Thursday, October 02, 2003

From my brainpan to yours

I'm chugging away, slowly, at the PETER ROTTENTAIL rewrite for the Polonia Brothers. I'm going to try to get a batch of this done over the weekend. Fingers crossed. The Bros want to get shooting on this one in a week or two, now that hail is falling in Pennsylvania and movies about girls in bikinis getting eaten by pirahna get harder and harder to shoot.

UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN by Jon Krakauer, a harrowing nonfiction story of Mormon fundamentalism, penned by one of my favorite writers. Hard to put down.

DROP CITY by T.C. Boyle. I hate to admit that I actually gave up on Ha Jin's THE CRAZED halfway through, but I did. It reminded me of what it was like to be in China in the mid 80s, but the storytelling was leaden. I might try it again in another frame of mind, though. Boyle's latest is another crunchy, complex opus, this time centered around a commune in the dying days of the Free Love era.

NAUSICAA AND THE VALLEY OF THE WIND, a manga by Hayao Mizaki, the guy who did SPIRITED AWAY and other. Intricate drawing, interesting post-apocalyptic, pro-nature story.

There's not one single new show that has set me on fire; but the season premiere of LAW AND ORDER was really good.

ASTROESQUE:I’ve been a fan of Mike Allred’s writing and art since his Madman Comics days, on forward to his offbeat “mutant beatnik� comic series THE ATOMICS and his current work on the oft-controversial X-STATIX (recently in the news for a storyline featuring Princess Di coming back from the dead as a superhero). His freshman directorial effort is ASTROESQUE, part of a multimedia triple-play tied into his RED ROCKET 7 comic for Dark Horse Comics. Allred wrote and drew a comic book, directed and started in a movie, and produced and played on a concept album, all stand-alone projects but with united themes.
ASTROESQUE tells the story of a time-traveling, space-faring “guardian angel� (Allred) who intervenes to help prevent the untimely death of an average joe (Matt Brundage), infuriating a fringe militia group in the process (though there is a convincing argument that if the “guardian angel� didn’t show up, nobody would be shooting at the guy anyway!). Plenty of slow-motion gun battles and some quasi-religious philosophical debates ensue.
The feature is stylistically offbeat, with directorial homages from Sergio Leone to Alejandro Jodorowsky, all set to a mosh-pit Morricone score. An admirable cinematography effort is offset slightly by some ill-timed edits, an occasionally spotty sound mix, and a few lukewarm performances, reportedly by Allred’s family and friends (though it’s hard to believe that it was shot in a “free weekend� as the opening credits seem to suggest). Allred himself, with his Banderas hairstyle, his Eastwood thousand-yard stare, and his coat borrowed from Laurence Fishburne, is very magnetic, and probably the baddest-looking dude every to draw comic books for a living (though John Romita Jr. is a close second).
This one's hard to find; Trent at the local comics shop loaned it to me.

Give me a yell at

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