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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: 1987

Extreme Prejudice (1987)

It’s the small towns you’ve got to worry about the most.

Jack Benteen (Nick Nolte) is a Texas Ranger who has taken a very different path than his childhood buddy, Cash Bailey (Powers Boothe), a ruthless drug lord, who stumbles back into town, looking to cause all sorts of havoc in the area and most importantly, for Jack himself. Though both men are very different in terms of their careers, their lives, and what sides of the law they each stand on, they do have one aspect in common: They’re both in love with Sarita Cisneros (Maria Conchita Alonso), who has been involved with both men, but chooses to stay with Jack, even though they constantly seem to fight all of the time. The tension between these two begins to escalate over the next few days, and to make matters worse, there’s a group of rag-tag veterans who are staging some sort of mission. But what is it? What is there purpose for being in this small town? And hell, are they dangerous?

“You….”

Extreme Prejudice is clearly Walter Hill’s ode/homage to the Dirty Dozen that it almost goes without saying. It’s a western, without seeming like an old-school western that relies on the same old tropes, but instead, uses some neat tricks with its story to make it seem way more modern. Cause after all, Hill already made a out-and-true western with the Long Riders, so it’s basically like he doesn’t have much else to prove in that genre, except to show that he can use it as a stepping-stone for going out into his usual crazy barrage of guns, violence, blood, and oh yeah, a whole lot of cursing.

But for a Walter Hill movie, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It helps that Hill knows what he’s doing, when the material’s there to work with and have fun with. Both Deric Washburn and Fred Rexer wrote the screenplay and know not to make this story too difficult, or even all that meaningful – just give us a few bad guys, a good guy, some conflict, and lots and lots of guns. The rest, in Hill’s hands, is history.

Which is why the final-act of Extreme Prejudice, as well as the few other action set-pieces spread-out across, are all exciting, fun, and downright electric. They feel perfectly thought-out and constantly keep on surprising, what with where the violence goes and how. Hill isn’t considered a master at his craft by any means and he sure as hell will never be called an “artist”, but the man knows how to craft a solid, compelling, and fun action-scene, which in today’s day, that means a whole lot.

Basically, we could use a whole lot more of Walter Hill in our life and while we do still get his movies, they just aren’t the same anymore.

Shame, too.

“Me….”

But anyway, the reason why I’m going on and on about the action so much is because, well, there’s a bit of a problem with the story, in that there may be a little too much. Or, at least, let me put it this way: There’s essentially two different plots going on here, with both being mildly interesting, but also pretty different from one another. For instance, there’s Nolte’s Jack who is feuding with Powers Boothe’s Cash, which doesn’t start cooking-up until the end and seems like a lot of talking and not much else, whereas the other plot, involving Michael Ironside’s group of bad-ass veterans, is fast-paced, interesting and, well, unique. It’s as if Washburn wrote one part of the movie, Rexer wrote the other, and they tried to combine it all together in one, seamless package.

But that’s what’s odd, because it doesn’t quite fully come together in that sense. Jack’s tale is far more dramatic and, as a result, slower, whereas Ironside’s is quicker and a whole lot more exciting to watch, even if we know it seems to be happening in almost entirely different movie. Hill works well with both stories, however, which is why the movie isn’t totally destroyed by this uneven thread, but still, it’s a bit choppy, to say the least.

And yes, it also helps that Ironside’s performance is pretty great here where he, once again, gets to play a bit of a nutty psycho who, somehow, has everything ready to go according to plan. In fact, almost everyone here is playing very much with their type; Nolte is stern and serious, Boothe is cold and dark, Rip Torn is fun and light, William Forsythe is crazy, and Alonso is, well, very attractive, but unfortunately, doesn’t get to be much else. Hill knows how to let his actors let loose when they need to and because of that, it helps a lot of the boring characters, work a bit better.

If only for the company they keep.

Consensus: While uneven, Extreme Prejudice is still a solid bit of action-thriller from the reliable hands of Walter Hill, who’s clearly enjoying what he’s doing here.

7 / 10

“Let’s tango.”

Photos Courtesy of: Radiator Heaven

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Fatal Attraction (1987)

Stay married and happy, men. You never know what’s out there.

Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) is a successful business man who has a nice job, lovely wife (Anne Archer), cute kid, and quaint little house in the suburbs. However, that all starts to change once he gets involved with Alex (Glenn Close), another successful business woman who falls head over heels for the guy. And for awhile, he thinks the same. Until he doesn’t and that’s when it all gets a little crazy.

Fatal Attraction calls for the kind of crazy and wacky treatment that director Adrian Lyne so deservedly gives it. It’s clear he’s having a lot of fun, knows that this material can sometimes be so ridiculous, but also does approach it with a certain bit of seriousness, as well, not forgetting that at the heart of this story, real issues and problems are being addressed. For one, it’s not a horror movie – or at least, not in the expected sense.

Yup. Totally normal.

Yup. Totally normal.

While Lyne loves playing around with those certain conventions, as if we were watching a horror movie, instead, what we’re watching a real life horror flick, with real life people, making real, incredibly terrible choices. It’s the kind of movie that studios prefer to stay away from, but Lyne does a solid job of reminding us that, at some points, this material can be pretty crazy, but when you get right down to it, isn’t much of a laughing-matter, either. Sure, it helps that he films each and every of the sex scenes with a foggy bit of eyes, but it also helps that he doesn’t forget what’s really going on underneath all of the hot, sweaty, steamy and naked sex.

Or, at least I assumed they’d be naked, right?

But by the same token, it’s sort of hard to really care for Michael Douglas at all here. Just to clarify some things so that we’re all on the same page: The guy is human, the guy is married, and he wants to have a little bit of playtime when his wife is away. Makes sense. But then, when his wife comes back and he’s back in the swing of things, we’re supposed to act like that never happened and even worse, we’re supposed to actually care about him and all of the stuff that he goes through when he just decides to throw this girl away like garbage? It’s hard to care what really happens to this guy, because as much as he may want to forgive and forget, it’s hard for us to do the same.

Nothing wrong with a little slam-bang action in dirty hallways.

Nothing wrong with a little slam-bang action in dirty hallways.

But maybe that’s the point? I don’t know.

Douglas is good here because he doesn’t ham the role up in the slightest, but it also makes him feel a tad bit more dull than he probably should. Anne Archer plays his wife and she’s got a few nice moments, to show not why she would love someone like him, but why he’d be making such a bad decision in the first place. It’s not a very showy role, but it’s a nice one that reminds us what she can do.

But really, it’s Glenn Close who, as you may have heard by now, absolutely steals the show as Alex Forrest, or basically, every married-man’s worst nightmare. Close is so amazing here as Forrest not only because she can play normal and switch it off into full-on crazy mode so well, but because there’s just something about her that you sympathize with from the very start, regardless of how sadistic or creepy she gets. A good portion of this credit goes to Lyne for not painting her as a total villain, but as a sad, lonely and rather kooky lady woman who had a brief spat with love and affection, couldn’t get enough of it, and then, all of a sudden, had to put up with the fact that it was going to be gone from her life, just like that.

Now, who’s the one we sympathize with more, I ask? Regardless, Close is great in this role, never letting us forget that she lingers in every scene – even those that she’s not in – and also has us questioning what her next move or motive’s going to be. After all, the movie never makes it totally clear just what she’s up to, or why she is the way she is, making her dangerous, scary and yes, so very, very compelling. In a way, she makes Fatal Attraction a better movie by just owning the screen every chance she gets, but yeah.

She does.

Consensus: Fatal Attraction runs into the usual problems that come with a wild plot like this, but due to an amazing performance from Close and a smart, relatively sensitive direction from Lyne, it works better than it should.

8 / 10

Yeah, we've all been in this situation once or twice. Or never.

Yeah, we’ve all been in this situation once or twice. Or never.

Photos Courtesy of: Old Films and Me

Lethal Weapon (1987)

Buddy cop movies: Yeah, we’re too old for that s**t.

Following the death of his wife, Los Angeles police detective Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) seems to have lost his mind a whole lot and gone totally off the deep end. While he is still working cases to the best of his abilities, he’s also become reckless, to the point of where he’s not only putting his own life in the line of danger, but those around him as well. However, when he’s reassigned and partnered with Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), he can’t help but clash with the older, by-the-books guy. Murtaugh is much more of a straight and narrow family man, whereas Riggs is a wild card who can’t be tamed, nor tied down and automatically, the two find stuff to bicker and banter about, even if none of it really matters to the job. But one fateful day, together, they uncover a massive drug-trafficking ring. Now, they have something to investigate and go after, which also means that they both have to learn how to trust one another and makes sure that they’ve both got the other’s back, even as dangerous as the situations can sometimes be.

Uh oh, everybody. Mel's about to snap. Look out!

Uh oh, everybody. Mel’s about to snap. Look out!

Lethal Weapon is a difficult movie to review all of these years later, because of how far, wide and weird the buddy-cop genre has gotten. There’s been many iterations over the years and while you definitely can’t say that Lethal Weapon invented it by any means, you can definitely make the argument that it helped popularize it and bring it back to the mainstream masses. After all, it showed that it didn’t matter odd your two buddies were – as long as they had a nice bit of chemistry and the movie itself was fun, then guess what? They can be as much of polar opposites as you want them to be!

And yes, Lethal Weapon definitely benefits from the great duo of Danny Glover and Mel Gibson – neither of whom were huge names by this point, but were slowly making their presences known to the audience out there. For some reason, they just gel so perfectly together like a solidly put-together sandwich of peanut butter and jelly on white; Glover is hard-as-nails and all about doing it the old school way, whereas Gibson is all about being a wild child no matter where he goes. It’s kind of corny, but because it’s Shane Black writing the script, believe me, it’s far from it.

Okay, maybe it is corny, but that’s sort of the point.

You can tell that Black has an affinity for these characters and this genre of action that, whenever he gets the chance to let his creative genius fly, he can’t help but let loose. So many conventions and cliches that writers would get attacked and put on a stick for, somehow, Black doesn’t have to go through; mostly, it’s due to the fact that his writing is two different things at the same time. One, it’s a homage to the kinds of movies he loves, but on the other hand, it’s also the same kind of movie that he’s creating and parodying, in and of itself. Anybody will tell you the best parody movies are the kinds that take on a serious route as they run on along and quite making wisecracks about stuff that always happen; Black never stops with the wisecracks, but it’s always fun to watch and listen to, even when, yet again, it feels like this has all been done before.

But that’s sort of the blessing and the curse of being released in 1987. For one, it was the heyday of action movies and right before they all took off the map to become the supreme juggernauts that they still continue to be until this very day, but it’s also placed in such a spot in movie history, that it’s hard to judge and base it on what’s considered “hip”, “cool”, and “in” nowadays. Black has clearly gone on to create better stuff in the years since, but Lethal Weapon will always and forever be his baby; it has his stamp all over it, to the point where it makes you wonder if anyone else could have written this and been as successful as he was.

Yup. He says it.

Yup. He says it.

But none of that jabbering matters.

What does matter in a movie such as this that the humor delivers, the action kicks all the right butt, and the characters are at least somewhat likable. Gibson and Glover are so immensely talented that they could have been playing pet rocks for all we knew – they’d still fire on all cylinders. It’s especially great to see the one role that really sent Gibson over into the American mainstream, where he portrays a wild fire, who may be a bit of a bad boy, but also the kind that saves the day at the end of everything. It’s a mixture of both sides that always kept Gibson interesting and mysterious, but especially so here.

And yeah, Glover’s great, too. He has the great line of the movie, obviously, but even the scenes with his family feel honest and pertinent to creating a bigger picture of who this character is. The dinner-scene between Murtaugh’s family and Riggs is entertaining, but also interesting in that it gives us a breather right slap dab in the middle, but doesn’t feel like it’s wasting anyone’s time or money. It’s just settling down so that we get to know these characters and their talented performers. No problem with that, as long as the bullets go flying and the cars do explode.

Which they do.

Plenty. Of. Times.

Consensus: Lethal Weapon will forever stand the test of time for being solidly entertaining buddy-cop flick, even if its been awfully duplicated over the years.

8 / 10

It's Shane Black so, uh, duh explosions.

It’s Shane Black so, uh, duh explosions.

Photos Courtesy of: Last Road Reviews

Hollywood Shuffle (1987)

Where would we be without black actors? Maybe no Django? Or maybe not even the Django outrage?

Bobby Taylor (Robert Townsend) is a young, black male aspiring to be a the “next big thing in Hollywood”. He day dreams about it a lot, talks about it a lot, and even skips his work days just for that a lot, but he soon finds out that it’s a lot harder to be the “next big thing”, especially when race comes into play. Then again though, it’s Hollywood, so what the hell could ya expect when they want you to be the next Denzel, the next Morgan, or the next Sidney?!?

It blows that Robert Townsend doesn’t do much nowadays for the sole-purpose that his career started off with so much promise and inspiration, that it was all but obvious that it would eventually fall from grace and put him back down into the unknown league he was in before. Some may not even realize how much of an influence that guy had over some African-Americans back the day, but he really did, just by making a little film himself. Don’t believe me, watch an episode of Chappelle’s Show, then come back to this, and see where the inspiration came from.

See? It all goes together.

Working at a hot dog shack for the rest of your life can't be all that bad. Probably better than playing "drug dealer #4" for the rest of your life.

Working at a hot dog shack for the rest of your life can’t be all that bad. Probably better than playing “drug dealer #4” for the rest of your life.

Back in ’87, Townsend knew that it was hard for a black person to get their own, little film off the ground so he thought the best way would be to just max out all of his credit cards, direct and produce the film himself, ask his buddies for some help, and see how everything played out. It’s a pretty brave move to pull, a move that helped him out along with his buddies, but it’s also so brave because of the film that he actually created here. This is one of those films that is so funny because it makes fun of the right people, in the right ways. It’s obviously shading a gray-area on liberal-Hollywood that’s all about giving black people, roles in movies like drug dealers, pimps, or some sort of trouble-makers. Rarely ever do you see the smart, intelligent black man that went to Harvard, exceeded with flying colors in the real world, and lived a happy, peaceful life. They’re black, so obviously they have to be gang-banging in some way, right? Well, that’s where Townsend seems to be going with this material, and it’s as insightful now, as it was back then because certain things have changed, and certain things haven’t.

However, the film is most funny when Townsend breaks up the story with his random dream-like montages where he makes fun of certain pop-culture by placing black people in the leads. One skit I thought was very funny was Black Acting School 101, where it’s Townsend talking about this acting school where white people teach black people how to act “black”. It’s pretty freakin’ funny and the only reason why it’s so funny as it is and isn’t as offensive as it should be, is because it’s written by black people themselves. Yeah, that’s a bit of a racist statement to make in a way too, but it’s only the truth here. Townsend and his buds obviously know how to write a funny comedy about the culture they live in and see everyday, even if that culture is their own. Always nice to see that some ddues are able to make fun of others, while also being able to point the fingers towards themselves as well. Need that more in Hollywood nowadays.

A lot of what Townsend and Co. do end up satirizing and talking about, are pretty true and I think that’s where this film works the best in. Townsend, apparently, went through a lot of the same shit these characters are going through where numerous casting directors would try to get him to act more…black. Townsend frowns upon this, obviously, and shows exactly why it makes his culture look even dumber but he also puts a nice frown upon certain actors that do take those kind of dumb-ass, black roles (*cough* *cough* Eddie Murphy *cough* *cough*). Townsend doesn’t seem like he’s mad for this or even vengeful for this, he’s just very tongue-in-cheek and proves some very good points about African-American culture that even still sticks, despite an obvious change in where our movies are going with the usage of black actors, and black characters.

However, as brutally honest and sometimes hilarious this film can be, there was something lacking in Townsend’s narrative structure. The original story here, is pretty boring and your usual “young guy wants to be an actor” type of story that is only spiced up whenever the main character starts day-dreaming about different types of “What if…” situations. Some of them are very funny, but others, are funny at first but then start to go on for too long and get a bit too dry for my taste. One skit in particular was when Townsend substituted two black guys for Siskel & Ebert on their own version of the show, which may have started off very funny and full of promise, only began to go downhill, once it hit that seven-minute mark and you realized that they are still constantly going on about how they snuck into the theaters, stole their own snacks, and are about to get caught by the theater stuff. Funny once or twice, but after awhile; it’s the same joke, over-and-over again.

"So, I guess nobody has the time on them?"

“So, I guess nobody has the time on them?”

The cast is filled with a bunch of people we have all seen in tons and tons of random ish throughout the years, but the film’s main charm is through Robert Townsend who actually makes a pretty endearing character as Bobby Taylor. His character as Bobby is a good guy but it’s really impressive to see Townsend go through all of these different types of styles and pull ’em off very well. The guy also does a killer impersonation of Eddie Murphy and it’s a real wonder why this guy didn’t get any more love after this because he had some true talent to show off. Kind of sucks though, especially when you think about how d-heads like these two are somehow still getting in movies, and you’re still waiting for that next, big break to come your way.

Consensus: Hollywood Shuffle hits the right moments in terms of what it’s trying to say, how smart it can be, and where it shows our culture headed, if we continue this way, but it doesn’t always work with the loosey-goosey narration, and only shows that Townsend was a little bit inexperienced as a director.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Where DC's been heading as of late, would not be the least bit surprised if they went this direction next.

Where DC’s been heading as of late, would not be the least bit surprised if they went this direction next.

RoboCop (1987)

Still have no clue why Detroit hasn’t tried this yet.

Set in a crime-ridden Detroit, Michigan in the near future, a police officer named Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is brutally murdered by a gang of thugs (lead by Kurtwood Smith). Murphy’s life is over and is hailed as a hero for all of the service that he put into his job, but is that really it for the guy? Somebody from the malevolent mega-corporation OCP finds a way to subsequently revive him as a super-duper, crime-fighting machine known as RoboCop. Fun and hilarity ensues, I guess. All depending on what side your on.

The fact that Hollywood wants to give this original piece of material, the remake over-do that they are so in love with nowadays, really shocks me. It shocks me even more now, considering that the remake for Total Recall that blasted it’s ways into cinemas, just as quick as it blasted it’s way out, was forgettable, noting-special, and even though I didn’t hate it like others, still didn’t have the fun or charm of what made the original so lovely. Who knows what those grubby-paws of Hollywood have on their minds for the remake of this classic, but whatever it is that they do; at least we’ll always have this to fall back on. Oh, the lovely 80’s. How I miss your synthesizer-heavy scores.

Paul Verhoeven is considered a cult-director, that the mainstream audience still loves. This was his first foray into American cinema, and the heavy-baggage that he brought along with him was great to see, especially when you think about how much life and excitement he pumped into the sci-fi genre with this movie. Where Verhoeven excels with this movie, where others seemed to lose themselves on, is that he has a wonderful-sense of pacing. The guy is all about blood, action, gore, explosions, bullets, guns, and robots doing crazy and violent things, but he has also has an essence of what makes a story; a story that you not only care for, but realize is there underneath all of the guts and glory (literally).

Get ready, crime. You gonna get yo ass kicked, and then some.

Get ready, crime. You gonna get yo ass kicked, and then some.

Now, I’m not saying that the guy gets really dramatic on us, but with a story about a guy who loses his life due to a death, and has to make sense of it all while killing baddies left-and-right; you still have to give some credit to the dramatic-fireworks that may or may not be on-display here. For a story that’s more than I ever expected: I have to give credit to Verhoeven but it’s not the guy’s specialty by any stretch of the imagination. The guy’s specialty is action, action, action, and there’s a shit-load of that for all of you suckas to love and chew-on, while you try your hardest to not geek-out when RoboCop uses brutal-force against some sons-of-bitches.

This movie is exactly the type of fun you could want from a sci-fi flick: it’s fun, electric, entertaining, and always gory. The movie definitely has a look and style of it’s own in the way that it shows the future, shows the crime, and shows all of the violence that occurs, but never, ever shies away from it. Instead, it gets down and dirty with it all and gives us the fun that we always want from a sci-fi movie, especially a BLOODY one like this. I’m still surprised that this one garnered an R-rating, considering all of the crazy and disturbing that they do actually show and allow to go on here. However, it’s Verhoeven and the guy still finds a sense of beauty in the way he kills people, and how gory he makes it all look.

However, don’t be fooled by it all, because this movie is pretty damn weird. But don’t think weird is a bad thing, it’s a great thing, especially when you’re talking about this movie. There’s a lot of satire to be had here where, every once and awhile, two newscasters will pop-up on the screen to talk about daily happenings and give off some of the corniest line-readings ever but also make fun of the way our media treats violence. Like when one of the newscasters reads about 113 people dying in a burned building, and then quickly changes right away to a commercial about a brand-spankin’ new car to buy that’s out on the market. They don’t do this a lot in the film, but whenever they do, it made me laugh and realize that this film wasn’t just all about robots, guns, and murder, it’s more about the way our media is just getting dumber and dumber through television. This is obviously something that everybody knows about in today’s world, and some films even have this same exact central theme, but it’s just surprising to see it done in a film from 1987, when shit did seem to get a whole lot dumber, thanks to television. Then again, I don’t really think movies make you that much smarter, either. Or maybe it’s just certain ones that do. Either way, I’m a dumb fool and I like it! Woo-hoo!

If there seemed to be any problem with this movie that’s really holding me back from giving it a 9, it was that this is an 80’s movie, and it can be laughably cheesy at points. Hell, what the heck am I talking about!??! It’s always cheesy!! And one of the main pieces of cheese that annoyed the shit out of me was the character of Lewis, played by everybody’s favorite Brian De Palma babe, Nancy Allen. Everybody in this movie seems to have a chip on their shoulder, know what they’re about to do next, and have it go in the way that they planned: but not Lewis. No, siree! Lewis is a dumb character that yells, annoys, and nags everybody around her the whole time. And I’m not even talking about the characters in the movie, but us as well and it made me wish that RoboCop did a better deed and just got rid of her mouth before any further damage or harm was done anymore. She was only really there for the emotional-support this character needed to get through a relatively rough-time, and that was about it. Didn’t see any real reason for her to be around, or to serve the plot. Just there to be another pretty face and help RoboCop not serge his circuits when he was crying like a little bitch.

"Come out of hiding, Eric."

“Come out of hiding, Eric.”

Despite Nancy Allen being grudgingly-annoying throughout the whole movie, Peter Weller is actually still holds the fort down pretty well as Murphy/RoboCop. His monotone voice may be pushing the character and his delivery a little too far, but let’s face it: this performance isn’t about what the guy can do with what he says or how he says it, it’s all about kicking-ass, fighting crime, and saving the day like we all know and love RoboCop for. That’s all that matters in a movie like this, and as much as I may sound like a d-bag for getting on the movie’s case of being dated, it still was able to fall by the waist-side for me in certain-spots. Not all of the spots, but certain, and that’s more than I could say about Nancy Allen or whatever the hell it was that she was doing. God, I hated that chick.

However, just you wait and watch as you get a bit blind-sided by this movie. What I mean by that is even though RoboCop is our hero for the 2-hours and is there to fuck shit up like we want him to do, he isn’t the immovable-force that steals the show in this movie. Nope, that credit goes right to Kurtwood Smith as the extremely memorable villain, Clarence Boddicker. That’s right people, Red Forman gives one of those classic “love-to-hate” villains that every good sci-fi film needs, and it’s such a surprise to see this come out of Smith. He’s dastardly, sadistic, pretty damn smart, and even though he may not have the tin-build of RoboCop, the guy still proves to be a total threat you do not want to fuck with, no matter how shaky things get for him or for RoboCop. It’s a nice battle between these two that we get to see, enjoy, and realize that it’s something we never really get to see all that much in film’s nowadays, let alone ones of the sci-fi genre. Great villain and definitely the right guy to go toe-to-toe with RoboCop in the grander-scheme of things. Bravo, Red. Bravo.

Consensus: Since this is an 80’s movie, RoboCop suffers from being dated in most areas, but still works when it wants to crank-up the volume, kick ass, take names, fight criminals, and let us all see how much ketchup packets it had in it’s budget. It’s a sci-fi flick that hasn’t aged well in certain areas, but the areas that it has aged well in: are what make it awesome.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Seriously, what the fuck is that?!?!

Seriously, what the fuck is that?!?!

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Everybody’s a little crazy. Even the guys that protect our country with guns.

A young Marine named Davis, aka Joker (Matthew Modine), sees the Vietnam through his eyes and his eyes only. We follow him through the gruesome days of boot-camp under the tutelage of a vicious drill sergeant (R. Lee Ermey), and then as he ends up becoming a correspondent for Stars & Stripes, where he actually gets to witness and partake in all of the brutal violence he was trained in. Obviously, not everything is as easy as it seems when it comes to taking another human’s life, and that’s the moral problem Davis hits early-on.

I’ve seen this movie about 3 times by now and have yet to let it all sink in and fully hit my brain, head-on with enough understanding and comprehension to make all of my thoughts seem more than just aimless ramblings. Maybe that last sentence didn’t prove to you that I know exactly what I’m talking about but trust me, it’s been awhile since the last time I saw this movie and I’ve come to one assumption, and one assumption only: the war sucks.

By now, everybody knows this as “Kubrick’s two-act film”. The reason it’s called that, is because the first part of the flick plays out so damn differently from the latter, that it’s almost a shock to see it come from the same director, let alone be in the same movie. But have no fear, because no matter where and when Kubrick puts his story, he never loses his grip with what message he’s trying to get across and what exactly can be accomplished with when you have a guy with a head on his shoulders (a crazy head, but a head nonetheless), some extreme skills as a director, and also, the most important factor of all: a camera in your hand.

Just so you know, he's yelling.

Just so you know: he’s yelling.

What makes this movie work so well, even after the 4th time I’ve seen this by now is that Kubrick never dumbs the audience down for the material that he’s showing. However, he also doesn’t allow it to go way too over-your-head neither. He lets his messages and themes play-out, but also gives you something more to think about. Like take for instance, the first act where we see these young, punky kids get beaten, battered, and torn to shreds by this drill sergeant that shows no remorse, never lets them live down a single damn thing, and continues to badger them about being the killing-machines that act first and shoot last. It’s a pretty fucked-up idea that the guy has, but it’s also what the war his in mind as well, and we see just how Kurbick lets us know how messed-up it is with the first-act playing out in the type of way you wouldn’t expect it to go.

This first-half is where I think, and most other people too, the film’s at it’s strongest. It shows you just how hard and brutal it can be to be apart of the army, and still have the right frame-of-mind to believe in everything that you’ve been taught to believe. That’s what our country teaches us, that’s what our politicians teach us, so why not the army? Kubrick really lays down the law with this first-act and we see him tell a simple story, in a simple way, but still give us a compelling-look at something we would have never been able to see before, had it been shown to us by anybody else. Then, it sort of goes down-hill from there.

Actually, that’s not totally correct to say, because the second-half still has it’s moments, but they still aren’t as strong as the ones in the first. After we leave the boot-camp and actually get down and dirty with the battlefield itself, we see how all of these soldiers handle all of the teachings and training they’ve been handed, and use it when necessary  This is where the film get’s really dark, really heavy, and really preachy. Just by watching the first-shot in this movie where all of these young dudes were getting their heads all shaved and groomed for the army, already had me knowing that Kubrick was against the war and felt like it was stupid for us to throw young men like these fellas into it, and be nothing more than meaningless deaths. It’s a sad truth to say, but it is the truth nonetheless and I got that this was the point Kubrick was trying to make, until he continued to bash me over the head, non-stop with it.

By the latter-half of the movie, you start to realize that not only is the war having physical problems with these soldiers, but physical as well. Everybody’s all gung-ho with the violence, loves their guns so much that they just cannot wait to shoot somebody with them, and are a bunch of freaks when they have to come to terms with what they’re fighting for, who they’re fighting for, and what losing a person/fellow solider is all about. I got that they’re going crazy and aren’t very inept with the rest of mankind, but after awhile, it’s just so obvious to sit-through and listen to, that you stop to care after awhile. Kubrick is always known for being the guy who loves to show you something that’s on his mind and usually does it in the most clever way possible, and hell that’s what we all love him for! But here, in this movie and this last-act, we start to lose that sensibility that Kubrick had, the sensibility that made him stand-out from the rest of the crowd and show that he’s working on a higher-level than these other chumps.

Still, as much as I may rag on and on about what he does wrong, Kubrick still did a lot of right in this movie and kept me glued to the screen, even though I knew exactly what happened, where, how, and why. I guess that’s just the problem you run into with most movies when you see them a couple of times, but I was so shocked that I was still able to feel on-edge with everything Kubrick showed, graphic and non-graphic. The war sequences are stunningly shot and make you feel as if you are right there, in the action with them and proves to us all that Kubrick could handle a shaky-cam better than anybody else could. So take that Blair With Project peoples! All seriousness though, whenever Kubrick has a vision in his head, he sticks to it, and never lets it go, no matter how much of his message he may hammer into our skulls.

Maybe the whole point was to make us feel like we were one of the soldiers. I don’t know. But what I do know is that the guy is one of the greatest filmmakers of all-time and really shocked me by how much he was allowed to get away with here. Controversial? You bet your sweet ass it is, but that’s what anti-war films are all about. So, whatever it is that you do, do not, I repeat, DO NOT request this as a movie-viewing on Veteran’s Day, or else you’re going to have some pretty angry vets coming at your neck. Just a fair warning, that’s all.

"I don't mind what type of business you're doing in here, but could you just keep it done at least?"

“I don’t mind whatever type of business you’re doing in here, but could you just keep it down? No? Okay, I’m leaving. Have fun.”

I know it isn’t Kubrick’s style to give into conventions and be like everybody else, but this movie would have greatly benefited from some sort of main character that drives this story the whole way through. Yeah, Matthew Modine is here and is fine as Joker, but still doesn’t seem to be much of an asset to the story, as much as he’s just a reason for us to actually pay attention to all of the crazy shit that’s going on around him. It’s sort of a sad thing to notice, because Modine is a quality actor, but it’s something that I noticed early-on and I wish Kubrick payed more attention to, rather than just going for the gull by trying to look fancy and cool with his style-points. He gets those points, but has to lose character-points as well. Can’t win ’em all, Stanley!

Even though Modine’s character doesn’t supply us with the fuel for the fire, two other actors in this movie do. Vincent D’Onofrio gained a lot of notoriety and in a way, still does to this day because of how much weight he put on for this role as Leonard Lawrence, aka Gomer Pyle. Apparently it was around 80 pounds or something, which to me, sounds like just another night of partying and drinkin’, but I digress. The guy deserves all of the credit he gets for his work here in this movie and not just because he gained all of that poundage, but because the guy makes us actually believe this sweet, kind man can go from being the nice kid who lives next-door, to being the psycho you would never even trust around your kids, let alone next to your own house. D’Onofrio really nails what it’s like to go from being normal, to being a total nut that’s all gung-ho for war, guns, and violence, and shows that the brain-washing techniques it seems like the army uses, isn’t always for the better of man. Maybe for society, but not for the man itself.

However, that’s where R. Lee Ermey comes in and proves, well: that we were right. Ermey is amazing as the drill sergeant that takes no prisoners when it comes to teaching these boys a lesson about what it means to become a solider not just of the war, but of the country as well. Ermey, whether he’s yelling out insults at people or lecturing the boys on how they should not fuck with him or he’ll fuck them right back, Ermey is always interesting, always compelling to watch, and always had me laughing. He’s the main reason why that first-half is so much better than the latter-half, and that’s why it’s a shame to see him and D’Onofrio go and leave us with the presence of Matthew Modine and a bunch of other schmoes that you’ve all seen before, you just don’t know where or when. Not to discredit them or anything, but nobody’s really as stellar as Ermey or D’Onofrio. That’s just the simple fact, Jack. I don’t know who Jack is, but I just wanted to sound cool so leave me alone.

Consensus: Even if Full Metal Jacket isn’t Kubrick’s best, it’s still a heck of a lot better than most cinema out there and proves to you that the war sucks and that everybody who gets involved with it are usually messed-up in the head, dead, or have no chance of understanding what it means to be a human-being, nor do they have a way to understand just what the hell it is that they are fighting for. It’s obvious stuff, but with Kubrick behind the camera: it’s always fascinating.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

No, he is not taking a dump. He IS shooting people.

“GOD BLESS AMURRRICAAAAHHH!!!”

Near Dark (1987)

The 80’s weren’t cool, but vampires were. That’s more than I can say about this decade.

A young man named Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) lives in a small midwestern town and becomes involved with a family of nomadic American vampires. Since he’s along for the ride, Caleb has to learn to love, kill, and also stay alive as a vampire.

Whenever you hear people bring-up director Kathryn Bigelow’s name, they usually associate it with The Hurt Locker and the next, Afghan-War-setting movie coming-out, Zero Dark Thirty. Yes, the gal has been keeping her self busy lately and definitely has been impressing everybody out there with what she can do but little do people actually know, is that she’s actually made a crap-load of films, way, way before she even got nominated for an Oscar. Some people probably don’t know this, but Bigelow actually took a chance at making a vampire flick, and it’s something I wish she did today to make us forget about all the Bella’s, Jacob’s, and Edward’s. Although, it doesn’t really matter anyway because they’re gone baby! Woo-hoo!

Taking elements of a western, vampire, road, and horror movie and putting them altogether in one movie, makes it seem a bit like a bad idea but somehow, Bigelow makes it work. Her keen-eye for the beautiful scenery of the American Southwest is definitely something that makes this feel a bit Western-y, but then you add in all of the creepy, horror-elements of these vampires, the things they do to survive, and how they don’t give a shit who or what it is that they kill. I don’t want to sell this film like a scary movie, because it really is not, but what it does work on is tension and being as gruesome to watch as it can possibly be.

"If you think we look bad, you should see what the other guy looks like. Especially his neck."

“If you think we look bad, you should see what the other guy looks like. Especially his neck.”

Bigelow has definitely nailed-down the true essence of how to build suspense in one film, but also in certain-scenes as well and there’s a scene here that seems like the first-instance of it. There’s this really cool scene where the whole family goes into this bar, with the intentions of drinking some people’s blood, and realizing that they have a somewhat packed-house, so all they do is basically have a great time with it, kill people left-and-right, terrorize the shit out of the place, and have a smile on their faces the whole time. It’s probably the best scene in the whole movie, and one that kept me tense the whole time because I never knew what was going to happen next, how, or who was going to be possibly killed-off next. To say that this flick is a horror movie would not be categorizing it in the right way, it’s more of a thriller, that just so happens to have vampires doing normal, vampire-like things like biting people, causing havoc, and sucking people’s blood. You know? The finer things in life when you’re a vampire.

However, this one scene may be the best of the whole film, but also just so happens to be the killer of it as well (pun intended, I guess). See, the problem that I had with this flick that so many other people probably didn’t really pay-attention to because they like fun more than me, is that the movie doesn’t really feel like it has any real-spark driving the film along at steady, understandable-pace. For instance, the movie starts off pretty boring as we watch these two love-birds try and see who can get lucky by the end of the night, only to have the whole vampire twisteroo pop-up, and send things into a weird-spin that should feel like the film’s going to pick-up, but it somehow doesn’t.

"It's a blood-patch. What? It hasn't yet caught-on to humans?"

“It’s called a blood-patch. What? It hasn’t caught-on to human culture, yet?”

With the exception of a couple of scenes, especially the one in the bar that I just mentioned, everything else in this flick is pretty dull to the romance that never shows any signs of actual chemistry, let alone any “love” being involved whatsoever; to the corny, synth score from Tangerine Dream that just so happens to be in here for one reason and one reason only: it’s the 80’s and synths are apparently cool; to the explanation of how you can overcome this vampire disease, that made me think the creators of Daybreakers actually worked with some scientists; and finally, to the family full of nuts that I didn’t quite care about, mainly because they don’t ever seem to share any pure-moments of bonding because all they ever do together is kill, suck, and move. I would have loved this movie like every other fanboy out there in the world, but the film just lacked any sort of emotional, or compelling-drive to honestly reel me in as much as it wanted to.

Since it is the 80’s, you know that we have to have a crazy-ass performance from Bill Paxton, and that’s exactly what he delivers here as Severen. Paxton can play crazy, like no otha motha, and he shows that so well here and even steals a couple of the scenes he’s been given permission to take. Yeah, Paxton may be over-the-top, campy, and hamming-it-up like nobody’s business, but at least the guy was fun to watch and kept my attention off of the relatively lame and dull story, that just never seemed to catch-up with this guys energy.

The only instance of this kid's career being "on fire."

The only instance of this kid’s career being “on fire.”

Playing the leader of the group of vampires, is Lance Henriksen that really does have a sinister act and persona to him that makes you shiver, quiver, and feel a bit scared whenever he’s around. The guy’s got a presence that makes me wonder why he isn’t in more stuff, just absolutely scaring the shit out of more and more people, and trust me, with a voice like that, a guy can do damage to some people’s pants. The lovebirds that get stuck in the middle of all of this craziness and horror are played by Jenny Wright and Adrian Pesdar, and as much as they try their hardest to make us feel their love and cook something-up, nothing ever gets hot and heavy between one another and it just seems like another forced romance that’s supposed to move the plot along, despite us not believing in a single-lick of it. I can’t also forget to mention the annoying piece of shit kid-actor known as Joshua John Miller, who I mainly remember annoying the crap out of me in River’s Edge, and you know what? Not much changes here, either, as I still wanted to beat the shit non-stop out of this kid and just hope and pray nobody cares about his movie-career. I highly doubt anybody would care anyway, but still, I just couldn’t help my evil-thoughts at times during this movie.

Consensus: In a day and age where vampires are star-crossed lovers that are torn-apart due to sappy stories that we don’t care about, Near Dark is a fresh change-of-pace for the vampire movie-genre where they were taken more seriously, showed more gore, and most of all, allowed themselves to do the dirty deeds they were invented to do in the first-place: suck blood out of random people’s necks. It’s not perfect, but it’s nice to watch if you want to get over the whole Twilight-craze being over and done with….for now.

7/10=Rental!!

Was that seriously the only light source they had in that area?

Was that seriously the only light source they had in the area?

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)

You just had to go back to that cabin, didn’t you?

Basically, Dead By Dawn retcons the fact that Ash went with four other college students to the fact that he only went with his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler). It recaps the events of the first film, up until the point where the spirit attacks Ash, which basically means that it’s another night trapped with the horrifying demons of the Necronomicon.

After checking out The Evil Dead for Halloween Horror Movie Month last year, I knew I had to end this year’s one on a bang. And if you have seen this movie, you know exactly what type of bang I’m talking about. In-joke, bitches. In-joke.

If you think seeing this movie as being a part of my little meme for this month means that it’s scary, I will assure you: it’s far from that. Yeah, there is a couple of jump-scares here and there that catch you off-guard in the way most horror movies do, but this is more of a campy, over-the-top horror movie, with slight, comedic undertones, and that’s probably what makes this film so much damn fun in the first-place. Like with the first-movie, director Sam Raimi shows that he loves making these kinds of movies, regardless as to how much money or material is at his disposal. The guy just has a ball with everything that he owns here, and it shows, but in a good-way. So, for any movie-geek out there who thinks that making all of your wildest dreams come true of being a big-time film-maker are lost because you don’t know the difference between a 16 mm and a 70 mm, then have no fear and just take a note out of this guy’s book. Hell, he’s making this crap and no less than 15 years later he was already making a big-budget, Spider-Man movie. Just goes to show you what a bunch of fun and love can do and where it can get you in Hollywood.

Despite being a sequel to a relatively scary movie, Evil Dead 2 pulls no punches in making itself as goofy as can be. You got laughing furniture, prosthetic chainsaws, tree monsters, an evil book of the dead, and plenty of other crazy and goofy stuff that just so happens to show up in this movie, but it all works because it is never, not for once, taken in the least-bit seriously. Everything here is practically a joke and every scene that happens, is just as outrageous and crazy as the last one but who cares? It’s not about scaring the pants off of film-goers, it’s more about showing the audience that you can have a kick-ass time just watching a movie that does not pull any punches with itself, or it’s material.

And when I mean that this film “does not pull any punches”, I mean that it does not linger away from showing you some disgusting, freakishly-weird looking things up on-screen and as dated as they may be, they still are inventive and original, in their own, sick way. There’s plenty of blood and goo that just pops-out of nowhere sometimes so if you’re squeamish, remember, you have been warned to bring your brown paper bag with ‘ya. Then again, why the hell would you be going to see this movie in the first-place if you don’t like blood or gore. It’s called Evil Dead for chrissakes, and better yet, it’s the sequel. More evil, more dead, more blood, and more guts to be seen. That’s how I like my horror movies and that’s why I had a ball with this one.

I know, I know that this whole review has been all about me practically making love to this movie and telling you how much fun I had but when I say that, I really mean it. Yes, it can be perceived as corny-as-hell in most-spots but that shit doesn’t really matter when you have a cast and crew that sort of knows it and is doing it on-purpose. It’s so rare that you can come by a film that just knows what it is, plays around with itself, and makes no apologies for itself either. Trust me, rather than being scared shit-less until your own pants, literally fall-off from so much feces (sorry for the graphic image), you’ll most likely lose them from all of the piss that comes out when you laugh so hard. Seriously, lines like “Groovy” and “Swallow this”, just had me howling in my seat not only because they were corny, but just because they fit the whole tone of the movie and seemed like it served it’s purpose when it was all said and over with. You’re not going to get a more over-the-top and wild movie than this, and that’s a fact, Jack.

And you know who else serves his mother ‘effin purpose? Fuckin’ Bruce Campbell, that’s who! I remember seeing Campbell play Ash in the first movie, and remembering that this guy definitely seemed like he had a mean-streak in him and should totally let-loose against these demonic pieces of shit if he knew what’s best for him. Thankfully, by the end of that movie, he got that memo after all and gets that one right from the start here and it’s freakin’ awesome to see. The guy does a total 180 and starts kicking ass, taking names, saying cheesy-lines, saving dames, and doing everything else, other than chewing bubble gum (that was a They Live reference in case you peeps didn’t know). Campbell is the big reason why so many people love this movie, and exactly why I do too because no matter how many times the guy gets his ass kicked, he always comes back for more and that’s refreshing to see in a horror-genre that’s now plagued by high-school pussies that are more concerned with their virginity than their lives. That’s why we need another character like Ash in today’s day and age to smack some sense into these little pieces of crap. Actually, if there is a complaint I had with this movie was that when Ash does eventually meet-up with other people in this movie, they are annoying, despicable, and do every single, stupid thing that you would normally expect from horror-movie conventions and stock-characters. However, Ash was still there to save the day in the end and that’s all I cared about. Thank the lord for Bruce Campbell!

Consensus: I went back-and-forth on whether or not I should have given this movie an 8.5 or 9, and I just realized that the whole-time, I continued to smile and smile throughout and it’s exactly what I wanted in a horror flick. Pure fun, pure campiness, and pure, over-the-top, goofiness that never steps into serious-territory.

9/10=Full Price!!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Don’t take taxis during rush hour. This is what will probably happen to you.

Neal Page (Steve Martin) is a high-strung advertising executive who needs to get from New York to Chicago in a matter of two days, for Turkey Day. Many things go bad for Neal and he ends up being stuck with a very nice, eternally sunny, and somewhat intolerable dude named Del Griffith (John Candy), a shower-curtain salesman. Things go from bad to worse, and Neal is stuck with Del in trying to get back to his crib for the turkey. And honestly, who wouldn’t be rushing home for Thanksgiving dinner? Yummy yummy.

John Hughes is a great writer and director and those are the two strengths that are shown here incredibly well, especially with his writing. The whole script here is basically watching this tight-ass be tormented by horrible situations that honestly do go from bad to worse and a guy he always seems to sneak away from, but in the end, he always ends up being right back to where he started from. It’s a formula that is very obvious but somehow Hughes makes it work.

The humor here is hilarious because I just loved seeing a buddy-comedy that had funny situations mixed with a lot of the usual jokes that come from two guys who are polar opposites. Del is talkative, loving, and always happy, while Neal is somehow always tense, annoyed, angry, or just bothered by everything going on around him. This clash between two characters creates a whole lot of fun for the film but then again, I do love road films, so my opinion could be a bit biased.

What really adds to this film is the fact that the humor is under-lined with some sentimental moments, but it doesn’t feel forced or corny in anyway. Hughes is able to draw out these characters so much that by the end of the film, we really do understand them and care for them and hope that no matter what they are both happy, which may sound a little cheesy now but the film spends so much time with its comedy that when it actually does get a little soft, it surprisingly works. The ending is quite a heavy one and I think that’s a real surprise and tribute to what a true talent John Hughes was as a screen-writer.

My problem with this film was that it was a little too obvious that there is a lot more to this guy Del, then we actually think. Without giving anything away, we never really find out where this guy is going, why he’s going there, and just how the hell he ends up going the same way as Neal the whole film. This to me seemed pretty obvious and I think if Hughes wanted to really shock us, he could have just been a bit more mysterious with the character of Del.

There was also this one scene where we find out the big “twist” if you want to call it that, at the end of the film. The scene doesn’t last long and I think for the film to really give this hard-hitting emotional impact on the audience, the scene needed to be help up longer before we started getting into the real heavy ending. Then again, I could just be nit-picking like a the highly-esteemed movie critic that I always am deep down inside.

The main reason why this film works is because of the great performances given by Steve Martin and John Candy who give some of their most memorable performances of their careers, and that’s saying something. Martin is great as the stuck-up Neal, who always seems to be freaking out at everything, and there are also many other scenes where he gets to show his true comedic talent. If you don’t believe me, just watch the F-bomb scene, then you’ll see what I mean. Just wish the dude would step away from ‘Cheaper By the Dozen’.

Candy has never been better as Del and it’s probably my favorite performance from him (beating out ‘Uncle Buck’) because he’s just so damn likable. The guy is always happy, looking on the bright side of things, and whenever something bad seems to come his way he always finds his way of sneaking out of it and bringing out a positive. Candy has a lot of funny lines and funny scenes where he gets to show his playfulness on-screen, but it’s really about the heart that Candy brings out inside of Del that works. You can tell there is something underneath Del, and there are a couple of scenes that hint this and the way Candy shows it is just perfect and real showing of how great he was with both comedy and drama. If I was stuck with John Candy on a two-day trip, I can easily tell you it would be a hell of a time though!

Consensus: Planes, Trains and Automobiles uses a formula we have all seen before but somehow Hughes makes it even more hilarious than it has any right to be, which is also with some thanks to Candy and Martin who are perfect in these roles, bringing out both comedy and heart within their own characters. Perfect Thanksgiving film.

9/10=Full Price!!

Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Wall Street (1987)

Not much has changed in the past two decades, except for maybe Charlie Sheen. He’s changed a whole damn lot.

Enterprising stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) falls under the enticing spell of Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), an unabashedly greedy Wall Street arbitrageur who tutors him in the unscrupulous tactics that put the corporate raider on top. But when Gekko embroils his protégé in an insider-trading scheme that may risk the jobs of kith and kin, Fox develops a conscience and decides to turn the tables.

This one was written and directed by a favorite of mine, Oliver Stone. This was around the time he was hot off  the huge Oscar winner, Platoon, and although this one isn’t as great as that one, it’s still alright.

As director, Stone knows what he’s doing but it’s all pretty simple with this film despite good camera-work that moved all-over-the-place, to give us the feeling of being busy that these stockbrokers always had. But when it comes to writing, Stone has been better.

The dialogue is alright but there are way too many lines that I felt were just too “movie-made”. All of the dialogue feels like it could have easily been quotable, but I just didn’t think people talked like these guys were with all their macho hammy bullshit sayings. I think it was more the 80’s to blame, rather than Stone himself because I guess what they thought was cool to say back in the 80’s, just seems lame and cheesy now.

The only line from this film that anybody really quotes, hell, even remembers is “Greed is good”, which is no surprise because the whole film practically is about that line and it’s the truth which is why this film still works in today’s world. There is still corporate greed running all over the world and it’s a shame that after almost 23 years later, that this shit is still happening and still around but I guess that’s what really matters about this film. We can still watch it today and have as much of an connection to it today, as anybody would have had then.

Michael Douglas is very good in this role as the evil, Gordon Gekko. Right as soon as you see this dude with the slick hair, the huge white collar, the suspenders, and the cell phone that’s the size of my head, you know he’s a total scumbag, but Douglas does a great job at making a scumbag look good. Douglas knows how to make Gekko seem like a total prick, but just a prick who wants more money, more respect, and more power to basically take over any company just to the point of where he can about be one of the richest men in the world. Gekko is the type of guy, you just hate, but there’s something about him that directs your attention towards him right away. That’s all thanks to Douglas and although I don’t usually like him as an actor, I think he does a very great job as Gekko and makes him the personification for everything that’s wrong with the economy.

The rest of the cast is pretty good too. Charlie Sheen is good with his yuppie schtick as Bud Fox (what a dumb name), but as the film goes on he gets more cocky and angry, and it’s actually kind of hard to take him as seriously as the film wanted us to. Martin Sheen doesn’t have the same problem his son does and actually has a couple of very emotional scenes. Daryl Hannah doesn’t bring anything to this film as Bud’s main squeeze, and could have been left out of the picture completely and it wouldn’t have mattered either way. Terence Stamp, John C. McGinley, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, and Sean Young are all good.

Consensus: Wall Street has a powerful performance from Douglas, and features a timeless look on the Wall Street circuit, but falls for too many 80’s cliches like the lame and cheesy sayings in the script, the annoying synthesizer, and just the feeling that nothing else here is really authentic.

7/10=Rental!!

Ishtar (1987)

Yeah, the words “ish” and “tar” are two great words combined to describe this movie.

When their goldbrick agent books a gig in — of all places — the Middle East, foundering American lounge singers Chuck (Dustin Hoffman) and Lyle (Warren Beatty) surprisingly garner success — and get ensnared in a secret mission with a CIA agent (Charles Grodin) and local rebel leader (Isabelle Adjani). And just when they think they’ve outfoxed the bad guys, they end up roaming the desert with their survival in question.

So basically this film stars two great stars, who all have Oscar quality, and a great female director in Elaine May. So how could this all be such a mess?

The one problem with this film is that it doesn’t understand that its one joke that it plays through the whole movie, isn’t funny!! Now take it for granted that its not as terrible for the first 30 minutes, and actually some jokes do work, but they go on too long. Beatty and Hoffman can’t sing at all, they know it, the film knows it, the audience knows it, hell, everyone knows it! And even by the third act, they are still singing, even though their deserted.

Now the part that really doesn’t work at all, is when the film dives into a political thriller esque film. This part really threw me off, cause none of it was ever exciting, and barely none of it brought out any good themes about politics. Basically by the time their in the desert nothing is happening, other stupid camel jokes, and dumb subplots. It is all too much of a bore.

Hoffman and Beatty, gob bless their souls, who try so hard to actually bring some laughs out, but fail and fail miserably. I think they were miscast here and although they try, they don’t have any singing ability and don’t have enough good improv to make these scenes where its just them to, any better.

Consensus: Ishtar is a bore-fest, that starts out promising, but ends into a just completely jumbled, poorly-acted, and unfunny mess of a film, if you want to call it that.

2/10=SomeOleBullShiitt!!

The Untouchables (1987)

Not a great gangster flick, but a good one none the less.

G-man Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) will stop at nothing to take down legendary gangster Al Capone (Robert De Niro) — even if it means bending some rules and breaking some bones! Sean Connery steals the show with his performance of a tough-as-nails Chicago street cop who shows Ness the ropes.

There is a lot of effort put into this film to put a spin on the gangster film genre with a big budget, ambitious and authentic look of the 1930s, and a script by the great David Mamet. Too bad its not what you would expect.

The major flaw of this film is that it thinks it’s more creative than it is. De Palma’s stated goal was to create a twist on the gangster film genre, which no prior to him had actually ended the Al Capone story in the true fashion. But he thinks that gives him license to play up all of the conventions of the genre as if the ending then will shock and make-up for the deficiencies of the genre. However, the ending is not surprising and the bulk of the plot feels forced, scenes in the church, criminals with no aim, the corrupt police officers, an abstraction of right and wrong in the face of heavy injustices.

De Palma is a good director but for me this isn’t his type of work. i’ll give him one thing he does a good job here at directing especially one great slow-mo action shot, but cannot keep up with his story, and takes too much style over it. The film at times, came off as way too corny, and in my opinion could have been played out a whole lot better.

I will say that the look and feel of this film is what makes it reasonable. It look exactly like the 30s with all of the little details about the city of Chicago during this time. Also, the writing at times isn’t great, but the story keeps on going so it made me pretty entertained as it was going on.

Mostly it was the performances that did it for me. Costner in one his first big roles, plays Ness as a young guy who at first is cocky, then changes into still being nervous about his career and what he wants to do. I was disappointed by De Niro, cause I felt he really wasn’t in the film that much to create a hateful villain. I was upset that he also didn’t get to use his charm at all, and played a very routine Capone. The one who steals the show for me is Connery who come sinto the movie, and is everything you want in a great teacher: funny, smart, and all around tough. There are lines in this film that are funny mostly due to Connery’s great deliverance.

Consensus: The Untouchables is well-acted, nicely written, and overall highly entertaining, but is a disappointing film with De Palma’s failed direction, and use of being too corny.

8/10=Matinee!!!

Wall Street (1987)

Is greed always good??

Enterprising stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) falls under the enticing spell of Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), an unabashedly greedy Wall Street arbitrageur. Gekko takes Fox under his wing, tutoring his charge in the unscrupulous tactics that put the corporate raider on top. But when Gekko embroils his protégé in an insider-trading scheme that may risk the jobs of kith and kin, Fox develops a conscience and decides to turn the tables.

Director Oliver Stone, as many of you may know is one of my favorite directors of all-time. I like if not love a lot of his stuff so when I heard about this film, and how Douglas won a Best Oscar, I was ready for a wonderful film. Instead I got a bore-fest.

If you are annoyed by shallow anti capitalism good-versus-evil plots, avoid this one. On its face, this film bashes illegal insider trading. But it goes further. The bashing subtly reaches legitimate brokers who make a living trading stock (a service which, like movie making, vastly enriches the very few at the expense of the many who want the service). Two lines most revealingly demonstrate this: The evil caricature Douglas smugly asks (paraphrasing) “You think this is a democracy!? No! This is capitalism!” (Ignoring that the political system (democracy) and the economic system (capitalism) are interrelated and are presumably good.)

This film is basically incredibly predictable in a story that goes from one place to another in cliche after cliche. The characters in this film are just basically total yuppie assholes. Even the main protagonist, Sheen, doesn’t even seem that liable to root for. He just seems so dumb and even a bigger deuche.

The acting is very very sub-par. I mean in all honesty I think Douglas at times really did over-play his role as this totally unlikable guy. Some scenes hes very good, and some hes just not all that there. In all honesty he did not deserve that Oscar at all. Sheen gives an OK performance here but I found it very hard throughout the film to take him seriously since I’m a huge fan of Two and a Half Men.

Consensus: The acting is OK, but the story is very very contrived, with predictable story elements, and even worse characters that your more likely to hate then cheer for.

2/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!!

Raising Arizona (1987)

Coen Brothers can basically do no wrong.

Ex-cop Edwina “Ed” McDonnough (Holly Hunter) and her ex-con husband, H.I. (Nicolas Cage), are devastated when they learn they can’t have children. Not to worry: They reckon they’ll just “borrow” one of furniture magnate Nathan Arizona’s (Trey Wilson) new quintuplets.

Now this film was the Coen Brothers next hit after Blood Simple. That was very slow paced and spare, however with this, it’s upbeat, funny, and overall some of the better work that they have done.

The story is so off-the-wall. It is all just so goofy, to its characters, its story even to its look at points. The film pokes fun at heart of America citizens which didn’t seem in good taste, but then soon starts to redeem itself due to some big laughs that make you just listen to the jokes rather than the visuals or story.

However their were some slow patches, and parts that didn’t make sense. Such as Cage always dreams of  a crazy biker who was always killing things, and somehow he ended up turning real, and finding out how to solve one case that I can’t really tell you. For me this was really confusing but at the same time, I just ignored it due to the humor.

The Coen Brothers really do know how to just film a movie with their realistic as hell camera work. The film has many chases and action, but the camera never loses pace with its action and you always feel like your on the ride of a lifetime with some of these shots. Also, the film is really great to look at with all its vibrant colors, and such make this film a lot more colorful.

The performances here are some of the funniest and quirkiest made from the stars. Nic Cage plays a goofy crook, who always has these hilarious insights on life, that are just so dumb, but at the same time are just great and actually kind of smart if you think about it. Holly Hunter does even a better job as Ed the ex-cop, and the one thing that these two have in common despite being on two opposite sides of the law, they both have very good chemistry together and it rarely ever seems forced.

The film does a great job at leaving us with a thoughtful message with a powerful scene. It tells how some people fit into this crazy world, and how others sometimes cannot, and maybe, just maybe, we shouldn’t be too quick to judge either group.

Consensus: Raising Arizona has some rough patches, but is revived with its hilarious and at the same time quirky humor, unusual characters with wonderful performances, and a powerful message to leave us off on this crazy ride straight from the Coen’s.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!!

Throw Momma from the Train (1987)

God, I even wanted to throw that momma from the train!

When struggling mystery writer Owen (Danny DeVito) realizes that he and his teacher, Larry (Billy Crystal), are both slowly going crazy thanks to the women in their lives, he gets a great idea: He’ll kill Larry’s devious ex-wife if Larry offs Owen’s domineering, overbearing mother. Expect classic black comedy after Owen fulfills his end of the bargain — and Larry’s stuck without an alibi!

The film takes inspiration from the Hitchcock classic film Strangers On A Train, where the perfect murder is where 2 complete strangers exchange murder victims.

The film acts like a black comedy, but isn’t all that dark at points. Yeah, it talks about murder and death, which is a dark subject, but many of the other things that happen or joked about aren’t very dark.

With this film you would expect to have been hilarious, when really its only slightly funny. Some jokes seem forced, and some are just too obvious and not very funny after all. It doesn’t have that hilarious satirical look, and feel you would expect from a film of this nature.

Instead, we get a lot of these little whimsical tales, which I thought were the best parts of the film. DeVito does a great job at directing showing himself as this pathetic young kid, who still cannot seem to get any respect from his mama. At times, the film played as it was more cute than it was more dark.

The cast does an OK job as playing their respective parts. Crystal, who I admire, is all around the place screamin, yelling, and just going insane over nothing and doesn’t make any sense in this performance. DeVito does a great job at playing this child-like man who you actually do feel pity for. But the best here is Anne Ramsey who plays Momma. She is so ruthless, and cranky that it is actually where a lot of the comedic element for this film comes from.

Consensus: DeVito’s directorial debut is impressive with some funny moments and OK performances from the cast, but doesn’t have enough humor, and has Crystal acting as a madman for no reason.

5.5/10=Rental!!!

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Not one of the better films to watch on veterans day.

Marine recruits (including Matthew Modine and Vincent D’Onofrio) endure the grueling ordeal of basic training and later face the unrelenting Viet Cong during the 1968 Tet Offensive in this grim Stanley Kubrick drama, based on a novel by Gustav Hasford.

Personally, I love Stanley Kubrick films. I think his way of film-making is so rich and grand that when he died not many knew what a legacy he left behind. Kubrick right here doesn’t stop to impress me.

One thing to point out about this film is that it isn’t your average normal war film. There are many scenes of combat, but most of it is what goes on before being shipped out to the war, and what goes on when you are shipped out in the war. Some will find it boring, I found it refreshing to finally see what these soldiers we’re like before the war, and in between it.

The fantastic element of the movie is its portrayal of the moral ambiguity of that war, the soldiers’ awareness of this issue, and their commitment to fight on, not for country or cause, but for one another, as well as an undefined inertia.

The way Kubrick has this movie filmed is also very extraordinary. He films these takes while war is happening and the camera moves up and down as if you were watching the view of a soldier in combat with them. I felt like I was right there with them and felt very much more compelled to the story. Also, there are plenty of other just beautiful shots that really do make this film look even more spectacullar.

The screenplay is what really plays out well in this film. The dialogue here feels so realistic and so genuine that I thought I was watching a real film about real people. There is also some little blends of black comedy that really do make this film great and a lot more enjoyable than some would think.

Though I liked Kubrick’s direction I just don’t think it was meant for this type of movie. Kubrick is known for making these sc-fi thriller films about the unexplainable. With this film he gets a little too dynamic and doesn’t hit the right cord with this film as he has done with his plenty of others. I think that his directing is good just not made for this film, and what takes it away from being great.

The little supporting acts in this film really do shine. R. Lee Ermy does the best job in this whole film and fully does capture this essence of a hard as nails drill sergeant, who with his orders and yells, makes this film amazing. The only problem I had with the acting was that the film is centered around Matthew Modine, and he doesn’t really do a great job in this film and I didn’t find him very believable until the very end.

I also thought that the ending could’ve been so much better. Kubrick is known for his great endings to any film, and he plays the ending with a cheesy and corny not so anti-war message ending.

Consensus: Though it is good not great, Full Metal Jacket has great direction from Kubrick, realistic screenplay, and some great visuals, but suffers from Kubrick becoming his own worst enemy early on in the film.

8/10=Matinee!!!

Cry Freedom (1987)

When I think of Black people, i really do think of Denzel.

In a segregated South Africa, black nationalist Steven Biko (Denzel Washington) and white newspaper editor Donald Woods (Kevin Kline) are unlikely friends with a common goal: ending apartheid. When Biko’s beliefs land him in prison and he’s covertly murdered by South African authorities, Woods rallies to expose the injustice.

I have seen a lot of apartheid films, and in the end they all seem to have the same preachy vibe to it. Except this one is less of a message and more of a story, which really kept me going.

Cry Freedom has a lot of really powerfully disturbing scenes that really do capture the essence of this time in Africa. The constant use of imagery throughout the film, had me taken back by the true reality that lied within Africa and how it’s people were treated by this new government taking.

The one thing that’s very fresh about this film, is that the very powerful scenes that feature Biko’s funeral has Woods at it, and the film could’ve easily ended with that scene and had a little tribute to all the victims. However, the film doesn’t do that and it goes into a completely different direction, about telling the story of Woods and his family escaping Africa.

When this happened, I had the most problems with this film. I felt like the story became too much like a thriller, and really lost it’s message that it was trying to get at it with. I felt the slow pace really did make this film at times very unbearable and feel dragged at points that could have been interesting. Some scenes that were in this film didn’t feel like they we’re needed and actually could’ve been taken away so it could break down the film’s straneous 2 hour and 37 minute time-limit.

I liked the performance from Washington as he shows early on that he was destined for glory. He underplays his character with a sense of truth and despair without getting too preachy and annoying. Kline also gives a good performance taking on the latter part of the film, and actually almost doing a better more effective job than Washington, but sadly he doesn’t.

Consensus: Cry Freedom has some very powerful scenes and strong performances, but lags with it’s slow pace mixed in with a very long last 30 minutes.

8/10=Matinee!!

La Bamba (1987)

Great song, too bad he didn’t write it.

The drama is based on the real life events that affected the lives of rock star Ritchie Valens, his half-brother Bob Morales, his girlfriend Donna Ludwig and the rest of their families. On February 3, 1959, “the day the music died”, three rock legends Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper died. Buddy Holly’s movie was made so heres Ritchie’s with the same ending.

This film is not a very good biopic of a small-time legend but its good nonetheless. The film shows a kid who never really got to grow up and develop into the big star that he started becoming and its spends a lot of time his faamily life, such as his uneasy relationship with his half-brother.

The film is good at its writing especially showing a very realistic script that Valens’ has with the people around him. I liked how in his life no matter how famous he got he still experienced the constant racism especially from his girlfriends dad, and how even though he feels hes on top of the world he is still having problems with his family.

However, the problem with this film is not so much of the film as it is the true story. Since he was about only 17 when he died, there is not much to capture in this legends life, especially since he only had 3 hits. I didn’t feel that too into the story since I already knew what happens at the end, and at times I felt the movie became too cliched, like when he was having a dream about him being in a plane crash.

The film isn’t greatly well acted. I will give Lou Diamond Phillips some props since this is his first movie and he was put in such a huge role. But the real standout in this film is from Esai Morales who plays his half-brother. Esai gives the film its dramatic feel in the movie and I think totally steals the show.

Though his life isn’t as miraculous as Buddy Holly the film still shows an untold story about a legend took away from the world too quick. Its an OK film not a great bio-pic though.

7/10=Rental!!