Scenes I Love: A Face In The Crowd


Located below is the famous Vitajex advertising montage from Elia Kazan’s 1957 film, A Face In The CrowdEverytime I see this, I wonder if maybe American audiences in the 50s were smarter than we give them credit for. 

Then again, A Face in The Crowd was a notorious financial and critical failure when it was first released.  It’s actually one of the best and most influential movies ever made.  Certainly, it’s one of the few Kazan films that still seems artistically relevent today.  It should also be noted that A Face in the Crowd features Anthony Franciosa years before his starring turn in Dario Argento’s Tenebrae, Andy Griffith playing a villain, the film debut of Lee Remick, Walter Matthau as a tv writer, and Patricia Neal having a nervous breakdown.  Supposedly, a very young Rip Torn is somewhere in this film as well but I’ve never been able to spot him.

Satoshi Kon’s Final Blog Post


The sudden passing of Satoshi Kon this past August 24, 2010 was a shock to anime and non-anime fans of his work. No better words were spoken to describe his contribution to the medium he so loved than one posted here last week.

I, myself, never realized that he was the one who had directed the very mature anime works I had seen and found to be on the level of any live-action production by such luminaries as Aronofsky, Nolan, Cronenberg and many other masters of their craft. The suddenness of his death has shocked the anime community and even almost a week since it happened his passing away and his legacy still the talk of the community.

His legacy is undisputable and will forever remind fans of anime just how much his talent will be missed. Satoshi Kon was able to leave behind one final document which has been posted in his blog posthumously by his loved ones. These last words from Satoshi Kon brings to light one man’s personal and intimate perspective on one’s mortality. It’s almost as if life was imitating art this time around. To try and describe any more of this man’s last words cannot be done as I lack the insight and grasp of the English language to give it the proper due.

Below is the link to Makiko Itoh’s site who was kind enough to translate Satoshi Kon’s final words.

SOURCE: Makiko Itoh’s Blog Satoshi Kon’s last words

6 More Exploitation Trailers: The Late Edition


Hi, Lisa Marie here.  I apologize for being a day late in continuing my series of posts devoted to some of my favorite exploitation and grindhouse film trailers.  Unfortunately, I got caught up having a fight with a troll over on my other blog and I ended up running behind.  The lesson here is that trolls are not worth the trouble.

But enough time wasted on dumbfugs and toadsuckers.  Let’s talk exploitation with six more of my favorite trailers.

1) The Candy Snatchers

Sadly, this DVD is now out-of-print and the people selling it on Amazon want you to pay something like $80.00 for it.  That’s a shame because The Candy Snatchers is, arguably, one of the greatest films ever made.  This is one of those movies that I desperately need to review but I’m still struggling to find the right words to express just how brilliant this movie is.

2) Django Kill

This trailer doesn’t really do justice to Django Kill which, quite frankly, is probably the strangest, most surreal western ever made.  Yes, this film is even stranger than El Topo.  However, I still like the pop art feel of this trailer.

3) The Raiders of Atlantis

This is one of Ruggero Deodato’s non-cannibal movies.  It’s actually surprisingly enjoyable in a very silly sort of way.

4) Burial Ground

Also known as The Nights of Terror, this is one of the more infamous examples of the Italian zombie genre.  To be honest, this is an amazingly trashy, stupid movie but once you start watching, you can not turn away.  This is another film I’ve been meaning to review for a while as I think it’s actually the most political of all the Italian zombie films.  People tend to get some caught up with the whole incest subplot that they miss the whole Marxist subtext.  And yes, the movie does include a title card that contains the word “profecy.”

5) The Teacher

I love this trailer.  It is such a relic that I almost feel like it should be put in a time capsule.  Plus, that whole “She corrupted the morals…” tag line is just so priceless.

6) Boss

When this 1975 movie was released on DVD, it was titled Boss.  Well, that’s only half of the original title.  I’ve never seen this movie (as the only westerns that interest me are Italian-made) but this trailer has always stuck with me because of the whole “Did I just hear that?” factor.  However, after I first saw this trailer, I did some research and discovered that the movie was actually written and produced by the film’s star, Fred Williamson.  So, that makes me a bit more comfortable with it.

Highschool of the Dead: Episode 8 – First Impressions


Madhouse’s anime series adaptation of the very popular manga, Highschool of the Dead (In Japan known as Gakuen Mokushiroku) is now 2/3’s into it’s first 13-episode season run. The reaction to the series has been pretty positive, but there’s definitely been some mixed to negative reactions to how the series’ animators from Madhouse has wholly embraced the ecchi nature of the manga. Some have even called it fanservice overload. I’m guessing they said the same about the manga when they first read it and thought the anime would tone things down.

My reaction to such criticism is “live with it”. There’s a reason why the manga has been so popular despite some long-delays from the manga’s writer and artist. For good or worse the manga and the series will succeed and fail because of it’s very ecchi nature. To expect the anime to actually tone down that particular aspect of the original manga source would be self-censorship and takes away half the fun of the manga. To continue complaining about the series because of its fanservice even this deep into the anime and still continue to watch it just speaks nitpicking and “grumpy old man syndrome”.

Now this eight episode does cut back on the fanservice after the some very heavy doses of it from the last couple episodes. There’s still enough of it that its not all about the zombies, but blatant fanservice sequences was very absent from this last episode. There are some very hilarious and awesome use of “bullet time” effects during the latter half of the  episode when the group gets trapped by an oncoming horde of zombies. We also get to see more great kick-ass action from the senior-class member of the group, Saeko Busujima, as she bokken smashes her way through the wall of zombies to try and distract them away from the main group. Takashi helps her out and it’s with his shooting and Saeko-chan’s acrobatic fighting that the bullet-time effects get put to good use.

This particular episode actually combines at least chapter 8 and 9 of the manga and it looks like the anime writers may be looking to start condensing the latter chapters of the manga into one episode. This maybe Madhouse’s way of hedging their bets in case ratings for the series doesn’t get a second season greenlit. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen and we get a second season to see the anime through right through the end. The manga is still going and with the anime series’ release it looks to gain more readers.

So, even with the naysayers dumping on the series because of the fanservice (even though they still continue to watch) I do believe the series has done well in adapting the manga. Some of the characterizations may seem a bit off as the series’ writers try to balance action, fanservice and quiet character moments, but with most shonen anime series sometimes characterizations take a backseat to what its audience want: the visual stuff whether they’re action and/or fanservice.

Probicus Parley 007


Probicus Parley
A Starcraft 2 Daily

007

Angry Baby Steps – When in doubt, move out, and the significance of getting Blink early:

I’ve been playing way too many team matches. I jumped back in to two 1v1s today, a loss and then a win, and it showed. I encountered the same trend in both, and I’d like to talk about it.

In my first 1v1 I was up against Terran. I thought “oh my god reapers”, because that’s what you have to think in 4v4 matches, so I went straight for a forge and three cannons before I even scouted the guy. Stupid, stupid, I know, but I’ve played like 40 team games since my last 1v1.

No reapers, no worries, but I immediately felt the setback. Here I was with two gateways and an expansion at the ready, six stalkers with blink to my name, and I didn’t have the slightest clue what I was up against. I sent in a probe, he died to a bunker at the other guy’s neck. I could have attacked. In the very least I could have sent one stalker on a suicide run to see what he was making. But no, I said screw it, my resources are pouring in now, throw down two more Gateways and start spamming stalkers.

I had about ten stalkers when he hit me, up against a bunch of marines. He won out with a few to spare. My cannons could have taken him, but by then it was too late for me. An expansion lost and two gateways beyond the range of my cannons, I packed up and moved on to the next match.

As it turns out when I had those initial six stalkers he had four marines. He’d scouted me early, he’d seen the cannons going down, he knew he had time to spare. Four barracks went down with reactors attached before he ever started massing units, and if you haven’t noticed yet reactors take a really long time. Those stalkers could have in the least decimated his supply line and given me a fighting chance.

My next opponent was zerg. The ling rush is a more realistic fear (in fact it’s probably the most practical way to scout Toss anyway), and again I started tossing down cannons. He sent a wave, they fell, and he reacted just like the other guy. “I have plenty of time now, I’m going straight for hydras/mutas.”

This guy made the mistake though of throwing down a couple sunken in case I countered his rush with zealots; he assumed that was the only unit I could mass any time soon. Well there I was in the same boat as last time pretty much, this time three gateways but no expansion, no stalkers yet because I went “omg six lings” and threw down like four more cannons. I did have a templar archive.

My (very) late scout saw an expansion going down, and I decided hey, waiting around didn’t work last time, so I started researching Blink immediately and resolved myself to go at it with what I had when the research finished.

Turns out he only had lings and those sunken. Just like the other guy he had taken my cannons (didn’t hurt that I started a bunch more during his attack after all) as a sign that I was just going to sit on my ass and let him build up. Stalkers with blink destroy lings without speed, and well, that was the end of it. I just blinked around his sunkens, took out his tech tree, and held position where I could snipe drones forever without a sunken scratching me. gg

What I took out of this was not that you should try to confuse your enemy, screw that. It’s a roll of the dice whether he falls for it, just one step up from cannon rushing. What I learned was that if you screw up big time early on and know that he knows it, you might as well try to retaliate as soon as possible. Maybe it doesn’t work for the pros, I don’t know, but at least in Gold league I was in back to back situations today where my own mistake could have won me the game.

I’m not recommending putting yourself in positions where your opponent rightly thinks he can easily overrun your base in a couple minutes, but if you find yourself there, don’t get flustered, take immediate advantage of it. There’s no sense waiting around to die, and there’s no harm in attacking with five or six units if the situation demands it.

From the other perspective, if your first assault puts you at a clear advantage over the other guy but doesn’t realistically end the game, don’t just think “oh I can tech up now” and quit making units for two or three minutes. Always maintain at least a token mobile force.

On a final note, in both cases I could not have won without Blink. In the top tiers your opponents should have a mobile force so you might want to reconsider, but if you have reason to believe the guy you’re up against doesn’t, Blink can be the game ender. I really like the idea of getting this upgrade early.

Review: The Walking Dead Volume 3 (by Robert Kirkman)


[Some Spoilers Within]

Safety Behind Bars is the third collected volume of Robert Kirkman’s excellent The Walking Dead comic book series from Image Comics. This volume collects issues 13 through 18 and it continues that journey and travails of surviving in a world overrun by the undead. As the tagline of the books proclaim, in a world ruled by the dead we are forced to finally start living. This is so true in Safety Behind Bars as Kirkman and returning artist Charlie Adlard tell the story of Rick Grimes and his band of survivors as they come across what they think will be their salvation from the threat of the hungry dead: an abandoned prison complex.

The last we saw Rick, Tyrese, Lori and their ragtag band of survivors they had just been forced off the the presumably safety of the Herschel farm after the tragic events which transpired within its fences. But Safety Behind Bars starts off with the group discovering an abandoned prison complex that may just solve their shelter, safety and food problems. Once again, Kirkman’s writing is tight and to the point. The characters of Rick and the rest of the survivors continue to evolve as the days and months pass by in the journey to survive. What they find in the abandoned prison is both safety and danger, but not in the way of most people thought it would come in. Sure there are still zombies both inside and outside of the prison’s security fences, but as the enormity of the crisis finally crashes on everyone — that there won’t be a rescue — the survivors reach the threshold of their breaking points to the detriment of everyone involved. It’s especially tragic for Tyrese as a tragedy pushes him to act on his base instincts in an act of vengeance that is both understandable and horrifying.

More people are introduced to the group in the form of surviving group of inmates left behind by fleeing prison guards. This new group acts to change the group dynamics and even add more conflict to what Rick and his group thought was going to be safety from the dead. Instead, human nature — as Kirkman sees it — causes more problems and danger than the dead represent. The events of The Walking Dead has really changed everyone involved and we lose more people to both living and the dead.

The volume ends in an even bigger cliffhanger than the previous two collected volumes. Like the best drama series on TV, The Walking Dead hooks you in with great writing, well-drawn characters and a great hook that pulls the reader in and doesn’t let go. Whether the upcoming AMC and Darabont-produced tv adaptation of this series follows this particular story-arc is still up in the air. To deviate from the prison would definitely involve a new story-arc that surpasses what Kirkman has written in these 6-issues and that would be quite a tall order.

10 Reasons Not To Sit In A Theater Full Of Old People


This is the most difficult post I’ve ever had to write.

This is largely because I wore my glasses (instead of my contacts) last night because I knew I was going to be sleeping over at Jeff’s place.  Now, it’s the morning and we can’t find my glasses.  So, while he continues to search, I am sitting here trying to write despite being blind.  Seriously, as I type this, my face is less than half-an-inch away from Jeff’s monitor.  If I squint real hard, I can kinda sorta make out the letter-shaped blobs that are blinking in front of me.

In other words, there might be some typos in this post.  Sorry — I’ll correct them once I can see again.

This post came to me last night as we were watching the new Robert Duvall film Get Low at the Regal Keystone Park 16 in Richardson, Texas.  Get Low is a good movie and Duvall gives a brilliant performance but, from the minute we first found our seats, I realized that I was literally the youngest person in the audience. 

I suppose I should define just what exactly this article’s definition of “old” is.  Originally, I was thinking of old as being anyone who is older than me (that is, anyone born before 1985).  However, that would include Jeff, all three of my sisters, and just about every other contributor to this site.  So, I revised my definition. 

From now on, old is anyone over the age of 40.

With that cleared up, on to this list:

1) Old people never show up for the movie on time.  Seriously, the first 20 minutes of Get Low were pretty much dominated by fat old people wandering around in the dark, searching for a seat.  Considering that movies never actually start when they’re supposed to and even then there’s about 15 minutes worth of commercials and trailers, there’s really no excuse for being that late.  Beyond, I guess, the arrogance that comes from being old.

2) Old people are mean.  It’s true!  And who wants to sit in the dark with a bunch of mean people?

3) Old people reek of buttery popcorn and stale nachos.  Listen, I like popcorn and I like butter on my popcorn.  And I like nachos too though I prefer the real thing as opposed to the lukewarm American version.  And, sometimes, I’ll get some popcorn to eat during the movie.  That, in itself, is not a sin.  That’s just being American.  However, I don’t use popcorn as a substitute for any of the major food groups.  But my God — what is the deal with old people who come waddling into the theater late and, of course, they’ve got a giant tub of popcorn in one hand and a giant tray of nachos in the other.  And since they waddle, what that means is that every step they take means that popcorn is going to be flying everywhere.  And then, once they do find a seat, they seem to feel the need to shake their giant tub of popcorn every few minutes as if to remind the rest of us that they’ve got a giant tub of popcorn and we don’t.  I mean, seriously, it’s time that the obese old people of the world accept the fact that not everything has to revolve around them.

4) Many old people are obese.  Before anyone says anything, I don’t feel good about writing that.  Obesity is a legitimate health concern and it’s often more the result of low self-esteem than anything else.  If I had enough money to get every obese old person liposuction, I would.  But I don’t and it doesn’t change the fact that obese old people make it difficult to enjoy a night out at the movies.  Whether it’s the fact that it takes them forever to find a seat and sit down or just the fact that they remind me of death, the grotesquely obese can be an issue.

5) Old people can’t drive.  This is less an issue when you’re watching the movie but definitely a concern when you’re trying to leave the theater afterward.  I mean, I understand that cars worked differently back in the Middle Ages but  seriously, we’ve reached a point where the engine’s not going to explode just because you tap the accelerator a little.

6) Old people can’t hear.  I love movies that are full of twists and turns.  What I can’t stand, however, is when I have to listen to the person behind me explaining all those twists and turns as they happen just because her companion is too freaking stubborn to get a hearing aid! 

7) Old people always want to do the whole Roger Ebert thing.  By this, I mean that after the movie ends, old people always want to sit there and go, “I didn’t like that…” or “The plot was too predictable.”  Okay, good for you, you’ve got an opinion.  So do I.  But I, at least, try to express my opinions in an interesting way.  “That plot was too predictable.”  Seriously, with all your years of life experience, you can be more witty than that.

8 ) Old people make weird noises.  Seriously, if you have to clear your throat that many times, you should probably be at the ER instead of the movies.

9) Old people don’t respect your privacy.  Seriously, what me and a friend choose to do while the movie is playing is our own business.  Keep your eyes on the screen, you old perverts.

10) Old people create awkward situations.  Seriously, no disrespect is meant by this but if someone in the audience dies while the movie’s playing, what is my obligation here beyond calling 911?  Is it acceptable for me to then watch the rest of the movie once I’ve called 911 or would that be considered a faux pas on my part?  I mean, what if it’s a really good movie?