AVENGERS INFINITY WAR : THE LAST WORD Review

 

I have been off the movie radar for a bit.

I go in cycles like that.

Last movie I saw in the theater (twice) was the excellent BLACK PANTHER Directed by Ryan Coogler and produced by filmic juggernaut, Marvel Studios.

Today a few minutes ago I just got done watching AVENGERS INFINITY WAR courtesy of Amazon Prime, and streamed right in the comfort of my home.

It is definitely a movie that would have been great seen  on a huge full size theatrical system, but as I said timing and interest sometimes works out for me to hit the theater, sometimes it doesn’t.

The movie, AVENGERS INFINITY WAR finally seen ( I avoided trailers, special features, reviews etc) it is ten years of Marvel Studios, and ten years of world building codified and paid tribute to; it is not just a great movie, it is a great mythology. It is that first story told around the raging fire to keep back the night. It is everything you want a film to be.

To call it just a superhero film is perhaps to miss the point, and the enduring power and place these four color heroes have held first on the comic page, and now the cinematic stage.

They are our modern myths writ large, and this film by the capable Russo Brothers improves and transcends the source material, to tell tales both of massive victories and massive defeats, but always managing to ground it on a very personal level.

The movie made me laugh, it made me cheer, it made me tear up, and it made me silent. A whole gamut of emotional states in a mere couple of hours. The Russo Brother’s have helmed yet another masterpiece and this one being their best and most haunting yet. Raising the stakes but not losing the man on the ground perspective, that make these films so relateable.

Tales of Gods and Monsters yes, but hinged on wheels of faith and loss and sacrifice and love.

The wheels all of us, can understand and be moved by.

There are reasons to be concerned about a monotheistic Movie Landscape, with all studios gobbled up by the mouse. I do not feel Disney acquiring Marvel Studios was a good thing. I do not feel the Lucas properties being engulfed by them is a good thing. I do not feel the Fox acquisition is a good thing.

I think in the long term this monotheistic film landscape is a very bad thing for culture, and choice, and competition. I think in the long term there are anti-trust and anti-competition issues that will affect all of us; whether fans or not, of these films. But those are fights and concerns separate from the actual review of this one singular film.

This one singular film, celebrating the 10th year of Marvel Studios unprecedented dynasty is filmmaking done as well as it can be done, on a scale and scope that is nearly as mythic as the story itself. I loved it. Full Stop. It is right in the mix with my top 5, being in no particular order AVENGERS, BLACK PANTHER, WINTER SOLDIER, CIVIL WAR, and this one… INFINITY WAR.

Grade: A+. As a fan of METROPOLIS and GREED and SEARCHERS and LION IN WINTER, even though this movie is a ‘Super-hero’ movie and a Blockbuster, and is popular, it is every bit as great and serious and beautiful a film as those lauded classics. It is a new minted classic, and will stand the test of time.  From script, to direction, to special effects, to performances, especially performances, allowing the actors to act under those layers of makeup and costumes and CGI, the film is a rare achievement.

I look forward to the sequel. And I look forward to buying this film on DVD/Blu-Ray, and watching again, and enjoying the film commentary.

You can get your Blu-Ray here:

https://amzn.to/2obFhvS

 

 

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Favorite Directorial Debuts of the 21st Century!

I recently did a post highlighting some of the best directorial debuts of the last century. A lot of classic greats such as Orson Welles  CITIZEN KANE, Branagh’s HENRY V, Ossie Davis’ COTTON COMES TO HARLEM (which for the time when it was made, 1970, was really revolutionary as far as staging chase scenes. It’s often over looked in great car chase films, however it is one of the first and best. And the movie as a whole is disarming, tinges of heart felt humor in it, but also a surprising bit of wrath, brutality and action).

This time around I wanted to cover some of the best directorial debuts of the still relatively new 21st century.

In our fragmented increasingly monotheistic film landscape, the importance of film that comes outside of the ever repressive Disney structure has never been more important (shame on you Disney for firing James Gunn. And shame on you Twitter for not deleting ten year old quotes when asked, and instead holding on to quotes and allowing them to be militarized and sold to neo-conservative/neo-nazi hatchet men with a desire to use social media, the stupidity of the masses, and the immorality and venality of corporations,  to destroy any and all opposition to their madness.)

So until Disney is broken up by Anti-Trust laws like it needs to be, we need alternatives to standard mass media. We need streaming and VOD, and that’s where the interesting films and filmmaker get a chance to have a life, and earn an income. We need a new generation of great and gusty filmmakers, and I am happy to say they are out there.

So without further ado, here are the best Feature film directorial debut of the 21st century:

Serenity

Serenity (2005)

15 | 119 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Director: Joss Whedon

Following (1998)

15 | 69 min | Crime, Mystery, Thriller Director: Christopher Nolan

Intruders PosterINTRUDERS (2015) –

Director:

Adam Schindler

 

The Evil Within PosterTHE EVIL WITHIN (2017) – It is NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET but instead of a slasher film, is a perverted episode of TWILIGHT ZONE. A little known movie but worth seeking out.  Like most of these films it can be seen if you are an Amazon Prime member.

Director:

Andrew Getty

The Monster Project (2017)

THE MONSTER PROJECT (2017)

Director:

Victor Mathieu

last_will_and_testament_of_rosalind_leigh_xlg
THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH (2012)

Director:

Rodrigo Gudiño  – To date the only feature film by Rodrigo Gudino, I love this film. However, It is one of the few director’s commentary I do not like, as his take on the movie runs contrary to the wonderfully unique atmosphere the film creates, and really talks you out of liking the movie, and his interpretation takes the magic, and wonderful horrific atmosphere. So a rare case of watch the movie, but avoid the special features and commentary. And I typically LOVE Commentaries.

Most Beautiful Island (2017)MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND-  Wow. I didn’t know at all where this movie was going. And that is how I suggest you go into it. Do not watch trailers or read anything else beyond this on it. I will say the opening pre-credit sequence…very masterfully done. Robert Bresson is arguably one of the greatest directors ever, and he mastered what is considered the empty frame, or the pregnant frame.  He created the camera opening on a vacant scene, and building expectation as you waited for that space to be filled. The opening of this movie has some of that Bressonian genius. But pushes it somewhere odd, depending who you are, and what you bring to the film, that opening scene may highlight how almost on an instinctual level their is a vouyeristic and somewhat predatory nature to how we look at people in groups, and what people we focus on. It is hard to explain, but you will arguably feel it in the motion and lack of motion of the camera in that opening sequence. And ends just as brilliantly and conflictedly.  A great film by star and first time director Ana Asensio.

JOHN WICK

A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT

CAPTAIN AMERICA WINTER SOLDIER

THE WITCH
SOUTHBOUND
STOMPING GROUND
CRAWL OR DIE
DEVOURED
CALL ME KING
A MESSAGE FROM THE KING
ABSENTIA
THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
EUROPA REPORT
FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY
AT THE DEVIL’S DOOR
THE TALL MAN
BONE TOMAHAWK
PONTY POOL
UNDER THE SKIN
THE ARROYO
BOY WONDER
Honorable mentions: IT FOLLOWS unfortunately is the 2nd film of its Director, or it would be at the top of this list. I consider it (along with A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT) one of the greatest Horror films made since Carpenter’s 1980s output.

7 Reasons AMAZON PRIME Streaming is better than Netflix STREAMING!

  1. LARGER SELECTION OF FILMS, ESPECIALLY GENRE AND CLASSIC FILMS – Netflix has a rather paltry selection of films compared to Amazon. In addition Netflix is almost completely lacking in older films in any numbers. Want to see the best in Spaghetti Westerns, or Italian Giallos or Polischei films or Paul Naschy films or Shaw Brothers Hong Kong Films or Black New Wave Films or Bigfoot Films? You wont find that on Netflix, you have to go to Amazon for such a curated selection of films/options.

  2. BETTER SELECTION OF FILMS – This goes hand in hand with point 1. In addition to having a much larger selection, they have a better selection of films.

  3. AVAILABILITY OF RATINGS FOR ALL MOVIES AND TV SHOWS – I find Amazon’s ratings on their films not only spot on, but a great way to help me find a film I might otherwise not have tried or discovered.

  4. SUPER USEFUL ‘CUSTOMERS ALSO WATCHED’ FEATURE – This feature goes along with the ratings to help me find films I otherwise would not have discovered.

  5. EASY AVAILABILITY OF TRAILERS FOR MOST MOVIES, OLD AND NEW – Trailers for all movies, old and new, is a must, and is yet another reason Amazon is far more enjoyable to browse than Netflix.

  6. BETTER SELECTION OF SHORT FILMS

  7. MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK, IN ADDITION TO STREAMING YOU GET ALL THE OTHER BENEFITS OF AMAZON , INCLUDING DISCOUNTED PRICING AND FREE SHIPPING.

For all these reasons I have un-subscribed to Netflix, and am happily subscribed to Amazon and Hulu.

One caveat, I think I’ll subscribe to Netflix for one month just to see the 2nd season of LUKE CAGE. The first season was along with DAREDEVIL season 1 the best of the Netflix shows. And was easily the best written and most groundbreaking of the shows.

Those conversations, that the closed-minded called slow or unnecessary, were the very heart of the show, this understanding of a Harlem renaissance not yet deferred, and were conversations that I’ve heard and had. So to see a show embrace an other than anglo-saxon or yuppie story-telling perspective, to have stories that actually have some resonance and familiarity to a broader ethnic perspective, made LUKE CAGE 1 up there with LEGION season 1 and FARGO season 2 as truly innovative television.

Those of you who didn’t get Luke Cage, I would suggest watch season 1 again, it is one of the few shows that gets stronger, when re-watched. When watched for what it is, rather than what we assumed it would be.

Here is hoping SEASON 2 of LUKE CAGE lives up to season 1.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982) -Revisited and Amazon Prime CONAN series in the works?

 

Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life?

Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.

Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?

Conan: To crush your enemies. See them driven before you. And to hear the lamentations of their women.

Mongol General: That is good! That is good.

—Conan The Barbarian

36 Years later, and the best version of Robert E Howard’s pulp adventure series set at the beginning of the Hyborian age of man, the best live action version of his CONAN, is John Milius’ absolutely thrillingly written CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982).

Conan the Barbarian Movie Poster

 

Starring the great James Earl Jones, and just dripping with great lines, the movie holds up. And no one who has seen it, can leave it without the lines of a plain, unapologetic, patriarchal time, following you, like war drums in your heart.  Man, Millius got what was best in Howard’s Conan, dialing down the ‘of its time’ weaknesses of Howard’s stories, and instead dialing up the strengths to 11.

Seeing the movie as a boy, it was a boy’s adventure writ large, like STAR WARS or INDIANA JONES or SUPERMAN. And John Millius’ CONAN THE BARBARIAN were the lines and the myth, that many boys grew to manhood on.

The only weakness of the first film is its titular star, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger at the time, coming off devastating bodybuilding wins, was while physically the absolutely right person, did not have the acting chops. I mean he pulls it off for the most part, but some scenes cause you to wince, even as a kid, However with an actor with more gravitas, the movie could be a solid recommend, rather than  a qualified one.

I think you could take this same Movie, with the brilliant John Millius script, shoot it almost line for line, and shot for shot, and add a protagonist with more acting skill, and have a great movie.

The 2011 Momoa movie unfortunately, while it got a dynamic actor, surrounded him with a sub par script and story, and had nothing iconic or memorable to it, ala Millius’ CONAN THE BARBARIAN.

And the less said about the CONAN  THE DESTROYER the better.

However there is talk of an Amazon Streaming TV series of Conan to be put together by Colony co-creator Ryan Condal, Thrones director Miguel Sapochnik and The Handmaid’s Tale executive producer Warren Littlefield.

But until that sees the light of day, I would say revisit Millius; CONAN THE BARBARIAN, and enjoy what is best in life.

Thulsa Doom: I wish to speak to you now. Where is the Eye of the Serpent? Rexor says that you gave to a girl, probably for a mere night’s pleasure, hmm? What a loss. People have no grasp of what they do. You broke into my house, stole my property, murdered my servants, and my PETS! And that is what grieves me the most! You killed my snake. Thorgrim is beside himself with grief! He raised that snake from the time it was born.

Conan: You killed my mother! You killed my father, you killed my people! You took my father’s sword… ah –

[Rexor twists his arm]

Thulsa Doom: Ah. It must have been when I was younger. There was a time, boy, when I searched for steel, when steel meant more to me than gold or jewels.

Conan: The riddle… of steel.

Thulsa Doom: Yes! You know what it is, don’t you boy? Shall I tell you? It’s the least I can do. Steel isn’t strong, boy, flesh is stronger! Look around you. There, on the rocks; a beautiful girl. Come to me, my child…

[coaxes the girl to jump to her death]

Thulsa Doom: That is strength, boy! That is power! What is steel compared to the hand that wields it? Look at the strength in your body, the desire in your heart, I gave you this! Such a waste. Contemplate this on the tree of woe. Crucify him!

—James Earl Jones having six years earlier defined one of the great cinematic villains of all time in Darth Vader, does so here in front of the camera, with his brilliant performance of Thulsa Doom. Like all great villains, there is something alluring, and of the misplaced hero, in the best of villians. Something almost correct, something of the man they were, or could have been, that resonates in who they are. Something in their fervor and their madness, that seems at times… almost sane.

 Not currently available (free) on streaming, this is the reason to always have your Blu-Ray Player and Blu-ray copy of great movies like this! Get your copy at the link below! 🙂

https://amzn.to/2r4R28h

 

Conan the Barbarian [Blu-ray]

Currently Watching: PANELLOGY 85 & 86!! Watch these episodes before buying your next expensive hardcover!

I have recently found quite a few great Youtube shows courtesy of the Youtube channel on Roku.

A new favorite is Earl Grey‘s simply superb PANELLOGY. Two of his older episodes that I just watched are episodes 85 and 86, and as someone who purchases quite a few hardcover books, especially of the graphic novel or collected edition variety, his two episodes are essential viewing.

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/marvel_dc/images/0/07/Batwoman_Hydrology.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20121218200628

Get your copy here:

http://amzn.to/2BQ8Qf4

 

And can potentially save you quite a bit of money as they point out binding issues/defects to be on the look out for

Earl Grey, you definitely should do more of these ‘issues with collected editions’ type shows.

Informative stuff!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1ZtauWih38Lr1aVEXuZybw

 

 

 

 

Best & Favorite of 2017!!!

This is a bit belated but I think you will find a nice overview to 2017 and pointers to 2018 in the ramblings below.

Favorite movies seen in the Theater in 2017:

KONG:SKULL ISLAND

LOGAN

 

I only saw two movies in the theater in 2017, so looking to improve on that in 2018. Nothing in January had me jazzed to pay theater prices for, however I am looking forward to the following in 2018:

click for larger (if applicable) click for larger (if applicable) click for larger (if applicable)

EQUALIZER 2

click for larger (if applicable)

 

FAVORITE TV SHOWS IN 2017:

  • LEGION
  • TAKEN
  • POWER
  • AMERICAN NINJA
  • CHOPPED
  • AMERICAN PICKERS
  • LOVE IT OR LIST IT
  • LETHAL WEAPON
  • THE GRAND TOUR
  • GODLESS
  • RUNAWAYS

FAVORITE STREAMING TV CHANNEL IN 2017

The one two punch of AMAZON PRIME and HULU gets this award. NETFLIX that was riding high in 2016 with LUKE CAGE and other shows, had a disappointing 2017. With a non user friendly interface compared to Amazon Prime and a selection of shows and movies that weren’t as interesting or well curated as either HULU or AMAZON PRIME, I cancelled my membership at the end of 2017. The last straw being the overhyped and ultimately lackluster PUNISHER series, as well as news of the studios pulling their content from Netflix.

In 2018 the TV shows that I am or will be watching are:

CASTLE ROCK

GRAND TOUR

TAKEN (I think the new showrunner made a mistake getting rid of most of the cast from season 1, but hopefully he can course correct and fix it)

STRIKE BACK and ELEMENTARY return after long hiatuses

LONGMEYER went out with a bit of a whimper, so looking forward to YELLOWSTONE

JACK RYAN

LETHAL WEAPON

CHOPPED

IZOMBIE

BLACK LIGHTNING

AMERICANS

And lastly looking forward to Season 2 of what, without question, was the best, most inventive TV show of 2017, Noah Hawley’s LEGION.

And for those keeping score… LUKE CAGE tied with FARGO Season 2 (Also by Noah Hawley) were the best TV shows of 2015, and DAREDEVIL Season 1 was the best TV show of 2014.

 

BEST MUSIC OF 2017

I loved everything binaural in 2017, adding many great CDs to my collection. THE HEAVY and GREGORY PORTER remained in heavy rotation. Gregory Porter being my favorite live performance of 2017. And I added new interests RAG N BONE MAN, Andra day and Brian Ferneyhough. With Spotify to allow me to try before I buy, I’m looking forward in 2018 to discovering more great music, both old and new.

BEST READS OF 2017

I didn’t read as many novels, or listen to as many audio books in 2017 as I did in previous years, so I definitely hope to turn that around in 2018.

I did do substantially better with Art Books, Graphic Novels, Reference Books, and comics in 2017. Some of the standouts:

 

MATT BAKER THE ART OF GLAMOUR

CREEPING DEATH FROM NEPTUNE

THE WOLVERTON BIBLE

ARTIST EDITION BASIL WOLVERTON (This and the other two previous books having to do with Basil Wolverton, I went all in on him in 2017. Still absorbing these three books here in 2018)

JACKIE ORMES

THE SIGNATURE ART OF BRIANSTELFREEZE

SEX AND HORROR THE ART OF ALESSANDRO BIFFIGNANDI

In 2018 writers I intend to go all in on are Percival Everett, Victor Lavalle, Colin Whitehead and Walter Mosley, as well as revisiting work by Ligotti, Lebbon, Ellison, Stephen King, Clive Barker and Bennett.

 

In 2017 Marvel had a great POWER MAN AND IRON FIST series I was reading, the only thing I was buying monthly from Marvel Comics. And Marvel letting greed get in the way of common sense, killed a series everyone was loving, with a creative team everyone was loving, David Walker and Brian Stelfreeze, to instead both dilute audience attention and oversaturate the market with multiple books, almost all of which are ready to be canceled. So going into 2018, with Marvel sticking to their insane $3.99 price point per book, there are no titles I pick up from Marvel Comics.

 

In 2017 DEATHSTROKE by Christopher Priest was the only DC Comic I was getting on a monthly base. It’s arguably the one series that you can just pick up and enjoy without having to read any other title, or care about any other title. Priest has been able to just do… what he does best, create a fantastic read; month in and month out. So it is the only DC book I’m reading in 2018. However, greed rears its ugly heads and the idiots who get paid to make stupid decisions have decided to add DEATHSTROKE to their floundering team book… JLA,  basically gutting the standalone nature of the comic that allows Priest, to do his magic. Basically the same poor decision making that happened last year with POWER MAN AND IRON FIST.

 

I figure the conversation went like this… ‘man everyone is talking about this book, let’s put the characters in multiple other books, and then they will be talking about all those other books too.’ No, you EFFING morons! The reason people are enjoying POWER MAN AND INRON FIST or DEATHSTROKE is because it is well drawn and well written and not part of your insipid crossover infested universe. Your very attempts to duplicate that success, without understanding it, will kill the character in the new book, and kill interest in the character in the original book.

So yeah here’s hoping someone with brains over at DC, vetoes the horrible idea to put DEATHSTROKE in the JLA, because I’m not going to read the JLA, and you’re editorial interference will create a character that no longer works in his solo book. You have therefore killed the golden goose and have nothing to show for it.

 

The good news is when you get sick of the stupid decisions and overpriced ad laden product at DC and MARVEL, you have great content from other publishers to enjoy. Publishers that give you more for your money. Publishers such as IMAGE, AFTERSHOCK, DARK HORSE and many more.

As far as where to buy new comics from, a lot of people will steer you to DCBS. I personally in terms of pure customer service and ease or ordering prefer LONE STAR COMICS. You can order comics in advance from the at http://www.mycomicshop.com at a discount.

 

They are highly recommended, and I use them myself, and this is an unpaid recommendation. Tell them Heroic Times sent you.

 

And wrapping this up, favorite podcasts of 2017:

 

11OCLOCK COMICS

COMIC GEEK SPEAK

WTF with Marc Maron

BLACK TAPES

GEEK SYNDICATE

 

To name a few. Okay that is it for my 2017 Pop Culture overview. Thanks for bearing with it and if you enjoy, spread the word. Enjoy WEEK #6 of 2018!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Currently Watching : Richard Linklater’s BEFORE SUNRISE

‘The Answer must be in the attempt.’

I had no desire to see this film, but finally watched, it is quite a lovely film. Covering one day, one chance encounter between two people. There is something very relateable and universal about meeting someone in passing, and bridging that gap between is there or isn’t there something there.

It’s a wonderful film about those fleeting glances we have all had, followed and acted upon, and leading to something by chance begun. Here that unlikely and awkward and magical and inept circumstance of burgeoning love is told against the backdrop of one of the most beautiful of cities, Vienna, immortalized by Carol Reed’s and Orson Welles’ THIRD MAN.

It’s a wonderful way to pass an hour and a half. Watching a film about the moments that live… because of the attempt.

 

“I believe if there’s any kind of God it wouldn’t be in any of us, not you or me but just this little space in between. If there’s any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. I know, it’s almost impossible to succeed but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt.” — Celine in BEFORE SUNRISE