"I'll just get my gear."

Archive for February, 2019

Iron Eagle

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

I always remembered IRON EAGLE as a chintzy ripoff of TOP GUN, but in fact it came out six months earlier. Shame on you, TOP GUN. Did you think we’d never find out the truth? You’ve got alot to answer for.

Both movies involve hot-shot rule-breaking F-16/F-14 pilots who have run-ins with Russian MIGs, but IRON EAGLE is the only one that uses a stencil font at the beginning. That means it’s a legit b-action movie and therefore follows two tried and true traditions:

1) the UNCOMMON VALOR/RAMBO FIRST BLOOD PART II/MISSING IN ACTION off-the-books P.O.W. rescue mission

and

2) the RED DAWN/TOY SOLDIERS teens-take-matters-into-their-own-hands wish fulfillment adventure (read the rest of this shit…)

Iron Protector

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

a.k.a. THE BODYGUARD
a.k.a. SUPER BODYGUARD

IRON PROTECTOR (2016) is a fun and pulpy if not groundbreaking modern Chinese martial arts picture with a little bit of a throwback feel. The opening credits are throbbing with kung fu, c.g., three dimensional letters, fire and explosions, and the movie maintains that level of shameless flash, but it’s old school in the sense that it has lines like “Brother, your iron fist has improved alot,” and “Brother, everyone in my bodyguard company is a champion in his own right,” and “I let you help me start my bodyguard company because I wanted to develop the spirit of the Iron Kick,” and “You must live on for the spirit of the Iron Kick.” Also they make a big deal about writer/director/star Yue Song doing all his own stunts and not using wires.

It’s style is not unimpeachable. It has a cheesy transition effect that I think is supposed to remind you of a comic book. I always hate that shit. I guess that’s why reviews like this one on Cinapse call it a superhero movie, but it doesn’t seem to me like super powers as much as just classical martial arts mythology. Our hero Wu-Lin (Song) is the last master of a secret fighting style, the Iron Kick. His feet have stayed encased in metal boots for ten years as part of mastering the technique, so that’s where the Iron comes in. (read the rest of this shit…)

First Reformed

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

FIRST REFORMED is another Paul Schrader broken-man-slowly-boiling-over character piece in the tradition of TAXI DRIVER and ROLLING THUNDER. This time his subject is Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke, DAYBREAKERS), the very nice and thoughtful reverend of a small 250 year old church in upstate New York that still exists because it’s a historical landmark. He sermonizes to about half a dozen people on Sundays, but his duties also include being a tour guide and stocking the gift shop.

He cares about the job, but it seems like it’s one of those transferred-to-Antarctica type situations. We slowly piece together some of the problems he has, the things he’s punishing himself for and how his life went south after the death of a son in the military. He writes journal entries in a spiral-bound composition notebook which we hear as calm, reasonable sounding voiceover, but sometimes he’ll casually drop in some bit that makes you do a double take, like when he laments, “If only I could pray.” Uh… you seem like a guy who would pray, is all I’m saying. (read the rest of this shit…)

Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back

Monday, February 25th, 2019

I remember REST STOP (2006) being a decent DTV horror movie. I remember nothing else. I thought maybe it was about a slasher who hides in a rest stop restroom or something. I don’t know. So the opening of the sequel, REST STOP: DON’T LOOK BACK (2008) was a little befuddling. It starts in 1972 on “The Old Highway,” when a “Yes Jesus Loves Me” singing family picks up a hitchhiker in their RV. Weirdo mother Diane Salinger (CREATURE) ends up seducing him and then screaming in delight when her husband (Michael Childers, SOUTHERN JUSTICE) catches them together and kills the guy. The family – also consisting of twin sons and a disfigured dwarf – delightedly bury the body at a (the) rest stop, but suddenly the guy they’re burying appears, chops them all up, and buries their bodies.

Okay, so it’s a ghost movie, I don’t remember this at all. (read the rest of this shit…)

Pre-Oscar thoughts 2019

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

Okay, time for my traditional pre-Oscars post. As you have probly gathered by now, I enjoy watching awards shows, I do not think they are too long, I do understand that they don’t represent the best of cinema, and that it doesn’t really matter that much, and I’m not offended if you don’t care about the Oscars. It’s fine, we all do what we want to do. And here’s my piece about my favorite movies of 2018, which only slightly overlap with the things that were nominated.

For those who are interested though I wanted to gather links of my reviews to the nominated movies along with who I’m rooting for in some (not all) of the categories and some other related thoughts. (read the rest of this shit…)

Nightshooters

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

NIGHTSHOOTERS is a low budget 2018 UK action movie that starts out feeling like a broad indie comedy but turns deadly serious when its regular non-warrior characters start getting killed. It takes place over one night as a small guerrilla film crew shooting without permission in an about-to-be-demolished office building happen to witness gangsters setting a guy on fire and have to fight for their lives.

Like so many movie-within-a-movie movies, it opens with their horror movie in progress, a zombie action film called DAWN OF THE DEADLY. It’s interesting because there are plenty of horror movies about people making a horror movie and encountering real horror (DESTROYER, SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE, DIARY OF THE DEAD, CUT, THE DEAD HATE THE LIVING, FURRY NIGHTS), but I don’t know of any other action ones. And this very much has the feel of a homegrown horror movie, from the type of characters (a little overly dickish, but eventually turning sympathetic) to the references to favorite movies. In this case, though, they’re not tipping the hat to horror movies – they talk about wanting their cinematography to look like JOHN WICK, and their star brags about being in a scene with Scott Adkins. It’s a weird feeling to see movie characters who know who Scott Adkins is. Even in the real world you gotta run in the right circles for that. (read the rest of this shit…)

Happy Death Day 2U

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

HAPPY DEATH DAY was a well-executed take on a fun premise: a slasher GROUNDHOG DAY where mean sorority girl Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe, LA LA LAND) has to keep reliving her birthday until she figures out who the fuck keeps stabbing. As she investigates everybody around her she starts to understand their lives better and be nicer to them. Except the one who killed her, who she kicks out a window. I wished it had been Rated-R to take gory advantage of the “heroine dies repeatedly” gimmick, but they made it work, largely because Tree is such a compelling character. Like Bill Murray in that other time loop movie she gets to be a fun asshole, which is so rare for a female lead.

In the sequel we get to see a little bit of the creepy baby mask, but the mystery of who’s stalking her is pretty much irrelevant. Sure, they revisit it in alternate timelines where it’s different people behind the mask, but there’s not as much suspense to be wrung out of it, so it shifts a little away from the horror comedy and more into sci-fi comedy, again made fun by the character of Tree and the performance of Rothe. If anything she’s even a little better in this one. (read the rest of this shit…)

Alita: Battle Angel

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Man, we’ve been hearing about James Cameron doing this manga/anime adaptation since 2005, well before AVATAR. We’re talking Obama’s first year as a United States Senator, Christian Bale’s first year as a Batman, three live action Spider-man actors ago, before the Marvel Cinematic Universe even started, when Chris Evans was still The Human Torch, George Lucas was still making Star Wars movies, Saddam Hussein was still alive, the word “sexting” was just invented, Youtube was just starting, and Twitter didn’t exist yet. A long time ago.

So I can’t say I was thrilled when, after that decade plus of hopes, Cameron announced “Just kidding, Robert Rodriguez is gonna direct it.” Fresh off of SIN CITY 2. But also I wasn’t stupid enough to scoff at it. Cameron co-wrote and produced the thing. The only other time he did that was STRANGE DAYS, and that turned out pretty good. (read the rest of this shit…)

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Monday, February 18th, 2019

In CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?, Melissa McCarthy (CHARLIE’S ANGELS) plays Lee Israel, a writer (this is based on her memoir) who’s maybe hit a rough patch. She’s had a book on the New York Times bestseller list, which she figures has gotta be worth something, but now her agent (Jane Curtin, CONEHEADS) tries to avoid her and has no interest in her planned Fannie Brice biography.

Lee gets fired from her day-going-into-late-night publishing industry job for being an asshole and for drinking, two of her defining characteristics. But her only friend – her cat – is sick, the vet won’t help until she pays her previous bills, and the used bookstore doesn’t want what she’s offering any more than the magazine editors want what she’s pitching.

So it starts in desperation. She figures out she can get money by selling a nice letter that Katharine Hepburn sent to Lee to thank her for a profile she wrote. Next she swipes a Fannie Brice letter from a research archive and tries to sell that, but the content is bland, so nobody offers her much. In a fit of frustration or smart-assed boldness she pops the letter in her typewriter and adds a witty postscript. And sure enough when she tries to sell it that raises its value. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

It’s fair to say that earlier in the century The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was a pop culture phenomenon. Stieg Larsson’s three novels, posthumously published starting in 2005, were worldwide hits. I enjoyed the stories through their 2009 Swedish movie adaptations (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST) which launched their star Noomi Rapace (PROMETHEUS, PASSION, DEAD MAN DOWN, THE DROP, CLOSE) into international movie stardom, and their leading man Michael Nyqvist into spending his last years playing bad guys in Hollywood movies including ABDUCTION, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL and JOHN WICK (where he delivers the best syllable: “Oh.”). David Fincher’s 2011 English language take on the first book was pretty great and even got Rooney Mara an unlikely but well-deserved Oscar nomination.

But it wasn’t a big enough hit to justify a sequel budgeted for Fincher, Mara and Daniel Craig, so after years of haggling they went with plan B: a lower budget sequel with new director and cast, based not on the next in the trilogy but a continuation written by new author David Lagercrantz. And nobody really seemed to be waiting for that.

Except me! Selling point #1: director Fede Alvarez, who really impressed me with EVIL DEAD and DON’T BREATHE. Selling point #2: less grim and rapey, more fun and actiony. You still got the trademark fucked up and fetishy shit of the snow-bitten Larssonverse, but in this one our heroine is never sexually assaulted, but does have high speed chases on multiple vehicle types. Hot move: ditching police cars by jumping your motorcycle onto a frozen lake. (read the rest of this shit…)