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.

“Melody Williams, that’s a geography teacher. Melody Pond’s a superhero.”

Last week was a hell of a cliffhanger and the start of a massive call to arms. This week we discover that the answer to the question “Where is the worst place in the universe to be standing?” is easily found out when you kidnap Amy Pond. A baby is born, a baby is kidnapped, a trap is sprung, some old friends return for the first time, we finally discover who River Song is, and this week on Doctor Who we discover that a battle can be lost and won simultaneously and that demons run when “A Good Man Goes To War.”

Continue reading

…and I feel fine.

Hello! It’s Sunday. And Sundays, well, Sundays are boring, right? Right.

John Cusack goes out for a little jog in the middle of the apocalypse.

Went and saw 2012 yesterday, as promised. It was, well… Hmm.

the end of the world just got a whole lot more end of the world-ier.

My first reaction to it: Ehhhh. Not horrible, but not great. It’s exactly what’s advertised on the tin, I’ll put it this way. You’ve got a lot of real actors doing some cartoon shit while the world goes to hell all around them. The cast, when you think about it, is actually quite impressive. Also, Woody Harrelson’s in the mix too.

We can see you.

My second reaction to it: Why the fuck didn’t this come out in the middle of the summer?

It was literally this or ID4ever, right?

Third reaction: Comedy of the year, hands down.

Especially in a year when, if you think about it, the big comedy was… what? The Hangover? Right? Get serious. I never saw the movie, I won’t lie, but for a lot of reasons. Primarily, things like the trailer. Did you see it? It looks like it was made for retarded boys. But, you know what’s even worse than the trailer? Listening to people who actually liked the movie. They sound like retarded boys, don’t they? Anyway.

There is virtually no situation in which I will not find Thandie Newton excruciatingly gorgeous, except for maybe 2012.

But I really feel like 2012 deserves a good proper Counterforce review. It really does. It’s really our kind of movie, and I mean that in the best and worst possible ways. I don’t know that I’m the man for that job. Benjamin Light, I’m looking at you. Are you the man for that job?

Can you believe me actually made this ridiculous movie?

Anyway, I went and saw the film yesterday with Conrad Noir and walking out of the theater, still buzzing from all that ridiculousness, we saw this:

You are killing me with this ridiculous shit, Dwayne. You really are.

And we thought, “Dear God, who gave that man wings.” Much less Wings Of Desire and much more Red Bull: The Movie.

But then we got into a little conversation, talking about this and that and action heroes of the 80s, mostly cause we’ve been watching a lot of that horrendous/wonderful action movie fare from that decade, and we were talking about how action stars back then were so… foreign seeming. And maybe that contributed a lot to their allure. Maybe it also made some of the ridiculousness easier to stand, too?

For example there, Benjamin Light and were discussing a week or so ago what a remake of The Terminator would look like – since the franchise is up for sale, and should be sold to Joss Whedon, of course, cause why not? – And I brought up the question, “Does the killer robot from the future have to be Austrian?” Commander Light emphatically assured he that it indeed had to be. I’m taking his word for it.

This just looks magical.

Anyway, so Conrad and I, discussing action stars today, talking about guys like Dwayne Johnson, and how, in our minds, he’s not really latched on with America. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the idea of a “non-conventional” action star quite a bit, i.e. a non white guy running around screaming at people, doing high kicks, and blowing copious amounts of shit up. So why hasn’t “The Rock” caught on with us? I posit two possibilities:

1. In a grab for “credibility” or attempting to “not being as big a joke as he is,” he ditched his silly little wrestling moniker, “The Rock,” and went with his real name: Dwayne Johnson. Except, we can’t root for a guy named Dwayne.

2. Not foreign enough? Perhaps? I suggest investigating this has merit. Especially since it seems American action-loving fans get a bigger hard on from a ponce like Jason Statham than Dwayne Johnson.

How Statham picks up a girl.

Then, walking out of the theater, Conrad and I were looking at the various posters on display, the coming soons and the current releases. Part of me still wants to see This Is It. I’m a Michael Jackson fan, I won’t hide it.  But I’m also a huge Richard Matheson fan, and while I have serious reservations about the movie, I also kind of want to see The Box.

Cameron Diaz is trapped inside her own box.

But I don’t know that I trust Richard Kelly anymore. Donnie Darko was okay when it first came out, before you put it through any real tests of serious thought or logic and saw through it’s masturbatory philophosizing. It’s a glorified remake of Last Temptation Of Christ that doesn’t fully pan out. But Kelly also went on to make – speaking of Dwayne Johnson – the gloriously bad Southland Tales.

Dwayne Johnson Fever Dot Net.

Look, I’m not going to talk about the Philip K. Dick pastiche that was Southland Tales here. I’m just… not. I’m not going to do it. All I’ll say is I went into that movie wanting to like it. And I sit here now feeling like I’m a veteran of that war. It’s like Richard Kelly is George W. Bush and I was some dumb kid who supported the Iraq war until I went into the fucker and got my bits and pieces all cut off. Now I’m shell shocked.

But, yeah, there’s The Box, directed by Richard Kelly, starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden, based on the Richard Matheson story, “Button, Button,” and was previously adapted into an episode of The Twilight Zone. We’ll see if I ever see it.

And again, here we are. It’s Sunday. Tomorrow’s the start of the “work week.” I’d love to Weeks In Review here at Counterforce, but lately it’s just me rambling and I’d feel bad directing the two and a half readers of this site back to more of me rambling. Poor fuckers. Oh yeah, the season finale of Mad Men was last Sunday. And we had a Friday the 13th happen this past week as well. There you go. Oh, and: Young women having sex with sea creatures. Now there you really go.

The Doctor hates funny robots.

But again, here we are. It’s Sunday. Let’s see, let’s see, let’s see… Oh! Tonight was the airing of the latest Doctor Who special over in the UK, “The Waters Of Mars,” the start of the end of David Tennant’s run as #10. You can catch it online if you’re good, if you’re very good, and it’s dark. And a bit sad. And leaves you kind of sweaty and breathless too.

Water Monsters! On Mars!

Also tonight is AMC’s remake of the classic 60s show, The Prisoner. I’d watch it, but I’m not sure I want to see my childhood get raped so thoroughly and with such production values. Ian McKellen is a good choice for just about anything, but Jim Caviezel? I think I hate you for that, AMC. Honestly, Jim Caviezel makes Keanu Reeves look like Marlon Brando to me.

You deserve so much better than this, Gandalf.

Oh well, here we are. The weekend’s almost over. I went to the movies to watch the end of the world as we know it and…

What?