It’s hard to give off sexy vibes in a Wendy’s

Three movies big 2012 movies, none of them Django Unchained.

The Hobbit-An Unexpected Journey

Peter Jackson, 2012

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The success of The Lord of the Rings movies are that they were able to cut and reshape a dearth of text into three movies with form and momentum and though I don’t love them (I like them fine but I don’t need to see them again) I respect them.  I’m a believer that you can get more from cutting than adding…Peter Jackson has very much gone the other way. This is a guy who made “King Kong” 3 hours, if ever there was something that was made to be 90 minutes long it’s that.  The Hobbit is that kind of bloated and it will be that bloated two more times.  I was talking to somebody and said I didn’t care for this but I’d be back for the next one.  She asked me why I would do that.  I had nothing.

“Less is only more when more is no good.”

Frank Lloyd Wright

Skyfall

Sam Mendes, 2012

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Of the 23 James Bond movies that count (whatever) I only think 5 or 6 of them are actually good and the rest can be dismissed to that land where I’m not bothered they exist but don’t bug me about them.  Those 5 or 6 however I think are REALLY good and a couple are favorite movie status.  This squeaks in the bottom of that list by being technically accomplished and well-done all around. The stuff in Hong Kong with the window reflections genuinely wowed me by being something Seijun Suzuki would do. Daniel Craig made me feel inadequate about my body which is the correct feeling.  And it is Dark Knight James Bond and that’s fine because its really the only other pre-existing character that could map onto (certainly not Superman) It falls flat on its face in the last five minutes because it doesn’t trust the audience to draw easy conclusions or try to deliver those conclusions in any sort of naturalistic way.  For the victory lap it was taking I can understand why it was done just not why it was done so badly.  It wasn’t the most heavy handed thing I saw though because I saw…

Lincoln

Steven Spielberg, 2012

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A movie that constantly gets in its own way.  The part at the beginning where he talks to the soldiers at the end is terrible.  Not because it couldn’t happen in real life because it could but because it shouldn’t happen in a movie in 2012.  It only serves the purpose of setting up that anytime Lincoln opens his mouth in this movie it’s to tell you the meaning of the movie (slavery bad.)  All the stuff around it about the house of representatives and the vote buying and the weighing of ending the war right away versus getting the 13th amendment passed, the stuff with James Spader and Sol Star is excellent…all the scenes without Lincoln really.  More times than not it all grinds to a halt when Lincoln is around. Dealing with Joseph Gordan-Levitt’s dull storyline and more of Spielburg’s daddy issue stuff (I’m sick of daddy stuff in movies and other things I consume) or with Sally Field complaining about being thought of as crazy but is nothing but crazy in the movie.  And the end…I could go on a long thing but this sums it up succinctly.

-Daniel Von Egidy, 2013

Julia Holter-Ekstasis (or “I’m not coming up with goofball titles for short posts like these”)

This is a fabulously breathy record.  Between sections of plucky pop and chamber electronica Holter is doing some breathing exercise style singing that makes her crystalline beats a lived in space. Here’s the best of the record. Goddess Eyes II which begins with her electronically coded voice peeling away till it’s just her. It should be too clever by half but her voice is just tender enough, just authentic enough, the chant so perfectly and simply constructed that she pulls it off.

-Daniel Von Egidy, 2012

Year End of the Year 2: Comics

At this point quite a few “Best of” lists for comics have come out.  What I have to pick and what I have to say about them will not be shockingly different but I’m going to go for it anyway. I will point out here at the start that the fourth Love and Rockets: New Stories is not on this list because I haven’t read it or obtained it yet but I can say with all confidence that if I had that it would be on this list. So officially unofficially just go ahead and count it everybody. Away we go.

Daredevil

Mark Waid, Paolo & Joe Rivera, Marcos Martin, Marvel Comics

This sucker is on everybody’s list because it deserves to be.  It’s so shockingly classic, old-school refreshment.  Mark Waid is on the game that he was hitting when Wieringo was drawing the Flash or whenever he writes Captain America.  The plotting is airtight and dense with incident. The characters are individuals with clear motivations. Every issue stands on its own. You could pick up the middle chapter of either of the two three-parters that have been published to date and be able to get into effortlessly, because every issue could be somebody’s first everybody.  The Rivera’s and Martin, if accolades were cargo on a ship the ship would sink from weight.  This art is gorgeous Rivera is clean and concise with ink lines that manage to look like pen and brush simultaneously. It’s like John Romita Sr.’s spirit traveled through time from 1968 and possessed this dude’s body.  Rivera was the surprise here, we’ve all known for a long time that Martin was special and the moment you see him the clock starts ticking for the day when he moves away from the dregs of big two publishing and goes  Mazzucchelli all over our asses.

Batwoman

J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman, Dave Stewart, DC Comics

I’m not going to talk about the art. The art is stunning, a foregone conclusion, even when the layouts don’t quite work I appreciate the ambition of them.  The biggest trade up is that Williams has opted for a much slinkier, dripping with sex aesthetic in the new series. Batwoman is a sexy book. What I like about this and what I liked about the original run in Detective Comics was that all this gorgeous art was wrapped around pretty trope-tastic, unassuming, superhero plot lines   Batwoman’s secret identity is constantly in danger, she’s a little over her head, she keeps screwing up her romances, and can’t move past the tragedy of her origins.  Surprise this is the most engaging Spider-Man comic since 1987!

Journey into Mystery

Kieron Gillen, Dougie Braithwaite, Whilce Portacio, Richard Elson, Marvel Comics

Kieron Gillen is a talented motherfucker.  Journey into Mystery’s scripts are so engaging, Neil Gaiman minus coyness, that he could overcome one of Marvel’s jive-ass numbering/retitling scenes, losing Dougie Braithwaite for Whilce Portacio halfway through, and Shit Itself (also known as Fear Itself too few who care now.)  I wanna see how the puzzle fits together, I wanna see Loki not get busted and also get busted. I’m in this long game.

Captain America: Gulag (Captain America #616-619)

Ed *never gonna leave Cap* Brubaker, Butch *I ❤ Steranko* Guice, Chris *I’ll be Darwyn Cooke in 10 years* Samnee, Mike *sigh* Deotado,  and Bettie *Godaymn!* Breitweiser, Marvel *Sorry for Fear Itself we shouldn’t bring it up again* Comics

This shouldn’t have worked. Three artists who don’t look even a little bit alike stylistically working on a story that had a much better ending stolen from it by Shit Itself (I don’t care how cordial what Brubaker says they fucked him out of his “Bucky fakes an ignominious death in Russian prison”ending.)  That said this ended up being a tight little conspiracy section full of everybody trying to fuck the heroes over and wins that were only technical at best.

Hellboy-The Fury

Mike Mignola, Duncan Fergredo, Dave Stewart

There finally came a day when if somebody says “Nobody drew Hellboy better than Mignola” the other person at this here social could say legit, “I think Fergredo did.”  Cause Fergredo matched Mignola’s tightness and shadows and beat him at scale.  Mignola could never draw “The Fury” as is, he would’ve had to lower the boom a bit to match his claustrophobic scale.  But that’s all supposings, what happened is that Mike Mignola tied together the mythology of fifteen years of publishing, of apocalyptic armies he wouldn’t want to draw gathering  and then boiled it down to one last monster fight, a good finish. However for all the craft on display it was the ad for what comes next that put this over the top, Mignola’s self-described “retirement comic”.

Habibi

Craig Thompson, Pantheon

In terms of that “Asterios Polyp” big project in 2011 (what was 2010’s, I’m blanking) it was a toss up between this and Chester Brown’s “Prostitutes Like It, I Need to Cummmmmmm” this was sure the one I read it. It gets by on density and ridiculously skilled cartooning.  It’s a little too rapey, a little too precious, a little too full of impossible love. Amazing to look at but hard for me to love it made me think, “get him a writer to polish this up and we could have something”.  Would you call this fainted with damned praise?

Prison Pit Book 3

Johnny Ryan, Fantagraphics

I found out that Prison Pit is supposed to last for six books.  So when it comes to Book 3 Ryan smartly sidesteps the escalation of the first two books by introducing a new character and plot for most of this one and taking Cannibal Fuckface’s story to a different place then I think any of us would have figgered.  This might be weird but it reminded me of “Beneath the Planet of the Apes”.  Charlton Heston shows up mostly at the end and the whole middle is James Franciscus fighting radioactive mutants and only some apes.  I might of lost the thread on the comparison here.

-Daniel Von Egidy, 2011

The Year End of the Year 1

Freeeeeee content as I call it. Best of lists and the like, knock out and punchy and fun to write and good after the last 6 months or so of pretty shitty and infrequent blogging (remember that Ann Nocenti Daredevil thing? I’m still gonna do that.  It’s gotta stuck in a pile with real life and things I’ve read more recently.)  Comics and Albums “Best ofs” and youtube playlist of my favorite songs from 2011 because I don’t know how to do it a better or professional way.  2012 will hopefully be the year I get this fucking thing together everybody though I don’t know why it should be.

-Daniel Von Egidy, 2011 and on

Love (Can Make You Happy)

The Producers

Mel Brooks, 1968

This is definitely the most character-based comedy I’ve seen from Brooks.  This still has all the trademarks of Brooks, gay jokes, goy jokes, slapstick, curvy young foxes, and silly songs.  It doesn’t go outside the realm of it narrative, its not parody or at least obvious parody like the rest of Brooks output so it doesn’t have to homage or poke fun at convention, the movie has an internal consistency that none of his other movies have.  Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom are probably the most well-defined characters Brooks has ever had.  Their personalities and motivations are set-up and well-defined and they seem to have had a life before the beginning of the movie.  Bloom is a depressed, neurotic nothing itching for the chance at excitement and Bialystock is a failure and a swindler and the look in his eyes when he hears Bloom’s idea to steal the budget is incredible. This new level of greed he’s never thought of before. These guys are so likable though that it’s easy to go along on their moral slip-n-slide with them. It’s just too damn fun.  These are characters that want something(money), go after it, and if they fail they’re fucked and all the comedy comes from that rather than gag upon gag till the movie stops.  Not that I don’t like those movies, I love those movies, but it’s a shame Brooks didn’t try more like this.  A great movie about greedy jerks.

Murder by Decree

Bob Clark, 1979

A movie with the premise of “Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper” starring Christopher Plummer and James Mason should be one awesome flick.  “Murder by Decree” has its moments but never quite gels.  Plummer’s enthusiastic Holmes is interesting to watch even when he slips out of his minimal British accent.  Though Holmes here is really emotional.  This is like Bob Haney Sherlock Holmes. He has a social conscience, slaps authority figures, and tears up at injustice.  I’m a Holmes fan and this was just odd for me.  Better than Downey Jr. and his sexy Holmes but not quite right either (Jeremy Brett and Peter Cushing.)  James Mason who is usually pretty awesome at everything he ever does including crap seems very under utilized here and at times can’t seem to hide his boredom with the material.  This borrows a lot from “Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution” and so if you’ve seen “From Hell” (I haven’t read the book so I’m a bad comic book fan fuck me) you know how this is gonna turn out.

-Daniel Von Egidy, 2011

Hall & Oates & Zeppo

The Walkmen-You & Me/Lisbon (2008/2010)

 

“Red Moon” came on an episode of “Breaking Bad” and The Walkmen popped back into my mind grapes.  This is a band that lives in that Yo La Tengo territory of knowing what it is exactly that they do, do it very well, and it never gets boring. That’s called consistency everybody and I admire the hell out of it.

Wilco-The Whole Love

The first four songs and the closer are the best aspects of “A Ghost is Born” and “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” smashed together. Experimental in a way that is non-offputting and fantastically hooky like Wilco knows how to be.  The rest is standard Wilco filler that would’ve come from any of their last few albums but the spread of them all in a row without high points to break them up is troublesome.

Mates of State-Mountaintops

The opener is the feel good song that is going to get people through the early autumn.  Fantastic fluff feel good cuteness for those who have the stomach for such things (which I do.)

Smith Westerns-Dye it Blonde

This is one of the times when I wish I had encyclopedic knowledge of music so I could drop reference bombs all about who these guys sound like and be the cool.  But I can’t do that and that’s my failure as a person for picking comic books over music as the “thing I know about.”  These guys should tour with Japandroids.

Stockholm Belongs to Us-A Labrador Record Compilation

Free on Amazon. The Swedish know how to craft super lush pop songs.

-Daniel Von Egidy, 2011