Monthly Archives: January 2009

Mickey Rourke: From Barfly to The Wrestler

I’m not going to go on here and declare I know Mickey Rourke’s life story, but I have seen a few of his movies, so here is a brief rundown.

Mickey Rourke is the story of one man, torn between acting and boxing, tormented by self loathing and the perils of success in two different centuries. A mans man. A ladies man. A man for all seasons. Here is a tribute to Mickey.mickeyrourke2

Barfly

Written by Charles Bukowski, about Hank Chinaski, played by Mickey Rourke. Our man spends his time wandering with a drunken stagger and deranged sniker. He’s on the fringe. Gulping down scotch and sodas faster than they can pour ’em. Pushing cars into a busy intersection. Fighting with Frank Stallone in an alley just to do it. Just to get his face beaten bloody. Just to piss off the asshole bartender who constantly thinks he’s hot shit cause he wrote the theme to Rocky.

People didn’t really like this movie at first. There is little to no plot, just a series of ever escalating situations involving booze, blood, and more booze. Rourke handles his character like a spoiled brat at times, and saintly poet at others. He sneers at life, at the cages with golden bars. He rejects life, spending his time with a jaundiced Faye Dunaway and freeloading off friends. His whole life reads zero.

So why this character is so likable is beyond me. I guess that was Bukowski’s charm all along. He lived the life most of us would cringe at yet secretly desire. A life without responsibility, without want (aside from a beer), without rules. This guy just lived-never worried, never stressed, just there enjoying the little things.

Reportedly, Bukowski didn’t care for Rourke’s performance. He writes about Rourke in his novel, Hollywood, calling him a premadonna and a hack. But I found a good deal of subtle anguish within Rourke’s eyes. He slumps along like a man well beaten down by life but never a loser. He even gets one over on Frank, belting him and walking away in silent triumph, its enough to win one every now and then.sc_barfly21

Harley Davidson & The Marlboro Man

Ok, so this one was a bit of revenge for Annie making me watch a horrible movie on Netflix the other week. I put this on as a little surprise, but really its not as bad as what I sat through.

This is like a lazy early ninties look at the mid ninties. It’s set in the future, but if you didn’t already know that, you would miss it. Because they make the most feeble attempts at a futuristic setting ever. Expensive Gas (at 4 bucks a gallon, shudder). A Concord Jet (out of business for over a decade). A Billboard for Die Hard 5 (well we are getting there, aren’t we).

I love movies so old that their distant future is a decade behind us now. Surreal. So Rourke is the titular Harley Davidson. Who is the Marlboro Man you ask? Don fuckin’ Johnson, thats who. Show some respect. don-johnson1

So the highlights of this movie are as follows. Stripper on a bike. Daniel Baldwin. Daniel Baldwin dressed like NEO from the Matrix. Daniel Baldwin shooting the shit out of everything in sight. I love Daniel Baldwin.

Sorry. This is about Mickey, so lets continue. At this point in his career, I think he must have gotten his face tenderized a bit from the ring. And maybe the surgeons knife, cause he looks totally different, more like he does today. A little worse for wear, but a face full of character. And this movie is quite a character study.

Not Really.

This movie had all kinds of crazy action. A motorcycle skids a half mile and blows a car up! These two guys jump from a TALL Vegas roof into a pool and live! Jumping out windows, dodging bullets, motorcycle chases, beating the shit out of big guys with knives. And a helicopter coming down and blasting a high rise window all to Hell. I swear the Matrix ripped this movie off so hard.harley-davidson-the-marlboro-man-wa

Sadly, Rourke has apparently said he signed on to this film purely for monetary reasons, and this is part of what fueled his descent into self-loathing in the mid-’90s, after it made him “…feel like a sell-out.” (IMDB)

Geez, sorry Mickey. Let’s just move on.

The Pledge

This one’s a quickie. Mickey has a small but memorable role in this drama, starring opposite Jack Nicholson and givnig the old boy a run for his money. Rourke plays a father of a missing girl, Jack is the detective tryingto figure it all out. Rourke is in an insane asylum at the time and his performance is nothing short of captivating, as we see his character relive his total breakdown. It’s all in the eyes Mickey, its all in the eyes.

Spun

I just quickly want to comment on one of my favorite performances ever. Mickey Rourke in Spun.

“Hey Senor El Fucking Camino”

I loved this movie, though some people think its too much. But really, it is based off the screenwriter actually driving a meth cook around for three days, just like in the film. It carries a true wieght while being hilariously funny and menacingly brutal. I loved every performance in the film, from Jason Schwartzman, to Patrick Fugit, to Peter Stormare. But Rourke was the all time best. His performance was insane, and then right at the end, he made me fucking cry. Damn Mickey, you are the man.2003_spun_003

Sin City

So we all know the deal with this one. Mickey was the best in it AGAIN. His story had the most fucked up shit, like the cannibal and Rourke’s general makeup job. No need to go into this, lets just say he better kick some more ass in Sin City 2.mickeyrourkemarv

The Wrestler

This is the one. Mickey just got a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Randy “The Ram” Robinson, and he could very well get an Oscar too. And he should. This whole movie works because of Mickey Rourke. I love director Darren Aronofsky. Love him. But he doesn’t do anything in this movie except follow Rourke around with a camera, and make him say sappy and sentimental things to Evan Rachel Wood. Anyone else in this role and the movie flops, a disaster, shameful. But Rourke carries it, embodying this character like no one else can. wrestler-aronofsky-promo-01

Maybe he identified with the over the hill/down on his luck mentality of the character. Maybe he identified with doing WHATEVER it takes to entertain, living off of your blood and sweat and for a single moment being a hero. Either way, Rourke is devastating, brilliant, absolutley at the top of his game in every way. The best moments are when he’s behind a deli counter, swallowing his pride and actually trying to enjoy the mundane existance he has to live through. Or when he’s dancing to Ratt in a bar, remeniscing about the good days, before “That Cobain guy fucked it up” or something like that. This movie was not the greatest thing on Earth (Way too much Tomei if you get my drift) but Rourke was. This man can act. Anyone who disagrees with me is gonna face the Ram Jam. 44475840

So here’s to you Mickey. All the best. You keep making them, I’ll keep watching them.

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Comic Books Are Awesome: Watchmen

This is a bit of an introduction into my love for the graphic novel. Here I will quickly talk about a great story now being turned into a movie, a tricky feat at best.

To begin, Warner Bros own DC Comics. This is why every Batman and Superman film is a Warner Bros picture. About ten years ago, it seemed those franchises were dead, along with the comic book movie in general. Batman had laughed itself into obscurity, as did Superman a decade before that. Do you remember Superman IV: The Quest For Peace? Shudder.

But lately, comic book movies are basically the shit. Batman Begins showed the executives that a serious storyline and good direction could actually make a guy in a Bat Suit look cool  and badass. It worked. The film was eaten up by the fans, but more importantly, respected by the mass audience.

This actually started even a little before Batman Begins. Spiderman and its sequels made a buttload of cash, as did the X-Men movies, and Sin City was considered pretty astounding, but really, we have been getting some crazy amount of superhero movies lately.

And it is because people who did not watch comic book movies, like The Punisher or Hulk, saw these newer ones and actually liked them. They wanted more. And they got it.

In lieu of the latest 200 million dollar budget monstrosity from Warner Bros. (The Dark Knight cost $180 million to make) I thought I would take some time to talk about the source. Alan Moore’s 1987 masterpiece-Watchmen.

YYYEEEAAAHHH!!!!

YYYEEEAAAHHH!!!!

I originally read this comic in it’s entirety about ten years ago (and have re-read it countless times by the way). I bought the trade paperback edition on the advice of the local comic store clerk when I told her I was bored with the usual superhero stuff I’d been reading lately. Yes, I said “her” meaning this was the coolest girl I had ever met at the time, but I digress. She told me that I could either abandon superheros all together and read boring comics, or I could read this. She pointed it out on the rack, and something inside me said, “Do it. Read this.”

I admit, I collected comics starting in about third grade, after receiving a Spiderman story for Christmas. The story was cool, action packed, and a total cliffhanger! I had to buy the next one. Another cliffhanger! Again and again. I got deeper and deeper, developing a love for Batman, Spiderman, the X-Men, and all those guys. Some I loved more than others, some I didn’t really care for, but in general all my money went to comics for a solid ten to twelve years. It was only when allowances ended and finances increased, on gas and rent and food, that I stopped collecting in the rabid fashion I did. But I never lost the love.

And for that love I was rewarded with some of the most BULLSHIT COMICS OF THE DAY, including Spiderman’s clone saga-a two year story about how Peter Parker was just some clone and not the real Spiderman, which made no sense and eventually led to nothing changing. And then there was the Onslaught situation, where Professor Xavier destroys Magnetos mind, only to have it transform into some kind of unstoppable monster thing that the whole Marvel Universe DIES trying to defeat. Only to lead to nothing again, all back to normal next week. Infuriating.

Thankfully, I had stuff like this to keep me going. Watchmen is over twenty years old at this point, but is still one of the most inspiring and controversial comics in history. Many call it the best there is, hands down. I could see that. Certainly it is as close to perfection as a story could get, as far as creating a universe and world for its characters to inhabit, a world at once recognizable, but with an alternate reality sort of vibe.

The characters, specifically, the masked adventurers, are both realistic and extraordinary to behold, especially the frightening Rorschach-a mysterious and intimidating figure behind an ever changing ink blot mask, and The Comedian- an amoral vigilante turned Government operative. These characters take paths that are believable and face the consequences of a society not entirely sympathetic or thankful for their actions. Indeed, vigilantes are outlawed in this world, one full of Big Brother Government and an impending Nuclear War hysteria.

Then there’s this guy. . .

Ummm, pants? Seriously. It's obviously creeping us out.

Ummm, pants? Seriously. It's obviously creeping us out.

Dr. Manhattan is the first superhuman in the world, a real life Superman who is the result of a nuclear accident. He basically does whatever the fuck he wants, no longer feels any connection to humanity in general and spends most of the story living on Mars. He’s awesome.

Dr. Manhattan is one of the most well written characters I have ever come across, cold and distant, he is no longer the man who stepped in the particle whatever machine. He is like a God, thinking of people the way we think of ants, and yet he can remember the past. He can remember warmth and affection and human relationships, he just no longer holds any stock in them. I know, sounds stupid, but its actually deep. Way deeper than I can adequately explain.

The twelve issue saga is wonderfully illustrated by Dave Gibbons, who is probably the only name you’ll see in the films credits. Ever since the movies botched Alan Moore’s previous comics the man has been all, “Fuck you and No, you can’t use my name. Get lost.” Which I kinda like. If you’ve seen League of Extraordinary Gentleman, you understand what I’m talking about. They blew it.  But really, even his other works have gotten a rough treatment. From Hell was o.k. but they totally changed the ending and therefore the entire tone of the story. V For Vendetta was decent, but really, Natalie Portman? Puu-lease. So its understandable that Moore could care less if people associate his name with crap. The man doesn’t need that kind of publicity.

Still, I’m hoping that Watchmen does him proud. It looks fan freakin’ tastic, and the director doesn’t quite have his head ALL the way up his own ass (although the Dawn of the Dead remake was as stupid as it was pointless). So here’s me with fingers crossed hoping this. . .watchmen-cover-12

Doesn’t turn into this…watchmen-babies

-Charlie

PS: DO NOT FUCK THIS UP for us Fox Studios. You will not be liked. Think Metallica suing Napster. How did that go for Metallica? Don’t be pricks.

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Films I’ve Watched: Wendy and Lucy (watched 1/10/09)

Hooo Boy. I finally went to a movie theater for this one. Usually, I don’t like seeing a movie at the theater, and I was reminded in spades last night why.

The movie is Wendy and Lucy. If you’ve not heard, it is the latest by writer and director Kelly Reichardt.  You know her work if you saw Old Joy, a meandering and contemplative film based in Oregon.  This was basically the same, except waaaay sadder.wendy-and-lucy1

Now I live in Oregon. Portland to be specific, but yea, not too many films based around here. So I guess people in these parts get REALLY EXCITED to see things they recognize from their own life on a big screen. I know it’s hard not to. I love watching Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt or The Birds specifically because I grew up in Sonoma County where they take place and I drove pasts all those locations. Wowee.

So this review is about going to the movies, and a little etiquette lesson.

Etiquette number one: In a not crowded, wide open theater, don’t sit directly next to me. I hate that. We got seats nicely in the center, and then BAM! we were surrounded. This group comes in and decides those four seats right next to the six-foot-two grumpy looking motherfucker were THE seats for them. ARRGGHH.

Etiquette lesson two: Chew with your fucking mouth shut! I love popcorn as much as the next guy, but why do you have to love it and share it with the rest of us? Close the trap. It’s gross. Next item.

Etiquette Lesson three: Stop talking during previews. Why do people think that since this isn’t the actual film just yet, they can keep going at full volume? In my opinion, the lights are down, the projector is rolling, shut the fuck up.

Etiquette Lesson four: Please save your questions for the end. I have NEVER once in a movie felt compelled to turn to my companion and ask them anything. The way I see it, they are trying to watch a movie! Save it. When you reference the movie afterwards, I’m sure they will know what part you’re talking about. What is so important you have to share it now? And by the way, I can hear you whispering. We all can.

So, this film, Wendy and Lucy, is a quiet film. Not much dialogue, NO music, just a girl who breaks down in Oregon on her way to Alaska, and loses her dog. And walks around for an hour looking for said dog. That’s about it. It’s hard enough to sit through something this slow and silent without the help of narrators sitting all around you.

Case in point. The woman next to me could not go five minutes without murmuring or moaning in recognition of the locales or props. At one point Wendy, she’s the human in the film, is arrested for shoplifting. Now it’s bad enough we have to watch ten minutes worth of her sitting in a jail cell, completely motionless, but when the form she signs is shown, the woman reads OUT LOUD what it says on the form. What. The. Fuck.

Near Portland is Washington County. OK. We all know that up here. Accepted. Now, when “Washington County” shows up at the top of this form, the woman next to me has to declare it for all, in case we missed the 50 foot letters on the big screen. I actually said in the same tone, “we all read it.” Though she must not have heard me, cause she kept doing it.

Oh look, a tri-Met bus!

Wow, it’s a parking sign just like the one on my street!

Hey, I recognize that taxi company!

YES. YES. IT WAS FILMED IN FUCKING OREGON!oregon_90

We all knew that going into the film, stop acting so surprised. Jesus H. I thought I was really going to lose it.

At one point, we see a guy reading a copy of the book, Sometimes A Great Notion. Now, I have the exact paperback edition the guy was reading, I even have a copy of the Paul Newman film based on the book. And I kept it to myself. Why? Cause I was trying to watch a goddamned movie. This woman next to me has to say the entire title of the book OUT LOUD AGAIN for everyone’s benefit. We all saw it. We can all read, the words are bigger than my entire body, but this bitch thought maybe her dumbass friends were going to miss another reference to Oregon so she just had to narrate the fucking thing for us.  I’m about to scream at this whore!wendyandlucy

Why can’t people just go to a film, sit and watch, appreciate the art on screen, go home to the privacy of their squalor, and THEN talk about the film? Couldn’t that lady have waited to express her interest in the book title, or the Washington County reference, or any of the other stuff she recognized, until later? Why? Why?

So the movie was good. The actress who played Wendy, Michelle Williams, ought to win some awards for her performance, seeing as how she was in every minute of the film and had almost no support technically, from the score or the camera. Will Oldham has a brief cameo as Icky, and gives a hilarious monologue about King Salmon fishing in Alaska. And Lucy the Dog, also featured in Reichardt’s Old Joy, is cute as Hell and very well mannered. But I could not feel sorry for a character who shoplifts with over five hundred dollars in her pocket, or loses her dog after not telling anyone she left it tied up before said shoplifting, or who ignores a simple oil change and loses her car.

These are just common sense things. If you are driving from Indiana to Alaska, get a fucking oil change. If you have a budget that included dog food, buy the food. If your dog is tied up outside the store you are getting arrested in, tell someone before you have already gotten in the cruiser. I don’t know.  Just makes me want to never go to a theater again.

-Charlie

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Films I’ve Watched: Reprise (watched 1/08/09)

Reprise is the debut feature film from writer and director Joachim Trier. If that last name sounds familiar, well, his brother is Lars Von Trier. But this review won’t have a single comparison between the siblings. This film is an artful and engaging work completely on its own, and in many ways superior to anything Lars has done, oh wait that’s a comparison! Dammit!reprise

In all seriousness, I watched this movie, hearing it was one of the best of it’s year, 2006 in homeland Norway, finally released in the states in 2008 I believe. I was not disappointed. This was an amazing film, right from the opening shot all the way through the cathartic ending. It engages the audience and connects the viewer to its characters immediately, and these are some of the most believable and honest characters I’ve seen in recent memory. Not necessarily sympathetic or apathetic, these are simply characters who seem REAL.

The story centers on two friends, Phillip and Erik. They are both young aspiring novelists, and the films opens with them both submitting a manuscript. There is a montage of what the two hoped would become of this endeavor, from cult status, to living abroad, to separating and eventually reuniting and so on. The two writers invent their future in their heads, in a very rapid and artsy style of quick cuts, black and white photography and various New Wave influenced techniques. I was reminded instantly of Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) as if narrated by Jean-Luc Goddard.

We then get a result of what’s become of the two writers, Phillip is published, but finds only alienation and obsession in his success. Erik is actually relieved to be denied, secretly thinking he was talentless and almost happy to have that fear confirmed.

Again, these are complex characters, and the film treats them very realistically, often even garnering a documentary feel with various close ups and extended silences. Yet the artful details make this compelling work all the more fascinating.

It turns out Phillip has had a mental breakdown of sorts and was hospitalized for six months. We accompany Erik and his group of friends as they drive to the institution to pick Phillip up after his extended stay. Things go from humorous to sensitive, as the friends feel for Phillip and yet are unsure of how to act around their fragile companion. We get more information in a quick series of flashbacks than any amount of dialogue could tell us, as Erik looks at Phillip’s hands and quietly remembers the blood on his friend six months earlier.

We then get another series of narration driven flashbacks on how this group of five guys became friends, meeting at punk shows and getting to know the band and all of that. Again, it’s so natural and believable that you never once question what is happening or why it happening, even with seemingly distorted shots and quick, quick cuts between relatively unknown people.

2007_10_05_repriseIn my opinion, the film’s greatest strength is the emotional ties it creates between the audience and the characters. Now I said that these guys weren’t necessarily sympathetic, but I grew so fond of them that I worried for Phillip the way I would for a dear friend of my own, and I rooted for Erik to find his success as I would champion any of my chums.  These are really well written and completely fleshed out portrayals, and the writers, Trier and Eskil Vogt, obviously spent considerable time and have considerable talent to pull this off. On top of that, the actors are some of the most organic and fluent performers I have seen in a long time.

We follow Phillip as he is released, meets up with his former girlfriend Kari, and tries to readjust to life outside the hospital. Meanwhile Erik has written again and is accepted. His book will be published, like Phillip’s was, and we see him struggle with that weighty expectation and the shadow of his famous friend. Phillip doesn’t want to write anymore but we know his passion will win out. All the while they and their friends contemplate life, women and their own failures and triumphs. All of this is beautifully shot and scored, and all with an amazing New Wave soundtrack. Any time you’ve got Joy Division in the opening credits, and it actually works, you’re doing alright in my book.

All throughout the film we see tragedies, experience uncomfortable silences and awkward interaction, engage in subtle contempt and humiliation, and feel constant dread. But this movie is actually pretty funny too. There is a party scene where everyone let loose, dancing and joyously reveling in spirits, followed up by disappointments, and avoided confrontations. The friends all joke about one another, giving each other nicknames like Porno Lars, while still dealing with the painful aspects of growing up and apart as all adults seem to do.

This film more accurately reflects the under the surface pain and struggle we face day in and day out as people than most other outwardly dramatic movies. I’m thinking of movies like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe? or the recent film Doubt, where everyone is just shouting at each other the whole time. Nobody actually acts like that, so why are all these supposed human dramas making it seem like we’re a bunch of screamers? No-we are secretive, we are passive aggressive, we look away from tragedy and conflict, we embrace the past and always romanticize about living in another time, another place. Reprise is an honest examination of how we really are.

I know I don’t really have any jokes to sprinkle in this review, like I do with others, but none are needed. This is a heartfelt and stunning film. I loved it, all the way through. I would certainly recommend this film to art minded people. It is not exactly a crowd pleaser like Run Lola Run, but it has depth, beauty, and wisdom. Anyone who wants to be a writer has to see this film. But regardless, everyone should check it out, before it falls prey to an American remake or some other unfitting treatment. Yes, it has subtitles, but it also has a mountain of talent behind it. I want to watch it again, like, right now. In fact, I’m off to do just that.

-Charlie

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Films I’ve Watched: Bail Out (watched 1/05/09)

Oh. My. God.

So my mom has this running gag where every Christmas she buys me the worst movie she can find at the stores. Real funny. Past entries have included Ang Lee’s Hulk (since I love Jennifer Connelly and for some reason told mom this), the abysmal Bubble Boy, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoons. All in all, they really could be worse movies, and I have told mom this, egging her on to outdo herself one year with a truly hideous, unspeakable piece of film.

Well mom, hats off. You did it. You finally did it.

The film I received in the mail this year was none other than Bail Out.

How bad is it? Well, it stars this man…the-hoff2I know. I’m scared too, Davey.

Seriously, my mom can be so cruel. She knew I would have to watch this. She knew I couldn’t resist. Why?

First thing I did was to look up this movie on IMDB. It wasn’t there. I could not find it. Not on Hasselhoff’s page, not on the director, Max Kleven’s page. Nothing. Then I noticed something. It had a different name on IMDB. What in the Hell…?

Apparently, this movie is also known as, wait for it, wait for it,

W.B., Blue, and the Bean

I don’t get it. The title is obviously Bail Out, right?bail-out-poster1

Of course it is…You don’t have two titles for a movie. That would just be ridiculous, right?

wbblueandthebean2

OK, two titles. Fine. Whatever you say. At least it’s ended with that. So you have two titles. Could be worse.

bail-out-alternate-title-wings-of-freedom

WHAT THE FUCK!?!?  A THIRD TITLE? GET IT TOGETHER MOVIE!

I haven’t even watched this thing yet and already I’m mortified by what I’m seeing! So, besides alternate names and the Hoff’s raging mullet, what else does this thing have going for it?

The back of the box tells me this much, “International action star David Hasselhoff stars in this action comedy about three bumbling bounty hunters on the trail of an escaped daughter of a millionaire.” A few issues with this:

1. International action star? Who are they kidding? I’m sorry, but driving a smart ass car and running down the beach carrying a floaty does not an action star make.

2. The daughter is kidnapped, btw, not escaped.

3. I am hard, hard pressed to call this film either action or comedy, unless aqua marine jumpsuits and racial stereotypes are comedy. Which I guess they are. Moving on.

This film was made in 1988 or so, peak Hoff times, I’m sure, but really I’ve never seen an episode of either Knight Rider or Baywatch, I just never got that chance. Too young? Maybe. Uninterested? There ya go.

So this thing starts off with some jamming 80’s music and the title, Bail Out. Clearly marked in yellow letters, right up front. Bail Out, Not W.B and the whatever. Bail Out!

I really need to emphasize this.

We see a bail bondsman, an obvious cheapskate and all around prick, driving to work and complaining about the lack of business to his associate, a real Lennie Small of a buffoon, who insists on staring straight into the camera as he’s guffawing! Look away, you moron, you’re breaking the fourth wall!

These two wholly unlikable characters finally get a call about a big bail, the daughter of the millionaire, in prison for riding around with a drug dealer. Booya! Now we’re going somewhere.

Cut to some black guy in a Raider’s jacket collecting the bounty on a guy in a boxing ring. Okay, not sure what that’s all about. Turns out this is Blue, a bounty hunter played by Tony Brubaker. You know Tony as “Man on Subway” in Die Hard 3. Or maybe as “Challenger” in Rocky 3. Or …OK you don’t know Tony. But rest assured, he’s an actor and he’s in this movie.

Next we cut to a Mexican family sitting in the kitchen. This is where the brunt of the racism comes into play. The family is ten kids strong, sitting on fridges and under tables, all stereotyped and really vulgarly displayed. The papa, a bounty hunter named Casper “Bean” Garcia (Yes I know, it’s racist) is played by Thomas Rosales Jr. You may know Thomas as the “Armored Truck Driver” in Heat, or maybe as “Chet” in Robocop 2. He’s a bit more familiar, but most of his roles are uncredited. So, good for you Thomas, you’re a sort of a titular character in this one, albeit an alternate title.

These two guys and Hasselhoff eventually team up to get the girl. She’s out on bail, but immediately, and I mean immediately kidnapped. Off the Court House steps immediately. Where are the cops?

She is played by none other than Linda Blair. Wait, what?

Seriously, Linda “your mother sucks cocks in Hell” Blair. OK. I can get behind that, I guess.

She’s kidnapped by the Colombians, who are holding her ransom for all the coke they lost when the car she was riding in got busted by the cops. Seems it was a set up by Iranian competitors and Blair was innocently getting a ride with the unfortunate Colombian who got busted. Oh, and there was about $5 Million in coke in the guys trunk. Good play by the Iranians.

Wow. That’s quite a plot you got there movie.

The Hoff and the other two dimwits are on her trail and they eventually track her to a warehouse. Posing as gas men, they blow up part of the warehouse as a distraction, I think, and drive straight into the Colombian’s hideout. There nothing is resolved, as the Colombians escape with Blair and the Hoff chases them down, again. There’s some car chases and explosions, but it’s all done very cheaply. A close up of a tire getting shot out. Guys who have no blood or bullet holes in them when they get mowed down. Far away cameras catching pretty tepid action scenes.

The Hoff tracks them down and actually rescues Blair. Oh, by the way. I forgot to mention this until now. Hoff’s character is affectionately nicknamed White Bread, or W.B. Mystery of the alternate title solved, let’s continue.

Hoff (W.B.)  and Blair stop at a motel so she can shower (her idea) The Hoff is greeted at the counter by a FULL FRONTAL NAKED WOMAN. Geez movie, its bad enough that these guys are constantly meeting in a seedy strip joint with saggy butts and G-Strings in the foreground, but this is just too  blatant. I get it, it’s one of those motels. Is this part of the comedy?

While Blair’s in the shower, the Hoff starts thinking, “Hey this might not be so bad.” So he gets in the shower afterward, meanwhile Blair runs off with his clothes and his red Chrysler convertible. And I would like to note that the Hoff has been discretely following people this whole movie in a cherry red, top down, Chrysler convertible. Has this movie ever seen a bounty hunter?

Now the Hoff is forced to team up with Blue and the Bean again. (I can’t believe I’m actually typing these words) and they go after Linda Blair AGAIN. All this after a brief scene of Hoff in a towel covered in little hearts. Ha ha?

Guess what, she gets kidnapped. This time by the head of the Colombian cartel, Zalazar, played by Gregory Scott Cummings. You may know Gregory as Mac’s dad in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Here, he’s basically the same character only with a tan, Vanilla Ice hair and a smooooth Colombian accent.

By the way, all the comedy I heard about is basically Hoff saying things like, “just another day at the office” and the Bean confusing tennis terms.  Just so you know. NOT funny, movie.

So Zalazar takes Blair to Mexico! Now the real racism begins. Our bounty hunter trio follows the gang to Mexico, and greets such memorable stereotypes as the Mariachi guy, the banditos and Danny Trejo.

Danny Trejo?

Awesome! This movie just got kinda good, what with Trejo and all. Oh wait, he’s already gone. Three lines and he’s out. What a waste.

Hoff allows himself to be caught by Zalazar to get to Blair while the other two, with a toolbox full of guns and grenades, wait on the outskirts of the camp. At dawn there’s an attack, as the Bean slingshots grenades at various empty shacks, with dead aim mind you, and the Hoff and Blair run for it. They get some horses and shoot it out with some more faceless stereotypes, all with ZERO blood split. Oh, they kill ’em all right. But the invisible bullets apparently cause invisible bullet holes. Makes sense to me.

There’s a final fight, in which the Hoff takes down a helicopter with a flare gun! Seriously. He shoots a flare at a helicopter and the whole thing blows up in an enormous fireball. Wow. Just wow.

Now the trio gets in a plane, sure why not, and starts to head back to America. They’re negotiating payment for the rescue with their awful bail bondsman boss, when Blair tips them off to the cool ten million dollars stashed at the hideout. You didn’t want to share that with us when we were AT THE HIDEOUT?! The movie ends with them all laughing it up as they head back to get the money and kill more Mexicans. That’s it. End of movie.

While the credits roll, I clearly pick up a theme song playing, with a sultry female lead singing about W.B., Blue, and the Bean. That’s funny. A second rate movie like this with a theme song. And the theme’s got the same chorus as the fake title. And then. . . . . . . (extra dots added for effect)

The final title appears. You know how sometimes a movie will repeat the title after all the credits? Like displaying “Shreck 2” at the very end just to hammer the point home that you’ve wasted an hour and a half of your short, meager life watching Shreck 2 and every credit until the tape finally gives up and dies. Well this one does it too. ONLY IT HAS THE ALTERNATE TITLE.

The fucker comes up as W.B., Blue, and the Bean! Shit!

Two titles displayed in one movie. This is unforgivable. I can take the lame one liners, the pointless and dull action, even the Charlton Heston in Touch of Evil level of confused casting, but this? I have had it movie. You’re dead to me. Dead.

Never speak to me again. Damn you Hoff

-Charlie

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Films I’ve Watched: Torn Curtain (watched 1/04/09)

This is a continuation of the series of random film reviews I offer, based on what I’ve watched this year. Last night I had the pleasure of sitting down to one of Alfred Hitchcock’s lesser known masterpieces, Torn Curtain.torn-curtain-poster3

Alfred Hitchcock is, of course, considered one of the most brilliant directors of all time. He is constantly ranked alongside Kurosawa, Bergman, Fellini, all the great auteurs of film; and its tough to argue that distinction. His films have shaped the suspense and horror genres more than any one man. With his signature and unmistakable style, his films were always tense, exciting, twisted, and often humorous.

The reasons why Torn Curtain is not usually considered in the same league as, say, North By Northwest or The Man Who Knew Too much, is more a matter of the expectations and limitations placed on Hitchcock, rather than the film itself. This was Hitchcock’s 50th Film. And as a milestone, critics and fans wanted something ultimately unreachable, a masterwork to end all masterworks. Hitchcock was never like that. He was a man who simply wanted to entertain despite the pressures always put upon him. On top of that, Hitchcock was never fully satisfied with either the script or the actors, basically compromising himself at the behest of the film studios. He even changed composers from long time companion Bernard Herrmann, to John Addison, at the insistence of the that damn studio.  Why the executives always think they’re the filmmakers, I’ll never know.

Now let’s talk about Paul Newman. The legendary actor, who passed away late last year, is nothing short of an institution. He has embodied some of my favorite roles of all time, including Cool Hand Luke and Butch Cassidy. Newman is one of the most charismatic and lovable actors in the history of Hollywood, and America for that matter. For my money, the man could do no wrong.

It is documented that Newman and Hitchcock were at odds often during the filming of Torn Curtain. They were of two different worlds, the young and the experienced. Hitchcock was beginning to look a bit old fashioned by 1966, and Newman, who was already an international star, came from the new schools of film. Whatever the behind the scenes drama, Newman gives a stellar and utterly engrossing performance as Michael Armstrong. Along with Newman was Julie Andrews, Mary Poppins herself, as his fiancee and assistant, Sarah Sherman. Both actors are convincing and well suited to their parts, with both giving unusually sober and tense performances. Newman especially, as the everyman caught up in espionage and deceit, plays his cool exterior with a vulnerable and frightened undertone, entirely appropriate to the part.

Torn Curtain contains something for every fan of Hitchcock. You have suspense, in Newman and Andrew’s increasingly impossible escape from East Germany. You have intrigue, as Newman publicly defects only to secretly double cross the Commies. You have scant bits of humor, like the fake bus full of Communist dissenters forced to pick up the old woman at the bus stop under police escort. “The real bus is right behind us! Uh oh she’s got all these bags, but we have to keep going! Get her on the bus! Get her on the bus!” And she’s thinking how nice everyone is to help her, albeit a little overzealous.

The most memorable scene is clearly the murder on the farm. Newman is found out as a double agent by the man sent to follow him, Gromek. As Gromek confronts Newman and the German woman accomplice it’s clear he has to die. But Newman is no killer, he doesn’t have any gun or training, and Gromek is the assassin here. Whats he going to do? “Get the kitchen knife! Get the shovel! Turn on the gas stove!” The following scene of the fight and his (Gromek’s) death are so intense, so unbearably suspenseful, it’s hard not look away in cringing agony. “Oh no, the knife blade broke off. Oh no, Gromek’s choking Newman. Drag him to the stove, drag damn you. Jesus, this is taking too long, the cabbie right outside is going to hear!” That’s the other brilliant aspect of this scene, almost total silence, just the banging of shovels on shins and the sliding of heels across dusty floors. Amazing.

The film is full of these classic Hitchcock moments. The suspense in the bus is so drawn out you can hardly stand it. The final climax at the ballet, where the ballerina recognizes the “dirty American spies” and the German agents are blocking every escape, it really is too much. This is edge of your seat stuff all the way through.

Another common complaint about this film is the lack of humor. To which I only have to say, “They’re in Communist East Berlin. Since when did Germans have a sense of humor?” Even at that Gromek is pretty funny, using American expressions like Big Deal and Hot Dog. The guy’s a cut-up! He’s a real Gasser! OK enough puns.

Torn Curtain is certainly not the most memorable film in Hitchcock’s cannon, but it serves as an exciting and dramatic step forward in the spy thriller genre, something Hitchcock was constantly improving on as he went. If you are a fan of Hitchcock, don’t miss this one. And if you just want to get lost in Newman’s blue eyes, watch it again. So dreamy. We love ya Paul.

-Charlie

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Films I’ve watched: Lynch (watched 1/3/09)

This is the beginning of a series of film reviews. I take a movie I’ve watched and review it. Some of these will be new films, some old, some I’ve seen a thousand times. But they are films I’ve watched. That’s the only requirement.  Sounds simple enough.  The problem is I watch a lot of bad films. Why do I do this? You tell me. I suppose, like any enthusiast, my expectations are high and my disappointments are common.

lynch-docSuch is the case with the documentary Lynch.

You guessed it, this film is about a filmmaker, David Lynch. Clever title, and this is only the beginning.

I should give some background on David Lynch and me.  I have been watching David Lynch films since before I knew who he was.  The first film of his I remember seeing was Mulholland Drive. I didn’t get it. In fact, I hated it because I didn’t get it. Who was the guy behind the diner? What was the blue box all about? Why the Hell is Naomi Watts acting so poorly?  Over my head by a mile, but I was only, what, sixteen? Seventeen? I didn’t know shit. And still, some scenes stayed with me. The woman singing and fainting while the song continued playing, the director getting manhandled by Billy Ray Cyrus, the tiny grandparents crawling under the door.  These are things you DO NOT FORGET. EVER.

That is how David Lynch is. Indelible. Unforgettable. So unique and so bizarre, he doesn’t seem of this planet. I have since watched Mulholland Drive several times, and while I still don’t get it all the way, I love it. I appreciate it.

I have watched everything by David Lynch that I could find. (Thanks Eric for showing me Wild At Heart and Blue Velvet when I really needed it) I love his short films. I love Twin Peaks. I love his book about Transcendental Meditation. I love David Lynch. I even went to a screening he presented in person of Inland Empire, his most extravagant and controversial “experiment.” I got motion sickness at the screening, and guess what? I fucking loved it.

So why does this documentary suck so much?

It follows David Lynch around as he makes Inland Empire, in sound stages, in Poland, at his office. You would think this would be the ultimate companion piece to the film he made and his visionary talents.  Sadly, this documentary was not made by David Lynch, but rather a lackey, a hanger on. A film school reject with one eye and no brains.  Sitting though this doc is like being really sleepy through a film for long periods of time. You have no idea what is going on, and you really don’t care, you just want to go back to sleep.

The director is credited under the name blackANDwhite. Pretensious. I’m sorry. But you’re a professional. This is not a White Strips video. I want to know your name. The fact that you hide behind this monker is proof of your embarrasssing lack of talent. OOhh, and capitalizing the AND is soo artsy.  Did your parents nod approvingly as they wrote another check for film school?  Again, apologies to blackANDwhite but you suckANDblow.

So what we get throughout the ninety odd minutes is random edits of David Lynch making art, taking to Laura Dern (easily the best parts), soaking a jacket in green paint, and stressing over his latest project.  AND? It leads to nothing. No mood, no integration, no genius. Listen documentary. There is only one David Lynch. AND YOU ARE NOT HIM. So stop trying will ya? Annie said it best, “I didn’t know you could make a documentary about David Lynch so Boring.”

That sums it up. This was a boring movie. It could have been a real insight to Lynch’s thinking, his world, his ideas, but it was too obssessed with making the filmmaker look good. This was a documentary about blackANDwhite trying to ride David Lynch’s coattails to the ends of the Earth. Even in the interviews where David Lynch is talking about Philadelphia or his days growing up in and around Montana, the crew is like, “ha ha David, you’re so funny. I love you soo much, cool, awesome cool.” You guys are boring! Stop getting in the shots! Stop putting the camera on the floor! If I have to tell you one more time to focus that fucking lens, I’m going to lose it!

Oh, and I loved how you guys put in a bunch of pointless footage you obviously shot on your day off about a girl running around a carnival and some kid walking around a factory. Ooh, it’s so Lynch of you. Instead of listening to what David is saying about a film he loves or a thought he has, I have to try to get through another series of out of focus shots of some kid skipping along a street! Stop It! You are not David Lynch. GET OVER IT.

Basically I don’t like this film.

The only thing that this film has going for it is David Lynch. I, like many of fans, could sit through three hours of DV camera footage and call it brilliant. And that is exactly what the documentary is banking on. “Hey, It’s got Lynch, so people will automatically love it.” You almost had me going there for a second documentary, you really did. Too bad you only spent about three minutes in the editing room going, “umm, okay, this and then that and then some other shit. Who care? Its David Lynch.” I care. I fucking care! You insulted my hero by making this, and insulted me by marketing it as innovative and insightful.

Don’t see this documentary if you like David Lynch. It actually does the man a disservice. It makes him look weird, and angry and stupid for hanging around with these idiots all day. If you want to know more about David Lynch, read Lynch On Lynch, or Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity. Or watch anything else about David Lynch. You’ll feel better about your hero and yourself.

-Charlie


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