Friday, June 04, 2021

Those Who Wish Me Dead (HBO Max, 2021)

After watching the flick, count me in that group.




Thursday, June 03, 2021

A Quiet Place Part II (2021)

 John Krasinski's A Quiet Place (2018) was nearly a cinematic masterpiece. 

It took the sci-fi and horror genres into unusual and uncharted territories: the movie was scarier because it was nearly silent, and effective as a morality play about self-sacrifice. After all, it was about what one is willing to do to keep one's family safe.  

The flick made nearly $350 million dollars world-wide. Not because it had a huge special effects budget. It made bank because it didn't.  

I was skeptical when I first heard a sequel was being planned. The quiet gimmick had been done already, so the audience will be prepared for that. And Krasinski's lead character, Lee Abbot, sacrificed himself to save his children at the end of the first movie. 

How could a sequel of any real quality be made?

It was done by adding rich texture in a variety of ways: there was more -- but not overdone -- dialogue; the audience got a peek into the day normal stopped; it was  louder when louder was necessary; and  the theme of self-sacrifice was broadened from being focused on saving a single family to being focused on saving a larger community.  

A Quiet Place Part II may be the best sequel of the past 25 years. 



Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Must-Read Comic: The Nice House On The Lake (DC Comics, 2021)

 James Tynion IV is re-vitalizing comic books. He’s not alone, of course; others, like Joe Hill, Gail Simone, and Brian Michael Bendis are telling compelling stories. 

But at age 33, Tynion IV is special. 

He’s breathed new life into the Batman legend, and his “Something Is Killing The Children,” was nominated for an Eisner Award as Best New Series in 2020.

Admittedly, it’s too early to declare his newest title, “The Nice House On The Lake,” a success. But, based on reader anticipation (it had over 100,000 pre-orders) the quality of issue #1 (just released), and the art of Alvaro Martinez’s Bueno, the potential for this horror series is tremendous. 

Perhaps — sooner than later, maybe — we’ll be discussing the work of Tynion IV with the same enthusiasm we have for Moore, Byrne, Miller, and Kirby.



Sunday, May 02, 2021

Boys State (AppleTV+, 2020)

 I'm an alumnus of Boys State. 

The 1982 American Legion Mountaineer Boys State, to be precise, held each summer at Jackson's Mill, in Lewis County, West Virginia.  The week-long camp where highs school juniors -- identified as leaders in our respective schools and communities -- were sent each summer to learn about government. 

(And, how to socialize with hundreds of other boys we'd never met until we were assigned randomly to bunk and shower with them.)

At my age, 1982 is a bit of a blur. I recall spending a lot of my experience marching. We who lived in Marion Cabin were more than slightly rebellious; we snuck out at night to hoist jock straps up the flagpole so they'd be saluted  beside Old Glory each morning, and generally believed most house rules were simply suggestions. Our misbehavior resulted resulted in pre-dawn marching designed to break our will. 

It didn't. 

Many of my 39-year-old memories were awakened while watching Boys State, the documentary in which Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine chronicle the experiences of 1,000 17-year-olds as they formed a representative government at the 2018 Texas Boys State. I was reminded that  in 1982 my 17-year old self discovered the world is more complicated than I previously thought, and recognized that it was the loudest among us who usually won the elections. Most of the boys central to Boys State are brighter and more aware than I was at their age. Some are gifted with true insight; others only think they are. 

This documentary shows that  -- like the real USA legislative process -- loud continues to win elections, but insight and authenticity wins respect. 

Remember the name Steven Garza. In a decade he will be passing real legislation for all of us.

We can only hope.

  



Sunday, April 25, 2021

The Father (2020)

 Anthony Hopkins gives what may be the most intimate, subtle, and finest film performance of his career. 

Bravo! Bravo! 





Nobody (2021)

 Nobody better

Call him Saul, or a 

One trick pony 



Friday, March 19, 2021

Zack Snyder's Justice League (HBO Max, 2021)

 I liked the 2017 release of Justice League enough, I guess. I enjoyed the team-building aspect of the flick, and the deep debate within the team about whether they should use a power dropped into their laps to resurrect a dead Superman. 

I prefer to watch team-based superheroes debate and argue in the clubhouse more than I enjoy watching them kick invading aliens in the ass.

But in total, the Josh Whedon-polished Justice League was a major disappointment. The plot was choppy and difficult to follow and the movie lacked character development. And man, those jokes! From Bruce Wayne greeting Aquaman with "I hear you talk to fish," to the hijinks of an immature Barry Allen, the jokes stripped away a seriousness from the movie's tone that couldn't be overcome. 

Zack Snyder's Justice League remedies most of the issues I had with the 2017 film. The use of Steppenwolf and his role as an herald of sorts to Darkseid is much improved in the Snyder cut, making this movie more cohesive. Characters are better developed -- how could they not be with twice the run-time of the original? -- and the tone is more serious. Banter is an important component to superhero stories. But it was a distraction in the Whedon-produced film. 

It's not that in the Snyder cut. 

There remain small issues I have with the movie. I still hate -- I mean really, really hate! -- this version of The Flash. This character seems a hodgepodge of Barry Allen, Wally West, and Bart Allen, and I was annoyed every time he was part of a scene. Cyborg is a little too robotic for me, although that's a creative decision with which I can live. But this version of Aquaman is more serious and much more fun to watch than he was in his own movie, Wonder Woman's character is consistent, and Bruce Wayne is better portrayed by Ben Affleck than he is by any actor not named Bale.

People will debate the four-hour run time, and that debate is legit. Is it necessary, or is it a vanity play by Snyder? I think it's necessary. It allows the time to build a better foundation for plot and character development, and gives appropriate time to explore some of the plot devices glossed over in the previous film. 







Monday, March 15, 2021

An Old Guy Who Loves Old Comics

 Recently I joined a Facebook group called “Old Guys Who Love Old Comics.” 

Because, well . . .  I am, and I do.

What's not to love about old comics? Readable stories. Wonderful hand-drawn panels. That smell when you pull a 40-year-old comic from a plastic bag. 

That’s the sweet smell of nostalgia.

But old guy? Really? When did  I qualify to be a member of that group?

Despite my mildly arthritic fingers hurting a little as I type this post, I don’t envision myself an old man. Hell, I don’t even think of myself as a middle-aged man. Especially when we’re talking about my lifetime of loving comics. 

It seems just a few years ago that I first spent 25 cents for the latest issue of Superman at the local Ben Franklin store. We lived several miles outside the city limits, so going to town was a big deal. Whoever I was with -- usually my parents, but sometimes my grandparents -- usually made the trip special. We'd hit whatever store we drove in for first, then walk down to the five and dime for some candy and some comic books. 

I'd read the titles in the back seat on the drive home, all the while hoping I didn't get car sick and puke all over my books. If I still had comics to read when I got home I'd take a short hike into the woods, find a soft spot under a tree, and read until I was finished. 

That would have been around 1975. 

46 years ago. 

I am, and I do. 






Mank (Netflix, 2020)

Mank, the biopic of screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, is a better movie than any of the films the real-life Mank wrote. 

(Except Citizen Kane, of course. It's not better than that.  .   .   . )

But yeah, everything else.

Polish up those Oscars. 




Saturday, March 06, 2021

Judas And The Black Messiah (HBO Max, 2021)

As relevant now
A struggle as it was then
Just less obvious