Sunday, July 21, 2013

Conan: Queen of the Black Coast

The thirteenth trade in the Dark Horse series. This one sees a bit of a departure from everything we've read prior.

First off, all the content creators for volume thirteen are different from volume twelve. I wasn't super stoked on twelve (if I recall), so this wouldn't have been a big issue had they all be replaced with superlative artists. But it's a bit hit and miss. The text is fine. But the story makes Conan seem a lot more vulnerable than he's ever been depicted. Very out of character to me at times. And a bit disjointed in its narrative.

Since when does Conan worry about dying? When does his life actually lay in the hands of another? Fuck that, Conan is always king of his own destiny. He doesn't give a fuck and no one can save Conan cuz Conan can decapitate anyone and everyone within arms reach. He'll do it with his bare hands. So, plotwise I thought it was a touch weird and more feminine than we're used to seeing.

Speaking of which, Conan wasn't drawn as the über-muscular northron we're used to seeing. He was depicted with a more pedestrian body. That's not to say he wasn't ripped, but he wasn't Conan ripped. I believe this story breaks from the timeline that the Nemidian Chronicles had established and it appears that it's a younger Conan. Maybe that's why.

There's been no foreword / introduction in the last three books. They switched some details around on book eleven. The spine is different and the content is a bit paired down. What started off as a ridiculously strong series for me, has been slowly losing its magic touch. I'm still gonna buy it faithfully, but I hope the pendulum swings back in favor of the Conan we were introduced to in the first half dozen books. The real Conan.

This is totally bizarre and I'd return the book if I hadn't bought it on Amazon and couldn't be bothered, but one of the signatures in the book was inserted upside down! All of a sudden I'm reading the book and the pages are flipped. So I have to turn the book and read 8 or 16 pages, then return to where I left off and continue right side up. So weird.

Conan rules.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Kill Bill Vol. 1

Another flick I hadn't seen since it's release. I got the disc from Netflix and revisited it to see if I still held the same opinion.

I liked it better the second time around, but I still feel it's easily the weakest Tarantino film by a long shot. I consider most of his films bordering on masterpieces, with two or three of them easily holding that lofty classification. But to me, Kill Bill is bottom of the list. Now, being the bottom of a list of masterpieces is still fucking good though!

And Kill Bill is good. It's just missing something. I don't know what. I don't think the dialogue is up to Quentin's typically high bar. It's just not as compelling. Casting isn't as good, either.

But anyway, I did like it more this time than I did upon its release. I'll be getting Vol. 2 in the mail next week so we'll see how that stacks up. If I recall, that was better than the first one.

Sonny Chiba steals the show for me. His banter with the other guy in the restaurant is good stuff.

The 5, 6, 7, 8's rule:

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Panther Baby

I just read this in 24 hours. You don't have much of a choice when you've blown your knee out and literally can't get off the couch.

Marie told me about this book a while back. I think she heard an interview with the author on NPR or something. I added it to my Amazon Wishlist and I picked it up for my birthday. Appropriately it was a giftcard from Marie that funded the book.

Panther Baby is by Jamal Joseph. It's an autobiography that focuses exclusively on Jamal's life as a Black Panther and in turn how that shaped his life. That's the angle.

Whether you're for or against the Panthers is irrelevant. This is obviously a quick, easy and enjoyable read. Got nothing to do on a Sunday? You can read all 280 odd pages no bother. Jamal weaves a good tale. It's well-paced. It's fast when it needs to be, yet slow and contemplative when the need arises. Jamal goes from being a fifteen year old virgin to a twenty-nine year old ex-con, ex-militant, ex-druggie. As well as an activist, poet, writer, counselor...

Jamal's led a pretty intense life and he tells it quite humbly, to be honest. I never got a feeling he was bragging about his deeds. He seemed pretty grounded after all he's been through.

I'd recommend you read this, my brothers and sisters of the revolution.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

the Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh

I pulled this DVD of the shelf today. A giallo from 1970 starring Edwige Fenech. Look her up and thank me later.

I bought this years ago in NYC and watched it once. I'm not really into old school Italian horror but this is more of thriller/slasher giallo than all out paranormal horror deal. It's about hot women, a slasher, and money. That's all you need to know about the plot.

The film looks like you're viewing early 70's Italy through the lens of Russ Meyer. It's a place where all the women are gorgeous, the styling is brilliant, and the aforementioned women are always more than eager to get naked at parties. And giggle. It's a place where men can just be sleazy and women are totally okay with that. But maybe that's not so much Russ Meyer and more...Italy.

The editing is crap, camerawork is uninspired, sound isn't synced well, the effects are shit. There's no real redeeming artistic qualities to this film. But it's still enjoyable. It is what it is. Sergio Martino wasn't going to win any awards for this...but...he did cast Edwige Fenech in the main role, and for that we are forever indebted to the man.

The plot is pretty good. I'll give it that. Although the ending is a bit Scooby-Do with its exposition dialogue. But whatever. The trailer is above and the whole movie is below (it's in Italian, but you can scrub it to the "good" parts if you're a perv).

It's good.


Edwige isn't the only hottie in this flick. She rolls with other bombshells.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

Here's a DVD that I hadn't watched since I bought it at Borders ten years ago.

I had forgotten the whole thing except one gruesome scene at the end, so it was like watching a new film for me. I loved it.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is the first of the Vengeance Trilogy by Chan Wook Park. This came out in 2002, followed by OldBoy in 2003 and Lady Vengeance in 2005. The movies are connect thematically, but not by plot of character.

One of the main things I noticed about Sympathy...were the camera angles and overall cinematography. Chan Wook Park shot almost everything with a still camera. Lots of deep staging, very little tracking or steady-cam work. Lots of wide angles and deep focus. I liked the approach. It made everything feel very deliberate and majestic. The audio was really important, too. I feel like this film was all about ambient soundscapes. The protagonist is deaf and dumb so a lot of the "dialogue" is ambient sound.

I'm sure you've seen OldBoy. People have been talking about a Hollywood remake since it first made it to America ten years ago. I'm sure it'll happen sooner or later. I feel that OldBoy is the best of the three films, but the other two are well worth seeking out. They're all fantastic.

I've literally never seen a Korean film that I haven't liked. They have a slower, meditative quality to them than Japanese flicks, for instance. Chan Wook Park is brilliant. I also think Ki-duk Kim is amazing and recommend anything you can see by either director. Bong jun ho is nothing to sneeze at, either. I feel like Korean cinema strikes a really good balance between Chinese and Japanese storytelling.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is not unlike OldBoy. It's brutal at times, but that's not the core of the film. It's got a great plot with lots of twists. Inventive characters. Great cinematography, editing, and pacing. Good acting. It's original. It's the whole package. I've posted the trailer above and a link on YouTube to the whole film. I'm sure it's available on Netflix, too...Watch it!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Criminal: The Deluxe Edition Volume 2

I was comic shopping with Eric the other day and this bad boy was just sitting there. I didn't know there was a second edition. I had to have it.

I reviewed the first deluxe edition last year and said it was probably the best comic I'd read in 2012. Well, I think this might be even better than the first edition! I want to start right back at the beginning again. Books this good can't go too long without repeating readings.

Read the first review. That sums up the book. It's a modern-day noir with AMAZING art. It's cinematic. You get sucked into Brubaker and Phillips' world from the first word and first shadow. Ridiculously good. Get it!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Living lifetimes in a day, in this fieldtown.

I love it when you stumble upon where a band may have gotten some of their inspiration from. This picture is from a book I'm reading called The Killer Angels.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

the Story of Film

Fifteen hours later and I'm done with the Story of Film.

This is a fifteen part documentary about film from its inception through to contemporary times. Clearly it's worth seeing or I wouldn't have stuck it out, but I almost didn't get past episode one. Why? Cuz Mark Cousins' voice is so fucking annoying.

Mark is an Irish film critic who wrote, directed and narrated the series. It's very well-done, but his intonation drives you up the wall. He makes everything sound so profound or so dramatic. He can't string two words together without making them sound like the last two words on Earth. It's tiresome. So, you eventually get used to it or you just turn it off.

900 minutes of his annoying intonation and cadence aside, you gotta give the man respect. Putting a documentary together of this scale is a ridiculous undertaking. He's gonna get panned no matter what. It's an impossible journey to take without upsetting everyone. I'm not going to begin to get into the areas and artists he left out for one reason or another, but I can't put aside the glaring omission of Guy Ritchie and Danny Boyle. At the very least he should have mentioned Trainspotting. That movie was so goddamn important to British cinema...c'mon. But I digress...

If you love cinema; watch this doc. Simply put. You'll learn a lot. You'll agree and disagree with Mark's POV at times, but it's a worthwhile trip. The man has a lot of knowledge to share. I'm hoping this is only the first series of films. If he opens it up to more detailed looks at certain countries, movements or genres, that could get really fucking cool. There's literally an infinite amount of content to cull from.

So, hats off to Mark Cousins. Hopefully there's at least another 900 minutes more to come...and hopefully he hires someone else to narrate the fucking thing.


I bumped this up on my list o' movies to watch after Le Matin had such good things to say about it.

I dug it. Not what I expected, but in a good way. People love to classify things and put them into conventional boxes. Something familiar that you can understand. Artists often resist being painted into a corner. It'll never change. Le Matin had a hard time backing this film into a corner. What is it? I guess if I had to go on record I'd say it was a dry English romantic comedy. But that makes it sound shittier than it is.

At times it reminded me of Trainspotting (British actor doing a VO about modern mundane society). And at times it reminded me of Brick (main character's stoic performance). But those are both tangential comparisons.

It's its own thing, which is cool. It's a fun, very linear story about life, love, regret. It's quirky.

I'm never really looking for "light entertainment," but this one hit the spot.

Monday, July 1, 2013

the Godfather

I highly doubt I'll watch a movie in 2013 better than the Godfather.

Marie had never seen the film so we rented it on Netflix months ago. We finally put it in the DV-R two nights ago. It blew me away.

I hadn't seen it for over a decade, I'd say. So I was pretty stoked on revisiting it. Long overdue. Goddamn, it is a masterpiece. This obviously isn't shedding any new light on the film, but it has to be said regardless.

It was cool taking so much time off it and coming back to it. I saw it differently. 1972?! Brilliant. Coppola's lens choices were integral to the look of the film. Definitely some Orson Welles influence regarding the cinematography. His DP and Editor were outstanding. Great performances by the whole cast didn't hurt either. I'm looking forward to watching part II. I'll make sure it doesn't take another ten years!