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June 18th, 2014 by Rick Marshall · 1 Comment ·
The movie Snowpiercer arrives in theaters this weekend, and it looks like the best post-apocalyptic adventure set aboard a high-speed train based on a French graphic novel that Hollywood has given us so far. (Or ever.)
All joking aside, the film’s debut offers a great chance to get acquainted with some of the fantastic graphic novels that have been published outside the U.S. — especially the sort that appeal to cinephiles who dig the cool comics. So with that in mind, I devoted this week’s “Geek Beat” column to calling out some comics that fit that description.
Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba (w) and Takeshi Obata (a)
What would you do if you had a notebook that caused anyone whose name you write in it to die? That’s the question that’s explored in this Japanese manga series that sold more than 26.5 million books during its three-year run. The series tells the story of a teenage genius who comes into possession of the “Death Note” and the eccentric, equally brilliant detective tasked with bringing down this mysterious killer with godlike powers.
Anyone familiar with Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning 2006 film The Departed (or the 2002 thriller Infernal Affairs that it’s based on) will probably find some tonal similarities with Death Note, as both the film and the manga series focus on a pair of exceptionally smart characters on opposite sides of the law whose lives depend on discovering their counterpart’s identity before he does the same.
Death Note managed to capitalize on all of its success in print with a series of video games, an anime, and three live-action films – the first of which remained at the top of the Japanese box office for several weeks (you can watch the trailer below). It also prompted Warner Bros. to pick up the rights to an American adaptation of the story with Iron Man 3‘s Shane Black attached as director in 2011.
You can watch the Englishtrailer for the live-action Death Note below, and you can read the rest of the column at Movies.com.
June 15th, 2014 by Rick Marshall · 3 Comments ·
This is my second Father’s Day as a parent, but it’s my first with a full year of experience as my daughter’s primary caregiver during the week. Being a dad in a role that many people still expect a mom to fill has been a fantastic and rewarding experience, but it hasn’t been without a few frustrations unique to being a full-time father.
With that in mind, here are a few things that would make great Father’s Day gifts for all of us dads:
1. Stop calling it “babysitting” when we’re taking care of our kids.
A father taking care of his child isn’t babysitting. He’s parenting — just like a mother is doing when she’s out with her kids. To imply that dads have as much investment in their child as a teenager you pay to prevent your kid from burning the house down or painting the dog is insulting to every dad who strives to share the responsibility of parenthood. If you wouldn’t think of suggesting that a mother is “babysitting” her children, don’t jokingly ask a father how he got stuck babysitting today.
2. Do better by dads, media.
The percentage of fathers who opt to be the primary caregiver for their children is rising, and it’s probably higher than you realize right now. (It was 32% of married dads in 2011!) One of the main reasons there’s so little awareness of this trend is because dads still can’t catch a break when it comes to the news. In the same way that news organizations can’t stay away from lazy, stereotype-driven headlines like “Pow! Zap! Comics Aren’t For Kids Anymore!” when covering anything related to comic books, most media outlets are shocked (shocked!) that a father could be interested in and even quite good at this parenting thing.
Want some easy evidence of this? Next time you visit the family doctor or pediatrician, take a look through the stack of magazines in the waiting room. It’s easier to find Waldo with your eyes closed than to find a magazine cover featuring a father and his child. (I’m looking at you, Parenting Magazine.)
3. Can we come up with better terminology?
I’ve never been a big fan of the term “stay-at-home dad,” because I try to do anything but stay at home with my daughter during the day, and I know the same goes for most mothers who spend the weekdays with their children. Even so, I know there are some titles (*cough* Washington Redskins *cough*) that are probably a little more in need of a cultural reboot than “stay-at-home mom/dad.” So I grudgingly accept “stay-at-home dad” as a remnant of a time when mothers who held professional careers were becoming more prevalent and society wanted a term for moms who continued in a more traditional role.
I don’t like the term, but I understand it. And I think we can do better.
As for “Mr. Mom,” well… Try telling a career-oriented mother that you think she does a fine job of being “Mrs. Daddy” and let me know how that goes for you.
And that brings me to my next Father’s Day request…
4. Find a new angle on fatherhood, Hollywood.
If I had a nickel for every movie or television dad who was completely lost and inept when it came to taking care of his children, I’d have my daughter’s college tuition paid in full before she attends her first day of preschool. I know a lot of people who complain about the lack of strong female role models in Hollywood (and it’s something I’ve become more acutely aware of since my daughter came along), but you know what’s even more rare to find on the screen? Intelligent, responsible father figures who serve as the primary caregiver for their children not because of some (often tragic) scenario that forced the role upon them, but because that’s just the way it is in their family.
And last, but certainly not least…
5. Stop the Mommy Wars.
This might seem like an odd request for Father’s Day, but it will go a long way toward making the lives of fathers — and moms, non-parents, and everyone else, for that matter — a little easier, healthier, and generally better all around.
Moms, stop fighting about whether cloth or disposable diapers make you a better parent. The same goes for organic versus processed baby foods, Caesarian or vaginal births, or any number of other hot-button issues that seem to make mommy blogs and Facebook groups the best places to go when mothers want to feel bad about their parenting. Everyone knows that when mom feels bad, dad feels bad (or other-mom feels bad), and the same goes for the kids. That’s how families work. And whether you’re an adherent to attachment parenting, free-range parenting, or my personal preference, the CTFD method, as long as you’re raising a happy, healthy child, that’s all that matters.
So hey, Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there who are doing the best they can despite all of the annoying, unnecessary, and counter-productive aspects of being a full-time father. You’re doing a fine job, dad.
June 11th, 2014 by Rick Marshall · No Comments ·
In this week’s “Geek Beat” column, I explain why the recent news of Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright parting ways with the Ant-Man movie didn’t make me angry, sad, or frustrated like it did many of my peers and colleagues.
It actually made me kind of happy.
Here’s an excerpt from the column:
While the news of Wright cutting ties with Ant-Man set nearly everyone I know to gnashing their teeth and doing their most anguished, fists-in-air “NoooOOOoooOOO!” I couldn’t help feeling like a weight had finally been lifted from the project. It’s not that Wright’s presence was a burden on Ant-Man, though. The real anchor dragging everything down had become the obligation to make the project known as “Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man” after so many years of hype, speculation and discussion.
So, when Wright and Marvel finally decided to part ways (citing creative differences), I couldn’t help seeing it as both parties regaining the freedom to get back to doing what they do best.
To stretch that human-relationship analogue a little further, the last few years of Ant-Man drama felt like watching two friends who are wonderful people individually discover that they are completely dysfunctional together. And when they finally decide to stop being a couple you feel bad for them, but you know deep down that they’re better off this way. (But you don’t tell them that, of course.)
You can read the rest of the column at Movies.com.