Gareth Edwards is not what you probably picture when you think of a special effects artist turned science fiction director: he’s personable and energetic, as charming to look at as he is to listen to, and utterly enthusiastic about his new movie, Monsters. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s a near-future in which a NASA probe brought back life from one of Jupiter’s moons, and the creatures have taken over half of Mexico.
If you’re anything like me, you’re broke.
Not quite selling-your-plasma-for-lunch-money broke. But definitely dodging-bill-collectors-and-praying-to-a-God-you-don’t-believe-in-that-your-car-won’t-break-down-again broke.
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.
Exploring censorship, alternate versions of crime classics and the reasons behind creative changes. This edition: LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL
It’s time to spring forward, as the saying goes. What daylight savings actually saves is beyond me. Just another way of making me wake up earlier than sunrise. Twisting time has worked a whole lot better in crime cinema.
Jia Zhangke is not only the best filmmaker to emerge from China’s sixth generation of filmmakers, but also widely regarded as one of the most important and vital directors working today by both his peers and the critics. The World (Shìjiè) is his fourth film and the first to be set outside of his native province of Shanxi, although a number of characters are from Shanxi and communicate with each other in the Shanxi dialect.
The Big Lebowski enjoys what is probably the largest cult following of all the cult-attracting films of Joel and Ethan Coen, and has pretty much since its release over a decade ago. And “cult” has become more apropos a term since the advent of Dudeism, the official unofficial philosophy of Jeffrey “the Dude” Lebowski (dudeism.com). Dudeism teaches that we all need to just take it easy, man, and on a personal note, if there is one thing I’ve figured out about myself in the past few years, it’s that I am not perfectly calm here. But I am learning to abide by adhering to a pretty strict Dude regimen. Here’s some of the stuff I’ve figured out.
Food is the archetypal First World problem. While some parts of the world starve and other parts are turned inside out by our demand for low-cost and low-fuss supplies of exotic and increasingly refined foodstuffs, the West is growing increasingly alienated and distant from the things that it eats.
All the end-of-year/decade lists going up right now inspired me to hit one up of my own. And all the hype about James Cameron’s Avatar, which is being trumpeted as some sort of monumental science fiction success, gave me just the topic: the actual best science fiction movies of the aughts.
I’m the re-reader. She’s the newbie, I’m the spoilery vet. Together She’s g-mashin’ George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting here POV on. Today she moves on to Chapter 19, a Jon Snow POV chapter.
I’m the re-reader. She’s the newbie, I’m the spoilery vet. Together She’s g-mashin’ George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting here POV on. Today she moves on to Chapter 18, a Catelyn Stark POV chapter.
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.
My friend’s dad took us to see Willow one sunny summer’s day in 1988. It was a good movie and all, but honestly I was extremely distracted throughout the whole thing. All I could think about was one of the coming attractions I’d seen for a film called Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I’d seen Bedknobs and Broomsticks and other fare where cartoons were mixed with live action. But this flick looked much different—it had sex and violence and swear words. Mix those with cartoons, and it was everything my almost adolescent heart could desire.
Back in 1987 fans of G.I. Joe got an animated film that has gone on to become a pretty divisive movie during a time which was probably the height of or toward the end of the height of the popularity for the G.I. Joe brand. Much like the Transformers animated film from the previous year it can quite plainly be seen as a feature length commercial for a new wave, maybe even a generation, of characters. I was overseas as a kid and when one of my friends got this on VHS it was HUGE news in my school, a part of a close knit U.S. military community in Italy. Back then it was just awesome and when you click it on now you realize that the intro remains one of the best in cartoon history.
The Taiwanese New Wave that emerged in the 80s provided two of the best film makers of the modern age in the late Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao-Hsien. Jonathan Rosenbaum has compared both of their work to that of Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, in that they eschew the usual pacing and narrative structure of a film in order to portray life in a way that is more realistic. Both of their films are grounded in the troubled history of Taiwan and are deeply affected by the past that they are engaging, that of twentieth century Taiwan. Yang chooses to set most of his films in a contemporary setting (of his films, only the short film Expectations and his epic A Brighter Summer Day are set in the past) in an urban setting, usually Taipei, his characters tend to be middle class or upwardly mobile, but at heart of these films were the very human consequences of the legacy of Japanese rule and the onset of Westernization. Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s films in comparison tend to be set in the past, in rural areas, focusing on the lives of primarily working class characters as they go about their day to day life.
Say you’re putting together a syndicate. One of the first things that you are going to need is somebody to take care of your light work for you when words have run out. As a means of determining the appropriate skill set for this oh-so-important addition to your workforce, the Complex has assembled a ranking of some of the more legendary henchman ever to grace the screen. You know, as a way to gauge some of the qualities you might be looking for.
In ranking these heavies, extra points were earned for singularity of purpose, imperviousness to pain, and skill within the realm of hand-to-hand combat. Points were taken away for any actions tantamount to a betrayal of the henchman’s employer, or conspicuous behavior likely to cause more trouble than harm.
Here’s how they shook out.
Throughout his career, Yasujirō Ozu experimented with ensemble narrative. While it forms the core of his most famous film, one of the greatest films ever made, Tokyo Story, he first employed the style years earlier in Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family. There is something particularly special about Ozu’s ensemble films in the way in which the lives of the characters within the film are entwined for better or for worse. The slow pacing and the rarity of real confrontation give the films what David Bordwell calls “calm”, the lives of the characters are a sort of quiet sadness that makes the tragedy more affecting.
If there’s one thing nerds like to do, it’s debate. And if there’s one thing nerds like to debate about, it’s useless trivia from TV shows and movies. Thus, we humbly submit for your reading […]
Crime heroes and villains got it rough. They’re usually up to the gills in trouble and their genre, unlike horror, doesn’t smile on its bad-asses soaking up too many bullets.
A fortunate – or unfortunate, if you’re a “the grave’s half empty” kind of person – few manage some superhuman comebacks. Whether by the power of a psychotic episode, sheer grit or timely medical attention, these crime film characters practically pull off an Easter miracle.
o, who would you rather have operating just outside the law to protect your city? Batman or Rorschach? Discuss!
In 2046, Wong Kar-wai’s eighth film, Tony Leung Chiu-wai plays a journalist and writer (the same character he plays in In the Mood for Love), that begins to write science-fiction as an additional income when journalist work dries up. The story that he writes, also called 2046, set in the distant future about people who travel to 2046 (whether it is a time or a place is never explained) in order to live in the memories of their lost loves, a place from where no one has ever returned. Scenes from 2046 punctuate the narrative as a parallel as Leung comes to realise that he is writing about himself.
I have a set of bright memories associated with various of Guy Gavriel Kay’s novels: Sitting, aged 13, grief-stricken and sobbing in a cold bath having finished “The Darkest Road”, the final weft in his Fionavar Tapestry; drooping in my early morning lectures five years later having welcomed in the dawn with the last page of his “Lions of Al-Rassan”; throwing myself down into my pillows and grinning, grinning, grinning at the promise of a second book in the Sarantine Mosaic duology. This last is hardly tinted with the same nostalgia, what with it only happening yesterday evening but you take my meaning.
The question on everyone’s lips, which we humbly seek to answer today, “Which is the better ridiculous mode of transportation, Shai-Hulud from Frank Herbert’s Dune series, or Falkor the Luck Dragon from The Neverending Story?
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.
A perfect crime always has a bit of a prank to it. When you’re breaking the law, you’re duping society, after all. You play a joke on old Lady Justice. The punchline just happens to be a few steamer trunks of bearer bonds or a well-buried corpse.
But some crimes take the yukks to the next level. These law-shattering shenanigans score big on style points, surprise or sheer humor. And when it’s done for the sake of cinema, twisted pranks can leave their kink marks in our memory for years to come.
Here are 6 Twisted Pranks in Crime Film that never fail to split our sides or sicken our stomachs.
At the very beginning of Lou Ye’s Suzhou River (Sūzhōu Hé) the unnamed and unseen narrator and protagonist whom works as a freelance cameraman tells the viewer that he is fine filming anything just so long as the client doesn’t complain. His camera, he says, shows things the way that they are. This statement recalls that famous one of Bruno Forestier in Godard’s Le Petit Soldat (his second feature film and first to star his muse and future wife, Anna Karina), “La photographie, c’est la vérité, et le cinéma, c’est vingt-quatre fois la vérité par seconde” – “Photography is truth, and cinema is truth 24 times per second”.
This week we seek to answer that most pressing of questions: Which is the better sci-fi/fantasy pet? Spot from Star Trek: The Next Generation, or Oy from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series?
Before we begin, I would like to say a few brief words on the nature of this column. I believe it is impossible to talk about films without discussing what are considered spoilers, and to quote Jonathan Rosenbaum, “Is this form of worry a fit activity for grown-ups?” Therefore if you have an aversion to spoilers, I recommend that you do not read this column, consider this your only disclaimer.
There are plenty of crime films that straddle some scary territory: Serial killer suspense stories, “realistic” horror and a couple gangster-style stories with eerie elements. But even though Hollywood gets accused of slathering on the ultraviolence with a spatula, that’s often just what we want to believe to protect our nerves.
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.
Back in my days teaching English in Japan, I raised the topic of murders and why they were so frequently extreme in Japan. One student actually said in reply, “It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality.” Kind of grimly funny, and a nice attempt at busting out some natural speech, but the thing is, I totally got what he meant. I always believed that the severed heads stuck on school fence posts and the dismembered parts littered around cities, not to mention the extreme pornography, were a result of social repression that, in certain people, boiled up and manifested itself in horribly sick, violent and often public ways. It’s not exactly a long bow to draw, is it? There’s a reason Ian Buruma’s fascinating book on Japanese culture (and valuable aid to this project), Behind the Mask is called that. It’s not just a clever title.
Crime films often make me hungry. Often the restaurant scenes are among the best remembered in crime flicks. The coffee shops and Italian kitchens and juke joints where criminal characters go to grab a bite or do dirt serve to define them.
John Woo makes cool films. His Hong Kong action films are amongst some of, if not the best, action movies ever made. Films like A Better Tomorrow and its sequel, A Better Tomorrow II, The Killer, and Once a Thief had high grosses that contributed to the golden age of Hong Kong Cinema during the eighties and early nineties. His work proved influential not only in Hong Kong, but also in the international scene, leading to interest in Hong Kong cinema in countries like the United Kingdom and America, and influencing a generation of non-Asian filmmakers. Woo would himself later make the transition to Hollywood, making films like Broken Arrow and Face/Off, sadly not up to the same standard as his earlier work. For a generation though, Woo defined what it meant to be cool. Gangsters started to dress like Chow Yun Fat in A Better Tomorrow, complete with Alain Delon sunglasses (which caused them to be sold out in Hong Kong). The over the top gun fight choreography, slickness, hint of black humour, and symbolism that has become cliché through uninspired repetition by Hollywood was fresh and exciting. As Bordwell says, he is the ultimate Hong Kong auteur, because when you were watching one of his films, you knew that it could only be a John Woo film.
Hollywood: it’s all a scam, isn’t it?
For all of our lives, the movies have promised us big, big things. Action and adventure are just out there waiting for us. Good always triumphs over evil. A simple confusion of gender will result in a humorous situation. And everybody is having way more sex than you. Like the good little marks we all are, we run frantically to these show-biz con-men with fistfuls of dollars, just begging to be parted with our money and our senses. And then as with any good con, once it’s all over, we stand there on the sidewalk, squinting in the sunlight, our dreams crushed by reality and our pockets empty. The movies are the longest running scam in world history.
There is consolation in conspiracy. Whenever something terrible happens, humans look for answers and they don’t stop looking even when they have found them: It wasn’t Oswald who killed Kennedy, it was the mob or the commies, or the CIA. It wasn’t a drunk driver who killed Princess Diana; it was British Intelligence and the Royal Family. The reason why our minds are drawn to conspiracies is because conspiracies make the world seem a less random and little more comprehensible. Our need to derive spiritual sustenance from a belief that we are part of some grand plan or pattern fuels religion as well as psychology. In fact, one could argue that the whole point of Freudian psychoanalysis is the construction of elaborate conspiracy theories that explain away people’s less desirable character traits:
There aren’t many things from my youth that I truly miss, but one of the members of that elite group is the space combat flight simulator game. Once quite common, they are all but unknown today, and that’s a shame. For me, personally, my regret at the genre’s passing is about much more than the fact that I’ll never get to play Freespace 3. (Though that is also a source of nigh-overwhelming anguish, obviously.) My own first encounter with the genre was one of the things that really expanded my ideas of what a video game could be.
By his own admission, noted Mangaka (pro comics creator) Kazuichi Hanawa had long been interested in themes of confinement. An early, unfinished experiment was a manga concerning a masked man locked up in a basement. It’s oddly appropriate then that Hanawa, a noted collector of replica firearms would, years later, be incarcerated in Hokkaido and serve roughly twenty months of a three-year sentence (December 1994-October 1996) after “trying out” some remodelled guns he’d acquired.
In our never-ending quest to reduce the absurd, we offer the following Point/Counterpoint discussion: Who is the better evil insidious race, the Borg, or the Aliens?
Some would say that beautiful lives bloom only in the shadow cast by death. But while this may very well be true, how could we ever know for sure? Statements like this one and Plato’s ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’ are supposed to be useful and practical advice that help us to determine how we ought to live our lives but if we are going to change our lives and live them either with our heads buried in books or our faces pressed up against the nearest tombstone then surely these sorts of statements need to be tested? Motoro Mase’s manga serial Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit is set in an alternate Japan where the state regularly sacrifices one citizen out of every thousand as a reminder to the others that their lives could end at any time. The Japanese state does this because it believes that by reminding its citizens of their mortality, their citizens will choose to live more productive lives. Ikigami is an exploration of what it might be like to live in such a society.
I had the bad timing to become a console RPG fan at the dawn of the 1990s. This was originally due to a promotional gimmick run by Nintendo Power magazine in which they gave away a free copy of the game Dragon Warrior to new subscribers. My friends were bored to tears by it, but for me- a kid with extremely poor hand-eye coordination and an affinity for planning, strategy, and numbers- it was ideal.
I’ve long believed Warren Ellis is a crime-fiction writer at heart. The first series of Wolfskin was a clear example of sword-and-sorcery comics, but had that distinct Yojimbo/Fistful of Dollars feel, a dyed-in-the-wool crook playing both sides. Comics like Aetheric Mechanics and Captain Swing are solid steampunk works, yet revolve around cops-and-robbers shenanigans. One of the driving tenets of our work here at Boomtron is that any good story is going to have a vital aspect of crime fiction in there, even if it’s a small one, and the oeuvre of Warren Ellis is about as nearly perfect an example of that as I can find.
II. The Holy Trinity – Chester Himes, Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines
III. Gone, Forgotten and Waiting for Discovery – Robert Deane Pharr & Clarence Cooper Jr.
IV. The Best of the Rest
V. Lost to History – Jerome Dyson Wright & Charlie Avery Harris
VI. The tip of the Iceberg (but not necessarily Slim) – Books for further consideration
Years ago I came across a veritable treasure trove of crime fiction. I was at a local library looking through the books that were for sale when I saw a forgotten box of books tucked away in the corner. Curiosity got the better of me and what I discovered inside the box were worn paperbacks with dated covers by authors that I had never heard of. Books with titles like Whoreson, Poor Black and in Real Trouble and The Jones Men. Books that featured characters with names like White Folks, Kenyatta and Giveadamn Brown. All of these books would tellingly bear the stamp of the Maryland DOC.
Comic book nerds are easy targets. Fish in a barrel and on crutches, to boot. Not to put too fine a point on it, but going to down to comics conventions and making fun of grown men dressed in tights or in Klingon make-up is not unlike heckling the Special Olympics. Maybe it’s less guilt-inducing, but that’s about it.
Empire in Black and Gold is the debut of British author Adrian Tchaikovsky and the first installment in a trilogy titled Shadows of the Apt. In his debut Tchaikovsky gives us a heroic narrative where a small group of travellers offer resistance against overwhelming odds – a narrative pattern typical of epic fantasy. Empire in Black and Gold is, however, a fantasy that is far from generic. Rather it offers a story of politics, war and ruthless imperial aggression set in a highly imaginative world inhabited by nations that model themselves in the style of their insect totems:
When I was asked to write a companion piece to my Best Science Fiction Movies of the Decade list, I thought it would be equally as easy. I was wrong. There were a lot of kind of good fantasy movies over the last 10 years, but not really a lot of great ones. I think a top five or a top 15 list would have been easier–I had a hell of a time deciding on the last two slots on this list, because I think compelling arguments could have been made for other movies for each of those last picks.
Back in the nineties, I had the pleasure of working with Charlie Adlard on Topp’s The X-Files comic. Ages later, the man who draws The Walking Dead was kind enough to spend some time catching up on Skype. And it all went something like this…
So you’ve finally met a girl who seems cool. Outlook: positive…except that you can’t figure out how to suss out her level of nerdery without offending her or seeming even geekier than you are by running through every conceivable point of geekiness she might secretly have. Well, you’re in luck, because the graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim has been made into a movie that could literally double as a girlfriend test if your interests and/or lifestyle require a girl who is at the least tolerant of the geek in you.
One could argue that the enduring popularity of genre motifs is a direct result of the death of God.
Prior to the Enlightenment, the people of the ancient and medieval worlds knew their place. They knew that there were gods and demons, monsters and spirits. They knew that the good things in life could be lured to them by undertaking certain actions and they knew that the bad things could be kept in the shadows by undertaking other actions. They knew that their lives were meaningful and they knew that they were part of the elaborate tapestry of myth, prophecy and magic that held the world together. However, as science cast its light into the darkness old certainties were overturned and magic was forced from the world along with that sense of purpose that the ancients took for granted. Suddenly, humanity knew that there was nothing to fear because nothing really mattered. Instead of ritual and magic, humanity contented itself with paperwork, breakfast cereals and trips to the bathroom. We had successfully dis-enchanted the world.
Welcome, dear friends and other suckers, to a new regular feature here at the Criminal Complex. Yes, the Scam Artist Hall Of Fame, as demanded by none of you, will highlight those great men and women, fictional and non, who through their erudite shrewdness and intelligence part money from its fools. Our inaugural inductee is none other than that captain of the cardsharps, the service’s own shuckster, Sergeant Bilko.
Okay, so Ninjak is going to be featured in an upcoming live action webseries on Youtube by Bat in the Sun, which considering they don’t do cosmetics tutorials is a reasonably big channel on youtube and has more subscribers/watchers than any American comic book has. I say American because I think One Piece still keeps comics alive and hovers around that 7 figure readership. I follow some entertainment channels on Youtube obsessively but can’t claim to have heard of them until the Ninjak announcement, which is no shade, this is just not really my type of thing, though I will admit that I did see an Epic Rap Battle pitting George R.R. Martin against J.R.R. Tolkien which was one of the funniest (and passed my fact check) things I’ve seen all year.
I will admit that I’m pretty easy to please but this thing looks better than I could have imagined. I’d consider myself very well entrenched in the world(s) of Terry Brooks, including and perhaps mostly his Shannara output, even though I’m not a mega fan in that way being a The Lord of the Rings diehard won’t allow. That said, I’ve never been someone who doesn’t acknowledge both the historical significance of Terry Brooks as it relates to direct impact on the modern fantasy publishing landscape and market and that I used to check for Brooks every time I was in the Walden Books paper back section to see if the next Shannara installment had hit.<
A lot things happened in last week’s episode that people want to talk about a lot more — and oddly I think that particular one was one of the better shot, edited, and acted scenes in a episode that was otherwise kind of a disaster — but I wanted to go into some other directions, namely that of a line by Tyrion regarding Jorah Mormont. I think for TV watchers it would be easy to forget that Jorah is the son of Jeor, and the Valyrian sword Jon Snow wields, Long Claw, was Jorah’s sword that he left behind before he went into exile. Also, if you recall, a couple episodes back Stannis was telling Davos about how a ten year old Northern Lord sent back a letter in response to him desiring their allegiance, and basically telling him they only recognize one King in the North (a Stark) — that little girl, Lyanna, (in the TV show) is a Mormont and is Jorah’s cousin replying for the House that Jorah used to be the head of.
Back to Game of Thrones as a lot of people read my Ten Things about Dorne and House Martell and a similar post about House Stark so I thought it might be worthwhile to go back to Westeros and do something similar around for the HBO watchers. I’ve been reading George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire since the mid-90s but these are spoiler free and does not detail anything anyone who is even a passive reader doesn’t know. Just some added information or historical footnotes that may or probably won’t enrich the Game of Thrones experience.
America has always been crazy about serial killers.
They’re our homegrown werewolves. They click with the fast-food car culture that roars in the country’s busy, busy heart. They fit neatly with our cult-of-celebrity-style national mythology.
These beasts that seem like men, mowing through victims like McDonald’s cheeseburgers, speeding for the televised takedown by John Q. Law – how can the USA not be wild for them?
Arrow, the WB action television series, starring Stephen Amell’s abs, based on the DC comic book series, Green Arrow, recently debuted and has now been picked up for a full season.
Honestly, I haven’t seen the show yet, and had little intention to do so after what I felt looked like a lacklustre trailer. However, it seems the show has become somewhat of a hit, and is getting pretty good buzz in the dark corners of the internet, which is no small feat, considering it’s based on a comic book, and seems vaguely embarrassed of that fact (case in point: it won’t call itself “Green Arrow,” as that is somehow more ridiculous), and comic book readers are not known for taking changes lying down, instead preferring an elaborate outraged-sitting position akin to extreme-yoga.
Somewhere on the fringe of mainstream film, there’s a frenzied community of artists who illustrate an elemental aspect of crime. They don’t bother with the ticky-tack trivia of the procedural. They don’t focus on the grand fables of revenge and wrongs righted.
British singer Adele has yet again proven herself to be a family friendly version of Amy Winehouse by recording a theme to a James Bond film, by (unlike the late Ms. Winehouse) actually getting the song recorded. And yeah, the song Skyfall (from the new James Bond film, the name of which I’m drawing a blank on…) sounds like the same kind of bland crap that normally gets made for these films. Just when I thought they’d maybe turned a corner with the Jack White-performed theme song from Quantum of Solace (perhaps the theme songs are inversely correlated with the quality of the films), which was so catchy that I could actually slap the meat curtains to it, as the common phrase goes.
On the occasion of the Emmys’ passing, let’s take a step outside the spotlight. I want to lead you to the fringes for a moment.
You need to meet an artist who has yet to hold a gold statue aloft on a high-profile red carpet, but who is brilliant enough to be seen in the shadows all the same.
You need to meet Mae Catt.
Booze and crime goes hand in hand like booze and being hugely attractive and winning in life. I am drinking while writing this, because something something simpatico and shit. After speaking with my editor about the topic of this week’s column, I was told “Liam, you’re a pathetic drunk, either clean up your act, or write about it!”
And here we are.
If you find yourself with fifteen minutes to kill this evening, you can go to YouTube and pull up the video that is currently causing murder and mayhem and destruction in the Middle East this evening. No, it isn’t Gangnam Style. It’s that strange new cinematic sensation, Innocence of Muslims.
Much like most of the civilized world, I knew what yesterday meant:
The premiere of Sons of Anarchy, Season 5. I was pretty jazzed. I would DVR that bad bastard and catch it when convenience struck. Or, if I was too lazy or forgetful to do that, I could snag it On Demand. I wasn’t sweating.
The Korean Film Festival in Australia (or KOFFIA, the acronym they’ve mercifully given me so that I don’t have to type out “The Korean Film Festival in Australia” too many times. I am not paid by the word, which is clearly why I’m so concise with any tangents and diversions within my pieces, and only stick to the most pertinent of assertations and never crowd the parentheses) has played its second year in Melbourne, and, as I can often be found yelling to people on the train, Korea currently has some of the most exciting filmmaking in the world. On top of the generally excellent pedigree, they’ve also been making what I would say is some of the most innovative and uncompromising crime films since America was doin’ it right back in the ‘70s.
Near Death is one of the spate of high-quality comic books Image has been cranking out over the past couple of years, and I finally did myself the favor of reading it. Of course, now it appears the series has gone on hiatus just as I am getting on board (sad trombone). Fingers crossed that it starts up again and soon, but in the meantime, Near Death is a nice little jumping-off point for talking about comics for comics’ sake.
Before we get too far into this, I want everybody to remember that there was a time when the members of Mötley Crüe were presumed to be dangerous servants of the Devil.
I should also say that I’m relatively new to the notion of Illuminati Satanism, and that anything you read herein has been out there in some form or another for ten or more years. If you’re pressed for time, I can save you the trouble of reading on and just tell you right now that I think the whole notion of selling one’s soul to the Devil for a few years of fame is a load of horseshit.
It’s strange when you consider that Boss is Kelsey Grammer’s first major dramatic role. He has always been known for playing upright, no-nonsense roles, but for laughs. Boss season 2, which premiered this past Friday on Starz, is definitely no laughing matter, and regardless of how lauded Grammer has been for his comedy work, the role of Chicago mayor Tom Kane will be what he is remembered for, if there is any justice in the world.
Then again, a major theme of Boss so far is that there is no justice in the world. So there’s that.
The implications of resurrecting Arnold Schwarzenegger.
For the record, I voted for Gallagher.
In the Second Great American Mindfuck of the early 21st Century, also known as the 2003 California Gubernatorial Recall Election, I was one of 5,466 watermelon-hating voters who chose to throw away their vote on comedian Gallagher rather than the action star Schwarzenegger, security guard Gary Coleman, porn merchant Larry Flynt, porn star Mary Carey, sumo wrestler Kurt “Tachikaze” Rightmyer, or any of the other names on the packed page of, er, uniquely qualified candidates provided at polling places across the Golden State.
Australian of many hats (and presumably berets, gloves, scarves and other assorted fineries) Eric Bana, is close to signing on to star in Lone Survivor. The Peter Berg-directed flick based on the events of SEAL Team 10’s “Operation Red Wing,” where the Navy SEALs were ambushed while on a covert assassination mission in Afghanistan in 2005. Bana is to round out a cast that already includes Marky Mark (Wahlberg), Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, and Taylor Kitsch in the role of “Taylor Kitsch is acting.” Peter Berg will also be handling the screenplay duties on this one, adapting the book of the same name that was penned by Marcus Luttrell. Complex – and my pants’ – favourite, Mark Wahlberg is set to play Luttrell, the member of the expedition who wrote the book about his experiences upon which Lone Survivor is based. No telling at this stage who the ‘lone survivor’ of the title is going to be.
Well, kids, it’s almost here. The wide release on August 17th of Robert Pattinson’s latest vehicle, the David Cronenberg film Cosmopolis, is only days away, and if you listen closely, you can hear the eager squeals of anticipation from Bobby’s legions of fans. And now there have been brand-new stills released from the film, which we bring to you today courtesy of The Playlist. It never quite fails to fascinate just how these guys, these screen idols, continue to elicit such rabid devotion from so many. It’s not that I don’t understand or anything; after all, I’ve nursed quite a few celebrity crushes over the years and still do. And as we’ve discussed here before, Pattinson’s presence in this film will lead many to the works of his director and co-stars, many who may not have shown any interest in such otherwise.
Eight noir novels to help fill your endless summer with a sense of overwhelming dread and paranoia.
Okay, so I’m the professor who wakes up three weeks before the end of the semester and hits everybody over the head with a pile of mandatory reading assignments that everybody has to crowbar in between midnight finals cram sessions and kegstands, but you know, only if they hope to make it out with a passing grade.
Well, it’s a day ending in “y,” which means it’s time for Criminal Complex’s resident “typical internet fucktard” to vigorously blow his horn every which way over your face about film remakes. Film announcements are a lot like possums – cute to look at, but likely to disappear up your arse before anything more comes to fruition [A common Australian expression – Ed].
No other folk do blood feuds like Mason-Dixon Line Americans. Wedged between the Smoky Mountains and the Mississippi is enough pure meanness to power New York City from now until the Mayan Doomsday. They may pronounce themselves zealots for the religion of “turn the other cheek,” but hillbillies make Sicilian mobsters look laid back.
Or, why I’ll never be fooled by NBC again.
So, this is the last time that I will speak or write about Awake. In fact, this might be the last time anybody issues any type of missive in regards to NBC’s most recent series cancellation.
In part 9 of THE NAIL THAT STICKS OUT, we delve into the case of Lucie Blackman, the gaijin hostess who never left Roppongi alive.
It’s Ladies’ Night at the Complex.
We’ve covered a pretty broad spectrum of shady characters over the past few months around here, but with Mother’s Day coming up in a few weeks, we felt it entirely appropriate to tip our collective hats to all the wonderful women that keep us under a thin layer of sweat. Presenting the ten meanest, craziest, and most scandalous chicks to ever set the screen on fire.
Alert: Spoilers abound.
Welcome to post-World War II Tokyo. The Occupied City. It’s a crime-fest. Aside from yakuza-run markets, gang wars, gambling, and seemingly everybody on the grift, prostitution is so utterly widespread, there’s even a governmental department named The RAA (Recreation and Amusement Association) specifically established to relieve the occupying troops of pent-up libidinal urges that could possibly be exorcised in even less wholesome ways. The ensuing fuckfest is prodigious. So prodigious that the moat around the Imperial Palace becomes “so clogged with used condoms” it has to be “cleaned out once a week with a big wire scoop.”
Yeah, feast your eyes on that little piece of hipster cred. That is my official membership card in the N.W.A fan club, acquired in the halcyon days of 1991, when I was even more suburban and whitebread than I am now. And finally my other favorite group of junior high (tied with Public Enemy) will have their own bio-pic.
Though largely regarded as humorists, directors Joel and Ethan Coen have produced some of the finest crime movies ever committed to film. Blood Simple, Miller’s Crossing, and their adaptation of No Country for Old Men are straight-ahead crime movies enriched with the Coens’ visual style and lip-smacking dialogue. Even Fargo, though the thick Minnesota dialect draws huge laughs, couldn’t be more of a crime movie.
Director Oliver Stone is bringing Don Winslow’s SAVAGES to the big screen. But will it be any good? “Bet.”
Don Winslow’s 2010 novel Savages is one of those books you chide yourself for not reading sooner, even if you were able to get your hands on an ARC in ’09. The drug-dealing anti-hero(es) and the adventures of the Mexican drug cartel are all reinvested with some relevance and some actual personality in the pages of Winslow’s novel. Opening with a brief first chapter, the twin thematic powerhouses of minimalism and breakneckism (in both pace and morality) shoot you through to the conclusion, which is about as Mexican a stand-off as you’re likely to read. There’s no time to do anything but take a deep breath and hope you come out on the other side (not all of you will). If/when you do, it’ll be a day and half later and you will not have eaten and your hair will be all messed up. That’s how good Savages is.
They call it American Horror Story. FX Network named it wrong. It’s not particularly American—California is only technically in America. Above all, it’s not really a “horror story” either. Horror generally requires characters you care about. But one thing’s sure about American Horror Story: It is loaded to the gills with nastiness, most of it criminal.
There’s always something that’s just a little dirtier about Irish crime movies. Irish movie mobsters don’t wear silk suits and don’t tip off an impending whacking with a kiss on the cheek. In fact, in most cases, it would appear that they don’t even shower. That would require foresight and diligent planning, which are qualities not typically on display in an Irish-American crime film.
With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, we thought it would be a good idea to tip our hats to the grand tradition of Irish thuggery in American film while we are all still coherent enough to do so.
Bioware recently put out a new trailer for Mass Effect 3, entitled “Take Earth Back.” I quite liked it, and it’s a nice example of how a trailer like this can be effective that’s worth taking a closer look at.
*For those who are still jonesing for something to fill the void in their life left by Lost.
Just to get past the nagging qualifiers, I’ve been hyping this show since the moment I heard the premise and saw the trailer for it (I won’t post it again here as I have been spamming the Complex for the past three months). I have a nasty habit of doing this. As a result, the sight of Chinese Democracy sitting on the shelves at Best Buy with a $1.99 price tag gives me stabbing pains in the abdominal area every time I go to pick up batteries.
A few months back, I ploughed through Jungle Street by Don Elliott. Elliott (the pseudonym of SF master Robert Silverberg) wrote numerous smutty novels (such as Escape To Sindom, Sex Gang and Party Girl), the kind which once flooded the market with their lurid pulp covers of half-naked buxotics either frolicking with strapping young men or running from them.
Crime films give every genre a run for its money when it comes to getting hardcore. Murder, torture, kidnapping—they have it all and in many cases, they show it all. Even the lion’s share of the horror genre doesn’t hold a candle to scenes like Mr. Blonde getting down with a duct-taped cop and a straight razor.
Silent House holds a lot of dark splendor for such a lean feature.
This trim 88-minute thriller is rendered in a single shot. That artistic effort alone makes it worth the price of admission.
It braids in a lot of other captivating elements: Subtle unfolding of the plot. An eerie, understated atmosphere. Mounting tension that wrenches into the surreal for the final act.
Best of all, Silent House has the golden thread of Elizabeth Olsen’s talent to hold it together.
I’m not typically a fan of online multiplayer modes in games. I’m not suited for it; I’m generally not very competitive, not very social, and I just find a well-designed single player scenario much more enjoyable than the frantic chaos of the typical online deathmatch. I’m also, at least where he genres that dominate that sort of gameplay, such as first-person shooters and fighting games, are concerned- just not that good, and I’m not particularly interested in spending time being stomped into dust over and over again by opponents I have no chance against.
I’ve been keeping an eye open for Lilyhammer since word of its over in Norway. The complete first season of Steven Van Zandt’s sleeps-with-the-fishes-out-of-water comedy series was released onto Netflix this evening, in its eight-episode entirety. Always here to service our faithful followers, I dove into the first episode and brought back my observations.
Date Rape Dave Brown is a sweetheart.
Don’t just take it from me. Rampart makes a strong case. Halfway through this Oren Moverman art-house film and you’ll be primed to buy Officer Dave Brown, Woody Harrelson, a World’s Best Dad mug. It’ll be something to admire while serving his life sentence in solitary.
It all depends on how you choose to view it:
Fatale is a crime comic. It features square-jawed tough guys making goo-goo eyes at beautiful dames with curling, jet-black tresses and fine suits and shotguns and embittered, trench-coat wearing cops and broad-shouldered goons.
Ridley Scott is reportedly “moving forward aggresively in development” of a new Blade Runner project, and there should be announcement as to the specifics of the project in the opening months of the New Year, including who the screenwriter will be.
I think that I found my voice—or at least my confidence—when I was a graduate screenwriting student at UCLA. Although I had been writing for a number of years, it was at UCLA that I pushed myself and understood and accepted failure as a positive possibility. Good writing is ambitious. Which means that good writers must be willing to fail.