Monthly Archives: April 2010

Classic Movie Review: Flashpoint

It’s been a day or two since I watched Flashpoint, one of my latest Laserdisc aquisitions, and I’m still trying to figure out a lot of shit. Even the title of the film is a mystery to me. A “flashpoint” is defined as:

1. The lowest temperature at which the vapor of a combustible liquid can be made to ignite momentarily in air.
2.
The point at which eruption into significant action, creation, or violence occurs

Now, I can tell you that at no time are liquids ever involved in this movie. Believe me, it takes place in Texas. And I’m pretty sure the moment of significant action actually comes offscreen in this feature, though the resulting violence itself is sweet, sweet justice This means spoilers people, spoilers on a 26 year old movie. You are warned.

The film opens on Border Patrol agents and good buddies Bobby (Kris Kristofferson) and Ernie (Treat Williams). These guys are close, man. So close, that the movie opens on them taking a totally non-erotic partolman shower together. Well, really, Ernie is passed out drunker ‘n shit, and Bobby blasts him with the cold wake up call. This ruins Ernie’s day, so he spends the rest of the movie being a hot headed, whiny, “and the horse you rode in on” kind of dick. Bobby, on the other hand, is too old for this shit and doesn’t give a fuck either way. So, yea-not the most likable leads, but it’s cool.

These guys are all bent out of shape because “the man” is replacing their patrol jobs with sensors. You see, this being 1984 and all, the film carries a slightly out of left field anti-technology stance, as the evil Feds come in and wreck everything for the little guys. Thanks a lot big brother.

It’s in the desert that our boys run across their respective love interests, Doris (Jean Smart) and Ellen (Tess Harper) stranded wih a broke down car. It doesn’t take much to convince the ladies to hook up with the gents, as they quickly couple up,  Bobby and Ellen, and Ernie and Doris. Or as Ernie call her, “the mean one.” And he’s right too, she’s a big ol’ bitch. Please enjoy this scene from the movie overdubbed with a Kristofferson song (way to do it Youtube).

After about 20 minutes or so, our movie decides to try and start it’s plot, when Bobby finds a Jeep buried in the desert. He digs it up, along with the skeletal driver, a rifle, and $800K. Well, now. Thing are getting interesting. But, Ernie’s not so sure about this. I mean, the money is 20 year old, but still good. They could be living the good life, all he’s got to do is say yes. But the poor bastard’s all hung up on the morality of it all.

In the meantime, these guys are still Border Agents, and thus have some illegal drug smuggling to bust. Unbeknown to them, some higher up are in on it, as Bobby and Ernie are forced to team up with Agent Dickwad (Kurtwood Smith) and his goons. Suspicious after the feds seemingly tip off the dealers, our two heroes decide it’s time to take the money and run.

BUT WAIT!

You see, this whole time, this whole movie, it’s all been a conspiracy, man. Yea, those guys in their suits? They’re the spooks, man! They were in on it man. We’re talking the big one. The real deal. See, this movie’s actually about JFK, man! That rifle in the jeep? That’s the one ‘at did it. Oh, man.

Damn you, gun!

Sadly, the climax of the film doesn’t go so well for Ernie. Moral hang ups having gotten his partner killed,  Bobby finishes this movie by thankfully getting revenge in the best possible way. There’s yelling, There’s a show down,and Kristofferson totally unloads a whole clip on Red. But, at what point do things flash? I have no idea.

This is a surprisingly slow and thoughtful movie. Things take time. The guys talk about stuff. There’s very little action at all. Often I thought of No Country For Old Men, and not only because Tess Harper also played Tommy Lee Jone’s wife in that one, but for the overall pace off it. Surely, it’s nowhere near NCFOM in terms of tension or overall effectiveness, but it goes for that vibe, rather than making this an old west shoot ’em up. I liked that.

The hole cast in this is great. Treat Williams is one of my personal favorites anytime, but everyone here is pretty right on, especially Kurtwood. And there’s even the likes of Rip Torn and Miguel Ferrer too.

But the best part? That’s easy. Tangerine Dream. They did the whole soundtrack. Awesome! Please, now enjoy some of the music overdubbed across shots of the soundtrack LP. Again, many thanks Youtube.

But you know what sucks? They were going to do an end title song, you know for the credits and stuff? But no, the director didn’t want that. Well, turns out he wants to use some super expensive Rolling Stones song, the studio says no, and some intern writes the “Flashpoint” end title song. AND it sucks! It’s the worst song to end the movie you could possibly have. AND now we live in a world deprived of a Tangerine Dream song about Flashpoint.

This one has mostly been forgotten, and it’s easy to see why. But, there’s still some great moments. A solid 7.JUst don’t go in expecting any flashiness whatsoever.

-Charlie


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Happy Earth Day, Planeteers!

Everyone is celebrating, or completely ignoring the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day today in their own way.  But this year, with a volcano disrupting life overseas, and earthquakes creeping up our coastline, I propose actually taking a second to think about our daily impact and how we can change that. Why not? Mother Nature looks pissed.

For their part, the Boomerang channel is airing an all-day Captain Planet marathon. For my part, I’m watching it.  What have you done for the Earth lately?

I rarely saw this show as a kid, so watching these now, Captain Planet is basically the weakest hero of all time. He gets his power from jewelery, works for Gaia-a super hot Earth God, but NEVER gets with her, has the worst haircut (even worse than He-Man’s mop top) and basically dies the first time he fights in every episode, and it’s up to the kids to figure out how to save him or summon him in such a way as to allow him the easiest possible win of all time. Often the monkey that belongs to Ma-ti does this.

There are some good parts, like the occasional skin cancer straight talk, or the the rap at the end, or the appearance of Hitler in a fu manchu, but overall I didn’t miss much.

And maybe the point is that Captain Planet and Earth Day have the same problem. Environmentalism isn’t particularly sexy or cool. When it’s spokespeople are the likes of Ed Begley Jr. and Ma-ti, you have a serious image issue. That’s why Captain Planet needs to come back into the mainstream conscious again, and he needs a makeover.

But, I doubt anyone is really interested in bringing back the Planeteers, it’s just not marketable, which, ironically, is exactly what a villain tells them about environmentalism in general in one episode.

But looting and polluting is not the way, hear what Captain Planet has to say.

The power is yours!

-Charlie

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Well, Captain America is Screwed.

No, there is no way this poster is official in any way whatsoever. It’s fan made, and I ripped it off of Topless Robot, but damn if this isn’t the closest thing we are going to get to awesome in the upcoming Captain America movie. It’s been hyped and followed, with rabid Cap fans coming out of the woodwork to drool over casting choices and any kind of updates they’ll toss our way. But we’re all missing the big picture here. And that is that this movie is doomed. DOOOOOMED! And here’s why:

1. The Captain’s film history so far does not bode well.

Whether it’s in the lackadaisical 70’s TV movies, featuring Captain America in a motorcycle helmet for a mask and tossing around a plastic shield, or the 90’s straight to video abomination that’s basically known only as the movie too awful to release in theaters, this just hasn’t been Cap’s territory. He’s a colorful character, and a boyscout to boost. And neither of these things are going for him.

It’s not like Superman, a character who is universally and instantly recognized as a superhero fighting for the American Way. Captain America is at once a more obvious character (as in Captain Obvious America) and cryptic. He’s not so universally known. And those who know him equate him with old fashioned. Plain and simple, he’s one of the most dated personalities around. And it’s going to hurt him in the long run.

2. Joe Johnston.

One of my favorite internet critics, the Cinema Snob, put it best while reviewing director Joe Johnston’s latest film, The Wolfman. It went along the lines of, “the phrase ‘I’m a huge Joe Johnston fan’ have never been uttered on this Earth.”

Now, the man is a pretty good guy, I’m sure. And he does have the credit of working on the original Star Wars trilogy as an FX tech. But his resume is not making me comfortable. Johnston is the man responsible for directing such stinkers as Jurassic Park 3 and Hildago. And his better films are all kids movies! Jumanji, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Rocketeer, all decent movies I suppose, but all are aimed at 12 year olds. The First Avenger: Captain America is going to be a WWII film, you know? With Nazi’s and a dude whose head is a skull? I just don’t want it to look like a fucking cartoon this time.

3. Chris Evans.

Sorry fanboys, but this is not going to go well. I know everyone was really holding their breath over this one, but the ever smug Chris Evans should not be playing Captain America. A) He’s already the Human Torch, and I hate hate hate it when the same actor is playing different dudes in the same film universe. Point is, he’s already taken. B) The man cannot headline a film. Evans is a decent actor, especially when he’s playing in an ensemble cast. He’s good in Sunshine, Danny Boyle’s overlooked sci fi film, he’s featured in movies like Push, and upcoming in this year’s The Losers, but you’ll notice he’s always in the crowd, in the background even. What’s even worse is knowing this means the movie will now have dozens of gratuitous scenes where Captain America isn’t wearing a shirt. I swear, if I have to see this guy in a fucking towel, I’m going to lose it. Lose it!

4. Bucky Barnes.

Seriously? Fucking Bucky’s going to be in this thing? Why? If film adaptations of comic books have taught us nothing else, it’s that we don’t care about the sidekicks. Especially the likes of Bucky over here. And especially in the main hero’s first film outing. And it’s not even like Bucky is all that well known. Again, Captain America is not as universal as we (ahem) Americans think he is. Cap and Bucky just don’t come together in people’s minds like Batman and Robin, or even Yogi Bear and Boo Boo for shit’s sake. At least they didn’t cast Shia Lebouf for it. Then shit would’ve gotten really ugly.

5. The movie itself, as we know it.

Let’s review some other known facts. The two screenwriters are the guys who brought us the Chronicles of Narnia movies. And nothing else! Shit. The synopsis says that Steve Rogers (aka Cap) is developed into a super soldier, but then deployed as a USO clown, hence the colorful costume. Sigh. Incredible Hulk director Louis Leterrier offered his services, but Marvel turned him down. Sorry Louie, Joe Johnston’s got this one. Take it away Joe!

There you have it. Over a year from theaters, and this one’s already in the toilet. Oh well, at least he’s not fighting the teabaggers.

That would be really silly, right? Right? Guys?

-Charlie

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