Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Site maintenance: exciting!

Just a quick note to keep any (mythical) regular readers updated: I've added a new section on the sidebar: Webcomics! These are the ones I read regularly, and if I find others to read (suggestions welcome!) I'll put them on there. Also, I added a link in the External Pages section to a page that lists all the DVD's in my collection, so you can check that out if you want.

(By the way, don't suggest Achewood. I don't get the appeal of that one. Slightly funny crudity + not-very-good art != hilarity, in my opinion. But to each his own.)

Also, if you haven't noticed, I update the other sections of the sidebar on a daily basis, if not more often. That includes any movies I watch, what I'm currently reading, video games I'm playing, whatever I feel like putting on my wish list, any blogs I think are worth linking to, and the blogs of any creators that I like, as I discover them. Any questions you have about my additions are welcome, and if you want to hear my opinion on any books or comics I've read or movies I've watched (or whatever else you feel like), please let me know, and I'll post about them. Really, I'm like a trained monkey that way.
-----

I plan to have another review up tomorrow of a book/comic I just finished reading, so stay tuned!

Comics on the web

They should come up with a term for those...

Anyway, I want to point out an excellent webcomic I "discovered" (I actually read a review at The Ferret's Journal). It's called Minus, and it's about a little girl with magic(?) reality-altering powers. It's exquisitely-drawn, beautifully colored with watercolors, and formatted similar to old full-page newspaper strips. I love the way the artist brings out Minus's imagination, with her using her powers to bring everyday objects to life, create cool creatures, and send herself and her friends on wild adventures. I'm reading through the archives now, but I had to blog about it. Here are a few of my favorite strips so far:

Battling chalk drawings.

Interior decoration.

Elephant.

Cupid.

There's also some longer storylines, one of which deals with Minus and a friend shrinking down and becoming the leaders of an ant society. In fact, the first strip in this story gives us my current favorite comics panel:



Man, I change these quickly sometimes, don't I? Anyway, check out Minus; it's awesome.
-----

UPDATE: More Minus strips that I like:

Extendable brick wall. This one starts a weird storyline that I don't really understand.

Suicide is painless.

Shades of FLCL.

If Sonny chiba was a boxer.

Scary magic.

Dinosaur rampage!

Aquarium people.

Trying my hand at lame comedy

My first attempt at one of these "fill in the word balloon" memes:




This is for Chris Sims.

UPDATE: Okay, I feel dumb. Those are manacles, not bracelets. Oh well.

UPDATE 2: I decided to do another one:




Does anybody get the reference? Anyone? (cue crickets)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

100th post spectacular! Wherein I look at artcomix and such

That's right, according to Blogger, this is the 100th post on the blog. Of course, that includes "inventory" posts devoid of content, but who's checking? Not me! Being a comic fan, you have to celebrate multiples of 100; it's a rule. Actually, I could celebrate an "anniversary" every multiple of 25, but I'm not that meticulous.



Anyway, I'm looking at some artcomix (is that an annoying term? If so, sorry.), inspired by my recent reading of An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, & True Stories, which came out last fall. I also recently read (and sort of reviewed) The Best American Comics 2006, which I would have included here, but my wife took it back to the library. So I'll stick to the Anthology, although if I get on a roll I might break out my copy of McSweeney's #13, or maybe some Chris Ware or Daniel Clowes books. We'll see.

I'll try to stay positive here, looking at the stuff I like, but if I find something especially distasteful, I might not be able to contain the bile. First up: Maakies! I've never been a huge fan of Tony Millionaire, although I generally find his art appealingly grotesque. However, the few strips in this volume may have swayed me, with their offensive but hilarious humor. I like the way he emulates old newspaper strips, complete with goofy jokes in a tiny secondary strip at the bottom of the main strip. I might have to check out a collection of Maakies, or possibly Billy Hazelnuts. Here's my favorite strip from this collection (click to enlarge, or it won't be readable):



There's a Charles Schulz tribute section, mostly collecting stuff that I assume was done around the time of his death, along with a 1959 essay by Schulz called "Developing a Comic Strip". I especially like Art Spiegelman's and Chris Ware's entries; they both ape Schulz's style and iconography very well in tribute to the master. There's also a hilarious set of strips by R. Sikoryak called "Good Ol' Gregor Brown", which retells Kafka's The Metamorphosis as a series of Peanuts strips. It's awesome:



Peter Bagge has an enjoyable excerpt from Oedipus Junior. I kind of like Bagge; his cartoony characters are very expressive. This excerpt is only four pages, but it's a pretty funny story about the titular Junior (I assume) drawing a picture of a naked woman and then being ashamed of himself. We've all been there, Ed!

One of my favorite stories (if you can call it that) is "Here" by Richard McGuire, whose name I realize I don't recognize. Does anybody have any information about him? Anyway, it takes place in a single room, but we get glimpses of events that took place in the room in many different time periods, including some from before the house was built and the land was wilderness or farmland, as well as some from the future after the house has burned down and been destroyed. Some panels depict a single scene, while others have other squares inset in them showing events from a different time period; each of the panels or insets is labeled with the year of its origin.



It's a very affecting look at all the generations of people who inhabit the same space. I like it a lot, and I'll have to look for other stuff by McGuire.

Okay, time for some negativity. Can somebody explain to me what is supposed to be the appeal of Gary Panter's Jimbo stories? There's an excerpt from Jimbo in Purgatory here, and frankly, I find it impenetrable. I can understand the appeal of the design work Panter does; these pages are laid out very uniquely, but what the hell is supposed to be going on? The loincloth-clad Jimbo seems to be wandering through Purgatory and quoting from Dante (I assume, I've never read any of his stuff), although the text in the balloons is not exactly easy to read. Plus, I think there are other characters accompanying him, one of whom appears to be a Fryguy. I don't get it, and I probably don't want to.

Okay, back to the positives. We've got an excerpt from Charles Burns's Curse of the Molemen, and it looks pretty good. I've read Black Hole, which was great, so I might have to check this out. It's very creepy, with a weird-looking kid being interested in the apparent excavation of his neighbor's back yard. It seems the neighbor is looking for treasure in the guise of digging a swimming pool, but the kid sees a freaky creature crawl out of the hole at night. His parents don't believe him, and I'll have to get the book sometime to find out what happens next. I really dig Burns's art; it's heavy with shadows, and his realistic depiction of "normal" people really brings out the freakish look of the weirder characters. Good stuff.




Then we have "Young Ledicker", by Kim Deitch. I believe this is part of his new book Shadowland, which I will definitely have to read. The story here concerns young Al Ledicker, a kid with clown makeup who works in his father's dime museum. His father is working on a rain-making machine that he's trying to sell to the mayor. As the story proceeds, prostitutes, midgets, political corruption, and sexually-transmitted disease all enter the mix. It's pretty crazy.



Apparently, Shadowland details the life of Ledicker, and he's a nasty, mean guy. I can't wait to read it.

We've got an excerpt from The Golem's Mighty Swing, by James Sturm. I haven't read this, but I've heard it's good. It sure looks nice; I dig Sturm's clean art style:



There's an excerpt from Sammy Harkham's Somersaulting in here. I don't know if I've read anything by him; I think I've seen some of his art and liked it, but this doesn't really appeal to me. The characters are kind of lumpy. I'll have to check out something else he's done.

Next: an excerpt from Hawaiian Getaway by Adrian Tomine. I like Tomine, but man, his stuff can be depressing. But in a funny way:



I have a few issues of Optic Nerve, and they're pretty much like this. That's all I have to say.

Next we have a couple stories from the Hernandez brothers. "A Little Story", by Gilbert, is a cute story about kids in a Mexican town. I assume it's from his "Palomar" cycle. I really need to get that.



"Flies on the Ceiling" by Jaime, is a creepy, surreal story about a woman fleeing her past after she had an abortion, I think. It's kind of hard to tell (or maybe I'm dense). He's a master of his style of art, and he really communicates the troubled nature of her thoughts.



Both these stories are from the 80's; I assume they were originally published in Love and Rockets. Man, I can't wait to get the collections of those.

I haven't read much of Joe Matt's stuff, and I don't especially like what I've read, but I think I understand the appeal. There's an excerpt from The Poor Bastard here, and it's a good illustration of his talents:




He's a really good cartoonist, clearly expressing his characters' emotions. And he's pretty funny, especially when he's making himself look bad. Which is pretty much every panel. He's just such an unpleasant person to spend time with, I don't really want to read very much of his stuff. Short excerpts in anthologies like this are just about enough for me.

Another cartoonist whose work doesn't grab me: Seth. Not that I dislike it or anything, but there's not much to it that makes me want to read more of his stuff. I've read some good reviews of Wimbledon Green, so I might check that one out, but the excerpt of It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken in this book is kind of boring. It follows a guy (salesman?) walking around a small town with a briefcase and thinking thoughts. Yawn. The best part is when he stops to observe a kid who is acting out a parade along with his (the kid's) dog. I liked that bit. Oh well, maybe someday I'll read something by him that I really like.

Dammit, I'm trying to be positive in this review, but here's another slightly negative comment: I'm not especially enamored with Jeffrey Brown. He seems to specialize in whiny autobiographical strips about his relationships. The ones here (excerpted from Clumsy) are cute and kind of funny, but mostly boring. Maybe it's his art style that I don't like; it seems kind of rough and amateurish to me.



Okay, a more positive note: I didn't especially like the excerpt from John Porcellino' Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man in The Best American Comics 2006, but there's an excerpt here from King-Cat No. 63 that I do like, for the most part. It's autobiographical, and simply illustrated, but there's something about the way Porcellino renders it that grabs me. A short bit about his drinking "career" and a story about various barbers he has frequented were interesting and enjoyable. I dunno, it seems autobio comics have a thin line to walk, both with art and writing. Make it interesting and fairly fast-paced, but don't give too many details; other people probably won't find every aspect of your life interesting. And art-wise, well, that's harder to say. Be clear with your intent; don't make people guess at what you're trying to convey. Who knows, I might be off base here, but this is what makes autobio comics interesting to me. Anyway, here's an example of Porcellino's work:



Jonathan Bennett was another guy from Best American Comics that I sort of liked, but not completely. This book reprints Torrential, which appears to be a minicomic of his. It's pretty good, a short story about coming home from a rainstorm and being annoyed by his neighbors. Short but sweet. Here's a panel I love, where he takes refuge from his neighbors' loud argument beneath a pile of couch pillows:



Another guy from Best American Comics: David Heatley! He has a short comic here called "Northern California", which is an adaptation of a dream he had. It's interesting, but I liked his "Portrait of My Dad" much better. That's all I have to say.

Gabrielle Bell (whose Lucky I recently reviewed) has a short comic here called "Cecil and Jordan in New York". It's not bad, but the most notable thing for me was the use of color, since I had only seen her work in black and white. It's a nice touch.



Oh, and I liked the surreal ending to this strip. She's one to watch.

I'm still trying to gain some appreciation for Kevin Huizenga, but the comic he has here (an excerpt from "The Sunset") isn't helping. It's got some crazy energy, but I have no idea what's going on or what it's supposed to mean.

"Black Cherry" by Michael Dougan is a short story about working at an ice cream parlor and dealing with the eccentric customers who frequent the establishment, specifically a weird guy who always orders a black cherry soda. It's interesting and evocative, ending on a sad, melancholy note. I'll have to look for more stuff by Dougan.

Okay, we're getting close to the end of the book, and here's the really good stuff! We've got six stories by R. Crumb, with two being written by Harvey Pekar. I haven't read a whole lot of Crumb's comics, but after this I really want to check more of his stuff out. We've got the wordless "A Short History of America" (which I almost won in poster form on Ebay once!), which is excellent. Then there's "Uncle Bob's Mid-Life Crisis", in which Crumb freaks out when a fan sends him a checklist of every work he's ever done. Very funny; here's a great panel where he tries to gain some peace through meditation:



It doesn't work though; all he can think about is sex. That comic is followed by "Jelly Roll Morton's Voodoo Curse", a story about an influential band leader from the 20's whose life is ruined by a voodoo curse which may or may not all be in his mind. Very interesting, with some great art; he's good at varying his style to suit the mood of the story. Here's a panel I love of Morton's first wife pausing while talking about his death:



God, I love that drawing. In fact, I'm going to name it my current favorite comics panel. The next story is a hilarious rant called "Where Has It Gone, All the Beautiful Music of Our Grandparents?" In typical old-guy fashion, Crumb rails against the terrible music produced today (that is, in the early 80's when he drew this). He even gives a history of folk music, from the caveman days to the early 20th century. He seems to think that recording killed music, even though he loves listening to old records. It's a hilarious story; I love his exaggerated, cartoony illustrations. Here he is telling us what's what:



"Lunch with Carmella" is a Pekar-written story in which Harv tells a coworker about a crazy lady that used to work there. It's a funny, low-key tale (does Pekar ever tell any other kind?). Finally, Pekar writes "Hypothetical Quandary", in which he imagines getting rich and being able to quit his job and write comics full-time. Check out this really cool panel:



Man, Crumb can draw. I changed my mind; this is my current favorite panel.

Okay, we're in the home stretch. Next, we've got an excerpt from Soba by Joe Sacco. I love Sacco; he's the preeminent comics journalist of our time. This is one of his stories from the Bosnia/Serbia/Yugoslavia conflict, and judging from this excerpt, it's excellent. The titular character is a planter of land mines by day, and a hard partier by night. This story follows him and a fellow soldier as they hit the nightclubs to dance, drink, and pick up women. I love the sense of energy that Sacco brings to the proceedings; these people feel like they could die any day, so they're trying to live as much as they can while they've got the time.



I haven't read nearly enough of Sacco's work; the only full-length comic of his I've read is The Fixer (which was excellent). I really need to check out Palestine and Safe Area Gorazde.

Next, we've got "The Ethel Catherwood Story" by David Collier, from his book Portraits From Life (which I might have to pick up if I get the chance). The story is an interview with Joe Griffiths, the man who discovered and trained the titular athlete, a Canadian high-jumper in the 20's. It's a fascinating story about Griffiths reading a story about Catherwood in the paper and realizing that she had tied the world record for the women's high jump. So he traveled to meet her and convinced her to compete in the national competition. She ended up going to the 1928 Olympics, winning the gold medal, becoming an international celebrity, and marrying a millionaire from San Francisco. It's a fascinating story, and Collier really captures the people with his art while still adding some cartoonish expressiveness. Check out this scene from when Griffiths first meets Catherwood:



I won't go into too much detail on the last two artists, because they're two of my favorites and I'll probably do some sort of retrospective for each of them sometime in the future. First, we have several stories by Chris Ware, who I think is possibly the greatest cartoonist ever. There's an amazing story about Scott Joplin, the "King of Ragtime"; an excerpt from Jimmy Corrigan; "Thrilling Adventure Stories", in which Ware draws a superhero story but fills in the captions and word balloons with his own remembrances of childhood; and an excerpt from Building Stories (which I think will be in the next issue of Acme Novelty Library). Great stuff.

Finally, we've got "Gynecology" by Daniel Clowes. It's about a young, misanthropic artist named Epps. Not my favorite of his works (that would be Ghost World or Ice Haven), but it's interesting. At least you get some classic Clowes scenes, like this one:



-----

So, that's it for this book. It's an excellent anthology, presenting a good view of alternative comics. Unfortunately, I only like about 50% of the comics within, but that's an anthology for you. Quite a few of the comics are twenty years old or more (there's even an extensive excerpt from Maus), but I guess we have the Best American series to keep us up with newer stuff. Overall, I would recommend it, but keep in mind that I read it for free (thanks, Sarah!).
-----

Whew! Okay, that's enough for me for today. I might be back tomorrow with more of my usual schtick, if I have the energy.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Miscellaneous!!!

I know it's "bad blogger form" to lump several different topics together in one post, but hopefully my reasons for doing this will be made clear in tomorrow's post. Until then...
-----

TV:

I watched the most recent episode of Battlestar Galactica (3.16) today, and it was a doozy. Or at least, for the type of episode it was, it was very good. We're coming up on the tail end of season 3, and while the show had been in a bit of a mid-season lull, the last few episodes have seen a real rise in quality. This episode raised, or at least expanded upon, an idea of class-consciousness in the fleet, with people from poorer colonies feeling that they were doing all the crappy jobs, while richer types from Caprica were living it up in positions of importance. Hmmm, replace "poorer colonies" with "flyover states", and you've got one of the show's patented metaphorical looks at current events! But even without that aspect, I find it fascinating that the show looks at the social issues that would naturally come up in a fleet that is scraping by with little resources while fleeing a threat. I'm also loving Baltar's new role as a Karl Marx figure, smuggling out propaganda about "the aristocracy" and "the working class" from his prison cell. Great stuff! Next week looks to bring Kara back into the spotlight, and hey, it might even deal with Cylons, who are, you know, the big villain, even though they haven't been seen for like five episodes. I'll be watching.
-----

Comics:



During the Oscars last night, I read the book Bardin the Superrealist, by Max, a Spanish cartoonist (I had to distract myself during all the speeches and boring stuff, or I would have torn my hair out). It's quite good, but really weird, with a lot of references to Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel. I would have scanned and posted some stuff, but my wife took it back to the library before I had the chance (by the way, I want to thank her for picking up a lot of the stuff I've been reading lately; she's great). My favorite strip was probably the one paying homage to Dali and Buñuel's Un chien andalou, specifically to the scene with the slashed eyeball (I haven't seen that film, but I've heard enough about it to know the infamous scene). It's a hilarious strip; I laughed out loud at a panel featuring a funeral procession composed of walking eyeballs. Funny stuff. I also liked the various stories about Bardin confronting a pantheon of gods, with the primary god taking the form of Mickey Mouse, except with eyeballs for his head and ears (which kind of reminds me of Grant Morrison's Mickey Eye). I didn't really understand that stuff, but it was cool anyway. So, recommended, although keep in mind that I read it for free.
-----

Video games:



Finally, I wanted to comment on a new video game I bought, God Hand. I had heard that, while not a great game, it was enjoyably demented, so I picked it up when I saw it for fairly cheap. The game concerns a character who, as you might guess from the title, has the hand of a god, which he uses to beat up a lot of punks. So far, there doesn't seem to be much more to it than that, but in my limited play I've already come across a few examples of insanity: a poison chihuahua (it's green, and, uh, poisonous), a "kick me" sign that the girl sidekick stuck to the main character's bakc, and a couple of bosses who are very flamingly gay. They look like characters from the infamous Cho Aniki series, wearing midriff-baring, feathered, bethonged wrestling singlets and shouting lisped insults at you, calling you things like "brokeback cowboy." Wow. That's the kind of stuff I came for! (pun not intended). I'll keep you up to date if there's anything else in the game worth mentioning.
-----

Okay, that's it for today. Stay tuned tomorrow for a "special" post!

Miniseries end, and I manage to save some money

New comics this week (Wednesday, 2/28/07):
CROSSING MIDNIGHT #4 (MR) $2.99
Well, like I said when I (sort of) reviewed the previous issue of this series, I might or might not get this. I want to like it, but it just isn't grabbing me. I think Ryan at Metamorphostuff nailed it when he said that the fantastic elements aren't illustrated fantastically enough. I'll take a look at it and then decide.
JACK OF FABLES #8 (MR) $2.99
More Jack in Vegas!
JACK OF FABLES VOL 1 NEARLY GREAT ESCAPE TP (MR) $14.99
If you haven't been reading this series, here's a great way to start!
JUSTICE #10 (OF 12) $3.50
I didn't have much interest in this series, but I flipped through the last issue and thought the spread of the heroes in their armor suits was hilariously, awesomely silly. Maybe I should be reading it after all. Well, it might be one to check out from the library.
DOCTOR STRANGE OATH #5 (OF 5) $2.99
Ooh, final issue! This series has been great. I vote for a Vaughan/Martin Dr. Strange ongoing!
ETERNALS #7 (OF 7) $3.99
Wow, this is finally ending, and (sort of) on time, too. I hope it's worth the wait and the extra issue.
RUNAWAYS #24 $2.99
Oh, man, it's Vaughan and Alphona's last issue. Should be great, and I hope they set up Whedon's run well. By the way, I love Vaughan's reason for leaving the book (I read it in an interview, but I don't remember where; if I find it, I'll edit in a link): he couldn't bear to end the series, so he's handing it off to another good writer and hoping it lives on. Good for you, BKV!
SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE #15 $2.99
Now we finally get to Miyazawa's last issue of this series. I'm not sure when Sean McKeever is leaving (he signed an exclusive contract with DC); I don't know if I'll want to read the series after that. Hell, I don't know if they'll keep the series going without him.
WISDOM #3 (OF 6) (MR) $3.99
Seriously, somebody convince me to buy this. Is it worth it? Tell me!
ACTION PHILOSOPHERS #8 SENSELESS VIOLENCE SPECTACULAR $2.95
Oh, hell yeah! I love this book. I think this is the penultimate issue. I'll be sad to see it end.
ASHLEY WOODS D AIRAIN AVENTURE #1 $4.99
This might be worth picking up; it appears to be some sort of short comics collection from Ashley Wood. I'll look at it if I see it.
AYA HC $19.95
A French graphic novel that has received lots of acclaim. I kind of doubt my store will have it, but I'll keep an eye out for it, or at least see if my wife can get it for me from the library where she works.
TO TERRA VOL 1 TP  $13.95
Chris Butcher previewed this a while back, and it looks excellent. I'd like to get it, but I'll probably need to special order it from Borders or Amazon.
-----

Well, looks like a fairly light week, which is nice. Unless the Love and Rockets digests I ordered show up; that's $30 right there...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

UPDATED! In which I get predictable

Ha ha, that title is meant to have a double meaning, but it probably just sounds dumb. Anyway, I figured I would do the typical blogger thing and give my picks for the Oscars, which are happening tonight. I'll skip any categories I don't have an opinion about, so don't expect to see Best Short Film, either live-action or animated. Or Best Documentary Short. I have no clue about any of those (I also have no clue about some other categories, but that won't stop me...). So, off we go:

Oscars 2006:

Performance by an actor in a leading role:


Leonardo DiCaprio - BLOOD DIAMOND
Ryan Gosling - HALF NELSON
Peter O'Toole - VENUS
Will Smith - THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
Forest Whitaker - THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND

DiCaprio should have been nominated for The Departed. He definitely shouldn't get any awards for his atrocious accent in this one (although, to be fair, I haven't seen the movie). I hear Ryan Gosling is amazing, but I haven't seen that one either. In fact, I haven't seen any of these. It just better not be Will Smith in that movie about the pursuit of sappyness. So I'll pick Forest Whitaker.

Who should have been nominated? Tommy Lee Jones, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. Gael Garcia Bernal, The Science of Sleep (I'm probably the only person who thinks so, but whatever). Edward Norton, Down in the Valley.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role:


Alan Arkin - LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
Jackie Earle Haley - LITTLE CHILDREN
Djimon Hounsou - BLOOD DIAMOND
Eddie Murphy - DREAMGIRLS
Mark Wahlberg - THE DEPARTED

Out of these, I've seen Little Miss Sunshine and The Departed. I would have chosen Steve Carrell over Alan Arkin for Sunshine, and Jack Nicholson over Mark Wahlberg for The Departed (he was over-the-top, but I don't care, he was awesome), so both of those are out. I'm hoping Eddie Murphy doesn't win, but mostly out of dislike for him and the movie (which I haven't seen, but it bugs me anyway). I'm guessing Djimon Hounsou, but who knows.

Who should have been nominated? Hmmm...maybe Brad Pitt in Babel, or Barry Pepper in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. Kevin Kline, A Prarie Home Companion. Sergi Lopez, Pan's Labyrinth.

Performance by an actress in a leading role
:

Penélope Cruz - VOLVER
Judi Dench - NOTES ON A SCANDAL
Helen Mirren - THE QUEEN
Meryl Streep - THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
Kate Winslet - LITTLE CHILDREN

I think Helen Mirren is a lock for this one. The only one I've seen is The Devil Wears Prada, and while Meryl Streep was pretty good in that role, the movie wasn't that great, and any other actress probably wouldn't have been nominated. I really need to see Volver; I hear Penelope Cruz is great in that.

Who should have been nominated? Kirsten Dunst, Marie Antoinette. I can't really think of anybody else.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
:

Adriana Barraza - BABEL
Cate Blanchett - NOTES ON A SCANDAL
Abigail Breslin - LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
Jennifer Hudson - DREAMGIRLS
Rinko Kikuchi - BABEL

For who should win out of these, I would probably say Barraza. Kikuchi was also very good. I wouldn't mind if Breslin won either. But I think Jennifer Hudson is going to win. Bummer.

Who should have been nominated? Possibly Julianne Moore in Children of Men. Meryl Streep, A Prairie Home Companion.

Best animated feature film of the year
:

CARS
HAPPY FEET
MONSTER HOUSE

Cars. I didn't see Monster House, but I heard it was okay. As for Happy Feet, I'll be pissed if it wins. It had very pretty animation, but it was a bad, bad movie.

Who should have been nominated? Flushed Away would be the only other animated movie I would have considered. Everything else was bad.

Achievement in art direction
:

DREAMGIRLS
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
PAN'S LABYRINTH
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST
THE PRESTIGE

My guess for this one is Pan's Labyrinth, but I'll be okay if The Prestige wins. That had some really stunning visuals. Pirates seems out of place here, and I didn't see The Good Shepherd, but I just hope Dreamgirls doesn't get it.

Who should have been nominated? The Curse of the Golden Flower. Marie Antoinette; maybe that didn't get nominated because when you're shooting in Versailles, the set decoration has mostly been done for you.

Achievement in cinematography
:

THE BLACK DAHLIA
CHILDREN OF MEN
THE ILLUSIONIST
PAN'S LABYRINTH
THE PRESTIGE

Children of Men
, all the way. Incredible cinematography in that one. Pan's Labyrinth was also good, of course.

Who should have been nominated? I dunno, maybe my same picks as Art Direction. Those also seem like good picks.

Achievement in costume design
:

CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
DREAMGIRLS
MARIE ANTOINETTE
THE QUEEN

Curse of the Golden Flower. Marie Antoinette was also very good. Like always, I just hope it isn't Dreamgirls. And they actually designed costumes for The Devil Wears Prada? They might as well give an Oscar to Vogue magazine.

Best documentary feature
:

DELIVER US FROM EVIL
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS
JESUS CAMP
MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY

I'm betting An Inconvenient Truth is too popular not to win. I also hear Iraq in Fragments is really good, and politically loaded films often win, so it has a chance. I've heard Jesus Camp is also good, but I don't think it will win. I don't know enough about the others.

Achievement in film editing
:

BABEL
BLOOD DIAMOND
CHILDREN OF MEN
THE DEPARTED
UNITED 93

I'm usually not too sure about editing. I'll say Children of Men, but Babel and The Departed also seem like good choices. Hell, so does United 93, I guess.

Who should have been nominated? The Fountain? Marie Antoinette? The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada?

Best foreign language film of the year
:

AFTER THE WEDDING
DAYS OF GLORY (INDIGÈNES)
THE LIVES OF OTHERS
PAN'S LABYRINTH
WATER

The only one I've seen is Pan's Labyrinth, but it was one of my favorite films of the year, so I'm choosing it.

Who should have been nominated? The Curse of the Golden Flower. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, even though I didn't especially like it.

Achievement in makeup
:

APOCALYPTO
CLICK
PAN'S LABYRINTH

Click? Really? Old-man makeup isn't exactly award-worthy, in my opinion. I'm guessing Pan's Labyrinth, but Apocalypto would probably also be a good guess.

Who should have been nominated? Marie Antoinette. The Curse of the Golden Flower.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
:

BABEL
THE GOOD GERMAN
NOTES ON A SCANDAL
PAN'S LABYRINTH
THE QUEEN

Hell, I don't know. I'll say Pan's Labyrinth. Babel might also be a good choice. And The Queen is popular, maybe it'll win something other than Best Actress.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
:

"I Need to Wake Up" - AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
"Listen" - DREAMGIRLS
"Love You I Do" - DREAMGIRLS
"Our Town" - CARS
"Patience" - DREAMGIRLS

I'll take a wild guess and say "Love You I Do" from Dreamgirls. I don't know, and I don't really care, for that matter.

Achievement in sound editing
:

APOCALYPTO
BLOOD DIAMOND
FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST

I've only seen Pirates, so I'll choose that one. But it could probably go to any of these.

Achievement in sound mixing
:

APOCALYPTO
BLOOD DIAMOND
DREAMGIRLS
FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST

Ditto my last answer.

Achievement in visual effects
:

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST
POSEIDON
SUPERMAN RETURNS

Pirates. As for the others, they really didn't even deserve to be nominated. Superman Returns? There wasn't anything in that movie that hasn't been done over and over for the last ten years. And I didn't see Poseidon, but come one, it was a sinking ship movie. I really doubt it had anything that hadn't already been done by Titanic, or, more recently, The Perfect Storm.

Who should have been nominated? The Fountain. I'm actually kind of pissed that it didn't get nominated. Too low-tech for the academy, I guess, but it really had the most incredible effects of the year. The Science of Sleep also had great effects, but I guess they were too obviously (and purposely) fake to be nominated. And Shortbus had one of the most moving effects I've ever seen, with the "camera" zooming around cardboard-looking buildings all over Manhattan.

Adapted screenplay
:

BORAT CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN
CHILDREN OF MEN
THE DEPARTED
LITTLE CHILDREN
NOTES ON A SCANDAL

My pick is Children of Men, but it will probably go to The Departed. What was Borat an adaptation of, the TV show? Weird.

Who should have been nominated? A Prairie Home Companion. The Prestige. Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story.

Original screenplay
:

BABEL
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
PAN'S LABYRINTH
THE QUEEN

I'm guessing Little Miss Sunshine, since this is probably the only award it will win. The others are also all good picks, so any of them could also win.

Who should have been nominated? The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. Shortbus. The Fountain. The Science of Sleep. Brick.

Achievement in directing:

BABEL
THE DEPARTED
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
THE QUEEN
UNITED 93

I think it'll finally be Scorsese's year, for The Departed. I would also accept Alejondro Gonzalez Inarritu, for Babel. I didn't see United 93, but I heard it was very good. Maybe patriotism will win out. And the Academy always loves Clint Eastwood, so don't count out Letters from Iwo Jima.

Who should have been nominated? Alfonso Cuaron, Children of Men! Michel Gondry, The Science of Sleep (in my dreams)! Sofia Coppola, Marie Antoinette. Tommy Lee Jones, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. Darren Aronofsky, The Fountain. Robert Altman, A Prairie Home Companion.

Best motion picture of the year:

BABEL
THE DEPARTED
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
THE QUEEN

And for the big one...I don't know. I'm guessing Letters from Iwo Jima, since, as I mentioned, the Academy loves Eastwood and will honor Scorsese with Best Director. But I could be wrong; The Departed and The Queen are also possibilities. And maybe Babel, although there seems to be a backlash against it, possibly for being too much like Crash (which it's much, much better than).

Who should have been nominated? You can probably guess what I'll say here: Children of Men, which I really do think is the best movie of the year. I also think The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and A Prairie Home Companion are very good. And while I loved The Science of Sleep, The Fountain, and Marie Antionette, I realize that they aren't for everyone, so I don't begrudge the Academy for leaving them out.
-----

And that's it. I think it's funny that Best Visual Effects was the category I got most worked up about. How silly of me. If anybody reads this, it'll probably be after the ceremony, so you can berate me in the comments for how wrong I ended up being.
-----

POST-CEREMONY UPDATE:

Looks like I should have guessed The Departed for more categories. How about that.

Happy Feet
won for Best Animated Picture (dammit!), but my wife had a good comment: It's got that environmental theme, which those Hollywood liberals love. I should have considered that factor.

Were there no good original songs in movies last year? All five of the songs performed during the show sucked.

I'm surprised Pan's Labyrinth didn't win Best Foreign Language Film, but maybe voters thought something else should get recognized after it won a few other categories.
-----

Okay, that's it for me with the silly commentary. Hopefully I'll be able to get to some of my normal stuff soon.

I've been there

My current favorite comics panel:



From Local #8.

I've heard this artist, Ryan Kelly, compared to Paul Pope. I think he's a bit less energetic, but this panel is a good example of his Pope-ishness. I really like this series.

Friday, February 23, 2007

And I thought there would be less to watch this week

Tivo Alert (2/26-3/4):

TCM, Monday 2/26, 12:00 am EST: Meet John Doe, directed by Frank Capra. One of those classics that I haven't seen.

TCM, Monday 2/26, 9:30 am EST: 49th Parallel, directed by Michael Powell. I hear Michael Powell is a really good director, so I might try to catch this one. I'd rather see Peeping Tom or Black Narcissus though. This one's about a German U-boat in WWII. With Laurence Olivier, among others.

HBO Family, Tuesday 2/27, 12:40 am CST: Gandhi, directed by Richard Attenborough. I've never seen this, but it's supposed to be good. That's probably an understatement.

TCM, Tuesday 2/27, 2:00 pm EST: The Bad and the Beautiful, directed by Vincente Minnelli. Another classic I need to see, about Hollywood corruption and such.

HBO Family, Tuesday 2/27, 2:50 pm CST: A Little Princess, directed by Alfonso Cuaron. I usually watch darker movies than this, but I like everything I've seen by Cuaron, so I might check it out.

HBO Signature, Tuesday 2/27, 5:45 pm CST: Missing, directed by Costa-Gavras. I've never seen any Costa-Gavras movies, but he's supposed to be good. This one's about a father searching through Chile for his missing son, hence the title. Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek got Oscar nominations. Weirdly, this is also showing on HBO Family on 3/8, even though HBO lists it as having "Adult content, adult language, violence, brief nudity." Doesn't exactly sound like a typical night out with the kids.

TCM, Tuesday 2/27, 6:00 pm EST: After the Thin Man, directed by W.S. Van Dyke. I've only seen the first Thin Man movie, and it was great. I need to try to see the whole series.

TCM, Tuesday 2/27, 8:00 pm EST: My Man Godfrey, directed by Gregory La Cava. Classic screwball comedy about a wealthy lady who hires a homeless guy to be her butler.

TCM, Wednesday 2/28, 1:45 pm EST: Monsieur Verdoux, directed by Charles Chaplin. "A man woos and murders rich widows to support his invalid wife". That sounds pretty dark for Charlie Chaplin. It's from 1947; I haven't seen any of his non-silent work, so I'll have to check this one out.

TCM, Wednesday 2/28, 4:00 pm EST: The Great Dictator, directed by Charles Chaplin. Chaplin's send-up of Hitler. I always thought this was silent for some reason, but it came out in 1940, so I doubt it. I'll definitely watch this one.

TCM, Wednesday 2/28, 8:00 pm EST: The Train, directed by John Frankenheimer. WWII movie about French resistance fighters trying to stop Germans from stealing art. Was this Frankenheimer's first movie after The Manchurian Candidate? It sounds good.

TCM, Thursday 3/1, 5:00 am EST: The Conversation, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. I need to see this; I like conspiracy movies, and I've heard this one's good.

TCM, Thursday 3/1, 9:00 am EST: The Producers, directed by Mel Brooks. I can't believe I haven't seen this, so I'll rectify that here.

TCM, Thursday 3/1, 12:15 pm EST: I, Vitelloni, directed by Federico Fellini. I've never seen any Fellini movies, so this might be a place to start.

TCM, Thursday 3/1, 2:15 pm EST: Wild Strawberries, directed by Ingmar Bergman. I've never seen any Bergman movies either, so this might be a place to start with him.

TCM, Friday 3/2, 4:30 am EST: The Front, directed by Martin Ritt. About the 50's Hollywood blacklist, starring Woody Allen and Zero Mostel. I don't know too much about this movie, but it's one I've kind of wanted to see.

TCM, Friday 3/2, 6:30 am EST: Lady for a Day, directed by Frank Capra. I don't know if this is worth watching, but it's one of the Capra movies I haven't seen.

TCM, Friday 3/2, 8:00 pm EST: The Elephant Man, directed by David Lynch. Never seen this, but I dig John Hurt and David Lynch, so I might check it out.

IFC, Friday 3/2, 11:05 am and 6:45 pm CST: The Brothers McMullen, directed by Ed Burns. I've been meaning to see this (along with Burns' other movies) for a while now, so now's my chance.

IFC, Saturday 3/3, 12:55 am and Sunday 3/4, 1:00 am CST: Bus 174, directed by Jose Padilha. A Brazilian documentary about a kid who tried to rob a bus and took it hostage. I've heard it's really good.

HBO Signature, Saturday 3/3, 3:40 am CST: The Lady Eve, directed by Preston Sturges. HBO doesn't usually play this sort of movie, but it's a classic that I need to see, so I'll watch it.

TCM, Sunday 3/4, 6:00 pm EST: Witness for the Prosecution, directed by Billy Wilder. Another Billy Wilder movie that I need to see.
-----

Whew, I think that's everything. Again, I'll probably only watch a small portion of these, but in a perfect world I would have time to watch them all and more.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I don't think this interview is going to end well...

My current favorite comics panel:


(Click to enlarge, of course)

From The Nightly News #4.

Well, it's not really a panel, because this comic doesn't really have panels. And if it did, this would probably be two panels. But hey, I made the rules, I can break them!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Apparently, a big schnoz is embarrassing no matter what country you're from

Samurai Saga (Japan, 1959, directed by Hiroshi Inagaki):

This generically-titled samurai movie is actually a very well-done adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac. Now that's a cool idea! As the movie starts, a (Kabuki?) play is being put on in a Japanese town, but the star singer is afraid to go on because she's been receiving threats from a man named Komaki. Her manager convinces her to perform, but the play is interrupted when Komaki shows up; it's Toshiro Mifune, playing the Cyrano character. He objects to the actress performing due to reasons pertaining to honor and loyalty (the movie takes place at the time the Tokugawa shogunate was taking over Japan; I apologize if I get any details wrong; I'm not especially well-schooled in Japanese history). He's wearing a wide-brimmed hat, but he takes it off when a guy challenges him to let the actress perform; he has a huge nose, and he dares the guy to make fun of it. In fact, he demonstrates several ways to make fun of his nose, then beats the guy up. The local lord, who is in attendance, has all his men storm the stage. Komaki decides to compose a song about how badass he is while he's kicking all their asses. Awesome.

So that's the beginning of the movie. Then we get into the Cyrano plot; he is childhood friends with the beautiful Princess Ochii, and she comes to him to let him know she is in love. But not with him; she loves a young, handsome guy named Jurota, and she asks Komaki to watch out for him. Komaki begrudgingly accepts, deciding he'll never know love with his ugly face. It turns out Jurota is also quite the badass, so they end up getting in several fights together against Tokugawa's men. Jurota also digs Ochii, but when he tries to woo her, she's unimpressed with his expressions of love; the best he can come up with is to repeat "I love you," over and over. So Cyrano, I mean Komaki, comes up with the plan to write poetry for Jurota to read to her. She digs it, of course, so they're in love. There's a few bumps in the road, like when Jurota decides he can go it alone without Komaki's help, but then bombs terribly, causing Ochii to wonder if he doesn't love her anymore. She's really kind of dense if she can't figure out where the tenderness is really coming from, but that's not the point.

Eventually, Komaki and Jurota get called away to war, so they head off to the infamous Battle of Sekigahara, where they are unfortunately on the losing side. They both get wounded pretty bad, and together they try to escape before they get massacred by Tokugawa's army (poor winners!). Jurota realizes that he can't go home to Ochii; she doesn't really love him; she loves Komaki's words that he parrots. So he kills himself, telling Komaki to go home and love Ochii. Komaki makes it home, but he can't bring himself to tell Ochii; he ends up watching over her for ten years, visiting her each year on the anniversary of the battle. Tokugawa's men are still searching for survivors though, and they find him, managing to badly wound him. He makes it to see Ochii one last time, and when he's reading her "Jurota's" final letter, she realizes he has it memorized, and it was him that loved her all along. But it's too late, his wound is fatal, and he dies in her arms. The end. Sad stuff.

It's a classic story, and the filmmakers do it justice here. Toshiro Mifune is the standout, as always. He was quite the performer in his day; if you ask me, he had it all: powerful body language, facial expressions, and voice. He completely took over whatever scene he was in. He really gets the wit of the character across here, showing Komaki as an intelligent and poetic man who is unmatched in battle. There's a great scene just after Ochii has informed him that she loves Jurota. Komaki's getting drunk, and all his army buddies show up and insist that he tell them the story of how he defeated 25 men (it's not some tall tale; this took place a couple of scenes earlier). Jurota's there with the men, but he's the new guy; another guy admonishes him to never mention Komaki's nose. So, of course, while Komaki's telling the story, Jurota keeps butting in, saying things like, "You gave them a nose full," or "you had them by the nose." Komaki gets angrier and angrier as this goes on, but he's realized who Jurota is; he's pledged to make sure he doesn't come to harm. Eventually he roars (if you've seen The Seven Samurai, you should be able to picture him doing this) for everyone to leave, then takes a few breaths, tells Jurota he admires his courage, and has a drink with him. It's a great scene.

It's also a beautiful movie, with lush backgrounds of cherry blossoms, autumn leaves, and landscapes. I'll have to check out some of director Inagaki's other movies; he also did the Samurai trilogy about Musashi Miyamoto.

So, if you like cool samurai movies, or are interested in seeing Western stories adapted in an Eastern style (see also: Ran, Throne of Blood), try to check this out. I saw it on IFC, so they might rerun it sometime.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Omissions

I either missed these, or they weren't on the shipping list I looked at. Whoops!

Update to New comics this week (Wednesday, 2/21/07):
HEARTBREAK SOUP PALOMAR VOL 1 TP $14.95
MAGGIE THE MECHANIC LOCAS VOL 1 TP $14.95
It's the Love and Rockets digest-sized collections! I've been wanting to read the series, but those hardcover collections are pretty damn large and imposing. This seems like a perfect alternative.
-----

I think that's the only thing I missed. More content tonight, maybe.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Love is in the air, a tad late for V-Day

My current favorite comics panel:



From Nana, by Ai Yazawa, out of Shojo Beat magazine. I love the shadows on the pier they're standing on, and the way Yazawa draws the wind blowing through her dress. And it's sweet. Awwwww!

This one's for RAB

RAB popped in on the comments thread of a recent "Tivo alert" post that I did to recommend Tommy. Well, I just watched it today, and although I probably won't have anything to say that he doesn't already know, here's my thoughts:

Tommy (1975, directed by Ken Russell)

A review in five words: Fucking bizarre, but good music!

Okay, I'll elaborate. For anyone who doesn't know, Tommy is the movie version of The Who's rock opera about a deaf, dumb, and blind kid who "sure plays a mean pinball". It's pretty weird; my wife, who watched some of it with me but fell asleep for a good portion, said it probably would have been better if we had partaken of "mother nature" first. Actually, I liked it more than she did, but I do have an affinity for weirdness. I'm getting ahead of myself though.

Okay, the titular character is the son of Ann-Margaret (hawt!) and some British guy who dies in the war (WWII, I assume). She ends up getting together with Oliver Reed, playing a guy who runs a holiday camp. After they all come home together, there's a strange bit that I didn't really understand (it seemed like a dream, but I guess it was supposed to be real), where Tommy's father returns, and when he walks in on the two of them (Oliver Reed and Ann-Margaret), Reed whacks him over the head and kills him. Tommy sees it, and the two of them repeatedly scream at him that he didn't see or hear anything. I guess he took that too literally, because he gets struck with psychological blindness, deafness, and muteness (is that a word?).

So, Tommy grows up to be Roger Daltry, and his mom doesn't know what to do with him. She takes him to a Marilyn Monroe-themed church where people apparently go for healing. It's where the movie really starts to get surreal, with nuns that wear Marilyn masks, Eric Clapton preaching with a guitar, and a sacrament that consists of pills and whiskey. There's a statue of Marilyn in her iconic "dress flying up" pose, and sick people are coming and touching it for healing. Ann-Margaret tries to get Tommy to touch it, but he knocks it over and breaks it. Whoops.

(Quick aside here: I assert that Anna Nicole Smith is NOT our generation's Marilyn Monroe. My wife said something of the sort recently, and I disagreed. Sure, people of that generation probably thought of Monroe as a drunken bimbo who couldn't really act, but surely she wasn't that bad. I dunno, maybe future generations will think of Smith in a similar way, but I sure hope not.)

Oliver Reed decides to take a different tack to cure Tommy: get him laid. He takes him to a brothel, where Tina Turner, playing a character called the Acid Queen, dances around and straps him into a freaky hypodermic needle version of an iron maiden. Goddamn. I don't even know how to describe it, it's so crazy. She's singing and dancing the whole time, and the camera is doing trippy things like zooming in and out rapidly. The iron maiden keeps opening with Tommy transformed into things like his father, a Jesus-figure covered with stigmata from the needles, and a skeleton with snakes crawling all over it (in what is not the first bit of phallic imagery, one of them is coming out of the skeleton's crotch).

Well, nothing seems to be curing Tommy, so his mom and step dad just go about their lives, leaving him with a series of abusive babysitters, including Kieth Moon as his sexually abusive Uncle Ernie (I'm going to have to resist the urge to shout "Fiddle about!" at people tomorrow). The ultimate babysitter is the mirror, which Tommy stares into for hours and sees trippy visions. At one point, he wanders off, stumbling through a junkyard, where he finds a pinball machine, and hey, he's pretty good at it! We cut to what appears to be a pinball competition (was there such a thing? I think pinball used to be a big deal, but did they actually have competitions?), where he competes against Elton John, playing a guy on stilts with gigantic clown shoes who plays a keyboard mounted to a pinball machine and sings "Pinball Wizard". Fun!

Well, being awesome at pinball makes Tommy rich and famous, but he doesn't have any clue what's going on, since he can't, you know, see or hear. Ann-Margaret is apparently feeling guilty for taking advantage of him, and she has a song where she keeps trying to change the TV channel so she doesn't have to see him. She keeps trying to change it to commercials for baked beans or chocolates, but it keeps changing back to him, at a televised pinball competition, I guess. She eventually throws a bottle of champagne at the TV, which explodes with foam, covering her in bubbles. Then baked beans pour out and cover her, followed by chocolate. She spends a few minutes writhing around in the mess, splattering it all over the room, then dry humps (if you can call it that when she's covered with goo) a long, phallic pillow. My wife said it seemed like the director was taking a break from the plot to indulge his sexual fantasies. That seems pretty appropriate.

So then Oliver Reed discovers a doctor who can cure Tommy. He's played by Jack Nicholson, who sings (I don't think I mentioned this; there's no spoken dialogue in the movie; everything is sung) that there's nothing physically wrong with him, it's something psychological. Ann-Margaret can't figure out why Tommy won't see or hear her, and she sings to him about how she's upset that he can seem to see the mirror, but not her. Then she throws him into the mirror, and he breaks through, falling into an apparent metaphorical ocean. He's cured! He gets to sing "I'm Free" and run in front of a blue screen-projected ocean!

Everyone's pretty excited that Tommy's cured; it makes front-page news and everything. So then he ends up starting his own religion, with himself as the messiah. I'm honestly not sure if this is supposed to be a satire of organized religion, or a hippy, free-love message. Tommy is pretty welcoming, wanting everybody to come into his house, but Oliver Reed seems to be taking capitalistic advantage, selling holy trinkets and stuff. It's all a fun spoof of Christianity, and probably got people upset back in the 70's. It would probably cause riots if it came out today. Anyway, they sell T-shirts with Tommy in a Christ-like pose, with a halo of pinballs. His big symbol is a cross made of a "T" topped with a pinball. (There's also a weird aside about a young girl who joins the church against her parents' wishes and ends up marrying a kid dressed like Frankenstein's monster. I have no idea what that was all about.)

Tommy ends up taking his followers to a camp similar to the one from the beginning of the movie. He preaches to them from the top of a mountain of giant pinballs, then he has them wear dark glasses, earplugs, and a mouth plug, so they can go through what he went through. Plus, he has them all play pinball. I guess they don't like it though, because they start singing "We're Not Gonna Take It" and smashing the pinball machines with their T-crosses. They also kill Ann-Margaret and Oliver Reed, but Tommy survives. He heads off into nature, and the movie pretty much ends there.

Well, I enjoyed it quite a bit, but I tend to like weird stuff. I especially liked the satirical look at religion. I sure didn't understand all of it, but I dug the music. And now I understand the "see me, feel me, touch me, heal me" line from Who songs. Good times. Thanks for the recommendation, RAB, and please let me know if I'm off base about anything.

Silly predictions of an obvious nature

Thanks to Chris Butcher for providing the information for

New comics this week (Wednesday, 2/21/07):


DMZ #16 (MR) 2.99

I'm always excited for this book. Explosions and assassinations abound. Exciting!

EX MACHINA INSIDE THE MACHINE VOL 1 (MR) 2.99

I'm not sure what this is exactly. Some kind of "Official Handbook"? A summary of the story so far? I'll take a look and decide if I want it. Unless my shop has already set it aside for me, then I'll get it.

LOCAL #8 (OF 12) (MR) 2.99

It's been a while since the last issue. Does this mean it will be on a more reliable schedule? Somehow I doubt it. This issue takes place in Wicker Park, a neighborhood of Chicago, just down the street from me (If I go down the street for an hour or so). Maybe I'll recognize some landmarks. I'll at least show it to my friend that knows the city better than me; I'm sure he'll recognize stuff.

NAOKI URASAWAS MONSTER VOL 7 TP (C: 1-0-0) 9.99

I am really behind on this series. That is, I haven't even bought volume 1. Someday!

NIGHTLY NEWS #4 (OF 6) 2.99

Ooh, cool. I love this series. I predict more subversiveness this issue, and probably some murder.

POWERS #23 (MR) 2.95

I do usually enjoy this book. Who knows when this storyline is going to wrap up, though.

SPIRIT #3 2.99

Ah, more Darwyn Cooke goodness. I predict fun!

TESTAMENT #15 (MR) 2.99

Cool. Have I mentioned that this comic is weird. Because it is. I was disappointed with Liam Sharpe's art last issue; it seemed really rushed. Hopefully this issue will be better.

VAGABOND VOL 24 TP (MR) 9.95

Whoo, who knows if I'll ever get caught up on this series. I have volume 1-3. It will take me a while, that's for sure.
-----

Looks like that's it. More content later, maybe.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Lancelot Links: no secret chimp here

Actually, I never even watched that show, but a friend of mine has it on DVD, and for some reason it makes me laugh whenever I see it. Anyway, on to the links:

Vern, my favorite film critic, has a review of Ghost Rider up. I don't especially like the comic character, but the previews make the movie look fun, in a stupid way. But according to Vern, it's not even good in that aspect. Here's a quote in which he takes issue with the filmmakers not taking the story seriously enough:

"What I'm saying is you have to have the courage of your convictions. There are nerds all around the world, apparently, who like this comic strip, they take the burning skeleton stunt jumper guy with a spikey jacket seriously, and if they're gonna be filling your bank account you shouldn't make fun of them. And at the same time there are people like me who are going to the movie exactly because it looks so stupid, and we would rather see you take it seriously too because then it would be alot funnier than this bullshit. Treat it seriously and everybody wins. If you think the premise is too stupid to do with a straight face then for God's sake don't make the fucking movie, you assholes."

Good stuff. He also has a good review of Alejandro Jodorowsky's Holy Mountain, which I really have to see, along with El Topo.

CBR has an interview with David Petersen about his series Mouse Guard. The big news: the second six-issue miniseries starts in July.

Mitch Montgomery (who I know from the excellent comment threads on Geoff Klock's Blog) reviews what sounds like an awesome play called The Jaded Assassin. It sounds like a stage version of Kill Bill or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and if I lived anywhere near New York, I would definitely go see it. Check out the promo image:



As seems to be the trend with these link posts, I'll add more as I find it, so keep watching!
-----

UPDATE: Yeah, I moved this post to the top of the blog again. Who cares about continuity? Not me!

Over at The Comics Reporter, Bart Beaty has a cool look at Why I Killed Pierre by Alfred and Oliver Ka. It was one of the prize winners at the French Angouleme festival this year. He's been discussing several of the winners recently (there's links in his post). Very interesting stuff.

A site called The Open Critic has a series of reviews of Hideshi Hino manga. Cool. (via The Comics Reporter).

Jim Mahfood painted the mural that can be seen in the coffee shop on The Sarah Silverman Program on Comedy Central. I've only watched a few minutes of the show, but if I watch it again, I'll be looking for this. Go Jim!
-----

UPDATE 2 on 2/19:

Greg Hatcher offers a dissenting opinion on Ghost Rider (about halfway down the page), along with some other stuff.

Holy Harryhausen!

Rex Libris #7
by James Turner



I've been meaning to talk about this book for quite some time. It's by the author of Nil: A Land Beyond Belief, which is a strange, satirical look at a weird dystopian future. It's hard to even describe. But anyway, Rex Libris is about an immortal hard-boiled librarian who works at the Middleton Public Library, a transdimensional collection of books run the the Egyptian god Thoth. The library is situated at an intersection of ley lines, so it's full of telluric energy, allowing lots of magical stuff to happen, like characters from books springing to life. Much of the first five issues of the series (which I might look at sometime) consisted of Rex's quest to get a copy of Newton's Principia Mathematica from an evil space tyrant who refused to return it. Very enjoyable. The writing is very funny, with Rex constantly spouting expository facts about whatever he's doing or about the threat he's facing. The art is quite interesting as well; it appears that writer/artist James Turner produces the entire thing on a computer. I'll give some samples so you can see what I mean.

So, this issue continues where #6 left off: Rex has entered a book called El Compendio Ilustrado De La Morfologia Del Monstruo Del Paleozoico Al Cenozoico Del Cryptozoologisto Internacionalmente Aclamado Juan E. Strozzi El Loco. It's a sort of encyclopedia of monsters, and it sucked a patron into its pages, so he has to rescue her. But some sort of buildup of telluric energy has caused the "page barriers" to break down, so all the monsters are running wild throughout the book. So he has to rescue the patron and fix the problem with the book before it breaks down and lets all the monsters out into the library.



It's a very enjoyable read, and really dense. Turner fills the pages with lots of dialogue, most of which is spoken aloud by Rex to nobody in particular in true Stan Lee fashion.



And there's some goofy fourth-wall breaking stuff too. At one point, Rex decides to take a break from the fight to have a conversation with his (fictional) editor, B. Barry Horst. He's done this before in previous issues; they usually argue over whether what's shown is really what's happened, and Barry usually tries to get Rex to add naked women to the story so it will sell better. But this time, Barry's office is empty, leading Rex to remember another story that suffered from the non-presence of an editor. Sure enough, we flash back to the previous story, in which Rex and a sherpa compare monster-hunting stories while stranded in a tent on a mountain in Tibet, where they are searching for the Yeti. We spend a couple pages while they talk before getting back to the story. That's the kind of humor Turner specializes in.

So, it's a really fun book. It doesn't come out too often, but hopefully a collection will come out sometime. In the meantime, watch out for spiky crab creatures!