Links with the Quickness

Just a few notes before these stories become completely irrelevant. I hate when people just present a list of links as an article, so I’ll be sure to give you my thought, brief they may be.

Ellen Page in talks to play Tara Chace in a Queen and Country film.

Love Queen and Country. Love Ellen Page. But I’ll believe it when I see a trailer. And for all of our sakes, I hope it turns out better than Whiteout did.

All-New Marvel Now Titles

Marvel is prepping their second wave of Marvel Now! titles. That’s fine. Hopefully, there are some new fun titles I can start reading. But here’s the line that really got me: “Select .NOW! titles will also come with a digital code for the entire first collection of that series absolutely free!” Now that I dig. A free digital trade for buying a $3-4 issue? That’s smart. I’d pick up almost anything for that.

Grant Morrison thinks Batman killed the Joker at the end of The Killing Joke

Here’s the thing. Maybe Grant Morrison is right. And maybe that’s what Alan Moore wanted to depict. But let’s be honest. All that stuff really did happen to Barbara Gordon, so the story happened. And the Joker is still alive, so he couldn’t have been killed. Unless that was the real Joker and everything we’ve read since then has been an actor portraying the Joker!

Yes, I’m kidding.

I hope.

Comics Should Be Good’s The Line it is Drawn #152 – Muppet Superhero Mash-Ups!

Each week, I read this art collection on CSBG. And each week there’s something great. But last month, their Muppet/hero mashups were all great. From Alan Moore and a collection of his characters by Axel Medellin

Alan Moore and his characters

to Bill Walko‘s art of Bert and Ernie cosplaying as Blue Beetle and Booster Gold …

Bert, Ernie, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold

to Kermit and friends lamenting being green by Steve Howard.

Kermit, She-Hulk, Hulk, Beast Boy

Poor stupid red Beast Boy.

___

That’s all I’ve got for now, but come back soon. I have some ideas bubbling.

It Takes Action
: Passivity, Shazam®, and Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Logan Lerman and Emma Watson in The Perks of Being a Wallflower

At a wedding last month, I debated with the stunning brunette next to me about the song that was playing. To convince her it was Rod Stewart, I took action and pulled out my phone. Four seconds later, Shazam® told us that I was right. “That’s All.” Unfortunately for Charlie, the protagonist of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, life in 1991 Pittsburg didn’t offer such luxuries.

Based on Chbosky’s own 1999 novel, Perks is the story of Charlie, his island of misfit friends, and his first year of high school. Many of the expected clichés, including first loves and drugs (both prescribed and recreational) are on display here, but Perks‘ strength comes from its surprising display of subtlety. This is a world where trying weed or LSD doesn’t turn you into an addict. Where it’s 1991, but you don’t constantly hear Marky Mark or C+C Music Factory.

In the film’s most memorable scene, Charlie (Logan Lerman) watches as Emma Watson’s Sam stands in the bed of her pickup truck, arms wide, flying toward the Steel City skyline. A mystery song plays on the blaring radio and he falls in love. I could have told him it was Bowie’s “Heroes,” but to be fair, at his age, Jakob Dylan was the reason I knew that.

We Can Be Heroes, Just for One Day

Chbosky took the adaptation as an opportunity to smooth out some of the more maudlin parts of the story. In the book, Charlie is too naïve. His explanations of “special brownies” and masturbation come off as perplexingly sincere. By simply excising these passages, Charlie becomes more well-rounded. Another point of subtlety, on the part of both Chbosky and actor Ezra Miller, is Sam’s gay step-brother Patrick. He’s not closeted, nor is he waving a rainbow flag for 103 minutes. He’s just a guy that likes football and The Smiths. And dudes.

Fans of the novel will have little to complain about. The broadstrokes are all here, along with enough details to keep you grinning. Morrissey fans rejoice, you’ll hear about “Asleep” at least three times. It’s also funny as hell. Like a truth-or-dare confession that is delivered with such a lack of emotion that everyone but the audience thinks it’s a joke. Or when Patrick takes Charlie on a tour of the local cruising spot, lovingly referred to as “The Fruit Loop.”

Through his freshman year, Charlie deals with depression over the recent death of a friend and the years-ago death of his favorite aunt. By reserving himself to the sidelines, Charlie gains a certain perspective on adolescent life. As a wallflower, he sees things, keeps quiet about them, and understands. But of course, he doesn’t act. He takes drugs because he didn’t understand what kind of brownies they were. His music taste comes from Ponytail Derek, his sister’s boyfriend. His books come from his English teacher, an underused Paul Rudd. He waits for the girl to kiss him.

Understandably, Charlie’s feelings for Sam are under-requited. She’s fond him of, sure, but she’s not the kind to wait around. Kissing the girl is like trying to identify a mystery song. In our youth, we sang whatever lyrics we could remember to friends and record store clerks, perhaps brought a guitar to recreate a stray melody. Today, we can find out what we’re listening to instantly. We used to wear an uneasy smile and avoid eye contact with a date, as Charlie does in the film. Now, we look in her eyes and lean in until our mouths meet.

When you’re older, all this stuff is easier, but it’s not just the passing of time that does that. All of our modern conveniences are the result of great minds and tireless labor. It’s not age that builds up our experience and our confidence. It’s taking a chance, whether you get the girl or you get shot down. Over the course of ten months, Charlie finds a place to fit in, confronts his depression, discovers Bowie and finally kisses the girl.

Sometimes you need to realize that the only thing pushing your back against the wall is your own weight. It doesn’t just take time to identify a song or kiss the girl. It takes work. It takes effort. It takes action.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Movie Review

I don’t know how to review a movie. Sure, I took Intro to Screen Studies in school, but I’m not about to discuss mise-en-scéne or anything. So I’ll start by saying I’ve never seen a movie like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. And I loved it.

Micheal Cera as Scott PilgrimI was at work when I first saw the trailer, and I instantly watched it again. I had read the five books that were out at that point and was left with Watchmen-level excitement. I showed some friends, but they could only say, “Why would you want to see that?,” “What makes that look good?” or “Why does he have to fight them?”And I felt stupid trying to explain why having to fight exes is a great metaphor for dealing with a new lover’s baggage. So, I went to the movies alone and had more fun than I’ve ever had at the movies. Quick aside: This has been a good year for fun movies. Kick-Ass had been the most fun I had ever had at the movies. Scott Pilgrim is the new winner.

Let’s get the adaptation business out of the way. It was close enough to the books where I could say “I loved that part!,” but different enough that I could be surprised. Matthew Patel still thinks pirates are “in this year,”* but the Scott vs. Twins fight is now a battle between a music-summoned gorilla and a pair of dragons. Bad ass.

A year and a half ago, I felt that if Michael Cera played “George Michael ” Michael Cera, he would fail at playing Scott Pilgrim. He didn’t. He’s closer to Nick from Nick and Norah (I wish Scott could kick Tal’s ass next) than Evan from Superbad. He’s self-deprecating, but isn’t going to wither at the first sign of conflict. Compressing six books into two hours means a lot of stuff is cut, but some of the characters, especially Wallace and Stacy are well distilled in scene after stolen scene. The most unexpected star turn was Knives Chau (17 years old), played by Ellen Wong. Knives is no longer the young girl who can’t move on; she’s her own person with her own motivations.

I love Edgar Wright’s Spaced and Shaun of the Dead. (I thought Hot Fuzz was OK.) Studying Shaun, so much of the second half is a reflection of small events in the first half (Shaun and Ed’s shooting instructions, Pete telling Ed to live in the shed) Wright’s script here shares a lot of that, with a Scott and Knives date planting a seed that sprouts in the movie’s climax. Some good writing there. The movie uses cinematic tricks along with comic-style split-screens and videogame HUDs in a visual pop culture orgy. It takes someone with vision to do something this fresh.

People may paint Ramona as just another Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but she’s not a carefree, perfect girl like Natalie Portman in Garden State. Sometimes she’s mean. Sometimes she just sucks. Yes, Scott falls in love quicker than we may believe, but isn’t that how life is? Only the person falling understands how they feel, not their friends. And they don’t need to. The audience doesn’t need to understand; we just need to be able to relate. This is why Say Anything didn’t work for me. I couldn’t relate to John Cusack falling for the boring, uninteresting, not-that-good-looking Ione Skye. Without that, the movie fell apart. I could relate to Scott falling for the (literal) girl of his dreams, in all her purple-haired glory.

I can never tell how much of my enjoyment of this series comes from the in jokes. Scott’s Smashing Pumpkins shirts and the fairy temple music from Zelda brought a smile to my face, but your mileage may vary.

All that said, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is the best romantic comedy action movie you’ll see this year.

Did I ramble too much? Talk too much about other movies and not enough about the film in question? Use too many parentheticals? Fire away in the comments.

* This was originally a reference to Roxy Richtor being “bi-furious.” Then I realized that wasn’t in the books. Maybe I recognized it from a trailer? Either way, great line. GREAT line.

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Scott Pilgrim Comic Trailer

This is, at least, the most interesting trailer I’ve seen for Scott Pilgrim yet. A theMrblonde2010 took one of the standard trailers and replaced the movie footage with real panels from the books.

This is a great example of how adaptations can be faithful to the tone of the source as well as embrace the new medium. Not everything works going from a comic to a movie. One of my favorite scenes — “Do you know a girl with hair like this?” — got changed, but if Edgar Wright doesn’t think it worked, maybe it didn’t.

Two days until the movie opens! Sweet!
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