Maybe it’s because I have extra time on my hands with the Easter holiday weekend and major rain here in Asheville, but it feels like time to put my mail where my mouth is.
I keep saying this isn’t a newsletter and have posted that content here instead. But the reasons I haven’t really followed through on trying to do a newsletter is a) not having anybody sign up would be kind of depressing and b) I’m not writing enough at other outlets to have anything to collect here.
Plus, I’m already asking people to subscribe to The Podcass, which friends and followers have been supporting nicely, and I’d really like that to do well. At some point, you all will just get sick of me tugging on your pant legs, right?
But here’s the thing: I miss the old days of blogging. With me writing less professionally, I need an outlet and I’m enjoying writing for fun again. The era of Blogger, LiveJournal and Tumblr has passed, but the spirit of blogging still seems to exist. Maybe it’s just in newsletters and podcasts now.
So here we go. This is becoming a newsletter. I’ll try to get this out on Thursday or Friday, since a lot of newsletters go out on Sunday. Please subscribe to Overzealous Recycling at tinyletter.com/casselberry. And thank you in advance.
There’s a scene about midway through Hellboy in which a giant sword goes through a monster’s head, virtually splitting it in half, unleashing a reservoir of blood, and showing some of the soft tissue underneath the skull. While taking in that moment, I thought to myself, “I think that’s what watching this movie feels like.”
I was rooting for the 2019 reboot of Hellboy. It was going to be too easy to dismiss this movie and say Guillermo Del Toro and Ron Perlman did it better — twice — without even seeing this new version. But the wave of early reviews seemed to confirm what so many feared when this project was announced. Was there really any point to reviving Hellboy if there wasn’t anything new to offer?
Don’t misunderstand me: I don’t have a problem with remakes and reboots, even if they’re being made too often now. (Saying “Hollywood is out of ideas” is an opinion that’s run out of ideas.) Popular characters and franchises are always going to be mined for new movies and TV shows if a newer angle can be taken. And if new digital effects and moviemaking techniques can tell those stories better than their previous versions, it might just be worth doing.
With one magic word, Shazam! keeps the fun train rolling for the DC cinematic universe. DC was already on the right track with the success of Wonder Woman and Aquaman, but taking a chance with a B-list (maybe even C-list) character who had a chance to reach a younger audience might have derailed that momentum.
Some fans and critics might feel like DC’s big-screen product won’t be fully established until the big names like Batman and Superman have been restored, and the cinematic universe is on a path to getting the band together in another Justice League film. But Marvel seized the superhero movie pedestal with lesser characters and by creating a slow build that stoked anticipation for a big payoff.
Another reason that Marvel has succeeded while so many other studios and franchises have failed in trying to build a cinematic universe is its realization that many different types of stories and genres could be featured within a superhero universe. Movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man resonated with audiences because they were comedies as much as blockbuster spectacles. Humor has always been the honeypot for these movies.
If you hadn’t already heard (or read) the news, today (March 30, 2019) is the 80th anniversary of Batman’s debut in Detective Comics #27. To commemorate the occasion, DC Comics published the 1000th issue of Detective Comics.
Typical of comic books these days, a whole bunch of variant covers were released for the landmark issue. This is the one I ended up buying, a retro-style cover by Michael Cho.
Surprising myself, I passed on the Frank Miller cover. As much as I love Miller’s work — and the heavy influence he’s had on Batman — that illustration was messy and dark. I wanted something more fun. Cho’s cover also alludes to how versatile Batman is as a character. He works in any genre, any style, something I wrote about five years ago.
A few months ago, my nieces stopped over for a visit. With their mother around, watching TV or playing with the iPad wasn’t an option. So the kids went to Uncle Ian’s room to find some toys to play with or books to read.
While we were doodling on sketch pads, Junior Niece asked me, “Why do you like Batman so much?” What do you mean, kid? Why do you ask think I like Batman?She then took some Blu-rays from my TV stand and set them down in front of me. Hmm, the kid had a point.
This past week’s routine was thrown out of whack by a hours-long wait in the emergency room. No worries. A bit of concern with my niece that would’ve been taken care of at the pediatrician or even urgent care had it happened during the day.
At some point during the third hour (of a total four; my sister was there for six hours), while my phone’s battery was sinking toward 10% charged, I began thinking about an obscure, nearly 25-year-old Saturday Night Live skit called “WR.”
Do you remember that one? George Clooney was hosting the show during his ER fame, so a parody of the medical drama was a natural (maybe lazy) idea. This was Season 20 — Feb. 25, 1995 — if you’re a diehard SNL fan and completist.
Unfortunately — and normally, this might be the thing to vex me the most in a particular week — there doesn’t appear to be an embed of the skit. But it is available on NBC’s Saturday Night Live website (though not the NBC app, as the site claims):
Ask me to name my favorite TV shows of all time and Deadwood would be one of the three I list. Yet with each passing year, my memories of the series fade. I could go back any time and watch the show on HBO GO, but haven’t done so. There’s too much other TV to watch now, and I can’t keep with it. Adding an old favorite to the mix would just complicate matters.
But now, Deadwood fans are finally getting the ending we were deprived of 13 years ago. Unfortunately, it won’t be the finale we really wanted. It’s not a full fourth season. It won’t even be the two movies that series creator David Milch and HBO once agreed to. This will be whatever Milch (with the help of True Detective‘s Nic Pizzolatto) could distill into one two-hour movie which takes places years after we last saw Seth Bullock, Al Swearengen, and so many other residents of Deadwood, South Dakota.
Whether or not you consider Us a scary movie depends on your personal preferences. If “scary” means making you jump in your seat, shielding yourself with the person sitting next to you, or screaming out loud, you might be disappointed with Jordan Peele’s latest film.
But Us is most certainly creepy, with imagery that might live inside your head for a while and revisit when you close your eyes. The broken mirror doubles that a family suddenly encounters are chilling, a credit to make-up and costuming as well some fantastic acting — both in a physical and psychological sense — from the cast.
Following Get Out, Peele has made another thinking person’s horror film. No, Us probably won’t resonate the way his first effort did. And the story’s resolution doesn’t feel as satisfying. That might compel some fans and critics to use terms like “sophomore slump” in critiquing this movie. But Peele deserves credit for not repeating himself here, something that surely would’ve been easy to do.