Thursday, February 27, 2014

Crime Alley: "True Detective", Female Characters, and the Art of Noir

Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey
If you're in any way a lover of the crime genre or a lover of good television, you can hardly be unaware of the near rhapsodic buzz attached to HBO's latest entry into the "best television series of all time" sweepstakes True Detective.

The series follows two Louisiana detectives, Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) as they pursue a murder case and their own personal demons over a twenty year period. This first season is only eight episodes long, and was created by novelist and television writer Nic Pizzolatto, with every episode directed by Cary Fukunaga. The idea is that the series is an anthology where the format is the star, with each season being its own self-contained story with completely different characters and cases.

Since its debut the series has earned a huge amount of praise from critics and almost instantaneous ratings success and devotion from viewers. But, as with all things that start off beloved in this modern age, if you get too much praise to early, that sparks the inevitable backlash. In the case of True Detective, it's a recent furor over its depiction (or lack thereof) of complex female characters. I had heard it mentioned here and there ever since the show debuted, but a recent article in the New Yorker by Emily Nussbaum really clarified the argument. Willa Paskin at Slate took the opposing view, and it's a similarly good read.

Of course, what every one's wondering is, "When's a white male going to weigh in on this argument about misogyny?" Rest easy everyone. I'll provide this all-important viewpoint on a woman's issue right now.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Fantastic Four" cast revealed?

It had been rumoured for a long time, but now Variety reports that the main cast has been pretty much set for 20th Century Fox's upcoming Fantastic Four reboot. The article claims that in addition to long rumoured Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm, the film will star Miles Teller as Reed Richards, Kate Mara as Susan Storm and Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm.
Slated to open June, 2015, the reboot will be directed by Josh Trank, who previously helmed the found footage superhero film Chronicle, from a script written by Simon Kinberg, who previously penned Sherlock Holmes and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

The casting of the film has been a source of controversy ever since Jordan was first linked to the role of Johnny Storm. Storm is a white character in the comics, and some fans complained that the casting of an African-American actor in the role was too far away from the original concept. I was not one of those people. I myself had no problem with Jordan's casting because he's a fantastic actor with a big career ahead of him and I can easily see him playing the role of Johnny Storm as he appears in the comics and just killing it. Johnny's skin colour seems to me in no way important to the character. He's a young, hot-headed lady-killer with an immature sense of humour. I don't see what part of that screams white or black. And such vehemence against his casting on the basis of his skin colour? I can't see how that isn't racist in some way.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Woody Allen, Certainty, and the Death of Nuance

Woody Allen
I have to begin this post by saying that I'm a Woody Allen fan. I have loved his films for a very long time, and I love them still. There is no way that I can claim not to have a bias in this issue. Unless you've been living in a cave for the last few days, you probably have seen the recent flurry of pieces dealing with accusations that Allen molested his daughter Dylan (now named Malone) in 1992. This was sparked just after the Golden Globes, where Mia Farrow and her son Ronan tweeted comments about Allen's alleged crimes after a tribute to him aired during the ceremony. The story exploded once the New York Times published a heart-wrenching essay written by Dylan Farrow about her claims against her father.
And then the Internet exploded into a massive argument, as the Internet is wont to do. At this point, it seems to me that popular culture in general has devolved into a less funny version of Even Stevphen from the Daily Show.   In this case, the opinion split into two categories, those certain Dylan's claims are true, and those certain that Allen is innocent until proven guilty.

I've thought about this issue for a while, with people who know I'm a fan asking me how I feel about this issue, as if my opinion even mattered. I decided to review all the facts I could find on the case, and I found myself reaching an opinion and even more interestingly, reaching an opinion on having an opinion in this age of blogs, tweets and anonymous Internet forums.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Welcome to Crime Alley with the Parker Novels!

Welcome to a new feature here at The Nerd Report called Crime Alley, where I'll be looking at the crime genre in all its varied forms, from books to movies to comics to TV shows to.....ballet, maybe? If you're a fan of crime stories, maybe this feature will give you a new little nugget to dive into. If you've read the odd mystery but aren't a huge devotee, maybe you'll find some new dark streets to wander down.

So, slam back a shot of whiskey, loosen your tie, put your feet up on your desk, and let's walk down Crime Alley.

In 1962, The Hunter was published, written by Richard Stark. A brutal, fast-paced thriller starring a professional thief named Parker who is betrayed by his fellow crooks during a heist and left for dead. We follow Parker as he cuts a bloody swath through the New York underworld to get revenge and the money owed to him.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Comic Reviews - Week of Dec. 4, 2013

Hi, folks!

Over at Nerds Unchained, my latest reviews are up, so head on over and check them out!

While you're there, please take a look at some of the other reviews on the site. If you're a huge comic fan there's some great insights. If you're thinking about getting into comics but don't know where to start, maybe you'll find a few books that tickle you're fancy. We review more than just superheroes over there.

Thanks, and here's my latest reviews:

X-Men Legacy # 21

Iron Man # 19

Secret Avengers #12

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Writing Is All, Like, Legitimate Now...

Hey all,

So, when you write a blog, you're always a little awed whenever anybody tells you they read it. You kind of figure you're going to be writing for yourself all the time. It's kind of insane to hear not only do people read your stuff, but some of them may actually like it.

So, it's with great pleasure, and  a little pride, that I can announce that I'm not a contributing writer for the web site Nerds Unchained. It's a new site that focuses on the world of comics, and I'll be writing reviews and possibly a few features for them. I'm really excited, they've got some great writers there, so please read their stuff too. You can't go wrong reading about great (and not-so-great) comics written by passionate people.

Here's the links to my first three reviews:

The Flash #25

All Star Western # 25

The Walking Dead #117

Friday, November 22, 2013

50 Years of Who - There's One Thing You Should Never Put in A Trap

Our celebration of 50 years of Doctor Who concludes with a classic clip from the Eleventh Doctor's era.

When Matt Smith was cast as David Tennant's successor there was some initial uproar from fans. Only 26, and a relative unknown, many took this as a sign that the series under new show runner Steven Moffat would take the show in teeny-bopper direction. Moffat shot back that Smith's take on the Doctor would silence all critics, describing the Eleventh Doctor as "bonkers" and praising Smith's ability to play an old man in young man's body.

When Smith's Doctor debuted, Moffat was proven entirely right. Smith immediately nailed the Doctor, creating a performance summed up by his assertion that he truly was "a madman with a box." Smith took his physicality for the Doctor from his favourite predecessor, Patrick Troughton, and used his own gift for physical comedy to give the Doctor a wild energy. His youth was never a factor for an instant, and the Eleventh Doctor's seeming flakiness cover up his wealth of experience.

Moffat also took the series away from the bombast and emotional spectacle of the Russell T Davies era, choosing instead to actually centre his arcs around time travel and multi-layered plotting. While at times it made some stories seem too complex for their own good, it also made time travel and its logistics the focus of the series in ways it had never been before. But, this was still Doctor Who, and it was still full of monsters, thrills and adventure. In the clip below, the Doctor faces off against the Weeping Angels, the most enduring monsters of the new series, and explains to them why going up against him is never healthy:

Tomorrow, November 23, 2013, my favourite TV show of all time turns 50 years old. It'll celebrate this momentous day with a live simulcast of a special episode, broadcast all over the world. That's something usually reserved for Superbowls and Oscar Nights. We'll see the Eleventh and Tenth Doctors team up to battle old foes, face old demons and friends, and Moffat asserts we'll see the series set up for the next 50 years ahead.

Not bad for a little show that started out in an obsolete studio with a tiny budget and big ideas.