This Week in Geek (16-22/12/13)


DVDs: Can't keep to a TV schedule, so I'd only watched 3 or 4 episodes of Arrow before losing sight of it. But good buzz built steadily, so I got the Season 1 DVD set and I'm glad I did. I still can't shake the feeling that they're copying Revenge outright (discover father's secrets, go on revenge spree, check off bad guys from list, lives of the idle rich, a secretive matriarch, rehab rich girl falls for blue collar shlub, flashbacks in every episode, and even the way the title is introduced in zoom out), but as a comic book nerd, I'm enjoying all the references to DC Comics' creators and characters, and how the latter are reinvented within Green Arrow mythology. The action scenes are excellent by television standards, and though each episode moves at a good clip, even though the overall arc is on a slow burn, with Olie not yet "Green Arrow", and his origin on the island acting as a parallel show with just as many twists and turns as the A-plot. Oh and if you have misgivings about GA killing (as all DC heroes now must), the characters IN the story do too, and I think this is another part of his "becoming" a superhero that's progressing from a remote point. The acting is a mixed bag, with the Huntress a particular irritation, but overall up to the task. The DVD offers some deleted scenes, outtakes, a fairly standard talking heads making of, a look at the stunts and fights, and a fun Q&A edited for length.

Where the Truth Lies feels to me lie Atom Egoyan is channeling Scorsese. The glitz and glamor, the narration, the decadence... But in shifting narrators, and making some of it less than reliable, Egoyan lets his own style shine through. No one can present secrets on screen like he can. So the film (based on a novel, which accounts for the least "Egoyan" elements) is about a fictional Martin & Lewis-type duo of entertainers (Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon) who meet with a young journalist (Alison Lohman) writing their definitive life story, though they are very cagey about a certain incident with a dead girl in their hotel room back in the 50s. And just to make things more intriguing, said journalist as a secret connection to one of them. The film was hampered by an NC-17 rating in the States for so-called graphic sex scenes, but it's really not that bad (oh you MCAA prudes). If I'm not a huge fan of the film, it's because of the Scrosese-isms/adaptation of the novel. I'm not a big fan of narration in films to begin with. But the way the mysteries, reveals, misleads and truths are built up makes it a solid effort, though perhaps not one to watch several times over. The DVD includes a few deleted scenes and a disappointing making of that just amounts to editing together behind the scenes footage.

Been waiting for Christmas season to watch Scrooged for the first time in decades, and I still remembered most of its jokes. Five years before Groundhog Day, Bill Murray basically plays the same kind of TV jerk transformed by a holiday, but it was a lot darker first time around. The critique of television is, for me, what's funniest. A lavish live performance of A Christmas Carol with the Solid Gold Dancers, mice to attract feline viewers (a growing demographic), and heart-stopping Fox News scare promos sits somewhere in the same space as Network and Max Headroom. Murray is just a little too edgy and unlikable at times, and his transformation is more due to mental breakdown than the appeal to his heart, but this world almost demands it. Those ghosts really do slap him around something fierce, and how could Bill stay sane in the face of that ghost of Christmas future and its rib cage filled with suffering souls? The final scene may, in fact, bring a tear to your eye as the true meaning of Christmas in inevitably invoked.

Someone had warned me away from The Assassins on the basis that it was a lot of talking and very little fighting. How little they know me. The martial arts sequences are actually quite fun, but it's true that's not what the film is about. It's really about Court intrigue, really well done Court intrigue. After the events shown in John Woo's Red Cliff, a powerful general (Chow Yun-Fat) returns home and finds himself under threat of assassination from his enemies, the weak emperor, even possibly his own son. In his inner circle is a young wife, in reality an assassin raised for the sole purpose of killing him. But will she come to respect him, even love him, too much? So the film becomes this intense chess game between the various characters, and only in the end will we understand the depth of some of the games being played. There's also a strong, and just as manipulative, father/son story here, and the movie is shot with style and with an eye for metaphor. Even so, I wouldn't blame some audience members for getting confused at some Chinese traditions we Westerners know nothing about. The DVD includes making of material that looks like they threw various web promos together, but we do get to hear from the actors, see stunt sequences get shot, and so on.

Audio: Part of Big Finish's Lost Stories line, The Foe From the Future is a never-made television script/outline that would originally have been in The Talons of Weng-Chiang's slot. Robert Banks Stewart, the original writer, was put on some other project before it could go very far, and 40 years later, John Dorney has given it a nice polish and turned it into a story worth doing full-cast audio for. Tom Baker reprises his role as the 4th Doctor, and Louise Jameson as Leela, and both are in great form. I love this duo on audio almost more than I did on television, and Dorney gives them as much wit as they had in Holmes' scripts. You can see what elements Robert Holmes kept for his Talons script too. The "Foe from the Future" isn't Magnus Greel, but he's also a human distorted and made ravenous by flawed time travel technology. Though in 6 parts, which can strain one's patience, Foe makes each episode distinct by changing settings (we actually visit the future), introducing different threats and so on. The plot is closer to The Android Invasion, with future humans using an English village as a training camp for their eventual escape from their bleak future. Quasi-companion Charlotte from the Village makes for great comedy relief (all props to Louise Brealey who plays her), the level of action and unseen effects means the story is a better sell on audio, and there's a cool paradox to avert. I'm a big fan.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
IV.vii. Claudius' Seduction - Zeffirelli '90

Your Daily Splash Page this week features a splash from every DC title, alphabetically, from Swamp Thing to Tales of the Teen Titans.


Martin Léger said...

We watched Scrooged yesterday. I hadn't seen it in forever too. Still holds up, the jokes are hit and miss but overall leaves a good impression. Also, Bobcat Goldthwait is so great, he's got this hyper sympathetic aura to him in everything he does.

It's a bit all over the place, but all of the ghosts are really fun. I do find when Bill Murray is alone he tends to phone it in. He's better when bouncing off other people.

The ending gets weirdly meta. It didn't wink to the audience once, then suddenly Bill Murray is quoting lines for movies he's been in and saying its a movie. A bit weird imo.


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