What movie was that...?

30 September 2010

The Big Hit

directed by Che-Kirk Wong

Those of you idiots out there watching Crank and thinking “Man, I wish there were more movies like this!” need to glimpse the Chuck Berry version of filmic madness, known as The Big Hit, starring an up and coming Mark Wahlberg and featuring vacuous storytelling combined with renegade filmmaking. In fact, if Neveldine and Taylor were old enough to mutate this film in the moral vacuum that incubated Crank 2, then The Big Hit could have very well been the Slackers of its time. The film also rocks a totally ridiculous Lou Diamond Phillips and Antonio Sabato Jr., and Ben Ramsey (who is writing Luke Cage, btw) crafts an absurdly absurd tale of a pushover hit man who lets his easygoing demeanor get the best of him. Wahlberg shines in an early role that capitalizes on his Dirk Diggler naivety in Boogie Nights (one of his best performances, btw) and Phillips has way too much fun as the baddest, most sparkly shirt wearing guy (and this is way pre-Jersey Shore, folks) in the room. The Big Hit is one of those films that I nearly walked of when it first premiered, exclaiming to a friend just how fucking ridiculous the movie was, but now, after nearly a decade has passed, I can look back with nostalgia colored glasses to appreciate a film that was, for lack of a better term and in relation to such contemporaries as Crank and Crank 2, ahead of its time. 

28 September 2010

True Grit trailer

I'm nearly as excited for this as I am for Tron Legacy! A non sequitur: I just love Dead Man's Bones. I'm normally not a fan of live versions of songs I love, but DMB just does it so well. Give us a live, acoustic (or whatever the hell it is you do in Name in Stone, In the Room Where You Sleep and Pa Pa Power), or improntu album, pretty please with sugar on top.

PA PA POWER - DEAD MANS BONES from Noaz Deshe on Vimeo.

Restrepo

directed by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington

Sebastian Junger (who wrote The Perfect Storm, btw) and Tim Hetherington (cinematographer of The Devil Came on Horseback) join forces to tell the tale of Second Platoon, Battle Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade, stationed for 14 months in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan, a location dubbed by CNN as “the deadliest place on earth.” That’s a bold statement, CNN, especially when locations like Liberia, The Sudan, and Texas (where one of the primary industries is lethal injection) exist in the world. But the Korengal Valley is no joke, a desolate, isolated place where the Taliban forces lurk like monsters in the mountains and engage the soldiers multiple times a day. For 14 effing months! Studies have been done about soldiers forced into prolonged, ultra-intense combat situations, soldiers like the 101st Airborne division on which the stellar series Band of Brothers was based, studies that show how situations like this can severely jack you up forever and ever. Try to imagine being engaged in sudden firefights 3 to 4 to 5 times a day, and try to imagine how, after over a year, the loss of friends and fellow soldiers may affect you. Junger and Hetherington film the shit out of the experience, and they make damn sure to withhold any opinion they may have about the war, instead documenting, in the purest sense, the singular and excruciating experience of being a soldier charged with defending the edge of the map. Why is it called Restrepo? Watch the film for an answer to that query. But steel yourself, because it won’t be easy.

Happy B Day, Burton Theatre!


For those of you who haven’t taken my advice, you need to hook em on downtown to the Burton Theatre for a dose of filmic truth. I’ll be baking a cult film cake to celebrate The Burton’s 1st B Day this weekend, and all you assholes better be in attendance. To commemorate the milestone, The Burton will be featuring some gems from the past year’s lineup, gems like Bronson, Taxidermia, The Room, and Robocop, among other filmic treasures. If you are like me and you find yourself wishing that some local theater played the kind of awesome cinema that you just don’t find in the burbs, cinema that throbs with the illicit pulse of the pulpish, the cultish and the badassish, then The Burton is your kind of place. It seems to be that time again, that time when I remind all you cinephiles out there that if you live in Detroit, you are just minutes away from a filmic treasure trove.

Without further ado, the old refresher course of the amazing and singular experience of watching films at The Burton:

Metro Detroiters, if you’re like me, you regularly find yourself scanning the movie section of the newspaper, or scrolling down theater websites and saying to yourself “I wish there was something else out there to watch. Something strange. Something indie. Something that really cooks.” Well, look no further, because The Burton has heard your call, good reader. Armed with excellent proprietors, a perfectly fitting location (the old site of the Burton International Academy) and a uniquely surreal venue, The Burton Theatre is pleased to present Detroiters with genuine art house atmosphere and art house cinema. I remember my inaugural voyage like it was yesterday. As I pulled into the parking lot for the first time, I noticed a sign, festooned with Christmas lights, on a fence that read “Burton Theatre, Enter Here,” and an arrow pointing around the corner of a massive brick school. I made my way down the narrow path and around said corner, and happened upon another sign that beckoned me around yet another corner. I began to suspect that strange things were afoot at the Circle K, but as I navigated my way to the entrance, I found myself walking into the dark floored, white walled setting of various childhood night terrors (I mean that in every excellent way, of course). After purchasing my ticket from the small, barred, closet-like alcove that serves as a box office, I made my way up the stairs and into the auditorium, which is one of those wood floored, all-purpose rooms that all of use ate lunch in slash went to gym class in slash watched the school talent show in if we went to elementary school in southeast Michigan. As I sat down and waited for the show to start, I listened to others munch popcorn (that’s right, they have a concession stand) and chat, I realized just how lucky I am to have a theater in my town that not only loves the art of film as passionately as I do, but that seeks to excite others as well. So many other so called art theaters (I’m looking at you, Main and Maple) seem complacent in with their niche crowd of elderly cinephiles and college aged hipsters, but The Burton seems to quiver with excitement, as if founders Nate Faustyn, Jeff Else, Matt Kelson and David Allen still can’t believe that they get to do what they do. If you’re one of those weirdo, Russian animation loving, obscure doc watching (is he just describing himself, or making fun of me?) film geeks, come on down. But don’t worry, all you skinny jean clad, beard and sweater types, you’re invited, too. So are you, middle aged guys with Great White t shirts and sunglasses at night. But not you, lone drunk guy who chomps and spits popcorn out all over the place (please, just stay home). Everyone else, come on in. Have a seat in the auditorium, which is a frankensteined mash up of Detroit’s artistic, architectural and aesthetic history (those light fixtures came from a church). Follow the creepy trail that leads to the men’s room for a game of pool whilst you relieve yourself. Yes, there’s a pool table in there. Just make sure you’re back in time for the righteous trailer reel.

In addition to showing excellently independent cinema, simply experiencing The Burton is a conversation topic in itself, a true filmic experience that only works to reinforce the magic, the energy, and the joy of film.
The Burton features ample, lit parking adjacent to the building itself, and very reasonable prices to indulge in its wares. The lineup belies the owners’ true favorites; horror and classic exploitation films, but rest assured, there really is something for everyone. Located on Cass Avenue in the Cass corridor, The Burton is a tremendous asset for all you film nuts out there. Please, support your local film lovers.

27 September 2010

Walk the Line

directed by James Mangold

Just before his used his celebrity to mess up a classic western (even though you were truly amazing in 3:10 to Yuma, Mr. Ben Foster), James Mangold managed to make a stellar biopic about rock n roll’s Man in Black, the one and only Mister Johnny Cash. Country may have claimed him as one of their own, and they may be right, but Cash was as rock n roll as they come, the whitehot, drugged up voice of the underdog and the criminal. In Joaquin Phoenix Mangold found the closest thing to a reincarnated Cash that one could find. Allegedly Mr. Cash himself said that Phoenix was the only actor fit to play a filmic version of himself, and holy shit was he right. Phoenix even does his own singing, which is as hauntingly accurate as Sam Riley’s stage presence in Anton Corbijn’s Control, and as amazing as he is he can’t hold a candle to the true grit and refreshing loveliness of Reese Witherspoon, who plays June Carter with all the charm and hardened wit that seem to define the iconic songstress. Phoenix acts as if his life depends on it, every time, and supporting cast talent like Robert Patrick (wow) and Waylon Payne, who’s portrayal of The Killer himself, Jerry Lee Lewis, is Duvallian in its complexity, only add to power of the story.

PS Pretty Please, JP, if you ever decide to freak out and give another gonzo performance, try to cut a Cash style album instead of the truly awful rap you vomited up in I’m Still Here. My stomach can’t take a Complifuckincations part 2.

26 September 2010

Cop Land

directed by James Mangold

One of the single best westerns of the past two and a half decades takes the form of an NYC slash New Jersey cop drama that features a cast so chock full of talent that it puts a Tarantino film to shame. James Mangold’s Cop Land is so quintessential in its perfection that you almost see the iconic western giants in his writing, as if he was channeling Burt Kennedy or Leigh Brackett. Sylvester Stallone channels a wounded Robert Mitchum and gives the second best performance of his career (there is no possible way to top Rocky) as Freddy Heflin, the sloppy tub of a sherrif in charge of Cop Land (aka Garrison, NJ). When city cop Murray “Superboy” Babitch (Michael Rapaport is never less than perfect. Ever.) goes missing after a dubious traffic incident, Internal Affairs agent Moe Tilden (Robert De Niro) looks to Freddy for help. Lame duck Freddy has a bum ear and a dim bulb demeanor that may threaten to gum up Tilden’s op, but the way Mangold unfolds his tale is careful and astounding. Sure, Mr. M has made some shit since then, but he also made Walk the Line, which kicked effing ass (starring everyone’s favorite actor turned jackass, Joaquin Phoenix). The ensemble cast in Cop Land fills in every possible gap to create a feeling that the film could have been based on a true story, and the pseudo throwback fashion, cars and references make the film even more realistic. And Annabella Sciorra can melt even the hardest heart with simply a smile (I just swooned a little). Cop Land is a true blue American western classic that any film lover should be proud to own.

A transpositional experiment: If the film were to be made as a traditional western 50 years ago, who would have been cast in the key roles?
Freddy Heflin:
1997-Sylvester Stallone
1960-Robert Mitchum

Moe Tilden:
1997-Robert De Niro
1960-John Wayne or Randolph Scott

Ray Donlan:
1997-Harvey Keitel
1960-Lee Marvin (though I would have loved to see JW give a bad guy turn just once, and this would have been some role to chew on.)

Gary Figgis:
1997-Ray Liotta
1960-Eli Wallach

Murray Babitch:
1997-Michael Rapaport
1960-Michael Rapaport (you didn’t know? MR can travel through time at will. He’s that good.)

Liz Randone:
1997-Annabella Sciorra
1960- Who else? Claudia Cardinale

21 September 2010

Hollywoodland

directed by Allen Coulter

Allen Coulter’s movie about old Hollywood and its myriad players is a quietly riveting piece of film. Adrian Brody is stellar as down on his luck private eye, Louis Simo, disgraced snoop for hire who is charged with uncovering the murky truth behind the alleged suicide of George Reeves, television’s Superman (and the gold standard for the comic hero to this day). As Simo makes his way through the star studded jungle, Coulter unfolds the tale of Reeves and his struggle to reconcile his desires with his professional image. Hollywoodland is solid filmmaking, and the story is enthralling and earnest. Diane Lane is a fragile and sincere revelation as Toni, wife of Eddie Mannix and sugar mama to Reeves. It’s old Hollywood sans the nostalgia, yet respectful of the tracks it laid for us. It’s too bad Coulter has since been submerged in television, and it’s too badder that he resurfaced to the world of film with the tacky pap nightmare, Remember Me (ugh). Despite such atrocities as Gigli, Bounce, Daredevil, Paycheck, yeesh, I’ll just stop there, but my point is that even though he has done some things that are less than good, Ben Affleck has the ability to gives us performances like the one he delivers here, and he has the ability to knock us out with his directing talent. Give The Town or Gone, Baby Gone a watch for evidence of Affleck’s tremendous talents. 

20 September 2010

The Town

directed by Ben Affleck

When he wants to, Ben Affleck can put on one hell of a show. Good Will Hunting (acting). Armageddon (acting, and I dare you to disagree, haters!). Hollywoodland (acting, with a vengeance). Shit, even Kevin Smith was onto something when he (through his iconic Jay) declared that Ben was the bomb in Phantoms (he was right, and Liev Schrieber was also spectacular in that b film gem). He also had a kickass name in Phantoms, btw. In Gone, Baby Gone, Affleck showed us that he could very well have the directing chops necessary to go places. In The Town, BA is totally BA both behind the camera and in front of it, creating a realistically tension filled crime drama that vehemently resists cliché (until the end, which I can forgive). Affleck is bad friggin ass as Doug, brains behind a gang of robbers that don’t fuck around. When one of his crew nabs bank manager Claire (the ever amazing Rebecca Hall) as a hostage, it’s up to Doug to track her every move and see if she is a liability. The problem is that Doug develops a thing for Claire that threatens to implode the crew and his chances to get out of Charlestown. Jeremy Renner is a gritty, glowing mess as Jem, who will hold court in the street before doing another stint in the clink. Renner can rage internally like no one’s business (see The Hurt Locker, immediately), a true joy to watch onscreen, and Affleck regulars Slaine and Titus Welliver make tremendous acting look effortless. Peter Postelwaithe and Chris Cooper should be proud of their Duvall-esque turns in The Town, making very much of very little, and holy shit, Blake Lively! You need to show us more of that, all the time. Affleck even co wrote the screenplay with Peter Craig, and it seems that, while little Affleck may have inherited the stronger acting gene, Benjamin Geza (yep, I just middle named BA) here has the crazy directing skills that demonstrate all the qualities of an already strong filmmaker who will only grow stronger with time.

P.S. Is “Go fuck yourself” the official saying of South Boston?

19 September 2010

Affleck lets the cat out...

Well, Casey Affleck spilled the beans, and he can say all he wants about it not being a quote hoax, unquote, but he is spot on about one thing: JP does give the performance of his career, which is truly saying something. I knew it. Hell, we all knew it wasn't real, because the possibility of all those close to him allowing this to happen would have been absurd, frightening, and just plain mean. Phoenix is apparently back to looking at scripts and future prospects, and personally I'm glad to have him back in the game. Let's just hope that JP doesn't go all Heath Ledger on us. What? Come on, don't give me that "too soon" face, you jerks!

The beans Affleck spilled:
Awkwardback, the sequel:

16 September 2010

The Fighter (the new David O. Russell film)

I'm excited. O. Russell and Wahlberg make a great team.

The Fighter, due out in December.

Azur et Asmar

directed by Michel Ocelot

Michel Ocelot’s fairy tale is a winner in a lot of ways: the story is charming and earnest, the animation is so lush at times that it completely overshadows the elements of the film that lag a bit, and it is captivating, pure and simple. Ocelot has delved into a variety of animated mediums, from silhouette to cutout to traditional, so it stands to reason that Ocelot would utilize the ever improving realm of computer generated imagery at some point. The fairy tale is a whimsical and heartfelt story of two boys raised by an Arabic woman named Jenane, Asmar’s mother and nurse to son of nobility, Azur. The boys bicker and quarrel like true brothers, and even after time and geography have put the boys in very different places, they both long to achieve the same goal: to free and wed the Djinn Fairy of their mother’s tales. Ocelot goes for a more realistic approach instead of the often cartoonish depiction of humans found in even the finest CGI works (The Incredibles, for example), which pays off at points, but seems odd in others. But that doesn’t matter when such lavish detail in the form of the bird with the rainbow plumage, Jenane’s home and the Djinn Fairy’s fortress wash over you like candy coated dreamscapes. In some ways it is as moving as Iranian visionary Akbar Sadeghi’s animated masterpiece, Malek Korshid (Wholphin, Issue 1. Watch it now.), and anything that Michel Ocelot endeavors to complete will more than likely be something worth watching, Azur et Asmar ranks up there with his amazing Kirikou and the Sorceress. Get in the zone before you check it out.

15 September 2010

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

directed by Oliver Stone

Mr. ‘Heavy-handed motifs, imagery and theme’ himself, Oliver Stone pummels us with the significance of time (look at all those clocks!) in his long anticipated (has it really been that anticipated?) Wall Street sequel. Money Never Sleeps finds iconic Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas finds the slick shit core of his former award winning personae) loosed from the clink with a new book in tow that, get this, predicts the market crash of a few years ago. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the film takes place in 1998, and the script by Allan Loeb and Steven Schiff bets the bank that we are all still raw about said crash. This bet is probably a safe one, and a tidy little stock market drama chock full of complicated, fast spoken jargon, fancy suits and evil corporate types will make for a crowd pleaser no matter how you slice it. What is noteworthy, however, is Shia LaBeouf’s remarkable performance as Jacob Moore, engaged to Gekko’s daughter (Carey Mulligan did very much with very little in this boy’s club of a film) and enamored with Gekko’s smooth operations. Nice work, LaBeouf. You just showed us that you got chops, kid. I won’t give anything away, except that all involved gave excellent performances that hit all the targets, especially Eli Wallach and Frank Langella. Josh Brolin shakes off the dim bulb Dubs routine from W. (yuck) and intimidates like a champ as the worse guy in a room full of bad guys. If you loved you some Wall Street, then this sequel has got your name on it. Just make sure you wear a helmet to protect yourself from all that symbolism Stone tries to hit you over the head with.

Machete

directed by Robert Rodriguez

If there’s one thing we can all learn from Robert Rodriguez’s second obivous foray into the grindhouse realm, it’s that RR knows what works and refuses to deviate. He’s like Chuck Berry or Little Richard when it comes to blood and guts action extravaganzas, so much so that I was surprised that I didn’t see at least one leg fling gundown, in the spirit of El Mariachi, Desperado, From Dusk til Dawn, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and so on. Shit, I think I even remember one in The Faculty. Doesn’t matter, because RR knows how to entertain an auditorium of bloodthirsty twenty-somethings. Other critics clutching at straws have tried to find some sort of commentary on social policy, political vision and dystopian predictions of our nation’s future, which is as ridiculous as saying that Hot Tub Time Machine was a philosophical musing on existential causality. There’s no moral here, cousin! There’s just good, old fashioned ball busting, blood spattering and, you guessed it, machete wielding fun that will captivate the delinquent in all of us. Doesn’t hurt that cult slash B film icons like Jeff Fahey commit to roles that seem as developed as blueprints sketched on a cocktail napkin during a bender. Danny Trejo can still scare the shit out of me even in his 60s, and wow, did Michelle Rodriguez just not annoy me for once? Now that’s achievement, RR.

Official Stance: It’s no Planet Terror, not by a long shot, but what the hell? RR has a formula, like Maroon 5, and it hasn’t failed him yet. If it’s substance you seek, go back and watch QT’s Death Proof for your fix of the thinking person’s grindhouse film. I will, however, be disappointed if RR actually makes the sequels he promises during the closing credits. 

14 September 2010

Jurassic Park

directed by Steven Spielberg

At least there are some JPs out there that remain reliably stellar throughout the years. Steven Spielberg spared no expense when he decided to blend classic live action effects, advanced stop motion techniques and uber modern CGI to bring to life the best dinosaur film ever, Jurassic Park, which is on par with Jaws in terms of sheer extraordinary entertainment value and enjoyability. A crew of experts trapped in a wildlife preserve with dinosaurs hell bent on munching up some human flesh. What’s not to like? Jeff Goldblum perfects his so very Goldblumy delivery as Ian Malcom, chaotician and ladies man who thinks the whole operation is a rape of the natural world. Sam Neill is stoic and reliable as Dr. Grant, the guy we can all root for and the character who “learns the most about himself” throughout the film. Jurassic Park rocks, from the great John Williams score to the badass special effects (the CGI in the film still holds its own!) to the amazing story itself, penned by wiz of the modern sci-fi drama, Michael Crichton (RIP). And look, another righteous Sam Jackson role! Whether you’re 8 or 48, Jurassic Park will always do the trick, a family favorite that has no rival in terms of content, style and scope.

13 September 2010

I'm Still Here

directed by Casey Affleck

While big brother Ben has mad skills behind the camera, Casey Affleck’s directorial debut is less than award worthy. In fact, if the film is as real as Affleck’s doc subject Joaquin Phoenix claims it is, then Affleck may need to think about straightening out his priorities. I’m Still Here chronicles the recent tragedy that is Joaquin Phoenix’s (JP, if you want to throw around his hip hop name) professional career, and Affleck (Phoenix’s bro in law, btw) apparently seeks to stitch together the actor’s worst possible moments to punctuate the flaming wreckage of his “career move.” It’s no secret that Phoenix announced a few years ago that he was retiring from acting to pursue his true passion, rap music (trust me, your facial expression right now pales in comparison to Sean Combs when JP plays him his demo), but despite rumors and allegations that the move was all a hoax cooked up by the duo, Phoenix vehemently defends his actions throughout the film. Add strangely humorous and perfectly ridiculous interactions with other Hollywood pros to the mix (especially Ben Stiller and Edward James Olmos), and you end up with quite a problem for old JP. The problem is that, if the film is a joke meant to lampoon celebrity egomania and vacuous Hollywood culture, Andy Kaufman style, then it falls short because it’s far too inside of a joke and inconsistent in terms of taste (the hookers, the Anton as rat sequence). At least with Kaufman the joke was, however convoluted it may have been, perceivable. In I’m Still Here, it’s too over the top, and Phoenix staunchly denying the hoax claims renders the whole point essentially moot. How can he come back now and say “Ha ha. We got you,” and more importantly, who will care? This brings us to the more frightening possibility (of which I was and still am skeptical) that it is serious, in which case Affleck, instead of documenting this tailspin, should have acted like a good brother in law and tried to help JP by bringing him back to reality. Because let’s face it: Phoenix sucks as a rapper, and I cite both the gem he played for Combs called (I assume) “Complifuckincations,” or the hook from his Miami show in which he spits “After all these years, I ain’t scared. Never fear, I don’t even fear fuckin’ fear.” Maybe it’s denial, but I still thought I spotted an ironic glint in JP’s eye every now and again, but it still doesn’t change the fact that whatever Affleck and Phoenix hoped to say with this film has fallen through the cracks in a doc that, like the possible hoax, went on for too long with, ultimately, nothing to show for it. The one sheet kicks ass, though.

Hoax? Or filmic black box recording the final days of a great acting talent crashing into the metaphorical mountains? What do you think? (I made to sure to specify that I am speaking metaphorically, Mr. P, so you don’t get confused.)

09 September 2010

Wall Street

directed by Oliver Stone

Most Oliver Stone films are, well, perhaps vehement is the word I am looking for. Like it or not, Stone’s supercharged zeal and fire and brimstone filmic suspicion reached its zenith in such paranoid treasures as JFK, Alexander and Natural Born Killers, but a chance to see an early Oliver Stone flexing his optimism takes the form of Wall Street. Charlie Sheen broods like a champ as Bud Fox, aspiring yuppie and fanboy of Mr. Gordon Gekko (a slick shit and badass Michael Douglas). Gekko has made millions by moving money all over the universe, but whether it’s legit is the tough question that Bud must grapple with. It’s an 80s yuppie movie from the 80s, complete with a wired John C. McGinley and James Spader, and Stone tries really hard to give the film an uplifting arc, but he seems out of his element when he tries to wax hopeful. Delicate has rarely been a term used to describe Stone’s films, and his weakest films tend to be the ones where he tries to “understand” or “sympathize” with a person or concept (such was the case with the wildly vanilla W.). I have been watching and thinking about Wall Street for some time now, waiting with bated breath for his long overdue sequel. Shia LaBeouf better be practicing his version of “I was doing any better, I’d be guilty.”

08 September 2010

Blade

directed by Stephen Norrington

Some motherfuckers are always trying to ice skate uphill. Thus spake Blade, unleashing one of the most stellar lines in film history, right up there with “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid,” or “Rosebud.” Most of David S. Goyer and Stephen Norrington's film is less than classic, but the concept is novel enough to keep you in your seat. A modern vampire film in the spirit of The Lost Boys and Near Dark, Blade was based on the comic of the same name, a comic about a vampire-hunting vampire. Yes, it’s very Dexter-ish, I know, but Wesley Snipes finds in the title character the role he was made for, even better than his turn in Demolition Man. Kris Kristofferson looks like a Predator with its helmet off, but he kicks ass as Whistler, vamp hunter and father figure to Blade. And you can’t spell B movie without the letters D O R and F, and another F. Steven Dorff has made even the cruddiest crud just a bit less crappy, from The Gate (in which he stabbed the hell out of that eye hand he developed) to FeardotCom (ugh) to Deuces Wild. When he and Christian Slater shared screen time in Alone in the Dark, it was like two B film Jedis battling each other using only the force. But I digress… Blade plays a vampiric hybrid, unaffected by sunlight and not immortal, yet possessing the superhuman strength of his blood sucking relatives. Unfortunately for him, Blade shares the same lust for blood. Uh oh, he’s like Ryan Gosling from The Believer, minus all the swastikas. Blade is awesome because it goes for it, just like Daybreakers did, and just like The Lost Boys did. All aspiring filmmakers want to make the next Maltese Falcon or Vanishing Point or The 400 Blows, but hell, I’d be happy with a Blade under my belt any day of the week. 
BTW: Is it true? is Stephen Norrington going to be directing a remake of The Crow? And is Nick Cave really going to pen the screenplay?

07 September 2010

Slackers

directed by Dewey Nicks

In the hands of Dewey Nicks, David H. Steinberg’s twisted tale of academia gone berserk is so overwhelmingly genius that it simply dwarves all other contemporary comedies until the last 30% of this decade. Slackers is the kind of film that is too far ahead of its time, so much so that it is misunderstood, then forgotten for too long before its relevance can be truly appreciated. The Cable Guy? Zoolander? Yeah, buddy. Devin Sowa is Dave Goodman, who, along with buddies Jeff (a fantastic Michael Maronna) and Sam (Jason Segel is straight up amazing) make a living out of scamming the system. But when Dave gets the hots for Angela (James King), her screwball stalker, Ethan (one of Jason Schwarztman’s very best roles) has few tricks up his sleeve to gum up the works. I remember another critic likening the movie to a David Lynch film, and surely the talking penis puppet sing along sequence doesn’t hurt the comparison, but the bottom line is that Slackers is a comedy from the future, sent back like Michael Biehn in Terminator to save humankind from a world of bland humor. If you missed this tragically snubbed comedy classic, then give it a shot. If you vaguely remember it, then go refresh that ass. If you love it as much as me, then congrats, mon ami, because you have truly exquisite taste.

Note: Let’s just recap a few of the other comedy gems that came out the same year.
Austin Powers: Goldmember
Mr. Deeds
The fucking Tuxedo
Van Wilder
The New Guy (wtf?)
Sweet Home Alabama
I won’t go on… But do you see what Slackers was up against? Of course it was lost in the shitty shuffle. Imagine, if you will, Slacker’s reception as being the exact opposite of when Michael J. Fox played Johnny B. Goode at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance.

06 September 2010

Escape from L.A.

directed by John Carpenter

John Carpenter has long been a master of the ridiculous, and his films are the cream of the B movie crop. Big Trouble in Little China. Vampires. They effing Live! If Carpenter made it, then it probably kicks a ton of ass, and it may even be an A movie classic (like Halloween, pour instance). Perhaps his most ridiculous, and therefore most inspired film may very well be the sequel to his epically awesome Escape from New York. Kurt Russell rocks the eye patch one more time and answers to the name Snake Plissken. Snake has to rescue the First Daughter and retrieve a detonator that could totally fuck shit up on a global scale. To make sure he does the job, the Feds plant some wickedness inside him that will ghost his ass in 9 hours if he can’t get the job done. How can he turn down an offer as sweet as that? Probably the high point in the film (beside the full court shootout) is when Snake encounters a cosmic hippie, played by the iconic Easy Rider, Peter Fonda. Escape is always righteous, and always stupefyingly entertaining.

A moment to beg: Please, please, please, Mr. C. Please make another Escape from film before Kurt Russell is too old. Send him back in time to the present day, and just call it Escape from Detroit. The plot: Snake must help a young exotic dancer with sensitive info about the corruption of the city’s political body escape from the Manoogian Mansion before the mayor has her axed. I can guarantee that our old friend Mr. Kilpatrick would love to act as an expert consultant on the subject matter, and Michigan’s tax incentives for filmmakers have never been better (hint, hint).

05 September 2010

Happy B Day to you, Mr. Herzog.

A few happy folks wanted to send you birthday wishes.


Just look at all those smiling faces. We love you, Mr. H. Never change.

The Perfect Storm

directed by Wolfgang Peterson


If being sick makes you more susceptible to getting all weepy at sappy sentimentality, then keep that Kleenex box close at hand. Just make sure that if you are rocking the lotion infused tissues designed to prevent your nose from wanting to kill itself, avoid getting that lotion in your eyes. It stings. But have something ready to soak up those tears as you abandon rational thought and feast your wounded heart on this testament to the Romance of the sea. Wolfgang Peterson has made enough legitimate classics (Das Boot, In the Line of Fire) to make this film seem better than it really is, and the cast deliver top notch performances. George Clooney is superb as Billy Tyne, captain of a fishing boat that gets caught in (you guessed it) the perfect storm. You can almost see weatherman Chris McDonald’s thoughts as he watches the storm on his meteorological computer at the news station. “Look at that storm. Look at how perfect it is.” John C. Reilly is fantastic as Murph, and Mark Wahlberg rules as Bobby. John Hawkes rocks as Bugsy, as does Diane Lane and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio . And the always amazing, always underrated William Fichtner nails the role of Sully. Listen, it’s based on a damn true story, that’s why all the names are so ridiculous! If you need a little pick me up after this tear inducer, be sure to journey back to Peterson’s strange children’s film, The NeverEnding Story, featuring a stunningly topless sphinx-esque sculpture that shoots lasers from its eyes. Remember the proportions on that thing? Remember watching that scene with your family and thinking “I’m totally getting away with this!” I guess we had to learn about the fairer sex somewhere. Don’t get caught staring, Atreyu.

04 September 2010

Get a load of this...

I am simultaneously horrified, disgusted, and oh, so overjoyed that we live in a time when something like this is possible. It's a real feast for the senses, this gem. Long live Rutger Hauer.

Here it is. The, get this, trailer for Hobo with a Shotgun!

Thanks, little brother.

Twister

directed by Jan de Bont

Jan de Bont is most well known for his cinematographic achievements, most notably the 80s section of his CV. Cujo, Die Hard, Flatliners (ok, that’s a 1990 film, but it has all the usual 80s suspects and thematic trappings), de Bont knows how to work the darkness. I can forgive Speed by virtue of Twister, but there’s no excuse for Speed 2: Cruise Control. For shame, Mr. de Bont. Anyway, in Bill vs. the Tornado, my favorite used car salesman slash actor, Bill Paxton, plays Bill Harding. Old Bill is smitten with Star from The Lost Boys (that’s Jami Gertz) and has a cushy weatherman gig all lined up, if he could just get his kind of flaky, storm chasing junkie ex (Helen Hunt, on the verge of annoying me, as always) to sign the divorce papers. Sprinkle in an early Jeremy Davies, an intensely ridiculous (and believable, btw) P. H. Hoffman, a nerdy Alan Ruck, a half dozen cyclones and shoot, you got yerself a dang old picture show. If you are jonesing for a few “aw shucks” Paxton style quips, or just need to see another film where Cary Elwes is a pompous ass, then Twister has got your number, baby. If you’re looking for a little remedy for that under the weather feeling that has you in bed with a hot water bottle and a thermometer lodged in an orifice, Twister is just the thing for those cosmic aches and pains. Take one and call me in the morning.

03 September 2010

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

directed by John Hughes

Certainly not the same kind of sick day you may be having if you’re horizontal on the couch watching this John Hughes gem, but it sure as hell is the sick day you wish you could be having. The voice of grown up Simba is superb as Mr. Bueller, the coolest kid school with the hottest girl and the most neurotic bf. The trio lives it up in downtown Chicago, all the while being pursued by the wily principal Rooney (Jeffrey Jones, who was awesome in Ravenous, btw). It’s a quintessential Hughes teen film (are there any other kind?) chock full of all the things you never experienced but wish you had. Mia Sara is sublime as Sloane, and Alan Ruck is phobia addled perfection as Cameron. The soundtrack is totally boss, and even minor characters like Jennifer Grey and Charlie Sheen share an electricity that endures.  It’s so choice.

02 September 2010

Independence Day

directed by Roland Emmerich

Roland Emmerich’s star spangled sci fi treat is certainly not shitty, but let’s not be so hasty and say it a monument to film perfection. It's definitely his best gluttonously insane budget action spectacular, it’s totally awesome, and the cast brings their A game. But film has some shaky elements in it, elements that I am more than willing to overlook, especially when I’m curled up beneath three blankets and sucking on a Halls with mentho-lyptus. This tale about hostile ETs coming to our world hoping to fuck some shit up (and on our damn holiday!) is thrilling, funny, engaging, and an all around crowd pleaser. What’s not to like? ID4 came out when Will Smith was the undisputed king of the summer blockbuster, and supporting talent like Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox, Mary McDonnell, Bill Pullman, Randy Quaid and Brett Spiner fill out their characters beautifully. Shining brightest of all is Jeff Goldblum, whose uniquely splendid delivery, perfected in the truly classic Jurassic Park, crystallizes to enormously entertaining effect in ID4. Hell, even that fake Keanu Reeves older brother type was okay in my book. This film is a winner no matter how you slice it, and it will always perk you up when you need it most. 

01 September 2010

Total Recall

directed by Paul Verhoeven

My recent bout avec influenza has got me thinking of all those amazing filmic comfort foods that we devour during our sick days. I’m not talking about the fake voice calling the boss so you can hopefully catch a glimpse of Miley Cyrus at Panera Bread kind of sick day. I’m talking about the body feels like you got stomped Rick James style by the Murphy brothers and you have to post up on the couch with pills and water kind of sick day. And it’s days like that when we all need our comfort films, shit great cinematic treasures that warm us up like chicken soup. One of the finest examples of such filmic fare is Paul Verhoeven’s sci fi spectacle, Total Recall, complete with a host of ridiculous mutants, aliens, government secrets and an Arnold smack dab in the middle of the mess. Schwarzenegger is Douglas Quaid, a regular Joe construction worker with Mars on the brain and Sharon Stone in the bedroom. Quaid heads to a company called Recall to have a virtual vacay uploaded into his melon, and that’s where things go batshit. Virtual memories? Mars? Vacays? It sounds so futuristic! Verhoeven’s films seem shockingly similar to one another, that slick slime sans a conscience kind of vision that permeates Robocop, Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers and this fair gem. I’m indignant that this film can boast of being nominated for an Academy Award (it was just for sound, but still), but it is, sadly, one of The Governator’s finest “serious” roles. For some bizarre reason, I personally like Arnold in his comedic films, like Twins and Kindergarten Cop, as shitty as both of those films were. Total Recall does, however, satisfy that sick curiosity inside us all that asks, “what if Arnold’s eyes got even bigger?” And poor Ronny Cox. How far they fall. Total Recall is perfect for a sick day, the first half of an Arnie double feature with Commando or The Running Man. Good medicine.