Monday, March 6, 2017
Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne has merged with The Infinite.
I was pretty much convinced that Robert Osborne was a robot. It didn't matter what time of day or night I switched on Turner Classic Movies, if a movie wasn't playing, he was providing an intro or outro in a smooth, polished, knowledgeable manner, like the best film prof you never had. In theory he was the prime-time host, but for several years in there, I literally remember no one else.
I mean, sure, it was just a few minutes per movie, but those need to be written, shot, etc... and it was clear he was pretty hands-on with all aspects. Including the phenomenal interviews he wrangled with innumerable Hollywood icons, and later as he'd co-host series with modern luminaries reflecting back on whatever run of movies they were about to show. And he always got to the nut of what made the film special both writ large and what made fans (these modern film stars) so passionate about the movie.
If all you've heard about The World is Not Enough (1999) is that Denise Richards is hopelessly miscast and bad at the whole acting bit, well, yes. That's a good chunk of what you'll want to know before entering into this particular Bond flick.
I'd never seen this movie before because, by 1999, I was not going to see a Bond movie that was starring Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist. And maybe that was a good instinct. Unfortunately I do think I missed out on a few good Bond scenes. Maybe not the most exciting Bond plot of all time (there's a part in the middle that positively drags), and the post-Michelle Yeoh hangover is sorely felt.
The plot is overly intricate, even for a Bond movie, to the point where I literally didn't know what was going on, who people were, etc... because I checked my phone for a minute. I caught up eventually, but by then Denise Richards was in the movie and that was... man. She is not good.
Once again Bond winds up chasing around renegade nukes (if anything should have taught us what a bad idea it is to have nuclear weapons, it would have been these movies and the propensity for these weapons to wind up in villainous hands) after a bunch of stuff about a billionaire guy's daughter getting kidnapped, Bond going to support her in Azerbaijan (her mother was Azerbaijani, her father British), and get her father's oil pipeline completed. She'd freed herself from some terrorists led by Robert Carlyle playing a superhuman Russian, etc... et al. It's complicated.
It's also all a bit forgettable. What you will remember is the stunning boat chase along the Thames, Denise Richards' boob-tacular scientist wear*, and bizarrely outfitted helicopters (which are apparently entirely real). And, they were introducing John Cleese as the all-new Q as Desmond Lleyelyn was retiring (he actually died a month after this movie was released).
Look, I'm also not the world's biggest fan of Robert Carlyle, and I felt like his character got a shit-ton of set-up, and then the movie did too little with the idea. After Jonathan Pryce's megalomaniacal media overlord, this seems like small potatoes (even though the potential bodycount is also in the millions, should Bond fail). I did like the primary Bond girl in the film (not Denise Richards) played by Sophie Marceau, but her storyline takes, like, forever to unfold.
I dunno. I do know this plot is less ludicrous than what's coming in the next film.
*speaking of boobs - while Ms. Marceau is a beauty to behold, physics suggest to me that she's been dealt some unfortunate Photoshopping in the above poster.
*trust me, this is hilarious if you work on a college campus
Saturday, March 4, 2017
Ask The Parrot (2006) is the penultimate Parker novel. Frankly, I'd been dreading hitting this book based on the title alone, which sounded like one of those caper novels that would get turned into a movie with Dennis Farina that was funny, but not *that* funny, and mostly forgettable.
It's a strange, small book, playing well to several of Stark's strengths and his interest in exploring multiple characters and POV's in a single book. He sticks with the winning formula, maintaining a limited omniscient narrator's voice but using the 3rd section of the book to jump from person to person in the situation, setting up what would happen in the explosive fourth portion of the novel when everything comes together to fall apart.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
You'll hear a lot about how 90's comic books were all about Chromium covers, Rob Liefeld and . There's some truth to that. But that's like saying 90's music was all Garth Brooks and Hootie and the Blowfish. The 90's brought us Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, and a host of others who came to comics mostly via the guiding hand of Karen Berger and the Vertigo imprint.
Titles like Hellblazer, Kid Eternity and Invisibles kept me in comics when I was hitting that crucial point where I might have moved on. And, totally honestly, had I not stumbled across the "Ramadan" issue of Sandman during the final months of my senior year of high school, I suspect me and comics were headed for a bitter break-up.
Part of that break-up was what was happening in the X-Men titles, which had lost the guiding hand of Chris Claremont, whose writing I was ready to leave behind, I suspect, but who had created multi-dimensional characters in a way that, to this day, I cannot believe comics in general haven't learned from.
FX's new series, Legion, is going to confuse folks who head to the comic shop to find issues of the series, or a nice trade paperback. The character, David Haller, appeared briefly in a few runs of various X-books dating back to the mid-1980's, including his first appearances in the surprisingly weird New Mutants title, giving Chris Claremont's writing and the artistry of Bill Sienkiewicz (Elektra: Assassin, Stray Toasters, numerous other projects) co-creator status.
Sunday, February 26, 2017
Y'all have already seen this one, so no lengthy post here. But that was a really fun movie, and maybe the best intro to the full range of Bat-dorkiness from DC Comics, the movies, the TV shows...
That was just a blast.
And, now I need a lot of white and crystal Lego, because I really want to build a Lego Fortress of Solitude.
Like all of you, we were saddened to hear of the unexpected passing of actor Bill Paxton.
Paxton became a favorite back in the mid-80's when we first saw Aliens in which he played Private First Class Hudson, the resident smart-ass of the squad of Colonial Marines sent in to investigate the situation on Acheron (aka LV-426). After that, we recognized him as Chet in Weird Science and the punk guy who maybe shouldn't have picked a fight with a naked Arnie in Terminator.
Paxton was always a welcome name to see show up in the credits of any film, and you always knew you were getting something memorable out of him. He didn't have many blockbuster starring roles outside of Twister, but he continued to provide outstanding performances in supporting roles and found a lead role that worked well for him in HBO's polygamy drama, Big Love.
We'll miss Paxton. To say he went too soon is a tremendous understatement, and I think all of us expected him to continue to appear on our screens for decades to come.
But let us never forget that he also directed and starred in the video for Barnes & Barnes classic "Fish Heads".
Saturday, February 25, 2017
If you've never seen the original series of Twin Peaks, my recommendation is to watch Season 1 and then Season 2 up through Episode 10 or 11 and then quit.
Over the years I've heard a lot of conflicting stories about what happened in Season 2 as the series went along, but for those of us who remember television in the 1980's and 1990's, who couldn't believe Twin Peaks was ever on a major network to begin with, it seems plain that the networks did what they always did back then - refused to leave well enough alone.
Around Episode 10 of Season 2 (of 22), David Lynch and Mark Frost seem to have moved on from Twin Peaks, abandoning one of TV's most singular visions behind, one must assume, to the suits. You still see Caleb Deschanel's name appear as a director, but Frost and Lynch's names are basically listed as "creators" by that point, and the series is handed off to folks whose names will mean nothing to you. A quick Google search will tell you that the network insisted that Frost and Lynch wrap up the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer, and after completing their mission in Episode 9, they made haste to distance themselves from the show.
Of course, that doesn't mean the first half of Season 2 of Twin Peaks continued to deliver the same visionary television that the first eight-episode season provided that made the show a small cultural phenomenon.
Friday, February 24, 2017
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
I spend some amount of time (read: all of my time) online, and thus was aware, somehow, of the fictional boogeyman, The Slenderman. It was one of those things that I said "what is that?", Googled it, saw it was a meme sort of thing the kids were into, and went about my business.
The Slenderman was created in the world of online fictional storytelling, and as these things sometimes do, it took off and became an idea that flooded outside of the scary-stories site where The Slenderman first appeared. A quick Google search will turn up thousands of hits. He's an otherworldly figure who haunts children once they become aware of him, and will either murder them or befriend the most pitiable (I think).
In 2014 a new story broke out of Waukesha, Wisconsin that two 12 year-old girls had lured their friend into the woods and then attempted to stab her to death in order to impress/ appease "The Slenderman", which... to an adult sounds a bit like committing attempted murder to appease a movie or television character like The Cryptkeeper or something. I don't want to belittle any of this, because two little girls really did have some sort of break and a third was gravely injured and will no doubt suffer longterm effects, but as someone well beyond the age of the girls who made this decision and with a "I existed before the internet" point of view, it's very hard to imagine the world that created this tragedy.
The HBO Documentary Beware the Slenderman (2016) dissects the scenario that led to the incident, looking into the world of the girls, what's online and how they related to it. Honestly, I don't think I've ever seen a doc that had this sort of access to the parents of perpetrators of an act like this who were clearly involved and participating in the film within a couple of months of the girls' incarceration and into the trial.
Monday, February 20, 2017
|This is Grover Cleveland. It is not a picture of me taken from the year 2045.|
So, every President's Day (here in the U.S.) I try to write up a President of the United States, and some years I base my post on having had read a book or two. But years like this year - I do some Googling and try to quickly educate myself about a President I don't know much about.
Grover Cleveland is one of those Presidents you could probably pick out of a line-up thanks to the mustache and glaring eyes, but other than that - you may not have the slightest inkling of what he was about. I know I didn't.