Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

Most often, I've been bored by the character of Captain America. I've never been a fan of naive patriotism, or of a system of values based simply on tradition. Those perspectives are short-sighted;  they feel good in the moment, but they don't advance society very far. At least that's my opinion.

But it's not the opinion of Cap. He lives, breaths, and sleeps Uh-merica.

I entered the theater expecting to see much of the same: a spandex-clad capitalist preaching the virtues of democracy. Instead, I was treated to a well-made action flick with a tight plot, terrific special effects, and top tier acting.

It wasn't the masterpiece that was Iron Man. But it was close. Very, very close.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


HBO helps break comic book-like characters through the 4th wall and into our living rooms with it's recently released Superheroes. The result of the story is both inspiring and sad.

Many young kids, boys especially, tie a towl around their necks and pretend to be a super-powered fighter of crime. And many of those kids grow up to actually fight crime -- as police officers, lawyers, and first responders to emergencies. The pretend-cape gets put away about the time we start liking girls.

Chicks dig men in uniform. They mock those of us who still wear a Batman T-shirt.

Those profiled in Superheroes, however, took off the fake cape to put on a real one. Mr. Xtreme, Master Legend, Lucid, and members of Team Justice take the Neighborhood Watch concept to new heights by putting on tights and buckeling up a utility belt before patrolling streets after dusk.

It's funny because it's real.

But it's also sad. Watch the documentary closely and you'll find a gaggle of folks most likely challenged with living a typical lifestyle: people with what appear to be personality disorders, potential alcoholics, and aggressive types itching for a fight. Perhaps their efforts are simply a colorful, interesting mask placed on real dysfunction.

Many of those interviewed in Superheroes reported being inspired by the story of Kitty Genovese, the New York woman murdered in public during the mid-60s as neighbors went about their business and refused to get involved. Genovese is a legitimate martyr for their cause, as the apathy that aided her murder is an epidemic in today's society. The heroes serve the cause best, however, when they band together to feed the homeless, and inspire children to be better people. In these non-violent roles they can truly be heroes and benefit their communities.

Even while wearing tights.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


There's a story that goes Morgan Spurlock, the West Virginia-born documentarian, approached the producers of Catfish after a festival screening, and said: "That's the best fake documentary I've ever seen." The producers insisted -- and continue to insist -- their work is real and not staged. But Spurlock's comment illustrates a significant part of the appeal of this flick: is it real, or is it fake?

The answer: It doesn't matter one damn bit.

Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, Catfish follows New York photographer Nev Schulman as he begins an Internet relationship with a young, female art prodigy in Michigan, then allows the relationship to expand to other members of the girl's family. As relationships develop they become more intimate, and more mysterious. The final half of the flick wraps up the mystery, and dissects with incredible detail the reasons the mystery developed in the first place.

Catfish examines in-depth the modern use and mis-use of social media. The film demonstrates clear reasons sites such as Facebook are valuable tools in our society, then explores the way such sites isolate us further. They provide an escape from the hum-drum and boredom of real life, and a respite from the day-to-day responsibilities that come with it.

Catfish is a brilliant movie. Whether or not the film is real neither enhances or detracts from that brilliance. The beauty of the film is that it's really the story of all of us.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Kristen Wiig plain rocks!
She's funny, she's smart, and cute.
Think I've got a crush.