Posts Tagged ‘Miami Vice’

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From the Mists of Time: “Wanted Dead or Alive”

January 14, 2014

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Here’s a strange little number. It’s a movie that could just as easily fit in the “Criminally Overlooked” category as “From the Mists of Time,” since it’s actually quite a good movie, which never garnered the cult status it deserved. Even now I’m hesitant to wholeheartedly endorse it, since it’s the product of a more innocent time, which now takes on the dimension of a nightmare. Still, there’s no getting around the fact it’s a solidly-built thriller with more than ample amounts of ‘80s cheese, all served atop a hearty helping of Rutger Hauer. Okay, that metaphor went wrong, but you get the point: Rutger Hauer, sawed-off shotgun, terrorists in L.A. Need I say more? Of course not, but I will…
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In the ’90s we thought this was a good idea: “Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man”

September 2, 2013

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So, um, who thought green-lighting this movie was a good idea? I mean, really, what was the selling point here? I just…I’m sorry, I can’t figure out why an actual movie studio—you know people whose job it is to sell things that the general public wants to see—decided to blow millions of dollars on a watery action movie starring two stars at the end of their initial peak and the beginning of their long season in the wilderness. Oh, and they gave an overly cutesy title featuring two brand names synonymous with masculinity and embodied them with one dude famous for playing punks and another who wore pastel colors for five seasons. I’m tempted to think the whole movie was an elaborate practical joke, but I can’t figure out on whom.
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The terror of Jerry the Vampire: “Fright Night”

September 6, 2011

You know Hollywood is deep in the Dead Horse Seas of creative bankruptcy when they remake a movie like 1985’s Fright Night. I mean, it’s not like the movie was any kind of a high water mark of ‘80s cinema. But it has a vampire in it, which you know tripped some producer’s cultural IFF, and, apparently while they were at it, someone said, “Hey why don’t we shoot this thing in 3D so we can squeeze a couple extra bucks out of the Twilight fans and goth kids who see this movie.” And yet, despite the eminently cynical calculations that borne it, the remake of Fright Night manages to be just as charming and understated as the original.
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Criminally Unreleased: “Shanghai”

July 20, 2010

Sweet crap! Two good movies in one weekend? What did I do to deserve this fortune? Wait…I sense some great and terrible karmic payoff in the works. Is there a sequel to Alpha Dog in production? Well, whatever. Until the gods of cinema decide to call in their chit, we have Shanghai, a nifty mystery/spy thriller and throwback to the classic noir movies of old. Shanghai aspires to be Graham Greene, and if it only manages to be warmed over Ian Fleming, well…I’ll take it. Especially when you have a production design this gorgeous and Gong Li being even gorgeouser (yes, that is now a word…I created a word for her…that’s how gorgeous she is).
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Criminally Overlooked: “To Live and Die in L.A.”

March 17, 2010

The poster for To Live and Die in L.A. boasts “The director of the French Connection is back on the streets.” It’s a line that could set movie fans’ heart’s a-flutter. After all, Connection, beyond being possibly the best cops and robbers movie ever made (at least at the time), was also one of the seminal films of the 1970’s. And that’s probably part of the reason why TLaDiLA got plowed under at the box-office. Despite a plotline that seems to have been lifted from any number of Miami Vice episodes, and an edgy rock soundtrack, TLaDiLA is really a ‘70s movie in ‘80s movie clothing. Director William Friedkin turned his considerable talents and low-exposition/high-character-sketching style on a movie produced at the midpoint of a decade dedicated to movies that were bigger, dumber, and flashier. Never mind the fact that he produced something like a modern noir masterpiece. A few months earlier, Rambo: First Blood Part II had debuted. In its wake would follow Cobra, Commando, Action Jackson, and eventually Lethal Weapon. Audiences wanted explosions and not having to think. The movie never had a chance. But as you can probably imagine, I come here not to bury TLaDiLA, but to praise it as a movie which deserves better than it got.

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Quentin Tarantino wins the war: “Inglourious Basterds”

August 23, 2009

Inglourious-Basterds[I’m going to spoil some of the secrets of Inglourious Basterds here, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet and you really want to read this review, rush right out and see it. Otherwise, you know, don’t knock yourself out]

Okay, so imagine a scene in which a couple characters talk to each other. Their dialogue is crisp and memorable. Their performances range from the very good to the incredible. The discussion is fraught with tension as one party endeavors to keep a secret that the other is tenaciously trying to discover, yet it is all done beneath a thin veil of civility. Then, abruptly, the veil drops and the scene gives way to a burst of brutal, contained violence. Okay, now repeat that about a half-dozen times and you pretty much have Inglourious Basterds, the movie that may very well mark the moment when Tarantino stopped making movies and began just slapping individual, barely-connected scenes on the screen.  
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Michael Mann Week(ish) Concludes: Why I Love “Collateral”

August 17, 2009

collateral3wTo cap off Michael Mann Week(ish), I’d like to hold forth a little bit about my personal favorite Mann movie, Collateral. It’s not Mann’s greatest film—Heat or The Insider would probably rank above it—but it’s the one I connect with most viscerally. Part of it, I’m sure, has to do with the time in my life when I saw it. I was emerging, like Jamie Foxx’s Max, from my own purgatory and forced into life-changing action. Beyond the personal, however, there’s a lot about Collateral that Mann’s films usually don’t pay attention to or get a chance to notice. Anyway, let’s run down what’s awesome about Collateral. Since I’m lazy I’m doing this in list form.

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