More Great Movie Opening / Title Credit Sequences!

My previous tirade on public domain abuse and Shakespeare :) made me think of a few more incredible opening credit sequences.


WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S ROMEO AND JULIET- Brilliantly directed by Baz Lurhmann (the only one of his four films I’ve seen all of, the other three I’m not positive are for me) this is a great film, great trailer, and…. Great opening credit sequence.

William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (Special Edition)


PAT GARRET AND BILLY THE KID- You could hold up any of Pekinpah’s films, but even for a Pekinpah film this credit sequence stands out. It’s amazing. And not something PETA would approve of.

Sam Peckinpah’s Legendary Westerns Collection (The Wild Bunch / Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid / Ride the High Country / The Ballad of Cable Hogue)

PISTOL WHIPPED- Seagal’s movies of the last decade or two have been of questionable quality. PISTOL WHIPPED is a surprisingly good film, that I actually enjoy more, every time I watch it. And one of the impressive things for me with this film was that opening credit sequence. Bullets and Gravestones, a nicely done combination.

Pistol Whipped


MENACE II SOCIETY- Doesn’t actually have a credit sequence, it has a title sequence. But what a sequence. It is a horrific, horrific film, that remains almost 20 years later brilliantly directed, and wrenchingly performed. To think this is someone’s debut film is amazing. Offensive, vulgar, sad, twisted, and unfortunately still too accurate a portrait of generational ignorance, lost souls, and man made hells. But the film is also quite engrossing, with moments of levity and even fleeting moments… of love.

Menace II Society [Blu-ray]
I’m a DVD guy, I really don’t care for Bluray. The packaging sucks (The moronic blue bar, was it designed by a blind guy? Cheap materials, poorly designed. Everyone I own (METROPOLIS, WATCHMEN Director’s Cut) looks like crap on my shelf, compared to the simple, functional design of a DVD case), and the quality difference between DVD, for me isn’t enough to justify paying more. So, I only recommend Blu-rays over DVD, if they offer special features not found on the DVD, and the price is right. This Blu-Ray qualifies.

Kiss Me Deadly (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

KISS ME DEADLY- Sports one of the most striking and haunting credit sequences. The Scrolling text, with the woman panting inconsolably beneath it.


FRACTURE- Is a very good thriller, with a quiet, understated credit sequence that is, like the film itself… endearing, and sticks with you long after you’ve seen the movie.

Fracture (Widescreen Edition)

That’s all for now!

STRAW DOGS Remake September 2011 Release Poster Update

I had previously posted the following regarding the upcoming September 2011 release of STRAW DOGS:

STRAW DOGS- As I’ve previously mentioned I have my qualms about this remake, and having just seen the trailer it only increases my doubts about this film. First the trailer basically is the entire film, and 2nd the film is a pretty formulaic reduction of a far more complex original, and 3rd the actors as I’ve previously discussed. Basically the trailer has actually decreased my interest in this film. The lack of a decent poster at this late stage, illustrating the lack of this films identity when compared to the original, that has one of the great, iconic posters of film. So based on all this, currently no plans to see this remake in the theater if at all.

Well proof that marketing departments everywhere take a gander at this blog :), STRAW DOG marketing has released a new poster:

It’s not bad, infact it is a very good poster, but I have to say I’m still not remotely interested in seeing this film.

The new poster does not change this film’s uninteresting trailer, and uninteresting casting. The only thing that gives me hope in this film is director Rod Lurie of THE CONTENDER fame. However even he is not enough for me to pay theater prices to see this. It’s rental fodder.

2011 Upcoming Summer Fall films worth seeing in the Theater! (And those that aren’t)

This Summer & Fall’s selection of movies is pretty uninteresting.

Pirates- don’t care. Harry Potter- don’t care. Green Lantern- trailer looks awful. Hangover- Don’t care. Panda2- Don’t care. Cars2- Don’t care. X-men First Class- Trailer has me completely uninterested.

So yeah, summer is sequel heavy, and I am not spending my money on most of em.

    Also ones that sound interesting and they can go either way, being either okay or terrible, are:

STRAW DOGS- As I’ve previously mentioned I have my qualms about this remake, and having just seen the trailer it only increases my doubts about this film. First the trailer basically is the entire film, and 2nd the film is a pretty formulaic reduction of a far more complex original, and 3rd the actors as I’ve previously discussed. Basically the trailer has actually decreased my interest in this film. The lack of a decent poster at this late stage, illustrating the lack of this films identity when compared to the original, that has one of the great, iconic posters of film. So based on all this, currently no plans to see this remake in the theater if at all.

VIVA RIVA- This congo film is seemingly getting some attention, but from some conflicting reviews it sounds like it might be more exploitation flick, gansta rap than I care to be interested in.

I liked CITY OF GOD because there is a vein of decency and humanity and redemption that grounds it. VIVA RIVA has me concerned that it’s just a lowest common denominator, abuse women gangsta want-to-be flick, and that doesn’t interest me in the slightest.

I have a low tolerance for watching women get abused, or the glorification of ignorance, not my idea of something to pay to see. If reviews come in and paint this as something better than what I think it is, then I’ll catch it on DVD.
ADDENDUM: I just saw the trailer to VIVA RIVA… it looks good. So yeah, if I can catch this at a local theater I’ll check it out.

ABDUCTION- I keep wanting to like the films of John Singleton, but the thing is typically I just don’t.

BOYS IN THE HOOD was okay, a nice debut, but is ever in the shadow of the superior MENACE II SOCIETY by the Hughes Brothers. The former feeling dated even upon release, and the latter being ever timeless in its stylish, existential and gothic examination, of hearts of darkness. But very few films can compare favorably to the Hughes Brothers debut, but taking that out of the equation Singleton’s followup films from SHAFT to FOUR BROTHERS also tend to underwhelm, to go through the motions of having a story but tend to lack either momentum or direction.

So adding to my misgivings of Singleton as director, is my complete disinterest in watching his TWILIGHT star, that is the lead in ABDUCTION. I don’t mean any harm… but that is one odd looking kid, but I guess the teen girls find something in that look. However me being not a teen girl, I require out of the star and the director, the ability to carry a film and make me care about it. And I’m completely uninterested in watching this actor. And the trailer does nothing to change my reservations.

So failing any additional feedback ABDUCTION will probably be a DVD rental if that.

    Now the ones that do interest me enough to pay theater prices? Glad you asked :) They are:

10 Jun-

SUPER 8- looks like a cross between ET and CLOVERFIELD, and considering it’s a collaboration between Spielberg and JJ Abrams, that particular feel is obviously by design. I hated CLOVERFIELD but JJ Abrams coming off his impressive STAR TREK reboot, has built up some good will with me, so I’m willing to plunk down money and try this one in the theater.


29 Jun 2011

TRANSFORMERS DARK OF THE MOON IMAX 3D- For reasons previously discussed, very interested in this film. And will be the only movie I pay IMAX 3D prices for, for the rest of the year. Michael Bay shot this with the Cameron 3D cameras, so the 3D should look as good as AVATAR. Plus the trailer just looks great.

THE LEDGE- Matthew Chapman’s first film as director in over 20 years, it’s an intriguing premise about a man compelled to committ suicide. Stars Terrence Howard trying to put his career back on track post the Iron Man debacle. This and another 2011 film LITTLE MURDER, directed by Predrag Antonijevic, starring Howard and set in post-Katrina New Orleans has me interested.

1 July 2011

THE PERFECT HOST- A criminal chooses the wrong house to hide out in. Not typically the kind of film I would pay to see in the theater, but the trailer looks good. Definite maybe.

5 Aug 2011

RISE OF THE APES- There’s only two trailers for the rest of the year that really made my jaw drop and made me exclaim “I have got to go see that!”.

One is the TRANSFORMERS DARK OF THE MOON the other is RISE OF THE APES.

Just like any other kid who grew up in the 70s I liked the Original PLANET OF THE APES films, largely due to the performance of Roddy McDowell one of my favorite actors, and Kim Hunter who I only recently realized was the Kim Hunter of STREET CAR NAMED DESIRE and THE 7TH VICTIM (If you had to define my perfect woman, what I’m attracted to, it would be very close to Kim Hunter in those two roles, her looks and the strange aura she gives off of both vulnerability and sultriness).

So shorn of these two actors to center such a out there scifi film, I had doubts about any remake. Particularly given the awful Tim Burton attempt. However this trailer is going for a different tact, and the Universal Monster/Frankenstein fan in me… really likes it. If the movie lives up to the trailer it will be AWESOME. Either way, I’ll be in the theaters to find out. Also I’m hearing noting but accolades for writer/director Rupert Wyatt’s previous film THE ESCAPIST (which I will make time to watch on DVD in the coming week). This could be the movie of the summer, if not the entire year.

12 Aug 2011

FINAL DESTINATION 5- The series that cannot die returns for a fifth installment. The previous entry which I saw in RealD 3D, was okay 3D, with a fantastic opening credit sequence, unfortunately that was the best thing about the movie, after that it continued to lose steam till the forgettable ending. That said a new director, the addition of Tony Todd, and a pretty solid trailer, and the fact it was shot in 3D has me interested enough to give this latest entry a look on the big screen.

26 Aug 2011

COLUMBIANA- I really liked SALT, and the trailer for this does look good, and I like Zoe Saldana, and how do you not like a director with the name Olivier Megaton… all that is on the plus side. On the minus side is Zoe Saldana playing a bad ass is pushing my suspension of disbelief too far. She’s a 110lbs for goodness sake. The guns are bigger than she is.

Angelina Jolie is at least a big, substantial girl, so you can buy into her handling herself a little bit more. Plus I don’t like how they are kinda grooming Zoe Saldana to be the next Halle Barry, ie someone who is being groomed for typical Black women in White films type rolls, ala MONSTERS BALL. These type of roles are the reason I don’t go to see anything Halle Barry is in, and i would hate for Zoe Saldana to fall into such easy stereotyping. All that to say, the trailer looks good, but I do have qualms. I may see it in the theater though, because it also has Lennie James in a starring role, and he’s a good actor.

Entering the fall only one film as of this writing has me interested in seeing it in the theaters, Tarsem Singh’s THE IMMORTALS.

11 NOV 2011

THE IMMORTALS- Tarsem Singh who helmed the visually stunning THE FALL returns this fall with THE IMMORTALS. By the producers of 300, it has that 300 feel with some CLASH OF THE TITANS tossed in. Visually the trailer looks awesome. However just in that bit of trailer the acting looks hokey and the story similarly questionable. It was a problem that plagued Singh’s THE FALL; shaky performances, and a shaky story. Unlike Snyder who can do both amazing visuals and elicit amazing performances, Singh has yet to meld both in service of a strong, engagingly told story. However, there’s always a first time, and based on the visuals alone I’m intrigued enough to give this film a try in the theater. Because again, like Snyder, even his failures are far more interesting than most directors’ successes. Much like Peckinpah who produced films that never did great at the box office, and opened to mixed critical reviews, but 50 years later have grown in esteem, and are now remembered and still watched when the more commercially successful films of his day are not.

That’s the trajectory of directors Snyder and Singh… they are making movies, slightly ahead of the comfort zone of their time, movies that people will be discussing and praising 50 years from now. Perhaps IMMORTALS will be one of those films or perhaps like most mythological movies it will sink like a stone from the memories of men. Time will tell.

Okay some last minute mentions:

After a lapse of over a decade, John Carpenter returns to the directorial chair with the horror film THE WARD. The film which wrapped in 2010 and received a UK release in January 2011, is finally slated for an 11 July 2011 US release. By all reports critical response to it so far has been luke-warm. I’m still at odds with the idea of releasing US movies abroad before releasing it domestically.

While some of this has to do with studios playing games of economic gymnastics, for smaller studios… much of that has to do with the monopolistic distribution system in the US and the difficulty and expense of getting a slot for wide release in increasingly studio controlled theaters. Whatever the reason THE WARD after a sizable delay is hitting US theaters this year.

Seemingly dealing with a ghost in a women’s institution… the film doesn’t scream original, but from the trailer it is shot nicely, plus it’s Carpenter, he’s earned the benefit of the doubt with me.

That said, the poster is not filling me with confidence.

I’m a big believer if you don’t care enough to put out a creative poster, that’s pretty proportional to what value the backers put in the film. Having a good poster is no indicator of quality, look at Roland Emmerich’s 2012 (a horrible film), but at least it means someone thinks enough of a movie to try and promote it well.

Typically when the poster is nothing more than someone’s face, the money men are saying “we’ve paid for a star, we’re not paying for marketing as well. Their mugshot either brings in people or it doesn’t, either way we’re not spending any more money to market this turkey.”. You get these bland mugshot posters typically when the backers think they have a commercial failure on their hands.

Now that’s not always the case, sometimes expected financial disappointments turn out to be commercial successes… such as HANCOCK (worst… poster… ever, but turned out to be a good movie and managed to gross over 300 million).

So we’ll see if THE WARD will also be an exception to the bad poster rule. Somehow I don’t think so.

And another delayed film, the Guillermo Del Toro produced DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, after being shelved for some time, is also looking at a theatrical release this year. Already released in Iceland in March, the film gets a UK, Australia, and Turkey release on the 12th of August, a Finland release on the 19th of August, and finally cracks the states on the 26th of August.

That just annoys me. But the vagaries of distribution aside the film itself looks interesting, if extremely familiar and formulaic.

With odes of DARKNESS and any number of “child in jeopardy, not believed by the parents, evil house” films. Films that tend to infuriate me with the stupidity of its leads/writing.

Helmed by first time feature director Troy Nixey, the film can go either way. The trailer itself is okay, but films like this tend to lean on that same conceit which I have a problem with, of staying in a house when they’ve been made aware of the danger. So time will tell if this film can do anything different. Katie Holmes, who I tend to find, comes off very annoying and abrasive in everything I’ve seen her in, from Dawson’s Creek to the Batman films, seemed okay in the trailer, we’ll see if that extends to the film as a whole.

I have seen pundits on-line creaming their shorts over the trailer for Jeff Nichols 2nd film, TAKE SHELTER, scheduled for 7 Oct 2011 release. I’ve seen the trailer, it’s okay. Obtuse, not giving anything away, but kinda intriguing. What it is not… is great, or deserving of all this hyperbole of best trailer ever. Are you people on crack? It’s a small, understated trailer, that doesn’t really say anything, but hints it’s about a guy with schizophrenia. May be worth a look, or not. But all this hype screams of award season bs. Time will tell.

And as of this writing that’s all the films for the rest of 2011 that have me interested enough to see them in the theater. I’ll add to this list should any notable new trailers pop up.

THE EXPENDABLES Movie Review or THE EFFICACY OF THE BLOOD OF HEROES


THE EXPENDABLES- When I first heard about this idea, I thought it would be a nice, fun kooky throwback to the 80s film of yore. Nothing great but just a nice teaming of some 80s icon, a nice throwaway flick.

So what did I think?

To say EXPENDABLES does not disappoint is to perhaps practice understatement to an unacceptable degree. Quite frankly it is a great movie… full stop. Sylvester Stallone, once again, proving himself to be a creative force to be reckoned with, and a damn great director.

Stallone, much as he did in 2008’s RAMBO, takes the tropes of Hollywood’s current 80s infatuation phase, to craft on to that skeleton a film that is superior to its influences. A homage indicates a film that is a calling card to something greater, THE EXPENDABLES like the aforementioned RAMBO, is not a homage. It is better than its inspirations, as Stallone ratchets the action and adrenaline up to 100, and then takes it beyond.

And more than that THE EXPENDABLES is a far less one dimensional film than those of the 80s, where the bad guys were mustache twirling villains and right and wrong were clearly delineated paths (with the exception of the Somalian Piracy issue, that the film presents in just that one dimensional way. Eschewing the larger issues that the pirates may not be the ones seizing those boats, but may instead be the companies and nations, that are launching them, and are providing the money and weapons that allow a genocidal war to continue. This vilification of easy targets, akin, but less severe than DISTRICT 9’s Nigerian Bashing).

The Generalisimo is presented, thankfully, more adeptly. While a despot, he is one placed there by forces in the form of the always impressive Eric Roberts.

And to speak on Eric Roberts for a second: I’m glad to see in films like this and THE DARK KNIGHT that he is finally getting the due he didn’t in his youth. Eric Roberts long being one of the best actors Hollywood was ignoring.

And Stallone manages to grant all these stalwarts their moments. Peppering his 80s icons with relative new guys and real life tough guys Terry Crews (Retired NFL Football Player, and has appeared in several films including GET SMART and DELIVER US FROM EVA. He brings a distinct, calming and very affable energy to the mix), Randy Couture (Wrestler and retired MMA Champion. Has starred in REDBELT and SCORPION KING among others. Like all truly dangerous guys he brings an easy, laid back presence to the screen), Steve Austin (A former champion WWF Wrestler, and has starred in NASH BRIDGES and THE LONGEST YARD. Known as Stone Cold from wrestling, he brings that intimidating presence to the EXPENDABLES with impressive results).

And not to be outdone by the new guys Stallone, Statham, Li and Rourke (who delivers the film’s central theme of sacrifice in quite a moving scene) do the heavy lifting in terms of story beats.

Giselle Itie, the stunning 28 year old Mexican actress, makes her big screen debut as the worthy reason for the Expendables to expend themselves. She captivates and I see big things ahead for her.

And Charisma Carpenter stars as Statham’s love interest, I didn’t even equate her with BUFFY until checking IMDB in prep for this review. Always attractive, there is something new in her face. Something that is not quite unlike suffering, and not quite unlike grace. She’s one of those rare people whose face only grows more… compelling with time. She is on-screen just briefly, but manages to truly burn herself into those scenes.

And returning to Icon territory, Dolph Lundgren is an actor (like many Action heroes) who has fought long for respect. I’ve always felt he has earned it, being quite a fan of the much railed against first PUNISHER movie starring him and Louis Gossett Jr.

And by all accounts his Direct To Video films, which I intend to bring you an overview of, showcase his growing skills as both actor and director.

With THE EXPENDABLES he gets his first big screen showing in decades, and captivates with it. As a man who has endured and seen and been… too much.

To a certain extent the script by Stallone, in seeming throwaway one-liners addresses each man’s very public private issues, in a self effacing way that speaks of much courage to those who can listen. From Stallone’s marriage woes, to claims of substance abuse, to subtle lights shined on, not the 80s, but today.

The fact that their defacto hangout is Rourke’s tattoo parlor, has nothing to do with the 80s and everything to do with today. It speaks to the proliferation of body art in the 21st century, the need in an empty age to wear your allegiances on your skin because all other allegiances… have failed you. They are men shorn of an inner identity seeking to find in the identification of the flesh, a needle and ink that will pierce deep enough… to identify their souls.

You can get all this out of the movie (akin to how the French looked at our stylish Black and White crime films of the post war era, and saw in them existential commentaries on fatalism and the human dilemma and ultimately coined them… Film Noir), or you can see it as just a phenomenal action movie. Or if you’re like me, you can do both.

Either way, Stallone is really pushing the envelope in terms of on-screen brutality. It is not as clearly disturbing as RAMBO, which I think is a very subversive film, that works on levels of both exhilaration and castigation.

I think one thing it gives you, that you didn’t get from the films of the 80s,where everyone died pretty, is that death is a violent and violating thing, and you don’t ever want to be shot if you can avoid it.

Because flesh wounds in Stallone’s films, more often than not, take off limbs. I think it is a truth about violence that was often missing in the throwback video-game like films of the 80s. And here that violence, of the School of Spielberg’s SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, and since adopted in films as diverse as TAE GUK, RAMBO, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, DISTRICT 9, is in full effect here. Death not as Pekinpah or Woo’s Blood Ballets, but death as meat grinder.

That aesthetic is in full effect here in THE EXPENDABLES, done in a manner somewhere between that aforementioned exhilaration and castigation.

I’m always a little conflicted by these action sequences, and I think that conflict, that sense of horror, is the point. However in films like DISTRICT 9 and to a certain extent here, I see that violence used less as something to horrify, something to remind you life has weight, and more as just something to entertain you.

And that’s an odd and uncomfortable line for me as I get older, this violence as entertainment. I like to hold fast to this idea, old-fashioned I agree, of violence as a last resort… to save maiden’s from dragons, and the weak from the wrong.

But if we are honest this querulous occupation/obsession with the deification of the gun and the men who wield it is ingrained into the early days of our cinema and beyond. Past the Penny-Dreadfuls of the wild-west, past the cobblestoned tales of Victorian England, past the campfire myths and warrior songs, past gunfire’s birth, past the forging of iron, or the wielding of a bow, past perhaps even fire’s spark. Always the glorification of those who live by war.

All to say that we are a caustic and tragic tribe, that at its heart believes, perhaps too fervently, in the efficacy of the blood of heroes.

And for moments fleeting Stallone’s picture touches, perhaps only haphazardly on this, dark dichotomy of our age. Warriors devoid of any clean or simple or justifiable war.

It could be laid against me that I am reading too much into a simple action flick/ DIRTY DOZEN take-off (down to even the setup of the Generalisimo’s fortress), giving Stallone too much credit as a writer (the original story/script being product of Dave Callaham) but I think not. Stallone has proven himself quite an adept and manipulative writer throughout his career, and a fixer of ‘untrue’ scripts, ROCKY and FIRST BLOOD sensations of their time because they exhibit a very deep understanding of what moves us, of what… galvanizes us on an almost instinctual level. I don’t think there’s a more insightful writer/director working. He understands the human heart in a way that very few people do, and he understands the oft querulous nature— of hero. And I see his later films as a questioning of what becomes the hero, in an age where we have all (nations, and nation-states)… to some extent… embraced villainy.

But my concerns about the depiction of violence to the side, THE EXPENDABLES is a film that beneath the wall to wall action, manages to let each character shine, never an easy thing to do with a large cast, and more imbues the characters and the film, with real heart. It is an inarguably well made film, that hits all the notes, and I believe, even all the conflict it hopes for. A great film that I look forward to the director’s commentary, and making-of-specials, and adding to my DVD shelf. As well as interest in the already under preparation sequel. Highly Recommended. B+/A-.


The Expendables (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)