Criterion Channel announces inaugural, April line-up

The Criterion Channel announced its inaugural month’s programming. At launch on April 8, they’re doing a spotlight of the day feature. Sometimes a single movie, sometimes a recommended list to pick from. They’re going to have a somewhat static back catalog (probably the stuff Janus has distribution rights on versus the titles Criterion licenses from studios, but it’s probably technically the best stuff they have—it’s the Kurosawa, Bergman, Tati, Fellini—but also some studio licensed stuff). But you’re going to be able to tune on a particular day and get something a little different than the day before, which sounds cool. In some ways, The Criterion Channel solves my big problem with Criterion—they don’t have any great mainstream acquisitions anymore. Criterion was very responsible for Wes Anderson back in the Rushmore days. But they also don’t have interesting genre acquisitions either.

Maybe I’m just angry they bothered with a Magnificent Ambersons instead of using it to spearhead a budget line. Whatever.

I thought it might be fun to pick out highlights in the Criterion Channel program.

First week, April 8 – 13. Columbia Noir spotlight, Y tu mamá también, female Italian filmmaker spotlight (including Bicycle Thieves), David Lynch, John Woo presenting a French musical plus a John Woo, Bugsy Malone on Saturday.

The David Lynch thing is a little too onboard for week one but whatever. I wonder if the Saturday night “kids” programming keeps up.

Second week, April 14 – 20. Julie Taymor guest programming, Fassbinder, Iranian films, Susanne Bier focus, Chinese drama Kaili Blues (sounds freaking awesome), Olivier Shakespeare vs. Lubitsch’s, The Kid for the “Saturday Matinee.”

I just missed the Saturday theme. Whatever. It’s a good mix. I want to see Kaili Blues.

Third week, April 21 – 27. Charles Burnett, Paths of Glory, Wages of Fear, Virgin Suicides, Paul Bartel!, Le samouraï, Mon oncle.

Okay, awesome. Like, Criterion Channel is, by week three, programming something fantastic.

Fourth week, April 28 – 30. Simone Signoret (Diabolique and Army of Shadows and five more), “Observations on Film Art No. 26” (a streaming only series?), then Chantal Akerman.

Plus whatever else the rest of the week (in May).

It’s good. It’s very good.

I hope this works out.

Silver Screen Partners 5.0

It took Disney a long, long time to make decent R-rated movies. Well into the nineties. If you look at their Silver Screen Partners history, which is a list of mostly lousy movies, you can see why they were so desperate for Miramax back then.

But as Disney takes over Fox, well… Fox has basically been in a quality rut since Alien 4. Though Independence Day more kicked it off in 1996. It was a sign of things to come, whereas Die Hard 3 had been a sign of things gone. There were actually some good “Fox” not “Fox Searchlight” movies in 1996 (and some bad Fox Searchlight movies from that year).

I remember learning who Tom Rothman was back in the late nineties, early 2000s just because he was the terrible Fox guy who screwed up all their genre pictures. Fox made more and more genre pictures, they did them worse and worse (I make that observation as a–limited–AVP 1 apologist too).

But now the Mouse House is taking over and Disney’s been making solidly agreeable movies since… 2010? Earlier if you like Pirates of the Caribbean (which I’ve still yet to see). Will Disney save Die Hard .5/6? Will they say no to whatever dumb idea Ridley Scott’s got for the Alien franchise? Will they keep James Cameron happy? Does it matter if you keep James Cameron happy, given all his Avatar (also haven’t seen) audiences have aged considerably? Will Kevin Feige make a good Fantastic Four movie?

Maybe? Maybe not?

Until Disney announces their plan for Fox properties, it’s all in limbo. An imagined one. With a lot of potential, but… a lot of negative possibility too.

Where’s the emoji for the finger in the throat to gag?

So Charles Roven, who produced such gems as Justice League and Suicide Squad, says don’t call Wonder Woman 2 a sequel because it’s “the next iteration of Wonder Woman.” What kind of marketing nonsense is he speaking? A very familiar kind. I can’t remember who started the “don’t call it a sequel” movement, but I feel like it might have either been Kevin Feige talking about Phase 2 or it might have been someone at WB talking about Dark Knight or, hell, the X-Men producers because if you go by Roven’s definition of what makes a sequel… almost nothing at all is a sequel. Including all the Die Hard sequels.

I get why WB is going to be grabbing their pearls right now. They shit-talked Captain Marvel only for it to be a huge hit. Shazam! is supposedly good but it’s New Line, not Roven and company. But this is, frankly, an utterly pointless flex.

And completely predictable and unoriginal. Through in some terrible CG and it’s just Warner being Warner

Wonder Woman 1984 is coming to theaters in 2020 and will be the second movie featuring the iconic female DC hero. However, in some puzzling news, DC revealed the movie is not a sequel to the 2017 movie.

The covers alone

I could say a lot about DC doing a Black Hammer crossover, but I won’t bother. Instead, just look at the cool covers for it.

The five-issue miniseries is written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Michael Walsh.


Jaime. DC. Yay.

Who doesn’t want to see Jaime Hernandez draw DC superheroes? Besides DC Comics.

There’s some great stuff at the link; I think I’ve seen the “Maggie as Robin” thing before in a Love and Rockets sketchbook section. The era of being excited about an indie creator–or indie-minded creator–doing mainstream work is, quite unfortunately, over. I used to be thrilled whenever someone conned Michael Lark into doing superheroes (Gotham Central, be still my beating heart) and such, but seeing eighties Jaime DC art? Still awesome.

I need to email that Namor and Aquaman one to the post author. You can never have too much Jaime.

In the very early 1980s, before Jaime Hernandez first published Love and Rockets as an independent comic book, he did some spot illustrations for Fantagraphics….

DC Comics and Jesusphobia

Back in 1989, DC Comics scrapped an issue of Swamp Thing where Swampy met Jesus. Writer Rick Veitch quit DC Comics for a time, Doug Wheeler took over the series and led it into a shallow period. DC has never published the comic, even though pretty much everyone agrees the Wheeler run is one of the series low points.

Everyone who’s read it, anyway. It doesn’t seem like many did.

Fast forward thirty years and once again DC is scared of Jesus. Mark Russell–who wrote Flintstones and Snagglepuss for DC–has a new book, Second Coming, all about Jesus returning and bunking with a Superman stand-in.

DC greenlit the concept, greenlit the book, then totally wussed out once again when it comes to getting Jesus into the funny pages. It’s not a surprise. DC’s a mostly feckless sewer, but come on… stand by your greenlighting decisions. There have been plenty of good Jesus comics over the years–particularly Garth Ennis’s Wormwood but also Mark Millar’s Chosen. Chosen would’ve given DC/Vertigo a real shot in the arm when it desperately needed one. But no. I’ll bet Millar and Ennis never even bothered pitching their books to DC because, well, DC is a wuss.

And, once again, they wussed out. Zero surprise.

Now, the comic has ended up at Ahoy Comics, which has been around about six months, and has books from creators like Tom Peyer and Stuart Moore… who used to be DC guys, until DC stopped paying people in money and switched over to WB Shop gift certificates.

Following its cancelation by DC Comics, the controversial Jesus Christ satire comic Second Coming has landed a new home at Ahoy Comics, and will finally be released July 10.

Ruining movies: In which I make a link share all about me

Funny story (I mean, relatively). As a big fan of the film The Year of the Comet, I got the Twilight Time Blu-ray (which I still haven’t watched). On opening the box, I read the back of the Blu-ray, curious about the critics’ quotes for such an undeservedly ignored light, competent comedy. There was one quote about Tim Daly, which I appreciated and agreed with, then realized it was from my post on Stop Button.

Glad I agreed with myself.

But when I saw Lara Witt had written about Captain Marvel, I was a little torn about reading the post. I love Witt’s work, but… I really liked Captain Marvel, was her post going to make me think differently about the film. Especially since I’ve had friends say hearing/reading me talk about movies ruins the movie for them.

Which I always take to mean I’m right.

But what was Witt going to say about Captain Marvel, especially since I’m a forty year-old cishet white male and she’s… not.

So… basically we have the same take. Stuff I didn’t talk about in my post at length because I wouldn’t do it justice. Witt does it justice.

Captain Marvel serves as reminder that emotional, compassionate, angry, resilient, brave, loud girls and women are dangerous to oppressive structures.


Concerning Rotten Tomatoes

Scott Mendelson gives a behind-the-scenes on what it’s like to be a Rotten Tomatoes contributing critic. I wouldn’t know because RT never let me in, even back when Stop Button was arguably getting enough traffic to support that entry.

It doesn’t get that much traffic anymore, of course. And I don’t read Rotten Tomatoes, but if it’s going to be on DVD and Blu-ray covers and probably some theatrical posters as advertising? People should at least understand how it works. I understood how it worked, but it’d been a while since I’d read anything on it and Scott Mendelson’s got a fantastic way of breaking it down.

The site works just fine as long as you know how to use it.