Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Metallica: Live at Madison Square Garden

This past weekend (11/14 and 11/15) I was lucky enough to attend not one, but two, count them, one, two, Metallica shows. I was very excited about this and it didn’t disappoint. Maybe a little, but I’ll get to that later.

The first night was pretty great. The show started at 7pm on the dot with opening band Volbeat. They came all the way from Denmark (Yeah, I know!) and they were really fucking awesome. I need to go out and get their CDs or something. They had a really cool sound, kinda like rockabilly mixed with metal. And they completely won me over by teasing Raining Blood by Slayer at the end of their set. They did that both nights, and on the second night they also did a cover of a Misfits song, I couldn’t tell you the song because I don’t listen to the Misfits (Sorry). Fun band though.

Next up was Lamb of God. Now, my friend Adam got me into these guys a couple of years ago and I am very thankful for that. I saw them play back in 2007 while I was still in college (undergrad at SUNY Albany) with my friend Jeremy. We had a blast, it was a fucking amazing show, and we couldn’t hear anything for the next 3 days. Since I was sitting instead of being on the floor it was a different experience and one that I hope I never have to go through again for Lamb of God. They were great, I love them, but I can’t be seated. They played a few new songs from their album Wrath. I wish they played Contractor, but they didn’t. It was cool though, I got to hear Walk With Me in Hell, Laid to Rest, Ruin, and Black Label (They ended the show with that). The one thing that was a bummer was that they did the same set list for the second night too, so that was disappointing, considering it was Lamb of God’s last show of the tour. Also, the sound wasn’t as loud as I wanted it to be, but its fine I’ll make for it when they come back out and they play a smaller venue. They finished quarter to 9pm. Metallica didn't go on till almost 9:30pm. The waiting was hell.

Now on to Metallica, I love them. I’ve been a fan since high school. During high school they only put out 1 album, which was St.Anger. I know a lot of people hate that album, and compared to the other albums the put out its terrible, but since it was the first album by them to come out when I was a fan, it holds a special place in my heart. Now with Death Magnetic, it’s better than St. Anger, a lot better, but I don’t want to hear it, ever again.
The first night of the show they played six songs from the ten song CD. With that time they could have played Master of Puppets or old school songs to appease the long time fans. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved the show and had a great time the first night. The second night though, was so much better. It was louder, faster, and the crowd was more energetic and you could feel Metallica feeding off of the crowd. It was a blast. Some of my favorite songs were played, Dyer’s Eve, Creeping Death, Fade to Black, and Trapped Under Ice. I just hope that next time I see them they play less Death Magnetic and more Kill ‘Em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, and …And Justice for All. One day before I die I will be at a Metallica show where they will play Battery live, and hopefully if I’m lucky enough, I’ll see Orion played.

Peace Out!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blast of Silence (1961)

I first heard about this movie when I read that Sean Phillips (of Criminal, Sleeper, and Marvel Zombies fame) was doing the art work for the DVD cover (up top) and the design work for the menu screens and all that. I should mention that the DVD is distributed by Criterion, if you know what that means then you know that it’s a top of the line quality DVD, and boy is it ever.

Sean Phillips has always been one of my favorite artists, ever since I picked up the first Sleeper trade (Amazing comic book, check it out, highly recommended). His art is dark and very noir and when partnered up with an amazing writer, usually Ed Brubaker, their collaborations are so much better. So when I heard about him doing art for the DVD I wanted to buy it but I always think about buying so much shit that I forgot about it.
Last week I was at work and bored and decided to look up some stuff to request from other libraries, for some reason I remembered Blast of Silence and ordered it. I finally watched it Sunday night. The basic plot of the movie is that this hit man, (Baby Boy) Frankie Bono, is coming into NYC on Christmas for a job to kill this mid-level mafia guy. That’s it, but what makes this movie so great isn’t the anticipation or the suspense, which there is plenty of, of when, how, and where is Frankie going to kill this mobster, it’s what is going through his mind leading up to the whole event.
Frankie Bono is a professional. He’s a perfect hit man because he has no ties to anyone or any place. He can be hired to do any job and fuck the consequences because there are none for him because he’s a professional. But there’s a problem, he is a lonely motherfucker, and that loneliness drives him, I don’t want to say crazy but it makes him a little mentally unstable.

Frankie Bono is a lonely man. He doesn’t want anything to do with anyone. He prepares for the job and then leaves. But while in the city he runs into an old ‘friend’ from the orphanage that he grew up in and is invited to a party. He declines but he gets pushed into going when he sees a girl from his past, Lori. Even then he doesn’t want to go but finally accepts. It isn’t, at least to me, that he’s a pushover as much as it’s a last ditch effort to make contact with another human. Once at the party he doesn’t even try to mingle or talk to anyone. As much of a desire for him to connect with another person the drive isn’t there and he doesn’t try, he waits for someone to come to him, and once that happens he does end up having fun, but we know that it’s not his version of fun.

After the part we see him get invited to a Christmas dinner by Lori. It’s a nice enough affair until he tries to put the moves on her. We’re lead to seem that she’s interested in him, and I’m sure she is but he becomes really aggressive when he puts the moves on her and becomes really angry when she declines him. This isn’t an attack, it shows that he’s been alone for so long that when it comes to interacting with other people he just doesn’t know how. This is repeated many other times in the film, when he buys a gun and gets the job details. All those scenes with people are short and they show his impatience with them.

My favorite parts of the film are the ones where he’s alone and thinking about the job. There’s a voice over narration that describes his process and how he’s feeling. At first I thought the narration was annoying but it serves a purpose, because it’s not Frankie Bono doing the talking. The narration is done by Lionel Stander, who was a black listed actor and did uncredited work, his voice is like sandpaper, rough and tough, and someone you don’t want to fuck with. His words are a constant reminder that Frank is a little unstable.

Frankie goes through the city as the narrator comments on everything from the people to his state of mind, to the city itself. The narrator tells us who Frankie is as a person because we only see what kind of person he is through his actions which aren’t enough to tell us what a person is about.

There are many more things I can discuss about this film. It is such an amazing look into the head of a hit man and I’m glad I finally got to see this film and take it in.
Just a couple of quick hits on the DVD. Sean Philips did a 4 page comic, drawing the first couple of scenes from the film mixed with some of the narration. It looks great, the colors are amazing. There’s an hour long documentary which takes a look back at the film, the rediscovery of the film, and you go along with director, writer, and star of the film Allen Baron, on a trip throughout New York City to revisit the spots that the film was made. There’s even a slide show of the spots from the film and their current appearances, comparing NYC in 1961 and 2008. I recommend the hell out of this movie, it you’re a fan of film noir, or films in general.

Peace Out!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Batman: City of Crime

After the grand 4am debut of this blog I still couldn't sleep and decided to finish Batman: City of Crime. It was written by David Lapham, of Stray Bullets fame, who also drew the covers for the run and did the layout, and penciled by Ramon Bachs.

This run on Detective Comics was in 2005/2006 and went from issues #801 to 808 stop mid arc and the finished up in #811 to 814 (there was a prologue in issue #800 that was also included in the trade). I remember this sort of clearly back the when the run was being published monthly. I started buying Detective Comics because I heard good things about Lapham and I think that at the time I had just finished reading Stray Bullets Book 1: The Age of Nihilism. As fucked up as that book was I liked it a lot. I thought that Lapham crafted a great story as fucked up as it was. I picked up the run for while and then guess what? DC had to stop in the middle of his story so that Detective Comics could tie into War Crimes. Now, mid-arc I'm without an issue for 2 months and I ended up forgetting about. Call it easily distracted or college student can only afford food or comics or I was doing class work. But, I just forgot about the run and didn't pick it up again when it started back up.

That was just a little (or a lot?) of back story. So, why did I decided to read this run? Because I have recently reread the first Stray Bullets book and read the second book Somewhere Out West, and Lapham's OGN (Original Graphic Novel) for DC's Vertigo Imprint and I wanted to read something more but something different by the man. (I haven't read Young Liars yet (From Veritog/DC) but I will, and it sucks that it's canceled.)

Having read the Stray Bullet books and Silverfish I came to the conclusion that in writing people David Lapham has no hope, in anyone or anything. Even the "good" endings are fucked. Going into this Batman run I was expecting really fucked up shit to happen, and it didn't disappoint. His outlook on people and what they can do to each other knows no bounds. Drugs, Insanity, Murder, Rape, Arson, Suicide, all this and more in Batman: City of Crime.

But I gotta say this. It's a great look at Batman in the bowls and hopelessness of shittiest parts of Gotham City, and Batman overcoming all that and still being Batman, no matter how many times he's fucked up, no matter how many times the people of the city have fucked up, and no matter how many times the city itself has tried to fuck him up. The story is set of by one event that spirals out of control and bout does it ever.

I knew that this was going to be a dark story but I had some hope (very little) that things might turn out for the good at the end, and in some ways it did and in someways it didn't. I don't want to give the ending away but it does leave you with a small sense of feeling good and at the same time a kick in the balls.

I had a few problems with the run though. One of the things was the pacing there was a mystery that was introduced in issue #802 that doesn't get resolved until the last page. That was a little annoying because even though it was Batman's drive to solve that mystery, there was a lot of other things going on that the mystery got pushed to the side and it wasn't until Batman mentioned it again that I was like, Oh yeah, that.

Also felt that to tell this particular story 12 issues was too long. As much as I liked the outside narration describing all the different scenes and people in Gotham some of it was not needed, especially to highlight the hopelessness of all the people, sometimes it just got too fucking depressing. I would have preferred two 6-issue arcs. I would have loved to seen Lapham's take on The Joker or The Riddler.

Outside of the main characters like Batman, Robin, Jim Gordon, a few villains, and Alfred, it was a little hard to tell the difference between some characters, at least for me. But at the same time there was also a good balance of showing all the kinds of different people in Gotham City. One thing that Lapham liked to show was that it doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, bad things happen to you and it's your choice to deal with the consequences of it all. The rest of the art was great because the narrative didn't get in the way of the storytelling of the drawing. Some of my favorite panels where of Batman just hanging out on top of buildings reflecting, thinking, and at the same time being more comfortable there than at a party as Bruce Wayne. Also the attention to detail in the slums part of Gotham City was well done. And I love it when writers and artists use Gotham City as a character more than as a place setting.

This book is highly recommended but with warning. Don't go into this book happy because it'll knock the smile off your face pretty fucking hard.

The Start of The Shelf

So the reason I'm starting this blog is because I'm bored. But mostly because there are many things I like, for example, books (readingOMG!), movies (not just the one from my time), comics (yup), and other things from "geek culture." I put that term in quotes because I fucking hate it, it's stupid and doesn't make sense, it's a fucking passing phase that I'm sure will die off soon, but not soon enough.

Anyway, because of all the things I like, I rarely have anyone to talk to them about. When I mean talk I mean something other than "that was fucking awesome" or "that blows." Something meaningful is what I'm trying to get at. Messageboards are cool and all but even them it's just the same responds "Really good!/SUX ASS." So I'm going to use this blog as an outlet for when I can't write my own stories and post about movies, tv shows, books, comics, and other stuff I've seen, read, or listened to and whoever, if anyone wants to, can comment and hopefully try some of the stuff I talk about. I will also gladly take any recommendations that anyone gives me because how can you get into anything new if someone doesn't tell you about it.

I'll probably be making many posts around this time (4:16 am right now) because I don't really sleep much at night.

I've seen a couple of movies this weekend that I'll talk about (The 4th Kind and Jennifer's Body) and I'm at the tail end of finishing a GN (Graphic Novel, Batman City of Crime, by David Lapham.) These aren't going to be review type posts just what I think, not too deep of an analyzation but we'll see where the writing takes me.

If you're into this sort of thing I hope you like what I have to say, or even better disagree with me and I'll do something the internet isn't known for, I'll listen to you (OMG) and not belittle your opinion (too much, :D)

Last thing before I finish, I want give a little credit to the inspiration of this blog. Max, Shawn, Pat, Evan, you guys are awesome and thanks for showing me an outlet so I can share the things I love with people who might also be into it.

Peace Out!