Tuesday, January 31, 2012

THE CREATURE AND THE ORCHID


The Gill-Man hisownself climbing up from the Black Lagoon. Pencil on cardboard.


The Gaiman/McKean version of the Black Orchid. Ballpoint on cardboard.

Friday, January 27, 2012

MEPHISTO IN GRAPHITE



Marvel's very own Old Scratch... Mephisto.
(click to enlarge)

Probably one of my favorite sketches of my own, even though I'm trying my damnedest to evoke Buscema. If you don't think to yourself: How would Buscema draw Mephisto when you're trying to draw Mephisto, you are beyond help. He literally wrote the book on drawing Mephisto. And nobody, but nobody drew a villain sitting better or more interestingly.

SOLOMON KANE, FIN FANG FOOM & LIBERTY MEADOWS?

The Puritan purifier of evil...


Marvel's dragon of dragons...


The cheesecake in that slice of comedy pie...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

ELEMENTALS & SWAMP THINGS



Above, it's Bill Willingham's classic supergroup The Elementals, a damn fine comic that fought the good fight.



Above we have Jason Voorhees used because it was Friday the 13th against the mysterious Man-Thing.

Click the images if you'd like a closer look.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

LOKI LOSES HIS HEAD



Easily one of my favorite scenes featuring Loki is when Balder, having been tortured by Loki, finally loses it and decapitates the mischief god. And, after a beat, the body of Loki casually walks over to his head and sets it right back on his shoulders. All while he chides Balder for the attempted murder.

Monday, January 9, 2012

B.P.R.D. Agent Tobias Morrell and the Red Rage


B.P.R.D. Agent Tobias "Toby" Morrell is a typical field agent of the bureau who specializes in hoodoo a.k.a. voodoo. Tobias grew up surrounded by practicing witchdoctors and learned their ways early in life. While not a practicing witchdoctor himself, he can summon up the spirits and manipulate them if need be. Tobias knows there can be a great cost for asking favors of the gods, so he usually makes sure he exhausts all earthly means before resorting to such things.


This is Red Rage, the result of the alien symbiote Carnage taking over Frank Castle, the Punisher. Done for the Daily Sketch Challenge Group over at DeviantArt.

Click to embiggen artwork.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

End of Year Sketches

Some digital sketches from the end of the year that I had neglected to post and so now we clean out the trash (don't' forget to click to embiggen:





THE YEAR IN FILM: 2011

Now it can be told. The full and complete listing of the movies I caught at the local theaters or on DVD/Netflix that were new to the year of 2011 are as follows:

Ahem, well, let's start with my own personal TOP 7, shall we? Why only seven? 'Cause "the Man" wouldn't give a brother ten! (Hey a Nat X reference!)

In no particular order (or are they?):



The Tree of Life -- Now here is a film that takes it’s story and visuals both seriously, a movie that runs long, but doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. Terrence Malick’s essay on life and it’s meaning if any can be extracted from it is very impressionistic. He flows back and forth between character points of view seemlessly in a dreamlike look back at events that shape all involved. The main focus of this film is a small town family fathered by Brad Pitt’s character, mothered by Jessica Chastain and is rounded out by their three boys. But the movie also goes into a little bit of life of all kinds and how the world is around us. It’s a hard to explain film as it skips around, backward and forward--telling the story one bit at a time. It may not have all the answers about life and how to live it, but it certainly gives it a long hard look. A fine piece of filmmaking: A+



Crazy Stupid Love -- An excellent movie featuring Steve Carrell in one of his best roles, that of a husband who is shocked when his wife suddenly dumps him on the way home from dinner one night and the insane journey he goes on to win her back. It also features, Ryan Gossling in a great turn as a man-about-town who teaches the befuddled Carrell how to make moves in the dating world of today. Emma Stone is great as a young woman who winds up falling for Gossling’s character. And there are other twists and turns in this tale of many loves all bound together. You can’t go wrong with this movie: A



Super 8 -- The most nostalgic film of the year. It informs the viewer of what it was like to be a young boy in the late ‘70s coming of age. Add to that a huge railroad accident that nearly kills the young cast and throws the whole town into chaos and happens to deliver a horrible mystery directly into the middle of town. As the military swarms and the kids work to uncover the mystery, we learn just how big the secret onboard that train is and we learn just how far they will go to cover it up. With elements of E.T., THE GOONIES and THE BREAKFAST CLUB, this film manages to stay serious and dangerous the whole way through--all the while keeping the characters true to life. A fine piece of film making and one that should appeal to all: A



Drive -- Ryan Gossling is tightly bound up in his role as a driver for hire for all kinds of criminal activity. His singular focus on getting his job done to exacting standards is ideal for a wheel man and he clearly knows his thing. Doesn't help him when the shit hits the fan as it does and he gets caught up on the wrong side of the real bad guys. The film itself is a by the numbers, just the facts kind of film that feels like a B-movie. But this B-movie has such a slick style that one can tell it's going places. A fine example of less being more, this film certainly leaves you wanting more: A



Bridesmaids -- Kristin Wiig is one hell of a comedian and has proved her worth countless times on SNL and in several cameo roles in films. Here Wiig carries a feature length comedy about a friend of a soon-to-be-married woman trying to cope with her single life of being out of work and without someone to share her future with. A future which is looking bleaker by the moment. Enter the hijinks stage left and you have one of the best comedies in years. All of the chracters live and breathe, they are fully realized in that they have reasons for doing what they do. A fine effort: A-



Insidious -- Easily the best horror movie of the year, one of the best movies of this year as well. And it does it all with very little in the way of visual FX. Lots of well placed props and actors, lots of good editing and cutting to give a sense of the fear of the characters. Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson make this story very believable--their characters having gone through an emotional rollercoaster over the course of the film. And this haunting tale has a few twists that put it out in front of its competitors all the while, it doesn’t go over the top into madness. One just wishes that were the case: A-



50/50 -- Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a young writer who discovers one day that he has a very rare form of cancer that has a 50/50 % chance of being fatal. His best friend, played manically by Seth Rogen, takes it upon himself to help out. What follows is some of Gordon-Levitt’s best, most subtle work in a film that is both reflective of everyday life and the struggle life becomes when it is all about survival. One of this years best pictures: A-


The following are the other films I saw this year, in pretty-much the order I saw them in. I saw many more than I remembered when thinking back--I guess the year was longer than I thought...

The Fighter -- Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale play Boston area boxing brothers in this gritty true story based drama. Christian Bale certainly earned his oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Heavy handed at times, the story did seem to come together nicely for a very good viewing on my part--even if it’s a tried and true story: B+

The Green Hornet -- Seth Rogan and pals decided to take a serious character and premise and make a comedy with action elements. Kato rules, the Hornet drools and the potential for a great franchise dries up. The action elements, especially when Kato does his thing are worth watching. The comedy is well placed and funny--it’s just that the mix doesn’t quite get there: B-

Solomon Kane -- Had to catch this one on DVD as it has yet to be released here in the states. Based on the stories of Robert E. Howard, Solomon Kane is the story of a sinner turned born again fanatic and his battle with the devil in all his many forms. While not a great film, it certainly does it’s job in delivering some good characterization and nifty action sequences: B

The Dilemma -- Normally Vince Vaughn is money. Money in the bank with me anyway--his high energy and quick wit usually find me laughing harder than at the written material. But this movie, featuring Vaughn stuck with the problem of knowing that his best friend’s girl is untrue and being blackmailed by her into not telling him seemed too low energy for Vaughn and his best buddy played by the usually hilarious Kevin James. Watch WEDDING CRASHERS and THE KING OF QUEENS instead: D+

Cyrus -- Jonah Hill is Marisa Tomei’s overly clingy college-aged-son and John C. Reilly is her new potential boyfriend. The guys vow to destroy one another and thus begins a neat idea for a comedy--only it doesn’t get funny. It gets a bit serious, in fact, and if the ads for it indicated this one might be prepared for it and like it. But noooo…: C-

The Eagle -- A kind of fable about a large empire occupying a country that doesn’t want to be occupied and how they resist the occupiers and how the empire’s forces are changed, diminished and affected because of their job. Set in Roman occupied Britain and featuring the son of a great warrior of the empire trying to restore his father’s name. A pretty decent classic story buried in some preachiness: C+

Hall Pass -- Two married guys get a free pass from their wives to live life as if they were single again for a week. What follows is humorous, but not as humorous as it should/could be. It turns out these guys are more real in that they actually love their wives and are both prettymuch full of hot air. Interesting, but not terribly funny: C

Never Let Me Go -- is one of those science fiction stories that is a bit ashamed to be a SF story. It is a pretty good melodrama about a group of kids who grow up in an institution that grooms them for a certain purpose in society. I won’t say more beyond that it is well acted, a bit boring at times and kind of tragic--just like life: B

Adjustment Bureau -- Matt Damon plays an ambitious politician in love with a dancer whom he met briefly one night. He goes on to pursue her, but is contacted by a group of “adjusters” who tell him that their relationship was not meant to be. Based in part on a Phillip K. Dick story, the Adjustment Bureau is there to make sure fate’s hand moves in certain directions so that certain outcomes take place. Well acted and directed, we find out if true love can overcome the hand of fate: B+

Take Me Home Tonight -- Topher Grace and his talented fellow cast members take this run of the mill comedy tribute to ‘80s John Hughes films above the material they had to work with. By no means a great film, but a great one to look back at that time period through. Fun stuff: B

Battle L.A. -- A bare-bones introduction tells the story of an old Marine on the way out having his unit drawn into defending Los Angeles from an alien invasion. Crisp, taut action sequences, a sizable sense of being overwhelmed and good acting lift this SF/action flick to a higher level. It’s called “Battle: Los Angeles”, people, you get what they advertise: B

Paul -- Two British geeks are driving through the desert southwest on their way to Area 51 when they meet up with an actual alien by the name of Paul. Paul is on the run from a group of government people. They live, they laugh, etc. Funny enough, but it’s no SHAUN OF THE DEAD or even HOT FUZZ: B-

Buried -- Ryan Reynolds stars in this suspensful one-man show about a U.S. contractor working in Iraq driving trucks who wakes up in a box buried under the sand. There’s a cell phone and a demand for ransom he’s running out of air and patience. A well made, if somewhat limited thrill ride. It gets a bit repetitive at times, but it’s some of Reynold’s best work: B

Sucker Punch -- Eye candy with a plot that goes basically in a circle, much like a serpent eating it’s own tail. Beautiful to watch, hurtful of lovers of plot and meaning. Like a video game in plot depth and visual depth, frustrating: D-

Despicable Me -- Super villain as the good guy on a learning curve. Neat visuals make this otherwise tame animated feature viewable: C+

Defendor -- Woody Harrelson as probably the most realistic take on the regular guy trying to be a superhero schtick. He’s a resourceful mentally challenged guy who really wants to clean up the streets. Ah, but he’s got that problem of not being there in the head. An okay story with a few good twists: B-

Your Highness -- This one is reaching for one part PRINCESS BRIDE and one part UP IN SMOKE, but it doesn’t quite get there despite great casting that includes Zoe Deshanel, Danny McBride, Natalie Portman and James Franco. It would have been much funnier had McBride’s character stayed the same petulant, wimpy, ass the whole time, so instead of the one valiant brother outshining the other in many ways they get serious about being good to one another (not as funny!): B-

Hanna -- A fun and thrilling techno-thriller focusing on a young woman on the run against overwhelming odds. Twists, turns and quirky characters throughout. Hanna is like a samurai sword cutting through it all: B+

Skyline -- Think BATTLE: LOS ANGELES minus the well directed action, plot or likable characters. Meh: F

Dylan Dog -- Take the actor who played Superman last and cast him in a pretty nice comic book based film about a detective living in a hidden world of the supernatural and you have a movie that tries very hard to be Hellboy. Only without the charm, directing, effects or acting of Hellboy: D

Thor -- Here’s where we’re going to see a mix of feelings. You see, I’m a crazy big Thor fan and I cannot stress how cautiously pessimistic I was when I went to see this opening weekend. I was so intent on holding back my reactions to everything that I ended up numbing myself. When I went to see it the following week I was able to watch it with a more open perspective and enjoyed it even more than the first time. It is as if some of this movie were cut from Stan and Jack’s panels (when Thor wonders at the strangeness of the simplist Earth things, I always flashback to Thor sitting in a malt shop sipping on a milkshake with amazement from the comic). But then there are those changes that are made seemingly only to suit the non-comic fan, the fan that might be offended when these larger than life characters are referred to as gods. Jack and Stan’s Thor was very certainly a GOD and not only was he a god, he was the son of the Allfather, the god of gods in his pantheon. But that takes us from the movie as whole and I should concentrate my efforts there. It was an action packed spectacular with wonderous settings and powerful characters and it was fun and dramatic and all, but it felt too short. It seemed as if it could’ve used a more expansive introduction. That could just be the Thor fan in me thinking: B+

Hobo with a Shotgun -- Rutger Hauer as a shotgun wielding homeless man with a need for gunship diplomacy? Sign me up! It is one of the movies that brings you back to the days of the grindhouse, where it was all about getting the next cheapo film out there and get it out there fast. This movie answered a question I’ve long had about hobos: what do hobos yearn for and apparently it’s their very own lawnmower--at least that was Rutger’s idea of independence. When the leader of a criminal empire destroys his dream, Rutger gets a shotgun instead and then the world begins to change: B

Hangover II -- Just rent The Hangover again and imagine a monkey instead of a lion--and the laughs are more sparse this time out: C

The American -- A nifty bit of espionage set in Europe involving George Clooney who finds himself very much on the short end of the stick as it appears his own agency is out to get him. A really taut piece of filmmaking, sparsely acted and well told. Definitely worth seeking out: B+

Black Death -- Sean Bean plays the leader of a band of Crusaders leading a young monk to discover the truth about a place that in the midst of the Bubonic Plague seems to be returning it’s dead from the ground. A solid watch that doesn’t swing too far out there for cheap thrills or shocks. An interesting film that features a bit more religious philosphy than one would expect: B

The Lost -- Based on a novel by Jack Ketchum, the lost is the story of a young pschopath named Ray who, having killed two young women one day at a campground, is now being pressed by the two local cops who know he is responsible, but didn’t have the evidence to prove it. Not a bad B-grade thriller that takes a long and winding road to get to the point: B-

I Spit on Your Grave -- A remake of probably one of the most controversial B-movies ever made. A severe tale of revenge, this story is all about what happens to hicks who attack the wrong woman and let her live. All manner of horrible fates await these psychos as the girl gets creative. I saw the original film when I was but a wee boy, so I can’t say that it was a classic or anything or even if it was well acted. I do know that it was disturbing. This one, not quite as much. But that could just be me: C

American: The Bill Hicks Story -- For those who don’t know, Bill Hicks was probably the best comedian of his time. As thoughtful as Stephen Wright, as angry as Sam Kinison, as profane as they come. But he was struck down with cancer in the prime of his career and so there’s the rub. This is the documentary (there’ve been a few) about what made him the comedian he had become by the time of his passing. Informative, very funny and a bit sad. But not very sad, the guy wouldn’t have that: B+

Kind of a Funny Story -- A depressed teen checks himself into a psychatric ward and meets the very interesting residents there. In so doing, he learns how to better deal with his own problems. Good script, well acted--truly kind of a funny story: B+

Green Lantern -- Ryan Reynolds plays test pilot Hal Jordan who is granted an alien power ring with amazing powers with which he is to keep peace in his sector of the universe. Through many trials and tribulations, the pilot overcomes his faults and saves the day. A pretty straight forward tale of hero versus villain that could’ve used some sprucing up with more character development and less alien politics: A bit too ambitious: B-

Kung Fu Panda 2 -- See Kung Fu Panda the first and enjoy. So, so: B

Triangle -- Out on a short (3 hour?) cruise with friends when their boat crosses bows with a seemingly abandoned oceanliner from another era. The Twilight Zone theme cues. That’s when things get really weird and people start turning on one another and turning up dead. Can they solve the mystery before they all wind up dead (again)? Dark and haunting, but not quite all there: B

Bad Teacher -- A waste of a few really good comedic talents, but not a complete waste. They really make it easy to cheer against Cameron Diaz who plays a horrible person, let alone teacher. Sure, she eventually turns for the better, but not enough to matter much. Jason Segel is the most likable of these teachers and if the movie were told from his character’s POV then it could’ve been quite a hoot. But noooo: D

Perfect Host -- A criminal on the run from a botched robbery cons his way into the house of the wrong psycho. David Hyde Pierce plays that psycho perfectly. What follows is not all-together real. Much of it is from the delusional point of view of Pierce’s character--so funny strange. Several twists and turns make one wonder which way is up or down, but in the end you arrive at your desitnation. A neat idea that gets caught up in it’s own illusions: C+

Horrible Bosses -- Great premise, fine actors in roles that suit them and yet this one doesn’t quite fire on all cynlinders. It gets close enough, mind you, but not full on bust a gut funny. These three guys who are best friends try to hire a professional to aid them in getting rid of their bosses and mistakenly pick Jamie Fox, who is neither a professional, nor a killer. A fun rental: B-

Company Men -- A really solid tale of the times we live in as the job market crumbles and companies are too afraid to invest in the American worker and banks are too afraid to bank on the American business. Ben Affleck is very good as a man who is laid off and has to deal with these new harsh realities. Others do too. Well made: B+

Wake Wood -- Now that Hammer is back making horror pictures, it’ll be nice to see if the quality that was found in their first (LET ME IN) will hold true for the future. With WAKE WOOD, I believe it has. A couple, having lost their only child, move to rural Wake Wood to start over. Before they know it they find themselves with the opportunity to have three more days with their dead daughter, Alice. They cannot pass up this opportunity to have their little girl back, even if only for a little while. Something goes horribly wrong. A fine little supernatural thriller: B+

Captain America -- You know how some movies linger and seem to love the look of themselves in the mirror, well it’s a shame this one didn’t linger. It left me wanting more, so much more of Cap and Buck kicking Nazi butt in the war. But that gets onto one of my only real two qualms with the film and that is leaving out the Nazis and their propaganda. It really was all over the front, so we should’ve seen more evidence of their evil. I know you’re trying to sell toys and market in Europe, but don’t whitewash the reason Cap sprang into action in the first place. (The other qualm was about Cap getting involved in selling war bonds) Anyway, what is on the screen is fun and well done and fantastic at times, but it leaves us unsatisfied and that’s because it was so good. This one I watched multiple times-- very powerful in the mighty Marvel manner: A-

Cowboys vs Aliens -- If there was a pairing in the movies that we hadn’t seen enough of over the last 30 years it was these two and who better to bring them together than Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford? Craig plays a man without any memories and a strange alien device strapped to his wrist. Ford plays a seemingly ruthless rancher who is investigating the disappearance of a whole mess of cows. A pretty by the numbers flick that does it’s job pretty well: B

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 -- As a finale to a series that began with “the boy who lived”, this one ends up with a young man who very much died and returned to live a very muggled adulthood. This is one of the few series that I dutifully watched with my nephew and it did get better with each part until the end. Still, not a series of films I’d have began on my own, but one that won me over over the years bit by bit: B+

Rise of the Planet of the Apes -- Went to see this one with a big chip (not chimp) on my shoulder about what I had seen in the trailer, but wanted to give it a peek as I had heard good things about Mr. Serkis’ performance as Caesar, an ape that has been enhanced via a drug that James Franco’s character has developed for the purposes of fighting Alzheimer’s disease. The life journey this ape goes on is compelling--how he is rejected by his fellow ape and knows enough that he is treated like a pet. His frustration grows until there’s an incident where he is forced to go live among other apes in an abusive “pen”. And thus is the beginning of the “rise”. A surprisingly smart and effectively told tale (and Serkis deserves a nomination): A-

30 Minutes or Less -- A buddy comedy about a teacher, Aziz Ansari in one of his less annoying roles, and a pizza delivery guy, Jesse Eisenberg, who get caught up in a murder for hire/blackmail scheme with Danny McBride and Nick Swardson in the role of criminal masterminds. Fairly funny stuff, but not as funny as it should have been. Again, it has it’s moments, but doesn’t get to live past the gong: C-

Fright Night -- Let me be the first to say that this is another in a very long list of films that did NOT need to be remade. The original is brilliant on all levels and probably the best horror/comedy made in the last 40 years. Neverthelese, the cast and crew on this remake did their work and made a very good and frightening horror film with a little comedy in it. Not sure that it functions fully as a comedy like the original did, though. Colin Farrell is the new neighbor who Anton Yelchin begins to suspect of evil deeds, even if he doesn’t believe his best friend when he flat out tells him that the guy is a vampire. Former Doctor Who, David Tennant is excellent as an overly dramatic, Chris Angel-like magician whom Charley (Anton Yelchin) comes to for help against his very vampy neighbor. It works, it still works even though it wasn’t necessary: B+

Lincoln Lawyer -- Matthew McCanaughey plays Mick Haller, a lawyer who does business out of the back of a car, a Lincoln, as a matter of fact. He represents a very wealthy and influential client who may not be guilty of the crime he’s accused of, but is definitely guilty of many others. This is the delima for a lawyer down on his luck, what to do ethically, legally and what will allow him to survive the ordeal. A nicely wound thriller with good work by McCanaughey, Tomei and Ryan Phillippe as the evil client: B

Limitless -- What if you could become potentially limitless as a human being--meaning that your brain would work at maximum capacity and all you had to do was take a pill? Would you do it? This is the story of Eddie Morra played by Bradley Cooper, who decides to take the pill and see what happens. And what happens when others find out about this “magic” pill…? It’s worth a look: B+

My Idiot Brother -- As great as the whole cast in this film about a family of sisters and their brother who can’t seem to stop innocently getting into trouble is (Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Rashida Jones and Emily Mortimer head up the cast), they can’t seem to get this comedy off the ground very far. C+

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark -- In the hopes that Guillemro dfel Toro’s hand was more heavy in this picture, I caught this one. Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce play a couple moving in to an ancient mansion, all the while preparing for a big dinner party in the days to come. Unexpectedly, Guy’s daughter arrives, played well by Bailee Madison, and is going through stress involving her parents’ break up. That’s when these creatures begin to make their deadly move: B

Creature --In the back country of Louisiana, a group of friends get caught up with a local legend that involves family drama and a swamp monster. What follows is part Texas Chainsaw and part Creature from the Black Lagoon. Better than expected, as “B” a movie as you’ll find, but with an ending that will leave you wondering why they made it happen like that: C+

Contagion -- A world-wide thriller about the threat posed by pandemic outbreak and how the world could react to it or should react to it. I call it a procedural drama as it doesn’t really spend enough time emotionally with the families affected, but is more concerned with the bigger picture of the pandemic as a whole. Fascinating, but a wee bit cold, Mr. Soderbergh: B+

Unknown -- Liam Neesen is a man who awakens from a coma to learn that the life he remembered to be his own, is considered a lie by the rest of the world--even his own wife. A by the numbers piece of action/thriller: B-

Straw Dogs -- If you’ll recall my rant about Fright Night, there are some movies that just don’t need to be remade. Dustin Hoffman starred in a perfectly good original of this film many years ago. It was powerful. While this film touches on quite a lot of the themes from the original film, it doesn’t have the element that I thought made the original outstanding and that is the foriegn element which worked so well originally. Not a bad remake, but unnecessary: B-

The Thing -- Did I mention something about remakes? Sure I did. Well anyway, as much as this one looks like a remake, quacks like a remake and flaps it’s wings like a remake, it’s actually supposed to be a prequel. In that case, I tried my damnedest to think of it as a stand-alone monster movie and I pretty-much didn’t get far because the similarities are too--similar. So, because of that, it’s not a bad picture, just derivitive: B-

Stake Land -- Take Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD, mature the child and throw in a world full of vampires and zombie types and you have what Stake Land tries to be or, more precisely take ZOMBIELAND and make it pure horror/drama and you have STAKE LAND. Well told horror genre stuff on a surprisingly low budget. Worth seeking out for the thrill alone: B+

Paranormal Activity 3 -- When one puts children in danger in a work of fiction it is usually considered a cheap way to scare the audience, gain their sympathy and manipulate them. With this movie, I disagree with that premise as we who have seen the quite good first two films in this saga know that the children in this film will survive whatever happens here to move on and suffer terrible fates as adults. What really works here is how we finally get to see the depth of the madness behind the horror of the following two. It is remarkable that it has worked this well for this long. Not as good as the previous visits to attempted Blair Witch-dom, but well worth a stay: B

A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas --With this visit to the White Castle that is the Harold & Kumar genre, I daresay we’ve made one too many trips through the drive-thru. But I can’t say for certain because I slept through this picture. Which says it all, I guess: C-

Everything Must Go -- Will Ferrell is good as a mid-life-crisis suffering alcoholic husband of a woman who is done with him and a worker at a business that has fired him. He comes home to find himself locked out of his house without a key and all of his posessions are on the lawn. He tries desperately to cling to his things and home and even his wife and job. None of the above are having him. Lessons slowly begin to be learned in this slow moving mind: B-

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows -- Take the story and plot away from the original film in this “series” and you have what you have in this movie: a great pair of actors without much to do beyond running in slow motion. At least Moriarty plays a big part in this one: B-

Young Adult -- Charlize Theron is out for her high school sweetheart in a bad way--really bad. She’s willing to throw his wife and newborn sun under the proverbial bus to get him. Her one-track mind comes screaming back into her tiny hometown to do that very thing, when she runs into another former classmate at a local dive bar. Patton Oswalt is the high school reject who happened to have the locker next to hers and though she doesn’t really remember him, they strike up a kind of friendship. What follows is a series of revelations that explain her behavior. In a very real way, Theron’s character has remained trapped in that bubble of high school glory--afraid to move on for fear of failure. Nice work on account of all and entertaining to watch: B+

Melancholia -- A beautifully shot and not so easy to watch melodrama about a bride (Kirsten Dunst) who suffers from what can only be described as severe bouts of depression and melancholy is what the first half of this film is about. It is well acted, it is, however, a mess of a story that goes ‘round in circles of the same tedium of the family and friends having to deal with Dunst’s character who is a deeply troubled woman. The second half seems to be concentrating on how these people react to a celestial event involving a runaway planet that will pass very closely by the Earth. What the two have in common is, I guess, how alike the bride and planet are. They all have to suffer through them both, regardless of their own wishes. A very long movie that is a well-acted mess: D+

The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo -- While a damn fine film with powerful characters in dynamic situations, of David Fincher’s films, it doesn’t compare to his best. But that says a lot as I hold Fincher’s talent in the very high regard. A disgraced Journalist gets help in his search for a young woman who has been missing for several decades by Lisbeth Salander, a young hacker/investigator. In full disclosure, have yet to read the novel or see the original film, but because of this film I will seek them out. Fine story, neat characters and that’s all one needs of it’s filmmakers: A-