Friday, November 13, 2015
Netflix This Movie! Vol. 155
Unexpected (2015, dir. Kris Swanberg) I'm usually not down on prego movies but this is a good one. Cobie Smulders (the 21st century's answer to Geena Davis) gives a really nice dramatic performance here and the movie is super watchable and pleasant. It's perfect for a casual watch on Netflix. Check it out.
Rubble Kings (2010, dir. Shan Nicholson) Did you know the movie The Warriors was inspired by actual events? Rubble Kings starts with that and spends the rest of the movie proving its claim through archival footage and interviews. I have to admit, they do make a pretty good case for themselves. Having grown up in the mid '80s and '90s the idea of these small gangs portrayed in The Warriors always looked as fiction because I’m used to the idea of a national gang. However, due to urban decay and changes to the economic structure of the city, New York had groups of smaller gangs through the city during the late '60s and early '70s. John Leguizamo narrates the entire movie that mostly focuses on one of the larger gangs: the Ghetto Brothers. It follows a few of the original Ghetto Brothers though their stories and builds a sense of what it was like to grow up and live during that time. Overall I couldn’t help but think that we are only getting one side of the story and that I’m sure there are a lot of other opinions than the one Rubble Kings is telling us, but I was hooked, and it’s made me look at The Warriors in a different way. I recommend this one either way, but if you’re a fan of The Warriors you should definitely watch it.
Kickboxer (1989, dir. Mark Disalle, David Worth) This week I've been revisiting some of my favorite Jean-Claude Van Damme films (read: they're all my favorite) as well as hunting down rare soundtrack cuts from Stan Bush, king of the action movie motivational rocker. Amazingly, 1989's Kickboxer (aka "Not Bloodsport") features both Van Damme AND Stan Bush, so this wins the week for me. Somehow movies like Kickboxer have gone from being genuinely incredible to being cheesy and lame, then to being ironically cool, and somehow finally back to being genuinely awesome all over again. How's that for a split-kick of wonderful? Also, hats off to Stan Bush for being so fantastic and contributing to the soundtrack of my life. Stan, you're at your best when the goin' get's rough. You've been put to the test, but it's never enough.
A Clockwork Orange (1971, dir. Stanley Kubrick) Sometimes, one gets a hankering to watch a classic. I remember it as if it were just yesterday. My best friend’s father had to book a room at the nearby Arlington Hilton hotel for a shoe convention he was attending. Since his Dad lived so close, he used the room by day, but chose to sleep at home at night. He allowed his son and me to use the room at night, and by “use” I mean stay up all night, watching PPV movies, which were quite a novelty back then, order room service, and generally act like 15 year-old jackasses. This was before VHS. One of the movies we watched was A Clockwork Orange. Up until that time, I had never seen anything so adult, so irreverent, so explicit, and so transgressive. I learned about “ultra-violence” and “the old in/out, in/out.” I was a good Catholic boy and these were very new concepts to me. Later, I read the Anthony Burgess novel, which turned me on to the work of Burgess. Actually, Burgess thought that Kubrick had blunted the point of the book by making protagonist Alex such a likeable character that he root for him. He is certainly the most sympathetic character in a film filled with freaks. At no time did my friend and I trash the hotel room: we were good boys and true.
Last Shift (2015, dir. Anthony DiBlasi) This seemed to get a lot of play during #ScaryMovieMonth, but if you missed it then you can catch up with it for free ("free") on Netflix. It's a small-scale horror film about a rookie cop's first night on the job, assigned to stand watch over a station that begins to experience some weird goings on courtesy of a Manson-like cult leader and his followers who killed themselves inside the station years before. While the too-bright lighting and digital photography do no favors for the film's atmosphere, there's a lot to like for horror fans with the patience to see things through, including a couple of strong moments and some nightmarish imagery. Not a great horror movie, but a pretty good little one.