Friday, January 23, 2009

Camera Obscura: Anime, Kung-Fu, Texas Hold Em and Werner Herzog

Actor Keanu Reeves will leap into anime if his current project continues to move forward -- the project being a live action version of the anime series "Cowboy Bebop" with Reeves starring as the laconic hero Spike Spiegel.

Urf. This is not really happy news. I was hoping for another animated feature from the series which ran for 26 episodes in 1998. The story is set in a science fiction world of bounty hunters, but the real pleasure came from the characters and their failures and successes - and the arc of the story is rather non-linear and goofy, an anti-action tale with anti-heroes, a genius dog named Einstein and a computer whiz child named Ed. It's oddity is endearing, but I truly doubt Hollywood can do anything at all worthy of the time and money they'll throw at this.

Do yourself a favor and watch the original series, the one feature they made and be happy with that perfection.

Hollywood sort of flirts with animation and comic book tales - especially if they make money. Does that mean the just-announced Oscar nominations for Heath Ledger as The Joker, and the other nominations for "The Dark Knight" will actually earn the award itself? (Oh boy, here I go on comics again. Fanboy rants and raves about comic books are akin to those tedious scenes in "High Fidelity" where the characters talk about music and records. It's full-blown nerdiness.)

Here's what I know - Ledger's performance was surely one of the best I saw all year. And with Hugh "Wolverine" Jackman hosting this year's awards, maybe the comic book is finally --- naw, Hollywood loves money first and last. (Though Oscar does love tragedy, such as Ledger's untimely death last year.)


Via the pages of Topless Robot (a blog about toys and nerds which is on my daily must-read list) we get the new trailer for a kung-fu movie called "Chocolate". It is absolutely my kind of Valentine's Day flick:


Texas Hold-Em poker has never been more popular - and a raft of comedians get a chance to create a mock tournament improv movie in the often-hilarious "The Grand". The cast includes a grizzled Gabe Kaplan (who is a bona fide player on the poker circuit these days) as a deranged dad of two in the movie, and former SNL player Chris Parnell, a math genius player who also hurls insults culled from books like "Dune" at the other players. The movie is a broad and scattershot work, but has tons of funny performances and crazy moments -- Michael McKean recalling how he lost his hearing after he swam into a school of Man of War jellyfish, for example.

The real jewel in this movie, the one that makes it an underground classic, is director Werner Herzog, who plays a cruel contestant, known only as "The German". Herzog and "Grand" director Zak Penn have worked together before in also hilarious mockumentary "The Loch Ness Incident". Check out all the familiar faces in the trailer:

Let's talk horror movies -- or rather horror movie music.

Blogger rhsmith at The Movie Morlocks blog from Turner Classic Movies gives us the rundown on some hefty collections of music from horror movies from days long past and has an encyclopedic knowledge of all kinds of spooky music and how said music landed on vinyl.

Read his full post here.

Smith also has a great list of pop music used in the movies in highly original ways. It's a trend I go for too - often bringing whole new legions of fame to old (or new) pop songs. Like the way the song "Mad World" infects everything in the movie "Donny Darko."

Smith offers a list of his favorites in this post, a collection of tunes and movies which is easily as nerdly as the above mentioned discussions of comic books. Read his list of favorites here.


  1. James8:59 AM

    After seeing "The Day The Earth Stood Still" I don't hold much hope for Reeves.Maybe Mark Walburg ? As you may have guessed I am a comics and anime junkie.Speaking of anime, know.

  2. have you seen julien donkey-boy? there are some genius herzog moments in that one!

  3. julien donkey-boy is one of two Harmony Korine movies with Herzog. Harmony really likes Herzog. I do too. I also highly recommend The Loch Ness Incident, too. Herzog is having a blast.
    And yep, anything with or by Herzog is must-see viewing.