Friday, July 30, 2010

The Losers #2: Double Down

This series has yet to really grab me. The characters aren't nearly complex or interesting enough and I'm often feeling like I don't quite understand what's going on. I picked up the whole series, so I'll probably stick it through but unless I really find something I can latch onto in the next book or so I can't imagine keeping this series on my shelf. I'm also curious to see the film, so I want to read through this first. Please get more interesting. Please!!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

1380 - Inception

This is the kind of film that makes you remember what it was like to watch films as a kid, where anything was possible and the world was a magical place. We've gotten to a place in cinema where, if you can think it, you can make it happen. And Nolan is one of the great minds of cinema. Lesser filmmakers would have made this film to do "cool shit" in the dream sequences, but in this film anytime Nolan does something like that there's always a reason that's motivated by story, character, or emotion. And damnit does it ever work.
For a film with as many complex layers as this, I found it quite easy to following and entertaining as well. The nerd in me liked the science and the idea, the filmmaker in me loved the execution, and the romantic in me was connected to the characters and their struggle.
I don't want to say any more in fear of ruining anything. But this, this is a fantastic film and you owe it to yourself to see it - in the theatre if you can.

Revolting Youth: The Further Journals of Nick Twisp

I read the original book of this series sometime last year and just recently watched the attempt at making a film of it. I think that even trying to turn this series into a film is an exercise in failure. I think, however, that you could probably get a really good television series out of it.
I flew through this book. Like the first one, it's written in journal form. I find that I read books with shorter chapters much quicker, probably because it tricks me into reading more.
CD Payne is a master of language and also setups and payoffs, and there are some wonderfully funny ones in here. Although he leaves some things dangling, I suspect for further books, my biggest gripe is that I think some of the characters sound a little too alike. Although we are getting this tale told through a somewhat narcissistic narrator, so that could be the cause for that. Payne also does a masterful job of capturing the depraved mind of the adolescent man and it's a treat to reveal in a character who does all the things you'd like to. Years ago I got excited by writing about a boy who was good at heart, but had to do horrible things in order to 'do the right thing'. Having read these two books I can't imagine there is any need. I think there are two or three more books left in this series. I look forward to checking them out.

Monday, July 26, 2010

1379 - Iron Man 2

When I started writing up this blog again the first entry was actually the last Iron Man, so I really wanted to make sure that I saw this one in the theatre. It's only been the last few years that I've gotten into comics, and not really the super-mainstream stuff, so I never knew a whole hell of a lot about Iron Man, but I really enjoyed the first film. It had a real sense of fun to it. Downey was born for this role and it feels really good and interesting on him. I was entertained the entire time, but I don't think I was ever really blown away by anything here, from characters, to story elements, fights, etc... it was all just... enjoyable, but at the same time I don't feel like I'll ever need to re-watch these films, even though I'll always make sure to see them. I guess my biggest critique of this is that it kind of feels a bit like it's all just one big set-up to The Avengers. I'll be happy to see a third Iron Man without them feeling the need to use the film to intro new characters. If you liked the first film there's absolutely no reason to not see this.

1378 - Breaking Bad: season one

We came late to this series (now in it's fourth season), but we're fully on board. Huzzah! This show really is as good as everyone says it is and we're looking forward to delving into the other available seasons. I love how well they integrate the science into the show and yet keep it grounded in our real world. The set-up and premise to this show is really fantastic and the cast is stellar. They have so much room to play within this world - I'm really excited about where they're going to go with it. So much good summer television on right now with Mad Men starting back up, Entourage and True Blood already in full swing, and new Weeds on its way... oh baby!

Friday, July 23, 2010

1377 - Date Night

I liked the premise of this film as soon as I'd heard it. Simple. Fun. Had an Adventures in Babysitting sort of vibe to it. I always thought that Steve Carrell and Tina Fey should team up together, so their pairing got me extra excited. I went into this film just wanting it to be fun and give me some laughs, and it did it's job. There is a set piece in the middle involving a high end car with a taxi that is pretty fantastic. The film is littered with really lovely cameos from some great actors that I adore, including the lovely Mr. Mark Ruffalo, Whalberg, and James Franco. I think that there was some pretty realistic issues in terms of couples that are together long term, and how do you keep it going - and I bought that these two had gotten into friend zone a little too deep. I don't think, however, that they got too far over that by the end. I think they could have gone a little further with the before and after picture of their relationship.
All in all I think it's a fun little film, and I think Fey and Carrell should do more films together (and if you're their agent, give me a shout 'cause I've got a great one for them...)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

1376 - Youth in Revolt

After having read the novel I learned of the film and wondered how the hell they were going to do it justice. So here's the high points. Michael Cera gets a lot of flack for playing a similar kind of role over and over, and whether or not that's true, I enjoy watching him. In fact, I think he took great strides in this film, especially in his supporting role of Francios. There is a lot to like about him here. And Portia Doubleday (despite not being what I had in mind for the role) is a hell of a young actress and I'm sure we'll see a lot more of her. The film has an assload of great actors in supporting roles including Steve Bushemi and one of my favorites, Justin Long.
Obviously they've cut A LOT out to make it fit into the length of a film, and I understand and accept that. In fact, I think the major flaw in this film is that they felt like they had to be too faithful to a lot of the key set pieces, etc... And because of this there is so much going on, the film moves at an extremely fast pace to make sure we hit all the scenes, however it doesn't leave us room for the fantastic characters to really shine, or for us to latch onto them. When I read the book I felt a pit in my stomach each and every time Nick has a near miss with Sheeni, here... it just happened. And I think that comes from cramming in too much still. I would have been fine if they made the film about him trying to get kicked out of his mother's house and just stretched that story out as best they could.
I have a hard time recommending this film, despite my love for the book. If anything this film has inspired me to read the next volume in the series, which I have sitting on my desk. All right. It's going in my bag right... now.


I picked this book up on a whim the other day while at the Beguiling for the Scott Pilgrim event. I discovered Hope Larson through her husband Bryan Lee O'Malley's work and given how this is set out east (I have a particular fondness for eastern Canada) I picked it up. Quite different from her husbands work, but you can sort of see how they might influence one another.
It's a sweet, somewhat haunting story, that juxtaposes two stories separated by about 150 years. I'm curious as to what inspired Hope to write this book, perhaps living in Nova Scotia for a while and hearing some old stories from the area. I think I wanted a slightly strong sense of what was going on internally with the characters, I felt a bit more detached than I thought I would - like I was experiencing the story rather than being brought into it. Not that it's a bad thing.
I'm looking forward to diving into Hope's other work to get a greater sense of her. I have a feeling that I'm going to like what I find.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

1375 - Get Him to the Greek

I was a really big fan of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and I was tracking this film as soon as it was announced. Russell Brand and Jonah Hill are a special kind of magic on screen together, and I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't see them reunited again some time in the future. This film made me laugh out loud and that's not something that happens all that often. Maybe I was just in the mood for something fun, and I definitely got it.
I have no idea who writes the songs for this film, but I need to look it up (and probably buy the album) there is a brilliance to the euphemisms in here. One of the most amazing parts of this film, and something that I really wasn't expecting was Aaron's relationship with Daphne, played by the really lovely and amazing Elizabeth Moss. I saw my own relationship inside of that one and I instantly grounded to their relationship. So maybe that helped me love the film that much more.
If you like Sarah Marshall, I think you're going to dig this. It's just plain fun.

Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour

And so it ends. For a lot of geeks you won't be picking up your copy until the shops open up today, but for you uber-geeks in Toronto, you were at the Beguiling last night lined up for the midnight release. It was pretty spectacular. When they had the final Harry Potter party years ago my wife and I went to check it out, and of course it was bigger than this, but for an indie comic that's set in Toronto, it was pretty awesome-insane. I'm curious to know how many people were there, but easily there were over a thousand. Although I'm not very good with judging the size of a crowd.
So on the way home I dived into it, passed out, then read the rest on the way into work this morning. I'm going to do my best not to give anything away, but the one warning I will give with this book is that it's something completely different. Despite being the longest book in the series, I think it has the least amount of story (not saying that as a bad thing), the pages instead are filled up with the most action that we've seen in the entire series. This also isn't about a bunch of friends hanging out like we've seen in the past issues, and although I really missed that aspect of it, this is our hero's journey, and Scott has to take this last leg alone. Pretty much every supporting character gets their moment (except Lisa... but I understand why), and the series ends on a really nice and simple note. It's not easy to change, but you have to at least try.
On the back of the book there is a quote from Joss Whedon:
Scott Pilgrim is the best book ever. It is the chronicle of our time. With Kung Fu, so yeah: perfect.
This is a series that blends fantastic comedy with some real, never cliched emotions. Despite things being to the extreme - you know these characters, you know their problems. Yes, there are battles and outrageous things and it's a little bit silly, and you could even argue some holes in the narrative, but this is a book that speaks to a generation. I wanted it to be longer, I wanted to spend more time with these characters - but that's because I'm selfish.

The world awaits what you do next Mr. Bryan Lee O'Malley, but do yourself a favor and take some time off first. Enjoy yourself, you've earned it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Sandman Vol 7: Brief Lives

Definitely a return to form. This book has a tone unlike any other. It has moments that are wonderfully morbid, and then suddenly we're thrust with something so comically mundane. Gaiman is a master of floating around tone and make something uniquely his own. And watching Dream go on a road trip with Delirium (sadly, formerly Delight) is one of this series' high points. The quest is to look for one of the Endless (Destruction) who abandoned the family some three hundred years ago. And it signals, I believe, the beginning to the end of this series in a way. At the very least it sets in motion the idea that the Endless may not just be as important in the scheme of things that they've always been lead to believe. I'll be taking a break from this series to enjoy the final Scott Pilgim (party tonight!!!) but then I think I'm going to try and finish the series before my trip to the UK (in which I think I'm going to try and read The Walking Dead finally...).
Gaiman says that you can read these books in any order, and I'm sure that he's right, but I think if you can swing it, read them in order.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

1374 - Visioneers

Let me start off by saying I absolutely love Judy Greer. It would make me an extremely happy person to be able to work with her one day. I think Zach Galifianakis is enjoyable as well, and I think neither are utilized here with their strengths. I hate saying it, but this film is just a bit pretentious. It's, essentially, about a man who has the wife, kid, house, job, but is unhappy with all of it... and we're never given a reason why. I think it's meant to represent that everyone is unhappy... but... that's not true. I really had a hard time not drifting in and out of this. I really really wanted to like this film, but I just couldn't. I'm sorry Drake brothers! I know you were trying to make a satire, but I think you missed the mark. I look forward to what you do next 'cause I think you guys definitely have something to say as storytellers, here it was just a little heavy handed.
Love that Judy Greer. Love her.

1373 - The Great Buck Howard

I've got a soft spot for magic, and the trailer for this intrigued me when I saw it a while back. I like Colin Hanks, and I've got a crush on Emily Blunt, to it wasn't hard to stick this one into the DVD player - not to mention the power of Malkovich. I enjoyed it enough. I think it used V.O. as a bit of a crutch. It was a fun light film for a Sunday evening.

The Sandman Vol 5: A Game of You

I always feel a little exhausted after reading Sandman. And for good reason. It's dense. It's full of ideas and it's relentless in it's execution of them. There is a bit at the end of this where one of the characters comes to this realization that most people probably have thousands of worlds inside of them, and that's definitely true for Neil Gaiman. Even when this series is taking place on earth it still feels like it's unique to the characters specific to that world. I love the little connectors that he does, linking Foxglove back to Judy who was in the… first book… perhaps the second. And this book delves deep into fantasy more than the others.

I wouldn't say that this is the weakest in the series so far, but coming off of the last one, it didn't grab me as much. I enjoyed it, and there was some interesting things going on including a horrific dream sequence involving two babies…

Read it because it's part of the series, but it didn't knock my socks off.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

1372 - All The Real Girls

This is probably one of the most uniquely honest films about young love, about the idea of thinking that someone else can save you, putting that kind of responsibility onto them. It's not fair. The only person that can save yourself, in a relationship or not, is yourself. Zooey was amazing here. I went from falling in absolute love with her, to her making me feel ill, to coming back around to her again - and I was convinced that there was no way in hell that I was going to come back to adoring her. But she pulled it off in spades. I've had this relationship, and some of it is eerily familiar. So kudos for making me feel like I was in this.

It's simply shot, and it feels real. Paul Schneider is a force here as a womanizer who wants to be a better person, and who desperately needs to get a taste of his own medicine. I want to see 'George Washington' now. This film is pretty non-traditional. One could call it slow, but I just think that it takes it's time and it builds well. It's not in a rush and that's why it works the way it does. It doesn't supply easy answers and that's not the point. If you like honest, brutal love stories - this one is probably right up your alley.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Sandman Vol 4: Season of Mists

Finally got back into reading this series. And now that I've finished this particular volume I can start reading the spin-off series Lucifer. I really really loved this volume. We start off treated to a family reunion of the endless, and are then propelled into, probably, the most interesting Sandman story to date. Lucifer has decided to leave Hell, so he kicks everyone else, locks the door and hands Sandman the key to do with as he wishes. But first we get a really awesome tour of hell - I'll say little because the details of the tour and the ideology that comes out of it are a lot of fun.
In the middle of this really intriguing story of Dream trying to figure out whom to give Hell to, we get this side story that gives us a glimpse of the ramifications of Lucifer kicking everyone out of Hell. The dead, many of them, come back to earth, and for a young boy stuck at boarding school, it'll change the course of his life forever.
Okay. Stopping there before I ruin it all. I like this series more and more with each volume. It's a dense book, but it's worth it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

1371 - The Strangers

I must have zipped this film back when Ryan and I first started writing our horror comedy Nubile Teen Revenge Squad (no, I'm not joking - that's the title, bitches!). This is the kind of psychological horror that taps into primal stuff. Everyone has been home alone, heard a noise and then checked every room in the house. Following our break in I know I kept thinking, 'What if we were home?'... but it just an exercise in making yourself insane...
So from an exercise in tension and patience, bringing the audience to the edge of their seat and then pulling back, there is a lot to like here. There's a lot "don't do this, don't do that" moments - it's manipulative, but that's why you watch something like that. I guess the thing that bothers me the most about films of this type are just the nihilism of it. Killers killing for no good reason. I know that makes it creepier and scarier, but alas...
Not a film I ever need to see again, but I would recommend it under the right circumstances. Definitely some style things to be taken from this flick.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TUWOPS - Accepted to Calgary International Film Fest!

Huzzah! Our first invitation to a Canadian film festival! We've still got a lot more to hear back from but this excites me greatly, and I look forward to making the trek out to Calgary. Here's hoping they offer to fly us out. That would help a lot with our as-of-yet non-existant travel budget. So I'd like to thank the programmers for the invitation. We'll announce screening dates when we know them - the festival runs from Sept 24th to Oct 3rd. And this is what they had to say about the film in their invitation:
I wanted to thank you for submitting The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard to our festival. It's really a funny, thoughtful and well-made film, and I'm glad to have had the chance to see it.
Thanks again Calgary! We look forward to screening with you!

1370 - Predators

I don't think I ever saw the original film, if I did it was on television, heavily edited. I don't recall much that's for sure. Not that you need to have seen it for this film to make sense - trust me - they have no problem getting the exposition you need across :)
So because this is a film that's light on plot, heavy on set pieces - I won't ruin any for you. What I'll say is this - Adrian Brody is surprisingly good as an action hero. There's a twist at the end that feels tacked on for no good reason, but overall, it's a pretty enjoyable enough ride.
Left to my own devices I can't imagine I'd ever chose to see this film, so I thank my good pal Stew for dragging me out to it!

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Universe

I. Love. This. Book. Seriously - I remember the first time I read it, sitting quietly in my chair afterwards, realizing that I'd just had my socks blown off. There is this slight shift in tone in this book. Scott is growing up, he's getting his shit together, and suddenly it's not just the external forces of the evil ex-boyfriends that he has to worry about, but the internal problems that arise with any relationship where you've been with someone long enough for the sheen to wear off, and then you're face to face with the real, actual person.
Without ruining anything, this volume is heartbreaking and beautiful amidst the usual goofiness and hilarity. I can't believe I've waited as long as I have for the final volume. One more week.

One more week...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together

This is a series that gets better with each volume, and it's enjoyment doesn't dwindle on re-reads, in fact, it increases. I'm really enjoying going through these again and finding myself surprised at how much I either missed, or just forgot about. In this volume there is another awesome Gideon moment that I blanked on during the first read. What's great about this volume is that I really really fell in love with Ramona here, just as Scott does. It's a pretty magical thing that O'Malley does here with that relationship. I'm really excited to read the next volume again and then I have to wait pretty much an entire week for the final volume. And then... I guess there's the film... I'm excited enough to see it - but more excited for the final book! Bring it on!!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

1369 - Fanboys

I think any movie geek of a certain age has a recollection of their expectations and anticipations for The Phantom Menace. So this is ripe for a good film story. And it almost has one. The idea that one of their gang isn't going to live long enough to see the film is a really good motivator for them to break into the Skywalker Ranch to steal a print of the film. But when you bring The Big C into a film, you've gotta deal with it - at least a bit. The guy who is, apparently months away from death, looks fine, acts fine, you wouldn't know there is anything wrong with him. And this bugs the shit out of me. I'm not saying go super heavy with it, but do it or don't, you know?
I enjoyed the film, I did - it was fun - but I felt like their obstacles could have been a lot bigger. A little better. I wanted to get the feeling like this might not actually happen for them. As always, I loved Jay Baruchel, and even cast in a role that's stereotypical to his appearance, he shines. Seth Rogen has a fun double role in here that I won't spoil, but what I'm really happy about this is how much I love Kristen Bell the more that I see her. She reminded me of a lot of old girlfriends in this - geeky, cute, feisty. As you're supposed to, I absolutely loved her here.

So it's not a great film by any means, but it's enjoyable enough to check out if you're a Star Wars fan, and especially if, like I did, put any effort into trying to see Phantom Menace on opening night.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness

I really am just breezing through the re-read of these books. I love this volume a lot. We really get an extra layer to Scott in the backstory to his relationship with Envy Adams, and I really like what's going on with Knives here. It would have been soooo easy to make that character something far weaker or less interesting. So kudos for not doing that.
I really do just love these characters, this world, how meta it can get at some points. It's refreshing, and done with lesser skill, would probably be annoying.
One thing I never realized before was that Gideon appears a few times in this book. Glad I picked up on that. Love that there's extra things to find buried in the re-reads.
I might take a few days break before reading the last two. I also have a bonus comic that was done... I think between the fourth and fifth books... I'll read it at some point in this process. I've also got more Sandman to read now too, so I'll want to give into that at some point.
Again, if you haven't read this yet - you're missing out.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

I forgot how quick of a read these books are. I probably could have held off a few days prior to re-reading.
This book just continues along with the excellence, and what I like about this is that it starts a situation in which it's not all one sided. It's not all about Scott having to deal with Ramona's exes, her her having to deal with his as well. She has to be worthy of him also. This isn't the strongest book of the series, but it's still super fantastic. It's just really setting up a lot of different things. The ex-boyfriend fight scene in this book is pretty anticlimatic, so I hope that the film version does it better justice. Bryan Lee O'Malley deserves a spot on Canada's Walk of Fame for this series alone. I'm very interested to see what he follows this all up with.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

1368 - Please Give

Finally I renewed my membership at The Fox down in the Beaches. There's a handful of other films I want to see this month so it was completely worth it. For a kid who grew up in a small town and had to drive at least forty minutes to see a regular movie, and up to several hours to see anything independent or foreign I love that I now live within walking distance of a place like The Fox.
So, to the movie. I love Nicole Holofcener. I recently had to submit something with a list of influences and she was one of them. She has this amazing skill of capturing people and creating natural scenes that create this wonderful organic performances - of which the film is filled with. Oliver Platt is wonderful, as always. Catherine Keener appears to be Holofcener's version of the every woman and is the most consistent thing about her films. I can't complain. Never seen a Keener performance I didn't like. Ann Morgan Guilbert steals every scene she's in as the cratchety grandmother, but the person who surprised me the most was Amanda Peet. I've liked Peet for a long time, but I really was amazed by this performance - part of it is the writing for sure. I mean, I know this character and this person - right down to the over use of lipgloss and the fake tan. I think she pulled her off lovely and made her real as well.
I don't think this got a huge release, which is a shame. But it's the perfect film to snuggle up and watch at home. Please check it out of you get a chance!

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life

I still remember the first time I read this first book. I think I just sat there in awe as the pages just flew by. And then I quickly read the rest (book four had just come out at that point). So I wasn't first on the scene when Pilgrim arrived, but I was a passionate middle-grounder. This book is just full of stuff for geeks, but above that, it's full of great characters, they all feel really and fleshed out. The comic timing and pacing is really something to marvel at. And one of my favourite things about it is that it makes no bones about taking place in Toronto, and that's inspirational. I know a lot of writers in this city, and they often set their stories in American cities. And that makes me sad. But I won't get into that because that is a HUGE rant from me that really has more to do with the state of our film industry more than anything else.
Another thing that I love about this book, and the series as a whole, is how it makes me want to be part of their world, which is a big plus for the book given that Scott is often destitute.
I'm re-reading this series to gear up for Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour, the sixth and final book. I forgot how quickly these can be read. But what I loved about this reading of it is I really started to look for things, for clues to things that, still haven't been revealed. There's an interesting thing that happens to Ramona at the end of this book when Gideon's name is mentioned that makes me excited to see how it all goes down. I have a hunch how this series is going to end - and knowing that the film is apparently supposed to have a different ending, I can't imagine either the comic or the film to not have the ending in my head. I kind of hope it doesn't.
I'm really glad I decided to re-read these. They're really really great. Pick it up, and not just because the film is on it's way - pick it up because it's awesome.

1367 - W

First off, I was blown away to see that it was Thandi Newton in this film. She's practically unrecognizable. The performances in this film are what makes it worth watching. The scenes with Josh Brolin and the wonderful Elizabeth Banks humanize these characters in a way that makes them almost endearing. The film was enjoyable enough, but it just felt like a series of scenes and moments - the only real tie being his relationship with his father, and living under his shadow. It's an odd film to want to make for Stone. Can't say I highly recommend it, but if you're interested, there's enough there to keep you watching it.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Losers #1: Ante Up

I picked this entire series up on a whim last year when I'd read a really great review about the series and I was feeling particularly thrifty whilst comic shopping. I felt a little 'meh' going into it, but it ended very strong and makes me excited to read the rest of the series. There was a twist in here that I found tad forced, but I'll let it slide. Overall the writing is fun, and the characters enjoyable. I haven't seen the film and probably won't bother until I'm finished reading. I'm going to take a little break before I read the rest of the series as I want to re-read Scott Pilgrim leading up to the release of the final book!

1366 - The Hurt Locker

I missed this in the theatres, and I can only imagine how much if a richer experience it is on the big screen. This is a film that puts you right in it. Where Bigelow puts her cameras, the intensity that she brings in. This is a film about adrenaline and addiction to it, to the pressure - and she makes you feel that consistently throughout the film. It's draining in a really good way. Each sequence builds onto the last. It feels personal and yet detached. Surreal and yet hyperreal. It's the Platoon of our generation and I'm ashamed to say I wasn't aware of Bigelow until this film. I'm very curious to check out her commentary on this at some point.
I'm not a guy who digs on war films, but this is something worth checking out. It's intense, and sad, and heart breaking.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter

I've never read the Stark books, but this makes me want to. Not knowing the source material, this adaptation is fucking exhilarating. You start off not sure about the character but by the end you're rooting him on as he kicks ass and takes names. I've been on a noir kick ever since the adrenaline rush that is Brubaker got me back into it. It could be my own affection for the genre, but I just can't imagine anyone who doesn't like noir a little bit, the stylized dialogue, the strong characters. Men being men, and broads being broads. I'd be very surprised if I didn't try and tackle the genre myself one day. I read somewhere that Darwyn Cooke intends to produce four of these in total - so I look forward to the second 'The Outfit' which is scheduled to come out in October. Can't wait.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Criminal: The Sinners

Ed Brubaker isn't a good writer. He's a great writer. He's the kind of writer you sit and read and are just in awe of. The kind of writer who makes you think you're wasting your time even trying to be in the same profession that he's in. And when he writes Criminal, he's flawless.
I love this series. It actually very well may be my favourite comic series, and I know that if I ever try to tackle the noir genre, this is going to be my first reference.
It's hard to tell if Brubaker is wrapping the series up with this instalment or if it's just another part of the world - a lot of shit goes down here, and if this is how it ends - it's not a bad way to go out. It's full of all the stuff we've come to expect from this series and noir in general, and it outdoes our expectations. If you have a sense of the rules of noir, you know how things are going to go down sooner or later, but what the great noir writers know is that it's the telling of the tale, that makes it all worth while.
I love this book about as much as anyone can love a book. Once I get through my stack I'm going to revisit this series. It's just so goddamn good.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

1365 - Our Hero: season one

Thank the heavens for television on DVD. Seriously. And first off, if you ever see this Cara, I apologize for the photo I picked - it's the best I could find in the www.
Emily has mentioned this show before, and when I worked with Cara's brother Andrew Pifko on a short years ago (see the side panel "Hoff's New Direction") she was excited by the connection. I don't actually know Cara although I'd love to work with her one day, especially after having seen her in this.
Here is a series that is smart, funny, inventive, and has a heart to it. In terms of half-hour teenage shows, I can't think of one that even comes close to this one. It's sad to me that it only lasted two seasons, and I can't wait to watch the rest of the episodes. In truth, I really need to watch more Canadian series in general. We do some pretty good shit on this side of the border.
I don't want to say to much besides that this show is lovely - and I found the entire series in a bin in Zellers for under $5 - so if you're an old fan that wants to revisit, or someone who just likes good television, I can't imagine getting more bang for your buck.

Jack of Fables #7: The New Adventures of Jack & Jack

I have absolutely no idea what this book was trying to be. It's a hallway for sure. The last cross-over book figured in the ending of the major story-arc that had been going on since the beginning of this spin-off series, and so this is kind of a reboot/new beginning kind of thing, and... I don't know. The Jack Horner story is... lame... and they spend far more time on Jack Frost in a story that's - okay. I like the idea of now having to see Horner grow up and be a father-figure, but they don't seem to be interested in that just yet.
I'm intrigued to see what they do in the next book based on where they left this one off - but I have to say, if it doesn't set something really interesting in motion they may lose me as a reader.
I always pitch this series to my friend as this - if Fables is the hour long HBO/Showcase show, than this is the half-hour brother.
Step it up Mr. Willingham, I know you've got it in you.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

1364 - The Invention of Lying

Like most geeks, I'm a fan of Gervais, in particular his series work for the BBC. And when I first heard the premise of this film it was one of those moments a lot of writers get when they get really pissed off that they didn't come up with this premise themselves. It's pretty simple, really - which makes it all that more awesome.
I had a hard time getting into this film. The tone felt... off. The narration didn't work to me and felt a tad bit like a 'fix'. I found it a bit odd that, in an addition to always telling the truth that people were suddenly unable to keep any thoughts to themselves. I realize that most of the comedy comes from that, but I'm sure there could have been a way to make it work a little more organically.
As the film went on the barrage of cameos felt like it was getting to be a bit too much and instead of relaxing into the flow of the story, I kept getting pulled out - and for the most part, they don't add much to it.
I enjoyed this film enough, but I don't quite think Gervais has quite perfected this medium just yet. But don't worry. He will. I look forward to his Cemetary Junction.
Despite any negativity above, the film is definitely worth watching, there's a lot of smart and funny things going on - the ultimate is when we realize that the beginning of lying is also the beginning of religion. Very fun stuff, Mr. Gervais. If I have to nitpick though...

Why is it that the majority of the romantic arc is spent questioning why Garner's character can't get over her shallow behaviour and admit to herself that she loves Gervais, and yet absolutely no time is spent on why Gervais loves her, besides the obvious shallow reasons. Found that to be a missed opportunity and a bit of a contradiction.

1363 - Toy Story 3

There is literally no other place that makes films like Pixar. And I'm not just talking about the quality, but in the process in which these films are crafted. I can't imagine what a life altering opportunity it would be to work with and learn from these people.
There is so much I want to write here but I don't want to give anything away. One thing that I found surprising is that I think this is far more suited to adults than children. My wife mentioned that she thinks it's a little too dark, and I think she's probably right. Sensitive kids will probably get pretty upset with some of the happenings here. But for me, I loved the shit out of this film. With the exception of one little logic question I had, it's pretty much a flawless film. I laughed often and out loud and I cried. Big time. In fact, I probably stopped myself from crying a lot more. I'm man enough to admit it, this film got to me in a really good way.
This film puts a stamp on this series as one of the best trilogies of all time - I can't imagine how they'd follow this one up, or why they would need to. It feels like a pretty perfect note for it to actually go out on. I look forward to picking up the series (I only have the original on VHS) and showing them to my son when he's old enough.
Love it.
Oh. Um. We saw it in 3D and I really didn't get the "big-whoop". So, if it costs more to see it that way, I don't know if it's worth it. But see it in any way that you can!

Friday, July 02, 2010

1362 - CJ7

I was well on my way to loving this film - and there are a lot of things that I do love about it, but for a reason which I'll mention in a spoiler below, I have to knock it back a few pegs.
But first - a love fest - Stephen Chow is amazing when it comes to playful action. Some of the stuff in his films feels like it comes out of old Warner Brother's cartoons with their slapstick ways. This film has a fairytale quality to it, almost like a post-modern E.T. There is a great sequence near the beginning that gets turned on it's head that I think all will enjoy. I don't want to ruin anything about it. Keep in mind that when and if you do see this film that Dicky is actually played by a female. It'll amaze you.
Now, you ask yourselves, is this a movie for children. My answer, below in the spoilers...

Towards the end of this film there is a sequence in which tragedy strikes and something horrible happens to our hero's father. It was done extremely well, to the point where I found myself crying. Since having become a father I'm a sucker for shit like this, where kids are forced to deal with hardship like this - all I could do was picture my own son having to go through this and it broke my heart.
And then, the magical character in the film - fixes it (not without their own wonderful sacrifice). So now my problem isn't with the child not having to lose their father, my problem is that it doesn't seem like Chow is taking into consideration is those children who see this film, who have lost parents. It's just not fair to them - they don't have a CJ7 to bring them back. And that bothers me a lot. Kids are smart, they can deal with big emotions, just don't start going there and then pull back.

So all in all, if you're a Chow fan, check this out for sure. I can't give a super-strong recommend because of the issues mentioned in the spoiler, but I will say this - no one makes a film like Chow (except perhaps Tex Avery.

1361 - Up in the Air

When I saw this in the theatre I remember sitting there a bit in awe as the credits began to roll. I had no idea what to expect, and I was just really really happy with the journey I'd just been on, and I was really surprised, in the following weeks, to see how split people were on this film. And I think it comes down to this - it's a film about a lifestyle choice, and depending on your views on solidarity Vs. family, etc... I think it effects you differently, and rightfully so. I think it's so interesting that a lot of people leave this film thinking that Ryan is the same person he was at the beginning. I think it's in a way subtle, but I personally think he's gone through an amazing change. He'll never be the same for better or worse. Reitman does an interesting thing in his films and it's been consistent throughout - he makes films about questionable heroes, and he pairs them up with lovely people, and then, just when you start to wonder how much you like the hero, he does a shift, and the lovely person is revealed to be, in some way, morally bankrupt. *SPOILER ALERT*, in "Thank You For Smoking" it's Katie Holmes, in "Juno" it's Jason Bateman, and here... well I won't say, despite the spoiler alert, 'cause if you've seen the film you know the slap-in-the-face I'm talking about.
I still really enjoy this film, and wait in anticipation to see what's next for Jason Reitman.