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.

“He does watercolors. Mostly landscapes, but a few nudes.”

I’m excited to talk about Cloud Atlas with Benjie on this week’s episode of the podcast, but I recently (and finally) saw Safety Not Guaranteed and Moonrise Kingdom as well, which Benjie had already seen, so maybe we’ll get to talk about those as well…

And (obviously) I just discovered my new favorite silly mash up tumblr of the moment, Kanye Wes Anderson. I’m a little late to the party on this one, but enjoying it. Both of these guys live in such a precious and stylized little world, so why wouldn’t they mesh together perfectly?

That said, I sincerely hope that after this we can take a break on these mash ups and amalgamations.

Anyway, if you haven’t checked it out in a while, check out the podcast, Time Travel Murder Mystery.

And, until next time: 63 posts to go.

Hunted by your future. Haunted by your past.

I’m not going to say a lot about Looper here, probably because I’m presuming that Benjie and I will talk about it on the next episode of the podcast. But I share a few very brief, very unnecessary comments…

Like, for example: I really liked this movie.

I really liked Brick, and I really liked The Brothers Bloom prior, so I went into this movie expecting to like it, plus it’s Rian Johnson dealing with time travel, which is one of my favorite sci fi devices, and it features Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the young exciting actor that I think everyone’s rooting for these days, right? So me liking this is not all that shocking, but this is a vastly different movie than Johnson’s previous films.

Brick was amazing, and as much as I liked its indie polish and the cleverness of transporting film noir into a typical American high school setting, I was more dazzled by the dialogue. That is a movie that is entranced by and enthralling in its dance to the music of words.

And The Brothers Bloom was also incredibly clever, playing with the style of films from eras past, making them modern, but never losing the cleverness of those tropes. But the movie was a bit precious, a bit twee, if you will, which the same argument could be made for Brick as well.

But then there’s Looper, which feels… a little more grounded, a little more hardcore, a little more mature, perhaps. This film is essentially a very geeky and more humanistic remake of parts of The Terminator, and then it turns into a western. On the past two episodes of the podcast, Benjie and I were discussing the various different forms of time travel out there, and one of the many things I like about Looper is that it is the perfect example of time travel in the movies. Is it the most realistic, the most accurate as far as dealing with cause and effect and the danger of paradoxes? No. But it is exactly what you want to see in a movie. It is a wonderful example of Time Travel In A Visual Medium.

And are there plot holes? (Or loopholes?) Yes, of course. But aren’t plot holes a constant in any movie featuring time travel? Aren’t they almost a requirement?

Also in film law correlation, but with spoilers: No one can touch Bruce Willis in psuedo-hero mode. This is the third time where he’s played a character who’s encountered a younger version of himself, and all of his bullets hit his targets and none of his foes’ bullets can hit him. The only thing that can stop him when he’s in Terminator mode is temporal murder/suicide.

(Also, loved that this is the first film to address Willis’ male pattern baldness realistically.)

Rian Johnson has now done movies featuring murder mysteries, con men, and also time travel. Some of the absolute favorite types of stories, at least to this nerd. Perhaps we can change the name of the podcast to Time Travel Murder Mystery Sexy Confidence Man Shenangians.

Or, more importantly, aren’t you dying to know what Johnson will dabble in next? As much word of mouth as this filmmaker gets, and more so lately in the advance buzz leading up to Looper‘s release, he still doesn’t get enough. He’s doing it incredibly subtly, but I like to think that Johnson is literally crafting some of the genre cinema of the future, and people aren’t paying nearly enough attention.

In the past week, Peter Jackson has publicly  proclaimed his love for Doctor Who and his desire to direct an episode and the moronic world at large has celebrated this and the BBC is seemingly now going to move Heaven and Earth to make that happen. Sigh. Whatever. This is the same week that Rian Johnson has also declared his love for the show and the desire to do an episode (the same for Game Of Thrones), and that seems all that more intriguing and exciting to me. I don’t watch Breaking Bad, but I hear the episodes he directed of it were pretty impressive, at least visually.

I’m not going to talk about the prosthetics that poor JGL was saddled with once they cast Bruce Willis in the film, except to say that JGL is an actor who can clearly thrive despite them, and you have to admire a film that is that committed to its set up to force such a thing on its lead.

Anyway, I’m saying more here than I intended, and plenty that I’ll probably repeat in a few days time (it’s like looking into the future, that). Oh, one last tidbit that I don’t want to leave out…

It’s fascinating that Shane Carruth was involved in the visual effects of this film, especially considering that he’s done probably the most mind bendingly accurate time travel movie ever, Primer. Probably a big contributor to why the effects looked as good as they did considering how low this film’s budget was.

from here.

Anyway. This was all inelegantly put down, I know, but I didn’t want to let the time pass without me saying something about Looper here, doing so with a bunch of pictures, or doing it without a few time travel puns. Go see the movie if you haven’t already, and then, even though time travel hasn’t been invented yet, go back to the theater and see it again. The person sitting in the dark there next to you might just be you, from either the past or the future.

Imagine the fire.

It’s so weird to live in a post-The Dark Knight Rises world…

What is the next big movie/event/thing to come to our lives? At least in a pop culture sense, I mean. I’m very curious to see The Master, but that is not nearly the same thing, of course.

This is just a digression, of course, but I think it goes to show you: savor the expectations and the moments where you’re left waiting, desperate to will the hands on the clock to move faster. Spoiler: I really liked The Dark Knight Rises, it met all my expectations and then some, but I also enjoyed those times in my life when I had not yet seen it, that all I had was the imagined storylines and scenes in my head, when I just had the curiosity and that unbridled enthusiasm. What I have now is no better (well, it’s probably better) nor worse, but different.

Anyway. That’s a story for another time.

Also, I’m clearly going to use a ton of Batman pictures in this post. This is nothing new on Counterforce, but all the same…

Deal with it.

Also, a few entries ago, WordPress greeted me with this beautiful sight after I hit the “post” button:

For some reason that image has stuck with me. Stuck with me beyond me screencapping it, I mean. And it has stuck with me for a lot of reasons, I think… But that is a story for another time, a long story, and right now I do not have the time to make it shorter.

Anyway.

Just wanted to give you a heads up: The Counterforce podcast is over.

We’re not finished podcasting, and this site isn’t done, no, not just yet, but in a few days you’re going to see something new and different from us.

I’m sure not many folks out there care, which is fine because I care and that’s all that I need, but I like that for at least another day or two it’ll remain a mystery. As much as I would like to travel through time to get to that place, I’m thankful to be here in this place right now, dreaming of the future. If that makes sense.

I think/hope it does.

I’ll just say this… A new site and a new podcast. Somewhat the same, but a little bit different…

Dusty in space.

Last week it was time machines made human and the king of all dreams and stories and Michael Sheen and bubble universes and other good and fun stuff on Doctor Who. This week we take a step back and go a little more gothic with dark castles in the future and lightning strikes and doppelgangers and “The Rebel Flesh” brought to life!

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The cosmic fart.

Speaking of time travel, this is awesome:

That’s a short film entitled Ollie Klublershturf vs. the Nazis, written by Lost‘s Damon Lindelof and directed by Skot Bright. It features a few famous faces such Chris Hemsworth (who’s now Thor in Thor, and was Kirk’s dad in the Star Trek reboot), George Segal, Rachel Nichols, Norman Reedus, and Samm Levine. IO9 posted it the other day and I was excited because I hadn’t actually realized it had been produced. It’s about a little boy genius who invented a time machine and is trying to stop the Nazi scum who’ve infiltrated his family dinner in an attempt to steal his device. It’s silly but good fun.

Anyway, I had heard of it before because I remembered reading an interview with Lindelof about the origin of his being paired with J.J. Abrams to write the Lost pilot, which ABC gave them after it let go of Jeffrey Lieber (but kept his initial concept about a group of strangers crash landing on a mysterious island, hence his name appearing as one of the creator’s of the show). The gist of the story is essentially that Abrams was intrigued by the idea, and already had a deal in place with the network, but didn’t really want to do it on his own, so he needed to find another writer to work with and whom he could work with. Along came Lindelof, with the script for this short film being his audition piece, and history was made.

The legs, the nose, and Mrs. Robinson.

This is a Doctor Who post.

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