This Week in Geek (26/08-01/09/13)


Whooo! Sapphire & Steel came out in Region 1 DVD this week! Never seen a single frame of it, but grabbed it, because I'm a sucker for Doctor Whoish stuff. Also bought some reasonably-priced indie films from 2012: 2 Days in New York, Liberal Arts, Holy Motors, Bernie, No, and Butter.


Books: Chicks Dig Comics does for comics what Whedonistas and Chicks Dig Time Lords did for other geekly pursuits, but a little better, I think. Perhaps it's the breadth of the subject matter. There are only so many ways a female essayist might have gotten into Doctor Who, so CDTL became a bit redundant after a while. Comics is a medium, not a franchise, and the stories are consequently more varied (although you'd be surprised how many women had a thing for the Dark Phoenix Saga). But whether the writers came into comics with superheroes, indie books or Archies, what I most appreciated was that the collection didn't dwell only on autobiographical "gateway drug" stories and dared to go the Chicks Unravel Time route with strong, insightful analytical essays about the medium, fandom and/or specific books, and not necessarily from a "gender issues" angle. Among the 30 pieces are a few interviews with comics writers known for their portrayal of strong female characters - Gail Simone, Greg Rucka, Terry Moore and Louise Simonson. I hope that #1 on the cover isn't just a piece of comics design. I'd read a second volume.

DVDs: I'm usually better informed, but I watched Julie Delpy's 2 Days in New York without realizing it was a sequel to 2 Days in Paris. It didn't really matter that I hadn't seen the first film. It stands on its own. On the surface, it's a simple story. Delpy's character and her current serious live-in boyfriend played against type by Chris Rock (each one with a kid) get a visit from her crazy French family, including her exhibitionist sister and her douchey boyfriend, and her hilarious father, played by Delpy's own. The comedy is realistically played, and possibly funnier if you understand both languages (which I do) and don't have to read subtitles, while the dysfunctional family humor should play to all cultures. I laughed a lot. Surprisingly and refreshing, race isn't an issue for Delpy's family, so it's more about Rock being invaded by an alien culture and language in his own home, and realizing his girlfriend is one of them. There's also this strange strand in which Delpy's character, a visual artist, sells her soul as part of performance art, which takes the film into deeper, more surreal, even art house places in the last act. While I appreciate it, it seems to belong in a different film altogether. Structurally, that vibe needed to be injected into earlier parts of the film more convincingly, in among the screwball stuff. The DVD has a lot of interviews, both for the release and shot at the Sundance Film Festival. As co-writer, director and star, Delpy gets the lion's share and is always interesting. The short Hollywood featurette is by contrast pretty lame.

I made my thoughts about Doctor Who's Vengeance on Varos known recently (pretty much the one you can show your friends as representative of the era) so let's just talk Special Edition. The sixth Doctor's stories were the first to entirely go to DVD, so this recent Special Edition was 2|entertain's chance to put all sorts of bits and bobs from the Colin Baker days on a DVD. First, you do get everything from the original release, including the production notes option, a commentary track by Colin, Nicola and Nabil Shaban (Sil), a photo gallery, continuity announcements, behind the scenes footage/outtakes, deleted and alternate scenes, an isolate score, and the reverse, an audio option that removes all music and sound effects. The Special Edition adds a 5.1 audio option on both the transmitted program and the isolated score. The new making of  documentary justifies the Special Edition, in my opinion, with Matthew Sweet doing a great job of taking Eric Saward to task on his era's sidelining of the Doctor and excesses of violence (among other things). It goes deeper than the usual anecdotes about filming. There's also a featurette on how Doctor Who has portrayed television ON television, an item on newspaper reactions to the program during the Colin Baker era that gets more touching and personal than these things usually get, and various early Colin Baker appearances on various shows to promote his crowning as the new Doctor. Plus a short news item on the hiatus' announcement and a never-aired comedy sketch played on the set of Trial of a Time Lord (the Silurians are pretty funny). A much better package than the original, though not focused on Varos alone.

Jim "Black Belt Jones" Kelly died this July, so in August, I programmed one of his film, Three the Hard Way, for a Kung Fu Friday. We like a bit of blaxploitation sometimes. Three the Hard Way isn't Kelly's film, the protagonist is really Jim Brown playing Quincy Jones as an action star, but I think he's probably the coolest of the three cats trying to save the black race from whitey's genocide-causing chemical dumped in the water supply of three American cities (a plot borrowed and parodied for Black Dynamite) with his gold leather suit and dislike of guns. The third is playa mercenary Fred Williamson, and together or separately (in each city, the movie moves around A LOT), and sometimes with the help of color-coded S&M biker chicks, they kick ass and get to the root of the problem. It's not a superbly edited film, though it tries to be artistic at times, and there's a lot of padding as the heroes go on dates, travel or record music on their spare time, but the best blaxploitation flicks don't take themselves very seriously and even the cheapness (which doesn't extend to the locations or explosions) doesn't get in the way of the entertainment, only adds to it.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
IV.v. Laertes' Return - Zeffirelli '90

Your Daily Splash Page this week features a splash from every DC title, alphabetically, from Ragman to Resurrection Man.



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