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Curtains

index.jpgMy first impression of curtains is that it looks like an old 80s detective show – a Magnum PI or Columbo… We head into a crumbling old mansion as an actress is being admitted to the psych ward (I heard the director played by John Vernon – you won’t recognize the face but that voice is unmistakable from tons of television and animation ) She has an outburst and find herrself in a straitjacket and the movie begins in earnest. Turns out she’s getting herself committed just to do research on the role.

Elsewhere another actress is murdered and then the director gathers all the other prospects for the role to a house for the night. It’s a confusing narrative to say the least, but at least once we get to the house things seem to make sense. The mystery feel pervades the with the masked killer only shopping.jpgvery occasionally coming out to slice up a new victim has a very slasher style. Indeed if not for the slight gore and nudity, I’d be absolutely certain that this were a TV movie.It’s certainly slow enough

Curtains is the weakest entry in this set – and very much feels like it doesn’t belong in this collection. This one is a pass. Enjoy the other three movies in this collection and don’t bother with this one.

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essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

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essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

293

Recent Pulls!

 

Did I really miss a whole month of comics? Because it sure seems like it… I had a lot of two issue runs waiting for me when I finally headed to the comic shop to catch up. That’s gonna happen again in the near future I suspect, I tend to get really busy around Halloween and just forget about everything else. Still, I had a pretty free weekend and it seemed like the right time to catch up on television and comic books.

Along with some of my other usual suspects, I actually decided to take a chance on Ms. Marvel and venom. It’s such a weird team up that I kind of had to take a peek. I think about Miss Marvel is it really all depends on who’s writing her. Some people write her as a wide eyed teenager, some people write her as a full grown adult, some people only want to write her as a crusading social justice warrior. You gotta get the right balance with her or else she becomes insufferable. Venom too, he’s not an easy character to write… But he learned some self well to one shot like this, and the book ends up being very solid and entertaining.

Also solid and entertaining our old standards like Iron Man and Elvira. These are good books that are pretty much delivering exactly what I want. Nothing earth shaking, nothing it’s gonna change the world, but engaging and entertaining stories that keep me coming back every month. I do still feel Like I missed something in Iron Man, the way they’re kind of shifting backwards to tell the story from the past to the present is a little confusing, but it’s been good reliable fun with Tony and Roady. Elvira too, a lot of fun as this month she is in nightmare in street, although we get a really strange cameo from the time displacement authority from Loki…. They are just pushing the boundaries of copyright as far as they can aren’t they?

So remember when I was talking about worlds finest last time and mentioning that it felt like they had wrapped their story up in five issues, and suddenly had to put together a filler issue…like a weird epilogue? But that was perhaps why Robin got lost in time? Well, I still stand by that opinion. This story feels very much like a standalone filling issue. It’s Robin trying to make do stuck in the time period that he’s in, but it’s not like we’ve got any real epic quest for survival on his end or a long arduous search for him on the part of our heroes. Robin basically leave them a note etched in stone, and they were able to travel back in time to the correct moment and bring him back.

It’s so anticlimactic that I almost wish they hadn’t bothered at all. Then again, as part of a greater hole, it’s still retains the fun familiar feel that I’ve been getting from worlds finest, and it Times up all the loose ends so that I can now move on to the next story arc.

It’s a Multiverse story, we’ve got basically a Superman like figure on a dying planet sent to our dimension. Superman‘s trying to take care of him, and Batman suspicious. All of this is pretty standard operating procedure.

The thing that I really enjoy about this one though, is it gives us another one of those rare glimpses of just how much fun Robin can be when he’s in the right hands. Indeed Robbins always been fun when paired up with Superman. The fact that he’s kind of Batman‘s light side… Designed a balancing out means that he matches really well with Superman, and I remember very fondly some early Tim Drake adventures with him, as well as really enjoying seeing him team up with Nightwing. These guys aren’t quite as cynical as Bruce and are able to enjoy Superman‘s company in a way that Bruce never could.

Daredevils doing some interesting stuff too. I feel like this title is very slowly ramping up to its story arc, and that’s nice. Issue two still gives us some good daredevil action in New York, and has been butting heads a little bit with the newly elected mayor Luke Cage. It’s good stuff, and really my only complaint is I do still miss the secret identity. I always liked the juxtaposition of Matt Murdock; lawyer, versus daredevil; vigilante. Still, they’re keeping up the intrigue and the almost detective bit, and it works. And then….there’s that moment, when it REALLY works.

I’ve talked a little about what’s going on over in the Punisher. It’s actually right up there with Iron man and Elvira….solid storytelling (Though it still feels more like a gimmicky mini-series rather than a return to any kind of status quo). DD and Frank have always had a complicated relationship with each other. Some writers like to portray them as two sides of the same coin…I’m not sure that I entirely agree with that though.  They really have diffrent aims. Daredevil is out for justice, while The Punisher is out for revenge. THAT’S what really disturbs Matt about him. Not the killing in of itself, but the darker motives.

And that’s why you can see sheer terror on his face when he’s informed that Frank is now in charge of the Hand. I should have seen this coming, but I didn’t and I love that they can still get me once in a while. It’s just a great moment.

Much to my surprise, I’m still sticking with Nightwing.
This has been a really pleasant run, reminding me a lot about all the things I really enjoy with this character. The main thing that has reall appealed to me in this particular run has been the way they are reestablishing the relationship between Dick and Babs. I mentioned noting this in both previous issues of nightwing as well as it also showing up in Batgirls
We get a potentially heavy moment regarding that relationship kind of subverted in this issue, but it provides me a lot of anticipation for what may be coming up in both titles.

 

It’s all so charming and exactly what I want from a Nightwing and Batgirl series. I really hope it grows from there. Good stuff ahead.

Or is it? Because I saw this ad in the back of the book and it really REALLY bothers me….
Maybe we’ll talk about why next week.

 

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essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

291

Week of 9-22-22

I finally did it! I finally got around to catching up on Stargirl! I’m not sure why I dropped off exactly… I know that Maddie wasn’t really interested in watching it much anymore, but honestly, I thought I Was way further behind than this. There were only four episodes left in the Summer School season, and maybe it’s just because we’re at the climax, but wow, did they deliver.

So, where were we? Eclipse it was free, he’d blasted shiv into oblivion, and was now in the process of haunting each of the JSA members. That’s not too big of a problem, because they’re each dealing with her own baggage. Yolanda still has guilt over killing Brainwave Jr, Beth is watching her parents marriage fall apart, and her only solace is the slight contact she’s managed to get with the original Doctor Midnight. Hourman’s hourglass is broken, and for some reason he’s developing a bond with Solomon Grundy… All of this is fertile ground for Eclipso to work in. Nevertheless, they manage to come together to try and defeat a clip so… And the process, Stargirl is blasted away. It’s pretty shocking, considering how close to the end of the series we are… But we discover that what’s happened is she’s been banished to a shadow realm. a sort of purgatory where Eclipso can toy with her and others, to feed off their negative emotions. It turns out, Shiv is also there… As well as Dr. Midnight. With the help of the shade end guidance from Dr. Midnights goggles, Courtney’s parents managed to rescue them, and heading for the final showdown.

It’s really good, really well done. The characters are rich and complex, and current politics, while sneaking in around the edges, are kept to a minimum… Kind of feels like the good old days.

With that finished, it’s time to move from the summer school season into the Frenemies season. I don’t know if this will be a full 22 episode run or another 13… I have to admit, doing the 13 episode runs has really worked for stalker all. It’s giving them just enough time to do what they need without bogging everything down with filler.

If I have any real complaint about the Frenemies season… It’s that they’re building it as a murder mystery, but the title doesn’t feel congruent with it. Frenemies is a very high school kind of term, well this is leaning heavily into the sort of Agatha Christie murder mystery milieu. On the other hand, it makes sense because the beast storyline is an exploration of whether or not villains can really change… Whether they can truly reform and become allies. This is a very superman take. I pointed this out both and superman and early Supergirl… That part of what they want to do is take the bad guys, find them and fix them… Maybe turn them into friends instead of enemies. Courtney’s cut very much from that same sort of mold… Really trying to embrace shiv and incorporate her into the justice society. Of course sports master and his wife have also moved in right next-door to her, complicating things more than a little bit. Artemis also wants a spot on the GSA… And let’s just say, her mother is quite insistent. Hon

She Hulk on the other hand is a whole different story.

I gotta tell you, it almost feels like a chore watching the show now. Like, I don’t want to give up considering how far into the season we are, and I’ve managed to stick it out this far… But the show is just such a disappointment. This week sees Jen at a wedding, and it really reinforces the whole victim complex that she constantly revels in. Everybody’s mean to her, nobody’s nice except for her… Course the fact that she gets raging drunk and then gets into a fight with a super villain… Well that’s not her fault. Titania hit her first right? Of course back in the B storyline, the assistant and the lawyer from last week are taking over her current case… A “mister immortal“ who can’t die… So he gets married to unsuspecting people, then once he’s gotten what he wants financially or if it just starts to go to Dale, he dies, which terminates the marriage contract, and then comes back to life. It’s one of these stories that you could almost watch them going down a checklist. Seriously, it’s custom made… A “men are bad“ story with room to display a conveniently diverse group of ex-wives… And one ex-husband. Everyone’s different ethnicity, and everyone has a different beef… And it’s just so intentionally politically correct that it knocks you right out of the story. If it had been a group of white haired ladies in their late 50s and 60s, it would actually ring more true and feed into the stereotype they’re going for. I’d also be more convinced if they looked similar. Same race, same general figure. And you can’t make them all black… Because that would just mean Mr. Immortal is a racist. But seriously, most guys have a type… Just look at Hugh Hefner.(sorry, but he’s on my mind because of the trashy podcast Holly and Bridget from the girls next-door are doing). That sort of guy who can get just about anybody he wants is going to go for the same type repeatedly. Doesn’t have to be blonde and busty like Hefner, but skinny, fat, African-American, Latino, men… This is not a natural pattern, and again, it’s smacks of a diversity checklist Rather than organic chemistry, and it’s so jarring that it yanks me right out of the story.

Not there’s really much story here to begin with. She hulk shows up at a wedding, gets to complain about how they don’t want her to be Seahawk at the wedding and take attention away from the bride… She feels like everybody’s being mean to her, Gets into a fight,and then goes home. Seriously, I had a bridesmaid like this. We kicked her out of the wedding party. It is true, that most of the people in this episode are portrayed as jerks and pretty bad folks… The problem is, so is Jen. I don’t like Jen… But I’m supposed to be following her and rooting for her. And that’s kind of the root problem with she hulk in general. She’s just written as such a jerk, and that’s not the Seahawk that I know. It’s a shame too, because I like she hulk. The CGI model looks just fine to me, and I can’t wait to see her team up with the fantastic four. But man, this version is just a drag.

It’s no wonder the show is hemorrhaging viewers, and even though I’m sticking with it for the sheer masochistic duty of it, it’s not one I could recommend. Ugh. Just give me more Stargirl instead.

 


Ponyo

So, my daughter is currently going through a Studio Ghibli phase, something I wholeheartedly encourage. But the thing is, my own knowledge of Studio Ghibli kind of peters off after the 90s, so when I pulled Ponyo out of her movie box, I had no idea what we were in store for. A horse movie perhaps? Pony-Oh. You know, like that Spirit movie She had me watch a while back?

Boy was I way off.

Ponyo is the story of a fish who becomes a girl, to stay with the humans on land. As a goldfish, she was captured by a five-year-old boy named Sosuke.  But when she’s returned to the sea, she just wishes to come back to him, so she chooses to transform into a little girl… But that’s not without consequences. When one of her kind comes to land, they are followed by storms and tsunami and destruction. She must make a choice whether to return to the sea, or to give up magic and remain human. The wrong choice however, will result in her fading away into sea foam.

Despite that simplistic explanation, this is one of the weirder Jubilee stories… At least from an imagery standpoint. Indeed, to accommodate the detail and precision of all the sea creatures present in the storm, there is more art produced for this movie then any other studio Ghibli project to that point. Indeed, the opening alone, a mere twelve seconds, involving massive schools of fish and creatures, took 1,613 pages of conceptual sketches to develop. That’s strange, because it doesn’t look like it. Or the background so beautiful, but that’s just what they are. Their backgrounds… They fade away. The characters on the other hand, frequently look a little more simplistic than usual, and they are in dire need of an additional layer to shade them. Without it, they end up looking flat and a little boring. It’s strange, if I didn’t know better, I’d say they spent all their money on the backgrounds and couldn’t afford to finish the film.

It’s a problem too, because when you’ve got such a simple straightforward story as fish turns into a girl, and boy is searching for his mother, you really have to lean into the imagery in the art. We get some fun little side quests, but everything still feels a little thin.

Nevertheless, it’s fun to listen to Liam Nielsen, Betty White, and Lily Tomlin voice characters here. There’s a few different mythologies you can see them drawing from, elements from the Little Mermaid and themes from Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelungen. and there’s definitely a good film in here somewhere. However, it is one of Julie’s weaker attempts… And the box office reflected that. It’s a good film for Studio Ghibli completist, I’m certainly not trying to steer you away from it. Go in for the genre, and you won’t be disappointed.

Camp Cold Brook

I wasn’t aware that Camp Cold Brook was going to be a ghost hunter mock buster, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. These frequently turn out well.

It’s a really good set up though. We’ve got this haunted squad show and it’s about to be canceled. However the producer has made a deal… One more episode, but it is a special, and if it does amazing numbers, maybe they come back. It’s life or death for them. It’s do or die time.

The haunt squad arrives in a creepy little small town with plenty of doomsayers telling them not to go in. It’s a good way of giving us some of the backstory. It was a tragedy of the camp… Which cursed it cost 30 deaths in order to bring her child back. I set up, I don’t usually get witches in these sort of ghost hunter shows. In any event, it’s time for day one where they’re sitting at homebase in the main office, rigging lights and installing cameras. The special cameras are mounted on gimbals so that we don’t get anything particularly shaky cam. Good way of explaining away no more professional grade video we’re getting.

The first act does an excellent job of establishing the backstory, while the second act is working a lot harder to establish a mood. We start to get some activity, and it’s not subtle at all. The filmmakers here want to make it perfectly clear if something is happening here. The attacks are actually fairly aggressive as well for the second act. You can kind of feel the transition over into the third act though when an assistant tries to leave. Whatever’s here of course isn’t going to let them leave but now it’s time for the third at twist. Ghost hunters mother lives in the area, and she knows about the haunting as well. She knows, because ghost hunter grew up here and was a part of the curse… Only, he doesn’t remember and that’s a bad thing, because these ghosts have a good reason to want vengeance on him.

The film isn’t satisfied with just one plot twist neither, there’s still a few surprises in store here, but I don’t wanna give it all away. This one’s a really good one for you to see gotten watch. A good solid horror film with some genuine creep to it

The Hills Run Red

index.jpgOne of the things that I ‘m always struck by in Parker’s work is how he evolves and grows as a filmmaker. The Hills Run Red is the kind of film I almost expect him to make when not bound by the house style of Full Moon. There’s horror and thriller mixed together in this, with a grittier take than the sort of thing we’d seen before with him.

The Hills Run Red is the story of a young filmmaker trying to research and document the making and existence of a notorious cult film by the same name. To this end he tracks down the director’s daughter who is the only surviving cast member (shades of Manos!) and together with his small crew, they make the pilgrimage to where the movie was born.

There’s still buckets of blood and a masked killer in this film, but it’s far more layered images2.jpgthan The Dead Hate the Living. It’s not as straightforward a story, and it’s not really until you get to the end that you realize just how much misdirection there’s been here.

Mixing obsession, degradation while it twists the heroe’s journey archtype, the Hills Run Red may just be Parker’s best work.

290

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

290