Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Nov 20, 2012
No, they're not who you think they are. Here's our selections for the 10 forgotten figments of cool in Tarantino's amazing oeuvre.

Jules and Vincent. Mr. Orange and Mr. Blonde. The entirety of the Basterds. Jackie Brown and her company of male admirers. When one thinks of Quentin Tarantino and his compendium of motion picture badasses, these are the names that come to mind. These are the characters (and the actors who portrayed them) that Messageboard Nation swoons over, whom cinephiles dissect and fans foam over with memorized dialogue and exaggerated body art. Yet buried within each QT gem are a myriad of evocative individuals. Some get their major moment and then fade into the woodwork. Others operate on a level wholly separate from the onscreen scenarios, threatening to overwhelm the stars with their heft and substance and when viewed in total, they become as important as the players they are supporting.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Nov 13, 2012
Call them monsters or madam, but all Twilight-ers aside, these are the fiends we hope visit us in the wee small hours of the morning.

Well, we’ve finally reached the end of it. Our long international night terror as proposed nascent neckbiter romance is finally coming to a conclusion, and for many in fright fandom, the close of Twilight could not come quicker. Having already sullied the famed monster with its mushy love junk, Stephanie Meyer’s multimillion dollar juggernaut limps into theaters this weekend with the second installment of the already unnecessary double finale—Breaking Dawn. In this Bella Swan-song, our heroine has become a member of the Cullen Clan, both matrimonially and undead-like, and her newborn child may be a threat to all bloodsuckers around the world. Thus, the Volturi get involved and we get more eerie Goth Eurotrash types gadding about the big screen. Enough already. Yeesh.


Anyway, the impending box office bonanza got us thinking about our favorite female Vlads. While some sort of miss the boat—Geena Davis in Transylvania 6-5000—others have tried to expand on the mythos without making mincemeat of the entire creature category (like the androgynous Eli of Let the Right One In). One such example arrives on DVD and Blu-ray today (13 November) in the form of Vamps, a comedy from Amy Heckerling (Clueless) that tries to turn the whole Dracula dynamic on its Sex and the City stake. While it’s only slightly successful, it illustrates the main way movies portray girl ghouls—as supernatural cheesecake. As a result, we have decided to dig deep into the vaults of movies mainstream and obscure and come up with our own list of Ten Awesome Female Vampires. While their particular motion pictures may be mediocre, these gals really know how to deliver the sultry shivers, beginning with:


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Nov 6, 2012
With a pair of recent biopics hoping to uncover the "real Hitch", here's our picks for the undisputed Master of Suspense's 10 best.

He began his career making silent films in Britain. It was there where he met, and eventually married, the woman who would become his greatest supporter, creative partner, and critic. Hollywood eventually came calling, but even with success both commercially and critically, few in Tinseltown knew what to do with him. Today, he’s considered one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Yet he doesn’t even have an Oscar for his main cinematic contribution—directing (he did ‘win’ the 1968 Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, if that’s any consolation). Instead, all Alfred Hitchcock owns is a legacy so far superior to any of those within his peer group that to consider him anything less than the undisputed maestro of the thriller is incompetence. Among the old school set, he’s the king.


In a few weeks, director Sacha Gervasi (responsible for the terrific documentary Anvil: The Story of Anvil) will release his take on Psycho period Hitchcock, complete with Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins as the portly Master of Suspense and Academy Queen Helen Mirren as his faithful (?) wife Elma. As with the recent HBO effort The Girl (which centered on the filmmaker’s rumored unhealthy fixation with Tippi Hedren during The Birds), these behind the scenes biopics offer little about the moviemaking process and, instead, focus more on the personal politics involved in Hitchcock’s artistic auteurship. For us, no amount of TMZ tabloiding can destroy what is a truly remarkable filmmaker. Over the course of four decades, her delivered a myriad of memorable titles. For us, these ten are his very, very best.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Oct 30, 2012
Halloween is fast approaching. Here are our Top 10 Picks for fright films guaranteed to disturb your sleep and shiver your spine.

In an arena as thoroughly subjective as the scary movie, how does one even begin to come up with a list of the artform’s very best? In the hierarchy of horror, things change so rapidly (and frequently) that, at any given moment, one category of creepy such as the Devil films of the ‘70s will give way to an entirely new fear fad like the slasher films of the ‘80s. This means that, as the genre shifts, trends taper off and subcategories flourish, one man’s terror quickly becomes one filmmaker’s trash. It’s the same with opinions on what is and is not petrifying. Dread is indeed a personal propensity, difficult to discuss in terms of absolutes and universals. Yet whenever fans get together and share their experiences with the cinema they love the most, conversations typically turn toward the defining films that began their affair with fear in the first place. Though they may not always agree, it is clear that there are certain films that stand out amongst the throng, that argue for their place as not only good grue, but expert cinema as well.


Again, there are certain caveats to this non-definitive Decalogue that should keep the obsessed and the angry in check, hopefully avoiding most call-outs and complaints to a minimum. Several sensational films from the myriad that many would consider crucial just missed the cut. They include current offerings like Shaun of the Dead and Hostel, as well as deserving efforts from decades past like The Howling, Hellraiser, Prince of Darkness, and Peter Jackson’s Brain Dead. In addition, classics from the Golden Age—films featuring the likes of Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolfman—were also discounted, given their already important place in the overall history of horror. Some will still argue that favorite films are missing or seated too far down the roll. They will dismiss any compendium that does not contain their own idea of fear. While no one claims its 100% authoritative, one thing is for sure, all 10 titles here will shiver you down to the very marrow in your bones, beginning with a truly movie bit of macabre…


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Oct 23, 2012
Steve Allen called him an unsung comic genius. He was right. Here is our tribute to the late, incredibly great Stooge with a finger in his eye and a "n'yuk, n'yuk" in his heart.

On 22 October 1903, a true comedy legend was born. While few would recognize him by his given name—Jerome Lester—millions recognized the sheer creative genius that was Curly Howard. Yes, Curly Howard, the third (and perhaps best loved) Stooge. The brother to Moe, and Shemp, and as part of the original Columbia short subject brigade, a man who brought mirth to multiple generations of comedy fans. But he didn’t start out as part of the act. While his brothers hooked up with partner Larry Fine and “leader” Ted Healy for several tours of vaudeville, “Babe” (as he was known to friends) pursued a career as a humorous conductor. When Shemp tired of Healy’s abuse and drinking, he left to take other offers. Moe suggested Curly step in, on one condition. He had to shave his full head of flowing red hair. Since he considered himself quite the ladies man (and he was), Curly was crushed.


Still, upon his debut with the trio, he quickly became its most iconic member. With a collection of classic mannerisms, malapropisms, and mugging, he soon symbolized the Stooges’ sensibility. Moe may have been the Mean One, and Larry and Laid Back One, but Curly was the Cut-up. He was the punchline to every joke, the rimshot to every pie in the face. Up until his untimely death from poor health at age 48, he was the center of attention, though he was far from happy. Still, the legacy he left behind has become a beacon to a long forgotten time of face slaps, eye gouges, and head clunks. In this regard, we present the Top 10 Three Stooge Shorts—Curly Edition—of All Time. Of course, there’s a caveat. This is a very personal list. After all, comedy is a very personal thing. Also, we’re concentrating on Curly, not the Stooges or shorts overall. And finally, the fact remains that you could easily do a Top 20… or 30… or 50 Curly overview (he co-starred in 98 of the timeless two reelers, after all) and still leave out something legitimate.


Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.