Predator: State of the Union

  • Posted by
  • on July 2, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

predator

If by some divine chance the gods smiled on you like they smiled on me then you must have, abortion at some point in your life, been a little boy. I’m sure little girls had it made too, but from first-hand experience I can attest that being a little boy was golden-euphoria. And being a little boy that bore witness to 1987’s Predator was as magical as rubbing your eyes till rainbows.

The film was a revelation because it represented everything a little boy might dream adulthood could be. It featured big muscles, giant guns, a scary monster, disgusting wounds and sublimely badass dialogue.

Webster’s definition of tough guy dialogue:  “I ain’t got time to bleed.” – 1987’s Predator

Being a little boy at the time of glory, the film reiterated to me, at an exponential degree, the  same narrative that had been running fevered laps in my brain. That narrative being, simply: humans vs. monsters (aliens fall under monsters, as anything that isn’t US is THEM). And having lived a decade and a half since that first viewing, I can still say with utmost confidence that monsters have never been as cool as the Predator. Laser-sights, gnarly fingers, invisibility-camouflage and a face full of JESUSCHRIST fright. He was the James Dean of monsters.

WHY MONSTERS? Because the banality of it all can be too much unless tempered with giddy-terror. This is why the scene with Billy on the log influenced me more profoundly than the French New Wave.

Adding to the accrued fear, this particular monster hunts us. While monsters are hopefully always  scary, monsters that methodically hunt humans like humans hunt deer (taking spinal chords and skulls as trophies), strikes a wonderfully primal blow to the yellow-belly we all possess. Especially when you are young enough to believe evil floats through every shadow.

predator3

For all the above-mentioned reasons I was Citizen Kane-“Rosebud”-obsessed with Predator and it was the first DVD I ever purchased.

Predator 2, while having it’s share of beauty-madness, didn’t touch the transcendence of the first one. Those in charge believed they were raising the stakes by moving the anti-villain to the big city and having him go head-to-head with Danny Glover. What they failed to realize was that there is nothing as remarkable as Arnold Schwarzenegger and a monster in the middle of the jungle. Sorry. Nothing is as remarkable. Danny Glover is a fine actor, but the sequel was doomed from the get-go. For me it had a crude sensibility and unbalanced focus. That being said, I still enjoyed it. It just didn’t give me the same crippling bouts of pleasure-fear.

The next generation of films were the Alien vs. Predator blah-blahs. They were striving for the admirable goal of creating the apex of badassery with the combination of the two franchises but the result was a relegation of both monsters’ intimidation. It became a tedious chess match between two once-vital threats (with forgettable actors playing the forgettable bystanders). The movies made boatloads of green at the box office but felt like different worlds. Predator just wasn’t James Dean anymore.

So, when a franchise loses relevance Hollywood does what Hollywood does. REBOOT, REMIX. It milks the property dry. This time the film will be called Predators and will be produced by Robert Rodriguez.

The just-named director of the new film will be Nimrod Antal. I can get behind a choice like this. I thought his first effort, Kontroll, was a wily blend of comedy and suspense. And his follow-up Vacancy was a nice little punch to the gut. I’m intrigued to see what he can do with a big-time budget and a producer that thoroughly believes in the sacred go-for-broke aesthetic. The new film is said to take place on the Predator’s home planet which, if done correctly, could remind me what made this beast so close to my heart. Or it could just be overkill on top of overkill.

Regardless, I was still a little boy when I saw the original. So I’ve had my Christmas morning.

J.C. Rises: The Return of John Carpenter

  • Posted by
  • on June 18, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

PREAMBLE: John Carpenter has been so influential to my life and has entertained and engaged me to such a tremendous degree that I’ll attempt to merely relay this bit of news without allowing myself to elaborate my love into a dissertation-sized jerk-off piece.

Another day.

jc

A couple of  “Masters of Horror” episodes not withstanding, viagra 40mg John Carpenter has been A.W.O.L. since 2001’s The Ghosts of Mars. That was his last foray into feature filmmaking and it was not met with kind eyes by the general public or the many pinky-fingers of the critical establishment. I might be one of the few people in the lower 48 to have seen it at least three times.

As a result, endocrinologist most yucksters have not spent eight long years lamenting the lack of fresh Carpenter. I sure have. So, today is a good day.

The casting process has begun on The Ward (or as I’ll call it: John Carpenter’s The Ward). He has been rumored to be at the helm of a dozen or so projects in the past five years but none have got as far as casting, so this announcement actually has an air of legitimacy to it.

The plot follows a young girl who encounters creepy-creepy at a psychiatric ward. Amber Heard (Pineapple Express) will employ the many “say what?” faces the plot will likely necessitate. While the plot synopsis doesn’t sound the most gung-ho original, I do enjoy Carpenter when he touches insanity (see: John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness) and I will gladly plop down a whole paycheck if it means I get more Carpenter widescreen images.

I wonder if he’d find it endearing or alarming if I quit my job, hitch-hiked to the shoot and hobo-begged for a production assistant job.

What Happens When Shady Degenerates Get Their Filthy Hands on Methamphetamine?

  • Posted by
  • on June 12, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

I was tipped of by my coworker Chris of a post over on Our PDX that mentions a new film, somnology produced in Portland, called “Trucker Speed Hooligans.” It’s a fantastic coincidence as we too are located in Portland, and in the film game. But I wouldn’t chock it up to anything more than coincidence, and I’m curious to check it out. The film’s teaser (below) is up on YouTube.

It appears there is some sort of ongoing thing where they destroy a cardboard cutout of Colin Meloy. Can’t say we officially approve of that, but then again we don’t approve of meth either, if that means anything.

7:20 Tomorrow Night, I’m gonna get Hungover.

  • Posted by
  • on June 4, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

First off, prescription let me get this right off my chest, I happen to be slightly bitter that my little brother has gotten to see Away We Go already, no more than two minutes before I opened this site to sit down and write (Unfortunate Rhyme (which will someday be the lead character in a white rap pseudo biopic pot comedy that I have been kicking around in my head) and for that I am sorry), I saw a preview for that movie, and fell in love with it all over again, the preview crushes me, then I see that flat out amazing review, which I skimmed, cause I had some ideas of my own in my head, which at this point and that insanely structered “thesis” statement. Well let me just say, I can’t wait to sit down and fully read his review, almost as much as I can’t wait to rush out and see that movie at the earliest possible convenience (man I had a bastard of a time spelling that for some reason, even with spell checker, I just struggled, I need to sleep).

Right, the main event, we have all been so blessed over the last several years with a staggering array of R-Rated comedies, that have been hit out of the park, over and over again. This week, The Hangover, will make its run at the King of the adult comedy Castle, though, it’s going up against a Juggernaut (spelled that one perfectly first try, go figure): I Love You, Man. If you’ve seen it, you know, if not, go see it, then you’ll know, yes, it’s THAT good. 

Now, I thought of myself as someone who would have celebrated Todd Phillips’s entire career, turns out not so much, I’ve actually seen less than half of his movies, but I’m a fan of his work, that I’ve seen, Road Trip has it’s moments, but I remember the experience of going to see it the day it came out, I was was 20, it packed theater on a Friday night, with a good group of friends, us having poured vodka into one liters to sneak into the show. Starsky and Hutch, wasn’t a disaster, but it wasn’t Broken Lizard Dukes level of entertainment. Old school, was his crowning achievement to date as far as I’m concerned, that movie still makes me laugh out loud on a regular basis, where as Road Trip registers an occasional bourgeois-ish chuckle, like pfft, my taste is so much more refined than that, when in reality, Im sitting here enjoying the shit out of The Heartbreak Kid for like the third time, so I really have no rights, my taste is so all over the the maps, that Al Gore has to use a pneumatic platform to illustrate how odd they really are. Interesting piece of cinema history/trivia for you all, Old School was one of two movies, that have both Will Ferrel, and James ‘The Ragin’ Cajun’ Carville in it. True Story.  » Read Full Story

Away We Go: Earned Emotion

  • Posted by
  • on June 4, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

Sam Mendes’ new film is billed as a comedy but it plumbs the depths of melancholy as much as it pursues the funny bone.  The presence of melancholy shouldn’t be a surprise as he’s built his career around the emotion (American Beauty, sale Road to Perdition, recipe Jarhead, Revolutionary Road). The surprising part is that he’s making a comedy of any kind.

Summary taste: John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph are having a baby and they decide to fist-fight flux by searching for the right city to raise the child. The journey is composed of chuckles, cringes, belly laughs and, at least in my audience, sniffles.

The streetfight between somber and plucky could place a wet blanket directly on top of the demographic that seeks the sort of plucky that is only accompanied by superficial emotional turmoil.  The scathing, close-to-bone,  tone Away We Go adopts to deliver its portion of sadness offers a valuable juxtaposition to the moments of beauty and hope it also offers.

A question: does the fuzzy, singer-songwriter, veneer offered by the trailer accurately represent the film or does it just attempt to cling to a vibe that is readily-identifiable as hip?

The danger that comes with the commodification of “indie” films is that the independent spirit is often lost in the factory mechanisms of studio filmmaking. As a result you end up with something resembling a product, not a film.  This conveyor-belt process is summarized below:

PARTICULAR FRINGE ART FORMS → PARTICULAR FRINGE ART GAINS STEAM → STUDIOS RECOGNIZE AND EMBRACE THE FRINGE → FRINGE IS NO LONGER FRINGE → NEW FRINGE ART FORMS TO REPLACE FALLEN BROTHER

And then the snake eats its own tail for the next couple hundred years.

What should be taken into account when dealing with a film that first-urge wants to dismiss based on the above-mentioned circle of pain and hellfire, is that the quality of the film still is still relevant.  To disregard a work based on its often-unavoidable partnership with the hype-machine and marketing gurus is an insult to a process which, despite thousands of variables, still holds the potential to produce something fantastic.

So, at first glance, the gut might suggest to the brain that Away We Go falls ever-to-conveniently into the post Garden State wave of woe-is-me-set-to-kickass-music films. The difference between this film and many of the other lost-in-my-generation types that have come out in the past five or so years is that this emotion feels earned.

The episodic manner in which the narrative unfolds offers perspective, both good and bad, for the many different ways a family can operate. It doesn’t offer a clear-cut “this is the way it’s done” but the problem with a number of films like this is that they attempt to offer cure-alls to problems that are more complicated than can be adequately addressed with 90-120 minutes of film. Away We Go comes to terms with this and offers these varying perspectives as productive alternatives. Snippet here, snippet there. If this works, take it. If it doesn’t, leave it.

It was a crafty move by screenwriters Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida to offer a narrative that, while always moving along, rarely treads into obvious emotional growth by the leads. Almost as though the main characters merely serve the function of the control while the people they meet are the variables. To further accentuate this dynamic Mendes cast two non-leads. John Krasinski might be the anchor of a television program but he is an unproven talent in feature filmmaking. Likewise, Maya Rudolph can pull off the subtlety of everyday-woman because she is not commonplace on marquees and I haven’t had the privilege of being assaulted by her face in the tabloids.

That is not meant to be a slam on either of their abilities, in fact they had a very believable routine-like chemistry which I didn’t expect to be so impressed by. My mentioning their relative lack of exposure was meant to be a compliment on Mendes’ savvy understanding of audience’s expectations. Alexander Payne, one of the baddasses on cinema’s corner block, pulled off a similar feat when casting Sideways. George Clooney wanted desperately to be cast in the second banana ex-TV-actor role. But writer/director Payne wouldn’t agree. Despite the healthy box-office boost Clooney’s name would have garnered the film Payne understood that the distracting elements of SUPER MOVIE STAR Clooney in the role of a failed actor wouldn’t be worth the box office boost and would have likely come off as more gimicky and less believable than Thomas Haden Church’s performance.

You might not find an answer to your unidentifiable worry by watching Krasinski and Rudolph navigate a particular path of adulthood, but you might exit the theater with means to appreciate a side of things that was previously obscured by the fuzziness that comes with close-proximity.

Verdict: he likes it!

The fantastic supporting cast should be noted, as they carry much of the weight: Catherine O’Hara, Jeff Daniels, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Josh Hamilton, Jim Gaffigan and Allison Janney.

Opens in NY and LA on June 5th.

Herzog Unlocks Cage: Crack Pipes at the Ready

  • Posted by
  • on May 28, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

I always have trouble sitting idly by as the masses ridicule Nicolas Cage. I think it’s the consistency at which he headlines the most godawful shit to hit the multiplexes that really gets people’s collective goat. If he made one clunker every couple years it would be harder to maintain such an active level of hatred for the man. But, this web unfortunately for him, he is a prolific garbage man.

All the same, when people go to town on the fella it still rings foul. He’s the same man who gave me Raising Arizona, Adaptation, Wild at Heart, Bringing out the Dead, Con Air and The Rock (irony is not being employed in the last two selections, just tender love for an oft-maligned genre).

A friend and I started assembling a theory a year or so back. It basically detailed Nicolas Cage as a man with a truly manic energy that, if channeled correctly, can be Nirvana at 24 frames-per-second. If you give the wrong director or project this energy then a void the color of every child’s nightmare opens up and the spirit of a theater full of people can be sucked to nothing and replaced with venom before the director’s credit appears on the screen.

So, when I heard Werner Herzog was directing Cage in a remake-but-not-remake-more-like-reboot-that-borrows-the-bad-lieutenant-brand-if-you-could-actually-say-bad-lieutenant-of-all-films-has-a-marketable-brand I was giddy. I had just forged deep into Herzog’s filmography in the past year and it became apparent that Herzog was THE master of harnessing madness.

After watching the just-released trailer it suggests, if nothing else, both men went bug-fuck crazy together and that sort of fraternal insanity is a guaranteed wallet-emptier for me.  Enjoy the trailer and wait till the appropriate moment to bust out your lucky crack pipe.

ICING ON CAKE TERRITORY: Val Kilmer, a man who deserves a similar-in-praise column, is also holding fort in this redemptive clusterfuck.

Terminator Salvation: A Cinematic Milestone

  • Posted by
  • on May 25, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

In my decades of cinematic adventures, practitioner on countless occasions, I’ve checked show times, and decided upon seeing a flick, and I hoped in the ride, and head down, watched said flick, and went on l-i-v-i-n. Today, I decided to see the new Terminator movie, on a whim, and like I had done countless times, hoped in the car, and head out for the local cinemaplex. Something happened with this movie, that has never happened in all my years of filmgoing. I couldn’t bring myself to see it, I turned around, came home, and logged into the internets. Not quite sure why I couldn’t see it, maybe it was the unimpressive previews, maybe it was the PG-13 rating. Maybe it was the fact that I literally just don’t care if I see it, and so a memorial day weekend shall pass with out me in a theater, which Im sure has happened before, but I can never remember turning around, after I had made my mind to see a movie. Peace Folks, enjoy your day.

It Was a Rendezvous: A High Speed Tour of Paris, 1976

  • Posted by
  • on May 12, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

I was turned onto this by my boss, sick a 1976 short filmed titled “C’était un rendez-vous” or “It was a Rendevous”- which follows a car driving at ridiculous speeds through the streets of Paris at 5:30 in the morning. It features a continuous, drugstore 9-minute shot from a gyro-stablized bumper-mount.

The director, Claude Lelouch was already an established French filmmaker, supposedly having made good on the film “Un Homme et une Femme,” allowing him to purchase a Ferrari 275 GTB which was rumored to have been used in “Rendezvous.”

Looking back, it is believed that it was not in fact a Ferrari but a Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 – and that Ferrari sounds were later dubbed in to make it sound more ferocious. Also, contrary to Lelouch’s earlier claims, it was not a contracted Formula 1 driver in the cockpit, but the filmmaker himself. According to Wikipedia, calculations suggest that the car reached speeds up to 220 km/h (136.7 mph).

After decades of being passed around in low quality dubs by film buffs and speed freaks, the DVD is currently available online, from a website that looks like the VHS equivelent of the internet. I suppose if you need the clarity, there it is, otherwise, it’s on YouTube.

My summer at the Cinema: Predisposition

  • Posted by
  • on May 7, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

So here’s the thing, cialis sale last weekend, two movies came out, pretty darned close on my estimate for X-men, though I was totally wrong on Ghost’s. I noticed something, having seen both of them last weekend, going into it, I thought I would probably like X-men, didn’t think it would be anything special though. I was right. Thought I would dig Ghost’s of Girlfriends Past, and I did. I’m not sure I know how to go to the movies and be taken back anymore, though I did think Observe and Report was a trainwreck, and for the most part not funny at all, didn’t see that one coming at all.

So this weekend. Star Trek is coming out, and I genuinely couldn’t care any less about this. Let’s see, from the creators of lost ? No thank you. Hmmm from the director of Mission Unwatchable 3. No thank you. From the producer of cloverfield ? What do I look like an idiot ? This movie can’t be good, and I will step on any trekkies toes who wants to rumble over it. What a mess. That being said. Its probably gonna be another 80 million dollar weekend starring Star Trek.

So Im sure Im not gonna like that one, and have nothing more to say on the matter, I do however wanna make sure to give credit where credit is due, and do my due diligence as a film goer to make sure everyone out there has seen, and fallen in love with, the preview for “Funny People” the new comedy epic from Judd Apatow, its about trying to live life to the fullest (Which is of course hard), and the “one that got away” (which is of course even harder), so press play, lean back, and dive into a comedic pool of bliss.

July 31st baby, Ill be there, then probably again on August 4th or so, just for ya know, the giggles.