Joshua Hale Fialkov

Purveyor of sheer awesomeness.

Joshua Hale Fialkov is the Harvey, Eisner, and Emmy Award nominated writer of graphic novels, animation, video games, film, and television, including:

THE LIFE AFTER, THE BUNKER, PUNKS, ELK'S RUN, TUMOR, ECHOES, KING, PACIFIC RIM, THE ULTIMATES, I, VAMPIRE, and JEFF STEINBERG CHAMPION OF EARTH. He's also written for NBC's CHICAGO MED and SYFY's upcoming INCORPORATED.

Filtering by Category: Reviews by Me

Movies, TV, etc.

Since getting rid of cable and becoming a shut in, I've been watching fewer and fewer New Releases of any kind.  Here's a few things I've watched that are, ahem, new to me. Be Kind Rewind - I'm not sure what's wrong with everybody.  The movie is fantastic.  It's not as good as Eternal Sunshine, obviously, but, it's still a work of near genius.  The big complaint seems to be how the movie is awkwardly put together.  That's on purpose.  The movie feels like a story that's been Sweded.  It's fucking genius.  It's got heart, soul, and is funny as fuck.  I'm glad that Gondry is back from the self-indulgent nightmare of Science of Sleep.

Newhart - Season 1 -  Ah Bob.  No better sitcom comedian has ever graced tv.  While not as organic as the 70's Bob Newhart Show, the 'new' Newhart is still fucking amazing.  Of course, it'll be a season or two before the cast we all remember shows up, but, considering how long it took us to get the first four of TBNS, and this first season, it might be a while.

No Direction Home - I somehow managed to miss this doc when it aired on PBS.  One of those "I'll watch it eventually" things.  It's Scorsese Documentary excellence mixed with the longest interview Dylan's ever given.  It's masterfully put together, and the archival stuff they found is simply amazing.  Footage of Woody Guthrie playing, Dylan getting booed, and recordings of the early pre-star Dylan tapes... wow.  If you have any interest in folk culture, Dylan, or the 60's, definitely worth watching.

Torchwood - What a difference a year makes.  Last season (which is linked here) was... okay.  The second half really managed to off set the mediocre first half.  But, it still wasn't there.  This season... they get it.  The show is purposefully juvenille, filled with ridiculous and unrealistic sexuality that really manages to make the whole thing feel like everybody is being guided by the oversexed aura of Captain Jack.  So, sure, they do weird illogical shit, but, dammit, Captain Jack is there.  I'm REALLY looking forward to the new Season of Doctor Who, simply to see it all tie together.

Lost - What a difference a year makes.  Last season was... okay. (Hey look at me.  I'm reusing the above review!)  Anyways, this season has been exactly what it needed to be.  We're making huge progress in story and character, and the twists and revelations feel substantial.  I'm glad I stuck around, and this season has made it fairly certain I'm not going anywhere.

The X-Files - So, this is going to be a bit ridiculous.  I never made it through the X-Files before.  I watched Season One when it aired, and my punk rocky teenage self had no use for it.  Consequently, aside from the assorted episodes here and there, I just never got through the whole show.  While working on The Cleaners, and a few other procedural horror type things, I decided it was time.  So, I started from the beginning.  I'm about halfway through the second season, and holy shit... really fantastic.  It's a little campy, and the stand alone episodes feel like they get in the way of the continuing plot (which unlike most people, I'm actually really into, thus far.)  So, yeah.  Go pick up that giant box set.

So hopefully, I'll get to see the Oscar movies shortly.  Until then, that's all I got.

Comics I've Enjoyed

So, I haven't actually been reading many comics the past few months, as I've been equal parts busy and poor. The past two weeks or so I've gotten time to catch up. Here's a few things I really enjoyed. The Darkness - I know right? Company man all of the sudden. Phil Hester, in case you don't know, is the best writer in comics. He has skills beyond those of mortal man, and everything he touches is gold. His work on The Darkness is... jesus... amazing. Really some of the best superheroing I've read in a long time. Get over the predisposition against it. It's great.  The link isn't to Phil's stuff.  I'm sure his trade'll be out in a few months, tho.

Criminal - Preaching to the choir, I suppose. The relaunch of the book is probably the best issue to date. The only thing I can say negatively about it is that it's not quite as good as Stray Bullets. But, as Stray Bullets is probably the best comic of the past ten years, that's really more of a compliment than anything else.

Y: The Last Man - Again. Choir, listen up. BKV continues to be amazing, and I miss the book already.

'76 - I've been working on a few comics set in the 70's (or, done in the style of the 70's) and it's an era (and style) that's more or less unmatched for me. I often times think I was born twenty years too late. Anyways, B. Clay Moore, Seth Peck, and the gang have a fun take on the time period, that's definitely worth checking out.

Captain Marvel - Alright. So, come on. This is ridiculous coming from me. But, seriously, Brian Reed, friend, statesman, hero to many, is writing one of the most fun superhero books in a LONG time, and the fact that it's tied into one of ten million cross overs, features continuity nearly a decade old, and is a character I could give two shits about is mere evidence to how fucking excellent it is. Go read it.

The Highwaymen TPB - Comes out next week some time in the next few weeks, and I finally finished reading the issues. It's a goddamn thrill ride. Despite it being well travelled territory it never feels old hat. Really just great storytelling by two future mighty men of comics.

Doctor Who Classics - IDW's publishing the old awesome 80's Marvel Doctor Who stuff. It's Dave Gibbons for fuck sake. Get on it.

Okay. That's it for now. I may do a thing about tv I'm watching next.

Wolfgang's Vault's got The Who doing Quadrophenia LIVE

The Who - Concert Vault - Where Live Music Lives,Streaming Free Music, Live Concert Downloads Wolfgang's Vault, which offers free streams of a crap load of King Biscuit Flower Hour recordings and various slightly more authorized 'bootlegs' of concert than you'd find at your local indie record shop, just put a famous (and presumed lost) recording of the Who on their Quadrophenia tour.

There's a rather lengthy explanation on the site as to why it's so legendary, but, for any Who-philes (interesting isn't it, that I'm both an obsessive fan of Doctor Who and The Who...) it's like listening to crack cocaine with louder guitars.

The tour was their first to use a copious amount of 'special effects' (a.k.a. tape loops), and it took nearly the entire tour for them to get used to them.  This is the 2nd to last concert, so they're tighter than hell.  I think that this tour probably contributed pretty strongly to them tightening their sound for their mid 70's  stuff like Who By Numbers and Who Are You, which really are their two last great albums as far as I'm concerned.

On a side note, I recently found The Endless Wire, which came out last year or the year before, and popped it back in.  While the new stuff is positively wretched (save for Mike Post Theme, which gets kudos for mentioning one of the best TV theme writers of all time and rightfully giving his music a place in the emotional history of our culture...) the DVD and CD of them live is actually pretty rocking.  Although, Pete and Roger both look like a hundred and five years old, and the shorts that Daltrey wears are pretty embarrassing. See picture below.

Daltrey

Comic Pants says…

Comic Pants » Blog Archive » Down the Line: December releases

Punks the Comic Christacular Special Digital Webbing: Dan: The Punks Summer Special was a mind-blowing bit of comics joy, so I can only imagine what the Christmas special is going to be like. According to the solicits, the four weird-headed bastards are searching for the true meaning of Christmas, leprosy, and friendship, so its gotta be good. There are some awesome looking Punks shirts with the Summer Special cover on ‘em for sale too, but they aren’t big enough for me, so I have to pass. page 284

God I Love Elvis Costello

This was actually an E-mail to Costello loving buddy Mark Wheaton. But, I though it'd be mean not to share it.

The new release of My Aim Is True came out, and it has an entire disk of him playing the album live with the Attractions like 6 months after recording the album. As the album was recorded with The News, this means it's 1000x better, which is nearly impossible as My Aim Is True is one of the best records ever made.

And, also, this: http://www.rctimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll.../1005/MTCN0303

"I recorded some new melodies for some of my older songs, and for a gag I recorded them on just a cassette player. And I didn't have a microphone so I plugged in headphones into the tape recorder, because you switch them backwards, they work as a microphone. I didn't want to be like a Luddite, so I put them on a CDR, and I put 10 of the CDRs in 10 copies of the best of record that we released in April, and hid 'em in the shops in America, just to see whether anybody bought records anymore. And as nobody's found 'em yet and it's now September, I guess nobody buys records anymore. But somewhere somebody's gonna get a little surprise one of these days . . . They're gonna be in Wal-Mart or somewhere, and they're gonna buy one of these records and they're gonna discover a little free gift from me. . . . There's not enough fun with the business of music. It's all very serious. The record thing for as long as it's gonna last, it needs a little mischief put back into it."

Joshua Watched the First Season of Jericho

Well, is watching, actually, but that doesn't fit the song as well.  I'm on the fourth episode right now.  The show's an interesting little drama thus far.  I'm really impressed with how quickly and thoroughly they fleshed out all of the characters.  The drama has a tendency to fall closer to melodrama, but, due to the high stakes of the world of the show, I think it actually works.  There's also a knack for final images.  Some really haunting and delicate images tend to fill the final seconds of every episodes, and really manages to draw you back in to see what's going to happen next. The acting is solid enough, with Skeet Ulrich not quite reaching his Miracle level of awesome, but, he's still much better than he usually get credit for.

From what I've read there's a big change 2/3rds of the way through the season, so I'm looking forward to that.  iTunes has the pilot up for free online.  I'd recommend checking it out.

Recommended Reads: The Highwaymen

Tony picked me up a copy of friend and colleague Marc Bernardin's new book from Wildstorm The Highwaymen.  It's an action packed thrill ride, in the most non-cliched meaning of the words.  It's a complete and utter fucking blast, and it's highly recommended.  It should be at your local comic book store.  You can read more about Marc and other reviews of the book here: http://rhinoplastique.blogspot.com/

Josh’s TV Roundup

Taking today off, which means, I've been doing my TV catch up.  I figured, I'd manage to make it all worthwhile, and give my TV roundup. 24 - It's certainly the best it's been since the first half of season one, but, it's always so close to exploding in a cloud of illogic that it hurts.  If you remove Kiefer Sutherland's performance from the show, it would be at best JAG like in quality.  And, now that most of the original cast is gone, it's filled up with some of the worst acting this side of tech guy Edgar.  Jebus.

Gilmore Girls - Well, it's not the same without the Palladinos.  It's not as good, but, for what was one of the most engaging, consistent show on all of TV, that doesn't mean it's bad.  I think a lot of people jumped off when it seemed like the show was being contradictory with the whole 'money buys happiness' thing, but, well, where the last new episode left off, it still comes down to the core message of the show, as long as they have each other...

LOST - Hey, most improved show of the year, I'd say.  Last season was a mess of threads with some compelling concepts mixed in.  This year, is lean and tight, with a smart laser eye focus on moving the story forward.  I credit Brian K. Vaughan.  But that's only because I know him, and like to build my friends up to mythic proportions.  (Gary Dauberman can move mountains with his mind.)

VERONICA MARS - Poor Veronica Mars.  The best mystery show on TV got saddled with a bizarre split season plot format that goes against the whole gimmick of the show thus far.  and it suffers for it.  It's still great, but, I fear that if the rumors of next years format changes are true, the show's going to keep stepping further and further away from what made the first season so amazing.

SCRUBS - Of everything on TV, I'd say I watch the most episodes of Scrubs.  I watch the reruns all day long while I'm writing.  And, no matter how many times I see them (Comedy Central seems to play the same 10 episodes on a constant fucking repeat), I'm always drawn in and thoroughly entertained.  Except for the current season.  Last week's episode was the closest in form to the true greatness of the show, but, it's becoming even worse than a parody of itself... it's become typical sitcom trash.  For shame.

STUDIO 60 - I had a long conversation with Christopher Long and Jonah Weiland about Studio 60.  I think the big downside to the show was that the first three or four episodes were so far above just about anything else on TV.  I've never been a huge Sorkin fan, but Studio 60 hooked me right away.  It captures what it's like to work in TV pretty damn accurately, and managed to make Matthew Perry into a tolerable (even impressive) character actor instantly.  And then, it started softening up... the politics went from compelling to whiney, the drama leaned towards melodrama, and unfortunately, became more maudlin than entertaining.  It's still pretty good though, I don't know what all the hate is about.

The Office - Yeah. It's still amazing.  Even that re-edited hour version of those two reruns that aired this week was fantastic.  It's really a joy to watch, and a pleasure to share with friends and family.

Andy Barker, P.I. - It's a fucking blast.  I'm a big fan, and recommend it.  That is all.

How It's Made - The best show on TV. It's footage of Factories making random objects with a soothing voice over explaining what's going on.  It's so god damn outstanding.  Hooray for Discovery HD!

Secret Agent (A.K.A. Danger Man) Complete Series

Ah, Danger Man. This set is up on Amazon for a measely $99 bucks right now. It's everything including both the original B+W half hour show, and then the color ones that were on CBS back in the day. This is first part of the Prisoner. Really, it is. If you like the Prisoner, you'll like this. It's much less weird, but very much in the same world, and really the set up for what happens there.

John Drake is Number 6 and vice versa.

In any event, I don't know that there's ever been a better spy show on TV, and that includes 24. Go, watch.

Enjoy.

Psycho

So, here's a no-brainer, right? One of the quintessential Horror films of all time, that just happens to be one of the quintessential Hitchcock films. The movie is sheer tense brilliance where the horror comes from where it should come from... the plot and the characters. Up until the final reveals of Norman and the Fruit Cellar, the paranioa and confusion is so overwhelming that you're kept on the edge of your seat, hoping... praying that whatever happens... happens and it doesn't hurt you.

The movie works as almost a selection of shorts with an interwoven plot. The first third dealing with Marion, the second works as an interlude following the private eye, and then the pot boiler ending section. Sure, plot wise they're all the same, but the tone is quite divurgent... I'd say the first section has more to do with the later films, like Marnie, the second a nod to the early Detective Noirs, and the final section is pure North by Northwest.... plus a rotting corpse.

Interestingly, like Marnie and even a bit in Rope, the only real downside to the film is the psycho-babble at the end. Hitchcock's obsession with putting a fine point on the psychological underpinnings of his heroes and villains is always too much on the nose for me, but, compared to most of the films of the era, it's still expertly executed.

The root of the modern horror movie is Psycho, and yet, we've gotten it so wrong since. Psycho will always remain a terrifying classic with no peer.

Marnie

Young Sean Connery, when not playing James Bond, always sort of creeps me out. But, in Marnie it works in his favor. The image of super suave secret agent helps to sort of fix what comes off as foolishness and leads to... well, what it leads to. You buy that he can really think he can solve her problems. And, transversely, Tippi Hedren spends the entire movie trying to not be attracted to Sean Connery. So, like Hitch is best known for, he lets both actor's outside personalities alter our perception of their characters. Which is both smart and a little bit weird.

Really, the highlight of the movie, for me anyhow, is the score by Bernard Herrmann. The last score he did for Hitchcock, and while not the most iconic (Vertigo or Psycho would take that), it's delicate and sophisticated... tonally very diverse. Best of all, like most collaborations between Hitchcock and Herrmann is the decision of when to use music and when to abstain. Scenes of high drama that should have tense music, instead are stone silent, nothing but the rustling of feet to guide you. And it works. Works in bucketfuls. The wonderful split screen as Marnie loots the bank vault and the cleaning lady cleans the office is literally cinema perfection.

From there, the movie becomes this interesting little psychotherapy drama, as Sean Connery shows off his (unexplained) psychiatric knowledge, and starts to analyze Marnie and what made her the mess of a person she is (She's scared of red! She's scared of lightning! She doesn't like being touched by Sean Connery! Sheer Madness!)  It falters a bit once it comes to the end, which is almost exactly what you expect it to be, rather than, say, the end of Chinatown.  But still, it's one of Hitch's greats, and really an excellent example of a character study that is somewhat rare in his overall filmography.

Rope

Ah, Rope. Generally considered more style than substance, although, I'd say somewhat wrongly. For those who don't know, the movie is essentially a 9 cuts. In other words, each reel is an uncut tracking shot, following the exploits of two Leopold and Loeb like murderers who match wits with a strangely machiavellian Jimmy Stewart.  The movie is all tension and style, but, with some top notch performances, particularly by Stewart, it becomes an engaging mastwork that's a statement on everything from the state of film acting to the use of flash to substitute for substantive material.  In 1948.

In other words, Hitchcock what lose his mind if he saw the dreck that passes for quality films these days.  It's pretty clear that the only reason Hitchcock would undertake such a strange filming method would be as an experiment of style, but, as he is known for, the exercise becomes considerably better than most people's life's work.

And, the fun trivia fact from the DVD is that it has not one but two cameos from Hitchcock, despite the fact that it all takes place in one apartent with only a handful of actors.

And Hume "I Banged Jessica Tandy and was in Cocoon" Cronyn apparently wrote the treatment that the movie was adapted from (which was in turn adapted from a British play.)

So, yet another highly recommended.

Rear Window

Ah, Rear Window.  I figure if you're going to watch a slew of Hitchcock movies why not start with one fo the best.   Pitch perfect performances, brilliant cinematography, riveting suspense... it literally hits every theme and grace note that he touches upon in most of his other movies all at once.  The voyerism, the paranoia, the gray moralism... all there, all executed flawlessly.

As a creator, I guess what stands up for me in Rear Window is the containment.  So much of Suspense and Action these days is the feeling of the ever changing landscape, and with few exceptions (Die Hard, motherfuckers), that's just how you make a suspense movie.  Rear Window is even further the other direction.

Not only do we never leave the apartment, although there is the few seconds of window dangling, but, our entire frame of reference is at a sharp 3rd person.  We never hear those across the alley talk, but, yet, we know who they all are. We know what they're all doing, and what they're character journeys are.  And we know it because of Jimmy Stewart's reactions to it.

His character serves as the perfect representation of what we each do when left on our own, left to our own devices for entertainment.  We obsess, we imagine, and sometimes, we get ourselves into trouble.  That's why Hitchcock excels for me as a director.  No matter how absurd the situation (Strangers on a Train or Psycho anyone?) it always feels not just grounded and real to the characters, but, as though it's something that happened to someone you know, or, is happening to you.

That to me is great storytelling

The Killing

While I'm at it, I suppose I should just say a word or two about The Killing. I seem to recall Kubrick hating this movie, but that might be me confusing it with Spartacus.  Which you'd think is pretty fucking hard to do.  In any event, The Killing is an odd-duck of a movie.  It manages to be pretty damn close to what Kubrick would do in Strangelove and Clockwork, while still being a lesser work.  The big downfall is the weird pulp noir voice over that more or less evaporates by the end of the first hour.  It's like someone mixed up the first few reels with the audio from Dragnet.

Once you get past that, you get something that's pretty atypical for Kubrick, an extremely tight, tense, and suspenseful caper picture.  It really has the feeling that Ocean's Eleven (the Soderbergh one) tries and (in my opinion) fails to  accomplish.  Utter fucking chaos, where there's only one or two guys smarter than the room.  It's interesting mostly to me because despite fitting snugly into the cliches and devices of Noir, it manages to be a wholly different beast.  Hell, it's almost an action movie, save for the lack of flat-out action scenes.

It's one of those movies that a lot of Kubrick fans seem to overlook, and, considering the style and form he gained just a few years later in Strangelove and beyond, I suppose it's understandable.  That being said, it's a helluva lot of fun, which is not something one often hears when describing Kubrick movies.

Blogging my way through the Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection

I spent a nice chunk of my very slight change on the Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection. So, I figure to make sure I’m actually a) watching them, and b) analyzing them properly for research purposes, I’m going to blog about each movie as I watch them.It’s 14 movies, so it’ll take a while, and I’ve seen 95% of them before so I don’t know how much I’ll really have to say, but, I’ll do my best to make it interesting (and let’s be honest, there’s not a lot one can say about The Trouble with Harry to make it interesting.)

Anyways, there’s the little link to the box set up above if you want to know what’s in it, and what to look forward to. It’s really worth every penny, seriously. So, if you have the extra cash, go buy it and follow along.

I’m starting with Rear Window tonight. While I’m watching it, I’m reminded of a couple of things that make it really stand out to me (and I suppose to just about every fan of Hitchcock’s) as something special. From the use of minatures to the dynamic camera work for what is essentially a very static and stationary film is really, really remarkable. Plus, you get Jimmy Stewart with his shirt off. C’mon you just can’t go wrong. Alright, I’ll be back with something, hopefully more profound later on.

Fuck the Reviews…

Crank is the best movie of the year.  It's a fucking tour-de-force of insane action on par with anything Leone or Peckinpah ever produced. Run, do not walk, to see it if you have any love for action movies.  It's fan-fucking-tastic.

It was part of a quintuplet of great movies I watched this weekend including D.O.A. (the original, not the remake), the afore-mentioned Crank, The Big Lebowski, Vertigo, and good friend Mark Wheaton's A&E TV Movie, Wildfire: Last Stand at Yellowstone.

The Lone and Level Sand - Comic Con Reviews

First up from my Comic Con stash is The Lone and Level Sand by A. David Lewis, mpMann, and Jennifer Rodgers. I read the book in it's first printing, which was softcover, black and white, and published by ADL's Caption Box comics. I enjoyed it in that form, but, I felt the grayscale art wasn't quite right, and the lettering wasn't top notch.

This new version by Archaia Studio Press is positively breath-taking. The colors make the art pop, the production is amazing, the redone lettering and general book design makes the book the complete package it always deserved to be.

The book is a thoroughly researched retelling of the story of Moses and the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, as seen in that one Charlton Heston movie. The big difference is that the book is told from a historical perspective, and more importantly, from Pharoah's point of view. It comes of as an even-handed portrait of a man who while certainly a villain, had quite a bit more going on then was ever really addressed in that big leather bound scroll they kept up in the daius until trotting it around the shul on Saturday mornings.

Probably the biggest suprise for me about the book and it's reception is how little flack ADL got for doing the angle he did. Despite the thoughtful and delicate way he handles what to just about 2/3rds of the world would be blasphemy, the knee jerk reaction (and this even to my lapsed Jewish self) is "What the fuck do I need to feel bad for Pharoah for?" Well, you don't. He obviously had a choice and he made the wrong one.

The use of religious mysticism versus practical logic is pretty brilliant and reminiscent of the work done in Age of Bronze, another thoroughly researched look at a time period best known for portrayal in an Epic Poem or two.

Anyways, LaLS is really a wonderful piece of literature that hasn't gotten the attention it deserves, so, do yourself (and my buddy ADL) a favor and pick it up. It's dirt cheap on Amazon and it's thus far my favorite Graphic Novel of the year.

Oh, and it's up for a Harvey Award or two, so make sure to vote for it if you're eligible to vote. (And while you're at it.... there's this other obscure indie book up for... eh, forget it. Just vote for Bendis or Brubaker and break my little heart.)

Lone and Level Sands. Go. Buy it.

Fragile Prophets

Fragile Prophets by Jeff Davison and Stephen Buell

I'm an asshole.  Stephen gave me a copy of the trade of Fragile Prophets months ago, and I keep meaning to write about it, but I've been so fucking swamped, I haven't had time to do it.

Well, it's coming out in the next few weeks (or maybe came out this week), and I just wanted to make sure everybody checks it out.  I know that I'm notorious for saying that every book is my favorite book of the year, but, this time, I mean it.

The story of an autistic boy who can see the future and his brother who may or may not be exploiting him (even the brother doesn't know), it plays like a mix between Rain Man where Dustin Hoffman is an 8 year old Cassandra.  The story's delicately told and intricately woven, the art is peculiar in a way that really makes you feel the unease of the world these characters live in.  From beat to beat, it's completely engrossing, and when you get to the twist ending, we've had such a blast that you just don't want it to end.

Really an excellent piece of work from the very underappreciated guys at Lost in the Dark Press.  Go click the link above and order the fucking thing, or I'll smash you.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance

I love westerns, obviously. I mean, I committed a good year of my life to Western Tales of Terror, and have been hammering away at a couple other western projects this year as well. There's something so earnest and heartfelt about even the cheesiest of western that's missing in modern cinema. The Cowboy movie is an art form unto itself. That being said, I'm not really a John Wayne kind of guy. I think he's... well... just a bad actor. That being said, there's a couple of John Wayne movies I love. True Grit is one, El Dorado another, and, then, there's The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance. It's certainly one of the most traditional movies John Ford ever directed, and the performances of Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne serve to turn a story of revenge and politics into one of the most compelling coming of age stories about adults ever made. John Wayne plays the more experienced, more cynical, and for the most part drunk and abuse cowhand. Jimmy Stewart becomes his ward, of a sort. The political back drop of the territory fighting towards statehood is this great counter point to the idea of the West being tamed. It's delicate and smart, and outright compelling.   The twist, along with the bitter-sweet ending, are also some real cinematic highlights.  Just for seeing how a character can be both the winner and the loser simultaneously. So, if you want a classic black and white western, this is where to go. Well, this and High Noon, obviously.

On a side note, they must say the name Liberty Vallance several hundred times through the course of the movie. It's... very strange.

Hard Candy

David Slade is a genius.  I can't remember the last young director to so amazingly execute a film.  The shots, the editing, the acting, are all pitch perfect.  It's really a masterpiece.  The only strike against it is the subject matter, which is a turn off for a lot of people.  But, that being said, it's so expertly done, so well-crafted, that it doesn't matter what it's about.  It's a movie about 2 people who are pathological liars embroiled in a battle of wits, the equal to which we haven't seen in a LONG time.  This is classic cinema, and we're going to see a lot more of Slade in the future, if there's any justice in the world.