Is it seriously possible that I watched more movies this week than I did last week? It is! The big highlight of the week was finally getting to see my wife in a local production of Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park With George. This was easily my favorite show of hers that I've seen and I thought she did a phenomenal job as Frieda. So, way to go @VFCinema!
My Cineawesome! Western Review of the Week was The Hunting Party, and as much as I enjoyed the last batch of Black & Whites I was quite happy to tackle something extremely violent and deplorable in that post-Peckinpah wild west. And Gene Hackman is so darn despicable in that flick and it led nicely into my viewing of Prime Cut later in the week in which Hackman puts out all his disgusting chops as the psycho Mary Ann. And that Triple Feature I did of Prime Cut/Point Blank/The Limey was easily my favorite movie night of the week.
But I didn't get much reading done. Just a few single issue of comics, nothing major. Next week I'm hoping to re-enter the world of John Carter in preparation of the new Disney flick. Bought the three volume Disney Editions set and I'm hoping to have at least the first couple of book read before the Andrew Stanton film drops early March. And I've still got a bunch of Parker books I want to read and James Sallis' Drive novel. It's a busy life being a dork.
TV OF THE WEEK!
Twin Peaks Episodes 19 & 20: With the Wife working so many late nights this week we did not have as many opportunities to crank out the Twin Peaks. Hopefully next week we'll finally get this show concluded and pop in Fire Walk With Me. But the two eps we watched were pretty entertaining. The Laura Palmer business appears to be pretty much wrapped up, and episode 20 seems also to have concluded the criminal dealings of Michael Parks' drug dealing, French Canadian pimp Jean Renault. That episode also offered one of my favorite bits from the show so far when Sheriff Harry S. Truman deputized Agent Cooper with a Twin Peaks PD badge, Kyle McLaughlin stroking the badge lovingly brought me tremendous pleasure. So, what mysteries to we have left? There still all that crazy Don S Davis White Lodge/Black Lodge business, the owls not appearing what they seem, and Windom Earle has left a corpse puzzle piece but for Cooper. Can't wait to get The Wife to the end, and I'm very curious to see what she thinks of Lynch's prequel film.
Justified Season 3 "The Devil You Know": Squeee! I love this show so much! After last week's Devil pledge to Boyd, Kevin Rankin gets some time on his own to mull over his loyalty and surprisingly this serves to finally gel Neal McDonough's villain with the rest of the cast--Timothy Olyphant's introduction to that character was hilarious. Plus the main Dickie/Dewey kidnapping plot was heaps of fun and it looks like that's going to tie in with some of the plot elements from Elmore Leonard's latest Raylan novel. Can't wait to tune in next week, same Bat time, same Bat Channel.
Supernatural Season 7 "The Slice Girls": Not as enjoyable as last week's Elliot Ness time travel episode, but The Slice Girls provides for several classic Dean moments. While Jared Paledecki investigates a series of ritualistic killings, Jensen Ackels hooks up with yet another hottie--and impregnates her with his seed! That's right, in this episode Jensen Ackels produces a child--a knife wielding monster child that's gonna have to be put down brutally! It's madness like this that makes this show so much damn fun.
MOVIES OF THE WEEK!
The Hunting Party: "I like being kicked." I hope you feel the same as LQ Jones' murderous bandit, cuz you are in for some serious punishment when you pop in this incredibly brutal (and bloody) Western. Gene Hackman is a wretched monster of a husband who thinks nothing of putting out cigars on prostitutes when he's not raping his wife. Oliver Reed is a villainous gang leader who kidnaps Candice Bergen in order to learn to read and rape her before the rest of his gang has their way with her. Fun times? No. But if you're in the mood for an unforgiving slog through a hateful Western than The Hunting Party fits the bill. Reed and Hackman are great in their perspective scumbag parts, and the unrelenting violence definitely keeps the proceedings from being anything but boring. Definitely not for everybody, but sickos like me will enjoy. For further hyperbolic statements regarding the depravity involved read my review over at Cineawesome.
Picasso Trigger: "I got a Black Belt in Shotgun." The third film in Andy Sidaris' loosely connected Malibu Express saga still manages to cram in as much terrible dialog and random T & A as possible, but it lacks the insanity of his previous two films. A bunch of busty super agents and a couple of goofy meatheads team up to take off their clothes and take down the villainous Picasso Trigger. Sure, there are gems like "Is that a snorkel in his pocket or is he just happy to see me" and "You know I had rug burns on my rear for a week...it was worth it" but after a while I was immune to the stilted line readings and just wanted to see more skateboarders get exploded with rocket launchers.
Savage Beach: Donna Speir & Hope Marie Carlton are back as the DEA Super Agents charged with protecting Hawaii from nefarious treasure hunters on the hunt for lost Samurai gold...or something. Four films (and Abeline cousins) into Andy Sedaris' Malibu Express saga and the thrill seems to be slipping from the whacky T & A antics. The films feel routine by this point and Savage Beach never cranks it up to 11 with its trashy dialog or mundane action sequences. Will Sedaris reclaim the madness of his first two films? Fingers crossed.
Raiding The Lost Ark: "It's not the years, darling. It's the mileage." DIY Geek Jamie Benning turns from Star Wars to Raider of the Lost Ark for his latest Filmumentary and it is an impressively exhaustive look into Indiana Jones' first adventure. As the film plays from the first to last frame, Benning interjects interviews, behind-the-scenes-footage, storyboards, and comic books to give you the most extensive look into one of the all time great A-Budget B-Pictures. After two hours and twenty minutes you will find new appreciation and love for a film you probably thought you couldn't love or appreciate any more than you already do. Now it's time to dive back into the whole series. And yes, even Crystal Skull.
Texas Killing Fields: A frustratingly subpar serial killer thriller starring the generally boring Sam Worthington, the promising Jeffery Dean Morgan (who I love, love, love, love in his various Supernatural guest stars as well as The Comedian in Watchmen), and nearly unwatchable Jessica Chastain--she was solid in Tree of Life but she's playing it way too tough here and I could almost recognize Michelle Rodriguez's pretend macho face. Chloe Moretz pops up as the child in danger and the second you see Stephen Graham on screen you know what's going on with the plot. Lame.
The Mercenary: What sets Sergio Corbucci's Spaghetti Westerns apart from Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns? How 'bout a woman dressed as Jesus Christ mowing down the Mexican Army as they prance about a parade of fireworks? Or how 'bout a knockdown dragout fight between Franco Nero & Tony Musante in which donkeys are accidentally punched, pumpkins are tossed, and a chicken is saved from becoming an instrument of death? And those are just minor moments of mental. Leone is a madman. But Corbucci is seriously crazy. And yeah, The Mercenary is whole heaps of fun, but it also doesn't touch the brilliance of The Great Silence, The Hellbenders, or Django. If you haven't checked those out yet than you best correct that situation immediately.
Road House: The night Patrick Swayze died the movie I had to watch was Road House. And now Ben Gazzara has passed and instead of watching Capone or Saint Jack, I had to watch Road House...and force Matt to watch it with me. It's pure 80s gold. And I love this film unabashedly and not at all in an ironic way. Swayze's Dalton (a zen bruiser who holds an NYU Doctorate in Philosophy as well as in Barroom Butt Kickery) is goofy but Goofy Cool. The film bleeds with the insanity of producer Joel Silver's id, ego, and SUPER EGO. Lots of Boobs (both men & women). Lots of Blood. Lots of Neon. And I love the Western plot of a man coming to town to clean out the trash and eventually unite said town with blood fueled shotgunning. And let's not forget the Iconic Cool of Sam Elliot as Dalton's bouncer mentor. Or the crazed beast of Ben Gazzara. And remember, Dalton can win a game of Connect Four in only three moves.
Prime Cut: After receiving a package of hotmandogs, the remnants of the crumbling Chicago Mob send Lee Marvin down to Kansas City to fetch their money and exact some serious punishment on Gene Hackman's gutmuncher cattle goon. Prime Cut is one of the all time great crime stories of the 1970s and it doesn't get the love it deserves these days. City Slicker Mobsters descend into Middle American Hell with gawking blonde shotgun farmboys as demons. Maybe not my favorite Marvin movie (Point Blank is A No. 1, see below), but his satchel full of guns toting Devlin is my favorite Marvin character and probably the closest he's come to capturing the Parker of Richard Stark's novels. Gene Hackman's Mary Ann is sooooo vile and disgusting, a spiritual predecessor to his rich rancher from The Hunting Party and you do not want to be anywhere near him when he's 1. feasting on cow pieces 2. Wrassling with his Hotdog wielding brother. And Sissy Spacek has never been better than she is here as the girlflesh Poppy; utterly sweet & innocent while also managing to be nowhere near sweet & innocent. Prime Cut is a Great Movie, but don't make the mistake I did: eating my Chipotle Burrito Bowl dinner while the meat packing credits churned on. Unpleasant.
Point Blank: KLACK KLACK KLACK KLACK KLACK. That's the spit-shined sound of doom coming to wrap you on the face with the butt of its gun. Lee Marvin as the wronged gangster Walker is an unstoppable force. Double-crossers John Vernon and Sharon Acker never had a chance after they stole the loot and left Marvin for dead...but someone's gotta pay. Point Blank is not only Marvin's masterpiece, but also stylishly insane director John Boorman's; possibly the greatest story of dirty money vengeance and based on Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake)'s brutal novel The Hunter. Essential Crime Viewing.
The Limey: Stephen Soderbergh's finest hour is this dread soaked revenger starring the animal Terrance Stamp storming across the pond in an epic quest to put his mitts upon the throat of Peter Fonda. Soderbergh takes the opportunity to try-on the non-linear narrative jumps of John Boorman's Point Blank and succeeds where most other thieves fail. And Terrance Stamp is a wonder. "Tell Him I'm Fucking Coming!" I've never believed a fictional man more when he screams this promise of vengeance. Does he get the satisfaction? Revelation? Watch the damn movie. And Luis Guizman, Peter Fonda, Nicky Katt are all great as the poor saps that fall upon the beast's path.
Safe House: As the saying goes, "Everything Old Is Old Again"...uh...Safe House has a fine cast of thankless roles performed admirably but even as I type this micro-review the plot is slipping from my memory. Can you spot the diabolical CIA mole: Sam Shepard, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson? So obvious it's pathetic. I will admit that there is at least one knockdown, dragout fight towards the climax that I found thrilling in that Bourne wannabe-style direction and it's amazing how one haircut can transform contemporary scruffy Denzel into young, sexy, Virtuosity Denzel.
Guns: "Murder by Federal Officer is still Murder." Five films into the Malibu Express franchise and director Andy Sidaris has finally snagged himself some A-List talent in Erik Estrada and Danny Trejo...did I say A-List, how 'bout D-List talent. Guns is a bit of a step up in the entertainment factor from the last two Sidaris flicks with more unnecessary rocket launcher killings, running beach high fives, and plenty of boobs boobs boobs...although, strangely it takes nearly twenty minutes before the T&A randomly appears. Dona Speir is still around, but she's got a new partner in the so-so Roberta Vasquez and the Cousin Aberline is particularly dopey here. But if you're looking for that particular brand of Sidaris bonkers than Guns is a good pick from the pack.
Stone Cold: Those Cineawesome boys were not lying, Tom Selleck's first entry in the Jesse Stone Robert Parker adaptations is shockingly enjoyable for a made-for-tv-movie. Tom Selleck continues to prove that he's better than where his career path has taken him; he shows tremendous charisma and charm as the properly brutish Sheriff on the hunt for a pair of serial killers in Paradise, MA. The plot takes the characters to some impressively dark places. Don't expect something wholeheartedly original, but there is tremendous promise in a series centered around Selleck and I look forward to cranking out the other flicks.
COMICS OF THE WEEK!
Winter Soldier #1: After the disappointing super heroics of Brubaker's latest Captain America arc it's nice to see him concentrate on the crazy espionage stuff with this Winter Soldier spinoff. His Cap work seems to be Marvel dictated and this Winter Soldier story seems to be the proper continuation of what he has been working on since his original Winter Soldier arcs from 7 (?) years back. But it's not all Cold War flashbacks and Bucky guilt. There's Gorillas with Machine Guns too. Reminds you that, yes, this is still the Marvel Universe. As usual, this will probably read better in trade but I think I'll keep chugging along with the staple comics.
Lobster Johnson The Burning Hand #1: I love Mignola's pulp creation, Lobster Johnson. It's such a damn silly image but also somehow a seriously kickass image as well. But outside of the Hellboy and BPRD appearances, he's never really worked as a character. The Burning Hand starts off with some potential as mobsters fake Injun Ghost killings and a plucky reporter closes in on the vengeance of The Claw. Hopefully, this will be the arc in which Lobster Johnson shines.
Hawken #1 & #2: This was definitely my favorite comic of the week. I first ran across Timothy Truman's art on the Joe R Lansdale weird ass Jonah Hex comics, and that lead me to his Scout books as well as his work on the recent Dark Horse Conan runs. For Hawken, he teams up with his writer son Benjamin Truman and they've cranked out an incredibly entertaining and messed-up Weird Western about a scumbag Cowboy who's visited by the poor saps he's killed. Not sure where this story is going, but it's gonna be grim.