Shot Caller- Holy shit. This movie has staying power as I think about it often. Originally, it’d gained a reputation because the director used the same bodies for the cover of two different movies. He directed a movie with The Rock and then photoshopped Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s head on The Rock’s body for this movie. I assume just to save money? After that died down, it quietly changed its cover to a much more suitable mustachioed Waldau.
I feel since watching this that I am prepared to go to prison. Not that I would enjoy it or even last long behind bars but do you ever watch a movie that seems so honest and brutal that you can’t imagine it might not be faithful to what it is representing? Casting Waldau as a violent American felon seems a bit off until you witness how that transformation occurs and how it could occur to anyone. This is like Orange is the New Black but Piper does not retain her upbeat optimism for 6 seasons. Her sentence is extended 20 years for a murder she had to commit so she could survive in lockup.
Buena Vista Social Club- For a brief period in 2017 there was a window where it was an easy option for Americans to visit Cuba. I was lucky enough to get down there during that window. Watching Buena Vista, which was filmed in 1999, I was shocked (but not much) that things looked very similar to the way they had when I was there. Cubans are resilient and have found a way to do a lot with a little for generations and this movie provides a musical glimpse into that spirit. I find concert films a bit interminable because there’s long stretches of people basically standing there, but if you love the music it will not matter. Plus, the interviews with individual musicians are amazing glimpses into Cuban culture.
Southbound- Aahhh anthology horror how I have missed you and how hit-or-miss you can be. Thankfully, each story here is tied to a locale close to the other which allows for smooth transitions. Each portion contains fresh story lines and plenty of brutality whether it’s the human or otherworldly kind. Bonus points for looping around at the end.
Flashdance- This film watching experience has opened my eyes to different kinds of cinema. Not the furthest, darkest reaches of the world but deeper than I would normally go. I now have the ability to just watch a movie without all the labels attached to it. When I mentioned to someone at work that I had just seen Flashdance their appearance turned to an outwardly noticeable concern. Why was I watching THAT movie? Who cares, it’s a movie. I don’t care about when it was made or what country or what topic just let me see it and I’ll decide. With that in mind, Flashdance is fucking ridiculous but Beals is great in it. It’s rare that your lead female protagonist is presented with what might be called “man-like desires” but in reality are just “normal person desires”. In between her day job as a sexy welder and her evening job as a sexy dancer she is a pretty average small town girl who just wants to screw and be a conservatory dancer with zero training. What I will remember most about Flashdance is that during Beals’ final triumphant dance, my small yorkie started humping the leg of my sleeping pit bull, almost in step to the music. What a feeling indeed.
Author: The JT Leroy Story- This will be made into a movie someday. I mean, obviously it’s already a documentary movie but it will be made into a drama of some sort. There are so many intersecting themes of literature, Hollywood, television, gender, fraud and identity that it is ripe for someone to ruin it. I say ruin because I’m not sure how it could be properly done. The elements of this story are basically unbelievable and they makers of this movie have to repeatedly tell you what is going on so you stick with it. But if you stick with it, it’s worth it and makes me miss the innocence and style of the 90s all the more.
Moonstruck- This title is not a clever metaphor or subtle reference to something. It literally means sometimes the moon makes you do crazy shit. I don’t know why I thought it was something else but goddamn Cher where did you go? She is so good in this movie and did you know that Nicolas Cage is missing his hand in this? Neither did I and it’s not even the weirdest thing going on. Just watch it if you haven’t it’s so good and funny.
Bad Taste- I will recommend a movie to someone without seeing it because A) I usually can tell the quality, B) I’ve done some homework or C) I know the person. This was recommended by a good friend who knew it was not good and with little consideration for my delicate sensibilities. And it turned out that they actually didn’t see it so it was just my compulsions that led us here. Towards the end there are some good practical effects, gore, model work etc. but the long lead up is a messy zombie or alien plot. I couldn’t tell you what this was about actually. It’s yet another testament to Peter Jackson’s hard work as he will eventually put up two Oscars on the mantle next to his DVD copy of this movie if one was ever made.
Frances- I don’t remember much about this movie other than it’s the long slow grinding down of a woman until there’s not much left of her. I mean, I remember the things that happen to her but none of it feels particularly interesting or watchable. I’m aware that some people like to watch movies that make them sad and this may be for you. You will feel sad when it’s over and it may subside into a low, gray existence where life has no meaning and we are all eroding further and further towards old age and death because I mean what else is there than sickness and disappointment and demise. NOTHING.
Anyway, Lange and Sam Shephard are excellent in this.
MOVIE OF THE WEEK:
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer- I remember watching and reading American Psycho in my mid-twenties and being shocked. Not 1950s pastor’s wife shocked but surprised that this kind of gore could exist in the mainstream, outside of sub culture. Bret Easton Ellis was the Charlie Sheen of his writer Brat Pack. Or maybe the Rob Lowe I don’t know but the work was violent and he was famous. Looking back now, the movie seemed tame and book’s violence was admittedly written in a mindless fashion because that’s what it was: mindless. As for the movie version, it had been done before and better in this film. Michael Rooker (a one-of-a-kind actor) portrays a killer with such nonchalance it’s like you are watching him eat a meal. There are some slightly uncomfortable and really well shot scenes. The draw of this movie, much like American Psycho, is the palpable danger that you feel everyone around the main character is in. They are all expendable.