The Lost Men Series : Four GREAT films currently available on Streaming!

The Lost Men Series : Four GREAT films currently available on Streaming!

prayerforavengefulgod

boy-wonder-movie-poster

936full-house-of-the-rising-sun-poster

6774

These four films, which did not get theatrical releases, are far better than the vast majority of films that do reach the theaters. Disappointing films such as DEAD MAN DOWN and SPRING BREAKERS get screen time, when visually and thematically superior films such as Tim McCann’s brilliant ANOTHER ZERO IN THE SYSTEM and Dan Eberle’s enthralling, nearly wordless PRAYER TO A VENGEFUL GOD go unheralded.

And Michael Morrissey’s impressive BOY WONDER is the myth of masked vengeance done better than most big budget super-hero movies. Rounding out the quartet, director Brian A. Miller’s HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN is one of the best neo-noirs seen since the Coen Brother’s BLOOD SIMPLE or Craig Ross Jr’s frenetic and fantastic CAPPUCCINO. Dave Bautista delivering a surprisingly elegant and understated performance.

One of the common threads these four movies share is understated but brilliant performances, as well as a thematic conceit of men either at odds or abandoned by the judicial system, who must themselves find justice for those around them.

From Mike Simmons memorable turn as the protagonist in ANOTHER ZERO IN THE SYSTEM (A great film unfairly lambasted by the short-sighted crowd, there’s rumors of director Tim McCann and star Mike Simmons in talk to helm the new Luke Cage/Power-Man series from Marvel/Netflix — to which I say… heck yes!) to Director/Writer Dan Eberle, also doing triple duty as star in his PRAYER TO A VENGEFUL GOD. Together these four films create a new and refreshing phase of American cinema, a new wave if you will.

Sample them for yourself while they last on streaming services, and when you find yourself smitten with them… purchase your copies here:

Another Zero in the System

Prayer to a Vengeful God

Boy Wonder

House of the Rising Sun

Advertisements

Today’s recommended Writer: John Ridley Pt 1 of 2

John Ridley is one of the most versatile of writers, starting out doing writing for such shows as MARTIN and FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR he would follow that up with some of the most accomplished novels, screenplays, and films of the waning days of the 20th and new days of the 21st century.

For me his loose HARD LUCK pulp trilogy of STRAY DOGS, LOVE IS A RACKET and EVERYBODY SMOKES IN HELL are the books that made me a John Ridley fan. They are a series of exhilarating mystery novels, that share only a thematic sensibility but a successful one, of a hard luck or down on their luck protagonist, trying to navigate a world completely out of his control.

Stray Dogs

Love Is a Racket

Everybody Smokes in Hell

These would spawn two equally excellent films, Namely U-TURN based on STRAY DOGS and directed by Oliver Stone and starring Sean Penn and Jennifer Lopez, and COLD AROUND THE HEART written and directed by Ridley and starring David Caruso, Kelly Lynch and Stacey Dash, both excellent, intimate, dark noirs/neo-noirs in the vein of films such as BLOOD SIMPLE and THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE.

Unfortunately both films were released in 1997, the year of Blockbusters such as TITANIC, GOOD WILL HUNTING, FIFTH ELEMENT, MEN IN BLACK, as well as the year of the crime film/neo noir JACKIE BROWN, LA CONFIDENTIAL, LOST HIGHWAY, THE GAME. It was just a case of bad timing, and these great movies getting squeezed out at the box office.

Unfortunately I think what the financial under-performance of the films, specifically COLD AROUND THE HEART robbed us of most, was more work from John Ridley as director. I think in any less big-budget heavy year, his COLD AROUND THE HEART would have done for him what ONE FALSE MOVE did for the career of Carl Franklin, or the aforementioned BLOOD SIMPLE did for the Coen Brothers.

As it is both films are available on DVD (unfortunately Director’s Commentary versions aren’t yet out there) and can be appreciated for the stylish and compelling films they are.

And they led into the next phase of John Ridley’s career.

U Turn: Price your copy here

Cold Around the Heart: Price your copy here

-End of Part I-

On THE AMERICAN movie trailer, George Clooney, and Spenser Tracy

“You’ve done much sinning.”

“All men are sinners, Father. Everything I’ve done, I’ve had good cause to do.”

… from the upcoming film THE AMERICAN

George Clooney is an actor, who early on with his work on ER distinguished himself as someone to watch. To be on the lookout for. His understated manner, with self effacing downward looks, that seemed not so much a style as a state. Not so much acting as being.

And he’s lived up to that small screen promise, with powerhouse performances in big screen films such as:

PEACEMAKER: An under the radar action flick, that takes the mold of James Bond or Bourne Supremacy and grounds it in some stellar performances and action sequences. Directed by Mimi Leder of ER fame, it is one of my favorite action films, in large part due to the humanity Leder brings to the scenes, there is a price to pay for the violence in her films. And Clooney’s performance, his ability to show that price… anchors and elevates the movie.

OUT OF SIGHT: I think my favorite of all the Soderbergh/Clooney pairings. In large part due to the chemistry of Clooney and Lopez.

And he’s done everything from the OCEANS films, to Coen comedies to MICHAEL CLAYTON to THE GOOD GERMAN to SOLARIS with varying degrees of effectiveness.

But for me where Clooney’s unconventional strengths shine… is in the conventional trappings of the action or thriller movie. It is here where his understated, but heart-felt, performance, where his character’s struggling toward grace, stands out from what passes for action heroes. He comes across (in his thriller films) very much as Spenser Tracy in BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK as an actor who can do more with a whisper than everyone else can do with shouts.

So the fact that George Clooney has only done 2 action/thriller movies is I think unfortunate.

However, having watched the previews of his upcoming THE AMERICAN (check out the trailer here), this looks like one that will get me in theaters, and if it lives up to its preview I’ll be adding it to my DVD collection, beside PEACEMAKER and OUT OF SIGHT. (Assuming of course Anton Corbijn, relatively new director with only one feature to his name, the Joy Division bio-pic CONTROL, can steer the ship, on a very different type of film. Time will tell.)

And also I absolutely digg that poster. a great throwback to the pop art sensibilities that posters used to convey. All in all, it looks like a film to catch.

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN: An American Classic by The Coen Bros!

2007/2008 will go down in the books as a FANTASTIC YEAR for films, possibly the best year in a decade, with Hollywood cranking out intelligent, edgy and engrossing films; that entertain, and perhaps do a little bit more.

Hollywood has, reinvented themselves in the last couple of years from just a maker of popcorn eye-candy and summer action flicks, to a maker of films that resonate.

Even the supposed popcorn movies being so much more, I AM LEGEND being a genre defying flick, and one of the most impressive and engrossing Blockbusters I’ve seen in years. And 300 much to my surprise, being a visually and emotionally rousing film, fantastic work by relative unknown Zack Snyder.

And even RAMBO, dealing in gross extremes of war and violence, has something to say, something subtle, and profound to say (hearkening back to the first film) about its genre and its time.

So more than ever before we are getting films… willing to address through fiction, the disturbing factual times we live in.

And while Hollywood still has its share of turn off your brain Ridley Scott films, for every one of those you are now also getting, a CHILDREN OF MEN or a BABEL.

And this is due in large part to a daring new crop of directors, many of them South American, who bring a distinctive understanding of the edges of liberty… to their films. Guillermo Del Toro comes to mind. As does Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu of BABEL, AMORES PERROS, and 21 GRAMS fame. And Alfonso Cuaron of the phenomenal CHILDREN OF MEN.

But not to be undone by the new kids on the block, there are American Directors aplenty with things to say… and wonders to show you.

Chief among them… Joel and Ethan Coen of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN fame.

I was able to catch this flick before it departed the big screen, and I’m glad I did.

Since their breakthrough on the cinematic stage, Joel and Ethan Coen have proven themselves highly stylized, highly original, and highly idiosyncratic filmmakers.

And all three traits are in fine display in their latest, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Ostensibly a thriller, with knuckled edge moments of true menace, of uncomfortable menace, that hearkens back to such Masterpieces as BLOOD SIMPLE.

But this is far less a straight thriller, and it plays at some point, fast and loose, becomes cold, and reflective and withdrawn from seemingly the very subject of the movie, a film that becomes ever more withdrawn from itself. The wheres and whens and whys become afterthoughts as everything begins falling away.

There’s a wonderful aloofness to the movie, that kicks in to high gear when what should have been the climax of the movie, happens completely off stage; it is a bold decision, one that I can’t say is completely successful. Basically severing the emotional heart of the movie, the character, who to this point, is the one the audience identifies with.

So it’s a jarring moment to lose the star of the movie in such an offhand way. It is not the choice any number of directors would make. The Coens strip us of a true climax to the film, instead the film simply winds down… like a clock, or old men, or like life.

Like life too harshly lived, and arguably… too poorly.

The film ends, and only in reflection do we realize, the climax, like our best years, as individuals and as a nation, have passed us by, while we were making other plans.

It’s a courageous if not entirely successful way to end a film, and while I understand it is in keeping with the book, pulling such a structure off in a book and a film, are two very different hurdles.

Other filmmakers would have chosen a more conventional path, but not the Coens. And they don’t hand you anything in this movie, the fact that the movie takes place in the 70s, culminating in one last murder in 1980. They leave it for you to piece together. Much of the movie is like this, the Coens setting you in the tail-end of the storm, and you have to find your own way home.

Joel and Ethan Coen, with this movie reaffirming that they are Filmmakers that are very much willing to challenge and experiment with the medium. This is not a crowd-rousing film, the Coens want something other than your adrenaline, they want your angst.

And with this film they get it.

There’s something gratifying in knowing that three decades after this film duo first burst onto the scene, that they remain, in dangerous times, still among our most insightful and dangerous filmmakers.

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is accomplished film-making, that will stay with you long after you have left the theater; and will only grow in esteem, the more you watch it, and the more you succumb to its structure and its strengths. Highly recommended!

One neat side note: Long before the book was ever optioned for a movie, and of course before the Coens were attached, a reviewer wrote the following about Cormac McCarthy’s book:

“Cormac McCarthy’s latest novel, “No Country for Old Men,” gets off to a riveting start as a sort of new wave, hard-boiled Western: Imagine the Coen brothers doing a self-conscious riff on Sam Peckinpah and filming a fast, violent story about a stone-cold killer, a small-town sheriff and an average Joe who stumbles across a leather case filled with more than $2 million in hot drug money.”-
-No Country For Old Men
Fiction. By Cormac McCarthy 309 pages. $24.95. Alfred A. Knopf.
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani
Published INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE -WEDNESDAY, JULY 20, 2005


Wow Ms. Kakutani was evidently dead-on, or maybe her review got some producers thinking. :). Just thought that was nifty.