Saturday, June 14, 2014

Junesploitation Day 14: Cars!

See the greatest cars in the world destroyed!

21 comments:

  1. WIlliam Friedkin's SORCERER (1977) at NYC's Film Forum theater for the first time.

    Hitchcock famously said that his impetus for making "Psycho" was that, if rushed-and-badly-made horror movies could make bank in theaters, a well-made one by a talented filmmaker like him could do considerably better. "Sorcerer" is William Friedkin's "Psycho" except that (a) unlike Hitch's cheap TV crew production it cost a ton of money to make (all of it on-screen though) and didn't make any of it back, plus (b) instead of revolutionizing cinema "Sorcerer" became a footnote in both its director's and 70's cinema history.

    This is a seriously-slick-but-down-and-dirty artistic thriller made from exploitation cinema parts (criminals on the run, questionable morals, the cheapness of life, etc.) about fallen men (including Roy Schreider giving close-to-career-best work) earning a meager day-to-day existence in a nameless third-world country that are given one last shot to escape the hell holes of their own making. "Sorcerer" pushes its characters' physical and psychological well beings to their breaking points (along with the audience's) by sending them on a suicide mission moving unstable explosives across rickety roads and unstable bridges in built-from-parts trucks across dense jungles to help put out an oil fire. That "Sorcerer" is named after one of its trucks ('Lazarus' is the other) tells you how important they are to the plot, not only as the stars of the movie's most jaw-dropping set pieces but as the vessels through which the characters hope to reach a new destiny bad-enough to risk their lives driving them.

    It might be rated 'PG' but make no mistake, this is no watered-down compromised film. If anything Friedkin conveys how cheap life is and how believably dangerous it is to move those explosives that "Sorcerer" works against itself. You'll be in disbelief these nitroglycerin-packing trucks didn't blow ten times over from all the abuse the road and its drivers put on them. Throw in a sparsely-used-but-excellent Tangerine Dreams score, an opening half-hour that feels like four anthology movies (all excellent) filling in character backstories and Friedkin's voice giving this remake of Clouzot's "Wages of Fear" its own identity (on par with Cronenberg's "The Fly" as that rare remake that its better than the still-amazing original) and you've got a bonafide 70's cinema classic. So glad I watched this in a movie theater to add an exclamation point to one of the best times I've had at the movies in 2014.

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    1. This is a terrific movie. A quick warning (which Friedkin himself has made as well) - the new remastered edition out now is only on Blu-Ray. The DVD version is just a copy of the old crappy DVD.

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    2. Excellent review. Glad this movie is finally getting the love it deserves.

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  2. Days of Thunder (1990)

    Quick Thoughts: So it was time for a first viewing of this Tom "am I awesome?" Cruise film and gotta say super weak. The car races aren't filmed very well (to be fair its stock car racing) and Tom Cruise's character is really a dick, he's always kind of like this in all of his 80's to early 90's movies but this is the first time I've really been annoyed about it. The only thing this movie has going for it is a fun score by Hans Zimmer. Overall this movie just keeps going in circles (get it? please shoot me)


    8 Word Review:
    Top Gun's a better wingman movie any day.

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  3. The Fast and the Furious (1955)

    No, not that one. This is a Roger Corman-produced movie – a B-movie with A-list talent in John Ireland and Dorothy Malone. Ireland is a fugitive forced by circumstance to kidnap Malone and her car, the real star of the film – a beautiful Jaguar sportscar. The two argue and (of course) fall in love. Neither Ireland nor Malone is slumming in this one – they give real performances (especially Malone). I found myself getting genuinely invested in what would happen to these crazy kids. The film makes good use of ample racing footage.

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  4. Blood Car (2007) – First Viewing

    Good title and concept, a car that runs on human blood in a world where gas prices are too high for anyone to pay. This feels like a glorified student film and it’s harmless fun until the end, and then there’s some real distasteful stuff that happens. I believe earlier in Junesploitation Adam Riske was turned off by the image of a gun being pointed at a child, let’s just say this movie does the same thing, and then the trigger is pulled, and everything is shown in graphic detail, and it is played for comedy. Not funny or earned and soured me on the previous frivolity of the movie. Except for that moment, this is just an amateurish movie written and starring 20 year-olds with a small bit of humor due to an extremely vulgar female character. Skip it. Watch Hit and Run instead!

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  5. The Driver (1978, dir. Walter Hill) Solid, spare crime movie with Ryan O'Neal as a getaway driver and Bruce Dern as the cop out to get him. Easy to see how much Drive was influenced by the movie, which has some of the feel of early Michael Mann. None of the characters have actual names (so it's kind of like Two Lane Blacktop, too). The movie puts Ryan O'Neal's blank, expressionless face to good use. I miss old Walter Hill.

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    1. I gotta see this, I love Walter Hill!

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  6. D.C. Cab (1983) Directed and co-written by Joel Schumacher who followed up with St. Elmo's Fire and The Lost Boys.

    This is a revisit after having seen it over 25 years ago.

    Surprisingly, this movie actually held up in a way. Maybe because it's so dated and silly and they don't make comedies like this anymore, but I was actually laughing more than I thought I would. I barely remembered anything except for MR. T of course, but Busey has some great moments and the "Where's my Flamethrower?!" part had me cracking up 'cause it's ridiculous. ALL of the jokes are ridiculous but it's endearing because your laughing at it (not necessarily the actual jokes).

    Special appearance by Irene Cara!! That REALLY dated the movie. Anyone seeing this now from the young generation would have no clue as to who that is.

    Fun times!

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    1. Don't forget: also featuring The Barbarian Brothers, in their film debut!

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    2. Holy shit, that didn't even register until now.

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  7. Drive Angry (2011) - in glorious 2D, because I don't live with JB. Yet.

    Yes, it's trying too hard to be a crazy cult movie. That being said, I think it's doing so sincerely, unlike the Syfy Channel movies and their ilk. It's a mess but there's a lot to like, especially William Fichtner's fantastically smarmy performance. Nicolas Cage seems oddly sleepy throughout (he doesn't appear to be having nearly as much fun as he did in Bad Lieutenant, for example) which is an ill fit for a movie about a guy who literally broke out of Hell to save his granddaughter from satanic kidnappers. There's also way too much CGI (there's a cartoony truck-flip straight out of 1997) but even with all the flaws, it's fun and has a lot of Junesploitation spirit.

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  8. INITIAL D (2005)

    This is the live-action adaptation of the long-running anime/manga/video game series. I’m not all that familiar with the franchise, so I’m going into this one blind. It’s a lot more Fast and Furious 1 and less Fast and Furious 5-6. Street racing is these characters’ whole lives, and all anyone talks about is racing, which got dull after a while. Worse, the plot has to do with mastering sharp turns on a specific course, and this one course is the only one used in all the racing scenes. So each action scene is the cars drifting around the same few corners over and over. BO-ring!

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  9. Two Lane Blacktop - Uni Library: First viewing of this classic. So glad I finally got round to watching it (Thank you Junesploitation). The road is the perfect place for soul searching exploration that comes from characters who feel authentic. Yet another one I will re-visit!

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  10. Death Race 2000 (1975)

    Hook, Hook, Hook, Hook.
    (movie starts) Ready, Set, Go! drive, drive, drive, kill, kill, kill, social/political commentary/satire, drive, drive, drive, kill, kill, kill, social/political commentary/satire, repeat (movie ends)

    Good fun. Its what Junesploitation is all about.
    Handgrenadesploitation

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  11. Black Moon Rising (1986) the best trailer ever made / full movie

    Absurd but entertaining heist film with an experimental, jet-powered car at the center. Written by John Carpenter. Tommy Lee Jones and Linda Hamilton are both unattractive enough to somehow be very believable as a romantic pairing, and as dedicated specialists in the field of car theft. Lalo Schifrin's score always goes from synths to saxophones at precisely the right moments. Also featuring the ever reliable Richard Jaeckel, Bubba Smith, Robert Vaughn, and William Sanderson as a mute alcoholic mechanic. A test driver says: "I don't know if I could kill a man for a car." Jaeckel responds: "They did. Remember that."

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    1. As a side note, tonight, at the urging of Chaybee1, I also watched Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen, which is one of the best, most incredible movies ever made. It is not readily available, however, due to copyright issues; see if you can track it down, and then watch it.

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    2. Wow, this takes me back. I watched "Black Moon Rising" on HBO, taped it on VHS and watched it a million times thinking it was the closest I'd ever get to seeing a "Knight Rider" movie. It's been at least 15 years since I watched it last. Nostalgiasplotation! :-)

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    3. Listen to Manwithpetgull - "Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen" is THE movie for people who love movies. It's already in my top ten favorites of all time. It's on YouTube just search "Final Cut Holgyeim es Uraim" - don't know how long it will be there though. Don't know why, but for me, the video jumps forward when opening starting at the 8:30 minute mark so if you watch it, make sure to pull it back to the beginning if you are having that same issue.

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  12. Cars 2 (2011)

    So, right, OK -- not exploitation (obvi), but I saw the first Cars last month and actually liked it way more than I thought I would. So, I decided to watch the sequel for Cars! day. Long story short, a pretty bad movie (which everyone already knows) -- confusing plot, dumbed down jokes, and a story focused mainly on my least favorite character, Tow Mater. Great CGI graphics can't save this messy movie.

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  13. The Car - 1977

    I'm certainly not against the idea of a manical possessed driver (Duel) or driver (Christine).....but this one is an out and out stinker.

    Half way through I wanted the evil evil car to run me over and be done with it.

    No such luck.

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