Archive for the ‘Live On @Twitter’ Category

There are benefits to being an insomniac. One is that you don’t have to work hard to stay up into the dead of night to watch the kind of movies that only air in the dead of night. Turner Classic Movies has a series this month called Silent Sundays, and the other night they aired a movie I’ve been meaning to see for a while:

Laugh, Clown, Laugh.

Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928), based on a play and directed by Herbert Brenon, is a vehicle for the great Lon Chaney: Here he plays a travelling circus clown named Tito, who finds a baby girl he names Simonetta, takes her in and raises her to be a fellow performer. As she grows up, into a beautiful adolescent, he realizes to his confusion that he’s fallen in love with her. And then he has competition in the form of a dashing gentleman named Luigi.

The story has obvious echoes of the opera Pagliacci, but a more fun way to look at it for modern movie fans is that it’s Léon (The Professional) but with Italian clowns instead of Gallic assassins. The ingenue is played by Loretta Young, who went on to a long career in Hollywood, who from her appearance here seems to have been the Natalie Portman of her day.

But this is Lon Chaney’s show, and as usual, even to modern eyes his performance is compelling and affecting. For me, as with many people of my generation, it can take some work to get into a silent movie, but it’s not that way with Chaney’s filmography. For one thing, he almost always played grotesques, eccentrics, and freaks — that stuff works in any era.

For another, and maybe it’s the nature of the roles, but Chaney feels more expressive and more demonstrative than pretty much any other well-known performer of the era, to me at least. His acting is always perfectly modulated, neither too much nor too little, and thereby ensures that you hardly need the title cards to follow the story.

Laugh, Clown, Laugh is a great showcase for Lon Chaney, and the nature of the circus setting makes it a baroque experience, and well worth watching, but to me, it didn’t feel quite as transcendently weird as the movies I’ve seen that Chaney made with director Tod Browning. One of those is The Unknown.

It was probably Hugo that did it, but I went on a silent movie kick for a while there. So this is a movie I only got around to at the end of last year. It holds up and then some. The Unknown (1927) is one of the strongest collaborations between director Tod Browning and star Lon Chaney. In it, Lon Chaney plays an armless knife thrower named Alonzo The Armless.

For real now: Doesn’t that make you want to skip the rest of this article right now and go watch this movie?

All of the Tod Browning/ Lon Chaney collaborations I’ve seen are exactly this level of crazy. These two artists were, for a while there, as perfect a match as Leone and Eastwood. Besides his command of eerie and ominous atmosphere behind the camera, Browning had been a circus performer himself, a clown and a daredevil, so he knew these worlds. Chaney was a master of pathos and the macabre, fully able to meet any of the bizarre physical demands Browning needed from him.

Needless to say I’m a Tod Browning fan. Nobody else made movies like his. The closest you could come, for that mix of playful and menacing, is arguably early Tim Burton, or recent Alex De La Iglesia. I spent time studying Browning’s movies, most notably Freaks, for one of the comics I wrote. (Still available in stores and online!)

But Freaks came a few years after The Unknown — it’s better-known because it has sound and because the titular “freaks” were actually deformed, whereas Chaney was only playing at it (albeit doing so while in excruciating pain, if you read up on the history.) The Unknown also comes before Laugh, Clown, Laugh in the Lon Chaney chronology. This is a much more depraved character, in a much more depraved movie.

Chaney plays Alonzo The Armless, a sideshow freak whose act is flinging knives at his partner Nanon (Joan Crawford) using only his feet. He can do other things with his feet, such as play guitar…

…But the main thing to look out for is that knife-throwing. Alonzo’s not that nice a guy, and he’s also a fake. Turns out he has both his arms — he’s only hiding out in the circus because he’s a career criminal, who is easily identifiable because he has two thumbs on one hand.

TWO

THUMBS

ON

ONE

HAND.

This movie is wild. Okay, so Alonzo is a genetic aberration, but not the kind he purports to be. It’s the perfect cover story! Because not only does he need to hide his identity from the authorities, but he’s trying to not let on to Nanon, the woman he loves, that he is THE SAME TWO-THUMBED MAN WHO KILLED HER FATHER!

Alonzo’s only confidante is a little person named Cojo. It really just keeps getting better, doesn’t it? Alonzo fumes to Cojo as his beloved Nanon gets closer to the circus strongman — but not too close, as since her father was killed, she has developed a phobia of being held. This in turn leaves the door wide open for the romantic advances of Alonzo, as long as he doesn’t reveal to her that he actually does have arms. (It’s a little bit like Tootsie!) Alonzo gets so wrapped up in his babe that he makes the spectacularly bad decision to go get his arms amputated. Fellas, don’t make this mistake with your lady, and I’ll tell you why: While he’s recovering, Nanon gets over her arm phobia. Not only that, but she announces that she’s marrying the circus strongman. Well, Alonzo doesn’t take this news well at all, and that’s where everything gets really Tod Browning all over everybody.

What’s so compelling and so unusual about The Unknown, and about so many of Tod Browning’s films, is that it begins on a malevolent note and that only intensifies, until the typically violent climax, where the movie’s villain gets a karmic comeuppance so horrible that it’s barely even gratifying to watch. And of course what’s so uncommon, never more than today, is how the movie’s villain was the main character and the biggest star. It just shows how very much Lon Chaney brought to the movie, and to movies in general. How many stars are brave enough to allow themselves to be shown in so ugly a light? Alonzo is an evil, angry, murderous character, only occasionally sympathetic, but clearly that doesn’t keep him from being interesting. Tod Browning’s movies were provocative, profound, and truly valuable because his bad people were truly nasty brutes, and the so-called “freaks” were the most human out of anyone. Then again, being human doesn’t always mean being good either. The world is a complicated place.

For more on Tod Browning, here again are my pieces on The Unholy Three, and of course, on Dracula.

And here’s the renowned Dave Kehr on several other Lon Chaney films.

And here’s me on Twitter, sadly far less than silent: @jonnyabomb

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Predator was released 25 years ago, on July 12th, 1987.  The movie was written by Jim and John Thomas (with possible on-set contributions from Lethal Weapon’s Shane Black, who also played the Sgt. Rock comic-loving Hawkins) and it was directed by John McTiernan (whose very next film was Die Hard) .  It’s one of my favorite movies, so I watched it last night to mark the occasion.

The following is what happens when you deprive me of sleep for a couple weeks and then mix me and an internet connection with a movie I’ve been known to say I love like a brother.

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It’s the 25th anniversary of the original release of Predator.  If you doubt this is a thing I’d actually celebrate, get to know me better!

Here’s to 25 more years of love and friendship! #PREDATOR

“Goodbye” by Alan Silvestri, off the score from Predator. #gonnahavemesomefun

Old Painless. #namestocallmyprivates

The #PREDATOR platoon includes three future lawmakers, the director of Iron Man 3, the director of Sister Act 2, and Carl Weathers. #victory

No one ever remembers poor Poncho. #PREDATOR

“If these guys are Central Americans, I’m a goddamn Chinaman.” (Mac does not appear to possess Asian lineage.) #PREDATOR

Arnold actually never sounds more awkward than when he’s saying swear words.  #PREDATOR

It’s so silly that Arnold is the star of this movie.  Or any movie, really.  It gets weirder the more you think about it.  #PREDATOR

“Hey Billy, get me a way out of this hole.”  #thingsArnoldmightalsosayatanorgy

Fun fact: Carl Weathers and Elpidia Carrillo later reteamed for Dangerous Passion, the insane movie I watched the other night.  #PREDATOR

Fun fact:  The guy in the Predator suit also played Harry in Harry & The Hendersons, which also was released in 1987! #silveranniversary

#PREDATOR has moments of magic that none of the sequels or remakes have been able to approximate. I’m serious!

A partial list would include:

Sonny Landham’s laugh. #PREDATOR

Mac and Blaine’s friendship. #PREDATOR

“We’re all gonna die.”

Billy admitting he’s scared. #PREDATOR

Mac’s moonlight soliloquy. And then the surprise pig attack. #PREDATOR

The razor snapping off against Mac’s cheek. (Mac is kind of the most watchable character for me on this go-round.) #PREDATOR

Carl Weathers’ disembodied arm refusing to lay down and die. #PREDATOR

That splash in the lake the very moment after Arnold collapses in the mud. #PREDATOR

Food for thought: #PREDATOR shows a friendship in irrevocable decline (Dutch & Dillon) against one that will never die (Mac & Blaine).

Or maybe the fact that Dutch tosses Dillon the gun when they split up means there’s [briefly] hope for their friendship after all. #PREDATOR

Dutch tells Anna “he didn’t kill you because you weren’t armed”, yet when Dillon is disarmed (literally) the Predator axes him anyway. #notfair #badpun

The Predator is a total dick, for the record. The won’t-shoot-if-you-don’t-have-a-weapon thing does not at all level the playing field WHEN YOU CAN TURN INVISIBLE.

They love because they are so alike.

It’s worth noting that #PREDATOR is structured a whole lot like a slasher film, with Arnold in the Jamie Lee Curtis role. #genderstudies

I’d love to get Dick Cheney’s take, considering that the Predator is a recreational hunter who royally screws over the American military.

Now realizing that I ranked #PREDATOR too low on my all-time top-50. Gonna be time soon for an update.

But that’s it for now.  Good night, #PREDATOR.  Good night, @Twitter-platoon.  Cuidado a “el cazador trofeo de los hombres.” It’s the hot season.

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See also:  Predators (2010)

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Now go ahead.  Mess with me on Twitter: @jonnyabomb

The following is what happened when I had to watch Wild Hogs, the movie where four middle-aged movie stars start a motorcycle gang in the interest of wacky slapstick comedy. This one ain’t headed for the Criterion Collection, amigos.

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Okay guys, here goes: WILD HOGS. Somebody teamed up Tim Allen, John Travolta, and Martin Lawrence, and somebody else is making me watch it.

In case you were worried I was doing this voluntarily, be reassured (and empathetic) — this is a MST3K, prisoner-on-the-shuttle scenario.

Movie opens with “Gimme Some Lovin” by the Spencer Davis Group. You heard this tune in The Blues Brothers, the one time it was used well, and as a result it’s appeared in every mediocre movie trailer since.

When you hear “Gimme Some Lovin”, it’s standard movie code for “get ready for a real good time!” It rarely works out that way.

Here, watch the first scene along with me, if you’re up to it — but before we do, let’s have a friendly wager: Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, and William H. Macy. Which one of these actors will be the first to fall off his motorcycle?

Got your pick? OK…

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If you guessed it would be the one with the most respected acting career (and most likely the most gifted of the bunch), you were right: H. Macy is the one who eats street.

From Mamet to the Coens to P.T. Anderson to this…

Humble prediction: I will get to see the other three fall off motorcycles at some point in this motion picture.

L. to r.: Fuck you, fuck you, and fuck you the most.

Would you like to guess each character’s career (before they give them up to become bikers, of course)?

First up: Tim Allen.

Plays a dentist.

Next…

Martin Lawrence: Aspiring writer. Don’t laugh.

Well, not until the part when he gets a side gig as a plumber and the first poo joke happens.

Macy’s job: Something with computers. It doesn’t matter what, right? He’s a nerd! LOL!

Travolta does something with business. He’s rich but losing it all. Good time for a mid-life crisis purchase.

(Or for Scientology!)

((Or for movies about Scientology?))

In the meantime, Macy just took his second motorcycle-based pratfall in less than seven minutes.

Starting to get the sense that Macy’s primary character description is “the clumsy one.” #whydoesthismovieneedmartinthen

In Wild Hogs, Tichina Arnold plays Martin Lawrence’s wife. In other words, this movie takes place in an alternate reality where Martin married Pam, not Gina.

It should come as little surprise that the soundtrack features “Slow Ride” by Foghat. #predictable

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And also, of course, “Who Do You Love” — but the George Thorogood version, naturally, not the Bo Diddley.

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Actually, I can save time and tell you right now that this movie has exactly the generic old-white-guy road-movie soundtrack you entirely expect it will.

First gay-panic joke in what will no doubt be a string: Macy rides on back of Travolta’s bike, inexplicably sniffing his neck.

Travolta’s response: “If you ever lay your head on my back again when you’re riding bitch, I’ll throw you into traffic.” #dothprotesttoomuch

Travolta referenced The Wild Bunch and my heart leapt for a second — “Can I watch it? Can I? Can I?” — then crashed back to reality.

A better movie, by a degree of billions.

Second gay-panic joke: Travolta wants to take a manly trip, “like in Deliverance”, and the other guys think he’s crazy, because butt sex.

Travolta’s dream vacation (allegedly).

;

Soon enough, all four guys gather around the campfire, where Macy moderates a debate over which of the other three has made the worst movies.

“I made The Santa Clause 3!”

“I made Bad Boys 2!”

“I made Battlefield Earth!”

“Shit, you win.”

Advantage (by a hairpiece): Travolta.

“Kneel before Terl!”

Gay-panic joke number three: Macy burns down the camping tent so they all have to share a sleeping bag. Macy nuzzles up to Travolta again.

Gay-panic joke #4: This dialogue: “My ass is sore. Woody rode us so hard yesterday. The human body wasn’t made to straddle something so big for so long.”

John C. McGinley has been better in better.

Gay-panic joke #5: A highway cop (John C. McGinley) finds the guys in the sleeping bag. Looks at first like he’s disgusted but — suprise — in fact he’s turned on.

(What does this movie have against talented character actors who use middle initials?)

((Oh, and against gay people?))

(((And why is Travolta’s character the ringleader in the majority of the anti-gay jokes, huh?)))

Question: Does Tarantino ever look at what Travolta has primarily been up to since the resurrection and think, “What have I done?!?”

Actually, shit: Since Pulp Fiction, Travolta’s got Face/Off, Get Shorty, and a tiny part in The Thin Red Line. That’s all that’s been inarguably worthwhile. All else has been simply tragic.

If you were hoping fora scene where the guys strip down and go skinny-dipping, great luck! And look, here comes another gay-panic joke…

#6: Travolta, last to strip: “Fine. I will get naked with my gay friends, and if any of them look at my junk, I will kill them.”

#7: When Travolta gets a look at Macy’s naked butt, he yells “Ew!” Meanwhile, even Martin’s able to take it in stride. #strange

“That collection of man-tits you ordered, ma’am.”

#8 The guys are still naked when John C. McGinley returns, nude himself & ready to party. Way they react, you’d think he was Henry Lee Lucas.

When I started in on this movie, I figured it would be bad, and I was right, but I didn’t reckon on all the homophobia. #wildhogs

I’m getting depressed. How about a scene where the guys walk into a biker bar and the music stops?

Maybe even a good old-fashioned record scratch?

Oh, here’s one. Right on time! #predictable

What was the name of Barbarino’s gang in Welcome Back Kotter? The Sweathogs? #justsaying #regression

Tim Allen. John Travolta. Martin Lawrence. William H. Macy.

If the Wild Hogs are a gang, they’re a gang (Martin aside) heavily inspired by the look of “Little Steven” Van Zandt.

Hey, now here come Ray Liotta, Kevin Durand, and M.C. Gainey, in a vain attempt to energize the movie. A fool’s errand, but at least a few cool actors made a little money.

Bon Jovi on the soundtrack. Awful. Inevitable. #whitepeoplemadethismovie

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Now “Highway To Hell”. Which I will link to, as it is at least a good song, if forever overused.

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Actually, I think AC/DC belongs to Iron Man now. You want to take from Iron Man without asking? He’s got a Hulk, you know.

Gay panic joke #9…

Liotta: “Those bikers got BALLS.”

Durand: “I’m gonna put ’em in my mouth and chew on ’em.”

Liotta: “You’re gonna put WHAT in your mouth?”

Best part of the movie by far.

One thing I did not expect from this movie was a cowboy Kyle Gass singing Ginuwine:

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FYI: KG returns again later on, to sing a Pussycat Dolls song and then this one, which I Googled and found to be amazing within or without context:

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[Looks like all the Kyle Gass Wild Hogs clips are on YouTube. PLEASE stick to those. Stay on the path! Beware the moors!]

Kyle Gass is shouldering a lot of the comedic weight of this movie. It doesn’t seem fair, but it does make me miss Tenacious D.

Marisa Tomei is in this movie. The same year she was in Wild Hogs, she was in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. It must be weird to be an actor.

If anyone’s still reading, let me please recommend Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead — an insanely underrated movie and Sidney Lumet’s last.

Anyway, let’s stop talking about great movies and get back to Wild Hogs. Where were we? Oh, right, the fair.

Martin did not respect MC Gainey’s battle-rap skills.

Basically, if you need to see Martin Lawrence squirt mustard at M.C. Gainey then kick him in the nuts, know that there is a movie to serve that need.

Peter Fonda showed up at the very end of Wild Hogs for a cameo. You can almost literally watch him pick up the paycheck/ watch the dreams of hippies die.

I’d like to write more about how symbolic casting can be misappropriated until it means nothing, but I’m running out of time and energy.

Say something nice about Wild Hogs, Jonny:

At least H. Macy, not Travolta, is the one to end up with Tomei. Then again, there are weird reasons for it.

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Anything nice to say, in conclusion?

When I got today’s assignment, I thought it was OLD DOGS. So at least it wasn’t that. #wildhogs

Could I personally improve Wild Hogs?

Easily. Add three words… “ALBERT NOBBS in: WILD HOGS.”

Then there is the revelation, at story’s end, that Peter Fonda is Ray Liotta’s character’s father. That is certainly a biker movie I might watch.

In the end, what is there to say about Wild Hogs?

Well in the end, there is a Bon Jovi song.

So fuck that movie.

#wildhogs

Find me on Twitter, where this kind of thing happens all the time: @jonnyabomb

Project Nim is a documentary about a chimpanzee transported from the wild and used in a project by Columbia professor Herbert Terrace who wanted to study what would happen if an ape was raised in close proximity to humans.  In true human fashion, Terrace and his assistants quickly discover they’ve taken on too much, and Nim is passed from foster home to foster home throughout his development, until later in life he wound up at an animal sanctuary where he spent the rest of his years.  There are plenty of entertainingly eccentric and downright bizarre elements to the story, such as the now-grown children of Nim’s first adoptive human mother complaining about being treated as second-favorite, or the tossed-off detail of how that first mother chose to nurture Nim (you’ll know my reaction as soon as you hear it).  But primarily, Nim’s is a sad story, to me at least.  It’s a Promethean myth in miniature, only far more frustrating because it really happened.

James Marsh, the director, also made Man On Wire, the 2008 documentary about the brazen Frenchman who walked a tightrope between the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center in 1974.  Here is my brief capsule review of Man On Wire (also from 2008):

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If there truly is life on other planets, I hope that France is not the first country to make contact.  The French are just not like the rest of the people of earth.  Only a man born and raised in France could ever say something like this, talking about a life-threatening stunt:  “If I die.. what a beautiful death, to die in the exercise of your passion.”

And only a Frenchwoman could state about that speaker, admiringly:  “Every day is like a work of art for him.”

That kind of thinking is what is so fascinating and so maddening about the French.  Man On Wire is a documentary about the group of young people who snuck into the Twin Towers in New York City in 1974 so that one of them could walk a tightrope between them.  A truly thrilling, truly pointless act.  The movie bounces between modern-day interviews, archived footage, and re-enactments, staging the preparation of the stunt like a crime movie (which technically, it is), and leaving the ultimate historical context in the background, without exactly ignoring it.

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So as you can see, James Marsh is something of an expert in vividly detailing the bold follies and arguable successes of iconoclastic endeavors enacted in the 1970s.  Both Philippe Petit, the daredevil, and Herbert Terrace, the scientist, had unique and frankly crazy notions, enlisted collaborators, and undertook their respective projects.  The significant difference is, only one of them pulled it off.

What follows is my stream-of-consciousness as I first watched Project Nim.  It’s all fun and games until someone… well, you’ll see.

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9:26 PM – Watching Project Nim. This is some crazy shit. This lady is breastfeeding the chimpanzee already and it’s only ten minutes into the movie.

9:31 PM – The chimp is smoking pot and drinking beers. There’s weird sex talk also. Matt Broderick had Project X?  This is shaping up to be PROJECT XXX.

9:32 PM – So far, the moral seems to be that chimps are smart like humans, but should not be raised by swingers. Good advice all around.

9:40 PM – The following is a list of some of the words the scientists taught young Nim to use.

One word is not like the others.

9:46 PM – Chimp is a cat person.

Note: This is not Nim but I was determined to find a picture of a chimp holding a kitten.

9:49 PM – These lab people are hooking up with each other all over the place. I’m starting to think that the 1970s porno-professor guy is not the best role model for Nim.

9:54 PM – Nim is currently dry-humping a kitten.  Guess I was right about the influence, unfortunately.

10:02 PM – If this were a feature, the porno-professor guy would be played by Hector Elizondo.

Sadly, that means Garry Marshall would be the one directing.

10:05 PM – If Caesar and Koba were ever to see this movie, they’d be PISSED. #riseoftheplanetoftheapes

10:20 PM – Chimp is smoking pot again.

PINE-APE-LE EXPRESS. #wrongmovie

10:48 PM – Done. That story took some real dark turns. And you all should definitely see it. #projectnim

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What I was getting at, by the end of the string there, is the sense this movie leaves you with, that sinking suspicion that Nim is no better off for having been raised and “educated” by humans than he would have been had he been left to grow up in the wilderness with his birth movie.

In fact, the movie would seem to be ammunition for a considerable argument that Nim’s exposure to humanity, our emotional, impetuous inconsistencies and our heartless, bullheaded bureaucracies, was singularly destructive to his life and his happiness.  Every last bit of heartache we see in the course of this film may or may not have been circumvented by simply leaving well enough alone in the first reel.

So as good as this movie is, and as simultaneously calmly objective and subtly persuasive as it is, don’t expect anybody to learn anything.  Man has been meddling with nature since we first started poking saber-toothed tigers with sticks.  It’ll be that way until the dinosaurs come back and the last man on earth is working on taming hyper-evolved velociraptors.

Sorry, were you expecting less cynicism about our stupid self-centered pink species?  Maybe if you’d caught me earlier in the month, before I stumbled across news stories like this one, or maybe this one, or maybe the thousands of similar ones from the past week alone.  But no, this is man we’re talking about.  We’re the ones who pull the wings off butterflies and then act befuddled that they don’t fly or look as pretty as they used to.  Project Nim can be seen as a cautionary tale, but since it can only fall across the eyes of the most casually recidivist species that has ever existed on Planet Earth, it’s unlikely that the caution can be heeded.

In the meantime, I can be found on Twitter: @jonnyabomb

 

For all the shit that gets talked about Cleopatra, Heaven’s Gate, Ishtar, Howard The Duck, Gigli, Waterworld, and John Carter, 1980’s The Apple is one of the lesser-acknowledged costly debacles in cinematic history.  Coming from the legendary Golan-Globus production team, The Apple is a sci-fi disco musical/ Biblical allegory set in a future America (1994!) but filmed in Germany.

Wait, what? 

A couple Israelis take an inexperienced Canadian cast to Germany in order to tell a story about the religious collapse of a futuristic version of America, and the entire thing is set to song?  At the apex of the disco era? 

No way that could fail, right?

Now that you know what it is, here’s what happened when I watched The Apple at 2am one morning while signed in to Twitter:

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Now watching The Apple, because I love weird disasters and torturing myself with movies.

Here’s the trailer to The Apple:

 

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This movie is already hysterical.

Since one of the first sights we witness is that of a battalion of armored policemen synchronized in dance, I have no choice but to follow this movie wherever it leads.

From what I can tell thus far, The Apple is basically a nihilistic, dystopian Running Man/ American Idol fantasia.

The Apple presents us with the Golan-Globus team’s idea of the future, which in 1980 is how they referred to 1994.

Who are Golan-Globus?  The production team of Menahem Golan (The Apple‘s writer & director) and Yoram Globus, they also brought us Cobra, Over The Top, the Breakin‘ films, and a whole lot of ninja movies, among others.

     

   

And this is their musical.

Here’s the opening scene:

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(Notice how this movie uses the word “bim” more often than my pals over on Tremont Avenue do.) #thebronx #theapple #urbandictionary

Choose any scene at random, and two things become clear:  A) This movie is an absolute disaster, and B) it’s hard to discard the notion that it’s still got more imagination in five frames than most movies do in fifty minutes.

Half an hour into the movie, and they’ve gone to Hell for a musical sequence with animal masks. There are no longer words.  There are, however, vampires.

 

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But is there a reggae-aerobics musical number? Yes! There is that also.

 

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The kaleidoscopic musical number “Coming” marks the first time I’ve ever seen a musical number that is explicitly about fucking.

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A disco-porno-sci-fi musical featuring clowns, midgets, and Canadians? Yeah. There’s plenty here to chew on comedically.

You might have noticed “Mr. Boogalow.”  He’s this movie’s incarnation of the Devil, and he is mentioned by name very many times. 

There he is, the shit version of Roy Scheider in ALL THAT JAZZ.

Glad I’m not drinking while watching  because if I was, I’d drink every time someone said “Mr. Boogalow”, and if I did that, I’d be dead.

At one point in the story, the young hero seeks refuge in a colony of hippies “from the 1960s.”  Hippies from the 1960s still partying in 1994.  Do you know what that means?  GOLAN-GLOBUS PREDICTED WOODSTOCK ’94!!!

The movie’s heroine is played by Catherine Mary Stewart, who I loved in Night Of The Comet.  Me and every other horror nerd in the universe.

Catherine Mary Stewart in NIGHT OF THE HUNTER.

Catherine Mary Stewart in THE APPLE.

 

Catherine Mary Stewart’s character in The Apple is named Bibi, which is also the name of the robot from Deadly Friend. #Iwatchbadmovies

BB in DEADLY FRIEND.

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Catherine Mary Stewart is lovely, but did you know The Apple also gives you a svelte young Miriam Margolyes (The Age Of Innocence, Romeo + Juliet, James & The Giant Peach, Magnolia)? 

Miriam Margolyes as you may know her today.

Miriam Margolyes in THE APPLE.

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And as long as we’re looking up pictures of distinguished character actors who appeared in The Apple, let’s all take a moment to enjoy Joss Ackland’s IMDb headshot:

 

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You know Joss Ackland as De Nomolos from Bill & Ted‘s Bogus Journey, or as the villain in Lethal Weapon 2

“Diplomatic immunity.”

True Hollywood Trivia!:  When director Richard Donner heard Joss Ackland’s …um… distinctive singing voice in The Apple, he considered adding a musical number to the climax of Lethal Weapon 2. #nottrue 

Revision to True Hollywood Trivia!:  If there had been a musical number in Lethal Weapon 2, it would have been called “Diplomatic Immunity.” #definitelytrue 

Just so you know: Near the end of The Apple, God comes down from the clouds in a space-Bentley and walks all the hippies up to heaven.

I was all doped up with cold medicine when I watched The Apple so it seems fair to consider the possibility that I hallucinated that last part. #butIdidnt

IMDb reports that: “Reportedly, during [the premiere of The Apple], audiences threw their free souvenir soundtracks at the screen, causing extensive damage.”  Yet the damage had already been done.

IMDb also reports, “Director Menahem Golan has said that he felt like committing suicide after the picture was booed at the 1980 Montreal Film Festival.” 

I know how Golan felt, or at least I have ever since I wrote up the phrase “a svelte young Miriam Margolyes.”

Seriously though, imagine having to watch this movie over and over again in the editing room.  The rest of us only have to watch The Apple one or none times.  How many times did Menahem Golan have to watch it?  And is it any wonder why he turned his attention primarily towards making violent revenge movies afterwards? 

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If you want to learn more about The Apple, there’s this review of the DVD from Entertainment Weekly (they gave it an A!!!), or better still…

Please check out the epic episode of the great Projection Booth podcast which features interviews from many of the principals, including Catherine Mary Stewart.  It gives a thorough picture of the production and the reception of this uniquely bizarre movie, and features more than the usual amount of utterances of the word “Menahem”, which is also great.

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And if you’re in need of more from me, follow me on Twitter: @jonnyabomb

Leave your high-concepts on your smartphones, eggheads:  All you really have to do to arch my eyebrows is to combine the phrases “great white sharks” and “Halle Berry” into the same sentence.

Dark Tide is the newest movie from star Halle Berry and director John Stockwell, and it’s not great news for either of them (or a good sign to the rest of us) that it went straight to DVD without a theatrical release.  Halle Berry is, of course, a world-famous movie star, but you might not know who John Stockwell is.  In addition to being an actor himself (Top Gun, Christine, My Science Project) and apparently the uncle of Florence from Florence + The Machine, he’s successfully transitioned into a career as a director of some note.  I was really into his movie Crazy/Beautiful, not so much Into The Blue — see, it takes more than Jessica Alba in a bikini to get me excited about a movie!

It takes Halle Berry in a bikini.  And great white sharks.

My history with Dark Tide is A) featuring it in my Top 50 Most Awaited of 2012 list, B) making fun of the poster (the more moody one above is much better), and C) finally watching the movie.  Despite its attention-getting elements — again, those being Halle Berry and great white sharks, as I will keep repeating because it gives me joy — the movie couldn’t fully hold my attention.  The following is what happened when I took to Twitter during Dark Tide.  (Watch as the enthusiasm is bludgeoned out of me, in real-time!)

(Note the hilariously non-self-aware tagline.  No character in this film exhibits courage at any point during the events depicted.)

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Watching the shit out of Dark Tide, the movie where Halle Berry cavorts with great white sharks at Seal Island. It’s my kind of bad movie.  [OR SO I THOUGHT AT FIRST…]

  • Serious film scholars would weep at the numbers of great films I haven’t bothered to see just because they don’t have Halle Berry or great white sharks.

“The funny thing about memories is, you remember the good ones, and forget the shitty.” — Halle Berry as “Kate Mathiesen”, #DarkTide

  • No offense, but “Kate Mathiesen” is scarcely plausible as the name of a character played by Halle Berry.

In real life, Halle Berry has apparently shacked up with her Dark Tide costar, Olivier Martinez (who is very French). They must have bonded over their career-worst acting in this flick.

That isn’t to say that this Olivier Martinez guy could necessarily point us to an example of his career-best acting.

  • “Jeff Mathieson” is scarcely plausible as the name of a character played by Olivier Martinez.

It’s a legitimate cruelty, what this French guy is doing to the English language. It was funny at first but now my ears ache.

CREEP FACTOR:  A shot lasting a minute has Halle Berry bending over in a bikini while some guy off-camera goes, “Now that’s more like it.”  #skeevy

Two characters watching a shark swim past the boat.

“He’s huge…”

“She’s a he.”

“How do you know it’s a male?”

“I can see his claspers on his anal fins. Essentially that’s like two penises.” #DarkTide

SAFETY NOTE:  If you’re ever at the beach and you hear the word “claspers”, get the fuck out of the water immediately and don’t ever look back.

  • ON A PERSONAL NOTE:  The only character more unbearable than the French guy is the dude driving the boat. He’s the Afrikaaner Robin Williams. #accents

CINEMATIC BLACK-GUY DEATH TOLL 2012: So far the only two shark victims in this movie have been black.  What the hell is it with this particular cliche?  Every single white character is completely insufferable, yet the sharks only hunger for the brothers. I hate movies sometimes.

RIP, guy on Halle’s right.

  • Innovative overboard vomiting shot. #check

“He wants to see big ones? I’ll show him big ones.” — Halle Berry, #DarkTide

  • It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film with a complete absence of story.  This is one of them.  Despite all the bikini stuff, believe it or not, I’d actually like to have a story too.

I’m sure it sounds like I’m not enjoying this movie much, and I’m not, but they’re periodically showing GWS footage so I continue.

The Australians call that a Yoooge shaaahhk!

  • We were promised the movie would end after an hour & 34 minutes. We’re well past that. Occasionally #IMDb and #Netflix will lie.

The moral of #DarkTide is: Do not get into a shark cage at Seal Island in the middle of a typhoon. Anybody on earth considering doing that?

Find me on Twitter, where this kind of thing happens all the time: @jonnyabomb

Trespass is a vastly-underrated, hugely-watchable flick from the great Walter Hill (The Warriors, 48 Hrs., Streets Of Fire), with a script by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis (Used Cars, Back To The Future).  It’s a loose remake of The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre — in this case the greedy search for gold involves two opportunistic firefighters who venture into an abandoned building in search of treasure, witness a gang hit, and are stalked relentlessly by the gang for the rest of the movie.

I’m going to try a little experiment, since I fired off a volley on Twitter as I was watching this movie.  I’m going to cluster all those Tweets together, with illustrations, and see if the “list of thoughts” format is as interesting as the way I usually write about movies.  (It’s all relative.)  My gut tells me this is a lazier way to do it, but you never know, maybe some people will find it more readable than usual.  Here goes:

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Now watching Trespass, starring Bills Paxton & Sadler, and Ices T & Cube. It’s a two-Bill, two-Ice kinda picture.

Bill.

Bill.

Ice.

Ice.

First thing you see in Trespass are the words: “East St. Louis, ILL”. I’m in the right movie.  (Ill.)

A man catches on fire and burns away in the first couple minutes of Trespass. I’m in the right movie.

Throughout Trespass, Bill Paxton and Ice-T are both sporting the same mullet. I’m in the right movie.

 

Trespass is a great showcase for veteran character actor Bill Sadler (The Shawshank Redemption).  If you don’t know Bill Sadler by name, you definitely know his face. He’s basically a terrific blend of Willem Dafoe and Gary Busey.

  

 

A reference to Geraldo Rivera illustrates how that dude has been a punchline for at least twenty years.  Nice longevity, dickhead.

Argyle from Die Hard is sixth billed in this movie.  Victory!

Fifth billed is Art Evans, who I recognized but couldn’t identify. Upon an IMDb search, I discovered he was also in a Die Hard movie. #2. Die Harder. With Bill Sadler!

If I could summarize the fashion in this movie, it’d be as the halfway point between Ready For The World and “Ready To Die.”

Cube’s character is named Savon, which explains where the pharmacy chain got its name. #TRESPASS

Trespass features the great Tommy “Tiny” Lister (Friday), and also Byron Minns from Black Dynamite.

Fun fact about Trespass, via #IMDb: “There are no women whatsoever in this movie.”

Only “problem” with this movie is that I’m rooting against it’s “heroes”, Sadler (playing a dick) and Paxton (playing a punk).  It’s much easier to root for the Ices.

Let’s face it: I’m always, always going to root for the guys who listen to Public Enemy over the guys who don’t.

Okay, I’m signing off.  This is a Walter Hill movie and as such it warrants my full attention.  More in daylight, maybe. #TRESPASS

Find me on Twitter: @jonnyabomb