I make my dog watch too many movies

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Two weeks into the 2019 season, and the Dolphins are already historically bad. How bad?

Duck!

Final Score: Patriots 43, Dolphins 0

For future reference, that's QB Ryan Fitzpatrick on his way to a 23.8 passer rating throwing to RB Kevin Ballage who had exactly as many receiving yards on the day as running yards: 6.

#FinsUp!

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Not so many movies watched so far this September (because football!), but I saw more than enough in August to take up the slack.

139. (1578.) Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
The big eyes are a mistake. The story arc is a mistake. The acting is a... well, let's just say it's for children. In any case, I can see why audiences turned a cold shoulder to it. I'm sure the Pacific Rim crowd loved it. I didn't.

140. (1579.) Susan and God (1940)
A busybody uses religion to justify her holier-than-thou attitude and comes to regret it. A passable way to spend an afternoon without football.

141. (1580.) The Key (1934)
A bad melodrama, this is the worst William Powell film I've seen. He's the only good thing in it, which is not a recommendation.

142. (1581.) A Dry White Season (1989)
When one good man discovers that operatives of the South African government are so terrified of the oppressed native peoples that they are willing to murder anyone who dares question them, he begins to work against them. Then his family turns against him. It's really a horror film as much as a tragedy.

143. (1582.) Fort Apache (1948)
Having seen it in bits and pieces before, I watched the whole thing beginning to end and very much enjoyed myself, especially the dark ending conceding that the myth of American history has been built by those determined not to admit their mistakes.

144. (1583.) The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)
Shirley Temple never grew into much of an actress, but Myrna Loy is really the star of this romantic comedy (as she ought to be).

145. (1584.) Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
The improved version of Pretty in Pink where everyone gets what's coming to them. Nice.

More to come.

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13-0. 33-0. 47-0. 55-0. Those are the scores at the end of each quarter of today's UGA game against Arkansas Sate. They are also the reason that I didn't attend, despite it being a UGA home game.

I will, however, be in the stands next week when Notre Dame comes to town. If I have to buy some cupcakes I'm not going to eat in order to get the real football content, that's a price I'm willing to pay.

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Speaking of movies I don't know why anyone would make: Batman: Hush. That's the latest direct-to-video animated Batman film from the factory at Warner Bros Home Entertainment.

The movie is based on 12 issues of the Batman comic released in 2002/03. Jeph Loeb — the pen behind Commando — was credited with "writing" the story, although he admitted that most of what he did was create ad hoc justifications for what Jim Lee wanted to draw. Jim Lee, you see, is one of the true superstars of the comic world. Back in 2002 he has just been bought out by DC Comics and they wanted to get their money's worth. That meant putting Lee on the best-selling comic, Batman, and letting him do his thing.

As you might guess, the result was that "Hush" is a series of cool looking images hanging from a story frame that barely makes sense. ("Barely" is probably too generous a word.) Few cared at the time because of Jim Lee, and the collected comics continues to be best sellers because of Jim Lee. Creating a movie from that story while subtracting Lee's distinctive personal visual style is like reading War and Peace translated from the original Russian into pig latin.

So why would Warner Bros bother with such a doomed exercise? I'm guessing because people have heard of "Hush" and don't realize (or care) that it is based more on visual art than story. And Warner Bros is only interested in squeezing as much cash from each extant property as possible forever and ever. Their corporate motto: Diminishing returns are still returns!

If you're really interested in who/what "Hush" is, do yourself a favor. Go buy a comic instead.

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Friend Chad recently asked me if I had any interest in the upcoming Joker movie. You know the one. It just won the Golden Lion award for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival. My answer, in short, was no. In long, it was *hell* no.

As a longtime reader of comics, I have a well-established mental image of what I expect from Batman and his rogues gallery. As a general rule, I don't enjoy films about gangsters (which Joker was in the 40s) or films about serial killers (which Joker has been since the 80s). I've seen both Bonnie and Clyde and Natural Born Killers exactly once, and that's each one time too many.

My biggest problem with the film is that the Joker is unequivocally a villain. Pure capital-E Evil. However, a story's protagonist has to be relatable to its audience. Just as the short-lived Joker comic series of the mid-70s focused on its eponymous star's zany antics (and minimized the collateral damage), to put the character at the center of a film it becomes necessary to humanize him, to turn him from villain to anti-hero. No, thank you.

Call me a prude, but I don't see any reason to make a film exploring how someone becomes a narcissistic, mass-murdering sociopath on the scale of the Joker. In fiction, the Joker has beaten a child to death with a crowbar, slaughtered an entire talk show audience on camera, and gassed the United Nations General Assembly. All for giggles. If such a monster existed in the real world — an Osama bin Laden-squared — would you pay to see that person's biography on the big screen?

Joker works best in comics as a larger-than-life malevolent force of nature, the personification of the chaos that Batman strives to eliminate from the world. That's exactly how "Why so serious" Heath Ledger played him (and "This town needs an enema" Jack Nicholson before that). If you insist on reinventing the character, I'd say making him mortal is the wrong direction to go. Forget realism for a character that is inherently unreal. Give us a film about how Cesar Romero's wacky Joker earned his place as Gotham City's Clown Prince of Crime with a painted-over mustache (the anti-Groucho Marx!). Or choose to elaborate on any random Joker entry from silly The Super Dictionary.

Joker is a liar! Beets are NOT good to eat.

But don't try to remake Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy with a super-villain behind the greasepaint. Once was enough for that one, too.

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To be continued...

 

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