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.

🙂

 

 

 

Currently Watching : DEAD SQUAD TEMPLE OF THE UNDEAD

DEAD SQUAD: TEMPLE OF THE UNDEAD

25 minutes in and the jury is out on this one. I find it intriguing despite the annoying nature of most of the characters. The annoying, brain dead westerner character is one I can definitely do without. The film so far has not been great, a bit too campy and annoying, but I find myself interested in where the film is going. Interested in the shape of the doom they are getting closer to. And the Antagonist equally wears out his welcome.

However the practical effects and makeup are impressive, and how badass one of the characters is around the 40 minute mark keeps me watching when I was ready to write this one off.

I do not like Zombie/Ghoul films as a rule, but this one is different enough (especially the head monster) and truly deranged and yes campy enough, that you just have to be impressed by the absurd weirdness of it.

It becomes far more intriguing than I was initially thinking. Definitely not for everyone but for fans of Peter Jackson’s early horror films like BAD TASTE and DEAD ALIVE, despite my early doubts, Dominik Hauser’s DEAD SQUAD (his debut film) by the end, becomes an absolutely tremendous and fitting homage and evolution of those campy horror classics.

Try it yourself courtesy of Amazon Prime streaming. It is unfortunate movies like this are not getting a DVD/Blu-ray release with Director’s commentary. That’s how B films like this traditionally have endured. Preserved by collectors and fans. In the ephemeral world of streaming,controlled by cold dollars and cents, films like this can disappear without a whisper.

VOD Streaming Watch 19 Jan- Currently Watching : THE HIVE on Amazon Prime

 

Called a cross between EVIL DEAD and MEMENTO, Director David Yarovesky’s 2014 Debut film earns its comparisons. Not in terms of plot, plot-wise it has nothing to do with either MEMENTO or EVIL DEAD, but the tone and beats, and film-making conceits recalls those two films… in a good way. Indeed perhaps a more apt comparison would be INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS meets the BLOB, but whatever the surface comparison, this film is very much its own thing, and earns a welcome spot amidst those aforementioned influences. For the most part a likeable cast, a talented director and a smart monster/antagonist, this film is well worth your time. B/B+.

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.

Three must watch Short Werewolf Horror Films! On VOD Now!

 

Delightful. Suitable for all ages.

Definitely not suitable for all ages, Pretty disturbing actually. But incredibly well done.

End of the Road (2015)

All three of these movies are great for different reasons. END OF THE ROAD skews closest to the traditional WEREWOLF film,and it pays off in a GREAT creature design, and just a pretty memorable and fantastic sequence. A must watch.

 

Check Vimeo, or Amazon Prime, or Youtube to view the above titles. Would love to hear your comments once you do.

TV Show Review : DAREDEVIL Seasons 1, 2, and 3!

cool-poster-art-for-daredevil-season-3-highlights-the-hero-and-villain1

The first season of DAREDEVIL, was and remains game changing , ground breaking TV. In terms of action choreography, and initial complexity of storyline, and some amazing performances.  It remains an astounding season of television, however it didn’t quite stick the landing.

There was something rushed and not quite satisfying in the ending. Something that did not quite live up to the AMAZING buildup.There was always a slight worm in the apple, and that was what was best and most enjoyable and most likable about the series, what was really brilliant about the series, was never the main three protagonists, the great acting of the series was done by the so-called villains such as Wilson Fisk, Alexandra, Wesley  and by the supporting characters such as Ben Urich and Stick.

What was annoying about season 1, was Karen Page, and she got increasingly more annoying, like nails on chalkboard through the season. Her remaining on the show, when two other astounding characters met violent ends, really for me weakened the show going forward. Also Matt Murdock, his maudlin approach, begins to wear thin at the end of 13 episodes.  But all those caveats aside, the strengths outweigh the failings of that first season. A solid A- of a season.

 

Fast forward to season 2 , which has a strong first half, but disintegrates in the 2nd half, Karen Page gets more annoying, Matt Murdock gets more whiny and maudlin, and Elektra storyline doesn’t do much for me. Karen Page playing girl reporter, just emphasizes everything I find annoying about that character, and how much the character of Ben Urich is missed.  Season 2 has its moments, largely due to the Punisher in the first half, but overall is strictly fast forward material through much of the 2nd half of season 2. This season is the definition of uneven, coming in at a C+/B-.

 

Daredevil Season 3 Review

 

The DEFENDERS series plays very much as DAREDEVIL Season 2.5. Because we get to minimize exposure to the weakest parts of season 2, namely Karen Page. Even though the Elektra/Black Star storyline is largely nonsensical and uneven (she can take blows from Power Man, but is affected by blows from Daredevil. Nonsensical.) the series moves at a fast clip, and seeing these actors together, enjoyable. Overall, inane ending excepted, a fun series. Grade: B+.

 

That brings us to the just finished third season of DAREDEVIL. It starts off intriguing, But quickly, particularly in the later episodes, drowns in all the unlikeable characters.

Karen Page is show stoppingly annoying every-time she is on the screen. Also three seasons of watching Matt Murdock suck all the joy out of everything, is just tiring. “Ooh, I have special powers, to make up for being blinded, I have friends, a good job, a great apartment… Oh I’m so angry!” what the hell does he have to be mad about all the time? 🙂

Just a joyless, depressing performance. And I am not saying it is badly acted, the actor is good, it is just he is written with nothing to do but complain all the time.

By comparison all the so-called villainous characters are far more interesting, to the point I was rooting though the later episodes for Fisk and the Mystery Villain 🙂 to take out Karen Page (Again, a fine actress, she is just written with nothing to do but eat the joy out of every scene. And what works in a few scant panels in a limited story, over three seasons… tires), and beat Matt Murdock.

I felt the ending was very unsatisfying.  Matt Murdock/Daredevil just comes across as much a psychotic as those he fights, and a hypocrite on top of it. And again the character flaws that work briefly in panels on a comic page, does not wear as well over three seasons. Add Karen Page to the mix, and you have a season 3 that I lose interest in whenever the three so-called leads are on camera. (To be fair, I quite liked the character of Foggy. He was the one thing that worked in that triangle.)

Overall a very dissatisfying wrap up to DAREDEVIL Season III. Karen Page survives, where yet more good characters die in her stead. I bought the first DAREDEVIL on BLURAY,  I bought the first LUKE CAGE on Bluray, and will be buying the 2nd season when it is available. I might buy the DEFENDERS, its flaws aside, overall it worked very well, and what IRON FIST couldn’t do in his own series (be good) he manages to pull off in the DEFENDERS and LUKE CAGE Season II.

With Luke Cage having been canceled, I don’t see anything to bring me back to the Netflix/Marvel Properties.  Not a fan of PUNISHER Season 1, Jessica Jones I fell off of, Iron Fist show was a train-wreck, and DAREDEVIL can not get out of its own way. Should a MOON KNIGHT show pop up, or a WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, I would definitely give those a look, but for now it appears the great Marvel/Netflix ship of success… has capsized.

 

DAREDEVIL Season 1 A-

DAREDEVIL Season 2 C+

DAREDEVIL Season 3 C+/B-

Overall Grade: B

 

 

 

 

Streaming VOD Channel Review -BLACK NEON- And a review on WOLF and the films of Robert Bresson!

So while I advocate always keeping things you LOVE in physical media, DVDs , Blurays, CDs, etc; the benefit of Streaming and Digital is that it is GREAT for exploring, and finding out what out there is worth having. Most things are not worth having or keeping. So Streaming is great for a try before you buy methodology, or simply finding new things to watch right now.

This installment, the channel that is up for review is…  BLACK NEON.

BLACK NEON  – first thing that strikes you about this channel, is unlike the hundreds of options of other channels, this one has a very limited number of movies. Many I have to confess to being unaware of or not having seen on other channels. Always a plus in my book.

To avoid the mishap of doing a lengthy listing of its titles, only to determine the actual streaming service is crap, or ad infested. I decide to pick a movie and test it out.

Wolf (2018)

My eyes gravitate to a film called WOLF, a thriller of some type seemingly, and without reading the description I just start the film. From frame one I’m captivated. And over sixteen minutes in and not a single ad.

I’m loving the movie and the channel so far.

BLACK NEON may be a home-run. I’ll update after finishing the movie and looking around a bit.

***UPDATE*****

Okay I just finished watching WOLF courtesy of the BLACK NEON channel. Do a search for new streaming movie channels to add and you will find BLACK NEON.

Wolf (2018)

They do not have much content, maybe a dozen movies.But it is worth getting the channel just to see WOLF. What an incredibly strange film. Very off kilter, and always has you on the edge and not knowing where it is going, which I find refreshing.

It is very Bressonian. Robert Bresson was a French director, little known, and unfortunately little remembered today, but he used most effectively and most notably the idea of the pregnant frame. An empty frame, and the emptiness, the waiting for it to be filled would create tension.  And while not a horror director, his films such as A MAN ESCAPED and PICKPOCKET (both absolute masterpieces) build incredible amounts of tension by using the empty frame, and our desire to have it filled.

It has been used by directors since, and is used here in WOLF to great effect.  It is a slow burn movie, and has a WTF turn, that you never quite recover from, and is never truly made clear. You leave the film arguably with as many questions as you came, the final meaning of the film, and of what actually happened left up to individual interpretation.

Wolf (2018)

That can be frustrating to some, however I really liked it. I loved it actually, the patience of the film, and its willingness to court confusion.

That does not always work for me, sometimes it is the sign of a lazy filmmaker. But I do not think that is the case here, the filmmaker and writer Michael Jones has crafted a compelling story and wanted to let it finish cooking in the mind of the viewer.

Love it or hate it, I do not think it is a film you will easily dismiss.I fall in the camp of being very impressed by this raw nerve, of a movie.  

WOLF (2016 Australian release/2018 VOD release)

A Michael Jones Film

Grade: B+.

Recommended! This is definitely a movie that deserves to be owned on DVD and/or Blu-Ray.