Movie Mondays #11 – Children of Men

As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. This week, I tackle IP’s #5 pick, Children of Men (2006, Cuarón)

I’m not going to lie,  the beginning of the aughts was not a good time for science fiction. By this time, The Matrix had already killed its good will with  overtly explanatory monologues by Col. Sanders in sequels, Tim Burton had butchered a classic Planet of the Apes remake by subbing in Mark Wahlberg for Charlton Heston, and for some reason we adapted an Isaac Asimov story starring Will Smith sporting Converse. There were a couple of bright spots but they seemed to fade quickly.

Then in 2006, like a lighting bolt, sci-fi returned. Without a doubt, the biggest release and Christmas present to viewers everywhere was Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men.  10 years from the release, the precise accuracy of the predicted  direction of the world makes it even better science fiction film and all the more important.

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DC: Rebirth – Week 18

Wow. I didn’t think this book was coming. Not that I wasn’t expecting a Trinity #1, but a DC superhero book that connects on a human level was a welcome surprise. These characters in capes and armor are manifestations of our fantasies, symbolic of the struggle between good and evil. But when written with care, they become as stirring a curiosity as the real people we encounter. Yes, I do like seeing Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman fight monsters and villains, but what an awesome feeling it is to feel like these characters have real humanity behind them. If universes collapsed, and people that were thought dead turned up alive, I’d expect someone to have some sort of existential crisis, but instead there’s been a lot of business as usual. To see DC’s big three sit down at a dinner table, to watch Bruce speak one way in front of everyone, yet wax sentimental in a moment with Clark, or seeing Wonder Woman confide in Lois because her sisters in Themyscira are lost to her –those are the kind of nuances that take these superhero books out of childish distractions and into the realm of thoughtful entertainment.

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Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary

star-trek-original-series-season-2This month, one of the world’s most beloved science fiction franchises is celebrating its 50th anniversary. On September 8th, 1966, NBC aired “The Man Trap” and audiences were introduced to Captain Kirk, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, and the rest of the crew on a five-year mission aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek was immediately popular, and, despite only three initial seasons, soon developed a cult following during the years of syndication, since evolving into a pillar of popular culture as well as the preeminent sci-fi saga of our era (sorry, Star Wars fans). In the five decades since Star Trek premiered, Roddenberry’s vision of our future has expanded into six television series (with a seventh forthcoming), thirteen feature films, and hundreds of novels, comic books, and games, as well as countless fan-driven celebrations ranging from conventions to stage plays and drag shows. There are plenty of ways to get in on the anniversary action. Here are five of the items on my to-do list.

flos_one_sheet_fm2_for-printingTake in a movie.  
J.J. Abrams and Justin Lin’s Star Trek: Beyond isn’t the only Trek movie in theaters this year (although it may be the only one worth springing for IMAX 3D). Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard Nimoy, started working with his father several years ago on a documentary that would explore the character for whom Leonard is universally recognized – the Enterprise’s first officer, Spock. When Leonard passed away last year, the film shifted focus slightly, and began to incorporate more biographical background on the man behind the pointy ears, including an incredible perspective on mid-century Hollywood. The resulting film, For the Love of Spock, is a touching tribute to Adam’s father, as well as a love letter from a planet of Trek fans to that most endearing of Roddenberry’s creations.
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Movie Mondays #10: 28 Days Later…

As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. As the Halloween season approaches it seems prudent to write about the horror films selected for our project, beginning with hltchk’s 3rd pick, 28 Days Later

28 Days Later does zombies right. They run, they scream, they vomit blood on the faces of the uninfected. Danny Boyle’s manic film brought zombie movies back from the dead. Boyle had just completed The Beach when he was presented with a story about “running zombies,” which must have seemed like a risky career move for the director, whose debut film, Trainspotting, was already considered a classic, and whose followups until then had been considered disappointments. Thankfully for fans of horror, zombies, and cinema in general, he decided to make this film.

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New Comics: Doom Patrol

One of the biggest heartbreaks of my time with comic books was the collapse of the Vertigo universe in 2010. There was something really special about that corner of DC where all the weirdos hung out. Anything could happen there in those books, but there was still that sense of history that DC prides itself on.  These stories were essential to my growing love of the medium. Needless to say, I was overjoyed when I learned DC was creating the Young Animal imprint to give a new home to my favorite miscreants.  Today marks the beginning of that line with Gerard Way, Nick Derington, and Tamra  Bonvillain’s Doom Patrol #1.  And oh boy, they do not let me down a bit.

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Hi-Fi Fifteen: There Stands the Glass

“There stands the glass…
That will ease all my pain
That will settle my brain
It’s my first one today.”

Those words floated into my head randomly one evening, probably as I was doing the dinner dishes, and I suddenly had the theme for this month’s Hi-Fi Fifteen. And although cleaning the crockery may have provided the initial inspiration, the theme has a special resonance for me, since I have a bit of a relationship with ol’ John Barleycorn, everyone’s favorite frien-emy.

Alcohol is the great social lubricant, and music goes hand in hand with our social interactions. Whether it’s a tear-in-the-beer weeper, or a good-time party anthem about pissing the night away, drinking songs have probably been around ever since the first time a caveman got buzzed on a fistful of fermented berries.

A few early, sneaky sips aside, I started drinking on my 21st birthday, and never looked back. A tumbler of something cold and potent within arm’s reach is one of life’s small delights. To quote Winston Churchill, I have taken more out of alcohol than it has taken out of me. It transforms me from an awkward, needy Jerry Lewis to a breezy, don’t-give-a-shit Dean Martin. It is vital in overcoming my natural aversion to human contact, and dammit, it just tastes good. Continue reading Hi-Fi Fifteen: There Stands the Glass

Movie Mondays #9: True Grit

As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. After a week off in observance of Labor Day, I return to shoot for holybeeofephesus’ 1st pick, True Grit.

Joel and Ethan Coen’s revisionist Western masterpiece was released only 6 years ago. It seems hard to imagine the 21st Century trend of Western revivals would have been able to continue if not for this film, a remake of the John Wayne starring vehicle of the same name released in 1969. The idea of the Coen Brothers remaking a film widely considered a classic was worrisome for many fans. The last film the brothers had attempted to remake resulted in their weakest film, the Tom Hanks starring dark comedy The Ladykillers, released in 2004. Fortunately for everyone True Grit far exceeds their prior effort in re-imaginings, even exceeding the original film upon which it is based. At the 83rd Academy Awards, True Grit was nominated for ten Oscars, taking home none by the end of the night, a somehow appropriate way for the story of this excellent film to end.

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All New All Different Marvel – Week 49

Somewhat overlooked amidst Marvel’s Civil War II blitz and impending Marvel NOW! initiative is the new Doctor Strange, emerging from Aaron and Bachalo’s recent arc as one of the most promising and exciting takes on the character in decades. Obviously we have the new movie to thank for Marvel’s attention, but this rejuvenated Sorcerer Supreme was long overdue regardless. This week’s Doctor Strange #11 serves as an interlude between last month’s conclusion to “The Last Days of Magic” and next month’s multi-title NOW launch. This is no mere filler issue, however, as Jason Aaron formerly introduces us to the new status quo in Marvel’s magical universe. And, in no uncertain terms, the “new face of magic.”

file_000-6Leonardo Romero provides the art for the present day sequences: a composed, almost minimal counterpoint to the frenetic, hyperactive aesthetic realized by Chris Bachalo, back before Strange & Co. fought off The Empirikul and pushed the reset button on our universe’s magical hard drive. Aaron, like Jonathan Hickman before him, is a Bond villain of the Marvel Universe, successfully razing the world in order to let it grow anew. Unlike Hickman, however, Aaron is still in the driver’s seat, and seems to have big plans for the good Doctor, along with all of his magical friends.

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New Comics: Witchfinder – City of the Dead

One of the more interesting characters in the expanded Hellboy universe is Sir Edward Grey, the occult adventurer who solves supernatural mysteries in Victorian England as Witchfinder, and buddies up with present-day Hellboy as a spooky ghost. City of the Dead #1 is the first issue in the fourth Witchfinder series (issue number 16 for the continuity purists) and, as with the prior stories, it focuses on Grey’s encounters with the paranormal and otherworldly in 19th century England. Chris Roberson joins mastermind Mike Mignola on the writing duties, while Ben Stenbeck, a veteran of B.P.R.D. and the first Witchfinder arc, returns to provide the art.

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Movie Mondays #8 – Inglourious Basterds

As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. This week, I tackle hltchk’s #1 pick, Inglourious Basterds (2009).

TarantinoWomen_Shoshanna

In our little collective there is something revered about Quentin Tarantino’s movies. When I first got into film, I remember listening to the HolyBee tell us how he and his friends dubbed the local Lyon’s restaurant they frequented “Jack Rabbit Slim’s” because of their love of Pulp Fiction. DJ Lazybear, too, was so deeply struck by Pulp Fiction that he went on (an extremely brief) hunger strike when it inevitably lost Best Picture to Forest Gump. I get wistful hearing these stories, a part of me romanticizes the 90’s when QT was just getting started, when the Old Guard of IT were young men watching the landscape of cinema get injected with buckets of fresh blood. I may have missed out on that, but I now have the privilege of living in  Los Angeles, home of Tarantino’s New Beverly Theater, where every Friday is “Boss Night” and one of his films play at midnight, which is how MeanOldPig and I got to rewatch Inglourious Basterds.

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