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Lady Bird – A Movie Review


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Lady BirdSaoirse Ronan is utterly delightful in writer/director Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, an offbeat story about a high school student on the edge of becoming her own person, the mother who cannot quite express what she is feeling and the events in life that push us one way and pull us another. Lady Bird speaks truth about more than a few universal experiences: going to high school, determining one’s identity and leaving home to name a few and does so in an often humorous, always loving fashion. It is very hard not to smile throughout the proceedings as Gerwig has structured a movie to assure us that each one of us will turn out okay in the end.

The Oscar nominated Saoirse Ronan is captivating as the alternately awkward, alternately confident, ever engaging title character. In her first scene in the movie, Lady Bird tells the audience that she has chosen for herself her own name and, with it we understand, she has put herself on a quest for claiming her identity. Watching her do so is a joyous experience. Something tells us, throughout the picture, that Lady Bird is going to be just fine. 

Perhaps it is the love of her mother, Oscar nominated Laurie Metcalf in a terrific role, that reassures us. The interplay between Ronan and Metcalf is so good and so real that one might like them to play all the mother/daughter roles in the future. Metcalf’s is not a swing-for-the-fences, over-the-top performance. Her Marion is a character constructed from quiet moments, side long expressions, heartfelt pauses. It is as though Marion exists in between each scene and Metcalf is veteran enough – and confident enough – to get out of the way and let Ronan shine… not unlike a mother might for her daughter.

The movie hinges on the mother/daughter dynamic, to be sure, but Lady Bird explores love and support through any number of different avenues in the film. She has boyfriends, best friends, BEST friends, teachers and counselors and God. Each-and-every relationship in which she partakes feels genuine and real and the movie itself, for all the attempted histrionics of its main character, is firmly set in reality. It is comfortable and it is charming.

Lady Bird treats its audience as if it is smart enough to work things out on its own (like Miguel had to be adopted, right, and Lady Bird was a surprise to her parents – that much one can glimpse in a note). This is one of its strongest attributes. Though Gerwig’s message of acceptance and love comes clearly through, the movie does not spoon feed the audience, explaining Lady Bird’s every choice (and she makes some crazy choices) or every turn the movie. Rather the story plays out vignette by vignette and the tapestry of each of them is woven together all but seamless. It is an impressive directorial feat and Gerwig is a terrific Best Director nominee.

As affirming of life and love as almost any movie I have seen this year, Lady Bird distinguishes itself from almost any other movie set in high school of which I can think by unapologetically embracing the ideas that family is good, that there is a God, that life does not have it out for you, and that to be young does not mean one has to be painfully and self-consciously ironic. It celebrates the confusion, messiness and joy of a life lived to the fullest and we need more movies like it.

LADY BIRD receives FOUR AND A HALF UNCONSECRATED COMMUNION WAFERS CASTS out of a possible FIVE.

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Countdown to INFINITY… The Incredible Hulk


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ONE A WEEK UNTIL Avengers Infinity War opens in May!

Captain America: The First Avenger | Iron Man | THE INCREDIBLE HULK | Iron Man 2 |Thor | The Avengers | Iron Man 3 | Thor: The Dark World | Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Guardians of the Galaxy \ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | Avengers: Age of Ultron | Ant-Man | Captain America: Civil War | Doctor Strange |            Spider-Man: Homecoming | Thor: Ragnarok | Black Panther

Week Three: THE INCREDIBLE HULK

Hulk

I really liked Edward Norton as Bruce Banner. He fit the part incredibly (pun intended) well and he makes both the character’s angst and heroism believable. He is, however, no Mark Ruffalo and it is a bit disappointing to not have Ruffalo in the film as he has so completely come to inhabit the character.

Disappointing is, in fact, the right word here. The Incredible Hulk is not a great Marvel Movie (when you’re approaching 20 movies, you get to be your own genre right?) and, as a follow up to Iron Man, it misses the mark and squanders a bunch of good will. Perhaps this is why there are SO MANY plot lines from the movie that remain unresolved: Samuel Sterns’ gamma dosing, whatever happened to the Abomination or Betty Ross or Leonard Sampson and how did General Ross recover from this disaster to become Secretary of Defense? We will, likely, never know…

This is a sub-par film with some good performances (does anyone remember that Ty Burrell of Modern Family is in a major role here?). It pushes the Marvel narrative forward a bit but it is mostly a misfire. And the CGI is remarkably poor.

As it came out before I began blogging, I do not have a full review, but The Incredible Hulk receives THREE BOTTLES OF BRAZILIAN SODA out of a possible FIVE. 

Entertainment Weekly is also counting down to Avengers: Infinity War. Here is their take on The Incredible Hulk.


KEY INTRODUCTIONS:

  • Bruce Banner/Hulk
  • Betty Ross
  • Leonard Sampson
  • General “Thunderbolt” Ross
  • Gamma Radiation

CONNECTION(S) TO INFINITY WAR:

  • Most of the movie is forgotten by Marvel (see above comments on dangling plot threads), but General Ross goes on to become the Secretary of Defense in Captain America: Civil War, which is this movie’s most critical connection to the Marvel Movie Universe.
  • In Civil War, Ross mentions the Hulk and the destruction of Harlem.
  • The idea that Bruce Banner is trying to be free of the Hulk is as important here as it is in the Avengers movies.
  • When Betty and Bruce think about engaging in romantic activities, Bruce stops them because “I can’t get too excited.” Thematically, this foreshadows the problems he will see with an engagement with The Black Widow.
  • Tony Stark discusses putting together “a team” with a broken and defeated General Ross in what should have been the traditional stinger scene, but one that actually takes place before the credits. This is the ONLY movie on this list without at least one mid or post-credit scene.

Avengers Infinity War is coming…

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: January 10 – 16, 2018


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

One

 

The best comic I read last week was Titans #19

Writer: Dan Abnett

Artist: Paul Pelletier 

(Okay, the BEST comic book I read was actually Mister Miracle #6, but even I am tired of picking it every month!)

I love the Titans and have since I was a younger – much younger – comic book collector. I have read every incarnation of the book, including those that were published prior to my birth. I am a sucker for the team and the characters who comprise it.

And I have really enjoyed the latest Titans title. Dan Abnett has done a terrific job since he began with the soft-reboot of the characters (and the DC Universe) in Titans Hunt a few years back. Now he is really hitting his stride on the title and #19 is one of the best issues yet.

Abnett takes a fairly tired trope (the team is DISBANDED!) and makes it feel fresh, new and in keeping with what has been happening in the book. The Titans have screwed up in recent adventures and the Justice League have problems with how they have handled their work. Abnett does not let this story – which could be incredibly note-by-note predictable, become cliched. Rather he creates another in a solid line of character studies of the Titans and handles, as he typically does, Nightwing remarkably well.

This is a great read with solid art by the ever-improving Paul Pelletier. His line work evokes the art of Alan Davis and that is surely not a bad thing. Pelletier has been drawing comics for a long time and it seems he is poised to break big.

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The 2017 Denver Broncos Week Twelve: Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders


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Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders

Sunday, November 26, 2017

 Denver at Oakland

LAST WEEK’S RESULT

Prediction: Cincinnati 20, Denver 24

Actual: Cincinnati 20, Denver 17

BACKGROUND

Ugh.

I cannot remember when I felt so… little… about the Denver Broncos. I also cannot remember the last time the team was all but mathematically eliminated from playoff competition this early in the season.

Ugh.

The meme that has been going around this week is the bus that pulled into and blocked the Weather Channel’s shot of a building implosion in Georgia. I kind of wish that bus had been between me and my television each and every game since the Dallas game this year.

Implosion, indeed.

Image result for weather channel bus georgia

KEY MATCH UP

Look, Oakland has not been particularly good this year. Much like Denver, they have severely under-performed expectations. Their defense has been terrible and their offense not up to par. Denver’s offense has been terrible and their defense not up to par.

Interesting.

Make my key match up this week the Denver offense vs. the Raiders defense.

The problem is…

X-FACTOR

…who will play quarterback for the Broncos?

As I write this, Denver has not named a starter.

It should be Paxton Lynch, right? If he is healthy, it must be him.

If he’s healthy and it’s not him? That’s a PROBLEM.

There are some pretty negative things going around about John Elway’s ability to scout talent overall and talent at the QB position specifically. If Lynch is a bust, watch out. Better go get Kirk Cousins in the off season, Mr. Elway.

PREDICTION

Okay, I’ll take the Broncos. Again.

I believe my rationale this week is the same as it was last week: why the hell not?

If Denver cannot win a few of these last games, more changes are needed than this week’s ousting of Mike McCoy.

Many, many more…

Denver Broncos – 30

Oakland Raiders – 20

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The 2017 Denver Broncos Week Nine: Denver Broncos @ Philadelphia Eagles


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Denver Broncos @ Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday, November 5, 2017

 Philly

LAST WEEK’S RESULT

Prediction: Denver 13, Kansas City 31

Actual: Denver 19, Kansas City 29

BACKGROUND

A 3-game losing streak. A change at quarterback. The opponent is one of the best teams in football.

Sounds likes a recipe for loss number 4, does it not?

The Denver Broncos come into Philadelphia Sunday wounded and looking for answers. They are also in the unfamiliar position of being significant underdogs and, perhaps, of being a team that others may overlook.

Could playing the Denver Broncos at this point of the season be a trap game for the Philadelphia Eagles? Perhaps and, if it is, then that only plays to Denver’s advantage.

Denver has gone to Brock Osweiler as quarterback. Paxton Lynch is not ready to play or they likely would have turned to him. Frankly, I think Osweiler gives the Broncos a better chance to win than does Lynch.

Does that mean Denver will pull off the upset in Philly on Sunday?

I think it does.

KEY MATCH UP

Let us put this on the Denver defense vs. the Philadelphia offense. Is this counter-intuitive? Maybe.

But how angry must the defense be at this point? After a five turnover performance by the Denver offense Monday night in Kansas City – one of those turnovers returned for a touchdown, the defense managed to only give up 22 points. That is a pretty shocking statistic. The Denver defense can be dominant if not put in too many difficult positions. They can shut a team down.

Yes, Carson Wentz is the real deal. He is a potential MVP this year.

Can the Denver defense hold up against him?

I think I have heard that question asked in prior situations concerning more veteran, star quarterbacks. Yes, it can. And, in order for Denver to win, it must.

X-FACTOR

Is there any doubt that Brock Osweiler is the X-Factor?

On Wednesday, upon being named starter, Osweiler said he understood his job is to protect the football. If he can do that, if the running game can produce and if 17 can lead the offense to some first downs and keep the defense out of impossible positions, Denver can win this game.

I, too, find it hard to believe I just wrote that, but Osweiler, who has been terrible over the course of the past 18 months, was not terrible with the Broncos in his first stint with the team. Can he help Denver recapture some magic?

PREDICTION

With very little to lose, Denver can come out Sunday and shock the Eagles. I believe Denver will come out Sunday and shock the Eagles. Both teams have surprised, Philadelphia with how good they have been and Denver with how bad they have been.

Another surprise is on tap Sunday in the City of Brotherly Love.

Denver Broncos – 24

Philadelphia Eagles – 17

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: September October 25 – 31, 2017


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

 

One

The best comic I read last week was Flash #33.

Writer: Joshua Williamson

Artist: Howard Porter

It is wonderful to see pencils by Howard Porter. One of the unsung heroes of DC Comics Grant Morrison written JLA, Porter dropped out of the comics scene for quite a while due to health issues. In the last few years, he has emerged with a slightly altered style but with no less command of the page. His work now evokes his prior JLA lines, but is more sleek and confident and he is the perfect artist for The Flash, a book I have not regularly read of late but picked up this month because of its tie-in to DC Metal with this, the first issue of a crossover with Justice League.

“Bats out of Hell” is a terrific title for this arc and writer Joshua Williamson illustrates just why he is on the rise at DC. Tying all but seamlessly into the Dark Nights one-shots and the parent DC Metal book, this issue of The Flash feels like an important but not critical read.

That is something of a difficult line to walk, writing a book that must have its own energy and tension while not making it so critical to the main book that readers feel they must buy it to understand the overall proceedings. This is something DC promised to avoid and, with the first issue, it seems Williamson means to deliver on that promise. His opening chapter is fine, tight, appropriately focused on the Flash (a character he writes very, very well) and sets up the Justice League follow up quite nicely.

If you are enjoying DC Metal (and I very much am), you will want to pick up this crossover.

It is so good, frankly, it may inspire me to begin reading The Flash anew!

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: September 20 – 26, 2017


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

OneTwoThree

 

The best comic I read last week was Batman: The Red Death #1.

Writer: Joshua Williamson

Artists: Carmine Di Giandomenico

And I thought the parent book, DC Metal, was crazy.

It is hard to describe just what happens in this comic but, suffice it to say, that Carmine Di Giandomenico’s art is brilliantly vibrant, bloody, bizarre and over-the-top, the perfect counterpoint to regular Flash writer Joshua Williamson’s brilliantly over-the-top, bizarre, bloody and beautifully vibrant script.

This book is gonzo in the very best way, unexpected and insane, a story that sticks with the reader long after reading it.

I guess doing Batman is something like playing Hamlet – everyone wants to put their spin on it and Scott Snyder in DC Metal has built the vehicle to do so: the Dark Multiverse wherein alternate (and very evil) versions of Batman have taken the powers of their fellow Justice Leaguers to pursue their own ends.

I do not wish to spoil the chaos but, in this issue, Batman steals the power of the Flash and becomes The Red Death.

Anything named after an Edgar Allan Poe story cannot be good, right?

Batman: The Red Death is not good.

It is great.

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