Stallone Month: Cop Land

Audiences haven’t gotten a lot of Sylvester Stallone in an ensemble cast. Sure, there was a fairly large gathering of stars in the Expendables flicks, but Sly was the star of those films, full stop. Cop Land came after a string of mild box office successes and a couple of flops. Sly’s stock in Hollywood was on the downswing, and when this movie came out, it was touted as a comeback, of sorts. Continue readingStallone Month: Cop Land”

October Horrorshow: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

What a clumsy title. H20. Does it relate to water? Not at all. That’s a zero on the end, not the letter ‘O’. H20, then, is the shortened version of what this movie should have been called — Halloween: 20 Years Later — only shoved right in the middle of the title. Beware films that can’t even get their titles right. As it turns out, though, this flick is redemption for a franchise that had been foundering for the entire 1980s and ’90s. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later”

October Horrorshow, Summer Edition: Halloween (2007) & Halloween II (2009)

Cruelty is a hallmark of Rob Zombie’s films. His antagonists revel in the infliction of pain, and Zombie revels in putting it on film. As a filmmaker, Zombie has embraced the current trend in horror films of making murder graphic and disturbing, bringing it visually closer to the real thing. This is no feather in his cap, nor is it a daring attempt to hold a mirror up to the violent society in which we live. There is no depth or complexity, no higher meaning that is being pursued, no redeeming quality that makes it worth the time and effort it takes to sit through one of his films. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow, Summer Edition: Halloween (2007) & Halloween II (2009)”

The Empty Balcony: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Patrick O’Brian published twenty complete Aubrey-Maturin novels in his lifetime, with an unfinished twenty-first published posthumously. The novels are writ large with swashbuckling tales of life in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. Thick with naval terminology and period slang, O’Brian is quite effective at transporting reader far away from what comfortable chambers they find themselves and placing them smack on the quarterdeck of a ship of war. O’Brian’s novels are far from high-minded and haughty literary endeavor. They succeed as great historical novels through the skill of O’Brian’s narratives, not the cleverness of his prose. Like a true saltwater-in-the-veins sailor, they lose direction slightly when characters find themselves on land for extended periods, but pages fly when O’Brian throws his characters into pitched battles with superior foes (as he always does — O’Brian treats his sailors savagely, always requiring them to beat tremendous odds). Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”