Comic Book Review – The Death of Superman

The Death of Superman (2016)
Reprints Action Comics #18-20, Adventures of Superman #496-498, Superman #73-75, Superman: The Man of Steel #17-19, Justice League America #69, Newstime: The Life and Death of Superman
Written by Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson, and Roger Stern
Art by Jon Bogdanove, Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice, Dan Jurgens, Brett Breeding, Rick Burchett, Doug Hazlewood, Dennis Janke, and Denis Rodier

There was no comic book event more prominent and more hyped in 1992 than the Death of Superman. I was eleven years old and was very aware of it from nightly news reports adding to the media frenzy around the pending death. I didn’t get to read the title at the time due to not having much disposable income, but I did hang around the comic books rack at Kroger, loitering & reading while my mom shopped. The opening chapter in the larger nearly year-long storyline is not the best part of the story, but you can’t skip it without losing some critical context. The Death of Superman is arguably a much too long fight scene spread out over multiple issues, a conflict that could have been resolved in a couple of books.

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Movie Review – Phenomena

Phenomena (1985)
Written by Franco Ferrini & Dario Argento
Directed by Dario Argento

I have tried to find something to like about Dario Argento’s movies for almost twenty years, and I have finally gotten to the point where I can say I dislike almost everything he ever made. Deep Red is a decent movie, but even Suspiria is a narrative mess. After seeing Luca Guadagnino’s take on that horror classic, it helped me know that I just don’t care for how Argento elevates style so far over substance to the point that his films devolve into incomprehensible messes. Phenomena is one of those movies that I tried my best to enjoy, but by the third act, I just wanted it to end.

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TV Review – Tales From the Loop Season One, Episode Eight

Tales From the Loop (Amazon Prime)
Season One, Episode Eight – “Home”
Written by Nathaniel Halperin
Directed by Jodie Foster

Tales From the Loop has always been a complicated series to parse and break down. It’s an anthology show but also a collection of interconnected short stories with ongoing plot elements. It’s a science fiction series that uses its fantastic ingredients to highlight deeply human stories. The tone incredibly sedate and contemplative despite presenting large scale cosmic ideas. I don’t imagine Tales From the Loop will find a broad audience as it’s such a specific thing, and not every episode hits on all cylinders leading to an uneven experience. I still argue these eight episodes are worth a watch because if nothing else, they are some of the most visually gorgeous television.

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Media Moment (05/22/20)

Netflix appears to have gone all-in on beloved children’s author Roald Dahl. Taika Waititi is set to write, direct, and produce two animated series. The first is based on Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, while the second is focused entirely on the Oompa Loompas. I am hoping that the second show isn’t done in the style of Minions, which I could see a short-sighted executive going for but not Waititi. My hope is that New Zealand filmmaker opts to make the workers in Wonka’s factory a version of his own Maori culture, reinforcing the indigenous aspects of the characters but bringing more depth to them. The other project in the works is a live-action adaptation of the Matilda stage musical, which has been running on Broadway since 2013. Ralph Fiennes has been cast as Trunchbull, the brutal headmistress of Matilda’s school. The show’s original London director Matthew Warchus and the playwright Dennis Kelly are both on board.

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Movie Review – The Legend of Billie Jean

The Legend of Billie Jean (1985)
Written by Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal
Directed by Matthew Robbins

On paper, the concept for The Legend of Billie Jean sounds fantastic, yet what ended up on the screen was a tonal mess and thematically murky. It’s a shame because the story being told was relevant in 1985 and continues to be timely. The more you unpack the picture, the more frustratingly confounding it becomes, allowing what should be direct and straightforward to become bogged down by side characters and subplots. What this could have been was a superhero origin story, but instead, we get a half-assed “girl power” movie that doesn’t do anything meaningful with the material.

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TV Review – Jeeves & Wooster Season One

Jeeves & Wooster (ITV)
Season One, Original airdates: April 22 – May 13, 1990
Written by P.G. Wodehouse and Clive Exton
Directed by Robert Young

Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie were a very well-known comedy duo in the U.K. coming out of the late 1980s. They had a top-rated skit comedy series, A Bit of Fry & Laurie, while making appearances in Rowan Atkinson’s Black Adder show. When it came time to cast the iconic English valet and his buffoonish employer Fry & Laurie were hesitant to step into such significant roles. When it became apparent the show was going to be made whether they were in it or not, they took the parts believing they could do the original text justice.

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Movie Review – The Sure Thing

The Sure Thing (1985)
Written by Steven Bloom and Jonathan Roberts
Directed by Rob Reiner

Rob Reiner had just come off of his debut film, the hilarious This Is Spinal Tap. His next project was The Sure Thing, a teen sex comedy, seemingly very different from that first feature. Reiner decided to make it the kind of movie he was interested in and played down the bawdy elements to focus on the dynamics of the two lead characters. As a result, he made what could be considered a modern remake of the classic screwball comedy It Happened One Night, following a similar plot structure and back and forth between the leads. The Sure Thing stands out from the crowd at the time, other films more influenced by Porky’s or John Hughes’ high school work. The Sure Thing feels like a classic movie, a connecting thread to the films of the 1930s and 40s.

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