Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tyson

I've been fascinated by Mike Tyson since I first heard of him as a kid. I didn't get to see as many fights of his that I would have liked because of the whole super expensive pay per view thing.

The first time I think I saw one of his fights was a tape delay of the Buster Douglas fight at Jamie's house. I remember trying to see one of his first fights after coming back from prison at a friend's house who was stealing pay per view somehow. Of course, the picture got scrambled right as it got started.

I was lucky enough to see the Holyfield ear biting fight live. I also saw the Lennox Lewis fight in 2002 while peering through bar patrons while standing on the sidewalk one warm night in Pittsburgh. I think I even saw his last fight live but I'm not entirely sure about that. However, I do remember his amazing postfight interview where he said he only fought for the money and just didn't have his heart in it anymore.

Anyway, I guess my point is -- I'm fascinated by Tyson. So I was already sold by this movie the minute I heard about it. And it doesn't disappoint. Tyson is endlessly interesting to me. I could have watched 30 hours of interview footage of him. The 90 minutes of this film go by quickly. Too quickly. The movie should have been 30 minutes or so longer.

All the greatest hits are here from the early domination to the Robin Givens stuff to the prison sentence to the Holyfield stuff. Amazing stuff. And his insight on his life is fantastic to watch. Plus, you'll never hear the word "promiscuous" again without thinking of Mike Tyson repeatedly trying to pronounce it in his own special Mike Tyson way.

Directed by James Toback
2009
Blu-ray

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Trumbo

Before seeing this film, I only knew a little about Dalton Trumbo. For the most part, all I knew was that I really liked reading Johnny Got His Gun fifteen years ago.

But, man, he was a badass. He was blacklisted for years and sent to jail for refusing to testify during the Communist witch hunts of the early 50's. He even toyed with the interrogators in Congress during the proceedings. He wrote many films over the years but most of them were not attributed to him. Two which were were 1949's Gun Crazy and 1960's Spartacus. Two that were not were 1953's Roman Holiday and 1956's The Brave One for which he won an Oscar which he could not claim. The whole I am Spartacus scene clearly was inspired by his experience on the blacklist and is a bit of wishful thinking. Take that Kazan!

The film reminded me of a bit of the doc about Hunter S. Thompson as well as Nanking in its use of actors to read dialogue from letters and journals. However, for some reason I was more into the readings in that film than I was in this one. They seemed a bit too showy for me in this one. That is except for the ones by David Strathairn. I love that guy.

The old interview footage of Trumbo is great though.

Directed by Peter Askin
2008
PBS

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Men in War

I love Anthony Mann. What couldn't he do? Noirs, westerns, war movies. I love all 3 genres. Nice.

Robert Ryan (who I've loved in everything I've seen him in, most recently The Set-Up) and Aldo Ray star in this dark Korean War flick. Ryan plays a Lt. in charge of leading his men to take a hill. He thinks that the war might end soon. Ray knows that it isn't but doesn't care. He's a lone solider who has been ordered to drive his shellshocked colonel to safety. Ray and Ryan meet up in the field and an unhappy alliance ensues.

The scope of the film isn't big but that doesn't blunt its impact. In fact, the limited scope made everything more tense and claustrophobic for me. The N. Korean soliders are barely in it - they only show up to sneak attack the good guys. It felt a lot like the role Indians played in Westerns. It also reminded me a bit of Sam Fuller's Korean war film The Steel Helmet.

I had never heard of this movie until I read about it in a review of Inglorius Basterds. Apparently Brad Pitt's character Aldo Raine is a tribute to Aldo Ray in this movie. Or something along those lines.

Directed by Anthony Mann
1957
DVD

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mildred Pierce

I loved the beginning and ending noir type stuff. I liked the in between stuff as well but not as much as the beginning and end.

Joan Crawford is great. I can't believe I've only seen two of her movies - this one and Johnny Guitar. I think I need to rectify that.

Directed by Michael Curtiz
1945
TCM

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Last Tango in Paris

This is supposed to be a classic? I guess.

I mean - Brando was Brando. Maria Schneider displayed impressive nudity. Jean Pierre Leaud was as cute as ever. Paris looked fabulous. But overall, I just couldn't get that into it.

Plus, the butter scene was a letdown. As was the fingers up Brando's butt scene. Then again, Brando and his male pal in their matching bathrobes scene was downright fantastic.

Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci
1972
HBO

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dial 1119

A clean cut psychopath with issues from the war goes nuts, kills a bus driver, a bartender named Chuckles, and then takes a bunch of barflies hostage.

His shrink wants to get into the bar to calm him down. Bad move. A cop wants to sneak in on him through an overhead vent. Bad move.

This movie was directed by Louis B. Mayer's nephew.

Directed by Gerald Mayer
1950
TCM

Three Days of the Condor

What a weird movie. So mid 70's. Loved the Redford. Loved the Dunaway. Loved the von Sydow. Loved the murdering of everyone in the first 15 minutes.

Didn't love the ridiculously cheesy sax solos during romantical scenes. Oh ok, maybe I loved it.

Was amazing that Redford's GF gets murdered and then he bangs Dunaway the very next day.

Crazy how big Redford's glasses were.

Insane how kinky the whole handcuffing Dunaway thing turned out to be.

Loved the murderous mailman.

What the hell was going on in 1975?

Directed by Sidney Pollack
1975
HBO

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The English Surgeon

I hadn't heard anything about this movie until I listened to an Elvis Mitchell interview with the director last week. At the very end, he mentioned that the film was airing on PBS during the week. I excitedly set my DVR. I'm glad that I did.

I can't stop thinking about this movie. At times, it is harrowing. Other times, it is beautiful in a I'm fascinated with the former Soviet bloc kind of way. The entire time, it is an excellent documentary.

The film is about an English neurosurgeon, Henry Marsh, who has spent the past fifteen years visiting the Ukraine trying to transform a run down old hospital into a workable clinic. He sees as many patients as possible and performs many surgeries. Marsh knows what he does is not nearly enough but he lives his life so that he can give others even a sliver of hope in an otherwise hopeless situation.

One botched surgery years ago still haunts him everyday and he keeps coming back to it in the film.

I have never seen a scene quite like the one in this film where he removes a man's brain tumor while the patient is conscious. He does this to make sure that the patient can move his extremities the entire time so he can be sure that he isn't making any mistakes while removing the tumor. Incredible. At one point, the patient remarks that he can't believe how long it takes to drill into the skull. "No wonder boxers can take so many punches," he notes.

The score is by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

Directed by Geoffrey Smith
2009
PBS

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Asphalt Jungle

An absolutely perfect movie. This reminds me of my carefree time in the late 90's watching double feature after double feature at Film Forum. I can't get enough of any kind of noir type flick let alone the great ones.

Sterling Hayden is stellar. A young Marilyn Monroe makes an appearance. Lowlifes abound.

As do great lines like:

"You can't trust a crooked cop. You never know when he'll decide to get honest."

"Hooligans are like left handed pitchers - they all have a screw loose."

Moral of the story: If you are on the lam, don't spend too much time leering at pretty girls as they dance next to a jukebox."

Directed by John Huston
1950
TCM

Manhandled

Very minor late 40's noir.

It had its moments but overall it kind of dragged.

Still, Sterling Hayden is always good. And I love Dan Duryea who is so darn sleazy in everything I've ever seen in him. And it doesn't get sleazier than this role where he tries to frame a murder charge on a woman he fancies in order to pocket some cash. Nice.

Directed by Lewis R. Foster
1949
TCM

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Westworld

Awesome. Simply awesome. I love this movie.

I hadn't seen it in years. I think the last time I saw it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 1984 or so with my dad. I loved it then. I love it now. I can't believe how well it has aged. There' isn't a flaw with this movie.

Yul Brynner is so darn badass in this. I could watch his scenes over and over again especially after he goes haywire. The stalking of Richard Benjamin scenes are terrifyingly perfectly perfect.

Directed by Michael Crichton
1973
TCM

The Strangers

This movie flew completely under my radar until I read Jeremy's recent glowing review. I'm glad that he brought my attention to it because I liked it quite a bit. It reminded me of being 18 and loving horror movies. It reminded me of my late friend Terry Crummitt who would have loved this movie and made everyone recite lines from it. In fact, the whole bad guys emerging from the shadows thing was quite reminiscent of one of Terry's all time favorite scenes in movie history from When a Stranger Calls Back 2.

I started watching this at 4 am while feeding Double Trouble. I got a bit freaked out. The movie is incredibly claustrophobic from the very first moment and there's absolutely no relief. When the first knock on the door occurs, I was already ready to hide under my bed. Home invasion scares the hell out of me and always has. I was glad when the boys finished eating so I could turn the movie off and finish it during daylight hours.

But daylight brought no relief. It was still scary! The masks, the hand from the backseat, the no escaping, the woods, the disappearing hooded girl, the hidden cell phone, the moving fire alarm. If I had seen this movie when I was 10, I would never have fallen asleep again.

Granted, by the end, the whole thing seemed a bit ridiculous. What was the point? But does a movie like this really need a point? I love how this is apparently based on a true story but I'd like to know more about that because I can't imagine it's anything like the movie.

The direction of the film is flawless. What could have been a B movie slasher flick is so much more. The tension is downright unbearable at times.

Directed by Bryan Bertino
2008
HBO

Thursday, September 03, 2009

In the Loop

This was kind of like Wag the Dog if Wag the Dog had been good. Easily the best political satire I've seen in years and dare I say it is the Dr. Strangelove for our generation.

The film is about the buildup to a fictional war in the Middle East. A nobody in the British gov't answers an interview question by stating that an upcoming war was "unforeseeable" thus creating a media sensation which then sets the whole crazy chain of events in motion.

The movie is completely scathing and somehow realistic and entirely absurd at the same time. It is kind of like the Naked Gun of political satire. Non-stop jokes. My main complaint about the movie was that I'd laugh and then miss the next two jokes.

If I had the script in hand, I think that I could easily find 100 lines that are instant classics. And the movie is so damn profane. It is awesome!

It also reminded me of the very good BBC show State of Play in some ways. I need to see this movie at least 5 more times to fully digest it.

Directed by Armando Iannucci
2009
BAM

Inglorious Basterds

From the moment I heard about this movie, I was incredibly excited to see it. And while it isn't quite as good as I was hoping, it is still damn entertaining. I really look forward to seeing it for a second time.

Pros:
- The first scene is tense as hell and is downright incredible filmmaking.

- The climax is over the top crazy fun.

- By setting a movie in the 40's, Tarantino forced himself to not have wall to wall pop culture references. Death Proof basically felt like 4 Tarantinos conversing with each other through the mouths of 4 female characters.

- Scalping Nazis is awesome.

- The King Kong analogy during the bar scene is pretty great.

Cons:
- A little too long I'd say. He easily could have trimmed 1-2 minutes from many scenes throughout the film.

- Mike Myers? Really? Why? It's like Tarantino is so arrogant that he thinks he can resurrect the career of anyone even if it is only one scene. Easily the worst cameo in anything since David Schwimmer's embarrassing role in Band of Brothers. Then again, Tom Cruise's role in Tropic Thunder might be the worst thing I've ever seen in my entire life.

UPDATE:
Loved it the second time!

Directed by Quentin Tarantino
2009
BAM

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

District 9

The first hour of this lived up to the hype. It was an original thought provoking sci-fi extravaganza. The second half turned into an intergalactic buddy pic. That's cool but not as earth shattering as I would have hoped.

I loved the doofus in charge. The special effects looked pretty darn good. I liked the whole sociopolitical stuff. The ghetto scenes at the beginning were riveting.

At times, I felt like I was watching a completely original movie.

That is except for the fact that the prawns sounded like Greedo. Or that the whole thing with the humans experimenting on the aliens was like a reverse V. Or that the gov't was so mean to the nice extraterrestrials a la E.T. Or the ending reminded me of the beginning of Iron Man. Or that the metamorphosis was like The Fly. Or that the prawns looked like something out of The Last Starfighter or the bar scene in Star Wars.

Hell, this movie is like the Girl Talk of sci-fi flicks. I love it!

Jeremy thinks that this is a modern masterpiece.

Directed by Neil Blomkamp
2009
Silver Spring 20