When Soleil Moon Frye was seven years old, she starred in the NBC sitcom Punky Brewster, playing a spunky kid in a magenta jean vest abandoned by her mother at a grocery store and adopted by an old widower, brightening his life with the rainbow-colored shine of what she called, for some reason, “Punky Power.” Apparently the ratings were low, but kids loved the character so much they sold dolls of her and gave her her own Saturday morning cartoon show (co-starring a wish-giving hedgehog leprechaun named Glomer).
Four seasons later the show was cancelled, Frye’s next sitcom pilot didn’t get picked up, and for the most part all we knew about her post-Punky life was a story from People Magazine or something about how her breasts grew unusually large, she got sick of being teased about it and got reduction surgery before her sixteenth birthday. There were some guest appearances (The Wonder Years, Saved By the Bell) and some b-movies (PIRANHA, PUMPKINHEAD II), but mostly she was a wacky relic of ‘80s pop culture who had grown up and started a family and hopefully ended up in a healthier place than some of her peers. (read the rest of this shit…)
When Stuart Gordon died at the end of March I decided it was finally time to watch SPACE TRUCKERS, a movie I had been meaning to see for literally 23 years. You know how it is. You get busy sometimes.
Obviously I dig Gordon as a Master of Horror, director of RE-ANIMATOR and FROM BEYOND, as one should. And in recent years I’ve really come to love THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM and CASTLE FREAK. But I also think he’s under-appreciated for his sci-fi movies ROBOT JOX and FORTRESS. And ever since I first saw ALIEN I’ve loved those stories that are about space but the heroes are just working class people doing their job, not some royalty or chosen one or member of any federation or academy. As the title makes clear, this is about characters like that. Truckers. In space. (read the rest of this shit…)
With that standard in mind, the new prequel LEATHERFACE (the second prequel/premaquel in the series, and the second movie called LEATHERFACE in the series, but the first of the series that is both a prequel/premaquel and called LEATHERFACE) is a really impressive feat. It’s the first TEXAS CHAINSAW that doesn’t at all follow the template of the original. It’s a different subgenre – outlaws on the run – that happens to take place in some approximation of Hooper’s universe. No, I don’t want a backstory for Leatherface, but after accepting that they’re set on doing that task (again), I was glad they found a more clever way to do it this time. The screenplay is by somebody named Seth M. Sherwood, but it’s directed by France’s Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury, who did the excellent INSIDE and LIVID. (read the rest of this shit…)
Before there was such a thing as Marvel Comics movies, there was BLADE.
Technically it wasn’t the first Marvel movie. It was the fourth. But nobody would’ve expected Marvel Comics to take over the movie business the way they have now. There had been the infamous flop HOWARD THE DUCK in 1986, and a few low rent b-action movies: THE PUNISHER starring Dolph Lundgren in 1989, then Albert Pyun’s DTV movie of CAPTAIN AMERICA in 1990. A Roger Corman production of FANTASTIC FOUR had been made in 1994 merely to extend the movie rights to the characters; it was never released, and the negatives have since been destroyed. I still kinda like THE PUNISHER, but until BLADE came along in 1998 none of these really connected with audiences, and there was no reason to think they would. James Cameron and Golan & Globus had an equal amount of success in trying to make a Spider-man movie, and Marvel had gone bankrupt.
Let’s be honest, most of us never heard of a Blade before the movie. He came from the ’70s series Tomb of Dracula, part of a team of Dracula-hunters made up of descendants of Mina Harker, Abraham Van Helsing and Dracula himself. He wore a red leather jacket and green pants and spoke what creator Marv Wolfman later admitted was “cliche ‘Marvel Black’ dialogue.” But screenwriter David S. Goyer was a fan of the character when New Line Cinema, inspired by the success of FRIDAY, wanted to do a black super hero movie.
At the time it was easier to compare to other vampire movies. Anne Rice style romantic bloodsuckers had dominated the image of the subgenre since at least the movie version of INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE in 1994, and BLADE was part of a pushback that included FROM DUSK TILL DAWN two years before and John Carpenter’s VAMPIRES two months after, all reminding audiences how much fun these creatures could be as vicious monsters that need to be exterminated. Each has their own version of the rules and their own leather-clad hunters with weapons made from silver, garlic, holy water or wood, but only BLADE (and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then two seasons in) treated it as an opportunity for martial arts. (read the rest of this shit…)
I’m interested in this idea of The Place White People Can’t Go. According to pop culture and middle class conventional wisdom there are large swaths of every major city that are like the wild west or a post-apocalyptic dystopia. The second a woman steps off the wrong subway or a man’s car breaks down on the wrong block, homeless men in ragged coats turn their heads from the flaming oil barrels where they warm their hands, and seedy criminals step out of the shadows of the garbage-strewn, rat-infested alleys to attempt a gang rape or mugging before this shaky-handed outsider gets a chance to unfold his or her map.
Admittedly many of these swarmers are white too, so maybe it’s really The Place Suburbanites Can’t Go. But it seems like a specifically white paranoia, perpetrated on white movie characters. It’s perpetuated in movies I like, such as the DEATH WISH series, as well as many an ’80s comedy. More recently it made an appearance in TRAINING DAY when walking through the barrio nearly got Ethan Hawke’s “shit pushed in.”
This is not entirely made up. Of course there are high crime areas (in Seattle it’s called “my bus stop”) and desperate, troubled people everywhere, and we’ve all heard stories, some of which are true. But I really think the whole thing is blown out of proportion in a way that appeals to our worst instincts and makes problems worse. In most cases I believe a white man can go anywhere and get a funny look at worst. If you mind your own business most people will leave you alone. Going into “a bad neighborhood” is not really like being a piece of meat in a tiger pit. You’ll probly be okay. (read the rest of this shit…)
SOMEWHERE is a quiet, simple little thing, like a haiku or a bowl of strawberries. In a movie I usually like to see things like plot, momentum, music, etc., but this isn’t that kind of party. It’s Sofia Copolla trying out a new minimalistic style kind of like what seems to be her own personality: soft spoken and shy, but showing a subtle wit. Some of you would fucking hate it. I liked it though. (read the rest of this shit…)
I never heard of Lee Daniels before he got a best director nomination for PRECIOUS, BASED ON etc. Turns out PRECIOUS… is his third movie as a director, SHADOWBOXER is his first, and Kent M. Beeson insisted in the comments that I had to see it.
I’ve seen a few interviews and things with Daniels, and he seems like a nice, normal guy. Based on these movies alone, though, you’d have to assume the motherfucker is nuts.
SHADOWBOXER is a very serious crime drama. It has some colorful characters and intense violence, but it’s not an action movie at all. It’s focused on the characters, and with its lush colors, weakness for soft lighting and classical music it’s a similar style to PRECIOUS. It’s the story of a male-female team of assassins who, when hired to take out a crime boss’s pregnant wife (Vanessa Ferlito from DEATH PROOF) decide instead to deliver the baby and take mother and child into hiding.
The two killers have a strong attachment, they take care of each other, and they are lovers. And, uh, they’re played by Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Helen Mirren. Hahem. (read the rest of this shit…)
Here’s a small time crime picture for you, never got much attention as a child but grew up to be a pretty good movie. It starts out with Timothy Hutton stealing a car (very believable hotwire scene here with actual hammering of the dashboard, not just pulling some wires out) then going to pick up his partner for a job. They eventually get together their crew for a jewel heist, it consists of Timothy Hutton, his older brother Roy Egan (Harvey Keitel), Jorge (some guy I thought I recognized, but turns out he was only in a handful of movies before he died) and an obnoxious hotshot jackass named Skip, sort of a Stephen Dorff type (Stephen Dorff).
There is a pretty strong Richard Stark feel to this for a while as they prepare their heist. No funny stuff, no fancy talk, just straight business and some primal percussion type soundtrack shit to get your heart beating. Everything goes smooth actually until after the heist when this fucker Skip decides to shoot everybody, burn down the motor home and take off with the boodle. Fucking asshole! So the rest of the movie is about Roy trying to find and kill Skip, Skip trying to have Roy killed before he finds him. Very simple. That’s what I like. (read the rest of this shit…)
For the first time in the one (1) year since I got out, I feel like someone has heard me as I shouted to the sky my feelings about the Cinema. Or at least came up with the same ideas seperately. Mr. John Waters is the filmatist in question and this gentleman has created one of the greatest movies EVER about the movies to come out in the last year at least from the ones I have seen. Which is not many but still. This is a must-see picture for Cinema Outlaws like you and me because it takes all of our arguments and wads them all up into a big ball and then molds them into the shape of an entertaining movie.
It is kind of weird seeing a John Waters picture around the same time you see one about GG Allin. John Waters if I remember correctly had a friend who dressed up like a woman and ate poodle shit. That in my opinion is pushing the envelope further than GG Allin since Allin was only eating his own shit. When it is your own shit you got a pretty good idea what’s in it, you are able to control it. With a poodle, who the fuck knows what that poodle is shitting out. I mean jesus dogs do some pretty sick shit. Like one time I saw a dog in this rat infested junkyard, well forget it this is maybe not the best tangent to go on I don’t really want to think about all this shit eating. (read the rest of this shit…)