New stuff in the mail this week from the always-intriguing Josh Pettinger, who has a new issue of his self-published Goiter, plus I was finally able to track down the first ish through the auspices of a kind reader of this site — and one more new item from our friend Brian Canini that’s a hold-over from last week. So, yeah, plenty to get to —
Goiter #4 sees Pettinger return to black-and-white after the full-color third issue, but fear not : he’s trying a magazine format this time around, and the enlarged art looks great. As always, the Ware and Clowes influences are pretty strongly felt here, but I dig a cartoonist who wears his artistic lineage on his sleeve, and Pettinger is taking the ethos established by those earlier artists in new and intriguing directions — that direction this time being the story of “Wendy Bread,” a…
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As you can tell from watching this video, this from the period of time where KISS was performing without their trademark makeup. All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose was their second single from the album Lick It Up and, while the video itself got some airplay on MTV, the song failed to chart in the U.S. Compared to their success in the 70s, KISS struggled through the 80s and the early 90s. Taking off the makeup and essentially looking like every other hard rock band that was around at that time did not help.
Today, All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose is best-remembered as the song in which Paul Stanley raps. The majority of the song was written by KISS’s then drummer, the late Eric Carr and Carr was initially not happy with the decision to have Stanley rap one of the verses. However, later, Carr said that Stanley rapping was actually what the song needed to distinguish itself from the rest of the album and that the rap was probably the reason why All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose was eventually released as a single.
The video is a hard rock fantasy, with the members of KISS walking around a burned-out city and running into criminals, circus performers, and, of course, barely dressed women. This was probably a video that KISS could only have made during the period when they weren’t wearing their makeup. The Demon and the Starchild would have looked out-of-place wandering around the city but Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Eric Carr, and Vinny Vincent fit right in.
In retrospect, it’s hard not to be amused that, back in the 70s and 80s, so many parents groups viewed KISS as being a threat to young minds. (There are people who still believe that KISS stands for Knights In Satan’s Service.) I would guess that few of those concerned parents actually listened to any of the music that they were so concerned about. Instead, they just saw songs with titles like All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose and jumped to their conclusions.
There’s really so much to like about Belgian writer Zidrou and Dutch artist Aimee de Jongh’s Blossoms In Autumn, recently made available in a hardcover English translation from upstart UK small press powerhouse-in-the-making SelfMadeHero — the story of late-life romance between 59-year-old widower Ulysses, recently forced into early retirement from his job as a mover, and 62-year-old- former-model-turned-cheese-shop-owner Mediterranea is nothing if not absorbing, wistful, endearing (frequently in spite of itself), and gorgeously illustrated.
It’s also important in that it shines a light on a subject too often neglected by all media, yet rife with untapped potential and possibility — I mean, we all know lonely older folks need love too, maybe more than anybody, and yet the sexual and romantic lives of elders are constantly ignored by movies, television, literature, and comics. Go ahead and insert an “of course” after that last one, in fact, since this is…
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I’m just gonna come right out and say it: THE THIRD MAN is one of the greatest movies ever made. How could it not be, with all that talent, from producers Alexander Korda and David O. Selznick, director Carol Reed , screenwriter Graham Green, and cinematographer Robert Krasker, to actors Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli , and Trevor Howard. It’s striking visuals, taut direction, and masterful acting transcend the film noir genre and make THE THIRD MAN one of the must-see films of 20th Century cinema.
The story starts simply enough, as American pulp novelist Holly Martins arrives in post-war Vienna to meet up with his old pal Harry Lime, only to learn that Harry was recently killed in a car accident. He attends the graveside service, meeting Harry’s mysterious actress girlfriend Anna Schmidt, and is quickly pulled down a rabbit hole of intrigue and deception involving the British…
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There are actually two Adam Sandlers.
First, there’s the Adam Sandler that everyone knows. This Adam Sandler is the comedian who has won multiple Razzie awards and who has produced and starred in some of the most critically derided comedies of all time. This is the Adam Sandler who often seems to make movies specifically so he can either take a vacation or give some work to the less successful members of his entourage. This is the Adam Sandler whose movies were cited as a tool of patriarchal oppression in the “cool girl” speech during Gone Girl.
And then there’s another Adam Sandler. This Adam Sandler is a sad-eyed character actor who is probably one of modern cinema’s best portrayers of existential malaise. This is the Adam Sandler who starred in movies like Punch-Drunk Love, Reign Over Me, Funny People, Spanglish, The Cobbler, Men, Women, and Children, and The Meyerowitz Stories. Some of those films were very good and some of them, admittedly, were very bad but what they all had in common was that they featured Adam Sandler giving a surprisingly good dramatic performance. In fact, if someone only saw Adam Sandler’s dramatic work (and not his work in films like Jack and Jill or Grown-Ups, to cite just two examples), they would be justified in assuming that Sandler was one of the most acclaimed actors around. (One reason why we get so much more annoyed with Sandler’s bad comedies — as opposed to all the other equally bad comedies out there — is because we actually have evidence that Sandler’s capable of doing so much better.)
Unfortunately, almost all of Sandler’s dramatic films were box office disappointments. Punch-Drunk Love is now widely viewed as being a classic but, when it was first released, it failed to even recoup its production budget at the box office. Audiences consistently indicated they preferred silly Adam Sandler to dramatic Adam Sandler and so, Sandler continued to make silly theatrical films until even those started to bring in less money than they had before.
As of now, Sandler does most of his work for Netflix and the results have been mixed. His performance in The Meyerowitz Stories was rightfully acclaimed while his comedies have been considerably less celebrated. And then you have the just-released Murder Mystery, which seems to straddle the line between the two Sandlers.
On the one hand, Murder Mystery is just as silly and implausible as a typical Adam Sandler comedy. Sandler plays a New York police officer named Nick Spitz. Nick has failed his detective’s exam three times but that still hasn’t stopped him from telling his wife, Audrey (Jennifer Aniston), that he’s been promoted. Nick’s living a lie and he deals with his guilt by taking Audrey on a long-promised trip to Europe. On the flight over, Audrey meets the charming and wealthy Charles Cavendish (Luke Evans) who invites Audrey and Nick to a party on his family’s yacht. The yacht is owned by billionaire Malcolm Quince (Terrence Stamp) and, when Malcolm’s murdered during the party, it’s up to fake Detective Nick to figure out who is responsible!
Was it the glamorous actress, Grace (Gemma Arterton)? Or the handsome race car driver, Juan Carlos (Luis Gerardo Mendez)? Or how about the genocidal warlord, Colonel Ulenga (John Kani)? Of course, the local Interpol detective (Dany Boon) thinks that it was Nick and Audrey and he even threatens to reveal that Nick’s been lying about his job! Can Nick and Audrey solve the murder and rekindle the romance of their stalled marriage?
As I said, it’s all pretty silly. Most of the film’s humor comes from just how out-of-place Nck and Audrey are in the world of high society. Audrey is excited because the murder mystery is just like the plot of one of the paperback novels that she likes to read. Nick spends most of the movie trying to keep his wife from discovering the truth about his job. While everyone else is scheming and plotting and trying to kill one another, Nick and Audrey are literally searching Wikipedia for information on all the suspects. It’s dumb and occasionally amusing and it’s also rather innocent. If your grandmother ever wants to watch a comedy with you, Murder Mystery would probably be the one to go with. There’s nothing to offend grandma but, at the same time, the shots of Monaco and Italy are nice to look at and the film is occasionally amusing enough to hold your attention.
Interestingly, even though the film’s a silly comedy, Sandler gives one of his more grounded performances. There’s no silly voices or sudden yelling or any of the typical Sandler shtick. Instead, he’s rather subdued and it works for the film. He and Jennifer Aniston (another performer who often seems to settle for material that’s beneath what she’s capable of) make for a likable and believable couple and they both play off each other well.
Murder Mystery is a likable, lightweight comedy. It’s not necessarily something that you’re going to remember much about after you watch it, of course. It’s not that type of film. Instead, it’s a perfect Netflix film. It’s entertaining but you can do other stuff while you’re watching it without having to worry about accidentally missing a brilliant moment of cinematic history.
As for Adam Sandler, he’s following this up with Uncut Gems, a crime drama from the Safdie Brothers. The Safdie Brothers worked wonders with Robert Pattinson in 2017’s Good Time. So, who knows? This time next year, Adam Sandler could be the new Superman….
North-West Romances was a pulp magazine that was published, by Fiction House, from 1938 to 1953. Like many pulp magazines, North-West Romances featured stories that combined adventure with romance. Much like Ranch Romances, the majority of the stories in North-West Romances could be classified as westerns except, instead of taking place in the Wild West, they took place in the Northland, the famous Yukon area of Canada. Instead of walking along dusty trails, the heroes in North-West Romances trudged across frozen tundra. Instead of being ranchers, they were often gold prospectors. Often times, the only thing standing in the way on the path to true love was a grizzly bear.
The covers for North-West Romances all featured typical western situations, reinterpreted for the Yukon. Among the those who provided covers for the magazine during its run were notable pulp artists like George Gross, Norman Saunders, and Allen Gustav Anderson. Below are just a few example of their work: