Thursday, July 31, 2008

Movie Review: True Grit (1969)

When her father is gunned down, little Mattie Ross (played wonderfully by Kim Darby) solicits the help of a man with True Grit. A tough son of a gun rough enough to get her the justice she craves. She finds a drunken, fat, old, one-eyed Marshall by the name of Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) to hunt down the perpetrator instead. But he has reservations about helping a kid like her.

When it becomes clear that her father's killer, Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey), is running with Lucky Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall), a man Rooster's had his good eye on for a while, the old drunk is eager to get her man. Along for the ride is a Texas Ranger named La Boeuf (Glen Campbell), who is looking at a very fine purse for taking Chaney back to face justice back home.

John Wayne
Buy at

The beauty of this film is in the dialogue. Darby's performance as a tough-talking young girl, carrying about her dead daddy's gun and the name of her family's lawyer as a sword is perfectly matched against John Wayne's tough Marshall and Campbell's Ranger.

True Grit is two hours of excellent entertainment that explodes into one of the more excellent climaxes (so far as in the Ned Pepper subplot, I mean) in movie history. There is nothing like watching The Duke riding head-long, four against one, hell-bent for justice.

While this is one of Glen Campbell's earliest roles, he handles the part okay, if a little off and a little stiff at times. The only other problem I had was too few scenes with the badass Robert Duvall. I love Duvall, but think his character could have had a few more minutes to be evil.

Wayne's performance is excellent as the grumpy old drunk. The more of his films I see, the more used to seeing his presence I become. I think it's what made him an icon. I remember being sort of off-put the first time I really saw him act. (I'm actually embarrassed I hadn't seen more of his stuff back when I was a kid. Westerns were never really my thing until after the all-night movie runs my brother and I would sit through had long passed us by.) This is John Wayne? I asked myself. He seems so different. But after a while it hits. There hasn't been a star of his caliber in thirty years. There have been great actors since surely, but not someone who made a picture something so special. Wayne made a picture an event.

True Grit is one such film.

For its Genre/Era/X: 5/5.
Overall: 5/5.

Look for a very young Dennis Hopper half-way through.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Warmer Days Ahead

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Movie Review: Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007)


It seems like Rob Zombie had a couple of choices here in his 2007 remake, and what we are left with is a mash-up of three movies. You have the little nut goes ape first part and gets therapy beginning, a condensed remake of John Carpenter's original middle, and a kind of thrilling climax.

The biggest problem here is all the potential that went to waste.

This could have easily been another take on the slasher flick without all the "Halloween" bits. The origin parts had a helluva lot of potential if it had nothing to do with Michael Myers.

It could have been a complete remake of the greatest horror flick ever. Instead, by condensing a 90 minute movie into forty minutes, Zombie manages to strip all of the dread from the guts of the original.

All that said, Myers is as badass as ever, though the origin story kind of makes him too human for us to really be even close to chilled as in the original.

But like many things, there are worse ways to spend two hours.

One of the best parts of the movie is the cast. The young Myers is played well by Daeg Faerch. And a ton of Zombie regulars show up to fill holes in the uneven result. Brad Dourif, Malcolm McDowell, and Sheri Moon Zombie highlight the cast.

Just like Zach Snyder's "Dawn of the Dead" remake, I think a few changes of script could have helped to separate the name from the brand.

For the record, Snyder's "Dawn" is pretty awesome.

For its Genre/Era/X: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"The Last Page"

"The Last Page," a poem, appears in the summer issue (#11) of Words-Myth. Graham Burchell edits this quarterly journal of poetry. Check them out!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Timewaster Fridays Presents:

She Wants Revenge.

I'd never heard of this group until I was thumbing around the new digital channels in the area and saw an international PBS station showing videos. PBS 23.3, if anyone reading this is in the Richmond Area. Anyway, they played the video for the song "True Romance." I thought the video was a pretty cool idea, and seeing it led me to searching them out.

Their Website is flashy, but if you head over there, click A/V, and you can see videos for a few of their singles. Plus, the MP3s for some cool music are streamed in the same location.

Judging by the # of views on youtube, I feel old and out of touch.

And I am.

Just listen to it and waste twenty minutes already.


Really, jeez.

Good stuff.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Movie Review: 300 (2007)

300 (2007) is the story of the battle at Thermopolaye as revamped by Frank Miller's and Lynn Varley's graphic novel and again by Director Zack Snyder. Gerard Butler stars as King Leonidas, ruler of Sparta, who decides against the wishes of both the senate and the old religious sect to march three hundred of his best men into the mountain pass at Thermopolaye to face down the giant beast that is the Persian army.

Led by the power drunk madman Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), who fashions himself a god-king over all of the Persian Empire, the Persians are determined to take over the world. Through forced slavery, war, murder, mayhem, the Persian Empire moved swiftly from Asia toward the Atlantic ocean devouring the land as they marched.

Teamed with a small contingent of fellow Greeks, the 300 Spartans march into the hot gates of hell, a strategic battleground that would stifle any army, to defend their homeland from the vast Persian army.

Based primarily on the comic, 300 is painstakingly faithful to Frank Miller's vision. Many images in the film are actually transferred from the frames of the comic series itself. Here present are also the many themes (honor, freedom, defense of the homeland, sacrifice, and heroism) that for one reason or another come as a big breath of fresh air over the other kind of stories Hollywood has told us in thirty years.

Violent, visually stunning, and physically exciting, 300 works as pure entertainment with a message about sacrifice and honor that has been missed. The special effects are top-notch, the acting is good, especially from Butler and, Lena Headey, who plays Queen Gorgo, and the cinematography is excellent.

Filmed in the fashion of a graphic novel, 300 is beautiful to watch. Each shot has been rendered with an artistic touch, and under Zack Snyder's careful direction, delivers more than just a film. It delivers an experience.

After 2004's Dawn of the Dead "remake" Snyder is quickly proving that he has the makeup of a talented storyteller and should continue to impress for a long time.

For Its Genre/Era/X: 5/5
Overall: 4/5

Sunday, July 13, 2008

"In The Days When Blocks Were For Tires. . ."

"In The Days When Blocks Were For Tires, And The Evenings Chose A Sideways Approach," a poem, appears in the current issue of Southern Fried Weirdness. TJ McIntyre edits this journal. Check it out!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Movie Review: Rescue Dawn (2006)

Christian Bale stars as Dieter Dengler, in "Rescue Dawn," Werner Herzog's powerful POW film set in the early stages of the Vietnam War. Flying a secret mission into Laos, Dengler's aircraft gets shot down and he gets captured, tortured, and imprisoned by a Laotian squad of a-holes. From there, it is a battle to survive, a battle to thrive, a battle to get the hell out of dodge.

Bale shines as Dengler, a german-born man whose dream in life was to fly airplanes, and who got his chance with the American Armed Forces. Bale is one of the most talented actors working today--from his performances in American Psycho, The Prestige, and his brilliant revamped Bruce Wayne in the newest Batman Pictures (fingers crossed for the Dark Knight), Bale is proving himself to be one hell of a persona on-screen. And he does not disappoint here.

Steve Zahn, a funny actor I first noticed in SubUrbia, a film adaption of the great Eric Bogosian's play of the same name, turns in a solid dramatic performance as one of the fellow American POWs Dengler shares hell with in Laos.

Jeremy Davies turns in a great performance as Gene. *Even if history was rewritten to set up more obstacles for tension using Gene as a conduit, the acting here is top notch in so many ways.

A surprisingly quiet film, this is not a rehash of Steve McQueen's epic "The Great Escape." It's a rather beautiful story of keeping hope alive in the harshest of territories. Often times sad, often times inspirational, "Rescue Dawn" is two hours of cinema that will stay with you.

*There has been some talk of changing history to create tension, and while it would be nice to know some truth, the performances by the three leads, and the story itself, are too great for that to be a bother. Some say the same thing about Braveheart and go out of their way to destroy that awesome movie. Sometimes you just have to take the elements of story with a grain of Mrs. Dash.

For its Genre/Era/X: 5/5
Overall: 4/5

Friday, July 4, 2008

Timewaster Fridays Presents:

I was going through some old downloads of "underground" metal -- stuff I found on Encyclopedia Metallum, and I played An Oath Sworn In Hell, a pretty badass song by a group called Hammers of Misfortune.

Anyway, googled around, saw a youtubed video of a live performance of that song, the sound was kinda meh, saw today's feature in one of the side-bars, and immediately fell off-kilter.

The artist's name is Jesse Quatro.
Very haunting and very beautiful.


July 4th: Fireworks and Hotdogs and Something They Call Freedom

Here's my Memorial Day photo of the flag (miniature, of course--but hey, Made In America for a change).

Can't find a flag and forgot to bring along my usb cable/card reader on this trip. O' well.

Have a nice holiday.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Note on the Return of Movie Reviews

They are briefer.

They will still be every Thursday.

My ratings will change to x/5 to illustrate my affection better.
The old ratings were too positive to really describe my feelings well.

Meh= 1
Okay = 2
Really Good = 3
Great = 4
Awesome = 5


1 = Crap
2 = Meh
3 = Okay
4 = Pretty Damn Good
5 = If it's between watching this and saving your friend's life, your friend will probably wait for you in Heaven or Hell (wherever they end up).

The only movies the briefer reviews may change for will be some of my favorites. Hell, if I ever seriously review OUATITW, it'll be like seven thousand words on the greatness of that movie.

Movie Review: Click (2006)

Click is the story of Michael Newman (Adam Sandler), a man consumed with his job, who goes out one night looking for a universal remote to make his life run smoother, and who finds Christopher Walken and his workshop instead (at the Beyond part of a Bed, Bath & Beyond).

Walken gives him a remote that can stop time, fast forward it, pause, etc. etc. It does everything we thought it could do when we were kids (The VCR Generation). Michael becomes consumed with its use, skipping out on arguments, getting stuck in traffic, waiting for a promotion, etc. Then, as the years fly by without much input from himself, Michael realizes he's made a big mistake.

The most surprising element of Click is the touching quality of it. When it begins, you think it's gonna be like another Happy Gilmore-type Sandler comedy--but then it twists and hits you in the guts with a ball peen hammer.

It becomes a story about family, about love, about being there through all the boring or painful parts so you can experience all the good that is in life.

A very touching movie (and the comedy is pretty good too), Click is worth the time to sit down and enjoy it with loved ones. It's like a later Hughes film, if he still got/wanted work. Think of Click as a watered down Planes, Trains & Automobiles (without all the cross-country traveling or buddy-picture bickering, or the complete greatness, but seriously--add about a quart of water).

The evolution of Adam Sandler continues in this sentimental comedy released in 2006. I've been a fan of Sandler's since his earliest days on SNL, enjoying both his amateurish characters and especially his delivery, and this film delivers him into a more mature position in his career. Good stuff.

Kate Beckinsale guest stars.

For its Era/Genre/X: 4/5
Overall: 3/5

Photos obtained from
Promotional poster from wiki.
I'm Fair Using these pics to illustrate the review of the film.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Four Poems

"Broken Subplot In The Scheme Of John," "This Black Fear," "That New Car Smell," and "The Industry After The IPO," appear in the July issue of Underground Voices. This is my second time appearing in this journal. C. Powell edits. Check them out!

Support A Starving Asshole