All posts tagged: Pulp Fiction

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PopSmarts: Yellow Perils

We’re well into Movember now, the month-long event wherein thousands of men worldwide grow mustaches to raise awareness of men’s health issues. Count your humble Old Professor among that number. I usually keep a trim beard, but every November 1st I scrape my big dopey mug down to a shiny pink, and with the canvas thus made blank, I start workin’ on a sweet Fu Manchu. I first encountered this ornamentation — the King of All ‘Staches, and as far as I know still the only one to be named for a fictional character — on the face of the eponymous Devil Doctor himself, in the pages of a Marvel comic called Master of Kung Fu. Not a title to inspire confidence, I know; it seems to promise the newsprint equivalent of the shoddy chopsockey programmers that lit up many a ‘70s grindhouse. But among the cognoscenti, MoKF — which made its debut in 1973, forty years ago this month — is legendary. At its peak, the book delivered high adventure with unabashedly arty leanings, …

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10 Movies…That Were Comeback Vehicles (To Prepare You for ‘Iron Man 3’ with Robert Downey, Jr.)

Downey headlines this week’s Iron Man 3, his fourth outing as the billionaire Robocop. He’s one of the biggest stars in the world and one of our most universally liked celebrities — which is what he seemed like he was destined to become circa Chaplin in 1992, but not so much after nearly killing himself with heroin and wandering into strangers’ homes in 1996, or — even worse — that stint on Ally McBeal. Downey started his remarkable comeback with 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang; in honor of his latest appearance as Ol’ Shellhead, here some other stars who came back from the brink of obscurity and irrelevance. Ulee’s Gold (1997), with Peter Fonda A Boomer icon from writing and starring in Easy Rider, Fonda descended into schlock and ugh in ‘70s B-movies…before coming back in Ulee’s Gold, a movie about bees, but also really horrible family problems. Fonda earned a Best Actor nomination at the Oscars. Little Children (2006), with Jackie Earle Haley As a teenager in the ‘70s, Haley played badass Kelly Leak in …

Revival House: Nine Badass Movie Openings

Continuing with my current obsession with a film’s opening moments, here are nine opening scenes that stand out in my mind. It can be a pre-credit sequence, the first scene after the opening titles, or maybe even a scene that occurs during the credits. But whatever it is, it’s something that immediately draws you into the film and sets the tone for what you’re about to see. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Like a James Bond prologue, our introduction to Indiana Jones is the finale of a previous adventure. A dude in a fedora leads a group of men through a South American jungle. One henchman pulls a gun, cocks it. Suddenly there is the thunderous crack of a bullwhip and the gun falls harmlessly into the water. The dude in the fedora emerges from the shadows, and thus Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones character is revealed. Indy braves more henchman betrayal, deadly spike traps, tarantulas and a giant rolling boulder — only to have the object of his quest, a golden idol, taken from …

The Bigger Picture: The Big Three, Part One

If you read this column last week, you might think from reading the headline that I’ve decided to only discuss the economic situation. In truth, I’m not referencing the “big three” U.S. automakers, but rather what I consider to be the “big three” taboos in American cinema and our love/hate relationship with them.  This week’s column is part one of a three-part series. The first involves dialogue, namely the use of profane language. Before one criticizes the modern age for its use of profanity, one must consider that such coarse language has always existed. Perhaps I am too young to judge whether or not today’s culture is more profane than that of previous generations, but I do know by studying history that vulgar expressions have always existed within art. If one disagrees, he ought to read the works of Shakespeare or Chaucer. Time seems to dull the impact of even the most shocking works of art. Often, the language seems to seep into our consciousness. Consider the “Quarter pounder with cheese” conversation from Pulp Fiction. …