"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Posts Tagged ‘Bill Paxton’

Future Shock

Monday, March 14th, 2022

FUTURE SHOCK is a 1994 horror(ish) anthology, it seems very made-for-cable, though it apparently was made-for-video. Or at least as a compilation it was – I believe it’s made from two pre-existing short films tied following a new story and a wraparound.

The connective material stars none other than Martin Kove, who was in a prolific post-KARATE-KID period of his career – that year he also appeared in WYATT EARP, WYATT EARP: RETURN TO TOMBSTONE (yes, a TV movie that came out the same year as the better known one), ENDANGERED, SAVAGE LAND, GAMBLER V: PLAYING FOR KEEPS, DEATH MATCH, CAGNEY & LACEY: THE RETURN, plus a Burke’s Law and a Kung Fu: The Legend Continues. Here he’s rocking Swayze/Gibson style long hair, but playing a mostly buttoned down character, Dr. Langdon (yes, THE DA VINCI CODE was originally written as FUTURE SHOCK fan fiction but Kove refused to be in the movies because he knew they were gonna be fuckin boring, that’s why they almost didn’t make them and obviously regretted when they did [citation not necessary]), a psychiatrist who uses virtual reality to help his patients face their fears. (You see? In the form of little Twilight-Zone-ish short stories.) (read the rest of this shit…)

A Simple Plan

Thursday, January 20th, 2022

“You work for the American dream. You don’t steal it.”
“This is even better.”

A SIMPLE PLAN is the first Sam Raimi movie not to be easily recognizable as a Sam Raimi movie. It even has a Danny Elfman score that’s not recognizable as a Danny Elfman score. It’s a grim, uncomfortable neo-noir, stylistically subdued, what little humor it has dry enough that it likely doesn’t register with everybody. If anything, it seems most akin to BLOOD SIMPLE by Raimi’s former roommates/CRIMEWAVE co-writers/DARKMAN cameo-ers the Coen Brothers, transplanted to a snowy Minnesota environment more like FARGO.

Like THE QUICK AND THE DEAD it was a for-hire project, but this time he didn’t want it to feel like any of his other movies. He and cinematographer Alar Kivilo (THE LOOKOUT) agreed that the camerawork should be simple, “invisible,” basically the opposite of what everyone loves about his earlier films. I don’t advocate doing that all the time, or even often, or honestly ever again, but here it definitely works for him. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Dark Backward

Monday, August 2nd, 2021

Before I start one of these retrospectives I research the movies that came out during that summer and put together a schedule. But in the course of doing 1991 I keep stumbling across movies that seem worthy of looking at that I missed because they were limited releases, TV movies or DTV and didn’t show up on any of the release date lists I looked at. So when I realized Adam Rifkin’s THE DARK BACKWARD played on one screen starting July 26, 1991 I thought I should backtrack a little to cover it.

For those not familiar with it, it’s a forcefully weird and uncomfortable comedy that was a favorite of mine in the ‘90s, one of those movies I rented on VHS and made a dub of to show to people who had never heard of it, which was most people. It was Rifkin’s first script ever, written at age 19 after moving to L.A. to try to become a director, made when he was in his mid 20s, and it’s a sense of humor and world view that admittedly appealed to me more when I was closer to that age. But it’s such a distinct and unadulterated vision I can’t help but still kinda love it. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Terminator

Thursday, June 24th, 2021

“Your world is pretty terrifying.”

Summer of ’91 origins: THE TERMINATOR

The only review I’ve written of the original THE TERMINATOR was in 2007 – so out of date it was combined into a review of the “trilogy” and framed as a response to THE TRANSFORMERS. There are some good observations and funny lines in that review, but I’m a smarter person now and I think there’s way more to say about the movie. So I thought I should take another crack at it before we get to its sequel in this Summer of ’91 retrospective.

In the fall of 1984, director/co-writer James Cameron exploded into filmgoer-consciousness with a stylish and imaginative little sci-fi chase movie called THE TERMINATOR. Made on about a fifth of the budget of the recent hit GHOSTBUSTERS and released by outsiders Hemdale (VICE SQUAD, TURKEY SHOOT) and Orion Pictures (MAD MAX, THE HAND, ROCK & RULE), it nevertheless immediately announces itself as a force to be reckoned with. The quiet, world-establishing text, the nightmarish glimpses of futuristic combat between man and machine, the absolute all-timer of a theme by Brad Fiedel (JUST BEFORE DAWN) and the slow reveal of the logo (title design by Ernest D. Farino, who later did GODZILLA 1985, CRITTERS, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, ALIEN NATION, THE ABYSS and NEMESIS) all set the mood for a genre movie of unusual ferocity. Not bad for a guy who had only directed PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING. (read the rest of this shit…)

Weird Science

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

August 2, 1985

I’m no expert on the films of John Hughes, but I’ve seen enough to know WEIRD SCIENCE (which he wrote and directed) is pretty different from the other ones. It’s still a teen movie, like he was known for at the time, but it’s his only foray into science fiction unless you count his screenplay for JUST VISITING (the 2001 flop remake of LES VISITEURS) for involving time travel.

It feels a little off to call WEIRD SCIENCE sci-fi though. It’s more like computer magical realism, I think. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Much like EXPLORERS, we have two oft-bullied nerds, the main character Gary (Anthony Michael Hall, following SIX PACK, VACATION, SIXTEEN CANDLES and THE BREAKFAST CLUB) and computer genius best friend Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith, HOW TO BE A PERFECT PERSON IN JUST THREE DAYS, DANIEL, THE WILD LIFE). Going by the actors’ ages, Gary and Wyatt are about 2 or 3 years too old to be Explorers or Goonies. So they’re different in that they do not dream of adventure; they are entirely consumed by horniness. And the girls they like to stare at in school ignore them, so Gary’s big idea is to make a woman. He’s inspired by seeing BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN on TV (colorized! what the fuck!?) and figures his smart friend should be able to do something like that with his fancy computer machine. (read the rest of this shit…)

Near Dark

Monday, October 14th, 2019

NEAR DARK is what happens when young, hungry Kathryn Bigelow comes off of co-directing the arty biker movie THE LOVELESS and teams up with the writer of THE HITCHER to do horror movies. She and Eric Red sat down and wrote two scripts together, one for each to direct. A producer says on the making-of featurette that he trusted her to direct, then admits he told her up front that she had three days to convince him not to fire her.

Man, firing her would’ve been a huge fuck up! It’s definitely a cool scenario they came up with, but the primary appeal of the movie is Bigelow’s style, mood, attitude. I suppose the alternate timeline scab that took over would’ve at least had the great cast she put together. Yes, three of them (Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton and Jenette Goldstein) had already been together in ALIENS (a movie that exists in some form within the NEAR DARK universe, unless the “ALIEN5” we see on a marquee meant PROMETHEUS). Bigelow correctly guessed that they’d not only be perfect for the characters, but would carry over a chemistry and familiarity that would work well as this outlaw family. Reportedly she hired them all separately and all were worried about the perception of following ALIENS with a low budget vampire movie. But they knew what they were doing. They chose right. (read the rest of this shit…)

Taking Tiger Mountain

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

TAKING TIGER MOUNTAIN – not to be confused with Tsui Hark’s THE TAKING OF TIGER MOUNTAIN – is a surreal post-apocalyptic experimental black and white art film, shot in 1975, screened in 1983, and never released on video until Vinegar Syndrome’s recent blu-ray. It’s most notable as the first performance by the late great Bill Paxton, who is the lead as well as the production designer.

Like many people, I’m sure, I most associate Paxton with his funny whiny guy roles, especially Hudson in ALIENS. Game over, etc. And he stayed strongly associated with James Cameron as not only the lead in the present day section of TITANIC, but the real life friend who told Cameron, emerging from an actual expedition to the Titanic wreckage, about the 9-11 attacks (as seen in the Imax documentary GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS). They both came out of the Roger Corman school – Paxton worked as a set decorator on EAT MY DUST, BIG BAD MAMA and GALAXY OF TERROR, where the two first met. Though we all know Paxton ended up making it as both a leading man in blockbusters and a reliable character actor, remember that he directed the 1980 novelty music video “Fish Heads,” the 2001 supernatural religious thriller FRAILTY, and the 2005 golfing drama THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED. He was a filmmaker. But as a 19 year old working as a set dresser for the educational films of Encyclopedia Brittanica Features he befriended director Kent Smith (writer: MASSAGE: THE TOUCH OF LOVE; composer: VENEREAL DISEASE: THE HIDDEN EPIDEMIC), who thought he’d make a good star for an independent movie. (read the rest of this shit…)

Apollo 13

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

tn_apollo13

RELEASE DATE: June 23
RELEASE DATE: June 30

20 years ago, in the summer of 1995, director Ron Howard (GUNG HO) looked back another 25 years before that to the year 1970.

What does 1970 mean to you? For mathematical reasons I have to think of it as the beginning of the decade of funk, of soul power, of blaxploitation and disco. The decade of Scorsese and Copolla and DePalma, and JAWS and STAR WARS. But really it’s more like a bridge from the ’60s. Sly and the Family Stone were still performing, Bruce Lee was on the rise, James Brown put out “Funky Drummer,” “Brother Rapp” “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved” and “Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine.” It was the beginning of PBS, Black Sabbath, Doonsebury and DJ Quik (who was born), but it was the end of the Beatles (who broke up, but released Let It Be) Janis Joplin (who went on the Festival Express, but died) and Jimi (who played the Isle of Wight Festival, but died). It was the year after Woodstock and the war was still going. It was the invasion of Cambodia abroad and the Kent State shootings at home. Basically it was a bubble of time floating in the middle of war and protest and multiple cultural revolutions.

Ever the square, Howard (who had spent part of his 1970 guest starring in a Lassie two-parter) made a period piece that’s a worshipful tribute to people completely removed from all of that. (read the rest of this shit…)

Nightcrawler

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

tn_nightcrawlerI watched NIGHTCRAWLER back-to-back with FOXCATCHER. So far I’ve been able to keep the titles straight in my head though, haven’t mixed them up like I still do with RISE OF THE/LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS. But it’s not just the titles that are vaguely similar. This is another story about a bizarre, unfeeling weirdo pretending to be a human. The biggest differences from John Du Pont are 1) no fake nose 2) this guy comes from a working class perspective; he’s introduced sneaking around stealing copper to sell for scrap, like a junkie 3) he’s the protagonist.

It takes place in L.A and mostly at night, so it’s kind of like a noir. Jake Gyllenhaal (HIGHWAY, PRINCE OF PERSIA) plays Lou Bloom, the weirdo in question. I liked him so much in PRISONERS that I’ll see a movie just for him now, so I was excited for this even before the acclaim. Lou is the kind of weirdo who (correctly) thinks he can just walk wherever he wants to if he acts like he belongs there. When he’s driving home one night and sees a flaming car wreck on the side of the freeway he just pulls over, gets out and walks up to watch firemen trying to pull the driver out of the wreckage. You know, just curious. Wanted to see what all the fuss was.

When he learns he can make a living listening to a police scanner, chasing down these tragedies and shoving a camera in there, it quickly becomes clear that he has a natural talent for it. He’s not only completely willing to get in the way of cops and paramedics in life and death situations, he’ll also walk into a house where a shooting has taken place, film the bodies, move things around to make the shots more compelling. Here, get this happy photo of the victim next to this bullet hole. Perfect. (read the rest of this shit…)

Edge of Tomorrow

Monday, June 9th, 2014

tn_edgeoftomorrowGROUNDHOG DAY is an American classic in my opinion. It has this crazy Twilight Zone type of premise (what if you had to live the same day over and over again indefinitely?) that seems too out there for a 1993 studio comedy, and yet there it is. It’s funny and clever and last time I watched it I realized it was also beautiful and profound. It’s a complete original, so it’s weird to think that after two sci-fi spins on the premise, SOURCE CODE and EDGE OF TOMORROW, we could be headed toward a world where young people see it and don’t think there’s anything unique about it. I’ve seen this before, but with action scenes. I’m bored.

(read the rest of this shit…)