Currently Watching : Richard Linklater’s BEFORE SUNRISE

‘The Answer must be in the attempt.’

I had no desire to see this film, but finally watched, it is quite a lovely film. Covering one day, one chance encounter between two people. There is something very relateable and universal about meeting someone in passing, and bridging that gap between is there or isn’t there something there.

It’s a wonderful film about those fleeting glances we have all had, followed and acted upon, and leading to something by chance begun. Here that unlikely and awkward and magical and inept circumstance of burgeoning love is told against the backdrop of one of the most beautiful of cities, Vienna, immortalized by Carol Reed’s and Orson Welles’ THIRD MAN.

It’s a wonderful way to pass an hour and a half. Watching a film about the moments that live… because of the attempt.

 

“I believe if there’s any kind of God it wouldn’t be in any of us, not you or me but just this little space in between. If there’s any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. I know, it’s almost impossible to succeed but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt.” — Celine in BEFORE SUNRISE

 

Fantastic Fridays: OPIUM AND THE KUNG-FU MASTER Roku Amazon Prime Movie Review!

THE SHAW BROTHERS tends to be thought of as a maker of period/classic Kung Fu Films, and while that is their bread and butter, there is a wealth of diversity in the Shaw Brothers’ Output that isn’t readily apparent.

But once you start diving into their catalog you find a wealth of diversity in genre and period and storytelling.

The Message/Anti-Drug  Movie was a staple of Nancy Reagan era politics. She the bandaid to her husband’s cartel creating foreign policy that was flooding the inner cities with white death.

In OPIUM AND THE KUNG-FU MASTER  you find the message movie wrapped in great sets, cinematography, performances, script and stellar fight scenes. Enjoyable and addictive movie from beginning to last superb fight scene.

Watch it via your Roku or Fire TV and catch it free courtesy of AMAZON PRIME. The print on Amazon prime is in superb hd quality and is the most affordable way to see this movie. the bare-bones bluray is unfortunately quite expensive.

however, it is definitely one to own/have in your collection if you can swing it. it is one of the best shaw brother movies.

Opium and the Kung Fu Master [Blu-ray]

BLU-RAY Movie of the Day : Antoine Fuqua’s EQUALIZER

“Progress. Not perfection.”

The Equalizer Movie Poster

I know in this day of streaming it’s all the rage to herald the death of physical media.

Allow me to be the voice of dissent.

Streaming is fine for sampling things, and trying things, but for things you love, and intend to watch again, revisit again, give me that feature rich DVD or BLU-RAY any-day, and twice on Sunday.

I love film. And I love cast and Director’s commentary. For films I love, after I consume the film, I like to go back and hear about the process, the experience of making the film.

For a beloved film, it just adds to the enjoyment.

And for cinephiles or hopefuls one day looking to work in some capacity crafting these once celluloid marvels, a commentary by Michael Mann or Ridley Scott or the late great Tony Scott is like being part of the best film school in the world.  It’s enjoyable AND informative.

My favorite movies I might get introduced to on streaming, but providing they have that commentary and special features, I will always buy in Blu-ray/DVD format.

The Equalizer Movie Poster

Antoine Fuqua’s THE EQUALIZER is one of those movies. First the Blu-Ray picture and sound quality is stellar. No buffering issues, or making sure you haven’t gone over broadband quota issues, or weather related or ‘time of day’ issues that can all affect your enjoyment with streaming. No the Blu-Ray, as long as you have your player and power, will be there for you, in the same spectacular quality.

Now moving on to the film itself, while I liked the TV show well enough, I too was incredulous when i heard about a remake. Add to that the odd choice of Denzel Washington to helm a big screen version of a mid-tier show, best known for the Britishness of its protagonist.

But I’m happy to say AntoinE Fuqua and the writers and Denzel Washington do the impossible in making this 80s small screen show, into galvanizing big screen entertainment. From the first frame the story is told, of a man of regimented routine, of  necessary order. Peace, found in the adherence to the space between seconds. A dragon allowed to sleep. Until one day something shatters that routine, that peace, and the dragon must wake.

Fuqua is a director, whose first couple of efforts left me cold, but I have to say he has grown into a great Director. There is such a beautiful patience in this film, that it makes the action scenes when they come, so much more devastating. And a large part of that is Denzel Washington, he brings a laconic, measured weight to the doors he steps through, a gravitas, that really sells the moments he must… wake.

Coming out the same time frame as JOHN WICK, both films share a common theme of men of extreme skillsets being forced back into using those skills. It’s lovely how the same theme of vengeance can be handled so differently, and so well in those differences.

JOHN WICK is a balls to the wall, action extravaganza,  EQUALIZER offers a bit more measured approach, but somehow manages to make every person’s fall more personal for that measured response. Fuqua’s EQUALIZER takes the time to watch the light go out of a man’s eyes. And there is something sobering and frightening about that. I love JOHN WICK, and looking forward to JOHN WICK II, but I love EQUALIZER just as much. The only misstep to EQUALIZER is the poor choice of a rap song for the closing credits, but other than that a home-run of a film.

It is a phenomenal film. Made even more so by the VENGEANCE MODE that the Blu-Ray offers. All in all a grade ‘A’ film, well deserving of owning in Blu-Ray.

 

Get your copy at the link below:

The Equalizer [Blu-ray]

Recent Streaming Movie Watch Disappointments and Winners!

LOSERS

Movies that initially grabbed me because of the poster or reviews, but turned out to be disappointments:

  • DEEP IN THE DARKNESS- Loved the poster, but unfortunately from an initial good build up, just came to an underwhelming end.[NETFLIX] https://i1.wp.com/pics.filmaffinity.com/deep_in_the_darkness-300967339-large.jpg
  • AS ABOVE SO BELOW – Another film that started with an interesting premise, but simply squandered it, in a derivative and uninteresting film.Extra Large Movie Poster Image for As Above, So Below (#1 of 2)
  • DARK FLOORS – It fails the stupid test, ie ‘Would a rational person do this, given this’. More often than not, most Horror movies, fail the Stupid test. And once you fail that Stupid test a few times, I lose any interest in caring about the protagonist or wanting to finish the movie. 40+ minutes in, leaving your kid, with someone who has already made a threat against your kid, in a survival situation. Who the eff would do that? No one! I’m out![AMAZON/HBO] https://i2.wp.com/img.moviepostershop.com/dark-floors-movie-poster-2008-1020440808.jpg
  • THE FOREST – This tale of a missing twin… YAWN. Bored to death in 15 minutes. [AMAZON/HBO]Extra Large Movie Poster Image for The Forest (#3 of 7)

WINNERS

These films rocked!

  • LIGHTS OUT aka DANS LE NOIR/IN THE DARK – Loved the short film, and the director managed to knock it out of the park for the feature length version. I’m waiting for a DVD/Blu-Ray with Director’s or cast commentary. That’s how much I liked this film. A solid GREAT.   Lights Out Movie Poster
  • NO ONE LIVES- This puts a nice little spin on the standard slasher flick, by having the victims be ruthless criminals. I’m not a slasher fan for the simple fact I have no interest in watching bad guys terrorizing young women. But bad guys taking out bad guys, seems a bit more fair to me. And this one has a quality director and is much better made than the typical genre fare.A solid VERY GOOD. Extra Large Movie Poster Image for No One Lives (#4 of 5)
  • KEANU- This Key and Peele film is surprisingly good. Lots of fun. A solid VERY GOOD.
  • THE REVENANT – Dicaprio earned all accolades for this role, as does the director, Alejandro G. Inarritu who has proved himself with a handful of films to be one of the best Directors in the world (up there with directors such as Alfonso Cuaron of CHILDREN OF MEN fame). This film is the definition of harrowing, I had to fast forward the middle of the bear scene, I couldn’t watch that, it was that intense and grueling a scene. And the film is one long crawl, that unexpectedly opens up to moments of stark beauty amidst the horror. I do think the film veered a little into self important territory, especially with that ending, but overall it does what it sets out to do. It stuns. Fantastic camera work, makes this a must see. That said it still isn’t in the same league as JERIMIAH JOHNSON from the 1970s. But the REVENANT, minor issues mentioned, is a solid GREAT and MUST SEE.
  • BATMAN THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS PT 1 – A fantastic and very faithful adaption of the Frank Miller classic. A solid GREAT.
  • DEADPOOL- I had my doubts about the hype, but the hype was warranted. A solid GREAT. Deadpool Movie Poster
  • BATMAN V SUPERMAN DAWN OF JUSTICE – I read quite a few less than stellar reviews of Zack Snyder’s Theatrical version of this film. But finally seen, some wonky bits aside, I thought it was fantastic. Ben Affleck’s BRUCE WAYNE/BATMAN I thought was great, as were all the other actors. I loved Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Luthor. He joins a host of talented actors to portray the character and all of them bring something unique to their take. A solid GREAT! I liked it so much I’m buying the ULTIMATE EDITION which has 30 more minutes and is generally written up as an improvement on the theatrical.
  • THE CELL- Speaking of great directors, TARSEM SINGH is one of the foremost visualist Directors working today. His films are sumptuous visual feasts. The problem is the stories tend to be lackluster at best. THE CELL marries a basic police procedural, very much Michael Mann’s MANHUNTER in places, to a wacky excuse… to bring in screen filling visuals by Singh. The marriage works, as sporting solid actors, I think it is Singh’s best film to date. If you like THE CELL another visually sumptuous film with surrealist and dream laden imagery to try is RITUAL III. All in all THE CELL is a solid VERY GOOD! The Cell Movie Poster
  • 28 DAYS LATER- This pseudo Zombie/Crazies film is just plain good. Some definite parallels to WALKING DEAD in its beginning, complete with the protagonist waking up in a deserted hospital. I quite like it, especially the ending, that flies in the face of the general trend of these movies. 28 Days Later Movie Poster
  • INSIDIOUS III – I was a huge fan of the first INSIDIOUS film, and quite disliked the 2nd film. It was just a misstep, most notably in the useless killing of the character of Elise Rainier played awesomely by Lin Shaye.
  • Well this film, a prequel corrects this, by putting Lin Shaye’s character very much on the front lines. When she steps up in the third act I loved it. Initially I had my doubts about this film, the stupid kid doing what she has been told not to do, wears thin on me, real quick. Thankfully the film quickly jumps over that and moves at a quick pace to the heart of the story.
  • And this movie unlike the majority of horror films has actors who can act, and is wonderfully directed/edited. For in a horror movie, like with comedy, timing is everything; and the timing and pacing in this film works wonderfully to deliver the scares. Wonderful end credits. Great music by Joseph Bishara. A solid Very Good.

Insidious: Chapter 3 Movie Poster

THE LAST WORD : SUPERMAN II Richard Lester Theatrical Version vs SUPERMAN II Richard Donner Cut!!

https://art-s.nflximg.net/a51de/87597ad788e1e7e1adb2f9171df6be8aca8a51de.jpg

 

Netflix is showing the theatrical cut of SUPERMAN II. Anyone who tries to tell you the Richard Donner cut of SUPERMAN II is better than the Richard Lester theatrical version is quite frankly deranged.

Okay maybe that’s a bit harsh (no it is not) but while there are pieces of the so-called Donner Cut that would be nice added into the theatrical cut, most notably the Marlon Brando scenes in the fortress of Solitude are essential, and the extended scenes with Luthor and Ms. Teschmacher are just a lot of fun (I strongly recommend getting the DVDs of both and cutting those scenes into the Theatrical cut to create something I call the improved cut. It will wow you).

as a whole the theatrical cut of SUPERMAN II is vastly superior and more satisfying then the Donner cut. Full stop.

The opening is vastly superior in the theatrical cut, as is the reason for Zod’s escape from the phantom zone. And the ending of the Donner cut, SUPERMAN turning back time again, is just lazy and stupid, from a creative level, and makes the memory wiping kiss in the theatrical version look like a stroke of genius.

And yes the theatrical version takes liberties with Superman’s powers, force beams, mirage powers, using the shield on his suit as a net, but I never had a problem with these scenes… because they were fun. And really, in for a penny… in for a pound, once you sign off on heat vision and cold breath, then mirage powers, and force blasts, and memory wiping… seems like just enjoying the ride.

Both versions skate over the final reckoning of the defeated villains, so neither version is perfect, but of the two the theatrical version is head and shoulders better. In my opinion Donner wanting to end the 2nd movie with the same unsatisfying gimmick he ended the first film with, like I said, is just lazy writing and unimaginative thinking. I could clearly see based on that, why the studios replaced him.

Final verdict?

The Richard Lester SUPERMAN II theatrical film, trounces the Richard Donner SUPERMAN II Cut by a mile.

Get your copy here:

 

Superman II (Two-Disc Special Edition)

MOVIE OF THE DAY : 1000 ON THE BLACK

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The era of the Spaghetti Western was a prolific and profitable one, running from the mid 60s to the late 70s.To be expected the dreck outweighed the winners. 1000 ON THE BLACK aka BLOOD AT SUNDOWN is one of the winners. Recommended. Catch it courtesy of Amazon Prime.

 

 

Coffin for the Sheriff/Blood at Sundown

Blood At Sundown