BOB PEAK: American Illustrator Superstar

This piece was originally published June 1&th, 2013

Bob Peak Icon TemplateThere are times here at Mystery Box H.Q. when I set out to write about a subject that I feel is so undeniably a legend, so incredibly talented beyond mere words, and such a large influential part of the fabric of popular culture, that I start to feel…to say it in two words— humbly intimidated.

Bob Peak is one of those subjects.

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THREE FREAKY FILMS FOR THIS HALLOWEEN

This piece was originally published October 15th, 2012.

Coffin Joe Post Icon TemplateIt’s that fun time of the year again.

A time when the shadows get a little darker, the wind howls a bit more mournfully, and those creeps that have been lurking and glaring at you from around corners get a bit creepier.

Halloween is a special time of the year not only for the Trick or Treat kiddies on the alert waiting for their special day, but it’s also a great time for adults who are able to enjoy the entire month with a mindset filled with desire for all things spooky and scary.

So what better a way to pass your leisure hours than to bask in the warm glow of your friendly viewing screen and watch a few movies or TV shows that go well with the season.


For myself, I am typically not so enamored of the usual slick, CGI film re-make of the moment, and nothing reeks of dull for me as much as most of the re-made horror movies that tumble out of Hollywood.

I grew up with drive-in double and triple bill schlock and exploitation films from around the world.

For me these NOT critically acclaimed works are filled with ineptitude, low budgets, Swiss cheese scripts, and often questionable acting, thankfully! They are also often the work of single minded, visionary auteurs (albeit with a tweaked vision) and were made with far fewer cooks in the kitchen making decisions by committee, something that ruins many Hollywood films.

To use a term coined by the great Michael Weldon, these Psychotronic Films are a few of my favorite things.

Here then is a fun Mystery Box triple bill Halloween film recommendation for you to enjoy this month.
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JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI : I DREAM OF JIRO

This piece was originally published May 21st, 2012.

jiro Dreams Of Sushi Post TemplateIn the last 25 years Japanese cuisine has become as easily obtainable as a trip  to your local supermarket or a quick walk down the block to a nearby Japanese restaurant.

However, with the rapid influx of this delicacy, what quality are we getting?

What standard is upheld within the industry?

And just how dedicated to sushi is the person making it to sell in the prepared food section of your nearby mega chain supermarket?

Sushi, one of the mainstay items almost always offered at a Japanese restaurant, by its simplest definitions is cooked vinegared rice (shari) and whatever the rice is combined with (neta). Added to that can be the condiments such as wasabi, soy, ginger etc. The neta can be cooked egg or other things, but is most often raw fish that has been carefully selected and sliced, then presented with the rice by a highly trained and skilled chef who knows how to prepare it so as to avoid any illness that can be had by eating the raw fish.

There are many variations of sushi, such as the common ones here in the US: the rolled sushi which is calledmakizushi, and the nigirizushi which is the classic small mound of rice shaped by a chef’s hand with the slice of fish placed atop the rice. So sushi always has the rice, while sashimi, also often served in a Japanese restaurant, would be the slices of raw fish alone, either on a dish or over a bowl of rice.

Here at Mystery Box H.Q. all of the above, sushi, sashimi, etc. (along with the many other variations and other dishes that are usually served in a Japanese restaurant like miso soup, actual ramen noodle soup, oyakodon, and tempera, just to name a small few) are among our all time favorite culinary delights.

So it was with a much anticipated long time wait we were finally able to experience the documentary Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (2011) by director David Gelb.

 

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Will Ferrell’s Casa de Mi Padre: Muy Divertido Multiplicado Por Diez!

This piece was originally published April 9th, 2012.

Casa de mi Padre Post TemplateIn his earlier Saturday Night Live days, Will Ferrell was among my more disliked cast members.

I can recall those of us watching referring to him as “that annoying guy.”

The dreaded Spartan Cheerleaders sketches he used to do with Cheri Oteri, another cast member I was never too fond of, were overly long and never that funny. For myself, the continuing antics of “Craig and Arianna” brought the show to a stand-still, despite some great guest hosts (Robert Downey Jr., Jim Carrey) appearing in the sketches.

 

Ron Burgundy 

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Funny how my thinking about Will turned around about the time his bare naked ass was running down the street in a brilliant performance in Old School (2003). With Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy (2004), Ferrell’s status as a comedy force was complete.
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GENIUS BEFORE THE ARTIST: Michel Hazanavicius And His OSS 117 FILMS

This piece was originally published January 30th, 2012.

OSS117 Post TemplateMichel Hazanavicius’ The Artist has been garnering award after award and may very well end up sweeping the upcoming Academy Awardswell it should in any case.

Easily one of the best films that I have seen recently, I can honestly add it to the list of my favorite films of all time.

 

Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Béjo in The Artist

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This story of a great fan fave silent film actor facing the oncoming changes that came with the new talkies era, is such a wonderful, skillfully crafted and entertaining homage to cinema’s past, that it will doubtlessly continue to snowball into a huge mainstream success, and deservedly so.

The genius of Hazanavicius’ filmmaking did not begin with The Artist however.

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The Films Of GEORGE AND MIKE KUCHAR: The 8mm Mozarts

This piece was originally published September 12th, 2011.

Kuchar Brothers Post TemplateThe Kuchar Brothers were (along with Kenneth Anger) among the earliest originators and innovators of what we now know think of as independent film.

John Waters started making films because of them and calls them “The Warner Brothers of the Underground.”

David Lynch, Brian De Palma, Gus Van Sant, Guy Maddin, Buck Henry, Todd Solondz, Atom Egoyan are but a tiny few of the independent and otherwise film directors that name The Kuchars as their influence and inspirations.

Taking the small 8mm film camera and turning it from something that previously would be merely used for capturing family vacations and holiday gatherings, The Kuchars instead created their own brand of ambitious, mini Douglas Sirk and Tennessee Williams melodramas that were filtered through their own warped teenaged sensibilities with a decidedly crazed black humor that would be indicative of the fledgling cinema underground that they were helping to create.

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GODZILLA KINGDOM OF MONSTERS: AN AUSPICIOUS BEGINNING!

This piece was originally published April 11th, 2011.

Godzilla Mask Post IconSince his final film, 2004’s Godzilla Final Wars, the big guy—who so many of us have come to love over the decades—has pretty much been tucked away in cold storage.

However, as someone who has been a lifelong fan and collector of Godzilla, I knew that it would only be a matter of time before he would once again rise up from his slumber in the murky depths, to frighten, ravage and entertain the masses.

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Toho, owners of the original Japanese franchise for Gojira, will every so often make a statement that they have released their last film featuring him—but that only lasts until the next one comes along. According to Toho, they would take a break from producing any Godzilla films for ten years.

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SERGE GAINSBOURG’S FANTASTIC LIFE

This piece was originally published March 15th, 2011.

Serge Gainsbourg Puppet Post IconSerge Gainsbourg is best known in the United States for his 1969 charting single, “Je t’aime…moi non plus.”

The song, which features a breathy, sexually charged duet between Serge and his then wife, the British model/actress/singer Jane Birkin, against a backing of orchestrated pop, was all over A.M. radio throughout the late sixties and early seventies.


Due to its overtly sexual, albeit still somewhat surreal lyrics, and Jane’s orgasmic moans, the song was banned over all Europe where it was deemed as going too far for a pop song.

Of course, this helped to take the song to number one in many of the same countries that refused to play it on the radio.

You’ll still find the song played on some radio stations and used in films to this day.

Though this may have been Serge’s pinnacle moment as far as hit singles go, it is so far from his complete story as to be a mere footnote to a career that has since elevated Serge Gainsbourg to that of France’s most famous, infamous, scandalous, prolific, provocative and legendary cultural icon of the late 20th century.
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Finally…Ladies And Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones!

This piece was originally published December 10th, 2010.

Mick Jagger Post IconThree years onwards, from the tragic circumstances that made The Altamont Speedway Free Festival of 1969 such a disastrous black mark for its headliners/organizers, The Rolling Stones, 1972 would be the first time back for a large tour of the United States.

They would not be performing “Sympathy For The Devil” however, because of the (wrongly thought, but it seemed like a cursed tune to many at any rate) negative connotations associated with the murder at Altamont, again in the U.S. until at least 1975.


 

Now, embarking on a large tour to promote their recently released double album, Exile On Main Street, which was released in May of ’72 to mostly glowing reviews, they had surrounded themselves with a huge entourage of friends, associates, gal pals, and hangers on, and subsequently the tour was dubbed the STP Tour (Stones Touring Party).
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HALLOWEEN: Mystery Box Style…

This piece was originally published October 25th, 2010.

Spook Show Post IconHalloween is one of the stranger quasi-holidays that many of us celebrate. Personally I enjoy a round-the-year love of most things that many people only go for on Halloween such as creepy films, scary stories, kitschy bad novelties, and disturbing yet cool music.

Life is in so many ways, one big Halloween costume party, so when October 31st rolls around I usually see it more as a good time to bulk up on certain things that are more readily available this time of the year, until they are put back into the retail coffin storage warehouses or usually sold off at as cheap bargains (I always seek them out) to make way for the bad Thanksgiving decorations and props of November.

We all have our well loved movies, music, books and other activities to keep us happy around All Hallow’s Eve. Of course nothing would be right without the prerequisite Bruce Campbell/Sam Raimi Shempfest that are the Evil Dead films, the original Romero classics Night Of The Living Dead and Dawn Of The Dead, Hitchcock’s Psycho, numerous Vincent Price flicks (many are the wonderfully disturbed period films directed by Roger Corman of course), Dario Argento’s Suspiria, and loads of the Universal Horror masterpieces.

In tribute to this year’s Halloween extravaganza, I thought I would share a few lesser known delights that are my personal hand-picked classics, yet may be a brand new discovery for you, dear reader. Perhaps you will find one golden piece of candy corn among these Mystery Box faves!



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