I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

The Big Boss (aka Fists of Fury)

tn_bigbossbruceleeiconTHE BIG BOSS would be a good one to watch on Labor Day, because it’s a scathing indictment of corruption within the Chinese ice industry. About time somebody blew the lid off that shit. Cheng (Bruce M.F. Lee) gets a job loading big blocks of ice, which the workers don’t realize have bags of coke inside (even though they saw one of the bags when one of the blocks broke open. But this was a more naive time). The foremen are extra-abusive, slapping people around and shit. To be frankly honest I think these particular workers are a bunch of whiners who don’t seem to work very hard, but they’re right to stand up for their rights when a co-worker gets hit or goes missing.

Unfortunately Cheng can’t really do anything because you know how it is when you wear one of those medallions that reminds you you promised your late mother never to fight again. In one frustrating scene Cheng just stands around watching while a whole bunch of union-smasher types beat the hell out of his colleagues. They all think he’s an asshole for not helping, but luckily some dumb sucker accidentally tears off his medallion, and Cheng is unleashed. There’s a real good overhead shot showing him kicking out a circle of thugs that surround him. One guy he kicks so fast I had to rewind it to make sure the guy didn’t just keel over from unrelated health issues. (read the rest of this shit…)

Marlowe

tn_marloweMARLOWE is a 1969 adaptation of the Raymond Chandler story “The Little Sister” that is still not available on the DVD now available as a Warner Archive DVD. James Garner plays Philip Marlowe, as much of a wiseass as ever, but it’s a little weird because he’s a character so associated with the ’40s, and here he is in a Summer of Love era Los Angeles where the gangsters and movie stars mingle with hippies. Marlowe still wears a fedora sometimes, but he doesn’t act too retro. He fits in. And I mean he enjoys the ladies, so that’s compatible with the times. Free love and all that. (read the rest of this shit…)

Okay, okay. Let’s get this over with.

tn_seagalpaintedI didn’t think this was a big deal and didn’t want to say much about it, but I keep getting emails and comments making sure I know about this lawsuit against Chief Seagal. So, fair enough. Alot of people seem to be interested in my thoughts so I will address the situation here.

First of all, I will cop to being an expert on Seagal’s movies. But that doesn’t mean I have any more insights into this than anybody else. I don’t know the man and I’m not even a biographer or anything, I just analyze the movies. (And albums. And beverages.)

Also, it doesn’t really change anything. Of course I would prefer that he was a nice guy, or at least a non-sex-slaver. But my interests are in his movies. Steve McQueen did some foul shit, I wouldn’t give him a humanitarian award, but he’s still awesome in movies. (read the rest of this shit…)

Disorderlies

tn_disorderliesA couple weeks ago the United States Congress finally squeaked through the Baby-Steps To Health Care Reform legislation, a bill that does several good things such as not allowing insurance companies to refuse coverage to people because of a pre-existing condition, giving tax credits to small businesses that provide health insurance for their employees, and letting kids in their twenties stay on their parents’ insurance a couple more years than before. Unfortunately, too many Democrats are in the pocket of the insurance companies and they were too insistent on bending over backwards to find every possible compromise that could conceivably tickle the fancy of a Republican (a year long torture session that netted them a grand total of zero Republican votes) so the reforms aren’t as strong as most people would like. (read the rest of this shit…)

Justified is still good

tn_justifiedWell, you guys know I’m not much of a TV watcher, but I have managed to keep up with JUSTIFIED, the FX show starring Timothy Olyphant as badass deputy marshall Raylan Givens, a character who originated in Elmore Leonard’s Pronto (although it’s credited to the later short story “Fire In the Hole,” since that’s what the pilot was adapted from).

This week we finally got to meet Raylan’s much referred to pops, who was a bastard as promised but luckily in a small-timer way. Some of the previous references to him made it sound like he was some international super-crook, but in this one he’s mostly an old man who smashes things with a bat. I was hoping somebody recognizable like Robert Forster or somebody would turn out to be the dad, like a surprise casting coup type deal. Instead it’s Raymond J. Barry, who is perfect. What they went for is much better than what I wished for. It’s a great character and great relationship.

My favorite episode so far was last week, though. Raylan went to L.A. after a mob accountant turned dentist played by Cameron from FERRIS BUELLER (looking alot like Anthony Bourdain these days). That was a great Elmore Leonard feel because they get you rooting for this dentist in the opening scene when he removes gold fillings from a rich asshole in the parking lot for yelling at his secretary.

Anyway, I want to point you to this article posted on elmoreleonard.com which reveals that Leonard likes the show so much he’s working on ideas to give them for season 2. Also, the comments here is a good place to discuss new episodes if you ever feel like it.

Find Me Guilty

tn_findmeguiltyRemember around the time you first heard about Vin Diesel, you would read all this shit about how he wasn’t just some dumb musclehead, he was a multi-talented enigma, he directed a short that caught Steve Spielberg’s eye, blah blah blah? But then he just did a bunch of action and action-like movies, many of them not very good, turned down the sequels, never got his HANNIBAL movie off the ground, then eventually had to stoop to the Hulk-Hogan-in-MR.-NANNY route to get a hit, and everybody wrote him off?

Well, I think he might get things rolling again, but we’ll see. And even if he doesn’t, it turns out he’s got one role under his belt that fits that “more than meets the eye” hype and shows that he’s got more range than just the differences between Riddick and Dominic Teretto (hint: Riddick wears goggles). (read the rest of this shit…)

Rooster Cogburn

tn_roostercogburnIn ’75, six years after John Wayne won his Oscar playing Rooster Cogburn in TRUE GRIT, they figured on bringing the character back. Not a bad idea, actually. Maybe not as good as my idea of spinning off his cat, but still, it works. He’s a marshall who goes after outlaws, obviously he’s gonna have other adventures. That’s what this is, this ROOSTER COGBURN, it’s not a stripped down drama about him getting old like ROCKY BALBOA was. (And if you’re looking at that picture thinking man, Mattie Ross got old fast, don’t worry, it’s a different character.)

This particular adventure (subtitled “(…and The Lady)” on the DVD box) starts out like an old west Dirty Harry movie. The judge is outraged by Cogburn’s unorthodox methods. He shoots too many people and isn’t good enough at kissing authority figure ass. So he gets his badge taken away. I thought it was kind of funny to have John Wayne doing this when he actually turned down DIRTY HARRY, but when I read True Grit: The Book I learned that this scene is sort of based on something that happens at the end of that book. (That doesn’t explain McQ, though.)

Of course the judge has to come crawling back to him because a gang stole some nitro glycerin for robbing a bank, and Rooster’s the only one with the skills, knowledge and balls for the case. On the trail he comes across a small church where the gang killed some people. The survivors are the preachy spinster Katherine Hepburn and a young scout who dreams of becoming the first Native American marshall. Of course Rooster reluctantly takes them with him and eventually comes to care about them. (read the rest of this shit…)

True Grit

tn_truegritThis movie’s gettin a squeeze of the ol’ limelight again on account of the Minnesota Coens are doing another version of the same book.

In this first version John Wayne plays U.S. Marshall Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn, who everybody talks about as a mean old bastard but let’s be honest, he’s really a lovably eccentric curmudgeon. I mean even if he says no at first it doesn’t take a whole lot to convince him to go on a bounty hunt with a 15 year old rich girl. And then he doesn’t rob her or slap her around or anything. In fact the big turning point in the story is when the Texas Ranger who’s going along tries to spank the girl with a switch, Rooster decides to put his foot down and enforce an anti-spanking policy.

I see plenty of room for Coen humor here with Mattie Ross, the spanking victim in question who hires Rooster to catch her father’s killer. She has a Barton Fink sense of entitlement (“My family owns property and I want to know why I’m being treated this way!”) and her repitition of the word “grit” (“I’m looking for someone with grit,” “I hear he has grit?” “Is this what you in Fort Smith call grit? Back in Yell County we have a different word for it,” etc.) would be right at home in any Coens movie. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Dream That Made Me Sell Out

tn_rapsnacksMy friends,

You might’ve noticed there’s an Amazon.com deal over on the sidebar there. I wanted to say a few things about that.

Number one, Steven Seagal’s Lightning Bolt Energy Drink is not currently available at Amazon, nor are Dirt McGirt Sour Cream and Onion Rap Snacks (left). So you will have to get your food somewhere else.

Number two, you guys know I’ve been doing this websight for ten years now, and other than what I get for my books I don’t make any money off of it. And I’ll keep doing it for free until I die if I have to, but I figure if I ever do make some money off of it it could help me to do the day job less and spend more time on this, do a better job of striving.

(read the rest of this shit…)

The Connection

tn_connectionLong before Kathryn Bigelow swept the country into a state of frenzied Hurt Lockermania there were other women directors paving their own roads, carving out their own niches, laying their own tracks, mapping out their own nature trails, and other metaphors. One such director was Shirley Clarke.
(That’s not her to the left, that’s a goofy lady that’s in the movie.)

I first heard of Clarke when I saw ORNETTE: MADE IN AMERICA, a very strange experimental documentary about free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman. It’s a mixture of interviews, re-enactments and performances in strange settings. Ornette talks about his life, his work, goes off on tangents about self-castration, geodesic domes, you know the drill. Or maybe not. I guess Clarke was not your everyday director. And not just compared to Penny Marshall or Nancy Meyers. Compared to everybody. (read the rest of this shit…)