F25 - COMIC - Batman and Robin #9 - No joke, BATWOMAN DIES! And Dick, a severly wounded Damian and Alfred fight a resurrected Apokalyptian Batman clone. Awesomeness prevails.
COMIC - X-Factor #202 - The end to the “Invisible Woman is Missing” storyline and it’s really quite crazy (alternate universes and identity swaps play a part), slapstick almost. Highly enjoyable but abruptly concluded… or, rather, abruptly epilogued.
PODCASTS - The Nerdist podcast #2 - Chris and Jonah hang out at Drew Carey’s place and talk about the Second Life video game, robotic toilets, Johnny Carson’s career-making capability of yore and making joke.
Comedy Film Nerds #6 - Graham Elwood and Chris Mancini and Doug Benson talk about the oscar nominees. For film nerds only (so, me) but sound quality kinda sucks.
Exploding Head Movies #6 - The soundtrack to The Fantastic Mr. Fox gets the spotlight, plus more quirk than you can shake a stick at.
F23 - COMIC - GI Joe Classic vol.4 - An uneven collection from issue 30 - 41, but the final two issues set up a great premise (so great that it was ripped off for the film “Superman Returns”). The art is all over the map and dialogue goes from snappy to choppy to hyper-expository to nonsensical and back again, sometimes on the same page.
CD - Ratatat: “Classics” - If my ears could weep with joy, they would do so thanks to Ratatat. It’s been four long years that I’ve deprived myself of this great album, and after one listen to “Kennedy” and I was kicking myself.
COMIC - The Losers volume 1&2 - As far as Vertigo goes, the Losers isn’t as literate or as enthralling as say “the Sandman” or “Y: The Last Man”, but it presents crazy action with a somewhat political backstory involving government conspiracies, drugs and warmongering. It should make a really entertaining film (or series of films). I don’t crave more, but I will enjoy more.
COMIC - Captain America #603 - 50’s Cap has started his militia, and aughts-Cap is trying to infiltrate, but he’s only helped them with their nefarious scheme. Entertaining but the “A Girl Called Nomad” back-up feature isn’t for me.
PODCASTS - Comedy Death Ray #41 - Scott Aukerman and Aimee Mann talk the Winter Olympics, Kumail Nanjiani talks about his encounter with John Mayer: Stand-up Comedian and poet Maya Angelou (Drew Doege) comes to play “Would You Rather”.
Doug Loves Movies with Greg Proops and Ngiao Bealum talk movies they’ve appeared in and seen.
WTF #49 Marc Maron talks with Kumail Nanjiani about his immigrant experience, his life and culture in Pakistan, and how his comedy has impacted his life. Generally a fascinating, insightful discussion about heritage and humour.
WTF #26 Jon Benjamin tries out for the role of Marc Maron’s sidekick, meanwhile “comedian” Come On Now joins Marc in the garage. Plus “Googleheimers”.
F19 - Movie - Brothers of the Head - In the dawn of punk in the UK, conjoined teenaged twins Tom and Barry are, essentially, bought by a record mogul who wants them turned into the next big sensation, becoming underground punk stars with the requisite substance abuse problems and relationship issue. Told in a documentary style, the film presents “archival” documentary footage, talking heads interviews and excerpts from the modern Ken Russell biopic. Gritty and raw and yet it seems utterly, like Twin Falls Idaho was mixed with 24 Hour Party People. (from the directors of Lost in La Mancha)
F18 - PODCASTS- ExHM #4 - some crunchy funky dancey stuff plus the gritty stylings of film composer Marco Beltrami.
ExHM #5 - Hanz Zimmer’s Sherlock Holmes soundtrack takes focus and it’s super keen (reminiscent of the great s/t to Ravenous by Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman).
Doug Loves Movies - David Huntsberger and Brandon Walsh participate in talking about movies.
Comedy Death Ray Radio #40 - Harris Wittels returns to vindicate himself from his last performance with new (and refined comedy material), Christopher Hitchens (James Adomian) discusses his novel and disdain for Valentines Day, and director Gary Marshall (Paul F. Thompkins) calls in to promote his new film, also called “Valentines Day”. Meanwhile Doug Benson hangs out (delivering the now classic line of “I’m going to fill in your butthole so that I can tear you a new one”), and they play the best “Would You Rather” yet.
WTF # - Marc Maron tells his worst “bomb” story (”I got kicked out of country!”) and invites Brendan (Metalocalypse) Small into his garage for some excitable guitar-geek talk.
COMIC - The Shield #6 - Marco Rudy and Mick Gray are just frickin’ amazing. I can’t imagine they’ll be on this title much longer before they’re poached for a Batman or Justice League title. What never worked for me with Captain America, a soldier-turned-superhero, is corrected as the Shield isn’t a superhero, but rather a soldier in a “costume” (which, he notes, causes his enemies to underestimate him). Just terrific stuff.
F11 - COMIC - Batman and Robin #8 - The dead Batman rises from the Lazarus pit, but, uhoh something’s not right. Plus, Batwoman dies, already! Quick, stick her in the pit. Not Morrison’s best work, but still highly entertaining.
COMIC - Batgirl #7 - Batgirl teams up with Robin to save Batman from Roulette’s trap. Plus Batgirl gets herself a ride that’s like a cross between a light cycle from Tron and the Bat-pod from The Dark Knight. Groovy.
COMIC - Phonogram: The Singles Club #7 - An almost silent issue as Kid-With-Knives gets a song stuck in his head and goes on a manically glee-filled rampage through town. Gorgeously rendered and simplistically told, I’m most surprised that I’ve not heard the song the issue is named after “Wolf Like Me” by TV on the Radio. Boo on me. Boo on Gillen for skimping on the backmatter essays which has become as important to the series as the main stories. I’d rather more prose than the short stories. But that’s a minor complaint since it’s truly all good. Now, isn’t it time for Gillen to open up the PG universe to writers in other cities? Athens, LA, Toronto, NYC…
COMIC - Secret Six #18 - Good work team in handling the Black Lanterns, and Lawton is such a cad, but Amanda Waller is an even bigger one. The best issue of the storyline. I’ll be happy when Nicola Scott is back though, Califiore just isn’t doing it for me.
Podcasts - Comedy Death Ray #39 - Garfunkle and Oates join Scott Aukerman and his step-dad (played by ?) for conversation and sing-song (and Weirder Scott/Odderman Aukerman debuts his new parody of Beyonce’s “Halo” called “Hello“, surprising not even nearly as painful as his Lady Gaga parody)
Exploding Head Movies #4 - GAK dives into the Oscar nominees exploding head first
WTF with Marc Maron - various episodes. Unlike CDR which focuses more on sketches, characters, games and humour, WTF focuses more on conversation and insight from some of the best comedic voices in the game, plus a lot of Marc Maron ranting. A different change of pace, but still interesting for insight into the minds of comedians.
F9 - MOVIE - The White Ribbon - Michael Haneke does it again, and by “it” I mean he’s made a film that leaves you somewhat perplexed and unlikely to find any satisfactory resolution. Haneke constructs a pre-WWI German township and centers in on five of the town’s families: the beer baron, the doctor, the pastor, the farmer and the town steward. A series of mishaps - some perhaps happenstance others more likely the result of mischief - befall the town, leading to much questions about who, how, and why with nary an answer to be found. The story is narrated through the memory and hearsay of the schoolteacher, and as such it’s presented in a very stark, matter-of-fact manner, the sensibility further impressed by its black and white visuals, as well as the methodical pacing and minimalist editing. It’s a marvelous construct, absorbing even (if not entirely scintillating), one’s even prone to forget it’s a modern film. As usual, Haneke leaves the audience with a curious final shot, a town assembly minus our narrator that demands both further examination for details and significance. What is interesting is how the film establishes its characters as “of the time”, creating a certain nostalgic sensibility to the setting, and methodically dismantles it as the characters darker natures reveal themselves and in the background war looms overhead. Not for everyone, but a definite accomplishment.
F8 - TV - Smallville: Absolute Justice - Superstar comics scribe Geoff Johns does himself one better by thrusting gobs of DC Comics backstory into the Smallville universe, primarily the Justice Society of America, but also Amanda Waller (PAM GRIER!!!), Checkmate and the Suicide Squad. The story was fairly decent, more for what it was trying to say than for actual execution, and Stargirl and Icicle Jr. came off pretty damn well. Dr. Fate’s costume was adapted really well even if his powers weren’t really, and Hawkman worked well only on an emotional level but nothing else (visually, they tried hard, but it still didn’t work). The revision of the JSA as a 70’s team was actually a really nice touch as was the reasoning for their disappearance, and I’m glad the show is willing to distance itself from making every super-powered being a result of contact with kryptonite. The ideas in the show, the JSA’s new mission and Checkmate leave tremendous potential for future storylines, or spin-offs even, and actually are much more exciting than the central Clark/Lois, will he/when will he become Superman story.
TV - Green Lantern: First Flight - Credit due, they didn’t make this an origin story, since they broke the origin and got Hal Jordan off-planet before the opening credits. However, the liberties taken with the Green Lantern Corps, their powers and limitations were, well, far too liberal and seemed only in place to make Sinestro seem like a really bad dude right off the bat. Where’s the subtlety, the nuance? The Guardians literally interacted like the Smurfs do and seemed very unlikely to be protectors of the universe. Oh, and Hal Jordan, still the most boring of all Green Lanterns. Not bad, but I desperately hope the live action film fares far, far better.
COMIC - Demo Volume 2 #1 - The Brian Wood/Becky Cloonan series of done-in-ones returns, this issue stepping into Outer Limits/Twilight Zone land, finding a girl wakened by prophetic nightmares trying to figure out the source of them. The conclusion is rather plainly obvious. Wood didn’t bust out his best script here, but Cloonan is decidedly on-point with her art. Gorgeous in B&W.
PODCASTS - Doug Loves Movies:Feb 5 - Samm Levine and Graham Elwood appear but they make way for a surprise guest star: Leonard Maltin. Seriously, this is I Love Movies’ best episode ever. Not its funniest, but most definitely its best.
-Comedy Death Ray Radio #38 - Paul F. Thompkins fills-in as host, welcoming his Grandmothers Jonesy and Queenbee as well as their friend/instructor Janet (all played by the cast of the Superego podcast) and his old friend Kaitlin Olson. The Grandmothers sequence has some really off-beat funny moments, and Paul’s repartee with Kaitlin is a lot of fun. The show is a tad more self-indulgent than most (but not all) CDR episodes.
-Comedy Death Ray Radio BONUS EPISODE 3 - Live from UCB Theatre in NYC, this is an extra-length episode featuring Todd Barry sidekicking like a pro, David Cross taking his licks for being in the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, Zach Galifianakis sounding as jovial as I’ve ever heard him, and an equally annoying/funny bit with “Winnie The Whiney Baby” (John Gemberling), plus Ted Leo performs solo.
-Exploding Head Movies #3 - An eclectic mix of sounds from electronic to Can-rock leads into a profile of Michael Giachinno’s soundtrack to “UP”.
-Superego #2:11 - a really funny sketch podcast. Sketches: Radio request line “Hartlines on the Shore”; country music antisocialite Shunt McGuppin; Rodney Morelli’s Cloud Registry ad; an interview with Nathan the talking Gorilla; the JC Penny End of Days Sale ad; Carl Sagan plus end credits that go on forever.
F5 - COMIC - Milestone Forever #1 - Dwayne McDuffie had a pretty unimpressive run on the Justice League of America recently, owing much to editorial interference, but my biggest problem with the issues that I read, at least, revolved around far too many large-teams-in-enclosed-spaces fight, and the fights were resoundingly dull. It’s unfortunate then that Milestone Forever, which is the swansong to a favourite universe of mine, winds up in the very same predicament, without necessarily the logic to back it up. It’s great to see the characters again, and to see Doc Bright and especially John Paul Leon back on the case, but the center story is lame, and disconnected from the more intriguing and purposeful bookends wherein Dharma foretells the destruction of the universe… at his own hands. (Also, Holocaust totally burns up here, but is the big bad in the DCU Dakota… go figure). Here’s hoping for a stronger finish
Rich Johnston number crunches this issue.
COMIC - Red Robin #8 - I found the first storyline to be so uninteresting that I stopped reading it after the fourth issue, but this one caught my attention again because… OMG… it’s the KILLER MOTH in his old Orange and Green Stripey Pants!!! Sweet sweetback, that’s some awesomeness right there. The rest of it, not all that bad, with a seemingly pointless scene between a resurrected Superboy and Tim tempered by a nice Tam Fox sequence and a genuinely decent set-up for forthcoming stories (though the dialogue on that last page? Ouches).
COMIC - Doom Patrol #7 - Doom Patrol receives a reprieve for another month, but I find it awfully suspect that the DP issue I enjoyed the most didn’t feature the main team at all. Uh oh. The Metal Men back-up was the best yet, but sadly it is no more.
COMIC - Blackest Night: The Question #37 - Denis O’Neil + Greg Rucka, Denys Cowan + Bill Seinkiewicz. The Question + Lady Shiva versus a resurrected and galactically powered Vic Sage. It turned out rather spectacular, which any Question reader of new or old would agree. Casual readers likely won’t give a crap tho. Also, of the Blackest Night tie-ins I’ve read, this had the absolute best solution on how to defeat them… don’t let them “see” you.
F3 - TV - Lost Season 6 eps 1&2 - *Spoilers*
So a rather tragic and beautiful ending to the Sawyer/Juliet relationship was spoiled with a “not dead yet, keep hope alive, oh, I’m dead” scenario which off the bat set the wrong tone for this final season. The constant replay of the final minute before the detonation flash was rather annoying as well. On the good side, I quite loved the “reset” timeline that they’re working with… it would be a much more intriguing show were it the sole focus. As it is, the whole Jacob vs. Black Smoke is of much less interest to me… to the point that I forgot about all the Jacob revelations entirely from last season. The Lazarus pit was an intriguing touch, as was the cast of “other Others” from the background of the plane… but the war that was coming seems to finally be here, and I guess I want to understand but I’m not as interested.
F3 - NET - Jack McBrayer’s Livin’ ‘neath The Law - Funny or Die you dun done it agin.
F2 - DVD - Eric The Viking (the Director’s vSon’sv Cut) - Pythoner Terry Jones wrote a book for his son called Eric The Viking, which was barely adapted by Jones himself into this 1989 modestly-budgeted adventure film starring a young Tim Robbins as a nebbish marauder leading a group of fellow Norsemen on a quest to end the dark days of ragnarok. It’s not without it’s charms, but it’s also rather slight (the lopping of 21 minutes in “the director’s son’s cut” probably not helping any) and ultimately a forgettable side-note to the “Princess Bride”-style fantasy-comedy younger-audience films of the 1980s (though I should note the opening sequence surrounds the humorous investigation of raping and pillaging between Eric and his intended victim, so “younger-audiences” should be taken with a grain of salt).
DVD - Lost Season 1, “Pilot” - A revisiting of the pilot episode before the start of the final season of Lost was in the cards, and I so very quickly was sucked back into the mystery of the island again. The Pilot episode is incredible, visually quite stunning (great directorial work from JJ Abrams) and it’s remarkable how so much of the characters and plot is set up from the get go. There may be some quibbling over continuity regarding the smoke monster, but most of the episode gets away unscathed, and the addictiveness is just as catching the second time around. It’s brilliant TV, meant for TV. I don’t think it could work in any other medium.
TV - Human Target episodes 3 & 4 - While on the one hand it’s hardly what you’d call “must-see TV”, on the other “Human Target” returns to tv the 70’s and 80’s style episodic action/adventure drama ala Charlie’s Angels, MacGyver or The A*Team, but with a bit of a modern bent. Though little is done to jazz up the visual side of it, it’s a straight-forward one-man-action-squad kind of show with a big action sequence or two each episode and it does it fairly well.
F1 - DVD - Moon - I love enclosed-space/limited cast sci-fi films like this one, and this is up there amongst the best. It’s a quirky personal drama starring Sam Rockwell as the sole administrator and inhabitant of a moon harvesting operation. In the waning days of his three year stint Sam starts discovering some abnormalities about his situation and an early twist in plot redefines his entire sense of self. There’s great use of a robotic assistant, GERTY 3000 (voiced by Kevin Spacey) which nicely toys with the evil on-board computer cliche of HAL-9000. All in all a really smart, intriguing film with a phenomenal (and all too easily overlooked, it would seem) performance by Rockwell. A new fav and one of the (or perhaps the) best films of 2009.
DVD - The Hurt Locker - An overdue, glamourless look at the American occupation in Iraq, specifically following an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit as they are called to action numerous times over their remaining 30 day tour. The situations in the film are intense, particularly when the enemy could quite literally be anyone, allies or civilians one day could be insurgents the next. There’s a perpetual sense of “fish out of water” that the three EOD team members must endure, and despite all their guns and armor, they know from experience how unsafe they really are. The characters themselves are almost secondary to their experiences, but they are similarly cogs in the machine and free-spinning at the same time. The film is overlong, and an easy 15 - 20 minutes could be trimmed, but even still, it’s never tedious. I wasn’t fond of the camerawork in the film, which aimed for the hand-held, first person observer perspective, I appreciated the more artful and cinematic sequences that Katherine Bigelow prepared and though the film could have benefitted from that refinement throughout. I suspect that since many countries chose not to participate in the Iraq war that this film will be a bit more potent for viewers in those countries that did (primarily Britain and the US).
COMIC - Secret Six #17 - Is Bronze Tiger a badass? Yes, yes he is. Some great and not-so-great moments in this comic (the art a serious let-down… when’s Nicola Scott back?).
COMIC - Captain America Reborn #6, Captain America: Who Will Wield The Shield one-shot, Captain America #602 - “CA: WWWTS”came out a week after “Reborn” #5 and #602 came out last week, a week before the finale of “Reborn” appeared. Frustrating but true. Also frustrating is how mediocre and almost comedically absurd the “Reborn” series turned out to be. It’s rare to see Ed Brubaker misstep but he’s done so here. Not fatally, mind, but still it’s not a great read. The unwieldy title of “Who Will Wield The Shield” actually provided a fairly decent epilogue to the abruptly ended “Reborn”, wherein Bucky and Steve Rogers hash out who should be Captain America, with Buck happily ready to return the mantle and Steve no so eager to pick it back up. In CA #602, exit Steve Rogers as Bucky’s back in control and on the trail of the rogue ’50’s Cap, whom they seem to refer to as “’50’s Cap” even in-comic. Plus, Nick Fury uses the word “asshat”. Not Bru’s best writing. #602 is backed up by an unwanted Nomad second feature, guest starring the horrendously designed Spider-Girl.
COMIC - Batman and Robin #7 - Batman hits jolly-olde London in the attempt to find a rumoured Lazarus pit so that he may resurrect Bruce Wayne. Morrison revels in a lot of Brit-heavy talk, and Batwoman guest stars, so it’s a winner.
COMIC - Detective Comics #861 - Without J.H. Williams III, Batwoman in “Detective Comics” is still quite good, but not as mind-blowing as it was. “The Losers” artist, Jock, fills in for the current storyline which finds Batman and Batwoman following different paths to the same serial killer, a macabre new villain named Cutter.
COMIC - Teen Titans #79 - bad writing, terrible art and an uninteresting back-up feature. Fail.
COMIC - X-Factor #201 - not sure I’m keen on Shatterstar and Longshot for the team (they seem almost too useful) but a Monet-centric storyline coming up makes me happy.
COMIC - Chew #8 I think I’m enjoying this storyline even more than the first.
COMIC - G.I. Joe/Cobra II #1 It would be amazing if this storyline were even more enjoyable than the first. But I doubt it. Still, off to an interesting start.