Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Playing Catch Up!

I talked about the up-coming move over on Parting Shots, so I won't bore you with that. On the other hand, I haven't posted here for a while so felt I should mention a few things so you didn't think I'd forgotten you all. :-)

I have hit one of those points where I think it is time to start cutting back on comics. This time though I'm not stopping completely as I did before, simply because it is always expensive, time-consuming and a royal pain to have to get all those back issues. I'm just going to be cutting down to probably less than a dozen titles, all of which I really enjoy. Naturally, that means that just about all DC & Marvel titles will be scratched. I think the 'events', which brought me back into collecting again, have finally driven me back out. Anybody interested in a really good price on issues of SECRET INVASION & BLACKEST NIGHT??

Once I have my list pared down I'll let you know what the final count will be and what I just can't live without. I can already tell you that USAGI YOJIMBO & THE WALKING DEAD are staying on my 'pull list' at Nuclear.

Finally saw the film QUARANTINE the other day, which I had recorded weeks ago. It was pretty good, despite being a bit predictable. You get the general idea from the trailer and if you have seen enough horror films there aren't many surprises they can pull on you. I understand that are working on a sequel to the film, moving the action to an airport terminal. Not sure how interested I would be, plus John Erick Dowdle (the director and one of the screenwriters) isn't involved in the second film. He is directing M. Night Shyamalan' DEVIL, which looks pretty creepy.

BBC America is rebroadcasting the Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant episodes of DOCTOR WHO in order. I've been recording and watching the ones I missed originally and several that I enjoyed the first time around. I can't wait for the next season with Matt Smith as the Doctor. Neil Gaiman is writing a story for the series and I can't wait to see what he has in store for the Time Lord & Amy.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Popcorn for One: INCEPTION

After seeing this film I want to publically apologize to Leonardo DiCaprio for laughing at his death scene at the end of TITANIC. Sure it was funny then and worth hitting rewind several times, but now I have to admit the guy is a damn good actor. Sorry, Leo!

INCEPTION is probably one of the best films I have seen this year. It might not have hit the emotional points that TOY STORY 3 did, but Christopher Nolan’s film is a solid piece of moviemaking. The guy who saved the BATMAN franchise demonstrates that he can do an action film with intelligence. Fans of Nolan’s two super-hero films may have forgotten that he was also the man who brought us INSOMNIA (with Robin Williams and Al Pacino) as well as the cult favorite MEMENTO, another film that dealt with memory. As with that early film, with INCEPTION we begin to learn things as characters move back in forth in time as well as in their dreams.

DiCaprio plays Cobb, a one-time architect who now uses technology to move into the dreams of others to steal secrets. In this case, he must do more than that. He must plant an idea (an inception) in the mind of the son of a business tycoon. In order to do this Cobb must enlist the aid of various individuals already familiar with entering dreams, plus find and train a new architect who can design the landscapes in which everything will happen. Going to his mentor, Miles (played nicely by Michael Caine), he is introduced to one of Miles’ new students Ariadne (Ellen Page). Initially, doubtful of the concept Cobb is able to persuade her to join the group. We learn that Cobb has some secrets he would rather not reveal to her until Ariadne realizes that he could endanger them all unless he confronts his own past.

The stunts and FX in the film are brilliant and believable, as they would have to be in a movie about dreams and dreamers. The cast is all quite good, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as Arthur, Cobb’s right-hand man) a standout. He is fine in the straight scenes and really does an excellent job in the action sequences as well. Hey, he was Cobra Commander, in G.I.JOE after all!

This is one of those films that lived up to the promise of the trailers. In fact, the best stunts and sequences are only hinted at in the ads. Some of the action scenes rivaled anything Nolan did in THE DARK KNIGHT, while one was right up there with anything you’d see in a James Bond film.

I highly recommend the film, but let me know what you think about the ending.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Con Viewing - NotLD: Reanimated & Alien vs. Ninja

I was able to catch a couple of films, along with the usual trailers at this past San Diego Comic-con. Both films have been shown at film festivals or limited screenings previously, plus both will soon have DVD release (if they have not already).

Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated I first heard of on either Facebook or Good Reads (in the Zombie group). It sounded interesting and adding them as a Facebook ‘friend’ got me more information. As some of you may know, George Romero lost the copyright on his initial film, due to the actions of the original distributor. Because of this the film has fallen into the public domain. This was unfortunate for Mr. Romero, but fortunate for some fans. In this case, artist/filmmaker, Mike Schneider has gathered dozens of artists (in different styles & media) to re-imagine the film. Using the original soundtrack, artists have used techniques ranging from stop-motion animation, computer & hand-drawn animation, sock puppets and live actors to reproduce the movie. Some scenes are redone using filters of sorts or the artists drawing over the original film. Still others have used the soundtrack but slightly diverged from what we remember in Romero’s film.

Naturally, most artists wanted to work with the more memorable scenes (the graveyard, the girl in the basement, the attempt to escape, etc.), so some artists were assigned to do sections consisting of mostly dialogue and minimal action. To be honest, not all the styles worked, at least for me, but I appreciate the time and effort that went into it. It was interesting hearing some of the artists, in a panel following the showing, discussing what and how they did their scenes, as well as talking about possible future projects. One, apparently in the works, involves Old Time Radio programs in the horror/suspense genre. As these were never filmed the artists will have even more freedom to re-imagine them.

If you’re a fan of Romero’s film (and don’t consider this a total blasphemy) I recommend you seek it out. It’s available via Netflix and you can also purchase the DVD directly from the website.

ALIEN vs. NINJA is exactly what the title implies and if you scroll down this blog you’ll see the trailer for the film that ran on YouTube. AvN (as it is called on the posters), takes place in feudal Japan during a war between rival warlords. Following an attack against an enemy stronghold a group of ninjas witnesses a fiery object falling from the sky and are shortly attacked by a creature that apparently survived the crash. Lots of wonderful martial-arts action and disgusting alien infestation takes place. The gore, like the fight scenes, is way over the top, so expect streams of blood, decapitations and ripped off body parts. In other words, everything I love in a film.

AvN is the first in a series of Japanese action/horror films to be released in the U.S. by FUNimation Entertainment, under the Sushi Typhoon label. If you are into anime you probably already know that Funimation is one of the larger distributors of that product in the country. All the films released are in the original Japanese, but with English subtitles. AvN, not to give anything away, actually has a joke involving several of the characters speaking English in one scene. The crowd at SDCC loved it. The showing on Friday night, included the appearance of three of the actors who appear in the film (Mika Hijii, the female ninja; Ben Hiura, the lead ninja; and the actor who wears the alien outfit, whose name I sadly cannot recall).

I love this stuff, but if you need your horror movies to be serious, I don’t think that Sushi Typhoon is what you are looking for. It’s possible that some of their future films won’t be quite so over the top, but from what I saw in the trailers for three other ST films, AvN fits in perfectly. No nudity, some implied sex and some profanity, plus the violence and gore I mentioned before. Check it out!