Friday, June 29, 2007

I LIKED It, So Sue Me

Before I review GHOST RIDER, I feel compelled to mention that I was probably one of the only professional reviewers who gave Mathew Brodrick's remake of GODZILLA a thumbs up... in print. Yes, that's right. Sizes Matters? I totally thought so.

Having said that, it should come as no surprise that I thought Nicholas Cages' GHOST RIDER totally rocked. No, I am not kidding. I'm serious. No, really.

Come on, you know I really hate it when you point and laugh like that.

What was I smoking, you ask? No, man, I was totally sober. Here's the thing. Though I'm a true believer (as my man Stan would say), a Marvel Grrl to the core, I never read a single issue of GHOST RIDER. I always looked at the covers when I was hunting for the newest issue of X-MEN, and honestly thought RIDER was both too cheesy and had too much of a Hell's Angel's vibe to it.

I grew up in a working class town in the Midwest. Biker guys with flaming skull heads were my neighbors, you know?

But I LOVE comicbooks. Ever since the moment my cousin Laun unwrapped from the mylar the first issue of AMAZING STORIES with Spiderman on the cover, I was hooked. Though I read DC comics, they didn't captivate me the way Marvel stories did.

I think that being unfamilar with the original, but totally into comic book sensiblities helps explain my reaction. Flaming chains? Nifty! Motorcyle that becomes the death ride? OOOOooh, pretty! Nicholas Cage's head exploding into flames? Added bonus!

The other part comes down to Other Me's obsession with Christianity. (See my previous review of Hellblazer). This movie is surprisingly Christian, which may explain it's failure at the box office. I was totally enchanted by the moment when the Ghost Rider/Johnny Blaze discovers that he can walk in both worlds. He may have sold his soul to the devil, but because he did it for love God give him face. Plus, I know people are annoyed by Cage, but in this film, I thought he was hillarious. When he's talking to himself about second chances and he notices his hand in glowing... made my day. The whole quirky bit about the Carpenters and monkey videos? What can I say? It worked for me.

Am I telling you to go Netflix this movie? No, probably not. But, Shawn and I kept turning to each other and high-fiving at every explosion (and when the Ranger rides again...? ahhhh! Shiney! I think if you were in the mood for comicbook cool Velvetta, this is totally the film for you.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Publisher's Weekly Review

It's been one of the biggest thorns in my side that I have never been reviewed by Publisher's Weekly -- not me as me, nor me as alternate me. In my more paranoid moments (which as an author, are often), I've begun to take this lack of notice as a personal slight, because I now know several local authors who have not only gotten reviewed, but have gotten the much-coveted starred review. I've also met a few people who work for Publisher's Weekly, and despite what they say, just KNOWING these people has got me exactly nada.

Thus it comes as no surprise to me that MANY BLOODY RETURNS has been reviewed by PW, but with absolutely no mention of _me._

Many Bloody Returns Edited by
Charlaine Harris and
Toni L.P. Kelner. Ace, $24.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-441-01522-1

This patchwork anthology of 13 new vampire stories proves that heavyweight contributors can give some substance to a relatively slight theme. Harris (the Sookie Stackhouse novels), Kelner (the Laura Fleming mysteries) and 11 other writers with serious vamp credentials craft stories around the concept of birthdays for bloodsuckers. Most of the tales only blow out candles in passing, as with P.N. Elrod's “Grave-Robbed,” which mixes pathos and comedy as vampire PI Jack Fleming busts a phony medium mid-séance, and Tanya Huff's “Blood Wrapped,” in which Henry Fitzroy's search for the ideal gift for a vampire's 40th mixes with his pursuit of a human kidnapper. Christopher Golden takes birthdays to heart in his poignant coming-of-age story, “The Mournful Cry of Owls,” while Kelley Armstrong proposes in “Twilight” that a vampire's real birthday is the date of transformation from mortal to immortal. Fans of the many series vampires on parade here will be undeterred by the variable quality of their adventures. (Sept.)

And, of course, there's that absolutely brilliant story by Tate Hallaway called "Fire and Ice and Linguine for Two." How could you miss that gem, PW? How?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Blank, Mournful Stare of Horror Films

When did Hollywood horror film characters get reduced to the blank, mournful stare?

Last night, Shawn and I watched part of The Return with Buffy, er, Sarah Michelle Geller. We probably only got about half way into the film before I started to fall asleep. Okay, yes, I was tired, having stayed up until 2:00 am on Monday stargazing with a friend, but the silent, blank, mournful gazes that everyone was casting didn't help.

When did the baleful stare replace characterization in horror films?

I know that it's supposed to be MOODY, having everyone stare deeply into the eye of the camera, but you know what Mr. Asif Kapadia, Director Guy? It's dull! Dull, dull, dull, dull as Mason would say. When scary bits start popping up, all I could think was, "Well, thank god something is happening" not, "Oh, my god, I hope nothing terrible happens to this character I like."

The whole deep, broody stare is a trend I see a lot of in horror films. I'm not saying it can't be done effectively, but I find it better used AFTER a character has been established. You know when you find someone who has previously been engaging and normal and suddenly they're all broody and dark.... well, done right, that can be spooky.

/ Rant

Monday, June 25, 2007

Quick Link/OT

This isn't the sort of thing I usually post here, but I thought some readers might be as fascinated as I am by this...

The link will take you to an essay called "Viewing American Class Divisions Through Facebook and MySpace." I have to confess that I'm far too old for either MySpace or Facebook, but I found this discussion really interesting, particularly what the army has done in regards to MySpace (it's apparently banned, while Facebook is not. Rank and file soldiers were using MySpace, while officers used Facebook.)

The author talks a lot about how difficult class is to talk about in America, and I think s/he has a valid point, but I'm glad s/he tries anyway. That's why, even though they tend to over simplify the issues, I really appreciate when shows like Battlestar Galatica have their "very special episode" about labor/working class issues.