"We're still at war, Plissken. We need him alive."

"I don't give a fuck about your war... or your president."

Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

In Fabric

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

IN FABRIC is a unique little movie – a horror film that’s not exactly serious, but not adverse to making its absurd premise work; a comedy too, but dry as freshly folded laundry. It’s primarily an exercise in style, a period piece exalting the golden era of Italian horror with its slender beauties and very good retro score – more proggy than the synthy stuff everybody is doing now – by somebody called “Cavern of Anti-Matter.” It fetishizes retail fashion, taking place in and around the women’s department at a ritzy London department store, frequently featuring montages of (and a nightmare about) catalog models, having its characters repeatedly make small talk about “the sales,” and whether each other found anything good to buy. And of course mannequins. Lots of mannequins the look like people and people that look like mannequins.

And it’s about a killer dress. (read the rest of this shit…)

Ballistic

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

BALLISTIC (no relation to ECKS VS. SEVER) is a 1995 DTV joint that I bought after seeing it on Michael Jai White’s filmography, right before his breakout role in TYSON, and after the Don “The Dragon” Wilson movie RING OF FIRE 3: LION STRIKE. He’s thirteenth-billed on its IMDb page so I figured he’d just be standing with his arms folded behind the bad guy in one scene, but I was intrigued enough by the rest of the cast to order a copy on VHS.

The star is Marjean Holden (SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 4: INITIATION, Sheeva in MORTAL KOMBAT: ANNIHILATION) as Jesse Gavin, who seems to be a prostitute in the opening scene, until it’s revealed that she’s undercover. She’s trying to bust some limousine-riding creep after selling him a bag of coke, and has to break off her heels to chase him down an alley.

During the pursuit she accidentally pulls her firearm on an old timey stereotype of a bag lady (Rosie Taravella, flight attendant on a three-parter of Who’s the Boss?), allowing the bad guy to sneak up on her and knock the gun out of her hand. When she’s done beating him up, the homeless lady is holding the gun, covering her, and helps carry the unconscious suspect in her shopping cart, before declaring “You know what you are, sweetie? You’re ballistic!”

Unfortunately we already saw the title fired onto the screen earlier, we don’t get it there, but the awkwardly titular dialogue is still appreciated. (read the rest of this shit…)

Color Out of Space

Monday, February 24th, 2020

COLOR OF OUTER SPACE is last year’s comeback film for Richard Stanley, known for not directing THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU. Working on a lower budget with the cool production company SpectreVision (MANDY, A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT) he was able this time to successfully achieve his weird literary adaptation dreams without ever having to hide out in a rain forest disguised as a dog man.

This one’s based on H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space,” originally published in a 1927 issue of Amazing Stories, and it opens with a young woman in a cape with a white horse performing an occult ritual. Nice trick – I assumed it was a prologue in the faraway past, but it’s the modern day, and she’s just a weirdo. She’s Lavinia Gardner (Madeleine Arthur, BIG EYES), daughter of Nathan (Nic Cage, known for not starring in SUPERMAN LIVES) and Theresa (Joely Richardson, MAGGIE), who have recently moved from “the big city” (as all normal humans call their home town) to an isolated farm in Arkham, Massachusetts. They’re kind of trying to live Off the Grid, so they get their water from a well, don’t have reliable wi-fi, and are raising alpacas, “the animal of the future” according to Dad. (read the rest of this shit…)

21 Bridges

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

21 BRIDGES is a police thriller with some action. It reminds me of the kind of stuff studios made in the ‘90s, when maybe it would’ve starred Denzel or Wesley Snipes or maybe Samuel L. Jackson if he’d been offered it during that window when he could be the main character and starred in THE NEGOTIATOR. But it was made in 2019, so it stars Chadwick Boseman and is produced by his CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, AVENGERS INFINITY WAR/ENDGAME directors Joe and Anthony Russo (as well as Boseman himself).

Boseman plays Andre Davis, NYPD detective, son of a murdered cop, infamous for shooting and killing 8 perps in 9 years, but he insists they were all justified, and it’s obvious he’s the type of good guy we can trust on that. The types we can’t trust are all over the movie, and they’re obvious too.

Tonight’s Andre Davis Mystery involves two criminals, one more reasonable and moral than the other, busting into a restaurant to steal a stash of cocaine. The one guy there basically tells them they’re making a mistake, that they will die, and then willingly gives them the keys and the location of the vault. Not like he’s scared of them, more like there’s no reason to interfere, they’re not going to get away with it. (read the rest of this shit…)

True Vengeance

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

TRUE VENGEANCE is a 1997 Daniel Bernhardt movie that I bought specifically because it was written by Kurt Johnstad. I think I was looking him up because he wrote ATOMIC BLONDE, and I remembered that he was the guy who wrote 300, 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE and ACT OF VALOR. I saw all of those in the theater and liked all of them, and it turns out his only other movie is this earlier DTV one that never even came out on DVD in the U.S. It’s directed by David Worth (KICKBOXER, LADY DRAGON 1 and 2), and I think you can understand why that combination of people made it something I needed to see.

Benhardt plays Griffin, who was a Navy SEAL and then a hired killer of some kind but after the death of his wife he quit the life to take care of his daughter Emily (Tessa Sugay, “Club Girl (uncredited),” TOKYO DRIFT, “Dancer (uncredited)” THE SOCIAL NETWORK). After a brief, incoherent sniper prologue we meet him cutely joking around with his daughter pretending he doesn’t know it’s her birthday. So yes, she is going to be kidnapped.

He has an older guy he calls his best friend named Sam (Harrison Young, Ryan as an old man in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN), who I think runs a garage and kind of seems like he could be the landlord like the guy in ROAD HOUSE? He’s involved in a great bit of b-movie flavor when he’s doing a crossword puzzle, asking for a word for “something that haunts.” Griffin suggests ‘ghost,’ but Sam says it has to be four letters, and just then a scary dude named Adachi (Keo Woolford, “Airport Worker,” GODZILLA) steps in looking for Griffin, who dramatically declares that “The Griffin you knew… is dead.” (read the rest of this shit…)

Sharky’s Machine

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

Burt Reynolds is Sharky, sometimes just “Shark.” I think it’s his last name. He’s an undercover cop, seemingly beloved on the force, but he gets into trouble when a drug bust turns into a public transportation shootout after this dipshit Smiley (Darryl Hickman, THE GRAPES OF WRATH, voice of “Pac-Junior” on the Pac-Man cartoon) drives up to say hello and blows his cover. Everybody thinks it’s bullshit and calls Smiley a fuckin asshole as they whisk Sharky off to his new job in the vice squad. There’s a great bit about how that department is located in the basement and his old partner is only willing to walk him halfway down the stairs.

It’s a shitty job because you’re just busting hookers and stuff, not real bad guys. He gets to know his new co-workers, who might be lazy fuck-ups or might just be resigned to their position in life. But Mr. Supercop Sharky here is not content to settle. He finds a way to go after something big.

There’s a thing in AMERICAN GANGSTER that I think about often, where Denzel’s character Frank Lucas is able to build a heroin empire under-the-radar and blows it all by wearing a fur coat to a boxing match, causing a cop to wonder who he is. This is kind of like that – during a regular rowdy night at headquarters Sharky asks about a powerful pimp who comes in, and decides to start tracking his high class thousand-dollar-a-night escort service. (read the rest of this shit…)

Judy

Monday, February 17th, 2020

Before the 2019 awards season dissipates entirely from memory I want to get my thoughts down about one of the movies I watched. As I’ve said before, one of the reasons I like following the Oscars is to get myself to watch a few things that I wouldn’t otherwise, for a little of the ol’ BoH (Broadening of Horizons). I always bring up the example of when I had no interest in THE MISERABLES but I watched it because it was the only best picture nominee I hadn’t seen and it turned out I loved it.

This year all the best picture nominees were things I’d seen or was already planning to see. But there was one movie that I correctly guessed would be a winner that I really did not think would be my cup of tea – JUDY.

Things I had against it: Not generally a fan of biopics. Not particularly curious about the life of Judy Garland. Never really impressed by Renee Zelweger. I absolutely would not have watched this for any other reason than “Eh, she’s gonna get best actress, might as well find out if I should be mad about that or not.” (read the rest of this shit…)

Birds of Prey

Friday, February 14th, 2020

BIRDS OF PREY AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN is the movie that says “Okay, we fucked up that SUICIDE SQUAD movie, but Margot Robbie was great as Harley Quinn, right? Didn’t we kinda have something there?” And the answer is yes and yes, so luckily they gave her another movie. It’s the second feature for director Cathy Yan, whose 2018 debut DEAD PIGS takes place in Shanghai but stars Zazie Beetz. She obviously has Robbie’s pre-existing character and David Ayer’s SUICIDE SQUAD sensibilities to build off of here, but I think she makes it distinct – it feels to me like a studio hiring a promising new director to do her thing, not to follow instructions.

Formerly the abused girlfriend/sidekick of The Joker, this is the story of Harley’s life after breaking up with him. No longer enjoying the immunity provided by association with a famous psychopath boyfriend, Harley gets herself into trouble with various factions including but not limited to the gang run by Roman “Black Mask” Sionis (Ewan McGregor, MILES AHEAD, JANE GOT A GUN), police detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez, DANCE WITH THE DEVIL, Widows), somebody she punched in a roller derby bout (stuntwoman Keisha Tucker), and somebody who blames her for his face being tattooed like a clown and can’t fucking believe it when she doesn’t remember what he’s mad about (Matthew Willig, FULL CONTACT [1993], 3 FROM HELL). (read the rest of this shit…)

THE STUNTWOMAN a.k.a. AH KAM

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

We owe this review to 1-900-MIXALOT, who was kind enough to recommend THE STUNTWOMAN in the comments for SUPERCOP. I found it at Scarecrow Video under the title AH KAM. I’m sure it’s not easy to come by, but as I write this there’s one copy available for $30 on Amazon, so it’s not unobtanium.

Like all right thinking citizens of the world I revere Michelle Yeoh as a superstar of martial arts films, and also respect her great gravitas as a dramatic actress. I don’t think there’s anyone else who is iconic on the level of Jet Li and Donnie Yen in kung fu films, but also has Yeoh’s level of success in non-action drama roles (including English language ones like SUNSHINE, CRAZY RICH ASIANS and Star Trek: Discovery). THE STUNTWOMAN is a 1996 Hong Kong film, her followup to WING CHUN, that bridges those two worlds. I definitely consider it a drama, not an action movie, but because she plays the titleistical stuntwoman we see her doing some of the good shit, and she also has one very satisfying opportunity to bust out a little bit of kung fu on some motherfuckers. (read the rest of this shit…)

Rabid

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

Maybe it’s sacrilege to remake a David Cronenberg movie, but if somebody’s gonna do it it’s fitting that it’s weird Canadian twins. I really liked Jen and Sylvia Soska’s extreme-surgery underworld tale AMERICAN MARY, and kind of liked their SEE NO EVIL 2. And it’s been a long time since I’ve seen Cronenberg’s 1977 RABID, so I don’t remember it well enough to have any specific expectations for a redo.

This RABID is about Rose (Laura Vandervoort, THE LOOKOUT, INTO THE BLUE 2: THE REEF), a lowly employee for a pretentious, obnoxious, and on-the-nose-German-accented fashion designer named Gunter (Mackenzie Gray, JOY RIDE 2: DEAD AHEAD, Legion, WARCRAFT, MAN OF STEEL, True Justice). In tribute to the original’s motorcycle she rides a scooter.

It’s one of those things where they cast an unusually beautiful TV star to play an awkward misfit who everybody picks on, the excuse I guess being that her co-workers are supposed to be mostly models. I had a hard time watching adults act out these teen movie tropes such as the ol’ ’getting mad when she finds out the cute boy only asked her out as a favor to someone who feels sorry for her’ and of course the ‘overhearing the mean girls talk shit about her when they don’t know she’s in the bathroom stall.’ Maybe it’s meant as a satirical statement about the fashion industry to make them this petty and childish, but it feels phony to me. (read the rest of this shit…)