ETC.: Things that are good
Potpourri of Monday miscellany...
• HBO's "Entourage" is fun stuff. This half-hour comedy's first season just made it onto DVD so we checked it out for the first time over the weekend. It follows the life of a young upcoming Hollywood star Vincent Chase and his posse of greedy pals as they navigate the shallowness and treachery of Los Angeles life. Packed with real-life cameos from stars and hilarious takes on Hollywood's bizarro universe, it's another gem in HBO's crown of original series. A great take on the excess and conspicious consumption that drives life in LA. Special note to one of my favorite not-quite-famous actors, Jeremy Piven (the "You must chill!" guy in "Say Anything," among other roles), who rocks hard as a near-psychopath Hollywood agent.
• The Walking Dead over at Image Comics is just too much zombie-chomping fun. You know the drill -- the end of the world, zombies everywhere, band of survivors trying to make it -- but it's a hell of a gas because it's an ongoing series rather than a movie, enabling writer Robert Kirkman to take his time and tell the tale of former cop Rick, his family and the friends and enemies they make as they wind their way through a post-apocalyptic land. I've been collecting this series as the comics are collected in trade paperback, but after reading the superb Volume 3: "Safety Behind Bars" over the weekend, I've vowed to start reading it monthly in comics form. It's that good -- Volume 3, where the cast finds a federal prison that will make a perfect sanctuary (once the zombie inmates are cleared out), is the best yet. Moral and ethical dilemmas abound, people die, characters change and you can't read it all fast enough. Great stuff.
• Not that I'm a gorehound or anything, but I'm also very psyched to hear about this fall's deluxe DVD of David Cronenberg's "The Fly," one of the finest horror films of the modern age. Coming just in time for Halloween, this two-disc set is the full-on Criterion-style treatment, with director commentary, a major documentary, deleted scenes and much more. I remember seeing "The Fly" back in '86 or so when it came out and being shocked by how emotional what I thought was your standard monster movie could be. Jeff Goldblum gives the best performance of his career as a man slowly falling apart (read it as a metaphor for cancer, AIDS, etc.), and the supremely creepy David Cronenberg makes it much more than just another gore-fest. (Although gruesome and disturbing it is indeed.) (Skip the awful Goldblum- and Cronenberg-less 1989 "The Fly II," which is sadistic, mean-spirited, exploitive and brain-dead in a way the original wasn't.) Great to see this classic getting the fancy re-release -- that's why I loves the DVDs!
• Saturday's episode of Justice League Unlimited -- Captain Marvel vs. Superman?! Holy geekgasm! Another superb episode of the best animated superhero series going, with wall-to-wall action and a great appearance by Captain Marvel, a hero few writers really seem to have a handle on. Shazam! Good stuff.