Facebook ramblings – May 2016

In which our blogger posts his mini-ramblings from Facebook on some of the films he watched that particular month.

The Specialist (Rewatch. DVR.)

This was during that ’94-’95 period of movies about bombs going off. When I finally caught it on VHS, I thought it was OK. Today, I liked it more. I think my problem back then was that there really wasn’t much action in this Stallone flick, practically non-existent compared to Demolition Man and Cliffhanger before it.

But I get it, Stallone was probably trying to wean us off the macho shoot-em-up/beat-em-ups with stuff like this and Assassins, but he overestimated his audience, who complained about the lack of action and so that’s why there are two scenes in this film that were added way after the fact in order to beef up the beat up.

The first is the scene on the bus where he kicks a motherfucker out the window, and the second is a hotel kitchen scrap where he kicks a motherfucker into a vat of boiling water that was just there, just standing there and boiling, waiting for some poor soul to fall into it — and then, oh man, and then it was time to boil a motherfucker. Evil Boiling Water Vat. It is coming to get all of us. Turn your back on it long enough, and that’s your ass.

It’s never boring, that’s for sure, getting goofier as it goes on, and getting awesome whenever James Woods popped up. Oh man, that scene with him on the phone with Stallone while trying to get a trace on him while trying not to lose his shit is in and of itself Good Times. Even if you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to, I highly recommend finding his scenes on YouTube, because sure enough, there are clips of his performance there.

Man, that Sharon Stone, huh? Believe it or not, she did nothing for me back then, probably on account of that I was gay. But since then Jesus Christ has shown me the way and I now drink the gay away and try not to take it out on my wife and kids during our picnics on the way to see Joel Osteen live.

(Just don’t tell anyone that once I’m at the Osteen event, I excuse myself to the bathroom for a little foot-tapping action.)

Watching her now, though, wow. I still don’t quite agree with her and Stallone banging on a hotel shower floor, I don’t care how nice that hotel is, even nice hotels are dirty. I once lost my good judgment one late night in Ensenada during Spring Break, after I stumbled into the hotel room we were all staying at and crashed on the floor because I was hammered. When I woke up and realized I was cheek to cheek with the carpet with nothing between us, I reacted as if I were the girl in Creepshow 2 who was laying on the raft when that oil blob thing got her.

Whatever, Stone looked great and so did the whole film. I really liked the look of the movie, particularly the night scenes with Miami done up with neon lights. The music is fucking great too; you got some good John Barry shit here (sounding like some 70s/80s Bond work) as well as a great soundtrack produced by/featuring the Estefans. I didn’t care for the cover of “Turn the Beat Around” but that might have to do with me not liking that song in its original version either. Not an active dislike, it just didn’t do much for me, like Sharon Stone back when I was gay — OK, that’s a joke that I’m about to run into the ground; what it really was was that Winona Ryder was more my speed back then. Hell, she’s my speed now.

Holy shit, David Fincher at one point was going to direct this but the studio couldn’t stand the stench of Alien 3 on him. So they hired Luis Llosa instead, and I guess hiring him was as brown as it was going to get for this production because they got Eric Roberts and Rod Steiger to play Cubans, but it’s cool because Eric Roberts is my dude and Steiger apparently thought he was in Pawnbroker 2: Still Brokin’ which means he’s fun to watch. I dug his Cuban accent, particularly when he tells Woods to “take the bitch” except it comes out “take de beeessssssssh”. His final scene is Good Times x 2 too.


Anyway, this would’ve played better as one of those made-for-cable movies starring Pierce Brosnan, during that time in his career when he was keeping himself limber for his eventual call to James Bond duty.

Thief (Rewatch. Blu-ray.)

Man, that Mann was sure something. Still is, but I’m just saying his last couple films weren’t OMG SO GOOD quality but I dug ’em all the same. Anyway, this mofo came out fuckin’ blazing with his first theatrical film. It holds up, man(n). Stylish as all get-out, and if you ever here anyone tell you that it’s kinda cold and methodical, then Anyone clearly wasn’t paying attention to that incredible scene in the diner between James Caan and Tuesday Weld.

Hey, so that postcard Caan’s character carries with him, that would qualify as a “vision board”, wouldn’t it? I never heard of a vision board until I heard the comedian Maria Bamford talk about them. I guess you create a collage from pasted pictures out of magazines and other stuff of what you want in your life and I guess that manifests itself eventually. Which sounds a little like that “The Secret” bullshit.

I keep calling stuff like The Secret and vision boards “bullshit” but then I look at the last ten years of my life and I think, shit, maybe I’m the asshole here. At least Caan’s character had the excuse of being in prison. What did *I* fuckin’ do?! So excuse me while I go out and make myself a vision board. And if you haven’t seen this film yet, go manifest yourself a copy of Thief with a vision board before I turn your whole family into Wimpy Burgers.

The Quick and the Dead (Rewatch. DVR.)

I saw this back during my “I Don’t Get Sharon Stone” days, but I saw it because I sure as hell got the fuck out of Sam Goddamn Raimi.

I think I know why I wasn’t that big on Stone back then; I remember reading on some AOL movie message board about how she wasn’t the easiest person to get along with on a movie set, and the guy who posted on the message board admitted to pissing into a bathtub on the set of Allan Quatermain and the City of Gold (along other members of the crew) before she got in it for her scene. Stuff like that and other shit in the news made her basically like the Anti-Triple A for me, so maybe that’s why she wasn’t jangling my chain, regardless of her looks.

Of course, nowadays one wonders if in fact she was really that difficult or if it was a case of a woman being judged on some shit that a guy would be excused for. Or maybe not. I mean, the crew pissed into the scotch bottle of one of the male directors of His Kind of Woman and that was back in the 50s. I guess the lesson here is don’t piss off the crew members or you’ll get pissed back. (Or worse, if you act shitty to them.)

Anyway, Stone watched Army of Darkness and said “That’s who I want to direct my Western” so that makes her cool enough in my book. She also paid Leonardo DiCaprio’s salary to be in the movie because the studio didn’t want him, so that’s pretty stand up of her. Nowadays I bet you those same studio guys (if they even still have jobs) are kissing Leo’s ass and I don’t remember Leo thanking her — or the female director of his real first film Critters 3 — in his Oscar speech so I guess you can’t take the posse out of the pussy, eh?

I hadn’t seen this movie in about 16 years and I liked it even more this time. It’s got that awesome Raimi style to it but he also tones it down by keeping most of the Evil Dead-ing to the duel sequences. He held his own and proved that he could do Acting as well as Action, getting a top-notch Boo-Hiss performance from Gene Motherfucking Hackman, who reportedly didn’t make easy on the Raimster. But then again, Hackman’s never been known to make it easy on anyone.

By the way, has anyone seen this supposed episode of “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” where Gene Hackman pops up as a patron of one of the diners human-Smash Mouth-band Guy Fieri was douching up? I can’t fucking find it, so clearly this means it doesn’t exist.

Whatever. I dig this flick. I’ll admit that it’s one of those movies where all the elements are A-level (acting, directing, cinematography, editing, production design, music, etc) but the script is more like B-level — but it still makes for a fun watch. It’s great gun-porn too, with all those beautiful revolvers. Goddamn, those were beauties — particularly that Schofield. It’s enough to make a motherfucker wanna jizz all over his NRA towel.

You know what, I was hard on Smash Mouth.

The Place Beyond the Pines (First time. DVR.)

I forgot to take a pic of the movie so here’s an unrelated photo of a vampire cat rising from its slumber, ready to feed for the night.

This was the follow-up for the director of Blue Valentine and in my opinion he didn’t disappoint. It’s a film that feels like a novel, and I’d explain more if I were not afraid of spoiling it. That’s why I won’t. I’ll just say that like a novel it’s long. But there ain’t no chapter titles either, because this isn’t a Tarantino joint.

If you haven’t seen this film and you’re going to, know as little as possible going in. Don’t even read the synopsis, not even the capsule one they have on cable/satellite because even that one gives away too much.

What I will say is that I dug how most of the characters are presented as human in that they are neither entirely bad or entirely good. And those in the film who look at people in those black & white terms, well they tend to be the ones who really are All Good or All Bad. I guess it’s that whole thing about how usually people who are the least trusting or assume the worst of others are also the ones who do others dirty.

This is a movie about — among other things — the guilt that follows a motherfucker after the actions he or she takes and how that shit can affect said motherfuckers, even for years.

I didn’t know half of the actors in this movie were going to be in this movie. I just knew Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes were in it but many more familiar faces pop up and they’re all excellent in their roles. I also dug the music by Mike Patton who proves that he can score more serious-minded films and not just Neveldine/Taylor joints. It’s a shame he hasn’t scored more films and I wonder if that’s a result of his schedule or that most filmmakers don’t know a good composer if it hit ’em in the throat with a timpani stick.

If I had any problems with the film they came in the last 40 minutes and they all came in the form of a character who I just wanted to get punched and punched and punched all the way until the end credits rolled, and then following the end credits I wanted a Marvel-style post-credits stinger of the character getting punched one more time followed by Nick Fury stepping in to tell the puncher about a new initiative devoted to punching this annoying douche-twat for time immemorial.

I honestly considered stopping the movie because of this character. I knew guys like this. Guys like this were the reason why I almost got kicked out of school, on account of them getting the better of my temper — followed by the worst of my punches.

But I hit Pause, gave myself 30 seconds to breathe, and then I unpaused, followed by muting the movie and reading the closed-captioning as a sort of compromise. That way at least I didn’t have to listen to his voice.

By the last 15 minutes or so I put the sound back on and everything was OK. I made it out. And I’m glad I did, because I was rewarded with a satisfying ending to a well-told tale.

Rob Roy (First time. DVR.)

I missed this in theaters, then I missed it at home because this was around the time we got a laserdisc player and the only video store that stocked laserdiscs only had this movie on Pan & Scan. I never understood that. This place stocked laserdiscs, but if a movie came out in both letterboxed and pan & scan, they chose the latter. It was frustrating. And in my young youth, I had principles about that. So I never rented it, and I soon forgot it.

All I remembered was that this was seen as the cooler, better alternative to Braveheart, which came out around the same time. I haven’t seen that one in over a decade, so I couldn’t tell you how they hold up against one another, in kilts, enjoying the warmth of each other. I couldn’t.

All I know is that this was Good Times. The first 20 minutes is pretty much Liam Neeson stabbing fools and then lecturing the fools he didn’t stab. Then they introduce a walking cunt named Cunningham (played by Tim Roth) whose all about fucking and killing — so naturally I hate him for living my life. But I’d like to think I’d treat people better than he did, and I certainly would use protection when it came time to bang a chamber maid or two.

Neeson’s Rob Roy MacGregor though, that there is a Man. A man of principles, which according to this film, was just as lacking in most men back then as it is today. So of course, this means that he is going to get royally fucked as a result of having principles because Human Beings are garbage people and guys like Rob Roy are the exception, not the rule.

This was one of those movies that I could practically smell, and that’s unfortunate because this takes place in the 1700s, so you know how people back then got down with bathing. I mean, this is a fucking dirty-ass smelly movie full of bodily fluids and functions and excretions and where you Just Fucking Know that even the cleanest people in this movie smell terrible.

So when the movie was over, I took another shower, but it was a victorious shower. I was fucking walking on air in that shower because I watched Rob Roy take it to The Man and I got to watch the occasional moment of Ownage too. Even Jessica Lange (who’s great here) was like “hey don’t Bogart that Ownage, Liam, let mama dole some out!”. It’s really funny at times too, which I didn’t expect.

The director of the film is Michael Caton-Jones, and up until Rob Roy, homeboy was consistent with quality. Before that he made This Boy’s Life and before that he made Doc Hollywood and before that he made Memphis Belle. Good flicks, all of them. Then he followed this one up with The Jackal and I guess that’s when the consistency stopped. He eventually ended up directing Basic Instinct 2 starring, yup, you guessed it — Sharon Stone.

The Outlaw Josey Wales (First time. DVR.)

All the Eastwood joints I’ve seen, and yet I never got around to this one. I gotta give him the Big Balls award for taking the story where the main character — the good guy — joins a guerilla army of Confererate-loving Bushwackers and the bad guys are Union soldiers. But never do you get the sense that the filmmakers are some South Will Rise Again assholes, nah, Eastwood was looking to make something more complicated.

What you get is a man who loses everything — his wife, his son, his shitty farm — and wants something that sounds like revenge but really seems more like a reckoning he wants to give out to anyone unlucky enough to be wearing the same colors worn by the men responsible for his current state.

So what you get throughout this film is Eastwood shooting, shooting, and shooting some more. He’s either shooting bullets at his enemies or he’s shooting chaw at the ground, insects, shirts, even a dog. Josey Wales is cooooold-blooooded!

What surprised me is that what starts as a pretty grim movie slowly loosens up as it goes along, and as the film does, so does Eastwood’s character, and what starts out as a revenge tale ends as something kinda deeper and touching as Josey Wales finds a more meaningful endgame for his life — while still giving us plenty of Eastwood owning motherfuckers as if he carried receipts on all of them in his back pocket.

It’s good stuff, man. This is the one where Eastwood says “Dyin’ ain’t much of a living, boy” and you bet your ass I was jumping on my couch like goddamn Tom Cruise when he said that shit.

The Outfit (Rewatch. DVR.)

Saw this back in ’10 at the New Beverly along with Point Blank and that my friend was Good Times. Here’s another adaptation of a “Richard Stark”/Donald E. Westlake book, and like all the other cine-adapts this one changes the name of the Parker character. Here, Robert Duvall plays “Macklin” and he’s out of the joint and out for revenge in the form of $$$ because The Outfit killed his brudda.

Here’s some good ‘ol old-school tough guy crime shit that feels just like the Parker books, even with the changes made between page and screen. This is a cold environment where even the warmer characters are quick to do wrong shit like knocking a woman out just because she’s in the way. This is the kind of movie that devotes large chunks of time to the characters purchasing firearms and automobiles for their jobs (with the option to sell them back after the job is done) and I’m a sucker for that kind of thing.

The old school feel is made older with the casting of classic genre actors like Robert Ryan and Jane Greer. There’s also a bit of a The Killing reunion with Marie Windsor, Timothy Carey, and Elisha Cook Jr.; unfortunately none share any scenes together.

Another sign of being made from Another Time is that the lead is Robert Duvall, who you completely buy as someone who could be from that world, Crime World. His crime partner is Joe Don Baker, who was almost ruined for me by MST3K on account of all those jokes about him in Mitchell and Final Justice. There’s a part where Baker holds a rib-chopping cook at gunpoint, then tells him “Go on back and chop them ribs” which I found myself completing out loud with “…because I want some to go” — damn you MST3K!

Karen Black is the main dame here and like the rest of the cast, she’s a Great Face who probably wouldn’t have much play had she came of actress age nowadays. Young Karen Black in the Year 2016 would probably play a lot of wacky best friend roles today.

Joanna Cassidy is the head crime honcho’s moll in the film, and yet despite that role or her iconic role as Zhora in Blade Runner or any other role in her long career, all I want to do when I see her is yell “I’m right on top of that, Rose!”

The late great John Flynn wrote and directed this, and man oh man, there are not enough articles written about this dude. He made this, followed by Rolling Thunder and Defiance. Right on. He also made my favorite Steven Seagal movie with Out for Justice. He’s worked with Sly Stallone, James Woods, Tommy Lee Jones, Rod Steiger, William Devane, Brian Dennehy — all of them real Guys. Then he made Brainscan starring pretty boy (at the time) Edward Furlong and I don’t think he ever recovered from that. To make things worse, he met me at a screening and signed my Lock Up dvd. Then he died.

London Has Fallen (First time. Theater.)

Caught this yesterday at the discount theater, where there were stains splattered on the lower right side of the screen and a crazy witchy woman in the front row making comments. This plus popcorn plus M&Ms plus Cherry Coke only added to my enjoyment of this film — and I’m sure my Diabetes-in-progress got a kick out of it too.

Despite being distributed by Gramercy Films (remember them? yeah, they’re back!) this is a Millennium Films production all the way and you know these MF’rs might as well be Cannon Reborn and this movie may well be their most Cannon-y joint yet.

Shit, this might actually out-Cannon Cannon because at least Golan & Globus shelled out enough ducats on quality visual effects for big-budget fare like Lifeforce. Here, someone must’ve taken the money for convincing blood hits and explosions and had themselves the mother of all parties over in Dubai or somewhere.

Gerard Butler has to be — I mean he just has to be! — in on some kind of joke with his performance here, like I think he knows this is a silly movie. Some of his line deliveries feel like something you’d see in a spoof about overblown actioners such as this one, or like something you’d see in the spoof trailers at the beginning of Tropic Thunder. Whatever the case, I’m glad he’s doing it that way because his is absolutely the only way one should act in this movie.

Every time a new character pops up, their name and job appears on-screen (example: “Lynne Jacobs – Secret Service Director”) despite most of them being characters from the first film — and that’s when I realized that this movie was playing the Stand Alone Film game. The events of Olympus Has Fallen are never mentioned or even alluded to, I mean, it gets to the point that I left convinced this movie takes place in an alternate universe where Olympus always stood proud with nary a stumble. Every once in a while President Harvey Dent clutches his pearls whenever Secret Service Agent Spaaaaaartaaaaa! gets down with a little sado-murderiffic ownage on the baddies, which made me almost yell out loud “Dude, don’t you remember what he did in the last one!?”

I sure remember — and I loved it. Killing people with such an evil glee, that guy. And I’m happy to report that Agent Spaaaaartaaa! is still a sadistic fuck in the sequel. My favorite kill might be when he sloooooowly sticks his Rambo knife into a wounded terrorist, almost as slow as that German soldier did to the Semitic homie in Saving Private Ryan — only in that film it was an evil Nazi trooper and here it’s the hero of the film. I actually could’ve used some more of Butler killing bad guys with the psychotic glee and zeal usually exhibited by Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees.

And yeah, he does actually tell a bad guy over the walkie talkie to go “back to Fuckheadistan or wherever it is you come from”, after which I almost stood up and did that dramatic slow clap in the audience with a tear rolling down my face, because I have to applaud a movie that gives us the winning combo of Culturally Tone Deaf and Painfully Enlarged Testicles. We’ve sure come a long way from John McClane saying “Yippee Ki Yay Mother Fucker” to Hans, that’s for sure.

The first act introduces a whole bunch of other characters at various locations in a way that made me feel that I was watching a 70s-style disaster movie. Half of them are played by people I’m not familiar with, so I felt it was a lost opportunity to get whoever the 2016 version of George Kennedy or Richard Chamberlain or Stella Stevens to play those roles. But the other half consist of names like Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett and my man, Mr. Robert Forster, who I’m always happy to see in any movie (even if he barely has any lines).

At least Forster has lines. Academy Award-winning actress Melissa Leo hardly says a word, but she looks happy to be there, so they must’ve paid her very well to be silent. Oh, and Jackie Earle Haley is picking up a Shut Up and Cash The Check part here too, which reminds me — he and Forster were in Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence, which would make a decent double bill with this movie.

I say that because MC3 was a direct-to-cable genre film from the 90s, and London Has Fallen is in spirit a direct-to-cable genre film from the 90s working from a script left over from Cannon Films in the 80s. Chuck Norris would’ve jizzed all over his camo pants had he been given the script back then, because London isn’t so much a pro-Murica film as it’s pro-Western World & anti-Derka-Derka and you know the Chuckster’s down with that.

They throw in a chick MI6 badass and some SAS commandos into the mix so it doesn’t seem all about America Saving The Muthafuckin’ Day. Maybe that’s why this one actually did a lot better overseas than the first one.

In conclusion, some dude texts the name “Aamir Barkawi” on his phone and it wasn’t corrected by spell-check, so that was nice. I wish my phone was that chill about spelling.

SPECIAL BONUS RAMBLING NOT FEATURED IN THE ORIGINAL THEATRICAL CUT OF MY FACEBOOK POSTINGS! (on account of simply forgetting to post it)

Listen to Me Marlon (First time. DVR.)

So what we have here is a failure to communicate between a genuine Game Changer in the art of playing pretend, but thankfully Mr. Brando was far more open with himself and his tape recorder — and that’s what this documentary is all about. Dude left hundreds of hours of confessionals and ramblings and selected bits play out over home movies and on-set footage and archival clips spanning most of his life. Sometimes you also see a weird monochromatic digi-Brando head reading along to the recordings, looking assed out because he wasn’t invited to kick it with Hologram Tupac or Hologram Whitney Houston.

It’s a bit of a cheat that at least a third — if not half — of this stuff is actually from interviews he did, so you’re not listening to purely his audio bloggings, and this film was approved by his estate so you know you’re not gonna get all of the goods. And you know it ain’t gonna get darker if the estate is approving what gets used and what gets put aside in the Destroy pile. As weird as he might’ve been, the film has to ultimately paint him in a more positive shade. Shit man, who knows? Maybe that’s closer to the truth than what a cynical fuck like moi assumes about him — and everyone else on this planet, for that matter.

But as it is you get plenty, man. I felt I got a decent sense of him — at least more than just the weirdo who loved giving film sets a hard time. I didn’t leave thinking his behavior justified, I just saw his side of it and got an idea of why he would be the way he was.

Of course a success like Marlon Brando came from shitty parenting, and he claimed that that is what made him forever search for happiness in the arms of as many women as he could embrace and between the legs of as many fried chickens as he could wolf down. I can make the fat jokes because I’m kinda like Marlon Brando when it comes to food. (It’s in the Women department that I’m trying to be more like him.)

Say what you will, but I felt that even when he was pulling that cue card bullshit that he was committed to his craft — or specifically, he’s the only one I would excuse/believe his idea that it added to the spontaneity of his performance. And even if it really didn’t, the guy earned the right to pull that off. I think you have to be an actor of Brando’s caliber to do that, especially when you’ve already had a long career preceding you. Some actors today — and I’ve witnessed some of this myself — want to immediately riff and You Just Fucking Know it’s because they didn’t really learn their lines.

This wasn’t in the movie but I remember Sidney Lumet (in his book “Making Movies”, I think) saying that Brando knew when he was working with a director who knew his shit. He would give the director two different line readings that were damn near indistinguishable from each other — but there was a difference. And that difference could only be picked up by someone who truly not only understood the material they were working from, but who also had true knowledge on acting. If the director picked the “correct” reading, Brando felt he was in good hands and put in 110-percent. If not, he’d just sleepwalk through it because why bother pouring out your heart and soul into every line and movement? It’s not like the director would even notice!

One last food thing: Brando claimed that as a kid he’d open the fridge at night and it would feel as if the food were talking to him like “Hi Marlon, it’s me, Mr. Cheese!” or something like that. He felt food was his friend, but really, who does that to their friends? Who chews their friends up, swallows them, digests every good part, then shits out their remains? (Aside from show business, of course.)

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