Sunday, January 18, 2009

What I'm Watching/What I'm Reading

The return of the "Splash Page" knocked my recently-established weekend blogging routine out of whack, and I really didn't actually read many things that weren't comic books this week, so here's a combined "What I'm..." post for today.

Other than the NFL playoffs, the new episode of "The Office," and getting caught up on the last three episodes of "Batman: Brave and the Bold" (Batman dies in that show, too!), the most significant piece of on-screen entertainment this week has been the enthralling "Superman III."

I know everyone HATES "Superman III." I can understand why. But I love it.

I forgot how much I love it, until I watched it again this week. Part of it has to do with the fact that "Superman III" was the only superhero movie we actually owned when we were kids. Television's Ryan Callahan can attest to this, but we watched this thing about a dozen times on VHS because (a) we didn't have cable when we were that age, and (b) it was Superman AND Richard Pryor!

Richard Lester hams everything up whenever possible, but Richard Pryor has so many brilliant scenes in "Superman III." Look, the skiing off the skyscraper and landing in the street gag is not funny, but it's the little gestures that make Pryor's Gus Gorman into the fascinating on-screen character that he is. My favorite moment: when Robert Vaughn grabs Pryor by both arms and emphasizes something he just said, and Pryor awkwardly reaches to give Vaughn a little hug because he doesn't seem to know what else to do with his arms. It's a complete Michael Scott moment, and it's hilariously subtle.

And the visual asymmetry in this movie makes it more interesting than the others in the Christopher Reeve series. Superman, in costume, sitting on Lana Lang's floral-patterned couch? Brilliant visual. And it's followed up by sleazy Superman's line when he says "nah, I don't need to rescue that truck."

"Superman: The Movie" NEVER made me believe a man can fly, but "Superman III" made me believe that superheroes can be weird and wonderful (but mostly weird), and I will carry that lesson with me forever.

I also have begun my newest Geek Assignment (TM 2007 Timothy Callahan) with "Doctor Who." Challenged by reader "teatime_brutality" to learn to love the good Doctor, I finally sat down and watched the two most recent episodes of the BBC series. And now I'm becoming a little obsessed. I want to watch more. I want to immerse myself (and those two eps were really, really good), but I'm not willing to shell out for the $80 season sets just yet I'll have to wait until my Season sets arrive (just got Seasons 1-4 on ebay for under $150 total about five minutes ago, and I'm a sucker for a deal, even though that is still ridiculously expensive). Still, I'll keep you posted on whether or not this Doctor Who thing is just a brief dalliance or a real and total geek out.

Speaking of Doctor Who, besides my weekly stack of comics, a large chunk of "New Teen Titans Archives" Vol. 3 (I just picked up Vol. 4, and remembered that I never read the third one), a Calvin and Hobbes collection I'm reading with my son, I've also just started a novel by Paul Cornell called "British Summertime." I don't know anything about it, but I'm on a Cornell kick, and since I couldn't get my hands on any of his Doctor Who novels in the U.S. (which would have fed into my Geek Assignment and my Cornell crush, but oh well), I picked this one up. I don't know if it's any good, and I probably won't get around to finishing it this week, but if it's worth reading I'm sure I'll blog about it eventually.

What are YOU watching and reading?


Chad Nevett said...

This weekend, I watched the first two episodes of The Prisoner, two Kevin Smith movies and August Rush with my girlfriend. (By the way, August Rush was the worst-written piece of shit I've ever seen.) Then, tonight, I watched Before the Devil Knows You're Dead by myself.

I'm currently rereading The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. Thinking about rereading The Invisibles, too.

Drew said...

I am watching the newest episode of BSG in about 20 minutes. And my hands are shacking in excitement as I type this. Re-reading Scott Pilgrim.

Vanja said...

Since Thursday, I've spent pretty much all of my free-time (and some that was most definitely not that) re-reading "100 bullets".

I've also finally read the complete Warren Ellis' "Thunderbolts", which I wanted to do for a long time, considering I stopped following it after the second issue of the final storyline.

Andrew Wales said...

I was totally geeking out over the Kamandi segment of Brave and Bold! Why they could not make an animated show of just that is beyond me.

One of the funniest movies I have ever seen is the new one called Ghost Town starring Ricky Gervais (He's the boss on the British Office series).

My wife and I have been cracking up watching comedian Jim Gaffigan on a dvd called "Beyond the Pale".

I picked up the Prince of Persia graphic novel at Barnes and Noble at 50% off and -- wow, is it ever good!

irv said...

Just read all of Planetary (well, except for the last unpublished issue) and it was obviously fantastic. A few thoughts: Ellis maybe be better at this stuff than Alan Moore, and that's no small praise. I certainly enjoyed this more than LOEG, or 1963, which were in the same vein.

also, in researching the book on the 'net, i realized that there were a bunch of delays with this book, like years between issues. but this didn't affect me at all, reading it years down the line. but, at the same time, it's seriality is an essential part of the way it was written. It would have been different had it been a big graphic novel. and it kind of proves what i always thought, which is, i'd rather, even though i hate delays when following a current book, have it be done right than done on time. Planetary would have been ruined if they would have brought in other artists in order to get the books out on schedule.

It is a conundrum though, to be sure, because while it doesn't really matter with a (mostly) self contained book like Planetary, when it comes out, scheduling is pretty important with a big tentpole event like FC. So you either end up with delays that tick off fans and mess up the whole company's continuity or you ruin the artistic integrity of the work you're producing with fill-in or other artists "helping".

Marc Caputo said...

Chad - which two Kevin Smith films? Cause that's one polarizing filmography right there. I never feel "Meh." about one of his. Very strong feelings one way or the other.

Chad Nevett said...

Marc--She'd already seen Clerks and Mallrats, so last weekend, we watched Chasing Amy, Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. This weekend, we watched Jersey Girl and Clerks II. I actually like all of his movies--some more than others and for different reasons.

Marc Caputo said...

Clerks - tremendous.
Mallrats - I hate the fact that he thought he had to remake Clerks with more money and more yelling.
Chasing Amy - absolutely gorgeous. Probably his best FILM.
Dogma - very, very good. I just didn't like the balance he struck between humor and drama. If he'd gone more one way or the other, he'd have had a juggernaut.
J&SBSB - I can't view this movie as anything except a love letter/thank you to his fans of the Askewniverse. I don't see how people who saw this first could or would like it.
Jersey Girl - god-awful. One of the worst things I've ever sat through.
Clerks II - I want to see this, but I've heard so much BAD about it, it may depress me.

I'm reading Y: the Last Man, Fables, Ex Machina and 100 Bullets because Marvel and DC pissed me off in 2008. Also, my cousin had a temp job for a VP at DC and was heaping stuff on me - her last care package had the first tpb of Young Liars - it's fate, I tell ya!

Chad Nevett said...

Yeah, I don't hate Jersey Girl. Rather enjoyed it this weekend, actually. Obviously not in the same league as Clerks and Chasing Amy, but better than it's given credit for often.

I dig Clerks II. It's not anything that new, but it's got some funny moments, a decent story and a satisfying ending.

Marc Caputo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Timothy Callahan said...

Here's my experience with Kevin Smith movies. I liked ALL of them. Then I turned 30, and I don't like any of them anymore. That's not a snide comment. I just can't understand what I used to like about them anymore. Many of the performances are terrible (Jason Lee is a decent Earl nowadays, but he was terrible in his Smith roles), the movies lack a decent visual aesthetic ("Dogma" might have worked if it looked halfway decent), and I just don't think they're funny anymore. I'm a grumpy old man now, apparently.

Marc Caputo said...

You see, this is what I should have done first, Chad - ask you. When I tell you DOZENS of people, including my brother, slammed Clerks II, I'm not joking. I trust you, despite the Jersey Girl thing - I know I'm in the minority on this one, but I hate his attempt to be cute and cuddly. He can make 100 "Catch and Release"s for that, so I don't have to watch.

Now I can watch it.

Chad Nevett said...

I get what you're saying, Tim. I had the same thing happen with Mark Millar (for the most part) comics when I turned 20.

Timothy Callahan said...

Whereas I've reignited my Millar love. It's cyclical.

Maybe I'll like Smith's films when I'm 40.

Your Mom said...

I couldn't agree more about Superman III or Kevin Smith movies. Glad to hear that you're going to get into the fantastic new Doctor Who series, because it really is the best sci-fi show currently on television. As far as Mark Millar goes, it's not black-and-white with me. He's done great stuff (Civil War or his stuff with Morrison) and he's done total crap (Kick-Ass and too numerous to mention). Our only real difference of opinion was that you liked Kevin Smith before you were 30... and I always knew he was crap.

Ultimate Matt said...

I'm up to Season 4 of The Wire, and I'm getting cuahgt up on all of Marvel's big cosmic stuff of the last few years. Annihilation is pretty damn good.

Have you seen the original Office (the british version), Tim? It's vastly superior to the American one in every possible way.

And, of course, I am mentally preparing myself for the return of the greatest show on television on Wednesday.

Marc Caputo said...

Matt: from what I hear (and I've only heard flashes and hints - no actual spoilers), there's nothing that could prepare us for Wed. And the fact that Battlestar Galactica scooped LOST by a week with one of their best - surprise AND drama-wise, I say the next 10 weeks will make us all very happy.

Marc said...

Watching -
Buffy Season Five
Mad Men Season One
Battlestar Galactica

Reading -
I just finished Two Fisted Tales vol. 1. This was my first serious dip in the EC Comics pool and I'm hungry for more. Seriously, this stuff holds up incredibly well.

I'm also reading Winter Men by Brett Lewis and John Paul Leon. I want to praise this series because there's a lot to like. It's a good story concept, with great artwork (though a little busy in a few places). At its best, it reminds me of Sleeper. But then there are long passages of exposition and abrupt scene shifts and I end up feeling lost. I have 2 issues to go so the verdict is still out.

In my immediate reading pile -
Latest Ex Machina arc
Bottomless Belly Button
Fight or Run

BTW, I couldn't agree more on Kevin Smith. Clerks is his only really great movie, but when I watch it now, I just feel old. And his comics are terrible.

Timothy Callahan said...

I have seen the British Office (and I saw it all before the American Office debuted). I don't think it's better. I think it's different, and it has fewer episodes and higher highs, but the American Office is the single best show on television, and has been for a few years. That's a pretty great show in my bood.

With that said: Ricky Gervais with a boombox is greater than Steve Carell with an imaginary gun any day.

Timothy Callahan said...

"bood" meand "book," which makes more sense.

Ultimate Matt said...

Blasphemy, Callahan! LOST is the greatest show on television! LOST is the truth and the way! LOST shall save your soul! LOST is!


I like the American Office as well, but it's a much different show than the british one. The first 2 or 3 seasons were great, though. Out of curiosity, how do you feel about the current season? I'm not enjoying it much - it's gotten too far from what made the show special and turning into just another goofy sitcom.

Timothy Callahan said...

Lost is pretty good, and getting better, but the incessant and mostly pointless (and simplistic) flashback structure of the first couple of seasons are not forgotten by me!

I like the Office this season. It's still the best show on TV.

Ultimate Matt said...

Genuine question (about Lost): That seems like an odd criticism. Don't most shows have a fairly standard three-act structure? How is Lost's flashback structure more simlpistic than that? Why would any deviation from what most shows do be considered simpler if it is adding to the formula?

Aside from Lost, House (which is as formulaic a show as any I've ever seen, but wins me over on House's character alone), and Office/30 Rock, I don't watch much tv, so maybe I'm wrong in my assumption of most shows having a fairly basic structure.

Malpractice said...

been watching Spaced and The Wire a lot lately.

Been trying to read my stack of comics from last month while re-reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods.

Marc, i am sure my opinion dosen't matter one way or the other but i personally find Clerks 2 to be Kevin Smith's best film (i tend to go back and forth between that and Chasing Amy though).