"I'll just get my gear."

Posts Tagged ‘Dan Shor’

Black Moon Rising

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

I’ve been curious about BLACK MOON RISING (1986) – and many of you have recommended it to me over the years – for the specific reason that it’s based on a script by John Carpenter. According to the book John Carpenter: The Prince of Darkness by Gilles Boulenger, he wrote it in 1974 and sold it in late 1975 to producer Harry Gittes (GOIN’ SOUTH, ABOUT SCHMIDT), who does not have a credit on the movie. A decade later it ended up being directed by Harley Cokeliss (BATTLETRUCK, studio second unit director of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK) and rewritten by Desmond Nakano (BODY ROCK, LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN) and William Gray (THE CHANGELING, PROM NIGHT, HUMONGOUS, THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT). They used Todd Ramsay, editor of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and THE THING, but otherwise it’s not any of Carpenter’s crew. Still, there aren’t too many fresh Carpenter-related projects out there for me to experience, so I went for it.

And I’m happy to report that it’s much more like a John Carpenter movie than THE EYES OF LAURA MARS, while having enough of its own thing going on to not feel like a Dollar Store knock off. It’s elegantly simple, using some standard thriller ideas but not the usual good guys, and it has that precious quality of feeling edgy and slightly futuristic by the standards of a long past era. Most of all it has 1986 Tommy Lee Jones as a cool, mysterious anti-hero who seems all alone, hated by his bosses and former colleagues as he works as a “freelancer” one last time. It was Jones’s follow up to THE PARK IS MINE and Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” video, where he plays “a real estate novelist who never had time for a wife” (unless IMDb is wrong and that’s just a guy who looks like him). (read the rest of this shit…)

Red Rock West

Monday, May 1st, 2017

RED ROCK WEST is one of my favorite neo-noirs, an ingeniously concocted tale with a simple, appealing hero who makes one wrong choice that snags him and he has to spend the rest of the movie trying to crawl his way out of an ever-tightening trap. He’s driving through the town of Red Rock, Wyoming when it goes down, so every time he gets out and then something else goes wrong we share his dismay at passing that god damn “Welcome to Red Rock” sign once more.

Well before all the thrilling twists and tense (but down to earth) set pieces, director John Dahl (THE LAST SEDUCTION, ROUNDERS, JOY RIDE) wins me over with an A+ overture of visual storytelling that establishes Michael (Nic Cage)’s hard times and integrity. We meet him waking up in his car on the side of a farm road, shaving, smelling the shirt he takes out of the trunk to make sure it’s not too bad, looking in the window reflection as he tucks it in, preparing to try to make a good impression. We also see his USMC tattoo, even before he starts doing shirtless one-arm push-ups. This will be relevant.

He’s broke and having trouble finding a job and has a bum knee brought back as a souvenir from Lebanon but he’s an honest man, not looking for any shortcuts. Not until he stops at a bar and his timing and Texas plates cause the owner, Wayne (the great J.T. Walsh, BREAKDOWN, EXECUTIVE DECISION) to mistake him for “Lyle from Dallas” who was supposed to be here last week for a job. Michael plays along, which seems like a promising trick for the few minutes before he realizes the job is to murder Wayne’s wife Suzanne (Lara Flynn Boyle, POLTERGEIST III). So it’s neither a line of work he’s interested in or the type where you can just put in your two weeks notice and be on your way. (read the rest of this shit…)