Movie of the Day : David Twohy’s BELOW!!

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‘Oh what a tale I have to tell
of those who went to heaven
and those who went to hell’
—anon


I love when the beginning of a movie makes me go “who the hell directed this??!” in a good way. The first few seamless shots in this film are incredibly impressive, some really lovely camera movements and use of closeups. A showcase for fantastic camerawork and lighting

Forget HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, this is one of the most impressive and tense submarine movies. I’ve seen my share of submarine movies and I’ve never seen one as visually impressive or stylistically intriguing. And it stars Bruce Greenwood who always gives an excellent performance.

The whole cast is uniformly strong in this unusual and slightly preternatural thriller set upon a submarine during a time of war. Directed brilliantly by David Twohy and written by Twohy as well as, the also acclaimed, Darren Aronofsky. Try it on Netflix for free, and when ready to own it get the 2003 DVD with the sought after audio commentary at the link below. Final grade: Highly Recommended!

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COMIC OF THE DAY: Al Ewing and Greg Land’s MIGHTY AVENGERS and the Black White Nick Fury?!


Marvel Comics.

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You know them? They are owned by Disney, they are brother to Marvel Studios that produces those box office shattering movies that have been all the rage for the last several years.

Well Marvel Comics while not the money maker of the film or video division, is the idea-space for those other mediums, and as such has an importance that belies its modest publishing revenue. As such, they are not going any place.

That said they could be doing better. But at every turn the publishing arm seems to be almost antagonistic to their customer base.

Tactics such as over-saturation of the market and expensive cover price of its titles ($4 is way too much to pay for an ad strewn comic with no additional content) translates into the audience (me) making a conscious choice to avoid all their books at best, and limit my consumption to one or two titles at worst.

Enter… THE MIGHTY AVENGERS.

THE MIGHTY AVENGERS by Al Ewing and the criminally castigated and underrated Greg Land is my favorite Marvel Comic, and the only one I purchase monthly.

Now don’t get me wrong there are other Marvel books I like, Aaron’s THOR, Remender’s CAPTAIN AMERICA and UNCANNY AVENGERS, the new MOON KNIGHT and IRON FIST has me interested, and if all those titles were $2.99 rather than $3.99 I would pick them all up. But I really do feel if any company can successfully ‘hold the line at $2.99′[an euphemism for not raising prices]… it is Marvel Comics, and their refusal to do so… is a misplaced arrogance, a belief that the entrenched fan-base will buy the books regardless.

It is a price gouging mentality, and I am proof to the contrary.

Rather than them getting $15 a month from me for five $2.99 comics, they get $3.99 for one comic. That greed, that one dollar extra cover price, has cost them $11 from me, $11 that now gladly goes to Image Comics or Dark Horse Comics.

And more than that, I am now trained to wait. I’ll wait till a Marvel series gets collected and is available at my local library and I’ll read it for free. So yeah Marvel Comics, that $3.99 cover price… here is one concrete case where you have actually lost business because of it. So great job there.

And the one Marvel Comic that I do get, is Ewing and Land’s MIGHTY AVENGERS.

Al Ewing creating a frenetic and pulp-inspired book that every month delivers a satisfying story, and one of the only books on the stands that offers multiple characters of color, treated respectfully (rather than as punch-line’s such as other Marvel Books are doing. Example being ‘Nick Fury’ gate. :).

Movies made workable the character of Nick Fury, by using the popularity of actor Samuel Jackson.

Now Marvel Comics wants to integrate that successful character from the movies with the 1960s comicbook version. So the brilliant way Marvel Comics decides to do that is by labeling the Black Nick Fury as the ‘son’ of the White Nick Fury. Wtf? Really? :).

That’s the direction you’re going? Can you say demeaning, bigoted and stupid? Hey Marvel here’s a solution for you… How about they are both just Nick Fury, with no relationship to each. Nick Fury being a title, like ‘Christopher Chance’ that gets passed to whoever is worthy. Took me two seconds to come up with a better way for both Nick Fury’s to coincide without demeaning and denigrating the Samuel Jackson version.

Who would have thought it would be the movie Marvel Universe that would get it right, and the comic-book Marvel Universe that would increasingly be the disappointment.)

Which is why Al Ewing’s MIGHTY AVENGERS is such a treat and a surprise. Despite being hamstrung with having to participate in Marvel’s various events (could not be less interested in Marvel’s Crossovers) Al Ewing manages to use the handicap of the crossover as a springboard to tell his own highly imaginative and absorbing tales of werechickens (don’t laugh, it’s pretty cool)and inter-dimensional evils, while at its heart always being a very generational story. A book that is about… Fathers and Sons.

Add to this Greg Land, who has had to suffer the recriminations of people with not a fiftieth of his talent, self styled art ‘critics'(parrots jumping on a bandwagon) who unable to create art, and ignorant even of the process, yet think themselves schooled to heckle their betters.

If you think Greg Land uses ‘porn stars’ for some of his inspiration, I would say two things to you, 1/ who cares and 2/you probably watch way too much porn. :).

Every artist from Jack Kirby to Gene Colan had a little stock/trace file, for poses or buildings or cars or fashion. You know why? Because it is a bloody job and stock photography and images are tools, and drawing, making your deadlines, is a job. And being able to take those inspirations, regardless of where they come from, and craft a functional and beautiful story out of it, takes immense talent. Greg Land is an immense talent, and his work on MIGHTY AVENGERS is drop dead gorgeous, brimming as it is with 70s Indie Black Empowerment images.

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So from writing to art, there is a one-two energy Ewing and Land have going here, that hopefully will continue for sometime. But when and if MIGHTY AVENGERS goes the way of other Marvel Titles, here’s hoping these guys create a similar creator owned title at Image.

I would love to see Al Ewing creating his own pulp-inspired or sci-fi tinged characters, and Greg Land drawing them. For all the good things Image has, a book with a majority of ethnic characters is not one of those things.

Perhaps it is time there was such a book.

So Marvel for all my bashing on them has to be applauded for THE MIGHTY AVENGERS. But if all involved really want the series to grow, 1/add a letters page and back-matter, 2/focus on stand-alone stories primarily, and 3/making it a $2.99 rather than $3.99 book wouldn’t work.

But other than that a fantastic read, month in and month out.

Oh and Al and Greg, two more suggestions, One/change the preamble that starts the book to be something with a little more import and oomph, and two/ Let Luke Cage take back the name Power Man. It’s a good name, and it’s his.

Thanks for reading and if intrigued by the above you can buy back copies of the Mighty Avengers or the Trades here:

http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=24852602&affid=200301p0

http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=25358810&affid=200301p0

Enjoy!

Deals of the Day: Let The Good Times Roll: The Complete Decca Recordings 1938-1954 [Box set, Import] !

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Let The Good Times Roll: The Complete Decca Recordings 1938-1954 Nearly Sold Out CD Boxed Set!!

Editorial Reviews
“(9-CD LP-sized box set with 48-page book) Look out! as the man himself said, ”This is it!” Throw away those old bootlegs, sell the other albums and pick up these nine little boogie woogie blue plates. This is everything Louis recorded for Decca – in other words nine CDs of the most influential, and purely enjoyable R&B ever cut. Truly Reet Petite And Gone! Here are just a few of the memorable jump ‘n’ jive hits: Outskirts Of Town, What’s The Use Of Gettin’ Sober, Five Guys Named Moe, GI Jive, Caldonia, Buzz Me, Salt Pork West Virginia, Beware, Stone Cold Dead In The Market (with Ella Fitzgerald), Choo-Choo Ch’Boogie, Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens, Open The Door Richard, Boogie Woogie Blue Plate, Run Joe, Baby It’s Cold Outside (with Ella Fitzgerald), Beans And Cornbread, Saturday Night Fish Fry and Blue Light Boogie.It’s no exaggeration to say that R&B starts here. This is also the only set carefully re-engineered from the original metal parts!”— Amazon Reviews

“Let The Good Times Roll…” is old. It was originally issued in 1992 as an 8CD/1LP box set and then when Bear Family finally got the CD licensing rights for the Ella Fitzgerald LP, they reissued it in 1994 as this 9CD set which has remained on catalogue ever since.

It’s a 12″ x 12″ box with a 46-page album-sized booklet featuring a stunning and detailed life story and discography by PETER GRENDYSA – which in itself is peppered with movie stills, newspaper clippings, Harlem Hit Parade charts, Sheet Music etc… There are 215 tracks (32 unreleased) with expert tape and 78″ transfers by the legendary BEAR FAMILY experts in Germany – great sound throughout despite the vintage [age]. Other vocalists and players featured throughout include RODNEY STURGESS (Jordan’s first ever credit in 1939), YACK TAYLOR, DAISY WINCHESTER, MABEL ROBINSON, KENNETH HOLLON, BING CROSBY, ELLA FITZGERALD, MARTHA DAVIS, VALLI FORD, LOUIS ARMSTRONG and BILL DOGGETT.”— Amazon Reviews

“Absolutely Stunning. This is the second collection I’ve bought that was produced by the Bear family (the first was Lesley Gore – It’s My Party), and I’m here to tell you, it’s a stunner. Packaged in a sturdy large box containing nine individually cased discs (discs eight and nine are in one jewel case), a printed booklet, and the CDs themselves even resemble miniature vinyl records with grooves on the label side.” –Amazon Reviews

Branagh WALLANDER BBC TV series vs WALLANDER Canal!!

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My first introduction to Henning Mankell’s detective Kurt Wallander is with the Kenneth Branagh helmed WALLANDER BBC series. I found those shows visually striking and emotionally intense. Only recently have I likewise become introduced to the earlier Swedish series starring Krister Henriksson (earliest episodes dating from 2006, with the latest episodes being in 2013).

There is a degree of fatalism and nihilism in the more slick and stylish BBC reworking of WALLANDER that is absent from the earlier Swedish television series. And I feel that that absence is to the earlier show’s benefit.

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While the Swedish series is no less a captive and mirror of the forlorn land it depicts, there is in the original series and in the captivating and world wearied yet bemused performance by Krister Henriksson a welcome sense of hope, of optimism even in the face of those who have forsworn hope. As such, despite or because of its understated nature, there is something more endearing in the Swedish WALLANDER, something easier worn.

Whereas the BBC version of Wallander is a different animal all-together. First its scale is far grandeur than the Swedish version, essentially each season comprised of three feature length movies, with approximately two years between seasons; 2008, 2010, and 2012 respectively.

Add to that Branagh’s wonderful portrayal of a man ever more broken is superlative. However that degree of depression can be taxing to view. To the BBC WALLANDER’s credit it is a distinct and different take from the Swedish version they were going for and achieved, so it can be viewed as its own thing rather than simply a remake.

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All that to say you can watch the original series and the BBC series and see two distinct and divergent shows, each deserving of your time. But if pressed regarding the version of Wallander that I enjoy the most, I would have to choose the Krister Henriksson series.

While the BBC version has amazing direction and cinematography, powerhouse acting by its lead Kenneth Branagh, and a wonderful score and introduction (reminiscent of the equally compelling LUTHOR), thematically I prefer the less angst ridden and less dire Swedish version. Its low-key delivery making for less hyperbolic viewing.

Grade: WALLANDER BBC series gets a grade of B/B+, and the CANAL Swedish version edges it out with a solid grade of B+.

Wallander Season 1 & 2 [Blu-ray] (This item requires a 1080i compatible player)

Wallander Series 3 [Blu-ray]

Wallander (Faceless Killers / The Man Who Smiled / The Fifth Woman) [Blu-ray]

Wallander Series 3 [Blu-ray]

Wallander: The Original Episodes, Set 1

Next up I’ll sample the Rolf Lassgard WALLANDER episodes and bring you my take on those.

Deal of the Day! PLANETARY OMNIBUS!

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Hailed as a timeless story that turned modern super hero conventions on their heads, PLANETARY stars an inter-dimensional peace-keeping force including Elijah Snow, Jakita Wagner, and The Drummer. Tasked with tracking down evidence of super-human activity, these mystery archaeologists uncover unknown paranormal secrets and histories, such as a World War II supercomputer that can access other universes, a ghostly spirit of vengeance, and a lost island of dying monsters. Now, the entire series is collected in hardcover, including PLANETARY #1-27, PLANETARY/BATMAN #1, PLANETARY/JLA #1 and PLANETARY/AUTHORITY #1.

Get your copy here: The Planetary Omnibus

TV Review : BEING HUMAN UK

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This review is on the original UK series BEING HUMAN. The quick one sentence breakdown on this series? This five season series, goes on two seasons two long.

The first three seasons tells the unconventional tale of a werewolf, and vampire, and ghost that end up sharing the same house. REAL WORLD for the universal monster set. Alternately funny and imaginative and dramatic the series over three seasons sports first and foremost solid casting, actors who are magnetic and likable and you want to follow their journey. That’a a significant point, that I think gets missed by too many shows, the casting and the chemistry of the cast.

Shows like AGENTS OF SHIELD sport bland cookie cutter casts with negative star power, and then have an uphill battle making the audience care enough to follow the boring cast. Thankfully for the first three seasons the UKs BEING HUMAN had a cast with chemistry, great writing, wonderful performances, and excellent effects all building up to a great cliffhanger third season finale.

For all intents and purposes that’s really where the show ends. After that  a pitiful fourth and fifth season limps out with largely a new cast and atrocious writing. The saying ‘jumped the shark’ is never truer than with season 4 and 5 of BEING HUMAN UK. My advice get the first three seasons, and let this series end in your memory with that intriguing cliffhanger and erase all belief that a season 4 or 5 was ever made (much like season 2 of SPACE 1999 and season 4 of BATTLE STAR GALACTICA [new series] should likewise be forgotten). Grade: Great for seasons 1 to 3! Price Blurays below.

Being Human: Season 1 [Blu-ray]

Being Human: Season Two [Blu-ray]

Being Human: Season Three [Blu-ray]

Being Human – Series 1-5 Boxset [Blu-ray] (Region Free)

Deal of the Day!! Winegard FL5000 Digital HDTV Antenna

Okay so if 2013 was the year of Roku, Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (Click here for more) as my tech device of the year, then the Winegard FL5000 Indoor HDTV Antenna is setting up to be an early contender as my favorite tech device of 2014.

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I dislike monopolies, and I dislike multi-year contracts, all of that translates into me not being a huge fan of cable or satellite companies. And I really disliked the highway looting and theft of American analog airwaves by government and big business. This eradication of the analog airwaves a few years ago in essence made your traditional rabbit ears useless; and was a boon to paid tv options, leaving the majority of the American population to choose between suffering with subpar reception or buying into pricey paid options to enjoy their television.

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Thankfully the infrastructure and technology of local stations has caught up, finally, with the demands of digital viewing. And add to that we now have affordable digital reception devices such as the Winegard FL5000, and free television is suddenly once again a viable reality. The Winegard FL5000 I can report after a couple of weeks of using it is awesome! If you are in a typical large city the un-powered FL-5000 will do the trick fine, bringing in numerous digital channels, with great pictures and sound, and an info option that lets you see details on the program you are watching. Combine the free coverage from the Winegard with the Roku on-demand channels and there is no reason to remain a slave to over-priced cable companies and locked-in punitive satellite services.

Put simply the Winegard FL5000 is the deal of the day!Winegard Company FL-5000 FlatWave HDTV Indoor Digital Flat Antenna – Made in USA (Click here for recent discounts and savings)