Worthington will never be my go-to action hero soldier, but with his hair grown out and the stench of Avatar fading, he's a Perseus I'm comfortable riding Pegasus. If I was 10 years old I'd be gaga for Wrath with its parade of classic beasties (The Minotaur! The Cyclops! Cronus!) and the Hades/Zeus smackdown teamup. Sure it's probably gonna fade from memory rather quickly but it's fun enough while running. And The Real Rocknrolla's Toby Kebbell is kinda hilarious with his useless demigod and surprisingly effective pep talks.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: A celebration of Cold War espionage and World War nostalgia, director Tomas Alfredson crafts a stylish, devil-in-the-details puzzle thriller that's nearly as cool as its cast. Gary Oldman's top notch spy is a quiet badass in which the film's most exciting action sequences seem to occur behind his thick-rimmed glasses. And he's surrounded by Britain's finest with Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, John Hurt, and Benedict Cumberbatch all delivering the goods. Not the kind of film to just leave on while you iron shirts, it requires your full attention but the invested will be rewarded.
Pusher: Nicolas Winding Refn's directorial debut is a grungy little monster of a film following two low rent dealers (Kim Bodnia & Mads Mikkelsen) as they naturally self-destruct amongst the real drug lord professionals. The film definitely thumps along to its own rhythm and it takes on a pretty horrific glow, but it failed to capture my full attention. Not surprisingly, Mikkelsen steals the show with his few scenes and I do look forward to him taking center stage in the later parts of the trilogy. Still, it's telling that I didn't immediately pop in the next installment after the credits rolled.
The Wild Angels: "We wanna be free to ride our machines without being hassled by The Man!...And We Wanna Get Loaded!" Peter Fonda & Bruce Dern are Blues & The Loser, the two big toughs that run the San Pedro chapter of the Hell's Angels and they spend their days finding new ways to hassle cops and play their bongos. Roger Corman continues his youth-gone-mad formula battling conformity just cuz; whether its Rock n Roll High Schoolers or swastika fetishizing bikers. Still, I couldn't help but side with Dick Miller's Anzio vet who chides Fonda for wearing the Iron Cross or Frank Maxwell's disgusted, morally(and physically)-assaulted preacher when dealing with these inconsistent psychotics. Yeah, you wanna be free and get loaded but you also don't have qualms with raping Diane Ladd. This isn't just about rockin' around the clock.
The Beast With 1,000,000 Eyes: It's got a great title and a really cool poster, but that's about it. Roger Corman has produced hundreds of movies and they're not all going to be winners. Paul Birch and Lorna Thayer run around avoiding twinkling lights while birds, dogs, and milk cows run amuck. But they've got love and they've got a shotgun so it's all gonna be okay. But it won't be Not Boring...
Machine Gun Kelly: "When Rabbits Roar It's A Bad Time." A rather young and mustacheless Charles Bronson stars as real-life villain Machine Gun Kelly in this Roger Corman cheapie. Pushed around by his moll, Kelly plays it tough with his Tommy Gun. But when a kidnapping scheme turns sour and an intense fear of death haunts his nightmares, the big bad discerns the futility of his crimes and the death chair seems imminent. Bronson and Susan Cabot are excellent together as their bickering escalates, and the remaining crippled goons are solid supporters. Not my favorite Corman gangster picture, this still would make an excellent companion to St Valentine's Day Massacre.
Comic Con Episode IV A Fan's Hope: Don't expect much depth from Morgan Spurlock's latest documentary, more than anything else, it plays simply as a big commercial for Comic Con. That being said, as a recent attendee, this gets me incredibly pumped for this year's trip to Dork Mecca. Hall H Celebrities! Exclusive Action Figures! The Masquerade! Stan Lee! Nerds! Nerds! Nerds! Those not in the know will not find understanding here, but for the rest of us lucky dorks, A Fan's Hope provides a nice photo album experience.
Miss Bala: This is a pretty fantastic bit of brutal chaos in which wannabe beauty queen Stephanie Sigman visits the wrong Tijuana Night Club on the wrong night before competition and witnesses a gangland massacre. But that's just the beginning of her troubles. What works so well about this film is Sigman's (and the audiences) utter confusion surrounding the criminal acts. There's something going on about DEA Agents and a rival gang, but all you can be concerned with is how much hell these outside forces are going to put Sigman and her family through. She wanders in and out of gun battles, news reports, police departments, and she has no control as to where this violence is going to dump her. Scary and thrilling atypical action picture.
Kill List: "I used to love looking at fires when I was a kid." The less known about this film the better. Don't watch the trailer, don't read reviews. Just see the movie. Kill List begins with some pretty epic domestic squabling and slowly pulls you into a terrifying realm of violence. Parts reminded me of Norwegian comic book artist Jason's I Killed Adolf Hitler (but I see that book everywhere I turn these days) and other bits were straight outta The Wicker Man. It's a beast of a flick with bursting gore not for the timid. Kill List is easily one of the year's best mood pieces and one of my favorite films of the year so far. But I might have already said too much.
COMICS OF THE WEEK!
Ragemoor #1: As much as I've loved Richard Corben's Hellboy minis of late, it's great to see him tackling something original. And Ragemoor seems to be the perfect fit for the artist and a solid companion to his House on the Borderland adaptation. Who doesn't love an evil castle fueled on pagan blood? Especially one that consumes long lost relatives who dare to scoff its monstrous intent? Hard to tell who or what the focus of this series is going to be, but I'm game.
Fatale #4: Reading this month to month is proving difficult. With a plot that follows several characters over different decades, there is a lot to juggle between issues. However, when you read them back to back Fatale is shaping up to be one of the best genre mashups in recent years. Four issues into this proposed 15 issue Lovecraft Noir epic, the horror of the saga begins to solidify. And I can't think of another comic out there I look more forward to each month...until Hellboy in Hell hits the racks.
Winter Soldier #3: Is it me, or does Ed Brubaker's Winter Soldier feel a lot like Brian Michael Bendis early on in New Avengers? Brubaker's grabbing Doom Bots and jet pack machine gun apes and whatever else he can find under Marvel's rock and forcing the odd onto Bucky & Black Widow. Maybe there's a little Grant Morrison in there too. It's seriously fun, but maybe more fanciful than I would like...or, maybe I'm just still bitter about Steve Rodgers' return to Cap.
Jason Conquers America: Don't bother with this one shot unless you are a die hard Jason fan. A sampling of his oddball cartoons separated out between a couple of brief interviews. Nothing here matches the power of his graphic novels but fanboys will get a chuckle outta God's leaf pile and the Grim Reaper's balloon.