But the most fun I've had this week, and the program that has kept me from rabbit holing into the Blaxploitation genre, is David Milch's Deadwood. I have been downright giddy lavishing over the first season with The Wife, and I cannot begin to describe how lovely it is to be married to someone who appreciates the word "cocksucker" as much as I do. Huzzah, I say! And to witness The Wife's transformation from an Ian McShane hater into one of his proud, dirty flock has been a great reward. We've also been picking away at LOST & the last season of Supernatural, but it's Deadwood that has really stuck in her consciousness. And that's beautiful.
A Good Day To Die Hard: Yippee Ki-Yawn. That pretty much sums up my feelings for this fifth and hopefully final entry in the Die Hard franchise. I really loved the silly, smiley trailer as well as the general concept of Papa McClane devastating the USSR - I mean Russia (so awesomely 80s!) as a means of reconnecting with his 007 son. And Jai Courtney is pretty much a spot-on spawn of Bruce Willis. He's got the head cock, the smirk, the general blue collar attitude. However, director Stuart Moore just sucks the life right outta the action. A Good Day to Die Hard is nearly 90 minutes of continuous (PG-13 clothed in R) violence, but the camera pathetically mimics the Paul Greengrass style with too-tight closups and never-settle editing. The result is a snooze; I checked out ten minutes into the initial bumper derby car chase and never got back into the story. I opened my eyes for a couple of F Bombs as well as Cole Hauser's pointlessly brief G-man. So if Willis can't score with his go-to Die Hard franchise, Schwarzenegger & Stallone might as well hang up their icons. Time for these beasts of the 1980s to reevaluate their twilight years - you can't go home again, move on, find new parts to play.
Deadwood - Season 1: When does Deadwood become my favorite thing ever? I'm talking books, movies, comics, tv. Deadwood reigns supreme in my heart. The first episode directed by Walter Hill is a bit of a clunker. It's not terrible tv, but the actors don't have their characters just yet, and David Milch & company are still developing the outlaw nation setting. It takes a few hours - Wild Bill needs to be executed so reluctant sheriff Seth Bullock can complete his hero worship. The Dude has to reconnoiter the rim and shuffle (get chucked) off this mortal coil. But once the pieces fall into place and the Shakespearean horror takes full bloody effect, Deadwood climbs to the top of My Favorite Things list. We all know how much I love Timothy Olyphant's Raylan Givens, and the deep buried rage of Seth Bullock could very well be his great grandfather. It had been far too long since I visited the Black Hills. This show pretty much birthed my enthusiasm for Westerns. Sure, Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven was the beginning, but I didn't understand that film until I rewatched it through the prodding prism of HBO's mesmerizing psycho drama. And that Best Picture reexamination led to Glendon Swarthout's novel, The Shootist, and the obsession with oaters was complete. The Wife doesn't quite hold the show in the extreme esteem that I do, but I was pleasantly surprised to see her fall hard for this foul world. On to the second season.
Warm Bodies: This was fun. Cute. I'm just so darn sick of the Romero knockoffs; it's nice to see a zombie film approach the genre from a different angle even if it is the Teen Genre (I can't believe it's actually become a genre). Nicholas Holt narrates the film as our reluctant flesheater, his body returns to life after eating the brains of Teresa Palmer's boyfriend - the awkwardly eyebrowy David Franco. While digesting a little knowledge his heart begins to beat again and the ultimate family friendly necropheliac film is born. You gotta love how wonderfully prepackaged this sickie has been presented to the public and it's much better than it has any right to be, especially when you compare it to other teen hits like Twilight and The Hunger Games.
The Walking Dead Season 3 - "Home": Definitely a stronger episode than the last, but the bad taste of "The Suicide King" is still swamped on my tongue. It annoys me how no one at the prison is addressing how crazy brains Rick has become. The man lost his shit last episode and when we find his crew again they're just arguing amongst themselves like usual, but not one brings up the specter attuned Rick - who wobbles away to shout at the woods. The Governor & Andrea bicker as well, & the crybaby dictator launches a meek attack on the prison. I dig his Trojan Horse assault, but this war better reach epic heights before the season ends. I hate to continue comparing this show to the comic book series, but where are Robert Kirkman's balls? That man loves to punish his characters but AMC seems scared to create no-turning back scenarios. Weaksauce.
Savage Wolverine #2: Still fun. But I want more Frank Cho Shanna and less Frank Cho Wolverine. But since this is a Logan title I guess I just have to accept that as an impossibility. A new guy (ugh, more ladies please Frank) shows up with some techno force field, but the mystery doesn't deepen it just gets more foggy - I have no clue what's going on or why I should care. But I'm sticking to it for Frank's She Devil, and I'm thinking she's going to have Logan wrapped around her thong - I mean, finger, in no time flat.
Captain America #4: Unless something drastic happens, this is the last time I write about Rick Remender's Captain America. I'm going to keep on reading cuz I love Cap so much I will torture myself with horrendous plotting. The first page reads: Eleven Years Later. Captian America still has a Zola living in his chest, and that makes the parenting of his clone baby a little difficult. I guess I can appreciate how balls out bananas this title has become, but it's just so damn stupid. And ugly. I'm no longer amused with JRJR's renderings, all his beasts look the same and his kids are a bunch of balloon heads. I'm done with this Marvel Now horror show.
Nova #1: I don't know anything about Nova - only that he belongs to a space corps that looks pathetically similar to DC's Green Lantern Corps. But I've enjoyed Jeph Loeb comics in the past, even the books in which he's partnered with Ed McGuinness. Sam Alexander is a bratty teenager living in a dirt heap of a town reminiscent of The Last Starfighter's trailer park hell hole. His lifetime has been filled with his father's stories of space war and he's sick of it. But when pop goes missing and Rocket Raccoon appears at the end of his bed, Alexander is given the chance to suit up. A fun enough intro, I'll keep going.
BPRD 1948 #5: I'm not sure I loved this mini as much as the previous BPRD prequels - I'm gonna need to read it as a whole before I pass judgement. But right now I can confidently state that I enjoyed the tiny moments with little Hellboy than I did the big plot with Professor Bruttenholm. The kid's B story regarding his appearance is some of the most heartfelt storytelling to come out of the Mignolaverse. Anyone who has ever asked "What are those goggles on Hellboy's head?" should look to this miniseries for their origin. Artist Max Fiumara perfectly captures the sadness behind this moment.
Saga #10: Gah! Brian K Vaughen why must you keep killing off my favorite characters in this book!?!?!? If you're not careful I'll jump ship cuz the main Romeo & Juliet couple are not enough for me to keep reading; it's the crazy alien beasties that I really want to explore. The moment Prince Robot or The Will are gone so will I.
The Split: Easily the weakest movie adapted from a Richard Stark novel (this time out it's The Seventh), The Split nevertheless has one of the most fascinating casts ever assembled. You've got Jim Brown up front as the Parker stand-in. Ernest Borgnine, Jack Klugman, Warren Oates, and Donald Sutherland bickering amongst themselves as Brown's goon squad. Gene Hackman is the local law enforcement. And James Whitmore is the psychotic outsider threatening their big score. That is one hell of a cast. So why does The Split fail so miserably? Well, it's boring! And lifeless! And so damn frustrating. Brown & Borgnine do have a pretty badass brawl in the middle of the picture and the cast makes it worth a watch if not a purchase, but when this film should be exploding with character actor rage, The Split sputters to a climax. A real Hollywood bummer.
The Slams: This is a little bit better than The Split, but still not the exploitation classic you want it to be. Jim Brown is arrested after a nasty little double cross heist and lands behind bars with an array of Roger Corman savages (this is brother Gene's production). There he must fend for himself in the laundry rooms and the metal shop while big burly dudes try to pummel the missing million dollar loot from his memory. Brown concocts an escape plan with his girlfriend and an outsider pimp, but the violence never gets as extreme as it should for this kinda picture - I feel like Gene Corman and director Jonathan Kaplan are attempting a more classic approach to this cheapie production when it should just throw itself into the muck of its setting. Frankly, the poster is better than the movie.
Justified Season 4 - "Money Trap": Jody, the dirtbag criminal with a weakness for airbags last seen in the first episode of this season, returns here as the cold blooded killer of Raylan's ex. There is some Elmore Leonardy side story involving a wannabe filmmaker and the ridiculously named Jackie Nevada but this Justified entry succeeds thanks to another classic climax confrontation. Not to mention we get some serious Papa Arlo hate in the last few minutes. This season is burning towards its climax but we don't feel any closer to the Drew Thompson mystery. Still, it's nice to get a breather from the plot and have a moment for Raylan to showdown.
El Condor: "If my mother was a whisky cow the milk from her tit couldn't be any sweeter than that." Oh man, Lee Van Cleef is a degenerate louse, goofily grimacing his way into our hearts while plundering for gold with calvary killer Jim Brown. El Condor is a strange buddy cop Western with both Van Cleef and Brown playing for laughs and miraculously succeeding. El Condor is peppered with fun bits of weirdo villainy and violence, as well as decent amounts of B Movie nudity. Unlike The Split & The Slams, El Condor is a lost should-be exploitation classic - And a Western to boot! So good it sent me running to that other Jim Brown cowboy classic -