Friday, May 31, 2013

Dork Art: Richard Sala's Fin Fang Foom

Sometime back I wrote a review of Richard Sala's The Hidden for Daily Grindhouse.  Since then I've paid a lot of attention to his tumblr.  There you'll find rifts on Nosferatu, Batman, and violent Trekkie girls.  It's a wonderland of weird.  But this Fin Fang Foom is without a doubt the best thing he's ever done...or at least my favorite.  The Kaiju with Purple Pants has always haunted my dreamscape.  He's a Godzilla knockoff created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, for a one-shot issue of Strange Tales, that eventually worked his way into Iron Man's rogues gallery.  What's the deal with the purple pants?  Did he steal them from the Hulk?  I have no idea.  But I kinda love them.  And when I see modern artists portray the beast without the pants it kinda upsets me.  I own two statues of Fin Fang Foom and I'm still waiting for him to make an Avengers movie appearance - Hey!  Guardians of the Galaxy is happening!!!  So Fin Fang Foom is a total possibility in this mad world we now occupy.


A Fistful of Progeny! (Brad's Picks)

No one in Hollywoodland seems to want you to know that M Night Shyamalan has a new movie out this weekend.  Shhhhhhhh!  Don't mention The Last Airbender.  No, what we have this weekend is the new Will Smith movie.  But the more I see and the more I read about After Earth the less interested I become.  It doesn't look like much of a Will Smith movie anyway; it's really Jaden Smith's show, and frankly, I think that kid stinks.  I guess he was ok in that boring Karate Kid remake, but he almost single handedly brought forth my rage in The Day The Earth Stood Still remake (Keanu gets a chunk of the credit).  Such an annoying brat, and I really want nothing to do with him now.  Sure, that sounds pretty harsh and totally unfair.  But this is my blog; let me have my irrational, hypocritical opinions.  You know I'm gonna drop my cash for After Earth, and maybe - just maybe - it's a solid post-apocalpse flick, and my mind will be forever altered in regards to all Smith offspring.  After all, Hollywood has produced a lot of talented babies...

5.  Jason Robards:  The son of Hope Maxine Robards & Jason Robards Sr, Junior here eventually surpassed his father's notoriety as a stage actor with a little help from Eugene O'Neal (Long Day's Journey Into Night, The Iceman Cometh, Hughie, A Touch of the Poet).  From there, Robards found his way onto television, lent a little credibility to Roger Corman's The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and found critical nirvana through Sergio Leone & Sam Peckinpah.  His performances in both Once Upon A Time In The West & The Ballad of Cable Hogue are what lands him on this list, but I would be lying if I neglected his minor turns in Ron Howard's Parenthood or Quick Change - both were absolute staples of my youth.  Also, his final credit as the neglectful dad Earl Partridge in Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia will rip out your heart, and his work there granted Tom Cruise his finest hour.

4.  Nicolas Cage:  His grandfather was composer Carmine Coppola, his uncle Francis Ford Coppola, and his aunt Talia Shire.  If written a few years earlier, Cage would have easily landed at the number one spot of this list, but his special brand of mega-acting has not been kind to his career lately.  After winning my heart with a few brilliantly bonkers performances (The Bad Lieutenant, Kick AssDrive Angry), Cage has pretty much sunken into the bland Direct-To-DVDers (Trespass, Seeking Justice, Stolen).  It might be easy to write him off thanks to all those bees in The Wicker Man remake, but let's not forget the classics - Raising Arizona, Red Rock West, Adaptation, Matchstick Men - these are some powerhouse performances not to be mocked.  And I'm betting Cage has a couple more surprises left up his sleeve.

3.  David Carradine:  The son of John Carradine & brother to Keith & Robert.  The man pretty much ruled my childhood with Kung Fu & it's crappy sequel show, The Legend Continues.  But it wasn't until Quentin Tarantino reintroduced him to the world in Kill Bill that I truly discovered the genius of his massive body of work.  Death Race 2000, Boxcar Bertha, Bound for Glory, The Warrior & The Sorceress, The Long Riders, Q The Winged Serpent.  The man was the king of B movies, and he was working like a beast right up to his sad end.  And as a result, we're going to be getting Direct-To-DVD appearances for at least another ten years.

2.  Robert Downey Jr:  The son of independent filmmaker Robert Downey Sr; it's hard to remember the dark days of Soapdish & Chances Are (two charming films made in a haze of sex and cocaine), this former Brat Packer was well on his way to obscurity before Marvel's Iron Man launched his career into the stratosphere.  But before he donned ol' Shell Head, Robert Downey Jr was already making quite a buzz in the small movie racket.  Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is an amazing bit of noir wit from Shane Black.  Downey expertly charmed as the jittering literary agent in Curtis Hanson's Wonder Boys.  And he scored big points reaching into his drug fueled past to portray the doomed reporter Paul Avery in David Fincher's painfully overlooked Zodiac.  He might be forever assembled an Avenger, but Robert Downey Jr earned his Blockbuster status, and I hope he finds some tiny gems amongst his continuing franchises.

1.  Jeff Bridges:  He's The Dude.  'nuff said.  Oh, you want more?  The son of Lloyd & brother of Beau, Jeff Bridges has rarely been on the bottom of creativity.  I'd love to tell you that he had it from the start, but, gulp, I've actually never seen The Last Picture Show.  No, my love for the man started with the King Kong remake (a terribly mediocre film in hindsight), survived on the original Tron, and became the god of drifter cool in The Big Lebowski.  Along the way he played boy cub to Clint Eastwood's hardass in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, straight man to John Heard's psychotic do-gooder in Cutter's Way, and my all time favorite sandwich eating POTUS in The Contender.  And oh yeah, FTW, he schooled John Wayne in The Coen Brothers' far superior True Grit.  Done deal.  Jeff Bridges is the king of Hollywood offspring.


Dork Art: Batman 1972

Dork Favorite, Francesco Francavilla is currently cooking an Elseworld's that drops the Batman Mythology into the magical realm of 1972....huh.  Well, Bat's has been shown kicking it with a Cold War Superman.  He's hunted the steampunk lamps of merry old England.  He's even been portrayed as an honest-to-goodness bloodsucking creature of the night.  But he's definitely never been given the grindhouse, 70s exploitation pimped-out treatment.  Should be no surprise to anyone who knows us, but that is a freaking AWESOME idea, and I really hope DC lets the madman do his thing.  At the very least, I'd like some prints - especially one for the above Catwoman.


Movie Review: Natural City

This originally appeared quite some time ago on cineAWESOME!, a site you should be reading.

    Neon lights and holograms light the rainy streets of a depressing future city, while cop R’s life spirals out of control in writer/director Byung-chun Min’s reworking of Blade Runner, Natural City (2003).  Even with a chicken alarm clock to wake up with, R isn’t satisfied until he gets his drunk hands on despondent, nearly expired cyborg Ria. There’s also a young prostitute/fortune teller/gardener living in the slums who inexplicably loves R.  Oh, and there’s a cop who likes R for some reason, and keeps trying to save him.  And some killer cyborgs (who never miss a spinning class).  And a creepy little albino-Yoda guy who knows his brain-chips.  These characters very, very slowly start coming together, and I guess a plot begins to develop.  Sadly, R seems to be our hero, but is such a colossally unlikable A-bag that not only do I have a hard time caring if he lives or dies, I actually want to see him fail miserably.  Actually, I want his cop buddy to put two in the back of the head and toss the body in the river.  I don’t need my protagonists to be nice, heroic, or completely likable.  But, some modicum of moral fiber, coolness, or something good needs to be present for me to relate.

    The plot is a little difficult to put together, at least on first viewing.  I’ve seen this movie at least three times now, and feel I’ve got a solid handle on it.  There are a few twists and turns and identity revelations that you can miss if you’re not paying attention.  But, when all is said and done, and the chips are down, it’s still pretty much a rehash of Blade Runner.  That brings me to the visuals, which again owe a lot to Blade Runner, especially when characters are out and about in the city, getting rained on.  Interiors remind me a lot of the Alien franchise.  And then there are the semi-post-apocalyptic ghettos.  It’s all put together to good effect.  The world is one I’d like to see more take place in.  It’s lived-in enough to feel real, while being exotic enough to be interesting.  And while the CG is often unimpressive, it’s not off-putting,  and it certainly doesn’t get in the way.  Oddly, for a movie that is kind of slow paced, the occasional action scenes used to spice it up have the opposite effect.  Some of the gags are cool, with limbs exploding and the like.  But the scenes tend to grind the movie to a halt just when it needs to speed up. 

    The actors all seem fine and the world interesting.  But the script just isn’t strong.  Too slow a pace, and an homage so close to the original as to feel plagiaristic.  With almost universally unlikable characters, try as I might, I could never bring myself to invest emotionally in the outcome.  So, when the bloody climax begins, the slow motion kicks on, and the lady singer let me know I’m watching Drama, I found myself checking my watch.  The best thing about this movie is that it makes me want to go back and watch Blade Runner again.  It’s been too long.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

"Taco Time!" - New Machete Kills Trailer Looks Cheap & Stupid...I'm There.

The below international trailer for Machete Kills looks dirt cheap and kinda terrible.  Gone is the Grindhouse grit of the original wannabe, but Robert Rodriguez is cramming this B Movie with as many friends as he can - Danny Trejo! Antonio Banderas! William Sadler! Jessica Alba! Charlie Sheen! Mel Gibson! Amber Heard! Michelle Rodriguez! Lady Gaga!  The film can't pay well, so it must be super fun to be part of Rodriguez's DIY process.   The first film was no great exploitation film, but it had it's own special charm, and yeah, I wish Rodriguez was doing bigger & better projects but we're just gonna have to settle for silly, stupid fun.  Sheen - POTUS.  Yeah, ok.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Werner Herzog: The Text Can Wait

I've been thinking a lot about Herzog lately.  His Jack Reacher appearance.  That death row documentary, Into the Abyss.  I'm gearing up to finally witness Aguirre.   I know Matt just watched his Nosferatu & was raving about it on the way to The Alamo's Enter The Dragon screening.  While we were driving some guy in the car next to us swerved in our direction, and careened back on to his side of the road.  Matt commented that the asshole was texting & driving - a favorite hate rant of Matt's....and with good reason.  Anyway, it's strange to encounter this PSA on the web today.  AT&T and Werner Herzog have partnered up for this brief, but extremely moving commercial condeming the absurdity & horror of text/driving.  I hope the careless ones out there pay attention.  Your actions have consequences.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dork Art: Geek-Art's Final Frontier

Gonna be in Paris from June 3-30th?  Well, stop on by Geek-Art's Final Frontier art show for a stunning tribute to Television's most enduring franchise.  Looks like we've got a couple of beauties from Paul Shipper and Matt Ferguson, as well as Nicolas Beaujouan, Sam Ho, and Patrick Connan.  No matter what my feelings are towards Star Trek Into Darkness, it's always good to see so much love for Star Trek in the community.  And I really do dig the hell outta Josh LN's Into Darkness skeleton quote print.  If I had only enjoyed the film a little bit more I would totally want that up on my apartment wall.


New Release Tuesday!!! (5/28/13)

Yes.  Doctor Who comes out this week.  I don't care.  I'm not Matt.  I'm Brad.  This week is all about William Devane & Tommy Lee Jones tearing up whore houses and killing thugs with hook hands.  That's right folks, after years of anticipation, Rolling Thunder is finally coming to blu ray.  Quit the human sacrifices.  Your good work is done.


Rolling Thunder:  William Devane (POTUS from GI Joe Retaliation!) returns home from a Hanoi Hotel only to discover that his lady has fallen for another man.  If that wasn't bad enough, a gang of street thugs invades his home, steals his homecoming loot, drops his mitt down a garbage disposal, and gun downs his son.  Devane crawls from the brink of death, recruits the aid of 'Nam buddy Tommy Lee Jones, and the two men go on a kill crazy rampage ten time more brutal & painful than anything witnessed in Death Wish or the various Punishers.  Rolling Thunder should be a classic of 70s exploitation but for whatever reason it never struck a chord with audiences.  Quentin Tarantino went a long way in promoting it's grimy genius during those early days of Pulp Fiction success, but it still took far too long for Shout Factory to give it the proper Special Edition treatment.  Unfortuatelyt, retail chains being what they are these days, good luck finding it on the shelves.  Order it.  Wait for it.  And be happy when it arrives.  Rolling Thunder is easily my most anticpated release of the month.


Shoot First, Die Later:  Haven't seen this one yet, but I'm gonna snag it based solely on Fernando Di Leo's Live Like A Cop Die Like A Man, a superbly trashy crime story set in & around Rome in which good cops and bad cops commit horrible acts of depravity.  The man makes beastly violent movies that will upset your delicate senses.  This one looks to be equally amoral.  Bring it.


Dark Skies:  It's Poltergeist!  It's X-Files!  It's utter crap!  Keri Russell and some no name husband defend their home from flocks of birds and kiddie touching aliens.  A whole bunch of slamming doors and other loud noises.  Plus, JK Simmons!  Ok.  That's a good thing.  Other than that.  I don't care.  Neither should you.


Comic Review: Silver Surfer - Parable

    Here’s the thing.  I really like the Silver Surfer.  I do.  I think he’s a really cool and interesting character.  Buuuuut, you see, Stan Lee wrote a good deal of his stories and Stan Lee is, um, a terrible writer.  Like Wonder Woman, The Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Cat Woman, and so many more, the core concept of the character is sound, but the execution is almost universally bad.  So, being a glutton for punishment, I’ve read a good deal of Surfer comics, usually gritting my teeth while thinking about how awesome it should be, and how not very good it is.  That same thing happened while reading this volume.  Famed European comic artist Moebius, one of the key visual storytellers of the 70s, whose work frequently graced the pages of Heavy Metal issues I’d sneak peaks at when I was a boy, is a perfect match for the cosmic nomad, and there are some beautiful panels.  But Stan…Oh, Stan.

    You see, Stan Lee is an important figure in comics.  That can’t really be debated.  But, like August Derleth in Lovecraft circles and George Lucas & Gene Rodenberry in sci-fi circles, his actual ability in the arena is…not so good.  I must admit that his writing in this volume is much better than what he was doing in the 60s.  Though he crams entirely too many words into each panel, without saying much of anything, he thankfully avoids describing what we can plainly see in gratuitous captions (Check out early Surfer, FF, or Spider-man for panels where the character says what he’s doing, the caption describes the action, and the picture shows you what’s happening.  It’s a visual medium, Stan, we know what’s happening because there’s a picture!).  And as bad as the writing in this is, it’s still better than Chris Claremont.  But his flowery, overly dramatic dialog is painfully silly and out of step.  His heavy handed moralizing isn’t even subtle enough for the worst episodes of original Trek (Eeb planista!).  There’s a phenomena friends and I have come to call the ‘Marvel crowd.’  This is the crowd of people who change opinions and moods on a dime.  You can see them in the awful Spiderman movies, in the Fantastic Four films, and even in non-Marvel films like The Dark Knight.  Occasionally I’ll spot a Marvel crowd in film unrelated to comics at all.  But Marvel Comics have got to be the worst perpetrators of this menace, and Stan Lee seems to be their most fervent perpetrator.  A kind of meta-example of this is the relationship between the X-Men and EVERYONE else in the Marvel Universe.  All normal people hate and fear the X-Men, and want to persecute them.  But few people (unless someone manipulates them…which is extremely easy to do) have any problem whatsoever with the Fantastic Four, Spider-man, or any number of other strange heroes.  That doesn’t make any danged sense.  And that’s plagued Silver Surfer all along.  Everyone hates him.  He villages, stops alien invasions, gets cats out of trees, yet everyone hates him…Um…’cause he’s an alien, er something.  No, it’s because Stan can’t write, and he needs characters to be persecuted so he can slap readers across the face with his ‘shouldn’t we be ashamed of ourselves’ self-hating Liberal mentality.  Parable is all about how people are sheep, anyone with power is evil, the Surfer is like Christ, and Galactus is organized religion.  I even agree with his general thoughts about how religious figureheads are generally power hungry and corrupt, and how some people simply want to be told what to do and what to think, so will go out of their way to put themselves in the power of charismatic leaders.  But the rest of it?  Ugh.

    The volume also contains The Enslavers, written by Lee again, with art by Keith Pollard.  This feels more like classic Surfer stuff, with some nice art, but a pretty silly story.  The villain is pretty lame, and like all too many Silver Surfer stories, it centers around Earth.  But I like the art, and I like that at least sometimes, he gets to do stuff in space.  Considering he’s a ‘cosmic’ character, he spends entirely too much time within Earth’s atmosphere.  The Enslavers sort of feels like a send-off for the Surfer.  Though, honestly, I don’t really know what Marvel has done with him over the years.  He seems to pop up randomly, and there doesn’t seem to be much continuity.

    Here’s hoping that someone with some writing talent and someone with artistic talent will be teamed up in the future on a Silver Surfer project that explores some of the potential in the character, without falling back on Stan Lee’s particular brand of problems.  I do think there’s potential for some compelling and contemplative science fiction stories and philosophical meditations.  Somewhere else I said I wanted a Silver Surfer movie to be a 2001 style trippy flick, and that’s kind of what I want from the comic.  Moebius would have been a great artist to have on that, but Lee was the wrong writer.

Silver Surfer: Parable
Author: Stan Lee
Artists: Moebius and Keith Pollard
Publisher: Marvel Publishing Inc.
ISBN: 978-0-7851-6209-4


Brad's Week In Dork! (5/19/13-5/25/13)

This week was all about blowing the stink of Star Trek Into Darkness out of my life, and there was no better aid in that endeavor than the charmingly ridiculous stupid of The Fast and The Furious franchise.  I know what you're asking, "Brad, how can you enjoy a group of films that are obviously and infinitely more hairbrained than anything found in JJ Abrams' latest abomination?"  Ummmmmm, maybe.  It's certainly true that the first two Fast & Furious flicks are pretty damn terrible, and it's only till they start drifting in Tokyo that the films become any sort of real entertainment.  Of course, with Fast Five the producers begin to take notice of the crazy brains scheming of Marvel Studios, and Assemble an epic globe trotting adventure that exchanges the limp biscuit cgi malarky for grande "Damn, Did You See That!?!" practical car crack ups.  Toss in the The Rock (aka Samoan Thor) and your too dumb-too stupid franchise is Saved!

"Weee!  I Make Everything Better!"

However, before moving on to the street racing glory, I had to delve one more time Into Darkness.  This time dragging Mom, Dad, and The Wife to The Alamo.  Still hated it.  Sorry, folks.  I'm fascinated by how irritated my friends, family, & coworkers can be at my complete lack of enthusiasm for this latest Trek.  Part of that fascination can be contributed to my own bewilderment at their enjoyment.  Even if you're not a Trekkie you have to acknowledge the complete lack of substance or intelligence to the screenplay.  My disdain for this film is not just "Khan's Not White, okay, guys!"  It's a film riddled with conveniences, plot holes, and slipshod homage.  And it's dumb.  Not Fast & Furious dumb fun.  Just dumb.  Shiny, sure.  Easy to watch.  But it crumbles under the tiniest bit of scrutiny.  And I hold Star Trek to a higher standard than the latest 2 Hour Popcorn Killer.  If you don't - if you set Star Trek Into Darkness right next to Battleship or even The Avengers than I can see you shrugging off this latest adventure as a jolly good time.  But for me, the best Trek reaches for something higher than your wallet.

Star Trek Into Darkness:  Okay.  More Spoilers here.  I just can't talk about this movie without dishing out plot points.  What is Khan's plan?  He blows up Section 31 so that Admiral Marcus & his cronies will gather together.  He shoots up their boardroom.  Then he beams to Kronos.  Why?  Does he know that Marcus will send Kirk (or some other goon) to attack Kronos with his shipmate torpedos?  Why does he leave the torpedos active with his men inside?  Why are torpedos built with a hollow center for men to hide in?  What is Admiral Marcus's plan?  He defrosts the 300 year old Khan for his savagery?  How is he a better bomb builder than other Federation scientists?  Would Napoleon Bonaparte be a good addition to our current military?  Khan has super blood.  His blood can cure mysterious child illnesses.  His blood can resurrect dead Tribbles.  His blood can resurrect dead Starfleet Captains.  His blood can heal animal & human alike.  No more death for anybody!!!!   Um, couldn't the blood of the other 72 super humans aboard the USS Enterprise do the same thing?  Why does it have to be Khan's blood?  I hate this movie.  It's dumb.  And I'm starting to think Star Trek - Nemesis is better.

2 Fast 2 Furious:  When Vin Diesel and director Rob Cohen jumped ship for xXx, the producers of The Fast and The Furious pushed Paul Walker into the spotlight and brought on John Singleton for a little street cred.  The result is a bloated slog.  Tyrese Gibson is a fun enough Diesel replacement, but what little chemistry he can fake is lost in the drawn out undercover plot.  It's a manufactured Love You/Hate You bromance that doesn't come close to matching the wannabe Point Break relationship of the original film.  Eva Mendes is meant to be the love interest/sex object, but she seems totally bored by Walker's blue eyed gaze.  Seeing them flirt is as painful as it is neverending.  Obviously, the writers don't know yet that Walker & Brewster are meant to be - the family has yet to properly come together.  As is, 2 Fast 2 Furious is easily the weakest entry in the series.

Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol:  The first half of this film is as good as this franchise gets.  The IMF is once again disavowed after their team is implicated in the Kremlin bombing.  Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, & Jeremy Renner come together to chase down another pesky terrorist, climbing the Burj Khalifa for super secret codes, chasing masked henchmen through dust storms, and hypnotizing Indian billionaires with magically plunging cleavage.  The plot holds very little interest,  this film might also house its most lackluster villain (sorry Michael Nyqvist, Dougray Scott was better - burn!).  But Brad Bird proves himself the king of cartoony action even when he's playing with live dolls, and Ghost Protocol is heaps of fun when Tom Cruise is busily smashing cars atop asshole badmen.

The Fast and The Furious - Tokyo Drift:  The Fast and The Furious - Tokyo Drift:  From the opening credits, you know something is different about this Dieseless & Walkerless Fast & Furious entry.  Justin Lin's camera is alive as it moves through the high school hell of Lucas Black.  The soundtrack is hipper, the teen landscape simmering with that hateful enthusiasm of youth.  One more town, one more school to alienate.  Lucas Black does just that after a construction yard race ends tragically.  His mom ships him off to Tokyo to live with his father; it's not like he can run afoul of the Yakuza there.  Oh wait.  The schools there are just as bad, but with the added bonus of a mob presence.  Thankfully, Black meets Bow Wow aka Twinkie, and the two form a fast friendship around cars and women.  Black proves himself as a street racing protege, catching the attention of bored low life Han (The Fast and The Furious's greatest creation) and together this trilogy of odd will take down Sonny Chiba's fedora don.  The Fast & Furious franchise was good and dead before Tokyo Drift.  Justin Lin came on board with a real vision and a love for real deal car races.  Sung Kang's Han brought genuine heart to the series.  Suddenly this was a brand to watch.

Peter Tork @ The Birchmere:  Tuesday Night was a real trip.  I know I've mentioned this on the blog before, but my Wife is a real Monkees maniac.  A few weeks back we caught Michael Nesmith at The Birchmere and as cool as that was, it really didn't capture the spastic joy brought on by Peter Tork's intimate performance.  We raced to the club after work, afraid to get stuck in the back with the cheap seats.  Sadly, not a whole lot of Northern Virginia showed up for Tork (about 50 folks) and The Wife & I scored some pretty damn good seats.  We were actually next to Tork's son the whole time and I found myself time traveling every time I stared at him working the projector.  That's right...projector.  As Tork performed Monkees classics his son added a little visual.  A very talky, chatty show.  Afterwards he welcomed autographs & pictures.  Lisa nearly lost her mind when Tork gave her a hug, and she even told him she'd leave me for him.  That's okay cuz he said I could have his fiance.  We're swinging now!

Pete Holmes @ 930 Club:  The next night The Wife & I were in DC for some stand-up.  I was fairly unfamiliar with Holmes (having only caught one or two eps of You Made It Weird) but from nearly the moment he took the stage I was dying with laughter.  He was a blue boy, and I don't think I'll be able to think of apartment hunting the same way again.  Since that night I've been a regular listener to the show, and I just downloaded his album Impregnated with Wonder.  A word of warning: Do Not Drive And Listen.  I nearly killed The Wife & I as I bellowed with laughter.  Dangerous Stuff.

They Live:  "Brother, life's a bitch...and she's back in heat!"  Another fabulous screening at The Alamo Drafthouse DC, complete with bubblegum and badass shades.  Obviously, this is one silly movie.  Rowdy Roddy Piper brings every ounce of his WWF Energy, and bashes it upon the silver screen with all the subtlety of a flaming mac truck.  John Carpenter blasts his rage upon America's Greed and he hits the nail right on the head, keeps on thwacking, and slams it through the crust of the Earth.  They Live is a goofy film filled with silly dialog and cheese filled melodrama, but I find as I get older, it's also a film that resonates perfectly with my own retail existence.  They Live gets me to laugh hard.  But if I start to dwell on it, and sense it's relevance as strong today as it was in the 1980s it can also make me a touch melancholic.  The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China will always be my top Carpenter flicks, but They Live has moved in right behind them.

Fast & Furious:  As far as quality goes, seated right behind 2 Fast 2 Furious is this fourth entry.  Not sure what went wrong.  Justin Lin proved himself to be the right man for the job, but he relies too heavily on the action of computer graphics this go 'round.   Despite bringing the gang back together and introducing the the family theme, Fast & Furious is rather forgettable.  Heck, as I sit at this computer, I'm struggling to remember the details of the plot.  Paul Walker worms his way back into the hearts of Jordana Brewster & her brother Diesel despite the fact that he's responsible for the death of Michelle Rodriguez...kinda...sorta...stay tuned to this franchise!  But the real problem of this film is all the night shooting.  What the hell is going on in these set pieces?  Hard to see, hard to care.  And the repetitive tunnel chase at the climax is a real snooze.  Forget this flick, let's move on.

Fast Five:  "East L.A. Avengers Assemble!!!!!"  Holy Cow!  This film is far too good to be the fifth film in a franchise.  Is there any other example of a series that takes five films to find itself?  Tokyo Drift was the first decent film, but Fast Five is the first honest-to-goodness action classic.  And it's not just the introduction of The Rock.  He goes a long way in grabbing my interest, but I think all the credit has to go to Justin Lin & his producers.  They keep the neon street race theme, but drops these criminal nimrods into a global bank heisting scheme worthy of Ocean's Eleven or James Bond.   The CG is kept to a minimum and Lin cranks the practical car crashes to mondo gonzo levels.   The climactic vault race is seriously stunning.  Sure, I think the producers were watching the buildup to The Avengers very closely and thought, "Yeah we can do that."  Suddenly there's a whole lotta wacky fan servicing occurring and a beauty of a stinger in the wings.  It all works though, with a silly but deeply sincere emphasis on family & faith.  It's easily to laugh at, but I can't help but get drawn in by the charm.

The Wild Bunch:  "I'm tired of being hunted."  After spending a week with these modern macho men pretenders, I needed a serious dose of real manhood to remind my perpetual youth that there is something else to strive towards.   Sam Peckinpah's Wild Bunch fit the bill.  It had been a few years since my last viewing, and I had forgotten just how excruciatingly violent the opening slaughterfest is, and how deplorable these guys are when you separate the reality from the fantasy of cinema.  Sam Peckinpah's West is a savage, hateful heartland - it's a brutal reminder of the corpses resting beneath this country's foundation.  So much orange blood.  And I love it.  William Holden is a scumbag gangster on a horse.  His friends are killers.  They're only heroic when standing next to the greed of the railroad beasts.  But when the frame of the film closes on a second bloody showdown, you see our heroes grab women as shields and do all they can to spend one last second killing another man.  It's a bleak world.  Not the happy black & white morality usually subjected upon John Wayne's fan base.  And I would give my last hit of tequila to have been an audience member during that original release.

Furious 6:  Fast Five brought America to the franchise, but Furious 6 is mostly for the already established fans.  The film does not simply jump from one action scene to the next (most of which have been spoiled in the trailers); there are whole segments that would mean nothing to anyone but the die hardest of die hard fans - seriously, why are we returning to L.A. to pigstick a baddie from two films back?  Um, cuz this is The Avengers of Shitty Car Racing Films!!!!  Yeah!!!!  Vin Diesel is soooooo damn serious.  I mean, he's always serious, but this time he's serrrrrrrrious.  Michele Rodriguez returns with a plot stolen from daytime television, and Vin bails on his smokin' hot Brazilian girlfriend for the downgrade.  Come on man, there's plenty of love in your heart for two ladies (& The Rock)!  Paul Walker & Jordana Brewster are pretty much sidelined this outing, but that's okay cuz there's more room for The Rock & Sung Kang to scowl and strut.  Furious 6 also might contain the single best stinger I've ever experienced in a theater (sorry Masters of the Universe), and I'm pumped for next year's sequel - Just Fast & Furious Enough!  Hmmmmm...this week of beefy beefy beefy men may have driven me mad.

My Dirty Dumb Eyes by Lisa Hanawalt:  Whoa.  This lady is one sick puppy.  And I love her.  A random collection of drawings & thoughts sprinkled with painfully humorous reviews of some of my favorite modern movies.  Ryan Gosling in Drive: "I think they could have gone a little further and given him a few more accouterments...246 Toothpicks!"  Or the peace pony film War Horse: "I'm also bummed that War Horse isn't more bad-ass and this isn't a horse version of 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes."  And let's not even talk about her thoughts regarding Red Angry Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  If you are at all sheepish around sexuality than don't bother, but if you're ready to poke fun at yourself and others than Lisa Hanawalt is a fantastically smutty gateway into absurdity.

Isle of 100,000 Graves by Jason:  Matt's recent batch of reviews had me reaching for the bookshelf.  Not my favorite Jason book (that would be The Last Musketeer), but this twisted little pirate story is one messed up adventure.  A young girl convinces a gang of thieves to escort her to the Hangman Academy in search of her wayward father.  Meanwhile a young boy rejects his execution education in favor of a bloodless lifestyle.  Each humorous panel hides a bleak outlook, and you can't help but feel terrible as you chuckle along.  Jason is one of the great cartoonists working in the field today, and if you're unaware of his work then this would be a fine starting point.