Menahem Golan, 1929-2014

tn_golanAs you may have read, Menahem Golan, co-head of The Cannon Group (as well as 21st Century Film Corporation and New Cannan Group) died today at the age of 85. Don’t worry, he didn’t have to suffer from cancer or anything, he just collapsed while walking outside his home in Jaffa, and could not be revived. Golan was a filmmaker to the end, at least according to an IMDb listing that says he was in pre-production on a new ALLAN QUATERMAIN movie that he wrote and would’ve directed.

Like so many of the greats, Golan actually got his start working for Roger Corman, in his case as a production assistant on THE YOUNG RACERS in 1963. That same year he made his writing/directing debut with a Hebrew-language Israeli production called EL DORADO, starring Topol of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF fame. Throughout his career he would direct more than 40 films and produce more than 200. He and his cousin Yoram Globus started Noah Films, an Israeli production company known worldwide for the Oscar nominated satire SALLAH. But of course we know and love them for their reign as the heads of The Cannon Group, which they purchased in 1979 and turned into a prolific powerhouse of low budget action and exploitation in the VHS era. (read the rest of this shit…)

Sector 4: Extraction

tn_sector4“A mercenary that gives a fuck. Great.”

Sometimes I watch a movie that’s hard to even squeeze a review out of. I could do a consumer reports type deal telling you the plot and that it’s boring and mediocre, but I wouldn’t have much of the ol’ insight to offer. Usually if I feel that way I just don’t bother writing anything. This one is borderline, but I’m gonna try to tough it out because I consider it historically important: it’s the directorial debut of Olivier Gruner.

Ah shit, now I looked it up and this is his third movie as a director. So it’s not even a milestone or anything. Why did I watch the whole thing?
(read the rest of this shit…)

Enemy

tn_enemyENEMY is a weird, spooky thriller that director Denis Villaneuve and star Jake Gyllenhaal did right before PRISONERS. The arthouse freakout before the expensive studio drama that Lee Daniels got fired from. PRISONERS made me pay attention to the former and gain new respect for the latter, so here I am watching ENEMY.

Gyllenhaal plays a depressed college history professor who rents a movie one day and notices that the part of Bellhop #3 is played by a guy who looks exactly like him. Creepy. He does some detective work and tracks down the actor, who also has his same voice and an identical scar. He’s not sure what the fuck is going on, and he’s fascinated, but he’s weird about it. He calls and confuses the guy’s poor wife. (read the rest of this shit…)

Guardians of the Galaxy

tn_guardiansPeter “Star Lord” Quill (Chris Pratt, ZERO DARK THIRTY) is a wannabe legendary space outlaw, a good fighter with a cool breather mask and ship who takes gigs from unsavory characters retrieving rare objects and stuff. A Transporter, if you will. When he finds something called “the orb” for a scary space guy with the scary space name of Rhonan the Accuser, he learns that it endangers everybody in the galaxy, and he decides he’s against that. So he teams up with an alien lady trying to snatch it from him (Zoe Saldana, but green this time instead of AVATAR blue), two bounty hunters trying to capture him (Bradley Cooper [MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN] and Vin Diesel, both voicing cartoons), and a psycho they met in prison (Dave Bautista, RIDDICK) to try to get it somewhere safe, wherever the fuck that would be. I don’t think they discuss throwing it into a volcano like a lord of the rings would do. (read the rest of this shit…)

Barbarian Queen / Barbarian Queen II: The Empress Strikes Back

tn_barbarianqueen“I’ll be no man’s slave and no man’s whore. And if I can’t kill them all then by the gods they’ll know I tried.”

BARBARIAN QUEEN (1985)

I’m not saying BARBARIAN QUEEN would be great under other circumstances either, but especially watching it right after HUNDRA it seems like kind of a waste. Obviously Roger Corman and/or his people saw that movie and thought “oh shit, we can do a CONAN rip-off but with boobs!” So it’s another sword-wielding woman who overcomes medieval evil, but you’re never really sure how pro-woman it is. As often as they have tough warrior women defeating men in sword fights they seem to have them getting pinned down and having their tops torn off. It happens so much I’m thinking maybe they think the audience is supposed to enjoy it more than root against it.

She even gets hung topless on a rack for a long period and it’s not really treated like a traumatic event. And the wort part is it seems like they could’ve done fine in the titillation department without all that shit. The costume department obviously worked really hard on all the cleavage display all throughout the movie, and then they just get shown up by these boobs ‘n torture scenes. (read the rest of this shit…)

Lucy

tn_lucyLUCY is the new movie by Luc Besson and his first directorial work since… THE MESSENGER? … to be noticed much in the U.S. He had supposedly retired from directing after ANGEL-A in 2005, but then he made another one of those ARTHUR children’s movies and by 2010 he was doing THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ADELE BLANC-SEC (which I liked) and fuck it, he was still a director. Last year he did THE FAMILY with Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer (which I, like most Americans, haven’t gotten around to yet) but now all the sudden he has this LUCY and it’s a big hit, opening much bigger than The Rock’s HERCULES even though that one is PG-13. (There actually was a point early in LUCY where I thought to myself “Oh good, they do still make R-rated movies.”)

Scarlett Johansson plays the titlogical Lucy, a student in Taiwan when her douchebag boyfriend of one week (a Donal-Logue-at-a-rave type dude with a shitty cowboy hat and yellow-tinted glasses) gets her involved against her will with some ruthless gangsters led by Choi Min-sik (OLDBOY). She doesn’t speak the language so she barely knows what’s going on by the time she has a bag of experimental drugs (actually blue pop rocks I think) sewn into her belly for clandestine transport.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Blue Ruin

tn_blueruinI don’t know what this has to do with BLUE JASMINE, but it’s pretty good as a standalone.

I saw alot of film festival acclaim for BLUE RUIN as a movie about how bad and ugly revenge actually is. I gotta tell you I was skeptical, because I didn’t want to hear some joyless lecture about the wrongness of something most of us never experience, especially as punishment for our inherent enjoyment of classic action movie formula. DEATH SENTENCE and others prove you can make that point and still have fun.

Luckily my assumptions were unfounded. As the writer Harry once told Flavor Flav, “Don’t believe the hype.” BLUE RUIN isn’t trying to teach us a lesson, it’s actually a fairly traditional and enjoyable thriller about a murder and ensuing mess, spiraling out of control like that time the Cat in the Hat came over and ate cake in the bath tub. It’s just that it comes from young independent filmatists so it feels more like it’s happening to some dude you know than the usual slick Hollywood players. It’s quiet, naturalistic, and you have to piece together the backstory from what’s happening, you don’t get alot of obvious exposition. The avenger is a pretty non-descript nerd named Dwight (Macon Blair). Big, sunken eyes, a little doughy, bad haircut, no cool motorcycle jacket or shades or nothin. Just a normal guy. Could work at Best Buy or something.
(read the rest of this shit…)

Hercules

tn_herculesI don’t know what you people are thinking not wanting to see a new Hercules movie starring Dwayne T.R. Johnson. The motherfucker grew a beard and wore a lion on his head and somehow increased his workout from what it was before, and yet the world acts like there’s nothing to see here. Here we have a movie star who we have all anointed an icon, an actor who combines the charm of George Clooney with the cartoonish physicality of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has entertained us many times but who still hasn’t quite found that great movie vehicle he deserves. And he has decided to use his impossibly giant muscles to lift up the sorely missed genre of the macho sword and sandal b-movie. Just on principle people like us should be taking time off work to see this thing, but all my friends, people I work alongside, who I admire and respect, just respond to the existence of HERCULES with a “ho hum” or a “ha ha.”

Yeah, I know the reason. With everything going on in Gaza right now, and in Russia and the Ukraine, it’s hard to really put our minds on something so trivial nah just fucking with you it’s because this was directed by Brett Ratner.

(read the rest of this shit…)

trailer: MERCENARIES

Well, looks like on August 8th (on VOD and in theaters most likely not near you) we will get the first of the long-promised “female Expendables” movies.

The good news: Zoe Bell, Cynthia Rothrock, Vivica A. Fox, Kristanna Loken, and Brigitte Nielsen as the villain (which I’ve been saying they should do for a while, though I guess I hadn’t thought of it when we first discussed this). The bad news: produced by The Asylum. Also, director Christopher Ray (MEGA SHARK VS. CROCOSAURUS, 2-HEADED SHARK ATTACK, ASTEROID VS. EARTH) also has one coming out called PRISON RAID with pretty much the exact same cast, so who knows how much thought and care they might’ve put into either one of them. Or one of them might be all outtakes.

I’ll give it a shot, though. It’s also worth noting that Asylum is about to work with a world class director known for transcending the limitations of his chosen formats. Z Nation is the name of their upcoming 13-episode zombie tv show for SyFy. Sounds like Asylum Walking Dead, which sounds like the worst thing ever, but the pilot is directed by John Hyams. I read somewhere that he was also the show-runner, but the SyFy websight lists some other guy, so maybe not. Anyway, I’m keeping my fingers crossed, which makes it hard to type but I’m doing it.

trailer for FALCON RISING starring MJW

We finally have a new Michael Jai White vehicle on the way, and here’s the trailer.

Falcon Rising – Trailer from Moonstone Entertainment on Vimeo.

Somehow MJW hasn’t had an action movie role since 2011 (when he co-starred in TACTICAL FORCE and NEVER BACK DOWN 2), and he hasn’t had a starring action role since his DTV classic BLOOD AND BONE in 2009. The producers of FALCON RISING recognize this problem so they are pre-planning this as a franchise. If they stick to the plan then White’s character John “Falcon” Chapman will doing flying kicks on motherfuckers in different exotic locations each year. This is of course the Brazil chapter.

It looks like Neal McDonough plays his boss, and his sister (who gets kidnapped, I think) is played by Muhammad Ali’s daughter Laila. Not surprisingly considering the setting, Lateef Crowder (capoeira fighter who’s in THE PROTECTOR and UNDISPUTED III) is also in it. Larnell Stovall (UNDISPUTED III, NEVER BACK DOWN 2, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING) choreographed the fights. At one point I read that Isaac Florentine (where are you, man?) was gonna direct this, but it ended up being Ernie Barbarash. Not as much of a sure bet, but I remember thinking his Van Damme/Adkins team-up ASSASSINATION GAMES was pretty decent.

Allegedly this will have a theatrical release September 5th, but I’ll believe it when I see it.