Friday, November 2, 2018

David Letterman > Stephen Colbert?

That is possibly the most provocative, click-baity title I've ever written.
But don't get me wrong - I love Stephen Colbert, and actually watch The Late Show religiously now, which I didn't while good ol' Dave was in charge.
But I've got to say that Dave may have Stephen covered when it comes to musical guests. I've been checking out some of them and...well...I think I'll just let the music videos speak for themselves. 
(Except to say that I think that, in many of these, the live versions are better than the originals!)
(Aaaand that you could do a lot worse than have these as a permanent playlist...)

1. Foo Fighters - Everlong
Apart from being a great song by a great band, Dave reckons this is his FAVOURITE song by his FAVOURITE band!

2. Jimmy Eat World - Bleed American
This is the song that got me started on this quest - it's amazing.

3. Beastie Boys - Sabotage
My favourite Beastie Boys song! The official music clip (directed by Spike Jonze) is one of my favourite clips of all time, too, but seeing them play this live is just mind-blowing (I actually did see them play this live at Summersault in 1995...but this is better!)

4. Beastie Boys - Ch-Check it Out
Speaking of the Beastie Boys, forget about best Late Show performances, this has got to be one of the best Broadway performances ever!

5. Weezer - Say It Ain't So
And speaking of favourites, this is my favourite Weezer song - and they look so young and cute!

6. TV on the Radio - Wolf Like Me

7. At the Drive In - One-Armed Scissor
It's at this point that I wonder whether Dave is trolling his audience (in a good way...)

8. Red Fang - Blood like Cream
Maybe not as good as the Fred Armisen-starring, zombie-apocalypse with beer-drinking  official clip (The Drinking Dead?), but still, this shows that Dave clearly didn't mind a bit of metal, stoner- or otherwise...

9. Screaming Trees - Nearly Lost You
I'm including this for two reasons: (a) Seattle Repre-ZENT (apart from the aforementioned Dave Grohl contingent), and (b) Mark Lanegan's voice. band used to play this song and I kind of love it...

10. Foo Fighters - Everlong
Yeah, I know I've already got them above, but, as I said, favourite band, favourite song, and Dave got them back on his last ever show. Love it.

Dishonourable (later Honourable) Mention - Bill Hicks
Famously, Dave refused to allow this stand-up bit by the infamous Bill Hicks to air at the time of filming, but, to his credit, he recanted and broadcasted it after Bill's very untimely death, when he had Bill's Mum on the show. Hats off, Dave.  

Plus one more: Eagles of Death Metal played out on Broadway in front of the Ed Sullivan Theater, which is cool and weird and interesting, but I'm including the official clip, because it's amazingly super-awesome.

But of course, given the title of this post, it's not fair if I don't at least give Stephen a fair hearing music-guest-wise. In fact, I'll allow him the right of rebuttal right here, with the insanely fantastic Babymetal:

I rest my case(s).

Friday, June 8, 2018

To Indiana Jones #5 ... and Beyond!

So Indiana Jones #5 is definitely a thing, and it looks like the immortal Harrison Ford will again be reprising his iconic role. 
The tease of Mutt Williams (played by actual cannibal, Shia LaBeouf) possibly taking over from his Dad in some kind of reboot looks to have been put on an indefinite backburner. But the idea of rebooting Indy won't go away, especially as the immortal Harrison Ford gets less and less immortal and more and more crotchety. There's even talk of the busiest man in Hollywood - Chris Pratt - taking over.
But should Indiana Jones be rebooted?
Scott Mendelson at Forbes recently noted that the recent Box Office Bombing of the movie Solo is bad news for any idea of a rebooted Indiana Jones - it indicates that people don't just like the character (of Han Solo in that case) - they like Harrison Ford playing him, too.
But how to keep the Indiana Jones Universe going without Harrison Ford?
Well - picture this: A movie that starts with an exotic location of some kind - say, Ayers Rock/Uluru in central Australia (gotta repre-ZENT!!!) 
There's a tall, lean, be-hatted man sifting through some rubble on the ground, his head down, face covered by a classic brown fedora. The man's hands are clearly darkened, probably by prolonged exposure to the outdoors. They're strong and smooth, though, not wrinkled and wrong like those of a 75-year old man (no offence to any septuagenarian readers).  He pauses, then looks up, a broad grin on his Asian face!
It's grown-up Short Round! 

THIS is the direction the Indiana franchise should take! And the beauty is, Harrison Ford can still be Indy (an older, close-to-retirement Indy), but a younger Asian actor can literally pick up the hat and keep the adventures coming!
As it turns out - according to canon, Shorty did become an archaeologist, and kept in touch with Indy, too.  The picture below is from my own copy of the "Lost Journal of Indiana Jones", with a letter from Shorty to Indy in 1957 (in the top-left corner), about his hunt for the 'Peacock's Eye' (the diamond from the start of Temple of Doom, which was also seen in the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles):

Importantly, for the new movie, not only will Shorty be an archaeologist, but he's a kick-ass martial artist, too!
And I've got an idea for the treasure to be found: Genghis Khan's Tomb! This is a literal mystery (people are still searching for it today) and, since Genghis Khan controlled the "largest contiguous land empire in history", it's probably got some pretty sweet bling. And traps, of course. Lots and lots of traps.
Since Mongolia was then in the USSR (assuming the movie is set some time in the 1950s or 1960s), this could involve some more Soviet shenanigans. Plus China was going through its own dramas, which could make for some interesting stories. Of course, that may need to be handled, shall we say, 'sensitively', since China is now the biggest movie market in the world, and having an Indiana Jones spin-off with a Chinese lead could make Lots of the Moneys if China is on board with it!
(So the Tibetan Uprising of 1959 would probably be off-limits, but the "wars" between China and India (in 1962) and the Soviet Union (in 1969) could play into it? Or even China's first detonation of a nuclear weapon in 1964?)
Of course, a movie about an Asian Indy-style archaeologist looking for Asian treasures while jumping and/or kicking people through windows Jackie-Chan style writes itself, so the most important question then becomes: who would play the lead*?
As a starting point, he could possibly be played by original Short Round - Jonathan Ke Quan (previous name Ke Huy Quan), who was also in probable Oscar-contenders The Goonies and Encino Man - however, he apparently hasn't acted since 2002.
I actually thought Jet Li would be perfect, until I discovered he's 55 (!!!).
Then I found this guy: Wu Jing. Yeah, I totally found him, not the millions of Chinese people who have already seen his movies. Star of Box Office smash** Wolf Warrior II, which has been described as being "like 'Fast and the Furious', with a tank!"

There's your grown-up Short Round right there! He's only 44 (only a few years older than Harrison Ford in Raiders), with a ready market for him in China, and a ready market everywhere else for an Indiana Jones spin-off! 
I even think he looks more like a grown-up Jonathan Ke Quan that Jonathan Ke Quan does!
Check 'em out:

Is this Jonathan Ke Quan?
Or is it this guy?
(hint, it's this guy: the one who looks less like Short Round)

The future of the Indiana Jones franchise saved! 
Please send royalties and kudos to rilestar. And seriously, you've got to watch this (skip to 02:50 to see the Actual Cannibal himself)!:

Apparently there was an April Fool's joke earlier this year that Steven Spielberg had cast Ken Jeong as a grown-up Short Round for Indiana Jones 5. Yeah...but nah...
** Wolf Warrior II made $870 million at the box office ... although $854 million of that was in China...

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

To Infinity War ... and Beyond!!!

So I saw Avengers: Infinity War the week it came out and, of course, I loved it. Had a great big smile on my face the whole time, as all of these heroes and villains that have been built up by the MCU over the past ten years all came together. It was funny, action-packed and, ultimately, tragic. And the villain, Thanos, had an understandable, if horrific, motivation* (and it's really Thanos' movie, which was an interesting twist). 
Consequently, I was a little concerned when I then saw an article entitled "The rot has set in for superhero movies" by Charles Purcell. What did he know that I didn't about my beloved MCU?!? 
However, on reading the article, it became obvious that the heading was just hyperbolic clickbait since, as evidence, he cited the following: 
"The signs of the rot can be seen in Avengers: Infinity War, which despite boasting the biggest box-office opening of all time has been savaged by the critics. The Sydney Morning Herald correctly claimed it had “the emotional depth of a puddle”. **  
Even James Cameron, the man behind testosterone fests The Terminator and Aliens, has come out against the wave of superhero sagas. 
“It’s just, come on guys, there are other stories to tell besides hypergonadal males without families doing death-defying things for two hours and wrecking cities in the process,” he said." 
It was therefore more likely that he simply didn't like the movie, similar to the reviewer from the New Yorker who just didn't get it, with apparently one of that reviewer's "biggest grievances being that it relied too much on the groundwork set in the movies that came before it": 
"Avengers: Infinity War would make little sense in the absence of its pack of predecessors. Its characters aren’t introduced; they just show up, and their behavior is entirely defined by the template set for them in other movies. Not only does Avengers: Infinity War presume that viewers have seen all the preceding films in the Marvel series but, worse, it presumes that they’ve thought about them afterward." 
Incidentally, that reviewer was roasted on the internet, with one cheeky wag saying: 
But getting back to Mr Purcell, maybe he just didn't like superhero movies generally, and had been predicting their demise for years now, as one of the commenters on his article (Timothy O'Toole) pointed out. This was one of only two comments that appeared to disagree with Mr Purcell, with the other commenters being moderately, to effusively, agreeable (including one who went all the way, saying he "Couldn't agree more")! 
So I had to redress the balance!
I submitted a comment, but it wasn't approved. So I submitted it again. And then again. After around seven times, I remembered that Mr Purcell didn't like confronting reality, so thought I would just publish it here!: 
"Couldn't disagree more! 
But surely Mr Purcell is using sarcasm in claiming that there are signs of "rot" in a super-fun movie making all the moneys and being watched by heaps of the peoples, and especially in claiming that the same movie has been "savaged by the critics" when it has an 84% rating from critics on ROT-ten Tomatoes (see what he and I did there?), not to mention the 92% rating from audiences! 
I refuse to believe that he's being sincere and only selectively reading the very few reviews that agree with this hilarious premise. 
Also, claiming vindication from comments by James Cameron, who made the most boring movie of all time (Titanic) and the most tedious movie of all time (Avatar) is clearly trolling of the highest order! Well-played, sir! 
Ant-Man and The Wasp is definitely going to get a boost from this amazing movie in a few months’ time, not to mention the must-watch Captain Marvel and Avengers 4 movies next year. I look forward to Mr Purcell's articles when those movies also go gang-busters...I mean...when they tank due to all this rot (wink, wink)! 
But in the meantime - bring on Deadpool 2! What a time to be alive!!" 
On second thoughts, that comment is pure gold. There's no way Mr Purcell would have deliberately refused to publish my comment - he's missing out! I'll let him know that he can read it here - gotta spread that superhero love! 

* Thanos' motivation actually reminded me a lot of Ra's al Ghul from the DC Universe. But not one other thing reminded me of their most-recent superhero mash-up movie...that we won't speak of... 
** Ironically, every one of the four comments on that linked article disagreed with, or plain didn't like, that review! That guy knows how to approve a comment!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Out of the (Last Jedi) Closet

I need to admit something to y'all. Something that's truly a part of me, but which some may not be able to accept. But I have to do it anyway, especially since today is Star Wars Day.
I loved The Last Jedi.
I realise this is a shameful thing to say about a movie that made $1.3 billion globally, but I've decided to be brave. Maybe I can set an example for other outsiders just like me. 

Since it’s a legislative requirement or something, I of course need to start by saying that I’ve been a Star Wars fan since I was a kid – which is actually true, though.  I was 4 when my Dad took me see Star Wars … I mean … "A New Hope" (my 3-year old brother couldn’t come because my parents thought he’d be scared of Chewbacca). By the time I was around 10 or 11 I’d seen it about 20 times. I was a nut. After Return of the Jedi came out, my friends and I bought the soundtrack album and worked out the lyrics to "Lapti-nek".  
Since then, I’ve seen all of them at the cinema. Hell, I even saw Caravan of Courage at the Waverley Gardens cinema!
So I love Star Wars. I love the fact there are new Star Wars movies. I recall even being OK with Phantom Menace when it first came out, simply because it was NEW Star Wars (I am not prepared to write an apology blog about that, just yet...)
Oddly enough, though, I didn't 'love' The Force Awakens. It was OK, and again, I was glad there was a new Star Wars movie. But it wasn't really new enough to get too excited about (even though I liked the new characters and, of course, the fact that Han and Chewie were back). And I really didn't like the fact that, despite the ending of Return of Jedi, it looked like the Rebellion ... I mean ... "the Resistance" ... was again on the defensive, fighting a guerrilla war against the Empire again again. 
I mean, against the "First Order".
More like: The "Worst Order", AMIRITE?!?! 
* Hand left hanging in mid-air, slowly lowers arm...*
This guy was really annoyed about the same-osity of it, and I thought this meme kinda nailed it:

My 11-year old (at the time) son was also quite annoyed about it, and I had to explain to him that The Force Awakens was probably just as much of a reboot as a sequel, and so was deliberately hitting a lot of the same plot and character beats as the original Star Wars, but for a new generation. I also told him to wait and see what Episode 8 was like – if it just repeated Empire, then we could have serious problems, but hopefully it would go in its own direction.
And that it did!
The Last Jedi is the first truly new Star Wars movie we've had since Revenge of the Sith. Even Rogue One (which I also loved) dealt with issues, and even featured characters, that we'd seen before (e.g., Tarkin, Leia, Vader, Death Star ... err ... spoiler alert ...).
But Last Jedi took us somewhere new. Sure, it also touched on some themes from Empire, such as a Jedi Master training a new student, but it had some genuine surprises, too. Kevin Smith on his Fatman on Batman review called some of them "F*ck you, JJ" moments (i.e., where Rian Johnson appeared to zig where everyone expected him to zag, post-Force Awakens)!
And so I thought it was REALLY great. A really nice surprise.
And I was then surprised even further when I found out that a lot of people hated it! A particularly irate fan even started a petition asking Disney to remove it from canon (although, admittedly, he now regrets it)! 
Others claimed to be vindicated in their complaints by the Box Office drop from Force Awakens to Last Jedi, although Scott Mendelson at Forbes confirmed that the drop in ticket sales is actually in line with the drops with all previous second Star Wars instalments (and considering Force Awakens went so high, in a way it's a miracle that The Last Jedi didn't fall more).
Apparently, it was the Nerdist who summed these reactions up thusly:

"To help JJ plan the next film here's the perfect formula: 
Make it the same as the original trilogy, but also make it different. But don't change anything. Make sure to include surprises, but not surprises we don't want. In fact avoid surprises.
But don't rehash anything. Also don't try something new, because we won't like it.
Make sure to do justice to the cast, but we won't say how. Just make sure to get it right.
I want it to be exactly the way I want it. Just a bit different. And also the same.
Make sure we know the back story to all the characters even the incidental ones (because we are all speculating and you better be reading my mind) but leave it mysterious at the same time.
No CGI! Keep it practical. But make sure to expand the universe like the prequels did, you know, using CGI. 
Also don't do anything the prequels did. Or Force Awakens. Or the original trilogy. But make it like those films too. 
Give it some humour too. But don't make it too funny. Show us some new force powers! But not ones we havent seen before because new powers are ridiculous. 
Dont kill anyone! It betrays my childhood. But also make it unpredictable by killing off a few characters."
Den of Geek also had a good, less tongue-in-cheek synopsis of the main complaints, along with very good rebuttals for all of them
Without getting too spoiler-y, I'm also fine with such things as the Snoke development, Leia's under-pressure use of the Force, the whole Luke arc, the Rey's parents-reveal, the innovative use of a hyperdrive, Porgs...all of it!

So I'd like to finish on that positive note. The State of the Star Wars is Strong. All o' you nerds should chill out (that's right - I'm taking on the Hard Targets: NERDS!) 
The fact we've got new Star Wars is amazing - be happy like an uncooked Porg! 
And may the 4th be with you!