Sunday, January 22, 2012

Brad's Week in Dork! (1/15/12-1/21/12)

I might not have consumed as many films as I did last week, but I sure had a productive Week in Dork.

After much thought and discussion, I finally kicked off my Westerns Review series over at Cineawesome with the Henry King directed, The Gunfighter.  The purpose of these reviews is not to chat on about all those Great Films like The Searchers or The Wild Bunch, but to tackle lesser known classics or forgotten oddities.  So you can expect to see reviews of The Ox-Bow Incident, The Shooting, Tom Horn, Silent Tongue, Seraphim Falls, and The Proposition in the near future.

And I'm still obsessing over Roger Comran flicks.  After several years of yearning, I finally got my hands on a copy of The St. Valentine's Day Massacre and I was kinda shocked at it's superior quality.  The next goal is to track down X The Man with the X-Ray Eyes and Apache Woman.  The goal is to see all the films referenced in Corman's World that I have not yet devoured.

And the boob tube was another big time killer this week.


Boardwalk Empire Season One:  Most of my week was taken up with my new found obsession, Boardwalk Empire.  A lot of folks I trust told me not to expect much from this show, but I was hooked from the very first pilot and I honestly can't remember the last time an obsession took hold so quickly.  Of course, I love the era.  Prohibition.  Background players made up of a young Capone, Lansky, and Lucky Luciano.  But this is Steve Buscemi's show, and he is utterly brilliant as the puppet master Nucky and Michael Shannon's psychotic G-Man scares the crap outta me.  The season wrapped up a little too neatly and I was left wanting more from some of the supporters like Dabney Coleman's Commodore and Shea Whigham's weak little brother, but I cannot wait to see what violence erupts in the second season.

Supernatural Season 7 Episode "Adventures in Babysitting" & "Time After Time After Time":  Last week's Babysitting Adventure was absolutely terrible thanks to some horrifically annoying teenager casting, but the time traveling Chronos hunt was heaps of fun.  The giddy joys of watching Jensen Ackles run 20s slang against his new partner, Elliot Ness (The X-Files' bastard turncoat, Nicholas Lea!) was nearly uncontrollable.  I swear this show makes me feel like a twelve year old girl, but I love it.  Sure, this season feels a little bit like it's jumped the shark but I could see it regaining steam once the Leviathan Hunt gets proper.

Justified Season 3 Episode "The Gunfighter":  The third season starts off proper with Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins coming to blows in the US Marshals office sending the bad boy Boyd back upstate, Raylan licking his wounds.  But that's just the first of several confrontations in this ep:  Ava & Devil & The Frying Pan, the new big bad Neal McDonough & the in-over-his-head Emitt Arnett, and Raylan's showdown with ice-picker Fletcher.  The overall season arc is not as obvious as last year's, but I can't wait to see where these cowboys go.


The Gunfighter:  ‎"Get Killed Somewhere Else!" Gregory Peck gives one of his finest performances (and quite possibly his finest performance) as the aging (35 years old!) shootist Jimmy Ringo, a man who can't seem to sip a drink without some whelp interrupting him with gunfire. Set mostly in one saloon, tended by a young Karl Malden, The Gunfighter is a near brilliant Western of claustrophobic beauty that set the standards for morally ambivalent Eastwood flicks like The Outlaw Josey Wales and Unforgiven. The script offers lots to chew on with White Hats, Black Hats, and No Hats attempting conflict with Peck's sure aim. And there is an absolutely killer climax.  To read further of my uncontrollable Western love, read my full review over at Cineawesome!

Jackson County Jail:  ‎"They're Going To Kill You." "That Don't Matter. I Was Born Dead." Dang depressing exploitation flick. I really love the first fifteen/twenty minutes and the last fifteen/twenty minutes, but the middle is bogged down in a lot of mundane scripting. A young, Rolling Thunder era Tommy Lee Jones partners up with the savage housewife, Yvette Mimieux after her brutal rape inside a hick jailhouse. Jones is a disgusting brute, but has wonderful chemistry with Mimieux and their final getaway had me cheering the way only B Movie exploitation can. Not a great film, but a must-see for fans of the Roger Corman sensibility.

Haywire:  20 days into the new year and I've finally seen my first new release of 2012. Haywire is a decent enough action flick with director Steven Soderbergh seeming to practice a style exercise similar to Joe Wright's Hanna, but nowhere near as engaging thanks to a fairly lifeless performance from MMA fighter Gina Carano. Hmmmm...that's a bit harsh, she gets the job done. But there are several cringe-inducing line readings ("You Better Run") and even though her beastly man-beatings are seriously badass (the Fassbender hotel 'bout being the film's highlight), Carano would probably have been better served as choreographer than actress. The film is lined with several fine actors (Ewan McGregor, Anotonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, Michael Douglas) but they all seem to be phoning it in for their director friend. Still, you could do worse than Hanna-lite.

Avalanche Express:  A fascinating, if somewhat disturbing film to watch as a film fan. During production of the film both its director Mark Robson and co-star Robert Shaw died of heart attacks just weeks apart. Robert Rietti was brought on to redo Shaw's audio so for the entire runtime you never once hear's Shaw's actual voice. Honestly, how can you get past that? The actual story of Lee Marvin's secret agent escorting Shaw's Soviet defect across foreign borders is fairly dullsville anyway, but it becomes downright surreal with the dubbing. And apparently Monte Hellman and Gene Corman (brother to Roger) were brought on to finish the picture. A bizarre viewing experience.

99 and 44/100% Dead:  Well, this one is just bonkers. The back of the box says "In a future where the laws of reality have been suspended, Harry Crown (Richard Harris) is a hit man..." Well, this ain't sci-fi. And I don't know about this future business. I think it just takes place in a zany comedy world where gunshots are the norm and Chuck Conners can be taken semi-seriously with his interchangeable mechanical arm as he battles it out with Richard Harris in his amazing pair of goofy-cool, thick rimmed glasses. Seriously, what the hell is going on in this film. I need to watch it again. With people. Special People, who can handle the title let alone its whacky antics.

The St. Valentine's Day Massacre:  Directed with the sure hand of a mature Roger Corman, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre is a low-budget, but definitely Hollywood attempt at historical accuracy centering around the infamous 1929 gangland killings of 7 of Bugs Moran's (Ralph Meeker) bootlegger goons. Stuffed with Paul Frees' Dragnet narration, the movie delivers a fairly emotionless account of the events leading up to the killings but thankfully fills the roles of dozens of key characters with fine performances. Jason Robards is piles of fun as the baseball bat swinging Al Capone, and George Segal is genuinely scary as the sandwich chomping lady-beater Peter Gusenberg. And don't blink or you'll miss uncredited assassins Jack Nicholson and Dick Miller.


BPRD Hell on Earth Volume 2--Gods and Monsters:  Having spent decades in the Marvel and DC Universes where catastrophic events (Magneto flipping the world's axis once or twice, for example) it is utterly refreshing to experience the catastrophes on display in The Mignolaverse. B.P.R.D started out as a minor, sister-title to Hellboy but has nearly become the the go-to book for the Hellboy & Co saga. Hell on Earth Volume 1 began with the end of the Frog War and the volcanic devastation of Texas. Volume 2 picks up with horrendous, Hyperborean beasts roving and ravaging good 'ole U.S.of A. Firestarter Liz has gone trailerpark awol and Abe may be the new beast of the Frog Apocalypse. The book literally coaxed a gasp of shock from me at one point, and I'm dying to see where Volume 3's Russia takes the horrors of this story. Whatever the case, the world's axis will not be reset to A-okay.

Witchfinder Volume 2--Lost and Gone Forever:  Mike Mignola's 19th Century Occult Investigator leaves the gothic confines of London for the zombified Wild West of the Americas. And that's kinda my problem with the whole venture. Even though it's rather fun to see Grey parlay with Will Bill Hickock types and rassle demon dogs and you do get a quick peak at his lycanthropic origin--it's just too early in this series to have Grey doing global field trips. Maybe if this was Volume 5 or 6, but I'm just dying to see Grey battling Satan for The Queen.  Still, John Severin's art is bloody brilliant and reminiscent of the best of Richard Corben, especially when handling those demon dogs.


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