Saturday, May 30, 2009

IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Villains

I think that title says it all, right?

IGN has thrown together a number of great "Top 100" lists and this is no exception.  Most of the list is drawn from Marvel and DC, but there are a few independent press surprises.  The top 10 is filled with the usual suspects, but the order is always up for debate.  It makes me want to put together my own list, one not based on impact or popularity, but instead based on personal preference.

Head over and check out the Top 100 Comic Book Villains.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Let's All Go to the Lobby!

As I said yesterday, things are a bit hectic right now but I wanted to share with you some quick thoughts on films that have just come out or are coming out this weekend. Let's get to it.

Terminator Salvation: I have not see all of the third Terminator film, but I doubt that I missed much. There isn't much to this film, either. Skip it.

Up: The latest film from Disney*Pixar, it doesn't quite measure up to the previous films, especially Wall-E or The Incredibles. There's a very odd juxtaposition between the pre-feature short film and an early montage sequence. See if you can spot the oddity. See it if you have kids and want an awkward conversation about child birth (this depends on how aware your children are).

The Limits of Control: This Jim Jarmusch film is very interesting but very slow. The film builds tension and intrigue for an hour and a half then blows all of the serenity with a dull ending. Rent it.

The Brothers Bloom: The new film from promising young director Rian Johnson features a bigger budget, a bigger cast, and a bigger let down. The film is visually stunning and features great editing, but the last act of the film is drawn out and over wrought. Still worth seeing, though.

Gigantic: Paul Dano stars as a young man who wants to adopt a Chinese baby. Or does he? A semi-surrealist adventure wound around an NYC emo hipster. Most of the performances are over the top and don't really seem connected to reality. You'll laugh at Zach Galifianakis, but I don't think you are supposed to. Rent it.

The Girlfriend Experience: You'll get more out of this film than you ever expected to.  Chelsea, a Megan Fox knockoff played by real life porn star Sasha Grey, is a high dollar call girl who spends more time in the movie learning about how to invest her money and play the stock market than she does actually "servicing" her clients.  The film looks at the strains put on Chelsea's real relationship with her boyfriend, Chris, by Chelsea's unconventional vocation.  The film was as good as I was hoping it would be and Steven Soderbergh shows how strong of a director he is, independent or otherwise.  See it.

Drag Me to Hell: Probably the best "horror" film I've seen in a long time. This film was more fun than scary and there are a lot of gross, squirm-inducing scenes. It was fun to see the film with a big audience, especially when everyone is reacting to the film. The acting isn't great, the plot is a little weak, but Sam Raimi delivers his best film in over 15 years. Take a date and see it.

Away We Go: This is easily one of the best films I have seen in a long time. Sam Mendes directs John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph as a couple expecting their first baby but questioning their position in life. They embark on a journey to find a place to call home. There is a lot of humor, a lot of heartache, and a lot of love along the way. See it. Twice.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ketchup

I haven't been blogging as much as I would like to lately, and there's a simple explanation for that: I've been busy. As some of you may know, I'm getting married very soon, so planning for that event along with preparing an overseas trip coupled with a busy time at work leaves little time for blogging.

I know I won't be blogging at all for the first two weeks of June, add that to the slow pace I've set in May and you've got a blog that's more like a ghost town. I've stalled out of the gate on several posts about movies, graphic novels, comics in general, as well as the much loved Impressions series, jazz clips, and Cool Covers. I'll be back to blogging in earnest once I return, particularly with a summary of my trip to London.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Let's All Go to the Lobby!

Time again for another quick set of reviews for two very different films.  One is a summer blockbuster while the other is a romantic cluster-fudge.

Tom Hanks returns as an Ivy League symbologist in Ron Howard's "Angels and Demons."  This is the second film from author Dan Brown, author of "The Da Vinci Code," with Hanks reprising his role as Robert Langdon.  I went into the film expecting a popcorn thriller and that's basically what I got.

I did like the film from the aspect of a puzzle/mystery film.  It's interesting to think that there are secret, clandestine groups plotting against the rest of the free world, especially groups which formed centuries ago.  While the story becomes a bit predictable (and a touch long), there is setup after setup followed by payoff after payoff.  Most of the performances are strong (strong enough to carry the film at least) and it's fun to see Hanks in a role that isn't terribly overwrought or championed as an Oscar-worthy performance.  You know what?  See it.

The other side of this theatre ticket features the French film "Shall We Kiss?"  This film follows two friends as they come to realize that what they seek romantically happens to be each other.  The story is dialogue driven and is actually depicted as a story within a story.  The film is witty, interesting, and unconventional as it asks "is it better to follow one's desires or uphold the responsibilities and mores of marriage and friendship?"  (that is not a quote from the film).

The film has a very deliberate (slow) pace, but is very methodical in the way it unfolds.  If you are a drowsy film-goer, you may run the risk of dozing off in the middle of the film, so I'd say it's probably best to rent this one, but it is certainly worth seeing.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Whisper not, speak true...


I've been searching out this one for a long time.

The Road

Friday, May 8, 2009

Let's All Go to the Lobby!

Every May, the summer movie season kicks off and it seems that every year since the beginning of the 21st Century the first weekend of May has had a comic book property start the summer early.  This year was no exception as the horrible "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" stunk up theatres to the tune of $85 million in its first weekend.  This was easily the worst of the X-Men franchise, which amazes me because I hated "X-Men: The Last Stand."  Wolverine was two turds smothering me to death.
Thankfully, retribution can be found in the form of "Star Trek," the franchise resurrection helmed by JJ Abrams.  It wasn't until I saw the third "Star Trek" trailer that I became excited about seeing the film.  I was a fan of "The Next Generation" and have seen several of the films, but was ambivalent until I saw the latest trailer.  There's a lot of intense action and emotional weight packed into the trailer and, surprisingly, the film is the same way.  

With a running time over two hours, "Star Trek" is wall-to-wall excitement from beginning to end.  There are allusions to the original series, both subtle and overt.  More than just a prequel, the universe that Abrams creates is more of a revisionist beginning for the crew of the USS Enterprise.  Initially, I was skeptical of some of the casting choices, but every actor delivers.  Most surprisingly, I was actually impressed with the performance of Chris Pine, of "Blind Dating" and "Just My Luck" fame.  

I was very tickled with the design of the Star Fleet uniforms.  They are reminiscent of the original series, but with a style and design more fitting than the polyester one-tone shirts of the original.  Great action, great special effects, good comedy, and a great cast come together well in what's sure to be one of the biggest films of the summer.  I think it will come down to "Star Trek" and next Transformers film as the titans of the season, though Star Trek will prove to have more depth and a much more passionate following, perfectly setting up the next phase of the long running franchise.  See it, multiple times!


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Let's All Go to the Lobby!

After a lengthy dryspell without attending any screenings, I've recently hit a deluge of sneak previews.  A mixture of a lack of daytime screenings, prior engagements, and the onset of the summer blockbuster season have culminated in flood of screenings over the past couple of weeks.  Since I have a few reviews I'd like to get through, I'll keep them relatively short.

The newest Michael Caine film, "Is Anybody There?" is a cute film about a young boy who lives with his parents who operate a retirement home out of their house.  The boy is obsessed with ghosts and the afterlife while Caine is a former magician whose senility is fading.  I'd say rent it or catch it on TV.

"Lymelife" is a "coming-of-age" tale starring one of the Culkin brothers.  The story focuses on Rory Culkin as he deals with his parents' failing marriage, the changing dynamic of his socio-economic status, and his crush on longtime friend, Emma Roberts.  There's also a lyme disease scare, Cynthia Nixon's horrible New York accent, and some of the worst composition in the history of cinematography.  The story is clunky and predictable with characters who are inconsistent, unbelievable,  or totally flat.  Skip it - avoid it at all costs.

Probably one of the best films I've seen in a long time is "Sugar," the second feature from Ryan Fleck, director of "Half Nelson," and writing partner Anna Boden. "Sugar" follows the rise of a Dominican Republic baseball player who hopes to make the big leagues.  

The film is shot in a cinema vérité style and took turns I was not expecting from beginning to end.  If you enjoy baseball, you'll like the film, but I think you'll especially enjoy it if you liked "Half Nelson" as this is not what I expected next from Fleck at all.  It's somewhat daring, unconventional, and shows great promise for the young director duo.  See it.

All three films will be starting tomorrow (5/8/09) at Plaza Frontenac.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Make History

50 years ago this week, "The 400 Blows" launched the French New Wave.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cool Covers

It's like "Twins" but with two of Marvel's most popular characters:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Um...

What is this guy doing?  Stealing the shirts?  Loving them?  The world may never know...