Empty Balcony: Shot Caller

Jacob (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) was having a good day. He and a co-worker, Tom (Max Greenfield), were about to close a big deal, and took their wives out for a double-date to celebrate. Too bad for Jacob, then, that he had one or two too many drinks. Otherwise, the red light he ran, and the accident he caused that killed Tom, probably would not have resulted in jail time. As it is, vehicular homicide and all the DUI stuff has left Jacob with a two and a half year stretch in a maximum security prison. His lawyer advises his upper middle class client not to show weakness while serving his time, and Jacob decides to run with that advice. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Shot Caller”

Stallone Month: Bullet to the Head

If there is one positive from Hurricane Katrina, one not worth the cost yet still a positive, it has been the emergence of a Louisiana style of crime filmmaking — a bayou noir. Filmmakers have been drawn to the state in a show of solidarity with the residents of Louisiana and to take advantage of tax credits. It’s a win-win for the film industry and for local economies. Whether or not it’s a win for audiences rests on whether or not these films are worth watching. Continue readingStallone Month: Bullet to the Head”

October Horrorshow: Alien 3

Alien 3This is the film that started the long decline of the Alien franchise, but much of the bad feeling this film generates is misplaced, I think. There’s a lot of love out there for the first two films in the series, so any continuation of the story is going to face both closer scrutiny and higher expectations. I don’t believe there is anything inherently wrong with that, so long as opinions aren’t magnified beyond a reasonable consideration of a film’s quality. Luckily for the filmmakers of Alien 3, it was made in a simpler time — the 1990s — when a franchise flick wasn’t judged with any sort of finality before it was even released.

Alien 3 hails from 1992, and was director David Fincher’s first feature film. He worked from a screenplay cobbled together by David Giler, Walter Hill, and Larry Ferguson, after the project had been bouncing around in development since shortly after Aliens hit it big at the box office. At one point, sci-fi legend William Gibson was hired to write a script by Giler and Hill (who also served as producers on the film). Gibson’s script was wildly different from what was eventually filmed, so much so that he received no writing credit. For the curious, Gibson’s screenplay can be found online. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Alien 3″

October Horrorshow: Below

A ghost story that takes place aboard a World War II submarine. Sometimes I think there are suggestion boxes mounted next to the water cooler at movie studios and once a month the big mogul dips has fat fingers inside to root around for a new idea. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for a movie like Below being greenlit. Luckily for us viewers, just because a movie has kind of a silly idea, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a bad movie. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Below”