Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A Year in Review - Part 4 (A Criterion Collection Edition)

To conclude my film journey this year, I've saved the best for last.  Here's a quick review of the Criterion Collection films I've watched in 2013:

Revanche - This Austrian revenge film was directed by Götz Spielmann.  While a criminal was robbing a bank, his prostitute girlfriend was accidently killed by a police officer.  So what better way to get back at the cop other than sleeping with his wife?

The Naked Kiss - The first minute of this Sam Fuller film was litterally a punch to the face.  When a woman escapes the life of a street walker, she believes she is starting her life anew.  However, she learns shiny opportunities can also have dark and disturbing secrets.

Cronos - Director Guillermo del Toro makes his full length cinematic debut with this eerie horror film.  He establishes notable motifs he is well known for including trinkets, fairy tales, and monsters.

Robocop - As a kid, I had a few Robocop toys.  However, I was never allowed to watch the movie.  After recently watching Paul Verhoeven's film for the first time, I now understand why my parents forbade me to watch it.  For a sci-fi film made in the 80's,  I still find it to be violent, entertaining, and relevant.

Chungking Express - I consider this to be one of my favorite films in the collection.  Made famous in Tarantino's Rolling Thunder Line, Wong Kar-wai's film is truly beautiful and mesmerising.  Built upon two different love stories, this movie is gripping enough to keep you interested even if you're not a fan of romances.  Plus, the music is awesome.

Night of the Hunter - Robert Mitchum plays a bad guy on every level.  Using religion as a torturing device, he is willing to kill women and children for money.

Last Days of Disco - As the title suggests, Whit Stillman narrates the transition into the 1980's.  Although the film is of a different tone, it's the perfect prologue to American Psycho, using Chloë Sevigny as a cast tie-in.

Stromboli - Although I've seen very few of their films, Roberto Rossellini casts Ingrid Bergman in a different light.  When a classy broad marries a man for all the wrong reasons, we see her mind and actions deteriote into desperation.  To thicken the plot, the desolate island the couple inhabits also occupies an active volcano.

Lonesome - This buried Hollywood classic is fun to watch.  It's much more than a charming tale about love at first sight.  This movie captures so much substance on both a technical and historical level.  The filming of Coney Island is such a treat to the eyes.

The Wages of Fear - Who says that Black and White films can't carry thrill and suspense?  Obviously they never watched Hitchcock.  But besides the Master of Suspense, Henri-Georges Clouzot had me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire movie.  Watching a convoy of trucks transport highly combustable fuel through hazardous terrain makes Keanu Reeves' Speed look like childs play.  After watching this masterpiece, I can't wait to get my hands on William Friedkin's Sorcerer.

There's a few films I left off because I'd like to write something more in depth in the future.  Regardless, stay tuned as I plan to switch things up next post!  Maybe a new issue of Tarantino Comics...

Friday, December 27, 2013

2013: A Year in Review - Part 3

Following up from the last post, this almost concludes my viewing list of 2013:

The Conjuring - Once again, James Wan makes another fun haunted house film, this time harkening back to the 1970's.  I enjoyed the idea of a married couple visiting haunted grounds, exorcising demons, and storing evil relics in their personal museum.

Frankenweenie - This is the best Tim Burton film in years!  I enjoyed this adaption of his original short and the homages to the cheesy sci-fi and horror films of the 50's.

Oblivion - I know a lot of people don't like Tom Cruise, but I really enjoyed this film.  It has a lot of influence from various sci-fi films, but it uses them to create one unique story.  Plus, Zoe Bell makes a quick appearance at the end of the film.

Prisoners - This movie reminded me of Zodiac, especially the police procedural with Jake Gyllenhaal.  Also, the "prison" scenes with Hugh Jackman and Paul Dano were some of the most thought provoking yet disturbing sequences to see this year.

From Beyond - Scientists unlock the secret functionality of the Pineal Gland (it's a third eye in your brain).  But in doing so, the unleash terrors from another dimension.  Imagined from the mind of H.P. Lovecraft and directed by Stuart Gordon, this was a fun horror gem I never heard of.  Thanks Scream Factory!

This is the End - Featuring the typical "Apatow Comedy Cast," this film shows how a bunch of celebrities would react to the Apocalypse.

The World 's End - Although I feel this movie was overshadowed by This is the End, The World's End was the perfect wrap-up to Edgar Wright's Cornetto Trilogy.  Although I enjoyed the sci-fi elements, the journey of the pub crawl was most entertaining.

Bad Grandpa - This time, Johnny Knoxville takes a lesson from Sacha Baron Cohen.  Still filled with hilarious stunts and pranks of the Jackass franchise, the story thread throughout the movie made for an engaging film.

500 Days of Summer - This fun little film shows the quirkiness and lovability of Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  Somehow, I think America would really love to see this couple together.

Fantastic Mr. Fox - Starring an amazing voice cast, this charming tale focuses on a colony of forest animals who must defend themselves from crotchety old farmers.  Wes Anderson brilliantly creates an extraordinary world with stop-motion animation.  Also, this is going to be the first animated film to join the Criterion Collection next year.  So if you really want to know "What does the Fox say," just ask George Clooney.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

2013: A Year in Review - Part 2

This is just a continuation from the last post:

Evil dead - So this was a viewing of the remake, not the Raimi version.  Although I found it to be more disturbing, I prefer the original.  However, it wasn't terrible.  Plus, I had some fun tormenting Angie as she sat in the theatre beating and cursing me out throughout the entire film...

Pain and Gain -  Mark Wahlberg and The Rock play as stupid meatheads.  Although there's no Michael Bay explosions, the story is enticing and you can't believe the situations that ensue... However, maybe you can believe it just because it takes place in Miami.  

The Great Gatsby - The visuals and music of this film made me appreciate the novel we had to read back in high school. The sequences I enjoyed the most were Gatsby's crazy parties.  They have the same flash and glamour of those "Bacardi" commercials.

Romeo and Juliet - Since I enjoyed Gatsby in theatres, I thought to revisit another English Class standard by Baz Luhrmann.  The visuals and acting were good (it's fun to see Claire in something other than Homeland), but I still had a hard time interpreting Shakespeare... I know, not very scholarly of me.

Star Trek Into Darkness - Overall, this was a cool re-envision of The Wrath of Khan.  However, when J.J. Abrams takes over Star Wars, I hope he eases up with the lens flares and shaky cam.

Man on Wire -  I decided to watch this documentary after seeing Nik Wallenda cross the Grand Canyon.  Featuring Philippe Petit, we discover he's a daredevil who's a little more mischievous than Wallenda.  Not only does this film beautiful display Petit's walk across the Twin Towers, but suspensefully describes the secret preparations he had to perform beforehand.

Meet the Woodmans - Following a family of artists ranging from photography to pottery, this documentary shows how some art is decades ahead of its time.

World War Z - Usually a zombie flick takes place under tight quarters with a small group of characters.  This story takes a different approach by traveling with Brad Pitt across the world to find the cause behind the "Zombie Disease."

Oz: The Great and Powerful - I enjoyed James Franco and the various actresses playing the witches.  However, this film would have been so much better if Sam Raimi stuck with practical effects rather than the cheap-looking green screen.

Cosmopolis - Cronenberg has always been a master of body horror.  The thought of just watching Robert Pattinson ride around in a fancy limousine seems like a boring plot.  But as he meets intriguing characters and escapes a violent "revolution" in the background, Cronenberg has proven he can derive psychological terror as well.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013: A Year in Review - Part 1

On my Ipad, I have a running list of every movie I watch.  My intention is to write a nice review for each movie, but then life gets in the way...  However, I feel hindered to write anything significant because I have such an enormous back list to cover.  I even feel guilty to watch any more films since I'm afraid my list will get longer.  So to fulfill my obligatory task of providing thoughts on the films I've watched throughout the year, I'm going to give a sentence or two of all the films I've yet to write about:

Life of pi - This is a beautiful film that deserved all the Oscars it earned.  The interactions with the Tiger and other animals are so believable, that I prefer this CGI to Avatar's.

Compliance - Fact is stranger than fiction.  This film was so disturbing that I had a horrible time falling asleep that night.  Just look up the Bullitt County McDonald's case...

The Hunted - In the last year, I've become a huge fan of William Friedkin.  This isn't his best film, but it's fun to watch Tommy Lee Jones fight Benicio Del Toro with knives.

Warrior - In no way, shape, or form do I consider myself a sports guy.  However, I find many sports films to be pretty entertaining.  I enjoyed this one even more because it involved MMA fighters.  Plus, you can see from this film why Tom Hardy's physique made him a good choice for Bane.

Cabin in the Woods - This is a horror nerd's dream.  I particularly enjoyed the cells of monsters making homage to all the scary flicks I love.  Oh, and there is a mermaid.

Dredd - Basically this movie is a remake of The Raid... however it's better just because it stars Judge Dredd (yeah, I like comic books).  Also, he doesn't take the mask off.

The Town - Ben Affleck has proven himself to be a great actor and director.  It's a little more serious than Point Break, but it's an awesome heist movie taking place in B-Town.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail - So many people are shocked when they find out I've only recently watched this film for the first time.  It's a fun movie, but I'd prefer watching another Terry Gilliam film such as Time Bandits.

Duck soup - The Marx Brothers are definitely fun and entertaining.  It's somewhat of a social commentary on dictatorships, but I laugh out loud at the high jinks of the mirror image scene.

Iron Man 3 - I didn't very much care for Iron Man 2, but Shane Black's film was definitely a step up.  The use of The Mandarin was realistic for our world and I enjoyed the "buddy cop" relationship between Tony Stark and Jim Rhodes.

Be sure to check back soon, as I'm sure there will be at least three more segments of my year in review.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top Five Countdown - Most Anticipated Movies of December 2013

This year wasn't too bad for film, but 2013 is definitely ending with a bang!  Usually I wouldn't have the time to immerse myself in tons of new films, but luckily the Christmas season gives me two weeks off to spend at the multiplex.  However, if I'm only limited to see 5 films before New Years, these are going to be the lucky flicks to get my money:

5.  Anchorman 2 - The marketing campaign for this movie has been amazing.  Plus, we all know Will Ferrell is going to bring the funniest movie this year.  Besides Brick's green pants in front of the weather map, I can't wait for another epic News Team Battle Royale...

4.  American Hustle - Once again, we get to see Christian Bale transform his body from the Dark Knight into a sleazy, fat, and balding conman.  With semblance to GoodFellas, this 1970's set piece looks like a crime film right up my alley.  Featuring beautiful women (Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawerence), an intense plot line, and an amazing soundtrack, I believe David O. Russell is going to have another hit (even though I still haven't seen Silver Linings Playbook).

3.  Saving Mr. Banks - With the influence of Angie, I've been revisiting the magical world of Disney by rewatching many of the animated classics of my childhood.  Even though I'm not as familiar with Mary Poppins, I'm excited to see the history behind this ground breaking film.  As I'm delighted to see Tom Hanks playing Walt Disney, I'm even more excited to have at least one feel-good-movie during the holidays.

2.  Inside Llewyn Davis - Folk Music usually isn't a topic to keep my interest.  However, if it comes from the minds of the Coen Brothers, it's going to be a good film.  Bound to have some dark comedic elements, I'm excited to see where this movie goes.

1.  The Wolf of Wallstreet - I know for a fact this is going to be my favorite movie this year.  With Kanye West's Black Skinhead playing in the background, the first trailer is a mesmerizing stream of conscience: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Scorsese Monologue, New York City, Stacks of Cash, Fast Cars, Sex, Drugs, Booze, FBI Agents, Yachts, Pool Parties, Laundering Money, Marching Bands, Swinging Baseball Bats, Guns, Brawling, Monkeys, Swallowing Goldfish, and Flying Midgets.  After I unwrap some presents underneath the tree and eat some honey baked ham, I'm definitely seeing this movie Christmas Day!

So I do expect to see The Wolf of Wallstreet 5 times while it's in theatres.  However, I plan to fit some other honorable mentions including The Hobbit, 47 Ronin, Out of the Furnace, 12 Years a Slave, and The Secret Life of Mitty.  Keeping all of these movies in mind, stay tuned as I plan to give a listing of my favorite movies of the year.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Here Come the Mummies!

Playing at the Plaza Live (October 11th), Angie and I experienced one of the weirdest yet most entertaining bands we've ever seen.  Inserting innuendo-filled lyrics into funk, rock, and Latin music, Here Come the Mummies are one of the most talented bands to ever play.

Like their name suggests, all of the members dress like Boris Karloff.  And even though they're considered the living dead, they have some powerful music chops.  Their sound was rich and powerful and mesmerized the audience with their jazzy instruments including the saxophone, trumpet, keyboard, guitar, and drums.

Not only was the music awesome, but the presentation itself was fantastic.  To enter the stage, they marched through the audience as a drum corps.  After they got into position and started playing their set, they were dancing and acting as a perfect unit.

To add to their antics, the band was visited by guests typical of a campy horror film - A Circus Ringleader and a Gorilla!

I had an awesome time and it was a perfect show for the Halloween season.  Many thanks to my favorite show on FM radio - The Philips Phile of Real Radio 104.1.  If it wasn't for Jim Philips' drive home music of the day, I wouldn't have experienced such a dynamic band!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween 2013

So Halloween has come and passed, but it's time to share this year's pumpkin carvings!

I decided to take my pumpkin carving skills to the next level by doing the shading technique.  Usually, I cut all the way through the pumpkin, but this time I wanted to give more depth by peeling away a layer of the skin. I have to give much thanks to http://carvingpumpkins.com/ for the tips and awesome patterns.

I decided to go the classic Halloween route by carving the Universal Monster Couple - The Bride of Frankenstein and her Groom:

Some of The Bride's definition broke off during the carving process.  However, I learned from my mistakes and I'm happy with the results of Frankenstein's Monster.

Also this year, my brother, sister, and girlfriend kept up with the movie theme by carving Freddy Krueger, Ariel (from the Little Mermaid), and Jack (from the Nightmare before Christmas).

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this year's patterns!  This is one of my favorite Halloween activities (besides watching horror movies) and I've already started planning 2014's designs.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tarantino Comics - Issue 30

I'm very excited to share this latest issue Tarantino Comics!  Even though it has some bloody violence, it's the most hilarious cover to date.  So without further adieu, I present Tarantino Comics #30 drawn by Craig Cermak at C2E2 2012.

Inspired from Pulp Fiction, Craig drew one of the  most shocking scenes from the film.  As the hitmen drive away from their latest hit, you're utterly surprised when Vincent shoots Marvin in the face!  Tarantino puts us into total shock, but you can't help but laugh because the trigger was pulled by accident.  Knowing Tarantino has a great sense of humor, Craig captures the trait in this image.  Craig is able to do this with Jules' expression and Vincent's terse word balloon.

As you can tell from the image, Craig has an awesome and detailed art style.  He's currently doing some work for Dynamite, so be sure to check him out.  You can also find him at http://craigcermak.tumblr.com/

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Scream Factory - My Criterion for Horror Films

Now that we're in the month of October, that means we've reached my favorite time of year for movies!  Sadly, I don't think there's many horror flicks playing at the theater except for Insidious 2 from September.  Luckily, a lot of television networks, like AMC, are doing their scary movie marathons.

However, if you're looking for some things to watch from the Home Video market, Scream Factory is the movie label to follow this Halloween (and honestly, all year long).  Releasing cult favorites from the 1980's, each film is beautifully transferred to blu-ray.  For instance, never would I think Halloween III as a horror masterpiece.  But with a beautiful anamorphic transfer and bonus features telling stories behind the scenes, Scream Factory is truly doing a service for horror fans.

Jam packed with special features, most releases include:
  • Exclusive Interviews with the Cast and Crew
  • New commentaries from the creators
  • Horror’s Hallowed Grounds - Awesome documentaries re-visiting the actual on-scene locations in present day.
Another thing Scream Factory does with many of their releases is provide original cover art.  Similar to how Mondo visualizes classic movie posters, Scream Factory is getting some extremely talented artists to produce some beautiful (yet terrifying) images.

Although I always prefer the original artwork, Scream Factory provides the original poster art on the backside of the blu-ray cover.  This allows the consumer to reverse the slip and pick the image of their choice.  This is a company that really cares about their fans and customers.

If you're still not sold on Scream Factory, now is the time to check them out.  They are currently doing "The Year of Fear Contest."  By simply giving your name and email address, you can win a year's worth of their products (you're lucky I'm sharing because I really want to win).  Also throughout the month, they're doing 24 hour sales called "The Price is Fright."  With free shipping and awesome discounts, this is not a sale to miss. 

So be sure to check out Scream Factory at their website.  Also, if you want to hear a little more about their company, check their latest interview on the Killer POV podcast

Besides my Criterion Collection, I actually separate my Scream Factory releases from the rest of my video collection.  I've been very impressed by Scream Factory's product and can't wait for their future releases!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Farewell to the Greatest TV Show - Breaking Bad

Hands down, Breaking Bad is my favorite TV show.  Tonight is the series finale... and I'm not sure if I'll be able to contain my emotions after it's over.

If you look at my taste in TV shows (The Sopranos, Sons of Anarchy, Dexter), I'm a huge sucker for Crime Dramas.  But if you really dig deep into the inner workings of Breaking Bad, it does things to set it apart from other shows.  For one thing, the cast is superb (Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, and Aaron Paul to name a few).  Second, it mixes real science with its plot (feeding my Engineering mind).  And finally, although I'm sure I could list many more reasons, Breaking Bad makes "cinematic homages" to some of my favorite movies.  As I've mentioned in the past (See Here), Breaking Bad is like a Tarantino screenplay mixed with the quirkiness of a Coen Brothers' film.  If it were up to me, Breaking Bad would be a part of Tarantino Comics - and I'm certain creator Vince Gilligan would agree.  For instance, as seen in the penultimate episode of the series, we see Robert Forster as the "extractor."  With the charisma of Jackie Brown's Max Cherry, Breaking Bad commands performances on par with Tarantino.

Also following suit with Tarantino, Vince Gilligan obtains inspiration from Brian DePalma.  Vince compares Walter White's transformation with Scarface.  Giving honor to the correlation, Scarface actors Mark Margolis and Steven Bauer are featured as Cartel members loathed by Gus Fring.  Even if these actors were merely used to make great homage to Hollywood history, their performances were spot on.  Not only will I miss how these little morsels enhance the plot of Breaking Bad, but the characterizations and star power this show lured was fantastic.

Since we're talking about Tarantino, we might as well fit in a comic book connection.  The creators of Breaking Bad wanted to make Walt comparable with Ozymandias.  Ozymandias is the subject of a poem in which a great ruler whose entire empire later fell into forgotten rubble and ruins.  The final season actually has a promo of Walt reading this sonnet.  In a very similar manner, Alan Moore's Watchmen has a character of the same name who pulled all the strings throughout the series.  Although Ozymandias had a façade of philanthropy and goodness, he was the evil mastermind who planned on restarting the world by destroying it first.

Besides all the connections to pop culture, Breaking Bad created a protagonist I truly love.  If you watch the earlier seasons, Bryan Cranston plays a brilliant and likable character.  But because of his pride, Walt eventually "breaks bad" and becomes a pure criminal relying on impulse rather than scientific method.  Like another AMC character (Don Draper of Mad Men), Walt eventually hits rock bottom. Although he cannot right all his wrongs, I hope he builds himself up for one more justifiable action in the series finale.  I know Walt lost his family, but I hope he can redeem himself by saving Jessie even if it means his own demise.  Regardless, I'm rooting for Team Walt!

Over the last two years, I'm glad Breaking Bad has gained a huge cult following.  However, I get to brag since I'm one of the lucky ones who enjoyed the show from the very beginning.  I hear of all these people watching multiple seasons in 1 or 2 sittings...  And I don't blame them, I totally understand why!  However, I loyally sat down in front of my TV and watched Breaking Bad in real time for the last 61 Sundays it has aired.  I experienced the pain of weekly cliffhangers, not 1 minute bathroom breaks.  However, I will never forget the sadness and yearning I felt after Jessie pulled the trigger on Gale at the end of Season 3 - I had to wait months to see the outcome.

So those of us who gave silly "Hal from Malcolm in the Middle"a chance from the very beginning, tonight's finale is for us.  Although "All Bad Things Must Come to an End," Sunday night will be a night to remember.  And most of all, thank you to the cast and crew for making a sensation that has entertained us for the last few years!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Criterion Collection - July 2013 Barnes and Noble Sale Part 4

Here's the last batch of Criterion Collection films I picked up at the Barnes and Noble in Winter Garden (I know, I've waited so long to write that it's going to be the November sale before we know it):
  • The Seventh Seal - I know very little of Ingmar Bergman, however the premise seems very enticing (a knight playing a fateful game of Chess against Death).  Plus, Monty Python mockingly mentions it in their trailer for the Holy Grail.
  • The Battle of Algiers - Filmed in a documentary style, this jammed packed edition tells a story about one of the most bloodiest revolutions in modern history.
  • Purple Noon - Also known as the original "Talented Mr. Ripley," this movie is filled with nail-biting suspense... 
  • The Last Days of Disco - I love when Criterion throws in "modern" films to their collection.  Featuring an awesome soundtrack and a young Kate Beckinsale, I'm excited to sit back and enjoy this movie.
  • Charade - A suspenseful mystery starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, this romantic thriller was not filmed by Hitchcock, but the great Stanley Donen
  • The Devil's Backbone - Part of Guillermo del Toro's Apocalyptic Vampire Trilogy, this eerie movie takes place during the Spanish Civil war.  With some light-hearted child moments sprinkled throughout this film, this movie is truly powerful, yet terrifying.
I love Criterion, but I'm ready to talk about some new things.  Stay tuned as I'm excited to share my new love for Disney Blu-rays and Shout Factory releases!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Criterion Collection - July 2013 Barnes and Noble Sale Part 3

The film section of the Colonial Drive Barnes and Noble (by Orlando's Fashion Square Mall) is pretty awesome.  They have the largest selection of Criterion DVD's I've seen so far.  Although I was impressed by their inventory, I didn't pick up as much because I was saving my funds for the final weekend of the Criterion Sale.  However, my purchases were particularly inspired by the CriterionCast ( http://criterioncast.com/ - If you never listened to their podcast, you should definitely check them out):

  • Pierre Etaix:  I don't know anything of this film artist, but due to my recent love for Charlie Chaplin's work, I decided to give this French comedian a try.  Plus, this beautiful collection is jam packed with multiple films, shorts, and special features.  I can't wait to pop these discs into my blu-ray player and see what comedy ensues.
  • The Gold Rush:  Speaking of Chaplin, why not pick up another seminal classic featuring "The Tramp."  It's not the latest Chaplin release from Criterion, but I had to pick it up.
  •  Lord of the Flies:  If you watch Criterion's 3 Reasons video, I never realized how dark of a film this is - Young boys stranded on an island with no sense of stable order can be truly terrifying.  I once attempted to read this book after reading Catcher in Rye (for a brief period, I was attempting to read the classics), but I could barely get through the first few pages... because I didn't know the definition of a "conch."  I guess I should of picked up a dictionary, but I imagine I'll enjoy Golding's tale much more through this experience instead.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Criterion Collection - July 2013 Barnes and Noble Sale Part 2

As usual, I'm a little late on posting (especially since tomorrow is the last day of the Criterion Sale).  This next grouping of movies is my latest purchase from the Waterford Lakes Store.  Since this store is closest to UCF and surrounded by a large population of poor college students, I was hoping to find some Out of Print Editions (i.e. Playtime and Last Year at Marienbad).  Unfortunately, I didn't find any, however I did come out with a pretty awesome stash:
  • Things to Come:  I don't know anything about this film other than it's based on a story by H.G. Wells.  Since this black and white film is similar in tone to A Brave New World, I'm pretty excited to watch this Sci-Fi affair.
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much:  There's not much to say other than "Hitchcock."  Featuring Peter Lorre, Hitchcock later remade this suspenseful mystery with Jimmy Stewart.  Since I'm determined to see every Hitchcock film, I'm glad Criterion is "blugrading" these classic tales so I can enjoy their beautiful transfers and awesome supplements. 
  • Insignificance:  Imagine these four timeless celebrities congregating in the same hotel room:  Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, and Joseph McCarthy.  Having never heard of this film, I picked it up merely due to its cover and premise.  Starring Hollywood greats like Tony Curtis and Gary Busey, I'm sure this will be a fantastic watch.
  • On the Waterfront:  Other than Repo Man, On the Waterfront has the most beautiful packaging this year.  With illustrations by Sean Phillips, the blue exterior really makes the red interior pop.  Besides being a Hollywood classic starring one of the most quintessential actors (Marlon Brando), I'm glad Criterion added this Film Noir to their collection.  Since this movie can be watched in three different aspect ratios (1.66:1, 1.85:1 (widescreen) and 1.33:1 (full-screen)), I hope to educate myself more on this cinematic subject regardless of the film.
  • Safety Last:  Criterion has made me fall in love with Chaplin.  Since I trust their judgement, I can't wait to watch what comedy ensues from one of the other "silent heroes," Harold Lloyd.
  • Eclipse Series 37:  When Horror Came to Shockiku:  As a supplement line to the Criterion Collection, the Eclipse Series groups 4-6 films of a common theme in one package.  Although they're all in standard definition and include no supplements, this is a great way to watch multiple films and get the bang for your buck (especially during a Criterion Sale).  This time, I purchased a set of 1960's Japanese horror films.  I'm sure they're influenced by the cheesy American B-movies, but I'm intrigued how they may have established the roots of the terrifying Japanese  horror films of the 1990's (such as The Ring).

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Criterion Collection - July 2013 Barnes and Noble Sale Part 1

I've made some mention before, but I'm a huge fan of the Criterion Collection.  Particularly the genre film releases are my favorite (such as Repoman and Godzilla), but I can find something to appreciate in all of their editions.  I'd love to get a copy of every spine number (because of my collector mentality), however my wallet can't afford it.  However, whenever I see a 50% off sale, I'm sure to take advantage of it whether its on the Criterion Website or Amazon.com .

For both comic books and movies, I enjoy the hunt of physically adding things to my collection.  Luckily, Barnes and Noble holds a 50% off sale twice a year (July and November).  Since I consider it Christmas in July, I've already taken advantage of the sale and picked up a couple of things at the Dr. Philips store in Orlando:
  • High and Low:  Directed by Japanese legend Akira Kurosawa, this 1963 thriller is about a rich industrialist and the tension involving the ransom of his kidnapped family.
  • Eating Raoul:  This 1980's dark comedy is the genre selection of my most recent buy.  I haven't spoiled myself of the twist yet, but I'm pretty sure it has a relation to Sweeney Todd.
  • Breathless:  Directed by Jean-Luc Godard, this film  pretty much helped jump start the French New Wave.   I haven't seen much from this era of film, but from what I've seen, I've enjoyed.
  • Band of Outsiders:  Also known as Bande à part, this is Tarantino's favorite Godard film.  Inspiring the name of Tarantino's production company (and publisher of Tarantino Comics), I'm excited to see this film inspired from the early American Gangster Movies. 
  • Zazie dans le métro:  I don't know much about this film other than it contains fantastical and cartoonish comedy elements brought together by French director Louis Malle.

Although these are all things I've yet to see, I'm pretty excited to watch them.  Be sure to check back as I'm sure I'll be taking advantage of this sale each week.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Bullet Points: Documentary Obsession

If it wasn't for the perplexing trailer of Catfish, I would have never been compelled to seek out documentaries (although I'd eventually be influenced by the Film Junk Podcast).  Whether it comes from the subject of the film or the documentarian themselves, it is their Obsession that makes me enjoy these movies the most.  Documentaries are living proof that anyone can create something if they have the passion (hence one day I want to make a printed book of Tarantino Comics).  Anyways, here are some documentaries I've recently watched, all in which you can see on Netflix:
  • Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (Director Jon Foy):    Besides Catfish, this movie really got me into documentaries.  It's about these tiles inscribed with the "Toynbee Idea in Movie 2001 Resurrect Dead on Planet Jupiter" somehow mysteriously get embedded into the asphalt of busy roadways of Philadelphia (although they have appeared in many other areas including South America).  Displaying pure obsession, this documentary explores why and how these tiles magically appear.  Mix in some conspiracy theory, this is a gripping movie to watch.
  • Indie Game The Movie (Directors Lisanne Pajot & James Swirsky):  I dabble with video games here and there, but in no way do I consider myself a gamer.  However, this documentary makes me really appreciate those simple games I used to play in the computer lab before going to class.  This movie takes you on a journey of how the creators of three Indie Games (Super Meat Boy, FEZ, and Braid) put all their emotions and livelihood into their game's development and hopeful success.
  • Cropsey (Directors Barbara Brancaccio & Joshua Zeman):  In Staten Island, the boogieman named Cropsey has been blamed for the disappearance of young children.  However, can this urban legend be linked back to the convicted child killer named Andre Rand?  Starting with stories of childhood fears to Geraldo Rivera's claim to fame (with the Willowbrook State School), this documentary does a good job exploring Andre Rand as the possible monster named Cropsey.
  • The Thin Blue Line (Director Errol Morris):  Not the best documentary I've ever seen, but it's probably the most influential.  Acclaimed documentarian Errol Morris presents the murder case of Dallas Police Officer Robert Wood after he was shot and killed while pulling a stolen car over.  Morris claims Randall Adams was wrongly accused of the murder while scrutinizing the corruption that exists in the justice system.  By providing reenactments based on the narrations of interviewees, Morris paved the way for the modern "A&E" documentary.
  • Into the Abyss (Director Werner Herzog):  This triple homicide case in Conroe, Texas is told by another Documentarian Legend - Werner Herzog.  Herzog doesn't defend the convicts.  However, he analyzes what possessed them to kill and if it's right for society to condemn them to death.  Making strong points on both ends of the spectrum, this story is heavy, but good.
  • Vigilante Vigilante: The Battle for Expression (Director Max Good):  When I first saw this title on Netflix, I thought it was going to be about men dressed up like Batman beating up thieves, murderers, and rapists.  However, the term Vigilante in the film's title can be replaced by the word "Buffer" - Meaning those who rid the street of graffiti.  Surprisingly, I really enjoyed this film because you meet these crazy characters who are obsessed with cleaning up their streets.  Nevertheless, an argument exists:  If these unsanctioned Buffers paint over street art with grey paint, aren't they just as guilty of committing graffiti?
  • The Imposter (Director Bart Layton):  This may be my favorite documentary I've seen thus so far.  In 1997, Frederic Bourdin impersonated Nicholas Barclay, a young Texan boy who disappeared at the age of 13 in 1994.  Although Bourdin has no resemblance to Barclay (different colored eyes and hair), he somehow convinces the family and town that he's the long lost Nicholas.  With involvement of the FBI and a possible eerie twist, this is truly a story stranger than fiction.
  • Shut Up Little Man! (Director Matthew Bate):  Before there was YouTube, Peter J. Haskett and Raymond Huffman may be the first personalities to go viral.  Back in San Francisco in the late 1980's, two tenants of an apartment recorded crazy arguments and conversations of their alcoholic neighbors through a microphone hanging out their window.  These recordings were eventually spread across the United States through underground audio cassette tape circuits.  Haskett and Huffman gained a cult-like status through comic strips and comedic plays.  I really can understand this obsession as I used to collect and record prank calls of my favorite shock jock while I was growing up.  This is definitely a recommended watch.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Tarantino Comics - Issue 29

Continuing the awesome Pulp Fiction arc from C2E2 2012, Gavin Smith really upped the ante with Tarantino Comics #29:

I've previously met Gavin at an earlier CGS Supershow.  Besides having a very loose and indirect connection with him (he lived in Peru, Indiana, a city not far from where my dad was born in), Gavin drew me an awesome Batman & Daredevil piece.  Since he had a very pulpy art style, I had to get him to draw something for Tarantino Comics.

As expected, Gavin captured the essence of an EC comic.  He designed a beautiful title banner and an iconic cover image.  Gavin shows his knowledge of Tarantino by showing the band-aid on the back of Marsellus' neck while he's giving the ultimatum to Butch.  To add to the Film Noir vibe, the comic's title ("The Dive") is fitting of those stories involving crime and boxing.

Gavin was the first to introduce the idea of a back-up feature to Tarantino Comics"A Night With Vincent Vega" featuring Mia Wallace.  I really love this comic book convention (meaning a practice established by usage, not a geekfest) because some of the greatest superheroes were established from back-up features including Green Arrow, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter.

If you want to see more of Gavin's awesome artwork, checkout his blog at http://gavinpatricksmith.blogspot.com/ .  If you see him at a comic book convention, be sure to stop by because he's an extremely talented artist (graduated from the Kubert School) and a cool guy.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Bullet Points - The Calm before the Storm

As usual, the summer is the season of high budget action flicks.  Star Trek was exhilarating, I'm excited to watch The Man of Steel, and I can't wait for Pacific Rim.  However, before we discuss the annual Blockbusters, I have to share the films I saw in theater earlier this year:
  • Identity Thief:  Of this group of movies, Identity Thief was my least favorite... Both Jason Bateman and  Melissa McCarthy are funny people, but the story was kind of weak.  Basically McCarthy stole Bateman's identity, spends his money, the police don't do anything.  In order to stop this debacle, Bateman has to physically lure and capture McCarthy himself.  There's a few laugh-out-loud  gags (especially punches to the throat), but I wouldn't consider this a blu-ray buy.
  • Mama:  As I somewhat alluded to earlier, I love the mind of Guillermo Del Toro.  Even  though he didn't direct this film, there is some fantastic imagery.  For example, the imagined animalistic  movement of two girls  raised in isolation by a ghost during the early years of their development truly sent shivers up my spine.  Other than the visuals, this movie didn't have the best story in the world.  However,  it was a fun little horror flick that I got to enjoy and watch with my sisters.  Besides, it's kinda cool to see Jessica Chastain as a punk rocker...
  • Side Effects:  I know we're all curious how long Steven Soderbergh will stay away from film... But before he "retired," he made this interesting drama starring Jude Law, Rooney Mara, and Channing Tatum.  It opens as an intriguing  psychological thriller, however loses momentum when it makes a political statement about the use and advertisement of pharmaceutical drugs. Although this movie will never land a spot in my Top Twenty, it's definitely a solid movie you could watch and enjoy.  Other than that, there's not much else I can share without spoiling the story.  I guess I could describe it as a mix between Requiem for a Dream (I promise not near as depressing) and Primal Fear.
  • Warm Bodies:  It seems everybody loves zombies... and I can't disagree.  Although I prefer the Romero approach, Warm Bodies put a fun spin to the genre.  Rather than viewing the apocalypse from the point of view of a human survivor, we get the story from the perspective of a zombie.  With an awesome soundtrack and comedic overtones, this was a fun horror flick.
  • Mud:  Prior to last year, if you mentioned Matthew McConaughey, I'd probably avoid the film.  But lately, rather than starring as the leading role of a Rom Com, he's really showing off his acting chops through some very intriguing characterizations.  Mud (played by McConaughey) is a fugitive of both gangsters and the law who makes sanctuary on a small island off the Mississippi River.  Waiting to meet up with the love of his life (played by Reese Witherspoon), he is discovered by two boys who were exploring the island.  Although Mud's a suspected criminal, the boys develop a friendly and caring relationship with him.  For a slice of life tale, I really enjoyed this film and wouldn't be embarrassed to watch this with the entire family (as opposed to Killer Joe and The Paperboy; gripping films I plan to talk about in the near future).  From the mind of Jeff Nichols, I really want to see how he directs Michael Shannon in Take Shelter.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Killing - This Time... No Twin Peaks Comparison

I pretty much love every original show that comes from AMC (however, I'm not a fan of their reality shows).  Although this season of Mad Men has been intense, I've been needing a little more "crime" in my TV viewing.  Luckily the return of The Killing has satisfied my hunger...

I truly enjoyed the first two seasons of this detective drama.  However, I agree with the masses and thought the story was too drawn out.  Believe me - I loved Twin Peaks.  But just as Laura Palmer's murder overstayed its welcome, Rosie Larsen's death lasted a season too long.

Luckily, AMC developed some really cool characters:  Detectives Linden and Holder (played by Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman).  Unlike TNT's "last-named-shows" (i.e. Rizzoli & Isles, King & Maxwell, Franklin & Bash), The Killing is a title with true character development happening in a single overarching case.  Despite complaints from critics, AMC had the guts to throw their awesome duo into a different situation rather than just canning the show.

So with a light drizzle outside and a Cup of Joe in my hands, I thoroughly enjoyed the Season 3 premiere.  From what I've seen so far, here's a couple of reasons why I think this season will be successful:
  • Linden's obsession:  Like many detective characters, obsession can be their downfall.  This season presented how Linden is building herself back up to a "normal" life.  But as we've learned in seasons past, Linden is obsessed with justifying the victim.    With a series of murders paired with a M.O. familiar to her back story, this provides the perfect setup of getting Linden back into the game (or quite possibly her demise).
  • No son:  I liked the "little man," but it helps having him live in Chicago with his father.  This way Linden doesn't have to worry about her son and can focus on the case at hand in Seattle.
  • A Serial Killer Story:  This story is dark (including the imagery).  Previous seasons lingered on conspiracies involving the Rosie Larsen case.  This time, it involves a series of murders involving child prostitutes.  Yes, this is pretty dark subject matter, but it's intriguing and even has a Seven vibe. 

So there you have it - I can't wait to see how the rest of the season plays out!  I have very few doubts, so hopefully it does well.. so we can have another "killing" season.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bullet Points - Adrenaline Rush

I feel like I say this every six months, but I haven't been able to write lately because of school.  There's these things called lab reports that take priority over comic books and movies.  Luckily, I've managed to keep a running list of things I've been watching (and don't worry, I still made it to some comic cons to get Tarantino art).  So to get my writing juices flowing, I decided to start things off with a bang - literally.  Here's some films and shows that are filled with flying bullets and big explosions:

  • Savages - Although Oliver Stone strayed from Tarantino's Natural Born Killers script to express his own opinionated beliefs, he usually makes pretty entertaining films.  Savages was a film I really wanted to see at the movie theater, but didn't get a chance to.  Luckily it came to video quickly and it was everything I expected:  A pure adrenaline rush filled with violence and sex.    With fast edits similar to the late Tony Scott, it's a story of two drug dealers who must save their girl from the Cartel after refusing to join them in a business venture.  Although older, Salma Hayek is vicious yet beautiful Mexican drug lord. Keeping Blake Lively as a negotiating piece, Salma commands the situation knowing both protagonists are in love with Blake, exploiting the fact "there's something wrong with their love story."  As usual with his typical roles, Benicio del Toro is terrifying and disturbing as the muscle and watchdog.   Even though violence dominates the story, it doesn't have the charm or wit like Pulp Fiction (even though it has John Travolta as a corrupt federal agent).  However, don't let this keep you away as it still has thrilling action that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
    • Skyfall - I've heard people compare Skyfall with movies ranging from The Dark Knight to Home Alone (yes, there are booby traps, but no paint cans to knock Marv and Harry down).  I'm currently on a journey through Bond's filmography, but I believe Daniel Craig is my favorite 007.  However, Skyfall has been my least favorite film from his run.  It's a back to the basics story, but it doesn't contain the same grittiness as Casino Royale.  Not to say I didn't enjoy this movie, but it just doesn't carry the same intensity.  Javier Bardem as the bad guy was fun - his character was similar to his previous role from No Country for Old Men spiked with the intellectual charisma of Dr. Hannibal LectorSkyfall is definitely a pretty and mesmerizing film, featuring beautiful landscapes filled with ultra vibrant colors.  Even though this flick didn't meet my expectations, it laid down the foundation for another sequel, re-introducing characters such as M, Q, and Moneypenny.
    • Looper - Who doesn't love Joseph Gordon Levitt?  Put him in a sci-fi thriller with a unique story, what isn't to desire?  Looper has its action moments, but it's definitely a thinking movie.  Having dabbled in computer programming, I really enjoyed the analogies linking the present and future.  Also, when JGL was supposed to close the loop, Bruce Willis was a good choice for his future self.  With a quiet and solemn demeanor, Bruce proved to be resourceful and outsmart "himself." Although the film style isn't as dirty as Blade Runner, Looper definitely has a similar feel of contemporary landscapes re-imagined with a future twist.  For instance, the small farm where the beautiful Emily Blunt lives has a classic country vibe, but the household items are futuristic and truly imaginative because they may never come to existence.  One final note, I believe director Rian Johnson is a filmmaker to keep an eye out for.  If you're not familiar with his work, see his neo-noir film Brick.  However, to really show off his creativity, Johnson provided a downloadable commentary that could be listened to on your iPod while watching Looper in the movie theater... that's what I call genius!

    • Justified - Justified sets itself apart from other crime shows because it doesn't focus on the flashy Italian mobster life.  Instead, it dives into the trashy and poverty stricken territory of Harlan County, Kentucky.  Season 4 differs from seasons past by not focusing on the Dixie Mafia, but on the Detroit Mafia who is invading the Southern territory to settle some personal vendettas.  The one thing I've noticed about this show is that it tends to start off slow each season.  However, as the episodes progress, the story builds momentum and you can't stop watching as you eagerly await for next week's episode to premiere.  Timothy Olyphant as Raylen Givens is a perfect match for the show.  As the US Marshall we love to root for, his quick wit is appealing even though he sometimes walks the line.  To compliment the hero, Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder is the perfect Foil because of his sly motives shielded by his exterior Southern Charm (you'll also love his lackey role in Django).  If for some reason you avoided Justified, I recommend getting caught up on Hulu before it starts again next year!

    Sunday, February 3, 2013

    Tarantino Comics - Issue 28

    All the covers from Tarantino Comics have been awesome thus far, but Chicago really inspired some fantastic images, particularly from Pulp Fiction.  Starting with last issue's comedic depiction of Captain Koons (anyone else spot the connection in Django?), Tarantino Comics #28 ups the ante with one of the most horrifying scenes from a Tarantino flick"Bring out the Gimp!"

    Illustrated by Brent Schoonover at C2E2 2012, the likenesses of Butch and Marcellus are spot on.  Having seen Brent's talent on other pieces of art before, I knew I had to get him in this sketchbook.  Brent has a true talent of creating pulpy characters.  Ranging from the noirish Dick Tracy to the Silver Age of Marvel, his work really carries a classic comic book sensibility.  As perfectly shown in this cover art, Brent replicated the true essence of an EC Comic.  With overtones of a Val Lewton film, only the shadowy outline of the Gimp is ever shown to the audience.  The expressions on the characters faces display true terror (as also seen in the Title Bar), an emotion purely captured in comic book fashion.  Also of note, The Band Apart Logo is more like the classic DC Logo rather the typical boxy emblem pictured from previous issues.

    I highly recommend checking out Mr. Schoonover's artwork.  As I said before, he really captures the nostalgia of classic comic book characters.  He recently had a unique mix and match between modern funny books with pulpy comic strips in Mr. Murder is Dead published by Archaia Entertainment.  You can also check for Brent's latest work and blog posts at:  http://brentschoonover.com/

    Sunday, January 20, 2013

    Bullet Points - Investigation of the Unknown

    Why do we enjoy shows like Law & Order and CSI?  While I'll agree that Mariska Hargitay may be the reason, it's the process of the investigation that keeps us coming back for more.  So here's a few things I've watched recently that makes us pull out our magnifying glass and search for clues:

    Homeland:  I have a friend who is in love with Claire Danes.  Although I agree she's extremely pretty, she ranks no where near my Top Ten Most Beautiful Woman List.  However, the one thing I can't deny, she's a fantastic actress.  Playing an overly obsessive CIA agent with a bipolar disorder, Carrie (played by Claire) honestly makes me hurt inside when I see her cry.  Although I started Homeland late in the game, I effortlessly finished the entire first season in less than a week.  For those who don't know, Homeland is about an American soldier (Brody) returning from the Middle East after being held captive for many years.  After returning home and welcomed as an All-American hero, Carrie is convinced he's a terrorist sleeper cell.  With Season 1 almost ending with Brody blowing up the Vice President, Carrie manages to stop him even though she compromises her job, reputation, and sanity.  Season 2 starts months later where Brody becomes an elected Congressman.  What I truly love about this show is that the writers don't milk a story for an entire season.  Rather than making the CIA capture Brody the season finale, they merely use this as a spring board at the season's halfway mark to make an even more intriguing story.  This allowed for an even stronger Season 2 cliffhanger where the status quo has revered -  America now sees Brody as Enemy Number One while Carrie sees him as the All-American hero.  So as long as we still get to see Morena Baccarin (who plays Brody's wife), I'll continue watching Homeland and agree there's at least one woman who'd rank on my Top Ten list.

    His Girl Friday:  There's two reasons I watched this movie.  Reason number one is that it stars Carey Grant.  I've come to really enjoy his acting and respect his filmography.  Reason number two is that it appeared on a Tarantino favorite film list.  Although a dark story is involved (an innocent man condemned to the noose), this is a comedic movie with fast-paced and witty dialogue.  Directed by powerhouse Howard Hawks, this tale features how newspaper reporters will almost do anything to get the scoop.  It also explains why the passion of investigation can destroy a relationship.  I highly recommend this movie for anyone wanting to watch charismatic film of the Hollywood glory days.

    Rear Window:  Only one man can tell an entire story in one room and create so much suspense.  In Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, Jimmy Stewart is a photographer trapped in his apartment after breaking his leg from his latest escapade.  Bored out of his mind, Stewart watches from his window, peeping on his fellow apartment tenants.  What first seems to be harmless fun to make time pass by, this unhealthy voyeurism becomes quite serious after Stewart believes he witnessed a murder incident.  This is such a fantastic film and I can see its influence on Brian DePalma. The set is perfectly designed where the audience gets to sit with Jimmy Stewart in his wheelchair while he spies on his colorful neighbors: There's the frustrated musician, the woman trying to get a date, and even a beautiful blonde dancer with fantastic legs.  However, the real suspense is when Stewart's girlfriend, played by the beautiful Grace Kelly, sneaks into the murderer's apartment and tries to collect evidence.  If you're not on the edge of your seat as Stewart helplessly watches Grace Kelly being attacked from across the street, you must not have a heart or soul...

    Pontypool:  Growing up, I always preferred talk radio over music.  Not to say I don't love music, but I find a car ride is much quicker when there's a radio personality talking in the background (hence why I love podcasts).  Pontypool takes this idea of radio reporting and combines it with a terrifying Sci-Fi twist.  A shock jock played by Stephen McHattie receives news of a potential "zombie outbreak" in the local town of Pontypool.  Although we don't see the violence of the outside world, McHattie and his radio team are receiving real time news from callers reporting on the incident. Although it's a pretty refreshing idea to use a radio broadcast to provoke fear, the cause of the outbreak is even more extraordinary.  Instead of losing your humanity to the typical zombie bite, your brain become infected by the sound of words... one of the unique most ideas I've ever heard of.  Directed by Bruce McDonald (who previously directed a film in Tarantino's Rolling Thunder DVD line), this movie should be watched by every horror fan searching for an absolute original premise.

    Sunday, January 6, 2013

    Django Unchained #1 - An Actual Issue of Tarantino Comics!

    As kids, we eagerly stayed awake in our beds awaiting for the arrival of Good Ole' St. Nick.  However, this Christmas Eve, it wasn't Santa Claus who caused my severe case of insomnia... It was a little film called Django Unchained (and "The D is silent") !  Ever since Inglourious Basterds left the theatres, I've been waiting for Tarantino's next film to come out.  With perhaps the exception of the Dark Knight Rises (for reasons you can read here), there wasn't one film I was anticipating more. 

    Although I always enjoyed movies, it wasn't until I saw Tarantino's films that I truly started to appreciate cinema.  As I've studied and watched more film, I've come to really enjoy independent and art house films.  However, because of Tarantino's sensibilities, it's Genre Films that I need to wet my appetite:
    • Crime: Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction
    • Heist: Jackie Brown
    • Kung Fu: Kill Bill
    • Slasher:  Death Proof
    • War: Inglourious Basterds
    • Western (or should I say Southern):  Django Unchained
    Now if you look at these "Genres," this is the perfect reason why Tarantino's films can be adapted into comic books.  Back in the day, EC Comics basically labeled the Genre of their stories on the cover of the magazine.  Hence, this is how I came up with the idea of Tarantino Comics!

    Vertigo (an imprint of DC Comics) was luckily smart enough to realize this and decided to "exploit" Tarantino's latest flick and adapted Django Unchained into a comic book.  What's even better, the writer of these funny pages is Quentin Tarantino himself.  Expected to be a 5-issue miniseries, Tarantino puts a nice little Forward at the beginning of the comic.  He talks about some of his favorite comics as a kid including:  Kid Colt Outlaw, Tomahawk, The Rawhide Kid, Bat Lash, Yang, and Gunhawks

    Using Tarantino's script, artists R.M Guera and Jason Latour (who does the flashback sequences) are beautifully crafting a story that can be read and enjoyed by all.  What's great about the Django comic is they're telling the entire scripted epic including all the story pieces that were edited out due to movie time constraints.  R.M. Guera was an excellent choice for adapting this story since he has worked with Jason Aaron on Scalped.  Although I haven't read many issues, Scalped is a crime story about gangsters on an Indian Reservation that requires a gritty artistic style - a form of storytelling necessary to perfectly translate Django Unchained into comic book form.   In addition to the interior art, the first issue has a variant cover by Jim Lee, one of my all time favorite superhero artists.

    Warning - Spoiler Alert:  Issue #1 does a good job replicating the first beginning scenes of the film.  It basically covers:
    • Dr. Schultz freeing Django and the slaves from the Speck Brothers
    • Django learning about the bounty hunter business after Schultz shoots the "Sheriff Bounty" of the intolerant town
    • The duo meeting Spencer Bennett (a.k.a. Big Daddy) with a cliff-hanger of Django spotting the Brittle Brothers 
    So far in this issue, there hasn't been much deviation from the film other than an extended flashback sequence when Dr. Schultz is making a "business transaction" during the opening sequence.  These few panels basically show Broomhilda being raped by the Brittle Brothers after making love with Django.  It also shows a little panel where Schultz is playing the piano in the bar after they are awaiting the Marshall to investigate the Sheriff shooting.

    Overall, I'm very excited to see how the rest of Django Unchained the Comic Book unfolds. Due to work and school, I've been behind in my comic book reading, but this issue has really gotten me reinvigorated to reading other comics.  Be sure to check back as I plan to give an update of future issues of this Vertigo Series - As you all know, I just can't pass up the opportunity of a "Tarantino Comic!"