VOD Streaming Movie of the Day : THE BALLAD OF LEFTY BROWN

While the heyday of the western is behind us, we have had a resurgence of interest in them. And while they are still a minuscule number of the total movies made every year, the fact that we continue to get a few good ones made every year is encouraging.

Ranker has a pretty solid list of 50 good westerns made in the 21st century.  IMDB lists a bunch more.



At least 150 years removed from the Wild West of these films and TV shows, the Western still has the power to… enchant us with these tales of, if no less bloody, seemingly simpler days of right and wrong, and crime and punishment.


THE BALLAD OF LEFTY BROWN has that power. Built on the myth of such western icons as John Wayne and shows like Gunsmoke, it takes the usually good hearted and loyal, but relatively bumbling side-kick, and creates a situation where he must carry the story.  A really enjoyable western, well performed and directed, with a solid cast. Recommended!


You can watch it courtesy of Amazon prime.


Why Marvel Studios is Successful and Marvel Comics is Suffering! The Last word on Diversity!

Marvel Studios under the brilliant leadership of Kevin Feige has become an unparalleled success because of amazing producers, writers, directors, casting agents, and actors, who take material made often for a juvenile audience and made it work for an adult and non-comics audience, while also satisfying comic die-hards like myself.

And as movies from the 1st film (IRON MAN) to the 18th film (BLACK PANTHER) show, the reason for this is Kevin Feige’s willingness to embrace Diversity. Diversity is not just the makeup of America, contrary to the Trumpian and XM hate radio mob  who who would preach dissension. and hate, it is the makeup of the world. And when you stop running and hiding and sticking your head in the sand, trying to wind back the clock to a Jim Crow America, you realize it is also the makeup to success.

Marvel Comics however has floundered for decades now and continues to flounder with diminishing sales. And while the vocal minority of morons and closet Nazis and talk show radio supporters would blame diversity.

The truth, that common sense and reason would tell you is, appealing only to existing readership has led to a diminishing readership, that can barely get a hundred thousand people, to buy even their most popular book. The people who grew up in the news-stand and comicshop and subscription model of comics,, is an aging and diminishing audience. We are picking up new readers, in large part due to the diversity initiatives and book store and libraries, MS MARVEL and MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR being some of Marvel’s biggest books in collected format. Doing HUGE in Libraries. However while we are picking up new readers in book format, the periodical format continues to lose across the board, for all comics Marvel is producing, whether they put a White, Black, Asian or other character in the comics, and I would argue Marvel is making quality comics across the board, what they suffer from is pricing.

They have in an age of growing options for entertainment dollars, with options of tv, streaming, video games, virtual, and regular books and magazines, priced themselves out of the market. $4 retail for a 20 page comic, that typically is filled with ads and does not give you a full story… it is for most of us an insupportable expense.

Even Die-hards like me have to pick and choose, and generally speaking, the choice is to not support Marvel in the monthly format, not at their $4 and up retail price point. I have not bought a Marvel Comics in years, only their recent diversity push, a good thing rather than the curse word Rush Limbaugh morons would make it, when they finally had Black writers and artists on staff, got me to buy their monthly books again.

I’m speaking of BLACK PANTHER and the short lived POWER MAN AND IRON FIST which was a relatively self-contained title, by dream creative team of David Walker and Sanford Greene. But I stopped getting it when Marvel decided to try to screw with the success of that book by making it into three books. Trying to over-milk their audience. With BLACK PANTHER they quickly started additional titles and crossovers that you had to get to get the whole story. Better and cheaper to just get the collected edition. And when Power Man and Ironfist ended, so did my buying Marvel Comics.

So Marvel’s floundering sales, is a relatively steady study in decline, and has notching to do with diversity. That they have not floundered more is due to their talented and diverse creators and characters. If someone on Youtube or a blog or the media is blaming diversity, you are dealing with an idiot and a bigot and a liar. And you should unsubscribe from their channel and or feed, because stupid people are a waste of time.

Diversity is not Marvel Comics problem. Their problem #1 is pricing. $4 they charge per issue, or $3.99 as they like to call it, you have gone past the threshold the market will bear, or that even your die-hard already converted audience. Particularly when in comparison to other publishers who give you more for that same $4. Other publishers give you less obtrusive ads, letters pages, back matter. And some like CHAPTER HOUSE comics and even DC COMICS (prior to Bendis, hopefully Bendis doesn’t support the same price hike that he supported at Marvel) realize that $2.99 retail is the breaking point for comic book adoption and growth.

Marvel Comics is also big enough that they can support a price of $2.99 retail for their comics. That would take care of their major problem. their second problem,relying on Diamond totally for their periodical distribution. Marvel used to offer mail order subscriptions at a nice discount, that’s how I got some of my books, you would use the ad in the magazine and subscribe to get your comics in the mail. I loved this model as a kid. I used it in addition to the comic book stores.  I think it is a great model unfamiliar with dealing with the Diamond pre-order model. And the third and most important thing, if a title is successful as a single, standalone title, don’t break it by being greedy and stupid. See previous comment on POWERMAN AND IRON FIST.

All those three points come down to Marvel Comics being better managed and better run, if not, no amount of crossovers or character changes or fabricate storyline outrage, will correct Marvel Comics dwindling sales.


Here endeth the Diversity Discussion.



Liked the movie and now want some Black Panther comics? Start Here!

There’s a lot of Black Panther content out now due to the success of the movie, which is great, but it is all not equal.

For my money start with the Christopher Priest run here. What is best in the movie, including the grandeur, the pathos, the humor, and the conflict, definitely pulls from Priest’s lauded and 5 year long run on the character.

You can get all five years, the complete Christopher Priest run, in the following 4 collected editions. It took a long time, 12 years to get his work reprinted in these excellent collections. So I would recommend picking up these books while they are in print.


Get the above books at the below links:





Also for a good podcast review on the Black Panther film check out:


Marvel Studios BLACK PANTHER in 3D – The Verdict?

I just came from a sold out upscale theater showing of Ryan Coogler’s BLACK PANTHER for Marvel Studios.

I’m going to try to be brief. As someone who went into this having avoided all trailers, and spoilers, and special feature exposes (that in my experience is like pre-chewing your food before sitting down to eat, making it impossible for fan or reviewer to truly be surprised by a film) I was… blown away.



In terms of look, performance, direction, pathos, and humor, and rock solid action, it is without argument one of the best of the EIGHTEEN Marvel Studio Films released to date. I saw it in 3D and it is worth seeing in 3D. You don’t get the things flying into the audience effect, but the sense of looking down, and into chasms and waterfalls, plays up to 3Ds strengths. So I recommend seeing it at least once in 3D. I say once because like the original AVENGERS film, this is a film that deserves to be seen more than once.

I plan to see it in 2D when I go back next time.

This BLACK PANTHER film, released during Black History month, in my humble opinion is in a three way tie for the #1 Marvel Movie of all time; tied with the original AVENGERS by Josh Whedon and CAPTAIN AMERICA WINTER SOLDIER by the Russo Brothers. Those three movies share one shining exquisite truth; they are not just great comic-book movies, they are great films… FULL STOP.

Okay that should be all you need, go see the film now.

Okay still here, the following contains minor spoilers.

Black Panther Movie Poster

BLACK PANTHER is a great film from first frame to last. It is masterfully done; weaving effortlessly between drama, pomp, circumstance, humor, horror, tragedy, and heroism and hope. Chadwick Boseman is astonishing as the titular character, playing him with understated grace and elegance, that carries effortlessly the weight of the film. He is the rock upon which our tale is moored.

Writer/Director Ryan Coogler in three films has catapulted himself as one of the defining directors of our age, and BLACK PANTHER is that talent writ large. This is the tale of the death of kings, of fathers and sons, and things lost in the fire, this is about nothing less than the fate of the world, and about nothing more than the grief of boys for their fathers, a beautifully developed thread in all of Coogler’s films, but never done so well as here.

Coogler takes the admonishment of Hamlet ‘The common theme of life, is death of fathers’ and uses it like a lover and a lance, to both caress and break your heart. And he takes King Henry’s complaint in THE LION OF WINTER ‘I could have conquered Europe all of it, but I had women in my life.’ and here makes of it the saving grace of the protagonist, the film, and the world.

It is the women in this film who save the world, who save the men from their self extinguishing thirst for conquest and vengeance. And taking that line from LION OF WINTER, to also mean parental and familial influence, the difference between T’Challa and Killmonger then ultimately is in their relations to their fathers, even to the structure of their afterlives, one is defined by the inspiration of his father, and one by the lack of his father, and both of them have become completely extraordinary men in staggeringly different ways because of these relations.

It makes for a film of unexpected emotional intensity and depth. Coogler as a filmmaker has my number, as tears unbidden came to my eyes in places in this film. But I would argue he has everyone’s number, if you have the heart to feel, be you Irish or Korean or Ethiopian or American, Coogler will find those places that bind us all,… and squeeze. And then he’ll hit you with the action, then the humor, and sometime when you are laughing, he will squeeze again, and the tears will rise and you will know this is a filmmaker.

And it is wonderful when a director finds his muse, and an actor finds the director that gets him, brings out his best. Coogler and Michael B. Jordan are that combination.

They join legendary director/star pairings such as:

  • Ford and Wayne
  • Hawks and Wayne
  • Kurosawa and Mifune
  • Hitchcock  and Grant
  • Lee and Washington
  • Scorsese and Dinero
  • Scott and Washington
  • Woo and Yun-Fat
  • Ayer and Smith
  • Fuqua and Washington (It is not lost on me that Denzel Washington’s name appears with three different directors. It just shows the kind of fantastic actor he is, the longevity of his career, and that he can embody for many directors, the perfect actor).

Black Panther Movie Poster

Those pairings when they happen are the source of cinematic gold. And it happens in BLACK PANTHER with Coogler and Jordan, two of the respective best of their generation.

Simply a masterful film, with a stunning cast, and great performances. And Kudos to Kevin Feige who with 18 films under his belt, is not just producing films that transcend the source material, he has proved himself the most successful and influential film producer, in the history of the medium.Supplanting such names as Zanuck or Lewton.

It is a success richly earned.

That said, a lot of fans and reviewers care about the numbers, how much a movie makes. I do not. I could not care less if BLACK PANTHER made $1 or 1 Billion Dollars. In this day where studios own the films and the theaters; that is money that is being taken out of local economies. It is good the movie is successful in that we get more such movies from that director, that producer, those actors, but as far as making Disney richer, that does not concern me.

Now should we go back to the days of local and community owned theaters, then that matters, that we should support, because those dollars are staying in the community.

So I’m happy for the movie not because it does this much business, or that much business, I’m happy for the movie, because such visions raise us all, and the success allows such visionaries to keep telling stories.

Grade: An unqualified A+.

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Black Panther (#18 of 23)

If you like this movie I recommend the following:

The following movies are too good, to trust in the ‘cloud’ or ‘streaming’ to always have them available, or always have them available in unchanged, unedited, or unaltered versions. The below movies deserve to be owned in physical form, in the age of digital.

Chadwick Boseman in Message from the King (2016)

Chadwick Boseman’s excellent A MESSAGE FROM THE KING

Currently Watching : CW’s BLACK LIGHTNING Season 1 Episodes 1 -5

This is, despite some misfires, a golden age of TV. With just about every broadcast, cable or streaming channel producing quality shows.

CW after spearheading the SuperHero explosion on television, with its ARROW show, leading into a veritable universe of comic related shows, has unfortunately become a victim of its own success. Other channels buoyed by ARROW’s initial ground breaking success have followed suit, and quite frankly have surpassed what is coming out of CW. The action and fight choreography of DAREDEVIL making the once jaw dropping ARROW fight scenes, look gimmicky and sub-par by comparison.

Black Lightning Movie Poster

FLASH while filled with likable characters, gets increasingly less inspired stories each season. SUPER-GIRL after an initial strong first season, follows it up with a weak syrupy second season, that spent too much time on her Sister’s Lesbianism, which I really could not care any less about, and introducing other uninteresting characters. SUPERNATURAL jumped the shark over 5 seasons ago, and hasn’t had an engaging season since (as every season,simply plays out as watered down ou can definitely add BLACK LIGHTNING to the mix.. variations of that, And LEGENDS OF TOMORROW  is just bad on every level. Shows such as LEGION and RUNAWAYS making the CW shows look like the 60s BATMAN or GREATEST AMERICAN HERO show, by comparison.

Only IZOMBIE, currently on hiatus, has been consistently entertaining to date.

Now after five episodes you can add BLACK LIGHTNING to that list. It has the freshness and energy and charisma and captivating stories, that the other CW shows largely lack. With a great lead, excellent costars, vicious enemies, and mysteries abounding. It from top to bottom isn’t just an exciting and addictive and fun show, but also a needed one. If ARROW five years ago was the show we needed then, BLACK LIGHTNING very much, is the show we need now. Five episodes in I’m hooked, I love it. Grade: B+.

 And while the show can b e released and enjoyed anytime, I do appreciate it being released during Black History Month/Year. It touches with a deft hand on issues that still resound.

Currently Reading : BATMAN Vol1-3 by Tom King

Tom King in a few years has made quite a name for himself as a writer of Slims (comic books).

Always suspicious of hype, I went into his VISION quite skeptical. Long story made short, his VISION lives up to the hype. You can come into it not knowing anything, and be quickly swept away by the sheer power, and humanity and hurt; in a story about what it means to be human, in an inhuman world.



It truly is fabulous and if you have never read it, it is a highest recommendation. There is a just dropped hardcover available at remaining Bookstores everywhere.

His MISTER MIRACLE released half a dozen Slims in 2017, the issues were definitely good, though the final verdict is out till he sticks the landing this year. Like the VISION and his earlier OMEGA MEN, it is about a damaged character, a broken character. A slightly off kilter world view.  So far all titles are relatively intriguing and well crafted.  In the case of the VISION masterfully crafted.


Then we come to the books up for review this installment, BATMAN VOL 1-3 from the DC Rebirth Line of books, by Tom King.






The irrationality and poor decision making and erratic, even stupid, behavior; that worked well in the tale of a broken Android, a torn freedom fighter, and a suicidal God, does not work well in the BATMAN books.

The very conceit for the whole three volumes, is that Batman (the world’s greatest detective and inventor), is distraught about an emotionally damaged ward, and decides in a world of super scientists, magicians, and Gods, the only way to help his ward, is by stealing a mediocre villain, with the power to make people feel happy, so he can smile at Batman’s traumatized ward and make her feel happy. If that is not a brain-dead enough premise, it becomes even more moronic, when he decides to accomplish this by putting together a suicide squad and risking war and death, and doing this knowing it will wake a retired and sleeping dragon.

It is just the type of moronic plotting one tends to associate with brain-damaged villains seeking world conquest, not the resourceful Batman. And adding stupidity on stupidity, KIng redefines what drives Batman, to be not a sense of justice, or outrage, but a desire toward… (wait for it) Suicide.

And that definition doesn’t stick. Not with any interpretation of the character that makes sense. The desire to die doesn’t push you to be a beyond Olympic level athlete, it doesn’t push you to endure, it doesn’t push you to overcome.

Ultimately this addled definition is Tom King’s definition of the character, unfortunately, it seems to be the same broken, frayed creature that he tries to shape all the characters he writes into. And what worked with THE VISION, and THE OMEGA MEN, and seems to be working with MISTER MIRACLE, does inherently not work, does not graft, does not fit… onto the character of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Plus I can really do without the Yellow costumed Sidekick. I can do without the sidekick dynamic period. Either make him his own character (his own man) and get him out of the insipid yellow costume, or don’t have the character in the book.

Tom King is instead of tailoring the story to the character, seemingly making every character fit into the same story mold. All Tom King’s character are horrible tacticians, who make horrendous plans. That is not any type of Batman I want to read about. I picked up the three Tom King Batman volumes from the library to give a try, and I am so glad I didn’t buy them. It is surprisingly uninteresting, tedious, and disappointing reading.

Final Grade: AVOID