Friday, August 31, 2012
All six of Joshua Buddich's Sistine Pop prints are now available at his store. They'll set you back $40 but they sure are pretty. My particular fave being the 2001 in the lower left hand corner. There's a monkey on your back, Dave.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake sequels are not very good. But they're not terrible either. Not when compared to the Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th remakes. Still, I'm sure this new 3D incarnation will be another January suckfest. But I do like this poster. Love the inclusion of the makeup Leatherface from the original series. Just gross.
This looks interesting. Like a lot of folks, I watched the hell outta the Iceman doc that HBO did several years back and that man seriously scared me. And who better to play the contract killer than Michael Shannon. Currently, I'm watching the second season of Boardwalk Empire and the man is just a freaking monster. Every tight lipped word he utters gives me the spooks. Now, partner him up with the always charming (even when he's all 70s'ed up) Chris Evans--this could be a lot of sick fun.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
There is soooooo much Game of Thrones mashup fan art out there, and for the most part I ignore it. But Damit Jim, I'm A Doctor Not A King and this t-shirt design from shirtoid.com birthed a great laugh from me as well as an instant purchase. I gotta have this on my chest.
GAH!!!!! Phew. Ok. This bit of Popeye Dork Art from deviant artist axlsalles floored me. And after I changed my drawers I had the sudden thought that this is the Popeye I want to see on the big screen. A badass, no-nonsense, spinach loving sailor who once worked the boiler room with Robert Shaw's Quint from Jaws.
Not too much new this week, I guess. Couple of chunks of downtime, so a lot of movies.
Doll Face: Oh, spousal abuse. Comic gold! A huckster boyfriend (and advocate of lady punching) and a smooth talking writer vie for the attentions of a dancer with stars in her eyes. Based on a Gypsy Rose Lee play, I’m sure she drew on her own history for some of the bits. The excitement and romance of bury-Q revealed!
The Duke is Tops: Lena Horne has a thousand watt smile, a sweet voice, and gams that just won’t quit (sadly covered in this film). What she doesn’t have is an ounce of acting talent. Still, it’s nice to see a movie from the late 30s, featuring black actors, that doesn’t feel exploitative (except that one musical number near the end), condescending, or outright hostile. Some fascinating characters and good performances, too. The Cats and the Fiddle were crazy, man. The whole snake-oil sales subplot was unexpected, and kept reminding me of Carnivale. The depression must have been a weird time to live through, beyond the obvious economic and environmental problems. Not only did it foster the rebirth of American religious obsession (religion being the drug people run to most in times of trouble), but it seems to have been a great time for get rich quick schemes, self-discovery and creation, and outlandish personality. Extreme and obscure fads popped out of every corner as people were desperate to escape the reality of their lives.
Hi-De-Ho: Cab Calloway is a lady slapping cat who sings up a storm but can’t act a bit. His violence prone lady friend isn’t having any of Cab’s new, mousy agent. Calloway has a ton of charisma while he’s performing music, but once his band stops, so does most of his charm. His dance during the song ‘Hey, now.’ looked familiar. I realized it’s because he dances like me. Did he have a time machine? There’s a great tap number near the end, too. And I’m not much of a tap guy. The music in this one is awesome, but the in-between bits are kind of awkward and goofy.
Game of Thrones Season 1: I’m generally not a huge fantasy fan, though I often do enjoy the genre in film. And I’m really, really not a fan of the ‘death of trees’ fantasy sagas that seem to be the fashion of the day. All these post-Tolkien, 10 book, 900 pages per volume series that cry out to the heavens for an editor. And after watching this series, I have absolutely NO interest in reading the books. But, this was a good show, and I can’t wait to see the next season. It makes me wish more books (especially ones I actually do read) would get this kind of respectful treatment (Herbert’s Dune series? Howard’s Conan? Burroughs’ Barsoom? Robinson’s Mars? Oh, the possibilities). Doing this 10-12 episode, season per book adaptation is a great option.
The Deadly Trackers: Richard Harris faces off against Rod Taylor in this brutal, ugly, and sadly, kinda boring Western. It’s got some really good bits. But the whole thing meanders through a lot of ‘seen it-done it’ pilfering. The opening 20 minutes are probably the best, setting up for some crazy revenge. But the actual procedural (that’s how it feels) of tracking and killing the baddies gets tired fast. Requisite Mexican buddy, prostitute, and dumb villagers are all present. Just missing a priest, really.
Man in the Wilderness: If nothing else, the image of a boat being hauled through the forest that opens the film is dramatic. The bear attack…less so. I had actually read about the events dramatized in this film during my Western Month a couple years back. A testament to human endurance, to say the very least. Richard Harris does a good job of looking physically destroyed, and he’s able to carry much of the film with little more than grunts and gasps. There is some seriously beautiful scenery. If you weren’t in the mood for a lot of dialog, this would be a good companion film to Jeremiah Johnson or maybe The Grey. Though I guess the way it plays out is more ‘cinematic’ than the real events, but I kind of wish they’d stayed with history on this one. The spirit is about right, but the details all wrong.
Viva Las Vegas: I’m not the biggest Ann-Margret fan, but YOWZAH! When she appears in those white shorts…I think my eyeballs fogged up. Vegas is a city that holds no magic for me, either. But showgirls are showgirls and they’re A-OK with me. Elvis and his Italian friend’s club-crawl looking for Ann-Margret’s perfect posterior is kinda awesome. And her swinging 60s dance number at the gym; crazy! I’ve never had much skill reading women. But I get what her body language was saying in that dance…and you can’t say that stuff on television (not even on FOX). I think I need a cold shower. The final race is horrifyingly explosive, though. Like some crazy Car Wars action. Everybody’s smiles and sunshine at the end, but I’m pretty sure two or three of those drivers are super dead.
The Eighteen Jade Arhats: “Well miss, your kung fu is good.” This dvd would make a great example of why ‘pan & scan’ is the devil’s work. As far as the actual movie goes, I have no f’in idea what was going on here. Lots of random dialog, lots of bad cutting and sudden zooms, and awkward sound effects like you just don’t know. Who is anyone? Why are they doing things? What are they doing, exactly? Is that Asian Julie Newmar? I don’t know. Somebody’s dead. I guess some folks are trying to find out who did it. Some old guy kills people with his palm…but I guess it wasn’t him. Watch out for old dudes in wide hats who sound like they’re in a Don Blooth movie. DEMON ATTACK!!! It’s all right…they’re only men dressed up. Birth Gate or Death Gate?! Surprise funeral! Monk wants a little head! Light Kung Fu!!! Conditional killing!!! (Glad it’s not raining!). Is that an apron? Is he gonna make cookies later? Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense. Two thirds of the movie doesn’t actually matter. I don’t know if it’s the transfer (which is terrible) or the way the film was shot, but it’s WAY too dark most of the time, so many fights are really hard to watch. Not one of the better 70s chop socky movies I’ve seen.
The Creature with the Atom Brain: A wacky scientist and an angry dude get together to use science-zombies for theft and murder. Can a pipe smoking doctor and his hat wearing chums solve the mystery of the glowing fingerprints? A lot of the film is pretty typical Atomic Horror stuff, with all the Mr. Wizard exposition and explanation. But it’s well filmed and the cast is charming. I love that when doctors get together, they sure enjoy smoking those Bob Dobbs pipes.
The Venture Bros. Season Two: Holy crap. What levels of bad taste and surreal madness will this show not descend to? None that I can see. The glory of the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend. Brock Sampson’s sweet mullet. A Blackula hunter and a sex changing Hunter. Good sweet crap, this show is amazing. And finally, the true identity of the Sovereign will be revealed! Zoinks!
The Giant Claw: “Atomic spit-balls.” Is it a flying saucer? NO! It’s a giantass space bird and it’s coming for you. This movie has some cool stuff in it, and some great Atomic Horror dialog. But the creature never really works. It looks like a strung out punk rocker mixed with a buzzard, and moves like Fiona Apple. The movie is a little over long. And though I know it would never be handled right, and general viewing audiences are too cynical to enjoy the madness, but part of me would love to see this remade today.
Bye Bye Birdie: “Who wants respect from a ten year old kid?” Conrad Birdie (basically Elvis) has been drafted, and he’s gonna make some young woman’s existence mean something before he heads off. He’s gonna kiss her on TV. The cult of celebrity is explored in musical numbers, as women go totally apenuts for the gyrating, gold jumpsuited rocker. Ann-Margret plays the lucky girl, and she does that all American Teen girl thing very well. I love how she can look so sweet and prim in one shot and so…not, in another. And who would expect that Gone With the Wind battle aftermath joke?
Lockout: “You want some in your mouth?” This movie is SO Luc Besson. And I don’t think I mean that in a good way. Awkward humor, wacky action, somewhat fun, but not as good as it should be. When that dumb chick from Lost and that Australian guy who can’t seem to make the right career choices end up on the worst prison ever made (in SPACE!!!), full of Luc Besson-style criminals, run by the crappiest cops this side of Keystone, you know there’s gonna be a bunch of…well, cliché behavior. This really, really needed to be R-rated. More Crank and, less No Escape. It’s basically Escape from New York, but written by 12 year olds, which is too bad, because Escape from New York in Space could have made for a cool flick. I wish more movies of this type were made. I could watch semi-low budget space-based science fiction films all the time. But since the few that are made aren’t usually very good, I doubt that’ll happen.
Fun in Acapulco: “No man really wants to get married.” Ursula Andres looks like she stepped out of a Wagnerian fantasy land. She should be clad in golden armor with a spear in one hand and a shield in the other. Elvis finds her in a Mexican hotel where he gets a job as a singer and lifeguard. You know. That old story. There’s a lady matador, a kid more connected than Ma Bell, and a champion diver who isn’t having any of it. Though still a lot of fun, this movie is not up to some of the King’s other films. Still, he’s like the Superman of Song. A song needs to get sung, and he’s on it like chronic. Elvis is kind of a dick in this, though. He doesn’t really treat the ladies too good. Though I think at one point, he could have had them both at the same time if he’d asked. What’s up with that?
Die Nibelungen- Siegfried: Fritz Lang’s silent fantasy film is another tale about dudes who should ‘just say no’ to chicks. A great hero and a great king become best friends, but an amazon shrew and a blabbing blond spell a bloody end to what should have been a solid friendship. There are some pretty cool scenes in this movie, but they’re weighted pretty heavy to the first half. Once everyone comes back to Worms and the women get to work ruining everything, it’s mostly just standing around in castle rooms and chatting. One credibility issue the film has is the ladies. They’re…um…well, they’re…in the words of poet Austin Powers, ‘a bit manish.’ They kind of look like the Monty Python guys in drag. Kriemhild is supposed to be a woman of such beauty that stories of her make Siegfried kill dragons, battle ugly dwarves, achieve huge honors, and brave all kinds of danger. Personally, I’d be looking into ‘lemon laws’ if she was what I ended up with (and that’s before the whole, ruining my epic friendship and getting me killed part). If she made up for her lack of looks by say, not getting anyone killed, or ruining everything she touches, it would be a different story.
How could I resist? Found Magnum P.I. season 2 for 10 bucks. Oh, yeah. Love this show. It was cool seeing Tales of the Gold Monkey’s Corky in another episode as a local, by the books Navy guy.
I checked out the first two episodes of the UK show Zen. It’s always a bit odd watching shows as conspicuously and specifically placed in a certain geographic region where the accents are so wrong. It’s one thing when ancient Romans all sport British accents, or medieval knights (even the French and German ones); but a bunch of British accents coming from members of an Italian police force? It’s odd. Made more so by the inconsistency. Still, it’s always good to see Rufus Sewell working.
While watching Cab Calloway in Hi-De-Ho, this past weekend, I got the idea for a great piece of art. I want a painting of Calloway punching Hitler (perhaps over a table in a nightclub). In the background, several members of his band are blasting Nazis with tommy guns, while the others continue to play. Maybe Josephine Baker should be there, blasting some Gestapo goon with a derringer. Berlin could be burning in the background. The more I think about it, the more I like it.
On Friday night, Lisa hosted another gathering of the graphic novel book club. Habibi was the book of the night, and as expected, it brought out some strong opinions. The book deals with some fairly rough subjects. There was some spirited debate about sex and religion, about the portrayal of men vs. women in the book, and about the depiction of different ethnicities. It was an interesting night.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Did you know that The Avengers is coming to blu ray and DVD on September 25th?!?!? Of course you did cuz Marvel is jamming bloopers and special features down the throat of the internet. And I'm eating it up. The Avengers still ranks as my favorite film of the year and I'm perfectly happy standing arm in arm with the geek masses.
Below is the latest commercial for the DVD, a deleted alternate opening for the film. It sets a grim tone and does not at all feel right for the finished product, but it's interesting. And I love that shot of Cap above.
Below is the trailer for Sightseers, the latest bit of scary crazy from Kill List director Ben Wheatley. What starts off as a drama rom com road trip quickly descends into scary absurdity. Edgar Wright gets some big bold letters to announce his Executive Producer credit, and if it's half as good as his name dropped Attack The Block from last year than Sightseers will be absolutely brilliant. And best of luck to Poppy.
Mondo's got another Batman print for all you fanboys. The Batcave by JC Richard measures 20 x 29, will set you back 50 bucks, and goes on sale at a random time on Thursday. Yeah, don't think there's very little chance of snagging this one. But I've got a question, why's Batman hanging his head when he's got so much nifty stuff in that cave. A robot T-Rex, a giant penny, some big ass chess pieces, and a bunch of sweet rides. Buck up, Bats!
There's very little to get excited about this week, really just a bunch of TV and a few rentals. And Battleship...so...yeah-whoopdeedoo! But Boardwalk Empire, that's a seriously entertaining show. Sure, sure, sure - it's not Deadwood genius, but let that go already. It should also be noted that Universal is reissuing Vertigo & The Birds on DVD but for some reason, no blu ray. What the hell? Especially with Vertigo toppling Citizen Kane off the Sight & Sound list; it sure would be nice to see Jimmy Stewart go off the deep end in 1080p. Oh well.
Boardwalk Empire Season 2: I missed this show upon its initial run on HBO, but similar to Game of Thrones, when I got the blu rays I whipped through the first season in just two days. All this talk of "It's Not As Good As Sopranos" is just nonsense. This is a damn fine show with a damn fine cast and an amazing production crew. In a career marked with amazing, strange, and memorable performances Steve Buscemi gives his best as the ambitious mini-kingpin of Atlantic City. And Michael Shannon is sooooooo utterly terrifying as the G-Man determined to take him down. I know, Shannon is always terrifying but in Boardwalk Empire he's righteously terrifying and his stare is as scary, if not scarier than anything you can find in the horror genre.
Walking Dead Season 2: I go back and forth on this show. Some bits of it are absolutely amazing. But some character choices are also incredibly frustrating. I can appreciate the departures it takes from the far superior comic book series, but Lori needs to make up her damn mind, shut up, and just die already. But the Shane/Rick relationship is far more interesting than it ever was in the comic. And there's a heckuva cool season finale that gets me pumped for the next season. Plus, the gore. Nothing nastier on TV. So yeah, I've got the first season in blu and I will have the second--and if I'm gonna buy it I might as well get the Zombie Head.
The Pirates! - Band of Misfits: Nobody in America saw this flick. Well, that's not true. The Wife and I did. And we enjoyed it quite a bit. But after the disappointing box office of this, Paranorman, and the recent shutdown of Henry Selick's latest I guess America just doesn't give a crap about stop motion animation anymore. And that's a damn shame. I love the Pixar stuff as much as the next guy, but I've always been fascinated with the artistry and the time that gets put into stop motion and Aardman Studios are true masters of the craft. But technique is not the be-all and end-all of a good movie. You've got to have a script. And The Pirates is a damn funny send-up of booty flicks like those Johnny Depp blockbusters as well as lesser known gems like Nate & Hays. Plus, Darwin...what a prick.
Headhunters: Norwegian/German production of Jo Nesbo's acclaimed serial killer novel. This got a lot of love from critics and I'm curious to check it out. Since Girl With The Dragon Tattoo everyone's gone gaga for Scandinavian terror flicks, but I have yet to be won over by any of them. Will Headhunters be the one? Don't know. But it's at the top of my Netflix queue.
Screaming in High Heels: Documentary detailing the rise and fall of B Movie actresses Brinke Stevens, Michelle Bauer, and Linnea Quigley. The trailer for the doc don't amaze me, but neither did the trailers for Machete Maidens Unleashed & American Grindhouse and I enjoyed the hell outta those. And these actresses and their crappy little direct-to-video flicks were very important to 13 year old Brad. I'm ready to relive that glorious time of Fred Olen Ray cheapies.
Battleship: Some sick part of me wants to see this again. Was it really as boring as I remember it being? Did Taylor Kitsch actually utter the line "Chicken Burrito Her!" Liam Neeson was cool, right? He's awesome in everything, right? But I can wait another six months before I torture myself with this dull ass summer flick.
Monday, August 27, 2012
It’s no secret that space exploration is very important to me, so the death of a champion, not for nation but for Humanity, saddens me. However, I think not of his death, but his achievements on your and my behalf. And the light he held should guide us forward. Showing in the strongest possible way (for his time) that humanity is more than a simple ape, more than hand-molded mud, more than a simple collection of chemistry. We, as a species, have harnessed fire, shaped earth, produced Beethoven, and thanks in large part to Armstrong, stood on the surface of another world. Dreamers and doers, we struggle against our biology, to rise above our primitive fears, face, understand, and glory in the wonder of reality.
For a time, Neil Armstrong carried the torch of human progress. He carried our hopes and our dreams, and for just a moment, we were all up there with him. From our ignoble, primordial beginnings to the surface of the Moon, we made our mark and he was our pen. It falls to every one of us to make sure that his efforts, and those of all our ancestors, have not been without cause. We must rise up. We must not stand on the beach when the ocean is in front of us.
The man will be missed, but his achievements will remain. And his spirit of adventure and wonder will continue with us to the stars.
This was a damn fun Week in Dork. Well...besides coming down with a nasty case of the retail plague. But the plague allowed for some serious downtime in the apartment where I consumed a crap ton of movies, TV, and comics. Win! I finally jumped into the reverse Coen Brothers marathon I'd been planning for the last couple of months and I'm having a blast going back in time with these twisted siblings. And if push came to shove, I would have to go with the Coens as my favorite directors on the planet, and so far I can only think of one film of theirs that I really just have no time for...scroll down to find out which one.
Doing the marathon in reverse order has been a blast too. After The Man Who Wasn't There in 2001 there was this period in time where people thought (me included) that The Coens were winding down. Then 2007 brought No Country For Old Men, their most unique film to date, and a new era in Coen cinema was born. Burn After Reading, A Serious Man, True Grit. I love every damn one of these movies; each one has made my Top Ten lists for their prospective years. I managed to pack in the last 12 years this week, and I'm racing to get to Blood Simple.
And thanks to Matt and cineAWESOME! (their Jesse Stone eps, actually), I'm a full blown Magnum PI addict. I whipped through the first season in record time and I'm stunned that The Wife & I still managed to conclude the second season of Deep Space Nine as well. People ask me how I consume all this dorkery and sometimes I'm flabbergasted by my ability to do so as well. Seriously, what the hell? Did I create more hours in the day this week. Certainly appears so.
TV OF THE WEEK!
Magnum PI - Season One: I grew up with this show. Magnum PI, The A Team, Knight Rider, and Simon & Simon. You want to understand the 1980s than you watch these shows. Tom Selleck is so damn charismatic as the Vietnam Vet turned Hawaiian Private Dick Playboy. Five minutes into this show and I was mancrushing all over the place. I'm not afraid to admit it. Men want to be Tom Magnum and women want to be with Tom Magnum. He's the king of mustache cool. Sure, there's not much to the show. Magnum gets a case. There's a guest star (Ian McShane! Ted Danson!). He solves the case. But it's soooooooooo much goofy fun. We're having a Halloween party this year and I definitely have my costume already picked out...just need to find a Detroit Tigers ballcap.
Star Trek - Deep Space Nine Season Two: The show is still finding its ground in the second season, but the Cardassian/Bajor relations get more interesting thanks to Andy Robinson's devious Garak and Nurse Ratchet's heinous Vedak vile. The series also gets a couple of highlights thanks to an Odo flashback, Bernie Casey's Marquis baddie, and the re-introduction of the Mirror, Mirror universe. And season 2 climaxes with the introduction of the Dominion foot soldiers, The Jem'Hadar and the promise of greater future conflicts. Season 3 is where the show really finds its legs and I cannot wait for Sisko to loose his hair.
MOVIES OF THE WEEK!
Red: Had to follow up last week's Expendables birthday bash with more nostalgic gunplay. Red is a joyous PG-13 Audience Approved Action picture with the added bonus cast of adorable Grumpy Old Men. Seriously, I just wanted to snatch up John Malkovich's LSD burn-out machine gun enthusiast like a weepy eyed puppy and squeeze him to death! "Poop On That!" indeed. But besides big boys like Malkovich, Willis, Freeman, and Miran you've got great little turns from classics like Ernest Borgnine, Richard Dryfuss, Brian Cox, and even James Remar (for about 3 seconds). And yes, the sanitized not-R violence was handled well providing a surprisingly intense MTV-cutty roustabout between Willis and Karl Urban. So, if you can handle the cuteness and the silly than you will have plenty of fun with Red. I'm ready for the sequel.
The Sitter: "Make Love To The Night!" Damn. I laughed too much at this raunchy Adventures in Babysitting remake. Jonah Hill is left in charge of three psychotic pre teens who do their darndest to prevent the oversexed loser from scoring coke from Sam Rockwell's muscle enthusiast and bagging skanky Ari Graynor. The Sitter is probably primed to leave my mind thirty seconds after writing this paragraph but it produced several good bellylaughs during its hour and twenty minutes of time killer.
True Grit: Forget the original, the Coen Brothers have delivered an instant Western classic in their adaptation of the Charlie Portis novel. Jeff Bridges is a nasty, disgusting beast of a marshal and if his lack of sobriety gives young, vengeful Mattie Ross any pause, his wicked trigger finger sates her bloodlust. Matt Damon is the real surprise as cock-of-the-walk Texas Ranger LaBoeuf and his teethy bickerings with Bridges' Rooster Cogburn provide many of the films quotable guffaws. Rounding out the cast are a plethora of ugly brutes, most notably troglodyte Josh Brolin and the spitty Barry Pepper. But let's not forget the gorgeous cinematography from Roger Deakins or the mythic score from Carter Burwell. True Grit belongs right to the top of the Coen's masterful CV.
A Serious Man: "This Man Bothering You?" A brutally hilarious modernization of the destruction of Job, Michael Stuhlbarg delivers one of the great modern performances as the doomed physics professor suffering life's hateful treasures. Few films have had me aching with laughter like A Serious Man and I don't know if I should feel ashamed or commended for being in on The Coen Brothers' beautiful joke. Strangely (or maybe not), I think this would make a perfect companion film to The Big Lebowski--that other visual feast detailing a Dante-esque decent into the hell of stupidity and frustration.
Burn After Reading: "I thought you might be worried about the security of your shit." This is kinda the demented cousin to Ocean's 11. Just like A Serious Man, Burn After Reading chronicles the horrors of humanity but with a more vulgar Marx Brothers kind of lunacy. Frances McDormand's plastic surgery obsessed hardbody gets in way over her head after she discovers the unpublished memoirs of John Malkovich's blathering memoir. She and the ipod jacked Brad Pitt might see money to be made, but there's nothing to be found in this scheme but eye popping dildos and axe chopped foreheads. Burn After Reading seemed to be quickly forgotten but if yer as twisted as I am than you might discover the most quotable film in The Coen Brothers cannon. "I KNOW WHO YOU ARE FUCKER!"
No Country For Old Men: A deeply dark and depressing Western Noir that brilliantly and frustratingly thumbs it's nose at the conventions of both genres; No Country For Old Men only gets better with multiple viewings. A chase picture that sees Javier Bardem's demonic hitman tracking Josh Brolin's happenstance cowboy with an exhausted Tommy Lee Jones trailing behind their bloody wake--it's not gonna end well. No Country is both like and unlike any other Coen Brothers flick. It has the darkness of Miller's Crossing and Fargo, but lacks their wink. Whatever the case, great cinema. Putting together the best films of the last ten years, No Country For Old Men falls near the top.
The Ladykillers: "Gimme That Donut Money!" I'm a fan. So much so that I claim Tom Hanks' performance as the Foghorn Leghorn Professor Dorr to be his absolute best, and his snooty, vile criminal mastermind is one of the great screen villains. Yes, yes, yes--how dare I say anything good about a film that would dare remake the Alec Guinness classic but the way The Coens mix the presence of a vengeful God into the fray along with the ghost painting of Otho heightens this black comedy silly into magical mondo madness. And Irma P Hall is a force unto herself, the poor thieving saps never stood a chance against her righteousness. Even the normally abysmal Marlon Waynes is a treat with his profane proclamations and his hatred of Mountain Girl. So, hater, take that chip off your shoulder and try to appreciate the absurdity of one of cinema's best remakes. Otherwise, I'll sic The General on your nostrils.
Paranorman: This stop-motion monster mash is gory gobs of kiddie fun that's very much in the same vein of 80s classics like The Monster Squad, Explorers, and The Goonies. A group of disparate misfits are forced together to battle a cluster of terrified zombies and one hateful witch. Paranorman is quick and clever, and quite the relief in the sea of modern happy-happy family friendly kid fare--this is the film for your outsider child, and they're all outsiders.
Intolerable Cruelty: This is really the only Coen Brothers film that I find to be completely unappealing. Clooney is pretty much perfect as the teeth obsessed lawyer trapped inside this wannabe Tracy/Hepburn comedy, but the jokes feel incredibly staged and fall flat rather than achieving cleverness. There's a falsity to the film, and not in that charming Wes Anderson artificial beauty kinda way but just a runofthemill romcom situation. I did apprecieate the change of character for Billy Bob Thorton, this chitter chatter attacker following the slowmo thoughtful gazes of the far superior...
The Man Who Wasn't There: "Me, I don't talk much. I just cut the hair." Billy Bob Thorton's Ed Crane is another classic Coen character. He barely says a word. He smokes like a chimney. He's a barber who wants to be a dry cleaner. And when that desire leads him to the film noir nightmare that is this film we are treated with the most amazing barrage of narration ever put to screen. I would put this right up there with Miller's Crossing, The Big Lebowski, and No Country For Old Men as the absolute peak of Coen artistry. Flying Saucers and never ending hair...what's it all mean? Not sure. Just pay the lawyer and accept your fate.
COMICS OF THE WEEK!
Saga #6: Yep, yep, yep. Definitely one of my favorite books on the stands right now. Marko & Family reach the Rocketship Forest and the universe of the book immediately expands. As does the Family itself. After the shocking final pages of last issue, it’s good to see this fresh book has plenty of surprises to drop on us. One helluva cliffhanger after another. And yeah, The Will is gonna destroy Prince Robot.
Bloodshot #2: Issue two does a better job of detailing the crazy that is Bloodshot’s brain and it goes a long way in increasing my interest in the title. Conspiracies within conspiracies wrapped in great gobs of soupy blood. And Bloodshot loves his steak. Gross.
Daredevil #17: It seems like I can’t walk into a comic shop or listen to a podcast without being hassled by a dozen nerds telling me how genius Mark Waid’s run on Daredevil has been. So when I saw Madman artist Mike Allred pop on for a one shot, I decided to give the book a go. I don’t know if this is the revelation some people are claiming it to be, but Waid writes a fun Matt Murdock. Which is definiltey a change from the brooding tragic hero I’m used to…but I like my Daredevil tragic. And I guess it’s unfair to judge a book on one issue but I much much much prefer Bendis & Maleeve’s crime opera to this horse play. Still, Allred is soooooo much fun to read. And I’m really looking forward to his take on Matt Fraction’s FF.
The Victories #1: Here’s another book people seem really excited about. The Next Watchmen! Uh…yeah, I don’t think so. Sure, it’s set in an “adult” comic book universe where super heroes and villains say "fuck" a lot and shit down the throats of district judges but Greatness that does not make. And I’ve enjoyed Michael Avon Oeming’s art better in a dozen other books. It’s fun, but I’ll just wait for trade if I bother picking it up at all.
Fatale #7: Still my favorite book currently on the stands. Issue 6 read almost like a first issue, but #7 reveals how this Hollywood Cult plot will play into the overall horror of Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips’ epic. B Movie star (?) Miles is definitely much more of the sadsack than Nicholas Lash or his uncle, I can see this junkie reaching a horrible and probably gory end. And the second I turned the last page I was aching for the next.
The Rocketeer - Cargo of Doom: I love the movie. I really like Dave Stevens original batch of comics. And The Rocketeer deserves a place next to the other typical comic super heroes. Written by Daredevil’s Mark Waid, Cargo of Doom is another light, fun frolic through the pulps with a mysterious shipment of scaly creatures on their way to rassel with goodboy pilot Cliff Secord. But how will this affect his relationship with bombshell Betty? And who is that creeper lurking in the bushes? I’m hoping for Rondo Hatton.
Batman Incorporated #3: Well, I had to wait an extra month but issue three was worth the wait. Easily my favorite of the New 52 relaunch books, Grant Morrison introduces Bruce Wayne’s gangster counterpart Matches Malone into the universe, and he is appropriately goofy cool. Wayne is obviously thrilled playing the mustached part with his Hollywood lingo and abrasive chauvinism. Plus, BAT COW LIVES!!!!! Damn right.
Archer & Armstrong #1: Unlike Bloodshot and X-O Manowar, I never read Archer & Armstrong during its initial run and I only have the tiniest of memories of its original plot. The relaunch is pretty interesting. Starts off in Ancient Mesopotamia with a sci-fi cataclysm and quickly jumps into present day with Creationland amusement parks and whackjob religious zealots. Archer leaves the cult for New York City and the Beast of the Apocalypse or something, and Armstrong bounces his way into the action with his ancient knowledge. Definitely curious to see where this book goes but I’m not aching for the next issue…but I guess that could be said for all the Valiant books. They haven’t reached the status of Must Reads…yet.
Fatima - The Blood Spinners #3: Just when I think this book can’t gross me out any further, I’m shocked into revulsion as a I watch a couple of Blood Spinner agents get impregnated by big black slimy maggots. Fatima can’t trust her friends after she jumps seven years into the future, but she doesn’t have time for doubt as she’s blasting junkies in the face and escaping the gullets of roving slug beasts. Just a fun, gross, and weird book.
Lobster Johnson - The Prayer of Neferu: I really want to love these Lobster Johnson books but they have yet to amaze me in the same fashion as Hellboy or BPRD. That being said, this latest one shot is a fun pulp adventure with the Lobster’s claw brandishing justice on a bunch of Mummy worshipers. Artist Wilfredo Torres should definitely stick around the Mignolaverse—his cartoony style is reminiscent of Jonathan Case’s crisp heroic characters and with Dave Stewarts colors Lobster Johnson seems to pop off the page. Disposable, but good.
American Barbarian: Tom Scioli channels the architecture of Jack Kirby's New Gods for this riotous homage to the sci-fi action of yesteryear. But this is not just drab imitation, Scioli drenches American Barbarian with uproarious vulgarity that ignites plenty of chuckles as you watch the youngest son of Yoosaman slash & bash the armies of the Two-Tank Omen. Imagine the post apocalypse of Mad Max populated with the goofy grandeur of the Silver Age and you'll get some idea for this colorful book. It's not quite the genius of Scioli's Godland, but there's plenty of crazy to enjoy.
THE ULTIMATE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY BOOK CLUB!
Habibi by Craig Thompson: Our first two meetings were centered on a couple of very Super Heroy comic books (Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men and Batman - The Long Halloween). For our next effort, the group wanted to tackle something a bit more "serious." Sigh, yes, yes, I treat X-Men & Batman very seriously but it was time to expand the minds of the group-show folks that this medium is not just for capes & cowls. But maybe Habibi was too far into the deep end of the pool, and they might not have been properly prepared for the horrors that the book puts its main characters through.
The story of a nine year old girl sold into marriage; she must navigate a life of slavery as a revered member of the Sultan's harem...well, that's where the sexual horror comes into play and Craig Thompson does not shy from revealing the torture of these characters. But Habibi is also the story of two damaged children surviving their lives using the stories of the Bible, the Torah, and the Qu'arn. And somewhere in all this horror they find each other, loose each other, and find each other again. SPOILERS.....some in the Book Club were dreading a horrible end to this Epic, but I could see the light on the horizon. Unlike most of the others, I read Habibi is two quick bursts over the course of 24 hours and as I blitzed through its pages I just knew this was a book of hope. And I found myself uplifted by the endeavors of these lost kids.
I'm not sure if Habibi is the Best Graphic Novel of the last ten years, but it is a pretty damn fantastic book. Turns out, it's not for everybody-no shock there-but if you can handle frank depictions of both sex and violence while being interconnected with stories of faith than you will find this tome to be quite rewarding.
And the art!!! Yowza, Craig Thompson is a fine storyteller but his cartooning is some of the absolute best. There are pages in this book that totally floored me. The way he transforms arabic into not just the borders of the panels, but the rain, the rivers, the animals of Habibi--it's stunning. You can tear out any page in this book and hang it right on your wall. It's art.