Shitty Movie Sundays: Next

Thank goodness for Nicolas Cage. He could have been like so many other best actor Oscar-winners and gone on to a lifetime of prestige roles and special appearances, but Cage decided to zig instead of zag. He’s a prolific worker, but a casual movie fan can be forgiven should they be unable to name anything he’s been in for the past ten years. He has fully, and without reservation it seems, given his life over to shitty movies. Just this year he has starred in a film about a former government assassin who runs a fleabag hotel in South America, another film about zoo animals running loose on a cargo ship, a neo-noir thriller, a drug wars action flick, an H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, and a second neo-noir thriller. Six movies! And not one of them has been good enough to advertise during sporting events or primetime TV. But, I bet they’re all entertaining flicks. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Next”

Schwarzenegger Month: Total Recall

Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t in any movie released in the year following Twins. I would like to think that he had receded into isolation, that he took the time for some introspection, some reflection on just what it meant to be an action star in the 1980s. Explosions. Big guns. Massive body counts. He was a master of everything that made action flicks great, and just about all of it was discarded in Twins. I hope he found new purpose, a new center, in his life. But very probably, he was enjoying the new house all that Twins money bought him. Seriously, that movie was a smash hit. And so was his next film, Total Recall, which was released in 1990. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Total Recall”

The Empty Balcony: Big Trouble in Little China

As I was watching John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China recently, I was struck by the familiarity of the material. I felt I had seen it before, but in some other context. Confined, mazelike, and windowless environments; various tricks and traps the heroes must overcome; goons, monsters, and the bosses that control them, etc. And there it is. Big Trouble in Little China plays like a videogame. Considering it was released in 1986, before videogames became complex enough to compare, does that mean John Carpenter was breaking new ground, that Big Trouble in Little China is ahead of its time? No. It just reaffirms that the pacing and storytelling of today’s videogames are derivative of cinema. There are plenty of other films from around the same time that are akin to videogames (Aliens, Commando, and Total Recall all come immediately to mind, among many others). Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Big Trouble in Little China”