Monday, January 26, 2009

Who goes there?

I've found in recent years without particular aim or reason why, there's something near and dear to my heart about a few of the films of 1982. For the most part, those being STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, BLADE RUNNER, and JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING. Should I ever be faced with the trial of what two movies I'm allowed to take into exile with me I'd have no trouble explaining good reason why I'd want to bring BLADE RUNNER and THE THING. And anyone who cares to talk movies with me should expect one of these films to come up in conversation at least once. For the sake of sharing favorites and paying due to others worthy of note, 7 MEN FROM NOW, ALIEN, JAWS, PAT GARRETT & BILLY THE KID, BUCKAROO BANZAI, and THE PROFESSIONALS are just a few off the top of my head I'd strongly consider stowing away for my exile.

Obviously, the movie most easliy relatable while in exile would be THE THING. Anyone who's bothered to read this far doesn't need me to explain why. Given that eternal exile is the instance I'd have to make such dreaded choices, forever is a long time not to laugh and I must say there is not a more jovial spirit (with the exception of BUCKAROO BANZAI) in any of these films than in the commentary for JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING.

I've owned three copies of this film in the past 3 years, including my recent purchase of it on Blu-ray. Disappointingly enough, there is really nothing new on the Blu-ray release of the film. Except for the fact I never noticed that Dr. Copper Richard Dysart) wore a nose ring. You don't see it in the standard definition DVD, but it comes across loud and clear in 1080p.

All but the commentary had been exhausted on my standard def DVD, so with the "new" still fresh on my BD version, I had to indulge in the John Carpenter/Kurt Russell commentary track. I usually don't get around to an entire commentary track because most of the time whoever is gracing my time with such useless knowledge tends to do so with agonizing tedium in regards to things I don't really care about. In the case of Carpenter/Russell, however, I must say I found a most entertaining and informative commentary which is something hard to come by in terms of commentary tracks...as previously noted. The experience made Carpenter the uncle my mother thought was a bad influence, and Russell the big brother who's probably had too much fun in his past. It'd be impossible to try to recreate in blog format, but Carpenter talked about how the movie was made, stories, and its themes, in very non-chalant manner like he'd known me my whole life. And Russell joked and gasped with good-hearted laughter mostly at the expense of Wilford Brimley. Kurt, because I feel like we're on first name basis after sharing the commentary, shared several good laughs at many of the same scenes...such as, the Norris monster, Brimley losing it half-way through the movie, Brimley making a stink-face when they uncover the Thing from the Norwegian camp...and Donald Moffat's line, "He's gooone MacReady!" My second favorite line of the movie when the Norris monster/spider head walks off in the background and Palmer says, "You gotta be fucking kidding..." is Russell's proclaimed favorite line. Personally, it pales in comparison to MacReady's line after the Norwegian's helicopter blows up, "First goddamn week of winter." That line delivered with such blatant disgust absolutely sets the tone of the movie.

It's not a perfect film by any means, but I'd say an unspoken, underappreciated masterpiece in the Carpenter anthology. The film's strength is not in the mechanics of plot, but more in its overall effect of paranoia and isolation. Those themes combined with the Carpenter/Russell chemistry make THE THING perfect for exiled movie watchin'.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Papa Won't Leave You, Henry!

Moving and changing jobs will do a number on one's time devoted to a blog. It all started about a week after the Bob Dylan concert in Evansville when I began a long arduous process of interviews, physicals, and anxiety to begin a new job. Come Monday, November 3rd, I'll start work at Alcoa's Warrick Operations facility as a Communication Specialist contributing to its internal happenings and goings on. Today was my last day at 14 WFIE and without sounding too much like an after-school special, found the experience unexpectedly bittersweet.

Oh yeah...the moving part... I moved to Owensboro in preparation for my coming marriage in March ought-9. The new job is a bonus to the morning commute.

However despite all the life-altering activity I've managed to have a little fun in between the spaces... Believe it or not, I flew...on an airplane for the first time last month to Chicago with my Fiance to parttake of the rare event that is (my very favorite) Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds In Concert! September 29th, 2008...Riviera Theatre on Racine Drive...standing room only. How close was I?...

Taken by my lovely Finace, Andrea who was singled out by Mr. Cave in the song "Dig, Lazarus, Dig." "Little camera girl! Little camera girl! With the scarf in your hair!" he sang and pointed at her while she was taking pictures.


Video from frek64! I don't know frek64, I found it on YouTube.

Most of the songs were from Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!, the newest Nick Cave And Bad Seeds, album with a few standards sprinkled in. Here's a set-list:

01 Hold on to Yourself
02 Dig Lazarus Dig
03 Tupelo
04 Weeping Song
05 Red Right Hand
06 Midnight Man
07 God is in the House
08 Nobody's Baby Now
09 The Mercy seat
10 Deanna
11 Moonland
12 Get ready for love
13 We call upon the author
14 Papa Won't Leave You, Henry
15 More News From Nowhere

Encore
16 Jesus of the Moon
17 Hard on for Love
18 Stagger Lee

Probably the best 35 bones I ever spent on a concert. The real price we paid for was the wait and sore feet from standing right at the stage for a good hour and a half before the concert. We'd spent the entire day in Chicago...

















...and were flying back EARLY the next morning. It was a...true test of love and devotion to each other and quality entertainment.

Here are a few other choice pics for your envious pleasure...




Even if I weren't a Nick Cave fan, I could still be entertained by the enthusiasm and showmanship. Without a doubt one of the best concerts I've experienced.
While in downtown Chicago, visit Graham Crackers Comics for all your comic book needs. We actually stumbled upon it while walking to the Sears Tower.
Stay tuned for more posts in the near future as I attempt to get this thing back on track. I've finished the Bob Dylan studio canon and recently purchased The Films of Budd Boetticher box set.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oh Mercy!

I hadn't planned on seeing Bob Dylan at Mesker Ampitheatre this past weekend, simply because my concert fix had been accomodated by the rarities of Tom Waits and Nick Cave this summer. But when I got a message from my cousin at 8:00pm Sunday night saying she had an extra ticket I had no choice but to leave wet clothes in the washer to make it out in time to be four songs late...which, considering the seats, was good enough for me.

Aside from a rather rambunctious crowd, the show was damn good. No real surprises from the past three Dylan shows I've seen in as many years, other than I could understand maybe 12 more lyrics than in past shows. The outdoor venue afforded the music to be good and loud which I think could've attributed to being able to understand Bob clearer than before.

To stay caught up on all your Bob Dylan Bootleg Series, be sure to get your copy of Tell Tale Signs: Bootleg Series Volume 8, coming in October!

Here's the set list... Enjoy and be jealous!

1.Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (Bob on guitar)
2.It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Bob on keyboard)
3.I'll Be Your Baby Tonight (Bob on keyboard)
4.A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (Bob on keyboard)
5.Rollin' And Tumblin' (Bob on keyboard)
6.Not Dark Yet (Bob on keyboard)
7.Summer Days (Bob on keyboard)
8.I Believe In You (Bob on keyboard)
9.It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) (Bob on keyboard)
10.Beyond The Horizon (Bob on keyboard)
11.Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on keyboard)
12. Blind Willie McTell (Bob on keyboard)
13.I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)(Bob on keyboard)
14.Nettie Moore (Bob on keyboard)
15.Thunder On The Mountain (Bob on keyboard)

(encore)
16. Like A Rolling Stone (Bob on keyboard)
17. All Along The Watchtower (Bob on keyboard)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Holy Sequel!

It's as if Christopher Nolan took the genre of comic book movies and held it down to the ground and said, "By god, we're gonna do this right!" I was concerned that it might be too much crime drama and not enough comic book...and it's a close call, but the fine line is tread to near perfection. I can't say enough good things about it. Everyone I've talked to is going on about Heath Ledger's performance...yeah, it was damn good, but knowing what I know about Nolan's Batman universe (Batman Begins), Ledger's Joker is on the mark but nothing unexpected. And as the Joker should, he steals nearly every scene he's in and is more scary here than probably ever imagined; the next best thing is probably Alan Moore's Joker in The Killing Joke.

The Dark Knight is definitely where things were headed from the end of Batman Begins making for a perfect transistion. Nolan's Batman is by far my favorite because for the first time in any Batman movie, I actually care about Bruce Wayne. In previous Batman movies, it was always about waiting on the next Batman scene; Nolan humanzies Batman and Bruce Wayne's public persona is the mask here.

Nolan and company definitely topped themselves in this one, so much that I doubt another sequel would be on par or better. Perhaps the best next approach is to not at all and let the Nolan Batman franchise go out on top.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Apokolips Now!

I was recently watching Richard Lester's Three and Four Musketeers which both starred Oliver Reed as Athos. I'm a big fan of Oliver Reed. My introduction to him was in Ridley Scott's Gladiator, which was his final acting role before his death in 1999. I really enjoyed his performance in David Cronenberg's The Brood and I think it was then I really noticed his distinct appearance. He had a very bold looking face. It's been a couple of years since I last saw The Brood, and my recent viewing of The Three and Four Musketeers had me contemplating more about Oliver Reed. He falls into that long line of old British actors who would all be good fodder for Jedi Knights and Sith Lords. And there's nothing more diabolical than an antagonist with a British accent; I think it projects the apperance of being more sophisticated and knowledgeable despite the validity of the protagonist's aim. At any rate, given Oliver Reed's unique visage and diabolical British accent, and were he still alive...and if there was EVER the chance for a movie adaptation to be made of Jack Kirby's Fourth World, Oliver Reed would have been equipped to fulfill the role of Darkseid!


Thanks to Ted for the correction of my tense in the last sentence.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A World Without Rules

The Dark Knight gets 100% on Rotten Tomatoes! Geez...gaaahh... You think it's going to be a good flick?

HOWEVER...just playing devil's advocate, as good a story as the movie apparently weaves, could it be too realistic to really work as a comic book movie? Could it fall into the trappings of Batman Returns, where we're no longer watching a Batman movie, but a really good Christopher Nolan film? Superman II is said to be a favorite for it's "comic book" appeal but makes for a very flawed Richard Lester film. However, Superman The Movie could be considered superior, portraying a solid comic book movie with more realistic appeal than its successor; a nice balance of good filmmaking and comic book antics. The same argument could be made for Jon Favreau's Iron Man, Raimi's Spider-Man 2, and Singer's X-Men 2.

Either way, I'm sure we're in for a good show come July 18th because we know what Nolan is capable of from Batman Begins. But all origin stories tend to have the same tropes thus, sort of forcing the sequel to become the dealbreaker. I must admit to being skeptical to the hype and all the talk of it being less comic book and more crime drama. However, in the end, that's really what Batman is all about, isn't it? I suppose finding that even ground for Superman is more difficult as we have little real world parallel for an alien with superpowers. Batman's genesis and drive is grounded in very real experiences, so perhaps Nolan's interpretation of one of our comic book favorites is more a true representation of what Batman is. At the end of the day I think we all want to leave the theater jazzed about a good Batman vs. Joker movie regardless of hype and analysis.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Jaded

My good friend, and science fiction aficionado Jim Alexander turned me on to the short-lived Canadian produced series Charlie Jade, about a year ago. I can't begin to go into the vast amount of detail covered in said series, but if you consider yourself a fan of science fiction, then do yourself the favor of checking out this show.

Charlie Jade is a private investigator living in futuristic, Blade Runner-esque Alphaverse, and long story short, one day he's swept away to an alternate parallel universe known as Betaverse which we would know as our present reality. While here he discovers that there is yet another verse known as Gammaverse which is a more utopian, paradisian (not sure that's a word, but it sounds good?) universe compared to our own...and the only way to travel among the verses is via water!...and corporate entity Vexcorp has its sights set on controlling it. All Charlie wants is to get back to his girlfriend and normal life in Alphaverse, but gets caught up in something bigger than his own ambitions. That's the short version...anything more and I'll be giving away too much.

It takes a few episodes to get into it, and that could've been its stumblingblock as only one season was produced (and is currently available on the internet and on DVD in Japan and the UK). I've read on different websites that there was another season written but obviously there wasn't funding, interest, etc. available for production. If you're iPod or iTunes friendly, you can check out an interview with Charlie Jade producer, Robert Wertheimer on the Slice Of Sci-Fi podcast (and is also a pretty cool, geek podcast to listen to regularly, if you're into that sort of thing...if you're reading this blog, then you probably are).

Recently the single season of Charlie Jade was picked up by the Sci-Fi Channel and ran for about two weeks in a Friday night primetime slot. If you're a night owl, you can still check out Jade on Monday's at 3:00am. But act quickly, a schedule change of that magnitude probably means Jade's days are numbered. Or if you have an all region DVD player and don't mind the exchange rates, check out the DVD release in the UK.
I honestly can't say more about this show than I loved it from beginning to bittersweet end(bittersweet only because there's not a second season). Unlike most contemporary television, it was poignant and beautifully shot, written, acted... The characters have just that and there is one that steals every scene he's in. But, in the words of everyone's favorite childhood literature vector, LeVar Burton, "You don't have to take MY word for it."