Mr. Rostan at the Movies: Restoration Dramas, or, Ten Picks for the Gene Siskel Film Center’s “Recently Restored” Festival

Andrew Rostan was a film student before he realized that making comics was his horrible destiny, and he’s never shaken his love of cinema. Every two weeks, he’ll opine on current pictures or important movies from the past.

master

If the rest of the summer film season offers nothing that looks like it could match Fury Road and Inside Out, then the Gene Siskel Film Center at State and Randolph is here to help, with a festival whose calendar made me pant with excitement. The Recently Restored series, running from July 3 (or today) to August 16, showcases films from around the world, carefully returned to how both their original audiences saw them (in the finest picture and sound quality) and as their makers intended them to be seen (with the return of cut, damaged, or previously lost footage). It is a wonderful opportunity to see intriguing pictures you’ve never heard of before or check some masterpieces off your list.

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J&STAC: The Autumnlands, volume 1

-J. Michael Bestul is a writer for the Addison Recorder. Stephanie Ruehl is an artist who works in a comic book shop. They’re married and have a lot of discussions about comic books and graphic novels. Combine all that into a biweekly feature and you get “J. & Steph Talk About Comics.”

AutumnlandsTPB1-2x3-300When the first issue came out last fall, the series was titled Tooth & Claw. Today sees the release of the first trade collection of the series under its new name, The Autumnlands vol. 1: Tooth and Claw, and it’s an action-packed book that blends fantasy and sci-fi in a world of animals.

The Autumnlands, volume 1: Tooth and Claw

words by Kurt Busiek, art by Benjamin Dewey, published by Image Comics 

Synopsis: In a world of anthropomorphic animals and floating cities, the one form of true currency and power — magic — is fading. In a last ditch effort to resurrect it, Gharta the wizard works a massive spell to bring forth the Great Champion in the hope that he will restore their magic to what it once was.

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Mr. Rostan at the Movies: “Inside Out” and Pixar’s Ambitions

Andrew Rostan was a film student before he realized that making comics was his horrible destiny, but he’s never shaken his love of cinema. Every two weeks, he’ll opine on current pictures or important movies from the past.

Inside Out

One of the most indelible memories of childhood moviegoing was twenty years ago, watching a cartoon the likes of which I had never seen before called Toy Story. Since that day in 1995, Pixar has given the world a gift of extraordinary all-ages films from studio chief John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, and others that have redefined both the style and substance of modern filmmaking. However, Pixar post-2010 has fallen into a rut, mostly producing films of lesser quality. Inside Out, the new feature from Docter (who also helmed Monsters, Inc. and Up), is a sign that this trend is about to change.

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the Fifth Line: Second City Triumphant

When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
Macbeth, Act I, Scene I

Those were the exact words I thought as we skipped down Addison Street the moment Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final concluded. Two years ago, a trio of us celebrated the Blackhawks’ second Stanley Cup win this decade by running down to Wrigley Field to celebrate. Monday night, we re-enacted that ritual for Cup #3.

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We even happened upon the Recorder’s editor-in-chief, already celebrating (despite the fact that he’s wild for the Wild).

Monday was a day of hurly-burly in Chicago. Tornado warnings blanketed the city and its suburbs, sirens blared as rain pelted the area, flooding side streets and major thoroughfares alike. Amidst the meteorological chaos was the excitement and hope for Chicago sports fans: our team had a chance to clinch the Cup on ice for the first time in almost a century.

Oh, and the team they were facing seemed way too apropos for the weather. Amidst the raging storms, the Blackhawks strove to defeat the Lightning — the fates were asking for the purplest of prose. The perfect encapsulation of Chicago’s excitement could be found in the channeling of Snoopy / World Famous Author.

Since the Fifth Line is hanging up the skates until the start of next season, permit me this victory lap around the rink before I do. [Read more…]

J&STAC: the Lingo

-J. Michael Bestul is a writer for the Addison Recorder. Stephanie Ruehl is an artist who works in a comic book shop. They’re married and have a lot of discussions about comic books and graphic novels. Combine all that into a biweekly feature and you get “J. & Steph Talk About Comics.”

As any industry or medium grows, it develops jargon — language that fans, practitioners, and others “in the know” understand, but can be an obstacle for new fans and practitioners. As someone who works in a comic shop, and who is an advocate for bringing in new fans, Steph wants to ensure that such technical terminology isn’t a barrier.

Here, then, are a few pieces of jargon that can help potential new fans and readers. [Read more…]

The Tired Nostalgia of ‘Jurassic World’

Image of Jurassic World poster

First of all, spoiler alert.

The Jurassic Park franchise has historically been a major draw. The original 1993 film was the largest grossing movie of all time until Titanic came along four years later. The second film, though largely sub-par when compared with the first, held the record for the largest opening weekend until 2001, when some movie about a little boy wizard came along and took over. These were original event pictures, massive draws that were required summer viewing for the young millennial generation. Dinosaurs are cool, and people love seeing dinosaurs.

That seems to be holding true for Jurassic World, the latest entry in the series. Originally forecast to make something in the vicinity of $125 million in its opening weekend, the movie made nearly that on Friday alone. Early reports have the movie taking in an opening weekend haul of $204 million, which puts it at the third best opening of all time. Meanwhile, across the world, the film took in a staggering $511 million dollars, an all time world record. People still love their dinosaurs.

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Welcome to Jurassic World: A Dino-Primer

movies-jurassic-world-logo

By now, you might have heard of a certain movie opening in wide release. Jurassic World proposes itself to be a return to the glory days of Jurassic Park, a time when CGI was a cutting-age technology, and dinosaurs roamed the screens of the world. Since then, the franchise has suffered its share of ups and downs…but the dinosaurs remain an ever present fixture in popular culture.

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the Fifth Line: the Final Week

I’m still breathing, at least.

Fandom makes critical analysis something that tends to fly out the window. Fandom often gives rational thought the what-for, so my words are a bit more limited this time around. It’s tough sometimes to be deeper than, “winning is good,” at this point in the season.

Also, scoring goals is good. Chicago should do more of that. And they might have that opportunity…

BESTPIX - 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three

Has anyone tried poking the body with a stick?

What’s the Deal With Bishop?

NHL teams and coaches are notorious for only describing injuries as “upper-body” or “lower-body,” and then moving onto the next question. I’m not saying that coaches are circumspect, but even Bill Belicheck seems straightforward and transparent in comparison.

When Ben Bishop left Game 2 for unknown reasons, the speculation exploded. Twitter was rife with jokes of Bishop succumbing to the brown note, including a toilet joke from a goalie who’s been in such an awkward situation:

https://twitter.com/strombone1/status/607361005354655744

But even in Game 3, Bishop looked a little creaky and in pain for two periods before he turned in a stellar third. Yet he was scratched in Game 4, elevating the bane of Team Canada, Kristers Gudlevskis, as a Stanley Cup backup goalie. John Cooper and the Lightning have not been forthcoming, because that’s what hockey teams do. The Lightning defense did what it could in front of Andrei Vasileskiy, holding Chicago to an impossible two shots on goal in the first period of Game 4. But putting Vasileskiy in this situation is disadvantages Tampa Bay, as Saad illuminated on the game-winning goal.

What happened to Bishop? Your guess is as good as mine, so have at it. Not like the Lightning are going to correct you.

Being the Bottom

While Bishop is scratched on the Lightning side, Chicago has a carousel going every night when it comes to the bottom two defensemen. Coach Q finally scratched Kimmo Timonen, and the Blackhawks did okay… until they didn’t. Rundblad has been replacement-level, an Cumiskey has had some mental lapses, and Timonen returned to play his scant minutes in Game 4. He did… okay?

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Sure, why not?

Added to this mix is Trevor van Riemsdyk, who had started the year with Chicago and looked good. But after a serious injury last fall, he was kept down in the minors until this series. He looked good. At least, he looked energetic, busted his ass on the ice, and didn’t make me hold my breath when he touched the puck. I’m guessing we’ll watch Coach Q ride the kid and the old veteran around the carousel for at least the next game.

Pulling Out of the Dive

The Blackhawks of the Coach Q era remind me of Picasso, as depicted in Steve Martin’s play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile. They are brilliant, brash, a team whose success is matched by few teams this decade. They are creative, they adapt, and they succeed.

But they’re also stubborn. Aside from the strike-shortened season, they’ve not dominated the regular season — or even the post-season. They’re the genius student who turns in amazing work, but often has to stay up all night and do it all at the last second just to complete it.

This is why they remind me of Martin’s piece of theatre. Early in the show, someone describes an encounter where Picasso lulls a pigeon to sleep, and drops the pigeon from the second story window:

Then just seconds before it would have hit the ground, the pigeon turned itself over and started flapping like mad, and it took off flying, straight up past us, above the buildings and just away into the night. Then Picasso turned to me and said, “That‘s like me.” And he was gone.

The ‘Hawks have made a reputation of always pulling out of a dive at the last second to fly majestically into the night. Whether it’s against the Red Wings or Ducks in the playoffs, or just turning in a third-place showing in the regular season, Chicago has a habit of figuring it all out in the nick of time. You almost expect it, at this point.

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Coach Q agrees. Everything is a-okay. Or maybe he’s getting beers for all the healthy scratches on defense.

The worry is that, despite the reputation, they don’t always pull out of the dive. Think of last year, when Chicago faced L.A. in the conference finals. In overtime of Game 7, the Kings iced the puck. Coach Q sent out his scrub line with Hanzus and Versteeg. What should have been a chance to put the game away ended up going the other way courtesy of an Alec Martinez goal.

Chicago’s been here before. They’ve pulled out of the dive. A lot of us expect them to do so, and fly majestically. But last year saw a dead pigeon splatted on the ground instead of a Stanley Cup. We’re wary.

The Final Games

The series is tied up 2-2. Tampa Bay would seem to have an advantage with home ice, but both these teams won their conference on the road, so you can throw that out the window. If Bishop isn’t 100%, that would be a lucky break for Chicago (no offense to the Lightning backups). If van Riemsdyk is simply adequate and hustles, that might plug a hole in Chicago’s defense. If Bickell and Versteeg can be non-liabilities, that plugs up the only other real hole.

Each team’s magic and tragic numbers are two. I still think the ‘Hawks pull it out and soar to a third Stanley Cup since 2010. Is that the rational me, or the fan in me speaking? Yes.

See you on the other side…