Friday, March 24, 2023

Notes on Film: Too Tired to be Annoyed

 by Anthony King

From giant wieners to Gerry Butts.

In the past three days I've gotten a total of eight hours of sleep. I'm exhausted. I'm extra dysfunctional. I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore! So that means you don't have to read any of my stream of consciousness, delusional rambling this week. I’m so tired I’m having a hard time caring about anything but watching movies. Instead, here's what I've been watching.
After my journey through the Lone Wolf and Cub series last month I'd been craving the same type of Japanese cinema. Luckily, HBO Max has a few different options. I decided to start with Hanzo the Razor and the first film in the trilogy, Sword of Justice (1972). Directed by Kenji Misumi – the same man that brought us LW&C – this is a movie all about dick. No, seriously. Shintaro Katsu plays the titular Hanzo, a no-holds-barred type of cop during the Edo period in Japan who doesn't believe in bending any rules. In fact, Hanzo believes in self-flagellation, telling his superior officer that he needs to intimately know what torture tactics work best for interrogating suspects. Along with that, he also abuses his penis, which by all accounts is quite substantial. In Sword of Justice, Hanzo suspects his superior's mistress knows the whereabouts of a known criminal, so he employs his massive member to do the work for him. Dave Eves's review on Letterboxd says it all: “What. The. Fuck.” The movie is very good. It's very weird, and having gone in completely blind, I was taken aback at first by the prickish plot. But it's well worth the 90 minutes, and it wasn't until this very minute that I realized the double entendre of the film's title. While I haven't seen Jamaa Fanaka's Welcome Home Brother Charles (1975), I know what it's about and feel it would make a perfect giant, weird penis double feature with Sword of Justice. Next week I hope to report back with the second Hanzo film, The Snare (1973).
After Elric mentioned John Schlesinger's The Believers on a recent episode of Pure Cinema Podcast, I decided I finally needed to watch it. After all, it's an '80s cop movie, and could be considered a horror movie to boot! Martin Sheen plays police psychologist Cal Jamison who recently lost his wife (in a deeply upsetting scene at the beginning of the movie where she is electrocuted). Relocating to New York City with his son, Cal gets involved in a series of grisly deaths while also beginning to notice odd behaviors from his housekeeper. The Believers is dark and takes some unexpected turns throughout while also giving us a solid Martin Sheen performance. Schlesinger is an interesting director with an even more interesting filmography. In the '60s, Schlesinger gave us a couple Julie Christie vehicles, Darling (1965) and Far From the Madding Crowd (1967), and the seminal dirty old New York movie, Midnight Cowboy (1969). The '70s brought his societal commentary films, The Day of the Locust (1975) and Marathon Man (1976). Schlesinger delivered crime thrillers in the '80s, The Falcon and the Snowman (1985) and The Believers. And in the '90s we got a couple domestic thrillers in Pacific Heights (1990) and Eye for an Eye (1996).
From one '80s cop movie via a journeyman director to another. Mark L. Lester's filmography is as eclectic as Schlesinger's yet subjectively filled with more hits. In the '70s, Lester gave us Truck Stop Women (1974), Bobbie Jo & the Outlaw (1976), Stunts (1977), and Roller Boogie (1979). In the '80s, we got Class of 1984 (1982), Firestarter (1984), and Commando (1985). The '90s delivered Class of 1999 (1990), Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991), and Extreme Justice (1993). And then it really takes a dive into DTV movies. The '80s also gave us his 1986 comedy Armed and Dangerous (1986) starring John Candy, Eugene Levy, Robert Loggia, and Meg Ryan. I couldn't remember if I'd seen this or not, but the opening scene of Candy getting stuck in a tree trying to rescue a cat sent me back to my childhood sitting on my friend Matt's couch watching this on a recorded-from-HBO VHS that shared the same tape as Summer Rental (1985) and The Great Outdoors (1988). A&D follows in the path of Stripes (1981) and Spies Like Us (1985) where two mismatched people are partnered together to fight evil. From a cast full of the ultimate '80s baddies including Brion James, Jonathan Banks, and Tiny Lister Jr. to the SCTV comedy feel from Second City vets Candy, Levy, and Larry Hankin, this movie is like a giant bear hug.
My new release viewings have waned a little in the month of March, but I finally caught up with Jean-Francois Richet's Plane (2023) starring Gerard Butler and Mike Colter. With expectations fairly low, I was taken on a thrilling journey first in the friendly skies, and then through the law-free jungles of the Philippines. Butler is a commercial airline pilot who is flying a sparse crowd of passengers on New Year's Eve. Included among the passengers is a convicted murderer (Colter) being extradited to America. Their plane is struck by lightning mid-flight and Butler and his co-pilot make an emergency landing in a heavily wooded area on a Southeast Asian island. The island is an uncivilized area where guerrilla terrorists reside. Back home, the airline is doing what they can to locate the plane (including sending in mercenaries to rescue the passengers). Bullets fly, vehicles explode, people die, and Gerry Butts kicks ass yet again, including punching a guy with his 747. This movie was made for one purpose and that was to entertain. Mission accomplished.


  1. Thanks for another fun write-up. My go-to genre in recent years have been crime/cop (+ buddy-cop) movies but I haven't see the Believers. Your recommend alongside the PCM lads mentioning it mean I'll have to check it out. Will also check out Armed and Dangerous and some of the others you've mentioned.

    In return, and bearing in mind you may have seen many of these, I can recommend the following (I'm trying to avoid highly-known flicks): Sitting Target (British crime), Confessions of a Police Captain (Italian cop/crime), The Gauntlet (Eastwood crime/cop film), Fear over the City (Belmondo-French crime/cop), Freebie and the Bean (a gem of an over-looked buddy-cop film), The Detective (late-era Sinatra joint), Police Python 357 (more French crime-cop) Au Poste (absurd Dupieux cop film).

    I hope you manage to get some sleep and it isn't the dreaded insomnia!(of which I have much experience myself)

    1. Thanks Reuben! I finally got some sleep last night and I’m feeling great today. And thank you so much for all recs! I’ll definitely check out the ones I haven’t seen.