Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bullet Points: A Journey Across America

Luckily, today's Bullet Points have a pretty good theme.  So, relax as we take a journey across continental USA.

North by Northwest - When I was watching the blu-ray special features,  it included a personally filmed "Guided Tour with Alfred Hitchcock" across America.  With his "road map of film clips," it was a neat and inventive way to promote the film rather than your typical movie trailer.  Anyways, this story is the classic wrong man mixed up in the wrong situation. Carey Grant is a "Don Draper" mistakenly confused as CIA attempting to stop the smuggling of secret information out of the country.  Although Carey Grant is drugged behind the wheel, chased by a crop duster, and almost thrown off Mount Rushmore, he maintains his witty charm and gains access to the beautiful Eva Marie Saint.  Filled with lots of suspense, North by Northwest definitely makes way for the ultimate cross-country action-adventure thrillers of today.

Hell on Wheels -  When this show first premiered a year or so ago, I predicted Westerns would be the new zombie flick.  Even though this trend hasn't really taken off  (we'll have to see the influence of Django Unchained), this show is still pretty awesome.  The show is comprised of lots of little storylines, but the main focus is on Cullen Bohannon - A southern man who lost his entire family in the Civil War.  This season, Bohannon must regain status of foreman on the first transcontinental railroad while battling Indians led by the evil (and creepy) Swede.  With the grittiness expected from someone in the old west times, Bohannon is a character we can truly root for.  He has the rough exterior and resourcefulness of a Clint Eastwood character, but has a soft spot for Lily Bell whose husband was killed by Indians while surveying the railway last season (Lily is played by Dominique McElligott, a blonde who I find on par with Yvonne Strahovski ).  His relationship with the freed black slave Elam Ferguson (played by Common) is quite interesting and has a lot of parallel with Tarantino's Django and Dr. King Schultz.

Paul - Whenever you see Simon Pegg and Nick Frost paired together, you assume Edgar Wright is helming the project.  However, this is a rare case where he isn't.  Directed by Greg Mottola, this wacky film is a nerdy road trip across America.  With tons of pop culture and comic con puns, this film is tied together by an alien who likes to get high (and voiced by Seth Rogan).  This isn't the funniest movie I've ever seen, but there were quite a few scenes that made me laugh out loud.  The funniest character by far is the one played by Kristen Whig, a newly corrupted ultra conservative Christian.

Lost Highway - Granted I've only seen this movie once, Lost Highway makes no sense to me.  That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it, but in typical David Lynch fashion, this is just a mind f*ck of a movie.  A story exists, but its hidden between a sequence of crazy images: Videotapes, jazz clubs, death by electric chair, Robert Blake's pale face, and even porn being projected onto a mansion wall.  To summarize this movie in one sentence (which is a challenge), here's what I'd say:  Through twists and turns involving murder, crime, and sex, two men's lives are supernaturally intertwined by a beautiful pair of twins.  If not to watch this film again for a better understanding of the story, it's worth a re-watch just to see the voluptuous beauty of Patricia Arquette who hasn't looked this good since her role as Alabama in True Romance.  Accompanied with eerie sounds (similar to the ambient noise from Paranormal Activity) and a unique soundtrack, David Lynch's crazy sensibilities is truly a journey spanning the Lost Highway spanning across America.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tarantino Comics - Issue 27

Merry Christmas!  Today is truly a day to celebrate!  Not only has Santa come to visit, but it's the release of the most anticipated film of 2012 - Django Unchained!  To celebrate the awesomeness from the Master of Genre himself, here's an issue of Tarantino Comics from regular cover artist Amanda Rachels:

Drawn at C2E2 2012, Tarantino Comics #27 features Captain Koons' infamous monologue of the golden watch from Pulp Fiction.  Amanda once again captures the essence of the scene and magnificently transforms Christopher Walken from a memorable actor into a coloful EC comic character.  I love the tagline and can't image the tales Amanda could draw in the interiors of this issue.

Anyways, support Amanda as she continues to grow into an even better artist and storyteller.  I know she has some work coming from Arcana Studios, but in the meantime, you can follow Amanda and writer Kevin LaPorte at

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tarantino XX - Reservoir Dogs Screening

Even though I barely survived the worst class of my entire educational career (Materials for Optical Systems just in case you're curious), I managed to escape to my local movie theater and see the most important film in cinematic history: Reservoir Dogs

Without Reservoir Dogs, we wouldn't have masterpieces such as Pulp Fiction and Kill BillTrue Romance and Natural Born Killers may have defined Tarantino as a writer, but it was Reservoir Dogs that defined him as a director.  Using a funky soundtrack and iconic film shots, Tarantino proved his chops and transformed cinema with his witty dialogue and ultra violence.  And because of it, he created a cult following and at least one super duper fan...

To celebrate Tarantino's 20 years of film making, they created an awesome bluray box set containing all his films (including True Romance).  Even though I already own each disc on their own, one day I will have to buy this collection.  It has some exclusive special features and some beautiful box art (I have to find this artist and get him to do an issue of Tarantino Comics).

Also to celebrate the 20 years, they showed Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction for 1 day only at Fathom Events movie theaters.  I was able to catch the Reservoir Dogs screening, but unfortunately missed Pulp Fiction because of exams.  Luckily I saw Pulp Fiction earlier this year at the Garden Theater (see here).

Before showing Reservoir Dogs, they had about 10 minutes of interviews showing the influence of the movie on other filmmakers such as Eli Roth.  Also to make the showing unique, Tarantino provided three trailers from his own personal collection:

If you don't see the common bond, its Harvey Keitel.  Of these three films, the only one I've ever seen is Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets.  And although I would love to see Ridley Scott's The Duellists , Mother, Jugs and Speed is a film I have to find!  With a funny Bill Cosby and a gorgeous Raquel Welch, I can definitely see how this "black and busty" comedy fits Tarantino's sensibilities.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Halloween 2012

A week has gone by since Halloween, but to continue last year's tradition (click here), I needed to share my favorite part of the holiday:  Pumpkin Carving!  

This year I went a little overboard and carved three pumpkins.  The first two are inspired from Steven SpielbergJaws and ET

I tried to find a pattern to complete the  Spielberg theme, but had to settle with a Joe Dante character instead.  However, I'm not displeased because Gizmo is definitely a crowd favorite.

Here's one last group shot, including two pumpkins carved by my brother and sister:  The Wolfman and Wonder Woman.  So next year, if you're looking for some cool patterns, be sure to check out

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bullet Points: Monstrous Beasts

Since we're getting close to Halloween, I'm in the mood for some creature features.  Literal monsters can been pretty scary, but sometimes the psychological ones can be downright terrifying. So to try and make a theme, here's some of the monstrous things I've recently watched:

  • Black Moon:  Lately I've really enjoyed collecting films from the Criterion Collection.  If you subscribe to their Facebook page, you can really benefit from some deals such as 50% off sales.  At times, these films can be a little too artsy for me, but I definitely appreciate Criterion for making some of the best film transfers, commentaries, and supplements to ever be seen.  For this particular case, Louis Malle's Black Moon didn't make a lot of sense (then again, I don't think it's supposed to), but this film has some beautiful and unforgettable moments.  To sum up my stream of conscience (and I'm sure it won't make much sense to you either), this is what what I experienced from the movie:  A military war between men and women, talking plants and animals, an ugly unicorn, naked children beating up a pig, incestuous sibling care-takers, and breast-feeding absurdness... What's not to enjoy!?!?

  • Jaws:  I really don't think I need to go into depth, but this is one of the most influential horror masterpieces in cinematic history.  To continue celebrating Universal's 100th Anniversary, Jaws was remastered frame by frame.  I always thought the film looked awesome from the transfers I've seen, but if you compare screenshots of this blu-ray to others, it's superior.  I would also like to point out Jaws recently made Tarantino's Top 10 List for the 2012 Sight and Sound Poll.  Although other film makers exploited Steven Spielberg's vision of unknown natural terrors (such as Grizzly), Tarantino would make an exhilarating monster flick.  

  • Godzilla:  Before there was even Jaws, the Japanese made the original giant monster - Godzilla!  I truly enjoyed watching this film and appreciated how the film makers used a guy in a rubber lizard suit to cause so much destruction.  Although the suit itself is terrifying (I think the original design is my favorite), there are some dark and horrific moments where Godzilla isn't even seen... And too think, is it pure coincidence these moments take place near the ocean?  I rewatched this classic from the Criterion blu-ray.  Included with this print are some documentaries of how Godzilla actually came to fruition.  I always just thought Godzilla was created for sheer entertainment.  However, the monster was supposed to be a social commentary for the disaster created by atomic weapons.  Besides the atomic bombs drops during WWII, there was also some nuclear testing that caused death to a crew of fisherman coined the Lucky Dragon Incident.  It's amazing how these messages can be hidden in film.

  • The Brood:  I've been searching for this film for a long time.  I finally saw it at my local Movie Stop and I immediately picked it up.  Being one of David Cronenberg's earlier films, The Brood is pretty terrifying.  In hindsight, I actually laugh at myself, but there's a certain part in the film where I had to actually pause the movie and get a drink of water so I wouldn't be so freaked out.  The story is about a father who is trying to keep his daughter away from her mother who is locked up in a mental institute.  However, there are some supernatural forces causing horrific murders near the little girl - all believed to be linked to the isolated mother.  With images of body horror associated with the Cronenberg name (including some frightening "little people"), The Brood is a hidden horror gem more people should recognize.

  • Dexter: The only reason I subscribe to Showtime is so that I can watch Dexter (and now Homeland, but we'll discuss that at some later time).  If you watch the show, you know why this season is so intriguing (the Deb and Dex debacle).  However, if you have no idea what I'm talking about, do yourself a service:  Watch the finale of Season 6.  I'm extremely excited to see how the sibling's relationship progresses.  Plus, this season guest stars Yvonne Strahovski (the hot spy from Chuck), my favorite blonde on Television (sadly an actress unknown to a lot of people I know). 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Silver Screen Awesomeness: Spielberg / Hitchcock Double Feature

Ever since I've watched Pulp Fiction at the cinema, I've kept my eyes open for other classics to appear on the big screen.  Recently, I've been fortunate enough to see two awesome films at Regal Cinemas:

Raiders of the Lost Ark:
  To celebrate the release of Indiana Jones on Blu-Ray, Raiders was recently projected on the big screen.  Having only seen the "Cold War Era" of Indy at the movies, it was truly a privilege to see the original film the way it was meant to be seen.

The Birds:  As much as I love Indiana Jones, I've seen the film hundreds of times and know the story by heart.  However, for Alfred Hitchcock's thriller, I've never even seen the film on my TV.  With a brief discussion with Robert Osborne prior to the film, The Birds was presented by TCM and Fathom Events to Celebrate a 100 years of film making by Universal Pictures.  To continue this year-long celebration, other classics such as Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein will be shown later this year.

Although these two films are completely different from each other, they were both crafted by masters of the art form.  They are often discussed by fans and scholars alike.  Since so much analysis has already been performed on these films, I want to note some similarities that make these movies so fantastic:
  • The Sound:  Maybe my audio system at home sucks, but I definitely noticed the sound effects at the movie theatre.  In Raiders, the gunshots cracked and whizzed across the entire theatre while the thud of a punch cracked pain into my lower jaw.  As for The Birds, the piercing screams of the feathery animals truly hurt my ears, making it hard to watch the chaos spawned across the town.  Especially in the final scene where Tippi Hedren is attacked in the attic, I literally had to cover my eyes and ears from a sensory overload of terror.
  •  Fierce Women:  Harrison Ford and Rod Taylor play the stereotypical heroes of their films, however they are not accompanied by the typical damsel in distress.  Both Karen Allen and Tippi Hedren are strong willed  women who can carry their own (and who doesn't like a strong female character).  Just for fun, if I had my choice of either woman at their prime, I'd have to go with Karen Allen.  It's a hard decision, but Karen has the edge because I love seeing her in that white dress (and she's a brunette).
  • Supernatural Sensibilities:  Raiders is definitely an adventure flick while The Birds is definitely a thriller.  However, they both deviate from their typical genre with some sci-fi twists.  Raiders contains Nazi's searching for supernatural power to speak to God.  While in the Birds, well... there's man-eating killer birds.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tarantino Comics - Issue 26

The last 40 minutes of Death Proof contain the most thrilling-on-the-edge-of-your-seat-action that has ever appeared in cinematic history.  I don't care who you are:  You fear for Zoe Bell's life as Stuntman Mike tries to ram her clinging body from the hood of the Dodge Challenger.  When the audience finally gets a moment to breathe, it's this scene depicted in Tarantino Comics #26 that transforms the audience's nail-biting fear into joyful yelps of revenge:

Drawn by Nathan Wiedemer, Tarantino Comics #26 was drawn at Megacon 2012.  Done in an animated style, this cover is jam packed with so much awesomeness.  The caricature of Kurt Russell is spot on and shows his comedic agony after being shot.  And although Zoe is carrying a wooden plank rather than a metal rod, I love each girl's expression of sweet revenge.

Nathan is a very talented artist and cartoonist.  But don't let his cartoony style keep you away because all of his illustrations are filled with richness, detail, and colors.  Nathan previously drew an awesome Zorro piece for me that carries the same artistic sensibilities shown in this Death Proof scene.  So if you ever see Nathan at a convention, be sure to grab up his artwork.  He's an extremely humble guy and does terrific work.  But in the meantime be sure to checkout his website at:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bullet Points - My Train Ride through India, Giallo, and Drugstores

The Darjeeling Express - After seeing Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson has definitely entered my radar.  Although I wouldn't usually consider these "slice of life" films my type of movie, they are absolutely fun and entertaining.  Taking place on a railroad, this story shows the coming together of three very different brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman) who don't necessarily get along.  It's a great tour of India through the eyes of some quirky performances (including Bill Murray's).  The Criterion edition includes an interesting discussion with Wes Anderson and how the history of Indian film and music has inspired this film.   But if this heartfelt stuff  just doesn't float your boat, the Criterion does include a small prequel , "Hotel Chevalier."  Similar to the shorts premiered  before a Pixar film,  the story shows the lonely love life of Schwartzman's character and his complicated relationship with a bruised, yet very beautiful (and nude) Natalie Portman...

Drugstore Cowboy - Whenever I see Matt Dillon, I just think he looks like a jerk (which is totally wrong for me to say because I don't even know the guy).  But as you watch him in this film, he becomes a likable bad guy (although he transforms and redeems himself by the end).  Being Gus Van Sant's first film, this an interesting tale of how people burglarize pharmacies to get high and sell their stolen drugs. With a fun cast of characters (including Heather Graham), there are times of pain and sadness, but there's nowhere near the thrashing beating like after watching Requiem for a Dream.

The Long Goodbye - With The Master coming out this week, Robert Altman has supposedly been a major influence to Paul Thomas Anderson.  There's not too many Altman films on Netflix, but The Long Goodbye is one of them.  Following Elliot Gould (who I mainly know from Ocean's 11) as Philip Marlowe, he's a private eye trying to prove his friend's innocence after his wife was murdered.  Gould plays the character very interestingly, where he's a man of indifference who mumbles to himself, attempts to take care of his cat, and lives next door to naked hippies.  Although Altman brings humor to the story, shocking scenes unexpectedly explode from the screen, such as a mob boss cutting up his mistress's face.  There's also an interesting performance by Sterling Hayden who plays the drunkard husband of Marlowe's "love interest."  The Long Goodbye is a film I watched somewhat delirious at 2am in the morning, but I could definitely watch more Altman movies to see how he's shaped film throughout history.

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage -  In Tarantino's Death Proof, there is a scene where Stuntman Mike is stalking Zoe Bell's crew and taking their pictures with a telescopic camera.  This scene is a direct homage to The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, where the same eerie music is played over similarly stalker-like snapshots.  I was very curious to see the original source material, so I ordered the film on blu-ray, but Amazon ran out of stock after my order was placed.  When I originally ordered the film over a year ago, it was only $10, but now the Blue Underground print sells for at least $50 used.  So I recently stopped at my local Movie Stop where they had a 3-disc boxset of low grade Giallo horror films.  Luckily it included Dario Argento's masterpiece and only cost $7.99!!!  This isn't the best film transfer, but the POV killshots of helpless women being slashed behind the eyes of a shadowed killer made me feel like I was at the Grindhouse.  And other than Hitchcock, I can understand why Argento's reveal has most likely influenced Brian DePalma in making some awesome Erotic Thrillers.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tarantino Comics - Issue 25

Kill Bill is my favorite movie of all time and due to its popularity, I'm pretty surprised no one has drawn a Gogo Yubari (especially with the large Anime presence at cons).  But never fear, this atrocity was fixed in Tarantino Comics #25, drawn by Ray Richardson at Megacon 2012:

Throughout this series, I've yet to have any real pinup covers.  However, with all the beautiful women in Tarantino films, Gogo was awesome place to start.  Besides, a little cheesecake doesn't hurt every once in a while...

Ray did an awesome job with the cover, showing the kinetic energy flowing from her ball and chain.  Also, the interesting angle and perspective beautifully shows off her "Battle Royale" schoolgirl outfit.  Ray did a terrific job with the title banner, showing clean lines and blood slicing through the letters, something that can only be done with the comic medium.

Make sure to stop by Ray if you ever see him at a con.  But for now, check out his work at: .  He draws beautiful women, has a unique comic style, and is a super nice guy.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bullet Points - Martha Marcy May Marlene and Much Much More

 Here's some things I've watched in the last couple of weeks:
  • Louie - I'm always looking for Netflix TV shows to watch while torturing myself on the elliptical.  In the past, I've watched series such as Sons of Anarchy, Arrested Development, and Twin Peaks.  As I'm struggling to keep the motivation, FX has once again proven to be a powerhouse of entertainment.  In a similar vain to Seinfeld, Louie follows the life of comedian Louis C.K.  Louie is truly an auteur - He's the leading actor, writer, director, and producer.  He captures the humor of New York life with a gritty film style.  At times, the show can become quite serious and dramatic, but somehow that's where the humor really shines (I'm not sure how to explain).  Louie may be considered the "comedian's comedian," but there's plenty of times where I can't contain loud bursts of laughter exploding from my stomach as I try to burn calories at my local YMCA.  Anyways, I'm caught up with network television, so now it's time to find another show to get me through the gym...
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene - If you were to tell me the baby sister of the Olsen Twins had some serious acting chops, I wouldn't believe you.  However, Elisabeth Olsen proved me wrong in this psychological drama following a girl escaping a nutty cult.  Beautifully crafted, the film starts off with Martha running away from a creepy farmhouse and relocating with her older sister.  As Martha attempts to rejoin society (with odd behaviors such as swimming nude in a public lake or having a panic attack at a friendly dinner party), it shows how her mind was reprogrammed  by the cult through flashbacks.  The film does a terrific job arguing why this cult may be appealing (by showing the complications of our materialistic world), but obviously there was some horrific incidents that persuaded Martha to run away.  With a sense of constant paranoia, this movie is a horror flick in its own right and has brought my attention to a new star.
  • Katy Perry:  Part of Me - As you all know, I'm a huge fan of Katy Perry (see here).  And I admit, it may be a little gay to see this movie with a couple of other dudes, but how can you argue with seeing Katy in her full 3D Glory?!?! 
  • Ted - Everyone loves Family Guy.  So why not make a live action hour-and-a-half episode?  Filled with tons of pop culture references (especially Flash Gordon), Marky Mark, and crude humor, this movie is a riot.  And besides, you get to see the voice behind Meg...
  • Modern Times - The Artist has proven to be fun and whimsical movie.  I've also seen some Lon Chaney silents that are pretty eerie and frightening.  So how come I've never watched a Charlie Chaplin film?  Finally I popped in a used Criterion blu-ray disc I bought from Movie Stop almost a year ago and believe I came across a masterpiece.  Basically, Modern Times is a commentary of the Industrial Age and the Great Depression, but this film has a little bit of everything - Comedy, Romance, and Drama.  I loved all of the Tramp's humor, but it was his interaction with the homeless woman (Paullete Goddard) that really pulled at my heart strings.  And even though she's only shown in black and white (along with smears of dirt on her face), Paulette is gorgous - I believe she would have been my Jessica Alba if I was alive in the 1930's.  Anyways, I was really surprised by the film, loved the music (even composed by Chaplin), and laughed outloud several times. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tarantino Comics - Issue 24

Wow!  I'm horrible at keeping my blog up to date, but since this is my 100th post, this surely calls for a celebration!  Inspired from Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino Comics #24 was illustrated by Mario Gonzalez at Megacon 2012.

This may be the most cartoony piece in the series, but I love it!  Mario is a huge fan of film and had no problem capturing the essence of this horrific scene - but with a slightly comedic slant.  This is probably the most memorable sequence of Reservoir Dogs and has been a favorite among artists (as you can see here and here).  But the way Mario humorously depicts Mr. Blonde sharpening  his razor creates a sense of terror and suspense in its own right.  Since the soundtrack is such an important staple to Tarantino films, Mario is also the first to include a song as a tagline - "Stuck in the Middle with You" - something I've been eagerly waiting for an artist to incorporate.  Last and not least, look at the colors in this piece - the scan does not do it justice, but the colors are purely mesmerizing, beautiful, and brilliant.

If you ever see Mario at a con, be sure to say hi.  I met him previously at a CGS Super Show and he quickly kicked out some awesome work (he did a Killdozer for my dad and Beaker vs. The Count von Count for me).  He's truly a nice guy and a fun person to talk to.  Be sure to check out his webcomic Wyliman at .  You can also support him by purchasing hard copies, where there's tons of laughs and pop culture references inside!

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises - My Love Letter to Batman

I can't believe it's finally here!  Having just watched The Dark Knight Rises early this morning (8:45 am), I'm just as pumped to go see it again!  But before I tell you how much I enjoyed it, I want to share why Batman has become an integral part of my life:

He is claimed to be the favorite superhero of many, but Batman is MY FAVORITE.  Whether the medium is comic books, cartoons, or movies, I truly love his character.  I believe I have such a huge connection with Batman because of my father.  My dad, one of the most important figures in my life has shown me the entertainment of comic books.  Although somewhat vague, I can remember my dad bringing me to Tim Burton's Batman at the age of 3.  A few years later, I even remember seeing Batman Returns - My First Midnight Showing.  But it was Bruce Timm's Batman: The Animated Series that got me hooked to the character.  This cartoon defines so much of my childhood nostalgia. At that moment, I didn't really read comics, but I loved Batman - I had Batman action figures, Batman coloring books, and even Batman underwear.  

When I got to middle school, Star Wars became more my vice (yes this was a darker time).  But my disloyalty to Batman didn't last long as I got reinvigorated with comic book characters with a silly dice game called HeroClix.  The only place you could find these game pieces was at the comic book shop.  On one of my visits to the store, I strayed away from the game shelves and walked by the comic book racks.  There were lots of neat looking books, but there was one cover in particular that caught my eyes (and believe it or not, it was because of the tread on his shoes) - Batman #608 - Jim Lee's premiere issue to DC Comics.


To me, this was the dawning of a new era.  I fell in love with comic books, reading every story arc I could afford with the little money I had.  I loved all the characters, but there was only one I associated myself with the most - Batman.  Even senior year of high school, we had unofficial superlatives and I was the one named "Most Likely to be the Next Batman."  When I went to college, I decorated my dorm room with Batman statues, Batman posters, and even Batman bed sheets .  Thank God I had an understanding girlfriend at the time, because I repeated my whole childhood over again. 

Luckily, times have changed and pop culture has allowed nerdy comic books to be integrated with mainstream entertainment.  At the beginning, Marvel Comics dominated the box office with their summer blockbuster hits.  Always being more of a DC Comics fan, I waited many hours in line to see a movie in IMAX by rising director Christopher Nolan... and boy was I not disappointed.  Just as Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns transformed comics into a new direction, Batman Begins proved superhero movies could be transformed into works of art.  A few years later, without any hesitation, I showed up for the midnight IMAX premiere of The Dark Knight... and boy was I not disappointed.  This time, Nolan proved the critical success of comic book stories, resulting in some Oscar nominations, and even a win by the late Heath Ledger.  And finally, after four long years of waiting (and yes I'm kicking myself for waiting too long to purchase tickets for the midnight premiere), I was back in the theatre to see the final chapter of the character I most love - The Dark Knight Rises.

Christopher Nolan has made the most extraordinary trilogy ever - And can you believe it's based on my favorite character of all times?  Since this movie is so integrated with the first two films, Nolan ensures that every scene shot throughout his trilogy is meaningful.  Never fear, if you haven't re-watched the first two in quite some time, Nolan helps you out by carefully interweaving all key points you need to know in this last chapter. This movie is a step above the rest, almost having the feel of Revolutionary War film rather than your standard action flick.

Since this movie just came out, I don't want to spoil anything, but I have to mention some things I highly enjoyed:

  1. Christopher Nolan as Director - Christopher Nolan is one of the most innovative director's I know.  He doesn't waste of his previous techniques and only expands upon them.  If you enjoyed some of the visuals of Inception, you will love the opening sequence. 
  2. Tom Hardy as Bane - Tom Hardy's performance is terrific and terrifying at the same time.  Let's just say Hardy's performance has familiarities with his previous one in Bronson.
  3. The Batwing - Just as I was wary of the Bat Tumbler in Batman Begins, I was pleasantly surprised by the "BatWing."  The visuals are fantastic and its usage made sense to the story.
  4. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake - In my opinion, Gordon-Levitt is one of the most talented actors in Hollywood. He can do no wrong in my book (I even love his duets with Zooey Deschanel).  I'm not going to say anything about his character in the movie, but you will enjoy the hell out of his performance.
  5. Anne Hathaway as Catwoman - Forget Halle Berry ever existed, this is how Catwoman should be depicted.  Mr. Nolan, I would love to see more adventures of Selina Kyle.
Much credit must also be given to Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary OldmanTheir performances have defined a new Batman mythos I find highly respectable.  To me, this is of utmost importance because this is the Batman the public will remember.  Their performances, combined with Hans Zimmer's powerful score and Nolan's storytelling has created an Epic Trilogy that has made me shiver with goosebumps and fight off tears of emotion - someting very few movies make me do.

Christopher Nolan, thank you for protecting the Batman I love.

So on Death List Five, The Dark Knight Rises ranks #5.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pulp Fiction at the Garden Theatre

As much as I love Tarantino films, I've only seen two on the big screen: Death Proof and Inglourious Basterds.  I am truly ashamed of myself because I should've snuck into the theater back in high school to see Kill Bill.  But last night, I redeemed myself of this atrocity by rewatching his seminal classic on the silver screen: Pulp Fiction (music cue Miserlou).

I was fortunate enough to see Pulp Fiction on the big screen in downtown Winter Garden, Florida.  I've never visited the area, but it's definitely a cool place to hangout.  Plotted with cobble stone bricks, the area is surrounded with mom and pop shops including a book store, a bicycle shop, and even a railroad museum.  And there's plenty of restaurants to eat from whether it's Thai food or ice cream.  But as much as I enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere, the main reason I came to Winter Garden was to visit the Garden Theatre

Usually a stage for concerts , dances, and plays, the Garden Theatre puts up a large screen to play cult films over the summer.  With only one screen, an awesome sound system, and comfortable seats, the Garden Theatre is much nicer than your dingy grindhouse. 

Other than the obvious, I saw Pulp Fiction in theatre to experience the audience reaction.  With tons of laughter between Vincent and Jule's conservations (and even at Mia's Fox Force Five Joke) and a rolling applause at the final credits, this viewing  reaffirmed the power of Tarantino's dialogue. In addition to the laughter, most notable reactions were:
  • OD'ing Mia:  Based on the reaction of the crowd, I believe Mia OD'ing was the most tense moment of the movie.  As Vincent is about to plunge a needle into Mia's heart with an adrenaline shot, almost everyone covered their eyes in suspense and fear.
  • The Pawn Shop:  When Butch and Marcellus were bound and gagged, there was a Seven moment as someone in the theatre kept on saying "What's in the box" as the cage holding the gimp was shown.  Once the box was opened and the gimp was revealed, there were multiple gasps of "WTF."  After Butch freed himself while Marcellus was being raped, there was a sigh of disappointment when he reaches the pawnshop door and decides not to exit.  However, the disappointment was overshadowed with cheer as Butch selects the samurai sword over the hammer, baseball bat, and chainsaw.
Last night, I was also able to conduct a study in which I would like to call the "Pulp Fiction Experiment."  I propose, as long as you're not a psycho ultra-conservative Christian, you will enjoy Pulp Fiction.  So I brought a friend who has never seen the film as my test subject.  I'm sad to admit, but I was a little afraid she would disprove my theory because she absolutely hates horror films .  Nonetheless, my hypothesis was proven to be correct as she highly enjoyed the film.  So thanks for coming chica!!!

Although they won't be playing anymore Tarantino films this summer, be sure to check out the Garden Theatre if you're in the Winter Garden area.  For only a five dollar admission, you can't beat the deal if you're a fan of film.  You can look up their summer programming here:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bullet Points - Exploitation with Some Wes Anderson

I'm constantly finding new things to watch but just don't have the time to write fully involved reviews due to school. So as a compromise, I'm going to bullet and give some quick thoughts of what I watch each week (and I promise Tarantino Comics is the staple of this blog and will not disappear).  So for this July 4th week, here's what I watched:  

Shogun Assassin - I've finally started the journey of my 5 movie blu-ray set.  I originally picked this up because  BB falls asleep to this revenge flick in Kill Bill.  The assassin's son's narration is very chilling, but is balanced with some fun creativity.  For example, the baby's wooden stroller is like a James Bond car, but instead of machine guns, it's loaded with blades of steel.  I enjoyed this film overall and excited to watch the rest of the series.   

Wilfred - I missed the season premiere two weeks ago, but I quickly caught back up.  Elijah Wood is an extremely likable character and it pains me to see him be tortured by a mischievous dog (who he sees as a man in a giant dog suit).  The situations are uncomfortable, almost unbearable, but that's why I continue to watch.  Also it's nice to see Chloe from Smallville... and I must say, I like her as a brunette.  

Desperado - I mainly put it in for some background noise while studying, but I forgot how beautiful Salma Hayek is.  Also, the Mariachi inspired me to learn some Spanish guitar - so I ended up buying a Manuel Rodriguez flamenco guitar.  Guitar Center had some Independence Day sales, so I decided to splurge.  It's a much different style from the Green Day style I'm use to playing, but it will be fun to learn.  Maybe there will be some Chingon covers posted by me in the future...  

The Faculty - I've never seen this Robert Rodriguez film before, but I had to watch it since it was recently added to Netflix.  With an awesome cast - Elijah Wood and Josh Hartnett as the heroes, Jordana Brewster as the pre-Rachel Berry hottie, and Salma Hayek as the school nurse - this is a fun teen horror movie.  

Moonrise Kingdom -  Although I may be biased since Scouting was such a strong influence in my youth, hands down, this is the best movie I've seen this year.  The only Wes Anderson film I've ever seen was The Royal Tenenbaums (which I remember enjoying in high school), but I have to go back and watch some of his other work.  Almost all of his films have are part of the Criterion Collection so that has to be saying something.  Anyways, between rotary and parallel panning (there's probably more technical terms than what I just used), Moonrise Kingdom has some of the most creative film techniques I've ever seen (on par with DePalma in my opinion).  With a star studded cast (Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, and Frances McDormand just to name a few), this comedy has many heartfelt moments that made me fall in love with film all over again.
That's it for this week.  Next week, plan on some Breaking Bad, hopefully some Savages, and yes... Katy Perry.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Payback - New Django Unchained Teaser Trailer!

2012 is going to blow 2011 out of the water!  With Prometheus, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Master, these are only a few of the movies I can't wait to see.  But despite all the great work coming out this year, the movie I'm most anxious to watch, the film I constantly check up on IMDB, the picture I can't wait for to inspire some Tarantino Comics is Django Unchained:

Bottom Line:  Django Unchained is going to be a wicked revenge epic.  I haven't read any of the leaked screenplays, but based on the trailer, I can foresee Tarantino's 5 Classic Non-Linear Title Carded Chapters:
  1. Black Romance
  2. The Bounty Hunter and the Slave
  3. Hunt for the Brittle Brothers
  4. Calvin Candie's Battle Royale
  5. Saving Broomhilda aka Django's Revenge
One last note, it's interesting James Brown's The Payback was chosen for the trailer.  Besides Natural Born Killers, this song is the only other similarity I can think of between Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone.  However, it totally makes sense for a revenge movie and Tarantino's funk sensibilities.

Anyways, have I said I can't wait for this movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tarantino Comics - Issue 23

Please forgive me, but I've been to 3 cons since I've last posted an  issue of Tarantino Comics.  This new optics degree is really kicking my ass, so I haven't been able to watch as many movies as I'd like.  But never fear, I have several new covers to share!  So let's start with the beginning of my 2012 Comic Convention Tour - MegaCon.  Inspired from Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino Comics #23 was illustrated by Ashley Lanni.

Ashley drew a very elegant piece depicting Shoshanna smoking her cigarette in the cafe.  Although not a lot of action actually happens in this scene, Shoshanna is forever haunted by the memories of her family being slaughtered by Colonel Landa.  As Shoshanna suffers through the musings of Fredrick Zoller, Ashley's  "Eisner-ish" sensibilities beautifully depict these emotions through the "Au Revoir" second hand smoke.  In addition to this creative cover, Shoshanna's likeness is almost spot on with Mélanie Laurent.

If you want to see more of Ashley's work, be sure to check out her blog at .  Support her work as she definitely has some awesome artistic talent.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three - A TV Episode made for the Movies

Although I've never seen the remake by Tony Scott, Joseph Sargent's The Taking of Pelham 123 has a realistic film style that has influenced the movies of today. Taking place in New York City, four men hijack a subway train demanding a ransom of one million dollars. If the city is unable to make the payment within one hour, they will start murdering hostages one by one. With a rescue mission headed by the city transit department, will Lieutenant Zachary Garber (played by Walter Matthau) prevent the criminals from killing?

The Taking of Pelham 123 captures the realistic grittiness happening in the films of the 1970's. It opens up with an powerful musical score where the booming horns and trombones foreshadow the danger upcoming in the film. Even though the story is fictional, the people and settings are real, allowing even the exaggerated to be believable. I'm not certain, but upon viewing, most scenes look like they were shot on location, taking place in either the subway tunnels or city streets. In a similar vain to the French Connection, there is a fun car chase sequence where the protagonist is speeding to keep up with a train - But rather than pursuing a tram visibly over head, the subway being chased is racing hidden down below.

The film's biggest strength is the showcase of realistic dialogue and attitude from New York City. The conversations are highly entertaining and may be even more memorable than the action itself. The script is filled with humorous puns and wittiness that allows the audience to let out a few chuckles. Looking over Joseph Sargent's filmography, most of his work has been in television. Since television usually has a smaller budget than the movies, they rely more on the verbal interactions between people. Sargent masterfully directs these interactions whether its hostage negations over the radio or even right at hand between two officers driving in a car.

One last note I must mention since this blog is named after Mr. Tarantino - The disguised criminals are given code names after the colors of the rainbow - Mr. Blue, Mr. Green, Mr. Grey, and Mr. Brown. Besides green and grey, the idea of code names definitely has a familiar ring... Although their uniforms are not as sharp looking as the Reservoir Dogs, their attire is more British looking probably because they are led by Robert Shaw. And like most heist crews we see on the silver screen, personalities clash among its members leading to accidental death and disaster.

So on Death List Five, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three ranks #3.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Screw The Hunger Games - Watch Battle Royale!

All across the news media (especially my Facebook feed), I've seen so much buzz on the highly anticipated Hollywood Blockbuster - The Hunger Games. If you haven't already purchased a ticket for this weekend, chances are you'll be sadly disappointed arriving to a sold-out show. However, if you want to avoid seeing 21 Jump Street for a second time, pick up a copy of the original Hunger Games - Battle Royale!

Now I'm going to be a hypocrite since I've neither seen nor read Suzanne Collins' novels, but The Hunger Games sounds like a ripoff of Battle Royale. Let's compare each film's IMDB one-sentence synopsis:

Battle Royale: "In the future, the Japanese government captures a class of ninth-grade students and forces them to kill each other under the revolutionary "Battle Royale" act."

The Hunger Games: "Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister's place for the latest match."

With the exception of Katniss Everdeen, Entertainment Weekly even points out the similarities between Battle Royale and The Hunger Games. I'm fairly certain this weekend's movie based on the 2008 book will be pretty awesome, but how can you not think there is a little theft of ideas from the 2000 Japanese film?

I'm probably angering a lot of fans because I'm talking a lot of smack for someone who has never seen either film, but until now, Americans couldn't get their hands on Battle Royale unless they pirated a bootleg copy. Luckily (and smartly planned) Anchor Bay Entertainment has finally made one of the most controversial film series readily available on Blu-Ray disc. And why am I so excited? Look at the red sticker on my beautifully packaged collection:

Tarantino! Until I have enough time to watch, digest, and enjoy, 'Nuff Said!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Psycho - What does it Share with The Empire Strikes Back?

If you ask a random person off the street about The Flash's secret identity, more than likely they've never read a comic book in their life. Furthermore, I doubt they'd be able to tell you Barry Allen (and I really doubt if they would tell Jay, Wally, or Bart). However, if you ask anyone about Superman's, they'll quickly respond Clark Kent. Similarly, only cinephiles can tell you the director of movies like Strangers on a Train, Dial M for Murder, and Rebecca. But the minute you mention Psycho, immediately Alfred Hitchcock registers to the brain, regardless if they've seen the movie or not.

Everyone knows Psycho's plot: Marion Crane (played by Janet Leigh) decides to run away after she steals $40,000 from her workplace. Tired from driving, Marion stops for some rest off the old highway - The Bates Motel. Run by a peculiar young man named Norman Bates (played by Anthony Perkins), he also takes care of his cruel, yet ill mother in the old house behind the motel. Not caring for Norman's attraction to their new customer, Mrs. Bates brutally stabs and kills Marion in the shower. Being the loyal son that he is, Norman gathers all evidence of Marion and disposes of it by throwing it into a nearby swamp. But when Marion's sister and lover begin searching for her, what secrets and darkness will they discover at the Bates Motel?

If you are one of the few people who doesn't know the ending to Hitchcock's film, stop reading now and do yourself a service - Pick up Psycho and watch a Cinematic Masterpiece. I'd love to be in your shoes!

Now, I'm going to believe most people are like me and probably knew the film's "twist" before even seeing it. In my case, Universal Studios spoiled Psycho's ending in their Alfred Hitchcock Exhibit when I was only a kindergartner. I vividly remember because my family got to skip to the front of the line since my grandfather was chosen to play Norman Bates in a reenactment of Psycho's shower scene. I laugh back on it now, but I was terrified to sleep next to my Grandpa that night...

Just as everyone knows Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father, it's synonymous that Norman Bates is the killer. These pieces of pop culture are so ingrained with society that they've become common knowledge. Personally, I wish I could rewatch this film and be as surprised as those who first viewed it in 1960. I imagine the next generation will have a similar relationship to The Sixth Sense since it's parodied so much in movies and television. Regardless, if you do know the ending of Psycho, you can easily enjoy the movie as the suspense is created through the characters, cinematography, and music.

I highly recommend picking up the latest Blu-Ray because it's filled with tons of bonus features and has the seal of approval from TCM. I haven't watched Psycho in quite a while, but Anthony Perkins blows Vince Vaughn out of the water. He plays the role perfectly by showing a likable guy filled with frustrated innocence who can quickly transform into a terrifying murderer. The character of Norman Bates has made major impact on cinematic history, creating a passageway for slashers and bad guys to exist on the silver screen today.

So on Death List Five, Psycho ranks #4

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tarantino Comics - Issue 22

This is long overdue, but it's about time I showcase the final issue of Tarantino Comics from Heroes Con 2011. Presenting an issue inspired from Kill Bill, Tarantino Comics #22 was illustrated by Jay Potts.

There was no better way to end my 2011 convention season with an issue drawn by an artist who totally gets the genre of exploitation. Jay beautifully drew and inked a realistic portrayal of the infamous Elle Driver. Taking place in the close quarters of a mobile home, Jay's line work captures the claustrophobia of the scene. In addition to the fantastic artwork, I love the tagline - "An Eye for an Eye" - foreshadowing Beatrix's revenge for her master Pai Mei.

At the convention, Jay was the number one person I wanted to get a sketch from because he does an awesome blaxploitation webcomic called World of Hurt. Originally I thought he would have chose something from Jackie Brown, but I was pleasantly surprised by his final choice. Jay's artwork is reminiscent of the old Marvel Black and White Magazines and I believe he would make a kick ass Kung Fu or horror book. So be sure to check Jay's artwork, storytelling, blog posts, and opinions at

Be sure to check back soon as I've got some recent new covers from this year's MegaCon - and these are some of my favorites yet!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Woman in Black - Did the PG-13 Rating Ruin my Movie Experience?

I love going to the movie theatre because there's nothing like watching a great film on the big screen. My favorite movie experience of all time was Grindhouse - Not only was the double feature awesome, but the audience was terrific as well. It was a midnight showing where everyone wanted to be there and enjoy some Tarantino / Rodriguez action. Although there were loud outbursts of laughter, shock, and disgust, it only enhanced the movie rather than hinder it.

However, I went to a film the other day and had the exact opposite experience: Teenagers were yelling, cussing, showing off, throwing popcorn, talking on cellphones, and playing with the houselights. Majority of the audience was either exuding of hormones or dreamy-eyed over Harry Potter . Although I'm trying to isolate my viewing experience from the content of the film, The Woman in Black was a weak horror film.

Before I become even more disgusted by my fellow audience members, let's go over the premise of this film directed by James Watkins: Daniel Radcliffe is a young lawyer who recently lost his wife. Although he is filled with sadness and pain, Radcliffe must go to another village and settle the estate of a dead woman. When he visits the house, Radcliffe sees a terrifying ghost, The Woman in Black. A sighting of this evil spirit brings nothing but a dark omen - Young children of the town kill themselves. These deaths are horrific, ranging anywhere from jumping out of two-story windows, drowning themselves in the bottom of a lake, or incinerating their bodies in a blazing building. With the townspeople blaming Radcliffe for plaguing their children, will he be able to solve the Woman in Black's mystery before it's too late to save his own son?

I thought this film particularly suffered from having a weak and convoluted storyline. There was really no character development and it was never clear what loose ends Radcliffe had to tie up in the haunted house. The strongest points were the costuming, lighting, and set design. Set in Old England, the film's darkness and texture carried the presence of the old Hammer films. But despite the creepiness of the possessed toys reminiscent of Poltergeist, all of the horror relied on cheap scare shots and loud noises.

Now, this probably isn't a fair statement, but I believe I would have enjoyed this film a lot more if it was rated R. Would it have kept immature adolescents away from my presence? Yes, but I was expecting more thrill and scare. I've seen both The Ring and The Grudge (both PG-13 films) on the big screen and they both conducted enjoyable movie experiences. These films had enthralling stories and a dark ambiance to keep their audience entertained. I know I'm ranting, but with the exception of being Radcliffe's first film after Harry Potter, this movie has no elements of cult status.

So on Death List Five, The Woman in Black ranks #2.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tarantino Comics - Issue 21

Besides not having enough time to write blog posts, I've been trying to spread out my presentation of Tarantino Comics since Convention Season always seems so far away. However, in two weeks, Mega Con will be in town and I'll be able to commission some more comic covers! So presenting an issue from 2011's Heroes Con, Tarantino Comics #21 was illustrated by Doug Dabbs.

Inspired from Inglourious Basterds, Doug depicts the darkness of Colonel Hans Landa aiming his pistol at Shosanna as she narrowly escapes from the LaPadite Dairy Farm. Over the last five years of collecting original art, the art most appealing to my eye has a dark and sketchy tone. In a similar vain to Alex Maleev or Michael Lark, Doug captures this scene as if it's coming from film noir. Doug first drew The Shadow in my Pulp Sketchbook and he knocked it out of the park. I'm glad I came back as he portrayed the essence of Landa in a cinematic manner.

Be sure to check out more of Doug's work at . In particular from Oni Press, check out his art in the original graphic novel Holliday, coming out later this year. It's a modern-day and urban telling of the O.K. Corral, so it should definitely fit the spirit of Tarantino's Django Unchained in December.

Friday, February 3, 2012

3 Extremes - A Fun Introduction to Asian Horror

So I have a confession to make - I haven't watched a lot of Japanese Horror. I admit, I'm kinda scared because some of screen shots I've seen online are quite frightening. Also, the American remakes of The Ring and The Grudge are pretty creepy, so I'm sure the original material is even worse. I'm always complaining there isn't enough scare and thrill at the movie theatres, so why not visit the foreign films I've been avoiding. And what better way than watching a little horror anthology titled 3 Extremes.

As the title suggests, this movie is composed of three stories. Now I may be cheating because only one story is Japanese, but if gives a definite cross-section of Asian horror cinema:

1. Dumplings
- This Chinese movie is directed by Fruit Chan. When you get steamed dumplings from the Chinese restaurant, they always taste so good. But have you ever wondered what kind of meat they're really stuffed with? Well, when a beautiful but aging woman is desperate for eternal youth, she's willing to try any miracle cure - Even if it means consuming dumplings filled with dead baby fetuses.

2. Cut
- This South Korean movie is directed by Chan-wook Park. You know that Green Day song, Nice Guys Finish Last? This is truly the case when an adored movie director is kept hostage in his house by one of his psychopath extras. Under the pressure of a ticking clock, the director has two choices of getting out of the situation: Strangle a little girl to death or watch his wife's fingers get chopped off one by one.

3. Box
- This Japanese movie is directed by Takashi Miike. Carnies are scary, but watching little Japanesee contortionist twins perform their act is even scarier. Haunted with memories of locking and burning her sister in tight and compact box, is the grown woman suffering from horrific nightmares or is she really being haunted by her sister's spirit?

Of the three films, my favorite was Dumplings. The story was compelling yet horrific. Watching the woman eat the dumplings was very disturbing and I cringed as her transformation came with a price.

I've previously seen Park's work in Old Boy. Although the story isn't as strong as Dumplings, seeing the decomposition of a man is one of Park's specialties. Mixed with a deranged humor, the other thing I appreciated was the set design. With disproportionate walls, checkered-tiled floors, and a demented piano death trap, it reminded me of something from a Tim Burton film.

Now the film I expected the most scare from was Takashi Miike's. Although I enjoy (yet cover my eyes in disgust) watching Ichi the Killer or Sukiyaki Western Django (featuring Tarantino), Box was my least favorite segment. Don't get me wrong, some of the scenes were pretty scary and the sounds were excruciating to the ear, but the film was more symbolic than entertaining. However, I'm still going to give Audition a try...

So on Death List Five, 3 Extremes ranks #3.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Black Swan Comic Art

One of my favorite movies of recent years is Black Swan. The story is very intriguing, it keeps you on the edge of your seat, and at times it's downright horrific. Although Aronofsky's stories are told much differently than Tarantino, his films share a similar trait in creating memorable scenes and images. On this beautiful piece of artwork, Amanda Rachels brilliantly shows Nina Sayers' transformation from the beautiful White Swan to the terrifying Black Swan.

Inked and colored on 11 x 17, this is really a fun piece of art. Amanda creates a lot detail by illustrating the kinetic energy flowing from Nina's wings, the small feathers emerging from her back, and her piercing red eyes. I've been toying with the idea of commissioning Black Swan artwork and Amanda has once again set the par (see some her fantastic Tarantino Comics covers here). I could only photograph this piece, so I'm sorry you can't see its full beauty and resolution.

I actually got this piece of artwork by pledging for Amanda and Kevin's Clown Town Kickstarter Campaign. They've actually started another Kickstarter for their graphic novel (click here), so definitely check out the site and support their work. If you donate, not only will you receive an awesome story, but you can be awarded some fantastic prizes such as this very commission now hanging on my wall!