Monday, July 21, 2008

Dark Knight

Darren says: Best comic book movie ever. Christopher Nolan says, damn skippy.
"Memento" rocked. "Batman Begins" rocked. That is just the director.
Toss in Christian Bale -- "American Psycho", "The Machinist", "Equilibrium". "Reign of Fire", "The Prestige" and even "Velvet Goldmine" -- as the darkest Batman yet and the only thing that could go wrong would be the villain.
Actually the hardest part of the Dark Knight is knowing Heath Ledger is dead. He made a lot more movies than James Dean, and leaves us with quite a legacy. The marketing suits play up the connection, but it is absolutely unnecessary, excessively tawdry, and even worse than all the damn product tie ins that play during the previews/tv ads.
Ledger played the Joker unflinching. A masterful performance. I could not watch, just as I had trouble with "the Crow", and forget that the guy I was watching was dead. A true shame.
On the positive side, this bleak uncompromising vision of Gotham has terrific camera. I was actually able to see the heightened depth of field of the Imax equipment, and Nolan was able to show it off. Fight scenes were brutal, quick and physical. Until the blinking blue eye caps we are treated to Bale in the blackest black suit and the clearly real world engineered Batmobile with a dose of real world weight and heft unmatched in the artificial light of the CG choreography that rules the modern actioner. No F15s in midtown Gotham!
Nolan does not live in a bubble, and like every film made since 911, he pushes the Iraq War into our face. Batman faces his heart of darkness, we must face our chickenshit response to a conflict we choose not to understand. We must face the absurdity of serving evil to destroy a perceived threat, and understand the cost to our own soul.
Heavy stuff for comic books.
That just means you haven't read any comics lately. Comic writers have been grappling with power and the abuse of it long before Bush took office, but the lines have never been drawn with such emphasis. Artists are sensitive people, and the assault on morality and reason has been unrelenting for the last 8 years. Enough is enough, and that plain fact has bled onto the screen, into the comics, and blogs and the cereal aisle at Dillons.
Janet Jackson (fine rescinded) was charged a half million dollars for a breast flash while we waterboard human beings. Thank goodness the Pentagon has a voice in every newsroom to make excuses.
The overt critical movies like "Rendition" and "Stop Loss" died like "Talladega Nights" should have, Nolan is smart enough to wrap his message in Batwings and serve it hot, in the dark.
Since every man woman and child in America will see "Dark Knight" twice (if the box is to be believed) perhaps the tide will turn -- no more eviscerated, bubble-gum "Fantastic Four" movies, and no more draconian laws and pardons for the illusion of safety. When the corporate ties to modern evil are a given (A la Iron Man) and government collusion (Lord of War) not even a twist, perhaps the voting public will make the connection.
"The Sheep Look Up" if you will, with all apologies to John Brunner.
Recommended (even though you have already seen it)

Hellboy 2

Hellboy 2 was worth the wait! Real time seemed to pass very slowly, as it was clear all Mr Del Toro needed was a green light to make this sequel. In the interim we received "Pan's Labyrinth" and that pedigree is evident in Hellboy 2. Maybe pacing had some issues, maybe silly and slapstick were pushed a touch far -- but you can choose to let the bowling pin sounds in "Burly Brawl" ruin the film or just go with it.
The creatures and attention to detail will have me watching this on Blue Ray over and over.
There a section of the film that plays as an homage to the puppeteers of that underseen gem "Strings".
Jim Henson is smiling from the grave at Hellboy. The Brothers Quay and even Tim Burton have to love what Del Toro has done!
This movie slathers a little weight over the lightness, and a little silly romance...We lost our straight man Myers and the cigar smoking bald guy has also undergone a script castration, but Ron Perlman is Hellboy. No one else could pull it off, not even Christian Bale! It is about time Perlman got the DaVinci/Lovecraft symbols cut into his flesh -- they look great, and think of the time he will save in make-up for number 3!
Our ace badguy, the long haired sword swinging freak in the trailer, was my last concern that was completely demolished by the very first scene of advanced Tai Chi with stick and blades.

Monday, July 07, 2008


A Thai action-comedy. You can see above cool haircut, glasses and even legible titles...
This was the film I saw the trailer of on the "Chocolate" stunner reviewed earlier. There were several trailers on that disc, this was the one I did not already have. It appeared from the trailer to be a must see, and, thankfully, did not disappoint!
This film has some very nice stuntwork, a convoluted plot and a couple of high kicking receptionists--the only thing missing the Thai Trannie! I am getting used to the slapstick Thai sense of humor, I suppose it may atone for the over the top brutality of the Muay-Thai elbow. "Brave" is not a Tony Jaa or even a Jija Yanin Vismitananda take no prisoners elbow smash stunt man wounding epic, but it is no slouch either!
Ultimately it will be my kick along while watching heartrate that eventually stops me from watching these crazy films, but until then stay tuned.

RIP: Thomas Disch

A suicide along the lines of Spaulding Gray perhaps? Done on July 4th, so perhaps a touch more pointed, but Disch was a poet. He was also a science fiction writer.
I found him after reading a blurb from him on the back cover of Theodore Sturgeon's "More than Human."
Follow the journey, pick up a copy of "Camp Concentration." This is not your father's Space Opera.

4th of July Reflections

I have a dirty secret. I listen to Limbaugh on the way home at lunch, a 7 minute commute. I don't make it home without shutting it off in disgust, but last week I found myself sitting in the car in my driveway listening while he read the following text:
A Not-So-Glorious Fourth
When he finished reciting he launched into a tirade about the Left and the Media and I enjoyed my lunch, "Rush free." I looked up the editorial, read it through a couple more times, and chose not to celebrate Friday.
Chris Satullo hit the nail on the head. Thanks!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Blue Ray B-13

I vowed I would not rebuy movies I already own just because they are available on Blue Ray. The image can't be that much better can it? My flat screen only goes to 1081i, what is the point? The movies are more expensive! Yes, I have 105 other reasons not to make the jump.
I did it.
It is that much better, even in 1080i.
District B-13 is, like Crank, a perfect "B" movie. Unlike Crank it showcases Parkour, and the clarity that Blue Ray brings to the image rules. There is absolutely no excuse not to see this movie now. Get to it!

Resistance: Fall of Man

I finally finished my first borrowed PS3 game. "Resistance" is an FPS, and if you ask around those that know will tell you I am an iD fanboy with a Quake tat where my heart belongs. That should give you all the necessary clues to recognize that I am not a console gamer by nature!
Regardless, I played on medium setting and had a blast. This alternate past alien invasion shooter made the hours go by with amped up heart rate and twitchy finger. Hardest thing for me was to not mash the right stick and go into zoom mode during melee.
Artwork looked great -- what doesn't on the PS3 -- if somewhat dated. Concept stuff was cool, if derivative of all our FPS favorites. Half-Life, Unreal Tournament, Halo et al. Thank goodness they left the "only what you can carry rule" out -- I must have had an arsenal of 10 cool weapons in a sack. Gameworld paused while I switched weapons, which is very handy for a guy who wants to hit the 3 key for the shotgun!
Medium was not particularly challenging, which is good because this has a "checkpoint" save system, and we all know how a long checkpoint through total crap play can ruin a game. I have to kill all the flying pigeons again??!! That being said, there were no standout desperate must get to checkpoint moments.
Apparently this has a multiplayer component, but that will remain untested. Tuesday I return the game with a sincere thanks.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Summer Fluff?
I think not! Sure, Hancock is shiny, has Will Smith, and some really funny bits we have all seen way too many times in the trailer -- but Hancock has meat. Hancock has emotional weight -- unlike "Iron Man," who had a heavy suit. I am not denigrating "Iron Man" just pointing out the differences.
There are parts of this movie that will be really heavy for young kids. I don't like trailers, never mind spoilers, but suffice to say that the 8 and under crowd may find parts of this disturbing, and not in a gore way but in the consequences of modern, broken families.
I cannot underline enough my pleasant surprise with "Hancock." It is the flipside to the comic book cynicism of "Wanted" -- where the comic artists are grappling with new view realities that recognize secondary consequences, and just what we have been doing over the last 8 years and how that has shaped the national psyche.
Christ, look at the deep-ness of this summer movie review.
Hancock! See It!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Wall e

The opening Pixar short was absolutely fabulous. Inventive, with not a frame wasted...
"Wall e" does not suffer the same economy. Because this is "I Am Legend" or perhaps more apropos "Silent Running" there is not a lot of dialogue in the single robot in post apocalyptic world scenario...and plenty of sprawl.
This freaked the adult audience out..they squirmed more than the kids at the showing I saw! That being said, this is not for the short of attention, perhaps too long for kids, like "Speed Racer" before it.
"Wall e" is light satire, but should be understood by all as not an illogical conclusion to our present behavior as a species. It reminded me of "The Happening" -- a film I went in wanting to like but was put off by the gore -- but I am still thinking about both of these films, days later. "Wall e" tells a great tale, gently. Humans are the cause, and the cure. There is hope in this film, and a warm gentleness that might let its message sink in.