Lawless

Although they are separated by months in the US two movies with very similar stories saw release in Australian theaters this weekend: Lawless and Killing Them Softly ( see Here for my review of the later). Both are slightly skewed iterations of that inherently American genre the gangster film that were scripted and shot by Australians that are inexorably linked in my mind due to the synchronicity of their careers and their shared love of Australis’ original Terra Mr.Nick Cave: Andrew Dominik and John Hillcoat, my two favorite local directors. You could say that the stakes are high, that this week should be an event but my reactions have rarely been so staid.
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Killing Them Softly

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford¬†is one of my all time favorite films in part because it is one of the most beautiful that I ave ever seen, but this, Aussie Andrew Dominik’s follow up, this is one of the ugliest. The opening sequence conveys this instantly to all the relevant senses; inter-cutting screeches from speeches with shots from a stuttering steadi-cam as it exits a tunnel into a tornado of trash; it’s like childbirth, but messier.

The film is set in New Orleans, arguably the most beautiful and the ugliest of all America’s cities and the way that Andrew uses it lends his film a post-apocalyptic feel; it is after all a city that all but went through one (and sadly I have seen in person many of the sights at which the film was shot, still as shattered as they are here). It’s not a natural disaster that he is depicting with this movie though, it’s a thoroughly man made one, the result of our species selfishness and sadly this is just as real as Katrina.

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Boardwalk Empire – Blue Bell Boy

Boardwalk Empire- Blue Bell Boy (Filthsposition)

This review is late enough that I’m arguably embarrassing myself by submitting it at all. But it’s just been a particularly busy week for me, and I feel like I owe it to myself to get this thing posted, better late than never. So then- Blue Bell Boy. Did it match last week’s masterful episode? No. However this was still a pretty darn good hour of TV. Where to start? Well, first things first, this is a show that simply must be watched in HD. Oh boy, is this a treat in HD.

The management of the ensemble cast is still being flawlessly done this season as far as I see it. I think having a satisfying episode of half the cast each week definitely beats the alternative of an unsatisfying episode with the full cast (the latter being particularly problematic back in Season 1). I’m fine with only seeing Van Alden every second week nowadays, for example. And I have no complaints of great characters like Chalky, Capone and Richard Harrow only existing on the fringes of the show. I don’t see the issue with every character only being a small part of the larger tapestry when just about every single character is just so damn good. Although I wouldn’t complain if they kill a few more characters off this season, for dramatic purposes and with the additional bonus of streamlining things a bit more.

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The April release of The Avengers saw the culmination of all of Marvel Studio’s cinematic endeavors, all of their creator-owned comic book adaptations had been created from a cohesive cloth and here they were coming together in one literal big tent title. Their rival on the comic racks DC has struggled to stay competitive – [...]

Punk Rock Jesus #4

 

And with that the series lived up to its title. Chris going old-school Punk Rock on the Christians in his life is what we have wanted to see all this time and Sean Murphy delivered it most satisfyingly; so satisfyingly that I would almost have be sated with this as a series finale and yet we are still only two thirds of the way through the story. The pacing of Punk Rock has always been a bit peculiar with whole swathes of an issue going past without much in the way of story progression and then in a single splash years will fly by and major moments skimmed over.

Though this is as much a positive as it is a problem since structurally the series follows the rhythms of real life ( or real punk music): it randomly circles around a safe central core ( a cohesive melody) until a massive ultimatum hits (the breakdown (the drop for those into Dubstep)) shifts the standard and resets to that tidal equilibrium (back to the chorus, back to the bridge). It’s taken me this long to get into the flow but with issue four I was feeling it in force, moving through me like a great song or spirit of the lord might.¬†Reading Punk Rock Jesus has becomes something of a religious experience.

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Batman #13

Scott Snyder had written a large number of stunning scripts before he was given Batman, some of them even containing a different Dark Knight in the case of that Detective Comics run, but his name was mostly made within the confines of a single genre of comic: horror. Severed, American Vampire and Swamp Thing to name a few are all books known for the creepy, creative ways in which the characters spill blood and yet the brilliant first year of his run on this biggest of books was almost free of the stuff, dark but not disturbing. Issue Thirteen changes this almost instantly, kicking off the second year with one of the scariest – in terms of both suspense and squeems – Batman books ever written. The only reason that I say ‘one of’ is because I know that he has sent of several more in this arc, this single run is sure to make up most of the top ten.

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Before Watchmen: Doctor Manhattan #2

Wow! What a week for comics this has been. In one universe the Before Watchmen books were a bust, boring, but that’s certainly not the one that we live in; though I was worried it would be after issues like Nite-Owl #1. By the time that this issue started though I was thoroughly on board and the fact that it began in such a brilliantly brainy manner only helped to hook me further. Then came the cliffhanger and I was as compelled as I was confused.
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Homeland – Beirut is Back

Did I say that this show is slow burn? Building up speed? Well sorry, I was clearly wrong on that one. For this second season Gordon and Gansa said they all but abandoned the scripts of the series on which the show is based, telling instead the stories that they want to tell and watching Beirut is Back you can tell. Everything that happens in this episode is exactly what a fan of the show would want to have happen, only it occurs far earlier than the most optimistic of us could have hoped; in the second episode of the second season rather than say the last of the seventh. Normally even a rapid paced show would stretch out its central tensions but here they were simply snapped. There is no arbitrary fuse to be found, the drama stemming from a trigger switch instead.

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Dexter – Sunshine and Frosty Swirl

Last week Dexter surprised me by being both viscerally satisfying and actually kind of objectively good but that was a fluke, right? Surely the show couldn’t achieve that kind of awesomeness a second time, it had to have been an accident and not a planned or purposeful change in the program and this was going to be the episode to show that, right? Surprisingly not. While this second episode didn’t quite work as well as the premiere it was still a solid hour, something that the show has lacked now for seasons; there were however a number of issues that I hope the writers head off faster than Dex does his prey lest the joys of these two weeks melt away like the titular ice cream.

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Trailer Trash – Lone Ranger Not Fade Away

You know the drill by now; trailers and thoughts on and from the two films in the title to follow after the jump.

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