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Art, Julytember 2010, Literature, Subheadline »

[17 Oct 2010 | No Comment | 3,022 Views]
2010 In Comics: The Middle 48%

2010 (so far): The greatest year in the history of the comics medium? The nightmarish nadir from which it will never recover? The year when the whole industry, and our relationship with it, changed forever? Nope. But come with us nevertheless to yestermonth, for a look at some of the comic books, trade paperbacks, and funnypages/comic-strip collections of oh, say, the middlish part of the year.
Gorilla-Man #1
Creators: Jeff Parker (writer); Giancarlo Caracuzzo (artist); Jim Charalampidis (colorist); Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: Marvel
From a narrative point of view, part of the purpose of …

April 2010, Cinema and Television »

[22 Apr 2010 | 7 Comments | 3,344 Views]
Kick-Ass shoots itself in the foot

If you have had regular access to the internet these past six months, you have no doubt been exposed to the extensive marketing campaign that preceded the release of KICK-ASS. Not a week went by without new trailers, vignettes, movie stills or one of the approximately 150 posters, making this easily the most-hyped release of the first half of 2010. Kick-Ass is based on the comic-book by Mark Millar (Wanted) and John Romita Jr. and adapted for the screen by director/writer Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Layer Cake) and Jane Goldman. Now that it’s finally arrived, critics can be roughly divided into two types:
–Those that applaud Kick-Ass for being a clever satire/smart deconstruction/subversion of the superhero genre, and
–Those that condemn it for being morally bankrupt for its sadistic violence and foul language.

For reasons explained before, I don’t believe the hype, either positive or negative. And after witnessing Kick-Ass with my own two eyes, I am forced to admit that both groups of critics are wrong.

Cinema and Television, Jan/Feb 2010 »

[27 Jan 2010 | One Comment | 3,229 Views]
Suspended Anticipation: <i>Grayson</i>‘s Pop Art

When it comes to fan films (as opposed to other media), resource constraints tend to impose upon the creativity a little more heavily, since the creation of an aesthetically successful motion picture requires a delicate alchemy combining the best of every kind of artistic medium invented to this point. It can be expensive, and it can be even more difficult to find collaborators whose enthusiasm for a project is matched by their skill. That’s why a fan film as tremendous as Grayson, directed by John Fiorella, is a major accomplishment. Beyond being such a great example of the fan film, it arrived at a pivotal moment in pop culture, emerging as the quintessential superhero film of the decade.

Cinema and Television, September 2009 »

[3 Sep 2009 | No Comment | 5,332 Views]
Plain Damn Weird: an Appreciation of Frank Miller’s <i>The Spirit</i>

Only a fool or a madman would make the argument that if you watched and hated this film, you just didn’t get it, or that the arcane magic of postmodern criticism has produced this, the infallible key to unlocking its hidden secrets. No. What I’m suggesting is that appreciating The Spirit requires something of a temporary paradigm shift, in which it’s possible to enjoy something truly “visionary” — something fanciful, not presently workable, impractical, unreal, imaginary, purely idealistic and speculative — for its own sake. Something that may be the dream of a fool or a madman.

August 2009, Cinema and Television »

GI Joe: the Rise of My Blood Pressure
[19 Aug 2009 | 2 Comments | 2,596 Views]
GI Joe: the Rise of My Blood Pressure

With the summer having reached its zenith so arrives the beginning of the end of this year’s blockbuster season, as marked by the release of Hasbro’s GI Joe: the Rise of Cobra (directed by Stephen Sommers).  Per the summer blockbuster recipe, the film preemptively promises a plethora of action heavy on the computer-generated effects, loud explosions, pretty girls, passable men, one or more love subplots, transparently cliched villains, childhood nostalgia, and a moral and/or political leaning however veiled it might be.  Innovation as relates to blockbusters is rarely more than …

Cinema and Television, March 2009 »

[12 Mar 2009 | 30 Comments | 4,985 Views]
Watchmen vs The Dark Knight

Seriously, my world just turned upside down.
Early in the year I forced myself to sit through Christopher Nolan’s painful but much hyped follow-up to the dreadfully mediocre Batman Begins.  You know Christopher Nolan, the guy who made the brilliant and ambitious movie, Memento, following it with one of the decade’s smartest American movies, The Prestige.  As a Batman fan, sitting through The Dark Knight was a physically painful affair: dire, clichéd rubbish, an overly traditional man vs terrorist setup soaked to the brim in an unquestioning philosophy a mile or …

Cinema and Television, Literature, March 2009 »

We Watched the Watchmen: A Roundtable
[12 Mar 2009 | No Comment | 5,854 Views]
We Watched the <i>Watchmen</i>: A Roundtable

Huge lot of comics fans that we are, the Playtime Staff sat down for a roundtable on Zach Snyder’s Watchmen (2009). Matt Kessen, our resident Watchmen expert was tapped to conduct the discussion, especially in regards to how the film differed from Moore’s graphic novel. The following takes place over the the week before and after the film’s release. If you are interested in continuing the discussion, feel free to jump into the fray on the forum.

Page One: Quis custodiet ipsos custodis? The Pre-Game
Page Two: Why I Am Not Seeing …

Cinema and Television, March 2009 »

A Dark Tale of Heroic Deeds, Presented in Glorious SNYDERVISION™
[12 Mar 2009 | No Comment | 1,656 Views]
A Dark Tale of Heroic Deeds, Presented in Glorious SNYDERVISION™

A surprisingly sturdy, mildly provocative 105 minute movie is hiding somewhere in Watchmen’s gangly two and three-quarter hours running time. Dense with shockingly unnecessary exposition, this story about the nature of heroism and identity indulges in a great deal of introspective character study between bouts of flamboyant brutality and fleeting moments where director Zack Snyder’s technical prowess and filmmaking ambition coincide. As a messy, sprawling adaptation, the product of marketing, focus-testing, and the instincts of a young would-be visionary still learning his craft, the inchoate professionalism of the production serves the film’s gargantuan ambitions and readymade stature, rather than completely defeating it. From the perspective of the film’s own history, it is a miracle that it got made at all.

Literature, March 2009 »

Marie de France is not the Old Coke
[25 Feb 2009 | No Comment | 4,107 Views]
Marie de France is not the Old Coke

Responding to a call for Playtime writers to talk about their favorite authors and the works that shaped them as writers, I decided to elucidate my fascination with Medieval Literature — specifically Arthurian Literature and its most enduring female writer, Marie de France.
International flavor train?
Superman, Coca-Cola. If you were asked to draw up a list of the shared cultural heritage and imagery of Western society, you might present some variation thereon — imagery that taps into brand recognition as much as actual cultural heritage. A Coca-Cola can in Hebrew or …

Cinema and Television, February 2009 »

Movers and Bleeders and Pushers, Oh My!
[19 Feb 2009 | One Comment | 1,081 Views]
Movers and Bleeders and Pushers, Oh My!

Here’s the best part about being a film geek: you can become genuinely excited about the stupidest things, and it profoundly impacts the way you see a movie. Like a certain actor showing up. They don’t even have to do a good job; the quality of the performance may even be tertiary to your glee. You’re just amped that they showed up. Push is full of faces that bring me joy; joy for no other purpose than to know that they are getting work in troubled economic times. Even if times weren’t troubled, I’d be happy these actors were working, so that I could just soak up their onscreen charisma from my theater seat like a roly-poly incubus.