Category: Movies

Brainiac On Banjo #068: Award-Winning Awards

Brainiac On Banjo #068: Award-Winning Awards

I can’t say I’m a fan of teevee awards shows. Overlooking their propensity for vapidity and fecklessness while acknowledging their complete commitment to style over substance, I agree with those who say that it is truly stupid to pit masterpieces against each other strictly because they were released within the same period of time.

Case in point: the nominees for Best Picture of 1939 – I’m talking the Academy Awards here – were Gone With The Wind, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, The Wizard of Oz, Of Mice and Men, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Wuthering Heights, Ninotchka, Dark Victory and Love Affair. One’s own personal predilections aside, it’s hard to parse out a qualitative analysis of these films in order to determine a clear “best.” At least eight of these movies are among the very best Hollywood has had to offer, and the other two are no slouches.

(For the record, I would have voted for Stagecoach – and then shot myself for passing over Ninotchka and Of Mice and Men.)

However, I do enjoy a fun live teevee show. I enjoy watching the Oscars with my daughter because she keeps me in stitches with her faux-catty commentary. I love watching the Golden Globes because it’s more relaxed, it is largely bereft of stupid song-and-dance routines, it is comparatively un-overproduced… but, mostly, because Ricky Gervais may be the most honest and one of the most fearless comedians to ever walk the red carpet on the way to work. If I’m watching an awards show and the only person I’m cheering on is the host, I’m still having a good time. Gervais did not disappoint. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #068: Award-Winning Awards”

Brainiac On Banjo #067: The Winter of the Year

Brainiac On Banjo #067: The Winter of the Year

Observations at year’s-end. This will be a Trump-free list… unless you count sub-text.

• • • • •

The final two weeks of the year used to be the most boring weeks of each year… and they still are. It’s a pain in the ass to go to the supermarket, let alone buy anything at any other sort of store. Traffic sucks, and often the weather does too (not this year over in my neck of the woods, but your mileage may vary on that).

Whatever broadcast television is out there that I enjoy is not out there at year’s-end. However, there’s so much stuff on my TiVo and through streaming services that this is no longer a big deal. Actually, that’s kind of good news: people recommend streaming stuff to me all the time, and some arouse my curiosity. Others make me somnambulistic.

• • • • •

Speaking of television, I had a bit of a Victor Buono film-fest here a couple months ago, and I had a wonderful time. Evil was never so gentle; wit was rarely so sharp. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #067: The Winter of the Year”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #071: Roman Polanski’s Bad Luck

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #071: Roman Polanski’s Bad Luck

It’s not like I’ve been trying, but this is as close I’ve ever come to feeling sorry for Roman Polanski.

Oh, sure, he had a tough life. He spent part of his youth in a Nazi concentration camp. His wife had been brutally murdered. That sucks, but it does not justify his drugging and fucking a 13-year-old girl in 1977. To be fair, he did not try to establish a causal link between that and his drugging and fucking a 13-year-old girl, but that doesn’t justify his later behavior in the least.

Polanski was charged with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, furnishing a controlled substance to a minor, and committing a lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14. He made a plea bargain with the state of California where they would accept a guilty plea to engaging in one count of unlawful sexual conduct and to that one count alone. Under that agreement and the probation report, he expected to get off without being sent to prison. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #071: Roman Polanski’s Bad Luck”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #055: Hole In Won

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #055: Hole In Won

A while back, I’d admitted to having never seen Top Gun. I was commanded to rectify the situation. I did, and capturing my hot takes on a virgin viewing. I presented said takes here on Pop Culture Squad. My friends? I’ve never seen a bigger reaction to my reactions. I’ve written a few pieces on the ole’ interwebs over the last decade or so I’ve been truly proud of. Pieces that unearthed old friends, made me new friends, or defriended bad friends. Well, none of those pieces apparently came close to the engagement gained over declaring:

I love how Johnny Exposition sets us up about a dozen times throughout the movie. “Welcome, all you Top Gun Fighter Pilots, today is day 4 of your 12 day schooling. It’s clear that Maverick is in second place to Iceman because he’s just too cocky for his own damn good. Today your assignment will be to fly planes again, but this time Maverick needs to be a team player, except when the mission demands he become a cocky cock-sure cock who’d cock up the mission to see us win. America!”

Well, the interwebs demanded I deep dive into the litany of flicks I’ve yet to see, due to my sheltered suburbanite over-protective-Jewish-mom-upbringing. So here goes. My hot takes on Caddyshack. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #055: Hole In Won”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #051: Why Can’t I Care About Disney+?

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #051: Why Can’t I Care About Disney+?

My name is Marc Alan Fishman, and I have a solemn confession: I don’t love Disney. I barely like it, in fact. The House of Mouse has come to own basically over half of all known creative content within my personal wheelhouse — that of the nerdy variety. It seems suspect that my head tells me I should have been coocoo-bananas for the recently launched Disney+ steaming service, yet my heart makes a wet fart noise and I move on.

And trust me, it feels like a rare feat. My social media feeds are nearly choked with baby Yoda (not Yoda)  memes, and genuine gushing goo-goo’ing over all the content on the service. Yet, no matter how many trusted friends stamp The Mandalorian with their recommendation, nor posting about reruns of Darkwing Duck… the excitement bounces off of me much like I assume elation over a new BTS album dropping does to a hipster. And let’s be clear as day kiddos: I ain’t hip. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #051: Why Can’t I Care About Disney+?”

Spotlight on Girl On Film by Cecil Castellucci – A Review and Interview

Spotlight on Girl On Film by Cecil Castellucci – A Review and Interview

Cecil Castellucci is an incredible artist in the true sense of the word. She began her quest to share art with the world by spending her life studying to be a filmmaker. Ultimately, she has thrived and shared stories with the world through many mediums. She has written Young Adult novels, and graphic novels. She has written for DC Comics and is the current writer on Batgirl. She has fronted a couple of punk rock bands, and also written hockey-based operas, to name a few media.

Most recently, she has written a graphic memoir called Girl on Film that is published by Boom! Studios. We acquired an advanced copy of the book that comes out in comic shops on November 12, 2019 and everywhere else the following week. Let me tell you, it is wonderful, and there is a more detailed review below.

We also reached out to Ms. Castellucci, and she graciously agreed to answer a few questions for us. You can find our interview below the book review. It was a great experience from us and we hope you enjoy it too.

Girl On Film
Boom! Studios / Archia
Written by  Cecil Castellucci
Art by Vicky Leta, Melissa Duffy, V. Gagnon & Jon Berg
Colors by Kieran Quigley & Joana Lafuente
Letters by Mike Fiorentino
Cover Art by Caz Westover

Original Solicitation

One thing young Cecil was sure of from the minute she saw Star Wars was that she was going to be some kind of artiste. Probably a filmmaker. Possibly Steven Spielberg. Then, in 1980, the movie Fame came out. Cecil wasn’t allowed to see that movie. It was rated R, and she was ten. But she did watch the television show and would pretend with her friends that she was going to that school. Of course they were playing. She was not. She was destined to be an art school kid.

Continue reading “Spotlight on Girl On Film by Cecil Castellucci – A Review and Interview”

Spotlight Interview with Sandy King, Publisher of Storm King Comics

Spotlight Interview with Sandy King, Publisher of Storm King Comics

Happy Halloween!!!

We are bringing you a special treat on this spookiest of days. Earlier this year, at Keystone Comic Con in Philadelphia, we were able to sit down and talk with Sandy King, the publisher of Storm King Comics.

If you are not familiar with Storm King Comics, you should be. Sandy and her husband John Carpenter are cultivating a wonderful stable of comic titles and stories for fans of horror and science fiction comics.

Recently the fifth edition of Tales for a HalloweeNight anthology was released, and you can probably still find it in your Local Comic Shop. It features stories created by such comic luminaries as Frank Tieri, Steve Niles, Andy Price, Amanda Diebert, Cat Staggs, Gus Vazquez, Bill Sienkiewicz and much more.

This upstart comic company is consistently producing high quality storytelling as evidenced by the recent mini-series Tales of Science Fiction: Surviving Nuclear Attack by Joe Harris and Cat Staggs.

We felt today would be the perfect day to bring you the interview that we did with Sandy King in which we talk about her vision for her company and comics in general. Continue reading “Spotlight Interview with Sandy King, Publisher of Storm King Comics”

Brainiac On Banjo #055: Send In The Clowns? Why So Serious?

Brainiac On Banjo #055: Send In The Clowns? Why So Serious?

I hope you had a great weekend. Mine came down to choosing between going to see Joker, going to see It: Chapter Two, or standing in line at Popeye’s for a chicken sammich.

Instead, I stayed home and wrote this.

I didn’t see It: Chapter Two because: a) I’m not interested; I already know clowns are disgusting and evil, and b) not having seen the first one, I’m afraid I’d feel lost. I didn’t see Joker because I’m a pathetic fanboy who is annoyed that this Joker isn’t THE Joker and, besides, if I want to see mindless violence I’d fly down to Texas and watch people shoot unarmed black boys who have the audacity to testify against a cop who murdered a peaceful civilian in his own apartment. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #055: Send In The Clowns? Why So Serious?”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #049: “Am I a Joke(r) to you?”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #049: “Am I a Joke(r) to you?”

Arthur Fleck has been through some shit, kiddos. And any of it — had it happened to you — might be enough to drive you insane. But if you already suffered from any number of mental disorders, well, it’d be enough to push you into a realm beyond insanity. Poor schmuck Fleck, for those not in-the-know, is the titular protagonist of Todd Phillips’ Joker. While a large part of me wants to dive deep into a nuanced spoiler-filled review of the film, it’s still fresh off its debut. I’d rather pivot to discuss some specific bits of internet-debate over the film instead. So, let me get this out of the way:

Joker is an amazing film. I would feign perhaps only to compare it to Logan; in so much that it’s a film first, and its roots to pulp and paper serve merely to enhance the final product. Remove a detail or two, and frankly neither film should be name-dropped alongside any other movie tepidly denoted as a comic book movie — which itself is becoming shorthand for flicks that are somehow less than, in spite of them largely being truly awesome entertainment. But, as usual for me, I digress. Joker was jaw-dropping. I suggest you catch it. Cool? Cool. Moving on. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #049: “Am I a Joke(r) to you?””

Brainiac On Banjo #054: Masks Don’t Kill. Joker Kills.

Brainiac On Banjo #054: Masks Don’t Kill. Joker Kills.

As we await all the violence and mayhem at this weekend’s debut of Joker, theaters all across this great nation are advertising: “If you’re a dejected, pissed off incel who couldn’t get laid on the night they cure AIDS and you’ve got a gun, we’ve got the movie for you!!!”

There are problems we create, and there are other problems we create by trying to fix them. The law of unintended consequences reigns supreme, but that never stops us from baiting the tiger-of-the-month.

In anticipation of the latest DC movie that has little to do with DC Comics, movie theaters are banning their patrons from arriving in costumes, masks and/or make-up. As we all know, the mere sight of a Batman villain in costume causes Batfans to go batshit and reach for their AK-47s.

Now we see the gigantic and fan-favorite Alamo Drafthouse theater chain going to great lengths to promote how they’ll have “additional” security at their sundry Joker screenings. Yeah, that’ll stop shit just fine. A couple thousand people in a dark theater who are physically incapable of exiting the room in an emergency are going to be saved by a freshman rent-a-cop working for minimum wage. Happens all the time.

Give me a break. These measures are so insipid they don’t even qualify as band-aids. They address neither the problem of gun violence nor the problem of wandering vicious miscreants who are looking for an excuse to blow away the masses. All this so-called solution will do is promote the fact that the theater owners think this movie is so violent they should follow their insurance company’s orders and deploy useless measures that actually promote the anticipation of violence… and that little trick does more to foster evil than it does to prevent it while at the same time making a truckload of money.

Is Joker too violent? For that matter, what is too violent? We survived the genius of Sam Peckinpah, Quentin Tarantino, Walter Hill, Martin Scorsese, and John Ford. Their movies were violent. They keep on grinding out Evil Dead movies and RoboCop remakes. Brian DePalma hasn’t died for anybody’s sins. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #054: Masks Don’t Kill. Joker Kills.”