Thursday, August 9, 2012
Matt’s Week in Dork! (7/29/12-8/4/12)
A lot of TV this week, especially from the 70s. There’s an odd quality to the women in film and TV of the 70s, a certain fresh-faced look that you don’t tend to see in other decades as much. Each decade has a type that tends to be more popular, but there’s something about the 70s I’ve been really digging lately. I was also thinking about the fashion, and how I think we need to have something of a return to dressing up. What I mean is, we’ve become, I think, too casual as a society. Now, I’m not against casual. But I think, for going out, for going to special places, we should take more time in how we dress. We probably shouldn’t be going to the museum or a nice restraint wearing shorts, for example. Anyway, off my soapbox and on with the Dork…
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries: Season 1: This show is awesomely 70s-tastic, from the opening to the fashion to the music. It’s great. I’m not as big a fan of the Hardy Boys episodes. The two leads, especially the (confusingly) teen heartthrob Shaun Cassidy, are pretty darned wooden. But the Nancy Drew stories are much better, with good supporting cast and solid mysteries. Plus, Pamela Sue Martin’s outfits are amazing. She should have been one of Charlie’s Angels.
Doctor Who: Frontios: I love how 80s this episode is. The music, the costumes, the hair, the whole vibe of it is very, very 80s. Stuffed shirt military folks rule over a half-dead colony of a near gone, far distant human race. As usual, there is some kind of hidden secret, lurking beneath the surface (literally in this case). It’s One of the better Peter Davison stories. I just keep thinking about how important good companions are, and how Davison is really weighted down with bad ones. And he has pretty much the same people through his run. Alas.
Batman The Animated Series: Season 1: In the afterglow of 1989’s crazy hit Batman, this groundbreaking animated series somehow rose above the extended toy commercials and neutered silliness that was American animation at that time. Taking elements from across the spectrum of Batman’s rich history, and filtering it through a retro-futurist art deco style, not unlike Max Fleischer’s Superman cartoons of old. The subjects are taken seriously, the writing is generally good and sometimes excellent, and the art design is awesome. Until Batman begins, this was my favorite handling of the character and his crime-ridden city. As a side note, in the episode ‘See no Evil,’ that cop has to have the best animated expression for a guy who just needs to use the rest room…real bad.
The Hunter: Willem Dafoe plays a professional hunter hired to go into the wilds of Tasmania to find evidence of a thought to be extinct, semi-mythological animal. But there are many dangers to face, only some of them in the natural world. Local loggers don’t take kindly to science-types. Environmentalists don’t like hunters. And someone might have already killed to protect some secret. Defoe is excellent as always, and knows how to do a lot without saying a lot. And the man loves a good bath. I also really like Frances O’Connor. She’s always been a charmer, and it’s especially nice to hear her natural accent. But as she’s getting older, I’m loving the lines of her face even more.
The Ritual: Shot on extremely low quality video, this movie looks like a student made film. I’m assuming it’s extremely, and I mean extremely low budget. It delves into some weirdass Irish mythology and some stuff about the Celts being the ‘original master race.’ Whatever. It feels like the director and equipment weren’t up to the subject and actors. If that makes sense. I think I queued this because after the failure of The Wicker Tree to live up, I was still in the mood for some pagan myth based modern horror/fantasy. But, while the subject is still interesting, this movie isn’t very good.
Wonder Woman: Season 1: “In her satin tights, fighting for her rights.” Oh, man. I totally need to wash up on Paradise Island. Seriously. That may be the best thing that’s ever happened to anyone in the whole history of everything. The queen may be bats%$& crazy, but it’s pretty amazing, none the less. Whoever greenlit this show should be made Sheriff of America. This seems like it would make a good companion to Adam West’s Batman series. It’s not quite as camp, but it’s on the same track. The more I watch, the more I think it’s intentionally bad. The awkward pauses when Wonder Woman is…thinking(?) are awesomely weird. Not to mention those crazy intense smiles she gives just before the credits. I can totally see why Lynda Carter was one of my first childhood crushes, but looking at her with an adult eye, I don’t think she’s really much of a role model. The show’s pro-women stance has more than a little condescension lurking just below the surface.
The Most Dangerous Game: “Kill! Then love. When you have known that, you have known ecstasy.” The world was still a mysterious place, filled with shadowed jungles, forbidding islands, and dark secrets when The Most Dangerous Game came along. A shipwreck could still place a man on an uncharted island with a madman for a host. The ethics of hunting are explored in a remote and deadly land. Count Zaroff really is right. The only way you can call hunting a sport is if you’re on even ground with your prey, so for a human, it would have to be a human. Which is why I refuse to call it a sport. Fay Wray sure was a cutie, though her character was sort of typical for movies of this type, screaming a lot. Many of the people involved in this film, in front of and behind the camera, would go on to make King Kong next, and the two films are kindred spirits. Zaroff’s island certainly seems to be in the same part of the world as Skull Island. I can’t help but want the final moments to the chase to look like the end of 28 Days Later, with the hero baptized in his foe’s blood. Alas, as brutal as this movie is, there were still some grounds left unexplored in the 30s. But I’ll tell you, fistfights were a heck of a lot more brutal back then, when they’d keep the action at a distance so you could actually see it, unlike today’s super close-up, shaky cam stuff.
My second viewing of The Dark Knight Rises cements it as an excellent finish to the trilogy. What is started in Batman Begins ends here. Bane is handled well. There are a couple good twists and surprising appearances of iconic characters. It is interesting that two polar opposite iconic comic movies came out this summer. The Avengers is the silly insanity of comics allowed to run wild and The Dark Knight Rises is an attempt to make the over-the-top as ‘real world’ as possible. Both films are shockingly successful in the attempt.
Finally, after a very, very, very long wait, I got the first two disks of Game of Thrones in. Nice production value. Good cast. Peter Dinklage is straight-up awesome. Not that he seems to be hurting for work, but that man needs to be in more stuff. Can’t wait to see where his story goes. Watching this show really makes me wish someone with some guts would get down to business and make a serious attempt at adapting Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories. It could be done.
Just before going out to see The Dark Knight Rises for a second time, with Ben, Paul, and Sarah, I read the New 52 Batman annual #1 about Mr. Freeze (part of the ‘Night of the Owls’ event. It was pretty good. A nice twist on one of the more interesting villains in Batman’s rogues gallery. Mr. Freeze is up there with Harvey Dent and Catwoman for this reader. Plenty to make the character potentially interesting, even if it doesn’t always come through. I really like the coloring in this, by Peter Steigerwald. The art is nice, but the coloring gives it a particular vibe, kind of like the European comics I tend to like more. This wouldn’t look out of place in the pages of Heavy Metal.
X-O Manowar’s third issue has our hero fully embraced by the armor, killing green aliens left and right. The issue feels extremely short, though it has what I guess is a big reveal at the end. I never read the original, so this was something of a surprise (I guess). But I gather it’s in keeping with the earlier comic series. It also has a brief preview for Archer & Armstrong, which is probably the Valiant title I’m most interested in. If I understand right, these titles are all supposed to tie in to each other in some way. Not sure how I feel about that, but we’ll see.
The second issue of Minutemen, from the Before Watchman comics was pretty good. I like Darwin Cooke’s work, and I think he’s good for this sort of thing. Captures enough of the vibe of the original work and has enough of its own thing going on to make it worth reading. Watchmen creates an interesting setting that has the potential for good stories. I still don’t know that this whole Before Watchmen thing was a good idea, but at least Minutemen is pretty good.
I tried reading Rocket Raccoon: Guardian of the Keystone Quadrant, with super early art from Mike Mignola. But it was really, really not good. Just bad 70s/80s Marvel Comics writing. Silly and ultimately boring. With the insanity of the announcement this past San Diego Comic-Con of a Guardians of the Galaxy film leading into Avengers 2, I figured I should check it out. But nah. It’s not good.
After a bit of delay, I sat down and finished Christa Faust’s Choke Hold. Dang. Read my review here. I also read the second collection of Invincible. Read my review here. And I started re-reading Habibi for the next meeting of Lisa’s graphic novel book club.
A good week, but fairly quiet. I have been trying to do more home cooking again, to some success. It’s healthier and cheaper, and I actually love doing it. But sometimes, I’m just on the run so much it doesn’t happen, and I get out of the habit.