What Is “What Is A Glacier?”


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

There are few cartoonists who get so much from so little as Sophie Yanow. I offer as an example of this assertion  her latest autobio work, the Retrofit/Big Planet-published What Is A Glacier?, which clocks in at just 32 economically-scripted pages, is illustrated in a much looser and more free-flowing style  than her previous (equally exemplary) works — one that puts a premium on extracting maximum emotional “punch” out of each line, whether straight or squiggled — and yet it’s packed with more sheer information, both personal and global, than most comics that are three, even four, times longer. How packed, you might ask? So packed that even after six consecutive readings I’m still trying to figure out whether or not I’ve not so much caught everything, but absorbed it all.

Juxtaposition is our word of the day here, and the brilliant way Yanow utilizes it allows her to…

View original post 737 more words

Love, Simon – A Review. This Film is a MUST SEE!!!! Rating – A+!


fullsizeoutput_1483-e1516894794929-787x559

“Love, Simon” sometimes films make you exhilarated, cry, and hope because the hero is in physical peril; “Love, Simon” makes you feel those emotions through the agonizingly painful awkwardness of being a teenager and on top of that being gay.   The film has importance as having the first gay lead protagonist in a rom-com.  It’s directed by Greg Berlanti who created the best show I love to watch with dudes getting killed with arrows.

However, without a great story, you’ve got nothing. Simon, luckily, is all of us.  He’s handsome, but is painfully awkward.  This is evident in the first five-minutes when he approaches a handsome landscaper and fumbles all over himself.  These cringeworthy teenage moments happen over and over- just like high school terrible moments.

He’s young, but with a very adult secret and he doesn’t know if his friends today would be his friends tomorrow, if they knew he were gay.  That just sucks.  I don’t normally do this, but I want any readers out there to know that it’s okay to be gay.  You have a right to safety, love, and all of the wonderful things that the world has to offer.  If anyone says differently or uses their religion as a shield or sword for their bigotry against you, you can tell them fuck you right from me!

Back to Simon, he’s struggling with coming out and sees on a blog that someone else is too.  They begin an online correspondence and I prayed that it wasn’t a forty-five year old creepo writing him.  It wasn’t.  Unfortunately, his correspondence is found out by Martin, a fellow student, who threatens to out him, unless he helps set him up with one of his friends.  Martin is a horrible garbage person and is horribly awkward  as well and blunders through his terrible terrible life in the film.

Simon, fearing being outed, complies to Martin’s demand as he tries to discover the identity of his online paramour.  I don’t want to give to much away, BUT in the trailer we learn that Simon either comes out or gets outed.   Yes, he eventually gets outed, but that is as unimportant to the protagonist’s journey as being gay is in real life. It’s just you.  Simon- deals with it and if you’re a small-minded dipshit, you’ll deal with it too! The film proceeds to have many cringeworthy -oh my god,  I’m having teen flashbacks- moments and I’m so glad I’m no longer a teen.

Furthermore, the film could seem hokey or corny to a lot of cynical people that are terrible, homophobic or both.  Honestly, I have to write if you don’t like this film you are per se terrible. I’m not saying that if you gave the movie a C+ you would refuse to make a gay couple a wedding cake, but I bet you would tell there are “Two Sides” bullshit.

The film really goes beyond gay identity just as Simon does.  It is coming of age story where we grow up with simon and realize this is just who he is, but he’s still a kid.  I can tell you that 17 and 18 is still a kid.  My first assignment in the Army I was a lieutenant and had many 18 year olds in my platoon and they had childish interests, were desperate for guidance, and tried many awkward times to get acceptance.  In short, Love, Simon portrays youth accurately and we, like Simon, have to deal.

The film was making a point that these were kids struggling with being grownups and they just weren’t ready.  Adulthood is forced upon us, we don’t get to choose it on our own terms. For me, that’s what Berlanti was trying to say: we have to become adults and deal with our identity because life will force us to do so no matter what.  We don’t choose to be smart, dumb, gay, or straight- it’s just who we are and we have to face it every day because we have to do so.  The film forces us to live through Simon’s awkwardness as he becomes a Man.  Being a grown up sucks, but it doesn’t suck as much as being a teenager.

The film leaves us with uncertainty because that’s what being an adult is.  We have to be ourselves or we can never be free, or as Jennifer Gardner put it heart wrenchingly- you’ll always be holding your breath.

I would recommend that you see this film and then see it again!

Spring Breaks Scenes That I Love: You Are Not A Summer Love From Horror Of Party Beach


The beach is so much fun that even mom and dad can’t stay away!

Actually, the two beachgoers in this film may look like they’re in their 40s but they were only supposed to be teenagers.  That’s just the type of film that 1964’s Horror Of Party Beach is.

Anyway, in this one, the Del-Aires return and perform You Are Not A Summer Love.  It’s meant to be romantic, though you’ll probably laugh before you swoon.  One thing’s for sure.  It’s all very 1964.

Embracing The Melodrama Part III #6: The Betsy (dir by Daniel Petrie)


“Wheeeeeeee!”

— Loren Hardeman Sr. (Sir Laurence Olivier) in The Betsy (1978)

Here’s a little thought experiment:

Imagine if The Godfather had starred Laurence Olivier and Tommy Lee Jones.

That may sound strange but it actually could have happened.  When Francis Ford Coppola first started his search for the perfect actor to play Don Vito Corleone, he announced that he could only imagine two actors pulling off the role.  One was Marlon Brando and the other was Laurence Olivier.

As for Tommy Lee Jones, he was among the many actors who auditioned for the role of Michael Corleone.  At the time, Jones was 26 years old and had only recently made his film debut in Love Story.  As odd as it may be to imagine the quintessentially Texan Tommy Lee Jones in the role, Coppola always said that he was looking for a brooder as Michael and that’s definitely a good description of Jones.

Of course, as we all know, neither Olivier nor Jones were ever cast in The Godfather.  Marlon Brando played Don Vito and Al Pacino was cast as Michael.  However, a few years later, Olivier and Jones would co-star in another family saga that combined history, organized crime, and melodrama.  That film was 1978’s The Betsy and, interestingly enough, it even co-starred an actor who actually did appear in The Godfather, Robert Duvall.

Of course, now would probably be a good time to point out that The Godfather is perhaps the greatest American film of all time.  And The Betsy … well, The Betsy most definitely is not.

The film’s German poster even gives off a Godfather vibe

Based on a novel by Harold Robbins, The Betsy exposes the secrets of Detroit.  Decades ago, Loren Hardeman founded Hardeman Motors and started to build his considerable fortune.  Sure, Loren had to break a few rules.  He cut corners.  He acted unethically.  He had an affair with his daughter-in-law and then drove his gay son to suicide.  Loren never said that he was perfect.  Now in his 80s, Loren has a vision of the future and that vision is a new car.  This car will be called the Betsy (named after his great-granddaughter) and it will be the most fuel-efficient car ever made.

Since the film appropriates the flashback structure used in The Godfather Part II, we get to see Loren Hardeman as both an elderly man and a middle-aged titan of industry.  Elderly Loren is played by Laurence Olivier.  Elderly Loren spends most of the film in a wheelchair and he speaks with a bizarre accent, one that I think was meant to be Southern despite the fact that the film takes place in Michigan.  Elderly Loren gets really excited about building his new car and, at one point, shouts out “Wheeeeeee!”

Middle-aged Loren is played by … Laurence Olivier!  That’s right.  Olivier, who was 71 years old at the time, also plays Loren as a younger man.  This means that Olivier wears a hairpiece and so much makeup that he looks a bit like a wax figure come to life.  Strangely, Middle-aged Loren doesn’t have a strange accent and never says “wheeeee.”

To build his car, Loren recruits race car driver Angelo Perino (Tommy Lee Jones).  Angelo’s father was an old friend of Loren’s.  When Angelo agrees, he discovers that the Hardeman family is full of drama and secrets.  Not only is great-granddaughter Betsy (Kathleen Beller) in love with him but so is Lady Bobby Ayers (Lesley-Anne Down), who is the mistress of Loren’s grandson, Loren the 3rd (Robert Duvall).

Because he blames his grandfather for the death of his father, Loren the 3rd has no intention of building Loren the 1st’s car.  Loren the 3rd wants to continue to make cars that pollute the environment.  “Over my dead boy!” Loren the 1st replies.  “As you wish, grandfather,” Loren the 3rd replies with a smile.

But we’re not done yet!  I haven’t even talked about the Mafia and the union organizers and the automotive journalist who ends up getting murdered.  From the minute the movie starts, it’s nonstop drama.  That said, most of the drama is so overdone that it’s actually more humorous than anything else.  As soon as Laurence Olivier shouts out, “Wheeeee!,” The Betsy falls into the trap of self-parody and it never quite escapes.  There’s a lot going on in the movie and one could imagine a more imaginative director turning the trashy script into a critique of capitalism and technology.  However, Daniel Petrie directs in a style that basically seems to be saying, “Let’s just get this over with.”

The cast is full of interesting people, all of whom are let down by a superficial script.  Nothing brings out the eccentricity in talented performers quicker than a line of shallow dialogue.  Jane Alexander, who plays Duvall’s wife, delivers all of her lines in an arch, upper class accent.  Edward Herrmann, playing a lawyer, smirks every time the camera is pointed at him.  Katharine Ross, as Olivier’s mistress and Duvall’s mother, stares at Olivier like she’s trying to make his head explode.  Tommy Lee Jones is even more laconic than usual while Duvall always seems to be struggling not to start laughing.

And then there’s Olivier.  For better or worse, Olivier is the most entertaining thing about The Betsy.  He doesn’t give a good performance but he does give a memorably weird one.  Everything, from the incomprehensible accent to a few scenes where he literally seems to bounce up and down, suggests a great actor who is desperately trying to bring a spark of life to an otherwise doomed project.  It’s a performance so strange that it simply has to be seen to be believed.

Tomorrow, we take a look at another melodrama featuring Robert Duvall, True Confessions!

 

Here’s The Latest Trailer For Avengers: Infinity War!


Hi, everyone!

Last week, I swore to myself that there was only one thing that I would allow to interrupt my vacation and that thing would be a new trailer for Avengers: Infinity War.  I swore to myself that if a new trailer dropped, I would take a few minutes to hop on here and share it with everyone.

Well, the trailer has dropped.

And here it is:

This is going to be so awesome!

Film Review: Return to Savage Beach (dir by Andy Sidaris)


“I was born for water sports!”

— J. Tyler Ward (Christian Letelier) in Return to Savage Beach (1998)

Never let it be said that I’m not a completist!

About a month ago, I decided that it would be fun to write up a review of Hard Ticket To Hawaii that I could schedule to publish while I was on vacation.  At the time, I really should have realized that this would probably lead to me also watching and reviewing all of the sequels (and the one prequel) to that film.  And that’s exactly what happened!

1998’s Return to Savage Beach is the final chapter of the story of the world’s most inept intelligence agency, L.E.T.H.A.L.  (That stands for Legion to Ensure Total Harmony and Law, which is almost as Orwellian a name as Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council.)  Once again, security at L.E.T.H.A.L’s Dallas office has been breached.  This time, it done by a woman named Sofia (Carrie Westcott), who randomly showed up and passed out slices of drugged pizza.  Of course, everyone ate the pizza.  After all, why would a bunch of national security professionals be suspicious of a total stranger handing out food?  After everyone’s unconscious, Sofia steals the file on Savage Beach.

Don’t remember Savage BeachSavage Beach was a previous Andy Sidaris film, in which two other undercover agents ended up on a desert island and discovered a hidden treasure of World War II gold.  If you still don’t remember the film, don’t worry.  Return to Savage Beach contains several minutes of flashbacks from Savage Beach.

Return to Savage Beach also features a handful of flashbacks to the previous Sidaris film, Day of the Warrior.  That’s because The Warrior (Marcus Bagwell), who was previously established as being a homicidal maniac, is now suddenly one of the good guys.  Apparently, one of the people that he murdered in the previous film was actually a serial killer and, as a result, he was only given three months in prison.  Now, he’s out and he’s the newest L.E.T.H.A.L. agent.  He’s an expert on lost treasures and that’s a good thing because it turns out that there’s even more treasure on Savage Beach than anyone realized.

L.E.T.H.A.L. is determined to get that treasure, which means that Willow Black (Julie Strain) has to assign her best agents to the mission.  (Of course, the best L.E.T.H.A.L. agent is the equivalent of a bigamist who tells his second wife that he’s working for the CIA as a cover whenever he has to go on vacation with his other family.)  And so, Tyler (Christian Letelier), Cobra (Julie K. Smith), Tiger (Shae Marks), and Doc Austin (Paul Logan) are sent to explore Savage Beach.

However, L.E.T.H.A.L. is not the only organization returning to Savage Beach.  The evil Morales (Rodrigo Obegron) is determined to get the treasure as well.  Morales wears a Phantom Of The Opera-style mask because he claims that he was horribly scarred when he was blown up during his last trip to Savage Beach.  (Cue more flashbacks.)  Morales not only has Sofia working for him but he also employs three ninjas who wear kabuki makeup.

Maybe you’re getting the feeling that Return to Savage Beach is not a serious film and it most definitely is not.  Like most Sidaris films, Return to Savage Beach is cheerfully aware of its own absurdity.  Towards the end of the film, after about a dozen or so outlandish twists, one of the L.E.T.H.A.L. agents even exclaims, “How many endings can this story have!?”  The song that plays over the end credits asks the exact same question.

All in all, Return to Savage Beach is a pretty dumb movie.  I compared the acting in Day of the Warrior to Mark Wahlberg and John C. Reilly playing Brock Landers and Chest Rockwell in Boogie Nights and that’s even more true when it comes to Return to Savage Beach.  At times, the stupidity of it all is amusing and, at other times, you just find yourself checking the time.

Return to Savage Beach was Andy Sidaris’s final film.  All in all, Sidaris directed thirteen films (12 dramatic features and one documentary).  Some of them were really bad.  Some of them were amusingly over-the-top.  One of them, Hard Ticket To Hawaii, has become something of a mainstay on TCM Underground.  Good or bad, Sidaris definitely had his own style.  In the end, no one would ever mistake any of his films as having been directed by anyone other than Andy Sidaris.

Book Review: The Man With The Golden Gun by Ian Fleming


(SPOILERS)

On August 12th, 1964, Ian Fleming died in Canterbury.  He was 56 years old.

Like his famous creation, James Bond, Ian Fleming was both a heavy drinker and a chainsmoker.  Unlike Bond, he suffered from heart disease.  In 1961, he had his first known heart attack and his health was always precarious afterward.  It is said that his last words were to the ambulance drivers: “I am sorry to trouble you chaps. I don’t know how you get along so fast with the traffic on the roads these days.”

Eight months after Fleming’s death, his final James Bond novel, The Man With The Golden Gun, was published.  (One more collection of short stories, Octopussy and The Living Daylights, would follow in 1966.)

The Man With The Golden Gun opens with a brainwashed Bond attempting to assassinate M and ends with Bond turning down a knighthood and again declaring his loyalty to Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  In between, Bond is tasked with tracking down and killing the notorious assassin, Pistols Scaramanga.  (Scaramanga is known for using a golden gun.)  Bond once again goes undercover, assuming the name Mark Hazzard and working his way into Scaramanga’s operation.  Felix Leiter makes another appearance and, by the end of the book, it looks like Bond might even find happiness with his secretary, Mary Goodnight.

It’s an unfortunate book.  Apparently, Fleming had finished his first draft but was still in the process of editing when he died.  As a result, The Man With The Golden Gun has all the flaws that you would associate with an early draft.  The plot is thin.  There’s little nuance or subtlety to the dialogue.  Bond comes across as being rather dull, showing little of the wit or personality that was present in both On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and You Only Live Twice.  Scaramanga is a bit more interesting but he can’t compare to the great Bond villains like Blofeld or Goldfinger.  There’s really not much else to say about The Man With The Golden Gun.  It’s a sad way to end Fleming’s Bond series but, at the same time, it doesn’t diminish everything that Fleming accomplished in the previous novels.

Anyway, since I’ve reviewed all of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels, I guess now is the time to rate them all, from best to worst.  Not included in the list below are the two collections of short stories that Fleming wrote, For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy.

From best to worst:

  1. On Her Majesty Secret Service (1963)
  2. From Russia With Love (1957)
  3. Moonraker (1955)
  4. Goldfinger (1959)
  5. Dr. No (1958)
  6. You Only Live Twice (1964)
  7. Casino Royale (1953)
  8. Live and Let Die (1954)
  9. The Spy Who Loved Me (1962)
  10. Diamonds are Forever (1956)
  11. Thunderball (1961)
  12. The Man With The Golden Gun (1965)

Despite Fleming’s death, Bond would live on.  Not only would there be the films but other writers would continue Bond’s literary adventures.  Later this year, I’ll start in on the non-Fleming Bond novels.  Until then, I hope everyone has enjoyed this look back at Ian Fleming’s original novels!

Bond, as visualized by Ian Fleming.