Weekly Churn 002: Comics

Ahoy! This is the Weekly Churn, where every Sunday I post about what I’ve been reading, watching, and thinking about over the previous week. This week I thought a lot about comic books. I swear most Weekly Churn posts aren’t going to be as long as this one. I’ve been a comics nerd for as long as I can remember. I don’t know what my first books were; likely some Garfield collections. I have a distinct memory of asking my father for one at Harley’s grocery store and him telling me that I could get colouring books cheaper somewhere else. I was an Archie fiend for years, first glomming on to Dan DeCarlo’s depictions of Betty and Veronica, and then slowly acknowledging that Harry Lucey’s work was superior, although there have been a number of other fine artists to work on Archie over the years. I can’t say I’ve ever… Continue Reading

Community Without Dan Harmon

As a fan of Community, it’s been a week of ups and downs. First there were rumours of cancelation, trotted out like the reliable workhorses they proved to be when the show was put on mid-season hiatus. And then we got the reprieve; thirteen more episodes, but getting moved to Fridays starting in June of all months. Whatever, we could live with it. But now this: Dan Harmon is no longer going to be Community‘s showrunner. I never even bothered to learn his actual title. It’s probably Executive Producer; it usually is with these things. The announcement says he will be staying on as a Consulting Producer, which appears to be network code for being paid to stay home and keep his mouth shut. Given how integral Harmon is to Community—even people who acknowledge that he’s a poor manager or otherwise have conflicts with him call him the “soul” of… Continue Reading

Looking Ahead to 2012

I don’t do resolutions. Not because it’s a cliché; I sometimes think those are all right. Rather it’s because I just don’t ever stick to them. Things happen, blah blah blah. I could give you excuses, but that’s how things wind up going. So, inspired by Adrienne’s post (and obviously aping her post title) I’m going to say a few words about what I hope the new year has in store. First of all, I’m going to get a new job. This really isn’t optional, since I’ve just been freelancing since August (and I’m definitely going to be doing more of that; I’ve already been doing some freelance editing this year, and I’ve been back from the holidays for less than a week), but at this point anyway, it’s not paying the bills. I’m trying to keep optimistic, but this is honestly going to be simultaneously the hardest and the… Continue Reading

Guilty Pleasures

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. Six years of studying literature at the university level taught me many things, and perhaps the most important thing it taught me is something that seems obvious in retrospect, but that most people have difficulty applying in their daily lives: not everything you like is good, and not everything you dislike is bad. We don’t need to feel guilty or ashamed because we like something we know is not necessarily of the highest quality. Still, most of us, myself included, fall into that trap from time to time. For literary folks, especially here in Canada, guilty pleasures often come in the form of genre fiction, like romance, science fiction, or fantasy (though, strangely, mysteries tend to be pretty accepted). When our writers produce works that would fall into those categories, our inner snobs emerge to label them “dystopias” or “magic realist” or some other… Continue Reading

Review: Ultraviolet

Well. I’m almost speechless. Let’s just start with the verdict and work from there. Ultraviolet is the second-worst film I have ever seen. The worst was Batman & Robin. The only reason I didn’t walk out was because, let’s face it, Milla Jovovich’s rear-end displayed ten feet high in glorious digital is not something you get to see every day. After this tragedy I am now confident that Kurt Wimmer is not a filmmaker, he is a fashion designer. The only compelling thing about this film was the costuming, which was astonishingly good. Equilibrium was alright, but certainly not the brilliant film that many college-aged viewers hail it as. But it was fairly well put together. Ultraviolet was not. The opening action sequence was so poorly animated that I kept expecting to actually be able to see wires or the green screen or something. Wimmer employed the soft-focus technique, although… Continue Reading

Critic’s Other Corner

In connection with my last post, I’d like to draw your attention to Joe Morgenstern’s essay in the Wall Street Journal on how the critic’s perspective differs from that of an ordinary viewer, not because of specialized training or a certain background (although those are factors as well), but rather because of the timing; critics see these movies before the hype machines have really started to roll. We see them after.

Critic’s Corner

The Morning News has a great little entry on bad reviews of films that were otherwise much lauded. Read it, and read it now. With Crash taking the Best Picture award this year I very nearly lost all faith in American cinema. This review says almost everything about the film that I could possibly want to say. (“Contrived, obvious and overstated, Crash is basically just one white man’s righteous attempt to make other white people feel as if they’ve confronted the problem of racism head-on.”). Crash was horribly obvious. In fact, I think the only way it could have been more obvious is if Paul Haggis had actually stood behind me in the cinema and screamed “I’m dealing with racism!” while striking me on the head with a book about racism. Not to mention that the cinematography and editing of this film made it very clear that Paul Haggis wants… Continue Reading

Don’t Panic

This entry is perhaps a bit late, but there was a major personal crisis in my life, and I was unable to work for a time. I saw the recent adaptation of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on opening night, at one of the tremendously over-priced Silver City cinemas owned and operated by Famous Players. The critics had prepared me for the extra material, and Sam Rockwell had already leaked a tremendous amount about what he was “going for” in his portrayal of Zaphod Beeblebrox. Those things, coupled, of course, with my prior experiences as a fan of the radio show, novels, and BBC television series, obviously made it difficult for me to go into the cinema without any kind of expectations. The opening sequence was stupid. The “So Long and Thanks For All the Fish” song was clever and funny, the cinematography and editing were both top… Continue Reading

Sundry Things

Thing the first: I just returned from my first screening of The Two Towers, and while reactions to this film have been overwhelmingly positive, I have mixed feelings. One of the strengths of the first film was how closely it followed the book(s), with the possible exception of Tom Bombodil, who is a delightful character, but ultimately serves a function unnecessary to the film. At the same time, the actors were allowed to do their jobs, which is to create believable characters through, well, acting. The Two Towers does not follow the book quite so closely, particularly with the addition of the scenes with Liv Tyler. I think this is a good thing, because it humanizes the relationship (and its potential problems) between Aragorn and the Horse-Princess, and makes Aragorn’s moral dilemma quite sharp in our minds. We feel for these characters in ways the book does not allow us.… Continue Reading