Thursday, May 17, 2007

Kriegaffe! Damn you!

Mignola's work is engaging not only because of its graphic brilliance, but because of its wonderful sense of pulpy humor as well. Mezco Toys has been releasing some really nice action figures based on Mignola's Hellboy books, and I have two so far: Hellboy and Lobster Johnson. They're well sculpted and capture Mignola's art very well.

Wouldn't you know it, the coolest figure from the first wave is also the rarest. Behold Kriegaffe, with floating Nazi Overlord's head:

Monday, May 14, 2007

Recent movies

The Matador (2005) - I enjoyed watching Pierce Brosnan having fun acting. Though I know he regrets the studio's decision, I'm glad he's done with 007. Roles like this are (apparently) much better suited for him. He's a good comedic actor, and this script was just right for him.

There were a couple moments in the movie where I thought it was going to go somewhere darker, but to the film's credit it keeps the tone light throughout (as light as a movie about an aging assassin can be). I think going on a darker route later in the film would have been cheating.

The Hour of the Gun (1967) - I think I'll try to see all the Wyatt Earp interpretations now, because (as far as I know) there are only 1 or 2 left. I've seen Tombstone, Wyatt Earp, Warlock, My Darling Clementine, and now The Hour of the Gun. I think Gunfight at the OK Corral is the last big one.

Hour of the Gun says in white letters at the very beginning, "This is the real story. This is the way it happened." Well, from what I've read on the subject, it's one of the more accurate interpretations, but it still plays with the timeline and embellishes several events. One alteration in particular seems to be The Standard for Wyatt Earp movies: Virgil and Morgan getting shot on the same night. The assassination attempts were actually several months apart, but The Hour of the Gun, Tombstone, and Wyatt Earp all place them on the same night. It makes sense from a storytelling perspective, but it's funny that HotG would make such a bold claim about accuracy and still fudge a few months. I wonder if HotG set the precedent for this alteration?

I like Jason Robards a lot. He doesn't utilize a Southern dandy accent like Dennis Quaid or Val Kilmer, but he plays a great Doc regardless. James Garner plays Wyatt very straight. Robard's Doc serves as a good foil for him in this regard, often speaking to the emotions and true motivations that Garner's Wyatt never allows out.

HotG might be the first Wyatt Earp film to touch on Wyatt's darker side as well. It doesn't treat him like an outright bully, but it does call into question the righteousness of his crusade to avenge his brothers.

Look for a young John Voight as Curly Bill Brocious.

Adios Sabata (1971) - My first foray into non-Leone spaghetti westerns. I don't know why this one got sent first, since it's not the first Sabata movie. This one features Yule Brynner instead of Lee Van Cleef in the title role.

It's not a great film. But it does have some really cool bits of style and creativity that are hallmarks of the genre.

Gimmicky weapons: check. Sabata has a shortened rifle similar to Josh Randall's in Wanted: Dead or Alive, though this one is clip fed for some ridiculous reason. Honestly, it doesn't make a lick of sense. Allow me to nerd-out on the gun for a moment: Sabata has to use his other hand to push the clip through manually, and it doesn't appear to increase his magazine capacity by more than one or two rounds. What's more, it would make the gun even more inaccurate since he wouldn't be able to steady the gun with his fore hand. Of course, we still see Sabata making amazing shots from hundreds of yards away. This makes Blondie shooting Tuco's rope look like stark neo-realism.

Further weapons gimmicks: the Hungarian (right?) Colonel uses a model ship with working cannons to dispatch a dude he doesn't want to pay. One goofy mute guy who likes to flip around like a monkey is also a dead-eye with the ol' "iron ball on the toe of your shoe."

It features a very creative villain death: the Colonel has had a portrait painted of him, and at the end he is facing off against Sabata in the same room as the portrait. The Colonel ducks behind the portrait just as Sabata whips a knife at him, which stabs into the portrait and then is dragged diagonally down it as the Colonel falls behind it. Pretty cool.

There are some other elements (Sabata's costume, the "Dance of Death," and the fat revolutionary dude's speeches whenever someone dies) that are half cheesy/ half funny.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Payback: Director's Cut

A lot of the "Director's Cuts" I've seen don't do much to justify their existence. They have a few "cut" scenes dropped in, but most of the time they interrupt the pacing and offer no real change to the film. The term has become synonymous with "Unrated Cut" and comes off as a marketing gimmick to get people to shell out for the same movie again.

I haven't seen the original cut of Payback since probably 2000, but I remember enjoying it. It was a gritty crime film with a good dose of humor and Mel's trademark "I love being tortured" shtick. I rented this director's cut to see how it played, since it was apparently a dramatic difference rather than a few new scenes thrown in here and there.

I'd say the new cut is a much better movie than the old one. It eliminates Mel's narration, which I think greatly improves the way Mel's character is explored. We get to watch it rather than hear it, so he is now Porter rather than Mel Gibson. One of the strengths of this character is that we don't fully understand his motivations (see also Point Blank with Lee Marvin); we have the duration of the film to try and understand his code, his principles, and the original narration spoiled the process.

Another change is the filtering. The movie is no longer entirely washed out blue, it's full of warm tones as well as cool. I like this as well. It still fits the mood of the movie, and it's more visually pleasing.

As for new scenes, I couldn't really tell what was added in. I could tell what was removed, which was the kidnapping sub-plot, Kris Kristofferson's character, and the subsequent torture and escape. The new cut features a tidier finale, and the whole movie is actually shorter than the original cut. It clocks in at around 90 minutes, which works for this story. I remember liking Porter's escape scene in the original (clawing his way through the backseat), but I think the new cut keeps the pace consistently and serves the story better.

It's definitely worth checking out.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

These always make me smile

Animated avatar: "Invincible Chunk."

omg i lovzzors corgis!.

Hee hee, giant seal.

Only 2 performances left

The last two showings of Fools are this Friday and Saturday at 8pm. If you don't come and you live in the area you were not really my friend ever and I would like to ask that you stop reading this blog for seriously.

I will be shaving my beard come Sunday, and auctioning off bits of it for charity. I'll post eBay links as soon as they're up.