Stallone Month: The Specialist

When one thinks of Sylvester Stallone, the first things that come to mind might be Rocky and Rambo. Boxing and explosions. The underdog and the vengeful. There was very much a narrow lane where Sly felt comfortable both as an actor and as a filmmaker. The Specialist, from 1994, at first feels like it fits neatly into the narrative of Sly’s career. In it, he plays an ex-CIA explosives expert turned hitman. That short description brings to mind visions of fiery explosions, gunfights, and maybe even a final fight with a main bad guy. In other words, there is little reason to suspect this film is anything other than an action flick. But it’s not. It’s modern noir, something Sly hadn’t been part of in his career since, maybe, Nighthawks. Continue readingStallone Month: The Specialist”

Empty Balcony: Night Moves

Be warned, this is a spoiler-heavy trailer.

Gene Hackman is still alive! As of this writing he is, anyway. Throughout his career, beginning with a bit role in something called Mad Dog Cole in 1961, to his final appearance in 2004’s Welcome to Mooseport, it was odd for a year to go by without multiple films featuring Hackman. But, after Mooseport, Hackman decided to retire. Too bad. Thank goodness, then, that Hackman plied his trade on the silver screen rather than on stage. His work is still available for all to see, including this little neo-noir flick that has slipped into some obscurity. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Night Moves”

Shitty Movie Sundays: White House Down

White House DownThank goodness for Roland Emmerich. If it weren’t for filmmakers like him, we’d all be stuck watching Terrence Malick and David Lynch films. Please, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not picking on Malick and Lynch for no reason. They’re great filmmakers, as are too many others to mention. But when I thought of great filmmakers whose work is a real slog to get through, those two names popped into my head. You lucked out this time, Werner Herzog.

My point is, there is film as art, and film as escapist adventure. Roland Emmerich resides fully in the latter, his main concern being spectacle. Because of that, his movies require no effort whatsoever to enjoy. And I do mean they require no effort. If a viewer puts effort into his movies, by doing something silly like figuring out how to resolve plot holes, or think through character development that Emmerich couldn’t be bothered with, then enjoyment will not be had during a Roland Emmerich feature film. He embraces in full the ethos behind the big-budget shitty movie (different from the low-budget variety, but still related). His box office numbers prove that most of humanity seems to, as well. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: White House Down”