"I'll just get my gear."

Archive for December, 2020

Happy New Year, friends

Thursday, December 31st, 2020

So much for that bullshit. Now for the next one. Hopefully we can start digging our way out of the wreckage from this one.

Thank you everybody for reading and posting this year. I’m so grateful to be able to talk movies and everything else with you all, to hear your insights and your jokes and your feedback. I appreciate the community you all create here and all the other ways you’ve supported me and helped make it possible for me to spend most of my time writing.

So consider this a toast to all of you, to great movies, to terrible movies, to kung fu and samurais and funk music, to excellence, to weirdos, to kindness and generosity and sticking it to The Man. Love you all.

RIP MF DOOM

Tenet

Thursday, December 31st, 2020

I like Christopher Nolan’s movies. So, had things gone reasonably in the world, Christopher Nolan’s TENET by Christopher Nolan is a movie that I for sure would’ve seen right away in a theater. But… you know. So I didn’t.

Now, after having played some theaters in some parts of the world where some people think it’s safe to go to theaters, with months having passed since the professionals moved on to other topics, many seemingly unimpressed, TENET is on blu-ray, so I have seen it. And I will just say up front that I am very pro TENET. I really enjoyed it. People around these parts call me Bad Lou TENET, Port of Call This Movie Is Great.

First, let me start by pointing out that this entire review has been written as a palindrome. I’m just kidding. I could do it for sure, I know how, but I don’t want to show off. Christopher Nolan, however, has zero qualms about showing off, and I love him for it.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Born to Defence

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020

Recently I was a guest on the podcast Postcards From a Dying World, and the topic of the episode was the films of Jet Li. I’d actually been meaning to rewatch some of Li’s movies, and this pushed me to fill in a few of the ones I hadn’t seen.

BORN TO DEFENCE seemed like an important one, because it’s the only movie Li has directed. It was released in 1986, when he was in his early twenties, only his fourth movie and first without SHAOLIN in the title. Credited as “Jet Lee,” he plays Jet, a hero of WWII who opens the movie flipping and flying through tanks, explosions and machine gun fire. It’s cool but it made me think “Oh shit, I hope this isn’t a war movie.”

Never fear! The war ends and he comes home to Qingdao. Things have changed (there are orphan children for sale on the street – uncool) and his fellow vets are disgusted to find that nobody gives a shit about what they did, giving all the glory to the American sailors who are still stationed there and lording over everybody. (read the rest of this shit…)

Soul

Tuesday, December 29th, 2020

SOUL is one of the best and most ambitious movies Pixar has made, and they had to release it straight to Disney+ (great job, Covid). It comes from MONSTERS, INC. director Pete Docter, co-directing and co-writing with Kemp Powers, the writer of ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI (both the play and the upcoming movie), and it’s another one of Docter’s hard-to-explain emotional high concept fantasies like UP and INSIDE OUT, but this time squarely centered in Black culture.

The protagonist, Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx, and I honestly never thought of him as Jamie Foxx), is a New York City middle school music teacher. Not a bad one, but not currently seeming to motivate kids like he’s Mr. Holland or somebody. He’s finally been offered a full time job at the school, which impresses his mom (Phylicia Rashad, CREED) but sparks feelings of failure that his occasional gigs as a jazz pianist haven’t led anywhere and he might have to settle in doing this less exciting work. (read the rest of this shit…)

Wonder Woman 1984

Monday, December 28th, 2020

WONDER WOMAN 1984 (actual onscreen title: WW84) is, due to a strange confluence of events, in an unprecedented position. As the first sequel to a big-cultural-phenomenon comic book movie it was highly anticipated and also something of a question mark – I think we were pretty optimistic, but didn’t necessarily know if director Patty Jenkins (who hadn’t done a big movie before, just MONSTER and some TV) could repeat the magic, or build on it, or if the audience would be as hungry for it a second time. And then the pandemic kicked the world’s ass, America’s in particular, so the movie got pushed back until the Warner Brothers executives panicked and dumped a year’s worth of movies to streaming and it became the highest profile meant-for-theaters blockbuster released directly to streaming on Christmas day.

I enjoyed the movie, and what I enjoyed most is Jenkins’ apparent disinterest in making it a modern Marvel-esque or (even moreso) Snyder-esque comic book movie. Though the action is of the modern volume and contemporary FX-based style, the tone and storytelling are more reminiscent of the Christopher Reeves SUPERMAN movies, some of the corny ‘90s adventure movies I like, a tiny bit of the Burton BATMAN movies, and even (not in a bad way) SUPERGIRL. As I write this I realize that there wasn’t a single moment where I thought, “Ah, that’s setting up for the next one.” (read the rest of this shit…)

check me out on a podcast about Jet Li movies

Saturday, December 26th, 2020

As I mentioned in a few recent reviews, I was one of the guests on the podcast Postcards From a Dying World, talking about the films of Jet Li. I had fun and it was a good excuse to fill in or revisit some of his movies (a couple more of those reviews coming soon).

CHECK IT OUT HERE

And by the way this is part two in a trilogy of Chinese cinema episodes. I’m excited to listen to the other two because honestly the guests are much more impressive than me: Part 1 has Dan Halsted, the Portland film programmer you may have heard on RZA’s commentaries and who stars in the legendary story of the guy who tracked down a treasure trove of pristine Shaw Brothers beneath an abandoned theater. Part 3 – Best Hong Kong Cinema of the ’80s and ’90s – has Lisa Morton (author of The Cinema of Tsui Hark), Joey O’Bryan (screenwriter of FULLTIME KILLER, MOTORWAY, DOWNRANGE and TRIPLE THREAT) and Jeff Briggs (archivist at Warner Brothers and Hong Kong cinema expert).

If you check out my episode let me know your top Jet Li movies so I know which ones I need to hurry up and watch or re-watch.

New Patreon bonus: Martial Law: “Sammo Claus”

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

Merry Christmas and/or have a good weekend, everybody! Over on Patreon I have a new exclusive, reviewing a Christmas episode of Sammo Hung’s short-lived American TV show Martial Law. I hope you enjoy it.

SAMMO CLAUS!

And I don’t want to be an asshole and only give a present to people giving me money, so also I unlocked the techno song I made in September so you can listen to it without donating. It’s about the ’90s. Sit around the hearth with your family and listen to it, maybe it will become a treasured holiday tradition.

 

Turbulence

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020

TURBULENCE is kind of an also-ran in the world of ‘90s studio thrillers. They used to put pretty big budgets into these mainstream action/thriller hybrids, especially if they starred Harrison Ford and/or Tommy Lee Jones. I guess psycho Ray Liotta is a little more low rent than that, and heroine Lauren Holly wasn’t exactly a Jodie-Foster-sized marquee name (she was known for Picket Fences and DUMB AND DUMBER). But if Wikipedia is correct, the budget for this one was bigger than THE FUGITIVE, IN THE LINE OF FIRE, PATRIOT GAMES, THE NET or SPEED! So although most of the story is confined to one 747 it has plenty of scope. It feels like a big DIE HARD type production.

Or maybe I should say DIE HARD 2 – that’s the movie I thought of when it was at the airport, with its attention to the pomp and circumstance of a law enforcement caravan arriving to search the plane before bringing prisoners aboard. It even takes place at Christmas, with Christmas music. Anyway, I have a soft spot for this type of movie. Any stupidity that may or may not be involved did not get in the way of my enjoyment of this one. (read the rest of this shit…)

Mother Krampus

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

MOTHER KRAMPUS (2017) is a quite serious and pretty gory b-movie from the UK that claims to be “Based on the German Urban Legend of Frau Perchta, the Christmas Witch, who takes a child each night over the 12 days of Christmas.” Maybe C.J. or any of the other German readers can let us know if they’ve ever heard of such a thing. With a little reading I learned she’s a pagan goddess of the Alps, a guardian of beasts and does have some association with the 12 Days of Christmas. She often has one oversized foot and an iron beak, both of which are sorely missing in this cinematic depiction. In some legends she has servants who look like Krampus, but they’re not Krampus, and she doesn’t have them in this movie anyway, so the title is bullshit. But it is a specifically Christmas-themed horror story about an evil hag who comes out of the woods to kill people at Christmas time and that I can get behind.

And we gotta give the ol’ Frau this: it takes balls to do the opening kill at a church! A mom is not paying attention to her son, as she talks to the priest after the service, and he follows a trail of candy to the door, where our shadowy robed non-Krampus related hag snatches him up. I like that it’s hard candy, because it shows that Mother Krampus is a grandma at heart. Either that or she’s so devious that she could use any delicious candy and purposely chooses the less good stuff because she knows it’ll do. (read the rest of this shit…)

Campfire Tales

Monday, December 21st, 2020

CAMPFIRE TALES is a very low budget horror anthology released in 1991. After directors William Cooke and Paul Talbot graduated from college in 1987 they decided to build a film around “The Hook,” a short they’d made in their senior year 16mm class. The stories are very simplistic – unusually light on gimmicks and ironic twists for this type of material – and the filmmaking is not what would traditionally be considered “good.” But being made by beginners with no money gives it that scrappy underdog charm where you’re excited for anything they kind of pull off, and since it was made by young people in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s there’s some relatability and nostalgia for somebody like me who may or may not have come of age around that time.

“The Hook” is set on Halloween, but there’s another story that’s about Christmas, which is what brought me to it. (read the rest of this shit…)