Thursday, February 27, 2014

Heavenly Body of the Week: Rylos

"Greetings, Starfighter.  You have been recruited by the star league to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armarda." - Centauri, via The Last Starfighter video game

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Film Review: Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty

So far, anyone and everyone who has reviewed this The Great Beauty, or La Grande Bellezza in its native Italian tongue, has one descriptive in common - and that descriptive is highlighted by everyone's favourite F-word.  And by everyone's favourite F-word, I of course mean Felliniesque.  From the first deliciously giddy moments to the grand morality tale finale, Paolo Sorrentino's latest film is possibly more akin to a Fellini film than any film since Fellini himself was making movies.  Hell, this film is so Felliniesque, it may be even more like a Fellini film than many of Fellini's own films.  Okay, perhaps that is just hyperbole, but seriously, this film is quite the spectacle to behold, and the blatant influence of Sorrentino's late great countryman, has to be the major reason why.  But none of this obvious influence, or over-use of that aforementioned F-word, should take away from the post-modern sensibilities and stunning film work brought forth by this post-realist, post-Fellini auteur.

Tackling many of the same concerns that Fellini (there he is again) played with in his masterful La Dolce Vita, Sorrentino takes a look at Jep Gambardella, an aging writer, and popular partier-cum-Roman pseudo-celebrity, upon his 65th birthday, as he tries to figure out what has happened to, and what will now happen to his life.  The juicy, contemplative role of Jep, Sorrentino's modern channeling of Marcello Mastroianni's Marcello Rubini in (here he is again) Fellini's La Dolce Vita, is played with plenty of aplomb by 54 year old actor Toni Servillo, most notably seen in Matteo Garrone's brilliant Gomorrah, and Sorrentino's own Il Divo. His performance is a centerpiece looking all around him at the titular great beauty, or grande bellezza, that is Roma, the Eternal City.  Acting, much in the way Mastroianni did in La Dolce Vita, as a visual narrator of the sometimes decadent, sometimes mournful world of Roman society, Servillo's Jep is the proverbial lost soul in search of meaning in an otherwise unfulfilled life of constant parties and drink and women.  A one time promising novelist, now relegated to writing cheap articles on Roman high society and its esoteric art world, Jep looks back on a life possibly wasted, longing for true companionship while simultaneously running from it, and yearning for his lost first love. It is as stunning a performance as the film itself is a stunning work of art.

Sorrentino's film, as Felliniesque as it wants to be (I keep going back to that F-word, don't I?), is essentially the story of a human tragedy, but not the kind usually associated with the genre of tragedy.  For all intents and purposes, Jep is a successful person, a celebrated member of Rome's upper crust society, but inside he is lost and lonely and unsure of his true place in the world.  He is part of a faux society, trapped inside a spiraling circle that leads deeper and deeper into despair and hopelessness, with no idea of how to escape this outwardly happy, inwardly depressing lifestyle.  Servillo gives this multifaceted character the most bravura of performances (his chutzpah is off the so-called charts), and this performance is integral in making the film work, but it is Sorrentino giving his all as director, that lifts this tragedy to near epic proportions.  With a swirling camera that takes in the great tragic beauty that is his Eternal City, a camera-eye that wraps itself up down around and through the heart of Rome's society, Sorrentino engulfs us with a visually Felliniesque (yep, that word again) brouhaha, showcasing both the city itself and Servillo's wayward Jep, and it all comes out so beautifully, it almost hurts.  Easily one of the best films of the year (and the probable winner of the Best Foreign Language Oscar), F-word laced or not, this old school cinephile was quite surprised as to not have the film end with a shot of Servillo turning away from the camera and walking down the beach.  La Dolce Vita, indeed.  

Monday, February 24, 2014

The 10 Best Sitcom Guest Star Parents

There have been many great parents in TV comedy history, from Ozzie and Harriet to June and Ward Cleaver, to Mr. and Mrs. C, right on up to Frank and Marie Barone and Phil and Claire Dunphy. but it is not these so-called full-time parents we are here to talk about today.  No sirree.  We are here to take a look at those guest starring parental units.  Becoming a big thing after shows like Roseanne (and later Seinfeld and Friends) started bringing in big name guest stars to play their sitcom parents, there are many a great parent guest starring on American situation comedies these days.  Now just to go over the rules here, this is about the guest star mom or dad.  In other words, someone like Doris Roberts on Everybody Loves Raymond would not be eligible, due to being a member of the regular cast of the show, but someone like Elliott Gould, as Monica and Ross' dad on Friends, since he was only in a handful of episodes, is very much eligible.  Mr. Gould doesn't actually make the list, but you get the idea.

As I compiled this list, there were inevitably some worthy parents left on the so-called cutting room floor.  Some of these are Elaine Stritch as Jack's mama-from-hell on 30 Rock, grand thespian Maurice Evans as Sam's warlock daddy on Bewitched, Morgan Fairchild as Chandler's slutty mom on Friends, Barney Martin and Liz Sheridan as Jerry's parents on Seinfeld, Marlo Thomas as Rachel's high society mom on Friends, Shelly Long as Mitchell and Claire's estranged mother on Modern Family, and Earle Hyman and Clarice Taylor as the Huxtables on The Cosby Show.  Something else I noticed, this time after completing the list, is that moms are better than dads, with the proof being that almost every entry on the list is a mother.  Anyway, enough of this, we have a list to countdown.

And awaaaaaaay we go...

Special Mention: Ben Stiller as Jerry Stiller's Dad on King of Queens
In a great feat of meta-storytelling, Ben Stiller was cast to play the father of the character played by his real life dad, Jerry.  Granted, the scenes are done in flashback, but it's still fun to see Ben play his own dad's dad, and this is why he makes the list, well sort of makes the list at least.

10. Jan Hooks as Verna Maroney on 30 Rock
One of about a thousand SNL alum that have guest starred on the show, Jan Hooks portrayal of Jenna's back-stabbing, money-hungry, con artist, white trash mother is one of the many highlights of a show already filled with pretty much nothing but highlights.

9. Laurie Metcalf as Mary Cooper on The Big Bang Theory
As Jackie, Metcalf was one of the best things about Roseanne, and now she has moved onto another show, again starring with Roseanne-ite Johnny Galecki, but it is Jim Parsons' ultra-persnickety Sheldon to whom she plays smothering, bible thumping mother hen.  And she's still just as hilarious. 

8. Nancy Walker as Ida Morgenstern in The Mary Tyler Moore Show
This is the only show on this list that can be rightfully called a classic.  Nancy Walker as Rhoda's over-bearing mother (a role for which she would eventually become a regular on the spinoff, and get nominated for four Emmys) was one of the best mothers on TV, but also one of the best characters in sit-com history.

7. Frances Sternhagen as Esther Claven on Cheers
Just in case you did not think Cliff Claven was annoying enough as the know-it-all Boston postal carrier on Cheers, here comes the mother load - his even more know-it-all mother.  Deep down she was a sweet, loving woman and mother, but boy was she ever an annoying know-it-all.

6. Colleen Dewhurst as Avery Brown on Murphy Brown
One of the smartest and classiest shows of it's time, it is only right to have one of the smartest and classiest ladies guest star as the mother of it's leading lady. As Murphy's ever-perfect mother, Dewhurst was pitch perfect.  When the actress died, they honoured her by naming Murphy's child after her.

5. Millicent Martin as Gertrude Moon on Frasier
As Daphne's batshitcrazy mother on Frasier, Miss Martin (who was in the 1966 film Alfie as one of Michael Caine's 'birds') does a wonderful job as the sparring partner of her daughter and the other characters, and even when sparring with her estranged hubby played by Brian Cox (above) in a few episodes.

4. Estelle Parsons as Beverly Harris on Roseanne
How many actual Oscar winners are on this list?  Just one, and that one (as if ya haven't already guessed) is Miss Estelle Parsons.  The Bonnie and Clyde award winner is downright heeelarious as Roseanne and Jackie's frantic mother on the hit 1980's/90's sit-com.

3. Jerry Stiller & Estelle Harris as Frank & Estelle Costanza on Seinfeld
These two actors are so good as George Costanza's parents, I had to put both of them on the list.  Two iconic characters on an even more iconic show, the Costanzas are not only the worst of parents, but also just the parents that a character such as George Costanza deserves.  And hey, we have Frank to thank for Festivus.

2. Debbie Reynolds as Bobbi Adler on Will & Grace
Playing as over-the-top as she wants, long time gay icon Debbie Reynolds was the perfect person to play Grace's overwhelming, over-bearing, over-indulgent mother on the first major gay sitcom on TV.  Just the fact that her Bobbi usually makes her entrance with a quick song and dance number makes it even better.

1. Kathleen Turner as Charles Bing/Helena Handbasket on Friends
Hell, you could make an entire top ten list with the parents from Friends alone, but the best guest of the long-running NBC sitcom, the one that comes out on top, though appearing in just three episodes, is Kathleen Turner as Chandler's drag queen father.  I wonder how they approached the actress with such a part? 

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

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Guest Post: The Dangers of Being The Dangerman Pt. II

ed. note: The below diatribe/semi-incomprehensible rant was written by All Things Kevyn foreign-esque correspondent, Rufus Dangerman.  The opinions in said rant do not necessarily reflect those views held by the owners of this blog, but then again, maybe they do.  So, without further ado, here it is...

Well here we are again bitches! Why I was asked to do a second guest post, I don't know. I mean, my first post was just a ramblin' mess, full o' bullshit and cantankerous mockery. Let's face facts people, I'm an asshole. A bona fide jackass. This ain't no secret, everyone knows it. You the reader knows it, our hovering webmaster Kevyn knows it, and I certainly fuckin' know it. But hey man, who am I to argue? If I'm asked to come back and do another post, then I ain't a-arguin'. I'm just gonna do it, and hope no one notices, or cares, how big a jackass I happen to be. So, with all that in mind, here we go. You have been warned. No blamin' me now.

I have lived much of my life on the road, or "On the Road" as the case may be, but recently I have settled down, as much as this body and mind can settle down, in the town of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  I grew up around here actually.  Yea, I was born in a wee small town out in Western Pa, but when I was nine, my parents dragged me and my sister, who was just six and a half at the time, to a place called Halifax.  Yea, Halifax.  What a disgusting sounding name for a disgusting place.  But anyway, cut to a little after my eighteenth birthday and I found myself working at a restaurant in downtown Harrisburg.  This is the state capital by the way, about twenty minutes away from Haliflaaaxxx.  The restaurant was called Scott's and I was working as a server there.  By the way, this is where I first met our not-so-humble blogmeister, Kevyn Knox.  But I am getting a bit off topic here.  Ya see, after a couple or three years working the daily grind, I headed out to parts unknown.  I had to escape the dreary life I saw happening to me and explore the wild frontier.  Like Jack Kerouac, I went on the road.  Thus began, life on the road.  Duh.

So, after years on that damnable road, from sea to fucking shining sea, I decided to make my way back to Harrisburg, the so-called Burg.  Yea, I had visited now and then over my years on the road, but two years ago I decided to actually move back here for real.  So, after a baker's dozen years on the road, I found myself back in The Burg. I met up with old friends, and old enemies, and for a while I really liked it.  Then last year, something happened.  The place changed somehow.  Now run by a bunch of fucking hipster wannabe assholes, Harrisburg seems like shit to me - just like it did when I first went on the road.  To toss in our blogmeister once again, part of what made this place shit again was the "letting go" of Kevyn and his wife Amy, from Midtown Cinema.  Midtown Cinema was once a great place.  It was first owned by a guy named Al Brown.  He owned it for like eight or nine years or however long.  After a while he sold the place to some typical upstart company in the city.  Yea, these guys were nothing more than corporate wannabes, but they did do one smart thing.  They hired Kevyn and Amy to run the place, which they did for nearly five years.

Like I said, I visited here from time to time and whenever I was back I had the best of times hanging out at the cinema.  Great movies and great atmosphere.  When I moved back in 2012, I became a regular at the place.  Then the shit storm came.  After the owner decided to put his friend in charge of things, she decided she wanted it all and set out on trying to get Kevyn and Amy to quit, which they would not do.  So, after five years of making the cinema a rousing success - and yes, they are responsible for that happening!!!! - they were fired.  The reason given was because they wanted to go another direction.  Now the friend is fully in charge, and other friends have been added to the soup, and now all the things Kevyn and Amy did to build the place up, are being exploited by the new people in town, and they have taken credit for it all.  Now I know Kevyn would not write any of this himself, for fear of sounding petty or bitter, but I as an outsider, can say fuck 'em all!  Come on Kev, make sure ya print this.  I says fuck 'em all!!!  You guys gave your lifeblood for that place and they kick you in the ass for it!!  They stole your gig, stole your show, have taken credit for things you and Amy have done, and even implemented ideas that the two of you came up with but were told by the powers that be, that you could not do.  Fuck 'em all.

Even now, after nearly eight months out, these asshats are still trying to take pot shots at Kevyn and Amy by badmouthing them to potential future employers.  I says fuck 'em all.  I haven't set foot in that place since, and I gots no respect for anyone who says they liked what Kevyn and Amy were doing, but still frequent that hellhole!!!  The place is run by bad bad people, and if ya don't already know that, ya should learn it.  And trust me, there are stories of corporate bullshit and screwing over of employees, that would make your fuckin' hair stand on end. And like I said, Kevyn and Amy would not say this themselves because they are better people than that, but I ain't. Hopefully Kevyn will print this. It's not like I named names. Did I mention fuck 'em all!!!  But it's not just these guys that are making the place shit again.  Harrisburg has become a bed of bullshit once again all over the fuckin' place, and with all that is happening, I think it's time for The Dangerman to head back out on the road.  So, I bid Harrisburg yet another adieu - a fucking auf weidersehen even!  It can get lonely on the road - depressingly lonely, hardcase lonely - but I gotta go.  I'm gettin' the fuck outta here, and Kevyn and guys should do the same.  You at least have each other to stave off the loneliness.  Go somewhere that you can be appreciated and not spat on like Harrisburg has done to ya.  Go someplace where ya can get a fair shake.  I know, you say you like the place, but for me though, it's back on the road again.  Maybe the left coast is a good place to hang my hat for a while. As long as I'm outta this dump again. Oh but don't worry my peeps, The Dangerman will still be found here and there online - maybe even with another guest post if Kev-Dogg don't send me too much flack for screamin' and shoutin' and havin' his back here.  See ya on da flipside, cats and kittens.


The man known as Rufus Dangerman can be found elsewhere on the world wide web as well, such as at his website, The Dangerman Blog; his Tumblr site, It Ain't What it Used to Be; and, of course, just like every other mo-fo on the planet, on Facebook as well.  That's it for now.  Be back for more next time...if you so dare.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Heavenly Body of the Week: Asteroid M

"If you want a madman, here I am.  I defy you to do your worst." - Magneto, Uncanny X-Men #112 (Aug. 1978)

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

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Film Review: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller's The Lego Movie

Sure, it may be, as some are prone to gripe, just a kid's movie.  Sure, it may be just a PG-rated Robot Chicken, and therefore sadly lacking in the guts department.  Sure, it may just be this generation's pale distant cousin of my generation's Who Framed Roger Rabbit - well, kinda.  Sure, it may be all these things, and therefore nothing this critic, no matter how immature and still living in his own childhood he may be, would be all that interested in, other than perhaps just to see what all the hubbub's about, bub.  So, with soda and popcorn in hand, and surrounded by what I would approximate as half a million children (which included a two-row sectioned off birthday party area), I hunkered down to see just what all the hubbub was about, bub.  Surprisingly, the hubbub was more accurate than I would have expected.  Even more surprisingly, with the exception of one little girl's scream at the supposed peril of the film's hero at one point, these aforementioned half a million children sat in relative silence during the film's hour and forty-two minute runtime.  So there.

As for the story of The Lego Movie, it is typical archetype stuff.  A simple everyman, Emmet Brickowoski (voiced by Chris Pratt), living his mundane simple life, stumbles upon a magical prophecy of which he must fulfill in order to save the world from the evil doings of Lord Business (voiced by Will Ferrell).  Along the way, the often oblivious Emmet is joined on his quest by a manic panic-haired heroine ridiculously named Wyldestyle (Elizabeth Banks), the wizened blind wizard Vitruvius (the seemingly omnipresent voice of Mr. Morgan Freeman), a candy-coated creepy-ass unicorn hybrid of a Lego and My Little Pony (Community's Allison Brie), a cobbled-together pirate monstrosity (Nick Offerman), an over eager 1980's spaceman Lego guy (Charlie Day), and of course, Batman (Will Arnett putting that famed raspy voice to great use), included most likely because he gets butts in seats, baby.  Also featuring the voice of Liam Neeson as the bi-polar Bad Cop/Good Cop henchman of Lord Business, and a slew of other Lego characters (Superman, Wonder Woman, Abraham Lincoln, Shakespeare, an incessantly nagging Green Lantern voiced by Jonah Hill, as well as some fun little cameo appearances, one of them staying especially classy), The Lego Movie is actually a lot of fun.  Perhaps not to the level of some other toy-related animated films (cough, cough...the Toy Story franchise), but still a fun little movie.  So there...again.

With that said, I would have loved to have seen, instead of a PG-rated Robot Chicken, an actual Robot Chicken version of this film.  I know, I know, the damn thing's aimed at a much younger set than I, but still the possibilities of a pop culture wonderland in the form of Legos is a pretty spectacular idea.  But alas, instead of many of the pop references that coulda woulda shoulda filled this film (there are some cute references, but nothing compared to something like the Pixar gang or the Shrek films, or shows such as The Simpsons and Family Guy, or dare I say Robot Chicken) we are left with a fun, but still not as fun as it could be film.  Sure, this may be a small gripe in the whole scheme of things, for it is an enjoyable film (and has a nice non-conformity message), and judging from the lack of bothersome, disgruntled children in the screening I attended, its intended audience is more than pleased as punch, so who am I to argue.  Let's just keep it at my original assessment of it being a fun little film, and go on about our respective lives.  After all, in a case such as this, my problems don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy critical world.  I was once taken to task by the six year old son of a friend of mine, for not giving good enough reviews of animated films, so perhaps I should best leave well enough alone, and finish this review with the title of the movie's purposefully annoying hit song - everything is awesome.  So there.  That's it gang.  See ya 'round the web.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Which Film SHOULD Win the Best Picture Oscar?

Forget about all the pundits out there blowing their proverbial smoke about why Gravity or American Hustle or 12 Years a Slave will win the golden statue on March 2nd.  Granted, this is the first time in probably more than a decade, where the prize for top honours at the Academy Awards has not been a foregone conclusion, but nevertheless, we are not here to discuss what WILL win the Oscar (we'll get all that stuff when I post my final predictions on March 1st), but which film SHOULD win the Oscar.  That's right ladies and germs, we are here to find out just which film you think should take home the top prize.  And how exactly are we going to do such a thing?  Glad you asked.  The answer can be found near the top of this blog's right hand sidebar.  Yup, right up there.  Ya can't miss it.  All you need do is go on up to that poll, choose which film you would vote for, and then click on the vote button.  Easy peazy lemon squeezy.  Of course if you are coming to this post after the Oscars are awarded (aka, after March 2nd) then you probably will not find said poll, and therefore will not be so easy peazy lemon squeezy. But I digress.  Let's move on, shall we?

So, what is your choice anyway?  Is it the harrowing slave drama 12 Years a Slave?  The stark Americana of Alexander Payne's Nebraska?  The overtly excessive Martin Scorsese picture, The Wolf of Wall Street?  The tragic, brilliantly acted Dallas Buyers Club?  The awe-inspiring visual audacity that is Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity?  The quaintly, wonderfully performed Philomena?  The surprisingly (at least in my mind) tension-fueled Captain Phillips?  The cool and hip Spike Jonze film, Her?  The The acid-tongued, David O. Russell-directed seventies period piece, American Hustle?  So, which will it be?  My Oscar poll has been up for about a month now, and has garnered over 140 votes so far, but that ain't nothin'.  With just nine days to go until the poll closes (Thursday night, February 27th, at Midnight, with the results being posted on Friday) it's about time you got your vote in there.  Right now, it looks to be a two-way race between American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave, but that could all change with your vote.  So get on over to that poll and vote early and vote often (yes, apparently the poll allows you to vote once a day, so there's that).  And remember, you can comment all ya want in the comments section of this post (and please do, I love when people talk to me), but in order for your vote to be counted, you must vote in the actual poll widget-thingee over in the sidebar.  And, as I stated above, the results will be announced right here on this blog (duh!  Where else would I do it?) on February 28th, followed by my final predictions on March 1st, and then the big night on March 2nd, followed by my round-up on March 3rd.  And for those who got here too late for any of this to matter...what the hell is wrong with you?  Why the hell aren't you following me and checking this blog every day!?  Oh well, your loss.  Well, that's it.  See ya 'round the web.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

S.L.A.P.: The Shia LaBeouf Appreciation Party

I have a poet friend.  A post-modern poet friend.  Once he held a poetry reading that was titled "It's Time to Forgive Pete Rose."  Now personally, I never found it necessary to forgive the shouldbe hall-of-famer, for I had not found him guilty of anything in the first place.  Well, okay, there's the whole gambling thing, but that shouldn't have kept him out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Banned from the MLB?  Sure, but still, his stats merit inclusion in the Hall.  But I digress.  The reason I started this post with this story was to showcase a troubled celebrity who really isn't all that troubled.  Now I am not saying Pete Rose's gambling problems were the sort of performance piece things that someone like Shia LaBeouf is enacting this past year or so.  And yes, a performance piece is exactly what the mercurial actor is doing with his recent antics.  I don't think anyone still believes this is as a breakdown, like many at first thought.  But again, I digress.

What I am doing here today is to show, however tongue-in-cheek it may be (and it is quite tongue-in-cheek), my appreciation for those aforementioned recent antics.  What else I am doing here, is to convince you, my faithful readers and true believers, to also come to an appreciation (again, quite tongue-in-cheek) of one mister Shia LaBeouf.  Granted, the things LaBeouf is doing (and a timeline of his antics can be read by any of those not aware of just what it is that's going on here) reek of the so-called breakdown-cum-performance art that Joaquin Phoenix, which I suppose works out since LaBeouf's antics are antics of plagiarism, but still, Phoenix did his better.  Not to put the kibosh on LaBeouf's art though, because even if he hasn't gone as batshitcrazy as Phoenix did, his antics sure are fun.  And now others, like Jerry O'Connell (forever the fat kid from Stand By Me) are getting involved.  But once again, I digress.  I am here to announce a new Facebook page - one dedicated to Mister Shia LaBeouf.  It's called S.L.A.M.: The Shia LaBeouf Appreciation Movement.  So, why not head on over to the link just below and join up on the new Facebook page, and help me S.L.A.M. Shia.

Yup, that's right kids, join today, and get in on the veritable ground floor of S.L.A.P.: The Shia LaBeouf Appreciation Party.  Share your Shia stories and links and pics.  Become part of a loving, albeit quite tongue-in-cheek, community, right there on good ole Facebook.  Show your love for all things Shia (and yes, contrary to common belief, I do think there is a talented actor in there somewhere, if only he were given better films to prove such a thing) or, if you'd rather, show your disgust for the guy.  Whichever you choose. Come join today, and help me S.L.A.P. Shia.  That's it for now.  See ya 'round the web.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy VD (Valentine's Day): Something for All You Romantics

Ah, Valentine's Day.  Some claim it was invented by Hallmark to sell cards, but actually it was invented by 14th Century poet Geoffrey Chaucer.  Okay okay, perhaps that isn't technically accurate, but who am I to quibble such trivial things as facts.  It's kinda true, anyway (more on that later).  Whatever the case, here is a gift from me to all my faithful readers and true believers.  Some Valentine's presents for all the romantics in the audience.

Um...okay.  So what exactly is Batman saying here?  Show us on the doll where Batman touched you.  Okay, even once you take away the massive amounts of homoerotic sexual innuendo that have been put into these characters over the years (and c'mon, it could not have all been innocent and accidental), why the hell is Bruce Wayne allowed to keep bringing kids into his stately home!?  At least two have died - brutally, mind you - and at least one other has been erased form existence.  Let's forget the possibility of the Batcave being an underground Neverland Ranch for a second (once Dick Grayson turned of age, he got the hell out of there, and started his own superheroing biz), and just think of how social services would react to this obvious endangerment of children - and in such a slinky outfit as well.  But I digress.  Maybe Batman is just too randy for some.  Let's head over to the wholesome world of Archie Comics.  Nothing sexually provocative happening over there, I'm sure.

Well then. I stand corrected.  Apparently there is some serious innuendo going on over at Riverdale High as well.  While we're on the subject, I would like to give kudos to the fine folks over at Archie Comics.  Introducing a prominent openly gay character into the mix of Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and the gang, was a brave move, even in this so-called modern world.  The addition of openly gay classmate Kevin Keller in 2010, was received with overwhelmingly positive hurrahs.  And even though we are living in a brave new world of open dialogue and welcoming acceptance (don't let the red staters know that, though), where gay culture is now rightfully blending in with mainstream culture (definitely don't let the right wingers hear that one), it doesn't mean we can't keep having some fun with the wave of (sometimes) unintentional homoeroticism happening in comics.  Let's get back to Batman, and see what he's up to now.

Seriously?  Come on! A sobbing little bitch Dick Grayson?  A moonlight boat ride? Okay, we all really know that Batman and Robin (in any incarnation) were ever actually gay, but sometimes you gotta wonder what the writers and artists were thinking.  Yeah, sometimes it was just oblivious innocence (it was a so-called simpler time) but ya gotta believe that some of these writers knew just what they were doing.  Trying to toss in as much randy time as they could.  You wouldn't see this kind of thing happening with other superheroes.   Not to the likes of Superman or Spider-Man.  No way, Jose.

Come on!!  Really!!??  This is getting ridiculous now.  It does make one wonder though, what would having sex with the likes of Superman really be like.  I mean, come on, that rock hard shaft would break any woman in half.  Lois Lane could never have handled it.  Wonder Woman?  Sure, but definitely no human woman.  No mere mortal Earthling.  Which now begs the question - could Spidey take it?  One would assume Spider-Man would be the bottom here, right?  I mean, he is on his knees here (or his ass at least), and even though he's pretty freakin' strong, he surely ain't Superman strong.  And what happens when Supes blows his load, so to speak?  Anyone who has ever seen Mallrats, knows what I'm talkin' about.  Brodie asks all the right questions.  But, once again, I digress.  Why don't we check back on Gotham City.  Surely things must have died down by now.

Oh, for crying out loud!!!  Seriously!!??  What is this shit?  What the fuck is going on in that Batcave!!??  What sick and twisted bondage game is Bruce Wayne playing at??  What's next?  Does Alfred bring out the gimp?  I know one must wonder about a guy who wears tights and a cape (or form fitting leather in the movies) and makes his thirteen or so year old ward wear short shorts, but this cannot just be some innocent mishap.  They had to have known what they were alluding to here - in or out of context!  But enough of all this superhero innuendo.  There are plenty of non-superhero comics out there (other than those damn Riverdale High kids), and surely they have a bit more decorum about them.

Oh come on!!!  Now someone's just messing with me!!  There is no way that they did not see the innuendo in these.  No way in hell.  Or perhaps they are not talking about a guy named Dick, and maybe they actually are obsessed with cocks.  Yeah, she's running through the forest looking to get laid.  I would say try a bar somewhere, 'cause ya never know what kind of "dick" you're gonna find in the woods. But I digress. Why don't we try looking at a different comic.  No, not Batman again. Somewhere far away from Gotham City.  Someplace out in the country perhaps (but not the Dick woods).  Maybe a place where one can commune with nature.

What the fuck!!?  I'm not sure what's going on here, but I don't think I want to be any part of it.  By the way, while we are on the subject (yeah, really) didjya hear about the time Julia Roberts was almost raped by an orangutan?  Yup, it happened while she was in Borneo filming a documentary.  Apparently a rather horny orangutan attempted to drag Miss Roberts into the forest and, one supposes, have his way with her.  It took several crew members to get the great orange ape to unclasp her arm.  Really.  That actually happened.  Anyway, why don't we head back to Gotham and see what's happening there.  Things must have cooled off there by now.

What the hell is going on in Gotham City!?  Seriously, does the Batcave turn into an after hours gay disco at 3am or something?  Rainbow Batman?  That's it.  I'm done.  Let whatever happen, happen.  Running through Dick Woods or what have you.  Who am I to judge?  What consenting adults do behind closed Batcave doors...oh wait a minute, isn't Robin supposed to be thirteen or so back in these comics?  Yeah okay.  So Bruce Wayne and Jerry Sandusky...oh never mind.  Let's just all have a happy Valentine's Day.  Geoffrey Chaucer didn't invent the holiday for nuthin'. See, I told you we'd get back to that later.  So, whomever you are and whoever you love (as long as he's older than little Dickie Grayson), have yourself a happy happy VD (aka, Valentine's Day).  And to all my lovely gay friends, if we shadows have offended, remember this is in jest, and all will be mended.   I love ya'll.  I'll leave you with one final Batsy image.  Okay, this one has been altered with new words put in, but seriously, all the other ones are real and honest comic panels.  See ya 'round the web.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Heavenly Body of the Week: The Diamond Planet

1438b is the most fascinating of cosmic objects.  Its sun is a neutron star.  A neutron star is a stellar object that has amazing mass (at least one and a half times as massive as our sun) but is incredibly small (approximately 12 miles in diameter).  This star is so heavy that, on Earth, a teaspoon of its stellar material would weigh about a billion tons (yowza!).  The immense intensity of this star has literally turned it's lone orbiting carbon-cored planet (a planet that is 3000 times the size of its sun) into a space-faring diamond.  Pretty cool, huh?

See ya 'round the web.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Some of My Favourite Things About PTA's Boogie Nights

When I first saw PTA's Boogie Nights, back on video sometime around 1998 (no, I did not see it in theaters at the time of its release for some reason or another), I hated it.  Really, I just hated the damn thing.  Could not have been less impressed.  Granted, it was my first taste of the auteur Anderson (his first film, Hard Eight, would actually not be sen until just this past year), long before MagnoliaPunch Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood and The Master, and well before I would herald him as one of the best directors working in cinema today.  But anyway, I digress.   

So I decided to watch the film again, sometime in 2003 (after Punch Drunk came out) and really liked it.  Somehow, my mind had been changed, and rather drastically at that.  So, then came the year 2012, and with my mind now going in another direction (was I just in a bad mood during that first attempt?) and with There Will Be Blood and The Master now firmly encased in such a vaunted position, I decided to watch the film for a third time.  This time it would be a blu-ray screening on the big screen.  Well, now we got ourselves one humdinger of a cinematic event (or is that hummer?  Hmmm?).  Now we get a film that is suddenly the blastiest of blasts.  Gorgeous.  Succulent.  Fantastic.  Awe-Inspiring.  Gleefully decadent.  All that kind of jazz.  Do I dare even say, a masterpiece?  Sure, I dare.  Let us praise it as a modern day masterpiece!   A masterpiece indeed.  How's that for a turnaround?  But I digress once more, and will now get on with why we are all gathered here today in the first place.

What follows is a reprint, of sorts, from a series I used to do over at my film site, The  Most Beautiful Fraud in the World (there have been updates and some revisions here and there).  This is a series I plan on bringing back, right here in the "pages" of All Things Kevyn, and I am using this post as an introduction to such a series.  But enough of that.  That will be then, this is now.  Anyway, here are my ten favourite things about a movie I once hated and now adore.  Imagine that.  And as always, there may very well be spoilers ahead, so for those who care about such things, ye have been warned.  Now on with the show.

Julianne Moore Showing It All as Amber Waves - Wow, she really is a red head.  Ha!  Actually we already knew this from Short Cuts. Seriously though, not only is Ms. Moore sexy as hell here, the actress shows just how damn good of an actor she really is.  Going from porn queen to mother hen to tragic heroine, Moore gives one of the finest performances of an already more than fine career.

The More-Than-Obvious Scorsese Connection - It is certainly no secret that Martin Scorsese is one of the biggest influences on PTA's career, but it is more evident in Boogie Nights than anywhere else in the auteur's oeuvre, and the most obvious Scorsese-influenced connection is to the master's 1990 modern day masterpiece Goodfellas.  From the rags to riches and back to rags story arc of Goodfellas' Henry Hill and Boogie Nights' Dirk Diggler to the ever-roaming, ever-moving camera of both films, the long, always-sharp-eyed tracking shots, Anderson shows his prowess as a filmmaker while also honoring his stylistic mentor with a hot-blooded homage.  To watch as Wahlberg's wouldbe porn icon weaves his way through clubs and pool parties and recording studios is like watching Ray Liotta leading a wide-eyed, bewildered Lorraine Bracco through the back passages of the Copacabana in Goodfellas.  Great stuff indeed.

Burt Reynolds and His Non-Comeback Comeback - Once upon a time, Burt Reynolds was the top box office draw in Hollywood.  He began in television and broke into movies in the early seventies in films like Deliverance and The Longest Yard.  Then Smokey and the Bandit hit theaters.  For five years running, from 1978 through 1982, Reynolds was the main man at the box office.  The main man!  Then, with films such as Stick and Rent-A-Cop and All Dogs Go to Heaven, came a quick and wicked stumble from stardom to has-been.  Relegated to appearances on game shows, the actor's career seemed pretty much over.  Then came a TV show called Evening Shade which ran from 1990 to 1994.  After the success of that he garnered a comeback in films as well with the one two punch of Striptease and Boogie Nights - the latter of which would earn him his first, and so far only Oscar nomination.  It was an award he lost to Robin Williams for his treacly performance in Good Will Hunting.  It was an award he should have won.  It was an award that would have gone to his performance of porn king Jack Horner - a role that was pretty much built just for the actor.  But alas, it was an award that would not be and it was a comeback that was quite short lived.  Now relegated to voice work on animated shows and video games, and the occasional guest spot on TV, Reynolds' film career is pretty much back where it was in the late eighties (his role as Uncle Jessie in the Dukes of Hazzard movie is the highlight of an otherwise stupendously bad movie).  But we will always have Jack Horner.

The Soundtrack That Brought Sexy Back -  Just how Scorsese's pop and rock infused Goodfellas soundtrack (see - another connection!) led us through the rise and fall of Henry Hill, Anderson's Boogie Nights soundtrack takes us from the beginnings of Dirk Diggler's meteoric rise during the golden age of porn to his darkest days in the 1980's age of excess.  From Jethro Tull and Three Dog Night to Hot Chocolate and K.C. and the Sunshine Band this is a soundtrack for the ages.  Well at least for the ages of my lifetime.  From God Only Knows by The Beach Boys to Rick Springfield's Jessie's Girl, from Best of My Love by the Emotions to Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now by McFadden & Whitehead to Andrew Gold's Lonely Boy (left off the official soundtrack), we grow with the characters from one decade to the next.  Of course the two best and most important numbers from the film, not only in the songs themselves but their connection with other parts of the film, are Melanie's Brand New Key (incidentally, a ringtone I use on occasion) and Sister Christian by Night Ranger.  But these will be addressed later on down the list.

Rollergirl as Male Fantasy Id Incarnate - Heather Graham may not be the world's best actress - or even close to it - but the girl sure can make a pair of roller skates sing.  As the troubled high school dropout who becomes a plaything both on and off the set (in those days of pre-Aids promiscuity, sluttiness was much more quaint) and rolls around on her skates, Melanie's aforementioned mesmerizing melody playing behind her, Graham's childlike sexuality (there's a strange-sounding concoction, but that is how best to describe the actress and the character's more freewheeling sensual sensibilities) steals much of the show.  And baby, she doesn't take off her skates for nuthin'.  Not for nuthin'!

A Wardrobe Blast From the Decadent Past - Now of course any film set in the time period of Boogie Nights is bound to showcase a kick-ass wardrobe, but the outlandish sensibilities of PTA's film make it even more kick-ass than expected.  Of course being set in the porn industry doesn't hurt either.  From Rollergirl's knee-high tube socks and hot pants to Dirk Diggler, Reed Rothchild and Buck Swope's array of disco-era fashion, there is no doubt the wardrobe department had one hell of a good time coming up with how to dress their cast.

The Other Guys In and Out of the Shot - Speaking of the fashion sense of Reed Rothchild and Buck Swope, John C. Reilly and Don Cheadle do more than an admirable job living up to their being cast as porn studs.  Granted, they may not have a, let's say attribute, that Dirk Diggler has (see number ten in our list for that reveal) but they certainly hold their own as the necessary second string stud material.  We also get the recently late Philip Seymour Hoffman as Scotty J., a typically queer (in several senses of the word) PSH kind of character, and William H. Macy as Little Bill, the most pathetic but also possibly the most sympathetic character outside of Moore's Ms. Waves.

The Batshitcrazy World of Rahad Jackson and Sister Christian - Now there are a lot of great scenes in Boogie Nights.  Okay, pretty much all of them.  But even with all this greatness (and this from a guy who hated the film on first sight!?), there is one scene that goes bananas over all of them - batshitcrazybananas!  That scene is near the end when Dirk, Reed and Todd go to coke dealer Rahad Jackson's pad in order to (stupidly, mind you) rob the noted maniac.  Alfred Molina's  one-scene cameo performance as the maniacal Jackson, and his rendition of Night Ranger's Sister Christian, is pure cinematic bravura.  In other words - batshitcrazy!

The Long Gone Halcyon Days of Porn - Once upon a time, porn was something very different than what it is now.  Granted, it was still very far from respectable, but back in the 1970's, the porn industry was filled with men and women that wanted to create art - and believed they actually were.  Compared to today's age of internet porn excess this so-called golden age was an age of porn auteurs.  Films like Deep Throat proved that one could create porn with certain artistic values.  Sure, it is not high art, but at least at the time, it was some sort of art.

And Then Came the Money Shot - Sure, we all know it wasn't really the studly Mark Wahlberg, but a rather lengthy prosthetic, that made its long-awaited appearance in the final, money shot of the film, but that does not take anything away from its thunderous, unzipped screen debut.  I mean really, we are talking about porn, and this is what it's all about.  After all, as Diggler says, everyone has something special, and this was, his thing.

That's it gang.  I'll be back with a new "Favourite Things" segment sometime soon.  See ya 'round the web.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The 10 Hottest Comicbook Couples...Alright Alright Alright

From Superman and Lois Lane to Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson (neither couple makes this list btw), there have been many hot couples throughout comicbook history.  We've seen Gambit and Rogue, Thor and the Lady Sif (or Jane Foster, if you want to go in that direction), Kitty Pryde and Colossus, and Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon.  None of these couples are on the list either.  There have been such hot superheroing couples as Storm and Black Panther (or Storm and Wolverine or Storm and Nightcrawler or Storm and Gambit, or...gee Ororo has gotten around, hasn't she?), and Aquaman and Mera.  And no, none of these made the list either..sorry 'bout that.  We've gotten such bizarro couples as Big Barda and Mister Miracle, and Wonder Woman and Nemesis.  Hell, Wonder Woman has even been seen with Batman as well.  And we probably shouldn't go into what happens on Paradise Island.  After all, as the old saying goes, what happens on Paradise Island stays on Paradise Island.  Oh, and yeah, none of these couples make the list either.

Other hot comicbook couples who miss out on the list include, Scarlet Witch and Vision (or Scarlet Witch and Wonderman), Reed and Sue Richards, Rictor and Shatterstar, Havok and Polaris, Logan and Mariko, Janet Van Dyne and Hank Pym, Hulkling and Wiccan, Magneto and Rogue (yeah, that happened), Hawkeye and Black Widow (or Hawkeye and Mockingbird, or Hawkeye and Spider-Woman, or,,,gee Clint gets around to), Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, Winter Soldier and Black Widow, Nightwing and Starfire, Pietro and Crystal (or Crystal and Ronan), Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, Johnny Storm and Darla Deering, Boy Blue and Rose Red (yeah, we gotta throw some Fables peeps into the mix, eh?  Check out number ten on the list for some more), and, of course, Scott Summers and Jean Grey - but ya know what, none of these couples make the list either.  Yeah, that's right, Scott and Jean are not here.  Shocking, I know. One could also toss in Saga's Alana and Marko (he's got horns, she has wings!!), Suzie and Jon of Sex Criminals, and maybe even Thanos and Lady Death (I'm sure someone thinks them hot, right?).  But enough of these non-list makers, let's move on to the top ten.

And awaaaaaaay we go...

Special Mention: Wolverine and Squirrel Girl

That's right gang, Wolverine and Squirrel Girl.  The most rough and tumble guy in the Marvel Universe, with claws that would rip ya to shreds just as soon as look atchya,, Squirrel Girl, a former member of the Great Lakes Avengers.  In a rather heeelarious few panels in Brian Michael Bendis' New Avengers, we get more than mere suspicion about the past of these two extremely unlikely lovers.  Was it just a one night tryst?  Was it an actual relationship?  What can she do with that tail?  Hmmm.

10. Bigby Wolf and Snow White

C'mon!  They are Snow Freakin' White and the Big Bad Wolf!  Two iconic, fabled characters, both with sexuality, and inherent sexual tension, oozing out of them.  How could this coupling not make a list of the hottest comicbook couples!?  Sure, their romance hasn't been the easiest or smoothest of romances (it's not like it was a fairy tale, never mind) but isn't it that same hot-tempered sexual tension, not to mention the whole lycanthropic thing, that makes 'em so good together - and so so hot?  Grrrrr.

9. Black Bolt and Medusa

Now this is a power couple.  A king and a queen, and deeply in love.  The sexy royal couple of the mighty Inhumans.  One tall dark and handsome, the other a fiery and lithe redhead.  One the stoic type (well, he kinda has to be), the other a fury of emotion and determination.  Together they are hot hot hot.  And as for actual coupling, just imagine what Medusa can do with those superstrong prehensile red locks of hers. Just don't let hubby Black Bolt scream during sex.  Now that would be inhuman.

8. Apollo and Midnighter

Forget Hulkling and Wiccan, or Shatterstar and Rictor - this is the best damn gay couple in comics.  Sure, Marvel's Northstar may have been the first major comic character to come out of the closet, but it was this hunky DC duo that became the first mainstream same sex couple, and the first ones to actually tie the knot - something DC tends to avoid these days.  The fact that they are basically an alternate version of Superman and Batman, makes their manly love even better - and possibly a lot more Freudian as well.

7. Hawkman and Hawkgirl

Winged warriors, taloned heroic fury, full of vim and vinegar, lust and love, and some intriguing archaic magical totems.  These Hawksian lovers, tough as tough can be (and intertwined in a seemingly eternal kind of love) make for a hotter than hot couple.  Kicking ass and taking names for nigh on seventy years now, this DC power couple cannot be denied their ultimate, mile high sex appeal - and a damn adorable couple as well.  Now, does this count as being part of the mile high club?

6. Green Arrow and Black Canary

On one side ya have a guy with a blonde goatee and a quiver full of trick arrows (is that a euphemism?) and on the other a girl in fishnet stockings with the most killer of voices.  How could they not be one of the hottest couples in comicbook history?  Seriously, how could they not!?  True, they argue and fight all the time, but such unbridled passion, such deep-seeded lust, is great for both kicking the bad guy's collective asses, and for making one of the hot hot hottest of all superhero romances.

5. Daredevil and Elektra

Granted, these two weren't a couple for very long (ya know how death sometimes has a tendency of getting in the way of such things - sometimes) but what a couple they made while they were together.  Elektra on her own is considered one of the sexiest comicbook ass-kickers of all-time, but add in the all-time greatest superhero (that's right!) and ya got a hot match made in Hell - or Hell's Kitchen, if you will.  Now as long as we keep ignoring that stupid movie, their love will never become tainted.

4. Superman and Wonder Woman

Forget that mamby-pamby (and rather annoying) Lois Lane. The only lady woman enough for the Man of Steel (and the only woman tough enough to take on that Kryptonian seed, if ya know what I mean), is the Amazonian princess (and current Goddess of War) known as Wonder Woman.  With a lust that is both super and wonderful, this is the definitive DC power couple right here.  The ultimate power couple, indeed.  One can only imagine that their love making is...well, Earth shattering.  Boom!

3. Joker and Harley Quinn

The master of crime and the mistress of the loony bin.  Who ever thought that Joker would snag himself a girlfriend someday, and who ever thought she would be as smokin' hot (and smokin' crazy) as Harley Quinn?  Well okay, the smokin' crazy part was probably inevitable, but you get my drift.  These two are definitely the most whacked couple on this list, and if you happen to be into such relationships (and who hasn't been in one or two of these over the years?) then this one is uber-hot.

2. Scott Summers and Emma Frost

Sorry Jean Grey, but you're old news these days.  Sure, you may as hot as any redheaded superheroine  out there, but Cyclops sees everything as red, so that's nothing special.  The main problem is that you just have such a problem staying alive.  Ya just can't be trusted to stand by your man, baby.  Now Emma on the other hand...well, okay, this White Queen is batshitcrazy, but damn do her and Scotty make a super hot couple.  Seriously though, how does she even keep that outfit on?  Seriously, how?

1. Batman and Catwoman

Seriously, how could any other couple sit atop this list?  Individually, Bruce Wayne's Batman and Selina Kyle's Catwoman are the hottest damn heroes in comics.  They kick ass better than anyone and they look better in their costumes than anyone.  Put 'em together and you get a beyond smokin' hot super couple, that can not only kick each other's asses, but all of their rogue's gallery of villains as well.  Oh yeah, and there might be just the slightest touch of forbidden love and all that as well.

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