October Horrorshow: Split Second

Split Second, the 1992 flick from director Tony Maylam and screenwriter Gary Scott Thompson, has all the look and feel one would expect from low-budget Hollywood sci-fi schlock of the era. Everything is lit with colored gels, the film stock stinks, sets look cobbled together from whatever was piled out back behind the lumberyard, most location shots are dirty alleys, the original score is synthesized crap, and, in star Rutger Hauer, there is a fading Hollywood action flick veteran looking to pay some bills. In more ways than just this abbreviated list, Split Second is kin to the products of the Roger Corman gristmill, only this movie comes from England. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Split Second”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Bone Dry

We all have egos, right? There’s no use in pretending that we don’t. Personal and professional relationships can be thought of as a constant battle between our egos and our desire for successful interactions. In other words, not being a dick is learned behavior. I thought of this at the end of Bone Dry, a neo-noir flick released in 2007. That’s because right after the final shot of the film, the credits begin, and they read, “A Brett A. Hart Vision.” Oh, please. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Bone Dry”

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”

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”

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”

Stallone Month: Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams are…NIGHTHAWKS!

Nighthawks, the 1981 film from director Bruce Malmuth and screenwriter David Shaber, sets itself up as a gritty New York City crime drama. The opening features blighted locations from the city’s darkest days, there’s a strong and stupidly simple anti-drug message, and there’s even a police lieutenant with a strong temper. I was expecting a cross between Dirty Harry and The French Connection with that setup. But instead of chasing after some drug lords or a typical big city psycho, the heroes of Nighthawks, NYPD Detective Sergeants Deke DaSilva and Matthew Fox (Sly and Williams), are drafted into a new unit that is after terrorists. Continue readingStallone Month: Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams are…NIGHTHAWKS!”

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”

The Empty Balcony: Nightcrawler

Every serious actor has to do a film where they play a deranged freak — someone sociopathic or supremely bent who decides to interact with the people around them, much to those people’s distress. Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, Christian Bale in American Psycho, Joaquin Phoenix in The Master, Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast, and many others, all played men who were malignancies to every person they met. Jake Gyllenhaal has come close before, but with Nightcrawler, last year’s film from writer/director Dan Gilroy, he has gone full creepy. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Nightcrawler”

The Empty Balcony: Thief

Thief, the debut feature film from writer/director Michael Mann, is a bit of a relic. The 1980s were a weird time, when the progressions of style were suddenly upended and everything went day-glo. Even music changed, utilizing the cost-effective yet grating sound of synthesizers. Michael Mann embraced this decade with gusto, finding a ready home in all the glitz and glamour. His style of filmmaking is so intertwined with the 1980s that I can’t figure out which informed the other. The style is a distinctive one that viewers can readily recognize. But it all had to start somewhere. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Thief”