Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Krenkel Kinema, GasCan Online,
Main Dane and Fallon Falls on the Blade

Emmerich channels Krenkel: 10,000 BC is OK by me!

Snuck out for two hours Sunday night to catch Roland Emmerich's prehistoric opus 10,000 BC, and I had a fine time with it. Emmerich excels at shallow but picturesque fantasy and science-fantasy; I went with no expectations (as I try to experience all media), and was delighted to find myself steeped in a panoramic Roy G. Krenkel epic.

Roy Krenkel, dreaming in paint...

I knew Roy only slightly and occasionally, but I loved the man and his work. I recall fondly sitting next to him at Creation Cons in my Kubert School years and buying up a batch of his exquisite tracing-paper/vellum pencil miniature sketches at the three conventions I sat next to him at. Roy loved ancient worlds, primal and civilized, and 10,000 BC is nothing short of a Krenkel time machine at almost every level.

From the wintery tribal tableaus to the 'head of the snake' realm of pyramids, from the saber-toothed familiar of the hero to the flightless carnivorous birds (the film's single most galvanizing action sequence) to the mighty mammoths that figure prominently in the film's first and final act, the film offers a procession of Krenkelesque setpieces, strung together by an odyssey equally evocative of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Turok Son of Stone and Apocalypto. Some might dismiss this as merely derivative of those wellsprings, but I had more fun than mere derivation would have provided.

I've always enjoyed Emmerich's films, since seeing Joey (1985) in its New World Pictures US incarnation Making Contact back in 1986 or so. Yes, even Godzilla (1998). This one is closest in tone and tenor to Stargate (1994) in my estimation, and almost as much fun. Given the context (and content) of his latest, it's necessary to note that Emmerich will never, ever be as feral or potent a filmmaker as Cornel Wilde (The Naked Prey, No Blade of Grass, Beach Red, etc.) or Mel Gibson (The Passion, Apocalypto), but he's certainly in the ranks of Don Chaffey, whose One Million Years B.C. (1967) is still the best of the genre, the Dr. Zhivago of primordial romances.

10,000 B.C. isn't as primal in intent as La Guerre du Feu/Quest for Fire (1981), tackling a far more expansive tapestry of tribal and completely imaginary cultures than Jean-Jacques Annaud's antediluvian saga (or that film's 1911 source novel by J.-H. Rosny, one of the grandfathers of this whole genre). Like all its kin (save arguably Carol and David Hughes's marvelous Missing Link, 1988), 10,000 BC is anthropologically absurd, but I didn't -- and don't -- care. In gender terms, it's the usual patriarchal hash: the two female leads are ciphers, an elder mystique and virginal bride-to-be, and the few opportunities Emmerich had to be inventive with either role remain soundly squandered. It's another boy's adventure pic, and on that level it's a gem. Emmerich plopped me into a vivid, picturesque adventure for about two hours.

I thought, and think, of Roy Krenkel, the grand old man of everything 10,000 BC revels in, and I smile.

Pizza Wizard fans unite!

  • Center for Cartoon Studies pioneer class alumni Sam Gaskin has kicked off his new blog, sure to be worthwhile keeping tabs on,
  • and reports there that Pizza Wizard #2 is nearing completion. I'm psyched and overjoyed. If you need a refresher,
  • this will plug you into some of Sam's headspace and comics creations.

  • James Kochalka has just written up Sam's Pizza Wizard for Technikart.com as a comic which "deserved wider recognition," which I'd wholeheartedly agree with. James writes, "Pizza Wizard is very much an avant garde work, without being at all stuffy or pretentious. Actually, it's entertaining and hilarious.... More than anything Pizza Wizard a vehicle for Gaskin to use as he playfully tears apart many conventions of comics... messing around with the formal elements that make up comics, stretching his wings and having fun." James adds, "a new start up publisher named Secret Acres is supposed to be releasing a book collection of his work sometime soon, under the title Fatal Faux-Pas." Now, that's news to me!
  • Secret Acres is already peddling some of Sam's wares, including Pizza Wizard #1 (get yours now!); I'll post news once Fatal Faux-Pas is a reality.

  • (BTW, here's the French website James's writeup will appear on soon -- it's not up yet, though!)

  • Man, I miss Sam and his work.
  • Here at CCS, senior Dane Martin is Sam's heir apparent (as opposed to hair, a parent) and Dane's blog is packed with Dane's one-of-a-kind art and observations. Enjoy.
  • Until I get my next dose of Sam, Dane's work takes me to other places I've never been, and I love it.

    Fatal Faux-Pas Redux

  • Top U.S. military commander for the Middle East Admiral William J. Fallon resigned today "amid speculation about a rift over U.S. policy in Iran..."; Bush/Cheney toadie Defense Secretary Robert Gates accepted the resignation (it was "the right thing to do").

  • There goes the last reasonable man, I fear. Now, remember, President Bush refused former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's resignation at least twice; awwww, damn it. Fallon has been described as the "lone man" opposed to President Bush's Iran policies and desire to take military action to stop the Iranian nuclear program.

    This isn't good news, folks.

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    Blogger James Robert Smith said...

    I might go see 10,000BC since it has my terror birds in it.

    My mom adored Cornell Wilde. He was one of her favorite actors, but for some reason she didn't like THE NAKED PREY which I have always admired.

    I didn't know Emmerich directed GODZILLA (Ack!) and STARGATE (Yay!). I tried watching PASSION OF THE CHRIST a few weeks ago and found it to be even more disgusting than I'd heard it to be. And it wasn't the subject--I quite like my Christ movies, especially the Jesus allegory films which I wrote about in my blog some time back. I just found it to be a thoroughly disgusting movie and I couldn't sit through it.

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hey, wait a minute there...you're entitled to love Emmerich all you want, but don't bring Don Chaffey down to his level! ;)

    Chaffey contributed extensively to The Prisoner and (even better!) Danger Man, so that elevates him pretty high in my personal pantheon.

    Richard Gagnon (hi Steve!)

    Anonymous Bed Bug Exterminator New Bedford said...

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