Friday, June 30, 2006

EVill Films, 6/30/06: Superman Returns

Definitely liked it. It's worthy. I'm all-in for future installments.

Not sure I loved it, though. And I wanted to love it.

But we'll see--Maybe it just needs to sit with me a little longer. I'm certainly going back for seconds--So, take from that what you will.

To be sure, there was stuff that I loved in the movie... A lot, actually. Stuff that gave me goose bumps. Stuff that made my heart pound like when I was 9 and Mistah Wondahful was making his Big Comeback (TM) for the final showdown with Zod.

The Good:

  • The--awesome--opening and closing sequences. I'm a structure geek. It pissed me off that Brett Ratner dispensed with the opening voice-over of Singer's first two X-Men films in his P.O.S. sequel. It seemed petty and destructive (which was, apparently, the point of that whole film: to tear down the house that Bryan built). So I was happy to see that Singer did not, himself, make the same mistake by dispensing with the classic opening & closing sequences from the first two Superman films. This is just one of the ways the new film establishes a continuity between itself and its forebears: it's the next episode in the same series.

    I was disappointed that the Krypton sequence itself (which sort of mirrored its counterpart in the first film) was cut. (Can you say, "Special Edition DVD for Christmas," boys and girls?)

  • The John Williams themes (which, IMO, are among his best work)

  • The--thrilling--flashback to Young Clark discovering his powers

  • "I Spent the Night With Superman" counterpointed with "Why The World Doesn't Need Superman" (counterpointed with "Why The World Does Need Superman")

  • The. Fortress. of. Solitude. (Bitch.) Breathtaking.

  • The Adis Ababa Meteorite, source of Luthor's Kryptonite in the original--still in play

  • "When I was 5, what did my father say to me?" "'Get out!'" "Before that." (Awesome callback. Still, it worked better in the original.)

  • "The son becomes the father and the father, the son." Total goosebumps moment when he repeats his father's mantra to Jason--A stroke of genius, the single best idea in the film.

  • The decision to not recast Jor-El

  • Jason and the henchman playing "Chopsticks"

  • When Lois doesn't kiss him after the reprise of "Can You Read My Mind," about which I, generally, had mixed feelings. If she was that angry (and I can totally see why she would be), why would she consent to go flying with him in the first place? I wonder if it would've worked better to "do the opposite" (as George Costanza might say). Instead of staging a full-on, albeit inferior, reprise of the original's "First Flight" sequence, maybe they should've done a "First Fight" sequence, instead.

  • When Lois does kiss him, in the hospital. (Fine, I'm a big softie. I admit it. I'm pullin for those crazy kids.)

  • I loved that we don't hear her whisper her secret in Superman's ear, the secret that gave him something to live for. (And I wonder if she knew when she got involved with Richard who the baby's real father is--I assume the answer is "yes," but I suppose we'll have to wait a few years to find out.)

  • And I also loved that it was Lois who saved Superman in this movie. On a couple of levels, even. Nice twist there. I'd like to see more of that. If she reverts to Damsel in Distress at any point, I think my newfound interest in the character will die a quick death

The cast of characters is entirely reinvigorated. Singer, Harris and Dougherty infused just enough new blood (Richard, Jason) to spark the archetypes back to life. The Superman/Clark/Lois relationship(s) is(are) fresh and interesting now. I was moved when Lois couldn't admit to Richard that she was in love with You-Know-Who (no, not him).

And again when Richard (who, of course, knows the truth) tells her she should go be with Superman at the hospital.

We like Richard. Hey, maybe what Clark needs is a girlfriend. . . (The cast could use a supporting female. Maybe they'll bring back Lana Lang.)

Without this dramatic anchor--without being able to really invest in these characters, to accept them as three-dimensional versions of their four-color selves--the picture, frankly, would've been pure shite. Pretty, well made--but shite nonetheless. (Like a David Fincher film.)

The Bad:

  • New Krypton. I dunno. I was thrilled by this plotline when I read the script. Luthor returning to the Fortress of Solitude to salvage Kryptonian technology... The idea of using the crystals to propagate more Kryptonite, a New World Superman couldn't touch; ironically, built by his own people's technology.
    But, on screen, it was ugly and dirty-lookin'. Who would want to live there? Lex Luthor's latest real estate scheme comes off as actually more preposterous than his last one ("Otisburg? Otisburg?"). And I didn't think that was possible.

  • The little old lady played by Noell Niell (totally recognizable as the original TV Lois all these decades later),bequeathing Luthor her estate. That was just silly. Did they really need to establish where Luthor gets his money (and, hence, resources) from? Can we not just assume that "the greatest criminal mastermind of our time" saves wisely?

  • The idea that Superman could cut out a Kryptonite-laced, subcontinent-sized chunk of the Earth, and haul it into space rivaled, for sheer ridiculousness, the original having him turn back time by reversing the rotation of the Earth.

  • And while Hackman's Lex is a charming curmudgeon, Spacey's is just a nasty, malevolent bastard. (Huh. Go figger.) His gang of henchmen lacked that Ned Beatty voice, which would've forced Lex into the role of straight man--an omission I dearly hope will be rectified for the next picture.

The Acting:

I admit it: as satisfactory as Frank Langella was, I couldn't help but see & hear Singer's first choice for Perry White--Hugh Laurie. (Damn--He woulda been so good.) Still, I am very, very happy with everyone, including Kate Bosworth, about whom I was quite nervous. She's young, yes, but that's a business reality: they were cast to age well for multiple sequels. (If they get to Superman Returns Part 7, we'll be thankful they were such babies here.)

As long as she can act, I can get past it--and she can act. I mean, she's not likely to be mistaken for Meryl Streep anytime soon, but, by the same token, this is not another Katie Holmes-type situation. *whew*

Brandon Routh is charming, and funny, and seems, at times, to be channeling Christopher Reeve. I quickly accepted him as both Superman and Clark.

I admit I do prefer Valerie Perrine as Luthor's moll. I kept waiting for Parker Posey's trademark snarkiness to emerge and take a big poop all over Lex... and I suppose I still am. But it never did. Though it probably will, eventually.

And that, for me, cuts to the heart of the matter: Superman Returns feels a lot like the first X-Men: very good, smart, beautifully made... but ultimately somewhat unsatisfying, because it was all set-up. It was a pilot.

On the other hand, I went nuts for X-Men 2 (which is still, in my mind, the best superhero film ever made) in large part because it paid off two films rather than just one, so I think there's a good chance that Singer's second Superman picture will be the instant classic I was hoping for here.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

LuPone & Cerveris to "keep living it"

Hat tip: Liz Smith

Patti LuPone and Michael Cerveris will go on with their merrily gruesome pie-making through Thanksgiving in Broadway's delicious, dark, avant garde revival of "Sweeney Todd" -- directed by John Doyle. The show, which opened last fall, was nominated for six Tonys, including LuPone for Best Actress in a Musical. She didn't win, but with this long run, she's having the last laugh. And when she laughs as Mrs. Lovett... well, go see for yourself, she's sensational.

By Thanksgiving, the show will have been up for 13 months. . . While it is by no means a Wicked-sized smash--discounted tickets are available just about every day at TKTS--it's been packed the 4 times I've seen it. I think once more should do it. Unless it doesn't. (Why are you looking at me like that?)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Rescue Dennis Leary

There's a difference, the old acting adage goes, between playing anger and just being angry. The former is entertaining... The latter is fingernails on a blackboard.

I was a huge fan of The Job, the last Dennis Leary-Peter Tolan series. It was hardcore--and hysterical. It was a great example of "playing anger." (It was also a great example of "brilliant but cancelled" -- It went one season before ABC pulled the plug.)

Rescue Me? Great example of "Being angry." Despite the fact that it is virtually identical to The Job (firemen instead of cops), the new show has rubbed me the wrong way almost since day 1. I recognize that the racist, misogynist, intensely homophobic attitude of most of the characters is probably an accurate reflection of reality... But it's one thing to accurately reflect reality, and another to do so in a way that alienates people (like myself) who want to like the show.

The Job found a good balance. It was able to tell those stories without offending me. Whereas Rescue Me just turned its (already reprehensible) protagonist into a rapist.

And, adding insult to injury, they portrayed the vic (his ex-wife) as enjoying it. Talk about "fingernails on a blackboard."

It's hard to believe Susan Sarandon (who is guest-starring this season) sat still for this shit.

7B Watch: The Brave One

This really is a popular corner for studio productions. (Which was emphasized by the sheer number of people walking by muttering--or shouting--variations on, "This is my home!".)

Thursday and Friday of last week, it was Kidnapped. And last night, it was The Brave One, the new Jodie Foster revenge thriller co-starring the brilliant (and delectable) Naveen Andrews and directed by Neil Jordan.

BTW, note to JJ Abrams (in the vanishingly unlikely event he's one of my tens of readers): your buddy Naveen would make a killer Mr. Spock . . .

Monday, June 26, 2006

Opus, 6/25

Click to make it legible.

well, you can tell by the way

i use my walk, i'm a woman's man, no time to talk...

Friday, June 23, 2006

EVill Plays: Doubt

Chas and I did not get to see The Lieutenant of Inishmore last night (the production did not sent a batch of seats to TKTS yesterday), but we did finally get to see Doubt, which is as good as people say.

Ron Eldard and Jenna Malone were very, very good, but Eileen Atkins owned that stage. Just brilliant. Also, very funny. (Which I didn't necessarily expect, given the subject matter--but now I see how vitally important it is that such a serious piece keep the tone light and frothy.)

Well worth seeing before it closes (in July, I think). Cherry Jones is returning to the production for the tour, which starts shortly thereafter.

Oh, and I know I said I wouldn't be blogging this weekend, but I tend to contradict myself. (I am large, yada yada.) Best get used to that up-front.

7B Watch: Kidnapped!

Stumbled across production on the first (post-pilot) episode of this new NBC series--which is, basically, their answer to 24. Instead of espionage, the intensely serialized show will spend 22 episodes following the kidnapping of a rich, Upper East Side kid by Six Feet Under vet Jeremy Sisto (pictured, though you can't tell). Timothy Hutton also stars (and is also pictured, though, agian, you can't tell... Damn Treo camera!) Just seconds before this, one of them hit the other with a trash can. Fun, fun.

This corner is particularly popular. The brick bar behind them subbed for The Life Cafe (which is actually two blocks up Avenue B) in Chris Columbus's execrable adaption of Rent.

And just last month, Chris Evans, Alicia Keyes and a black-haired Julianne Moore were shooting The Nany Diaries about 20 steps down the street from here. They were very cool. (How does Chris Evans eat so much chocolate cake and keep his girlish figure? I just don't know...)

On the other hand, I'm starting to get why a lot of my neighbors are so pissed about the sheer number of productions that shoot in this two block radius. Witness:

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Earth Hotter Than It's Been in 400 Years

says panel of top climatologists in report to Congress from the National Academy of Sciences.

Bush administration response? "Pffft."

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Earth is the hottest it has been in at least 400 years, probably even longer. ...

A panel of top climate scientists told lawmakers that the Earth is running a fever and that "human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming." Their 155-page report said average global surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere rose about 1 degree during the 20th century. ...

The Bush administration also has maintained that the threat is not severe enough to warrant new pollution controls ...

Overall, the panel agreed that the warming in the last few decades of the 20th century was unprecedented over the last 1,000 years, though relatively warm conditions persisted around the year 1000, followed by a "Little Ice Age" from about 1500 to 1850. ...

[T]here were sharp spikes in carbon dioxide and methane, the two major "greenhouse" gases blamed for trapping heat in the atmosphere, beginning in the 20th century, after remaining fairly level for 12,000 years.

EVill Comics, 6/21/06

With friends coming in for Pride, looks like I won't have much time to blog for the next few days... I will try to post pictures from the parade in a timely fashion.

In the meantime, a mini-verison of "EVill Comics." This was a massive, wicked awesome week, and I've only managed to get to a few so far.

I skimmed Flash #1... Bart Allen is now retconned into a typical 21 year old geek, focused on booze and broads, but unable to handle either. Eh... Underwhelmed. Isn't this just where Wally West was in the first issue of the last Flash series? (At least Bart didn't proceed to win the lotto.)

Seems like, with a lot of these relaunches, rather than hang the characters on new and exciting premises, DC is just looking to shove toothpaste back into the tube. They decided the whole Greek Mythology angle was played out for WW, so they've tweaked the Princess Diana into Diana Prince, Secret Agent.

Now, they've decided the Speed Force thing is played out (maybe they're right about that one), so they're trying to rein that in, as well. (It's not dead--It's getting better!)

(My quesiton is: what happened to *Barry Allen*?)

But these nips & tucks seem to me to be little more than gimmicks, like the whole "one year later" schtick. (I'm hoping I'm wrong about that, though.) The one revamp I think is working pretty well is Dave Gibbons' Green Lantern Corps. It's not remotely in the same league as Alan Moore's brilliant 80s GLC stuff (some of which was drawn by Gibbons), but it's heading in the right direction.

All-Star Superman #4--The very definition of retro-cool. Definitely one of the best current superhero titles. Last time, it was a Super-Lois story. This time, Superman's Pal Saves The Day (TM). So much fun. (I *do* hope Morrisson gets around to addressing the moral implications of all these genetically engineered slave-like people running around, though.)

Astonishing X-Men was, well, astonishing--as usual. So good on Joss & John, who have resurrected the look and feel of the classic Claremont mid-to-late 80s period and made it their own (aka, better). Of course, it all comes down to Kitty vs. Emma, as we knew it would from the very first issue. We heart Kitty.

Ultimates 2 #11--Also very much "of the good." Scratch that: very much "of the great." The invasion of America that began a couple of issues back (executed by the team's islamo-fascist Super-soldier counterparts, backed by Loki) had me scooping my jaw up off the floor. Ditto, the executions of Hawkeye's wife and children (& the manner of his subsequent escape). This issue, they killed off Laura Bush in an attack on Air Force One, and promised GWB "hours of torture" before his own execution-by-hanging. Meanwhile, the tide is turning with the (incredibly unexpected) return of The Hulk... and the impending arrival of Odin on the scene.

Never thought I'd be such an "Avengers" fan, but I'm diggin on both this title and (to a lesser extent, on) "New Avengers," as well.

Didn't get to do more than flip through the first few pages of Neil Gaiman's long-awaited return to comics, but the artwork for The Eternals looks fantastic. There's an appealing Jack Kirby vibe here. I was never much of a JRJR fan back in the day, but the more sophisticated computer coloring process really suits his style.

Haven't had a chance to get to the others yet, but Ex Machina, New Avengers, and some others remain on top of the pile on back of my toilet.

Regular posts resume Tuesday, 6/27. Happy Pride, peeps!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Dissenting Voice Heard From

Someone on a message board I frequent (hat tip: DWF)found a negative review... *egads!* Hey, kids! Let's go a-fisking! (No, Brian, that's not a typo.)
This a great movie for kids, real young kids. In fact, I'd go so far to say that, 11 year old kids will think this is possibly the best movie ever. It's also great for anyone who really loved the first two Superman films and thought they were perfect renditions of the Man of Steel. Everyone else will hate it.
Well, then, we're safe, because--generally speaking--people *loved* those movies, (myself included). They're rightly considered classics.
I could understand it when Richard Donner screwed up, he's not a comic guy.
Blasphemy! Kill! Burn the heretic!

But what's his real beef, this so-called critic?
Nope, as long as it's a good story that's faithful to itself and presents a logical story and is somewhat faithful to the character upon which it was based, I'm happy. If all that sounds like Smallville, it should. That's a show that generally ... gets it right.
Ah-ha! A disgruntled Smallville fan. To wit:
Geez, how about a Superman with some beef on his bones? For that matter, Tom Welling is a superior Superboy to Routh's Superman. ...

Instead of playing evil Lex Luthor, Spacey gives us Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. ...Michael Rosenbaum as Luthor in Smallville is brilliant
Hm. Michael Rosenbaum or Kevin Spacey... Gee, I just don't know...

The movie opens with the explanation that at the end of Superman II Superman learned that astronomers located a chunk of a planet they believed to be Krypton.

"But how would they possibly be able to see that far into space and how would they know what it was," you might ask.
Um, first of all, it's a science fiction movie. Second: the discovery of extrasolar planets is one of the most exciting things going on in astronomy today, so the idea is hardly out of left field.
Bottom line, if you love the first two Superman movies and like the idea of a tribute to those movies with new actors, go see Superman Returns, you'll love it. Otherwise, Superman fans beware - put a DVD of the animated series in and wait for the fuss to pass.
See what he did there? If you loved the first two Sperman movies, you're not a (real) "Superman fan." Clever boy. Now, if he could just get rid of those blackheads, move out of his parents' basement, and get over his irrational fear of rectangles, he might find some local Gwyneth to pop that cherry, after all! He's so close!

The flaw in his logic is that he assumes there are many, many more Smallville and comic book fans than there are people who liked the first two movies--And he assumes that Smallville and comic book fans hate the Donner films as much as he does. Neither is remotely true, IMO, and--more to the point--the typical viewer just doesn't care about (or isn't even awre of) stuff like that. They just want to see a cool movie.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Gospel of Superman Returns

Time's Richard Corliss weighs in.

Some choice bits with the spoilers taken out. (The article gives away a HUGE plot point that the quoted material below only hints at. Be forewarned, gentle readers.)

Beneath the artifacts of camp and cape, they located a rich lode of myth. Just as important, they resolved to take it seriously. The result is an action adventure that's as thrilling for what it means as for what it shows. ...

Earlier versions of Superman stressed the hero's humanity: his attachment to his Earth parents, his country-boy clumsiness around Lois. The Singer version emphasizes his divinity. He is not a super man; he is a god (named Kal-El), sent by his heavenly father (Jor-El) to protect Earth. That is a mission that takes more than muscles; it requires sacrifice, perhaps of his own life. So he is no simple comic-book hunk. He is Earth's savior: Jesus Christ Superman. ...

Using snippets of Marlon Brando's performance as Jor-El from the 1978 Super-man movie, in which Brando passes on the wisdom "The son becomes the father, and the father becomes the son," Singer establishes his own film's central relationship. It is not romantic, between Lois and Clark. It's familial--the bond of two sets of fathers and sons ...

The movie cogently ransacks elements from all kinds of myths, classic and modern. Superman is the god who fell to Earth, enduring a cycle of death and transfiguration. ...

"O.K., O.K.," we hear you saying. "The thing is profound. But is it a good movie?" You bet. Made with precision and vigor, the film never forgets to entertain, packing its 2-hr. 33-min. length with cool visions (like Krypton's crystal cathedral) and spectacular set pieces.
Want some pure exhilaration? Check out Superman's midair wrangling of an Air Force jet, maneuvering it back to terra firma to make a gentle belly flop onto a baseball field during a game. And for an intimate intensity not often found in action films, stick around for the creepy encounter involving Superman, Luthor and a stiletto of kryptonite.

The best Hollywood movies always knew how to sneak a beguiling subtext into a crowd-pleasing story. Superman Returns is in that grand tradition. That's why it's beyond Super. It's superb.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Opus, 6/18/06

Steve Dallas!!! I'm *plotzing*!! And... Could it be... Binkley with dark hair? Please, let it be Binkley.

Super Review

Let the love letters begin. . .
"Why the World Doesn't Need Superman" reads the title of a piece that wins Lois Lane the Pulitzer Prize in "Superman Returns," the latest bigscreen revival of comicdom's strongest and fastest hero. Not only is she wrong in the context of the story (not to mention real life), but she'll be wrong in the court of public opinion once the world gets a look at this most grandly conceived and sensitively drawn Superman saga. Sure to rate with aficionados alongside "Spider-Man 2" and, for many, "Batman Begins" on the short list of best superhero spectaculars, pic more than justifies director Bryan SingerBryan Singer's decision to jump ship from the "X-Men""X-Men" franchise, and will pull down stratospheric B.O.B.O. around the globe.
What is it about the current climate that has produced three major releases within a month's time that hinge on the hitherto unsuspected offspring of legendarily childless figures -- Jesus in "The Da Vinci Code," Satan in "The Omen" and the title character here? It's an odd development, although it does provide a promising springboard for future series entries, something not enjoyed by the three increasingly dispiriting sequels to Richard DonnerRichard Donner's entertaining Christopher Reeve starrer.

New version tips its hat to the 1978 picture in numerous ways; it's dedicated to Reeve and wife Dana; it recycles John Williams' main musical theme; Marlon Brando once again appears, albeit mostly vocally, as Superman's father; and newcomer Brandon Routh bears a conspicuous resemblance to Reeve.

Nonetheless, Singer imprints his handiwork with its own personality. Despite its acute awareness of what's come before, "Superman Returns" is never self-consciously hip, ironic, post-modern or camp. To the contrary, it's quite sincere, with an artistic elegance and a genuine emotional investment in the material that creates renewed engagement in these long-familiar characters and a well-earned payoff after 2½ hours spent with them.

After an opening credits sequence devoted to an explosive illustration of the tremendous energy forces in deepest outer space, screenplay by Michael DoughertyMichael Dougherty and Dan Harris ("X2: X-Men United""X2: X-Men United") returns Superman, briefly, to the farm where he was raised (memory flashbacks neatly recall his learning to fly) after a five-year absence. Soon turning up in Clark Kent guise at the Daily Planet to reclaim his old job, he's nonplussed when he learns his beloved Lois Lane (Kate BosworthKate Bosworth) has a son, Jason (Tristan Lake Leabu) and a good-looking significant other, Richard White (James MarsdenJames Marsden), the editor's nephew, and has made her name as banner-carrier for the anti-Superman lobby.

But the Man of Steel nonetheless proves he's worth having around. Old nemesis Lex Luthor (a shaven-headed Kevin SpaceyKevin Spacey) is up to no good again, harnessing power from a perfect crystal and announcing his return by causing power outages and creating mayhem on an intended airborne space shuttle launch (yes, that's Richard Branson on the shuttle crew) that sends the plane carrying the shuttle and reporters, including Lois, out of control. Arriving a half-hour in, sequence is a doozy, as the burning jet eventually plummets straight for the ground (unavoidable shades of "United 93") until being gently stopped at the last second by the Caped One.

As far as the public is concerned, Superman has made a triumphant return. But Lois remains unimpressed, to the point that a rebuffed Superman takes a lonely flight to Lois' waterfront home (with its gorgeous view of Metropolis) in order to use his X-ray abilities to eavesdrop on her seemingly enviable family life.

Sequence, and all that comes after, renders rubbish all the uninformed pre-release media stories about a gay Superman, as what Singer and his writers are offering here is an elaboration on the theme of Superman (or most any superhero) as an outsider. Brando's Jor-El is heard to tell his son (in dialogue from the Donner version) that he'll always be "different," an "outcast" who can pass as a human being but will never truly be one.

For quite some time, Lois maintains her resistance to Superman, while he can't help but do what he does best -- save the day for those in dire jeopardy (in a truly internationalist, although markedly nonpolitical, spirit, as TV news reports testify). Pushed by editor Perry White (Frank Langella) to get an interview with her old flame, Lois finally meets him on the roof of the Daily Planet's splendidly retroretro office building, whereupon Superman takes her on a nocturnal flight that beats Howard Hughes' airborne date with Katharine Hepburn in "The Aviator" any day.

By this point, it is clear Singer's take on the impossible love between the two has nothing to do with the old joke that Lois doesn't see the resemblance between Superman and Clark Kent (something picked up on quickly by her son) or the problems of finding a place to change into tights and cape, but perhaps quite a bit to do with themes of loss and the tragedy of fate as classically expressed in opera or ballet. There are dramatic passages where, in another context, one could easily imagine any of the three leading characters breaking out into arias of regret, confession, desire or intent, just as Superman's incredibly graceful and often slow vertical ascents and landings, as well as his moments of reflective isolation, create the frissons of expressive dance movements.

Topping off these aspects is the evocative, darkly lyrical score by John Ottman, continuing in his unique dual role for Singer as composer and editor (with Elliot Graham). The sometimes ethereal qualities of Ottman's work, amplified by significant choral strains, provide an emotional dimension -- and show up Williams' "Star Wars" thematic variation for the bombast it is.

Luthor's dastardly plans involve kidnapping Lois and her son aboard his sleek boat, giving Spacey a big scene in which he can really rock and roll with some very choice line readings. The villain really does seem to have Superman on the ropes at one point, but after a somewhat distended final stretch, the real climax comes in a touching scene between Superman and little Jason, who may or may not be super himself.

Regular Singer cinematographer Newton Thomas SigelNewton Thomas Sigel has contributed significantly to giving the film a fantastically clear, clean and stable look; "Superman Returns" is an unalloyed pleasure simply to behold. Production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas and costume designer Louise Mingenbach have anchored their work in the '50s -- an old-fashioned newsroom with modern accoutrements, coats and ties for the men, sharp professional wear for Lois and other women -- but without any cloying self-consciousness. Visual effects are super throughout.

One can praise newcomer Routh very highly indeed simply by saying that he carries this giant film with apparent effortlessness. Thesp possesses a winning, appealing personality that nicely complements his rangy, black-haired, blue-eyed good looks. Parker PoseyParker Posey has a bit of a field day playing Lex Luthor's sassy floozy.

The only semi-disappointment in the cast is Bosworth. First off, she seems too young to have been working for the newspaper for more than five years and to plausibly have had her kid for the same length of time. More significantly, she comes off as flinty and cold for too long, denying Lois a beating heart beneath the brusquely professional m.o. You never get a strong sense of the woman inside the newshound with an unrivaled inside connection to the most famous man in the world.

Friday, June 16, 2006

"It is happening... again."

Hat tip: Oh No They Didn't

Paramount IS indeed hard at work on the DVD release of Twin Peaks: Season Two for release later in 2006 ... Yes, David Lynch himself is involved and yes, there's going to be some very cool, all-new special features.

Apparently, the set is scheduled for release in Austrailia in November. There is, as yet, no R1 release date. This is about the time when those of us with region free DVD players go, "Nyah nyah..."

"You mean all of them?"

When is the mainstream newsmedia gonna start giving these guys the props they deserve?

This is from last night's Colbert Report (which introduced the word "Hispanicane" to the lexicon--That one's a keeper). The subject of the interview is Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), cosponsor of "The Ten Commandments Defense Act." (*groan*) (What IS it with the GOP defending all these things that aren't under attack, anyway? Oh, right: The Southern Strategy... Pander to bigots, keep the House.)


Crooks & Liars has the video.

Colbert: What can we do to balance the budget?

Westmoreland: Get rid of The Dept. of Education.

Colbert: What are the Ten Commandments?

Westmoreland: You mean all of them?--Um... Don't murder. Don't lie. Don't steal Um... I can't name them all.

Which reminds me of that bit from AbFab: The Last Shout, where Bo--who has reinvented herself as New Age Christian evangelist--remarks:
"...for the life of me, I could not remember the names of the four disciples, but I could remember every one of the Osmonds... Alan, Donny, Jay, Jimmy, Merill, Wayne, and sometimes Marie. She's like the "Y" in the vowel sequence: sometimes Marie."

Anyhoo, why do I think this will fly under the Bible Thumper radar?

Meanwhile, last week, Stewart made fucking mince meat out of Bill Bennett over gay marriage. Video at YouTube.

Bennett: Well I think if people are already members of families...

Stewart: What? (almost spitting out his drink)

Bennett: They're sons and they're daughters..

Stewart: So that's where the buck stops, that's the gay ceiling.

Bennett Look, it's a debate about whether you think marriage is between a man and a women.

Stewart:I disagree, I think it's a debate about whether you think gay people are part of the human condition or just a random fetish.
*Sigh*. Good times. Warmed my cockles.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Lucky, Lucky, Lucky

Last night, went to see the NYC Gay Men's Chorus at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, which probably qualifies as the gayest thing I've ever done (and, friends, I have done some pretty darn gay things).

I didn't care for the first act. Pop songs with orchestral and choral smoke blown up their asses... including "Do Ron Ron," which must've been inspired by Jersey Boys... Let's just say I wasn't feelin' it.

In fact, it kept reminding me of one of my favorite French & Saunders sketches, where a bunch of divas (divae?) convene to perform a similarly pretentious arrangement of Kylie's "I Should Be So Lucky" (aka, "Lucky Lucky Lucky"). Only (my beloved) Dawn & Jen actually get the joke.

The NYC Gay Men's Chorus... eh, not so much. Big surprise there.

On the other hand, Act 2--"Metamorphosis" (not the Kafka) in 10 movements--was magnificent. Now, that shit is what you go to Lincoln Center to see... or, cosidering how far we were from the stage, to hear.

I've never been to the opera (almost hard to believe, isn't it?) But I plan to remedy that situation first thing next fall, when my buddy, Matty, aka The Opera Prince, gets back from his internship at the Santa Fe Opera.

EVill Comics, 6/14: Spider-Man Outs Self

Balls of Steel. That's what I'm gonna call Joe Quesada from now on. Balls of Steel.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I love my iPOD as much as anyone

and I do have some accessories, but this is ridiculous.

BTW, it's not "bath tissue." We don't use it in the bath. It's TOILET PAPER. We use it to wipe our asses. God...

Hat tip: Towleroad

BTW, check out Andy's bit about the gay Star Trek fan series.

Sadly, the franchise never grew the balls necessary to do this themselves, though the best of the modern Treks (Deep Space Nine) did feature this ambiguously gay duo:

The one on the right (Andrew Robinson) is probably my favorite Star Trek character of all time... "Plain, simple Garak" (who, of course, was neither). The one on the left (Alexander Siddig) was critically-acclaimed for his performance as the reform-minded Arab prince in last year's brilliant thriller, Syriana.

"Thank You, Spider-Man!"

The meat of Spiderman 3's location work cheats Cleveland for NYC (*groan*), but the production has been in NYC for the last couple or three weeks getting the money shots.

Kirsten Dunst blew MO an air-kiss earlier this week. I didn't get that lucky, but, after passing this set-up in front of the Manhattan Supreme Court Building on Monday & Tuesday, I finally read the sign today, and snapped this with my Treo from a moving cab. (Will try to get some better shots this afternoon, assuming they haven't packed up by then.)

This must be from the film's denoument.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Lucas/Kurosawa Apocrypha

Mad genius Warren Ellis has the scoop.

Kurosawa is ushered into Lucas’ office, placed in a seat opposite him, they sit, and… silence.

And the silence stretches for a minute.

Do the link for the punchline. Good stuff. Probably too good to be true--but I want to believe.

Ann Coulter: Cunt--Plagirist

We all know she's a hypocrite and a cunt--not to mention the way her upper lip curls like a rabid yip dog about to "sic balls." And that hair...also very much of the doglike persuasion. Coincidence?

OK, that's just an insulting comparison--My apologies to Afghan enthusiasts everywhere.

Last week, in a transparent effort to create some free media for her new hate screed, the bitch told Matt Lauer, re: the 9/11 widows:
"These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband's death so much."
Whereas I have never seen someone so narcissistic (and downright EVIL) that they would not only begrudge these women the right to speak--purchased with the blood of their husbands 9/11--but also accuse them of being happy their partners are dead. This from a woman who eats her men. And not in the fun, wholesome way, either. I guess Ann gets cranky when the spotlight isn't in its proper place--which is to say, on HER.

Anyway, today comes word of some free media even Coulter probably turns her freakish nose up at: not only is she a hack who couldn't string two clauses together if her life depended on it. Now, it seems, she can't even be bothered compose her 4th Grade Reading Level diatribes herself! Rude Pundit has the story:
Here's Coulter from Chapter 1 of Godless: The massive Dickey-Lincoln Dam, a $227 million hydroelectric project proposed on upper St. John River in Maine, was halted by the discovery of the Furbish lousewort, a plant previously believed to be extinct.

Here's the Portland Press Herald, from the year 2000, in its list of the "Maine Stories of the Century": The massive Dickey-Lincoln Dam, a $227 million hydroelectric project proposed on upper St. John River, is halted by the discovery of the Furbish lousewort, a plant believed to be extinct.
There's more--Do the link. I hope the Portland Press Herald, The History Channel, and whomever else she's cut & pasted from sues. Let's litigate this bitch out of existence, please.

Corrosive To Society

A Fourth Man has been arrested in the beating of Kevin Aviance, the drag queen who was gaybashed about 10 blocks from here on Saturday night. This one is 18. 2 are 20. One is fucking 16 years old.

So... it's just coincidence that this capped a week in which the President of the United States referred to gay people as "corosive to society?"

I guess.

I am never, ever concerned for my safety in this neighborhood, though one nearby restaurant won't deliver to my block... Their delivery boys kept getting mugged. So maybe I'm just an idiot.

This also caught my eye:
During the attack, the singer said, no bystanders came to his aid.
Fucking sheep.

I would like to think that, in that kind of situation, I would have the balls to intervene. But I'd probably just go, "baaa!"

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Opus, 6/11/06

Click to make it legible. Ah, Opus--Our favorite flightless waterfowl with abandonment issues. How we've missed you.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

EVill Comics, 6/7/06

Slow week...

Wonder Woman # 1... Terry Dodson's artwork is very good... The script doesn't suck, though it's nothin special, either... But, really, how can good art and a decent script overcome a premise that is pure shite? The only thing that made Wonder Woman interesting was her reinvention as a warrior of Greek mythology (by my beloved George Perez in 1987), and DC has now decided to divorce her from that premise.

Themyscria--gone. The gods--gone. The heavies (Ares, Circe, Medusa, the Hydra, et al)--gone. And her traditional, boring-as-hell Rogues Gallery, e.g., Cheetah, Doctor Psycho--restored. *Yawn*

And now she's a fucking secret agent--right out of that godawful TV series (which was ape-ing the popularity of Charlie's Angels)?? And that outfit! It's like the tracksuit Cathy Lee Crosby wore in the execrable 1974 WW TV movie.)

The one thing I can recommend, story-wise, is the decision to have Donna Troy take up the mantle of WW. This is pure DC goodness: the Titans become their mentors. Wonder Girl should become Wonder Woman if the real deal ever cashes in her chips.

I suppose my problem is that I never bought the reasoning behind the cashing in her chips part; this (fictional) "public outrage" over Diana snapping Max Lord's neck, and her subsequent "crisis of conscience." (Nor did I ever buy Max's turn to the dark side--but that's another rant.)

She did what she did to save Superman's life--and the lives of countless others.

She's a fucking warrior! She carries a sword! What did (4-color) people think it was for? Shishkebob?

And then we get to the *really* ridiculous part: she decides she never wants to kill again, that she is going to hold herself to a higher moral standard, and what does she do? That's right: she goes to work for Uncle Sam. BWAHAHAHAHA!! (I know: that's so 1990, but whatever.)

Unfortunately, there will be an issue #2, but there's no way in hell I'll be reading it. (OK, that's a lie.)

Anyway, let's do one I like...

Y: The Last Man #46... Y'all are reading this book, right?

Brian K. Vaughan is certainly one of the finest writers currently working in comics. And I expect he won't be working in comics forever. At least, not primarily. There are movies and TV series in his future. Or, at least, there should be. In particular, there should be a TV series of *this* title, which takes its inspiration from shows like The Fugitive and The X-Files.

Of his three ongoings, Y is probably the one I'm most invested in. (Though Ex Machina--which is like Watchmen meets The West Wing--is no slouch, either.) The storylines are gripping, the characters are rich and snarky.

If there is better dialogue in comics today, I'm not aware of it (see below).

In this issue, the long journey to reunite with Ampersand, our hero Yorrick's faithful capuchin (who may well hold the key to the mysterious viral apocalypse that wiped out all but two males on the planet), comes to its close, as does the adventure in Japan.

Looks like next stop on this round-the-world dealio is Hong Kong, where we've been promised a major mythology pay-off.

Then... on to Paris for the log-awaited reunion with Yorrick's fiance Beth? Who should not be confused with the Beth he's snogging below (he's unable to resist a fellow grammar geek--I know the feeling). That's Beth 2, who, after being knocked up on the following page, recently gave birth to Beth 3.

So, basically, our hero is surrounded by Beths. And I love it. (If his partner--known only as Agent 355--also turns out to be a Beth, I will be very, very pleased.)

Superman Returns Prologue #1... Unlike others, I enjoyed this. Yes, it's just an adaption of the Donner film's teaser--but so what?

The Donner film's teaser *ROCKED*. The one flaw here is that the comic doesn't include the screenplay's first line, which is arguably the greatest first line of a screenplay ever, right up there with The Godfather's, "I believe in America," and Goodfellas', "As long as I can remenber, I've always wanted to be a gangster" (over Tony Bennet crooning "Rags to Riches").

JOR EL'S VOICE OVER: This is no fantasy!

Almost 30 years later (uh-hem... excuse me... I, uh... I need to take a moment on that one...)

Where were we? Right. Almost 30 years later... No. Sorry. I can't. How the hell did that happen?! One minute I was wearing out my Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan videotape (which cost EIGHTY bucks), and grooving to Cyndi Lauper, and the next I was bald and pot-bellied (yet... oddly... still grooving to Cyndi Lauper).

Time just sucks. (As does my taste in music, obviously.)


JOR EL'S VOICE OVER: This is no fantasy!

Almost 30 years later, and it still sends shivers down my spine. THAT's screenwriting.

Plus, a lot of youngins aren't as familiar with it as those of us who worshipped the film growing up

And, even if they do remember Superman The Movie, most people--even comic book fans--aren't yet aware that Superman Returns is not a remake, but a recast sequel that fully acknowledges the 1978 classic.

So there's definitely a need for a bit of a refresher course.

Anyway, the mini moves into uncharted territory next issue, which covers baby Kal-El's first years with the Kents.

On the other hand, I'm totally done with the regular, in-continuity Superman titles. Blech. Who cares? (Sorry, Mikey.) There was some interest with his "performance anxiety issues," which kept him out of commission for the year we skipped post "Infinite Crisis."

But they dispensed with that right off the bat, and now it's back to business as usual.

I'll stick to Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's brilliant All-Star Superman, thanks very much. *That* is some good stuff. Great, even. Exactly the way the Superman should be: iconic, fun, science ficiton-y. In short (too late), superheroic fables.

I haven't enjoyed the character this much since the classic Alan Moore stories of the 80s ("Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?," "For the Man Who Has Everything")--which, of course, are The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told.

So--good for Morrison & Quitely. I don't make comparisons to Lord Moore (peace be upon Him) easily, or often.

Historically, I was always a DC person, but in the last few years, it's been impossible not to notice that Marvel has a helluva lot more on the ball. Their universes (Ultimate and regular) are more sophisticated. Their style is more cinematic.

And, of course, they have Mark Millar, Brian Michael Bendis, Warren Ellis, Neil Gaiman, and Joss-fucking-Whedon. Or should that read Joss Whedon and Neil-fucking-Gaiman? (Either way, either way.)

I think the DCU lost something when they divorced stuff like Hellblazer and Sandman from continuity. (Sandman had a sort of one-way relationship with the DCU: it took what it wanted, like Destiny and the post-Crisis Fury, but what it took vanished from the DCU.)

I did like Infinite Crisis for the most part, but it couldn't hold a candle to House of M--from which the ambitious Civil War storyline has been spun-off.

There are no good guys or bad guys in Civil War #1. Just some surprisingly multi-faceted characters who disagree over the role of superheroes in society--and are about to spill blood over it. But they're all patriots.

Civil War's hook is character-oriented, not action-dependent. It's not who will fight whom (though there IS that, of course), it's who will side with whom, and for what reason.

You gotta give Marvel props for respecting the intelligence of its audience enough to pin their big summer tentpole--if they use that term in comics--on a such an intellectual, and political, concept. And they're presumably about to have allies like Captian America and Iron Man crossing lines with each other that aren't easily uncrossed. (Will the Fantastic Four split over this? That would be cool.) So--good for them, too!

Friday, June 09, 2006


Meet The Press in Hell (Hat tip: Christopher.)

This is the part where you go there. You won't be sorry. Why doesn't SNL do shit like this anymore?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bible Verses The Thumpers Try To Ignore

Got this from my friend Okasha, who is a linguist, after yesterday's altercation with Arlen in the gay marriage thread.

He and his should actually read the Bible sometime, rather than letting their tax evading, bigoted, minor prostitute abusing pastors do it for them.

They'd be surprised what's in there.

Let 'er rip, Okasha:

Matthew 19:4-6 deal with the rationale for forbidding divorce except in cases of adultery. It does not define marriage as an institution. When Paul gives the characteristics required in a bishop, in 1 Timothy 3:2, he says the bishop should be the husband of only one wife--plural marriage was accepted if not promoted in the first years of the Christian community.

Matthew 8:5-13. Translators have tiptoed around this one for centuries. In this passage, Jesus is approached by the Roman centurion who begs him to heal--not his "servant" but his "beloved youth."

The first time I ever saw the passage in the Greek, I read it over and over and over, till I was sure I wasn't seeing things.

I wasn't.

The word used for "youth" here is "paide," which can mean "servant" in some contexts, but the adjective is "intimos."

And yes, that's the root word of our "intimate."

In Greek, though, its root meaning is "honor," and "public honor," at that.

It's not a word a Roman officer would use for an inferior who fills his bathtub and polishes his boots. There's a sense that this young man is someone with whom the Centurion's honor is bound up.
And in context, that can only be his lover.

What does Jesus do?

Does he go postal about their relationship? Hardly.

He says, " Verily I say to you, I have not seen such faith, no not in Israel." He's a Gentile, he's gay, he's a member of an occupying army--and Jesus has nothing but praise for him.

How can anyone who isn't retarded claim to be a Biblical Literalist? I just don't know.

More Good News

The Shield has just been renewed for a seventh, and final, season. I'm not generally a fan of the procedurals, particularly cop shows, but The Shield has been consistently excellent. (Wish I could say the same of creator Shawn Ryan's CBS series, The Unit, which--at least, in the one episode I've seen--is a misogynistic piece of garbage... but that's not his fault: it's a collaboration with David Mamet, after all.)

The Shield' Stays on FX's Force
Network orders final season of series for '07-'08
June 5 2006

LOS ANGELES -- FX has decided to keep Vic Mackey on the beat a little while longer.

The network has ordered a seventh and final season of "The Shield" for late 2007 or early 2008. The pickup extends the life of the show for 13 more episodes; prior to Monday's announcement, it was thought the series, FX's first original drama, would end early next year.

"It has been the privilege of everyone at FX to work with [creator] Shawn Ryan, [star] Michael Chiklis and their colleagues on 'The Shield,'" says John Landgraf, president of FX. "It has always been our intent to have the show exit television as it entered, as one of the best drama series ever. We're thrilled Shawn has come up with a great way to end the series and that it will require one final season for his vision to reach completion."

When "The Shield" began its fifth season in January, it was widely assumed that it was entering its final season. In fact, the 10 episodes FX is now referring to as "season six" were originally conceived as a continuation of season five, following the "Sopranos" model of scheduling.

However, Ryan says, "The writers and I weren't quite ready to step away from these characters just yet. We asked FX for an additional 13 episodes to conclude the show properly and, as always, the network graciously let us do what we thought was best for the show."

Emmy winner Chiklis, who plays the amoral Detective Mackey, and the rest of the regular cast will return for both seasons. Forest Whitaker, who played a dogged Internal Affairs cop in season five, will reprise his role a few times next season.

Season six of "The Shield" will air early next year, and production on the final episodes will begin in mid-2007.