Sunday, July 3, 2011

Brad's Week in Dork! (6/26-7/2)

My viewing habits are usually all over the map, but for whatever reason I just went nuts with the selection this week.  After finally cracking open Criterion's BBS box set last week with HEAD I progressed with the fantastic picture quality of Easy Rider, but stalled out on the politics of Drive He Said.  Gotta keep pressing with that box set this week.  I also cracked open two more titles from the Warner Archive (Dark of the Sun & Freebie and the Bean) and just like last week's Razorback I was kinda floored by both flicks.  God Bless the good people over at the Archive.

But the big release this week was definitely Michael Bay's Transformers 3 and I cannot possibly hate on the ridiculous Summer Blockbuster like some other ITMODers out there.  If you didn't like the previous two than you're not gonna dig this one; everything is cranked up to 11...even the goofy kinda crappy humor which I honestly enjoy.


Easy Rider:  Having not lived the time, Easy Rider seems to be a film representative of a particular aspect of a particular time and I'm not sure you can fully appreciate it unless you were there and a part of it. Easy Rider is definitely not of my father's 60s or my mother's 60s but I'm sure it's a part of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper's 60s. The film doesn't really capture me. I love the cinematography and the road picture aspect of it. And I think Jack Nicholson is excellent as the sauced George. But the acid trip cemetery sequence just doesn't fly with me and the Hicks vs. Hippies climax seems silly.

Kill The Irishman:  Disappointingly so-so, Kill The Irishman appears to have a fantastic cast in Ray Stevenson, Val Kilmer, Christopher Walken, Vincent D'Onofrio, Robert Davi, Paul Sorvino, Vinnie Jones, and Lina Cardellini. Right? That sounds killer! But there really is not much for anybody to do. It's typical a-to-b plotting for Stevenson's rise & fall mini-mob boss and there is little to no flash from the actors involved. Plus, the film has to get a few points taken off for the seemingly endless CGI Car Bomb explosions; they are shockingly terrible.

Drive He Said:  I just don't get this movie. Or at least this movie doesn't get me. Again, maybe it's like Easy Rider where you have to have lived that particular aspect of that particular time, but at least with Easy Rider the road movie is majestic and Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper are so damn iconic. Watching Jack Nicholson's directorial debut, I just despised all the characters involved; wanted to smack the pretension outta their political standings and shake the whine outta them. I can see the beginnings of Jack's One Flew Over The Cuckoo Nest and there are some nice bits...but damn, I really hate these folks.

The Island:  Overlong action film rehashing overused sci-fi concepts...but, it's hard not to be taken with the Michael Bayhem and there is a five minute car chase sequence that is absolutely stunning, climaxing in one of the funniest Amazed Extra one-liners "Jesus Must Love You!" I've ever guffawed at and it's easily worth the price of admission. Also, Michael Clarke Duncan's brief appearance is surprisingly emotional--that man can scream-cry like no one else. The Internet can feel free to hate on Bay but the man knows how to shoot a picture and even though he can often use an editor, I thoroughly enjoy his brand of entertainment...well, not Pearl Harbor.

Dark of the Sun:  A brutal and bleak action adventure film that starts off with this Dirty Dozen vibe but soon descends into its own 9th circle of hell where Rod Raylor and Jim Brown's mercenaries butcher their way outta the Congo with a sack of diamonds in tow. Along the way they chainsaw fight ex-Nazis, machine gun a whole lotta natives, and philosophically debate each other. The climactic fisticuffs brawl is the stuff of THEY LIVE legend.

Eastern Promises:  A perfect companion to A History of Violence, however, Eastern Promises is withoutadoubt the quintessential Viggo Mortensen flick. His Russian driver is a beast of a man, scary as hell, and a supreme asskicker especially when given the opportunity in the blood-splattered buff. Seriously, there is no better depiction of the mob as evil organization than Eastern Promises and all the quiet scenes with patriarch Armin Mueller-Stahl are horrifically terrifying. The whole film yer just waiting for the wolf's teeth to clamp down on poor, righteous Naomi Watts.  In a perfect, mad-world we'd get that Part II Vincent Cassel used to jabber on about.

Transformers Dark of the Moon:  Staunched in weird, awkward humor and absolutely ridiculous in its Michael Bayhem, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a joyfully long Summer Explosionfest in which the classic action figures of my youth (Optimus Prime! Megatron! Bumblebee! Shockwave!) duke it out in splattery CGI glory while Shia LaBeouf screams uncontrollably from the sidelines. If you hate this type of timesuck, than the third outing is not going to flip the switch in yer cheerless mind, but if you allow yourself the pleasure of the gratuitous chaos than you might have a little fun. And again the franchise is peppered with odd and unnecessary bit roles from John Malkovich, Patrick Dempsey, John Turturro, Tyrese, Ken Jeong, and Alan Tudyk that spark a smirk or two...or a cynical groan.  BONUS:  No Megan Fox!

A History of Violence:  After middle American diner owner Tom Stall (the continually entertaining Viggo Mortensen) stops a potential Nite Owl Massacre with the careful use of a "Coffee!" Pot and a couple bullets, his life is turned upside down when a couple of mafioso goons arrive on his doorstep claiming to know his younger self. Loosely based on the graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke, David Cronenberg's A History of Violence manages to be an excellent Mob mystery thriller while also punching up the narrative with typical Cronenbergian violence philosophy. Viggo and Maria Bello are strong leads, but my favorite bits come from the scary, scary supporting players of Stephen McHattie, Ed Harris, and the bizzaro William Hurt.

Elektra Luxx:  Just a tad more enjoyable than the previous Women in Trouble, Elektra Luxx has a wonderful cast with Carla Gugino, Timothy Olyphant, Josephy Gordon-Levitt, Malin Akerman, Adrianne Palicki, and Kathleen Quinlan but their characters are still frustratingly paper thin. And the wink-wink porn industry comedy is sooooooo not funny. I'm just not sure what director Sebastian Gutierrez has in mind with these films.

Number One With A Bullet:  Robert Carradine AND Billy Dee Williams in an 80s Buddy Cop Movie in which Peter Graves is their rough-tough police captain!?!?!? This movie should be Awesome! But it's only okay. Carradine is the crazed, hot-tempered cop nicknamed "Berserk" by the local street trash and Billy Dee is the smooth, jazz player cop who gets all the ladies with his sweet, sweet smile. But the plot is forgettable. The shoot-outs and car chases bland. The violence non-existent. Oh well.

Freebie and the Bean:  The Birth of the 80s Buddy Cop flick happened in 1974 with the release of the bizarre, freakshow clash between James Caan's Freebie and Alan Arkin's The Bean. Beating out confessions and shooting lowlifes in the back punctuates the comedy, and you've got at least two of cinema's finest weirdo car chases. Politically incorrect in the nicest way possible, Freebie and The Bean should be cherished by all Hot Fuzzers; the film wanders all over the place but still manages to deliver a rollicking climax.


Crazy 4 Cult Movie Art by Gallery 1988:  Everyone should know that I'm all about the Movie Pop Art phenomenon.  Whether I'm skipping work to bid on Mondo posters or trolling the sites of Nakatomi, Spoke Art, or Phantom City Creative.  One of my other favorite places to go, that I definitely don't talk about as much as the others, is Gallery 1988 where they specialize in some pretty crazy mashups.  Well, now I've got those prints bound on my bookcase rather than hanging on my wall.  I'm cool with that cuz I'm not made of money.


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