Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Fistful of Summer Anticipation! (Brad's Picks)

April is here.  Enjoy it cuz you've got just one month before the Summer Movie season explodes and from what I've been hearing it's gonna be a bloodbath.  Week after Week we've got Huge tentpole movies and some fine franchises are gonna be dead in the water before they've even hit Saturday night.  It's not like Mel Gibson's The Beaver can survive a blow from Thor's hammer.  And good luck Green Lantern, I'm betting you're gonna be Cars 2's roadkill.  

But that's a problem for the bankers.  Us movie geeks are gonna have ourselves some fun.  Anyway, here are the flicks I'm craving.

5.  Transformers:  Dark of the Moon:  Really?  Yeah, and I'm as surprised as you are.  After the embarrassingly awful Revenge of the Fallen, I should be screaming for Michael Bay's head on a stake but I've gotta say the whole Moon conspiracy angle and the Chicago destruction seen in the Super Bowl spot above has got me stoked.  And I want to believe that Bay is making penance for Part 2 with this over-the-top extravaganza.  Plus, today we've just learned that Leonard Nimoy is returning to the world of Autobots and Decepticons as the voice of the moon-stranded Sentinal Prime.  So as long as they keep the potty humor to a minimum (and ditch those awkward racial stereotype bots), I think we're gonna be entertained.

4.  Super 8:  I'm still not 100% sold on this picture, but this splash of Spielberg porn could be quite entertaining.  An angry E.T.?  Plus, in 2009 JJ Abrams crafted one of my personal favorite Summer Movies of recent memory with the Star Trek sequel/reboot, and that alone guarantees my butt in his theater for at least his next three or four movies.  

3.  X-Men First Class:  I love Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass.  A brilliant, demented send-up of the superhero genre.  And now, Vaughn gets his mitts on one of the most popular franchises in comicdom and what does he do?  Drops the muties into the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Yep, an X-Men period piece is right up my ally.  Oh, and I can't wait to see Kevin Bacon's Sebastian Shaw!  He has the potential to me grotesquely villainous.  

2.  Captain America The First Avenger:  Thanks to Ed Brubaker's recent run on the comic, Captain America has become my favorite Marvel superhero.  Then you have Tommy Lee Jones' USA All The Way speech and Stanley Tucci's "a weak man" explanation and suddenly I've got goosebumps all over.  And Joe Johnston directed The Rocketeer, so I know he can depict American Machismo bashing Nazi villainy perfectly.  I dig this trailer so much, it's a shame that Cap has to enter the modern world at all with 2012's Avengers flick.

1.  Cowboys and Aliens:  I don't know if you already know this about me, but I love Westerns.  But what I love more than Westerns are Weird Westerns.  And there aren't too many of those...that are good anyway, From Dusk Till Dawn 3, maybe?  And Jon Favreau?  Yeah, those Iron Man flicks are okay but the movie I think he really knocked outta the park is one most seem to have forgotten.  Zathura, a flick that perfectly captured that nostalgia sci-fi of yesteryear.  Can he put out a Spielbergian John Ford Western?  God, I hope so.  Definitely, dig that cast.  When was the last time Harrison Ford looked as badass as he does in the above trailer?  It sure wasn't K-19 The Widowmaker.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hellboy's Mike Mignola gets Fez of the Week!!!

Never heard of The Fezmonger?  Well, time to educate yourself cuz Fez-O-Rama's Fez of The Week is this beautiful homage to comic book genius Mike Mignola!  For just $65 it could be yours, but act fast, there are only fifty in the world.


The Governator!?! Seriously, Did April Fools Day Come Early?

Whoa.  Seriously, Stan Lee and Arnold Schwarzenegger have teamed up to do an animated television show called The Governator?  Am I dreaming?  Have I wandered into some Sliders alternate universe?  No?  This is happening.  Wow.

Entertainment Weekly has all the nitty gritties, but this Arnie quote pretty much sums up my own feelings on the matter, "When I ran for governor back in 2003 and I started hearing people talking about ‘the Governator,’ I thought the word was so cool. The word Governator combined two worlds: the world of politics and the movie world. And [this cartoon] brings everything together. It combines the governor, the Terminator, the bodybuilding world, the True Lies…" Yeash. This sounds absolutely terrible, but I'm totally there to watch the trainwreck. And who knows? Maybe it will kick all kinds of ass...maybe.

Stan Lee: "The Governator is going to be a great superhero, but he’ll also be Arnold Schwarzenegger. We’re using all the personal elements of Arnold’s life. We’re using his wife [Maria Shriver]. We’re using his kids. We’re using the fact that he used to be governor. Only after he leaves the governor’s office, Arnold decides to become a crime fighter and builds a secret high-tech crime-fighting center under his house in Brentwood.

Retro Poster Art: Conan Der Barbar!!!

Thanks to Cool & Collected for introducing me to this rather amazing German poster for the classic Conan The Barbarian movie.  Honestly, this stirs up some fairly intense emotions regarding the upcoming Marcus Nispel remake...I know we've only gotten a teaser trailer and some anemic set photos, but so far, this "new" take on the Cimmerian boils my blood.  As my ITMOD stalwart is fond of saying, Has Anyone Read Howard's stories?  We'll just wait and see.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More Hobo Art + The Official Green Band Trailer Revealed!

Hobo With A Shotgun hits On Demand in the states this Friday, but won't land in theaters till May 6th.  I'm guessing that I won't be able to wait for the theater experience.  I'm hitting up iTunes as soon as humanly possible.


BLAAAF!!! ZAM!!! ZOLTAR!!! The Poster Art of Adam Juresko!!!

Head on over to No Supervision to check out the retro cool poster art of Adam Juresko.  Of course, I'm always down for a new take on Adam West's Batman and the Zolar Big poster gives me that warm-fuzzy feeling.  


Need This! Hot Toys' Bruce Lee

Sideshow Collectibles is offering three nifty 12-inch collectible figures of cinematic action icon Bruce Lee, but my absolute favorite is the above Bruce Lee 70s Casual Wear version.  Everyone knows that Lee can kick a little butt, especially when decked out in his yellow jumper, but what I love about the 70s Casual Version is that patented wide grin.  He's confident in the absolute knowledge of his badassitude and I find that smile more threatening than any nunchuck twirling.

The figure ain't cheap.  $154.99 (or 77.50 a month using FlexPay) and will be available sometime in the 3rd Quarter of 2011.  And yes, not only do you get those sungasses, but you also get that beach chair.  Sweet.


Monday, March 28, 2011

KRULL POSTER!!!! MUST HAVE!!! Can't get...sad.

This is just an absolute stunner from the good people over at Phantom City Creative.  Another print done in association with Twitch Film for their Back to the 80s screenings.  And again, the poster will be unavailable for the general public.  The only way to get one?  5 copies to be given away at the theater...sigh.  Read all about it here.


New Release Tuesday (3/29/11)!!!

Must Buy DVD of The Week!

SOYLENT GREEN (BLU RAY):  Soylent Green is about more than it's much quoted climactic revelation.  It's a fantastic science-fiction dystopia as iconic and badass as anything found in The Road Warrior or Blade Runner.  Future cop Charlton Heston and his neckerchief investigates a grisly murder with the aide of Edward G Robinson's snarky professor that quickly plunges a rotting society deeper down the rabbit hole.  Classic SF folks, and I can't wait to see the color on the Blu.


SCREAM TRILOGY (BLU RAY):  I grew to hate the Scream films after their initial release (thanks to the onslaught of teenie bopper slasher crap like I Know What You Did Last Summer that they spawned), but you really gotta appreciate the QT-like reference glee Kevin Williamson's script had for the horror genre and Wes Craven threw in several great scares.  Part 2 is a better-than-expected sequel (plus you've got an early crazy performance from Timothy Olyphant!), and Part 3...well, that one is hard to defend.  Still, gotta check out these Blus before Part 4 hits the big screen.

THE SECRET OF NIMH (BLU RAY):  Here it is, my all time favorite animated film.  Yep.  Sorry Disney, I gotta go with Don Bluth every time.  Absolutely gorgeous animation with some great moments of animated terror that rival anything found on Pinocchio's Pleasure Island.  Apparently, it's nothing like the book so you get some people hating on it for snobbish reasons, but I get as emotional today watching Mrs. Frisby fight for her children as I did when I was a lad.  

TEEN WOLF (BLU RAY):  Yeah, okay, this is kinda crap...maybe.  I don't know.  I loved it the first time I saw it and I still get a kick outta Wolfed Out Michael J Fox dunkin' on the Basketball court.  80s Cheezy Goodness.

THE TERROR (BLU RAY):  Yeah, Roger Corman gets the director's credit but big chunks of this film were actually shot by Francis Ford Coppala (The Godfather!), Monte Hellman (Two Lane Blacktop!), Jack Hill (Coffy!), and Jack Nicholson (The Two Jakes!).  Sure, it's not my favorite Roger Corman classic but it's a perfect example of his style.  A great cheapie that's been available on DVD before but never as classy as this blu.  Very exciting.

CAPONE:  Another Roger Corman release.  But I've never seen it.  So, why does it go directly on the Buy! list?  Well, cuz it stars Ben Gazzara as the tough as nails gangster, Sly Stallone as his right hand man Frank Nitti, and it has bit parts from John Cassavetes and Dick Miller.  'Nuff said.


BLACK SWAN:  I definitely enjoyed this film, but not as much as others.  Natalie Portman probably delivers her strongest performance and there is some really cool direction here from Aronofsky, but I thought the more fantastical elements were completely unnecessary for the rest of the film, and if you separated those bits out from the picture than there really wasn't much there to begin with.  Sorry.

THE BLACK FOX TRILOGY:  Um, I don't know nothin' about this and I'm guessing it's not that good, but-Superman and Candyman in a Western!!!!  I am so there.

TANGLED:  Another one I missed in the theater, but I'm told by my wife that it was excellent and I was told by a coworker today that she considered it the best Disney film to come around since the 2D classics.  Okay, I guess I'll give it a go even though the original trailer kinda grated on my nerves.

TREME:  A new show from the creators of The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Street?  Uh, of course we need to at least rent it if not immediately own.

THE RESIDENT:  The second film from the new & (seriously doubt it) improved Hammer Films, The Resident is another flick about spooky happenings in an apartment complex.  So what?  Well, I am definitely becoming quite the fan of Jeffery Dean Morgan (Supernatural, Watchmen, The Losers) and I am always there for a new role from Christopher Lee.  AND I really want this new Hammer Films to work out.

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (BLU RAY), CHARLTON HESTON PRESENTS THE BIBLE, MOTHER LODE, AND ANTONY & CLEOPATRA:    Soylent Green is obviously the big Charlton Heston movie of the week, but it certainly is not the only one.  We've got four other flicks to pick over and I haven't seen a single one.  The Ten Commandments has never really interested me before, but thanks to Matt's annual HestFest, I'm addicted to Chuck and I've got to see every movie he's ever done at this point.  And now I'm excited to see his Bible documentary series.  Dorkdom is a great power.  But it's Mother Lode I'm most interested in.  Directed by Heston himself, it involves Kim Bassinger delving deep into the British Columbia Wilderness in search of her husband and discovering Heston's mad prospector.  Fingers crossed for great Heston Madness...


Mondo's The Whole Bloody Affair!

Badass Digest reveals Mondo Tees' poster for The New Beverly's screening of Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair and it is an absolute stunner; definitely my favorite Tyler Stout image to date.  No word yet on when they go on sale online, but you best follow @MondoTees closely to find out.

But what I really want to know is when the hell am I gonna be able to see The Whole Bloody Affair?


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Prodigal Son: The Art of the Rip-off (aka: Inspiration)

Part Five:

    This week, I want to talk about something that’s very important to roleplaying.  Inspiration.  Or, as might sometimes be more accurate, outright theft.  From day one, I’ve been lifting ideas from films and books and just about anything else I can get my hands on for ideas.  As a game master, I’ve taken plots from TV shows, events from history, and monsters from movies.  I once ran a Babylon 5 game where I took Event Horizon almost word for word.  My players hadn’t seen it, so they didn’t know where I was going.  It worked out very well.  I’ve used creepy images from David Lynch films to help set up mood.  Whatever I could get my greedy little hands on, I’d take and rework into something usable for a game.

    It was actually this hunger for ideas to use in games that helped me become more of a film buff.  I started to appreciate a wider variety of film, partly because I could find little useful nuggets in the most unusual of places.  And awful movies that many might simply dismiss could still produce gems.

    This sort of ‘inspiration’ isn’t anything new.  Shakespeare did it.  Akria Kurosawa did it.  And Quentin Tarantino made a career out of doing it.  The art comes not in the act of theft, but in what you make of it.  I bring this up this week, because, I’ve just struck gold.  As readers of this column will know, I’m trying to get back into roleplaying, and thanks in large part to the monstrously frustrating harlot, scheduling, I have yet to be able to even sit down and make up a character with my first player.  It’s getting a little ridiculous at this point.  However, a few days ago, while not getting together with Brad, due to something coming up, I ended up watching something that gave me a really swell idea.  And suddenly my plan to just run him through a simple, pre-published one-shot from the back of the Call of Cthulhu basic book was dropped.  No.  Now I’ve got what I think is an awesome idea, that will work very well as a one-shot, but could also expand into a mini-campaign with some extra players added if that becomes an option.  All spawned from watching one thing, and really liking a couple ideas from it.

    I’ve run with those stolen ideas, and created a story that has NOTHING to do with the original.  Or very little, anyway.  Not only adapting it to fit with the Cthulhu mythos, but changing era, adding an extra weird bit of science fiction, and connecting it directly to the character idea Brad came up with.  Frankly, I’m now much more excited about running this game.

    In film, you can see this a lot.  I mention Akria Kurosawa, because a movie frequently cited as the source of many remakes and/or rip-offs is his awesome Samurai picture, Yojimbo.  But what few realize is that Yojimbo is itself based on the excellent Dashiell Hammett novel, Red Harvest.  A lone, mysterious man wanders into a corrupt, nearly dead town, run by two warring factions.  Then he plays each side off the other, bringing the whole thing to a boiling point.  It’s a great story, and one can see how it could so easily translate into feudal Japan (Yojimbo), the American Old West (A Fistful of Dollars), a run-down future(Omega Doom), and a sex charged fantasy world (The Warrior and the Sorceress).  And eventually made it back to something more closely resembling its source (Last Man Standing).  Each of these films took a basic idea, stripped away the trappings of setting and culture, and made a new film.  Sure, some of these are absolute crap.  But the story remains sound.

    Now, because the nature of a roleplaying game means you can’t map out exactly how things will go, transferring a plot directly doesn’t quite work.  But, you can take the ‘set-up’ or even some of the same key ingredients.  So, for example, take a film you really enjoy, say The Thing.  You want to use it, but you’re going to be running an Ars Magica game.  First, consider what some of the key elements of The Thing are, and what makes it so cool.  First, there’s isolation.  The film is set at an Antarctic research station, and there’s a storm rolling in.  Doesn’t get much more removed than that.  Second, there’s the creature itself.  An alien that was frozen in the ice gets loose and infects/consumes people, making itself into near perfect copies in a bid to survive and spread.

    But how would that translate into a magic rich Europe at the end of the 12th century?  Well, isolation could be fairly easy in a land with small population and little in the way of long distance communication.  But you could take this one further, especially if you really like the snow motif.  Set the game in the Alps, or perhaps in half-pagan Scandinavia.  Perhaps at the beginning of a long winter?  And the Thing itself.  What about that?  Frankly, I think brining aliens into Ars Magica would be a mistake.  It sure wouldn’t work for me.  Not to say aliens in the Middle Ages wouldn’t work.  But it’s not something I’d want in Ars Magica.  And the creature seems too insidious to be a simple magically monstrous creature.  It doesn’t seem to be the right style for the fairies.  But, it actually works in a similar way to the Infernal.  So, perhaps this Thing, found under the ice when an ancient stone box is dug up, is a spawn of Hell, actively trying to infect mortal men with its corrupting evil, taking their faces to lure in more unsuspecting folk.  Now, you’ve got the basic story of The Thing, but set in the Mythic Europe of Ars Magica.

    Not every film, or book, will work quite so easily, and some will work better for certain games than others.  Creatures, items, or other details can sometimes be easier to translate.  Like, if you’re running a game of Star Trek, it wouldn’t take much to drop a Predator in, either directly, or modified as you see fit.  Nor would it be very difficult to translate the character of Adolf Hitler.  Change his species, who he preaches hate against, and what he wants to conquer, and you can still use his life story, with details changed, as the source of a compelling and particularly vile villain.  Or, what if you’re running a Traveller game, and you really want to drop your players on the planet from Pitch Black.  Again, it’s not hard.  And if you don’t want anyone to guess, change a few details.  Perhaps, it’s a swampy place, not a desert.  Maybe the temperature is too cold for the creatures during the night phase, and it’s only with the dawn that they begin to wake up.

    In changing little details and figuring out what effect that might have, you are often inspired with many other cool ideas that help make the story your own.  So, while I may start by saying “I’m going to use the ‘squid’ tech from Strange Days.”  I then have to ask what if I put this into an existing Cyberpunk 2020 game.  Well, the tech would certainly seem to blend in pretty handily, but if you add the ability to hack, or be hacked into the equation, as well as the virtual world and 2020’s version of the internet things could take a very different shape.  Boost that tech forward a few years, to the point where you’ve got squid-heads in every alley, overdosed on people’s memories.  Where you’ve got war correspondents sending back their impressions of battle, right up to and including their own deaths, so real you can feel the bullets hitting.  And where even someone without any jacks installed could still be doing some corporate espionage.  In fact, the squid units could totally remove the need for hardware jacks, making people with them seem old-fashioned and antique.  Maybe even second class.  You could have a whole underground of hackers still trying to keep up the old hardwired systems.

    I guess my point for this week is, never ignore what could be a potential source of good ideas, and when you’re putting together scenarios, never be afraid to steal.  Just do what successful film makers and playwrights have been doing for generations.  First steal from the best.  But don’t be afraid to steal from the worst.  Then make it your own.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rich Kelly's Wild At Heart

Since Matt seems pretty excited about David Lynch directing Duran Duran, I thought it would be nice to post this funky new Wild at Heart print from Rich Kelly & Reelizer and remind him of one of MY favorite bits of slam dancing Lynchian surrealism.  


Duran Duran and David Lynch?

You ever see something that just looked completely out of place, though clearly deliberately put there, and wonder what chain of events must have happened for you to witness it? 

Well, that's how I felt today when I started reading about David Lynch directing a Duran Duran concert video.

Look, the 80s were pretty important to me, and in a lot of ways, the music was a soundtrack of my youth, but I never much cared for Duran Duran.  Oh, sure, now I can rock out to them on a Best of the 80s compilation, but the were never really my bag.  I liked that Rio video, 'cause there was a cute girl running around.  But otherwise...Meh. 

I'm on a boat!

However, David Lynch is one of my favorite directors.  No, I'm not one of those snotty, turtleneck wearing punks who claims to 'get' Lynch.  I just enjoy his work, as I really think he wants it enjoyed.  I watch it.  I'm not gonna sit around and debate the deeper meaning of that knocked over clock in the background, because there probably isn't any.  It was there.  It looked good.  Lynch kept it.  That really seems to be how he works.  And any meaning we find in the film comes largely from what we bring to the table when we watch it. 

And, yeah, I'll watch whatever he does.  I don't always love it.  Inland Empire is an epic of surreal film making, but not something I'm gonna just pop in and enjoy for a night. 

But now, I just want to know the series of events that unfolded, putting David Lynch in the director's chair for a Duran Duran concert.  Don't know if I'll ever find out.  So, here's a sample...