Wednesday, August 31, 2011

365 Movies Day #156 "Slither"

Funny horror films rock. And when I think funny horror, James Gunn's "Slither" is near the top of the list. I first saw this film in a tent in Afghanistan. Me and my crew laughed our butts off at this film. I expected a dumb horror movie and got one of the funniest films I had seen in a long time...mixed in with some pretty twisted and disgusting crap.

You may know Gunn's writing work more than his directing efforts with sripts for the "Dawn of the Dead" remake and the live action "Scooby Doo" films, which were actually pretty decent. He's also directed some hilarious internet stuff like "PG Porn" and got his start at Troma writing and directing "Tromeo and Juliet". He's entertaining as hell and tends to work with some fantastic folks, many of which made it into this film. His latest film "Super" (which I still have not seen yet) received some very positive attention.

"Slither" stars Nathan Fillion (the baddest of the Brown Coats) as local Sheriff Bill Pardy. When classic 50s alien mind possessing slugs start turning the residents into grotesque horrors everything goes to hell in a handbasket in a way that will keep you cringing and laughing till the end of the film. Fillion has done a lot of great work from his hit series "Castle" to the epic, though short lived, "Firefly" and even appearing in Gunn's "PG Porn" spots and Whedon's "Dr. Horrible" web series. You probably DON'T remember seeing him as Private Ryan's brother in "Saving Private Ryan" or the tiny role of the priest in "Dracula 2000" (which also featured Gerard Butler as Dracula in one of his earliest roles). He's another actor that is always a joy to watch and I hope Whedon can get him involved with "The Avengers" somewhere.

The town's mayor is flawlessy played by another fun actor to watch, Gregg Henry. Henry always brings something special to his roles. One of my favorites was his character Val Resnick opposite Mel Gibson in the wonderful film "Payback". Gregg is no stranger to Fillion either having worked on both "Castle" and "Firefly" with him. He's also done about every TV show since 1976.

The female lead in the story is played by the lovely and talented Elizabeth Banks ("Scrubs", "30 Rock", "40 Year Old Virgin"). Her love interest turned embodiment of the alien invasion is played by Michael Rooker. Gunn can really pick them. Rooker just impresses the hell out of me. I can't wait to see him again on "Walking Dead" (you know it's coming) and he's done fantastic work on films like "Days of Thunder", "JFK" and "8 Men Out". You can also catch him on Gunn's "Super". Jenna Fischer ("The Office" is in there too (Gunn's ex-wife) along with appearances by Gunn and Troma God Lloyd Kaufman.

I can't wait to catch "Super" and if you're looking for more badass films by Gunn, this is definitely a shining star.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

365 Movies Day #155 "Sunshine Cleaning"

A beautiful film in so many ways. A wonderfully talented cast, an interesting down-to-earth meaningful story. Just a great film all around. Where do I start? Well let's shoot for synopsis first. Rose Lorkowski is a wreck. Life just didn't go where it was supposed to go for her after high school. She's lost and feeling destitute, in love with a married man and, with her sister and her father, trying to find some meaning in life.

Rose is played by the incredibly lovely and talented Amy Adams. You should recognize her from her role in "The Fighter" recently where she was equally stunning. Her sister is played by Emily Blunt ("Gnomeo and Juliet", "Devil Wears Prada" and both she and Amy were in "Charlie Wilson's War" together). The father is played by Alan Arkin who is ALWAYS a thrill to watch. I loved him as Blank's therapist in "Grosse Pointe Blank" and he was a joy in "Little Miss Sunshine" and we've talked about him before for "THE ROCKETEER". Rose's married hunk is played by Steve Zahn ("Joy Ride", "Happy Texas", "Rescue Dawn") another of my favorite actors to watch.

Other interesting casting choices are Jason Spevack as Rose's nephew. If you have kids, you may know him better as Dino Dan! Also, the most impressive cast member to me in the film was Clifton Collins Jr. as one-armed hobby enthusiast and cleaning supply salesman Winston. He nailed the character to a tee and it was this film that got me hooked on him as an actor. We've talked about him before for his work in a bit part on "ONE TOUGH BASTARD", but he's done so much more to include being the best part of the "Boondock Saints" sequel.

It also features New Mexico casting director Angelique Midthunder who seems to always cast herself and her family in the movies she does and for some reason didn't seem to like me much as I never got to read for anything she was doing...go figure. Kevin Chapman of "BLACK DYNAMITE" makes an appearance as does Christopher Dempsey who had a great supporting role along side myself in a zombie western short we did out in New Mexico called "Fool's Gold".

What you can glean from the trailer is that, in her search for meaning, Rose and her sister end up starting a crime scene clean up business. It's in that seemingly dismal job that she finds meaning and is able to heal herself and her family. Again, a great story and one everyone should see.


Monday, August 29, 2011

365 Movies Day #154 "City of Lost Children"

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, this is a visually stunning film in the nature of "Dark City" and (to an extent) "Blade Runner". The story is enjoyable in a way only Hiyao Miyazaki seems capable of dishing out these days. It's also one of my favorite Ron Perlman flicks. We've talked about Ron before for his brief role in "DARK COUNTRY" and many recognize him from his roles on "Hellboy" and "Sons of Anarchy" though if you're a fan of superhero cartoons like Batman and Justice League and even Star Wars:The Clone Wars, you'd be surprised to look at his voice work resume. I also hear he's an incredibly decent cat.

The film is basically about a mad scientist who steals children to rob them of their dreams. His minions are an incredible collection of cyber-punk/steam-punk misfits and a hilarious pack of clones played by Dominique Pinon. When the scientist steals the little brother of a carnival strong man, One (played by Perlman) his world begins to come undone. Like I said, the story is just beautiful and the visuals stunning. You can't go wrong with this one.

Although, Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet are no strangers to making cool flicks. Their romantic comedy "Amelie" (which also stars Pinon) has fascinated audiences around the world and their stab at the Aliens franchise with "Alien:Resurrection", to me, was enjoyable all the way up until the baby alien showed up. Coincidentally, both Perlman and Pinon show up in the mercenary company in that film, both play characters you think are doomed from the beginning, and both are a few of the only survivors.

Expect to hear more from all of the above players in blog posts to come.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

365 Movies Day #153 "Snow White: A Tale of Terror"

This is a VERY surprisingly good film. A semi-horror film retelling of the classic fable and a made for TV movie really made me think I was in for a stinker. However, Sigourney Weaver ("Aliens" fame) as the wicked stepmother and Sam Neill (yesterday's "EVENT HORIZON" and "IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS") as Snow White's father made me a bit hopeful. It's actually quite good.

Turns out this bears a much closer resemblance to the original Grimm fairy tale, as many were very dark. It's not really scary in a horror sense of the world, but the story is much more adult. Monica Keena ("Dawson's Creek", "Entourage", "The Devil's Advocate") stars as Lily Hoffman (Snow White) with "LOVE AND A .45"'s Gill Bellows, David Conrad (of cult low budget vamp flick "Darkness"), Chris Bauer ("True Blood", "The Devil's Advocate") and Andrew Tiernan ("300") rounding out a great supporting cast.

Some notes. There are no dwarves in this. They are miners, but they aren't dwarves. Weaver is nasty in this and so good she was nominated for several awards based on this performance. The film was actually nominated for several emmies. So, if the recent incarnation of "Snow White" leaves you wanting, DEFINITELY check this one out. It rocks.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

365 Movies Day #152 "Event Horizon"

So this film is proof that Paul W.S. Anderson actually knows how to make a good film. It's just that he chooses not to for whatever reason. Much like Uwe Boll, Anderson has made a living doing crappy video game movies. "Event Horizon" is something else entirely.

Basically, it's a sci fi horror film about a salvage/rescue crew embarking into deep space in 2047 to recover a lost ship. The ship in question was powered by a drive that allowed it to leap through a worm hole, basically folding space and time in half. However, something really nasty in that worm hole is lurking in the darkness and wants to destroy everything it touches.

The film is creepy as hell, with excellent effects and a truly chilling performance from Sam Neill ("IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS" as the scientist who designed the evil ship. The crew that accompanies him is a great cast led by Laurence Fishburne ("The Matrix"), Kathleen Quinlan ("The Hills Have Eyes" remake), Joely Richardson (who later worked with Neill on "The Tudors"), Richard T. Jones ("Sarah Connor Chronicles" and "Phone Booth"), Jack Noseworthy ("U571") and Jason Isaacs ("Black Hawk Down"). A very special nod to the rescue ship's pilot played by Sean Pertwee. I love Pertwee and this is one of the first things I ever saw him in (though I remember him more from "DOG SOLDIERS"). Pertwee has also been featured on the blog in "DOOMSDAY" and "EQUILIBRIUM".

If you are looking for creepy sci-fi horror with some Clive Barker like twists, look no further than Anderson's "Event Horizon".


Friday, August 26, 2011

365 Movies Day #151 "Only the Strong"

It's "Lean on Me" meets "Karate Kid". Staple 90s action writer/director Sheldon Letti ("Lionheart", "Double Impact") brings us this CAPOEIRA classic about a former special forces sergeant who returns home to Miami to find his former high school overrun with gang members. With the help of his old teacher, he sets out to clean up the school by teaching capoeira and providing discipline to it's students. If not for the somewhat stylized villains and a few minor plot points this would have been a fantastic drama as well as an action film. As it stands, it's still one of the best martial arts films of that decade and one of the only films to really feature the Brazilian fighting art.

The film stars Mark Dacascos as the protagonist. Mark has had an interesting career filled with mainly B films and unknown stuff which is sad considering he's a gifted martial artist and a pretty decent actor. He's probably best known as reprising Brandon Lee's role for the "Crow" TV series and his recent role on "Hawaii Five-0". You may also recognize him from "Brotherhood of the Wolf" which I'm sure we'll talk about later. Stacey Travis ("HARDWARE", "Earth Girls are Easy") plays the love interest in this one and Geoffrey Lewis, veteran character actor and easily recognizable face, plays Dacascos' mentor. Lewis has been in productions like "Maverick", "The Devil's Rejects" and basically every major TV show for the past 20 years or so.

This film is a fun action film and watching the fight sequences alone is worth the view. Capoeira is such a beautiful style to watch, mixing dance with combat in a way that is elegant and deadly. If you want entertaining and visually cool, check this film out.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

365 Movies Day #150 "Troll Hunter"

I've been waiting for this one to hit netflix for a long time. Finally got my DVD in today and was NOT disappointed. Basically this is a Norwegian cross between "MONSTERS" and "Blair Witch".

In the film some young documentary filmmakers are following who they believe to be a poacher for a class project. What they find, instead, is that the "poacher" is actually a Troll Hunter. The film is them following him on his adventures until a climactic abrupt and rather open ending that satisfies.

I really dug the CGI inserted into the found footage style (I suppose reminiscent of a "Cloverfield" as well). With so many films like this since "Blair Witch" it's kind of fun to kick back and get to enjoy one. I dug it and hopefully you will too.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

365 Movies Day #149 "I Come in Peace"

No, it's not a tranquil porn film. Also known as "Dark Angel" this film is in a somewhat similar vein as yesterday's "SPLIT SECOND". A tough cop who has lost his partner teams up with a toolish suit-type to take on an inhuman badass. See...very similar. Of course, "I come in Peace" lacks the super cool cyber punk backdrop, but it makes up for it with lots of explosions and stylized white collard gang-members. Oh, and it's a Texas film!!! Set in and shot in Houston!

This is one of Dolph Lundgren's better films. He first hit the blog a bit back with "UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION". His FBI partner is played by Brian Benben. At the time this came out I was way to young to be watching his show "Dream On" on HBO, but I did...and it was awesome. I was a fan by the time I saw this film for the first time and remember watching it for Benben more than Lundgren. You can catch him now on the "Grey's Anatomy" spin-off, "Private Practice".

Director Craig R. Baxley may be more known for his stunt work, but he gave us some great 90s action flicks like "Action Jackson" (featuring Carl Weathers) and "Stone Cold" with Brian Bosworth ("ONE TOUGH BASTARD". Other notable stars include German behemoth Matthias Hues who plays the alien badguy, Sherman Howard who plays the corporate head of the White Boys (better known as BUB from the original "Day of the Dead")and Sam Anderson who plays sweet old Bernard Nadler on "LOST" is Howard's bloodthirsty assistant in this film. In addition, the film is filled with Texas actors like Kevin Page, Robert Prentiss and Willie Minor. Jesse Vint, of "Mutant" fame is also in the flick as well as Michael J. Pollard of yesterday's "SPLIT SECOND".

A rough synopsis is that an alien drug dealer has come to earth to harvest endorphines from humans to sell as a highly profitable drug back home. Of course, it kills the targets of the harvesting. He's being tracked by an alien bounty hunter and Dolph Lundgren and Brian Benben are trapped in the middle. It's definitely got some 90s cheese, but it's a fun film with plenty of cool.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

365 Movies Day #148 "Split Second"

While we are on the subject of 90s sci-fi horror, this one is a great one. Rutger Hauer ("Blade Runner", "HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN" at his best. The film features excellent somewhat cyber-punk visuals a la "Blade Runner" and "HARDWARE". It also sports two of the quirkiest, coolest cops depicted on screen in the form of Hauer's Harley Stone and Alastair Duncan's (whose voice has been in videogames and cartoons for years) Dick Durkin. A fault of many films like this is rather 2 dimensional and flat characters. "Split Second" is anything but. I found myself at the end after rewatching years later wishing for more of their adventures on the screen. The two are a great pairing and a treat to watch.

Basically the film is set in the far future of 2008...where global warming has caused flooding through much of London and rats are carrying a nasty plague. The world has basically gone to hell in a hand basket. The film opens with Stone on the trail of a serial killer who killed his partner 3 years ago. The twist is that Stone is a dangerous caffeine slamming partially psychic nutjob who shoots first and then MAY ask a question or two. He gets paired up with serial killer expert and Harvard educated man Durkin, who at first seems like a stiff but quickly develops into a very eccentric and likable character.

Kim Cattrall is the female lead in the film and plays the widow of Stone's partner and Stone's romantic interest. Most people know her for her role on "Sex and the City", but you can't forget her from "Big Trouble in Little China" or "Porky's" either. She also plays a character with surprising depth and for those that care, you do get to see quite a bit of her. The late Pete Postlethwaite plays a fellow cop at odds with Stone. Postlethwaite passed this year and was best known for his roles on DiCaprio's "Romeo and Juliet" (the movie where I met my wife), "Usual Suspects" and "Lost World". His most recent performances were from "Inception" and "The Town". The film also features Michael J. Pollard, a popular character actor featured in films like "Scrooged" and Alun Armstrong from "THE DUELLISTS" which also feature Postlethwaite in a nonspeaking role.

I'm always nervous about going back and watching films like "Split Second" that I loved back in the day. Films like "Flash Gordon" and even Hauer's "Blind Fury" were very disappointing. "Split Second" is STILL badass.


Monday, August 22, 2011

365 Movies Day #147 "Mimic"

This is a fun one from the 90s. Thinking about yesterday's "STAKE LAND" and the expendable nature of children in that film, I was reminded of how "Mimic" did the same thing. That scene has always stuck with me and the movie was pretty solid all around.

What you may not realize is that this was an early directorial effort of Guillermo del Toro who gave us "Hellboy", "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Blade II". The trailer will tell you all about Mira Sorvino ("Replacement Killers"), Jeremy Northam ("The Tudors"), Giancarlo Giannini ("Quantum of Solace", "Casino Royale"), Charles S. Dutton ("Roc"), F. Murray Abraham ("Scarface") and even Josh Brolin (wonderful in "No Country for Old Men"). What it won't tell you is that this is the FIRST film for Norman Reedus ("Walking Dead", "Boondock Saints", "PANDORUM") and Doug Jones first work with Del Toro. Doug Jones is famous for his physicality in film and you've SEEN him in "Legion" (the ice cream man), "Hellboy" (Abe Sapien), "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Fantastic Four" (The Silver Surfer"). Heck, he was even Pencil Head in "Mystery Men".

The plot is classic horror, but done in a very smart and entertaining way. Cockroaches were carrying a very potent strain of disease that was killing children everywhere. Scientists create a new bug that will destroy the cockroaches. It's a huge success. But now, years later, the bugs have grown to mimic their new predator and fight back. They have waged war on humanity. Our only hope are the scientists who unleashed them in the first place.

Great monsters. Great cast. Lot's of fun moments and a few good scares. Definitely one to go back and watch again or see for the first time, especially if you dig horror...and Norman Reedus.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

365 Movies Day #146 "Stake Land"

Wow. What a surprising treat. I saw this on the shelf at Wal Mart and the cover looked cool and I remember someone asking about it on facebook awhile back so I thought I'd give it a chance. So glad I did. Beautifully shot, well acted and with a story reminiscent of "Book of Eli", "Walking Dead" and Richard Matheson's novel "I am Legend", it was definitely not the B-Movie grindhouse film I expected (especially after watching the trailers).

The lead character is Martin, a teenager who is plunged headlong into a world occupied by zombie-like vampires when his family is brutally slain by the monsters. A hunter known only as Mister rescues him and takes him on as a protege. On the way to "New Eden" in Canada, they pick up more survivors and run into religious fanatics and other folks struggling to survive.

Martin is played by Connor Paolo of the TV series "Gossip Girl". Relative unknown Nick Damici (who also wrote the script) plays Mister who is one of the most brutal badasses to grace the film world in awhile. He is the epitome of a survivor and probably the coolest vampire hunter EVER. He reminded me a bit of Keitel and Rourke. The rest of their party is graced by the acting talents of horror vet Danielle Harris ("Hatchet", "Halloween" (2007), "Chrome Skull" and even played Bruce Willis's daughter in "The Last Boy Scout"), Kelly McGillis ("Top Gun")and Sean Nelson. Michael Cerveris plays a rather chilling character in the film as well.

This could possibly be the best Vampire film I've ever seen. The only thing holding it back in that department is that it is very much like a zombie film with more badass zombies. It doesn't detract from the film or the story (actually much more believable than some zombie flicks because they are a real threat here), just it's credibility as a "vampire film". Also, be warned, children are NOT off limits in the death toll which is a great way to show the destruction of innocence, but may be a total turn-off to some viewers. They went there in a way few films do.

This is one of Jim Mickle's first gigs as a director and I am VERY excited to see what he does next.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

365 Movies Day #145 "Plot Device"

Plot Device from Red Giant on Vimeo.

My wife actually pointed me in the direction of this film and I think anyone working in the industry would agree that this is a pretty cool little flick. Really these are the kinds of shorts that Robert Rodriguez wishes he was making back in the day.

Directed by Seth Worley and starring his brother Ben, "Plot Device" tells the story of a young filmmaker looking for the secret to making it big in the form of books on Looking at the "DV Rebel's Guide" by Stu Maschwitz (a book I bought, read, watched the DVD for and gave my copy of to buddy Samuel Haun) he notices something called a "Plot Device". Basically it's a machine that launches him through several different film genres.

It's clever, it's cute, it's well executed on a budget and it's definitely fun to watch for filmmakers and everyone else for that matter. Check it out! Some of the most fun you can have in 9 minutes on the internet...and for free even.


Friday, August 19, 2011

365 Movies Day #144 "The Horseman on the Roof"

My wife was fussing at me yesterday because I don't have enough romantic movies in my blog, even though I do watch and enjoy them. Sure there are a few, but as you can tell, I like dark, gritty films and a certain breed of comedy the best. So, as for more romance, enter "The Horseman on the Roof".

Now my wife isn't one to be starstruck or really even care about which actor is in what movie, but Olivier Martinez sure caught her eye. American audiences may recognize him as the villainous captive drug king in SWAT or Jolie's French Canadian counterpart in "Taking Lives". Audiences will certainly remember him as steamy love interest of Diane Lane in "Unfaithful". "Horseman on the Roof" is the film that really got Martinez noticed.

The year is 1832. Angelo (Martinez), an officer in the Italian army is on the run from Austrian police in Cholera infected France. It is there he meets Pauline, played by the incredibly talented French actress Juliette Binoche (star of the Three Colors films, "The English Patient", "Dan in Real Life"). The two fall in love, but under extraordinary circumstances that help to complicate the film's plot in a unique and intriguing way.

The film also features the talents of Paul Freeman(Beloq of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and also from previously mentioned "CENTURION" and crime comedy "Hot Fuzz")and Gérard Depardieu ("MESRINE" and many others). The film is a wonderful love story, but also has some great action and swordplay as well as slapstick humor and lighthearted fun mixed in with serious drama and dark times. An excellent, well-rounded film.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

365 Movies Day #143 "Pusher 3: I'm the Angel of Death"

Refn closes out his "Pusher" trilogy with this final chapter. Here's hoping that there will be additional films because these are cinematic gold and none of them really tie off the characters they focus on, to include this film. In every one of these films, the protagonist ends the film in the middle of a tough situation. Maybe it's just my spoiled American viewpoint, but some closure would be cool. I'm usually not a big fan of movies that leave you hanging, but for the "Pusher" films, I'll make a huge exception.

To recap Refn briefly, he was responsible for "VALHALLA RISING", "BRONSON" and, of course, the first "PUSHER" and it's sequel, "PUSHER 2: WITH BLOOD ON MY HANDS". He's probably one of the greatest living directors right now and should be on everyone's watch list. Very excited to see what he does with "Drive" starring Ryan Gosling and "Breaking Bad"'s Bryan Cranston. It will be the first film he's directed that he didn't also write, so that could impact the quality, but it looks amazing.

Just as "Pusher 2" drops Frank as a character, the third chapter doesn't have anything to do with Tonny. It focuses, instead, on the only character to be in all three films, Milo. Milo is played by played by Zlatko Buric. You may also recognize him from Roland Emmereich's "2012" and previously mentioned "DIRTY PRETTY THINGS". We do see a few familiar faces, including Kurt the Cunt and Radovan and a few others.

The film opens with Milo, the dealer who was after Frank in the first film and helped screw up Tonny's life with a bad dope deal in the sequel, in NA meetings trying to kick his habit while still dealing. He's stressed as he prepares for his daughter's 25th birthday party and there's a mix-up when he receives a shipment of ecstasy instead of heroin. I hate days like that. Anyway, Milo quickly finds himself in the middle of a situation similar to the ones Tonny and Frank faced down in the previous films...poetic justice. With his crew disabled (in a rather comic way) Milo is forced to track down his old friend Radovan for help (one of my favorite characters in the series).

This film is much more tame than the second flick up until it's 3rd act. Then stuff goes to hell and you're wondering if Takashi Miike may have stepped in to co-direct. Some of it is incredibly disturbing, but such a great story.

Anyway, I'm curious to see if the upcoming "Pusher" remake starring Zlatko Buric as Milo will hold any water. Without Refn I'm not hopeful. Also, the film was already remade once in 2010! Also the neither remake had relatively big names or huge budgets to even justify a remake. Just seems like lazy filmmaking to me.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

365 Movies Day #142 "Universal Soldier: Regeneration"

After a string of horrible sequels to the original film, it's not surprising that this film went straight to DVD with not nearly the fuss it deserved. What is surprising is that the team who put this together made one of the most badass action flicks in recent memory and a film that rivals the original.

Basically, a team of terrorists armed with the latest model of Universal Soldier in the form of Andrei "The Pitbull" Arlovski of UFC fame, is threatening to blow up Chernobyl. Unable to find any other way to take down the Pitbull with anything else (including using common troops as food for the meat grinder), the authorities are forced to bring Luc Devereaux (Van Damme) out of retirement to take on the new threat. In the process, he is also forced to confront Andrew Scott (Lundgren) who has been thawed out to assist Arlovski, only to pursue his own agenda.

The film is filled with great fight sequences including some amazing knife work by Van Damme and some phenomenal fist to cuff involving Arlovski, Lundgren, Van Damme and Mike Pyle (also of UFC fame). Pyle's character has an interesting storyline as one of the regular soldiers caught in the crossfire, however it looks like it will be scrapped for the sequel since he isn't in the cast. Van Damme pulls some of the acting tricks he learned in "JCVD" to play a deeply troubled and solemn Devereux. You really feel for him as he is forced back into action, but he hasn't lost his touch as an asswhooper. Lundgren gives one of the most chilling performances I have ever seen him give. He's actually more sinister in this than the first film and isn't in it near as long. My only complaint about this film is not enough of Lundgren. Arlovski doesn't say much but kicks a lot of butt (like Schwatzenegger in the first "Terminator") and it works.

The director of this one is John Hyams. This is one of his first features though he did some work on NYPD Blue. However, he takes after his father, Peter, in the execution of this film. We just talked about Peter the other day as the director of another Van Damme film, "SUDDEN DEATH".

Look for Hyams, Van Damme, Lundgren and Arlovski to team up again for another chapter of "Universal Soldier" soon. The film is actually complete (shot in Louisiana...and didn't call me), and will hopefully see a release in 2012. If it's anything like this one, I can't wait!!!


Improvisation and Scripted Dialogue

This video has been making the rounds a bit on facebook and it's incredibly impressive. It's hard to believe that some of these lines and scenes were completely spur of the moment. That brings me to talk a bit about improv. Once upon a time, when everything was still put on actual film, improv was rather dangerous. Film was valuable and carefully budgeted and unless you were a big Hollywood picture, improv could end up costing you a lot of money you didn't have.

Enter the digital age. Now, you can do take after long as you have the time. Time is also money and something that is critically budgeted. So how best to add improv to s scene? What are things you should consider when adding improvisation?

First, I recommend that an actor should nail what's on the paper first and THEN add the improv. Give the director at least one great take of what's in the script before you give or ask to give your own stuff. Sometimes the director will tell you just flow with it and then this may be not so important. If you are on a big set, clear any changes with the director before you start "insulting the writers". If you're a day-player, you probably just want to stick to the script.

Second, when improving, make sure you are acting within the constraints of who your character is. Everything you do or say should come from the character. Also, make sure that you aren't omitting important information to the story by changing a line or adding an exchange between characters that would affect the rest of the script. One added line or action can undermine what the author and director intended or make the scene seem awkward and out of place.

Finally, never fell bad when the director tells you they aren't happy with your interpretation. You may think you're a genius, but the director is the keeper of the vision. If they don't feel your take is what they need, they will tell you and you need to respect it. You may be right, but don't overstep your bounds as a performer and attempt to do the director's job for them. It's a good way to get replaced or lose out on future work. Your job is to bring the director's vision to life.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

365 Movies Day #141 "Pusher 2: With Blood on My Hands"

8 years after "Pusher" revealed the talented Nicholas Winding Refn to the world, the films sequel, "With Blood on My Hands" was released. To recap Refn briefly, he was responsible for "VALHALLA RISING", "BRONSON" and, of course, the first "PUSHER".

The film stars Mads Mikkelsen "VALHALLA RISING","ADAM'S APPLES", "PUSHER", reprising his surprisingly brief role in the first film. It's clear from the start that his character, Tonny, is totally unloved, unwanted and though he talks a good game (especially in his conversations with pal Frank in the first film) about how amazing he is, he gets no respect from anyone in a way Rodney Dangerfield would be sad about.

Like "Pusher" the film is filled with drugs and language for the feint of heart. It's loaded with a lot more sex though and for the ladies, a bit more of Mikkelsen than I would have liked to see. But it's all used to drive a very powerful story (these are all written by Refn by the way). You can't help feeling that this film's title is referring to those pushing Tonny, rather than those dealing dope.

The film differs from the first, in it's use of Tonny as a lead versus Frank (missing entirely from the sequel). While Frank was on top of his game and greatly respected and started a downward spiral, Tonny starts out at rock bottom and, depending on your point of view, could be turning things around. The ending is only a bit more finite than the first film's somewhat ambiguous close and you can tell they had a bit more budget to throw at the production.

The only character that makes an appearance in both films other than Tonny is Milo, played by Zlatko Buric, who is, as far as I can tell, the only character to be in all three films as the third film focuses on his character. You may also recognize him from Roland Emmereich's "2012" and previously mentioned "DIRTY PRETTY THINGS".

So far it's an amazing series, not that I expected anything less from Refn after watching "Bronson" and "Valhalla Rising". The man has such an intensely original way of telling a story that he's sure to be copied for years to come. Fantastic work and I can't wait to track down and watch all of his films. And Mikkelsen? Well he's definitely on my list of favorite actors of all time now if he wasn't before.


Monday, August 15, 2011

365 Movies Day #140 "Humans Vs. Zombies"

So it's not until film #140 that I post about a film I was actually in, but "HvZ" is worth it and I finally got to see a rough cut of it the other night. Everything I hoped it would be, which is a fun, cool zombie flick...with ME in it. I used to stay up late planning with my friends on my front porch how we would survive the zombie apocalypse...when I was 12. Romero's 3 original films were more than films to us. They were lessons in survival...and what NOT to do in case of an outbreak. We had elaborate plans and would attempt to poke holes in each others theories. So, for most of my life I have been a zed nut. Well, not a fan of them, but a fan of killing them...and not being killed or turned in the process. Enter Brian Jaynes.

A bit of backstory first. I had just lost a job in Rockdale TX after only 9 months of employment because the plant closed. I had just accepted a position with a Target Distribution Center in Tyler, TX (which turned out to be filled with deceitful, evil people and an environment that encouraged the blame game and cutting down others to get ahead...and I'm not good at that game). My agent in Austin, Heather Collier (who is amazing) hooked me up with Linda McAlister in Dallas (also amazing) so I had those bases covered, but I wanted to connect with some indy filmmakers in the Tyler area. As you can imagine, it's not a big scene, but there was this one guy who had made an amazing music video I found on myspace for a song called "Firestorm" by the Texas band The Vehicle Reason.

Great song and a great video, and director (and now long time friend) Samuel Haun lived right in Tyler. I hit him up on myspace and not long after I moved there, he and I hooked up at Starbucks and talked about plans for the future. Shortly thereafter, Sam introduced me to his friend and mentor, Brian Jaynes. Brian was in the process of pre-production for a little flick called "Boggy Creek". He and I met to discuss a script my wife and I had put together over lunch and in the process Brian and I hit it off and he gave me the role of Deputy Klein in "Boggy". I had a blast on set, shot for two days, met some amazing folks and founded some friendships that will last for a lifetime.

I must have done something right, because Brian came back and told me his next project would be a zombie film based on the college campus game Humans Vs. Zombies.

Pretty cool game and a zombie movie to boot. The lesson here is social media does work sometimes and you can meet some very cool folks who make badass movies and will put you to work on them. There are a lot of smoke blowers but they are worth dealing with for the rare gems that actually follow through with a vengeance.

So here we are, in Pittsburg, TX in December of 2010, shooting a badass zombie movie for four weeks. The premise is somewhat familiar with a zombie epidemic breaking out in a small town. The heroes are mainly college kids, some of which play the game HVZ on campus. Frank (me) is a notable exception. He's a whacked out security guard and war vet who has prepared for something like this all his life. He's kind of me...but a bit more eccentric.

My fellow leads were played by the wonderful Madison Burge (best known as Beck Sproles on the hit TV show "Friday Night Lights"), the fantastic Chip Joslin (veteran TV and indy actor with roles on shows like "Trauma", "CSI", "Cold Case", "Criminal Minds" and "Veronica Mars"), the adorable Melissa Carnell (star of Brian's first film "Boggy Creek") and relative newcomers Jesse Ferraro and Jonah Priour. In addition, we has some amazing supporting talent like Rheagan Wallace who we talked about before on "SIX STRING SAMURAI" and just came off working on "Deep in the Heart" which looks amazing and also stars Larry Jack Dotson who is also an "HVZ" cast member. And I'd be totally remiss if I didn't single out Matthew Downs who blew me away as Billy.

I don't want to give away too much of the film and I'm not sure what I can talk about regarding release and what not, except to say that if you look on the IMDB site, you can see that it will be on Chiller and I'm hearing rumblings of a theatrical release soon, but not sure of exact dates or how large. Let's just say that you won't have to search to hard to be able to see it.

In closing, I'd like to say thanks to everyone involved on the project for helping me knock out a dream of mine. I can't wait to work with ALL of you again. And a special thanks to Pittsburg for being the coolest town a film crew could ask for!!!

If you want to help support the film, click on the IMDB link, click on the actors pages, check out the videos on youtube, post them everywhere.

Check out the gamesite here:

Check out the movie's official page here:

Oh, and if you are checking this out from my facebook page, I am tagging the official facebook page in this post so go LIKE IT! Great place to follow news on the site.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

365 Movies Day #139 "The Hunted"

No, not the 2009 film with Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro. We're talking 90s action here! And who better to add to a 90s action queue than Christopher Lambert? Well there are plenty of other icons to chose from. We'ved used Jean Claude and Brian Bosworth. Of course there are Segal, Speakman, Schwartzenneger, Lundgren and a myriad of other bad hombres, but Lambert is definitely a player. Some of his films like "Highlander", "Fortress" and "Mortal Kombat" were important parts of my formative years. This film is one of his best.

Lambert plays a businessman on a trip to Japan where he meets a beautiful girl. It's love at first site until a ninja assassin shows up to kill her. In the process Lambert barely escapes with his life after seeing the assassin's face. From that point on he is marked for death and the only way to fight back is to become like the assassin with the help of a wisened ninja mentor.

The main badguy is played by John Lone ("War", "The Shadow", "The Last Emperor"). Lambert's badass mentor is played by Yoshio Harada who, unfortunately died this year. The film also stars Joan Chen ("The Last Emperor", "Twin Peaks") and James Saito (SHREDDER FROM "TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURLES: THE MOVIE"!!!). Filled with some amazing sword sequences such as Harada fending off a ninja army in the subway and the final battle between Lone and Lambert, this movie delivers all sorts of ninja goodness. Any time you get a sword in Lambert's hands it's a good thing.

Director J.F. Lawton hasn't really done much else in the directing arena, but he has written a few of the most memorable screenplays around including "Pretty Woman" and one of Segal's cooler flicks in "Under Siege".

A great way to end a 90s action film streak!


Saturday, August 13, 2011

365 Movies Day #138 "Sudden Death"

Van Damme is back on the blog, last seen playing himself in "JCVD". This time he is Darren McCord, fire security officer (and former firefighter) for the NHL Stanley Cup finals. The film was actually produced by the owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins and written by his wife. McCord quickly becomes the only man who can save everyone in the Civic Arena when terrorists led by Powers Boothe ("FRAILTY", "EXTREME PREJUDICE") kidnap the vice president and promise to blow up the Arena at the close of the game.

The big hitch is that McCord's little girl is kidnapped by the terrorists and held hostage along with the VP in the executive suite. The coolest thing about this movie, other than watching Powers Boothe play an amazing and vicious badguy (the key to 90s action), is watching Van Damme actually emote. He played a real guy forced into a bad situation. Not until JCVD did I really see this vulnerable side again. He ACTED in this film and it shows. He's actually a talented cat.

The film features veteran character actors like Raymond J. Barry as the Vice President and Michael Gaston as Boothe's computer expert. (NO it isn't Mitch Pileggi of "X-Files" and "Sons of Anarchy"...though yesterday I would have sworn by it). Director Peter Hyams gave us such action classics as Van Damme's "Timecop", Sean Connery's "Outland" and "The Presidio" and one of Tom Sizemore's only leading roles in "The Relic", not to mention Sci Fi classic "2010: The Year We Make Contact".

Between Boothe and Van Damme this film is a definite winner!


Friday, August 12, 2011

365 Movies day #137 "One Tough Bastard"

How about 3 days of 90s action? First up is "One Tough Bastard" aka "One Man's Justice". It's actually the first of three films directed by Kurt Wimmer. Wimmer was also responsible for "EQUILIBRIUM" and the much unfairly maligned "Ultraviolet" which stands next to "Fifth Element" as my favorite Mila Jovovich film. In his latest two flicks, Wimmer showed an amazing ability to manipulate the unbelievable. His use of visual effects rivals Bekmambetov. Though without his digital signature, "Bastard" is a fun ride.

The film stars Brian Bosworth, former linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks, as Sgt John North. His character is a loving father with a marriage in need of saving. He's also a DI and hand-to-hand instructor for the Army. His opening speech and demonstration to his troops is awesome. All of his fight scenes(a gift Wimmer has displayed in all three movies) are amazing to watch. When North's daughter and wife are killed in a hostage situation leaving him critically wounded (a la "The Punisher" films...but better), he sets out for justice.

The badguys in this are an assortment of well knowns. White gangsta Marcus is played by Jeff Kober, best known to me in his role as Jacob Hale Jr. on "Sons of Anarchy", though he is a consistently successful TV actor with a regular stint on "China Beach" back in the day and appearances in just about everything since. Crooked FBI agent and the true main villain of the story, Agent Savak, is played by Bruce Payne. Now if his name doesn't just scream villain, his ability to play one on a level with folks like Costas Mandylor and Michael Wincott definitely does. Payne will always be the badguy from "Passenger 57" in which he did some of the nastiest crap. He's also known for taking over for Julian Sands in the "Warlock" flicks, playing Kell in "Highlander: End Game", and his badassery earns him even a forgiveness for the "Dungeons and Dragons" movies. I mean, Jeremy Irons did them too. Finally, one of the big crime lords is played by MC HAMMER!!! He traded in the idea of not hurting them for watching those who cross him suffocate on a plastic bag. Fun stuff. "Lost" veteran (played Tom Friendly), M.C. Gainey also makes an appearance as Hank.

Now if you're looking for academy award quality, why are you watching a 90s action flick? If you want to see a cool film where big guys hurt each other, the villains are nasty, the guns are cool and the plot is a bit smarter than your average 90s action flick, then this is definitely the film for you. So many of the action movies from that time frame disappoint me now and I loved them then. "One Tough Bastard" holds up. Oh, and DeJuan Guy plays one of the toughest child ganstas I've ever seen. It's hard for a 12 year old to pull off badass next to Boz, but Guy does a good job of holding his own.

For an extra treat, see if you recognize Neal McDonough ("RAVENOUS", "Captain America", "Band of Brothers", "Minority Report") without his trademark white blond hair, OR Clifton Collins Jr. as one of the Marines. It's a trip!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

365 Movies Day #136 "Pusher"

Nicolas Winding Refn is back in the blog. First, with his 2009 visually stunning viking flick "VALHALLA RISING" and then with his prison biopic "BRONSON" from 2008. "Pusher" is the film that jumpstarted his career as his first feature back in 1996.

The film is shot in a minimalist style where the viewer is basically following around the main character. I'm not usually a big fan of that style of shooting, but with Refn and such a compelling story, it's easy to lose yourself in this film. Frank, played by Tom Sizemore clone Kim Bodnia, is a drug dealer who suddenly finds himself in way over his head. Teamed up with his long time buddy Tonny, who is played by Mads Mikkelson in his first feature, they set out to score big. Mikkelson was referenced before as the lead in Refn's "VALHALLA RISING" and "ADAM'S APPLES" and was my favorite character in the 2004 "King Arthur". Not to mention his role as the Bond villain in "Quantum of Solace".

Frank finds himself deep in debt to drug lord, baker and the most polite mobster around, Milo, played by Zlatko Buric ("DIRTY PRETTY THINGS" who actually reprises his role in the upcoming 2012 remake (yes, we have to remake every movie that has subtitles...Americans). The characters are all very real. The conversations a more casual version of Tarantino dialogue. Frank, for example, is constantly revealed to have great disdain for people very similar to himself or related to what he does. He is prejudiced against hookers (though he is a drug dealer), people who don't pay him back (though his guilt of the same crime is the catalyst for the film) and junkies (on which he depends for a living). It is apparent that at some level, he is at war with who he is. There are some revelations with Milo's knee-capper Radovan (Slavko Labovic) who states that he would like to give up being muscle to start a restaurant.

All in all, it's a great film with wonderful characterization and interaction (unusual for it's type of film). The play between Frank and his Champagne girl girlfriend, Vic (Laura Drasbæk) is fantastic based on the hypocrisy involved and the fact that Frank needs her on a level he fails to recognize...and it costs him. I can't wait to see the other two films in the trilogy! Oh, and Refn makes one of two acting appearances of his career in this film as Brian. That and many of the actors involved here are regulars on the Danish hit series "THE KILLING" which has been remade without subtitles (Americans...) as a much-lauded new series for AMC.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

365 Movies Day #135 "Streets of Fire"

I'm on a Walter Hill kick. Not only was he the director of epic films like "48 Hours", "Wild Bill", "The Warriors" and recently featured "EXTREME PREJUDICE", but as a producer he has given us such films as "DEMON KNIGHT" and Ridley Scott's original "Alien". He has a masterful way of genre mixing and creative use of action to tell interesting and original stories. "Streets of Fire" is way outside the box.

Now those of you who know me well know that I have been working on developing a rock and roll action flick that is way outside the box. The script is done. I've talked to some fantastic rockabilly artists like The Wailin' Elroys, Dave Smith Country Rebel and the Cobramatics and would love to get it off the ground soon. Having just seen "Streets" a few days ago, it's awesome to know that I think along similar (though my script is way more sci-fi) lines as someone like Hill.

Another thing, and I've mentioned this before on here, I was a huge fan of HBO's Thursday Night Prime back in the day. I looked forward to it. So I'm no stranger to Michael Pare who plays the lead in this film. Pare has done a LOT of films. He and Eric Roberts were regular staples on the HBO Thursday line-up. One of his more recent films was featured in the blog already (Uwe Boll's "RAMPAGE") and you can catch him in "The Lincoln Lawyer". One of his most famous roles was in the title role of the 1983 hit "Eddie and the Cruisers".

The rest of the cast is a who's who of folks who would become household names to film-goers everywhere. Diane Lane plays Ellen Aim, front woman for The Attackers. You should know Lane from films like "Under the Tuscan Sun" and "Unfaithful" and I was just shocked to learn she was Cherry Valance in one of my favorite flicks of all time, "The Outsiders". She was also one of the stars of the film "KILLSHOT", our #23 film. During a performance Aim is kidnapped by vampire-looking leather clad biker and leader of The Bombers, Raven, played by Willem Dafoe. With his smooth face and 20+ years taken off, it took me a second to recognize him, but as soon as he started talking it was unmistakable. I really shouldn't have to list his film credits from "Spiderman" to "The Boondock Saints" to his masterful work in Stone's masterpiece "Platoon", Dafoe is an amazing actor and always a joy to watch. This is his first time appearing in the blog.

Aim's boyfriend, semi-sleezy music producer Billy Fish, played by Rick Moranis ("Ghostbusters", "Little Shop of Horrors", "Honey I Shrunk the Kids") hires Pare (Tom Cody) a former love interest of Aim to get her back. Cody is straight up modern cowboy with his wardrobe, his attitude and his arsenal of weapons including six shooters and lever action rifles. He finds an excellent partner in McCoy, a hard-edged soldier played by actress Amy Madigan ("Field of Dreams", "Gone Baby Gone", "Grey's Anatomy"). The three set off to take down Raven and get back the girl and run into an interesting lot of characters along the way.

Also making appearance is my hero Bill Paxton ("FRAILTY", "ONE FALSE MOVE", "Aliens", "Terminator", "Predator 2", "Navy Seals", "Big Love", "Near Dark", "Commando" and a ton of other badass films. Robert Townsend (who had a bit part in "The Warriors" and will be talked about later in the blog), Deborah Van Valkenburgh ("The Warriors", "The Devil's Rejects") and Rick Rossovich ("Top Gun", "Roxanne", "Navy Seals", "Terminator", "ER") are also floating around the film.

This film is very stylized from wardrobe, to cars to setting. Even the dialogue and delivery is reminiscent of cheesy old mobster flicks. The opening tells you it will be a rock and roll fable set in another time and another place. It's fun to watch and inspiring as a piece of filmmaking. Hill always delivers and this is no exception to the rule.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

365 Movies Day #134 "Blindness"

This film by Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles is pretty difficult to watch. Not because it's a bad movie. It's a wonderful film. It's because it takes you to some very bad places that you don't want to go.

When I was working in Modern Combatives we had a takedown that involved simply covering the eyes and applying force. The target would back away from anything threatening the eyes with such speed that they would help you slam them to the floor. Some of our worst fears involve damage to the eyes. It makes me cringe. What is it that we fear? Is it not having eyes...or losing our sight.

The film begins with an epidemic disease that simply claims the victim's site. It's not fatal. It doesn't have any other complications at all. But the fear of living in darkness drives the people to quarantine all of those afflicted with little to no aid from the outside world. They are segregated to the point that anyone trying to escape will be shot.

There are a few familiar faces to the blog beginning with the first victim of the disease played by Yûsuke Iseya (Koyata from "13 ASSASSINS"). Sandra Oh ("DEFENDOR") who most would recognize from "Grey's Anatomy" also makes an appearance.

The film stars Mark Ruffalo, a favorite actor of mine who will be taking over for Ed Norton as Bruce Banner in the upcoming "Avengers" flick. You'll hear more about him later. Ruffalo plays a doctor who is stricken with the disease. His wife, played by the lovely Julianne Moore ("30 Rock", "Hannibal", "Boogie Nights") is not afflicted but pretends to be to accompany her husband. Danny Glover and Alice Braga ("Predators") round out the cast and Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal plays a chilling bastard in this one.

Once locked in on their own, many of the diseased are struggling with new found fear and feelings of inadequacy (Ruffalo included). Moore is gifted as the only person in the facility capable of actually seeing. Which, when things turn south is also somewhat of a boon. Struggling to form some sort of organization amongst themselves to maintain order, some (Bernal) take it upon themselves to use violence and coercion to get what they want. What ensues is a deeply disturbed criticism of the darkness that lurks within man in the vein of Robert Kirkman's "Walking Dead". The characters are put through horrors and face things that will have you hurting for them and wondering how much of what is depicted would be factual if the events actually occurred. It's scary and it's a well done flick.


Monday, August 8, 2011

365 Movies Day #133 "The Duellists"

Director Ridley Scott had only made one feature prior to giving the world "Alien" in 1979 and "Blade Runner" in 1982 and that was "The Duellists". It's a period piece set in the Napoleonic Wars where due to a perceived slight two French officers entangle in a lifelong feud and a series of duels that may destroy them both. Apparently based on a trues story captured as a short story by Joseph Conrad.

The hero of our story is gentile French officer D'Hubert, played by Keith Carradine (brother of Robert and half-brother to David). Carradine has had an epic career in television and film including roles on Walter Hill's (director of "EXTREME PREJUDICE") "Wild Bill" (in the title role), HBO's "Deadwood", Frank Lundy on "Dexter", "Cowboy's and Aliens" and Tarantino's forthcoming Western). His nemesis in the film is played by Harvey Keitel. Keitel did this film 2 years after his famous role in the film "Taxi Driver" and years before working on another role that would make him famous in the form of "Reservoir Dogs". The rest of his film credits are an amazing list of flicks including "Pulp Fiction" (The Wolf), "The Piano" and "Copland". Surprisingly, this is his first time being featured in the blog. The supporting cast is made up of veteran British actors such as Robert Stephens, Edward Fox, Diana Quick, Alun Armstrong, John McEnery and Scotsman Tom Conti.

There are some great sword battles in this and a tension that holds through the entire film. The ending is intriguing and delivers in an unexpected way. What a wonderful way for a world-class director to enter the world of feature film.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

365 Movies Day #132 "Extreme Prejudice"

Walter Hill is a legend. He directed some of the coolest flicks around including "48 Hours", "Red Heat", "The Warriors" and "Last Man Standing", but this film may be his best. The film is about childhood friends who grow up to find themselves on the opposite side of the law with a rogue special forces team caught in the middle.

Our hero is played by Nick Nolte (who should need no introduction) and his wayward pal is played by Powers Boothe (who should also need no introduction, but we last talked about him in "FRAILTY" and we are sure to hear about him again). Michael Ironside ("THE MACHINIST" and a host of other films) plays the leader of the special ops team with members played by Clancy Brown (The Kurgan from "The Highlander"), William Forstythe ("THINGS TO DO IN DENVER WHEN YOU"RE DEAD")and Larry B. Scott (Lamar from "Revenge of the Nerds"). Of course, there's a girl caught between the two enemies played by Maria Conchita Alonso ("Running Man" and "Predator 2") and actor Rip Torn ("Men in Black" and "BEYOND THE LAW" plays Nolte's partner. Oh, and Tiny Lister is there as well ("Fifth Element", "BONE DRY","THINGS TO DO IN DENVER WHEN YOU"RE DEAD").

The film is a gritty modern western that culminates in one of the coolest gun battles ever captured on screen. It's basically the perfect Walter Hill flick. I'd love to do something like this one of these days.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

365 Movies Day# 131 "Samurai Cop"

This film is so horrible it's fantastic. This, so far, is the only movie I have featured that is unintentionally horrid and the only one that I haven't seen in it's entirety. "Samurai Cop" is so craptastic it will leave you in stitches.

Whether it's because of wonderful teleprompter acting:

Or scenes that make you wonder if the rest of the film is actually a bad porno:

Or chillingly amazing action sequences:

Brought to you by Iranian director Amir Shervan (who passed in 2006), and starring the talents of mainly no one who would ever work in legitimate film, there isn't a lot to talk about cast wise. Well, except Bobby Z'Dar! For those who don't know Z'Dar duked it out with Stallone in "Tango and Cash" and was the title role in all the "Samurai Cop" movies. Also, fellow "GI JOE" veteran, Gerald Okamura (he played Hard Master) graces the film and was also in flicks like "Big Trouble in Little China" and Chuck Norris' "The Octagon".

I can't wait to find this movie and watch the whole thing. I'm usually not into bad movies, but this is just too much!!!


Friday, August 5, 2011

365 Movies Day# 130 "Pioneer"

PIONEER - Trailer from David Lowery on Vimeo.

Life is interesting, especially when you are trying to do something as ludicrous as Texas no less. There are a lot of people out there calling themselves filmmakers and only a minority truly are making anything worth watching. Every time you sign on to something it's a gamble with a small chance of a true pay off. I've learned not to expect a lot, but occasionally I am epically surprised at the folks I get to work with.

Awhile back (about a year ago), I got a message from director James Johnston about coming out and helping for one day on his latest short endeavor "Knife". Now, in many ways I live under a rock when it comes to the local film scene. With a work schedule and kids and all that excitement it's hard to break away for every film event and mixer in the area, especially when you have the viewpoint I expressed above. I didn't know James, but the idea of coming out and working with fantastic local actor Charles Baker (Skinny Pete from "Breaking Bad" and also a big player in one of Malick's upcoming flicks) was too tempting. My shoot was brief, but I was impressed with Johnston, his crew, Baker and fellow actors Frank Mosley and Matt Socia. Good times.

Well a year goes by and I get an invite to go to the premier last night where "Knife" would be showing along with a group of other shorts and projects presented by Johnston and company. I almost didn't go. I've become a bit disillusioned of late. Frank Mosley shot me a message on facebook and told me I better be there so I went. I'm so glad I did. Now, you'll probably hear more about "Knife" down the road (it was wonderful), but first up I want to rave about another project I got to see for the first time last night that Johnston was a part of..."Pioneer".

Directed by David Lowery and starring wonderfully talented Will Oldham and the adorable Myles Brooks, this film is amazing. What is so wonderful about it, besides the fact that it's absolutely beautiful cinematography, is that it's simply a father, telling his son a bedtime story. That's it. But the story he tells is son is so epic and moving and the connection between the two is so endearing that it will move even the hardest of hearts. It's also rare in big budget Hollywood productions to find good child actors and Lowery and company struck cinematic gold with Brooks who is totally believable and so cute you just want to reach out and hug him. Oldham has a very Giamatti feel to him and connects to Brooks in a way that is so authentic and touching that I don't think anyone could have done it better. And if that description isn't enough to move you to find a viewing of it near you, it was also an official selection at Sundance this year.

So glad I went to the screening and so excited that folks like Lowery and Johnston are working here in my area. Truly talented filmmakers are hard to find and these guys are it!



Thursday, August 4, 2011

365 Movies Day #129 "Idiocracy"

Here's an underrated one from Texas director Mike Judge. If you're living under a rock, you may not realize that this is the guy that gave us Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill and Office Space. This movie comes to mind regularly when I am in Wal-Mart, reading youtube comments or reading people's political opinions on facebook.

Judge explores a comical, but strangely plausible future where intelligent people are vastly outnumbered by morons who populate their kind like jackrabbits. It has some self-inflicted Harrison Bergeron aspects to it. The hero of our story is an average guy (Luke Wilson)who gets put into cryo sleep in the present and awakens in the dumbed down future. Judge's picture of the future is incredibly comical...and scarey.

Terry Crews ("HARSH TIMES", "The Expendables") plays President Camacho, a pro wrestler who makes most important decisions with monster truck battles and the help of his idiot cabinet. Dax Shepard plays Wilson's guide through the new America...and Costco...where he got his law degree. Some fun performances from Maya Rudolph, Thomas Hayden Church ("DEMON KNIGHT") and Justin Long as well.

Filled with Carl's Jr. marketing techniques, Gatorade induced droughts and a new take on Fuddruckers, "Idiocracy" has everything to keep you entertained, though at some points I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

The opening sequence will tell you everything you need to know:


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

365 Movies Day #128 "Bronson"

It's been a bit since we talked about Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn. His last film to hit the blog was "VALHALLA RISING". "Bronson" is more proof that Refn may be one of the most innovative narrative director's around. His storytelling is way outside the box. It's not weird in a Lynch sort of way. It's just so unlike anything else out there.

"Bronson" is the story of real life British inmate Michael Peterson, who, in trying to create a bigger persona for himself takes the name of Charles Bronson (who's tougher than Harmonica or Paul Kersey?). What makes the film interesting is the way the story is told which is partly to do with the writing (done partly by Refn), partly with the outstanding choices in direction and partly with the phenomenal performance of Tom Hardy. Now before I go into any more detail on Rafn's directing let me digress into Hardy.

Hardy got his start on "Band of Brothers" and like so many other talented young male actors these days is a veteran of "Black Hawk Down". I mean the cast from that film includes blog vets like William Fitchner, Kim Coates and Johnny Strong (plus my "Transformers" brother-in-arms Glenn Morshower and talents like Orlando Bloom, Hugh Dancy, Jeremy Piven, Sam Shepherd, Eric Bana, Ewan McGregor, Josh Hartnett, Tom Sizemore and Ioan Gruffudd). Fast forward a few years and Hardy is on board one of my favorite Guy Ritchie flicks, "Rock N Rolla". He did "Bronson" in 2008. Then he semi-exploded in "Inception" as the debonaire and enjoyable Eames. Now he's going to be going head to head with Batman in Nolan's last installment of the series and looks to be the front-runner to play the title role in the Mad Max remake.

Anyone worried about Bane in the new Batman flick can rest assured that with Hardy on board it will be remarkable.

So, how is this story so amazing. Well first of all it's true. But heck, So was "MESRINE". Secondly, it's a near constant breech of the fourth wall where Bronson tells us his story directly in between dramatizations of the events. It's really this (and the way his presentations are made) that make the film so revolutionary. Breaking the fourth wall is usually reserved for Shakespeare and comedies. It's amazing to see it so effectively built into a film that is so intense and it's use conveying such a powerful feeling of madness. Add in a remarkable yet primarily undiscovered cast headed by Hardy and supported by folks like Gordon Brown (Hagen from "Valhalla Rising") and Matt King (who worked with Hardy on "Rock N Rolla").

It's hard to explain how refreshing it is without having you see the film. You can pick up some of it in the trailer, but you should definitely watch this and "VALHALLA RISING" and you'll be an instant Refn fan!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

365 Movies Day #127 "The Promethean"

The Promethean from Kohl Glass on Vimeo.

Another nod to filmmaker Kohl Glass for his first short film, "The Promethean". We talked about another of Kohl's fantastic shorts awhile back in the form of "DER OSTWIND".

The short is a stunningly clever take on the ancient Greek legend of Prometheus. In the legend, the titan gave the gift of fire to mankind. Zeus was so angry that he punished Prometheus with the same painful death every day (in this case, having his liver torn out and eaten by a giant Eagle...though he is eventually rescued by Hercules). I'll let you watch the film to see Kohl's take.

The film features a few noteworthy actors like Chris Kendrick, who played Sergeant Meldrum in the previously mentioned "SAINTS AND SOLDIERS". Also Patrick Rosier, who plays Kratos in this film, was the American pilot in Kohl's follow-up short "Der Ostwind".

Hop over and check out the flick and tell me what you think!


Monday, August 1, 2011

365 Movies Day #126 "The Warrior's Way"

Another Asian Western...if you can call it Asian. Korean director and newcomer Sngmoo Lee directs an international cast including top notch actors like Brit Geoffery Rush ("The King's Speech", "Pirates of the Carribean") and the worldly Danny Huston (previously mentioned "THE PROPOSITION", "Wolverine: Origins") and the lovely American Kate Bosworth. It's also the first English language film for the film's star and Korean actor Dong-gun Jang.

Strangely reminiscent of Tim Burton's "Big Fish", this film boasts the effects talents of the folks responsible for "Lord of the Rings". It's about a top assassin (Jang)in Korea who leaves his clan behind to rescue a small baby. Coming to America to get as far from his new enemies as possible, he ends up hiding out in a town full of circus performers. It's there he meets Rush (a drunk with a past) and Bosworth(a knife thrower without much knack for it). Things go well until Huston shows up as the leader of a band of nasty outlaws with wonderfully stylized outfits. Huston is so nasty in this and goes out with one of the best last lines of any villain in any movie ever! He exudes nasty in this film and a different kind than the menacing psychopath he played in "The Proposition". It's not long before the rogue warrior's clan shows up culminating in an epic battle of ninja versus cowboy versus circus performer. Yep, that's the deal.

The movie doesn't take itself incredibly seriously and neither should you. It's fun, funny, quirky, sweet, badass and visually stunning. The costuming and grandious visuals and shots are definitely worth the watch alone. The Asian western is definitely a wonderful new genre and Lee has left his mark.