Saturday, January 23, 2016

Screwball Watch: The Awful Truth (1937)

It seems like this is the 3rd of 4th movie I've seen from about this era in which the theme is "rich people in New York ponder divorce, remember they like each other.  Everyone is polite.  Big Laughs."

It is funny.  It works.  Both Cary Grant and Irene Dunne are really terrific.  Irene Dunne is quite lovely and wears a wide array of architectural dreams as gowns.  It's all very light and fluffy and fun, and I will remember nothing about the movie later, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't recommend it.  Because it also has a very cute dog named "Mr. Smith".

Friday, January 22, 2016

Oh, holy @#$%. DC Comics looks to be rebooting. Again. Again. Again. Again.

Look, I don't really read any DC Comics any more.  Which, yeah...   I know, right?

And I have gotten quite tired of saying that watching DC Comics as a publisher/ company/ whatever is waaaaay more interesting than their output.

But what I do know is that for the past year or so, DC's sales have been sliding like mad, and my guess is that even the current milking of Dark Knight Returns with the inconceivably named third volume The Master Race, isn't working out quite as planned.

"I just keep failing upward!"

Anyway, rumors were a-hopping today at Bleeding Cool that a line-wide reboot was in the works.  Heidi opined on this over at Comics Beat.

Then, Didio and Lee both tweeted a kind of stupid looking image of a blue curtain with the word "Rebirth" projected onto the curtain.

Join Max in Kicking Cancer's Ass

I'm going to share this link with you here and again at the end.

Writer, blogger, reader and Austinite Max Romero is putting together a project I think you'll like.  I know I'm thinking about this pretty hard.  And, I ask you - both of my readers - to think about this as well.

Max is a cancer survivor and he's now about three years out from when he had surgery to remove the tumor.  To celebrate the past three years and pay it forward, Max is going to be collecting items from his readers, friends and family and he'll be raffling them off.  Proceeds, obviously, go to charity.  Quite directly.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Signal Watch Reads: "The Lady in the Lake" by Raymond Chandler (1943) - audiobook

The great thing about novel adaptations back in the day was that they clearly either adapted the movies of books they'd read ten years prior and couldn't remember anymore, or they'd be damned if they were going to finish the book before pounding out a script.

I say this, because I've seen the odd-ball noir detective film, The Lady in the Lake directed by and starring Robert Montgomery at least twice, but more like three times.  Why?  Well, it's a super strange movie told from a first person POV with a windy plot that takes a surprisingly believable break in the action for Christmas Eve, and features Audrey Totter at her Totter-iest.

Why, yes, I am going to look right into the camera the whole movie.  Why?

But I don't really want to write a compare-and-contrast of the film and book.  First, only one of you has likely even seen this movie (for shaaaaaame...), and, you know, they're two different beasts.

Still, Audrey Totter.

seriously, this movie is odd, and I totally recommend it

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Star Wars and Mythology via Marketing

A curious thing has happened in the past month of the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Most of my facebook friends are in my age range, and they've got kids in a wide range of ages.  Not all, but many of them, made sure they and their family partook in a screening of Star Wars.  That's a normal thing.  (A) If I have learned one thing, it's that parents mostly take kids to the movies for the possibility of silence and peace in their lives for 20- 90 minute stretches, otherwise unknown while the kids are awake, and (B) people take their kids to see Star Wars, in particular.

But I saw the families dressed up in Jedi garb, the post-Christmas-Day pics of kids in Kylo Ren masks waving $10-40 plastic lightsabers, and the joy in the posts as people proudly showed off how they'd passed down Star Wars - something I've seen even with the weaker Prequels, which I am always amazed to hear the kids like just fine.*

We are certainly in the age of multi-generational media.  Or, rather - we have re-entered an age of multi-generational storytelling.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Bear Attack Watch: The Revenant (2015)

About five minutes after the bear attack in The Revenant (2015), I started to get a sinking feeling, and as the movie unspooled, the sinking feeling grew deeper and deeper.  I like to think I have middle-of-the-road taste in movies.  I like to think I can appreciate a dumb slapstick comedy - but I'll almost never pay to see a new one.  I like to think I can enjoy a standard actioner - but I don't know that I've gone to see one in the theater in years.  I've not seen The Expendables franchise and, sorry team, the Fast and the Furious franchise holds as much interest for me as hearing you describe your dreams at length.   I like to think I can muddle my way through art-house, but rarely bother.  And Oscar Bait movies generally bore me to tears.

What hit me as the movie progressed is:  I've become an arbitrarily picky movie watcher.  There's no science to my taste, no real sense to it.  But, oh my god, am I hard on anything that actually tries.

I'm the guy who didn't particularly like The Revenant.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Marvel Television: Jessica Jones and the New Era for Marvel

I'm about two months behind everyone else finishing the Marvel Netflix series Jessica Jones, a spiritual sibling of the much celebrated Daredevil, and as far from the TV-logic and twee shenanigans of Agents of SHIELD as you're likely to get.

I'm going to throw this out there, and I'll ask you to stick with me:  Jessica Jones may be, to live-action superhero media, what Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen were to comics in 1986.

Way back in the late-90's/ early-00's, I was reading a lot of this new kid, Brian Michael Bendis, who had some indie success with Goldfish, Torso and other gritty crime books (and Torso is still an amazing read, the based-on-real-events story of famed lawman Elliot Ness trying to find a serial killer in Cleveland after putting Capone behind bars).  He followed this by teaming with Oeming on Powers, a "cops in a world with capes"  comic with a decidedly Rated-R bent, and I followed that series for years.  Around 2001/2002, Bendis and Gaydos brought Alias to Marvel and minted their new MAX imprint - a line of comics with a hard "R" rating, but absolutely within the Marvel Universe.  Something even DC blanched at, separating Vertigo from DCU proper circa 1994.

This was about fifteen years after the atom-bomb of Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns exploded in the comics world and, in the aftermath, the idea that comics could reach an adult audience was left behind in the radiation and sand burnt to glass.  Bendis was part of the generation who came into the field when a few things were happening.  (A) Reaching an audience older than 17 was now possible - which meant the very real-world problems facing actual humans could be discussed in comics, even with a superheroic bent, which (B) meant that the comics companies were setting up imprints to deal with this idea, keeping their mainline branding safe for the parents associations who would show up and breathe fire and throw comics retailers in jail from time-to-time for not carefully shelving their wares.  And, of course, (C) Marvel was dealing with bankruptcy.  I have very little positive to say about 2001-era Marvel honcho Bill Jemas, but he was certainly willing to try new things, and all of that risk-taking has indirectly led to the Marvel we think of today.

Alias showed up in this market as a sort of indie-within-the-Big-2 title.  It was something to see a character who smoked and drank and had sex with Luke Cage (which she does in the first few pages of the series - so I feel spoiler free), and met Carol Danvers for coffee.  It was a detective series.  There was something in her background we'd get to sooner or later, some dark reason she'd quit heroing, but at the outset, it seemed to just be a series about a failed superhero making ends meet and seeing real human foibles and crime in the underbelly of the Marvel U.

So... the TV show.

Bowie Watch: The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)

I had not previously seen The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976).  Something about the description on the back of the VHS box I used to consider made me pretty sure I knew what this movie was going to be, and...  I was about half-right.  It's an innocent-comes-to-earth-and-reveals-we're-kind-of-lousy-because-of-how-we-treat-him movie.  There's less in the way of sexual misadventures for our alien than I was expecting.  And a huge lack of actual David Bowie music, which I just wrongly assumed would score the movie.

Honestly, this wasn't really my cup of tea.  Not terrible, but I feel like I've seen this story done before and with both more narrative economy and with more focus.  Bowie himself is actually pretty good.  I'm just not sure this movie was as good as it thinks it is.  But it's also a product of it's time, and it's a necessary stepping stone that pushed sci-fi a bit further in cinema.