Star Kid

tn_starkidNOTE: I am still on my spiritual journey in the American South, so I won’t be able to continue the STAR WARS series until the middle of next week. To hold you over until then I’m afraid all I have is a quick look at STAR KID.

Richard Stark is one of the greatest writers in the history of badass crime fiction. His Parker novels are sleek, deeply satisfying classics of the form and have also inspired a few great movies. But what if I were to tell you that Richard Stark’s name wasn’t Richard Stark at all? STARK I.D. is the story of one man’s obsession with uncovering the true identity behind the name. He looked it up on Google and it was Donald Westlake, I’m surprised he didn’t already know that because it’s on the cover of some of the books it’s not like they were hiding it from anybody, it’s pretty widely known and discussed. And also now that I think about it this movie is actually called STAR KID, I don’t know what I was thinking man I need to get more sleep I think.

I don’t think you can say STAR KID is a forgotten kiddy wish fullfillment sci-fi fantasy of the ’90s. More like an ignored one. And that’s fair. The subject matter seems inspired by ’80s kids and aliens movies of the Amblin and fake-Amblin variety, like E.T., FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR, EXPLORES and MAC & ME, but it came out in 1997, fer chrissakes. The successful sci-fi movies of that year were THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK, MEN IN BLACK, THE FIFTH ELEMENT and the STAR WARS special editions. The good reviews went to GATTACA. It was too early for STARSHIP TROOPERS and too late for this shit. (read the rest of this shit…)

Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith (No Baggage Review)

tn_revengeofthesithnobaggageprogramming note: I plan to do all six of these star warses, but I had to leave on a one week spiritual quest and cue these up to post… I’ll catch up on the second half of the series after I get back. thanks everybody

It looks like some time has passed since part 2. This time Hayden Christensen has been replaced by the much older Marc Singer as Anakin. That’s not true although it’s a good idea they probly considered. Actually it’s the same actor as last time but aging is implied because his hair got long, and he has a scar across his eye. He has that robot arm from the end of part 2 so he seems like a serious veteran of star war. Those clone soldiers that were fresh out of the oven in the Battle of Bug Planet are now the Jedis’s trusted allies and co-workers. The clone war, which is a type of star war, has spread out so far that alot of the Jedi Council have to holo-commute to their meetings.

Also, uh, Anakin’s secret wife Padme is knocked up. Shit is getting real.

Watching this right after the other two is cool because even though it’s the same director (George Lucas, AMERICAN GRAFFITI) it’s a huge leap forward in almost all respects. The pacing is much better, moving at a clip, hurtling through the best space battle and action setpieces of the series so far, pedal to the metal but with a solid grip on the wheel. Kenobi and Skywalker have a much better chemistry, their expert teamwork/bickering combo much more entertaining. Christensen’s acting is much more natural, his character more charismatic, even though he (spoiler) turns evil and murders a bunch of little kids. His romance rap is still a weak point, but goes by quicker and easier than in part 2, and by the time he’s using the Force (a magic thing that Jedis use, hard to explain but just roll with it) to do a Chris Brown on his pregnant wife you figure it’s dipshit passion more than genuine love anyway, no wonder it came off so dumb. (read the rest of this shit…)

Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (No Baggage Review)

tn_aotcnobaggageplease friends: it would be nice to play along with the no baggage concept in the comments instead of going over the same prequel discussion for the one thousand billionth time for chrissakes have some god damn respect, manners and honor thanks nerds

Remember in the opening of Star Wars part 1 there were two of these “Jedis” who were sent to intervene in a tax dispute or whatever and they got attacked by robots? Well, we learn in the opening of part 2 that these types of issues are popping off all over the galaxies now. Escalation. These “Separatists,” led by ex-Jedi turned nobleman Count Dooku (Christopher Lee, CIRCLE OF IRON), are trying to secede from the Republic and it’s getting to the point where there just aren’t enough Jedi to fly around and baby these fuckin whiners, so some of the people in the Senate are talking about finally making a “Grand Army of the Republic” to give them the smackdown. In other words, they’re saying “this means star war.”

Padme Amidala (still Natalie Portman from LEON) is no longer Queen of Naboo, but she’s become one of their Senators, and is the leader of the opposition to the army-making proposition, so some sneaky no-account motherfuckers are trying to kill her. In the first scene her ship gets blown up and she gets killed, except it turns out it’s one of her doubles and she was on a different ship with her new head of security Captain Typho (Jay Laga’aia, DAYBREAKERS). This was kinda cool because she had all those doubles in part 1 and she just used them for sneaking out and seeing the world, but this is the logical conclusion of that concept. They’re there to get assassinated in her place. That’s gotta be a hell of a feeling, that it’s somebody’s job to look like you and take an explosion for you, and then the poor girl apologizes. (They just leave her body on the landing platform. Bus your table, people.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (No Baggage Review)

tn_phantommenace'I guess now they’re saying May 4th is Star Wars Day. Yet another fake holiday created by Hallmark and Kenner. At first I assumed they chose May 4th because it’s 21 days before the anniversary of when STAR WARS was released and they are planning seven STAR WARS trilogies. But then somebody explained that it’s supposed to sound like “may the fourth be with you.” Get it. From the nerds who brought you Talk Like a Pirate Day: Seriously, A Whole Day of This Would Be Fun Ye Guys.

Well I’m sorry to perpetuate it, but I decided to use this as an excuse to try to finish a project I started last year when the Star Warses came out on the blu-ray and I watched all six of them again.

I like these movies. Like anybody I especially like the original versions of the original three. But – I think I mentioned this before – one thing I am sick of god damn ever fucking hearing about is fuck George Lucas, he changed the movie that I like, he made a new movie that had farting in it, he owes me, this is at least equal to child rape, most likely way worse, now I finally understand the type of psychological struggle that a 14 year old molested junkie prostitute is going through, boo fucking hoo, etc. Not that it was not a legitimate topic at one time, and inspired by true incidents, but now it’s a decades old discussion done by everybody always and still people will bring it up as if it’s a fresh wound or, worse, as if it’s some sort of rebellious cry against the system if they point out the same damn thing that everybody of their generation also thinks and always will.

I mean honestly, I don’t know how you could verify this but I bet there are more than a billion words on the internet complaining about George Lucas. They hate that motherfucker so much they saw it as a dream come true when he sold his independent artistic creation to the Disney corporation to be used as a licensed property trademark franchise product. Hopefully now the curse is on some other sucker (J.J. Abrams now and whoever takes the gig after him), ’cause they really gotta give the People vs. George Lucas topic a rest, the same way a comedian would at some point just have to leave it be about the airline peanuts, no matter how strongly he feels about how hard it is to open those bags.

Even around here where we have the best god damn commenters in the world (am I right outlawvern.com? I can’t HEAR you!) it’s risky to bring up STAR WARS or George Lucas in any context. But I was watching those blu-rays and I thought it might be a good challenge to try to write reviews of the star warses that I would consider worth reading. I’m not saying I’m gonna succeed, I’m saying I’m gonna try. I’m watching all of them yet again and they’re in these special editions that tie them all together so I might as well write about them from a perspective few have ever considered: as the guy now intends them. One long six chapter story watched in order from 1-6. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Mark Chase Dog

I don’t know if I mentioned this or not, but I recently wrote a little crime novel called Niketown. Check it out. In the book, the protagonist, Carter Chase, invents a recipe for hot dog which he names “The Mark Chase Dog” after his missing brother, and the ingredients are described in loving detail.

Well, Michael Taylor of Paducah, KY decided to make himself some Mark Chase Dogs and was kind enough to send me photographic documentation:

markchasedog

Now I feel lazy because I never got around to making Casey Ryback’s salad recipe from UNDER SIEGE 2, even though I put it in Seagalogy. Michael also reports that he once read one of my greatest works, my GARFIELD review, at an open mic night. That warms my heart. Thanks Michael!

Samurai Fiction

tn_samuraifictionSAMURAI FICTION is a deeply enjoyable period samurai picture, made in 1998 but shot mostly in black and white, so it looks very classical. Not that it’s trying to pass. It occasionally uses more modern filmatics, like a seemingly endless shot pulling back down a road in front of three running samurai, or a slow motion shot of a girl smiling to represent the protagonist being smitten with her – you can imagine a love song playing over it sarcastically, maybe something in a Carpenters or a Barry White.

They don’t quite go that far, but the score is intentionally anachronistic, echoey electric guitar playing with surf, country and rock ‘n roll styles, later drum machines and synthesizers. I like the idea, and some of it works, some of it is cheesy as hell. The one great musical moment in my opinion is a scene where an old man plays a beautiful rendition of “Swanee River” on a saw. You don’t get that in many samurai movies.
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All purpose Star Wars post

tn_maxreboI noticed everybody’s writing about the latest Disney’s Star Wars news on an old post that has about ten billion comments on it and takes six hours to load. We don’t yet have the technology to create a forum, so out of the kindness of my heart I am giving you this fresh new post for any Star Wars related commenting.

I also have an ulterior motive. This is a good place for you to dump all of the bile, negativity and Ewokphobia associated with Star Wars fandom, if need be. I’m going to have a Star Wars related post pretty soon where whining and complaining in the comments are specifically prohibited. We’ll see how that goes I guess.

Anybody remember C3POs it was a cereal they had.

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Brick Mansions

tn_brickmansionsMan, say what you will about Luc Besson, he’s still got his exploitation producer thing going, and he’s squeezed more cinema out of Parkour than Cannon ever got out of breakdancing. Back in the late ’90s the LEON director saw dudes bouncing off the streets, walls and rooftops of France, and while other people might’ve thought “I hope that guy doesn’t fall [in French],” his reaction was “I gotta put this shit in an action movie!” So by ’98 Besson, as writer and producer, had Parkour in a foot chase through traffic in TAXI 2, and by ’01 he’d done a whole movie called YAMAKASI starring some of the pioneers of the artform.

Even then he knew he could do more with it so in ’04 he co-wrote and produced BANLIEUE 13, or DISTRICT B13 as we call it here. It was kind of an ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK riff but in a near future extrapolation of the Parisian suburbs, and done as a buddy movie. A supercop has to team with a criminal from the walled-off District 13.

For director, Besson used TRANSPORTER cinematographer Pierre Morel, who later did TAKEN and FROM PARIS WITH LOVE for him. There was also a not as good sequel in 2009, directed by the guy who did the making-of TV special for Besson’s THE BIG BLUE.
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trailer for White Tiger starring Matt Mullins, Don “The Dragon” Wilson and Cynthia Rothrock

This looks like it has more potential than I expected, and if not I think we can all at least enjoy the narrator on this trailer. He’s working overtime to explain the plot to us. Although I’ve heard of this for a while it does not seem to be listed on IMDb, and I can’t find any mention of who directed it. I did find an article that notes that Rothrock is playing one of the bad guys.

In unrelated news, my IMDb research did lead me to discover that Wilson is listed as being in an upcoming SCORPION KING (something)quel, also alleged to feature Royce Gracie, Michael Biehn, Lou Ferrigno and Rutger Hauer as “King Zakour.” The director did BLUE CRUSH 2 and was in SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE II.

(hat tip to Felix [I am not actually wearing a hat, that is internet slang I believe])

Behind the Candelabra

tn_candelabraBEHIND THE CANDELABRA is Steve Soderbergh’s one last big score before retirement. In some countries it played in theaters, but here in his home country it went straight to cable. Why? The Man obviously didn’t get how contemporary this story is even though it takes place in the ’70s through early ’80s.

It’s about this young working class guy, animal trainer, orphan (Matt Damon, THE BOURNE IDENTITY), one day he and his buddy (Scott Bakula, COLOR OF NIGHT) hit Vegas together, turns out his buddy knows this super famous musician guy (Michael Douglas, Streets of San Francisco), they get to hang out backstage, next thing you know he gets a job with the guy, gets to be in the crew, his posse, his entourage, like in the show Entourage (I don’t know, I haven’t seen it, but I figure I got a good guess what a show called Entourage would be about). (read the rest of this shit…)