Thursday, April 29, 2010

Happy Hour Movie Review: Kick-Ass

Reporting live from the Loving Cup in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where the happy hour is all you can drink Miller High Life, well liquor, and wine from 6-9. There's also killer $2 sliders and tacos.

Beer #1.

I just got back from Union Square, where I watched Kick-Ass, the newest entry in the comicbook superhero action genre. Unlike most other superhero movies, this isn't a DC or Marvel creation (per se), it's the creation of the mad Scot, Mark Millar, who's been on a streak with controversial mainstream (Ultimates, Fantastic Four) and independent (Chosen, Wanted) comic book works, and the Marvel progeny John Romita Jr., who's made his name on Spider-Man & Daredevil, but has drawn it all.

Millar and Romita Jr. released the comic series through Marvel's creator owned imprint, Icon. I heard it was originally pitched as a movie, but when they couldn't get any bites, they went and did it as a comic, which of course got Hollywood interested (surprisingly seeing as Wanted, Millar's Top Cow series, was a bomb at the box office).

Matthew Vaughn (L4yer Cake) directed it, and it was a fairly independent production, all things considered. Which makes sense when you witness the carnage that they pull off in the movie, and the indie comic cred (non-partisan to DC or Marvel), with Dark Horse posters in the local diner/comic store (why don't these exist? Who wants to open one with me?)

I'll save the spoilers for later, but right now i'd just like to say how well crafted a film it is. It has moments where it "jumps the shark" or gets a bit heavy handed with the "comic book movie" tropes, like the narration text boxes that read MEANWHILE, or the motion comic origin of Nic Cage's 'Big Daddy' character. The former happens only once or twice, while the latter was just so cool I didn't mind it. Very awesome seeing a 3D rendering of JR Jr.'s artwork.

Beer #2

Big Lebowski starts up on the wall, projected while Motown and Soul pipes in from everywhere. I've ordered sliders, one chicken & one burger, just to start. I actually really love this place, nice dark atmosphere, great music, always a classic film playing (last week was The Graduate which was appropriate for my viewing on (500) Days of Summer the other day.

But back to Kick-Ass. I've never actually read the comic, and rather than read it before the movie to be that much cooler, if only in my own mind, I decided i'd go in blind & dumb, and judge it on its own merits as a film. It's so rare that I get to do that with mass media comicbook projects, so I cherish every opportunity.

I have it ready to read and will follow this up with a review of that in a few days. But for now, the movie was a lot to digest. It defied conventional formula, although it did have its standard action movie and superhero moments. But I found myself unsure of the direction and plot of the movie, which is also a rarity after seeing almost every worthy (and many unworthy) action movie, foreign or domestic.

Speaking of foreign movies, normally I am drawn to Asian cinema as they have this quality, this boldness and visceral feel to them that make me, force me really, to acknowledge the screen violence that most American movies have left me numb to. There's a rawness and imaginative aspect to their films that really sparks my creativity and inspires me.

Sliders. 2. Beef & Chicken.

I try a bite of the chicken one. So good. It's small but so tasty. A slice of avacado on top, with a piece of cheese. I'm not quite good enough to place what kind. And some sort of sauce that just adds that touch to it. Nom. And the size makes you really stop and enjoy each bite, rather than slave over massive mastication. I stretch that one into four bites and each one is equally satisfying.

A bite of the half a slice of pickle cleanses the palate, reading me for the burger. I save that one for second because it's just that kick-ass, for lack of a better term. A sip of beer and I'm ready to nom. A perfect piece of bacon juts out on either side, the meat just charred enough, a tad dry, and flavored with epic awesomeness.

A girl with awesome hair and glasses (prescription or not? I vote not, though she has a Alternative Nation Kennedy vibe as I wear my oversived ratty sweater I somehow picked up in my youth in the 90's) sits down at the bar a few stools away. I glance up at the dude, and somehow know everything will be okay. We all abide.

I finish the beer and hope that the swank bartender that thinks he's working at a hotel bar serving drinks up to a hipster Humphrey Bogart notices and gives me another. A nod, a point, a mumbled phrase, the transaction is complete. I have more beer.

Beer #3.

Two girls sit down on the other side of me, two stools over, and order their drinks. I polish off the slider, enjoying every moment as it passes over my teeth and brushes up against my tongue. Wait a second, John's texted me. Allow me to respond.

John: What are you doing?

Kurt: At Loving Cup in Bk. Drinking & eating in Wburg. Prob going to a beer garden on LES at 9.

I'll be meeting Lia & Mike who I work with at Lorilei's down on Staton? Or is it Rivington? I know the area, a German bar with massive beers that list percentages next to the absurd names. There's an awkward exchange with Retro Bartender and 90's MTV Kennedy; she ordered sliders and tacos came instead. I almost take the tacos. Instead I make a lowkey gesture and wait til later to order them.

Back to Kick-Ass, part two. It was violent. People got cut. Lots of knife action, a ton of blatant headshots, and brutal beatings. Every action scene drew you in and satified you, whether you were watching Kick-Ass take a hit, and another, and another, and get back up to crack someone else with one of his batons, or you were watching Hit Girl flip through the air, gunning down thugs.

I forgot what beer I'm on, not that it matters. Did I get a new one? Ahh, whatevs. Did I mention that I love that Kick-Ass costume? I totally do. It's ugly and awesome all at the same time. Part Olympic event apparel and part retro Kirby-esque design. Green with track suit lined yellow.

John: I'm at a bar in soho drinking frustrations away. I can always meet up with you-let me know.

Kurt: Dude, totally. Best drink I've had in over a year right now. If you want to meet me in the LES, I'm just meeting two co-workers for some beers.

That's a lot of backstory into my life right there, but suffice to say it involves my horrific living situation and Lady Gaga's DJ. At least James Brown's 'Make it Funky' has come on. James Brown has always made me feel better ever since I saw the Blues Brothers as a child.

Maude Lebowski is lowered from her harness where she flies through the apartment throwing paint at a canvass. Fucking Julianne Moore rules. Go through her IMDB and watch it all. It's all quality. The fact that she's chill and cool, so I hear, and can play a total goofball with a Boston accent as on 30 Rock, well, that's the icing.

But I digress. Nicolas Cage. He ruins everything you like about him with a certain role (Ghost Rider) and then can just kill it with another that makes you love him (Adaptation, Raising Arizona). His turn as Big Daddy makes you kind of love him again. Bad moustached daddy to young Hit Girl, he puts on a Ward Cleaver "aww shucks" sensibility when acting with his daughter, channels Adam West when in costume, and then delivers in dramatic turn in the inbetween spots.

Beer #4?

I ordered tacos. One chicken, one beef. John texted back. Gotta look up the address before I send it to him, so let's finish up this review shall we?

McLovin nails the rich kid, stuffed up nose, wannabe whiny boy without every becoming a caricature. In fact, none of these characters (except the love interest who thinks Kick-Ass' secret identity is gay), ever fall into over-the-top, cartoonish misrepresentations of actual people, but you're still aware this is a world seperate from our own.

Real world violence rules apply, but it also slips into stylized killing strokes without missing a beat. And it all satisfies. A good action scene should snag your attention, give you chills, and the make you go 'Oooooh' or 'Ackk!"


They appear small but that is so utterly deceptive. They are damn filling. One bite of the chicken taco, some sort of sauce drizzled over it, and I remember why I enjoy eating sometimes. Every bite is damn good. A tad spicy, a little bland, the soft taco shells are perfect. A bit of fresh salsa on top, all green and chopped up.

All the performances in Kick-Ass were great, but whatever his name is who plays the lead was outstanding. His voice cracks in just the right way, he can shift from total dork (convincingly, and I'm a harsh judge as I grew up with true dorks, dweebs & weirdos) to heroic with just a costume change. The real world, pop culture mentions are great. A Myspace page to advertise his heroic services? Of course.

Beef taco time. It's gotten a tad cold as I typed away, front windows still open as the sun goes down. I hope you appreciate this, damn you. I definitely need to finish this taco and then break the seal. If this is beer four then my $12 has already paid for my buzz. Next up is whiskey.

The girls have cleared the bar, everyone's met friends her and engage in conversation where I hear "Do you like Animal Collective?" Yeah, about three years ago, which was still way too late. Missed em when they palyed South Street Seaport for free too dammit. But yeah, they're alright considering no one asked me.

Shit, bathroom break.

Whiskey #1 when I get back. Now the drunks gets going. But yeah, Kick-Ass was pretty...kick ass? It had violence, drama, wish fulfillment, was really well directed, never got too gimmicky. It had its own universe which begs to be explored further. Red Mist was originally set up as the villain of the sequel so I recently read. Could be good.

Watching McLovin and the other dude battle it out like two comic geeks would actually fight (I should know, I did it with Tim often when we were teenagers) as the young girl from (500) Days of Summer did some of the most impressive fighting moves I've seen in an American film ever.

And that's the controversy right? Extreme violence committed by an 11 year old. Is it right? Should Nic Cage be okay with shooting a child? Is it okay that the final battle is a brutal bruhaha between a badass Mark Strong bald mafioso and the "cute-as-a-button" girl that I don't know her name? It did feel a little odd, but it played into that wish fulfillment badass killer instinct. Girls are always going to be portrayed as more Kick Ass. (See Mr. & Mrs. Smith)

I prob need a smoke, as I have 25 mins left of this happy hour. I guess I can hold out long enough to finish this review. It was fucking awesome. It was a pretty decent movie, it had satisfyingly violent scenes, played up the comicbook vibe and never got too predictable.

It was a good movie, a badass violent action movie, and oh yeah, it was a pretty honest superhero movie. It really makes me curious what the comic is like. I read a Body Bags One-Shot by Jason Pearson today and it totally prepared me for what I was going to see tonight.

Cartoonish violence that still held an impact as shit hit the fan and got ridiculous, it still held a human aspect to it that never let it get to the realm of unreasonable, even as Kick-Ass flies in with a gatling gun jetpack (I told you there'd be spoilers...)

Whiskey #2.

I'm just about done here. I ate my food. I killed time/my bitter loneliness, by writing this review. The movie was good. The fact that it wasn't a mainstream superhero book is impressive. Millar's second Hollywood movie with a director that is pretty rad (see Nightwatch & Daywatch for the director of Millar's other concept WANTED) is significantly better than his first, even though it explores the same themes (totaly loser becomes badass).

What other comic book writer can say that he's got two of the most inventive action movies put out by Hollywood in the past decade, aka ever, to his credit? He sat down and wrote those scenes, that an artist drew, then they sold it to a producer, who hired a director, then casted it and shot the damn thing, and both are (fairly) close to the originals.

At least I assume so as I prepare to read Kick-Ass: the comic. Well, that's enough from me. 13 mins left to happy hour, go see Kick-Ass if you even remotely like superheroes or action movies, as it's one of the best that have ever been put out.

Thank that insane Scotsman and the NY ginzo creative team.


Mercury University

So I want to try and pitch this to DC as a back-up or as a pretige edition maxi-series, something like 12 issues.

Where do superspeedsters go to learn the ropes? At Mercury University, a school at the end of time, DC 1,000,000's universe.

It'll follow the adventures of Max Allen, the son of the great Bart Allen, the Flash of the 21st Century, an era that is revered in Flash history. If Jay Garrick is Greek Myth, Barry Allen is Classic Literature, and Wally West the Pulp Paperback, the Bart Allen's life as the Flash is the thing of Classic Rock Pop History.

Max has lived as Kid Flash, sidekicking to his dad for awhile, and is now of an age to attend the superspeed school on Mercury in the distant future. Young, and still somewhat new, we get to learn who Max is outside the costume in an environment where everyone is the Flash, living between seconds.

Max makes friends with Turtle Boy (slow kid, son of 25th Century Flash, who's influencial and rich), who has no powers without the technology from his dad and a girl from the Legionnaires 30th Century, descendent of the Quick Family, and fan of all things Flash.

The faculty is plucked from all across time as well. John Fox is the Coach, wounded vet and all around nice guy and great teacher, who is mostly ignored because of his injury.

Jesse Quick from our near future, grown into the role of teacher, she emits calm and experience.

A younger Jay Garrick teaches basic maneuvers, Max Mercury teaches the fundamentals of superspeed science, a young Savitar is a new teacher, eager and optomistic, but darkness dwells in him.

The Rogues also plague the fastforward community that lives at mach 10 on Mercury. Pop culture becomes instant culture, iC, and is immediately processed, the entire planet hooked into a wireless hive mind. This leaves certain individuals living on the outside that move too slow to even notice.

Cold. Heat. Mirror. Tricks. TopSpin. Magic.
The outlaw rebels of Mercury, they loot and plunder, left in the dust of society. The Flash has to slow down to even percieve them.

The Flash of the era, that has replaced John Fox after Despero shattered his leg, is a living energy field, barely human and nearly unable to stop moving long enough to speak. He has given up his consciousness to a greater good.

A plan has been set into motion, and like the falling of dominoes, every moment moves all of Mercury into the descent of the consuming Sun, the Speedforce folded in on itself causing a massive black hole supernova mutant Sun Eater. Sentient, yet unable to see the devouring of all reality as a bad thing.

Max & friends must learn the lesson of moving slow, to stop and look, to process information and see the patterns, identifying the trouble that speeding your way through life makes sure you miss. All of Infinity & Eternity rest on their shoulders.

We watch as Max goes through year after year at the school, learning and growing, from emo-ish, long haired, shy and sensitive, hands in his pockets, looking down at his feet. He's tall and thin, dark brown hair hanging in his face.

Turtle is the baseball cap wearing nerd, interested more in tinkering in his lab with experimental futuristic technology, than being cool. He doesn't have time to run with the popular crowd. He thinks slow and is picked on for it, but it's his greatest strength.

Jane Quicke. Tomboy, old school Legion fan, historical geek, spends hours at the Flash Museum sketching. She's often too in her own head to pay attention, so is always dodging at the last minute, surviving by her instincts, whether she knows it or not.

John Fox always wears his jacket. His clothes are more loose, dressed down and casual. He was the Flash through some insane days, a founding member of JLA 1,000,000, although always looked down upon, discriminated by his un-evolved TwenCen biology.

Jay Garrick is oblivious, all young and full of spitfire, nothing gets him down. He's a throwback to the dawn of superheroics. An ancient relic who usually gets made fun of by cynical students, only he's so slow, comparitively, that he doesn't get it, but he's no dummy. Sharper than he lets on. 40's style, organic material, no sheen, just cloth.

Jesse Quick is no-nonsense, business skirt, the ultimate female role-model, very passionate with a dose of feminism. She commands respect by her walk and stature. She dresses modestly, but her presence makes it sexy.

Savitar is the detached, aloof, teacher. Only there to access the mysteries of speed, spending all his waking moments consumed by formulas and theories. He's dishevelled, but seemingly harmless. A true academic, and yet, something seems off. Too in his own head.

Max Mercury, who Max Allen was named after, is a legend, a master, a whisper that kids share exaggerrated tales about. No one knows what he's doing, or where he's gone, but he's waiting & watching. This is Max Mercury before he retires to his first appearance in Flash vol. 2 as a subway vendor. He's middle aged and handsome. A George Clooney in spandex, completely in control of his surroundings, calm and at peace, co-existing in a flow with all things.

Think Harry Potter for the Flash family. The unfortunate reality of being born before 30th Cen (at least) is the prejudice of the times. All of Mercury pride themselves on beinging faster, smarter, more connected. Our main cast is part of the "slower school" of pre 30c people.

However some people remember that millenia as the last true ago of heroes, so they are included in, but most Mercurians don't have the patience to learn anything from them at such slow speeds.

Max Allen will learn that stopping and observing, the critical mind, is the strength of being a Flash. He uncovers a plot, with hired merc Rogues doing the dirty work in plain sight, everyone too busy to care.

When the speedforce finally consumes itself, will it destroy all of DC 1million's reality? Or can Max and his slow friends save the day?

Sometimes being the Fastest Man Alive doesn't save the day.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


How many times does something have to die in order for it to stay dead? How much damage does it take in order for you to finally let go and accept that some things are not within your reach? How can I let my dream of falling in love rest in peace forever?

It's the dream really. The ideal that lingers and resists against all forces. That impossible, unattainable goal, the hope that there's this cosmic union that is, despite all the evidence presented, actually achievable in this lonely world. Why does it still dwell inside me?

Will I give up the will to live, surrender to hopelessness, once and for all plunge into death so I can at last stop trying and struggling to find a person to connect to? A best friend, a lover, a counterpart that will make me feel complete...whole.

I think that it's because I want it, seek it out, look for it in every opportunity presented to me. Trying to grasp something that is ethereal and beyond me. Holding onto a person so tight that I suffocate the life from them. Angry and frustrated that they are a square peg that does not fit my round hole world.

Is it the void within myself that I hunger to fill? The emptiness my upbringing created? The loss and desire for connection that I need so much, that seems vital to my existence. As if I could somehow become who I want to be once I find that one, the person who'll bring out the best in me, that'll silence the self-doubt that plagues me.

So I look to myself. What can I do to be happy? To be complete? I throw in all manner of distracting creative endeavors. Toss fiction and life experience deep into the black hole inside myself. Watch as it is consumed and then I want for more afterwards, always needing more and more, satisfaction never gained.

I discount family and friendships. Dismiss them as worthless interactions that distract me for the moment. If I can't count on love, how can I possibly expect casual personal encounters to make me happy? The intimacy of a loved one is no more than a narcotic, a pleasant chemical reaction that feeds me for now, lost upon disembarking.

If this is what we were meant to figure out, the riddle, the meaning of life, then I find I am lacking. I don't have an answer, a hypothesis, nary a theory to be found. And to be quite frank, I don't want to work at figuring it out anymore.

Love, just let me fucking be, go fuck off and die.

My Relationship With (500) Days of Summer

So I finally watched the modern alt love story that seems to have captured the youth of today, (500) Days of Summer. A disjointed love story that jumps around to different moments of a relationship between a underachieving boy and free-spirited girl.

I was glad to break up with this movie when it was over. Divorce myself from its heavy handed idealizing of a retro/vintage manic pixie and the brooding disgruntled passive aggressive slacker. From the groan-worthy voice over, to the quirky storytelling tricks, to the over-the-top breaking the fourth wall and narrative Hall & Oates dance number.

Much like Tom () saw Summer (Zooey Deschanel) in one light when remisicing about their relationship, I could look back and see all its flaws and in your face editing. But I could also see small, intimate moments of a true relationship being developed and falling apart.

Awkward lines of dialogue, subtle moments of questionable, what does it mean gestures, sometimes painting both characters in a overly flattering light and sometimes showing their blatant flaws. Cute, inventive moments of young love (Ikea role-playing, drawing LA's skyline on her forearm), mixed with harsh glances and forced personality quirks clashing.

This movie is much about perception, an idea it plays with utilizing its unconventional structure, showing scenes more than once with polar opposite emotional impact. Were they in love? Was he forcing it, trying to hard to control the relationship? Or was she aloof, a cold, detached sociopath who could never love anyone?

In the end you're left with the idea that this movie may be named after Summer, but it's Tom's movie, his journey into the soul crushing world of love & relationships. Overly idealistic romantic obsessiveness is not love, despite knowing, feeling a need to connect deeper, to want to hold on to that dynamic with another person.

Summer's movie would have been the complete opposite, probably showing Tom as overbearing and insensitive to the reality of their situation (or perhaps I'm merely projecting my own thoughts on relationships here). But the idea that she learned to love on a deeper level, and he learned to dispel that fairy tale romantic tendency, this is the truth here.

Every relationship changes you. With different people we act differently. Sometimes we're the lover, sometimes the withdrawn one. Each person in our lives shows us something new, an altered perspective. Embracing that, learning from it, and yet remaining open to our original ideas and feelings, well, that's the point of it all, right?

I may not love (500) Days of Summer, but we had fun, experienced highs and lows, and I know a bit more about myself now that we're no longer together.

And maybe one day, I'll want to go back and revisit it, thinking back on the good times, but for now, I'm moving on.


Pride & Predjudice & Zombies Graphic Novel Review

I'm not one for Victorian Literature. I've never read the original book, nor have I read any other book from that era. I don't find myself drawn towards the polite society of Imperial England in any way.

And to add the hipster factor of a novel that slips in a pop culture staple like zombies and markets the book to the Urban Outfitter consumer, who no doubt took a Lit class or two, and has seen their share of zombie movies, well I was borderline offended at the whole idea.

Part of me says "Yeah! Take that you snobby intellectuals!", revelling in the slap in the face that is adapting a classic book with a pop culture spin. And part of me thinks, "How dare you defile such a classic by dumbing it down for the 'tweens of today!"

That said, I got a chance to read the graphic novel adaptation by and illsutrated by , published by DelRay. I found, that with no real knowledge of the original story I was a bit confused by who was who. I got the gist of the five daughters who were conflicted by finding husbands and the ins and outs of British Society.

I enjoyed the kung fu backstory and the zombie fight scenes were very well executed in the art and somewhat in the story, but they did seem to have the air of just being tacked on as a gimmick when things got too serious or dry. And man, was there a lot of dry spots in here.

Letters sent back and forth, ladies and lords, estates mentioned and never really explained, I felt like I was missing a fair amount of backstory. But I got the basic idea down, that the most kickass of the Bennet sisters, who's pride and prejudice towards a soldier and lord of a well to do family, made her scorn the man unjustly.

And in the end they get together and live happily ever after. Spoiler! But I found myself barely able to keep myself invested enough to make it through the graphic novel despite the exquisite drawings and fluid action rendered by . It all felt very contrived and forced inbetween fluid moments of storytelling.

I'd be interested to see what was changed from not only the original story but also the prose zombie version. But not that much. There's too many other interesting comics and/or other classic literature that calls me forth.

I am curious about Sense & Sensibilty & SeaMonsters, but that's just cause SeaMonsters are significantly cooler than zombies.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Indie Club Notes

Digital Fim

Vlog movie & promotion review w/interview.
Mercury Men


Rocket Science 5 Min Audio Interview.
Article: Fashion Blogger/Photographer/Model


Phil Gelatt interview podcast. Ep. Alpha. (Rick Lacey co-star) 15 min discussion plug, 30 min interview, 15 min intro & outro. Plugs.

Article: Mike Mooch?
Research on T-shirt sites. Threadless. Warren Ellis.
How do they work, sales, price?
At least his reviews and I can delve more into the finances.

T-Shirt Idea
Michael Keaton's face

Clint Eastwood

Bruce Campbell

Drunk Celebs


Elizabeth Seward. Musician. Self-Promoting. Poetry. mp3 and music video.

Grant & Warren Documentaries.

Sound Bytes of us reading lines of dialogue from random comics. Re-mixing it for a Write Club theme. Gary guitars. Cousin's beat.

Boston's going to start providing us with a webcomic for the webseries he's going to shoot in August, Gamers Wanted. Should help kick off the webcomic material.

I really want to start WCWWFX as soon as we can. Hopefully right after a legit site relaunch. I have the idea for page strips. Just need to get it going and then have guest artists do a page every week.

Maybe go daily with the Funnies when I can.

As for the site, I emailed Ron. Figure I'll get him out for drinks soon and talk it over with him.

I updated the articles page with the current material. I started a Tumblr for it. Need to come up with a better look before I pimp it.

I'm thinking we need ARTICLES, WEBCOMICS, REVIEWS, EPISODES, CONTACT up top as our main categories, but then a BLOG page to get updated daily, maybe multiple times a day. Linked to Tumblr or Blogspot feed. Both. Feed it into Twitter & Facebook.

Before that I'm thinking Comic Club after Indie, to really geek out and prepare for San Diego. Total superhero overload! But get more consistent with calendar of events and news.

Maybe we need to change it as soon as Iron Man 2? Free Comic Book Day would have been good but too soon. Ugh.

I need to see Kick-Ass and the Losers. May get to see Iron Man 2 early. Will do a review.

I fucking need internet at my apt. Or at least a good wifi spot with an outlet.