A light week. Guess I was just taking it easy on the dorkdom front. My enthusiasm for this year's Oscars was fairly extreme though - for the first time ever I managed to watch nearly every nomination including all of the major awards and even the short films. Devouring that much content will get you excited for any award ceremony, even one that's as awkward and misguided as The Academy Awards. At the very least I gotta appreciate Seth Macfarlane's obvious manhandling of the ceremony, hamfisting my favorite Federation Captain into the opening act. Seeing Shatner floating above the stage was surreal and enjoyable, despite some lame brain comedy that didn't just fall flat, it sank like a (kidney) stone.
The 85th Annual Academy Awards: Well, evaluating my predictions last week, I missed 6. Argo took home the big prize; as did Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence, & Anne Hathaway. No big shocks there. I was pleased to see Christophe Waltz win Best Supporting Actor - I guess that man should never stray too far from QT. And speaking of ego incarnate, Tarantino shockingly took home the Best Original Screenplay Oscar and despite some chatter about homage vs originality, it's hard to believe that this is his first gold statue since his writing win for Pulp Fiction. I was too cute in my thinking as far as the Best Director category was concerned. Spielberg & Ang Lee did not split the vote for Russell, and Ang got his accolades for Life of Pi. Not sure I can really hate on that, he did a fine enough job on that film. My problems with Life of Pi stem from the content of the narrative not so much the filmmaking. As far as the show itself goes, it was the usual mess of misfires and chintzy class. I can't say that I full-on hated Seth Macfarlane as host (especially when you consider James Franco's cokehead turn of yesteryear), but I'm a little tired of the standup routine. I wanted more of his soft shoe and less of his dull potty humor. At the very least he did get Tommy Lee Jones to chuckle. Kudos. Best bits included dancing - Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Daniel Radcliffe, Charlize Theron & Channing Tatum. I definitely want more film celebration and less mockery. These Hollywood egos make such easy targets anyway, and it would be nice if The Academy Awards actually had respect for their art. The tribute to Bond was nice and all, but not much more than a glorified DVD extra.
The Walking Dead Season 3 - "Aint No Judas": Andrea comes crawling back to the prison, and Rick & Company want nothing to do with her. Can't say I blame them, I was waiting the whole episode for Merle to pig stick her. Of all the tragic interpretations from comic to screen, Andrea is easily the most brutally butchered in the writer's room. As if Dale wasn't self righteous enough, Andrea takes up his mantel, screaming her all-knowing wisdom at her former gang of sadsacks. As the show built to its final moments I was almost certain The Governor was going to slit her throat - no real SPOILERS here, but obviously this show is still concerned with stretching the season than deliver shock & awe. Nothing important happened here. You could probably skip this ep altogether and not even notice. The sick thing is though, now that my respect for this show has pretty much vanished, I'm starting to really enjoy the presence of Michael Rooker. He's the ham of the series, and this drab narrative certainly could seriously use some ham.
Batman Incorporated #8: I'd warn you of spoilers, but DC pretty much gives it to ya on that cover above. One of the most notable aspects to Grant Morrison's run on Batman has been the acceptance of Damian Wayne into the hearts of DC fanboys everywhere. Seven years ago, Morrison reached back into the 1980s and yanked the forgotten child of Talia Al Ghul & Bruce Wayne out of an Elseworld's one-shot (Son of the Demon) and plopped him into continuity. And for that "Batman & Son" storyarc we got a lot of bitching & moaning from the internet community. However, through much hard work and creative labor, Morrison proved the new arrogant Robin to be not only the real deal Son of The Batman, but a sidekick worthy of both Wayne & original Boy Wonder Dick Grayson. Damian Wayne is what makes Grant Morrison my favorite Bat-Writer. He does not dismiss the whacky, crazy, or stupid of comics. He loves it all. He uses it all. Bat-mite. Knight & Squire. Zur-En-Arrh. Bastard children. They all exist in his universe. He makes the square bricks fit into the triangular holes like the meanest block smashing infant. And his crazy multicolored tapestry is set ablaze with this single issue...out of the ashes will hopefully arise his masterpiece. Now we all know that Dead Ain't Dead in comic books. Damian Wayne will return - just look to your left, that's the other once-dead Robin, Jason Todd waving at you. But for Morrison, Damian is dead. Don't expect this writer to script another animal-loving sentiment from him again. And for my money, Batman Inc #8 has more punch and anger than anything Scott Snyder was trying to do with his Death of the Family arc found in the flagship sister title. This has been a long time coming and I cannot wait to see Batman face-to-face with the mother & killer of his son. It's gonna be ugly.
Justified Season 4 - "Outlaw": Possibly my favorite episode of the season so far. Raylan accidentally sets into motion events that land papa Arlo into the infirmary. There father & son exchange more nasty familial hate, and the origin of Raylan's rage is obviously buried deep within their contempt-filled stares. Meanwhile, across town, Boyd pits the Detroit Mafia against the rich bastards controlling Harlan and despite a close call, the quickdraw Raylan Givens puts Boyd on top of the backwoods Kentucky Empire. Of course, Cousin Johnny has other plans. Have we now reached a point where Ralyan & Boyd will ride this season out together? It definitely feels like we're at the end even if the whole Drew Thompson mystery seems less important every day.
Nemo - Heart of Ice: Taking place between Books 1 & 2 of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century, this one-shot is a much needed return to the spirit of classic Adventure Comics. As much as I loved the reference-blitzing insanity of Century, it's nice to be reminded that Alan Moore doesn't treat everyone of his creations as an acid laced internal plunge into his Heart of Darkness. This book picks up right as Captain Nemo's daughter (Pirate Jenny) robs the American tycoon, Charles Foster Kane of some treasure that Allan Quartermain would no doubt find appealing. Nemo's spawn escapes to Antarctica, where following her fathers rambling journals, discovers The Mounts of Madness. Still, as much fun as you can have spotting Lovecraft and Tom Swift, Heart of Ice is singularly enjoyable as an Adventure Comic. It's impossible for you (or at least me) to grasp all the literary links, but it's less important here than the more recent LXG outings. Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neal are simply concocting a fun read - the winks are cute, but not necessary.
Gattaca: Matt's been bothering me for a long time (possibly our entire existence together) to watch this flick. It's something that's obviously near and dear to his heart. That much anticipation can sometimes make it difficult to enjoy and I tend to drag ass when people shove dvds in my hand. I know that's why he's never seen Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid - a film I generally pester him about. This week he finally forced me in front of the television to watch his blu ray copy. And it's a solid flick. I'm not the biggest Ethan Hawke fan, but I appreciate how he inhabits a good boy 1950s attitude. In fact, I like the general warmth that his character has towards space travel and adventures in science. Not sure I totally agree with Matt in regards of the film's final answer to the question of Frankensteinian anti-science storytelling, and the final moments for Jude Law felt anti-climactic as well as rushed. And yeah, I really don't like the cold blooded Uma Thurman. She's meant to be a sterile character but she felt generally lifeless.
The Imposter: A fascinating and mentally frustrating documentary. There were points in the narrative that had me shouting at the screen "WHAT!?!?" or "YOU'VE GOT TO BE JOKING!" Similar to my response to the heinous actions discovered in The Invisible War, this documentary boggled my mind as far as what people were willing to do as well as willing to accept as a means to Keep On Trucking. A 13 year old boy goes missing in San Antonio, Texas. Three years later, a 24 year old Frenchman claiming to be that child is accepted by both the family and the US Government. Told talking head style from the mouths of The Imposter, the G-Men, and the family members; the mystery never quite unravels but its path is both shocking and deeply sad. I really hope that the documentarians return to this subject further down the line, I want to know more - I need to know more.
FF #4: Matt Fraction has delivered one of the few standouts from the Marvel Now relaunch. Funny, considering how ordinary his sister book, The Fantastic Four, feels in comparison with this oddball beauty. And this latest issue is an even better Valentine than last month's cute, but gloomy Sue & Reed tale. The Moloids are madly in love with She-Hulk - an impossible, aching teacherly crush. When they learn of her prospective date, The Moloids must act drastically. They partner with Bentley-23, attempt to raise monsters out of oceans, and rape the mind of hapless waiters. But all their efforts hopelessly bring She-Hulk closer into the arms of her lover. Mike Allred continues to kill it on art, and I wanted to instagram nearly every panel of this book. Final words: just darling.
The Rocketeer - Hollywood Horror #1: I wanted to love this book. Mark Waid's previous Rocketeer mini, Cargo of Doom, was pure pulpy bliss. However, Roger Langridge's work on this first issue feels rather ordinary and I don't respond well to J Bone's Darwyn Cookey art style. It's another story in which evil scientist and government goons want Cliff's backpack - does this really have to be the plot of every Rocketeer comic? But I'm still continuing. After all, Cargo of Doom was only a so-so first issue and the promise of Lovecraftian tentacles (hmmmm, a theme this week) and Betty's female empowerment meddling is appealing. We'll just have to see next issue.
Hawkeye #8: I was kinda lukewarm on Fraction's last issue, but #8 is back in the saddle of greatness. The mysterious redhead from previous issues appears again to make-out with Clint and embarrass him in front of all his exes (Black Widow, what a bitch). She's got something dark & dangerous stored inside a safe, and the combination to its secrets are hidden within a batch of yellowed romance comics. David Aja has all kinds of fun with those fake covers. What I love so much about this title is how Fraction can take one & done storytelling and still manage to complete an overarching narrative. The Bro Gang is back, they're chit chatting it up with The Owl & The Kingpin. Life is only going to get more difficult for my new favorite Avenger. Cannot wait to see more awkward pain land on his doorstep.
Gone With The Wind: Woot! I completed another Cinematic Resolution! And who knew it would be so closely tied in emotion with Birth of a Nation? I certainly had no idea I would react so poorly to the plight of Scarlet O'Hara. But when I saw it on the AFI Silver's calendar I knew I wanted my first experience with this film to be on The Big Screen. Not at grandma's house. Not on Turner Classic Movies or TNT. This movie is grande and it's meant to be seen 100 feet tall. So The Wife, Matt, & I jumped in the car and flew to the theater Saturday afternoon. And we all hated it. Yes folks, wait for it...I Hated Gone With The Wind. **GASP** **CRY HAVOC** and **BOO!** One friend on Facebook told me I'm just a victim of overblown expectations. Maybe. But I genuinely knew nothing about this film other than "Frankly Scarlet, I don't give a damn," that it was tied to the Civil War, and that it was really, really long. I had no idea that Vivian Leigh's Scarlet was just a manipulative and heinous human being. I'm told we're supposed to despise her. Mission accomplished. I wanted to slap her across the face for nearly the entire four hour run time. Especially since she seems to enjoy slapping the hell outta her slaves and lovers. Clark Gable is a stunning brute. I enjoyed his spitting dialogue and self-depricating morality. At least he knew he was a monster. A rapist to boot, but thankfully when morning comes, Scarlet seems to enjoy the act of rape. No means yes after all. But I can enjoy a film peppered with deplorable human beings (see LA Confidential, Unforgiven, French Connection, Citizen Kane, and a million other movies). What really irked me about Gone With The Wind is its general romanticizing of the good old days - you know where "the sound of negro laughter" filled the stables. The title itself is an insult, sweeping across the screen as blacks pick cotton in the field. Just gross. I love overwrought melodrama as much as the next guy, but Gone With The Wind left a shameful taste in my mouth. Not nearly as bitter or sad as Birth of a Nation, but it shared the same flavor.