Northlanders: The Girl in The Ice (#35 – #36)

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Sunday, January 30th, 2011

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One of my favorite things about reading Nortlanders, Brian Wood’s comics tales of the Viking Era, is that between the 8-issue arcs comes a quick 2-issue arc or a one-shot. This newest one can be summed up in about a sentence: hermit discovers body in ice, gets blamed for murder. It’s a dark tale, with drawings that are truly evocative. In a very simple, minimalist way, these microscopic works of art offer up a “You Are There” experience you’re not likely to find anywhere else.

Star Trek: Khan: Ruling in Exile

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Khan_Ruling_in_Hell_4_Stribling

What happened after Khan, the survivors of the Botany Bay and Marla McGivers beamed down to Ceti Alpha V, but before Captain Terrell and Pavel Chekov ran afoul of the group on (what they thought was) Ceti Alpha VI?

It’s a question we’ve long been asking. So much so that, a few years back, there was a novel written: To Reign in Hell: The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh.

But expanded universes know no canon!

This 4-issue comic is similar to the novel in some of the major beats, but not all. It’s a fun read for Khan fans, and also features some pretty cool art. (Marla McGivers in a flesh-colored catsuit that teeters on the edge of pornographic, for example.)

This is also a good arc for folks who are only Trek fans on a surface level. Pretty much everyone knows Space Seed and TWOK, right?

Carlos (2010), Olivier Assayas, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Carlos-Poster

With Soderbergh’s Che, Koji Wakamatsu’s United Red Army, Uli Edel’s Baader-Meinhof Complex and, heck, Spielberg’s Munich all coming out in the last 5 years, it is fair to say that, yes, armed leftist revolutionaries are quite cinematic.

I’ve been a fan of this odd subgenre for quite some time (read this piece from way back in February of 1999) but only now is the rest of the world caught up with me.

Assayas, a difficult filmmaker, knows how to pour on the ambience, and there are sequences in this five-and-a-half-hour mini-series that really hit it out of the park. The soundtrack of early 80s post-punk (Wire, New Order, The Feelies) is an inspired choice. The film as a whole does a fascinating job of fleshing out a lengthy wikipedia entry but, as a whole, it doesn’t quite fit together as drama.

There are 101 great moments, but I can’t say that I really connected to the characters in an emotional way.

The flick does get you thinking, though.

Here’s a concept: we can blame the rise of fundamentalist Islam (and the terrorism that comes with it) on the end of the Cold War. I’m being very serious. The power & money in the Arab world was primarily in the hands of militant Marxist-Leninists during this time. No friend to the West, for sure, but also not the type of psychotics who would revel in the mass death of civilians. The foot soldiers, all a bit twisted, yes, were book smart, and sometimes had a conscience. They talked about dialectics and rambled about economic theory.

When the Wall fell, the men in power in the Middle East wanted to stay there, but since Communism was dead they turned to the opiate of the masses and this film shows the beats that let it happen.

You think the wealthy Syrians give a rat’s ass about Allah any more than they did the struggle of the Proletariat?

Another thing: this movie (which, by the way, gets high marks for staying apolitical, even though it is about political struggles) makes it clear that most of the world’s problems are due to the fact that so many people just can not and will not accept that Jews can have a thriving, independent state. How is it that French citizens, who have all the opportunity in the world to protest their own country’s imperialist agenda (which still exists right now in 2011), spend all of their time and energy fighting over the rights of the Palestinians? And they do so in a way that refuses to accept that culpability for their plight may be even a tiny bit shared with wealthy Arab states as well as the Israelis?

Well, that’s an argument for another day.

You should watch Carlos. It is an interesting story and has some crack filmmaking, even if all the women characters were basically “Blowjob Provider A, Blowjob Provider B, Blowjob Provider C and The Crazy One.”

Creep (2005), Christopher Smith, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, January 30th, 2011

CREEP__CHRISTOPHER SMITH__FRANKA POTENTE_02

Very solid survival horror pic set in the London Underground. Scary & gross.

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger (2010), Woody Allen, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, January 30th, 2011

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This is the worst movie Woody Allen has ever made.

I don’t like saying bad things about Woody. Let’s move on.

The Last of the Mohicans (1992), Michael Mann, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, January 30th, 2011

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A standard enough Hollywood historical epic elevated by great music, a spectacularly shot climax and, let’s not mince words, the very becoming two leads. Daniel Day-Lewis & Madeline Stowe in 1992 are Platonic ideals of beauty. You can’t fight star power. Loincloths and bodices never looked so good. (Wes Studi is awesome in this, too.)

Severance (2006), Christopher Smith, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, January 30th, 2011

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Satirical horror flick about a group of workers (for an arms manufacturer) getting their comeuppance in an Eastern European “team-building” weekend.

Decent idea, but, for some reason, didn’t quite work for me.

Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), Paul W.S. Anderson, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Resident Evil Afterlife

I watched this movie late last night and I’ve already forgotten how it ends.

What I do, remember, are some absurd fight sequences, gun fetish shots, Milla Jovovich in tight outfits and dudes whose faces split open. And Tig from Sons of Anarchy being the Paul Reiser from Aliens character.

Paul W.S. Anderson makes garbage, but he’ll never make a movie I won’t sit through. Hey, at least I’m honest.

Sundance 2011

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, January 29th, 2011

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I’m not going to post an entry for each of the 21 films I saw during the 6 (of 10) days I was at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but I will include links to all of the reviews at UGO.com.


The Great

My Idiot Brother
Hobo With A Shotgun
Submarine
Shut Up, Little Man!
Win Win
Project Nim
Meek’s Cutoff
The Woman
Take Shelter
Perfect Sense

The Quite Good, Good, Mostly Good and Better Than Meh
Silent House
Uncle Kent
The Salesman
The Future
Cedar Rapids
The Catechism Cataclysm

The Not Good
Red State
Another Earth
Salvation Boulevard
Vampire
Bobby Fischer Against The World

Hunter Prey (2010), Sandy Collora, B-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, January 29th, 2011

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Genre fans are understandably excited by this picture, made by a former fan-film director, and put together for about 85 cents. When looked at that way, yes, it is a remarkable achievement. It is a full film, with actual characters, plot and some decent fight scenes and props. In a vacuum, though, it fails to impress. I’m not gonna’ be the bastard to dwell on the negatives, though. Good for this guy for making an indie film that isn’t whiny young people complaining about dating.

Galaxy of Terror (1981), Bruce D. Clark, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, January 29th, 2011

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Depending who you ask this is either the picture where a young James Cameron did production design and second unit, or it’s the movie where a woman gets raped and killed by a giant, slimy space worm. Can’t it be both?

Ray Walston, Grace Zabriskie, Zalman King, Robert Englund, Erin Moran and Sid Haig star in this Aliens/Solaris rip-off and it is good, gross, weird fun.

Futurama: Volume 5

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, January 29th, 2011

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First let’s split some hairs. This is Volume 5, but to fans this is Season 6. (Technically, the first half of Season 6.) Season 5 was the (in my opinion) underwhelming collection of feature-length films, which started out well but kinda fell apart. This is what we’ve learned: Futurama works well in 22 minute episodes and no longer.

Volume 5 is as good as any of the Glory Day episodes of Futurama. There is some incredible stuff here. The one-way time machine, the Robosexual Marriage, the eyePhone and the Evolution episodes, especially.

Green Lantern: A Guy and His G’Nort

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Saturday, January 29th, 2011

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The Guardians dug Guy Gardner the sole GL of Sector 2814, but then a dopey space canine decides to pal around. After battling circus animals posing as an alternate GL Corps out to protect the Universe in the name of fun, Guy and G’Nort battle the true baddies the (guess who?) Weaponers of Qward and Sinestro.

This is a very entertaining arc if you like Guy Gardner and comics from the early 1990s.

Green Lantern/The Flash: Faster Friends

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Sunday, January 16th, 2011

fasterfriends

Kyle Rayner and Wally West so have the hots for each other.

This recently repubbed Marv Wolfman late-90s collection has a dying Jay Garrick, a “Sentinel” Alan Scott, a douchey Wally West and a slightly-less douchey Kyle Rayner fighting the dumbest Alien (Alien X) in the Multiverse. This Roswell leftover had the power to up and leave whenever he wanted, but waited for five decades til AFTER dangerous radioactive waves gave him cancer. No sympathy!

Anyway, this is a pretty forgettable comic, even for Kyle Rayner fans.

The Green Lantern Chronicles, Vol 2

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Sunday, January 16th, 2011

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As with Volume One, these books collect the Silver Age GL in the unedited, exact order in which it was released.

The year is 1961 and we’re about to meet Hector Hammond, Tomar-Re and Sinestro. (The Weaponers of Qward, however, are old chums.)

Here’s what you need to know about Hal Jordan. He’s a total square. More so than most comic book heroes of the era. And, also, a little dense. He turned Pieface into a bird and didn’t even know it.

I like the space monsters, but, man, this stuff is corny. And for children. I’m wasting my life.

Army of Darkness (1993), Sam Raimi, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, January 16th, 2011

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I don’t want to shock you, but this is actually only the 2nd time I’ve seen Army of Darkness all the way through – and the first time was opening night during college.

I’d forgotten that it is, essentially, one giant (awesome, hilarious) battle sequence.

This is the last, great pre-CGI movie. And a blast.

Also: watched the alternate ending. “I slept too looooooong!” If they’d've kept that, it would have been a catchphrase for years.

Triangle (2009), Christopher Smith, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, January 16th, 2011

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Timecrimes goes sailing!

Okay, here’s the thing – I don’t think this time-loopy horror flick actually makes sense. . .but these movies NEVER make sense! The fact that this make 95% sense is a MAJOR victory!!

Triangle made Ann jump off the couch and Melissa George never once thinks to maybe zip up that little jacket to keep her voluptuous bosom from shimmying every which way while she runs from moral peril.

Brightest Day #0-7

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Sunday, January 16th, 2011

brightest-day-poster

The first 8 issues of Brightest Day are now available in a collection, so the time is right for me to weigh in on this series that I’ve been keeping up with in single issues.

Help!

I absolutely love what Geoff Johns is doing with Green Lantern and the Flash, but these intricate crossover tales are almost too much to handle. What did comic book fans do before the DC Wiki? Every single obscure character in the DCU gets a moment onstage – in an altered form – and then disappears just when you think the story is going their way.

Each issue of Brightest Day ends with maximum excitement and shock, only for the next one to pick up in some completely different place. I feel like there are 500 loose stories zooming all over the place. I trust that everything will come full circle, but, for now, I feel like I am reading a comic book written by Robert Altman.

Incidentally, the concurrent Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps and Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors books, which I’m also keeping up with, are fantastic. I think it is a matter of scope.

I must say, though, that the art is amazing. It’s practically glow in the dark. If you were on mushrooms and had these comics in front of you, you might go to some far off place and never come back.

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