Five Cool Things and St. Patrick's Day

Cool things this week include Howl's Moving Castle, Snotgirl, the Hulk, and more.
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It seems like every time I write one of these I’m making excuses.  Someone in my family was sick, or I was busy at work, or I was sick, or I only watched bad movies, or my cat was sick.  Sometimes, I’ve had to elicit help from my fellow Sentries.  Sometimes, I’ve scoured the Internet the night before posting looking for something, anything cool.

Well, this week we were all healthy, work was busy but not tragically so and I consumed lots of really cool things. So let's get started.

Planet Hulk

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I’ve always thought Hulk was an uninteresting character.  Dr. Banner is dull, and when he turns into the green monster, I get bored after just a couple of Hulk smashes.  I’ve never read the comic stories but I am old enough to remember the old Incredible Hulk TV show from the late '70s.  My memories of that show are ones of anticipation and disappointment.  Most of the episodes consisted of Banner traveling to a new town and trying to help someone in a desperate situation while simultaneously trying to find a cure to the Hulk.  To my young self. this was incredibly boring and all I wanted was for him to become the Hulk.  Eventually, he always did, but Lou Feririgno was never as impressive as my imagination, and after turning over a car or two and smashing some stuff, I wanted to change the channel.

Because of this, and probably all the bad reviews, I skipped both recent Hulk movies.  I have watched The Avengers movies but continue to feel that Hulk was an uninteresting character and that he’s become ridiculously strong (when he punches that giant worm thing in The Avengers, I audibly groaned).

Ok, you get it.  I don’t like the Hulk. Except now, I kind of do.  Planet Hulk was published in 2006 and it finds Hulk being tricked by The Illuminati into a space shuttle.  Planning to send him to a peaceful planet where he can life life in peace, things go awry when the shuttle passes through a wormhole and instead lands on a hostile planet where Hulk is enslaved and forced to fight in a gladiator spectacle.

I’m not quite done with it but I’ve enjoyed the ride so far.  We get bits and pieces of the Banner/Hulk conflict but mostly its just the Hulk trying to do right by himself and a collection of new friends.  It's making me rethink my feelings on the character and I suspect I’ll be visiting more of him in the comics.

Romanzo Criminale

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I do love me some crime shows. When they are great, there are few things I like better, but even when they are bad, they can be a nice, mindless dose of fun.  The best shows work within the confines of the genre but do something interesting to it.

Romazo Criminale is an Italian show set in Rome during the 1970s.  It charts the rise and fall of a criminal empire.  It's a series that sets up little problems for our anti-heroes to solve episode by episode but that also has a grand scope that pulls out and looks at Rome and its criminal underworld at a particular time in history.  I’m still only a few episodes into the first season but I’m really loving the way it's telling a multi-faceted story with a lot of characters that usually doesn’t go for cheap thrills or easy answers.

Lovers on the Bridge 

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Production for this French drama was apparently very troubled.  Director Leos Caraz secured permission from the Paris authorities to film on the famous Pont-Neuf bridge but production delays caused that permission to expire before most of the film was shot.  They had to rebuild the entire bridge as well as many of the surrounding buildings, causing it to become the most expensive French film ever made at the time.  Star Denis Lavant also broke his leg, causing delay of several months (though I don’t know why as his character has his foot ran over early in the film and he spends the rest of it limping).  Its US release was also delayed because they upped its distribution price just before it was supposed to go international.

Once it was released, it was hit with very mixed reviews.  A great many adored it while just as many called it pretentious trash.  Personally, I rather liked it.  There are a great many flaws, but it takes an interesting look at life on the streets and contains some really fascinating visual flourishes.  Please do come and read my full review.

Howl’s Moving Castle 

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My wife recently read the Diana Wynne Jones book upon which the film is based.  As such, she’s been trying to convince my daughter to watch the film over the last couple of weeks.  Eventually, I realized that she wasn’t interested in watching it because she had no idea what it was.  We’d watched it with her a couple of years ago but two years ago to a five-year-old mind is half a lifetime.  So instead of asking her if she wanted to watch, I just popped it in the DVD player and let it play.

She loved it.  So do I.  The animation is incredibly inventive and interesting.  A lot of the vehicle designs remind me of a child trying to draw ships and planes - unable to draw the realistically they are drawn with oversized features that give the impressions of what they represent while making them otherworldly as well.  Its themes of pacifism, old age, and compassion speak as beautifully now as they did a decade ago.

Snot Girl 

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I’m a big fan of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series.  I also really dug his book Seconds.  When I saw this, his newest monthly series on the bookstore shelf, I bought it without knowing anything else about it.  Honestly, I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it.

It's about Lottie, a 20-something, beautiful, fashion blogger who spends more time making her social media life perfect than she does bothering with her real one.  O’Malley is clearly having fun skewering Millennials and there are some really good jokes in there, but after awhile it grew tiresome.  More intriguing are the things a little more on the sidelines like how Lottie has a new allergy doctor who is prescribing her pills that may be effecting her in very O’Malley ways.  Or the girl who was dead, but maybe isn’t.  There are hints of interesting side stories that may go really wonderful places (or maybe not its too early to tell) that  will keep me reading at least for another few issues.

St. Patrick’s Day

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All over the world people come together on this day to celebrate the man who brought Christianity to Ireland by painting themselves green and drinking themselves stupid. 

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