Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
"Of all the sombre ironies of history none throws a more sinister light on human nature than the fact that the new-style nationalist Jews, on the morrow of the most appalling of the many persecutions that their race had endured, should at once proceed to demonstrate, at the expense of Palestinian Arabs whose only offence against the Jews was that Palestine was their ancestral home, that the lesson learnt by Zionists from the sufferings which Nazis had inflicted on Jews was, not to forbear from committing the crime of which they themselves had been the victims, but to persecute, in their turn, a people weaker than they were."
I had two reactions upon reading this:
- I've had the same thought more than once. I doubt I'm alone.
- That is one long, wickedly rambling sentence.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE A TO Z VOL. 8 PREMIERE HC Written by JEFF CHRISTIANSEN, SEAN MCQUAID, MICHAEL HOSKIN, STUART VANDAL, RONALD BYRD, DAVID WILTFONG, MADISON CARTER, MIKE FICHERA, CHAD ANDERSON, CHRIS BIGGS, ERIC J. MOREELS, MARK O'ENGLISH, AL SJOERDSMA, JACOB ROUGEMONT, GABRIEL SHECHTER, ANTHONY FLAMINI, JEPH YORK, RICH GREEN, MARKUS ETTLINGER, ANDREW GOLETZ, ROB LONDON & MICHEL GARIEPY Penciled by VARIOUS Cover by TOM GRUMMETT Let's assume you know your mutants: Multiple Man, the MLF, Mystique, New Mutants, Nightcrawler, Northstar, Cassandra Nova, Omega Red, Onslaught, Phoenix -- no surprises for you there. Safe to assume you know Aunt May from Uncle Ben, but do you need a flow chart to tell Namor apart from Namora apart from Namorita? When it comes to heroes, how are you on the New Warriors, Night Raven, Night Thrasher, Nightmask, Nomad, Nova, Omega the Unknown, the Order, Paladin, Patriot, Penance, Phantom Rider or Pip the Troll? Villains, you say? How about Mysterio, Nebula, Nightmare, Nitro, Ord, Orka, Norman Osborn, the Owl or the Phalanx? Places like the Negative Zone and New Universe? Wrap it together with more than a hundred entries in all! Yes, you do need the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. You're welcome! 240 PGS./Rated T+ ...$24.99 ISBN: 978-0-7851-3105-2
OFFICIAL INDEX TO THE MARVEL UNIVERSE #5 Written by VARIOUS Continuing the chronicle of the Marvel Universe, starting with Spider-Man (from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #215 on), Iron Man (from IRON MAN #134) and the X-Men (from X-MEN #219 on). Follow the history of the Marvel universe as it unfolds month by month with the All-New Official Index to the Marvel Universe. Each issue provides synopses for dozens of individual comics, including back-up strips, introducing you to the characters, teams, places and equipment that appeared within, providing vital information about first appearances, where they last showed up and where they appeared next! 64 PGS./Rated A ...$3.99
WAR OF KINGS: ROAD TO WAR OF KINGS TPBWritten by CHRISTOPHER YOST, DAN ABNETT & ANDY LANNING Penciled by DUSTIN WEAVER, PAUL PELLETIER & BONG DAZO Cover by BRANDON PETERSON The X-Men have been defeated. Havok , Polaris and the Starjammers are being held and tortured in the most secure prison in the universe. Marvel Girl, Korvus and Lilandra are being hunted by the Imperial Guard. Vulcan is Emperor of the Shi’Ar Empire and his expansion has begun. No King will stand when Vulcan and his armies are done. Do not miss the book that will change the shape of the Universe and pave the way for the War of Kings. Also, The Secret Invasion may be over, but the Inhumans are still reeling from the terrible wounds inflicted on them by the Skrulls. And this time, the Royal Family and their massively powered people have been pushed too far! You have never seen the Inhumans like this – and it’s only the beginning! Plus: How will the empire-expanding Vulcan react to these recent universe-shaking developments? Collecting X-MEN: KINGBREAKER #1-4, SECRET INVASION: WAR OF KINGS, WAR OF KINGS SAGA and “THE HOLE” from X-MEN: DIVIDED WE STAND #2. 176 PGS./Rated T+ ...$19.99 ISBN: 978-0-7851-3967-6
This is great news for those who thought War of Kings Saga cost too much at the price of free! Now you can have it for about $20! Wotta deal!
Another kind of list struck me - one that I can through in a single blog post. What books did I read in the course of 2008? It came to me when I considered how many people don't read any books cover-to-cover in a year.
- Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
- The Great Escape by Paul Brickhill
- Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon
- The Marvel Comics Guide to New York City by Peter Sanderson
- My Autobiography by Charles Chaplin
- The One That Got Away by Kendal Burt & James Leasor
- The Physics of Superheroes by James Kakalios
- Terror on the Air: Horror Radio in America by Richard J. Hand
- Your Movie Sucks by Roger Ebert
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- The Best Stories of Guy de Maupassant
- The Blanket of the Dark by John Buchan
- The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
- The Golden Scorpion by Sax Rohmer
- The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Grey Face by Sax Rohmer
- The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove
- The Half-Hearted by John Buchan
- Hard Times by Charles Dickens
- In a Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu
- The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
- The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham
- A Lodge in the Wilderness by John Buchan
- The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- Midwinter by John Buchan
- The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
- A Prince of the Captivity by John Buchan
- The Peace War by Vernor Vinge
- The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
- The Power House by John Buchan
- The Runagates Club by John Buchan
- Salute to Adventurers by John Buchan
- The Secret People by John Wyndham
- Sir Quixote of the Moors by John Buchan
- Sleepers of Mars by John Wyndham
- Storm Front by Jim Butcher
- Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
- The Supernatural Tales of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- Tales of H.P. Lovecraft
- Three Comrades by Erich Maria Remarque
- The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
- The Yellow Claw by Sax Rohmer
Non-Fiction Graphic Novels
- Action Philosophers! (3 vols) by Fred Van Lente & Ryan Dunlavey
- Maus (2 vols) by Art Spiegelman
- Reinventing Comics by Scott McCloud
Fiction Graphic Novels
- Adventure Classics by various
- The Al Williamson Reader
- Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
- Batman: Year One by Frank Miller & David Mazzucchelli
- Bookhunter by Jason Shiga
- Conan the Barbarian by Roy Thomas & Barry Windsor-Smith
- Dr. Mid-Nite by Matt Wagner & John K. Snyder III
- Dr. Thirteen: Architecture and Mortality by Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang
- Empowered by Adam Warren
- Fear Agent (3 vols) by Rick Remender & Tony Moore
- Firebirds by Jay Faerber & Andres Ponce
- Firebreather by Phil Hester & Andy Kuhn
- Invincible (9 vols) by Robert Kirkman & Ryan Ottley
- JLA Presents: Aztek the Ultimate Man by Grant Morrison & N. Steven Harris
- The Liberty Project by Kurt Busiek & James W. Fry III
- M by Jon J. Muth
- Midnight Sun by Ben Towle
- The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus by Fred Hembeck
- North World by Lars Brown
- Shockrockets by Kurt Busiek & Stuart Immonen
- Terry and the Pirates: the Normandie Affair by Milton Caniff
Monday, February 16, 2009
- 1999: Fight Club (video clip)
- 2000: Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (video clip)
- 2001: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video clip)
- 2002: About a Boy (video clip)
- 2003: X-Men 2: X-Men United (video clip)
- 2004: Shaun of the Dead (video clip)
- 2005: Serenity (video clip)
- 2006: Letters From Iwo Jima (video clip)
- 2007: Hot Fuzz (the trailer)
- 2008: The Dark Knight (video clip)
Sunday, February 15, 2009
- 1989: Glory
- 1990: Awakenings (video clip)
- 1991: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (the trailer)
- 1992: Chaplin (video clip)
- 1993: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (video clip)
- 1994: Leon - the Professional (video clip)
- 1995: Toy Story (the trailer)
- 1996: Star Trek: First Contact (video clip)
- 1997: Grosse Point Blank (video clip)
- 1998: Pi (video clip)
Tomorrow: the conclusion with 1999-2008!
Saturday, February 14, 2009
- 1979: Time After Time (the trailer)
- 1980: The Empire Strikes Back (video clip)
- 1981: Das Boot (the trailer)
- 1982: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (the trailer)
- 1983: A Christmas Story (video clip)
- 1984: Nausicaa (the trailer)
- 1985: Clue (video clip)
- 1986: Aliens (video clip)
- 1987: The Untouchables (video clip)
- 1988: Die Hard (the trailer)
Friday, February 13, 2009
- 1969: Valley of Gwangi (video clip)
- 1970: Colossus: The Forbin Project (video clip)
- 1971: Duel (video clip)
- 1972: Deliverance (video clip)
- 1973: Serpico (the trailer)
- 1974: Blazing Saddles (video clip)
- 1975: The Man Who Would Be King (video clip)
- 1976: Murder by Death (video clip)
- 1977: The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know it (video clip)
- 1978: The Deer Hunter (video clip)
I'm surprised as anyone that Valley of Gwangi is my favorite film of '69!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Today covers my favorite films from the years 1959 to 1968.
- 1959: North by Northwest (the trailer)
- 1960: Psycho
- 1961: 101 Dalmations (video clip)
- 1962: Cape Fear (the trailer)
- 1963: The Great Escape (video clip)
- 1964: Dr. Strangelove or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (video clip)
- 1965: The Sound of Music (video clip)
- 1966: What's Up Tiger Lily (video clip)
- 1967: Wait Until Dark (the trailer)
- 1968: Planet of the Apes (video clip)
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Today gives me an opportunity to speak about a book I recently finished, John Buchan: the Presbyterian Cavalier, a biography by Andrew Lownie. My parents gave it to me years ago, but it was only weeks ago that I finally read it.
It really is a fine biography, especially for someone who has read as much of Buchan as I have. Buchan's stories are all brought up in the course of the chronology along with some opinions from the author (I agree with him, A Prince of the Captivity isn't that great). Much is made of the various recurring characters who link the novels together, as well as the recurring themes - prominently, the hero who does good work but finds no reward. I was also surprised to learn that the novel Huntingtower was made into a film and that the film apparently did much to help Buchan's election as an MP.
But the real revelation of this biography was to discover what a great Governor General he was for Canada. Much as I like his writing, I knew I couldn't expect him to be much of a politician. And yet, he did so many great things! One interesting facet was his emphasis on national and international pride. He wanted Canada to be unified from coast-to-coast and made several trips to the west and the north to shed light on the areas oft-overlooked in the east. He also wanted Canada to be proud of its king & queen and helped organize their first-ever royal visit in 1939. He also wished Canada to have strong ties to the USA because he wanted the USA to ally itself with England and saw that Canada was the connection needed. He was friends to Franklin D. Roosevelt although after entering WWII he had to overcome the USA's "neutrality" by communicating to FDR through clandestine means.
Also, given some of the anti-Jewish rhetoric which appeared in some of his novels, it was heartening to discover that Buchan was not only pro-Jews, but a Zionist. When he became Governor General it was disheartening to the Jewish organizatoins he had supported as an MP because they were losing one of their best voices in parliament. And yet, God had his hand in that appointment; Buchan helped bring Jews over from Europe to Canada after Hitler came to power, simultaneously helping to populate parts of Canada and saving Jewish lives.
All in all, he seems to have been a fine man, the rare author who you come to admire more as you increase in your knowledge of him.
"We can pay our debts to the past by putting the future in debt to ourselves." - J.B.
- 1949: The Third Man
- 1950: Sunset Boulevard
- 1951: Scrooge
- 1952: Ikiru
- 1953: The War of the Worlds
- 1954: Rear Window
- 1955: The Ladykillers
- 1956: The Wrong Man
- 1957: 12 Angry Men
- 1958: Vertigo
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
- 1939: The Wizard of Oz
- 1940: The Great Dictator
- 1941: Citizen Kane
- 1942: Casablanca
- 1943: Shadow of a Doubt
- 1944: Arsenic and Old Lace
- 1945: Dead of Night
- 1946: It's a Wonderful Life
- 1947: Lady From Shanghai
- 1948: Rope
Monday, February 9, 2009
It did bother me that most of my favorite films hail from the 30s & 40s and that the 70s are almost completely left out; I don't want to seem as though I only care for particular eras of film, so over the next eight days I'm going to list ten films which I consider the best of the year in which they were released. We start today with 1929-1938:
- 1929: Blackmail
- 1930: Animal Crackers
- 1931: City Lights
- 1932: Scarface
- 1933: Duck Soup
- 1934: It Happened One Night
- 1935: The 39 Steps
- 1936: Modern Times
- 1937: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
- 1938: The Adventures of Robin Hood
This list should be invaluable to you, just in case you find yourself in 1933 and need to know what films I recommend at the cinemas of that era.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
Part of the issue I have with the use of "genre" is that it's mainly to market films or organize video stores. To wit:
Well, I didn't cover romance per se but plenty of the movies in my lists are romance films, notably the various Cary Grant comedies (Bringing up Baby, Philadelphia Story). But I'll also give a shout-out to Grosse Point Blank (1997) if only to confirm that I have watched films younger than Robert Byrd.
What exactly does "epic" mean? A three-hour running time, historical timeframe, widescreen photography, cast including a dozen famous names? If you want to call Ben-Hur (1959), Spartacus (1960), Gladiator (2000), Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) or even Saving Private Ryan (1998) an epic I won't argue with you, but it seems like more of a compliment than a style of film. I believe in a basic equality amongst films, so I rate the "epics" alongside the indies, the studio factory-produced and the b-pictures.
Which reminds me of a sub-set to the epics - the Biblical Epic. I do like a number of Bible-based films; Jesus of Nazareth (1977) remains my favorite adaptation of the life of Christ (although it's technically a mini-series and was thus omitted from my lists). I also liked the Passion of the Christ (2004) and I enjoy Ben-Hur (1959) and the Robe (1953), although they aren't actually drawn from scripture.
I don't like exploitation films. I like exploitation homage films even less (exploitation parody can be fun though). I've seen some exploitation films which I thought were okay, but not enough to mention their names.
These usually fall into the Mystery/Suspense genre. There are some particularly good movies based around heists and the like - the Killing (1956), Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), the Great Train Robbery (1979) - but I prefer to match them with the larger genres.
To me at least, "foreign" is not a category. I'm from Canada, virtually everything I watch is "foreign!" Possessing subtitles does not inhibit the likes of Run, Lola, Run (1998), Rashomon (1950) or the Seven Samurai (1954). Once again, they belong with the other genres.
This is only a film style; it's a wonderful archaic style, but I wouldn't feel right including it just to ensure that the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Nosferatu (1922) and Metropolis (1927) have their due. They're all wonderful films, but in the ages which have passed since then, new filmmakers (like Hitchcock) have built upon their foundations.
Again, this is a style, not a genre. Animated films are really holding their own with the other genres these days, with legitimate science fiction (WALL-E), fantasy (Nausicaa) and action (Incredibles) films. They belong with the other genres.
Where does biography end? I've enjoyed movies which are obvious bio-pics: Man of a Thousand Faces (1957), the Hiding Place (1975), Malcolm X (1992)...but what about films which take serious liberties with the people whose lives they recount (ie, 2000's Shadow of the Vampire)? What about a bio-pic that fits another genre more ably (ie, Yankee Doodle Dandy, a musical-bio)?
And there are many, many, more. Every movie has its fans (even 'Manos' the Hands of Fate) and as they link their favorite film to another, then another, new "genres" spring up to explain these connections. Which is all well and fine - but I'm content to stick with the eight genres I covered here on the blog, they're wide enough to fit most movies in.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Back in Science Fiction I mentioned that the two genres are often grouped together. Although the two can be clearly divided in literature, I don't think there's been a conscious decision to "brand" the fantasy genre in film until the recent success of the Lord of the Rings films. Of course, the case has also been made that many so-called "science fiction" films (namely Star Wars) are actually fantasy films disguised with spaceships.
So what I do define as fantasy? An element of magic mixed with adventure or humour and generally family-friendly. Ergo:
- Fantasia (1940)
- Scrooge (1951)
- It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
- Nausicaa (1984)
- Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
- The Princess Bride (1987)
- The Dark Crystal (1982)
- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
- Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
All but two of these are films from my childhood and I still tend to relate to fantasy films based on my youthful standards. I never really graduated to the dragon-loving dungeon-raiding he-man sword/sorcery type fiction.
I leave you with my favorite sequence from Fantasia: Night on Bald Mountain.
Tomorrow: some parting thoughts on film genres.