In this age of technological dependence, you’re nobody unless somebody follows your blog. Over the past twenty years, the popularity of blogging has reached epic proportions, pervading the mainstream mass media, employment searches, pop culture, and even politics. Job search engines encourage job seekers to beef up their resumes with links to their blog and/or personal website. Major media outlets encourage their correspondents to blog (yes, it’s a verb!) to maintain a personal connection with their viewers and fans. Your mother probably has her own blog, detailing her latest attempt at Paula Dean’s Chicken Chili recipe to her Book Club friends. While the blog has become a tool for both major corporations and Justin Bieber fan clubs to reach as many individuals as possible, the communication method is without order. No harm will come to you if you do not use proper grammar or spelling. The MLA and APA police will not show up at your door, if you do not cite your reference material. Aside from the occasional questions of liability or defamation, bloggers can say whatever they want, whenever they want, to whomever will click on their blog link.
Black Swan doesn’t really need my help. It’s a film that has been flooded with gushing reviews, is nominated for a number of Academy Awards, and has a brilliant, visionary director at the helm. Still, in a culture full of overhyped and prepackaged Oscar films, Black Swan deserves to be recognized for the stand out original that it is! Below, I outline my reasons for why this film deserves the best picture award and why it should be considered a herald of glorious things to come by every proud, comic-sniffing geek out there!
Hello, my dozen of fans. It is I, your jovial misanthrope, Paul Pakler. I am going to briefly explain why I review movies (without having seen them).
1: I live in New York City, where ticket prices harbor around $12 a pop.
2: Most movies are f@#%tarded.
3: If you still don’t understand, reread Reason Number Two (and replace “Most movies” with “You”).
So, without further (Midsummer Night’s) ado, let’s review some s@#$%y movies!
Audition opens with the lead, Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), watching his wife pass away in her hospital bed, and it just gets worse from there. Admittedly, the first hour of the nearly two hour film isn’t terribly disturbing. The inciting incident occurs when Aoyama confides his longing for a partner to his friend; the friend agrees to set up a fake audition, the pretense being that they are looking for a lead actress for a movie, but in reality it is designed so that Aoyama can have statistics and backgrounds on many different women and ultimately take his choosing. The two men enjoy the experience of the numerous desperate women parading in front of them, and when Aoyama finally settles on one, things start to look very bad for him. Very bad, indeed. He eagerly begins his pursuit of Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina), a beautiful former ballet dancer who strikes him as both emotionally experienced and wounded, yet optimistic. The audience begins to get little flashes of this young woman’s hidden life, which involves a human-sized burlap sack that contains something living, and several forms of manipulation. Also, the friend character begins to check her references, none of whom can be reached, and warns Aoyama to slow down. Aoyama, blinded by love, fails to heed this advice and continues down a disturbing path of psychological and mental torment at the hands of his “prize,” leading him to a harrowing conclusion. Aoyama says of Yamakazi’s abusive past, “It’s hard to forget about... but someday you’ll feel.. that life is wonderful.” These are the closing words to Takashi Miike’s 1999 gag-inducing film Audition, and I would apply them to the movie, as well.
“Holy celluloid, Batman! There’s so much pressure on these upcoming comic book-to-movie-adaptations! If they fail, could it spell the end of comic movies?” The short answer? No, you’re stupid.
Sure, there are a ton of comic movies coming out in the next two years: in 2011, X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern, Thor, Priest, Captain America: The First Avenger, Cowboys and Aliens, and then, hopefully, The Adventures of Tintin and Dredd by the end of the year. In 2012 we’ll see Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises, Superman, and possibly, The Wolverine, The Flash, and Runaways. It all adds up to a big couple of years for nerds. The pressure IS ON!!!! Oh wait, no it isn’t.
After a great issue last month and the excitement of the coming ties to Dark Horse's Buffy Season Eight, I want to say good things about issue #42 of Angel. Sadly, this issue seems to slow the pace of the story. In addition, it contains writing that feels off for certain characters, leaving this reader feeling as if IDW has given us a filler issue when they should be making the best use of their time left with Angel. Still, there are some interesting things going on and a fairly surprising cliffhanger, so, perhaps, this issue will end up being the wind up for IDW's final punch.
(I apologize if this review becomes more and more angry or aggressive; my mouse keeps freezing on me. I unplug it and then plug it back in and it works again. For another ten minutes. Rinse. Repeat)
Another quality direct-to-DVD animated film from DC, All-Star Superman, is based on the twelve issue comic series of the same name by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Designed to be a self-contained Superman story, the comic follows a dying Superman and neither affects nor is restricted by the DC universe continuity. In this sense the story and characters are comfortingly familiar, yet with exciting new stakes. The recently deceased Dwayne McDuffie wrote the film script based on the comic. It was directed by Sam Liu and boasts an excellent voice cast including James Denton as Superman, Anthony LaPaglia as The Double L, and the incredibly cool Christina Hendricks as . . . uh... The Other Double L, Lois Lane. [Editor’s note: Sam is fired from the company and should be fired from life as well.] It has a few problems, most notably the fact the the film feels less like a coherent story and more like a compiled group of distinct episodes chronicling Superman’s last days. To say nothing of the comic (I haven’t yet read it), the film version of All-Star Superman is a solid offering with thrilling new adventures and twists with an old familiar cast of characters.
Thor has finally come down to earth! Well, Australia, to be precise. The world premiere of this highly anticipated new effort from Marvel Studios happened over the weekend in Sydney, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. BUT, we Yanks still have to wait nearly three more weeks before the the U.S. release on May 6th, and, since we’ve got all this time to kill, I thought it might be nice to learn a little bit about the characters we’ll be seeing in this epic tale of gods and men!
First, there was nothing. Except a fire demon and a magic WELL OF LIFE! Then, the north wind froze the WELL OF LIFE! Then, from layers of ice, rose the evil frost demon, Ymir! Then, also from the layers of ice, rose a magic cow (don’t ask)! After the magic cow, which totally provided nourishment for Ymir, there rose from the ice Buri, the first of the good gods, also called Aesir! Sometime after that, a woman must have arose, or several, because Buri “took him a wife” and had a son, Borr! Borr then must also have found some other women, hopefully not related to his mother, because he also married and had three children, two of which don’t seem to really matter at all, but one . . . one was ODIN!!!
In the political suspense novel, All the President’s Men, Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein phenomenally depicted their Pulitzer-prize winning investigation of the Watergate scandal, which had implicated and exposed the corruption of President Richard Nixon and his administration to the American public.
Chronicling the leads, successes, and failures of their investigation, Woodward and Bernstein created a sensational and shocking political drama which kept the audience on its toes, despite their previous knowledge of the resulting historical consequences. Capturing the totality and frightening reality of such widespread corruption throughout the United States government, the novel’s thematic emphasis embodied the quintessential mood felt throughout the American public. Corresponding with their anti-war sentiment for the Vietnam War, the people of the 1970s were becoming shockingly more aware that the government was not infallible, and that its limitless power threatened the ideals and standards on which the country and Constitution were founded. Overall, All the President’s Men greatly benefited and impacted American society, as it commemorated the complexities of the Watergate scandal for those who lived through it and those who unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) missed the events.