For the next four week I’ll be showing a series of fantasy films. No, not The Lord of the Rings. Before Peter Jackson blew everyone out of the water with that trilogy there were so many good fantasy films. Conan the Barbarian, the 1983 version with Arnold Schwarzenegger, is one of my favorites, unfortunately it’s a bit too violent for general consumption. But if you want to see Arnie at his best, in one of his first starring roles you can’t do much better. Fun fact: Arnold and many of the other actor do most of their own stunts and many of the stunts were not planned out that well, so when you see someone running from a pack of dogs they are really running for their lives. In summation, Conan the Barbarian, definitely worth a look.
Conan aside, I’m starting the series with Willow, another childhood favorite starring Warrick Davis, who played Wicket (the Ewok) in Return of the Jedi, and a young Val Kilmer. Before Lord of the Rings, I firmly believe that Willow set the standard for fantasy films. Special effects, a great cast, and an original story. Can’t miss.
For those not in the know, Both Marvel and DC have recently rebooted their entire line up of super heroes. This means that now is a great time to get in on the ground floor with some iconic characters. With DC’s New 52 and Marvel NOW! reboots the writing has been improved … the characters read like actual people talk, which was a long running joke among comic fans.
For better or for worse some the characters have been changed. For example, Superman is no longer then worlds strongest All-American boy scout; which, in my humble opinion makes him and his book 1000x more tolerable. There is added diversity to the line ups in Marvel and DC and it doesn’t feel artificial.
Long story short these books have been re-vamped, re-drawn, and re-written for a new age (literally, we’re entering a new age in comics – golden , silver , bronze, etc.). If you haven’t picked up a super hero book in years (like myself) or if super heroes have never really been your thing, give these a chance. Things have changed.
So … I just finished reading the graphic novel duology Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang. The artwork was misleading, I have to say. Though, to be fair, the series is a bout the Boxer Rebellion an incredibly brutal and violent event that happened in China during the turn of the last century (1898-190X). I guess what I’m saying is that I had some idea of what the book was about and was amazed at the graphic depiction despite the “cutesy” illustration style.
All the same this is a great work of historical fiction in a fun and extra-readable format. History doesn’t have to be boring and these books are proof. Kung-fu, political intrigue, and a peek into everyday life in late 19th century China are all wrapped up in a neat package of historical fiction that is Boxers and Saints. You can look online for a summary; and you can read about the awards Mr. Yang won for these books; but if you don’t read them, make no mistake, you’ll be missing out.
Find it at your local library: http://catalog.swanlibraries.net/search~S16?/Yboxers+&searchscope=16&SORT=D/Yboxers+&searchscope=16&SORT=D&Go=Go&SUBKEY=boxers+/1%2C68%2C68%2CB/frameset&FF=Yboxers+&searchscope=16&SORT=D&2%2C2%2C
On Saturday 1/25/14 @ 1:00, the library will be showing Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai in the teen room, with a samurai film to follow for the next three Saturdays. Seven Samurai has been called the best Japanese film ever made, and for good reason. Many of the action films we watch today “borrowed” alot of techniques from Kurosawa. And one film in particular, The Magnificent Seven, is basically the same story transplanted to the Old West.
If you watch American “action” movies made before Seven Samurai and then watch any film made afterwards you can easily see the influence Kurosawa on film-making around the world. Of course you can also just enjoy the epic action, sweet swordplay, and classic lines in Seven Samurai and judge for yourself whether it should be called the greatest Japanese film ever made.
If you don’t watch Seven Samurai with us you should definitely check it out on your own, it’s a matter of honor … and of course, it is available at your local library.