Saturday, July 23, 2011

Noir Watch: Angel Face (1952)

Angel Face was released in 1952, directed and produced by Otto Preminger (Anatomy of a Murder, Laura) and stars Jean Simmons (Spartacus, Guys and Dolls) and Robert "I guess I'll be in it" Mitchum (oh, geez. What hasn't he been in?).

Its a tidy little movie, interesting mostly in that it makes a few choices that bust the mold for the movies of the era and for those of us who with expectations from reading Chandler or Hammett.

Let's agree we're going to think before we use the term "Twilight-y" or "Twi-Lighty"

Let's start with the notion that we all hate the 4-novel/ 5-movie cycle of "vampire" tales of Stephanie Meyer. And, people, having now seen the first three of those movies (with the support of wine and RiffTrax), I can confirm that there is no small amount to hate.

gah.  these two.

We've previously covered the deep seeded issues we had with Twilight
, but as a quick re-cap:

  • Bella is our focus.  Over three movies her character utterly fails to develop or even deliver dialog.  There is nothing remotely unique or interesting about her except that supernatural creatures seem to give a great big 'ol damn about her, but cannot explain why.
  • Edward is written as a psychotic stalker, but in the context of the movies, this is played up as desirable and sexy.  He does mope in expensive clothes and drive an expensive car and have a surrogate huge (vampire) family that all love Bella.
  • There's some werewolf kid who the female audience loves because of his abs and dopey, blank stares who also pines for Bella.  His entire storyline seems like a C-plot thread that somehow stole focus completely from anything actually happening.
  • Having had seen 3 Twilight movies, I cannot tell you what they are about other than that "bad" vampires want to kill Bella for inexplicable reasons, and that everyone is willing to die to protect her.
  • The movies are comprised about 60% of filler material of characters standing around having "emotional" scenes wherein the plot is not moved forward, the characters do not advance, and everyone feels badly.
However, in the past year, an interesting phenomena has occurred.  Superhero media featuring youngish men dressing like youngish men and going through fairly standard melodrama are getting the label of "Twilight-y" affixed to them in media commentary.  And it is not meant as a compliment.


Comic-Con Spider-Man fan makes me want to totally see "The Amazing Spider-Man"

from Bleeding Cool

WB moves release date for the new Superman film

This pops up all over the comics interwebs, but the basic story is that Warner Bros. has decided to move back the release date for The Man of Steel from December of 2012 (about 1.5 years from now) to summer of 2013.

Here is an example of coverage.

If I had to guess?

A few things could be at play.

  • Christmas 2012 is starting to look crowded, and there's not enough room to give Superman its own weekend
  • Green Lantern refused to move its date, and post-production may have suffered.  I'm not talking just FX (most of which were fine), but the story-telling that happens during editing a film.  And giving everyone more room to breathe may be seen as a valuable move
  • There is a possibility WB is re-thinking parts of the movie and needs the time, but...  I don't have any reason to think that at the moment, but it happens all the time and its not that big of a deal for a $250 million movie.  I'd like to think they thought about what they were doing before they started.

So, we'll see what happens next, but 2 years away is a really long ways a way.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Norway, Debt Ceiling

I am absolutely shocked to hear about the violence which broke out in Norway today. As of this writing the press is saying that more than 80 people have died in two blasts (miles apart) and a shooting rampage. At this time neither The New York Times nor the Times of London have repeated the story, but CNN is stating as many as 87 have died.

news article here

I have nothing to add at this time other than to quote from the CNN article:

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was not in his office at the time of the blast and was not hurt, officials said.

Afterward, he had a message to whoever may have been responsible: "You won't destroy us," he said. "You won't destroy our democracy. We are a small but proud nation. No one can bomb us to silence. No one can scare us from being Norway. This evening and tonight, we'll take care of each other. That's what we do best when attacked."

Let's all take a minute to think of Norway today, please.

Debt Ceiling

I do not pretend to understand the economics or politics of the debt ceiling issue entirely, other than to note that I am watching to see what sort of moment in history our elected officials choose to engage in.

History teaches us many things, mainly about how what we do today will be written about tomorrow. Let us hope that wisdom trumps egos and that politics and posturing do not mean we accidentally end modern civilization.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

new "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" footage looks promising

I can't help but wonder - can movie audiences deal with a movie that is science fiction but not necessarily an action movie?

This clip looks very promising when you consider the themes of the Planet of the Apes movies.

Superman in the DCNu Relaunch - the press blitz, DC's bad copy and the internet reaction are wearing me out

When I saw the cover to Action Comics #1 (2011) I assumed it was a figurative cover, suggesting that Grant Morrison was taking Superman back to his earliest roots as the son of working class people who comes to the big city and fights corruption and crime in an over-the-top, two-fisted manner, siding with the little guy and duking it our with landlords and corrupt arms manufacturers rather than rogue robots or some nefarious alien menace.

The jeans, the t-shirt... it all seemed fairly symbolic of (and this will drive some of our readership crazy, but...) the "worker" Superman, the champion of the oppressed that populist-thinking kids in the 1930's saw able to right wrongs that couldn't be dealt with by a mortal man.  Superman was an avatar of justice in a world where most people were powerless against the machinations of class, money, politics and the unstoppable threat some bad men could become simply by wielding a gun.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Signal Watch Reads: Power Lunch (by J. Torres and Dean Trippe)

Power Lunch
First Course
by J. Torres & Dean Trippe
lettered by Ed Brisson
designed by Keith Wood
edited by James Lucas Jones

So, one tough thing about running a comics blog is that sometimes we are asked to preview materials and write a review.  And sometimes we read something and we try to be as fair as possible, even when we know that the item we're reviewing isn't something we'd normally read because of genre, topic, etc...  or worse, sometimes its something we didn't like.

I'm happy to say that I just don't have that problem here in any way, shape or form. I just straight up dug this fun, well written, well designed/ drawn all-ages book. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Giant Eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg

I have very few memories of reading The Great Gatsby in high school.  Well, not exactly.  I have several flashes of memory of reading The Great Gatsby.

  1. I remember finding all of the characters insufferable except Jay Gatsby, which I guess is correct.  But at the time, it made turning every page feel like I was lifting a 200 lb. steel plate.
  2. I remember the book was a slim volume, but we spent weeks deciphering it like it was a set of clues as if we were our own little symbologists uncovering a Dan Brown "mystery".  
  3. I don't remember a lot of hand waving about the "examination of the American Dream", but nobody telling me what the hell that actually meant.
  4. I was somewhat obsessed with the Giant Eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg because my instructor and my CliffsNotes were also obsessed with the Giant eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg.  
  5. We had to do some sort of class project, and ours was a skit in which we re-enacted the fatal car crash.  I was very proud of the "Dr. T.J. Eckleburg" sign I'd made with Sharpies on poster board for set decoration. I also played Gatsby, I believe.  
  6. By the time I decided to give the book another go, I had no memory of it save for
    1. The green light at Daisy's dock and Jay reaching out toward it in the darkness
    2. Somebody was hit by a car
    3. The Giant Eyes of Dr. TJ Eckleburg

Monday, July 18, 2011

ComicCon is coming (and I have to wonder if it isn't doing more harm than good)

This week ComicCon International will commence in San Diego (formerly the San Diego Comic Con - hence the adherence to SDCC in the interwebs).  Its the annual bacchanalia of all things geek-oriented which has become a darling for mainstream media coverage and seemingly part of the anti-life equation the entertainment industry and press constantly seeks that will unlock the key to eternal profitability with a minimum of effort.

If you had told me in 2001 that by 2011, ComicCon would become a well-known entity that draws a modicum of respect from both regular press and the entertainment industry, I would have slapped you and called you out for the liar you are.  But today, ComicCon has apparently swollen to over 100,000 attendees of all stripes, and by-passed comics to draw movies, TV and other sci-fi and fantasy media.  If you're reading this site, you probably didn't need to be told all that, but nobody ever accused me of under-writing.

I was actually standing in the convention center this winter when I realized I was at the building that houses SDCC when I visited San Diego for a library conference* and noted that the SD Convention Center is actually a fairly small affair as Convention Centers go, especially in comparison to the mammoth halls of Vegas or even Houston or Austin.  Not that SDCC needs to grow, but when you think about the impact we all know SDCC has on the comics biz...  the size of the building tells us how small that business really is and that maybe its still a somewhat small affair in comparison to other industry conventions.

But sometimes I wonder if ComicCon isn't doing the industry and comics a bit of damage.

Weekend Round-Up: Soccer, Potter, More Potter and Not Much Else

In our household, Jamie is the Harry Potter nut.  I don't dislike Harry, but, as we recently discussed, I have questions.  Lots and lots of questions.

Knowing that Saturday night I would be homebound and watching watching Harry Potter and that Sunday I'd be down at the Alamo watching yet more Potter, on Friday I rounded up some pals and we hit The Crow Bar down on South Congress.  Its not bad, but my expectations of bars are very, very low.  Frankly, the nicer the bar, the more I do not want to be there.  It may shock you, but The League is not much of "see and be seen" sort of fellow, and prefers functionality in his nightlife.  I would rather drink with hobos down by the river than go to, say, Qua, the club that just makes me want to punch somebody.*