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A blog for poetry, prose, and pop culture.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 8

Father Santiago tried to ignore the cries of the people outside the Parish. Beating on the barricaded doors you could hear their screams of terror, their screams of pain. You could always the screams. You could hear the creatures out there as well though. Guttural cries and screeches of horror, Father Santiago could still see their gaping maws and blackened claws when he closed his eyes. What was worse were the moments of quiet though, where you could hear the wet smack of the monsters consuming the flesh of the dead. Father Enrico tried to block the images from his mind, images that haunted him. He could still see his brothers being ripped apart by those monsters. He could still picture the horrors he had seen as he ran back to the Parish, the dead brought to life and consuming the living, Revelation.

"Father Santiago......Enrico, we must do something for the people outside. The screams, the people NEED us now! We must help them and trust in the Lord God to protect us."

Santiago lowered his head slowly and shook it sadly. Brother Ruiz meant well, he was probably even right, but he no longer knew anymore. What he had seen made him wonder. If those creatures could so easily kill his Brothers, what would that mean to the people here in this mission? What would that mean to him. IF Hell had truly come to Earth, Enrico Santiago was not about to go quietly.

"My son, I feel your pain. I feel ALL of your pain. But you have seen what lies outside, looking at these horrors from the bell tower. They are not human, and should we open the doors to help these people, they would over run us as well. We can only do God's will if we are alive to spread his word. I know it's hard, I know you want to ease our flock's suffering, but we must trust in God to protect us, and trust in God to take our friends to a better place than the Hell that awaits beyond the walls."

He looked at Brother Ruiz, placing a hand on his shoulder and whispered to him to take Brother Romero and the help and lead them in a prayer. Ruiz nodded, tears streaming down his face and drew the other three into a circle. Enrico then hastened up the stairs, towards his room and the bell tower. After they had barricaded the doors and simple windows of the church, they had all gone to the tower to witness the creatures first hand. It had been hard for them all, but Enrico has assured them that the best path lay in protecting themselves. It had taken all of his will and perseverance to keep them from opening the doors, each time the cries of mothers and their children reached the doors, or when hearing the cries of the young as their flesh was ripped.

Enrico opened the door to his room, a simple affair. The mission was a plain stucco structure, two stories and a cellar, with a spiraling staircase that lead to the top of the Bell tower. The main floor was dedicated to the church containing the alter, the second floor was the living quarters for the small group. Enrico's room was much like the others, mostly bare. He had a simple straw mat to sleep on and a stand with a bowl and pitcher for washing. He also had a small chest, to which he approached now. He opened the lid and removed his spare robes, leaving it empty. Enrico pried his fingers into the lower interior corner of the chest, working at it until he finally managed to pry the false bottom up. It lay there exactly as he had left it all those years ago, his pistol. He gently removed it from it's hiding place, holding it to catch the meager light in the room. No, Father Enrico Santiago was not about to go quietly at all.

End of Line.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Movie Time: Rewind: Young Frankenstein

Hey all!

Time to turn back the clocks and look at another old school movie review, looking at great films made before the year 1976. In my Word Balloon column earlier this month I highlighted a comedy book and I thought I would continue the trend in this column and look at another great comedy. While I have highlighted several comedies over the last few years of this column, most have been from the 1930's. This time we are gonna flash forward out of Hollywood's golden years and into the early 1970's. This was a time of upheaval and change for studios, still trying to recover from the loss of the studio systems in the 60's, films, film makers, and audiences tastes were changing, making it a fun and fertile time for new styles and new choices. One writer and director, who had already had some previous success with projects like The Producers and Get Smart, had a banner year for comedies in 1974. The writer and director was Mel Brooks.

Brooks had been in the business for a while, but never before or since, has one person had a bigger impact on a genre of cinema in a single year than Brooks. In the same year he helped to create two of the most well received comedies of all time, the politically un-correct and hilarious Blazing Saddles and our film choice, the sublime comedy homage to the Universal horror pictures of the 30's. Young Frankenstein. Young Frankenstein starred one of the 1970's biggest comedians, Gene Wilder, along with a superb comedic supporting cast of Peter Boyle, Madelin Khan, Marty Feldman, and Teri Garr. I also thought this a fitting tie, as just a few months ago I highlighted the foundation of this movie, 1931's Frankenstein.

The premise of the film is pretty simple and fairly close to the plot of the original Frankenstein. Gene Wilder plays Frederick von Frankenstein, the grandson of the original Victor von Frankenstein, a young neurosurgeon who has spent his life trying to live down his family legacy. When he inherits the family castle, he travels to the old country to review it along with his tightly wound fiancee, Elizabeth (Madelin Khan). At the castle he finds the descendant of his grandfather's lab partner, Igor (Marty Feldman), a comely new lab assistant Inga (Teri Garr) and house mistress Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman). Believing his grandfathers work to be impossible, he stumbles across a series of old journals and his grandfathers secret lab and comes to believe that it may be possible to re-animate the dead.

Frederick and Igor then steal a body from the grave yard and repeat the re-animation process, despite Igor taking the wrong brain from a local brain repository. They successfully bring the creature back to life (played by Peter Boyle) but he is wild and crazy. They manage to sedate him but the townspeople grow increasingly uncomfortable with the alleged experiments that Frederick is performing. Frau Blucher ends up freeing the creature and its roams the country side, meeting a blind hermit and a young gild before Frederick re-captures him through flattery. he attempts to train and civilize the beast, and even puts on a show for the townspeople to show the creature is harmless, unfortunately he is scared by a light exploding and goes on a rampage. He is captured and tormented but manages to escape, running into Elizabeth along the way. He ravishes her and she is taken back by his endowment and stamina. Frederick, desperate to correct his mistake, lures the creature back to the castle and transfers some of his intellect to the creature to stabilize his mind before the townspeople overrun and kill them both. In the end, the monster and Elizabeth fall in love, and Frederick and Inga find that intellect wasn't the only thing that was transferred between the two, much to Inga's delight.

Originally this film was pitched as a collaborative effort between Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, and Peter Boyle by their mutual agent. Their agent also brought aboard Mel Brooks, having just finished working with him on the blockbuster hit Blazing Saddles. Brooks came aboard on the pretense that he could help co-write the feature with Wilder and an instant comedy classic was born. Gene Wilder and Mel made the best pictures of their career and while Blazing Saddles may be the higher earner, I think Young Frankenstein had the better staying power and better performances. Wilder himself blends the perfect bit of comedian and manic mad genius, going from a fairly mild mannered scientist to a true mad scientist through the course of the film. He has such a great sense of timing and delivery and the lines are crisp and sharp and still hold up over 35 years later.

Peter Boyle, while not speaking much, brings a real physical style of comedy to the film as the clumsy monster. Up until his turn as Ray Romano's father on Everybody Loves Raymond this was his most merited role. Still he really makes the role his own, having great on screen chemistry with Madelin Khan and Gene Wilder. I think the other stand out in the film is Teri Garr, who really takes what could easily be a stereotypical blond bimbo role and makes it something uniquely funny and sexy. As for Marty Feldman, with his boggled out eyes and leers, it's almost as if he was born to play the role of Igor. Watch throughout the film as the hump on his back changes places during scenes. He did this at first on his own, no one catching until they were well into filming and they thought it was so funny that they worked it into the film itself.

This film is often called Brooks love letter to monster movies, while it teases and pokes fun at the foibles of monster films, it never does so maliciously. It very much tries to capture the flavor that these early films brought to life, even going so far as to track down the original lab equipment from the 1931 version of Frankenstein to equip the lab and give it a greater sense of authenticity. Even Brooks insistence that the film be shot in black and white is part of the charm. He was so set on keeping the authenticity of black and white that they left the original home studio, Columbia, to take the picture to 20th Century Fox who would produce it the way Wilder and Brooks wanted.

Another great element of the film are the great bits of homage that extend beyond the horror vein. I still laugh every time I watch the great Fred Astaire homage off Wilder and Peter Boyle dancing to "Putting on the Ritz" and Boyle warbly cries out the strangled chorus. Classic comedy at its finest. You can also see clear dedications to some of the other great comedians of the 1930's, specifically Marty Feldman as he channels Groucho Marx's delivery and jokes in several scenes. Brooks even got one of the biggest actors of the 1970's, Gene Hackman, to cameo in the role of the Blind Man that the monster stumbles across. Hackman was a huge actor at the time, fresh off a huge Oscar winning turn in The French Connection just a year earlier. It just shows how much fun the cast and crew were having.

Comedy is one of the hardest mediums to do. So much of a comedy can become dated and loose its humor. It's increasingly rare to find a film that can retain the elements that made it funny 35 years after it came out. Young Frankenstein does just that, made my people who loved what they were doing. The core cast and director had so much fun making the picture, the even wrote extra scenes to film at the end of the movie simply to be able to work together a little bit more, for a little bit longer. It's a film that indelibly holds up to the testament of time, working both as an homage to the great horror films of the 30's and as a comedy. So much of Blazing Saddles comedy was about the time the film was made, despite being Brooks' comedic love letter to the western, it relied heavily on humor about things like racism, segregation, and the troubling issues of the early 70's. To me, Young Frankenstein is more a pure comedy. If you have never seen it, check it out, it's easily the best work of Mel Brooks career, and you'll laugh too.

End of Line.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Poetry: Not Farewell

Hey all,

I was inspired to write this poem this morning, after reading through a bunch of twitter posts. It seems the loss of friends have struck a few of the people I follow in different ways. Really kind of sad. So I set out to make a poem that works on a few levels. I 'd like to think that simply on the surface the poem is about moving on, the deeper sub-text you can determine for yourself. Whether moving on from the loss of a friend, or simply moving from one station or job to another in life. In trying to keep the sub-text, I also tried to channel a little of the feelings I had when my room mate moved out, obviously not that its in the same class as the death of a friend, but still.

I really wanted this poem to be a positive, if poignant, message about the possibility of the future, and that one end simply marks another beginning. Hopefully that comes across, hopefully one of my followers will find some comfort in my words. Still, it felt nice to channel my own emotions, maybe someone else can find something of merit in these words. Anyway, thank you for reading and feel free to leave comments or critiques.

Not Farewell

So it's time to say goodbye,

But remember its not farewell.

For no matter what I may try,

Know there's a special place you'll dwell.

We may have left a word unsaid,

Or slowly grown apart.

Still I'm thankful for the path I've led,

Which kept you close at heart.

The memories of times we shared,

And of conversations past,

I hope you knew how much I cared,

That they could but ever last.

Leaving is never an easy play,

Looking back on where you were,

Passing moments that made the day,

Now but such a blur.

Though at times we disagreed,

And didn't see eye to eye,

Looking back I do indeed,

Wish we had but one more try.

Eventually the sting of loss,

Will slowly start to fade,

As regrets shiny gloss,

Eventually gets paid.

So au revoirs and farewell,

Aren't necessarily the ends,

In this life who can tell,

Exactly what the future portends.

I say my thanks for what you've done,

And all that you've come to mean.

For know that you've just begun,

As what comes next is still unseen.

End of Line.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 7

Eva looked longingly at the steaming tub of water her maid was making for her, watching as she poured another pot into the bubbly foam. She wasn't one of those girls who liked perfume and dresses, but she did enjoy a good, hot soak after a long stretch on the trail. Her maid helped her pull her boots off and began scrubbing them clean. Eva smiled graciously, a wide smile that lit the corners of her tanned face. She continued undressing, hanging her gun belt from the hook beside here mirror and folding her chaps across her hope chest. She un-buttoned her sweat soaked shirt and peeled her pants off, wadding them into a ball and tossing them into a hamper.

A small murmur of pleasure escaped her lips as she slid into the tub gingerly, feeling the warmth of the water seep into her bones. She sunk in up to her neck and just closed her eyes, letting the water wash away the last few days. Finally after several minutes, she opened them, staring out the third story window and out across the vastness of her families estate. It was still far to dark outside and there was nary a cloud in the sky. Something was prickling at her senses, something was out of place. She looked over to her maid, Emily, furiously scrubbing her boots over a washtub and sighed. She knew something was out of place. Something wasn't right. Eva set about scrubbing herself down and finished her bathing, thinking to have a talk with her Dad about her concerns.

Ever since she was little, Eva knew not to ignore this feeling. She'd had it during the cholera outbreak that had taken her mother and two brothers away and before the Indian attack that had cost her father the ability to walk unassisted. She even had it on the trail, trusting her instincts to act as a natural guide through rough and dangerous country. Instincts that had saved her life more than once. She got out of the tub and started drying herself off, rubbing the towel hard against her skin. Her maid had pulled out a fresh pair of black pants, the kind she liked that stayed snug on her waist and a light brown shirt with silver buttons. She was combing out her hair when she heard a scream, followed by shout from downstairs.

"QUICK! EMILY! EVA! Downstairs!"

Eva bounded down the stairs two at a time, hearing worry in her father's voice and cries of pain. She crested the final landing and saw her father and two of the ranch hands surrounding the couch in the parlor. She looked at the two men, Rex, the lead foreman and Bartley, one of the best drivers on the ranch, and saw their faces etched with concern. Emily and her rushed to the other side of the couch and saw Evan, one of the youngest boys on the farm, laying on the couch. His skin had taken on a sickly yellow mottle, flushed with sweat. He writhed in pain, as if something was eating him apart from the inside, his cries flinging spittle, blood, and foam from his mouth. Eva watched his eyes begin to take on a glassy haze, fogging over, and fixed her gaze on Rex and Bartley.

"What the fuck happened?"

She usually didn't use that kind of language in front of her father, but in the moment she slipped. Rex replied first.

"Bart found him out near the woods, he was stumbling towards the house, holding his arm. We heard him screaming."

Rex peeled back the mangled sleeve of Evan's shirt to reveal a festering bite mark unlike any she'd ever seen. The skin around it had turned black and hot, though the rest of him was clammy and cold. The wound seemed to bleed black and red through the compress they had put on it, and green pus streamed from the wound. Eva looked to her father, who shook his head sadly. Evan began to thrash harder now, so hard that Bart and Rex had to hold him down so he wouldn't throw himself off the couch. He twisted violently, a loud bloodcurdling shout escaping his lips, before falling still. Evan's eyes, once foggy, now seemed completely black, as a final gasping breath left his still body.

Emily began to cry hysterically, and Eva hugged her father fiercely. Evan, only 15 years old, was dead.

End of Line.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

FlashFiction: Addendum

Hey all,

I usually don't throw any pre-course up on my short stories, I like to let people make their own interpretation of the story, as opposed to my poetry, which I like to talk a little bit about in terms of what I was aiming for. Anyway last week I had some difficulty writing and this was a story I crafted after taking some notes during a bit of location writing. Occasionally I'll head out to a well traveled area and just sit and write, or take notes. After a suggestion from my good friend, I did this again in hopes of shaking off the writers block I had hit. This is a story I crafted after watching two people fight in a mall while pushing a kid in a stroller. I tried to make it my own, and you can certainly draw your own conclusions from the tale. It's a one off story, so this is the full tale. I'll be returning to regular Flash Fiction serials later in the week. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy this more serious attempt at micro fiction.

End of Line.

Flash Fiction: Violet


I felt her hand touch my shoulder but to be fair, I smelled her long before that. That soft scent of violet, my scent, cutting through the smoke and pallor of the bar. She always wore that scent for me. Just for me. Especially at times like today. I didn't look up, afraid to see her reflection in the mirror that ran the length of the bar counter. Afraid of the memories, afraid of the things that once were, afraid of looking into her eyes just one more time.

"Ellis....Ellis honey you need to stop."

I swirled the brown liquor in my glass, splashing it around the two well worn ice cubes at the bottom. I closed my eyes and tossed the last drink back, feeling the warm burn course down my throat. I lowered the glass back to the bar and opened my eyes again when me head was down, staring at those two ice cubes as they tinkled inside the cup. I felt her grip tighten on my shoulder and I resisted the urge to inhale deeply, resisted the urge to fill my head with violet.

"Ellis, baby, this isn't the answer. I know you're hurting, but you can't do this again. Not to yourself.......not to me."

I slammed the glass down on the counter, hard, the two ice cubes bouncing in the glass. I knew she was gonna lay this card. The guilt card. It was really the only one left. I'd long worn out pity and forgiveness by now. It was the only card she had left. The only one she could still use that I might still buy. To bad for her I was far to numb for that one today. Or ever again for that matter. I let myself take a small whiff of violet before talking. For old times sake I said. For memory.

"Babe, you made it clear how you felt about me. About us. You made it crystal clear in fact. You didn't want me anymore. You didn't love me. So I don't really see why you should give one god damn about me now."

I still didn't look up. Fuck, I didn't even raise my voice. To be honest, I couldn't let myself. It had taken a long time to get where I was right now, and I'll be damned if I was gonna break. I motioned for the bartender to pour me another, slipping a wad of crumpled bills on the counter. Money, fortune, fame, celebrity, fuck it. It was nothing a nice drink couldn't take anyway when you wanted it to.

"El, I never wanted to hurt you. Whether you believe it or not, I loved you. I still love you..... in a way. We shared a life together, a life filled with some bad times sure, but there were a few good moments too. I don't want to see you do this to yourself. I don't want your daughter to see this happen to you."

With that line I did finally let out a course laugh, jagged and raw, that ended in a small fit of coughing. I used the napkin under my glass to cover my mouth and crumpled it up before she could see the red tinged remains in the paper. Still that last line had been pretty funny. The bartender poured me another drink and I grabbed his arm before he could go. I tossed the drink back again, keeping my eyes closed one more time and set the drink on the counter. I rattled my cup, those lonely ice cubes now little more than slivers, and beckoned for a refill. I staved off another throaty chuckle before answering her.

"Dear, you were pretty explicit about my status with Vi. You've barely let me near her in the last two years. She thinks I'm a deadbeat and a loser and for the most part, you were pretty happy not to change that point of view. Fuck, I thought you having me sign adoption waivers so Andy could step in made in crystal fucking clear where I stood with Vi. As for the good times, I remember them well. Every time I look at a painting, every time I pick up a brush, I remember them. The bad times though? Those didn't come until after."

I felt her hand fall off my shoulder, but I didn't look up. The bartender brought me another drink and I fumbled for a cigarette out of my coat pocket. There were only two left, but that was okay. This was probably gonna be my last pack anyway. I thumbed one out and lit it with a match from one of the free packets they gave out at the bar. The smoke burned at first, my throat still a little raw from the coughing, but soon it felt smooth as silk. I tossed another drink back and listened to the fresh ice rattle in the glass. I did love that sound. I puffed in silence, trying to use the smoke to mask her scent, such a soft scent that seemed to fill the air when she was near me, cloying, not letting go. I tried to push it away, push it from my mind. But I couldn't. Not yet. Finally after I'd nearly finished the cigarette she spoke.

"Fuck you Ellis. Fuck you you fucking asshole. I don't give a fuck about what you do anymore. If this is what you want then fucking do it you fucking pussy. Fuck you for giving up. Fuck you for quitting on Violet, but most of all fuck you for quitting on me you fuck."

She turned to walk away then. I could hear her spin on her heel. She has been so calm and monotone through the speech. Even and measured, like she had practiced it. Fuck she probably had. Calm and measured though, right up until those last two words. You Fuck. I could hear the derision in her voice. The scorn. All the years of pent of hate and anger she'd had at me set free in two little syllables.

I bounded up from the stool, upending it behind me and threw the glass at the mirror behind the bar. It shattered, spider webbing cracks all along the length of the mirror, shards strewn about the floor and into the bottled liquors underneath. I did look up now. I could see her back to me in the reflections, hundreds of shots of her with her back to me. Hundreds of shots of her smooth brown hair falling across that worn woolen jacket she always wore to work. Her black skirt was a little longer than she use to wear it, but it was my girl. I stared at the myriads of her reflections, each sliver like a vein to my heart.

"I never quit on you Becca. Let's not forget who left who here. Let's not forget who killed who here. You were the shining sun of my heart Becca. Sometimes though, things shine too bright and they burn you. I wasn't perfect Bec, never said I was. But I never quit on you and I certainly never quit on Vi, You two were my everything. Sometimes though, everything just isn't enough anymore."

She never turned back around. I just watched each reflection walk away, the clack of her heels echoing in the silent bar. I watched each reflection leave me, each one killing me a little bit more than the one before, a thousand tiny deaths. I watched her walk out that bar and saw the love of my life for the last time. I tried to catch her scent in the air, but it to had left with her. I slowly picked up the stool and dropped another crumpled wad of bills onto the bar, paying for the rest of the bottle I'd been working on, and the damage to the mirror. I had him put some fresh ice into my glass and I walked out of the bar, bottle and glass in hand.

Violet would be taken care of, that I knew for sure. between the adoption papers and everything else I'd arranged, I wasn't worried about her. I popped the last smoke out of the pack and crumpled up the empty carton, tossing it aside as I walked down to the beach. I rattled the ice in the glass, enjoying the fresh sound of ice tinkling against the glass walls. Another rack of coughing forced me to stop for a moment, but after a few minutes it passed. I wiped my mouth on my sleeves, the red tinges fading into the black leather of my coat. I took a drink straight from the bottle and checked my watch, finding it just shy of 2:00 AM.

The beach stretched out before me, the waves lapping against the coast, the waters dark and mysterious. Next to fresh ice, the sound of the ocean was my favorite sound. I kicked off my shoes and socks and let the sand squeeze through my toes and I sat down on the cusp of the shore line. The sand was a damp and there was just enough of a tide that occasionally a small wave of salt water would run over my toes. I poured another drink and thought that it might not be a bad idea to see just one more sunrise.

End of Line.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Poetry: 600

Hey all,

600 posts! Wow. Hard to think that I would have stuck with this for so long but I am really happy that I did. I usually commemorate centennial posts with a numerically themed poem, so I continued tradition today. This poem took several days of brainstorming to find the central theme, the journey through life as well as a kind of homage to the journey of the blog, though the poem is a bit more of a forecast to the future. I really tried to change up the rhyming scheme and the pattern of the poem, work in a format that isn't my usual style which is always good. I tend to fall into the same patterns of rhyming couplets and 4 line stanzas, so I liked the 8-12-8 format of this one, even if it was a bit shorter. I tried to expand it but extra lines in the first 8 seemed redundant, and I thought that the three stages of life motif should stay, so short long short is essentially what I was aiming for.

Still I am very happy to be at this personal milestone for me. Hope you enjoy the poem, and hopefully I'll have a special piece of Flash Fiction up tomorrow. Thanks for reading and sticking around with me these past 600 posts.


Words or ways once laid blank.

My whole life an empty slate.

All the future so bright and gay,

Ready to challenge even fate.

The unknown future still ahead,

A journey towards the rising sun.

Looking to the far off beyond,

And all the things to be done.

The journey there seemed so long.

Each step one day towards the whole.

Some new task or tale to tell,

To bring me closer to my goal.

I met so many people on the way,

Enemies and lovers along the path.

Happy times that rang of cheer,

Broken hearts that earned me wrath.

Still did I walk the road,

With friends that lay close at hand,

Scribed my tales of joy and pain,

On a journey just to understand.

Though as the trail reaches its end,

With each passing tick of the clock,

I try to capture the thoughts I lost,

From the path of life I walked.

Whether 600 steps or one,

You're always wanting more,

The journeys what you really love,

It's so very hard to close the door.

End of Line.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Word Balloon! Liberty Meadows

Hey all,

For the month of March I thought we would take a look at an entirely different genre of comic books, a genre that is often over looked in the world of capes and cowls, and even the gritty urban and offbeat independent titles that I often cover. The humor comic. To be honest they don't make many any more, or the ones that are often times are funny in the extreme sense, either via explicit content or language or over the top graphic humor. Very few books try to have mass range humor appeal. This month's book uses a medium that really only Disney comics uses anymore, a medium that hasn't been in vogue since the late 1940's and '50's. The funny talking animal book. This month's book is Frank Cho's Liberty Meadows.

Liberty Meadows is a comic about life at an Animal Rehabilitation and Sanctuary that's inhabited by a variety of funny and quirky characters and the adventures they get into. The star of the book is Brandy, a tall voluptuous animal psychiatrist who works at the sanctuary along with Frank, a shy nerdy veterinarian who is hopeless in love with Brandy. The two of them care for the eclectic cast of talking animals at the sanctuary, including Dean the pig, a hard partying former college mascot, Ralph, a former midget circus bear and inventor, Leslie, a hypochondriac bullfrog, as well as Truman a meekly polite duckling and Oscar, a wiener dog (also the only animal that can't talk). There are a few other characters, including Jen, Brandy's buxom and devilish room mate and Julius, the Sanctuary's boss.

Liberty Meadows is actually a comic strip like you read in the paper, it started off being published in the school newspaper as artist Frank Cho was in college. He moved it into syndication and the strip appeared in numerous papers across the country. Cho quickly tired of his editors heavy hand and the censorship issues he faced on a daily basis with the strip and decided in 2001 to cease its publication in newsprint form. Cho decided to move it entirely into the comic book format, initially at Insight Studios until moving to its current home at Image Studios. Each month he would collect the strips he drew and publish them as a comic book collected. His early comic book issues were dedicated to republishing the strip to the new market and new readership base he was gaining, which also allowed him to go back and fix some of the censorship issues that really bothered him during the initial publication.

Liberty Meadows was a quick hit in the comic book industry, attracting both new readers to Liberty Meadows, and opening the door for other creators to take their work into the comic format. Frank Cho especially became a hot commodity in demand. Cho was not just a cartoonist, though he worked so easily in that style. He worked in a medley of artistic formats, including classic illustration. He could seamlessly fit both classical line item drawings in with cartoons that were not only funny and charming, but technically amazing. Demand for Cho's pencils became so in demand that marvel Comics even inked him to an exclusive deal that in recent years have excluded him from publishing new Liberty Meadows work, but that has opened up a wide realm of comic book illustration on books like Shanna the She Devil, The Avengers, and currently The New Ultimates from Marvel.

Back to Liberty Meadows itself though. In the series Cho creates this crazy, zany, very funny world but really populates the characters with genuine emotion. You root for shy Frank to finally find the courage to tell Brandy how he feels, and you laugh as the various animals as each get into trouble, from Ralph's inventions which never work quite right, to chauvinistic Dean trying to pick up on women who clearly want nothing to do with him. The world and events around them are totally a cartoon, but each character has a genuine resonance that keeps you smiling and rooting for the next strip.

Liberty Meadows is funny and broad in a way that many comic strips just are not. Willing to take a chance and push the envelope of taste and public conception, but never in a gross or overly foul way. Cho doesn't write down to his audience, he's telling stories that people can relate too, referencing popular culture and films, and tastefully lampooning other canonical comic strips like Cathy and Peanuts in a way that both points out the lost humor of those strips and treats them respectfully as peers.

the only real complaint about Liberty Meadows is the lack of new material. A new issue hasn't been released since 2006, though Frank Cho has worked on numerous books in the last few years. Despite the excellent artwork he has provided on the Avengers and the Ultimates, I eagerly await new Liberty Meadows work. I often find that the most personal works of a creator is often times when they create their best material. Liberty Meadows is that rare comic that makes you laugh and smile, the comic that reminds you that comic books were first just that, comics. Meant to be funny and humorous. So often we get lost in what comics have become that we forget what comics were. Liberty meadows will remind you of this. I wholeheartedly recommend picking up the first trade, Liberty Meadows: Eden, available from Image Comics.

End of Line.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 6

Morgan lost his footing, falling on his backside as he watched the horror unfold before him. The thing kept pulling itself free from the grave, clawing at the earth and tearing at the pine planks that use to house its body. It just couldn't be what he thought it was, but his eyes kept going back to that ring, golden against her wedding dress, the white lace and fringe yellowing in her months beneath the Earth. The ring he had given her all those years ago. His wife had risen from the dead, if what he saw could still even be called his wife.

Her skin had turned yellow and sour, where there was still skin. Yellowed muscle and bone stuck out beneath the her dress, maggots rooted inside the pockets of torn flesh. Her gloves had ripped at the fingertips, which had been replaced by sharpened black points. You could smell the foul odor, like rot and corruption that seemed to fill the air in a thick cloying fashion, invading your lungs and roiling your gut. It was her mouth though that had changed, her once beautiful features gone, replaced by a mask of horrors. Her once lustrous hair patchy and lank, her blue eyes now lifeless black orbs behind the remains of her wedding veil. But her mouth, stretched abnormally wide, lined with jagged sharp black teeth. A mouth stretched wide and snapping its way towards him.

"Eliza........God no Eliza......"

Morgan continued to crawl backwards as the creature freed itself from the grave and began working its way towards him. It didn't move quickly at first, but its jaws worked in an abnormal speed, quickening with each step closer to Morgan. It didn't speak, just let out a throaty growl that got louder and louder until it turned into a curdling scream. Morgan finally stumbled to his feet, still unwittingly clutching the pick in his hands. He kept backing away as the creature quickened its pace even more, her dull black eyes never leaving Morgan. Long greenish saliva dripped from her maw as she let out a swipe with her claws.


Morgan felt tears welling in his eyes as he moved farther back, feeling the salty tears run down the dirt and grim on his face. He tried to blink them away as the monster moved forward. It let out another swipe of its claws and Morgan felt a gust of wind as he jerked his body away from her snapping jaw, throwing his body backwards. He landed bad on a hard patch of ground, a sharp rock ripping a small furrow in his elbow. He glanced at the cut, at the trickles of red blood that flowed from the injury. Morgan got to his feet, bringing the pick in front of him defensively as the monster began to move even quicker, nostrils flaring and becoming even more incensed. It ran a blackened tongue over its jaws and moved in, anxious for the taste of fresh blood. It was then Morgan realized that this was only going to end one way. With him killing his wife, and he wondered if he had the strength to do that a second time.

End of Line.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Movie Review: Cop Out

Hey all,

I was very excited to catch the new Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan action comedy Cop Out last night. This movie has so much going for it from my perspective, Bruce Willis is easily one of my favorite actors working today and the film is directed by perennial fanboy favorite Kevin Smith. Even Tracy Morgan, a person who's manic comedic style isn't always for everyone seemed very funny in the trailers for the film. I was really ready to love this film and it really makes me sad to say that the film doesn't measure up to the expectations that I had.

The premise of Cop Out is pretty simple, Willis and Morgan are two cops who have been partnered for 9 years. Willis is divorced and struggling to come up with enough money to pay for his daughters extravagant wedding plans. Morgan is married to a beautiful wife (Parks and Rec's Rashida Jones) but is riddled with insecurities about her fidelity. The two get involved in a case after Willis is caught in a surprise robbery trying to sell off a valuable baseball card to pay for the wedding. Suspended from the force they get involved in a plot with a baseball loving Mexican drug dealer named Po' Boy (played by Guillermo Diaz) and a drug dealers kidnapped mistress (Ana de la Reguera). Without police backup, they have to find Willis card, stop the drug dealer, keep the hostage safe, and clear Morgan's name after his gun is used by the gangsters in a murder.

It sounds like there is a lot going on in Cop Out right? You'd be wrong. The film is really mired by two key elements, the writing and the directing. Let's look at the writing first. Written by Mark and Rob Cullen, the script really can't decide what kind of movie it wants to be. It's certainly trying to homage the great buddy cop comedy action movies of the 80's, like 48 Hours, Beverly Hills Cops, and the early Lethal Weapon films. What made those movies both fun and funny was the relationship between the two detectives. The crazy loose cannon and the stiff straight man and on paper that certainly seems like what Cop Out should be, Willis constantly irritated by Morgan's actions, but honestly you get the feeling that he is amused by the whole thing. he never gets exasperated or angry with Morgan, there wasn't that same kind of chemistry between them. This felt more like the chemistry in the 4th Lethal Weapon film where you would expect the familiarity to creep through. I'm not saying the two guys have to hate each other, but its the differences in the two that bring them closer together through the film, I felt like we missed that part in this movie.

Looking at the plot it was also a little week. Po'Boy seems almost like a caricature of a villain and never really brings the fear or gravitas of a bad guy. It just seemed like another chance to use him for comic relief in any moment that he wasn't in an action sequence. I don't even want to get started on the two rival detectives in the film, played by Kevin Pollack and Adam Brody. I think Pollack was picked solely based on the simple Robert De Nero joke he makes and Adam Brody I think was trying to be funny, but simply comes across as forced and awkward. It's like the two of them were meant to be foils to Willis and Morgan, the straight and narrow cops versus the unorthodox cops, but it just felt forced. Sean William Scott of American Pie fame also has a role as a creepy burglar that didn't quite jibe to me as well. I certainly think his character was supposed to be a kind of 2010 version of Joe Pesci's character from the Lethal Weapon films, playing that annoying over the top style of comedy that's meant to be another foil to the characters. Honestly I felt the performance was not really fleshed out or tied far enough into the story for the screen time he was given, especially considering the minimal impact he had on the overall plot in the end.

Let's look at the directing now. I'm a huge Kevin Smith fan and I have loved most of the films he has made in the past. This film was a huge departure for Smith in a lot of ways. First off, it's his first big budget film, most of his films have cost around 20 million dollars, a price tag that certainly hasn't attracted actors the caliber of Bruce Willis. That brings us to the second point, it's his first film starring a leading actor the caliber of Bruce Willis and a cast composed of a majority of actors outside his usual cast of regulars. I mean if you take Ben Affleck out of the equation, whom Smith helped put on the map, he really hasn't ever directed a lead Hollywood actor. Thirdly, it's his first film where he is directing it from a screenplay that he hasn't written. He's directed his own vision in the past, this time he is adapting some one elses. Fourth, he's never really directed action sequences before. His films are a lot of talking and comedy, there usually isn't shoot outs or car chases. This is a lot of unmarked territory for the director.

Unfortunately a lot of this unfamiliarity is exposed in the film. The action sequences don't really have a lot of pep or zing in them, and in most instances you don't really get any feeling of adrenalin or any kind of rush due to the staging of the sequences. His inexperience in this area was readily apparent and really took me out of the action. I would have liked to see a more experienced stunt coordinator or even a 2nd unit director with a pedigree in action films. Another impression I got was a sense of intimation from Smith. Firstly in sticking to the script almost slavishly. The best scenes were the ones that felt improvised, especially between Sean William Scott and Tracy Morgan, and early on in the film as Morgan is interrogating a prisoner. Anytime he let the actors be the actors, I felt the film was stronger, but really it felt like he didn't want to deviate from his script, which is a very un-Kevin Smith like thing to do. He usually gives his actors a wide range of approach, here it felt like they didn't have that same sense of freedom, like we was afraid to change what was on the page.

As a director, Smith is considered not really to have an approach or style of filmmmaking by most critics, though I always thought that he was known for his dialog and characterization as a means to mark his approach. I didn't feel like he felt like he could do that here. This also is apparent in his handling of Bruce Willis. Willis seemed bored and flat in his role. I don't think that Smith felt comfortable giving an actor the caliber of Willis, whom Smith clearly had idolized prior to entering the business, clear directions. He never coaxed a performance out of Willis short of Bruce being Bruce, which is a shame because both the director and the actor deserved more.

The sad part of this film is that despite everything I've said, it's not a bad film, its simply lackluster. It's a movie who never reaches it's potential, a potential that was readily apparent to me with a simple re-write and a different approach. Ratcheting up the tension between Bruce and Tracy would have gone so far towards making this movie more enjoyable. Tracy was playing the role just like I thought, Bruce needed to play the straight man more. Kevin Smith is a director who understands relationships and characters, he's not who you get to direct action. He works best using actors he is familiar with, he's more of a modern day dick and fart joke version of Woody Allen if that makes sense.

The best advice I can give you is to wait for video on this one. It's not a total waste as it does have a few really funny comedic moments but overall it never quite measures up to the high hopes that we have for it. It may seem like I had nothing positive to say as I focused so much on the negatives, but its simply because I wanted this film to be good and the things I saw should have been readily apparent to everyone involved. I think the first sign was when they watered down the name to the film. Originally it was to be titled A Couple of Dicks, as a pun on cops being referred to as dicks. That style of humor was much closer to what Smith brings as a filmmaker. This film was far short of its potential In the end, you should pass on Cop Out, as the only play on words in the new title was its promise.

End of Line.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Poetry: Trapped

Hey all,

Trying to continue to shake the doldrums of writing out of my system and yesterday I sat down at the computer and just shut out all types of media; music (which never worked for me when writing anyway) social networking sites, email, messengers, all of it. Just shut myself away from every distraction. Something I think was very much on my mind as I wrote the poem that you read below. It came together pretty fast actually, I think in around 45 minutes or so. I did a few read throughs afterwords, and even let it sat for a bit and came back to re-read it this morning. I'm not sure if its a strong poem or not, but I finished it and it felt good to get creatively stirred for at least a few minutes.

I'm going to attempt this weekend to run some writing drills by taking my laptop and notepads out and about to do some location writing. Ever since my room mate moved out I have had a difficult time getting myself into that writing mode. My routines are all displaced and establishing new routines have not been as easy as I would have liked. Still I'm going to continue to plink away at these words and find some measure of creative output.

At any rate let me know what you think about the poem.


Hollow sounds in echoed halls,

Trapped inside the narrowing walls.

Closing in the sides do bear,

No escape the here nor there.

I cry aloud a voice unheard,

Yet it resounds without a word.

The empty dark is pierced by light,

As blackened tendrils leak in the night.

Outside the window the sun prevails,

Here within lies a murky veil.

Drenched in shadow without a hope,

Clawing at a salvation out of grope.

Huddled cold all by myself,

Loneliness becomes my sole wealth.

The hurt and pain have grown so numb,

Parts of me no longer measure a sum.

It's dark and cold and I'm so alone,

The sins I cast are mine to own.

The days begin to shorten now,

Withdrawing in the world dis-vowed.

Pull the shades to darkness clenched,

And drown myself in pity drenched.

Wallow low in tears and guilt,

In this self worn prison which I've built.

Lock the door and brace for the end,

Biding time as the guilt does rend.

Trapped away from all the world,

Free from the barbs of hope unfurled.

No one is there to care for me,

As I'm barricaded in my apathy.

No chance for the world to sting,

Or lost lovers to charm the broken ring.

No spurning of my shattered heart,

And I alone must piece whole the parts.

Why take a chance at fate,

Or risk another hurtful date.

Instead I'll ply away the years,

Hidden deep inside these walled fears.

I'll say farewell and start to cope,

And let go at last to flailing hope.

End of Line.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland

Hey all,

This past weekend I headed to the theaters to check out Disney's latest adaptation of Alice in Wonderland from the great mind of Tim Burton. I am a huge Burton fan. I believe him to be one of a very few directors on a very short list that are true visionaries in film making right now. Burton always brings his unique vision and directorial style to each project, infusing even the broadest subject with his own unique flair and sensibility. Alice in Wonderland was a film that I was very much anticipating this year, as it marked Burton's re-teaming with two of his usual suspects, Helena Bonham Carter and the great Johnny Depp. Unfortunately, Alice in Wonderland didn't live up to my expectations.

The story, based on author Lewis Carroll's children's classics, Alice in Wonderland, the sequel Through the Looking Glass, and his poem The Jabberwocky, all act as the basis for a completely new tale for Alice, her third visit to Wonderland, here called Underland, as a 19 year old girl on the cusp of her wedding. The film draws its inspiration from each story, using familiar elements and characters in a retread of story ideas that Alice is supposedly experiencing for the first time, again. Sounds convoluted? It is.

Alice (newcomer Mia Wasikowska) fleeing a proposal of marriage, follows the White Rabbit down the Rabbit Hole and meets many of the characters from the story, The Dormouse, the Chesire Cat, The Mad Hatter, all of whom believe her to be the prophecised one, the one who will wield the Vorpal sword and slay the Jabberwocky (a dragon) to rid Underland from the rule of the tyrannical Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and restoring the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) to power. Along the way she is helped by the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) whose role is fleshed out in the movie, giving us insight into how exactly he became mad. In the end, a reluctant Alice must decide if she is really experiencing these adventures and take up the mantle of hero.

I think my biggest problem with the movie is the story. First, I don't really get the need for this to be a third adventure when it recycles so many elements from the books. The Mad Hatter's Tea Party, the Eat Me, Drink Me riddle of sizes, following the Rabbit Hole, the Red Queen playing croquet and being generally insufferable. I think the real point was to add the climatic fight scene against the Jabberwocky in the end. Bonham Carter's Red Queen is really a one note character, screaming "Off with their heads" endlessly and not really bringing any depth to the role. One of the great things about the book was that it dealt with issues like puberty and maturation in a way that didn't beat either child or adult reader over the head. Here its a bit more ham fisted. Some things can't be avoided, but you never get the feeling that Alice learns this lesson, you just learn that she does it.

I also missed Alice's sense of curiosity. The books are so filled with the wonder and insanity that permeates Wonderland and Alice's reaction to it. In the film Alice seems almost reluctant and at times down right angry at being inconvenienced. You never get that sense of wonder as she travels through her adventure and at meeting all these strange and wonderful creatures. Especially considering that she isn't supposed to remember her previous trips here, the whole time it felt like she was being inconvenienced by this adventure, a feeling I certainly never felt in the books or other adaptations. I mean there may have been moments of frustration previously or confusion, but following each trial she would revert to her curious nature.

There were some good moments in the film. Visually Tim Burton still has a wonderful eye for creating both macabre and the wonderful. Each character has a look that is, while utterly stylized Tim Burton, still easily identifiable with the preconceived notions of what we expect the characters to look like, from Helena Bonham Carter's huge headed Red Queen to Johnny Depp's unique take on the Mad Hatter. Personally I loved the pale look of Anne Hathaway's White Queen, having both the sense of hope and a sense of the bizarre in her look. Visually Wonderland/Underland is also unique, especially in 3D as Burton makes the world come alive, the lustrous color and digital effects work are really top of the line. That being said I thought some of the 3D effects were off kilter and didn't jibe well, though I have been told by many people that those issues are not in the 2D version of the film. A few times the 3D effects didn't line up in accordance and made everything fuzzy. I am not sure if this is true in all versions, or just the theater I saw it in, or if it was an IMAX error so take that as you will.

Casting was pretty strong overall too. Johnny Depp does his usual best with Burton, finding an undercurrent in the Mad Hatter, especially when you look at the origin of the Hatter and how he became the person he is, that really sets his performance apart from the rest. Anne Hathaway's White Queen is very good too. She is quickly carving out a wide range of roles and acting experiences and she lends a very Tim Burton-esque performance to her White Queen, both eccentric and creepy with just the right touch of sadness and pathos. Mia Wasikowska does an admirable job with the material and I would love to see her in something else. She had a very wide-eyed innocent quality that I think really comes across in her acting, though I didn't think the way the script treated Alice did her role justice. Helena Bonham Carter is also criminally underused in this movie. Her Red Queen is a one note joke with no depth of character, even when they try to add in a sub plot of romance with the Knave of Hearts (played by the wonderfully creepy Crispin Glover) they never really do anything with her character. She's simply vapid and shrill, screaming "Off with her head!" over and over. Which in theory would be okay if that hadn't taken the time to flesh out the other characters of Wonderland, like the Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and the White Queen. The film also boasts some great voice talent, Stephen Fry as the Cheshire Cat, Alan Rickman as the Caterpillar, Michael Sheen as the White Rabbit, Timothy Spall as Bayard, and the great Christopher Lee as the voice of the Jabberwocky. Really great casting, if not always effectual in performance.

The bottom line for me is that I think that Tim Burton got in his own way making this movie, it was already primed for him to adapt this film and it feels like he is trying so hard to make this movie feel like a Tim Burton film that he doesn't let it breathe. A simple straight adaptation of the film would have benefited him more as well. It feels like the movie was written so that we could have a final climatic battle between Alice and the Jabberwocky. To be honest, you can also see the palpable differences in the film where the studio wanted something and where Burton got his way. I'd really like to see him go back to developing his own properties again. Alice in Wonderland feels like Tim Burton trying very hard to be Tim Burton if that makes sense. What is sad is that he shouldn't have tried so hard to force the film, the film is there underneath all the other stuff if he had only spent some time on the script more.

In the end from what I have read and seen, reviews on the film have been about 50/50, with some people loving what the film has done, and other like me who see the potential faults in the movie. This is honestly one of those times when I have to say make your own opinion about the film. I didn't care for it and I love Tim Burton typically. Disney's Alice in Wonderland is a huge spectacle of a film that has opportunities in itself. Personally I think that Burton is one of the best directors working today and with the depth of talent he had in the cast, this movie fell far short of my expectations.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 5

Cody Jarrett finally let out a sigh of relief as the river crossing loomed into view. His horse was nearly dead, foaming from the mouth and blood streaming down her flanks from his spurs. Cody willed a few more steps out of the horse and jumped out of his saddle drawing his pearl handled Colt in the same motion. Two men were working this side of the station, a younger man and another older man with a beard. Cody shot the young one before he even spoke.

"Signal them to take us across or you're next."

He accentuated the point by drawing the hammer back on his gun. The old timer nodded, his eyes welling up with tears. Using his gun he motioned for the Johnson brothers to get on the barge. It was a large square raft big enough to carry 2 covered wagons. It had a single post in the center of it, through which ran a large rope that was suspended across the river. Each end was tethered to a large winch, which was wound or unwound depending on the direction the barge needed to travel. The river rushed and churned beneath the barge as Cody watched as Beau helped Buford onto the barge then when back to lead the three horse on, and their cargo. Cody dragged the old man along by the scruff of his neck and threw him onto the boat, thumbing back the hammer.

"Signal. Now."

The old man slowly reached into his pocket, pulling out a small mirror, and flashed across the river. After a few moments the ropes when taunt and the barge began to move across the swelling waters. Cody allowed himself a small smile, knowing that freedom was mere moments away. He turned his gave to the Johnson brothers, Buford pale and sweating, knowing that his share of the loot was going to increase soon. He eyed Beau and allowed his smile to go even wider, his finger gently caressing the trigger of his Colt, still aimed at the old man. Soon.

As the barge pulled in Cody calmly walked to the end of the dock, eyeing the three people that were coming down to greet them, two burly workers and a slight girl in a simple brown dress. Cody smiled wide and raised his Colt before any of them could react. His gun thundered twice and both workers fell to the ground. The girl started screaming and after a quick step forward he brought the but of his pistol around across her face. Her lip split and she fell to the ground, sobbing. He hit her again on the back on the head and she fell silent. He wiped the blood from the gun and returned to the barge, thinking the girl may provide some fun in the next day or two, if she lived. Beau had his gun trained on the old man, whose face was red and stained with tears. Cody brought his gun up again.

"Beau, cut the rope so that the Marshall can't follow us. Then get three fresh horses out of the stable. It'll take him at least two days to get to the next possible crossing. I'll handle our captain here."

Cody's gun thundered one more time.

End of Line.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Kick Ass - Hit Girl

Movie Review: Kick-Ass!

Hey all,

One of the perks of being a very loyal customer of my comic book shop, Atomic Comics, payed off in a big way today, with an invitation to watch a very early advance screening of the new comic book adaptation of Kick-Ass, starring Aaron Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Nicolas Cage. Based on Marvel Comics creator owned Icon imprint by writer Mark Millar and artist John Romita, Jr, it's a decidedly different take on the super hero genre. Some people may be familiar with writer Mark Millar's previous comic book film adaptation, Wanted, a violently dark take on super powered killing. Here in Kick-Ass, Millar has eschewed super powers and replaced them with honesty, well for the most part. Kick-Ass is a very honest, and often brutal, take on what super heroes would look like in the real world. Often times, its not pleasant.

The film is directed by Matthew Vaughn, no stranger to adapting comics to films, whose previous directorial credits including adapting Neil Gaimen's fantasy tale Stardust to the screen. While I felt that Vaughn missed a lot of what made Stardust special, he really went back to the basics of film making, channeling more of the grittiness from his first film, the caper flick Layer Cake. With Kick-Ass Vaughn and company do something that few super hero movies have managed to do, create characterization not through drawn out emoting, but through actions. The more each character tries or pushes at challenges, the more we grow to love them. Without delving into trite in fighting or pouting, the team manages to create characters who are funny, sad, poignant, and honest all at once.

Kick-Ass is the story of Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), your typical high school schlub. Not popular or well-liked, struggling with bullies and an apparent invisibility to the opposite sex. A big fan of comic books, one day he wonders why nobody in history has ever really tried to become one. Just one person out trying to help people. He decides that he should be first. After ordering a a wet suit online, he adapts it to become the masked vigilante, Kick-Ass! The problem is, Dave doesn't really have any training and after confronting two bullies, he learns the hard way that it won't be as easy as he thought.

Meanwhile, two other people have begin a quest for vengeance themselves, Nic Cage as Big Daddy, a Batman-esque vigilante, and his foul mouth 12 year old daughter, Hit-Girl. They are after crime boss Frank D'Amico, the man who framed Big Daddy and sent him to prison, the resulting stress of which cost his wife to take her life after giving birth to his daughter. The duo think Kick-Ass has potential when they run across him trying to take down one of D'Amico's men, a situation of which Kick-Ass is vastly outclassed.

The film really culminates as D'Amico's son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse{McLovin of Superbad}) poses as the masked vigilante, Red Mist, to get closer to Kick-Ass, whom D'Amico believes has been killing his men due to the Internet popularity that Kick-Ass has achieved. Not realizing that both Big Daddy and Hit-Girl are the real culprits. Eventually this leads to a final dramatic confrontation with D'Amico, with Kick-Ass caught in the middle.

What I loved about this movie was the great blend of humor and horror they show. Some of the fights and beatings that happen are brutal, its a dark kind of gallows humor in the sheer honestly of reality. Though truth be told, much of Kick-Ass's life outside of the suit is rife with comedy, especially the sub-plot of the girl of Dave's dreams thinking that he is gay and him playing along to get closer. What I thought was really good though was the films ability to finally make a really good nerdy character that isn't just a copy of the kind of role Michael Cera plays in Superbad. Here is a fully realized character with great flaws and pathos, that isn't just a copy.

Plus Chloe Grace Moretz turns in one of my favorite performances ever as Hit-Girl. Foul mouthed and ready to fight, she steals every scene she is in throughout the film, no small task considering the talent around her. She says and does things that should have easily gave that movie an NC 17 rating, but her role is so fun and refreshing you can't help but want to see more of her on the screen. One of the few things in the film that doesn't really stay based on reality is her fighting prowess, that her training and focus easily have her killings scores of men, but even Hit-Girl has to face the truth at the end of the movie, in another brutal beat down.

The best thing I can say about the movie is that the film tries to stay grounded in reality. While Hit-Girl is a whirling dervish of fighting, it's hearkens more to traditional wire work fighting and stunts rather than the huge spectacle and CG effects of a movie like Transformers. It stays true to the honesty of the world it has created, while sometimes taking liberties, it never let's the audience outside of this more or less real world. From the beatings that the casts take, to the violence of the action sequences, you are never cheated.

I can't really make any complaints about the film. It does such a good job of fleshing out the characters, from Dave's friends to Nic Cage's eclectic take on Big Daddy, channeling a kind of cross between William Shatner and Adam West, they are all great. I also think in terms of Cage's performance, a little bit of Nic goes a long way. He doesn't overpower the film with his performance, he gives it just enough drama and humor while never taking the focus of the hero. Even the cheesy costumes play to the movie. In real life, you wouldn't have all the gadgets that a Batman does, in this world costumes would probably look like the ones they wore.

take the time to catch Kick-Ass when it drops this April and enjoy the red band trailer I put up top. This is just a small reason why I liked this flick so much. I don't usually put trailers up with the movie, but in this case with the opening being so far out, some of you may not be as knowledgeable about this movie. If you love action and comedy, and a little bit of foul mouthed violence, I recommend checking out Kick-Ass, directed by Matthew Vaughn. The best film of the year so far.

End of Line.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Assorted Nuts!

Happy March All!

Okay so maybe February wasn't my best month in terms of production. I'm not really going to blame anyone but me, I just simply haven't felt like writing. I still WANT to write, but I think that I have just been a little down lately. Still adapting to all this time by myself in the house and I feel restless, like I can't stay still for too long. I don't feel like staying in one place for long enough to write. Like I have to keep my mind distracted.

At any rate I think I am getting to a more calm point. I have started really looking into cleaning up the house, I have some major projects still, but I'm getting there. Everyday I have been targeting something new to organize or clean. So I'm really going to try harder this month to keep myself on the straight path. I will commit to finishing Noir Story this weekend and have at least the next 4 chapters of Under a Dead Sun up.

Plus I should have some good movie reviews going up, including an early look at Matthew Vaughn's adaption of Mark Millar's and John Romita, Jr's Kick Ass with Nic Cage this month. I also saw the new Percy Jackson movie and plan on seeing both Cop Out and Alice in Wonderland so there should be plenty of movie reviews coming up. Stick with me, I promise to do better this month.

End of Line.