Saturday, February 23, 2013

Nominee Thoughts

I'm continuing the tradition I started last year and not watching/caring about the Academy Awards this year. I don't think movies are generally that great or interesting right now. I don't say that to be pretentious, I just don't feel as rewarded by them as I once did. But I still like movies and I still like to see what gets nominated, so here are one of a billion posts that people will have up today where they talk about the nominees and how they feel about them. So, just like commenting on a list, these are some personal opinionated thoughts. (Official list of nominees here.)

BEST PICTURE
I think there are more worthy nominees this year than last year, even though this is a less good year for film. Amour is excellent, but painful. Argo is great filmmaking; it's a film about Important Things in Recent History that doesn't feel self-important or self-satisfied, which is nice. It doesn't try to be too big or dramatic, even with that tense, theatrical bit at the end (masterfully edited). It's not strictly historical, but who cares? I get really sick of the people who bellyache about a film based on a historical event going for drama rather than document. Have you not learned in the last century that film is drama? If someone can't crack a book on their own or at the least look up the Wikipedia page for the Canadian Caper, what the hell do I care? I saw a film and I loved the hell out of it.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a movie I liked a lot, but I see a lot of people who felt it was gimmicky or condescending. I didn't get that, honestly, but maybe I wasn't looking closely enough. I don't think I'd nominate it for Best Picture, but I thought it was great.

I also loved Django Unchained. It's actually the first Quentin Tarantino movie that I thought wasn't up to par for him (the last half hour is too much running around to get back to one place), but even slightly less par Tarantino is better than a lot of the movies that came out this year. And there's always the humor value of people who just get weirdly pissed off about his movies. People get really fucking angry. And I don't mean about the violence or the use of the word nigger, I mean about the films he makes in general. Like everyone's pissed that his movies are exploitation genre films, as if you didn't already know he makes exploitation genre films. I don't know how that keeps surprising people, or how they think their weird hatred of him is profound in some way.

You all know what I thought of Les Miserables, because people are still getting annoyed at me for it. Sorry I didn't like your movie. I prefer coherence. Life of Pi is my favorite movie this year. I think it had narrative issues at the end, but it's the one I keep returning to in my mind the most. Lincoln is a movie I thought I'd hate but which I really enjoyed, except for the very ending, in which Spielberg finally can't stop himself from being all Spielberg. Silver Linings Playbook is a nice movie that doesn't deserve the nomination at all; this is that one Harvey Weinstein movie that ends up getting nominated because he campaigned enough that people gave in. It's a nice movie, I enjoyed it, but Best Picture? No.

Zero Dark Thirty is a movie I found interesting while I was watching it, but which hasn't really stayed in my memory. I know some people who have seen it recently and think it was a powerful experience, but I didn't connect with it that way.

What do I think will win? Life of Pi is my favorite, but it won't win. I kind of hope Argo does, just because I couldn't stand to see it go to Zero Dark Thirty. But, you know, does it matter? I do think that Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, and Lincoln are the only real contenders here; it'll be one of the three, I expect. I expected Les Miserables for a while, but that seems to have died down.

Not nominated: I think The Impossible is one of the best movies of 2012. Ginger & Rosa is small and escaped notice, but powerful. I saw Skyfall last night and loved it. I'm disappointed The Master didn't get nominated.

Again, only 9 nominations. I still think 10 nominations is over the top, especially when you look at the lists and see how bad a lot of those nominees really are. I think it's kind of funny that there's no nomination for some kind of really popular genre movie, like Skyfall or The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises or The Hobbit, because the only reason they have 10 nominations now is (let's be honest) because of all the entitled populist whining in 2009 about how The Dark Knight didn't get nominated. And since this year they seem to be trying even harder than ever to turn the Oscars into the MTV Movie Awards, I would've expected it. I supposed you could argue that Django Unchained is that movie this year, even though it's not popular in the way I mean. I think the producers want the Oscars to be more youthful than the actual Academy does, which is what makes it so bizarre right now.

BEST ACTOR
Bradley Cooper is probably the best he's ever been in Silver Linings Playbook--he's not an actor I care much for--but I still wouldn't nominate him. I mean, it's a cute movie, but come on.

Daniel Day-Lewis deserves it for Lincoln. He's such a lock that people have actually stopped talking about his performance, which really is masterful.

I liked Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables. I feel in the minority on that one. A lot of people I know who see the movie don't care for him--he sings too high (everyone does, the music's written that way), he's just being Hugh Jackman, he's boring, etc.--but I really liked his performance, singing included. If he hadn't been in the lead, the movie would have just been that much more unbearable to me. And there are so, so, so many worse performances in that movie that are much more worthy of comment than his.

Joaquin Phoenix is excellent in The Master. I think he blew it for a while there with the craziness, and it made it easier to overlook the fact that he really is a highly talented actor.

I think Denzel Washington's performance in Flight is overrated, but I don't think much of him as an actor and I never really have.

Not nominated: I like Tommy Lee Jones a lot in Hope Springs, which is not a great movie, but is a good one. Two performances I don't like seeing overlooked are Suraj Sharma in Life of Pi and Jean-Louis Trintignant in Amour.

BEST ACTRESS
I wasn't blown away by Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty. I haven't been convinced on her, but lots of people seem to love her. I recognize that in this case, it has less to do with her performance than with the entire tone of that movie, which she matches just fine, it's a movie I didn't get stirred by.

I hate Jennifer Lawrence, and her performance in Silver Linings Playbook is just as drab, dull and awkward as every performance I've ever seen her give. I do not understand why she is this popular. I think she'll probably win this one, too. They want to give her an Oscar so bad. Judging her just purely based on her work, I don't see it. Especially in this movie, where... seriously, her big diner freakout scene that Tumblr loves is some of the most embarrassing overacting of the year.

Emmanuelle Riva is excellent in Amour. Riveting in a difficult, non-sentimental film.

Quvenzhane Walls in Beasts of the Southern Wild... I don't know. I like her in the movie, but an Oscar? It's hard to tell with children in movies how much of it is performance and how much of it is natural and how much of it is direction.

Naomi Watts is another actress I don't care for, but she's excellent in The Impossible. I'm sorry people haven't been talking more about her.

Not nominated: I know I'm in the tank for her, but I think Elle Fanning really is Oscar-worthy in Ginger & Rosa. Meryl Streep in Hope Springs. Marion Cotillard in Rust and Bone. AnnaLynne McCord is impressively fearless in Excision, which is not the kind of movie that gets taken seriously. The best performance by an actress I saw all year was Julianne Moore in Game Change, which isn't eligible.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
I like Alan Arkin in Argo, but it's not anything you haven't seen Alan Arkin do before. Nothing against the guy, because his performance is fun.

Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook... seriously, what is it with this movie? Quirky =/= acting, though it's easily the least embarrassing of De Niro's comic performances.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is excellent at being Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master.

Tommy Lee Jones was excellent in an almost effortless way in Lincoln. Not a lot of blood to his performance, but compelling. Maybe too polished for the award. Whatever that means.

Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained is wonderful and the best part of the movie. Waltz is a great actor who elevates every screenplay he performs, even when it's The Green Hornet. I'd give it to Waltz over anyone else.

Not nominated: I think the person most overlooked was Dwight Henry in Beasts of the Southern Wild, who is compelling and hard to look away from. Samuel L. Jackson is scary in Django Unchained, his greatest performance in some time, but I think nominating it would have meant confronting some of the aspects of the film people are most uncomfortable with.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams is excellent and even chillingly detached in The Master. She's an actress who continues to fascinate me over the years. Her style is not naturalistic, and I think a lot of people don't like that about her, but when it's used the right way, she's really something to watch. She's my favorite in this category, even though she won't win it.

Sally Field has some really good scenes in Lincoln. She's an actress who always seems overrated and underrated at the same time.

Anne Hathaway will win for Les Miserables, of course. She's on a world tour of fake, faux-surprised, phony, disgustingly insincere acceptance speeches. She had one great scene in a grotesque movie. I think she deserves the recognition, but I think she deserved an Oscar years ago (for Rachel Getting Married) and here she's merely a powerful bright spot in a movie that barely slows down to tell a story.

Helen Hunt is surprisingly good in The Sessions. Good call on the nomination, won't win. She looks fantastic. I think this is the first time I've ever really liked her in anything. (I am not a fan of As Good As It Gets.)

Jacki Weaver in Silver Linings Playbook... how much money is Harvey throwing around these days?

Not nominated: I don't care, I still defend Kristen Stewart in On the Road.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Mostly good nominations, and I'm glad to have five this year. I didn't care for Frankenweenie, but to be fair, the animation is quite good. Brave has problems, but the animation is wonderful. I think the other three--ParaNorman, Wreck-It Ralph and The Pirates! Band of Misfits--knock it out of the park. My favorite, personally, is The Pirates, but I pretty much expect Wreck-It Ralph to win.

Not nominated: I wish The Secret World of Arrietty had placed. The Lorax is a movie I didn't like, but some of the sequences were really good (mostly the forest scenes and the Lorax himself), and the animation is really wonderful, despite the screenplay.

BEST DIRECTOR
I never really care much, but come on, Ben Affleck really deserved it.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
How does Amour not win this award, being that it's also a Best Picture nominee? It is the best of the five, but only just.

Kon-Tiki is excellent, though perhaps not for everyone. I see different reactions, but I loved it.

No is a fascinating trip back a few decades. I particularly love the way the movie looks: it's in 4:3 and filmed like it's a news program from 1988.

A Royal Affair is one of the best period dramas of the year.

War Witch is riveting from beginning to end. If Amour wasn't in this category, I'd say this is the clear winner.

Not nominated: Intouchables is a great film. Not nominating it is just so... stupid. Also sorry that Rust and Bone didn't make it. No French films in the pool this year.

Other thoughts:

:: So glad Sykfall got nominated for Best Cinematography. I think it looks remarkable (find me the Roger Deakins-shot movie that doesn't), and I'm glad we've moved away from the visceral shakiness of the past decade and into--hopefully--a new era of visual clarity in action films.

:: I can't believe I haven't seen a single documentary from 2012. It takes me forever to see documentaries.

:: I think Argo deserves Best Editing just for the way it keeps raising and raising the tension in the climax, from the moment they arrive at the airport on.

:: The Cabin in the Woods should have gotten a Best Makeup nomination.

:: Would've liked to see Frankenweenie get a Best Score nod for Danny Elfman, who carries the film.

Well, those are just my opinions. I'll read about it the next day, since I won't be watching. I probably won't be on Tumblr or Facebook, either, since those places are truly annoying to be when award shows are on.

I'm really just going to be looking for pictures of sexy actresses, anyway, let's be honest.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Gershwin Plays Gershwin

George Gershwin plays a piano version of "Rhapsody in Blue" for a piano roll recording. The piece was originally written (and published) for piano before being orchestrated by Ferde Grofe. It's almost impossible for me to hear this and not hear the orchestrations in my head, but a chance to hear Gershwin play is always wonderful.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS (2012)
How nice to see an Aardman film again (and a stop-motion one, at that). I love the charm of the Aardman films, and this film has a beautifully realized three-dimensional look to it. The camera really makes the most of the models, swooping in and out of ornate sets. The story may be on the inconsequential side, but the voice actors are so good and the film is packed with wall-to-wall gags, and the artistry of the animation is undeniable. I could watch 9 more movies with this crew of characters. ****

BRAVE (2012)
I had my trepidation about this film, but I ultimately liked it. I have some problems with the narrative, and I think in some ways it lets down this wonderful character they've created. Merida is beautifully animated and fully realized--and voiced quite nicely by Kelly MacDonald--but I just wish the film served her better. The film is too obsessed with making her a symbol of feminist autonomy instead of just making her autonomous and telling us her story. I feel like Disney's been telling us every year since The Little Mermaid what feminism is and how important feminist characters are instead of just making movies with a lead female character and exploring those characters. They always have to stand for something. So it takes the narrative a little too long to really get to the heart of the story, which is about a daughter and a mother who don't understand each other and can't communicate each other. I think the story suffers as a result. The opening scenes are beautifully animated (though this is Pixar's most self-conscious attempt to be Miyazaki in a lot of ways). We get to know this world and the characters, but I didn't feel the tension of Merida's dilemma, which is that she doesn't want to be forced into marriage and traditional "ladylike" ways and cetera, and I didn't like the way the film handled this, coming down to three suitors who are all duds and Merida boldly brushing them off. It doesn't feel so bold to me to brush off three duds. If even one of them had been handsome and a great warrior and even a nice person, if any one of them had really been the perfect potential husband and she still rebelled against being forced into an engagement, that would have really been the statement Pixar thinks it's making with this movie. Like I said, brushing off a dud is easy. The message isn't "Make your own destiny, change your fate, forge your own path" it's "If the things your parents want for you aren't pleasing, make a scene until you get your way." I think that's a story failure. And I think the sequence with the witch is sort of lifted whole cloth from The Thief and the Cobbler, the most ripped off animated film in history. After all of that, though, I think the narrative rights itself and the scenes with mother and daughter are really stirring and emotional. The bears are especially well animated. There's a lot I liked, even loved in here, and the design and animation of the characters is beautiful. I just wish the story had been a little more challenging. But it's still the best movie Pixar's made in years. I wish they'd push themselves to innovate again. Step outside your formula. It's a good movie, but it could have been a truly great one. ***1/2

HEAD OVER HEELS (2012)
Short stop-motion film about an old married couple who has stopped communicating. I like the way the gulf between them is literalized: they both live on opposite planes, literally unable to stand side by side. That's a clever idea. And though the ending is beautiful, it doesn't make the mistake of thinking that grand gestures fix all your relationship problems. ***

ADAM AND DOG (2011)
Excellent, very emotional short animated film about man's first best friend. I love that there's no dialogue in this film; it's just a dog, at the beginning of creation, and the friendship he forges with Adam, the first man. The Adam and Eve story happens mostly offscreen; instead, we stay with the dog and watch and feel as he curiously explores his new world and chooses his moment of loyalty. It's stunning; I got caught up in the movement and the animation, but my emotions were sort of tensed the whole time. ****

FRESH GUACAMOLE (2012)
WESTERN SPAGHETTI (2008)
A pair of stop-motion films by PES, one of which is nominated for the Oscar this year. They're very short, smart and clever films that show a man cooking and each food object being replaced by other objects. PES is pretty obviously inspired by Jan Svankmajer, but his films seem more absurdist than symbolic. **** each.

PARANORMAN (2012)
If I have one complaint about this movie, it's that it's a stop-motion film that tries a little too hard to look like a CGI one. It's very slick, less puppet-y. It doesn't quite revel in its medium, but that's okay, because the story is fun, the characters are really well-realized, and the voice actors are enjoyable. It's a really fun movie about a boy, Norman, who can see the dead and has to battle a witch (a local legend). I just especially liked the characters in this one, particularly Norman's friend Neil. The characterizations are just so full and genuine, and at least one of them quite surprising. ***1/2

WRECK-IT RALPH (2012)
I really enjoyed this Disney film about a video game villain who wants to stop being the bad guy and earn some respect. Well-realized, and I loved the video game settings, particularly the Sugar Rush environment, which is just limitlessly creative. Lots of good references, and the voice work is nice, particularly John C. Reilly as the title character (perfect casting) and Alan Tudyk's crazy turn as King Candy (doing a sort of menacing Ed Wynn; I wouldn't have guessed Tudyk just listening; I thought it must be Charles Fleischer). I loved that in the end Ralph realizes that having a role in life doesn't necessarily mean that it defines your nature. This is another one of those movies that is certain that, when we're not interacting with our things, they have a complex, ordered society with rules. Someone should make a film about why it is we want the inanimate things we interact with to carry the characterizations we imbue them with. ****

FRANKENWEENIE (2012)
Tim Burton made an utterly charming, wonderful little movie/50s science fiction homage about a boy bringing his dead dog back to life. Then, in 2012, he remade it as a stop motion feature without any of the charm or wonder. It's a cute movie--the animation itself is great, and has the hand-molded look I particularly like in stop motion--but it's very slight and often not very interesting. Tim Burton used to have this reputation as being a weird outsider, but his style has become so mainstream now that movies like this seem to come out constantly and without the genuinely weird beauty they once had. Any real emotions the movie generates are from the design and animation of the dog, and the score by Danny Elfman, once again doing the real heavy lifting (and a damn sight better than he did in Dark Shadows, which I haven't seen, but I have listened to the score, and it was dull and halfhearted and not worth listening to a second time). It's pretty much everything you expect from a Tim Burton movie and nothing else, which is fine if you like Tim Burton, but boring if you fell out of love with him a decade ago. This is pretty much Corpse Bride again: slight, inconsequential, forgettable, but with one good character and a wonderful score. He really needs to get a director of Henry Selick's caliber to make his animated movies. The Nightmare Before Christmas is an enduring classic, in no small part because of a character-oriented direction. Frankenweenie suffers from being full of cute gags (that have been mostly repeated in other Burton films) and not dealing in the one thing Burton's never been able to figure out as a storyteller: human beings. **1/2

I Made a Cake

I've never made a cake before. I'm not really much of a baker... I have made pizzas (from flour up) and brownies before, but usually I'm a stove top kind of chef.

I've been having a bad week this week--my depression and anxiety are up, and so that means I've been getting frustrated easily again. I really blew trying to make breakfast a couple of days ago, which sent me into a frustrated rage... It's times like these that I really have to remember that depression is an all-the-time-for-the-rest-of-my-life kind of thing and that some days will be easier than others. It's not going to just disappear or even be driven away never to return. It's about learning to manage it.

Becca didn't want me to give up on cooking because of one failure; she's known me long enough to know that there was a time when I would've just not cooked for a month after that. So I've been trying to cook every other day now instead of just once a week, getting more practiced and more confident. I think I cook okay (except my pancakes, which are glorious), but I'd like to cook well. My problem is that I let it get too nerve wracking. I don't know why I do that. Maybe it's just that I feel like with things the way they are financially, I can't waste any food by not cooking well. And I'm very hard on myself; I always think I should be able to do things better than I do, and if I don't, I'm unrelenting with myself. I don't know where I learned that, but it's how I've always been with myself: demanding the best and then reacting with self-loathing when I can't come near it, to finally giving up trying because it's easier than hating myself for failing.

Weird the things cooking can make you reflect on, isn't it?

Therapeutic cooking is a thing, isn't it?

Anyway, last night I felt terrible and Becca was driving out to the pharmacy and said that while she was gone I should fill the time with something besides being on the computer, because she knows that's where I sit and stew about how I feel shitty. She had bought a cake mix earlier, and told me I should try baking it.

I was intimidated by it, honestly. Like I said, I've never baked a cake before, and I had no confidence in being able to do it. It was a mix, so it's not like it was too complicated; just add water, oil and eggs. Our oven can be a little iffy (it usually ends up about a hundred degrees hotter than whatever you set it at), but she showed me how to compensate for it. And then she left me alone in the house with a task, a cake mix, and the oven running. She has more confidence in me than I think I warrant.

Preheating the oven was actually nice; it got down to about 6 degrees last night, so being in the kitchen with an oven getting up to 350 was perfectly pleasant. And I liked mixing the batter. I don't know what it is, but mixing is somehow my favorite part of cooking right now. It's weirdly relaxing. It's like meditating; the repetition of something is soothing and focuses you. Petting my rabbit is the same way.

I weirdly thought about how I'd never baked a cake before or even really thought about baking one. I wonder why. I'm 36 years old, why wouldn't it have occurred to me? I kept wondering if it was sexist to not think about ever baking a cake and just sort of assuming that someone would do it for me, but I honestly eat cake maybe once every other year, so it's not like I go around thinking "Woman, bake me a cake!" And it's not like I think it's unmanly somehow, but I'm a product of my time and upbringing. As a kid in the eighties, no one ever took me aside and said, you know, it's good to know how to cook and it's fun to do. If (and it's a big if) I ever have children, they are god damn learning to cook. No eating McDonald's and Pizza Hut for a decade and then finding out how fun cooking is in their mid-thirties like me.

I've said this before, but when I was a kid--especially in high school--there wasn't a lot of food in the house and regular meals weren't a thing, so I didn't learn good eating habits or how to take care of my food needs, and I think that contributed to not only my weight problems, but my... not laziness, but this feeling of helplessness I have sometimes, like I'm in some kind of hole and I don't know how to get out of it, but somehow there are obvious answers that I can't access. I'm sure that's part of the reason I can't try and bake a cake without getting jittery and nervous about it turning out edible.

I still feel like I'm putting myself back together, but I don't feel like I'm going backwards. Baking a cake successfully is a low stakes goal, but pulling it off is a tiny boost to my confidence. Not pulling it off can be disappointing, but I shouldn't let it be some sort of referendum on my worth as a person. That's the line I really have a problem seeing when I'm in the middle of it.

I suppose it says a lot about where my mind was that I can't even remember what brand of cake it was or the actual name of it. It was like a dreamsicle flavor... It's orange cream, like those popsicles. I didn't even know they made cake that flavor. The batter smelled wonderfully; it was just so... orangey.

So, after a suspenseful twenty minutes of baking (and some time cooling), it actually turned out really well.

My food photography leaves a lot to be desired. I just can't stress enough how very orange this cake is, even though the picture makes it look kind of beige. And it tastes wonderful; it was moist and flavorful. So, my first time baking a cake, and it was a success. And it was easy. Somehow, I thought there was a lot more that went into that... Then again, I was working from a mix, so my comment about the ease of the process isn't meant to be an insult to anyone who makes actual cakes from nothing. I see those cake shows. That's impressive.

I didn't have any frosting or anything, so we had it with vanilla ice cream. It was delicious, and I felt pretty decent about myself.

Cake accomplished. Self-esteem saved. Experience learned from.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Random Thoughts and Links


:: If Series Set In the Modern Day Were Written Like Sci-Fi Series highlights one of my biggest gripes about the way Star Trek series are often written, and why I was so refreshed to see movie night on Enterprise: why, other than obvious copyright issues, is everyone in the 24th century so well-versed in 19th century culture. Did everything made after 1911 just disappear somehow? (And let's not even get to the question of why there seems to be no modern entertainment or popular culture in the 24th century... apparently no one makes movies, television, music or plays by then and everyone's content to just enjoy Shakespeare, Dickens, and Gilbert and Sullivan throughout history... which, I expect those works to still be around, but it's also kind of like everyone's hanging out with my great grandmother.)

:: Looking at my Tumblr feed, I have to ask: am I the only one who thinks Beyonce is just sort of okay? Everyone either hates her and wishes she was dead, or thinks she's the queen of the entire universe and some kind of divine being we should all aspire to and bask in the glow of, and it's really fucking annoying.

:: Pictures from the coldest inhabited place on Earth. This must be why it's always so hard to take Yakutsk while playing Risk.

:: John McCain should (and in all honesty probably is) be one of the most informed people in America about what went down at that consulate. Yet he claims some sort of cover up and, when pressed as to what exactly is being covered up, gives an answer pretty much equivalent to “bad stuff, OK?” The man clearly has nothing. The piece also describes McCain as having "some kind of old man tantrum," which is more than accurate. McCain is really unhinged these days, and it's just starting to remind me of when my Grandpa finally went into the hospital and didn't come back out.

:: The Five Most Overrated American Presidents

:: A judge ruled that the guy making custom Batmobiles was violating Warner Bros' copyright. How much longer before fanart and tattoos are finally illegal?

:: ABC moved Happy Endings to Friday nights. This after a brief period of airing it two days a week and basically taking it off the schedule for a month. Will you guys just admit it's canceled, please? Jeez, first Don't Trust the B-- in Apt. 23 and now this one. I'm not torn up about it, but I did like both of those shows. Oh, well; an hour less of my life devoted to ABC is probably not that bad.

:: Anyone else watching The Americans on FX? I'm really into it.

:: I've been reading a bit lately about Erik Larsen fighting with Mario Gully over Gully's character Ant. I don't really want to get into it, but I think Gully's (and others') accusations that Image has just become another censorship-happy comic book company are kind of interesting. Someone called out Larsen and basically said that the reason he and others left Marvel to form Image was that they were sick of editorial interference. I know that's the legend of Image Comics, but I've always rolled my eyes at that bullshit. The reason those guys left Marvel was that they wanted more money. That's really it. Yeah, yeah, they wanted to create their own characters, but most of them seem to have only wanted to so in order to not have to share the money they made with Marvel Comics or any other company.

Frankly, I sometimes think the creation of Image is what ruined comics. 90% of what they put out (when they could be bothered to actually put anything out) was garbage, but at least they started a big war in comics over artists' pay and exclusive contracts. Because of that, Marvel and DC were less willing to take a chance on anything that didn't look like Image Comics, and anyone who read comics in the 90s knows how that worked out. It made idiots like Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane important players in the comic book industry, and now Lee has a license to help ruin DC Comics by turning it into the 90s Image crap, so well done there. And McFarlane's treatment of Neil Gaiman pretty much shows how those independent creator-owned trailblazers felt about making money instead of being the champions of creators' rights that they claimed they were. I don't respect any of those guys, to be honest.

:: I've been thinking about this situation where Orson Scott Card is writing a Superman comic. I didn't want to do a big post about it, because so many others have thoughts on the issue that are already so thought out. I think Tom Foss probably came the closest to saying exactly what I wanted to say about it. Bottom line for me is that I don't want to get involved in these stupid debates where bigotry can be called "just an opinion" and Card sitting on the board of an organization actively working to deny people their civil rights can be called "freedom of speech." I refuse to engage with people who think either of those things are true. And I refuse to read a story about a character I love written by a man whose opinions on the origins of homosexuality are as insane as Orson Scott Card's, because a man who says those things is not a man whose imagination is healthy.

(image via)

Richard Briers 1934-2013

I don't actually know Briers from the BBC series he was on; I know him from being in nearly every Kenneth Branagh movie (including an excellent turn as Polonius in Hamlet) and from Watership Down, where for years and years of my childhood he disturbed me greatly as the the voice of Fiver. Sorry to hear the news today that he's passed on.

Kristen Bell Mondays

Baby girl loves sloths.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

This Land Is Mine

I just caught (months late) this amazing animated short by Nina Paley, who made one of the greatest animated films I've ever seen, Sita Sings the Blues. This is a powerful, witty short that really doesn't flinch from what it has to say. Paley envisioned this as the final scene of another feature, but has shared this online and I am so glad she has. She's even got a handy visual aid on her blog.

It's not like this qualifies for the Oscar, but this is another short that I think shows you the amazing talent that is out there working on animation and that sadly gets ignored in favor of things like that Maggie Simpson short.


This Land Is Mine from Nina Paley on Vimeo.

Song of the Week: "Take On Me"

This was everywhere when I was 9 and 10 (you remember), but unlike a lot of things you couldn't escape, I never got sick of this. I've never had it up--too obvious a choice, I guess--but this week I heard some new rap song that samples that great keyboard riff only to key you up for the most unexciting garbage, and I just need to hear the real song again because, shit, you don't get to do that, okay.