Monday, January 21, 2019

Oscar Nomination Predictions

Hey gang! It's that time of year again. The Oscar Nominations are due to be announced in the wee hours of tomorrow morning. So, here are my predictions for said nominations. Here we go!

BEST PICTURE

1. A Star is Born
2. Green Book
3. Roma
4. The Favourite
5. BlacKkKlansman
6. If Beale Street Could Talk
7. Vice
8. Black Panther
9. Bohemian Rhapsody
10. First Man

Possible Spoilers: Mary Poppins Returns or A Quiet Place

Wishful Thinking: Eighth Grade or Wildlife or Annihilation

I think the first seven are sure things, with the top three vying for the actual Oscar in February. Numbers eight and nine are solid choices as well, with my tenth choice the only questionable. Then again, we tend to get nine nominations every year (there can be anything between 5 and 10), so maybe that won't even come into play. As for my spoiler choices, the chances are slim that either one would sneak in, unless we do get ten. 

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Alfonso Cauron for Roma
2. Bradley Cooper for A Star is Born
3. Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman
4. Adam McKay for Vice
5. Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite

Possible Spoilers: Barry Jenkins (Beale Street) or Peter Farrelly (Green Book)

Wishful Thinking: Ryan Coogler for Black Panther

The Oscar is a battle between Cuaron and Cooper...with Cuaron most likely coming out the winner (his victory would be the fifth Mexican director win in the last six years). Along with them, I believe Spike Lee is a shoo-in as well...tho he has ruffled enough feathers in the biz, to make him not so much a shoo-in. As for the other two spots, that is pretty much a battle between four men (no women of course) with any of them possibly getting a nod tomorrow morning. Alas, the late Orson Welles is not eligible for his finally finished, nearly fifty years in the making/waiting, film, The Other Side of the Wind.

BEST ACTRESS

1. Glenn Close in The Wife
2. Lady Gaga in A Star is Born
3. Olivia Colman in The Favourite
4. Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?
5. Yalitza Aparicio in Roma

Possible Spoiler: Emily Blunt in Mary Poppins Returns

Wishful Thinking: Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade) or Carey Mulligan (Wildlife)

At one time or another, Close, Gaga, and Colman have been seen as frontrunners...with Close taking that spot after her Globes victory. All three are shoo-ins for nominations tomorrow morning, as is McCarthy. That fifth spot is a bit tougher. No one really knows who Aparicio is, but I still think she will grab a (semi)surprise nomination tomorrow. Still though, Emily Blunt's Mary Poppins could sneak in that fifth spot. And speaking of sneaking in...I would love to hear thirteen year old Elsie Fisher's name being called in the morning. Or maybe Carey Mulligan in one of the best performances of the year. Any way you look at it, with all these great performances in this category this year...someone deserving is getting snubbed.

BEST ACTOR

1. Christian Bale in Vice
2. Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody
3. Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born
4. Viggo Mortensen in Green Book
5. John David Washington in BlacKkKlansman

Possible Spoiler: Ethan Hawke in First Reformed

Wishful Thinking: Matt Dillon in The House That Jack Built

Bale, Malek, Cooper, & Mortensen are getting nominated tomorrow. No doubts. That damn fifth spot though. I think Washjngton and Hawke are pretty much at a 50/50 race for that spot. I could have switched them up and had no qualms. It could really go either way. I suppose First Man's Ryan Gosling could sneak in there instead. Doubtful though. Matt Dillon though, playing a serial killer in a Lars von Trier film...probably not...even if I do think it is a better performance than any of the probable nominees, save for Hawke's brilliant turn in First Reformed...which is probably the finest performance of the year.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

1. Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk
2. Amy Adams in Vice
3. Rachel Weisz in The Favourite
4. Emma Stone in The Favourite
5. Claire Foy in First Man

Possible Spoiler: Nicole Kidman in Boy Erased

Wishful Thinking: Natalie Portman in Vox Lux

Regina King is winning the Oscar. She seems to be the only true sure thing at this point. Adams, Weisz, & Stone will have to settle for "just" a nomination. Then we have that fifth spot again. It is between Foy and Kidman, with Foy having the slight edge at the moment. It would be great to see Portman sneak 8n, but very doubtful.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

1. Mahershala Ali in Green Book
2. Sam Elliott in A Star is Born
3. Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me?
4. Timothy Chalamet in Beautiful Boy
5. Adam Driver in BlacKkKlansman

Possible Spoiler: Sam Rockwell (Vice) or Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther)

Wishful Thinking: Steve Buscemi in Death of Stalin

Ali, Elliott, Grant, & Chalamet are pretty solid sure things. The Oscar itself will probably go to Ali (just two years after his win for Moonlight), though Elliott or Grant could win on the idea they have never won in long careers. Of course that leaves us with that damn fifth spot question again. Driver and Rockwell are the two battling it out for that aforementioned damn spot. And, if Black Panther hits big, Jordan could grab that spot instead.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

1. Roma
2. The Favourite
3. Green Book
4. Vice
5. Eighth Grade

Possible Spoiler: First Reformed or Cold War or The Ballad of Buster Scruggs or  Isle of Dogs or Sorry to Bother You

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

1. BlacKkKlansman
2. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
3. If Beale Street Could Talk
4. A Star is Born
5. Death of Stalin

Possible Spoiler: Leave No Trace or Crazy Rich Asians or Black Panther or First Man or Wildlife

There ya go! Let's just leave the other categories up to fate and pretend I predicted them all correctly. Huzzah! I'll be back tomorrow with a summary of all the nominations...and letchya all know how well I did with my predictions.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.








Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Mad King (a poem by Kevyn Knox)

Knock knock!
Who's there?

The past!     Back again!

Days of black face and minstrel shows
Of separate water fountains and lunch counters 
Of separate schools and separate rules

Days of mammies and little black sambos
Of riding in the backs of busses
As if Rosa Parks never sat her ground

Days of mockingbirds and buffalo soldiers
Of Strom Thurmond switching sides
And Ella not given a seat at the Apollo

Days of Jim Crow and Steppinfetchit
Of a white washed silver screen, both big and small
And Walt Disney's own blatant black crows

Days of Brown vs. the Board of Education
Of miseducation, of misdirection
Of little Ruby Bridges, just making her way to school

Days of being spat upon for wanting to learn
Of a governor telling you to go back to Africa
Even if you were only from Tylertown Mississippi

Days of separate but never ever equal
Of no peers on television or in adverts
Hollywood and Madison Avenue, white on white

Days of the lynchin' tree in every small town
And police brutality at each potential traffic stop
Almost as if it were still today, oh how we have grown

Days of old cowboy stars calling us snowflakes
For not taking to their coy racism, their ugly racism
Their ugly taking back of their perceived loss of privilege

Days of Watts and Harlem and cotton eyed joe
Of name calling children and first ladies on the web
As if Barack Obama hadn't ever given us hope


Knock knock!
Who's there?

Oh those were the days!

Back when girls were girls and men were men
When a woman knew her place and her mouth
When a girl knew better than to speak out, speak up

Back when a gentleman held a door for a lady
but still slapped her on the ass as she went through
Leered and sneered and catcalled too

Back when she knew how to fry it up in a pan
and still never ever let you forget you were a man
A number one, top of the heap, king of the hill

Those were the days of wine and rose gardens
Of hen parties and Tupperware nightmares
Of white picket fences to keep you in your place

Before Billie Jean beat up the man
Before Steinem made you burn your bras
Before Kamala Khan was  a superhero

Before equal pay for equal work
Before Elizabeth Warren & Alexandria Ocasio
Before Rey ever held her lightsaber

Back before you could be everything you wanted to be
When privilege ruled the roost, cocked the cock
And clothes hanger alleys were the final solution

The female body being controlled by congress
The womanly thoughts being controlled by man
Almost as if it were still today, oh how we have grown

Those were the days of Don Draper and Richard Nixon
Of Marilyn naked and dead behind locked doors
Of arranged marriages and forced relations

Oh those were the days when a cock beat a cunt any day
Those were the days when Herbert Hoover was a rockin'
And gee, our old La Salle ran great


Knock knock!
Who's there?

The gay old days of yesterday!

When boys were boys and men liked men
When a kiss was so continental, but aghast
To the straight establishment and moral code

Those pre-Stonewall days of beatings and bullies
Of back alley trysts and secret rendezvous
Of the love that shall never speak its name

When the Cary Grants and Claudette Colberts
The Jimmy Deans and the Joan Crawfords
Had to hide their lavender loves away

When Adam and Steve, and Carol and Eve
Had to hide their so-called shame away
The subjects of those taboo pulp fictions

The gay old days of underground burlesque 
And being a stat in the latest edition of the DSM
A mental disorder instead of the love or lust that it was

When a disease, a plague from a sadistic god
From a made-up deity, ravished the community
and all the president said was nothing at all

When Matthew Shepard was strung up
Beaten and left to die, the norm of the day
When a beating was the best a boy could hope for

When a bakery would not bake a cake
Or a drugstore would not take your takes
Almost as if it were still today, oh how we have grown

When a marriage was between a man and a woman
And a bathroom was designated to your genitalia of birth
And gender roles were mercilessly defined

When pronouns were unheard of, not worried about
And the LGBTQIA was just a random series of letters
An unprotected series of letters, by any law of the land


Knock knock!
Who's there?

Yesterday!   Today!

Build a wall! They chanted at rallies
Not like Reagan tearing one down
But build a wall and keep them out

Mexico will pay to keep Mexicans out
The taxpayers will pay for their mistake
The mistake of 62,984,825 voters

As we slay slay slay the brown man from our shores
100, 200, 300, a thousand hate crimes in his name
Murder, maim, and kill in the Mad King's name

Those with voices unlike ours, names unlike ours
Those with skin and hair and clothes unlike ours 
Those with gods and goddesses unlike the land of Oz

Like the internment camps of World War II
Like the Jewish ghettos of yesteryear
Like the no Irish, no Italian need apply

Xenophobia running rampant in trailer parks
Islamophobia keeping heel on Park Avenue
A nationwide hatred for the Muslim, for the Mexican

Rallying boy scouts like the Hitler youth
Demonizing the undocumented human being
No human being is illegal, no human being is a lie

A yesterday of a fear of the foreign hordes
Agents swooping up families in the dark of night
Almost as if it were still today, oh how we have grown

Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses
Yearning to breathe free, but given no quarter
Given no warm place in the manger even

With not so silent lips, Amerikkka, great again
Shuns shuns shuns this wretched refuse
Build a wall, ban a people, there is no hope here


Knock knock!
Who's there?

Pence and Putin and The Donald, oh my!

The day has come, the piper has piped
The divide has widened in Amerikkka
And yesterday is not gone, but making a comeback

Science is being called out by skeptics
As if this is the Dark Ages, the pre-enlightenment
The Earth is flat once again, even if it is obviously not

Dinosaurs never existed and we never landed on the Moon
A religious fervor has taken this nation
And all logical debate is gone with the winds of war

Come down here with us #45 tells us, tweets us
We all float down here they say, and they pray
And then conspire to take our healthcare away

Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and their GOP
The Cryptkeeper Conway and Heil Hitler Steve
Worse and worse everyday, and some don't even see

Families torn asunder, Mothers watching Fox News
Tales of woe and Tweets of madness
When will this national nightmare be over!?


Knock knock!
Who's there?

Yeah, this joke just isn't funny anymore

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Zap Comix no. 1 and the Problem with Robert Crumb

I have always been a comic book fan. Well almost always. At least ever since picking up a copy of X-Men #98 at a grocery store with my mom  back in 1976, when i was but a nine year old lad who's only comic book knowledge prior had been Disney & Looney Tunes funny books. Since that fateful day, i have been, what one might call, a comic book kinda guy. 

Since then, my tastes have gone hither and fro all across the sequential art spectrum. From superhero comics (a subset of being what one might call a comic book guy, i have mostly been what one might also call, a Marvel kinda guy) to the indie comics of Daniel Clowes and Chris Ware to the genre comics of Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman to the highfalutin artsy graphic novels of Art Spiegelman and Will Eisner to those counter-cultural underground comix...and yes, when one is speaking of the underground variety, that is comix with an X...that all began with Zap Comix no. 1 back in 1968, at the height of the whole counter-culture shebang that was that era, and it's controversial creator, Robert Crumb.

Arguably, one can say that Zap Comix no. 1 was to underground comix what Action Comics no. 1 was to the superhero genre. Yes, there were comic books that one could lump in with the underground movement made before Zap's 1968 debut, just as there were superhero comics before Action Comics #1 came out, but these are the vanguards of their respective genre and/or movement, and therefore comparable.  And if that is so, then the first appearance of Mr. Natural in Zap #1, a character who would become an iconic symbol of the Anti-war movement of the late 1960's and early 1970's, adorning pins and patches and comix book pages, can be akin to Superman's debut in Action #1 waaay back in 1938. Granted, it is on a much smaller scale, as is probably the case with anything saddled with the moniker of underground (a big budget Hollywood Mr. Natural is probably not coming to a theatre near you anytime soon) but it is still a solid connection. 

And, going a bit further, if Zap #1 is a subculture Action #1, and Mr. Natural is a snarky nouveau Superman,  then it would only lead to the obvious conclusion that Mr. Natural's creator, Robert Crumb is the underground equivalent of Superman's creative team of Joe Shuster & Jerry Siegel. But, as Shuster & Siegel were cheated out of their creation, their royalties, and their legendary status, as has sadly been the status quo in the comics industry (just read what Jack Kirby has said of Stan Lee) and are pretty much unknown these days (it is sad and strange how so few people can name the creators of one of the most iconic characters in pop culture history) Crumb, though far from a household name himself, still has a legendary status among cartoonists all over the globe, and is considered an inspiration to almost every damn one of them. But, when considering Robert Crumb as the human being he seems to be, perhaps he too should be lost to the myriad annals of history.

Let me preface my immanent bashing of a cultural icon by saying this: Robert Crumb is a talented artist. Of this i have no doubts. His thick lined drawing style was the perfect way to display the counter-culture ideals of the time period. When Crumb first unleashed his unique style on the comic book world in the mid 1960's (the X-rated Fritz the Cat being the most prominent) and then helped to create what became the underground comix movement with Zap, it was a style that changed the world of cartooning and comic booking, and has influenced so many contemporary and future cartoonists, your not-so-humble narrator included. 

The thing was, and still is, Robert Crumb is kind of a monster. If one were to open the aforementioned Zap #1, one would quickly find, by page 3 even, thick lined drawings of African American characters as thick lipped minstrel show rejects and foul-mouthed hoodlums. Meanwhile, the N-word is used several times, including in a last page mock ad selling canned n****r hearts. Yeah, that's right. Even waaay back in the unkempt days of 1938, Superman wasn't selling canned n****r hearts to his readers.

Now one could say this was just satire...but no, it was not, or at least not good satire...or even coherent satire. This was just plain and simple ignorance. The thing is that Crumb was called out on his racist portrayals back in the day, but this was a diffrrent time, a different age, an age where such things would not necessarily ruin a person's career. So, Crumb went on to influence several generations of comic book wannabes. Granted, Crumb would do a lot of great comix throughout his career. Throughout the years, most people have known Crumb through Fritz the Cat or Mr. Natural (who wouldn't love Mr. Natural) or his famed Keep on Truckin' slogan, all of which may be offensive to the more puritanical masses out there, but none of which was inherently racist.

Then came the 1994 documentary that showed Crumb as the quirky cartoonist, and an almost cult hero. The comic book godfather to the hipsters of today. Crumb's more racy...er, racist material downplayed in favour of his more so-called friendly work. But eventually more and more stories have come out about not just his racism, but his misogyny as well. Tales of unrepentant sexual assaults would come from his lips. Even while he was badmouthing Trump during the 2016 elections (he's a racist asshole, but a left leaning one) he still managed to seemingly praise the wouldbe president's sexual proclivities. 

So now we have a cultural icon, and one of the most influential cartoonists this side of Jack Kirby and Will Eisner, who is racist and sexist and a probable sexual predator (many of his more sexualized comix portray sexual assault btw)...and let's face it, a monster. Sure, one can always seperate the art from the artist (Birth of a Nation was a cinematic masterpiece, but still blatantly racist as hell) but it is a hard thing to do when that artist puts so much of themselves into their art. 

To be fair to Zap Comix, the series, which ran sporadically for the next four decades, would have many other talented artists come aboard, like Spain Rodriguez and S. Clay Wilson, artists with less neanderthalesque ideas. It influenced many cartoonists and comic book creators, everyone from Bill Griffith's Zippy the Pinhead to the Love and Rockets comic book series from the Hernandez Brothers. It should not be held accountable for Crumb's own disgusting mindset.

As a cartoonist myself (along with my writings and canvas coverings & sculptings, i can also call my self a comic book creator these days) Crumb has influenced my own pen & ink art. So much so that i have contemplated calling my upcoming comix series "Crummy Comix"...something i might still do as my own form of ironic satire. The point is that Crumb, despite his repulsive ideas, has been a big influence on my own cartooning. Granted, my favourite comic book  creator is Daniel Clowes (he's who i really have an affinity for and with) but there is no denying the influence of Crumb...at least on the style of my drawing, if not my content. With all that in mind, i recently purchased a copy of Zap Comix no. 1 on e-bay...and at a surprisingly affordable price. I am glad i now own this rare piece of underground comix history, i just wish it hadn't been created by such a piece of garbage.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.


Saturday, March 3, 2018

My Final Oscar Predictions

So here we go kids! Time for my annual attempt at predicting the Academy Awards. My goal this time around, as it is every other time, is to finally break that 20 barrier. For those who do not know, there are 24 categories in which to predict. My record, which I have accomplished on multiple occasions, is 19. Here's to hopin' for that 20th correct prediction. But enough rambling. Let's get on with the show.

Best Picture
Will Win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Could Win: The Shape of Water
Surprise Win: Get Out (which I am rooting for)
Should Win: Call Me By Your Name, though Phantom Thread and Get Out are close runners up

For the first time in years, there is no true frontrunner here. This is actually a three or even a four way race. Will it be The Shape or Water, even with the plagiarism accusations? Will it be Three Billboards, even without a Best Director nod? Could Get Out pull off what Moonlight did last year? Could Dunkirk, the proposed frontrunner when it was first released, pull off an upset? Hell, even Lady Bird could shock us. But, as you have already read above, I am going with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, even if it failed to get a director nod, which Ben Affleck's Argo victory a few years back proved could happen. If THe Shape of Water does pull it off though, it will do it without a SAG nomination, something no Oscar winner has missed out on since Braveheart waaay back in 1995, the first year of the SAG Awards. So either way, it will be an oddity. But I am still kinda rooting for a Get Out victory.

Best Director
Will Win: Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water
Could Win: Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird
Should Win: Paul Thomas Anderson for Phantom Thread

Even if The Shape of Water doesn't pull off a win in Best Picture (and that is still kinda up in the air in my mind), del Toro will still most likely take home the director award, although a surprise win for Gerwig could happen....maybe.

Best Actress
Will Win: Frances McDormand in Three Billboards
Could Win: Ronan or Hawkins, but very doubtful
Should Win: McDormand or Hawkins

Let's face facts...Frances McDormand is winning her second Oscar! 'nuff said!

Best Actor
Will Win: Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour
Could Win: Timothy Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name
Should Win: Timothy Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name

Oldman is yet another shoo-in. A veteran actor who has never won, playing a real life icon? Yeah, this is finally Oldman's time to shine on the Oscar stage. But, just in case there is an upset, Timothy Chalamet could become the youngest Best Actor winner in Oscar history. Quite unlikely though.

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Allison Janney in I, Tonya
Could Win: Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird
Should Win: Lesley Manville in Phantom Thread

Although Janney has taken precursor after precursor, and has that flashy over-the-top role that Oscar tends to fall in love with, if there is a surprise in any of the acting categories, it could be Laurie Metcalf pulling out a victory here. Perhaps as a way to reward Lady Bird in some way. I'm still sticking with Janney though.

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards
Could Win: Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project
Should Win: Richard Jenkins in The Shape of Water

Although Dafoe looked like a shoo-in early on in this awards season, Rockwell has come on way too strong to think anyone but he will win. And it would be nice to see such an underrated actor win an Oscar. Still though, Jenkins stole every scene in The Shape of Water.

Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: Get Out
Could Win: Lady Bird
Should Win: Get Out

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: Call Me By Your Name
Could Win: Mudbound
Should Win: Call Me By Your Name

Best Foreign Language Film
Will Win: A Fantastic Woman
Could Win: The Square
Should Win: The Square

Best Animated Feature
Will Win: Coco
Could Win: Coco
Should Win: Loving Vincent

Best Documentary Feature
Will Win: Faces Places
Could Win: Icarus
Should Win: Faces Places

Best Cinematography
Will Win: Blade Runner 2049
Could Win: The Shape of Water or Dunkirk
Should Win: Blade Runner 2049

Best Production Design
Will Win: The Shape of Water
Could Win: Dunkirk
Should Win: The Shape of Water

Best Film Editing
Will Win: Dunkirk
Could Win: Baby Driver
Should Win: Dunkirk...or Baby Driver

Best Costume Design
Will Win: Phantom Thread
Could Win: The Shape of Water
Should Win: Phantom Thread

Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Will Win: Darkest Hour
Could Win: Darkest Hour
Should Win: Darkest Hour

Best Original Score
Will Win: The Shape of Water
Could Win: Phantom Thread
Should Win: Phantom Thread

Best Original Song
Will Win: Remember Me from Coco
Could Win: This is Me from The Greatest Showman
Should Win: The Mystery of Love from Call Me By Your Name

Best Sound Mixing
Will Win: (out on a limb) Baby Driver
Could Win: Dunkirk

Best Sound Editing
Will Win: Dunkirk
Could Win: Baby Driver

Best Visual Effects
Will Win: War for the Planet of the Apes
Could Win: Blade Runner 2049

Best Animated Short
Will Win: Dear Basketball
Could Win: Garden Party or Lou

Best Live Action Short
Will Win: DeKalb Elementary
Could Win: DeKalb Elementary (It's a film about a school shooting)

Best Documentary Short
Will Win: Edith + Eddie
Could Win: Heroin(e)

There ya have it. Three Oscars for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, including Best Picture...maybe. I'll be back on Monday, with a round up of the show, and to let ya'll know just how well I did in my predictions. At least 20, baby! That's it gang. See ya 'round the web. Now the Oscars, if ending the way I am predicting, will have to answer to this guy....



Wednesday, February 21, 2018

My Favourite Films of 2017

Hey Gang O' Mine, here we finally are at my annual best of cinema list...or, at least my favourite films of the past year. I know, I am a touch later than my normal first week of the new year posting of said list, but alas, I have been busy as of late, and...oh, who cares...let's just get on with the damn list. Anyhoo, awaaaay we go....

1. Mother! - The most divisive film of the year, is also, in my not-so-humble opinion, the best damn film since 2011's Masterful Tree of Life! A film I would qualify as a masterpiece...and that is a word I never use lightly. Darren Aronofsky has woven together a biblical allegory like no one has ever seen. Even more batshitcrazy than the auteur's Black Swan or Requiem for a Dream (though the latter is still one of the most gorgeously disturbing films this critic has ever seen), Mother! is an enigma of a film that many moviegoers, and many of today's critics, will just not get. Too bad for them!

2. Call Me By Your Name - Directed by Italian auteur Luca Guadagnino, and based on a novel by Andre Aciman, Call Me By Your Name, with it's deliberate pace and naturally lit scenes, hearkens back to the arthouse cinema of the 1950's and 1960's. Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer give two of the finest performances of the year, which only adds to the sensational magic with which this love story engulfs its audience.

3. Phantom Thread - Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis! Together again! How could this combination not lead to such a beautiful work of art as Phantom Thread? A story of obsession and how far someone might go just to feel alive, this film manages to be simultaneously sinister and heartfelt. Mesmerizing in full. But alas, this also seems to be the swan song of the great DDL.

4. Get Out - Taking the sad reality of what it is like to be a person of color in racist modern day America, and placing it smack dab in the center of a classic slasher film frame, Jordan Peele has created a unique blend of comedy, horror, and social commentary, using the tricks and tropes of each genre, and flipping them all on their respective heads.

5. The Shape of Water - A succulent film full of gorgeous cinematography and luscious production design, and with brilliant turns from Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, and Michael Shannon, Guillermo del Toro has fashioned an homage to classic cinema and a love story for the ages. 

6. A Ghost Story - This low key (and one might say low brow in certain aspects) supernatural love story is the second film bringing together director David Lowrey and leads Casey Affleck & Rooney Mara, and is a tragic tale that takes the idea of losing a loved one, and twists it around to a whole nother realm of existence. 

7. The Killing of a Sacred Deer - Yet another brilliantly disturbing film from auteur of the absurd, Yorgos Lanthimos. Following last year's The Lobster (the best film of 2016), The Killing of a Sacred Deer, starring Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman, and based on the Euripides play, Iphigenia in Aulis, is absurdist tragedy in the vein of Bunuel.

8. Personal Shopper - I never thought I would say this, but Kristen Stewart gives one of the best performances of the year. Yeah, that's right! Channeling Jodie Foster in many ways, Stewart takes Olivier Assayas' psychological thriller to a strange new level of organic psychosexual terror.

9. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - Playing like a rural take on a Tarantino theme, this film of revenge and small town politics (as well as racial and gender relations in America), highlighted by a stunning central performance by Frances McDormand, is as refreshing as it is frustrating. 

10. The Beguiled - Sofia Coppola has taken the very masculine 1971 Don Siegel-Clint Eastwood film and recreated it from the female point of view so missing in the former film. And she does it with her usual quiet grace and beguiling arthouse manner.

Special Mention: Twin Peaks: The Return - Yeah yeah, I know, this was a TV show, but it was so much more than that! With this return to his 1990 TV series, David Lynch has put together the most disturbingly brilliant work of his career, with the possible exception of Muholland Dr.. So yeah, I'm putting it on my best films list. Take that!

Runners-Up (in no particular order): Lady Bird; Logan; Okja; Wonder Woman; I, Tonya; Blade Runner 2049.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

People Who Need to be Punched in the Face, Part Eleven

So, hey there faithful readers and true believers! I'm back! Yeah, after waaaay too long (my last post was nearly three months ago) and just a dry writing/blogging spell in general (this is just my tenth post of 2017), this boy is back on fire. And to get things kickin' again, what better way than making a list of people whom should be punched in the face. That's right! Let's punch a buncha people in the face! Oh, and for "insurance" reasons, please take note that I am not saying you should necessarily go out and punch any of the people on this list, just that certain people may need a good face punching now and again. And if you do go out and face punch any of the people on said list, please make sure the women are punched only by other women. I mean, come on, I am still a gentleman after all. But hey, do what ya'll want. Anyhoo, here's that aforementioned list everyone was all giddy about earlier.

Donald Drumpf, aka that Cheeto-Face Shit Gibbon
Anyone who voted for said Shit Gibbon
(the above were way too obvious)
...and now on with the list...
Lena Dunham
Tommy Hilfiger
Lex Luthor
The NFL
Ted Cruz
Betsy Devos
Seth MacFarlane
Pennywise the Clown
Guys named Buster
Rob Liefeld
Tim Allen
Tim Allen Fans
Negan
Pattymac
Brann Stark
Lena Dunham
Pumpkin Spice Lovers
Right Wing Bloggers
People who still watch MTV
The Ghost of Johnny Paycheck
Everyone in those J.G. Wentworth Commercials
People who prefer August to October
Richard Spencer (again)
Susan Sarandon
Cersei Lannister
Coldplay Fans
Coldplay
James Woods
Those Skynet Bastards
The Ghost of Thomas Kinkade
People who laugh at Everybody Loves Raymond
Carl Burnett (I never did like that kid)
The Boston Red Sox
Vince Vaughn
Tom Selleck
Dennis Miller
Janine Turner
Scott Baio
Kevin Sorbo
Meg Griffin
Lena Dunham
That Brad Douche
Waffle House Regulars
Garrett Linebaugh
Tom Brady (of course)
Butterhead Jones
Baron Zemo
The Drake
Sauron
Danzig
The Dutch
The Little Mermaid
Chicken Little
Rich Little
Little Richard
Natty Bumpo
Dr. Frank Burns
Little Bitches
Dog Haters
Flat Earthers
Lucy Van Pelt
That Bastard Aaron Kraybill
(Just seeing if you're paying attention Kraybill)
Whoever was responsible for downgrading Pluto
The "All Lives Matter" Crowd
People who make stoopid lists
People who read stoopid lists
People who spell stupid, stoopid
Bigfoot Non-Believers
Seven O'Clock
Itchy AND Scratchy
Lazy Muthahfuckers
No, seriously, Aaron Kraybill
People who don't like sandwiches
Mamby Pambies & Wishy Washies
Q (you know...that guy from Star Trek)
Dennis Dunphy, aka Demolition Man
Milton the Toaster
Minnie the Moocher
Mickey the Mouse
Most White People
The Pepsi Generation
Ugly Kid Joe
Billy Joel
Centrists
Mel Sharples
Lena Dunham
and
(as always)
Nazis!

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The 10 Coolest Famous People w/ First Names that are the Same as the Last Names of the US Presidents

Yeah, that's right! It's a convoluted title, but I'm sure ya'll get the idea. Famous people whose first names are the same as the last names of some of our esteemed (and some not so esteemed) former US Presidents. I say former, because there are not many famous people with the first name of Trump (thankfully for them). For that matter, one could probably exclude such Presidents as Eisenhower, McKinley, Van Buren, or Obama, as well. I suppose Adams is out due to that last letter. But what about all those Washingtons, Jeffersons, Roosevelts, and Jacksons out there? Yeah, they may just make the list. And sorry Taylor Swift, but you just aren't cool enough to make the list. Same goes for you Jefferson D'Arcy. All the Married With Children fans in the audience know of whom I speak. And sorry, but there is no love for you, Arthur Treacher. A fine actor indeed, and I loved your namesake fish & chips, but you too, are a no go. And alas, poor Jefferson Airplane, I knew them, Horatio, but they are a band, and not a person, so away with them. But enough of these no shows, howzabout we get to the ten who did make the list. Oh, and with one special mention as well.

And awaaaaaaay we go...

Special Mention: Carter Liotta

Now since this list is (conveniently) meant to look at the famous names of the title, I will relegate my good friend to the special mention slot. Carter Liotta, probably not named after Jimmy Carter, is a doctor, pilot, filmmaker, world traveler, and self-proclaimed man of leisure. Is there anything this guy can't do? Well, hold his liquor, I suppose is one thing (which may be able to be seen in the above pic), but let's not dwell on the so-called negative. Carter Liotta may not have been named after our 39th POTUS (though he may still enjoy some peanuts now and then), but his first name gets him a very special mention here.

10. Ford Prefect
When the world is destroyed, to put in an intergalactic bypass in its place no less, you could not have a better BFF than Ford Prefect. At least for Arthur Dent, the one human Ford saves before the aforementioned demolition. An alien journalist (a native Betelgeusian, to be more precise on his alien origins) and field researcher for the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Ford's actual given name is only pronounceable in an obscure Betelgeusian dialect, but for the purpose of our little ole list here, we are going with his adopted Earth name, which incidentally was created well before Gerry Ford ascended to the presidential throne. Above are two of his filmic portrayals. And please remember, always bring your towel.

9. Washington Irving
Possibly named after our first president (he was born at a time when George Washington, though not yet president, was a national hero), Washington Irving came to international fame with the 1819-1820 serial, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.. You haven't heard of it? Really? Well, two of the stories from this collection are Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Oh, now you know of what I speak. Irving also wrote a multi-volume biography on his possible namesake. So yeah, Washington wrote about Washington.

8. Pierce Hawthorne
Technically, Chevy Chase's Community character's first name is Pierceinald (that's right, bitches), but to keep the illusion going here, we are going by his nickname of Pierce. Granted, this one is named after one of the more obscure presidents (Franklin Pierce was our 14th Commander-in-Chief, for those lacking in American history knowledge), but he is a character on one of my favourite shows of recent times, so obscure reference or not (and Community likes the obscure references), real first name or not, Pierce Hawthorne, late heir to the Hawthorne moist towelette fortune, is right here at numero ocho!

7. Wilson Pickett

In the Midnight Hour. Land of 1,000 Dances. Mustang 'Freakin'' Sally. These are just a few of the songs that Wilson Pickett made famous back in the day. Wilson Pickett is a legend of music history. Born and raised in Detroit (as so many music legends have been) Pickett was a member of the famed Stax Records crew, back in the mid 1960's, and is now a member (and rightfully so!!) of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Granted, Pickett probably wasn't named after Woodrow Wilson, but they were both integral in helping to change and modernize their chosen professions.

6. Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier

 Rosey (and yes, his real first name is Roosevelt, the last name of not one, but two presidents) is probably best known for his NFL career. A New York Giant for a while, before becoming one of the LA Rams "Fearsome Foursome," Grier retired from pro ball in 1966. Rosey would later write several books' including Rosey Grier's Needlepoint for Men. Yeah, I wouldn't mock the guy for it, either. Nowadays he is a Christian minister, helping inner city youth. What a lot of people probably do not know, is his hand in the world of a wouldbe president. As a bodyguard, Rosey could not stop the assassination of Bobby Kennedy (who would have become president over Nixon!) but he did manage to subdue the assassin. You go Roosevelt. Oh, and when you get the chance, check out the 1972 film, The Thing With Two Heads. You will not be disappointed. Well, you might be disappointed, but you'll still have a good time at it.

5. Truman Capote

A famously eccentric author, Truman Capote (not named after Harry S. Truman, our 33rd president) was known later in life as an amusing talking head, and prolific talk show celebrity (he often told elaborate stories of his past celebrity encounters, such as his friendship with Garbo and a sexual dalliance with Errol Flynn, that were just not true), but back in the day, he wrote some pretty great books too. His most famous is Breakfast at Tiffany's. Granted, Hollywood vastly altered the book for their movie version (in early 1960's America, Hollywood wasn't ready to make a big mainstream film about a gay man and his fag hag) and Capote hate hate hated the adaptation. He was also pretty well known for his true crime book, In Cold Blood, as well as being the model for Harper Lee's character, Dill, in her To Kill A Mockingbird. Lee and Capote were friends their entire lives, and she even aided him on the research for In Cold Blood.

4. Grant Morrison

 One of only two non-Americans on this (kinda) American list (especially funny, since his name is that of US Grant), the Scottish born Grant Morrison, was a member of the so-called British invasion in the comic book industry back in the 1980's. Morrison, who always puts a more philosophical bent on his superhero tales, has written everyone from Batman to The Doom Patrol, from Animal Man to the JLA, from The Fantastic Four to the New X-Men. And he didn't just write these characters, he gave them all new life, and is often thought of as the quintessential writer of several of these characters (Animal Man and Doom Patrol, especially). He also wrote, along with artist Frank Quitely (whose artistic interpretation of Morrison can be seen above), my all-time favourite Superman tale, All-Star Superman. He is currently turning DC's Multiverse on its proverbial head with his Multiversity mini-series.

3. Jackson Pollock

Technically, Jackson Pollack's first name was Paul, but his nom de plume (his middle name was Jackson) is how everyone knows him, so it is Jackson we are going with. And Andy Jackson has always been my favourite historical president. Pollock is known, of course, as one of the greatest artists of modern times. He died quite early (at 44, due to an alcohol-related car accident) but before that, his so-called action paintings, helped him to become one of the most important figures in my favourite artistic movement, Abstract Expressionism. His paintings, often criticized in his day, as much as they were praised, are brilliant abstract pieces of art, splattered with a crazed fury of passion. Yeah, that's right.

2. Tyler Durden

 Nobody ever remembers poor John Tyler (he was our 10th commander-in-chief, becoming president after William Henry Harrison died, a month into his own presidency) but most people in today's world know who Tyler Durden is. Played by Brad Pitt (sorta) in the David Fincher film, Fight Club, Tyler Durden is one of the most iconic film characters of modern cinema. Yeah, I think there might have been a book too, but I can never spell the author's name so...just kidding, it was Chuck Palahniuk. But hey, the firs rule of Fight Club is that we don't talk about Fight Club, so I'll shut up about Tyler Durden now, and move on to our numero uno pick.

1. Harrison Ford

First off, he has both a first AND a last name that matches a president. Technically three presidents, since there were two Harrisons (William Henry and his grandson Benjy) to go along with Gerry Ford. Secondly, and more importantly, he is Harrison Ford. He is Han Solo. He is Indiana Jones. He is Captain of the Millennium Falcon, and did the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, and as everyone knows, parsecs are a unit of distance not time, so that in turn makes him a freakin' time traveler. Yeah, that's right. Do the freakin' math people. Not only was Han Solo the man who shot first, he was also a time traveler. And that is who Harrison Ford is. He is Han and he is Indy too. He is BFF's with a Wookiee. In his spare time, he flies helicopters on fire rescue missions. Yeah, that is Harrison Ford. End of story. He is number one. Huzzah!

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.