Joshua Hale Fialkov

Purveyor of sheer awesomeness.

Joshua Hale Fialkov is the Harvey, Eisner, and Emmy Award nominated writer of graphic novels, animation, video games, film, and television, including:

THE LIFE AFTER, THE BUNKER, PUNKS, ELK'S RUN, TUMOR, ECHOES, KING, PACIFIC RIM, THE ULTIMATES, I, VAMPIRE, and JEFF STEINBERG CHAMPION OF EARTH. He's also written for NBC's CHICAGO MED and SYFY's upcoming INCORPORATED.

Filtering by Category: Movies

Watchmen

Posted the following on a discussion board a little bit ago, and realized I never said anything about Watchmen on the site, so, here's my extremely brief review. I saw Watchmen at a screening a couple of weeks back. It's way better than I expected it to be, and, in fact, I found myself inspired by it. I hadn't read the graphic novel in at least ten years, and liked the movie so much, I went out and rebought it, and reread it.

It's different than the book, obviously, but, some of the choices are actually pretty great (the squid never worked for me in the book, and what they came up with instead really makes infinitely more sense.) Overall, there's considerably more style than substance, but, the material itself is so substantial, that it ends up being okay.

So, yeah, go in with low expectations and be pleasently surprised.

Ah, the non-stop race of life...

And, in typical blogger fashion, I now apologize for more or less disappearing the past few weeks. The new job is going amazingly well, and should be outright announced in the coming days. I've got a podcast over on Word Balloon talking about it, and the huge stack of other projects in the immediate future. That should be posted anytime now. Otherwise, don't forget to preorder Cyblade #1 and #2 from Top Cow, The Cleaners #1 from Dark Horse, and to pick up the 1st volume of the Afro Samurai manga from Tor Books.

As for recommended reading, I'm all caught up on Monster, and am currently making my way through Tezuka's own serial killer/psycho sexual adventure MW, which is a must read for fans of Monster.

Been rewatching Six Feet Under with Christina (it's her first time) and reminded of just how powerful the show is, and, suprisingly, how much less depressing than I thought it was. We've got season one of Mad Men on tap next, and I'm psyched to get started on it, as the pilot was so damn good, and everybody else seems to shit babies they like the rest of it so much.

I'll try and post a 'what I'm listening to' later this week, as the day job has introduced me to some pretty cool new stuff that's right on the verge, yada yada.

Later gators.

Book Review - Making Movies

Making Movies Making Movies by Sidney Lumet

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
One of my all time favorite 'theory' books, mostly because Lumet handles the content from a much more practical stand point then the usual writer. He manages to sum up not just the roles of the director and writer, but, everybody up and down the credit list, and to do it with practical examples, and to clearly define just what film is capable of, and why it so rarely achieves those goals.

I reread this book at least once a year, and every year find myself finding more and more applicable to my work and creative process.

View all my reviews.

Book Reviews - On Directing Film

On Directing Film On Directing Film by David Mamet

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
While suffering a bit from his own inexperience, and his angry young man routine, young Mamet says much current Mamet would agree with. I think that a lot of the really intelligent thoughtful information gets clouded by the "The producers are brainless monkeys and deserve to die!" diatribes.

That being said, he manages to merge a lot of great stuff from a wealth of sources into one short, concise book with a clear line of insight into what directing a film is like. Certainly worth the read, although not necessarily the book's steep price.

View all my reviews.

Woody Posters

Woody Posters, originally uploaded by Joshua Hale Fialkov.

My two favorite purchases (other than my Macbook) from the Tax Refund are the two Woody Posters above.

The Bananas Insert came pre-framed, and the Sleeper half sheet is just plain awesome.

I'm in heaven, I tell's ya.

Movies, TV, etc.

Since getting rid of cable and becoming a shut in, I've been watching fewer and fewer New Releases of any kind.  Here's a few things I've watched that are, ahem, new to me. Be Kind Rewind - I'm not sure what's wrong with everybody.  The movie is fantastic.  It's not as good as Eternal Sunshine, obviously, but, it's still a work of near genius.  The big complaint seems to be how the movie is awkwardly put together.  That's on purpose.  The movie feels like a story that's been Sweded.  It's fucking genius.  It's got heart, soul, and is funny as fuck.  I'm glad that Gondry is back from the self-indulgent nightmare of Science of Sleep.

Newhart - Season 1 -  Ah Bob.  No better sitcom comedian has ever graced tv.  While not as organic as the 70's Bob Newhart Show, the 'new' Newhart is still fucking amazing.  Of course, it'll be a season or two before the cast we all remember shows up, but, considering how long it took us to get the first four of TBNS, and this first season, it might be a while.

No Direction Home - I somehow managed to miss this doc when it aired on PBS.  One of those "I'll watch it eventually" things.  It's Scorsese Documentary excellence mixed with the longest interview Dylan's ever given.  It's masterfully put together, and the archival stuff they found is simply amazing.  Footage of Woody Guthrie playing, Dylan getting booed, and recordings of the early pre-star Dylan tapes... wow.  If you have any interest in folk culture, Dylan, or the 60's, definitely worth watching.

Torchwood - What a difference a year makes.  Last season (which is linked here) was... okay.  The second half really managed to off set the mediocre first half.  But, it still wasn't there.  This season... they get it.  The show is purposefully juvenille, filled with ridiculous and unrealistic sexuality that really manages to make the whole thing feel like everybody is being guided by the oversexed aura of Captain Jack.  So, sure, they do weird illogical shit, but, dammit, Captain Jack is there.  I'm REALLY looking forward to the new Season of Doctor Who, simply to see it all tie together.

Lost - What a difference a year makes.  Last season was... okay. (Hey look at me.  I'm reusing the above review!)  Anyways, this season has been exactly what it needed to be.  We're making huge progress in story and character, and the twists and revelations feel substantial.  I'm glad I stuck around, and this season has made it fairly certain I'm not going anywhere.

The X-Files - So, this is going to be a bit ridiculous.  I never made it through the X-Files before.  I watched Season One when it aired, and my punk rocky teenage self had no use for it.  Consequently, aside from the assorted episodes here and there, I just never got through the whole show.  While working on The Cleaners, and a few other procedural horror type things, I decided it was time.  So, I started from the beginning.  I'm about halfway through the second season, and holy shit... really fantastic.  It's a little campy, and the stand alone episodes feel like they get in the way of the continuing plot (which unlike most people, I'm actually really into, thus far.)  So, yeah.  Go pick up that giant box set.

So hopefully, I'll get to see the Oscar movies shortly.  Until then, that's all I got.

Dress Like Fialkov... Awesome Rocker/Auteur Shirts

Ingmar Berman Available for online ordering from L.A.'s Best Video Store, Cinefile.

Y'know, when Christina and I were in there a few weeks ago, I commented how Cinefile is the kind of video store I always dreamed about living around the corner from. Of course, I live on the other side of town (and in L.A. that means a forty five minute or more drive), but, still, it rocks pretty damn hard to live so close to a video store that shelves everything by director.

Click the pic for the direct link to the online store.

TheList for 10-17-07

Hey Gang, Just a quick word as the week of my nuptials bears down on me. We get married this weekend in Encino, and lots of friends and family are flying in, so I'm about to do a nice disappearing act for all of those not in the flesh for the next few days. Before I do, here's a quick look at what's going on.

First off, on the wedding kick, we made a comic book as a hand out for our guests, and got an amazing bunch of guys to contribute. Elk's Run's Noel Tuazon did an amazing job on the bulk of the pages, with a quick section of my Postcards collaborator Micah Farritor's work, and good friend Tony Fleecs put the thing together. Add to that it's wrapped in the above beautiful cover by Phil Hester. Keep checking the blog, as we're doing a giveaway of a few copies of this extremely limited comic. It's like if Elk's Run wasn't a miserable adventure in death and family.

Next up, over at Newsarama.com, John Siuntres's Word Balloon podcast has been posted, and it's the first of two parts of the Library Panel with myself, Mark Waid, Kazu Kibuishi, Christos Gage, Ross Richie, and Tony Fleecs. The panel was great, and relistening to it makes me feel pretty confident that it was a worthwhile endeavor for all involved. Special thanks to Dan Dupill from the LAPL for helping to set the whole thing up. Here's the full story.

Also, this week in stores, from IDW Gene Simmons House of Horrors #2 featuring a story by me drawn by the inimitable Andy Kuhn. I saw his original pages back at Comic Con, and they were absolutely amazing. Do yourself (and us) a favor and pick up a copy.

Finally, in somewhat bizarre news, a movie I wrote is actually on its way from Mark's and my pens (through some unknown Canadian rewrite guys) to the small screen. The movie's gone from being called They're Among Us to The Hatching (which I mistook for The Hutching, assuming it had something to do with vertical storage) and seems to possibly have at least something to do with what Mark and I originally wrote so many months ago. Best of all, it stars Isabella Rossellini and Judd Nelson. (I hope there's a walking away/fist pump/freeze frame at the end, but I doubt I'm that lucky.) God knows how the thing'll turn out, but, at the very least, I'm proud to cause each of you pain on a Saturday night in the near future. Here's the PR on the movie.

That'll do it for me. Thanks for reading, and see y'all in a week or two. Keep checking the blog and the Twitter if you'd like to watch my descent into insanity during my final week of pre-marital bliss.

Cheers,

j.

Oh yeah, I wrote a TV movie.

Mark and I wrote the first draft, and then it was handed off to some other guys who wrote the shooting draft, so it's very likely the movie has very little to do with what we wrote (there's already a few characters listed in the release below that I can't place.)  Anyways, here ya go. Northern Stars - News

Cameras roll for Theyre Among Us by David WiserOctober 10 2007 - Montréal, Québec - Principal photography on the Muse Entertainment MOW production Theyre Among Us has started in Montréal. The frightening tale of alien invasion stars Gil Bellows and Maxim Roy.

What makes this movie different is that the story isnt about an alien invasion from some distant, strange world, but an invasion from within. Literally. Theyre Among Us — directed by Adam Weissman and produced by Irene Litinsky and François Sylvestre — brings the aliens down to earth.

Bellows plays Ben Moosher, an unlikely hero with a dead-end job and a broken heart. Roy plays his ex, Lisa, an ambitious reporter. But when they find themselves in the middle of an alien conspiracy where humans are being poisoned and impregnated with Alien larvae, the pair must put their past behind them and work together to save mankind.

The television feature guest stars Isabella Rossellini as Karla, the editor of the newspaper where Lisa and Ben work, and Judd Nelson as Malcolm, a friendly alien who helps the couple fight his own kind.

They’re Among Us will be broadcast in Canada on SuperChannel and distributed internationally by RHI Entertainment. Based on the story by Thomas Schnauz The X-Files the script was written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Mark Wheaton along with writing partners Christian Ford and Roger Soffer. Adam Weissman took time out to say, "heres so much talent contributing to this film, both in front of and behind the camera. If a smart and stylish science fiction thriller is your kind of movie, Theyre Among Us will be one to watch"

The film shoots in Montréal until October 27th.

Please note: This movie satisfies a personal goal of having my name appear relatively close to Judd Nelson's.  Go Judd Nelson!

Douglas Adams Hyperland

Douglas Adams was a genius. Truly a man before his time. Case in point, Hyperland. A documentary discussing the idea of Hypertext (y'know, that whole internet thing) from 1990, that more or less explains exactly how the internet ended up evolving in a startalingly accurate vision. The idea of literary hypertext is certainly a part of the zeitgeist, especially amongst us comic folks, with our production blogs, soundtrack listings, podcasts, commentaries, and so on. It's pretty damn cool to see nearly twenty years ago is good ol' Mr. Adams explaining it all in simple, understandable, and suprisingly not dated language. It's cut up into four parts, but  here's the first to get you started.

Duelin’ Fireman

Found on Metafilter

I remember hearing about this when I was a teenager. My two alt-type friends Dave and Neil and I were all about all of the crap this represents. Mostly Sub-Genius and Leary and the sheer absuirdism. Although, it was oftentimes only a theoretical interest, as we'd get a chance to actually experience the stuff and were always left feeling remarkably uncool. Like the first time I saw John Zorn play, and I was 13 and didn't get it.

In retrospect, I owe a lot of my personality and interests to that culture. I wonder what happened to those two guys, too.

Personal Best

Alright... haven't quite had the time I wanted to post and such this year overall, but, y'know... here's the stuff I liked/loved this year. BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL YOU PROBABLY READ

Pride of Baghdad

BKV shows us why he's the best damn writer in comics yet again with... god forgive him... a talking animal book. Really splendid stuff that manages to be poignant, heart-breaking, and pulse pounding at the same time.

BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL I'D BET MONEY YOU DIDN'T READ

Lone and Level Sands

While you probably don't know the initials ADL as well as you do BKV, I'd bet you probably will soon enough. LaLS is the book about some obscure Egyptian folks with crazy names like Moses and Pharoah. All kidding aside, I'm far from a fan of just about anything bible related, but ADL and mpMann manage to make a book that's researched without sacrificing compelling story for factual accuracy. Of course, from what I can tell, it doesn't go too far off the known facts/biblically accepted truth, either. It's really a splendid piece of work that shows exactly what the medium of comics is capable of.

BEST ONGOING SERIES

Usagi Yojimbo Hmmm. This is harder than I thought it would be. 2006 was the year I stopped reading monthly comics. The ones I do still read are Ex Machina, Fables, Captain America, Powers, and a handful of others. The best though, is the book that I've read consistently for nearly twenty years now. Usagi Yojimbo. There's just literally nothing better than Stan Sakai drawing the book he loves. That's right. That would be the SECOND talking animal book on my best of the year list.

BEST MOVIE

A Scanner Darkly

In a year that saw me go to the movies less and less, and miss virtually every movie I wanted to see, there was one that I made an effort to see, and loved it so much I saw it twice, and have already watched all of the special features and the feature once or twice since picking up the DVD a few days ago. The movie manages to do a couple of things that have never been done. 1) Almost perfectly capture a Phillip K. Dick novel. 2) Almost perfectly capture a GOOD Phillip K. Dick novel. 3) Redefine for a new generation what a Sci-Fi film can be. The movie is small, almost miniscule, by plot standards, yet is about big, big ideas. Bigger than any movie, bigger than any piece of literature. It's a movie that's about blame... and how sometimes EVERYONE is to blame, instead of just one side of the equation. The animation is fantastic, a real huge step forward from any other rotoscoping that's been done (including Linklater's other wholly different (and still wholly awesome) Waking Life.

Anyways, this is speculative Sci-fi filmmaking at it's best. Although I hear Children of Men accomplishes a lot of the same in a very different, and very excellent way.

Oh, and Rocky Balboa is a fucking blast. Well worth the price of admission.

BEST DVD RELEASE

Homicide - The Complete Series

Holy Fuckballs, this is what I'm talking about. Every episode, including the crossovers with Law and Order, the Movie, all the documentaries etc. from the individual sets, and probably the best packaging of a box set ever. Holy Shit. This is how one of the best shows ever made deserves to be presented, and it's worth every penny. A masterclass in research-based writing that knows when to put the research aside and let the character and story take over. There's never been a better cop show, and I severely doubt there ever will be.

Oh, and thank god for the impending Writers and Actors strikes that got them to finally release my beloved St. Elsewhere.

BEST ALBUM

Fast Man, Raider Man by Frank Black

You sort of just wait for a guy to make a solo record like this. Frank Black's had some pretty great solo stuff, but aside from Teenager of the Year, nothing that quite rivalled that of the early Pixies stuff. This does. Equal parts Rock and Roll and Rockabilly Country, FMRM is just an amazing piece of work from a still vibrant pioneer of a an entire genre of music. As long as he keeps making albums even half as good as this one, I think we're all lucky to have him.

SO I'M ASHAMED TO BE A LATECOMING FAN OF...

Harry Potter

I'd seen the movies, enjoyed the 3rd and 4th one a lot, and the girlfriend coaxed me into reading the first book. It's a big improvement over the movie, and despite the increasing length the books manage to become more engaging as they go on. I'm fucking ashamed, man.

I'M NOT ASHAMED TO BE A JOHNNY-COME-LATELY TO...

Doctor Who

I remember watching Doctor Who with my older brother as a child. I never quite grasped what the fuck was going on, but I always seemed to enjoy it. Of course, I always thought it was a lesser version of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxybut that was clearly just my own stupidity (aside from it pre-dating Hitchhiker's, Douglas Adams was a story editor on Who while developing the Radio show. ) Doctor Who from the very first episode has always been Boys Adventure to the nth degree. It has more in common with TinTin than Star Wars, and that's why it's lasted so long and becomes so all consuming. You want to follow these characters because they're so much fun, and despite the effects, every script is beautifully crafted, and the actors always do their best to capture that sense of childhood fun that is missing in so much children's entertainment. The new shows are perhaps a bit too adult considering the source material, but, it's something that I for one look forward to watching with my kids once they, y'know... exist.

Genesis of the Daleks is a good place to start. It's a Tom Baker, it's got assloads of Daleks, and, well, it's the shit.

BEST THING ABOUT THIS YEAR

That's an easy one. Christina. Meeting her was like a dream come true, and I couldn't be happier, seriously.

WORST THING ABOUT THIS YEAR

Also fairly easy. That'd be how I had virtually no creative output this year, thanks to circumstances beyond my control.

WHAT'S ON TAP FOR 2007

Well, next year you'll see the complete Elk's Run, the long awaited premiere of Punks, Noel and I will be unveiling Three Rivers and Tumor, J-Rod's superbly excellent, Postcards (which has a cover... it's pretty sweet), and who knows what else in the new year.

Plus, I've got a bunch of work for hire on the way. You won't be getting rid of this guy any time soon.

So, have an amazing New Year and go buy stuff.

Psycho

So, here's a no-brainer, right? One of the quintessential Horror films of all time, that just happens to be one of the quintessential Hitchcock films. The movie is sheer tense brilliance where the horror comes from where it should come from... the plot and the characters. Up until the final reveals of Norman and the Fruit Cellar, the paranioa and confusion is so overwhelming that you're kept on the edge of your seat, hoping... praying that whatever happens... happens and it doesn't hurt you.

The movie works as almost a selection of shorts with an interwoven plot. The first third dealing with Marion, the second works as an interlude following the private eye, and then the pot boiler ending section. Sure, plot wise they're all the same, but the tone is quite divurgent... I'd say the first section has more to do with the later films, like Marnie, the second a nod to the early Detective Noirs, and the final section is pure North by Northwest.... plus a rotting corpse.

Interestingly, like Marnie and even a bit in Rope, the only real downside to the film is the psycho-babble at the end. Hitchcock's obsession with putting a fine point on the psychological underpinnings of his heroes and villains is always too much on the nose for me, but, compared to most of the films of the era, it's still expertly executed.

The root of the modern horror movie is Psycho, and yet, we've gotten it so wrong since. Psycho will always remain a terrifying classic with no peer.

Rope

Ah, Rope. Generally considered more style than substance, although, I'd say somewhat wrongly. For those who don't know, the movie is essentially a 9 cuts. In other words, each reel is an uncut tracking shot, following the exploits of two Leopold and Loeb like murderers who match wits with a strangely machiavellian Jimmy Stewart.  The movie is all tension and style, but, with some top notch performances, particularly by Stewart, it becomes an engaging mastwork that's a statement on everything from the state of film acting to the use of flash to substitute for substantive material.  In 1948.

In other words, Hitchcock what lose his mind if he saw the dreck that passes for quality films these days.  It's pretty clear that the only reason Hitchcock would undertake such a strange filming method would be as an experiment of style, but, as he is known for, the exercise becomes considerably better than most people's life's work.

And, the fun trivia fact from the DVD is that it has not one but two cameos from Hitchcock, despite the fact that it all takes place in one apartent with only a handful of actors.

And Hume "I Banged Jessica Tandy and was in Cocoon" Cronyn apparently wrote the treatment that the movie was adapted from (which was in turn adapted from a British play.)

So, yet another highly recommended.

Rear Window

Ah, Rear Window.  I figure if you're going to watch a slew of Hitchcock movies why not start with one fo the best.   Pitch perfect performances, brilliant cinematography, riveting suspense... it literally hits every theme and grace note that he touches upon in most of his other movies all at once.  The voyerism, the paranoia, the gray moralism... all there, all executed flawlessly.

As a creator, I guess what stands up for me in Rear Window is the containment.  So much of Suspense and Action these days is the feeling of the ever changing landscape, and with few exceptions (Die Hard, motherfuckers), that's just how you make a suspense movie.  Rear Window is even further the other direction.

Not only do we never leave the apartment, although there is the few seconds of window dangling, but, our entire frame of reference is at a sharp 3rd person.  We never hear those across the alley talk, but, yet, we know who they all are. We know what they're all doing, and what they're character journeys are.  And we know it because of Jimmy Stewart's reactions to it.

His character serves as the perfect representation of what we each do when left on our own, left to our own devices for entertainment.  We obsess, we imagine, and sometimes, we get ourselves into trouble.  That's why Hitchcock excels for me as a director.  No matter how absurd the situation (Strangers on a Train or Psycho anyone?) it always feels not just grounded and real to the characters, but, as though it's something that happened to someone you know, or, is happening to you.

That to me is great storytelling

The Killing

While I'm at it, I suppose I should just say a word or two about The Killing. I seem to recall Kubrick hating this movie, but that might be me confusing it with Spartacus.  Which you'd think is pretty fucking hard to do.  In any event, The Killing is an odd-duck of a movie.  It manages to be pretty damn close to what Kubrick would do in Strangelove and Clockwork, while still being a lesser work.  The big downfall is the weird pulp noir voice over that more or less evaporates by the end of the first hour.  It's like someone mixed up the first few reels with the audio from Dragnet.

Once you get past that, you get something that's pretty atypical for Kubrick, an extremely tight, tense, and suspenseful caper picture.  It really has the feeling that Ocean's Eleven (the Soderbergh one) tries and (in my opinion) fails to  accomplish.  Utter fucking chaos, where there's only one or two guys smarter than the room.  It's interesting mostly to me because despite fitting snugly into the cliches and devices of Noir, it manages to be a wholly different beast.  Hell, it's almost an action movie, save for the lack of flat-out action scenes.

It's one of those movies that a lot of Kubrick fans seem to overlook, and, considering the style and form he gained just a few years later in Strangelove and beyond, I suppose it's understandable.  That being said, it's a helluva lot of fun, which is not something one often hears when describing Kubrick movies.

Blogging my way through the Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection

I spent a nice chunk of my very slight change on the Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection. So, I figure to make sure I’m actually a) watching them, and b) analyzing them properly for research purposes, I’m going to blog about each movie as I watch them.It’s 14 movies, so it’ll take a while, and I’ve seen 95% of them before so I don’t know how much I’ll really have to say, but, I’ll do my best to make it interesting (and let’s be honest, there’s not a lot one can say about The Trouble with Harry to make it interesting.)

Anyways, there’s the little link to the box set up above if you want to know what’s in it, and what to look forward to. It’s really worth every penny, seriously. So, if you have the extra cash, go buy it and follow along.

I’m starting with Rear Window tonight. While I’m watching it, I’m reminded of a couple of things that make it really stand out to me (and I suppose to just about every fan of Hitchcock’s) as something special. From the use of minatures to the dynamic camera work for what is essentially a very static and stationary film is really, really remarkable. Plus, you get Jimmy Stewart with his shirt off. C’mon you just can’t go wrong. Alright, I’ll be back with something, hopefully more profound later on.