Rich Koslowski: Writer, Artist, Genius
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Yes, that IS how most of my friends refer to my house, but it is not the GRINDHOUSE of which I refer to in this column. Perhaps in later columns I shall write of the legendary bouts of coitus that transpire within the confines of these four walls, but not right now. It would, really, require a series of columns to properly convey the levels (and depths) of otherworldly flesh-minglings that coalesce here. It's true.

So, no, it is not MY "grindhouse" I write of today but the MOVIE Grindhouse which is now being shown in theatres nationwide. If you are not aware of it, it is a double-feature with movies written and directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarentino. Both films pay homage to the bad B movies of the 70s that studios seemed to crank (or "Grind") out one after the other paying little attention to quality. This lack of attention to quality, seemingly, had little effect on the films popularity as audiences flocked to see them, filling the theatres and drive-ins. The movies were exploitation films mostly centering on horror and breasts. Really, when you think about it, what's NOT to love? And. apparently, Rodriguez and Tarentino were huge fans of the genre. And with these two magnificent films, and the absolutely brilliant fake trailers filling the gap between them, Rodriguez and Tarentino have payed brilliant homage, indeed! All told you spend over three hours in the theatre and it was three of the most fun hours I've had in months!

Rodriguez's feature is "Planet Terror" and is an absolute HOOT! Zombies, scheming scoundrels, hot babes (one with a machine gun for a friggin' leg!), tough heroes, and action, action, action! I had never realized just how sexy Rose McGowan was before this movie...maybe it was the Howitzer prosthetic? I guess I've discovered my bizarre fetish after all these years. Who knew?

"Planet Terror" is a pretty standard story as all those "Grindhouse" films tended to be. The acting is heavy-handed, cheesey and over-the-top. The effects gross for the sake of grossness and the ending predictable. And the film skips, stutters and is poorly edited (there's an entire sequence missing right in the middle of the hot sex scene for God's sake!). And that's what makes the film so brilliant! It's all done intentionally. And you might ask yourself, "Why make a bad movie on purpose?" And that's a fair question. The reason is because they made this "bad" movie so damn good! Ingenius, really. I am jealous. Rodriguez found actors so good at acting bad you are in awe. Bad actors could not have pulled this off! I know it sounds confusing but you gotta trust me. This film is just so fun to watch.

The Tarentino film, "DEATH PROOF," pays homage to all those "car" films which were so popular in the 70s. Long car chases with plenty of violence and mayhem. And sexy women of course. This film is not as good as the Rodriguez film but fun, nonetheless. The only problem I had with this feature was it was about 20 minutes too long and Tarentino chose to use an actual stuntwoman playing herself (maybe two, I'm not sure) who, quite simply, didn't act very well. I know, I know, they're supposed to be "bad" right? No. They're supposed to ACT bad on purpose...there's a difference. This stuntwoman was just bad. Her delivery was stiff and forced. And the dialogue between the two groups of women was also a bit forced and contrived. Not the usual "spot on" dialogue Tarentino writes and his audiences have come to expect. These conversations, quite simply, ran too long and were so riddled with the "F" word that they became tedious and annoying. I DO NOT need to hear the typical rage-filled stereotype of a black woman say motherf***er 30 times. And that's between her saying F*** about 100 times. It got trite and I expect better from Quentin. There were points in the film where you sat there thinking, "alright already, enough!" because the conversations went nowhere--they added nothing.

In the past he's been the "master" of the trivial conversations that take place between his characters (think Travolta and Jackson discussing cheeseburgers in France) making these, seemingly, unimportant discussions amusing, entertaining and a smart device to humanize his characters and give them depth. In this film the conversations do little of this, adding nothing more to this film than 20 minutes of unnecessary "filler" to make the movie come in at "full-length feature" status. 20 minutes too long.

That being said, Kurt Russell is the gem in this film! He plays the best scoundrel you "love to hate" that I've seen in years--maybe decades. You can tell he had a lot of fun playing this role. I won't give away too much here but I've read reviews that say the "audiences stand up and cheer at the ending!" I didn't stand up but I did cheer! And I laughed my butt off.

So, I give Planet Terror an "A", Death Proof a B, and the trailers an "A+!"

Definitely go and see this double-feature now before it's out of the theatres! There's talk of the studio splitting the films up and playing them seperately since ticket sales have been more sluggish than they anticipated. Go! NOW!




What a sad, sad week it's been. Like many of you I was deeply disturbed by the tragedy that transpired at Virginia Tech. I am going to refrain from mentioning the evil loser bastard's name that did the cowardly murders because that is exactly what that loser wants, but I would like to mention and talk a bit about Liviu Librescu. This is a name that should forever be remembered by everyone because he was a true hero. By first hand, eye-witness accounts it seems that this 76-year-old man sacrificed his own life to save the lives of his students by attempting to hold the murderous coward at bay. Upon seeing the murderer trying to enter his classroom (or re-enter, I'm not sure) Liviu ran to the door and held it shut while students escaped through the windows. In doing so Liviu was gunned down as the coward shot through the door. Liviu died but his heroic effort saved at least a few lives. A true hero.

And then you discover that Liviu was a Holocaust survivor as well. I never knew this man until this sad event took his life but my heart swells with pride nonetheless. He is an inspiration to me. I'm sure those that he saved will never forget him and I know I won't either.

We would all be well-served to forever remember the name Liviu Librescu.

And now a comment on the state of "loserdom" that this coward apparently found himself floundering in. He liked to blame others for his own self-inflicted situation. Sure, why not? that's what a super-loser does! Blame veryone else but yourself. From all accounts other students tried to establish contact with this chump and he chose to simply ignore their efforts at friendliness. He made a choice to isolate himself and therefore perpetuate his state of loserdom. Listen, we've all been in school and we've all seen people like this. People who don't fit in. I was in quite a few classes like Art and Shop where the "rejects" seemed to flock to. Guess what? I talked to these people and in almost every case I eventually got them to crack and let me in. I have an outgoing, sometimes "loud" personality, and I relish getting reactions and responses from people. But THEY MADE A CHOICE to let me in! That's the difference between them and the reject from VT. He chose to stay a loser instead of trying to open up. He went the other way and kept digging his loser hole deeper and deeper until he couldn't get out. Could one of the rejects I came in personal contact with turned into a vicious murderer like the coward at VT? I don't know...probably not as that is a very extreme case, but the point is I killed them with kindness. In more than a few cases I even saved their asses from bullies who wanted to kick their aforementioned asses! I befriended them. And they let me befriend them. There were plenty of people out at VT who tried to befriend this coward as well. His saying otherwise is pure BS. He chose his path and apparently wanted the path he chose. Let's not let this a-hole off the hook by saying he had "a disease" or some such crap. He had plenty of chances. He was just an evil, pathetic, sack of crap who made an evil choice.

If you're a super-loser like this jerk and CHOOSE to be so, fine. So be it. Your choice. But don't point the finger at innocent people who had nothing to do with it. Point it at yourself. And if you feel violence is the only solution point the gun at yourself as well. But just yourself, okay?

Word! r

I'M A MAN!!!


In case you're wondering about my title of this particular column, "I'M A MAN!!!", I really have no idea...I thought of a simple title relating to the Easter weekend but that seemed obvious and I really had no desire to espouse any religious opinions of any kind or wish any of you a Happy Easter...sorry. I mean, I hope your Easter is happy if you choose to celebrate this particular holiday, I really do,I'm not "anti-Easter" by any means. So, I guess I hope you have a Happy Easter. But that's not what this column's all about. And so I thought about writing something related to the books I've read this past week (which are many) but I couldn't think of anything catchy or clever. Perplexing since I'm usually quite clever and something of a wordsmith...I am a professional writer after all. So, it is rather puzzling that I couldn't think of some wondrous title relating to recent reads. Of course I really only gave myself about 12 seconds to think of something for the title of this column...didn't really give myself a fair chance one might say. I don't know why...given the opportunity--say, 15-30 seconds--I think I probably would've come up with something quite intelligent, indeed.

Sigh. But here's the rub! I'm impatient. I like to have things right away. I work that way, play that way, interact that way...I'm compulsive.

And so, when thinking for those, seemingly, long 12 seconds (an eternity to a compulsive, impatient person) I quickly lost patience and wrote the first random thought that popped into my head..."I'M A MAN!!!"

Like I said, I don't know why, and I'm sure "Freudian" psychologists would have plenty to say on the subject...That I'm overcompensating and deep down suffer from feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. Maybe. It's possible I guess. They might hypothesize that I struggle with my sexuality and my inner woman cries to be released. Hmmm...interesting. I've sometimes wondered what it would be like to be a woman. I think I'd be a nymphomaniac if I was. Yes. Perhaps they would surmise from my title that I long to have my voice heard...that I feel people should recognize my greatness more and that because they have not that I am angry at the world and feel the necessity to stand up and scream for them to do so.

Again...perhaps. All very analytical and plausible conjectures.

Personally, I think it's because I wrote this right after inadvertently bumping myself in my genitalia region where my good buddy, one Mister Gregory Ott, rammed a shoulder into those same nether-regions whilst playing basketball this past Wednesday and has left me with one very sore pee pee. Maybe it just kind of reminded me that biologically I am, indeed, a man.

But hey, I'm no expert in pyschology, so what do I know.


Besides my profound realization of my manhood recently, I have read some pretty darned cool comics this past week. And here's a couple quick recommendations...

CRIMINAL by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. A story about a lifetime criminal who is not only very good at being a criminal--meticulous in planning, never breaks his own rules and always has a way out if the gig goes south--but this guy is also one of those "bad" characters you just can't help rooting for. It doesn't hurt that the other bad guys in this story are a bunch of ruthless, honorless bastards that make the main character look lik Mother Theresa, I guess. This is a wonderfully wicked crime noir comic book by two of today's most talented comic book artists. And what a perfect match of writer and artists. Sean Phillips is one of my all-time favorite artists--ever since I first discovered his talent on Hellblazer many years back. He is a gifted one. He teeters ever so magnificently on the "comic book artist" "fine artist" razor's edge. His take on this series is brilliant and I find myself reading the panels over several times because I'm absolutely enthralled by his art. And that's a great be so absorbed by both the writing and the art that it literally takes me about three times as long to get through these comics as it would an average read.

And lest I forget Ed Brubaker's wonderful work I must also point out that I've been onboard the Brubaker bandwagon since he was a relative unknown on the indy circuit. Ed's got a way with these gritty, realistic, crime stories and he's really taken it to the next level with CRIMINAL. I am so glad Marvel decided to take a chance with a comic representing the crime genre again. But when you've got these two talents at the helm I guess the risk wasn't all that great now, was it?

And I've also been reading "THE END" FANTASTIC FOUR mini-series by Alan Davis and Mark Farmer. I'm at issue 4 of a 6 issue series and, once again, I am so enthralled with the beautiful artwork that this is probably taking much longer to read than usual. Alan Davis is, by far, one of the greatest artists to ever put pencil to comic book paper and Mark Farmer is one of the top 2 or 3 inkers ever! He should win "Best Inker" every friggin' year! And yet, for whatever mysterious reason, he's never even on any ballots!!! What the hell?

So, anyways, THE END is pretty darn kick ass so far and I'm pleased as punch that Alan has blossomed as not only a brilliant artist but a pretty darned good writer as well. His ideas are intelligent and what I would consider "lofty" in that he seems to like to write his stories on a grand scale. Just like with his popular THE NAIL mini-series he likes to involve a lot of the characters in each respective universe and write an epic storyline where some pretty big things happen..."lofty."

But I haven't finished this one yet so I can't give a final verdict...but come on!...It's Alan Davis! Every panel belongs framed and on a museum's wall somewhere!

'Nuff said!



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