Thursday, December 22, 2011


While Batman fights the Avengers for most anticipated film of 2012, I'm counting the days 'til PROMETHEUS.

#1 on this kid's personal "film wishlist" was Ridley's return to Sci-Fi. I don't think any single Director has had more intelligent influence in the genre.
Only Stanley Kubrick's 2001 could challenge the claim, but that's for someone else to try.

Regardless, he's back, and man am I happy about it.

A MIND-BLOWING Trailer, and a clearly ultra-invigorated Scott has got ALIEN fans drooling for next summer. It looks mysterious and frightening, highlighted by brilliant sound design, and one talented cast.
I'll be talking about this one a lot.

Wanna get PSYCHED-UP?
Watch this one first...
...then this one..

I truly believe Ridley Scott is one of the few actual geniuses working in film today, and lucky for us - he's as excited as a boy with toys, on this particular playground.
So stoked.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

American Horror Story

Okay, it's not perfect..
..but man, I'm enjoying AHS.

Liked the premise right off, but it took a few episodes for this "haunted-house" show to truly find it's legs  ..but it found 'em. Some good acting and a couple surprises here and there are making this a pretty reliable watch.

Wouldn't have guessed that so much sex would work but it does ...and pretty well actually.
Most recent episode with Violet's realization = Fantastic.

I'll be back here real soon..
I'm back.. and wow, is everyone dead on AHS? What a crazy show! ...groovy, bring on the wacky..

Wow, I can't believe I didn't see where this was all going for the season..
Very cool.

And Jessica Lange - Fantastic.
Gotta say - I'm genuinely intrigued by where this next season's going to go..

Alright - just watched it again, and I loved that last episode but yeah, where the fuck are they going with it?
Season Two:
"Happy Holiday-Loving Ghost Family Fight Anti-Christ!!"

Must confess to being somewhat apprehensive, but I'll be watching - that's for sure.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Of Unknown Origin

I like horror movies.
I like simple straightforward narratives a lot.
..and I like Peter Weller.

Of Unknown Origin is a little old thriller from 1983. I'd seen that claw-raked-photo-painting-cover for years and just last night succumbed to my fascination.
Glad I did - it's wayyy different than I'd expected ...that being a AIP type of film ...bit loosey goosey and very dated. What I got was a small tight little story with a wicked performance at it's heart.

I love this era of horror ...when Dead Zone was shot in Canada ...when Changeling was shot in Canada..

Not Sold?
Well, the movie also boasts the debut of Shannon Tweed, and if you watch it for her nude scene you're done in five minutes ...easy peasy..
Then there's Louis Del Grande leading the Canadian charge comprised of Jennifer Dale, Maury Chaykin, and Kenneth Welsh ...go Canucks!

Peter Weller toasting to Canadians..

I'd always thought it was a supernatural story ...nope, far from it.. simple it's charming as hell.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Larry Hama ...and my 80's.

Up ...wayyyy up, in the pop stratosphere of my goofy existence...
Wayyy back, in the early 1980's, and even up above George Lucas and Steven Spielberg is Larry Hama.

Is that Chris Farley as BAZOOKA???

"Who's he?" you ask..

Larry Hama wrote Marvel Comic's G.I.Joe from it's little old #1 issue right thru to the end, and a fair number of my childhood experiences in the process.
I picked up #2 at the United Cigar Store in the Spryfield Mall- gooood issue, well-drawn and wellll-written. Hooked. Instantly.
Then there's the Sierra Gordo stuff ...God, I love those issues..
& SILENT INTERLUDE ...'nuff said.
..but I digress..

Turns out LH was responsible for the "file cards" too, and this was a unique situation for us kids at the time: A monthly comic book to guide our hands - the best 33/4 figures ever built, and a smart, cool writer at the helm who, more than anything, knew how to have fun with the whole thing. Not only was he a clever storyteller, he was teaching us too - I learned a lot, reading a comic book about military behavior, vehicles, and teamwork. I apply a fair bit of it to life now.
I don't have memories that are better than those days ...just equal at best. Seriously, we were just plain happy all over North America were building bases, roads, stockades...
We were fighting Cobra ...all of us together ...innocent days(okay, some brushfires...)
that ended in our Moms calling us to dinner as dusk claimed our summers.
Beautiful memories they are.

G.I.Joe made us wanna be outside, play with others(well), and read ...not too bad for a "funny-book" eh?
We wrote our own side-stories ...made up histories ...all out of LH's world he was creating for us.

I remember calling my mother at work and asking if she'd pick up the new issue on the way home..
Mom'd had a bad day but agreed to pick it up for me/us(my bro too) anyway.
When it finally landed in my eager little mitts a few hours later I grinned and hugged her ...gave her a big "thanks". It was the issue from the month previous and I had it already, but it felt like a smile Larry Hama and I got to give to a pretty cool lady who always put her kids first. Always.
It felt like Larry Hama put us kids first too.

Now, one of the things we hoped(if we did think of such things) was that our heroes were actually cool. This didn't seem like a huge request - after all, we look up to people - they have to be cool, right?
I had occasion to interact just briefly with Mr. Hama recently, and not only did he take time for it, but ...well, he's exactly as cool as I'd hoped - he's a nice guy.
Moments like that can make your day  ..or link it to the 500 other sepia-toned days of an amazing youth...

Thanks to Mr. Larry Hama ...for the NOW and the THEN..
Thanks for "making" a lot of my days, man.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Apes Will Rise!!!

Loved it.
This summer, movies rock!!

That's actually something cool about franchises -it took 43 years to get another GREAT Planet of the Apes movie, but we got one.
Worth the wait.
What an incredibly entertaining film, and a great addition to the canon. Sooo impressed... I was laughing out loud at the ingenuity of this team - lot of smart decisions in there.

The Uncanny Valley: It'll be WETA who crosses it before Cameron - that's fer sure.
Feels weird and amazing that I liked a purely CG character a helluva lot more than Green Lantern this year, but it wasn't the effects at the core...
WRITING!!!!'s still kind of important, dummies...
..and this Apes movie is well fucking written.

That I loved the character of Caesar still has me reeling - I hope I can write a fictional character so well someday. Hats off to Andy Serkis for topping Gollum - there's a lot to the physical presence of these sci-fi creations, and he's in control, boy the hell does an ape have better body language than most of the "superheroes" in their own films?
He looks dramatic, and pensive ...real.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

Holy fuck, I loved this movie...
...and despite it's title, it doesn't feel like an ad for another one. I like that.

Loved Little Steve Rogers...

Captain America is a very long standing Marvel comic book character, and though he's been on the screen before, it was never done like this.
This is the story of a 90 lb weakling who wants to make a difference - a man who was born a hero.
The first third... "Steve becomes a soldier" is perfect.
This is the key to good entertainment, kids - make me care before you bring out the special effects...
And they are special - really nice looking film.

Chris Evans' "young Steve Rogers" is a great performance. I suspect he had to limit his movement for the digital effects - he seemed controlled but so earnest, I didn't appreciate how rich these characters could be in full flesh and blood. I would have watched a whole movie about that little weakling - why? ..because he's a fuckin' great character.

In fact, the GRENADE is one of the best "character" moments I've ever seen in any movie. LOVE IT.

Joe Johnston is really good at that nice soft vision of the past - his WW2 is like Band of Brothers for kids. But the most noticeable element of this whole project is how much love went into it, for lack of a better word. These guys love this character as much as I do - as much as millions of kids for years and years have - it really shows.
Tommy Lee Jones is great - most I've enjoyed him in a long time. He seemed like he was having fun.
Hayley Atwell is lovely and reminds me of another Hayley I know...
Couple o' tear-jerkin' scenes, boy.
His line after the big event, so to speak - I don't care if you like superheroes or not - it's just great writing, and kudos to the writers they're borrowing from. Years of Cap stories inform this screenplay, with a lot of the Ultimates mixed in ...impressive synthesis storytelling.

Bucky's a surprise. I love the character but it's tough to pull off a kid beside a Super-Soldier. Fantastic interpretation of the "sidekick" role - more like two soldiers at war - just excellent. There's a brilliant montage towards the end - where everyone shines, and the inspiration of this hero is obvious.
Dum-Dum Duggan is great, and I suspect Neal McDonough is in there as the original Cap consideration.

Dominic Cooper's Howard Stark was another pleasant surprise, and what an impressive world the Marvel filmmakers have brought together. The idea of Tony's Dad way back might've sounded hokey but it's so charming. They're creating Marvel history up on the big screen. Out of a wonderfully comic-heavy childhood, this is stuff I'm really happy to see - invested storytelling.
Kinda sad to me that of the four "superhero flics" this summer, three were Marvel, and the other one - well, I wanted to like Green Lantern. He's a great character.

Then there's The RED SKULL.
He's Cap's Joker, and such a fun cat - I mean, Nazis are the perfect villain bar none, but a skull-headed one - c'mon? He's awesome - just look at any Cap comics - the Red Skull is always up to something fucked-up.
Hugo Weaving plays him as a genius weirdo - and on that note,  the Werner Herzog accent is a blast - subtle and hilarious.
 ...and though I'm not so much a fan of the rubber face, it was handled really well - that slipping eye...
But his design - Brilliant - absolutely nailed it.
Took about 30 years to see Cap and his nemesis duke it out properly on the big screen for this kid.
Worth the wait this was..

...and dead?
Ahhhh, ha ha ha ha haaaa....
The Red Skull never dies - he's the toughest bad guy in either of the big stables...

Captain America: The First Avenger is tight entertaining movie. The overall design is charming but totally epic - comic-booky, but cutting edge storytelling.
It has twice the heart of most of these "superhero" flics, amidst a perfectly paced World War II actioner - I'll watch it plenty, I suspect.
I went to see it again this afternoon.

It's too bad the GLUT of superhero flics seems to have killed this one.
It's really really good.

Well, turns out CAP made a fair bit - good, I'd love to see a part 2..

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Carl Kolchak ...Johnny Depp?

Well, that might just work.
Kolchak is up there with Swamp Thing for this cat/dork...

I fucking love Carl Kolchak ..just do.
I could question why, but I already know. It's Darren McGavin - he's got the tone of the character built in to his own - he's stubborn, smart, and undoubtedly aggravating. I bet he could drive people nuts - a well trained actor, who knew what he wanted to do, but often foiled by dummies...
...and a Kolchak show could have been sooo good.
Don't get me wrong - I love the TV show, but not because it's brilliant - it boasts a few really cool episodes, but it's difficulties on the studio side led to too many compromises, and just one short season.
No, it was the original film - a TV movie called The Night Stalker(1972) that hooked both the studio(which got huge ratings and they ordered another one immediately) and myself. Now, granted I saw it in rerun, but it was such a weird experience that I told friends about it for years.
It was another late friday with Dad, and I joined the movie a few minutes in. It looked cool - that old seventies mystery look, and the lead was ...odd, I guess is the best way to put it - I remember it struck me how bumbly he was - but I was engaged by him his investigation - who was this "Kolchak", and what kind of killer was he chasing?
I was pretty freaked-out when it turned out to be a vampire - in modern day!! What was going on? What a cool story...
This was my one time experience with Kolchak but thanks to The X-Files(creators love of it) I'd find it all eventually.

What an intro.
Check out the music/tone change...

The 1st movie is great - 2nd is almost as good, and the series, though formulaic, has a few really good episodes - a couple are screenplay material fer sure...
It all looks great, and he's just so much fun.

Sooo, could someone be the new Kolchak? Guess that depends...
I didn't think anyone could be the "New Captain Kirk" but it worked(ST'09).
Really well, in fact - been a long time since I was stoked for the next Star Trek flic, but JJ Abrams - he just "gets" it...
Smart guy, and young Chris Pine ...again - he "got" it. Don't play William Shatner - play a young Captain Kirk.
...such a frickin' good movie.

Women love Johnny Depp - good-looking, funny, charming - superstar actor/zillionaire...
But everyone knows it's the quirky that makes him JD...
...and it's quirky that made Carl Kolchak.
CK is a smart character but goofy for sure and Darren McGavin wasn't afraid to be goofy - the idea is to do it well - really really well, and who does anyone think of first for well-executed weirdos?
The one thing I'd bet on is that JD loves the character if he does it, and that's what these "re-imaginings" need most - genuine love for the original material.

The film is only in the development part so who knows what'll happen but if Jack Sparrow does play Carl Kolchak - cool - bring it on.
Only One Question Remains:
Who will play Tony Vincenzo?


Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Night Gallery

I'd heard about it for years..
Rod Serling's The Night Gallery...

Picked up Season 2 the other day and dove right in. Wow, what a cool show...

It opens with the ever charming and somewhat creepy, Mr. Serling inviting us into the Night Gallery - a museum of pictures that tell 1000 stories. Love it.

I Love UNIVERSAL, and professionally - if I ever do make real films in the real world, I've got to work for Universal.
I suppose I'll always be obsessed with this period - My first ten years on earth are the seventies, and peripherally I was soaking up a fair bit. I only had one Kolchak night but it stayed with me 'til I found it all again recently.

Carl Kolchak is up there with Swamp Thing for this kid, but that's for another post, and God love Universal for all of the horror under their umbrella...

But back to the NG..
It's the format that gets me - it's loose feels organic - that freedom that only occurred in the late '60's/early '70's - The freedom of a visionary, and of experimentation...
This is what the 1970's is for me.

Then there's the quality of it - great actors on good sets - not the same cheapy feel of so many anthology shows...

It's the work of an Auteur ...and that, again is what the 70's is all about.

Going to watch plenty then return...
...and chat details. Go watch The Night Gallery - Trust me.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The T E R M I N A T O R

It's Father's Day today, and more than any other film, this is the one that makes me think of my Dad.

Why, Arthur(as if anyone cares)?

Because I watched it with him first. Simple.
Had never seen it before and do believe Dad suggested it when it debuted on TV late one friday night. We'd often end up quietly "watching"* a movie together in those days ...pre-girlfriends and booze, but post-toys(mostly).

*Watching - I don't think my Father knew how The Terminator, First Blood, or Jaws actually end..
I was his second favorite movie-watching-companion - the first being a good nap.

The Film:
Terminator is up on Artie's ol' shortlist of SUPER*WATCHED*FILMS.
And having mulled on why I like this specific movie so much, I've come to an interesting point with it.

I think it's an expanded CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER...
James Cameron's interpretation of Harlan Ellison's work, or rather the heart of it.
"You're crazy" I can hear my half dozen followers saying...

Hear me out: Are they both not stories of people from different time periods falling in love, not being able to be together, and doing the "right" thing in a somewhat sad nihilistic ending?
No coincidence that Ellison is mentioned in the Terminator credits - But it's not so much the mechanized antagonists Cameron borrowed, as the tone ...I truly believe the place both stories came from is one in the same.
Ellison claims his story "Soldier" was the inspiration, but that concept seems more to have informed T2. Some claim "Demon with a Glass Hand" but I suspect it's City on the Edge of Forever that was actually Cameron's biggest influence, along with a perhaps subconscious desire to tell an Ellison-esque tale. Who could blame him? Ellison is apparently an asshole, but a brilliant one, with an extraordinary grasp of truly human storytelling. Undeniable.

"That's a good question, Mr.Spock - how much Ellison is in The Terminator?"
They say a film is only as good as it's villain - well, this one is named for the bad guy, and quite the bad guy he is. Schwarzenegger's weird intensity and extremely limited dialogue make every second of screentime count - he's fantastic, and it'll always be my favorite Arnie role. He has a physical impatience built into the efficiency of the character that seems to disappear in the sequels. It's his coolest performance - he "feels" unstoppable ..inhuman ...frightening, and that cyborg chase scene - I was mad at my father for falling asleep before that sequence - I was 14 ..maybe 15, and it scared me shitless.

And then there's that "classic" phrase... you know the one.
Who hasn't said those three words? Only Mr. Burns' "Exxxxcellent" might be better known in pop-language, but who can really say?

...and what a way to get that audience association - This robot is has been built by someone specifically to kill you, and you are noone special..
..Or are you? Maybe your the future president, or maybe his mother - endless possibilities, and very clever storytelling, especially in the paradoxical "Father" equation of the film. Is fatherhood and it's importance not a central theme here? Is Skynet not the child of a "father-based society" having outgrown it's own father? ...not unlike Roy Batty in Blade Runner.

Opening this apocalyptic tale far in the future, then telling it one single night in our time - ONE NIGHT - that's the whole film.. Brilliant.

The Terminator is one of the purest narratives I've ever seen. From first frame to last, it never stops moving - I love that.
Shot in 1984, I'm still hard pressed to find films now that move the camera nearly as much. I don't think Spielberg used a dolly once in Indy 4. Facts being facts, James Cameron was a genius at this point, and only Aliens could challenge Terminator for the best thing he's ever done ...and being a sequel I guess it really can't. Ha haa..

For what it is, it's perfect.
Rare thing...

...I'll be back.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

the summer of SUPER 8...

I thought I was going to see a Steven Spielberg film by J.J. Abrams.

It is a movie for us(my generation) ..and about us.
Set in the summer of 1979, Super 8 offers a sci-fi mystery, with a heartfelt human story, as it follows a group of teenagers who set out to make a super 8 horror film in their Ohio steel-mill town.

More than a sense of wonderment in the viewer is the sense of it in the film - letting us watch us is essentially what I got out of Super 8. It just took a bit to figure it out..
It really is "wonderment" up on that screen, and the true love for Steven Spielberg's early work - that "feeling" that was pervasive through his films and so many he produced. Fact is, there's far more respect for SS's early career than in than in his own recent Indy 4. It's a love affair with small people sharing big adventures whilst surrounded by dubious adults.
Watching these kids, it's hard not to feel young again.

It's not perfect. I think I was hoping for a more intriguing story, and at moments it feels like E.T. mashed in with The Thing ...but boy, if your going to slam a couple films together to make a 70's/80's homage ...why not go with the best eh?

Super 8 is a very personal film for something so pedigreed, if you will.
Sooo I'm going to go AGAIN today ...and let it sink in a little more.

I think I kinda liked it actually...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

X-MEN - First Class

"First Class" is right...
This is a great film, and a perfect start to the whole X-men experience, if you're not already a fan.

After being floored by Kick-Ass, I was soo glad to hear Mathew Vaughn was on the next X-opus ...very well directed. I love it when you can feel the reverence a director has for the material - why do a film if you don't?

...and it features the BEST CAMEO EVER!!! I won't ruin it, but trust me ...this one moment is a fanboy dream, and a great laugh. Brilliant scene.

*January Jones is almost hot enough to excuse her lack of talent, but not quite..

Loved Xavier, Magneto, and Shaw equally but the friendship between Charles and Erik is the lynchpin and perfectly done. The ending is sad, hopeful then awesome. Some beautiful design too - just a blast to look at. I'm a sucker for that period's Kennedy's the 60's...

X-Men: First Class works as a fun period piece, a really good comic book movie, and a dramatic story ...I really do hope this becomes the next X-trilogy.
Upon my 2nd viewing, I liked Michael Fassbinder even more..
MAGNETO is brilliant.

Very Cool flic.
..and I'm First in line for whatever Mathew Vaughn does.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Franchise: FAIL !!!

Alright, I finally watched Beneath the Planet of the Apes last night...
..and for the moment I have a new "least favorite sequel of all time".

WOW, I hated this movie sooo much...
It has prompted a little dash o' writing on franchise failures:

1) Beneath the Planet of the Apes - Absolute 100% shit. Atrocious. It is literally the antithesis of the first film. Hopeless - mean - confusing. Sparking only 100 ridiculous questions: Why the rubber masks ...where did they get them? etc etc.....and is this the single most nihilistic sci-fi ending of all time? It makes an Alien ending look like The Princess Bride...
It's true - the whole film is BENEATH The Planet of the Apes.

2) T4 or Terminator Salvation - Holeee smokes, I hated this one more than any other sequel ever, and I'm sure it'll reclaim top spot after my super-contempt for Beneath cools down.
Why was MEGATRON in this film? Why would SKYNET have 6 foot doorways ...or even fucking doors at all? I wanted a monster computer and I got Helena Bonham Carter looking as confused as I was.
Ooooh, I fucking hate T4... Fact is, the Terminator franchise is one of my personal favorites and McG's utter destruction of that storyline actually offended me. Only one other theatre experience was as rage-inducing...

3) ...and that was A Nightmare on Elm Street(2010). I honestly don't think Samuel Bayer should work in the Film Industry. He's both talentless and stupid ...ugh, that reboot/remake pissed me off. Just junk from beginning to end ...lousy scares ...lousy super-forgettable Nancy ...lousy digital look, and the twist, something about monkeys and typewriters...
And don't even get me started on what they did to Freddy. Ugh.
A pathetic attempt at a horror film. Embarrassing.

4) Highlander II: The Quickening - The original TERRIBLE sequel. This movie is a lot like Planet of the Apes II(Beneath) in that the filmmakers not only seem as though they aren't fans of the original so much as contemptuous of it.
Roger Ebert: ..gave the film a score of 0.5 star (out of four), saying: "Highlander II: The Quickening is the most hilariously incomprehensible movie I've seen in many a long day—a movie almost awesome in its badness. Wherever science fiction fans gather, in decades and generations to come, this film will be remembered in hushed tones as one of the immortal low points of the genre."
Ha ha haa's sooo true.
My nerd buddies and I deconstructed H2 for years ...The PLANET ZEIST?!?! - What the fuck is anyone in this film even talking about? Super-garbage.

Oh, Ironside ...what are you up to?

5) Batman & Robin - For money, expectation, talent-involved, and strength of the franchise itself ...this may technically be the WORST FILM EVER MADE.
Two hours and five minutes without a worthwhile shot, scene or line of dialogue. This is the epitome of "High End Crap" ...just a completely hollow experience.

In an interview with Barbara Walters, Clooney claims he played Batman gay ...not that there's anything wrong with that...

Eight years before we'd see another Batman movie.

6) Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 - wow.
I remain convinced that noone involved with this "film" saw The Blair Witch Project.

7) Matrix Reloaded - I took this quote from EW: "Revolution is actually worse. But the second Matrix feels more egregious because of the sheer nosedive from the original. Sci-fi droolers had four whole years of pent-up expectations and time wasted dissecting the first chapter's metaphysical riddles. And after all that waiting, what did they get? A laughable techno rave in Zion with a lot of slo-mo sweat and revelers in hemp clothing. It's like a Lenny Kravitz video directed by Bob Guccione."
Yup, hated this while watching, and that's rare. Shite.

8) Ghostbusters II - GB2 is the most "sequelly" feeling movie I've ever seen, and one of the good reasons people don't like sequels very much. It sucks. It has that tired end-of-the-80's vibe an over processed song just tastes bland. I really dislike GB2.
Every moment seems "written" and forced. NO good dialogue ...just efficient and expository, and even the cast feels tired.
And like Die Hard 3 I can't stand it when the romance of the first film is undermined for drama in a lesser film. Why don't Dana and Venkman have a baby? Lame lame lame movie.

9) Spider-Man 3 - Holy Moley, this movie sucks balls.
One bad decision after another ...and only a hair's breath from being as bad as Schumacher's hundred and twenty million dollar homosexual love letter to 60's Batman.
The two originless villains look cool once in a while, which technically makes it better than Batman 4, but it's a terrible film and again ...really "sequelly" feel to it.
"WTF??" pretty much sums up Spidey 3...


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Supernatural - 21st Century Hardy Boys

First show I watched as a boy was ...The Hardy Boys.
Goofy, pretty light interpretation of the novels but fun ...good spirited spooky stories.
But, like Scooby-Doo, there was no actual supernatural stuff ...just bad guys pretending...
..and it left me wondering how would Frank and Joe deal with a ghost? A REAL ghost..

That's exactly what Supernatural is ...Hardy Boys meets Lovecraft...

I'm the older of two brothers, and if we could fight spirits, meet girls, fight occasionally...
Actually, that is how it is.
My bro is also the younger, taller, and more boyish - me, I'm the fuckin' jerk.

It's just a great continuity..
Good spirited spooky tales.
They've taken a fun-as-hell concrete approach to the Heaven and Hell we grew up with, and it works. An earth where "we" are kept safe from the forces above, below, and secretly here.
No, it isn't THE WIRE but nothing is...
..I just happen to like TV/Film when it feels like everyone is having as much fun as I am.

..and like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural is an evolving story long TV movies.
Love 'em. Thanks to HBO for that concept, though..

SUPERNATURAL is a blast.


ps: photoshop is fun - check out the difference in image...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Walking Dead

Best series on TV right now.

AMC's Walking Dead is the horror series Zombie fans have been waiting for ...but didn't know it. Frank Darabont is already one of my favorite filmmakers and you can feel not only his guiding hand but a real love for the material. Brilliant series, filled with suspense and smart writing.

Brings me to an irrelevant but interesting point nonetheless - I think the nerds of the world would save us from Zombies ...if anyone would it's them/us...
Most people would go into "full shutdown" if the dead did rise ...crazy stuff, but I'm betting the Zombie lovers'd take 10 seconds to assess and then "fight" - I think us nerds are actually just waiting patiently...

I love this middle ground where shows like Californication, Weeds, Six-Feet-Under ...Walking Dead are free to act like movies - well produced, well written and tight - great TV.

I can't wait for season 2...
...and now after talking to Josh ..the comic book too...

Go get Season One.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

14 things I liked about T H O R

1) There's a film in the theatre right now based on the Marvel comic book character I grew up on, Thor - this in itself is awesome.

2) The Destroyer is in it, and looking like a Kirby drawing ... fantastic. One of the best shots in it was Jane over a defeated Thor, with the Destroyer slowly marching away ...very cool.

3) Chris Hemsworth as THOR. Perfect ...funny, strong, and looking as though he just stepped out of Walt Simonson's sketch pad.

4) Anthony Hopkins clearly likes the character of Odin, and Branaugh's direction... he's a lot of fun in this one.

5) LOKI - Tom Hiddleston gives us a damn cool "God of Mischief" ...well written and well acted. More excited for his presence in AVENGERS now.

6) Death - The fact that his Dad decided he had to die, or be willing to, really did raise the stakes. I think that's a pretty good way to prove oneself.

7) The VFX - From practical suits to mind-blowing CG it just looked fantastic - the Rainbow Bridge sounds a lot less lamer once you've seen it. Thor's Asgard was as engaging as it's "reality" - did not expect that..

8) Colm Feore - He raises everything he's in, though I am sad he's not Canadian.

9) Idris Elba - Lots of racist debate over changing the skin color of this character. Well, since he looked cool, acted well, and brought the charismatic presence he always brings I guess I'd have to side with the filmmakers on this one. PERFECT HEIMDALL.

10) Unlike Iron Man 2, Thor did NOT feel like an extended ad for another movie.

11) DESIGN - From the costume choices to the towers of Asgard, the whole movie is filled with absolute artistry ...and CG that genuinely supports the story.

12) The Ultimates: "God, I hope you're not crazy.."
I'm sure there were plenty of conversations on which direction to take this character - a "God" in the modern age - what to do? what to do?
The synthesis of "Classic Thor" with his modern "Ultimates" counterpart is perfect. Just enough of Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's Thor in there with the best of Walt Simonson's run - Great work.
Thor in regular clothes in the rain, powerless and fighting to remove Mjolnir - cool as hell. 

13) FUN - Remember when comic books were fun? Characters laughed occasionally...
I'm not a fan of the 90's superhero mentality ...grouchy, psycho, self-important antiheroes, mostly written badly I found. This film is born out of enjoyment, like the first Superman in '78...
...and man, that's a welcome experience.

14) The "Easter Egg" - First one with a villain, and that mirror shot is a cheap theatre trick ...that I like a lot. Felt like 70's filmmaking for a minute there. Wasn't too excited about Loki as a baddie in Avengers buuuut that last scene, bring it on.

Thanks to Mr.Branaugh for loving Thor like a kid with a comic book...
...and thanks to MARVEL STUDIOS for treating the medium, the fans, and the characters with some good ol' fashioned respect. It's paying off for everyone involved.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Love it.
One of my favorite '80's movies...
Gotta go find it and watch tonight...

Going to watch it tomorrow night with my buddy, Dave Page ...then WE are going to write a crazy post ...tune in tomorrow, kiddies(who am I kidding - noone reads this)...

TONIGHT!! A Conversation with Dave Page on Fright Night... and burgers., good burgers..

Dave: "Man, I like that movie"
Arthur: "Me too.."

the end


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Source Code - Go see it!

Then we can chat about it - why you loved/liked/mah or hated it...

I myself, enjoyed it a lot...
..and here are ten reasons why:

1 - The direction - it felt seasoned and solid(guess it's time to watch Moon). Creative, energized control - I'll be first in line for Duncan Jones' next film.

2 - Gyllenhaal and Monaghan - greeeaat chemistry.

3 - The "look" - some specifically simple style choices give it a timeless quality ...seamless cg(perfect).

4 - Vera Farmiga's eyes - wow.

5 - The "roll scene" - Jake jumps off the train - motion of rolling constant with train = cool as hell.

6 - Russel Peters - Strong Canadian content.

7 - This poster ...excellent. In fact I must state again that any poster can be cool as long as it's not two photoshopped heads. Feels a little Saul Bass-ish ..very cool.
Even the mainstream posters were creative on this one.

8 - The plot - The "mcguffin" is based in ambiguous science but we learn with him - I like that ...good mysterious unraveling - it doesn't surprise me to learn that Mr.Jones borrowed from Hitch's Strangers on a Train shows.

9 - The smile scene - you'll know what I mean and you'll love it like I did or hate it like some of the folks who saw it that first night too did - there's personal philosophy in it and I'm a fan of that touch by any smart director.

10 - It's a smart sci-fi thrill ride directed by David Bowie's son and it feels a bit like Hitchcock - how fucking cool is that??

I saw it with my friend Martin who is smart and open-minded - take someone like that, or you'll regret it.

Great movie ...and damn, if it doesn't feel like summer's a startin'...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

BATTLE:LA ...Today!!!

Planning to see Battle:LA today...
Trailer was fantastic, and the definite reason for my interest in the film so we will see...
I like Aaron Eckhart and I looooves Michelle Rodriguez I does..

But so far the reviews are terrible, and it's March release date might mean a lack of faith behind the studio scenes, but I gotta decide this one for myself...

...5 hours later:

Well well well...
That was a pleasant surprise - better part of halfway through I lean over to Josh and say the same thing I said halfway through The Watchmen - "I'm liking this..." to which he responds "I know too." ..and it hadn't changed by the end.
I enjoyed Battle:LA quite a bit actually.

No obvious CG - I just can't stand it - lazy filmmakers replacing reality with pixels - "We'll just CG it out later." I hate you. You imbeciles are ruining movies. I will make a feature film with no fucking CG...
Anyway, the film plays fast and busy, and if that's not your cup of tea - don't go. If you like a war drama with a few solid characters and a forward driven script with no pretension you may enjoy Battle:LA as much as I did. Black-Hawk Down with aliens - yup, that works for me.

No superheroics - Another juvenile trapping of modern action films is the "superheroic human" - annoyingly lame. As soon as someone jumps four stories and hangs onto a moving vehicle with one hand while shooting, I'm kinda gone from it - people die in this one, and die logically.

The Aliens - great design ...weird and new...
There's an excellent scene with our resolute soldiers attempting to "kill" one of the creatures - we get human desperation and real special effects ...allllriiight, this is science fiction adventure at it's best, and I am a real sci-fi fan.

The scene with the kid - you'll know what I mean when I say it goes from predictable to touching in two seconds - it's just a good scene.

The Ending - Excellent for a few reasons - I believe it's the human element that makes good sci-fi - and it's abundant here in an intense, smart finale that borrows from stuff I love while showing me something fresh & new.
Amazing FX.

Michelle Rodriguez - 'nuff said.

Thanks to Aaron Eckhart(are his characters always impatient?) and his faith in Jonathan Liebesman's vision. It was a good one.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

Okay, Inception I know why I didn't like you very much.

Right out of the gate, the energy of AB is just better ...faster, cooler..
Smart music choices, here and at the end of the film, bookend it nicely, as the tale of David Norris quickly becomes interesting enough for a film of it's own. It establishes it's own identity in it's first couple scenes, and though we all know PKD is a genius, it's obvious the Screenwriter/Director had to write some pretty damn good stuff to set this story in 2011 - impressive synthesis, and dedicated filmmaking.

Matt Damon turns in a really good performance boasting subtleties I've never seen him display - best role since Bourne 2...
Emily Blunt is sooo well cast here. Obviously not the traditional beauty, she catches you off guard with her presence, skill and style ...perfect balance to Damon's charisma and character. I didn't "want" her so much as I wanted them to be together ...very cool.
John Slattery does his weirdest version of that character he often plays - "Official doing something official" and I liked him in this more than ever before. Anthony Mackie's Harry is great, as is Michael Kelly - really solid performances that just elevate the whole thing.
As for Terrence Stamp - he's Terrence Stamp - of course he's awesome.

The whole shebang looks really good and a couple unique NY location shots make his political campaign feel very real - like places we just wouldn't be if this weren't true ... good direction - why have I never heard of George Nolfi? ..well, turns out he wrote Bourne 3 ...and this is his first directing gig. Fuck, dude - not bad.

It made me feel good. It often is that simple for this guy.
Inception didn't.
It felt like "elevated pretension" in retrospect, having just enjoyed this film five times more. If anything it's the humour that separates it - AB is funny and charming in the moments Inception was informative and sterile.

By the end, I felt a fair bit like David Norris - that forces for years had been conspiring to thwart me, and that only my ultimate perseverance would get me to where I want to truly be.

But that's the point isn't it - association - make us see ourselves - give us strength we believe we have. Raise us up.

Damn good movie - can't wait to watch it again.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Superior Sequels: Do they exist?

I think they do...
..but not in the fashion put to me by friends and film aficionados over the years.

"Empire's wayyyy better than Star Wars.."
"Spider-Man is twice as good as part one..."
"Superman's boring ...I like #2 more.."
etc. etc...

I don't think a film that relies on the existence of another is superior. If Spidey 2 introduced the character we'd have been disappointed Uncle Ben origin...
Technical, I know, but these aren't better - might be a more enjoyable adventure - maybe better written, maybe even a better film, which is the case with Star Wars for sure... buuuuut, if you have to have seen the previous story, it's like saying you prefer the second floor of a cool building - sure, but that first floor matters a bit more.

The Exceptions or what I consider to be the only 2 "superior" sequels ever made:

#1 is Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan ...better look, script, better film, annnnd, had this been the intro to the film incarnations of Kirk and Spock, it would still be better, and perhaps moreso as a film sequel to the TV series. We all love Khan.
In fact, Star Trek as a franchise may have two "superior sequels". The new film, with only one cast member of the original characters, may work just as well as STII in that it's a sequel to the TV series. I'm willing to bet you could jump from the 60's show to J.J.Abrams Trek #11 and see it as "better". The film is genius, and one of the best of the past decade. Not bad for a franchise that lived in the shadow of Star Wars for far too long.

#2 is Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom a prequel, I think this'd be a perfect intro to Indy, especially with his "fortune and glory" stuff that obviously belongs to a younger version of the character. Watch Doom then Raiders and tell me it doesn't feel like Indy is about five years older in Raiders. I happen to like Temple more(just a personal thing, but I have great reasons) and anyone who does can easily see it as "better" than it's Oscar-nominated predecessor. I truly believe Spielberg's disdain for Temple affected it's place in pop-culture. I just don't see Nazi's as "lighter" than grinning maniacal over-the-top cult leaders. The whole film is too light to see as "too dark" ...the script is funny, an action movie's timing, and the 'hero's journey" is clearest and coolest in this one of all four.

If anyone ever reads this and disagrees, please comment - I love this stuff.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhog Day

Going to watch Bill Murray's Groundhog Day today ...yet again.

Not an odd thing for this kid ...I watch movies over and over all the time. But what about a super-repetitive movie that re-references itself over and over?? Why would anyone want to watch something like that more than once? Because it's good. Really good. Smart and philosophical and uplifting. This is another choice that shows us Bill Murray is a thinking person ...gotta be real smart to be real funny.

The film is quick and clever - very entertaining & a joy no matter what you take from it, but what a comment it makes...

I get up and live a similar morning every day too, but this movie always makes me re-examine how I live ...where I place my priorities...
The film seems small but it's all about the big picture.

I love the script, the direction, the acting, the timing, the humour...
I love Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell together - the whole arc of their romance could be a film itself outside this one. Fantastic ending ...BM's delivery - the resignation in the voice and body language ...the realization of true love for this woman it. He's brilliant in the film but the emotional plateau in that ending. Amazing stuff, and a teaming of Ramis and Murray that's every bit as relevant as their "big one".

I wonder if you know this, dear reader... the film takes place over TEN YEARS, and there are 34 "Groundhog Day"s in it that is wild.
How many life lessons could you learn in a rerun decade?

I learn more every time I watch it.
It always makes me want to fall in love, and punch an insurance salesman.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Twin Peaks

Wednesday was David Lynch's birthday.
I had the absolute pleasure of watching the pilot for Twin Peaks on a big screen. Very very cool.
That single episode of TV is extraordinary. Maybe the most impressive pilot ever.

I checked it out back in '90 and it didn't grab me ..or rather I didn't let it. I knew who David Lynch was and had heard the show was really interesting but... ...girls..
Anyway, some years later I met a cool cat named Tom Naugler. Can't remember the exact genesis of events but we ended up watching the whole series in his basement, two episodes at a time, whilst sipping rum and cokes. Great times. Great show.
The whole period sticks with me now as it's the last "social" thing I did regularly before my mother's death in '97. For that and the just plain fun of it - heading up from Mom's place, walk through the park - have a look out at the arm - think about Twin Peaks ..walk home, buzzed, thinkin' about girls and Twin Peaks. Say "goodnight" to Mom. Have really weird dreams.
Again, fantastic days.
I figured the times had enriched my memory of the show.
it's far better than even I remembered ...the catch being that I'd secretly decided to never watch it again ..keep the memory pristine ...naive thinking, I know but cut me some slack - I had a cool mom and it was a tricky time.
Well Mom, I gotta watch the whole series again...
I'll think of you and Tom and of being young, and I'll smile at amazing days...

God, I love that intro.

As I re-devour one of the most artistic works I've ever seen/heard.
What a pilot episode...
It takes maybe 60 seconds to get "hooked" so to speak. Watching it now I would attribute a big part of the show's affect to the soundtrack. An incredible thread of what became the 3 classic Twin Peaks "pieces" of music layer the show so well - so many things coming together in such a rich experience - the visuals with that score ...amazing synthesis. My favorite blend of imagery and song ever in a show - I can't think of anything that compares.

tbc ..I must think..

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Super Soundtracks

The Soundtrack - boyoboy, how many movies have been saved by super duper music? Jaws, Star Wars, and Raiders would be verrry different without John Williams. Imagine Halloween with a different score...
I dare say Verna Fields and John Williams are the other two equal thirds of Jaws.

a little
like this: no order..

The Straight Story - Angelo Badalamenti - So much emotion locked into this music - from one of the most beautiful films ever made.
Tron Legacy - Daft Punk - Film good. Soundtrack brilliant.
Superman - John Williams
Zodiac - Various/David Shire - As if Rod Stewart's "(I know)I'm losing you" in that trailer isn't enough, the whole soundtrack rocks but Donovan's "Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, gurdy he sang. Here comes the roly poly man and he's singing songs of love.." - I have the chills...
9 ½ Weeks - Various - It still works, and you know what I mean...
Brimstone and Treacle - The Police/Various - it's excellent - Listen to the whole thing...
& "I Burn for You" rocks!! ...kinda sexy creepy - Very cool song.
The Terminator - Brad Fiedel - That main theme is perfect.
Batman - Danny Elfman - "Memories, from the corner of my mind..."
Austin Powers - Various - Fun.
Psycho - Bernard Hermann
The Crow - Various
Pulp Fiction - Various ...I know it got played too much...
Highlander - Queen
...and at #14 is my favorite 80's theme... "Blade Runner Blues" from THE #1 ...Blade Runner by Vangelis

A soundtrack is a powerful thing can "raise up" or "truly undermine" a film...
On True Romance and To Live and Die in LA...
If Tarantino did the soundtrack for TR it'd be a bigger cult film - fact. Okay, "You're So Cool" is an incredibly nice little piece of music, and the signature tune of the movie for me, but the fact that "Take me to the Other Side" by Aerosmith isn't on it means the album has one only one really good track. Not enough.
If To Live and Die in LA didn't have a painfully lame score it'd be far better remembered. The film itself is fantastic, and the title track is the best song Wang Chung ever did ...but again, this is not a particularly high bar. To quote another LA-featured film "In this town I'm the leper with the most fingers."
One hit soundtracks are often the ones we remember.

...and Tubular Bells still scares me...

Then there's the X-Files first movie soundtrack - none of the tunes are in the film. Strange.
I don't really like soundtracks "inspired by"... Gimme a break.

But # 1 was Star Wars way way back ...I called my friend, Jim and played the whole album. It remains my longest telephone call ever.
Okay, longest call with a guy friend..

Music puts you in the moment again like a smell in the fall - it's magic.

"It's a Kind of Magic" anyway...
..ha haa..


Sunday, January 2, 2011


Of every character and every story I've ever read I have good confidence that Swamp Thing will remain #1 forever.

I picked up Saga of the Swamp Thing #1 at my "Lawtons" drugstore in the Spryfield Mall back in good ol' 1982(oh, I love you). It was a number one ...had to check it out. Hooked.
I loved the character instantly. I was eleven years old and a superhero/monster made of plants really appealed to me idea why I loved this character so much but I did ..I did. By the time issue #2 came out I'd discovered Swamp Thing's 1970's roots ...the genius of Berni Wrightson and Len Wein. The artwork matched the moody macabre writing ...just fantastic, as was meeting Len Wein in New York in 2008 chat Swamp Thing with his creator - I was eleven again, and sooo happy fact, that three days in NY was heavenly...and damn if Len Wein isn't as nice as Swamp Thing is awesome.

Some pop-culture properties grow up with you and when they do they're like an old friend who's been around so long you almost forget you were young together too. Alec Holland is one of those old friend.
He's also an old friend of the Swamp Thing himself or rather this idea was the radical concept introduced by UK genius Alan Moore when he took over writing duties for Swampy on #20 - an issue that remains a specific dark memory for me. I waited eagerly for this new writer everyone seemed excited about(at least the few adult nerds I talked to at Wilkies were..) and what did this "much-vaunted" Alan Moore do? Killed my favorite character. I can still hear the music to Vectrex's "Minestorm" playing in my head when I think of that day ...a hail of bullets ripping my character apart ..who did this guy think he was? ...what the hell kind of good story was going to come out of this mess?
Alan Moore changed my childhood, but I'll return to him...

Swamp Thing the Movie:
Fun. Best word for it, and amazingly the first Wes Craven film in my writing here. I love A Nightmare on Elm Street - love it - favorite single series starting slasher film, but his Swamp Thing is a funny little movie ...most of the comic book beats are here and the fact that it was shot in Louisiana helps plenty but many decisions are in the cheesy b-movie style. The suit took a lot of flak but I like the design and rubber suits are more charming than pixels no matter how many zippers you see. As a boy it was a blast to have human characters like "Ferret" and "Bruno" from Len Wein's original bouncing around - causing trouble for Swampy but even at eleven I wondered "Why not make 'em cooler ...more gothic like the original?" ..but hey - I was young. I think we watched it for my friend Bill's birthday ...perfect for a couple super-nerds, and then the re-discovery of the film as an adult. There are two versions. One has a topless Adrienne Barbeau and the other is ...well, useless.
Adrienne Barbeau - Holy moley ...what a woman. The Fog - Escape from New York - Maude ...I've had a ginormous crush on her since birth essentially.
Then comes 1989's The Return of Swamp Thing ...yowsa, I heard/read the idea that this movie was inspired by Alan Moore's run on the book - that's like saying acid wash jeans were inspired by tuxedos..
I have to watch it again but I'd guess it's release was only motivated by Tim Burton's Batman fever and the fact that the comic book had become extremely popular. No one who made this film ever read Alan Moore's work on Swamp Thing - perhaps I should say they didn't grasp it if they did peruse. When I do view it again I'm sure I'll find a few good moments but I don't remember too many ...Gothic tragic hero = comedy with Heather Locklear = bad math. Buuut the suit in this one is a pretty wild improvement and if anything came from the 80's run it was Swampy's new look ...not too shabbadoo. Rest of it ...well, you decide. It's fun, but a far younger fun than the first film.
Next came Swamp Thing the Series...
I have to get this again - it's cheap and cheesy 90's but more of a Littlest Hobo/story of the week vibe than either film.
Weird part is that the show lasted 72 episodes...

Wein/Wrightson - Wow, this is the original Swamp Thing team and incidentally two of the most talented cats ever to grace the industry. Fall of '82 I started picking up the original series - a new and wonderful obsession. Fell into this gothic macabre world these two men created way back in the early 70's ..and I've been there since. I adore Wrightson's art ...and I still prefer him to even Frazetta who may be the pinnacle of his realm. His anatomy is so dramatic yet simple ...beautiful lines that evoke emotions..

Great story..

Wrightson owns the macabre.
If I could go back in time and watch Berni Wrightson draw those pages ...I'd never come back - I'd just go get him coffee. But I guess I'd have to bring one for Len Wein too...
Bloody Writers!! As a young boy, I was naive enough to believe the artwork to be more important than story - 'til Swamp Thing that is. This is the team that made me aware of teams ..that two or more people could do their best and come up with something ...amazing together ...greater than the sum of it's parts.
"..muck-encrusted mockery of a man..." It doesn't get any better than that.

Yikes, this is a really long one. In favor of not losing my few readers halfway through I may just have to do a second Swampy post ...or even a third.