Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lost in the stacks. (Reset)

I love comic books. I've been collecting for roughly the last decade. However, I'm not drawn toward traditional titles. Somehow, I gravitate toward limited-run titles. These comics, more often than not, fall through the cracks and are forgotten, lost to time. This column aims to shine a light on these titles and, hopefully, make them some new fans...or draw out the old ones.

I'm sure that, every so often, we wonder how our lives would've turned out if we handled a particular situation a little differently. "What if I stayed in this city a little longer?". "What if I kissed that girl?". "What if I took that job?". I could go on for an untold number of paragraphs about what I'd do, but thankfully, this story isn't about me.

Once upon a time, Guy Krause was on top of the world as a fairly successful stand-up comic and actor. Nowadays, if you look up 'bitter' in the dictionary, you'll likely find his picture, professional and personal setbacks leaving him a deeply cynical shell. One day, he's approached by researcher Angela Minor, who offers him an unusual opportunity: taking part in a virtual reality experiment. Highly skeptical, but in dire need of capital, Guy agrees, but can he handle what awaits him?

Much like the new movie Looper, "Reset" starts marvelously, immersing us in an unusual but fascinating premise (with time travel figuring in heavily) and forcing us to ask ourselves, 'What if it were me in this scenario?', and there are some fun moments as Guy's prickly (in more ways than one) personality conflicts with the professional attitudes of Angela and her assistant Ted. Also good are the scenes of teenaged Guy trying to alter the course of his life via the machine.

However, the comic's ultimate failing, as far as I'm concerned, can be summed up in two words: 'conspiracy bullshit'. As it turns out, Angie has been contracted by the government that desires to use the machine for - dun-dun-dunnnn! - sinister purposes. And these are...what? What are the purposes? Why is Guy so important to the testing of the machine? Moreover, are we really supposed to care?

Unlike Looper, which moved away from the intriguing premise, only to die on its feet, the non-premise scenes in the later issues end up pretty entertaining. The experiment encourages Guy to look up classmate Gail Malone and their scenes together are some of the best of the book.

One of the more interesting aspects is the fact that the series is in black in white. Though owing more than a little to R. Crumb, Peter Bagge's artwork is striking. (And with the language and moments of frontal nudity...and all that that implies, "Reset" feels quite Crumb-like in its execution.)

If you find the premise intriguing or if you have an affinity for black-and-white comics, you might enjoy "Reset". Not the smoothest of rides, but still entertaining.

Grade: B

Availability: Pressed by Dark Horse Comics, it should still be available from most outlets.


Thursday, October 25, 2012


With all the remakes, reboots, sequels, prequels, ripoffs and other synonyms for 'we've run out of ideas', I'm sure that (through Stockholm Syndrome) most people have concocted a list of stuff that they'd happily do-over (wait, there's another one!). Here is my short list:

The One - Don't remember this? FX shows it every other week, but, for those who don't a) have cable or b) care to recall it, here's the scoop: there are several universes. Yulaw (Jet Li) has been jumping from universe to universe, killing different versions of himself and absorbing their power. His last stop is our universe, where our version of him, Gabe, is now just as powerful. I don't know. Maybe, I'm hung up on the 'various universes' aspect, but we only get a tiny glimpse of them. I'm not saying it needs to be a trilogy or anything, but this idea deserves better than a second-rate Jet Li movie.

Danny Phantom - Teenager becomes half-ghost and must fight the ghosts wreaking havoc on his hometown. Neat idea, and there were some good episodes scattered about. However, my main problem with this show was that, in an era of cartoons that happily sacrificed character believability for the sake of humor ("Kim Possible", "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends"), "Danny Phantom" may well have been the most egregious. It wouldn't have mattered so much if the humor were, well, humorous. Sadly, no. There are a handful of American cartoons that, for better or worse, were appropriated by the Japanese ("Lilo and Stitch", "The Powerpuff Girls"). Take the basic gist of this show and filter it through the lushness and imagination of anime, and we could have something truly astonishing.

Looper - "Too soon!", you may say. I say, it's not. You know the story: in the future, time travel has been invented, but it's illegal and used by the mob to get rid of any problems. People are sent back thirty years and killed by special assassins called 'loopers'. The only rule - never let your target escape, even when your target is you. My version of this movie would be a gas: here, we stay with the whole looping aspect and, believe you me, I'll be very careful not to wish my movie into a fucking cane field, unlike some people I could name.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Clubbed over the head.

In a turnabout so stunning to film music fans, you'd half expect to get an e-mail saying that it wasn't a real announcement with the signature '-ak.' (I don't watch MTV. Is getting "Punk'd" still a thing? Who cares?), Varese Sarabande's CD Club has announced its latest batch of titles...and they're, pretty much, uniformly awesome. What is this, 2006? Let's take a look:

Man on Fire - Best known to most people as the finale music in Die Hard, this John Scott score features a lush, beautiful main theme (yeah, what Scott score doesn't?). I'm definitely getting this.

The Boy Who Could Fly - One of the rare non-Intrada releases of a Bruce Broughton score. This was released a long time ago on LP (at the time of the film, just like Man on Fire) and is getting a second life thanks to the label's Encore sub-division. I'm getting this, too.

Enemy Mine: the Deluxe Edition - In the 80s, Maurice Jarre divided between lush orchestral scores and electronic-based efforts. For this film, Jarre melded the two approaches. Some great music here, though at 1500 copies, I doubt I'll have much time to think about getting it.

The Red Pony - A world-premiere release of a Jerry Goldsmith score to the 1973 telefilm (and his first Emmy win). Never heard this music. Maybe, it'll stick around.

Die Hard 2: the Deluxe Edition - The complete release of Michael Kamen's sequel score. Haven't seen the film in a while, so I'm not completely sure if this is a must-get. (Funny story: the La La Land release of the score to the first movie sold out in a matter of days. A few months back, I managed to snag a copy...for the original price of $29.99. Buysoundtrax, why must you be so helpful and so frustrating in equal measure?)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"You're 32 years old and you've achieved nothing. Jesus Christ was dead and alive again by 33. You better get crackin'." - Jim Byrd (George Clooney) in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
Putting aside the insane standard to live up to, there is wisdom in that line. (I'm 31 and a half, but if you round up, it still totally applies.)

What have I achieved in my life? Two college degrees, no jail time, a body free of bullet wounds and debilitating disease, a massive soundtrack collection, managing not to get fired from any of my jobs. Sure. But what have I done in life? What will my legacy be? There are quite a few documents online that bear my real name (Wentworth J. Whistlestop*, by the way), but, in real life, how will people remember me?

Most likely as that Black guy who never said much (unless you catch me in a bad mood at work, then you'll remember me as the sarcastic Black guy with a bad attitude; as insane as it sounds, those people may hate me, but they will remember me).

I'd like to be remembered as someone who wrote a movie, if I could get off my ass and get the final steps taken to finish my scripts. I have a lot of blog posts sitting on my dashboard and I figure that that's a strong metaphor for my life. I start on something, then I lost interest and move on to something else, until I lose interest in that and go on to yet another thing and if I'm lucky, I move on to the first thing I started and get close to finishing that.

There's not much more for me to say (mainly because I think I've forgotten what it was), but I should probably get crackin'.

* - Of course, this isn't my real name.