Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: August 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Mohawk Memoirs: Mullets, Machine Guns, and Mayhem!

by "Rooster" Clayborne

When I, the Rooster, first got wind that a storm from Mount Olympus was brewing, I shuddered with trepidation. One of the mightiest among the pantheon of 80s movie stars decided the time was right to descend upon mortal men in a thunderous clamor to once again remind us what we've been missing since the decade that brought Die Hard, Commando, and Rambo: First Blood Part II—an action flick with real action stars. My concern was due to the fact that it was Sylvester Stallone who was leading the charge. Nothing against Sly. Quite the contrary. During his heyday, he was among many action heroes I admired. What I feared the most was what my reaction would be to his latest film The Expendables.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Movie Review: Mesrine: Killer Instinct (L'instinct de mort) (2008)

by Tony Dayoub

Opening today in limited release throughout the U.S., Mesrine: Killer Instinct is a star vehicle showcasing the talents of its leading man, Vincent Cassel. Although quite well-known internationally, particularly for his lead roles in Irreversible and La Haine (oh yeah... and he's married to one of the most beautiful women in the world), domestically he's had to settle for character parts in films like Eastern Promises, and the Ocean's franchise. Being that Mesrine feels more like an American gangster flick than some of the notable Gallic ones, this might be the best chance for the talented Cassel to finally cross over big.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Flying Leathernecks (1951) and Ray's Surrender to Conformity

by Tony Dayoub

Another aviation picture from billionaire Howard Hughes, Flying Leathernecks is also one of the stranger offerings directed by Nicholas Ray. Set during World War II's Battle of Guadalcanal, it essentially boils down to a two-hander pitting the stalwart John Wayne against the pugnacious Robert Ryan. Given its use of an incredible amount of actual war footage, I'm assuming the story was built around the footage used (especially with such unique images as a pilot bailing out of a downed aircraft). So it's funny to think of a maverick like Ray having to conform to all of these elements—a notoriously demanding eccentric as his producer, an equally iconic star who no doubt had demands of his own, and the limitations demanded by such specific footage—in order to complete the war movie.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Mohawk Memoirs: 3-D Movies! An Ocular Treat?

by "Rooster" Clayborne

Ever since I made the perilous decision to shave my shag of hair into a single swath of mohawk, I, the Rooster, have somehow further alienated myself from my adoring wife, Maggie. She still can't quite fathom why I—a man in his late thirties who is presently unemployed, and father to a four-year-old daughter—would do such a seemingly foolhardy thing as to transform myself into the image of Mr. T. Rather than getting into protracted discussions with Maggie about how having a mohawk will complicate my job-seeking prospects, I've been spending a lot more time with the one person who doesn't cower with embarrassment when seen with me in public—my intrepid and unabashed daughter, Paula. The two of us have been spending quality time together by going to the movies. In an effort to heighten Paula's movie-viewing experience, I've been paying a little more in admission so she could wear the over-sized 3-D glasses that obviously come in only one size—adult.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Blu-ray Review: Black Orpheus (Orfeu negro) (1959)

by Tony Dayoub

Sometimes our intellectual sophistication can get in the way of enjoying an entertaining film on the uncomplicated level of "pure cinema." This conflict is more pronounced when a movie with a tinge of social realism could be tagged as profoundly naive, as is the case of Criterion's Blu-ray release this week, Black Orpheus (Orfeu negro). However, reframe the film as a musical, one driven by the burgeoning sounds of the Bossa nova and samba, and one's perspective on Black Orpheus might shift rather mightily.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Why It's Been So Quiet Around Here...

by Tony Dayoub

Facebook friends excepted, readers wondering why I've been scarce since Wednesday can probably get a clue as to what I'm up to from the picture above.

I'll be back home on Monday, and should have a review up soon after for Criterion's gorgeous Black Orpheus remaster. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Movie Review: The Expendables (2010)

by Tony Dayoub

The finale of The Expendables, which I won't reveal here, is as foregone as the fact that I was going to like the film. As I warned some friends early on, director/star Sylvester Stallone would have to jump off the screen and spit in my face for me to give this one a bad review. And even then... well, that's my attempt at a full disclosure regarding what kind of review this is. Regardless of the major missteps he has taken with some frequency in his career, I can't help but admire the man.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Patricia Neal

by Tony Dayoub

A pile of tragedies plagued this grande dame of stage and screen throughout her life including a series of three strokes which nearly killed her at the age of 39 and a marriage that ended with her husband and her friend's adulterous betrayal. So one could be forgiven for thinking if the overwhelming adversity informed the world-weariness of her Oscar-winning role as Alma in Hud (1963). But Patricia Neal hadn't yet encountered some of her misfortune when she received kudos for this classic performance.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Two from Criterion: Louie Bluie (1985) and The Secret of the Grain (La graine et le mulet) (2007)

by Tony Dayoub

Bowing on DVD Tuesday are two documentaries by director Terry Zwigoff (Ghost World). One of them is Crumb (1994), the widely seen movie about well known underground artist Robert Crumb and his gonzo family. The other (sporting a cover by Crumb) is Zwigoff's first film, Louie Bluie, a one-hour look at unsung blues musician Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong, a real pleasure to watch. I can count on one hand the number of times I've watched a film all the way through then immediately watched it again, and viewing this doc is one of those times.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cronenberg Blogathon

by Tony Dayoub

I would like to invite anyone and everyone to participate in my second annual Labor Day blogathon running September 6 - 12. Last year's De Palma Blogathon was such a resounding success, I hope to make this an annual tradition, a transition from the commercial summer movie season into the start of the (hopefully) art-centered fall season. This year's featured director is David Cronenberg. The Canadian auteur has evolved quite a bit from his early days pioneering the "body horror" subgenre to become a recognized auteur focused more on the turmoil within.