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Posts Tagged ‘Francis Ford Coppola’

Dementia 13

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

I don’t know what DEMENTIA 13 means, but that’s the name of Francis Ford Coppola’s official on the record first feature directorial work, and it’s the rare Coppola horror outing, almost 30 years before BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA. It’s a tight little black-and-white Roger Corman production that seems to split the difference between gothic horror like the Poe movies (THE RAVEN, THE HAUNTED PALACE and THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH were released the same year, 1963) and the modern slasher like PSYCHO and PEEPING TOM (released three years earlier). It’s got a castle, a rich family and some possible ghostiness, but also a money scheme running afoul of an ax murderer. And there’s a mystery. And some brutality I wasn’t expecting in a movie of this era.

It’s got a great opening – John Haloran (Peter Read, THE BRAIN, TALONS OF THE EAGLE) is upset one night, wants to row out onto the lake to be by himself, but his wife Louise (Luana Anders, THE YOUNG RACERS, NOWHERE TO RUN) comes with him and bickers with him about money. His mother is sick and plans to will her fortune to charity – Louise wants him to talk to her about putting him in the will. All the rowing gets his heart worked up and he collapses. She goes for his heart pills (apparently this happens alot) but the container is empty, and he dies. (read the rest of this shit…)

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

Francis Ford Coppola’s BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA is an incredible fucking movie that I previously mistook for a pretty good one. I saw it first on opening night in 1992, when I thought it was cool and weird, if flawed. (If you would like to imagine my wild teen years, I remember it was a foggy Friday the 13th and I was bummed that I hadn’t done anything good on Halloween, so I drove a carload of friends to an evening show, blasting the score from NIGHTBREED in the tape deck.)

The second time was in 2000 after reading the book (Dracula by Bram Stoker, not Bram Stoker’s Dracula: The novel of the film by Fred Saberhagen and James V. Hart Based on the Screenplay by James V. Hart from the Bram Stoker novel, which I have not read and can’t afford). At that time I wrote about it along with a bunch of other Dracula movies, and you can see I was pretty hard on the “ridiculous origin story” and “trying to make him into a more sympathetic Dracula,” among other things.

But it felt overdue for a revisit and on this viewing all that stuff finally clicked for me. Though I always thought it was a stylish looking movie, I feel like I didn’t fully appreciate just how much, or how special that made it. And everything else worked better this time too. (read the rest of this shit…)

Tucker: The Man and His Dream

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

tn_tuckerlucasminusstarwarsTUCKER, directed by Francis Ford Coppola (CAPTAIN EO), glorifies two of executive producer George Lucas’s favorite things: cars and artistic independence. It’s a starry-eyed, big-band-jazz-scored paean to Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges), an innovator who failed to conquer the post-WWII car business, but at least made a cool car.

The titleistical dream is the idea of the Tucker, “the car of the future today,” a sleek, futuristic sedan with the engine in the back and three headlights that he says will move with the front wheels for safety. He’s just a dude with a scrappy company working out of a barn who invented some turrets for the army and a tank that they rejected because it moved too fast. He still owns one and uses it to drive the family into town to get ice cream. Nobody will invest in his dream until he gets it into a magazine and just acts like it’s something that’s happening. Next thing you know Martin Landau is able to get him meetings and investors. The Secret!

In one sense Tucker is full of shit. He thinks he can make this car, but he lets people believe he already has. He pushes his sons and trusted collaborators into overdrive to figure out how to build a good-enough prototype in time for the big unveiling. Like a movie trying to make a summer release date. The dream runs into the reality of unforeseen problems and limited time and resources, but he’s happy to just build a thing that looks like the concept art. (read the rest of this shit…)

Powaqqatsi

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

tn_powaqqatsilucasminusstarwarsGeorge Lucas and his big homey Francis Ford Coppola (CAPTAIN EO) are executive producers of Godfrey Reggio’s POWAQQATSI (Life in transformation), the EMPIRE STRIKES BACK of the Qatsi trilogy that began with KOYAANISQATSI (Life out of balance) in 1982 and ended with NAQOYQATSI (Life as war) in 2002. If you’ve seen either of those, or the ones by Reggio’s cinematographer Ron Fricke (I reviewed his SAMSARA in 2011) then you got a pretty good idea what this is like. Which is good, because my words might not cut it.

We could classify these as “experimental documentaries,” but they don’t have much of what anybody thinks of when they think of documentaries. No interviews, no narration, no onscreen text, no people talking at all. No storyline or argument made. No easily encapsulated subject or premise. Just themes.

They’re like cinematic paintings, or photo essays, or poems. They rhyme by having similar shots and images over and over again, all set to very repetitive (in a good way) scores by Philip Glass.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Captain EO

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

tn_captaineolucasminusstarwarsI mentioned in my LABYRINTH review that I thought Michael Jackson would’ve been a cool Goblin King. Sorry about that. I take it back. Mr. Bowie was uniquely suited for the character and I’m glad he got to hang out with all those puppets and implant himself in the creepy childhood memories of millions around the world.

And besides, Michael got his chance to get a little muppety, because the next Lucasfilm release was this 17 minute 3D film starring Jackson as “the infamous Captain EO,” leader of “a rag-tag band” of aliens and robots and crap sent on a dangerous space mission to deliver a gift to the Supreme Leader (Angelica Huston). EO gives his crew a speech about how everybody thinks they’re a bunch of fucking losers and if they don’t pull this mission off they’re gonna be “drummed out of the corps.” Which really makes you wonder how they got into the corps in the first place. What kind of boot camp can these weirdos make it through?

They seem to be kind of the Bad News Bears of space troopers. They’re bickering, cartoon-voiced goofballs who screw everything up and get yelled at by the Captain (except when they throw an egg at the hologram of Commander Bog [Dick Shawn, The Year Without a Santa Claus]), which makes him laugh).

The crew consists of a robot named Major Domo (voice of Gary DePew, producer of ANGEL 4: UNDERCOVER), another one named Minor Domo that attaches into the Major’s back, a furry two-headed monster named Idey (Debbie Lee Carrington, RETURN OF THE JEDI, HOWARD THE DUCK) and Odey (Cindy Sorenson, THE DARK BACKWARD), a green elephant-man named Hooter (Tony Cox, RETURN OF THE JEDI, SPACEBALLS, BAD SANTA) and a small furry guy with butterfly wings named Fuzzball (effects by Rick Baker, makeup man for the cantina scene in STAR WARS as well as Jackson’s Thriller video). All are small in stature, most are inept and cowardly. But EO leads them through a space battle, a crash-landing and a dark tunnel to the Supreme Leader, who turns out to be a grey and black Giger-esque biomechanical witch hanging from a web of cables and corrugated tubes. She is not happy to see them. (read the rest of this shit…)

Mishima: a life in four chapters

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

tn_mishimalucasminusstarwars

This is the story of Yukio Mishima (Ken Ogata, VENGEANCE IS MINE), once “Japan’s most celebrated author,” but now largely known as a crazy who commited public ritual suicide. Paul Schrader’s complex, lushly produced film weaves together both sides of the writer’s legacy, illustrating what he called “the harmony of pen and sword,” an attempt to fuse his art and his actions into one.

It starts in 1970 the morning of the day when we know from the onscreen text that Mishima is going to take “4 cadets from his private army” to a military base, kidnap a general. Mishima, and those of us who have heard of this incident, know he will make a speech about the soul of Japan and then cut his belly open with a sword. But he doesn’t seem nervous. He skips breakfast but has one last leisurely morning, reading the paper, enjoying some tea in his lovely backyard. (read the rest of this shit…)

Kagemusha

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

tn_kagemushalucasminusstarwarsIn 1980, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola presented a film by Akira Kurosawa, KAGEMUSHA. It opens with a five minute static shot of three almost identical looking characters sitting in a throne room in their fancy robes, two of them talking about the other one. You got the emperor Shingen there in the middle and his brother is on his right telling him about the guy on his left, how he spotted this petty thief about to be executed and noticed that he looked like the emperor and would make a good double for him. Sure enough he’s a dead ringer. It’s a real good find, this could work out great, right? But the double is kind of belligerent and crazy, and also he very reasonably chafes at the idea of being called a criminal by a guy who has killed thousands in wars and executions.

Maybe with some training though?

I guess people compare KAGEMUSHA to that movie DAVE, where Kevin Klein is a lookalike who has to replace the president, but I haven’t seen that one, so I’ll compare it to FACE/OFF, where a cop pretends to be a criminal? I don’t know. Anyway, the job gets more serious when the emperor gets hit by a sniper and before dying makes his boys promise to keep his death a secret for three years. I didn’t get this at first, but I think it’s because his heir is his grandson, a little boy. Gotta let him grow up to be at least 7 or 8 before tossing him in the deep end. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Godfather Part II

Thursday, May 11th, 2006

aka GODFATHER: RESURRECTION

When last we saw The Godfather part II (Al Pacino, DICK TRACY), he was in a room, closing a door. Nobody knows what happened inside that room, probaly some gangster shit. But THE GODFATHER PART II picks up years later with Michael Corleone now living in Las Vegas. Remember, he sent poor Robert Duvall there to stake out some territory, well apparently that went well. It seems there is some mafia roots in modern day Las Vegas. Huh, go figure.

Now, part 2 is even more epic than part 1. This one actually has time travel in it. It skips back and forth between The New Adventures of Michael Corleone and The Young Vito Corleone Chronicles. Hell it goes all the way back to the motherland. Remember that villa where Michael hid out in part one, then he married a girl with no nipples and watched her get blown up? Turns out that’s Vito’s childhood hood, and that place Michael lived is where the OG Godfather lived, and killed Vito’s mom. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Godfather

Saturday, April 8th, 2006

That’s right, the god damn GODFATHER. I mean, what is there even left to say about THE GODFATHER? Well, I’ll tell you.

Bear with me though, I’m about to mention Steven Seagal again. Yesterday I was reading Seagal’s entry on wikipedia when I came across a section talking about the field of Seagalogy, mentioning me as the inventor and linking to a separate entry just about me. I couldn’t believe it. After all I’ve been through – getting rejected from the Online Film Critics Society, being hated by the newsies on Ain’t It Cool for years, failing to stop the Iraq war and even, as you can see above, watching GARFIELD – after all that struggle, here I am, acknowledged in reference material, and described as a “noted internet film critic.”

Can you believe that? Noted. (read the rest of this shit…)

11 movies I saw about Dracula

Monday, June 12th, 2000

Well I bet the one or two of you who actually care about me are wondering, what the fuck happened to Vern. Where is his column. Why is he late. Did that Jet Li movie really make him so sad. What a puss.

The truth is I have been doing alot of soul searching, alot of introspective type work, alot of thinking, and all that type of garbage. You might say I am on a journey to find myself, or I am on an exploration of my past, or I am depressed, however in my opinion all of those things sound kind of fruity.

Whatever you want to call it, watching My Father Is a Hero really made me sad, especially when I found out this is the same picture the motherfuckers at Dimension or whoever have released as The Enforcer. The picture on the front shows Jet kicking a dude and although his son, Little Vern, is mentioned on the back, they really make it sound like he’s not in it that much. And I’ll tell you what folks that made a motherfucker even sadder to see my fellow americans pulling this kind of garbage on Jet and Little Vern. (read the rest of this shit…)