Movie Review – Seven

Seven (1995)
Written by Andrew Kevin Walker
Directed by David Fincher

There is a depth of humanity in Seven, hidden beneath the stylized neo-noir aftermath of violence that its detectives stumble across in crime scene after crime scene. David Fincher movies often get swallowed up in the fervor over aesthetics and jolting set pieces that we often forget the richly developed characters that make up his world. Detectives Somerset & Mills and Mills’s wife Tracy are beautifully written roles performed by actors who understand nuance’s power. The infamous finale of Seven, a scene that has somewhat become a parody in the pop culture in the ensuing decades, almost brought me to tears this time around. I empathized with the trio of protagonists so that this final obscenity tore right through me.

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Comic Book Review – Wonder Woman by John Byrne Volume 1

Wonder Woman by John Byrne Volume 1 (2017)
Reprints Wonder Woman v2 #101 – 114
Written by John Byrne
Art by John Byrne

I first became aware of John Byrne when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I remember being at K-Mart (I think) and picking up one of those 3 for a dollar polybagged comic book grab bags. Inside, I had two issues of the Superman reboot helmed by John Byrne (issues 2 & 3) to be specific. I remember I really liked the art, especially Byrne’s take on Jack Kirby’s New Gods characters. I’d been aware of who Darkseid was from watching Challenge of the Superfriends, but this was my first introduction to the larger pantheon of characters in that niche of the DC Universe. Being a child at the time, I wasn’t quite aware of John Byrne’s love affair with the work of Jack Kirby, but fast forward to the mid-1990s, and the writer-artist was folding in those elements to his run on Wonder Woman.

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Movie Review – Scream

Scream (1996)
Written by Kevin Williamson
Directed by Wes Craven

I do not enjoy slasher movies. Of all the subgenres of horror, I have just never found people running around with knives all that scary. Yes, in real life, if someone was running at me with a weapon, I would be terrified. But when it comes to horror fiction, I am always more disturbed by existential horror and stories with Lovecraftian themes about unavoidable cosmic terrors. The 1980s and 90s were dominated by slasher pictures, most notoriously the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street series. The latter film franchise was started by Wes Craven, one of the slasher flick founding fathers, beginning with the gruesome The Last House on the Left in 1972. After almost twenty-five years of making these movies, Craven delivered what I think is the final word on the whole affair with Scream.

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Movie Review – Candyman (1992)

Candyman (1992)
Written & Directed by Bernard Rose

Portions of major cities have been allowed to decay for one reason, the people that live there are not considered worth the effort to keep the area maintained. In America, this is typically seen in non-white neighborhoods, often low-income housing for Black people. I used to work at a school that serviced a nearby housing complex, and the city built a wall that blocked this neighborhood from the view of high-end hotels downtown so that guests wouldn’t see the area. The city spent money to build but not to improve that neighborhood but hide it from monied eyes. The same thing happens in the U.K., where Clive Barker set his short story “The Forbidden,” which would serve as Candyman’s basis.

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Movie Review – Mimic

Mimic (1997)
Written by Matthew Robbins and Guillermo del Toro
Directed by Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro was a fresh face in Hollywood in the late 1990s. He’d received acclaim for his debut Spanish-language feature Cronos (1993) and was snatched up by Miramax to helm their horror blockbuster Mimic. It seemed like a decent fit for the filmmaker. Del Toro is a professed horror lover, and Cronos played with genre tropes to create something fresh and original. The story of Mimic is a traditional monster movie but with some modern threads woven throughout. However, the studio’s will was more substantial than any clout del Toro had amassed at the time, so we ended up with an okay horror movie that does not do justice to the director’s vision.

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TV Review – The Best of The Simpsons Part 5

The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show (Season 8, Episode 14)
Original airdate: February 9, 1997
Written by David S. Cohen
Directed by Steven Dean Moore

The Simpsons has always been focused on lampooning and critiquing the medium of television. The method of doing this frequently comes from episodes centered on Itchy and Scratchy, the in-universe children’s cartoon series featuring a hyper-violent cat and mouse. In 1990, the series did its first episode with Marge against Roger Meyers Jr. and the animation studio that makes Itchy & Scratchy. In 1997, with The Simpsons looking like it would last forever (and arguably has), the writers decided to comment on what happens when a show has been around for so long that it appears it might be going stale.

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Comic Book Review – Legion of Super-Heroes: Five Years Later Omnibus Volume 1

Legion of Super-Heroes: Five Years Later Omnibus Volume 1 (2020)
Reprints Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #1-39, Annual #1-4, Timber Wolf #1-5, Adventures of Superman #478, and Who’s Who #1-11, 13, 14, 16
Written by Keith Giffen, Tom & Mary Bierbaum, Dan Jurgens, and Al Gordon
Art by Keith Giffen, Doug Braithwaite, Dusty Abell, Brandon Peterson, Jason Pearson, Rob Haynes, Ian Montgomery, Joe Phillips, Stuart Immonen, Colleen Doran, Curt Swan, June Brigman, David A. Williams, Chris Sprouse

I have not read many omnibus collections though there is a larger type of trade paperback collection that gets pretty close. It used to be when comics got bound together for a reprint, you got about 6-8 issues a book. Now we are seeing year-long arcs being collected and, in the case of omnibuses, entire creator-focused runs. Everything about Legion of Super-Heroes: Five Years Later feels epic in scale. The cast is beyond sprawling, and the story arcs touch on brand-new elements and established bits of Legionnaires lore going back decades. These issues were originally published in 1989, and the influence of Watchmen and that British new wave of storytelling is also present throughout. 

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TV Review – The Best of The Simpsons Part 4

22 Short Films About Springfield (Season 7, Episode 21)
Original airdate: April 14, 1996
Written by Richard Appel, David S. Cohen, Jonathan Collier, Jennifer Crittenden, Greg Daniels, Brent Forrester, Rachel Pulido, Steve Tompkins, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, & Matt Groening
Directed by Jim Reardon

In season four, the staff realized they were short a couple of minutes for the runtime of “The Front.” They tacked a very short “bonus” Ned Flanders cartoon complete with a theme song and title card, a la Looney Tunes, or Hanna-Barbera. The staff loved the silliness of the short they tried to find places for them over the ensuing years but just could never fit them in. 

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TV Review – The Best of The Simpsons Part 3

Deep Space Homer (Season five, episode fifteen)
Original airdate: February 24, 1994
Written by David Mirkin
Directed by Carlos Baeza (with David Silverman)

For some staff and crew, including creator Matt Groening, this episode felt like jumping the shark. If you aren’t familiar with that term, it is derived from a pretty ludicrous episode of Happy Days and has come to mean a moment when a television series goes off the rails, losing touch with what made it special, and instead becomes centered around an outlandish weekly gimmick. I can definitely see the argument for Deep Space Homer being that type of episode, but I still contend that the “jumping the shark” moment was later in The Simpsons’ development.

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Movie Review – Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke (1997)
Written & Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

This is the moment where I met Miyazaki. I can remember going to the theater at the mall near my college. It was my freshman year, and I sort of went along to the movies without really know what was being seen. I believe it was my friend Clint that wanted to see this. I had no idea that is was animated or Japanese; it was merely a Friday hanging out with people I knew. When that Joe Hisaishi score kicked in, and the story began, I was immediately taken away to another world much in the same way Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Ring trilogy felt around the same time. Afterward, I had to know who made that movie.

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