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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pizza Rolls: The Only Thing Left to Say About The Star Wars

I've learned too much.  

About Storytelling & Screenwriting because of an @DoctorHooey Prescription.
I need to talk about my Latest Revelation About The Star Wars.
And it ain't funny.  

Because only 2 out of the 6 Star Wars Movies Are Actually Any Good! 

First: "Story" by Robert McKee.  

A fascinating "read" as a film fan.  After reading this a few times, I feel as though I just started all over again being a film fan...or not.  

Jaws holds up.  I saw Jaws at the Brattle with Dr. Hooey & El Post back in November for my Best 40th Birthday Ever! (Yay! :) ) 
Jaws' Sequels Though...Ahem.

So my love of Star Wars has not changed.  Nor has my appreciation for the Myth.  
But as Conan O'Brien, an Harvard educated voice of clear reason stated recently "Myth is the Opposite of Information". A paraphrase at best.  But it's near the end of the 75-minute long Jack White interview that's worth it but iDigress...
Feeling as an adult that the first two movies "Star Wars" and "Empire Strikes Back" were great movies but then something derailed at Return of the Jedi.  
Something Happened.  
That's For Someone Else to Plumb.  
I'll Simply Acknowledge This and Move Forward.  

My newest complaint with Return of the Jedi I guess is This:
Han Solo has the Worst Payoff in Cinematic History.  
Emotionally.  
As a character.  A Vehicle.  
Han in a way is "Us".  Amok all this Crazy Sci-Fi stuff, Han was One Real Human.   
Not a strange kid from the boonies.  Nor his haughty, high-class twin sister.  
Han was more like people I knew than anyone else in the movie.  Making Choices a Human in his situation you can see doing in such a setting.

But Han Solo isn't the Hero of Star Wars?  Anakin Skywalker or Darth Vader is, a Skywalker has to be.  Luke, dammit!  
...Yet Leia got a little shafted too.  

Check it out.  Leia had TWO really good "set-ups" that Did Not Pay Off.  
One: In Empire, "hearing" Luke with the Force at the end, saving his life.
Two: riding the Speeder Bike in the Endor jungle as Luke rode as passenger.
Both scenes...the Girl Skywalker is the Pilot.  Dig?    
I told Dr. Hooey about this: There Could Have Been A Better Ending to Return of the Jedi!!!
I proclaimed this NOT as a Star Wars Nut, simply film fan, now after hearing about logical plot progressions & how reveals happen over the Arc, and hence the Trilogy.  

My Idea was Probably Well-Tread Everywhere, Elsewhere but I thought the Best Ending Would Have Been a huge pay-off for Han Solo, our most Human Character.  Luke & Leia both Human are kinda aloof & not very "me & you"...yet Han Solo?  
OK.  Instead of Nein Numb, have Chewbacca on the Falcon with Lando attacking the 2nd Death Star...and They Don't Make It.  
But It's OKAY...
HAN gets Saved.  By LEIA.  The AT-ST Walker CHEWIE "would have been" driving in the Original Ending is dismantled & falling, right on HAN.  
LEIA instinctively with the Force, with nothing but Love, HOLDS THE WALKER MID AIR with her hands, struggling in front of her.  
LEIA tosses the Chicken Walker aside, exhausted.  This would juxtapose to LUKE's inability to raise the X-WING from the Dagobah swamps because "he did not believe"
HAN, finally SEEING use of the FORCE, finally BELIEVING says "I love you"
LEIA says, "I Know"
Kiss
END SCENE.

This Came to Me in a Flash, all predicated on the McKee I read.  
Just because it Pays Off themes set up in the previous movies.  
Han in the first Star Wars movie says "Kid, I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful force controlling everything. There's no mystical energy field controls my destiny."
Han is NEVER Given the Chance to Turn this Negative into a Positive.  
Han Never Gets to Believe in the Force, even as much as We The Fan do IRL in real life.  
Now as a cognizant film fan I think...whut??  A missed opportunity...what a bad ending.  
Jub-Jub song or Not.  
The sacrifice of Lando, Chewie and the Falcon would have cut Han permanently off from his previous life YET with his new found faith in the FORCE and his love of Leia and their future together, the Movie ends on a series of Positives just for this One Human Anchor.  

Seriously, I can't even name the Theme of each individual Star Wars movies (and heaven fucking help you if you can in the Prequels).  C'mon, really?  Empire's Theme is "Losing Sucks?"  

I'll get off my soapbox now. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Greatest Hits (So Far...): Imaginary Band Name

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pizza Rolls: The Only Things Left to Say About The Star Wars...

Pizza Rolls.
Why "Pizza Rolls"?
Watch to find out...be Enlightened, Be Prepared...I still favor watching THIS over the Prequels but iDigress...
OK...here's my big thought about what should be done with the Disney-owned STAR WARS Property.
Remake both Trilogies as CGI Animation in the Same Artistic Style as the current, mega successful & "Now" defining visual identity for a child, the Clone Wars television serial.
Add all the Cutting Room stuff.  Such as Anakin rescuing the Tuskan in Episode I, the Library scenes in Episode II and Padme's involvement with the nascent Rebellion in Episode III.
Think about it...for the Original Trilogy, keep all the original voice tracks & Ben Burtt sound effects.  Simply "foley" it to a dynamic, new CGI Visual.  Now we're free of the disjointed progression in Episodes!
Sure the forthcoming Episodes VII, VII & IX...well they're forthcoming aren't they!
Haha!
Speaking of "Haha!" My roommate got me an awesome gift for b-day, x-mas & being the best flatmate money can buy.
The Star Wars Science Lightsabre Room Light!
See Behold the Clone Wars tv serial's effect on marketing & packaging.  This is the design & look of that particular show.  The "look" is unique to its own yet This Anakin and That Clone Trooper practically define the "now" to kids everywhere for the past 5 years.  Well...this and its LEGO interpretation which has its own defining aesthetic to co-create the imaginary battlefield for Jedi, Sith & Clone Troopers everywhere in the early 2000s.
I'm gonna hang it above my mediation altar.  I think that's a great place for it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Dark Knight Rises

(2 of 2)

SPOILERS ALERT!
I'm about to get into Christopher Nolan's THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (TDKR).
If you've never seen it, perhaps look away.
Or else you'll be Spoiled.
That is all.

In July 2012, I got into a Spoiler-Free Blog about TDKR after its release.

Now upon its Home Video release, I've given myself the greenlight to go full steam.
I would like to acknowledge this movie's lack of Oscar nominations.
;P  Thhhhbbpt!
That is all.

So...Batman.  Alright.
Before I get into it I need to acknowledge two distinct sources that influenced my view of the movie.
One: Story by Robert McKee.  I listen to it over & over again as an audiobook.
Two: Founded upon all the info I got from "Story" by McKee...
I found this. A Basic Story Map of 2008's THE DARK KNIGHT.  A brilliant, blow-by-blow, turn-by-turn breakdown of a movie.  A Movie I was beginning to find quite tiresome on subsequent viewings.
Yet these sources of info saved the second movie for me.  And in hindsight this movie does come closest to "Empire Strikes Back" in terms of emotional resonance...all the heroes being at their nadir, their lowest point.  And one of the tenets of movie storytelling is this: you have put your protagonist through the Near-Impossible...and then see the choices they make as they solve the situation (or not!).  Thus creating Good Drama.
And once again shall I say how Spoiler-ific this Blog will be.

My revelation & acceptance of the second movie was huge.  I no longer think the end is weak.  I see THE DARK KNIGHT (TDK) as equal to Empire Strikes Back.  I was also enlightened to the fact basically TDK was a story in told in Two Acts (basically 4 mini-acts with a center Gap).
And it made me reflect on "Return of the Jedi" in a fascinating new manner.  In terms of Screenwriting & Storytelling.  Furthermore as a 3rd movie in a Trilogy, TDKR is a Superior Movie to that other cornerstone of geekdom, Jub-Jub Song or Not but iDigress...
TDKR pays off in ways that RoTJ does not.

In my preparation to watch the Finale, I watched the previous two movies BATMAN BEGINS and TDK.  And the first time I've seen TDK since my epiphany with the Basic Story Map.  I'm now gonna lift most of the contents of the first page but I plead to you, read the whole thing.
The Story Map plainly stated the movie's Theme.  Its Central Motivation for all the characters.
The theme for this particular movie is this: "Desperation pushes men to act in self-destructive and chaotic ways".

So I'm going to state to you the Theme of this Third Act in the Batman Trilogy.
"The Truth Will Set You Free".

Seeing the Nolan Batman Trilogy complete was a very satisfactory experience as a fan of the character and as a lover of Good Movies.  As a Now Grown-Up film watcher, I will now go on the Record in saying the Nolan Batman Trilogy is better than the original Star Wars Trilogy.  Why?  Better Ending.  Pays off themes set up in 1st movie and reverses the negative situations the hero was left in at the end of the Second Movie.  Same writer director combo for all three movies.  The only "blip" would have been the Rachel Dawes Angle...hmmmmm...

Interlude 1:  Let's Talk About Rachel Dawes.  Introduced in BATMAN BEGINS (BB), Rachel is the daughter of the Wayne Manor staff, grew up there as well and is the same age as Bruce.  In This Story, They are Best Friends from Childhood and grow into "True Love"...remember this is a movie, simple themes work best in a well-told story (things get complex from simple...that's drama).  Rachel is "New" to the Batman Uber-Story & Mythology.  What happened to your childhood sweetheart is a tale we can all tell, right?  Her blue-collar upbringing, so close to such opulence opened doors, lead to college, law school then Assistant District Attorney.
Listen: Bruce Loses Rachel "Internally" in TDK.  Batman goes into Exile "Externally".
Rachel dies while Harvey, her fiance, is scarred into Two-Face.  See: Rachel chose Harvey over Bruce.  She left a letter for Bruce, intercepted by Alfred, then burned.  Bruce was oblivious to Rachel's Real Choice: Harvey.  And Rachel died in a Joker Death Trap.  Bruce was heart-broken and fell into a deep depression.  Choosing to become a recluse, Howard Hughes-style.  Meeting Selina Eight Years Later got his interest, his juices going again.
Bruce goes forward.  He ends up living life, happily ever after with his new wife, Selina.
That's Life.
And That's Good.  And That's It.  Rachel ended up being a very important character because Rachel was the "Internal" struggle for our hero.  The "external" is always Gotham, Crime & the Big Bad.  There are always 2 Struggles in the Good Batman Story, the Internal & the External.

Bane was a great bad guy.  I loved his establishing scene right in the Cold Open of this movie.  I love his voice.  I love the story behind the voice.  I think I would have come to this conclusion but Bat-Twitter Compatriot @Superherologist (aka Dr. Travis Langley) said that Bane was a mash-up with Ubu and that is spot on.  And this adaptation liberty compliments the story over the trilogy as well.

There is a scene in a Car with Joseph Gordon-Levitt's "Blake" character, Gotham City PD detective and Bruce Wayne, as the destitute Billionaire has been embezzled out of his vast fortune and needs a ride home in the 2nd Act.  It gets better & better after every viewing.  Just Contextually as a Fan...

Why this movie succeeds is that it creates an insular Gotham over three movies, under 9 hours of running time total.  It makes you think, IRL "In Real Life", Batman would be a Phenomenon lasting a few scant years.  It makes sense to pass the baton and to mentor the next worthy champion.  Someone kinda just like you but younger.

Interlude 2: Gary Oldman Did Not Get A Best Supporting Oscar Nomination for playing Jim Gordon.  I am mad over this.  it's the Crux of my Umbrage over this year's Academy Awards.  I loved Jim Gordon.  The only thing missing was a daughter named Barbara & and affair with a colleague named Sarah.  Really.  Gary Oldman has such an amazing career playing everything and anything under the Sun.  Yet his Jim Gordon, evolving over three films, over a pert-near 30 Years of fictional Space/Time.  In the beginning, he's Gotham's One Good Cop; The Only Cop the Batman Can Trust.   In the 2nd Movie, Gordon's the Man in the Middle of Batman & Two-Face since they were all friends once.  By the 3rd Movie, He is firmly Established as the Commissioner Gordon as we're all used to seeing in the Funnybooks & Eijit Boxes.  And he's burdened with his huge secret.
And he mentors Blake too.  The scenes between those two are not to be overlooked for I think those two will be working together for a while...

Here's a LOST reference.  2 actors were in frame at the same time.  The guys who played Goodwin and Richard Alpert, the Congressman & the Mayor respectively.

The Truth Will Set Your Free.  I feel this plays out all over the movie.  I did not read this anywhere.  I interpreted this.

Ironic: Liam Neeson was unavailable to shoot principal photography for Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith in an Act 3 scene as a Blue Ghost talking to Yoda...because he was shooting BATMAN BEGINS!  And Liam Neeson returns as a nightmare/hallucination/perhaps visitation in Act 3 of TDKR.  :)  (PS Dear George Lucas, of all the Special Edition Bullshit over the past pert-near 15 Years, why couldn't you have added that Blue Ghost scene to RoTS...payoff in other movies, hello???)

And This...and this one goes out to @geekyjessica on the Twitters because when the Oscar Noms were announced, she was glad TDKR got shut out.  
;)  Michael Caine.  No Oscar Nod.  Dear Jessica, what I liked Best about the Nolan Batman Trilogy was not only Michael Caine cast as Alfred but the latitude Alfred was allowed to change overall in the story.  By the end, they are estranged all because Alfred admitted to burning Rachel's letter.  Then comes the Pay Off.  The scene at the end.  And we had set-up for this earlier in the film too.  I loved that ending.  It made me think if the Italian waiter got too smarmy or hit on his bride...that Bruce would have thought, "there are 7 ways I could make this guys life Hell, 3 of them Kill, 3 of them Disarm with minimal contact and one of them....Hurt!"

By the End of the movie, we the fans are given closure and hope in the future.  Not of further films but that in our imagination, this story had hope of perpetuating...it has life.  The end is great.  And it's a natural ending to a Batman story.  We rarely get to see this happen.  In the comics, Batman's watch is continually being reset to an early time.  He's currently in his later 20's in the most current of continuity.  We need to make room for more stories.  We need to buck Time's Arrow in the comics and justify the Past creatively.
In this movie, No.
We see a complete passage of Time from Bruce's childhood to Moving Forward in his Grief by not only passing the Bat to another but by healing and letting go of Rachel.

it's the Nicest Batman Story Ever.
:)

Thanks All.

Friday, February 08, 2013

The Comics Gnome POOTS...

Just one of those buzz books.

Do you like Crime Fiction?  
I do.  
It's a guilty pleasure; violent crime fiction.  James Ellroy.  Dasheill Hammett.  James M. Cain.
Gals, Guns and a Gleam in your eye when you kill someone that's got it coming.  
Sheeesh!
Did I just write that?  
Hopefully you can understand these base, evil impulses and dig your own stash of the Noir & The No-Good, Naughty & Nefarious.  

The Buzz in Good Funnybooks is This particular piece.  
First know this name: Darwyn Cooke.  He's a Master Comics Creator.  A writer and an artist.  
Dig This: He Writes the Story (in this case he adapted an existing crime property into a comic), he draws, inks, colors and letters his own work.  And Cooke is someone that help me with the phrase "Puts the 'Whoa!' in Retro" with his look & style.  
A crime tale of betrayal, revenge & not looking back set in 1962 New York City.  
I jokingly referred to it as "Mad Mad Madmen" to Doctor Hooey but iDigress...

Welcome to the World of Richard Stark's PARKER
Adapted by Darwyn Cooke.  In three volumes from IDW Press.  
I got 2 more to go.  I just bought & read the first one from the Kendall Square MIT COOP Bookstore, where I get a surprising amount of trade paperbacks and graphic novel collections when the whim takes me.
So they didn't have Vols. 2 & 3 or I think I'd be reading them and not talking to you about getting one of these for yourself...
Done in a retro style with only one other defining color other than black & white.  
Artsy.  Well-told story.  Deep panels.  Worth the $17.99 for the Vol. 1 softcover.  
The usual suspects are getting this lent to them.  
The Plan...and it goes Horribly Wrong.  
It's exciting!  A real page turner!  
Panels convey motion, emotion and a sense of time, of being there.  
You might know this story already.  Soon to be a Motion Picture staring Jason Statham coming this year but also 1999's "Payback" with Mel Gibson is based on Parker: The Hunter.  
I'll be getting the next 2 volumes as soon as chance allows.  I wish I had them right now!  

Get Thee to a Bookstore Today!  And Get a Funnybook!  
Smooth Storytelling. Great overall, really nailing "it" on all levels.  A treat for the eye, genre and the medium.  What more can I say? More Please?  

The Smoking PUCK!

February 8, 2013

Hello & Welcome to the Smoking PUCK!
My very own Boston-based Blog about the Best Sport any Person can Follow or Play...
Hockey!
Well not everyone can play hockey or will...
But those who can should, right?!? 
Which leads me to a situation we had in Boston until yesterday.

If I could play hockey like these guys, you'd have to kick me off the Ice.
So distilled to the essence: that's why I cannot understand Tim Thomas.
The final chapter in this Beantown Soap Opera of Sports Stars and the Galaxies they inhabit...
Tim Thomas was traded to the New York Islanders for One Conditional 2nd Round Draft Choice.
I am a (born-again) Goalie.  I am a huge fan of Tim Thomas.  His career 'tween the pipes of Causeway Street was the stuff of stories to be told to youth hockey players everywhere...
The Message is Simple: Work Hard.
Heck...I still feel Number #30 should be retired after years pass.  Is Thomas Hall of Fame material? I don't know.  Yet after 21,784 NHL minutes on the ice all in Black & Gold with a .921 Goals Against Average, 2 Vezinas, a Conn Smythe Trophy and helping bringing the Stanley Cup to Boston in 2011...
I wouldn't count it out someday.
Photo from 2008 World Championship...kinda like how I'd like to remember him.  Red White & Blue with a bit of Black & Gold.
We may never know the real reasons for Tim Thomas' self-imposed "Cold Fire".  Did some level of animosity arise from the 2012 Playoffs & The First Round, Game 7, One-Goal Exit?
I can understand professional dysfunction creating personal dissatisfaction and Understand With Complete Empathy.
Will the Tank ever play for the NY Islanders?  Let's Hope So!  Why not?  It is the nature of Sports & their Players to move around.  Very few players spend their entire time with one Club and not every player gets to be that rare legend like Steve Yzerman or Carl Yastrzemski.

And while I'm talking about retiring player numbers and those who truly deserve the honor, my vote has to be for Don Sweeney.  Donny Sweeney played 15 Seasons for the Bruins and most of that time paired on Defense with Ray Bourque.  Sweeney finished his career with the Dallas Stars, playing one season in Texas yet returned to Boston where the Harvard University grad is currently Assistant General Manager.
#32 in my humblest of opinions should have a permanent spot next to #77 in the Rafters interrupting the usual Ordinal progression of retired numerals.

So How is Hockey Season?  Bloody Wonderful!
I usually catch a game on any given night via bootleg IntrePoop!
I can listen to the Bruins on the radio and watch an out-of-town match on the small screen and on the "DL".
Sometimes streams get interrupted and blacked out if found out.
Yet I'm so happy seeing CBC's Hockey Night In Canada's broadcasts more and more, especially the period breaks and seeing the talking head likes of Don Cherry, P.J. Stock and Glenn Healy.
I've yet to break down and get Cable TV in order to watch NHL Hockey from the comfort of my Flat.  All I have to do is plug the cord into the Chromebook, kickback and Just Deal with Occasional Grainy Pixelation and Canadian Commercials (which are quite entertaining such as the faux-Outback restaurant with servers coming over to sing the Breaking Up song to the couple at the deuce with the heart-shaped cake split in two but iDigress...)
God Bless Canada!

Coming Soon: Hockey Night In Boston!  It is time to go back to the Gahh-den.  I feel like a Salmon ...

Monday, February 04, 2013

xkcd

"Expedition"
xkcd

This one is for Doctor Hooey ;)