Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Only now does it occur to me... MAGIC

Only now does it occur to me... that the following quote, in toto and free of context, should probably be on an inspirational poster:



"I have lived through Talullah Bankhead and the death of Vaudeville. I don't scare easy." 

Of course it helps that it's being recited by the inimitable Burgess Meredith to a young Anthony Hopkins, who at this moment is clutching a terrifying ventriloquist's dummy. Amen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Only now does it occur to me... GLORY DAZE

Only now does it occur to me...  GLORY DAZE––who knew?  What I assumed was a Ben Affleck comedy in the vein of ENCINO MAN or BIO-DOME ended up being a quite thoughtful piece about the transition from college life to adulthood; it's a little more Baumbach's KICKING AND SCREAMING than ONE CRAZY SUMMER. Even more fascinating, this came from the mind of Rich Wilkes, the writer who most notably gave us AIRHEADS and xXx.


The story of a group of friends at a crossroads (Ben Affleck, Sam Rockwell, French Stewart, Vien Hong, and Vinnie DeRamus), GLORY DAZE may be cursed with an awful title, but it features many genuinely dramatic moments and a pervasive visual metaphor for post-college stasis: that of an errant dart tossed into a wall clock, obstructing the second hand, which ticks away uselessly. It's rather Gen-X and post-REALITY BITES in sensibility, but it always feels active and alive; its message is universal.

I also would go as far as to say that GLORY DAZE is second only to DAZED AND CONFUSED in terms of containing a Ben Affleck performance that does not actively annoy.

And with that haircut and goatee, that's saying a lot.

There are a lot of great bit parts, including Matthew McConaughey as "Rental Truck Guy," a crazed townie who may or may not be "Wooderson" from DAZED AND CONFUSED:

Right on, right on, right on...

Famed raconteur Spalding Gray (!) has a nice, nuanced bit as Affleck's dickish father:

RIP, Spalding––when the man was "on," he was on.

B-movie and Warhol legend Mary Woronov as the mother of Sam Rockwell's girlfriend during an awkward meet-and-greet at a graduation party:

I'm going to assume that her (unseen) husband is played by Paul Bartel.

John Rhys-Davies as a pompous professor (with a great deal of pathos) whose mentorship of French Stewart becomes a sympathetic look at how academia may not be for everyone:

Interesting to see Sallah caught up in the ivory tower––maybe Indiana Jones is rubbing off on him!

"Chenny" herself, Alyssa Milano, as a coed who doesn't really figure into the larger story; I think they just wanted a woman's face on the poster to disguise that this film is a full-on bro-fest (which is its only major weakness):

I could have done with a "Chenny goes to college" subplot where Schwarzenegger plays her overprotective father.

Cameos by Brendan Fraser and Leah Remini as a bus-riding couple who draw the ire of a depressed Ben (Sad)-fleck:

Maybe this movie has a little bit in common with ENCINO MAN.

And, finally, Matt Damon in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance as a dimwitted bro named "Pudwhacker":

Is this the impetus for the mentally disabled Matt Damon joke in TEAM AMERICA?

In the end, I was pleasantly surprised by this one; and in closing I'll recommend two additional "college comedies" that carry more resonance and sincerity than the genre usually affords: Andrew Fleming's THREESOME, which is 90s to the max, but a brilliantly executed character drama; and Richard Linklater's EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!, which was buried earlier this year as a lesser-stoner comedy, but is in fact an extraordinary, meaningful slice of life in the vein of BOYHOOD or DAZED AND CONFUSED.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Only now does it occur to me... THE CROW: WICKED PRAYER

Only now does it occur to me... hot, sweet hell––there exists a movie, cast with "professional" actors, some whom I personally adore, some Oscar-nominated (I'm looking at you, Dennis Hopper), and some who have starred on their own television series. And of them all, the most consistently solid performance might belong to... Tara Reid!

Seen here quoting Shakespeare...


...and making it her own.

She even gets to "Lady M" it for a spell:
 
Out, out damned spot

Holy cow, this thing is a mess. I'm christening it the first "Hot Topic Western." The general pace is like Oliver Stone had a seizure while directing a lesser FROM DUSK TILL DAWN sequel. The mise-en-scéne is like Rob Zombie's Satanic love child with the worst episodes of ANGEL. I swear it has more tangible connections to xXx than THE CROW, and it's supposed to be a sequel to THE CROW.

And that ANGEL reference isn't out of left field: this thing has David Boreanaz in full "Angelus" mode, wearing mesh shirts he must've stolen from Bruce Willis in THE FIFTH ELEMENT.

Like some BUFFY/ANGEL fans, I have a kind of love/hate relationship with David Boring-anz (as I occasionally refer to him). He's serviceable as the stoic, mostly emotionless Angel (and as the puppet version)––but when he goes into "psycho vamp" mode and becomes "Angelus," he's acting beyond the limits of his wheelhouse and can't quite pull it off. But I kind of like that, too, because there's certainly a kitsch value to it.

I like it in a slightly different sense than Tara Reid "likes" his offensive Native American headband, is what I'm saying.

Boreanaz is the film's villain, a.k.a "Luc Crash," a.k.a "Death," a.k.a. "Satan."

Here's the whole macabre outfit. Note: pleather pants and Satanic belt buckle.

Because he yearns to be Satan (and does, indeed, eventually become him), he has a biker gang named after the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse that he exclusively feeds with "Devil"-themed food.


I obviously approve of this, wholeheartedly.

Elsewhere, we have Danny Trejo as a kind-hearted preacherman (this only adds to the lesser-DUSK TILL DAWN sequel vibe):
Danny Trejo––not playing a criminal for once!


Marcus Chong (a.k.a. "Tank" from THE MATRIX) as "War," one of Boreanaz's horse/henchmen,

who, dressed in a red jumpsuit and strapped with dynamite, really reminded me of those annoying, dynamite-slinging enemies from the legendary arcade game FINAL FIGHT:



Dennis Hopper as "El Niño," a Satanic High Priest who calls everybody "homey" for no discernible reason and has Macy Gray as one of his henchwomen:



And finally Edward Furlong as local loser "Jimmy Cuervo" who is transformed by death into the revenge-seeking "The Crow,"

whereupon he wields a baseball bat like a lightsaber
and delivers wicked but unconvincing one-liners such as:

Ohhhhh yeah.

This movie is so perfectly awkward, absurdly incomprehensible, and nigh unwatchable, that we require a bad comedy cliché as our exit strategy. Who will step forward and deliver said cliché?

There we go.  My feelings exactly, Boreanaz!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Sean Gill's "The Heroes of Cherry, Remembered" in REAL: Regarding Arts & Letters

I have a new short story called "The Heroes of Cherry, Remembered," and may be found in the Summer 2016 Issue of REAL: Regarding Arts & Letters (Vol. 39, No. 2), a literary journal published at the Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. The issue can be read online here and is available for purchase in print here.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Updated, Browsable List of All Reviews: June 2016

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BALTIKA EXTRA 9 (2008, Russia)BANANAS (1971, Woody Allen)THE BAND WAGON (1953, Vincente Minnelli)BARB WIRE (1996, David Hogan)
BARFLY (1987, Barbet Schroeder)
BASKET CASE (1982, Frank Henenlotter)
BATTLE IN HEAVEN (2005, Carlos Reygadas)
THE BEACH (2000, Danny Boyle)
BEAT GIRL (1959, Edmond T. Gréville)
BEAT STREET (1984, Stan Lathan)
THE BEGUILED (1971, Don Siegel)
BEST WORST MOVIE (2009, Michael Stephenson)
BETRAYAL (2003, Mark L. Lester) BEVERLY HILLS COP II (1987, Tony Scott) BIG (1988, Penny Marshall)
BIG BLOW (2000, United States)
THE BIG CLEAN (198?, Michael Ironside)
THE BIG EASY (1986, Jim McBride)
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986, John Carpenter)
"BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA" (1986, The Coup de Villes)
BIGGER THAN LIFE (1956, Nicholas Ray)
BILL AND COO (1948, Dean Riesner)
THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (1970, Dario Argento)
BLACK BOOK (2006, Paul Verhoeven)
THE BLACK CAT (2007, Stuart Gordon)
BLACK MOON RISING (1986, Harley Cokliss)
BLACK ROSES (1988, John Fasano) A BLADE IN THE DARK (1983, Lamberto Bava)
BLADE RUNNER (1982, Ridley Scott)BLIND FURY (1989, Philip Noyce)BLINDSIDE (1987, Paul Lynch) BLOOD BATH (1966, Jack Hill & Stephanie Rothman)
THE BLOOD OF HEROES (1989, David Webb Peoples)
BLOODSPORT (1988, Newt Arnold)
BLOODSPORT 2: THE NEXT KUMITE (1996, Alan Mehrez)BLOODSPORT III (1996, Alan Mehrez) BLOODSPORT 4: THE DARK KUMITE (1999, Elvis Restaino)BLUE CHIPS (1994, William Friedkin)
BLUE COLLAR (1978, Paul Schrader)
BLUE DIAMOND BEER (2005, China)
BLUE STEEL (1989, Kathryn Bigelow)
THE BLOB (1988, Chuck Russell)
BLOOD WORK (2002, Clint Eastwood)
BOARDING GATE (2008, Olivier Assayas)
BODY DOUBLE (1984, Brian De Palma)
BODY BAGS (1993, John Carpenter & Tobe Hooper)
BODY OF EVIDENCE (1993, Uli Edel)
BODY PARTS (1991, Eric Red)
BONE TOMAHAWK (2015, S. Craig Zahler) BOOMERANG (1992, Reginald Hudlin) BORDELLO OF BLOOD (1996, Gilbert Adler)
BORDERLINE (1980, Jerrold Freedman)
BOXING HELENA (1993, Jennifer Chambers Lynch)
THE BOY WHO COULD FLY (1986, Nick Castle)
BOYZ N THE HOOD (1991, John Singleton)BRAIN DEAD (1990, Adam Simon)
BRAINSCAN (1994, John Flynn)
BREWSTER'S MILLIONS (1985, Walter Hill)
BRAZIL (1985, Terry Gilliam)
BREAKING GLASS (1980, Brian Gibson)
BROKEN ARROW (1996, John Woo)
BRONCO BILLY (1980, Clint Eastwood)
BRONX WARRIORS (1982, Enzo G. Castellari)
THE BROOD (1979, David Cronenberg)
THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY (1978, Steve Rash)
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (1992, Fran Rubel Kazui)
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: "HALLOWEEN" (1997, Bruce Seth Green)
BUIO OMEGA (1979, Joe D'Amato)
BULLET TO THE HEAD (2013, Walter Hill)
BULLETPROOF (1988, Steve Carver)
BUNNY O'HARE (1971, Gerd Oswald)
THE BURNING (1981, Tony Maylam)
BURNT OFFERINGS (1976, Dan Curtis)
BURYING THE EX (2014, Joe Dante)
BUSINESS IS BUSINESS (1971, Paul Verhoeven) THE BUTLER (2013, Lee Daniels)
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