Wednesday, July 30, 2008
101.1 PIMP MY BOOK
So my online novel Pelicula is now completely available on the ‘net, all its reels and chapters safely floating out there in the aether.
If you haven’t checked it out, or were perhaps waiting for it to boast a proper ending, well, this is your chance.
Just turn off the main infobahn here.
(Thanx to Carl, for all things Pelicula website-y, and to Budj, for co-producing.)
101.2 AUGUST AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE HIGHLIGHTS
August 2, Saturday, 5:00 PM
A marathon of the extended versions of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy (a whopping total of 682 minutes!), to be introduced by legendary fantasy artist Greg Hildebrandt.
[Special admission price: $3.00.]
A Tribute to Stan Winston [August 15-16]
August 15, Friday, 7:30 PM
A double feature of James Cameron’s Aliens and Winston’s directorial debut, Pumpkinhead.
August 16, Saturday, 7:30 PM
A double feature of John McTiernan’s Predator and Stephen Hopkins’ Predator 2.
August 21, Thursday, 7:30 PM
Egyptian Theatre 85th Anniversary Double Feature
The original versions of Ridley Scott’s Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens.
(Both films originally premiered at the Egyptian Theatre.)
101.3 PUSHING DAISIES AT SDCC08
With all the news that has flooded out of this year’s recently concluded edition of the San Diego Comic-Con, one of the bits that has got me giddy is this: a Wonderfalls/Pushing Daisies cross-over!
Mary Ann Marie Beetle, from Wonderfalls’ “Muffin Buffalo” episode, will appear in Pushing Daisies. (And the crowd goes wild…) At the moment, I’m unsure whether Beetle will again be played by Beth Grant (I certainly hope so).
And, and, and… Diana Scarwid appears in the first 3 episodes of Season 2. (Sadly, I don’t think it’s as Karen Tyler.)
Is Caroline Dhavernas far behind?
(Images courtesy of ew.com [Peter Jackson on the set of The Return of the King]; wired.com [Stan Winston]; horrorphile.net [Alien image]; aintitcool.com [Pushing Daisies and Wonderfalls DVD cover art]; and hollywoodjesus.com [Wonderfalls promo image of Diana Scarwid].)
(Pelicula logo by Carl Vergara; Habagat icon and pin-up by Ian Sta. Maria.)
Season 4 Episode 12
“There’s No Place Like Home” (Part One)
Written by Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse
Directed by Stephen Williams
Frakkin’ Admiral Cain works for Oceanic!
We see the Oceanic Six get presented to the press for the first time, and hear the official cover-up story, as delivered by Karen Decker (Michelle Forbes, a.k.a. Battlestar Galactica’s Admiral Psycho-B!tch Cain).
We then track the Six as they re-assimilate into society.
Nadia makes her way to the press conference, and is reunited with Sayid. (Of course, we all know how that’s gonna end…)
Using the “very significant” settlement paid her by Oceanic, Sun purchases a controlling interest in her father’s company, and in a fantastic scene, she confronts her evil da, and says, You’re the reason why we were on that plane. Two people are responsible for my husband’s death, and you are one of them.
She goes on to say, I will have my baby, and then we will discuss what is to become of our company. (Sun’s really scary when you cross her…)
Hugo is given a surprise birthday party, with most of the Oceanic Six in attendance (Jack is running late). His pops gives him his birthday gift: the Firebird, which has finally been completed.
As a kind of memorial, Hugo’s da rebuilt it when he’d thought Hugo was gone. Now, it’s Hugo’s. But when he gets in, he sees the speedometer and odometer (is that right?) and they are, naturally, turned to the cursed numbers.
So Hugo loses it and runs off, down the street…
At the memorial for Christian, who should show up, but Claire’s mum, and she tells Jack all.
Your father was in Sydney to see his daughter, who also happened to be on the plane you were on, and her name was Claire…. We can see just how this slams into poor Jack, and the woman, totally oblivious, passes Kate as she leaves the church, and says, You have a beautiful son…
Now, back to the Island, where things get FUBAR right quick, as we careen towards the two-hour season finale.
Much to Juliet’s agony, Jack runs off into the jungle with Kate, to track the NaomiPhone’s signal, which will lead them to the helicopter.
They run into Sawyer, Miles, and Aaron. Jack keeps on going, while Kate is stuck with Aaron, so Sawyer accompanies Jack.
They eventually find the helicopter, and find Frank handcuffed to it. Frank tells them as soon as he’s free, he can fly them to safety, and they should do it before Keamy and his goons get back.
Frank says they’re here for Ben, and they won’t be very nice to anyone else they find with him. Sawyer says, Hugo’s with Ben.
Naturally, Jack and Sawyer go off to rescue Hugo…
By the time Sayid gets the Zodiac to the beach, Kate’s arrived. Kate and Sayid decide to go after Jack, while Daniel volunteers to start ferrying people to the freighter. On the first trip, Sun, Jin, and Aaron.
When Sun and Jin get to the freighter, they see Michael, and understandably, aren’t terribly thrilled to see him.
Michael also gets to fix the engines, but Des finds that there’s a whole lotta C4 on the boat…
Meanwhile, Kate and Sayid follow Jack’s tracks, but end up being taken by Richard and the Others…
Ben, Locke, and Hugo, on the other hand, under orders to “move the Island,” head for the Orchid Station, where Keamy and his goons are already by the time they arrive.
Ben gives Locke very specific instructions to get to the elevator that will bring him down to the real Orchid Station, while Ben, to keep Keamy and his goons distracted, gives himself up to Widmore’s troops…
Well, there we are, and just two hours away from season’s end.
It is, of course, a poignant moment, seeing the Oceanic Six initially reunited with their respective families, made all the more bittersweet since Kate has no one to greet her, as does Sayid (Nadia shows up afterwards), though Hugo does intro Sayid to his parents.
The subsequent Oceanic Six off-Island bits are also an emotional minefield (we know how Sayid’s reunion with Nadia will end; we see Sun the Terrible; and we see the beginning of the decline, for both Hugo and Jack), serving as counterpoint to the Island present bits, which—in keeping with past season wrap-ups—is very much focused on narrative propulsion, of getting to the finale with as much momentum as humanly possible.
(Images courtesy of ABC, ew.com, and variety.com.)
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
So, despite my initial less-than-ecstatic reaction to Gotham Knight, further exacerbated by my full-on amazement with The Dark Knight (see review in Archive), I decided to give the anime anthology film tie-in a second look, and here’s what I discovered.
It really doesn’t get any better the second time around.
Gotham Knight is a straight-to-DVD tie-in to The Dark Knight, which takes a page from The Animatrix and assembles six animated vignettes that have some connective tissue between each other, as well as with The Dark Knight.
Naturally, Batman appears, but we also get glimpses of supporting characters like Alfred, Lt. Gordon, and Lucius Fox, as well as appearances from MCU copper Anna Ramirez and gangster Salvatore Maroni (played by Monique Curnen and Eric Roberts in The Dark Knight).
Given the ostensible continuity amongst the vignettes (running approximately 12 minutes each), all six stories are by Christopher Nolan collaborator Jordan Goldberg, their screenplays written by a handful of comic book scribes and Hollywood screenwriters. (Goldberg wrote the screenplay for one vignette, “Field Test.”)
Sadly, it’s perhaps because all half dozen stories were conceptualized by one individual, that Gotham Knight doesn’t have the same level of blazing imagination so evident in The Animatrix.
While that DVD tie-in put the Matrix sequels to shame with its unbridled and multi-faceted exploration of the Wachowskis’ construct, Gotham Knight comes nowhere near the complex, brooding majesty of The Dark Knight.
It’s also a curious thing that Gotham Knight doesn’t sport the voice talents of The Dark Knight cast. Instead, we have the long-time voice of the animated Batman, Kevin Conroy, and NCIS’ David McCallum as Alfred, among others.
And though Conroy’s vocal interpretation of the Batman arguably displays a much more pleasing aesthetic than Christian Bale’s guttural growl, I’d have still preferred to hear the film’s cast in this particular case.
It is a tie-in, isn’t it?
Thankfully, I can at least say I was impressed by the fifth and sixth vignettes, Toshiyuki Kubooka’s “Working Through Pain” (which gives us a poignant glimpse of the pain that is at the core of Bruce Wayne) and Madhouse’s “Deadshot” (which pits the Bat against crack assassin, Floyd Lawton, a.k.a. Deadshot).
Aside from this pair of exceptional entries though, the rest of Gotham Knight is a disappointing mish-mash. Admittedly, there is some good animation in there, and the varied character interpretations are interesting, but the majority of Gotham Knight just doesn’t fully engage.
Particularly aggravating is Yasuhiro Aoki’s “In Darkness Dwells,” which is, visually, one of the strongest pieces, though it’s hampered by a negligible story involving the Scarecrow and Killer Croc.
Now, as much as I found 66% of Gotham Knight a frustrating disappointment, you could opt to pick up the 2-disc edition, which includes, amidst a load of extras, four episodes from Batman: The Animated Series.
With a longer total running time than Gotham Knight, these episodes include the excellent “Legends of the Dark Knight,” which uses a similar structure to Gotham Knight’s “Have I Got a Story for You,” to much better and more entertaining effect.
(Wonder Woman fans will also want to check out the 10-minute plus peek at the upcoming animated Wonder Woman, where Keri Russell, Virginia Madsen, and Rosario Dawson all get to do the Amazon thing, with Nathan Fillion and Alfred Molina along for the ride.)
Parting shot: The Gotham Knight vignettes are as follows:
“Have I Got a Story for You”: directed by Shojiro Nishimi, story by Jordan Goldberg, screenplay by Josh Olson
“Crossfire”: directed by Futoshi Higashide, story by Jordan Goldberg, screenplay by Greg Rucka
“Field Test”: directed by Hiroshi Morioka Tsubasa, story and screenplay by Jordan Goldberg
“In Darkness Dwells”: directed by Yasuhiro Aoki, story by Jordan Goldberg, screenplay by David Goyer
“Working Through Pain”: directed by Toshiyuki Kubooka, story by Jordan Goldberg, screenplay by Brian Azzarello
“Deadshot”: animation produced by Madhouse, story by Jordan Goldberg, screenplay by Alan Burnett
(Gotham Knight 2-disc edition DVD cover art courtesy of aintitcool.com; images courtesy of aintitcool.com, twitchfilm.net, and batmangothamknight.com.)
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Season 1 Episode 1
“The Pilot Episode Sanction”
Teleplay by Javier Grillo-Marxuach
Directed by Jeremiah Chechik
“You know how in comic books, there’s all kinds of mad scientists and aliens and androids and monsters and all of them want to either destroy or take over the world?”
“In comic books, sure.”
“Well, it really does work like that.”
Wendy Watson (Natalie Morales) is a comic-loving, Xbox-playing artist whose temp job inadvertently brings her into contact with the Middleman (The Last Days of Disco’s Matt Keeslar), whose job it is to deal with comic book evil.
You see, all those wonky four-colour baddies—the monsters and aliens and mad doctors and killer robots? Well, contrary to what straight society wishes us to believe, and lining up precisely with what we’ve always known, they actually exist.
And the Middleman’s our non-spandex wearing hero.
And Wendy? Well, she’s about to be the Middleman’s sidekick. (Though I imagine Wendy would much rather be called, I dunno, his assistant?)
That’s ABC Family’s new show, The Middleman, in a nutshell.
Based on a comic book written by former Lost writer, Javier Grillo-Marxuach (which, if memory serves, is pronounced “Ha-vee-air Gree-joe Marks-watch”), The Middleman is a fun and irreverent romp that finds all the neat hilarity in comic book tropes and pop culture fixtures without making fun of them.
This first episode alone (directed by Jeremiah Chechik, whose feature film work includes Benny & Joon and the Diabolique redux) takes on a convention beloved of DC Comics, and is a great introduction to the wacky world of the Middleman.
Aside from the fact that Grillo-Marxuach’s writing is silly-sharp-funny, Morales and Keeslar are well cast, fully getting the tone of the show, not always as simple a task as it may sound; sometimes, there’s only a narrow margin between loving, good-natured, humorous homage, and spoof/parody.
Not only are Morales and Keeslar amusing and engaging protagonists, they also prove to be adept at delivering sometimes incredulously goofy lines at a mile a minute.
And sure, the CGI is distinctly TV-grade, but the fakey look of the effects just adds to the B-movie charm of the show’s premise.
Admittedly, this doesn’t leave the gate with quite as much propulsion as, say, the Heroes Pilot, and the show does appear to have some minor kinks it’ll need to work out (hopefully sooner rather than later), but if you’re a comic book geek, The Middleman is definitely a show to be checked out; if you know how to have fun with your comics, I’d like to think you’ll have fun with this too.
Parting shot: 24 fans, take note: Mary Lynn Rajskub shows up in the Pilot as Dr. Gibbs of Simionics Animal Laboratories.
(Images courtesy of abcfamily.go.com.)
Friday, July 25, 2008
As genres go, the western is one that I’m not particularly inclined to.
But when a director like Takashi Miike takes on a western, having his Japanese cast speak English (most, perhaps even all, phonetically), well, that’s a ride that’s pretty much irresistible.
The result is what is arguably one of his most stylized and bizarre films, and if you’ve seen Miike, you’ll know that’s saying a lot.
Miike’s ode to the spaghetti western (specifically, Sergio Corbucci’s Django), Sukiyaki Western Django dives into the conventions of the genre with cheeky glee and introduces us to the archetypical mysterious stranger (here dubbed “The Gunman,” and played by Shura Yukihime‘s Hideaki Ito) who arrives in a town besieged by the rivalry of two clans, the Heike and the Genji, as the colour-coordinated scoundrels vie for a legendary treasure of gold that may or may not exist.
What follows is a gonzo mash-up of western, comedy, and cartoon violence, with some Shakespeare thrown in for good measure.
It’s an interesting, though not altogether successful hybrid.
First off though, the film looks great, the most visually interesting feature I’ve seen from him thus far.
Shot by cinematographer Toyomichi Kurita (who also lensed Miike’s “Imprint” for Masters of Horror, and, curiously enough, three of Tyler Perry’s recent films), the arid brown palette of the conventional western is here punctuated with bursts of Technicolor lunacy, and some very atypical costume design by Michiko Kitamura, who worked on Miike’s Koroshiya Ichi (Ichi the Killer) and “Imprint,” as well as Kazuaki Kiriya‘s Casshern.
Oh, and since this is a Miike film, we get bursts and splashes of the warm red too.
But while the vibrant look of the film goes a long way in keeping the audience’s interest in the on-screen action, it’s in the humour where Miike kind of loses me.
Sukiyaki Western Django has that goofy Japanese sense of humour (seen in some of Miike’s oeuvre), only magnified, because of the choice of having the actors spout words and phrases like “skivvies,” “nook and cranny,” “lily-livered,” and “whistle Dixie” in their stilted, Japanese-accented English.
Fun, yes, perhaps even reminiscent of the English-dubbed spaghetti westerns that inspired the film, but a little too often, just plain distracting.
With that singular choice, Miike crosses the line to the no man’s land where the stylized narrative conventions a director chooses to utilize play out as contrived, calling undue attention to themselves and ultimately, the induced artificiality of the entire endeavour.
Much of Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror walked drunkenly on this line, and on occasion slipped over it. In Sukiyaki Western Django, the basic premise smashes through that line with oblivious glee, and could very well be the singular element of the film that could make or break a viewer’s approval.
There are also some other strange choices, like having the town sheriff (Kiraware Matsuko no issho‘s Teruyuki Kagawa) be a man quite literally divided, as not only is he caught between the two clans, he’s also apparently afflicted with a split-personality, a character note that’s played mostly for laughs and gets annoying and overly screwball very quickly.
Now, it’s entirely possible that the character of the sheriff is emblematic of the bizarre nature of the spaghetti western itself: an Italian co-opting of an American genre, a hybrid of two apparently disparate elements.
But even if that were indeed the case, the character itself is an annoying fixture in the film’s proceedings, only serving to compromise the work even further.
And then when Heike chief Kiyomori (Koichi Sato, from J-Horror entries Rasen and Kansen) really gets into Henry VI…
I don’t know…
It should be noted though that I do appreciate the reversals going on here. That even as some of the most widely known spaghetti westerns looked to the samurai film for inspiration—such as Sergio Leone’s Per un pugno di dollari (A Fistful of Dollars) hearkening back to Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo—so now does Miike tip his own sombrero back.
This may not have completely revved up my engine, but it’s a fun, rowdy homage just the same, and another freaky feather in the director’s aforementioned sombrero: though Miike is perhaps most widely known for the shocking transgressive cinema of films like Odishon (Audition) and Koroshiya Ichi, he’s also done J-Horror (Chakushin Ari; One Missed Call), ostensible family entertainment (Yokai Daisenso; The Great Yokai War), and straight-up drama (Sabu).
Miike is nothing if not prolific and versatile.
And to be perfectly honest, I’m constantly fascinated by Miike not necessarily because I love every film he does, but rather because they’re never boring and invariably prove to be interesting in one way or another.
Miike makes brave cinematic choices. Of course, not all those choices will turn out to be sound, but the mere fact that he’s willing to not only consider them, but also actually make them, highlights him in my books.
In the end, I may not exactly love Sukiyaki Western Django, but it’s safe to say I haven’t seen anything like it from Miike before, and I certainly didn’t see anything quite like it among its fellow 2007 films.
So if you’re willing to check out a brazenly visual western with the decidedly tangy flavour of stylized violence and screwball humour, a steaming bowl of Sukiyaki Western Django may be just your thing.
(And if you’re a QT fan, you’ll definitely want to see this…)
(Sukiyaki Western Django OS’s courtesy of joshuazimmerman.com and rowthree.com; cast image courtesy of screenhead.com.)
Saturday, July 19, 2008
In the months leading up to The Dark Knight, a feeling I’d had at least twice before began to make itself known again: a mixture of apprehension and anticipation for a film shadowed by the sudden and premature death of one of its stars.
It happened with The Twilight Zone. It happened again—more acutely—with Alex Proyas’ The Crow.
Ultimately, the difference with The Dark Knight though, is that Heath Ledger’s performance as the mad, bad, and dangerous to know Arkham escapee, the Joker, is one of those rare cinematic portrayals where the actor is so completely subsumed into the role, that he virtually disappears.*
Watching the disturbing and terrifying antics of the Joker was exactly that: being witness to the confounding actions of a madman. I wasn’t watching the work of an actor cut down in his prime. Within the context of The Dark Knight, there was no Heath Ledger.
There was no actor here, only this anarchic, disfigured bugaboo that seemed to be nothing so much as an avatar of insanity, without even the humanizing characteristics of an identity or a proper history.
And if that was all that The Dark Knight was about, it would already be a film worth watching.
The thing is, it’s so very much more.
Picking up more or less where Batman Begins left us—Wayne Manor is still being rebuilt, the Arkham inmates let loose during Ra’s al Ghul’s climactic attack are still roaming free—we rejoin Bruce Wayne’s crusade to clean up Gotham’s streets, even as he has to contend with the changes—both good and bad—his arrival on the scene has wrought on the city.
As if the Joker wasn’t already more than enough to deal with…
What amazes me most I suppose about The Dark Knight, is that DC and Warner Bros. gave Christopher Nolan the freedom to craft a comic book film as dark and complex as this.
This is clearly not the same PG-13 world where Marvel is apparently taking their heroes. This is also not a carefree, mindless exercise in four-colour fisticuffs.
This is a film that explores the moral and ethical complexities of a vigilante’s life: where are the lines drawn? What happens when you inspire people, but not quite in the way you’d hoped? What is the price to be paid for living outside the law?
The Dark Knight asks these questions—and so many others—in a solid 2 hours and 32 minutes, that, while admittedly getting a slow but steady ramp-up during its opening act, becomes a relentless and riveting experience once the Bat returns from his brief Hong Kong sojourn.
While Batman Begins proved to be thematically cohesive, The Dark Knight not only achieves that—no small feat, considering the surfeit of clumsy and blatantly manipulative scripts which inform many a superhero film—but also ups the ante considerably by posing the difficult questions, by exploring the tangled intricacies of morality behind a mask.
And not only do we see Bruce Wayne’s increasingly tortured and fractured existence unwind before our eyes, we are also privy to the other people in his life and how the sea change in the city impacts on them.
There’s Gary Oldman's Lt. Gordon, there’s Michael Caine's Alfred, there's Morgan Freeman's Lucius, and there’s Rachel (a role now taken over by the amazing Maggie Gyllenhaal).
More pointedly though, we see the entire character arc of new District Attorney Harvey Dent (the equally amazing Aaron Eckhart), taking him from the valiant White Knight of Gotham—attempting to do, within the strictures of the law, the same thing Batman is doing—to the inevitable and cruel turn that will transform him into Two-Face, arguably the most tragic supervillain ever to grace the silver screen. (His only real competition is Spider-Man 2’s Doc Ock, and the Doc has the misfortune of appearing in a film I have some major issues with.)
It’s one of the many delights of The Dark Knight that just as we’re privy to the exact series of events that turn Harvey into Two-Face, the Joker is presented as a psychopathic cipher, without even an origin to ground him, elevating the character into an agent of anarchy, a catalyst, to draw out the worst in people.
And just as the film gives us a sometimes raw and unsettling look at the deviant criminal’s psyche, in it, we’re also shown a city and its people literally under siege, brought to the teetering edge where one can either rise above, or tear one’s neighbour—and ultimately, one’s self—to shreds.
Here, not only is the eternal struggle of light and dark waged in the characters’ souls, it’s also fought in the film’s setting, on Gotham’s streets, as well as within the very fabric of the city’s society, where the everyman is also given the choice, of which side of the coin he chooses to fall, in light of the alternatives presented to him.
While I sometimes thought that in Batman Begins, we were merely told—and through the film’s visuals, shown—how Gotham was corrupt and unhealthy, without actually feeling it, in The Dark Knight, the sense of a city and populace riddled with crime and strife, is horrifyingly palpable, tied into the narrative as it is.
Nolan effectively paints the portrait of a society so dark and compromised, its hero turns out to be one of shadows and childhood traumas, whose main weapons are fear and a billionaire’s bank account.
And terribly, it all makes sense.
In The Dark Knight, we’re given a film that may seem, visually, lighter than its predecessor, but is genuinely darker, befitting the complex psychologies evident in Batman’s comic book incarnation.
It’s a film where choices are constantly being made, pivotal, life-altering choices, that can change the nature of the game on the turn of a dime.
With it, Nolan and his trusted crew which include brother and co-writer Jonathan, Oscar-nominated cinematographer Wally Pfister, editor Lee Smith, and production designer Nathan Crowley, have given us a superhero film uncompromising in its vision and intent.
Like its predecessor—and Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns—it’s also a superhero film clearly aimed at adult sensibilities.
In many ways—perhaps even all—The Dark Knight doesn’t play like your average spandex adaptation. There’s nothing remotely easy about this one, all the victories either hard-won, or outright pyrrhic.
Like Batman Begins, it’s grandiose, and operatic. But here the tragedy is more brutally delineated, the costs of heroism steeper, the sacrifices weightier.
This is The Dark Knight you’ve been waiting for.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
* I never saw any of Brandon Lee’s work before The Crow, so I couldn’t really judge how much of what I saw on the screen was Lee and how much was Eric Draven…
It was, nonetheless, a very good performance as well.
Parting shot: Reviews of Batman Begins (as well as Nolan’s The Prestige) can be found in the Archive.
I’ve also already seen the anime tie-in, Gotham Knight, though underwhelmed as I was by it, I couldn’t motivate myself enough to sit down and write a review for it. Now, having seen The Dark Knight, I could be even harsher with it than I might have originally been inclined…
(Images courtesy of impawards.com [The Dark Knight OS’s, designs by BLT & Associates and Intralink Film Graphic Design]; ew.com [Heath Ledger as the Joker; Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent]; cinematical.com [Heath Ledger as the Joker and Christian Bale as Batman; Christian Bale as Batman]; nytimes.com [Christopher Nolan on the set of The Dark Knight]; time.com [Christian Bale as Batman; Heath Ledger as the Joker].)
Friday, July 18, 2008
So this year’s nominations are out, and here are the nods I took note of:
80th Annual Academy Awards
Outstanding Art Direction For A Variety, Music or Nonfiction Programming (Roy Christopher, Production Designer; Joe Celli, Art Director)
Outstanding Directing For A Variety, Music or Nonfiction Programming (Louis J. Horvitz)
Outstanding Lighting Direction (electronic, Multi-camera) For Vmc Programming (Robert A. Dickinson, Lighting Designer; Robert Barnhart, Andy O’Reilly, Lighting Directors)
Outstanding Music Direction (Bill Conti, Music Director)
Outstanding Individual Performance In A Variety or Music Program (Jon Stewart, Host)
Outstanding Picture Editing Of Clip Packages For Talk, Performance, Award Or Reality Competition Programs [Oscar Show Tribute Sequence] (Chuck Workman)
Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Variety Or Music Series Or Special
Outstanding Special Class – Awards Programs (Gilbert Cates, Producer)
Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special
Outstanding Cinematography For A One Hour Series [Razor] (Stephen McNutt, Director of Photography)
Outstanding Single-camera Picture Editing For A Drama Series [“He That Believeth In Me”] (Julius Ramsay)
Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Comedy Or Drama Series (one-hour) [Razor] (Rick Bal, Production Mixer; Michael Olman, Kenneth Kobett, Supervising Re-Recording Mixers)
Outstanding Special Class – Short-format Live-action Entertainment Programs [Razor Featurette #4] (Ronald D. Moore, David Eick, Executive Producers; Harvey Frand, Supervising Producer)
Outstanding Special Visual Effects For A Series [“He That Believeth In Me”]
Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series [“Six Of One”] (Michael Angeli)
Outstanding Main Title Design (Karin Fong, Jonathan Gershon, Dana Yee, Title Designers)
Outstanding Stunt Coordination [“Chuck Versus The Undercover Lover”] (Merritt Yohnka, Stunt Coordinator)
Outstanding Art Direction For A Single-camera Series [“That Night, A Forest Grew”] (Tony Cowley, Production Designer; Linda Spheeris, Set Decorator)
Outstanding Cinematography For A One Hour Series [“The British Invasion”] (Romeo Tirone, Director of Photography)
Outstanding Drama Series
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series (Michael C. Hall)
Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Comedy Or Drama Series (one-hour) [“It’s Alive!”] (Patrick Hanson, Production Mixer; Elmo Ponsdomenech, Joe Earle, Re-Recording Mixers)
Outstanding Comedy Series
Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series [“No Cannes Do”] (Dan Attias)
Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Comedy Or Drama Series (half-hour) And Animation [“Adios Amigo”] (Steve Morantz, Production Mixer; Dennis Kirk, Bill Jackson, Re-Recording Mixers)
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series (Jeremy Piven)
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series (Kevin Dillon)
Outstanding Art Direction For A Single-camera Series [“Out of Time”] (Ruth Ammon, Production Designer; Matthew Jacobs, Art Director; Ron Franco, Set Decorator)
Outstanding Single-camera Picture Editing For A Drama Series [“Powerless”] (Scott Boyd)
Outstanding Special Visual Effects For A Series [“Four Months Ago”]
Justice League: The New Frontier
Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming One Hour or More)
Outstanding Cinematography For A One Hour Series [“The Constant”] (John Bartley, Director of Photography)
Outstanding Drama Series
Outstanding Music Composition For A Series (original Dramatic Score) [“The Constant”] (Michael Giacchino)
Outstanding Single-camera Picture Editing For A Drama Series [“There’s No Place Like Home” (Parts 2 & 3)] (Henk Van Eeghen, Robert Florio, Mark J. Goldman, Stephen Semel)
Outstanding Sound Editing For A Series [“The Shape Of Things To Come”]
Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Comedy Or Drama Series (one-hour) [“Meet Kevin Johnson”] (Robert Anderson, Production Mixer; Frank Morrone, Scott Weber, Re-Recording Mixers)
Outstanding Special Class – Short-format Live-action Entertainment Programs [Lost: Missing Pieces] (Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, Barry Jossen, Executive Producers)
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series (Michael Emerson)
Outstanding Art Direction For A Single-camera Series [“Pie-Lette”] (Michael Wylie, Production Designer; Halina Siwolop, Set Decorator)
Outstanding Casting For A Comedy Series (Camille Patton, Meg Liberman, Jennifer Lare)
Outstanding Costumes For A Series [“Pie-Lette”] (Mary Vogt, Costume Designer; Stephanie Fox-Kramer, Costume Supervisor)
Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series [“Pie-Lette”] (Barry Sonnenfeld)
Outstanding Hairstyling For A Single-camera Series [“Smell Of Success”] (Daniel Curet, Department Head Hairstylist; Yuko Tokunaga-Koach, Key Hairstylist)
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series (Lee Pace)
Outstanding Makeup For A Single-camera Series (non-prosthetic) [“Dummy”] (Todd A. McIntosh, Department Head Makeup Artist; David De Leon, Key Makeup Artist; Bradley M. Look, Additional Makeup Artist)
Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup For A Series, Miniseries, Movie Or A Special [“Smell Of Success”] (Todd A. McIntosh, Department Head Makeup Artist; David De Leon, Key Makeup Artist; Sara De Pue, Additional Makeup Artist)
Outstanding Music Composition For A Series (original Dramatic Score) [“Pigeon”] (Jim Dooley)
Outstanding Picture Editing For A Comedy Series (single or Multi-camera) [“Pie-Lette”] (Stuart Bass)
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series (Kristin Chenoweth)
Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series [“Pie-Lette”] (Bryan Fuller)
In addition, Lost Find 815 and The Heroes Digital Experience also found themselves among the finalists in the Interactive Media Programming (Fiction) Juried Area, where “one, more than one or no award can be given.” (Other Fiction finalists included HBO Voyeur, Kyle XY: The Collective Experience, and The L Word Interactive.)
Now, while I’m happy for the whopping dozen nominations Pushing Daisies racked up (for a truncated season that lasted all of nine episodes, mind), I am still distressed at the distinct lack of love Emmy has perennially shown for Battlestar Galactica.
Not only were all the performers roundly ignored, but the tremendous work Bear McCreary has been doing in scoring the show also went unacknowledged.
At any rate, congratulations to all the nominees, a complete list of which you may find here.
The 2008 Primetime Emmys will be handed out on September 21 at the NOKIA Theatre in Los Angeles, while the Primetime Creative Arts Awards will be presented on September 13, also at the NOKIA.
Parting shot: Episodic reactions/recaps of Battlestar Galactica, Chuck, Dexter, Entourage, Heroes, Lost, and Pushing Daisies—as well as a review of the Battlestar Galactica straight-to-DVD film Razor—can be found in the Archive.
(Images courtesy of SCIFI Channel and wired.com [Battlestar Galactica]; aintitcool.com [Chuck Season One and Pushing Daisies Season One DVD cover art and Justice League: The New Frontier image]; rickbrotherton.com [Dexter]; hbo.com [Entourage]; NBC and yahoo.com [Heroes]; ABC and eonline.com [Lost].)
Thursday, July 17, 2008
EMPIRE’S! 50! GREATEST! COMIC! BOOK! CHARACTERS! [5 of 5]
THE SUPERMAN EDITION
With the Superman Returns sequel, The Man of Steel, still without a confirmed start date (or even a script, for that matter), being honoured with the top spot on Empire’s list will have to serve as Kal-El’s 70th birthday gift.
Though Lex also being on the list could put a damper on things…
32 Lex Luthor (aka: Alexander Joseph Luthor, Mockingbird)
When you’re as strong, fast, invulnerable and flat-out powerful as Superman, it’s hard to find a nemesis of sufficient menace to actually provide you with a workout.
Enter Lex Luthor, the bad guy’s bad guy.
He doesn’t (usually) have superpowers, but then he doesn’t need them, even against the Man of Steel.
No prison can hold him, it seems, no setback is too great to overcome, and there’s pretty much no scheme too outlandish for his considerable brain power to cook up.
Since Superman remains reluctant to just break Luthor’s neck, there’s always tomorrow for this perpetual rebounder. Talk about try, try and try again—Robert the Bruce’s Spider had nothing on Luthor.
FIRST APPEARED IN ACTION COMICS #23 (1940)
CREATED BY JERRY SIEGEL AND JOE SHUSTER
1 Superman (aka: Kal-El, Clark Kent)
Being first counts for a lot, but it’s going the distance that elevates Superman from the run of flying caped superguys who followed him.
How many other characters from disposable 1938 fictions have appeared consistently for eighty years and are still as famous as ever?
Superman’s peers aren’t really Spider-Man or Wolverine, but Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan and James Bond—pop culture mainstays who stay current through consistent reinvention but are classically themselves all the same.
Superman has taken a beating from time to time: his fight for ‘truth, justice and the American Way’ is nobler but less easy to relate to than Batman’s vengeance-driven war on crime (especially when we get antsy about what ‘the American Way’ actually means); his powers are so vast that it’s hard to come up with threats worth his time (so it’s incredible that for decades, his biggest problem was a pudgy bald guy with a laboratory); and his clean-cut, super-square looks and attitude are always being challenged by someone who momentarily seems more contemporary, edgy or pragmatic.
That's perhaps why the comics have often experimented with his essential ingredients, recasting him as a Commie (Red Son) or a Brit (True Brit) or creating twisted, dark reflections of the eternal do-gooder, like Bizarro, in endless permutations that attest to his popularity and instant recognisability.
If it weren’t for Superman, there wouldn’t be an entire genre of superhero stories—every single tights-and-powers character who has come along after him is defined by how similar or how different they are from Kal-El.
FIRST APPEARED IN ACTION COMICS #1 (1938)
CREATED BY JEROME SIEGEL AND JOE SHUSTER
Superman is the foundation stone upon which the entire superhero genre is built, and without him, today’s comics (and multiplexes, for that matter) would look entirely different.
The above write-ups are from Empire’s list.
For more on the above characters, just click on their names; the entire list will be accessible from there.
Parting shot: I believe Empire miscounted when they note Superman has been around for eighty years…
(Images courtesy of dccomics.com [Luthor, art by Ed McGuinness, Superman, art by Tony Harris, and Superman, art by Alex Ross]; britfilms.tv [Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor]; and kal-el.org [Brandon Routh as Superman].)