Empty Balcony: Renegades, aka American Renegades

The Luc Besson action mill has turned out some of the most successful action flicks of this century, and also some of the genre’s most overwrought messes. Renegades (released in the States as American Renegades) lies somewhere in between. It has the grandiosity one would expect from a Besson-produced action flick, but the end product is something anonymous.

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Empty Balcony: Triple Frontier

Netflix is in a battle with the Hollywood establishment. Hollywood patting itself on the back, in the form of endless awards shows in the winter, is more than just a glad-handing circle jerk. There is a lot of money at stake. Hollywood is a business, and the rules the establishment sets aren’t meant to maintain artistic integrity or anything else so noble. They are meant to protect the interests of the established players. The arcane rules of Hollywood state that a movie isn’t eligible for an award if it premiered in any other place than a movie theater. Should a movie premiere on something as ephemeral as the internet, it’s not a movie, apparently. That’s silly and stupid, and it’s only a matter of time before the powers that be are forced to reverse that decision. But the legitimacy of the movie theater is why Netflix, distributors of Triple Frontier, gave it a limited release in theaters before throwing it into their online catalogue. It doesn’t matter, though. If this flick gets nominated for any awards I’ll be shocked. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Triple Frontier”

Empty Balcony: Black Sea

Is Jude Law still famous? I ask because appearing in a film like 2014’s Black Sea is either the sign of a flagging career, or a sign it’s time to find a new agent. Every star eventually ends up doing marginal projects like this. Go ahead and peruse the output of Bruce Willis or Nicolas Cage for a pair of prominent examples. And that’s good for the shitty movie fan. A little talent in a shitty movie can go a long way. Too bad this flick isn’t shitty. It’s just mediocre. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Black Sea”

Empty Balcony: Point Break

It’s somewhat amazing, but Point Break, the 1991 action flick from director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter W. Peter Iliff, has become a classic. It’s a film that’s loaded with contemporary action tropes. It’s also one of the flicks that, despite its success, can be pointed to as partly responsible for the downfall of 1980s-style action films. It has aged well over time, but when it came out it was an eye-roller. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Point Break”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Olympus Has Fallen

I’m heartened by the savviness shown by the audience members during a showing of Olympus Has Fallen this weekend. This was a crowd that was having none of director Antoine Fuqua’s shenanigans. It was clear from the moment the first commercials hit the airwaves that this film would be utter nonsense. It appeared that most of the people in the theater came with the knowledge they would be watching a total piece of shit, and they didn’t care. They were there for the shitty, for the schadenfreude, and for all the other reasons that bad movies entertain us. They were laughing and groaning in all the right places. It was my kind of crowd. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Olympus Has Fallen”

The Empty Balcony: Three Kings

There haven’t been that many films made about the Persian Gulf War. A quick search in the tubes only turned up a handful. A quick, forgetful war (from the American perspective, anyway), there would have been no real lasting impact on American society wrought by the conflict had it not been for our recent misadventures in the desert. We tore a bloody swath through Kuwait and Iraq for one hundred hours in 1991, and came home intact and victorious. We seemed to dictate everything that happened on the ground and in the air. The war was fought on our terms completely. Mistakes were few, casualties were few, while damage inflicted on the enemy was severe. We decided when it began, and we decided when it was over. For us, it was the perfect war. Our only problem was we failed to recognize that the enemies of the future could learn lessons from it. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Three Kings”

The Empty Balcony: The Train

One day into filming of 1964’s The Train, director Arthur Penn was fired at the urging of star Burt Lancaster and replaced with John Frankenheimer. Penn had apparently conceived the film as largely a cerebral examination of the effect and importance of art to the French national consciousness during the Nazi occupation. A not unworthy aspiration, and one that could someday make a fine film. In hiring Frankenheimer, who had such films as Seven Days in May and The Manchurian Candidate under his belt, the decision was made that the plot of The Train should be driven by tension and action. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: The Train”