Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wednesday Filler

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wednesday Filler


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday Filler

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday Filler

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday Filler

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wednesday Filler

"Young Justice" is coming to the Cartoon Network.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday Filler

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wednesday Filler

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Jazz Casual

Friday, July 30, 2010

Let's All Go to the Lobby!

Dinner for Schmucks

Steve Carrell and Paul Rudd goof around in this French remake directed by the man who also helmed the Austin Powers films. Rudd is a corporate hot-shot who's invited to private dinner thrown by his boss. The catch is that Rudd must bring along a 'winner' as his guest to entertain the rest of the group.

Though he's reluctant at first, Rudd relents when he meets Carrell's Barry, a nebbish, awkward fellow who takes things literally and spends his free time create mice filled dioramas. In the process, Rudd's Tim ruins his relationship with his art curator girlfriend, jeopardizes his career trajectory, and enrages a former one-night-stand. The film is filled with simple comedic bits, peppered with genuinely funny moments from Carrell and Zach Galifianakis, an IRS employee who possesses mind control abilities.

While I found the film fun and laughed quite a bit, it seemed to be more of a showcase for Carrell's goofy, slapstick humor. Rudd was bland and rather forgettable, though the supporting cast was strong with Galifianakis and Jemaine Clement providing plenty of laughs. While the end presents the moral of not using others to get ahead, which Tim learns by nearly losing his girlfriend, the film doesn't really chastise the corporate characters for the actions. Instead, in our YouTube world, the film almost makes it seem like it's natural to make fun of the different, odd, or weird. Because of that, the movie felt devoid of any real character and just a vehicle for chasing empty laughs. Skip it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cool Covers

A nice throwback to the Emerald Twilight storyline.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Friday, July 16, 2010

Let's All Go to the Lobby!


Christopher Nolan's latest film takes the viewer on a mesmerizing ride that questions reality, memory, perception and makes you wonder if your thoughts are your own.

A great ensemble cast takes up the task of trying to plant an idea in someone's mind while that person dreams. The film is tense and thought provoking, all while being an action heavy summer blockbuster. I won't go into much further detail, as most folks have already decided whether or not they will see it based on Nolan's previous work.

What I find to be interesting is the concept of the film. Infiltrating dreams seems like a standard science fiction premise. This, coupled with the magic and fantasy infused in "The Prestige," show a supernatural tendency that Nolan seems reluctant to introduce into the Batman universe he has carefully crafted five-plus years. It is intriguing that the projects that Nolan develops between bat-films feature plots that bend reality while Nolan strives to keep the Batman as realistic as possible.

"Inception" is an intense film that moves at a brisk pace from beginning to end. There are several well planned action sequences and it's the type of action film that doesn't come around very often - one that makes you think. See it.


Jean-Pierre Jeunet
brings whimsy and ephemera that lifts what could have been a bland revenge tale in "Micmacs." Bazil, a video store clerk, barely survives an errant bullet during a drive by shooting. He discovers the weapons manufacturer is the competitor of the company that produced the bomb that killed his father. Bazil then sets out to bring both companies down.

Bazil soon falls in with a street performer who introduces him to an underground group of circus-esque vagrants who pledge their support and particular skill set to help Bazil exact his revenge. Jeunet has proven his knack for utilizing quirky characters, extravagant sets, and peculiar stories in an entertaining and dazzling fashion. See it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday Filler

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

Let's All Go to the Lobby!

Despicable Me

Steve Carrell leads a comedic cast list who lend their vocals to the latest 3D animated film. While the 3D effect doesn't do much for the experience, there's little else to keep an adult audience entertained for 95 minutes. "Despicable Me" tries to do for evil villains what "The Incredibles" did for superheroes: show a human fragility behind otherwise epic feats.

The film follows Gru, a would be nefarious mastermind who finds his career being eclipsed by a young upstart known as Vector (voiced by Jason Segel). To regain his spot as an evil genius, Gru decides to shrink and steal the moon. He soon becomes saddled with three orphaned girls who complicate matters as they complicate his heart.

There isn't much plot to the film and it's riddled with weak plot devices. The overall concept is basically "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" meets "Annie" with scifi elements mixed in. The story is simple, even for a kids movie, and most of the action and the comedic lines seem to pander just to get a reaction out of the audience. I expected more, especially with Steve Carrell on board, but the film just didn't deliver. Skip it.

Casey Affleck delivers a stirring performance in an otherwise disappointing film from Michael Winterbottom. Winterbottom is a director who likes to push the envelope, challenge the audience, and open a dialogue about the film's subject matter. "The Killer Inside Me" meets all three criteria in explosive fashion.

Affleck plays Lou Ford, a deputy sheriff in a small town who's all smiles and yes, ma'am's. Throughout the film, we discover the dark persona hiding behind the sparkling eyes and wide grin. Ford has a long history of conducting physical abuse against women and he's never able to bring himself to stop, no matter the cost. The film features several visceral scenes of intense physical foreplay and sexual content. You can see Ford delights in the displays, but is tormented at the same time. By the time the film starts, he realizes he's reached a point he can't turn back from and hatches a plan to settle a grudge with the town's richest man.

There are quite a few things I like about this movie. The cast is strong, the design is flawless, the music and opening title sequence are both enthralling. Based in Texas, the film plays on the moral ambiguities prominent in the Old West and leaves the viewer with many questions. Some of those questions, however, would have been better answered in the film. Certain sequences left me puzzled and Bill Pullman's performance didn't mesh with the rest of the film. Those questions are part of the allure of the story, however, and makes it worth revisiting. See it.

Robert Rodriguez is sure to sucker a few folks into watching the newest incarnation of the Predator franchise. Going the route of Guillermo del Toro (not actually directing a film, but instead presenting or producing it), Rodriguez's Troublemaker Studios put Nimrod Antal in charge of revitalizing the property after two stalwart installments that featured the eponymous creatures facing off against the aliens from the Alien series.

Adrien Brody, with chiseled abs and grizzled voice, leads a cast of mercenaries, assassins, and all around bad people who find themselves stranded on a distant planet, hunted for sport, and limited on options. Once this ragtag group gets its bearings, they try to turn the table, to little avail. Guided either by supernatural intuition or an extremely weak script, Brody is able to discern his compatriots pasts and the Predators plans. Topher Grace plays a supporting role in the film with little to no apparent means of defending himself, let alone ability to take on creatures such as the Predators - but that doesn't stop him from being involved an extremely weak third act plot twist that soils much of the film to that point.

Luckily, there wasn't much to ruin. The structure is generic: the cast is whittled down one-by-one, plot devices are showcased in overt fashion, and the ending is confusing as it is disappointing. "Predators" had decent action and special effects, but it didn't sustain interest like the original film. The Predators weren't as frightening, the cast wasn't as engaging, the film not as good. Skip it.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wednesday Filler

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

Let's All Go to the Lobby!

Jonah Hex
With the popularity and box office successes of comic book genre films, there is a cavernous divide between the good films (The Dark Knight, X2, Iron Man) and the terrible films (Steel, Catwoman, Ghost Rider). Joining the latter list of films is "Jonah Hex."

The continued success of mainstream comic book titles like Batman and Spider-Man allows for lesser known properties to be acquired by studios and fast-tracked into production. Occasionally, small press or alt-comic titles will transition well and become crossover successes (Ghost World, Wanted, American Splendor). With a major studio's propensity to snatch up the rights to any title it views to have big returns, some films are rushed into development, forced into production, and crafted with disregard for crucial elements (plot, editing, actors). Because of this, "Jonah Hex" fails on several fronts and the end product is wholly dissatisfying.

There isn't much to be said about this movie that isn't disparaging. Josh Brolin plays Hex and his makeup looks good. I don't know what John Malkovich is trying to convey through his performance (grumble, grumble, kill 'em!), and Megan Fox can't act to save her thumbs. What Michael Shannon, Will Arnett, and Aidan Quinn were thinking of when they signed onto this film is beyond me.

The plot is simple enough: a confederate solider, Turnbull (Malkovich), wants to exact revenge on the US during centennial celebrations. He steals a doomsday-type weapon and plans to lay waste to the Capitol. The only person who can stop him is Hex because Hex killed Turnbull's son, who in turn murdered Hex's family and scarred his face.

The story forgoes much of Hex's comic-inspired origin; the screenwriters (of Crank fame) opt instead to create their own. This includes granting Hex some zombie conversation powers. In addition, the script is filled with such inane dialogue, contrived plot devices, and barely there essence it makes a SyFy film strong in comparison. At a crisp 81 minutes, there's little time for exposition, just choppy action sequence after surreal metaphor-ish fight scene between Turnbull and Hex after washed-out close-up of Fox. Skip it.

Jesse Eisenberg continues his ascent to the top of quality young actors with a tender portrayal of a Hasidic Jew in New York during the late 90s. Eisenberg plays Sam Gold, a young man who lives with his parents, works at his father's shop and hopes to marry soon and strike out on his own.

When things don't go his way, he falls in with his neighbor's older brother who has been moving ecstasy pills to New York from Europe. Sam quickly ingratiates himself into the drug cartel, helping with numbers and making deals happen, recruiting new kids into the ring, and wearing new sneakers.

The film follows the standard trek of a drug film: new kid in the business, makes an impression, then reaches a point of no return. In spite of the Jewish slant, the film doesn't breach any new ground. Eisenberg delivers a fine performance, but seems to be riding his shtick as far is it can take him. "Holy Rollers" is an interesting film, but not an exciting one. Rent it.

Michael Douglas delivers a stand-out performance as a charming, slick horn dog who can't get his act together or keep his hands to himself. Douglas plays a former car salesman who tried to cheat the books, got busted, developed a heart condition and is now trying to get his life back in order. He plays every angle, takes everyone for granted, and looks to satisfy his most basic needs.

In some regards, this character seems like a continuation of, or parallel to, Gordon Gekko from Wall Street. No expense is too big, no woman unattainable, no matter what the cost. He scorns his daughter, his grandson, and his friends because he looks out for himself and he seems very content with that. There are moments during the film where that facade fades, his guard is let down, and there's a hint of redemption, but Douglas shrugs it off and presses on, unfazed.

The ensemble cast is deep and the performances are strong, though they pale in comparison to Douglas'. Sure, it boils down to pretty people with problems, but Douglas plays the part with such charisma that he's hard to resist and even harder to root against. While the end of the film is ambiguous, I found it tough not to root for Douglas in hopes that he got his act together. See it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Off the Shelf

Captain America: Truth
One of the more interesting retcon stories produced by either Marvel or DC, "Truth" looks at the development of the super soldier program and the creation of Captain America. The revelation, however, is that Steve Rogers wasn't the first Star-Spangled Avenger. The original origin of Captain America saw Steve Rogers selected to be the recipient of an experimental serum that would make him the ultimate combatant. For centuries, this stood as the extent of the genesis of Marvel's ultimate hero.

That is until Robert Morales and Kyle Baker developed Truth. They delved into the history of Captain America and exposed the ugly history of how Steve Rogers became who he is. Instead of Rogers walking into an army recruiter's office and becoming a military superman, Morales and Baker show that the super soldier program was in development for years and Rogers wasn't the first recipient of the serum.

While I initially had a negative reaction towards the prospect of this scenario, I quickly realized that it made sense. America was in the throes of war and in Marvel's comic book world, heroes were needed to gain an advantage. In the volatile racial climate the nation was in, blond-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian weaklings would not be the a guinea pig for unproven, radical experimentation.

Enter the segregated African-American regiments of the US Army. As the best and brightest were screened through, experimented on, disfigured, lied to and essentially abandoned on suicide mission after suicide mission, an ugly realization came upon me: if such a program existed, this is exactly how it would operate.

Morales does a great job of tying in factual events, themes, and sentiments of the period. It really brings the book to life and makes it scarily realistic. Where the book lacked was art: Kyle Baker has a long history in comics and has several historical perspective/commentary works to his credit. For such a stark, chilling tale, however, his cartoony approach didn't mesh with the subject matter. Thankfully, it doesn't distract from the overall story and is not a hinderance when read in the graphic novel format.

"Truth" is an important book in many regards. It injects a hard, disturbing reality into the Captain America mythology and it instills a relevance and appreciation that Steve Rogers had previously been lacking. With a Captain America film in the works, it would be great to see this story incorporated into the script, even if just a subtle nod to the fans, but more so to those in the real world who have been sacrificed at the expense of progress.

Henry & Glenn Forever
This mini-comic proposes an amusing premise, but the allure quickly fades after the first couple of pages. Setup as a sitcom scenario, it features Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig as roommates (maybe more?) living next door to noted Satanists Hall & Oates. Forever contains one page comics, diary excerpts, and little else. While it's fun to imagine such an arrangement existing, the loose narrative created a clunky story that left me unfulfilled. As even Rollins himself quipped, "Has Glenn seen this? Trust me, he would not be impressed."

Jeffrey Brown's latest release is a collection of small-release, little seen work. Switching back-and-forth between various publications, the anthology holds together well and is a fun read. Brown is in an interesting artist. In the case of some contemporaries, anthologies such as this will show a real progression over the course of the work. Brown's art remains relatively unchanged over the decade or so range and his wit, paranoia, and demeanor stayed the same. Brown's work is always fun to read, very personal, and serves as a great mirror unto the reader. He's embraced the medium of comic storytelling well and is a prolific creator. "Undeleted Scenes" is an enter

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wednesday Filler

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Let's All Go to the Lobby!

It's a big box office weekend for the 1980s as two prominent properties square off for your nostalgic lust. Before you pay out of pocket to revisit the past, be prepared for one thing: you'll need to divorce yourself from the memories and affections you had for both franchises.

The A-Team
For a sloppy, ham-fisted action film, "The A-Team" is a mediocre movie with a mess in several regards (plot, choreography, direction). As a big screen adaptation of a popular TV show, it's a despicable pillaging and stereotyping of an iconic program. After watching the film, I approached it from two angles: big screen adaptation and blockbuster summer flick. Thoroughly, it failed on both fronts.

Over the course of a television series, characters develop personalities beyond what was originally recognizable to separate all of the actors. For a two hour film, however, the essences of the original A-Team were boiled down, stripped away, and given generic, staid traits that only hint at the series. Instead of being developed with a resourceful Hannibal (while being charismatic to boot), goofy yet misunderstood Murdoch (and endearingly so), hard-nosed B.A. Baracus (but a compassionate man just the same), and the charming Face (a Casanova if there ever were one). Each character undergoes a revamp and only certainly traits remain and are amplified to satisfy a hungry (albeit simpleton) summer audience: Hannibal always has a plan, Murdoch is crazy, B.A. is a badass (unless he's without his mo-hawk), and Face is a womanizer.

The plot for the film encompasses an origin of sorts. It reveals how the group came together, completed impossible mission after impossible mission, and eventually found themselves double-crossed and as escaped convicts. The plot is generic, following the A-Team through Baghdad in pursuit of US currency plates before they fall into the wrong hands. The team is soon outwitted and accused of treason with no hope of redemption.

Cue the explosions and reality defying escapes! The action sequences border on the boring. Fight scenes are so poorly shot and executed that the muddled editing drove me crazy. There were times I could not even look at the screen because it was becoming a jumbled mess. It's a frustrating movie-going experience, and a disappointing one at that. Skip it.

This remake takes indulgence to a whole new level. Will Smith produced the film so his son, Jaden, could play a star-making role. While the young Smith delivers an engaging performance, the film is two hours and 20 minutes of montages, overriding musical score, and cliched storytelling (aside from the fact that it's a remake).

Jaden plays Dre Parker, a recent transplant from Detroit to China, and studies kung fu instead of karate. In spite of the original script, 12 year-old Jaden develops a crush on a classmate and certain montages depict the blossoming relationship. I've never felt more uncomfortable than when watching two kids kiss each other knowing full well it should be Ralph Macchio and Elizabeth Shue instead.

"The Karate Kid" isn't a terrible film. It just lacks the depth the original possessed. Jaden Smith has the ability to be a fine young actor, but his involvement seems forced and incongruous with the original concept for the film. Had it lost the the romantic interest slant and shaved 40 or so minutes from the running time, I wouldn't be thinking I should have seen Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage instead. Skip it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wednesday Filler

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?!v=FPvOthnDj6I

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cool Covers

It's Amalgam Month!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Let's All Go to the Lobby!

A sci-fi thriller tries to get philosophical but comes across creepy. Two pop scientists specialize in hybrid DNA technologies but soon find themselves parents to a freak of scientific nature. Hilarity ensues. Adrien Brody has sex twice during the film, and that's not even the creepiest part. Skip it.

Get Him To The Greek
Jonah Hill is fat, Russell Brand is not funny, and together they deliver nearly two hours of boring narcissism. The self-indulgent nature of the film is hidden behind a pretentious facade of tongue-in-cheek satire and parody. Hill creates a few genuinely funny moments, but proves he is unable to lead a film. Russell Brand must be an acquired taste - one I have yet to find. Sean Combs must have had some grade A handlers on set pampering that massive ego. He can't act and this film isn't entertaining. Skip it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wednesday Filler

Battle of the Planets - never going to happen...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?!v=8-qOzAWyRx4

Monday, May 31, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Let's All Go to the Lobby!

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Disney doles out yet another sandals and swords epic on a wearied audience. Jake Gyllenhaal shuffles through two hours of sand in this video game adaptation. That phrase should be enough to stop you: "video game adaptation." Has that ever really worked? I know critics were skeptical of comic book adaptations for being nothing more than fanboy fluff pieces, but some strong work has risen above the genre. When I think of video game movies, nothing great comes to mind. Any suggestions?

The film is set in Persia, where people speak with British accents. Gyllenhaal plays a man, Dastan, who used to be a street urchin until he was adopted by the king of Persia. Dastan finds a mystic knife that can turn back time for whoever bears the knife. He slowly realizes a plot formulated by his uncle to take over the throne and Dastan sets out to stop him.

The special effects in this film seem to be almost second rate when compared to films which have come out in the last year (Avatar, District 9, Iron Man 2). For a Disney production with so much invested into it, one would think the production value would be just a bit more developed. Gemma Arterton does her best to convince American audiences to care about her, but it will be difficult to disregard her sandals and swords fetish.

The film is rather droll and doesn't really engage the viewer. It's the standard 'hero discovering his destiny' plot, with a little parkour mixed in to dazzle the younger crowd. Alfred Molina was welcomed as comic relief and he really gives a great performance no matter what kind of character he's tasked with embodying (An Education, Spider-Man 2, Boogie Nights, Coffee and Cigarettes). Overall, however, there isn't enough to fully enthrall the viewer: the story lacks depth, the actors don't seem to take their roles seriously, the British accents are unforgivable, and the special effects are lacking. Skip it.

a preview of the new film, "Micmacs" directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Off the Shelf

AUGUST 18, 32 PAGES / FC, $2.99
It’s all been leading up to this: Invincible vs. Thragg, one-on-one! It’s the fight to end all fights, and the fate of the entire universe hangs in the balance. Whatever you do, don’t miss this issue!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What Shapes A Young Brian Spath?!v=q5j03W2xuwA

Monday, May 24, 2010