Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thumbs up for You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried (review roundup)

I recently finished a review copy of Susannah Gora's You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and Their Impact on a Generation. It's excellent, and I don't even like John Hughes movies, which I always found to be really sad. Here's two of my favorite anecdotes:

A scene in Some Kind of Wonderful called for Eric Stoltz's character to paint a picture of Lea Thompson's character. Director Howie Deutch rejected painting after painting (from seven different painters) as inadequate, before eventually settling on a painting as suitably depicting Thompson's beauty. Deutch and Thompson later married.

Hughes hired David Anderle of A&M Music to create the soundtrack for Ferris Beuller's Day Off. Anderle hired Robert Smith of The Cure to write a song to play during the museum scene. Meanwhile, Hughes asked Anderle, who had been the music supervisor on two of Hughes' previous movies, to arrange for A&M to work exclusively for him. When Anderle declined, explaining that A&M was a major record company, Hughes ended their working relationship and friendship. And so, the Robert Smith song was not used in the movie.

Highly recommended, and 34% off at Amazon.

And a few more reviews:

1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: I finally watched this to see if it was too scary for my kids (yes). It failed even my very low expectations. Here's a few reasons: (1) It's a bad imitation of The Mummy, not an Indiana Jones movie; (2) Indy's behavior toward Ray Winston's Mac character made no sense, and indeed the character was entirely superfluous; (3) I'm immune to Shia LaBeouf's charms. The Star Wars prequels get a raw deal, and are superior to 4-6 in many ways. But this movie was entirely meritless.

2. Doctor 13: Architecture & Mortality by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang: Probably the worst-written comic I've ever tried to read. Cliff Chiang draws beautiful women, though.

3. BPRD: The Black Flame: Another great entry in the Hellboy/BPRD family. 32 % off at Amazon.

4. Lego Indiana Jones and Lego Batman for the Wii: Not quite as good as Lego Star Wars. The puzzles in Lego Batman are too similar, and the hub world is way too big. Controls in general, and especially during fighting, seem off in Indiana Jones. Still, my oldest is pretty happy playing them. Available for less than $20 at Amazon.

5. Wii Sports Resort: Filled with a huge variety of very fun games. My favorites are ping pong, archery, and sword fighting. But the controls on some of the games, especially the jetski don't work well. $3 off at Amazon.

*See more of my reviews here.


  1. Would you someday list the "many ways" in which Star Wars 1-3 are better than 4-6? I'm not being facetious. While I didn't much like the new films, I'd actually love to be convinced of/enlightened to their merits.

    As an example of how much of an easy-to-sway fella I am, I'll use an example based upon your second numbered entry here: the Doctor 13 comic. The first time I read through this one, I was seriously underwhelmed. The, a few months later, I happened across a review of it which explained that (1.) it was originally written as a bunch of 3 or 4 page back-up stories, then clumped together by DC without explanation and (2.) that the stories are told in the order of the 7 stages of the grieving process. These minor footnotes were enough to make me re-read the trade paperback collection, at which time I focused less on the series' herky-jerky, start/stop storytelling style and more on the themes that Azzarello and Chiang were tackling with their winning combination of Adult Swim-inspired sense of humor and (as you noted) hot cartoon women drawings.

  2. George Lucas should be banned from writing movies. He should be a motionless mute figurehead akin to Walt Disney and Shia LaBeouf banned from any more Speilberg movies because at this pace he will be Han Solo in the Star Wars remake.

    The Star Wars prequels ranged from boring to somewhat enjoyable once Lucas realized that people don't like watching space cspan for hours on end. But after watching them I am dumbfounded how I am supposed to grow any attachment to the clone wars when the main hero is a mass murderer child killer and the perky young sidekick is most likely fit to be murdered by said "hero"? I look forward to the new mystery series The Young Adventures Of Adolf Hitler And His Jewish Sidekick.

  3. I agree with Anonymous--please explain your reasons why the prequels are superior to 4-6. I'm not asking that in order to argue with you, I would actually really like to know how you arrived at that opinion, as I'd like to have a legit reason to go back and watch those three again. And your reviews are usually solid.

    Your public has spoken! Well, we've politely ahemed from the back of the theater.

  4. Dr. 13 is bad? Prequels are good? This must be what Bizarro World feels like.

  5. Doctor 13 is a story dealing with the stages of grief, as stated above... and the author is grieving the loss of the characters involved... all of which were decided too weird to find a place for them in the modern DC Universe. Who did the deciding? The Architects of the modern DC... Basically the authors of DC's 52 series. Waid, Johns, Morrison, and Rucka. The architects, even though masked, look like those 4 guys.

    Just thought you might like to know.

  6. I guess the Doc 13 storyline was a little too much of an inside joke for me. I didn't like Final Crisis, either. Too many winks at DC politics, and not enough focus on telling a coherent enjoyable story.

    As to Star Wars, I don't want to belabor the point too much, but 4-6 haven't aged very well, and Return of the Jedi is so boring it's almost impossible to sit through.

    1-3 have terrible dialogue, but tremendous design, and some of the best action scenes in any movie ever(the Podrace, the space battle between Kenobi and Fett, any scene with Darth Maul). Also, Hayden Christensen gets a bad rap on account of the clumsy dialogue. He was perfect as Anakin.

    The cartoons are for kids, and pretty clearly designed primarily to introduce characters that will make good action figures. I don't think they should be viewed as adult entertainment.

  7. Hi John,
    Lego Indy 2 for the wii fixes a lot of the problems Indy 1 had (I think largely down to the fact Indy 1 was rushed to meet the Crystal Skull cinema release) and is a much better game overall (although they still need to sort out the vehicle sections of the game).