Yearly Archives: 2011

Songs of Hate, Part Two: The Visual Instead Of The Verbal | The Nail That Sticks Out

We left off last column with a run-down on the first of actress/singer Meiko Kaji’s Female Prisoner Scorpion series and a hint that things were about to get pretty weird. Well, the phantasmagoria goes full bore in the second film in the series, Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (Joshuu Sasori – Dai 41 Zakkyobo). Filmed, like its predecessor, in 1972, here Nami Matsushima, aka Sasori (scorpion), is pretty much fully transformed into something supernatural and, like Lee Marvin’s Walker/Parker in Point Blank, begins to haunt the minds of all who’ve wronged her. She even transcends time and space through some stunningly psychedelic timeshifts and edits. At one point, as Sasori hacks away at her foe, she literally slashes through the “screen”, taking us to a different environment.  It’s completely, beautifully bonkers.

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The Kindly Ones Part 3 | Sandman Meditations

sandman

The sadness of Hob Gadling is, for me, among the most poignant recurring elements of The Sandman. In the third part of The Kindly Ones, Hob’s sadness stands in counterpoint to Lyta’s growing anxiety and, then, horror and hatred.

Previously, we have learned that all lives are brief, but what we learn now is that the pain of death comes from those lives suddenly losing synchronization. As Hob stands at Audrey’s grave, he says, “I thought we’d have longer.” This is what anyone who loses a loved one is likely to feel. I and some of my closest friends all lost parents when we were at very different ages, and yet our feelings of that experience were more similar than different. Prolonged illness may dull the response to death a bit as we feel grateful that the sufferer is no longer in pain, but even in those circumstances where we feel relieved to reach the end, the combination of death and love collapses time. We always think we’ll have longer.

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Kaoru Mori’s A Bride’s Story… Stripp’d

If you wander around a second hand book shop and start leafing through old history textbooks you will rapidly notice that history used to be nothing but stories about men with beards and top hats. Looking back on this state of affairs, we can now see that one of the reasons for this is that people naturally tend to gravitate towards stories that interest them on a personal level. Because of this, bearded men wound up writing books about other bearded men to the point where history became nothing but a collection of stories about bearded men (with or without top hats). This pattern did not change until the demographics of university education began to change and an influx of non-white, non-male students created a generation of non-white, non-male historians who reached professional maturity in the 1960s.

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The Kindly Ones: Part 2 | Sandman Meditations

The second chapter of The Kindly Ones develops two stories: the story of Lyta, who has now called the police because of her missing son, and the story of Cluracan and Nuala, who have gained Dream’s permission for Nuala to leave the Dreaming and return to Faerie.

But I’m not going to write about any of that.

We’re still just starting this story, and so I’m going to pause and discuss something tangential, though it begins with this story. Or, rather, it begins with me deciding not to read this story in a particular setting.

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Putting it in ‘Top Gear’ |Geek Girl Navigating the World

I’m not a gearhead.  I’m not even close to qualifying.  My own vehicle is old and kind of shabby, but it has a name and it’s functional, so I’m pretty happy with that.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate the beauty of a car, or that I don’t look at newer (and older) cars from time to time.  I still don’t like the way the new Dodge Chargers look because that back end is just ugly.  The new Dodge Challengers, though, are something else, entirely.  I think those are gorgeous. While I hold those opinions, I’m a casual car enthusiast at best.  As long as the car starts and gets me where I want to go, that’s really all that matters to me.

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Songs of Hate: Meiko Kaji and Female Prisoner Scorpion (Part One) – The Nail That Sticks Out

She sold over a million albums, her films inspired much of Kill Bill, and when she didn’t want to do what she was asked of by executives, she said uh-uh and split for greener pastures. Her name is Meiko Kaji. Possessed with a confidence and an intensity that saw her type-cast as one of Japan’s toughest bad girls, Meiko’s beauty and fierce you’re-a-fucking-dead-man stare, framed by tresses of long jet-black hair (frequently shot in weirdly-angled extreme close-up), has made her a global cult film icon.

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The Kindly Ones: Prologue & Part 1 | Sandman Meditations

The prologue to The Kindly Ones contains an image that is pure pornography for someone like me: an endless library. A library of books not written, of books that authors and readers have only dreamed. We’ve seen it before in The Sandman, and come to recognize the librarian, Lucien, but it is here in Kevin Nowlan’s art that the wondrous scope of the place is most enticing to me. We see Lucien standing at the top of a library ladder, pillars of shelves all around him, floors of stacks leading to the unseen, infinite horizon. There’s an M.C. Escher quality to the image, given all the symmetrical lines. We might imagine that the stairs of one floor lead in a loop to the stairs of another floor, creating an ouroboric space without entrance or exit. There’s a particularly wonderful detail in the image: the bottom right corner of the panel shows a cluster of books lying as if on the top of a shelf. They’re in the foreground of the picture, tantalizingly close to us, all come-hither look and attitude of, Hey big boy, don’t you just wish you could open me up and have a peek…

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DR. NO |The James Bond Zapiska

I’ll say it, and I don’t care who hears it: I love James Bond.  I love the style, the intrigue, the gadgets, the barely plausible villains.  I love dang near everything about Ian Fleming’s super-spy.  From the first time I was ever exposed to Bond as a kid, I was hooked.  I liked the fact that he was a hero that could control world events from sort of a behind-the-scenes position.  The stakes were high and slightly ridiculous.  He was a secret agent with a quick, resourceful mind, not a Schwarzenegger-esque action hero with ridiculous muscles and a huge, phallic machine gun nestled into his elbow.

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Worlds’ End: ‘WORLDS’ END’| Sandman Meditations

Worlds’ end and words’ ends; end as conclusion and end as purpose. We’ve reached the finishing line of this story arc, and the stories within stories reveal by the last page what seems to be their outer shell.

This conclusion does what the best conclusions do: it ties up some loose ends while heightening the overall sense of mystery. We might say we like stories that have clear, unambiguous endings, but do we? Depends on the we, I suppose. No-one who likes such endings is likely to last through many Sandman volumes.

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J. EDGAR Is Leo’s Show, All The Way | Movie Review

It struck me as I was watching J. Edgar that as much as I enjoy James Ellroy’s work and how funny I find his depiction of Hoover in his Blood’s a Rover, it actually is a really cartoony version of the guy.  Ellroy kinda does that a lot, and that’s fine, as not only do I like cartoons a lot, it was also Ellroy’s mission in his “Underworld U.S.A.” trilogy to deflate the images of these men that have defined 20th century American history.  Clint Eastwood’s film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, also seeks to do this, but in a much more subtle way, which also still ends up (in my eyes, anyway) severely discrediting the man who created the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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Geek Girl Navigating the World – SUPERNATURAL will top my list for a long, long time

I am kind of a TV junkie.  I’ll admit that.  There are several shows that I watch frequently and have a tendency to recommend to anyone who’ll hold still long enough to express even the barest hint of interest.  There are also several shows that I have purchased in their entirety on DVD.  For a long time, if I were asked what my favorite show was, I wouldn’t have been able to name one.

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Murder, Sex, and True Fake Crime in Sion Sono’s Guilty of Romance – The Nail That Sticks Out

“Oishi sausage des!”

–Sion Sono, Guilty of Romance

Okay, hands up if you know what a love hotel is? Yeah, right, feel free to skip ahead.

For those who don’t:

A love hotel is basically a venue that you pay for by the hour to go and have sex with someone. They are frequently themed and full of weird shit (I once spent the night in a room with a cage over the bed and manacles bolted to the bathroom wall). It’s essentially an industry built on infidelity, which in Japan is almost as common as a hot meal, so it’s a smart industry at that. Anyway, picking up from last time, Sion Sono’s true crime-ish Guilty of Romance is loosely based on a love hotel murder in Shibuya. We open with detective Kazuko Yoshida (Miki Mizono) arriving at the grisly crime scene where a body has been found and several limbs have been replaced with mannequin parts. The film flashes backwards and forwards from there as the events leading up to the murder unfold alongside the autopsy and detective work.

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Worlds’ End: “Cerements” | Sandman Meditations

The word necropolis etymologically means “city of the dead”, but its everyday definition is “cemetery” or “burial ground”. In the penultimate chapter of Worlds’ End, the necropolis of Litharge is more literal — a city built from the dead and devoted to the dead, a metropolis of morticians.

It’s an evocative, strangely beautiful idea. Certainly, it’s efficient: with all the corpses and their detritus contributing to the creation and maintenance of the city (once the appropriate rituals have been attended to), Litharge provides a model of sustainability, with one of the best recycling programs in all the Sandman stories.

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DC: THE NEW FRONTIER… Stripp’d

dc new frontier

0. Looking Back in order to Move Forward

One of the more interesting developments in superhero comics has been the growing popularity of comics that take familiar characters and transplant them into unfamiliar historical contexts. Though this type of postmodern speculative exercise has been around in one form or another since the Silver Age, the current vogue has its roots in Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola’s Gotham by Gaslight (1989), an ‘elseworld’ that took Batman and reinvented him as a steampunk vigilante battling Jack the Ripper in a turn of the Century Gotham City. Other attempts at historical re-potting include Superman’s reinvention as a Soviet tyrant in Mark Millar’s Superman: Red Son (2003) and Neil Gaiman’s Marvel 1602 (2003), which transplanted the entire Marvel universe to Elizabethan England.

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5 TV Crime Show Crossovers That Must Happen

There are top-rated crime shows every season these days, with something illegal to appeal to anybody somewhere on the airwaves. Whether it’s the tone, the characters or the narrative, the diverse range of crime storytelling hits chords with all kinds of viewing markets.

It’s our contention that some of these chords must intertwine, and make sweet, sweet TV love with each other. Or, more likely, make an absolute disaster of a show that would be too ridiculous not to watch.

These are those 5 TV Crime Show Crossovers That Must Happen.

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Johnny Depp’s THE RUM DIARY Is Like Two Movies in One – REVIEW

the rum diary movie review

I walked away from watching The Rum Diary with feelings as dichotomous as the two halves of the film.  The first half is what the film appears to be in the trailers, while the second is a fairly serious take on corruption and the censorship of news by those who control what is printed.  Neither part is entirely satisfying, for differing reasons, and the two halves hang together rather awkwardly.

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The 5 Worst TV Crime Show Finales

You’d think it would be easy to wrap up a crime TV series. Punish the bad guys, save the day and solve the mystery. The audience can turn off the set with their belief in an ordered universe confirmed. Easy as it may seem, plenty of crime shows flip out and faceplant when it’s time for their finale.

Some try to get too clever or artistic. Some fling the story outside the genre in a geeky attempt to surprise their viewers. Most just don’t know what the Hell they’re doing.

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THE THREE MUSKETEERS Is a Hot, Delicious Mess | review

The Three Musketeers 2011 review

I did not go into this newest version of The Three Musketeers with high expectations.  In point of fact, I expected the film to be kind of bad.  I find myself forced to confess a reluctant admiration for just how bad it turned out to be.

What I expected was a historically inaccurate melodrama, with some good swordfights, cheesy dialogue, a stable pretty men and an abundance of pretty costumes.  I got… a historically inaccurate… something.  I think it bordered on theater of the absurd, but I can’t come up with a film equivalency.  Oh, and (spoiler alert) airships.

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Is It a Crime? – A Look Ahead to NBC’s GRIMM

grimm

I’m a natural skeptic.  Not an unusual or profound thing for my generation, but that’s what I am.  In growing older, I find my tastes funneling down into increasingly ordered grooves from which I rarely stray.

So when somebody comes along with a lot of high-falutin’, amalgamative concepts, especially within the concept of network television dramas, my horseshit harpoon gun goes hair-trigger.

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