Friday, May 16, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Blog-a-thon Nexus

The nexus was never an artifact (read: MacGuffin) that Indy was ever compelled to seek, but it should have been. Post your links at the comments section, or email them to me, and I'll put them up here. Laters skaters.

Update (28/05/08) - Thanks to everyone who took part in the blog-a-thon last week. It was a great laugh, and I received some wonderful feedback (not to mention my first ever hate-mail - yay) from people all over the world. Blog-a-thon Hotwash and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull review coming soon. Laters.

24/05/08 -

- Drake Lelane knows the score.

- The Mad Hatter reviews Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

- So does Dan.

- And Jason Bellamy.

23/05/2008 -

- Jim Emerson puts The Temple of Doom in its historical context.

- An introspective look at the films by Rob Humanick.

22/05/2008 (Enjoy the film, folks) -

21/05/2008 -

20/05/2008 -

- Peet Gelderblom knows exactly what Georgie Boy likes...

19/05/2008 -

18/05/2008 -

17/05/2008 -

16/05/2008 -

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Doctor Jones, we've heard a lot about you

It’s almost time. The long promised – and pimped – Indiana Jones Blog-a-Thon starts tomorrow, and will run for a week until 23rd May. I have already heard from a few people who have written some excellent pieces. If I were the punning kind, I’d say we have top men working on it. Top…Men. Whaddayaknow? I am the punning kind.

Here is how the whole thing will go:

- Put up a piece(not that piece) on your blog, and send me a link.

- Fine, I get it, you don’t want to email me for fear of catching a disease. That’s OK, too. There will be a nexus on top of the page for the week of the blog-a-thon. Add a comment to it with the link to your piece, and I’ll update the list accordingly.

- You have a life, which is why you don’t own a blog, but you wanted to write a few paragraphs on the ways Short Round is a better character than Data. Send it to me in Word format, and I’ll put it up on the main site with credit to you.

What can I say – this is all very exciting, and I am looking forward to the fun and frolics.

Important: Please note that I am in Turkey, and there is a 7-10 hours time difference with the States.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Why meme?

I like memes, and not just because the word meme means breast in Turkish. Peter Nellhaus at Coffee, Coffee, and More Coffee, one of the great blogs out there, posted one recently, which piqued my interest. The rules are simple:

1) Pick up the nearest book.
2) Open to page 123.
3) Locate the fifth sentence.
4) Post the next three sentences on your blog and in so doing…
5) Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

The nearest book around me is Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass, the final part of the His Dark Materials trilogy. I read it about six months ago, but it’s just been sitting here on my desk, waiting to be returned to its owner (thanks, JC – ironic that the person who lent me this atheistic fable shares his initials with Hay-zeus). I am a fan of the book’s ideas – the parallel evolution angle has been justly celebrated, and the story is a fine latter-day homage to Paradise Lost. But I find the final book lacking in drama, which is usurped, instead, by the subtext. I see what Pullman’s getting at, I appreciate the world(s) he’s created, but I just don’t feel any immediacy to the two main characters. Pullman’s affinity for dangling modifiers, and needlessly complicated imagery of the locales (his descriptions of the Citagazze seafront in the second book are all over the place) don’t help matters, either.

But enough of my yakkin’ – let’s boogie:

“So each side was aware that the other was also making its way towards the cave in the mountains. And they both knew that whoever got there first would have the advantage, but there wasn’t much in it: Lord Asriel’s gyropters were faster than the zeppelins of the Consistorial Court, but they had further to fly, and they were limited by the speed of their own zeppelin tanker.

And there was another consideration: whoever seized Lyra first would have to fight their way out against the other force.”


And, finally, tag you very much:

Jonathan Lapper’s CinemaStyles
Dennis Cozzalio’s Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule
Kevin J Olson’s Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies
Zach Campbell’s Elusive Lucidity

Friday, May 2, 2008

Summer Movie Preview: Part I

There is a bulbous whitehead growing on the side of my nose. I noticed it this morning in the lift, and it’s been bugging me ever since. Why do bad things happen to good people? I ask myself that same question quite often during the summer months, and it’s not just because I crash and burn like the Hindenburg at every single beach party. No, it’s because, nine times out of ten, I leave a summer blockbuster feeling hollow, less fulfilled than before I went into the cinema – if such a thing is possible. One can’t blame Hollywood – it’s its nature. The fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves – like Kevin Bacon’s Chip, I keep getting pounded on the ass by summer blockbusters, and yet I still ask for more.

There are various reasons why I keep going back to the whooping well. I need to see moving images, especially after dinner – that’s the first thing. I also like it when things explode – that’s the other. But the most important one is hope. I hope that the next film I see is better than the previous one; I hope for wonder and awe; I hope for a revelation. Watching a Hollywood blockbuster is like a stagecoach ride in the Old West. When you start, you are hoping for a pleasant trip. By the halfway point, you just hope to survive. And before I get going, I hope I got some brownie points from the more refined lovers of art frequenting this blog for working in Shakespeare, Day For Night, and Animal House in the same introduction.

I dealt with Iron Man yesterday and you can read that piece by scrolling down to the previous post. I see on Rotten Tomatoes that it got great reviews from many of the respected print critics out there, which is terribly impressive for a movie like Iron Man. As long as the film has a huge opening weekend (which it still might not – and not because of GTA 4), Paramount might greenlight a sequel before the week is out, it seems. Please, please, please call the sequel Iran Man. The possibilities are endless.

Everyone bitches about summers’ being full of sequels – everyone should shut the hell up. Sure, original product is preferable than retreats, but an offhanded dismissal of all sequels/remakes/relaunches is reductivist horseshit. That hardly any sequel is ever good, let alone as good as the original, has absolutely nothing to do with the price of fish. I don’t see people bitching about The Odyssey, The Merry Wives of Windsor, or, in fact, The New Testament (though, to be fair, even that got its fair share of detractors at the time for toning down the original’s violence).

The first sequel of the summer is Prince Caspian, the follow-up to 2005’s Narnia, and to type out the full names of both is an invitation to carpal tunnel syndrome, so you will just have to live with my arbitrary, and ever changing, epithets. I can safely say that this film holds absolutely no interest for me. As a kid, I used to be a huge fan of sword and sorcery, and mythology, and fantasy, and all that geeky crap. While children my age were kicking the ball around outside, I was in my room, reading Roy Thomas and John Buscema’s excellent run on The Savage Sword of Conan, or devouring books on Greek and Norse mythology, or just simply fantasising about worlds with knights, dragons, sorcerers, all reasons that have contributed to my somewhat shaky relationship with the fairer sex. But for a few titles here and there – uninspiring fare like Dragonslayer, or Krull, or, yikes, Willow – fantasy films were hard to come by then, and I longed for the day when what’s on screen would match at least the magnitude of what was on the pages of my favourite comics or books. It’s ironic that my interest in wizards and witches faded round the time when the technology to properly realise the worlds they’d inhabit was finally developed.

That’s not to say I won’t see it, because I probably will. The only film from last summer that I didn’t catch at the cinemas was the Fantastic Four sequel, and I still haven’t seen it (I doubt I’m missing much). If they build it, I come. Having said that, Caspian just looks dire to me. The Christ-metaphor angle has always made me rather uncomfortable with the Narnia books anyway, and in the previous film, it was amped up to eleven. Everyone is trying to recapture the magic of the Harry Potter and Rings films (no pun intended), but Narnia lacks the human elements of the former, and the grandiosity of the latter. The trailer betrays a more sizeable effects budget this time out, but it still looks lacking, and small.

Come back Monday when I take the other summer sequels to task…

They mostly come out at night... Mostly.

A bunch of us have a weekly game of footy on Saturday afternoons, and even though I have been sparing the wider world the sheer awesomeness of my footballing skills of late, I still partake in the post-match sessions. The one we had a few weeks ago was particularly harsh. The next morning I woke up with the mother of all hangovers, who turned out to be a particularly unwelcome houseguest, not leaving right away, asking me to cook her breakfast – the whole shebang. Well, the only way one can banish such unpleasantness to the fiery pits of hell from whence it came, I find, is to go for a comfort run, sweat it out, have some greasy comfort food, and slouch in front of the telly, watching a comfort movie. My choice was Gremlins, which I followed with its sublime sequel. The inimitable Dennis Cozzalio has been covering the great Joe Dante for the past few weeks in a traditionally spectacular fashion, and you can see why watching just those two movies.

Dennis writes:

For this reason, not nearly so many people as should tend to understand that movies like Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Explorers, The ‘burbs and his HBO film The Second Civil War are masterpieces of design, effect, satire and social commentary that far outstrip most of the movies that august bodies tend to crown with awards. Dante's movies are firecrackers, ones you shouldn't hold in your hands for long. They snap, crackle, pop and outright supernova with the kind of exuberance that most directors half his age can’t muster. Don Mancini’s Seed of Chucky is about the only movie that can stand anywhere near Gremlins 2 as an acid-blooded, tear-the-roof-off-the-joint studio sequel that makes the very idea of a sequel its radically funny foundation, a foundation from which a virtual house of mirrors explodes and plasters the walls of the cinema with a thousand different angles on creative cannibalism.

The following clip brightened up my morning. Just hearing that theme tune again…

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Summer Movie Preview Preview

Yeah, yeah, I know. I haven’t updated this blog for a while. In my defense, I have been extremely busy at work. Also, I was away for a while in April, which also precluded me from sharing my wit with the world. I wish there were a definite article that started with a w, so that the last part of that sentence could be perfectly alliterative. I think Hemingway had the same problem.

First thing’s first: The Indiana Jones blog-a-thon is coming up in a few weeks, and I have heard from a fair number of people that they are looking forward to the blog-a-thon more than they are looking forward to the film itself. That’s only a slight exaggeration. The next instalment of the Indy franchise, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (aside: the Turkish translation is Indiana Jones ve Kristal Kurukafa Kralligi - ve is and in Turkish: see how unfortunate that translation is?), got off to a very shaky start. When it was first announced that Spielberg, Lucas and Ford had all agreed on a script, and they were definitely making a new film, scout’s honour, the world, or the part of it that gave a shit (read: 17 middle-aged nerds who still live with their parents, and can’t get over the fact that Starbuck is a chick in the new Battlestar Galactica – which, incidentally, is the most overrated piece of garbage on telly right now), collectively rolled its eyes as it realised that the elusive promise of a new instalment was much more fun than a rigid announcement (on the other hand, nothing can be more fun than MY rigid announcement, aye!). The buzz was fricking dire. As the months passed, and photos started to trickle from production, including an excellent one taken by Spielberg himself of Ford in his Indy get up between takes, the buzz started to build, and reached somewhat of a fever pitch just before the debut of the first trailer. Which, unfortunately, was pants, and interest started to vane once again. Right now, it’s almost back to its original abysmal level – at least among fans and the online blogging community (not to mention scoop sites). So much so that there has been some rather unsubtle damage control, which seems to have had the opposite effect. I call this the The Phantom Menace Levels of Disappointment Prevention Syndrome, or TPMLODPS for short.

All of which got me thinking about this summer’s crop of wank that’s about to be unspooled on us. Everyone seems to be chiming in with their opinions on this year’s big blockbusters, and I decided to take a bite of that shit sandwich myself and do my own summer preview – after all, this is the product we will have to live with until the awards season starts in mid-Autumn. We might as well enjoy it. And by we, I mean me, and the eight other people who live in my brain (the very people who are more excited about the blog-a-thon than Indy).

The summer movie season officially starts tomorrow with Iron Man – some have questioned if he hasn’t lost his mind, if he can’t see or isn’t blind. Apparently, nobody wants him, he just stares at the world. I hate myself. Right, got that out of the way, back to the subject at hand: Iron Man. Apparently, he’s planning his vengeance – kidding, kidding, don’t leave.

Iron Man is interesting for a number of reasons. The character might not necessarily be one of Marvel’s second-tier heroes like Ghost Rider or Daredevil (Blade is eighth-tier, by the way), but he is not necessarily in the same league as Spider-Man or The Hulk, either. I was talking to my great friend Phil the other day, and he said what most people with lives, who reside outside of the States (and quite a few in the US, too, I’d imagine), must be thinking: “Iron Who?” The character is just not that well known – which is why they seem to be selling it as “Forget about the fact that it’s based on a comic book, here is a story of a guy with a jet pack who blows shit up good.”

Which is doubly important when considering the talent that’s launching the film. I think Jon Favreau is a talented director with a keen eye for commercial fare, not to mention an enthusiastic cineaste (his Dinner for Five interview with, nay, paean to, Scorsese is overwhelming in its enthusiasm - I mean that as a compliment), but he ain’t Michael Bay or even Stephen Sommers, you know (with regards to making commercial flicks). And eclectic as it is, a cast fronted by Robert Downey, JR, and including Mrs Chris Martin (almost wrote Steve Martin), Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, and err, Shaun Toub, is not going to sell too many tickets on its own. But put all that together, throw it in a pot, add some broth, a potato - Baby, you've got a stew going.

The buzz has been excellent on the film for months now – and the early reviews, almost unanimous in their praise (but let’s wait for the print critics, too) seem to indicate a comic book film in line with Dick Donner’s hallowed Superman, or Raimi’s equally excellent Spider-Man 2. Which I am all for. A comic book film is supposed to be fun, first and foremost. Even Batman Begins is a fun film, slightly more edgy, but still FUN, and still a comic book film (I will deal with Batman soon enough).

Come back tomorrow for the next part of my summer preview.