Friday, October 5, 2012

Matt’s Week in Dork! (9/23/12-9/29/12)

    On Sunday, Brad, Ben, and I took a trip to a favorite Dork spot (seen in that stupid sequence…well, one of those stupid sequences…of Transformers 2) the Udvar Hazy.  Seeing the Discovery was nice, a shuttle that’s actually been to space and back.  A good start to a Week in Dork.

    And on Friday night, Lisa hosted anther meeting of the Justice League of Extraordinary Book Club.  This time ‘round our book was Get Jiro, and the reception was fairly tepid.  Not that it’s bad, but it’s certainly the weakest and least meaty book we’ve consumed.  Good food, good folk, and good conversation.  Another lovely evening.  The consensus seems to be that the book had potential, but was greatly lacking in depth.  The food-nerd stuff was great, but far, far too brief.  If the setting and many of the players were more fully realized, and more of the food culture was explored, this could be a very fun read.  As it is…Meh.

Dredd:  I can’t tell you how glad I was that this film didn’t disappoint.  It’s R-rated violence, over the top action, and some danged brutal human behavior.  No Rob Schnider to suck things up.  This is the Judge Dredd film I’d been waiting for.  No, the plot isn’t complex.  No, there’s no discussion of the human condition.  Yes, Dredd teaches Anderson how to kill, and yes, she does it pretty well.  Heads explode, people get skinned, lots and lots of people get blown all to crap.  And Dredd dispenses a whole pile of justice on some murdering, drug dealing scum.

Lee Miller: Through the Mirror:  A model and photographer, a contemporary of Picasso and Man Ray, Miller stands as a complicated figure.  Women like this fascinate me, as they defied expectations and helped to break molds in an era where it seemed that anyone could be anything with enough will, luck, and skill.  Troubled youth, interesting associations, haunting beauty.  There’s an alien quality, a distance to the woman herself.  And then there is her work.  Though I would never actually want to live in any time previous to now (and frankly, now is a bit too early), there is a part of me that would really like to spend a couple years traveling through the social circles of the 20s and 30s, Paris, Cairo, New York, the artists, writers, explorers, and scientists.  There is a movie in this woman’s life, especially her days with the troops in WWII.  It’s also interesting to see her son, trying to understand his mother and an old friend remembering the dear departed.

The Devil Hunter:  Rule of thumb: if you have to ask yourself, “is this racist?” the answer is almost certainly, “yes.”  Appallingly dreadful movie.  Digitized nudity?  What, are we in Japan?

Voodoo Black Exorcist:  Is everyone in this movie in blackface?  In spite of a kind of awesome opening credit sequence, not unlike that of Soylent Green, this is (shocking, I know) a super crappy movie out the worst movie industry on Earth (not true, it’s not the Philippines), Italy.  Racist, exploitative, poorly filmed.  Yup.  It’s Italian.  This movie has the editing equivalent of Touretts.  I’ll admit, I kind of like the insane, over the top music that plays during the red saturated flashbacks to happier, pre-Voodoo murder days.  I’d like to use that music for something better.  The voiceover work is amazing.

The Yesterday Machine:  Some swingin’ 60s jazz accompanies the groovy doings of a bunch of heppcats.  A story out of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits, though nowhere near as well crafted.  This could have made a great Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode.  While fairly entertaining in its own right, I think Mike or Joel and the Bots could have had a field day.  And then, Nazis!!!

Robot & Frank:  A quiet, near-future tale about a daft old man getting saddled with an infinitely patient medical robot, this movie is fairly light hearted and mellow.  Frank reminds me of myself, if I had a career that would afford me to live as he does, with all his eccentricities and cantankerousness.  The robot is a must.  Seriously, when is this gonna happen, because I’m sick of living in a robot-free house.  Aging, the remnants of our past, the nature of life.  And robots.

Dracula’s Fiancée:  Possibly the first Jean Rollin film I’ve seen that looks like it was edited by someone who knew what they were doing.  It’s also one of his most dialog heavy.  But again, I love that in 2002, he’s still making the kind of films he made in the 70s, polished though this is.  Though his subject is usually the undead of some kind, the movies are more surreal fantasy than horror.  Of the films I’ve seen to date, this is probably Rollin’s best.  I don’t want to say most coherent, because that would be a big lie.  And Brigitte Lahaie (still looking pretty good) rides in on a horse.  How awesome is that?

Hysteria:  “Steady as she goes Mrs. Parsons!  Steady as she goes.”  I don’t think it’s legal to make a movie in the UK about stuffy, uptight old world England without casting Jonathan Price.  The horrors of Victorian medicine and psychology give way to science and the realization that woman can experience sexual pleasure.  This movie is so amazingly British, looking at the whole Upstairs, Downstairs world with a wink and a nudge.  It’s all very charming.

    And of course, some more Charlie’s Angels, more Magnum, and more Battlestar Galactica.  All good fun in their own way.  We’re getting close to the point where Battlestar starts getting really brutal and where the first of the more long term cast starts to buy it.

    I’ve been enjoying a bunch of Simpsons and Futurama comics lately, so I thought, ‘why not?’ and grabbed the one-shot (I assume) Ralph Wiggum issue.  Ugh.  Ralph is often the surreal, stupid cherry on top of a good joke, but a whole comic devoted to him kind of feels like kicking an especially stupid dog.  Most of it isn’t funny, and most of it doesn’t feel true to the show at all; like the writers just didn’t get Ralph.  The final story, Ralph the Role Model is the best, and the only one that really captures the character.  Overall, not very good.

    The Li’l Homer one-shot was much better.  This one feels like it was written by fans of the show, who get the show.  Tales of Homer when he was a young boy, dealing with his awful dad and life in general.  Nothing amazing, but it’s fun.  I like Bongo Comics’ attempted retro stuff.  Adding the extra stuff, like the Li’l Homer cardboard puppet.  There’s a gimmicky 60s/70s vibe to it.

    At my local comic shop, I found Gangsta Rap Posse, as super-small press, ultra-offensive comic about an NWA-type rap group that doesn’t take to getting dissed by other rappers.  They swear a lot, drink a lot, and shoot a lot.  And they do like their ho’s.

    Issue 2 of Gangsta Rap Posse is more of the same, with more of the much abused agent, Saul, who seems to be kind of a badass with a van.  If you didn’t get your copy of “GRP Gangbangs Mrs. Mayor,” you need to read this.  It’s offensive, disgusting, and adults only.  As Brad said, it’s kind of the comic version of Body Count’s song ‘KKK Bitch.’

    I finally got back to Winter Soldier with issue 9.  I’m thinking more and more I should wait until this comes out in trade to read it.  Reading only a handful of pages at a time is frustrating to say the least.  It’s not amazing, but it’s a good read.  Just too many ads, to few pages.

    “Ragemoor’s will be done!”  The final issue of Ragemoor is the spiraling cacophony of mayhem and madness you probably expect from this twisted series.  Lovecraft filtered through Hammer Horror and drawn by the…distinct?…Richard Corben.  I may have to get this in trade when it comes out.  I still don’t quite know how I’ve become something of a Corben fan in the last couple years.

    I finally read the Clive Barker novella Cabal, which I’ve been meaning to read since first seeing Nightbreed all those many years ago.  I know Barker wrote and directed the film, but I was still surprised how slavishly the film followed the story, up until the final act (and even then, it was pretty close).  It was OK.  Because of how close the movie was to the story, there wasn’t a heck of a lot more to learn, not much more depth to backgrounds or history.  It is the set-up for something pretty grand, that I’m fairly certain Barker never revisited.  My primary complaint is his description of sex, which is just awkward especially when it comes to the vocabulary used.  It’s not the acts being depicted, but how they’re done and how often they don’t really fit with the story.  Distractions.

    Issue 0 of Justice League dealt with surprising topics.  The origin of Shazam (I guess they’re not calling him Captain Marvel now), a bit of Pandora, and…a Question.  It also ties into the 0 issue of The Phantom Stranger.  They’ve changed Billy Batson’s origin, I think.  Granted, my Captain Marvel/Shazam knowledge is limited almost exclusively to the 40s serial.

    Green Lantern Corps’ issue 0 reminds me why Guy Gardner is pretty much the lamest Lantern.  He’s just a jerk.  One of those mad at the world punks I always hate in books and movies.  Still the whole ‘almost a cop’ thing makes sense for someone gifted with a ring.

    Talon didn’t interest me from the start, but issue 0 hints at what could, in the right hands, be an interesting story.  But I’m not holding my breath.  What kind of stories will it feature?  A superhero Fugitive?  I do like the Court of Owls as villains, and this helps keep them in the picture.  Time will tell.  But I won’t be reading it anytime soon, to find out.

    Nightwing issue 0 looks into Dick Grayson’s evolution into Robyn.  But who cares.  No, it’s not bad or anything.  But yawn.

    Issue 0 of Catwoman is certainly less repugnant than issue 1, which just left me feeling kind of dirty.  I still don’t care much for it.  She seems a bit daft and weak, which is not at all how I imagine Batman’s ultimate femme fatale.  Strength, mystery, subtlety, and sexiness are Catwoman’s methods, but this version bashes a few heads, gets tossed around, and looks like she’s trying out for a manga, with her HUGE eyes that make her look a bit…Dim?  High?  Crazy?

    Wow.  I’ve got no frickn’ clue what the heck is going on in the whole Green Lantern side of the DC Universe.  I read a bit of the early Geoff Johns rebirth of Hal Jordan stuff, and it seemed pretty good.  But I didn’t keep up with it and now I’m totally lost.  Blackest Night?  Sinestro Corpsmen?  Zamarons?  I got no idea.  It’s a rainbow of insanity.

    Unlike the first several issues of her regular series, Diana (Wonder Woman to be) seems like she has some personality in this look back to her youth.  I guess the story is interesting enough.  But it would have been better if the regular comic were like this at all.  Reading this issue, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how 90s and pseudo-Goth the regular series is, which couldn’t be much further from what I’d want a Wonder Woman comic to be.  She’s a goddess, for crying out loud.  Why is her comic about brooding and moping?

    Taking place on Krypton, Supergirl issue 0 is the story of Superman’s uncle, a scientist like Superman’s dad, attempting to save his city with a power field and his daughter with a rocket.  I find the various portrayals of Krypton to be fascinating, be it in the movies, the cartoons, or the comics.  It makes you wonder, why didn’t the Lanterns do something about it?  Whatever the case, I can’t say the story is especially interesting.  It echoes Superman’s origin a bit too much.

    I’m still surprised that Batwoman of all characters has turned out to be one of the more interesting I’ve checked out from DC’s New 52.  Issue 0 is pretty good, going into Kate Kane’s ugly, ugly past and pretty grim personal life.  And it deals with her training, and her complicated relationship with her dad.  Batwoman really seems to be on the extremely dark side of the scale, perhaps even more so than Batman.  It’s interesting that the art and look of the comic is more fanciful than most, but the content feels more ‘real world.’  Christopher Nolan’s version of Batman’s Rogues Gallery seem more in line with her than with Bats himself.  Like when I read the first trade of this series, I’m just curious where they’re planning to take things, and how interwoven it will be with the rest.  I feel like it should be, especially with some of the weirder, fringe/horror elements, like Swamp Thing.


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