Junkpile – 4.10.11

Junkpile is a semi-regular feature wherein I dump all the random stuff that isn’t fit for its own post.


Monster Brains linked us to a pretty super documentary on Cronenberg’s adaptation of Naked Lunch, a film I despised when I saw it in the theater because it “wasn’t the book,” but now have a great deal more respect for on many levels.


David Bordwell has some interesting things to say (as usual), this time about the appeal of seeing actors/characters smoke onscreen.

Robert Hood revisits his piece for Monster Awareness Month on blobs and swamp monsters in film and comics. Those are two classifcations of beasties I can never get enough of myself.


Over at TCM’s Movie Moorlocks, keelsetter puts up a spirited defense for Carpenter’s They Live against Alex Cox’s assertion that the Roddy Piper/Keith David alley dust-up essentailly ruins the fillm. I’ve never heard anyone talk shit about that fight, so Cox’s view was news to me.

Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings liked Dragon Age II as well and had some pretty saliant points to make about it in his review. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s Carl, Stacie, Me, and most of the professional video game critical community versus…well, everyone else on the Internet. Oh well, this is me donning my 215 armor with +25% Defense and going back to play some more.

Sean T Collins has started a new site devoted entirely to G.R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series. Fair warning – spoilers abound.

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Junkpile – 3.8.2011

Same Hat! has a nifty story called “Oni” by Go Nagai, originally published in Marvel’s late, great Epic Magazine. That’s some very metal stuff, right there.

I’ve had it up to here with all these minimalist movie poster experiments that make the rounds, but this one by Justin Erickson achieves a high score. (via Twitch)

Guillermo Del Toro’s Cruisin’ adaptation of “At The Mountains of Madness” has been shelved by Universal. Drew McWeeny breaks down why this isn’t such a shock.

Speaking of Del Toro, for all his acclaimed monster-crafting, even on his best day he can’t approach that the grotesque splendor of A. Paul Weber (via Monster Brains).

The Comics Journal’s website has re-launched under the auspices of the former Comics Comics crew of Tim Hodler and Dan Nadel. The site will also host regular columns by Jeet Heer, Vanessa Davis, Frank Santoro, Joe “Jog” McCulloch, and web pal Sean T Collins. That’s a line-up that instantly puts just about every other comics-related site in the dust, IMO. Bookmark it.

I’d buy a full price ticket for an Inhumans movie, although the whole “splinter-cell for a Kree invasion thing” strikes me as less exciting and innovative than the source material’s concepts, even if it does lend itself to an easy-to-market story hook the original admittedly lacks.

Curt Purcell is reading G.R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones series for the first time. As usual, expect salient insights and controversial opinions about shit you missed when you read it.

And this new French THOR trailer makes the movie look très divertissant indeed…

Junkpile – 2.10.11

Junkpile is a semi-regular feature wherein I dump all the random stuff that isn’t fit for its own post.

Aaaaand I’m back.

Frankly, blogging’s been the last thing I’ve wanted to do lately. In October, my wife and I found out we’re having another baby at the end of May. In December, I found out I’m being laid off at the beginning of March.

You don’t have to be Detective Chimp to figure out where the problem lies there.

Couple that with a death in the family early this month, three birthdays, four doctor’s appointments, and trying to juggle extra work to try and convince my employer to maybe, just maybe, keep me on, and you can see why I haven’t been able to muster much enthusiasm about the bologna going on in Hollywood or the comics industry lately.

Still, I find myself with some free time today, so let’s see what’s going on, shall we?

IO9 has a new design. Of course, the problem with IO9 has never been the site’s design—the problem is that the site’s tagline states “it comes from the future,” yet its news and coverage always feel a week late. And don’t even get me started on their ‘reviews’…

I guess I shouldn’t feel bad about getting laid off—even Guitar Hero has been given the pink slip. I just picture Axel Steel continuing to tear off some licks as the cane pulls him towards the curtain, stage left.

Final Girl’s Stacie Ponder has diversified and started Jill Sandwich, a new blog focusing solely on video games. As always, Stacie’s writing is sharp and hilarious, and her take on games is most definitely more casual than what you’ll find on most other gaming blogs.

I fully admit that Jesus Orellana’s short film ROSA seems to pay not-so-subtle homage to two or three dozen other movies, games, and book covers, but it has an aesthetic I like a lot (as one of the commenters over at Twitch remarked, it definitely feels a bit like the work of Tsutomu Nihei) and I have a weakness for gothy robot warriors.  Plus, the film clocks in at about eight minutes, which sounds right for a project like this.

In my absence, Sean T Collins and Matt Weigle have turned their wonderous Destructor stories into an ongoing webcomic, and now in COLOR. I posted a link to the first Destructor strip many moons ago, and my enthusiasm remains strong for the world Collins and Weigle are building here.

Speaking of webcomics, Axe Cop continues to astound. Making a great thing even greatier, there’re some animated films based on the first few strips, and a neat live-action interpretation of the first adventure. Your life won’t be complete until you indulge.

Yes, I will see a movie called Frankenstein’s Army, particularly after watching this promo reel (NSFW). Hopefully, the filmmakers will have better luck getting this movie off the ground than they had with their “nazi zombie invasion by hot air balloon” concept a few years back.

No, I have no idea what game David O Russell is talking about here, but it sure isn’t Uncharted.

Al Columbia’s interview with Robin McConnell (who really needs to get his Inkstuds iTunes subscription thingee worked out) finally yields the answer to the age-old question, “So what ever happened to Big Numbers #4 anyway?”

Speaking of lost projects, Bioware’s Ray Muzyka revealed this week that they once prototyped a Baldur’s Gate-style kung-fu game on the Infinity Engine called, get this, Five Fingers of Death! This is one of those “you don’t know what your life is missing until someone tells you” moments. Initiate ‘Infinite Sadness’ protocol in five…four…three…

In other game news, apparently Bulletstorm is going to make 9-year old boys run around sticking fireworks up old ladies’ bottoms or something. Kotaku breaks down the latest affront to journalism from FOX news. Comics-own Rick Remender scripted the new multi-platform game.

I truly, truly loved David O’Reilly’s The External World.  No. Really. I loved it. Even more than Please Say Something, which is saying something. Of course, TEW may not be to everyone’s tastes; I spent ten minutes last night trying to explain to my wife why the piano teacher/student bit was so awesome, finally giving up after I had literally brought myself to tears laughing while recalling it.

Ryan Gosling is attached to the Logan’s Run redeux, with the latest draft written by Alex Garland, I believe. I offer this up solely because I have a inexplicable fascination with this particular project; it’s been in the works for at least sixteen years!

Melissa Rosenberg is taking a crack at the screenplay for the Justin Lin-directed Highlander remake. To heighten fan interest in the remake, Highlander cosplayers will be touring the nation’s malls and Subway sandwich shops handing out free severed-head key chains to lucky bystanders.

“There can be only one.” And thankfully.

I’ve started watching Battlestar Galactica. Like Curt Purcell, I’m late to the table for this one. My only reason for not doing so earlier is that the Netflix Instant Watch had restricted the frak’n pilot episode to Disc Only up until a few weeks ago. Now I, too, am soaking up this tense, engaging, and thoughtful military space opera. I might throw up some more organized thoughts at the sister site down the road, although honestly I’m just enjoying the hell out of the show right now.

Lastly, we are just three short weeks away from Dragon Age II, my fellow fantasy RPG nerds. I’ve clocked in more than 100 hours in Dragon Age: Origins and were it not for the fact that I’m punching my way through Mass Effect II at the moment, I’d probably still be playing the damn thing. Not since Baldur’s Gate has an RPG scratched so many itches for me, and to say I’m excited to see what the Bioware boys have come up with for DAII would be an understatement. Luckily, I pre-ordered it before losing my job, so I can sit on my fanny and play it guilt-free for hours and hours come March should I fail to find work before then. My wife is, needless to say, thrilled.

Thrilled.

Anyway, that’s enough lip outta me. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

Junkpile – 07.29.10

Junkpile is a semi-regular feature wherein I dump all the random stuff that isn’t fit for its own post.

More on Sinatoro

IO9 has a nice little interview with Grant Morrison and director Adam Egypt Mortimer, who dropped this dandy little qoute:

Sinatoro is a shamanistic code word for “Frank Sinatra.” There’s no actual analogue to Sinatra, but the movie draws from the Sinatra ideal — the blue-eyed American pop icon with these strange aspirations to be connected to gangsters. It’s a mnemonic code, it’s an archetype.

del Toro Finally Mounts His Expedition

Seems like I’ve been hearing about this fever dream of Guilermo del Toro’s for ten years now, but it finally seems like the ribald Spaniard is finally getting to make his adaption of At The Mountains of Madness – and with none other than James Cameron in the Producer’s chair. Good for del Toro. I’m not his biggest fan, but I like his work well enough – I’m the tasteless lunatic who liked Hellboy 2 much more than the first, although I thought Pans Labyrinth wasn’t as strong as The Devil’s Backbone.  The source short story is certainly one of Lovecraft’s more straight sci-fi pieces, with a clear backstory provided for the beasties the expedition encounters. Not his most terrifying work by any measure, but I can easily see how it can tweaked for a lively movie.

Thor Has The Destroyer

And he looks sufficiently Gortish.

Scott Pilgrim vs. My Expectations or “Does anyone remember Laughter?”

(SPOILER FREE) I have a confession here – I really adore Scott Pilgrim more for its humor than its heart. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m invested in Scott and Ramona and Knives and Young Neil and Stephen Stills and Wallace and the rest, but that investment came from being entertained by these characters. For me, the series always worked best when creator Bryan Lee O’Malley made with the funny, because the guy knew how to deliver a joke. From how he’d lay out his panels to the over-the-top reactions of his characters, to the unreasonably hilarious lines that would float up from their mouths, Scott Pilgrim delivered more laughs, and sheer joy, for me in a single volume than most sitcoms can muster in an entire season (unless we’re talking Arrested Development). I mean, this panel alone (from Vol 3) always cracks me up on a number of levels:

But in Volume Five, Scott went through some serious shit and the humor shifted into a different pitch. I didn’t mind it so much, and given the direction the story was taking it was appropriate. Yet it was in Volume Five that I began to suspect that O’Malley was more interested in delivering something poignant than something smashingly entertaining for his final volume.

I was wrong, but I was also right.

Volume Six is just about the most frenetic and kinetic  in the entire series and that’s saying something. I don’t know if hanging with all those Hollywood types infected O’Malley’s approach to this final battle between Gideon Graves and Scott, but it sure as hell feels like a classic big-budget Hollywod dust-up as rendered with all-due exuberance by a dude who has soaked up the visual language of Naruto, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Hell-If-I-Know over the course of a life-time.

Yet O’Malley does his best to give this fight an emotional component as well, and if he succeeds at all in this, it’s in how he makes the fight more Ramona’s battle than Scott and Gideon’s. The problem, of course, is that for five volumes, Ramona has been the distant aloof Mystery Chick, which somewhat undermines what O’Malley attempts to pull off with her in Volume Six. It works, but not as well as it should have. It relies more on our desire to see Ramona get her shit together after five volumes of keeping Scott (and us) at arm’s length.

Yet, while I can appreciate, and even enjoy, what O’Malley is shooting for in Volume Six, I didn’t love the wrap up. It didn’t delight me and I laughed at loud maybe three times, which is an all-time low for this series with me. As much as I thought O’Malley’s visuals and cartooning in general were really strong, his writing was looser and less adroit – jokes fell flat for me in quite a few places and I’ve never experienced that in a Scott Pilgrim chapter to date. The excitement of Scott and Romona’s duel with Gideon is undercut by how inevitable and perfunctory it all feels.

Having said that, the last four or five pages brought a tear to my eye. It’s a beautiful capper for a series I love, and for characters I really liked to spend time with – even Scott when he was at his most selfish and obnoxious. But that tear was earned by five years of funny, life-affirming chapters prior to this one.

So, yeah, I put down Volume Six and felt moved but that’s all. While being moved by a comic would be enough for me in any other case, it’s not enough for me with Scott Pilgrim. The thing I love most about Scott Pilgrim was the thing in shortest supply here in Volume Six. Your mileage may vary. And I do whole-heartedly recommend the entire series, including Volume Six, if you’ve been on the fence. I can’t imagine my life without this one my shelf.

That’s enough outta me. You know what to do.

Junkpile – 07.27.10

Junkpile is a semi-regular feature wherein I dump all the random stuff that isn’t fit for its own post.

Sucker Punch

A few things occur to me after watching the trailer for Zack Snyder’s next movie: 1) the blue and orange palette has been so overused in advertising, film, and art in general that I now take 2D6 damage to my Enthusiasm whenever I see it employed – and yet there are still some undeniably gorgeous shots on display (see above); 2) this thing will probably sell hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise to tens of thousands of Manga-loving, Hot Topic-shopping, MTV video game playin’ teenagers – most of them girls – prior to its release; and 3) Over the past five years, I’ve rewatched Zach Snyder films more often than those of any other director who isn’t Joel and Ethan Coen, Wes Anderson, or Edgar Wright – so there’s a good chance that I’ll saddle up for this.

The Crow Remake Gets Interesting

According to the gossipy little parrots at Bleeding Cool, Nick Cave is rewriting the script for the long-threatened remake of The Crow.  I own a lot of Nick Cave – from his early blistering magnificent turn with The Birthday Party up to and including The Proposition, the last film he wrote for director John Hillcoat. I’m also a big fan of both J.O. Barr’s original comic and the first film (although the latter more for sentimental reasons than any claim to its overall quality). So this news intrigues me. True, I’d be more excited if this was Cave circa Henry’s Dream or Let Love In, but if they let him stick true to his southern gothic, Old Testament-flavored takes on love and violence, this could be pretty great. Or, you know, it could be more like this, which wasn’t…great.

Fanboys and the Infinite Sadness

The only thing more fun than Marvel’s reveals that the Cosmic Cube will play a part in Captain America and that Thor will feature the infinite crossover-generating Infinity Gauntlet is the fevered fanboy speculation on how these items will play into the movies. Mind you, the Gauntlet might just be some Easter Egg thrown into the background while Odin is flossing his teeth, but that doesn’t stop the rabid pontificating and theorizing. Personally, sure, I’d LOVE to see the Avengers go into space and take on Thanos. That would be sweet. But to speculate that this is what’s going to happen based on a prop in a case? That’s just chasing your own tail, son.

It’s Grant Morrison’s World and We’re Just Living In It

Are you a Grant Morrison fan? I am. Which is why I’m excited to learn that he’s scripting a new low-budget sci-fi flick, getting his works Joe the Barbarian and All-Star Superman adapted into films, starting a new Batman title, still working on Multiversity, planning a big DC comics thingee with Geoff Johns, and giving us all ten more pages of Frank Quitely-drawn greatness for a WE3 Absolute edition (oh, and the announcement that Quitely’s also drawing the Charlton Universe/Watchmen riff in that Multiversity line – yipes!).  There isn’t a single project in that sentence that doesn’t make my fan flag unfurl.

Wow, Robert Downey Jr. is Kind of a Dick

Or so it seems to me after seeing him crack wise about a stabbing earlier in Hall H at the Con prior to the Marvel panel. Dude could have literally lost an eye, man. Plus, is anyone else tired of Downey’s pompous swagger and self-magnified air of pop royalty these days or is it just me?

Blah Blah Blah

Still waiting for Amazon to deliver my pre-ordered copy of Scott Pilgrim Vol 6. Finished Batman: Arkham Ayslum (great game, BTW). Been reading lots of Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane and Michael Moorcock Eternal Champion stuff.

That’s all I got. Smoke ’em if you got ’em.

Junkpile – 02.24.10

Junkpile is a semi-regular feature wherein I dump all the random stuff that isn’t fit for its own post.

Song of Fire and Ice

I was reminded by this post that HBO’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series is well under way, with the pilot being shot as we speak. This site has a nice breakdown of the casting and I can’t find much to argue with based on the headshots, although I find it interesting that I pictured some of the cast as being relatively older than their portrayals seem to be skewing. I do agree with Tom Spurgeon in the comments section of Collins’ post that casting the kids must have been a real bitch considering how much is asked of them in the series; a lot depends on their characterization and it’s all too easy to imagine the series stumbling into unwatchable territories should one or more of these young actors be unable to handle the weighty dialogue or emotions required to carry their scenes – just think back on how awful Jake Lloyd was in the first Star Wars prequel.

I have some doubts as to how successful this series will be in making Martin’s series more palatable as a television serial. The books have their fair share of tension and drama, and there are some terrific fan-service sequences in the offering (if they go by the “One Season = One Book” formula as reported, the final shot of the first season should raise more than few goose-bumps, as should the closing scene of Season Three). Still, the books aren’t paced in such a way as to make their adaptation to the one hour weekly format obvious or easy to see. There are huge chunks of narrative where people are simply shooting the shit or sitting around thinking about their family lineage or relations to other characters. It’s a tough nut to crack.

That said, I loved the first three books and look forward to seeing how they make the transition to the HBO format. The casting has some absolutely inspired choices (Bean and Dinklage being the stand-outs, and my wife is excited that Jennifer Ehle from the BBC adaptation of Sense and Sensibility is cast as Catelyn Stark) and, as I said, there are some truly great moments of action and high drama in the series. At worst, it will be an interesting failure that won’t make it past two seasons, but I’ll take that over the routine any day.

How the hell they’ll breakdown books four and five chronologically is going to be interesting, considering how Martin’s chosen to split them up.

Morrison’s TV Eye

Grant Morrison and Stephen Fry (best known around my house these days as the narrator of the game LittleBigPlanet) are teaming up for a television series over on Limey Island. ‘Nuff said, really.

Parker

As anyone’s who’s been following my Twitter knows, I’ve been burying myself in Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake) novels for the past few months. I’m an easy target for good heist stories, and they don’t get much better than Stark’s Parker series.  I’m planning on writing something up about the series once I have it all cracked – I’m nearly finished with the first series Westlake wrote about Parker before he took a twenty year break from the character. This last book, Butcher’s Moon, is so damn good, though, that I’m reluctant to pick up Westlake’s return to the character – I’m afraid it will end up being like watching The Stooges “comeback” a few years ago.

Comics

Speaking of comebacks, after a four year hiatus from comics, my pal Joey and I are finally getting together a new project that we’re both pretty excited about. I mention it because I’m seeing a lot of work on-line and in the stores these days that has captured my imagination and peaked my interest. From Marra’s line of 80’s style B-comics to Maruca and Rugg’s Afrodesiac, there have been a lot of just mind-blowing ‘indie’ comics that approach comics with a genre sensibility akin to the low-budget film-making mindsets of the 70’s and the 80’s, which I just love – a sort of  “let’s do a sword and sorcery movie, and then we’ll shoot a slasher film the week after that!” kind of gonzo, stop-at-nothing enthusiasm. For most of these folks, it seems that genre isn’t about classification – it’s about identification, if that makes any sense. Which it probably doesn’t.

House of the Devil

I usually don’t pimp movies on here, but I really want to give a shout-out to this dandy gem by director Ti West. A loving recreation of low budget horror films from the 80’s, West’s film manages to capture everything that is both great and awful in those films – albeit with much better cinematography and acting. The pacing is glacial and dialogue heavy for the first three quarters of the film, which makes the sudden and explosive bursts of violence even more grotesque. The ending is suitably rushed, and ends in a predictably ham-fisted coda, but all of that is just keeping with the homage.

I adored it. Having said that, there are a few places where West’s modern sensibilities intrude and House of the Devil loses some of it’s period authenticity – some of the lighting is just too fucking good for a film like this and one shocking death early in the film doesn’t cut where it would have in similar films from the period, but that’s something only someone who has spent waaaayyy too many late nights watching these shitty little films would notice. It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste, but for this guy House of the Devil was just a delight.

Until next time…

Junkpile – 01.12.10

Junkpile is a semi-regular feature wherein I dump all the random crap that isn’t fit for its own post.

39 and the Fear is real

Today is the beginning of the end of my 30’s. First of my friends to reach this dubious hallmark. On the plus side, I share this birthday with Rob Zombie. On the downside, I also share it with Rush Limbaugh. I wish I could say it was a wash, but for all his horrorshow cool, Zombie’s existence cannot make-up for all the ill Limbaugh has done. But then again, I see Howard Stern was born today as well – maybe he and Limbaugh cancel each other out and it’s Zombie and I for the win!

Bill Willingham

Note to Bill Willingham: even if Allie was being less than honest when he told everyone there was some coordination between your series and the Buffy book, your response was, at best, unprofessional. I personally think it’s more douchey than anything else. If you have a disagreement with Joss Whedon or Scott Allie, take it behind closed doors. In my opinion, and many others’ I’m sure, you’re just biting the hand that feeds; Joss Whedon’s work is the bedrock upon which your paycheck for Angel is built. The sandbox you’re getting payed to play in is a sandbox he built, and while you may feel you have a moral obligation to keep readers from spending money on your comic under the false pretense that it will tie-in to Joss’s Buffy work, the shitty tone of your letter pretty much guarantees that this guy here won’t be picking up Angel or any other book with your name on it.

But seeing as how I’m a liberal weenie, I’m sure that’s OK with you.

Good-bye, GaragePunk.Com

Sad news – GaragePunk.com, a place I’ve come to really love over the past year or two, closed it’s doors on January 1st (site organizer and host Jeffery Kopp and his wife are dealing with a tremendously stressful and heartbreaking family development).

The good news is many of the podcasters, if not all of them, will continue to throw up their shows at the GaragePunk Hideout. I have my favorites, of course – Way Past Cool, The Nasty Grind Show, Mystery Action, Haunted Shack Theater, Mushi Mushi, Flying Saucer Rock’n’roll, Sonic Nightmares – but they’re all top notch.

Time to smoke ’em if you got ’em.

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Junkpile – 11.25.09

Junkpile is a semi-regular feature wherein I dump all the random crap that isn’t fit for its own post.

Twilight

I wonder if people would hate this franchise so much if it were about the forbidden love between a country music star and a girl from the inner city? I don’t remember much of a stink being made in our circles over The Bridges of Madison County or even High School Musical.  That kind of thing may leave a sour taste in a geek’s mouth, but it certainly never inspired calls for face stabbing. So what puts this franchise on the radar? Geek pundits can go on and on about how horrible the Twilight books and films are, but doesn’t it really boil down to  fan entitlement over vampires themselves? Putting it simply, I think geeks, horror fans in particular, are pissed off that someone has co-opted a piece of their cultural iconography and used it to successfully sell a teen romance. It can’t be the story itself – a teen girl falls in love with an immortal paramour.

But the difference there is that Buffy was a show by geeks that appealed to geeks – it wasn’t designed first and foremost as a love story aimed at young girls. Which brings me back to the sorry truth that I think most geeks are only upset by this franchise because it dared muddy the genre waters and use horror elements in a non-geek approved fashion.  And the worst offense? These “defanged” vampires now have more cultural credit than Buffy…or Christopher Lee…or Near Dark…or Let The Right One In!!! Sparkly “vegetarian” vampires, indeed.

Sad that nobody will take Vampires seriously anymore

Here’s something for you to chew on this Thanksgiving: “Am I really mad at Twilight for making vampires uncool, or am I just mad at myself for not realizing before now that they were never cool?”

And speaking of vegetarian vampires…

Sarah Palin Likes Meat

She says so in her new book. Perhaps she should watch this.

Thanksgiving at the Palin's

What’s in a Genre?

Somebody explain to me how this:

Is a different genre of music than this:

Time to get over your pop bias, dark wavers.

Thanksgiving

I wish this movie existed, if only so I could watch it tomorrow and fast forward all the boring bits…oh, wait, that’s exactly what this trailer does.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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