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Nolan's Pop Culture Review 2008!
   Assistant Editor / Co-Moderator:  Terence Nuzum.                                                   HOME      ARCHIVES
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our ninth calendar year!
Number 435  (Vol. 9, No. 30). This edition is for the week of July 21--27, 2008.


"Step Brothers"

Snooty Turns 60!

The Yellow Submarine Chronicles Part Four: It’s All In The Mind Y’Know!
DVD Grindhouse: "The Exterminator" (1980)
Lebron Guarantees Gold .... Bonds In Pinstripes? .... Favre Saga Continues… .... Wnba: Now Hiring Grandmas .... Say Hello To The New Stadium, Again .... Arenabowl Xxii .... .... e
The Fm Dilemma: Answering Andy .... .... .... h
Happy Birthday .... Emperor O! .... Geeks! .... .... .... .... .... .... And The Oscar For 1956 Should Have Gone To... a

The Dark Knight: Oh, HELL yeah!
This has got to be the single greatest summer for comic-to-movie adaptations in history. MAY: Iron Man. Completely faithful to the source material, great script, and an outstanding performance by Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark. JUNE: The Incredible Hulk. Amazing upgrade of the character from the lackluster Ang Lee film and made us forget that ever happened. Edward Norton became Bruce Banner and the CGI Hulk was as close to realizing the comics version as we'll likely ever get. Which brings us to JULY....and The Dark Knight, the latest and perhaps greatest Batman ever committed to celluloid.

With the buzz already in the stratosphere regarding the late Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker (and the re-imagining of the character completely from any previous movie or TV version), it's no small wonder the opening weekend for The Dark Knight took in a record $158 million. After Christopher Nolan's film Batman Begins introduced us to the new way things were going to run in the world of the Caped Crusader, people were hungry for this sequel and they turned out in droves. The terrific thing is, no one was disappointed.

Well, OK, maybe not everyone. There were some minor quibbles over what some fans saw as a less-than-subtle message regarding security in a post-9/11 America. Referring to the Joker as a "terrorist", scenes of people running from exploding buildings, and a should-we-or-should-we-not message about how much invasive surveillance is needed to catch a super-criminal. There were some script irregularities still being argued over dealing with character motivations and continuity. I myself didn't notice anything that detracted from my enjoyment of this excursion in the least, and I appreciated the many nods to the comics stories like "The Killing Joke" and "The Long Halloween".

The Joker is far more dangerous than ever portrayed before (Hannibal Lector-level territory) and, the biggest surprise, how prominently Harvey Dent/Two-Face plays into all this (Aaron Eckhart--his CGI makeup is a gas). The character of Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) is marvelously handled and the character truly grows into the man we will know as Commissioner.

That's about as far as I dare go for people who haven't seen the film. It's pretty long at two and a half hours, but it screams by before you know it. The Dark Knight has my highest recommendation. (Our own Mike Smith reviewed this film in last week's Movie Review, giving it 4 stars, our highest rating.)

THE CASE OF THE RUBBER SUIT AND SHRINKING CHEST EMBLEM
While Batman has been reimagined more times in a shorter period than virtually any other superhero brought to the screen, the one piece of art direction held-over from the Tim Burton films of the late '80s is the molded rubber suit, something I resisted accepting for a long time. The Batman I knew needed neither phony muscles nor any "body armor". Gone are the days where an actor had to bulk-up for a role (e.g., Christopher Reeve for Superman), relying instead on a costume designer to make him an instant muscle-man. And I suppose audiences were deemed too cynical to believe a guy facing constant gunfire would manage to escape unharmed without "body armor"! (But they can believe a billionaire-vigilante, dressed like a bat, with ties to the police department.)

The costume's bat chest emblem is another matter. I could swear that, since the Burton films, there seems to be a plot to slowly eliminate it altogether, maybe seen as not essential since the magnificent profile of the Bat sillouhette is kept intact anyway in pretty much any lighting.

A Message Board thread has been started for The Dark Knight (spoiler alert!). Join in and post your thoughts.

PCR's MISSION STATEMENT AND EDITORIAL GOALS, UPDATED
Some recent confusion with readers and writers alike over our editorial boundries (or lack thereof) precipitated my thinking about a short, updated advisory to our Mission Statement.

While this is still the goal, I've written no less than five different versions of this piece over the past two days and am not happy enough with any of them to sanction release. If this is going to be taken as gospel, I want it to be accurate.

With so much PCR history to sift through, it turned out to be a bigger project than I thought. I'm still writing the damned thing and it's Friday afternoon. I'm giving up for this week, sorry for any inconvenience this caused. Since so much has gone into it already, I feel confident that the final version should be ready for next week's PCR.





Readers' Comments

The Readers' Comments section for this issue of PCR is now closed. To continue to interact, please use the Message Board or write a Letter to the Editor! The comments below are listed starting with the most recent. Thank you.

Crazed FanComments -- We Welcome Reader Feedback on any article(s) on this page.
Paul Guzzo [29-07-2008 05:34] 
Of course not ... I'm just angry. The guy who runs the venue said with so many events, it's bound to happen ... bull. second Friday is TFR night ... third Friday is Pinellas Filmmakers Society night in St. Pete. I believe a venue or organization can show a feature film somewhere or out of state shorts on those nights, but to show local shorts on those nights is bull ... why water down the night? especially 48 hour film contest. They nominate every film for an award to get every local filmmaker to the event. I hope our filmmkaers showing films on Friday have a crowd to show to. That's all I'm concerned about - the poor young filmmakers who are coming to TFR to show theirt films for the first time in front of our normal large crowd.
Nolan [29-07-2008 02:09] 
Paul, yeah, I got your email on that. Did they respond?
matthew [28-07-2008 16:00] 
very ignorant, it appears is the case.
Paul Guzzo [28-07-2008 09:23] 
The F'n 48 Hour Film Contest is holding its awards the same F'n night as TFR. What a bunch of crap. How ignorant can someone be??
Joel D. Wynkoop [28-07-2008 06:40]  
Andy,

He also was in AMERICAN NINJA, HERO AND THE TERROR and some other karate movies but I didn't know he died. Wow. He was cool. In HERO AND THE TERROR he is in the movie theatre on a stake out and he's running around the empty theatre when THE TERROR shows up, he is away from his gun and trys to talk to the TERROR (Non from Superman 2) "Wait a minute big guy, I'll just get my stuff and leave" I don't think he even got a chance to fight before the TERROR killed him.
Michael [28-07-2008 06:19] 
Oops, Kung FU Theatre....though it was fun to watch.
Michael [28-07-2008 06:18] 
Sorry, T, but I left Tampa in 1979 and haven't been back for long enough periods to catch up on the television shows. I do remember a similar "Kung Fun Theatre" type program in Baltimore that showed the same kind of films (Master of the Flying Guillotine was one of my favorites) so perhaps it was a syndicated package.
Brandon [28-07-2008 03:24] 
The one I remember watching was called "Black Belt Theater"
Lonnie Dohlen [26-07-2008 18:23]  
We Should do a profile on WTOG 44,Dating back to where it began.December 1968.There was always something about their programming & HUBBARD Broadcasting that still fascinates me.
Terence [26-07-2008 17:28] 
dont remember a host but then again i barely remember it i must have been like 7 or 8 or yopunger. i just seem to remember that every movie somebody got knocked down and stepped on and blood squirted out of their mouths and they died which means it must have been alot of Shaw Brothers films shown haha. i acutally used to think thats what kung fu was all about and that that was how kung fu wold kill you haha when you are little things are much more fascinating. but yeah that must have been the show. thanks.
ED [26-07-2008 15:29] 
Terence - 44 had there own show that I think was called Kung Fu Theater. It was hosted by a fat, balding guy who did characters like Stuper-man and spoofed scenes from the movies. It used to be on at like 10AM on Sunday mornings. I remember watching one on there called Toad-Fighter or something like that about a short fat guy who fought using the toad martial arts style!
Terence [26-07-2008 13:53] 
maybe Andy, Ed, Nolan,Chris Woods or even Mike Smith might know this. i seem to remember that along with Creature Feature that there was some sort of Kung Fu/ Martial Arts type show that played every weekend when i was little that showed older 70s kung fu and Shaw Bros films. i cant remeber if it was on cable or broadcast but it would have been in the early to mid 80s. for some reason i think it was a generic title like Kung Fu Theatre but im not sure if thats right cus it was so long ago. anyone know?
Odds [26-07-2008 05:45] 
Yes. Pancreatic cancer in 1993. He was also in "The Warriors", Glickenhaus's hit "The Soldier" in 1982 (with Ken Wahl), "He Knows You're Alone", "Times Square" (1980), and "Vigilante" (1983).
Joel D. Wynkoop [25-07-2008 21:17]  
Andy

Did Syeve James die? The last thing I seen him in was HERO AND THE TERROR with CHuck Norris, he was really cool, he should have been in more movie's.

Joel Wynkoop (Norm Simkins)
matthew [25-07-2008 20:35] 
andy, the lawyers did win in that situation.

alot of people don't know this, but all of Ferry's assets were taken/seized by the courts. this included his California home, worth a hefty sum,

all items taken were to be sold to pay the judgement, as is standard in these cases. ferry was homeless for quite a while, which was a long down time for FM, which ceased to exist for many months.

forry hasn't seen a dime, all the money went to the lawyers.

ferry still gets accused of not paying the judgement, which i feel is unfair given the fact that everything he owned in the world was seized and sold off.
Odds [25-07-2008 10:14] 
Matt, I researched the terms of the Ackerman/Ferry lawsuit. Although FJA won the suit, both parties were devastated by court costs, and in Ferry's case, damages to be paid (which according to Wiki, has not yet happened).

Classic case of the lawyers winning.
Odds [25-07-2008 09:42] 
Matt, thanks for the links - Monsters from the Vault magazine looks impressive! It is kind of baffling why that mag and the new FM (and Shock Theater Classics & Freaky) are not available at local bookstores (I don't think many comic book shops around here carry them). I mean, if they carry Scary Monsters, which is printed on newsprint paper in B&W, seems like they should also carry these titles.
Odds [25-07-2008 09:37] 
Matt, If you think Ferry is sincere, which sounds like the case, well, I take that as a good sign. Question: as much as I loved FM, I have to say that when re-reading old issues, the writing style is definitely for kids! Just wondering with the newer issues of FM - are the articles more substantive? When I pick up Scary Monsters, FilmFax, Outre, Scarlett Street, etc., I enjoy the in-depth articles as well as the photos. Does the new FM take the same approach? There's not much of a preview on the FM website. I have to say the covers look great (at least as thumbnails). I'm not real crazy about articles re-tracing the movie's plot, as FM was guilty of doing, then again, those were before the VHS/DVD days.
Odds [25-07-2008 09:27] 
Matt, Interesting stuff. I'm not sure who participated (if that's indeed the case) in prompting FJA to carry on the FM "battle". I do know that at his age (and I believe his wife had passed on), he was no doubt more, shall we say, "open to suggestions". I recall when I visited him in Hollywood in 2003 (by then the Ackermansion was history, and he was now living in a nondescript house not much bigger than the house I grew up in St. Pete.), I noticed a lot of younger fans going in and out of his house. They seemed like a decent bunch, and in fact many of them seemed to take care of him. They escorted him in and out of the house, and I believe some of them were doing his dishes. I had a concern that with such easy access to the house that some of Forry's archival pieces may go missing, but I saw no evidence of that while there. Not sure if the young people here are the ones referenced or others (maybe older, more influential) in FJA's circle.
matthew [24-07-2008 15:24] 
andy, also you have to check out two awesome publications:

Monsters from the Vault www.monstersfromthevault.com

and

Monster Bash, which can be had at www.creepyclassics.com

both are rock solid pubs. filled with that old time classic horror and sci fi.

also...i have a ton of 80's tunes on my hard drive so if there's something your missing just let me know and i'll see if i have it.
matthew [24-07-2008 15:21] 
yes, i agree it was easy to throw support toward Forry during the legal woes. fact is, ferry recently admitted that he loves Forry, and doesnt blame him for their trouble, but those who manipulated him to try and ruin Ferry. having been involved in alot of this first hand, i do have to say that this does have feet. there was an endless assault on him that most people wouldnt be able to endure, and it was this constant bombardment, i am certain, that led him to do some of the things he did.

it wasn't until i completely divorced myself from the situation and sat back and looked at it objectively that i started thinking he was getting a very raw deal. okay, he and forry had a falling out. okay, he lost his court battle to forry for the use of Dr. Acula and other things. but damn, no one is perfect and everyone, without exception, errors one time or another.

i will say that the ray ferry i know today is not the one i thought i knew when i didnt know him.
Odds [24-07-2008 13:54] 
Matt, thanks for the FM status report and clarifications, though I'm still in a conundrum about what exactly to think of Ray Ferry. It's a natural reaction for any horror fan to reflexively come to the defense of FJA, since after all he (and Dr. Paul Bearer) largely made me the horror fan I am today. I don't know all the details, but I do know first-hand what the lawsuit did to Forry in terms of his income and health. Honestly, I didn't at all like the fact that Ferry made you practically take down your site for posting old FM covers! I've never heard of anything like that, though I am no expert in law regarding magazines and periodicals. I'd like to think that old FM issues are for the fans and reproductions of covers should be available to all for research and historical purposes. Seems like Ferry's head is back in the game. Wish there were more classic monster mags - I love Scary Monsters.
Paul [24-07-2008 09:24] 
I noticed the similarity in the scenes too. I like to think it was a homage. Burton's Batman at the time was as acclaimed as this new one.
Terence [24-07-2008 08:50] 
Nolan: I have never liked that yellow bat symbol. it was i believe created in the 60s as sort of pop art look by carmine infantino. never cared for it. always made no sense that he would basically wear a reflector especially when he primarily acted at night.
Terence [24-07-2008 08:48] 
is it just me but did anyone notice that the scene were the Joker urges batman whose on the motorcycle to hit him and kill him causing batman to veer off and crash is almost exactly like the scene in the 89 Batman where the joker urges batman who is in the batplane to shoot him and batman misses on purpose and then crashes after the joker shoots it down? to me they are exact. i wonder if that was an homage or a rip off.
Terence [24-07-2008 08:46] 
I agree Paul. its obvious that Nicholson's Joker and Burton's movie in general Bob Kane 30's/40's batman while Nolan's movies and Ledgers Joker are the Frank Miller year one Batman of the 80's. so its cool that in a way we have both incarnations to enjoy.
Paul Guzzo [24-07-2008 07:14] 
Part of me agrees that Ledger was the best, part of me thinks you can't compare to the two because they were totally different movies and characters.
Steve [24-07-2008 04:54] 
I just saw Batman. My boss at Mighty River Power Co. took us all out to the movies as a way of saying thanks for all the hard work lately.

I've got to say, that was the best Batman movie I've ever seen. It was also the darkest and I'm not just referring to Wally Pfister's cinematography. It was gritty, the way Batman should be. I always said Jack Nicholson was the best Joker ever, but I was wrong. Yes, Jack was great for the style Joker he played, but I prefer the darker and grittier version. The NZ media billed it as completely CG free, but after watching it...I can't see how that could be possible.

I'm no movie reviewer, but if I were...I'd give that 5 stars out of a solid 4!
[31-12-1969 16:00] 
End of Comments    


"Mike's Rant" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2008 by Matthew Drinnenberg    "La Floridiana" is ©2008 by William Moriaty     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith    "FANGRRL" is ©2008 by Lisa Ciurro    "Retrorama" is ©2008 by ED Tucker    "Sports Talk" is ©2008 by Chris Munger    "DRAGOON" is ©2008 by Terence Nuzum and John Miller      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova    
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