10 thoughts after a Marvel binge watch


Last week I spent three nights with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Wednesday night I watched Avengers: Infinity War, Thursday was Avengers: Endgame, and Friday night Red and I finally took in Spider-Man: Far From Home.

1. Robert Downey Jr. ought to win Best Actor for his portrayal of Tony Stark. Period, end of conversation, forget about it.

2. Avengers: Endgame ought to win Best Picture, unless Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker turns out even better.

3. That moment in an action thriller when you know the villain is toast and the good guys are about to deliver a whooping? For me, it was when Elizabeth Olson as the Scarlet Witch arrived to face Thanos and said, “You – took – everything – from me.” She only had a few seconds of screentime in Endgame, but it was chillingly awesome, and the ensuing beat-down was wildly satisfying. Continue reading “10 thoughts after a Marvel binge watch”

Adventures in time and imagination

time and imagination

I watched the series finale of Jessica Jones the other day, and it was as satisfying as any series finale I’ve ever seen. After three seasons of angst and despair, our hero had come to terms with her demons and was ready to take on the world. It would be nice to see what happens next, but that might be redundant: The story of her triumph over those demons was complete.

A day later in another venue (my car versus my living room), I finished listening to the audiobook of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. After 135 chapters and an epilogue, Ishmael’s journey also was complete. And in a third venue (my favorite blue chair by the window), I am slightly more than halfway through a book called Fractured Stars by Lindsay Buroker.

The three experiences are similar, in terms of an investment of time. Continue reading “Adventures in time and imagination”

What a Little Mermaid looks like

A happy girl in a mermaid costume lies in the water among the stones on the beach and looks at the mermaid tail. Portrait. Vertical orientation

In my first book, The Imaginary Bomb, I wrote that what the characters looked like was up to you, the reader:

As long as this is a story about the power of imagination, I’m letting you decide what color Bob and Pete’s hair and eyes are, or how tall they are, or the shape of their chins. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for the movie — and even then it’ll be the casting director’s opinion of what these guys should look like.

I thought about that passage as I read some of the reactions to the announcement that Halle Bailey has been cast to play the part of Ariel in Disney’s live-action remake of the animated film The Little Mermaid. Continue reading “What a Little Mermaid looks like”

Screenings: Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones Season 3

I think it was George Reeves and The Adventures of Superman who got me hooked on superhero adventures, and it was definitely Amazing Spider-Man #4 that put me over the edge.

Detective stories came later. Sit me down with a good Harry Bosch novel and I’m in heaven. If we’re looking for something new to watch on the telly, I’ll browse through the procedurals first.

I never heard of the comic book Alias until a few years back when Netflix announced that Jessica Jones was going to be one of its four Marvel superheroes series – but a hard-boiled detective who has superpowers and is played by Jesse Pinkman’s sultry girlfriend from Breaking Bad? Talk about cross-pollinating my favorite genres – I was in before I saw minute one. Continue reading “Screenings: Jessica Jones”

Screenings: Godzilla King of the Monsters

godzilla king of the monsters

The folks behind the 2014 American film Godzilla and 2017’s Kong: Skull Island have brought forward Godzilla: King of the Monsters, a rousing monster fest that adds Gidorah, Rodan and Mothra – among others – to their ongoing interpretation of the long-popular Japanese kaiju movies.

It’s good to see these old friends and adversaries of the giant fire lizard reinvented for a new generation. This is a faster-paced and dynamic followup to the 2014 entry, which I still consider the second-best Godzilla movie I’ve ever seen. (There is a kaiju-sized spot in my heart for the 1954 Japanese classic that started all of this, Gojira.) The new film punches all the buttons required to satisfy fans not just of this genre but of summer blockbusters in general. Continue reading “Screenings: Godzilla King of the Monsters”

Screenings: Casablanca


Of my three very favorite movies, Casablanca is the most memorable of my group experiences. The Wizard of Oz was a sitting-around-the-TV family experience, and It’s a Wonderful Life was a solitary Christmas-Eve-alone experience, but I saw Casablanca in the Todd Wehr Hall lecture room at Ripon College with more than 100 other students who had never seen it before, this being the early 1970s when seeing a movie from 1942 was a rare and exotic thing. Continue reading “Screenings: Casablanca”

Screenings: Shin Godzilla

Shin Godzilla

With the imminent release of Godzilla: King of the Monsters next week, I thought I’d revisit the brilliant film produced a couple of years ago by the folks who started all this in the first place, Toho Studios.

A giant sea creature is burrowing up a crowded urban river, tossing boats aside like confetti and generally killing and maiming everyone in its path.

The government calls a meeting. And there, everyone considers forming a committee, which decides to build a coalition, which discusses creating a task force that will develop a report. All along, interchangeable faces earnestly debate the options regarding what should be done. After all this talking about talking about what the government needs to do about the crisis, when the time comes to act or die, no one can make a decision. Continue reading “Screenings: Shin Godzilla”