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The Nightly News

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The Nightly News

by Jonathan Hickman

Jonathan Hickman is so new to the industry that his biography in The Nightly News cites issues of The Nightly News. But Jonathan Hickman is not a new babe, mewing and he scratching at little projects before he develops voice or style. With the Nightly News, he fires at full speed with energetic storytelling and a graphic art style that challenges and rewards on each viewing, making Hickman one of the most interesting new voices in Comics.

The Nightly News follows John Guyton, a man falsely accused and ruined by the Media, who joins an underground cult following the unseen Voice. Their mission: to attack the media head-on with the style and grace of guerilla anarchists armed with bombs, sniper-rifles and a plan. To punish the six most powerful news media conglomerates in America for destroying their lives.

The Cult of the Voice is a crazy, dangerous cult that you can’t identify with, but you’re not supposed to. They aren’t anti-heroes prone to posing with cool gadgets and absolutist philosophical beliefs about freedom and justice. They’re pissed off crazy people with guns and a plan that comes to them via cassette tape. The narrative doesn’t pass judgment on them, the same as it doesn’t pass judgment on the journalists or leaders of industry, like you don’t when you watch a high octane action thriller – when the hero is taking the law into his own hands and warps justice for the entertainment value.

It is perfect that The Nightly News vaults into the story with a first chapter titled: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” which should drag back the memories of Howard Beale of Network, screaming of the power and corruptive force of all media and the powerlessness of the individual. The Nightly News is more than a spiritual successor, using infographics (which he acknowledges you can either ignore and continue with the story or absorb some facts) to show us that we are in Howard Beale’s nightmare. Our media mainstream media is owned by six conglomerates and it is growing uniquely independent from fact checking and accountability. Lives are ruined by the news, more than a few don’t deserve it.

The Nightly News is a voice telling you how to live your life. It’s not a manual to change the world and it certainly doesn’t advocate violence or bloody coups in industry. It’s not a call to arms. It’s a story that touches on how easy it is to fall into camps with the media. Operating with the News and you sell your voice to unchecked corporations that will lie and cheat and destroy without recourse. Operate outside of the news and be careful who you follow, as one of more groups may steal your voice and replace it with their own. So the Nightly News exists, as Howard Beale once did, warning you, sincerely, to look at who you’re listening to, or have your Voice stolen.

– Timothy Legion

– Timothy Legion is not presently read, looked to or admired. He created a newspaper (pamphlet) at his University that is fondly remembered by six people. He has not won any awards or been considered for nominations. He is wrist-deep in the Third Year of his self-imposed GLORIOUS FIVE YEAR PLAN.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

March 19, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Posted in crime, political, thriller

Tagged with , ,

Night of the Hunter

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Night of the Hunter

“What religion do you profess, preacher?”

“The religion the Almighty and me worked out betwixt us.”

And so we learn the nature of one peculiar man of God and his relationship with the almighty that should strike fear into all those whom have sinned before his eyes.

Night of the Hunter presents preacher Harry Powel (Robert Mitchum), a refined southern gentleman of the cloth who has been leaving a long trail of dead ‘sinners’ in his wake. Rather than remain inconspicuous and stealthy as a common killer would, Powel has assumed the persona of a traveling evangelical preacher. A charming and compelling man, he is always eager preach the good word and to tell all those around him the story of ‘Right Hand, Left Hand. Good and Evil’. Tattooed on Powel’s hands are the words ‘love’ and ‘hate’, and the battle between the two is always a real crowd pleaser. It was with the left hand that Cain struck the blow that laid his brother low. H-A-T-E. However, the right hand has veins that go straight to the soul of man. L-O-V-E.

On the search for ten thousand dollars a former cell mate hid from the police, Powel finds his newest prey in widow Willa Harper (Shelley Winters), the widow of his aforementioned cell mate. Doing away with the husband was easy business, seeing as how the state took care of the killing for him but finding the money and outwitting Willa’s two cunning children prove to be more of a challenge than he predicted.

The idea of a movie monster is classically personified by your standard boogie men like Jason Voorhees, the Wolfman, and Freddy Kruger. Beasts and ghouls who violently kill without remorse or compassion. Then there are your more cerebral movie monsters. Characters who still kill without mercy, but fill every scene there are in with a state of discomfort and unrest, and not just at the sight of seeing them kill. Jaws. Anton Chigurh. Heath Ledger’s Joker. These villains only have to show up on screen and the audience is on the edge of their seats. Harry Powel could probably count the number of people he has killed on both of his tattooed hands. His only weapon is a tiny switchblade. Yet still, every time he is alone with another character, be it man, woman, or child, you always feel like he is moments away from doing something horrible. It is the subtle implication of murders yet to happen that makes the film so chilling. All that is needed is the idea and the audience fills in the rest.

Most unsettling about the film and this character is the fact that this is not your ordinary killer. This is a man of God. A good man, and an upright citizen. Certainly in Powel’s mind, a monster he is not, though he is a killer all the same. In fact, Powel may be the most morally incorruptible murderer in film history. Even after convincing Willa to marry him, he refuses to consummate their marriage. “The female body was made for begettin’ children and not for the lust of men,” he says. Perhaps it is his inflated sense of divinity, but Powel has deemed himself an eradicator of sin, never a perpetrator. He is the twisted and broken manifestation of all those stories of the Bible that we all assumed could never be used to justify something as horrible as murder, but to Powel, it is only natural to deduce such things from scripture. God, you see, does not mind the killings. His book is full of them.

One man and God worked out a religion between them. One where the rules apply only to those who had a hand in crafting it. The rest of us need only be told where we stand, and woe is he who challenges the preacher of such evangel. You know you’re in trouble if God is on the other side of that blade and on his hand are the letters that spell your fate. H-A-T-E.

– J.D. Renaud

J.D. Renaud has no formal education in film, but that is more than evident upon meeting and/or seeing him. A purveyor of all things eccentric, he prides himself on being a guinea pig test subject for any new form of media he is given. He currently lives in Winnipeg Manitoba with his go-go dancer roommate.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 27, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Posted in crime, thriller

Rear Window

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Rear Window

Hitchcock films get a bad reputation in many “modern” circles. His work often ignored as the iconic imagery has been replayed so often in satires and homages that the plot seems familiar, as though we’ve already seen it. Or the films are challenged as being formulaic or un-adventurous by today’s standards. But Hitchcock built the formulas and the iconic imagery never gives away the film. So as many times as it feels like you’ve seen Rear Window, it plays fresh, drawing you in wordlessly as you spy on L.B. before you begin spying on the neighbours.

REAR WINDOW is a film about paranoia and the morbid curiosity that strings out of boredom, where the slightest bits of evidence become the grandest accusations. L.B. Jefferies (James Stewart), an action photographer in his last week recuperating with a broken leg in a cast, is confined to his wheelchair, his only hobby watching the neighbours between visits from girlfriend Lisa Freemont (Grace Kelly) and his sassy nurse. As the hot summer days roll on, L.B. notices the absence of a salesman’s bed-ridden wife and suspicious behaviour from the salesman. Taking a closer look, his paranoia grows: The salesman, he concludes, murdered his wife and has disappeared her body.

With a stationary set, like L.B. you never leave the room, looking out the window with him and listening to every minute detail of his paranoid fantasy. In the beginning you have your doubts. Soon, it doesn’t matter if he’s right or wrong – something’s gone wrong in that apartment. For every piece of evidence to contradict the theory, the idea festers and becomes more suggestive. The question of “Did he kill his wife?” becomes “How did he do it?” and “How can L.B. prove it?”

So the paranoia festers as L.B. involves an old detective friend who is more than happy to find a reasonable explanation for the events and sweep them comfortably out of L.B.’s mind. But L.B. won’t let go, bringing Lisa and his Nurse into his peeping, all three of them sitting in the dark looking across the way with binoculars and a large lenses camera.

When paranoia crests, Lisa and the Nurse jump into action for evidence of misdeeds, running through leads and distracting the salesman which only sees them taken away and you left alone with L.B. in that room. Your gamble shown in the light and the last person that you want to see you’ve been playing can see you quite clearly.

And when it comes to retribution the effect is monstrously menacing. It feels unstoppable. Your fear is palatable. Your legs broken as L.B.’s. Your guilt as obvious. You looked with him. And you believed everything he said. As hopelessness and vengeance grip you, you don’t know if it was all for naught.

Did he do it? How do you know he did?

How do you know he didn’t?

– Timothy Legion

Timothy Legion is not presently read, looked to or admired. He created a newspaper (pamphlet) at his University that is fondly remembered by six people. He has not won any awards or been considered for nominations. He is wrist-deep in the Third Year of his self-imposed GLORIOUS FIVE YEAR PLAN.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 18, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Posted in mystery, thriller

House of Games

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House of Games

House of Games takes the viewer by the hand and whisks them along into the sordid world of con men. Written by Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet, as well as his directorial debut, House of Games remains a successful crime drama for its devilish wit, charm, and themes.

Linda Crouse plays Margaret Ford, a psychologist and author who specializes in compulsion. Early in the film, Ford finds herself mixed up in a short con, headed by the ever charming Mike, played by Joe Mantegna. Upon foiling the con, proving herself to be the wiser, and realizing that Mike and his fellow con compatriots are fairly nice gentlemen, Ford expresses interest in conducting a social experiment: She wishes to hang around her new criminal pals, in hopes of examining a con in relation to compulsion. Mike, being a nice guy, agrees. That’s the set-up. From here, the audience through Ford, is exposed to the underworld of con men and deception.

What is truly fascinating about House of Games is how damn clever the script is. The film, without empty twists and turns, remains one-step ahead of its audience without alienating the audience. It is often tempting for filmmakers to placate to audiences, giving them too much information, assuming the audience’s incompetence. House of Games avoids that. Much like the confidence game, the film gives you its confidence, and you are expected to give it yours. When you think you know where House of Games is headed, it takes a corner, leaving you in the mud. And that’s okay.

To Mamet, language is a weapon. More than guns or knives, the characters in House of Games engage in verbal games of chess, where words carry the swift deadliness of a blade. When words begin to tumble out: pay attention. That’s the poetry. The film’s use of language gives it great depth, and distinguishes it from more straightforward contributions to the genre.

House of Games is a difficult film to discuss, because one word too many will spoil the narrative for first-time viewers. It is best served fresh, so the less said, the better. What should be noted is that House of Games is not regular crime fare. There are poignant themes which dance beneath the surface. Although the world of the con is the setting for the film, it is not strictly about con men or the cons. It is an examination of language, compulsion, and deceit. Clever and inventive, House of Games is one of the finest, most intelligent crime films ever conceived.

Give it your confidence.

– – Alex Lyons

Alex Lyons studied English and History at the University of Guelph, where he acquired keen insights into late Victorian history and its literature. This education, of course, serves no purpose here. Alex still lives in Guelph, and thinks of Jack the Ripper often.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 3, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Posted in crime, mystery, thriller