Monday, May 28, 2012
Matt’s Week in Dork! (5/20-5/26)
Kind of a rough few weeks, but I still got some good Dork Life in. Only a few movies, but a bunch of reading. And I’m semi-mobile again. I’ve got my bike fixed and my legs are working about the best I can expect from them.
Chinatown: There is a big mess in L.A. and detective Jake has just put his foot in it. Conspiracy, murder, money, and some of the darkest of family secrets unravel as Jake tries his darnedest to figure things out, and keep his head. Colorful characters played by a cast of greats. An amazing score. Crackerjack dialog and direction. Heck, it even seemed like Faye Dunaway had emotions. After watching this, I want to grab a bunch of Noir DVDs off the shelf, read a couple Hard Case Crime novels, and listen to some swinging 40s music. A great film, and a must see. Thanks to Brad and the AFI Silver, I’ve now seen it on the big screen, which was a real treat.
The Running Man: One of the great Arnold vehicles, it’s also pretty much what Susanne Collins lifted whole cloth from to create her Hunger Games novels. A man unjustly accused is forced into a game show, where he must survive in a live blood sport. It plays with the trends of TV at that time, which grimly foretell the reality of TV today. Evil corporations, cynical audiences, the media run amok. All filtered through the eye of the 80s.
Battleship: When the villagers wanted to rape some angels, Lot said; “Look, I have two daughters who are virgins. I am ready to send them out to you, for you to treat as you please, but do nothing to these men since they are now under the protection of my roof.” So, yeah, you know all that kind of really, really F-dup crap in the Bible? The stuff the preachers don’t usually like to talk about? Watching this was a lot like that. We’re talking wheels within wheels and covered in eyes. Balls of wings if you see inside your soul will burn. Cities blasted into oblivion with little provocation. Seven headed beasts with crowns and whores and such. The sky turning black, temples collapsing on long haired guys, and lots and lots of things rending. This film is abomination. Stone it in the town square. Old school stuff.
Erotikon: Kind of a goofy comedy, it has some pretty clever gags. It’s the oldest breaking of the ‘fourth wall’ I’ve seen, with the reference to what the film watching public enjoys. Not a bad movie, but not especially good. There is a brief, interesting discussion of Swedish silent film that places this movie in context, and reveals it and its creators’ effect on the film industry to come. The film is well made and well acted, but I had a hard time getting into any of the characters or what they were doing.
Hellboy: I’ve reviewed this film a few times, and I still love it. It’s a great blend of Mignola and Del Toro, with a good balance of staying true to the comic while being an entertaining film. Ron Perlman was born to play Hellboy. For once, a tacked on romance actually works and works well. And though it gives you a taste of hope, it still has that impending doom that should haunt Hellboy’s life. Maybe not as much as it does in the comic, but it’s there in the film. I just wish more of Mignola had made it into the sequel, which goes way off the mark.
Boardwalk Empire: “We all have to decide how much sin we can live with.” Crime, vice, glitz, and the behind the scenes oceanic flowing of power and control in Atlantic City and other dangerous warrens during the bloody and ugly years of Prohibition. A fine cast, great production value, solid writing, and a good story. This is excellent television, if not for the weak of stomach. Occasional heroism peppers some grueling bouts of inhumanity.
Ben and I watched the first disk of Hell on Wheels. Pretty good. It kept making me want to watch other stuff. Got in the mood to watch Kung Fu and Ravenous right off the bat. I’m developing quite the hankering to play some more Red Dead Redemption. And maybe soon I can finally rope Brad into bringing Deadwood over to the Matt-Pad.
I finished listening to the audio version of Christopher Hitchens’ autobiography, Hitch 22. I really liked that it was read by him. I should be writing and posting my review soon.
Continuing my recent trend of finally reading various single issue comics I’ve acquired over the last few years, I read the 2011 Free Comic Book Day issue of Atomic Robo. I do like that comic, as it reminds me of Hellboy among others. Though I don’t think it’s as good. Perhaps a bit too modern, with a few too many pop-culture references. Still, it’s an enjoyable read and I am likely going to grab a full trade paperback one of these days. Also included is a brief intro to the comic series Foster Broussard, which I didn’t much care for, and an exceptionally short teaser for Moon Girl, which has an interesting look and there’s something tantalizing about, but so little is revealed, it’s hard to tell how interesting the actual series might be. I may have to look into a trade of that, if such exists.
“You have to be @%$#ing kidding me.” When at my local Laughing Ogre comic shop last year, I happened to see that IDW was bringing out a line of Godzilla comics. Huh. That’s crazy. I’ve got the old Marvel run, which was…something. I mostly picked it up, because they did a series of tailored covers, depicting the local shop getting stomped, which I thought was a clever gimmick. And I do love Godzilla, and it is written by Eric Powell. All that aside, it went in the pile and like so many single issues before it, didn’t get read. Now that’s changed, and I’m glad. I enjoyed it quite a bit. The art isn’t amazing, but it’s good enough. And just the idea of Godzilla rampaging again, especially as the monster he originally was, is kind of fun. I may grab the first trade of this.
Another Free Comic Book Day book from 2011 was next. Super Dinosaur: Origin Special by Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard. It’s from their kid-friendly line and seems like fun. The writing is a bit strained, not quite capturing kid speech. It’s more like typical cartoon show dialog. But it’s not bad and the story about a genius kid and his dinosaur friend defending the hollow Earth is pretty cool. It was certainly entertaining enough that I’m giving serious thought to grabbing the first trade, which I think just recently came out.
More 2011 Free Comic Book Day stuff with an Avatar: The Last Airbender/Star Wars: The Clone Wars double. Avatar was fun, with two short vignettes, one about Aang and some Airbender artifacts, the other about the philosophy of cleanliness (or not). Sadly, the Clone Wars story is quite lame, with Opress (a yellow Darth Maul) and a Hutt and some blah blah.
Staying kid-friendly with 2011’s Free Comic Book Day samples, I read a Kung Fu Panda/Richie Rich double. The two Kung Fu Panda shorts were pretty good. The writing felt about right, and the art was nice. It’s brief, but fans of the films should enjoy. I never liked Richie Rich. When I was a kid, the cartoon used to infuriate me. So, I didn’t have much hope/expectation for the short story here. It’s OK kiddy stuff, but pretty broad and written like a 90s cartoon (read: not that well). While I might be interested in reading more Kung Fu Panda, I would not follow Richie as they try and fail to make him into Johnny Quest.
On the darker side of that same Free Comic Book Day was the Baltimore/Criminal Macabre double. Regular readers will already know that I love Mike Mignola’s work, and this is no exception. It’s short and doesn’t tell much of a story, but what’s there is very cool. I really, really have to read the novel one of these days. And the other stuff that’s out there on the character Baltimore. Unfortunately the other comic, Steve Niles’ Criminal Macabre was not so good. I found the concept and writing to be a bit too 80s and a bit too junior high creative writing class. I’ll skip any more of that.
Getting away from the free stuff, I read Jason Conquers America, a little selection of mad Norwegian comic artist Jason’s shorts and interviews with both the artist and his frequent colorist Hubert. Dang, it’s a batch of crazy, as one would expect. The strip about Jesus raking leaves seriously cracks me up. The look on the Devil’s face is priceless. And Darth Vader at the poetry slam…Yeah.
Digging through boxes with old comics and stuff from previous years’ SPX and other comic cons, I came across a short comic called The Ravens’ Gambit. It’s a super-small publisher comic that felt like it was based on someone’s D&D game. Not my cup of tea. The art is OK for small press stuff, but nothing wowed me.
And then I found a tiny little Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into comic for the recent (last year?) re-launch of that line with original co-creator Kevin Eastman back on board. It’s all right. I feel like I’m too much of a poser when it comes to the Turtles. I kind of like ‘em, and I’ve read a bit, but mostly I liked the cartoon and the Archie Comics version. I’m trying. Time will tell.
Another discovery was Dynamite’s 2009 issue 0 of their Buck Rogers re-launch. I’ll admit, I’m intrigued. Generally, Dynamite hasn’t impressed me. They tend to have glitzy production value, but little else. Still, after my surprise enjoyment of their way-back set Burroughs’ Mars story, I’m a little more open to checking them out. And I’m probably going to have to read the first trade of this. The art is pretty good and there is certainly potential.
More Free Comic Book Day stuff with 2008’s Hellboy, featuring the story The Mole, which is weird and gross. It’s also got a short B.P.R.D. story and another brief one about a youngish Prof. Bruttenholm. As usual, it’s all good stuff. Can’t wait for the next Library Edition of Hellboy. Soon.
Back to some kid-friendly fare, I read 2010’s Owly and Friends! from Top Shelf. Owly was, as always, very cute. James Kochalka’s surreal Johnny Boo Does Something is…um, special. Then there’s a Korgi short, which is beautifully illustrated, if not really my thing. Overall, good stuff for young readers.
I also found an issue 0 for Conan. Looks like it came out in anticipation of the passing of the baton from Kurt Busiek and crew to Tim Truman. I’d read this before, as it’s in the Conan trade volume 7. Basically, an adaptation of the poem/short “Cimmeria,” with a brief story of Conan’s return to his homeland spliced in. It does look nice, and is one of the better bits from Truman’s run.
In my non-comic/movie life, I finally got my bike repaired. I took a spill last summer, banged my legs up pretty good, and a month or so later, when I finally got back on my feet, I found that something was wrong with my bike. Turns out a little thingy that holds the chain was bent real bad, and needed to be replaced. So, that done, I got dropped off at the bike shop and rode home. Now, the bike shop wasn’t all that close to where I lived when I purchased the thing. I’ve since moved a good distance further away. So, it’s a two and a half hour bike trip. The up side is I get to spend about an hour of that trip on the W&OD trail, which if I were in a long term relationship, would be my mistress. I love riding the trail. It’s generally smooth and gentle, with varied scenery and lots of friendly folk (even got a complement on my Wyld Stallynz T-shirt from a young lady). The down side is the hour and a half of the trip that wasn’t on the trail. Unfortunately, I seem to live in a nearly perfectly bad spot to be a cyclist. It’s 45+ minutes by bike to the nearest place that is at all enjoyable to ride a bike. One day, I’ll get me a car and a bike wrack and all will be well. ‘Til then, oh, W&OD, we’ll always have Vienna.