Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rest in Peace, Dwayne McDuffie

The comic world has been hit hard today. I'm still in complete shock and overwhelming sadness over the news today that Dwayne McDuffie, also known as "The Maestro" to many of his fans has passed away due to surgery complications. Upon reading the news, I just sat staring at the screen in school, minutes passing by before I can do anything else. This is a truly sad time for a lot of comic book fans. I actually feel like I want to throw up right now. I've looked up to this man for years and bought and enjoyed so much of his work. Static, Deathlok, Icon, Hardware, JLU, Fantastic Four... We had even interacted to do an interview some point soon. One of my biggest goals was to finally meet this man in person. He's one writer I've looked up to for years that I've never got to meet. As a young black inspiring comic writer, McDuffie opened up my eyes to a lot of aspects of the medium concerning black characters and opening the field for a lot of those characters to be brought in through authentic feeling ways, showcasing characters that felt 3D. McDuffie has always been one writer I've aspired to be like in some of my craft, from his strong character development and commentary to his fantastic and hilarious humor that rang true to human nature, especially in jokes concerning those of African-American backgrounds. Upon telling my best friend this news, not only was he also in shock, but he then came up with a statement saying, "African Americans just took a step back in the comic book world." One can only imagine now with McDuffie's constant fighter for diversity within comics.

More often than most, McDuffie always found a way to crack me up with character scenes. Here's one of my absolute favorites that never ceases to crack a smile on my face. I'm more than sure a lot of us black folks can relate to this scene in some way shape or form. Haha!

Your guidance and heroism will continue to live on in my heart, Maestro. Thank you so much for all you've done and all your work will continue to do for me and many others as we continue to re-read your craft. Your stories will continue to be there for us. Thank you for all you've done and all your inspiration. A legend may have left our graces, but your grace is still among us.

Condolences to all his close friends and family.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Oh, The Horror! #60: Frozen

I was original suggested this movie by my oldest god brother a few months back. Since then, I've been hearing other people from the online community recommending it and giving it rather good feedback. So a few weekends ago, I'm spending time with my older godbrother and one of my brothers and I finally sit down to watch Frozen. I didn't know this was even out in theaters, I assumed it was direct to DVD. But this seem to be a flop in the box office. After watching this, I do sort of wish I saw it in theaters just to hear the audience reactions through out. This move was very tense and director, Adam Green, set out to make a clear horror-thriller and in my opinion did a very fine job. It wasn't excellent but this was by far a very well executed horror film that I would truly recommend.

The film follows three friends (two best friends and a girl friend) at a ski resort. They lie their way to pass and go on a sky lift and later on attempt to take advantage of this again only to accidentally get trapped in mid air. Due to mistakes and circumstances, they are left stranded there and the next time the resort will open will be in five days. So there they are hoping for the best as they're stuck in mid-air, freezing cold with no food, water, and no cell phones. This movie could have gotten incredibly boring but it seem near impossible too. The way shit and more shit started to go wrong kept you at the edge of your seat wondering how they'll get out of this mess. A true reason for the intensity of this film was due to the fact that something like this can indeed happen to anyone. It also got pretty exciting when wolves came into the picture, waiting for those humans to make a mistake and take advantage of that fresh white meat! The only really issue I had was that I was coming up with various ways they could have gotten out of quite a few predicaments, and sometimes they'd come up with it a bit too late. There were quite a few dumb decisions in this film that just made me want to face palm and could take away from some enjoyment.

The movie could have been better than it was but that doesn't make it any bad of a film. It seems with a lot of horror films now, either they suck or either they have elements to be truly great films with some stuff missing. The acting was decent as such with the character work. Wasn't great but it did a well enough job for you to like the characters. Suspense was well made with some very good practical special effects. One of my favorite parts contains a particular shot of a wolf staring at one of the characters out of nowhere. The sub-plot seem to come out of nowhere yet it still set up right and added to the intensity.

Once again, not a perfect film, but truly a good film to watch to pass the time and enjoy.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Oh, The Horror! #59: Black Swan

So for my birthday shindig, I gathered some friends and family and headed straight to the theaters for a grand time of Black Swan.

Wow... just... wow. I love this movie. I do, I truly truly do. I walked out of the theaters feeling as if this movie was done for me specifically. This is the type of movie that I continually pray for as a fan of horror. And not just horror, psychological horror. A solid and engrossing story? Check. Performance? Check. Great direction? CHECK! From beginning to end I was totally engrossed in the story Darren Aronofsky was presenting of a shy and innocent young ballerina dancer named Nina as she struggled with the pressures of being pushed to play the dual role of the Queen Swan. Now, the overall themes and sub-text may have been done before and is nothing new, but the execution and the telling of the story of this particular character was just so very strong. While you can argue there's ambiguity and things to think about, there's a lot of things spelled out to you through implications and obvious symbolism, but seeing Portman's portrayal of an artist going mad for perfection of her craft while also raising into a state of confidence just refuses to let you go. I truly felt glee watching how well made this film was, especially as a film-maker who feels very dishearten with a lot of the current output of what passes as horror films. Thank you, Aronofsky. You're one of the few who comes out to prove to me that I can still proud call myself a fan of this genre in this day and age. The direction, the cinematography, the fantastic and beautiful sound mixing and the beautiful score! Jeez!

If you don't know the premise for this film already, Nina Sayers is a dancer in a NYC ballet company. She's been dancing for quite some time now and although has been known for her dedication and being a fantastic dancer, she doesn't quite have that special spark that truly makes her stand out. When the director of the ballet company decides he's ready for a new production, Nina, much to surprise, gets picked the lead role of the Swan Queen. In playing the Swan Queen, she must both portray the White Swan, innocent and sweet and kind-hearted compared to the Black Swan, the evil twin sister who's conniving and devious and sexual. She fits the role of the White Swan to a perfect T, but she lacks any resemblance of the Black Swan. She's constantly being pushed and a target of insults and sexual harassment by her director, Thomas (played by Vincent Cassel, a growing favorite of mine) while having to deal with her overbearing and protective mother (Barbara Hershey). Of course her life doesn't become any easier when Lily (Mila Kunis) from San Francisco joins the company, a dancer who is impulsive, confident and in other words pretty much is the Black Swan and essentially threatens Nina's chances of being Swan Queen. Nina starts to obsess over being perfect and can't seem to grasp a hold of her reality. Things go crazy and we're not sure if anything is what it seems.

I had so many favorite parts and aspects of this film that it really is hard for me to pick one defining part. I actually found it surprising some criticism I've heard of the movie walking out with some friends and family as we all discussed the film. A lot of the discussion I would post here, but I truly don't want to spoil this movie at all. Just go and see it and have a grand time of fine directing.