Wednesday, February 13, 2008

NOW we're talkin'

I had heard nothing about this particular Batman fan film till tonight, but one look at Patrick Thistle's Deadlock and I'm sold.
Why? Let me count the ways:
*actual film, not a teaser or trailer for something that may never get made
*cast of grownups, not a bunch of well-meaning kids (nothing wrong with kids making movies, but I start to feel uncomfortable if I am more than 30 years older than the main character, for several reasons)
*compelling storyline that totally works with my understanding of the Bat
*feels a bit like one of the Batman: Black & White stories--simple, direct, illuminating
*genuinely holds my interest--I wondered how our hero was going to get out of the deathtrap
*you heard me: deathtrap! deathtrap, deathtrap, deathtrap! at last!
*very nice soundtrack, full of industrial/electronic noise (NIN, Aphex Twin, etc.), all used quite effectively
*solid performances by the actors (who double as producer, director, and crew) who play Batman and the Riddler
*one word: bat-stubble!

The sound is a bit hard to make out (allow me to recommend headphones), but that kinda works--the setting is claustrophobic and the film is grainy and it all feels just right. It's shot on a low budget, but then so are some of the most interesting films ever made.

But why take my word for it? Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Deadlock, parts one...

... and two ...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sympathy for the Devil

Tonight's interview with Stanford Psychology professor (emeritus) Philip Zimbardo on The Colbert Report reminds me that maybe one day I should actually read his latest book, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, if I ever want to think seriously about the notion of "heroes" and "villains."

I meant to write about Zimbardo here when I first watched this recent documentary about his infamous Stanford Prison Experiments among other "Human Behavior Experiments" demonstrating how ordinary people can be prompted to do extraordinarily awful things to each other. Never quite got around to that--but it turns out those two programs are merely the tip of the media iceberg. (Lots more TV and print appearances are catalogued here.)

I see, too, that Zimbardo is quite the master packager of himself--in addition to the site for the book, he's got a snazzy little home page and another devoted to the prison experiments, complete with slide show and discussion points. One such note does a nice job of decoding one of my favorite bits of police fetishism: "Consider the police procedures which make arrestees feel confused, fearful, and dehumanized. Note that this policeman is wearing sunglasses just like those we had our 'guards' wear and as did the head of the National Guards at Attica Prison during its bloody 1971 riot!"

Friday, February 01, 2008

Hours of fun

"The world does not need another site that makes fun of comic books; there are many, and they are much more complete and exhaustive than this one. Who cares? It’s the internet. There’s room for all!"

That's the raison d'etre of Funny Books: Dubious Moments in Comic History, which is loaded with classic covers like this:

and this:

Of course, for a spandex/deathtrap fetishist like moi, the images are a treat in themselves, but you won't want to miss webmaster James Lileks' high-larious captions/commentaries, like this and this. (Love the reference to Hal's "stupid-sexy-flanders-butt ... but that's inevitable when you're in good shape and wear underwear about in public.") Believe me, it's hard to pick just two examples from this "almost infinite amount of Superman-related crap, bad sci-fi, junky TV-show tie-ins, and the rest of the endless drecktitude."

Only downside: no easy way to navigate through the innards of the site; as far as I can tell, your only options are to start with the earliest or the latest post, which is a bit of a pain on repeat visits, or when you want to skip to a particular title or character. But hey: if you're visiting this particular corner of the blogosphere, you're probably not in any particular hurry to cure cancer or save the world.

Oh, and if you have the same soft spot for this stuff that I do, then you'll want to check out the other related mini-sites collected under one roof as "the Institute of Official Cheer."

I confess

I could swear I've written about the documentary Confessions of a Superhero here already, but I'll be damned if I want to track down the post to be sure. Still haven't seen it, but this intriguing review of the film reminds me it's out there, and on DVD now to boot.

Crystal meth, mob ties, incarceration...

... and that's just Batman.

(Pssst: more nice photos and some video clips on the official site; see link above.)