Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bucket O' Comics: DC Monthly Favorites

Well it's almost the end of March and I've finally read through my comics this month. Time, time, where is the time. I used to be able to read about 20 comics in less than a week now it takes me at least three weeks to read fifteen comics. In my tally right now DC is whomping Marvel's ass at least 4 to 1, in fact Marvel better start getting their shit together or I may be dumping all of their titles before summer hits.


Green Arrow and Black Canary #6
Judd Winick has really impressed me with his excellent and consistent run on GA&BC. I'm kind of a latecomer to Oliver Queen, I actually picked it up on a whim a few years ago and I haven't been able to put it down since. Ollie is a no-nonsense bad ass who doesn't apologize for his snarky attitude and I love how Cliff Chiang draws Ollie and the book itself is beautifully put together. Now a lot of people aren't as big on Winick and his writing, there are times where it can be a bit cliched, but I really dig the way he portrays Ollie and Dinah. I love that they don't have a perfect relationship and that sometimes she has to smack Ollie upside his head for being an asshole but it adds the spice that we as readers love so much. Now if you haven't been reading GA hears a little re-cap. Ollie decides to pop the question to Dinah, they get married. Fast forward to the Bridal Suite where they attempt to get some Newlywed nookie she kills Ollie with one of his arrows when he suddenly attacks her--seems like this thing ends before it begins--Ollie appears to be dead again! GA is canceled and the 1rst issue of Green Arrow and Black Canary is released. We learn that Ollie isn't dead he was just kidnapped by a bunch of souped up Amazons just so they could recruit Black Canary. Silly Amazons, they can never just write a formal invitation. They have to plant some guy to die to make it seem like it was Ollie just to get Black Canary to notice them. Seems like a lot of work. Anyway, so Canary goes to the island undercover while Ollie's son Connor and Speedy bust him out of his island prison on Themyscira (Wonder Woman's Home). As they escape the island Connor is sadly shot through the heart. He's put on the ventilator and of course Ollie goes nuts, he's considered brain dead. So for issue six, after all of that drama with Connor and Ollie some douchebag decides to take Connor's body--the reason is unclear but Ollie dusts off the old bow and takes off after his son's captors with the intention of shoving an arrow up their asses--whoever they are. It's a fun read and as I said before I'm really enjoying the dynamic between Ollie and Dinah and the quick pace of the book.

Green Lantern #29
The Green Lantern book has by far been my favorite comic since the Rebirth of Hal Jordan. Last month we saw the conclusion to the war between the Sinestro Corps and the Green Lantern Corps. They locked Sinestro's pink ass away on Oa but it appears this is exactly where Sinestro has intended to be. With his Corp he has forced the Guardians (The Little Blue guys who formed the GL Corp.) to change the Laws of Oa and allow the Lanterns to use deadly force. Writer Geoff Johns has smartly woven this long arc bringing the former Green Lantern's motives to the surface. He wants the Corps to be like him, to rule with an iron fist. Through the Sinestro War Johns is subtly hinting at a doomsday prophecy called the Blackest Night, where 8 power rings of various colors do battle until the end of the Universe. We know of Green (willpower) and Yellow (Fear). Now there is Blue (hope) and Red (rage) and we have seen hints of a possible Black ring (?). The other colors are Orange (greed), Violet (love) and Indigo (compassion) all representing different emotions. Now in issue 28 an officer of the Corp, Laira, brutally murders Abin Sur's (Hal's Ring's former owner) son Amon Sur. She is tried by the new Alpha Lanterns and banished from Oa. On her voyage home she receives a red ring and as you guessed it becomes an agent of Rage. Issue 29 goes back to the origin of how Hal got the ring--which we have seen many times but we actually get to see Abin Sur, Hal's Lantern forebearer tracking down the prophecy of the Blackest Night. We;ll see where this goes but I have to tell you I really have enjoyed this series Johns has amped up the action and really given some depth to this space age police force. As he explains it in Wizard that the Lanterns are Galactic Police Men and they should have to deal with the consequences of using deadly force against an enemy. If you read anything for DC at all this should be the book you pick up it packs a universal punch in dialogue, mythology and of course bad ass action.

Batman #674
This one I'm gonna put in the eh-- it's okay pile. Writer Grant Morrison has always been kind of hit or miss with me and that's how I feel about his recent stint on Batman. I really liked that Batman has a son with Ras Al Ghul's daughter Talia and that he's a bad ass spoiled brat, but the storyline hasn't felt consistant and he keeps doing to many random things. For instance for the 666 issue it was a stand alone future issue about Damien, Batman's son, becoming the new Batman in a hell in Gotham scenario. What was the point of this and where was he going with it, you got me? So Batman 674 is a two part issue about the replacement Batmen. There are still some alive out there and one of them decides to take Batman hostage. It was interesting to see sort of an anti-Batman who thinks, acts and fights like Bats giving Batman the thought that his time as the Dark Knight may be coming to an end. The artwork by Tony Daniel and Jonathan Glapion is excellent and I think captures the essence of the Bat books.I'm willing to follow Morrison a little bit further but if he keeps wandering off the reservation I might have to wait it out until a new writer takes over.

Detective Comics #842
I just started picking up Detective cause I just can't get enough Batman. I think I like Detective cause they do single issue arcs and it's nice to get away from the over-plotting of Morrison for a bit. Paul Dini had writing honors on #841 about the Mad Hatter, it wasn't a spectacular issue but it was sort of reminiscent of the animated series. #842 was written by Peter Milligan. Dustin Nguyen did an amazing job with the cover and pencils. We get a little back story on the Suit of Sorrows, the armor given to Bats by his on again off again love Talia. The suit kind of acts a bit like the ring of power from Lord of the Rings enticing Batman to be more brutal toward his enemies. Bats goes to the far reaches of the earth to uncover the mysteries of the suit and finds something quite unexpected. So far I like the low key nature of the book and how they try to change it up issue to issue.

Next comics post will be Marvel Favorites

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Mariah Carey says:

"Don't forget that March 28th is National Patronize a Handicapped Bum Day. So mark your calendars everyone!"

Friday, March 21, 2008


Phil Spector says:

"People measure crazy a lot of different ways. For me, only a crazy person puts ketchup on their scrambled eggs."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

UNC Wins the ACC Tournament

Wow, as a Tarheel fan it's a great rush to watch your team win at tournament time but damn they did not make it look easy. I must have had at least 3 heart attacks after the last two days. Yesterday Carolina had a down to the wire win against a relentless Virginia Tech team. Tech had the lead almost the entire game as Carolina had to push it to the final seconds to take the lead and win the game in the final seconds thanks to, hopefully, the National Player of the Year Tyler Hansborough who drained the winning shot in the final seconds of the game. Psycho T gives 100% every game and he does not back down to anyone no matter who they are and he certainly proved it this season and especially in this tournament. Today Carolina had to play a tenacious Clemson team that is bigger and just as talented as the Tar Heels. The Clemson Tigers had a memorable win against Duke yesterday and they were certainly not afraid of my number 1 ranked Tar Heels. In their two previous meetings Carolina barely got by an overtime win in the first and a double overtime win in the second at Chapel Hill. This is the first time Clemson has ever made it to the final game of the ACC Tournament and they were passionate about getting that win.Clemson and Carolina were neck and neck the entire game. They traded the lead at least a dozen times in the first half as Clemson's Full Court Press gave the Heels trouble causing a boatload of turnovers, not to mention they kept Hansborough off the free throw line the entire half. Clemson led by 1 at halftime, 39-38. It took some time but the Heels regrouped and began to break down the Full court press thanks to some great shooting by Wayne Ellington. The Heels started to pull away as the final seconds ticked away and then my boys did some really boneheaded plays. Psycho T committed a foul when we were up 5 to stop the clock and put them on the line, and then Quentin Thomas fouled their top 3 point shooter Oglesby while he was shooting three allowing him to take 3 foul shots. I thought I was gonna blow a gasket. Thankfully he missed the last one and they seemed to miss some opportunities but because of stupid plays like that and the fact that the Heels couldn't hit their free throws in the final seconds almost cost them the game. They held on did a gut check and ended up winning this one 86-81.

It's a great win for the organization as they have now won two ACC Championships in a row. I just spoke with my brother and Carolina has been awarded the number 1 seed in the east but it seems like their gonna have a tough road with teams like Indiana, Arkansas and Tennessee all crammed into our bracket it's gonna be a fight to the finish. So Congrats to Coach Roy Williams and the Carolina Tarheels for their 17th ACC title! Go Heels!

P.S. I also want to give a shout out to the UNC Women's Basketball team for also winning their ACC Tournament for their fourth consecutive title. And it's all the more sweet because they beat the Duke Blue Devils 86-73. It's just a Carolina Blue kinda Week! (The Girls had their big winlast weekend!) I couldn't find a good pic of the girls so I thought Doctor Jack's (Matthew Fox) love of the Tarheels would have to suffice.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Be Kind Rewind

Two movies in two weeks I almost feel like things are getting back to normal. This weekend Tamar and I found some time to hit the theater. After checking the listings I saw some pretty shitty looking flicks out there. Between Roland Emmerich's atrocious looking 10,000 B.C., and Martin Lawrence's unbearable looking College Road Trip we decided on a more independent film. I really loved Michael Gondry's last American Feature film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind from 2004.If you've seen the trailers you were probably like me in thinking that this story takes place in the 80's. It was very strange to discover that it is a modern story about a Video store that has not discovered the virtue of DVD. The owner, Elroy Fletcher (Danny Glover), is an old soul who can't seem to make ends meet renting video tapes to the local masses. He is obsessed with an Jazz Musician that apparently grew up in the town. His attempts to buck the modern trend goes south especially when his assistant, Mike (Mos Def), unwittingly allows his conspiracy crazy friend Jerry (Jack Black) to enter the video store while magnetized. He erases every tape in the place. They decide to re-film the films that were lost starting with Ghostbusters and others like Driving Miss Daisy, Boyz in the Hood, Robo Cop, Rush Hour 2, the Lion King, etc, etc. I knew going in that it would be strange just like Eternal Sunshine but I just didn't think it was going to be boring, which unfortunately, it was for a good portion of the film. I liked their, as they called them, sweded versions of classic films, but they kind of sped through the part I thought would be most enjoyable. Instead the focused on the love of this Jazz singer that lived in town, while it was a nice sentimental piece of the film it just kind of dragged on a lot longer than it should have.I thought it was a clever and often times a very different kind of film. I like Jack Black but sometimes he and Mos Def just got on my nerves in this movie, especially when Mos Def just mumbles his way through a scene. The pacing was terribly off and it seemed a little too sentimental and even a little cheesy at times. I will say that it's still probably better than anything out right now like, as I stated above, that stupid Martin Lawrence film or that atrociously bad looking 10,000 B.C. Wooley Mammoth notwithstanding. Tamar really loved the film and I think if your looking for something different and if you are prepared for less laughs, then you may enjoy this one a little bit more than I did.

Grade: 2 Buckets

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Ten Films of the Last 30 Years That Changed Movie Making

We here at The Bucket decided to take a look back over the last 30 years to try to find which films had the most impact on Film and the filmmaking industry. We poured over thousands of titles to try and find the definitive ten films that changed the way we watch and make movies. Don't get too upset if your favorite films are not on this list. It's not just about how good the movie is--it's the impact on the industry, the art, and/or the business of filmmaking. So take a look at what we've found and if you have an opinion, by all means, let us know.

Star Wars (1977) - Merchandising
Star Wars is the standard bearer for what all adventure sci-fi films aspire to. Every one of the new generation of filmmakers has tried to, in some way, capture the fun and excitement of Star Wars. Whether it's Peter Jackson (if you scroll down his films made the list as well) or ultimate Star Wars fans like Kevin Smith. Star Wars didn't just change the culture of Filmmaking it defined it. But the main thing that Star Wars did for film was to make it a commodity. Lucas wasn't just making a movie, he was making an experience. You have hats, t-shirts, books, posters, cartoons and of course TOYS. Lots and lots of toys. When I was a kid I had the regular Han Solo, the Planet Hoth Han Solo and the Carbonite frozen Han Solo. There were a gazillion figures and playsets that kept kids coming back for more decades after Star Wars was officially over. If you haven't been living in a cave for 30 years then there is no way you can claim to have never heard of it. When I went to film school I discovered that most of the kids including myself were there mostly because of what Star Wars meant to us as children. I would say it probably is and continues to be one of the greatest pieces of marketing ever to hit the civilized world , nuff said. -Jeff

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) - Reinvented the Action/Adventure
Now you might be asking why Raiders of the Lost Ark if you already have Star Wars on the list? Cody had the same question but I explained to him that most action films from '82 till today employed the same formula of ramped up action and the quick jumps from scene to scene. If you've seen Raiders you'll notice that there are very few down time scenes it's pretty much a non-stop adventure. Looking at later films like Speed, Die Hard and even the Bourne series they all pay some homage in some way to the man in the leather Jacket and Fedora. Now if you are thinking that isn't enough to actually change the industry I will add this little tidbit for you. The sequel Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was so dark and violent that the MPAA actually created a new rating, the PG-13. In '76 Spielberg was able to create a multi-million dollar hit in his first blockbuster Jaws and he was able to re-invent the action genre again in 1981 with Raiders. In my mind Raiders set the standard for action films for years to come and will hopefully re-ignite the lagging action genre with the new Indy flick coming out this May. Where there's a whip there's a way. - Jeff
Twilight Zone (1983) - Safety Regulations
Four of the most creative directors of the time were put together to do four segments that became Twilight Zone the movie. John Landis (Blues Brothers & An American Werewolf in London), Joe Dante (The Howling and Gremlins), George Miller (Mad Max) and Steven Spielberg (Raiders of the Lost Ark & Jaws). Now most people think that John Landis actually directed the entire film and the reason they think this is because of what happened during his segment. Landis' segment was about a bigot played by Vic Morrow who gets his just deserts when he is mysteriously transported back in time and is pursued by Nazis, then persecuted in the 50's as a black man. It was when his character was taken to Vietnam during the 60's when this fictional story takes a horrific turn for the worse. While shooting a scene via helicopter Landis instructs the chopper to lower itself to get a better shot of actor Vic Morrow and two Vietnamese children. There were pyrotechnical explosions which caused the helicopter to lose control and crash. Morrow and the kids were killed in the accident. There was a trial and Landis was accused of negligence. The trial lasted almost a decade and it forced the industry to change their standards and practices when it comes to safety and security. The film itself had middling box office returns mostly due to the infamous tragedy that occurred during filming. Landis' friendship with Spielberg was forever tarnished afterwards when Spielberg learned of the cavalier attitude Landis took toward filming and that he used live ammunition on set. Twilight Zone showed the dangers of filmmaking and this is why when you watch those special features to your big budget action films you can get a sense of the over abundance of safety with almost every special effects or stunts shot. - Jeff

Jurassic Park (1993) - The Summer Blockbuster

The very first "Popcorn Movie". The movie that invented the summer blockbuster. The movie that stormed the forefront of the would-be CGI revolution that was to come. Steven Spielberg brought dinosaurs back from extinction. The SFX in the movie were so good, that they still stand up to scrutiny today, 15 years later. In fact, the effects in Jurassic Park are even better than the majority of CGI heavy films that come out nowadays. I was 14 when Jurassic Park was released in theaters, during the summer of 1993. And to this day, for me, it was one of the most viscerally intense moviegoing experiences of my life. As soon as I saw that brontosaurus revealed on the big screen, I knew movies were never going to be the same. - Cody

Pulp Fiction (1994) - Indy Film Craze

One day in the early nineties some troll faced video store geek named Quentin Tarantino decided he could make good movies. Some fat, rich, Jewish guy named Harvey Weinstein over at Miramax agreed. And in 1994 they gave us Pulp Fiction - the film, that more than any other of it's time and means, was primarily responsible for the independent film craze that started in the mid-90's. The result? Film school enrollment tripled. Big screens were inundated with edgier, artsier, lower budget fare. Major Hollywood studios opened "independent", art house arms to cash in. And John Travolta got to make White Man's Burden. - Cody

Toy Story (1995) - CGI Animation

Pixar made Toy Story in 1995 - and cartoons were never the same. With groundbreaking digital animation, Toy Story would prove to be the criterion for animated films to come. Detractors argue that CGI has taken some of the art out of animation, but filmmaking, like life, constantly evolves. And I would say CGI animated paradigms like Toy Story and Shrek, are just as artistic and creative as classics like Snow White and Fantasia. - Cody

Titantic (1997) - Huge, "Titanic", Budgets

Titanic is not on this list because it's a great film. It is, btw. Some agree, some don't. Doesn't matter. Taste is subjective. Numbers are objective. And Titanic was the first film to ever have a plus $200 million dollars budget. At the time, it was Hollywood heresy - James Cameron had lost his mind and was forcing FOX to dump more and more money into a movie that was going to implode, possibly bring down the entire studio, if not Hollywood itself!!!! What happened instead? Titanic ended up grossing oooooohhhhh... $700 trillion dollars! How did this change movie making? It taught the studios that they could spend money - a lot of money - to make money - a lot of money. Nowadays, a $200 million dollar budget for a summer tentpole film is actually considered quite reasonable and run of the mill. In fact... Sony owns the record for actually spending $260 million dollars on a single piece of crap. Well, not literally a piece of crap, it was Spider Man 3. - Cody

The Blair Witch Project (1999) - Viral Marketing

Artisan pulled off one of the biggest cons in Hollywood history. Blair Witch cost about $60,000 dollars to make. It starred three nobodies. It was shot on a video camera. It ended up making... wait for it... $240 million dollars. How did they do it? How did they convince suckers, like me, that Blair Witch was going to be a phenomenon? A little something called viral marketing. Practically unheard of back in 99, Blair Witch was the first film to truly take advantage of the internet generation. Teenagers were letting their computers run their life, so why not use the computer to convince them to go see a below average, gimmicky, murky mess of a movie called Blair Witch? - Cody

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003) - Integral CGI Character
My precious....With those words uttered creepily by actor Andy Serkis, and the gangly visage of his alter ego Gollum director Peter Jackson had achieved an innovative way to blend CGI and real life to create a creature that becomes a living breathing monster. If you'll look below I have added a picture of the process and how this thing works. Basically actor Andy Serkis dons this leotard type outfit that covers his entire body except his face. They also attach motion sensors all over his body to duplicate his movements in every detail from eyebrows to toe wiggle. Then they create the Gollum template and place it over the actor and fini. Andy Serkis disappears and Gollum is born. This process allows the other actors to actually interact with another human being instead of a tennis ball on a piece of PVP pipe. Honestly I'm still surprised, with all of the awards that Lord of the Rings received, that Andy Serkis didn't get at least a nomination for Gollum. The Gollum process was later used in films like The Polar Express (2004) and most recently Beowulf (2007) where the films were actually filmed with actors and then overlayed with digital people. In a sense this new technology could prove vital to filmmakers of the future when home theatres have made it difficult for theatrical release as Beowulf was attempting to do with the first in a new line of 3D films that is attempting to reinvigorate the big screen experience. None of these things would have been possible if Gollum hadn't of come along and made us all believe in this crazy little hobbit like creature that talks in the third person. - Jeff

300 (2006) - High Concept R-Rated Films
Everyone thought that sandal and sword epics were over. After bad box office displays from Alexander and Troy in 2004 everyone thought the genre was over. In walked Zack Snyder and not only did he take on the critics with a spectacular Sword and Sandal flick he bucked the studio's clamoring for a PG-13 rating. He said quite clearly that his film was based on the gory graphic novel by Frank Miller and it had to be R or he would walk. Warner Brothers trusted this guy and he came up big for them he shot this bloody epic for only $60 million dollars and what did he get for his trouble? Over 200 million in domestic sales. No one believed an rated R action flick could ever make that much money especially in March. Snyder's secret was that he took the graphic novel trappings of Sin City and went two steps further to make the most complete Graphic Novel to film hybrids ever made. With Gerard Butler leading the charge as King Leonidas he gave 300 a unique and creative approach to filmmaking as they shot the entire thing on a green screen soundstage. Now with films like the Punisher, Watchmen and Sin City all due within the next year or two, studios are feeling a lot more comfortable about the R rating now that they know that it's possible if done properly to bring in the massive audiences. - Jeff

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Vantage Point

Man it is getting harder and harder for me to see movies anymore. After begging and pleading with my wife I was allowed to, for a few hours, go and see a movie. I grabbed my good friend Ori and we decided on the action/drama Vantage Point. If you've seen the commercials and read some of the buzz you'll know that Vantage Point is structured a little differently from your average action film. It's an Assassination attempt from seven or eight different perspectives. So going into this thing you have to be prepared to see the same event over and over again, albeit from different angles, but if you aren't prepared for it the film can feel a little repetitious.I personally liked the approach and really thought it was cool how they shot it. The film revolves around a conference in Spain where the President is giving a major speech about terrorism. The President is shot and there are two explosions that engulf the square into chaos. We get to see the event unfold from the news crew to the agents who protect the President, to an American Civilian watching from the crowd, to a local man who may or may not be involved in the plot, and to the terrorist or terrorists themselves. Even the President gets his own viewpoint on the event. Each perspective provides us with a clue to figuring out the plot. Now it's important to realize that at the end of the day this is just a clever action flick. We don't get any backstory on the terrorists or even the President himself. It's fairly cut and dried you have bad people who want to kill the President and the agents have to figure out who they are and what they are up to. Agent Barnes (Denis Quaid) has already taken a bullet for the President and it's up to him to figure out who the shooter is. He's backed up by fellow agent Taylor (Matthew Fox). Forrest Whitaker plays the hapless American Tourist who catches the event on his camera. Whitaker plays it pretty low key. After you get the different angles then the action gets ramped up to a very electrifying chase sequence through the streets of Madrid.It's a great supporting cast too by the way Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt, Bruce McGill, Edgar Ramirez, Said Taghmaoui, Ayalet Zurer, Eduardo Noriega and Zoe Saldana. You had a good blend of American and International stars especially the very sexy Ayalet Zurer who's technically Israeli royalty. Overall Vantage Point is an enjoyable movie with a few twists and turns, some are a little too obvious but like I said it was a very cool concept and I felt that Director Pete Travis juggled them pretty well.

Grade 4 Buckets