Friday, June 27, 2003

Sorry, but Hulk sucks. Stop now if you don’t want to bump into any spoilers.

I was very, very, VERY disappointed with the film. Two things to consider with any narrative art: style and story. Here, story’s not so bad. Not particularly good, either. But man, the style just sucked. Horribly. The transitions were SO annoying. I actually know someone who thinks that it’s the strength of the film, and I just look at him and want to clock him on the head. If you’re going to try to get us to invest in a serious story, then TREAT YOUR STORY SERIOUSLY. Don’t fuck around with editing techniques that constantly pull your audience out of the story and remind them every ten seconds that you’re watching a movie. And not just any movie, but a COMIC BOOK MOVIE. Ang Lee, what the fuck happened to you? I know you know how to tell a story. But this, I don’t know what this is... even if we forget the horrible transitions, the structure really needed a good going-over. They fight, run, time for some introspection, oops, time to fight again, now run, and then another spot of down time, and then another fight... didn’t we go through this with Matrix Reloaded? What was with that scene in the end where father and son meet bathed in bright white light and Daddy’s raving like a lunatic? Nick Nolte’s character was so one-dimensional, you can’t sympathize when he confesses to killing his wife. And when Ang inserts that shot of him kissing baby Bruce at the end it’s just a case of too little, too late, who the fuck gives a damn? The accident scene where Bruce gets the gamma radiation was so Undramatic. I mean, he gets solarized, for God’s sakes. If you’ve ever played with your camera or photoshop, solarization isn’t exactly an impressive effect. Then the constant cuts to molecular-level agitation. Hulk hiding in a closet like some boogeyman. The lake climax was a disaster for me. Daddy talks to Bruce underwater? Then he expands to some balloon above the lake that’s projecting 2D memories on its sides in a 1.83:1 aspect ratio? Man, it’s just thisclose above Daredevil. Oh, and who can forget the explosion that froze Josh Lucas into an outlined 2-dimensional figure? For a second I thought I was watching Austin Powers or something.

Ahh... most of my anger really comes from being disappointed. I mean, $120 million budget, Ang Lee directing, story by James Schamus... what happened? Is Danny Elfman the go-to guy for superhero film scores now? And did they really have to use the comic book font for the title credits?

Surprisingly, the best superhero film of the summer (so far, though I doubt LXG will unseat this) is fucking Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. It’s fun, enjoyable, with all the gratuituous cheesecake shots, decent jabs at comedy, clever use of pop music, and more effective action scenes than Reloaded (and that’s saying something). Of course, don’t bother looking for a story, just be glad Crispin Glover’s back. And they’ve got superpowers.

ADDED: Sorry, I forgot all about X2, still the best superhero film of the summer. It's just my brain was numbed to submission by the general disappointment of Reloaded and Hulk that it immediately attached itself to Charlie's Angels as manna from heaven.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Well, the results are in: health went first, with sanity a close second. I have a bad cold, the throat went nuts recently, swollen to the point that I had difficulty swallowing. Worst of all, I almost threw up on the set of Marilou Diaz-Abaya's Moral Ngayon last Monday. I had a bad headache and just general nausea from lack of sleep and oxygen, and being under hot lights (we were extras). Also had a near-brush with fever that I was thankfully able to shake off. Yesterday I met with Lyndon, and spent the whole afternoon jamming on the storyline to Big Thing. It was a lot of fun. I'm less scared of it now. We surprised ourselves with the scenes that we came up with, and at the very least I think that they're hilarious and fun. Chris laughed when I told him about them when he visited, so that's a good sign. Also wrote a second storyline that's more what I want to do with Big Thing, but it's a gamble. I don't know if Viva will like it. Either way, both storylines are with them now, as well as a character sheet, and they said they'd give us feedback as soon as tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

I can't believe the last film I saw was Sanib. Still have yet to see Hulk.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

I'm a little sick. My throat feels terrible and I have a cold, which is not good. I need rest but it's probably not forthcoming for a while. Progress on Keka proceeds apace, and production on First Time has begun. Have taken on another project that will probably break my back. It's a Big Thing, supposedly, but on a Very Tight Schedule. As in the storyline is due on Wednesday, and a full script in roughly two weeks. So we'll see what goes first: my health or my sanity. My readings document is already in the 250+ page range. It'll probably get worse before it gets any better. I actually don't have time to see Hulk. Today was Fete de la Musique (and Chris's birthday); I wish I was in better health to properly appreciate it. Finally got to see Cambio live, and hear more than one song, and they're great. The best of luck to 'em. Also got to see the Itchyworms! after a long time. Still great. Have to do research on Big Thing, which is almost impossible because of the Very Tight Schedule. Should be fun, but is equally scary. I'm rambling, aren't I? This is what happens when you don't sleep much, I guess. I haven't been this busy since junior year, probably. Only got to see 6 films at the French Film Festival this year. Usually I almost get to see everything. But what can I say? I can't think of a better reason to be so busy: I'm working, in however small the capacity, on movies. Only thing that could beat that right now is traveling to Northampton to meet Alan Moore.

Monday, June 16, 2003

It's amusing that for the past two weeks there have been no new pirated DVDs, not because our PNP or VRB or whoever it is whose job it is have been effective at raiding, rounding up, and putting a stop to them, but because Malaysia's been cracking down on its pirates, and that's where we apparently get all our swag from.


I've been on a little Alan Moore trip lately. Which doesn't happen too often, because being a big fan (he IS my favorite writer, after all) I tend to get his works as soon as they come out, unless I'm particularly cash-strapped, or opt to wait for the inevitable collection. It just so happens, though, that this summer a number of his works are coming out: some new, but most are older works being re-published, or collected for the first time. For example, since Stardust I've slowly been working through Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman, which is actually a tribute book. A large number of people in the comics industry contributed articles, anecdotes, reminiscences, artwork, short stories, etc. about the man and his works, all told adding up to 352 pages. All proceeds go to Alzheimer's charities, and the book is a gift to Moore on the occasion of his turning 50 (this November). The book also boasts a new interview, a rare short story he wrote for Dame Darcy to illustrate in her own book Meatcake, and a lengthy correspondence with Cerebus creator Dave Sim that originally appeared in the back pages of 4 issues of Cerebus, and largely concerned itself with From Hell, Moore's grandest opus thus far. A little frustrating is the fact that I own some of these rarities: the Cerebus issues and Meatcake short story I special-ordered from a friend of mine. Ah, well, I should be glad that more people get to read it now. The pieces that have touched me most in the book are the ones that don't discuss Moore's works, or his status as a magus, but just how he is as a human being.

Because the man seems to be a saint. I'm sure he's got his negative qualities, as do we all, but for a writer of his stature and popularity, it's surprising how down-to-earth he is, how amiable and kind and friendly and… well, just nice. Joel Meadows, a journalist, talks about how Moore was nice enough to pick him up at the train station, and fed him at his favorite Italian restaurant (where he apparently takes all press), and even escorted him back to the train station when it was time to leave. One cartoonist discusses how he met Moore, his idol, at a convention, and was floored when Moore recognized his name. It seems that Moore knew his name from the few fanzines that the cartoonist had work published in. Which you don't expect the most famous comic writer of this age to keep abreast of. Not only that, a few weeks later an editor called up the cartoonist for some work, and when he asked who recommended him, the editor informed him that it was Moore. So Moore actually gave him his start in professional comics, even though he hardly knew the man. My favorite story is probably John Higgins's, though. Higgins is probably best known for being the colorist of Watchmen and Batman: The Killing Joke. Higgins relates how, even though he knew he was "just" the colorist and wouldn't be recognized on the same level as Moore and Watchmen illustrator Dave Gibbons, they nonetheless treated him as an equal during meetings to discuss the book: they valued his input, listened to his suggestions, etc. A complete absence of ego and pretension. But he relates this personal story as well: what he will never forget, he says, is the image of Moore, at the height of his fame, attending a mid-80s San Diego Comic Convention, the biggest of its kind in North America. He was wearing a white pin-striped suit, was an imposing figure (being well over 6 feet tall), and was the star attraction of the Con, but was most concerned and preoccupied with keeping a 6-year-old girl from being bored. He was trying to regale her with stories and other things she might find in comic books. What made it personal for Higgins was that the 6-year-old was his daughter.

Another Suburban Romance also came out last week, and it's an adaptation of some of his songs into comics stories. For completists only, really. The wordplay alone is worth it for those hardcore fans, though, among whom I certainly number.

Writing For Comics came out the same time, and it collects a 4-part essay he'd written in the mid-80s, with a new essay appraising the work after a 15-year span. I read it tonight and the new essay is particularly inspiring. It really gave me a lot to think about, and really asks the important questions anyone in any creative field should think about. He writes about the dangers of stagnation and complacency in your work, actually rails against the establishment of a recognizable style because they become traps. Fascinating.

And just last night I got my hands on the 5th collection of his Swamp Thing run, Earth to Earth, which had moments where I had to put the book down and silently enjoy what I'd just read because I wanted to stand up and cheer. It reminded me of when I first read V For Vendetta. I wait with bated breath for the 6th, and last, collection, but it's due at the end of July yet.

So I'm going through the motions of falling in love with my favorite writer all over again, which I think should happen every now and then. It's healthy. It makes you happy to be alive, if only to read such great works.

Still to come this summer are a new, American edition of his one and only novel, Voice of the Fire; a re-imagining of one of his seminal indie 80s works, The Mirror of Love; the second collection of his Supreme run; a collection of his various DC stories; another book celebrating his career, boasting a new interview and some other rare short works; and the coup de gras: a handsome new edition of the original League of Extraordinary Gentlemen mini-series, just in time for the sure-to-disappoint summer blockbuster.

Oh, and Stardust was wonderful. Not as epic as I expected it to be, but that's not a complaint, just an observation. Brought a tear to my eye at the end. Probably my favorite of his prose works post-Sandman so far. Or have I mentioned this before? I'm starting to forget things...

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Last Sunday, on the ride home from my uncle's birthday, I conceived a plot. A story idea formed in my head, and it was good enough to me that it made me happy. This should happen now and then, if one fancies oneself a storyteller, but for the life of me I couldn't remember the last time. It has no ending, and it's difficult to come up with one that isn't either a) cliché or b) predictable, so it's a challenge. But one I welcome wholeheartedly. The challenge should be part of the fun. You have to one-up yourself, come up with an idea that will surprise you and delight you.

And just tonight, I got another story idea, though it's actually less of an idea, more of an ending, to be honest. So it kind of complements my Sunday idea. I got a book on Film Noir because I wanted to research on the subject; one of my dream films is a noir, but with a few tricks up its sleeve. I've had notes on this project since freshman college, but flipping through the book I came up with a better, more fitting ending than the one I already had. But I still like that original ending, it's just less potent in the previous context. So I've to come up with a new one for it since I like it so much. So it actually splits my project into two noirs now. Cool, no?

Anyway, what I'm getting at is the sheer elation and joy that comes with stumbling upon an idea. After getting the idea in the car, the whole rest of the ride home I had a stupid grin on my face, and I texted Neva immediately, I was so excited. You feel like laughing out loud, like a child. Your senses become hyper-acute for a few minutes. You're not aware of the stupid grin on your face. Your eyes will twinkle with possibilities and your head will spin with choices and directions. It is the best high, better than anything I can imagine any psychedelic drug's effects to be. The creation of something from nothing.

It can cheer me up for days. Most of the time I'm gloomy.

It reminds me of something Steven Soderbergh said. It was an interview after he'd won his Oscars for Traffic. He was on a hot streak, what with Out of Sight, The Limey, Erin Brockovich, and Traffic. His next project was Ocean's Eleven, to be followed immediately by Full Frontal and Solaris. Talking about the awards and accolades he'd received for his work, Soderbergh said "I'd give it all up for a dash of inspiration." And when you have those ideas, you'll completely understand that sentence. And if you've already had those moments of ideas, and you still don't understand what he said, then you probably never will.

Mind you, I'm not saying these two ideas I've had recently are great to anybody other than me. They made me happy, giddy like a schoolboy; that's enough. I really hope I live to be forty. Hopefully by then I'll have gotten these three ideas out of my system.

I really need to organize these story ideas, though. I've lost dozens of them to the ether out of sheer laziness. I didn't jot them down. Never trust your memory to do what it should, because when it doesn't, you won't even know about it. I hope one day that these Lost Ideas return to me, though, more mature, better, stronger from their time in Ideaspace.

Hm. This turned out to be longer than I thought. What I was getting at was that I haven't felt very creative in a long, long time. And I'm quite happy that the Sunday idea is not the kind of thing I usually come up with. So there.


Here's the newest sampling of weird things people were looking for when they stumbled onto this blog:

dalandan fruits picture
scared lolita pics
j.lo coveralls
masturbating on aunt
pictures of humans and mermaids kissing
jose rizal fun facts
alan rickman singing
topless mermaids
topless billy corgan pics
celebrities AND headache sufferers
lia martinez quark
v for vendetta ramon

and this batch's winner is

pictures of halle berry being shot with lasers

Sunday, June 08, 2003

“It’s my belief that history is a wheel.
‘Inconstancy is my very essence,’ says the wheel.
‘Rise up on my spokes if you like,
but don’t complain when you’re cast back down into the depths.
Good times pass away, but then so do the bad.
Mutability is our tragedy, but it’s also our hope.
The worst of times, like the best,
are always passing away.”

-- Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy; from 24 Hour Party People, written by Frank Cottrell Boyce, directed by Michael Winterbottom

Wise words from a street philosopher.


I finished yesterday what I hope to be the final draft of my third of First Time, actually missing Keka Shoot Day 3 in the process. Shooting is slated to begin on the 16th, though casting hasn’t been locked yet. So things are moving on that front. More when I know more.


Another thing I realized about Reloaded: I really, REALLY miss the gunfights. The last great arc had guns blazing, and Reloaded was mostly martial arts, and slow martial arts at that. And I never thought I’d say this, but the fight sequences are too long. They don’t end on a proper note, because usually the climax had already been reached a few minutes ago.

But enough about that.


There’s obviously lots of things to catch up on, but I wanted to say that I’ve been enjoying DJ Shadow’s work recently. I’ve been a fan since UNKLE, of which he’s one half (the other being James Lavelle). There was a considerable gap between Endtroducing… and The Private Press, his latest album, and the first single sported a video directed by Wong Kar Wai. About a week ago I was driving home and listening to a great song, I don’t remember the name but it’s the ninth track on Pre-Emptive Strike. When I got home, the song wasn’t done yet, so I just sat in the car with the lights off and waited for the song to finish. It was that good. And when was the last time you ever did that?

More recently, though, I’ve been listening to Weezer’s Blue album, their first. It’s one of the most perfect albums ever made, in my opinion, one of those rare times that every single track is great, like Pearl Jam’s Ten or Elliott Smith’s X/O and Either/Or, or REM’s Automatic For The People, or Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream (yes, I like Silverfuck). I hadn’t heard it in several years, and Neva’d never heard it, so I borrowed it from Chris and when I played it in the car, I was glad to see that I still had most of the lyrics memorized. Even though I hadn’t heard most of these songs in a while, they had such an effect on me when they first came out that they’d basically emblazoned themselves into the neurons of my memory, and it was like an old friend coming by for a visit: you haven’t seen them in some time but everything’s familiar: how they move and speak, gestures and looks, scents and figures of speech. I hope it didn’t bother Neva too much that I was singing almost every track. But on the way home, alone, it was worse. I was actually singing my heart out on “Say It Ain’t So,” at full blast, to the point that I was a little exhausted when I got home. And “Only In Dreams” can still bring a tear to my eye.

I really wish I knew how to play some instrument.


For you Neil Gaiman fans, you can click here to read the short short stories he wrote for Tori Amos’s Strange Little Girls Tourbook.


Please read this. It’s a special piece by one of my favorite columnists, Steven Grant. It’s not new, but I was thinking about it recently and decided to link it. He asked readers to send several postcards with no text and weird landscapes, and made a story that linked everything. And it works pretty well, I think. The order of postcards in the story is the order in which they arrived. He’s one of those people who still tries to create something new in comics, challenging further the convenient definitions we have for it. Amazing.

And here is the website poem generator. Put in a URL, it’ll make a “poem” out of its contents. Thus, for your amusement and delectation:


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