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.
(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!!!