Time to Stalk Your Local Comic Retailer

December is here and the vividly painted graphic novel HARBOR MOON has arrived in this month’s Previews. Officially hitting shelves in February through Arcana, the title is getting a ton of early buzz and positive reviews.

So print this out, march down to your local comic shop and make sure they have your copy ready and waiting.


Goodreads Give-Away Winner Announced

A winner has been chosen (by Goodreads) for the Harbor Moon give-away.  825 people entered… and our winner is N.J. Tyler from St. Louis, MO.  Congratulations and thanks to everyone for entering.

Just a reminder that the book is currently available through DCBS, the nation’s largest comic retailer, for almost half-price – PLUS a signed book plate from myself, Dikran Ornekian (writer) and Pawel Sambor (artist).  Since Pawel lives in Poland, he has yet to sign anything.  So this is a crazy offer.

TV Review: Walking Dead

Frank Darabont, why do you this?  Why do you make one great thing, then a bunch of shitty things, then another great thing?

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Deadhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=citydoglax&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1607060760&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr came in with a lot of hype, as it is the biggest non-superhero title in comics today. I have seen it shopped around as a feature and then tv show for the last five or six years, with some nibbles but never a bite. Fortunately, it found a home with Gale Anne Hurd and Darabont.  From there they were able to get AMC to take it on. AMC has been taking some big risks lately and it seems to be paying off for them, which is great to hear. If The Walking Dead’s ratings are any indication, they have a bonafide hit on their hands. It was the highest rated premiere on cable television. Ever. And even crazier is that those ratings held over the season (which was only six episodes). And I’m not alone in thinking it is a really well-made.

Only six episodes, the 90 minute pilot is the clear stand-out. Besides having the production value of a feature film (albeit a lower budget film), it sets up a lot for what is to come… but even better for a show to suck you in – leaves you with a lot of questions. I think that the problem is that the remaining five episodes do little to answer those questions or make you care that much about the characters. Although I was along for the ride, it wasn’t always smooth.  A few moments here and there that were interesting or exciting was mostly tempered by a lot of nothing.  There are a few characters we have been following since the pilot who enter the pearly gates at the hands of zombies, but they didn’t do much other than cry and complain anyway. In fact, I was hoping they were vanquished. That said, the books are great and I’m interested to see where they go with the show, but I can definitely wait for next season.

Bit of a sidenote, it was just announced that Darabont fired the writing staff of the show.  Which means that he’ll be writing most of the episodes, along with Kirkman. Or episodes will be farmed out to select writers. I understand the benefits of a writer’s room/staff – but I honestly don’t understand why more shows don’t do this. It is cheaper and makes for more of a consistent voice throughout the show’s run/season. A show I think would benefit greatly from this would be Dexter, which just ended it’s fifth season with a neatly wrapped bow (nothing like last season which blew this season away).

Amazon Page

I’m trying to add more reviews to Amazon, and it seems to only cap my reviews. Does anyone have a clue how to add more?

Also, I’m testing out running the blog so it goes through my Amazon Author page. This post is sort of a test. All that means is this blog will also post there. It currently posts at my Goodreads Author page as well.  Taking over the blogosphere.

Movie Review: The Road

I had no interest in seeing The Road in theaters when it came out, and it wasn’t even a Netflix title for me.  I happened to DVR it on HBO and watched it in chunks… because it was absurdly long and draining.  It gets the award for most depressing film of the last few years.  I can see why no one went to see this.  It is so drab and gray and desolate – but with no upside for the viewer.  I understand the painstaking detail in the cinematography and it was beautiful in the way it was shot, but it was just too much… and since nothing actually happens in the film it was ultimately pointless.

TV Review: Boardwalk Empire

This was one of the pieces of entertainment I was looking forward to the most this year.  Scorcese is one of my heroes and I’m a sucker for gangster-fare, especially prohibition era.  There is just something less criminal and alluring about what they were doing back then.  Even the bad guys had a code, and the only ones that got hurt were other bad guys.  They were essentially bootlegging what is found everywhere now.  It’s not as insidious as heroin, crack or meth.

The show started with a bang, coming out the gates like a thoroughbred – as one would expect from this big budget HBO show directed by Martin Scorcese.  It introduced a handful of colorful (and real-life) characters that were all intriguing. It set some high stakes… but then for a few episodes at the beginning didn’t deliver on any of that. It seemed like a lot of soul searching and exposition.  As if they were trying to work in actual facts, rather than worry about actually being entertaining.  Michael Pitt’s Jim Darmody spent a lot of time in Chicago with Al Capone, doing nothing (save for one great hit).  There was an entire episode with a whore who had her face cut open preceding that hit that was a giant waste of time. The same can be said for the ongoings in Atlantic City with Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson. It was dull and boring. The only interesting things going on were seeing Gretchen Mol’s hot mom (to Darmody) getting banged by Lucky Luciano, who was supposed to be finding Normady to kill him.  I stuck it out, and for good reason.  The show is a visual treat, and they although it seems trite to load it with  so many facts/factual characters, they do an awesome job of it.  But once Darmody gets back to Jersey, things really take off and the show finished extremely strong.  I didn’t want the season to end and am now really looking forward to season 2.

The standouts of the first season, to me, were Al Capone (Stephen Graham who was also great in Public Enemiesas Baby Face Nelson) and Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) as the veteran without a face.  He is such a bad ass, and the actor who plays him breathes such unique life into him.  He is by far the best character on the show. And he’s the biggest badass. Everyone is pretty top-notch, from Michael Shannon’s prohibition officer to Shea Whigham’s sheriff Eli Thompson.  I was a Buscemi apologist for a while, saying the show was good enough it didn’t matter (there were a few people who were arguing that he was the wrong choice to play a ruthless and cunning politician, who was also a ladies man).  They were right.  It works, but with the long list of actors they could have cast it is a shame they didn’t.  Buscemi seems better suited for a lesser politician… That isn’t me saying he is bad, he has always given off a weak/weaselly vibe. He’s not Tony Soprano, he is his misfit cousin who winds up dead.  It works – but a good show could have been great.

Movie Review: Prince of Persia, Sands of TIme

In the films I’ve seen her in, I can’t say I was a huge Gemma Arterton fan.  She was cute and a decent actress in Quantum of Solace, but wasn’t overly attractive.  Not next to the well-bronzed Olga Kurylenko (who I just talked about in Centurion). And I barely remember her in Rock n Rolla.  But she is absurd in Prince of Persia.  When she tells Prince Destin ‘because you haven’t been able to take your eyes off of me’ she wasn’t lying.  They do a pretty amazing job of making her look like a bronzed goddess, and every second she’s on screen you’re drawn to her.  And from what I remember, she was pale and pasty in Quantum of Solace. I immediately put Quantum of Solace on my Netflix to make sure I didn’t miss something the first time around (and it is a pretty dope movie).  And I moved Clash of the Titans to the top, to be fair it was coming up soon anyway. She may have been the best looking human being I’ve seen on screen since Megan Fox in Transformers.  Thankfully, this movie was a lot more entertaining.

A lot was made about Jake Gyllenhaal being cast as Dastan, and it is rather jarring having a caucasian play a Persian.  Especially one so cornbread as him.  To his credit, he is good. A bit smug, but it plays well. They disguise his casting by surrounding him by pretty much all caucasians, and I don’t know if that soothed the blow or made it worse.  I still have yet to decide.  It did allow them to cast Arterton, so I guess I’m leaning to the former.

Director Mike Newell holds the film together well, as one would expect – but he tries to do too much. His use of bullet-time (during moments when the dagger wasn’t in use) seemed suited for a lesser director. And we all know from his past work (Donnie Brasco, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) that he’s got some serious talent and shouldn’t rely on such outdated and lame tricks. It’s a shame Newell isn’t more involved in trying to get Elfstones of Shannara off the ground.  I  know this film got knocked a bit, but he’s capable of some great work and I do believe that with the right script he would do a good job of turning that into a powerhouse franchise.  I’m a bit biased as I’m attached as a producer to that one… Prince of Persia underperformed stateside, but was a monster overseas and there is talk of doing a sequel. I am just glad they did not kill the princess off.

Movie Review: Restrepo

As far as any filmmakers having to earn their footage, I’d say that Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington far surpassed just about any others in shooting their documentary Restrepo, a moving piece about a platoon embedded in a deadly part of Afghanistan. Junger and Hetherington must have braved some serious shit to catch what happens on camera, but not nearly as serious as what these soldiers go through.  Although an intimate portrait of an entire, Junger and Hetherington never get the viewer engaged enough with any particular characters they are covering. And thus the piece loses weight and doesn’t have the impact it should.  You would think it was more intense than say Black Hawk Down, but it just wasn’t.  Even when bullets were flying. But it was definitely a rare glimpse into what is happening overseas and makes you appreciate what these guys go through and what we have over here.

Can Gold Coast Film Festival Become Meaningful?

It was just announced that The Gold Coast International Film Festival will launch in June through the Great Neck Arts Center. The festival’s executive director will be  GNAC founder Regina Gil. Senior programmer will be Sean McPhillips, the former Miramax acquisitions executive who most recently programmed the 10th installment of the Great Neck Arts Center’s Furman Film Series. Former Miramax communications head Matthew Hiltzik will handle media strategy.

This makes a lot more sense than the Hamptons Film Festival, which actually takes place after the summer season and suffers from the fact that the Hamptons has poor accommodations for the weekend traveller (and the cinemas are awful). This sounds great for Long Islanders, such as myself, who have to trek into the city and get a fractured festival for Tribeca (there is no headquarters and the screenings are all over the place). Tribeca takes place in the spring, Sundance is in January, Toronto is in the fall, along with the New York Film and Hamptons Film festivals. The timing of the Gold Coast Festival creates an opportunity to draw films on the rebound from the Cannes Film Festival. But that seems like a stretch, as there isn’t much to do in Great Neck. (In fact, the true North Shore, or Gold Coast, would be further east a few miles). The big question is: what is the draw for anyone outside of locals?  Particularly filmmakers.  

Movie Review: Centurion

Centurion is a title that passed out of theaters very quickly, but I’m always interested in movies about Roman warfare.  I can’t explain that, it just is.  And I’ve been on a Michael Fassbender marathon lately.  Hunger, 300, Inglourious Basterds… and I just added Jonah Hex and Blood Creek to my queue.  Neither of which I think will be good, but I’m excited to check his performances out. He blew me away in Hunger and it has been all Fassbender since.

In Centurion he plays a Roman soldier who basically goes through hell at the hand of the Picts.  He was good, but to be honest it was Dominic West who really shone in this one as the Roman general who is one with his men.  Built for battle and nothing else.

This film actually has the same problems as the other Neil Marshall films I’ve seen (all of them) – a cool premise, but a murky plot with even murkier lighting making it hard to decipher what’s going on and the occasionally awesome sequence. Thankfully, most of this film takes place during the daylight.  And the cast of this film is better than the others.

I guess my biggest problem with the film is that, although West and Fassbender are awesome, it is hard to root for Roman soldiers.  They are way out of Rome, invading the homes and land of the Picts.  They try to dehumanize the Picts, by dressing them up like savages and having them speak in a foreign tongue… but Olga Kurylenko’s hunter character (she would be so awesome if she never spoke like in this film) was raped and had her tongue cut out by the Romans, right after her parents were raped and killed. And the only child in the film is a Pict child, who is killed by the Romans.  None of this is actually a ‘problem’, it is probably more like real-life.  Both sides of a battle have their heroes, and their reasons. But here the Picts are depicted as the villains, unlike a film such as Battle of Algierswhere both sides are portrayed evenly.