The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

... then they came for Kevin Conroy

Batman... the real Batman... broke his silence and commented on Zack Snyder's most recent cinematic excretion. Usually, in cases like this, actors keep their mouths shut. They want to work again, after all. But no actor has imbibed the character of Batman like Conroy has with his nearly three-decade stretch portraying the character. As far as I am concerned, Kevin Conroy is Batman.

But, the cinematic world has been invaded by a serpent named Zack Snyder. Snyder's movies are made to stimulate the nether regions of a certain kind of fan. Mostly angry. Mostly male. Mostly white. These movies have not been well received by most people outside their bubble, especially critics. Naturally, these Snyder-Bros lash out and accuse them of being bribed by Disney and Marvel. Or they make up other conspiracy theories. Bias. SJWs. Etc. Etc. They're at war with an enemy that doesn't exist.

May I ask you, who does this remind you of?

Now, I'm not out and out saying that Zack Snyder is Donald Trump. But Snyder's fans are definitely a lot like Trump's supporters. I'd be interested in seeing a Venn Diagram of the overlap. The parallels are uncanny. Snyder appeals to angry dude-bros in scary ways. He's their patron saint of comic book movies. Plus the conspiracy theories... "Crooked Hillary is rigging the election" and "Marvel is paying critics". I could keep going.

Trump's supporters never liked minorities, as Snyder fans don't care for that "SJW, Pussy, Marvel" crap. But, beyond that, Trump's supporters have turned against veterans. Witness their attacks on POWs and Gold Star families. Snyder's fans have done their own unthinkable, they turned on Kevin Conroy. And viciously. I'll share a few examples.


I think this all speaks for itself.

Meanwhile, petitions are being written and signed to shut down Rotten Tomatoes and Donald Trump is recruiting assholes to show up at the polls, armed, to intimidate the "wrong people" from voting... er, I mean make sure voting is fair.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Reclaiming a missing piece of my childhood.

"Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" was released in theaters on Christmas Day, 1993. It came, and went in less than a week. There were few screenings, and it was a box office flop. I was twelve when it was released, and missed  the very brief window to see it. Of course I bought it on VHS a few months later and then on DVD. I've seen the movie dozens of times since then, but I always wished that I could have seen it on the big screen.

Sometimes wishes come true.

Last night, the Alamo Drafthouse ran a special showing of "Mask of the Phantasm". Despite having seen it dozens of times, despite owning it on DVD and VHS, I went and paid $10 to see it on the big screen. And I was happy to do it. Even happier when I found out that what I was about to watch was one of only two 35mm prints left in existence. I left the theater an hour and a half later feeling like a kid again. I wanted to see it on the big screen back in the day and now... twenty-three years later, it's finally happened.

It's still the best Batman movie ever made and, as far as I'm concerned, there is no competition. None. After the atrocious "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" and the offensive "The Killing Joke", I needed to step back in time and remember when Warner Bros. was capable of making great DC movies like this.

Why isn't this movie on Blu-ray, yet?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Sick Joke

Um... it's awful and don't watch it. Mark Hamill is great but, seriously, don't watch it.

Anything I could say has already been said by others. So I'll just link to a few reviews that I recommend.

* Batman the Killing Joke Animated Movie Review by Reaf

* The Killing Joke Movie Is a Disaster, Right Down To Its Comic-Con Panel

* The Killing Joke Movie Is Stuck in the Worst Parts of the Past

I could post more, but you get the idea. It wasn't well done. The only one that gave it any effort was Mark Hamill, who has been wanting to do this for years. Even Kevin Conroy sounded like he was phoning it in.

So yeah, to quote Brad Jones: "It's not the worst Batman movie I've seen this year." But this was still a pile of garbage that included a festering, cracked, molding kitchen sink.

Grade: D-. The only reason it's not a full F is because of Mark Hamill.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Just what the doctor ordered...

This helped me pinpoint one of the reasons 2016 has seemed exceptionally miserable... it's the first year in forever where I don't get to see Jon on TV every week.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Have They Been Seen In Public Together?

I've recently come to a conclusion. Henry Cavill and Megan Fox are the same person. Let's run through a tally.

  • Both of them are terrible actors. No charisma. A complete inability to emote.
  • Both of them are being shoved at us by the two least talented directors in Hollywood. Henry Cavill by Zack Snyder in his horrible Superman movies; and Megan Fox by Michael Bay in those terrible Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films.
  • Both of them are, somehow, sex symbols. I personally think both of them look fake... not only like they're made of plastic, but if you look into their eyes... there's nothing there. It's not like let's say Hayley Atwell or Misha Collins who, if you look into their eyes you see substance... life. Cavill and Fox look like corpses.
  • Both of them are complete morons. Read just about any interview with them. It's one stupid thing after another coming out of their mouths. Whether Cavill is being racist or sexist by accident (okay, maybe it's not by accident) or Fox is comparing directors with Adolf Hitler. There's not a cell of gray matter between them.
At the end of the day, who do they remind me of?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Winter is Here

The last several years have been a sublime period for television. When did the "Golden Age of Television" arrive? I'm not sure. In a lot of ways, "Hill Street Blues" in the 1980's was the great grandfather of the golden age. "The Sopranos" really began blowing it up in 1999. But I'd say it finally hit between 2008 and 2010. Shows like "Breaking Bad", "Mad Men", and "Game of Thrones" really define the era of TV we're living in. Two of those shows have since come to an end, and now "Game of Thrones" is beginning to wind down.

How do I personally compare "Game of Thrones" to other TV shows? It's not as good as "Breaking Bad" or "Better Call Saul". It's not as good as "Mad Men". It's not as good as "The Sopranos". But saying that is by no means a put down, those shows are among the best. "Game of Thrones", however is better than "House of Cards" (which I do like), better than "Arrow" (okay first season, great second season, really awful third and fourth seasons), better than "The Flash" (which I can't get into no matter how hard I try), better than "Supergirl" (the episodes I tried to watch put me to sleep), better than "Daredevil" (good show, but has a ton of problems), better than Jessica Jones (which I love... is legitimately great). So yeah, aside from "Better Call Saul", "Game of Thrones" is better than anything else currently in production.

There are a lot of TV shows you can point to and say "yeah, this was it's best season". For example, I'll easily point to season three of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as that show's best season. For "Breaking Bad" it's a toss up between season four and season five (that show just kept on getting better). Arrow's best season was it's second (although, that's the only season of the show I actually like). But I don't think "Game of Thrones" has a best season (maybe it's first)... while it clearly has a worst season (the fifth, no contest)... there are a lot of exceptional episodes peppered in to most of the seasons amid a lot of episodes that act as building blocks towards those exceptional episodes. Season six is a prime example... most of the episodes built up to the great stuff. "The Door", "Battle of the Bastards" and "The Winds of Winter" truly stood out as among the show's best episodes.

I have read the first book in "A Song of Ice and Fire", and I plan to read the rest once the show winds down. So this isn't going to be one of those entries where I point out what the show did differently to the book to complain about it... spoiler alert, I like the show. I love the show. And believe me, I understand how some people can feel... I get annoyingly nitpicky about Spider-Man adaptations. But sometimes I wonder if we're as annoying as, let's say, a hardcore fan of Peter Benchley's "Jaws" novel and think that Spielberg butchered it by ignoring the Mafia subplot, not depicting Matt Hooper's affair with Ellen Brody, and having Martin Brody kill the shark by blowing it up via bullet to oxygen tank in the shark's mouth... in the book, the shark just tires out and dies. And then there's the Tolkien Fandom who still haven't forgiven Peter Jackson for his critically acclaimed, commercially successful, Academy Award winning "Lord of the Rings" trilogy which, honestly, I prefer to the books... there I said it.

I'm blathering on, I know. But I felt I had to acknowledge all that in the last paragraph. I read. I read a lot. But I speak the language of film. Neither of us are right or wrong, we're all approaching this from our own angles and bringing our own baggage to it. As such I feel like this entry is less about the show itself and more about the conversations I've been having about the show for the last few years. But those conversations have been part of my experience, and while the show is by no means perfect (season five, I'm looking right at you), I still think it's exceptional television.

I feel like season six benefited from listening to feedback they received from season five, because this felt very much like a response to it. Not saying everything was. I think "Battle of the Bastards" was going to play out as it did no matter how Sansa and Ramsay's wedding night was received. But little things like Dorne being downplayed, which was welcome by me. I thought Oberyn Martell was a terrific character in the fourth season, so I was looking forward to exploring Dorne in the fifth season. What did we get instead? Jaime Lannister wandered on to the set of "Hercules the Legendary Journeys" (one of the most abysmally awful TV shows ever made... and I thought that before we found out Kevin Sorbo was a trump). So in "The Winds of Winter" when the Queen of Thorns was visiting Dorne and telling the Sand Snakes to shut the fuck up, I can't help but feel like she was speaking for those of us in the audience who did not enjoy those characters.

If I had to describe season six in one word, it would be triumphant. The threads we've been following are finally beginning to converge. Jon Snow is now the King in the North. Daenerys Targaryen has her dragons, her army, her fleet and is setting sail to Westeros. And Cersei Lannister now sits on the Iron Throne. Our "heroes" triumphed over enemies that have plagued them for a while, and will now come to a head. But not without obstacles. Cersei has alienated all of her allies, so this cannot and will not end well for her. Jon Snow is now in Littlefinger's crosshairs. Daenerys seems to have everything going well for her... but a little bit too well. Plus there's a Night's King beyond the wall getting ready to attack. And will Mad Queen Cersei allow another King in the North... will she allow Sansa Stark to remain alive when she conspired to murder her precious baby Joffrey (or so she believes)?

I can't say for certain where this will all head. Most hope for Jon Snow and Daenerys to wed and rule the seven kingdoms together... but that is a little bit too neat, too tidy. George R.R. Martin promised a bitter sweet ending. Jon and Dany ruling together with Tyrion as their Hand while Sansa governs the north after all unite to defeat the Night's King sounds too good to be true. Because I don't believe the true villain of the tale is the Night's King or even Cersei Lannister. It is Littlefinger and Littlefinger is not your typical fairy tale or high fantasy villain... Cersei is the Mad Queen and everyone knows it. The Night's King is, for all intents and purposes, the Dark Lord and most know it. Littlefinger is the Devil you don't see, he's what rises when you're not paying attention... and nobody is paying attention to him, except for Sansa Stark.

If this tale is three acts, then Act One ended with the Red Wedding (or when Tywin Lannister died on the crapper... it's debatable), and Act Two just ended. We're marching towards Act Three and I look forward to it.

I give season six an A-.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Captain America - Civil War

I apologize for the tardiness of this review. I will admit that I don't have much to say about "Civil War". I mean, it's great. Go see it. Read what I wrote about "Batman v. Superman" aka "BvS" aka "Beavis", and "Civil War" is the exact opposite of that.

But I feel I owe you all something, so I'll be brief.

1. It's much better than Mark Millar's comic book. They say ideas aren't good and bad in and of themselves, it's all about execution. "Civil War" sums it up. I hated the character assassination the comic series engaged in back in 2006. But this was the exact opposite. I flip-flopped between sides throughout it as both had their points, both mad their mistakes. In the end, I was neither on Team Cap or Team Tony.

2. Black Panther was great. I cannot wait for his movie. He was powerful, majestic, and oh so human.

3. I have gone back and forth on Spider-Man a little. But, in the end, I decided that I liked him. This was an awkward place to introduce him, but I felt the spirit of the character there and I think Tom Holland does well. As somebody who doesn't care for Toby Maguire's Spider-Man or Andrew Garfield's, I hope Holland is the one. And for those of you worried it'll be nothing but High School, well, Tom Holland will be aging between "Spider-Man Homecoming" and its sequel in Phase Four.

4. Zemo was great. I know some people didn't care for him, I think this comes from the fact that he didn't have the mask, the sword, and the lineage. But remove all that and I still saw the character there. A cunning, manipulative, evil, vengeful monster. And what's more, he won. And he's still alive, he might get a costume later. I could see him leading a Masters of Evil in a sequel, or starring in a "Thunderbolts" movie. His endgame was just heartbreaking, and in a less movie, things would have gone in another direction.

Also he had an actual, understandable motive. Why did Beavis's Lex Luthor do anything again?

5. In the end, I'm on Team Black Widow. Do what you feel is right, but change your mind when new information comes to light. She's still my favorite Avenger.