Was Doctor Strange As “Trippy” As They Claim?

Was Doctor Strange As “Trippy” As They Claim?

The sun took its sweet time sinking into the horizon that summer day. July was coming to an end, but still the days seemed longer. Maybe they seemed that way because of my particular position on the globe at the time; the parabola of the Northeast region made it feel like the Earth was grabbing on to as much sunlight as it could, as if it was storing it up for the long, cold winters. Maybe they seemed that way because I might be looking back on my twenties with a fondness for my more rebellious and carefree days. The poetry in the long goodbye note of a late summer sunset is written in the color of black raspberry ice cream and pink lemonade. It’s close to dusk, and my toes grab wet sand as a guy we just met walks out into the waist deep surf to take a piss while holding on to a case of cheap beer. There was something surreal, beautiful and strangely silly about this scene, and we all pick up on it right away. My friends and I look at each other and grin like mad. Maybe they seemed that way because we knew that this moment would never come our way ever again.

Maybe they seemed that way because we realized that the blotter acid we just bought in the parking lot outside of a Jerry Garcia concert was the real deal as it dug its claws into our cerebellum. We knew we’d be up for a while.

The last rays of sunshine flickered into nothing. I meander back to the parking lot. I have lost track of my friends a while ago. I knew it was going to be an interesting night as I looked up to see the stars dance and warp as Rob Wasserman plucked the melody to The Rolling Stones “Satisfaction” on one of his many upright bass solos. The details of the rest of the night were murky. There was no sleep involved that night, however I do remember taking a much needed shower in the morning. Afterwards, I dried off, collapsed on the couch, and did my best to relax. But it was difficult because the cat kept trying to force her head into my mouth.

What I’m trying to say is, in terms of a Jimi Hendrix litmus test, I am experienced.

I have seen horizons and landscapes that shouldn’t exist. I’ve felt immeasurable joy, paralyzing fear, and pants-shitting danger. I have been places. They’re nice to visit, but you wouldn’t want to raise a family there (stay in school, kids!). I lived and breathed “trippy” for a brief moment in time.  I know what “trippy” means.

It is nothing like what they’re trying to sell you with the new Doctor Strange movie.

Now, before you think I’m hating, let me explain…

Comic books, historically, have never been taken seriously. I know, try telling that to a serious collector, and he might throw his bowl of Kraft Dinner at me. But from Golden Age to the Silver (translated: from the early 1930s to the late 1960s) pulp comics in general, Marvel in particular, have always fought tooth and nail to keep and expand its fan base. Which, in and of itself, is challenging. If it wasn’t the period where pulp comics were considered the folly, and ultimately the downfall of America’s children, then it was the Comics Code Authority making life miserable for everyone. If it wasn’t them, then it was the long process of trying to get back the disaffected youth that they were trying to get to read to begin with. If it wasn’t that, then it was trying to stay ahead of the curve and avoid being out of touch, to be reminded that you need to constantly evolve. If it wasn’t that, then it would be the endless one-upmanship with their closest competitor.

DC had been the standard bearer for what the modern heroes would be; square-jawed, two dimensional dudes in flashy costumes, swooping in to thwart a burglary in progress while simultaneously saving the equally two dimensional, anatomically impossible female from danger, and trying not to look gay while doing it.

meanwhile

Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, and Stan Lee where busy wrangling their own creative bullpen over at Marvel. Most of the time it was hit and miss.

By the early 60s, the perfect storm of censorship and uninspired story lines nearly brought an end to the brand.

That all changed when Stan introduced”The Fantastic Four”.

On the surface, just another superhero comic. But dig a little deeper, you found four individuals with different abilities who argue and spat just like an actual family would. Just like people who knew each other would. Just like people.

Flawed characters were the thing that would save Marvel during the dark times of the early 70s. But at this time, they were still fighting to keep their head above water. One of the many offshoots of Marvel was an anthology series that went by the moniker, Strange Tales. The pages were mostly about monsters and ghouls and gore and blood and guts and zombies and vampires. It was presented as an alternative to superhero drama, but it wasn’t completely devoid of familiar characters. Cloak and Dagger first appeared there. The previously mentioned Fantastic Four found their origins there. Nick Fury and his agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. were first kicking Hydra’s ass in a few issues. And, a mystical character who was inspired by a radio era serial rounded out the entourage.

That character was called Doctor Strange.

Without giving too much away that you probably already know, Stephen Strange is a brain surgeon who travels to the Far East to be healed after his hands had become damaged in a car accident.  You know the rest.

The movie is a total blast to watch. But that’s not what concerns me. What concerns me is the advertising campaign billing this film as “psychedelic” or “trippy”.

There is a sequence in the film that may constitute a decent head trip, but that’s not the point. The point is that this character was made before the Psychedelic Era, although it has been noted that it might have had a hand at predicting it. Steve Ditko’s motivation when drawing for the Sorcerer Supreme wasn’t to recall the night when he baked magic mushrooms on his pizza. It was more about how would somebody draw something mystical; an idea that hasn’t been explored very much. Especially in comics. If someone came up to you and said, “Draw black magic”, how would you do that? Steve employed purples and reds, darker colors and free form shapes. He employed the use of Abstract Art, something else that hasn’t been tried before in comics. To bill this film as “trippy” does a great disservice to the essence of what was originally achieved.

Shorter: The film is nowhere near as hallucinogenic is one might think. It is abstract. Or more to the point, it is abstract as much as a mainstream movie could be. It is a family friendly Disney property, after all. Trippy is “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “Jacob’s Ladder” or “The Science of Sleep”. Any of these films do a much better job at portraying an interpretation of hallucinating. The effects of the movie seem to lean more towards playing with geometric shapes than anything else; brick patterns, mosaic tiles, window panes. Anything that has a unifying structure is manipulated in such a way that no longer follows an actual design. If it were trippy, the bricks would come alive and shape-shift into something else before changing back into its original form. This is was just fun with shapes. To be honest, it was fun, really fun to look at, but it’s hardly mind-bending.

Other than that, the only real complaint I have about this movie is that it moves almost too fast. I suppose that might be a good thing. Calling attention to every single dollar that you throw into a scene is considered gauche, and the MCU have been quite adept at not doing that. But still, enjoying a moment for a second or two longer wouldn’t damage the narrative. I took a YouTube refresher course on the backstory of the good doctor. It turns out that it wasn’t completely necessary, although it wouldn’t kill ya to do your research.

Personal gripes aside, the movie is a blast. It is so much fun packed into an hour and fifty-five minutes (it could have run longer, and it would have been fine). This movie is a perfect example of a comic book adaptation done right. It is a perfectly stitched together collage of right choices. The writing was snappy and alive. The casting choices were perfect (let’s leave the whole “whitewashing” controversy alone for another time, shall we?) And the soundtrack. The effing SOUNDTRACK! A perfect homage to the time from whence this came from; a full orchestra combined with harpsichord, sitar and a fuzzy guitar shoved through a Tube Screamer (go ask a guitarist) was just delicious to listen to. Still, the theme, if there was one, was as forgettable as the other Marvel franchises. It’s been a complaint amongst music and movie nerds. But at least this time, they put a little more effort into it.

Go.
Go see this movie.
Go see this movie with an open mind, and if you can afford it and have the ways and means, see this in an IMAX theater.

Bottom line, Doctor Strange is not “trippy”

…It’s…strange…in a good way.

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Top 10: And The Award For the Best Line Goes To…

Top 10: And The Award For the Best Line Goes To…

Days ago, I felt it necessary to branch out and construct, maintain and post a niche blog in order to build a portfolio to make myself attractive for freelancing gigs…and the carrot and the horse and the carrot and the carrot and the carrot¹….

So, one of my goals for my new blog is to maintain a news feed in regards to my niche. In my need to do so, I started looking around for news sources where I could draw information from, and in doing so, discovered Quora. It was a recommended site for bloggers who needed topics and inspiration. It’s a social site, so all you would do to engage with others is sign up, plug in your interests, and you’re off and running. If you’re a blogger, I highly recommend signing up with them. It’s free, and even though I didn’t know what to expect when I signed up, I’m pleased with what I’ve found so far.

As I was pouring over the subjects, I came across this topic, which off course set me off on a two day adventure of my own to make my own list while cutting my teeth on Photoshop skills…and perhaps…gathering ideas for t-shirts…so, its all good.

The topic is:


If there was an Oscar award for “Best Lines in a Movie,” then which lines would have been nominated till now?


At first, I couldn’t think of many, let alone one. I used to be all about the movies. For the longest time, it was my drug of choice; memorizing lines, repeated viewings when there was nothing on, holding my own personal marathons, going to independent movie houses to see something other than what Hollywood has to offer.

Now, not so much.

I actually had to think about this question for a second, whereas before, I could rattle off 20 in one breath...in character! I could have gone to my library and pulled out my greatest hits of all the movies that were integral to my generation, but I’m bored with that whole scene now. “Blahblalblah PulpFiction blahblahblah Clerks… wow, I’m so obscure!

Instead, I chose to look at this as objectively as I could. If I were to compile a list of really great lines from movies from the dawn of the Talkies to now, what would be on it? Well, my list would probably more or less coincide with AFI’s list. Impressive as it is, there are one or two that aren’t on there. I thought more of the lines that made more of an impression; The lines that I’ve committed to memory. The lines that would serve as a wolf’s song². The lines that were delivered so perfectly, that I could sit around all day and analyze them. The lines that have woven themselves into my life…you know…those lines…here’s what I mean… My Top 10 List of Academy Worthy Lines… as compiled by me.

#10 The Princess Bride: As you wish…

*le sigh*

Here is a movie that was released at a time when we all needed a new classic, and weren’t really expecting one. This film is all about the memorable lines and moments. Speaking of finding my tribe, I remember sitting at a table with friends while we all recited the entire movie verbatim. Even today, if someone were to randomly post in some random social media forum the line,”Have fun storming the castle!” the responses would be swift, immediate and more than likely, last for days. (Trust me on this one, try it out.) If you’re a fan, you’ll find your tribe real quick.

I could have gone with any number of lines from this film, but this one is the most memorable. This made my list because this most memorable line didn’t even crack AFI’s top 100. Shame on you, American Film Institute. Shame.

//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/O6qpa-mRLnI

#9 The Usual Suspects: How do you shoot the devil in the back…?

The first time I saw this movie, it was on video tape. I remember watching this to the end of the credits, hitting the rewind button, watching it again, and repeating the process until the sun came up the next day. What a delicious little gem of a film this was; a gritty and gleeful throwback to the Film Noir era, spiked with enough F-bombs to make Raymond Chandler blush. Skillfully crafted and extremely well written. I tried to not foreshadow too much while constructing this poster…for the…one or two of you who haven’t seen this yet, so I’ll try not to give any spoilers. I chose this line because of the lyricism of it; there’s fear behind it. Palpable horror delivered with legitimate concern. What would happen if you were faced with the same situation, and would you be prepared to face the consequences if and when it all goes wrong?

//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/3vxm9n5HLwY

#8 Blade Runner: The light that burns twice as bright…

I tend to collect lines from movies. Some guys memorize baseball stats. This is what I do. I chose this one as an homage to friends long gone. I picked this one up a long time ago when late night beer and movie binges were the norm. A friend of mine kept repeating this at random times until the context of it began to sink in. Again, it’s very lyrical, and it’s a subtle reminder of how futile and fragile we all are.

//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/wRxHYHPzs7s
#7 Annie Hall: La-dee-da, La-dee-da

Once upon a time, there was this girl. This girl found it in her heart to date me. This girl loved Woody Allen movies. I think the only Woody Allen movie I’ve seen up until that point was “Zelig” so, I offered to set a date for a stack of movies, a couch and a coffee table full of take out food. One night she took me up on it and we started with “Play It Again, Sam” and I think we ended with “Manhattan”. “Annie Hall” wasn’t a favorite, but I did like it a lot, and I promised to call it in the morning. #55 on AFI’s list, this line made it into my top ten, simply because my slightly neurotic side has always had a crush on Diane Keaton. Although I could be wrong, and I’m open to discourse on this subject, but I don’t think there has been a performer before her who has captured that wonderful mix of trying not to be shy and awkward while being shy and awkward, served with a healthy dose of self-deprecation dolloped on top, a side of ambivalence…and a Diet Coke. This one line spoke volumes about the human condition at the time, and has seldom been matched since. Incredibly charming.

//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/DT2WWYZcjmA
#6 Silence of the Lambs: You know what you look like…?

Yes, I could have gone with the infamous “Fava Bean” line that immediately followed this on in the movie (#21 on the list), but it’s been done to death (pardon the pun). The fate of some poor census taker was a nice flourish to the end of a heavier monologue that has pretty much gone unnoticed. Unfortunate, because this part of the dialogue is fantastic.

Some guys collect sports memorabilia. I collect movie lines. It’s a habit I started a long time ago, and it has since been my niche of geekdom. I hear a line, sometimes the longer the better, I commit it to memory, and I make it mine. It’s what I did. It came in handy when I had to perform Shakespeare. I memorized this speech, only recently. For my own amusement. This one made the list because I like it. I like it because of the delicious creep factor. I love the subtle enjoyment in his voice as he unblinkingly peels Agent Starling like an onion. It’s the speech that cements Hannibal Lecter firmly in the pantheon of cinematic villains. The movie is awesome. Anthony Hopkins is fantastic. It’s Halloween. Pick a reason.
//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/99Ptctl5_qQ
#5 Taxi Driver: You talkin’ to me?

I mean, honestly… How could I make a list of movie lines and not have this on here? That’s just plain ridiculous, and in some circles, downright blasphemous.

#10 on AFI’s list, I’m truly surprised that it hasn’t edged closer to the top. But I understand, going up against such lines as “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid,” and, “May the Force be with you.” Stiff competition indeed, but DeNiro’s line from Taxi Driver has found it’s way further into the modern day vernacular more often than any other pop culture reference that came before or since. It has made my list not only for it’s recognizability, but this scene is “Film Geek 101”. Scorsese’s patented pan shot, a young and hungry DeNiro going for it in every scene he’s in blahblahblah roll the clip!

//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/lQkpes3dgzg
#4 Casablanca: I am shocked…

A whopping six times Casablanca has made an appearance on AFI’s list, none of which are this scene. There is nothing about this scene that doesn’t fall flat. To this day, over 70 years later, this scene still holds up. It’s still fresh. It still pops. It’s timeless. The timing of the lines, the pathos, the blocking (I love the look Rick gives to his dealer in the background while Louis trots off after gathering his winnings). It made my list because it’s timeless.

//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/SjbPi00k_ME
#3 Chinatown: Forget it Jake…

That moment when you’ve slammed your head against a wall because there is nothing else you can do to control a situation. That moment when you think you’ve figured it out, and then realizing that you haven’t even come close. That moment when your moment in being the knight in shining armor is taken away because there would be no way that would happen.

You know what I’m talking about, right? You’re in over your head. You need to get out now because the next words out of your mouth, or the wrong move in the wrong direction will get you in deeper, possibly fatal trouble. Walk away. Walk away and forget it, Jake…

This made my list because I’ve been here more than once…

//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/7uSz0mEtEsQ



#2 A Streetcar Named Desire: Stella!

This made my list for the same reasons DeNiro in Taxi Driver made the list. I believe it is written somewhere that if someone is going to compile a list of memorable movie quotes, the omission of Brando in Streetcar is punishable of up to 30 days in jail and a $2000 fine.

Holy crap, the feels behind this line. The way he squeezes every last ounce of air in his lungs? This is what anguish sounds like. This didn’t just make the list because it was more than obvious, it made the list precisely because this one word started a movement in the modern drama, and how it should be performed. A name shouted at the top of his lungs heralded in the new rein of “Method” actors, and the new face of Hollywood, and disappearance of fast-talking, high-trousered actors of the old guard.

//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/S1A0p0F_iH8
And last, but not least… and certainly nothing to do with recent events…

#1 To Have and Have Not: You know how to whistle, don’t you Steve?

Oh…

My…

Goodness…

The look on Bogey’s face afterwards says it all. We still feel it to this day. It packs a punch so hard that even the manliest man in the room has to say…

Lauren Bacall was a screaming hotty. She was the Mayor McHotty of Hottyville. They carved her likeness on the side of Mount Hotty. Archeologists in future will know her as The Once and Future Hotty and will dedicate a wing in the Hotty wing of the Smithsonian. Hotty.

…She will be missed.

//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/u7yUO3q8QfE
In the course of making this list, about five other lines popped into my head. Keep in mind that this list reflects how I feel at the moment, and will probably change next week.

Maybe you all can help me out. What lines do you consider Oscar Worthy?

¹ Borrowed from Spaulding Gray’s, “Swimming to Cambodia”

² Meaning, if you were to blurt out a line from a movie in mixed company, say a party where you’re the stranger in town, and two or three people smiled and perhaps laughed a little while the rest of them roll their eyes, you tend to hang out with the people who smiled, because you have found your tribe…your pack.

Motivation Monday: Halloween Edition

Maybe it’s the time of the year.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t posted anything in over a week and I needed to stretch out and do something before I lose more followers.

Maybe it’s because I re-opened my t-shirt shop with a couple of new designs, and one of them was a design that I’ve been preparing for a couple of months, but it wasn’t completely finished until I found a technique that woke it up a little bit and I’m probably going to reapply this technique on future designs.

Like it? Buy it here.

Maybe it’s because I could stop saying to myself, “It’s only a matter of time before they reboot this” when I recently heard the news that they are finally remaking The Crow. My only hope is that they will be closer to the source material this time. Nothing against the movie, I had the movie adaptation on video. Watched it so much that the tape broke.

Maybe it’s all these things that prompted me to make today’s post, but since it the season for all things horrifying (Ebola hysteria notwithstanding), I thought this quote was particularly motivational.

“The Crow” was an independent comic produced in the late 80s. It’s a dark series involving darker characters and even darker story line that was inspired by truly unfortunate and even darker, real events. I’ll spare any spoilers for the one or two of you who haven’t read it yet. I will say that the antagonist of the story isn’t the most virtuous of souls. He is, however, one of the most tortured. Vengeance does that to a guy…especially for a guy that just came back from the dead to kill the people that killed him and his fiancé…

Anyway, today’s motivation quote appears at the end of the book, as the hero returns to the afterlife reunited with his beloved. This quote has always stuck with me. First, in a paint-my-fingernails-black-and-listen-to-The-Cure-while-I-lock-myself-in-my-room kind of way. But later, especially in these days of striking out on my own, I’ve reinterpreted it as a way of saying, “it ain’t over, till it’s over”.

Nothing is over until you say it is. Nothing. Not your life, your love, your wisdom, your empathy. Nothing. Yes they may come with bullets and crude weapons, they may come with a “cease and desist”, they may come and liquidate your entire department while promising you that if another position opens up, you’ll be the first in line and then 8 months later, advertise for that position in the want ads and “forget” to CALL YOU AND OFFER IT TO SOMEONE ELSE. ARE YA HAPPY, YA BASTARDS?!!!

….sorry….

While you still draw breath, you still have a chance. Poker players refer to this as “a chip and a chair“; so long as you have those two things, you still have a shot at the jackpot. It ain’t over till it’s over. Don’t give up. You still have a shot and so long as you are still walking and talking, you have a chance. You’re not dead yet.

It’s only death if you accept it…

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Upon Losing a Force of Nature (Don’t Be Afraid)

The heat from the day, such as it was in southern Maine in late September, lifted away as the ocean breeze lurched in and took over. It was 1991. My twenty-first year on this planet. I could have spent that entire year blitzed out of my head on cheap keg beer because that’s what you did when you finally reached the legal drinking age in Maine; you stayed drunk. You stayed drunk from the end of summer to the beginning of the following spring. You stayed drunk because the ghosts loved to play amongst the trees, in the floorboards, in the attic, in your head, and you needed something to quiet the voices, to quiet their shrieks, to quiet the fear. Darkness came to stay for a few months like some unwanted house guest, and the only way to deal with it was to swallow your poison of choice until you could no longer recognize them.

Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. It’s extremely unfair of me to allude that Maine is inhabited entirely by raging alcoholics. Everybody knows that it’s only partially inhabited. The rest is made up of self righteous vegatarians (xoxo, Maine. Miss you..)

It’s also unfair of me to allude to act of imbibing as the only way to stave off demons, or the boogey man, or the impending darkness that will swallow the world for the entire winter. But make no mistake, when that darkness does come, it will test your soul, and the best thing to do is to keep yourself occupied.

Some read books.
Some stock up on winter fuel.
Some get in at least one more round of golf.
Some get a head start on Holiday plans.
And yes, some drink. Some more than others…

Me? I found my own way to cope. It was good friends, good company and wholesome activities like going to the movies. All of these things were noted, remarked and reflected upon as we passed yet another spliff around the three of us as we loitered in a beat up Volvo waiting for a show to start.

“What do you want to see tonight?” We hadn’t planned on anything. Some nights, you go just to go. Some nights, you get lucky and you’re treated to a really good film. Other nights you get really lucky and stumble into a film is so bad that you get kicked out for laughing just a wee bit too hard and it really doesn’t matter because you’re stoned.

The question still hung in the air, lingering with the smoke. What were we going to see? No amount of pretending to look at your watch was going to change the fact that we all really wanted to see one movie: The Fisher King. I think what tipped us to that direction was that the three of us saw “Good Morning, Vietnam” when it came out on video and us remembering that we had a pretty good time watching it so, anything with Robin Williams in it was going to trump everything else. Especially if the only other choice that was showing at that hour was “Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man”.

“Okay then. That’s answers that.” One of us said as another one of us carefully put out the joint and stashed it for later. “And look at that, we’re right on time.”

All three of us de-vehicled…de-vehicled?…de-carred?… All three of us de-Volvoed, walking that walk that shows everybody that we are not under the influence of anything at anytime. The fact that we were weaving and bumping into each other had nothing to do with anything. We just had to make sure that our money was easily accessible, and our words were well rehearsed so as not to confuse and offend the ticket taker.

The guys I went with were both big guys. Which isn’t saying much. I’m Hobbit-sized, so everyone is taller than me. But these guys were manly men. Geeky to the core, but manly men. Which is why I scrunched up my face when I saw these two manly men turn to absolute mush when this scene came around…

Follow this link to view the clip…

“What?” said one of the guys with tear-stained cheeks. “don’t laugh, man,” he added with a fist hitting my arm for emphasis. These guys were absolute wrecks, and I must admit, so was I.

To this day, this scene still kills, still has me reaching for a tissue box. To this day, the movie remains in my top ten most favorite films. To this day, this movie is one of a small and exclusive club films that divided the viewing audience; you either got it, or you didn’t. From what I observed the one’s who didn’t get it were extremely practical people, the kinds that were good with numbers, but the one’s who did were all poets, performers, artists, authors, the one’s who couldn’t balance a checkbook to save their life. I found my tribe with the latter.

I, like so many others, grew up in a world where the unstoppable genius of Robin Williams would never stop. He would always be there and we would always be regaled with his spirit, his mind and his humor. He would always be there to deliver a good night speech such that would make grown men crumble. And of course, he would always be there to bring down the house at the drop of a hat…

Yesterday, this force of nature finally left this world. Way before his time, I’m afraid. Battling the demons for your entire life would take a toll on anyone, but he did it with grace and style and great, great humor.

Make no mistake. When that darkness does come, it will test your soul.

There is a great hole that has been made in his absence. And it’s not because he was a great comedian, and it’s not because Aladdin was pretty cool for kids of all ages. No. This man was not a comedian; any schmuck could tell a joke. This man was not an actor either. No.

It would be more correct to say that this man was an Alchemist; One who could spin gold from absolutely nothing, and probably more to the point, the last of a mythical order.

It would be more correct to liken him to a jazz musician; One who could construct incredible compositions with a finite number of notes. One whose voice was unmistakable, indelible, timeless. One who will be responsible for spawning countless legions of imitators for generations to come.

I am a fan. I still am. From his early days as Mork from Ork to the album I wasn’t supposed to listen to as a child, but ended up memorizing it anyway. From Popeye to cloud busting with Perry in the Fisher King. From Good Will Hunting to The Crazy Ones, I am a fan. I grew up in a world where he would go on forever.

The Darkness may come, and it may take the best of us. But it can’t take away the influence that was left behind. Thank you, Mr. Williams, for teaching us to keep just a spark of madness, and to take chances with your craft. Your light may be gone, but that’s the thing about being a force of nature.

It will always find a way to live on.

“Don’t be afraid.” Ever notice that in many interviews he’s done and in some of his stand up, a certain refrain of his was always, “Don’t be afraid”? He said it so much that it just had to be his own personal mantra. It was probably the only thing that kept him going through some darker stuff that we’d rather not think about.

Depression isn’t a mood, it’s a disease. Remember, there are people in this world who love you and care for you, but you have to reach out to them, not the other way around. Please, don’t be afraid. If you are near the edge, and you need someone to pull you back, please don’t hesitate to call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

Love to you all.

So, "Dracula Untold" is Coming…Why Am I Not Excited?

In 1995, I would find an excuse…any excuse to go to the movies. Specifically, to see Braveheart. It was  practically an affliction, since I never made it a habit to go to the movies on a regular basis. I needed to see it. I needed to have my heart ripped out of my chest. I needed to witness a Peckinpah inspired splatter fest. I needed to be swept up in the romance, and the soundtrack, and the story. It was a perfect movie. It’s a movie that was genetically engineered, meticulously built from the ground up to be an instant classic. Of course, this was made before Mel Gibson lost his mind, but more importantly, as I found out later, the movie is notorious for being riddled with historical inaccuracies. But, that’s okay. Hollywood has always taken liberties with adaptations of original work and history as it actually happened. So, who could complain when the film practically swept the Academy Awards, spawned years of parody, and resurrected a style of cinema long thought extinct?

Still though, if a story is engaging enough, are all the embellishments and tropes really necessary to tell a good story? Do you need to distort time, leave out certain details, add a mediocre soundtrack and get MichaelfrickinBay to direct, if the story is worth telling?

A movie about an unsung hero that helped Robert the Bruce liberate Scotland in the Medieval Era, might have been good enough for a film, but why not throw in a love story, and epic battle scenes to give it that extra zazz? Whaddya mean kilts weren’t invented yet? Timeline be damned.

A movie about 19th Century New York, and how its people shaped America for the next hundred years might have been epic enough, if you ignore the notion that the movie was based on flimsy source material and many conflicting stories. Who cares? Daniel Day Lewis is a god. If you aren’t a physical and mental wreck by the time the end credits roll, then you aren’t human.

“Back away from my milkshake, bub!”

A movie about the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor would have been intriguing enough…then you had to get Ben Affleck…then…well…you see where I’m going with this…MICHAELBAYSPLOSION!!!

No, it’s not the glut of vampire related “literature” polluting the bookstores in recent years that is repelling me from Dracula Untold. I mean, I would go based on the title itself; Dracula Untold. It sounds like every sparkly, pouty, insolent knock off of a blood sucker got their rent raised and forced to move to the sticks. Dracula Untold…sounds like someone peed in Edward’s Corn Flakes. It’s a strong title. It practically bullies me to go see it. So, why aren’t I?

A loyal son and brother who followed in his father’s footsteps and fought his entire life against foreign empires bent on taking over his land, a man who faced treachery from the ever changing political landscape as well as from his own brother, and whose brutal tactics made him legend through most of Europe and made him a national hero in his own country, that should be enough for a decent film. I mean, it worked for Mel Gibson, right?

No? Not enough?

We need to throw in the Bram Stoker myth? Yeah? We need to break out the fangs and mythical beasts? We really need to use the same effects they used in the first Mummy movie? You do realize that movie is over fifteen years old, right? Right? We need to recruit some actors from Game of Thrones to attract that market share audience? Yeah? We need to do all this because the formula says it would be certified blockbuster if you went this way? You say you don’t trust your audience? History is boring and myth is sexy? Throw historical accuracy under the bus again?

Figures.

I don’t know, maybe I’m not justified in my underwhelmed reaction to this movie. I’m sure it will pull in a substantial amount of cash and develop of fickle following of fanboys and maybe a contingency from Team Edward. It’ll probably do well, given the release date, and it will probably be forgotten about by Christmas. But, if my research on the subject is correct, Dracula is not the same person as Vlad Țepeș. I don’t have a problem with a movie that makes a backstory for the world’s most famous Monster. To be sure, if it were true to the myth while having fun doing it, I’d watch the hell out of that movie. The same goes for a Vlad biopic. Cast it right, write it well and don’t insult my intelligence while doing so, then I’m right on board. Bottom line, and I know it might sound snobby, I’d stand in line to see Only Lovers Left Alive than wait for Dracula 2000 to do a rotation on Spike TV.

Why I won’t see this is that I feel it does no service to its audience when a movie starts out with the intention to be based on historical events, and winds up being a cool-dude-walking-away-from-a-Michael-Baysplosion cliché. Do one or the other. They would both be fun/credible on their own merits. But, don’t mash them together and think you’re doing anyone a favor. This is the type of movie that kids watch, think it actually happened, unwittingly vandalize a Wikipedia entry, and flunk 7th Grade History.

Let me know what you think: Harmless escapism, or another in a long line of mindless, Hollywood drivel?