Batman & Robin #16
Doom Patrol #16
Secret Six #27
Tron: Original Movie Adaptation #1
Strange Tales #2
Captain America: Man Out Of Time #1
Slamarama #1 - 2
Zelig - I had never even heard of Zelig until I borrowed the DVD off my father-in-law, but I loved it. Basically Woody Allen’s version of a superhero story, dealing with both the psychology and celebrity of having a super-power in the 1920s, but in a very naturalistic way and in a documentary format…right up my ally. 3-Story or Demo or countless other indie comics that deal with “real people who have superhuman abilities” share a common bond. Next to What’s Up Tiger Lily, my favourite Allen film, hands down. I was curious what they meant by “State of the art effects” but it does what Forrest Gump would do (placing Allen into old films, newsreels or photographs) only ten years before.
Cropsey (netflix) - Cropsey is a Long Island catch-all name for the boogeyman or dangerous strangers intent on doing children harm, used in ghost stories or as a parental warning to children. Between the mid-70’s and late-80’s a number of mentally handicapped children went missing, and it wasn’t until the arrest on one man did they start to suspect they were all connected. But was this man guilty or was he villainized by the public and the press as this legendary boogie man. The film explores the history of Long Island as a dumping ground for garbage and people (alive and dead), looking a specific compound which once housed a TB ward and was a “school” for mentally challenged kids (revealed in a expose early in Geraldo Rivera’s career as a deplorable place). Fascinating with the only drawbacks being the excessive amount of time the directors spend on screen (there’s a Blair Witch-esque sequence that’s rather contrived and out of place) and the unsatisfying resolution… but the latter, at least, was unavoidable. I’m almost certain they’ve made a Law & Order episode or two out of this story.
Tenacious D And The Pick Of Destiny (netflix) - I avoided this because I was really, really burnt out on both Jack Black’s schtick and the Tenacious D brand. After reading the My Year Of Flops casefile and having it actually recommended to me, I decided to give it a go and found it, surprisingly, watchable. It’s not terribly funny, (I rarely laughed-out-loud) but it’s far cleaner and less bodily-fluid intensive than I gave it credit for. It’s the origin story of JB and KG and, if you’re looking at continuity, predates their short-run HBO show. My favourite gag was that JB’s fantasy of having a rock-god status with the POD entailed rocking the socks off of only a mildly larger crowd at the same bar where they hit up open mic nights. Also enjoyed Tim Robbin’s kooky interloper and the Sasquatch sequence was wicked. But overall the conceptual elements were pretty light, the songs rather unengaging, and the comedy slight, yet, there is a certain charm to the underdogs, and I much prefer the D when they’re portrayed as underdogs than when they’re selling out large venues and playing anything more than acoustic heavy metal.
20 Million Miles To Earth - The “classic” sci-fi tale of a Venusian beast set loose on Earth, most famous for its Harryhausen special effects (the monster versus elephant battle was pretty great), but otherwise is completely forgettable, and worse, pointless. It’s a King Kong story, redone but with less heart or meaning. The creature, set loose on earth, has no clear motivation or destination, and the humans chasing it have only the sole motivation of studying it so that they can figure out how best to acclimatize themselves to Venus’ atmosphere. Plus, all those horrendous Italian accents, oy.
Big Man Japan (netflix) - Big Sato is Japan’s protector, defending it from the many weird and abhorrent creatures that attack (from where do they come, and why? It’s not important). But despite being the hero, he’s not loved by the people. His modest domicile is defaced with posters and graphitti debasing and denigrating him, and otherwise the general public seems rather disinterested in him and his exploits. Through a mockumentary lens, and played dead straight by writer/director Hitoshi Matsumoto, Masaru Daisato is Big Sato’s unguarded alter-ego, a middle-aged, now-divorced bachelor, leading a quiet, isolated life. His daughter has been almost totally removed from his life (for fear that she would inherit the job, which has been held by a member of his family for at least three generations). Daisato is the 6th Big Man, but unlike the glory days of fame and wealth his now senile grandfather enjoyed, he’s forced to sell his body to advertising and live under-the-radar from an ever-wary, media saturated public. The private life of Big Sato is the heart of the film, but there’s a confusing POV as these moments are guided by an unseen, but often heard, director, while the style of the film shifts every time Big Man must tussle with yet another outrageous monster (the digital effects aren’t even trying to be realistic, but instead have an uncanny valley quasi realism that makes them even more disturbing, and the design of the monsters would be disturbing if they weren’t so absurdly comical). The film loses all grasp of its narrative function late in the film with, first, an awkward montage sequence, and then a final act that is as bizarre and confounding as any you will see. Skewering everything from monster movies, the media, superhero tales, and even the mockumentary format (to some extent), the film is very sharp, funny and thought provoking, and I loved it. Ultimately it does leaves a few too many questions to be fully satisfying, though… such as: was Daisato really just a tv star and not really a giant monster hunter (doubtful, but then what was the purpose of that last Ultraman-esque act) and where does that light beam come from and go to?
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #6
Birds of Prey #6
Booster Gold #38
Justice League: Generation Lost #13
Mighty Crusaders #5
Red Robin #17
THUNDER Agents #1
Tiny Titans/Little Archie #2
Tron: Betrayal #2
Thief (netflix) - I like Michael Mann movies sometimes because of, and sometimes in spite of their exceptionally deliberate pace. But Thief was at times too deliberate, and on top of, too unflinchingly 80’s in its presentation that I found it a chore to watch. It’s got a great character arc and I could look at Tuesday Weld forever but I don’t really like James Caan or Jim Belushi (there’s one scene where he races across a beach and takes his girlfriend’s legs out from under her which underscores everything I believe about the Belush’s real-life persona, and I can honestly say my favourite scene in the film was the gory shotgun blasts he took to his pudgy torso).
The Short Films of David Lynch (netflix) - Six Men Getting Sick (weird), The Alphabet (also weird), The Amputee (not quite as weird, but still weird)
Assssscat (netflix) - A one hour archive of the much vaunted UBC improv show, featuring Amy Pohler, Matt Walsh, Matt Besser and Ian Roberts, with guests like Andy Daly, Horatio Sanz, Thomas Lennon and more. Funny, but so unrefined it shouldn’t be presented stand-alone… as a series or only live, I think.
Broadway Danny Rose (DVD) - I was excited at first as I thought with the opening as groups of old-school stand-ups hang out in a Deli late in the evening telling stories that we might get a retrospective of the innerworkings of the old-time comedy scene. Alas it wasn’t to be, and my excitement faded, but it was replaced by a winning story and even more a winning performance from Allen who plays not yet another variation of his well-honed persona, but an actual character with different sensibilities (though similar comedic timing) and a “romance” story that plays into none of the tropes I was expecting it to fall into. It’s a harrowing mis-adventure of mistaken identity that almost gets Danny Rose, sub-par talent agent, almost killed by New York mobsters but the adventure leads to the biggest emotional payoff I’ve encountered so far in one of Allen’s films, a crushing blow beautifully acted. In black and white, Allen’s visual presence stays out of the way of the story, but again he lovingly uses New York as a backdrop.
Groundhog Day - the moral of the story is you can’t change the world around you, you can only change yourself, and that happiness comes from selflessness, or something. A delightful idea, generally well executed and a charming film. Andie McDowell, however, not the most alluring or congenial of female leads.
Batman Incorporated #1
Batman: The Return #1
DC Comics Presents: Batman #2
Green Lantern #59
Legion of Super-Heroes #7
Tiny Titans #34
GI Joe/Cobra #10
Sixth Gun #6
Warlord of Mars #2
Grant Morrison’s 18 Days HC.
Purple Rose of Cairo - Next to Interiors, perhaps even more so, this is Woody Allen’s most movie-like movie, tonally at least. The subject matter is one of Allen’s specialties (cinema, damaged marriages, escapism, and celebrity), and for all the high-fantasy its actually an extremely grounded. As a story, it’s tightly controlled, and wildly meta, which is where most of its comedy lay, and in some respects it’s some of Allen’s most clever material. Personally, I was more intrigued by the conceptual elements than the love story, however there was a highly rewarding payoff (if, like Broadway Danny Rose, a melancholy resolution. Definitely not what I was expecting.
I Am Comic (Netflix) - An interesting if slight look at the inner workings of stand-up comedy. In essence, a beginner’s introduction. The idea is sound but to be honest, it’s like a summary and there could seriously be a Ken Russell-like 10-part documentary made out of all of this. Retired comic Ritch Shydner provides a slight framework to the story, but there was perhaps more meat available if it more closely followed him, and utilized his process to highlight the other points the film was making. Fine, but ultimately amateurish.
Yo Gabba Gabba: Goodnight Gabbaland
Yo Gabba Gabba: Gabba Ball
Detective Comics #871
Batman and Robin #17
Teen Titans #79
Captain America #612
Justice League: Generation Lost #14
Avengers vs The Pet Avengers #2
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 4: Realm of Kings
Inland Empire (netflix) - David Lynch’s dizzying non-linear, illogical epic about … well, I’m not even sure Lynch knows what it’s about. Is it a hollywood horror/satire pondering the disposability of its actresses, a parable about infidelity, or just a mind fuck? There’s a starting point, a plot if you will, but it’s abandoned for the majority of the film in favour of a series of interconnected and disconnected stories involving gypsies, Polish mafia, prostitutes, and a series of other less sane ideas. At three hours it’s painfully overlong, often maddeningly obtuse, and Lynch’s newfound preference for budget digital video production took much of the craft out of his directing. It’s an awful looking film, with only the faintest glimmers of Lynch’s light and shadowplay composition. More often than not the cheapness of the DV and sets detracts from the mania, as if Lynch were doing one-better on the abandoned Dogme 95. This is less storytelling and more art if anything, and it would seem it’s appreciated by many critics, but it’s completely lost on me.
A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (netflix) - Woody Allen strives for a Shakespearian farce but through the lens of perhaps his most comfortable psychoanalysis fodder: sex. There’s little here in the way of character or conversation which we haven’t already seen from Allen (and which he no doubt broaches again and again in subsequent films). The atmosphere and setting are apt, and as ever, I’m able to admire his craft, but sometimes, like here, it’s just to prototypical of Allen’s fare and ultimately unrewarding.
Doctor Who: The Three Doctors (netflix) - Got kind of bored with this one. I forgot how cheap early (even third-generation) Who was, and seriously that second Doctor (with his flute) annoys the funnypants off me. The third doctor’s no prize either.
Doctor Who: The Arc (netflix) - the second story for the fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), as he, Sarah Jane and that other guy wind up in the distant future, where mankind’s sole survival is in cryogenic storage in space, waiting for the earth to become habitable again. The Doctor is a brash dick, but the sets are a lot better (even if the effects and costumes are still pretty cheap). Netflix’s stock of Fourth Doctor episodes is scattered, though all of the fourth Doctor’s second-last season is there which I’ll be wading into next.
127 Hours - James Franco truly commands the screen for the bulk of the film’s run-time but what is a fairly straightforward, gripping, confined-space tale of extreme survival is undercut constantly by Danny Boyle’s hyperactive, ADD-style filmmaking with awkward straw-cam and three-panel screen-splits and cheesy flashbacks/dream sequences and a lack of understanding of what the draw to the outdoors was for the character. An intensely cathartic finale however almost makes up for it.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - There’s half a good movie here, but in modest effort to “stick to history” it follows Butch and Sundance to South America where the action, humour and intensity die off. It’s almost as if the entire crew just didn’t care about the second half of the story, there’s little enthusiasm present. And Burt Bacharach? I can see what they were going for but, wow, does it ever not work in places.
Kung-Fu Panda - This one’s going to be a classic of children’s cinema. It understands the Shaw Brothers and other such classic kung-fu films so perfectly and adapts it so well to an all-ages medium. The Furious Five are sadly underplayed, though the compendium Secrets of the Furious Five help satiate this some. We watched this the same day as an airing of the KFP holiday special, though managed to miss most of the show.