Saturday, January 31, 2015

Dan Aykroyd Double Bill: SW Watches "Ghostbusters" and "Trading Places"

With the announcement of the upcoming relaunch of Ghostbusters, I had the movie on my brain.  So when it showed up on Bravo last night after Captain America ended (and it seemed Bravo was playing Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2 over and over last night), I tuned in.

There's nothing new to say about the movie at this point, and I kind of feel like any discussion of the movie needs to be refereed by or deferred to Stuart, our resident Ghostbusters nut.

This does give me an opportunity to say that I really like the four announced stars of the Ghostbusters reboot, and I hope the movie does them justice.  But I also hope it's a complete reboot, keeping mostly the concept of a for-profit ghost hunting venture and then paving their own way.  Making the same movie over sounds tedious at best, and the best way to keep us Ghostbusters fans happy is not to just remind us "this is the same but different" with, I dunno, a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man who is a cowboy instead of a sailor.

There's also been the spate of Ghost Hunters-type TV shows that Leslie Jones, herself, has spoofed on SNL that I think would make a welcome launch pad for a different take on the concept.*

And, because it's the weeked and I still have basic cable, I watched the 1983 Eddie Murphy/ Dan Aykroyd/ Jamie Lee Curtis movie, Trading Places this morning for absolutely no reason.  I think there's a rule that all of us have to watch this movie every 3 years or the Elder Gods will return, or something.

I also had the stray thought watching the movie this time that Trading Places could make for a pretty good Broadway Musical, if you got the right music.  It has a ludicrous set-up, unlikely romance, stereotypes interacting, and a pretty simple structure.

Call me, Broadway Producers.  I'm here to help you make money.  I'll also share my thoughts on Police Academy IV with you.

*Buddy Matt and I had an idea for a show called "Ghost C.O.P's." we wanted to do as a web video, but we got lazy and never did it, and I've always been sad about that.  C.O.P's, of course, stood for "Challengers of the Paranormals".  Trust me, it was really, really good.**

**this may or may not be true

SW Watches: Captain America (2011)

It had been a while since we watched 2011's Captain America (or, Captain America: The First Avenger, if you want to get fancy).  I mean, not that long a while, but we kind of forgot to watch it to get prepped for Agent Carter, which, it seems, people aren't watching in significant numbers.

Which... what are you people doing out there?  Stop watching CSI.

If you saw Captain America 2 this summer, the difference between the two movies is certainly striking.  One a warm-hearted nostalgic superhero romp in a world of skeleton-faced villains and good guys on one side and bad guys in black jodhpurs.  Heck, it's got a musical number.  And, of course, Cap 2 being all about the excesses and compromised values of shadow wars and secret power grabs.

I don't have much to add.  You guys know I'm in the bag for the Cap movies.

I'm still glad Marvel didn't see any reason they needed to make Cap edgy or extreme or whatever.  Even in the context of our throwback-nostalgic-era of the movie which people still like to think of in Capra-esque terms, and which the movie plays to, Steve is the idealist to the point of getting beat up on the regular for standing up for himself and for pushing back against bullies.  That adherence to ideals is refreshing not just in this movie, but puts Rogers on a whole other level, giving his allies something to cling to in the storm in the sequel.  It would have been great to see a bit more of Steve Rogers as baritone voiced leader and less as buddy-calling-on-his-friends in the first installment, because I think that informed a bit about how Cap was made the hapless straightman a bit in Avengers.   But Cap 2 certainly took a different tack on that, and I expect something different in the coming Avengers sequel.

And, of course, the movie introduced us to Agent Carter played by Haley Atwell, and that is a very good thing.

Friday, January 30, 2015

SW Reads: Mystic River

blogger's note:  For some reason, this post gets a lot of traffic.  Can someone tell me how you got to this page?  I find the hit count on this post perplexing.

I just finished the audiobook of the Dennis Lehane novel Mystic River, the basis for the 2003 film which drew plum nominations and won a few Academy Awards (and which earned a bucketload of other awards).

Frankly, I never saw the movie, and I really had no idea what either the book or movie were about.  No, I have no recollection of 2003 and what I was doing.  Working, I guess.

There's a guy who works security sometimes in the building where I show up every day, and I think his story is that he does security as his day job (because he can sit there and read), and he goes home and works on his own crime novels.  I admire the hell out of that, and he recommended the book to me about two years ago, and so I finally got around to reading/ listening to Mystic River this year.

Audiobooks are a strange experience.  You're dealing with an actor's interpretation of how this should be read, and sometimes I just feel like maybe the reader missed the mark.  And, this may have been one of those times.  I think he went for "overwrought" and melodramatic when, maybe, he could have pulled it back a bit for a different impact.  I believe I listened to Scott Brick, who also read The Devil in the White City, which I listened to last year, and which I felt was fine, if memory serves.  But this book required a lot more acting and interpretation.

I don't know how I felt about the book.  I guess I'm a little surprised this particular story was thought of so well as to earn Oscar nominations, so I'd like to see the movie soon to see how it worked as Oscar bair.  And it certainly is not the first time a book that maybe wasn't the most inspiring source material worked stunningly well as a movie.  This was certainly nowhere near my favorite book, but what it did, it did well.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Season 3 of The Americans

The Americans returned for its third season Wednesday evening, and it prompted the following thoughts:

  • When they say there will be nudity, adult themes, sexual situations and violence, The Americans is not afraid to double down on that @#$%.
  • Oh, Keri Russell, you are the kind of the semi-sociopathic Russian sleeper agent men dream of
  • Being a spy is a complicated, complicated lifestyle
  • This show is so stunningly on-point with drawing comparisons to then and now, it's sometimes embarrassing to watch

SW Watches: Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Man, I have no idea how I never saw this movie.  I remember renting it at least once back in the dark ages when you had to return a movie in 48 hours, and then sometimes you'd get home with it and some friend would be all like "Hey, we're gonna go to Slippy Village for a super rad time!" and by the time you recovered from that journey, all you had time to do was return the videotape.

Anyway - this movie was @#$%ing awesome.  I am not sure it would have been this much in my wheelhouse back in college, but these days, it's absolutely the kind of thing I totally dig.  Super taut thriller with a dude in way over his head, and starring actors I can take seriously?  Sign me up.


Holy cats!  Variety reports the upcoming Supergirl show will include Jimmy Olsen!

So, who is Mehcad Brooks?  Is he Jimmy Olsen material?

Well, according to IMDB, Mehcad is from AUSTIN, TEXAS, so, how could I NOT pull for this guy?

Now let's see how he looks in a bow tie and sweater vest.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

This Fant4stic 4 Trailer is in no way exciting

I confess I hoped Fox would embrace the Kirby-ness of the FF, but, instead, they clearly translated this from Ultimate FF, a comic nobody ever cared about and I wouldn't recommend.

Maybe the next trailer will knock my socks off, but this looks as lackluster as the last two FF movies.  Which, wow, that's actually kind of hard to do.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Answering Questions - The Picky Girl asks Where One Should Start When it Comes to Comics

Picky Girl placed the following in the comment box

Ok, I have a question. So I was not a comics girl growing up. I read a ton - and a lot of stuff that was probably way above my head - but the only comics I ever came in contact with were Archie and Veronica at my grandmother's house (in the bathroom...).

In college, a prof handed me Watchmen, and I loved it. I read some graphic novels and did a lot of reading about comics and the superhero, but when it came to comics, I never knew where to begin. There are so many iterations that I don't know where to begin. Any suggestions?

I'll go ahead and ask my fellow comics dorks to weigh in down in the comment section.  I know you've got your opinions, and my suggestions are just that.  They're just some suggestions by me.  So, chime in, buddies.

First of all, I think if you get down to it, a lot of people had their first and often their last exposure to comics through Archie Comics.  There's a reason everyone over a certain age recognizes Archie and Jughead, and enough people are aware of the Archie-Veronica-Betty love triangle so that you can use it as cultural shorthand.

I'm one of those kids, too.  I have a warm spot in my heart for Archie, even if I can't imagine how one remains a lifelong reader, but people do that, and that's kind of cool.

yeah.  every high school guy has two girlfriends who are cool with this situation.

Back in the 90's, you got to ride the wave of 1980's envelope-pushing comics and academics for whom bringing in anything on the edge of culture to teach was kind of a novel thing.  Watchmen has sold a lot of copies to kids taking a blow-off course where they could read comics, but it earned its rep as one of the very, very few comics that reads like a sprawling novel and talks to an audience of people who also read Thomas Wolfe.  I cannot stress how rare this is in capes and tights comics.  Less so in other genres of comic.

The 1970's brought in the first writers that wanted to push beyond kiddie-stuff and you wound up with Green Arrow seeing his ward shooting up smack (no lie!), but it still read as a 22-page adventure with only loose tethers to the past and future.  And, 95% of the time when comics think they're writing for adults or to make a point, it's still basically Speedy doing smack.

First it's comics, then you smoke one rock of pot, and then wham-o!  You've riding the white pony and defending Jethro Tull in public.

Almost nothing in capes and tights before or after Watchmen is Watchmen, and I've written extensively about how comics have learned all the wrong lessons from a superhero comic that wrote up to a literate audience.  We can cover that again some other time, and surely will, but that wasn't really your question.  What I'm doing here is: expectation setting.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Single Question Posed is Answered - Star Wars or Star Trek?

Gerry asks:

Not sure if you've ever come out on either side of this, but the public demands an answer: Star Wars or Star Trek?
The short answer is:  Planet of the Apes.

pew pew pew!

The real answer is - I grew up loving both, and never understood why I had to pick one over the other.  To me, that was sort of like picking Dragonslayer over The Secret of NIMH.  I kind of felt they were two different animals (one is fantasy, one is space adventure) and I could enjoy both, but I do get that it's like the need to pick either DC or Marvel and then go online and defend your stance from a religious perspective.  It's the internet.  You want to feel that there's logic to your gut feeling.

In my youth, Star Wars certainly got a lot of extra weight as it was the franchise that was being merchandised like crazy.  I never had any official Star Trek stuff until college, I think, when Jamie's Dad got me a Next Generation badge for Christmas (I was touched).

But let's not take any short cuts.  Let's take a really, really long look at this, shall we?