For many people my age, Spider-Man, Batman, and the X-Men, are their definite heroes. I can only translate that to the popularity of each of their animated shows. For the past few years, I haven’t really been keeping up with the ol’ webhead. While I have enjoyed parts of Dan Slott’s years-long Spider-Man run (Superior Spider-Man was excellent), overall, I haven’t found it clicking with me. I’ve always liked the low-stakes drama of Peter’s social life/job while dealing with street-level villains, so Slott’s corporate Parker and his globetrotting adventures hasn’t been my thing.
Enter Chip Zdarsky.
For years, I only knew Chip as that really funny guy on Twitter that all the comic creators I followed interacted with. Eventually, I realized that he is a hilarious writer and fantastic artist (If you haven’t seen his saga with Applebees, check it out). In recent years though, Chip has had a comic outpouring in great books like Jughead, Howard the Duck, and the still running Star-Lord. The sense of humor and surprising amount of pathos in his books had gotten me terribly excited for his Spider-Man run. All the hype I built up in my head did not prove to be too much as I loved every second of this book.
As a kid, Batman was always someone I enjoyed more on his own. I never really got the appeal of a Robin. I didn’t like the New Adventures of Batman and Robin as much I did the original animated series. It never really clicked for me until Grant Morrison had Dick Grayson (the original Robin) become Batman in order to fill the shoes of a supposedly dead Bruce Wayne.
From there, I learned that I really liked Dick (going to be said at least once) because he was everything that Bruce wasn’t. He was a circus kid, one who grew up loving the danger and being able to laugh in its face. He wants to believe the best of people. The tragedy that created Dick wasn’t one that would haunt him like Bruce; he would use it to inspire hope not fear.
This sense of hope and fun amidst the Bat-books is part of the reason why Nightwing by Tim Seeley, Javier Fernández, and Chris Sotomayor is so great. Writer Tim Seeley understands the character and was half of the writing team on Dick’s previous book Grayson. While that book was more of the 60’s spy book, this one is firmly rooted in Dick cementing his role in the Bat-family. It’s an examination of everything that makes Dick Grayson so damn special.
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 goodwill 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 an even better science fiction film and all the more important.
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.
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 GWC’s #4 pick, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love (2002).
Paul Thomas Anderson is my favorite living and active filmmaker so I was overjoyed to see two of his films make the Ultimate Playbill. His themes of broken people trying to find a place through a makeshift, damaged family always speak to me. It also made my day that Punch Drunk Love, one of his lesser talked about films made the cut.
By 2002, PTA was one of the hottest new voices in film. With Boogie Nights (1997) and Magnolia (1999) under his belt, the film world was at his feet. And as the strongest new director to come out of Hollywood in a very long time, Anderson really could have done whatever he wanted. Instead he chose to make a film that many people at the time considered a misstep: an Adam Sandler movie.
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 holybeeofephesus’s #3 pick, Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002).
I’m not going to lie, I was a bit mad and disappointed when Gangs of New York ended up on our favorite movies of the last fifteen years. Martin Scorsese’s tale of of historical revenge set in Five Points of Manhattan was not a favorite of mine. The story is simple enough: In 1846, the Five Points was a gang laden part of New York. People claiming to be Nativist (American born people of British descent) are led by William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), a man hell bent on keeping control over and away from freshly immigrated people. His main rival is Priest Vallon ( Liam Neeson) and his gang the Dead Rabbits, comprised of newly immigrated Irish Catholics. Bill manages to kill Vallon and subdue the war but not before Vallon’s son Amsterdam witness the act and manages to flee. 16 years later, Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio) returns and infiltrates Bill’s Nativist gang in the hopes of killing him for revenge.
The last time I saw it was in 2002 and besides Daniel Day-Lewis, I was feeling very let down by what I watched. I didn’t know what to make of it besides it being a giant mess ending with a horrible attempt by U2 at winning an Oscar. Scorsese was (and still is) a cornerstone of what makes me a cinephile, so I felt very strongly in my opinion that Scorsese made a misstep with the film. Because I hardly ever heard it spoken in film circles in the past 14 years since it was released, I felt validated with my assessment of the film. It lay forgotten in my mind until it was included in the draft, and I was forced to question my opinion of Scorsese’s huge movie.
The beauty of the Ultimate Playbill is that it has given me a reason to reevaluate my past conceptions of films, loved or hated. Rewatches have been all over the map but for some reason I felt excited to rewatch Gangs. I am glad I gave it another chance because while I still have a lot of problems with the film, the final product is something truly cinematic. To understand the film, It is necessary to provide some context to the production and lengths Scorsese and team went to get the film exactly how they wanted.
Hayao Miyazaki is without a doubt one of my favorite filmmakers. I can prattle on and on about his movies but I’ve always liked some more than others. For me he had two movies that I liked but just referred to them as his “delightful” movies. They were great to look at and I had fun watching them but I didn’t find much to unpack after viewing.
One of the two was Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) but I recently had the chance to see it in a theater (in 35mm no less!) I was just going, because, honestly, I could see it for free and I love seeing actual film in a theater. But it knocked me on my ass. It touched me more than I ever thought it could.
A little background on me: last time I watched this movie I was still in high school and living at home. While the idea of striking out on my own like Kiki does at age 13 seemed very cool to me, I just thought the whole film was a pleasant A to B story without much else happening. Flash forward almost a decade later and I am in the huge new city of Los Angeles struggling to figure out my life.
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 djlazybear’s #3 pick, Inside Llewyn Davis (2013).
Defining yourself is no easy task. One often finds themselves during a course of hardship in their life and uses the experience to paint a much clearer picture of their ideal self. The Coen Brothers have made it their mission with their films to shatter this idea and show people trapped in their cyclical natures.
With Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coen Brothers made their cruelest film showcasing this point. While some may argue for No Country for Old Men (2007), that film actually ended on a note that people still have a fire in them. Inside Llewyn Davis has none of that and remains a ton more relatable than No Country to the average person caught up in the same cycle.
Using the early 1960’s New York – Greenwich Village folk scene as a springboard, the Coens leap into the frustrating tale of Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) and his inability to break through musically, financially, and through his own depression.
Playlist By Committee is a subdivision of the Institute of Idle Time dedicated to the preservation of the mixtape format. Each month, four governing members and one guest contributor choose a theme and each pick five songs that best correspond to that theme. The songs are then reviewed and ranked by the committee, with the the top songs being added until an 80 minute blank CD is filled. The list is then published via Mixcloud for the listening pleasure of all who seek it. This is our 4th playlist.
Idle Timers are a group of people who value escapism, it’s part of the reason we all came together (okay, and to assert our opinions). While the earliest PBC lists were about individual artists/bands, we quickly moved onto themes. While different from one another, they always had a quality of music that took you somewhere be it a cave or a drug induced coma.
With our guest this month, GWC decided to pick one theme that reached into the whimsy side of IT. Those songs that have such an otherworldly feel, that you can’t held but be transported to another world. So here we have an assortment of various songs that will take us all over the places all over our mind. We’ll start with a little psychedelic explosion before cruising over to an electronic dreamscape and finally ending in the haunting world of your mind. We hope you can stay with us the entire flight.
To me, the Vision is the character I would get stuck playing as in the Captain America and the Avengers arcade game even though I wanted to be Hawkeye (I never forgave you Jeff; you just wanted to spite me). I always kind of held that against him and never found myself interested in him. His villain “father” Ultron was always the most interesting aspect of the character. Hell, I didn’t even think he was interesting in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Other than that, he was just that robot that was famous for crying. Those low expectations proved to be a blessing for Vision.
The story is simple enough: the Vision has decided to create a family for himself and move them out to the suburbs of Virginia right outside Washington D.C., while he acts as the Avengers liaison to the White House. His new wife Virginia struggles with bringing her family together while brother/sister twins Vin and Viv deal with high school. On paper, that sounds like a relatively bland and tired story of a hero trying to manage the stress of home life with the duties of being a superhero. Thankfully, Vision is not that story. It is a horror/morality tale about isolation while struggling with one’s own depression and anxiety. Continue reading The Best of All New All Different Marvel #1: Vision→