As far as I was concerned, December 11th, 1992 was going to be just like any other Saturday. Per my usual routine, I took in the sights at South Dekalb Mall. I’d usually start out by perusing the rap section at Camelot Music. If nothing caught my eye, I’d sometimes walk across the road to Turtles. After that, I’d give the magazine section at the bookstore a once over. Then it was off to Champs or Foot Locker to check out the newest athletic gear. Around noontime, I’d meet up with my mom (and sometimes my grandmother) for lunch at the Piccadilly Cafeteria. Since my mom was a good listener, our lunches often turned into therapy sessions. That day, I was especially concerned about my friend Avery. Little did I know, he’d had been killed the night before.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
On this edition of Scottscope Talk Radio, the roundtable will be taking on Quentin Tarantino’s latest homage to the exploitation genre, Django Unchained! We’ll be discussing all of its most controversial aspects. Is it inappropriate and/or racist for Tarantino to use slavery as the backdrop for a violent spaghetti western? Did he make this movie simply to justify excessive use of the dreaded N-word in yet another one of his films? Is Tarantino’s realistic portrayal of slavery done in the spirit of historical accuracy, or is it merely a way to indulge in a bit of torture porn? Did Jamie Foxx end up being a better fit for the lead role than Will Smith? Does Leonardo DiCaprio make a good villain? How does this film stand up to the spaghetti westerns of yore? Is it in the same class as Sergio Corbucci’s original Django? Where does it rank among Tarantino’s earlier films? Is it among his very best, or his very worst?
Two years before the start of the civil war, a mysterious drifter makes his way through the Deep South. When he happens upon a convoy of slaves, he takes it upon himself to violently free one of them. Though courageous and charitable, this act of liberation does not come without a price. The drifter, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), is a professional bounty hunter searching for a band of killers. Django Freeman (Jamie Foxx) is a slave who has encountered the men Schultz seeks. In exchange for his help, Django will be granted ultimate freedom. He will also be united with his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who remains in captivity. Thus begins a violent odyssey which ends at the doorstep of decadent plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Thursday, December 20, 2012
This week on Scottscope Talk Radio, we’ll be discussing our favorite holiday themed genre films. From Die Hard to Lethal Weapon to Halloween (and all flicks in between), we’ll be talking about the movies that best capture the spirit of their assigned holiday. Is it inappropriate to set violent action films during Christmas time? Was the pre-millennial tension in Strange Days in keeping with Y2K hysteria? Did Gremlins represent the perfect blend of horror, humor, and holiday cheer?
I was a really skinny kid growing up. I also had the misfortune of being raised on superhero comics and action films. Perhaps that’s why I developed a fascination with bodybuilding in by late teens. Though I never became a practitioner, I have a certain amount of respect for the sport. Sculpting one’s body to such a degree takes dedication and discipline. Apparently, such qualities eluded Miami’s Sun Gym gang. While packing on muscle mass, they also packed pistols and committed crimes. Their not-so-legendary exploits are now the subject of Michael Bay’s latest bit of visual junk food, Pain And Gain.
Friday, December 14, 2012
Back when I was in the fifth grade, I encountered a fearsome looking character known as Wolverine. I had seen him before, but knew very little about him. That changed when a classmate brought a trade paperback to school that bore his name as its title. It collected all four issues of the classic limited series by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller into a single volume. The cover art was absolutely beautiful, or so I thought at the tender age of 10. It depicted the title character tussling with a group of ninja. The shadow warriors clearly had their hands full, as it looked like they were trying to restrain a rabid pitbull. Wolverine even had a length of chain clamped between his teeth. That which separates man from beast would feature prominently in the story, but I was much too young to truly understand such themes. All I knew was that I had to read that book. Read it I did, and I absolutely loved it. To this day that cover image remains seared on my psyche. It’s the defining image of the character as far as I’m concerned. The new “motion poster” for the upcoming sequel The Wolverine tries for something equally as memorable, by showing a totally different side of the character.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Collectively, the Transformers films represent a wasted opportunity, though not in the way that many would assume. They could have been big budget renditions of Japanese Super Robot films, thus serving as a wonderful introduction to the genre for American audiences. Alas, they were content with being run-of-the mill summer blockbusters. If only their considerable production values could be employed by someone with a bigger imagination and a better story to tell. Luckily, cinematic fantasist Guillermo Del Toro has an affinity for Kaiju films. What’s more, he has channeled that love into his latest project, Pacific Rim.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
This week on Scottscope Talk Radio, we’ll be celebrating the 20th anniversary of Dr. Dre’s immortal classic The Chronic! Is it Hip-Hop’s best compilation album ever? What can be gleaned from its storied legacy? Is its legendary status overstated? What effect did the L.A. Riots have during the recording sessions for the album? Is it more conscious than people give it credit for? Does Dre get too much credit in regards to the groundbreaking production work? Have the contributions of Warren G, Colin Wolfe, Daz, and Cold 187um gone unrecognized? Will Detox ever come out? Even if it does, can it hope to match or exceed The Chronic in terms of quality and/or impact?
The teaser trailer for Man of Steel left me quite cold. As a friend humorously observed, it looked more like a Levi’s commercial than an advertisement for an upcoming Superhero film. To make matters worse, I am of the minority viewpoint that it’s much too soon to release another Superman movie, much less one that takes a “dark and serious” view of the character. Bryan Singer already attempted something along those lines in 2006 with Superman Returns. The result was a dreary yet great looking film which cast portrayed the character as a love struck stalker. That’s hardly the kind of adventure that fans were expecting. I’m hard pressed to believe that Zack Snyder could do much better, Christopher Nolan’s involvement notwithstanding. Such reservations aside, the new trailer for Man of Steel has me rethinking my initial assumptions.
Monday, December 10, 2012
Namekian conqueror Piccolo (Michael Amariah) engages Saiyan warrior Raditz (Zack Nizato) in battle. Raditz is ultimately defeated by Piccolo’s powerful Makanosappo technique. As he lay dying, the Saiyan warrior sends a final transmission to his scouter, thus summoning his comrades Vegeta (Aaron Ly) and Nappa (Ryan Oliva). When the Saiyans finally arrive, they are met by organized resistance in form of Tien Shinan (David Cheung), Chiaotzu (Oliver Faber), Yamcha (Isky Fay), Krillin (Lee Edward Jones), Piccolo, and Kid Gohan (Brandon Ly). Alas, even their combined efforts are no match for the destructive duo. In a moment of desperation, Krillin calls on Raditz’ Goku (Peter Perelta), who arrives ready for battle. Will he be able to save the day?
Thursday, December 6, 2012
A worthy soul walks through a mysterious tunnel in search of the prize that waits on the other side. His passage is interrupted by a pair of shadow warriors, who mean to prevent him from crossing over into glory. What he finds are a pair of shadow warriors who are determined not to let him make his way to the light.
Sequels are often expected to be darker and more harrowing than their predecessors. This is also true of immediate follow-ups to successful franchise reboots. The notion is directly related to the trope of “sequel escalation.” Sequels are generally meant to be “bigger and better.” Hence, the stakes have to be raised. This is usually achieved via the introduction an even more ruthless villain, preferably one who has a score to settle with the protagonist(s). The Japanese teaser for Star Trek Into Darkness offers just that. From the looks of things, it may be taking fans down a very familiar path.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
On this week’s edition of Scottscope Talk Radio, the roundtable takes aim at the Motion Picture Association of America's film-rating system! Instituted on November 1st, 1968, the system was meant provide parents with a handy guide as to the content of theatrically released films. In the decades since its implementation, things have changed. The internet has made questionable material readily available to children everywhere. Primetime network television shows continuously push boundaries. Mainstream American films are more violent and sexually explicit than ever, and many now believe the ratings system as we know it to be obsolete. Is the MPAA still relevant? Do parents still need such an organization to help guide their children’s viewing habits? Why does the MPAA have a higher tolerance for violence than sexuality? Why do major studio films get preference over independent films? Should the ratings system be revamped, or simply done away with?
Late one night, two bounty hunters (Nate Hitpas and Jessie Bayani) cautiously approach a seemingly empty dojo. Inside, a corrupt sensei (Shawn Bernal) trains in solitude. Determined to apprehend their prey, the pair enters the establishment. Unfortunately for them, the able bodied master has no intention of being carted away in restraints. Will the hunters claim their prize, or will the master emerge triumphant?