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Messages - Professor Bear

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Film & TV / Re: Han Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
« on: 20 October, 2018, 03:28:41 pm »
I just liked the experience of enjoying a new Star Wars film.  What I could actually see of it, that is.

Books & Comics / Re: Scream & Misty Special 2018
« on: 19 October, 2018, 08:19:18 pm »
Alan Grant has some detailed opinions on morality and anarchy that don't come up much in interviews, it's a shame he never got the kind of in-depth evaluation of his work that - for example - Colin Smith did with Grant's fellow Scot Mark Millar.

Books & Comics / Re: Scream & Misty Special 2018
« on: 19 October, 2018, 06:04:01 pm »
I do agree it feels slightly off, but not because of Max's qualms. In fact, I was thinking it seemed the most on-character thing he's done so far. Max may be infinitely manipulative and his moral reasoning all over the place

I made my case poorly by pointing out Ingram's abduction and torture, as my intent wasn't to illustrate that Max would definitely do one thing or the other, because he exists in a state of moral absolutism* - it was to illustrate that he wouldn't equivocate in the way he does, and that lack of certainty is why the whole "this seems wrong" stuff didn't ring true to me because it makes Max seem like the wrong partner in an abusive relationship, along with - as you point out - Max's new ability to read minds and discover someone's deepest traumas.  Wasn't there a story with a local gangster where Max more or less has to go through the motions of throwing him into a sewer full of rats or a graveyard full of skeletons trying to find out what makes the guy afraid?  He just seems to know right away what would frighten the copper.  I dunno, maybe he read her life story on the internet or something, but that still doesn't explain why he immediately defaults to absolute sadism and psychological terror against someone he supposedly views as blameless instead of something quick and clean like hypnotizing her into jumping in front of traffic or falling off something tall.

*WARNING: subjective opinions to follow - although Wagner and Grant's most famous partnership was on a character who was a noted moral relativist, Max, being a computer, consistently operated in a binary state of moral absolutism, and if your action was to hound someone to suicide over a debt you were trying to collect or turning off a killer computer in an effort to stop it murdering people, if both of those actions resulted in someone's death, then to Max they are equally "bad" acts, because Max doesn't practice any kind of moral reasoning, because he can't.
I would go even further and say that whether it be calling Burt an oaf for being seen disposing of a body or making a frowny/smiley face at an appropriate juncture of a conversation, all of Max's emotional displays are affectations for the benefit of others, as Max doesn't actually care about anyone or anything, he's simply following his core programme to look after his tenants and fake civility or a forceful tone where he deems it necessary - with even his blackly comic narration being an affectation because that's what the reader of a kids' horror comic wants.  He's controlling and frightening, but it's all a facade, all a means to an entirely logical and justifiable end.
And yet somehow Max is still unquestionably a bad 'un.

Off Topic / Re: RIPs
« on: 19 October, 2018, 04:52:48 pm »
GamesMaster, which started out doing cheats and irreverent reviews of SNES and Megadrive games around the time of the demise of Zzap and Your Sinclair, and so is probably the last of the irreverent hobbyist mags of the early '90s.  If nothing else, it has outlasted the neo-yob era of men's softcore porn mags like Zoo and Nuts that it arguably helped enable, so at least there's that.

Books & Comics / Re: Scream & Misty Special 2018
« on: 18 October, 2018, 02:16:39 pm »
Been reading through Hallowscream lately, so a Scream! homage that doesn't quite know where to pitch its tent on the Venn of "nostalgia", "accurate evocation of the era" and "I am a grown ass man now and I demand to see graphic disembowelment" holds no fear for me and I enjoyed this plenty overall but HAHAHA I sure hope this isn't a crowded field or anything otherwise those people making their own horror comic anthology for Halloween 2018 that mixes newly-minted talent with old hands might start to feel kinda worried around about now.

13th Floor - entertaining enough, but feels off.  Been reading the original lately (as part of my EAGLE read-through) and am currently at the bit where a policeman is looking into the strange disappearances in and around Maxwell Towers but can't prove anything even though he knows summink is amiss, so Max abducts and tortures him and... yeah well anyway, the moral quandary Max experiences here doesn't ring true.  Of course, I can put on my Big Boy Writing Hat and see that the writer is putting Sam and Max (LOL) at loggerheads for DRAMA purposes, but again, this doesn't ring true because Max is the controlling, abusive, manipulative one in his relationships with people, it's kind of the central narrative concept of the strip and best illustrated by his relationship with the long-suffering Jerry or the doomed Burt Runch.  Well anyway, it feels less like a particularly naughty and subversive comic for kids and more like a later landfill-era 2000ad strip.  Competent, but forgettable, though John Stokes channeling Ortiz is a delight.
Decomposition Jones - a utilisation of the trappings of blaxploitation by transplanting them onto a staple of white exploitation cinema of the late 21st century, to wit: the white cop pursuing a serial killer sub-genre of neo-noir.  The writer replaces traditional narrative captions and explanatory text with a "song" that is actually the soul funk trappings of the Shaft theme deliberately mis-described as "disco" so as to complete a cunning meta-narrative exploration of cultural appropriation by transplanting white culture onto a noted African American cultural artifact, thus arguably making Decomposition Jones the most satirical work in the special, as it serves as a commentary upon the format of the book itself, which appropriates children's literature and imposes upon it the violent excesses expected by older men.  I particularly liked the final scene of the mingling of cultures played out as a fantasy sequence between warring blood types, as zombies (African/Hiatian), vampires (Eastern European) and the paradigm of Caucasian cultural authority and social power, the white police officer, are violently forced together to birth something new, a whimsical metaphor for the urban folklore of the New York melting pot.
Black Beth - very by-the-numbers backdoor pilot for a Xena knock-off.  The establishing shots could have been a little more explicit, as the art style is loose and scratchy across the following pages, making some of the narrative jumps in time and place unclear, though the writing does most of the lifting there.  Not bad or anything, just not very interesting.
Black Max - not impressed by the cliffhanger ending, but a zombie Kraut gets kickflipped in the face and dammit I am not made of stone.  Simon Coleby's art is more old-school than you might expect because of the bright colours, and the tight framing on those first few pages is really great even if the letterer was probably cursing him out.  Likewise the old-school dialogue really channels the originating era while matching it with a modern brevity, but like I said, a shame about the ending.
Best Friends Forever - "never mind your dead wife, look at this white gator" if nothing else Boyle really captures how dreadful the majority of the American South seems to outsiders, which helpfully stops you from asking if a school would really let a carnivorous animal HA HA WHAT AM I SAYING their answer to gun violence in schools is to add more guns to schools of course they let children take alligators to school with them why am I even wasting my time thinking about this America is a fucking circus of a country.  The Americanisms are the biggest problem for me with this one, as the kind of experience that would make this story resonate with anyone would likely come from second hand exposure to US culture, particularly the teen horror genre from which the story derives a lot of beats, so while it's a departure from the thematic ethos of homaging UK comics, there's arguably a case to be made that it's a good representation of the relatively closed creative cycle of US horror.  Hmm that sounds a bit negative but isn't meant to be - I means this is very American oh geez that sounds even more negative - I did like this even if the final page is a little unclear, but I'll stop now.
Mint Condition - the editor has to take the blame for the rough edges on this one as the lettering really needed a more experienced hand and the dialogue could have done with a bit of polishing, but this is quite funny and manages to be cogent despite the seeming importance of the Misty self-reverence.  A good one-off.
Bookworm - a decent story, but the restoration makes some odd choices: the lettering could have done with a more aggressive overhaul, and while the colours are good, the melodramatic, gothy subject matter actually seems like it would lend itself better to a black and white presentation, or at least a more subdued palate.  I'm more just backseat driving in my crits now, but this is a solid tale and I'd quite like to see a collection of this kind of thing ALA The Complete Future Shocks.

Film & TV / Re: Current TV Boxset Addiction
« on: 17 October, 2018, 08:01:12 pm »
I found Luke Cage and Iron Fist's sophomore seasons to suffer from the same problem: they took the major tropes and themes of fun, outrageous genres originating outside the honky cultural monopoly (blaxploitation, kung fu) and saddled them with white television's embarrassment with genre fiction for which it overcompensates with po-facedness and violent excess.
A lot of Luke Cage just transplants its parent genre's nastiness and fetishism of the debasement of minorities and ditches everything positive.  Likewise with Iron Fist, which also just sort of meanders through some really dated superhero story tropes about stealing superpowers and being worthy, which would have simply been disappointing on its own terms if not for the fact that this iteration of the powers-stealing plot has been lifted wholesale from the cutscenes of the PS1 videogame Wu-Tang: Taste The Pain, and the fact that they don't acknowledge this in an age where lampshade-hanging is a Freudian compulsion in every single writing room in North America just shows how desperate they are to be taken seriously.
These shows were equally boring and unoriginal - though special mention goes to Luke Cage's terrible fight direction - but Iron Fist's utterly stupid ending probably takes the biscuit for no other reason than making me happy this show is dead.

And can we talk about how overlong these dumbass superhero shows are?  Better Call Saul only gets 10 episodes a season, FFS.  These superhero shows are at least 3 episodes too long - especially if you're playing Luke Cage's dad.

Off Topic / Re: The Political Thread
« on: 15 October, 2018, 12:38:32 pm »
I am reasonably certain that if the RA don't kill any civilian casualties in their upcoming campaign, they will be the first terrorist group to have the support of the majority of the UK's population.

Off Topic / Re: The Political Thread
« on: 15 October, 2018, 12:16:50 pm »
It's a shame I'm not much of an Irish nationalist because if I was I could be enjoying this whole karmic payback thing.  If nothing else it'll be a hoot to see Irish people making famine jokes about the British.

Film & TV / Re: Last movie watched...
« on: 14 October, 2018, 04:52:23 pm »
Your comments are proof that the British Labour Party is riddled with... (spins wheel) antisemitism.

Rollerball (2004) - this film is not very entertaining, so now I want war with China.  No wait that's for my review of Skyscraper, I meant: dang this is... okay?
I'd heard this was terrible for various reasons such as director John McTiernan's original (and more violent) cut running to nearer two hours than this 90-minute theatrical version, the removal of any social commentary or satire from the script, and the setting being changed from future America to a fictional but contemporary Eastern European country, and fair enough the end result is a bit choppy in places, but otherwise it holds together pretty well and while not any kind of classic, I still think I enjoyed it more than the dull original, to which, if you squint a bit, this kind of works as a prequel, showing how a bunch of opportunistic scumbags accidentally luck into creating a crowd-pleasing bloodsport meant initially to placate downtrodden workers blowing off steam but finding a wider global audience thanks to innovations in streaming technology.
As for "no social commentary or satire", the setup for the story is that a poverty-stricken kid flees the authorities in his homeland (America) and finds himself essentially cage fighting in the ruins of the Soviet Union in order to distract underpaid miners from their exploitation by corrupt police and politicians owned by gangsters, and the kid's life becomes imperiled when the game is rigged in order to help sell it to Americans - apart from the obvious critiques of the narrative-building of neo-American folklore and late stage capitalism inherent in a violent televised bloodsport based around wacky over the top characters, the implication is that Russian gangsters are influencing US society by promoting violent unrest via the internet (the movie ends with a likely-doomed violent riot by drunken workers), I mean... there's commentary here, and it's not exactly hard to find, I think reality may just have taken a decade and a half to catch up with satire is all.
Chris "I have no idea who this is" Klein plays a pretty anodyne lead, LL Cool J does about as well as an actor as one might expect of a grown fucking man who calls himself LL Cool J, and Rebecca "I am not going to try spelling it and nor shall I google it" whatsername doesn't get much elbow room to act in a weird tough girl/helpless tottie flip-flop act, but pretty much nobody gets to do anything noteworthy, not even Jean Reno - though Naveen Andrews sort of seems like he's trying for a panto dame thing, which is commendable even if the script isn't going to help him out.

Passable and doesn't outstay its welcome.  These days, I ask literally nothing more of a film.

Film & TV / Re: Last movie watched...
« on: 13 October, 2018, 05:56:23 pm »
I thought it was great that they made a movie about the runners-up in the space race without it ever feeling like they were cataloguing a famous failure, ALA Cool Runnings or Rocky 1.  I genuinely felt like being first to set foot on Luna and then never capitalising on that achievement - in the way the comrades did with the invention of satellite communication and the establishment of manned space stations - was still an important achievement rather than a hollow symbol of the greatness and unity America could never achieve under capitalism.

Off Topic / Re: RIPs
« on: 11 October, 2018, 10:39:00 pm »
Sorry about your nan, Jimbo.  Hope she had a good innings.

Off Topic / Re: The Political Thread
« on: 07 October, 2018, 05:12:24 pm »
I think Thelema Sharktopia is supposed to work like that Star Trek episode where Wesley stamps on some flowers and gets sentenced to death because equal punishment for every transgression means no-one wants to break any laws, so you end up with a utopia, only in Sharktopia instead of the death penalty, the punishment is that nobody does anything and you're never punished because no-one has the right to tell you you did something wrong, plus there are no laws anyway because no-one has the right to define right or wrong behavior, so technically there's no crime, but we still get a utopia anyway.

Off Topic / Re: The Political Thread
« on: 06 October, 2018, 10:50:18 pm »
As Rosa Parks famously said: "Okay, I'll go sit at the back of the bus, I don't want any trouble and what's one person making a stand on an issue as big as this really going to achieve?"

Weirdly, Novaro just did an interview with Socialist Register's Leo Panitch where he covers the idea of libertarian communism and how it both cannot be voted into place, but also - crucially - cannot be achieved outside the existing political system because - and this is the mind-bendingly difficult bit to comprehend - there isn't any alternative to the existing political system on offer.

Off Topic / Re: The Political Thread
« on: 04 October, 2018, 06:48:15 pm »
Democracy is a form of violence because it involves imposing your will on the majority.  The only good bug is a dead bug.

Off Topic / Re: The Political Thread
« on: 03 October, 2018, 01:16:00 pm »
And people wonder why the UK guillotine industry is dead on its arse.

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