This fall is shaping into a good month for Quentin tarantino fans. On November 20th we have the arrival of the Tarantino XX: 8 Film Collection on blu-ray which celebrates the director’s two deacde career so far. Folloning that on Christmas we have the release of his latest film, the spaghetti-western/revenge film mashup Django Unchained. But if that’s not enough Tarantino for you, you will now be able to see two of his most seminal films in theaters for one night only each.
Miramax and Fathom are teaming up to present Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction in theaters on December 4th and 6th respectively. Now these will be presented digitally, probably with Fathom’s usual 1080i compressed picture, so the quality won’t be as good as the standard digital prints that most theaters project. Still, in addition to the films there will also be ”a special feature showcasing Tarantino’s 20-year career and a selection of hand-picked movie trailers from films that inspired him as a filmmaker.” I would guess that at least one or two of those trailers will be for movies that directly inspired Django Unchained.
You can find information on which theaters will be histing the screenings and ticket information at Fathom Events or Miramax’s website for the Tarantino XX blur-ray release.
There’s a new trailer out for Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and if it doesn’t have you anticipating this Christmas release, you might want to check your pulse. You may be dead.
The new two-and-a-half minute clip gives us a bit more overview of the story of freed slave Django (Jamie Foxx) teaming up with a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to free his wife (Kerry Washington) from the evil clutches of plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). We also get our first look at Jonah Hill in the film.
Appropriately, this gift of a new film opens on Christmas Day.
In a multi-part series, Comic Book Film Editor William Gatevackes will be tracing the history of comic book movies from the earliest days of the film serials to today’s big blockbusters and beyond. Along with the history lesson, Bill will be covering some of the most prominent comic book films over the years and why they were so special. This time, we bring our four week “vacation” overseas to an end with the most notable comic film franchises Japan has to offer.
Before we start this final installment, a caveat—we won’t be covering every film franchise based on manga here. Due to the overwhelming popularity of the genre, and the prevalence of adapting manga into anime, there are a lot of series to cover if I wanted to cover them all. And since I want to end this History of the Comic Book film series before I die, choices needed to be made. I have decided to focus on live-action franchises that have had some effect on the West. This means no One Piece, no Yu-Gi-Oh!, no Naruto, no BLEACH, not even Dragon Ball and that one had a live action version to go along with its animated ones.
Our first entry is the Lone Wolf and Cub series. Created by writer Kazuo Koike and artist Goseki Kojimain 1970, the influential manga focuses on a disgraced 17th Century Japanese warrior by the name of Ogami Ittō who travels the land with his infant son, Ogami Daigorō, seeking to avenge his murdered wife and his lost honor. The 28-volume manga influenced American creators such as Frank Miller and Max Alan Collins, whose Road to Perdition was greatly influenced by the work (we’ll be talking about the Road to Perdition film in the future).
WARNING: The trailers will be in Japanese and not English. I thought seeing them will give you an idea of the look and the feel of the film but don’t expect to understand the dialogue (unless you speak Japanese). You are forewarned! No complaints!
The manga inspired seven live-action films: Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (1972), Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972), Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades (1972), Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril (1972), Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973), Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell (1974), and Shogun Assassin (1980), although that last one was a recut version of the first two films. Tomisaburo Wakayama starred as Ogami Ittō in all the films.
If you have seen Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill series, you will get to understand his appreciation for Japanese films and culture. If you have read the Lady Snowblood manga or saw any of the films that it inspired, you will see how far Tarantino’s affection goes, as Kill Bill borrows numerous themes, characters, and even music from that particular work.
LadySnowblood first appeared in the pages of Weekly Playboy magazine in 1972, written by Kazuo Koike and illustrated by Kazuo Kamimura. The manga told the story of Lady Snowblood, a woman born for only one thing—vengeance. Oyuki was born in prison to a woman convicted of killing her rapist. The rapist was part of a larger gang of thieves that killed her father and brother. The rest of the gang escaped justice, so Oyuki’s mother seduced a male prison guard to impregnate her, hoping to give birth to a boy who would eventually avenge the death of her family. The mother died giving birth to a girl, Oyuki, and ensured that she would be trained to exact the vengeance she could never have. Once Oyuki came of age, she began working her way through the list of gang members her mother left for her, taking assassination jobs on the side until she was able to complete her mission.
The manga was adapted in 1973 as the film, Lady Snowblood. The film followed the plot of the manga with a few major changes. The vengeance exacted by Lady Snowblood was more vicious, the side assassination jobs lost, and her final fate far more grim that the comic. The film was followed by a sequel in which Lady Snowblood becomes an assassin hired by the government to steal a document from an “enemy of the state.” The film was also reimagined in 2001 as The Princess Blade, which relocated the story to a post-apocalyptic future.
Another manga featuring a young female assassin that was adapted for the big screen was Azumi. Like Lady Snowblood, Azumi was trained from a young age to be a warrior. Unlike, Lady Snowblood, vengeance wasn’t the motivation, but political assassination is. She is called upon to kill warlords and other warriors that threaten to upset the balance of power in Feudal Japan.
The manga was adapted to the screen in 2003 with Azumi, which received a limited U.S. release in 2006.The film was a loose adaptation, but still retained many of the darker elements of the manga (including the final part of her training where she had to kill her best friend in class in combat to “pass”). It was followed by Azumi 2 in 2005.
The final franchise we are going to talk about this week is Death Note. The manga, which was created by writer Tsugumi Ohba and artist Takeshi Obata, and ran in Shonen Jump from 2003 to 2006, focuses on a young man who comes across a supernatural notebook that can kill people if their names were written in it while the owner was thinking about what the victim looked like.
The manga inspired three films, Death Note (May 2006), its sequel Death Note: The Last Name (November 2006) and a spin-off L: Change the World (2008). Shane Black has been tapped as the director of an American version of the story.
Next time, we cover that American success story—the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
It is pretty obvious that Quentin Tarantino is somewhat of a comic book fan. There have been references to comic books in many of his films–a Silver Surfer poster on a wall in Reservoir Dogs, the lead in his script for True Romance working in a comic book store, the secret identity riff in Kill Bill: Vol 2. But Tarantino has been reticent to follow fellow comic book fan filmmakers such as Kevin Smith and Joss Whedon to write comics.
That is, until now. Maybe.
Quentin Tarantino, in typical Tarantino fashion, left the panel promoting his latest film, Django Unchained and made a beeline to the DC Comics panel promoting their Before Watchmen line, bursting in to announce that a five-issue Django Unchained miniseries featuring writing by Tarantino will appear from DC’s Vertigo imprint before the film hits theaters.
What form this writing will take is still up to debate. Steve Morris over at The Beat says that Tarantino will be writing the miniseries himself (but he also states that the film stars Jamie Fox and Christophe Waltz, not Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz, so, there you go) while Bleeding Cool‘s Brendon Connelly states it will only be Tarantino’s script for the film that will be adapted. If this is true, it might follow a format like how Dynamite Entertainment handled Kevin Smith’s unproduced scripts for his Green Hornet and Bionic Man films–they had other writers convert the scripts into comic book form.
Given that we’ve taken the time to chart out a meticulously chart out a timeline for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it should be obvious that we here at FilmBuffOnline love a good, multi-film cinematic universe. But while most films that could be described as exisiting in the same world are franchise features like Star Trek or the Bourne films, director Quentin Tarantino is one of the very few where the connections exist but aren’t necessarily part of the overall ongoing story.*
From fairly early on in his careeer, Tarantino has made it obvious that his films all inhabit the same universe. Reservoir Dogs‘ Vic Vega (Michael Madsen) is brother to Pulp Fiction‘s Vincent Vega (John Travolta), while the “Alabama” that Reservior Dogs‘ Mr White mentions as having worked with is the same character played by Patricia Arquette in the Tarantino-scripted True Romance. And the movies that they all watch include Kill Bill, From Dusk `Till Dawn and Jackie Brown.
More recently, Tarantino stated that Eli Roth’s Donny “the Bear Jew” Donowitz from Inglorious Basterds is the father of movie producer Lee Donowitz (Saul Rubinek) in True Romance.
And this brings up an interesting notion. While the the modern day set films all seem to exist in a world nearly identical to our own, they actually exist in a reality where World War Two ended in a dramatically different fashion. So how would this have affected society? One writer at Cracked first theorized the fall out that such a change to history would have had and more recently a commentator on Reddit expanded on the idea.
It’s well known that all of Tarantino’s films take place in the same universe – this is established by the fact that Mr. Blonde and Vince Vega are brothers, everybody smokes Red Apple cigarettes, Mr. White worked with Alabama from True Romance, etc.
As it turns out, Donny Donowitz, ‘The Bear Jew’, is the father of movie producer Lee Donowitz from True Romance – which means that, in Tarantino’s universe, everybody grew up learning about how a bunch of commando Jews machine gunned Hitler to death in a burning movie theater, as opposed to quietly killing himself in a bunker.
Because World War 2 ended in a movie theater, everybody lends greater significance to pop culture, hence why seemingly everybody has Abed-level knowledge of movies and TV. Likewise, because America won World War 2 in one concentrated act of hyperviolent slaughter, Americans as a whole are more desensitized to that sort of thing. Hence why Butch is unfazed by killing two people, Mr. White and Mr. Pink take a pragmatic approach to killing in their line of work, Esmerelda the cab driver is obsessed with death, etc.
You can extrapolate this further when you realize that Tarantino’s movies are technically two universes – he’s gone on record as saying that Kill Bill and From Dusk ‘Til Dawn take place in a ‘movie movie universe’; that is, they’re movies that characters from the Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, and Death Proof universe would go to see in theaters. (Kill Bill, after all, is basically Fox Force Five, right on down to Mia Wallace playing the title role.)
What immediately springs to mind about Kill Bill and From Dusk ‘Til Dawn? That they’re crazy violent, even by Tarantino standards. These are the movies produced in a world where America’s crowning victory was locking a bunch of people in a movie theater and blowing it to bits – and keep in mind, Lee Donowitz, son of one of the people on the suicide mission to kill Hitler, is a very successful movie producer.
Basically, it turns every Tarantino movie into alternate reality sci fi. I love it so hard.
EDIT: Oh hai upvotes. Glad everybody liked this as much as I did! Let me address some things:
1) I don’t think the same actors necessarily correlate to the same characters – the bit about Mia Wallace in Kill Bill seemed like just an interesting detail or maybe an exception rather than the rule. Mr. White and The Wolf are two different people. That said, I remember Tarantino mentioning that Sheriff McGraw and The Wolf are the only characters that can jump between the regular movie and the movie movie universe. Proof.
2) I’m not implying that nuking scores of innocent people is less violent than anything else – I just think it would have a different effect on the American psyche. Growing up knowing our home country vaporized two whole cities has influenced our culture in its own ways; I feel like the movie theater plot would do the same. Also, since this is primarily a fan theory, I don’t think the psychology of it needs to be 100% irrefutable and airtight.
3) Yes, I initially saw this on Cracked and then extrapolated on it. Since it was a fan theory and it blew my mind, I posted it here.
I have to say that I really love this idea. An interesting theory and well thought out to be sure. It’ll be fun to see if Tarantino’s future films will continue to sustain it.
And check out the rest of Reddit’s Fan Theories discussions if you have a couple of hours to kill. So far my two favorites are the one that states that the Fresh Prince of Bel Air actually takes place in the afterlife and a rather creepy one regarding the cartoon series Rugrats.
* Kevin Smith’s “View Askewinerse” would probably be the only other one.
We’re just a few short weeks away from the release of the first trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s spaghetti western homage Django Unchained in front of Prometheus, but to tide you over until then, we have six new images from the film featuring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz and Tarantino himself. (Click on each image for a larger view.)
Quentin Tarantino has found the last major piece for the casting puzzle that is his upcoming film Django Unchained. Kerry Washington has been offered the role of Brunhilda in the director’s paean to spaghetti westerns that is scheduled to start shooting in New Orleans in January.
Reportedly, Tarantino had been split between hiring Washington and casting an unknown actress in the part, which lead to the delay in getting the role filled.
Washington’s Brunhilda is the wife of former slave Django (Jamie Foxx) who is being held by the evil Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). With the help of a German dentist-turned-bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz), Django sets out to free Brunhilda from Candie’s clutches. Already in the cast are Samuel L. Jackson, Gerald McRaney, Kurt Russell, Don Johnson, Tom Savini, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
If you’ve already watched the newly released blu-ray disc for Quentin Tarantino’s modern classic Pulp Fiction, you may have noticed that the picture is slightly different than what you may have come to expect from your average high-def release.
Whereas almost all blu-ray releases are transferred from film using a laser scanning process that produces a solid stead image, Pulp Fiction appears to have used the older telecine process to achieve its transfer. With the telecine process, a film print is run through something that works similar to a regular projector in that light is shined through the celluloid and the image is projected onto either a screen or a CCD (charge-coupled device) which records the image digitally. As with regular theater film projectors, the process is susceptible to the film wiggling slightly in the gate between the light source and the projection lens. This is known as gate weave.
Some reviews of the disc have noted that there is noticeable gate weave in the film’s transfer and predictably, there are probably some folks who are upset by it. But since this release is being touted as “Director Approved,” it stands to reason that this is exactly how Tarantino wanted you to view the movie and coming from Tarantino this doesn’t necessarily surprise all that much. As Grindhouse has shown, the director not only has an affinity for exploitation genre films but also for how those films are presented. And Pulp Fiction, like all of Tarantino’s work, is just dripping with the influence of exploitation films. Preserving some gate weave in the transfer adds just an extra meta-textual layer to the film.
But don’t let this dissuade you from checking out the film on blu-ray. The picture itself is stunning with crisp colors and the sound mix is crystal clear. In addition to the extras that were ported over from the last DVD Special Edition, the disc also sports two new featurettes – one in which several critics discuss the film and another where several of the cast reminisce about making the movie.
Yesterday on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, they did a short piece on product placement in the media. And while the report focused on television shows and how, thanks to various methods that viewers now have to avoid watching commercials, advertisers are taking a bigger role in the production of certain shows to get their product and their message in front of viewers, it got me to thinking about product placement in film. Specifically, one example that sprung to mind was the furor that arose when a bottle of Coca-Cola becomes an important part of one scene between Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson in the comedy Volunteers. The film’s co-writer Ken Levine recently talked about the controversy on his blog By Ken Levine –
In interviewing former Peace Corps volunteers we learned that Coca Cola was one of the things they missed most, especially if stationed in a hot jungle… We wrote that Coke scene in the first draft, 1980. It stayed in every draft and wound up on the screen. Originally the movie was set up at MGM. After a couple of years it went into turnaround, finally landing at HBO Silver Screen in partnership with Tri-Star. This was 1984. Tri-Star was a division of Sony, as was the Coca Cola company. No one from the studio ever asked that that scene be in. No one from the studio ever mentioned that scene period.
A year later the film was released and we walked into a major shitstorm.
Ironically, Coke ran came under similar fire over blatant product placement in the 1987 flop spy comedy Leonard Part 6, which, not-so-coincidentally starred the soda company’s longtime pitchman Bill Cosby. That time, though, the placement was indeed intentional. It should come as no surprise that Leonard Part 6 was released by Columbia Picture, a wholly owned subsidiary of Coca-Cola.
Of course, there are some directors who have created a work around by establishing their own fictitious brands for their films. Famously, Quentin Tarantino has Red Apple cigarettes while Kevin Smith’s films feature Nails cigarettes and the fast-food chain Mooby’s.
But for the most part, I don’t mind when real world products appear in films. Providing it isn’t too distracting or obvious, seeing brand name products can add an air of verisimilitude to a movie. Growing up in the 1970s, I started to notice that when anyone drank a beer on a television show, it was almost invariably from a generic, brown plaid can. This ultimately became more distracting than if they were popping open a can of Budweiser or Schlitz.
Now granted, things in film have not become as bad as it appears to have in television. While there is product placement, and as Morgan Spurlock’s film The Greatest Movie Ever Sold showed us, it is becoming too integral to the financing of a film to go anywhere. But as long as studios don’t start putting the cart before the horse, or at least are upfront about it when they do, I don’t see product placement ever being a real problem.
Kevin Costner has dropped out of his supporting role in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming Django Unchained, citing a combination of work and personal reasons.
Costner would have been playing against type his normal good guy screen persona as Ace Woody, the sadistic overseer who trains slaves to fight in a gladiatorial arena run by Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Calvin Candie. Jamie Foxx stars in the film as freed slave Django, who comes to Candie’s establishment to free his wife who is being forced to be a prostitute.
The actor currently has a lot on his plate. In addition to working on Zack Snyder’s currently in-production Superman film Man Of Steel as Clark Kent’s adoptive father Jonathan Kent, Costner is also producing and appearing in the mini-series The Hatfield And The McCoys for the History Channel.
Tarantino seems to be having some trouble assembling a cast for this film and I have to wonder if many who might be interested in participating are balking at the exploitation film tone of the script. Of course, Tarantino has been mining the various exploitation film genres for his last couple of films and they have all exceeded their inspirations. I see no reason to think that Tarantino would not do so again with Django Unchained. Hopefully he’ll be able to find an actor willing to take the risk to play the part that Costner has vacated.