Ask Me (Almost) Anything…

A geek friend posed these questions to me, here are my answers:

What’s your favorite series/franchise?
Right now it’s Marvel Studios, because the Netflix shows have put them past Star Wars for me. But the bottom line is it’s all about Disney right now–they’re killing it on all fronts.

What’s the most underrated film/comic/book/whatever in your opinion?
Comic book: The Question, although I haven’t read it in a long time. It was the first non-generic superhero comic series I ever got hooked on, plus Bill Sienkiewicz did a bunch of the art. Movie: Joe Versus The Volcano–it reminds me of a Coen Brothers movie and has countless allegories wrapped up in a goofy comedy.

What’s the most overrated film/comic/book/whatever in your opinion?
Tim Burton’s Batman: IMO it’s misguided, just like Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Here’s a curveball: 2001: A Space Odyssey, to me, is both one of the most underrate AND most overrated movies ever. It’s simultaneously genius but also self-indulgent.

What’s your favorite decade?
The 1970s. The best detective movies, the best war movies, the best dramas, best rock and roll, Star Wars, Billy Joel, etc. It was the last decade where anyone can do any kind of art without thinking too much about commercialism and marketing and metrics. Record stores offered refunds and exchanges if you didn’t like the vinyl album you bought (no kidding!) Star Wars created the blockbuster and changed the industry both for better and worse. Also, in the 70s America was still “hungry”–we had the gasoline crisis, cold war, everybody was in the middle class, and there were no tech or economic bubbles. During the 80s, the Reagan years, America was at its wealthiest in history, compared to the rest of the world, so the music and movies kinda reflected that (Go-Gos, John Hughes movies).

If you could speak to your younger (20’s?) self, what would you say? (you don’t have to answer if it’s too personal)

Letter to My 25 Year-Old Self

Favorite and least favorite MCU films?
Favorite is 3-way tie with Avengers, Iron Man, and Winter Soldier. In their own way, each movie felt fresh. Least favorite is Thor: The Dark World except for the miu-miu part, that was funny.

Also, favorite and least favorite parts of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, if any?
Favorite EU game is the X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter video game for DOS back when you still had to use your imagination. For books, I don’t read the new stuff but my childhood favorite was Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, with Luke and Leia, written right after A New Hope came out in theaters. Again, it was the 70s and Alan Dean Foster just wrote what he felt in his heart, without so much pressure from the suits or studios. Now I really like Star Wars Rebels.

What’s something that hasn’t yet been adapted to film that you would love to see?
A decent Stephen King movie like The Stand, which has been made into a limited series but it absolutely sucked. If they could take the talents of Steven Spielberg combined with Frank Darabont’s writing, and make an HBO series out of The Stand, it would be fantastic. The first season of The Walking Dead, which Darabont initially produced, is the closest I could think of to what a good representation of The Stand should be.

Do you feel that some things shouldn’t be adapted and should instead stay as a certain form of media?
Yes, like Bach’s Illusions or de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, I think is best left to literature. Even 1984 they couldn’t quite get it right, but Snowpiercer was a good homage to it. It’s like loving a song then seeing its mediocre video–most of the magic happens in the interpretation and imagination of the reader/listener. (Again, that’s why 80s music is so-so to me, because often the pop stars are already planning out the video even before they’ve finished writing and recording the song.)

Do you feel that the movie industry is ‘in trouble’ or stagnating in any way?
I think the movie industry is on the verge of getting so fluent with CGI that it’s not “wow” anymore, and I think that’s a good thing. We can get back to good scripts and telling the story, more minimalist approach but with absolute technical control that we get with modern technology. It’s like when they figured out how to make color movies–the first few movies were done just for the sake of making a color movie, but after people got used to it, they went back to focus on the story. Jump forward a few decades and you have movie makers PURPOSELY making black and white movies because it serves the story.

Any other industries/avenues that you feel are in trouble?
Any companies that run their business like the DCEU franchise, and I’m not saying this just to bash DC movies (again). It’s 19th century thinking, not trusting your subdivisions, not knowing enough about your own business that you don’t know how to pick the right people to help you in running it. It’s not just movies, it’s also in government and in any large bureaucracy. Heck, even Apple is going through it right now. All of a sudden, Microsoft is the fresh one!

Thoughts/advice about the youth of today, if applicable?
The youth of today got handed a lousy deck of cards, and my generation is largely responsible for it. We got spoiled during the Reagan years (before China joined the global market), dot-com years, the real estate bubble, those years of indulgence combined with 9/11 has resulted in a worn out, depressed, used up and fearful America. BUT here’s the bright side–because of the rubble, I think the young people are forced to be scrappy and inventive and cunning and hungry, and they are willing to try ANYTHING. And just like the 70s, maybe we’re on the verge of an artistic and cultural explosion, if it’s not already happening. Keep in mind that Nixon was the president in the early 70s, and he got impeached, and during his era and immediately after, there was an explosion of creativity. Out of the rubble, amazing things.