WHAT’S THEIR BEST FILM?: JOHN CARPENTER

The votes for last weeks poll have been tallied and you, readers and voters, chose Inglourious Basterds as Quentin Tarantino’s best film.

This week’s entrant has a more extensive filmography so move this along, shall we? Don’t forget to vote in the poll after the posters.

What’s Their Best Film?: John Carpenter

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WHAT’S THEIR BEST FILM?: QUENTIN TARANTINO

Happy New Year! I began a new feature with ALT-POSTR-SPOTLIGHT which I hope everyone is enjoying. Also, I am bringing back an old feature, “What’s Their Best Film?”, albeit in a slightly different format. Without further adieu I present to you the new edition of “What’s Their Best Film”. Don’t forget to vote in the poll at the end of the post.

Quentin Tarantino

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Happy Voting!

 

TO CHANGE OR NOT TO CHANGE: A POLL

Short and sweet: I’ve been thinking about changing the look of my blog. It’s been the same for about 2 years now and I’m getting itchy about changing it. That is where you come in. Should I change the theme entirely? Should I keep the same theme and make a few cosmetic changes? Should I leave it just the way it is?

I’ll run this for one week. Give me your input, please. Peace out…I mean-take care…and stay scared.

BIG BAD WOLVES

BIG BAD WOLVES-Israel-110 Mins. 2013

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Lior Ashkenazi as Micki (R) and Menashe Noy as Ramir in Big Bad Wolves

Lior Ashkenazi as Micki (R) and Menashe Noy as Ramir in Big Bad Wolves

Rotem Keinan as Dror in Big Bad Wolves

Rotem Keinan as Dror in Big Bad Wolves

Tzahi Grad as Gidi in Big Bad Wolves

Tzahi Grad as Gidi in Big Bad Wolves

Directed and Written by  Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado

Have you ever watched a film that has so simple and cliché’ a plot that you think that it would be child’s play to describe it to a friend; yet when the time comes you find yourself at a complete loss for words? That’s the dilemma I have with the Israeli produced revenge-torture thriller Big Bad Wolves. If it were an American film it would star Jason Statham as the hero, feature a cardboard villain that any B-movie actor could portray and it would have lots of explosions. Instead, we have a film that uses those same clichés to keep us in doubt right up to and perhaps after, the final frame of the film. Big Bad Wolves is a grim, slow burn of a film infused with just enough jet-black comedy to take our minds off of its dismal subject matter if only for a few seconds.

Seeking answers, the father of a murdered child and the ex-cop seeking vigilante justice kidnap a religious studies teacher who they suspect of being the killer. They only want to know one thing; where are the heads of the little girls that he raped, tortured and murdered? They torture him and he maintains his innocence. That’s when the seed of doubt begins to play into our minds. Is this man guilty of these crimes; or are we gleefully watching the torture of an innocent man? Writer-Directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado masterfully manipulate us through every frame of the film to give us a movie that is both surprising in its use of tired themes and yet brilliant in the way it turns those themes completely on their ear.

None other than Quentin Tarantino himself proclaimed Big Bad Wolves to be the ‘best film of the year’ for 2013. The late Roger Ebert said that Tarantino’s proclamation was a ridiculous one. I believe them to both be correct. Granted, Tarantino does have a tendency to be hyperbolic in his assessments of motion pictures but this time he’s right. Big Bad Wolves may not have been the best film of 2013; it was definitely, however, one of the best.

NO TRIVIA

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Lior Ashkenazi also appears in Walk on Water and Late Marriage.

Rotem Keinan also appears in The Exchange and Epilogue.

Tzahi Grad also appears in Eyes Wide Open and Off-White Lies.

RESERVOIR DOGS

RESERVOIR DOGSUnited States-1992

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Quentin Tarantino as Mr. Brown

Quentin Tarantino as Mr. Brown

Harvey Keitel as Mr. White

Harvey Keitel as Mr. White

Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde

Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde

Eddie Bunker as Mr. Blue

Eddie Bunker as Mr. Blue

Tim Roth as Mr. Orange

Tim Roth as Mr. Orange

Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink

Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink

Chris Penn as Nice Guy Eddie

Chris Penn as Nice Guy Eddie

Lawrence Tierney as Joe Cabot

Lawrence Tierney as Joe Cabot

Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino

I seem to recall a while back that I said that I wasn’t going to review any more non-horror motion pictures on this blog. Yet, here I am with cast photos, a poster and a trailer from Quentin Tarantino’s debut film, Reservoir Dogs. How do I explain myself? How about with “Honey, I had no idea she was your sister?*” or “Yes, this is exactly what it looks like.”

Why am I reviewing Reservoir Dogs? To be honest I didn’t like the film all that much when it was first released in 1992. But like Mickey says in Natural Born Killers when asked if he liked Key Lime Pie; “No, but I was a completely different person back then.” It took the knock-out punch of Pulp Fiction before I was able to appreciate that Tarantino already had us on the ropes with Reservoir Dogs.

The plot is as simplistic as you’re going to get with a heist film; six strangers, their Christian names unbeknownst to one another, pull off a diamond heist that goes south. Two are killed, one is shot and the rest of them smell a rat. We never see the heist and that’s the beauty of the whole thing. Tarantino is more interested in showing us the ‘before’ and the ‘after’ rather than the ‘during’. The beginning of the film opens in a restaurant with our six bandits; along with Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn, True Romance, and Rush Hour) and boss Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney, Pulp Fiction, Dillinger) in a moment of male bonding before ‘going to work’. There’s joking, bullshitting, male chauvinism and enough testosterone going around the table to make a stud bull jealous. It’s everything and nothing we’ve ever seen before. It makes you kind of sad that it’s all going to go to hell and fast.

Reservoir Dogs is a film that we appreciate for the smaller parts and come to love when we put them all together. Mr. Brown’s pornographic explanation of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” (It’s all about a girl who digs a guy with a big dick. The whole song is a metaphor for big dicks.”); Mr. Pink’s near-convincing reasons for not tipping (“I don’t tip because society says I have to.”) The doling out of the color-coded names (“Why am I Mr. Pink?”); the ‘ear’ scene in which Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen ( Kill Bill Vols. 1 and 2, Sin City) gets creative with a straight razor upon the pallet which is Marvin the cops’ (Kirk Baltz) hapless face. (…”I’m gonna torture you anyway…all you can do is pray for a quick death, which you ain’t gonna get.”) I believe this scene may be tribute to both the shower scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho in that we think we see blood when we really don’t; and to Scorcese’s Taxi Driver in that like the scene where Travis Bickle is pleading with Betsy on the phone the camera pans away as it too painful to watch; the camera pans as Mr. Blonde begins to cut and all we have are Marvin’s muffled screams and our own imaginations.

So, that’s why I’m reviewing Reservoir Dogs; to show appreciation for a film that I should have appreciated from the beginning. That sounds weak; but it’s all I’ve got.

*My lame at attempt at being witty. Do not take it literally.

TRIVIA

Quentin Tarantino wanted James Woods to play a role in the film, and made him five different cash offers. Woods’ agent refused the offers without ever mentioning it to Woods as the sums offered were well below what Woods would usually receive. When Tarantino and Woods later met for the first time, Woods learned of the offer and was annoyed enough to get a new agent. Tarantino avoided telling Woods which role he was offered “because the actor who played the role was magnificent anyway”. It is widely accepted that the role that Tarantino was referring to was Mr. Orange.

David Duchovny auditioned for a part.

According to an interview on the DVD, Michael Madsen says that Kirk Baltz asked to ride in his trunk to experience what it was really like. Madsen agreed, but decided as he went along that this was time for his own character development. So he drove down a long alley with potholes, and then a Taco Bell drive-through before taking Baltz back to the parking lot and letting him out. The soda he ordered at said drive-through is the same one he can be seen drinking during his character’s first appearance in the warehouse.

Mr. Pink’s numerous references to being “professional” are a reference to movie director Howard Hawks, a favorite of Quentin Tarantino’s.

Edward Bunker, a former career criminal, was the youngest felon to be sent to San Quentin. (He was 17.) He was a novelist and also played cons in other films – Runaway Train, The Longest Yard and Straight Time (which was based on his novel) and worked as a technical advisor on others – Heat, for instance. Jon Voight’s character in ‘Heat’ was based on Bunker.

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THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 (FULL SEQUENCE)

THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 (FULL SEQUENCE)United States-2011

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Ashlynn Yennie as Miss Yennie-Centipede #1

Ashlynn Yennie as Miss Yennie-Centipede #1

Laurence Harvey as Martin

Laurence Harvey as Martin

Written and directed by Tom Six

The Plot (Taken from IMDb.com): Inspired by the fictional Dr. Heiter, disturbed loner Martin dreams of creating a 12-person centipede and sets out to realize his sick fantasy.

The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) is a vile, depraved and disgusting film that deserves no recognition and no place in cinema. Writer/director Tom Six can kiss my ass. On second thought, no he cannot kiss my ass; I don’t want to give him any ideas for future movies. I refuse to waste any more words on this garbage.

TRIVIA

On June 6, 2011, the BBFC (UK certification board) refused to grant this film a certificate, effectively banning the movie from being shown in cinemas or DVD in the UK. However, on October 6, 2011, the BBFC granted the film an 18 certificate after 32 cuts totaling 2 minutes and 37 seconds were made.

When Laurence R. Harvey auditioned, Tom Six asked him to “rape” a chair, which he did.

Miss Yennie tells Martin she can’t believe she’s auditioning for a Quentin Tarantino movie. Tarantino shot portions of Kill Bill: Vol. 1 in black and white to appease gore-sensitive censors; it’s rumored that Tom Six filmed The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) in black and white for the same reason.

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AFTER 10 EDITIONS OF “WHAT’S THEIR BEST FILM?”, WRITTEN IN BLOOD WEIGHS IN

Wow, I’ve done ten editions of “What’s Their Best Film?” already. In that time I have received great response from some of my regular and my non-regular commentators. I’m sure that a lot of you have voiced your opinion of not what you thought a particular filmmaker’s best movie was; but listed your favorite film from said director instead. Hey, that’s cool; because in order to accurately give an opinion of a director’s best movie you would have had to have seen every film in their catalog. I love movies, but I will not and cannot watch movies 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are more important things such as work, supporting a family and figuring out ways to get Honey Boo Boo off the air. Damn what an annoying kid and her equally annoying mother!

So why am I babbling on and on? I shall tell you. In the last ten editions of “WTBF?” it has been you, dear reader, who has voiced your humble opinion. Now it’s my turn to give you my opinion. I will list each director below and I will tell what I think is their best movie or my favorite movie; whatever you want to call it.

Let’s begin:

MARTIN SCORSESE

Is it any surprise that I’m going with Goodfellas for this one? In my opinion it’s the greatest gangster flick ever made.

Runner-up: Taxi Driver

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MICHAEL BAY

Most of what Bay puts out is complete shit; but if I had to choose a movie of his to watch I’d go with Armageddon . At least it got the Criterion Collection treatment.

Runner-up: Transformers

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Alfred Hitchcock

Psycho. It’s my favorite “Hitch” film and in my humble opinion it is also his best. The shower scene alone is worth the price of admission.

Runner-up: Rear Window

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STEVEN SPIELBERG

Schlinder’s List. Spielberg may have given us the first summer blockbuster with Jaws; but with Schindler’s List he gave us his first and finest masterpiece. Ralph Fiennes is chilling as Amon Goeth.

Runner-up: Jaws

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QUENTIN TARANTINO

Two words: Kill Bill Vols. 1 and 2, Okay, so that’s six words. That’s because these movies rock so hard they blow up two words and turn them into six!

Runner-up: Pulp Fiction

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PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON

I loved Magnolia and watch it at least three times every year. There are just so many great performances in this film from Julianne Moore to John C. Reilly. Tom Cruise was robbed of an Oscar for his role as informercial sex guru Frank ‘T.J.’ Mackey.

Runner-up: Boogie Nights

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JOHN CARPENTER

Do you honestly think I would choose anything other than The Thing?

Runner-up: Halloween

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DAVID CRONENBERG

Jeff Goldblum had the role of a lifetime in Cronenberg’s vision of the George Langelaan short story The Fly. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Runner-up: The Dead Zone

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BRIAN DE PALMA

Some might say Carrie, some might say Scarface; I’m going with Blow Out as De Palma’s best. Travolta’s performance is one of the key reasons Tarantino wanted him for Pulp Fiction.

Runner-up: Carrie or Scarface (tie)

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ROBERT ALTMAN

I loved Short Cuts the first time I saw it and every time after that. Fantastic ensemble acting.

Runner-up: M*A*S*H

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ROBERT RODRIGUEZ

Not only is Sin City Rodriguez’ best film; but it is also the single most faithful adaptation of a graphic novel from page to screen that I have ever seen in my entire life. It’s also the movie that once again made a contender out of Mickey Rourke.

Runner-up: From Dusk ’til Dawn

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CLINT EASTWOOD

Unforgiven is one of the greatest westerns ever made. It was directed by Clint Eastwood; who in turn learned a few tricks from one of the greatest filmmakers, Sergio Leone.

Runner-up: Million Dollar Baby or Mystic River (tie)

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SAM RAIMI

This is cheating, but I’m going with the entire Evil Dead trilogy for this one. Who needs Spider-man when you’ve got Ash? Bruce Campbell rocks!!

Runner-up: Spider-man 2

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DARIO ARGENTO

To be honest, I’ve only seen three Argento films: Suspiria, Mother of Tears and Opera. Of the three of those I suppose my choice for his best would be Suspiria. What a creepy and atmospheric film.

Runner-up: Opera

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DARREN ARONOFSKY

I have to go with The Wrestler on this one. I’ve been a fan of the squared circle for quite a long time and it’s the first film to take the subject matter seriously. Mickey Rourke was amazing as Randy “The Ram” Robinson.

Runner-up: Black Swan

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WES CRAVEN

I could be a complete asshole and go totally against the popular choice of A Nightmare on Elm Street as Craven’s best; but that would just be stupid. He gave us Freddy Fucking Krueger with this one, for crying out loud!

Runner-up: The Last House on the Left or Scream (tie)

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TOBE HOOPER

Just as Craven brought usFreddy Krueger with his greatest film A Nightmare on Elm Street; so did Tobe Hooper bring us The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Leatherface 10 years prior. Watch this movie and you’ll think twice about picking up hitchhikers and eating Texas Bar-B-Que.

Runner-up: Poltergeist

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ALEXANDRE AJA

It may seem like a strange choice, but I pick his remake of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes over High Tension (aka Haute Tension aka Switchblade Romance) as Aja’s best film. It’s close though; both movies are fucking brutal.

Runner-up: High Tension 

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ROB ZOMBIE

Some people seem to love Rob Zombie’s films and other people seem to hate his films and his fucking guts. There’s no middle ground. What’s his best film? That’s easy: The Devil’s Rejects.

Runner-up: Halloween

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JOE DANTE

What have I said before? The Howling is the greatest werewolf movie ever made; so the choice here is a no-brainer.

Runner-up: Gremlins

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STUART GORDON

Re-animator, of course. Those of you who disagree can get a job in a sideshow. This film brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘giving head.’

Runner-up: From Beyond

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GUILLERMO DEL TORO

I haven’t seen everything by Del Toro, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Devil’s Backbone. It was an amazing little ghost story.

Runner-up: Hellboy

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GEORGE ROMERO

There is no question that Night of the Living Dead is Romero’s greatest film; the trouble is that Dawn of the Dead is every bit as awesome. Folks, we have a tie! Zombies everywhere have Uncle George to thank for their popularity.

Runner-up: Day of the Dead

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BRAD ANDERSON

I loved Session 9 and The Machinist on equal terms; but if I had to choose I’d have to go with the latter based simply on the strength of the performance from Christian Bale. The Machinist is a brilliant film about guilt and how it can affect us so deeply.

Runner-up: Session 9

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WILLIAM FRIEDKIN

William Friedkin

The Exorcist. Nothing else need be said.

Runner-up: The French Connection

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LUCKY MCKEE

Lucky McKee

I choose May as McKee’s best for one simple reason: the deliciously disturbing performance from Angela Bettis. She deserved an Oscar for that movie.

Runner-up: The Woman

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EDUARDO SÁNCHEZ

Eduardo Sanchez

It’s going to take Sanchez a long time before he gets out from under the shadow of The Blair Witch Project. He’s been making heavy strides with films like Altered and Lovely Molly. Still, it is the witch who holds sway over all.

Runner-up: Altered

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MARIO BAVA

I’ve only seen one Bava film and that is Black Sunday. I do want to see more.

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LUCIO FULCI

The same goes for Lucio Fulci and Zombie. I know, I know I need to watch more Fulci and Bava.

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SERGIO LEONE

The man who gave us The Man with No Name. It’s hard to pick one great Leone film. A Fistful of Dollars? The Good, the Bad and the Ugly? Once Upon a Time in the West? Once Upon a Time in America? Nope, I just can’t do it.

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There you go; my choices. Some are your choices as well and some are not. Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one and they make the world go ’round.