Monday, December 31, 2012

Quickee Incomplete Wrapup of 2012 before the Fiscal Cliff Deadline

Came back recently from Vegas, a great break from life woes this year. Saw (of all things) a great exhibit on the life of Leonardo DaVinci at the Venetian Hotel (highly reccomended) and my first time ever of seeing the Blue Man Group perform (the new show advertised as: "Now with Balls!") on stage (also highly reccomended!), and wanted to at least have ONE entry before 2013 started. Ok- So, creative projects update:
* Faith- is fully pencilled, but not inked. I'm just too slow of an inker to do it properly.... so, I'm planning another way to finish the art and have it finished by the end of January 2013 (if all is as planned).
* Black Canary- is going to be comic book form/ animation. I HATE the idea to no end about an unfinished video project, but at least I really learned a lot of things post-mortem on this project as a live-action. If only things had worked out better, and I'll go in-detail later this year about so many things learned on a future blogspot. * Claim- an old long-gestated project that never got edited, I hope to edit and finish by end of Febuary 2013- March 2013. * Spec comic adaptation project- I'm planning on working on a comic adaptation of a series of novels by a famous silver age comic book writer. More later. * My own old comics project- Three babies that I'll share more after Faith and Black Canary are done. Ok- So, onto stuff that I loved/liked/or just checked out outside of real life in 2012:
JANUARY: GAME OF THRONES. WOWZA. Forget Lord of the Rings. Aces in all categories.... it takes a couple of episodes to figure out who is who, but I'm hooked. One good/bad thing about the show: no characters are safe from getting killed off. Top five cable tv series in my book, for sure. The graphic nudity and violence aren't necessary, but it's HBO, so, that's their selling point.
FEBRUARY: Walt Simsonson's THOR Omnibus. I've been a major fan of Simonson's since his short miniseries "Manhunter" with Archie Goodwin back in the day (which won a number of comic book awards back then)--- and heard that "Thor" was considered his best work by many. My opinion? Neither the writing nor the art impressed. I would have rather have seen a recolored expensive "Manhunter" Omnibus- but NOT colored by the rather-insane (he must have been, given his recoloring work in reprints) Klaus Janson. Don't get it.
MARCH: JOHN CARTER. Well done, good but sadly not great film. I was initially wowed- moreso of how they were able to throw in so much from the books faithfully- but in hindsight... it's one of those cases where maybe the love of the detail of the books might have sidetracked making a film that could have resonated more with non-Carter fans. John Carter books are primarily wish-fulfillment stories- and for Andrew Stanton to have tried towards designing a world away from that direction felt like it lessened what could have been a visually breathtaking film into one that was merely 'ok'. (Not that that was the main problem with the film moving on all thrusters, but I'm also really picky visually when you've got all the money and technology in the world to take your breath away on a fantasy film and you don't.)
JIM LEE's "HUSH" pencil hardback. For some reason, I thought I'd learn at lot from this. I like the book, but don't really feel like I got as much out of this as I'd hoped.
APRIL: BREAKING BAD SEASON 4. Still amazing show. No wonder Frank Darabont loves it so much.
YOUNG JUSTICE VOLUMES 1-3. Very entertaining and impressive. There was a lot of love for this show, I can see why, now. Neat that they actually got Peter David to write a few episodes.
MAY: AVENGERS. Damn, I knew Joss Whedon was the only one who could pull it off. When I'm in a nit-picky mood, I might pick on some bits feeling like it was directed like a tv show at times, from how it's staged.... but, this was a near-impossible job to pull off, and JW did it. I just wish that Emily Blunt would have been cast instead (as she initially was under John Favreau) for Black Widow, but otherwise Scarlett Jo comes off FAR better here than in the disappointing IM 2. Best news of all: Joss Whedon is in charge of AVENGERS 2.
JULY: TDKR. As pleased as I was with Avengers, is as much as I hated TDKR. Totally agree with Harry Knowles review of this disaster. I guess ANYONE can make a mess.
NOVEMBER: Double great news- Obama wins. Thank God. I may actually have faith in America (overall) after all. 007 rocks under Sam Mendes. Sam, come back and do a sequel!!!
DECEMBER: Did I mention the Blue Man Group and Leonardo Da Vinci?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Art of George Perez thoughts...

Received my hardback copy of "Art of George Perez" in the mail recently, really nice book from the same IDW folks who previously came out with the great "Art of Jim Starlin: A life in Words and Pictures".

From Amazon, it's a steal...but definitely an interesting contrast to the Jim Starlin (and definitely the Jim Lee book previously mentioned)- and, in fact, there's a rather odd foreward by Jim Starlin as well in it- (In which Starlin himself muses, of all people, why he was even asked to write the foreward. Not horrible, but just a little odd.)

One thing right off the bat is just how many years Perez has been at it. Definitely makes me feel old. The choices of art pieces- like the Starlin one before it- are mostly very nice, although there are others that are just 'meh'... but that's how it goes, I suppose with these things. For sure, it's on great paper, great artist's views on his evolution of his own work, and is a nice weight and size that you definitely feel like you've got your money's worth. (Well, at least from Amazon)

With Starlin's book, much of it was dedicated to sections of his greatest comics' work- in contrast to the Perez book that breaks things up in decades (70's, 80's, etc.)

Perhaps it's appropriate, as Starlin was a writer/artist for much of his career, whereas Perez was known mostly for his art--- ((*Outside of his writing/drawing the Wonder Woman reboot and his co-plotting credits on the Crisis on Infinite Earths/Teen Titans stuff with Marv Wolfman. (His current writing on the Superman reboot has been pretty savaged by fans everywhere- and hate to say I don't see being able to defend it myself, but that's another story.)

But, anyhow- not a session on bashing Perez, as I'm not a professional artist peer but a hobbyist/fan discussing thoughts and differences between the two contributions by Starlin and Perez.

Anyhow- back to talking about the book- Perez has a lot of great insights as to what he was thinking, and his own personal feelings of his evolution during the many decades (wow) that he's been in comics.

I think I may have detailed before my suprise at the story of how Perez fell into a bit of a creative funk for awhile that got him (temporarily) a bad rep at completing deadlines that led to him getting 'blacklisted' from comics work at the two majors for awhile-

But more suprising to me were two bits:
#1: Perez talking about the importance of health insurance, looking ahead to physical limitations slowing down, and the business side of things (as opposed to Starlin's financial windfall with the novel he and his first wife wrote that got optioned by Spielberg at one point)-

#2: Perez talking about his self-published venture "Crimson Plague" and how it was just killing him financially to do the self-publishing and the lack of discipline that was implied with doing the book.

Later on in the book, it's also interesting to read about Perez's other passions- theatre and fetish videos (though I would be neglectful to also mention much press about Perez's generosity in doing much work for charity as well).... but, on a visual level- it is odd to read that Perez constantly talks about detail vs. clutter, but the further Perez's work goes- the more I feel like there's MORE clutter and more 'sameness' to his work than anything else, despite his talking about progress in his work.

I still feel that Perez's work in the 70's were perhaps his strongest material, but in the end, I question what is the 'it' that makes some images burn in one's skull (for some reason, I LOVE many of Michael Turner's covers even though I'm not all that crazy about his interior work), even when it's not as detailed or is more cartoony than I usually like.

Anyhow, still enjoy the book, and love that it helps complete a picture of the artist behind the art.

But- it also makes me question quantity over quality--- it looks like Starlin may have had less output, but his best stories still get mentioned by high profile folks like Joss Whedon and Grant Morrison- whereas Perez's art is dazzling, but has its limits.

Not sure if it's too much detail in some of his work, or too much clutter.
Sometimes less is more, but finding out what should be the 'more' and what should be the 'less' is tricky.....

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Quickee status update

Pencils mostly done on "Faith", damned if likenesses aren't a pain to get right... and I know I didn't exactly, but I put in a lot of time trying my best. I recently came across the "Game of Thrones" comic adaptation and was a bit irritated that the art didn't seem to have the effort that it could have had.... I think I really got spoiled by George Perez's "Logan's Run" adaptation--- while the likenesses aren't exactly there, either, I could see the blood/sweat/tears (and enthusiasm) of the adaptation. I tried to do the same.

But then again, I doubt the publishers wanted to wait years for an assignment to be turned in.

Anyhow, really turning my attention on inking now. I have a few pretty interesting books on comic book inking that I'll share more about next time. But, oddly, one of the things I'm also 'studying' is/are old issues of Dick Giordano's run on "Wonder Woman" and how he drew hair.... VERY interesting on how he uses big black blotches for her hair, and yet is able to get it to work. Hmp.

Hopefully will be able to post the work next time--- by the way, God bless "Comic Life" for comic book lettering software. I LOOOVE it. Man, it makes things look much better than they have any right to be. ;)


Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Catching up on March 2012: update on the art stuff-

March has been filled on the side with meetings and catchups with friends- writingwise and drawingwise...

Picked up a few art books in March, one "Classic Human Anatomy" by Valerie Winslow, who turns out to be a bay area art teacher--- and marveled/sighed at the level of detail that I probably will never be interested enough to know all the names of the parts of the human body that she lists, but should-

Picked up: "ICONS- Jim Lee", which, by comparison to the first book, in retrospect, feels a bit silly in its title. With all due respect to Lee- (and I hear he's a great guy in person to pros and fans alike--- not always something you hear about those in the biz)--- It's a nice fluff book, but in comparing it to the first one- it feels so lacking by comparison. (I've been recommended a Bruce Timm book by my cousin that supposedly outdoes it by far)

Drawingwise, I've finished pencils on "Faith", but inking has sucked--- so I'm deliberating what to do on that, for the moment.

Black Canary-wise, just haven't had time to complete the story in comic book, animation, let alone live action form.

Anyhow, oddly that hasn't stopped me from still trying to multitask and plant other seeds as well...

* One collaboration may be for a startup - more details later...

* Another collaboration is for self-publishing with a great writer that I'm meeting with in a couple of weeks, big hopes that it can work out...

* And--- there's still 80 hours of footage to edit.

So, for anyone curious about the stats on those projects, it's (sadly) still on 'SLOW....but not DEAD YET', mode...


Catching up on March 2012: Game of Thrones love

Ok, so soon after really enjoying John Carter, bought the bluray of "Game of Thrones", which had gotten a lot of buzz, and...

Short review: WOW! WOW! WOW! WOW! WOW! I'm in BIG love with a tv series again.

Slightly longer review: This has been called an 'r' rated version of "Lord of the Rings", but I think it's underselling it. (Although I recently revisited the extended versions of those films and was amazed at how much I wished that Peter Jackson had directed "John Carter" instead of Andrew Stanton- but then again, Jackson never had to deal with Disney over his shoulder...)

In times past, my 'big love' for tv has been: ROME, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, SIX FEET UNDER (although with some weak slow episodes in season two), ONCE AND AGAIN, FREAKS AND GEEKS (easily the best work Apatow has ever done- on network tv on a family show, go figure)---

There's been some romance with TRUE BLOOD (But season two then three weakened the love greatly), DEXTER (Not interested in the supporting character storylines and each season except for the last one has had some major flaws), CHUCK (Seasons 1-3 are fantastic with Anne Couffel Summers as story editor, then afterwards, it takes a giant dive in quality), WALKING DEAD (uncertain about following season 2 after Frank Darabont got screwed out of a job) but I have high hopes for this series based on season 1.

The nice thing about the series is that it's following more/less an actual series of books that already had acclaim with a showrunner that's an author himself (25 Hours)... and - like ROME - I like that all sides of the social class are represented, and the facination comes from how each of the players stuck in social classes negotiate with the rules of their society and one another to get the things that everyone wants in their lives- self-esteem, love, respect, family (in one form or another), and/or what extent they would go to protect anything that might threaten it.

The heart of the story (rightfully so, imo) is the conflict between two main family units: the Starks and the Lancasters. The Starks are (almost) the ideal family, that gets splintered and torn apart by outside forces as the father tries to live an honorable life--- and the Lancasters- a powerful and rich family who are cruel and unmerciful in their pursuit of domination.(except for the drunken, cynical but most decent youngest dwarf brother, Tyrion, who is played by the brilliant Peter Dinklage who rightfully won an Emmy for this role).

Anyhow, the players in the first few episodes is a little tricky to follow, but once you get who they are- then it's incredibly easy to fall into this show, that hits every mark just right- if Star Trek: The Classic Series was groundbreaking for scifi/fantasy for the 60's, and Trek: TNG (and its extensions) broke even more ground decades later for the quality of scifi/fantasy--- Game of Thrones breaks it again, with supernatural elements to a minimum (there's very little, and very little necessary, thank goodness) but human elements to a premium.

Game of Thrones I should say, also doesn't mind killing off characters the audience falls greatly in love with--- and (so far) there are no magical 'resurrections' or 'time reversals' that only make mainstream fans (rightfully so imo) groan or dismiss fantasy as something unrelatable to daily living.

Game of Thrones--- kinda like an updated English HBO version of "Legend of the Eastern Condors".

That's as a high a praise as I can give it.

Catching up on March 2012: John Carter of Arizona

Short review: I REALLY ENJOYED IT!
Slightly longer review: BUT....

Peter David put it best- Andrew Stanton was sort of in a lose-lose situation.
If he was 100% faithful to the books, then the movie adaptation might have felt extremely dated.

If he updated/reinvented things to compete with all the scifi/fantasy movies that have come after that have already been influenced by the John Carter books- then,loyalists would have felt betrayed.

So--- given that- it's a pretty amazing tightrope that he walked. The movie is very enjoyable.

The script adaptation itself--- it introduces a world that's not going to be all that easy to begin with to relate to (the civil war era) and take us to another world that's not all that easy to relate to, nor is all that magnificent to look at (MOre on that later)... so we're introduced to many characters and many situations but without too much confusion nor exposition. That's a task in itself.

The CAST is amazing. I'd argue that Stanton might have taken a short cut or two by choosing actors in similiar supporting roles in "ROME", but who cares? Well cast is well cast.... particularly the leads.

80 percent of casting John Carter I think has to be the looks. Fortunately, the guy from Friday Night Lights (fantastic show btw) works just fine. He makes a good lead, although I'm not certain how much acting is required of him in parts like this. There wasn't a second I didn't buy him, but...

More amazing casting is Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris. While she doesn't look exactly like the Dejah Thoris I've seen in the comics, she steals the movie imo- In many ways, the story centers around the relationship between Carter and Thoris (Why the marketing team wasn't fired by Disney is a complete mystery to me) and while I may have had problems with some of Stanton's other choices, Lynn Collins is a powerhouse in her performance as the Princess of Mars. (If you view her interviews, she's VERY different in person from her character).

And-- beyond being a fan of the books...I can't say I'm totally unbiased- for an outsider I'd imagine the movie works, but again, can't say for sure. (One relative didn't believe the film at all, another thought it fun.)

In any case, it certainly deserved a better fate than what Green Lantern got.
But, on the other hand....


Where the hell did the $250 million go, Andrew???? I've seen Arizona deserts! Boo! Hiss!

As a visual medium, I would think that artists would salivate over movies of this kind that are RIPE for eye candy. Where was the eye candy? For years I've heard that John Carter was the movie that George Lucas, John Favreau, Robert Rodriguez wanted to make--- but to be frank, the ultra-campy FLASH GORDON of the 1980s were far more memorable visually!

Or David Lynch's "DUNE" (Forgiving the unfortunate poster taglines, insulting one's experiences or imagination) ;p

Even the horrible Star Wars prequels didn't cost $250 million but had pretty planets! What the hell, Andrew?
(Though truth be told, as a movie, "John Carter" is better actingwise and storywise than all three Star Wars prequels combined, but still--- eye candy opportunity greatly wasted)

Also..... the sad thing is, even with what was chosen--- wasn't photographed in a particularly interesting way as "FLASH GORDON" or "DUNE". Sad because Stanton had all the resources available, (I bought the 'art' book for John Carter as well), but if it's not on the screen, it's not on the screen.

What's there is a really good movie, but why couldn't it have been a visual spectacular at the same time? Oh well.... thankfully, I have Game of Thrones for both content and style (more later)....

News clips and 'news' mob mentality

First off...
Have to remark on a recent news bit with a Korean Christian family who on-camera were still crying but forgave the killer of person who killed their sister/daughter/mother.

I know there's already background info tracing bad fortune/whatever for the shooter, but I NEVER have any real sympathy for the shooter or the choices that get made when someone takes a gun and starts blowing people away randomly. Maybe he did have a crappy life, but who doesn't?

But- enough about that a-hole who turned himself in (which is a little odd in itself, did he come to his sense afterwards? Who knows? A family member of that family mentioned that if he did have mental health issues in Korea, he might not have gotten help, either- but he wouldn't have had access to guns to shoot up everyone else at the same time...because guns are legal in the US. Good point!

Anyhow--- can't imagine what it's like to be a family member with dealing with a loss in that way, let alone forgiving them. I hear of this happening, but seeing the people uncontrollably crying right soon after news of the death, and automatically forgiving is really jarring. They see the world in a way that doesn't prevent them from feeling the pain, but extending their compassion instead as a response--- and I still can't quite get over it, but I hope that their faith gets them through having to live with the loss every day.

Me? If proven to be true, then I always thought that the shooter should be given to the family's victims, and let them decide the fate....forgiveness or not. Mainly, I think about the 4 year old without a mom because this a-hole decided to use a gun to demonstrate his manhood when he decided to act out..... I still don't know how these folks can forgive- but maybe the cost is greater to themselves not to.

I know it's something that happens in different forms every day in lower income neighborhoods with probably zero press.... but it's timing that I saw it.


In other news, that whole craziness with the kid that got shot, with nobody taken into custody. I'm not mentioning names, because the whole story isn't there, and it's kind of ridiculous to make a hero or villain out of anyone before all the facts are there.

If there's a plus side to any of it, it's how the news media is being exposed for going WAYYYY over the line, as well as people overreacting to it, and causing great damage to bystanders by reacting and not thinking first.

Thankfully nothing serious apparently happened to them, but Spike Lee tweeting the wrong address for a mob to attack--- Well, let's just say I'm glad it was a celebrity that did it, so that it can be exposed what NOT to do in the future and its possible consequences. (Not that I'm sure anyone really cares, but it was nice to see the innocent couple that Spike Lee had his followers target mention how sorry Lee was for what he did.)


On a lighter note, the new flying car looks terrible. Didn't anyone see Blade Runner for reference?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Almost finished with the entirety of the pencils (now numbering 50+ pages) for "Faith".
Man, it took a long time. Wish I could feel stronger about my inking, but...

Almost finished. Cool!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Brlliant new show.... pity it's not on cable...

"Awake"- freebie FULL pilot from NBC, about a cop who gets into a car accident, then awakes into two realities: one where his wife survived the car accident, another one where his son survives instead. The beginning is a little slow, but by the end of the pilot, I dare you to have a dry eye about the short discussion on sanity and the value of loved ones. I don't know how the show will develop (it seems like something better as a miniseries), but color me extremely curious.

Free pilot.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Whitney's fall, Kick-Arse Abe Lincoln, and Faith update

This weekend, had a tragic death--- That is, my distant relative died from a pretty horrible accident from powertools (not joking), killing him instantly.

Whitney Houston's death I saw announced whilst at the gym, puffing away rather pathetically on the hamster treadmill between two tv screens, one with the Chinese New Year's parade, the other with CNN.

Didn't know her 'quickee life story' until it was capsuled in news bits later, about her fall from fame (for the most part) ending up being a broken lush with most of her fortune gone.... It's a shame that she couldn't transform her riches into helping others as well as herself, instead of blowing it all into drugs and building something- but, I guess not every celeb can turn into Angelina Jolie.

After the death of my stepfather in a horrible (they're all horrible) senior home, I always question when life should end for each individual. Was life too long for Whitney or too short? Was she on a spiral that just would have gotten worse with no escape?

For me, so long as things are stable enough with finances/family and I have enough resources to be able to create for myself- I'm happy enough to want to keep on creating until go blind or my drawing arm melts, or both. ;p

Anyhow. Everyone is saying that Whitney died too young.
I dunno. Only she knew if she wasn't going to be able to beat her own demons at that stage of life. If so, then she lived maybe too long.

Again, only she knew...

Transitioning to that-
"Abe Lincoln- Vampire Hunter"--- Wow, the title itself sounds like the type of film I would have love to have made. ("Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter" was a giant boring disappointment, but may be up for a healthy reboot if Abe works)

If they only blended this with the Twilight series, and had Abe hunting down Bella and Edward in his time travel machine, then I'd be more confident it's going to be a good movie, but, damn, in any case, this trailer with Abe swinging a mean axe at exploding trees definitely looks like it'll fulfill in the 'kickbutt' department.

Funny how it may compete with Speilberg's "Lincoln".

I do wonder if it's a better life tribute.

In fact, if I died and had a motion picture based on my life, I think I'd like it to be "Crazy Asian Man- Vampire Hunter" than a biopic about my real life directed by Spielberg.

(Actually, it could work for any tragic death. Not that my life may be more significant than a pop star, but.... it may lead to a great new trend of re-inventing biopics. I can see it now.... "Lady Diana-Vampire Hunter", "Ghandi-Professional Assassin for Hire", "John Lennon-Firestarter", "Whitney Houston-Ninja by Night", "My distant relative who died via powertools- The Ghost Plumber", etc.)

Anyhow.... speaking of vampire hunters....

Faith. 54 pages total now, with some redrawn panels here and there. Liking it better.
Two weeks to refine the pencils to my satisfaction, I think. Two months to ink.

So....looking at April 2012.

Unless I die first, of course.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Powerful Minute and a Half from Dirty Harry....

A lotta buzz over the Superbowl commercials- my favorite being the "Avengers" teaser, to a minor degree "John Carter".... and, now- THIS-

Is it propaganda or just inspirational or just hitting the right note at the right time?

Dunno- maybe it's all three.

It's been said: (though I didn't say it, someone else said it first)"
"All art is propaganda".

To make something so powerful in such a short time is amazing- but breaking it down to its elements and trying to re-create it is always fascinating to me, too...

Pretty suprised Clint Eastwood's presence works so well here-
(I doubt his ex-wife would be much moved by the commercial, but o well)

It's just a pity that filmmakers didn't have him take a gun out at the end and shoot one of the gabillionaires who started the financial crisis in America in the first place.

Maybe in the sequel commercial...

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Art Supply Store Reminders...

Took a trip to the art store today for more supplies- Hadn't been there in awhile, was an interesting experience to float in a store surrounded by other folks in there (*bear in mind, my day jobs have rarely if ever had co-workers remotely interested in comics, art, or chatting about movies to the degree I do) who I suspect also knew the pain of being someone who struggles with the blank canvas/piece of cardstock.

The rather depressed mumbling staff of this particular store hasn't changed, although the faces have. One suspects that the staff was hired for being familiar with art materials more than being extroverted salespeople- but that's cool. I understood that the experience of having to interact with unpredictable people in retail isn't an artists' first choice at all, so I always try to be an easy as possible customer.

But, I digress.

I missed the pluses that come from the atmosphere of being around others who know the love and frustration of creating anything, as I did in the short time I was able to attend a (too) few art classes. The camaraderie of other art students young and old was usually always evident, and I realized how much I missed it.

As the middle class shrinks to nada (though I hope that will be reversed as time continues), the likelihood of people being able to take community college art classes (including myself) at affordable prices on the side will probably dwindle as the prices of these classes start to skyrocket.

Not a pity party post- just a sad thought that came up about whether or not nieces and nephews will be able to know some of the joys that can come up in the college experience of exploring different things beyond just something to pay the bills.

Crossing fingers things get better for the middle class in the long term....

Thursday, February 02, 2012

'Super' vs. 'Colombiana'--- Weird & cheap vs. Slick & shallow

Recently saw two films that I was curious about... one was 'Super' written/directed by James Gunn, a screenwriter who reportedly makes a FORTUNE in Hollywood over the years ("Scooby Doo" is one of his big credits) but is also a big comic book fan and 'Super'had a lot of buzz on and the other was 'Colombiana' produced by the Luc Besson ("Le Femme Nikita", "Leon", among other things) action factory.

Let's start with "Colombiana"--- A family member said it best- "A good action movie, but not very realistic". I'd agree with that, but also add that it was a pity that the movie wasn't a little more ambitious and went out out on a limb somewhere. Robert Mark Kamen, one of the screenwriters, (Writer of "The Karate Kid 1, 2, and 3) seems to be able to write engaging enough action films- but with little leftover a day later to remember it.

The movie was engaging enough, with a scenario that's a bit unbelievable at times- but I just wish that there would have some scene or bit that would have made me go, "Ah, THAT'S why the filmmaker was driven to make this movie".

Back when John Woo was making personalized action films (Now it's hit or miss), I'd be thrilled by the action scenes, but more thrilled by the point in which the movie would reveal the scene or two that would take you off guard by the intensity of emotion that would rarely be seen in a formula action flick (There are plenty of them in early John Woo action films- the last great American film that Woo did with this had to be "Face Off"). John Woo at his best tends to have a lot of sappy moments when he's unfiltered- but at the same time, extremely emotional ones as well that take you off guard.

Colombiana....doesn't have any of that. It's engaging for a far-fetched premise, but just engaging enough. The broad strokes of the story are made even stronger by having someone on screen explain what's going on every few minutes or so- but it's decent enough for a dumb action film. In watching the size of the crew behind the film at the end, it's a bit painful knowing how impersonal the final result feels.

It's slick and got the basic job done, though I wish I could have been a little suprised.

On the other end of the spectrum.... We have "Super".

Now, on first viewing, I just thought that the movie was really a mess. The film looks ugly (why not just have it be shot on video on a steadicam if going for such a look?), and the movie felt like it couldn't decide if it wanted to be taken serious as a drama, if it wanted to be a comedy, if it wanted to be a gross-out Troma film, if it was making a statement--- I'm not sure, but outside of parts I liked, it had 'cult' written all over it--- particularly because despite a lot of misfires in the film, the last five minutes takes a turn that I thought was sad and made sitting through the film worthwhile.

Then, after listening to the feature commentary, I don't know if I liked the movie more because of it..... but it was refreshing to hear that both actor and director made almost EXACTLY the movie they had in mind, crazy tonal shifts, underdeveloped screenplay and all. They even were so bold as to share that for the actor, this was THE movie that made him feel artistically satisfied so much so, that he could die and be satisfied.

The joy and satisfaction on the commentary made me feel a bit more respect for the film.... why?

Well, to me, there's little that's more painful to see all the time and effort put into a film- and then have the results go astray for a multitude of idiotic reasons... and so, what's gotten onscreen is an embarrassing mistake that didn't even really represent what the creative person had in mind in their head to begin with.

In any case:
"Colombia" was engaging enough, but was slickly made for a decent budget with a big crew.

"Super" was downright weird (and unpleasant in a Troma way at times) with some very entertaining bits (particularly the crazy almost love-romance between the main wannabe superhero character and his psychotic fangirl groupie)and a strangely beautiful ending.

In other words, it was high budget slick film vs. crude low-budget vanity project--- in the end, it's funny how the weirdo vanity project has me remembering more bits and pieces and lines of dialogue from the film, than the slick formula flick.

Or maybe it's not so suprising.

In any case, shelling out the money for "Super" feels better than shelling out the money to see "Colombiana".

Why? Because ultimately "Super" feels far more personal- like a labor done out of love- after listening to the commentary, it really confirms it. "Colombiana" feels like a project designed to make money (even if it may or may not be).

Weird, cheap, and passionate as hell ftw over the successfully slick.
Maybe not always, but in this case I think so-

Or, as the superhero in "Super" would say:

(*Not that it makes any particular sense, but, hey, it's one of a few memorable signature lines in the film and is fun to write.)

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Holy Adult Superhero Fan Film Batman!!!!?@*&

I always thought (or hoped) that if something was a parody, that low budgets could be forgiven- but at the same time, the fun could come out of being able to visually look and feel like the original. That was my hope with "Vangelis" (Oh god he's still talking about that one)- there were pains (albeit with a low budget) to mirror the show. Giant pains.

Anyhow--- Came across this- and was shocked at what looks like fairly high production values for what's basically a fan film... with porn mixed in. :0

Apparently, this isn't the only 'big' scale superhero porn parody. This same guy is also working on a Spiderman parody, a Superman parody, and more. And the trailers look good, suprisingly! (And at times the costumes are more faithful than their Hollywood counterpart)

Not sure what to make of it....but whatever value a superhero fan film has/had compared to its Hollywood counterparts, the entertainment value is even more in question if it's competing with big budget porn counterparts!


In other news, men of science have invented a bullet that can move around and kill their targets, and may have it available for the private sector soon.

So much for science elevating mankind. They're more interested in elevating drivebys.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Hell. YEAHHHHH!!!!!

I usually don't jump and down over news events....

After the disappointment of not seeing Bryan Singer be able to unleash his Superman Returns sequel, nor his version of X-men 3---

And after the suprising delight of X-men First Class with Singer producing and Vaughn directing...and LOVING most of that film-

Finally, some good news-

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Eventually I'll create a post to detail why and how I got into this mess of how I blew my own deadlines (repeatedly) over the "Faith" comic. But.... some of the pages I wasn't too happy about, in the midst of re-drawing/touching up & laying out the rest of the pages--- anyhow, looks to be about 50 pages total. Yikes. But, an end looks to be in sight, now!

Black Canary? Don't ask me yet. It ain't dead, though. (At least, not quite yet)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Jim Shooter's side of Marvel Comics...

Yesterday, had lunch with my cousin who had graduated with a bachelor's in animation, and we talked about portfolios (I have none to speak of, it's on the list of 'things to do eventually but hopefully before I die') and best ways to tackle the issue of not enough time to do what you want /etc. etc. and trying to think of smart ways to work faster in developing skills that could atrophy easily. (Especially if- in my case- they're not close to what I want)

In the meantime, on the web, came across Jim Shooter's blog detailing his experiences working as Marvel's editor-in-chief and then president of Marvel & Valiant, as well as other experiences.

Now, anyone who knows me knows I'm a nut about the Bronze age of comics & would have loved nothing better than to have had a career in comics (much like, to my suprise, a ton of other folks as well growing up)- and kept an ear to the ground on the happenings behind the scenes pre-Internet about the Marvel/DC battles, and Shooter was often listed as the villain who destroyed careers of many of the old-timers at Marvel....

But... in reading the rather uncensored version of events from Shooter's blog, while nothing is completely unbiased- it brang up quite a few interesting stories about many of the individuals working there- and arguments and fights that might have stayed behind Marvel's closed doors, but rang of the truth. (Though, again, taking everything with a grain of salt).

Shooter, to his credit, kept most of the documents that he talks about his blogs over fights over ownership of original artwork (I had no idea that at one point, writers got to have a pages of original artwork--- a fight that would erupt between pencillers, inkers, and writers).... over camps loyal to this/that editor, down the line.

Fascinating reading. It asks for a donation, and I'll swing something over, I think I got enough out of it to make it worthwhile.

Anyhow..... I know that working for Marvel or DC in the bronze age doesn't (and hasn't) exist/existed for a long time, according to Bronze age artists and writers who aren't able to get work from them today, who describe its current environment.

But...even reading some of the ugliness hinted at those companies, it's still a childhood dream. Considering a lot of the ugliness to face up and around in 'real' life though, it's nice that both companies are still in existence in some form*, like some oddball twisted version of Camelot that continues to create things that tug at imaginations and can be shared. (*I'm skeptical how long comic book companies will last- competing with videogames and the internet can't help).

Neat to get a 'virtual' glimpse of what that life might have been like, via Shooter's journal.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

If Lucas can be! :O

Read this article from the New York Times-

Was shocked that the creator of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and ILM (among other things) could be rejected so badly at this stage of his career. I know that I have some criticisms of his work, but... damn! Hearing that he had to pay for EVERYTHING on his new feature "Red Tails"- including prints, is incredibly shocking to me.

I'm not sure how to take this... that even the biggest of us can be forgotten and dismissed- either can be encouraging or depressing to those who want to see something they've created get picked up.

I wouldn't feel too sorry for George. I think he'll be ok. And better off than 99% of us, for sure...

He could always make another Star Wars movie, if he's hard up for cash....

Monday, January 16, 2012

Kirby's messages in a bottle....

From a great article in "Back Issue" speculating what Jack Kirby would have done with his incomplete "New Gods" series (Grant Morrison sums his series in one line:"Jack Kirby doing the bible in comics form")--- The article plants a great idea: that even though Kirby's ambitious (and still long-remembered) "New Gods" series got cancelled by DC in rather short time, Kirby's move back to Marvel with "The Eternals" and later on to Pacific Comics with "Captain Victory"--- show bits and pieces of what Kirby might have done with the New Gods--- only with different names and costumes.

It's not a ridiculous idea...but a fascinating one. It's a pity that even though there's nothing new that can be said that hasn't already been said about Kirby, as a personal exploration, I'm currently pursuing the other 'god-like' stories by Kirby (thank goodness almost all of them are in collected editions) and trying to extract what I feel might have been his 'true' ending for the New Gods series.

In doing some minor research on Kirby's work, I'm reminded of his sad endings.... although he's immortalized in comics- boy, it's a horrible reading of how minimized his contributions were during his employment at the companies. Makes being aware of Stan Lee's success a bit bittersweet in viewing.... the question remains: 'why didn't Lee work harder to share the wealth with his co-creators?'

What's great is that, even as unrecognized and underappreciated as Kirby may have felt, hopefully his work filled a spot in his heart and spirit when he was alive, even if he never truly got the financial success he deserved.

Hopefully, it's an idea that can fill others who do work that never get recognized, hopefully it's an idea that can inspire others who may constantly self-doubt their own efforts. It's amazing to think how many dismissed his work in his heyday..... but, I take some joy in knowing that (as cliched as it sounds) remembering the man and his work is something. I don't know if it ends up curing cancer of the body, but who knows how art can cure cancer of the spirit. Anything that inspires to do work outside of themselves can only be a positive, and hopefully something we do can add to that.

At least we gotta try.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Golden Globes opinions

A little ashamed to admit that my primary interest in checking out the Golden Globes this year was solely from the news of Ricky Gervais punching out egos with his sharp tongue, from all the buzz from last year's Globes.

What is it about Simon Cowells of the world that draw attention? I generally hate critics who sit back and comfortably bash, but maybe it's the excessive self-congratulatory nature of the Academy Awards over the last couple of years that have drawn my ire.

Other trivial opinion bytes:
* Why don't Amy Poehler and Tina Fey host this thing? Female commediennes rock.
* Boy, Jessica Lange seems a bit bitter. Guess I can't blame her with her husband leaving, after a zillion years...
* Kate Winslet seems a bit bitter. Guess I can't blame her with her husband leaving, after a zillion years...
* Madonna seems a bit bitter. Guess I can't blame her with her husband leaving, after a zillion years...
* Ashton Kutcher, on the other hand, looks incredibly young and happy. Huh. Go figure.
* Marty Scorcese rocks. He, for some reason, always seems to be enjoying where he's at.
* Angelina and Brad look a little uptight. Maybe Jennifer threatened to be there tonight.
* Nicole Kidman. I wonder if she can do comedy?
* Like the last passive-aggressive zinger from Gervais about the luxurious freebies and the recession. It seems doubtful that any attendees are hurting as much as others from it.

So, that's my golden globes bit.

In any case, progress on writing is happening at a nice pace....
The realization that, as adults, (and as things get posted on the internet), there's this giant fear of failure and amateurism, when everything's under a microscope on the internet..... and I've been sucked up in that for too long. Paralysis via internet awareness.

The thing is:
What about the joy of just creating? So, anyhow, I've recently reminded myself that the world is NOT the internet, contrary to popular belief. If you don't give yourself permission to make many wrong moves, how will you ever make the right ones?

So, beware, world. I now no longer fear the internet. Nor failure.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

And so, it begins...

Well...hopefully I'm not as maniacal as Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight, but who wouldn't want to have his/her act together as much as that guy in making plans, multitasking, and actually getting things done?

Anyhow- mixed news.

Good news- (for me) I'm finally getting parts of my creative train moving.

Finished a rough draft of a new script for a short film on Thursday, am touching base with multiple members of those who like to write, and am prepping some more edits to "The Claim" to bring to the Apple store in a few days, to get some fresh help on new ideas to upgrade the edit as much as I can.

Although I'm FAR from caught up, it feels good to start checking things off the list...

Monday, January 09, 2012

Time vs. Cam....

There seems to be two truths in life (ok, maybe more than that, but it sounds better if only two)---

One, everything takes a hell of a lot longer than you expect in life.

Two, that you always have a lot less time than you think.

Bah. Humbug.
One week of January has already passed.

The most likely thing to get finished in January is either:
#1: Edit 'The Claim' (a 40 minute video/film I did years ago that I've sat on forever)
#2: Pencils complete for Faith (the comic book that should have been done in a month, yet has taken almost three years to finish)

Where's that DeLorean to zip me back in time so I can catch up and be where I wanna be?

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Well, that's a real bummer.... Creative Screenwriting RIP

I was greatly looking forward to attending the Creative Screenwriting Expo this upcoming year, only to find out that the place seems to be closing shop.

That's an extreme bummer....
Years ago, resigned myself to the fact (due to personal stuff and different factors) that the day job would be, well, a day job. But on the sidelines, I could pour my energies into projects that I enjoyed, audiences be damned.

I actually have completed a few screenplays- but they're pretty much- well, 'first' screenplays. One made it through the rounds of the Walt Disney Fellowship (I remember talking to the person on the phone about why I hadn't received my response yet), but it didn't quite place.

The third one did much better...I think. But in any case, it didn't make it to the final round, and it's only the final round that counted. Sorta. Kinda.

One screenplay every couple of years isn't exactly dedication.

(There's a similar story I have for my comics, "The Preacher" and "Angels"- where I got a personal letter back from Tom DeFalco of Marvel comics at the time that said some complimentary things about the material that may have been just him being a nice guy, but ultimately- it got rejected. Rejection is rejection.)

In any case...

INTELLECTUALLY, everyone knows the ideal is just to bounce back, learn, and jump back on the horse.

In reality, the portfolio reviews and rejection slips can do a number on you.... but it also gets you to take a step back and see if there are also other areas in life that you have been neglecting beyond your creative dreams.

I did what most seem to do, keep the day job, and try to improve upon the creative stuff-- but, it is easy to get dispirited when the waiting takes so long (years) for any positive return.... Whether it's writing or drawing.

Even though I've just got done listening to an interesting podcast by John August about whether or not screenwriting books help, or whether or not the screenwriting conferences/events help...

For my part-
I don't know if it helps actually make a dream come true- it's highly possible that what the job actually requires may or may not be beyond what I can provide. (One professional in an interview said that tv writing/screenwriting is where you can make a 'killing', but not a 'living'.)

Just keeping it real.

Just like Comicon (when it WAS comicon, and not the overpopulated circus that I disdain now in attending, but continue to submit scribbles to the book, because it's still fun)....

Attending the Screenwriting Expo was a thrilling event for me, because it was like attending Comicon when it was smaller. It was far more personal.

Not being in an artistic day job, it was thrilling to be surrounded by other folks who knew the isolation of writing something that may or may not be completely ridiculous- and similarly had the crazy hope of actually seeing one of what they came up with actually get accepted and transformed into a film. Or be validated with a big wad of dollar bills thrown in their face in exchange for it. ;)

But, all kidding aside, I really dug being surrounded by people of all ages & sizes who hadn't 'made the sale' yet- (possibly never)- but were able to cheer one another on, in sharing their 'day job' stories and doing 40-50 drafts of their screenplays with the reality that it may all be in vain.

There were the professionals who were invited and always had one of three stories to tell that I found fascinating: (1) what life was for them before they 'got in' (not everyone was born/connected to Hollywood), (2) what the reality of the life is once they did get into that field, and/or (3) the mental frustrations and frustrations of trying to solve story and character problems.

I dug it all (and maybe too much, who's to say?).... but moreso the closing affair, where I was pleased to see a roomful of wannabe writers (I am, too, though part-time- but that's why I feel ok using that term) not be competitive and bitter towards one another, but cheer on smaller awards to the normal joes who had families to feed, no easy paths to get what they wanted, but still took the time and discipline to do the crazy and nurture that creative spark that could so easily get snuffed out by time, age, and life in general.

I hope that Creative Screenwriter & the Expo overcomes its hurdles and continues on.
If it doesn't, though, I'll remember that one year I was able to attend. It was nice.*

(*Although I'm leaving out the part about preparing my parody of Angel/"Vangelis" to give in person to the head writer of the actual "Angel" tv series, Tim Minear--- only to find out that God burned down his house at the time, so he couldn't attend at the last minute....EXTREMELY SUCKED-- but, hey, at least the rest of the trip was nice.)

Saturday, January 07, 2012

My Master Plan to Improve the Oscars - 2012

I could care less about the superbowl. I could care less about the Olympics. I could care less about the Barbara Walters' specials...

I do dig (when I can) watching the Academy Awards year after year, when I can- (the one where Michael Moore starts mouthing off at the president was a personal favorite one... although why did Sean Penn keep quiet that same year when he won an award? *sigh*)- and it's one of the few events during the year where I can get excited about who's going to win for this or that, in the hopes that he/she will get more clout to make more films that I actually like. (And maybe have more clout to do better movies in the future).

Oddly, I usually don't mind the excitement that surrounds the show for a bit. The world could use a distraction from all its real problems once a year--- but...

But, as we all know, the 'event' aspect of the Academy Awards keeps diminishing year after year--- and I do give credit for the producers to try to do something to shake things up and rethink some of the things that they've done in the past to alienate new viewers on their own anyways. (The omission of "The Dark Knight" was a crime against humanity. At least when the omitted 'Robocop' for best picture the year that came out, they had the decency to have Robo come out on stage at one point. Would it have killed them to have gotten Christian Bale to come on stage in full costume or zip by with the Batpod?).

(And I'm loving the chance to actually use that word)
Not that Hollywood has asked me, but here are my top ten suggestions to fix the Academy Awards and make it once again an event worth viewing:

#10: Get rid of recently new 'actors' self-contratulatory tribute to one another' kissing the ass of every actor who's nominated on the stage. Isn't it an honor just to be nominated? Do we really need to sit through a few minutes of having your overpaid co-star blather on about your contribution to mankind, just in case you lose? (*Angelina Jolie, Susan Sarandon, Sandra Bullock, Nick Cage, and a few other celebs who DO actually use their fortunes to aid mankind as an exception.)

Alternatively.... add a similiar five-minute tribute by other screenwriters, art directors, costumers, makeup crew, sound technicians by their colleagues or best friends from high school. If stars say that every person is equally important on a set, why doesn't the Academy put their money where their mouth is? Eh? Eh?

#9: Use a real stopwatch to time every Oscar winner who goes to the stage to thank his or her agent and everyone else on the planet (though of course the screenwriter usually is left out- go figure)....(*unless, of course, they're thanking me personally for their success, in case I demand that they add another hour and a headshot on stage for that situation). Also, rather than have the orchestra be the security guard when they go past time, actually use one of the security guards. A taser is far more effective than a guy with a tuba for silencing someone that needs to be silenced at the appropriate time.

#8: Speaking of Oscar speeches, no mention ever of your winning the Oscar as a defining moment of history. (Looking at you, Halle!) It may well be, but it's bad form.

#7: If you must have musical numbers, use Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, or Cirque Du Soleil. (But then again, Cirque Du Soleil can make a show about the AT&T Telephone book seem dangerous and exciting.)

#6: Where's the wheelchair ramp to the stage? Eh? Eh? For shame.

#5: Live animals on stage throughout the entire show to remind us all that entertainment is important, but so is humility. If they're not potty trained, the better. (Personally, I wouldn't mind the son or great grandson of the monkey in that old Clint Eastwood movie back when he was a young guy that you were intimidated by, as opposed to being an old guy that intimidates.)

#4: Steve Martin. As much as possible.

#3: Occupy tents on the red carpet for the Oscar pre-show. Hey, if these Occupy folks are REALLY serious about getting the attention of the 1%....

#2: Each Oscar statuette is worth far more than most families' income in these hard economic times. I say reduce the gold content by 80%, sell that portion of the gold to help the 99%, and keep 10% of the original Oscar statuette- (See my brilliant photoshopped concept below for how they can execute this)

#1: Change the name of the 'Oscars' to the 'Harv's'.

'nuff said.

(Warning: self-indulgent post) Zen and the art of filmmaking....YEAH, RIGHT! ;p

Late last night re-watched the directors' cut of "Amadeus" (ironically I think the theatrical cut is better, the director's one is just longer) - a brilliant film adaptation that I need to remind myself to rewatch now and then more often.

(For those who missed it, "Amadeus" is based on the play about the rivalry between two composers- the brilliant and childlike Wolfgang Amadeus- who is a 'failed artist' within his lifetime, but legendary after his lifetime - and Salieri - who is a 'successful artist' within his lifetime, but also lives to see people forget him and his work- and is tortured by always feeling that he had the ability to recognize creative genius in music, but never able to achieve it himself. The Academy Award winning movie is about a lot more than just that, but I'm simplifying & you can always look it up Wikipedia anyhow.)

But- anyhow - reason I bring it up, is that I have a good number of actor and writer friends who have not 'made it' nor are 'living the dream'--- and are doing the 'non-creative job' thing to pay the bills, and may do so until their death. It's a reality... but life can be far worse, for sure. (Been there, done that)

Still, I love and admire that they still keep their creative flame alive-

I know there's the saying: "If a tree falls in a forest, and there's no one around to hear it, is there sound?"

Similarly, if someone does work that can never make them a Mozart NOR a Salieri, should they pack up their bags and call it quits? Or after a year? Two years? Two decades? Two centuries?

Currently, I'm reading a buddhism/philosophy book that talks about life and broadening your acceptance of whatever life does and doesn't give you.... and it's very calming, but at the same time: it's COMPLETELY contrary (or seems that way) to the idea of trying to create your own film/video.... or meeting a deadline.

Buddhism seems to be about accepting all as is, and teaching oneself not to be judgemental. Making a video or a perfect illustration seems to be about TOTALLY being judgemental and not accepting things until they're 'right' and torturing oneself to action until they are. It's about clinging onto a dream of perfection (even if your head calmly tells you that's never possible even in the most ideal situations) and constantly erasing and starting over again until it is- despite all odds.... whereas Buddhism is about NOT clinging onto anything to release your own suffering.

So, zen and the art of filmmaking? Not so much, unless you're making a David Lynch film, where the process IS the film. (And you've already earned an Academy Award nomination for directing for credibility or have incredible charm and perfect hair. I have none of those....just the clingy part.)

In any case---
I know that when I've given up on creative pursuits, when spirits are down & there's no positive ending to vindicate time/effort spent.... and one only sees the obstacles (internal and external)- it makes me wonder about an older screenwriter who I had the honor to know- who had struggled with alcoholism and finances (he won minor screenwriter awards, met 'c'-list actors for his screenplays, and for years 'almost' made it but never did, as he was forced to work on odd jobs and live with his family)... nice guy who ended up at the bottom of a river- if not suicide for his years of failure at something he wanted to succeed in, he certainly had a bit of a death wish on him.

I think about that now and then- as a good warning sign, but also how the creative muse that gives you personal joy can also transform into what I call the 'creative lottery ticket muse' that teases financial wealth and rewards and everything to make you popular and happy- but somehow disappears and spits in your face and on your work.

(Other forms of it may be 'the Rock Star dream' for those who are musicians, or 'the Football star dream' for high school athletes, etc.)

Nobody wants to be considered a joke, even less so, their babies (the work that they put out). In this day/age of the bullynet (yeah, there are pluses, but essentially the bullynet gives more power to those with bully and mob mentalities than those on the other end in one way or the other), those babies are even more open to being attacked, crucified, and mutilated for a 'virtual' eternity on the bullynet.

Failure is not only considered not an option for those who are mediocre (or trying) in their art- it's something that can never be forgiven nor forgotten on the bullynet as well.

If Mozart and Salieri were alive today, and not way back when, perhaps Mozart would end up a youtube hit for his compositions and Salieri would be torn down by public opinion for not looking as handsome or charming as Tom Hulce. Perhaps Salieri would be the one drinking himself to death, and Mozart would be incredibly successful and punking Ashton Kutcher and partying out with Justin Beiber. (Or not. Who knows.)

I don't know what would happen with Amadeus and Salieri if they were alive today. I don't know if my writer and actor friends will ever be in the situations that would maximize their own gifts so that they don't have to do the 'other job thing' to squeeze out most of the hours of their day.

I do know one thing. No matter what, everything ends, everything gets forgotten. When mankind dies and the machines eventually take over, and there will be eventually a rift between superior robots and inferior ones- that there'll be Mozart-bots and Salieri-bots and misery with that as well, and competitions as to which bots make better youtube vids which other bots will like/dislike and friend/disfriend on Facebot.... and eventually batteries will run out, even the sun will eventually go supernova and no one will be around to really give a crap or remember if they got an Academy Award or 10 thousand hits on their youtube video.

So the lesson to be learned from this post is (beside patience for longwinded bloggers who can't get to the point)...forget the bullynet, forget Facebot, forget the audience and just remember to close your eyes and ears to the negativity inside and out there (I guess that's why some use drugs, but that's a direction I don't want to take this blog to)- and create the best you can, regardless of the outcome.

Or you can let the bullynet and Facebot win. Your choice.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Underworld and vampire overload....

Today,one of the creators of Comic-con apparently died, and I was going to do a post of good and blah memories of Comicon- but it'll take too long and I'm pretty under-the-weather today.

Instead, a quickee on news of a new "Underworld" movie with the beautiful but charmisa-challenged Kate Beckinsale, and meanderings on the giant explosion of vampires on tv, movies, etc. etc. etc.

As you know (or figured out), I REALLY dug the 'Angel' tv series (though, in looking back, it's not quite as solid or as good as other shows that have evolved since then. It's still in the top twenty, but maybe not top ten of personally beloved tv shows... mainly because genre television has gotten so much better in the last ten years)and originally held a bit of resentment towards other 'serious' (quote unquote) box office successes with broody moody vampires that didn't aim to have as much social comment nor wit as "Angel".

But- time moves on, and I didn't want to be stuck on not giving new things a chance.
So--- ended up seeing most of what's out there, if only to keep up.

It is a bit nuts how many 'vampire' films/tv shows are out there. Suprisingly, some are not all that bad.

The UNDERWORLD series:
I give a tip of the hat to Len Wiseman for being a comic fan first & hearing that his drawings and sketches for this movie helped get his project made....

Aside from the look, there's just no real heart or interest in any of the characters... and we're not really given any real reasons why we should care on a personal level.

Len Wiseman directed a (suprisingly) great "Die Hard" film, with some really inventive action set pieces. But, with all the projects that never get made, it's hard to feel good about this series of rather drab films getting a greenlight for sequels.

The TWILIGHT series:
Once one gets past the idea that the primary audience for this are love-hungry teens that love the book series, the movies are definitely a hop and a skip past the Underworld series as far as watchability goes. The first has more than a few over-the-top moments that have been easy targets for parody- (and there are a number of them as well in the sequels as well- the prime one being a laughable one when the 17 year old heroine talks about 'knowing what suffering is like in life')- but, the sequels have been engaging enough and more consistent than a good number of other genre films I've followed. (*It's not Lord of the Rings, mind you, but what is?)

Haven't read the books (a well-read relative has who LOVES the books but HATES what the movies have done with them), but the movies have had the luck of attracting directors with some great movies on their resume (Chris Weitz, David Slade, Bill Condon)- and it is kind of neat to see a series of genre movies set in a specific universe with the same cast and a continuity that progresses.

One thing I'll give the series credit for, is giving the characters a dark twist in the fourth one- where all the illusions of 'romantic love with a vampire' takes a pretty perverse (but welcome) twist where actual negative consequences come with that illusion. If real life turns many romances sour with consequences, why shouldn't genre films? If anything, it grounds the movie experience with a bit more gravity.

Speaking of vampire shows with more gravity...

I haven't read the books that these are based on either,(Have I mentioned that aside from "Angel" I'm not a big horror/vampire fan yet?) but the main attraction to this show is the person who developed the show (and showrunner) Alan Ball, who won the best screenplay Academy Award for his "American Beauty" and is responsible for the brilliant ultimate show about death, HBO's "Six Feet Under".

The thing about Alan Ball's work is that it always has a great intelligence behind it, not to mention a snarky DARK sense of humor as well that's often tough and often vulgar--- which is strong enough to balance and puncture any pretentiousness or silliness that could come with a 'vampire in love' scenario. (*In fact, a perfect scenario would have had Alan Ball write/direct the 'Twilight' series)

I can totally understand why this show gets the attention it does, if only for its magnificent cast. There isn't a weak link among any of the actors, and (at least for the first season- the second season had some funky issues) there actually seemed to be things that wanted to be said with substance in the subtext about the world, beyond just telling a 'human in love with a vampire' story. The quality was equally as good as, if not better than, most movies I see at the theatres.

With season two, things got a bit dull and freaky with a storyline about a witch that takes over the city- and season three seems to be a bit directionless.... but even if it's suffering from 'series-itis' (a condition I made up where storylines get very static in no small part because we see the characters in fabricated situations JUST to see the characters on screen, and not much else)- I still find it good enough to watch and admire for the solid ensemble acting.

Whereas Underworld feels false, and Twilight seems too pretty and at times a bit infantile, True Blood has a bad attitude, but in an entertaining way most of the time.

I wonder at times if we'll ever get back to 'classic' Dracula- where sex was more of a metaphor for the situation, rather than dripped in it, with love themes accompanying theme available for sale on itunes, but... for now, it'll be interesting to see how many more variations spin out before the current series all disappear (Twilight's books are on their last, Underworld's Kate Beckinsale isn't going to stay 30 forever, and there's only a limited number of books that True Blood can adapt before the series ends)...until then-

So long as Hollywood doesn't recast and reboot "Angel" without Joss Whedon, I'm happy.
Carry on.
((*Footnote: Hollywood does, however, totally have my permission to do anything they wish with "Vangelis".)) ;)