Thursday, February 25, 2010

Marvel Leaks its List of Possible Caps

Over at the Hollywood Reporter's Heat Vision blog, they've leaked a list of actors that Marvel is considering for the role of Steve Rogers/Captain America, and it's kind of....well.....odd.

While both Johnston and Marvel have long asserted that they were looking at either an unknown or fresh face in the role (largely to minimize costs as Cap will be appearing not just in his own franchise, but in The Avengers films and with possible cameos in other Marvel franchises like Thor or Iron Man), the list still has fans a little wary, mainly due to the unknown acting talent and at least one seemingly bizarre choice.

John Krasinski, the actor who plays Jim on NBC's The Office, is on the list of actors coming in for a screen test. It's an odd choice, for while the actor is certainly charming and on the rise, he's known almost entirely for comedic roles and hardly fits the "look" of Steve Rogers.

Also on the list are:

Michael Cassidy (Smallville)

Patrick Flueger (The 4400, Brothers)

Scott Porter (NBC's Friday Night Lights)

and Wilson Bethel (HBO's Generation Kill)

Oddly enough, while everyone else certainly look more like the comic book version of Rogers, I think Krasinski may be a very good choice. He was excellent in the underrated dramedy Away We Go, and according to Mrs. Nerdlinger, was the best thing (other than Streep) in It's Complicated. He has proven he was small-screen likability and has played both romantic moments and moments of pathos verging on drama on The Office. He was in a sub-par movie called Leatherheads that didn't really work, but he was quite good in it and it proved he could handle close to the period we're talking about with Captain America. most importantly, he may enough audience familiarity that he could hold the big screen, something you just won't know with total unknown.

Who knows? Marvel has done fairly well with their casting so far, but this one will be a real test. Cap has to be a very commanding figure, and may be the toughest boots to fill.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Comic Observations: Action Comics #1 = $1 Million

My friend Newman has pointed out an interesting news item to me. Apparently, in a private sale held yesterday, a copy of 1938's Action Comics #1, featuring the first appearance of Superman, sold for a cool one million bucks. This marks the most a vintage comic book has ever sold for.

a news item on the story, for those interested in the facts.

Now, as that story reports, only about 100 copies of Action #1 exist, and of those, only two are in reasonably good condition. Apparently, this one that sold yesterday is one of those two.

Good idea? Well, seeing as how no comic book sale, even of exceptionally rare ones, has broken the $500 grand mark, this is pretty big news for the vintage comic book market. The second highest comic book sale ever is of Marvel Comics #1, featuring the first appearance of the Golden Age Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner, which went for $350,000. Heck, Batman's first appearance sold for $278, 000, and it was in comparable condition to the Action #1 that just broke the record.

So, in closing, I think it's possible the buyer was a tad suckered. Now, who has a history of an insane Superman obsession, lots of cash, and a history of fool hardy purchases such as castles and whatnot?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Comic Observations: The New DC Gets a Dream Team

As I reported a little while back, DC Comics was recently made a division of Warner Bros, after long being a separate subsidiary of Time Warner. At the time, Warner exec Diane Nelson was named President of the newly created DC Entertainment, while DC's then President and Publisher Paul Levitz took a step down.
Well, Nelson set the comic world abuzz today with the announcement of the team that would be overseeing the day to day operations of DC Entertainment.

Current Executive Editor Dan Didio will become a Co-Publisher, sharing that spot with former Wildstorm imprint editorial director and legendary artist Jim Lee, who will be the other Co-Publisher. Finally, DC's long-time top level writer, Geoff Johns, will take on the new role of Chief Creative Officer.

The trio represent a sort of dream team of creative talent at DC, with Lee and Johns especially being highly regarded within in the industry.

Lee broke out as one of, if not the, singular talents of the 1990's during a stint at Marvel working on the X-Men. He left Marvel along with other highly popular artists to form Image Comics, which nearly rivalled DC and Marvel until egos and delays nearly sank the fledgling company. Lee eventually came to rest at DC, being given the opportunity to run his own imprint, Wildstorm, while pencilling some big hits for the publisher, notably the Hush storyline for Batman, the For Tomorrow Superman storyline, and teaming with Frank Miller for All Star Batman and Robin.

Geoff Johns broke out as the co-writer of a highly successful JSA relaunch in the mid nineties, along with a critically acclaimed long-time run on The Flash. But he hit the comics stratosphere with his Green Lantern: Rebirth mini series and the following ongoing Green Lantern series, which quickly became DC's top title. He has been one of the driving forces behind such blockbuster events for DC like Infinite Crisis, 52, The Sinestro Corps War and the current Blackest Night event, while also continuing his practise of reinvigorating faltering characters with Flash: Rebirth and as the head writer of the Superman line.

So, all in all, this is big news for DC, and a sign that they are serious about getting their house in order and ready to take on industry leader Marvel.

The Top Ten Coolest American TV Themes - Part 2

And today we present my final five coolest TV themes in American TV.

5 - Taxi

Taxi was simply a great show. It was funny, it had tremendous heart and it was blessed with perhaps one of the greatest casts ever. Seriously, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Taxi. Those are the three most absurdly talented sitcom casts of all time. And the theme played against comedy by going for pathos and a tender tone. Brilliant.

4 - Magnum, P.I.

The most over the top macho theme song ever. Look at the moustache to non-moustache ratio in that cast. You've got guns, a sweet sports car, a helicopter, a girl's ass and guys digging a hole. That's some sort of testosterone super-band.

3 - Mission: Impossible

Admit it; when you find yourself doing something a little sneaky, you find yourself humming this tune. It's one of the coolest songs ever put on the tube, and the design of the titles themselves, with the quick cuts of the night's episode, gets you ready for the ultra-cool adventures of the IMF.

2 - The Twilight Zone

That guitar riff is both simultaneously kind of cool and austere, and so creepy as to defy description. It, combined with the odd imagery and the distinctive monologue intoned by series genius Rod Serling, is truly one of the all time classic themes.

1 - Hawaii Five-O

The pounding drums, the surf rock and that hyper kinetic zoom into the balcony where tough guy Jack Lord whips around to deliver that classic McGarrett hard ass look, and all that follows combines into a pulse elevating sense of excitement at the night's case. Book 'em, Dano, indeed.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Top Ten Coolest American TV Themes - Part 1

I'm feeling a little nostalgic these days, looking for a trip down memory lane. I was thinking the other day, while watching House, that it's one of the few American TV shows with an actual theme song anymore. That kind of sucks, actually, so let's return to those thrilling days of yesteryear and enjoy part one of my personal top ten old theme songs:

10 - Barney Miller

Barney Miller Opening Theme - The funniest home videos are here

Okay, first off, that bass line opening is super-cool. And there's something just ballsy about making a sitcom about the corruption-rife, totally broke, drowning in crime NYPD of the 1970s and NOT having it be too depressing for words.

9 - The Streets of San Francisco

And then there's this theme, which I think just kicks ass with its brassy horns and stern announcer. How is it possible Karl Malden used to be kind of badass?

8 - Three's Company (sort of)

Yeah, yeah, this isn't the actual opening. I couldn't find it. It's bizarre. Still, this put you perfectly in the mood for this frankly ridiculous sitcom.

7 - Peter Gunn

Sorry, you'll have to wait til the end to get the theme, but it's worth it. The epitome of laid back cool from Henry Mancini.

6 - Knight Rider

And our first entry where the them song if infinitely more sophisticated, atmospheric and compelling than the show itself. The synth stuff is awesome, and makes the show (which if you watch it now seems to be written for the borderline retarded) so fucking cool.

See you soon for the final five!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Films of the Aughts

So, the Aughts. Is that what we're going with? Because, technically, we're still in the 2000s, right? I prefer calling them the Double Zeroes, anyone with me on that? No? Sticking with the Aughts, I guess.

Anyway, /Film has a really well done montage (with perhaps some questionable music choices) overlooking the films of this past decade, and shit, there were some exceptional films. And some questionable ones. Still, really well done.

the films of the 2000s from Paul Proulx on Vimeo.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Comic Observations: Tons of Captain America News!

Over the weekend, while doing press for his godawful-looking film The Wolfman, director Joe Johnston apparently couldn't keep his trap shut about his next flick, The First Avenger: Captain America.

First off, he confirmed that, as written now, the script will feature a rather lengthy appearance by Cap's WWII super-team The Invaders. According to an article at, Johnston has said the classic team "will be in the entire second half" but did not reveal which members would appear, saying only that there will be six Invaders in the film. Around the same time, he revealed that he's aiming to cast an unknown as Cap/Steve Rogers and surround him with more recognizable faces in supporting roles. He also said that, as the bulk of the film takes place in Europe, he'd be shooting in London. AICN is also reporting that the bad guy of the film will be The Red Skull.

What's more evil than Nazi? Nazi Vampire, bitches.

Finally, Hero Complex has a great little interview with Johnston about the costume that the prospective Cap will don in the film, and he reveals that Cap will wear two; one closely based on the uniform as it appears in the comics, and one more modified for film.

Here's some excerpts:

The costume is a flag, but the way we're getting around that is we have Steve Rogers forced into the USO circuit. After he's made into this super-soldier, they decide they can't send him into combat and risk him getting killed. He's the only one and they can't make more. So they say, 'You're going to be in this USO show' and they give him a flag suit. He can't wait to get out of it...So he's up on stage doing songs and dances with chorus girls and he can't wait to get out and really fight. When he does go AWOL, he covers up the suit but then, after a few things happen, he realizes that this uniform allows him to lead. By then, he's become a star in the public mind and a symbol. The guys get behind him because he embodies something special...He realizes the value of the uniform symbols but he modifies his suit and adds some armor, it will be closer to the Cap costume in some of the comics in more recent years...this approach, it's the only way we could justify ever seeing him on a screen in tights, with the funny boots and everything. The government essentially puts him up there as a living comic-book character and he rips it off and then reclaims some of its imagery after he recognizes the value of it. We think it's the best way to keep the costume and explain it at the same time.

I actually think this is a solid approach. Look, translating comic book super hero costumes straight to screen has never worked. Well, once. It worked for Christopher Reeve, but he's the stellar exception. Okay, and Iron Man, but he's a dude in a robot suit, not tights. You have to modify these things, and this at least seems to make sense.

rest of the the news, The Invaders, the Skull. Man, they sound kick-ass. Done properly, the Red Skull might be the only comic book villain that looks better on film.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mad Mel Beyond Sugar-Tits

Well, you have to give Mel Gibson a little bit of credit. He had come this close to successfully rejuvenating his once mighty career. Then he made the unforgivable mistake of calling WGN reporter Dean Richards an "asshole" and it all, apparently, has come tumbling down once again. See, it's odd, because the only bad thing I see about the "asshole" comment is that Richards clearly appears to be a douche bag, so Mel just got the phylum wrong.

Here's the video of the whole thing, for anyone who hasn't seen it, mostly because I think it's funny:

Look, put yourself in Mel's place for a second (and also pretend you're not a borderline insane anti-Semitic with an obsession with ancient Catholicism). If you finished that exact interview and thought the camera was off, the first thing you would say about that guy would be, "Asshole". What, you think he'd simply chuckle and say, "Wow, that canny journalist almost painted me into a corner about my insanely erratic behaviour! Bravo, scoop, bravo." This is a guy who drove drunk, got pulled over, and called his arresting officer "Sugar-Tits" after spouting anti-Semitic ephitets that would make Hitler say, "Dude, dial it back a bit."

The real offence in that interview is the way Mel just sort of casually dismissed all the crazy-ass stuff that has gone on over the last four years. I'll allow that probably every single press interview he's doing for his new movie would be fraught with questions about these things and whether audiences would accept him again, and Mel is probably beyond tired of defending and apologizing, but shit, it's stuff he did, right? And surely those questions are fair game. I think they probably deserve a better answer than, "It was a long time ago, and I did all the sorries they asked me to, so just never mention it again." Nope. Not after Sugar-Tits.

The odd thing is, Mel's pseudo-comeback has made me hungry for early Mel; when we didn't know he was crazy. So, I went to Blockbuster to pick up Mad Max and The Road Warrior, two of the most kick-ass movies ever made. My Blockbuster didn't have a copy of The Road Warrior. As I looked at the empty space on the Action shelf where the film should rest, I thought that it was impossible; the lights were playing tricks with my eyes. That's like not having Raiders of the Lost Ark. I went up front, and asked the guy if they carried it. He, a nerd like myself, snorted back a laugh and said, "Of course, let me look it up."

A moment later he said, in shocked voice, "We don't carry it." I just shook my head at him. He couldn't meet my eyes as I left.

I went to Best Buy, where once again I found a copy of Mad Max, but no love for Road Warrior. Once agian, I asked a clerk if they had a copy, maybe in the back somehwere. Maybe they hid a copy to protect children, the elderly and people with weak hearts from the sheer ass-kicking vibrations that emanate from all the car wrecks, feral boys, gyro-copters and butt-less chap clad Australian post-apocalyptic punks contained therein.

The clerk had to ask me the name of the movie twice. I laughed, thinking he must be in jest, and said, "Dude, The Road Warrior." He continued to look at me blankly.

Then he said, "Is it a car movie?"

I replied, "Are you fucking kidding me?"

At that point, I was asked to leave.

So maybe the Mel I grew up with is gone forever. The Mel who gave guys a choice to saw through their hand or blow up. The Mel who beat Gary Busey so hard he lost his mind. The Mel who went beyond Thunderdome. Well, as all the children said, "We don't need another hero."

Monday, February 1, 2010

My Oscar Nomination Predictions

Tomorrow morning, the 2009 Academy Award Nominations will be announced. I usually don’t do predictions on nominations, but this year, I’m feeling lucky. Let’s see how good my instincts are:

Best Picture:
A Single Man
An Education
District 9
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Up In The Air

Best Director:
Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker
James Cameron – Avatar
Lee Daniels – Precious
Jason Reitman – Up In The Air
Quentin Tarantino – Inglourious Basterds

Best Actor:
Jeff Bridges – Crazy Heart
George Clooney - Up In The Air
Colin Firth - A Single Man
Morgan Freeman - Invictus
Jeremy Renner - The Hurt Locker

Best Actress:
Sandra Bullock – The Blind Side
Helen Mirren – The Last Station
Carey Mulligan – An Education
Gabourey Sidibe – Precious
Meryl Streep – Julie & Julia

Best Supporting Actor:
Woody Harrelson – The Messenger
Alfred Molina – An Education
Christopher Plummer – The Last Station
Stanley Tucci – The Lovely Bones (or Julie & Julia)
Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress:
Marion Cotillard – Nine
Vera Farmiga – Up In The Air
Anna Kendrick – Up In The Air
Julianne Moore – A Single Man
Mo’Nique – Precious

Let’s see how I do. And share your predictions in comments if you’re so inclined.

Is Miramax dead?

On January 28, 2010, it was announced that, after 31 illustrious years, Miramax Studios' offices were closing their doors. The studio that had pretty much single handedly shepherded the independent film revolution in America during the 1980s and and 1990s, and had brought a whole heck of a lot of foreign films to American cinemas, was seemingly dead.

It had been a short, if exceptional life. Miramax was founded in 1979 by two brash, apparently socially maladjusted movie fans named Harvey and Bob Weinstein. They named their studio after their parents, Miriam and Max, and it was originally little more than a U.S. distributor for overseas films. Their first minor success was distributing a series of concert films to benefit Amnesty International that were called The Secret Policeman's Balls.

Soon, however, they were acquiring both innovative and important foreign releases such as My Left Foot and Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, as well as picking up American independent films like sex, lies and videotape. They exploded as a major new force in American film when they released some major hits that truly began the independent film revolution in earnest; The Crying Game, Clerks and Reservoir Dogs.

Their willingness to take a chance on untested films and directors, as well as their marketing savvy, made the Weinsteins the go to guys for independent film makers. They were also legendary for their massive tempers, equally sizable egos, and willingness to re cut foreign (or even home-grown) films to suit their liking.

Still, they managed to release a stunning series of groundbreaking, innovative films. Pulp Fiction, The English Patient, Chasing Amy, Kids, Heavenly Creatures, Shakespeare in Love and Chicago are just some of their most lauded and award-winning films.

In 1993, Miramax was bought by Disney, and many feared that the Mouse would strangle the once fierce iconoclasts. They would clash over the years; the Weinsteins would not use any Disney funds to release and distribute Kids, they created their own special company to release Fahrenheit 9/11 and Disney and the brothers clashed hugely over Dogma. In the end, creative differences did spell the end; reportedly the Weinsteins never found a way to work cordially with Michael Eisner. This clash of personality led to the brothers leaving the company they founded in 2005.

To many, that was the end. The Weinsteins left and took the film maker most identified with Miramax, Quentin Tarantino, with them. They formed the The Weinstein Company, or TWC. As for Miramax, it struggled along, still managing to release some great films (The Queen, Gone Baby Gone, No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood, City of Men). The brothers' new company has released some good films that were well-received (Transamerica, The Reader) but aside from the recent Inglourious Basterds, has shown none of their old spark.

So, does the recent closure mean that Miramax is gone forever? Hardly. The studio still has a number of films to release over the next two years, and its library of films is incredibly lucrative and impressive. If there's ever a change over at Disney, and some of the bad taste from days of tussling with the Weinstein's is forgotten, I bet we'll see it get up and running again. But, for now, at least, those days of getting excited at the possibilities of a film just by the sight of the Miramax logo at the top of the trailer seem to be over. More's the pity.