Monday, July 30, 2012

Spidey's Origin AGAIN!?

I haven't bothered to see the new Amazing Spider-Man film because, honestly, I can't sit through another version of Spidey's origin story.

I've read it numerous times in the comics, seen it on the 60's cartoon show, the 70's TV version, the first Tobey Maguire movie and I just can't do it anymore.

Why do super-hero movies feel they have to constantly re-tell the story and start all over again? The James Bond series has had plenty of 're-boots', but they just drop us in on the world of Bond. We don't have to be 'introduced' to him. I haven't crunched the numbers, but it seems like about half of the super-hero movies made in the last 20 years are origin stories. And I see the new Man of Steel is yet another origin tale of Superman.

The old Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes and Universal Monsters didn't constantly have to remind us of the character's beginnings. If they did, I don't think I would want to watch them over and over again (which I do).

I think it is just plain laziness on the filmmakers part. They are just rewriting something with a new twist instead of coming up with an interesting story. I would prefer to see a movie that assumes we already know Spidey and Peter Parker and Mary Jane and J. Jonah Jameson and get on with a new adventure.

'Superman - Ride of Steel'

I see the 'Superman Ride' at Six Flags had some problems the other day. It happened in Vallejo, CA, which is in the Bay Area, my stomping grounds.

A bunch of folks were stranded on the thing for a few hours. But what struck me about the incident was the photo. It's kinda hard to tell, but many of the people appear to be grown-ups. Aren't roller coasters for kids and teens?

It reminds me of a joke I heard ages ago: 'When my father was my age, he'd built a house, fought in a war, supported a wife and two kids, and started his own business. My greatest accomplishment? I have all five Planet of the Apes movies on DVD.'

Thursday, July 26, 2012

'Gangster Squad' Trailer DIDN'T PLAY at Aurora Screening

I knew it sounded fishy. In my previous blog I mentioned that I'd heard/read that the infamous 'theater shoot out' scene from Gangster Squad was actually shown the night 'The Joker' went wild.

But, as I had speculated, it was hard to believe because none of the survivors were talking about it. I was right. As usual.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It Was Like Something in a Movie

I blogged a while back about how much I hate that phrase. You hear it all the time when people are describing something horrific or violent. Which is why I hate it, I think.

You never hear someone say, 'The child hugged the little puppy. It was like something in a movie'. It's always something awful or at least shocking.

And it's often used to describe something I've never seen in a movie. For instance, I once saw a news clip of a truck with about ten feet of snow on top of it hit an overpass causing the snow to explode (no one was hurt, BTW). The newscaster said 'it's like something in a movie'. Not sure what movie she was referring to, not to mention why the clip was newsworthy considering all of the things going on in the world.

In all of the coverage of the shooting at the Dark Knight movie (and I watched a lot of coverage), I only heard the phrase once. I suppose it's because it was at a movie so it's kind of confusing to say that something that happened during a movie was 'like something in a movie'.

But the irony is that it is exactly like something in a movie. It hasn't been released yet, but it's called Gangster Squad and stars Sean Penn. There's a scene in the film where gangsters fire machine guns into a crowded movie theater. A trailer of the movie features the very scene, and here's the truly weird part:

I heard that the trailer was actually shown in the Aurora theater shortly before 'The Joker' started shooting up the place. The fact that none of the survivors mentioned it in all of the interviews I saw makes me wonder if it is true or not. Think about it. The survivors don't fall back on the 'it was like something in a movie' cliche after watching a scene exactly like something that happened to them a half an hour later. I did read that the trailer was indeed shown at other showings and was part of the clip package for Dark Knight, so I have to assume it was indeed shown that night in Aurora. Obviously, the scene has been removed from the trailer. I'm not sure if it is also gone from the movie, but I assume so.

Maybe this is the end of 'It was like something in a movie' cliche? I hope so. At least you can't say it when describing a mass shooting anymore. If anyone does, it will make people wonder, 'Does he mean like the shooting in the Aurora movie theater or a scene in a movie...?'

And while we're at it, let's drop 'They drank the Kool-Aid' and using 'kumbaye' as sarcasm.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Why The ComicCon is Uncool

I went to the San Diego ComicCon back in the 1970's. When I was a teenager. Comics and science fiction, back then, were for people below the age of 21 or so. Anyone older was considered eccentric.

Adults didn't read comics or go to horror movies. They hated it and thought it rotted our brains. That's what made it cool.

Now that everybody has embraced that kind of entertainment, it is no longer cool. It's just mainstream.

It's like having a tattoo. It used to be radical. It's meaningless now.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

It's Ringo's Birthday!

He turns 72 today. I'm thinking about his great drumming, especially on Sgt. Pepper, The White Album and Abbey Road.

And about how he was truly the 'star' of all of their movies (even 'Magical Mystery Tour').

He made a few nice solo records, too. I'm listening to his country album, Beaucoups of Blues right now. It's a cool and somewhat undiscovered gem. The CD version has a fun extra track, 'Coochy-Coochy'.

Peace and Love!

Friday, July 06, 2012

Ina Balin: Mainy

A major mainy of mine has always been Ina Balin. She co-starred with two of my favorite baby-boomer stars, Elvis, in Charro and Jerry Lewis in The Patsy.

An exotic 'Sophia Loren-type', she was actually from Brooklyn, New York and her real last name was Rosenberg.

Ms. Balin also did a bunch of TV shows like 'Bonanza', 'Ironside' and 'Magnum P.I.'.

Besides her obvious physical appeal, Ina had a sweet charm to her. And I think it was the real deal. She was one of the good ones. She toured Vietnam with the USO, and helped with the evacuation of 1975. She also adopted three Vietnamese orphans.

She died young, at age 52 of heart disease. But she lives on in all of those reruns and movies. Check out The Patsy. It's actually a really funny, weird movie. Charro is also weird, but in a boring kind of way.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Paper Moon

I've always been a fan of this movie. I watched it again recently on DVD, with commentary by director Peter Bogdanovich, and now I think I like it even more.

Paper Moon is one of those perfect little movies. Tatum O'Neal won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, even though she's technically the star of the film and should've been nominated for Best Actress instead. She's in all but one scene. Ryan O'Neal and Madelene Kahn as 'Trixie Delight" are also fantastic and I can't think of better performance by Ryan except for maybe Barry Lyndon.

It's too bad Bogdanovich didn't have more great films in him. He made a trio of classics in the early 70's. The Last Picture Show, What's Up Doc and this one. But he got sidetracked in his attempt at making his girlfriend Cybil Shepard a star and never made another winner. I did like The Cat's Meow (2001) but that's probably because I'm a big fan of Kirsten Dunst, and Meow is one of her best.

Check out Paper Moon again. In this age when studios only concern seems to be comic books, vampires, the post-apocalypse and big loud comedies, Moon will take you back to the days of the late 60's and 70's when a bunch of young directors took over Hollywood and made a slew of wonderful pictures.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Harry Potter Novels are 'Children's Books'

Not that there's anything wrong with that. But they should not to be confused with 'Moby Dick' or 'Catcher in the Rye' or novels by Hemmingway or Jonathan Franzen. And yet, some people do and feel that just because they are well written and entertaining and clever that they are real books.

But as I said, there is nothing wrong with 'children's books'. Comic books, like the old 'Fantastic Four', are essentially for children. But they are still wonderful. And 'adventure' stories, like the James Bond books are also extremely well-written. Ian Fleming is one of my favorite authors.

But let's be clear, that the difference between serious literature and 'entertainment' is how it connects us to other human beings. Great novels make me feel more in touch with the human experience. 'Entertainment' novels distract us from the emotions that are often difficult and uncomfortable to deal with.

I just read a short novel 'A Sense of An Ending' by Julian Barnes. This little book made me feel and think and share feelings with the author that a thousand comics and James Bond stories never come close to.

There is plenty of room in the world for both. Many 'serious' readers I know find their 'escape' in movies and television and wouldn't even think of taking the time to read a 'Harry Potter' or 'James Bond' book. This may be a bit too extreme because there's a lot to be said for 'escapist' literature.

But don't tell me 'Harry Potter' is real literature. It's like saying The Beatles are as important as Mozart. They are not. The Beatles' story, the sociological phenomenon, now that is important. And their music is certainly a part of that story.