Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Comic Fanboy Soapbox #1

 Newsflash: Not only do I watch too many movies, and too much TV, I also still read far too many comic books. If you are interested... here are a few ongoing titles that I'm currently loving.


Comics that are Hot Right Now according to Buddha.

- Alan Moore's Neonomicon

Holy Crap! The first comic to actually really creep me out in a long long time. Cthulu fans jump on board if you haven't already.

- Irredeemable

Has taken a very big & interesting left turn after becoming kind of predictable for a few issues. Nice.

-Incorruptible

Sister comic to Irredeemable, and a better comic actually with the best anti-hero in a long time anywhere in comics:" Max Damage and his sidekick: Jailbait!
really consistent storytelling and cheek going on here.

- Batman & Robin

Morrison has been having an awesome run with Grayson-Bats and grandson to Ras al Ghul Damian as Robin.
I just hope it keeps pace as Batman has become Tony Stark, a situation I'm leery of. Batman Inc... Jury is still out, it just started.

- Batman Beyond

Nice miniseries that should be a continuing series, does homage to that excellent cartoon. very much fun lighter Bat reading (ooh, by looking for a link at DC I found out it is going to be a new Ongoing!)

- Power Girl

is the new Supergirl (ie mostly lighthearted) It's nice to see some character development for PG beyond her great rack.

The Flash

Barry Allen is back . Classy comics make a return. Barry Allen brings some honor and forthrightness back to the grim post crisis world.

- Superman

JMS obviously recalls what makes Superman interesting: his humanity, not his Superness. I'm really interested to see what he does beyond this setup arc though. Which villains will be returned to their former place in the DC hierarchy.... Supes' villains have not aged well, other than Luthor & Brainiac imho.

Incognito - Bad Influence

Ed Brubaker's awesome Incognito returns with more noirish super stuff.  Zack Overkill is second only to Max damage as my fave protagonist in comics these days.

"The Millar-verse" (yeah I know everyone hates Millar.)

Nemesis, Kick Ass 2, and especially the new Superior have all had great starts. Will he sustain them? I think so if he does like with Kick Ass, and limit the series to single arcs, then move on. Superior especially is making me smile every page.

-Captain America - Patriot

really great I think alt.universe non continuity Cap miniseries that does hella justice to an Iconic character, while adding some interesting modern twists to the mythos

- The Amazing Spider-Man

When they aren't fucking with the continuity (One More Day et al) this series has recently enjoyed some great Spider-friendly art, from newer artists, and has brought some nice new villains into what is already the best Villain stable at Marvel.

- Invincible Iron Man


Quietly the best Stark-ola in ages... nice new direction for the not so lovable alky superhero.


I do read many others every month, but am on the fence about most of them. There's a bit of a glut of similar comics these days. The Avengers are spread far to thin, as are the X-men, though I am enjoying bits of the whole vampires vs. X-men. JLA has been really average with the new creators. Hasn't gelled for me.

end report/

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Glib Reviews of Random Movies #4

here are a few more. I wrote them just after seeing each movie. My opinions may have evolved slightly since then, after reflection, discussion... but I won't do new reviews until (or If) I watch the movies again.

Inglorious Basterds  By “Q”

Small quibble:  I would have liked a bit more Dirty Dozen-ness with all the actual Basterds. Only the nazis got any character development really.. It was quite enjoyable other than that. The dialogue was great and It's worth paying theatre prices to see it on the big screen. The opening act was surprising and awesomely done.

Roman Polanski: Wanted/Desired.

A Polish lawyer finds out he's actually an assassin who can read fortunes in looms... later, he dresses like a girl and throws himself out a window. Ok not really. Actually a very well done doc on Polanski, mostly about the rape case, but also there's a lot of good stuff about his early days in Hollywood/London. The people who are the most interesting and believable in the movie are The Prosecutor, defense attorney and the rape victim herself. She's well spoken about her own feelings in regards to the whole thing. You can see why this doc helped to re-spur interest in the case.

The Brothers Bloom

which I greatly enjoyed. A very light fun take on the Con artist movie. It's like a cross between a Wes Anderson & Woody Allen (Crimes & Misdemeanours era Woody) Movie if that is possible. Intelligent but not hard to follow, they still trick you a few times plot wise. Rachel Wiesz has never been better. Adrien Brody & Mark Ruffalo are convincing as brothers who look absolutely nothing alike.

Outrage 

doc about "Out-ing" closet case politicians (mostly Repubicans, as their closet has a smaller door and is much harder to get out of) The thing that this doc actually points out is just how much compromise and politicking really goes on in Washington DC… which is according to the doc, the gayest city America. It's also the most closeted though. McGreevey is well spoken, when they get to him, as is his wife. They portray obvious closeter Grist (FLA Jeb replacement) as the next great closet case of politics.... but he seems made of teflon and may even end up President ?  It was actually more thoughtful and even handed than I thought it would be. It's crazy all the masks you need to wear just so a few aristocratic families can keep control of one nation where everyone has the illusion of freedom to be whatever or whoever you want.

Agnes Varda's "The Gleaners and I"

Great verite doc about a long tradition in France of post harvest recycling, which is often if not tolerated, encouraged. free labour to clean the fields of what to the farmers is waste (except of course in Burgundy where, and reasonably so, the pickers or gleaners have to wait for the table wine 2nd harvest grapes) Varda transposes her own fears of aging and being tossed in the trash with the lives of these Gleaners, some of whom have jobs, homes and families, but need this extra bit of food to make it. Also the people who make art from trash, or recycle the mountains of appliances that Parisians kick to the curb every month. Very well done doc. Contains a lot of wisdom, and joie de vivre. At the end Agnes gets a clock with no hands from the trash and makes an ornament of it. She is comforted by it's lack of time passing.

Drag Me To Hell.

Very smart well done comic horror from the master (Sam Raimi). A good warning to watch out for toothless gypsies who keep shoving their arms down your throat.

Visioneers

Weird weird, but kind of hypnotic.  Zack (unpronounceable Greek name) is astonishing as a corporate drone (vaguely related to George Washington and living in his house? ) in this very over the top (in it's Orwellianness) and obvious fable on the modern condition. It's either a horrible movie or an awesome movie. I'm leaning towards awesome. Basic setup is that everyone (or mostly everyone) seems to work for a monolithic multinational, and greet each other with middle finger salutes. Dreaming and emotion are discouraged, and people are exploding from the overwhelming repression... from there it gets strange.

Blood The Last Vampire.

Stays pretty true to the anime (of which I've seen one episode) Okay vampire slashy film I guess… moves along at a decent clip. The main villainess gives one of the most wooden performances this side of Ed Wood. Everyone else seemed to be having fun hamming it up though. A couple of the fight scenes are well choreographed if a bit too crouching tiger-ish.

Anvil: The Story Of Anvil!

Hilarious apparently "serious" doc about Metallica etc progenitors Anvil, a Canadian band who got nowhere, compared to many of their contemporaries, who were doing their thing. Why? Stupidity mostly. Never bothering to get a manager? many many entertaining reasons for their failure to be more than the Hosers that they are. In Canadian Metal you don't get a Lars, a Rob Halford, or a Lemmy: you get Bob and Doug clones with Metal hair. Tongues are sometimes in film makers' cheeks but in a fairly respectful way. Great little doc that should give you a good indication as to what it's like for 99.9% of Canadian musicians "living The dream". Makes Fubar seem like neo-realism.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Glib Reviews of Random Movies #3

Not so Random edition.

Two quick reviews of two films I've watched this weekend. (vaguely related, both new to DVD this Tuesday)



I’m Still Here. Dir By Casey Affleck.

Joaquin Phoenix forgets to wash or comb his hair for a year or two, also he pretends he’d rather be a drug addled hipster in denial about the numerous Bromances in his life, all the while pretending to be some sort of Vanilla Ice wannabe. Weirdly this works really well as a film somehow. Either it’s almost real or Phoenix, Affleck and their entourage are better actors than I had imagined.  Clever, but in the end it’s still a mockumentary, a form I’m so tired of.


Exit Through The Gift Shop,  by Banksy
 Is really a documentary, and a well thought out doc at that. It follows an OCD (Oh Cei Dei?) Frenchman as he films the entire street art movement, improbably himself ending up one of the most financially successful street artists in the world (AKA Mr. Brainwash) Banksy & and Shepherd Fairey are unironically aghast at MBW’s odd success by the end, but they still like the guy. Highly entertaining and recommended for all.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Glib Reviews of Random Movies #2

Today's edition. I have a lot so I'll do em in bunches til I get current with my watching.


The Girl Who Played With Fire.

Like Die Hard except slow, plodding, with a Swedish Goth Lesbian Hacker instead of Bruce Willis. :p Ok not really, but I did find it a bit slow going compared to the first movie. Well done, but not spectacular in anyway. I feel like when the third one comes out on DVD I'll watch them all in a marathon and enjoy them more than I do singly. It seems like a series.



Perrier's Bounty.

Poorly named movie that's actually worth a boo. Fairly funny angry young Irishman (dreamy Cillian Murphy) owes 1000 Euros to a loan shark (Brendan Gleeson) who send his gayest thugs after him for some bone breaking interest. Jim Broadbent pops up as Cillian's Da, who thinks he's dying (oh those weepy Irish :leprechaun: ) and proceeds to help out his son in his own strange ways. All of this is casually narrated (in what seems more like a commentary track than a narration) by Gabe Byrne.



Jonah Hex.
Slightly better than say Elektra, (maybe) as far as comic book movies go. And that's really only due to having a half decent budget, and a a few actual actors.



Predators.
Predictable fun & completely ludicrous. I predicted the exact order that everyone would die as soon as I saw each of the characters. No surprises, yet an enjoyable popcorn flick. Funniest moment was La Fishburne doing the "Ride of The Valkyrie Helicopters" reference from Apocalypse Now, which he was in.




Agora 
Nerds!
4th century nerds, and Christians who were the Jocks of the era, with all their nerd hating. Turns out that being a well educated and out spoken woman in those times was a rarity. Who knew? the film has it's moments but kept losing me every time they decided to do a space walk mid scene. As the Senate talks, Hypatia astral travels into the heavens? I dunno. A bit of a slog... a pretty slog mind you. The film looked good, felt authentic to the period (afaik with my limited knowledge of said period) but well so what? Fundamentalist types (of any religion)  are assholes? Yeah I knew that already.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Glib Reviews of random Movies #1

here are some random and very glib, in general, reviews of recent movies That I've seen. I write these on a forum I chat on, and have always meant to copy them over. As I get better at doing the blogging, I'll have more media than just the reviews and imdb links.

I'm starting slowly with the "content".

Casino Royale 1968 Dir by John Huston, and some studio hacks.

Not nearly as horrible a movie (not great mind you by any stretch) as I had been led to believe. David Niven and Peter Sellers are quite spot on. It lags and sags as if there were too many cooks in the kitchen, and that's exactly it's problem. The story could easily have been truncated and perhaps even a bit more slapstick and it would be an "In Like Flynn/Austin Powers" level of Bond spoof. But alas, it is not. Lots on hot girls in bikinis and minis though, including the oh so young "Jacky" Bisset.



Antichrist - By Lars Von Trier -

synopsis: Lars Von Trier throws a baby out a window.
it's about grief. It's dedicated to Tarkovsky and has many Tarkovskian touches/cliches,  worth seeing I guess,  if you like artsy depression



Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World.

Michael Cera was born specifically to be George Michael and Scott Pilgrim. everything else he's done is just the filling between those roles. Now he needs to go away, develop some scars, come back in his 40s as a character actor.  the movie itself was cool in a hipsterish kind of way, so uncool, actually. I liked everything that went on. it was fun, but I don't think it has legs for more viewings. I enjoyed it, but there was some soul missing (that is also missing in the comic) or whatever, and stuff.



La Cienaga (the Swamp) dir by Lucretia Martel.

Martel's first film, (She directed one of my recent faves "The Headless Woman) ... I hadn't realized that she also directed this and "The Holy Girl"; both of which have been recommended to me over the years. I'm glad to be getting to them now though. Genius film making imho. She's (Martel) like Bunuel without the surrealism. Her films really lovingly flambe the structures of class and family in delightful ways. In La Cienaga we are introduced to a sprawling family of drunkards and their children who mostly spend their time cleaning up the horrors their parents inflict on everyone. The opening few minutes of La Cienaga are a beautiful tableaux of ruin.



Machine Gun McCain
... silly movie with John Casavettes as the title character. Lots of great atmosphere in the on location 2nd unit stuff in SF & Vegas. Old Vegas rocks! Also has Peter Falk as a Mafia Don who's getting too big for his britches, Britt Eklund and a nice cameo from Gena Rowlands. It's too bad all the sound was dubbed later, as it lacks the urgency it should have with the dubbed dialogue, and fake room tone. Good movie to have on while reading comic books.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

what's on my mind other than nerdy cliches?

It was a dark and stormy morning, actually it is a dark and stormy morning. Which means it’s either November, December or January in Vancouver. At least it isn’t a snowstorm you say? I’d rather that than the current pissing down of rain pounding on my windows like hungry zombies smelling my caffeine filled brain.

It’s very difficult to keep up with this blog for some reason. Well the reason is my laziness, and or insecurity in my own opinions. My plan was/is to write perhaps cogently about all the media I consume. My diet in this regard is even worse than my eating/health habits. I watch an inordinate amount of TV and movies. I read a mess of comic books, novels, and even the odd smattering of someone else’s poetry. My feeling lately is that much of this consumption goes by without any real introspection, or critical thinking on my part.

Can I rectify this? Maybe, but maybe not as easily as I’d initially imagined. It’s hard to know where to start. There is definitely a drive I have towards certain types of media. I often read highbrow literature, and cheesy old comic books at the same time, or cheesy page turner novels and the odd highbrow comic book (or graphic novel if you are a pretentious nerd) as far as TV and the cinema go, my tastes are also all over the map. I enjoy Gray’s Anatomy for example almost as much as I do Mad Men.

But for very different reasons: Gray’s is a cheesy soap opera with pretty & likeable people having lives I can only dream (and would never want, actually) of. Mad Men is rather like watching a really well written short film every week (most weeks, they have “off” episodes too), it makes me think. Gray’s Anatomy, when it’s doing it’s job makes me cry every week. So one is feeding an intellectual need, the other an emotional one? Possibly. That or I’m a sucker for seeing pretty women cry.

Do I “need” to watch either of these shows? Nope. I get all the free movies (or TV) I want at work. i could be watching nothing but great world cinema, every single day if I wanted to. Sometimes I do, often I don’t. There is just as much satisfaction for me in something light and frivolous as there is in the greatest works of art, as long as both are entertaining or intriguing to me in some way. What it really comes down to is likeabilty and  being able to relate to the characters in some way.

This is why I can’t jump on the reality TV bandwagon very far. It seems to me that everyone on these shows is an unlikeable asshole. I need to be able to relate to people not just through mockery, ie; I can’t sit through Jersey Shore and simply feel superior to those idiots. I kind of blame the internet for the rise of the stupid asshole as a “type” of character that is somehow beloved. Shows like Jersey Shore, Big Brother, Survivor seem to me to be like adult versions of Junior High School. I for one was really glad to be done with that nonsense at 14.

Yet I still devour comic books like a fiend. So I guess I’m not all that mature. And yes I know that not all comics are immature. Some are very grown up and more literate than most writing you see in any media. See the “Walking Dead” comic book for example. The very same writer (Robert Kirkman) has also written lots of great superhero comics as well. Just as entertaining. But is he going to be as famous in non comics circles for his versions of Captain America or even “Invincible”, the comic of his that is subtitled the “greatest superhero comic”? Doubtful, unless those are also turned into (at least so far) great TV (The Walking Dead TV show is already after only a couple of episodes, the best comics to TV adaptation, ever, arguably. ) At any rate, I like to be entertained. So I read, I watch, and sometimes I write.

Sometimes I also “game”. I do play some Video games. I used to in my PC days play even more computer games than I do now. Civ, Max Payne, Alpha Centauri, etc… but now on the old computer I only play the latest (that is out for Mac) Civ… Civ IV. Total waste of time, but often an enjoyable one. I occasionally do a Saturday or Sunday of PS 2 gaming as well, playing some GTA or some other of those sorts of games. My desire for that kind of thing is only in bursts. I’ve not been able to get good enough at console games to feel like spending more than a monthly or so turn at it. 

The other “gaming” I do is of the table top RPG type. I have somehow become a part of 4 separate gaming groups. I have a D&D 3.5 game that meets very irregularly but often enough, a more regular Mutants and Masterminds (more superheroes) game and recently a second Mutants and Masterminds game that is starting next month, and an old school AD&D (second edition) game. All this gaming is probably the most social I am outside of work. It’s a pretty nerdy sociableness, mind you but nonetheless, at least I’m getting out of the house and spending time with other people. I also am planning to DM a 3.5 (the game I have the most material for) D&D game sometime in the near future, planning the campaign ideas now. I want to be able to do a bit of the storytelling that you can do when running a game. I have this weird idea that I can learn something that will help with the rest of my writing endeavours, half assed as they may or may not be.

Where am I going with all this? I’m not sure, it’s a info burst of what I do with my life. I consume and I consume in a very addictive manner. Media being one of my biggest crutches. I often feel I’m not critical enough in my opinions. That perhaps all this consumption of story is a way of avoiding the telling of the stories that I have to tell. maybe I can change that by writing some self criticism, and some actual crit of all this media, here on my blog for those one or two people who occasionally read it. 

I should probably revise this post and make it cogent or something, but I haven’t posted anything in awhile and just want to get things moving.  So it stays a rambly mess of my thoughts and confessions.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

lists and so on

Okay so I’ve already slacked off a bit on my updating this blog. Sigh… but I have been busy with various distractions: playing 2 different versions of D&D, a 3.5 game and a 2.0 game. Both were fun and well distracting from my getting stuff done. I did over the week however sell all 10 of the copies of my book that I ordered from blurb.com. I have 15 more on the way (at a nice discount from a coupon) and I’m actually ahead a few dollars at this point in the exercise. How many poets can say that?

Anyways I haven’t really spent the week doing much in the way of critical thinking, other than self flagellation over my crappy diet lately. I’ve been far too soft on the snack front, over the halloween period. Though my pumpkin pie consumption this season is way way down from last year. That’s something.  I did come up with this glib ranking of Terry Gilliam Movies:

the Gilliam Scale I use is generally as such, with whimsical variation occasionally depending on my mood.

1. Brazil! (a No Brainer if you know me I think.)
2.(Tie) Baron Munchhausen/Time Bandits ( I double bill this occasionally)
3. Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas (which I hated the first time, but now I don't even know why)
4. The Fisher King (grows on me with each viewing )
5. TideLand (a film everyone loathes except me. It's my "Amelie".)
6. Twelve Monkeys (I haven't watched this in a long time because I fear it hasn't aged well. I must brave it soon though I think)
7. Brothers Grimm ( I haven't seen it. It seems unfathomable to me, but I just haven't felt like watching it. More fear!)
8. The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassuss (Is such a disappointing mess that in comes in behind the one I haven't seen :( )

Seeing as it is a bit of a gloss over over Gilliam’s oeuvre (minus the obvious Python stuff which has it’s own scale of awesomeness.) I won’t go into more detail. I like the list format.

Continuing with another list, here are my upcoming creative irons that are simmering in the low fires of my brain as I type this:

    1.    Arthurian Cycle of Poems/Photographs/Art.
    2.    A new edition of my 1st poetry collection: “Like Bukowski In Drag” (also with photos and some new pieces to make it a similarly length to “A Cure For Mirrors”. Like Bukowski…” is my “Leaves Of Grass”?
    3.    A Coffee Table book of some of my better photos from Japan (with some short creative non-fiction based on my experiences in Japan)
    4.    The finishing up and either sending off to “real” publishers or self publishing of at least one of my half finished novels.
    5.    The continual making of video poem versions of various of my own poems, and the occasional famous poem tribute videos

That’s plenty of fish to fry. I’d like to have most if not all of these projects accomplished by January 2012.