Blu-ray Must own Masterpiece of the Day : Criterion’s THE BALLAD OF GREGORIO CORTEZ (1982)

THE BALLAD OF GREGORIO CORTEZ – What first strikes you is the unique way the film is shot. By Director Robert M. Young (who also rewrote the script). There is a wonderful strangeness to its palette (starting with the striking choice of a lemon lime ocher sunset as opposed to the more often seen red one), and an originality to how it is shot, a lyricism that is at once somber and plaintiff and passing strange. Edward James Olmos, known for his taciturn performances, here gives his most emotive and impassioned channeling, as a family man, who one day at the hands of an alien and hostile law, has all sense leave his world.

A film about a rough miscarriage of justice in 1910, unfortunately remains sadly timely and prescient of the same type of miscarriages and abuses occurring, at the time of this writing, in 2020. The history we do not learn from we repeat. And it is not Latin history, or Anglo history, or Pan-African history, or Asian history, it is simply history.

The film could just as easily be called THE BALLAD OF KENNY WALKER. [ An active case as of this writing, Walker (the Boyfriend of Breonna Taylor), who tried to defend Ms. Taylor and their home, when  men, later identified as law enforcement; broke-in, opening fire, and shooting the naked Ms. Taylor eight times.]

The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982)

Film, the best of it, helps us internalize the missteps of history, and codifies a sense of morality, that urges us away from such similar follies. Never preachy, in simple strokes THE BALLAD OF GREGORIO CORTEZ tells us of outrages past, and if we be of human stuff, we may learn from it a better perspective of and answer to, outrages present.

Criterion has produced a simply must own Blu-ray release, sporting a not to be missed 2018 interview with Edward Janes Olmos, and adorned by the most striking and beautiful artwork/Blu-ray design; if you can own only a few Blu-rays, this Criterion release without a doubt should be among them. Grade: B+.

 

Get your copy here!

And if you found this post informative, and potentially even entertaining, please like, subscribe, share and support by using the links. Thanks and come back next installment for more! 🙂

 

Bluray DVD Physical Media Label Overview : TWILIGHT TIME – COWBOY Review

Today’s Review : COWBOY Blu-ray

Cowboy (Blu-ray)

COWBOY – Engrossing and entertaining Western starring Glenn Ford and Jack Lemmon. What makes this Twilight Time version worth picking up is the picture is well mastered,  great sleeve art, and the always excellent Julie Kirgo booklet/essay that comes with the Blu-ray. The one minus for me is the commentary with Julie Kirgo, Paul Seydor, and Nick Redman. Paul Seydor, has a tendency to plow over the other speakers.

I completely recognize he is a wealth of knowledge, but it is very annoying when someone is so impatient to get their voice heard. It makes for a frustrating commentary, especially when the speaker seems to be dismissive of a lot of what he is discussing, he is dismissive of Boetticher, dismissive of 3:10 TO YUMA (the remake). On top of that, I think his interpretations are just off, such as not recognizing a character was stealing someone’s boots, and arguing that the film made the cowboys look too grimy. Yes, men on the trail would be grimy, and they would stink. And over a hundred years ago, many of them would not take a bath for a very long time. For the commentator to call the film out for the Cowboys being ‘too’ grimy, seems unsound.

Again, nothing horrible in the commentary, but I tune in to the commentary for ‘informed’ opinions, from people who were there, or knew the people who were there. Uninformed opinions, un-researched opinions, do not make for a good commentary. I had to turn the commentary off a little more than an hour in, because I simply was not enjoying it.

I would have enjoyed this commentary a lot more, if it was just Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman. The bumpy commentary aside, a  rich film, and a great Blu-ray /physical media to own. GRADE: B. The film is a B+, but the disc loses a notch for that commentary.  Despite that, still a good addition to anyone’s library.

Get your copy here!

 

If you found this post fun, please like and subscribe, and purchase using the links. Thanks!

Stuck at Home? Currently Watching: HIGH MOON streaming on Roku via Amazon Prime Channel/App!

Stuck at home? Well here is a suggestion:

 

HIGH MOON aka HOWLERS(2019) – I like Westerns and I like Werewolf movies, so combine the two and I’m definitely the audience. Add to that this Josh Ridgeway directed flick is actually not the campy parody the title would suggest (HIGH NOON being one of my favorite Westerns).

Smartly written, also by Josh Ridgeway, with a nice mix of horror and wit, and excellently performed by a cast of solid actors, this movie is surprisingly good. Matthew Tomkins, who I have never seen give a bad performance, is his usual rock solid self, and the whole cast delivers. Chad Michael Collins is great as the primary protagonist, the time tossed Cowboy, Colt. Tom Zembrod, as his furry nemesis is the type of scenery chewing villain, that puts a smile on your face. Sean Patrick Flannery also keeps the film flying with his portrayal as a Mayor, quite a few steps beyond corrupt. And the ladies likewise, Chelsea Edmunson and April Hartman have roles of some complexity to dig into.

Add in good makeup effects, solid action, and characters you care about and you have a rip-roaring monster mashup. Man, did i have a lot of fun with this movie. A solid B+.

Howlers (2019)

Really glad I caught this courtesy of Amazon prime, and this one goes on my ‘to own’ list.

No Blu-ray at this time, but you can snag the DVD here!

Movie of the Day : GUNS AND GUTS (1974)

Las viboras cambian de piel (1974)

 

GUNS & GUTS (1974): I didn’t know what to expect with this 1974 Spaghetti western directed by Rene Cardona, but 8 minutes in and I am sold on it. I really enjoy the economy of its storytelling, as it almost wordlessly moves you from jail break, to vendetta hunt. What would be perceived as a weakness in most any film, the lack of any captivating stars as the protagonists (the two main protagonists are almost uniformally nondescript), here gives the film a terse veracity.

The sense that these would be the nondescript, amoral men who survive by the gun. There is something strangely unformulaic in following the adventures of men, who in other films would be the fleeting henchmen and antagonists. And there is a dry wit throughout.

And the film is not entirely without stars, Jorge Rivero had made a name for himself as something of a Mexican sex symbol, and in this film as the nameless Pistolero, a sophisticated, whore obsessed gambler and gunfighter, brings the charisma.

the film gets a little long in the tooth in its 2nd act, you could easily lose a good 20 minutes, but still not enough to derail it. it is no for a few dollars more or WILD BUNCH (which it slightly emulates, clearly cardona paying homage to the westerns of peckinpah and leonE), but overall a Compelling fun little film, with a sting in its tail. Grade : B-.

Currently Watching : TOMBSTONE TERRITORY courtesy of AMAZON PRIME Channel

TOMBSTONE TERRITORY.

I had never even heard of this show from 1957, until stumbling across it on Amazon Prime, this year in 2019. Now you would think there was no way a 62 year old series could impress.

You would be wrong.

Six episodes in and TOMBSTONE TERRITORY is pretty much better than anything currently on television. Just straight forward, riveting storytelling, performances and camera work.

It is so EFFING good! With shows like this and the RIFLEMAN you can see why WESTERNS back in the 1950s were King. They were then, and remain now, timeless examples of our grandest myths, and basest desires, the constant pull of chaos and order, writ large.

TOMBSTONE TERRITORY is that abandoned format of the 30 minute drama, done about as well as it can be done. I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the episodes.

Catch it courtesy of streaming/VOD, on better streaming devices everywhere.

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-.

 

My Favorite COMIC BOOK Youtube/Roku Channels of 2018!!! Starting off with AFTA COMICS, MERCENAUT and HERB TRIMPE!?!

COMICS

  • TheGO2 Geeks
  • Silver-Aged Dave
  • AFTA Comics
  • Regie Simmons IFBB Pro
  • DS Comics
  • Earl Grey
  • Comics with Bueller
  • Wallace Ryan
  • ComicTom 101
  • Pop Culture Philosophers
  • SleepyReader666
  • Professor Thorgi
  • Metarog
  • Chycho
  • ETA Nick
  • Nighttiger
  • Comichyjinx
  • LeeKirbyDitko
  • CurtisCamron
  • Farley’s Nerdcave
  • Rwheatley0206
  • Saddle City Comics
  • Forest City Coins and Comics
  • BargainHuntersThrift
  • Area 51
  • Arkham Comics las Vegas
  • Comic Buying
  • Tony Sanders
  • Tony Tothe
  • Tom Ryan
  • DrVonChilla
  • CaptainStrangeLife
  • Simon Comics
  • UltimateChance
  • Thugie1
  • Comic Book Ninja
  • ComicHero77
  • Comic News Network
  • Gotham Comics
  • HeroHunter81
  • Longshanks_78
  • Master X
  • Lord Tatman
  • Symphonic-Elk
  • Knights_of_Old
  • Jerno’s Comics
  • YicketyYackety
  • TJ Watson
  • WhatCulture
  • Wiebes TV
  • Windy City Comic
  • Yanni Gogolak
  • Islord 372
  • Batzman’s Classic Cars & Comics
  • Mercenaut

I will be speaking on all these channels in more detail, regarding why they made my 2018 best of List.

I am going to start with the last on this list MERCENAUT and work my way up.

https://www.youtube.com/user/mercenaut

Mercenaut is on this list, not for being a White Supremacist or Black Activist ( inside joke, watch his channel) but for a single show he did in 2018, where he showed off a copy of CAPTAIN BRITAIN #8. With that episode, this guy along with the Epic Marvel Podcast and Afta Comics, started my hunt and love for Herb Trimpe covers in 2018. The CAPTAIN BRITAIN mag sported a STUNNING Herb Trimpe cover which is shown below.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

 

Prior to that while i remember Herb Trimpe, I never really paid attention to how great of a cover artist he was. Between MERCENAUT’s showing, and the brilliant Trimpe Western cover’s that AFTA Comics showed, this year has very much been the year of collecting Herb Trimpe and Larry Leiber comics. Some of Trimpe ones I picked up this year are:

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

https://i2.wp.com/www.comicbookdb.com/graphics/comic_graphics/1/511/183423_20120804222034_large.jpg

 

As great as Trimpe’s Super Hero Covers are (With his work on the INCREDIBLE HULK being arguably his finest) his western work which I did not get exposed to until this year, I love even more. Just look how much storytelling he puts into those covers.

In an age where modern comic covers no longer tell a story, largely are just pinups having nothing to do with the content of the book, Herb Trimpe was able to tell a great story using just the cover.

Thank You Mercenaut, Afta Comics, and Epic MArvel Podcast for putting the late great Herb Trimpe on my radar!!

Okay quick rant on variant/multiple covers.

Darn you Variant Covers!!! You are diluting the medium. You can not have an ICONIC issue and multiple covers. Now again everything in moderation. A variant cover here or there is fine, but it has become the rule rather than the exception.

As a consumer, buy what you like. But as the publisher/producer of this content too much choice in a market can be as harming as too little, if it generates confusion, and stymies adoption by potential readers, in favor of courting speculators.

 

And that is just what is happening in the market place. In an effort to milk a diminishing audience, the mainstream publishers resort to the skankery of pimping multiple covers (yes I did just coin the word skankery 🙂 ) to the speculator segment, which harms the iconic nature of a work as much as alternative endings, to those of us who actually think books should be read.

To be iconic a thing must live memorable, in the shared consciousness and memory of the audience.

A memorable cover, or a memorable line, or a memorable poster, or a memorable ending. You think of Exorcist you think of a singular poster, You think of Casablanca you think of that ending, you think of Citizen Kane you think of that beginning, if you think of the original UNCANNY X-MEN 138, you think of the classic cover of Cyclops walking way from the X-MEN and toward the reader. And the background framed by all these beautiful UNCANNY X-MEN covers tinged in purple. For my money the single most beautiful and poignant X-men cover of all time, by John Bryne, another great artist,

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

That… for an image, or line, or scene, to stay memorable not just in your memory, but in the memory of a generation,… is to be iconic. People my age have a shorthand, a shared pop-culture language, that makes us part of a shared conversation.

Unfortunately people growing up on comics today, have no such singular, iconic cover or image to define a moment or a book. Because that one clear vision is muddied and diminished by multiple covers so the publisher can try and milk the speculator market, rather than serve the longer and more far reaching nature of creating something singular and memorable.

It’s the same way mainstream publishers are diluting their most popular characters with these shoddy imitations/iterations that only help to eradicate what was unique about the original character. You have now 15 variations of wolverine running around, Including one that is part Hulk, part Wolverine. Really? This is fan-fic, being done by the publishers, with no real consideration beyond milking the speculator market. They have strip-mined their own effectiveness as a sequential platform. 

That and the price point of Marvel and DC Comics is why I have stopped getting them in periodic format. There is no reason the mainstream publishers can not hold their price point at $2.50 or $2.99 cents, and make a profit and sell millions of copies at that price point.

The movies and video games have done the hard work of providing name recognition to the masses,the publishers inability to translate the billions these characters make in other mediums to even millions in the comic medium, comes down to mismanagement and an outdated vision/model from the comic publishers.

So these days if I need a monthly comic, I gravitate to the Independents. If I hear good things about a mainstream storyline, I pick it up in collected format or rent it from my library.

And if I really yearn for the days of great iconic covers, in mainstream comics, well thankfully there are always great Herb Trimpe comics to pick up in back issues!

Thanks for reading, feel free to leave your comments or send emails! I will be covering other channels in upcoming updates.

Excelsior!!!

 

 

 

COMICCON that I am most looking forward to in 2019—TERRIFICON!

I think I mentioned in an earlier blog that I went to TERRIFICON in Connecticut this year, 2018, and absolutely loved it.

But I am not sure I adequately conveyed why, or why I see this convention becoming the only state-side comic book themed convention I see myself paying to attend, going forward.

TerrifiCon CT's Terrific Comic Con at the Mohegan Sun produced by Mitch Hallock and Big Fedora Marketing LLC

Most cons are a ludicrous hard-sell to anyone who is not a fan of that con. You stand around in long, moronic, snaking lines, to get into an overstuffed hall with too many people jostling or bumping or waiting in more lines that impede traffic. The panels are moronic, the hot guests uninteresting, and the deals… not there.

What helps sell TERRIFICON is the location. Now unless you are a guest or wealthy, staying at the casino is probably not what you want to do. But there are quite a few affordable and nice places to stay within a short drive.

We made a little vacation out of it. Close to Mystic Connecticut and New London Connecticut, areas I had not been before, we made a couple of days of touring the area before ever getting to the con. And you know what… the area is great. There is a bit of a learning curve, but once you get in the swing of it the area is beautiful and made for boat rides, and strolling through the picturesque neighborhoods and shops, and trying the wonderful food.

And then by the actual day of the convention we had already had a great and full fledged vacation.

 

The convention was a surprising and welcome capper to it. For a variety of reasons. The actual location itself, the Mohegan Sun Casino is simply massive, so you never feel (even with thousands of people) crushed, or swamped, or impeded, or over-whelmed. The distance between booths and space between aisles allows tons of space to maneuver and enjoy. Add to that it is exceptionally well laid out, with great panels, great guests, informative hosts, great shopping options… and did I mention it is in a world class casino.

That means instead of the overpriced awful food and drink options you have to endure at other conventions, here you can walk over to Bobby Flay’s restaurants and sample just stupendous food. And there were tons of other great restaurant and shopping options.

It is the holy grail of comiccon locations.

And getting back on the panels. With guests that interested me, Roy Thomas, Larry Hama, Christopher Priest, and the list goes on, the panels that felt enlightening rather than trivial; trivial being generally what panels are at most other shows. I really have no interest in getting anything signed or photo ops, but great deals, great panels, great stories, great vibe, and access to great food make it a no-brainer of a draw for comic and non-comic fans.

Having been to comic book conventions from New York to Philly to Awesomecon in Dc, those are venues that don’t really do much for me, but Mitch Hallock’s TERRIFICON, I guess because he is a fan like me, and came up on the same Bronze age goodness, he is putting on a convention for himself, and thereby all the other adults of his age, so it can still offer the kids and families their anime goodness and gaming goodness, but has the sort of experience we Bronze, Silver, and Golden Age fans appreciate.

Having been to Terrificon this year, I do not see myself going back to New York Comiccon, or Awesomecon, or any of those. Those cons are oft geared to selling the new hot thing, and these days I’m more geared to want to see the proven talent.

I see myself making a yearly pilgrimage to the gracious New England area and making a fantastic weekend of it, most of which has nothing to do with comics, but having that convention at the center of it, It’s a win-win for me and the Mrs.

As long as Mitch Hallock puts on TERRIFICON I see myself being a returning attendee.

One suggestion Mitch, if you see this, try an get Larry Lieber for next year’s TERRIFICON.

I have been singing his praises since hearing his interviews on the MARVEL EPIC Podcast. While everyone remembers Kirby’s run on RAWHIDE KID, for my money the Larry Lieber written and drawn work on that series, is western comics at its best. Tutored by both his brother Stan Lee and original Artist Jack kirby, Larry became a perfect amalgram of these two men, becoming both a compelling writer and a great artist, and that shows best in his (unfortunately unreprinted) multi-year run on RAWHIDE KID. I recommend back issue diving and picking up RAWHIDE KID from issue 42 to issue 120. It is as great a run of consecutive comics done by ONE person as you will see. Nearly eighty consecutive books both written and drawn by Larry Lieber between 1964 and 1974. Ten years and a stunning body of work, by a true unheralded workhorse of the medium.

http://epicmarvelpodcast.com/

Go to the above link and listen to the Lieber episodes and you’ll be singing his praises too.

p.s. And if looking for a great panel moderator, I don’t think Kurtis of EPIC MARVEL PODCAST would mind if I suggest him. His show speaks volumes for his love of the medium.

 

 

Well if you found my recommendation of either TERRIFICCON or EPIC MARVEL PODCAST or the criminally overlooked work of Larry Lieber helpful, show your support by using the link below to check out today’s book of the day. Purchasing using the below link gets you a great book and earns this blog a few pennies to keep the lights on.

Here is a nice selection of Stan, Jack, and Larry monster comics:

https://amzn.to/2TYGIwg

If you can only afford to get five Larry Liber RAWHIDE KID comics, then get these five:

https://amzn.to/2PcwTae

https://amzn.to/2Q1yXHr

https://amzn.to/2DSTXZz

https://amzn.to/2Pbmg7x

https://amzn.to/2KME4FK

 

Thanks for viewing!

Best Western COMIC BOOK Covers! LONE RANGER! Gold Key Series!

 

 

Buy your copies here:

https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=192141&AffID=200301P01

 

The first 20 issues of the 1964 GOLD KEY Lone Ranger series reprints select issues of the early, largely unavailable, long running Dell series (1948-1962). Including the magnificent covers. The last eight issues of the GOLD KEY series sports new stories and art, but unfortunately lack the great Dell covers. Still well worth the hunting down.