Archive for July, 2010
As I lay in bed daydreaming about Tron Legacy just now, I started thinking about how Tron is such a great movie beyond it’s visuals, you know, scriptwise. I started wishing it could get a directors cut or something to eliminate some cheesiness (“who does he calculate he is” was often cited as an example contemporaneously, but I think it’s charming), flesh out the brief scene modeled on the Mos Eisley Cantina, with all the corrupted and, it is suggested, porn programs, and have a more fulfilling ending. I’ll post at some point why I love Tron so much (an essay on par with Tarantino’s vaunted but as yet unpublished defense of Superman Returns), but until then, I wanted to announce that bluray.com just updated it’s listings to include a Tron bluray. As Anikin yalped in Episode 1, yippee!
That’s not just a rhetorical question, that headline. Lately I’ve been watching the fx series, Archer, in glorious HD on the projector and have been thoroughly enchanted. The animation is bold, but simplistic, almost rudimentary, (much of it is done with adobe animator, apparently) and most of the movement is dedicated to various parts of the female anatomy shaking and or jiggling. The animation actually reminds me quite a bit of the 80s PROgrums mentioned in the title. Granted, the dysfunctional family spy agency, with it’s incestuous themes, rampant racicism and sexism, and riotous humor would have been somewhat out of place on Eternia, but the title character is every bit as incompetent as Prince Adam or Cobra. Sterling Archer doesn’t even have to recite a stupid catchphrase that awkwardly repeats ‘power’ to find his manhood. Voiced by H. Jon Benjamin of Home Movies semifame (I loved it on Adult Swim, don’t know if anyone else saw it), Archer is all man, he’s just a first class dolt. And the women in the office are just as hot, and quite a bit more frisky than Tee-la or the Baroness ever thought about being.
The scripts are what differentiate this classic from crappy 80s animation with 6 minutes of original footage per episode. It’s really really funny and clever. (When Archer is shown pictures of a corpulent, hirsute Greek arms dealer he is assigned to kill, he quips, “What, is diabetes busy?”) Needless to say, if you have a high quality home theatre system, or even just a lowly one, you need to stop everything you’re doing and watch this. Right now. I have more to say, but I’ll wait.
Welcome back. JT and also watched the first episode of the MTV show Aeon Flux, which I would call a manga, but whose Wikipedia page does not contain the word. It’s suitably weird and JT, was all like, “What in the heck is this?” Watching it I was reminded of the visual style of perhaps my favorite cartoon from my youth, The Real Ghostbusters, and was sure that that Egon Spangler’s look had been influenced by Aeon Flux and that both had influenced the visual style of Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jansen. Looking back at the visual record, it has become clear I was wrong on all but the last point. TRG came out before Aeon Flux, and I had clearly conflated Tek with Egon. However, it’s without doubt that Tek Jansen is heavily influenced by Aeon Flux. Of that much I’m certain.
Though I finished Scalped night before last, I want to talk this afternoon about Pride of Baghdad, another Brian K Vaughan tour de force based on the bombing of the Baghdad Zoo in 2003. A self-contained, multiple-volume miniseries, it can easily be read in under an hour. Though it’s a quick read, it’s anything but slight. An almost aggressively dark parody of The Lion King (as opposed to the slight, unfocused, mean spirited parody that was Madagascar 2), the collection uses several visual references from its antecedent (for example, the pivotal scene where Simba becomes aware of his own reflection) as a jumping off point for a more realistic and raw depiction of survival of the fittest and (sigh) the circle of life.
At the same time, PoB is a canny allegory for the domestic debate had by US Americans in the run up to war. The arguments don’t break down exactly the same way, but the persuasiveness of fear is startlingly familiar. I’m particularly fond of this//www.dorkgasm.com/node/62 breakdown.
The story telling is vintage Vaughan, with flashbacks and snappy dialogue a-gogo. In addition the art work is visually striking and have the potential to become iconic. One of my favorites is below.
Alas, it’s not likely to become an animated feature anytime soon, as the themes are too dark and adult and everyone dies in the end.
No vampires, zombies, or Christ figures in this one. I recommend, nonetheless.
There is an obvious path that my life is following, I watched FAQ About Time Travel last night HTTM tonight and the new episode of Futurama that JT and I are about to watch is also about time travel. (to be fair, the first was watched as a response to not being able to watch the second, so only the third happened by chance. None involve a zombie, vampire, or Jesus.
I did hear this awesome interview with the voice of all the characters except Peg Bundy:
Ok, so today, the ever so hopeful “short wait” on Hot Tub Time Machine on my Netflix queue changed to “very long wait,” which, pardon my French, is complete connerie. I watched the unrated version On Demand through my cable company, so take that Netflix. Oh, the bluray has the unrated version, plus deleted scenes? $6 is still less than $9. Titties.
Anyhoo, I, like, totally loved HTTM. It had just the right combination of 80s nostalgia, time travel movie references, heavy drug use, and redemptions all around. A potent combination of Groundhog’s Day and Back to the Future, this movie really resonated with me. I could give a detailed description, but it’s about 4 guys who go back in time in a hot tub to fix their crappy lives over one transformative weekend. You surely saw the trailer.
See it, if you haven’t already, just don’t wait for Netflix.
I got the bad news today that Netflix shipped Near Dark (that’s not the bad news, I’m actually looking forward to seeing it) instead of Hot Tub Time Machine which was first in my queue, with the “short wait” caveat. I am really looking forward to seeing HTTM, though not enough to shell out 9 clams at the theatre, nor the 6 bucks for On Demand, part of a personal pattern of austerity and self denial, I guess. However, to dull the pain of this rejection, I turned to the sometimes elusive wiles of FAQs about Time Travel, a little 83 minute British movie from aught 9 that hasn’t technically migrated to this side of the pond. I have the British DVD (similar to Disney DVD, but it won’t play on a regular DVD, for that, your enemy needs to have studied a region free DVD, which I have) that plays on my region free DVD.
It got middling reviews, and I have to believe the person who said it’s Dr. Who meets Shaun of the Dead must have worked for the studio. It’s got quite a bit of neither. Still, it has it’s charms, including the ever awesome Chris O’Dowd, of IT Crowd (if you haven’t seen it, it’s streaming on Netflix and you should really click the link. You will be hooked. That episode is the best single episode of a television program ever aired.) fame, who should be a much bigger star than he is (I suspect his temper [he’s Irish] has something to do with that. The bathroom is the time machine here. It doesn’t really have any genuine laughs, but it’s clever enough delving into a number of paradoxes and other FAQs, about, um, well, time travel. If you have the means, I highly recommend it. It is fairly choice.
In the quest to win over one reader at a time and at the behest of potential reader JA, I watched the first episode of Dexter this evening. It didn’t suck too horribly. I wonder if the only thing that makes him feel anything is killing bad people. Would it be the same if he killed good people? Wouldn’t it be ironic if the actor who plays Dex were also an actual serial killer? These are questions that I have.
I can see how it will get unnerving. I’ll watch another episode soon.
Just the first episode involved a serial killer who stole a refrigerated truck so he (or she, I guess, as there is no gender bias on biblecomix) can cut murdered prostitutes into pieces resembling the “Don’t Tread on Me” Flag. (That’s to prove I watched it)
Actually, I feel kind of ambivalent about Mr.Maltin, to tell you the truth. I’m on an informal quest to acquire as many quests as possible to complete over the next year. I’ve fiddled with the idea of 50 zombie movies or 52 vampire movies or whatever over the next year as a compliment to the Geekdad thing (more pursue than study lately). I had additionally been considering trying to watch Maltin’s 151 movies over the next year. (it’s not as bad as all that, I’ve already seen a dozen or so of them.)
The one I watched tonight, Kontroll, cast that quest in severe doubt. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the movie, I’m still digesting it, but that it was quite challenging. Any movie with a residue of Kafka and Ralph Ellison that takes place in an entirely subterranean setting with a serial killer who may or may not be Tyler Durden (I’m pretty sure he’s not) won’t make for an easy year. I guess that I shouldn’t expect it to be easy, just that it will get me a publishing deal ala Julie and Julia. The more difficulty I have, the more compelling my tale. I like that this quest is somewhat arbitrary (I like arbitrary quests, just not arbitrary villains in my scifi), but has clear parameters.
Anyhoo (I just lol-ed, as the iPhone auto correct thought anyhoo was supposed to be anthology. Not that funny, I know), the Netflix description, which reads, in part,
“In the dismal world of the Budapest subway system, ticket inspector Bulcsú (Sándor Csányi) and his crew cope with everything from freeloaders to a hooded killer, while reaffirming their ability to survive each day by engaging in competitions with other crews,”
is totally insufficient. Here’s what I would write,
“Bulcsú Is a man on the run from his past, trapped in the nether world of the Istanbul subway by a Sysiphian job on a team of ticket inspectors. Embroiled in an absurd Twister-esque fued with a rival team, he’s given a shot of at redemption by an attractive woman in a bear costume who harbors her own somewhat banal secret.”
It’s going to be a long year.
Trailer. I couldn’t figure out how to embed. Please don’t suck.
Leonard Maltin’s 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, my reward for contributing to Public Radio, continues to pay dividends, as I just watched Innocent Blood, the 1992 sexy, bloody Vampire opus from John Landis, of Animal House fame, but of no relation to disgraced bicycler, notorious drug taker, and not very good friend, Floyd Landis, and didn’t dislike it. As Maltin points out, it’s “wildly uneven,” with heavier parts (the biting), lighter parts (not getting bitten), and crazy sexy parts (a crazy sex scene).
The twist here is that the vampire chick, who was apparently in La Femme Nikita, which I have not seen, though it’s on Netflix streaming, is a vampire who goes out for Italian, by which she means Pittsburgh Mobsters (the worst kind). She normally destroys her victims’ brains (somehow vampires [the word is never spoken] apparently get conflated with zombies, which is understandable, as vampires are really just zombies with style.) When she gets to the bossman, played by Robert Loggia, she is interrupted and can’t finish the job. He subsequently becomes an undead crime boss bent on unleashing his supernatural powers on the vast criminal underworld at the confluence of the 3 rivers. The LaPaglia dude, who was Mike Meyers’ best good friend in So I Married an Axe Murderer (where he also played a cop), is a police mole who has infiltrated Loggia’s crime family, but is outed after Chazz Palminterri gets eat up (they’re not eaten, Frances) and he goes to see the crime scene. Lapaglia and the vampire chick team up and go hella after Loggia, having some hot, safe, (really, that part is kind of weird, like a PSA for sleeping with vampires. Shadows of Kids and the AIDS crisis) handcuff-enhanced sexual relations along the way. They find Loggia and kill him and his lackeys, again. (See, they were already killed once, then they became undead vampires) Easy, peasy, mac and cheesy. Don Rickles gives a fine dramatic turn in his final movie performance. Angela Bassett demonstrates the sass and grit that would propel her to stardom as Tina Turner.