ROAD HOUSE is one of the canonical works of… I don’t even want to say action cinema, or badass cinema, I just want to say cinema. When I first wrote about it 15 years ago I was in awe of its unique mix of raucous bar brawls, quotable lines and heightened badassness. I mean, you’d just have to be such a chump not to get something out of a well-made movie about the world’s second best bar security expert (Patrick Swayze shortly after STEEL DAWN) being called into Jasper, Kansas to straighten out “the kind of place that they sweep up the eyeballs after closing,” along the way falling in love, ripping out a guy’s throat and freeing the town from the corrupt grip of rich bully Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara, BUFFALO ’66), who within one scene is revealed as a domestic abuser, shuts off his victim’s aerobics music because it “has no heart,” and boasts “JC Penney is coming here because of me!” It’s a glorious elevated drive-in classic forged from the undiluted sincerity of Swayze, the rioutous fight choreography of Benny “The Jet” Urquidez (BLOODMATCH, THE BIG HIT, WAR INC.), and the savage entertainment instincts of producer Joel Silver (COMMANDO, LETHAL WEAPON, PREDATOR, ACTION JACKSON, DIE HARD, THE MATRIX). It may top even RICOCHET as the most Joel Silver movie ever made. (read the rest of this shit…)
Posts Tagged ‘Ben Gazzara’
June 26, 1998
Look, I don’t want to brag, but in 1998 I was twenty years younger than I am now. I had the youth. The vigor. The open-mindedness and enthusiasm for things that seemed new and different. I had less of the anger toward people who get on lawns – if I had had a lawn I would’ve invited the youths to hang out on it and talk about youth stuff like did you know Lauryn Hill is doing a solo album or what is up with these Furbies or have you heard about this new WB show coming out in the fall they’re calling it “Ally McBeal in college” I don’t think I’ll watch it but it’s something I read about.
What I’m trying to do here is establish why it’s a good thing that in 1998 BUFFALO ’66 seemed like a great movie. I mean, I haven’t entirely turned my back on it. It’s still interesting. It has many positive qualities. But I definitely question it more now.
It’s easy to see what was appealing in that moment. Star/director/co-writer/composer Vincent Gallo plays Billy Brown, a just-released convict who looks like he inspired half the dudes who were in American Apparel ads (I mean, look at that striped muscle shirt). With cinematographer Lance Acord (first feature for the music video d.p.) he shoots scuzzy locations that seem like the stale refuse of the ’60s and ’70s: cracked parking lots, a bowling alley, a motel, a tiny house decorated in Buffalo Bills memorabilia. Chic, magazine ad ugly. I’m actually kind of surprised it’s not in black and white, but the muted color palette is one of its most striking features. (read the rest of this shit…)
Late one snowy Christmas Eve, influential rich guy Daniel Grudge (Sterling Hayden) is visited at his mansion by his nephew, history professor Fred (Ben Gazzara, ROAD HOUSE), who confronts him about having blocked a cultural exchange program at the university. Their philosophical argument turns into yelling. After Grudge chews his nephew out and tells him to leave, Fred smiles and dryly says, “Merry Christmas, by the way.”
This somewhat legendary 1964 TV update of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, his followup to CLEOPATRA and only small screen venture. But the obvious voice here is writer Rod Serling, five years after starting The Twilight Zone, sticking with his favorite trick of using genre as a vehicle for heart-on-sleeve pleas about contemporary social issues.
We learn that Grudge’s son Marley was killed in combat on Christmas Eve. This is the source of Grudge’s dislike of Christmas, but also his isolationism. He sees liberals as people who get American military men killed:
“Every few decades we seem to pay for your indiscriminate affections with the lives of our sons.”
But Fred sees it as trying not to get anybody killed: “Those indiscriminate affections as you put it are simply the acknowledgment that all men have sons. That grief for the unnecessary dead is not exclusive to this country, this town or to the House of Grudge.” (read the rest of this shit…)
Okay, let’s do some DTV math here. If there’s a new Jason Statham movie, I’m probly gonna watch it. If it also has Mickey Rourke, Ray Winstone and Ben Gazzara in the cast I’m even more probly gonna watch it. All of these people do crappy movies sometimes, but they’re actors I like, so with all of them together that adds up to hope.
If 50 Cent is also in there, though, that’s a detracting factor. Not that I think he’ll do that bad of a job, just that he does not have much of a track record for participating in movies that people should spend their time watching. And actually while the presence of Mickey Rourke in a movie can make it interesting or even great, Mickey Rourke + 50 Cent actually reverses Mickey Rourke and turns him into a likely negative. But in this case there is also the Statham/Winstone combo which could easily overpower the force of Rourke/50, especially when you factor in Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon, ’cause he’s in it too.
So I crunched all this data and according to my calculations 50 is not gonna ruin 13. He already did a DTV movie called 12, he probly just stuck around ’til they starting filming 13 and they just let him be in it because he seemed nice and was passing out Vitamin Water to everybody. So they made the movie with him and later I rented it. (read the rest of this shit…)
You know, people recommend movies to me all the time. They got a pretty good idea what I’m into, and they got some movie they like, they figure I would like it too. And I’ve discovered some damn good ones this way. For example I still wouldn’t’ve picked up MR. MAJESTYK if it wasn’t for Jeff McCloud, I think was the first guy who told me about it.
Well I can’t remember who told me this one, ROADHOUSE. A film by Rowdy Herrington. Whoever recommend this must’ve been jerkin my chain, but that’s all right. I enjoyed this one, even though it is about Patrick Swayze is the world’s second greatest bouncer who is sent in to clean up a rough redneck bar, ends up having to kill Ben Gazarra. You know how it is.
I knew this was a good one pretty quick, because a couple minutes into the movie a woman stabs a guy in the hand with a pen, and as payback she gets kicked in the balls. There are alot of feet and knees crushing balls in this movie, but that’s normal. I’ve seen that before. A woman getting kicked in the balls though is not something I believe I’ve seen before. Until now. (read the rest of this shit…)