Friday, November 7, 2014
Netflix This Movie! Vol. 102
Silver Linings Playbook (2012, dir. David O. Russell) Well, it's my favorite movie so how could it not be my Netflix pick for this week? Read more about my thoughts on SLP here.
Stretch (2014, dir. Joe Carnahan) What originally drew me to this movie was Patrick Wilson, who I’m a fan of, and -- to my surprise -- an uncredited Chris Pine. The movie is a straight up comedy in which Wilson plays a down on his luck limo driver who gets caught up with an insane billionaire (Pine). Many of you are probably wondering why you’ve never heard of this movie, and that’s because it was never released by Universal; they wanted nothing to do with it and Chis Pine took his name off the project. So as I’m watching it, I realize why: it’s because this movie is a complete fucking mess. It’s filled to the brim with subplots that don’t go anywhere, it’s got an annoying narration for no particular reason (and in would have been a lot better without it), and has characters in it who are just “out there” for the sake of being “out there” (a cyborg who counts money with his tongue?). So why am I recommending it? The movie works in a few places, first being that I thought the two main characters of Patrick Wilson and Chris Pine were really great. Chis Pine just goes completely bonkers in this movie and it’s always fun to me to see an actor who has done mostly serious roles take it to a place I’ve never seen; he’s really funny in the movie. There are some genuinely funny parts in this movie and some really good scenes buried in the mess (and some great cameos from David Hasselhoff, Ray Liotta, and Norman Reedus). Despite the insanity of the entire movie, I think Joe Carnahan is trying to say something about Hollywood and L.A. in general, mimicking Chris Pine's bonkers performance by turning the city into another over-the-top character in the movie.
Hot Rod (2007, dir. Akiva Schaffer) If you're a long-time listener of F This Movie!, you're probably already familiar with Andy Samberg's first feature-length film, Hot Rod. By no means a perfect movie (it is...uneven), it still delivers some of the funniest moments I've seen in any comedy, including Rod Kimble's (Samberg) extended fall down a mountain. It's also exciting to watch a film with so much energy (some of it misplaced) and ideas (some of them duds), featuring a cast of soon-to-be comedy heavyweights before they really made a name for themselves. So watch it, if only to keep up-to-date with all of our HILARIOUS referential jokes.
Altman (2014, dir. Ron Mann) I have a ton of respect for the work of Robert Altman, but watching this documentary highlights just how much of his output I have yet to experience for myself. The documentary covers his filmmaking career chronologically, which allows the viewer to see the conventions that Altman broke one by one, beginning with his work on television, through the artistic heyday of the 1970s, and into the new millenium. Some of the documentary's revelations seem too good to be true: his wife recalls that the first thing he asked her when they met was "how are your morals?" to which she replied "shaky." Who talks like that, and does that type of thing actually happen in real life? Yet that seems about right for Robert Altman's world. It's also great to see some of Altman's actors (Keith Carradine, Elliot Gould, the late Robin Williams) talking about what "Atlmanesque" means, or meant, to them. I'm a big fan of this documentary and now an even bigger fan of the accomplishments of Robert Altman.
Cyborg (1989, dir. Albert Pyun) Now that #ScaryMovieMonth is over, I can get back to my regular routine of recommending movies that most people think are bad but that I love and want to be reassessed, particularly with the low-stakes risk of Netflix Instant. My pick this week is my beloved Albert Pyun's magnum opus Cyborg, arguably his most mainstream movie (in that it stars Jean-Claude Van Damme) and one of my favorites of his. It's a post-apocalyptic western shot on the quick to make use of the sets prepared for a Masters of the Universe sequel that never happened, but Pyun turned it into something that feels like a sci-fi spaghetti western. He was eventually locked out of the editing room and the film was recut (with additional action scenes shot by someone else) and re-scored with cheap synthesizer music instead of Tony Riparetti's original electric guitar score. Pyun's original cut has been restored and is available as Slinger via his website. I still like the theatrical cut, which remains one of my favorites from both Pyun and Van Damme. The movie was also released by my beloved Cannon Films, making it a Van Damme movie directed by Albert Pyun and put out by Cannon. It's the trifecta of shit I love.