As my job takes up more of my time and energy during this season, I’ve done little of note this week, other than passing out early most nights. A little reading, and not much else. Other than, of course, the movies.
Skyfall: The newest adventure of James Bond take our hero to the brink of death and back again, making him question the very nature of what he does and those to whom he owes allegiance. The movie doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but I didn’t need or expect it to. It’s a solid, enjoyable entry in the venerable series, and Daniel Craig continues to put in the best performance as Bond since Connery. It continues to be mostly gadget free, with dirty fist fights and occasional gunplay. And dang, but Naomie Harris was gorgeous.
Armitage: Dual Matrix: The English dub on this is all kinds of deep hurting. Juliette Lewis is as hard to listen to. And the other usual suspects of English dubbing are as awful as always (holy crap the little kid is just dreadful). Switching to the Japanese is suggested. As far as the movie and its story go, meh. Pretty typical anime with all the usual character designs running through all the expected hoops. I’ve seen worse, but that doesn’t mean it’s good.
Faceless: Helmut Berger is the effete plastic surgeon. Brigitte Lahaie is his murderous companion. Lots of stuff about plastic surgery and kidnapping young women. Lots of bad dubbing and worse Chris Mitchum. Will the blood and flesh of young women fix the face of Berger’s crazy acid-face sister? Who cares. The music is killer, and the editing even more abrasive. And why does a maggot covered, severed head make the sound of someone opening a bag of chips? I’m pretty sure they don’t make a sound at all. And I’m quite sure that if they did, that wouldn’t be it. This is probably the best Jess Franco film I’ve seen. It’s OK.
Dr. No: Sean Connery is a charming bastard in this, the first of the venerable James Bond franchise. While not the first actor to play Bond, he certainly made his mark on the character and became the gold standard by whom all future actors would (and will) be judged. Bond travels to an exotic location, beds several exotic women, drives some stylish cars, wears some stylish suits, kills with brutality, and looks good doing it. The sets and designs are fantastic.
Tobor the Great: Science! The whole movie keeps making you think it’s going to turn into a ‘robot rampage’ film, but being made in the 50s, when science could still be used for good in film, it never does. It does have some of those dastardly communists looking to snatch the secret of telepathic robot control. Nothing really amazing here, but it’s a fun bit of Science! fiction of that era. The robot (Tobor…you see, it’s robot spelled backward) is cool.
Bad Inclination: Well, the name kind of sums it up. It’s a bad inclination to keep seeking out these movies. I know that, but I do it anyway. It’s an attempt at homage to the 70s gore/murder films of the Italian ‘masters.’ As such, it’s fair. But it also points out how that genre/style of film was limited and rather silly. A few moderately attractive starlets get murdered. Lots of amazingly awkward dubbing with very, very weird vocabulary. A few twists, but none very interesting.
Witchery: “Witches and rainbows and s#!t.” When the acting titans Linda Blair and David Hasselhoff come together, the cosmic energies they release can only produce works of amazing amazingness. Lots of amazing actors, from the hideous old lady who seems to suffer a stroke every time she speaks, to the slow-talking kid, to the kind of drunk, slurry Catherine Hickland. Hasselhoff’s creepy pressure on his virgin girlfriend to give it up…pure class. A half hour in, and I was checking my watch. Anything gonna happen? Anybody gonna notice the slow kid wandered off? Or that the pregnant woman is going into fits? No. ‘Cause that might mean something would happen. Where did they dig up all these hideous actors? When Hasselhoff is too good for a movie, which he is, you know it’s a turd. Was this a TV movie? I guess not, as there is eventually some nudity. Maybe Canadian TV? Whatever the case, by an hour in, I was just begging it to stop.
Steel Dawn: “You don’t make me puke.” Zen Master Patrick Swayze and blonde beauty Brion James battle evil after the fall of Man. This low budget crap is still oddly charming for all its hack imitation of better films. You won’t mistake this for The Road Warrior, but if you’re in the mood for one of the countless retreads that came after it, this one is better than many.
Blades of Glory: “The night is a very dark time for me.” Yes. It’s as stupid as the previews made it look. It’s also pretty darned funny. It embraces the weirdness and silliness of competitive figure skating, then mixes in the usual antics of modern comedy. Is it going on the list of great comedies? No. But good for a laugh or two none the less.
Doctor Who: Attack of the Cybermen: Back to Earth, the Doctor and Peri run afoul of diamond thieves and Cybermen. As usual with Doctor Who, several excellent character actors show up and Peri gets menaced. Some of the Doctor’s past comes back to haunt him. There are a lot of interesting ideas in this one, and some odd characters (those two hoodlum slaves trying to get into Cyber-Control; what was up with them?). Lytton, once an agent of the Daleks is an interesting character, with a lot of implied adventures in his past. A good story, and Colin Baker seems much more comfortable in his role.
Men Who Stare at Goats: “I find drinking helps.” A story of war, the US military, and a bunch of madmen. Jedi warriors, warrior monks, superheroes. A journalist, a crack-pot ex-military guy, a desert full of people with itchy trigger fingers, and a story so crazy it might be true…sort of. It’s a lot of fun. But it’s all very, very weird.
I started watching Magic City, which is kind of like Boardwalk Empire meets Mad Men in late 50s Miami. I like stars Jeffery Dean Morgan and Olga Kurylenko, but unlike both previously mentioned shows, I did not feel immediately transported to another time and place. And sadly, much of the rest of the cast, especially the brooding sons, do nothing to keep me interested. The show sure does have a lot of nudity. But at the end of the day, Miami just doesn’t interest me, even Miami of the late 50s.
And I hammered through a couple more disks of Farscape. I remember being more bummed at the loss of one of the key characters when it was first on. But with this viewing of the show, I found her less interesting. More a bunch of unrealized story potentials. The rest of the show, though. Dang it’s crazy.
Friday night Lisa hosted another meeting of her graphic novel group. This time we read Invincible (a collection of the first 13 issues). It was fun hearing other people talk about how surprised they were by the betrayal and tonal shift of the comic. What feels like a standard, easy-going superhero comic turns into a much more complex, much darker comic, where not everyone is what they seem.
On Saturday, I finally got around to reading some more comics. Brad passed off a bunch to me, some of which are less than thrilling. X-Men Legacy #1 was first up. I feel like there’s a cool concept with Prof. X’s son being some kind of tormented super-being. But the dialog is crap, which sinks the whole thing.
Next up was Iron Man #1. First thing to know is, I don’t give two shakes about Iron Man. He’s not a character I’ve ever found interesting in comics or movies, really. On top of that, Brad, who is generally a Marvel fan didn’t sing the praises of this issue. So, it was something of a surprise to enjoy it, if only mildly. I think Tony Stark is conceptually an interesting character, and Extremis a potentially cool threat. And unlike Brad, I thought the art was actually pretty good. Not amazing, but good. As always with Marvel and DC books, this has the status quo hanging around its neck, so any really good ideas will never be taken to the places story demands. Eventually everything that happens will be made moot and returned to the bland base-line.
Another one of those characters I don’t care much about is Thor, yet I ended up liking the Thor movie best of the new Marvel films, and I’ve recently read several excellent Thor comics. I’m kind of amazed at how much I’ve been liking Thor recently. And this new issue, Thor: God of Thunder #1 is very intriguing. A story progressing in three eras, from Earth’s past, across the universe of today, and into the deep future of Asgard. I like the art. I like the writing. And I’m very interested in seeing what happens next.
I’ve been putting together a soundtrack for a story I’m working on again (one I love, but is very, very hard). So, I’ve been listening to a bunch of stuff. Really hooked on Regina Spektor and the Hanna score, among others. I’ve found that listening to music of various types can keep me focused or refocused on the writing.