Thursday, April 14, 2011

APRIL 14, 1865.

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done; The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won; The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring: But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead. O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills; For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding; For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; Here Captain! dear father! This arm beneath your head; It is some dream that on the deck, You’ve fallen cold and dead. My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still; My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will; The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done; From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won; Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells! But I, with mournful tread, Walk the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.

-- Walt Whitman

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

IN MY 900th POST ON THIS BLOG I THOUGHT I'D RESPOND TO A FRIEND OF A FRIEND. Good buddy Weaverman over at FLEAPIT announced his friend's brand new blog LIFE IS A CABARET in which the focus will be on musicals. In this spirit, he posted his top ten favourite musicals and I thought I'd do the same. This list, of course, runs the risk of me forgetting a film or two and also is very likely to change depending on my mood. But as of now, I figure this be my 10 faves:
  1. THE BAND WAGON (1953)
  4. MARY POPPINS (1964)
  5. MY FAIR LADY (1964)
  7. 1776 (1972)

Saturday, April 09, 2011

STILL REELING FROM THE STUNNING TOME "75 YEARS OF DC COMICS: THE ART OF MODERN MYTHMAKING" BY PAUL LEVITZ, I'VE BEEN DEVOTING THE "COMIC COVER OF THE DAY" FEATURE TO YOUR RIGHT EXCLUSIVELY TO DC COMICS. And that trend will continue as April is DC Cover Month. Each daywill find a cover from DC's illustrious 75 year history. But since I can't contain my excitement over this truly breathtaking book, I hereby present a themed post on DC Wedding Covers over the years. Marriage is supposedly an important institution and here is how DC presented it through the years:

Friday, April 08, 2011

UM. . .WHILE WE'RE MAKING ALL THESE LIVE ACTION SUPER HERO MOVIES LIKE GREEN LANTERN. . .when is someone going to make the GREEN ARROW movie starring Josh Holloway?!?!? It's not like he's DOING anything and he'd be pert near perfect, I think! I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

DC ANIMATED MOVIES HAVE BEEN, BY & LARGE, A NICELY DONE GROUP OF FILMS BUT SURELY "BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD" MUST RANK NEAR THE TOP. The direct-to-video DC Comics animated movie adapts the "Red Hood" storyline from the Batman comic book of several years past. However, it starts with the climactic moment of the famous 1980's "Death in the Family" storyline in which Dick Grayson's successor as Robin - Jason Todd - was viciously murdered by the Joker. Now, I don't think Jason Todd as Robin has been established in any previous "DC animated film" so this might be a little confusing to tyro viewers who think Dick Grayson is Robin; however the film does a fairly good job of establishing this is Grayson's successor who is beaten to a pulp by the Clown Prince of Crime. . .and then blown up. Nasty no matter WHO it is and the film doesn't shy away from the brutality while managing to pan away during the worst of the beating with a crow bar. As all this is only prologue to the actual story of the film set five years later, that's all I'm going to say about that.
Again. . .it's five years later and the Batman is alone and even more grim (if that's possible). Now with Jason in his grave and the Joker safely ensconced in Arkham Asylum, Gotham City is being troubled by a new mysterious presence named "The Red Hood" who has terrified the leading drug lords into forking over to him 40% of their earnings. It is at this point that it should be noted that way back in the mists of time, early in the Batman's career, he battled a criminal named the Red Hood who fell wounded into a vat of chemicals and became the Joker. Batman and his former partner Dick Grayson (now the hero Nightwing) visit the strait-jacketed Joker in order to question him about this new version of the Red Hood -- but all the Joker is interested in is taunting Batman about his dead sidekick. During the proceedings, the Batman also encounters criminal kingpin the Black Mask, the Justice League's villain Amazo (whom Batman and Nightwing actually managed to defeat believably) and evil mastermind Ra's al-Ghul. I'm not going to provide any spoilers here but the identity of the new Red Hood is soon discovered. Unlike the original comic book storyline in which the Red Hood's true identity came as quite a shock and a surprise, here in the movie it's fairly obvious and no real sense of mystery is built up before the big reveal. This could be seen as a weakness in the film (and it is) but not as much as you might think as the incredibly short running time of the film (only 75 minutes) leaves little time for such a build-up. This (like many other of the DC animated films) cries out for at least 90 minutes and possibly more to tell the story properly. While the film that exists is actually very good and probably the best of the lot so far, it certainly would've been excellent if given more time to tell the tale. As it is, the film is clear and understandable with a sizeable amount of emotional impact (particularly in the climactic "alley" scene) and is directed by Brandon Vietti extremely well. Vietti is no stranger to DC animation and shows his experience here. The film itself looks better than most of the overly-lit DC animated movies as well; saturated colours fill the screen but the use of heavy blacks and low-key lighting makes the colours pop and creates a suitable atmosphere. Previous DC animated movies, while looking pretty good, suffer from overly-lit colours which subsequently can appear a little washed-out. If the classic 90s BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (the show which kickstarted the current DC animation dynasty as we know it today) taught us nothing else it's that superheroic animation works best when following this darker, Fleischeresque animation style which worked so well for the 40s SUPERMAN cartoons upon which all this is ultimately based. BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD is simply gorgeous to the eye. The voice work is very good as well. The Batman and Joker voices are recast this time and feature Bruce Greenwood as the Dark Knight Detective and John DiMaggio (of FUTURAMA) as the Clown Prince of Crime. Both men do nice jobs with DiMaggio providing slightly gruffer, more threatening vocal attributes with which to illustrate the obvious murderous capabilites of the character. Neil Patrick Harris (don't call him Doogie Howser) voices Dick Grayson/Nightwing while Jensen Ackles (my own personal man-crush Dean Winchester on SUPERNATURAL) naturally excels as the Red Hood. While I have not seen all the DC animated movies I've seen a good chunk and this one is probably my favourite so far. An impressive entry in the series and hopefully a sign of things to come.

Monday, April 04, 2011

"DANGER ROUTE" IS A SPY MOVIE WHICH DOESN'T PLAY LIKE ANY JAMES BOND KNOCKOFF. This low-key, sour (in a good way) and rather grumpy (also in a good way) espionage flick is called by "The Eurospy Guide" co-author David Deal as "one of the unsung gems of the genre" and he's not far wrong. Some sadly suffering from short attention spans might bewail the relative lack of action; there are no massive explosions or car crashes every 10 minutes and no wacky gadgets a la agent 007. However, what there is is an absorbing storyline in which no one can trust anyone else. Also there is a cast which is uniformly excellent, direction which is economical and absorbing and a script which is tight, cynical and gritty.
Jonas Wilde (Richard Johnson) is a British agent who has just finished one case and abruptly has to start a new one. A defector named Balin is coming over to "our" side; however the Brits feel he could cause a lot of damage to them if allowed to go to the Americans. So they decide that Balin will meet with an unfortunate "accident" via Jonas Wilde and this will all be chalked up to British "inefficiency" while the defector is in their custody. Wilde takes leave of his live-in girlfriend Jocelyn (Carol Lynley) -- who doesn't know he's a spy -- and heads off to the manor house in which Balin is being sequestered. In a local pub, Wilde chats up the manor's housekeeper Rhoda (Diana Dors) and talks his way into the house and her bed. While there, Wilde manages to take on the CIA agents led by Lucinda (Sam Wanamaker) and kill the defector. However, during the melee and escape, Wilde is shot in the arm, bitten by an attack dog and coshed by Lucinda. After being roughed up and interrogated, Wilde manages to escape the CIA. Unfortunately, Lucinda has allowed Wilde to escape in order to lead him to his superiors. This is about all I'm going to say about the plot since it is intricate with twists and turns galore and I've only managed to tell you about 10 percent of it so far. You really have to see the movie for the whole shebang. And see the movie you should because it's a terrific yarn! If you're set up to watch movies instantly on Netflix, you can watch it right now.
Richard Johnson (Professor Markway from THE HAUNTING) is wonderfully sour and cynical as agent Jonas Wilde. His world-weary face has seen it all, it seems, making his character instantly believable. He is also good at the physical bits. Diana Dors is terrific (as always) as the lonely housekeeper who feels like she needs to go on a diet; she really conveys to quiet desperation of the woman. Also rounding out the superb cast is Harry Andrews, Gordon Jackson, Sylvia Syms (also wonderful as the upper crust Mrs. Canning), Barbara Bouchet and Maurice Denham. Everyone in the film is fantastic without exception. Director Seth Holt previously worked on the DANGER MAN television series as well as Hammer thrillers THE NANNY and SCREAM OF FEAR. DANGER ROUTE would sadly be his last completed film; he would die during the making of Hammer's BLOOD OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB. The script by Meade Roberts (SUMMER AND SMOKE) was adapted from the novel "The Eliminators" by Andrew York. Oddly, this would also be Roberts' penultimate film as screenwriter as well. As far as gritty and more realistic spy films go, DANGER ROUTE cannot be bettered. It's less James Bond and more CALLAN in feel. And any comparision with CALLAN from me is about the highest praise any film can get. Seek it out!
THE HORROR CINEMATIC ALPHABET. Our good friend Terry over at Paleo-Cinema did his own Science Fiction Cinematic Alphabet via an idea he glommed at Rupert Pupkin Speaks. If'n he can tweak the idea for a Skiffy Alphabet than I can sure tweak a horror one. So here goes. . .when not teaching a child their ABC's via Edward Gorey's Gashlycrum Tinies, one can certainly learn 'em a thing or two with this Cinematic Horror Alphabet. . .and I'll try not to pick the obvious ones:
B is for THE BAT WHISPERS (1930)
C is for THE CREEPING FLESH (1973)
D is for DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)
E is for THE EVIL DEAD (1981)
G is for THE GORGON (1964)
H is for HOUSE OF USHER (1960)
I is for I BURY THE LIVING (1958)
J is for JU-ON (2000)
K is for KWAIDAN (1964)
L is for LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008)
M is for THE MUMMY (1932)
N is for NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1957)
O is for THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1932)
Q is for QUATERMASS 2 (1957)
R is for ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968)
U is for THE UNINVITED (1944)
V is for THE VAMPIRE (1957)
W is for WHITE ZOMBIE (1932)
X is for X THE UNKNOWN (1956)
Y is for YOKAI MONSTERS (1968)
Z is for ZOMBIELAND (2009)