Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Collision Course

Image result for collision course 1989When you think Jay Leno you think action star, right?  Sure you do.  You think smooth operator who can pick up chicks by turning on that macho charm.  You think tough guy who can take down a whole gang of real nasty bastards.  That’s why he was the perfect choice to play Detective Tony Costas in the urban cop drama Collision Course.

Ok fine, we all know that was a load of shit.  Jay Leno isn’t synonymous with anything I listed in that last paragraph.  Yet here he is, the lead in a movie about a hard boiled Detroit cop who plays by his own rules, seeks to avenge the death of his junkyard night watchman friend, teams up with a cop from Japan (Pat Morita (Honeymoon in Vegas)) who he has culture clashes with and all of that other boiler plate shit in almost every fuckin’ action film from the 80’s.  He pulls his gun at the drop of a hat, he gets into a motorcycle chase as well as a car chase, he fights with his superior, he has an unbelievably messy disgusting apartment with empty fast food boxes everywhere, he hits up a bottle of booze after a hard day at work and etc.  I mean Jay Leno fuckin’ kills people in this thing.

However, as intriguing as that may sound the picture itself is unremarkable.  You’ve seen it all before and done way better.  The movie this is trying to emulate the most is Beverly Hills Cop but Running Scared also comes to mind.  Both star comedians (Eddie Murphy in the former and Billy Crystal in the later) as wisecracking cops who are really damn good at their jobs.  They may seem like unmanageable goofballs but they get results through determination, doing illegal shit like breaking and entering and stupidly constantly putting themselves in serious danger.

Image result for collision course 1989 car chaseThere really isn’t a ton to say about this piece.  The whole thing feels like it’s on autopilot with no one aspect standing out even a little.  The fact that Pat Morita gets one measly brief mention from me and I’m only now bringing up Chris Sarandon (Fright Night) as the incredibly bland villain and weirdo Tom Noonan (The Monster Squad) as his number two should show you how uninteresting this movie is.  Even these fine actors who are usually entertaining to watch couldn’t do much with the material.

I was hoping for better because some of director Lewis Teague’s other work is kinda fun like The Jewel of the Nile, Cat’s Eye and the notorious Cujo.  But it comes off too low grade.  The action isn’t very well done or inventive, the jokes aren’t funny and the story is whatever (a rich businessman steals a Japanese supercharger that he wants to use in his new cars).

If you’re one of those people who think all action movies are dumb or that anyone can do one then Collision Course will probably cement your stance.  At the same time you could use it as a counterargument to say that it really does take a lot of effort and natural charisma to craft a badass character and film.  Jay Leno doesn’t work as a cool crime fighting ass kicker.  He can’t back his shit up like say Eddie Murphy actually kinda could.  Look, Leno isn’t the worst actor but you can totally tell they tried their best to save his performance in editing.  The camera doesn’t hold on him for more than a few seconds before cutting away.  That must’ve been how long he could keep it together before fucking up.

Image result for collision course 1989And hey, I don’t begrudge Leno for trying out something different because you never know how things will turn out.  He couldn’t have guessed that in a few short years the Tonight Show gig would come along and change his career forever.  I guess an action film was just one of the avenues he was exploring at the time.  It wasn’t in the cards for him to be the next big thing in the genre and after re-watching this one that’s probably for the best.

This buddy cop picture is a mere curiosity now.  It’s all about the weirdness of Leno cast in the hero role.  It seems only to exist to give your friend a confused look on their face.  “Jay Leno did an 80’s action movie?”  Yea, he did.  It’s not as bad as you think (or hope) it is but it damn sure ain’t good.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Visitor (aka Stridulum)

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If you want a serious Exorcist knock off with a sci-fi twist then look no further.  You got a little brat named Katy (Paige Conner) who was born evil due to possessing some sort of genetic material passed down to her from a malicious alien.  Her mother, Barbara (Joanne Nail (Switchblade Sisters)), has the ability to birth these demonic fuckers so a secret society of aliens or alien sympathizers (it’s not clear which) get wind of this and want her to have more kids.  Lance Henriksen (Stone Cold, The Terminator) is recruited on a years long operation to woo Barbara and to try to mate.  Meanwhile Barbara isn’t aware of any of this and seems like a normal person that just happens to have this bizarre DNA inside her.

It’s a cool story even if the inspiration behind it is totally obvious.  Conner as Katy does a great job acting like such an asshole towards everyone and is able to pull off the innocent one moment tear your face off the next shift like a pro.  But she doesn’t physically change appearance like Regan does and it’s unclear if she has supernatural powers.  In the scene where we’re introduced to her she sits courtside at a basketball game and maybe triggers an explosion at the rim of the basket just as the opposing team is about to dunk to win the game.  Katy never shows off anything like this type of ability again so who knows?

Aside from the plot this is an infamous midnight movie more for the whacked out visuals and some interesting casting choices.  The film opens with what appears to be a showdown between our hero and a cloaked figure that turns out to be Katy on a barren alien planet with a swirling liquid sky, a windy snowstorm and a gigantic bright yellow sun.  Nothing is said, they only stare each other down.  Later when our hero comes to Earth (Atlanta to be specific) to setup shop he picks a skyscraper rooftop and his helpers construct rectangular silk cubes in a triangular pattern and he likes to have nighttime sessions of staring at the rooftop while runway lights and a broad green beam strobes on it and makes oscillating noises.  You know, trippy shit.

Image result for the visitor 1979

Image result for the visitor 1979

Most of the picture isn’t like that though.  It’s more about Katy causing trouble like accidentally shooting her mother in the back causing her to be paralyzed from the waist down.  There’s also a detective (Glenn Ford (The Big Heat, 3:10 to Yuma)) and our hero looking for ways to stop her from hurting more people.

And you’re probably wondering by now who is this hero guy?  Well we’ve put it off long enough.  It’s none other than acclaimed director John Huston (The Maltese Falcon, The African Queen, Key Largo, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Man Who Would Be King).  He had done plenty of acting before, probably most famously as the villain in Chinatown, but it’s still so weird to see him in a B sci-fi film.  He was 73 at the time and has wise presence but the thing is he doesn’t actually do a whole lot so they could’ve cast any number of people in the role and it would’ve turned out the same.

Image result for the visitor 1979The other odd person to pop up is fuckin’ Sam Peckinpah (writer/director: The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia).  This one is stranger because he didn’t really do acting.  In here he only has one scene as Barbara’s husband who she goes to seeking an abortion.

The Visitor isn’t as dark as The Exorcist tone wise but there are perhaps creepier notions that it floats.  For instance at one point Barbara gets impregnated without her knowledge.  There’s also the plot point of carrying on a sham relationship with someone for over seven goddamn years (!) for the sole purpose of creating a demonic offspring.  That’s pretty abhorrent behavior if you ask me.

So as you can tell from everything I’ve tried to explain in this review the movie doesn’t convey the clearest storytelling.  There are more than a few head scratching moments.  And yea, it’s kind of a peculiar mix of shit (like the kickass instrumental funk soundtrack which I almost forgot to mention) but hey, it’s certainly entertaining and a decent time in my opinion.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Happy 7th Anniversary!

Yep, we got seven years on us now.  I guess that’s cool.  I never know what to say for these anniversary posts.  Is there anything you guys would like to see more or less of?  Let me know and I’ll try to make it happen.

Anyhow, it really has been magnificent.  Thanks for stopping by and checking out this here blob page.  Come back anytime.  We’ll keep the light on for ya.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Image result for elle 2016 movie isabelle humpertDamn fellas, Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers) has still got it.  This creepy sexy thriller about a woman (Isabelle Huppert (Heaven’s Gate)) who launches a solo investigation to find the identity of the man who raped her one afternoon is prime Verhoeven material (and even has some stink of Joe Eszterhas (Jade, Showgirls) but he wasn’t involved at all).

Huppert is so strong in the lead as a confident successful owner of a video game company.  She refuses to let this agonizing incident ruin her life by attempting to carry on as normal.  But her attacker keeps sending her dirty messages, masturbating in her house while she’s not there and even goes for another rape.  She has to figure out who this monster is and stop him.

Image result for elle 2016 movie isabelle humpertWhat adds to the strange atmosphere of the film is that we find out our protagonist’s father was a murderer who killed many children in their neighborhood.  He’s been locked away in prison for a long time but the past is frequently dragged back to the surface with people giving Huppert dirty looks and throwing garbage on her.  So she doesn’t know if the rape is part of this national hatred towards her family or if it’s completely unrelated.

There’s a lot of weird ass psychological shit to dig into as per usual with Verhoeven.  And of course he knows how to build suspense and create nervous knee tension.  You’re still the fuckin’ man Paul.  Keep on keepin’ on.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Ghost Story

Image result for a ghost storyA Ghost Story would like you all to slow down and smell the roses for a moment.  Take in a deep breath, examine your surroundings, go to a place in your mind where you can meditate.  You know, like ponder life and the universe ‘n shit.  What does it all mean to you?

I know that sounds insufferable but I’ll give the movie some credit for exploring the headiest of heady ideas in not the most pretentious way (still kinda pretentious though).  Casey Affleck (Triple 9) walking around as a ghost trapped in his former house watching many different people live there over the years, including his windowed wife (Rooney Mara (Song to Song)), does make you think beyond yourself.  It does help to give perspective to your own existence and how meaningful or meaningless that may make you feel.  If you step outside yourself does your life and everything in it seem more precious or less precious?  These are all good notions to grapple with and the movie mostly doesn’t shove it in your face that this is what you should be thinking about, or ask: why haven’t you thought about this you selfish asshole?

Image result for a ghost storyHowever, I do have an issue with the scene in the middle of the picture where a guy at a house party spouts his own theory of the universe and tries to sway the audience.  I think if this were done as a conversation between two or more individuals with some back and forth it might’ve worked better.  Instead this guy basically delivers a monologue making him look more smug than smart.  Really I would’ve preferred if this scene were cut entirely and people were left to come up with their own philosophy of what the film presents to you.

Aside from the message/themes there are a bunch of pretty visuals throughout, especially the old fashioned sheet with two eye holes cut out ghost look.  It’s a touch creepy but sad too because the holes droop a bit and you know that a human soul is stuck under there that can’t do much of anything.  The filmmakers were successful in making the sheeted ghost sympathetic and real but also distanced from humanity.

You need to have patience with these ghosts and their stories.  They’ve got nothing but time on their hands so they’re in no hurry to lay something on you.  But if you’re willing to turn off the outside world for a moment and let the movie wash over you it can be rewarding.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Brawl in Cell Block 99

Image result for brawl in cell block 99Pretty incredible action thriller about a drug runner named Bradley Thomas (Vince Vaughn (Domestic Disturbance)).  He gets busted, goes to jail and is then blackmailed by a mob dude to kill some asshole or they’re gonna mutilate his unborn baby. 

In order to reach the target Bradley needs to get transferred out of medium security prison into maximum security prison.  He immediately fucks up a bunch of guards which does the trick rather efficiently.  Now that he’s in the new joint he needs to get to the very scary cell block 99 that’s reserved for the absolute worst of the worst.  It’s a prison within a prison as warden Don Johnson (Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man)) calls it.  If Bradley wants to prevent the bad guys from severing his fetus daughter’s limbs then he’s gotta get in there.

One of the smartest things writer/director S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk) does is take the time to build up Bradley’s backstory.  The movie starts with him getting fired from his tow truck driving gig and then coming home to discover that his wife (Jennifer Carpenter (Seeking Justice)) has been cheating on him.  He’s had enough and can’t play by the rules anymore so he goes to work for his cousin as a drug courier.  Eighteen months later he’s making a shitload of money and he and his wife are expecting a baby and seem truly happy.  So going through the ups and downs with Bradley makes his ultimate downfall fucking heartbreaking.

Image result for brawl in cell block 99This one plays like a Greek tragedy.  The story feels big yet intimate at the same time.  Bradley must journey into hell like a valiant warrior to free his family from the clutches of evil.  At each turn he has to battle crazier and more difficult foes who attempt to thwart his mission.  And the deeper he ventures, figuratively and literally, into the catacombs of the prison he gets farther from reality and who he used to be.  It’s horrific how bad the conditions get with shit clogged toilets, glass shards covering the dirt floor and a belt he’s forced to wear that induces crippling electric shocks at the push of a button.  It’s also outrageous how violent Bradley gets with the folks that cross his path.  Let’s just say that a lot of heads get, uh, sorta smashed.

You gotta check this out.  It’s very Refn-esque with the level of viciousness, the fantastic characters and an elevation of the material through excellent storytelling that only a few can pull off.  If you’re a fan of badass cinema get yourself to the brawl.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Any Given Sunday

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Oliver Stone’s (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) tale of hard knocks football is something I want to love very badly.  It’s a great story about how fucked up the game is for so many people, there are great characters like the cocky yet loveable “Steamin’” Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx (Law Abiding Citizen)), there’s great attitude with an unflattering take on the sport while simultaneously glorifying it, but all of this is unfortunately destroyed by extraordinarily shitty editing.

There’s also some miscasting that’s distracting.  Al Pacino (The Panic in Needle Park) comes off more like a cranky dad armchair quarterbacking than an actual head coach for a major football team.  With his tiny size you know he never played the game when he was younger and because he delivers his lines in kind of a theatrical showy way you don’t believe for a second that he’s really knowledgeable about the topic.

The other miscast actor is Denis Quaid (The Big Easy) as the Miami Sharks’ star quarterback.  He was 45 in real life at the time which is a little too old for the role.  Most quarterbacks are retired by the time they’re 40.  And I know that Quaid’s character is supposed to be at the end of his career but he just physically looks too old.

Image result for any given sundayNow I could overlook a couple of questionable casting decisions but what I can’t get past is how Oliver Stone and four fucking editors (Stuart Levy (Foxcatcher), Thomas J. Nordberg (U Turn), Keith Salmon (Lightning in a Bottle), Stuart Waks (Days of Thunder)) chopped this sonuvabitch up.  There are so many cuts that it’s hard to focus on what’s happening.  But then there’s really on the nose shit too like when Pacino and Foxx are arguing with each other about Foxx’s career there are shots intercut of the sky clouding up quickly building towards a storm.  Get it?  Their relationship is hitting a rough patch you dolts.  Or when Foxx gets put in as quarterback for the first time he gets so nervous that he throws up on the field and the film cuts to a sped-up aerial shot of the stadium with the camera shaking all over the place, plus fifteen other various things.  Whoa this is some crazy shiiiiit!  You think the picture can’t possibly keep up this frantic pace for two and a half hours but fuck me, it somehow does.  I mean each individual shot is good and actually nicely setup and everything but when they’re strung together like someone dumped all the footage into a meat grinder it becomes a chaotic viewing experience (in a bad way).

Add in the fact that the NFL didn’t want to have anything to do with this movie so the filmmakers had to use fake team names and that makes the whole piece feel illegitimate and grimier.  Plus several characters get shortchanged and could’ve even had their own film like linebacker Luther Lavay (Lawrence Taylor (Shaft (2000))) who’s one injury away from paralysis but keeps on playing because how the hell else is he gonna support his family?  This isn’t LL Cool J’s best work either (he did the more fun, although equally outrageous, giant killer shark movie Deep Blue Sea the same year).  You put all this together and you definitely start to have more problems than you want.

Image result for any given sunday dennis quaidBut the weird thing is this could be the most realistic football film ever made.  All the shit about the doctors not being forthcoming with medical results because of pressure from the team owner, players putting their lives on the line because they desperately want to reach a quota so they can earn their bonus, coaches dealing with cocky albeit talented players, drug and alcohol abuse, painkiller dependence, immense stress to perform and win, objections over the future direction of the team and etc.  The picture covers a lot of ground which is impressive.  It just does it in the messiest way possible.

I dunno guys.  Any Given Sunday is flashy and certainly entertaining all the way through.  There aren’t lulls that the picture gets caught in, it simply doesn’t have time with so many storylines.  All the shit off the field is definitely better than any of the real football playing, but all the best composed and prettiest shots are of the dudes out on the gridiron doin’ their thang.

This is a tough one.  I do love it but it’s kinda fuckin’ annoying too.