I got a surprise the other day when I read the comments section of the MacWorld posting of an article I wrote about Veronica Mars, Kickstarter, and Ultraviolet. The Chief Technology Officer of UltraViolet parent company Rovi chose to respond publicly and call into question my basic journalistic integrity. After the cut, I've included his lengthy response, and my 1300-word shredding of said response, both of which can be found on the original MacWorld post.Read More
David Sparks and Casey Liss join John and I to talk about getting into comics as an adult. It's a brisk listen, despite the runtime. This is yet another new sub-thread of show types, where we help people on the show off the top of our heads.
You have no idea how sweet, sensitive, and smart a comic book called Sex Criminals can be.Read More
Elizabeth McGovern in a Depression-era picture these days reads as Lady Cora from Downton Abbey having died and been reincarnated as a lady who is more…liberated. The King of the Hill Blu-ray from Criterion (which brings the movie back into print) checks all the boxes.
A review and big re-edit/re-posting of a Soderberghopolis article are forthcoming.
I've pushed off digging through the new Blu-ray of Soderbergh's King of the Hill and The Underneath in favor of swallowing whole this inter-intra-editing-together he's done of the Hitchcock Psycho and the other one from 1998.
Have I told you before how ridiculous you are for not subscribing to his Extension765 newsletter? You are ridiculous. An excerpt of the one that notified me of this magical thing:
Now, Mr/Dr Soderbergh wants everyone to know this post comes from a place of “total affection, openness, and honey bought directly from a beekeeper,” and that “societal norms shift all the time and man-made laws can change with enough money.” To give you more of a sense of context for these comments, he also said, “New studies will show the positive impact of new studies.” He said the more he thought about the Cannibal Cop case the more firm he became in his conviction to fight the Third Amendment, noting it had never been the basis of a Supreme Court ruling, and then, finally, he announced that all celluloid and polaroid black-and-white film would be confiscated under the terms the Pretention Protections Act, a bill which he “authored and saved to a thumb drive this very morning”.
My favorite story about the 1998 Psycho remake is a borrowed one. Nick, one of my dearest friends (and my former boss at the FSU campus cinema) saw it in desperation. I'm likely paraphrasing or embellishing, but trust me and go with it.
He approached the box office window as a fully adult man with not enough scratch to see any movie at the standard adult admission price. He looked the man in the window dead in the eye, his con standing on shaky ground.
"One small child for Psycho, please."
The man at the window was unfazed.
"That'll be one-fifty."
Nick handed over his greenback and a half, took his "CHILD" ticket for Psycho, and proceeded to "enjoy" a feature-length motion picture.
Reviews of Wes Anderson's gorgeous Academy Ratio live action plus a little stop-motion latest The Grand Budapest Hotel (a film I consider a magnificent culmination of his filmmaking process and style [and possibly his best yet]) are embargoed until opening day. Since I can't write a review and remain in accordance with an arcane social contract that wouldn't apply had I physically seen a movie in Berlin instead of Austin, I have to settle for merely posting and commenting on its trailer, which is full of hints of the delightful, laser-precise performances (especially that of Tony Revolori) found throughout the film.
I suppose that I did get spoiled in recording the fully Andersonian podcast that I posted on Monday.
Today, I received an email about the Zubrowka Film Commission. If they made shirts, I would wear one, and proudly. My allegiance is hereby pledged to film-friendly (and nonexistent post-WWII) Zubrowka.
This trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy makes me feel like they really got it right, even though as a piece of marketing, it is aimed at the lowest possible common denominator. They're one of my favorite comic book teams, and this looks like James Gunn has nailed it.
The latest dispatch from Steven Soderbergh's Extension765 mailing list announces him as "Señor Cagamilliones" or, "Mister Shitmillions" in English. This made my day/week/epoch.
His latest "blog" "post" gives an infuriatingly terse and potent bit of appreciation to the genius of Josef von Sternberg. In so doing, Soderbergh reveals how another great filmmaker may have been directly inspired by something we would now consider a mere "DVD" "Special Feature".
The footnotes include favorite quotes from von Sternberg's autobiography for those who can't be bothered to read it (me):
“I have always found it less troublesome to conquer myself than to attempt the conquest of others.” Josef von Sternberg, Fun in a Chinese Laundry
“In our work money has often stood in the way of something that might have lasted a little longer than money ever can.”
“And often I recalled Whistler’s words, whenever I was faced with a task which could not have been foreseen by me when first I read them: ‘It takes endless labor to eradicate the traces of labor.’ "
Electric Shadow #2 finds Matt Zoller Seitz, Merlin Mann, David Loehr and I discussing the substance and style of Wes Anderson's films, particularly Fantastic Mr. Fox. This week's interview is with The Criterion Collection's Susan Arosteguy, producer of all Criterion special editions of Wes Anderson's films (the full, uncut interview is available as Screen Time #55). There's a Test Pattern with some deleted material, if you're into that.
Subscribe to the Electric Shadow Channel (iTunes/RSS) to get Electric Shadow, Screen Time interviews, and related Test Patterns all in the same feed. If you really want to put on your Bandit Hat, you could subscribe to the ESN Master Feed (iTunes/RSS).
Nearly all of Anderson's ouvre is available on DVD and (minus Zissou) Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection: Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, and (as of tomorrow, 18 February 2014) Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Moonrise Kingdom will get there eventually, and The Grand Budapest Hotel isn't yet in cinemas. Patience.
Roger Ebert on Yasujiro Ozu
More Wes Anderson
The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders
Screen Time #55 begins a long-in-the-planning series of interviews with the people behind The Criterion Collection. Susan Arosteguy and her colleagues do amazing preservation, restoration, and appreciation work, and it shows in their beautiful special edition releases. In particular, Susan's eye as a designer results in a widely-varied array of striking aesthetics in her releases.
Her latest Wes Anderson special edition, for Fantastic Mr. Fox, arrives in a Criterion Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format Edition tomorrow (18 February 2014).
Steven Soderbergh's Extension 765 shoppe (my arcane spelling not his) has added new shirts refencing Douglas Sirk's Written on the Wind and Don Siegel's magnificent Charley Varrick. The latter may include my favorite Walter Matthau line delivery in cinema history, when he says "... box the compass". To me and six others on the Internet, this is headline news. If I hadn't just incurred a pile of credit card debt starting my start up, I would've already ordered them. My birthday is tomorrow, you would think that I would know how to ask people for stupid things I don't need.
Soderbergh has also posted an update on his booze venture, his seen/red list for 2013 and an article about how Chinatown is as good or better than we think that it is, at once (and succinctly) assailing a culture of disease that has cropped up:
Let me just say I’m sick of people digging up obscure masterpieces designed to make me feel like a philistine, or, worse, arguing that an acknowledged masterpiece isn’t in fact a masterpiece at all, but the beneficiary of some collective cultural hypnosis. I’m going in the opposite direction: I’m going to call attention to a classic that, in my opinion, is as good--or even better--than we all think it is: Chinatown.
Read on for more, including footnotes that, by the estimation of my eyeballs, are as long as the "body text".
Stay "#&%!"-ed up, my friends.
I've just received a press release that not only acknowledges that The Wonder Years is coming to DVD in the second half of 2014, and it's going to retain the essential original soundtrack, the licensing of which has long-prevented the DVDs from happening. There's a conditional word in there, though:
As it did for China Beach, StarVista Entertainment/Time Life ispainstakingly securing the rights for virtually every song in The Wonder Years. From Cocker's theme song, to hundreds of other memorable and classic soul, rock and pop songs, including classics from The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison and many others, StarVista /Time Life recognizes the necessity to release the series as it was initially broadcast, un-edited and untouched from original broadcast masters.
We'll see if that means anything. The indication is that the lion's share of the music rights have already been secured, such that we may not notice one or two songs here or there.
StarVista/TimeLife has done some pretty solid work on China Beach, The Carol Burnett Show, especially Get Smart, and various others. You can sign up to be notified the moment there's a release date, price, and pre-order option.
It's going to be a hell of a year for TV on DVD & Blu-ray.
Merlin Mann joins John and I to talk about the X-Men and reboot/renumber our show about comics over on ESN, my new podcast network.
Subscribe to the show in iTunes or via RSS, or subscribe to the combined "channel" feed (links pending, check back), which includes Giant Size, uncut Artist Edition interviews, and Test Pattern pre- and post-shows in "canonical" (chronological) order. It turns out that there is a pre-show for the very first episode.
Here are a few recommendations based on books/trades/OGNs we discussed on the show.
Written by Brian Michael Bendis as one of the anchors for Marvel's "Marvel NOW!" initiative, the original X-Men from the 1960's come forward to the present, causing all manner of havoc. It is surprisingly easy to get into was a new reader, which is a testament to Bendis's strength as a writer.
Focusing on Cyclops's more militant X-Men group, including Magneto, Emma Frost, and Magik. We acknowledge that this one is had its ups and downs in certain ways (the stretch spent in Limbo is called out [even though I was fine with it -Meddling Moisés]), but it continues to be a very good (indispensable, really) companion to All-New X-Men. This is especially the case after the Battle of the Atom crossover concluded in late 2013.
Giant Size X-Men #1
We didn't actually talk about this one very much (expect that in the next X-Men episode), but it is referenced throughout. This 1980s reboot of the team was a big launching point, and remains one of the most accessible ways to get into the world.
Dubbed "the Nightcrawler book", this one is only three issues in at the time of this posting, but is loads of swashbuckling fun, and is written by one of our favorite writers, Jason Aaron (Thor: God of Thunder). The book follows an interesting combination of X-Men going to rescue Nightcrawler from the afterlife.
This yearly subscription service is growing by leaps and bounds every few months. For example, the aforementioned Amazing X-Men had its first issue made free on the service when the series launched.
Days of Future Past
As iconic as this series is, people often forget that it takes place over the span of two comic book issues. There's an X-Men movie with this as a subtitle coming out this year, and we figure that it might be on many to-read lists this year. It is not an ideal entry point, because it needs some context before it can work very well for you. This is a great example of how concentrated major storylines could be 20+ years ago.
God Loves, Man Kills
The fifth "Marvel Graphic Novel" is steeped in the 1980s: religious extremism, jingoism, and other unmistakable themes of the era. Like Days of Future Past before it, this one is a much better contextual read. It may not work as a perfect jumping in point, but it's pretty close. This thing bleeds civil rights allegory that is all over the X-Men canon, ever since their creation. The art, from pencils to inks to color to lettering, is absolutely beautiful. This is one of those X-Men stories that delivers on all fronts in every way that it can. You just have to be into this sort of story. Interestingly enough, it is directly referenced in Bendis' current X-Men runs on All-New and Uncanny.
The Dark Phoenix Saga
This is the biggie, the top dog, the one that has been adapted as often as the X-Men have crossed into other media (movies, animated TV shows, and so on). Jean Grey acquires some major powers all of a sudden, things go very far south, and the effects are far-reaching throughout X-Men history. Her character arc student out as a more complex female comic book character than (many would argue) had been seen before. Without spoiling the who, the what, and the when of it (the cover seems to spoil something), some major death occurs that goes on to define many aspects of the next three decades of the X-Men in various respects.
US viewers can watch this outstanding recent Donnie Yen movie (full title Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen) for free courtesy of the good folks at Well Go USA.
I'm not sure if I've seen Yen's fists faster, and I defy you to not smile at the Bruce Lee homage.
You can subscribe to feeds via RSS until iTunes gets around to adding us. There's a nice handful of content already up, both tiny and full-sized.
You might say "Giant-Sized"...
The first episodes of all shows ail be posting today, with second episodes hitting at the end of the week.
I thought I'd share some more details about my soon-to-launch little podcast network. All three shows (and two companion feeds) start the first week of February 2014, with new episodes posting weekly.
This post will be updated with info until the site launches at ESN.fm
When Screen Time went through a format overhaul, it transformed into what I'd wanted it to be all along (panel plus limited-length interview). That show about movies, TV, games, and "moving images on a glowing screen" is now Electric Shadow, which doubles as the signature branding of the new network as seen in the title of this post.
Electric Shadow is the original title I had pitched. It comes from a literal translation of the Chinese word for cinema. I wanted something evocative that bucked the trends seen in the names of other shows and publications dedicated to any of the above kinds of storytelling. Screen Time becomes the feed for the unedited, "director's cut" versions of the interviews that make up the back segment of Electric Shadow.
broadcasts live: Monday, 10 February 2014 at 11am CST
panel: David Loehr, Merlin Mann, and Matt Zoller Seitz
topic: Wes Anderson and Fantastic Mr. Fox (which is receiving a Blu-ray special edition release from Criterion on 18 February 2014)
Much like its most recent iteration on 5by5, this show also follows the same panel plus limited-length interview format as Electric Shadow, and will have its own "uncut interview" feed, probably called something like "Artist Edition". I have a few other ideas, but welcome suggestions.
panel: co-host John Gholson, David Sparks, and Casey Liss
topic: getting in or back into comics as an adult, reading recommendations
Thank You For Calling!
This will be more conversational, and looser in style. Some weeks will be one-on-one, some will be panels. Addressing sub-topics within the Customer Service industry is something I think has the legs of a long, long, long-running series. People who work in customer service, whether retail, call center, chat support, or whatever else are encouraged to email or leave a voicemail [(240) 285-9623] to tell their story on future episodes of the show.
More to come later this week on a variety of fronts. Thank you so much to everyone who has been so supportive so far.
I've consolidated almost all of the category and series links in the sidebar under one gigantic expandable features button. I resisted creating the various subcategories and sub- subcategories under it, but I may end up going back that route, especially since some more series will begin this year.
In Liu of multiple "deals" posts, I have opted to add text headings to referral links in the sidebar. The first I've added is "worth pre-ordering". This will revolve, as will the "already available" section, which will include three or four topically relevant things to get, based on post and podcast content. I'll be adding a dedicated Amazon referral store link to the sidebar as well. I want to make sure that the top level buttons are as few in number as possible.
Another thing that I've given thought to is actually using the Tumblr account that shares a name with this site. It would mostly be a way for people who live on Tumblr to follow this site in the way that they follow everything on Tumblr (through excerpted posts). I would occasionally post things that only appear on the Tumblr, too. For example, I would never put an animated GIF on this site, but that's what Tumblr was born to host. Well, it was made for that and Doctor Who slashfic.
One of my best friends, whom I met in college, introduced me to a ridiculous amount of things that I now dearly love, from Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension to the majority of John Carpenter's filmography. At one stage, Kirk Lawrence and his roommates called their rental house "Chez DeLorean". Kirk had some of the absolute best taste of any geek or nerd I've known. At one point, he worked in a record store, surrounded by the media he worshipped.
My now-wife (then-girlfriend) and I dropped in to his Halloween party one of the last years we lived in Tallahassee. I was dressed as Ed Wood, she as an Alfred Hitchcock Double feature (The Birds and Psycho). Wearing a 60's-style business outfit, she had a plastic knife (partially embedded) glued into her shirt on one side, and a black plastic bird (wings spread wide) on the other.
Kirk was dressed as RoboCop. He and his roommates made a labyrinth stretching from their garage into their backyard. It was great. He seemed a little worn out. Later in the night, he just kept vomiting and his head was killing him in a way not related to alcohol consumption. He had a brain tumor that had its tentacles in him like an angry monster from a Lovecraft story.
They shaved his hair off and cut his head open to take out what they could. They sealed him back up with a titanium plate on the inside. All of his friends cheered this as a silver lining: Kirk had become a Robocop-like icon of justice and good. A few of us collectively dubbed him reborn as Titanium Justice.
Back then, MySpace and LiveJournal was where people "hung out" online, with Facebook on the ascendance. We had a sort of support group of friends unofficially knit together. We'd buy him DVDs when he was in the hospital, One day, I put together a LiveJournal Group called Titanium Justice. The icon was the Robocop helmet photoshopped over his face.
Many cycles of hardcore treatment later, the brain cancer finally took him. Ever since, I've seen things like Watchmen and many others he would have wanted to see, and thought "I wish he could have seen…", and it goes the same way with rewatching favorites (Robocop especially), Blu-rays, and restorations.
One of my all-time favorite disc shops is Vinyl Fever, the iconic, now-closed shop Kirk worked at down in Tallahassee. Tallahasseans in the know called it "The Feve".
Knowing Kirk is the reason I'm as deeply into movies as I am. He's also most of the reason I spend more money than I probably should at used DVD/record stores. He taught me that discovery and presentation quality could be uniting, communal experiences in the way some people participate in their religions.
I miss "the good ol' days" not just because I miss him and because nostalgia is a human "thing", but because modern society has lost a lot of the joy in in-person, communal experiences that get to live within themselves in favor of constant broadcast and attention-seeking. I've changed the way I share and participate in (anti-) social media and my private life quite a bit over the last year. A lot of that has come from reflecting on friends I've lost to mortality, including Kirk, my brother, one of my mentors, and various others.
I've also doubled down on living up to a piece of North Florida resident George "P Funk" Clinton's wisdom that Kirk pulled out of his head one day:
"Give the people what they want, when they wants it…and they wants it all the time"
The new RoboCop transfer from a 4K remaster looks astonishingly good and is worth a reasonable price (like the $8 it cost its week of release). I'll post a screen grab comparison to the previous release soon.
If you really love RoboCop, note that the OOP Criterion DVD extras are all ported to the Blu-rays with the exception of the Criterion commentary. The Fox/MGM commentary features the same participants as the Criterion, but is a different recording entirely.