I'm glad but a little surprised that Frozen is doing so well.
Image © 2013 Disney Enterprises.
Which probably has more to do with my critical eye and very specific tastes — a mite
too critical and crazily specific, I've been told — than with the quality of the film or the general public's own appetites.
More pleasant surprises:
Update: The image above with Loki from the Avengers film has been joined by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers and John Buscema & John Verpoorten "Pop Art" variants, seen thumbnailed below, on my Tumblr log. My hands were really bad when I got the itch to do these and I'd love to be able to rework them but I'm probably better off devoting that energy to other stuff — unless someone wants to actually hire me to design fake cereal boxes...
Gravity was spectacular.
I saw the film two weeks ago, and whenever it's brought to mind I'm right back in the absolute sense of wonder I experienced in the theater.
Starring the quietly magnetic Sandra Bullock as a civilian mission specialist sent up
to work on the Hubble Space Telescope and George Clooney as the veteran commander of her shuttle, Gravity demands to be seen not only on as big a screen as possible but in
3D. If you've heard me talk (or read me write) about 3D, you know that I seldom recommend it.
John Oliver wasn't the sole member of Comedy Central's late-night team giving
us process junkies a peek behind the curtain in the past couple of weeks. Stephen Colbert was interviewed by Paul Mercurio, who does warm-up for The Colbert Report, over nearly an hour on a variety of topics — but mostly about the Daft Punk fiasco. You can listen to the podcast free.
Daft Punk, scheduled to be on Colbert's show earlier this month, bowed out and/or
was yanked over misunderstandings and Viacom internal politics due to the mysterious French faux-robots' upcoming special appearance at last weekend's MTV Video Music Awards telecast.
Colbert devoted the episode on which they would have appeared to an only slightly fictional account of what happened along with a truly bizarre all-star video set to Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" (featuring Bryan Cranston, Jeff Bridges, the Rockettes, Stephen's animated alter ego Tek Jansen, Henry f---ing Kissinger...) and a performance by Robin Thicke doing his unfortunate song of the summer "Blurred Lines".
Jon Stewart will return to The Daily Show next week following a summer sabbatical. He was in the Middle East directing a film called Rosewater. For the eight weeks out of twelve after Stewart's departure that the show was not on hiatus, writer/correspondent John Oliver stepped in to host in his stead.
If you don't already know that, you may not be interested in the video I'm sharing of John Oliver's appearance on Charlie Rose from Monday, Aug. 8th, just as John-with-an-h was starting his final week as Jon-without's substitute.
If you're disappointed in, or simply growing numb to, this summer's would-be blockbusters — The Lone Ranger, World War Z, Man of Steel, Pacific Rim — I have
the solution: Joss Whedon's adaptation of Much Ado about Nothing.
You may be skeptical of a film that can be promoted as "from the director of The Avengers and based on the play by William Shakespeare" but Whedon's Much Ado is just that. And it's a delight.
There was a producer who had two films only partially completed when the financing fell through on both. One was a domestic drama starring Cher; the other was a fantasy in which Johnny Depp played the mythical Yeti (or "abominable snowman") of the Himalayas.
It occurred to her that perhaps there was a way to pick up a few additional scenes on a shoestring budget that would stitch the two movies into one.
Somehow it came together. The producer screened the result for Hollywood friends, and following the show a director not involved in the undertaking approached a cinematographer he recognized.
“Did you work on this?" the director asked.
"Yes," the cinematographer responded.
"Those icy landscapes were beautiful," said the director.
"Oh, I can't take credit for that," replied the cinematographer.
I didn't create this Man of Steel / Dark Knight mashup, but when I shared it from
a friend's page on Facebook I did come up with some dialogue for the scene.
Joker: "You wanna know how I got these scars?"
Batman: "Don't indulge him, Clark."
Superman: "Will you stop calling me 'Clark'? I've already told you that I don't want anyone to know anything about me other than I'm 33 and grew up in Kansas, except for Lois and everyone in Smallville and the army guys who were there with Lois at my mom's house."
Joker: [does lizard thing with tongue] "As I was saying..."
How did I like Man of Steel?
That's... a good question. I'll be taking part in a roundtable discussion at Forces
of Geek soon, helping me further hone my thoughts for a proper review. What follows below is bereft of spoilers.
Man of Steel image © 2013 Warner Bros. Entertainment. Superman ® DC Comics.
"Okay. Here's the situation."
To a large swath of Generation X, at minimum, it's danged near impossible to hear those words and not feel the urge to reply "My parents went away on a week's vacation."
To a decidedly smaller segment of the population — we few who recall the music
video for "City of Crime", a track played over the closing credits of the 1987 Dragnet movie — a similar trigger is provided by an even simpler and more mundane phrase: "Excuse me."
Here we go with a good old link-blogging post for the first time in too long.
I know it's been making the rounds at warp speed the past few days, but Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy in Audi's "The Challenge" has at least one moment too priceless not to keep sharing. Note: It's a commercial, obviously, so if you have a hard policy against watching such things there's your warning. [2:56]
I found Iron Man 3 a fine kickoff to what Marvel Studios is calling Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — Phase One having culminated in the assemblage of nearly every superhero thus far introduced to the MCU in 2012's The Avengers.
Given that it builds deliberately on what's come before, Iron Man 3 isn't an optimal entry to the series; a familiarity with the characters and their milieu is recommended.
If you've enjoyed the previous films, however, Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark in particular, grab a ticket. For darn sure it's better than 2010's Iron Man 2, although certain flaws of that movie are revisited. The way in which 3 gets to jump straight into its world, history established, might even make it more fun than 2008's original. In that regard (and in some aspects of the plot) it's not unlike an installment of the Bond franchise, a parallel driven home at the very end and made explicit too in press interviews by co-writer/director Shane Black.
So there's a quickie assessment. I'll add spoiler commentary after the next graphic.
Join me below if/when you've seen Iron Man 3 or just don't care...
Panel of Lois Lane meeting Superman from Action Comics #1 © 1938 DC Comics.
Script: Jerry Siegel. Pencils, Inks, Letters: Joe Shuster. Colors: Unknown.
This post is currently down for maintenance.
Just yesterday I was reading Roger Ebert's "Leave of Presence" post, addressing the discovery of more cancer in his body — this, after he'd endured so much — and his promise to write about what he could, when he could, during treatment.
The Bourne Identity, which introduced Matt Damon as human weapon Jason Bourne in 2002, was very good. Its 2004 sequel, The Bourne Supremacy, was great, as was 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum. Last year's The Bourne Legacy, a spinoff focused on another agent played by Jeremy Renner, was not as good as any of them but had its moments nonetheless. I'll expound a bit, without spoilers, after the poster.
More years ago than feels possible I drew up a cartoon like this for a Hillel seder in college. I've yet to come across it in my files but with today's technology I was able to rebuild the thing better, faster, and stronger.
Not that I'm about to do a whole strip, but I kind-of want to read this.
Related: Braids of Glory • They're Magically
Suspicious • Nice Day for a Sprite Wedding
I'm not sure what I can say about Celeste and Jesse Forever without giving too much away.
Celeste and Jesse, played by Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg, are best friends since college who married and then amicably separated while remaining buds. The entire plot revolves around whether they reunite and/or how they cope with drifting apart.
If I tell you Forever is a comfort film — not that I'm doing so — you'd probably guess that there's a happy ending. If I tell you Forever should only be viewed if you can handle relationships going south — not that I'm doing so — you'd probably guess that there isn't. If I tell you that Forever is good enough to withstand either the cliché of the happy ending or the bummer of the alternative, well, I'd be speaking untruth, albeit not of great magnitude; Celeste and Jesse Forever is good, just not quite good enough for me to honestly say I enjoyed [whatever happened].
Continued with spoilers after the poster, then...
As great as the political satire on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report is, sometimes the shows' finest comedy is wrung out of human-interest stories on a very modest scale.
On Monday Colbert led off with an installment of its occasional series The Enemy Within about some misplaced scallop gonads in Maine. It's a great mix of making fun of these kinds of field pieces on the one hand and on the other just letting the ridiculous nature of the incident speak for itself. You're guaranteed to laugh or the next post on this blog is free. [Warning: Scallop gonads, in case you missed that, but they're really just the MacGuffin. And... Update: The link is dead now that the show's over.]
Related: Deft Wonk • Brittality • Not Necessarily Not the News
Is Argo worth a watch? No doubt.
Was it worth an Oscar? Not given its competition, in my eyes, as I wrote at the end of my post-Oscars post last week. But the fact that Argo is merely one of my top five or so movies of 2012 rather than the number-one pick ain't bad. Some thoughts on it that include mild spoilers follow.
What follows are some thoughts on nostalgia and how it may blur critical assessment, prompted by yesterday's post on this year's Oscars show.
I'd like to preface them with a quote from an interview that Stefan Blitz (now founder/editor-in-chief of Forces of Geek) and I conducted with comics writer Brian Michael Bendis back in 2001 for my magazine Comicology. After I stopped myself literally in the middle of referring to Stefan as a DVD connoisseur, Stefan made my point for me — by admitting that he owned the 1983 movie Krull.
"You know what's funny about that movie?" said Bendis. "I remember seeing that
movie [at 15] with my mom and my brother, and sitting in the movie theater having
my first realization that movies could suck."
I wasn't going to write about The 85th Annual Academy Awards.
Really. Not outside of some comments on other blogs, anyway. And it ain't because producers attempted to chuck the formality and rebrand this year's show purely as "the Oscars". I'm not above a linguistic gotcha; however, this is not such a gotcha. I honestly expected to be too fatigued and just plain iffy about the telecast that I was happy thinking about not writing about it.
But last night's Oscarfest, hosted by Seth MacFarlane, was so disappointing that I
kind-of can't help it.
I don't have much to say about the content of the show. My anticipated mixture of indifference and irritation was pretty spot-on. It's that during the telecast I finally came to — hmm... not a realization or epiphany, exactly, more of a rubicon I suppose — a rubicon in terms of my relationship with the annual event. I found myself curiously indifferent about my irritation.
As you might've heard, the Oscars are tonight.
The big show starts at 8:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. PT on ABC — whose Go site has a complete list of nominees. If you're into seeing Oscar hopefuls, presenters, and other celebrities on the red carpet, you'll want to check those good ol' local listings.
I'll probably pass on a review of the show; then again, I've thought that before and yet — after a bout of Oscars poetry in 2009, when the blog was all of a few days old — I ended up doing post-Oscars posts in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
James Bond celebrated his 50th anniversary on the silver screen last year. Dr. No
hit theaters in 1962, based on the 1958 Ian Fleming novel of the same name (sixth in the Bond series). It made Sean Connery a star, launched a slate of films that would position Bond as a global icon for generations to come, and kicked off a spate of imitators capitalizing on the spy craze — some of which, like Mission: Impossible
and Get Smart, became icons of a certain size in their own right.
Was Skyfall, now out on home video, a worthy way to commemorate Bond's golden jubilee?
If you've ever left a comment on a blog, you may very well have come across “word” verification.
On blogs hosted by Blogger, as elsewhere, the author can select an option asking
people commenting to type a seemingly random bunch of letters to prove that they're actual humans rather than automated envoys of mischief or malevolence. This used to take the form of a single nonsense string that almost always could be a real word, but wasn't; then, last year, the hosting service joined the ranks of websites using heinously jumbled-up, visually skewed mixes of characters. Previously the nonsense “words” tended to have vowels and consonants placed in such an order that they were pronounceable, leading me to invent definitions for them based on actual words, morphemes, and phrases they suggested.
I took to sharing those definitions in comments, when they came readily to mind, then filing them away and periodically presenting batches here on my own blog. It was an endeavor not unlike Sniglets, which Rich Hall popularized on HBO's Not Necessarily the News and in a series of books back in the '80s, except in reverse. I've laid absolutely no claim to being either the first or the best at this, but I've been told I'm not bad at it either, and I'm genuinely sorry that the absence of that older format of word verification has led to a near-total shutdown in new definitions.
• cztory — [ztoh ree] n. A Slavic tale.
• ermend — [uhr mend; ee ahr mend] v. Fix someone up in the trauma center.
• archMC — [artch em see] n. Preeminent (or sly) rapper.
I'm not setting up a joke there. It's just what happens when toy lines collide.
During my sister's visit with her kids last summer we decided to drag some old stuff
out of the basement. I had gotten my nephew Ishmael (real name classified) a Batman figure for his birthday — from the 2008 Dark Knight movie line, I think, although I
was happy to find one with a gray-&-black motif rather than the solid black seen in the films. He told me that he "really, really wished" for a Batmobile and he thought that we could find one. Aware that no Batmobile per se was in my stash but having discussed with my sister giving him my Kenner Star Wars figures, I decided to literally dust off a couple of great Mego items for him: the Batcave playset and what was officially titled the Mobile Bat Lab; I liked to call it the Batvan.
Art from cover of X-Men #141 with text based on the cover
to X-Men #139 © 1980 Marvel Comics. Pencils: John
Byrne. Inks: Terry Austin. Colors: Unknown.
Related: Now Hear This • eXtras • ... Marks the Spot • Up Your Nose
with a Rubber Flux Capacitor • Nice Day for a Sprite Wedding