Showing posts from December, 2022

Astonishing X-Men #2 (2004)

  Random Marvels Project Dipping my net into the ocean of Marvel and seeing what comes up. Writer: Joss Whedon  Artist: John Cassaday  While Dr. Kavita Rao, inventor of a cure for mutants, uses sensational footage to announce her find to the public… …the X-men make their reappearance as a traditional superhero team. The counteragent for the mutant stain provides a potent ethical dilemma that mirrors an issue that has been raised in the deaf community: to what extent is one simply treating a medical condition and to what extent is one invalidating a way of being and damaging a community? It appears that Hank McCoy is about to go through a dilemma of his own. Joss Whedon’s snappy script and John Cassaday’s fantastic art really makes this series sing.

Whale Rider (2002)

Director: Niki Caro Writers: Niki Caro, from the book by Witi Ihimaera Stars: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene, Cliff Curtis, Vicky Haughton, Grant Roa, Mana Taumaunu, Rachel House, Taungaroa Emile Twelve-year-old Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes) is the  heir to the chief (Rawiri Paratene) of a Māori tribe that is losing touch with its traditions.  As a girl, however, she is not qualified to assume this position, even though her father (Cliff Curtis) is not willing to fill the position.   Pai feels a tremendous load of guilt and responsibility toward both her people and her stern grandfather as a result--she feels that she can be the kind of leader her people need if only she were given a chance.   This fine film explores the tension between the necessity and inevitability of change as well as the importance of respecting tradition.   The cast of this film is magnificent.   Castle-Hughes gives the finest performance by a child actor that I have ever seen--even better than Sean Nelson in

Up in the Air (2009)

Director: Jason Reitman Writers: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, from the novel by Walter Kirn Stars: George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, Vera Farmiga, Melanie Lynskey, Jason Bateman, Amy Morton, J.K. Simmons, Sam Elliott Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) likes his unencumbered  lifestyle--as a corporate downsizing consultant, he spends most of the year traveling across the country, breaking the news to the formerly employed that their positions are "no longer available" and "preparing" them for the next stage of their life by handing them a packet.   A number of events conspire to cause him to reevaluate his life: he is assigned the task of showing the ropes to a young up-and-comer (Anna Kendrick) who wants to rock his industry, he meets a woman (Vera Farmiga) that he actually wants to spend more time with, and a sister (Melanie Lynskey) he rarely sees decides to get married.   This perceptive film about life, work, and the deep insecurities we all feel in precarious econ

Life of Brian (1979)

Director: Terry Jones Writers: Graham Chapman & John Cleese & Terry Gilliam & Eric Idle & Terry Jones & Michael Palin Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Terence Baylor, Carol Cleveland When I was 16 years old, I proudly crossed a picket  line of outraged fundamentalists to see "Monty Python's Life of Brian."   I was a big Python fan at that time and remain one to this day.  I got a lot more from a recent viewing than I did as a teenager.  With relentless, deceptively intelligent silliness, Britain's most famous comedy troupe skewers the cliches of countless Hollywood biblical epics while finding the lighter side of public stonings and crucifixion.   Some of the sharpest scenes skewer divisive resistance movements that are long on talk and short on action.  This is a terrific comedy.

Ran (1985)

Director: Akira Kurosawa Writers: Akira Kurosawa and Hideo Oguni and Masato Ide, based on a play by William Shakespeare Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai,  Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryu, Mieko Harada, Mansai Nomura, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Hisashi Igawa We meet the warlord Hidetora (Tatsuya Nakadai)  as a pleasant old man, satisfied with his success in life, desiring only to bring peace to the land by dividing his kingdom among his three sons (Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, and Daisuke Ryu) and to spend his waning years spending time with each in turn.   Soon, the colossal hubris of the man becomes apparent.  He disowns the one son who has the integrity to tell him to his face that his idyllic plan will never work.  Hidetora should have listened.   After a lifetime of subjugating others with his armies, he believes that his desires will come to pass simply because he wishes it.   However, his remaining sons have been raised in the house of a warlord during a time of constant warfare, and they ha