The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Pulp Fiction



"Pulp Fiction" is considered Quentin Tarantino' masterpiece; both as a writer and director. It is a now legendary screenplay that changed the way films were written. The film opens with a conversation between "Pumpkin" and "Honey Bunny" as they chat about their new plans to rob restaurants instead of banks and liquor stores. Eventually this scene will end the film as it bookends on itself.

Uma Thurman plays Marcellus Wallace's wife, Mia, and her only importance to film is to be entertained by Vincent Vega (John Travolta) on a date that's not quite a date. Travolta, for me, is the real stand out. When he's on screen his scenes, whether Jackson is next to him or not, are full of energy and pulp. He does a lot of listening, some dancing, a lot of arguing and/or debating, and offers up a lot of great comedic moments. His best scenes are with Uma Thurman when they go to Jackrabbit Slims. This little date, where they talk about nothing of much importance as far plot is concerned, is funny, engrossing and entertaining. I don't know why it never gets old, but it doesn't. The acting between the two is great and both were worthy of their Oscar nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively. This section of the film is one of the strongest of the three along with "The Bonnie Situation." The writing and acting is superb in both sections. This date leads to an overdose as Mia takes a line of Vincent's heroine. The direction here is much in the mold of a graphic Hitchcock film. To add to the suspense the owner of the house counts to three, we see all the nervously waiting faces in the entire room. We get a close-up shot on the needle that's cocked back and ready to strike. We get a closeup on the red dot where the needle needs to hit. It slowly builds the scene and the suspense. Tarantino handles this scene and all the others with a ton of precision and a lot of confidence.

"The Bonnie Situation" may very well be the strongest section of the film. This is where we meet "The Wolf" (Harvey Keitel) as he cleans up a mess made by Vincent Vega in a hilarious scene where he accidentally "shot Marvin the face." "The Bonnie Situation" offers up quite a bit of laughs, some great acting, and a very strong ending. The film ends where it started with Jules (Jackson) talking about changing his life around as he "walks the earth." The film ends on Jules changing or turning against everything he has ever known. Instead of being a bad and killing "Pumpkin" (Tim Roth), he gives him some money, out of his own wallet, for a chance to start fresh and redeem himself. This might actually be "Pumpkin" and "Honey Bunny's" last heist, and they have Jules to thank for the chance at redemption and changing their ways.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Batffleck

Watching "Pulp Fiction" later, but I thought I would comment on this, first.

You know what, now that I've slept on it, I can honestly say that I don't care... He was a bad Daredevil, that being said, that was what... ten years ago? This is why it's important to watch movies that don't have superheroes in them. He was pretty good in "The Town", and he did a fantastic job on "Argo." Things change.

This movie will suck, no doubt about that, but it won't be because of Affleck... it will be because of Zack Snyder aka Michael Bay the Sequel (I finally said it!). It's a sequel to "Man of Steel" also by Zack Snyder. They could physically transform Kevin Conroy into a carbon copy of what everyone imagines Bruce Wayne looks like, and it wouldn't matter. It's being made in Snydervision! It's dead on arrival, folks. Dead on arrival!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Just a Quickie

Dread, over at the Super Hero Hype is watching "Gargoyles" for the first time and reviewing it, episode-by-episode. At the conclusion of his review for "The Mirror", he made a point that I had to stand up and applaud.

I may as well use this episode to address something which has occasionally come up not only in online discussion circles with us audience members but also occasionally on radio shows involving actual production or higher up people within Marvel Entertainment. Obviously, Greg Weisman and his production/writing staff on this and subsequent productions see great inspiration in classics such as Shakespeare. "A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM" in particular would be used to frame several episodes of "SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN" and some within Marvel brass would even go on to dismiss it as appealing to adults which such fare.
The way I see it, references to culture and other works of fiction are common in TV shows, comics, and films, but ESPECIALLY so in animation. Naturally this means that such references often play a role in dialogue and framing of episodes, and even on inspiration and the impression that such new works leave. The easy thing to do is to pander, to offer pop culture references of the lowest denominator for an easy smirk or attempt at one - "FAMILY GUY" in particular does this. Unfortunately, this can often date the show poorly and offer little new or of substance to the audience. I remember a line of narration in the original KICK-ASS which read to the effect of, "I started out as 'HEROES' season one, and now? I'm season freaking two". That may have sounded awfully hip then, but read it now and all you think is, "Gosh, this was totally written in 2007". 
While "GARGOYLES" or other Weisman productions are willing to reference films or TV shows as they go (such as horror movies of the golden age or even "CAGNEY & LACEY"), they seek to offer a glimpse at some more classical material. Many children don't grasp them because of how they're presented in schools to them, often as reading chores. Instead episodes such as this inspire the imagination and get to the root of the work beyond just memorizing lines for a test or report. I'm hardly a Shakespeare buff but I do appreciate an attempt to use a classic not just to try to teach me something, but to use it to present the show I am watching in a new light.

The bottom line is a show can choose to reference and even adapt something which has stood the test of time for over 400 years, or it can choose to reference video games or soap operas as "ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN" does. I also feel it helps give a sense of importance to the actors, as many of them trained on the classics and thus it may feel like coming home again for some of them. Kevin Conroy always gets props for comparing Batman to "HAMLET" at his initial audition, after all. Shows which pander to the lowest common denominator may score some cheap laughs or nods, but shows which aspire for something greater usually wind up standing the test of time. I barely even notice that in "GARGOYLES", I am watching a show which debuted during Bill Clinton's first term in office. Will "ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN" be able to claim the same? It is better to inspire greatness than expect mediocrity, especially when it can be done so elegantly and in such an entertaining manner as this.

THANK YOU!!! I have nothing to add, I agree with every word of this. I would take it a step further and say this, although it predates it by five years, "GARGOYLES" is the Anti-Family Guy. It doesn't pander in it's references, but encourages it's audience to take a look at the classics. And while "FAMILY GUY" may be the "adult" cartoon, "GARGOYLES" is easily the more mature one. Also, while "GARGOYLES" was a drama, when it was funny (as this episode was), it was hilarious.

Okay, I'll be back with my next post... a review of "Pulp Fiction." I promised Tarantino summer, and I will deliver!

Friday, August 9, 2013

State of the Blog

I'm sorry I haven't been around much. But moving into a new house, making new house look nice, exploring career opportunities and such, I haven't had much time. I have a lot to say and I want to watch the rest of Tarantino's filmography before summer's end and fulfill my commitment.

I'll try to be around more often, but I can't make any promises. But I haven't abandoned my blog and I hope none of you do.