September 29, 2012

ROPE: What Are We Looking For?

Starring James Stewart, John Dall, Farley Granger, Joan Chandler, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Douglas Dick. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. (1948, 80 min).

As a movie lover, of course I love Alfred Hitchcock...Psycho, Rear Window, Lifeboat, North by Northwest, The Birds and Vertigo. But my personal favorite is 1948's Rope, one of Hitch's less-renowned films, and seldom mentioned among his classics. It's also one of his more experimental and 'gimmicky' movies, the gimmick being that it takes place entirely on a single set and made to look like it was all shot in one long take.

The movie's about two guys who decide to kill one of their friends just for the hell of it, then arrogantly stash the body in the same room where they are hosting a party. One of those invited is their former college professor, Rupert Cadell (James Stewart), the sharp and cynical mentor they both look up to. Cadell is also the one person invited who seems to sense something askew about the whole set-up. Stealing the show is John Dall as Brandon Shaw...smooth, slimy and conniving as one of the killers, and so enamored with his superior intellect that he can't fathom the notion that anyone will catch him.

It's a fast, fun and twisted little movie, and also controversial for its time because of its supposed gay subtext. I never caught that, probably because I wasn't looking for it (or maybe I'm just stupid). But the film was inspired by real-life killings perpetrated by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, two intellectual thrill-killers who were rumored to be homosexual. Add the fact that both Dall and co-star Farley Granger were gay in real life, and Rope had a few folks up-in-arms back then.

But again, I never caught all that when I watched it for the first time. I just thought these two dudes were roommates, not doing each other. Even after researching the background of Rope and watching it numerous times since, I simply just don't see any hint in the film itself that these killers are gay. Nor does it have any baring on the plot.

"How 'bout pounding out a little Iron Maiden?"

Which begs me to question why, even now, we spend so much time looking for homosexuality in entertainment. Why are we so obsessed with whether or not character is gay? Do we still look at homosexuality as some kind of lurid, provocative and titillating lifestyle? Maybe, because even though I've never given two shits about someone's sexual preference (other than my wife's), whenever I see two guys of the same age grocery shopping together, I tend to assume they are partners. This upsets me a bit because...why would I automatically think they're gay? What the hell is wrong with two guys shopping together?

Nothing, of course, but it doesn't stop me from making such an assumption. Was this the same assumption folks made back in 1948 when Rope was released? Since there's nothing in the script itself which hints the two killers are gay, did viewers simply come to this conclusion because they share an apartment? Are we simply conditioned to look for a character's sexual preference?

Still, none of this lessens my love for Rope, a simple story told in an unusual way (for its time, anyway). I think it's Hitchcock at his most flamboyant, yet economical. To me, it's just a movie where we watch two arrogant criminals fuck-up their so-called perfect crime. The movie transcends the weighty, societal baggage others have attached to it in later years.

You want to find homosexual subtext in a movie? Try watching Tremors and wonder what's going on in that tiny trailer Val and Earl share together in the middle of the desert.

6 More Classics Featuring Lines From Other Movies

"The first rule of Fight not talk about Fight Club!"
"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice bottle of chianti."

"Big bottom...big about mudflaps, MY GIRL'S GOT 'EM!"
"'Scuse me while I whip this out."

"Hold you did by the lake on Naboo."

"I bet I can make you squeal like a pig."

September 25, 2012

6 Classics Featuring Lines From Other Movies

"Say hello to my little friend."

"I'm sick of these motherfuckin' snakes on this motherfuckin' plane."
"I love the smell of napalm in the morning."

"Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape."

"Hasta la"

"Yippy Ki Yay, motherfucker!"

September 24, 2012

BLADE RUNNER: A Minority's Report

Starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Daryl Hannah, M. Emmet Walsh. Directed by Ridley Scott. (1982, 116 min).

This came out when I was 18, and man, I couldn't wait to see it. New action hero Harrison Ford, fresh from two Star Wars movies and Raiders of the Lost Ark; Alien director Ridley cool was that? Then there was the trailer depicting Los Angeles in the future...flying cars, impossibly-high pyramids & skyscrapers towering over a neon wonderland, with hellish flames spewing into the night sky.

So of course I was one of the first to see it on opening day. And indeed, with the opening shot...mind officially blown. Blade Runner's Los Angeles made the futuristic city of Logan's Run (made only five years before) look like it was made of Legos. This was gonna be great.

Then I spent the remaining time waiting for it to get great. Hell, I was rooting for it to get great. I even periodically checked my watch (which I seldom ever do unless a movie really sucks) seeing how much time was left for it to get great. About half-way through, I even went out to the lobby to refill my popcorn, basing my decision on the oft-proven theory that the second one runs to use the bathroom during a football game, that's when the game-changing play occurs. When I returned to my seat five minutes later, nothing had changed. In fact, it was still on the same dull scene as when I left.

Then the movie ended, and it never got great. It was long, slow, boring and had no characters who were interesting or even likeable. And I wasn't the only one who thought so at the time. Today, Blade Runner is widely considered one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time. Back then, it tanked at the box-office, and  wasn't much of a critical darling, either.

But it developed a huge cult following over the years. Aside from its visuals, fans loved the questions it raised about humanity and existence. Some critics even reassessed their initial opinion of the movie. There were a couple of times in college, where cult movie appreciation can sometimes border on obsessive, when I made the mistake of expressing my ho-hum opinion of the movie. I was often met with incredulous responses.

“How can you be a sc-fi fan and not love Blade Runner?” I'd be asked, either verbally or through dumbfounded expressions. Either way, the message was clear: I must be a dumbass. How could anyone other than a dumbass not absolutely love what is arguably the most intelligent American science fiction film since 2001: Space Odyssey?

I was 18 when I first watched it, so maybe I did miss the big picture. Maybe, a few years later, without having the expectation of another spectacle like Star Wars, I could appreciate it for what it was. So I gave it another shot.

Once again, I kept waiting for it to get great...and it didn’t. Other than the still-awesome effects, Blade Runner was just as boring and uninvolving as the first time. My college friends simply said I didn’t ‘get it.’

Eventually, we all learned Ridley Scott was forced by the studio to add Ford's voice-over narration (a big criticism of the theatrical movie among its zealots) and tack on a neatly-wrapped happy ending. According to Scott, his original ending was darker and more ambiguous, leaving the viewer to wonder whether or not the main character, Deckard (played by Ford), is one of the very replicants he’s recruited to kill.

So fast forward several years, when a ‘director’s cut’ of Blade Runner was released on home video, which restored Scott’s original vision. Director’s cuts and ‘special editions’ are mostly a sales ploy to get movie geeks to shell out more cash for movies they already own. On rare occasion, a new version does indeed make the film better. James Cameron’s The Abyss comes immediately to-mind. The restored footage of these aquatic aliens threatening to wipe-out the entire human race adds a lot of apocalyptic weight, and the movie as-a-whole makes a lot more sense. It changes the way we view the whole thing.

Rutger Hauer...looking like my cousin the day after his bachelor party.

But more often, restoring previously-cut scenes doesn’t make a movie better, and sometimes makes it worse. Take The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, for instance. To me, the original version was already the greatest western of all time, but the deleted scenes reinserted into the so-called special edition, featuring newly-redubbed voice-overs by Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach (and sounding 30 years older), were distracting and did nothing for the movie but push its already-epic length toward the three hour mark.

Still, when the director’s cut of Blade Runner was announced (re-released in a few theaters as well), the ballyhooed wholesale changes were enough to make me want to revisit it yet again, since the film had so-far gone down in history as a flawed masterpiece. Maybe Ridley Scott's original vision was the great movie I'd been waiting for. So I bought the movie when it came out on video and gave it yet-another chance.

The voice-over was gone, and the film did indeed end on an ominous note, two elements which made it better than the version I saw at 18. Regarding the final scene...I agree that it is kinda cool, subtly suggesting that the character we’ve followed all through the film is just another replicant.

But in the end, Blade Runner was still a chore to sit through, and not because I didn’t ‘get it.’ I’m 48 now, and have ‘gotten’ a lot of better and smarter movies since then. If anything, what I don’t get is why this movie continues to be extolled by so many folks who think I’m an idiot for not singing its praises.

Sure, I love sci-fi, but I’m a movie fan first, regardless of genre, which is why Blade Runner doesn‘t do it for me. I’ll elaborate:
  • The main character of Deckard, is an asshole. Need evidence? How about the fact he forces a replicant to have sex with him, simply because he knows she has no choice but to comply? Don’t most of us in the real world call that rape?
  • None of the other characters are remotely likeable either.
  • Harrison Ford is best when he’s playing Harrison Ford (i.e. being chased or trying to save his family). When he’s not playing Harrison Ford, he sucks. The scene which best proves this is when he’s questioning a replicant stripper, and he comes across like a bad Jerry Lewis impersonator.
  • Replicant antagonist Roy Batty is a cold-blooded killer throughout the movie, then we’re suddenly asked to care whether he lives or dies at the end because of one poetic monologue.
  • There isn’t really a hell of a lot at stake...just a few rogue robots who simply want to live beyond their expiration date.
  • The movie is really, really slow.
  • I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that the special effects, while awesome, are the sole reason this movie was made in the first place.
  • Logan's Run may be visually archaic, but at least we sorta liked the characters we were watching in this made-up world.
  • Most of Phillip K. Dick’s stories, one of which Blade Runner is loosely based on, were short stories for a reason. There simply isn’t enough material to sustain a feature film without padding the shit out of it.
That last point is my biggest problem with it, no matter which version I see. Blade Runner feels padded awesome 30 minute short inflated to two hours. Maybe a lot of sci-fi die-hards are so bowled-over by Blade Runner’s concept that it’s worth sitting through something four times longer than it needs to be.

I’ve tried real hard to find some love for Blade Runner over the years, and came up empty every time. Maybe it’s the way I’m wired, but I’d rather sit through old Star Trek episodes* for the umpteenth time than trying to find greatness in this movie. I give up.

I know I'm in the minority on this, and maybe I'm the dumbass my old college friends assumed. I’ll just have to live with it, because Blade Runner still sucks.

* Now that I think about it, this would have been a killer Star Trek episode.

September 20, 2012

15 Things We Learn From THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Martin Sheen, Sally Field. Directed by Marc Webb. (2012, 136 min).

1. In Hollywood, it is never too early for a do-over (just ask Universal Pictures, who ‘rebooted’ The Incredible Hulk (2008) only five years after their first franchise attempt, Ang Lee’s Hulk).

2. The fact that the director’s last name is Webb is an amusing coincidence.

3. Other than Ice Age, nobody still knows how to best-use Denis Leary in their movie.

4. Super-huge research corporations are willing to give complete access to their high-tech facilities to a high school girl who dresses like jailbait.

5. Emma Stone likely makes a lot of middle-age male movie-goers feel like dirty old men.

6. Someone must have passed a law requiring all Marvel Comics movies to include an ambiguous, sequel-teasing, post-credit scene (this must really piss off employees charged with cleaning up the theater after a show).

7. Sally Field is aging gracefully.

8. All muscled, blonde, spiky-haired jocks are dumb, violent & insensitive douchebags.

9. A middle-class emo kid can create high-tech superhero gear without spending their allowance.

10. Even though a super-genius scientist may be the smartest guy in the room, he will always make the worst, most-fatal decision of any other character in the movie. On a related note...

11. People get dumber with age, because The Amazing Spider-Man is another movie where only teenagers (those bastions of impeccable decision-making) can save us. The idiotic adults are too busy verbally berating these teenagers and later staring in dumbstruck awe as they do something heroic.

12. A sad fact, but legendary actor Martin Sheen is now best known to younger viewers as either Charlie Sheen’s dad, or the guy who voices Illusive Man in Mass Effect, not for his iconic roles in Apocalypse Now or Badlands.

13. Stan Lee is the Elvis of comic book creators, because at least where I saw it, everyone in the theater knew who he was, and his obligatory cameo the got biggest laugh in the whole movie.

14. Only in Spider-Man movies are the characters not completely-fucking-freaked-out by spiders.

15. We can envision the day when franchises are rebooted before the original film even hits HBO.

September 17, 2012

THE RING: Alternate Ending

Starring Martin Henderson & Daveigh Chase.. Directed by Gore Verbinski. Alternate ending restored by D.M. Anderson.

Meanwhile...this was laying forgotten on Noah's desk...

A second later...

A few days later, after Noah was okay...
"Hey, know how you were always getting on me to be more financially responsible? Well, screw you!"

TOUCHBACK (Blu-Ray): New Disc Review

Starring Brian Presley, Melanie Lynskey, Marc Blucas, Kurt Russell, Christine Lafti. Written & Directed by Don Handfield. (2012, 121 min).

Touchback is a pleasant enough time killer, even though you’ve see it all before.

This is yet-another inspirational sports movie with a slight fantasy twist, which gives its main character, financially-troubled family man Scott Murphy (Brian Presley), a chance to go back to his high school championship game (when he suffered a career-ending injury) for a re-do. Yeah, lots of the usual questions are raised about what’s truly important in life, making it more difficult for Murphy to decide to take the plunge.

For a movie that essentially went straight to video, Touchback isn’t bad, although you’ve likely seen it done better before. In fact, it will definitely remind you of a lot of other movies, such as It’s Wonderful Life, Field of Dreams and (insert any other ‘inspirational’ football movie title here).

Still, for a movie which offers absolutely no surprises, it’s well-acted, particularly by co-star Kurt Russell, playing Murphy’s old coach. He’s good as usual, though after doing so many sports movies during his career, he can probably perform this role in his sleep.

I don’t know if Touchback is worth owning (I doubt I‘d ever watch it more than once), but it’s certainly worth a few hours of your time as a rental.

Special Features: Audio commentary by by Writer/director Don Handfield & Brian Presley; Making of “Touchback” featurette.

FKMG RATING: **1/2 (out of 4)

September 15, 2012


Starring Jim Caviezel, Maia Morgenstern, Monica Bellucci, Hristo Shopov. Directed by Mel Gibson. (2004, 126 min).

For those of you who may not know, Judas Priest is a British heavy metal band that’s been kicking around for several decades. Aside from Black Sabbath, they are probably the most influential band in the genre's history, not only on its sound, but its look as well. You know all that cliched attire nearly every metal band strapped on during the 80s (black leather, chains, bullet belts, studded wristbands)? Priest pretty-much started all that.

The guy mostly responsible for Priest's image is their lead singer, Rob Halford, who thought such powerful music deserved an equally powerful visual impression. Being dumb teenage headbangers, we totally bought into it. Onstage and in videos, these guys looked like total badasses. Seeing Halford decked-out in 20 pounds of leather & chains while straddling a Harley and brandishing a whip as he belted out "Hell Bent for Leather" had our fists pumping in rebellion (even though, as middle-class suburbanites, we didn't actually have much to rebel against).

Years later, Halford came-out as a gay man. With hindsight, I don't think most fans were really surprised, but hearing him make it official did have some of us looking back and realizing his studded leather attire may not have been just for the sake of badassness. It also brought new meaning to the lyrics of such songs as "Eat Me Alive," "Delivering the Goods" and "Turbo Lover," to say nothing of the video for "Hot Rockin'."

Rob Halford's announcement didn't make him any less cool though. We never reassessed his talent, nor did it make "Painkiller" any less kick-ass than it was before. The same can't be said for Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. Like Judas Priest in their 80's heyday (when they were targets of the PMRC, and also forced to stand-trial in connection with a teen suicide supposedly triggered by their lyrics), The Passion of the Christ courted a lot of controversy. The way Gibson chose to depict of the last excruciating hours of Jesus Christ's life had many accusing the director of Anti-Semitism, while others condemned the movie's prolonged scenes of graphic violence.

I'm not a religious man at all. Most of what I know about The Bible I learned from The Ten Commandments and Iron Maiden lyrics, so when I went to see the film, I didn't care whether or not its director had any Anti-Semitic agenda. As a Mel Gibson fan who loved Braveheart, all I expected was a good movie.

And The Passion of the Christ is a good movie. Well, it doesn't suck, anyway. It's very-well made, and if Gibson intended to vilify Jews, I didn't catch it the first time. Then again, I wasn't looking for it (I don't go through life searching for reasons to be offended). And if the movie was supposed to educate viewers about the crucifixion, the only thing I learned was, "Wow, it sucks to be Jesus."

In the end, this is an impressive piece of filmmaking, which isn't the same as actually enjoying it, because it's excruciating to sit through. Most of the movie is dedicated to the torture and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. After Braveheart, I was pretty sure Gibson was a closet gorehound, but The Passion of the Christ isn't just's relentless. Sure, a movie like Hostel is brutal, but even that one doesn't subject us to two straight hours of pure agony inflicted on one guy. The only thing separating Passion from 'torture-porn' movies is the victim is Jesus. That, I guess, is what makes it important to a lot of folks, because if Eli Roth simply filmed some poor dumb schmuck being speared, stabbed, whipped and disemboweled for two straight hours, that movie would be banned in nearly every civilized nation in the world.

Christian torture porn
I don't know...maybe it's the way I'm wired, but I find cinematic torture a lot easier to sit through when I'm safe in the knowledge that the victim is just the product of a screenwriter's imagination. I'm not saying I believe the events presented in The Passion are accurate, but we are made to think so, which is what makes it such an ordeal to endure. Sure, I'm convinced Jesus once lived, but this movie strips him down from a messiah to a simple mortal guy. Then we watch his slow, agonizing death. Because of this, The Passion has absolutely no suspense, no plot twists, and obviously, no comic relief.

Controversy aside, The Passion of the Christ touched a lot of people at the time, to the tune of over $600 million at the box office. Apparently, a lot of the faithful felt the need to watch their savior get tortured to death. For a brief time, director Mel Gibson seemed vindicated.

Then Mel went all funny on us. He defended his dad’s stance as a Holocaust denier. Then cops pulled him over and he drunkenly started spewing Anti-Semitic crap. Then there was the recorded phone call with his girlfriend at the time, where he came across as a delusional, violent & vicious douchebag.

This wasn’t a Lindsay Lohan-type meltdown where we get a good chuckle from her idiocy. This was a career-killer of the highest order; Mel’s behavior seemed to confirm what Passion’s critics had been claiming all along.

And as much as I hate to admit it, the mounting evidence regarding Gibson’s state-of-mind does cast sort-of a shadow on his past achievements, The Passion of the Christ in particular. The reason I hate admitting this is because Gibson is a great filmmaker. Then again, so was D.W. Griffith, whose Birth of a Nation may be have been a cinematic milestone in 1915, but is also one of the most racist movies ever to come out of Hollywood. Because of what Mel has said and done since 2004, it’s now to hard watch The Passion of the Christ objectively.

When Rob Halford came out of the closet, it didn’t make anyone rethink their love for British Steel or Screaming for Vengeance. And I don’t revisit sexually-charged songs like “Eat Me Alive” and wonder who Rob’s singing about. Nor do I enjoy The Road Warrior, Braveheart or Payback any less than I did before Mel’s meltdown. Regarding The Passion of the Christ though...with 20/20 hindsight, it really does look like he was trying to say something really butt-ugly about the world (and himself). The movie now leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

September 10, 2012


UNDER SIEGE - Starring Steven Seagal, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Busey & Elena Eleniak's boobs. Directed by Andrew Davis. (1992, 103 min).

This was Steven Seagal’s biggest hit, but it also inflated his ego enough that he thought he could do anything, like direct his next film, On Deadly Ground, a sanctimonious and preachy soapbox for him to piss and moan about the environment in between dealing death blows. Even worse, he subjected us to his singing in Fire Down Below, yet another rip-your-face-off-to-save-the-environment debacle. After seeing that one, I wanted to run out and kill the first bald eagle I saw. With 20/20 hindsight, is anyone really surprised Seagal ended up doing direct-to-video junk that made Above the Law look like Serpico?

Mr. Seagal was apparently the only one who failed to notice Under Siege was his best film because he was surrounded by actual talent on both sides of the camera. It’s expertly directed by Andrew Davis (who would go on to do The Fugitive) and co-stars scenery-chewing bad guys Tommy Lee Jones & Gary Busey, who both steal the movie right from under Seagal’s expanding gut. Of course, stealing a movie from Seagal is about as difficult as taking candy from a dead baby. It’s pretty safe to say Mickey Rooney could've had the lead role and the movie would still work.

"My secret love."

Under Siege is about a group of mercenaries, led by Jones, who seize control of a naval destroyer and threaten to launch its nuclear arsenal if their demands aren’t met. All that stands in their way is Casey Ryback (Seagal), the ship’s cook, who demonstrates his culinary abilities by stirring stuff. But Casey isn’t all that he seems; he’s an ex-Navy Seal and an expert in the art of killing. It ain’t long before he’s snapping necks, ripping out throats and making explosives out of the shit he finds on his spice rack (no wonder the soup-of-the-day always tastes suspiciously like nitroglycerine). Assisting Ryback is Jordan Tate (Erika Eleniak), a former Playboy playmate who’s there to entertain the troops (and us, since her only real spotlight moment is to pop out of a cake with her boobs a-bouncin’).

This is one of the better Die Hard knock-offs, mainly because Jones and Busey don't take themselves at all seriously, and when was the last time you could say Gary Busey was one of the best parts of a movie? Though Seagal is top-billed, the only thing he really does better than the rest of the cast is kill people, which I suppose is what we want to see. The movie is fast-paced and entertaining, though there isn’t a lot of actual Die Hard-type destruction, probably because much of it was filmed aboard a real Navy vessel. They ain't gonna destroy a boat for this guy. Bruce Willis, maybe, but not Seagal.

UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY - Starring Steven Seagal, Eric Bogosian, Morris Chesnut, Everett McGill & Katherine Heigl. Directed by Geoff Murphy. (1995, 99 min)

Steven Seagal returns as Casey fucking Ryback (as he's now referred to by his adversaries) in Under Siege 2: Dark Territory to create even more havoc with his kitchen full of condiments. This is Seagal's only other decent movie because of (again) the caliber of actors surrounding him, like Morris Chestnut, Everett McGill and Eric Bogosian (who has all the best lines). Seagal himself demonstrates his own considerable range by squinting and scowling like he got a whiff of some nasty flatulence. As for his delivery...he makes Clint Eastwood sound like Chris Tucker. Hey, if you really want to see Seagal's best role, try to find his Mountain Dew commercial on YouTube, where he plays himself. It’s the same performance, but at least it’s intentionally funny.

In Under Siege 2, Casey fucking Ryback is once again called upon to save the world, this time onboard a train seized by disgruntled computer whiz Travis Dane (Bogosian) and the usual assortment of professional mercenaries. Dane uses some fancy gadgets to take control of a satellite capable of triggering earthquakes anywhere on Earth he aims it. If the government doesn’t meet his demands, he’s gonna destroy the Eastern Seaboard and kill all the passengers on the train. Only Casey fucking Ryback stands in their way. Well, Morris Chestnut helps a little, but it's too bad they made his character just another 'funny black sidekick.'

We’re not talking The Missiles of October here, but what it lacks in plausibility it makes up for in mayhem. As in the first film, Seagal meets his usual quota of neck snapping & knife fights, and while Under Siege 2 isn’t quite as good, it’s bigger & flashier, culminating in a spectacular head-on collision between two speeding trains, which is gigantic. The special effects in the sequence are mostly convincing, even if watching the increasingly-rotund Seagal leap from the last car to safety decidedly isn't.
"A little salty, eh? I told ya my secret ingredient was love, heh-heh."

As if the bitchin’ train wreck weren’t enough, there’s some unintentional humor to be found in a train wreck of another kind, namely the film’s “tender” moment between Casey fucking Ryback and his estranged niece (Katherine Heigl), where we get to see Seagal try to convey remorse with the same expression he employs when bashing in faces.

Since Under Siege 2, aside from the Mountain Dew commercial, Seagal has done nothing worth watching. So I'll end this with a bit of advice...

Hey, Steve, if you're reading this, rather than venture up to Portland to apply a roundhouse kick to my computer screen, why not take that pent-up rage and do Under Siege 3? Surely you have at least a few reputable connections left in Hollywood who could make it happen. Nab yourself some awesome character actors like Christopher Walken or John Malkovich as bad guys (or if you can't afford them, maybe Bruce Campbell or Michael Ironside), and let them chew up the scenery while you go about your business of cracking limbs. Follow Stallone's lead when he did his fourth Rambo movie: swallow your pride and step back into one of your only characters anyone halfway liked. I would think swallowing your pride would come easy after that dumbass reality show you did. And who cares if Walken or Malkovich steal the movie from you? They've stolen movies from far-bigger stars, and wouldn't you rather be back dealing death on the big screen than slumming on a cable channel hardly anyone ever watches anyway?

September 5, 2012

THE GODFATHER: Alternate Opening

"Don Corleone...guess what?"
"Tell me...what?"
"Chicken butt."
"Crude, my friend...and not very funny. I don't appreciate being duped on my daughter's wedding day."
"Forgive me, Godfather." Connie & Carlo's wedding...
"Hey guys, I was just talking with the old man and...guess what..."


September 4, 2012


Say hello to my little friend... very own Terminator.”

                                        -John Conner

Ever since hearing that line in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, I’ve often thought about what I would do if I had my own killer cyborg programmed to obey my every command. Of course, being movie heroes, the Conner family used him to try and prevent a war which would exterminate mankind. ‘Tis a noble, selfless goal, and if I were in John’s shoes, I probably would have gotten around to saving the world, too...

...eventually. In the meantime, why not use this awesome, futuristic hunk of malevolent technology to make my own life a little easier? For example, if I had my own Terminator:

  • That guy on the cell phone in the car ahead would be making his last call...ever.
  • The divorce from my first wife would have been a lot quicker...and cheaper.
  • The line at Starbucks would be shorter.
  • "I'd like two Super Bowl tickets please, right on the fifty-year line, and I do not wish pay for them. No? Arnold...kill this man."
  • I'd go to my next class reunion and finally exact revenge on that jock-douchebag who used to pick on me for no reason whatsoever.
  • The two of us would pay the I.R.S. a visit and do a little audit of our own.
  • I’d save a lot more than 15% on my car insurance.
  • “Well, (insert car salesman’s name here), my offer for this 2013 Mustang is...lemme see...I got forty-three bucks in my wallet. No? Arnold...kill this man.”
  • I’d ride 'bitch' on his Harley because I still don’t know how to ride a motorcycle.
  • All my school loans would be immediately forgiven.
  • Walgreens would accept my insurance card, even if I didn’t bring it with me.
  • I could borrow his sunglasses whenever I lost mine (which is often).
  • Those two slobbering pitbulls that my neighbor lets outside so they can bark all goddamn night? Dead.
  • My own dog would stop pissing on the carpet by the front way or another.
  • “Mr. Limbaugh? I was wondering if you’d do me a solid and shut the fuck up for the rest of your hateful life. No? Arnold...kill this man.”
  • Firefly wouldn't have been canceled.
  • That lady in front of me at the check-out line with an envelope stuffed with coupons would wisely decide to redeem them another time.
  • My kids would clean their rooms when told, not when they felt like it.
  • “Yeah, I know I didn’t grab a Fast-Pass earlier, but I’d like to ride Splash Mountain right now, anyway. No? Arnold...kill this man.”
  • As a professional educator who teaches in the real world, it pains me to say this, but some children would be left behind...permanently.
  • I'd finally win an occasional argument with my wife (well, maybe...she is pretty scary when she‘s mad).
  • He could have prevented Terminator: Salvation from being made.
"Put away all those coupons...ahhshole."

September 2, 2012

SPEED 2: Keanu Reeves...Super Genius

Starring Sandra Bullock, Jason Patrick, Willem Dafoe, Glenn Plummer, Tim Conway. Directed by Jan de Bont. (1997, 121 min).

Now we know how people felt all those centuries ago when their once-sacred belief that Earth is the center of the universe was proven to be wrong. Ever since Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, we all assumed Keanu Reeves was an idiot because of his perpetually vacant expression and a voice that made him sound like bong hits were part of his nutritious breakfast. Even in the classy period pieces he’s appeared in (like Dangerous Liasons), we still expected him to end each line with “dude.” (yeah, I know making fun of Keanu’s speech is about as fresh as cop & doughnut jokes, but tell me I’m wrong). Our low assessment of his intelligence was only strengthened when he chose not to do a sequel to Speed, the biggest hit of his career at the time. What the hell was he thinking?

But when the sequel came out, we had to swallow our pride and grudgingly admit maybe Keanu wasn’t such an airhead after all, because Speed 2: Cruise Control is one of the dumbest fucking movies ever made. You don’t even have to look beyond the title for evidence of the stupidity awaiting the viewer; I doubt there’s a soul on the planet who associates velocity with cruise ships, unless your idea of speed is scooting your ass along the carpet like a dog with worms. Things only get worse from there.

The movie has Annie Porter (Sandra Bullock) and her new boyfriend, L.A. cop Alex Shaw (Jason Patric), taking a vacation on a cruise ship. Also onboard is John Geiger (Willem Dafoe), a psychotic computer designer suffering from copper poisoning (he uses leeches to help purify his blood), who has a nefarious scheme to hold the entire ship hostage by taking control of its computer guidance system. Only Alex, with Annie in tow, can stop the madness.

While Hollywood has belched forth more than its share of dumb and contrived sequels for the sake of eeking out a few more bucks, what’s amazing about Speed 2 is that it’s helmed by the same director, Jan de Bont, who was apparently hit on the head with a hammer and forgot everything about what made the first film so good. With the talent involved and the amount of money spent (this one cost three times more than the original), how is it possible to put out such an inept piece of putrid poo? Sandra Bullock doesn’t even seem to be playing the same character as she did in the original; here, she's more annoying than a roomful of Gilbert Gottfrieds. The story and dialogue is worse than the lame-ass crap Irwin Allen lurched out in the last years of his life.

Then there's Tim Conway in one of the dumbest cameos I've ever seen, playing a hapless driving instructor. This happens right at the beginning of the movie, has nothing to do with the plot and only succeeds in convincing the viewer that Speed 2 is gonna blow. Did CBS stiff him on residuals from all those years on The Carol Burnett Show and he now needed the money? Was he sick and tired of doing Dorf on Golf videos? Whatever the reason, it takes a special effort to cast someone as inherently funny as Conway and still fuck up a scene.

Annie: "Hey...what is that in your pocket?"
Alex: "Don't worry 'bout it, baby. Just hold still and...and...ahhhhhh."

As for the climactic scene where the ship crashes into a coastal hits at a whopping seven miles per hour and dropping (yeah, there's some speed for ya). The sequence is punctuated with unintentionally funny shots of a bug-eyed, panicked helmsman frantically counting down the reduction in speed to no one in particular, one mile per hour at a time. Even when the ship has slowed to a crawl, he still has the same terrified look on his face as though he were riding shotgun with Dale Earnhardt.

Sure, it's almost a given that most sequels aren't as good as the originals. Still, say what you want about George Lucas...The Phantom Menace sucked, but I doubt anyone can honestly say he wasn't at least trying. And of course, it isn't as though the original Speed challenged the intellect. But here it's like everyone involved were handed a boatload of money and still didn't give a shit. Speed 2 is sort of a slap in the face to anyone who loved the first movie. It's even worse than Highlander 2, mainly because the original Highlander was kitschy to begin with, so no one had such lofty expectations.

But if someone gave me $110 million, I’d have at least gone through the motions to make it look like I cared.

So I guess this makes Keanu Reeves some kind of super genius. I’m sure he once crept into the back row of a theater sometime in ’97, took in Speed 2 and walked out thinking he just dodged a bullet, proud of his superior intuition.

On the other hand, he does have the Matrix sequels to answer for.

September 1, 2012

TITANIC: Deleted Scene

Starring Leonardo DeCaprio & Kate Winslet. Directed by James Cameron. Deleted Scene Restored by D.M. Anderson.

Rose: "Uh...Jack? That doesn't even look remotely like me."
Jack: "Mmmmmm."

THE LION KING: Alternate Ending

Directed by Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff. Alternate Ending Restored by D.M. Anderson. (1994, 87 min).

" is your son."

"Hmm...what's that smell?"

"Oh, geez...he just crapped everywhere, your majesty. Here, take him."

"No way, monkey man. That's what we have underlings like you for."

"Christ, he smells worse than Pumba!"

"I'll give anyone in the kingdom a month's salary to take this nasty little bastard and dip him in the river!"