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    THE GAMBLER (movie review) at FORCES OF GEEK

    Review by Clay N Ferno
    Produced by Irwin Winkler, Robert Chartoff, 
    Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, David Winkler
    Screenplay by William Monahan
    Based on The Gambler by James Toback
    Directed by Rupert Wyatt
    Starring Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, 
    Brie Larson, Michael K. Williams, Jessica Lange, 
    Emory Cohen, George Kennedy, Richard Schiff

    Mark Wahlberg stars in a remake of 1974’s The Gambler directed by Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Escapist). No, not Kenny Rogers as The Gambler, that came out in 1980!  Wahlberg takes on the role of Jim Bennett, a college professor with a knack for getting in deep with the wrong kinds of people while feeding his gambling habit. 

    The rest of the cast features heavy hitters Jessica Lange as Jim’s long-suffering rich mother, John Goodman as Frank the whale and one of our favorite actors from HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and The Wire, Michael Kenneth Williams.

    Brie Larsen (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) is Amy Phillips, a literature student working off her student loans nights at an upscale underground Hollywood casino. Amy knows her professor’s secret but is not the only student to be affected by the Bennett’s actions—mirroring points in the original film.

    There is more than debt resolution and distracted teaching in this film, however. Wahlberg delivers a serious performance of a man bordering on being out of control with his habits but not an addict.

    There may be more to what we see behind Jim Bennett’s blackjack face.

    Some other reviewers and I were all invited to what could best be described as a meet and greet with director Rupert Wyatt when he was in town. There, we cozied up and in the least formal way imaginable—over tea sandwiches and soup in the lobby of a Boston hotel—to take advantage of a rare opportunity to talk to the director in an intimate setting. Being on the opposite coast of such regular occurrences, I took full advantage of this and broke bread with Mr. Wyatt and we all picked his brain about working with hometown Hollywood anti-hero Wahlberg his experiences making this movie. Martin Scorsese was once attached to The Gambler, but Rupert was the final directorial choice.


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    BIG EYES (movie review) - at FORCES OF GEEK


    Review by Clay N Ferno


    Produced by Tim Burton, Scott Alexander, 
    Larry Karaszewski, Lynette Howell
    Written by Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski
    Directed by Tim Burton
    Starring Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz,
     Danny Huston, Jon Polito, Krysten Ritter, 
    Jason Schwartzman, Terence Stamp

    Set in the sixties, Tim Burton’s Big Eyes, is based on the life of artist Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) and her shyster husband, Walter (Christoph Waltz). This is a sidestep from Burton’s previous work while still maintaining some of his signature weirdness. Supporting cast includes Jason Schwartzman, Krysten Ritter, Terence Stamp, Danny Huston and a host of others. 

    The title comes from Margaret’s ‘waif’ paintings, you’ve seen these and knockoffs for years, perhaps in your grandma’s sitting room.

    The unfortunates look sad and look through you, and Big Eyes means to set the record straight about who is behind the brush.

    I’m surprised at the PG-13 rating for this one, as the subject matter is tame and a bit of a departure from what you might expect from a Tim Burton movie. Other reviewers have been comparing this to 1994’s biopic Ed Wood. Needless to say, where Burton shines are in locations where you may expect to see him — in Halloween Town or Wonderland. The only real fantasy we get is in the supermarket where everyone is taken over by Big Eye syndrome among 60’s pop art exaggerated product branding straight from the cover of The Who Sell Out.

    The styling, costumes and the set pieces are very much of the time — we’re trained to expect a certain throwback to the same era after seven seasons of Mad Men — and the overall palette of the picture is as bright as you may expect. 



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    SHE MAKES COMICS (movie review) - at FORCES OF GEEK

    Review by Clay N Ferno
    Produced by Karen Green, Patrick Meaney, 
    Jordan Rennert, and Marisa Stotter
    Executive Produced by, Julian Darius and Mike Phillips
    Directed by Marisa Stotter
    Starring Ramona Fradon, Trina Robbins, Karen Berger,
    Joyce Farmer, Karen Berger, Kelly Sue DeConnick, 
    Becky Cloonan, Wendy and Richard Pini, 
    Jenette Kahn, Marie Severin, Paul Levitz

    She Makes Comics is the latest film by the Sequart Organization funded by Kickstarter and available for sale and digital download for comics fans of any gender.

    Marisa Stotter directs this documentary produced in association with Respect! Films that delves into the history, present and future of female fandom, lady creators and what it means to be a fan of comics today. A true celebration of the medium, She Makes Comics puts the spotlight on key contributors, editors and cosplayers to encourage young girls and women to embrace what they love.

    It seems like you can’t swing a longbox these days without running into some internet discourse or open letter about gamergate, cosplayers at conventions or fan backlash about new costume designs for female heroes (looking good, Batgirl and Spider-Woman)!

    As a straight white male (boring, I know!) checking my privilege seems to be something I do without such reminders but I’m grateful to have the opportunity to review great films like this.

    We need more movies like She Makes Comics! 

    Not only are we given a history lesson about comic books, a subject that I’ve quite literally worn the leather of my armchair reading up on, but we get to learn and listen to important lessons in this documentary. I watched this with my girlfriend, also a comic book fan and we were high-fiving throughout! Mostly when Kelly Sue DeConnick was speaking, because she’s just so cool.

    Scanning the indicia (you know, the tiny print on the inside of comic books, usually page 1) and the credits was something I always did while reading comics as a kid (didn’t everyone? No?).

    Some of my favorite books were by ladies and I thought nothing of it, I mean anyone can write and draw a book, right? There were Mary Shelley and Anne Rice for example. Until I grew into an adult, I had NO IDEA what kind of struggle an Ann Nocenti, Louise Simonson or Lynn Varley might be dealing with just because they were female. I saw them just as creators — and most of the time I thought they did a better job than their male counterparts.





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    A heavy book hit the shelves this week! Savage Dragon #200 is weighing in as a ‘100-Page Super Spectacular’ and also carries with it the legacy of Erik Larsen’s career, where he has stayed with Dragon and now Malcolm as the titular character.

    From the Image Revolution to the age of digital comics, you can rarely find a more ingrained creator or publisher in the industry.

    He is able to playfully tip his hat to the Silver Age and Jack Kirby while moving his own book and stories into the future. 

    The Image Comics CFO took the time to talk his milestone issue with us—and for that we are grateful and wish him and Dragon many more milestones in the future! 

    FOG!: Erik - thank you so much for taking the time! When we saw #200 was hitting shelves, our fins went straight up! Thank you for so many awesome issues! What does this milestone mean to you? 

    Erik Larsen: Every issue is a milestone, really. Each one is another number reached and another issue under my belt. The big ones, 50, 100, 150 and 200 are just that much sweeter because I pull out all the stops and involve a number of others to join in the celebration but I don’t think of any issue as ordinary, really. 

    In my mind they’re all a big deal. 


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    Dig Boston and League Podcast Comics Picks of the Week for Wed. December 24, 2014




    The penultimate issue of She-Hulk is here at #11. Order in the court at Jennifer takes on former Master of Evil Titania! … Come on, grab your friends for Adventure Time #35 — the last from the creative team of Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb. The fun will never end (or will it)! … Robin turned Nightwing is now super spy Grayson in Spyral. Somehow he gets Grayson Annual #1 with only five issues under his utility belt? How does it work? Who knows, but the issue reveals the Secret Origin of The New 52’s Helena Bertinelli — so that’s something! Picks this week from!

    Get Guardians of the Galaxy Comics and Graphic Novels at TFAW
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