The Hudsucker Proxy (July 6th, 2016)
Directors: The Coen Brothers
Starring: Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Newman, and Bill Cobb
I recognize that the Coens are great, singular directors. No one really does what they do and the way they see cinema is very idiosyncratic. One only has to look at Miller’s Crossing and this movie to see how they do so. Cause these two movies are essentially their versions of the kind of movies Howard Hawks made. They do gangster movie and they do a screwball comedy, very much in that style of Hawks but so much weirder than what he could have even imagined. Miller’s Crossing is a movie where pretty much everybody knows where the others stand and still manages to surprise as they delve into the depths of darkness in people. The dialogue is very flowery and has the sounds of 1940s sort of dialogue, until you realize that the lingo and slang is all made up. Hudsucker is their version of Howard Hawks doing The Producers, with a business snatching up a big ole doofus in Robbins to take the fall for a stock loophole. But this one doesn’t even take pains to make itself seem like a realistic portrayal of life in the time. It’s not sci fi or an alternate version of the 40s like Wolfenstein where the Nazis took over or anything. But from the jump, there is definitely a presence or a “God In The Machine”, if you will, looking over the proceedings. There’s a hand guiding the characters into position to reach the ending they want, The Coens essentially making themselves presences in the movie and having two characters work as mediators for their wishes. The movie is pitched at such a different frequency than the prior 2 movies they did, sharing more in line with the zaniness of Raising Arizona but still having way more on the mind. They had grown so much since those first two movies, making them seem so quant in comparison to the highly ambitious and literate movies they would crank out. The cast here is all great. Robbins nails the Jimmy Stewart with a slight tinge of stupidty. Jennifer Jason Leigh goes all out with the working girl, His Girl Friday type character. She does the voice and just feels ripped right out of time. It’s especially bizarre, having had The Hateful Eight on in the background before I started this one. Newman is great as always, playing a more grizzled villain than he normally does and does it well. The story proceeds as you’d expect it, until it doesn’t and takes a very bizarre turn in the final act. But it’s not out of nowhere, as it’s kinda hinted at throughout the movie. Still, pretty wild. But before that, what keeps the movie going is the humor. It’s jam packed with wordplay and pratfalls, a much more innocent kind of humor. And maybe I’m a sick fuck, but who doesn’t laugh when Charles Durning gleefully flings himself out a 45th story window? It’s a great way to start the movie, letting you know right off the bat what the tone of the movie will be. Watching this movie, I also got a sense of nostalgia for the way their movies used to look. That old, backlot look that made it feel very old Hollywood. The sense of purposeful phoniness, a heightened sense of reality that played right in to their truly odd sensibility. I just wish they had one more in them like that just to have more gorgeous scenery to look at. At the end of the day, I think this is a real funny movie. It’s not the high minded stuff they get the most love for, but it’s really smart about how it plays stupid and then goes even deeper. It’s a damn good movie and one I can see growing with me over time.
Memoirs of An Invisible Man (July 10th, 2016)
Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Chevy Chase, Darryl Hannah, Sam Neil, and Michael McKean
For more, click here.
Lionheart (July 11th, 2016)
Director: Sheldon Lettich
Starring: Jean Claude Van Damme
It’s odd to be a fan of these goofy action movies with foreign stars with a lack of grace in the speaking department but all the grace in their ass kicking abilities and still come to one that doesn’t hook you as much as others. It’s a game of inches in these movies. This movie almost pushed me over the line. More so than other Van Damme movies. I think it’s due to the overload of undeserved sentiment. It wants to slather on the emotions and it kinda stops the movie from really getting into the muck of genre. The beginning is pretty great with Van Damme going AWOL from the French Foreign Legion while fighting his brothers in arms, escaping through the African Desert, stowing away on a ship to NYC, swimming to shore when he sees NYC, then immediately finding a bum fight ring and getting involved. This then sends him down the path of an illegal fighting ring. So basically they get him into another Kumite, just kicking ass in a structured format. But when they kick into gear with him fighting for his brothers family, it gets a little too sappy for me. And also, despite the fact that he’s doing all this for the noble intents, this may be the biggest asshole he’s ever played outside of The Expendables 2. The movie starts off with him as a real stuck up asshole and kicking some innocent mens asses, impaling ones hand to a pole in the process, is a weird way to introduce your hero. Also the relationship with the sister in law is bizarre. She blames Van Damme for the brother being in the drug world, but because Van Damme made the brother pin his first drug bust on him? So he was already in the game and yet it’s Van Dammes fault the brother stayed an unconscionable shitheel? It just struggling to make drama and it’s just so phony. The action is good and there’s a good bit of silliness involved. Like a fight with a kilt clad scotsman, or a fight with a metal head, or a fight in a pool for some reason. There’s the ridiculous black side kick, who we come across eating fried chicken while waiting for Van Damme at one point. The villain is some rich lady who wants to fuck Van Damme and put him to fight, but then has it set up that his odds in the final fight are so weighted in his favor that she can have the fight thrown. We get that this is her style, thanks to the sidekick, but also get the feeling that it’s due to the lack of Van Dammes Belgian thing going into her foreign waters? It lacks to brilliant simplicity of Bloodsport/Kickboxer or the decently executed emotions of Timecop or the iconic Woo flavored silliness of Hard Target. But it’s watchable, more so than other 90s action movies.
The Purge: Election Year (July 13th, 2016)
Director: James DeMonaco
Starring: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, and Joseph Julian Soria
For more, click here.
Ghostbusters (July 15th, 2016)
Director: Paul Feig
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones
For more, click here.