Thursday, June 17, 2010

Weekly Watch Wind: 06/18/2010

Video Games/ DC Comics: DCU Online now available for pre-order.

Great. Now I need a new computer.

Passing/ Creator: Al Williamson, a legendary comic artist has passed. Honestly, I believed Williamson had been dead for years, but... oh, well.

I know him from his work on Flash Gordon, but he also did this one short story I read in a book about the realities and speculation around space travel entitled "Rocketship". I was shocked to see a page from that story included in the gallery (image #11).

The story is basically about how man's attempts to reach the stars will be doomed by our inability to leave our most basic human failings behind when we hit the intergalactic highway. Reading this story in middle school made me believe we'd never truly achieve our potential as a species.

Batman/ Pornography: Comics Alliance posts a review of the very adult film, "Batman XXX". The review does nothing to diminish my curiosity, but I am unwilling to risk divorce for a cheap laugh (sort of). The review is NOT SAFE FOR WORK (or M-i-L or The KareBear), btw.

From the review:

...but seriously, they look like they're having fun. And why shouldn't they? I mean, Dale DaBone gets to be Batman and a porn star at the same time.

That dude is straight up living the dream.

Memes/ Keanu: Likely you've heard of this by now. It makes it no less... awesome. The Signal Watch also really hopes things pick up for Keanu by the weekend.

Liefeld/ Comics: Did you read comics in the 1990's? Well, then you likely remember oddly proportioned men and women carrying enormous weapons and smothered in dozens of pockets. This whole scene was developed by comic artist/ writer, Rob Liefeld, who now embodies the excesses of comics in the 90's to many comic fans.

Well, nothing is crueler than a comic fan with a web site and a long memory.

Two Liefeld links of note:

1) A reminder of what not to do when they give you the Captain America assignment
2) Liefeld Rulz! - tribute artists pay homage to Rob Liefeld's style

special thanks to MikeF. for the links!

Aquaman/ BP: I think Randy and Simon send me this. So sad.

E3/ Interviews: I'm not actually linking to anything here. I'm just saying: there is seemingly nothing more pointless than an E3 interview (except for maybe interviewing pop stars).

Movies/ Comics: I'm gonna buy this comic of the upcoming Machete! movie.

Superboy and the Legion

I know we've got a dearth of Legion fans in the audience, but this cover made my day.

New "Smurfs" movie looks... unsmurfable...

At this late date, I can't believe movie trailers are using Tone Loc, or that Tone Loc hasn't decided that maybe that song has been overused in trailers.

Also, what are they saying about about Smurfette by choosing that song..?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tremé, American Experience, Mythbusters

On Tuesday, Jamie informed me that she didn't care if "The A-Team" was awful, she wanted to get out and see a really big, dumb action movie. I am either with her or against her.

I am probably going to see "Giant" by myself on Sunday, so that may or may not answer that particular question.

I don't know what it is. Likely the very hot summer that has descended upon us, but I am having a small spate of not-giving-a-damn. That doesn't help much with blogging about movies, comics and TV.

Show I am watching: Tremé

I'll be down when this season of Tremé ends. I didn't catch The Wire when it was on (I have plans for watching it while riding my elliptical machine), so this is my first time around with these creators and some of the actors.

I read somewhere that a reviewer liked Tremé until they felt it got "a little preachy".


Not only does that suggest you've missed the entire point of the show (it's like complaining that they kept talking about drugs on The Wire), but its also exactly the issue New Orleans faced then and from which they never could recover.

Anyhow, its not the best thing I've ever seen on TV, but its a very well executed show, and one of the few examples I can cite of what TV can do as a medium that seems to respect and expect something from its audience.

You also can't beat the casting (I don't watch CSI, so its been a pleasure to see Khandi Alexander on TV again after loving her on the late, great News Radio).

Show I am Watching: The American Experience

Probably one of the best programs on PBS, The American Experience is a lazy ex-history major's dream program. 1-2 hour documentaries on all sorts of topics from American history, especially of the last 150 years (from when photographs or film are available). It's a remarkably well managed series, especially given the wide ranging contributors and topics, but its almost always worth the watching in order to better understand the US.

The previous, patriotic opening (recently replaced by an oddly kick-ass opening I can't find online):

Show I am watching: Mythbusters

Who knew watching fireballs would still be entertaining after this many years?

I still love Mythbusters. Say what you want about TV as fantasy fulfillment, but this show really does answer a lot of questions I never knew I had and more than occasionally tries something I'd really like to do (see: parking a car behind a 747 engine). Plus, explosions.

I can't believe none of these people has sustained serious injury

Anyway, I recommend following Adam and Grant on Twitter. Totally worth it.

So what are you watching?

What goes on

I am trying to draw aeroplanes

It is very hard. The wings do not like to be drawn in perspective. I am mad at Joe Kubert and how easy he makes it looks to draw aeroplanes. Also, I am a cartoony drawer, so it is not helping me here.

This is my troublesome model.

It is crappy. I have ordered a new model that is bigger. I am waiting for it to come by mail.

I was hoping my friends would help me.

Usually you can count on the Justice League. And Power Girl.

but the Supermans want me to draw Supermans

They always want me to draw Supermans. And The Flash.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I got nothing...

I have nothing for you today, so a bit of advice:

If you have a bit of money to start a business, do as this enterprising fellow did. Blow everything you've got on a grind organ and the best monkey you can lay your hands on. Then just start preparing for how you'll spend all that sweet dough.

Just keep the monkey on a length of string so it doesn't run off with some adorable moppet whose stopped to watch the show.

Jimmy Olsen. Co-Feature. Action Comics.

If you didn't guess by the name of this blog and the picture of the cub reporter above, around these parts, we're fans of Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen.

Jimmy is one of the weirdest characters in comics, who too many comic writers and creators have chosen to ignore over the past two or three decades (but you have to give Grant Morrison credit for his dead on, amazingly modern take on Jimmy in "All Star Superman"). He had his own series for years, starred in the TV series, has appeared in every Superman movie (and Supergirl), but the characters has largely been forgotten by the public at large.

Comic geeks somehow seem to find Jimmy one way or another, usually by stumbling across the imaginative and bizarre covers to Jimmy Olsen comics.

But now, DC is giving Jimmy a spotlight once again. Monday, DC announced that Jimmy will be receiving a back-up feature in Action Comics. And it sounds like the writer is staying true to the character.

As if you didn't have a reason to pick up Action Comics, already.

I don't say this often, because I don't feel envious of other people that often, but I am immensely jealous of writer Nick Spencer.

He also fought alongside Don Rickles. Yes, I totally own this issue.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

That's a Lot of Robert Shaw: Black Sunday, Pelham 1-2-3 and the 70's

So, I accidentally went to go see Black Sunday on... Sunday.

Or it could be exactly right now, when I think I'm about to watch "Giant".

And this evening headed back to the Paramount to see The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3.

These guys who dress like your PeePaw? Armed hostage takers.

Both films star Robert Shaw, one of those actors people say great things about, but I think I'd previously only ever seen as Quint in Jaws (one of the best movies, ever. Yes it is. Shut up.). He's great in both as two very different characters. And I can't believe someone decided to replace the guy with Travolta in last year's remake (which I didn't see).

Look, I really wish I liked more new movies, but looking at this summer's offerings, "Iron Man", "Toy Story 3" and "Inception" are about it for me. That's 2 sequels (one of which is based on a 50-year-old property), and one by Nolan, who had me at Memento. But then I read this...

Richard Donner’s original Superman heavily influenced Nolan during the production of Batman Begins: “I literally pitched the studio my take on Batman by saying I wanted to make the Batman film that had never been made in 1978 or 1979.” He was taken by the notion of “an extraordinary hero in an ordinary world.”

Of course, any geek who went through film school recognizes 70's-era film making for being a watershed era in film making. Sure, much of it was low-budget, but the studios were losing so much market share to television and, I guess, 8-tracks and people caring for their pet rocks, that they started just letting the wild-eyed beatniks in their midst run around and make some pretty darn great movies.

I mean, no, they didn't create something as great as G-Force, but...

The 70's gave us The Godather, Star Wars, The Deer Hunter, Annie Hall, All the President's Men, Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now and dozens and dozens of other influential movies. It gave us a naturalistic style to movies, more organic storytelling, tougher material and Pam Grier.

women like Ms. Grier are into tubby comic geeks, right?

Anyway, that's not to say that the 70's wasn't laden with awfulness, too. For every "Godfather Part II" there were 4 "Xanadu" clones, 6 hacky slasher movies, 4 movies about "feelings" or some junk, and 3 movies about people driving around in Southern California doubling for a drive across America, and wearing ugly pants.

However, I live in the future, where we've weeded out the crummy 70's movies, and I don't have to watch them (don't have to, but it happens, anyway). It's sort of how... when I was in film school and some turtle-neck wearing jerk would lament that everything they made in France was sooooo much better than American film, I would ask them if they really thought we were getting the French equivalent of Major Payne imported stateside (because the French are idiots, too, and somehow that means they're making their own "Major Payne").

Anyhow, The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 is a movie that's been imitated endlessly at this point, but you can't help but appreciate how well cast they made the movie, how New York feels like a lived in place, and that at no point do we get bogged down in some subplot about any character's children, romance, etc... There's more than enough story there without Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock falling in love during the disaster.

Plus, you have to love Walter Matthau.

Black Sunday still works, and will feel relevant until, I suppose, we have peace in the Middle East and we quit worrying about domestic terrorism (and Bruce Dern).

I'd say the mvoie could handle a remake, but a remake would wind up starring Shia LeBouf as the war-weary Israeli soldier. And the fact that anyone is willing to hire Shia LeBouf, and put millions of dollars behind LeBouf, and count on the fact that millions of people want to watch LeBouf for two hours at a time... that is exactly why most movies fail.

That said, I think we're due for another wave of new and better stuff. This summer's offerings have been, frankly, disappointing. The past year had little to offer that didn't have the word "Twilight" in the title. I hear from Troubles, who knows these things, that the box office is having a tough time of it this summer (Iron Man 2 has done okay at $230 million or so, but that's a far cry from Batman's $1 billion).

When the studio execs quit trying to throw the same junk at the wall and essentially give up on what they know and let young producers risking their skin to make it big try new things, as they did in the 70's (and to an extent, in the 1990's), the pay off is generally in folks taking the creative chances that can payoff in better movies.

Unfortunately, someone has to tell Hollywood that "we're releasing it in 3D!" is not making new and better product, per se. And that I now have 1500 channels.

In the meantime, I will keep spending my clams at The Paramount and watching movies that came out before I was born.

Cinema Series: So... Giant is next weekend...

I am bad at stuff.

I went solo to go see "Giant" today at the Paramount, a film I've been looking forward to since the release of the schedule. I had my Diet Coke in hand, a small popcorn, a box of Milkduds, and a great seat in the balcony. Anyone could see I was ready for an epic Western to unspool before me.

Anyhow, the movie began with a car driving down a road and titles informing me this was Beirut, sometime on November. So, for a full minute, I had the bizarre experience of having absolutely no idea what movie I was watching, but I'd paid $5 to see it.

Turns out, "Giant" is showing next weekend. "Black Sunday" was showing today. Good movie, it turns out. Frankenheimer at his Frankenheimeriest.

The lesson we can all learn here? Don't let Bruce Dern pilot a blimp. Which I sort of knew, already.

So, I am trying to figure out, what with Father's Day next weekend, if I can pull off going to see "Giant."