I bought just three comics on my trip to the shop this week. I got:

  • Battler Britton 5 (of 5)
  • Storm Watch Post Human Division 1
  • Joe Matt’s Peep Show 14
  • That is the first issue of Peep Show since 2004. And before that we got issue 12 in 2002, issue 11 in 2000 and issue 10 in 1998. I was shocked to see it on the shelves. He got knocked off his every two years schedule.

    I am interrupting my regularly scheduled blog to bring you another piece on a movie. I had something else I wanted to write about but then I went and watched “The Departed”. It’s been getting rave reviews and for the first two thirds of the movie they are deserved. But the last third of the movie was jaw-droppingly bad. My mouth was literally open and I kept saying “Huh?” for the last half hour or so of the film. Dry mouth was setting in. I won’t ruin the movie for those who haven’t seen it and who might agree with all of the raves it’s getting. But here is a short recap with no plot spoilers. Just some generalities.

    The basic plot of the movie is Leo DiCaprio is the undercover cop and Matt Damon is the undercover criminal. They are trying to find and do away with one and other. It’s a bit more subtle and nuanced than that but there’s the one sentence “high concept”.
    The first thing that bothered me is that there was this little subplot about them liking the same girl. Leo and Matt didn’t know about each other and the girl was a psychiatrist (yes, she wrote prescriptions) who worked for the police so it was almost believable. I was willing to overlook that little bit of moviemaking conceit because the rest of the movie was excellent.

    Then came the last half hour. Realism was thrown out the window and my willing suspension of disbelief came crashing down. Everybody started acting like brainless movie characters and not like the smart people they were in the first two thirds of the movie. It turned into a sit-com without the comedy. Well, the comedy was there it just wasn’t intentional. It was a sit-dram. If even one character stopped and thought about what he was doing, as they were all doing earlier in the movie, the movie could have ended half an hour sooner. Instead we have a series of coincidences, smart guys suddenly acting stupid and a key character going on vacation for two weeks. Seriously, at the climax of the movie when he is needed the most a key character, instead of sticking with the case he has built for a year, is sent on a vacation.

    You know that old cop movie cliche where the cop “doesn’t play by the rules” and pisses of his captain so the cop is forced to take time of? The cop never actually take time off and works on the case “on his own time” until at the end of the movie he captures the bad guys and everything is okay. It’s the plot to “Beverly Hills Cop” and plenty of other films. In “The Departed” the cop in question actually takes the time off! That’s because if he was still on the case he would have figured out who the mole was in ten seconds. But they had a half an hour left in the movie so off he went. We don’t need him. He’s just the key to the whole investigation.

    The ending was like an episode of “Three’s Company”. If someone had just said, “Lucy is the name of the dog and not a girl Jack is banging in his room” than a whole side splitting episode of misunderstanding and mirth would never have happened. Acceptable in a comedy but not in a gritty drama.

    To further expand the sitcom theme I think the only way this ending would make any sense is if all of the movie actors were replaced by the characters from Seinfeld for the last half an hour. I see Kramer in the Nicholson role, Jerry in the Damon part, George as DiCaprio, and then we can fill out the rest of the cast with all the wacky people from the Seinfeld world. Puddy and Newman hanging around as cops or criminals would be amusing.

    I’m going to mention “Murder by Death” for the second week in a row. At the end of that movie as Truman Capote, the villain of the piece, is telling all of the detectives that they didn’t solve the mystery correctly he comes down on them for their bad mystery novel tricks. One of the tricks he chides them for is introducing characters in the last chapter who “weren’t even in the book before”. Hence cheating all the people who were trying to figure out the mystery of ever being able to do so. I was reminded of that line when in the last ten minutes of “The Departed” a previously unseen and unmentioned character shows up, has a pivotal role, and then goes away. All in the space of two minutes! Sure maybe he was around in the background for a bit but he was unnoticed and unimportant until his nonsensical goofy actions were required. It just made me go wha?????

    By the end of the movie I was ready for some zombies. Really. If at the climax of “The Departed” zombies had showed up and started eating people I think it would have made more sense. Near the end of the movie a character was opening his apartment door and I thought, “A zombie popping out right now would top this movie off just right”. Maybe in the special edition.

    Oh, and by the way, there are certainly no crime scene investigators in this world because the crooked cop was just making up stories that made no sense to describe what happened when various dead bodies showed up. One look at the blood spatter and every character on CSI would say, “He’s lying”.

    A pretty good week for me at Ye Ole Local Comic Shoppe. I got six comics tonight:

  • Strangers In Paradise 85 (only five issues left)
  • American Splendor 3
  • Jonah Hex 13
  • Local 7
  • Ex Machina 24 (I still haven’t read 23. It’s in a small pile of comics I’ve yet to read.
  • Apocalypse Nerd 4. Peter Bagge’s best work in years. Though I did enjoy “Sweatshop” when that was coming out.
  • That’s the story.Dig it.

    It never ceases to amaze me how many bad movies are out there. Sure the law of averages rules the world and therefore not everything can be good but the volume of bad movies is incredible. I doubt people start out to make bad movies. I read a comic book series, one of the “Concrete” stories by Paul Chadwick, about the making of a movie and how everyone starts out with the intentions of making a good movie but then things just happen. A bad movie is a result. The story was based on some time Chadwick spent in the movie industry so I figure that is how a lot of bad movies get made. They can’t be made on purpose. Can they?

    The first bad movie I saw this week was Open Water 2. I saw Open Water just a couple of weeks ago and was ambivalent about it but it is a quantum leap ahead of this one. I know it’s just a sequel to cash in on the success of the first one and I expected it to be bad but it was so Hollywood predictably bad.

    Open Water 2 has a lot in common with Blair Witch Project 2. You may have liked Blair Witch or Open Water or you may not have but either way they were both small budget, outside the mainstream movies. They were different and quirky and not made by the big business movie machine. How do you make good sequels to such singular movies? I don’t know and neither did the film makers. They made crappy ones.

    Open Water was a “based on a true story” account of a couple left behind in the middle of the ocean after a scuba dive. To up the ante Open Water 2 is a “based on a true story” account of a group of people stranded in the ocean. They weren’t quite stranded; they jumped in the ocean without lowering the yacht’s ladder and couldn’t get back on the boat. Yes, there was an episode of “King of the Hill” with the same plot but our cartoon friends managed to get back on the boat in half an hour. Once again proving cartoons are smarter than people.

    What made the the first Open Water interesting was the film makers’ efforts to capture what a real couple might go through if stranded. Open Water 2 was more like what would happen if six (or was it five or seven, eh who can remember) bad movie characters were stuck in the ocean. Movie characters ain’t people that’s for sure. And did I mention there was a crying baby on board the boat? Nothing increases the tension like an infant in peril. Like they are really going to kill a baby in a movie.

    The rest of the movie was filled with our heroes doing really dumb things to put themselves in even more danger. They couldn’t just tread water they had to fight amongst themselves. The highlights included: two of the guys fighting over a knife and one of them accidently being stabbed. Another guy swimming down to recover something (I can’t even remember what) and then panicking and bashing his head on the boat’s propeller as he surfaced. I think there were some floatation devices accidently destroyed also. I watched the second half of the movie on fast forward so I’m unclear on all of the dumb things they did. But don’t worry the baby was saved.

    I guess it is inevitable that a big budget Hollywood movie would lose all of the outsider stuff that made a low budget film interesting but couldn’t they at least try? C’mon, a crying baby on board? Did they have to use the cheapest trick in the book?

    The second bad film is the Black Dahlia. Any similarity with the actual case is purely coincidental. This movie could have no association with that famous murder and be exactly the same. Except it’s easier to market a film about a famous case. There you go.

    I watched about the first third, payed little attention to the next third and was baffled by the ending. The movie is really about two cops and their careers plus a girlfriend. She’s the girlfriend of one of them or both of them it was hard to tell because boredom kept me from caring about their strange relationship.

    And the ending, ahhh… One of my favorite comedies is “Murder By Death”. A picture that spoofs all the great celluloid and pulp detectives. The ending of “Murder By Death” has each detective, having just survived a murder attempt, confront the would be killer and reveal the killer’s master plan. As each detective speaks the explanation gets more convoluted and wacky (including Peter Falk, as Sam Spade, being “In disguise, in disguise, in disguise” noting how many layers were in the plan). I think “The Black Dahlia” lifted this ending. Only they took it seriously.

    In the final scene first one person would enter the room and explain what happened and then another would and then another. I had long since stopped paying attention to the sleep inducing plot and all the different explanations of “what had really happened” only made for comedy. This movie begs for the MST3K treatment.

    It’s a wonder anyone goes to the movies. I certainly prefer to see them on TV so I can ignore them easier.

    Slooooowwww week at the comic shop for me. I got three comics tonight:

  • Planetary 26 (though who can tell because it doesn’t have a logo)
  • Jack the Lantern 1
  • True Story Swear to God Vol 2 Issue 1
  • Those last two I got because I couldn’t get just one comic. Jack the Lantern 1 is only $1.25 and has decent looking art and True Story came out last month but this was its week to be bought by me. I’m a sucker for true to life stories.