Monday, May 18, 2015

SECOND “AVENGERS” MEETS EXPECTATIONS




















AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
Starring Robert Downey, Jr.,
Chris Hemsworth,
Mark Ruffalo,
Scarlett Johansson,
Chris Evans,
Jeremy Renner,
James Spader,
Elizabeth Olsen,
Don Cheadle,
Paul Bettany,
Aaron Taylor-Johnson,
Samuel L. Jackson
Written and directed by Joss Whedon
Based on the Marvel comics by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Runtime 141 mins.
Rated PG-13

  
           
If you liked the first one, you’ll like this sequel, too.
           
Avengers: Age of Ultron—wisely not called Avengers 2—kicks off the summer movie season yet again in the mighty Marvel manner.
           
This time Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Downey, Jr.), persuades Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk (Ruffalo), to help activate a secret defense system called Ultron. Problem is, Stark doesn’t consult the rest of the Avengers—or the people of the world—and his inexplicable rushed blunder immediately goes awry.
           
Ultron, excellently voiced by James Spader, is as human an artificial intelligence as we’ve ever seen, while yet remaining clearly non-human. The result is the interesting villain we need to offset the vast might of the Avengers.
           
Part of the appeal with this franchise is that with so many characters, there’s pretty much something for everyone. And the humor in the way the clearly delineated characters interrelate sustains interest. It’s entirely in keeping with the comics when, chillaxin’ in uber-rich Stark’s uptown digs after a hard day’s superheroing, all the dudes try to lift Thor’s hammer, but can’t even budge it.
           
Chief among the film’s soap opera-ish subplots: Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow (Johansson) pursues an interest in Bruce Banner. This is sort of requisite and forgettable. What amazes is the successful casting of Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch. She does not seem like an Olsen twin, although she plays a twin. I think it’s a breakthrough role for her.
           
Equally so, in a weird way, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, as Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch’s twin brother, has also found a breakthrough role. This is the same guy who stars in the aptly named film Kick Ass, which is about a young guy with no superpowers who wants to be a superhero. Here he really is a superhero—he’s got super-speed—and I love that he’s practically unrecognizable in the role.
           
The special effects never stop. Gobs of action with oodles of robots for seemingly endless beatings. Factor in British dialect from a Norse god (Hemsworth), plus Captain America (Evans) getting razzed for being a language prude, and you can see why it’s all good times.
           
Even so, one experiences mixed feelings when the big, big movie is yet another comic book. True, the inner child revels…yet one can’t help but wonder: Story-wise, culturally, in the larger picture, are we kind of getting a little bit gypped? 


 Stewart Kirby writes for
 


BANKSY’S “EXIT” BRILLIANT DEPARTURE



















EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP
Starring Banksy,
Thierry Guetta,
Shephard Fairey,
Space Invader,
Zeus,
Borf,
Buffmonster,
Caledonia Curry,
Debora Guetta
Directed by Banksy
Runtime 87 mins.
Rated R
  
           
The world’s most famous street artist, whose identity remains unknown, directed a film as daring, mocking, and inviting of interpretation as his politically-charged stencils. Wearing a hood, hiding his face, and altering his voice, Banksy explains that when a documentary about him was supposed to be filmed, he turned out to not be very interesting, and so made the film about the filmmaker, instead.
           
That would be one Thierry Guetta. Born in France and living in Los Angeles, we learn of Guetta early on that he could buy a bale of old clothes for $50, sell everything calling it vintage, and make $5,000. We also see that Thierry (pronounced “Terry”) carries a camera everywhere he goes, and is always filming.
           
When he visits France, he films his cousin, a street artist who calls himself Invader. Because everyone involved is breaking the law by providing unasked-for art on the sides of buildings, the artists strike quickly by night. Thierry finds he loves this.
           
After his return to Los Angeles, his cousin Invader comes to visit, and introduces Thierry to other street artists, notably Shephard Fairey, whose altered image of Andre the Giant’s face coupled with the word “Obey” was famously plastered all over the city. Thierry helps Shephard, and through their rapport, Shephard eventually invites Thierry to meet Banksy.
           
For Thierry to get to be Banksy’s Los Angeles assistant is like a book-lover getting to hang out with JD Salinger. When he accompanies Banksy into Disneyland, he films Banksy’s artful prank of propping an inflatable dummy in an orange jumpsuit with a black hood covering the head against a fence in view of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride. While Banksy slips away and changes clothes, Thierry gets nabbed, but successfully endures four hours of questioning during his detention in Disneyland.
           
We are left to wonder how we see any footage of this incident after Thierry says he deleted everything on his camera during questioning. However, questions of validity aside, Thierry’s resolve furthers his friendship with Banksy.
           
Eventually, we find that Thierry’s problem as a filmmaker is having no idea how to do it. He never even looks at his tapes. (This sort of makes sense when we learn the sad story that motivated Thierry to pick up a camera in the first place.) Realizing he needs to take over, Banksy suggests that Thierry go make some art of his own.
           
Presented with this holy mission, Thierry calls himself Mr. Brainwash, cranks out a couple hundred Warhol-esque Photoshopped images, has a gallery showing with a quote from Banksy supporting him displayed on a huge banner, and makes a million bucks.
           
Funny, informative, and always fascinating, Exit Through the Gift Shop will make you look at art—whether it’s sprayed on the outside of a building, or hanging framed on the inside—with new eyes.


 Stewart Kirby writes for
 



HUNTING ROBOPOE
























So you know, folks, we do have an android alert in effect. If you see a morose individual, perhaps accompanied by what appears to be a raven, contact your nearest retailer but do not attempt to engage RoboPoe, even though he desperately wants to get married, because RoboPoe is a suspected serial killer. A large orangutan from the zoo is missing, and it is feared that RoboPoe is attempting to control the orangutan's mind.


Somewhere in the illimitable dominion of the sere and withering woods, this rogue android seeks to prove himself through acts of horrific revenge. Whether his artificially created intellect has developed severe flaws, or is being remotely controlled by another agent, remains thus far unknown.




More information as events warrant.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

CRITTERSPEAK

THE SQUIRREL, CLAD IN stolen doll clothing, regarded Elsa from the top of the fence with suspicion.

Ordinarily--not that anything in Elsa's dozen years had been particularly ordinary--she would have considered a wild squirrel wearing a tidy little jacket a jaw-dropping event in and of itself, indeed. And when the squirrel chattered away in English (such as it was), that would have particularly increased Elsa's incredulity, were it not for the preparation her father gave her upon her arrival that summer.

"You know how I told you about Area 51," Elsa's father had said, "and Dreamland projects?"

"Of course," Elsa replied. And true it was, for her father had been careful to educate his daughter regarding the basics since Day One.

"Well there was an accident around here not long ago. Some say a truck spilled with a bunch of strange, alien stuff inside. Other stories point to a breach in a secret underground facility. Whatever the case, a lot of weird things happen with the animals now."

"Like what?"

"Like the government has been working with aliens on ways to get animals to talk for years. They were working on a pill that people could give their pets, and gradually get them to actually speak a few words. But things got out of control."

Elsa returned the squirrel's stare.

"What do you require, sir?" she said, suddenly breaking the silence.

The squirrel chittered, then rose to his full height and said, "Hear me, humie! You have walnuts, and pecans!"

This was true. And almonds, too. Elsa had left a handful of nuts on a log soon after showing up at the house...




MORE
SOON

Saturday, May 9, 2015

OVERMAN opening scenes on audio



































Listen to the first few scenes of my Friedrich Nietzsche screenplay,
followed by a detailed summation of the rest: https://soundcloud.com/stewart-kirby/overman

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

THE MESMERIZER Part 1 of 3 (AUDIO)






The first several chapters on audio are here to carry you away.

























https://soundcloud.com/stewart-kirby/the-mesmerizer-part-1-of-3


Craig Jones, author of OUTBREAK, digs THE MESMERIZER.






"Before I read it I was like all..."

















"After I read it I was all..."













http://stewartkirby.blogspot.com/2012/11/50-shades-of-craig.html

Monday, May 4, 2015

"WHISTLEBLOWERS" RESONANT




















WAR ON WHISTLEBLOWERS:
FREE PRESS AND THE NATIONAL SECURITY STATE
Starring Daniel Ellsberg,
Franz Gayl,
Seymour Hersh,
Robert Gates,
Joe Biden,
David Carr
Directed by Robert Greenwald

  
           
Compelling documentary featuring cases of truth told to power, and increasing attempts to keep that from happening.
           
Featuring almost no narration, we learn from a Marine named Franz Gayl that Humvees were not designed for sustaining blasts from IEDs, and that what troops in Iraq needed were MRAP vehicles, which were designed to withstand IEDs. Determined to save lives, Gayl decided to bring the matter to the attention of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. But, according to Gayl, “When the officials saw the brief that I was going to present, they said, ‘Absolutely not. That cannot be allowed to go forward.’”
         
 “What happens is,” says Gayl, “bureaucracy has its own interests.”
           
According to Daniel Ellsberg, we have “a national security state that pretends it’s interested in national security, when in fact it’s interested in the security of corporate interests, of agency interests, of politicians keeping their jobs.”
           
In the words of Dana Priest, investigative reporter for The Washington Post, our own national security state is “a self-licking ice cream cone” which exists “to support itself.”
           
For Gayl, the decision to replace Humvees with MRAPs was a no-brainer. Stymied by his chain of command, Gayl performed an end-run. When the article “Military Dragged Feet on Bomb-Proof Vehicles” appeared in a blog called Danger Room, things changed. Senator Joe Biden asked if Gayl would like to speak to USA Today.
           
“Fight ‘em with truth,” says USA Today journalist Tom Vanden Brook. “That’s what it’s all about.”
           
Subsequent to his whistleblowing, Gayl underwent a series of reprisals before the Marines put him on administrative leave.
           
As David Carr, journalist for The New York Times, says of whistleblowers, “It’s almost always bad for them. They’re the ones putting their careers on the line.”
          
 “I knew that I could be fired,” says Thomas Drake, former Senior Executive of the National Security Agency, “but as an American I made that choice.” For Drake, that choice occurred when he discovered that the NSA was secretly spying on Americans using blanket electronic surveillance “with no controls, no accountability, no oversight.”
           
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: “We see governments are increasingly starting to shut us out. They’re starting to change the process by which they govern.”
           
According to NBC investigative journalist Michael Isikoff, “The Obama Administration’s been extremely aggressive in trying to root out whistleblowers within the government.” In an unprecedented move, Obama forced down the presidential plane of Bolivia under the false rumor that Edward Snowden might be on board.
           
“This is supposed to be a government of the people, by the people, for the people,” Snowden says. But how are we to make informed decisions if we don’t know what our government is doing?


 Stewart Kirby writes for