Saturday, June 30, 2012

I can neither confirm nor deny that amongst other awesomeness, one of the trailers tonight at the Mayfair as part of the Fake Trailers Reel Film Fest (one of the real ones no less) is titled Charlton Heston on Movie Ratings. If that's not enough to convince you to show up, what if I told you he teaches you all about movie ratings in the 1970's while taking a break from playing tennis in his snazzy jump-suit attire? If that doesn't get you out to the theatre, clearly you are not a fan of motion pictures.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I'm not exactly sure how this fest came about, I can't remember. I do know that I was contemplating another short film festival theme to have fall in-between Valentine's sexy / romantic Painted Lips and Lolly Licks and Halloween's scarry Killer63 festivals, and fake trailers popped into my brain. I had a feeling I could drum up enough interest from local filmmakers and mix that with ones found online or via other fests and puzzle-piece something decent together. Mix that up with a bunch of 35mm trailers from the grindhouse / b-movie / drive-in classic trailer archives from the Mayfair vaults, and I figured that we had enough Mayfair patrons who would be interested in taking in such a program. We have a bunch of really great work from local filmmakers, along with stuff from the States and from International submissions. I don't want to spoil what trailers are being screened in the actual trailer section, but there's a little something for movie-nerds of all kinds: epic super-hero, gory horror, unbelievable exploitation, explosive 80's action, bizarre sci-fi, weird comedy, etc...

The second annual Fake Trailers Reel Festival, tomorrow night at 10:30pm at the Mayfair. A two hour not to be missed program of fake trailers for imaginary movies and real trailers for awesome movies. Another evening at the cinema that could only be had at the Mayfair.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tomorrow the Mayfair presents the Ottawa premiere of the People's Choice Award winner at TIFF 2011 for Best Documentary, The Island President. The film follows the challenges resting on the shoulders for Mohamed Nasheed, the president who brought democracy to his Maldives homeland.

On top of the usual stresses that a politician from a small country might run into, he and his people have an added challenge. Thanks to rising waters due to global warming, in the near future if things do not change, his low-lying country will be submerged and its people forced into displacement. Not only is the rest of the world seemingly not rushing to Nasheed's aid, he also has to deal with threats from former the evil dictator of his land.

Yes, another heart-warming true-story cinematic offering for your Mayfair cinematic enjoyment. Luckily depressing doesn't equal bad in the documentary genre. Maybe you'll even be inspired to try to do good and help the cause upon finishing watching the film. Sure it might not be a by the books Hollywood feel-good romp, but just maybe it might inspire you to help save the world.

The Island President premieres tomorrow night at 9:15pm, followed by four more screenings through July 4th.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

After listening to an episode of The Nerdist podcast recently, I stumbled on Chris Hardwick's audiobook The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life), which I found on library cart a little while ago. I'm familiar with Chris Hardwick via he being a frequent guest on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson the last couple years. While on the show, the two would mostly discuss only the most important of topics, such as Doctor Who.

I knew that Chris was in the midst of building a bit of a geek empire. He masterminds a podcast also called The Nerdist, and hosts a show about The Walking Dead. I hadn't listened to the podcast and don't like the Walking Dead, but none-the-less had a sense that this was an entertainer and host that I could easily fall in line with.

I didn't realize that this work wasn't just an autobiography, but is more along the lines of a geeky how-to / self-help guide for struggling geeks and nerds to learn from. I already work and get paid in nerdy like professions, I don't live in my mum's basement, and can hold a conversation in nerd and non-nerd topics alike. I even found a nerdy girl of my own to settle down with, one who Chris could easily hold a conversation with about all the wonders of Doctor Who. So, even though I wasn't in the market for some nerd recommended helpful life advice, I yet still found the book very entertaining and informative. It would in fact be a well worth researching for geeks looking for advice from one of their own, an equal who broke through to gain happiness and success and get paid to be a nerd for a living.

I enjoyed listening to Chris enough that as per my earlier stated plan, I'm now taking the first baby steps into marathoning through a couple years worth of Nerdists podcasts. My geek cred and nerd standing and knowledge will be even more staggering to behold after that.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tonight was honoured to be in the presence of Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers this-evening at the Ottawa Jazz Fest. I've been a fan of Steve Martin's forever, and by forever I mean since I saw him work alongside The Muppets when I was a little kid. Then of course he did a run of films including The Jerk, Little Shop of Horrors, Roxanne, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Planes Trains & Automobiles, etc...

Acting aside he also happens to be an acclaimed and award winning play-write, screenwriter, and musician. His banjo skills are well known, and now we live in a world where in some circles he's known just as much for being a world class banjoist as he is stand-up comedian or movie star.

Being an avid watcher of David Letterman's show I have seen Steve Martin perform a number of times, and have his albums, so I knew what to expect. It was interesting that much of the crowd seemed to have absolutely no idea that he was in fact a legit musician and that he wasn't undertaking this endeavour as part of a comedy bit. Getting to see Steve Martin perform along with an excellent band with him was a great evening. Steve Martin throwing in jokes here and there was a true bonus, and likely the closest any of us will get to see him return to his live comedy roots. And it made me really want to watch Three Amigos again.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tomorrow night the Mayfair presents our encore presentation of 'Indiana Jones and the Projector Quest', the double-bill screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Temple of Doom, and part of our ongoing fundraising efforts to get a fancy-smancy new digital projector so we can continue to screen new films in 2013.

Temple of Doom takes some flack from some Indy fans. I've never concurred with this thought. There seemed to be a thought that the mystical stones weren't worthy to the legacy of the ark of the covenant and the holy grail that Indy was after in the films that came before and after. There were some that were against Indy having a Robin-esque kid sidekick to assist on his adventurings. Some thought that Willie Scott is an unworthy successor as love interest to Marion Ravenwood.

I thought that the Indian mystical voodoo mythology was cool. I was the perfect age when the film was released to identify with Short Round and wish to be him. Willie is of course not as awesome as Marion (who is maybe my favourite female movie character of all time), but I can understand the want to show Indy interacting with a different type of romantic lead for the prequel tale.

I also think that Temple of Doom is the kind of film that was hit with a lot of negativity, and then when it is looked back upon, folks realize that it is not that bad after all. Saying that Temple is not as good as it's Indy predecessor is a bit unfair, an impossible film to strive to match considering it's universally praised as one of the greatest movies ever made. I can guarantee that Temple of Doom is better than pretty much every action adventure film that came after it...except for maybe Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (which we couldn't get 'cause Paramount destroyed the film print...but that's a whole other rant).

Indy Double Bill - Raiders of the Lost Ark and Temple of Doom - starting at 7pm on June 26th at the Mayfair.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

God Bless America screens tomorrow and the 27th & 28th at the Mayfair, all at 9pm. The film comes from writer / director Bobcat Goldthwait, who for some of a certain age remember as a member of the esteemed acting ensemble from the Police Academy franchise. He went on to act in numerous tv and movie projects, memorable for me in supporting roles in film projects such as Tapeheads and Scrooged.

Back in my frequent high school patronage of the Mayfair, I saw Bobcat's impressive cult hit of a directorial debut, the dark comedy Shakes the Clown. Following that, amongst other projects, he directed for the often hilarious Chappelle's Show and Important Things with Demetri Martin.

God Bless America isn't exactly what you would call a feel good tale that will inspire your faith in humanity. It will more than likely make you upset and feel anger towards most of our a darkly comic revengeful killing spree entertaining sort of way. You will learn a valuable lesson though, the over-all imminent crumbling destruction of our society is in fact all American Idol's fault.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jiro Dreams of Sushi screens tonight at 6pm at the Mayfair (with continuing presentations on the 24th, 25th, 27th and 28th). It's might be an understandably hard pitch to convince someone looking for an excellent night out at the movies that a documentary about making sushi is the way to go. Like films before it under the documentary umbrella though, with seemingly dull topics like cake baking or spelling bee's, Jiro is pretty amazing. A spellbinding truth-stranger-than-fiction tale of an elderly man who runs a little restaurant off of a subway line that has a three month waiting list, cost $300 U.S. a person for a meal, and serves the best sushi on the planet. Be warned and prepared to be starving and find yourself brainwashed and out at a sushi restaurant immediately after the credits roll.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Mayfair's 80th Anniversary monthly fundraising film fest continues tomorrow at 1pm with 'Indiana Jones and the Projector Quest'. If a 35mm screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark was not enough, there is the added bonus of the Indy prequel Temple of Doom. If you can't make that awesomeness on the weekend, there will be an encore screening on Tuesday night at 6:30pm.

There will be fabulous items for patrons to bid on, Mayfair Theatre seats to buy, you can enter a draw to win a private event for you & your friends at the theatre, and there will be BBQ items available from our neighbours at Quinn's.

If that is not enough, there is even a very distinct possibility that there will be one attendee in a home-made giant boulder costume. What more could you want from a movie theatre going experience!?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It's new Dunny day!

I'm trying to cut down on buying things, making use of the library instead of the book store, and cutting back on Blu Ray purchases since I hardly ever watch movies at home anymore. I also don't collect action figures as I did back in the day. I bare no ill will towards them, but there's the simple factor of only so much shelf-space in an apartment, and other things that money can be spent on.

Having said that, that will not stop me from dropping by Lost Marbles, Ottawa's best elite hipster toy store, and buying some offering's from Kid Robot's latest round of limited edition collectible vinyl art toys. Some think that such items are noting but dust collectors, but I am hooked on the little guys and really do consider them art. The challenge that artists undertake to make a tiny bunny guy be different in various simplistic and complicated ways continues to intrigue.

The extra treasure hunt factor is increased by the Dunny's being sold only in blind-box form. Meaning that I can only keep my geeky fingers crossed in hopes that I will be lucky enough to get the Tara McPherson piece.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tonight and tomorrow (June 20 & 21) at 9:15pm the Mayfair is invaded by The Raid: Redemption. I'm not exactly sure that this is even a movie per-say, what I do know is that it's whole new levels of over-the-top action packed good-vs-evil violence. I'm not even sure that I could explain what the title means. I don't seem to recall any of the characters being redeemed. To be fair I was pretty shell-shocked once all was said and done and the credits rolled, so in my mental ducking and dodgings from the onslaught of bottle-stabbings and guns-a-blazing death, I may have missed some subtlety of the plot.

It is a movie not to be missed if you enjoy the action genre. Just remember to wear a helmet and attach your seat-belts securely before the video game calibre insanity gets underway.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Like many a geek, I fell in love with Felicia Day after her excellent work in Doctor Horrible's Sing Along Blog. She has her own online phenomena in the form of her video game themed web-series, The Guild. A series which in fact Joss Whedon credits as inspiration for his diving inot the self-financed web-series entertainment world. Finally got around to watching the first season, and even though I have little to no interest in the world of MMORPG video games, the series completely won me over. So, I am very late to the geeky-Felicia-appreciation bandwagon, but if you haven't seen The Guild, do be sure to check it out. I especially appreciate that it's possible in this day and age for a creative person like Felicia Day to be able to tell her stories and find some viewer-ship without the need of television studios or industry fat-cats. For every Felicia Day type success story, we can hope that maybe there's one less Two and a Half Men sitcom produced. Dare to dream.

Monday, June 18, 2012

I'm not horribly familiar with the work of Chris Hardwick, but what I do know is that he is in the midst of building a mad with power geeky multi-media empire. I've seen him on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, where he and Craig gushed like teenage fanboys about the glorious wonder that is Doctor Who. I can get on board with that train of thought.

I think it might have been via the Mayfair twitter feed, but somehow I learned that Kevin Smith was a guest on the 200th episode of Chris Hardwick's podcast, The Nerdist. Now, although I am not much of a fan of Kevin Smith the screenwriter or filmmaker, I think he's an excellent public speaker / interview subject / pseudo-almost kinda a stand-up comedian.

If I'm curious about how anyone could bother with watching traditional tv with commercials and time-slots and such, I'm even more perplexed as to how anyone could bother listening to radio. Why bother listening to radio stations with a short-list of repetitive song offerings, annoying dj's and a glut of car dealership ad's? The advent of Portable MP3 devices a few years back means you can easily and readily listen to whatever music you want whenever you want. Podcasts seem to negate any need one might have to listen to radio talk shows. If you can get something as specific to your tastes as a show like the Nerdist or a show hosted by Alec Baldwin or one about roller derby or knitting or any such obscure topic why would you bother to listen to anything else?

If you ever happen to go to one of those preview screenings of a movie that radio stations host, the worst part is the uncomfortable and unwanted hosting abilities of a dj introducing the movie. When a dj walks out on stage at Blues Fest to introduce a band, I'm always curious to know if they think they are actually famous and a draw? The disinterest of the crowd and the weak polite smattering of applause must make them realize they are on the last legs of their medium.

The good news / bad news is that because it wasn't some awful morning dj thing, I quite enjoyed the Nerdist podcast. And that means that I now have at least 199 episodes of the Nerdist to catch up on.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Cartoonist pride of Ottawa dropped off a couple of book donations for the June portion of the Mayfair's ongoing fundraising drive to raise monies to get a fancy new digital projector. On June 23rd at 1pm and June 26th at 6:30pm we present Raiders of the Lost Ark and Temple of Doom double-bill, or as we like to call it: Indiana Jones and the Projector Quest. So not only can you come out and enjoy a couple of great Indiana Jones movies, you can also participate in the silent auction and try and go home with Dave's books 'Bagel's Lucky Hat' and 'Bent'. There will be BBQ foods available from our friends next door at Quinn's, and there's even rumour that there may be an ambitious patron costumed as a giant boulder. What more could you ask for in a movie going experience!?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Went to see Chimpanzee this-afternoon at the Mayfair. The production and other Disney Nature films of the like harkens back to the True-Life Adventures that were produced between 1948 and 1960. I'm glad that Disney has bounced back from the lack of care or quality that was the years of lazy straight-to-video sequels of classic animation and horrible Saturday morning Buzz Lightyear Pixar rip-off cartoons.

You can catch Chimpanzee again tomorrow at 1pm at the Mayfair. It's a very enjoyable and interesting doc, and you might even learn something new. I learned the rather shocking fact that chimps eat monkeys! Isn't that akin to cannibalism? Chimps hunting and eating monkeys is quite possibly the most disturbing thing I've ever seen in a Disney film, though to be fair I haven't seen all of those live-action Tim Allen movies.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Went to see Lonely Bear tonight at the Ottawa Fringe Festival. It was really great, and I don't say that just because a friend and frequent filmmaking collaborator worked on the stage production. It had everything you would want from an off-off-Broadway calibre production. There was bloodshed, plane crashes, double crossing espionage, and a teddy bear that later evolved into a guy in a bear suit. It was weird, shocking, funny and quite inventive in it's use of a small stage presentation and no-budgetness. Go check out stuff at the Fringe Fest, or if not in Ottawa go see Fringe in your own town. If your city does not showcase a Fringe Fest, you should consider moving to a more exciting locale.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I love the Alien movies. All four of them, though even my adoration could not get me through the ones where they fight Predators. Hence, I have been in great anticipation of Ridley Scott's return to the universe which he helped introduce to the movie going public back in 1979.

I wanted to see it so badly that I ventured from the safe and high quality confines of The Mayfair Theatre to view it. As I am always quick to point out on these evil multiplex going experiences, I did not pay to get in and so it's not really like cheating on my theatre. I kinda hate multiplexes. The patrons are a different level of not caring and rude, the employees often clearly don't care, and the quality of the projection is often sub-par. And there's the fun of hearing explosions from the neighbouring screen leak over into your movie watching experience (in this case I think I heard a great deal of Men in Black III).

I had a pretty good feeling that Prometheus was going to have a certain aspect of damned if you do and damned if you don't about it. If the movie had Noomi Rapace running around fighting giant space bug monsters there would be accusations that it was just an unnecessary copy-cat prequel. And if it was wildly different, fans would complain that it wasn't an Alien movie. It was likely a good idea to keep 'Alien: Episode 1' out of the title, and to only drop the basest hints of any connection to the universe via the ad campaign leading up to the films release.

There seemed to be many complaints that the movie was hard to follow and confusing, these complaints came from people who are idiots. I really enjoyed the movie, especially because it was completely embedded in the Alien universe and yet a completely stand-alone tale. If you have no knowledge that Sigourney Weaver has fought off terrifying space bugs on a number of occasions, that will not hinder the tale for you even in the least. Anyone who found Prometheus too complex should go back to watching offerings more to their intelligence level, mayhaps one of the Alien vs Predator offerings would be more to your liking.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Finished listening to the autobiographical Canadian comedic audio-book from Samantha Bee, 'i know i am, but what are you?'. Samantha and her husband Jason Jones have been a point of pride for a number of years as the Canadian content quotient on The Daily Show. I am a big fan of books in the audio format, especially for their multitasking advantages. I can knock off a few dozen books a year from my to-read check-list while walking the dog, doing dishes, walking to work or whatever.

I've listened to a number of comedians narrate their own work in the last few years, the likes of Lewis Black, Steve Martin, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey and others. Although I think that Samantha's fake-news correspondent work is intelligent and very often hilarious in a laugh-out-loud manner. I especially enjoy when she brings her Canadian heritage into the mix, or along with her husband plays up the horrible parent angle. As we all know, neglectful parenting is always nothing but complete hilarity.

The only flaw with the life story of comedians, is that their real life isn't often all that funny. They take their personal pain and dark upbringing and translate that into a profitable career of making others laugh and bringing joy to the masses. So, her personal story is a little bit of a drudge to get through. There's a lot of depressing stories, negative family life, rough turns, and all around bad times. Even if a big fan of Samantha Bee, I might recommend sticking to enjoying her talents via the world of fake news.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

At the excellent 2nd hand record shop Turning Point, I picked up the latest Tenacious D album titled Rize of the Fenix. I purchased it in the once popular compact disc format. Before the magic of pulling endless amounts of music out of thin air and putting it on a tiny pocket-sized magical electronic device, humans purchased discs or even audio tape containing music to bring home or put into their cars and listen to. I don't buy such things often, except for bands that I really love, the likes of Weezer, Gorillaz or of course Tenacious D.

I am so glad that the disastrous flop of a feature film did not destroy the awesome greatness that is Tenacious D. Flop does not necessarily equate to bad film of course, I thought the movie was one of the great modern musicals. One of my dreams is to get to see the D preform live, so I'm relieved that lacklustre box office receipts did not equal retirement and walking into the sunset for the comedic rock and roll powerhouse duo. Hopefully Jack Black's acting work on such cinematic milestones as The Holiday, Gulliver's Travels and Year One won't keep the band away from us for another much too long six year hiatus.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Dark Knight's master plan to save the world via a whole bunch of Batmen and sidekicks all over the planet program has been incorporated into the New 52 universe with the re-booted Batman Inc #1 (it was a couple weeks ago actually, but I'm way behind on my comic book reading responsibilities). If only for the panel posted above, it was a great issue. Grant Morrison is my favourite comic book writer, Damien Wayne / Robin may become his greatest contribution to the DC Comics universe, and I hope that Batcow shows up again as part of his Gotham City world-building legacy.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tonight I read the first of a whopping 35 total comics that will be published under the Before Watchmen banner from DC Comics (7 mini-series and a one-shot epilogue). First out of the prequel gates is The Minutemen, written and drawn by the great Darwyn Cooke. Besides for getting points for being Canadian, Darwyn has produced some of the best comic book stories of our time: The New Frontier, Catwoman: Selina's Big Score, The Spirit, and an amazing story within a great ongoing series - Jonah Hex #33.

I've completely flip-flopped on my view towards DC's revisiting to the Watchmen universe. The Watchmen is one of my favourite comic books of all time, it is a self-contained story, and I thought should have been left alone. It was Alan Moore's reaction to the new comics that made me go turn-coat on him. He seems in a state of utmost offended shock that DC produce this series, and that anyone working on it is a monster. There's a few points of debate that I think stand against the genius writer's outrage.

No one forced Alan Moore to write The Watchmen for DC back in the day. There were plenty of creator owned books on the comic store shelves in the mid-1980's, there was Cerebus, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Love and Rockets, and Concrete to name but a few. Since The Watchmen doesn't feature characters from the Justice League or Teen Titans, why didn't he just go the indie route with his ideas?

Alan Moore also seems to be up in arms the anyone else mess with his characters. Even though he in his past have written stories featuring Swamp Thing, Superman, Batman, Batgirl, Joker, etc...none of which of course were created by him. On top of that, like so much of Alan Moore's comic book work, The Watchmen are just archetypes of pre-existing characters. Every single Watchmen found it's influence from Charlton Comics characters: The Comedian = Peacemaker, Doctor Manhattan = Captain Atom, Nite Owl = Blue Beetle, Ozymandias = Peter Cannon Thunderbolt, Rorschach = The Question, and Silk Spectre = Nightshade. Alan Moore is one of the greatest writers, many would say the greatest, but he is also very fond of making use of other people's characters.

For his very hypocritical stance, and maybe also to piss off hipster fan-boys, I decided to give Before Watchmen a chance. That, and because of the indisputable fact that DC managed to convince some of the best talent working in the medium to jump on board. Besides for Darwyn, you also have the likes of Amanda Conner, J. Michael Straczynski, Brian Azzarello, Len Wein, and J. G. Jones working on the project. They also have Adam Hughes actually drawing a comic book for the first time in ages, and not only Andy Kubert, but his living legend father Joe Kubert lending his artistic talents.

All the geek controversy aside, all that really matters is if these things are good. Well, not only was Minutemen #1 good, it was kind of great. And if all the other writers and artists step up to the plate in a similar manner, I think this expended Watchmen universe undertaking will be a worthwhile one indeed. And if it pisses off Alan Moore and pretentious fan-boys, well that is just a bonus.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Tonight I get to watch not one but a double-header of bouts involving my friends in the Montreal Roller Derby league. An extra bonus is that I'm not helping out a referee crew or distracted with a camera in hand shooting footage for a documentary. I made sure to visit on a night where none of my friends were playing against each other. I have derby family on multiple teams in the league here, and I am too delicate to handle the heart-stopping angst of watching loved ones battle it out against each other in an athletic manner. Watching derby when you have friends on a team is stressful enough, watching friends or a couple battle it out is a whole new level of chaos and conflict. I predict a double win for my friends, and no need for split loyalty from me.

Friday, June 08, 2012

My girlfriend and I headed for Montreal to visit some of the relocated derby family with the added multi-tasking bonus that the Star Wars Identities exhibit happened to be on at the Montreal Science Centre.

Last year the same Science Centre hosted an Indiana Jones exhibit which mixed historical and mythological themes with costumes, props and behind-the-scenes items. The educational quotient for the new Star Wars exhibit explores the identity that a culture and individual has via origin, influence and choices. What makes an orphaned teen-aged farm-boy raised by an uncle and aunt become a hero? What makes a freed slave raised by a single mom become evil?

You receive a bracelet so at check in at points through-out the exhibit you can answer questions about your upbringing, views, community and world views. Because it's a Star Wars exhibit, you can also choose whether you are a Wookiee, Mon Calamari, or Ewok (amongst other species choices). You also get a thing to hang around your neck with an attached ear-piece so you can watch / listen to a number of video screens through-out the exhibit.

Not being tied down to a tour guide or time limit worked out very well for me, we were told that walking through would take about 90 minutes, it took us about an hour longer than that. I studied every story-board and character design intently, stood in awe before a giant fleet of space-ship and vehicle models, and got choked up in the presence of C3P0, Boba Fett and Chewbacca. Most impressively, I made it out of the thing without making a run for it after grabbing a lightsaber off of a Jedi costumed mannequin and being tackled by a security guard or two.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

I don't get to watch many movies at home, mainly because on top of a hectic schedule I get into free movies at the Mayfair whenever I want. When a night off at home does open up and I'm going to watch a movie, you would think that I would make the most of my spare time and watch some cinematic classic that I have yet to see. I have seen an endless amount of movies, but there are always holes in the checklist of movies I haven't gotten around to watch.

Alas, I am not so bright, and so I am in the habit of purposefully watching garbage. The latest horrible movie that I went out of my way to watch was Eddie Murphy's 1989 gangster film, Harlem Nights. I find that lessons can be learned from the worst that films have to offer. If you can handle it, there's something interesting or worth-while that can be taken away from any film...unless Michael Bay or Joel Schumacher were involved.

Harlem Nights is an example that if you have some success in Hollywood you can get away with murder. In fact, I think some Hollywood royalty have indeed gotten away with actual killing of a person murder. In this case though, Eddie metaphorically got away with murder by being allowed to direct a horrible movie. This was all thanks to Eddie having success with a couple of Beverly Hills Cops films amongst other success. On paper the film sounds like a decent idea. The film is filled with bi time talent, gangster movies are cool, and it even has a nice Drew Struzan poster to garner your attention. Plus, Eddie was able to cast a couple of his heroes in the movie in the form of Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx.

It's clear that despite a lot of time on film sets, Eddie had little or no idea as to how to direct or write a film. Along with that, any time he had a bad idea or might need a bit of a re-write or an additional take, I have a feeling no one bothered to voice an opinion. Meaning that the movie is terribly uneven, it's not sure if it's a comedy or gangster drama, it's not sure whether it's light or dark. Some scenes go on to long, there are moments when the actor's deliver lines with their backs to the just seemed very rough around the edges and student for a big budget Hollywood effort.

I don't think it's all too shocking that this was Eddie's sole directorial effort.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Tonight I'm going to catch the latest directorial effort from Winnipeg's pride and joy, Guy Maddin. He's not quite Canada's answer to David Lynch, but definitely circles the same bizarre cinematic universe. This film is some kind of gangster / ghost story mash-up, with the eclectic ensemble cast that features Jason Patric (from Speed 2: Cruise Control!? Yes...that Jason Patric), Isabella Rossellini, Udo Kier and Kids in the Hall alum Kevin McDonald. We're hosting the Ottawa premiere of the film at the Mayfair, with two screenings left, June 6th and 7th at 9pm. I don't promise that I will know what the hell is going on in the movie, but I do have a feeling that it will be well worth seeing. Plus any time Guy Maddin does something new it gives poor ole' Winnipeg something to point at and say "Look! We're cool too...we have this guy making weird movies!"

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

In a perfect world, Firefly would have lasted six seasons and there would have been a trilogy of Serenity movies. Instead laugh-track sitcoms get to last a decade and Michael Bay gets to ruin not one, but three Transformers movies (and is in the works to ruin a fourth).

Thankfully we have comic books for talented geeks to fall-back on to tell their stories. Before that lil' Avengers movie, Joss Whedon didn't have the best track record with television ratings or box office revenue. More viewers likely watched one episode of some shameful American Idol contest reality show than the entire run of Firefly, and Deuce Bigelow 2 made more money than Serenity. Our planet if filled with people with horrible taste willing to give over their spare time to terrible offerings of entertainment.

Instead of tv episodes or movies, what we will have many more of is Joss Whedon approved, written by, and executive produced comic books. The collection I just read (partially re-read) is called Serenity: Better Days and features a pre-movie story by Joss himself, a post-movie story from comedian Patton Oswalt and a couple more short tales.

We'll never get more Buffy or Angel episodes, and as much as I dream that it will come to be I doubt that his characters from Serenity will ever see a live-action treatment again either. Luckily, comic books don't have to sell as many units or make as much money to be considered profitable and successful. And what makes comics even better, you never have to work around actors schedules or be worried about fx budgets either.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Supreme #64 is another mention of a comic that came out a while back that I just got around to reading.

The character of Supreme has traveled a strange path from creation to disappearance to re-birth. Initially he appeared in Rob Liefeld's corner of the Image Comics universe as a crazy violent poorly drawn and written Superman. Like all of Rob Liefeld's work it was all levels of terrible. Go and type in Rob Liefeld to Google and look up some images, I guarantee you that you will not find even a single well drawn piece of art.

Then with issue 41, by some unbelievable chain of events, Rob Liefeld tricked Alan Moore to take over the writing reigns on the series. Rob Liefeld is the worst artist in the history of comic books, Alan Moore is one of the best writers in the history of the medium. Maybe Alan needed a paycheck, maybe he just wanted to tell some Superman stories without having to go back to the DC Comics company that he despises so.

Not so surprisingly, the stories were great. Along the normal Alan Moore style and tradition, these tales were inspired (or ripped off depending on your point of view) by recent mythology, in this case the Silver Age of Superman.

Rob Liefeld left Image, started a failed comic book company or two of his own, and Alan Moore and Supreme went away. A decade or so later, Rob Liefeld started publishing comics through Image again, and he brought back a bunch of his books at the next number in the line instead of re-booting at number 1.

Supreme #63, making use of the final long last Alan Moore script, was to be adapted by Erik Larsen. This put me in a precarious position of not wanting to support Rob Liefeld, while at the same time I am a major fan-boy for the work of Erik Larsen. Back in the day I loved his Spidey stuff, and have read all 20 years of his Savage Dragon comics from Image Comics.

Supreme #64 marks the first full Erik Larsen written issue, which also features his artwork as finished by Cory Hamscher. As per usual with Erik's work it's full of imagination and action and is a good old fashioned comic book. It's not photo realistic, it's not filled with pages of talking heads, it doesn't take itself too seriously. It has a Superman kind of guy with a Mickey Mouse head in the background on the cover.

I am looking forward to his run on the book as long as it doesn't distract him from his Savage Dragon duties, and as long as Rob Liefeld doesn't draw a fill-in issue.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

We slept over in Utica and drove to nearby Rome, New York for a matinee bout of men's derby. Ever since men's derby has started creeping back to existence, I have jokingly opposed it. Men can't play derby! What's next, are they going to allow men to drive car's or vote!? It is interesting to see a sport try to gain ground from a male minority. Most of the time, people will see Hockey or Women's Hockey...Basketball or Women's Basketball, but with this it's Derby or Men's Derby.

In a strong girl power world of derby, now we find the player's supporting their male coaches and ref's in their quest to form teams. And the game Sunday afternoon was the first for The Slaughter Squad. They had a short bench and were preparing to battle against a more experienced team, but could tell that they were excited and raring to go...and or terrified...or both.

I was score-catching again, though up until the last minute I thought I was going to get to actually just sit and watch. As an aside, there were gumball machines there that fascinated and terrorized me. The prizes were necklaces featuring tiny brass knuckles, machine guns, grenades, or on the other end of the spectrum, a cross (which, well...I guess that's a torture device too, but people always neglect to remember that).

The men's game was a terrifying bloodbath. There were guys thrown out due to penalties and injured beyond ability to play before half-time. The ladies are definitely rough, but there seemed to be a lot more in the way of professionalism and respect between the teams. One guy hit the ground in a dog-pile, and I saw the anguish on his face right before someone mentioned fear of a dislocated spine. Luckily he was ok. There were also a couple of guys that might have been sweethearts in real life, but on the track looked like crab-fishermen ex-con's. I also noticed that every time a guy got a player he lost his mind. Maybe it's because the guys are all newer to the game, maybe it's a base different between guys and girls in the way they play sports. Someone smarter to me can figure that out I'm sure.

The game didn't even make it all the way through 'cause the Ottawa's team bench ran short. They celebrated their accomplishment in not being killed, and actually holding their own points wise for most the bout.

There's been a lot of peer pressure to get me in skates. After witnessing a men's game, I'm happy to stay on the sidelines. Sure playing derby would be cool, but it would also be cool to form a band or learn to fly helicopters, and I don't think I'm going to get around to any of those things any time soon. Not enough hours in the day. None the less, if you get a chance to see a men's game, do check it out, just be sure to stay in the safety of the bleachers to avoid the danger of spine dislocation.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Road tripped down to Utica, New York with my Rideau Valley Roller Girl family. Besides for the normal fun and adventure of a roller derby road trip, my goal was to track down a 7-11 and get a Slurpee in an Avengers cup. Alas, just like in Ottawa, 7-11's seem to have gone extinct there too.

Drove past a lot of cows, quite a few "sleeping" animals at the side of the road, and a lot of strange front lawn decorations ranging from Moses to dinosaurs. Passed by a big Lifesavers monument, which I think was in honour of the creator of the Lifesaver coming from the town we passed through. Went to a giant sports equipment store, being a Canadian, I was stunned by all the weapons and violent paraphernalia left out alongside the running shoes and tennis rackets. If I had wanted to get all vigilante justice ready, the mall is the place to go for all your crossbow, giant knife and firearm needs.

The staff at the derby rink were great. I think they thought that I was in a position of authority, 'cause they ave me the grand tour and pointed out where everything was. They were even kind enough to get us some vegan pizza for us non-meat / non-cheese eating members of the posse.

The Vixens lost a close fought battle to the CNY All Stars, 192 - 183. As per usual I found it very hard to pretend to be neutral and refrain from cheering while helping out with the score-keeping.

Friday, June 01, 2012

In 2007 there was a funny little dark comedy titled Death at a Funeral. I watched it recently, the main attraction being that it was directed by Frank Oz and that Peter Dinklage and Serenity alum Alan Tudyk and were members of the ensemble cast.

In 2010, since seemingly Hollywood is completely fed up with the concept of coming up with new ideas, an American re-make was produced. This version had a different but impressive cast including Chris Rock, Danny Glover, Tracy Morgan and Luke Wilson. For the geek inclined, also in the film were Zoe Saldana (Uhura!), another Serenity connection in Ron Glass (who of course played Shepherd Book), and James Marsden (Cyclops!). Marsden takes an impressive comedic turn and steals the show, in a similar manner that Tudyk did in the original in the same role.

There were two extra interesting and trivia note-worthy curiosities of the re-make of a film that only came out three years previous. One is that Peter Dinklage plays the exact same character as he did in the British version. The other oddity is that the credit is simply listed as 'written by Dean Craig'. My suspicion is that the script wasn't even adapted, that they just used the exact same one used for the original. I don't know if that's another trend for unambitious Hollywood, though it seems like a logical turn if they want to save some pre-production development money. The movies seemed pretty much exactly the same, with only a couple of dialog divergences that I would guess came from improved lines from Chris Rock or Tracey Morgan.

Not a bad movie, but with remake's of this fashion there's always a slight disappointment, even when the movie is ok. I'd rather see everyone involved do something interesting and new, instead of re-hashed, traced, and recently seen in original form.

PS - Look at that poster. Horrible. The level of movie poster artistry is shameful. A kid on a Mac could photoshop a better poster together.