Saturday, February 26, 2005

In The Hot Zone

Forget the deep dark corners of Africa and the hibernating viral apocalypse awaiting humanity there, just come over to my house and you'll see some crazy plague monkeys you can take home to show your folks.

Virtually everyone in my household has fallen ill with this flu or cold or whatever has been going around plaguing Saskatoon for the better part of a month. Hacking coughs, oozing nostrils, pink eyes...I'm going crazy! 24 hour humidifiers (bear in mind I collect lot of paper goods), cough syrups, decongestants, expectorants...I havent had a moments rest since Monday.

People were not meant to spend that much time together, especially when they're all gross and needy and stuff. I swear, if I hadn't stolen away to watch The Life Aquatic the other day, you would have been reading about me in the newspapers.

On the plus side, the epidemic does seem to be winding down. The Monkey House is being sanitized. The lingering symptoms still showing up seem to be restricted to just the coughing and the runny noses which is evidenced by the plethora of facial tissues congealing in the wastepaper baskets.

Cover for the Dakota single

One cool thing this week (besides catching The Life Aquatic, that is) was downloading the new Stereophonics single, "Dakota". I've been grooving to this tune in streaming audio for about a month, now, and I finally have the bugger on my hard drive. Paid my .79p (almost $2 CAN) and I'm a happy camper.

Oh, and I also had a chance to listen to Keane's Hopes and Fears which is getting me excited. I'm discovering that despite looking like goofballs, they make really good music. All those Brit Awards nominations were apparently well earned.

mike

Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer

So, I'm listening to Sara Cox on BBC1 when this news bit comes on about British soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners.

Now, illegal treatment of prisoners (or anyone for that matter) in a war zone (it is an area of great tension and conflict) at the hands of soldiers is not a new concept - even when it's by the hands of the proverbial 'good guys'. We've been seeing news bits like this for years, with Canadians causing problems in Rwanda, UN peacekeepers making trouble elsewhere, and the Americans having just dealt with a similar instance last year.

In both the British and the American cases the soldiers took pictures of their deeds, showing their subjects in situations like being tied to a forklift (in the Brit case), which just baffles the hell out of me. Either they don't understand what they're doing is wrong (otherwise why create a film roll full of evidence) or they don't care, and I don't know which one is worse. Here's a quote from the article that just baffled me:
Photographs, including humiliating sexual images of naked Iraqis, were taken by another soldier, Gary Bartlam, 20, who then took them to be developed at a shop in his hometown of Tamworth, Staffordshire, where an assistant called in police.

Gee, you think?

I've got some pretty strong opinions on the subject, but I'm not going to get into them here. Meanwhile... is primarily an entertainment blog, so I'll leave the soapboxing to whether Identity Crisis helped or hindered the comic industry in 2004 and stay away from anything that'll get me on anybody's 'to watch' list.

You know us muckraking Canadians. Troublemakers, all of us.

mike

Tarantino Directs Episode of CSI

Looks like TV's highly fictionalized forensic thriller CSI is getting a helping hand from shameless fanboy writer/director (I can't in good conscience add actor...I mean, c'mon), Quentin Tarantino.

It's not big news since the guy has done TV before. He directed an epiosde of ER which I haven't seen, and guest-starred on 2 episodes of Alias (which I did, and almost deep sixed the show for me early on in season 1). I mean, in my opinion, it's not like Harrison Ford hitting the small screen playing Indy again for Lucas' great, but underappreciated Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, or Bryan Singer directing 2 episodes of his new show House, or Barry Levinson doing the pilot for Homicide.

I know that's heresy in some fanboy pop culture parts, but I just have trouble with the guy. Kill Bill Part 1 kept me from watching Kill Bill Part 2. The second time I saw Pulp Fiction, it got boring not cooler like other flicks that are supposed to get better with multiple viewings (Fight Club anyone?).

So yeah, there's my Quentin rant for the year (that is unless he makes that World War II movie he's been threatening us with for the last few years).

mike

Indecent Angel

Looks like despite the show being cancelled, Angel still manages to cause a little controversy.

If it wasn't for the complaint being headed by a parent group, I'd almost wonder if someone was trying to keep the name of the defunct Joss Whedon show on peoples lips 'just in case'. And with a new mini series from IDW and people talking endlessly (at least in the Buffy corners of the world) about TV or feature film possibilities for Angel Investigations...you know what I'm getting at.

Anyways, CNN has the piece.

mike

Thursday, February 24, 2005

"Ziggy played guitar!"

So I've come across a copy of the 30th Anniversary editon of David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. I'm a longtime Bowie listener so I know a lot of the songs already, but have never heard them all together like this in one cohesive package before.

I know, I know, how could I call myself a Bowie listener and not be intimately familiar with Ziggy, but that's just the way it is. My first Bowie album was Black Tie, White Noise (the last and in my opinion one of the best, of his pop albums and that phase of his career), being sucked in by the hypnotic rhythms and haunting saxaphone of "Jump, They Say". I've picked up everything since then, like Buddha of Suburbia, Outside, Earthling and Heathen (yeah, yeah, Reality is on the go get it list, dont worry), but going backwards has always been a slow going process with greatest hits albums and a small mp3 collection being the extent of my exposure to that stuff.

But I digress.

I knew how legendary Ziggy was as an album and how it has been a huge influence on many other bands. There's a great quote in the liner notes for the 30th edition from a radio 1 announcer who says "I haven't enough years left ahead of me to give a comprehensive list of bands and artists inspired and influenced by Bowie. It's easier to name those who haven't! So here goes: Lighthouse Family...Puddle of Mudd...Dire Straits...Bob Marley and the Wailers...and The Rutles. There - I think that about covers it!"

So, anyways, what I didn't know about Ziggy was just how absolutely fabulous the whole thing is! I've been listening to it everywhere I go lately and it's just a spectacular album. There isn't a single song on the whole thing that makes me think, "mmmm...no."

And even better, I went to see The Life Aquatic the other night and the damn thing was almost completely underscored by old Bowie tunes, so it's like there's some sort of universal Bowie convergence going on for me.

I think I just might go out and grab Hunky Dory, then work my way up from Ziggy and do the catalogue properly, now.

New project, yay!

So that's my post for the day. Maybe catch you again later!

mike

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Bwa-Ha-Ha!

I just read this article on WENN about the show CSI and the unrealistic expectations for forensic scientists the show has generated in the public mind.

I've never been a fan of the Jerry Bruckheimer produced show, and after watching one episode of Miami and one episode of Las Vegas, I have to say that I doubt I'm missing anything really important. My taste for forensic pathologist stories leans more towards shows like Millennium rather than the very flashy and stylish CSI, anyways.

'Til next post...

mike

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Insomnia

So my wife asks me if I can help her with this booklet that she's editing for work. She wants me to take a look at it, proofread it and see if the thing has any flow to it. The worry is that, after being tinkered with by 'the boss', it's just a tangle of information squashed into 30 or 40 pages that nobody who is not an economics grad can hope to understand.

Anyway, this project sounds like no big deal so I sign on willingly. I figure it wil take an hour or so of work so what the hell, right? Well, a couple of fights with the wife/editor and an all-nighter later, the task is done.

I'm still feeling the after effects of that all-nighter, and in it's defense, the booklet wasn't the sole thing I was working on that night. When I got bored of working on it I moved from her laptop to my computer to play with my own stuff for a while, so part ofit is my own fault. Still, I've been kind of woozy for a day and a half now and I'm thinking I need to try and take a nap or something soon because I'm noticing myself slipping behind on a lot of things - like this blog, for instance!

I've been doing some reading and trying to gear myself up for more writing, so I'll probably have something to talk about in the coming days. Right now, though, I think I'm gonna surf the 'net for a while and go lie down.

mike

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Constantine a Troubled Film

Anybody who has read my Blog in the last month or so knows that I was really looking forward to the new Constantine film adapting the Vertigo comic book not of the same name. I actually managed to catch the movie on opening day but got busy and away from the computer for the last couple of days, so I haven't posted my thoughts on it just yet - something I'll rectify post haste.

Where to begin?

The story was..I hate to say it...a really Americanized version of Hellblazer. Now, that doesn't mean that, as a rule, American's can't write for British characters. Brian Azzarello's run of Hellblazer was just as good as many of the other writers on the book, but when John heads into battle against evil forces with a shotgun that shoots blessed bullets or some such nonsense...I don't even want to go there.

After watching the film, I couldn't help but think of how I would have done things differently. All the ingredients were right there on the screen, I just think they got mixed together wrong. Kind of like when you're supposed to gently stir the eggs before you make an omelet and not beat the crap out of them, you know?

I mean, so many of the original elements from the comic book would have transferred effortlessly on to the screen, and probably saved them some money on SFX to boot. The mood of the comic book was more...creepy than noirish. The big bad was more...unseen than seen. The feeling of impending doom, or at least of general discomfort, was always more palpable in the pages of the comic book than what ended up in this film. Also, it was John's knowledge of what went on behind the scenes and his willingness to exploit those things to achieve his ends that made him an interesting anti-hero. Con-Job was one of his nicknames in the comic book, and I never saw that element of the character here. John was too busy playing the roving exorcist and occult detective to really stick it to the powers that be, I guess.

Anyway, as much as I hate to admit it, I should also point out that Keanu may have been miscast in the role of John Constantine. That's not saying he couldn't have done it, but the choices he made for the character could have been better as he tried to play up the Raymond Chandler, film noir aspect of the film and character rather than just delivering the lines. There was a point where I thought to myself, "if he does that arm jerk and flicks that lighter closed one more time I'm gonna scream!" On the plus side, I've heard a lot of critics say they didn't think Keanu looked the part, but I thought that the look of the character was fine (even though my wife thought he dressed too well for our John). Small comfort, I know.

In its defense, I don't think it was a bad movie, I just dont think it really lived up to its potential. I had no problem with bringing the character and story to LA, but the film should have been more parts The Exorcist than it was Exorcist: The Beginning. You know, less of a "ooo, bugs are creepy and demonic and I'm gonna give the finger to Satan because I'm too cool to care" kind of movie, and more of a "Holy sh** what the hell was that!?!" kind of thing.

You know, now that I think about it, I'd actually be curious to see the screenplay or read the novelisation of the film to see how things started off before passing through the hands of of Francis Lawrence and crew.

I'm going to try and catch it again either as a second run film or on DVD where I can see the stuff they took out with the character of Ellie who doesn't appear in the film but whose scenes were shot. Might spruce things up or change the pace. Who knows.

I would say that Constantine is a cheap night movie, second run thetre experience, or wait for video if you're really sceptical.

mike

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Comic Book Cavalcade 3

Here's the third in an ongoing series (just tell me when you get sick to death of them)...



JLA: Classified #4 by Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire/Rubenstein (DC Comics)

What else can I say to this book but "Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!"

Cliched, sure, but totally accurate. I spent more time laughing while reading this book than I have with any other comic book in a looong time. Possibly since the first issue of Formerly Known As...

In various interviews, Giffen has said that this series is a big thank you to all of us, giving the fans everything they wanted from these old characters, and I think they are off to a great start. It's a total nostalgia trip for those of us who loved the madness 20 years ago (oh my Lord, did I just say 20 years!?!?!) and I can't see it not being entertaining for new readers just jumping on - as long as they show up with their senses of humour intact. The creative team's love for these characters and for this style of storytelling just drips off the pages.

And as for the art, Kevin Maguire outdoes himself in so many ways with this first ish. Watch for the Batman bobble-head on the desk in the Super Buddies office or the little logos indicating who's cubicle is who's? Add that to the usual collection of the best facial expressions this side of Steve Rude and Adam Hughes (remember his run on JL?) and you've got yourself a visual feast. And there's 5 more issues to go!

Boo-Yeah!

A slight digression: I got a big kick out of a typo near the end of the book where Max incorrectly refers to Richard Hertz as Mr. Willing. Keith has told me in the past that the original name for the characetr was intended to be Richard Willing (but, please, call me Dick) but was changed for whatever reason to the less obvious (!?!) Richard Hertz. This little editorial slip up was one of the bigger laughs for me in "This Guy, This Gardner", but not for any story related reasons. I just thought I would share.

So, in conclusion, despite some cosmetic changes to the characters' appearance, the JL we know and love are back in full swing, and when you hit that last page, you'll blurt out your own bwa-ha-ha even though you know exactly what's coming. This is the swan song, so reserve your copies today because when they're gone, they're gone (unless you're going to get the trade, that is).

Check out a 7 page preview of the first chapter here.



Teen Titans Go! #14 by J. Torres, Todd Nauck & Larry Stucker (DC Comics)

I love the animated series this book is based on, so naturally when it first came out I had to pick it up. TTG! had some bumpy periods early on with fill-in artists and writers who kind of broke up the flow, but somewhere around issue 10 it seems to have found it's stride. J. Torres does a pretty good job of bringing the characters voices from the show to the comic book page, and while the stories are short and sweet (all self-contained) they follow the same basic format so it's hard to really screw these things up (although the animated JL books seem to do it all the time...duh).

Todd Nauck's art was a home run from the first issue. You always know you're going to get a quality product when you see his name on the cover (at least when it's on a TTG! cover, I don't know Todd's other work, really). His grasp of what makes these characters so...well, for lack of a better word...animated is what makes this book work. So many other artists have tried to do the animated style books but just couldn't pull them off. Some guys just know how, I guess, and Nauck is somewhere in the top 20%.

This particular issue brings Speedy into the comic book fold. The apprentice of Green Arrow has appeared on the TV series before, but never between the covers of TTG!. It's a simple yarn, courtesy of Torres and Nauck, where the Titans have to learn to work together in order to take down Plasmus, who's wreaking havoc in a toxic waste dump somewhere. Sure it sounds kind of simple, but it is fun in its simplicity. Reminds you of those old sixties comics where the moster would appear, and be gone by issue's end. No muss, no fuss. Just good solid storytelling.

Of late, I had been stockpiling issues of TTG! for some reason, doing the buy but not read thing for a few months, so I was actually going to pull this title off my pull list, but after reading #14 (not to mention going back to the longbox and rereading most of the run) I'm going to keep it on there.

mike

Friday, February 18, 2005

Mercury Studio(s) Article

I just ran across this great article on the Mercury Studio group out of Portland, that includes folks like Jeff Parker, Karl Kesel, Drew Johnson & Steve Lieber to name but a few.

Stories like this remind me of how much I'd love to check out Portland someday.

Check it out!

mike

Gods & Monsters

Here's a link to the Sin City movie site if you haven't checked it out yet. I was never a big fan of the comics, but I like Rodriguez when he's 'on', so I'll likely check this movie out. Very stylized and it looks like a decent cast so it could actually work. We'll see, I guess.

Also, I should point out (since I've been so quiet on the topic of late) that today Constantine opens in North America - Woo-Hoo! I've read many reviews and they seem pretty happy with the movie, although I've seen some really scathing ones as well. The telling bit about the scathing ones is that only some of the reviewers actually hated Keanu in the role, the others liked him but hated the movie as a whole, so...I dunno. It could still go either way, I guess. I'll probably see it Sunday since I'm not going to be able to make it tonight after all.

I'll post a review when I do.

mike

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Comic Book Cavalcade 2

The second in a now semi-regular feature here at Meanwhile... The Blog.



Ghostbusters: Legion by Andrew Dabb, Steve Kurth & Serge LaPointe (88MPH Studios)

I am a Ghostbusters fan from waaaaaaay back, so I was skeptical when I first heard about this particular '80s revival. After seeing the way other revivals like He-Man, Thundercats, Micronauts and G.I. Joe had been handled by other companies, I believed there was definitely cause to worry. I did not want to see the Ghostbusters reimagined, or modernised for a newer, hipper audience, I wanted to revisit Venkman, Stanz, Spengler and Zeddemore in their prime, busting ghosts, cracking jokes and having fun.

Looking back on it now 4 issues later, my fears were completely unfounded.

The creative team of Dabb & Kurth were superbly picked for this project. It's rare that I see a writer and an artist take a licensed property and just...slip into that world and continue the franchise as if there was no interruption whatsoever. As far as I was concerned, "Legion" seamlessly picked up 6 months after the first movie and took the characters logically through a post-Gozer world. Not only did they do their homework, but these guys must have been tapping into the same creative vein that Ramis and Ayckroyd were when they came up with the idea in the first place. High praise? Indeed.

I also have to give the creators extra credit for doing their level best to include not only designs and concepts from the 2 feature films, but from the animated series as well. The animated series is important to so many GB fans, and the nods were noticed and appreciated.

For anyone who's going to read "Legion", I'll avoid giving away plot points and just say that the story itself is a solid read, enriching the established continuity without stepping on any toes. The upcoming monthly may have some trouble with that on a regular basis, but the mini stays well below the proverbial fanboy radar for anyone worried about GB canon. There's a new villain, a secret from the Ghostbuster's past that returns to bite them in the behind, and an army of ghosts wreaking havoc in New York.

Classic GB fun.

The four issues are being collected in a collector’s edition hardcover which will be packed with material, including; all four issues of the “Legion” mini-series, the twelve page San Diego Comic-Con 2004 Exclusive “The Zeddemore Factor” short story, in color for the first time, never before seen characters case studies, and a preface by Ghostbusters co-creator Dan Aykroyd! The pre-order deadline is March 1st.

mike

Hey, Joe!

Always happy to point out when there are interviews out there with some of my favourite creators.

Today you can check out a short but sweet Joe Sacco interview by clicking through here.

Enjoy!

mike

Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium

I ran across this article on the National Post website today. I was initially lured in by the reference to one of my favourite strips of all time, Krazy Kat, but quickly discovered that what was being talked about was a potentially interesting new book called, Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium.

The book is basically just a bunch of literary figures extolling the virtues of comic strips in essays that have been collected together for the first time under one set of covers. Now, this does sound like it might be a great little book to pick up and skim through sometime, so be sure to click through and read the article. It's worth at least trying to pique your curiosity.

In a medium where the concept of commercial and artistic legitemacy hangs heavy on the minds of thse who work in it, as well as those of us who follow it, Arguing Comics may be just the pick-me-up we need.

mike

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Wight Noise

Eric Wight is a great artist, a swell guy, and featured in an interview on the USA Today.com site, of all places, because of his work that was used on Fox's The O.C.

I like to give a shout out to Eric and whatever he's up to whenever I can, so consider yourselves informed!

mike

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Comic Book Cavalcade

I'm back with more reviews of books that I purchased and read this week. I don't plan to make a regular thing of this because there are so many (and I mean, so many) people out there doing this already, and so much better than me, but we'll see how it goes. If I really enjoy it or there's a positive reaction to it, I'll likely keep up with it. So, without further ado...
Planetary #22 by Ellis/Cassaday (DC/Wildstorm)

To say I enjoyed this issue is like saying that rain is wet. There have been two books written by Warren Ellis where he could do no wrong for me: Planetary and Transmetropolitan. Add the blisteringly gorgeous pencils of John Cassaday and you have yourselves a bona fide modern classic.

In this issue, Warren and John give us their take on The Lone Ranger who, in the Wildstorm universe, is reimagined as The Dead Ranger. The Ranger's story ties into that of William Leather who is one of The Four who have been captured by Snow and Planetary, and is being tortured by Snow while he relates the tale you're reading to his captor.

Confusing? Only if you haven't read the last 21 issues.

This story doesn't really further the overarching plot much but it's a fun read nonetheless. Ellis and Cassaday have said that the series will be extended a couple of issues, and I think it is to allow stories like this one to be told without disrupting the pacing they've established through previous arcs.

This issue is also kind of cool because I believe it is partially the brainchild of Cassaday who told me in a recent interview I did with him:

CASSADAY: That particular issue came from a conversation Warren and I had about what genres we hadn't tackled and I threw out the idea of the Western story. A specific Western story. That's all you get, I'm afraid. It's one I'm tremendously looking forward to.

Because of the nature of the story, this issue could probably even be read as a standalone, to get a flavour of what the series has to offer. There are no real big bangs or 'You must see this ending' type hooks, but if you dig what you see between these covers, you'll definitely want to go back and hunt down the stories you've missed up 'til this point.

Hmmm...that's all I got in me for today. I'll post some more tomorrow, I think.

mike

Brando Speaks From The Grave

I thought this was an interesting little bit of info regarding the upcoming Godfather game from Electronic Arts. I had no idea that there was an upcoming Godfather game, and I'm scratching my head trying to figure out who decided we needed a game based on Mario Puzo's and Francis Ford Coppola's gangster epic, but who am I to argue with EA's licensing group.

James "Las Vegas" Caan is lending his voice to the game, as is Robert frickin Duvall, who totally refused to appear in the third film for reasons I can't remember (probably financial knowing Hollywood) but finds the virtues of video games enough of a lure to reprise his role. The big shocker in this news bit for me was finding out that Brando had actually done some voice over work for the folks at EA before he died, and left them permission to use it as they see fit. Kind of creepy, kind of cool.

You be the judge.

mike


More Galactica From Moore & Crew

I've known about this for a while now since I've been watching and monitoring the reimagined Battlestar Galactica as it aired on SkyOne in the UK, but since the US and Canadian airings have only reached epsiode 4 or 5, I figured it's appropriate to mention the shows 'official' announcement of a second season renewal. It's actually just another 6 eps, but the show's like the highest rated show on Sci-Fi, so I see more episodes coming down the pipe whatever the word seems to be.

Personally, this is my new favourite show on TV. The intensity of the stories, the way it's shot, the actors cast, the scripts written...they all just sort of blend together to make what I truly believe to be some of the best sci-fi to ever hit the tube.

If you haven't checked this show out because of the cheesy '70s version, shame on you. You're missing out.

mike

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Constantly Constantine

Keeping up with the coverage on the new flick Constantine (which has opened in Asia already, but is still 9 days away for us) there's a great interview with Keanu over at the Dark Horizons site which, I believe, comes from the press conference after the premiere or a sneak preview or something.

One of my..no, I'd have to say this one is my fave interview with 'Canoe' so far on the subject.



mike

Canadians are Dull Lovers?

There are times where the quiet, polite Canadian image goes a bit too far, I think, like in this poll that was recently taken by the makers of K-Y products.

This has a head shake factor of 7.5.

mike

Angel of IDW

Finally some words and pictures regarding the new Angel mini-series coming from IDW called "The Curse". Check it out here.

SBC's Markisan Naso also interviews writer Jeff Mariotte on the mini here.

It's so weird that DHC lost the license for Angel, but not Buffy. I'll have to ask them about that.

mike

Updating the Dispatch

It may be of little interest for non-Keith Giffen fans, but I've just this very second updated The Daily Dispatch, a Giffen related newslist, with some new interview material, news and release dates for upcoming Giffen books.

Since I did say at the beginning of my blogging experience that I would mention any website updates that I made, I figured...what the hell.

Check it out if you're a Giffen fan or curious about The Defenders, Hero Squared, I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League and any of his other projects.

mike

Comic Swag

I hit my LCS this weekend and picked up a handful of tasty fun comics. Since I've switched to the monthly trip - as opposed to the weekly, or sometimes daily trip down - when I do manage to find some comics I'm excited about, it is a pretty cool thing for me.

I'll probably post reviews or something once I get them all read and everything, but here's a list just to whet the appetite (cuz I know you're all on the edge of your seats, aren't ya!?!)...

Bear #1 by Jaimie Smart (SLG)
Flaming Carrot Comics #1 by Bob Burden (Image)
Planetary #22 by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday (DC/Wildstorm)
Astonishing X-Men #7 by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday (Marvel)

And I also got a Comics Journal there, too. Can't remember the number but it had an interview with Ed Brubaker in it - looked decent. October/November issue, I think.

Anyways, that's it for me for now. Be back with another scintillating post - same bat time, same bat channel!

mike


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Johnny Demonic

Ha!

I get a kick out of that. First time I saw that name used in relation to Keanu's new flick, Constantine, was in this article here.

While I know they can screw this film up royally, and we'll never know until Feb. 18th, I have to say that I am eagerly anticipating this adaptation of the DC Comics character. Possibly moreso than any other comic-related film of the last couple of years if what I've seen in the trailers, and the stills, and the interviews (which I've been following pretty closely) are any sort of basis for judgement on the film.

Loyal fans of the series predictably howled in consternation at the defiling of Constantine’s origins. And there were other challenges. First-time director Francis Lawrence was music video guy until he came on board for Constantine.. Even Reeves had reservations about bringing in an acolyte of MTV.

I know a lot of people are complaining about the changes, but it sounds to me like they have come up with a nice riff on the character and his world. Granted, I am also am one of the few people I know who actually does enjoy watching Keanu (ever since seeing The Matrix back in '99) so I'm likely to be more forgiving since I'm rarely fazed by the 'wooden' acting of Mr. Reeves.


Anyways, it's a 10 day countdown from today, so you'll probably be hearing more about Our John in that time until I can get an actual review of the film up. It's anybody's guess which way it'll go but I'm crossing my fingers.

mike

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Outbreak

Hey there...

Spent most of my weekend fighting off a computer worm and some malware on my computer so I'm not really in the mood to spend any more time on the computer than I have to.

Damn thing still isn't completely disinfected, but I'm done. Going to go watch TV or read some comics or something.

mike

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Lost In Translation

So I'm in a funk, feelin' moody and trying to figure out what to do with myself when I spy my brother's copy of Lost In Translation that I've had on my shelf for the last...I dunno...5 months. I decided to pop it in because, come on, when you're in a funk what we all really want is more gasoline for the fire to burn that mood down to the ground until it's nothing but smoldering ashes, right? And from everything I've heard about the film, it sounded like it was just the thing to do the job.

The movie sat somewhere between exactly what I expected and nothing like what I thought it would be, and I appreciated it more for it. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson put in two fine and very real performances and Sofia Coppola proves once again that she is a better writer/director than she ever was an actor. I mean, that ending she pulled off? That was just sweet - and if you saw the movie and liked it, you know what I'm talking about.

I just loved how quiet this movie is, and so lonely and so sentimental. I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff, it just pulls me in. It's like full immersion viewing for me. Lost in Translation just left a real impression and I look forward to when I get the opportunity to watch it again. A movie this nuanced can only get better the more times you watch it.

I should also give a special shout out to the music underscoring Coppola's movie, particularly the lush and ethereal music courtesy of Kevin Shields. I'm hooked on "City Girl" at the moment which, I think, is track 2 on the soundtrack if my memory isn't completely failing me at the moment.

Hmmm...Maybe I should see if my brother has the soundtrack, too.

mike

Friday, February 04, 2005

R.I.P. - John Vernon & Ossie Davis

It's kind of weird and very sad that so many blog posts of late are death announcements - Eisner, Carson, the list goes on. Someone (I think it was Will Pfeiffer) even said that, to him, it felt like his blog activities had become more like obituary writing than anything else, and it is for that reason that I have tried to stay away from getting caught up in that (especially when so many others are saying it so much better than I).

I'm gonna break that rule for one post (we'll take it on a case by case basis from here on out, k?) because I have just caught wind of two deaths in the industry this week, and considering my previous Batman post, I figured I'd start in by saying a hearty goodbye to actor John Vernon who died Tuesday at the age of 72.

Although most people remember him for his portrayal of Dean Wormer in Animal House, I remember him for his voicework. John lent his voice to many animated series over the course of his career, and I was always a fan of his Rupert Thorne on Batman the Animated Series. He was there right in very the beginning of the show and continued to play the character right up until the last STV feature, Mystery of the Batwoman.

Another sad loss this week was that of Ossie Davis, who was found dead in his hotel room - he was 87. Ossie wore many hats over the course of his life. He was an accomplished actor, writer and director and, if I'm not mistaken, I seem to remember hearing that he was also very involved with the civil rights movement. The article I linked to a line or two ago referred to him as a true renaissance man, and I think that term is a fitting one.

The last thing I saw Ossie in was the brilliant Bubba Ho-Tep opposite another fine actor, Bruce Campbell. The two were great together, and Ossie's performance as John F. Kennedy was memorable, to say the least.

mike

The Batman Strikes Back!

I'm right in the middle of watching the last three episodes of Warner Bros. new animated Batman series, The Batman. I had some trouble getting into the earlier episodes - the first 10 episodes, to be perfectly honest - mostly because of some of the revisions they made to Batman's rogues gallery. Characetrs like Scarface, Mr. Freeze, The Penguin and even The Joker are pretty strong departures from what we've come to expect from, not only their comic book incarnations, but their animated ones as well.

There's something about these last three eps, though, that just has me, officially, hooked on the show. It's like the storytelling that made the previous animated Batman so strong and amazing has finally seeped into this series and taken off like a bullet train. The final scene in the season finale "Clayface of Tragedy" just had me excited to be watching again. It was all character bits and nuanced and well done. I don't know if the writer, Greg Weisman, or the episode's director is to credit with that, but it works. Bats is now my fave animated DC show next to the Teen Titans, so I say bring on season 2 anytime, WB. Bring on The Batman!

The comic version of the show is also showing some promise as of issue #4. Up until now, every Batman comic series based in/on the animated universe has been a must buy/must read sort of thing but that changed with the launch of The Batman Strikes! The artwork is great, and really captures the look of the show, but the stories have tended to be dull and formulaic (not unlike the television series, I guess), and have featured many of the characters from the first episodes of the show. Now that I think about it, that could have been at the root of my problem with The Batman Strikes!

Another plus of the comics are the covers by Jeff Matsuda which are to die for! I'm including a pic of the 6th issue's cover down below as an example. Looking forward to this ish...



mike

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Enterprise's End

Check out this link for the gory details.

I guess we now know how long you can make a show that's only so-so last, no matter what its legacy.

mike

The Métis Rebel & The Jew

Hey everyone...

I've got a couple of words to say about a couple of recent TPBs that I've read, so here goes...


LOUIS RIEL by Chester Brown (Drawn & Quarterly, 2003)


I must say that the prospect of reading this book on this particular figure of history didn't exactly rev me up, but I had read so many good reviews of Brown's exploration of Riel's life and times that I figured it would be worth a shot. I actually live in Saskatchewan where the Riel Rebellion essentially came to a close, and it would not be a stretch to say that up until reading this book, I was sick to death of hearing about this part of our local history. All through grade school we learned about Riel and Dumont, and we went to Batoche, I think, once a year - or at least it seemed that way - to watch the Mounties do their thing on the horses and to get heat stroke from being out in the hot open prairie for too long before wearing hats to protect you from the sun and drinking water to rehydrate you were fashionable.

Now, considering the East/West cultural divide in my country, it's not surprising that there would be such interest here in a regular Joe, a Métis, who could be such a pain in the collective arse for the East and the Federal government, but the story just never had much resonance for me. Chester Brown has managed to change that, however, over the course of his 240 page book. The story moves quickly and does not get bogged down in too many explanations of events, or trying to capture precisely for the reader what it must have been like in Manitoba or Saskatchewan in the 19th century. Brown is here to tell us about the life of Riel, and he accomplishes that efficiently and in an entertaining way.

The Little Orphan Annie influence to his style for this project also adds something that I haven't been able to put my finger on just yet, but the simplicity and clarity of his linework truly helps to augment the storytelling.

Time Magazine called this book one of the Top 10 of 2000 which is great (although in my opinion a little bit of an exaggeration) but it is definitely worth hunting down and checking out if you're looking for something different to read.


FAGIN THE JEW by Will Eisner (Randomhouse/Doubleday, 2003)


I am a HUGE fan of Will Eisner, but I have to say that after reading this book I don't feel as though I can rightly give it my endorsement (as if that's worth anything). Considering recent developments regarding the late, great sequential artist, I know it will be like unto heresy to say that, but I truly just couldn't find the hook that would carry me through the books 174 odd pages.

The book tells the story of Fagin the Jew, a character in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, and the purpose of it is to go between the lines of the Dickens classic and shed some light on this unscrupulous character. Eisner hoped that by doing this he could enlighten people to the popular stereotypes of Jews in literature and help them to look beyond that stereotype and see the human being instead of the label - a strong theme in much of Eisner's work, a man of Jewish faith himself.

I found that, at times, Eisner's fairy-tale-like style of storytelling kind of got in the way a bit, here. While the artwork is stunningly beautiful and his use of crisp figures and washes in the backgrounds did a marvelous job of creating a rich environment for his characters to exist in, the jumping back and forth between Dickens' tale and the one that Eisner was trying to tell just didn't blend very well in my eyes. I think I would have been more interested if Oliver Twist was less of a central character in the latter half of the book, but knowing Eisner and his love of stories, there may have been an ulterior motive in mind, possibly to get you to go out and read some Dickens as well!

I think if the story focused on Fagin and had him dip in and out of Oliver Twist's world rather than try to integrate them, it would have been a far more effective book. As it stands, it looks great and has some great stuff in it, but as a whole I just can't say it takes my breath away or that I will seek it out again someday.

Hmmm...that's it for this time. I'd be interested to hear comments from anyone who may have opinions on these books, so feel free to do so.

I'll probably be back later with another post, so maybe see you then!

mike

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Spank Your Monkey!

I couldn't help but link to this when I saw it. And this commentary from the SG site is just gold.

I think I'm also becoming quite addicted to their interview section. Daniel Robert Epstein does most of them, as far as I can tell, and I really like his stuff. It's brief, but he manages to cover a lot of ground and get to the meat and potatoes of the interview without dilly-dallying.

There's also just an amazing group of people bieng put under the hot lamps on this site. Ewan McGregor, Bronwen Hughes, Bill Murray, Simon Pegg & Nick Frost, Ray Harryhausen, Alan Moore, Seth, Audrey Tautou and a slew of other authors, bands, cartoonists, publishers, filmmakers and actors.

And that's without even mentioning the naked goth chicks elsewhere on the site...

mike

More Wonderfalls Stuff and Screw-On Head News

Kind of on a Wonderfalls buzz with the DVDs out (getting them today!) and the webcast yesterday. I ran across a great interview with show creator Bryan Fuller on the Suicide Girls website. Bryan talks about his two shows (the other being the Showtime series Dead Like Me) and the animated Screw-On Head series he's working on with comic legend, Mike Mignola.

Forget all that Paul Greengrass does Watchmen news, check this interview out! It's good stuff, and if you've ever read Screw-On Head, you just know this is going to be a fun show.

Gotta fly. Be back later. Enjoy.

mike

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Wonder Why the Wonderfalls?

I've had kind of an interesting evening.

Just as I was preparing supper for the family unit, I stumbled across a news bit on Sci-Fi Wire referring to an online chat with the cast and crew of Wonderfalls that was supposed to happen on the 1st of February. The whole thing was a promotional event celebrating the release of the show on DVD and just about everybody was supposed to be on hand to interact with the fans.

So, being the curious bloke that I am, I clicked through to see if my ability to interpret time zones was still functioning and, as it turned out, I was just in time to catch the webcast.

Caroline Dhavernas, William Sadler, Tyron Leitso, Tracie Thoms, Lee Pace, Bryan Fuller, Todd Holland and others gathered for the event, which I believe was sponsored by the wonderful www.savewonderfalls.com website. Dhavernas, Sadler and Pace were beamed in from New York, Tracie Thoms was calling in from San Francisco and the rest of the gang were hanging out in LA.

I think it's great that so many of the cast and crew were available for this. A DVD launch is not usually something that draws out the talent to confab with the internet savvy fan base, but the folks involved with the show still have such a strong connection to the series, as well as each other. They were a very close-knit group and they obviously enjoyed working with each other because they seemed to love playing together as well. And I guess there was even going to be more of them present, but Tim Minear, Wonderfalls' showrunner, was shooting a new pilot that featured a couple of the ex-cast members, so they were unable to attend.

As a fan of the show, it was very cool that managed to get a question in to the group. When you're doing one of these online chat things, it's not always easy to get a word in amidst the chaos, but this was a very well organised WebEx Meeting and the people attending were great. Kudos to everyone involved.

A much appreciated, and needed, tribute to the show.

If you haven't checked out the show, do so a.s.a.p., you won't regret it. And while you're at it, check out the savewonderfalls website, there's some cool stuff there to browse through.

I'm probably going to pick up my DVD set tomorrow afternoon while the kids are off at school. Gonna have to set aside some DVD time this week, I think.



mike

4 Colour Films

Rachel Weisz says a few brief words about the upcoming (and in these parts, anticipated) adaptation of DC Comics' John Constantine: Hellblazer.

And Sci-Fi Wire has this bit from Alan Cumming commenting on how not sorry he is that Singer will not return to helm the third X-Film.

mike