Guns and girls.

This is going to be a very nerdy post: Three reviews of things, the first of…

The Miserable, and the wretched.

Saw Les Misérables yesterday.

Honestly, a musical is not my cup of tea, but the movie was just fine. I have familiarity and appreciation for the story, and the musical, from my youth, so I was curious to see how it would be adapted, and like everyone else, I had heard good things about the performances of Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman. I suspect they’ll both get Oscar nominations, but Anne Hathway is the one with the real shot here. She does a lot of heavy lifting with the relatively limited role of Fantine and even in her short time here no one hits the strides and the heights and depths that she can plumbs so easily. Jackman is good, but not as good as her. Plus, he’s got the unfortunate timing of potentially being nominated for Best Actor in the same award season as Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln.

I dreamed a dream.

Tom Hooper, however, is as boring in his direction as he was in The King’s Speech, and possibly less so. Somehow that film was both nominated and managed to win the big awards, but I don’t think that will be the case here. Especially not in a year that produced a Lincoln, a Zero Dark Thirty, and a Life Of Pi.

Anyway, minor flaws of the film that aren’t so minor: Way too fucking long and not interesting enough to sustain that length. The stuff towards the end with the June Rebellion was dreadfully boring, and anytime Jackman, Hathaway, or even Russell Crowe as Javert weren’t on screen, you found yourself checking your watch. I did enjoy Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter (she’s just doomed to always play the gothic clown now, isn’t she?) as the Thénardiers, and they did provide some much needed comic relief to the film, but their rendition of the film’s second most memorable song was pretty boring.

Anyway, my second review is of…

Mad hilarity, merciless action, dark cynicism, and incorruptible bravery.

Gun Machine, the new novel by Warren Ellis.

This is a fun, slightly nuts book, which is the usual from Ellis. His first novel, Crooked Little Vein, was a silly but interesting little pulp travelogue through America, and Gun Machine comes from a similar place, but it’s more of a harder crime novel. This is Warren Ellis sodomizing writers like James Patterson and Ed McBain with his ideas, sort of.

The premise is simple: A cop stumbles upon an apartment filled with guns, hundreds of them and nothing else, and each crime can be traced to a different unsolved crime. Somebody has been keeping these guns all this time as trophies.

I believe I read somewhere the book has already been optioned to be developed into a TV show, which is… exciting, I guess. Granted, they’ll take the premise, and they’ll tone it down. They’ll have to. This book is a little nuts, and filled with a lot of little minutiae that’s probably closer to the harsh reality of crime in a big insane urban cityscape, but not the kind of thing that the flyover states are ready to tune into from their local affiliate. The first scene of the book, for example, involves the main character’s partner getting half of his face blown off by a shotgun blast delivered by a ranting naked man.

Gun

That said, there are lots of little ideas and the basic premise that could easily translate into a very interesting serial procedural. That, and I would like to see the type of characters that Ellis writes on either the small screen or the big screen, as they’re usually broken, mouthy creatures who are incorruptibly brave (a nice way of putting it from the Wired review quoted as a blurb on the cover) and very good at what they do.

Half of this book is written in the parlance of the internet, almost as if Ellis got tired of scanning the internet landscape and fueled some of that excitement and anger into a writing frenzy. At the same time, as a fan of his comic books and ideas shared in various places online, I am excited to see him evolving in a new medium, but I can’t say that it feels like he’s challenging himself here. But I have to say that I would secretly like to see Ellis tackle one of his nonfiction books that have more than one foot inside music theory and hauntological futures (which he is working on, thankfully), or maybe some kind of insane sci fi novel – I would love to see Warren Ellis become the new Harlan Ellison – or really get into TV, writing for Doctor Who or resurrecting Quatermass, something like that.

The second review being of…

Victorian values.

“The Snowmen,” the recent Doctor Who Christmas special.

I miss talking about Doctor Who, here or anywhere else. I really need to develop a venue for that, but as far as this episode goes, in short: This was a merely so so episode with great characters in it. Matt Smith is always good and shining with the Doctor, and only improves as he continues to play the character, and Vastra, Jenny, and Strax are welcome ongoing returns to the series, and I can’t say enough nice things about Jenna-Louise Coleman’s Clara, who is mysterious and a serious breath of fresh air. If I’m being honest, I may be doing this post solely to post pictures of her.

That said, this episode was not great. The webisode prequels were more interesting than a good deal of the regular plot of the episode, and I thought it was brave that the threat that the characters were facing down was given an extreme back seat to the character moments.

More guns.

Steven Moffat’s writing is always great, but if I had one major criticism of his tenure on Doctor Who as the showrunner it would be that everything feels too rushed. I assume that the fickle nature of television and the constant need to up the ante is what causes that, but as much as I enjoyed season 5 as the shakedown cruise for a new Doctor, companion, and way of looking at the show, season 6 seemed very rushed, big on set up and small on payoff, possibly because the payoff had to be pushed forward, forward, forward. Part of me wonders if a lot of that was necessitated by the upcoming 50th anniversary special.

That special lead to a lot of new additions in the Christmas special, including the introduction of Smith’s face in the main credit sequence (which I’m positive they’ve been threatening since he took over the role) and a redesigned TARDIS console room that brought back a lot of the blandness of the poorly executed production design from the show’s earlier regenerations in video with rubber monsters back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Cosby sweaters and scripts

And I’m as curious as the next person about some of the big things to come, like the presumed payoff of the First Question, but eventually it could get tiring to constantly finding situations for characters to say, “Doctor… Who?”

Anyway. That said, I’m looking forward to the second half of the current season and the (re)introduction of Clara, Mark 3. I suspect that she’ll be everything that we had assumed and hoped that Amy Pond will be, and I’m really looking forward it. The show regenerates each time a new Doctor steps out of the ashes of the previous one, but as they keep rightfully so telling us, the show is about the companions and the view they provide, and it really feels like the show could come to life again with the addition of Clara. I’m excited.

Remember.

Sing into my mouth.

In the course of my travels through the landscape of the internet the other day I came across this:

The only lovers left alive.

At first I was actually stunned by how pretty and serene the moving image was. I thought to myself, “That is really quite pretty,” which is somewhat uncharacteristic of me.

Later, I looked at it again and it terrified me somewhat. It look on an ethereal quality, something more haunting. It was no longer just two people, frozen in a moment of happy contentment. Suddenly it looked almost… ghostly, you know? It got me thinking about the web of time, the way memories are sliced separate from reality. Some moments are really quite lovely, if only they could be frozen in place,  allowed to continue on forever, unaware of the progress or decline that comes as the world continues spinning past them. How wonderful it would be if you could preserve them like this, but wouldn’t that deprive them of their meaning, leaving them stripped of their context and ultimately hollow?

Oh well. Just thinking. Every love story eventually becomes a ghost story, and every happy home eventually becomes a haunted house.

Scottish Manes.

On our Star Wars podcast a few weeks ago, I was threatening that I was going to write a monograph about Ewan McGregor’s hair in films, and I’m sure Benjamin Light thought I was just joking. He probably – rightfully? – hoped that I was.

Scottish manes.I wasn’t. Thought Catalog was nice enough to publish a piece by me the other day: A Selection Of Films Rated On The Quality Of Ewan McGregor’s Hair In Them.”

Here’s the sad thing: I could have gone on and on, and in quite a big of greater detail than I did. Their might be a strange little e-book on this topic in the future so, you know, beware.

* * *

At some point, I feel like I could write another piece (though a much shorter one) on the hair of prominent comic book writers, especially those in the Marvel bullpen. In short: They’re all bald! Sometimes they have the wall of hair on the side, a power move that I’m sure is called “The Captain Picard” in barber college. Sometimes they just go for the shave and shine, electing to try to convince us that they chose to shave their head, not that they were losing a war with genetics. (“Make it SO!”)

I can see you!

Oh well. These are the people who decide who of our favorite four color heroes will die (like Peter Parker recently) or get raped and stuffed in a refrigerator.

FYI: TV Tropes informs me that it is actually referred to as “Bald Of Awesome.”

* * *

Benjamin Light informed me tonight that Ewan McGregor was rated as #5 on GQ‘s list of Most Stylish Men. I could tell you who was rated higher than him, but it’s bullshit. At least it wasn’t Michael Fassbender or Channing Tatum.

Men in suits.

Fucking Channing Tatum.

* * *

The blog is just days away from ending!

And, as always, I’m going to ask and suggest that you check out our podcasts…

Podcasts!

Time Travel Murder Mystery is on a very short hiatus currently, but I imagine that you can expect new episodes again in early January. Meanwhile, Greedo Shot First, our Star Wars podcast for people who hate Star Wars fans, is still going strong. I believe that the subject of our next episode will be a rewatching of The Empire Strikes Back. The haircuts in that movie were really just so so.

The Magician longs to see…

My nightmares have red curtains. There’s people barefoot there, people laughing at me, people speaking backwards gibberish. My nightmares have a laugh track, also.

My nightmares might also be TV mash ups. People used to fear that the camera would steal your soul. Perhaps it does, just a little bit, just a sliver of it, and the trapped and tormented souls of TV people go on to live in my brain. Wouldn’t that be fun?

As with everything else, perhaps I just see what I want to see.

I think that could be especially true now, as we do the work of putting this blog to bed. That picture of Naveen Andrews and Elizabeth Mitchell was previously mentioned here, and K-Stew has been mentioned, fuck, everywhere on this blog, but most recently here.

Romancing the Stone.

The other day I went to see that totally forgettable Total Recall remake and this was waiting for me out in the theater lobby afterward…

A historical “action drama” movie featuring cops and gangsters and Sean Penn and Josh Brolin and fucking Nick Nolte. Ugh. All pretty high on my list of least favorite things at the cinema, and yet… Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone? That’s chemistry goldmine right there. (As opposed to featuring Bryan Gosling, that loser.)

I’m not saying that the presence of those two together will get to go see this movie, but it will seriously make me wish that they were in a different movie together.

They were the best thing about Crazy Stupid Love, right?

Why can’t they do a movie where they fight vampires or something. Or a Shakespearean adaptation. Only… set in the future. But maybe it’s really the past? And taking place on a holodeck? And Mercutio is a robot! And a ghost. And a traitor! And it’s all really a dream. Of course.

Anyway. Anything other than gangsters next time, please?

It’s just sad because I want to say that Emma Stone clearly has more onscreen chemistry and just works better in a movie with Gosling than her actual boyfriend, offscreen and on (in Spider-Man), Andrew Garfield. But, you know, whatever.

Meanwhile… have you been checking out our podcast?

If not, you should be. Obviously. Check out the Time Travel Murder Mystery site, or find us in itunes. The last two episodes, “Bad Nudity Batman” and “The Jon Snow Show” were fun, I thought. And a new episode should be up in a few days.

The internet is a unique and creepy and incredibly special place.

After this: 85 posts to go til the end!

But until then… Just some random pictures and one video from the internet…

Wonder Woman by Hellen Jo, from here.

from here.

from here.

from here.

I’m really fascinated by images of Christopher Nolan on the set of The Dark Knight Rises – see below  – which comes out so fucking soon now.

and

One of movies that I enjoy that is fairly obscure to your average film goer is Michael Haneke’s Caché from 2005. On the most basic level the movie could be viewed as a horror film when a well to do family in Paris has their quiet life turned upside down when someone starts sending them surveillance videos of themselves and their lives. They don’t know who’s sending them or how they’re capturing the footage of them. Just from that alone the movie makes a really chillingly effective psychological thriller, but it’s more artsy, and has a compellingly confusing final shot that makes you question just about everything you had just seen in the film that preceded it…

Anyway, the reason I bring it up is because a large part of the film is just long shots of people interacting and moving through their existence, just being. An unedited existence observed in a slightly ghostly fashion.

And that reminded me of this:

Just footage from what I presume was streaming video to some kind of function involving The Amazing Spider-Man, since Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are together. Obviously you know that the two actors are dating if you read any gossip columns or frequent any of those websites that post pictures of celebrities wearing tacky clothes as they stroll out of their homes to buy groceries, but it’s so odd to see them just hanging out somewhere and talking to people. People watching can be a fun time waster when you’re there, when you’re in the place or in the moment, but to just kind of hover over folks, it’s extra creepy.

But maybe I’m just reading too much into it?

Perhaps, but just watch a few minutes of this video and tell me you see it differently now. The glitch producing the echo in the audio doesn’t help any and I have to say, I felt a slight tingle when the actors stop and looked right at the camera. Suddenly… They could see me!

from here.

by Farel Dalrymple.

from here.

from here, and…

from here.

And before I go, until next time, I’ll leave you with a song I like…

Crazy Town Banana Pants.

99 posts to go in our countdown, but today, for your approval, some pictures

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