Sunday, July 31, 2011

365 Movies Day #125 "Modern Warfare: Frozen Crossing"

Our third installment of badass action filmmakers from the web covers Sam Gorski and Niko Pueringer, two filmmakers from Wisconsin who made an epic telling of the Modern Warfare video game beginning with "Frozen Crossing". The series is actually in three parts. The action and effects are amazing and the first one featured above cost them about $200, with the sequel digging a bit deeper into the checkbook...for $600. This is a true lesson on how to get yourself noticed as a filmmaker for very little money.

These guys are a class act and I wish them the best with their future projects!!!

Here's a making of video to show how they pulled it off:



Saturday, July 30, 2011

365 Movies Day #124 "Chrono Trigger: Short Action Sequence"

This was the video that introduced me to one of the coolest cats on the web, Freddie Wong. Known on youtube as freddiew, he is the king of really funny and totally badass action sequences. Not only that, but it's of an incredibly high quality. The effects and tactics both look to cost millions. He's a wizard as a filmmaker and storyteller.

He's also attracted some attention with Sparticus's Andy Whitfield helping him in his take on arcade classic "TIME CRISIS", or comic Kevin Pollak hypnotizing one of his friends and dueling impressions HERE. Most recently, he did his own take on "COWBOYS AND ALIENS" featuring the actual director Jon Favreau IN the video. Not bad for a 25-year-old Guitar Hero champion from Seattle!


Friday, July 29, 2011

365 Movies Day #123 "Cardboard Warfare"

For the next couple of days, I plan to introduce you to some very cool youtube action gurus. Three filmmakers that just knock it out of the park and deserve big exposure. Clinton Jones, aka pwnisher, put this together and with some innovative crafting of cardboard guns, some buddies, film equipment and the know-how to work with digital effects and muzzle flashes, made an incredibly entertaining short. It's made him an internet sensation!

Make sure you check out his youtube channel for more hits like his tribute to Killzone, made for only $2,500! It's unbelievable!

Hats off to Clinton. I hope to work with him someday!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

365 Movies Day #122 "Trinity is Still My Name"

Enzo Barboni, Terence Hill and Bud Spencer are at it again in this even funnier sequel to "MY NAME IS TRINITY". Like the original, most of the humor is funny because of the nature of the characters rather than total absurd slapstick, but it's borderline. If you've paid attention to my previous posts you'll know that I find it hilarious when a grown man slaps another man. In one scene in this film, Hill slaps a guy at least 20 times. I nearly died laughing.

From watching Trinity and Bambino eating dinner with their equally crazy parents, to seeing them play the part of reluctantly benevolent outlaws, to watching Trinity thwart all of Bambino's plans to do bad, this film is a joy ride. Like I said, I really think "Three Amigos" and "Blazing Saddles" borrowed from Barboni's concept, though both films were more clearly comedy.

Also, pay attention that in both films, Bambino hits EVERYONE on the top of the head. He's a beast. Also, the bandit's father is played by Harry Carey Jr., a wonderful character actor who worked with John Ford back in the day on "The Searchers" and "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" as well as "Gremlins", "Tombstone", "Exorcist III" and "Back to the Future III". He's been working since 1946! Their mother, played by Jessica Dublin, is a veteran of the "Toxic Avenger" franchise.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

365 Movies Day #121 "Harsh Times"

I bought a copy of this film from the bazaar while in Afghanistan. It was a bootleg and the quality was crappy so I never got to watch it. Then, while working on "Humans Vs. Zombies" and talking with our stunt coordinator and all-around cool cat Nick Plantico, he talked about his experience working with Bale on the film. Nick had been a stunt man on "Harsh Times". I finally broke down and watched it recently. Wow. Another example of Bale at his finest and in a VERY dark role.

Bale plays street tough turned Army Ranger, Luther Davis. Reminiscent of a more recent film, "Hurt Locker", Luther is hooked on the high of living on the edge, but unlike Renner's character in "Hurt Locker", Davis has been sent home and he's having trouble coping. Back in his old neighborhood in L.A., Luther turns to his old friend for support, Mike, played by Freddy Rodriguez ("Planet Terror", "Ugly Betty"). What happens is a decent into Davis's dark side that could pull Mike down with him.

One of my favorite film quotes comes from this one where Davis calls himself a "Soldier of the Apocalypse". Check out the brief clip here:

A great supporting cast features Eva Longoria ("Desperate Housewives"), J.K. Simmons ("FIRST SNOW" and tons of other great films), Terry Crews ("The Expendables") and Emilio Rivera ("Sons of Anarchy"). Oh, and on a funny note, yesterday (actually just an hour or so ago) I told you about how the director of "Equilibrium" wrote "Street Kings". Well, David Ayer, director of "Harsh Times" went on to direct "Street Kings". Small world.

If you want to see Bale in his darkest role, check out "Harsh Times" ASAP!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"The Prodigy" Winners!!!

Hey kids, took me a bit to get this done, but I have everything ready. Here's the system I used. As per the announced rules, I took an excel spreadsheet and put a name down for every comment made ON THE BLOG (not on facebook or twitter) and put a name down 5 times for every follower. Some people had a bunch of entries. Then I went to and used their randomizer to generate a list of names (including all the multiples). Then I used a random number generator from the same site, to determine the winners. They are as follows:

1.) Sam Janney
2.) Heath DeForrest Allison
3.) David Thomas
4.) Michael Plumides
5.) Tina Lewis

All I need now is where to send your free DVD and postcards to and they'll be in the mail by week's end! Congrats and keep an eye out for more giveaways soon!!!

365 Movies Day #120 "Equilibrium"

So the year is 2002 and I'm wandering through a Blockbuster video. Back in my day, they had those. I see this DVD (we at least had those) with a bold statement on the cover standing alone on the shelf. "Better than 'The Matrix'". What? Now this is before the sequels to the film which used up quite a bit of it's cool with it's take on the old philosophical quandry of "Brain in a Vat". Personally, I liked both follow-ups, but they were nowhere near as compelling as the first. But I digress. I accepted the film's challenge.

Oddly, I only really knew of two actors in the film. I liked Sean Bean from his work on "Lord of the Rings" and "Golden Eye". He was such a wonderful choice to play Eddard Stark in Martin's "Game of Thrones". He's a wonderful actor who gets into real life knife fights in bars and stuff. I also dug Sean Pertwee for his work on "DOG SOLDIERS" and he had yet to do Marshall's "DOOMSDAY" which we also covered. The star was some young guy named Bale who I had never heard of. Was I in for a surprise.

The film is sci-fi set in a world after the nuclear holocaust wipes out most of the world's population. It's decided by the survivor's that it was man's tendency for emotion that caused such atrocities. In the new world, there would be no emotion. The new society is drugged and policed by awesome pistol wielding Tetragrammaton Clerics using a martial art called the gun kata (wonderfully used by Bale in the film). If there is such a thing, I would love to learn it. Bale plays a cleric on the hunt for rebels who have chosen emotion over the peace of the New World Order. But will his quest lead him to take down the entire machine?

Pertwee plays the head of the new government, while Bean plays Bale's partner. Taye Diggs is remarkable in his portrayal as a cleric and he and Bale have an amazing sword fight that blew my mind. The film also features the talents of Emily Watson ("THE PROPOSITION" and William Fitchner ("FIRST SNOW" and an actor I love). Angus Macfayden also does a wonderful job as one of the high ups in the order, Dupont. I really enjoyed him in the shortlived series "Miracles" and he's another "SAW" veteran with roles in both the third and fourth film in the franchise (Jeff).

This was the film that made be excited when I heard Bale was selected to play Batman. This was also the film that put him on my map and made me a fan. I went back and watched "THE MACHINIST" and "American Psycho" after seeing him in "Equilibrium". Bale's performance drives an intriguing story and he really cut his action chops on this one. It really made up for his pansy role on "Reign of Fire" where he was sorely upstaged by McConaughey. One more film left in the trilogy of Bale coming up shortly.

Director, Kurt Wimmer has only three films under his belt, but has written many more, including "The Thomas Crown Affair", "Street Kings", "Law Abiding Citizen" and "SALT". I have a feeling he'll be back for more in this blog series.


Monday, July 25, 2011

365 Movies Day #119 "The Machinist"

I feel a trilogy of Christian Bale flicks coming on. Get ready. We'll start with "The Machinist". This is the ultimate example of discipline as a person and as an actor that makes Bale special. The man lost 80 pounds to play the role and he didn't have it to lose. He's a skeleton in the film as you can see from the trailer. The director got so worried about him that he forced Christian to eat.

The film is about a man (Bale) who is so haunted by his past that he drifts into an extreme case of insomnia. The story is creepy and Bale's decent into madness and internal turmoil is just chilling. Jennifer Jason Leigh (a bit older than when we last talked about her in "MIAMI BLUES" co-stars and how the heck is this Michael Ironside's first mention on the blog? I'll have to fix his absence.

This is a truly great film and Bale just amazes me here. Stay tuned for two more flicks from Mr. Bale in the next couple of days.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

365 Movies Day #118 "Black Lightning"

Produced by Timur Bekmambatov, who directed "DAY WATCH" and "NIGHT WATCH", this film is a Russian amalgamation of "Iron Man", "Spiderman" and "Transformers" and done better than all three.

Basically, it's a touching, yet thrilling tail of a young college kid whose dad buys him an old car that turns out to be a miracle of modern science that can fly thanks to a one-of-a-kind super energy device known as the nanocatalyst. Of course there is a girl he has his eyes on and his father fills the Uncle Ben role from "Spiderman". Also, what hero movie would be complete without a villain? A corporate mogul will stop at nothing to get at the diamonds buried beneath Moscow, even if it means the destruction of the cities very foundations. The problem with his plan? He needs a limitless energy source to power his massive drill! There you have it. It's a basic comic book story line, but told in such a fun way that you'll enjoy the ride. It's sweet, funny, action-packed and visually stunning. I'm beginning to become quite the fan of Russian films.

If you watched Bekmambatov's previous films, you'll recognize a couple of familiar faces. The evil corporate tyrant is played by Viktor Verzhbitskiy, who played leader of the dark others, Zavulon, in "DAY WATCH" and "NIGHT WATCH" and Valeriy Zolotukhin played the vampire sire of Kostya in the same films. Igor Savochkin was also in all three films. Heck, even director, Dmitriy Kiselev, was Bekmambatov's editor on both the Watch films AND "Wanted". Grigory Dobrygin was also fabulous in the lead.

Looking for a fresh, well-done take on superheroes, check this one out.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

365 Movies Day #117 "Kill the Irishman"

Jonathan Hensleigh, the man that gave us the 2004 Punisher flick, which aside from being set (for some damned reason unbeknownst to me) was a great film with a very cool Punisher in Thomas Jane. Ray Stevenson is a wonderfully underrated actor who is best known for his work on the TV series "Rome", but also knocked out some wonderful performances in "King Arthur", "Book of Eli" and previously mentioned "OUTPOST". He does wonders as Danny Greene, "The Irishman" in this flick (an coincidentally replaced Jane in "Punisher: War Zone" which was abysmal despite Ray being a cool Frank Castle). So, why the heck did this film sneak by the theaters with barely a whisper? It deserved a lot more.

"Kill the Irishman" is a fabulous mob biopic of the charismatic, real life Danny Greene. It covers his rise and fall in a compelling story and the mix of news reel footage in with the film is a great touch. Hensleigh is proving he belongs listed among names like Walter Hill. The cast he pulled together for this one is fantastic.

For starters, Christopher Walken, who's filmography needs no telling here (though he was in previously mentioned "THINGS TO DO IN DENVER WHEN YOU'RE DEAD" back on day 6!). Walken covers all his typical bases as a dangerous yet friendly mobster who tells great stories in typical Walken fashion. Vincent D'Onofrio gives one of his best performances in years as a mob smartguy and best friend to Greene, though he also proves to have a killer's hands. Val Kilmer is underused as Detective Joe Manditski, but not nearly as much as Vinnie Jones (the Juggernaut bitch!), who appears in a very small cameo role as one of Greene's toughs. Mobster staples like Robert Davi (best known for his role in "Goonies"), Paul Sorvino ("THE ROCKETEER" and Mike Starr ("BLACK DYNAMITE" make appearances as well.

If you like true mob stories or seeing a grown man slap the crap out of someone, or if you just want to hear some of the hilariously witty things that come out of Stevenson's mouth during the film, or if you just want to watch Hensleigh pull off a star-filled period mob piece with only a $4million budget, you definitely need to check this out on DVD. Maybe then you can be equally stunned at it's tiny theatrical release.


Friday, July 22, 2011

365 Movies Day #116 "Dirty Pretty Things"

This film is a striking drama about two immigrants struggling to live in the city of London. Okwe, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Operative from "Serenity")is a doctor from Africa who has given up his work as a healer to hide from a dark past. His friend, Senay is played by the incredibly talented French actress, Audrey Tautou ("Amelie" and previously mentioned "HAPPENSTANCE") is a Turkish immigrant who dreams of a magical life in the West.

What unfolds as the film progresses is a dark side of the London underworld that will test the courage and morality of one and crumble the dreams of the other. Charming villain, Sneaky, is nailed by Spanish actor Sergi López, who is almost likeable and definitely creates the sense of a bad guy who is the hero of his own story. He almost makes you believe what he is doing is right.

From director Stephen Frears ("High Fidelity", "Dangerous Liaisons", "The Grifters") it's a great tale about immigrants, the price people pay for their dreams and freedom AND the cost of doing the right thing. In closing, I'd like to mention one of the supporting actors, Benedict Wong (previously mentioned "SUNSHINE" and Ridley Scott's upcoming "Prometheus" with Guy Pearce of yesterday's flick). Wong has a wonderful supporting role as Guo Yi, Okwe's good friend who is a porter at the local morgue. Gou has some amazing quotes in the film and really grabs the scenes he's in. It's a great lesson in doing amazing work with a relatively small role and he does it without even PLAYING the role. He's incredibly subtle and it's amazing.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

365 Movies Day #115 "Ravenous"

A quirky, disturbing film from British director Antonia Bird. Set around the time of the Mexican-American War, "Ravenous" follows a group of ragtag misfit soldiers are faced with a disturbing encounter with a cannibalistic stranger who may be a legendary wendigo.

Our cannibal is wonderfully portrayed by Robert Carlyle, who I will always remember from his role as Begby in the Danny Boyle classic, "Trainspotting". Of course, Carlyle has done so much more than that with flicks like "28 Weeks Later" and "The Full Monty" and TV such as "SGU". The hero of our story is played by Guy Pearce and if you've been paying attention to this blog, you'll know what a fan of his I am. He's been featured on the blog in his leading roles in both "FIRST SNOW" and "THE PROPOSITION" and has done so much other amazing work. I can't wait to see what he does in Ridley Scott's new "Prometheus" which has such an amazing international cast. Check it out HERE.

If you're making a film about kooky nut-jobs there are a few folks you should have in your film that are known for knocking that role out of the park. "Ravenous" has a who's who of whacky character actors like Jeffery Jones ("Howard the Duck" is what I always remember him from), Jeremy Davies (who always plays an off-kilter character, even in "LOST" and quite wonderfully in "The Million Dollar Hotel" and "Rescue Dawn" and the infamously nutty David Arquette. Rounding out a solid cast is one of my favorite character actors, Neal McDonough. I even forgive him for "The Legend of Chun Li". Who couldn't with his roles in "Band of Brothers" and "Minority Report". Also looking forward to what he does with the Marvel flicks as SHIELD agent, Dum Dum Dugan.

If you like horror/suspense with an odd edge, a great cast and an entertaining story, this is the film for you!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

365 Movies Day #114 "La Haine"

Vincent Cassel is back on the blog! This time for a film he did in 1995, "La Haine" ("Hate"). Cassel has been featured before here for his roles in "EASTERN PROMISES", "BIRTHDAY GIRL", "MESRINE: KILLER INSTINCT" and "MESRINE: PUBLIC ENEMY #1".

In this film, when an Arab youth is badly beaten and hospitalized by the police, riots engulf the projects. In their wake, three friends are forced to deal with the events that happen after and their lives will never be the same. Cassel plays Vinz (all the lead characters are named for the actors that play them), a Jewish kid who claims that if Abdel (the Arab youth) dies, he's going to kill a cop in response. Another of the three leads is played by Saïd Taghmaoui, who you may recognize from a film I did (he was Breaker in "GI JOE: Rise of Cobra" or from "LOST". Said plays Vinz's spunky Arabic pal who lives in the shadow of his brother. Said actually co-wrote the film with his friend and director of the film Mathieu Kassovitz. Finally, the third friend is played by Hubert Koundé. Hubert is actually a close friend of David Belle, founder of "parkour" or "free running" and star of previously mentioned "BANLIEU 13". It was actually Hubert who coined the term "parkour"! Hubert is a young black man who was working to turn his life again and do right by his family, until his gym gets burned down in the riots.

The film is all in black and white and features a couple very interesting recurring elements. One is a recurrent blatantly obvious use of product placement from the Nike swatch on Vinz jacket to the Perrier water ads and Sigh cola cans. Not sure if this was just for funding or if there is a significance I am missing. Another is a recurring use of characters telling jokes or stories of various levels of funny, culminating in the one Hubert tells at the beginning of the film. Also interesting to point out that each of the leads represents a different racial minority in France. The film is reminiscent of flicks like "Trainspotting" in its depiction of fringe youth.

A couple more interesting facts in closing about director Mathieu Kassovitz. He later starred with Cassel in "BIRTHDAY GIRL" with him and Cassel playing two of the main Russian thugs after the lead. He also directed several other films that will be featured on the blog at a later with Cassel. Also, as an actor he's been in movies such as "Amelie", "Munich" and even had a cameo in "La Haine" as a young skinhead.

This is a great film and another member of the Criterion collection.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

365 Movies Day #113 " Day Watch"

The follow up to yesterday's film, "Night Watch" and every bit as good as Bekmambatov's first installment. I don't have a lot to add here because I don't want to ruin the movie for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, but it's a great sequel. Lots more character development, more stunning visuals, GREAT plot twists. Two things I'm looking forward to now are "Twilight Watch" (the third, yet unmade film, hopefully helmed by Bekmambatov as well) and reading the books the films are based on. Oh, and "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter". :)


Monday, July 18, 2011

365 Movies Day #112 "Night Watch"

Timur Bekmambetov should have become a household name in action after directing "Wanted". Granted the film was not much like the nasty, vile Millar comic book, but it was a great story that captured the essence minus the supervillain elements and the stuff that made you maybe want to throw up a bit. It looks like he's getting ready to helm "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter", which should be fun. "Night Watch" begins what may be one of the coolest trilogies ever despite what the retards on youtube comment on the trailer. Note to self again, never read youtube comments.

The film is a visual trip with some wonderfully integrated CGI. It's about two sides in an epic struggle, one light and one dark. For thousands of years they have been in a truce after a battle threatened to destroy them all. The Night Watch keeps an eye on the "Dark Others" while the Day Watch keeps the "Light Others" in check. Of course they all have various powers and some of the Dark Others are even vampires.

Our hero, Anton, played by Konstantin Khabenskiy (who also made an appearance in "Wanted") is a Light Other who is struggling with an epic mistake in his past. Without ruining the film, that mistake comes back to haunt him 12 years later and the events of the flick unfold. The story is incredibly creative. The music is great. The characters are fun. The lead is amazing. The effects are wonderful. It made me an instant fan of Bekmambatov. Seriously, some of my favorite films and the final chapter hasn't been released yet.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

The story of a "Coyote County Loser"

I had just got back from Afghanistan and was trying to do more in film. I had signed with The Phoenix Agency up in Albuquerque and at first had some serious misconceptions about what an agent does. Heck, I had serious misconceptions about everything to do with being a film actor. At least some of that is cured now.

One of my big misconceptions was that an Agent works for YOU. This really isn't 100% true. Your agent needs to book SOMEONE on a role...not YOU. Don't get me wrong, your agent can be incredibly helpful and wonderful to talk to and go out of their way to help you, but you can't rely on them to get you roles...only to help you find opportunities. The key thing an agent does for you is give you credibility and access to the breakdowns and big casting directors.

By credibility, I mean that simply being represented by an agent makes you look more professional. It helps you appear to be a real actor. I say appear, because there are some real losers out there who conned an agent into signing them and there are some agents who are crooked as all get out. Having one doesn't make you a professional...that comes from your behavior.

Having access to breakdowns is important as well. Usually films go through a CD for casting and that Casting Director doesn't muck around posting about roles on facebook or the imdb boards or some pay scam sight. They send the breakdowns out to qualified and trusted agents to get options. It saves them a boatload of time and helps ensure they limit the number of douchebags they bring in to protect their reputation as professional CDs.

So, the point of this is? Well, you rely on your agent to keep you in with the big productions, but you never stop looking for other opportunities. Always networking...always checking for postings about auditions. This doesn't mean to use pay sites that are usually scams (nowcasting and actorsaccess are decent) or imdb (I've never even made contact with an actual producer/director through those postings). A great source is through facebook or social network interface with directors you respect and checking out film commission websites.

It was while checking out the New Mexico Film Commission website ( that I discovered there was going to be an open casting call for a romantic comedy called "Coyote County Loser" in Roswell (about 2 hours from where I live. Now, I usually drove 3 hours up and 3 hours back from Albuquerque for auditions, so 2 hours was actually nice. Plus, I didn't make the drive that much so it wasn't too boring.

I drove up to Roswell and arrived at the audition site. It was a broke down little theater that screamed "RUN AWAY!". I was really worried I had stumbled into a crappy project. However, I had driven 2 hours up so what was I going to do? I went in and was directed to the seating area in the theater. Auditions were being held back stage. There was a table with different sides on it. I was instructed to PICK a side. I hadn't had this happen before. I was used to being told "I want you to read for this". So, of course I grabbed the script for the lead, Jack. I looked it over and eventually my name was called.

I went back stage and was greeted by the director AND the producer. At a typical audition for a bigger budget project you'll meet with a CD first...usually not the director and unless the director and producer are the same person, NEVER the producer. Again, this one was odd, but it was indy film. On a lower budget film, it's actually hard to find a real casting director. You usually just read for the director. It saves a lot of money for the shoestring budget productions.

I read...and the director said "That's great...but could you read for the loser?". Some people might get sore at someone looking at them and thinking "loser", but I knew this meant they liked me. I was a happy camper. I grabbed the sides, looked them over and, I suppose knocked them dead. I left, not sure what to think, but hopeful as always.

A bit later, I got an email from the director. They wanted me, but nothing official yet. Then another email and finally a contract. This was really going to happen. I talked to the director, Jason Naumann, and we decided to meet for coffee up in Roswell. My daughter loved Roswell and all the alien stuff and Jason said to bring her along.

We met at Starbucks in Roswell and my then, 4-year-old daughter had a hot chocolate. She was bouncing around like a ping pong ball...and Jason was enamored with her. He was so great to talk to and such a nice guy. I knew this was going to be fun. He led me to the production office and I met some of the rest of the folks. A great bunch of people with a decent set-up. This might be promising after all.

I finally got a full script and loved it. My character was a simple backwoods guy who owned a junk yard. He was a sweet guy and a fun character and not the usual action hero role I was looking for. It was fun.

Now here is a lesson in first impressions and networking. After meeting with the producer more, Jacob Roebuck (another fantastic guy), he called me one day. As a local (he and Jason were out of LA) he needed my help finding a replacement actor for the film. It needed to be a guy who could pull of geek and charming and be rather young. I knew just the cat. I had met Everette Scott Ortiz while working on "Price of the American Dream II" up in ABQ. He was a nice kid, had all the qualities Jacob was looking for and a reel to back it up. He was eventually cast in the film. I met him ONE time and was able to get him a role on an indy SAG project and one of his first features.

Shooting was great. I got to work with the lovely and talented (and I just realized FELLOW MISSOURIAN) Nikki Boyer of "MIDNIGHT CLEAR"and film veterans Wayne Grace (X-Files, "MIDNIGHT CLEAR", Star Trek: Enterprise, Mulholland Dr and"LORD OF ILLUSIONS") and K Callan ("MIDNIGHT CLEAR", a host of great television shows and most memorable as Superman's mom on the show "Lois and Clark".).

My first day of shooting was great! Everyone was wonderfully nice. It was like a big family, and in many ways it was. Jacob's wife was from Roswell and her parents still lived there. They were both incredible people and had us into their home for dinner on multiple occasions. A few of the cast even lived with them for the duration of the shoot. Great folks! This is also the only film other than "Humans Vs. Zombies" where I have had my family visit the set. Jason impressed me to no end when he played catch with my daughter, Annabel, during breaks in filming and when, at dinner, he and Polly (Jacob's mother-in-law) broke into the AWANA theme song!

What also surprised me was the fact that the footage we were getting was really good. This was going to be something to be proud of. I still think it is, though it hasn't gotten the exposure it deserves. It's a sweet, clean romantic comedy that you can watch while your kids are roaming around the house. It has a great message about love and relationships and especially legacy couples (couples that have been together for years that act as role models for younger couples). It's about sacrifice, commitment, compromise and the true nature of love and it's wonderful.

This film also marks several other firsts for me. It was the first filming (and only so far) that I did in Los Angeles). It was the first (and so far only) feature film where I made the poster (a print hangs above my computer as I type this). It was my first Los Angeles (and so far only) Los Angeles premier. It's the first film that I've traveled around to different markets promoting. It was also that first film that I've been able to go back to my home town of Joplin, Missouri with and show off to all my friends and family.

My college, Missouri Southern State University, helped sponsor a showing at the Joplin movie theater and had me out for a dinner and to speak with the theater students. It was a wonderful day of meeting old friends, hanging out with my family and being treated like a real movie star. "Coyote County Loser" has meant a lot to me.

That said, you definitely need to see the film! Add it to your netflix queue (they haven't picked it up yet, but you can save it and help the cause). You can buy it on amazon (a link is below). It's definitely worth the watch, especially if you like romantic comedies...or seeing me take a bath in a horse trough.


Here is the film's WEBSITE.

365 Movies Day #111 "The Hill"

Light years ahead of it's time from legendary director Sidney Lumet, who the world lost recently. After "The Hill" he would give us such films as "Serpico" and "Dog Day Afternoon". A special thanks to Jeff O'Brien for recommending the film. This is one of those rare films like "Citizen Kane" that with all the modern technology and know-how available all these years later, there's nothing you would really change.

In a nutshell, the film is about a British North African prison camp during WWII where soldiers are sent to be "repaired" and put back into service. The camp is led by incompetent Commandant, yet the RSM, played by Harry Andrews reminds me in so many ways of the epic performance by Stephen Lang in "Avatar". He was the embodiment of military structure. A new Staff Sergeant on the block, combined with an incoming group of five new prisoners including the legendary Sean Connery and Ossie Davis (who played JFK in "BUBBA HO-TEP"). While Connery is wonderful as usual, it is Davis that outshines the rest of the cast as a black British West Indies native who stands against racism and oppression in a wonderfully entertaining a film made in 1965.

A truly wonderful cast with some amazing shots that you've probably seen in films like "The Hurt Locker" and other films more recently. It all comes back to this. Lumet was a wonderful talent and this is one of his best.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

365 Movies Day #110 "Bangkok Dangerous"

If you saw the Nicholas Cage version and didn't like it, don't worry, this film really only has the name in common. In fact, I'm pretty sure the remake pulled everything that was creative or touching out of the original and left the rest in...
A pet peeve of mine is the need to remake foreign films as if an American actor and a Hollywood director will truly make the film better. Sad times indeed.

But enough ranting on my part, this film rounds out the 10 modern Asian flicks I promised. There will be more, but this was a little streak I decided to do. Basically, this film is about a deaf/mute (Kong) who ends up, through a series of events, becoming a deadly hitman. However, the film has a very human side to it that I won't ruin for you.

Some of the shot sequences in this were stunningly original. The director played off of the lead's handicap and leaves you standing in his shoes during key moments. Watch for an awesome lizard-eye view shot and some really creative uses of camera, color and sound to help make this low budget film seem larger than it is. There are really a lot of moments in this film that should be studied by indy filmmakers. Another great element is the amazing use of montage and a focus on cinematic storytelling versus expositional dialogue. It's also a wonderful choice to have a lead character that cannot speak.

An incredibly creative and wonderful film...that Hollywood ripped the heart out of for their version.


Friday, July 15, 2011

365 Movies Day #109 "Fist of the North Star"

Yesterday we talked about anime with a moving, touching story. Today, one of my favorites that is the embodiment of badassery. In a post apocalyptic world, a guy can punch you and make your head explode, turn his body to steel or slice you to ribbons with the tips of his fingers...and they do these things...a lot.

"Fist" is still one of my favorite anime films and it's all about the fight sequences...and an unconventional ending. It's a balls to the wall festival of bashing, smashing, exploding and mayhem in all it's glory. Oh, and there is also a message of hope and peace and stuff.

For a sense of Ken's handiwork check out this compilation video:

There is also a live action version made in 1995, but I don't recommend it.


365 Movies Day #108 "Spirited Away"

You can't talk about Asian cinema and not talk about anime and you can't talk about anime without talking about Hayao Miyazaki. Forget Pokemon and Speed Racer. Miyazaki's movies are all about mysticism and story, magic, being a kid and fighting the good fight. "Spirited Away" is the best of the best for his films and that is saying a lot.

Basically, the story is that a little girl is forced to save her family from the clutches of and interesting lot of semi-villains when they accidentally stumble into the spirit world during their move to the suberbs. However, it's so much more than that. It's filled with lovable characters, compelling story, humor, love and so much more. Miyazaki uses animation to tell a story like few others. When it comes to anime with true substance, Miyazaki is king.

The English dub version isn't too bad either. It features the voices of David Ogden Stiers (MASH), Lauren Holly, Michael Chiklis, John Ratzenberger and Tara Strong (Family Guy and a host of other animated shows).


Thursday, July 14, 2011

365 Movies Day #107 "Hard Boiled"

"Hard Boiled" is the film that put John Woo on the map in the US. Shortly after this film he began making American films like "Hard Target" (doesn't stand up to the test of time), "Broken Arrow" (mixed reviews), "Face/Off" (In my opinion the best of his US films), "Mission Impossible 2" (the film that made Dougray Scott decline the role of Wolverine) and then total stinkers like "Windtalkers" and "Paycheck". Let's face it. Woo is just better when he is making badass HONG KONG films.

"Hard Boiled" is gritty. It was one of the first films I ever saw with such a high innocent bystander body count. The shootout in the teahouse and the one in the hospital are excellent examples. No one is safe when the bullets start flying. To quote imdb the film is about a tough-as-nails cop who teams up with an undercover agent to shut down a sinister mobster and his crew. Pretty straight forward. However, Woo handles action in this as only a master can. "Face/Off" came the closest of his US films to this kind of cool and even it fell short.

The film stars Chow Yun-Fat, who later got his American break in "The Replacement Killers" and has done so many US films since. I loved his performance in "Anna and the King". Not many people can compete with Yule Brenner for that role. And of course "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" as one of the only Asian blockbuster films in the states not featuring Bruce Lee.

Bottom line here, if John Woo just doesn't do it for you in the US with all of his doves and slow motion, then you definitely need to check out his Hong Kong cinema. If you like epic gun fights and tons of action, you won't be disappointed. Start with "Hard Boiled".


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

365 Movies Day #106 "Kaminey"

On our tour of modern Asian cinema, our next stop takes us to India, for this amazing film. Beautifully and creatively shot it reminded me of a "what if" where Guy Ritchie directed an Indian "True Romance" that was part musical. Sound intriguing? Wait till you see the film!

Indian heartthrob Shahid Kapoor stars as identical twin brothers. One good, one...not so much. At odds with each other and having gone their separate ways, they are drawn together by a series of spectacular events that culminate in a sexy shootout and a story that will leave you thoroughly entertained. One of the most creative movies I've seen in awhile. Actress Priyanka Chopra is a total knock out as well and a very talented actress.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

365 Movies Day #105 "The Good, The Bad, The Weird"

Not to be outdone by Miike, Korean director Jee-woon Kim also tackles the Asian western with his film "The Good, The Bad, The Weird". It seems as if Miike and Kim are mirroring each other with Kim's horror flicks also of a same vein. It wasn't that long ago that we talked about Kim's "I SAW THE DEVIL" which is definitely on a level with Miike's graphic horror elements.

"The Good, the Bad, the Weird" is a fun flick, opening with a train robbery where all three of our leads are revealed and progressing through a great series of action sequences, comic relief and old west craziness culminating in an ending shootout and a motorcycle, horse, jeep race featuring a host of players. If you like the trailer, definitely check it out.

Kang-ho Song, who plays Yoon Tae-goo or "The Weird" can also be seen in two of the vengeance trilogy by Chan-wook Park and is a riot to watch in this film. Byung-hun Lee we talked about before with "I SAW THE DEVIL" and his role as Storm Shadow in "GI JOE". He plays Park Chang-yi or "The Bad" and is chillingly badass. The stoic paladinesque lawman of the tale or "The Good"(Park Do-won / The Good) is wonderfully portrayed by Woo-sung Jung.

I've discovered a whole new genre of film with Asian westerns and I must say it's been a blast! Between this film and "Sukiyaki Western Django" though, this is my favorite.


Monday, July 11, 2011

365 Movies Day #104 "Sukiyaki Western Django"

So let's talk about Asian westerns. No really, it's a damn cool concept and "Sukiyaki Western Django" is Takashi Miike's play at it. This is Miike's third film to hit the blog with "AUDITION" and only recently mentioned "13 ASSASSINS". It's funny, it's quirky, it's badass sword versus gun versus gattling cannons. It's badass chicks. Heck, it's QUENTIN TARANTINO as a gunslinger. Yes, I managed to work a Tarantino flick into the blog...with him as an actor. I may have one with him as a writer soon.

The film features a few actors American audiences may recognize. Comedian Takaaki Ishibashi was actually in "Major League 2 and 3". Kaori Momoi was in "Memoirs of a Geisha" and Yûsuke Iseya was also in "13 ASSASSINS". The plot is all over the place, but develops nicely and leaves room for plenty of asswhoopery.

Definitely check this one out!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

365 Movies Day #103 "Kung Fu Hustle"

In keeping with the trend of modern Asian cinema with our last two pictures, this film is a personal favorite. Not many films can combine some seriously amazing fight sequences with laugh out loud comedy. "Kung Fu Hustle" pulls it off and then some.

Writer, director and star Stephen Chow is wonderful all around. Working in film since 1981 and with 8 directorial credits under his belt, this is definitely his masterpiece. Many really like his previous film "Shaolin Soccer", but after watching "Kung Fu Hustle" I expected more from "Soccer". It's good, but it's no "Hustle".

Basically, the film takes place in the 40s in a city ruled by the infamous Axe Gang. The Gang and it's leader, Brother Sum, played by Kwok-Kwan Chan, is both ruthless and hilarious in their criminal hijinks. When things get out of hand, it's time for the locals to stand up for themselves with a militia consisting of a tailor, a cook, a lecherous landlord and his chain-smoking nagging wife and a coolie. The coolie is played by Yu Xing, who also played Master Zealot Lin in yesterday's "IP MAN". The tailor is played by Chi Ling Chiu of Ari Gold's off the wall comedy "Adventures of Power" (more on that and the power of air drumming later). Of course, the hero of our story is a bumbling wannabe gangster named Sing (played by Chow), who's antics with his best friend drive most of the greatest comedy in the film.

Again, while funny, it also features some amazing action sequences. The harpists especially thrilled me. It's mystical. It's over the top. It's great. I think we may stay on modern Asian Cinema until film #110. I have a few more to talk about and we may just go in groups of ten from here until 200.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

365 Movies Day #102 "Ip Man"

Once upon a time, I studied under a cool cat named David de la Vega in San Antonio. David taught an incredible system called Modern Combatives (not to be confused with Army wrestling) that was a mixture of Silat and a style called Wing Tsun. I instantly fell in love with chain punches, chi sao, and the many blocking, parrying techniques. Oddly, I had people scoff at the chain punches when I demonstrated what they were later on. Those same people were blown away by "Ip Man".

"Ip Man" is a "semi-biographical" account of the life of Wing Tsun Master and instructor to the legendary Bruce Lee. Most of Lee's style is rooted in Wing Tsun. Interestingly, the style is reported to have been founded by a woman. The film itself is a very grand, sensationalized telling of Ip Man's life. It reminds me of a biography that would have been written by Homer. In the tale, Ip Man comes from a wealthy background, yet is a wonderfully humble man and talented martial artist. He is forced through the circumstances of WWII to stand up to Japanese occupation which culminates in a tournament versus a Japanese General to prove Chinese superiority. The sequel to the film is basically the same, substituting Britain for Japan.

What's incredible is the demonstration of Wing Tsun in the film. The plot is good enough to keep you watching, but the fight scenes are spectacular. Reminds me of why I love the art. Here is an example of an amazing fight scene from the flick:

Film freaks may recognize Donnie Yen (Ip Man) from films like "Blade II", "Highlander: End Game" and "Hero". He and "Ip Man" director Wilson Yip have also worked on a string of amazing martial arts flicks together.

For fun, here's a video demonstrating the effectiveness of the Wing Tsun chain punch from the show "Human Weapon":

Here is more background on the REAL IP MAN and on WING TSUN.


Friday, July 8, 2011

365 Movies Day #101 "13 Assassins"

Let's kick off the next 100 films!!!

I heard a lot about John Woo's "Red Cliff" and while I respect it as w beautiful film reminiscent of a Chinese Trojan War tale, Takashi Miike's samurai tale "13 Assassins" is way more my speed. This film could practically be a sequel to Kurosawa's masterpiece "Seven Samurai" as the plot and character line-up bear many great similarities. Miike has been featured on this blog before with "Audition", but this film is an entirely different animal. Frankly, I'm surprised that he had it in him. To go from a film like "Ichi: The Killer" to doing this is a surreal leap in the right direction. It's not the last time you'll hear about Miike on this blog either.

Basically the story is about a group of 12 samurai and a ruffian tracker who join together to take down a maniacal lord in the form of Naritsugu. Now, Naritsugu is like an incredibly toned down Kakihara from "Ichi" and is the closest link to Miike's previous films. Miike establishes him as a sadistic villain quickly with his senseless slaughter of innocents in a way that makes you want him dead in a big way. The samurai turn a small town into a deathtrap for Naritsugu and his entourage on his was to see the Shogun (his half-brother) and the film culminates into an epic samurai battle that almost makes you wish Kurosawa made "Seven Samurai" today! Some of the coolest sword combat I've seen.

Lots of badass dialogue in this one and some familiar faces to film goers...maybe. The leader of the 13 Assassins is played by Koji Yakusho. You might recognize him as Yasujiro Wataya from "Babel" or Nobu from "Memoirs of a Geisha". While I personally found the film tough to stomach in the story department but beautifully shot (though the blurred look grinds on you), the lead from "Casshern" makes an appearance as Koyata. He also had a small role in a wonderful film called "Blindness" we'll be talking about later.

If you like badass samurai movies and want to see what "Seven Samurai" might look like if it were made today, then DEFINITELY check out Takashi Miike's "13 Assassins".


Thursday, July 7, 2011


In honor of 100th post on the 365 Movies portion of blog, I am kicking off a contest with this post where I will be giving away FIVE copies of "THE PRODIGY". Winners will be selected at random and all you have do to enter is 1.) Follow my blog (worth 5 entries) and/or leave comments on any of the blog posts on this blog (no spam and worth 1 entry each). Contestants may have as many entries as possible. Names will be entered into a system and assigned a number for each entry and a random number generation process will determine 5 separate winners. If you've already commented or followed me, you are automatically entered for the drawing!

Winners will be announced here and via facebook/twitter on 21 July! Also, winners will receive "Sinners and Saints" post cards featuring Johnny, Costas and Sean. Spread the word and thanks for your support!

365 Movies Day #100 "Sinners and Saints"

Epic badassery is the only way to describe this film by my friend and talented director, Will Kaufman. If you'll remember, the very first film we talked about was one of Will's, "THE PRODIGY". It was his first feature and we'll come back to that here in a bit. Also, we touched on "THE HIT LIST" where Will made Cuba Gooding Jr. look like a total badass. As fantastic as the fight scenes were in "The Prodigy" for such a small budget and as interesting as it was seeing Cuba whoop some butt, "Sinners and Saints" destroys both films as one of the coolest flicks I've seen in years.

Important to take note, that as I write this, the film has yet to see wide release. I was lucky enough to catch it at a Dallas premier. So, why should you be excited to see this film.

First, let's talk story. Set in New Orleans right after Katrina, the film follows Detective Sean Riley, played by Johnny Strong. Strong is straight up Clint Eastwood in this flick. He just exudes "Don't screw with me" in a way that you don't see enough on film these days. Strong has had some great roles in films like "Black Hawk Down" (Shughart) and "The Fast and the Furious" (Leon), but this is definitely his powerhouse film. You may also recognize him as the lead singer for the band, Operator. Here's a video from his band:

The film opens with an amazing gun battle involving Riley, his partner played by Kim Coats ("Sons of Anarchy" and fellow "Black Hawk Down" vet) and my buddy Holt Boggs (star of "The Prodigy" and contributor on my article on how to work on accents for the actor found HERE. Such attention to detail is given to tactics and making every scene involving weapons perfect, partly owing to the use of real life special forces folks like Sonny Puzikas(Spetznaz) and amazing fight choreographer and martial artist Ron Balicki ("The Prodigy").

Riley's brother, played by Boondock Saint, Sean Patrick Flannery, arrives in town with a team of badass mercs hot on his trail and its left to Riley to save him at all cost. The merc team consists of an amazing cast including Costas Mandylor ("Saw"), Louis Mandylor ("The Quest" and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"), Bas Rutten of UFC fame, and "The Prodigy" vets Mark Hanson and Jay Moses and both Ron and Sonny.

Rounding out a fantastic cast is Tom Berenger (recently mentioned "FASTER", Jurgen Prochnow from "IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS" and "THE KEEP" ( I told you we'd talk about him at #100), Jolene Blalock ("Starship: Enterprise"), Method Man and another talented "Prodigy" vet in Matt Beckham.

Some of the most menacing moments captured on screen and like "The Prodigy" it borders, in parts, on horror and continuously delivers blows to your adrenaline. Wonderfully shot with an excellent score, it's clear that Will Kaufman is destined to be one of the greatest action directors around.

In honor of the film and this being the 100th post on the blog, I am kicking off a contest with this post where I will be giving away FIVE copies of "THE PRODIGY". Winners will be selected at random and all you have do to enter is 1.) Follow my blog (worth 5 entries) and/or leave comments on any of the blog posts on this blog (no spam and worth 1 entry each). Contestants may have as many entries as possible. Names will be entered into a system and assigned a number for each entry and a random number generation process will determine 5 separate winners. If you've already commented or followed me, you are automatically entered for the drawing!

Winners will be announced here and via facebook/twitter on 21 July! Also, winners will receive "Sinners and Saints" post cards featuring Johnny, Costas and Sean. Spread the word and thanks for your support!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

365 Movies Day #99 "Mesrine: Public Enemy #1"

I know, I said early 100s, but watched it tonight and couldn't wait. While part one was a great film, the second half just blew me away. It was so over the top, it was hard to believe that it's real. Cassel (yesterday's "EASTERN PROMISES", of course the first part of "MESRINE" and "BIRTHDAY GIRL" was even better in this half.

A huge hats off to director Jean-François Richet and writers Abdel Raouf Dafri and Jean-François Richet for such a compelling script and creative storytelling and the cinematography by Robert Gantz is just phenomenal. I'm actually blown away to find out that Gantz was the DP for Dallas the Dallas filmed "Chase" series. If you got to work with him, you were lucky to be working with a gifted artist. His shooting on "Mesrine" was flawless.

They even found a way to make an ending revealed in the first sequence of part one compelling and suspenseful without a gimmicky twist. All filmmakers can take some notes from this film about how to tell a story. I don't think I've seen a crime drama this well done since "The Godfather" and knowing it's true makes it twice as good. Mesrine is the hero of his own story and these films present him for all that he was. All his imperfections, faults, charisma, charm and idealism is laid bare for the viewer. Everything is captured. Phenomenal.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

365 Movies Day #98 "Eastern Promises"

Like "Faster", this is another movie that I mention assuming everyone has seen it and am usually unpleasantly surprised. Unlike "Faster" its been out for 4 years. Could it be because its from the same team that brought us the graphic novel adaptation "History of Violence", which while excellent in it's fight choreography and casting was clunky in its execution and parts of the story? I suppose. Director David Cronenberg is hit or miss with great flicks like "Scanners" and virtual garbage like "Crash" (not to be confused with the amazing 2004 film of the same name). "Promises" is definitely on the hit side.

There's no doubting that lead man Viggo Mortensen is a near flawless actor with amazing performances in "Lord of the Rings" and the adaptaion Cormac McCarthy's "The Road", but he's been knocking them out of the park since "The Prophecy" where he played the small role of Lucifer and "GI Jane" where he played Ridley Scott's DH Lawerence quoting Master Chief. In "Eastern Promises" he plays an amazingly hardened Russian mobster who is forced to choose between doing what is right and remaining loyal to his roots when confronted by a British journalist played by Naomi Watts. In fact, his character is so bad that he takes on 12 guys while NAKED in a public bath and it's one of the most badass fight scenes ever put on film...seriously.

Vincent Cassel is back in the blog as fellow conflicted mobster Kirill. Another great performance from him, just as in "MESRINE" and "BIRTHDAY GIRL" (where he plays another member of Russia's criminal element). Another fantastic character actor Armin Mueller-Stahl ("Angels and Demons", "The Game") is ALSO an X-Files veteran. I beginning to think almost everyone in the business was on that show.

"Eastern Promises" received a lot of critical acclaim including and audience prize for best film at the Toronto International Film Festival, 3 Golden Globe nominations and even an academy award nomination for Best Actor for Viggo (He lost to Daniel Day-Lewis for "There Will Be Blood"). Why have so few people I talk to seen this film then? Not sure, but if you haven't seen it, you're depriving yourself.


Monday, July 4, 2011

365 Movies Day #97 "Graveyard of the Fireflies"

One of the most beautiful pieces of anime I have seen NOT directed by Hayao Miyazaki. This 1988 film is so touching it left me weeping. Basically it's the struggle of two children to survive in Japan during WWII. The trailer you are seeing above is pretty lighthearted. The film is not. If you want a good tearjerker "cartoon", then this is a film for you. If you're put off by anime like "Fist of the North Star" or "Vampire Hunter D", then this is the film for you. They could easily make this into a live-action masterpiece, but there is no need. Isao Takahata created a wonderful film with this one.

Coincidentally, it was Isao Takahata who founded Studio Ghibli WITH Hayao Miyazaki in 1985 giving us such classics as "Castle in the Sky", "My Neighbor Totoro", "Kiki's Delivery Service", "Spirited Away" and "Howl's Moving Castle".


Sunday, July 3, 2011

365 Movies Day #96 "The Rocketeer"

Anyone with any doubts as to Joe Johnston's ability to handle a superhero (and one thwarting Nazis at that) need only harken back 20 years ago (where has the time gone) to this film. "The Rocketeer" has an excellent cast and is a great example of what Captain America could be.

Before Billy Campbell was a prophetic mutant in "4400" or starring in AMC's new hit "The Killing", he was flying racing planes and taking on Nazi actors wearing a jetpack. His love interest is played by the beautiful Jennifer Connelly ("Dark City", "Requiem for a Dream") and his nemesis is wonderfully played by Timothy Dalton (who wasn't really a bad Bond).

Some casting surprises come in the form of Terry O'Quinn as Howard Hughes. Most people know Terry as John Locke from "LOST" though he also had lengthy stints on "Alias", "The West Wing"JAG" and "Millennium". In addition, he made appearances in both "Tombstone" and "Young Guns" as well as starring in "The Stepfather". Alan Arkin is always a joy to watch in films such as "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Grosse Pointe Blank" and is no different here as Campbell's mentor and friend.

Tiny Ron is crazy fun as Dalton's henchman, Lothar. You can also catch him in epic mobster/western "Last Man Standing". Paul Sorvino is great and Ed Lautner, James Handy and William Sanderson round out a great cast of character actors who all made appearance on "X-Files".

Twenty years later, this is still one of the best superhero flicks around. I can't wait to see what Johnston pulls off with "Captain America".


Saturday, July 2, 2011

365 Movies Day #95 "Faster"

Truly one of the best vengeance films ever made and not near enough attention in the box office or on DVD. Sony pictures is really kicking up their game on action flicks with films like this and "The Mechanic". Dwayne Johnson is on top of his game as Driver. He is every bit as powerful as Bronson and the embodiment of righteous anger. From the opening moments where he is pacing in his cell like a caged tiger until the credits role, he never slows down. He tears a path to everyone responsible for his incarceration and his brother's murder. Up there with "Be Cool" as my favorite roles by The Rock.

Billy Bob Thornton (who we just talked about in reference to "ONE FALSE MOVE" plays a very interesting cop who is struggling with being a solid father, a good cop and a junkie. It's an incredibly 3 dimensional character for what many would consider a popcorn flick. I've heard a lot of criticism about the film's third lead played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen. He plays a professional killer who, having overcome a debilitating childhood illness has chased the ultimate in physical challenge and thrilling high, leading to his current profession. His character is struggling with the need to be the best at everything and his newfound love. Again, a remarkably three dimensional character and I personally found his portrayal and the depth of the role very interesting and refreshing. I look forward to seeing more from him.

Viewers may also recognize Maggie Grace ("LOST" and another solid vengeance film in "Taken"), Carla Gugino ("Suker Punch", "Sin City", "Watchmen", previously mentioned "THE LOOKOUT"), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje ("GI Joe: Rise of Cobra", "LOST") and of course, Tom Berenger (who you'll hear more about in film 100).

All in all, some great subtle choices in characterization and plot development make this VERY smart for a film about simple revenge. Things like a dude bigger than Johnson backing down rather than fight him, quick kills, and some excellent fight choreography (especially the bathroom knife fight) as well as Thornton's story line make this one of the best films I have seen in years. It should have received a lot more attention than it got and I can't wait to see more from director George Tillman Jr. ("Men of Honor") and writers Tony and Joe Gayton. They knocked it out of the park with this one.


Friday, July 1, 2011

365 Movies Day #94 "Mesrine: Killer Instinct"

I've only seen the first part and it will take me a few days to get to the second so I imagine it will help kick off the next 100 posts, but this is one badass French mobster flick. Based on the true story of one of the most notorious gangsters ever, Jacques Mesrine who is flawlessly portrayed by Vincent Cassel. We talked about Cassel a bit back when I posted about "THE BIRTHDAY GIRL". He caught a little press recently for his role in "Black Swan" (which I still haven't seen), rocked the house in "Eastern Promises" (which you will be hearing about later), was the most memorable thing about "Oceans 12" and "Oceans 13" and a few other flicks I may be addressing later as well. He's amazing...and was born to play Gambit in an XMen movie. Someone has to make that happen! Beside Cassel, Gerard Depardieu is another favorite French actor among Americans who rather convincingly plays a vicious mob boss in the film. A great cast of supporting actors accompany.

At least as good as any other mob biopic I've seen, it's got action, drama, heartache, love and the strength of a semblance of truth. There are definitely a couple of "Holy Crap!" moments. I owe seeing this film to a couple of new friends I met while shooting an action short called "Against the Wall" a few days back in Orlando. David Adda and Andrew Roth (both supercool cats) got to talking about the film when Cassel's name came up and I took note. Glad I payed attention and thanks guys!

For more info on the real Jacques Mesrine go HERE!