The Western is often thought of as an exclusively American genre, and for good reason. It is inherently American, and one of this nation’s greatest contributions to world cinema. That being said, its appeal is universal. Its popularity has spread to corners far and wide and to parts unknown. Much of its appeal relates to the mystique of the outlaw. That mystique is often tied, in one way or another, to class warfare. This is especially true of countries which have no middle class.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead!
During his face-off with the conniving house slave Stephen, Django Freeman triumphantly declared himself “That one nigger in ten thousand.” Indeed, the film’s cartoonish finale proved him to be just that. Such flamboyant touches have always been a major part of Quentin Tarantino’s oeuvre. After all, the guy has never been known for his subtlety. In fact, a friend and colleague of mine very recently pointed out a rather sneaky (and potentially inflammatory) bit of foreshadowing in regards to Django’s self-proclaimed status.
Friday, January 18, 2013
On this week’s edition of Scottscope Talk Radio, the roundtable takes aim at Kathryn Bigelow’s latest, Zero Dark Thirty! Is it as a worthy follow-up to The Hurt Locker? Is it in the same class as her earlier work, or is it in a totally different class entirely? Does it truly deserve all of the praise that is currently being heaped upon it? Will it prevail at this year’s Oscars? How realistic is it? Does it accurately portray the hunt for Osama Bin Laden? Will right-wing pundits dismiss it as yet another piece of Hollywood style left wing propaganda? Does it actually have any obvious political affiliations?
Monday, January 14, 2013
Django Unchained seems to be stacking up box office receipts and award nominations in about equal measure. Far outpacing both, however, is the film’s penchant for controversy. This time, the merchandising, rather than the film itself, is the problem. As has long been the standard for films of all kinds, Django Unchained has inspired a line of collectible action figures, courtesy of The National Entertainment Collectibles Association, or NECA. Each figure bears the name and likeness of its corresponding character.
Paco, a Mexican peasant, is nearly executed for rebelling against his wealthy boss. Meanwhile, Polish Mercenary Sergei Kowalski is hired to ensure that a small fortune in silver travels safely across the border. Curly (Jack Palance), learns of Sergei’s mission, and plans on intercepting the silver before it reaches its destination. However, things take an unexpected turn when Paco and Sergei cross paths. Sergei agrees to school the Bandito in the ways of the revolutionary, albeit for an exorbitant fee. This little arrangement soon proves far more expensive than Paco could have ever dreamed.
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Two years after the September 11th attacks, a young CIA officer named Maya is reassigned to the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan. Prior to her reassignment, she spent her time collecting intelligence on the terrorist organization and it's leader, Osama Bin Laden. While in Pakistan, she accompanies fellow officer Dan to a “black site,” where she is exposed to the torturous interrogation tactics imposed on detainees. Though initially squeamish, her resolve sees her through. 8 years later, after a great many setbacks and close calls, her tireless efforts finally pay off. The target may have been located. However, the powers that be will not move forward on the information until they are absolutely sure.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
This week, Scottscope looks ahead to some of the year's most anticipated movies. We’ll be discussing many of the big releases, as well as some of the smaller ones. The massive success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy notwithstanding, will Man of Steel finally break DC’s losing streak at the box office? Will Pacific Rim outclass the Transformers films? Will Thor: The Dark World be any better than the first film? Will Iron Man 3 get that franchise back on track? Is there any chance of The Last Stand actually being good? Has the 80’s action hero resurgence finally run its course?
Monday, January 7, 2013
On November 19th, 1986, a raiding party consisting of 27 New York City police officers and detectives converged on an apartment building in the Morrisania section of the Bronx. Their target was Larry Davis, a supposedly violent criminal laying low in his sister’s apartment. Davis was wanted for questioning in regards to the murders of four suspected drug dealers. Shortly after the nine-man raiding party entered the domicile, a violent gun battle ensued. Davis, armed with a 16-gauge sawed-off shotgun and a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol, wounded six officers before making his escape. He then evaded capture for 17 days, ultimately surrendering to authorities after holding a family hostage. Davis maintained that the NYPD was out to get him because of his intimate knowledge of their corrupt practices, and that the raid was actually an assassination attempt. Miraculously, he was acquitted of all charges except for weapons possession. However, he was ultimately charged and convicted of yet another murder. On February 20th, 2008, while serving out a sentence of 25 years to life at Shawangunk prison, Davis was stabbed to death by another inmate.
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Django (Franco Nero) is mysterious drifter who drags a small coffin behind him wherever he goes. During his travels, he rescues a young beauty named Maria (Loredana Nusciak) from a decidedly cruel fate. By doing so, he draws the ire of the sadistic Major Jackson (Eduardo Fajardo). He then adds insult to injury by striking a lucrative deal with General Hugo Rodriguez, a major enemy of Jackson’s. Having wandered into the middle of a warzone, this violent nomad has chosen a side. However, he will soon find that true allies are few and far between in the Old West.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
The Great Blizzard of 1899 proves especially cold for the townspeople of Snow Hill, Utah. The tiny hamlet is surrounded by murderous outlaws who’ve taken refuge in the mountains, or so the local authorities would have the citizenry believe. These so-called outlaws are merely poor people who’ve been forced to fend for themselves. To make matters worse, a price has been placed on each of their heads. The bounty hunters looking to collect are a rather dishonorable bunch, led by a bloodthirsty rogue known only as Loco (Klaus Kinski). In this snowy wasteland, a gunslinger known as Silence (Jean-Louis Trintignant) proves to be the only salvation for those seeking true justice.
After 50 years and 700 issues, the man behind Spider-Man‘s mask is now no more. Last week, on the day after Christmas, Marvel Comics brought Peter Parker’s story to a tragic end. The 700th issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, which carries a price tag of $7.99, concludes the “Dying Wish” story arc. It also acts as a series finale.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
On December 21st, 2012, Spike Lee threw down the proverbial gauntlet at Quentin Tarantino’s feet for the second time in 15 years. He’s taken issue with Quentin’s Spaghetti western homage Django Unchained. It follows the exploits of an ex-slave who becomes a bounty hunter in order to rescue his lady love from the bonds of captivity. In order to do so, he must square off against an evil plantation owner.