FRUITVALE STATION (2013) is the based-on-truth new movie about a 22 year old black man gunned down in a BART station while handcuffed a few years ago. The movie presents him as decidedly flawed, an ex-con drug dealer struggling to get his act together for his kid while coping with job loss and a justifiably jealous partner (“You expect me to believe that was your only time with that witch?”). Downbeat, obviously, but extremely good. “I told him to take the train. I told him to take the BART.”
HERE COME THE COEDS (1945) is so far the best of the Abbott and Costello movies in my boxed set, partly because it wastes very little time on the plot (can they save a women’s college from foreclosure?) and concentrates on the shtick: Costello wrestling Lon Chaney and playing basketball for the girls’ team, Costello eating oyster soup and the guys trying to tell an original joke and clean up a sticky kitchen. Very funny, if like me you like A&C. “Jokes? I wish we had a couple.”
THE CLASSIC PHILIP JOSE FARMER: 1964-1973 is an early collection of shorts including the terrifyingly grim “Sketches Amidst the Ruins of My Mind” (in which an alien object starts sucking out human memories), the verbally pyrotechnic “Riders of the Purple Sage” and one of his early pop-culture fests, “After King Kong Fell” (what happened after the movie’s credits rolled). The last couple of things I read by Farmer were decidedly below average, so it’s nice to be reminded how good he can be.
GREEN LANTERN CORPS: Fearsome by Peter Tomasi and Fernando Pasarin has Earth Green Lanterns John Stewart and Guy Gardner discover someone systematically butchering Corps members. The response, of course, is to recruit a strike force of ring-wielders to take on the sinister Keepers (whose origin is yet another example of the current trend to blame the Guardians of the Universe for everything). More readable than I expected, though heavy-handed on Heroes Making Hard Choices.
ZAHRA’s PARADISE by Amir and Khalil reminds me a lot of the film Missing as an Iranian bloggers’ brother disappears in protests following the contested 2009 election, leading to the blogger talking to everyone from reformers to jackbooted thugs to find out what happened. Very grim and depressingly familiar (this could as easily be Pinochet’s Argentina or Saddam’s Iraq to name two examples) but also very absorbing and full of little details about Iranian life and politics (which keep it from being a generic story of dictatorship).
BPRD: 1947 by Mike Mignola, Joshua Dysart, Dave Stewart, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba was the follow-up to 1946 (surprise!) in which Professor Bruttenholm discovers a vampire from the previous book is wreaking havoc on post-war Germany, prompting him to send the BPRD’s first team of agents off to investigate. Unfortunately, the BPRD has not yet any idea what it’s dealing with … Very good, though I think 1946 was a little better (the child-demon Varvara only has a bit part here).