Friday, April 30, 2010

Attack! (1956)

Attack! is an American war film directed by Robert Aldrich starring Jack Palance and bad boy Lee Marvin. It's about courage, honesty, standing up for what is right, and condemning to the depths of hell cowardly and dishonest behaviour, and it's just the kind of movie I like. It's easy to get real worked up about some of the bastards in this movie, while also cheering on the heroes. So it tells the story of an American front line combat unit in Belgium, during WWII. Col. Clyde Bartlett(Lee Marvin) runs the show, and he's placed Erskine Cooney(Eddie Albert) as Captain to help his post war political career. See, Erskine is the son of a top judge in the states, and the judge wants to make a war hero out of his cowardly son. Bartlett can use the judge's help after the war, two agendas meet conveniently as one, and you have a fuck up of a situation that follows. The opening scene shows a platoon get shot to pieces, and we learn later on that Cooney could have saved the men and provided support but he's too yellow! The sniveling little runt. See what I mean about getting worked up! Lt. Harold Woodruff (William Smithers) and Lt. Joe Costa (Jack Palance) are two brave fighters who are fuckin pissed off that a snivelling runt such as Cooney is in charge of the troops. Moral is low, so Woodruff tries to reason with Col. Bartlett to get rid of Cooney. But Bartlett is one step ahead. He's fairly frank with Woodruff, being unpretentious he knows that Cooney is nothin but a yellu belly, but he's heard from above that the chances of this unit seeing combat again is 100/1. So he's willing to play the game to get what he wants. Woodruff doesn't like the sound of Cooney staying on, but the news of the unit's slim chances of battle again lifts his spirits enough for him to go along. Then UH OH! seems like there's a new smell of Nazi around the place, Lt. Costa must send his platoon into a small neighbouring town for a reconnaissance mission. Costa must obey, but warns Cooney that if he fails to provide support and chickens out again, he'll "stick this grenade down (his) throat and pull the pin!". Hell yeah. So, the platoon get sent into the small town that low and behold is ridden with SS and fuggin Panzers. Costa's unit is torn to shreds, and where is Cooney? Downing whiskey because he's too scared to enter combat. He tells them to pull out instead and just basically run back, that's the best thing to do. I know situations in war get exaggerated in movies, but I was out of my seat punching at an imaginary Cooney in my living room, yelling and screaming. What a bastard. Anyway, before I reveal the entire movie, I'll just say that this is one hell of a movie to get riled up about. And the way in which the heroes deal with the crummy situation is great to be apart of. It's like a lessons of life movie. Lotsa great examples of how to deal with sonsabitches.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Boxcar Bertha (1972)

So this was an interesting one. Martin Scorsese directed this just a year or so before directing Mean Streets. It was produced by Roger Corman, a dude who was famous for his Exploitation B-Movies, so what you get here is a few sex scenes every so often, mixed with bright coloured bloody violence to keep the audiences at the drive-ins interested enough while they waited for the main feature to start. Added to the mix is Scorsese's very personal touches, like the exploration of themes of loneliness and religion. Include his wacky editing techniques. You get the feeling that he's still learning his trade, while trying to impress with his choppy editing, especially in the opening scenes.

Bertha Thompson, played by Barbara Hershey, was supposedly an actual person, an outlaw folk hero around the time of the great depression. However, as far as I can tell, this movie bears very little resemblance to her real life besides her name being Bertha and her freight train exploits in the Southern Territory. When her father dies tragically in an airplane accident, she decides to head off into the world on her own riding in boxcars, where she meets David Carradine's character "Big" Bill Shelley. Bill is a union man, and he's fed up with the railway establishment, and all that goes along with that. There's riots, angry speeches to workers, violence, all that sort of thing. So Bertha falls in love with Bill, and what we see from here on is a sort of Bonnie and Clyde relationship develope. They rob trains, rich people, run away from the law, get jiggy with it, get caught, break out of prison and so on so forth. Exciting stuff, but it's still a small bit of a rip-off of the original. But Scorsese makes things interesting with his personal touches, like the violence, it's quick and to the point, kinda grim. There's nothing glorious about dying. Well done in my opinion.

It's really not like any of his other works in certain ways. Like the tone of it all. There's an upbeat kinda feeling to it all. And then suddenly you're hit with terrifying scenes of extreme violence and racism. But for the most part it feels like you're watching Starsky and Hutch. It's an exciting adventure, then smack! you're presented with something terrible. Alot of great directors seem to use juxtapositions like this quite well. In his other films you're kinda always expecting the violence, whereas here it's totally out of the blue, and done in sort of a comical way almost, but grim at the same time, quite hard to explain really.

Anyway, this is one of his films that seems to get overlooked, but it's really interesting seeing his progression from this to Mean Streets and so on. There's some mediocre acting (Hershey and Carradine are quite good, but alot of amateur acting), poor sets, overly choppy editing in some parts done to impress, scenes thrown in to keep Roger happy( required sex and violence scenes). But then there's also some really great aspects to it. So give it a watch if you're a real fan of the director.

Carlito's Way (1993)

Ok so Carlito's Way was directed by Brian De Palma roughly I think 10 years after he directed Scarface. Both star Al Pacino as the principal character, but differ alot story wise. Scarface was about an immigrant criminal climbing the ladder of gangster life, and ultimately flushing his success down the crapper with his drug habit. Whereas Carlito's Way is about an immigrant criminal who's had enough of it all, basically he's just run out of steam, but he's finding it hard to leave the "life". Crime follows him around like an old mangy dog that follows you around alot, you know what I'm talkin about? Ya I don't quite know myself.

Sean Penn(frackin brilliant in this) plays this hot shot lawyer who's clients are all mobsters, and he gets Carlito out of a 30 year sentence after only 5 years served. So Carlito is obviously over the moon and basically in love with this guy. But now that he's out he wants to go straight. Once he ran a huge drugs operation on the streets and was in charge of like 90 guys, so he's a legend around the streets. But now all he wants to do is get some money together, $75 000, so he can set himself up as a used car dealer in the Bahamas. His old crime buddies laugh their asses off when they hear about this, but Carlito is determined.

First he's gotta get the money together, so he takes charge of a club who's customers are basically all Mafia "made" guys. And slowly but surely, he lands himself straight back into his old lifestyle, but he's willing to pay the price for his dream. But soon he finds himself too far in, "past the point of no return" as he says. Will he ever get to where he wants to be? Will he get the girl?(there's a bit of romance, underwritten in the script really) Will he sell cars one day? Will his past fatally catch up with him? Watch and find out!

So this is a really well made film, and it really has a terrific ending, it just seems to hit the right note perfectly. You've probably all seen this, it's really well known and all, but I just thought I'd give it some more praise.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My 10 amazing movie facts about me!

Ok, Aiden over at Cut The Crap Movies tagged me, I'm tagged, I have to reveal my most personal movie related secrets about myself to the three people that read my site. 10) I don't know much about movies. I've seen what I've seen and I'm happy with that. I think I've seen alot of movies, but I can't quite gauge where I am in the spectrum of movie knowledge. In my daily dealings with people, I don't come across many genuine movie buffs, so it's hard to say, but if I ever ended up in genuine movie geek company I reckon I'd have to BS my way through most of the conversation. 9) My earliest memory of watching a movie was going to a drive-in in Durban, South Africa (born and bred there now living in Ireland) I think to watch one the Ninja Turtle movies. Can't remember which. All I remember was Ninja Turtles, and falling asleep before it started, and I think I just woke up to catch the ending. Oh and Michelangelo was my favourite. He's definitely cooler than this dude 8) Cool Hand Luke changed my life. You know when times are tough, your toast falls butter side down, you can't find your keys, things just don't go your way, you just put up with things. Well watching Cool Hand Luke was like waking up and saying "f*&%K it!" I'm not gonna put up with this crap no more! Like Luke did. He wasn't gonna let Dragline beat him, and just basically not take any crap from anybody, especially no Boss's! 7) I've never met anyone in the movie making business who's famous. The most famous person I've seen in close proximity is probably Stephen Hunt who was playing for Premier League club Reading at the time. Don't you wish you were me. 6) I loved The Neverending Story when I was a young. Why? I cannot even begin to imagine, and I'm actually quite pissed off now that I liked it so much. Why couldn't I have been cooler as a kid???? 5) I prefer watching the classics but I watch new crappy releases just to be in the know. 4) I actually liked Avatar alot. Just didn't like the way Cameron threw alot of money at it kinda expecting an Oscar from it. But liked the movie alot. I think the characters were very complex! 3) I want to be Quentin Tarantino! 2) I have about 40 dvds in my massive, huge movie collection. I can't even get in and out of my room it gets so cluttered. But mostly I watch my movies on Sky Movies. 1) Drumroll.........................and now for Jimbob's most personal movie related secret.....................I think John Wayne was better than Clint Eastwood. Clint is awesome as hell, but no one can top a character like John T. Chance in a western in my opinion.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Misfits (1961)

The Misfits is a film directed by John Huston and is quite an odd film to watch, but for the most part it keeps you glued to the screen. The cast is just brilliant: Clarke Gable(his last film), Marilyn Monroe(her last film), Montgomery Clift(he was awesome in Red River and quite good in this) and the crazy dude from The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Eli Wallach.

So what we have here is: Roslyn Taber (Monroe) is this kind of character who is fed up with the way life has turned out for her, and is lookin for meaning in life and blah blah all that. She's in Reno to divorce her rich businessman husband who was never "there" for her. "There" meaning that he never talked to her or they never really got to know eachother boo hoo. Gay Langland (Gable) and Guido(crazy fella from The Good the Bad and the Ugly) are these aging cowboy types. "The west has gone! The east has arrived! Now we'll have to earn wages! Goodbye to the cowboy lifestyle! No more cattle drives! Oh no!" That kind of thing.

So the aging cowboys get by in life by catching wild mustangs that are too small for rodeos, so they get made into dog food. Pretty sad actually. In thier younger days they would have sold the horses for actual transport purposes, but with the arrival of the demon machines, gasoline engine mechnaical beasts, horse transpotation soon became obsolete, and the horses soon became dog food. So what was once exciting and a decent living for the two cowboys has now become something terrible, horses->dogfood.

Well the cowboys and Roslyn(and her friend) meet in a restaurant, and strangely they all just decide to go live in Guido's(Wallach) house in the desert for a while. Well with Marilyn Monroe being amazingly hot, the two cowboys just want to get it on with her, and she being really naive this is what happens. The rest of the film is just about how terrible their lives have become, them trying to "find" themselves, and Roslyn getting hella pissed off at what the cowboys do for a living. It's worth a watch, but it is quite depressing at the same time. It was suppose to have been a classic, what with he great cast and director and good writer and all, but never really lived up to it's potential. Marilyn Monroe is hot.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Real Genius (1985)

Well this was OK, not the greatest thing I've ever watched but watchable enough. You could get slightly tempted to reach for the remote and switch the channel, but the movie never really pushes you that far. It's got Val Kilmer, an actress who I was convinced was Selma Blair who's not Selma Blair, and.....that's about it. There's a few other actors who I just won't care to mention, since I really haven't a clue who they are.

OK so this is a "college kids having fun with science" type of movie. Yay how fun. I don't know. I can't understand the idea of science being fun, at all. Unless there was some huge chemical disaster turning people into zombies, I am just not interested. More lab disasters in school would have spiced things up alot. But alas it just wasn't meant to be.

So as simply as possible, the plot: There's a 15 year old kid genius, there's a college professor who's been hired by the CIA to build a laser beam that zaps people from space, and there's Val Kilmer's character who is a genius but says "heck I want to be cool!" so goofs around alot. A genius who's hip with the young crowd. So the professor wants them to build this Laser beam contraption all under the pretence that it's their course work. But soon they find out they're building a device that is designed to kill and the rest of the plot is shaped around that.

It's OK. Val Kilmer's character was just too hip for my liking. I got the fact that he wanted to be cool, doesn't everybody, and not such a stressed out academic type, but most of the time he just tried too hard. Like, he'd be an OK guy to hand around with once in a while, but hang around him too long and I'd really just get annoyed that he was trying to be cool all the time. Take a rest, just be normal!

Overall, I couldn't care less, watch it, don't watch it. It's just OK.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Kick-Ass (2010)

Kick-Ass, ya another comic book adaptation, is directed by Matthew Vaughn and is really, really good. Watching the trailer we see Mclovin dressed in his Red Mist costume jumping off of a dumpster hurting his foot "ow, that kinda hurt!", and we get the feeling that this is gonna be one long superhero movie piss take. But that's really far from the truth of it. It actually takes itself seriously.

Another line from the trailer :"How come nobody's ever tried to become a superhero?" to which his buddy replies "Dude, if anyone did it in real life they'd get there ass kicked. They'd be dead, like, in a day". Ok so we get the feeling that this film is based in real life, and this guy, Dave Lizewski, is gonna try his hand at costumed crime fighting. So we're interested from the get go. Maybe we'll get to see how this would work if someone actually tried it. It would be really cool to see. And what happens? He gets his ass beaten again and again, and it's quite funny, but at the same time you feel kinda sad for him. Like he's so sick of being mugged all the time, that he invents the superhero character for himself to fight back at "life", but life just kicks his ass even harder.

But it's really cool the way that he trudges on. He's stabbed in the stomach(ya this is real life buddy) but he just says "F*&$K it!" and carries on the dream. While out on a major superhero mission to find a missing cat, he unwittingly gets involved in a gang brawl. At first he reacts like any normal human being would, he's afraid to do anything while one guy gets punched and nearly kicked to death. But after a moments thought(or moments insanity) he turns into his superhero character, Kick-Ass. And for the next two minutes he gets his ass whooped. But after a while he kinda gets into the swing of things, and delivers his own ass kicking moves on the thugs. Someone in the diner yells "Hey there's a guy dressed up as a superhero fighting a bunch of guys!" and everyone in the diner rushes out to watch the craziness, recording the action on their mobile phones. Kick-Ass actually drives the thugs away with his crude crime fighting techniques (just him swinging sticks around wildly basically). The video appears on YouTube: an Internet sensation is born!

From the reviews I had read before watching the film, I had heard that Hit-Girl was really the star of the show, and I kept waiting and waiting for her appearance. And finally she arrived. So Hit-Girl is like twelve years old, and cusses like a person that cusses alot. Now she's the real deal. She actually IS a superhero, no super powers, except for her unnatural ass kicking ability which works just fine. Her father, Big-Daddy(Nick Cage-quite good in this actually) has raised her to kill. He himself dresses like Batman and actually kills lots of bad guys. So from the realm of reality that we thought we were in, here are two genuine superheros who enter the picture. "What the hell?" I asked.

This is where alot of people had problems with the film. Wasn't it supposed to be about a real guy tring to become a superhero? And failing? Suddenly it turns into an actual superhero movie. People start dodging bullets. Wasn't this all supposed to be plausible? No. The thing is that it was always a superhero movie. Kick-Ass, real name Dave Lizewski, is a normal guy IN A SUPERHERO STORY! It still turns out to be really entertaining, and Hit-Girl IS the star of the show.

It might have been nice to go with the Dave Lizewski turning into Kick-Ass as the main focus of the story, and have it end on a realistic note, and that would have been a great movie to see. However the way it really turns out is still really good. The dialogue is really funny. It's like watching Superbad again. The action is really impressive for an Indie film on a budget of only $28 million. The music is great! The theme music from For a Few Dollars More rears it's melodic head, and is really well done, and I felt that it really fit the scene well. There's Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation", and again it gels really well with the scene. Throw in some Prodigy as well and you have a classic soundtrack. And a really good film.