Archive for July, 2013

Wunderstudies

July 5, 2013

Wunderstudies: Open mouths, big hearts, full of song (L to R- Brett Goodnack, Ayne Terceira, Dan Derks, Tessa Karel, Anna Gilchrist, Keara Kelly) Not pictured- Nathan Ratliff, Brett Bavar, Stephen Gottschalk

True story: Wunderstudies was my first experience with musical improv. My friend Andrea turned to me before the show and said, “You don’t strike me as a musical kind of guy.” “Wait, this a musical?” I replied, and I steeled myself for the show. But lo and behold, it was wonderful. Ayne Terceira performed a character I recall having the name Die Hard and the show was exuberant and joyous. The songs sounded like real tunes, written and rehearsed. And of course the improv was stellar, supportive and hilarious. That show has remained the benchmark for all the musical improv I have watched ever since. The team is basically all top notch improv ringers, and it is no surprise that every Wunderstudies show I have made it to since has been full of great performances and wunderful songs(I’m sorry, I had to do it!). While I am saddened to hear that after two years together the group is ending(and even sadder that I won’t be able to see this last show), what a run they have had. Did you see that show they did about dogs? INCREDIBLE DOG WORK, BRETT GOODNACK! Stay wunderful, every last one of you. (OH LORD I DID IT AGAIN)

If you are in Pittsburgh, see off this fantastic team at 8pm tonight, Friday July 5th, at the Steel City Improv Theater, 5950 Ellsworth Ave.

Man of Steel

July 2, 2013

I realized about 10 minutes into Sucker Punch that Zack Snyder is my dude for life and I just had to get over myself and let him in. People hate Sucker Punch so much but that train action sequence is some hall of fame one take awesomeness(in the truest sense of the word) and the rest of the movie is just overreaching but it means well. Could my dude have done more to not set his female empowerment movie in a world of rape, abuse, and prostitution? Sure. But he didn’t know any better. I could say the same for Zack’s work on Man of Steel. Could it have been more thoughtful and bright? SURE. Zack wants to make you happy, and he heard you hated Superman Returns for being a fucking bore where Superman spent 5 minutes lifting planes and 135 minutes staring at his child through a wall. So he gave you a movie where Superman levels a goddamn city. Like Superman, Zack Snyder doesn’t always know his own strength.

Snyder was hand picked by Christopher Nolan himself to make this one. The internet loves themselves some Nolan but I’m fine about him. I can respect Inception but that whole fucking movie is also exposition though shouts to the elevator sequence and JGL flipping and flopping like the pro he is. I like his Batman movies but I don’t think Batman Begins has aged too well and The Dark Knight Rises was hindered by the same choppy fight scenes that Nolan always has in his movies. BUT, I’m fine with Chris Nolan. Like everyone else, I ride for Dark Knight. Oh, Insomnia was solid.

“You’re killing it, kid.” “I’m actually older than you, Chris.”

Man of Steel switches up from the get go by showing us Krypton before it exploded and letting us know that Superman’s dad was balling out of control. Right now Russell Crowe is straight killing it in everything I see him in, and Man of Steel is no exception. Riding winged wilderbeasts, jumping off cliffs, straight baller shit that you always assumed your dad did before you were born. Match this one up with his scene stealing run in The Man With The Iron Fists and Russell Crowe is having a great second act of a career. Now he just needs to show up in a Tarantino and rip someone’s eyeballs out while talking about how great Isaac Hayes was in Truck Turner(much love to the hospital shootout in Truck Turner).

Kevin Goddamn Costner on fire as Jonathan Kent. Seriously, that halting self importance is utterly perfect here. First he’s telling little Superman that he should have let a bus full of kids die(true) and later he has probably a top ten all time death scene. I know I engage in plenty of hyperbole but when ol’ Kevin put his hand up my damn jaw dropped. “It’s cool, son. One day you’ll level Metropolis. Let me get killed by a tornado.” Diane Lane does good work as Martha Kent, even taking a choke slam from Zod. I don’t want all of Superman’s parents to have brutal deaths but if Zod had, I dunno, thrown her into space or something, Superman would have a veritable hattrick of insane parent deaths. (Superman’s real mom is consumed by the fires of an exploding Krypton, which she confronts like a boss.)

Henry Cavill is fine as Superman, you guys. If he was trying to be funny and charming and failing I MIGHT see your point but this Superman is serious and conflicted and smoldering and Cavill has that shit down. It’s 2013, Nolan and Snyder cast for fuckability, and ladies want to mount Henry Cavill. It was a little on the nose to have someone in the movie say as much but also it is 2013 and not at all surprising to have a big budget motion picture assume the audience isn’t picking up what it is putting down. In this case it is putting Superman’s sack on your chin. Does he have a ton of chemistry with Amy Adams? Maybe not. In this iteration Lois Lane doesn’t really seem like a lady on the prowl, just a reporter looking for a story and willing to do some sneaky shit to get away with it. Good luck tricking Lois Lane, everybody. She will get by you and you will be so mad but still let her keep her job and fly on the secret jet holding the only weapon that can stop the bad guys.

Mad props to Michael Shannon who decided to not evoke Terence Stamp’s Zod at all and just be sad and pissed off Michael Shannon. He just wants to wipe out the planet Earth of all humans and animals and replace it with Kryptonian shit he grew up with. Why won’t you let him just live his genocidal dream? Shannon never cries but he is clearly bummed out about all this.

The two big action sequences are NUTS. Smallville? Cinder. Metropolis? A pile of glass and cement. Let us be real: if Superman is going to fight other super people the resulting damage is going to be excessive. I understand the handwringing by some Superman purists that Supes should have taken the battles away from populated areas, which is totally true. Completely irresponsible! That said, battles in unpopulated areas are low budget movie moves. If you have the budget to level a city with actual people in it, you do it. Leave the empty warehouses and wide fields to Asylum and DTV. That isn’t really a defense but the shit looked great. And isn’t insane collateral damage a touchstone of comic book battles? Joss Whedon originally had a whole section of Avengers dealing with the damage fallout and he scrapped it because what a downer! “How was the movie?” “I didn’t like the part with the lawyers and the rebuilding.” Shouts to the first 45 minutes of Avengers that kinda suck.

The other controversy surrounding this movie concerns the scene where Superman thrashes Zod all over the city trying to kill him and then kills him. “I can’t believe he killed the guy whose face he smashed through a hundred windows!” Superman had to kill this guy, he was trying to terraform the Earth into Krypton! Afterwords Superman is really bummed about it, as anyone would be after killing someone. Then he talks to his mom and gets a job.

In closing, Man of Steel is the best Superman movie ever made where Kevin Costner gets killed by a tornado and someone keeps a portable version of Russell Crowe on a flash drive. Zack Snyder is already writing a scene in Man of Steel 2 where Superman kicks the moon into Brainiac’s house.