When you pass by Largo on La Cienega just south of Melrose, it doesn’t look like much. A small, nondescript building on the corner of Oakwood, it definitely draws your attention less so than Trashy Lingerie, which is right across the street with all its lace and feathers, masks and garters, leather whips and long black boots, quietly defying you on the other side of those big glass windows [editor’s note: um . . . creepy]. But, right across the street without a hint of fetishistic appeal is an unassuming brick building that contains the Coronet Theatre and several other rooms that make up Largo. The entrance is a big iron gate under a brick archway and, once inside, you find yourself in a small, open-air, brick-paved courtyard with a few tables and chairs at the periphery. Off this courtyard there are at least two different bars and a large 750-seat theatre. I spent the hour before the show having a couple pints of Guinness in The Little Room Bar, which was set up like a small cabaret. The seats and tables were tightly packed and faced a tiny stage in the corner with a standing mic. The lights were dim and, though there wasn’t actually a sultry, velvet-clad songstress wearing pearls accompanied by an upright bassist in sunglasses and suit, the space simply begged for it. At fifteen minutes to show time, I finished my beer and set out across the courtyard to the theatre. On the way there, I encountered Ben Acker, a writer and half of the duo responsible for The Thrilling Adventure Hour. Upon telling him how much I was looking forward to the show, his response was promptly, “Well, let me build it for you even more then. Take however-good-you-think-it’s-going-to-be and double it. Then multiply that by 50. That’s how good this show is.” At last, with stratospheric expectations and a smile on my face, I went into the auditorium and waited for the lights to dim.
The most recent DC animated release is a series of shorts featuring staple DC Universe characters that are slightly less known. Designed to give us a glimpse and maybe pique our interest in these second-tier characters, the showcase succeeds brilliantly. It delivers four animated shorts, clocking in at around 20 minutes each, which are well-crafted and fun introductory pieces to “Captain Marvel,” “The Spectre,” “Green Arrow,” and “Jonah Hex.”
The story of “Captain Marvel,” a young boy who can change into a superhero and back with the uttering of the word "Shazam," is in itself geared toward children. This animated short from the DC Universe still manages to be engaging for the adult crowd. There are certainly a few lines that are so saturated in old, dried-out moral au jus that Superman might as well just break the fourth wall, bend his advice into the shape of a crowbar, and start beating us over the head with it. Instead, he, as Clark Kent to young, orphaned Billy Batson, and later as Superman to the newly empowered Captain Marvel, assumes the role of mentor to this wide-eyed do-good-er. There are clearly many parallels between young Billy Batson and Clark Kent, and you can understand the bond between them. Batson, orphaned at a young age and then transferred from an orphanage, to a troubled youth home, to a nice-looking-then-savagely-evil foster parents, to the street, where he currently spends his time contemplating how to be more like Superman (including unsuccessfully calling out three thugs who are robbing a homeless man). Afterward, Kent's message to the bruised youngster that doing bad is always easier than doing good, seems a little naive, but we definitely get the good intention.
Well, we lost the Super Bowl (three turnovers, Steelers? Really?!), but it wasn’t all bad. We got to see a whole bunch of new footage from movies promising to make this summer very exciting for us fans. Below are links to the TV spots and my humble opinion on what we saw.
Cowboys & Aliens Super Bowl TV Spot!!!
I have been excited about this movie ever since I first heard about it while sitting in Hall H at the 2010 SDCC (the last SDCC I may ever attend unless they figure out this ticket thing, eh Barb?!). This movie from Dreamworks/Universal is based on a graphic novel of the same name written by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. The movie has some heavy-hitters involved like Favreau, Howard, and Spielberg, and the cast is equally as exciting with Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, and Keith Carradine. Having not read the graphic novel, the movie seems to be a mash up of gritty western and sci-fi action. How could it be anything but amazing? The teaser that aired during the Super Bowl featured a ton of new footage (highlight: when Daniel Craig leaps from his horse onto a speeding UFO). Distinct from any other clips/trailers we’ve seen so far, this one was far more testosterone-fueled, giving us 30 seconds of explosions, bar brawls, crashing spaceships, and naked Olivia Wilde. What’s not to love?
For the past several months, my life has been a whirlwind of work. Writing, editing, studying, organizing, emailing, and trying to stay ahead of my various tasks while staying decidedly a day or two behind. All this, while also managing a day job and attempting to maintain an acting career on the side. Suffice it to say, I feel a bit like crawling into bed, closing the blinds, turning on a looped playlist of Richard Hawley, Elizabeth Cotten, Jens Lekman, and Nina Simone and waiting for summer. Not that all of this work isn’t incredibly exciting and fulfilling, but it certainly takes a lot out of you. I constantly feel the need to recharge my batteries, yet, when I sit down to watch a movie, I either fall asleep in the first few minutes or I am distracted by guilt throughout, considering all the work I could have completed if I’d only not fallen victim to my own sloth. I have also recently completed a trilogy of books, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, (if you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry, you’ll be hearing a lot in the next year). This young adult series was a fabulous look at a future American dystopia and offered gritty action, insightful social commentary, and marvelously strong, yet flawed, characters, all of whom come together to create a powerful story that will have you by turns laughing, crying, cowering in fear, erupting in anger, and hoping with every part of your being these people, whom you will come to love, will survive and, eventually, find happiness. All of this to say that, as much as I enjoyed this series, I felt a bit like I was put through the ringer. It’s a quick read for sure, but not exactly light.
I haven’t always been a nerd. Even now, I have reservations about labeling myself as such, not because I don’t want to be labeled a nerd; quite the opposite, actually. I’m not entirely sure that I’ve jumped all the way into the geek pool. I sometimes feel like I’m simply wading in the shallow end, and I fear being dismissed as a poser by the geek community while swimming confidently in the deep end. I read mostly trade paperbacks, and I don’t have a pull-list at my local comic shop. I love Star Wars, but I’ve seen the originals only a handful of times each. I can’t say that I’ve seen more than a few episodes of any Star Trek series, and the only Star Trek movie that I remember anything about was the J.J. Abrams one. I’m not entirely tech-stupid; I can hook up a receiver and know my way around A/V components. I can manipulate, move, and locate computer files; I have been learning Final Cut recently, but my abilities on a computer seem to hit a wall when things start to go wrong.
Emmanuel Carrere directs this adaptation of his own novel, La Moustache, creating one of the most odd, funny, and disturbing films I have ever seen. My brother recommended the film to me (thanks, Ben!) and suggested that I simply watch it and not read anything about it, including the Netflix synopsis paragraph. I did and I really enjoyed the movie. In this review I hope to talk to you a little about the movie without actually describing what it’s about. I will most likely fail, but it’s like Abe Lincoln said, “Does this beard make me look fat?”
La Moustache, starring Vincent London and the beautiful Emmanuelle Devos, is tangentially, an exploration of a modern, settled-but-not-stale relationship, and, more directly, it is the story of Marc (London) losing his grasp on reality. His unraveling begins in a bath tub as he decides on a whim to shave the mustache he has worn for the past 15 years (see how I’m failing already). From there we are plunged into an ocean of disturbing reveals and confounding twists for both Marc and the audience alike. London’s acting is subtle yet powerful as he negotiates the relationship drama and the psychological torment in a completely natural and understated manner.
So, if, in the last two weeks, I’ve spoken to you in person . . . or on the phone . . . or over email, text, or Twitter . . . or if you’ve seen any of my updates on Facebook . . . or if you’ve casually eavesdropped on any conversation to which I’ve contributed . . . or even if you’ve actively ignored me while within earshot, then you probably have heard about The IT Crowd starring Katherine Parkinson, Richard Ayoade, and Chris O’Dowd. And, you probably don’t need to read this blog (you still could though), because you’ve more than likely heard me spewing a mixture of praises, quotes, and instructions on where to find this hilarious British sitcom from writer/director Graham Linehan. You may or may not recognize Lineham as the successful creator of two other UK sitcoms, Black Books and Father Ted, but, suffice it to say, he has grown into quite the sitcom heavyweight across the pond, having won numerous BAFTAs and even an International Emmy. I can’t speak to these earlier shows, but his third major foray into the wide world of situation comedy is just brilliant, and you have to check it out! I’m not kidding; you can finish reading this, but then, seriously, go check the show out. It’s easy! The first three series’ are streaming on Netflix, so there you go. Wait. Let me actually finish this for real. The fourth season is only available on DVD, and millions of people are very excited that the fifth and sixth series have recently been confirmed for production.
Microsoft produced seven animated shorts that take place within the Halo universe and collected them all into this thrilling collection called Halo: Legends, which is currently streaming live through Netflix. It seems almost like an experiment to test the possibility of a Halo TV show because of the varying styles and tones exhibited. One short goes beyond campy and clearly targets young children, while another has cursing and close-ups on extreme violence. (The victims may be bad guys that bleed green blood, but, when a knife pushes into a skull, it affects you). These shorts are sure to excite the die-hard Halo fans; however, they are all well produced and will be highly enjoyable to anyone interested in adult animated shorts, be you a Halo fan or not.
I had the good fortune to attend the premiere of Robert Rodriguez’s new grindhouse flick, Machete, starring ex-con and Rodriguez staple Mr. Danny Trejo at the Orpheum Theater in downtown LA. Let me tell you, it was amazing. Outside the theater was a parking lot housing dozens of low riders and choppers (complete with custom paint jobs and hydraulics) which ferried the cast to the red carpet. Almost every major cast member attended and took the stage before the film screened. Robert Rodriguez gave us a brief introduction before retiring to a balcony-level opera booth to watch the film with friend and fellow filmmaker Quentin Tarantino. The movie itself is filthy and funny and chock full action, nudity, and gore. And, with an eclectic cast of amazing actors playing their over-the-top lines with absolute seriousness, this modernized exploitation film will have you laughing and shouting for more. I definitely recommend seeing this one on the big screen!
Halloween is a holiday for everyone, and I don't wanna hear any mess about how it isn't recognized as an official American holiday. (I'm talking to you, haters from Mrs. Boyer's 3rd grade class!) First, it is totally secular. So, now that I've completely contradicted my opening sentence, let me amend. Aside from fun-hating religious nuts (which is a group that does not include all religious nuts, but does include religious nuts who don't like Halloween), everyone likes Halloween for one reason or another. Being a lazy person myself, I don't always get into the spirit of Halloween, but I do love the celebration of morbid fun and dark humor, the chill in the air, the notion to dress up in a costume and walk around in public with nothing else to do but indulge in a disgusting excess of alcohol, candy, or both.
Stripes, if you haven't seen it, go see it now! You may have noticed the recent steamrolling of Hollywood by macabre movies and television (Twilight and True Blood), the horror films and horror comedies (Saw and Zombieland), the docu-horrors (Paranormal Activity 1 & 2), the horror-dramas (Supernatural and Dexter), and, of course, the adolescent sorceress sitcoms (Sabrina the Teenage Witch).