Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Time further wasted

Saturday night, I bought a ticket for Play Misty for Me at the New Beverly. The lady after me had trouble finding the rest of her money for a ticket. I offered to pay the rest of it, even though I didn't know her, but it seemed like the right thing to do. I don't know. Anyway, she declined the offer, thanking me anyway and she ended up finding her money. We ended up next to each other in the waiting line, where she then pulled out her iPhone and started blowing on it while tapping the screen and the fuckin' thing started playing like a flute. Me, I roll with a phone that is a half-notch away from a pay-as-you-go, so my reaction is Jesus Christ, We're Living In The Fucking Future and the lady turned to me and said that she plays the flute as well as the ocarina. I never knew what the fuck an ocarina was until I played that Zelda game on the Nintendo 64.

Anyway, we chatted for a bit and she was very nice and somewhere along the way I find out her late husband was Richard Sylbert. If you don't know who Richard Sylbert is, then you just don't fuckin' know. He was the production designer for Chinatown, Reds, The Manchurian Candidate, Dick Tracy, Carlito's Way, big films, huge films and he won Oscars for his work. So of course, my mind blanked out and the only Sylbert-designed movie I could think of was The Bonfire of the Vanities. She didn't seem to mind, though, she smiled and said that the preferred title between her and her husband was Bonfire of the Inanities and we talked about that for a while. She then went inside to speak to Michael about maybe programming a double-bill of flicks featuring Sylbert's work. Anyway, the movie was good and it was cool to see fuckin' Dirty Harry of all people get spooked out by a lady, which sounds kinda weird, but when you realize that the lady is none other than Lucille Bluth herself, it makes perfect sense.

The next day I returned and as I walked down one of the residential streets en route to the New Beverly Cinema, I passed a young girl holding a beach ball. She looked across the street at two similar-aged boys; "Would you PLEASE leave, fun-sucker? Me and my friend want to play ball!" She sounded genuinely annoyed, but most women are born actresses and the two boys were laughing, so it probably wasn't serious. Can it ever be serious when the term "fun-sucker" is being used?

I was there to watch two films based on a couple of Parker novels by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake's alter ego); Point Blank and The Outfit. Inside, I took one of the New Bev calenders and placed it on my seat so I could get my fat ass some snacks. I've seen people do this before and it seemed to work as a seat-claimer when they did it, but apparently not when I do it, because when I came back, some Steven Soderbergh-looking motherfucker took my place, the calender having been tossed aside to the next seat. Serves me right. I didn't hate on Steven Soderbergh for taking my seat, but when some dude came up to him and cheerily asked if he was ready to watch Lee Marvin, the guy shook his head, causing the guy to walk away defeated, or as defeated as a guy can be while still loudly making trumpet/whistling noises to the pre-show music. At that point, I really wanted to karate chop Soderbergh in his fuckin' neck and give him legitimate reason to be a dick, but I let it slide instead.

Point Blank has a pretty funny/cool way to intro; as our star suddenly takes a couple slugs -- BANG BANG -- Lee Marvin's name and the title pop up with each gunshot. Marvin plays a badass motherfucker by the name of Walker who gets double-crossed by his partner Mal after a job. He should've known better than to trust that dude, because that back-stabber (or is that back-shooter) is played by that bad John Vernon. Walker's left for dead, comes back from near death, hooks up with some shady underworld guy and goes out not for revenge, not to get his wife back (she shacked up with Mal), but just to get his cut of the loot from the robbery. Along the way Keenan Wynn, Archie Bunker, Doogie Howser's dad, and Angie Dickinson show up. You may have liked Point Blank more the first time you saw it, when it was called Payback, but that's because Payback came out in '99 and Point Blank came out in '67 so you probably watched the newer one first and god forbid you watch some old shit.

But as fun as the one with the Jew Hater was, this one's definitely got a lot more shit going on in the style and technique department. I don't know whose idea it was (I'm guessing it came from the director), but this rather straightforward story is told in a matter that is anything but. There's a lot of non-linear editing for the first third, and even after that, there's a lot of cool cutting during scenes that serve as both flashbacks and just plain awesome ways to get a point across. One example is when Walker is in the middle of giving some dude the business, and as they have this heated back-and-forth, the movie itself has a little heated back-and-forth as it cuts to a conversation had between the two long ago. The words of the past are haunting the actions of the present.

It takes a real genius to make a movie like this, and I'm not talking about Val Kilmer, I'm talking about the director of Point Blank. He's some English motherfucker who also used his crazy skills to make some classic flicks like Excalibur, Hope and Glory, and the one where Ned Beatty gets butt-raped. On the other hand, there's Zardoz and The Exorcist II: Electric Boogaloo. I mean, say what you want about those movies (I dug 'em), but it's obvious the guy behind them put a lot of fuckin' thought and ideas into them, wrongheaded or otherwise. The movie's style gives the proceedings a very dreamy feel, I think. The cutting to certain shots and images also sometimes makes things appear like we're being given entrance into Walker's mindset, like we're seeing random memories pop up while he's doing his thing. In addition to the editing, there's also some really cool shot composition here; I understand the real Steven Soderbergh (not the asshole at the New Bev) does a commentary on the DVD and I'm not surprised. You could see a lot of shit here that may have influenced the guy, who I guess was taking copious notes on this flick in between jerking off to Richard Lester movies.

There's also this part where Walker storms into a house where he thinks Mal is staying at. He storms in, slams the bedroom door open and immediately fires six bullets into the empty bed. People laughed in the theater when he did that, and I'm not sure where they're coming from. Me, I thought it was pretty fuckin' awesome; I mean, you can say it looks ridiculous because Walker should've noticed after the first gunshot that no one is on that bed, and I think he did know. It's just that this guy had so much pent-up revenge in him, he had to get that nut off -- metaphorically speaking, of course. It's like he had to scratch that trigger-pulling itch BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM and then it's like, OK, I got that off my chest, now I can think more clearly about just getting my money. Besides, once you shoot one, you might as well shoot the remaining five -- any John Woo movie will teach you that.

The violence in this movie is mostly of the old-fashioned variety; no squibs, no blood, people get all stiff when they're shot before falling over -- and yet it manages to still feel pretty harsh. People get glass bottles smashed against their faces, Marvin gives one poor sap the nutshot to end all nutshots during a scrap, and even tough-guy Marvin takes a pool cue to the head that other fake movie tough-guys would shake off, but goddammit, Marvin keeps it real and stumbles around for a bit as he tries to regain his bearings. You have all these underworld shenanigans going on and sometimes it spills out into the world of regular, everyday people just trying to go about their lives. Some asshole falls off a building, and shortly after the cops and paramedics show up, the movie cuts to some of the onlookers; there's a trio of women and one has her face buried into her friend's shoulder refusing to look, the second is sobbing her eyes out at the sight of the dead asshole, and the third just stares at him like it ain't no thing. I felt bad for the old lady who just about ran over the body; she's just trying to get home to watch whatever the 60's equivalent to Matlock was and next thing she knows, some naked piece-of-shit lands in front of her automobile. Now she's in need of consoling from her fellow Golden Girl. Man, if she only knew what a scumbag this scumbag was, maybe she'd spare the tears.

At one point, Angie Dickinson goes off on Marvin by beating the shit out his chest with her fists in that cute way only girls could get away with. She goes on and on and Marvin just stands there taking every hit like a fuckin' champ. Finally, she gets completely spent, and drops to the floor. Watching that reminded me of past relationships and past arguments, or should I say, one-sided arguments because I had no idea what they were pissed about. In retrospect, I should've just told them to stop talking and beat their frustrations out on me. Just get all of it out. I'd take a minute of physical pain over the 2 or 3 days of that lovely, lovely guessing game known as You Know What You Did.

I know like 3 other dudes wrote the script for this and I understand the screenplay is the most important part of the movie and that the only thing that could make a screenplay even better is that if there wasn't a director or actors to fuck up it's beauty and that they shouldn't even call it Best Picture at the Oscars, they should call it Best Example of Morons Not Fucking Up The Written Greatness. I know all this. But god-DAMN if there was ever an example of a director elevating the material (which according to many a screenwriter is impossible, never has happened and never will) this fucking movie is Example Number One. 43 years later, everything still holds up -- except for that ridiculous shot of that guy falling to his death. That shit may have been impressive back in '67, but that shit just brings the hard laughs nowadays.

Sometimes the audience will battle for your attention, that is, if you are me. Some guy with a Joe Spinell vibe about him (despite being in a tennis shirt and the kind of shorts that scream Eventual Testicle Peekage) sat in front of me and I guess decided to spend the duration of the film trying to beat his previous record for Most Fidgety Man In The World. Lots of shifting, leaning forward, brushing hair, folding arms, etc. He never stopped moving, this guy; you'd think he was attending Catholic mass service with all the sitting down and leaning forward. I wondered to myself if this is what it would be like to have Michael J. Fox sit in front of you at a movie theater. There was also a guy to my left who had a very distinct laugh that sounded like EH! EH! EH! EH! and came off like the kind of laugh that would precede a power drill going into your skull while your muffled screams barely echo throughout the basement in which you are being kept. He also stomped his feet and clapped his hands when he particularly dug something. I also noticed a skinny guy with his bare feet up on the seat in front of him, until I realized he was actually a girl with very short hair, so I guess that makes it OK.

Between films, I had to get rid of all that Cherry Coke and on the way to the restroom I saw Phil Blankenship talking to Marc Heuck from the Nuart. Both do the midnight movie thing at their respective theaters, and being a patron of both, I've noticed differences in their way of asking the audience to shut off their cell phones/electronic devices for the duration of the film. Phil's tone is "Please don't be an asshole" while Marc's is more like "Stop being assholes for at least two hours, then when the movie is over you can go back to being assholes again because I know you're assholes".

I know there's a second film to talk about, but I'm just too tired now, so I'm just going to end it with a story about meeting the director. The Outfit, was directed by the late John Flynn, who also directed Rolling Thunder, Defiance, and Out for Justice. In other words, he fuckin' rules. I met the guy back in '02 at a screening of Rolling Thunder; and he was one of the few people I actively tried to get an autograph from. Off the top of my head, the only movie people I went out of my way to get an autograph were Flynn, Christopher Walken, Walter Hill and Christina Lindberg. I have a lot more book-writing motherfuckers that I asked to sign shit like Hubert Selby Jr. and Sarah Vowell, to name a couple.

Anyway, I was going to go to the screening with my old Vestron VHS of Rolling Thunder and try to get him to sign it and that's when I remembered that I let a friend borrow it. Because I'm an idiot. Sure enough, I called that motherfucker and that motherfucker was in Texas and wasn't due back for another month. God damn. So I ended up bringing my DVD of Lock Up because he directed that one too and I went over to him following the screening and did the douchey fanboy thing by running off at the mouth in the same manner that I write these things. He signed the Lock Up DVD for me and he (along with Thunder co-writer Heywood Gould) looked pleasantly surprised that I brought that movie, I suppose in the same manner that one would be pleasantly surprised that the mentally ill child in the room didn't eat the paste for once. I explained my situation about my Rolling Thunder VHS though and they did a good job pretending to give a shit.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

So far, this movie theater line had the most Assholes-Honking-Their-Horns-As-They-Drove-By per hour

The downside to waiting in line alone is that you're waiting in line alone; the time is slower because you have no one to bounce off of with inane chatter. I understood that a couple of my Twitter friends were somewhere there but to go up and say Hi would mean Death -- death of dignity (due to my inherent doucheyness) and death of cowardly anonymity (that allows me to talk all the shit I talk). You did not invite anyone because you went last minute, and hence, must deal with the consequences. Hello, ladies and gentlemen -- this is me rambling about Birdemic: Shock and Terror at the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax in Los Angeles in California in the United States of America on Planet Earth in the Solar System of the Milky Way. I don't know what to call the fuckin' place, that's why.

In line, I kept myself entertained by counting the porkpie hats and skinny jeans in the crowd; one unfortunate soul apparently was born without ass or hips, as his back pockets lined up with the back of his knees it seemed. For the record, I'm fat and ugly and badly dressed. A group of people behind me were worried for their friend; this cute girl came along with them without having gotten a ticket yet, so she went over to the ticket booth with the SOLD OUT sign and told Ticket Guy her situation. She told him that if she couldn't come in, then she'd have to cool her heels outside for at least 90 minutes because her friends drove her here. The ticket guy's response, according to her, was "Well, you can wait in the car". All hope seemed lost for Ms. No Ticket, until an employee/volunteer came along, dressed up like Randal from Clerks. He had a guest list on his clipboard along with a bunch of passes, and he gave her one so she could watch the movie with her buddies. Randal was a hero, a true mensch, I'd like to think. I'd like to think it's just the Cinefamily thing to do. But there's also the goddamned cynic in me that fears if the cute girl had a dick and a gut she'd probably be assed out.

I hadn't been to the Silent Movie Theatre for a long while, December '08, to be more specific. It was an all-night marathon of movies hosted by Nicky Katt, who I'm guessing won't be around any time soon to do more of them because all 3 of his shindigs were sparsely attended, once again proving that we as a people are assholes -- or busy. Like the New Beverly, it's a supercool and friendly place, the kind of place with a barbecue grill in the back patio and free beer. Sure enough, SMT volunteers/employees would pace the aisles with buckets handing out free Pabst Blue Ribbon (official Hipster beverage!) to anyone who wanted one. I managed to get two because I'm a greedy drunk.

One PBR hander-outer was kinda doing the hot-dog-vendor-at-a-game thing, calling out to anyone within yelling distance if they wanted a beer -- "Free beer, killer birds, it's the night of your life!". Another employee/volunteer carrying around the beer bucket was a girl wearing a jacket over her flower-print dress and calf-length boots; I had designated her as my imaginary girlfriend for the night, meaning every time she passed by, I'd smile at her like we had a connection and she would smile back like OK Creepo, Please Stop It.

Birdemic was a movie made by James Nguyen, a software salesman who was probably making a pretty good living until he decided to complicate matters by following his dream or some bullshit like that. He made a couple movies prior to this one and Tippi Hedren was in one of them, which made me sad to hear for some reason. But yeah, he made this movie about birds attacking the shit out of people for fucking with the environment, and he would've been the first to make a movie out of a retarded idea like that if it wasn't for that fat motherfucker Alfred Hitchcock beating him to it. What an asshole -- oh look at me, I made Vertigo! Whatever. Anyway, he made this movie for super cheap and fed the cast & crew sandwiches from 7-11 and somewhere along the way Tim and Eric found something to cherish and champion in this piece of shit movie and I guess that's how we all know about this flick.

The opening consists of Windows Movie Maker-style credits playing over endless Torgo-style driving shots (including one from inside the car, shot at a titled angle that I don't believe was intended) and an equally endless music loop. There's a composer credited in this flick and I guess his job was to come up with 8-second ditties every once in a long while. The camera work is something else; if there's a scene that could be overexposed, this motherfucker is overexposing the shit out of it. Half the time people look like they're living in a radiated area. Fuckin' Chernobyl-Vision. Later on, the cinematographer shows up as a dead body, his eyes plucked out by the birds -- which I guess explains the look of the film.

These motherfuckers must love them some dolly shots, because every other shot features the camera dollying from left-to-right or right-to-left and you bet your sweet ass that shit is shaking/vibrating while doing it. It's like Michael Bay got a stroke and tried to direct even though the studio was like "No Bay, don't do it, you're not yourself!" and he was all "FFFFuuuuuck all yoooush peeeeople...IIIII ammmmmmMMMIIchael B-aaayyyy!" and then he drooled and shit himself and this is why I want my family to pull the plug if I ever end up like that; be the Chief Bromden to my McMurphy if I ever get all Schivo'd out. Anyway, half of these shots go on forever. Forever. FOR-EV-ER. Shit, forget about stroked-out Michael Bay, it's more like fuckin' cracked-out Theo Angelopoulos was helming this shit.

The guy who intro'd the movie mentioned the lead hero of the movie, about how his performance seemed to consist of concentrating very hard on every movement he made and every line-reading he gave, and he's right. Poor guy does a bad job in the acting department, and I felt really bad watching him. I know I'm here to laugh at a shitty movie, but shit like that makes me think about how that guy probably wanted to be an actor all his life and the motherfucker now has a 90-minute reason why he should just give it up. I still laughed, though, so whatever. The girl, I like her, she's very cute and she might even be a pretty decent actor or maybe it seems that way compared to the tree stump she's bouncing lines off of. Their characters sat a few seats away from each other in high school and one day they bump into each other. They do the get-to-know-you thing and they find out/we find out that he's now working in some shit cubicle making million-dollar sales and working on billion-dollar gigs, while she's a fashion model who does high-profile gigs at the local 1 Hour Photo joint.

There's also a best friend character who looks like Paul Rudd and John Cusack got it the fuck on and somehow managed to impregnate one or the other. He's all about sex, and at one point, to show he's ecstatic about some billion-dollar sale his company made, he shakes his chair in a manner that looks like he's about to stick his dick in it right then and there. But luckily for him, he won't have to because he's got a girlfriend with a froggy voice who's down to party and has a thing for; she's either wearing a shirt promoting that shit or she's got an Imagine Peace sign behind her if she's just in her underwear. In case you didn't get it yet, the composer decides to dabble in leitmotifs for a bit by playing an instrumental knockoff of John Lennon's Imagine every time she and Rudd/Cusack show up. I also think the director is trying to tell us something, but I'm not sure what it is.

So our two leads, they do their thing; they eat at a Vietnamese joint (one typically extended shot slooooowly pans across a mural inside the restaurant, prompting the audience to chant GO GO GO like those mo-fos do during any Golden Gate Bridge shot in The Room), and later they go to an empty bar and do the goofiest of Goofy White People Dances while Damien Carter sings to them and at the end of the scene suddenly AHHH! there's people on the dance floor with them and you're like What The Fuck? Then they go to some cheap motel and do the Devil's business, which consists of rubbing their feet against each other while macking out. The next morning, birds attack the town.

I don't know if I mentioned anything about the birds, but yeah, killer birds attack. It's my favorite scene actually; it's a series of quiet shots of the town, each slowly dissolving into the next, until finally fading to black. Suddenly it fades back in and now it's motherfuckin' Bird Carnage (carnage caused by birds) currently-in-progress; we get a beautiful wide shot of shitty GIF-animations hovering over the small town, wreaking Bird Havoc and some of these birds must've been with the avian chapter of Al-Qaeda or something because they'll swoop in and kamikaze themselves and EXPLODE. Some of the birds have apparently mated with the Alien Queen because at one point, fuckin' acid is introduced into the mix. You think you had a bad day because a bird shat on your car? Try having a group of them shoot a gallon of acid into your faccia. Goddamn. These birds are in it to fuckin' win it.

Upon entrance to the theater, each of us was given a wire hanger with a Birdemic ad on one side and the Severin Films logo on the other. I thought it was cool, but why a hanger? That question was answered when our heroes (along with another couple) pull hangers out of the closet and use them to fight their way out of the motel and into a rusty mini-van. The audience then started to mimic the on-screen characters, fighting off imaginary birds hovering inches from their heads. The guy from the second lunch-meat couple, you're given visual evidence that this dude is/was in the military; even though he looks all of about 19, he's wearing camouflage pants and carries assault rifles and semi-automatics in his soccer mom ride. Later you find out that he left the military during the Iraq war and all I could think was Wow, that must have been very difficult to accomplish, but hey, good for you -- you managed to escape those crazy insurgents and now you're dealing with suicide-bombing birds. But based on his people-saving skills, maybe he's better off over here rather than over there. Our boys have enough problems in Iraq, the biggest one being, they're in Iraq.

Why did the eagles and vultures attacked? reads one of the Engrish-written taglines, and it turns out we did this to ourselves. Nguyen makes sure we understand this throughout the movie one way or the other, either through the constant news reports on television (we can see the Getty Images watermark during one of the clips used in the newscast) or through the enviro-friendly main character doing things like installing solar panels in his house (this smooth operator talks the salesman down from $20,000 to $19,000) and bragging about his fuckin' hybrid. My favorite bit of this is when he goes on a double date to the movies, and as they're walking out he says something like "That was a great movie, An Inconvenient Truth!", that way his friends aren't confusing it with the other movie they just watched 5 minutes ago. There's also a very long scene where some doctor/professor/scientist/whatever the fuck joins our leads at their picnic table -- where they've been enjoying a nice leisurely lunch OUTDOORS in the midst of the Birdemic -- and goes on and on about the environment. Listen man, if I have to hear this tree-hugging bullshit, your ass better be named Al Gore or Steven Seagal otherwise I'm ready to walk out the fuckin' room.

So the movie eventually ended, much laughs were had and many a mind was blown. People were laughing at the film, as they tend to do when watching a complete fuck-up of a motion picture, but it never got into mean-spirited Room territory either. This could be because it's still too early in Birdemic's run for some dude to come up with shit to yell and become the king of douchebags or maybe because Birdemic didn't make the mistake of casting a woman who wasn't supermodel-thin and therefore is made fun of as being fat, I don't know. There was a bonus of having Damien Carter, the singer who appeared in Birdemic, do a 15-minute set for those who were respectful enough to stick around for the dude. I mean, c'mon -- it's 2:30, you're late enough as it is, might as well stick around for the dude's crooning. I gotta say, he was really fucking good and his band was tight. People were totally grooving to it, at least most were because some looked like they were still trying to figure out just what the fuck did they just watch.

The drummer looked like Art LaFleur and I eventually convinced myself that it was, because the idea of Art LaFleur rockin' the skins in a band makes me smile, and it also brought up fantasies of him and Tim Thomerson and Helen Hunt and Telma Hopkins going out to smoky clubs and playing as Jack Deth and The Squids or The Trancers or something like that (Ms. Hunt would be taking time off from her other band, Helen Hunt and the Twisters). The drummer also displayed the drumming equivalent to guitar face, which I'm a big fan of. Randal-lookalike may have had one too many or just likes to make a spectacle of himself to the cameras documenting this evening, because that's what was happening during Carter's performance. He really got into it, jumping around and toppling himself over one of the couches. My favorite move was when he walked up to a cameraman, pulled out a PBR, opened it, and downed it all in one move. But yeah, Mr. Carter. He was really good and the dude certainly deserves to have his singing displayed in a better film.

I won't feel bad for the dude, though. Because even if the movie is some embarrassing amateur shit, it's playing to packed crowds wherever it screens and I'm sure word-of-mouth is going to make DVD sales pretty brisk. When it comes down to it, people are seeing the movie and I'm sure it's giving homeboy more exposure than he had before. Same goes to James Nguyen; maybe he tried to make a "romantic thriller" and maybe he wanted people to come out thinking about the environment. Whether he accomplished that, I can't say.

But I will say that me and a lot of people in that fuckin' theater had Good Times watching it and we certainly came out as fans of his work. Let's see, we paid $12+ and gave 90 minutes of our lives to the dude. We sold out the room and we're buying his DVD's. I see on the IMDB that he's planning a sequel, so it's safe to say the shit's a financial success or on it's way to becoming one. In this business, that's all that matters, right? Who cares how the audience takes it, a packed house is a packed house. We could yell and guffaw all we want at Birdemic and The Room, but James Nguyen and Tommy Wiseau are clearly having the last laugh.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Torgo walked past me at the concession stand (he was dressed like him, anyway)

Somewhere along the way, according to Jim Wynorski, the B-movies started getting A-picture budgets. He should know because he's directed a bunch of B-movies, as well as C-movies, D-movies, and straight-up Z-movies (those are usually the ones he does under one of his many pseudonyms). He's made movies that have played on the big-screen as well as the fuckin' SyFy channel. This guy's been around, so I wouldn't take his word lightly. And as part of Phil Blankenship's week of programming at the New Beverly Cinema, Wynorski had a night devoted to 3 of his movies. Me, I like Wynorski, but more importantly, I like having something to do on a Saturday night, so off I went.

It was close, but unlike the Stallone triple feature, I managed to catch the first movie of the night, albeit 5 minutes into the fuckin' thing. This meant I didn't catch the intro, trailers or anything else that may have preceded The Lost Empire. I walked in late and tried to make out any available seats in the darkness, while on-screen, a blonde woman was taking an older Asian gentleman's credit card for services rendered, I guess. Then 3 masked ninja-types show up, the old Asian man shoots them with his revolver, and they deflect the bullets through the use of a spinning ninja-star thingamabob. Then they give him a good killing, complete with slow-mo toss through plate-glass window. Then the camera dollies over to this statue of a tiger or something with glowing jewel eyes. The movie doesn't get any less nutty after that.

Even if I didn't wait a few days to write this, I'd still probably be at a loss to explain just what the fuck I saw. There's a crazy opening crawl that fills you in on all the backstory, something about an alien race long ago and two jewels called The Eyes of Avatar or something, that if brought together will give the owner the power to rule the world or some shit. That's just the opening crawl. Then we're introduced to this supercop chick, who has a nice body but is very 80's in that she has kind of a mature face -- attractive, but mature. I would say this chick, the lead actress -- hell, all the leads, are mid-to-late 30's. That's something you don't see anymore; you make this movie today and she's got to be 21 at the oldest.

So this supercop chick, she's introduced saving a classroom of little kid hostages from getting shot up by 3 dudes who I guess just felt the need to shoot little kids that day. She busts in on her motorcycle and takes them out, including the leader, played by this Latino actor who pretty much was the go-to guy for playing scumbags. Because back then, if you wanted scummy, you'd cast brown. I don't remember his name, but my favorite role of his was in Speed, where he didn't play a scumbag, he played the proprietor of what looked to be a mom & pop coffee joint. "Jack, you forgot your muffin." I felt proud for my raza brother right there; he politely told Keanu he was about to take off without his muffin, he didn't pull out his filero and threaten to cut his wife's tetas off like 99 percent of roles require him to. That was nice.

Supercop chick's brother is an average cop, and he happened to be at the scene of the crime at the beginning of the movie. Unfortunately for him, he got a nice sharp instrument through his chest for his troubles, so after telling his sister about how the Devil does in fact exist, he dies. I guess the Devil made a deal with some asshole and the deal involved the asshole having to kill one person a day and sending his/her soul to Hell, and in exchange, he can live forever. Or something like that, I really didn't get it then and I sure as shit don't remember now. So off she goes to hook up with some Native American chick (was it me, or did this chick appear like a ghost or something? she had some weird optical effect lasers introducing her, I'm not sure) and then they go off and hook up with some prison chick (who is introduced fighting a fellow prisoner who is dressed up in a leather corset and boots and looks like someone you'd have to Double Dragon your way out of in a video game in order to get to Level 5) and off they go to take part in some kind of Enter The Dragon tournament on some crazy rich dude's island for some kind of ultimate prize or something. Somewhere along the way, a disintegrating ray/laser cannon shaped like a cock and balls figures into the plot. For real. It's like Wynorski (who also wrote and produced) figured since this was his first movie, he was gonna throw everything including the kitchen sink. I know this because that's what he pretty much said during the Q&A. But at least he knows the shit is ridiculous, because then he'll add touches like the cock & balls laser cannon having a UL safety label on the side.

The right-hand henchmen is played by Robert Tessier, this big mean-looking bald motherfucker who was one of the go-to bad guys for movies up until the early 90's when he decided to fuck up his career royally by dying. I'm kicking myself for not asking Mr. Wynorski about this during the Q&A, but Tessier's character is introduced with super-bushy eyebrows, then in his next scene, the eyebrows are gone. I figured they just fucked up continuity-wise, or decided that shit looked ridiculous and maybe they couldn't afford to film that shit again so they solved it by having a looped line thrown in where one of the girls says something like "He probably Nair-ed his eyebrows". Genius! Anyway, the main bad guy is played by Angus Scrimm from the Phantasm movies and the author of a bunch of liner notes and shit, and I think he's supposed to be Asian in this movie, I don't know. I'm going to be writing I Don't Know a lot with this movie, probably.

God bless Wynorski, and God bless moviemaking back-in-the day; The Lost Empire is just one more example of showing tits in a movie just because you fucking can. Two girls are fighting in a mud pit? Bam -- titties! Having naked girls in a movie for no real good reason is about as dying a cinematic artform as using miniatures for special effects. The girls back then, I guess they didn't get too Serious Actor on us, they seemed to be down for whatever as long as there was a goddamn camera on them. There was a long lingering ass-shot while one chick was taking a shower, and I thought I heard a girl in the audience mutter "gross", which makes absolute perfect fucking sense that a girl would say that.

It was also a glorious time in the 80's if your leading man had a porn mustache, because no one gave a shit about it, apparently. You could also get away with the most horrible of gay jokes; Porn Mustache Boyfriend tries to give Supercop Chick her purse before she leaves on her flight to Kung Fu Island, but it's too late, she's gone. He walks off, but not before a couple of supergays walk by and give him an approving glance or something, I'm sure "girlfriend" or a variation thereof was used. You get it? Because gay guys carry purses!

I appreciated the goofy tone of The Lost Empire, but overall I didn't care much for it. This is a rare case where I think a movie actually suffers on the big-screen; I think the best way to watch this flick is on a Sunday afternoon circa 1988 on some far off UHF channel with halfway decent reception. That makes sense to me, at least.

After the movie, I went to the concession stand for some of that insanely reasonably priced popcorn and soda. Michael Torgan was manning the counter, and is it just me or is he always this nice a person? I don't come to the New Bev as often as I'd like (I might as well live on the other side of the world, since I'm not in L.A.) but it seems like every encounter with Mr. Torgan, I've noticed how well-tempered he is. He always says "Thank you" too, after you pay for your snacks. I don't know about the rest of you fuckin' hipsters, but that Thank You means a fucking lot to me.

Because some other like-minded theaters, they're awesome and all, but I never feel the friendliness that I get at the New Bev, for the most part. I don't wanna start some shit, and I'm gonna restrain from naming fuckin' names, but some motherfuckers at these places come off like they have a fuckin' disdain for your ass and I'm like, Motherfucker, just because I'm at a midnight show doesn't mean I'm going to be one of those Look At Me assholes fucking shit up, treating everything like a Tommy Wiseau movie. Don't make up your fucking mind about me already, I just want a fuckin' Diet Coke. I go out of my way sometimes to show I'm one of the good guys, being super-polite. My voice even gets higher when I do this, I don't know why!

I wish they were more like Michael Torgan or Phil Blankenship, who seems to be supercool to people as long as they're not using their cell phones, and it's then and only then that he'll kick your ass out and suck the soul from your eyeballs until you become a dessicated husk to be tossed in the back alley for the winos to sleep on or something -- and rightly so! But other people in other places, they've condemned you as soon as you walk into that motherfucker. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I just carry with me the aura of the Asshole. I certainly write like one, that's for sure.

So before the next film, Chopping Mall, there's an intro with Wynorski, Steve Mitchell (co-writer) and two of the movie's stars, Kelli Maroney and Tony O'Dell. Maroney, I remember from Night of the Comet, and O'Dell I remember from Head of the Class and The Karate Kid. There was lots of talking over each other, particularly from the spunky Maroney, who at times gave the proceedings a vibe similar to that of having dinner with a chatty, tipsy women and her slightly embarrassed husband (in this case, slightly embarrassed husband played by Jim Wynorski). I can make that judgment because usually in group conversations, I'm the Kelli Maroney of the bunch, and if you were to ever see me and Ms. Maroney headed your way, RUN motherfucker, because you will die before you get a fuckin' word in edgewise. During the intro/chat, some dude joined his lady friend behind me and said to her in a gargly Max Hardcore type of whisper, "you smell delicious". Fuckin' A, brother.

The movie begins, and the last time I saw it was also the first time I saw it; it was the late 80's and that shit was on HBO late at night. I knew about the movie before catching it on cable because I saw the VHS box at the local video store, and I was all MOM LEMME RENT THIS ONE and of course she was like No Way. My parents were usually cool about me watching R-rated movies, but horror films were out of the question, probably because they wanted to get some sleep without dealing with my dumb scared ass tugging at their sheets, keeping them up. Thing is, that cover is a straight-up fucking lie; Chopping Mall isn't a horror film, it's more like a hide-and-seek chase thriller. In fact, no one gets chopped up, but they do get some hardcore robot-style ownage. Yeah, it's about killer robots.

Man, Wynorski is fuckin' racist against all robots; in The Lost Empire, a robot tarantula gets smooshed by the supercop chick and in Chopping Mall, our heroes have to deal with these 3 killer robot assholes. Or it could just be a coincidence. They're supposed to be the newest high-tech thing in mall security, but wouldn't you know it, one of those thunderstorms that contains evil murderous energy ends up striking the main computer and now they're out of control. Lucky for them, there's a group of young mall employees who happened to pick that night to have a little fuck party after hours, leaving our Killbots with plenty of fresh meat.

It's kinda like a slasher movie too in that we all get introduced to the fresh meat and get to know them, and like a slasher movie, these kids' names are all Buck and they're here to fuck -- except for two innocent, virginal, nerdy types, so I guess you can see how this is gonna play out. Difference is, unlike most slasher flicks, I kinda liked most of the characters. Most, I said; there's two very annoying chicks (et tu, Barbara Crampton?) and one douchey dude and they happen to be the first ones dealt with, and in appropriate ways too, so right on. After that, I wanted to see the rest make it to the end, even that Heineken-drinking, Michele Soavi-looking motherfucker, so you see, there's actual suspense going on in this fuckin' movie. I actually got excited a few times during this flick, even more than when I saw it as a kid.

Chopping Mall's manages to be exciting, fast-paced and overall just fun as hell to watch. It's cool to watch people run around the Galleria and shoot shit up, and better yet, it's cool to watch motherfuckers get owned by Johnny Number Five. There are quite a few in-jokes to add to the not-so-serious vibe; a pet store is known as "Roger's Little Shop of Pets" (Roger Corman's company was behind this pic) and a sporting goods store known for its large assortment of assault weapons is called "Peckinpah's". Lots of movie posters throughout the mall too, the pizza joint Maroney's character works at prominently displays a one-sheet for The Lost Empire (wait a minute, I just saw that!) and a few more are found in the employee restrooms and stockrooms.

A few familiar faces show up as well; Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov show up as their Bland characters from Eating Raoul, Gerrit Graham plays one of the tech guys watching over the robot computer system (what the fuck were those guys eating, by the way?), and muthafuckin' Dick Miller shows up as a janitor. This guy rules, but according to Wynorski, was not easy to get along with. I hope that's just a one-time deal and maybe he was just having a bad day or Wynorski wasn't giving his A-game or whatever. I'd hate to find out that Dick Miller lives up to his first name. I'd have to ask Joe Dante next time I see him in my fantasy dream world where I hang out with cool people.

After the movie, there was a Q&A and I don't remember much about it. Plus, I'm tired. So before I move on, I will point out that Wynorski brought up a mini-Killbot on-stage and if I had a cell phone worth a shit, I'd share pictures, but I don't, so I won't, and you'll just have to imagine it. I then went to use the restroom, and saw a guy who looked like Adam Rifkin but probably wasn't. While I got rid of the excess Cherry Coke in my system, I could overhear someone chatting up the co-writer, Steve Mitchell. Turns out, Mr. Mitchell also worked as 2nd unit director. He talked about how the movie took 22 days to shoot, and a few of those days involved him shooting stuff with the robots, some of the air-duct scene and what was really funny was -- FLUSH! went the toilet in the stall behind me and I couldn't hear shit after that. I should've just waited for him to go inside the restroom and ask him there. Yeah, that wouldn't be awkward. Better yet, I should've stood right behind him as he pissed and then say in quiet amazement "It's just so big!" and see if he got all Vincent Gallo in his reaction. These are the kind of thoughts that go through my head.

They had some really cool trailers, but the one that stood out was for a 1982 Roger Corman produced Alien ripoff called Mutant (aka Forbidden World). Holy shit, what an awesome trailer! I tried to find it on YouTube, but I can only find the German version which seems to be the same except some fuckin' former Nazi keeps interrupting to narrate the fuckin' thing, ruining the tone of what I remember being a completely dialogue-free trailer. Creepy as fuck, too. I really want to see the movie now. I can't wait to be disappointed.

There was one more Q&A before the last film of the night, the 1996 Corey Haim/Alan Thicke Die Hard-in-a-High-School flick Demolition High. I zone out for most Q&A's because these things have great potential to give you the douchechills and I try to keep those to a minimum. But I do remember a few things being brought up; this was a movie that was intended to go straight-to-video but was still shot in the 1:85.1 ratio for foreign markets, and the screening of this 35mm print (all 3 films came from Mr. Wynorski's personal collection) would make it the official theatrical premiere. When asked how Corey Haim was like, Wynorski's response was something like "Never speak ill of the dead", and then I guess he could feel the audience get all Ohhhh Shiiiit, so he then went on to explain that Haim was a good dude but you just had to more-or-less babysit the guy and stay on top of him to get what you needed from him. I don't know if he was backtracking or clarifying his statement, but there you go.

So Corey Haim plays the new kid in a small-town school, he's from the Bronx or some shit, so he knows how to take care of himself. Some douchebag bullies try giving him shit and he makes them look like outright asses in return. Lucas is not taking shit from anybody. He's just trying to get by and stay out of trouble, but a misunderstanding leads him to the principal's office and we have a return appearance from Gerrit Graham. This fuckin' guy keeps a gun in his drawer, talking about how he took it from a student and had him sent to prison, yet all I can think is "whaaa? they let you keep that gun?".

Whatever, it really doesn't matter because there's more important things going on; a group of garden variety terrorists (complete with hot terrorist chick) have taken over the school and thankfully it's right after classroom hours, so only like 20 students and faculty are taken hostage. The leader of the terrorists is that dude from The First Power and I think he played a mutant kangaroo in Tank Girl and he has that odd way of speaking where sometimes a slight hint of accent will come out yet you have no fuckin' idea what kind of accent it is. Maybe it isn't an accent; I remember an interview with David Arquette where he talked about how sometimes he'd get so nervous, he'll pronounce words with a tiny bit of what he called "a Mexican bandit" accent. I've seen Jennifer Tilly do something similar in interviews too. But most importantly, I've done it from time to time. I have a tape of a video I had to do for a class, and at one point I pronounced "dressed" as "draysed". I don't know what that is.

So the cops show up, and they're lead by the awesome motherfucker who wrote the theme song to Diff'rent Strokes, the great man who raised a family that included Christian motherfucker Kirk Cameron, drunk-driving motherfucker Tracey Gold, and all-around motherfucker Leonardo DiCaprio. I'm talking about Alan "Because what happens in Vegas, should be happening to you!" Thicke, and he's here to kick ass and take names. Well, not really. He mostly stands around drinking/spitting out coffee and putting up with Kober's demands. It also turns out Thicke is Haim's father, who moved here so his son could stay out of trouble. Eventually Thicke becomes Sgt. Al Powell to Haim's John McClane, as they keep in contact through phone or radio. I noticed that Haim would call his dad "Pops", which reminded me of Fast Getaway -- except Haim would always call his father in that movie "Pop", but if you ask me, he should've called him Steve, as in Steve Perry, because that's who that motherfucker looked like.

Early on, while the terrorists are taking over, they find the principal and stick a gun in his face. The principal just about pisses himself, and it's kinda funny at first. But then I started thinking about it, and decided that Gerrit Graham was actually doing a very realistic portrayal of how most people would react to staring down an automatic. I mean, we can't all be Joe Hallenbeck in a situation like that. His character, although minor, has quite possibly the closest thing resembling an arc in the entire movie. Dude's kind of a dick to Haim, and comes off like he's probably that way with all the students. But at one point, he sacrifices his life to save a couple of the students. Goddamn, that's a big deal, and a wasted one. He took a bullet for those assholes. As the terrorists tossed his corpse out the second-story window, and all I could think about was how those kids aren't even going to remember him, let alone what he did for them, by the time they're getting hummers in college. Can't blame them, though -- who wants to remember their dead principal while getting a hummer in college?

I'd seen Demolition High before, back in the late 90's, and thought it was OK for what it was, and for what it was intended for; a late-night watch on cable. But I think watching this on the big-screen actually improved the experience. It's still an OK flick, but watching it with an audience really added to it. Stuff that was merely amusing at home, wound up being fuckin' hilarious with a crowd. Some things that I hadn't paid much attention to before, really stood the hell out, particularly the character of Bennie. Bennie fuckin' rules. Bennie is a dude who works at the town's power plant, and his job appears to be always standing by the phone. Every time the guy in charge needs to get in touch with someone downstairs at the floor, there's fuckin' Bennie, already on the phone. The audience loved Bennie, and every time we sensed a possible Bennie moment, you can feel the crowd getting hyped up. Nothing was more disappointing than when a power plant scene didn't lead to Bennie.

So the movie ended, and I had to take another post-Cherry Coke break. I noticed a couple guys standing in front of the restroom, and I had to be sure, so I asked one of them if they were waiting in line. He said yes, then went on to say "The director's in there producing something, I'm sure." Then he looked over to another friend who was passing by and flashed a big smile, all proud like, saying "Did you hear that? That was good!". Wynorski then stepped out and went up to the projectionist booth, where I can hear him sincerely thank the projectionist for doing good work. You see that, people -- that's a class move.

Speaking of class moves, someone either shit him/herself or gave out the most horrific of farts right there in the lobby/concession stand, because that unfortunate scent started filling the air. I considered going over to Mr. Wynorski and thanking him for showing up and bringing his prints, but that smell was going to make things way too awkward. So I left and decided to breathe in the far more pleasant in comparison scent of cigarette smoke instead.

Monday, June 7, 2010

From the look of your diet, it's obvious you're not too interested in counting calories. Could it be that you're just too busy counting the money they paid you to set us up?

I love my weekends, just like any other decent human being with time off. It's great that I have a job, but the downside to only having the weekends off as opposed to every goddamn day off is that I have less time to do things like write in this blog. It's either write or watch movies, but rarely both. Now I sleep less during the weekends to squeeze every waking moment from my free time. As a result, coffee becomes lifeblood, Monster Energy Drinks is now mother's milk, and I can always sleep in during work. Anyway, this was a pretty decent weekend; went to the New Beverly dos veces for the Stallone triple feature and the Jim Wynorski triple bill. I'm too tired, and will only write about the Stallone night this time, and save the Wynorski for later in the week (read: probably never).

I couldn't make it to the first film, Cobra. That meant I missed out on the glorious 35mm sight of Sly using scissors to cut into some cold pizza. It's too bad, because when I arrived, the end credits were rolling and the packed house was flying high on the experience of watching Stallone at his best/worst. I noticed the sound mix was done using something called Eagle Sound, which upon quick Googling I found out was another name for Ultra Stereo. That was odd; growing up, I figured Ultra Stereo was a poor man's Dolby because every low-budget straight-to-video/HBO premiere was mixed in it (either that or straight up mono) and Cobra was using it despite being a big budget studio flick. I don't know, it was just something I noticed.

Tango & Cash started, looking great for being only one of two existing prints, I believe (according to Phil Blankenship, who was programming a week of films, including the Stallone/Wynorski nights). "Let's do it" says Stallone before the opening credits, like he fuckin' knew your world was about to get rocked -- and boy does it ever. This is one of the most gleefully stupid movies I've ever seen (and I say this as a bona-fide idiot) but it's just so much goddamn fun. Damn near any 80's cop cliche is in this movie, and now in 2010 it plays like some kind of Edgar Wright homage/piss-take on the genre rather than just another example of it.

Jack Palance is the Big Boss baddie behind the whole deal, tired of these 2 supercops (played by Stallone and muthafuckin' Kurt Russell -- who got more applause in the credits than the dude whose night it was supposed to be) fucking up his money. So his plan is to frame them, put them in jail, get them killed, and rule the world or something. This guy is awesome, not just because he's Jack Palance, but because his crime lair contains a bar that also doubles as a giant rat maze. Motherfucker keeps his rats in a custom-made container, takes them out, fondles them, smells them, then shoves those motherfuckers into the rat maze/bar. Did he create the rat maze/bar specifically to use as a kind of model as to what he intends to do with T&G, like a Bond villain normally does when revealing his grand scheme, or did it just work out that way? Like, "Ahhhh -- I just came up with an IIIdea to fuck TAN-go & CASSSHHH, CASSSHHH & TAN-go good. Ahhhh yes, I can use these 2 ratssss to represent TAN-go & CASSSHHH, CASSSHHH & TAN-go!" It certainly would justify the money that went into the goddamn thing. I'm sure it was cool for a while to entertain his men at the bar, serving them up some cheap shit (never the top shelf liquor for these guys) and digging the sight of them looking down through the glass as these 2 furry rodents try to make their way across the maze/bar. Ok, enough about the rats.

Let's talk about Palance's 80's big multi-screen setup; it allows him to watch suspiciously workprint-quality multi-angled security footage of Tango & Cash barreling in with their RV from Hell. It also doubles as a camera phone, where he could have conversations with his fellow underworld types. That's a pretty funny scene, with the camera phone; on the other end of the line is fuckin' Lo Pan and some other dude who's been on Deep Space Nine like 17 different times or something, like the Star Trek equivalent to an SNL featured player. Anyway, these two are not so much standing as straight-up posing like some album cover for a one-hit wonder duo from the '80s. The best part is that the camera phone knows when to zoom in on a particular dude, depending on who's talking, even picking the right speed at which to zoom in. It senses the emotions I think, this emo-cam. The big multi-screen then gets all Circuit City demo on you when the self-destruct sequence goes off, along with a female countdown voice. I'm sure at least Stallone and Russell were laughing their asses off when they read that part in the script, right? They seem pretty self-aware, those two.

Stallone plays Tango, who is supposed to be this smart stockbroker-type who happens to be one of the 2 best cops in L.A. (Russell's character, Cash, is the other), and aside from wearing glasses and business suits, Sly kinda fruits up his voice a bit to complete the character. "It's a maaa-jor moving violation." You go, girlfriend. His sister is played by Teri Hatcher, back when she was at her hottest but way before she got kinda famous with Lois & Clark and then disappeared before becoming kinda famous again with that Old Bitchy Whore Housewives show or whatever the fuck that show is called. If it wasn't for the fact that talented motherfucker William H. Macy's talented motherfuckin' wife was in that motherfucker, that shit would be out-of-sight, out-of-mind for me.

Kurt Russell, on the other hand, just shows up as Kurt Russell, or at least that's how I like to think the dude really is; the kind of cool and funny dude you can have a beer and bro out with. I'd fuck it up, though; I'd get a little too drunk and start mouthing off about his step-daughter. I'd tell him she's pretty hot but I can't stand her and he'd kinda chuckle it off and I'd continue and once he realized I wasn't going to stop talking about Kate like that, he'd get all Snake Plissken on me or at the very least call his friend Ted Nugent and next thing you know I'm wondering why I'm on the floor in a pool of my own blood and why do I have arrows sticking out of my chest and most importantly WHY is a goofy fake-tooth smiling, draft-dodging yet flag-waving motherfucker in a snakeskin hat laughing over me.

The late great Brion James is here, doing an awesomely terrible British accent, like even he was like Fuck This Shit. I remember there was this rumor once that James served in Vietnam with Tim Thomerson, which I soooo wanted to be true. I love the idea that homeboy from Blade Runner and Jack Deth were in the shit together, shooting it out with Charlie. But do you know who WAS in the Nam? James Avery. You may know him as Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but I prefer to remember him as the voice of Shredder from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, or better yet, that fuckin' awesome DMV examiner in License to Drive. You're lucky, Corey Haim -- the cup was EMPTY! Anyway, Brion James gets the fuckin' Lance Henriksen/Hard Target treatment at the end, which is a double spoiler and I apologize. But goddamn, this is a pretty good supporting cast; you got Michael J. Pollard, Edward Bunker, Juliette Lewis' father, Michael Jeter, Maniac Cop, Patricia Arquette's father, Clint Howard, the big fat black guy who was in a lot of flicks but I always remember him from Class Act, Shabba-Doo, the Rekall dude from Total Recall who gets his head blown off by Arnold, and Billy Tae-Bo Blanks.

Let me go back to one of the supporting actors, Edward Bunker. In addition to doing crime and doing time, in addition to helping introduce The Great Danny Trejo into our lives, he also co-wrote the screenplay to Runaway Train (one of the greatest fuckin' movies ever fuckin' made), which was directed by some Russian dude who wrote movies with Andrei Tarkovsky and bumped uglies with Shirley MacLaine. Well, the same Russkie directed this flick, or most of it anyway, and then I think he realized this shit was ridiculous and bolted or most likely the studio was all Fuck This Commie Cocksucker and gave him his walking papers back to mother Russia. I mean, it *was* the 80's -- we weren't supposed to trust those assholes. Better Dead Than Red. Whatever the case, they got the guy who directed Purple Rain to finish the job. You can tell for the most part, because half the movie has this gritty hand-held look to it and the acting is a little more, I don't know, real. The other half looks slicker and is played in a less serious tone.

Oh yeah, Phil had a story about Lo Pan; he said that he had invited him to do a Q&A of Big Trouble in Little China and I guess what happened what was that he arrived at the New Bev, saw the huge line going around the block, and I guess that spooked him out because he was like Fuck This and took off. Phil tried calling him again for another movie, I think, but Lo Pan won't return his calls. I don't get it, was he scared? Did he think the crowd was there to Tommy Wiseau his ass? Judging by the applause his appearance in Tango & Cash received, he has nothing to worry about, unless he's worried about getting his ass kissed. Whatever the case, fuck you Lo Pan. I remember once overhearing Phil telling someone near the concession stand something to the effect of One day when I'm retired I'll write a tell-all book about all the people who did Q&A's here, who the cool people were and who the dicks are. Holy shit, that would be awesome to read if he meant it.

It was a great experience watching this at the New Beverly, and I say this not only because I live a boring life, but because I doubt the audiences back in '89 were as into the movie as this audience was. Lots of cheering and even some occasional high-fives from the dudes a couple rows in front of me. Probably hipster ironic high-fives, but high-fives nonetheless. Of the jokes and one-liners in the film, half of them were lame and half were actually kind of funny. The audience laughed either way, regardless of intention/result, which says a lot about the movie. I saw this as a kid, and I never remembered it being this fucking ridiculous. Did 1989 adults find it this ridiculous? An older lady, I'm guessing late 50's/early 60's came in halfway through, I wanted to ask her what she made of all this -- then maybe I could've had a shot with her. You should be getting that young stuff, I'd tell her, even if that young stuff is fat and out-of-shape and of dirty Mexican ethnicity.

I'm gonna admit I genuinely dug the Harold Faltermeyer synth soundtrack, liked it even more than his Beverly Hills Cop work. Yeah, I said that shit. It really fits the big stupid 80's movie playing on screen. One of the high-fivers a couple rows ahead of me would bob his head dangerously hard during some of the tunes, like he wanted to see if he could dislodge his brain and have it make contact with the back of his head. Or maybe he succeeded and the high-fives and occasional yelled-out comment were the results of that. I speak with jealousy, of course; I wasn't about to high-five the guy next to me, as much as I wanted to. I need to make friends to high-five with, but then I fear that if you start with high-fives, then you probably move up to date raping, and I don't think I could live with myself if I went that way.

Surprisingly not as homoerotic as I hoped expected. There was maybe one scene after a prison break where they shared a way-too-long meaningful glance, similar to when Charles Bronson and Ed Lauter gave each other the Brokeback stare at the end of Death Wish 3. But otherwise, they manage to skirt around that shit in spite of the hot shower scene where they go off on each other's dick size or the sexy scene where Kurt Russell dresses up like a girl. Maybe back in '89 this movie was swimming in the Gay, but not compared to flicks like Bulletproof ('96) or 2 Fast 2 Furious. I've seen worse, I've lived worse.

There was a lot of action, decent but nothing spectacular. The 80's were more quantity over quality when it came to the bang-bang, for the most part. It wasn't until the 90's when guys like John Woo came along and forced Hollywood to step up their game. Still, I enjoyed a lot of the old-school stunt work; when some motherfucker jumps through a second-story window and lands on the roof of a car, you see that he comes thisclose to missing it and eating shit. Or there's one shot where a bunch of police cars arrive at a drug bust, they speed right up to the camera before screeching to a halt, then the camera tilts up as a helicopter flies right over them. Man, now they would just CGI the copter. I guess you can't tell the difference anymore, but still, there's just an inherent coolness in knowing they really did that shit.

Cliffhanger was next. Saw this back in the summer of '93 but more importantly, I remember catching the trailer at the beginning of the year and thinking HOLY SHIT. It's still a great trailer, but back then, it was more than that, it was definitely something different from all those "In a world..." types. Ultimately, the trailer was a better movie than the actual movie, but it was still a fun watch with two killer sequences in particular.

The first is the opening scene, where Stallone's attempt at helping Michael Rooker's girlfriend out becomes just that, an attempt. That whole bit might be Renny Harlin's best work, and the only reason I'm not straight out calling it Renny Harlin's best work is because of a moment in The Adventures of Ford Fairlane where two girls tell Andrew Dice Clay's character that they just wanted to be held (he fucked 'em -- OHHHH!) and his response to that is "You got the bonus plan". Also, Harlin doesn't know when to quit sometimes; there's a horrifyingly beautiful shot in that scene that tells you everything. Harlin's not happy with that, though, this Finnish fuck then has to show you more and it's just fuckin' lame. Why am I tiptoeing around on eggshells trying not to spoil a scene from a 17 year old film, especially since my first sentence in this paragraph pretty much spoiled it? Whatever, I'm just saying we didn't need to see that stupid shot of her screaming all the way down while shit's all crazy rear-projected behind her. That wide shot with her falling away from the top of the frame with Sly watching helplessly was awesome, then it turned to self-parody.

The second killer sequence is the air-to-air heist. These fuckin' guys hook a line between a transport plane and a jet, and transfer 3 money cases. That's already incredibly impressive in itself, but even better is one of the best acts of motherfucking I've seen in a film. See, one of the treasury agents was shot up and left for dead, right? But he's not dead, he's still alive (barely) and he pretty much uses what's left of his energy to motherfuck the hell out of the guilty parties. He could've radioed for help or something, he could've told the co-pilot to put his hands up and make him fly that plane to safety (and maybe defuse that timebomb as well, if he knew about it) but no, this guy's like Fuck All You Motherfuckers I'm Dead Anyway and rains on their goddamn parade with some fuckin' nine-millimeters. He shoots the fuck out of the co-pilot, adds some proper ventilation to the jet, fucks up their heist, and goes out in an awesome fireball once the bomb does its thing.

Stallone is really good at playing a morose motherfucker. It's like he was able to see into his future to get the motivation for this performance, specifically 1998 to 2006, when he was damn near persona non grata. He's all sad and shit, trying to get Janine Turner to go back with him to Denver. By the way, I forgot what a cutie Janine Turner was. I don't know what the fuck happened. She was in a hit television show with that asshole who left TV to become a movie star and is currently back on TV (not David Caruso -- the other one), then she was in a hit movie with Sly, then next time I see her, she's in some indie movie with Pauly Shore. Nothing against Shore, I dig the Weasel for the most part (you broke my heart, Jury Duty), but I figured she was gonna have a lot more going for her in the future. I don't even know what she looks like now, she's probably all Teri Hatcher'd out or something.

So as mentioned earlier, James Gunn's arch-enemy, Michael Rooker is in this. Apparently this was Give The Co-Star Bigger Applause Than The Star Night, because homeboy got his during the opening credits, just like Kurt Russell did one movie ago. Again, no complaints here, it's not like they were applauding some undeserving piece of shit like Ashton Kutcher, they were giving it up for someone awesome. He does a great job, but there was one line delivery that made the audience laugh during a moment when they were supposed to do anything but. He's going off on Stallone, blaming him for his girlfriend's SPOILER death. He says something like "What the hell do you know about bad times, man?" and I think if he left off the "man" part (along with the Finger of Doom), he'd be OK. But he didn't, so we all laughed.

They say most movies are made in editing, and never has this felt more like the case than in this case. Having watched it this time, after reading the stories about poor test screenings and reshoots and MPAA motherfuckery, I can notice that shit a lot more now. It just seems a bit more choppy now than it did back in '93; the famous cliff jump in the trailer got fucked with in the final cut, lots of odd angles or cutaways when someone gets shot, or one part that has a 3-peated shot of Stallone shooting his bolt gun at someone (turns out originally Stallone shot the dude once and then Rooker shotgunned his ass, but maybe the audience/studio/Stallone wanted to see Sly being more proactive in the ownage department). Some kind soul had posted workprint footage of uncut bloody squib action on YouTube, until some unkind soul had it removed, but it sucks to know they cut a lot of that shit out because who knows what they did with that footage, nowadays it would be no big deal because they could Unrated DVD that shit, but back then, they probably just junked the trims.

I swear I once saw John Lithgow promoting this on The Arsenio Hall Show, calling it one of the best scripts he'd ever read. I don't want to argue the man's taste, considering he also said Hell Yes to the DePalma flicks as well as The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension, but still. Maybe he just saw the mustache-twirling potential in his role as the villainous Qualen; he's got some great lines/moments throughout, and I particularly dug the interplay between him and Rex Linn (who can shout Goddamn or variations thereof with the best of them).

That indie actor who was in Homicide: Life On The Street and some other guy show up playing really annoying EXXXXXTREEEEME sports types. They jump off the highest mountain peaks and parachute their way down, because it's awesome, I guess. We're supposed to feel for these guys at one point, but some people started applauding when one of them gets the machine-pistol treatment by the dude from Cool Runnings with the one name, like he's Prince or somebody. So the filmmakers may have failed with that attempt at likable characters. Ralph Waite shows up playing the Clu Gulager role as the elder rescue dude, and this guy is a twisted nut for sure; he paints crazy shit like a banana eating a monkey ("Nature in reverse") and apparently finds the fate of Rooker's girlfriend more than amusing. For real, check that opening scene out and notice the look on his face, he's like "Fall, bitch! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!". That was cold-blooded, Ralph Waite, cold as ice.

Then I went home. The End.