Okay, first off, this is not a fair review. I didn’t go into this thing in good faith. I never thought there was a possibility I would genuinely like this movie. So don’t think I’m trying to be objective here. But I’ve been getting emails and comments for months asking me to review this sequel to a movie I hated, and there’s a hell of a conversation going on in the comments for my review of the first one. And to be honest I was strangely excited to see it. It just sounded so insane, and as a fan and scholar of the summer blockbuster movie maybe it was important that I see it, just like I saw MY GIANT for the sake of Seagalogy. Whatever my excuse is, the same guy who got me into the first one for free hooked me up for this one too. So your wish is my command. (read the rest of this shit…)
Archive for June, 2009
It’s not like there’s anything new that needs to be pointed out about Michael Jackson, but I can’t think about anything else. Over the years I’ve spun off on many tangents about his talent, his fascinating persona and the tragic circumstances of his life, so it’s nothing really new except for the unhappy ending, the lid put on my dreams of what could happen next. But maybe putting it into words again will help me accept that this has really happened. (read the rest of this shit…)
If you didn’t hear yet, they are reporting that Michael Jackson died. Michael was a true genius and you guys know how much I always dreamed and speculated about the great things he could still do. Well it looks like I’ll miss out on that. I’m devastated about this news so forgive me if I don’t get those reviews I promised up for a bit, I can’t really think about that shit right now.
I meant to put this review up months ago when DERBY was new on DVD, but I lost it or something. I bet you didn’t know it came out or that it existed anyway so let’s pretend it’s real timely.
DERBY is a 1971 documentary that you think is gonna be about roller derby. In the locker room team captain Charlie O’Connell talks to a young guy who wants to join the derby and keeps bragging that he can do a handspring on skates. The young guy is Mike Snell, 23 year-old of Dayton, Ohio, father of one, wearer of sunglasses, seems to think he’s James Dean. The cameras follow Mike to his wife, who is very supportive of his plan to quit his job at the tire factory and head to San Francisco for 6 weeks of training that he has to take before he can even try out. Obviously this is gonna be like THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, he’s gonna pull himself up by the rollerskate straps or whatever. Or at least it’ll follow him as he learns the ropes and at the end he’ll try out and we’ll see if he achieves his dream or not. (read the rest of this shit…)
So we got this French director Alexandre Aja who I think of as one of the good ones, but to tell you the truth he’s more potential than actual achievement at this point. When I read that he wanted to do WOLVERINE, or when I thought about they could’ve hired him for CONAN or FRIDAY THE 13TH instead of Marcus Nispel, I imagine these great movies I think he could’ve made. But this is just based on the chops he showed in HIGH TENSION before the stupid twist derailed the whole thing, and on how much I like his HILLS HAVE EYES remake. But even that has that scene where the “Big Brain” character makes a big speech explaining everything, which makes me cringe every time I think about it.
So I figured if I was gonna be talking this guy up I should see his other two movies and find out if he’s the real deal. His first one is a low budget French sci-fi type deal called FURIA. But here is his latest, MIRRORS, starring Kiefer Sutherland. (read the rest of this shit…)
I don’t know if you can sense it in the air or anything. It doesn’t really come until the end of the year, but this is the 20th anniversary of TANGO & CASH. To be honest I don’t think I ever saw this one before, but I wanted to see it and review it a little ahead of all the hoopla. As much as people like you and I are will to talk about TANGO & CASH all the time I’m sure eventually we’re gonna get a little worn out by all the retrospectives and parades and everything that I’m sure they’ve been planning.
So now I’ve seen it and I know TANGO & CASH is a fun but not all that great 1989 action movie that personifies (moviefies?) the excess of the ’80s, and not just because it has a monster truck in it. (read the rest of this shit…)
BIKER GANGS SAVING P.O.W.s IN VIETNAM DOUBLE FEATURE: THE LOSERS and NAM ANGELS
In THE LOSERS a Vietnam era biker gang is recruited by the American military for a dangerous mission to recover a CIA agent being held in Cambodia. I guess it’s a mission that has to be done off the books, plus it requires high speed transportation. Biker gang it is. So they build some modified combat bikes, figure out a plan, practice it on a miniature model, then go for it.
But not until the last 25 minutes or so. That’s what’s unique and (I admit) disappointing. Most of the running time is spent fucking around, getting into trouble at bars or visiting their Vietnamese girlfriends. Very little of the backstory is explained – it seems like most or all were soldiers before, but it’s not clear how or why they came back. They don’t show them being tracked down in the U.S. and pressured to join. They’re already on board at the beginning. (read the rest of this shit…)
From the director of ENTER THE DRAGON comes Jim Kelly as BLACK BELT JONES. Black Belt Jones is a cool, afro-sporting karate expert and sometimes government agent. He doesn’t have any other first name, but you can call him “B.B.” if you want. He tries to stay out of conflicts but then a crime lord named Pinky (Malik Carter) kills the owner of the karate school, Poppa “Pops” Byrd (Scatman Crothers). The government or somebody wants the land, so the mafia pushes Pinky, so Pinky is after the karate school. Pops wills it to a daughter nobody knew about named Sydney (Gloria Hendry from BLACK CAESAR), they use threats and kidnapping to try to force her to give it over, Black Belt helps out, etc.
Obviously it’s a silly movie and at times it’s sloppy, but it has many of the funny and absurd types of moments I look for in a movie like this. A couple of my favorites:
1. Robert Clouse’s directing credit is over a freeze frame of Black Belt aiming his gun at a dude who’s running away. When it unfreezes the bullet hits the guy in the ass. (read the rest of this shit…)
(you can skip down 4 paragraphs if you’re sick of me reiterating my stance on horror remakes)
Let me get my biases out of the way for any newcomers. I got a grudge against Michael Bay’s horror-recycling outfit Platinum Dunes and director Marcus Nispel for what they did to TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. I don’t think they understand what made these movies good in the first place. The producers (pictured left) talk a good game about being horror fans, but it doesn’t show. These movies seem like they’re made by cynical used car salesman douchebags who think horror is an easy genre to do and don’t give a shit if their movies are even watchable as long as they have enough sweaty people to show in the trailer and a title that sounds vaguely familiar enough to teenagers that they’ll pay money to see it on the opening weekend. It’s basically a scam, a mathematical equation to make short-term money with a movie most people will never want to see again. If they could do that with just a poster and not even have to make a movie they would do that too. Or if it was that profitable to sell bootleg t-shirts or engraved watches or something. They don’t give a shit.
On the other hand, they have pretty cinematography.
I’m the type of dude that pays to see all kinds of horror movies that I know I shouldn’t. But I got fed up enough with the Platinum Dunes remake spree that even though I wanted to see this one pretty bad I restrained myself and waited for video. I had to stop being one of the marks who keep them in business. They already got NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET on the hit list, ready to re-imagine it with extreme prejudice. I can’t stop the fuckers but at least I can divest my money from their dirty business and keep my soul clean.
I want you to know all that up front, but in all honesty I think I’m more open to a movie like this than alot of people. I like several of the horror remakes that everybody hates (most recently I thought LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT remake was pretty good) and I actually think a Jason so-called reboot is not a bad idea. I never had a problem with calling it “FRIDAY THE 13TH” but skipping over part 1 and just doing a new Jason movie, and I got real tired of people whining about that. Nobody wants to see a remake of part 1 and pretend they don’t know who the killer is. No, if they’re gonna start over I prefer they do it this way, start with the bag on his head and move on to the hockey mask. (read the rest of this shit…)
No joke, BLACK DYNAMITE won the Golden Space Needle Award, which is the top audience award at the Seattle International Film Festival. It joins such notable past winners as KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN, MY LIFE AS A DOG, BAGDAD CAFE, THE WEDDING BANQUET, TRAINSPOTTING and WHALE RIDER. And, uh, PUMP UP THE VOLUME.
Not to brag or anything but I gave it the highest rating when I voted, so I am partially responsible. Also it was the only movie I bothered to see at the festival this year, which means I pick ’em well. Congratulations to everybody involved, especially star/co-writer Michael Jai White and director/co-writer/one-time-outlawvern.com-commenter Scott Sanders.