Movie of the Day and Performance of the Day : THE BEAST

Rabbit Days (2016)

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE a film that is an experience, that you do not know from the first frame, where the last frame will bring us. Blockbusters are by necessity a predictable commodity. They have to some extent give the audience what it is expecting. It has to inherently be predictable, so it can appeal to the largest possible audience, and bring the highest possible return.

There is nothing wrong with that, I love blockbusters as much as the next person. But there is something to be said for a film that does not live with our expectations, or perhaps even our world. Especially when it is done superbly well, when it is clear from the first frame you are, wherever the road takes you, in the hands of a visionary, a master filmmaker.

That is the case with the LeBoeuf Brothers’, Ryan & Cody, THE BEAST. But any script hinges on a central performance, and Clarence Gilyard Jrs, unhinged performance is nothing short of jaw dropping. At once so unhinged, and so good, and the other actors as various forms of straight men to him, also do a great job. Add in the atmosphere, and you are left with a nightmare landscape of a film, that eschewing sense, is brilliant.

The ending perhaps feels truncated, but perhaps is also just right. Depends on your patience for the surreal and absurd. But for fans of the films of Lynch and Bunuel, you will feel in THE BEAST… rewarded.

Grade: I loved it. Your Mileage may Vary. 🙂

Another home-run of a discovery courtesy of AMAZON PRIME.

Youtube Channels On Rob Liefeld, Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur and the Demise of DC Comics?

I listen to some of these Youtube channels, with hosts expressing all types of varying views and opinions.

People get up in arms about a lot of things, than rush to share their opinion.

Here is the thing, everyone has an opinion, but what you should share is an INFORMED opinion. I’m always amazed by the number of people who don’t take the time to make their opinion, an INFORMED opinion.

” Oh No! Rob Liefeld is saying DC is heading for a collapse!”

And that is news why?

I don’t personally care what the opinion of Rob Liefeld is. Not saying I dislike him, but in a long day of numerous issues, the opinions of Rob Liefeld generally do not make my radar. Or most people for that matter, we live busy lives.

However a podcast put this particular Liefeld stance on my radar.

DC comic company heading for a demise.

Just a cursory glance at the comic market will make that stance seem like an outcome with a hefty potential, to be the likely stance.

As far as most of America is concerned there is  no such thing as comic books. The best selling comic books of the biggest companies in the US, Marvel and DC, have been struggling for years to sell a 100000 copies in a nation of over 300million people.

That is an unprecedented level of failure.

That is a market hanging on by its fingertips, and is staying alive by resorting to desperate 1990s moves of multiple and variant covers, and price gouging their remaining dwindling audience.

Comics are going up exponentially in price because the big two American Comic book companies rather than attempting to grow an audience, is simply concentrating on milking to death their existing dwindling audience of extremists.

And you have to be an extremist of some sort to pay $4 and $5 and up for books of lessening quality and miniscule content.

And recent talk of AT&T’s acquisition of Warner brothers and by extrapolation DC, points to the print division of DC Comics as one not viewed favorably by At&T; one can argue with good reason.

So to speculate and even err on the side of the demise of the periodical print form of comics, DC comics specifically, that is only looking at the situation clearly and making some informed conclusions. Especially in the wake of the biggest book retailers, far larger than DC. suffering calamitous years of their own.

If you had to bet on DC print division, returning to the glory days of selling millions of copies OR going strictly to a digital and collected/trade model (with some print on demand tossed in); you have to look at the latter as the most likely option.

So yeah talk of the demise of DC Comics, or Comics in general, is just acknowledging the same falling dominoes we see in other physical media markets, from newspapers, to book retailers, to CD and DVD providers. The only difference being all of those things, still sell better than Comic Books.

To not see demise in the wind in the desperate price gouging antics of Marvel and DC, is to not be paying attention. Now I being a fan of print would like a return to a thriving sequential market, but it will take following the path of innovative sequential companies like Alterna, who eschew relying on just the flawed Diamond Direct Market model.

I urge you to check out the Alterna channel for great discussions on these very topics.

And what is funny is the same people who will argue for the health of the direct market, will then call for the cancellation of titles like MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR and MS MARVEL. “Oh those minority books, diverse books are low selling. they should be cancelled. Why aren’t they being cancelled? ” Again it is a case of people not taking two seconds, in a digital age, to get informed.

While the titles do not sell gangbusters in periodic form, in the flawed Diamond direct market model, they sell gangbusters to libraries. MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR and MS MARVEL sell great to libraries, and are critical darlings. And are quickly becoming bigger IP money makers than the traditional “Give us only white guy” titles, that surprise, surprise, after a few issues, stop selling, and need to be rebooted to bolster sales.

It has been my experience that most people on social media, are here to spread gossip or an agenda or be outraged about something, the truth be damned. They just want to have something to move their lips about. That becomes the babbling of idiots, rather than any type of cultivated discourse.

So to combat this type of co-opting of the conversation by those who probably really have no love for comics, those of us in a position to have even a minor audience, we owe our legitimate audience better than regurgitating the suspect ramblings of the agenda prone, we owe them better than our uninformed opinions, or theirs, we have to hold all of us to a higher level of discourse.

There can be no civilization without holding ourselves to civil discourse.

The truth is out there. You just have to take the time to shut your mouth long enough… to hear it, and read it, and internalize it. 🙂

Hear Endeth the Lesson!

 

On JESSICA JONES Trailer, Tom King’s BATMAN, and DCs SWAMP THING show!

Let us start in the middle Tom King’s BATMAN.

I listened to a recent podcast where they were bemoaning the news of Tom King stepping off the BATMAN comic. All kinds of speculation on him being removed, etc. That he was doing a brilliant run on Batman, etc, etc. And they couldn’t understand how DC could not see what a great, innovative job he was doing, and that DC execs must not like great stories, yada, yada.

This very minor and relatively harmless rant from this podcast I watched, illustrates perhaps a less wholesome issue with our culture in whole. This inability to see or look for, or acknowledge, viewpoints other than our own.

The truth is out there, to paraphrase a show I was never a fan of, beyond the odd ‘monster-of the week’ episode.

The truth is out there, but we have to look, and we have to do our homework.

It doesn’t have to be controversy when we get news we do not expect or agree with.

It doesn’t have to be DC executives are stupid.

It could be as simple, if Tom King was removed, as simple as the books were not moving in the numbers they liked, or meeting with across the board praise.

A simple look at reviews of Tom King’s BATMAN run, whether podcasts, or Youtube videos, or blogs or websites, when you extend the search beyond your circle, your chorus, you see a run, a body of work, that from the first trade on, was conflicted. And grew more uneven and conflicted, in terms of the writing, and the response to the writing with every trade/issue.

I think a lot of people make excuses for Tom King”s work when they do not love it. Like they refuse to admit they didn’t love it because of Tom King, so they blame the publisher, or the editor, etc.

A writer is a lot like a director, you get the praise when a product is great. You should also carry the blame when a product isn’t. A lot of people like to give King the former, and make excuses to keep him from the latter.

Stop making excuses or trying to blame Editorial if you do not like a Tom King story. You do not try to give them the praise if you love a Tom King story. So let’s not be hypocrites.

And I am not anti-Tom King, I am not one of these knuckle dragging anti social justice warrior, anti-woman, anti-diversity, psuedo neo nazi nuts. I judge the work, on the work, and wait to read it, before having an opinion on it.

Tom King can be a great writer.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

https://amzn.to/2MAm9GC

His VISION series is one of the greatest things I have read in years. (And if you have not read it, I urge you to pick up the collected hardcover… it is that good.)

His OMEGA MEN very good.

https://amzn.to/2EZQGHG

His Batman, in pieces, standalone, I’m thinking specifically of ANNUAL 2, can be great. Annual 2 was great.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

https://amzn.to/2MzJsk0

However, specifically to Batman, other than that standalone story,  his actual run on Batman, the first 4 or 5 trades, I found awful. I mean… awful. “I am suicide!”As his take-away on the character of Batman. Really???!!

Batman: I Am Suicide (The Complete Story) - YouTube

The great flaw of Tom King’ s BATMAN (for me), was always Tom King’s take of the character. He keeps writing the same broken, suicidal, and ineffective character, over and over again. And while it worked for the Vision and Mr. Miracle, shoehorning that Hamlet type protagonist and calling him Batman or Kid Flash, does not work at all.

He keeps trying to tailor these heroes and archetypes to his ptsd framework, and it increasingly does not work. He needs to start writing to the character, than simply shoehorning them into his rigid story.

We get it,

Tom King brings a military background, and a CIA background, and an espionage background, and a background of those places where we all break under stress and pressure. And again telling that story with certain characters can work, however retelling that story with every character does not work.

There are more stories than that. And another reason we look to these heroes is because they are our aspirations writ large, they should not all be stand-ins for the places where we fall down, they should be the standards of how to standup. They should be our hopes writ large, not our insecurities. The VISION type stories should be the exception, not the rule.

I do not want to read a comic with a Superman dealing with PTSD. It starts to become one note writing, rather than great writing, to make all the heroes analogs for the common man, or the Hamlet in us.

So yeah, while I will not be picking up the individual issues regardless of who writes BATMAN, because paying more than $2.99 for a single Marvel or DC comic is insanity (Marvel and DC should both be ashamed of themselves for charging more than $2.99 for scant pages of comics. Now, smaller Independent publishers I cut them slack on pricing, because their page count and quality is usually higher. However Marvel and DC has the economies of scale to keep prices low. To not do so comes down to mismarketing, mismanagement, and short term greed, over long term sustainability and growth) , I will, if the word of mouth is good, check out the books when they hit the $1 bins of the secondary market or in collected edition at the libraries.

I look forward to a new take on Batman, and a new writer.

Okay… next topic…

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JESSICA JONES Season III trailer. Here is the thing, I was not interested enough to watch the 2nd season of JESSICA JONES. And by all reviews I did not miss much. But I went into the the trailer for season III hoping it would be good. I have to tell you, I found it incredibly uninteresting.

I can only take so much of brooding, not quite likeable, characters so, just with the way the protagonist is played, with a listless, can’t be bothered attitude, the performance of Jessica Jones is typically the weakest part of the show JESSICA JONES.

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So that said, you need charismatic, interesting people surrounding her to make the show worth while. You need a Luke Cage, you need a Purple Man. You need dynamism to counteract the plodding, disaffected, and starting to get annoying, performance of the protagonist.  And unfortunately the trailer for Season III offered none of that. Offered an Antagonist, absolutely as uninteresting as the protagonist. A battle of who could bore me more.

 

So yeah the trailer to Season III of JESSICA JONES, a hard fail. That is not going to make my watch list, based on that trailer.

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Finally, the news that the DC Swamp Thing show has been cancelled before the 1st season really starts.

It has come out the reason DC/Warner Brothers pulled the plug is largely because North Carolina, an increasingly politically suspect state (excuses to my North Carolina Friends, but you are starting to be run by the pointy hat crowd. And I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. You know you need to start cleaning your house, much the same way the Nation needs to clean its house) basically bailed on their promise to help finance the production of SWAMP THING in their state.

It is a great shame, because I have to tell you, I absolutely loved the full trailer to SWAMP THING.

They looked like they had all the elements for a wonderful , long form story, worthy of the kind of eerie, brilliant, haunting storytelling that creators Alan Moore, Bissette, Totleben, Wein, and Wrightson laid the ground work for.

Such a shame.

Maybe someone else will add the additional funds so we get to see this vision of Swamp Thing, eventually played out.

Well that’s it guys.

Just wanted to put my 2 cents in on those 3 topics. Take two seconds and support today’s recommended comics.

You know when I was saying I cut Independent comics a slack, because of their quality of content and packaging. ALTERNA COMICS and AHOY COMICS are two cases in point. There are a lot of great writers/artists in comics, arguably one of the best of them is Eric Powell. I absolutely am enamored with his GOON and his HILLBILLY and his SPOOK SHOW. And ALTERNA comics addreses all the issues with price gouging that we are getting from the big two, Marvel and DC, while giving us quality products. So you can preorder comics from both publishers and get them direct mailed to you.

https://www.mycomicshop.com/subscriptionservice

 

Use the links above get great books, support these publishers, and earn a few pennies for this blog. A win-win!

 

“Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning. ”

― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Anthony Joshua vs Ruiz!!!! BREAKING BOXING NEWS!! & What Others are Not Saying!

WoW!

No one saw that coming.

And everyone will be looking at the above video.

And for a lot of people it will solidify the negative thoughts they had in regards to Anthony Joshua. The questioning thoughts regarding seemingly ducking Wilder, etc. And taking a ‘lesser’ fight with Ruiz. It did that for me, watching the above video.

But I will urge you to watch the below video. In many ways Anthony Joshua has been the most disrespected champion, however this video i think puts into perspective something that one doesn’t often see.

The measure of a champion.

In adversity you see the true character of a man. And the below video, seeing this after seeing the above video, I think anyone who was an Anthony Joshua dismisser or hater, will come away from that video with a new found respect for him. I did.

I don’t know many men who could have had the night he had, and speak immediately after it with such, no excuses candor.

 

I think in many ways Anthony Joshua now, if he wants it, is poised to be more respected and more dangerous than he has ever been. He is now a man freed of needing to protect perfection, he is a man who can concentrate on just… fighting.

We may rather than seeing the end of a career in the above two videos, be seeing the beginning of one.

Time will tell.

Streaming / VOD Losers and Winners! THE PERFECTION Netflix Movie Review

This one gets a lot of praise, I have to say, I didn’t love it.

The beginning is intriguing, the third act to a point compelling, but that whole bus sequence single handedly derailed the movie for me. I hate hearing people whine. For any reason, I hate hearing people whine, And this just seemed so self indulgent, and over the top. I had to fast forward thru the whole bus sequence, I found it full of just tedious, trying too hard, overacting… and Whining.

Did I mention I dislike whining?

And the final message of the movie, ‘let me save you from being abused , by abusing you’. Ultimately it is damaged people, just spreading their damage. Really? Is this what passes for reason and cogent film-making in this social media/mob mentality generation. And  I saw the ‘twist’ ending coming quite a ways. All in all I found it just a self indulgent film in the worst way. A hard…ehh… I don’t think so, for me. Didn’t like it and would not recommend it.

 

So I find the THE PERFECTION… far from perfect. Grade: D-/F.

This week’s absolutely must watch STREAMING MOVIE : FIVE FINGERS OF MARSEILLES

Five Fingers for Marseilles - poster

It had me.

It had me with the trailer.

At once elegiac and lyrical, this feature film debut by director Michael Matthews, writer Sean Drummond, and cinematographer Shaun Lee, is a revelation. Haunting and hauntingly beautiful, it transposes the myth of the western onto the looming shadow of Apartheid era South Africa, with staggering effectiveness. To tell a tale of childhood promises and adult realities, amidst a lawless land.

With a great cast of actors (Vuyo Dabula as protagonist Tau is particularly brilliant, but so is Hamilton Dhlamini as the almost preternatural Sepoko), some unknown and some familiar faces, and awe inspiring visuals and landscapes, this movie is both a surprise and a joy and is a GREAT Western, up their with the best of recent westerns.

UNFORGIVEN, TOMBSTONE, OPEN RANGE, BLACKTHORN, THE MISSING, HOMESMAN, BURROWERS, BONE TOMAHAWK  all heavy hitting, top notch westerns by master directors, and yet somehow first time director Michael Matthews makes those masterful films, all of which I LOVE, feel almost rote in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, FIVE FINGERS OF MARSEILLES is not better than TOMBSTONE, but its breadth gives it a unique quality.

This film is both a western and not a western, and its ability to transcend genre and exploit it, makes for a very fresh and freeing  viewing experience. I loved it. And can not wait for a Blueray edition of this film.

Watch it free courtesy of Amazon prime, and if as impressed as i am… buy the Bluray. Grade: A-.

 

Playhouse 90’s A TOWN TURNED TO DUST aka Echoes of the current political landscape!

“We didn’t know he was guilty.

We strung him up, to satisfy the mood.”

 

“There’s the hunger for the niche.

I wanted to be somebody.

So I decided who the victim should be.

I pointed to an old man.

I led the mob.

I wanted to be somebody.”

— Playhouse 90 A TOWN HAS TURNED TO DUST

 

Those quotes from 1958, written by one of our great writers to highlight a mindset of ignorance and prejudice and lynchings, are oddly and shamefully relevant. Being that here 60 years later the current occupant of the white house stole into the office, on such rhetoric of hate and stupidity and intolerance.

Invaded the most powerful office in the world, swept in on the unreasoning bellows of the mob.

I love Amazon Prime for making available these forgotten and overlooked pieces of cultural and cinematic history.

 

Today I watched from the early days of television, PLAYHOUSE 90s A TOWN THAT TURNED TO DUST.

Directed masterfully by John Frankenheimer, written by Rod Serling, starring a stellar cast including Rod Steiger, William Shatner, Fay Spain,  Eugene Iglesias, Mario Alcade and James Gregory.

From 1958, when Jim Crow and Lynchings still infested large swaths of America, this live production is unfortunately again relevant in 2019, will always be relevant as long as there are masses who want to blame their lives on others rather than taking responsibility for their lives. And ready, these masses, to be led by the loudest voice of hate, rather than the more thoughtful voices of reason.

Watch it now courtesy of Amazon Prime (search for it under the title AN EVENING IN THE ZONE). This is a film that deserves to be owned on DVD/Blu-Ray. Deserves to always be readily available, and not at the mercy of ephemeral streaming  contracts and whims.

I would like to think if Americans were raised on films like 1936’s FURY by Fritz Lang and 1943’s THE OX BOW INCIDENT by William Wellman and this one by John Ftrankenheimer, if these films were required viewing, we would stop repeating the same mistakes and committing the same attrocities and empowering the same hate mongers. To the point where the occupancy of the White House would be different.

There is nothing sadder than history and mistakes not learned from.