David Petersen – Movies and the Masses

Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 1:30 am

Movies and the Masses takes a weekly look at cinema with men and women from all over the Internet. While our Critical Mass feature is reserved for those who write columns or blog about film, Movies and the Masses aspires to a more everyman approach by talking with people not normally involved in the movie industry. From sword swallowers to professional sports writers, you never know who’s going to turn up.

This week we delve into the world of comic books, as our guest is David Petersen, the multi-talented writer and artist behind Mouse Guard. In case you’re unfamiliar with this outstanding work, Mouse Guard is an Eisner Award-winning title (Best Publication for Kids and Best Graphic Album–Reprint) from Archaia Studios Press. Divided into six-issue mini-series, it has been translated into Spanish, French, Portuguese, and German. The following synopsis was taken straight from the official Mouse Guard website:

“The mice struggle to live safely and prosper among all of the world’s harsh conditions and predators. Thus the Mouse Guard was formed. After persevering against a weasel warlord in the winter war of 1149, the territories are no longer as troubled. True, the day to day dangers exist, but no longer are the Guard soldiers, instead they are escorts, pathfinders, weather watchers, scouts and body guards for the mice who live among the territories. Many skills are necessary for the guard to keep the borders safe. They must find new safeways and paths from village to village, lead shipments of goods from one town to another and, in case of attack, guard against all evil and harm to their territories.”

The series has been turned into a role-playing game, and the possibility of a movie adaptation has also been discussed. Be sure to check it out right after you read our David Petersen interview. Oh, and don’t forget to visit his blog, where he waxes philosophic about the comic biz and anything else that’s on his mind.

Only Good Movies: What’s the first movie you remember seeing?
David Petersen: ET. I know my folks took me to various Disney movies before that, but my older sister and her friend took me to see ET and that experience stuck with me.

OGM: If you only had a few hours to live and could do nothing but watch five movies, which films would you select?
DP: Nightmare Before Christmas, The Dark Crystal, Empire Strikes Back, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, & Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

OGM: What’s your favorite movie?
DP: Hard to say…Depends on the day, any of those five above could be my fave. Currently I’m in a Python mood so I’ll go with Holy Grail, but I know last week I was in an Empire Strikes Back mindset.

OGM: What’s your least favorite movie?
DP: I’m going to go with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I know there are lots of other movies I may hate more just for content, but League made me upset because of the potential and then the horrible, horrible results. I spent a good 3 hours ranting about everything I thought was wrong with that movie afterwards.
Batman and Robin in another example of that, but Schumacher had already lowered the bar with Batman Forever, so it wasn’t a shock that I disliked it.

OGM: Do you subscribe to an online rental service like Netflix or Blockbuster Online? Why or why not?
DP: Nope. Between TiVo picking stuff from cable for us, our DVD/BluRay collection, and borrowing movies from friends, I feel like we have our bases covered.

OGM: In 50 years, which modern movies do you think will be viewed as classics?
DP: Hard to say for sure, but I’m guessing that movies nominated for Academy Awards are fairly certain to be considered classics. Movies that I think of as modern classics are ones that I either can’t turn off when they come on TV (even if I have them on DVD) like Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, or The Shining. Another mark are movies that I not only remember the movie, but when and where I saw it. It’s the mark of a good movie that it time capsules the event of seeing it in your memory.

OGM: If you see a movie based on a book, are you then more or less likely to read the book?
DP: I try and read the book or listen to the audio book beforehand if possible. However, I still catch up on the source material if I’m interested in the film or subject. I guess even if I didn’t enjoy the movie, but liked the premise, I’ll still give the book a shot, because I know how poorly movies can be adapted at times. I’m currently listening to the audio book of IT and trying to reconcile it with the TV movie from 1990.

OGM: Who’s your favorite celebrity?
DP: For purely geeky reasons, Adam Savage. I think he seems very genuine and like someone I’d enjoy knowing. On pure attraction, Christina Hendricks. I love that she is shattering the Hollywood stick image.

OGM: Is there any actor or actress whose movies you actively avoid?
DP: There may be a few, I don’t want to name names and be impolite, but that’s also because I wouldn’t rule out seeing a movie of theirs…I just tend to not be a fan of the types of movies they do.

OGM: How do you feel about all the remakes of older and classic films?
DP: I take those on a case-by-case basis. For the most part, I’m open to the IDEA of remakes because of the tradition in the theater of plays being performed over and over. Even if someone has been the definitive Hamlet, that’s not to say more can’t be done with the role. However, remakes for the sake of remakes turn me off. Especially when the goal is to ‘update it’ in a way that completely dates the film so it will be unwatchable in 10 years. A movie like Dr. Zhivago (one of my favorites…why isn’t that up on my top 5?) could have some room for improvement (as it is a bit dated being a product of the 60’s) to make it more historically accurate, but I don’t know that the movie needs that to have the message come across any better. The Wizard of Oz I’d LOVE to see a remake of…but only if they were going to be faithful to Baum’s text and the illustrations and designs of the time (I’d actually go with John Neil’s designs over original illustrator W.W. Denslow).

OGM: Which actor or actress do you find most attractive?
DP: Male: (and I’m not ashamed to say I can appreciate when a man is handsome) Brandon Routh
Female: Christina Hendricks. (see above)

OGM: Do you read movie reviews? If so, what critics do you read most often, and why do you like them?
DP: I tend not to. Sometimes when searching for movie times I’ll glance at the scorecard of what various critics gave a movie, but I like being the judge for myself.

OGM: What type of people annoy you when going to a movie theater?
DP: The ones that annoy everyone, but still seem to be up to their same tricks: talkers, cell phone users, talkers, texters, talkers, kickers, talkers, and laugh-at-inappropriate-moment-ers.

OGM: Do you consider movies to be works of art?
DP: Yes. For sure. And just like art, there is good work and bad work.

OGM: What type of candy or drink do you consider essential to your movie watching experience?
DP: No candy, but popcorn and a cold Coke.

I’d like to thank David Petersen for being our guest on Movies and the Masses, and be sure to show your appreciation by checking out Mouse Guard, on sale at your local comic book shop. Until next week, here are a few more interviews you might be interested in:


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