Saturday, May 24, 2008

Top 5 Movies I Don't Ever Want to Watch

You can't watch everything. But why would you want to?

I own over 1,000 DVDs and they range from Criterion Collection selections to dollar bin Amoeba movies. The pride of my collection is an Old Boy Three Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition which has TONS of special features, a cool tin case, an original 35mm film cell, and a 200-page graphic novel. One of my hidden shames is that I own a copy of Vin Diesel's The Pacifier which I bought for $1.00 from the aforementioned Amoeba mecca.

My point is that I'll watch all sorts of movies ranging from classics to the bottom of the barrel. But there are certain movies I've never seen and never want to see...ever. Over the years, I've built these movies up to be the least desirable movies ever made. Whether they star an actor I can't stand or they just look plain awful, these movies were deemed "unwatchable," my cinematic kryptonite. Well, I'm going to watch them. All of them. Then I'm going to tell you if I was right or not. I'd bet that I'm right.

Whitney over at Dear Jesus is joining in on this torture. Once she makes her list, it's on! We're watching all ten movies together and if we survive, then we'll post on each other's blogs and tell you what we went through. Now then, on to the list!

The Top 5 Movies I Don't Ever Want to Watch (but am going to anyway...) List:

1. The "I Hate That Guy" Movie
The Gingerdead Man starring Gary Busey

I hate Gary Busey. Period. If he's in a movie I immediately try to find something else to watch. It's the craziness that he tries to shove on everyone. I really doubt he's as crazy as he makes him self out to be. If he actually is that crazy then he should be more interesting when someone's filming him. Thankfully, I haven't had to watch his chattering horseteeth gnaw through any scenery since an episode of "Entourage" a couple years ago.

A few months ago, I made an unexpected trip to Blockbuster because Netflix was taking too long to get me my Sopranos DVDs and that's when I spotted this cinematic abortion. The Gingerdead Man starring Gary Busey. I shuddered at the current state of independent film and made a mental note to never, ever, ever, watch this movie.

My predictions: If Gary Busey stars as the Gingerdead Man then maybe this movie will be more tolerable. I'd rather watch a badly animated cookie monster (not the Cookie Monster) than Busey failing to get out of that paper bag he's acting in. If Busey's role requires him to act like a human then it's going to be a long seventy minutes.

2. The "That Looks Boring as Hell" Movie
Pride and Prejudice - The A&E Five Hour Long Miniseries

I just can't see how this is going to be bearable. Granted, I like Colin Firth in movies like Love, Actually but it's not Mr. Firth that I'm anticipating having a problem with. I have a problem with the fact that it's five hours long, set in 19th century England, and features dialogue such as this:

You're mistaken, Mr. Darcy. The mode of your declaration merely spared me any concern I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner. You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it. From the very beginning your manners impressed me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit and your selfish disdain for the feelings of others. I had not known you a month before I felt you were the last man in the world whom I could ever marry!

Victorian England movies are the cinematic equivalent to waterboarding. Buggies, bonnets, and Bennets are not my ideal content for a kick-ass Saturday afternoon. They don't even suit me for a Thursday's early evening. I'm not going to say that there aren't any good movies set in Victorian England, I know better than that. I will say, however, that I don't want to watch them. Some people don't like Pauly Shore and Bobcat Goldthwait, I don't like big white wigs and 1800s courtship narratives.

My prediction: I'm going to hate my life for the five hours I'm watching this and for the two hours beforehand where I'm trying to convince myself to actually go through with it. Should make for an interesting post.

3. The "I'm Morally Opposed to this" Movie
Last House on the Left

Rape revenge movies. Um... I don't know why but these aren't usually my cup of tea. I don't know a whole lot about this movie other than who directed it and the general premise. Not ever seeing that premise play out visually was fine by me. I remember Roger Ebert tried to convince theaters not to book either this film or I Spit on Your Grave because it was absolute garbage. Double feature, anyone?

My prediction: I'm a fan of Wes Craven's work, People Under the Stairs, especially. I have this little inkling of faith that this movie won't be as gut-wrenchingly vile as I've made it out to be. This is the one I'm looking forward to the least. It'll probably turn out to be my favorite. If anything, I probably won't be bored.

4. The "Everyone Told Me This Sucked" Movie

Swept Away
Runners Up: From Justin to Kelly/Gigli/Glitter/Catwoman

This is the movie that ended Guy Ritchie's career! The man that made Snatch and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels was brought down by a remake of Lina Wertmuller's 1974 film, "Travolti da un Insolito Destino Nell'azzurro Mare D'agosto," which won the He Shot Cyrus award for "Best Movie Title I've Heard Today." The movie stars his wife, some lady named "Madonna" who I heard used to be singer.

Here's how this movie beat out it's competition: Kelly Clarkson is hot. Jennifer Lopez is hot. Mariah Carey is hot. Halle Berry is hot. Madonna is not hot. In a long list of awful movies, the one with the least redeeming factors wins. That movie is Swept Away. I swore I would never watch it because I really doubted that it would be one of those "so bad, it's good" movies. To be honest, it just looked like a waste of time. I guess the time has come where I have nothing better to do with my time than waste it.

My prediction: It won't be as a bad as everyone say it is. I have no idea what the movie's about but I have a feeling that I won't be hating my life like with some of these other movies. Two hours to eat popcorn and wonder if Swept Away is also the reason why Jason Statham doesn't make good movies anymore.

5. The "So-Called Classic That Doesn't Appeal to Me on Any Level" Movie

I'll be the first to tell you that I'm not David Lynch's biggest supporter. If he ran for President, I'd vote for Peter Bagdonovich instead. But not Roman Polanski. I'm a firm believer that a U.S. President should be allowed to set foot on U.S. soil.

After a few viewings of Blue Velvet and more than a few "ugly" feelings, I began to enjoy it. I wouldn't watch it all the time, but I wouldn't object to someone throwing it in if the mood stuck them. Mulholland Dr. was as confusing as Nick Nolte's mugshot. It's been on my list to watch again but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

Even with my mixed feelings towards his other films, David Lynch isn't the reason I don't want to see Eraserhead. Back when I was a young fellow attending a small high school in rural Central California, I had a friend who always knew about the weirdest music and movies. This kid introduced me to: David Bowie, GWAR, Insane Clown Posse, Peter Jackson's Meet the Feebles, Videodrome, and so-called "noise composure." Eraserhead was another film that he told me about. This one, he said, was different. The phrase I always remember him saying is "Don't watch this if you ever want to have kids." I don't know what he meant by this but I was never very curious to find out.

Since High School, tons of people have told me to watch Eraserhead. Apparently, everyone and their grandfather loves this freakin' movie. It got to the point that I started lying to people--telling them I had seen it and that it was "really weird" so that they would leave me alone, haha. They would all agree that while it was "really weird" that it was also a masterpiece. I would agree with them and then change the subject to anything else. It's time to see what they've all been talking about. Once and for all, I am going to be able to say that, "Yes, I have seen Eraserhead and this is what I think of it" without fear of my nose growing.

My prediction: I'm scared that this one's been too overhyped and that it won't live up to my expectations. That being said, I'm open to liking Eraserhead. I'm open to loving Eraserhead. Now that I'm more familiar with Lynch's work I'm pretty sure that I'll be pretty receptive to Eraserhead. I'd also bet that my opinion on bearing offspring won't change that much.

Note: The third Lord of the Rings movie almost made my list but that's a thought for another day.

That's the list! PLEASE, drop a comment in the box with your thoughts on this list. Also, I want to know your lists too. I'm really interesting in finding out which movies you'll never watch. Thanks to everyone who voted on the poll question and thanks to everyone who's been leaving me comments and feedback lately.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Untraceable but not Irreplaceable

Untraceable just came out to DVD and I immediately threw it to the top of my Netflix queue. For my British readers let me explain. First, when I say "queue," I mean a list of movies, not a line you stand in. Second, when I say "Netflix," I'm referring to the best DVD rental company on Earth. Unfortunately, it's only availible in the States. Don't worry, though. You can still rent Untraceable from any of your local DVD rental stores such as Video City Video or some place you've got called Blockbuster. However once you track a copy down...don't bother renting it.

Diane Lane is the closest Hollywood's got to capturing the Kantian sublime. But seriously, after she got the Best Actress nomination I figured she'd start showing up in better flicks than Jumper, Must Love Dogs, and this cyber crime thriller. That being said, she does show up in these bad movies and always churns out a pretty decent performance. Diane Lane has always stood out to me but I don't know how many more Fierce People's I can watch.

One of the biggest problems with Untraceable is the huge number of completely forgettable actors who fill the roles. Granted, the roles are stereotypical crime thriller roles but none of these actors can seem to find a single way to make their characters stand out. You know you've got a problem you can't remember what the killer looked like 12 hours after watching the movie. I actually can't remember his face but I remember thinking that I was glad that they didn't cast Ben Foster. Ben Foster shows up in way too many movies and chews the scenery in each of them. Did you see Hostage? Exactly.

Alright, I'm going on a bit of a rant here but I swear I've got a point. Actors, if you get hired for a crappy role, put your own unique spin on it. Go through Samuel L. Jackson's filmography. You'll see plenty of bad roles but when you watch the movies--you end up remembering his performance.

Here are just two of the forgettable characters in Untraceable along with a picture of an actor who has played the same type of roles, only better.

You've got the tough type of police chief who gets in the way of the protagonists progress. This is his only purpose, to throw a wrench in the gears of progress. On the left, you see Peter "Unknown" Lewis and on the right you have J.K. Simmons playing J. Jonah Jameson. Alright, not the same role exactly but both are quasi-antagonists with some form of corporate power. Simmons always draws our attention to him. Check out his performances on TV's "Oz," "Law & Order," and "The Closer." Apparently, Lewis had a bit part in Forgetting Sarah Marshall but certainly don't remember him. I'm definitely not trying to say that he's a bad actor, I'm just saying that his performance in Untraceable was as stiff as cardboard and completely forgettable.

First off, I am extremely glad that Benjamin Bratt was nowhere near the shooting of this film. I wouldn't have cast him over Billy Burke, although he probably would have done a better job. The role of Detective Eric Box (hehe...) was practically written for Bratt. It's the same role he played in Miss Congeniality, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, Demolition Man, and his ninety-four episodes of "Law and Order." The only reason I wouldn't have cast him was because the second he showed up on screen, everyone and their dog would have known exactly who this Box was supposed to be. At least with Burke, we had about five minutes before we completely summed up his existence.

It was completely refreshing, however, to see James Tyler Ferguson back in action. Ferguson starred in a short-lived TV show on NBC called "The Class." Apparently, he's been performing in Shakespeare in the Park since the show ended and next up he's in the new Sanaa Lathan movie, Wonderful World. His role in this movie was small but affective. He definitely stood out more in his two minutes on screen than Billy "Don't Touch Me, I'm Pretending to be a Dead Fish" Burke did in the entire movie.

Let me just mention one of the high points of the film. The premise is awesome. Some guy kidnaps people and sets them up in some sort of "Going to Kill You Slowly" contraption. Then he streams live video of the victim on the internet on his website ""

As people click on the website, the victim is killed bit by bit. The more people that log on, the faster the guy is killed. One guy gets these heat lamps turned on and the temp. raises until he practically melts to death. Untraceable is like Saw meets a good way. The film is a little preachy and more than a little formulaic but the killer's elaborate setups are worth checking out. And Diane Lane is hot.
Not to end on a negative note but I feel that I have to mention that even the numerous FBI raid scenes are boring! How do you mess up a raid scene? Keep the camera tight on the action. Obligatory shot of the door being broke down from inside the house. Soldiers with guns drawn precisely swarm through out the rooms. A standoff between the gun nut hiding in the closet. Doesn't seem that hard, does it? Untraceable doesn't do any of this right. Even the raid scenes are ineffective.

I really don't mind a formulaic movie. I just want something interesting from a couple of the performances. I just want the formulaic parts to follow the formula their using. If you're going to do something I've seen before then do it right and put a little twist on it. I don't think I'm asking for much.

Spread the Love like Mustard

To paraphrase one of the lines Joaquin Phoenix tires to deliver in Quills, the writer who writes more than he tisk. Anyway, here are some blogs that have really inspired me to keep writing and more importantly to watch more movies. They're in no particular order and they're all worth reading on a constant basis. I read them all the time and I know you all value my reading choices. Most importantly, remember, reading is hard so be careful what you read for.

1. Dear Jesus
Dear Jesus started early last year as a forum for discussion revolving around religion, Christianity, and even superorganisms. As time has passed, the focus of the blog is mostly film. Whitney and Brian, the two writers, post frequently and they're really funny. I heard through the grapevine that the next post will be a countdown of the Top 5 Birthing Scenes in film. Gross! Remember that SNL sketch where the woman births a full-grown Will Ferrell, I wonder if that'll make the list? Remember...he was all slimy and gross. I miss the days where Ferrell didn't hop from sports movie to sports movie. OFF TOPIC! Read
Dear Jesus and then pray for forgiveness.

Nostalgia through film. What's cooler than that? I knew I was going to love this blog even before I read a single post. Here's the premise. The writers reflect on their past memories of a film from various yesterdays. They record what they remember about the film, what they think they liked and disliked about it. Then comes a second viewing. It's really cool to see how memory changes our perceptions of the movies we watch. So, if the premise didn't convince you, check out the movies they've rewatched: X-tro, Streets of Fire (one of my favorites!), Legend, Excalibur, Jaws, Monster in the Closet, and the animated fantasy film Fire and Ice! I didn't mention that they also have recorded Podcasts in addition to some excellent write-ups of their findings. Nostalgia through film. 'Nuff said. Rob has been a great supporter of He Shot Cyrus and I think most people who like this blog will like his as well.

The title says it all. This blog is the new source for finding great movies that you've never heard of and figuring out if the ones you have heard of are worth their slots in your Netflix queue. The top of my queue now reads The Murder Party due to a recommendation from Ross, the blog's author. Maybe I'll write up a post after I get done watching it. The cool think about WIWLN is that Ross watches all sort of movies. It's not just new movies, it's not just Cold War propaganda shorts, he's written about everything from Dumbo to The Parallax View. Go find out what he watched last night.

4. Final Girl

Whitney at Dear Jesus turned me on to Final Girl a few weeks ago. I've been reading ever since. Covering mostly horror movies, Stacie, the "Final Girl," is one of the funniest writers I've come across so far. One of the best features of Final Girl is the gigantic archive she's got dating back to 2005. She's one of the most frequent posters as well. I'm still working on going back and reading her older stuff but every time I finish one post, another one gets written.

A wealth of information. RC over at SC always has something that I want to read. Whether it's coverage of the new Oliver Stone G.W.B. movie or Jamie Foxx's new Oscar-hopeful performance as a homeless cellist, I learn more about upcoming releases from Strange Culture than I do from any other site. A must have for every cinephile's bookmark list.

Bonus: Filmspotting
These guys are the cream of the cinematic crop. I've been listening to Filmspotting fo years now. Back when they were known as "Cinecast." Adam and Sam (Sam recently left the program and was replaced by Matty Ballgame) created a Podcast back in 2005 and have expanded their tiny show into a global phenomenon. They're famous for their Top 5 Lists (This week: "Top 5 Characters Who Need a Comeback") and their Massacre Theater in which they reenact a scene and have listeners guess what movie it was from. They've read a few of my Top 5 Lists in the past and they really put a lot of attention on what their listeners have to say. In short, Filmspotting are a couple of intelligent guys speaking intelligently about film. Go download a few episodes, you won't regret it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Switchblade Sisters

Jack Hill is an exploitation God. Frequently working with Pam Grier, Hill crafted films like Coffy, The Big Bird Cage, and Foxy Brown which all traveled around the drive-in circuits and played in double and triple features along with other exploitation films. While his Pam Grier vehicles are all pretty well known by now, all considered box office smashes and have been widely released on video and DVD. The same can't be said about the Grier-less Switchblade Sisters, which Hill directed in 1975. This one didn't make money. This one was barely seen. Until Quentin Tarantino brought this movie back to life by releasing it through his now-defunct Rolling Thunder Pictures company.

Like a lot of genre films from this time period, it had a few theatrical runs. If the picture wasn't performing to the producer's liking, they would yank it out of theatres, create a new, awesome looking poster, slap a new title on it, and release it again. There were times where you could go to the movies and find out that you've just paid to see the same movie twice.

This film had three theatrical runs under the names Playgirl Gang, The Jezebels, and its ultimate title, Switchblade Sisters. The movie is extremely clichéd but still quite enjoyable. It could be argued that the clichés make the movie.

This one's got it all. Sex, nudity, and violence are just the basic structures of which the rest of the film is built. Girl gangs (named the Dagger Debs), lesbian prison guards, rapes and murders, knife fights, a girl with an eye patch named "Patch," cake decorating, and really catchy lines like "Like my dad used to say, God rest his ass... " None of these clichés (minus the cake decorating) were new to genre pictures, not even new to Jack Hill's own movies but I don't think that makes them any less entertaining. While there seem to be a lot of similarities between this film and others of the time, it's how Hill uses the clichés that makes Switchblade really cool.

Any good gang movie's gonna have a shootout...any great gang movie's gonna have a rumble. This one has a shootout. BUT...before you give up on it, Switchblade's shootout takes place in a ROLLER SKATING RINK! As you can see in the picture above, there are pistols firing (and machine guns!) at the various roller skating gang members hobbling around on four-wheeled clunkers. I thought I had seen it all, shootouts in grocery stores, swamps, and numerous Chinese food restaurants. Then came the roller rink.

What's next, a shoot out in a Chuck-E-Cheese ballpit? I would watch that. Hell, I would participate in that. Did you know that not all Chuck-E-Cheeses have ball pits? That's awful. Off topic? Yes. Terrible? Even more so. Make sure your Chuck-E-Cheese has a ball pit before you plan your next birthday party...and make sure there's not going to be a gang fight scheduled for the same time. Although, I would bet that the roller rink was giving out discounts after the they cleaned up the bodies off the skating area. That's something to think about.

I once has a film professor that said she raised her daughter on Switchblade Sisters. At the time, I thought that was so cool. After watching it again, I'm not so sure. I don't know how a young child would be affected by watching movies featuring portly lesbian prison guards/rapists named "Mom." Maybe it would keep the kid on the straight and narrow, not wanting to be molested by a woman who looks like Patty and Selma meets Large Marge. That's enough to make me a law-abiding citizen.

Here's one of my favorite parts of the movie. The only actor I recognized from the cast was Don Stark who plays Bob Pinciotti on "That '70s Show." He's the boy gang's faithful number two, Hook, and he isn't half bad. This was his first role in a feature-length film that wasn't made for television. While I haven't seen it, I'm sure his first acting gig, a bit part character named Carl Dibble, in a TV movie with Robert Culp was really good too. I do. Hook tries to take over the gang at one point but is quickly dismissed by the ladies, who have formed a new gang, The Jezebels. This is where the cake decorating comes in.

[The cake kinda looks like Rice Krispie Treats with white paint on it.]

[I don't have much to say except that this guy has so much dental work that I hope he went on to have a lucrative acting career to pay for it all.]

[Robbie Lee as Lace (left) on her way to the film premiere. Completely unbeknownst to her, only two short years later, fellow party-goer George Lucas would steal her hairdo for some sci-fi thing he couldn't stop talking about.]

Here are some rad pictures from the film's climactic knife fight. The second half of the fight is done completely in shadows on the wall. It's not as stupid as it sounds. Like I said earlier, it's how Jack Hill uses the clichés that makes Switchblade Sisters really cool. Seeing the action in shadows brought me back to Film Noirs for the 1940s where some of the coolest scenes involve action happening off-screen, in the shadows, or like this movie shows it, through shadows on large wall-like canvases. This film has got a lot of things you've seen before but quite a few of them will be in ways you've never seen before.

The film ends with some of the Jezebels being loaded into a police truck. To give an example of the type of great dialogue you'll find through out the movie, here are the last lines:

Cop: Let me give you some advice...

Maggie: Let me give you some advice cop. You can beat us, chain us, lock us up but we’re gonna be back, understand? And when we do, cop, you better keep your ass off our turf or we’ll BLOW IT OFF, ya dig? We’re the Jezebels, cop. Remember that name. We’ll be back!

...aaaaaaand scene.

In closing, this film is readily availible so check it out. You won't regret it.

Thanks to everyone who voted on last week's poll question. Switchblade tied with Juice so maybe next week I'll do a post on that one. Also, thanks to everyone who left comments on the "Origins" post, that means a lot to me.

Keep you eyes open for another Top 5 list. That's actually what this week's poll question is going to be about. What should my next Top 5 list be on? If you have another idea which isn't an option to vote for then leave a comment here and let me know. Leave a comment anyway!

Until next week...

Monday, May 19, 2008

He Shot Cyrus - The Origins

Since I've started He Shot Cyrus, I've had quite a few people ask me to explain the blog's title. You can read my second post--the one about The Warriors or you can watch this clip.

I was sitting around one day thinking about how few opportunities I have to write about film. I'm currently an MA student who's focusing on Cinema Studies. There's plenty of opportunities to write academic-style papers but what I wanted was to write about the movies that I love on a more personal level. That's when I decided to start a blog of my own. I had often read other film blogs and thought I could give an interesting twist to what I had seen so far.

My favorite movie of all-time is The Warriors and I tried to think of my favorite lines from it--hoping that something would be catchy enough to use as a title. That's when it hit me. The scene I just posted jumped out at me and it all clicked. "He Shot Cyrus." The rest was history. It's been a few weeks now and the feedback I've received has been great. I've got a few more posts in the works and I hope everyone continues to enjoy the blog. Make sure to check out the links I've posted on my blog roll (located on the right side of the screen). There are some great sites there that you'll probably enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Death Wish

[MCMLXXIV...what a great year for movies.]

1974 saw the release of some of the most respectable pieces of cinematic art this side of Steamboat Bill Jr. Francis Ford Coppola directed The Godfather II, Paramount released Roman Polanski's neo-noir Chinatown. Two of the most awe-inspiring disaster movies, The Towering Inferno and Earthquake entered the entered the Top 10 Highest-Grossing films of the year. Along with all these pre-blockbusters, several future cult classics found their way into various movie houses and drive-ins. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and John Carpenter's directorial debut Dark Star both did just that in 1976. Somewhere in the middle of all these great flicks was Michael Winner's Death Wish, the story of a vigilante husband and father on a mission of revenge.

[Here we find Charles Bronson, perplexed by the new Ghostface Killah album.]

Charles Bronson plays Paul Kersey, a role originally intended for Steve McQueen. To start things off, I've got to let you know, this movie is crazy. Okay, it's not Ichi, the Killer crazy or Audition crazy, but back in the 1970s, the American people weren't ready for this one. Critics panned Death Wish because they believed it promoted vigilantism. The film's plot circles around an upper-class New York family who suffers an unspeakable tragedy at the hands of this man and his friends:

[Long before he was pushing iMacs, Goldblum was best known for his Old-Lady Sleeper Holds.]

A rough group of hoods, the head gangster (Jeff Goldblum), some big ol' skinhead, and a graffiti artist named "Spraycan"viciously attack Kersey's wife and daughter. This scene is really rough. Basically, the bad guys stalk the two women back to their house in order to rob them. When all they have is seven dollars between them, they decide to beat the mother and rape the daughter. The scene is pretty graphic and hard to stomach. Goldblum, in his acting debut, screams "Goddamn rich cunts! Cunts! I kill rich cunts!" as he repeatedly punches the woman in the face.

Some bad-acting comedy accidentally makes it's way on-screen as Spraycan coats the curtains with orange paint, over and over again. When he tries to tag their walls, all he can come up with is a sloppy swastika and an orange scribble line that looks like a a child's rendition of a Richard Scarry worm. In the end, Kersey's wife is murdered by the thugs. His daughter goes into a comatose condition, unable to speak or move on her own.

[Who wouldn't have faith in this police force? You've got The Ghost of Christmas Dinner and a comedy God fighting crime for you, what else can you ask for?]

Now, if someone killed my wife and raped my daughter, the first people I would call might not be the police. Granted, my opinion changed a little after watching Death Wish. The cops aren't any help. They can't follow any leads. They can't nail down any evidence. They hide the facts from the victims and the public. Even when they realize that Kersey has taken the law into his own hands, they just seem to look the other way.

This movie makes me want to shoot people. No, seriously. If there's one thing that Charles Bronson does well, he makes shooting people look easy. Every time someone's got a problem with him, he whips out his pistol, and BAM..., in the words of Ice Cube, "...another sucker dead."

[What happens when three muggers attack Charles Bronson in an alleyway?]

The last hour of the film is a series of muggings that Kersey purposely gets himself into. He walks around bad neighborhoods, practically with hundred dollar bills sticking out of his pockets, just asking for some young punk to mess with him. What does he do when someone finally takes the bait, well, I think the pictures explain it all.

I agree with the critics that claimed that the film promoted taking the law into your hands. It clearly does. Over and over again. Death Wish has its exciting moments but by the end of the film, they've gotten pretty repetitive. I specifically checked this movie out to do a He Shot Cyrus write-up. I can't say I was disappointed with the movie, I think it was a pretty rad working of the vigilante storyline. Ever since I was little, I had constantly seen previews for this on Telemundo or Galavision. Apparently, this movie is huge among Spanish-speaking audiences. I remember when I used to work at Hollywood Video, this got rented all the time. The only one that was rented more than Death Wish was Blood In, Blood Out, which I recently watched out of curiosity. It didn't deserve it's own post.

[Charles Bronson shoots them.]

Here's the trailer for the movie, along with the trailers for it's four sequels! That's right, there are a total of five Death Wish movies. I would sometimes see previews for the second and third movies, but until I looked it up tonight, I had no idea that four subsequent movies could be made from this plot. From the look of the trailers, they only get better and better as the years went on.

Death Wish

Death Wish 2

Death Wish 3

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown

Death Wish 5: The Face of Death

Here's a recap on the basic plot advances of the last 60 minutes of Death Wish.

[What happens when knife-wielding hoodlums try to rob Charles Bronson in a subway station?]

[Charles Bronson shoots them too.]

[What happens when Freddie "Boom-Boom" Washington/Richard "Cochise" Morris tries to attack Charles Bronson in the park?]

[Charles Bronson shoots Freddie "Boom-Boom" Washington/Richard "Cochise" Morris.]

This may not have been the best movie to come out in 1976, but it definitely into the category of "entertaining." There are more than two handfuls of really cool scene, and not just ones where Charles Bronson shoots muggers. One of the most impressive parts of the movie is how Bronson's character changes through out the story. He begins as a family man, the everyman, in a sense.

As the film progresses, his mind changes. I'm not talking about his opinions or anything, I'm talking about the entire way his mind works. His inherent motives and goals are radically altered and Bronson captures each stage of the transformation with clarity. The most interesting part of the plot is how, even at the end, Kersey never becomes a monster. Even during his times of chaos, he remains what he started as: a man.

Even with the film's unevenness, there's enough redeemable elements that make it work watching. Among these elements is, first and foremost, the film's score. Herbie Hancock, the genius that created the song "Rockit," the first mainstream song to feature the turntable scratch. I've included an MP3 of the Death Wish theme for you guys. Hope you enjoy it.

[And what happens if you try to shoot Charles Bronson while tries to peek up a woman's skirt? That's right, Charles Bronson shoots YOU!]

Herbie Hancock - Death Wish Theme (MP3)

Download (Rapidshare)

Until next week, or maybe a little longer thanks to the craziest finals I've ever had, let me know what you think of Death Wish and my blog so far. If you have any ideas on how to improve it, then drop me a line. I'll have a new poll question for you soon. Here's the results of last week's question: C. Thomas Howell received the most votes as to which Outsider is the easiest to beat up.

Rob Lowe came in right after him and there wasn't any Outsider who seemed to be untouchable, even Macchio who received two votes. I want to know who said they could beat up The Karate Kid. He'll put you in a body bag quicker than you can say "Glory of Love."

Most importantly, thanks to RC, Matt, Usesoapfilm, Natsukashi, Brian, Jonny, Taylor, and Whitney for leaving comments on my Top 5 Movie Rumbles list. They were awesome. Thanks a lot.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Top 5 Movie Rumbles

The first things I want to do is thank Matt, Whitney, Taylor, and Rob for leaving comments last week on my Warriors post. I also want to announce that the poll question resulted in a three-way tie. The coolest gang names are: The Warriors, The Rouges, and The Baseball Furies. Thanks to all those who voted. Make sure you check out this week's question: If you had to fight one actor from The Outsiders which one do you think you could beat up?

This week, Whitney and I decided that we would come up with some cool Top 10 lists for you guys. If you don't know by now, Whitney writes for Dear Jesus. I don't want to ruin any surprises but her Top 5 is awesome! Go check it out and leave her thousands of comments.

As for my list, the idea came to me while I was putting the finishing touches on my Warriors post. Thanks again to Whit, Matt, and Taylor for the comments on that one. The Warriors has tons of great fights, most of them involving groups fighting each other. Their fights against The Baseball Furies and even the Punks were great but they lacked a certain something. Planning. Whitney and I were talking about the differences between a spontaneous fight and a scheduled rumble. That's what I'm talking about this week:

The Top 5 Movie Rumbles

While a fight scenes are almost always cool (there are, of course, certain exceptions), there's just something so rad about a rumble. You might be asking yourself, "What constitutes a rumble? How is a rumble different than a group fight?" Good questions. For clarity reasons alone, I decided to write up a short list of rules:

a. Planning - This is probably the most important guideline when trying to determine if what you're experiencing is a genuine, for-real rumble. There should be a set time and location.
The park at midnight always seems to be a popular choice. Both sides meet up and no one starts fighting until one of the leaders says so. This is the coolest part of the brawl, the face-off. Each team sizes each other up. The fighters try to decide who they're going to hit first. This is the calm before the storm.

b. Participants - A rumble is a group effort. A team sport. Unless stated beforehand, bring as many guys as you know. Important note: bad fighters, weaklings, and wanna-be's make excellent decoys once the fists start flying.

c. Weapons - This is really up to the parties involved. Generally, there's a no-gun code amongst the participants but there's always a chance someone will bring a gun to a knife fight. Let's get serious now. Using a gun in a rumble might seem like a good idea, actually, it sounds like a really good idea...well, either way, it is not honorable. Honor is the most important aspect in every rumble, that's why so much planning goes into each one (see Rule A). But don't get too discouraged, just because guns aren't allowed doesn't mean you can't bring your bicycle chains, switchblades, steel-toed boots, sawed-off table legs with nails sticking out, or maybe your old VHS copy of Dante's Peak -- whatever you think'll hurt the most.

d. What Doesn't Count - For this list, there are certain scenes that didn't make the cut for various reasons. They may seem like they'd count but they're not bonafide rumbles. Some of these include:

1 vs. 100 Fight Scenes: One guy, usually a martial arts master fights a hundred cronies who, for some reason, can't figure out any attack strategy than attacking one-by-one until they all fall down. Movies that feature the 1 vs. 100 fight scene: The Matrix Revolutions, The Protector and Chan-wook Park's Old Boy.

The Epic Battle: I decided to keep huge army battles off the list. Sure, there's planning, teams, and violence, but they're no gritty street fight and that's what we're talking about today. Movies that feature the Epic Battle: Braveheart, Troy, and Lord of the Rings.

Okay, I think that covers it. Thanks for listening. On to the list!

Unfortunately, West Side Story did not make the top five.*

5. Big Trouble in Little China

The fun part about this rumble is the identification between the viewer and the film's main characters. In short, they don't know what's going on and neither do we. Jack Burton is stuck in his truck with his good friend Wang Chi when, out of nowhere, a gang of Chinese combatants makes their way down the alley. Burton freaks out and we feel for him. A rumble is going to take place with us in the middle.

The Big Trouble rumble (that's fun to say) meets all of the requirements. The participants: two large group of fighters both ready to put a serious beatdown to whoever enters their punch-kick-stab range. Planning: First off, the rumble starts at 1:23 into the clip. The gunfight at the beginning of the clip doesn't count. The rumble starts when both sides silently stare at one another. One guy yells and it's ON! Both sides rush the opposing line and it's "broken-bone-bloody-face time." The weapons: boards, swords, and karate kicks. Nice.

Wang Chi calls the rumble a "Chinese stand-off." This shouldn't be confused with a Mexican stand-off (See: Reservoir Dogs). Sadly, the rumble ends early when three bullet-proof lightning warriors show up and end the party early. While the fight lasted, it was filmed nicely. A good rumble scene depicts an absolute chaos. Flurries of bodies, weapons, and violence are intercut with clear shots of solitary acts of bodily harm: the snapping leg, the knife entering stomach, and even possibly, the coveted decapitation.

4. Anchorman

"I killed a man with a trident." That's all I'm going to say about this one.

3. Gangs of New York

It shouldn't be any surprise that Martin Scorsese's rumble would be the most gruesome. Daniel "Mr. Best Actor" Day-Lewis plays Bill the Butcher one of the most jaw-droppingly sadistic baddies in history. Of the entire list, this is the rumble with the most at stake. This one's for all the marbles. People die in this rumble...and not from a trident. They die from knives, hammers, clubs, and more.

Watch closely for one of the coolest headbutt shots in film history. There's even a Tyson-esque ear-bitting! A cool part about this one is that amidst the chaos a more focused conflict is coming to completion. Daniel Day-Lewis, the leader of the bad guys, squares off against Liam Neeson, the leader of the good guys. Even after multiple stabbings, you're not sure this one's over. It's this murder that sets the rest of the narrative in motion. Neeson's son witnesses the murder and vow to avenge his father's death.

2. The Outsiders

The original rumble. The one that started it all...well, at least for me. Ponyboy Curtis and the rest of the greasers against the rich-and-preppy Socs. I don't know where to start with The Outsiders rumble. It's got everything.

First off, the cast is incredible. You've got Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, C. Thomas Howell, and more. The setting is just as good. It's in the middle of the night, in an empty park, in the rain! What else can you ask for?

There's no weapons except fists and boots (and one parked car). Maybe someone could answer this for me? Who set that fire and why? It's only shown in that one shot and has no real reason to be there except to look cool. Hmmm...

Interesting fact: the first punch that C. Thomas Howell receives actually connected. He got swung on and bloodied in the first shot. Also, Tom Cruise took out one of his tooth caps to make it look like he really got beat up. Not quite method acting, but still cool.

The Outsiders is rad for its entirety. The rumble isn't the only awesome scene, by far. The Markett's "Out of Limits" plays as Ralph Macchio gets attacked by some Soc guys, which in turn sets up the rumble. Diane Lane plays the romantic lead, Cherry Valance. Referencing Robert Frost, Macchio's last lines "Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold." will live on in our hearts forever. This movie has everything you need.

1. Unknown Japanese Schoolgirl Rumble

To be honest, in my search for the top movie rumbles I came across this clip from some unknown Japanese movie. I had to share it with you. Not a lot of intro here, just let me tell you that it's crazy.

There they are, the TOP 5 MOVIE RUMBLES of ALL-TIME! If you agree, disagree, love me, hate me, or fall somewhere in the middle, let me know in the comments.

In keeping with tradition, here's some MP3's from the movies featured on the list.

Ron Burgundy & Friends - Afternoon Delight (MP3)
Download (Rapidshare)
Download (zShare)

This song is crazy funny. If you haven't seen Anchorman yet, I don't even want to know why. This is really Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, David Koechner, and Paul Rudd covering "Afternoon Delight." This MP3 is ripped from the music video so it's got some ad-libbing in there that's really great.

The Marketts - Out of Limits (MP3)
Download (Rapidshare)
Download (zShare)

This is one of my favorite songs of all time. When I was a kid, I bought an incredible CD called
It had "Little Old Lady from Pasadena," "Last Kiss," "Leader of the Pack," and "She's Not There," along with this song, "Out of Limits" by The Marketts. Surf rock at its best. Believe me, you're going to want to hear this song, it's fantastic. It's featured during a Ralph Macchio fight scene (not a rumble) in The Outsiders.

John Carpenter and Alan Howarth - The Alley (MP3)
Download (Rapidshare)
Download (zShare)
Here's the score during the rumble scene from Big Trouble in Little China.

Howard Shore - Brooklyn Heights 1 (MP3)
Download (Rapidshare)
Download (zShare)
This isn't the score from the rumble, but it really sets the mood for the film. Gangs of New York features such an excellent score.

(Dream Rumble for Nerds)

That's all for me this week. Enjoy, leave some comments, vote in the poll question, and check out some of the cool sites on my Blogroll.

*West Side Story also did not make it into the top 10, 20, or 30 movie brawls.