Thursday, January 20, 2011

Directors Meme Who's Who #2

Continuing my Directors thoughts, I tackle #2 on my list:

David Fincher

I've loved the guy's stuff since Alien 3 and he's made very few missteps along the way. His music videos are generally exceptional and the guy worked for ILM on return of the Jedi. He gets some cool points for that right there. In fact, because of his experience behind the camera he is highly skilled in front of the camera. He can do light and shoot and design effects like Cameron are known for because he's done the job before, although he does seem like less of an asshole while doing it. He is one of the finest American directors out there with a subtle yet unmistakable visual style. He has an ability to draw out fantastic performances from his actors and chooses occasionally odd, but always compelling, subject matter.

He's also developing The Goon for animation, so watch for that to hopefully happen in the future.

mike

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Directors Meme Who's Who #1

I mentioned last time that I would do a brief thing on each director I put into my 15 Director list, so I'm back to do a little blurb on each of them. I'll do them in order of appearance and I won't necessarily do more than one at a time, mostly because I'm lazy but also to give me a moment to reflect on the why before committing it to the ol' blog. Also, the order of the list is totally random. To start with:

Ridley Scott

I don't remember the first Scott film I saw but I think it was Blade Runner, and I'm thinking that because I was a huge Harrison Ford fan for years. I also wasn't allowed to watch Alien for the longest time because it was supposed to be horrifying, so I stayed away from that movie until I got wise. I don't think I need to tell anyone what I got from Blade Runner and how it changed the way I looked at movies. Everything from the story to the visual style just made such an impression. All the smoke and neon and retro-future design was intoxicating even for a young 11 or 12 year-old who probably didn't understand what about this stuff was blowing his mind. I remember loving Black Rain and still remember Andy Garcia's death scene in that one. 1492 had some issues but even in a period piece Scott managed to pull off that neon/sodium light glow using natural light sources. His movies were visually dense and more commercial and accessible than Gilliam or Lynch to a young cinema enthusiast. I think Scott made me think a little more about what I was looking at and why, and created in me an expectation for the filmmakers I would follow throughout my days.

Cheers!

mike

Monday, January 17, 2011

15 Directors Meme

This is a meme I picked up from the website Secure Immaturity and thought I would play along.

List off the first 15 directors that come to your head that have shaped the way you look at movies. You know, the ones that will always stick with you. Don’t take too long to think about it.

These are mine:

Ridley Scott
David Fincher
Steven Spielberg
Darren Aronofsky
Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Wim Wenders
Orson Welles
Andrew Niccol
Steven Soderbergh
Edgar Wright
Cameron Crowe
Sam Raimi
Terry Gilliam
Luc Besson
Christopher Nolan

I'd also like to give Jonathan Glazer an honourable mention. He just missed the cut.

If I get a moment I'll come back in and 'talk' briefly about each director and how they changed the way I look at films. I also look forward to seeing what anybody else might come up with.

Cheers!

Mike

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Counterfifth Detective

I think 100 Bullets was in it's late twenties or early thirties when 'The Counterfifth Detective' storyline rolled in, and for whatever reason, I stopped buying and reading the series at that point. It was probably a money decision, or I missed an issue and my store didn't have it and the completist in me made me stop buying it until I found it. Either way, it ended my relationship with the book several years ago and I haven't read an issue since.

Now that the series is over I've kind of had thoughts of revisiting it. I've always liked the series. Azzarello was one of my first interview gigs, too, talking to me for FEARSMag sometime before the first year was up. It's what started me on the book, to be honest.

So, I'm at the library and I'm picking out some books and movies to take home when I run across the collected 'Counterfifth Detective' and I think to myself, "why not?". I bring it home, I finished reading it today, and I'm a little surprised at how clich├ęd it was in plot and dialogue. I don't remember the book being quite that 'on the button', for lack of a better word, with all the noir tropes and catchy dialogue. I can't remember, for the life of me, but was the whole run like this from the beginning? There were some interesting elements to the story, and the artwork by Eduardo Risso was beautiful, as always, but something here missed the mark for me.

I'm certainly going to continue grabbing the trades and finishing the story to the end, I'm just a bit non-plussed regarding my reentry into the series. Here's to Book 6, I guess.

Later!

mike

Friday, January 14, 2011

Reading Some Greek Street

Typical that just before I decided that I did, indeed, enjoy Peter Milligan's latest creator-owned offering, Greek Street, I find out that it has been cancelled as of its 16th issue. Not sure how long ago that was but it's been a bit. I seem to have a history of being attached in some way to books that don't survive. I'm a walking, talking, cancelled comics cavalcade, you might say.

Anyway, I grabbed the first collected edition of GS at my local library thinking, "I'm going to give this book another chance", and found myself really enjoying the heck out of it the second time around. I'm still not overly familiar with the Greek tragedies that the stories and characters are based on, but the stories in the first 5 or 6 issues was compelling enough for me to ignore that fact. Add to that the beautiful artwork of Davide Gianfelice and you have a comic book that was definitely unappreciated in its time. From what I've read in interviews with Milligan, he really hoped this would be another long-term project and he had a lot of stories to tell.

As it is, there are 16 issues of the series and I have yet to read 10 or 11 of them, so at least I have that to look forward to. I'm also able to continue enjoying Milligan's writing over on John Constantine: Hellblazer, so it's not like I'll be going without his particular brand of storytelling month in and month out.

I do recommend checking out Greek Street, though, if you haven't already. It's definitely not for everyone, but it may tickle your fancy.

Later.

mike

Friday, January 07, 2011

I Heart Jenn...Grant, That Is

One of my favourite artist discoveries of the last couple of years is the lovely and amazingly talented, Jenn Grant. I can't say enough about how great I think her stuff is, how amazing she is live, and the fact that her newest album, due out on January 11th from Six-Shooter Records, is streaming live for anyone curious enough to check it out at CBC3's blog here.

I'll be shilling this thing for months, I'm sure, on all my social media outlets, so check it out if you want to know what the heck it is I'm talking about.

Hope it gives you as much of a buzz as it gives me.

Later!

Image is totally cribbed from CBC3's site.

mike

The Indiana Jones Comic Book Revue #6

All books are rated on a 0 to 5 Fedoras system.

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #7
(Marvel Comics Group)

Plot/Script by: David Michelinie
Pencilled by: Kerry Gammill
Inked by: Sam de la Rosa
Cover by: Kerry Gammill

"Guess I'd better switch to 'Plan B'. Playin' it by ear!"

Dateline 1936

"Africa Screams!" begins with an adventure in medias res. Indy has infiltrated a monastery in France to retrieve a summoning stone that was stolen from the National Museum by a man named McIver who deals in the trafficking of ancient artifacts. He uses the monastery to house them and transports them in wine barrels so they go unseen by the authorities. Indy is wise to their scheme and, in the process, runs afoul of McIver who gets the drop on Indy and sounds the alarm. A chase ensues where Indy evades McIver's men, steals a truck and gets away, traveling back to Connecticut and home.

There he meets with Marcus Brody who points out that the rock Indy recovered was wrapped in a piece of paper that Indy grabbed, and that paper happens to be a rare map which may show the location of the lost tribe of the Shintay, an offshoot group of Atlanteans who fled the continent. It appears that they may be located in the Congo and Brody tells Indy he will have to leave at once since time will be of the essence.

Marion Ravenwood re-enters the picture as she was 'hiding' in the room during Indy's discussion with Brody and insists on being taken along. Several days later the pair hit Western Africa and try to put together an expedition with some bearers but another group already came through and hired everyone in the small village for a similar expedition. Indy and Marion decide to go on alone and have some misadventures with the local wildlife until they meet up with the aforementioned group led by Dr. Curt Vogel.

Indy suspects this other group of also trying to find the Shintay and does some poking around the camp that night. He is discovered and the enemy is revealed as Vogel admits to being Colonel Vogel and that he is a Nazi. He has been working with McIver, who recognized Indy, and is about to eliminate Jones but is thwarted as Indy escapes, rounds up Marion and hides in a cave with her, waiting for the soldiers to leave before they double back to the camp and gather some supplies before continuing on their own.

Just then, from behind the two of them, a pair of eyes come out of the darkness and an animal growl can be heard...

This was another really good issue with all the right pacing, action and touches to make a proper Indiana Jones adventure. Surprisingly, all the characters from the film are very much in character and, if one really wanted to go there, this story could even be considered canon. I hope Michelinie manages to keep this style and quality of storytelling up for the duration of his run. If he does manage it, this will be a very enjoyable reviewing process for the foreseeable future. The artists, Kerry Gammill and Sam DeLaRosa, do an admirable job of creating a world that I can believe belongs to an Indiana Jones story. Their likenesses of the characters are quite good and their environments are nicely detailed and have a lot of texture. The storytelling is strong and Gammill moves things along at a nice pace, never letting the reader get lost either geographically or in the narrative. After several artist changes, good and bad, I hope this is the new creative team for a little while.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story and look forward to the follow up in #8.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Summing Up Saw

I often get funny looks from friends and family when I say that I genuinely enjoyed the first Saw film and appreciated the twist and cast in the second. Because of my overall distaste for 'torture porn', which seems to be the preference of horror fans of today, I went into each Saw film expecting it to be my last. I made a decision that each time I sat down to watch one of these things, if it tweaked me the wrong way, I was done with the series. And so, the third entry would be my last foray into the house that Leigh Wannell and James Wan built. By that point the whole idea seemed to get subverted by the sheer pleasure of showing people tortured and ripped to pieces in the most sadistic ways possible. The morality that Jigsaw seemed to be enforcing was no longer a concern to the new writers and directors.

I never expected to be posting on the Saw movies, especially so long after I've seen and given up on them, but this blog post on Secure Immaturity conjured up some residual feelings on the subject when the writer echoed my feelings on the franchise with this comment:

The Jigsaw Killer kind of has a point in the first film and maybe at the end of two but. . .by Saw VI the dude is just a pure sadist and we, as an audience, have to admit we have a little sadism in us to enjoy something so sick. I only like the third Saw because of this fact: it pushes my buttons and brings me to the line where I say ‘okay, enough is enough’.


Granted, he liked Saw III, but it's still nice to see that I'm not alone in my feelings.

Now, I will say that I'm mildly curious (and I stress mildly) to see the last installment because of Sean Patrick Flannery's involvement, but after seeing Boondock Saints II, I think even the fanboy pull I once had for SPF's stuff won't get me over the hump for this one.

Later!

mike

Trek Commentary in High-Def

As some of you may know, I bought Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan on BD for boxing day (along with a few other Trek movies) and part of the reason was to hear the new commentary track by director Nicholas Meyer and Enterprise executive producer, Manny Coto. I wasn't sure what to expect, seeing as how I had listened to the previous Meyer track done for the DVD release and the fact that I recently read his amazing autobiography, The View From the Bridge, and was a little worried that it would be a retread of everything I had heard or read previously. Meyer & Coto, however, do not disappoint and conduct a nice, informative discussion about the film, the franchise and the industry. Always nice to listen to anything new by Meyer & haven't heard Coto in a while.

Although it wasn't the new fan track, I also listened to the audio commentary on First Contact by Ron Moore and Brannon Braga and found it to be equally interesting and very interesting. Braga takes a lot of shit for 'ruining' Trek but listening to the guy on this track he comes off as very knowledgeable about the franchise, very willing to acknowledge what works and what doesn't in the film and the series, and I can't help but think that fandom should cut this guy some slack. I would be interested to hear or see more from this guy in some form or another. Maybe he should write a tell-all book about his experiences with the franchise like everyone from the original cast.

Moore, as always, is a commentary dream. He is incredibly frank, well-spoken, funny and a compelling creative force. I used to love listening to his Galactica podcasts and this track was different only in its polish (the podcasts were recorded on Moore's laptop in his home). I also loved the fact that Moore couldn't stop referring to the movie as an episode until Braga finally stepped in and called him on it. Considering he went from writing the series, to writing the finale "All Good Things", to the Generations movie and then First Conact in quick succession, I can't really blame him. In my opinion, all the Next Generation movies feel like episodes to me. Sue me.

I also explored the BD for VI but it was pretty unremarkable so I'm not going to elaborate on that here and I haven't even touched IV yet so I'll leave my commentary here.

Live Long and Prosper!

mike