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Archive for January, 2011


Interview with me on the Greg & Dan Show

So yeah. I was interviewed by Greg Batton and Dan DiOrio for The Greg & Dan Show on WMDB 1470 AM this morning. Here is the audio from it! I haven’t listened to it yet, but hopefully I didn’t sound like too big of an idiot:

Interview with Gordon McAlpin on the Greg & Dan Show

Trailer Watch: Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster

The first Ip Man (2008) was pretty freakin’ sweet — corny, but chock full of terrific fights by one of my favorite martial arts action stars, Donnie Yen (Hero, Iron Monkey). The film was a “semi-biographical” tale of Ip Man (also spelled Yip Man), a martial arts master who is perhaps best known for mentoring Bruce Lee, and it covered his life through 1949, when Master Ip moved to Hong Kong. I don’t know how fictionalized the first film was (quite a bit, I expect), but it’s a fun story, and the action is well worth it.

The sequel, Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster, picks up shortly after the first film ends and only covers the next few years, so there’s plenty of ground to cover in the series, should they decide to make more. I only caught the first film recently, so I’m pretty excited to be able to (maybe) see its 2010 sequel here in the States later this month, in limited release. You can check out the first one on video now. (It’s even on Amazon On Demand, if you don’t mind watching dubbed flicks.) One fight about half-way through is so brutal and awesome that it’s worth watching the movie for. You can see that fight on YouTube here, but since I thought it was the best fight of the movie, if you have any inclination to see the full movie, I’d recommend waiting to see it in context.

Another film out soon — Wong Kar-Wai’s The Grandmasters (starring Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Ziyi Zhang) — is also about the life of Master Ip, and it boasts action choreography by Yuen Woo-Ping (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Iron Monkey; and a million others). There’s a teaser, but it’s pretty much all in Chinese and there’s no footage, so… y’know, whatever. We’ll have to wait and see how that goes. It’s supposedly out in February in China, though, and with the talent associated with it, it will almost definitely find its way to American theaters.

Review: The Counterfeiters

(This review was originally published at Movie Make-out on February 20, 2008. The film is currently available for purchase from Amazon on disc and download, as well as for rent from Netflix.)

Directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky.
Starring Karl Markovics, August Diehl and Devid Striesow.

Unless you paid attention to the Best Foreign Language Feature Oscar nominations, you probably haven’t heard of The Counterfeiters; I hadn’t heard of it until then, myself, but after seeing the trailer (at Apple), I made sure to keep it on my radar. When I saw that the Gene Siskel Film Center had an advanced screening of it a couple of weeks back (at Landmark’s Century Centre), I leaped at the opportunity — and I was not disappointed.

The Counterfeiters is a tight, thrilling, true-life drama anchored its amazing lead, Karl Markovics, who plays Salomon Sorowitsch, a Polish Jew known as “The King of the Counterfeiters.” Arrested in the lead-up to WW2 and subsequently sent to a concentration camp, Sorowitsch survives on his artistic skills before being transferred to the Sachsenhausen camp. There, he learns the officer who arrested him is heading up “Operation Bernhard,” a Nazi plan to destabilize the British economy by flooding it with counterfeit pound notes — and they need his help to perfect their forgeries.

Sorowitsch and his fellow counterfeiters — comprised mainly of bankers, printers, and other artisans — are treated surprisingly well, compared to the other prisoners at the camp (from whom they are kept apart), which keeps The Counterfeiters from being quite as depressing as many Holocaust films, but they’re constantly reminded of the killings going on outside their isolated corner; certainly, the Nazis don’t think of them any different than the rest of the Jews and only treat them differently because their commanding officer, Sturmbannführer Herzog (Devid Striesow), orders them to — more because he recognizes that these artists need to be in good health to do their best work than because he thinks well of them.

The director, Stefan Ruzowitzky, occasionally goes out of his way not to paint the Jewish characters in black and white; some older Jews at the camp complain about a few others singing “that nigger music,” for instance. But he needn’t have bothered: Sorowitsch is hardly a picture of morality; the true moral “hero” of the story, if he can be called one, is a fellow named Adolf Burger (played by August Diehl), a collotype expert who singlehandedly — and against his fellow counterfeiters’ wishes — sabotages the plan to counterfeit the US dollar for months.

But this is not a story of heroes; it’s a story of survival. And it’s one hell of a story.

The Counterfeiters is rated R. It begins a limited release run stateside on February 22, 2008.

Multiplex/Wonderella book signing at Chicago Comics

If you’re in the Chicago area, please come meet me and Justin Pierce (The Non-Adventures of Wonderella) out at Chicago Comics on January 22nd. We’ll be signing copies of our new (-ish, in my case) books from 3pm – 8pm! Wonderella Book 2 will be brand spankin’ new, and I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to getting my greasy mitts on it.

If you’d like a high-res version of this flier to print out and post anywhere and everywhere you’d like, you can download this PDF (non-commercial uses only!).