Comic Book Review – Superman: The Man of Steel Volume 2

Superman: The Man of Steel Volume 2 (2021)
Reprints Superman v2 #5-11, Action Comics #588-593, Adventures of Superman #429-435, and Legion of Super-Heroes v2 #37-38
Written by John Byrne, Marv Wolfman, & Paul Levitz
Art by John Byrne, Jerry Ordway, Erik Larsen, and Terry Austin

One of the things that were always a bit confusing during this era of Superman was how much the character remembered the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Crisis had been DC’s way of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the company and was used to condense the elements of the Multiverse into one cohesive reality. Part of that was John Byrne’s reboot of Superman, erasing certain sillier Silver Age elements from the characters and reducing his powers. A significant piece of Superman’s backstory that was axed was his early days in Smallville as Superboy. Under Byrne’s version, Clark Kent’s powers developed slowly, and only when he was an adult did he have them all. His costume wasn’t made until then, so Superboy never existed.

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Movie Review – Prizzi’s Honor

Prizzi’s Honor (1985)
Written by Richard Condon and Janet Roach
Directed by John Huston

John Huston only had two years left in his life. I suspect he realized this. By 1982, he had to use an oxygen tank almost all hours of the day for his emphysema. He didn’t slow down in his filmmaking though making seven movies in the 1980s, even one the year he died in 1987. Prizzi’s Honor was his second to last film, the picture that won his daughter, Anjelica, her first Academy Award. Once again, he’d gather a cast of strong actors to deliver a deceptively dark comedy about love & business in the world of organized crime. I don’t think any of the films I’ve watched previously were overtly a comedy as much as this one. And it is a strange creature.

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Movie Review – Annie

Annie (1982)
Written Carol Sobieksi
Directed by John Huston

The 1970s were a fruitful period for Huston, with several acclaimed films and an expansion of his aesthetics to fit a modern style. Huston also worked in front of the camera as the iconic villain Noah Cross in the neo-noir Chinatown. He voiced Gandalf in the Rankin-Bass animated production of The Hobbit. Huston even starred as the lead in Orson Welles’ final & delayed film, The Other Side of the Wind. On the bleaker side of life, Huston was diagnosed with emphysema in 1978, which would plague him for the rest of his life. He’d been a heavy smoker since he was a young man, so it was only a matter of time until it caught up with him. In the early 1980s, Huston was approached by producer Ray Stark to direct an adaptation of the Broadway musical Annie. Huston had never made a musical in his forty years directing, so he decided to give it a shot.

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Movie Review – The Last Temptation of Christ

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
Written by Paul Schrader
Directed by Martin Scorsese

It’s absolutely fascinating to see two artists who have delivered masterpieces (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull) so spectacularly bomb a film. I think it’s especially interesting because this was such a passion project for Martin Scorsese. He first read Niko Kazantzakis’s novel while filming Boxcar Bertha for Roger Corman in 1972. In turn, Scorsese gave the book to Schrader, and the two planned to make this as the follow-up to The King of Comedy. Right-wing fundamentalist Christian groups and Catholic morality organizations started letter writing to complain about the production, and Paramount pulled back. 

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Movie Review – The Color of Money

The Color of Money (1986)
Written by Richard Price
Directed by Martin Scorsese

The Color of Money is a very appropriately titled film because it feels like Martin Scorsese made it to progress other projects, mostly The Last Temptation of Christ. This was essentially a work-for-hire picture that helped keep Scorsese busy and honing his craft. He doesn’t really use any of the stable of actors you might expect, even in minor roles. John Turturro, who had a “blink and you’ll miss him” cameo in Raging Bull, has a small supporting role, but overall, this is a group of performers Scorsese was working with for the first time. Paul Newman and Tom Cruise are the co-male leads, with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as the female lead. It’s also a sequel to a film made twenty years earlier. All these elements make for a movie you probably wouldn’t guess Scorsese made unless you saw the opening credits.

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Movie Review – After Hours

After Hours (1985)
Written by Joseph Minion
Directed by Martin Scorsese

Following Raging Bull, Martin Scorsese made The King of Comedy, a thematic companion piece to Taxi Driver. The audience’s expectations didn’t match what the director had in mind and so it did not perform well at the box office while being well received by critics. Roger Ebert tussled with the film and declared it “one of the creepiest […] and best of the year.” The 1980s would prove to be an odd decade for Scorsese and he seemed to embrace that strangeness in After Hours. This was a dark comedy based on a stage monologue and Scorsese would come to explain that the film reflected his personal frustrations dealing with studios while trying to get The Passion of the Christ produced.

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Movie Review – Raging Bull

Raging Bull (1980)
Written by Paul Schrader & Mardik Martin
Directed by Martin Scorsese

By 1979, Martin Scorsese wondered if he might die soon. The depression that hit after New York, New York’s box office and critical failure was tremendous. He entered into a period of wild partying, with cocaine being his self-medication of choice. Scorsese abused his body to the point that he was hospitalized for internal bleeding and was thoroughly addicted to cocaine. Robert De Niro is credited as one of the people vital in saving Scorsese’s life. He visited the filmmaker in the hospital and proposed that the two collaborate on adapting a book DeNiro had given Scorsese years earlier. The book was Raging Bull, a memoir by Bronx boxer Jake LaMotta. Scorsese had been reticent to make the film because he didn’t get it initially. Now, as he lay in a hospital bed, his body ravaged, he began to understand how people destroy themselves and climb to get back to where they started.

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TV Review – The Best of Amazing Stories Part 3

Go to the Head of the Class (Season 2, Episode 8)
Original airdate: November 21, 1986
Written by Mick Garris & Tom McLoughlin and Bob Gale
Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Hot off the heels of 1985’s summer hit Back to the Future, Amazing Stories brought Robert Zemeckis, Robert Gale, Alan Silvestri, and Christopher Lloyd back together again for this silly horror tale. The producers understood what a big deal they had on their hands and made this only the second hour-long episode of the anthology joining Spielberg’s The Mission. You can also see the production value is a little higher here with some really impressive animatronics for a series that would show its budget in many weaker episodes.

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Movie Review – Bliss (1985)

Bliss (1985)
Written by Ray Lawrence & Peter Carey
Directed by Ray Lawrence

In twenty-one years, Australian filmmaker Ray Lawrence made three movies with a sixteen-year gap between his first two. His first film, Bliss, caused hundreds to walk out of its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and won the 1985 Australian Academy Award. Lawrence was born in London in 1948 and moved to Australia when he was 11. After he graduated from high school, Lawrence attended and subsequently dropped out of university. This lead to his work in advertising in Sydney and then a move back to London producing commercials. When he finally returned to Australia, Lawrence started his own production company that became one of the top producers of commercials in the continent. It was during his time in advertising that Lawrence met author Peter Carey and they became quick friends. This led to a screenwriting partnership that led to two full-length screenplays. Eventually, they decided to adapt Carey’s award-winning novel Bliss for the big screen.

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TV Review – The Best of Amazing Stories Part 2

Remote Control Man (Season 1, Episode 10)
Original airdate: December 8, 1985
Written by Douglas Lloyd McIntosh & Steven Spielberg
Directed by Bob Clark

By 1986, Bob Clark had directed films like Black Christmas, Porky’s, and A Christmas Story. Quite an eclectic filmography. He was brought on to helm this comedic entry into Amazing Stories. Walter Poindexter is a paper pusher at the bottom of his corporate ladder, put upon by a shrieking housewife and two rotten sons. All Walter wants to do when he gets home is watch some television, but his wife sells the set while he is at work. Driving through the city, the man comes across a strange store that seems to grant the person’s ultimate wish. In this instance, Walter is given a magical television whose remote control brings the people out of the shows and into his home. 

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