Tuesday, April 30, 2013
It's safe to say that the films of Quentin Dupieux are not for everyone. I fine his darkly comic abstract work to be mesmerizing bizarre indie masterpieces. His previous directorial effort featured a murderous rubber tire, various reality bending moments, and characters within the movie who knew they were in a movie. There's no secret origin revealed, there's not much in the way of a conclusion, and I completely loved the thing.
His latest directorial effort might seem a bit more mainstream at first, as it's a story about a man who wakes up and finds out that his dog has gone missing. It is of course much more complicated and weirder then that. Clocks flip over from 7:59 to 7:60, an office is drenched in water sprinklers and no one seems to make notice, a self help guru communicates through some form of magic powers via unknowing lackeys. None of these or any of the other weirdness is explained...this is just the normalcy of a world crated from the mind of Quentin Dupieux.
You have one last chance to revel in the enthralling insanity of this new generation David Lynch / John Waters at the Mayfair, tonight at 9:30pm.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Work and travel have caused a backlog on teevee watching. Falling behind on my media intake is a constant in my life, but I try my best to keep up to date with the most important of things. Watched the Doctor Who episode titled Hide. It was a great mix of Hammer Horror ghost story like surroundings, time travel, and a really great and creepy monster. Doctor Who is so consistently good that the only negative in the whole current incarnation of the 50 year old series is that I am kinda sad that there are not longer seasons and more episodes.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
As predicted, it was an exhaustive weekend of roller derbying, and I am ecstatically happy that Ottawa's own Slaughter Daughters took home the championship Beast trophy for the second time in three years. My biggest worry came to reality as the opposition for the battle was Montreal's Racaille, which happens to be captained by Slavic Slayer - former a RVRG'er and a pal. Glass half full, it meant that I got to be happy for both the first and the second place teams.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
This is the day of roller derby that lies ahead of me. I know from experience that just watching this much roller derby in a day is exhausting and leaves your brain in a blur of trying to remember match-up's and scores. Imagine how the athletes feel (and this is only day one of two) by the time days end rolls around.
Friday, April 26, 2013
Off to Montreal later on today to guard the merch table for my Rideau Valley Roller Girls family at the annual Beast of the East tournament. I will watch numerous bouts over the weekend, while I hope and pray that my friends on various teams meet up against each other in derby battle as few times as possible. Watching derby can be mentally harrowing enough and when you can't vilify one of the teams 'cause there's people who you like on both sides of the match-up, it's even worse. I'm sure that it will be an action packed weekend, and one in which I spend a major portion of the time holding my breath and being in a general stressed out state of being. I'm not a sports fan, but I am a roller derby fan, and this tournament is some of the best derby you can find.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Your latest chance to be inspired by and gain knowledge by the life of William Shatner is his autobiographical rule book Shatner Rules. There are few other human beings who you could learn more valuable life lessons from. William Shatner is of course one of the greatest Canadians of all time. So, if you are Canadian, I'm pretty sure that that means you must study and learn and better yourself from his work. It's a law I think.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I read the first volume of comics starring the New 52 version of Blue Beetle, which I picked off the shelf on my last visit to the library (a library I should be avoiding because I have so many books at home that are still unread). I give this collection a resounding meh. It was average super hero fare, and there's nothing wrong with that, but I demand more from my modern day comic book reading experience. I fully admit that I am a tough sell on this version of the character, as the previous incarnation is one of my favourite characters ever. I miss Ted Kord.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
I know that the man has a rabid fan base who would disagree with me, but I'm just not a fan of most of the film-making works of Kevin Smith. I loved and was inspired by Clerks, and I thought that Red State was an impressively put together and well written piece that finally showed evolution on the part of the screenwriter and director. Everything in-between, from Chasing Amy to Cop Out, left me unimpressed to neutral in my opinion. I don't think I hated any of his movies, but I thought that they all seemed a little guilty of too much fun and not enough work.
On the other hand, I think that Kevin Smith makes a great interview subject, host,and makes the most of the social media and podcast world that he finds himself a corner-stone of currently. Plans always change, he said that Jay & Silent Bob Strikes Back was his farewell to the View Askew characters, and then a few years later Clerks II hit the silver screen. He said that his farewell to directing would be a hockey movie, now it seems like his next film-making effort will be a third Clerks. It does seem now though that the foreseeable future of the creative output of Kevin Smith will come mostly in the form of non-fiction writings, podcasts, and live performances of his not-quite stand-up storytelling kind of shows.
I just finished listening to Kevin Smith's audiobook version of Tough Shit: Life Advice from a Fat Lazy Slob Who Did Good (as read by the author). Kevin's life story (so far) is a good story indeed. A young geek with dreams of making movies, throws caution to the wind, and sets out to make a no-budget semi-autobiographical movie with his friends. It worked, and a little under two decades later he finds himself with a loyal army of worshipers of his movies and winner of a batch of indie awards and street cred. If that wasn't enough, he also happened to be a comic book geek, and since his film-making career took off he's also gotten to write characters the like of Spider-man and Batman. And he just happens to be a corner-stone Comic Con guest of honour every year. He is living the dream.
The book is a very entertaining listen, I would hazard a guess that even better than reading (not that I'm opposed to words on paper). The author reads it himself in a laid back conversational manner, going off script on a number of occasions. I think I'm very ok with the thought of Kevin Smith giving up on making movies for these other endeavors. I almost feel bad that I don't like his movies more, because I have a feeling that I could sit around and chat with Kevin Smith about Star Wars and comic books for hours.
Monday, April 22, 2013
I have to work like a chump tonight. If I were not working in exchange for monies that I can use to purchase comic books and blu rays, I would be going to Pressed to eat a tasty sammich and participate in this months Geek Trivia event as organized by the fine gentlemen of Unreasonable Action. It is an Easter themed night of questions, and judging by this picture advertising the event, I think one of the answers might be Jaxxon.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
A few days ago, the Mayfair was packed full with kids on a field trip to watch some work that they had produced up on the big screen under the banner of the Churchill Alternative School Stop Motion Film Festival. It was the second year of hopefully an ongoing tradition of the kids producing their own works of animation. It was a very fun afternoon and the kids had a great time, and expressed themselves in a very loud and jubilant manner front beginning to end. A few short years ago an undertaking like this for a school would have been a much more expensive and time consuming endeavor. Now-a-days a classroom of kids can make a stop-motion animation piece with a smart-phone and nothing more then an average laptop at best. The great Bruce Campbell once commented that the good news is that in this day and age that anyone can make a movie...and the bad news is that anyone can make a movie. Seeing these imaginative little no budget bits of animation makes me think that in this sense anyhow, it is very much a good thing indeed.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
While dropping by Lost Marbles to pick up a birthday present for my brother (he got Adventure Time Monopoly), I could not resist the blind-box vinyl toy section. I try to limit my addiction to Dunny's, but a new line of DC Comic themed Domo monsters were calling out to me in an unnecessary purchase like hypnotic siren song. All I knew was that I did not want the Superman in his red underwear-less New 52 incarnation. I know that there are much more important things to be concerned about, but I can't get over how weird he looks in head to toe blue one piece jumpsuit and a there for no reason belt. Usually I have kinda bad luck with the mystery blind-boxes, luckily I got the very awesome Green Lantern Domo, and geeky customer rage was left in check.
Friday, April 19, 2013
DC Comics may be in the midst of a bit of a bumpy road in getting some of their characters up onto the big screen, but they have no such issues with their animated teevee movie offerings. Superman Returns had all the best intentions, but was a bit of a mess. Green Lantern was one of those dream projects that I never thought would become a reality as a geeky young comic book reader...it was a train-wreck. Christopher Nolan's Batfilms made a lot of money...I could never get over that Batman sounded like cookie monster and had a lame Batmobile. Joss Whedon wrote a script for a Wonder Woman movie, but the Warner Bros powers that be figured that they could find someone better to do a super-hero movie.
Ever since the the Paul Dini / Bruce Timm Batman series of the early 90's, DC cartoons have been on an incredible role of quality output. That show's story continuity and character design style went on to encompass Superman, Justice League, Batman Beyond, a number of small screen films, and the big screen Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (which I think is the best representation of the character that ever appeared in cinemas). After they concluded that universe of stories, they produced a very fun anime style Teen Titans and a bunch of stand alone non-theatrical movies featuring various incarnations of their characters.
I finally got around to watching the adaptation of Frank Miller's 1980's comic book masterpiece, Batman: Th Dark Knight Returns. Despite the looming shadow of having the task of putting one of the greatest and most important comic books ever produced into animation form, they greatly succeeded and did not disappoint. The Kill Bill style cut in two chapters mini-epic features Peter Weller as Batman and Michael Emerson as Joker, both of whom would do equally fine jobs in a live action version of the script I'm sure.
You would think that sooner or later that the film executives would come to their senses and let this team do the big screen movie franchises instead. If that happened we just might have Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern...wouldn't that be a better movie watching world to be in?
Thursday, April 18, 2013
While listening to an episode of the FEaB podcast, the topic of Muppet Babies came up between hosts Matt Mira and Scott Mosier.
The Muppet Babies cartoon featured lil kid versions of Kermit and Gonzo and all the other mainstay Muppets in imaginative day-care adventures. There were never any scenes of the Muppet kids being dropped off or picked up by parents, so it might've actually been an orphanage, I'm not positive.
As we all know, The Muppet Movie establishes that the Muppets all meet up as adults as Kermit instigates a road-trip to Hollywood to attain fame and fortune. Contradictory to that, in the teevee special A Muppet Family Christmas, there is a scene in which the gathered Muppets watch a home movie from when they were babies. Meaning we have conflicting histories in the Muppet-verse, one time-line in which they've been friends since they were kids and one in which they meet as adults. The only possible reasoning is that the bulk of The Muppet Movie is of course a based-on-a-true-story account bio-film that the Muppets have produced and are watching.
So, Muppet Babies, book-ends of Muppet Movie with the Muppets in the theatre, and Muppet Family Christmas are in continuity...core of Muppet Movie is the Muppets acting in a movie in which they play themselves and re-tell a fictionalized account of their origins. I'm glad that we could get all that mess figured out. Now, the real issue of concern is that the Fraggles in Muppet Family Christmas are the same size as Kermit, when we all know that they are much tinier then that. What the hell is the deal with those enormous Fraggles?
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I love Mike Mignola's Hellboy universe of comic book characters. Especially great is how he hasn't rested on the singular popularity of Hellboy, in fact, for the past few years Hellboy has appeared in many fewer issues than his other Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense characters have been more in the front line. Former Hellboy sidekick, the fish-man Abe Sapien recently graduated up to reular ongoing series status star, and other bizarre characters like Lobster Johnson show up in their own mini-series every so often.
The latest strange character from the mind of Mike Mignola to spin off into his own mini-series is Sledge-hammer 44, which at first glance seems to be a World War II Iron Man. Because the character is in the Mignola-verse, that rather simple concept ends up being much more imaginative and interesting. Best of all, is that Dark Horse seems to have learned lessons from the mistakes of bigger goliath companies like DC and Marvel. Sledge-hammer 44 is a two issue series that you can enjoy is you are a Hellboy super-fan, or if you have never heard of Hellboy and just think that a guy in a robot suit fighting Nazi's sounds like a cool thing to read about. You don't have to buy three dozen other books to know what the hell is going on.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Do you like hilarious things? Then you should buy the House of Fun one-shot from writer /artist Evan Dorkin and Dark Horse Comics. I'm pretty sure that here is more funny in this single comic book than in entire seasons of teevee series, multiple stand-up comedy events, or giant stacks of other books. New adventures of Milk and Cheese alone would be worth the price of admission, but there is so much more (mostly wonderfully offensively more). Put newspaper comic strips to shame with their unwarranted claims at providing humour, read House of Fun instead.
Monday, April 15, 2013
The latest super-hero story-line twist that DC Comics has released onto their New 52 Universe is the introduction of Carrie Kelley. Carrie is a creation of Frank Miller, a female Robin side-kick to a crazy senior citizen Batman in the 1980's comic book masterpiece, The Dark Knight Returns.
Of course, not so surprisingly, this development has caused an unleashing of anger from many nerds on the interwebs. I avoid most of these comments by trying to stay away from comment boards on various geek websites. My eye has unfortunately caught a few bouts of typed out negativity though. What always drives me crazy about this kind of stuff is it's a level of critiquing anger leveled towards a thing which they have not even read yet. If you read it and don't like it, that's fine. How about we refrain from death threats to comic book writers at least until the topic of the subject is read? Actually...y'know what...just don't send death threats to someone because they wrote something you don't like in a comic book. Take a step back and realize that that is lunacy. Would you like receiving death threats? I don't think so.
I have read Batman & Red Robin # 19 (Batman will have rotating side-kick guest stars for the time being after the heartbreaking loss of Damien), and I liked it a lot. Carrie is indeed in it, though the Robin connection is a bit of a misdirection. The actual story explores how Batman is acting even more off-kilter than a guy dressed like a bat normally does, and how he is acting in a state of vigilante genius mourning. As the title states, previous side-kick Tim Drake guest stars in the book, as does the less likely guest-star of DC's take on the Frankenstein Monster.
Peter J Tomasi and Pat Gleason have written and drawn an impressive run on their Batman title. I think it's hands down the best Batman comic now that writer Grant Morrison is finishing up his run in Gotham. The curse of a shared universe is that you have to fall into pace with what happens elsewhere. I have a feeling that they would have liked to continue to tell stories with Damien Wayne as Robin, but that was not meant to be. I don't care how it's done, I don't care if it's some horrible magic or alien twist, I want Damien back. Until that happens though, or even if it doesn't, I look forward to seeing what these guys do with this book now. A lot of geeks have said that there's nothing good from DC's New 52 line. I have a feeling they haven't read Batman & Robin.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
When I first heard of Warm Bodies, I didn't really get expectations too high, despite my usual enjoyment of films with zombies in them. I figured that it would be another in the weird and unwanted Twilight sub-genre of movies that have come out on the heels of those sparkly vampire movies, like Red Riding Hood and Beastly. It most decidedly is not, and is actually a quite intelligent and original zom-rom-com (although based on a book, so not wholly original).
There are both fast moving zombies and plot developments new to the zombie mythos within the movie. Which means that there are zombie fans complaining about the legitimacy of the motion picture, many I'm sure who are whining about it even though they haven't sen it yet. What these horror fan-boys must remember is that zombies aren't real, and therefor there can't really be rules as to how they are supposed to act. There are rules as to how lions or airplanes act, because those things are actually in existence. Zombies have made quite a come-back to movies and books and video games in the past decade or so, so when they can an interesting plot point twist thrown at them, I am all for it. I love the traditional George Romero zombie movie. One of the highlights of my life in fact was when I visited the graveyard where the opening scenes of Night of the Living Dead was shot. That doesn't mean that I fear change though.
You can check out this new take on the brain eating horror movie mainstay when Warm Bodies screens at the Mayfair on Monday April 15th and Tuesday the 16th at 9:30pm.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
One of the best things about being a roller derby side-kick is getting to tag along and help out on their road games. In the past few years I've traveled into the States with them to Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, and Pennsylvania as a non-skating official (meaning I help keep track of the score and other stuff like that). What better way would I get to visit our friends to the south, and such cultural meccas as Sudbury and Scarborough in out homeland?
Up bright and early today to jump in to the Rideau Valley Roller Girls party bus and head across the border to Manchester, New Hampshire. Our Vixens will take battle against the Skate Free or Die All Stars at 7:00pm. As long as I don't get stopped at the border because they think I'm a law-breaker named Jamar (almost happened), good times should be had by all.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Watching The General, the Buster Keaton in the Civil War cinematic classic, at the Mayfair is quite the happening in it's own right. Now, make it a Silents is Golden screening, with musical accompaniment to the silent masterpiece and it's even more special. If the music is coming from the ensemble Viola Dana, who are visiting all the way from the far off land of Australia, that makes this one night only event rather spectacular. It's always difficult to truly claim that an experience is once in a life-time, but this just might be one of those situations.
The General screens tonight at 6:30pm at the Mayfair.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
The negative in regards to the latest incarnation of the long and diverse Hulk mythos is that he wears a ridiculously ugly suit of techno-armour that looks like it could've been torn right from a Michael Bay Transformers character design. The positive is that it is written by Mark Waid (2012 Eisner award winning writer of Daredevil) and that this story arc is drawn by living legend (and creator of Beta Ray Bill, one of my favourite characters) Walt Simonson.
Hulk has had many incarnations, ranging from a suit wearing Las Vegas enforcer to a gladiatorial space Conan to the rampaging Jekyll & Hyde monster that most know and love. This latest twist on the comic book icon explores the notion that Bruce Banner is tired of hiding from the law, walking around the dessert and washing dishes for a living in order to try to stay out of people's way and avoid turning into a big green monster and smashing things. He is one of the most brilliant people on the planet, and he's tired of Tony Stark and Reed Richards getting all the praise and reward and getting to live in awesome New York City buildings. Luckily, Bruce Banner has reached a level of being able to reign in the Hulk and only transform when he wants to transform. So, he goes to SHIELD (Marvel's super spy organization if you are somehow not in the know of that) and suggests a proposal. He gets all the financing and resources that being a scientist for the SHIELD organization brings, and in trade they get to use the Hulk as a weapon against evil.
In honour of artist Walt Simonson being on board for a few issues, this is a Thor guest starring story. And something super awesome happens on the last page. I will not tell you what that thing is though, or even hint towards what it might be, because spoilers are evil. Just, y'know...avoid the internet until you read the issue if you want to remain surprised. If you type in Hulk to Google I'm sure spoilers will be quick and unavoidable and bring on smashing like levels of anger.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
I very rarely venture out of the safe and high quality surroundings of the Mayfair for my big screen movie watching. Usually the only time I'm not at the Mayfair for watching movies it's because I'm doing to so at a special event like the Ottawa Animation Fest, or Fantasia or the Montreal Comiccon. A couple times a year I will go to the multiplex to see a new Hollywood release, but I never spend money in doing so. I will make use of points off of my Visa card or I'll be going because I got a hold of some advance screening preview passes. That helps me feel as if I'm not cheating on the Mayfair.
Last night my friend was nice enough to take me out for a belated movie night viewing of the new Evil Dead movie. I am fairly confident that we will screen the latest deadite gore-fest sometime in the near future, but I've had bad luck with spoilers of late and wanted to see the film before some jerk ruined plot twists or surprises for me. I unfortunately came to remember something last night. I hate multiplexes. I don't just say that as a repertory theatre owner.
Well, to be fair, in this instance there was nothing wrong with the multiplex side of the screening presentation. In recent past there have been all kinds of different issues with my multiplex movie viewing experience. This time around it was really more my loss of faith in humanity vs sub-par movie patron customer service. I don't want to generalize or profile, but when a overweight Vanilla Ice looking 20-something in a too small Chicago Bulls cap and too big Chicago Bulls jersey rolls in with a similarly attired gang of incorrect baseball cap wearing guys and reality show star looking girls roll in, there is a sense that annoyance is on the horizon. And it was indeed annoying with lots of talking and cel phone checking on their part.
Then there were a group of women sitting behind us who somehow seemed to not realize that they had bought a ticket, entered a theatre, and had instigated the interaction of being in the presence of a horror movie. I think they thought that a movie called Evil Dead was a Julia Roberts romantic comedy or involved a plot-line in which Matthew McConaughey learns himself a valuable lesson. And half the audience thought it was completely acceptable to comment along with the movie as if they were sitting at home with a friend on the couch. Not just punk kids, but grown-up productive members of society who should know better and feel ashamed. After the experience I feel I'm happy to stay in my Mayfair home at all times to watch movies.
Anyhow, the good news on the night is that despite the sub-par and frustrating surroundings, I loved the movie. Fede Alvarez makes his feature film directorial debut and does so with style. What we have here isn't just a carbon-copy or unnecessary remake like The Ring or Friday the 13th, but an impressive addition to the Evil Dead legacy. It's scary, it has brains, some striking performances from the young cast, and most importantly is really scary.
The movie is produced by Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert and Bruce Campbell, the masterminds behind the previous three Evil Dead films. They are actual producers on it too, not just slapping their name on it in exchange for a pay-cheque. As people love to point out, Hollywood is in the midst of loving unoriginal properties, whether they be remakes, reboots, sequels, prequels, spin-offs or adaptations. I like to have a glass half full view on the situation, and look at examples like Evil Dead as filmmakers making the best of the situation. If we are going to have another Evil Dead movie instead of another new concept along the lines of Drag Me to Hell...I'm glad that those involved are giving it their all and making worthy films none-the-less.
We can only dream that the box office success so far ($29 million in its first four days off of a $17 million dollar budget) will lead to another horrific Evil Dead adventure, maybe even one with Bruce Campbell doing more than producing duties and stepping in front of the camera.
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
I'm hard pressed to single out a favourite band, but every-time I see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs perform (be it live or in a music video or on The Late Show) it brings me much joy. Looking very forward to listening to the entirety of their new album. I am very glad to share a planet with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Monday, April 08, 2013
John Dies at the End is the new film from Don Coscarelli, shockingly enough his first feature directorial effort in a decade. He's been thanked on half a dozen movies, written and directed an episode of Masters of Horror, but somehow a whole ten years has passed by since the cinematic brilliance that was Bubba Ho-Tep.
The elderly Elvis Presley vs cowboy mummy masterpiece is a mighty accomplishment to follow-up, especially for me since it is one of my favourite movies of all time. I had a feeling that the movie might be weird and fun in a good bad movie kinda way, and was happily surprised that it was indeed great and is surely destined to become a cult classic.
I thought I might have no idea what was going on in a David Lynch kinda manner, but the screenplay was very well crafted. It was an impressive puzzle piecing adaptation of the novel, especially considering the Doctor Who timey wimey aspects of the plot. Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes, both newcomers enough that I don't believe I've seen either of them in anything before, turn in fine performances as a pair of slackers who fall into a supernatural world of monster hunting and universe saving. Paul Giamatti turns in a fine supporting role, and you even get to see Doug Jones in a rare non-monster costumed performance (as you may have seen him in Hellboy or Pan's Labyrinth). All of this plus nasty slugs, giant monsters, bug aliens, gross spider things, a meat man and a heroic dog.
We can only hope that we get another bizarre piece of movie magic from Don Coscarelli again before 2022.
Catch John Dies at the End on Tuesday April 9th at the Mayfair.
Sunday, April 07, 2013
The artist who undertook the challenge of redesigning a bunch of female super-hero icons in a more fully clothed manner says that he didn't do so in any kind of moral code pushing manner. I believe him, but none-the-less it does point out the rather horrible trend in some comics books of revealing costume design when it comes it's female hero's.
This is nothing new of course, seeing as how Vampirella first appeared in 1969. Her traditional outfit is a bit more forgivable seeing as she was from a purposeful B-movie kinda horror storytelling world. When it comes to comic books in the 1990's, things were fairly horrible. Even as a kid I could look at Psylocke's costume in the X-Men and realize that it was pretty ridiculous and the lack of pants didn't really make any sense. Even Supergirl has one back and fourth a bit, and at her costume design worst sported a rather stripper-esque attire that I could never imagine her cousin Kal approving of. I love Power Girl, and the costume design here manages to pay tribute to her geek famous wardrobe, while making use of slightly more real world sensibilities.
I really like all of the fully clothed designs that artist Michael Lunsford whipped up, you can check out the rest of them at his Supernormal Step website.
Saturday, April 06, 2013
It's derby night in Ottawa! Well...Rockland...but that's kinda close to Ottawa. It is worth the trek. All the pertinent information can be viewed in the above banner, or click over to the Rideau Valley Roller Girls site. Don't miss out on the premiere bout for the new travel team, the Rideau Valley Vixens. And you know what a brand new derby team means right!? An excellent excuse to buy a shiny new t-shirt!
Friday, April 05, 2013
Watching a classic silent film up on the big screen in a theatre that opened in 1932 is quite the amazing movie watching venture. Now, add live musical accompaniment to that, and you've got a truly rare cinematic experience. At the Mayfair tonight and tomorrow (Friday April 5 and Saturday April 6) we're screening The Passion of Joan of Arc , and Tom Peters will be on hand to perform his score. He will be playing an electric six string double bass, and will b accompanied by Joelle Morton on an amplified viola da gamba. If you are a movie aficionado, it might just even be more awesome than 3-D dinosaurs.
Thursday, April 04, 2013
I was working on a documentary pitch for the bulk of the day, and took a brief break to check in on Mayfair social media stuff. I wish that I hadn't, because it really added a depression to the rest of my day. My Mayfair Twitter partner in crime wrote on our Twitter page - "The balcony has closed". Being a geek of the cinema, I instantly understood the reference, and zapped over to google to proceed to get choked up at the news that Roger Ebert had died.
I admit that I never really watched Roger's teevee show all that much. I do my best to avoid spoilers, even before the term spoiler existed, so watching a movie review / clip show kinda' goes against that practice. I also was rather opposed to the thumb up or down rating of a film, seemed all a little too black and white. It too easily put films into a 50 / 50, good or bad and no other possible level in-between of a classification. I would disagree with Roger on occasion. He liked both of the Tomb Raider movies somehow. And his views on video games made him sound quite a bit closed minded and out of touch.
Roger was an amazing writer though. All of his accolades and awards and year's of service easily enough prove that. I was always in the habit of reading his reviews after I watched the movie in question, to see what his thoughts were. I have also read most of his books, whether it be one filled with gushing and deserved praise for Martin Scorsese, or a book filled with reviews of terrible movies. I've never read anything from Roger that wasn't interesting, informative and fun. On top of his writing skills, independent and cult cinema never had a better friend who helped spread the news of their existence to the mainstream.
Unlike many other critics, what I really loved about Roger was that it was evident that he really loved movies. And when he didn't like the movie, he didn't degrade it with insults or bad puns, but would still turn in a review that was a good read despite it's sub-par movie source in question. Roger loves B-movies and sci-fi and the classics, he could equally extol the virtues of Federico Fellini or Russ Meyer, of Woody Allen or a giant monster movie. In the past few years, when his illness increased and his ability to verbally communicate decreased, he because a corner-stone of blogging and twitter, both of which I read daily. And thanks to the magic of the interwebs, pretty much every review that he has ever written is easily available for one's perusal. Sadly, I will never get to read what he thinks about upcoming releases, and I won't get to us his quotes for new movies screening at the Mayfair anymore.
Kind words about Roger will roll in over the next few days and be re-posted on all the geek movie sites. I will read a lot of them, and many will likely leave me choked up and teary eyed. By coincidence, we are screening The General at the Mayfair in the near future. Not just are we screening the Buster Keaton classic, but we also have live musical accompaniment to o along with it. It was one of Roger's top 10 favourite movies, I think he would have enjoyed watching it with us at the Mayfair.
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
There was an interesting non-super-villain punching twist in writer Rick Remender's Uncanny Avengers # 5. The series focuses on a team of combined Avengers and X-Men, assembled by Captain America, to promote unity on the heels of a super-hero disaster which resulted in an alien possessed God like Cyclops killing Professor X. The captain put mutant X-Men alum, and Cyclops' little brother, Havok on the front-line as the leader and face of the team.
At a press conference, Havok stated, "I see the word mutant as divisive. Old thinking that serves to further separate us from our fellow man. We are all humans. Of one tribe. We are defined by our choices, not the makeup of our genes. So, please, don't call us mutants. The M word represents everything I hate.". A reporter then asks what should he be called then if not a mutant, and his response is "How about Alex?".
By the time it took me to read and get around to writing about this, the comic has already caused the usual harsh retorts and angry rants from some of the online nerd community. I think there are two things to remember before sending a person death threats over plot-lines in a comic book. 1 - The views of a fictional character are not necessarily those of the writer. 2 - Characters have to do and say things that may lead to conflict. If not, stories would be very boring.
I for one am very intrigued by this take on the mutant cause within the Marvel universe. I don't think Havok is being disrespectful or flippant or uncaring. I think he is pointing out that no matter what we look like, no matter our strengths or weakness, no matter what cool things we might be able to do that someone else cannot...we are all human beings. I think that that belief is a train of thought that can be admired within a super-hero role-model world.
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
I have totally accepted and embraced our cinematic digital over-lords. There are still some fans of the cinema who fear the change, some who have even gone to the extent to threaten to never return to a theatre unless it is screening a 35mm film. It's not that I don't understand the concern that some have about changing technology, I can identify with the romantic aspects and age old tradition of film spooling through a projector. I have a film strip filled with some of my favourite things tattooed on my arm.
At this point though, complaining about digital cinema presentation is a lost cause. It's not even a battle worth fighting or worrying about, film is pretty much extinct. If you want to watch movies, those movies are almost all being shot via non-35mm means, and are being projected via a non-35mm system. If I read a comic book on a tablet instead of off of paper is it not a comic? If I listen to my favourite band on an MP3 player instead of a record player are they not still songs? If I watch a movie on VHS or DVD or Blu Ray or 35mm or digital projection...it's all still watching a movie.
Not only is digital projection still watching a movie, it's watching a movie in such high quality that most viewers would have no idea of the difference. If fact, considering how poorly prints have been treated over the years, you are more likely to an enjoyable unhindered movie watching experience via digital than a poor ole' beat up film print. Recently at the Mayfair we've had movies like Duck Soup, Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein and Jason and the Argonauts...all were digital and all were gloriously pristine in their presentations. There is unfortunately absolutely no way that such could be said for film presentations...more so, there are no film prints in existence for us to screen of these classics.
Anyhow...I watched a very well put together documentary on the subject titled Side by Side. It is hosted by Keanu Reeves, and it is super evident that Keanu loves the 35mm film. It is a very even and interesting account on the past, present and future of movie production and distribution. Interview subjects include filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Danny Boyle, David Lynch and a whole bunch more. Side by Side is on the Netflix for your at home movie watching enjoyment.
What I think it all comes down to is that there should be more concern about whether the movie is good or not, instead of what kind of camera it was shot on and what the projector looks like. Does it look good up on the screen? Yes? Great. Then don't fret about whether it's projected via celluloid magic or digital magic, just sit back and eat your popcorn, drink your Coke, and enjoy the over-all movie magic.
Monday, April 01, 2013
Wait...is Easter the day we celebrate Jesus defeating the Easter Bunny or the Easter Bunny defeating Jesus? I'm not sure how that all played out in historical texts. I commemorate the mighty battle today by eating Batman logo and Darth Vader helmet shaped chocolates that the Bunny left me in celebration of his victory, or as penance for his embarrassing defeat. As long as I get some chocolate, I will support either side.