BEHIND THE CANDELABRA is Steve Soderbergh’s one last big score before retirement. In some countries it played in theaters, but here in his home country it went straight to cable. Why? The Man obviously didn’t get how contemporary this story is even though it takes place in the ’70s through early ’80s.
It’s about this young working class guy, animal trainer, orphan (Matt Damon, THE BOURNE IDENTITY), one day he and his buddy (Scott Bakula, COLOR OF NIGHT) hit Vegas together, turns out his buddy knows this super famous musician guy (Michael Douglas, Streets of San Francisco), they get to hang out backstage, next thing you know he gets a job with the guy, gets to be in the crew, his posse, his entourage, like in the show Entourage (I don’t know, I haven’t seen it, but I figure I got a good guess what a show called Entourage would be about). (read the rest of this shit…)
“Me and Priest go back to the golden age of hustlin.”
Alot of people tend to forget that Superfly returned in 1990. And unlike, say, Batman in BATMAN RETURNS, he actually had a place to return from. He’s still living overseas, now in Paris, when he hears his old partner Eddie has been killed, so he finally comes back to New York.
Oh shit, but I fell into the trap. “Superfly” was never his name, his name was Youngblood Priest and the title referred to the alleged quality of his illegal medicinal products. And it was two words anyway. Super Fly. Maybe “The Return of Superfly” means that Eddie’s dope was not up to snuff and now has been replaced by superior product by this guy Hector (Carlos Carrasco, CROCODILE DUNDEE II, SPEED, PARKER), who’s taking over. (read the rest of this shit…)
“I am retired. Can you dig where I’m coming from?”
How is it that I never watched the sequel to SUPER FLY, especially considering it was called SUPER FLY T.N.T.? You’d think I’d’ve gotten on that shit right away. But I’m not the only one who forgot about it. This 1973 sequel has never been released on DVD. It has no external reviews on IMDb. And its soundtrack has never been on CD, even though it’s good enough that I bought a vinyl copy on ebay right after I watched the movie.
I’m surprised it took me this long to get around to it, but admittedly I never thought it would be good. I figured why make a sequel to SUPER FLY, anyway? Didn’t he quit the game at the end of the first one? Is this gonna be like MAGNUM FORCE, where they totally ignored that Clint had thrown his badge off a bridge at the end of DIRTY HARRY?
I’ve seen SUPER FLY a bunch of times, but I guess not since the VHS days. It’s a good looking movie on DVD, a nice document of extravagant ’70s clothing, small but fancy apartments, a white Rolls Royce rolling around dirty New York streets, its shiny hood ornaments leading the charge like a figurehead on a boat headed to the new world. It’s not a plot-heavy movie, it’s full of long scenes showing off the Curtis Mayfield soundtrack, for my money probly the greatest song soundtrack ever made for a movie (though the blaxploitation genre’s got several classics: SHAFT, BLACK CAESAR and COFFY come to mind. And you can’t front on TRUCK TURNER.)
Speaking of SHAFT, it’s weird that SHAFT and SUPER FLY are the two most famous blaxploitation movies, and they’re directed by father and son. Gordon Parks Sr. did SHAFT in ’71, Junior did SUPER FLY in ’72. I don’t know anything about the relationship between father and son, but I noticed Junior gets an opening credit for the still photo sequence. I wonder if that was to make sure nobody thought it was by his famous photographer father? (read the rest of this shit…)
I wanted to point out this calendar item at your local Cinefamily theater in case anybody needs to get tickets and get the day (Saturday, June 14th) off. Must be open to viewing four of Steven Seagal’s greatest movies on 35 mm while being disappointed by the demystification of a previously enigmatic writer and Seagal expert.
KISS OF DEATH is a 1973 Shaw Brothers production, but not a period martial arts movie like what they’re mostly known for. The director, Meng Hua Ho also did CAVE OF THE SILKEN WEB and OILY MANIAC. This one is a contemporary urban story about a lady (Chen Ping) who, one night walking home from her job at the textile factory, gets gang-raped by five street thugs, and now she wants revenge.
Don’t worry, it doesn’t get I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE graphic about it, but of course everything to do with the attack is very unpleasant. I was actually shocked by a scene where she is surprised by blood dripping down her legs. Most movies about sexual assault don’t bother depicting the ugly details of the physical aftermath.
THE RAID 2 has alot of what made THE RAID an instant classic:
1. Incredible fight performances and choreography by Iko Uwais (returning as silat-practicing rookie cop Rama, now undercover as “Yuda” [weirdly that was also his name in MERANTAU]), Yayan Ruhian (as a new character named Koso, since his great villain character Mad Dog eventually gave in and died) and a whole bunch of other great martial artists.
2. Action scenes crammed with fast, unrelenting brutality including many, many, many stabbings, headshots, bodyparts smashed through walls, slit throats, broken bones, etc.
BAD ASS 2 is the sequel to a DTV movie I almost forgot about, the one where they bought the life story rights to a mentally ill Vietnam vet who punched out a guy in a racial incident on a bus in a famous Youtube video and turned him into a heroic vigilante played by Danny Trejo. For part 2 they ditch the true story claims, but do have one in-joke reference to the video (a guy pronounces “ambulance” weird). The adventures continue for Trejo’s character Frank Vega, so I guess he’s Buford Pusser for the internet age.
This is three years later and Vega is settled in to a more normal life training boxers, with one particularly promising student Manny (Jeremy Ray Valdez) who is “almost like a son” to him and is about to have his first pro fight tomorrow. This will shock you to your very core and make you question everything you’ve ever believed, but the kid has gotten involved with some drug dealers who say he’s stealing and they murder him but the cops aren’t gonna do anything so Vega has to track them down and, I don’t know, trick them into getting on a bus so he can punch them, or whatever he does. (read the rest of this shit…)
NEED FOR SPEED is based on a video game I guess, but it seems like a THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS sequel from an alternate timeline where TOKYO DRIFT never happened, or a weird idea for a gritty reboot of the SPEED RACER licensed trademark franchise property.
It’s another story that takes place among characters who think of nothing but car racing. There are signs of relationships in their pasts and futures, but women seem to be only a side interest for both the hero and the villain. The hero barely hides his sadness that his ex-girlfriend is with the villain now, yet we barely see her with her new man, she shows no sign of affection toward him and it’s unclear, to me at least, whether her diamond ring means they’re married or engaged. And it doesn’t seem like it really matters anyway because… cars. (read the rest of this shit…)
Okay, bad news first: CAPTAIN AMERICA TOO is pretty much Marvel’s post-action movie. It has a good action movie type of plot: Captain America finds out his agency S.H.I.E.L.D. is compromised, has to go on the run, has to figure out who he can trust and operate without his usual resources to uncover and defeat a vast conspiracy. He has to fight two different legendary warriors, both with some “just how badass is he?” buildup, and one of them even played by the great UFC champion Georges St-Pierre. The Captain gets continually chased and attacked by a crew of headset and vest wearing soldiers led by Frank Grillo of WARRIOR and THE GREY. There are many, many fight and chase scenes involving different fighting styles, fun acrobatics, various forms of transportation (motorcycle, SUV, robotic wings, helicarrier), weapons, super strength, super parkour, colorful technologies, interesting locations, clever gimmicks, epic destruction, badass dialogue and good character and plot motivation. Everything you want in a great action movie except… (read the rest of this shit…)