Will Pfeifer's Blog

December 18, 2014


... because it's your last chance -- ever -- to enjoy one of the best Christmas traditions in the history of television. For more than the past quarter century, on both his NBC and CBS shows, Dave has invited the same two very special guests to help celebrate the holiday.

First off, comedian/actor Jay Thomas stops by to do things: He tells the very funny story of a time, many years ago, when he and a buddy were (a) a couple of hippies and (b) tasked with driving Clayton Moore, aka the Lone Ranger, to an event. I won't spoil the ending, but suffice to say that the cop who stops by when the get in an accident winds up being very, very surprised. And then, after that, Jay and Dave toss a football, trying to knock a meatball off the top of the Late Show Christmas tree. It all sounds very silly -- and it is -- but somehow, the fact that these two old friends have been doing this for years, and Jay doesn't have anything he's trying to promote, it somehow winds up being oddly touching, too.

And then, at the end of the show, the legendary Darlene Love stops by to sing "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," which she first brought to vibrant life way back in 1963 on the equally legendary pop masterpiece, "A Christmas Gift to You from Phil Spector." Darlene gives it her all every year, blowing the roof off the place with the help of the Late Show Orchestra and an army of guest performers. In case you've never had the pleasure of seeing it, here's a video compilation the Late Show gang put together to honor Darlene's 28 (!) years of service...


It's a truly great hour of television, funny and heartwarming in equal measures. But, like I said, tune in Friday and enjoy it while you can, because David Letterman leaves the air in May, meaning this will be his last December -- and last Christmas -- behind the desk. I'm sure Stephen Colbert is going to do a great job as Dave's successor, but I'm also sure he's not going to continue this tradition -- nor should he. Some things should be allowed to come to a final, fitting end.
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Published on December 18, 2014 19:02

December 16, 2014


The latest issue of TEEN TITANS hits the stands today (that is, Dec. 17), and it's part one of a two-parter that acts as a sort of bridge for what's come before (i.e., killer robots) and what's to come (i.e., something much worse.) For this issue and the next, the art duties are being handled by Scott Hepburn, and I think you'll like the action-packed style he brings to our young heroes. I know I do.


If you want a sneak peek at what's coming, including the thrilling scene (above) where Red Robin praises the virtues of the S.T.A.R. Labs dental plan, click here. And if you have any comments about the issue itself, as always, you're welcome to share them on this blog.

Plus, there's a variant cover (featuring variant -- and vintage -- Titans) by the legendary Darwyn Cooke. Check it out...



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Published on December 16, 2014 20:16

December 14, 2014

Continuing the rambling recap of movies I watched last month...

Christopher Nolan's science fiction epic wasn't perfect by any means, but it's always nice to see someone actually swinging for the fences as opposed to filling in the same old blanks, and every so often, "Interstellar" managed to deliver that sense of wonder you get so rarely in movies. At the end, I thought Nolan had lost his way and was going to deliver some sort of corny "love finds a way" rationalization for the whole time tripping factor, but thankfully there was a sort of scientific explanation for the twists, and though it might be complete nonsense (I can't tell -- it's pretty high science, in every sense of the word) in a case like this, effort counts for a lot. In my non-Batman Nolan ranking, I'd stick it under "Memento," "Inception" and "The Prestige," but it's in the same ballpark and definitely worth a look -- just be sure to see it on the biggest screen you can possibly find.

The highest compliment I can give this movie is that, about halfway through, I honestly had no idea where it was going next, much less how it was going to end. Based (extremely loosely) on the X-Men two-parter of the same name, it managed to live up to my fond memories of those Byrne/Claremont/Austin issues while added several wrinkles of its own. (By the way, here's how fondly those issues are remembered -- I know, without checking online or having read them in a quarter century, that they appeared in issues 141 and 142*) I have no idea how this movie would play to a civilian, but as a longtime X-Men fan who hasn't read an issue since the 1980s, I thought it was top-notch. My one complaint? Quicksilver was such an interesting character, and so well used, effects-wise, that it couldn't help but be disappointing when I realized he wasn't coming back for the rest of the movie. I'm curious to see if he'll be as compelling in the next Avengers movie, with a different design and different actor bringing him to life.

The final extra-long wrap-up episode of an HBO series probably only counts as a "movie" in the loosest possible sense of the word, but I wanted to take this space to recognize what an excellent series "Hello Ladies" was and how nicely the final installment wrapped everything up in a neat little bow. Stephen Merchant used to be the behind-the-scenes collaborator with whom Ricky Gervais brought "The Office" and "Extras" to life, but in view of this series' excellence it's apparent he was -- at the very least -- a full partner. "Hello Ladies" combined the cringe humor that made "The Office" a landmark series with the sort of unabashed heart that made the characters more than just jokes. Merchant was just right as the lovelorn coder trying to find a gorgeous girlfriend in modern L.A., and Christine Woods matched him perfectly as the friend you (spoilers for anyone not expecting this) knew he'd eventually hook up with. Strange to see her here, so friendly and fun, at the same time she was appearing on "The Walking Dead" as the creepy cop at the end of her rope. Acting!

It's hard for me to review a movie like this. On the one hand, there's certainly nothing wrong with it -- it looks great, the vocal talent is strong, the action is well-staged and the animation is flawless. But on the other hand, it doesn't break any new ground, it hits all the usual family-oriented superhero beats and even the big twist isn't hard to predict. I suppose it's the inevitable result of the success of modern animation -- the bar has been raised so high that for anything to stand out, it's going to have to really be amazing. Still, there are worse ways to pass 102 minutes, and it'll keep your kids out of trouble. 
This, on the other hand, remains a pretty amazing movie, mostly for the way it manages to walk the very fine line between spilling the beans on the guy in the red suit and treating the characters in the movie like sensible adults who live in something resembling the real world. At it's heart, "Miracle on 34th Street" is a sharp screwball comedy spoofing big music, commercialism, politics and bureaucracy. Surprising that Edmund Gwenn doesn't get top billing on the poster above, considering he's just about the best screen Santa in the history of film, but you can see how 20th Century Fox was pushing this as a romantic comedy rather than a Christmas movie. (It originally opened on May 2, 1947, believe it or not.) My two favorite scenes? Naturally, the moment when Santa speaks to the little war orphan girl in her own language gets me every time, but one I like even better is near the end, when the hearing has ended and Kris Kringle has been ruled to officially be the real Santa Claus. He and Maureen O'Hara meet on the steps of the courthouse, and she invites him over for dinner. He begs off politely, reminding her that it's Christmas Eve, and she apologizes for forgetting that he might be busy. It's a small scene, but it illustrates how well the movie never comes right out and says whether Santa is real -- but by the end of the movie, everyone, including the characters and the viewers, are willing to believe that's the case.

Up next: The end of the November recap, with yet another theatrical release, two movies from the long-forgotten "Whistler" series and a genuinely terrible blockbuster.

*Nerd!
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Published on December 14, 2014 12:22

December 13, 2014

Once again pushing right up against the limits of "better late then never," here's part one (of three, believe it or not) of my recap of the movies I watched in November...


Interesting, low-key (and low-budget) documentary about the comic book scare of the 1950s, which led to the development of the (now defunct) Comics Code Authority. I knew pretty much all of this stuff already, having read David Hadju’s excellent “The Ten-Cent Plague” and other histories of the era, but it’s a fascinating subject and always worth revisiting. Two things people always forget: One, the Comics Code wasn’t government censorship – it was industry self-censorship provoked by (a) fear of possible government censorship and (b) a desire to thin the herd a bit by getting rid of some of the smaller publishers (including the late, great E.C. Comics. And two, Frederic Wertham, who started the whole mess, was a dedicated, lifelong liberal and not some censorship-happy conservative.

I’m not sure why I never watched this Roger Corman Poe adaptation before, but TCM (bless their hearts) ran it during Halloween and I finally caught what’s definitely Corman’s best Poe movie – and one of his best movies, period. Blessed with bee-yoo-ti-ful cinematography courtesy of the great Nicolas Roeg, “Masque” is a riot of colors, with the costume balls thrown by evil Prince Prospero (Vincent Price, at the top of his game) looking especially good. Roeg and production designer Daniel Haller also color-coordinate rooms of the castle in a striking way that predates a similar effect in Peter Greenaways’ “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Love” by a few decades. Best of all, “Masque of the Red Death” isn’t just a visual feast – it’s a dark, ominous movie about plague, decadence and the power of evil. It’s genuinely creepy in the best possible way.

I’ve written about this one several times in these blog postings, and it’s great. Holds up to repeated viewings, manages to be hilarious, suspenseful and heartbreaking, and I maintain that sequence when the toys face death in the scrap yard ranks among the best movie scenes of the 21st century.

Allie’s been crazy about Greek myths lately, so we watched this 1997 movie, which came at the end of the 1990s Disney renaissance and just as Pixar was starting to take over screen animation. It’s not bad, not exactly, but it showcases all the worst excesses of that particular Disney formular: celebrity voices, “hip” references and endless, pointless musical numbers. I mean, as a decades-long Letterman fan, I love Paul Shaffer, but having Hermes not only act like him but look like him, too, makes no sense, story-wise. Also, as Meg, Susan Egan is so bored-with-life and seen-it-all that you can’t believe any man would fall in love with her, much less Hercules, the sort of guy who could get any woman in the world. Allie liked it more than me, but her favorite movie remains the 1981 “Clash of the Titans,” which makes me deliriously happy. Next we need to check out that 2015 "Hercules" starring the Rock and Ian McShane, which got surprisingly good reviews. 

Interesting documentary about Tim Jenison, a wealthy tech inventor who spends the kind of money and time you and I can only dream about studying – and eventually replicating – the painting techniques of Dutch master Jonannes Vermeer. If you’re fascinated by the artistic process – like me – you’ll want to check this one out, if only to see how Jenison takes something that seems unexplainable and unreproducible (Vermeer’s painting style) and figures out how it was done. (Spoiler alert: It involves mirrors and patience.) The whole reveal-the-secret-behind-the-magic theme of the film makes sense when you realize it was directed by Teller (as in “Penn and…”) and written by both of them. Penn shows up onscreen, of course, but the highlight of the movie comes when actor Martin Mull  shows up to watch Jenison’s technique. Jenison tells Mull that he was delayed because it took him a half an hour “to learn how to operate a paintbrush,” and Mull (no slouch as an artist himself) replies “Good for you. It took me 40 years.”
Up next: Not one but two (two!) theatrical releases, including a science fiction epic.
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Published on December 13, 2014 08:47

November 27, 2014


Somehow, I missed the fact that this was arriving this week, but yesterday a package from Dark Horse arrived on my doorstep, and when I opened it, I found this beautiful hardcover volume that reprints the (previously released) two paperback volumes of HELLBOY WEIRD TALES, which reprinted the Dark Horse mini-series where dozens of writers and artists (including yours truly) were given the chance to play in Mike Mignola's Hellboy universe.

The story I wrote is "Command Performance," beautifully drawn by my pal Craig Russell (who invited me into this party -- thanks again, Craig), but the credits page of this book reads like a Murderer's Row of modern comics -- Jill Thompson, Eric Powell, Evan Dorkin, John Cassaday, Michael Kaluta, Galen Showman, Mark Ricketts, J.H. Williams III, Craig Thompson, Dave Stewart, Guy Davis, Frank Cho, Gene Colan, the late (and great) Dave Stevens and many, many more, Plus, it's a mere $24.99 cover price. Wotta bargain!

If you're a fan of Hellboy (who isn't), great comics (likewise) or just looking for a single volume to carry to conventions and get many, many signatures, I can't recommend this one highly enough -- and not just because I'm in it.

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Published on November 27, 2014 07:43 • 2 views

November 18, 2014


The new issue of TEEN TITANS hits the stands (do they make stands anymore?), and this one wraps up the initial arc,"BLINDED BY THE LIGHT." The Titans all make an appearance here, but if you're a fan of the one who doesn't happen to have any powers, this is your lucky day -- Red Robin takes center stage against the unnervingly more powerful Algorithm (she's the robot who's been giving our heroes so much trouble over the page few issues.)

As before, besides my script, you've got art by Kenneth Rocafort (that's his cover above), colors by Dan Brown, letters by John J. Hill and editing by Mike Cotton, Rickey Purdin and Eddie Berganza.


Plus, if you're a fan of snap-together blocks and the figures that fit them, there's also this variant cover featuring an especially adorable Beast Boy minifig. Not, alas, available in stores.

Also, if you want a preview of what's inside the issue, click here. And, as always let me know what you thought of the comic, either here, on Facebook or on Twitter.


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Published on November 18, 2014 20:51 • 1 view

November 10, 2014

Better late than never (?), here are the movies I watched during the 31 days of October 2014. As befits the season, many of them had a spooktacular* sort of a theme...

After watching "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" and "Nightmare Before Christmas" in September, we decided to show Allie this bit of vintage 1988 Tim Burton in preparation for Halloween. It holds up surprisingly well, mostly because though the story is admittedly pretty far out there, Burton never gets caught up too much in the costumes, makeup and special effects -- like he would in later films. What's also surprising is how young everyone is, from Alec Baldwin (playing a rare nice guy) to Winona Ryder, still a few years away from her breakout role in "Heathers." Michael Keaton, of course, is hilarious in the title role, giving the movie just the right jolt of comedic energy exactly when it needs it. What shocked me, though, was watching the extremely family-friendly movie with nine-year-old Allie and hearing Keaton exclaim, seemingly out of nowhere, "Nice f*ckin model!" It's very funny, I'll admit, but not the sort of verbal humor I was expecting.

With Allie at her grandparents' for the day, Amy and I managed to sneak out and see David Fincher's heartwarming ode to modern marriage. Solid movie, which is what you can (at the very least) expect from Fincher, but definitely not at the level of his best work like, say, "Fight Club," "The Social Network" or "Zodiac." AND HERE'S WHERE THE SPOILERS BEGIN, PEOPLE: Obviously, there's some sort of twist coming, being that no one would care about the movie (or the book it's based on) if the whole story was just about a husband who kills his wife and tries to cover it up. So even though the twist in the second act wasn't exactly overwhelming, it did make the movie that much more enjoyable because it was fascinating watching a woman's (extremely) intricate plan come together, then fall apart, then come together again. And though the entire cast was strong, Rosamund Pike really did steal the show as Amazing Amy herself. It's amazing how likable she was in "The World's End" and how hate-able she was here. Acting! 

Later that same night, I decided to chase "Gone Girl" with another Fincher adaptation of a best-selling novel about a woman who is not to be messed with. Again, not exactly top-drawer Fincher, but it looks great (of course) and that chilly Swedish setting invigorates the whole film. Probably too long by a half-hour or so, and as much fun as it is to watch Rooney Mara slip on a disguise and frame Daniel Craig's nemesis at the end of the movie, it really doesn't have anything to do with the main plot and just ends up dragging things out.


One of my favorite movies, for reasons I can't quite explain. It's corny as hell, the jokes are utterly unfunny, the music is too deliberately wacky and there's an adoption subplot involving the editor (Jack Webb, who also directed) that, besides being borderline offensive and making zero sense, sidetracks the entire movie. But, in spite of all that, I'll watch "-30'" whenever it airs on TCM, and I have a DVD sitting on my shelf (thanks, Warner Archive) just in case it's not on TV. I suppose it's the only movie that manages to capture not what an actually newsroom is like during one fairly busy news night, but what every journalist wishes the newsroom could be like -- lots of wisecracks and colorful characters, a breaking story (girl lost in storm drains as rain begins) and wise, crusty bosses (Webb and the great William Conrad) who know how to inspire their staffs. Plus, it's the only movie I've ever seen that (a) not only shows a pica pole (a tool of the trade in page design, or at least it used to be) but (b) also shows Webb plotting out a page, using actual measurements and font names, then gives us a glimpse of the printed page later in the movie. If you've ever worked in a newsroom, at least check this one out once. I'm guessing some small part of it will ring true.


For my turn at Family Movie Night, I decided since it was October I'd show Allie one of the classic Universal horror movies, and I figured "The Invisible Man" is both fast-paced enough and short enough (a mere 71 minutes) that it would hold her attention. Correct on both counts! She really loved the scenes with Claude Rains (or at least Claude Rains' voice) tearing off his bandages and clothes to reveal a void underneath, and the typically colorful characters in James Whale's film kept her amused. And I even though I've seen it plenty of times, I was impressed once again what a sharp, funny, slightly unnerving movie it is. Just when you get used to Rains' character teasing the drunks at the inn and bragging about his plans for world conquest, he goes out and derails a train, sending it over a cliff and no doubt killing hundreds of people. In other words, like the best classic horror films, it's wildly entertaining (even funny) one minute, and completely chilling the next.


Unfortunately, you can't say the same for this 1951 Bowery Boys movie, which came late in their run when the everyone involved was clearly going through the motions. The plot involves some sort of scam involving a medium who claims to communicate with the dead (an unfortunately timely topic, even in 2014), but the plot gets tangled up in the usual nonsensical shenanigans, and things become even more needlessly complicated when an actual ghost shows up to narrate part of the movie and help our idiotic heroes save the day. That being said, I'll never get tired of the way Leo Gorcey mangles the English language. I find it hilarious. Sue me.
Continuing the semi-scary movie theme, I somehow convinced Amy to watch this piece of vintage 1980 garbage from the early days of the slasher movie cycle. ("Halloween," also starring Jamie Lee Curtis, arrived only two years earlier, and "Friday the 13th" appeared that same year.) This one follows what would soon be established as the standard formula -- killer gets revenge for a long-ago crime at either an out-of-the-way location or during a specific event -- in this case, the prom, obviously. Trouble is, it's terribly acted, idiotically written and filmed so ineptly that it's hard to decipher what the hell is going on in any given scene. Leslie Nielsen, who plays the dad/principal, would thankfully never have to make this sort of movie again -- "Airplane!" arrived in theaters later this year, securing his big screen future.


To round out the month, we decided to watch a horror movie we'd never seen on Halloween night and chose "The Changeling," another 1980 chiller, this one with a formidable reputation. (Martin Scorsese, for instance, picks it among the scariest movies ever made.) George C. Scott stars as a man who is shattered by the death of his wife and daughter, then begins to think his daughter's spirit -- or at least someone's spirit -- is following him around. It's not a bad movie by any means, with a real sense of style and strong performances (anchored, of course, by Scott himself). But I think this is one of those films that I've just read too much about over the years to really feel the impact of. One of the showcase moments in the film is when Scott's daughter's toy ball bounces back down the stairs to him, but I've seen that clip in so many horror retrospectives that it just didn't scare me in the slightest. I will say this: the seance scene, where the medium is frantically writing messages on sheets of paper, is genuinely chilling and surprised me with its effectiveness. If only the whole movie had felt the same way.

* Why must this word be limited to the month of October? "Spooktacular" is such a beautiful, lyrical edition to the English language that it should be proudly written and spoken the whole year 'round!


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Published on November 10, 2014 18:25 • 2 views

October 15, 2014


Latest issue of TEEN TITANS hits the stands today, with script by yours truly, art and cover by Kenneth Rocafort, colors by Dan Brown, letters by John J. Hill and editing duties by Mike Cotton, Rickey Purdin and Eddie Berganza. There are also variant covers by Gene Ha and Kevin Wada, so keep an eye out for them, too.

Inside, you'll get to see Raven meet her own tribute band, Bunker defeat the world's most pathetic mugger, Wonder Girl's mom meet her daughter's creepy fan club and Beast Boy turn into (a) an ostrich and (b) a bison. Plus, Red Robin breaks into S.T.A.R. Labs and the gang orders breakfast!

Intrigued? Check out a preview of the issue here.
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Published on October 15, 2014 04:33 • 5 views

October 9, 2014

From the Better Late Than Never Dept., here's a recap of the movies I watched in September...


As I’ve said many, many times on this blog, I love pre-Code movies, those nasty little artifacts from the era after sound arrived but before the Motion Picture Production Code gained any sort of teeth. Turner Classic Movies showed dozens of them in September, and one was the legendary “Baby Face,"  a 1933 scorcher I actually own on DVD but couldn’t stop watching once it started playing on TCM. Here’s the deal: Barbara Stanwyck plays a young woman whose father pimps her out to the coal miners in their town. When she finally has enough and hits the road, she winds up in New York and has sex with an ever-escalating level of employee as she moves up (and up and up) in the corporation. And that’s it. It’s startling to see a movie so blatant about the sex-for-success transaction, but that’s exactly what “Baby Face” is – and it was released 81 years ago. Stanwyck sweet talks some hapless guy, they stroll into a room, then the camera pans up the exterior of the bank to the next level where, before long, the process is repeated. Amazing. Stanwyck is great, too, so full of moxie she practically bursts at the seams. (In an early scene, she opens a beer – this is during Prohibition, remember – then gets her breasts pawed by some sleazy coal miner. She breaks the bottle over his head, then starts drinking another beer like nothing ever happened.) Keep an eye out for a young John Wayne in a bit part (years away from his “Stagecoach” stardom, he’s too low on the corporate ladder to even get a second glance from Stanwyck.) African-American actress Theresa Harris plays Stanwyck’s loyal friend who, for some unfortunate reason, becomes her maid when she hits the big city. It’s just about the only part of this movie that seems terribly dated.

For some reason, I really like the movies of William Castle. There’s something about the low-key professionalism he brings to his horror films, sort of like Alfred Hitchcock on a smaller budget (or Roger Corman on a bigger one.) I know I’m never going to actually be scared by what he puts onscreen, but there’s always at least one “shock” moment that’s a lot of fun or some plot twist that you know he gleefully thought up during some late-night writing sessions. “Mr. Sardonicus” doesn’t reach the wonderfully absurd heights of “Homicidal” or “The Tingler,” but it does have a great visual reveal when we finally see the title character's misshapen face, and there’s a creepy undercurrent to the whole movie involving the lead character, the young ladies of his town and his twisted marriage. Castle was, of course, known for his gimmicks, and this one originally came with a card allowing theatergoes to decide if they wanted Baron Sardonicus to be punished for his crimes. The movie stops, Castle himself comes onscreen and asks people to hold up their “Punishment Cards,” then actually pretends to count up the total and tell the theater manager to load the vote-getting scene into the projector. Of course, Castle doesn’t count the votes (How could he? He’s a clip in a movie!) and not only that, he only filmed one ending to the movie. Spoiler alert: Baron Sardonicus gets horribly punished. Castle knew his audiences, and he knew they had a merciless, bloodthirsty sense of justice – and spectacle.

We introduced this movie to Allie and, I’m happy to say, it holds up beautifully – maybe better than any of Tim Burton’s other movies (besides “Ed Wood.”) Despite its mid '80s pedigree, “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” is pretty timeless, with a box of Mr. T cereal and a Twisted Sister cameo near the end just about the only actual artifacts from the 1980s. What’s amazing is how damned funny it still is, hanging hundreds of jokes on the flimsy tale of Pee Wee’s attempts to recover his stolen bike. Allie was completely into it, anticipating the trouble Pee Wee was getting into and laughing herself silly at each (mis)adventure. I was watching her carefully when the “Large Marge” segment was on, and when Marge’s face exploded into a very Tim Burton-esque creature, she was genuinely scared and did NOT want to watch that part again. She didn’t know who James Brolin or Morgan Fairchild are, so the satire of the movie within the movie went over her head, but boy oh boy did she love the voice that they dub in for Pee Wee during that last bit. She’s still walking around the house croaking out “Paging Mister Herman … Mister Herman..”


The other Tim Burton movie of the month (well, sort of – despite what everyone assumes, he wrote and produced it, but Henry Selick actually directed it), watched at Allie’s insistence. It’s a lot of fun and a great showcase for the art of stop-motion animation, but unlike “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure,” this one definitely has some draggy sections. (Paul Reubens, by the way, has a small part as the voice of one of Oogie Boogie’s assistants.)

If you’re seeking cinematic proof that less is more, allow me to offer up this imaginative, creepy, never-not-mesmerizing sort-of sci-fi flick directed by Jonathan Glazer. Scarlett Johansson plays an alien who seduces men in Scotland, then uses their bodies for energy. Maybe. To be honest, exactly none of that is explained during the movie, and you’re left to assume whatever you think is happening actually is happening. And that’s not as much of a problem as you might think – in fact, it’s one of the movie’s strengths. Beginning with a stunning surreal sequence, “Under the Skin” is such a sensory experience of Kurbrickian proportions that you miss the point if you worry about the details of the story. I’m reluctant to say much more for fear of spoiling your viewing, so let me offer a very high recommendation (assuming you’re not the sort of person who demands a tight plot) and let you start watching.

The other pre-Coder I caught on TCM last month was this 1931 gangster classic that’s even older than “Baby Face.” In the role that made him a star, the great Edward G. Robinson plays Cesare Enrico Bandello – aka Rico aka “Little Caesar” – an ambitious, amoral thug who quickly rises in the ranks of what I’m guessing is the Chicago underworld – ala a certain Mr. Alphonse Capone, who was active at the same time. “Little Caesar” dates from the early days of sound cinema, when all the kinks hadn’t been worked out, and Mervyn Leroy’s direction tends toward the static at times. But it moves quickly and is full of memorable scenes, including an “introduction to the gang” sequence from Rico’s point of view that predates a similar scene in “GoodFellas” by about six decades. Best of all, Robinson is amazing, playing Rico as a complex character, alternately insecure, bold and murderous. He’s fun to watch on the way up as he embraces his new, glamorous lifestyle, but he’s even more fun on the way down, skulking in a flophouse and growling at his fellow bums, reduced to the level of a desperate animal. Of all the actors of all the eras in film history, I think Edward G. Robinson is my favorite, and it’s because of performances like this.
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Published on October 09, 2014 16:06 • 4 views

September 26, 2014

As a cult movie fan, two of my favorite documentaries of recent years have been "Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!" and "Machete Maidens Unleashed!," both directed by Mark Hartley and both taking loving looks at forgotten corners of cinema history (Australian exploitation movies and American action movies filmed in the Philippines, respectively).

His latest film, "Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films," focuses on the over-the-top '80s movies produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, and it has the potential to be even wilder than his previous two efforts (which, trust me, are pretty wild -- and highly recommended.) Just check out this trailer and tell me you don't want to see this movie...

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Published on September 26, 2014 15:38 • 5 views

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