Tetro

Today’s film review is in pirate speak, for no particular reason. Aye.

’tis a 2009 film starrin’ Vincent Gallo, ‘n directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

’twas filmed in Argentina ‘n be a U.S./Argentina/Spain co-production wit’ a cast o’ mostly Argentinian actors, along wit’ Vincent ‘n Alden Ehrenreich, who I could nah place ’til th’ end credits. Both o’ them, along wit’ th’ rest o’ th’ cast were mighty good.

Th’ cinematography too was excellent, mostly filmed in glorious black ‘n white. Th’ scenes taken in th’ Patagonia mountains were beautiful. ‘n th’ tale itself was reasonably simple, but multi-layered, ‘n told th’ tale o’ a difficult family relationship well. Thar was a good endin’ too, quite unexpected, although unlike many films o’ th’ ilk it went fer th’ safe endin’.

Alden Ehrenreich were bein’ great in his role, this bein’ his first film aft bein’ discovered by Steven Spielberg. While watchin’ this ’twas hard nah t’ reckon ye were watchin’ a young Leonardo Decaprio, he looks kind o’ like ‘im ‘n had a similar actin’ style.

A mighty good, but nah great film I would say. I would recommend watchin’ this wit’ a good white wine, ‘n a nice selection o’ cheese.

Lookin’ at Vincent’s website I see that ye can buy some rather pricey booty.

Translation by Pirate Monkeyness.

Date watched: August 4th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 52

American Made

I will pretty much watch anything with the Cruiser, the guy knows how to make himself look good on film, and the stories he tells are good with a large Coke and plenty of potato chips.

This is very loosely based on the true story of Barry Seal, a pilot who got himself involved in smuggling all kinds of stuff for Central and South American drug lords and dictators.

What the film spends most of the time on is convincing us that being a crafty pilot smuggler is damn cool because you can buy anything you want, people will love you, and the law cannot touch you. And to top it off the CIA is helping you do all of this, so it’s all good, no need to feel guilty about any of it. Not only that, but the government right up to Olly North, and even Ronno Reagan himself, were ordering the CIA what to do in their campaign to rid South America of dirty commies. They didn’t come off looking so good.

In the story, as in real life, Barry was assassinated, while the CIA, Olly, and Ronno all got off scot-free, and went on to dream up the Iran-Contra affair (which didn’t work either).

So, what I have read about the real goings-on, and what this film portrayed, showed that Tom made Barry look too good (Barry was a large fellow too). He was not some outlaw hero who stuck it to the man, he was just a greedy criminal with a licence to ill, although he was quite brave to do some of the things he did.

The real Barry was at one point one of the richest men in America with over $60 million big ones, although Tom himself is worth $550 million in today’s money (which back in the eighties was over $200 million). Tommo is 15th on the list of rich celebs, with Stevo Spielberg at number one, worth $3.7 billion.

As a film it was pure entertainment. It was well made with some good action sequences here and there, some funny bits, and of course the Cruiser being his usual charming self. There were a few ficticious scenes added in for extra laughs or gasps, such as Bazza landing a plane on a suburban street, getting out of the plane covered in cocaine, then handing a kid huge amounts of cash to a kid for the damage caused to his house, then another bundle of cash for his bike, which he then speeds away on.

We did not at any point in the film get to see Tom running…disappointing, but the bike scene was close enough.

Another purely entertaining Tom Cruise film, not quite up there with Mission Impossible, but still well worth a watch.

And here is Tom running…

Date watched: August 2nd
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 50

The Brasher Doubloon

This is a 1947 crime film and is based on a Raymond Chandler story called “The High Window” (also the film’s title on release in the U.K.).

It is a B-grade film starring George Montgomery, who had a reasonable career, but worked mostly in low budget films. He was though an excellent wood craftsman and opened his own successful furniture business, so that is nice. He retired from acting in 1972.

At first the film felt rather B-grade, and George was definitely not A-grade leading-man material. But, I quickly warmed to both the B-gradiness as well as George’s take on Philip Marlowe, which The Bogart would of course have done better. But George did all right. It was light-hearted for most of the film with little violence although there was some black and white blood in one scene, a thug with a funny eye, and a good amount of sleuthing,.

“You laughing at my hat, bud?”

The cinematography was pretty decent, and the all-important crime-noir lighting was also worthy. For a B-grade film is was really well-done.

The Brasher Doubloon if you are wondering was a rare and expensive coin that the story revolves around. There is also blackmail, a gangster, a damsel, a crotchety old lady, three dead bodies, and plenty of other characters and plot twists in the story to keep you on your toes. I really must read a Raymond Chandler book sometime.

George and the damsel.

Favourite line:
Mrs. Elizabeth Murdock: There you are and I hope you’re worth it. To tell you the truth, I was expecting an older man – more intelligent looking.
Philip Marlowe: I’m wearing a disguise.

An enjoyable 72 minutes. You can watch it here.

Date watched: July 13th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 40

Edgeplay: A Film About the Runaways

I was just expecting this to be a run-of-the-mill rock documentary about all things rock and roll, but it turned out to be quite a bit more…mostly tragic rock ‘n’ roll.

The Runaways were an all-female band formed in 1975 by drummer Sandy West (16 years old) and guitarist Joan Jett (17 years old), and they were then produced by a Malcolm McLaren-type character by the name of Kim Fowley (a much worse character than McLaren). From there three more girls joined the band including bassist Jackie Fox (14 years old), Lita Ford and Cherie Currie (both 17). So, they were all young, but reasonably proficient musicians.

The film was directed by Vicky Blue who replaced Jackie Fox after she quit, but lasted less than two years. She did a reasonably good job at directing, which was rough and ready, much like the band itself. Unfortunately though she chose to have music playing constantly throughout the whole film, basically with music in the left channel, and the interview audio in the right channel which got very annoying quickly.

The interviews with the band members were raw and delved deep into their past, with occasional breakdowns on camera as the members remembered some of the things that happened…or in Lita Fords case lots of cussin’ and bad attitude. The young bassist in particular survived some terrible things. In the years after the Runaways broke up the drummer had a very hard life and died in 2006 from cancer.

There were also interviews with Tim Fowley. This excerpt from Wikipedia gives you an idea of what he was like…

Kim Fowley, the band’s original manager, originally asked for $10,000 appearance fee in order to appear in the film, but eventually agreed to appear for free if he could sing his answers to questions, with a guitarist accompanying him. Vicki Blue agreed and this is how his appearance was originally shot. However, he then informed her that each of his answers was a song that would require a separate license. Fowley was shooting a segment for VH1 at about that time, so Blue sent her questions to the VH1 folks, who agreed to let her use their footage.

Yep, he was quite a manipulator, nutjob, and overall scumbag it appears. Lita Ford wanted to see him dead, which he did in 2015 from cancer, six years after this documentary was made.

It is a pity Joan Jett wanted no part in this, but she had her reasons. From Wikipedia:

“To me, the Runaways is my baby, so you have to understand my perspective. If there’s gonna be a Runaways movie, it should be about what we accomplished, the tours we did, the bands we played with, the people we inspired. I’m not gonna participate in a Jerry Springer fest, bottom line. With any band, you’re gonna have interpersonal conflicts, but if that’s what they thought the Runaways were about—about breaking a bass or putting on make-up—well, it’s very disappointing. Very, very disappointing. I wanted nothing to do with it because that’s not the band I was in. [The film] was a totally different take on what went down.”

I can’t really say I got into their music, which was pretty standard stuff. But they were reasonably big in the day (not superstars though), and were definitely big in Japan.

So it was a story of success completely over-shadowed by rock ‘n’ roll excess, abuse, and manipulation.

A biographical drama film was released in 2010 based on the Runaways story, and starred Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart. I will have to look out for that.

Date watched: May 13th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 34

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Looking through my DVDs I came across this and thought I would watch it again on a cold Sunday afternoon.

The first few minutes of the film was confusing. It basically whisked the main characters off to Africa from New York using a quick montage and narration. I actually thought at first that the DVD was scratched and the player skipped ahead a few minutes. But, after that the story got under way and things started making sense.

It was pretty much more of the same, with the usual witty jokes, some of which kids would not get at all. The plot was standard stuff, nothing original at all, these types of films rarely are, but it matters not as I am just here for the jokes.

The voice cast were all perfect, I thought they were all brilliant. Bernie Mac died the same year the film was released.

I have not seen Penguins of Madagascar yet, so I will check that out sometime.

Date watched: February 25th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 20

The Cable Guy

I was reminded of this film recently in a podcast I listen to called Movie Crush. I have seen this at least once before, but had forgotten a lot of it, so I went to a DVD rental place last night to get it out, along with some newer films.

This film came out in 1996, at a time when Jim was pretty much at the top of his nutty game. He received $20 million big ones to star in this, a new record at the time. A year earlier he was paid $10 million for Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. Ben Stiller directed.

Compared to his earlier films, this one was a lot darker and at times pretty weird, probably too much so for some audiences. Rotten Tomatoes gives this a 53% rating which I think is a bit low as I enjoyed the mix of comedy with a stalker plot line.

Jim Carrey (Chris Farley was considered for the role) was what made the whole film work. There were some scenes which were obviously created by Jim, such as the nipple scene in the prison (which Carrey based on a scene in Midnight Cowboy).

Looking through Jimbo’s filmography I see that this is the last film he made before his films started to become a bit more sugar-coated. The next film he made was Liar Liar, and after that The Truman Show, both very different and not quite as good as far as I am concerned. But, has has made some memorable films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and I Love You Phillip Morris (I must watch that again too).

Bob Odenkirk had a small role with one line…

This is not the best film Jim has ever made, but I thought it was still a pretty good laugh.

Date watched: February 24th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 19

Colors

I remember this coming out, way back in 1988, and the thing I remember the most about it was the title song by Ice-T, a catchy song.

Back in the day this was a controversial film because of the subject matter. It is of course about gang violence and the cops trying to stop it. These days it seems quite tame as there are no extreme violence scenes where peoples heads are exploded by gunshots, or innocent bystanders are wasted by a psycho-drugged-up Crip or Blood gang member. It was more about the story back then, and great acting.

And the acting is probably the best thing about this film, both Robert Duvall and Sean Penn are both great. The supporting cast including Don Cheadle, María Conchita Alonso, and a one-scene one-line appearance by Jack Nance, are good but not as great (except Nance of course).

The producer hired actual gang members during filming to act as guardians, and two were apparently shot.

Dennis Hopper directed, his first film as director since Easy Rider. He shot many scenes in actual Blood or Crip areas using either Bloods or Crips as extras depending on where he was filming.

Sean Penn got a bit miffed at an extra taking photos of him without permission and gave him a good punching…33 days in prison for him.


The guy on the right in this image amused me. Not only did he look out of place in a Chicano gang, but he also basically took on this pose in almost every scene. A later scene kind of explained later on why he looked like this (he was drugged out of his mind), but it was weird nonetheless.

This is described as a “police procedural” on Wikipedia which it is I suppose, but not as procedural as those of the 1950’s. The story was pretty standard stuff actually. It followed Duvall and Penn who grudgingly become buddies, and together they set about finding out who blew a gang member away in a drive-by shooting (Don Cheadle did it!). It had all of the usual police, gang, love-interest, and car-chase tropes we expect from a police/gang story. But, I guess it portrayed the gang culture of the time well, but I wouldn’t really know.

I would not say this is an essential watch, not these days anyway, and if it wasn’t for Duvall’s and Penn’s acting skills, and Ice-T ‘s nice song, it would not rate as well.

Date watched: February 3rd
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 9