Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hey, Blogger...Two letters...F.U.

So, Blogger Beta is out of Beta, right?
Everyone's supposed to be able to use the new system. Right?
Apparently, one or more of my blogs (likely this one, Ain't Insane Chatters Neat, Happy Hour and maybe my personal photoblog) contain too many posts to migrate to the new blogger. Which was supposed to change AS SOON AS THEY TOOK IT OUT OF BETA.
I believe the words I want to use to describe the folks at blogger are FUCKING ASSHATS. Geez. Is it out of Beta or not???

My guess is a resounding "NOT!".

Friday, December 22, 2006

Some days, I'm glad I live in a cave...

Otherwise, I'd have heard about a live-action remake of A Year Without a Santa Claus.

Something tells me I'd have gone on a rampage.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Best music video I've seen all year


"Window in the Skies" by U2

This really is a beautiful video. It doesn't hurt that the song is hopeful and transcendent sounding, but the mash-up of all the artists just makes this a celebration of music.
Great stuff.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The continuing saga of the Velvet Underground record...

from CNN:
Apparently, the winning bidder doesn't have the money. Back to square one. Penn Jillette, where are you???

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

An Early Christmas Gift for All of You...

via my e-buddy Jarrette, who killed me 13 times at Halo...

A Charlie Brown Christmas as performed by the cast of Scrubs.
Absolutely wonderful.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Adam's read Pro-Life?!?

This is taken partially from a comment I left on Drew McWeeny's blog. I've expanded it...a little.
The odd thing is, when I wrote my review of PRO-LIFE, I didn't talk about the acting, the direction or the FX work.
I just whined about the writing. When, in fact, it's not the writers' fault that the production schedule is so short and the budget is so tiny. The constraints of a budget are necessary, but occasionally they suck.
Here, they mostly sucked.
The acting in the episode was damn good. I might not have bought the father in the clinic with his wife and daughter. But that made his demise all the more satisfying for me. Perlman is gold even in the shitty Sci-Fi Originals he seems to be the star of half of, and in PRO-LIFE, you guys gave him some actual meat to chew on. He had to make an unsympathetic character human, and he did it with ease.
The direction by Carpenter was everything I expect out of a John Carpenter film. It might not be flashy and jump-cutty and it might not scream "Ooh, Ma! I'm a DIRECTOR now!". However, the man has skills. And he does the job better than almost anyone in the business. Yes, John Carpenter has made a dud or two. But even his failures are interesting to watch, and Pro-Life is no exception.
The FX work? Daaaaaaaaaamn. On a budget, KNB always impresses. If they'd had the time and money to deliver all the extra kills? I don't know that we'd be able to handle the bloodbath. In particular, the abrupt end of Sam shows just how damn disgusting these guys can be on no cash whatsoever.

Well, now I've read the script, thanks to McWeeny posting it on the web. The script has most of the payoff that's not in the episode, and it does it as old-school as possible. Showing things isn't nearly as effective as hinting at them. They knew they were working on a tight budget, and with little or no time. So, they kept as much as possible hidden.
The script plays coy with the viewer, not giving them a good look at the Father until it's time for Dwayne to shuffle off this mortal coil. The writers will just as soon have someone expire off-screen with a terrified, cut-off scream as they will show you a blood fountain when someone gets shot in the neck.
There's a douchebag over in the comments on Drew's blog who literally makes a laundry list of all the things he saw wrong with Pro-Life. Suffice it to say, I'd like to not be that douchebag. Then again, I paid attention to the episode and 1) understood that Dr Morgan's office wasn't very near to where Angelique was giving birth. Or 2) that Dr Morgan was kind of twitchy and had collected an arsenal to protect his VERY REMOTELY LOCATED clinic (Which is why 3) cell phones wouldn't work. As to why the land lines wouldn't, the douche really should have watched the episode.). And yes, 4) abortion clinics operate on skeleton staffs -- not a lot of people want to work there, and it's not safe to have large numbers of people in the place when certain groups are trying to infiltrate them, much as animal testing facilities keep personnel to a minimum.
If nothing else, reading the script has given me a bit of an education at how things can change in the course of production. And how money (or a lack of it) can drive creative decisions on a film. Comparing and contrasting the written page to the finished product is always interesting. And with a bit of feedback from one of the creators, the level of insight is enlightening to say the least.
As McWeeny said on his blog, "I wish it could have been a half-hour longer and that we had another $2 million to spend." With the extra running time, and with a slightly higher budget, Pro-Life could have been polished from a flawed rock into a gem.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Where have all the headlines gone?

Well, I've been toying with some changes to the ol' blog, and one of them was bringing back the old feature of posting headlines, occasionally with my pissed-off commentary.
Since I set up a forum (that no one uses), I've been putting them there.
If you were to WANT to check them out, head over to the forum. You can even REGISTER. And POST your own links/rants/etc.
Have I mentioned that there's a forum?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Inland Empire trailer!


Possibly the Coolest eBay Auction of All Time

from Evan Dorkin:

Someone is selling what truly does appear to be the acetate of the original sessions/mix of Andy Warhol Presents the Velvet Underground and Nico.
The saying that "Only a thousand people ever bought the record when it came out, but each of those thousand founded a band" is pretty close to true. This could quite possibly be one of the most important musical finds in the history of rock, and why a label hasn't snapped this up and released it (or why Penn Jillette hasn't gotten his greedy lil' paws on it) just boggles the mind.
Let's hope this can be cleaned up and released on CD (and vinyl) for future generations. Then, put the record into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Like Dubya? You might just be...INSANE!!!

A reader named Lee Graham sent this in. Consider me amused. (And thank you, Lee!!!)

Are George W. Bush lovers certifiable? by Andy Bromage (New Haven Advocate)
Read it. Love it. Use it to bash your favorite neocon.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

New film from the makers of Infernal Affairs!!!

from The Aspect Ratio:

傷城 (Confession of Pain)
directors: Wai Keung Lau & Siu Fai Mak
writer: Felix Chung
stars: Tony Leung Kar-Fai, Takashi Kaneshiro, Shu Qui, Chapman To, Emme Wong

Consider this on my radar. Big time. I have to check eDay to see when it's available on DVD.

Here's the trailer:

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Adam Aborts Masters of Horror: Pro-Life

Showtime's Masters of Horror series has been a mixed bag, but I really did enjoy John Carpenter's first outing Cigarette Burns.
When I heard his newest episode was called Pro-Life, I was extremely hopeful that it would surpass his original effort.
The subject of abortion is touchy at best. However, writers Drew McWeeney and Scott Swan (who also penned Cigarette Burns) have depoliticized the issue, focussing on the horror aspect of it. A girl (Caitlin Wachs) takes refuge in a remote abortion clinic, claiming to have been raped and wanting to have the child aborted.
Her father (Ron Perlman), a rabid pro-life activist, shows up at the gates of the clinic, demanding his child back. Perlman's character thinks of himself as a man of faith, and a voice has been telling him to "protect the baby".
What he doesn't know is that the voice ain't God's.
Speeding up considerably from the deliberate pacing of Cigarette Burns, Pro-Life moves at a nearly breakneck pace. The standoff occurs almost in real-time, with things going from bad to worse to downright fucking horrific at a lightning pace. Mistakes are made. Blood (a lot of it) is shed.
This episode is half action movie, half monster movie. Writing-wise, there are a lot of loose ends. Most of them don't really matter, but they do exist. For instance, once the invasion of the clinic starts, certain people just sort of disappear. One of their number might get killed, and then we don't see any more of them. Say, for instance, a pair of clinic employees watch the Father of the baby arrive at the clinic, and then we just don't see them for the rest of the movie. Or, hell, Ron Perlman's character faces the Father...and nothing. He just simply isn't around. No scream offscreen to denote he's dead. Not even a thumping sound effect. Am I to believe that the Father simply let him be?
Considering how good Cigarette Burns was, I'm disappointed with Pro-Life. The pacing was good, the dialogue was decent, but too many loose ends trip up the ending. A decent concept that just doesn't live up to my expectations, Pro-Life is more of a miscarriage than an abortion.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Borat coverage never ends!!!

from CNN:

Proving that there's no bad publicity, a Kazakh novelist has nominated Sacha Baron Cohen for an arts award in Kazakhstan.
Freaking awesome.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Adam Goes All-In at Casino Royale

I grew up watching James Bond films. In fact, my first coherent memory is watching a double feature of You Only Live Twice and Live and Let Die at the drive-in.
To say I have a deep, abiding love for Bond would be an understatement. Strangely, I've never picked up the books, even though the reissues are absolutely gorgeous. I've never opened a Bond novel. I'd like to. I just never get around to it.
I can't judge any of the Bond movies based on the novels. However, I'd have to agree with many of the criticisms leveled at the series in its lifetime.
Roger Moore, though suave, was too old by far in his first movie, and was positively ancient by the time he did his last. Therefore, his Bond was hardly palatable to action movie junkies. He got by an smarm and cheeky humor.
Yes, Connery was the best Bond. Why? Because you believed he could be a badass. You believed that he's shoot a guy in the face if he looked at him wrong. You believed that Connery's Bond was dangerous.
George Lazenby? Well, he could have been groomed for the role. But his head got too big too fast, and he was gone faster than he was on the scene.
Timothy Dalton never got a fair shake. He was the heir apparent before Moore...but the producers decided not to cast him because of his youth (bad move, since it doomed us to over a decade of Roger Moore smirking and ever-goofier movies). His two outings as Bond threatened to turn the franchise on its ear and bring us a gritty, realistic Bond.
Something went wrong and the series went right back to utter wackiness when Pierce Brosnan took over the tux. His movies (up until the utterly dreadful Die Another Day weren't BAD. But they just weren't right for the times, and they were getting way too ludicrous for theatrical audiences to believe. Never mind that JJ Abrams and crew were out-Bonding Bond's ancient ass twenty-four times a year on Alias... Or that Kiefer Sutherland reinvented the secret agent hero on 24...
Something needed to be done.

And they've finally gone and done it.
Casino Royale not only redefines the character of James Bond and reintroduces him to the viewing public, but it does it so damn well you'll wonder why they didn't do movies like this to begin with.
Gone are all the gadgets. The wristwatches with ray guns... The jet packs... The magical devices that were the only reason that Bond made it through the mission.
Now, Bond has to rely on his wits. Finally, we get a Bond who can accomplish a mission on his own. A smart Bond.
He's not always smart, though. From the very beginning (a stylish black and white intro that sees James earning his 00 status), we see that Bond has a problem with taking things too personally. Letting his ego get in the way of the job. He's ruthless, yes. But he miscalculates occasionally because he overestimates himself.

M (Judi Dench, the only returning actor from the previous outing) hates his guts. With good reason. He causes an international embarrassment of her department while on assignment. He breaks into her home and announces he's discovered her real name (then almost calls her it out of spite). He hacks into her computer and uses her access to get the information he needs.
When she finally catches up with him (after ANOTHER international incident, this time in America), she's so fed up with him that she implants a tracking chip in him so that she can keep track of his comings and goings.
The two of them have a lot of baggage between them already, and this is his FIRST ASSIGNMENT! Sure, M realizes Bond's intelligence and his willingness to get the job done, but she abhors his methods. Especially when they involve invading her personal space and computer accounts.

There's no threat to destroy the world this time out. There's no ridiculous spy organization. No grand supervillain who will reveal his plot to Bond by telling him all about it.
It was always convenient in the previous Bond formula to have other characters reveal all of the details of what was happening. No more.
Bond actually has to find things out for himself. He's a spy, after all. He investigates things. He tracks people. He uncovers information. And he kicks ass. When push comes to shove, this is a Bond who'll be shoving back. Hard.
The level of violence in this film is kicked up several notches from anything you've seen in the franchise before. The fights are fast, brutal and real. Bond gets just as good as he gives. At several points in this movie, Bond is either beaten down or near death. And he just keeps going. Because it's his job.

The most obvious villain this time out is Le Chiffre [literally French for "The Quantifyer" or "The Calculator"] (Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, who you might remember from King Arthur...or not). He's a banker for terrorists, dictators and insurgencies. He invests their ill-gotten gains and makes their funds available to them worldwide.
Bond screws things up for Le Chiffre, via is actions in Africa, the Bahamas and the US. So, when Le Chiffre invites a group of high rollers to the Casino Royale in Montenegro for a high stakes hold 'em game (Yeah, I know it's supposed to be Baccarat. But poker's hot now. And you five card draw lovers can suck it, too.), Bond gets sent. He's not only the best poker player in Her Majesty's secret service, he's already got a score to settle with the host.

Did I say "most obvious villain"? Hmm. Yes, I did. Because Le Chiffre really isn't the villain. Nor are the African terrorists whose $100 million he's just lost. Hell, I don't know if the final villain in the movie is the real villain. Because this movie's just not so black and white as everything you've seen before. There are layers to criminal enterprises, and there's always someone willing to fill the vacuum when one layer gets peeled away (something they actually illustrate in the film).

Vesper Lynd, an MI-6 accountant, is sent along to oversee Her Majesty's money. She's played by the uber-gorgeous Eva Green (The Dreamers, Kingdom of Heaven), which means that you don't need whiz bang gadgets and special effects any more. You can just stare at her. Vesper is every bit a match for Bond intellectually, summed up in their first meeting on the train to Montenegro. And she's just as emotionally guarded as him.
She's not prepared for the stakes they're playing for, though. And when confronted with the violence that follows James around, she breaks. Bond sees her fragility and doesn't see it as a weakness. And he drops his guard.
Bond's always been portrayed as rather cavalier with his affections. He'll bed pretty much any woman to get the information he needs. And then he'll just move on. They tried to change this in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, but the experiment failed thanks to Lazenby.
Through the beginning of Casino Royale, Bond is even more rakish. He has a predilection for married women because of the danger involved. And he has zero guilt putting the fairer sex into harm's way if it means getting the job done.
That all changes with Vesper. Bond becomes emotional and vulnerable for the first time. And where it puts him at the end of the film is a great new beginning for this classic character.

Lots of fanboy whining was concentrated around the casting of Daniel Craig as Bond. Oddly enough, most of it was because he's blond. Why that matters, I have no idea. If it was THAT important, they could have just dyed his hair.
Simply put, Craig was the best actor for the part. If you haven't seen Road to Perdition, Layer Cake or Munich yet, get your ass to the video store. Not only does Craig have all the chops to act circles around his competition, he can channel pure machismo in a way unseen since Connery in his heyday. I actually came away from watching Layer Cake telling people, "If they don't cast this guy as the next Bond, they're fucking stupid."
Let me type this big enough for everyone in the cheap seats. DANIEL CRAIG MIGHT WELL BE THE BEST JAMES BOND YET.
Yeah. I went there. I don't believe that this is the best of the Bond films. But Craig certainly brings all manner of new (and welcome) depth to the role.

I haven't mentioned the writing yet. Nor have I mentioned how thoroughly I despise and detest the work of Paul Haggis. He's ruined the last part of Clint Eastwood's directing career (Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers) and fooled the Oscars into thinking he was relevant (Crash). I didn't hate The Last Kiss earlier this year, though (I think mainly because of the actors involved) and now I out and out loved a movie he'd written the final pass on (the script is also credited to Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (who previously wrote The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day). Frankly, based on the writing staff alone, I should have avoided this movie like the plague.
Consider me pleasantly surprised by their efforts.
The humor in the film is largely referential of other Bond films and the tired conventions of the series. These guys seem to get it that certain things weren't working and needed to be changed. And it appears that they've changed it all for the better.

Martin Campbell's a competent workman director, and he manages to keep things not only moving at a breakneck pace, but coherent. He's no artist, but this isn't art. This is pulp entertainment at its best.

Casino Royale is not only a dramatic and welcome re-invention of my favorite super spy, it's a kick-ass film that stands on its own merits. It may not be the Bond I grew up with. It may not be exactly like the book. But I'm more than happy to announce to the world that Bond is back. The way he should be
Human. Flawed. Vulnerable. Ruthless. Efficient. Bond. James Bond.

Weirdness: Dating Site for Geeks

via Wired:
It had to happen...

Really. Not faking. It's a real site.
I guess it exists for those few geeks out there too shy to go to a convention.

The Internet's Not All Porn!

via Wired:
Only 1% of it, actually.
And the best part? This was a federally-funded study that was supposed to reinforce the threat to children that the Justice Department was claiming to reinforce and continue the Children's Online Protection Act of 1998 (a law that, at the time, I loudly protested was not only unnecessary but a threat to our online freedoms).
Of course, others may disagree:

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Zodiac trailer KILLS!

via TheMovieBox.Net:
Right Click and Save As, baby!
Robert Downey Jr is on some kind of roll lately. Can he do any wrong?
March cannot come fast enough.

Bad Taste, They Name is OJ

via CNN:

To say that this book would be in bad taste at any time, even posthumously, would be an understatement.
That's really all I have to say.

Fred Claus trailer on MySpace

People who REALLY know me know what a sucker I am for Christmas. So, I wanna see this. Really bad. Paul Giamatti and Vince Vaughn??? I am SO there...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Meet the Real People in Borat

Newsweek has a slim, but interesting article on the ways that the Borat crew inveigled their victims.
However, thanks to idiots online, the article's suggestion of googling Lawrence Wenngrodd does absolutely no good any more. Dammit. I was hoping for more insight into the production's methods.
CNN also has a story about the humiliation that some of the subjects have experienced.
I don't know about you folks, but I'd really like to see more about how they managed to pull this off. As ludicrous as some of the situations that Borat got himself into, it took some stones on Cohen's part to pull them off.
However, I believe that if anyone's embarassed by the film, it's their own fault. Cohen feeds them the rope they hang themselves with, but anyone who says (drunk or not) that we should return to the days of slavery or that all homosexuals should be hanged is making their own bad self look dumb as a box of rocks.
Instead of suing Sacha Baron Cohen, perhaps they might want to get an education.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bill Maher outs RNC chair Ken Mehlman

from Wonkette

Now, when is Karl Rove (aka "Miss Piggy") coming forward?

I'm adding a Frappr map to Neurotrash

Feel free to play on it as you will. There'll be a permanent link in the sidebar.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Adam Doesn't Quite Believe America: Freedom to Fascism

finally complete!

directed by Aaron Russo
available on DVD from Aaron Russo Productions

Conspiracy theories are often dismissed as batshit crazy. Mainly because so damn many of them ARE batshit crazy.
The IRS and the Federal Reserve are frequent targets of conspiracy theorists, particularly from the libertarian fringe. Why? Because the IRS sucks the life out of the American people. That's a given.
Aaron Russo says some interesting things with his documentary America: Freedom to Fascism. However, he also fumbles around blindly without doing his homework.
Russo opens a dialogue about why there's no law establishing the Income Tax. The problem is, he doesn't actually do the research. He expects everyone around him to do it for him. The graduated income tax (an imperfect system) is not a law, it's an IRS regulation. Just as there's no law that says you can't say "fuck" on live television. That's an FCC regulation.
The Constitution of the United States gives the Federal Government the right to regulate interstate commerce and to levy taxes. Sorry, but it's there.
He forgets that the Federal Reserve was a solution to banks issuing their own currency, instead implying that the system itself allows for what it replaced. Getting off of the gold standard (which was itself arbitrary and made the US dependent on other countries for its financial well-being) was a GOOD thing. It allowed the US economy to grow, unfettered from dependency on the (arbitrary and fake) value of gold. Gold is NOT real money. The US currency is tied to the GDP of the US economy, meaning that in years that the US does well (you know, the pre-Bush years), the value of the dollar rises compared to other countries' currencies.
Russo also attempts to tackle the issue of RFID chips and the Real ID Act. However, his response is that people shouldn't accept the cards -- forgetting that such an act would (of course) incite the government.
Russo makes the mistake of including the infamous Florida tazing footage where the woman overacts horribly trying to make a scene and elicit sympathy. Considering that, if he had access to that footage, Russo also had access to the footage of the police explaining the entire incident (including her beginning to scream only AFTER the tazing was over).
The electronic voting scandal is touched upon, but Russo doesn't give any evidence. Instead, he just says there was "irrefutable evidence" of a miscount in Cuyahoga County (forgetting that Kerry WON Cuyahoga). I don't trust Diebold (How can you trust a company whose CEO pledges to "deliver" an election to his favored candidate?), but Russo misses the point.
The whole thing is of course a huge diatribe on the New World Order conspiracy that the Black Helicopter crowd wants to fight against. I'm surprised Russo doesn't wear a tin foil hat throughout the film.
I really could rant more, but I won't. The whole film, while watchable and occasionally interesting, lapses into faux patriotic silliness. It's a brave attempt, but it fails pretty miserably.
Skip it.

Borat Is Finally Upon Us!!! NICE!!!

My wireless is acting up...and only with I've been forced to hoof it and find other places to post from...good times...
Footage from the premeire:

Borat not just big reporter in Kazakhstan. He also number one recording artist in all of Kazakhstan.

Before coming to US of A for reportings, Borat do reportings in UK. You watch!

Great Political Satire? Or Shape of Things to Come?

from Washington Post via Wonkette:

Great stuff -- and done by the same creative genius who did the Shining parody trailer that was such a viral hit last October. (Be sure to check out his excellent Blue Velvet and Fast and the Furious trailers, too!)

A Political Ad That You Should See

Veterans. Taking it to the streets to let people know why our involvement in Iraq has only made things worse.
Find out more at

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

ANOTHER New Tenacious D Music Video

This might sound familiar, since it's the same song in the European trailer. "Classico" by the D, directed by John K.

Monday, October 23, 2006

First Four Minutes of Borat Online! You Watch!

I keep telling people that the trailers don't really show the punchlines to the jokes in Borat.
Trust me. You must see this movie. Even if you think you'll be offended. ESPECIALLY if you think you'll be offended. Your sensibilities could use an adjustment.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny VERY Red Band-ish Trailer

Not for the kiddies' ears, folks. Tenacious D vs Johann Sebastian Bach

Borat Appears on Comedy Central's Night of Too Many Stars!

Too funny.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

NT Message Board Open!

Yes, that's right. We now have a message board (the aforementioned secret link thingy). I think I've got most everything the way I want it.
Register. Rant. Respond.

Let the games begin.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Find the Secret Linky-Thing!

If you haven't noticed, I'm in the midst of a bit of an overhaul of the ol' blog. Throwing away a few things here and there, adding some new fun hotness. Included amongst all this mess is a SUPER SECRET FORUM. No, I'm not talking about the little message board widget in the sidebar.
See if you can find it. Pretty much anyone with a brain can.

Friday, October 13, 2006

More Deleted Scenes from Borat! You Watch!


Borat try to get puppy to protect him from the Jew.
Dinner Prayer

Borat make blessing for new friends meal party.
German trailer

Borat make trailer in German. He very smart.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I Love Google Adsense

I didn't click on it. I'm such a pussy.

BORAT Deleted Scenes -- Is Nice!

I know you all wait for sexy time with Borat. Don't worry. I bring you for free some deleted scenes courtesy of the TubeYou. Please release my krum.

Borat questions expert food authority at grocery store about American coffee and rice.

Borat discuss gonorrhea with his American physician. He popular with the ladies! NICE!

Borat pulled over in Dallas by American detecives. He warn of danger if they invade his anus, as Borat has consume many Cinnabon.

Borat meet American official greeters Minutemen at Arizona border and taken to prison for make sexy time in the showers. You enjoy!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Urgent Action Needed

I'll leave it to Douglas Rushkoff to sound the call to arms.
Robert Anton Wilson is a great man, and a great author. Now's time to step up, folks.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Adam Make Great Review of New Borat Movie...Is Nice!

I've never been to a movie screening where only thirteen people showed up.
Sure, there were tons of things going on in CBus a week ago. There was Tool over at Nationwide Arena (spitting distance from the theater). Trick Daddy on campus. Being a Thursday, I'm sure there were about 700 keggers as well.
Still...thirteen people??? That's really no excuse. Especially when that wee handful of dedicated folk were treated to the funniest damn movie of the year.
That's right. We watched Borat.

Sascha Baron Cohen is one of the most insanely hilarious people alive. The word "genius" gets bandied about too frequently these days, but he truly deserves it. Some of the insanity he got away with on Da Ali G Show was not only inspired and hysterical, but relevant and downright important. That he did it all in character with a perfectly straight face was amazing.
Borat was my favorite of his three characters on Da Ali G Show. Sure, Bruno usually humiliated people more and Ali got the most high-profile interviews. But the dimwitted TV host from Kazakhstan was the guy who could go to a country bar and get the rednecks to sing a chorus of "Throw the Jew Down the Well". Borat embodies an innocence that's necessary to find truth. Sometimes the truth is ugly, and unless we confront it we can never cleanse our hands of it.
Borat as a character is satire at its purest form, with all the wit of Swift and the amazing physical humor of Danny Kaye. He's a loveable idiot who somehow manages to outwit every single person he meets. Borat exposes intolerance with comedy.
Can you tell I'm a fan?
My expectations for this movie were set impossibly high.
Throw in the hype of the current imbroglio with the government of Kazakhstan wanting to meet with President Bush over the movie (how many comedians cause an honest to goodness international incident???), and the bar just went higher.

Hot damn, does the movie deliver.

We begin in Borat's home village in Kazakhstan. We get to meet his family, his asshole neighbor and the village rapist. Etc. Etc.
From what I'm to understand, it's the depiction of the Kazakhs as a bunch of backward twits barely out of the Stone Age what has the government of Kazakhstan gunning for this movie. Strange that I've never heard the government of Poland protesting about all the damn Polack jokes out there, but I digress.
I happen to have relatives from Eastern Europe. The civilized part of Eastern Europe. Still, I've heard stories from the ones who've come to visit. Heard things that made me believe Hostel could have been a true story. I'm sure Kazakhstan is nice (just like I'm sure that Tom Cruise is totally sane and lucid). However, that whole region has the reputation of being exactly what it's portrayed as: technologically backward, unfriendly to women and intolerant of other peoples.
The issue of anti-semetism in Borat is also utterly ludicrous. As we all know, Sasha Baron Cohen is a Jew. Borat's anti-semetic views were always showed to be spawned of ignorance, making him more of a boob. In the film, they highlight the issue in such a way that hopefully makes some people rethink their bigotry. Of course, since bigots aren't the brightest bulbs on the Christmas tree, I'm not entirely hopeful about that.
If the government of Kazakhstan wants to improve their image in the eyes of the world, perhaps they should improve their country instead of attacking comedians and satirists.
The same goes for our illustrious president. It doesn't matter how much fun Borat has with your voter base, Mr. Bush. Hands off. It's all only funny because it's TRUE.

Did I just go on a rant? My bad.
Anyway, Borat is selected to go to the United States and report on things in the American culture that can benefit his homeland. So, with his pudgy government handler/producer/cameraman Azamat in tow, he makes the journey to New York.
I have no idea if the reactions Borat got from New Yorkers are real or not. Then again, I've never tried to kiss a New Yorker on the face. Or lost my chicken on the subway.
New York is a bust. Whether it's meeting with a comedy coach or a group of humorless feminists, Borat's not quite getting through to his American contacts. Then, something amazing happens.
Borat sees a rerun of Baywatch on the hotel TV. And falls head over heels in love with Pamela Anderson.
Borat throws away his itinerary and decides to travel to California to marry his Pamela. He convinces his handler that they can report on the real America while they make their way across the country.

Does Borat find the real America? Well, if the real America is intolerant yokels at a rodeo, drunken racist frat boys, bigoted Southern socialites or nonsense-spewing Pentecostals at a revival meeting, the answer is yes.
Granted all of these types of people DO exist. Hell, there are just as many rednecks in the Midwest as there are in the South (though none of them up here would think that a "SECESSION: IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO!" bumper sticker belonged on their truck's bumper).
As social commentary, Borat can somehow juggle being subtle and yet also incredibly broad at the same time. Borat can make a crude comment that forces his American hosts to reveal flaws in their character. He can pull a Jerry Lewis pratfall in a antique store or have a very graphic naked wrestling match with a man in the middle of a management conference just as well as he can take the piss of a dinner party full of snobs by inviting a black prostitute or sneak anti-war commentary into an incendiary speech to a crowd of good ol' boys. He can do something in a plastic bag that might just be untoward in polite society and give it to a prim and proper hostess. And he does it all without ever giving up his poker face.
The combination of pseudo-documentary footage and the narrative story should be jarring. But it's not. The line between fiction and reality blurs as easily as Cohen adopts his Kazakh persona. Somehow, they manage to wrap reality segments seamlessly into the narrative movie.
The more I thought about what was happening, the more I questioned the reality of it. How can Cohen be so brilliant at setting people up to show what bigoted nitwits they are? How can he be exactly at the right place at the right time so often? And how does he manage to escape from so many of these situations without major bodily injury from the people he's offended? Was the whole film just an elaborate ruse?

Some time during the movie, I gave up caring what was real and what wasn't, because I was emotionally invested in this mad trek across the nation. I actually wanted Borat to meet Pamela Anderson and marry her in the traditional Kazakh manner. I wanted him to bring back all of the best of America to make glorious benefit for the Kazakh people. I'd bought hook, line and sinker into the cinematic reality just as much as the real people that Borat deceives.
Afterwards, as the miniscule crowd filed out, I noticed something. Everyone was still laughing. It says something good about a comedy when you're not quite done with your laughter even after the credits are over.

Borat is wonderful, intelligent, subversive and also likely to be deeply offensive to quite a few people. Hopefully those people will pull their heads out of their keisters and figure out the joke.
The more I think about it, the more I enjoy Borat. Unfortunately, I want to see it again, with a proper audience. And I have to wait until November to do that. Frankly, that sucks more ass than a Kazakhstan street whore.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Adam's seen Clerks 2!!!
And...oddly enough, I'm conflicted.
I haven't laughed so hard in a movie in two years (since Team America: World Police, to be exact).
That being said...the story itself is why I'm not so sure I'm willing to suckle Kevin Smith's tremendous cinematic donkey dick this time around. When he tries to pathos and emotion, I'm waiting for a good dick or fart joke to drop.
Clerks 2 is hilfuckinarious when it wants to be. Smith's writing, when he's going for a laugh, is about as sharp as it gets, and with almost nobody in the film except his personal theater company, everyone knows their part like they were born to it.
In some ways, the conflict of the movie is the conflict of Smith's own life. Dante (Brian O'Halloran) is going nowhere in life. He's worked at Mooby's for a year after the Quick Stop burns down. Kevin Smith's film career is treading water, going back to the well that is the View Askewniverse after the train wreck that was JERSEY GIRL. And, when given the opportunity to get the fuck out and actually change his life, Dante's going for the brass ring. He's gonna blow Jersey for the sunny shores of Florida with his girlfriend Emma (Jennifer Schwalbach, Kevin Smith's real-life wife).
Who can blame him? Emma's hot, loves him, and carries with her the promise of a better job (managing one of her dad's car washes) and a house (and an enormous clit).
There's a problem, though. Dante's kinda sorta got it bad for Becky (Rosario Dawson), the sexy manager at Mooby's. The two of them have a great friendship and an easy chemistry.
Now, personally, between the two of them, I'd hit Rosario in a New York minute (the goodies looked damn FINE in Alexander). But, that's me. Dante's gonna have a harder time with it.
Much as Dante gets the story arc, Randall (Jeff Anderson) gets (most of) the laughs. What moments he doesn't shine onscreen are utterly stolen, owned and trademarked by Trevor Fehrman's Elias and Jason Mewes' triumphant return as Jay. Mewes is utterly fucking fearless, and lets it all hang out this time (well, everything except what he has tucked).
Elias, a new addition to the View Askew crew, is the perfect foil to all of this madness. He's a sheltered, barely-there kid with Upright Christian Parents, a yen to revisit Middle Earth and a deep, abiding love for Robots in Disguise. Much as Randall hates the little fanboy, he's part of the crew. Fehrman's performance is so damn perfect, you'd almost think he was a geeky shrinking violet. Thanks to all of Smith's online diaries, I know the opposite is the case.
There are, of course, copious in-jokes and sight gags that will be rediscovered on DVD, and some terrific cameos by View Askew veterans Ethan Suplee, Ben Affleck and Jason Lee. Wanda Sykes and Earthquake have an extended cameo that sells one of the better jokes in the film. And there's a donkey show. But, you'll probably blink and miss that, right?
Smith hammers a few jokes one too many times like the proverbial dead horse, but 99% of the time, he's gold on the yucks. His serious moments, the big emotionally-charged moments...well, those could have been left on the Lifetime network where they belong. However, the ending, much as it gets sappy, is a fitting bookend to the chronicles of Dante and Randall. It may not be the end for our favorite Clerks...but it's almost as good as a ride off into the sunset.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ultimate X-Men #69

writer: Robert Kirkman
artist: Ben Oliver
published by Marvel Comics

I've been enjoying Robert Kirkman's career as a writer. As the man behind what's arguably still my favorite comic today (The Walking Dead), I've sampled quite a bit of his work over the last couple of years. Occasionally, he misses. But when he hits, watch out.
This is the first issue in the "Phoenix?" storyline...which might well mean some bad juju is coming down the pipe for the Ultimate versions of my favorite mutants. Professor X has taken in another mutant, this time a reality-altering guy named Elliot who can't control his powers. Jean's being tested by a religious organization (who may well be aliens) who believes her to be a mythic being called the Phoenix. Rogue's having trouble adjusting to having Remy LeBeau stuck in her head now that he's taking a dirt nap. Nick Fury's calling in an old marker with Wolverine. And Angel's attending the Homecoming dance at Emma Frost's Academy of Tomorrow (though he's there undercover for Professor X).
See where all of this is going? Neither do I. And that's half the fun of the Ultimate line. You think you know the history of these heroes, but you don't. Things can change. The basic architecture of classic Marvel is there, but the writers and artists can have fun doing things in new and creative ways.
I'm looking forward to the rest of this storyline except for one thing. The art. Ben Oliver can not draw. Period. He's a grade above stick figures.
Get a better artist, Marvel. You have enough of 'em.

SPL (aka Saat Po Long)
directed by: Wilson Yip
available on Deltamac Home Video (Hong Kong)

Simon Yam, Sammo Hung and Donnie Yen have long been favorites of mine. Why I waited so long in watching the first movie to feature all three together, I have no clue.
Now that I have viewed To say I didn't see that coming would be an understatement. SPL is a sweeping, near-epic cop drama with themes that aren't explored much anywhere, let alone Hong Kong.
Simon Yam Tat-Wah plays Chan, a detective for the Royal Hong Kong Police pre-handover. He's a good man, dedicated not only to his job, but to his adoptive daughter -- who was orphaned when her parents attempted to testify about ruthless crimelord Wong Po (Sammo Hung). Chan wants to put Po away, but he's playing on borrowed time -- he's due to both retire soon, and he's got an incurable brain tumor. Talk about stacking the deck against someone...
Chan's squad is fiercely loyal to him, and they want him to go out on a good note. During a bust, they steal a bag of money to provide for his daughter's well-being after Chan is gone. They also do everything possible to bring Wong Po down.
Yen plays Inspector Ma, Chan's replacement-to-be. He's a good cop with a reputation: he once hit a suspect so hard, he left the guy with brain damage. Ma is sort of the odd man out in the squad, though, since the rest of them have been working together for years. They don't seem to trust him, and he's not sure that he can trust them.
How far is too far, exactly? At what point do you step over the line and are no longer doing good? After Wong Po has an undercover cop killed, the unit springs into action, trying to pin the murder on him, even though they have a videotape that shows someone else pulling the trigger (the tape iteself would have gotten a conviction in the US, but apparently you have to do the deed yourself to be considered a murderer in HK). They're willing to manufacture evidence to frame Wong Po...even to murder the real put Wong Po behind bars. Ma objects to this and finds himself in confrontation with his men before he's officially in charge of them.
Ma has his reasons. He actually DID hit a guy so hard that he left him a half-wit. And since then, he's taken on responsibility for the man's life. He got the former criminal a job as a janitor and he visits him weekly, always losing when they play fighting games together at the arcade. Ma knows what happens when you go too far.
Wong Po, on the other hand, doesn't have the problem of a conscience. He dispatches his most brutal agent to deal with Chan's men -- which he does quite bloodily. Chan and Ma are helpless to stop the unit from being killed, leading to a final confrontation in Wong Po's nightclub that will ultimately destroy all three of their lives.
If I were to choose, off the top of my head, a list of the greatest martial artists working in film today, the top two spots would probably go to Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung. It's no surprise that the two of them would have a very physical confrontation when they finally did throw down.
I wasn't at all prepared for their fight scene. To say the least, it's easily one of the most brutal fights I've ever seen. It's long, bloody and you get the feeling that even the victor would have a hard time walking afterwards. The two of them use everything in their arsenal -- kicks, punches, grapples, throws, holds -- and then some. I half expected them to end up in the kitchen and for someone to get clocked with the proverbial kitchen sink just to let the audience know that they've gone as far as they could.

For as big as this movie is, it holds tight to its three leads, particularly Simon Yam and Donnie Yen. Both put in admirable work, and it brings me back to a frequent question...why hasn't Hollywood snapped up talents like these?
Yam lives in America pretty much full time now, and Yen's from Boston. Sure, Donnie Yen did the martial arts choreography for and appeared in both Highlander: Endgame and Blade 2...but he's easily one of the most dynamic, charismatic guys working in cinema anywhere today. Is it just because he's Asian? Aren't we beyond all that bullshit yet? Yam has always been a great actor, able to move from comedy to action to romance to drama with ease. Either of these guys should be able to get a job in any type of movie, and yet they're both pretty much unknown in the US.
Of course...look what they did to Sammo Hung when he came over. I'm sure Chuck Norris meant well getting Sammo a gig starring in Marshall Law, but the show was a poor showcase for one of the most talented acrobats and fighters ever. As he enters his golden years, it's good to see him get a good character role where he can still show off a bit physically. Unfortunately, he had to go back to Hong Kong to get it.
With any other trio of actors, I'm not sure that I would have enjoyed SPL. But with the stars that they got, this movie became something I'm glad I finally got off my duff and saw. It combines moral drama, police procedure and some great action into a film that really ought to get a good release in arthouses here. The import DVD is all-regions, though, so anyone can enjoy it. Pick it up on eBay or at your local Asian market. It's well worth the search.

Silent Hill
directed by Christophe Gans
written by Roger Avary

I believe the word I'm looking for is daaaaaaaaaaaamn. And oddly, it goes both ways. Damn, this movie gets right in there and scares the bejeezus out of you...and damn, what a waste.
Christophe Gans' new horror film Silent Hill is another push to the envelope of what can be shown onscreen, both from a visual standpoint and from the perspective of just out and out mayhem and violence.
But...there are points where it doesn't work. When it doesn't, you just slap your forehead and wonder what Roger Avary was doing that day when he was supposedly writing. But when it does, and it fires on all cylinders, this is not only one of the more unique looking creepshows out there, it's also one of the most effective.
I saw the film with a bad audience. A rarity for the Arena Grand, but still a possibility. And, after a few touch and go minutes at the beginning, they got shut up. Not by theater staff. No, sir. By the movie.
The first big scare got two of the group to scream in fright. The other two were freaked the fuck out and they fled, never to return. Sure, they talked through the entire movie, but they were quiet except when they were screaming their asses off.
That worked just fine for me.
Radha Mitchell (you might remember her from Pitch Black or Phone Booth) really has to carry the movie. Sean Bean (still in the running for Greatest Geek Actor of All Time) plays her husband Christopher. But, the two of them pursue their investigations of the town of Silent Hill more or less on parallel paths. They get one or two scenes together to show off the fact that they're married and that they both love their adopted kid, and for the rest of the movie, they're apart. Sort of an odd choice, but I believe the video game is about lone heroines confronting ancient evil, so the married couple can't be together. If there weren't a phone message from Christopher about how much he loves the child, you'd start to think that he didn't care, and that's why he didn't go.
Mitchell plays Rose DaSilva, an Ohio housewife and mother to a child (Jodelle Ferland) who's having problems. She has nightmares and sleepwalks, and often ends up waking up screaming the words "Silent Hill" over and over again.
Mom's done her research (isn't Google great?) and found a town called Silent Hill in West Virginia. A ghost town. Complete with a disturbing and tragic past that culminated in a gigantic coal mine fire 30 years ago that wiped out most of the town. The problem? Sarah was adopted from an orphanage in West Virginia. An orphanage very near Silent Hill.
Rose puts two and two together and knows something is terribly wrong. And all the answers lie in Silent Hill. Problem: if Sarah came from Silent Hill, she'd be almost as old as her adoptive parents, right? The town is DESERTED as far as she knows. She packs up her daughter and heads for West Virginia against Christopher's wishes. She's not being rational, and this is gonna bite her in the ass. Big time. Of course, she acts all freaky in front of a deputy, Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden from The X-Files) who follows her into the town.
Both end up crashing their vehicles in separate locations.
When Rose wakes up, Sharon is missing. Things get weird from there. Everything is sorta foggy, sorta smoky in Silent Hill. And there are horrible things coming out of the fog. Inhuman things. And, every once in a while, a siren wails. Everything goes dark. And then, the REALLY nasty things come out.
Meanwhile, Christopher drives down to West Virginia after his wife. He and a decent cop (veteran character actor Kim Coates) investigate Silent Hill on their own. It's the same town, but it's different. It's rainy where Rose's Silent Hill is foggy. It's deserted, and while Christopher feels his wife is there, they can find no trace of her.
The mystery is sorta compelling, and the horror segments truly are frightening. A funny thing happens about two thirds of the way through the movie, though. Everything stops. I mean LITERALLY stops. The movie grinds to a halt and everything goes white for a minute. Then, everything is explained. Back story. What's happened thus far. And what's GOING to happen. Yes, they explain the end of the movie. Before it happens.
We fade back into the film in progress, and then everything happens, exactly as it was explained it would.
Something tells me that this moment was cribbed from one of the Silent Hill games. But, where the same exposition might have worked in an interactive game (where you might not be able to fulfill said prophecy or where you might need crucial background information to solve a final puzzle), it falls flat on its face in a narrative motion picture. You can't give away the last third of a film and expect people to be satisfied when that's exactly what happens.
The only thing they didn't give away is the very final moment of the film, and by that time, you're so damn annoyed that they spoiled their own damn movie, you forget to care. And that's too bad, because that final moment, cribbed as it is from some other films, could have worked. If fails to resonate, though, because the storytellers failed the audience.
There's a lot of craft to Silent Hill, and a lot of interesting ideas. Avary and Gans tried to make something different from the normal Hollywood fare and remakes of J-horror. If they cut the momentum-stifling explanation of the town's history and the entire third act, the ending (and the movie itself) might have clicked. Instead, it just sorta fizzles.
As it stands, Silent Hill is an ambitious film. I give it credit for trying to do something new for the genre. But I'm upset that they couldn't make a cohesive, logical story and follow through on it.

Podcast Planet 4.0

Nobody Likes Onions

So, put three supposed stand-ups together in a room and you'd think someone would bring the funny, right?
Nobody Likes Onions just plain sucks ass. Unfunny, unoriginal, uninspired. So many insults come to mind. Calling people fags is about as funny as these guys get, so they play like gangbusters with the Jr High set. Three quarters of their callers haven't hit puberty yet, and to punctuate it, the NLO gang sings along perpetually with Hillary Duff's "Sweet Sixteen".
Boy, howdy. That's the essence of comedy.
Hearing three supposedly grown men beg someone on a webcam to show her tits is kinda pathetic, but not particularly entertaining. And it drags on for TWO FUCKING HOURS???

NextWave #3
NextWave #1: Director's Cut

writer: Warren Ellis
artist: Stuart Immonen
published by Marvel Comics

Man, I'm late getting this up. By this time, issue 4 (heh. now it should be 5) should be out, and I haven't gotten my lazy ass to the Laughing Ogre to buy it yet.
From the beginning, I knew I was going to like NextWave. It was smart and spiteful, yes, but it's also a comic that revels in its comic-bookiness.
Warren Ellis is a cynic, but he's a cynic with a healthy balance of idealism behind his jaded ethic. NextWave is full of honest-to-goshness gee-whiz moments, peppered with pop culture parody and winking irony. The heroes are mostly familiar Marvel characters, with the exception of The Captain (aka Captain ****). And the situations they're in are familiar to anyone who's ever picked up a sooperhero book. The plot is convolutedly simple: The Beyond Corporation sponsors a SHIELD-esque rapid-response team called HATE (Highest Anti-Terrorist Enforcement) to combat America's enemies. It's all lies and bullshit, though. The Beyond Corporation are the baddies, in reality the super-terrorist organization SILENT.
After discovering this, the NextWave team (all second-string heroes banded together to be a branded presence in toy stores and TV screens) turns traitor and fights both HATE and the Beyond Corporation.
In the third issue, the team discovers a "hyper techno samurai" seed has been lost and jumps into action to find it. It's been discovered already, by a cop who epitomizes the perjorative "PIG". The seed jumps into him and...changes him.
So, now NextWave not only has corporate-sponsored law enforcement and terrorist agents after them, but they also have a rapidly evolving supertechnical biomechanical creepazoid to throw down with. And throw down they do.
The next issue promises the origin of NextWave's most mysterious member, the aforementioned Captain. Since the book's not in the soon-to-be-defunct Max line, we know we're not finding out what **** the Captain really is. But, we might find out why everyone aside from the book's readership hates his surly ass.

The director's cut of issue 1 doesn't add a thing to the story. None of Marvel's "Director's Cuts" ever do. It does, however, come with a few extras. All of the Director's Cut series include the issue's script and occasionally the odd sketch or character design. This one's no exception. Reading Ellis' pared-down script really does let you in on the fact that he's pretty much got the book visualized in his head. That he gets an artist to do exactly what he wants if part of the fun.

New Avengers #18
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Mike Deodato Jr
published by Marvel Comics

For the most part, much as I naysayed the book beforehand, New Avengers has kicked unholy amounts of booty.
Where I found his run on Daredevil to be talky and at times wholly pointless, he seems to have gotten the gist of what makes a team book like Avengers or JLA tick -- conflicts far beyond the ken of any one hero.
The latest threat brings the new team to Bendis' old stomping grounds of Cleveland, Ohio to confront a mysterious individual named Michael who seems to be not only unstoppable but also possessed of enough power to bring back Ms Marvel's Binary powers with little or no effort on his part...and to spontaneously disassemble Iron Man's armor without even batting an eyelash.
Half of the Avengers are scrambling for those answers on the SHIELD Helicarrier while the other half is getting their asses handed to them in Cleveland. At the end, Spider-Man seems to have figured it out, but Michael's streaking back to the conflict, and it doesn't look good for Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
My theory? Michael's possessed of all those missing mutant powers that Scarlet Witch turned off on M Day. Which means that the lead-up to this summer's Civil War crossover may also finish off the whole House of M/Decimation storyline for good. Considering that the whole thing's been going on for a year, that's probably for the best.

Masters of Horror: John Carpenter: Cigarette Burns
directed by John Carpenter
written by Drew McWeeney and Scott Swann

I sort of know Drew McWeeney, half of the writing team that created this entry into Showtime's Masters of Horror series. I've frequented the Ain't It Cool News website for quite a few years now (where he's known as Moriarty), and I've had occasion to have dealings with him over various issues and misdeeds.
So, I happen to know exactly what inspired Cigarette Burns. Some have accused him of cribbing from Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness or Lovecraft or a dozen other sources. But none of them could suspect that the inspiration for the infamous film that causes madness and violence in all who see it was actually a Monty Python sketch: The Joke.

So, I had that in mind when I sat down to watch the DVD.
Norman Reedus plays Kirby Sweetman, the owner of a revival theater and a procurer of rare film prints for wealthy collectors. When an eccentric (Udo Kier) approaches him about obtaining the Holy Grail of rare films, La Fin Absolue du Monde, a film so disturbing that it drives viewers to murder...and worse.
Art is powerful. It's caused riots, it's started and stopped wars. It's wooed maidens and debauched the virtuous. Art has raised man and dashed him to the winds like dust.
Imagine something so powerful that it has destroyed everyone who's watched it. Imagine a film so blasphemous that it damns the viewer forever. That's what Kirby's looking for.
The closer he gets, Kirby starts seeing things. Glimpses of startling images, all through a "cigarette burn", the mark that theater projectionists use to find reel changes.

I can see a little bit of "The Joke" in the premise to Cigarette Burns, but that's really where the similarity stops. The film does take some cues from media theory (read: Marshall McLuhan), but is more influenced by the entire subculture of film geeks out the writers themselves, and each of the directors in the Masters of Horror. It's a film about film lovers, and that's probably its most endearing strength. We movie geeks have all gone out to obsessive lengths to see some rare film or get an import or bootleg DVD of some forgotten film that's near and dear to our hearts...or something we've heard about and simply must see.
That's the case here. Carpenter and the writers have created a mythical must-see picture that cineastes the world over would be scrambling for were it real. Were it an actual film, I'm kinda guessing that I would have attempted to track down La Fin Absolue du Monde years ago and paid the consequences. I'm reminded of my own weakness and love for film, and that's what sold the story to me.

What this film has done for me is make me instantly want to see a new feature by Carpenter in the theater (not that I didn't before, but now I'm REALLY itching for it). The man IS a master, not just of horror, but of film itself. I realize that Ghosts of Mars kind of sucked. But the vast majority of his catalog is absolutely classic -- essential viewing that any film aficionado should see.
I'm also jazzed to see something else from McWeeney and Swann. I've been reading some of their stage plays and unproduced scripts lately (thanks for putting them up, Drew). They've got some great ideas and they have a good voice working together. Someday, they might just knock us all on our coal mining asses.

The DVD isn't bad, though full retail is still sorta steep for a one hour film (thankfully, I got it for much less than that thanks to a sale and a coupon). There's oodles of extras, including two commentary tracks (one by Carpenter and one by the writers) and a handful of featurettes. Anchor Bay does a nice job with normal stuff, and they handle little genre gems like this even better.
I'd be much happier if they put out a season box of the entire Masters of Horror series, but I suppose I can pick and choose a disc or two here and there and assemble the first season piecemeal. I'll just whine and kvetch about it a lot.

Astonishing X-Men #14
writer: Joss Whedon
artist: John Cassaday
published by Marvel Comics

The X-Men are in trouble. We, the readers, know that a new incarnation of the Hellfire Club is gunning for them, bolstered by their catspaw, the White Queen. For those of us who read Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men and Whedon's previous season on Astonishing X-Men know that Emma Frost is one formidable superbitch.
Emma finally turns it on in this issue, taking her lover Scott Summers apart piece by piece. Not in a violent way -- even though she could if she wanted to. No, Emma Frost is too subtle for that. She takes him apart from the inside, undermining his confidence and ability to lead...and then finally forcing him to confront his deepest, darkest fear.
What's left isn't worth a fart in the wind.
There's some great character moments in the book, including a humorous interlude where Shadowcat loses control of her powers during an encounter with Colossus. We're also soon to get an answer about just what Ord from the Breakworld was talking about when he said an X-Man was destined to destroy his world (maybe). But Whedon and Cassaday keep the focus on the pairing of Emma Frost and Scott Summers...and how she's using her own love for the leader of the X-Men to destroy him.
So far, Whedon's run has been...well, astonishing. Now he's kicked it up a notch. The rich characterization and dialogue in this issue has equalled anything that Morrison offered, building on his material as well.
If you're not buying Astonishing X-Men, get your ass out there and get the collections of the first two storylines. Catch up with your favorite mutants and the best writer to handle them in a long time.

Art School Confidential
written by Daniel Clowes
directed by Terry Zwigoff

Every artist occasionally makes a dud. It's inevitable.
Sadly, this happens to be that occasional dud for Terry Zwigoff. He's had a storied career, starting with his brilliant portrait of underground comics legend R Crumb, his first foray into the Clowes universe in Ghost World, his genius bio-pic of Harvey Pekar, American Splendor, and the splendidly evil holiday film Bad Santa.
Art School Confidential isn't a total bomb. It's got great characters, especially John Malkovich's turn as Professor Sandiford. It handles the art school experience terrifically -- with so much truth in the fakery and politics of the classroom that some might think it almost a memoir.
However, plotwise, the film tries too much. And ends up being entirely vanilla where it could have been as evil as Bad Santa or as funny as a National Lampoon picture.
If you're a huge fan or a budding artist, it might be worth putting in your NetFlix queue. Otherwise, read some Eightball instead.

All-Star Superman #3
writer: Grant Morrison
artist: Frank Quitely (digtally inked and colored by Jamie Grant)
published by DC comics

I loved Grant Morrison's run on JLA. It's what truly made me a fan of his work. I'd read some of his stuff before, like Arkham Asylum or Animal Man or Doom Patrol. It just didn't quite click that the man was a super-genius until he got ALL the toys at DC and showed us that he could do superheroes better than anyone without being cynical or cheeky or overly clever. His run on JLA brought me back to the DC Universe and made me care about charaters I'd long since abandoned.
All-Star Superman is all about reminding me that nobody -- and I do mean NOBODY -- does it better than Grant Morrison. What we have here in this issue is a self-contained story that showcases Superman's lady love, Lois Lane. It's her birthday, and Supes has gotten her the ultimate gift -- a vial containing a liquid that will give her all of Superman's powers for 24 hours. To give her equal footing with the Man of Steel.
Add to that a pair of time-travelling strongmen and a trans-dimensional powerhouse and you've probably got a recipe for trouble. But, it's nothing Superman can't handle, right?
The thing I love about this book is that it can be huge and epic and awe-inspiring and still be about the human moments that truly matter to this character. Superman might be his natural state, but he truly does aspire to be Clark Kent -- it's not just a disguise or a judgement on humanity, contrary to Kill Bill. Clark Kent is the man that Kal El wishes he could be, to be able to blend in with his fellow earthlings and woo Lois (have I mentioned that this story takes place prior to the whole Marriage/Death/Rebirth storylines of the 90s?).
Oh. The art. Well, it's Frank Quitely, so I get sorta gushy about his stuff anyway. The art is fantastic, and with the addition of the ink and colors provided by Jamie Grant, there's not a book out there today that looks quite this beautiful (not even Shaolin Cowboy. Shut up.).

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Adam's adventures at the 23rd Annual Ohio Sci-Fi Marathon!
soon to be updated with more photos and goodness
Having had some hand in organizing this year's Ohio Science Fiction Film Festival, I can't be unbiased in reporting on it.
Guess what? Fuck it. I'm gonna say what I feel all the way through. I feel it my duty to let you people in on the happenings in and around the marathon, and I won't stop until all of you (and the bunch more people) all show up here for this event every year.
The marathon is a geek's dream: 24 hours of great sci-fi. How can you NOT want to come here?
So, I've got a brand-spankin' new pair of glasses (a big shout-out to Todd for making the whole process actually enjoyable) so I can see the screen. And I've got four Red Bulls that say I'm at least going to be a wide-awake Astro-Zombie by the end of this.
Let's do this thing.

7:55 am
So, I'm waiting for the COTA bus to take me down to the theater (it's not coming for a half hour) and I'm struck by two facts.
1) This is gonna be one long fucking day
2) I have a three foot tall plastic alien with me (it's a decoration for the theater)
I'm reasonably certain the plastic alien doesn't want to anal probe me, but I'm not nodding off.
No, sir. I've got four Red Bulls with me. I'm gonna be one wide-awake fucking zombie today.
My first yawn of the day. I dunno if it's because I'm tired or because I'm just too stupid to remember to breathe. Whatever.
Did I mention that the bus won't be here for a half hour? Because I'm bound and determined to be on time for things today. Just like John, the head projectionist (who's working 29 hours in a row) will be concentrating on making this the best marathon (projection quality-wise) we've ever had.
I was at the theater last night past midnight stuffing goodie bags. Weird melange of old and new schwag. I'd be overjoyed to get a NIGHT BREED button, myself.
And now, here, waiting for the bus on this damp Columbus morning, hoping not to fall asleep with a bigass plastic alien sitting next to me (because that's the moment a photographer will miraculously drop by and put the picture on the internet.

9:06 am
I'm at the theater, set up in the area we've set aside for volunteers. Time to set up...

9:06 am


9:07 am

The concession stand, all decorated and stuff.

9:07 am

Upstairs. The Lava Lounge.

9:08 am

The registration/ticket table pre-setup and chaos.

10:51 am

The first marathoids enter!

Yes. Frankenstein's Monster was first in line.

10:51 am

Frankenstein's Monster's buddy.

10:52 am

The line.

10:52 am


10:52 am

Jeff Frank looks over the line to get in

10:53 am

Marathoids in line

11:15 am

Settling in...

11:51 am
DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL trailer. I LOVE this movie, and I saw it at a marathon 2 years ago. Or was it 3? My brain's all mushy.

11:53 am
THIS ISLAND EARTH trailer. This one elicits loads of MST3K references. Which is a bad sign. These crowds feed on chaos and shitting all over movies.
The lady next to me is quite wisely setting up shop to charge people leaving the row of seats. Good for her. She'll need pizza and beer money.
CAPTAIN VIDEO trailer. Thank the cinema gods for cheese. First off, it's low cal (at least the cinematic variety is) and it's good to remind you that there is goodness out there. CrapTACULAR.

11:57 am
BRUUUUUUUUUUUUCE Bartoo on stage. Program booklets are all fucked up. oops.

12:02 pm
Countdown to THE BATMAN...
projection problems already...whee.
Chapter 1: The Electrical Brain
Yeesh. This is cheeZEE. The Batcave is decked out with...a desk. And nothing else. And anyone who thinks that the 60s BATMAN TV series was kinda homoerotic ain't seen nothing yet. The unintentional laughs fly.

Oh, man...the Axis Agents are headquartered in a "Japanese Cave of Horrors." And it's like one of those ultra-Christian haunted house dealios...except showing off how savage the Japanese are...which is funny because the villain is supposed to be Japanese...except he doesn't even resemble an Asian. At all. If this guy is Japanese, then I'm Japanese too.

People are still filing in. They're not used to sell-outs or on-time starts, apparently. This place is PACKED.

12:31 pm
Oh my God...this print is beautiful. Yes, there are some minor projection problems, but they get them cleared up toot sweet.

Why in the world are people calling out and heckling in KING KONG??? This movie is a fucking classic, fer chrissakes!
Urge to kill...rising.
Hmmm. That's a familiar situation at one of these. At least for me.

All of the excitement earlier setting things up has me whupped. I think everyone being an ass gets a buy on their well-deserved asskicking. If I'm tired now, it's only gonna get worse.

Something I keep forgetting: Faye Wray is positively LUMINOUS in this movie. She just lights up the screen.

The original might be more lean and economical than the recent Peter Jackson remake, but I still love both Kongs dearly.

***At this point, I have mysteriously misplaced my notes (AND my computer mysteriously shut down...without saving this, I'm attempting to recollect as best as my swiss cheese brain can...

Somewhere around 2:15pm-2:30pm...Until around 4:30pm
We watched an episode of TALES OF TOMORROW with Leslie Neilsen and Brian Keith in it (off of what I'm guessing was a bootleg DVD -- but there really isn't a legits version of this baby out there, and likely never will be). You can tell this was done live...there's a theatrical quality to the acting that's just not present in most television. Then, 'twas time for FORBIDDEN PLANET.
So, I'd heard that we'd tried to get the archival print of FORBIDDEN PLANET. And we couldn't. Then, we secured a print...but they shipped it by truck and the print just disappeared. Then, just as they were about to send us the archival print (which really isn't supposed to get shown), the print they'd sent miraculously reappeared. All this jerking around, and we never even got kissed.
Well, for the most part, the one we got is just fine. In fact, most of it looks GREAT. There are parts where the wear shows, though...and it shows a lot when it does. It's the audio that's probably the weakest bit on this particular print. There's some dropout and persistent static. Ah, well...

***We now resume your regularly scheduled diary...

4:34 pm
Well, somehow I managed to fuck up and lose almost all of my notes so far.
Oops. Thankfully, I have some longhand. SOME.

4:47 pm
One of our surprises for the marathoids is a special interview, taped just this week, of Anne Francis. We sent Drexel alum Mark Heuck (whom non-Cbusers might remember from Comedy Central's BEAT THE GEEKS). Fifty years after FORBIDDEN PLANET, she still looks quite good. And she's still sassy as ever.
"You can't come in," she told Mark and his cameraman. "The place is a mess."
She started off as a child model, moving quickly into the very infancy of television. She did her first show for NBC back in 1939, "something about an enchanted castle". So vivid was her recollection, she actually sang the tune from memory. Then, she worked in films with such stars as Clifton Webb, James Cagney and Spencer Tracy, establishing herself as an actress.
She was interested in FORBIDDEN PLANET mainly because of a lifelong interest in metaphysics. She thought of the Krell as a paradigm for the mass unconscious, and saw many aspects of metaphysics in the screenplay. Oddly, she still doesn't see the Shakespearean aspect of FORBIDDEN PLANET, and never thought of the movie as an adaptation of THE TEMPEST.
Francis didn't know whether MGM considered FORBIDDEN PLANET an 'A' picture, but she was sure they spent enough money on it, at least on the effects. She said that Robby the Robot cost more than all of the actors combined, and that the animation effects by Disney were also expensive.
She also related a tale about being shown her costume from the movie at a convention once by a fan, only to later see it on eBay with a signed picture (with a message about the dress)...except she'd never actually signed that picture. The dress ended up selling for around $9000, autograph or no.
Francis said she was happy to see Robby was still featured occasionally on TV and in commercials (according to her, director Bill Malone [The House on Haunted Hill remake] once donned the costume).
Anne Francis was on a couple episodes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, as well as pretty much every other anthology show on the air at the time, and she enjoyed the experience, preferring the talented writers and theatrical presentation to the bug-eating reality shows of today.
She was also one of the first, if not the first, female detectives on TV, HONEY WEST. She still sees imitators of the Honey West formula. "It was just fun," she said. "Years later, I was watching Moonlighting and I thought, 'Oh my God, it's Honey West!'"
Ms Francis was nice enough to make lunch for her interviewers, and sent along a couple signed souvenirs for prize winners at the marathon. However, she did have to pick on Mark for missing some details about her character on DALLAS. When Mark credited her with being one of JR Ewing's first extramarital paramours, she had to nip that in the bud. "You know me better than that."
She loves the fact that she's name-checked in ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, but has never seen RESERVOIR DOGS, so she's never listened to the Honey West discussion in that film.
She's accessible to her fans through However, she was not (despite popular opinion of the people at Rocky Horror at the NuArt in LA) the star of DEEP THROAT.

5:26 pm

Marv from SIN CITY pissing off the audience.

5:26 pm

Shaun of the Dead

5:27 pm
Costume Contest. This year, we had two really great costumes that both got beaten by a costumeless individual who had a good schtick worked out.
The guy with the damn near perfect Indiana Jones costume and the guy with the spot-on Shaun of the Dead costume lost to a guy who went up and explained that he was the token black person who always dies first in the movies. And then proceeded to die on cue.
I've yammered about people without costumes before. He officially shut me up. Attitude and creativity count for something.
Next up: Anne Francis in THE TWILIGHT ZONE

5:27 pm

The token black guy who always dies first in movies.

7:31 pm
THE INVISIBLE BOY is on. Much as I tried to not watch it...I kept finding myself drawn back. For what's ostensively a kiddie movie, there's a lot of dark and disturbing stuff in there. There's a lot of violence, particularly on the part of Robbie the Robot, who's supposed to be the kid's friend and he acts very menacingly towards the little boy on a number of occasions.
Then, there's the whole matter of the kid spying on his parents about to engage in a little bumping of the uglies...which was creepy.
Bad Invisible Boy...BAD!!!

There were other issues, but, since I lost my notes, I forgot 'em. I'll learn to live with it.
The print looks better than it deserves to, really. And the movie does have the best identification of an invisible person that I can think of. "It's him, all right. His hair's not combed."
Is it me, or is the evil supercomputer powered by Microsoft?

Oddly, people are showing THE INVISIBLE BOY a lot more respect than the previous films and the Anne Francis interview.

8:03 pm
We get a quick intro from Bruce and Jeff Frank, president of Drexel Theatres Group for FIRST ON THE MOON, a Russian faux documentary about a super-secret pre-World War II space program that may or may not have launched a man to the moon in 1938. But first...more trailers!
THE MOLE PEOPLE trailer. Two words:
JOHN AGAR!!!!!!!!!!!
Can I die in the Fire of Ishtar? Please? PLEASE???
THE FANTASTIC INVASION OF PLANET EARTH trailer (in 3-D! -- we didn't get a 3-D film this year. We'll work harder on that for next year. Might as well add eye strain to our list of crimes.). Weirdass 70s alien invasion flick (in SPACE VISION) that I've never seen and probably should. Just for...research. Yeah, that's it.
Oddball claymation commercial for some product that probably doesn't even exist anymore called YoGo. Put together a gorilla, a snake and a yogurt-thieving alien. Mix well. Serve cold. Very, very odd. Which is why I'm pretty sure this stuff doesn't exist any more.
FOR ALL MANKIND trailer. We were thinking of getting this for the marathon, even though it's science fact, not fiction. Maybe next year. It looks FANFREAKINTASTIC. But, I'd think NASA has plenty of good footage laying around.
Trailer for THE MOUSE ON THE MOON (a sequel to THE MOUSE THAT ROARED [which I adore]?!?). I've never seen this. Never even knew it existed. Is it any good?

8:12 pm
The moment that many marathoids have been waiting for.
The culmination of two years of waiting (since it wasn't shown last year).
The most anticipated short subject of this (and every) marathon.


If you haven't seen this 30 year-old short by David Wechter and Michael Nankin...if you haven't been to a marathon here in just don't get it.
Mary HAS to know the answer to a question. What makes the sun set?
She asks pretty much everyone she knows...Dad, Mom, Big Sister,


Great Grandmother (who appears to be...well, dead), and her Teacher...before she gets the answer she's looking for.
What makes the sun set?
World famous scientist Thorton Waxman and his crack team of researchers from the Karl Fong Foundation have been researching a potentially devastating problem.
We're having a serious gravity shortage.
The earth is running out of gravity!
Thankfully, the geniuses at the Foundation have produced a short cartoon with Jiminy Gravity to tell us how we can do our part to use less gravity...and hopefully to insure that an adequate supply will be around for the next generation.
Yes, my friends...

8:21 pm
FIRST ON THE MOON finally rolls.
The film is a really ambitious idea -- basically to create a live-action ROYAL SPACE FORCE or the equivalent of Warren Ellis' MINISTRY OF SPACE for the Soviet Union.
It begins with an account of a strange object crashing into the Chilean Andes, then details some of the ancient and medieval history of rocketry. There are also newsreels that show off what the USSR was doing to insure their people would be able to survive the rigors of space travel, including replacing their entire skeleton with a metal structure.
The potential cosmonauts for this new space program include a soldier from Kazakhstan, a circus midget and human cannonball, a test pilot and a female athlete.
Oh, I'm feeling it now. I am tired tired tired. Thankfully, I have some Red Bulls secreted in the volunteer lounge.
The program does get one rocket built and launched, but something goes wrong. Failure wasn't tolerated in the old Soviet Union, and the space program is covered up and forgotten rather quickly. People disappeared all the time in Stalinist Russia...and so too do the cosmonauts still on base. But, with the crash in the Andes, there's the possibility that the first pilot survived...
The faked footage feels very close to the actual newsreel film they blend it in with, so it's difficult to tell the two apart. The people have a jerky, almost animated look to them because of adjusted framerates -- making the whole thing look almost like a Svankmeyer film.
Occasionally, they cut into more modern footage where the filmmakers are investigating the incidents depicted in the older footage. They interview some of the principals and surveillance officers involved as old men and even revisit the site of the former cosmodrome where they had been headquartered. The documentary crew also manufacture a scale rocket based on the designs they'd discovered from this program.
The problem with this movie is that, no matter how cleverly the filmmakers realize the fake newsreel footage or the vintage sci-fi movie, they turn to narrative footage to tell the story. They attempt to disguise most of this by explaining that the astronauts were under constant surveillance by intelligence operatives. But the camera they show has no microphone attached, and yet there's sound in some of the spy footage. Or they'll do a camera move, like the crane shot in the factory where they produced the rocket, that a lone man with a tiny spy camera couldn't do.
It's a very interesting attempt at doing something different and new. It just doesn't totally succeed.
Still, it won the crowd over, and the film was met with a goodly round of applause. Hell, they even managed to stay silent during the movie itself.

10:00 pm
I've got a Red Bull in me and I'm waiting on a pizza and some friends who're showing up late (my buddy Dave and his son Gio). I pop in to see TOAST, the final (?) installment in Columbus native Kevin S O'Brien's fabled BREAD QUADRILOGY (those of you with the Millenium Edition of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD have seen the first part, NIGHT OF THE LIVING BREAD). I hope Kevin's doing well in Australia. Columbus misses him. Oops. I missed chapter 7 of THE BATMAN. I suck.

10:03 pm
Oh. Fuck.
How do I describe SPACEBOY to those that have not experienced it? In simplest terms, it's a visualized tone poem with science fiction elements. It stars Florence Marly, from QUEEN OF BLOOD.
But, it's so much more. It's a brain wrenching surrealistic oddity that probably is much more fun on some hallucinogen. Or any fun at all. SPACEBOY is something we suffer through, just so that we can say we have. It's a right of passage.
A quickie commercial for McDonalds' BATMAN FOREVER promotion and then...
I fucking love this movie. It's a cracked out version of the 70s G films I grew up on. Ryuhei Kitamura truly did whup unholy ass and take names with this flick. If this truly is the end of the Godzilla series, what a glorious end it is. I love every single little thing about this movie...and to FINALLY see it on the big screen with BEASTIE FUCKING SOUND -- which marathoids actually begged to have turned down (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!)...Oh, before I forget...


Quick jaunt back into the lobby to wait for Dave. I get to talk to this cool-ass guy who works at the Angelika theater in New York City (great fuckin' guy). We discuss fake trailers and super hero films and trade email addresses. Sadly, he has to leave during the movie he came to see. Poor bastard.
Dave finally shows up and my pizza is done. Back to Man in Suit!
Sure, the monster fights in FINAL WARS are short, but there's a shit-ton of 'em. And they serve notice to aliens everywhere:
Plot? Do we need a plot? Fuck no! We need a guy with a huge chin! We've got one (Don ). We need mutants! Flying mutants! With laser guns! Check. We need just about every mother-fucking monster that's been in a Godzilla film! Check. We need that tuna-slurping iguana from that Emmerich and Devlin piece of shit! Check. Racial sterotypes! Check. Kung-fu fighting monsters! Check. Smushie faced dog! Check.
Hell, the only thing this movie doesn't have is T&A. That's what the next generation of Godzilla films needs. Tits and ass. "Honey, Godzilla's coming to destroy the city! Let's fuck like rabbits until the world ends!" Bow-wow-chickie-wow-wow...

God. Damn. This movie whups ASS!!! Even with the sound turned down a bit. Pussies.

The persistent gouts of applause every time Godzilla dispatches another monster tell me I did my job well in insisting this movie play. However, I just don't know about getting the new Gamera movie for next year. It just seems too kiddie-fied, at least from the trailers.

12:34 pm
Next up are shorts from the 1st Annual Science Fiction Short Film Festival at Seattle's Museum of Science Fiction and Hall of Fame. Now, we're showing these off of DVD, so you might think we'd be able to skip around to the ones we wanted, right?
Wrong. Sadly, the DVD isn't encoded with chapters, so we end up watching WIRELESS first. It's a detective story, and it's not really all that good, especially when taken against the competition.
David Sanders' MICROGRAVITY is next. It's a nightmare about the loneliness of space travel and the risk of running out of air. For whatever miniscule budget it was made looks fucking amazing. Great production design.
Stephen O'Regan's THEY'RE MADE OUT OF MEAT (which I do believe was the big winner at the film fest) follows. It stars Tom Noonan (from MANHUNTER) and comedian Ben Bailey. And, dammit, it is fucking hilarious! They're two aliens (in human form) meeting in a diner to discuss their investigation into life on earth. The one is organic.
"Who wants to meet meat?"
Freakish and weird and slightly off-kilter. Great dialogue.
A good round of applause from the audience. I think we have a winner.
SCRIBBLE. A quickie about a typist trying to transcribe something, except her computer breaks down. When she requests another, they give her a slightly older one...which breaks. Then a typewriter. And down the line until she's only got a pen. What do you suppose happens when she asks for a new device after that?
Last one in this round is HEART BEAT, an Israeli quasi music video. An astronaut/DJ rocks out with some asteroids. Very fun visually. We could have had a dance off up front to it, had we known. Maybe next year...
The pilot episode of the fantastic ABC series MAX HEADROOM played next. I adored the show while it was on, and I wish to hell shows like this were given a chance. Amanda Pays was scrumptious, too, dammit. Damn you, Corbin Bernsen.

2:57 am
The night will never end. And, from how good I'm feeling at this point, I dunno that I want it to.
The next trailer is one of marathon regulars' favorites. When they think Troma, most people think of THE TOXIC AVENGER or SGT KABUKIMAN, NYPD. Not the Marathoid species. They only think of A NYMPHOID BARBARIAN IN DINOSAUR HELL. It's not really because A NYMPHOID BARBARIAN IN DINOSAUR HELL is one of their favorite films. A NYMPHOID BARBARIAN IN DINOSAUR HELL isn't really a good film. But, some people just like saying A NYMPHOID BARBARIAN IN DINOSAUR HELL over and over. Try it. Say A NYMPHOID BARBARIAN IN DINOSAUR HELL. You like saying A NYMPHOID BARBARIAN IN DINOSAUR HELL, don't you? You probably don't ever want to see A NYMPHOID BARBARIAN IN DINOSAUR HELL, but you'll keep saying A NYMPHOID BARBARIAN IN DINOSAUR HELL until someone puts a sock in your mouth.
I've never seen a commercial that was a take on Campbell's WHO GOES THERE? until tonight. Apparently, Coke did one, maybe as a response to Pepsi's "The Choice of a New Generation" campaign.
INVADERS FROM MARS trailer. I love this and the remake equally. Tobe Hooper just kinda extended a lot of the ideas from the original. This trailer is sadly pinkish, but it doesn't really hurt most of the very original imagery that this classic presented. I suppose you could say it's more Marsified or something. Great stuff, in any case.

3:03 am
THE BATMAN CHAPTER 8: LURED BY RADIUM. Umm...still very, very prancey and poncey. Still, it's fun to have the serial chapters broken up. It makes it actually feel like a serial. If the marathon were long enough, we could have all the chapters. And a massive bodycount of marathoids dead from exhaustion..

3:19 am
THE CRAZIES! I've never seen this Romero gem in a theater. Considering how many times I've met the man, and how good this film is, I consider it my duty. Right from the beginning, I can tell just by the houses that this is Pennsylvania. I lived in PA for three years and I'm far too familiar with the landscape and architecture.
I love that, with very few exceptions, George Romero has been able to be a regional filmmaker. He stays close to Pittsburgh for the most part, and it gives his films a realism that productions that stray too far from home just don't have.
I know New York's too expensive, but shooting exterior's for a Spider-Man movie in Chicago, LA or even my hometown of Cleveland just isn't right. He's the quintessential New York character and he deserves New York.
It would be like...oh, I don't know...Kevin Smith shooting a CLERKS sequel in LA.
Or Woody Allen moving to London.
Or Jean Claude van Damme shooting a movie in English.
Anyhoo, back to THE CRAZIES. It's remarkably fast-paced. No time at all is wasted with exposition. The government is in Evans City before the audience knows what's happening. Of course, since it's Pennsylvania, the locals aren't about to do anything the government tells them to without a fight (at least, that's what they'd do with a Democratic administration in the White House).
The truly cool thing about THE CRAZIES is that it feels so real. I'm not necessarily talking about how Romero captured the PA lifestyle. I'm thinking more in terms of the whole "It Could Happen" thing. You can believe that the army is sent in, clueless themselves as to what's really happening in today's age of government paranoia and chemical weapons. You believe that the characters would react as they do...and that the circumstances would be similar.
Small side note. Kathy=hotness. Had to say it. (Looked it up later, the actress' name is Lynn Lowry. Yum.)
Bad planning isn't the sole province of the civilian escapees. The government is just as or more guilty of it. After all, it's their fault Trixie gets out.
Another side note. HIPPIE! Had to say that, too.
These characters deteriorate mentally and physically so quickly, it's a given that everything goes all tits up. The ending is cynical as fuck. Perfect for the 1970s, and even more applicable today.

5:00 am
I love Tim Burton. I even enjoyed his version of BATMAN for what it was, even if it wasn't Batman in the slightest. But, I have shitloads of things to do, and little time to do it in, so I take a powder and miss it and chapter nine of the serial as well.
Jeff Frank and I chat for a bit before he takes a nap and I work on transcribing these notes (***Note: I'm still transcribing a day and a half later. Go fig.). I also help pass out t-shirts for SILENT HILL and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE: III. The extra-larges are gone quickly, it takes a while for the non-plus-sized folks to show up and claim the larges and mediums. We grow our fanboys big in Ohio (it's all the fried food).
At 6:30 am, Jeff and I run down to Buckeye Donuts to get breakfast for the marathon, and what's the conversation in the donut shop about?
Science fiction. Two guys are discussing Frank Herbert's DUNE novels.
We can't escape. It is our destiny.

8:17 am
BATMAN is over. I love Danny Elfman's score to that movie. But, I've been a fan of his since the early 80s. Oingo Boingo just ruled my little world.
Now, people are hurling abuse at Halle Berry while the trailer for X-MEN: THE LAST STAND plays. I know she wasn't a very good Storm, but she's a native Ohioan, people! Show some love!

8:19 am
The teaser for SUPERMAN RETURNS. Easily the movie I'm looking forward to most this year. And considering some of the stuff coming out this year, that's saying a lot. I fucking love this trailer, I can't wait to see the full trailer in May and I can't wait to see the movie in June. In this short little glimpse, Bryan Singer absolutely NAILED how I feel about Superman.

8:20 am
A trailer for a BUCK ROGERS serial. Good stuff. But no Twikkie! (sigh)

8:22 am
SERENITY. Say what you will about Joss Whedon. Say what you will about his rabid, slavishly devoted fans. FIREFLY fucking ruled and SERENITY was amazing.
I watched BUFFY. I watched ANGEL (though I missed most of the last season). I was never a believer in Whedon until FIREFLY. It worked on levels none of the Buffyverse shows did. The show had a more logically thought-out universe for one. It was also truly an ensemble program.
And what an ensemble... I loved BARNEY MILLER, so I've always been a Ron Glass booster. Animal Mother in FULL METAL JACKET is one of the greatest screen characters ever realized. Adam Baldwin is the only motherfucker alive who could have played him, too. Dude's been in so much good shit, he could retire tomorrow and look back on an absolutely AMAZING career. Alan Tudyk truly can do anything he sets his mind to. ANYTHING. One of the most naturally funny actors alive, and also capable of great pathos. And, inexplicable as he was, Steve the Pirate ruled. Gina Torres? I've been impressed by her since she was on HERCULES and XENA. Hell, I watched CLEOPATRA 2525 just for her. If she and Lawrence Fishburne produce children...will they not be the coolest kids alive??? Nathan Fillion? Damn, man. This guy should have been a movie star ages ago. And if SERENITY and SLITHER don't do it...all the studios can kiss my behind. Speaking of people who should be movie stars...could Morena Baccarin be any hotter? My Lord, if a woman looked at me like she looks at Mal in this movie, I would surely melt into a puddle of goo. And, lovely as Jewel Staite is, she's also capable of making me into I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (Spray) with little or no effort on her part. Sean Maher? He gets better material than he ever had in the series and runs with it -- and he's got a new storyline that'll make the prospective sequels more fun (his romance with Kaylee). How could I forget Summer Glau? She has the best Wolverine moment that will never be seen in an X-Men movie. At the end, standing atop a pile or Reaver bodies, she's a tiny female version of Frazetta's Death Dealer. She gets the best hero moments in the film, and also some of the best comic material.
Such easy chemistry the cast has, Whedon was supremely lucky to have gotten each and every one of them. To the mix we already have, add the magnificent Chiwetel Ejiofor as the Operative, and the crew of the Serenity is more than just outmatched. The crew doesn't all make it out of the film -- and every death hurts. These are characters that I grew to love, and losing them was shocking.
My friend Dave had avoided this movie like the plague. He'd never watched the show, didn't bother with the DVDs, and avoided SERENITY in the theater. Afterwards, he turned to me and said. "I was wrong. I can't believe I avoided this in the theater the first time around." That right there? That was another fan being born.
The audience was pretty responsive to the wit of SERENITY...and they went FUCKING NUTS for the big conclusion to River's fight with the Reavers. As it should be. But, to highlight just how tired I am...I almost passed out in the middle of this movie that I love so much.

10:16 am
Red Bull #2. I have two left, and I'm pretty sure I'll make it now.

10:35 am
THE BATMAN CHAPTER 15: DOOM OF THE RISING SUN. Well, it was bound to happen. The audience has turned on Robin, and he's getting slandered pretty viciously. For good reason, really. First, he prances a lot. And, for some odd reason, any time Batman asks him to do something he does a little roll or flip into it. What's that for, exactly?
People have posed a couple alternatives for what the R on his costume might actually stand for instead of Robin. My two favorites? R IS FOR RETARD and R IS FOR RACIST (which this serial most definitely is). It's all so wrong.
I figure, after they take care of the Japs, Batman and Robin were gonna move to the South and keep the colored folks from voting. Geez, it pains me to see stuff like this.

10:55 am
The trailer for CYBORG 2087 with Michael Rennie (from THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL). I haven't seen it, but it doesn't look like it would hold a candle to his previous sci-fi effort.
Then, we get the trailer for FUTUREWORLD, the sequel to our final movie, and a promo for the "Roy Rogers Riders' Club" where Roy recites the Cowboy's Prayer.

11:00 am
WESTWORLD. Yeah, we're about 45 minutes behind, maybe a little more, but we're gonna make it.
I never, for some stupid reason, remember that Richard Benjamin is in this. Maybe it's because he's so great in so many comedies, that I block out his serious roles. Who knows? Maybe I'm just stupid.
Why isn't there actually a theme park like Delos?
Now, I'm not saying we need humanoid robots, or anything like that...most of what they do at the park could be accomplished with stuntmen and trickery. People would go to it! Me, personally, I'd be hangin' out in Roman World, rockin' the ancient style toga party.
Disney could build it adjacent to Epcot. Think about it. You could do a day at Disney, a day at Epcot, and then go to a medieval feast or a Roman orgy before you fly back home.
Someone get Steve Jobs on the phone. We gotta sell this idea.
We were lucky with this print. It's REALLY good.
Damn, Yul Brynner is one BAD mutha. Etcetera.

We've filed out of the theater, and people are collecting their shiny silver Certificates of Marathoid Behavior. Bruce does a kick ass job on them every year, and if I can't keep mine pristine, I cry like a little bitch.
Well, I cry like a little bitch if my Cheerios get soggy. But I'm emotional. Bite me.
Quite a few folks made it the entire run (I'm pleased to be among them -- barely), and the theater isn't nearly as trashed as it's been in other marathons. Jeff's getting pictures of people leaving with their certificates, so they're gonna be all famous on the website or something thereabouts.

Me? I'm gonna help a wee bit with the cleanup, gather my shit, have some lunch and then pass out at home.
It's been real. It's been fun. Fuck it. It's been real fun. I've met tons of great people this year, had some fantastic conversations, and watched loads of great stuff. What more can you ask for in a weekend?