Filmic Fridays! AVENGERS ENDGAME early thoughts

While everyone is busy pondering and obsessed with how many Billions of Dollars AVENGERS ENDGAME will eventually take in, I find myself not really on that hype train.

I do intend to see AVENGERS ENDGAME (quick aside: that is a terrible title. While perhaps definition-wise apt, the actual use as a memorable, imaginative, compelling title… leaves much to be desired) and given the Russo’s track record in their past three Marvel movies I expect it to be great. But as far as getting into the speculation game is how much richer this movie will make one of the richest companies on the planet, I could not care less.

This sense of ownership comic fans show toward these films they own no part of, and corporations that 99.999% of them own no stock in, is very reminiscent of house slaves taking a sense of ownership in the gaudy trappings and parties of their masters.

I dislike Disney.

I have always disliked and distrusted Disney.

From a little kid there was something off about the company, an undercurrent always contrary to their seemingly family friendly/kid friendly fare. As a kid I always felt about all their product there was something so…. forced and insincere and cloying.

Time and egregious acts such as Disney being one of the first companies to buy a news division, (ostensibly to not be scrutinized by a free press, but to actually be the owners of the news) to now being one of the biggest monopolies in the world, has only strengthened my distrust of the company.

All these morons clamoring for Disney to subsume Fox, for no better reason than to see a movie with fictional IPs interacting, to have their Avengers meet their X-men, not understanding the broader real world implications of one less movie and TV company, one less alternative, in a world clearly running out of things not owned by Disney.

Disney has proven themselves historically to be an opponent of concepts such as public domain and creator owned, concepts that enrich culture, and move us forward.

And now that they in little more than a couple of decades have completely eaten any promising rivals to their claim of being the ‘Dream Studio’ from PIXAR, to MARVEL STUDIOS, to LUCAS FILMS, to now FOX, they are the textbook definition of a SUPER MONOPOLY.

About a 108 years ago the Supreme Court was RIGHT in breaking up Standard Oil. The Rockefeller’s monopoly of the oil business. Understanding a company with such broad reach could set prices, fix wages, even create and change laws. They were right to break Standard Oil all to pieces. And they are wrong to not actively be doing the same to Disney.

One company, especially one with as combative a policy on public domain and creator rights, should never have been made the owner (jailer?) of so many cultural and pop cultural properties, a large portion of which, like Shakespeare, like the writings of Mark Twain, Like the works of Poe, should already be in public domain. Batman, Superman, Captain America, these are concepts around long enough to become part of the cultural lexicon and conversation and hence, owned and own-able by all.

So just like any studio or TV station can put out Poe derived properties, the same should be the case with many of the early properties of Disney. Public Domain not keeping companies from making money off these concepts, it just keeps them from being the only entity to do so. it spreads the wealth, understanding that at some point, if a story lives long enough, it becomes the story of all men, and not the property of a single man or monopoly.

And Public Domain being only one of the rights of man trampled on, when a company grows too big. A company of sufficient size can set wages for an industry, effectively blacklist or put out of work who it chooses, suppress and eliminate competition/ choice.

Marvel Studios getting bought by Disney was not a good thing.

We are the poorer when viable competition to Disney or Microsoft or Apple or Google gets taken off the board.

So I hope for my own enjoyment that AVENGERS ENDGAME is a good movie, but as far as if it makes money, breaks even. I don’t have a dog in that fight. I’m not a theater owner, I’m not a studio stock holder, I’m not one of the people who worked in or on the movie, so in no way am i profiting from whether the movie does well or badly, anymore than as a film fan.

And for a fan to be interested in if he will see more of a franchise is understandable, but for a fan to be rabid about a film breaking records or how much billions it makes or its opening Weekend hall, is to lose sight of that money is largely going one way, out of many diverse people and  communities into a very few pockets.

In many ways those Billions a movie makes are further funds siphoned, to widen the gap… between rich and poor.

Now i do not fault a movie for doing well, but I will be much abused or maladjusted, before I cheer billionaires becoming bigger billionaires, when the bulk of people in this world, are getting poorer.

That’s my take on how completely, a monopolized media can skew us against our own best interests.

Here Endeth the Lesson.

🙂

 

 

 

John Krasinski’s THE QUIET PLACE : A Movie/VOD Review!

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So A QUIET PLACE has been on my radar to watch for a while, however other things took priority. However I heard a Youtube Film critic, recently say that A QUIET PLACE was his best film of 2018. Given the stiff competition of monumental film-making occurring in 2018, that seemed like a bold statement.

But I am always open to discovering a new great film. So today I watched, courtesy of Amazon Prime VOD, John Krasinski’s A QUIET PLACE.

John Krasinski came on my radar as he did with most people  in the brilliant 13 HOURS (that reminded Michael Bay critics, Michael Bay can be a great director), and this year in Amazon’s equally brilliant JACK RYAN series.

Here with his Sophomore feature film, A QUIET PLACE, Krasinski makes a solid little horror film. The silent conceit is a nice touch, and the movie plays a bit like an updated SEVEN.

The third act I feel the audience is way ahead of the characters, at least I was, so you are screaming at the characters to catch up and figure out the ultimate solution to the movie. Also somethings seemed odd… why wouldn’t you, in such a world, carry around firecrackers with you at all times to distract the menace, and carry weapons, and set traps etc (ala a bear trap and an alarm clock, as these things do not seem too particular in what they attack).

But overall a good B-movie. A solid B-. John Krasinski as well as being an actor to watch, is a filmmaker to watch.

Grade: B-.

As far as claims of A QUIET PLACE being the best movie of 2018… in a word… no.

Even allowing for film being subjective, it is not even the best b-movie film of the year (that honor goes to the excellent UPGRADE) much less the best film of the year (that would go to films like BLACK PANTHER, AVENGER INFINITY WAR etc).

But it doesn’t have to be. It just has to be worth your time, and for most of its run time it is. Recommended!

p.s.

And in case you wonder what is my bar for great films. here are some films I consider great, as in best of the year great (in their respective years) in no particular order…

THIRD MAN (Carol Reed/Orson Welles)

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA

SUPERMAN

WRATH OF KHAN

MEMORIES OF MURDER

DARESALAM

CITY OF GOD

HYENA by Djibril Diop Mambety

Just about anything by Michael Mann

Just about anything in the latter half of his career by the late Tony Scott

Just about anything in the first half of his career by Ridley Scott

THE MISSION (both the Johnnie To Film and the Turkish film of the same title)

TUCKER

BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA

MALTESE FALCON

BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN

GREED (Silent Film)

SUNRISE (Just about anything by Murnau or Fritz Lang or Alfred Hitchcock)

The early films of M NIGHT SHYMALAN

PICKPOCKET (Robert Bresson)

And to this list you can safely put AVENGERS INFINITY WAR, BLACK PANTHER, CAPTAIN AMERICA WINTER SOLDIER, and the first AVENGERS, which all transcend being genre movies, to just be great films.

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

 

 

An early contender for one of the BEST podcasts of the year! Larry Lieber on Stan Lee!

 

 

 

 

 

A simply stupendous interview with Larry Lieber, brother to the great Stan Lee, and unsung hero/creator in his own right.

A vocal few people like to praise Kirby, and then feel they can’t do that, without also taking shots at Stan Lee. A very diseased American either/or idea, that you can’t praise something without tearing something else down.

I’ll have no truck with that.

Stan Lee was (is? I think genius is a fleeting time frame for the best of us. It is an alchemic time that is short lived for the best of us) a genius… Full Stop. And his greatest genius besides his enthusiasm and invention and superlative imagination and ideas, and great writing, was he knew how to find and cheer-lead talent. And inspire talent and appreciation in and for others.

I don’t care how talented you are, either as an artist or writer, what you need is someone to champion that talent and get the masses excited. This is what Stan Lee did, he took a denigrated kids medium, and moved it from the corner store into the College campuses. And from the College campuses to the larger mainstream culture of television, music, merchandising and finally Movies.

Stan Lee did that.

Not alone at the end, but alone at the beginning, he was the visionary who saw a future for these four colored mythologies, beyond the recycling bin. He believed in outrageous ideas like a life for these four color concepts beyond their newsprint origins. He believed in a bookstore life for these books, when that was as much a thing of fiction as the stories in the books themselves.

And he did this by finding and celebrating talent.Like Kirby, like Ditko, Like Romito, Like Heck, Like Buscema, like Roy Thomas.And like his Brother Steve Lieber. Absolutely fantastic interview, I say again. I found myself tearing up during it. And my appreciation for Stan Lee is already immense, him helping train and teach his brother, only increased it. And my appreciation for Larry Lieber has skyrocketed. I’m on a mission now to pick up all his work as writer and artist.
Listen now, true Believer!

 

 

 

Week 4 of 2018! Best Unboxing and Graphic Novel Videos!

I like Youtube courtesy of Roku because you can browse without comments. I don’t mind comments if they are moderated, but unmoderated comments is just like sewage, something I prefer not to wade thru. 🙂

So Roku allows me to actually be able to use Youtube and find it useful rather than nauseating. Case in point, unboxing videos. I am a HUGE graphic novel and Art Book fan, and I’ve become quite enamored of these videos where people show off their artbook or graphic novel or comic. It has given me so many great ideas regarding items to purchase, as well as helping me decide ites to pass on.

Though, unfortunate for my wallet, more of the former than the latter.

Here are some recent great ones as well as some of the best channels to visit.

 

THE CHINEST has great segments where you get to see the interior of the comic and decide if it is for you or not.

https://m.youtube.com/user/TheChinest

MARKET WATCH has a recent fantastic series of videos where he shows some of the great items he found in a recent collection purchase.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz_gop-AM3fa6NGhSs_J_0w

GEM MINT COLLECTIBLES does a phenomenal end of 2017 Room Tour. Really impressive man-cave even if you are not into figurines. I really want those GOON and FEAR AGENT Hardcovers/Omnibuses.  And I love the idea of his desk in the middle of the room as well as his bookstand. I’m completely going to do that.  Really interesting and informative videos on his channel. Check out his TOP TEN ABSOLUTE EDITION WHALES video as well.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC31fEeAOTnfRgvGFwYJsFUA

Kudos to OMNIBUDS CAFE I really enjoyed his 2018 Omnibus collection overview. His bound and signed editions are great.

 

I have more of these shout outs coming, as well as a list of my favorite collections of 2017!  So come back for more next time!

Today’s Recommended Podcast: 3rd DEGREE BYRNE Ep# 1 AVENGERS 164-166

I stumbled across this relatively recent podcast today. An entire podcast dedicated to the works, the oeuvre, of one of the most influential artists, and later writer/artist, of the 1970s and 1980s… John Byrne.

As a kid of the 70s and 80s, I very much grew up on the artwork and collaborations and stories of John Byrne, so I still hold that work as formative and really ground breaking. And really his body of work remains a large part of the cultural storyboards that power today’s billion dollar comic films.

So this podcast that discusses his work, rather than the politics or quirks or controversy of Byrne the man, I find of great interest.

This 1st episode covers a classic three part story by Jim Shooter (writer), John Byrne(artist) and George Perez (cover artist).

For my money this is, in addition to visuals being borrowed liberally for for the 2nd Marvel Studios AVENGERS film, it is one of the  best Avengers stories.

I’ve sold most of my comics from yesteryear keeping only those that wowed me as a kid, and that still impress me as an adult, books that remain quintessentially the best examples of Superhero Blockbuster action. These 1970s AVENGERS books, 164, 165,166 remain the impetus and heart and idea space for what now 40 years later, have become multi-billion dollar cinematic mythologies… for new generations.

For my money nothing surpasses those three books, and it would be decades before Kurt Busiek in his wonderful 4 part Ultron Story-line in the  AVENGERS (vol III from 1999 – 19,20,21,22) wrote anything as iconic as those three Shooter/Byrne images.  The 90s Busiek/Perez run being very much a homage to those 70s  Shooter/Byrne issues. Shooter and Byrne telling in 3 perfect packed issues, what lesser creators would have ruined by trying to stretch to 4, 5, or 6 issues.

It is no mistake that those two disparate stories were mashed together to make the plot for AVENGERS II AGE OF ULTRON. A movie I liked quite a bit, it is a solid B/B+, but it is not as successful as the two story-lines that inspired it. Whereas the beauty of most of the Marvel Studios output is they are actually superior to the story-lines that inspired them; the movies written to be more sophisticated, and appeal to a very savvy adult audience. The first AVENGERS movie is better than the books that inspired it, as is the 3 CAPTAIN AMERICA movies,  as is the GUARDIAN OF THE GALAXY movies, and the IRON MAN movies (the first two Thor movies, not so much 🙂 ).

Jim Shooter was a boy genius who understood hyperbole and the dream of the mythic and heroic, and arguably there is no better example of that than in AVENGERS 164, 165, and 166. These issues are relatively still very affordable as 1st printings, and recently have been reprinted along with other essential issues in a very affordable collection.

 

You can get the issues here:

 

Avengers Epic Collection: The Final Threat

 

This collection is close to going out of print and covers issues #150 to #166, which is really the very best issues of the run. Pick them up at the link above while they are in stock.

Once you have read them, or if you have already read them, check out the podcast below. I disagree with them on some points but overall an interesting listen, and an interesting idea for a podcast. And I have to thank their podcast for spurring this blog post.

http://twotruefreaks.com/media/podcasts/byrne/rss.xml

 

 

AVENGERS : AGE OF ULTRON RealD 3D Review!

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Three years in the making, since the box office shattering and acclaimed first AVENGERS film, Joss Whedon’s hungrily awaited follow-up AVENGERS:AGE OF ULTRON has arrived.

So being a fan of the first film, I was happy to make it down to one of the better and newest theaters to see this film in RealD 3D. I’m not typically an advocate for 3D films, but 3D post processing on the Marvel Studio films has been very good.

So I plunked down the requisite coin and entered the theatrical showing of the AGE OF ULTRON, and quick thoughts? I quite enjoyed it. It wasn’t the masterwork that the first film was, but that was lightning in a bottle and very hard to recapture. This is a solid follow-up, with characters you’ve come to like, played ably by actors that have become household names, and a solid and inventive and witty script that hits all the requisite points.

World ending threats? Check. Cool Villains? Check. Astounding set pieces and fight scenes? Check. Witty repartee and good natured bickering? Check. Budding romance and Scarlett Johanson in skin-tight and fetching uniforms? Check and Check! 🙂 And moments of pathos and heroism? Check. And fun immersive 3D? Check.

All together Joss Whedon weaves together a 2+ hour blockbuster, a spectacle that is worthy of the big-screen, theatrical experience. That said it is not perfect. It lacks the immediate watchability and crowd pleasing nature of the first, oh it has its moments to be sure, but you’re not going to leave this AVENGERS movie immediately ready to see it again like its predecessor.

This film after one viewing you’re more than content to wait for it to hit Blu-Ray before watching it again. And I think on Blu-Ray it is a perfect format for really appreciating the immense work that goes into the battle scenes.

So all in all a worthy film to get you in the theaters. Grade: B+.