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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 26 January 2011

For if the sun is at the center and not the earth, then there are no crystal spheres to hold us in; we have only and always fooled ourselves, we men, kept ourselves within the spheres which our own flawed and insufficient senses perceived, but which were never there at all. The way to ascend through the spheres that hem us in was to know that we had already so ascended, and were on our way, in motion unstoppably. (John Crowley, from Aegypt)

I hid the Totally Random Hottie link somewhere.  Can you find it? Time for monkeyshines! Darick Robertson draws all good and shit Hot damn, Jock is awesome What?  A scene from the comic on the cover?  That simply is not done! Greg Land's worst quality?  His blandness Old school, baby! So much freakiness! He's definitely gotten better, but this is still cool-looking I've been waiting ...

Chaos War #5 (of 5) (“The End is Here”) by Greg Pak (writer), Fred van Lente (writer), Khoi Pham (penciler), Thomas Palmer (inker), Bob McLeod (inker), Sunny Gho (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Pak and van Lente finish up this strange, non-impact crossover in perhaps not the most clever way but certainly in a logical way – it hasn’t been too hard to see what they’re going to do, but it still fits everything that’s come before, and it allows them to clean up any lingering plot threads they’ve had over the past few years of writing these characters. It’s been an entertaining mini-series, not really worth the 4 bucks a pop for each issue, but I was willing to put up with it because it was part of the bigger story they were telling, which is really worth your time (going back to World War Hulk, when the book became about Hercules and not the Hulk, that is). We get decent action, more witty remarks, Delphyne expressing her non-hatred of Amadeus, the usual wonderful sound effects (including the one below, which comes after Hercules tries to answer the Chaos King in haiku but gives up halfway through), and at the end, some people remain not-dead anymore, so there’s that (it would have been awesome if a certain member of the Fantastic Four had been there, resurrected the very week that person died). I find it interesting that at the end, it’s announced that the “eighth & final volume” of The Incredible Hercules has come to an end – both because van Lente and Pak have obviously treated the various mini-series since the ongoing was cancelled as part of the ongoing and because, on the next page, there’s an advert for the new Hercules ongoing coming in April. I assume it won’t be called “Incredible,” hence the finalness of this “volume,” but that does crack me up. But hey – the same writers writing these two characters, with the possibility of lots of Delphyne? Sign me up!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

I can't stop loving the sound effects!

Fables #101 (“The Ascent”) by Bill Willingham (writer), Eric Shanower (penciller), Richard Friend (inker), Andrew Pepoy (inker), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

One of my favorite non-fiction books is Robert Kaplan’s Balkan Ghosts, a passage of which I quoted last week in the above-the-cut quote of this column. Kaplan’s critics tend to be liberals who think he’s a bit of a hardliner, but whatever you think of his politics, he’s an amazing travel writer who gets to the core of a region better than most political thinkers. In Balkan Ghosts, he quotes a person who gives us one of my favorite descriptions of politics I’ve ever read: “Here the men sit back like the old men of Crete, talking about nationalism and hate while the women do all the work.” I thought of this quote while I was reading the latest issue of Fables. I think Willingham’s treatment of the female characters in Fables has generally been positive, whatever you think of his politics, but he has misstepped every so often (Kelly will tell you that turning Frau Totenkinder young and having her run off with a man is his most egregious example). So I found it humorous that it felt like he was subverting the noble quests of the men in this series – many men have gone on noble quests – in this particular issue, as Bufkin, the Magic Mirror, and Frankenstein’s Monster’s Head sit around and talk about what Bufkin can do now that he’s vanquished all the enemies in the Fabletown business office. The men, of course, speak of more noble quests and becoming kings and pie-in-the-sky kinds of things, while all around them, the tiny women who helped defeat Baba Yaga clean up. What? you might say. The womenfolk are doing all the housework? Well, yes. But Willingham slyly makes the men objects of a bit of ridicule – they’re so goofy, despite Bufkin’s heroics in the office, that it becomes clear that the women are the only ones who realize that the office is a mess and someone better clean the damned place up. Sure enough, Bufkin goes off on another quest, foolishly trusting the Magic Mirror’s plan to become even more of a hero, and while Willingham has to follow him because watching people clean up is not the stuff of good fiction, we never quite shake the sense that he’s making fun of Bufkin, even as Bufkin seizes another opportunity to play the hero. If that makes any sense, congratulations – you’re thinking like I am!

Shanower is an inspired choice to draw this issue, mainly because of what Shanower has been connected to recently, and he does a marvelous job. For reasons I won’t get into here, Lee Loughridge’s coloring job is masterful, and really brings the issue to life. I know that the new arc is dealing with the Fables Superhero Team, so I don’t know when we’ll check back in with Bufkin, but I hope Willingham demands that Shanower draw those issues. Because that would be awesome.

Am I way off-base with my reading of this issue? Chime on in!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

I don't know - big ape climbing the world's tallest building sells itself, I should think!

Freakshow #1 (of 3) by David Server (writer), Jackson Lanzing (writer), Joe Suitor (artist), and Zach Metheny (letterer). $3.95, 48 pgs, FC, Ape Entertainment.

I bought this at San Diego last July, but the creators told us it wouldn’t be out until January, so I waited to review it. Well, it came out this week, so here’s a review! See how I did that?

First of all, I know the economic factors are different for companies like Ape and for companies like Marvel and DC, but I love that plenty of tiny publishers are able to sell comics for 4 dollars and fit in anywhere between 25-50 pages, like this one, but if you put 25 pages in a typical Marvel comic they call it “double-sized” and charge 5 bucks for it and DC can’t even “hold the line” on 22 pages of story for $2.99. It cracks me up, I tells ya. Again, I know there’s a difference in how they do business and who they need to pay, but still.

Anyway, Freakshow is a comic. I’m not sure if I can say it’s surprisingly good, because I didn’t really have any expectations going in, but it is a good comic with a fairly keen hook and quite good art. The actual plot is something we’ve seen before – an experiment goes wrong, turning people into monsters who are then ostracized by society – but as with most plots, the power is in the details, and the writers get a lot right as they tell the story. We start with a group of soldiers entering a forbidden zone where the monsters live, which turns out not to be a good idea. Only one of their group survives (I’ll get back to her), and when she is back in the secure zone, we learn a bit more about what has happened to the world. A wonderfully wacky mad scientist, Dr. Gaghen, created something called “smoke” – a chemical compound that unlocks human evolutionary potential. He used smoke to create a superhero, but after that, the smoke started affecting people in different ways – killing most of them (including the superhero, who it seems got a second dose that wasn’t as effective as the first) and changing a small percentage into monsters. Dr. Gaghen now wants to kill the monsters, while, of course, they want to survive and take revenge. Server and Lanzing focus on Critter, a young man who’s the most innocent of the group (that’s him crouching on the cover – he’s wearing a mask, and underneath he looks relatively normal), which is a pretty good way to get us into the story – he seems the most “normal” and so therefore we can relate to him a bit better. I was a bit confused by the survivor, a young woman who looks like a teenager but I guess is old enough to be a soldier. Critter lets her go (a crush, perhaps?) and it seems as if the rest of his group knows that she’s alive, but they tell him they shouldn’t leave survivors. So why don’t they go and kill her? Beats me. Maybe they don’t know she’s alive. It was a bit confusing.

Server and Lanzing are obviously setting up the heroes and villains, with Critter wondering if the “freaks” really need to live out in the wasteland and kill anyone who ventures near them and Jacquelin Murphy (the survivor) perhaps being presented as the hardened soldier who realizes the freaks are just people, man! (I’m not writing that with 100% confidence – Murphy could remain a hard-ass soldier who does the bidding of the mad scientist, but she feels like that kind of character). Meanwhile, Suitor’s art is quite good – his style is what I think of as “European” – a bit more delicate linework and muted colors – I know I’m generalizing, but that’s just the way it is. He uses computer effects sparingly and well, and while the backgrounds in the panels are nondescript and don’t give us a good sense of what kind of world this is, his figure work is quite well done. The “freaks” of the title are neat-looking, and there’s some nice horror touches that make the book a bit scarier.

I didn’t pre-order issues #2 and 3, so I probably won’t read them any time soon as my store probably won’t have any copies lying around. I assume that if I can’t find them, the creators will be at San Diego again this year and I can pick them up there. This is a pretty solid first issue and it’s a decent value, as well. If you see it lying around, you could do a lot worse than picking this up!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yeah, nobody wants to see that!

Scalped #45 (“You Gotta Sin to Get Saved Part One of Five: Running to Stand Still”) by Jason Aaron (writer), R. M. Guéra (artist), Giulia Brusco (colorist), and Steve Wands (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Aaron begins his new storyline, and really, what is there to say? As we get further and further along with Scalped, it’s just a pleasure to read along and marvel at everything contained within. We’re back focusing on Dash and Red Crow and their machinations, as Red Crow faces a challenge from a more traditional Indian who wants to become tribal president and Dash continues to rise in his estimation, much to Shunka’s chagrin. The biggest problem I have with the issue is that this kind of triangle always seems to come up in gangster fiction – the Old Boss has relied on someone for a long time and takes them for granted, and when a Young Turk comes along, he immediately starts trusting that guy more than the Old-School Dude. So Old-School Dude doesn’t trust the Young Turk, Old Boss tells Old-School Dude to shut up, and resentment lingers until it comes to a head. The problem with this is that Old-School Dude is almost always right – Old Boss shouldn’t necessarily trust the Young Turk. I honestly don’t know how Aaron plans on playing this out, and I trust him to get it right (just as he handled Carol’s pregnancy extremely well, I’m sure he’ll handle this well), but I get a bit annoyed when these characters fall into gangster stereotypes. Oh well – Aaron makes up for it when Red Crow visits his rival and sees something that freaks him out. It shows once again that Aaron is really doing a wonderful job with these characters – Red Crow is still a villain, but this issue, more than many, shows his many sides: Yes, he’s done horrible, horrible things (as a beautiful page by Guéra shows), but he’s not a strictly evil man. It’s always impressive to see how Aaron continues to reveal nuances to these characters.

It’s a new year, but some things remain the same: Scalped is damned good. You know it’s true!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Nothing good, of that you can be sure!

The Sixth Gun #8 (“Crossroads Part Two”) by Cullen Bunn (writer), Brian Hurtt (artist/letterer), and Bill Crabtree (colorist). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

Bunn and Hurtt continue on their merry way, bringing us fine, quality, four-color entertainment! Last issue the principals ended up in New Orleans, where Drake went deep into the swamp to figure out if he could get rid of his cursed guns while Becky met a dashing gunslinger who just has to be evil, doesn’t he? Most of the issue concerns Drake’s journey to the heart of the swamp, where he meets a man who wants nothing to do with him or his guns but whose servant (that’s him on the cover!) is in the thrall of some voodoo ghost (that’s her on the cover!) and is told to go get the guns. His first attempt fails, but presumably he’s try again! Meanwhile, bad dudes are heading to town. Isn’t that always the way?

As usual, Hurtt’s stellar art is on display – he does a marvelous job with Fournier’s decrepit mansion in the swamps, showing both its rot and the fact that it was once a delightful place. Drake and Fournier have coffee in a pleasant alcove, as through the windows, the swamp keeps encroaching. Drake’s battle against the alligators is very well done, too, and Crabtree’s coloring makes Becky’s stroll through New Orleans with Kirby Hale look like it’s occurring in a different world entirely from Drake’s journey. While I like everything about this comic, the look of it makes it stand out – it’s sharper and brighter than a lot of other comics, drawing you effortlessly into this strange world. Even if you don’t like the story (and why wouldn’t you?), the book is a pleasure to look at, which is nice.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

You know, a real man woulda rassled that gator!

Thunderbolts #152 by Jeff Parker (writer), Kev Walker (artist), Frank Martin (colorist), and Albert Deschesne (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I decided to give Thunderbolts a shot for a while, as I bought the last two issues on readers’ recommendations and enjoyed them, so what the hell, right? I mean, it might mean I have to go back and buy the other Parker/Walker issues, but what’s a few bucks, right? I don’t need to buy new underwear!

Part of the reason I enjoy this comic is because of Walker’s art. It’s idiosyncratic but still works within a superhero framework, and that’s pretty cool. Some of the artists I love would not work very well on pure superhero books because their style clashes so much with what superheroes are all about, but Walker’s manages to be “superheroic” while still having its quirks. (Before you jump all over me, I’m not saying I wouldn’t love to see some of the more “indy” artists work on superhero books, because as we’ve seen with the anthologies Marvel has been putting out recently, many of them would kick ass on superhero books. I think – although I don’t know – that those quirky artists might not be able to do some of things superhero books need to do – large-scale action, epic grandeur – in order to remain successful. I mentioned I’d love to see Faith Erin Hicks do a Elsa Bloodstone/Boom-Boom comic, but I honestly don’t know if she could draw a big-ass superhero fight and make it look awesome. When it comes to superhero comics, one should never discount the “awesome” factor, and some artists – including some I love a lot – can’t pull that off. In the same way, some artists can’t draw good facial expressions to save their fucking lives.) In this book, for instance, Parker goes to the well of wacky ideas and pulls out “Monsters Attacking Japan” for $100! Now, this can work very well, and while I think the “Monsters Attacking Japan” idea should be put on permanent hiatus because Seth Fisher’s version is its apotheosis, Parker concentrates less on the wackiness of the monsters and more on the new cast member. But Walker still has to draw the damned monsters, and he does a very nice job with it. But he’s still quirky enough that Ghost, for instance, looks downright creepy. The art on the book is a cool blend of mainstream appeal and weird touches.

Parker, meanwhile, brings in Hyperion to join the team, at least temporarily (Luke Cage says they need raw power). It’s clever because they’re aware that in several different realities, Hyperion is a bad-ass villain, and they’re not exactly sure if this Hyperion is a good guy or a bad guy (of course, they’re all “bad guys,” but this particular bad guy could destroy the earth if he wanted to). Hyperion, of course, says he’s a good guy, but what else would he say? So there’s this natural tension throughout the book even though we’re fairly sure it’s going to go pear-shaped. Parker does a good job taking a fairly obvious story and making us actually wonder what’s going to happen.

So, yeah. Thunderbolts. Maybe I’ll have to start buying it all the time, or at least while this creative team is working on it. That’s just what I need – more comics!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Ha! Take that, Hyperion!

Back Issue #46 (“Greatest Stories Never Told! Issue”) by various. $7.95, 80 pgs, BW, TwoMorrows Publishing.

I don’t always get Back Issue, but this time around they’re writing about stories that never saw print. SOLD!!!!!

King of the Flies volume 2: The Origin of the World by Mezzo (writer), Pirus (artist), Ruby (colorist), and Helge Dascher (translator). $18.99, 62 pgs, FC, Fantagraphics.

I didn’t review part one of this series because I knew part two was coming out, and I find myself wondering how many volumes actually exist. I suppose I could find out if I really wanted to, but does anyone know? This is a creepy comic very much in the vein of Charles Burns’ work, so if you’re into that, you might like this!

Off Road by Sean Murphy (writer/artist). $17.99, 123 pgs, BW, IDW.

Our Dread Lord and Master featured this a few years ago when he was doing one of his “Month of Something-Or-Other” posts – that one was about artists. Ever since then, I’ve wondered about this comic, and of course Murphy’s profile is much higher now, so IDW has fired up a collected edition of this! It looks keen, certainly.

The Summit of the Gods volume 2 by Yumemakura Baku (writer) and Jiro Taniguchi (artist). $25.00, 333 pgs, BW, Fanfare/Ponent Mon.

This is only six months late. That’s not too bad, right?

In another world, I’d have cooler stuff on The Ten Most Recent Songs Played On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle)! But I’m seriously uncool, so you have to live with this!

1. “The Rain Song”Led Zeppelin (1973) “I cursed the gloom that set upon us … but I know that I love you so”1
2. “Hiding Out” – Pete Townshend (1985) “Lonely watchers remain unbefriended”
3. “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)”Styx (1977) “Just take your best shot and don’t blow it”
4. “Fire on Babylon”3Sinéad O’Connor (1994) “And all along she gave me lies just to make me think I loved her”
5. “Travelin’ Prayer”Billy Joel (1973) “Hey Lord, would you look out for her tonight and make sure all her dreams are sweet”4
6. “Lights”Journey (1978) “So you think you’re lonely, well my friend, I’m lonely too”
7. “Gett Off” – Prince (1991) “It’s hard for me to say what’s right when all I wanna do is wrong”5
8. “Tobacco Island”Flogging Molly (2004) “This rotten cage of Bridgetown is where I now belong”
9. “Internal Exile”Fish (1991) “Grierson’s spirit haunts the dockyards where the only men working are on documentary crews”
10. “You Said Something”PJ Harvey (2000) “On a rooftop in Brooklyn, one in the morning, watching the lights flash in Manhattan”

1 I honestly wonder whether it should be punishable by death to dislike Led Zeppelin. I mean, I can understand not liking “Stairway to Heaven” simply because of hearing it so many, many times, but anything else? Sacrilege!2
2 Of course, now Dan will show up to say he doesn’t like Led Zeppelin, just ’cause he likes bringing me down, man!
3 Michel Gondry directed this video. Gondry, of course, helmed The Green Hornet, in theaters now!!!!!
4 Banjos rule!!!!!! If you do check out the video, you must wait to see the banjo player and his awesome shirt.
5 Prince has more explicit songs, but this has always felt like his filthiest to me. I think it’s not only the lyrics, but the jazzy flute (jazzy flutes always sound dirty) and the excellent fuzzy guitar. Filthiest Prince song? You be the judge! (Plus, in the video, the drummer wears that great hat!)

Let’s fire up the old Totally Random Movie Quotes!

“Damn you, Senator. You promised me those men would be decently treated.”
“They were decently treated. They were decently fed and then they were decently shot. Those men are common outlaws, nothing more.”

Today’s vexing question: Should a movie (say, Toy Story 3) be allowed to be nominated for both “Best Picture” AND “Best Animated Feature”? I say if a movie is good enough to be nominated for Best Picture then it should forfeit the chance to win Best Animated Feature. That’s just my personal view, and the guy at the comics shoppe disagrees. (I’ll ignore the fact that Toy Story 3 is perhaps the most overrated movie of the year – I like it, but it’s the weakest of the three movies.) So, what say you? And while we’re at it, how does Hailee Steinfeld, who’s in almost every frame of True Grit, cop a “Best SUPPORTING Actress”? nomination. That’s bullshit.

Oh, yeah, comics. I promise, DC fans, that something big is coming. I hope it will arrive on Monday, but we’ll see!

51 Comments

Ethan Hawke was in more scenes in Training Day than Denzel Washington but Washington was nominated as Best Actor while Hawke was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. It’s just something that the voters have always been allowed to do, determine what they felt the role was, lead or supporting. And not for nothing, but when it comes to determining whether a role should be deemed lead or supporting, I figure that the voters (who are all actors themselves) are as qualified as anyone to make the determination, even if they undoubtedly are swayed by politics on occasion.

And having a film nominated for Best Picture and Best Animated Picture is no different than an album being nominated for Best Rock Album and Best Album. There just happens to be a separate award for Animated films. The same thing happens with Best Foreign Films who get nominated for Best Picture or, as I am sure we will see in the future, a Best Documentary Nominee getting a nomination for Best Film (I can almost 100% guarantee that that WILL happen if they keep it at 10 nominees for Best Film – Fahrenheit 911, for instance, rightly or wrongly, would have been nominated for Best Picture if they allowed 10 nominees back then)

ETA: Sorry, I meant Bowling for Columbine not Fahrenheit 911.

Summit of the Gods was a great choice!

I don’t think it’s the actor who gets to make the final call on what category they’re placed in. Studios campaign for people in certain categories all the time, and if what they’re pushing seems like an odd categorization, it’s almost always because they don’t think actor X has a chance in the other category. Given that Natalie Portman is a virtual lock for Best Actress this year, I understand why they’d do this. Ultimately, though, I’m fairly certain the decision of where to put people is up to the nominating committee.

As to Best Overall, to my mind, it depends on what you think the purpose of the Oscars should be. If their primary purpose should be to recognize excellence, then I think a piece of art should be able to win in as many categories as it’s elligible for if it’s legitimately the best in that category. If you think their primary purposed should be to present a show that’s actually entertaining to watch, then yeah, of course the film that’s good enough for the big show is going to suck all the drama out of the more specialized categories it’s in.

Correct, Dave, the nominators make the call. That said, the actors in question almost always make it clear what category they would prefer to be nominated in (and the nominators tend to respect their wishes, since they are all colleagues).

Ethan Hawke was in more scenes in Training Day than Denzel Washington but Washington was nominated as Best Actor while Hawke was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. It’s just something that the voters have always been allowed to do, determine what they felt the role was, lead or supporting. And not for nothing, but when it comes to determining whether a role should be deemed lead or supporting, I figure that the voters (who are all actors themselves) are as qualified as anyone to make the determination, even if they undoubtedly are swayed by politics on occasion.

Doesn’t a lot of that also have to do with billing? I remember Denzel having higher billing than Hawke in that movie, so him getting best actor is definitely plausible.

I don’t think the amount of time in a movie or story was ever the sole criteria for most important character or actor anyway. The marquee value of the actor and the importance of the character also plays a part. For example Great Gatsby is being made with Leo Dicaprio as Jay Gatsby and Maguire as Nick supposedly. Nick is present in the book way more than Gatsby but I bet Leo still gets the top billing.

Oh another one, Apocalypse Now. Martin Sheen has way more screen time than Brando but Brando has top billing, his character is considered the most dominating, interesting one and Brando got the Best Actor award for it. In cases like that I don’t think it’s so much the nominators bucking a trend but rather following the lead of studios, the audience, the creators and everyone else.

How is Frau Totenkinder running off with a man a misstep? She did what usually male heroes do after winning a battle against the Big Bad Guy: she rode off into the sunset. And she specifically says that she was doing it because she never had the opportunity for romance in her life. That isn’t demeaning or stereotypical.

I didn’t know you were a Zeppelin fan, good for you! It should be punishable by death not liking them.

Ach, I somehow misread your initial post, Brian. Apologies for partially restating what you already said.

This month would have been a good month to get Action. Good stuff with The Joker. Two words: Jazz hands.

(I’ll ignore the fact that Toy Story 3 is perhaps the most overrated movie of the year – I like it, but it’s the weakest of the three movies

Put down the crackpipe, Burgas! Toy Story 3 is a masterpiece.

T., I think the Brando example you were thinking of was actually for The Godfather. Brando was nominated for (and won) Best Actor while Pacino (along with Caan and Duvall) was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

Brian and Dave: Oh yeah, I should have been clear that I know WHY she is nominated in that category – the actress nominations are really strong this year (I haven’t seen any of the movies, but from what I’ve heard, I don’t know if Portman is a lock), so I’m sure the studio didn’t want to send essentially a rookie in among the heavyweights. That being said, there ought to be rules about nominating actors who are definitely NOT “supporting” in that category – maybe a percentage of the screen time above which they aren’t “supporting” anymore? The Hawke/Washington thing is a bit less annoying, since it was a coin flip for who was more “supporting” and if they had both been nominated for Best Actor, they probably would have split the vote. But Steinfeld is, as I pointed out, in almost every frame of the movie, plus she’s the only female in the movie, so she’s not splitting a vote with anyone.

As for the Best Picture/Best Animated Feature thing, I see the logic of it, but I don’t like it. I’m not sure that a documentary will eventually get nominated – if Hoop Dreams didn’t get nominated, I’m not sure any will. Hoop Dreams was so much better than, say Forrest Gump that it’s almost as if it shouldn’t be possible for them both to exist in the same universe, but it didn’t get a nomination. So there’s that.

Do you really want me to explain why Toy Story 3 isn’t as good as the first two, Bill? ‘Cause I will!

jjc: Just wait!

I don’t know about screen time allotment. Does anyone have a problem with Anthony Hopkins being the Lead of Silence of the Lambs? Similarly, Duvall is in a lot of scenes in Godfather (perhaps more than Brando), but I don’t think anyone would think he was not a supporting actor (and I’m sure if I gave it more time, I could give you a bunch of other examples). I’d rather just let the nominators decide. Sure, they’ll get it “wrong” sometimes, but most of the times they get it right (or it is such a close call you can’t decide which is right).

I’m not sure that a documentary will eventually get nominated – if Hoop Dreams didn’t get nominated, I’m not sure any will.

Hoop Dreams did not even get nominated for Best Documentary, so that’s not the best comparison.

People wanted Bowling for Columbine to be nominated for Best Picture then, with only five nominees. With ten, it would have been a cinch. And we’ll certainly get a documentary like Bowling for Columbine eventually.

This doesn’t make BfC a better documentary than others (as it wasn’t), but just that it has the support.

If a foreign film can be nominated for Best Picture & Foreign Language Film, as Life is Beautiful was, then there’s no reason an animated film couldn’t be nominated for Picture & Animated Feature Film.

If a foreign film can be nominated for Best Picture & Foreign Language Film, as Life is Beautiful was, then there’s no reason an animated film couldn’t be nominated for Picture & Animated Feature Film.

Well, I presume Greg’s position is that they shouldn’t.

But yeah, I don’t see the problem, either.

Also, I think you’d get some weird rejiggering effects if you banned double-category nominations and accept the premise that Toy Story 3 (or some similar film) is the best animated feature of the year and worthy of a best picture nod. Since nobody seems to think TS3 is actually going to win best picture, you could have a situation where a lesser film wins the animated award and the better film walks away with nothing. Which I’d bet would lead to some studios actively campaigning for their films NOT to be nominated for best picture.

I am pretty sure King of Flies is supposed to be a trilogy.

I didn’t even think about that, Dave, as I just thought it was a given that films in lesser and included categories should be eligible for larger categories (like albums should be eligible to be Best Rock Album and Best Album of the Year), but yeah, for practical purposes, that’s exactly what it would lead to, which is not a good thing.

Do you really want me to explain why Toy Story 3 isn’t as good as the first two, Bill? ‘Cause I will!

If you want. To be honest, I haven’t seen the first two since they first came out on video; I remember them being good, and that’s about it. The third one makes for the third masterpiece in a row for Pixar after WALL-E and Up, though, and it’s the best movie of 2010 I’ve seen that wasn’t Scott Pilgrim. It’s a fantastic escape movie with a marvelous attention to detail, plus a commentary on elder care, plus a wonderful story about nostalgia, with an ending that left me bawling. Bawling, I say!

I also think it’s bizarre and stupid that Steinfeld isn’t up for best actress. It’s obviously a strategic ploy, but such bullshit. Anyone who’s only seen the commercials/trailers could be forgiven if they think Bridges is the main character, though. Anyway, Steinfeld was just fantastic in that movie.

Also, without question, Toy Story 3 is the best of the three and I just watched them back to back to back, so no I’m not forgetting how great the original two are.

Get with it, Burgas!

Toy Story 3 is the best of the three, and the best movie of the year. Even Burgas cannot take that away from us.

Well, I don’t want my wife to be executed, so I think not liking Led Zep should result in nothing more than 20 hours of community service and having to register as a musical-taste offender. She likes the Clash & Ramones, though, so I think a plea could be worked out.

Toy Story 3 was more moving and just as funny as the previous 2 installments. The added emotional weight gives it more resonance than the others. And of course animated movies should be eligible for best picture.

I don’t see many movies anymore, but for 2010, True Grit and Inception were both better than Toy Story 3. I know that might make it the third best movie of the year, but still.

I would definitely say in terms of animation, it’s a bit above the other two, but that’s not surprising given the technological advances. The reason it’s the weakest of the three is because of two things: the fate of Lotso and the sappiness. The first reason has to do with being a parent, and I thought it would have been a nice lesson if Lotso had reformed and realized the truth of what Woody and the others were saying. It’s not that big a deal, but when the “bad guy” isn’t totally evil, I think redemption is off the table for too many movies. If it’s just a good guy vs. bad guy thing, it’s fine to vanquish him, but what Toy Story 3 (and #2 with Stinky Pete) teaches us is that misguided people are beyond the pale and deserve their punishment. We laugh at Lotso’s final scene because a sad toy got what he deserved? I guess, but it felt like a movie for kids could have been tweaked just enough for Lotso to find redemption and not come across as too moralizing.

The sappiness was worse, for me. This was a movie made, it seems, by baby boomers who are just now, in their late 40s and 50s, starting to bemoan a loss of innocence. Andy’s reactions throughout the movie just don’t seem like those of an 18-year-old. I would challenge anyone who’s reading to claim they acted that way around their old toys when they were leaving for college. The first movie remains the best because it doesn’t fall into sappiness – it tells a story that feels more like a “real” story with real reactions by the characters. Toy Story 3 is a movie for adults who are overly nostalgic for a time that never really existed, and while I dig sentimentality as much as the next guy, I hate sappiness. The third movie goes straight into sappiness, and it feels far too treacly for me. But that’s just me.

Brian: Dang, I forgot that Hoop Dreams wasn’t even nominated for Documentary. What a crock that was!

rs david: Thanks for the info!

Scalped has had some brilliant covers and this latest one is up with my faves of the entire series.

My current rankings have Scott Pilgrim and Toy Story 3 tied for best movie of the year, with Inception and True Grit following behind. But then, I won’t nail down a proper 2010 list until, like, July, or whenever I get around to seeing everything worth seeing via Netflix.

Andy’s reactions throughout the movie just don’t seem like those of an 18-year-old. I would challenge anyone who’s reading to claim they acted that way around their old toys when they were leaving for college.

Well, I didn’t, that’s true, but I also still own most of my toys, and knew they’d still be there when I came back home from school. You’ll have to pry my talking ALF from my cold, dead hands.

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 27, 2011 at 6:55 pm

I am SOOOOO bummed out that Christopher Nolan didn’t get nominated for Inception, as well as Mila Kunis for her role as the sexiest supporting role in The Black Swan (Holy GOD, that scene was so hot!)

But that’s just me. Don’t mind me. Just ignore me. Pretend I don’t exist. ;-)

I’m getting SCALPED.

1 I honestly wonder whether it should be punishable by death to dislike Led Zeppelin. I mean, I can understand not liking “Stairway to Heaven” simply because of hearing it so many, many times, but anything else? Sacrilege!2

Even your footnotes have footnotes. How meta …

Oh, and never mind the debate over Toy Story 3’s dual nominations. Until the academy stops ghettoizing non-American movies (as they do, I agree, with documentaries), they’ll continue to have very little credibility. I dare say not many of the best picture nominees have anything on Cell 211, Biutiful or Mother …

I agree with Burgas that Toy Story 3 is the weakest in the trilogy for different reasons: its predictable and not as fun/funny as the other 2. 2 is the best.

And although the Best Doc category has always been fucked, I think if 10 noms for Best Picture continues for at least 15 years that one should be nominated.

Dude: I forgot to respond to you – sorry! I thought the end of Frau Totenkinder’s “arc” was well done, but I know Kelly disagreed. I honestly think Rose Red’s moping in bed for many issues was worse.

John: You’re absolutely right about foreign films. I don’t know why the Academy even makes a pretense of having foreign films, because they’re obviously all about English-language movies. I don’t have a problem with that – it’s Hollywood, after all. But to pretend they do care about foreign films and then ignore, what, 99% of them? That’s ridiculous. (Bardem did get nominated for Biutiful, so at least someone knows about it!)

BACK ISSUE does a smaller version of “Greatest Stories Never Told” pretty regularly, if not every issue. It’s a good magazine, I hope this leads you to check it out more regularly.

What does Kristin Cavallari have to do with the Chaos War? (Try enlarging the pic of the Chaos War cover)

I’m sure there is a Jay Cutler joke in there somewhere – but it’s beyond me.

I’m 24. Toy Story 3 was profoundly emotionally impactful for me. There are just so many scenes that killed me in ways that not many films can. It is my favorite film of 2010. I’d argue that TS 2 and 3 are better than the first one. I recently watched the theatrical re-release of the first 2 and it shocked me how much I connected with TS2. The Toy Story films, as they stand now, belong in the pantheon with The Lord of the Rings, The Godfather and Star Wars: A New Hope/The Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi.

Cavallari is just the random hot woman this week. I had just read about her and Cutler, so she was on my mind.

Smicha1: I’ve bought a few issues of Back Issue here and there – I always like them, but I think I have to like the theme. Some of them don’t really interest me.

LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED ZEPP’LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN. LED ZEP LED ZEP LED ZEP! (Inhale Bong Hit … Exhale Bong Hit) Zeppelin Rules

The Toy Story films, as they stand now, belong in the pantheon with The Lord of the Rings, The Godfather and Star Wars: A New Hope/The Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi.

The Toy Story movies are infinitely better than any of those other series you mentioned.

I don’t know about screen time allotment. Does anyone have a problem with Anthony Hopkins being the Lead of Silence of the Lambs? Similarly, Duvall is in a lot of scenes in Godfather (perhaps more than Brando), but I don’t think anyone would think he was not a supporting actor (and I’m sure if I gave it more time, I could give you a bunch of other examples). I’d rather just let the nominators decide. Sure, they’ll get it “wrong” sometimes, but most of the times they get it right (or it is such a close call you can’t decide which is right).

Okay, I think you and I are saying the same thing then. I misunderstood your original point. I thought you were saying people like Ethan Hawke SHOULD have been best lead actor instead of best supporting because they had more screen time, but the voters did a counterintuitive thing and voted Denzel as best lead instead. It seems based on your followup comment you’re actually saying the same as me, that amount of screentime is not the be all, end all.

The way the category is phrased, “Best Actor/Actress in a Supporting Role/Leading Role,” guys like Hopkins and Washington probably shouldn’t technically be allowed to win for lead, as the role itself, on the page, is clearly written as supporting. The narrative focus is obviously supposed to be on a different character’s emotional arc, and they’re not the protagonists in a classical literary sense.

That said, I prefer it the way it actually works. Best Actor is the more prestigious award, and if performers can do well enough with less material that voters think they’re capable of standing alongside traditional leads, they’ve actually succeeded with something of a handicap. Hopkins and Washington grow to completely own those movies, to the point where the films might not be up for awards at all with different, competent performers in their roles.

Moving an obvious lead to the supporting category is less defensible from an artistic standpoint, but I’ll take it as a necessary trade.

@Greg or T. or anyone who can tell me:
How’s Summit of the Gods? I loved both Walking Man and A Distant Neighborhood but hesitated to pick up Summit because Taniguchi doesn’t do both art and story. I know, silly of me, right? Anyway, I recently read Elegance of the Hedgehog and one of the characters rhapsodizes over the series, which got me thinking about it again.

I really enjoyed Summit of the Gods, but it has a bit more exposition than Taniguchi’s normal work, mostly about mountain climbing. But it’s nothing compared to the amount of exposition you get in superhero comics these days, so it shouldn’t be a problem for an american reader.

I do think Led Zeppelin is greatly overrated, but still, they’re good enough. I think their folky songs are best.

What about something like Dr Strangelove, where the title character is barely in the movie? Would it be considered a leading role by virture of being the title character? (That may not be the best example, since Sellers played three parts and could thus be considered the lead no matter what.)

Haven’t read the Balkans book, Kaplan’s Afghanistan book was a stinker. A stinker!

(I don’t have an opinion on Oscar nominating procedures.)

@Bill I originally had “(and arguably better than)” in my post, but I took it out because I felt that might rub folks the wrong way. Glad to see that you are undaunted.

No problem, Greg, thanks for answering. And I completely agree with you regarding Rose Red. All that moping diminished the character and in my opinion the series really suffered from it.

The Godfather and Star Wars trilogies have the problem of the third installment being less than great, so yeah, I would consider the Toy Story movies to be better.

Oh, uh, Josey Wales is the movie.

I went through an Eastwood movie phase about 7 years back.

Fables was ace! But you’re off on the Toy Story thing!

Back Issues is phenomenal this time! The insight into stories that never got published was unique, and the illustrations and backstories were each very engaging and different. Twomorrows should be commended….

(It’s particularly good for Fantastic Four fans, as there are two related stories…)

King of the Flies has two published volumes in France, the third (of three?) is still in production and may take an year or so to be published. Even longer for the US, considering licensing and translation.

I would recommend you to read the darn things now!

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

“John: You’re absolutely right about foreign films. I don’t know why the Academy even makes a pretense of having foreign films, because they’re obviously all about English-language movies. I don’t have a problem with that – it’s Hollywood, after all. But to pretend they do care about foreign films and then ignore, what, 99% of them? That’s ridiculous. (Bardem did get nominated for Biutiful, so at least someone knows about it!)”

You complain about foreign movies? What about foreign COMICS! Both the Eisner and Harvey awards put the foreign stuff in ghetto categories (“best AMERICAN edition of dirty foreign comic which shouldn’t be read by true AMERICANS”), while the Angoulême Festivel (the biggest in the world that is happening RIGHT NOW without a line written about it here, you know) includes both french and foereign comics among its nominees.

Pedro: Sure, foreign comics are ghetto-ized as well – I’m not denying that at all. As for news about foreign conventions – I barely know what’s going on in this country, much less in France! Maybe Jonah needs to find a foreign correspondent!

Crap, I missed the follow up discussion on Toy Stories.

1. I would have been very annoyed if Lotso had been redeemed. The idea that every character has to be redeemable is the kind of sappy move that I can’t stand in a family movie. Lotso was reasonably well developed and fleshed out. He got plenty of screen time, including his origin, which allows us to feel sympathy for him and identify with his character. I don’t want one dimensional mustache twirling villains–and we didn’t get one in Lotso. You can’t demand redemption for a character. You can only ask that he be presented fairly and multidimensionally, and Lotso was. I’ll go further–if Lotso had been redeemed, I would rank the film much lower and feel that it’s just a kids movie. Allowing Lotso to refuse to learn is one of the most adult things about the movie. If I wanted to watch the Carebears movie where everything turns out ok for everybody, I would have watched something else.

2. There’s no way that you could argue that a film that allows its characters to calmly accept their “inevitable” deaths to be anything like sappy. That was the ballsiest thing that I’ve ever seen in a “kids” movie. And I didn’t find the college kids reactions to be unbelievable. They followed from what we saw in the first two movies. This kid had a very special relationship with his toys–one that we don’t all have.

sgt pepper: Well, we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I thought the reaction of the toys in the garbage dump was quite well done – I just thought Andy’s reactions at the end were really off. But that’s just me.

I don’t know why you would hate Lotso being redeemed so much, but that’s fine. I have grown weary of villains in kids’ movies – and Toy Story is a kids’ movie series, before anything else – being condemned when they’re not necessarily villains. I don’t have a problem with “real” villains being punished, but when they go out of their way to make them not necessarily villains, just people who got the short end of the stick, then I wish they would allow the characters to actually change. I guess it comes down to who we think the audience is for the movie – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with teaching kids that people can change and that they should strive for that, especially when it’s done with a character as well developed as Lotso. I wouldn’t have felt that it was a moralizing sermon if he had seen the error of his ways. If you think of Toy Story 3 as an adult movie (which I guess you can, although I don’t think that’s what it should be), I can forgive the fact that Lotso turns out to be a misanthropic bastard to the core.

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