20 March 2010

The Car

From my youth…

When a mysterious, driverless black sedan begins running people down in a small Southwestern town, new sheriff Wade Parent (James Brolin) must find out who -- or what -- is behind the killings. What he uncovers is a truth more terrifying than anyone expected. Is it pure evil? This cult horror classic from director Elliot Silverstein also features Kathleen Lloyd, R. G. Armstrong and John Marley.
I saw this as a kid and it scared me. Now it's just campy fun. Before Christine, there was the Car. This would be a worthwhile remake.

The Seven-Ups

Another film with an amazing car chase, I only rented this because Cinemassacre recommended it. But it actually turned out to be a smart plot, with some good character acting. The chase scene was just icing.

Icing I tell you.

Another 1970s film, done in the style of French Connection and Bullit. But with it's own voice.

As for the chase — they add a few little tricks during the chase you've never seen before. Check it out.

Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)

Not the Bruckheimer piece of nonsense. The original, when car chases were car chases and 70s films tried things that hadn't been done before.

Here's all you need to know…

Maindrian Pace (H.B. Halicki, who also directed) and his cohorts race to steal 48 cars in a week, which will net them $250,000 if they succeed. But the group runs into trouble trying to jack a Mach 1 Mustang, and the cops chase Pace through seven counties. The basis for the 2000 film starring Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie, this 1974 original has become a cult classic thanks to the wild, 40-minute car chase that concludes the film.
I'm not really going to say anything else about this movie. 40-minute car chase.

And you never get bored.

Saw it when I was a kid. I forgot how good it was.

The Big Empty

I rented this because of the title. No other reason. I get sucked in by verbiage with my word fetish. So a title that's evocative can really grab me. Sadly, the title refers to a big empty lake bed near Baker, California where both the world's largest thermometer and the world's smallest movie budgets collide.

I'm going to keep this short, because it's not a noteworthy film (a little fun), but I have a lot more movies to write about.

The characters are smart, the events unreal, and the main character as interesting as Favreau can be when he's phoning it in. But it's a good little Sunday afternoon movie.

19 March 2010

All the King's Men

A movie, based on a play, based on a novel, based loosely on a real politician but in no way a political story… whew. How can you make this kind of a movie without confusing the audience? And then cast Brits as Louisiana socialites?

You can, but I think the end result is very very muddy. Which is sad, because the book is considered among the greatest works of the 20th century.

Sean Penn is always good. James Gandolfini as a southern boy is weird. Patricia Clarkson is flawless, as usual. Jude Law is meh (but he's always meh). Kate Winslet is my muse. The rest of the cast is forgetable. Even Sean Penn is kind of a dead fish in this, and I think it's among the best of his generation... if not THE best.

Flightplan

What was I doing renting and watching this thing?

What a travesty of film-making.

Absolute drek.

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles

Zhang Yimou always finds a way by the end of a movie to kick you in the junk and make your ache. For fans of this reaction, this film does not disappoint. While Not One Less was a little more compelling and stirring, it lacks the Father-Son issues that can make movie-watching very hard for anyone with say… a father-son issue.

Very famous Japanese actor Ken Takakura stars as a father who has just learned his son is dying from cancer. While the two have not spoken in years, the father leaves Japan to visit China where he looks to film the production of a great opera (of the same title as the movie) performed by it's greatest actor.

In trying to film the performance, Takakura must travel hundreds of miles across China (unable to speak Chinese by the way) to gather up the discordant ingredients of the plot. This is mostly contrived to parallel the plot of the movie to the plot of the very popular Chinese Opera… but it doesn't matter. Because the journey is really where we get to know Takakura in a way that only a Chinese director filming a very terse and quiet Japanese man could.

Zhang is in his element here, drawing less on his historical epics and more on his knowledge of backwater China. The characters are real people. The Chinese supporting cast are kind and ingratiating to their foreign visitor. All of the ingredients for a sad and quixotic story are there. While it's not even close to being his best movie, but it's still better than what you'll see in an American movie theater.

Food Matters

This one is part food, part nutrition, and part "holy crap!"

Maybe the best and most important of all the food documentaries. I know I say that every time, but I changed some eating habits overnight after watching and researching this one.

The Future of Food

Another in a long line of GREAT food documentaries. I wish someone would compile all the key information from the these documentaries into one 15-minute short for schools and so on.

This is a must watch.