davemerrill: (Default)
They keep making Hollywood adaptations of Japanese animation properties, and these adaptations keep underperforming.

Astro Boy (2009) Opening Weekend: $6,702,923, lifetime worldwide $39,886,986

Speed Racer (2008) Opening Weekend: $18,561,337, lifetime worldwide $93,945,766

Dragonball Evolution (2009) Opening Weekend: $4,756,488, lifetime worldwide $57,497,699

Ghost in the Shell (2017) Opening Weekend: $18,676,033, worldwide so far: $72,544,875

Dragonball was a major bomb, the best you can say about Speed Racer is that it might actually achieve 'cult' status, Astro Boy tanked so hard it took down its studio, and Ghost in The Shell may limp to 100 million, but that's a big maybe.

In the pipeline: Akira, Star Blazers, Robotech, Battle Angel Alita, Beyblade, Naruto, Bleach... some of these have been in the works for years, some will never get made, some might actually reach the finish line, and the question still remains "why?" None of these films have done anywhere near the business of even a mid-tier superhero movie (Ant-Man, $500 million, Dr. Strange, $677 million, Man Of Steel, $668 million). This Hollywood anime thing is a fad that stubbornly resists every attempt to bring it forth into life. It's not gonna happen. Stop already.

Meanwhile, the Buena Vista release of "Spirited Away", an actual Japanese animated film, its lifetime gross? $274,925,095. That's three Speed Racers. Just release the Japanese films and have done with it, guys. Save everybody the effort.
davemerrill: (milky)
greenslimeposter

Kids love Green Slime.

Here's a great site to waste tons of time with: cinematreasures.org, a state by state and city by city and theater by theater guide to movie theaters of the United States. Photos of lots of extant and non-extant cinemas, including one that my brother and I worked at for a little while.

http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/12111
davemerrill: (milky)
It's almost December and that means I go through the movies that came out this year, in order of release, and tell you what I thought of them. Some of these films I saw, some of 'em I'm commenting on sight unseen. Your mileage may vary, and in fact almost undoubtedly does. LET'S GO 2012!!!

JOYFUL NOISE: this is the Dolly Parton / Queen Latifah thing that was shot partially at a restaurant in Smyrna that my parents are regulars at. Unfortunately that fact did not help it at the box office.

RED TAILS: This is the George Lucas WWII fighter plane epic. It used to be that any combination of the words “George Lucas” and “WWII” and “fighter plane epic” would get me in the theater. Not any more.

UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING: As long as you keep seeing these stupid movies they’ll keep making them. Stop the insanity.

THE GREY: Liam Neeson versus wolves. Don’t care who wins.

THE WOMAN IN BLACK: This was an actual Hammer horror picture that actually felt like a Hammer horror picture (minus amazing Technicolor bosoms, but hey).

SAFE HOUSE: saw this one on the plane. Decent actioner with Denzel Washington playing yet another variation on his “I’m the guy who knows more than you do” role.

THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY: Ghibli film about little people that live in the walls. Didn’t see.

THE LORAX: I took the TIM AND ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE pledge to not see this film.

TIM AND ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE: the movie that prevented me from seeing THE LORAX. If you like TIM AND ERIC’S AWESOME SHOW GREAT JOB, then you’ll like this movie. If not, then avoid at all costs.

JOHN CARTER: Pompous, overlong, self-important adaptation of seminal SF swashbuckler neither swashes nor buckles.

THE HUNGER GAMES: I’m not 14 so I don’t have to see this.

WRATH OF THE TITANS: Won't someone use their magic to undo the spell that turned Sam Worthington into a stone-faced non-actor? No?

THE AVENGERS: About as good as a comic book movie is ever going to get, really. They’re in the sweet spot of just enough super-powered nonsense but not too much super-powered nonsense, and I don’t think they know when to quit so I predict things will go downhill from here.

DARK SHADOWS: Better than I expected, not as comedic as the trailers would have you believe, nails the early 70s gothic horror romance vibe perfectly.

BATTLESHIP: You were surprised this turned out to stink? Really? You honestly expected this to be an actual watchable film? You are not very smart.

MEN IN BLACK 3: I guess people wanted another one of these. Not me!

SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSTMAN: Dark fairy-tale action picture gets too CG cutesy in spots but delivers muddy fights and Charlize Theron scenery-chewing. Everybody seems to be having fun riding horses and sword-fighting.

PROMETHEUS: I would probably enjoy a half-hour with a big glossy coffee table book of images from this film, but as something I want to spend twelve bucks and two hours on, not so much. I already knew where the aliens in ALIEN came from; it’s called “space”.

BRAVE: Trailers looked good. Was that enough to get me into the theater? No.

THE AMAZING SPIDER MAN: You know, I saw three feature films starring Spider-Man already. I think I’m done here.

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES: I don’t ever need to see a movie starring Batman ever again. I liked the movie fine, whatever, we're done here.

IRON SKY: High-concept comedy about Nazis on the moon alternatively mystifies, confuses, bores, and angers. Usually bad movies don’t make me angry, but this one did.

TOTAL RECALL: Somebody actually thought what the world needed was a big-budget remake of a shitty 90s movie starring Colin “Box Office Poison” Ferrell. Hope you enjoy failure.

RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION: If you quit seeing these movies, they’ll quit making them.

DREDD: Low-budget tough as nails Judge Dredd movie. If you like Judge Dredd then you’ll probably like this movie. Trouble is the people who like Judge Dredd apparently don’t go to movies.

SINISTER: I don’t usually get creeped out by movies but this one found my creep button and kept pushing it repeatedly.

SKYFALL: You know, I liked it, don’t know if it’s the best Bond ever, seemed a tad over-written in contrast to the last one which seemed a tad under-written. Strangely grounded second half, sets its jaw and gets to work setting up the pieces for further Bond movies, which appeals to somebody, I guess. It’s not like it’s a surprise to anybody that they’re going to make more Bond movies.

RED DAWN: Take an iconic Cold War movie and remake it without the Cold War. Sure, that’ll work. Why not, we get paid anyway, nobody's even checking any more.

WRECK IT RALPH: I don’t have the sentimental attachment to video game iconography that seems to infect everyone else my age and younger, but it looks like a fun picture and we’ll probably see it sometime.

RISE OF THE GUARDIANS: saw a bunch of great looking production artwork from this movie on the walls at PDI DREAMWORKS when we were out there last year. None of it starred the stupid little elves.

THE HOBBIT: there is no way in hell you are going to get me to spend another seven hours of my life watching little people wander around New Zealand battling creatures. No fucking way. I don’t care. I never cared.

JACK REACHER: Tom Cruise plays yet another super spy who does super spy things while standing on various height-enhancing just-out-of-shot objects, I guess. He has a car. I don’t know who this character is or why I should feel compelled to see him in a movie. Should I? Shouldn’t he be transitioning into movies that don’t involve him out-running explosions?
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Didn't see TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY yesterday 'cause it hasn't opened wide here yet - it's at the Varsity in Yorkville, which means we pay $12 to get there on TTC, $10 to park, or $20 for a cab. Wah. So we went down the Queensway and saw YOUNG ADULT, the movie that gives us Charlize Theron as a YA writer - sorry, "author", who made it big in the big city and has returned to her small town to generally behave badly. Lots of early 90s alterna-rock on the soundtrack with Teenage Fanclub, the Replacements, and others providing context for her attempt to capture the past and recapture her old boyfriend who is now married with children. Patton Oswalt plays a disabled guy with punk rock stickers all over his forearm assist. It's a pretty dark comedy; I wasn't expecting a crowded theater but crowded it was. Maybe it was the second choice for those who couldn't get into the Mission Impossible movie. Anyway it's an enjoyably uncomfortable film that never takes the easy way out.
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Every year I write about the movies of the previous year and whether or not they were any good. As I probably didn't see most of these movies, some of these opinions might be kind of uninformed. But so what else is new?

Season of the Witch - Nicholas Cage keeps making terrible movies involving hairpieces, and people keep seeing them under the assumption that they have some kind of camp value or that they are engaging in some kind of transgressive act. Wrong on both counts.

The Green Hornet - critically reviled, this super hero comedy was disliked by the critics and didn't quite live up to expectations at the box office. As I said years ago, they should have taken the money used to make this film and just given it to the poor, or built a school with it, or something positive, because nobody wants to see a movie about the Green Hornet. An eternal truth.

Drive Angry 3D - Nicholas Cage keeps making terrible movies involving hairpieces, and people keep seeing them under the assumption that they have some kind of camp value or that they are engaging in some kind of transgressive act. Wrong on both counts.

Rango - I saw this one on the plane, wasn't expecting much, and was pleasantly surprised. What at first could be dismissed as an extended trip sequence from Depp's character in FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS turned out to be a charming Western pastiche with terrific visuals and firm direction from Verbinski. Great Clint Eastwood cameo, too.

Battle: Los Angeles - Not a documentary about the Rodney King riots, but yet another movie that thinks since all the kids are playing HALO we should give them HALO THE MOVIE.

Mars Needs Moms - I saw the trailer for this and thought it was a parody of insipid CG children's films. Nope, the real thing. I hope you're enjoying the paycheck, Berke.

Red Riding Hood - You like TWILIGHT, right? Huh? Sure you do.

Paul - This would have been a great movie to make in, say, 1985. As it is the idea of two wacky guys driving around the US trying to keep their friendly alien away from the authorities is maybe a very special episode of "Bosom Buddies". As a feature film, not so much.

Sucker Punch - Another one in the "I can't believe this is a real movie" department. The masses proved their native intelligence once again by ignoring the hell out of this clearly labeled bomb, which failed miserably at the box office in spite of shoving everything you might think is 'cool' in to the picture. Except 'subtlety'.

Hobo with a Shotgun - as much as I like sleazy 70s grindhouse movies, and as much as I like Rutger Hauer, who imbues even the slightest roles with gravitas, I don't know if I'm going to pay twelve dollars to see a grindhouse homage. Might catch this one on a plane.

Arthur - Remember how Dudley Moore had been in a bunch of hit films before he made "Arthur" and everybody pretty much knew who he was and that they wanted to see him starring in a film? This was completely ignored by the producers of this remake, who failed to consider that nobody knows who Russell Brand is, and therefore probably won't pay to see him starring in a film.

Atlas Shrugged: Part I - Heh heh heh ha hahahahahahhaaa HAW HAH HAW COUGH COUGH HAW HAW COUGH COUGH Oh Jesus. Heh.

Fast Five - they have made FIVE of these movies? Wow.

Thor - Pompous and overlong, Thor fails to deliver any of the "lusty drinking song" charm of the Norse pantheon or the raw, cosmos-shattering power of the original Kirby run on the character. Instead we're given an Odin who spends most of the film in "the Odinsleep", way too much explanation of where Asgard is and what Asgard does and how you get from Asgard to wherever it is you want to go, and some not very shocking or surprising treachery by Loki. To be fair Hiddleston eventually settles into a a snaky Loki groove and Helmsworth makes a passable Thor. The robot they have playing Natalie Portman is almost believable in parts. By the time Thor's defeated The Destroyer and the movie is FINALLY getting going, wham, THE END.

The Beaver - hey look! Mel Gibson's back! Quick, hide!

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - they made FOUR of these movies? Wow.

X-Men: First Class - didn't see it. I'm not legally obligated to see any X-Men movie that doesn't resemble the comics I read when I was 12.

Super 8 - didn't see this one either. One too many gushing reviews of how Abrams was really channeling Spielberg in the 80s - when Spielberg was at his MOST ANNOYING.

Green Lantern - I called this one too - that nobody wants to see a movie starring a second-string superhero who can be defeated by the color yellow. And I was right again, as it failed critically, commercially, spiritually, and metaphorically. Don't you feel good knowing everybody involved in this turkey got paid? I feel like I am owed a paycheck just being exposed to nerds discussing it for half a year. Shut up about movies already, nerds.

Cars 2 - didn't see the first one, won't be seeing the second one. Maybe this was Pixar's first big misstep, maybe it is a parable of when the machines finally eliminate mankind, whatever. Don't care.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon - here we have a whole franchise of terrible movies that people agree up and down are lousy, inept pieces of junk, yet people spend half the year discussing them online, linking to trailers, speculating about plot points, arguing over who should play what, and then seeing the things three and four times, buying them two or three times, and then two weeks later it's time to start talking about the next one. These movies are starting to resemble the sports season, the minute you think basketball or football is over some talking head on the news is excited about the players draft or somebody's exhibition game. You know what you should talk about instead of shitty movies starring robots that turn into cars? JUST ABOUT ANYTHING.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - finally wrapped this one up. To be honest I felt the big climax needed a bit more punch, Harry turning into a fifty foot Devilman and ripping whatsisname in half, something a bit more, I dunno, metal. Still, we're done here, good luck in your future careers kids.

Captain America: The First Avenger - Could have used a bit less of the Steve Rogers and a bit more of the Captain America fighting giant robots. I wanted more of Cap crashing in through windows, dodging machine guns, all that stuff. But a movie whose main fault is that it leaves you wanting more of what it does right, that's a good movie. Hugo nailed the Red Skull, Chris nailed Captain America, they weaseled some of the Howling Commandos in there, the fake WWII was pleasantly fake, and in general a fun afternoon at the movies.

Cowboys & Aliens - Neither? Is that OK? Thanks.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes - I heard this one was good, but I don't know how much of that positive reaction is a result of the movie actually being good, and how much of it is a result of the last Apes movie being really really bad. Perhaps expectations are low.

Conan the Barbarian - hey, let's remake an 80s hit and leave out all things people liked from the 80s hit! That'll work, right? Right?

Contagion - Good solid disaster picture that delivers emotionally and intellectually as the nation deals with the kind of worst-case-scenario epidemic that public-health professionals have nightmares about. Not a wasted shot in this movie, thank you Soderbergh.

Burke and Hare - Did this even come out in theaters? I would have totally seen this! Simon Pegg as one of the famous grave-robbing cockneys? I'm there!

Real Steel - I saw that episode of Futurama already. Wait, I meant Twilight Zone.

The Thing - hey, let's remake an 80s hit and leave out all things people liked from the 80s hit! That'll work, right? Right?

Footloose - hey, let's remake an 80s hit and leave out all things people liked from the 80s hit! That'll work, right? Right?

The Muppets - I saw the first Muppets movie in the theater about fifty times when it came out, it was the de facto babysitter that summer. Haven't seen that movie since, and in fact haven't really had any desire to see anything with the Muppets in it since. Though I will cheerfully watch that original movie again if it was to come on TV or something.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - my goal is to see this one today. OR IS IT?

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked - I love seeing adults complain about these movies. They are all outraged that somebody would make movies starring cartoon chipmunks! News flash people - these are children's movies, for children. Are you a children? No you are not. So relax. Save your outrage, let today's children have something to annoy parents with, let the Bagdasarian grandkids go to college.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - apart from some unconvincing CG I liked the first one fine and can easily see myself seeing this one too. OH NOES IT ISN'T ACCURATE TO THE ORIGINAL STORIES. Well, if I want to read the original stories I will sit my ass at home on the couch with a book, won't I?

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol - I hear good things about this Brad Bird-directed action picture, and it's as yet to be determined if my dislike of Tom Cruise and his thetan-controlled ego will override my interest in the movie.

The Adventures of Tintin - I may have to see this one just to get the full effect of the zombie puppets and their soulless eyes parading around like a taxidermists nightmare. Remember when buying your tickets to pronounce it 'Tantan' for super annoyance!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Tattoo removal is getting cheaper and cheaper these days. I could care less about these movies or the books or what they're about, which apparently is some kind of turgid European suspense dealing with computer hackers and rape, two things I really don't want to pay money to see movies about.

coming in 2012- Red Tails, Arreity The Borrowers in theaters, another Ghost Rider movie, another James Bond picture, John Carter Warlord Of Mars, a sequel to that terrible "Clash Of the Titans" remake, Dark Shadows, Battleship, The Avengers, Men In Black III, Prometheus, another GI Joe movie (??), another Spider-Man movie, another Madagascar movie, another Ice Age movie, another Batman movie, another Bourne movie, a Total Recall remake, another Expendables movie, another Resident Evil movie, another Judge Dredd movie, another Halloween movie, another Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, that Red Dawn remake is finally coming out, another Twilight movie, a version of The 47 Ronin starring Keanu Reeves, and The Hobbit. Whee!

home again

Oct. 30th, 2011 11:00 am
davemerrill: (Default)
Another punishing three days of 12 hour shifts done with. Everybody's back from vacation so hopefully this is the last one for awhile. It's not the working for 12 hours, it's the combination of that, the getting up early, and the NOT keeping to that schedule on my days off that's making it so punishing. Getting home at 7:30 on a Saturday night and not having the energy to do anything more than get some dinner and hit the rack is annoying, especially in a city full of people in costumes going to parties. I think I saw a "Bob McKenzie", though those could have just been his normal clothes, it's hard to tell.

Anyway this week we managed to scrape up some Found Sound for you in the form of an entire Funky Phantom LP detailing the exciting adventures of a Revolutionary War ghost and his ghost cat and the teenagers they hang out with.



And over at Stupid Comics we explore Chilling Tales Of Sorcery with Sabrina, the teenage witch.



Sabrina plays horror hostess, the Bible saves us from evil, what more do you want? It's all at Mister Kitty's Stupid Comics.

Other than that, and working, not a whole lot has been going on around the Toy Factory HQ of Dave And Shain. We did get out and buy Love & Rockets New Stories #4 which is probably the most emotionally moving comic book you'll read all year. If you're like me you've been reading Love & Rockets since you were 15 though the various incarnations and publication types - the magazine, the solo books, the comic, and now the annual book - and if you have any investment in these characters at all, the Jaime story in this latest one will ring your bell and leave you on the canvas looking at all the pretty lights.

To be honest I missed the last few issues of the comic book sized L&R. I'd buy it, read it, and then a week later I would be asking myself, hey, did a new L&R come out? Not this one, kids. The Beto story is great too - it looks like his inking is going from a brush to teeny tiny pen lines, which I don't know is a good choice ultimately, but hey, it's his book - but Jaime knocks it out of the park on this one, I'm talking 'Death Of Speedy' here.

If you have never read Love & Rockets, you have my sympathy. Get down to your local library and start reading. These are some of the best American comic books ever published, end of story.

I also got the new Black Jack which has some terrific stories, including one involving a tokusatsu actor.

That's one of the benefits of the 3-day shift, you have time off during the week to catch up on comic books and movies. We went to the cheap Tuesday movies and saw CONTAGION, the Matt Damon - Kate Winslet - Jude Law - Larry Fishburne - CDC movie about what happens the next time we get a really good dose of bird flu or SARS. At this point I think Soderbergh could make a great movie about people reading the phone book, and with material like this he manages a terrific movie, scary, moving, and tight. Not a wasted shot in this picture. This is the kind of breakdown-of-society film that Spielberg was trying to do in his WAR OF THE WORLDS, but Spielberg will always go for the "gosh wow" at the expense of the mundane. WARNING: this movie features an autopsy scene involving Gwynneth Paltrow, and she ain't one of the doctors, I'm just sayin'.

Today is going to be recovering from the work week, drawing, maybe going out to a spook house or junking. Tomorrow it's back to work!
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Went down to the Underground last night to see SPEED RACER as part of their "Defending the Indefensible" series in which duelling critics explain why they love or hate a movie, and then the theater shows the movie, and then the critics come back to explain why they still love or hate it.

The anti-SPEED critic felt that the film lacked subtlety. You know, there's a cinema where the filmmaker leaves room for the audience to think, to breathe, and then there is cinema that is just throwing everything at the viewer in a blatant attempt to create a condition known as 'entertainment'. Apparently this critic felt that this film, titled "Speed Racer", based on a 1967 television cartoon about a guy with a super racing car solving world problems through auto racing, was just not subtle enough.

And there was a lot of talk on both sides of the aisle about the gee-whiz technological accomplishments the film pioneered, the digital environments, the artificiality of the entire production. The pro-SPEED critic came out in a homemade Speed Racer outfit and defended the film's effects work, its cutting, its audacious nothing-else-like-it look, the post-modern interpretation of the film as a commentary on film itself (the race track is like a film loop, see?).

But the unasked question was, does the film succeed in what it sets out to do - to become a feature film about Speed Racer? Well, as somebody who grew up watching the show, this is the only thing to ask about this film. Forget grosses, forget critical reception, forget the hypercolored superflat look of the film that owes as much to Murakami as it does to cinema theory, forget budget - does it work as "Speed Racer"? The answer is "yes". The film is hands down the most faithful, most entertaining, most fun to watch movie ever based on a Japanese cartoon. The family dynamic, the crazy villains, the super cars, the impossible races, the 1966-meets-2001 visual design, it's all there. It is wrapped in a package that not only acknowledges its cartoon roots, but embraces that artificiality wholeheartedly and wallows in creating the impossible on the movie screen in just about every scene.

That's not to say the film doesn't have problems, chiefly that it is two hours and fifteen minutes long. You could easily trim it down to under two hours and not lose any of the amazing auto races. The dialog is full of unexplained talk about "T-180s", and much of it is unclear because the audience is laughing when Christina Ricci asks, "Was that a NINJA??"

In a way I'm glad this film tanked at the box office. I like the movie but one is enough; an entire series of these films would indeed be too much. You should only go to the hyper-real well once. Anyway, none of the producers were hurting for money. More vanity projects like this, please.
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Bloor Cinema, Friday 7pm, Sunday 7pm.



HOUSE.



Well, suddenly I know what I'm doing this weekend, at least two hours of it.
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For no particular reason whatsoever, I've been trying to remember the first film I ever saw in a theater. Obviously as I am a white North American male aged 41, the big cinema event in my early life was STAR WARS (1977). I believe we saw it the summer it came out. I was iffy on it; the ads seemed to involve a lot of people in robes standing around in the desert, and I believe there was some line-standing involved which I probably complained about a lot. Of course after seeing the movie me and my brother were all THIS IS THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE EVER!!! and spent the next couple of years contriving to see the thing as often as possible. But what are some of the other movies we saw at the Miracle Theater, at the Belmont Hills, at the Akers Mill General Cinema where I'd wind up with a part time job?

I know we saw OH GOD, that one came out fall of '77, so it's post SW. I didn't get to see CLOSE ENCOUNTERS on its first release, we tried three times and it was sold out each time. There's a bunch of films from '77 that I've subsequently seen, but lord knows you wouldn't want a seven year old to see, say, SLAP SHOT.

I know we saw SNOW WHITE ('75 re-release) and PINOCCHIO ('78 re-release). We saw MESSAGE FROM SPACE ('78) at the Cobb Center theater with a gang of friends and we all thought it was just as good as STAR WARS, an opinion I still hold. I saw ISLAND AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD (1974) starring future Good Morning America host David Hartman, and that's a good three years before Star Wars. A similar picture, WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS (1978) starring Doug McClure was screened with friends at the theater that was in the shopping center behind the Miracle on South Cobb. Actually it was more directly behind the old Dairy Queen. That's also where we saw the quasi-documentary THE LATE GREAT PLANET EARTH (1979), planting within me both an apocalyptic no-future worldview AND a healthy regard for the work of Hal Lindsey. The Miracle, on the other hand, is the theater where we saw MOONRAKER (1979), the first James Bond film I ever saw. Strangely enough, the film's amazing badness didn't prevent me from seeing other Bond movies.

FLASH GORDON (1980), on the other hand, was seen in the Belmont Hills theater, a crumbling edifice that dated from the shopping center's construction in 1954. I loved that movie in 1980, felt it was rubbish in 1990, and came to realize its campy glory again later in life.

I never saw FREAKY FRIDAY (1976) or THE BAD NEWS BEARS (1976) but I did see GUS (also '76), the Disney film about the mule that kicked field goals. GUS was screened in Cobb Center Mall - not in the theaters outside the mall, but in a small auditorium INSIDE the mall that appeared to be a community room that showed kids' movies during the summer. I have distinct memories of seeing THE STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD (1975) starring Kurt 'Snake Plissken' Russell, but where or when I cannot say.

I am pretty sure I saw Disney's ROBIN HOOD (1973) in a theater. It may have been in a drive in that was showing a Planet Of The Apes picture on another screen - I never saw any of the Apes movies in the theaters, but the TV show scared the bejeezus and fascinated me at the same time, and I can remember turning my head to watch the apes go about their apey business. I did not see the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1978) theatrical compliation film - though I watched a lot of the TV show - but I did see the BUCK ROGERS (1979) pilot film in a theater and liked it fine. Hey, I was 9. I did not see JAWS (1975) - would you take a 5 year old to see that? - but I did see JAWS 2 (1978) and was appropriately scared to go in the water even though I had not previously been under the assumption that the water had been in fact safe.

The whole family went to see STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE (1979) at Akers Mill and I fell asleep at some point when Spock was mind-melding with V'Ger. That summer me and every kid I knew saw THE MUPPET MOVIE (1979) over and over again - it was the default babysitter that year. I saw THE BLACK HOLE (1979) and enjoyed the great visual design and the ending where the bad guy is shown suffering in Hell. More movies should end that way. We actually got out of school the day THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980) premiered, because our parents loved us deeply. I think we saw it at Phipps Plaza. SUPERMAN II came out in 1980 as well and I enjoyed it more than the first SUPERMAN (1978).

I never did get to see INFRAMAN (1975) or GODZILLA VERSUS MEGALON (1973) in theaters, though I desperately wanted to and probably made a pest out of myself about it. I also wanted to see LASERBLAST (1978) but thankfully did not. Sheesh. I know I have seen BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS (1971) but in a theater? I hope not. Don't take your 2-year old to movies.
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Had a pleasant weekend with nice sunny warm weather! It's not going to last, but we did enjoy it while we could. Went out to Woodstock on Sunday for the nostalgia sale held in the fairgrounds auditorium. Hours were 10-3, which basically means we got to see the last 45 minutes of the show while everybody was packing up because lord knows you don't want to be stuck in that giant Woodstock Ontario traffic jam when the nostalgia show lets out! Seriously, 3pm? You can't stick around until 4? I know the beer store closes at 5 and you don't want to face the possibility of not having a full 2-4 in the house during that long 20 hours before the beer store opens up again on Monday, but people from the Big City are here and they have money to spend on your junk, so don't be in such a rush! 3pm is a joke. Get with it guys. We did manage to find some neat stuff, actually we got better comics at the Woodstock Nostalgia Show than we did at the comic book thing last weekend. An issue of THIRTEEN, an Oral Roberts evangelical comic, some Tippy Teens & Go-Gos, some prime Al Hartley Jeezus comics, and at the antique store outside of town with the disturbing Victorian-era electric medical device, some metal Coke signage and a paperback edition of the seminal 1895 Moody Bible Institute work LITTLE DOT.

Saturday we did some shopping and went looking for episodes of GARTH MERENGHI'S DARKPLACE and/or interesting Blu-Ray DVDs to rent, finding neither. GARTH MERENGHI'S DARKPLACE is a 6-episode British comedy series that's purportedly a lost 1980s horror/supernatural TV show written, directed by, and starring Garth Merenghi, author, visionary, dream-weaver. And actor. It's one of those live-action things that gets shown on Adult Swim to irritate pedants, and it's really freakin' funny. Mike Horne showed us an episode in Boston and it kinda stuck with us; its deliberate 1980s syndicated-TV badness is pitch-perfect, and Garth Merenghi himself is disturbingly similar in appearance and attitude to several people I've dealt with in the fan world.

Speaking of TV shows, this Sunday the new show from the guys who brought you BAND OF BROTHERS premieres on HBO - it's called THE PACIFIC and it promises to make "YOU DIE NEXT, JOE!!" the fun catchphrase among children and adults alike. I enjoyed the heck out of BAND OF BROTHERS and am definitely on board for this one.

Speaking of manly men man type entertainment, my subject line is Robert "Lucky Ned Pepper" Duvall's famous line from TRUE GRIT, which is currently in production from the Coen brothers. Not a remake of the classic John Wayne film, this new version will be a more faithful adaptation of the original novel, which means it will be even truer and even grittier than ever before. I'm a big fan of both the movie and the book and of the Mad Magazine parody "True Fat" and will totally be there to see Rooster Cogburn take the reins in his teeth one more time.

We watched the Oscars so I didn't get my Zero Fighter strip of the week finished until today. I always enjoy the Oscars, it's like a family reunion of the people you see on TV and in the movies all the time. I liked the dual hosts, I liked the opening song, I thought the John Hughes tribute was swell, and it clocked in at three and a half hours and some change, long but not terribly long. I was cooking spaghetti through most of the first hour anyway. I didn't see any of the best picture nominees so I didn't have any particular favorites, though I do feel not nominating PONYO is a criminal error. I guess they figure, Miyazaki isn't going to show up, so why bother? SECRET OF KELLS is coming out in theaters this week and we might just catch that one. I do feel like we missed out on a lot of good pictures for whatever reason this year. Eh, we'll rent 'em.


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Went out late Friday and saw the SHUTTER ISLAND. One reviewer described it as Scorcese slumming in pulptown the way Kubrick stooped to conquer with THE SHINING, and while SHUTTER ISLAND is no SHINING, the description is apt. Scorsese's latest is a sprawling, oppressive clutter that comes close in parts to not working. It might not work for you, but it worked for us; the end credits roll and I'm muttering "Marty, you magnificent bastard, you've done it again."

I don't want to give away crucial plot details. I mean obviously this is a film where Things Are Not As They Seem, but the truth you think the movie is about may or may not actually be the truth the movie actually IS about. Which is fine, you will be watching Leo do his twitchy postwar hard boiled cop thing and Kingsley do his foppy overeducated psychologist thing and Max Von Sydow absolutely conjure up the ghost of Dr. Fredric Wertham, and Ted Freakin' Levine, whom we last saw prancing around as serial killer Buffalo Bill in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, just about steals the film in his precious few moments as the Patton-esque warden. And the gorgeous location shooting doesn't hurt.

As I said it might not work for you, Scorsese is working a difficult game here and there are a few moments where you can see his metaphorical feet slip on the metaphorical tightrope, where his metaphorical hands slip on the metaphorical steering wheel, and you think he's going to run off the metaphorical road. I have seen it happen in other films and when it does you leave the theater feeling cheated and disgusted, angry. Not SHUTTER ISLAND, not for us.

It's curious, the subject matter of SHUTTER ISLAND is a lot pulpier, more sensationalistic than the historical pomposity of GANGS OF NEW YORK (and don't get me wrong, historical pomposity is what I loved about it) or the mob-police con-game of THE DEPARTED - there isn't anything like DEPARTED's bombastic Pogues-fueled lockup scene in SHUTTER ISLAND, which winds up being a lot less "epic" or straightforward than either of those pictures. Strange for something that grows from such pulpy roots.


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