Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Academy Awards 2011

I'm not covering everything that happened at this year's Oscars, but I just wanted to share a couple of things that caught my eyes:

  • James Franco and Anne Hathaway were pretty good hosts. Awkward at times, but maybe their appeal to the younger audience worked...
  • Kirk Douglas presented the award for Best Supporting Actress. I haven't seen any of his work, but this guy was hilarious! I was scared he was going to fall over, but he kept the crowd rolling. Maybe I'll start with Kubrick's Spartacus.
  • I thought Inception had the coolest story and concept this year, but the Academy did not recognize this. Luckily it was technically awesome so it at least won for Visual and Sound Categories.
  • I don't keep myself educated with the Foreign Films Category as much as I should, but the small snip-it they showed for the film Dogtooth looked super intriguing. It didn't win, but how could you not be curious of someone leaping at a cat with garden shears. It's live streaming on Netflix, so I'll be adding it to my Instant Queue.
  • When you have your favorite movies for the year, of course you want them to win every category they are nominated for. However, the only category I was adamant for my choice winning was Best Actress. Natalie Portman was truly mesmerizing in Black Swan and she absolutely deserved the award. I'll be blogging more on this film more when it gets released on Blu-Ray in March. Way to go Natalie!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 1


In high school, one of the main drivers that got me into comic books was Smallville. In its first season, it was pretty much mindless entertainment with super-heroics and the freak of the week. The following seasons still had the occasional bad guy enhanced by Kryptonite, however there was an even grander story arc building. So like Smallville, I believe the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was only the primer for great things to come.

With the magic of Netflix, I've decided to dive into the Whedonverse while killing myself on the elliptical at the gym. Joss Whedon definitely has a cult following, so why not join in with his major breakthrough - Buffy. I never watched it when it originally aired on the WB, but I've been exposed to some of Whedon's other work including Astonishing X-Men and Dollhouse (I will definetly blog on this after rewatching - I LOVE Eliza Dushku).

So when we are first introduced to Buffy (played by the beautiful Sarah Michelle Gellar), she just moved to Sunnydale after having trouble at her old school in LA (you can see the Kristy Swanson movie for her Slayer Past). It turns out Sunnydale was built on top of Hellmouth, the nexus of the supernatural. Destined to be a vampire slayer, it was fate that Buffy was brought there to battle the evil forces that attack the town. So in order to balance the trifecta of her high school, personal, and slayer lives, Buffy has a cast of characters to support her along the way:

  • Xander Harris (played by Nicholas Brendon) - He's a goofy high schooler who is a great friend to Buffy, but wants more...
  • Willow Rosenberg (played by Alyson Hannigan) - She a geeky yet intelligent chick who becomes Buffy's best friend. However she really has the hots for Xander.
  • Rupert Giles (played by Anthony Stewart Head) - He's the school libraian who just happens to be Buffy's watcher and slayer trainer.
  • Cordelia Chase (played by Charisma Carpenter) - She's the beautiful but stuck-up mean girl of Sunnydale High.
  • Angel (played by David Boreanaz) - He's the mysterious man who Buffy is infatuated with (and ends up getting his own spin-off series)

This is probably more for personal reference, but here's a quick rundown of each episode from Season 1:

  1. Welcome to the Hellmouth - Buffy tries to be a normal student at Sunnydale High School...
  2. The Harvest - Buffy welcomes her fate as the slayer after preventing the Master from escaping Hellmouth through the Vessel.
  3. Witch - A witch switches bodies with her daughter so she can be a cheerleader, casting spells on anyone in her way.
  4. Teacher's Pet - The sexy school teacher is really giant praying mantis who seduces and eats teenage school boys.
  5. Never Kill a Boy on the First Date - Buffy discovers it is hard to have a normal boyfriend and be a slayer.
  6. The Pack - Xander and others become possesed by evil hyenas that eat the Principal.
  7. Angel - Buffy falls for Angel until she discovers he's a vampire.
  8. I, Robot... You, Jane - A demon is wreaking havok across the internet after his spirit is scanned in from a book.
  9. The Puppet Show - The dummy is really a demon hunter.
  10. Nightmares - We see the deepest fears of the Buffy crew.
  11. Out of Mind, Out of Sight - The invisible girl wants Cordelia Dead!
  12. Prophecy Girl - Will Buffy give up slaying to stay alive or face the Master to save humanity?

Overall, it was a fun first season. It will be entertaining to see actors who played minor roles throughout the series land bigger roles in other projects later. For instance the vampire Darla, played by Julie Benz, later becomes Rita on Dexter (you can definitely tell by her blond hair and distinctive voice). There is some awesome dialogue with witty punchlines between Buffy, Xander, and Willow. At the local hangout called The Bronze, some great music was featured by live Indie / Grunge performers (at this time, the WB was fantastic at featuring new bands). So Season 1 established a strong cast by battling the monster of the week, but now I'm ready for more charater development and watch Whedon's story unfold.

So on Death List Five, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 1 ranks #4.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Naked Lunch - Disturbing Cronenberg Imagery


Naked Lunch is a disturbing Neo-Noir directed by David Cronenberg (1991). The story follows William Lee (played by Peter Weller) who is a bug exterminator in the 1950's. While dressed in a fedora, Lee narrates the film in a noir style characterized with little emotion. When he discovers his wife Joan (played by Judy Davis) is using his bug powder as a drug, he reluctantly joins in with the fun and spirals into a hallucinatory world filled with sex and violence. Lee is given missions by the Mugwumps to infiltrate Interzone. As Lee gathers intelligence on the evil corporation, he believes he's sending typed reports back to the Mugwumps. However, he is really writing a story that his sober friends are intercepting to compose a novel called Naked Lunch. The further Lee gets involved with the drug-induced underworld, the more he becomes lost.

Based on his earlier work like Scanners and Videodrome, David Cronenberg is the king of disturbing images. Naked Lunch is no different. A few examples include:
  • The Yellow Bug Powder - Although it is supposed to be a lethal chemical that exterminates cockroaches, the characters inject it, smoke it, eat it, and even make love with it to enter the world of Interzone.
  • In Interzone, the Bug Powder is represented as a narcotic drug derived from black centipede meat. You see these giant creatures being sliced and diced into a bloody mess.
  • The Mugwumps employing Lee are horrific bug creatures.
  • Lee writes his reports on LIVING typewriters. They resemble beetles that advise him through his missions and speak through their anus (I know, it's hard to believe until you see the movie).

Naked Lunch is based on the novel by William S. Burroughs. I don't know much about him other then he had homosexual tendencies. This element is reflected upon in the film as Lee has to sleep with the enemy (who were dominantly male) in order to get information. One person he encounters is the leader of Interzone (played by Roy Scheider) who dresses up as a woman. However, the most disturbing thematic characteristic is how the Mugwumps are imprisoned. By restraining them, a white substance of ecstasy can be excreted from their bodies by sucking it out from the tentacles on their heads. Even though Lee is encountering this in his drug induced mind, in reality he is physically living on the streets. Who knows how he is really encountering this in the real world...

This film will definitely need a second watch. During this first viewing, I was more shocked by the imagery and was unable to decipher everything that was going on. There is a lot of symbolism, so I'm not entirely sure what's real or what's the effects of his "bug powdered" mind. Along with the story and characterizations, the sets, score (a jazzy saxophone theme), and costuming keep you in a dark and mysterious mood.

So based upon this initial viewing, on Death List Five, Naked Lunch ranks #3.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ten Taglines #6


Quick thoughts about 10 films in my movie collection:

1.
El Mariachi: The start of Mexiploitation?
2. Street Fighter: Hissing - The source behind Sonny Chiba’s Kung Fu!
3. The Wrestler: Who should you feel more sorry for: Mickey of Marissa?
4. Kill Bill Vol. 2: This awesome movie ends with a great set of credits!
5. Raiders of the Lost Ark: Best Adventure Movie Ever!
6. Ilsa - She Wolf of the SS: This rough movie isn’t about Nazi Werewolves…
7. Blow Out: This was before John Lithgow was creepy in Dexter…
8. Transformers: I thank this movie for Megan Fox!
9. Pan's Labyrinth: A scary fairy tale with visually fantastic creatures!
10. The Corpse Bride: Johnny Depp in the Nightmare Before Christmas!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Smokey and the Bandit - Car Chases and an Attractive Sally Field


I'm no gearhead, but having a degree in mechanical engineering, I have a great appreciation for cars. They are magnificent machines that many people depend on everyday. And if they are featured right, a car can become the star of a film. Examples include the Dodge Challengers in Death Proof and Vanishing Point. And from my review today, the Trans Am in Smokey and the Bandit takes the audience for a fun and wild ride.

Smokey and the Bandit was directed by Hal Needham in 1978. Bandit (played by Burt Reynolds) takes a bet that he can haul 400 cases of beer from Texas to Georgia in 28 hours. If he is caught, he'll be arrested because it's illegal to "bootleg" beer east of the Mississippi river. To complete the job, Bandit gets his buddy Snowman to haul the semi-truck of beer while he distracts the authorities with hi speedy Pontiac Trans Am. However, the major conflict lies with Frog (played by Sally Field) who was to be married to the son of Texas Sheriff Smokey (played by Jackie Gleason). Since the runaway bride was picked up on the side of the road by Bandit, Smokey is giving everything he's got to prevent the bootlegging team from getting away.

Whenever I heard of Smokey and the Bandit, I always avoided the film because it sounded like a boring redneck film. However after watching (looking for Carsploitation films), I enjoyed this film very much. It's an exciting movie that has real stunts with real vehicles. Cars are racing on the road, going off-track in the woods, jumping bridges, and being chased the entire movie. Smokey's police car is pretty much scrap metal by the end of the film. Maybe not a lot of substance to the film, but it's cool to see fast cars and demolition.

This movie also has a neat aspect of showing the camaraderie between truckers. They have a language of their own as they communicate across CB radios. Bandit's network will do anything for him, whether it's the truckers preventing police from passing or hiring ladies to keep the sheriff occupied.


Smokey and the Bandit has a lasting appeal. From now on, if I see it playing on TBS, I'll turn it on and definitely watch it. It has comical dialogue, fast-paced action, and a very catchy theme song that gets stuck in your head (Country Western song "East Bound and Down" by Jerry Reed). And Sally Field looks great in this film with her denim pants. I may have considered her in my Top Five if I was 25 years old in 1978.

So on Death List Five, Smokey and the Bandit ranks #4.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I Spit On Your Grave - Torture Accompanied with Sweet Revenge


Many movies have those moments that make you tense up, but there are only a few that make you cringe throughout its entirety. Some of my cringe-worthy movies include Blue Velvet, Requiem for a Dream, and Meet the Parents. I can now add another movie to the list: Meir Zarchi's 1978 exploitation film I Spit On Your Grave.

Gaining interest in exploitation films after the release of Tarantino's and Rodriguez's Grindhouse, this is a movie I've been trying to get my hands on for quite some time. Ebay and Amazon are filled with region free copies and the overpriced Millennium Edition, but I never felt like dishing out the money. But when I recently stopped by my local Movie Stop, I was able to obtain the new blu-ray transfer that coincides with the release of the 2010 re-make. However, when I finally had it in my hands, it took some time and nerves to finally open it up and watch it.

The story is about Jennifer Hills (played by Camille Keaton) as she escapes from the big city to a country cabin for solitude to write her new novel. After four local men see her sunbathing by the lake, they drag her out to the woods and horrifically rape her. When thought for dead, she gets her revenge on each of them using vicious forms of torture.

This movie is extremely hard to watch. I didn't time the length of the rape scene (or should I say sequences), but it never seemed to end. I can't imagine viewing it with someone else, but you really want to show it to others so you can discuss it. After witnessing this unforgiving torture, you cannot disagree with the movie's clever tagline : "This woman has just cut, chopped, broken, and burned five men beyond recognition... But no jury in America would ever convict her!" Just look at movies like Kill Bill, Last House on the Left, Law Abiding Citizen, and the Godfather - Revenge is a sweet thing, and movie-goers can't get enough of it. The revenge is the audience's reward after suffering with the protagonist. In this film, Jennifer's revenge is brutal because before she puts them through agony, she seduces them with her bodacious body. From the pictures below, you get an idea of how the four guys ended up with what they deserved:


In addition to the subject matter, the score makes this movie terrifying- There is none. Only the ambient sounds of moving water or wind in the trees can be heard. Occasionally you hear a record playing or church bells ringing, otherwise this movie is totally absent of music. This shows the true isolation of Jennifer as she suffers and fights back on her own. Also, the blu-ray transfer brilliantly displays the richness of the surrounding outdoors. Even though Mother Nature is beautiful, it is humanity that is cruel.

In today's cinema, there may be some images that surpass the torture in I Spit On Your Grave. But you cannot discount the pain displayed and how people revolted against it during its time. I don't plan on watching this movie anytime soon, but when I do, it will be with the commentaries so I gain more insight on the film (and so I don't feel so alone). It's not very re-watchable and isn't for everyone, but it will definitely go down in exploitation history.

So on Death List Five, I Spit On Your Grave ranks #3.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tarantino Comics - Final Issue

Just so I don't scare anyone, this is not the last "Tarantino Comics" artwork! I will be getting more soon!


In the comicbook world, publishers usually have fancy covers for first, anniversary, and final issues. Sometimes these covers have glow-in-the-dark or hologram images (they especially did this in the 90's). So for Tarantino Comics, I decided the final issue should have a special cover. Using the last two pages of my black sketchbook, Avery Butterworth drew an awesome piece that makes a wrap-around cover.

Inspired from the final scene in Inglourious Basterds, I knew I wanted Avery to do this piece. If Tarantino Comics were to go out of print, this would be the grand and finale image it would end with. The only reason I got this final issue drawn so soon was so another artist wouldn't draw this image in a regularly numbered issue. My uploaded image cannot do this piece justice as I had to combine two scanned images (and forgive me, I'm no photoshop expert). To hopefully better describe this wrap-around cover, see the photo below:


Avery is a local Florida artist that I am a huge fan of his work. I have gotten many other pieces from him and he never disappoints. He does astonishing work using pencils, ink, watercolors, whiteout, or anything you can think of. In this particular piece, I love how he put the skull and swastika in the background along with his "Nazi Killing" tagline. He even drew staples at the seam to simulate a real comic book. If you want to see more of his work, check him out at http://scribblingidiot.blogspot.com/

It will probably be a month until I get another issue of Tarantino Comics (#11) posted. The comicbook convention season is starting pretty soon and I'll be getting more work done at MegaCon in Orlando at the end of March. After that, I will be going to at least two more cons this year. So please be patient as I promise to get more great covers soon. But until then, I hope you can enjoy some of my other posts about movies, comics, and more!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Street With No Name - Noir or Documentary?


The Street With No Name is a film noir directed by William Keighley in 1948. The story follows FBI agent Richard Atkins (played by Mark Stevens), as he dives into the criminal underworld. By picking up a fake identity, agent Atkins draws the attention of the local gang by winning a boxing match. After they frame him for robbery, the crime boss Alec Stiles (played by Richard Widmark), checks out Atkins' fake criminal credentials and deems him worthy to run with the gang. Feeding gathered evidence to a singe point of contact outside the seedy underbelly, Atkins helps the feds close in on Stiles. However, Stiles discovers Atkins is a traitor from an inside source and decides to have him killed. But at the end of the day, a final shootout occurs, the inside man gets arrested, and Atkins lives to save the day.

This movie proves to be awesome with some very noirish trademarks:
  • A lot of time is spent around the boxing ring. Boxing is definitely associated with betting, bookies, fixers, and loan sharks.
  • Atkins stays in a crumby motel with leaky facets, broken mirrors, and creaky floor boards.
  • The crime boss has a beautiful dame that he slaps around to show his power.
  • The final shootout takes place in an abandoned factory. As the hero chases the gangster through a labyrinth of staircases and catwalks, dark shadows and gritty textures are brilliantly displayed on the screen.

So the movie has an intriguing plot with lots of twists and turns. It reminds me of an older version of The Departed (a movie that ranks in my current Top 5). But in addition to the crime story, the film acts as an educational documentary featuring the FBI. Narrated in a similar fashion to Troy McClure from the Simpsons, the viewers are shown basic forensic processes and field agent training. To add to the scholarly feel, very astute and collegiate music is played in the background. However, as the movie progresses, it moves further away from the documentary style and gets closer to the styling of film noir. Although I'd much rather see an entire movie filled with grim crime fiction, it is still fun to watch as it historically documents America's support for J. Edgar Hoover and his G-Men.

So on Death List Five, The Street With No Name ranks #4.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ten Taglines #5


So here is what I first think of when you mention these movies:

1. Desperado: Guitar cases provide multiple forms of protection…
2. 28 Days Later: Sometimes fellow man can be crueler than zombies…
3. Green Day - Bullet in a Bible: Billy Joe knows how to work a crowd!
4. Dazed and Confused: “I get older, they stay the same age!”
5. Happy Gilmore: Adam Sandler can do no wrong in my adolescent eyes!
6. The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Men in fishnets are horror!
7. Mothra vs. Godzilla: There are giant monsters, but don’t forget about the tiny women…
8. The Last Exorcism: So scary, the possessed sees you through the camera!
9. Halloween: Is it okay to feel bad for kid Michael Myers?
10. The Spirit: Forgive Frank, Love Eva…

Monday, February 14, 2011

Action Comics #894


So for those of you that don't know, Action Comics is primarily a Superman book. However in writer Paul Cornell's and artist Pete Wood's latest run on the series, the protagonist is Superman's archnemesis, Lex Luthor.

Lex Luthor is on the search for remnants of the Black Lantern rings, a cosmic source similar to the Green Lantern rings. However, instead of bringing good throughout the universe, the Black Lantern rings raise dead corpses from the grave and transforms them into living minions of evil. As Lex is discovering the Black Lantern technology, he encounters other DC Universe villains including Death Stroke, Gorilla Grodd, and Mr. Mind. However, the character cameo I was most excited to read was from Action Comics #894: Death.

Death was a popular character from Neil Gaiman's Sandman Series. Although she had a very gothy appearance, she was very attractive with her petite body and undercut blouse. Although she was the living embodiment of death, she typically escorted those who have recently passed on to the afterlife in a peaceful manner. In this issue, Death and Lex have a long conversation as he is presumed dead after being shot out of a helicopter by Gorilla Grodd.

Cornell's run on Action has been a lot of fun and I look forward to reading it each month. However, this issue was somewhat of a let down. Maybe it was because there was so much hype of Death returning to the DC Universe proper, as she has been primarily published by DC's imprint of Vertigo. This issue really had no action, just dialouge. The conversation was fun and enjoyable to read, but I was just expecting more exploitation . However, in the end, this was still a solid issue and does not hinder the overall story arc.

Also, great credit is due to Nick Spencer's backup feature: Jimmy Olson. It's a quirky story, filled with fun narration, and is the first to introduce Smallville's Chloe Sullivan to the comic book universe.

So on Death List Five, Action Comics #894 ranks #3.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Paranormal Activity 2 - Sight, Sounds, and Cleavage


It's pretty bad when you're home alone, watching a scary movie, and you have to turn it off because you're too spooked to go on. I was only 20 minutes in watching Paranormal Activity 2, but couldn't continue because I had memories from the last one. When I saw the original at a midnight showing, I loved watching it with the crowd. However, when I returned home and it was time to go to sleep, I swear I saw things moving in the dark. This only supported my paranoia of my grandmother's spirit haunting my house (the house was originally hers and I currently reside in it). But to counteract this, movies can have great power over me. For instance, after I first watched The Exorcist, I truly believed my bed was shaking. I know it was all in my head, but ghosts and demonic possessions get to me.

So as I continued watching Paranormal the next morning, I wasn't nearly as terrified and had no problem finishing. Paranormal Activity 2 takes place before and after the original. In the previous, a woman named Katie becomes possessed by a demon, kills her husband, and her whereabouts are unknown. In the second installment, we meet Katie's sister and her family:

  • Kristi - Katie's sister who recently had a baby
  • Daniel - Kristi's husband
  • Ali - Daniel's daughter from a previous marriage
  • Hunter - The newborn son
  • Abby - A German Shepard watchdog
Due to a recent "break-in," the family puts up security camera's throughout their house. Paired with Ali's documentary camera, unexplained occurrences such as falling frying pans and slamming doors are documented. As the movie moves along, the intensity increases, and it appears a demon is out to get the infant Hunter.

From a technical perspective, this film has two repetitive factors that get you scared while watching. The first being the consistent sequence of security camera footage. Beginning with a shot of the front door, it is always followed by the backyard pool, and then the inner rooms of the house. As you start to scrutinize the screen at the front door, you always anticipate something to pop out and scare you. But it is not until the camera switches deeper inside the house, where suspense only builds and strange events happen. The second factor is created through sound. Whenever the demon makes a presence, although it cannot be seen, a very subtle sound is heard, similar to the A/C turning on or the ambiance of an airplane cabin. I'm fairly certain the characters in the house can't hear this noise, but when the audience does, you know something bad is going to happen.

The other thing this franchise does really well is get you involved with the characters on a personal level. For example, with Ali, we know she is punk-rock girl since she has posters of The Misfits and The Ramones on her bedroom wall. But as we also discover her awesome personality and curiosity, we get frightened when she encounters the terrifying happenings. The movie does not have to put a lot of scare shots since we get scared when they do since we become deeply invested with the characters.

Overall this movie is a lot of fun and ends with a potential for another sequel. However, it may suffer from subsequent viewings because we know what is going to happen. But from a male perspective, this is at least re-watchable because of some decent cleavage:


So on Death List Five, Paranormal Activity 2 ranks #3.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Justified: Season 2 Premiere

I love crime fiction. Not that I condone to any of these acts of violence, but it makes for great stories. When looking at pop culture, majority of the organized crime syndicates shown on the screen take place in the big cities like The Sopranos and Goodfellas. However, FX airs a great series focusing on crime in the Deep South: Justified.

Justified is based on novels by Elmore Leonard, who also wrote Rum Punch, the basis for Jackie Brown. The main character is Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, who is a trigger happy lawman who is reassigned from Miami to his hometown of Harlan County in Kentucky. Last season left off with Raylan taking down the Crowder family, a redneck gang that thrived on drugs, firearms, and racism. Boyd Crowder, son of the family's crimelord, helped Raylan take down his own father, ending in a firefight and him escaping.

With the start of Season 2, major plot-lines are forming to continue the flow of this great series:

  • Raylan is on the search for Boyd, a relationship that has turned each other into respected archenemies
  • Internal affairs is keeping a close eye on Raylan, as many of his captives end up in a pinewood box
  • Raylan is juggling a love life between Ava (once married to the Crowder family) and his ex-wife Winona
  • We are introduced to the Bennetts, the Dixie Mafia organization which will certainly provide most of the conflict this season. The family is led by Ma Mags, a motherly figure who runs the local shopping mart, bakes "apple pie," and farms "cash crops."
Justified is an awesome show that presents the grittiness of the South. One of the captivating features of this series are the intense moments created between the characters, whether its a standoff, interrogation, or torture. The premiere had a rough scene where a man had to make up for is wrongdoings by placing his leg in a bone-crushing bear trap.


In addition to the intriguing story, Raylan Givens is played by Timothy Olyphant, a complex and interesting character. Trademarked by his hat, Raylan is a smooth talker, knows how to take a punch, a sharp thinker who makes some-what questionable decisions, but remains a likable guy. Besides closely resembling Josh Duhamel (as pointed out in Timothy's appearance in The Office), Olyphant plays an appealing personality that the audience enjoys to watch.

So on Death List Five, as an ongoing series, Justified ranks #4.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tarantino Comics - Issue 10

Tarantino Comics #10 was the last issue I had drawn at Dragon Con 2010. Inspired from Pulp Fiction, Jason Flowers did an awesome job drawing Bruce Willis as Butch Coolidge.


Thus so far, Jason has probably drawn the most technical piece, as he illustrates an awesome perspective as Butch descends down into the basement to get his revenge. If you like how Butch is armed with the samurai sword and blood dripping down his face, check out Jason's other work at http://www.jasonflowersart.blogspot.com, especially if you like horror. If you see him at a comic show, I definitely recommend getting some original art from him.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Killing - Kubrick Did Film Noir?


Stanley Kubrick is a well known film director, making monumental movies such as The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, little did I know as I was searching for Film Noir on NetFlix, Kubrick made a black-and-white 1956 masterpiece known as The Killing.

Johnny Clay, played by Sterling Hayden (the guy who broke Al Pacino's jaw in The Godfather), is a criminal mastermind who wants to score one last heist before retiring and running away with his beautiful gal. The goal is to steal $2,000,000 from a horse-racing-track. In order to conduct the heist, Clay ensembles his team of merry men, each with a specific job:


This movie has everything: Action, drama, comedy, romance, and suspense. And like all classic noir, the scenery is covered with dark shadows and has a plot twisted by a back-stabbing Beauty. However, it's the continuity that sets this film apart from others. The story is told in a linear fashion, but when it comes to the time of the heist, the perspective of each heist member is told in a parallel fashion. For instance, when the Wrestler is causing a distraction, you see Johnny being let into a locked room. After this perspective is finished, the camera switches to the Window Teller: We see him let Johnny into the locked room, while the Wrestler can be seen fighting police officers through the doorway. Without watching every character's point of view, you won't know how Johnny escaped with the money.

We can tell this movie was told in the 1950's as the final message of the film is that crime doesn't pay. Most of the crew's fate was death. However, if you were lucky enough to get away with the money, eventually all of your cash would be chaotically blowing across an airport landing strip with authorities waiting to take you in.

I enjoyed this movie so much, that it makes my top 10. I even enjoyed small things such as Johhny Clay's disguise, as it resembles the clown masks used at the beginning of the Dark Knight. I'm also sure this movie influenced Tarantino in some fashion, as he used the same type of storytelling during the money exchange in Jackie Brown. As much as I like horrowshow ultra-violence and the old-in-and-out, this movie proves you can still tell a great story without it.

So on Death List Five, The Killing ranks #5.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ten Taglines #4


Another round of personal catch-phrases from the old film collection:

1. Curdled: Movies show the murder scene, but never the clean-up afterwards...
2. From Dusk Till Dawn: Salma Hayek – Hotter than any True Blood Vampire!
3. The Mighty Peking Man: The Chinese King-Kong!
4. The Blues Brothers: Best car chase scene in a shopping mall!
5. Edward Scissorhands: No scissors on the waterbed!
6. Memento: You already know the ending, but still surprised by the beginning…
7. Super Bad: The best comedy of my generation!
8. Marie Antoinette: Rock songs can be applied to any time period…
9. Scanners: Mind-Blowing!
10. 300: Half-Naked Men know how to kick-ass!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Tarantino Comics Rating System - Death List Five

For the past few weeks, I've been using the standard "5 Star Rating System" to appraise the things I've been checking out. However, since this blog is called Tarantino Comics, I had to come up with something worthy to live up to the name. Ideas ranging from bullets, Samurai Swords, and even Uma's crossed my mind, but they just weren't original enough. Then I got to thinking, how was the number five ever represented in a Tarantino Film? The Answer: Death List Five


As the Bride killed her way up the list, the closer she got to her goal. In a similar fashion, I plan to use the concept to rate my movies and comics: The higher up the list, the closer to awesomeness.

So here's how the rating system translates (and yes, I'm copying the description from Netflix):

1. O-Ren Ishii (Cottonmouth) - Hated It
2. Vernita Green (Copperhead) - Didn't Like It
3. Budd (Sidewinder) - Liked It
4. Elle Driver (California Mountain Snake) - Really Liked It
5. Bill (Snake Charmer) - Loved It

Please don't think I hated the Lucy Liu fight, I loved it, especially everything leading up to it. But when you compare it to the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique that Beatrix landed on Bill's chest, it was mind-blowing! So for the purposes of this blog, Death List Five is much more fitting.