Month: September 2007

Calgary is Caprica

Calgary isn’t cool just because it loves Body/Antibody. It’s cool because it is living in the freaking future. For one, people who live there are called Calgerians. I am not 100% sure, but I’m pretty sure it was the Calgerians who sold the Romulans the technology to build the cloaking device. Also: almost all of downtown is connected by a series of tubes fifteen feet above the ground. They call this the +15 and it is awesome. You can enter a building, go up to the second floor, wander down a bunch of hallways, then go outside again — and be TWENTY BLOCKS AWAY! And these aren’t just any hallways. These are, like, awesome, space-age hallways. Lots of THX-1138 white and glass. But what’s *really* cool is that you are just wandering around in other peoples’ offices all day. Seriously. As you go in the buildings on your way to each new tunnel — you are seeing people on their way to meetings and stuff. And then — a shopping mall! And then — an indoor garden! Straight out of Silent Running. No! I am not making this up! It is awesome! The +15 is the largest of these things anywhere — bigger than Minneapolis’ “Skyway,” in case you were wondering. Read more about the...

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Philip Roth – Everyman

It’s hard to recommend to you that you run out and buy Everyman, a 250 page rumination on death, especially since you could also read Roth’s The Dying Animal, another 250 page rumination on death that at least has the added benefit of having some hot and (dare I say) perverse sex scenes. Whereas Animal has humor and an obnoxious narrator you love to hate, Everyman is just plain depressing. We get sketches of a man’s life and his relationship to death — early encounters, childhood sickness, the death of his parents, death of friends and finally his own deterioration. Roth is known for his humor – his humor is perhaps the key element that has me coming back to him over and over – but I don’t really remember laughing too much with this one. I remember sighing and going “oy vey.” Writers, though, will be impressed. His ability to tease out whole characters with a line fragments is something of a miracle. One quick description of his father’s watch shop and you instantly understand his whole childhood. It’s stunning in its simplicity. So, I suppose, there’s your recommendation right...

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Spider-Man 3 (2007), Sam Raimi, B

For whatever reason I really disliked Spider-Man 2. Hated it. So when most people brushed aside part three I was in no rush to see it. But, being on an airplane is the perfect forum for something like this. Those compressed screens make everything look cool — I didn’t even mind the absurdly fake CGI effects. Sam Raimi knows how to stage an action sequence, I’ll say that for him. And there aren’t too many boring talk-y scenes in this film. Indeed, the little “Tobey-Maguire-is-a-jerk” middle period is hilarious. Maybe hardcore Spider-Man fans thought it a disgrace, but I giggled. I especially like him and his landlord’s daughter. He should dump that obnoxious and nowhere-going Mary Jane and hang out with her...

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Daredevil (2003), Mark Steven Johnson, C-

No one from Hell’s Kitchen calls it “The Kitchen.” That was the first thing I didn’t like about this movie. The plot and dialogue are bad even for a comic-book movie and Ben Affleck — let’s just be honest — is an awful actor. I know it is bandwagon behavior to speak ill of the man, but he really is a shitty performer. He has no presence and can’t deliver a line right. The dude is a disgrace. The film is also unclear about what he (and Elektra’s) powers are? The one positive thing I can say (and this bumps it all the way to a C-) is the tactile aspect of the fight scenes. Compared to the Spider-Man films, there is a tangible element to the costumes, to the stunts — it is less whiz-bang, sure, but it feels more real, more tough in a way. Spider-Man’s suit looks like a cartoon, Daredevil’s looks like Ben Affleck slipped on some leather. In a way, that is something...

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Marvel 1602

I give this graphic novel point for trying, but ultimately thumbs down. For some stupid reason I thought there’d be some actual history. There’s about as much as in your average Black Adder episode. That’s fine, though, so what about the story? Here’s where I was surprised. Neil Gaiman is one of the biggest names around and he’s respected as this genius storyteller. I found the story of 1602 to be (if I may be blunt) retarded. A half-assed little chase stapled on to the end of this larger “world.” The selling point is simply seeing the Marvel Universe re-imagined for the 17th Century. That’s it, that’s the whole idea. And, as such, this will only be really appealing to true Marvel obsessives who catch every easter egg and get every reference. For the casual fan it isn’t all that exciting. The artwork is quite nice, though. And Dr. Strange is cool in any...

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Jordan Hoffman is a New York-based writer and film critic working for The Guardian, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, Times of Israel, NY Daily News and elsewhere.

He is the host of ENGAGE: The Official Star Trek Podcast, a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and challenges you to a game of backgammon.

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